Again, sincere thanks for your responses. I sense that, despite my style, deep frustration, and unfortunately a measure of anger in my effort to understand Christianity, etc. you can see that I am, at least in part, honestly and sincerely seeking answers. If, in fact, the bulk of what you believe is true, my scouring search becomes far more than pedantic intellectual gymnastics. Yet it remains frustrating because I simply am not designed to simply accept anything based solely on the premise that "This is from God," I saw what happened to some with such blind faith, when Jim Jones, Holy Bible in hand and often open, told them something akin to, "God wants you to drink the Cool Aide." My concepts about God, it seems to me, come not entirely from what I think He should be like but much more so directly from Scripture. I am perhaps unsophisticated enough to believe that much of Scripture makes perfectly clear the nature of God. Is it possible that you too impose your own ideas onto the nature of God. Some Christians, it seems to me, for example, will still tell me that God did not create evil. Even reading "I the Lord thy God have created evil." They will tell me that, no, God did not create evil.
While I really don't want to take much more of you valuable time, I do have some serious concerns about the following text that I hope to explore at least briefly with you sometime soon, I do see though that further examination may well show more fully it's value. I was going to comment on it now, but there is enough here already for now, and I do hope to at least look through the information in the links you provided, etc.
"For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God" (I Corinthians 2:11). The only way to understand God is to accept the things He chose to tell us -- that is, by reading and accepting His word.
Thank you for your kindness, and your positive attitude even when my own appears negative, etc.
I just want to explain to you why I am, as it turns out, once again trying to learn about God. I have been dealing with addiction and alcohol abuse. So AA is there and it works for those who actually go through the steps. Number three is a problem for me.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
For me, as you can likely see, my view of what I was taught (standard Fundamentalist Baptist teachings), and the clear teaching of Scripture, especially the Old Testament, make perfectly clear to my simple and tiny mind, a God who is simply not a very nice guy, which is about as kind as I can put it. And until recently, I would, for example scream in anger along with the Disturbed song Prayer. Feel free to look up the lyrics online if you chose. While I am fairly sure there is no blatant profanity in it, which would certain offend you, and for good reason, be warned that the message of the song is, well, disturbing. So, I finally decided that, whether or not Pastor Ernie Schmidt and his message directly from his handy Nave's Topical, as it were, was, in fact, simply showing me and telling "what it is." I knew that I had fully and sincerely done my level best to do anything and everything I could to make sense of it. I went so far as to pray sincerely a prayer with the following meaning "Dear Father God, I can see that my problem is that my God gave me brains that keeps getting in the way of me believing. I don't want to be wrong about such a vital aspect of life, and I certainly don't want to burn in Hell for eternity. I wish I could do and believe the right things that you have provided for me. I want to love, serve, and be kind and gentle. I don't want to continue being so angry and confused. If my brain is interfering with faith, and a good life, the abundant life that you promise believers who truly follow You. Please remove that part of my brain stuff like, "How can anybody make sense of this confusing system?" Or, if I simply need more faith and direction from you, or whatever else it may take for me to believe and enjoy a good life of service. Please help me to now begin that process. I know it would take hard work and commitment and your support, direction, love, compassion and so on. I wish to do my best to follow your perfect plan. You know, of course, that I believe I have been as sincere as I can, and scouring in seeking your Truth. However, if, I have been deceiving myself about those areas, please provide me true sincerity and full effort. In Jesus Name, Amen." It was only long after my prayer went completely unheard, or unheeded, or ignored, or whatever, that I became angry and found that Disturbed, for example, at least made some sense. But anger at God, or at least at Dr. Schmidt's God, was only having a negative impact on me. I decided that I had done what I could and that it was time to quit letting myself be miserable and angry. God as we understood him, been there -- tried that, it does not work for me, not even a little. I simply could not be kind and loving and serve others if I continued to focus on and understand and follow a God, who it was finally and fully clear to me, at least, was not. What did I miss? What did I fail to do? It wasn't Bible reading and study, it wasn't fellowship, it wasn't worship, and it certainly was not sincerity and effort.
