Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sports, a Good Thing

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We are back from vacation and a lovely one it was, with equal parts solitude and company, activity and leisure, familiarity and newness. The San Juans can't be beat for beachcombing, camping and hanging out with former Laestadians. Our last day culminated in 17 lbs of u-pick blueberries, a sizable quantity of which is staring at me as I write this, as if eager to be made into jam.

(Did you know Laestadius drafted his sermons with a quill and blueberry juice? Me neither.)

Before I get to work, I want to say something about sports. Obviously there is good and bad to be found in anything as broad and varied (and ancient, predating written history) as "sports." Unexposed in my impressionable years, I have little interest in professional sports, although I've been thrilled by a few Mariners games (not this season, alas), and I love watching the Olympic Games. My hubby feels pretty much the same. When we began our family, we wondered what role sports should play in our lives. His swimming, my yoga? Hiking, bicycling? Certainly we wanted our children to be active and healthy. With no family history to draw on, no relatives to consult, no prohibitions or expectations, we looked around to evaluate the case for kids' sports.


In the families we knew, both Laestadian and non, there were a few unfortunate kids whom we thought would have benefited from sports or some other time-consuming passion (science, chess, music, art) that would have kept them preoccupied and self-assured during those crazy middle school years. Sadly, drugs filled the void. Drugs offered both a pastime and an escape from their feelings of inferiority and separateness. Some are still whirling in that vortex. Among their parents, there is not one that doesn't regret not making sure their kids were kept busy after school.

Sports do keep you busy.

Among the children we knew who played sports, the sole downside was that one boy had been injured, several times, on a college football field.

So (in our admittedly small but nonetheless relevant sample) we saw, on the one hand, drugs and alienation, and on the other, a broken collar bone, a twisted ankle. None of the athletic children went on to play sports professionally. None seemed to suffer an excess of pride or aggression.

It was not hard to pick. Yes on sports in our family, but hold the football.

At their young ages our children have tried t-ball, baseball, soccer, tennis, martial arts, Irish dancing, ballet, swimming, basketball and gymnastics. They have played on leagues, in camps, and on the playground. Their coaches have been incredibly decent, teaching their own and our children important life skills along with the game.

Our kids are learning to win and lose gracefully, to listen to their bodies, to respect individual differences, to stretch their limits and compete against themselves. They are learning humility, the kind that knows the true measure of a person is character, not ability. They know that individuals are not equally gifted, but every person can progress with practice.

Given our experiences so far, I feel confident that there are many more advantages than disadvantages.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Studies indicate that children's involvement in sports helps them with schoolwork, improves health, and protects against smoking, drug use, and teen pregnancy.

RWB refers to a "beer league" or a "church league" but I have never encountered either. Maybe that's a Clark County thing. There are many leagues in these parts, but they are defined by the sport, location, and age or ability or gender of the participants. Adults have a zillion opportunities to get active, too. Why let the kids (and the spoiled overpaid multizillionaire pros) have all the fun?

I'm thinking about joining an amateur softball league, as I've learned the amazing satisfaction of a solid base hit. If the games include a celebratory beer afterward, so much the better. It feels so good to be free.

83 comments:

  1. The one "sport" that I would hesitate to join (or let my children join) is martial arts. Not because there is anything fundamentally evil or dangerous with the activity, but because of its close association with the false doctrines of eastern religion.

    Now if you were to point me to a martial arts class lacking the quasi-religious aspects, that might be something to consider.

    As I've said before, in any endeavor, it's not what you do but the spirit in which you do it that is evil or good.

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  2. Well, il coro, I take exception with your judgment (so Laestadian, if I dare say so) of Eastern religions as "false doctrine." I always wonder if anyone on this site (RWB included) ever asks God if their judgments and beliefs are correct, even for themselves, let alone for anyone else.
    Regarding sports (and my son did get pretty involved in one of the martial arts for a while, and it did him a lot of good, from my perspective): team sports were a complete bust for my son. Little Leage was awful (and boring), basketball he just didn't get, and soccer was downright "bad sportsmanship." When the boys lost a game, they spit on their palms and "slimed" their opponents as they passed them in what was supposed to be a "good will" gauntlet. The coaches, being so obsessed with building the little brats' self-esteem and being "supportive," did not even chastise them at all. I was horrified. I guess that was the end of that. They were mean to my son as well, when he let a goal thru. But cross-country, on the other hand, was incredibly wonderful. The kids were even supportive of the chubby kids who puffed in last. What a contrast! I vote for the freestyle / individual sports any day. MTH

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  3. Il coro, did you know in Clark Co. there is a Christian martial arts instructor/class?

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  4. All three of our children started their sports with swimming from about the age of six. They swam for the YMCA and other small clubs and had a blast. The teams were always super supportive of everyone on the team, and there was a great camaraderie between coaches, kids, and parents.

    One of our sons then got serious about baseball and played through high school. He always had good coaches and teammates, although I saw some of what was mentioned about coaches who thought winning was everything. I had a chat with a couple of them over the years and then they understood better. Had I ever seen a coach condoning the behavior described by Trails, I suspect I would have had a serious discussion with that coach and then the league.

    As a parent, I didn't just view the coaches as a babysitter. My wife and I were always part of the picture, supporting the team and coach, and helping them learn about sportsmanship. Second son learned from the get go that when the game was over and all of the kids had their soda and headed for home, he could always take the time to help the coach pick up the gear, and only then were we done. A few kids whined a bit if they didn't get to play their favorite position, but I made it clear that if he wanted to play, then he would play where the coach needed him, and take his turn riding the bench to let everyone play. He accepted that readily as a condition of playing, and at the end of one season one of the coaches even gave him a significant award for showing what little league was all about. The coach has passed away, but he still treasures that award and the reason behind it.

    Both boys then went into the martial arts seriously in college. There was no indication -- none, zip, zilch, nada -- of any religious tie to the sports. Oldest son retired as the WA/OR/ID NW region welterweight kickboxing beltholder.

    Second son has taught jiu jitsu for many years, and even did NHB (no holds barred) fighting for awhile. I tried to convince the boys that they should find something a little tamer, since at the level they are at, no matter how good you are, the other guy is going to hit you, and it is going to do damage. In the title fight for the kickboxing, oldest son put the reigning beltholder into the hospital in the second round. I think he may have finally got what I was saying, and he stopped fighting. These sports can be brutal, although some of the light/no contact versions are a great way to build confidence and get in great shape.

    Funny, the only sports injuries any of the kids experienced were both to our oldest son, who blew out his knee and damaged a shoulder -- breast stroking!

    Did the martial arts have any impact on their religious beliefs? Nah. Oldest son is a serious and committed Catholic. Second son has no interest in any kind of religion. Daughter is a committed Christian, although she is seeking the right place yet. God has his plan for each of them, and the sports haven't made a bit of difference.

    As for me, I played baseball (ok), ran track (sucked), basketball (marginally ok), and football (reasonably well) in high school. I loved football! Then I got serious about golf and got quite good at it. I never threw a club (and sent one of my boys home in the middle of a round because he did -- never happened again); did not curse; tried to win every match I was in but was not ever upset with my opponent if I lost; but I have to admit I quite often had a beer in the clubhouse after the round! Oh well. Never did anything about sports affect my religion. Actually, I see absolutely no connection between religion and sports -- and no, they are not a sin!

    Retrospectively, I think some of the poorest sportsmanship I ever witnessed was at some hockey games in BG -- and they were arranged games, and it was all OALC guys.

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  5. RWB here...

    Like I said before the sports is not the sin. It is the baggage that comes with ORGANIZED sports that is.

    All the good that comes from sports can certainly be had without it being in the organized format. Certainly many of you can and do say alot about faults of the OALC, but I'm sure you would agree that most are very hardworking, can function and excel in their work, are goal-oriented, and physically fit, etc....all benefits of sports whether in the organized realm or not.

