The Struggle For Faith
Answering Objections About Our Role In Healing
G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.
A Struggle with Doubts & Fears -Ray’s story
Ray was tormented by unending doubts. He could never find peace in Christ. Most if not all Christians have times of a crises of faith. Is God real? Is He Just a figment of my imagination? Is Jesus really the Son of God? Did He really come out of that grave? Were the early disciples somehow fooled in believing that Jesus arose? Ray provides us an example of this struggle. He is a client of mine. I spend about one third of my time doing therapy and have done so since 1991. It isn't unusual at all for a Christian client to ask me theological questions. Ray knows how to ask questions. Following you will read several days of my E-mail interaction with Ray:
January 15th, Ray wrote:
“Hello again Mr. Bob, sorry for the misunderstanding of the Monday session (The misunderstanding was about something Ray stated to me that he really didn't mean to say. It was no problem with me but it was to Ray so he wanted to apologize. We worked that out with ease.). My brain has really been working since the last session. I have found lots of things that I don't like and some answer to some of them too."
"In honesty I really can't
understand what Jesus wants from me. I'm
really scared and think that to give myself completely to Him would mean
that my desires, dreams, hopes and all other human nature desires would
have to end. I can't see myself like that. I'm probably looking for Jesus
for the wrong reasons. I look for him to stop the pain (His struggle with
his faith.) so I can be
completely happy in this life. I don't think Jesus promised this in this life.
He promised it for the next life.
"I'm angry at Jesus and have
lost hope in Him. This is due to the stuff that happened to me when I was small.
"The "angry" me is due to the
fact that I seldom can recall something that I've done which I can say I'm
proud of. It is like I lived my life for others (Mom, dad, brother, wife, etc).
All the sudden I start doing little things for myself "boom". stop!
Everything has to be for Jesus.
"Here in my country people
and I mean all people use the sentence; "Thank God" like crazy. They will say
it so much. See, when I hear this I get angry!
I have a trigger for that. It is like, 'why do you always have to thank God and
not see that you are responsible for some of this too.' I mean this because
when something bad happens then they will say the opposite like: 'It was my
fault I didn't do what I had to'. My belief is that you thank God for everything
or for nothing at all. I don't want my faith depending on something that could happen
in this world. There are too many things that cannot be explained to put that
kind of pressure on God is not fair.
"I'm the most egotistical person
in the world. When I consider everything God has done
for me and then I put conditions on Him, come on.
"To tell the truth, I don't want
to think God is taking care of me in this life. That is too much pressure on my
faith and on Him. I would like to believe
that when this life is over He will save me from all these struggles and sufferings.
"When people say 'you are a sinner', uhh I hate that word. It is like I know but I'm trying not to be one. And, if the stuff in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is true, and you keep saying 'I'm a sinner' you are probably conditioning yourself to be a bigger one for the rest of life.
"I have a lot more stuff but will leave it for the session. Thanks and sorry for the long post."
The next day I received another email from Ray. It was brief:
"Hello Mr. Bob - I have three more things to add to the list for tomorrow's session:
"Do I deserve anything?
"Do I own anything?
"How could I distinguish the devil from my 'inner executive' (His own higher mental frames that all have.)?"
I sought to correct Ray’s belief from God’s Word. My purpose was to show him how many of his beliefs were not Scriptural. I wanted him to see the fallacy of his thinking. We have been engaged in this for several sessions. But, therapeutically, I was making little if any progress with his doubts.
Then in speaking with him last Thursday after him sending the questions, I realized that I was going about this totally in a wrong way. I fell into the trap of speaking from my own thoughts rather than listening to his hurt – if there is an unpardonable sin for a Therapist such as I claim to be, then that is it.
#2 above was the giveaway. He spoke of being angry at Jesus “due to stuff that happened when I was a child.” I thought we had completed the work on his earlier negative memories, but, no, that wasn’t true. I discovered a little 9 year old boy who was hurting deeply due to his father’s always hollering and yelling at him, always putting him down for what he either wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing correctly. This led Ray to develop a part of him whose self-image was in the basement. This “Bitter Root” came into existence from a father who failed Parenting 101.
New 19 year old part shows up.
