Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summary of road trip. Jun 19-22, 2007.

I finally blogged the main placement experiences from my road trip June 19th through 22nd. Oh, and I also spent time with family, but that's for the private journal, and not the public blog.

I date the entries when they happened, not when I write them, so they won't show up on the Bloggernacle aggregators, www.ldsblogs.org and www.ldselect.org, as recent posts.

I'll summarize here:

Tues, June 19th, started out late in the afternoon.
Hindi/English, and "Ya Snooze Ya Lose."
Chinese DVD at restaurant.
Hindi declined.
Chinese declined.
Bengali/English, excellent encounter!

Wed, June 20th, all day drive.
English pass-along card, but I messed up.
Arabic/English.
Another "Ya Snooze Ya Lose" story, wherein I screwed up last year, and couldn't repent this year because it was "everlastingly too late."
Chinese/English x2 at a restaurant.
Hindi/English.

Fri, June 22, all day drive.
Missed opportunity, same place, same person as last year.
Chinese Bible at restaurant.
Hindi/English, Missed Op, Chinese/English; 3 places at one exit.

15 Comments:

At 7/06/2007 12:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sound like a real nut. I am a religious person (Christian (non-Mormon)) but I know many Mormons and am related to several. I have never heard of anyone in the Mormon religion haphazardly driving around and handing out literature because they got a "pull" or a "tug" spiritually or otherwise. Perhaps you should go on a legitimate mission, so people can see you coming and run like hell and hide!!! What a freak

 
At 7/06/2007 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Thanks for your comment. I haven't heard from any non-Mormons in a while.

I've often wondered if this whole thing is my imagination. But look at the results:

90 to 95% of the people accept the material.

The vast majority of those who accept are foreign-language-speaking immigrants who appreciate ESL material, which is the secondary purpose of the gift of Book of Mormon in their language, paired with an English copy.

Of the foreign-language-speaking people who accept the material, the vast majority (I don't keep track of that figure, but it's more than half) do so excitedly, joyfully and with appreciation, not reluctantly or begrudgingly. In other words, it makes them happy.

And making someone else happy makes me happy.

And, for those English-only speaking people, I usually offer them a Bible first. And you know what? Most of the people I have offered a free English Bible to say they need or want one! The majority of English-only speaking people are HAPPY with my offer too! How about that!

Not all the English-only speaking people who accept a free Bible from me go on to accept a free Book of Mormon. But aren't you glad I'm giving out Bibles?

 
At 7/06/2007 12:07:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Oh, and please ask your Mormon friends what they think.

There have been a few members who don't like what I'm doing, but they are in the minority.

I do keep the local church leaders informed. So if they think I'm going too far afield and tell me to stop or modify what I'm doing, I'll do my best to follow their advice.

Another point, logically speaking, is that if you've never heard of something (a Mormon driving around, etc.) does that mean it's automatically a bad thing? Am I limited to doing only those things which have done before?

That's the ticket, I'm a trailblazer! Actually no, I'm not the first person to give out foreign-language copies of the Book of Mormon to immigrants. There's a guy in Boston who has given out over 10,000 copies.

The bottom line is that if I'm making so many people happy, then is it really all that crazy?

 
At 7/08/2007 04:17:00 PM, Blogger kuri said...

Even as a LDS, I find this book-giving thing is a little bit odd as a -- hobby? compulsion? obsession? I don't know what to call it -- but at worst it seems pretty harmless to me. I mean, some people actually like to read, and a free book is a free book. It's not like you're forcing anyone to read them.

 
At 7/09/2007 12:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi.

I don't think you're crazy, but you do beat up on yourself a lot. What sort of picture do you think that gives me of the God you apparently serve? Sheesh - he sounds like a real taskmaster to me! If that's what you're selling, then please pass me by.

I thought the Christian God was meant to be the God of grace and growth. Do I have the wrong God in view?

As they say, "A system is what a system does." It's fine for people to say they believe in the gracious God, but the proof is always in the eating.

The way you beat yourself up makes me worry for you - I mean that. Is this what God intended for his people?

 
At 7/09/2007 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Anon at 12:45 AM:

You have a point. I'm a perfectionist, and I have a tendency to focus too much on failures that need correcting instead of on successes and good news.

I blog about the times I failed to act or speak up (especially those times when I was commanded of the Spirit to say something) because I want to show that I'm not perfect. And perhaps admitting those instances is an attempt to find humility.

