The Good Shaman Dilemma, Part 2

Lindsey Wagstaffe 02/28/13 | Twitter: @Lindzelia
Category: Faith ; 25 comments

Back in December, I told you a few stories. I introduced our Mormon neighbors who love family and serve others freely, the incredibly generous atheist students I taught in China, my New Age friend who saved his marriage from divorce, and a shaman who has helped hundreds of troubled teens turn their lives around.

I challenged you to think about it: serving

People who do not know or love Jesus are leading moral lives. They are doing good, washing cars for free, and influencing other people to quit their destructive lives. They are devoting themselves to promoting love and peace. It isn't a sham. These things are really happening. Change is happening.

In the comment section, we received some great feedback from you. Now it's time to come back to those examples, because I didn't tell you the other half of the stories. I told you what these people did, but I did not tell you why they did it.

WHY matters.

Do you remember the shaman I met in the park? I asked him what motivates him to help the teens he works with. He does it for his son's memory, who passed away in an accident at school.

The man who turned his marriage around with the help of New Age philosophy? We talked about why he believes the things he believes and does the things he does. He does it because it makes his life easier, and it gives him a sense of success and meaning.

The atheists in China who are among the most generous people I have ever met? I asked them why they give so freely. One honest student told me that they do it because it is proper, and they must. I am a foreign teacher, and their culture informs them that it is their obligation to treat me with great respect through the giving of gifts. They also did it to impress and to make me happy.

And my Mormon neighbors? I asked them why they they've chosen the faith they have. They told me that they chose it because it makes them happy and gives them comfort because they'll get to be with their families after they die.

Hebrews 13:16 says, "And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Does this mean that non-Christians are pleasing God when they do good?

Not quite. Hebrews 11:6 makes sure we don't make that mistake: "And without faith it is impossible to please Him."

God is not concerned with what we do alone. He isn't a cosmic slot-machine—insert good deed; plunk, God is pleased. He cares about why we do good. He cares about our relationship with Him. He cares about the position of our hearts—faith or unbelief? It's here that the distinction between non-Christians and Christians becomes dramatic.

When a person does good, he is always doing it out of love for someone or something. For the non-Christian, the object of that love is going to be:

  • another person
  • an idea or cause
  • an animal
  • something inanimate
  • or himself.

Sometimes he does good for happiness, for success, for a sense of purpose, for a sense of comfort. Sometimes he does good for the benefit of others, because he truly cares. What is missing here?

The Greatest Commandment

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied: "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matt. 22:36–40).

According to the Bible, everything we do is to start here—love for the Lord our God.

And Jesus—known, loved, and worshiped as the Bible depicts Him—is missing from every false religion and cult.

No, people don't need Jesus in their lives just to stop doing bad things and start doing good things. Self-help books are wildly popular for an obvious reason; many of them deliver results. Just as you can get on a successful diet without faith in Jesus, you can also improve your relationships without faith in Jesus and become a happier and kinder person without faith in Jesus.

But without Jesus, you have nothing but emptiness in all of it. All the good deeds amount to nothing more than filth-soaked rags (Isa. 64:6) and a chasing after the wind. Without a relationship with Jesus—the Author and Sustainer of life, the One who we were designed to worship—none of it matters. None of it has eternal value. We were born to love Jesus and place our faith in Him alone. Nothing short of that will suffice.

  • Do you have a relationship with Jesus? How does the Bible tell us we can get into a right relationship with Him?
  • How should this realization change the way that you share the gospel with people?


HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, weíre not trained counselors. If youíre seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as theyíll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate.