As we started to give that little boy to the Lord Jesus, another part came to the front. This was the part that was older and that was driving all the doubts – asking all the complex questions such as, “How do I know that this picture in my head really represents Jesus but is really a figment of my own imagination?” We discovered this part to be 19 years old – an angry young man full of doubt and questioning anything of God or His Church.
Contributing significantly to Ray’s problem with God and the church was a great deal of exposure to hell fire and damnation preaching – preaching filled with do’s and don’ts, laws but no grace. Out of this experience, another “Bitter Root” came into existence. This was a “Bitter Root” of a 19 year old young man seriously questioning all the hypocrisy around him.
What was the difference from his controlling father and the God that he was hearing about in Church? None. Both were full of anger. Both had no compassion. Both were self-centered. As with all of us, Ray’s first impression of who God is came from his relationship with his father. Thus, Ray grew up with a warped view of the character of God and this was greatly enhanced by his exposure to the legalistic churches he attended. On top of all of this Ray's “friends" tried to “straighten” him out. No wonder Ray was having so much problem engaging in a personal, compassionate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This 19 year old knew that something was terribly wrong with what he was hearing from the preachers and teachers. This “Bitter Root” no doubt had roots that went back to the influence of his earthly father. I told Ray that regrettably there are some of us who have to come to terms with admitting that our parents were wrong in some areas. And, in many cases, sadly, the incorrect teaching of well-meaning parents can lead to a life of a lot of pain. That was Ray’s experience.
Giving the Little Ray to Jesus
When Ray attempted to give the 9 year old to Jesus, he couldn’t hold the picture of the little boy – he just slipped out of the picture. When this happens, you can bet that there is a “Bitter Root” blocking the person from giving the hurt and pain to Jesus and thus come to know His unconditional love; His compassion and His never ending sustaining presence. The objection came from the 19 year old. He just kept placing those doubts in Ray’s head about the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. I began talking to this 19 year old using his tone of voice; utilizing the same kind of language that he was using – doing this to establish and maintain rapport with the part.
As I read Ray’s email to you, I am sure you
felt the intense struggle with his faith that he has been with since a small
boy. Ray had been programmed to believe that God would give him a one time dynamic
experience that would fix everything. God would do it in an instance. Does that
sound familiar? Sure, it does for many of us who hold the the belief about the “born
again” experience is easily twisted to make it sound like that in one fell
swoop, God fixes everything wrong with us. Well, not so. For some few God will
give such an experience but for many of us faith and especially maturing in
faith comes with much struggle. I shared
“Therefore, my dearly-loved friends, as I have always found you obedient, labor earnestly with fear and trembling—not merely as though I were present with you, but much more now since I am absent from you—labor earnestly, I say, to make sure of your own salvation.”
You may hear that translated as “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This helped Ray for it affirmed to Ray that the New Testament gives testimony that there can be a lot of work when it comes to salvation. I stressed to Ray that “getting saved” is just the start. We then enter into sanctification which is a lifelong walk with the Lord.
Also, I began to share about the historicity of the Scriptures and how modern day archeology is providing us with more and more discoveries that substantiate the historicity of the Scriptures. I was “debating” with this 19 year old showing him in a kinder voice than I used before how he had been taught some things about the Bible that just weren’t true. And, then it happened, the adult Ray that I was speaking to came up with the clincher. Ray spoke of how the disciples who had gone back home after the Crucifixion all of a sudden began to preach the resurrected Lord. They did this in spite of much suffering that they endured for preaching the Gospel message of a Resurrected Lord. Not only is this true but there is a strong tradition which teaches us that many of them were put to death for their faith and their faithfulness in preaching it.
This worked. The 19 year old yielded and gave the adult Ray permission to give the little hurting, lonely, sad, depressed, discouraged nine year old to Jesus. With Jesus the nine year old found the unconditional love that he had been searching for all of his life.