I know I have a problem with ego/pride, and I have to continuously fight it.

When we neglect to do something we know we're supposed to do, that's a sin of omission. Sorrow and regret are legitimate feelings when we know we did something wrong. Those are parts of the repentance process.

Guilt is a proper feeling when we do something wrong. Guilt is feedback from our conscience that is supposed to lead us to repent, move forward, and improve.

Guilt is only unhealthy if we wallow in it and give up the struggle to move forward.

I feel some sort of journalistic need to write about the whole spectrum of encounters, not just the successes. I feel that's more honest and better describes the whole thing.

The God of the Bible, in both the Old Testament and New Testament called on people to repent and to mourn over their sins, then get up, take off the sack-cloth, clean off the ashes, and move forward.

The Apostle Paul specifically wrote about godly sorrow that works towards repentance, in 2 Cor 7:10

 
At 7/09/2007 06:17:00 PM, Blogger mawcawn said...

Bookslinger, I am greatful for what you do and appreciate that you even write about the times you don't manage to do what the Spirit tells you to do. I can tell that you are trying. Keep on trying to do what you feel is right. As an LDS person, I do not find your "hobby" odd. I find it to be inspirational.

To the anonymous "nut namer"--chill. No one is forced to take or to read, if they are taking to just be polite. He is not checking up on them or testing to see how much they have read or what they believe. He is freely sharing. And he accepts "no" for an answer.

 
At 7/11/2007 11:01:00 AM, Anonymous Barb said...

Although I have just been reading as of late, I want to make a few comments. I do believe God can guide people to share the Gospel. While I am not intune to such promptings to a degree where I can say for sure that I have received any, I had a missionary companion who at least on one occassion was aware of a family that she should visit for a time before we went there for the first time. I think a lot of people have experienced calling someone just at the right time when it is an emergency or the person really needed to maybe have a pick me up. I have a cousin who is not religious at all although she does want holidays such as Christmas to be nice. Once she called a friend and asked her where her son was. Her son was in the basement with matches then. As far as other members sharing a Gospel in such a way, I have read of people who take a Book of Mormon on airline trips in their luggage. I have also heard of members speak of feeling a person is the right one to share the Gospel with at a given time. I am a convert and was not looking to change religions when I had a class with an LDS young man who introduced me to the faith. After I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel, he let me know that he felt that I was someone who needed the Gospel when he walked into the room the first day and say me sitting at a table. I was resistant at first having been raised in a different faith. In regards to being hard on himself, I am one of the first to tell Bookslinger not to be so hard on himself. As a missionary, I do recall a companion telling me that I needed to let things go better when I had a shortcoming so I can't fault Bookslinger. I did have a kind Stake President remind me how we should not see God as having a yard stick and constantly measuring what we are doing. We do need to focus on his love. I do believe that Bookslinger does what he does because he wants the people to have the blessings of the Gospel. In addition, I have read many of Bookslinger's comments elsewhere on blogs and he always comes across as being very well-spoken.

 
At 7/11/2007 08:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bookslinger, for your reply to my note.

As a fellow perfectionist, I understand the struggle. I also understand that my definitions of success were not always the same as God's, and that the cross of Jesus calls for a total reworking of the categories. Who would have called the cross 'a success'?

I used to beat myself up rather badly when I failed to get the whole message out during a doorknocking session, or when I failed to show people the clarity of the choice before them.

As a perfectionist, I like being able to measure things with results and tangible data. But I'm increasingly convinced that the God of grace calls his people past the numbers game and the guilt game to something much richer.

I know what you say about guilt; and it's very true that the Spirit works with the conscience in such a way as to be able to convict his people of sin. I've experienced it many times.

But I've also experienced the accusations of another voice, which is not the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit leads me to the cross; the enemy leads me to despair.

I do not see guilt as a dominating factor in NT ethics. Guilt produces fear, and God's children have been delivered from fear of condemnation by the cross of Jesus, where just sentence on our failure has been meted out.

The guilt I often experienced was not 'Holy Spirit guilt' - it was guilt over not doing what someone else pressured me to do, using their methods. How do I know this? Because I could feel guilty about not getting the message out when I was on the business of 'sharing the gospel' and yet have no guilt at all (or even a care) about the spiritual condition of my next-door neighbours.

God has shown me how screwed-up my priorities have been. And he now graciously calls me fwd to rediscover my mission in a fresh way - refreshingly free of guilt about 'not hitting them with the message', and delightfully infused with the truth and grace of Jesus. I have far greater boldness now than before, because grace gives me the freedom to deeply love people, and the freedom to fail.