But, if I wish to follow the twelve steps, seeing that many have had success with that program. I am again, it would seem, forced back into trying to find God, as it were. Yet, that process was one big cause for me to seek alcohol and drugs, to at least be able to forget for an hour here and there my confusion and anger. I thought, "Oh yeah go back to that God for help. Why would He suddenly help me? I did my level best with that system going far beyond what nearly anyone else would to make that work. It did not work then. OK, right, but maybe one last sincere effort. And then look elsewhere. I surely don't want to drink again."
One sincere born-again Christian, recovering alcoholic told me, "I stay out of those Hell Fire and Brimstone churches, I do believe the are telling God's truth, but going to them, only makes me angry and wanting to drink again." I though, "Yeah, that sure makes a lot of sense!" But I said to him, "Well, whatever works for you." Although, I think that, perhaps, it wasn't really working all that well for him, yet having found that pointing that out to people is never helpful to them, I kept such thoughts to myself.
It is a daunting task to keep on keeping on in the face of learned helpless wherein anything and everything I try to do what I was taught was right only to be told that my failure was my own fault, while knowing full well that I had already gone to and perhaps almost beyond the limit of what I could do.
I don't suppose that I should waste any more of your time. When God cannot or will not help me, I certainly cannot expect you to do so. I sure do appreciate your time and effort and clear willingness to help, and to defend what you believe, when so many others unwilling or unable to even try to "give an answer to any many" regarding "the hope that is within you".
Sincere questions are never a waste of time. I would be happy to continue talking with you, if you will extend the same courtesy of seriously considering what I say to you.
However, first, let me tell you congratulations on working on your addiction and alcohol problems. I know very well how difficult it is. I have had the pleasure of working with a fair number of people who are in various stages of recovery. You probably don't notice this of yourself, but I find it amazing how articulate you are despite the damage you must have done to your system. Many of the people I know have trouble keeping track of time, let alone stringing a coherent sentence together.
Over the years I have noticed that a lot of people who think they know the Bible really only know a narrow band of what is found between the covers. There are set passages that they refer to and never read the entirety. "The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever" (Psalm 119:160). Truth is found in the whole, but it can be missed when only a part is considered.
If I only took a selected set of passages from the Old Testament, yes, it is possible to make it appear that God is an angry God, quick to take vengeance on people. But the truth is that it is not an accurate picture of God. John Godfrey Saxe wrote an poem about blind men trying to learn about an elephant. Because each was only touching a small part of the whole, they each came away with a vastly different idea about what an elephant was like. In much the same way, people who only look at a piece of God's nature can walk away with mistaken notions regarding God. For instance, if a person only read the passages about God's love for mankind, he could walk away with the idea that no one will ever be punished in Hell for their sins. You have done the opposite, you have read passages where God punished sin and walked away with the idea that God is mean-spirited. Neither view is accurate because it only looks at a narrow slice of God's nature. Yes, God punished sin, but He did not do so arbitrarily. For example, in the case of the nation of Israel, He put up with their sins and constant straying after other Gods for about 1,500 years before He finally said, they had gone too far and He had the Assyrians and then 400 years later the Babylonians wipe out the country. If you have time, please read over the lesson "Oversimplifying God" and be sure to read all the verses. It should help explain this concept, especially point IV which applies to your situation.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a good organization that is trying hard to get people out of very difficult situations. However, it is still a man-made organization. It does try to be all things to all people, and will at times fail because that is not possible. "As we understood Him" is trying to encompass all religions, but as you noted, taking the statement literally causes a person to define God as they desire; instead of searching to learn who God is as He revealed Himself.
Is it God's fault that He refused to answer your prayer, or is the fault that you were praying for something that wasn't good for you or with the wrong motive? "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."" (James 4:1-6).
What you missed is that God has never asked for blind faith. He asks for our trust in Him, but He also gives us reasons to trust Him. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:1-3). In the Old Testament, God invited the Israelites, ""Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword"; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken" (Isaiah 1:16-20). God wants us to use the heads He gave us, He wants us to reason and to examine, because it will strengthen our faith in our great and mighty God who created us and loves us.
I don't know all of what you were taught, but I am willing to explore with you what God has taught both about Himself and about each of us need to know to live life to its fullest. "As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (II Peter 3:2). I can't make you, but would you be willing to learn with me?