We had originally scheduled the session to go one hour. But, we went 30 minutes over and praise the Lord that we did. I received this email from Ray yesterday, two days after the session:
Sent: Friday, January 18,
To: Bobby Bodenhamer
Subject: Thanks for the Therapy Session
...I have to say thank you for the therapy. I just read the book of Philippians. It gave me real comfort to know that some of us will have to work to get our salvation (feel the grace of God). I really felt like I was being overlooked and God did not care for me. Is great to tell some people that they need to look and show they really want Jesus in their life. This Part I really liked:
Philippians 2:14-18(New International Version)
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
Thank you. Keep in touch
Last evening I emailed Ray the above materials. I just received his reply. I am going to send him a copy of this entire sermon/article. Here is his wonderful reply:
Mr. Bob Reading this email almost made me cry. I have to say that I love you dearly and have seen the father figure everyone should have. I'm finding peace with God and myself. All over the place I can see people that are going and battling the same questions as I am. I have to work with your help on "what does Jesus really promise in this life and what is the promise for the next". I have to come to a conclusion on my roll in this life and why things happen. I have to be prepared for the questions people ask.
But really Mr. Bob I feel honor to be used in a sermon of the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Thanks, please give me a day where we can have our next session.
I immediately replied to Ray’s wonderful testimony:
Many thanks for your encouraging remarks. I rejoice that the Lord is using this message to encourage you. You better believe that you have a whole lot of company in asking the same kind of questions you ask. No doubt there are millions of Christians with inquiring minds asking those very same questions. Faith for most of us involves struggle. I have never met a perfect faith. And, I never will on this side of heaven. As long as we are in the flesh, Satan will have opportunity to send doubts our way. That is why the Scripture speaks of our putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11ff).
Discovering the Lord’s will in our lives can take time – sometimes it may take years.
But, foundationally we know what the Lord’s will for our lives is – it is to glorify Him. So long as we love the Lord and seek to put His will above our will, He will open those doors that He wishes for us to enter and He will lead us as to what His specific will may be. I love the thought that we are to believe that every day we are in God’s will and that no matter what that day has for us; we are under His caring, loving and gentle guidance.
Today is the Lord’s will for Ray.
Walking with the Lord is an exciting thing to do.
Follow up with Ray - more Biblical reframes:
Friday, January 25,
Hello Mr. Bob Just curious, you wrote:
"Now, as believers in a much Higher Power than our own selves, we subscribe to allowing God to run our mind-body system and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) allows us to do that far much better than we would normally."
If we as believers subscribe to God to run our mind-body, why would we need NLP? Or, is what you are trying to say is that, we as believers, we try to live our life under the suggestion that God has given us on how to live our life"
In other words Ross (NLP Trainer) and Bandler (co-founder of NLP) "manipulated" to get what they want. We "manipulate" to get what God wants:
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.". I know the word manipulate sounds harsh, but I think you get the picture.
I know the word manipulate is really harsh but I think you get what I mean.
You asked, “If we as believers subscribe to God to run our mind-body why would we need NLP.” Obviously, this is the same question that we have been dealing with all along, correct? Let me add some further questioning but specifically let's look at some Scriptural references that I believe address your question.
What about these questions:
Consider the Following:
I don’t heal anyone; however, there are hundreds of Christians all over this world who because of the knowledge that I gained through years of study and years of working with hundreds of clients found their bitter roots healed by the Lord Jesus. Were it not for my assisting them or someone else with similar abilities, they would carry those bitter roots to the grave.
Why? I don’t know. But I know it is true. On the positive side, the Lord has chosen to use us in His ministries of evangelism, healing and preaching. Indeed, we share in His ongoing creation of this world and its people. To me, that is awesome. Do you understand Ray? He uses us as His servants in assisting people to know about Him; to discover how they can know Him; to assist them in growing, and, absolutely, in His healing.
Three years ago I was admitted to the local hospital and had some suspicious tissue removed from inside my bladder for biopsy. The urologist discovered that I had bladder cancer. Though he didn’t think it was cancer at first, it turned out to be cancer. He said, “Bob, that cancer has to be removed. I am sorry, but you are going to have to go back into the hospital and let me remove more tissue." Now, I didn’t say, “Dr. _______," I don’t need you. I don’t need the hospital. I don’t need the anesthesiologist. I don’t need the fancy equipment. I don’t need the nurses. I am just going to trust God to heal me.” Now, this didn’t mean my wife and I and members of our church and friends didn’t pray for the Lord’s healing for we sure did.
And I firmly believe that all healing is ultimately of the Lord. The surgeon and his team “participated” in God’s healing me. To put it plain – there is every reason to believe that Dr. _______ saved my life. For that carcinoma would have eventually killed me.
