Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Foundation in Truth and Logic

I have been going to church as long as I can remember. My grandparents began a faith foundation in my life. I loved them, so I loved what they loved. I sang the songs, prayed the prayers and remembered Bible verses for candy and star stickers. I was told I could live forever if I asked Jesus into my heart. Who doesn't want to live forever? and as a child, you simply believe what you are told. The foundation of my childhood faith was built on the faith of others. "You believe X, I trust you, so I believe X too.

I made a profession of faith in Jesus at the age of 13. It was an emotional decision. I felt emotionally pulled. I felt something I had never felt before, and I acted on it.
I was given a Bible and told to start reading it. I did. Every night I read, sometimes one page sometimes for hours. The foundation of my childhood would now be strengthened by faith in a book. I believe this book because you believe this book. I was told this book was the truth.

I believed the Bible said a lot of good things about how to live life. Most of my teen years I lived life with a better Biblical knowledge than the majority of my peers but wasn't really transformed by it. My faith looked like this: You are saved, here is the rule book, now be good.

In High school, my youth pastor took me under his wing. He treated me like a friend. He loved me and invested time in me. He made this book of rules come alive and showed me how to apply it to my life.

Let me get to the point. My faith foundation for the first 18 years of my life was built on other people's faith, emotion, fear of hell, and trusting a book everyone said was true.

I almost lost my Faith in Bible College
I decided to go to college for ministry. If I really believed the Bible then what bigger calling is there than sharing it. I took a class on the Old Testament that completely shook me. I found out what someone never told me in 18 years. God didn't write the Bible. Not only that, it wasn't written in English. I know this seems obvious to you, but when your entire faith is built on a book, it can shake you when you begin to find out new information about it. When I found out that some of what is in my Bible isn't in all of the other Bibles, I had to come to a point of blind faith. I am just going to believe it because I need to believe it. My entire life is built on this so while I cant fully grasp it I am just going to trust.

Foundation update
My foundation now consists of Other people's faith, emotion, community, fear, a book, and when all else failed blind faith. Let's call them faith ropes. Things that keep you tied to your position.

When your entire world comes crumbling down. 
When I went through my divorce in 2012, it was a life-shaking moment. Here is the thing, you don't need a lot of faith ropes when your life is good. I had my family, great in-laws, great parents, a great church, a great job, and good friends. It is pretty easy to have faith when in all reality you don't need it. It's almost like praying for daily bread when you know you have a pantry full of Doritos and food to last weeks. When it begins to crumble you begin to analyze, usually. I was in crisis mode and only one thing mattered.

The only thing on my mind was how do I keep as much of my kids time as possible. Nothing mattered more to me. Was I emotionally stable enough to be a pastor? No, but I needed the money and the prestige for any court battle I may get into. The best way for me to provide for my kids was to be a pastor. Great hours, good enough pay, work from home.

My foundation was weakened
The foundation that was once solid enough to hold up a happy home was beginning to crumble. My emotion was gone. I was mad at God, but I still feared hell, had faith in a book, and needed, more than anything, the community of people that my faith brought me. But, I never dealt with it. I allowed my anger and frustrations to erode the joy in my life.

Why I'm not an Atheist
I came to a point in my life where I had to know if God exists. The emotion wasn't enough for me, the community wasn't enough for me, and if hell doesn't exist then I didn't need to fear it. I had spent my whole life trying to do good, and follow the rules, and it wasn't bringing me the fruits that I wanted. "You're supposed to protect me!" 2015 and 2016 I spent a lot of time digging into does "God exist?" I was still trusting Him and preaching his grace and mercy every Sunday. I knew that if he does exist that He was big enough to handle my honest and open doubts. Like the father in Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Even in my darkest moments, I put one foot in front of the other. I spent hours upon hours reading, studying the evidence, arguing with atheists. 

I steadily came to a conclusion that looks like this. Historically, Jesus really existed and really died. We live in a world where life came from non-life. It is then possible for new life to come to dead life if life can come from nothing. I fond the New Testament documents to be accurate and trustworthy. Not because grandpa said so but because there is a lot of evidence to substantiate them. More so than many of the documents used to compose the history books our kids are taught from in school. 

God was preparing me for a Broken Halo
 He was solidifying my foundation for a moment such as this. When the emotional rope has been cut, when I looked at all I had and said it isn't worth it, I looked at my community and said it isn't worth it, looked at my kids, and my wife and said you aren't worth it, when I had burnt every inch of everything I had ever built to the ground a foundation of truth, logic, and reason remained that I could not walk away from. I was going to try and drag it with me wherever I was going, but because I spent real time digging into who God is, I couldn't pretend He didn't exist, rather I had to turn my back on Him and simply say I don't trust you. I wanted to do it my self.

What is your foundation built on?

1 comment:

  1. After reading your testimony to your foundation, I realize that mine is built on the same one as yours. I adored my grandparents too, and they are still the best examples of Christians I have ever met.
    At university I studied the Bible from a secular perspective and decided that the New Testament is very valid while I view some parts of the Old Testament, such as Leviticus, as more historical in nature and less as instructive spiritual guides.
    As far as I know, God has directly spoken to me once, but He has spoken to me through nature, my conscience, the words and examples of others, and through music countless times. I have personally witnessed two medical miracles, one in my Grandma Webster and one in me. That is my foundation, and it sustains me.