Does God Even Exist?

It’s been since October of last year that I’ve written here.  I think the reason is mainly because I’ve felt I had nothing to write.  I have, in a sense, taken the last 6 months off from truly wrestling with faith in God.  I still think about it daily, but I reached a point where I didn’t even want to try anymore.

I had a conversation last night with a good friend.  Got to dump some of my more recent thoughts, which felt good, and got me thinking about trying to think about it all more and write about it, as I find that writing it helps me process it (hence the name of the title of my blog).  So I am going to dump out a bunch of thoughts in this post.

Yesterday, for the first time in a while, I read some of the Bible.  I read John 2:13 through the end of chapter 3.  I prayed for a while before I read, asking God to help me, or show up somehow, or to make what I read mean something to me.  And, in like-fashion for me, nothing helpful came of it.  In fact, I finished being more frustrated.  One thing that really stuck out to me was 2:18-20:

The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do you show us as your authority for doing these things?”  Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?”

Perhaps things were very different with the culture of the time in terms of communication back when this conversation might have happened.  But one thing our culture highly values today is when people answer questions clearly and directly.  In context, Jesus had come into the temple and was really upset at what he saw going on, and he overturned the money changer’s tables and drove them out.  At this point, curious Jews confronted Jesus and wanted to know what was happening.  Jesus’ answer was not clear at all, and that is made evident by how they responded to Jesus’ answer.  Why wasn’t Jesus just clear with them?  Sure, we can make sense of this 2000 years later, but the Jews who questioned him at the time had no idea, and they were the most important audience at the time.

That got me thinking and recalling that there are a great number of times that Jesus either answered questions, or spoke to people in cryptic ways.  As God, coming to earth as a man with the goal of salvation for humanity whom God supposedly loves all, why was he not precise and clear with us?

———-

Having spent many years at Bethlehem Baptist Church during and after college, I couldn’t help but be surrounded with talks and teaching on Calvinism and election.  As much as I wish I could not think about it, I still do from time to time.  I sometimes wonder if I am hitting a wall with God.  I want to believe, but he simply won’t let me, because he hasn’t chosen me.

We as humans sometimes strive so hard to find reasons for the ways things are, or for why difficult things happen.  We think that knowing the reason will bring resolve.  That is clearly what I am doing here when I have these thoughts.  For years I have been praying, reading, studying, and begging God for help, and I feel as if nothing has happened.  It seems like it has been as helpful as praying to a brick wall.  In my personal reality, based on my personal evidence and attempts, there simply is nothing there – there is no God (at least none that cares to have any relationship of any kind with me).

I’m not saying that that’s what I believe necessarily, but that is what my reality feels like.  It is uncomfortable, and I hate it.  I have never been more discontent with where I’m at spiritually.  So when wondering why I’m in the state that I’m in, I can’t help but sometimes think that there are perhaps only two options:  Either God exists but has purposefully decided that I am not one of his chosen – he’s locked the door on me, or there is no God (of the Bible at least).

———-

So what do I do with all of this?  I really don’t know.  Many of my Christian friends would say that I’ve given God a really good try.  Some have even told me that if they were in my shoes, they may have given up on it well before the point I’m at.  I seem to have far better personal evidence and experience that the God of the Bible does not exist.  Or perhaps he does exist, but clearly doesn’t care about me at all.  How much longer do I try?  At what point should I feel comfortable with giving up?  What else should I do?

I really can’t find anyone else that is or has been in a really similar position as me, which is difficult.  Sure, some people have gone through times of doubt, but everyone that I’ve talked to seemed to have a much more “minor case” than this.

There’s something in me that keeps causing me to not give up.  Most Christians I talk to tell me that’s God.  Other people will say that it’s due to my growing up in the church and in Christianity, and that the idea of leaving that is naturally going to be uncomfortable, especially something that teaches that you will burn in hell if you don’t believe in it.  What do I think it is?  I honestly don’t know.

———-

So there it is.  As always, I’d be interested to hear any thoughts any of you who have read this might have.

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It’s Been A While – Back To Struggling Hard Again…

It has been about a month and a half since my last post.  I really haven’t had much to share, or much that I have been thinking about worth writing.  I took a break from reading and much of any new learning of anything, and I really haven’t been doing much of anything besides the daily routine of work and family.

I have entered back into a time of serious doubt of the Christian faith.  I haven’t had any bad experiences with the Church or with Christians, unlike my last long bout of doubt.  The main problem is that I’m upset at God, and confused.  I don’t know why he would tell us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7.  I have been doing this for two years, and I feel like I’ve gotten nothing in response from God.

There are many people in the Bible who have doubted, and God has shown up for them to relieve their doubts.  The Bible then shows a willingness on God’s behalf to help us in our doubt, even if it means showing up tangibly before our very eyes.  God willingly revealed himself to Moses on the mount.  He showed himself to Thomas when he claimed that he could only believe if he saw for himself.

I want to believe.  I so badly do.  But I cannot just will myself to do it.  I feel like Thomas where I need to see it myself to believe.  I have been yearning, and asking God for help to believe for two years and I have yet to receive a response.  Why would’t God want to help me?  Why wouldn’t he want to show himself to me to help me believe?  If he did it for others, then why not for me?