What would you have done?
I remember in undergraduate school I was
taking a course in New Testament Studies. Our teacher was a former seminary
professor turned agnostic. He asked a question of the class, “How many of you
Christians go to a doctor when you are sick?” Many of us raised our hands. He
immediately called us “hypocrites” and quoted
13Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. 14Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. 15Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
He said, “Instead of going to see your doctor, why didn’t you just pray as James instructs?”
I was sitting in the back of the room. I raised my hand and the professor acknowledged me. I asked the professor, “Didn’t James also say that they were not only to pray but to anoint with oil. Is that not correct?”
The professor said, “Yes”.
I asked another question, “And in the first century wasn’t oil used as a healing agent?"
Speaking in a low tone he said, “Well yes.”
I immediately replied, “Well, Dr ____________, I do both. I pray and I go to the doctors just like the Scripture instructs me to do.”
(Point of interest: That professor hated me for embarrassing him before the entire class. He tried to get me kicked out of the university by accusing me of cheating on two different occasions and in both cases I proved his charges as being nothing but lies. Thank God for a godly Methodist professor who saw through this agnostic professor and who stood up for me and the accuracy of my actions.)
Jesus used oil, water and touch in His healings.
I see absolutely no difference between my going to see a NLP therapist for assistance in uncovering my Bitter Roots so I can get them to Jesus and Dr. _______ removing that cancer. They are the same – one is physiological and the other is psychological and this body that God made consists of both mind & body as "one" and both “need a physician”.
I believe I follow you on the term “manipulation” as “exerting shrewd or devious influence especially for one's own advantage; his manipulation of his friends was scandalous1". However, there is something you may not be aware of. A much more correct definition as to the word’s origin is “Controlling or influencing something or someone to produce a particular result.” In its origination, it didn’t have the negative connation that it now does for most people. The root for the word "manipulation" comes from the French word manipule which means "handful" as in a "Pharmacist Measure". The word was first used in the sense of a "skillful handling of objects". This is first recorded in 1826. It was extended in 1828 to mean the "handling of persons" as well as objects.2
As Dr. _____ skillfully used the Systiscope to remove the cancer on the inside of my bladder wall, so the NLP Christian therapist skillfully uses the tools of NLP in assisting a client “stuck” in some problem state. The NLP therapist leads the client to “step out" of the problem state; "step into" the presence of Jesus and then to "bring Jesus with them" as they "step back into the problem state". The "bringing of Jesus back to the problem state" works a reframe on the problem as the Lord Jesus permeates the Bitter Root with His unconditional love and forgiveness. Any therapy that works utilizes that simple model.
So, technically we assist the client to “manipulate” their thinking patterns and structures to mold their thinking into the thinking that honors God.
The Witness of Scripture
Why do you think the Lord commanded us in
And, did not the Lord through His servant Paul command the Philippians 4:8 (KJV) to do the same thing? - “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
And, are not the Ten Commandments a list of imperatives that require a change in thinking? Remember, before behavior there are thoughts that drive that behavior. In order to change behavior we must change our thinking. So, the Ten Commandments and all the moral and ethical commands in Scripture are a call for us to change our thinking by changing the meanings we have placed on our behavior. This is called "Reframing".
Reading the Philippians text in context reveals clearly that Paul, acting through the direction of the Holy Spirit, was challenging the Philippians to have the "Mind of Christ" and not the "mind of flesh".
Does not such passages presuppose that man’s mind is broken to some degree? Do these passages not conform to the total Biblical concept of “sin” as “missing the mark” because we follow in the fall of Adam? Yes they do. Man in his fallen nature has an evil heart. And, because of this, most people are flat incapable of “having the mind of Christ” – they have Bitter Roots such as you learned from your dad. And, these Bitter Roots more often than not call for assistance. Again, “why”? I have tried to answer it Biblically the best I can but in the end you will need to ask God when you get to heaven. In the meantime the Lord commands His servant Ray to have faith in how He works with His children. Ray, seriously, or, I should say, “Real Ray”, who are we to question “how” God redeems and heals us? I just know what I have written is fact.
