Re: Religious experience or true conversion?
I'm not sure my reply will be extrodinary or help you much either, but my husband and I walked a similiar road last year and I feel I might can offer hope and a point in the right direction? At least to what most helped us. My husband was also suicidal for a time last year even. And we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit for about 3 years. Sometimes life is tough, but I def think we made it much tougher than it ever had to be. Just from reading your posts the one thing that points out strongly to me and that I know we neglected last year is Fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Spending time in His Presence, it's so healing--emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Worshiping him, loving on Him, magnifying Him and adoring the most wonderful Father anyone could ever have. And just in worshiping and resting in Him many are baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. Ephesians 3:19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
I grew up very legalistic, thinking God harmed me to teach me lessons and put me through hard times for that too--that He killed my son for a reason and left me sick for 6 years for something too. Now today I believe that's pure and total bolonga-- put simply. Jesus paid the price for deliverance from everything except Persecution--we were promised that and can never escape persecution. Many try to use Paul as an example of suffering and how God put Him through that to teach him something. If you'll examine Paul's sufferings they were all at the hand of people and persecution except for the shipwreck. God wasn't the one putting him through it, but God was making opportunities along the way to reach a higher audience and also God did give him much benefits (being a Roman was def one of them) as well as thousands he was able to convert along his journey. And relationship was def what was most important to Paul, 1 Cor. 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
So Jesus has paid the price for us to have emotional and spiritual peace, Isiah 53. Look up all of the meanings of the words used in that chapter and you will see a clearer picture of what Jesus has redeemed us from. His desire is for you to have the Peace that passeth all understanding. In my experience the more I concentrate on the negative or what satan is doing the more satan does in my life, and actually the more demons I physically see and sense. But the more I concentrate on God and His Word the more I see what God is doing, and see visions of the heavenly and peaceful realm. Isiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Regarding the Baptism--Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Jesus would never refuse to baptize you in the Holy Spirit, he would never withhold that from you and wants it as much for you as you want it for yourself. Everyone who asks receives, I believe the cause might perhaps be in that your receiver is broken at the moment? But God wants it to be healed. Above all though He just wants you to spend time with Him, have relationship with Him. That is the most pivitol reason why He saved you, why He sent Jesus, was to repair the broken relationship with man because of sin--and Jesus has taken care of that sin that is blocking your relationship. His blood has made your righteous as a gift (Romans 5:17-18) and is no longer imputing your sins unto you (Romans 4:8 and 5:13) because on a balancing scale, a weight scale, with all of the sins of the world on one side and the blood of Jesus on the other side--Jesus blood wins. All a person ever need do no longer have sin be the problem is accept Jesus and what His blood has accomplished for them. Jesus has paid for the sins of the whole world, though sadly the whole world will not accept what He has done. It is only by Jesus that you are saved and will enter in to Heaven dear one, and do not let the devil decieve you into otherwise. Chronicles of Narnia come to mind, the devil tried to trick Edmund into all the things he could have with "her" the white witch (symbolizing satan), and made him think so many things in his life were bad. But in reality with Aslan he already had all of those things--he just didnt know it. He didn't know he was a prince, meant to reign as a king in life and that he was pure in Aslan "Jesus" and didn't have to strive for those things--they were part of his covenant already. God Almighty intends for you to Reign as a King, not be defeated by the devil--whom Jesus blood has already defeated. He intends you to reign above that and over that, and He is there to help you.