Being a perfectionist crushed by guilt did not make me more human; it made me self-reliant, determined to prove myself to God.

Being a failed perfectionist loved by the Heavenly Father and accepted in the Beloved makes me more human. And isn't that what Jesus is on about - not making us less human but more human, restoring the image of God?

 
At 7/11/2007 09:55:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

anon at 8:17pm.

I think we're already in agreement. In the two situations where I missed the opportunity after being prompted of the Spirit to say something, the guilty feeling of not saying/doing was not from anyone else's expectations. It was not even from my expectations, because I don't normally approach English-only-speaking people.

In order to be clear, the two situations were where the Spirit whispered "Talk to _THAT_ person" and I didn't. The third situation was similar, where I didn't say anything, but then went back in, and I offered just a card instead of a Bible/Book-of-Mormon combination.

I agree with you that the enemy (Satan) can be a source of the kind of guilt that leads to despair. And I agree that it's wrong for other people to attempt or induce guilt on you for failure to meet _their_ expectations.

I believe the New Testament is (as is the OT) big on moving forward, and improving one's walk, and getting closer and closer to the Holy Spirit (Mormon's usually say "Holy Ghost" or "Spirit of the Lord.")

The influence of the Holy Ghost is not always a binary on/off proposition. There are times when he gets closer, and there are times when he moves away from us. Usually it's our own sin that causes the Holy Ghost to distance himself.

Another LDS gospel principle that comes into play is that "repentance is a process" as also is the progress towards perfection. It's something I believe God wants us to work on, and move towards. "Be ye perfect."

It's not something we can do all at once, but the big questions are "Are we trying?" and "Are we headed in the right direction?"

Another gospel principle is that when we sin knowingly, forgiveness is not automatic just because we already believe in the Atonement. When we sin knowingly we have to repent before the Atonement cancels out that sin. Only God and the person involved actually know when the burden of any particular sin is removed.

And, as you know and have stated, God is gracious. He often lifts the burden of sin as soon as the person starts to repent. And perhaps for repeated sin, he might let someone stew a while in order that they understand the consequences of un-repented sin.

I do NOT see repentance as a "work", such as having to make sacrifices under the Mosaic law. But in cases where we knowingly sin, it's usually safe to say that some degree of repentance is necessary. Repentance is what brings us to the faucet to get washed in the Lamb's blood.

Does that explain more of the sin ->guilt ->repentance ->forgiveness dynamic ? At least as LDS see it?

 
At 7/12/2007 09:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Bookslinger.

Well, it looks like my cover is blown. It looks like the 'Holy Spirit' gave me away!

Yes, I am an evangelical Christian. You had prob worked that out from my first message anyway.

I am not a believer in Evangelicals and Mormons together, but I am grateful for the dialogue nonetheless. Thanks for your patient replies. I trust I will continue to treat you with equal courtesy.

As you will know, evangelical Christians are also prone to suffer with perfectionism and its attendant problem - particularly those of us of a more Calvinist persuasion.

I was not aware that the Spirit distances himself at times from believers. I am very aware that he is able to generate a 'sense' of God's Fatherly displeasure (to quote the Westminster Confession of Faith), but I was not aware that those who possess the Spirit can actually experience his leaving them (Psalm 51 and 1 Sam 16 are speaking in different categories of the endowment of the Spirit).

I know what it is to grieve the Spirit, and I know what it is to feel distant from God, but I did not think God actually abandoned those truly his people. How can a person be called a disciple of Jesus without the essential endowment of the Spirit (Eph 1:13)?

It's true that repentance is a process; a lifelong one. No argument there. I have no difficulties with the doctrine of sanctification, and the mortification of sin - though I suspect our internal definitions probably differ.

When Jesus said, 'Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect' in Matt 5, we need to read him in context. I would encourage you to do that. I take the words of Paul as an encouragement that Christians continue to take thoughts captive, and to run the race in preparation for the final day.

Romans 6 is very clear about the direction of the Christian life: it's not 'saved by grace' and now 'preserved by a list of doing'. It's dying and rising. That is the dynamic at work in the Christian life. But you prob agree with that anyway.

I get frightened by the language of 'Are you trying to be perfect?' Smacks of something less than grace to me. I hear it often in evangelical circles, too. Along with the moral imperative: 'should'. It strikes me that NT ethics do not revolve around 'try' and 'should'. They revolve around dying and rising with Christ, strength in weakness, treasure in clay pots, aliens in exile.

