Monday, December 31, 2007

Stages of Faith

"What stages has your faith gone through?"

I had faith from even before my birth in Christ. I always knew somehow that someone was watching out for me for some reason. I couldn't really put my finger on God for that, because I didn't really know Him. As a result, I flitted about from false religion to false religion to no religion at all for a large portion of my life. But this doesn't mean I had no faith. It was merely misplaced faith.

At one point, I was involved in the New Age movement. You know, "I am that I Am," and all of that. I was getting into the candles and the crystals, thinking that I could channel the power inherent in them to bring my life under my control. You can't, you know. I don't know of anyone who has gone that route who has been able to get their life under their control by sheer force of will. Since we're all unfinished business, we usually end up fouling up what we have control over. Or, at least, what we think we have control over.

The next stage of my faith was my attempt at following Christ while mired in denominations. I was still in the Marines at that time, and on my dog tags under religious preference I had entered "Christian." I knew denominationalism is wrong, but I couldn't quantify it. Just as importantly, I didn't know how to find other people who believed the same way to worship with. So I prayed about it.

As I wrote earlier, I met Tommy Thompson at a swimming pool party in Santa Cruz, CA back in 1989. It was Tommy who taught me about the Lord's church, about denominationalism and about baptism. He baptized me and helped me further both my knowledge and my faith.

I left Santa Cruz in 1992 to go sing with a singing group in Arkansas and immediately my faith leaped to another level. I'd never been on the road with a Christian singing group before, so I got to learn many new things. In singing with several singing groups now, along with Christian education, the added knowledge along with experience has brought my faith to unbelievable levels.

Ironically, the thing that did the most to build my faith was my divorce in 2000. I remember a family taking me in and sharing their roof and food with me while I looked for housing. I remember waking up with a bible in my hand, reading through teary eyes. I remember praying with a soggy voice to a God that I know was the only hope in that dark time. I recall being reminded that God always answers, but sometimes the answer is "no."

Somehow, I was brought through the other side. I don't know how God did it, but here I am. And that has brought me farther along than just about anything else I've been through. I think it helped me to minister to jail inmates in their dark times. We share something in common, they and I. Rock bottom can be a real bear.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Is God Fair?

"In view of Romans chapter 9 have you ever wondered whether God plays fair?"

Of course I've wondered whether God plays fair. I don't know if fair is what God is shooting for. I know God is just. I know God is love. But a "fair" God would not have allowed me to grow up in group homes. A "fair" God would not have allowed a philandering politician to cheat on his wife some 70 years ago and have an illegitimate child whom he then ignored. A "fair" God would not have allowed a musical child prodigy to gradually go deaf.

A "fair" God would not have allowed a barren couple to have a baby and then force the dad to attempt to sacrifice his son. A "fair" God would not have allowed a liar from a family of liars to be the genesis of God's chosen nation. A "fair" God would not have allowed a murderer and an adulterer to be labeled as a man after God's own heart. A "fair" God would not have ordered a man to marry a prostitute and still require him to preach to His chosen people.

A "fair" God would not have allowed a persecutor to write most of the New Testament. A "fair" God would not have allowed a Jesus denier to preach the first Gospel sermon. A "fair" God would not have allowed His new people to be persecuted by the Jews AND the Romans.

And a "fair" God absolutely, positively, most certainly would not have allowed His only Son to die for the sins of all mankind.

The wonderful thing in all of this is that God is merciful, not just "fair." He is merciful in that the group home resident is now able to minister to inmates in a county jail. He is merciful in that the illegitimate child became a great gospel preacher. He is merciful in that He gave us some of Beethoven's greatest works AFTER the composer went deaf.

He is merciful in that many nations were raised from that barren family. He is merciful in giving imperfect people a chance to take part in His Kingdom.

He is merciful in redeeming us with His only Son.

I'm thankful that God is more merciful than fair.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Sad Anniversary

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On this day 27 years ago, the world lost quite a voice. A mind. A musician. A poet. An artist.

December 8, 1980 was the day we lost John Winston Lennon.

I remember that day for the Howard Cosell announcement on Monday Night Football. December 8, 1980 had a huge impact on me, though not on that day. I was a Beatles listener, though not yet really a fan. I had just owned a hand-me-down copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for about a couple of months, maybe, and, since I was only 13, the full weight of what had happened didn't really strike me at the time.

As I got older and the Beatles' influence grew in my life, the realization of just what had been lost began to dawn. John Lennon meant a lot to me, personally. I remember listening to Plastic Ono Band, crying myself to sleep over "Mother" as I mourned the loss of my own mother's relationship. I remember pantomiming "I Am The Walrus" in time to the music in front of my foster brothers. I remember listening through headphones in absolute wonderment to "A Day In The Life" and "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." I also remember singing along with "Watching The Wheels" on lazy Summer days.

When I got a little older, I realized that I had some disagreements with his political stance and his religious (or non-religious) views, and I had some problems with the simmering cauldron of temper that seemed to continuously find its way to the forefront. However, I never lost my love for his ability to craft poetry and set it to music. We can look past certain things to appreciate beauty, you know.

It's a dirty rotten shame that the man who wrote "Grow Old Along With Me" didn't get to. It would have been interesting to see how age would have affected his writing and his public persona.

We miss you, John.

Locations of visitors to this page

free website counter