    I see ORGANIZED sports, as a whole, as a worldy thing...and there is so much evidence to that end that it can't be ignored....therein lies the connection to our faith.

    For hp3's sake I thought about how the Bible teaches us (along with what we are taught in the living Christianity). While there is not a direct connection to sports I did find in 1 Timothy 4:8 "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."

    Also, being that I believe organized sports is a worldy thing: I believe that we must separate ourselves from this and other worldy things, but not separate ourselves totally from the world. This is according to John 17:14-15 which says: "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."

    Also, 1 Corinthians 5:10 which says "Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world."

    In my own experience and perception sports is about having fun. All the other supposed benefits of them in the organized fashion can either come from elsewhere in a Christians life or are not important enough to that life to participate.

    In my high school days organized sports were often the place where kids were first exposed to alcohol, drugs, and sex via unattended "team" parties. Some of the coaches and parents even purchased alcohol and provided the venue for such parties under the premise that if the kids were going to do it anyway they would at least not be totally unsupervised. I think I can teach my kids the things they would "need" to learn instead of exposing them to this kind of activity.

    In the so-called professional sports the main focus for most of the athletes is personal honor and big money. Most are not the role models they should be. The ones that are get buried in the media blitz surrounding the most provocative and sensational ones. These are the Michael Vicks, the Kobe Bryants, the Jose Cansecos I'm talking about. I would bet more people by far could rattle off the stats of the players jersey that they wear more readily than they could recite the Ten Commandments. So many worship sports, especially football. Their whole Sunday (and now a good portion of the week) is consumed by it. Is this idolatry. 1 John 5:21 says: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."

    It truly feels so good to be free in conscience. It feels so good to be free of all the cares and worries of this evermore vain world. It feels so good to be free of worry about whether something is right or wrong. Yes, it does feel good to be free in these ways..to have a foretaste of that Heavenly joy...there is no better feeling on this side.

    RWB

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  6. "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal." - Hannah More, English author and social reformer (1745 - 1833)

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  7. "Retrospectively, I think some of the poorest sportsmanship I ever witnessed was at some hockey games in BG -- and they were arranged games, and it was all OALC guys."

    I bet thats because they havent had any practice anywhere else, and they are 'unsupervised' but even if they were supervised the supervisors would be focusing on how organized it was, not on the poor sportsmanship attitudes. They should be just fine since its not been organized. Anyone ever hear that when people dont know whats going on or have clear rules and boundaries they get frustrated and that actually leads to more problems? Geeze, get over the "do good" list already.

    Also as a whole thier church doesnt admit diversity, doesnt have any method for dealing with unique thoughts except to ignore or ostersize them... they're doomed to fail.

    So where else CAN we find all the good things we can find in sports? What other UNORGANIZED things help with those things? Ummmmm... I cant think of any. Whats the difference between organized and unorganized? Someone is in charge? If there are rules and goals?

    Lets all turn together to song 123.
    Why is vollyball ok?
    Dont keep score?

    Im at a total loss here.

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  8. RWB here...

    Ok hp3...According to what you write and if you really are that way then you are stronger than most. You are a better example than most. Your understanding is clearer than most. You don't need any church or preacher to tell you how to think, act, or believe...I get it! You can get all the answers on your own....I get it!

    I will submit to you that most people are not this way....that is why so many get sucked into the self honor, pride, high mindedness, idolatry, alcohol, drugs, etc. that plagues organized sports of all kinds at all levels. For me personally, I would have gotten sucked right into the intense competativeness and win-at-all-costs teaching of the coaches at my high school. I would have done whatever the coaches asked. I know from experience and from a good knowledge of my own tendencies and nature that the honor, pride, and glory would have gone straight to my head. This would have been my main focus...to excel at these sports. Of course, this is not what our main focus should be.

    I'm not saying everybody would be this way....but it would be hard not to get caught up in all that. It would be hard not to get caught up in the other activities associated with the sports teams. As it goes with teens, the goal is to fit in, to be cool, to go along with the crowd....a very easy age at which we can fall and stumble into many things that could separate us from our walk in faith. These same things that were so tempting to me during those teen years seem as nothing to me now and maybe you, hp3, are looking at it from that perspective. I really have no desire to play an organized sport now, but I can still see the dangers in them...much more now than before.

    Anon 7:39 pm (hmmmm, verbage and spelling would indicate hp3 as the likely poster)....get a grip on yourself....it isn't that big of an issue that you gotta lose your marbles over it!!!

    RWB

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  9. RWB, you're right about idolatry. We're all subject to it. If I may be so bold, the devil knows each of our weak spots, and what captivates us. Just because we aren't teens or into sports doesn't mean we aren't subject to idolatry or any of the the other gross sins. Love God above all else. That's the key. That keeps us centered and focused on the right things. God knows what's best for us, He knows our weaknesses and temptations. But we can have confidence of His unfailing love, and not live in fear.

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  10. Yes, anon 739 was me, Im not sure why it signed in as anon. And that was my point, its not that big of a deal! Its certainly not so big that it has to govern the thoughts of a whole church nationwide. And it has nothing to do with me being 'strong' I have my weaknesses, they are just not the same as yours and I resent that yours are made mine via a church system.

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  11. RWB scribed,

    "Like I said before the sports is not the sin. It is the baggage that comes with ORGANIZED sports that is."

    Why, if I wish to participate in organized sports, must I carry someone else's baggage?

    I could have just as well written "the OALC is not the sin. It is the baggage that comes with the organization OALC that is."

    OK, so that was a little inflammatory. But I'm just pointing out that you're writing off ALL of something because there's a few bad apples. And you know something? A lot of people have written off the OALC for a few bad apples.

    P.S. -- Don't idolize your affiliations.

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  12. Dear RWB:
    You have been posting here for quite some time now. Over the years, various oalcers have played peek-a-boo here but you have been the one to remain and post with some regularity. Hmmmm.........
    Something tells me that you have either been asked by the church leadership to monitor this site, or you asked them if you could and they approved. You could even be a preacher.
    I am sure whatever put you here, you enjoy the discussions, and others appreciate your input. However, it is very common for the church to appoint members to do things they otherwise would not have done, and in most cases, would not be appointed if it was known the person desired the position. Preaching, teaching Sunday school, leading the hymns, ushering, serving communion, trustees, reading Laestadias, custodial work at times (but mostly volunteer), chief cook for meals, other meal duties, delegates for church conventions, and running for Battle Ground School Board! There is probably more, but RWB: Don`t you think the children would be better served if someone looking out for them wanted to be on the school board? I`d put dollars to doughnuts that Cecil doesn`t serve on the school board out of passion or desire, just being dutiful. I cant help but wonder how much influence the preachers have on his votes. Maybe the oalc should start their own private school. After all, there are sports, dances, T.V., movies, sex education, drugs, music, and "worldly entertainment" right there in public schools that you send you kids to! You say you cant play competitive sports because of what is within the sports itself, but the public school system has much more "evil" than little league or cub scouts. Why is the line drawn where it is drawn?

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  13. RWB here...

    I got a good laugh at your surmisings about why I come here. If you have been reading my posts I have stated at various times why I come here. I assure you it is completely personal and any opinions or thoughts are my own. I do try to express the beliefs and teachings in the OALC to the best of my abilitiy, but I'm sure I have said the wrong things on occasion. Hopefully even through my poor understanding a few have been enlightened and/or corrected on what we really teach and believe.

    I know I'm not going to sway many of you to return to the truth of the living Christianity...in my opinion it is the best way and the easiest path to walk with less in our way...the one with those warnings, councils, and teachings about who, what, where, and how sin is. The one where the sole focus is our walk on this road to Heaven...very little worry or care of what the world has to offer or say.