You state that forgiveness for willful sin is not assumed under the Atonement. Your comments there scare the living daylights out of me. If that is Mormon doctrine, then pls feel free to keep it all for yourself.

I hope I do not get hit by a bus 2 seconds after a lustful gaze at a woman, or declining the Spirit's nudging to evangelise someone. Because then I'm in real trouble, if what you say is true.

Either Christ has done his job, or he has not. Either I am clothed in his righteousness, or I am clothed in my own. I have read Hebrews. I have read Psalm 95. I have read 1 John. I have read James. And they do not threaten the work of Christ for his people one scrap. They do not diminish his completed cross work one iota.

Sin forgiven is different to the cleansing of a guilty conscience. Christians must not confuse them. If they do, then all assurance of salvation is up for grabs.

It is also extremely dangerous for me to rely on my own sense of 'being forgiven'. Because my feelings sometimes lie. I am a fallen being, in the process of being daily renewed. Sometimes a 'sense' of forgiveness is plain; other times, I'm still smacking myself around though I'm already forgiven. How can I know I'm forgiven? Nothing but the promises of Jesus are sure ground at this point. I must believe his verdict: I am declared righteous.

I am a person whose life is marked with failures and sin; some unwitting, some deliberate.

I also sit in the most authoritative seat in our denomination. Sometimes as a leader, I lose the plot. Sometimes the people who follow me must say to themselves (and sometimes to me), "What are we following him for?"

I expect to lose the plot sometimes. I expect to make decisions that sometimes screw up other people's lives. I expect to sometimes act as a legalist and not out of grace. I expect that sometimes I will use authority like a big stick to keep people in line (as if that is how the bible intends leadership to look).

All those things make me very grateful for grace. Grace frees me of a performance mentality. Grace means people around can actually confront and forgive and encourage me when I screw things up. Grace allows me to feel the gravity of my failures, and then the abounding provisions which Jesus has lavished on me.

How else could Paul ask that outrageous question at the start of Romans 6, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?"

I hope you can hear the question which lies right behind that one, "If I sin, will grace abound?" The answer is 'Yes' (Rom 5:20). Grace is so radical that Paul can actually ask the question.

Wow. I've typed a lot here. Better go! Thanks for the dialogue.

 
At 7/12/2007 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Anon: "I was not aware that the Spirit distances himself at times from believers. ...

I know what it is to grieve the Spirit, and I know what it is to feel distant from God, ... ".


I think you answer your own question. If one feels more distant (less close) to God through sin, then the Holy Ghost, the member of the Godhead who communicates the will of the Father to man, has in effect distanced himself. Or you could look at it as _we_ distance ourselves from God through sin, even after believing. ("We" being the ones who have moved, not God. But that may be a semantic distinction.)

There have been times in my life when I did wrong that I felt the Holy Ghost leave so fast that you could practically hear the leaves rustling. It is a cold and alone feeling to have grieved the Spirit of God.

That cold and alone feeling, which can come from grieving the Spirit, is what should alert one to the fact that they have grieved the Spirit.

And for those who think that the Holy Ghost (along with Jesus) are the same substance/entity as Heavenly Father, then again, the net-net is the same. "God," however, you want to define Him, is more distant than before as a result of our sin. (But let's leave the nature of God's tripartite or triune nature for another discussion.)

"but I did not think God actually abandoned those truly his people."

Neither do I. I don't think I said abandoned, or at least I didn't mean to imply it. And certainly not in the permanent sense.

 
At 7/12/2007 11:15:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Anon:

"Romans 6 is very clear about the direction of the Christian life: it's not 'saved by grace' and now 'preserved by a list of doing'."

But at the end of the discussion, Evangelicals still preach the keeping of the commandments, IE, the "doing". And in the next breath also say in regards to someone who abandons all efforts to keep the commandments, "He must not have really believed in the first place."


"It strikes me that NT ethics do not revolve around 'try' and 'should'. "

I get a different message from the NT. Jesus told the woman taken in adultery "Go and sin no more." Not "sin all you want, I got you covered." Jesus also said "If you love me, keep my commandments." He also taught something of the rule by which he is going to separate the sheep and the goats, those who fed, clothed, and visited the "least of his brethren." I think I want to be a sheep.

"You state that forgiveness for willful sin is not assumed under the Atonement. Your comments there scare the living daylights out of me."

