Sunday, March 4, 2012

Faith and Doubt - Communication

The idea of communication with God is something that I have always had some questions about.  I understand the use of prayer as our means to communicate with God.  I also was taught that God communicates to us through his word the Bible.  In addition, I know there are those that believe God communicates directly with them through dreams and visions.  I never seemed to have that experience.  Then there are those that say God speaks to their heart in some feeling kind of way.  For example when faced with a decision to move to either California or New York, people will say the Lord led me to New York.  Over my 28 years as a Christian, I never could get the firm "leading" that would direct me any more than the way I was leaning based on my own preference.
The largest question that I have is why doesn't God want to communicate with us overtly.  It has been 2000 years since Jesus' time on Earth.  Two thousand years since the events recorded in the Bible took place.  Why can't or hasn't there been any communication since.  Two thousand years on the human scale is a long time.  What form or manner such communication would take, I have no idea.  Humans are sociable beings and desire to communicate.  The telephone, television, and the internet are all popular because they allow us to communicate.    Of coarse, communication seems to me to allow for clarity and better understanding.  I know the human race right now needs more understanding and clarity.  What is so bad about that?  What do you think?

Do You Want God?

If you were in charge of everything and if it was totally up to you, would you want God?  I know I do.  When I think of God, I think of the prospect of eternal life.  I suppose this is a bit selfish of me, but I rather like "being".  You know, as opposed to "not being".  So the idea of eternal life sounds pretty good.  I know life is hard.  You may be broke.  You may have mean neighbors or a crappy boss.  Maybe the IRS is after you or your health is bad.  There are countless numbers of problems and hardships.  Even so, isn't being alive something special?   It just seems that with enough time we could work things out.  I don't know how eternal life would be, but there is just so much to learn and experience with enough time.  For me it is somewhat hard to imagine "not being".   I suppose that it is just before we were born, we were just nothing.
If it were up to me, I also would want a final arbiter.  A God of infinite wisdom to fairly judge us.  In other words, someone to settle the accounts.  I believe that there is evil in this world.  To me it just doesn't seem fair if the child killer when he dies is in the same state of nothingness as the good guy.  It seems that there should be some form of reckoning.  Well as usual, I don't know.  What do you think?

Faith and Doubt - My History

So you can fully understand where I am in my spiritual journey, I thought I should share with you my background.  I was born into a family that believed in God in some sense, but was not very active in church.  My mother was raised as a Catholic and made sure that I was baptized.   My father was just not around much.   It's funny, I remember my mother seldom went to church, but made sure I went to catechism once a week after school!
I was somewhat of a sickly child with asthma before there was much medicine to help it.  Maybe this is why I can remember having a great interest in God.  It made sense to my childish mind that if God is all-powerful, then I would do well to get to know him.
Throughout my teen years, I didn't have much use for God.  That soon changed when I met my high school sweetheart and later wife.  She was a committed Christian and as our relationship grew, it was apparent that my lack of religion was a concern to her.  She invited me to attend her Southern Baptist church.  It was a very small church that had fewer than 100 attenders on a typical Sunday.  I was  not against going and rather enjoyed the experience.  After having talks of religion with her and attending her church for sometime, I have to admit it was the first time I had ever heard or understood the need for salvation.  I was instructed that I needed a personal relationship with Christ to be saved.    I remember being alone in my bed the night that I decided to ask for forgiveness of my sins and for Jesus to save me.
I continued to attend this church, as well as study my Bible.  I really began to enjoy learning more about the Bible and doing more in depth Bible studies under the tutelage of our pastor.  After several years we were married at that church.  I felt that we really were a part of the Church family.  We would attend Sunday mornings, then go back for Sunday evenings service.  We would also usually attend on Wednesday nights for prayer and Bible study.  Often on Sunday nights we would have a pot luck dinner at the church and enjoy a time of fellowship.  I have to say that I loved it.  I felt confident that what we believed was "right", and that every one else was simply wrong.  I felt that we were in the place that God would have us in, and that we were following the teachings of the pastor that God had placed in our church.  My faith continued to grow over the 10 years we were members.
This confidence was forcefully stripped away when our pastor, whom I was very fond of and so very trusted, was accused and later convicted of felony sexual crimes.  The man that I had felt was God's man.  The man that I had so naively, but whole heatedly trusted for 10 years was nothing but a fraud.  I learned from this that one can never know, truly know another person from just being around them or listening to them.  However, I was careful to limit the blame to the man, the pastor, and not blame God.
After this, we moved away from the area and tried several new churches over the next fifteen  years.  I would typically do a cycle where I would be desiring God, then not wanting to do much with God.  I would go from being involved in church, to just sporadic attendance.  I went from trying to get my friends and neighbors to church, to the past year I have only attended church on Christmas.  It has been 28 years since I accepted Christ as my personal savior.  Twenty eight years since I asked Jesus to save me.  I have went from feeling I knew all the answers to now thinking I do not know anything.
So this is a brief sketch of my spiritual journey.  Over the next several posts I will fill in more of my beliefs and experiences.  I will share why, although I still call myself a Christian, I certainly have some doubts.  I would love to hear from you about your beliefs.  Do you ever have any doubts?