I don't want to overwhelm you with resources, but I have gotten so much good out of several teachings, especially those of Andrew Wommack. They are all downloadable for free from his website, if you have an MP3 player you can load them to it and listen to them anywhere you go. My husband did that and listened to more teachings in 6 months than I have in the last couple of years and he grew so much in the Lord because of it. His relationship with his Heavenly Father has just strenthened so much and he once again has that wonderful peace. One of my husband's favorite teachings of Andrew's was The Effects of Praise (http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1004) The Holy Spirit (teaching on the Baptism of the Spirit and Tongues) was what I listened to a few years ago and a couple of months afterward received the Baptism. (http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1040 and the third part to that teaching, Revelation Knowledge http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/c04) After talking with several other Christians I know who are Baptized as well and still have some hangups with it I believe Andrew's teaching gave me a solid foundation to help not let the devil mess with my mind in the area of what God had for me in the area of the Baptism and tongues. The Baptism is wonderul, and all of the results are wonderful from it, but you seem to have the conception that it will fix all of your problems--it will not immediately for most however. But I do believe spending much time with the Lord God Almighty in worship and praise and in his Presence will solve all of your problems, and much faster than anything else. Because in His Presence as I pour my Love into Him, I feel Him, hear Him, see Him pouring His love into me and he talks and tells me of his plans for me, of his love for me and of how that his plans for me are for good, not to harm me, but for a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). That has been my clinging scripture in hard times, knowing how Good he is and that anything I am going through is not Him--it's either my own actions (reaping what I sow) or satan coming to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus came to give you LIFE and that more abundantly! John 10:10. I imagine you don't feel that what you have been living is LIFE to your soul, to your mind and to your body. Then it is not Jesus. And Jesus has given you all authority over satan and his plans to harm you, that is part of our new covenant and God will not step in and do it for you. But in His presence He will give you strength, he will give you knowledge, he will give you peace and wisdom. James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. You must believe that God gives when you ask, not doubting His goodness towards you because you are his beloved child and it hurts Him just as much or more than it does you to see you in so much pain. His capacity to love is greater than ours, and his capacity to hurt is much greater than ours.
I too last year experienced that hardness in the heart that you spoke of, and I highly highly recommend Andrew's teaching on the Hardness of Heart--and the cure to it. (http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1003) I got so much good out of it, it's simple but profound, deep but yet simple truth backed up by dozens of scriptures. Andrew always backs up everything he teaches with generally more than enough scriptures on any given subject. The 4 Keys to Staying Full of God is also an excellent one (http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1029), outlining how to always stay full of God no matter what life is throwing at you and not have the ups and downs that Christians seem to term as so normal--but God didn't intend for it to be. It's not about emotions, but about consistency in the Lord and keeping your focus on Him. One of my favorite scriptures, Hebrews 12:1 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, 2 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. It tells us that how we lift that burden or weight on our shoulders (not just of sin, but any weight) is to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. You are wanting to hear from God again, and wanting that Peace and Joy and Love--and that is good that you are desiring it, it means you want a change and are desiring Him. How to Hear God's Voice is also great, http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1030. And one last one I would recommend is my most favorite teaching of Andrew's, A Better Way to Pray http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1030 for you seem to feel your prayers are unheard or unanswered, Andrew gives the biblical way to pray and see results. People can be sincere in their prayers, but sincerely wrong, and ineffective. One prayer you can never go wrong with is praying the scripture, and praying the Lord's Prayer.
Another couple of resources I would recommend to you if you like to read is Joseph Prince's book, Destined to Reign (http://www.amazon.com/Destined-Reign-Effortless-Wholeness-Victorious/dp/15779... Shortened Product Description Discover the secret of reigning over every adversity, lack and destructive habit that is limiting you from experiencing the success, wholeness and victory that you were destined to enjoy. Find out how it is not about what you have to do, but what has already been done. It is not about what you must accomplish, but what has already been accomplished for you. It is not about using your will power to effect change, but His power changing you. Start reigning over sickness, financial lack, broken relationships and destructive habits today! Find everything you need to know about the Gospel of grace in one definitive book. )
and Joyce Meyer's book The Battlefield of the Mind. Andrew also has teachings on the mind and your authority over satan, but I'm afraid I would overwhelm you if I posted all of his teachings that I thought would be relevant and beneficial to you right now.
Much love in Christ to you, and I hope you find that wonderful Peace in the Lord Jesus that you are looking for, and that the Lord wants you to have more than you want it even, Caitlin Lorraine