You left out the qualifying phrase "willfully unrepented of". Does that make a difference?

What if a believer turns back to his previous life and becomes a reprobate ("like a dog to its vomit" as Paul said) ?

I assume you believe that it's possible to fall from grace.

"Grace allows me to feel the gravity of my failures, and then the abounding provisions which Jesus has lavished on me."

That's what we call repentance. Feeling sorrow for sin, turning from it, etc., coming back to Him, getting washed/cleaned up.

"How else could Paul ask that outrageous question at the start of Romans 6, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" "

I think you interpret that verse incorrectly. Look at the answer in the very next verse. The answer is "God forbid." Paul is asking if people should deliberately continue in sin so that more grace will need to be applied. No, we shouldn't.

A lot of Christians have had a cavalier attitude towards sinning, excusing themselves, saying essentially that "Christ has it covered, I'm forgiven through God's grace." They're in essence giving themselves carte blanche.

Paul has a description of that atittude, saying that it "crucif[ies] [Christ] afresh" in Heb 6:6.

In Romans 6:1 Paul is essentially asking "Should we continue to sin because we know we are going to be forgiven of it?" God forbid.

 
At 7/12/2007 11:38:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Anon: "It is also extremely dangerous for me to rely on my own sense of 'being forgiven'. Because my feelings sometimes lie."

But our conscience doesn't. Like you said, it's the enemy (Satan) that lies to us to keep us down. But our conscience does not.

And the Holy Ghost does not lie either. That's why it's important to stay in tune and feel when the Spirit is grieved (or distances himself, same thing in essence).

"Sometimes a 'sense' of forgiveness is plain; other times, I'm still smacking myself around though I'm already forgiven. How can I know I'm forgiven? "

Answer: by the companionship or closeness of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit does not dwell in unclean tabernacles.

Another answer: by our conscience. Our conscience will tell us whether we have sufficiently repented (ie, felt sorrow, confessed, made restitution, abandoned the sin etc.)

One of the difference between evangelical doctrine and LDS doctrine is that bit about feelings. The gospel is a feeling. The admonition to "just believe the Bible, not your feelings" leaves people susceptible to the interpretation of other persons teaching them the Bible.

How can a believer know which preacher is right, or which biblical interpretation is right? The various Protestant denominations vary greatly from one to another.

How do non-scholars and non-bible-experts figure out which biblical interpretation is correct? Answer: by praying and following their feelings.

How does God speak to us, and answer our questions other than through the written word? The Holy Ghost speaks to and through our feelings.

"Nothing but the promises of Jesus are sure ground at this point. I must believe his verdict: I am declared righteous."

The Bible, specifically the Savior, also tells us that righteousness is not mere mental acknowledgment and lip service on our part, but also consists of keeping the commandments. "Go and sin no more" the "doing it unto the least of these my brethren."

To go from "I believe in Christ and the Bible" to "therefore the Bible declares me righteous", leaves out a whole lot of intermediate stuff, as mentioned above. In fact, it almost sounds like "I can sin however much I want to, because Jesus has it covered."

Paul spends a lot of time in the NT declaring the unrighteousness of many of the the believers (members of the church to whom he wrote), and calling them to repentance.

I do not think forgiveness is promised to those who believe and purposely avoid repentance. From Acts to Revelation, the apostles called on people to believe in Christ's atonement, but also to _repent_ (mainly forsake) their sins.

Jesus preached repentance and keeping of the commandments. John the Baptist preached repentance, and preached the baptism of repentance.

 
At 7/13/2007 12:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bookslinger.

Thanks for your replies. I really must get some work done before I go away for the weekend! So just a quick, general reply.

On some points, I think we've misread each other. I would also not want to endorse the straw man of "Christ has saved me, now I'll live as I please." The person who says that is not regenerate.

I affirm the importance of continued repentance. I think we see the issues of feelings and conscience differently, and it's helpful to know that. Thanks for the clarification.

In keeping with my Calvinist persuasion, I do not believe that a truly saved person will fall away. I also happen to believe that same person will evidence the fruits of repentance and faith in his life. (I offer these comments simply as a clarification of the stream of evangelicalism that I stand in - not as a point for debate.)

In all this, I believe in the glorious freedom God's grace gives to Christians, and the tyrannies it liberates them from.

Have a good weekend.

Cheers,
A.S. (there now, that's a step up from "Anonymous", isn't it?)

 

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