    I really have attained a better understanding of why different people have left the OALC, including those in my own personal experience, by visiting and reading the posts here. I can more readily answer their questions. Many of you have similar questions. I can more readily defend against their accusations. I have seen many of the same misconceptions and twisted truths here as I have heard out of the mouths of those in my personal experience.

    School and organized sports are two different things in mind. I don't really have the time right now to spell them all out or add them all up or paint a picture for you...but I believe if you think about it you will understand why.

    RWB

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  14. Dear RWB,
    You say your church is the place of living Christianity. Well, I grew up in an offshoot of Laestadianism which thinks your branch is going to hell and that THEY are the only place of living Christianity. Who is right? You or them? Or... possibly ... neither? Let's not talk about all the other churches with similar claims.


    Here is why I left the Laestadian church: God led me away from it. I prayed earnestly that he would show me his way. If the Laestadians are right, then strengthen my faith, I prayed. If they're wrong, then help me find you. He sent me people all the time who truly had the Lord living in their hearts. They were bikers, reformed drug addicts, alcoholics, nice normal married couples, divorced people, an old guy who was slowly dying... And they all demonstrated the irresistable call of a loving God. Eventually I learned that God's church is not just one organization. God is much bigger than that, and his grace goes in many directions. Freedom comes not from avoiding sin, but in accepting Christ. You know when the astronauts take off and there's that huge burst of power that allows the ship to break free of earth's bonds? That's what accepting Christ is like.

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  15. "I have seen many of the same misconceptions and twisted truths here as I have heard out of the mouths of those in my personal experience."

    Im with 4eyes here on this one. Why do you keep discounting our experiences as misconceptions? I write about what I have seen, heard, thought, felt in my time at your church. Yet you claim what I say is a misconception of the church. You are insulting me; my heart, my mind.

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  16. "Freedom comes not from avoiding sin, but in accepting Christ."

    Mmmm, anonymous...very well said.

    And then this, "You know when the astronauts take off and there's that huge burst of power that allows the ship to break free of earth's bonds? That's what accepting Christ is like."

    Wow, I would not have thought of that description, but it fits for me, too!

    I think Norah said it better, but here are my thoughts in a slightly different context. When I read the endless nitpicking about this activity and that sin, all I can think of is that if we think that we have to do these things in order to be saved, we are, in essence, telling God that the sacrifice of His son was not sufficient. It is as if His grace were not enough, and that we have to add our works (following the laws, asking for forgiveness, etc.) to the death of Christ before it will be enough.

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  17. Cecil Schlecht doesnt want to be on the school board but is serving because his church told him to???????? If true, this is a rediculious. I am an outsider, and did not know of this so maybe rwb can shed some light on this for me Thanks.

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  18. I agree, anon 10:35. I think that is just silly -- or perhaps it's conspiracy theory. My grandfather served for many years on a school board and he was there because he believed so strongly in education, not because any church fathers asked him to be there.

    Dreaming up stuff like that serves no purpose.

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  19. I am not trying to convince you that you should have been able to play sports when you were young, nor that you should let your children play if you feel it is wrong for them.

    What I am asking is that you understand there is scriptural basis for you to accept that sports may not be a sin for others, and for you to also accept them -as Christians.

    Again, Paul said “the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him” I am going to also assume that by “not condemn” that should also mean there should be no actions that are condemning; such as gossiping about, shunning, ostracizing etc. You said you think that when one was not able to accept advice (from the preachers) this may happen.

    Do you see how this practice of judging sin that is not clearly defined in the bible as sin, is unGodly?

    Do you see how turning another man’s “advice” into LAW (for an individual or the entire congregation) is ignoring the gift of the Holy Spirit? (not following the advice is disobedience and cause for things to “not go well,” even to the point of gossiping and shunning) The preachers have put themselves into the position of the Holy Spirit’s job, then blame you if you feel God is speaking something different to your heart, accuse you of all sorts of things -like being self-serving & even claim its the devil speaking to you! That is so twisted and so un Godly, so unbiblical!

    I need to quote Jesus himself again, in John 14:16-17 "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you" and Romans 10:2-3 "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish thier own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."

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  20. Titus 3:9-11 "But avoid foolish controversies and henealogies and arguements and quarrals about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure such that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self condemned."

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  21. I think maybe the concern is not that by not doing x and y you will be saved, but that by doing x and y you are risking losing your faith.

    This is not to say that x and y will guarantee your damnation; just that x and y lead you away from Christ and could ultimately cause you to deny His salvation.

    Think on this: if you condemn someone for a particular act (other than blasphemy), then you have implied that Christ's work on the cross is not sufficient for salvation. At that point, YOU have denied Christ, and condemned yourself.

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  22. RWB here...

    Responses to some of the last few posts:

    As far as what or who in other branches are going to hell: The OALC does not preach that other churches and their members are going to hell....only that they don't have, teach, or preach the truthful and full Word of God. I know many of you will say that is the same thing...to me it is not. I think of it like this: If I needed to get from here to there, where ever here or there is, I would want to take the straight, direct, safest, easiest, route from here to there...for me (and I would hope for everyone) as related to my faith this is found in the OALC.

    I am not discounting your experiences as misconceptions...I am discounting misconceptions as misconceptions. For example look at some of the above posts in addition to what I just wrote above in this post. First look at how the school board member has been shown to be unwilling and appointed by the preachers...do any of you have first hand knowledge of this? Do you talk to this member? No you don't...one assumption or allegation gets layed down and then is it propagated and built upon by other posters....turning it into a completely different situation than it really is. Second, it is often stated that the OALC preaches that salvation is by way of doing this or that or not doing this or that....this is just not so, but to the outside reader that is what they would believe by reading here. I have explained this many times here and yet it is still posted that, for example, if you play sports your going to hell, or if you drink you are going to hell, or if you go to the movies you are going to hell....this is just not so. I don't know how to explain things any differently than I have already many times....you just don't get it and apparently many of you never did...you think it is one way and you refuse to see that it is not that way. Many continue to post things that are tweaked to back up their position and validate themselves...they seem plausible and truthful to the outside observer and reader and may even seem truthful to the writer, but as a current and longtime listener and follower of Gods Word and teachings in the OALC I can say I have a CURRENT and continuing knowledge of what is preached and taught at the OALC....most of you can't even come close to saying that.

    The quote from Titus seems to fit well for me right now...I am tired of battling what are misconceptions and outright lies about the OALC. I now realize that nothing I say will stop you from doing what you are doing and stick to the truth without twisting it. I don't say all of what is written here falls into these categories. Certainly I don't condemn anyone for what they post here...that is not my place. Also, there are many who post here who have NO first hand knowledge of what the OALC preaches and teaches....I would invite you to come and hear with your own ears and see with your own eyes.

    Forgive me if I have offended or harmed any of you in any way. I mean no harm to any...only that you would seek and apply HIS truth in all the things of this perishing world. May the Grace,Peace, and many Blessings of God be with you all.

    RWB

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  23. RWB said "If I needed to get from here to there, where ever here or there is, I would want to take the straight, direct, safest, easiest, route from here to there...for me (and I would hope for everyone) as related to my faith this is found in the OALC."


    RWB-I still don't understand why the OALC won't build a compound to keep its members shielded from "the world". You just stated you want the easiest way to heaven, so wouldn't this make it easier?

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  24. RWB- Its ironic that you think the Titus quote fits for you because the OALC'ers are known for majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors. I was not raised in the OALC but went to a service once just to see it for myself. The minister was talking about how his co-worker was listening to the radio at work and what a temptation that was for him, and then he started crying about it and asking for forgiveness. And this is the best thing he had to talk about when millions of people in the world are dying, and millions of children in war torn countries are being raised without parents. All I heard him talk about was how horrible he sinned, and it was very depressing. Where is the joy in that? Is that all life is? A horrible life with no joy because all their is is sin? He was only concerned about staying away from sin and has no concern for the rest of the world. All I could think about was how selfish this was. It made me sick to my stomach that they would try to portray their beliefs as following Jesus when their action and words are the exact opposite of what Jesus did when he was here. Think about it RWB - read the stories in the bible and see how Jesus ministered to all people - not just the OALC.