    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 1:28 am
    I have been confused lately, focusing on doing the "right thing" so i can FEEL WORTHY to have a relationship with Christ. And when i fail to carry through my plan of "drastic change" of my habits, in order to feel better about myself, I feel unworthy to come to Christ. This keeps happening over and over again. How do I break the pattern?
    Good Read
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:57 am
    I enjoyed reading this. Even as a Christian, I have to remember that my kindness, etc. only counts if it's genuine (b/c God looks at the heart) and if it's for the glory of God. Everything I do should point to Him. What an awesome life to live!
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:15 am
    Hey, girl! I know exactly how you feel! I went through the same struggles, and just recently got out of that same cycle... There really isn't anything we can do to break the cycle of doing good to feel worthy enough to come before God's throne, except to let HIM break the cycle for us. Elena, God loves you whether you do the right thing or not. There is nothing we can do to make Him stop loving us (Romans 8:38-39). He is with you every moment of every day, cheering you on. If you mess up, Jesus wants to use that to teach you and mold you into the woman He wants you to be. (don't sin recklessly because of that, of course, but when we do make mistakes, He can and will use our messes to make something beautiful!) Have you heard the song by Tenth Avenue North, called "By Your Side?" There's one verse that really struck me... "Why are you striving these days? Or why are you tryin to earn grace? To where will you go, child? Tell me where will you run?" I realized that we can't earn grace.. Grace is a gift given to us, and there is nothing we can do to deserve it, even if we did everything right for the rest of our lives. It is only through God wanting us and loving us that we can ever come to Him. So I think that when we do sin and don't feel worthy to accept God's grace, that is the time when we need to spend time with God anyway, more than ever. I'm praying for you, Elena! I hope that God shows you His boundless, unconditional love today, and that you may feel accepted and worthy in His sight.
    God bless!
    great post!
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:29 am
    wow this so hits home with me. you did a great job at pointing out how our "good works" etc have to be different--we do them because we love Jesus. I also thought of the verse, "by this shall all men know that you are My disciples, by the love you have for each other" (not word perfect, but you probably know which one I'm talking about). We can't really and truly love each other unless Jesus is living in us.
    Re: Elena
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:39 am
    Hey girl! A couple of years ago, I used to have a problem similar to yours. I wouldn't ever turn to Jesus, because I truly felt unworthy to. The truth is though, there's not one single person on this whole entire earth who doesn't still struggle with sin.

    Think about that for a minute. Everybody struggles. Now, think of somebody you know who is a really great role model. Think of somebody who might even seem to be perfect. Does that person struggle with sin? You bet your bottom dollar!

    When it comes right down to it, even people who are immensely close to Christ still struggle with sin. But that's where forgiveness steps in. Now, I know you've probably heard this seven million times. Christ died for you. You're forgiven. That sounds awesome and all, but why don't you feel like you can get close?

    Well, here's what you gotta remember. You are in no way worthy, and neither am I. But that's why Christ died for us. He died to erase our sins; so we can have a relationship with Him. WE ARE FORGIVEN! :D It says in Psalm 103:12 that "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." You and your sins, --you're on polar opposite sides of the globe. That's really far away.

    So, the only way to break the habit is to go to Christ with it. He understands, and will ALWAYS be able to handle your honestly. I mean, this whole time, He's been just kneeling in front if you with open arms. You can trust in His love, because it will NEVER fail you. Not ever.

    It also may be a good idea to share this with your parents or a trusted mentor. Maybe it would even be that person I mentioned earlier. :)

    As one last side note, start importing God's truths into your life. You can do that by reading Christian books, and listening to truthful music. The best way though, is by reading your Bible.