In closing Ray, I want to share with you and especially to the “Real Ray” whom I trust is growing older and older:
“There was this farmer who had a beautiful farm. All of the buildings were sparkling clean. Even the barn was in better shape than most people’s homes. The grounds were well groomed. His pastures and his home and buildings were encircled with a beautifully painted white fence. The road winding to the farmer's home looked as if it was the entrance to the home of a Hollywood star.
“One day a visitor stopped by. The visitor was admiring the farmer’s farm and how well maintained it was. The visitor then stated, “Wow, Mr. Farmer, God sure has given you a beautiful farm.” To which the farmer immediately replied, “Well, you should have seen it when God had it by Himself.”
Have a great weekend pondering the marvels of the mind of God and loving Him because He is mindful of each of us and our needs and that He has called and made available assistance for those who need and want it.
PS You hit it correct when you stated that “We manipulate to get what God wants”. That is very well said. I pat you on the back and am very proud of you.
Please continue to pray for Ray. He lives on a Caribbean Island. I am convinced that God has a great work for Ray there as he shares the “Truth” of Jesus Christ.
Ray's Spiritual Growth
Ray has really been doing some deep thinking and studying. His growth in these few short weeks has been phenomenal. The Lord is to be glorified.
In answer to this question, "Who Is God To Me?" Ray replied:
God is one, omnipotent
- Creator of the whole universe.
Being the Creator and Omnipotent He could use any form, way or tool including
evolution to create the universe. It is His will how he will reveal things to
us humans. Some things He has explained, others He will explain later and most
will be explain in our future life.
Although I want to understand Him, I don't have to.
And, it is not even my job. I
have to trust that He knows what is best for me.
My faith does not rely on anything that has, will, should (As I think) or could
happen in this life time. I will only base my faith on what Jesus-God did. He
became a human. He lived a sinless life and He died. Doing this He beat sin and won
resurrection for all of us who decide to follow Him and His teachings. He is
now and will be our "advocate" on the day of final judgment.
I believe that what I just mentioned before, Jesus did more than enough for us.
By believing this, I take responsibility for my actions. If I desire
something in life, I believe it is my duty to do every possible human action
in order to get it. If God chooses to help me in that fight, then glory to Him. If he doesn't choose
to do so, then even more glory to Him (Remember, I believe He knows what is best for me, even if I think
Basically I am to do my best and let God take care of the rest. Hey some people even have to work for
Jesus promises that He will heal everyone who calls
on Him. He will take suffering
away. I believe this but, He never stated he would heal everyone in this life.
True healing will take place in His Second Coming.
things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have
tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome
the world." (John 16:33 KJV).
For us dumb and lazy people Jesus summarized the whole Bible this way (Deuteronomy 6:4):
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
This is more than enough for me, hey I don't think I have a chance to get this 100% right.
To God be the glory for that immense progress that Ray has made in these past few weeks. Though challenging at times, walking with Ray as he bombarded me with so many questions. And, to make it more of a challenge, Ray dared to ask some tough questions. Indeed, he stretched my ability to respond. In answering some of his questions, I resorted to doing a great deal of research to make sure as far as I possibly could that the answers I gave him were solidly Biblical. It is a good thing to have some one "stretch" you as Ray has stretched me.
I always saw him as a itinerant preacher proclaiming the Truths of God's Word on an island that no doubt false teachings are prevalent. Seeing him this way led me to spend a great deal of time in replying to his emails. The journey that Ray is on will continue for the remainder of his life. I see all of us who claim Christ as Savior as always being "under construction" until that Day when we all shall be perfected into His Glory.
We know that in the final analysis it all boils down to knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. The Psalmist, though on the back side of Calvary, knew of the redeeming nature of God's Love. Psalm 32 is an Old Testament testimony of the coming of Christ. The Psalm concludes with these words:
1Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—
you get a fresh start,
your slate’s wiped clean.
2Count yourself lucky—
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.
God cares about us. He cares about us in the good times. And, as we have seen, He cares for us in the bad times.
1WordNet: A lexical database for the English Language - www.wordnet.princeton.edu
2The River: Basin Kids eNewspaper - http://www.mdbc.gov.au/subs/The_River/glossary.html#Manipulation
|Sermon #1 - God Cares - We Care New|
|Sermon #3 - Ray's Struggle For Faith: Answering Objections about our Role in Healing New|
|Sermon #3 - How Faith Answers Ray's Doubts New|
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