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  25. RWB,
    OK, I have finally lost all patience with you. You complain about people not listening to you. You complain that we have misconceptions, misunderstandings, we only think we have heard that, or we are just repeating something we heard third hand.

    I am going to repeat something I have said before, and I hope this time YOU listen. I was in the OALC for 40 years. With my own ears -- no third party interpretations here -- I have heard more than one "preacher" say clearly and with no ambiguity that people of other faiths -- particularily the Catholics, but others as well -- are going to hell. No misconceptions. No way to misunderstand. Clear English. Statements as clear as Catholics will burn in hell, and even people who belong to that other Finnish Lutheran church down the road are lost and in hell.

    I have heard those "preachers" say they wished that the non-OALC spouses sitting in front of them could repent so that they too could go to heaven. It does not take a genius to figure out that if you have to "repent" in order to gain heaven,(meaning join the OALC -- never mind if your own faith is already strong and founded on the salvation of Jesus Christ) then the opposite has to also be true -- if you don't "repent" you will not go to heaven. (that sounds to me like he just said the non-repenters are going to hell, even if he couched it in ambiguous language.) Or is that too much (mis)interpretation?

    Now take the blinders off and tell me how I can have a misconception about that? Since I have heard these kinds of things said in more than one locality and you claim you have never heard them, I assume you only hear what you choose to hear. Of course, when it is not your own family being sent to hell, it probably doesn't sound so bad, or he was just "reminding" someone in a loving way, eh? What a bucket of self righteous slop! By saying these things, you are only accusing us of lying, and that I will not brook.

    I think if you want to find the person suffering from misconceptions, you should look no further than your mirror.

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  26. Ooooo, cvow, I love it when you get your dander up. It makes for some stimulating reading.
    For myself, I cannot even read rwb's - well, I was going to say "self-righteous slop" but that might sound too judgmental, mightn't it?
    Actually, I think rwb is a loving soul who is only doing what we are all doing, trying to find his way through this world and this life and make his way back "home" to the "father." And I can just leave it at that. Many Trails

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  27. RWB-
    I challenge your next post to say very clearly that the church has no input on who runs for the school board in Battle Ground. Also that the church does not "decide" who would be a "good" candidate. I believe that no upstanding oalc member would run for school board in B.G. without church approval these days. You did not deny this yet.
    Are you a preacher?

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  28. RWB: Christianity isn't meant to be safe or easy. The Laestadians tend to bury their heads and ignore those outside their enclaves. And when Christ returns, he'll ask, "Where were you when I was hungry? Where were you when I was in prison? Where were you when I was sick?"

    Christianity is a challenge to get out of our little safe comfort zones. Never is our faith at risk more than when we hide in the safety of our own kind.

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  29. So... IF other churches "don't have, teach, or preach the truthful and full Word of God," but not going to hell, then where are they going?

    The OALC preaches (in my 25 years of attendance, and recent as-of- this-year visits) that THEY are the only ones that "have, teach, or preach the full word of God" and they are the "the straight, direct, safest, easiest, route from here to there" then what are the other churches and other routes?

    BTW Jesus NEVER said the route to heaven was safe or easy, but he DID say that the straitest and most direct route was through HIM, not any one church.

    And once again, you cannon lagitamately call our experiences lies... YOU are not listening.

    If an action (such as listening to the radio or playing sports) doesnt cause you to 'go to hell' but instead is preached to "take away your faith" what exactly is the difference? You said there is, so what is it? If you have no faith, where are you going; to heaven or hell?

    I can tell your posts are different during the beginning of the week than later in the week. Have you been advised to discontinue visiting this site? Have you had to ask forgiveness for questions we have aroused in you? Whenever we get to that point, you disappear or refuse to answer any further...

    You have not offended me as much as you have saddened me. I pray for your soul, that you will continue to read God's word (the bible) and seek HIS truth in all things.

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  30. I loved that: "Never is our faith at risk more than when we hide in the safety of our own kind." One could replace "faith" with "full participation in life" or even "salvation" (even tho I tend not to use that word, unlike most folks here).
    Of course, I suspect rwb and other oalcers would say that they do not "hide from the world" as they do attend public schools, work "in the world" etc, unlike the Amish. But it still is a brilliant statement, in my mind. MTH

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  31. Here is something that hasn't been addressed, as far as I can recall:

    RWB, how do you respond to those who have "died and gone to heaven" and then returned to Earth to tell us about it? I sat next to a young mother on a recent flight. I don't usually engage seatmeates in conversation, but her baby was cute and....she told me about taking care of her brother who had had a run-in with a train several years ago. No contest there. He was declared DOA but because he designated himself an organ donor, the EMTs kept him alive. He was in a coma for four months and was expected to remain that way for the rest of his existence. One day, for no apparent reason, he woke up, got out of bed (he was/is partially paralyzed due to head injuries), went to the table next to his roommates bed and drew a picture, using stick figures, of the railroad tracks, himself and a friend who was not injured, the helicopter what flew him to the hospital, and the word GOD. He had seen God. He had been to Heaven. She said her brother had been a drinker/smoker/swearer, not exactly what we would call a Model Christian. S, RWB, what do you make of THAT? SISU

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  32. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kd46bPz1_M

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  33. Netiquette, please: provide some kind of description, however, brief, when you post a link.

    The one above sends you to a video of Rick Warren (in a wild pineapple shirt) talking about the Gospel.

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  34. RWB states: "I am tired of battling what are misconceptions and outright lies about the OALC. I now realize that nothing I say will stop you from doing what you are doing and stick to the truth without twisting it."

    Then immedietly continues to state:

    "I don't say all of what is written here falls into these categories. Certainly I don't condemn anyone for what they post here...that is not my place."

    Those two statements are contradictory to each other.

    The words "out right lies," and "twisting the truth" deny our experiences and ARE condemning. You are not accepting that we have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a brain to know what we hear and see. But more importantly, that we try to understand what we hear and see with a heart that seeks God in all things.

    You are also not accepting that we are wanting to follow God and are capable of having the Holy Spirit's discernment for things around us. You and your church are not the only ones blessed with that, but even a blessed gift can be misused to condemn others who are different than you in weaknesses, but alike in Christ and striving to serve and glorify Him.

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  35. RWB: Coming to the knowledge of the Truth is the work of the Holy Spirit. God uses the mouths of His people (in many churches) to proclaim it. Nothing anyone of us says stops another person. This frees us all from guilt concerning others. We speak the Truth in love and let God do the work. I am saddened when I read what you write because you could so easily be one of my loved ones. I wish you peace and joy in Christ.

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  36. I am still waiting for rwb to respond about the school board, although I am not holding my breath.

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  37. Yes RWB could easily be a relative of mine too... In fact, I feel we could be siblings who have grown up and apart, specifically a brother I miss so very, very much, to tears. I have such a love and longing to just share a Christ filled life together with him, and all these discussions can be so frustrating because they seem to just get in the way of love. They seem to be so irrelevant in light of Christ's love for both of us, and the life we could be sharing.

    The brother I am referring to will not even speak to me, though I have tried several times, as recently as this summer again. He asked me if I believe as we were raised, and I tell him I believe in Christ and the bible. He says, thats not what I asked you. I tell him I no longer believe in the many additions the church has added to the bible. He then says he has no use for me, that associating with me does not benifit him and he will not expose his children to me, my children and our worldly ways. I cried and told him I could still respect his beliefs and I was not asking him to do anything that he considered a sin. He said we would expose his children to our different ideas and he wouldnt have it. He now considers me of the world, the enemy, in unbelief.