    There's one really amazing album by Tenth Avenue North that would really knock your socks off! Make sure you check it out! :)
    The Struggle - Tenth Avenue North
    God bless you girl! Remember to emphasize God's love in your heart, because by putting Him first you'll become who God always has wanted you to be. :D
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm
    In the Bible, it says that we do not recieve faith by works, but works by faith. Titus 3:5 and Ephesians 2:8-9. They both say that we are saved by Him, not by works.
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm
    It is not by our works that we are saved, but by God's mercy. Live for Him, but know that what you do is not what saves you. We all fail and are all sinners. When we fall, we need to ask forgiveness, get up, and continue on. If we were perfect, then God wouldn't of had to send Jesus to Earth to save us.
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm
    This helped me to open my eyes to some of the things I do. I usually try to do good because I think it is right or the best thing to do, which can be self righteous. It should come from my heart and a sincere love for Christ! THanks for these blogs!
    Re:Having faith
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm
    I do please and have faith in God but when everything goes wrong I wonder what did I do wrong for this to happen when everyyhing turns to be ok just like that a storm comes and take everything away
    Ally Elisha
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm
    So if you know someone who is a generally good person, yet this person is a Buddhist, what do you do? What should I do?
    She and I used to be good friends... Before she converted to Buddhism. Now we hardly talk, and she gets all defensive when I bring up religion. When I asked her why she converted to Buddhism, she replied that she didn't want to be a Christian anymore because the pope(?) banned gay marriage and she's a lesbian.
    That was when I found out she was a buddhist and bisexual.
    Before then I thought that she was a Christian (she told me she was and acted like one) and straight.
    What should I do? Is there anything I can do for her?
    Dear Lindsey
    on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 12:01 am
    I want to ask you if you've shown this blog to your Mormon neighbours? I think they would be quite devastated to see your conclusions on the little pop quiz they failed. Actually, I think a lot of Christians might fail your quiz. Because while I do strive to obey the first commandment to love the Lord with all my heart, its not why I chose my faith. I chose my faith because Jesus loves me. My best efforts at loving him can never ever live up to the flood of love a life yolked with him blesses me with. I obey him, because he loves me so completely that I can place perfect faith in his commandments. And his commandment to love him first and foremost is one I can happily follow, because through it, he plans to show me more love, peace and blessings. I can't outlove him and neither can you, so you should probably just admit that you only love Him - only know how to love - because he loved you first. So, would you Lindsey, pass your own little quiz?

    I don't think those girls need to apologize for listing "family" as why they chose their Mormon faith. It's not an admittance of selfishness to list the blessings Jesus gave you. Ask them again. Please - you have assumed a great deal about their relationship with their Savior. You owe them the chance to clarify their meaning. Ask them what the first commandment is. Ask them if they strive to follow it. Show them this blog and see if you have accurately and honestly portrayed their intended meaning to you.
    Mormon Sacrament Prayer
    on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 12:46 am
    This is verbatim the words of the Sacrament Prayer given every week in every single Mormon congregation on the planet (or the English translation). It is a renewal of the covenant taken at baptism. You can find it yourself in online copies of the Doctrine and Covenants Section 20 verses 77-79

    "O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his spirit to be with them. Amen."
    "O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine(water) to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen."

    Does this oath (and the keeping of it) not amount to being a Christian? We take his name, we promise to obey his commandments (which would-of course-include the one he declares as the First/second Commandments), and we remember his Atonement.

    I know this is excessive and we went through this back in December, but Lindsey, it hurts me when you lump Mormons in with people who "don't know or love Christ". Stop it. Just please please stop. I don't know your propaganda that leads you to this twice now charge, but this^^^ is my oath every week (and every day in my heart), and every other Mormons, including your neighbours. Please Lindsey. It only hurts me because I respect this blog so much. If it was some ignorant rag, I wouldn't care. But you ARE Good Christians here. I expect more than this here.
    on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 10:22 pm
    Rachel, it seems that you're depending on the Ten Commandments save you. Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace we have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
    Everyone is a sinner. Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
    Jesus said that He is the only way to the Father. John 14:6: Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me."

