If we don’t read the word of God can we admit to ourselves we don’t really hunger for the God behind the word?
If we don’t read the word of God can we admit to ourselves we don’t really hunger for the God behind the word?
I’m starting a segment on my blog called TruthHurts. A “TH” is one specific statement that is meant to be a blast from the truth that moves us to wake up and think. Think of it as a reality check for Christians. I hope it challenges you to deeper things.
If your faith doesn’t revolve around helping those in need and showing grace to others, perhaps better words for what you practice is a “customized religion” rather than “genuine faith.”
If I got a B on a paper I would sulk and pout and lose sleep for days over it. I couldn’t take anything but perfection when it came to grades, which I had to constantly fight to try and achieve. I stressed myself out in school, constantly worrying about my grades and my future. When I would make the grade, I could not enjoy the moment because another paper or test was pending. It was exhausting.
Any overachievers relate to me? Anyone plagued by perfectionism? Do you ever feel guilty if you don’t work yourself to death on something? Are you what some might call a control freak? Here is a news alert… God doesn’t need you to try so hard. In fact it could be detrimental to your soul.
The Christian life is a paradox in many ways. We gain our life only when we lose it. The least will actually be first. Giving is better than receiving. When it comes to how we are to live, God is not interested in how much we can achieve for Him. That might shock you but you won’t find verses in the Bible that says, Thou shalt achieve great things for God.
He doesn’t want our efforts as much as He wants our surrender. He put His Holy Spirit in us and gave us the authority of Jesus to accomplish life altering, earth-shattering, transformative things for Him. That doesn’t come via talent, hard work, ingenuity, or anything else we could accomplish on our own. That comes through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, in us.
It doesn’t mean God doesn’t want our best effort or to use our talents but His word is full of stories of uneducated, unqualified, unprepared participants who didn’t have any influence or position yet changed the world around them. When we read the stories of these men and women, we are not noticing what a great person they were but rather, what a great God they served!
Reality check… you are not capable or equipped to do this life your own strength in a way that will honor God. You need help. You need Jesus. Your greatest efforts will fall short of the eternal, kingdom advancing work God wants to do through you.
Some of you have worn yourself out trying to change your spouse, train your kids, make a business successful, maintain a family on the verge of falling apart, all by your will power and effort. It leaves you weary and on edge. You are frustrated on how little control you have to make things happen. Truth is God doesn’t call us to juggle all of this. He isn’t testing us to see how much we can achieve. This stuff is too big for us!
You want to be a great parent to your children? You want to be an influential grandparent on your grandchildren? You want to live for something greater than a paycheck and two garage house? Then you will have to surrender your talents, your wisdom, your control, your effort to the Lord and allow Him to inspire you, empower you, and lead you into His purposes.
That’s great Dax but what if it doesn’t work? What if I do that and my kids, grandchildren, or job do not cooperate? Instead of getting frustrated you rest in the knowledge that you are trusting them to God and that He will work in The best way and at the right moment. You find peace in a God who sympathizes with you when those you love make horrible mistakes and refuse to change. You rest in the fact that God is doing things you can’t always see and will always prove Himself faithful.
Whatever you are going through right now, which one of these questions best speak to your approach: Am I putting more effort into trying to fix what I perceive as the problem OR more effort into submitting to the Holy Spirit to receive whatever He would have me to learn and do in this situation? There is a Grand Canyon difference between these two perspectives. One is a futile attempt to do things you cannot do. The other is a place of rest and peace as you surrender to His will. Which one you choose will make all the difference in what kind of person you are.
I am truly an infected saint. I doubt that God exists more than I care to admit. I have preached through much of the Scriptures. I have been through more schooling than should be allowed. I have dedicated my life to following Christ. Yet, I have times of doubt. Times where I wonder if it is real. “Is there anything beyond this life?,” is a question that whispers to me sometimes.
Honestly, I don’t like living by faith. I can see your face right now. It’s a look of disappointment. A pastor that doesn’t want to live by faith?! Shame on you, Dax. Yet, I really would like to know by visible signs. Not just trust and hope. I’d like for the Spirit to descend like a dove from the clouds and talk to me.Or a burning bush to start speaking to me in a divine voice and tell me to remove my Nikes because I am on holy ground. I want to know God is really there, that Jesus really walked on water and was raised from the dead.
I have staked my life on a God I cannot see, touch, hear, or prove. The skeptics laugh and ridicule. They are willing to bet their entire existence on the idea that He does not exist. As John Ortberg said in his book, Faith and Doubt, “If God is there, why doesn’t He make more noise?”