    His wife asked me how to answer their children when they ask if I am a Christian. I told her Christ loves me and I love him and have given my life to follow him. She then asked me if I believe the same as when I "made repentance" I told her no, I no longer believe in the extra traditions added to the bible. She said she cannot tell the children yes, I am a Christian, because then they want to know why I do things differently than they do, and she cannot open the door to thier questions.

    Our conversations are no longer about Christ, but about the OALC church, and I often cry over the loss of our relationship. It is even now very difficult for me to write this. But that is why I am so passionate about what is written in Gods word, and sometimes get so frustrated and angry, trying not to cry over such a silly arguement that has family seperated...

    I want to wrap him up in the biggest bear hug I can manage, and with tears streaming tell him how much I love him, how much Christ loves us both, how much I know he loves Christ, how much I love Christ, and how that is all that should matter.

    When Christ said he did not come to bring peace, but to set brother against brother, child against parent etc. I thought that meant it would seperate those who chose to follow him and those who didnt. I do not think Christ meant he would want to set against each other, two who are both trying to follow him.

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  38. Hp3, my heart goes out to you. I don't personally know any OALC people, but there are similarities in what RWB has written and how I was raised, and how I believed when I was younger and raising children. My kids are grown now, and there are many things I regret, even though I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. (we all do the best we can with what we know, don't we!). All I can say is that my "perfect" world was shattered, and God led me in a new and better way.

    I came across this passage on another site, and thought of you. Maybe it will be of help to you today. (I apologize for it being so long).

    By T. D. Jakes

    There are people who can walk away from you.
    And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk
    Away from you: let them walk.
    I don't want you to try to talk another person into staying with you,
    Loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you,
    Staying attached to you.
    I mean hang up the phone.
    When people can walk away from you let them walk.
    Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.
    The Bible said that, they came out from us that it might
    Be made manifest that they were not for us.
    For had they been of us, no doubt they
    Would have continued with us. [1 John 2:19]
    People leave you because they are not joined to you.
    And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay.
    Let them go.
    And it doesn't mean that they are a bad person it just means
    That their part in the story is over. And you've got
    To know when people's part in your story is over so that you
    Don't keep trying to raise the dead.
    You've got to know when it's dead.
    You've got to know when it's over. Let me tell you something.
    I've got the gift of good-bye. It's the tenth spiritual gift,
    I believe in good-bye. It's not that I'm hateful,
    it's that I'm faithful, and I know whatever God
    Means for me to have He'll give it to me.
    And if it takes too much sweat I don't need it.
    Stop begging people to stay.
    Let them go!!
    If you are holding on to something that doesn't belong to you
    And was never intended for your life, then you need to......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you are holding on to past hurts and pains ......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If someone can't treat you right, love you back,
    And see your worth.....
    LET IT GO!!!
    If someone has angered you,
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets
    Your needs or talents
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you have a bad attitude.......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you're stuck in the past and God is trying to take
    You to a new level in Him........
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship.......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you keep trying to help someone who won't even
    Try to help themselves......
    LET IT GO!!!
    If you're feeling depressed and stressed .........
    LET IT GO!!!
    If there is a particular situation that you are so used to
    Handling yourself and God is saying
    "take your hands off of it," then you need to......
    LET IT GO!!!
    Let the past be the past. Forget the former things.
    GOD is doing a new thing for this New Year!
    LET IT GO!!!
    Get Right or Get Left .. Think about it, and then,
    LET IT GO!!!
    "The Battle is the Lord's!"

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  39. My heart also goes out to you HP3. Like Norah, my world was shattered (if it were not for that I would still be in the OALC) and God led me out as He put the pieces back together. I understand your pain. I have been there. Through it all I have learned to accept gratefully everything from the hand of a loving God and to hold everything that He gives me with an open hand. It all belongs to Him, I have it on loan until He comes back for me. It is His to retrieve whenever He sees fit. My charge is to make the best use of it for His honor and glory for all of my days. I pray you find some encouragement in these words. I can tell from your posting here that you are not without hope. Hope is an anchor for our souls.

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  40. It's hard, hp3. I've also lost some relationships and had others weaken. The best compromise that has worked for me has been to avoid talking about religion at all with those I love and instead just focus on the things we share in common, such as our love for each other. Talking religion or social justice too often just drove us even further apart, while limiting our relationship to the things we share has brought us closer together. I wish we could be on the same page, but I have come to accept that we will never be as close as we used to be and that I just have to live with what I've got. It's tough if your brother won't even give you that. Best wishes.

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  41. hp3, your post hits home, as I also have loved ones who shunned me.

    I hesitate to give any advice, but I found that ignoring the pain was not helpful; it arose in anger at random targets, often myself, masked as depression.

    If you can mourn that loss like the death it is, grieve, and yet be open to the lessons it contains, you may find yourself one day being illogically but profoundly thankful for EVERYthing that has happened in your life, including unjust rejection.

    This is where I now find myself now . . . and ironically, I feel closer to all my loved ones than ever before, a closeness not of words or ideas, or even shared time together, but of trust in each other's good intentions, however awkwardly they are expressed.

    My children are also the beneficiaries. They know that blood relatives are not the same as "family."

    As the Dalai Lama said, "Whoever shows you greatest kindness and comfort, they are your family."

    Thank you for sharing your experiences here.

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  42. I just don't get it. What does it hurt to go to your OALC family and church? Do you agree with every single thing your churches that you are in now teach? And if so, isn't there always a congregation that amongst themselves have different opinions and thoughts? Isn't your church just your body of Christ, your family, but your salvation still contingent on your relationship with Christ? I just don't understand. What does it HURT to go to the OALC and still be a part of your family and bless your parents who have only tried and sacrificed to give you a Christian Heritage??????? why all the division and pain........

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  43. I dont know why it has to hurt so much. For the most part, I dont think of it too much anymore, unless something triggers me; such as some of these conversations with RWB. (and yes, I am finding my emotions from my situation coming through here, who's isnt?)

    I have tried to find out why from those family members who have stayed, and RWB has voiced wanting to know why family members have left... perhaps a discussion on that could be benificial....

    Thank you Free and others for your concerns, but I am ok for the most part. Again, just when something makes me think of it, or when I have an occasion to encounter family again. And yes, even though it hurts when it comes up, I am still thankful it all happened because otherwise I wouldnt have been pushed to rely soley on God for my comfort :) and I probably wouldnt have been so interested in finding out the truth from God's perspective, and relying less on man. I know God can use all situations for His end good, and Im ok to let him, in fact relieved that He has it all under control :)

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  44. Oh, in my situation, my brother said it hurts his family because I expose them to my different ideas.

    One specific example is that I have a child from a previous, unmarried relationship. It was a poor choice on my part, one I have repented of and been forgiven for... but of course I still have my child, whom I wouldnt give up or trade for anything in the world. My ex and I get along great and our child has a great relationship with both of us. I have married now, and we still all get along great and even spend time together. The situation is what it is, and we all make the most of it. I think its pretty ideal compared to many divorces and seperations.

    Anyhow, since my child talks about his "other parent" around my brothers children, that is not acceptable, because then his children want to know what that means, and he just cant allow that can of worms to be opened. I told him I thought it was a perfect opportunity to discuss mistakes and forgiveness, but he disagrees. I believe his wife disagrees with him on this one, but of course she will not talk to him about it; he is the head of the household and she will do whatever he says without question, even if she things he is wrong.

    Another issue is our 6 year old daughter is very colorful and flamboyant; she knows to her very core she is Gods angel and loves to sing and dance for Him all the time. But, again, my brother thinks this is sinful and does not want my daughters joyful spirit around his daughter. Also, the colorful painted toenails are not going to have to be explained.