    Rachel, I don't think Lindsey was doing anything wrong. If you look up the beliefs of what most Mormons believe, it differs greatly from what the Bible says. The basis of the blog and writer's beliefs is based the Bible.
    What should I do?
    on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 1:23 am
    Hey, I have a problem that's eating away at me and I know this has nothing to do with this post. But I live with my mom, grandma, brother and sister-n-law. Well my brother has always been physically and verbally abusive. If you says anything he doesn't like he will go into an uproar on you and come close to hitting you, and punch walls, curse you out and literally everyone could hear it outside. Well him and his wife are past grown and still live here and his room is next to mines and i can always hear them arguing all the time. They both treat each other horribly but the real problem is i can sometimes hear him talking to his wife in a very degrading manner calling her "female dogs" and other things. But outside of the room it seems like everything is okay when I can hear it through my room. And I hate hearing them have sex too it drives me crazy. I want to bring it up in private but I have a feeling he will just cause a bunch of commotion. I'm serious you CANNOT say anything to him that he doesn't like or he WILL abuse you either verbally or physically. Even my mom and grandmother have to tip toe around him. I'm so tired of it. I can't go to my mom and gma b/c like i said they are scared too. What should i do?
    on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 9:16 am
    I honestly don't know a whole lot about the Mormon Faith, but from what I have read the Mormons seem to have many strange and un-biblical ideas.
    So I would like you to look into these websites that I have below. And to find out maybe some of the reasons Christians have a problem with the Mormon Faith
    Most of all I just want to say that one of the most important things is to believe the Bible alone, as it truly is the Word of God. And not to put our faith in "visions" or books written by others.
    So here are the websites and God Bless.
    Re: kyaira
    on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm
    Hey, girl! I'll be praying for you. The situation you are in must be tough... And not even that word must say enough! Lord, keep Kyaira safe and give her wisdom and strength. You love her and her brother. Show them your love. :)

    Can you talk to your mom first? Or maybe your dad or an older male? They can be in the room or even talk to your brother for you. I don't think it's a good idea for you to go to your brother alone. I would also talk to your pastor and his wife and see if they can help! God has sent many people to help you and work through Him!!

    I love ya girlie! I'll keep praying!
    Ally Elisha
    on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm
    I'm not completely sure what advice to give, but just thought I'd let you know you're not alone in this type of situation. I have a friend who is almost exactly like what you described. I suggest mainly just keep praying for her! Every day!
    Sarah, with the LYWB team
    on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 8:15 am
    ~Jesus is not only the Son of God, He is God

    ~Jesus was not born, He has always, eternally, existed as God

    ~Jesus came to earth to show us the Way to a right relationship with God

    ~Jesus is that Way

    ~Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth, died on the cross, and was resurrected the third day

    ~Jesus now is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us

    ~When you trust in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for your sin, ask forgiveness for your sin, believe in His Name, entrust your life and eternity with Him ~

    ~That makes you a Christian
    Sarah, with the LYWB team
    @Ally Elisha...
    on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 8:32 am
    I know that hurts you for your friend, and you miss the company you had with her. John 3:19-20 explain why that has happened:

    ďThis, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed."

    So, you would treat this girl like any person who needs Christ--be kind to her, take every opportunity to speak the Gospel into her life, and live out the Truth before her. Pray that God will bring her to the Light, Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

    God bless you as you live the Gospel before your friend.
    Sarah, with the LYWB team
    on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 8:46 am
    The New Testament tells us "WIthout faith it is impossible to please God." I am so glad you please and have faith in God.

    When a person accepts Jesus ~ believes in His death on the cross to pay for her sin, acknowledges and asks forgiveness for her sin, and trusts in Jesus for her life and eternity~ then the Holy Spirit comes into her life. (If you have any question about these truths or want Scriptures for them, make sure you write again!).

    When trouble comes, and it does to everyone because we live in a broken world, a world where sin has entered in and the curse of sin has brought trouble and pain to all, then Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is there to walk with us and help us. We don't trust in Jesus so that we don't have anymore trouble, we trust in Jesus so that we can have a right relationship with God and know His strength and comfort to face the troubles of this life.