Most people in our world believe in God. The minority who doesn’t believe in a higher power might dismiss the majority view as a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, or “appeal to the people” — simply because many people believe something to be true doesn’t make it true. But my faith is not based on the masses’ belief. It doesn’t hurt or help my faith that many believe.
I have faith because His word has been tested in my life. I cannot deny my own experiences. My salvation experience was supernatural. In that moment in 1992, I became acutely aware of my frailty and smallness in this universe. God revealed His glory and grace. It was beyond compelling… it was transformative. God is always there as I have faith to look. I see His hand working. I recognize His intervention in my life. Faith has been my rock and refuge in an unpredictable and often cruel world.
I even praise Him for the times of doubt because God has used it to strengthen my faith. These moments of doubt remind me why my faith is so powerful in my life.
What about you? Do you feel shame when you doubt? You shouldn’t. Doubt is part of being human. God is bigger than our doubt. Some of the greatest spiritual moments in my life occurred when I came out of a valley of doubt. Doubt makes my faith stronger. It causes me to question things and to seek Truth more. I don’t need a sign to be strong in my belief. Didn’t work for Israel. Wouldn’t work for me.
God is not easily found by our senses because He wants us to come to Him in the right way. Like Israel of old, miraculous signs and wonders would just leave us feeling entitled and wanting more and more sensational showings by God. We wouldn’t be satisfied enough to be fully devoted to Him. It is in faith that we find our strength and resolve. For “blessed are those who have not yet seen but still believe.” John 20:29.
Over the last few months I have connected with “KIA,” a fellow blogger. He responded to my blog post about “Witnessing to Atheists.” KIA is a gifted poet and strong thinker. I was intrigued by his story, as he was once a minister. KIA has left the faith. I asked if he would allow me to interview him and he obliged me. I think it is vital that more dialogue happen between us Christians and those who think differently than we do. Here is the unedited, unabridged interview.
1. What do you consider yourself (Atheist, Agnostic, Other) and would you please explain what it means to you?
I don’t really know how i would Identify. as least not at this point in time. i don’t think i’m atheist because i still believe there ‘might’ be a god/gods, but i no longer believe we would ever know it if there were, nor would we be able to demonstrate their existence in the ‘real’ world. i guess for me, at least for now, the question becomes irrelevant. Who am i now? I’m just me, like i’ve always been. That’s who I am.
2. You were one time in the Christian Faith. Could you explain how you came to be part of the Christian Faith and how committed would you say you were to the faith?
Yes, I was a christian/disciple of jesus for 34 yrs, 25 of those in what i will refer to as ‘Avocational’ ministry of various forms. From teaching, evangelism (street and otherwise), international missions in two different countries and the US in the inner cities of the phoenix az area (gangs and kids pre-gang). I’ve led homegroups, led worship in small groups, outreach and church settings and have discipled men (my personal forte and passion for the last 20 years). I’d say i was about as committed and flexible a ‘disciple of jesus’ i’ve ever known without remaining a celebate, lifelong missionary in a third world country. I’ll match my ministry C.V. to anyone, anyday.
3. Why did you leave the faith? Would you describe that journey?
Evidence. Evidence had convinced me that i had been wrong about the very foundations of the Truth Claims and claims to Archaeological/Historical accuracy and the Textural Integrity of the Bible as a whole as God’s Word. to quote a verse slightly modified, “If the foundations be destroyed…” what is a christian to do but deconvert?
4. What is your take on Christians today? If you had then all gathered up in a room to listen to you what would you say?
My take on Christians today? I would hope they are like me, asking questions and searching for answers, even if those answers lead them away from what they believed as irrefutable and incontrovertible Truth. What would I say? Don’t be afraid to Think, read and question for yourself. Don’t ever stop growing in your knowledge and curiosity of the world around you and how you fit into it. Overall, Think for yourself and don’t let anyone tell you to just accept the answers you are given.
5. What advice would you give Christians on dialoging with those they disagree with?
Be respectful, diligent and courteous. listen and allow yourself to think thru the questions and the answers from both positions. “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. be open and ready to learn, but also ready to express and exchange what you hold to be true.
6. If Christianity is a farce why do you think millions and millions have followed it since the time of Jesus, many even to their deaths?
Millions of people believing something to be true, “even unto death” is not evidence of it actually being true. Realize, there are millions of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus who have also lived and died for the Truth of their beliefs. would you concede the same ‘value’ to their convictions that they are true beliefs? i’m not sure you would.
Thanks to KIA for taking the time to answer my questions. If you have a question for him I am sure we will respond.
You can also check out his site at https://recoveringknowitall.wordpress.com