    What will happen when they go to school? In my experience, they will be told its sinful and those participating are not Christians, not believers, dont have the faith, are not going to the same place we are... Not explicitly said they are going to hell, but what exactly is the difference in all of the above and going to hell? Anyhow... MY experiences. For what they are worth to anyone.

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  45. I go to church with my toenails painted~ lol, and sometimes I even wear sandals (o: no one has called me on it, but I do get a lot of stares from the little girls. but, my husband thinks it's nice and likes me to do it for him. so what's a girl gonna do? (o:

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  46. As long as it doesnt interfere with, or detract from, your relationship with, and worship of, God, why not have some fun :)

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  47. "I told him I thought it was a perfect opportunity to discuss mistakes and forgiveness, but he disagrees."

    Hp3, I think it would be a good opportunity to model forgiveness, unconditional love, and moving on in life. Where would Abraham, Moses, even King David have been if God would not have allowed them to move on, and be used by Him!? God can take even our mistakes and use them for good. I've experienced that. It's the human story as it's been ever since the fall.

    Your experiences have brought about a wonderful, seeking and forgiving heart and spiritual maturity in you, IMHO. The rest of the story is what God is teaching your brother through all of this!

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  48. Hp3, As ol Bill says, I feel your pain!

    Christ said He would separate the believers fron the unbelievers. Your brother considers you an unbeliever. Why? Because the OALC teaches that anyone who leaves that church leaves Christ and is now of the world, an unbeliever.

    It really is as simple as that. Of course, knowing you from your posts, I believe you are a child of God, a believer. I don't think your brother is following Christ.
    Your brother follows the church and the preachers, as do many in the OALC. Do's and don'ts, outward appearances and social standing within the congregation are the goals.

    Sadly, it really is that simple!
    Gods blessing to you, HP3!

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  49. My experience has been that my family isn't interested in my ideas about faith or my beliefs since I left the church. I don't think they feel there is any point in discussing it because they believe that they are right and I am wrong. There's nowhere to go from there.

    If they entertain the possibility that I could be a Christian and yet not believe the way they do, then they have to entertain the thought that everything they believe might not be true. It's not happening, trust me. The only thing they would be interested in discussing with me regarding faith and Christianity would be my repentance and return to the church.

    I have accepted that this is where they stand, and we have whatever relationship we can have with that as its foundation. It is what it is. They are my family, and I love them. But we will never see eye to eye on faith. It's a slightly guarded standoff. No one wins: it's a draw.

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  50. Anon 3:14 wonders what does it hurt to just go to the OALC (or you could add LLC, FALC, etc) to keep family harmony even if you disagree with the beliefs.

    What would it hurt? ME! I could not be the person God created me to be if I did that. How can I sit in church every Sunday and listen to the lies. Its more than a minor issue I disagree with. Its mainly the exclusivism issue I have a problem with. I cannot pretend to be someone I am not, I cannot pretend to believe something I do not. I would voice my opinion, I wouldn't keep silent. Upon doing that, I would be bound and kicked out of the church because I would refuse to repent of that so called sin.
    I choose a church that I can be free to be myself, free to worship God and serve him and others in the way that HE wants me to. I may not agree with every issue in my current church now either, nor will I probably with any church. However, when the issue is "we are Gods only chosen people", is where I draw the line. I cannot go to any church that preaches you MUST attend our church in order to be saved. I cannot in good faith sit there and listen to that lie Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.

    Why am I not still in the LLC like my siblings? Why have I left? Because I believe God had other plans for me and I have to listen to him. I can't just for the sake of good family relations belong to that church. I have to follow what God wants for me, he is more important than my family.
    I have tried to be close to my family, tried to open up about faith. They close me out because I am not of their church. That isn't my problem. It hurts, but like Norah said, you LET IT GO! Your free!

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  51. Well said, Pretzel, well said. You must be true to God and yourself.

    I am extremely fortunate in this regard, because my immediate family accepts what I do and believe, and we even have some good, spirited discussions about the OALC versus other beliefs. My staunch OALC siblings have even remarked to me how fortunate we all were to be raised in a house where differences like this were accepted, where we socialized with friends from both within and without the OALC, and where anything other than that would have been arrogant and abhorrent.

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  52. Yes I try to model unconditional love, forgiveness and moving on in my life. But thats easier to do when I dont see him, very often or at all, and harder to do when Im on here trying to discuss things with someone like RWB, imagining he could be someone like my brother :p

    Although I do have to give RWB credit in that "he" has taken the time to participate in an initial discussion. I do regret that we have not progressed too far past that, but I do believe he stated his reasons for being here were to present a clearer understanding of the church, from his perspective, and understand why we left, not neccessarily to understand what we believe now and why. (My experiences mirror yours daisy)

    But I suppose it will always be hard when we want others to understand without being able to also try and undertand them. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." I have to admit Im not very good at that either; I assume I know where 'everyone' in the oalc stands because Ive been there and experienced it, I also assume they dont know where Im at and havent experienced it. I havent experienced all of what they have, and maybe they have experienced some things outside of the church. We havent really talked about that...

    What does IMHO mean?

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  53. Hp3, I didn't say that very well -- I meant that HE could use this as an opportunity to model those things to his own children... sorry about that! But we don't have any control over whether he chooses to do that or not...

    IMHO - in my humble opinion :-)

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  54. C-vow:
    Believe me- I am not dreaming this up and it is NOT conspiracy theory! I know this stuff is true and was trying to see if rwb would be straight with me. Re-read his post and you will see that he drove in circles and did not directly address it. I believe he would have strongly denied it by now if it was conspiracy theory. You wouldn`t doubt that it could be true, do you? Your father was an exception, as was a few others over the years.

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  55. Thanks Norah, that makes sense :)

    Also, I misunderstood anon 3:14 and pretzel's response makes more sense. I have never been a pacifier type of person, and that is not what Christ called us to be either. I would rather sacrifice myself for what is right and true in Christ. For anything less, or anything I find untrue to Christ, would be dishonoring him and I could not freely do that, could not live with myself, nor expect Christ to live with me.

    Im sorry I cant find the scriptural quotes for what Ive said above; I have read them, but Im still not very good at finding them again :p

    Yes cvow, you are indeed fortunate to have your family! I have dreamed of such dynamics, and have found them in other churches, but not in my blood family. But thats ok too, sad but ok, as it again has made me search for those fortunate family dynamics in Christ's family :)

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  56. I believe rwb turned into anon 3:14. HE is anonomously lurking here no doubt. Kinda like me.

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  57. when I have asked why so many outside of the OALC would not be saved, the reply is always that the path is a narrow one and that many who were living in dead faith will be turned away. I have met some that have never heard of the OALC though and I have to wonder how they could ALL be excluded. As an adult now, the people I have seen that go to churches that OALC have called dead faith seem to live like the rest of the world the rest of the week, so I then wonder again if this is why the gate is narrow. wondering how you have worked out these thoughts/or justified them in your new faith. thanks

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  58. Anon 2:32, here are some thoughts.. do some studies and reading on the 'narrow way'. It's found in Matthew 7:14 - read all of Matthew 7. Look up the references - where it's referred to in other parts of the Bible, such as Luke 13:24, and read that whole chapter. If you prayerfully do this, I believe you will begin to get a more complete picture of what this means. To me it is spiritual, and it means leaving everything behind to follow Jesus. How this is worked out in daily life looks different for every person - you are unique, you are not like others. Jesus speaks to you, personally. It's all about you. That is the starting point, and where God leads you, personally, will build your faith, because you've personally experienced it, it is then built on a rock, and it's unshakable.