    One day, Jesus will return and redeem (buy back) His own and the earth. There will be a day when we live with God and never have any more sorrow, or crying or pain. We live in faith that our eternal home will be with God. (See Revelation 21)
    Sarah, with the LYWB team
    on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 8:56 am
    I'm praying the same as CherryBlossom for you today: "I hope that God shows you His boundless, unconditional love today, and that you may feel accepted and worthy in His sight."

    Believe the truth of His Word ~ read it, believe it, memorize it ~ HE LOVES YOU and accepts you in the Beloved. "... to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
    (Ephesians 1:6)
    Sarah's checklist
    on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm
    Eight things on your checklist- eight things I learned at my own church. I can't insist any louder. And I will never convince you of things you refuse to believe. I can only bear my testimony that we believe these things, whether you believe me or not.
    Kathryn- I love the Bible and believe it to be the word of God and would never ever put the writings of man ahead of it. But it is a book of "visions" darling girl. You don't have to believe that Jesus spoke to other prophets, but you must admit there is no evidence in the Bible that he wouldn't. On the contrary, he spoke of his "sheep that are not of this fold".
    Kathryn, if you want to know the truth, ask ME or another Mormon. Don't ask these websites. They are just regurgitating the same lies they have for over a hundred years.
    I shouldn't even be responding. I don't want to argue. I love you guys. I love my Saviour. I love his gospel and I love my church. But there is nothing more to say. We are at an impasse. My covenant to our Saviour will stand without your approval. He loves me and I am in the church he wants me to be in. The Holy Ghost tells us what is true- not my insisting or yours. Peace.
    Lorree, with the LYWB team
    @ Kyaira
    on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm
    It is probably not a good idea to bring this up to your brother in private. You are not in a position to do that. I would encourage you to talk to your mom about it and then pray for her wisdom. Perhaps your mom could speak to your pastor about what is going on in your home and get some support from that direction. He may be able to suggest an older godly woman that could meet with you, pray with you and support or encourage you during this time.

    Would it be possible for you to get some earplugs or something so that you donít have to listen to what goes on in his room? Or at least when you hear him, that could be a reminder to pray for him. Although you want to change him, you canít. But God can. So by praying for him you are entrusting him to the One who can change him from the inside out.

    Iíve paused and prayed for your safety and for your wisdom, Kyaira. Iíve also prayed for your family as they walk through this difficult time together.
    on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm
    I know this is kind of a late comment, but I have a question that's been eating at me. I have a really close Mormon friend (and a few other close ones) that I hang out with at school everyday. Whenever we talk about the Bible and Christianity, I always ask them a ton of questions about how they know this or that and they say "It will be revealed to us when we get to heaven." They believe that if they're good enough, when they die, they will become like Jesus and become gods of their own planets. This doesn't make any sense to me because that means their god isnt almighty and eternal (yet they say so in their sacrament prayer). I don't know how to show them that their faith isn't Christian, because they insist they are just a denomination of Christianity. At first I was kind of accepting, like I am of Baptists (im Pentecostal). But since I've learned about their belief (they told me what I wrote above) I've realized their god isn't the God I worship and serve. How can I show them with love that they are on the path to death? How do I find a way to show them that the Trinity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are true and that their faith will lead them to hell, and not to their own world? It breaks my heart every time they talk about being Mormon.
    Lorree, with the LYWB team
    @ Irina
    on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm
    We so appreciate your heart for your friends' eternal destination! And we also appreciate your ability to discern truth from error in regards to their beliefs. One of the best ways to help them recognize the error to their thoughts is simply to ask questions. The goal of these questions is to cause them to wonder and think about what they believe. Itís important to always keep Scripture between you and them. The major difference between Christianity and other religions is our view of who Jesus is and what He does.

    You can find a great example of what Iím talking about here:

    Iíve paused and prayed for you and your friends, Irina! May God soften their hearts to the gospel and a right view of Jesus. And may He give you soft boldness as you share the gospel with them.

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