    You're right - many Christians, and many Christian churches, don't seem different from the world. The world influences the church more than the church influences the world. There are many things we don't understand, but we can start with what is closest to us, and that is us :-) I continue to believe that true followers will always be in the minority, but we are never alone if we have Christ.

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  59. ...another passage to consider is Luke 18:18-27 - the rich young ruler. I don't believe the material riches are the question here, but the "self" which was even harder to give up, maybe even impossible.. What do you think....

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  60. I believe the narrow way is that the path to heaven is through Christ, him and only him. No good works on our part, no other person, faith or path but following him. I believe Jesus is the narrow way, he is the truth, the way and the life.

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  61. ... and there are indeed so few that can find and focus on simply Christ among all the religious traditions and beliefs that are out there (oalc included)... indeed few there are and will be that find that narrow road, of simply Christ and not so many other things piled on or substituted... and indeed many who think they have done things in His name or for Him will be turned away, and He will say "I knew you not"

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  62. anon 3:14 I wanted to answer your questions more specifically because I have been thinking of them for some reason.

    What does it hurt to go to my OALC family and church? Like Pretzel said, it hurts me because when I speak my ideas and different opinions I am outcast. Now, if I "come around" no one asks me how I have been, what I have been up to, and ESPECIALLY not what I think of anything. But it would be like asking one of them to go into "the world" and pretend they didnt belong to the OALC, to not speak up about thier beliefs that are considered strange to those outside of that church. Neither one of us would feel right sitting silently for the sake of "being accepted" or "getting along" In fact that would be considered "slow to speak of my faith" and "a sin to ask forgiveness for" So it hurts everyone when there is judgement and no open minds to see that we are all seeking to follow Christ.

    No I dont agree with every single thing taught in my church I attend now... The difference is, again, that I am not ignored, condemned, rejected etc. I am considered another fellow Christian, struggling to follow Christ, one who has the willingness and ability to think, pray, learn, contribute, and function as an individual (say a foot?) AND as part of the whole body of Christ. My OALC family has a different attitude towards me than that, as Ive explained above.

    Yes, there SHOULD be a congretation that amongst themselves have different opionions and thoughts, but that is not my experiences within the OALC. I have seen a lot of pride in thier perceived "one mindedness"

    Yes the church is the body of Christ and my family, and yes my salvation is still contigent on my relationship with Christ.... BUT the body does not say to the foot "I dont need you" or "you are not important" and that is what has been said to me. I am only important if I act like the "nose" But the foot should function as a foot, and the nose as a nose. The nose cannot expect the foot to be a nose... Thats what it feels like to me being in the OALC... Like I am a foot expected to function like a nose. (kind of wierd, but I remember that verse better with specifics :p)

    So I would LOVE to still be a part of my family, loved unconditionally, accepted and encouraged to be the wonderful me with my imperfections and gifts, just as God created me to be... I know my parents have tried to bless me and teach me. I love them for that. Dearly. I have not changed in how I feel for them. Im not sure what you mean by sacrificed? Christian Heritage?

    The division and pain have not been instigated by me... I have chosen to "leave" leave (stay away) because its too painful to "come around" I dont want to continue to be ignored and rejected, or loved conditionally "we would love to see you at church -THEN we will be able to get to know you better"

    Again, I dont know why there has to be all the division and pain....

    But I do know that God can use all for good, for His purposes, and I have learned so much about His great and wonderful love because I have been seeking for it so earnestly... something I may not have done if not for my experiences. In fact, the more resistance I ran into while expressing my "different opinions" the more fueled I was to pray and search for answers, which led to more questions, which led to more resistance... its been a vicious cycle of learning :p but one with lasting results deep in my soul that I could not trade or give up for anything in this world.

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  63. To anon who want to know "Why does it hurt to go to the OALC?". (or any branch)
    It hurts, because if the truth isn't being preached from the pulpit, it's CONFUSING, especially for the children. I won't bring my kids to hear a preacher, and then on the way home tell them which parts to dismiss. How could you bring a friend to a service like that? Or how do you get fed and uplifted?

    anotherALcer

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  64. What is this "dead faith" you speak of? What part of confessing that Jesus Christ is your saviour condemns you to eternal death? Or is it simply how you heard of it that makes the difference?

    There are some who would say that the truth is preached in only one particular Church A. If Joe, who goes to Church B, hears the salvation message from Fred of Church A, and Joe tells it to Sam who becomes a preacher in Church C, isn't there a pretty good chance that the truth is being preached in Church C? How is it that the Gospel has NO EFFECT outside the walls of Church A or the mouths of Church A members?

    Explain this to me, please.

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  65. I no longer attend the LLC, but I can answer your question because I believed that very thing, that the LLC was the only true church, the people in that church were the only disciples of Christ. We were the only ones in Gods kingdom.

    Why did I believe that? Because thats what I was taught since birth. And theres a few bible verses to "back it up". Which I now believe have been twisted to support the beliefs. Some of the verses are:

    Many are called, few are chosen. (so few people in the LLC compared to the whole population, so they must be right).

    The verse that states One God, one Lord, One faith.(they interpret one faith as being one group of people who believe the same doctrines) Where as I now believe one faith to mean faith in Christ, not Buddha, Science, Kabbalah, Muhammad, etc.

    The forgiveness of sins is huge. They preach they alone have the forgiveness of sins. Thats another whole issue.

    Dead faith is people who have faith in Christ but do not go to the LLC. Those people are lost, doomed to hell, not true followers of Christ in their minds.

    Again, its driven into your head since birth. Believe it, its true. Don't think with your carnal mind. Accept it, its Gods will. If you don't believe it, then YOU have a problem. You are just in sin.

    Sad, but true. Unfortunately there are many many churches other than the LLC and OALC that preach they are the only true Christians. Amish, some Baptists, some Church of Christ, cults, even some Lutherans I think and more that I'm not even aware of.
    I think its the sin of pride, the thinking that we alone are right, you are wrong. I can't think of any other reason why these churches would start preaching that. And just being taught since birth that its the truth.

    For example, you're taught since birth that an apple is really an orange, and that everyone in the "world" just thinks its an apple but they are wrong. Its an orange. Believe it, its true. Don't question it, its Gods will. So you grow up believing its an orange and you are right, all those other people are just wrong!

    Brainwashed??

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  66. Oh, the other verse I thought of was the one hp3 talked about when Christ will not accept everyone who says Lord, Lord. He says, "I never knew you".

    That verse was always quoted in the LLC as well. So in other words, 99.9% of the other people in this world who say Lord Lord will not be saved. God has just ignored them all when they have earnestly searched for him.

    I think what that verse is saying is that just because you go to church, follow the traditions, beliefs, etc doesn't mean squat if you don't KNOW Jesus. How do you know him or anyone? You have a relationship with him. Something I was never taught how to do in the LLC.

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  67. can you please tell me how you learned to know Him in a relationship sense?

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  68. Read the second chapter of James. There, it talks about faith, works, and "dead faith."

    At the same time, we are taught elsewhere that works do not save us, and the works are not the basis of our faith.

    This chapter, I believe, is taken backwards far too often. If you read it to mean that works are necessary for living faith, you cannot reconcile the above precepts. Rather, I believe it is saying that good works is the evidence of living faith. If someome preaches one thing and practices another, you can't be sure of his faith. But if he lives out his faith in his actions, then you can be pretty sure his faith is true and living.

    In other words, if you profess faith in Christ, but you don't have the heart of Christ, then your words are a lie and you have not faith.

    Anyway, that's my interpretation.

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  69. Yah, I agree il coro.

    How do you know Christ in a relationship sense?

    How do you get into a relationship with another person? Talking to them.

    Its the same with God, Prayer, reading the bible, going to church, giving your life to the Lord, allowing him control, asking him for forgiveness of sins, trusting him.

    Ask, you will receive. Knock, the door will be opened. Seek, you WILL find!

    To get over the LLC beliefs I talked to other pastors, read the bible and most of all talked to God and relied on him. Talk to him, he will listen. The more prayer your in, the more you'll get to know him. Also, allowing yourself to be silent and let him talk to you is important. When I submitted to him and trusted him above all is when I grew and started getting to know him. Its a gradual process and a growing process. But most of all, spend time with him in prayer. Quiet time, what our pastor calls it. Talk to him and allow him to talk to you.
    Its hard at first to know when he is speaking to you, but after lots of quiet time you'll start to know. Its the coolest thing ever! He is just so darn cool. Its awesome knowing him is all I can say!

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  70. I have a Q for any of you "Michaelsons" out there. (An unrelated Q: What did you guys call us OALCers?) Do you know the history of the Michaelson family? I met a guy whose grandfather was from the Heideman church and grandmother was a Michaelson. (I'd love to use names, but think I had better not.) He doesn't know if she was a Michaelson daughter or sister or what. The grandfather joined the Michaelson church and was thereafter estranged from his family. (Sound familiar?) When he died, his sister, a Heideman, came to the funeral and created quite a ruckus, praying over his body to save him from hell. (Anybody familiar with that belief?)
    This dissention apparently created a major aversion in the son of these people, who never educated his offspring in the family history. Just didn't talk about it. Does that also sound familiar?
    What's with this hatred, treating people whose religion is a close relative of your own as if they were the darkest heathens? Whew. I find it amazing, having gotten enough distance from this perverse mind-set. Now I am quite curious about my "estranged religious relatives," the Michaelsons and Heidemans. Any information would be welcome. Many Trails Home

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  71. I think the OALC might be the group I had heard of as "Esikoinens", but I'm not 100% sure.

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  72. Yea, Esikoinen is Finnish for "first born" I have heard. That would be the oalc group called that by the Heidaman group.

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  73. Mary Michaelson wrote an autobiography. She and her husband were influential in the early Federation. At least one of their descendants still preaches in Federation churches. I don't remember the title of the book, and it's probably out of print, but I'm sure someone from the Copper Country could find one somewhere. The Michaelson's are the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, also known as the Federation. They split with the Heidemans in the first half of the last century, and there are still many families that have close relatives in the other church from where they attend. There is a great deal of diversity from congregation to congregation in the Federation, ranging from OALC-like to almost mainstream Lutheran.

    The Heidemans are also known as the First Apostolic Lutheran Church. They split from the SRK/LLC about 1973. There were additional splits in recent years in this group.

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  74. anon 956: Getting to know God/Jesus in a relationship sense is still strange and foreign to me as it is a brand new, non oalc concept, but like pretzel said, I can relate it to a relationship with another person.

    You have to spend time with someone to get to know them better; get to know their heart. I spend a lot of time in prayer, speaking or writing as if Jesus were sitting directly in front of me. I give thanks, ask for help and guidance, etc.

    I also have spent a lot more time reading the bible, always starting with a prayer that God will be with me (via the Holy Spirit) and guide my searching and reading. I am wanting to know what God wants from me, what He cares about, what He thinks, what He feels, getting to know Him.

    Its funny because sometimes I will find a passage that I want to think more about, and I re-read it several times and think on it for days. Other times I will devour an entire chapter at once, because I am fascinated by the story and so caught up in what comes next.

    I also really like having quiet time; something that is difficult to do in our society and busy lifestyles. Its almost impossible to have time without people, radio, tv, etc somewhere in the background. But I believe this quiet time is crucial for hearing the soft, quiet voice of God.

    For me it happened more over time, getting used to the quiet, listening, praying, thinking... I keep a paper and pen nearby so that if I think of something I think I have to deal with and dont want to forget, I can write it down, and then forget about it for the moment :)

    But mostly, keep seeking. You will find. God promised you that :) And its beyond description to rest in Him, to feel cherished and forgiven forever.

    The closest oalc experience I can think of is like after asking forgiveness in church during meetings on the last day, but without the fear of losing it as soon as you leave, because He IS with you all the time, everywhere. That euphoric, ecstasy of all being perfect and right, of wanting nothing more than to be with Jesus and follow Him anywhere, but it lasts all the time, even through trials; not as intense of course, but its there underlying all the time, reassuring, comforting, loving, diciplining, guiding etc.) Its not always fun or easy, but its always love and its always there, and Im not afraid of losing it.

    Being a parent has helped me with that concept... I really, really dont like it when my kids misbehave and Im sorely displeased with them and have to give them consequences I wish I didnt have to give them, but I do it all because I love them and want what is best for them. We talk about what they did, what they could have done better and differently and we get to know each others hearts, our love for one another.

    I guess I had more to say about the "why" than the "how" but I hope that helps somewhat :)

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  75. I meant to add that being a parent and doing everything I can for my kids, even when I am angry with them, of course I dont lose my love for them, I would never dream of telling them they have fallen out of my graces and now are cast out forever unless they come crawling back. I relate God so much to a father figure and how I treat my kids and feel about them.

    And also being a parent, wanting to get to know my children as they grow; its so AMAZING, delightful, fascinating and exciting to see them develope into individuals with thier own likes and dislikes, thier own sense of humor, dreams and quirks, loving them for who they are, who God created them to be, seeing me in them, but they are not exactly me, but an extension of me. I love to encourage, guide and watch them in this process.

    How much more does God the Father feel about me? and each of his millions of children, everywhere in the world, through every era of history, past, present and future.

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  76. Thanks to Anon who gave info on the Michaelson family. If anyone has a copy of the autobiography, I would like to get / buy one for my friend. I have passed on this info, for starters. Thanks again.
    Incidentally, this guy is a youth pastor at a mainstream protestant church, is short and black-haired and very "Saami-looking." He did have testing (thru National Geographic?) and found that he is part Saami. His dad is quite a talented artist, working in wood, "carving" birds etc. MTH

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  77. BTW, it's spelled Mickelson, not Michaelson. Some of the older, now-gone ones may have spelled it -sen. I'd venture to guess that it was originally a Norwegian or Swedish spelling like Mikkelsen, and pronounced MIKK-el-sen, not MIKE-el-Son.

    To get really snitty, Michael is a Middle-Eastern name and properly pronounced as three syllables: MEEK-ha-El.

    No, I'm not a Mickelson.

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  78. Il Coro, the name is spelled Mickelsen. It has been this spelling since Andrew Mickelsen came to the U.S. from Norway, as a very young child, just after the turn of the last century. Andrew and Mary Mickelsen made a trip to Finland, Sweden, and Norway during the '50's. To the best of my recollection, Mary Mickelsen's book is titled, "The Northern Light" and is about this trip to Scandinavia and Finland. Mary Mickelsen wrote a second book, an autobiography, which was published not long before her death. I cannot recall the name of this book. I would think both might be available as used books from the Finnish American Heritage Center and Archives in Hancock, Michigan.

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  79. Sorry, I got confused because some of the ones around here spell it -son. Miriam Ylinemi (Spruce Grove, MN) compiled a history of the Federation, A Godly Heritage. Look for it here: http://www.sprucegrovechurch.org/agh_book.html.

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  80. That book is available at the ALC website - www.apostoliclutheran.org. Someone once said that Andrew Mickelsen set the tone for the ALC (Federation) as a 'big tent', and that is the reason for the diversity among the congregations.

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  81. (That is, Mary B Mickelsen's book is available at the ALC website).

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  82. Thanks for these links. I'm going to order both books. By the way, the Wikipedia article on Laestadianism does not mention the Michelsons, the ALC or the Federation. It seems to be predominantly about (or by) the Heideman branch, with all its subsequent schisms. MTH

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  83. Oops. I still got the spelling wrong: "Mickelson" - there you go. But seems like it should be "sen." Or even "ssen." MTH

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