I’m frustrated and discouraged.  I feel like I’d love to give up on it all and free this burden from my shoulders.  Yet, for some reason, I feel like I cannot do that either.  I feel caught, and it is no small issue for me.  It affects my outlook on life, and even my mood.  It’s perhaps similar to a mild depression.

Really not sure what to do..  But, wanted to get this off my chest and post about it.

A Fractured Skull, And A Shattered Heart

Yesterday afternoon, my wife was carrying both of our 3-year-old twins down the stairs.  When she reached the 3rd or 4th stair from the bottom, she tripped on her pants and fell.  She was able to control one of them, but the other fell forward out of her arms and landed on the tile floor at the bottom, flat on his back and hitting his head very hard.

I was upstairs working at the time.  I remember hearing a little commotion, but that is completely normal in a house with 3 young boys.  Moments later I heard a cry for my name with an urgency I don’t usually hear.

I rushed downstairs to find my wife sitting in a chair and holding Bryan, the one who fell.  She was extremely emotional, and Bryan was not acting normal at all.  He was limp, and not keeping his head held up.  She told me he had fallen, but she didn’t give me much more information than that through her sobbing.  I immediately feared that he was paralyzed.  I couldn’t get him to respond much at all to me, and at this point he was still just a limp body.  He was also starting to fall asleep amidst his own weak crying.  There was no question that we had to go to the ER.

While all of this is happening, I notice that our oldest son (7) is just standing there confused and scared, and he started crying.  He was really scared and feared that Bryan was dying.  I had to quickly try and explain the situation, and explain that it’s ok to be scared, and that we were heading to get him help.  I think he may have been thinking that Bryan’s falling asleep would have resulted in him dying.  I had to assure him that wasn’t the case.  It was hard to see him so scared.

We rushed to grab a few things and got everyone in the van.  At this point, he had started moving his arms a bit, and he was keeping his head up a little now.  That was a little relieving.  We have heard that with head injuries, that you should try and keep them awake.  So the 10 minute car ride to the ER was quite a challenge to keep him from not falling asleep, as that’s all he seemed to want to do.  Shane got scared again in the commotion of it all.

We got to the ER, got him checked in, and they quickly got him in for a neck x-ray.  As we were getting him ready to leave for the x-ray, he gagged and spit up just a little bit.  Totally normal for children with head trauma.  When he returned, they said they weren’t 100% satisfied with the x-ray, so they put a small neck brace on him.  Unfortunately, he hated it.

Next up was a CAT scan on his neck and head.  It took quite a while for this to happen.  It was maybe an hour or two of just waiting in the room, which was made far more difficult because of his discomfort with the brace.  He continued having cycles where he’d get uncomfortable and start crying for a while.  I just kept rubbing his head and telling him the brace needed to stay on just a little while longer, and that it was there to help him feel better.  He’d tell me “OK” through his tears, to which I would reply with “thank you”, and he’d say a tearful “you’re welcome.”

The technician finally came in to get him for the CAT scans.  They wheeled him out with my wife, and I stayed back with the other two boys.  A while later they returned and we all waited for the results, which wouldn’t come for another hour or two.  We were able to get Bryan to take a nap for a while, which was helpful to break the cycle of his discomfort with the neck brace.

The doc finally came in and told us that his neck looked perfectly fine, which was a huge relief.  At that point he took off the neck brace.  But, he also said that his skull had been fractured.  Fortunately it wasn’t bad for a fracture.  It was just a hairline, but there was also a tiny spot of blood on his brain.  A tiny spot is ok, but it put him at a higher risk of complications.  The doc suggested we transfer him to another hospital in the area so that a neurologist could look him over and look at the CAT scans to see if they should monitor him in the hospital overnight.  This began another long waiting period to get that all setup.  We also were pushing to be able to transfer him ourselves instead of having an ambulance bring him down there.

By this time it was almost 9pm, and none of us had eaten, and the other two boys were getting restless.  So we decided that I would drive them home, get them fed, find someone to come over and be at home with the boys, get an overnight bag prepared in case one of us had to stay the night at the hospital, and then head back.  Our wonderful (seriously) neighbors across the street came over to get them fed and put them to bed and be here with them until we got home.  And then I headed back to the hospital.

By that time, we were cleared to leave and were granted the ability to transfer him ourselves.  It was about a 20 minute drive south.  In the car, Bryan had perked up a little bit, and was talking a little.  His mood was positive, which was really helpful.

We arrived at the new hospital and while we were trying to check him in, he threw up a bit.  This turned out to be extremely helpful because they upped the urgency of us getting a room, and were escorted back to a room minutes later.

Shortly after his first vitals were taken, the doctor came in and gave us a rundown on what they were going to do.  They were uploading his scans into their computers, and lining up a neurologist to take a look.  He said it would take an hour or two before we had an answer about wether we’d have to stay the night or not.  Fortunately, less than an hour later, the doc came back and said that the neurologist gave us the clear to go home.

It took another hour or so until we could actually leave.  In that time, they were preparing a prescription for anti-nausea medication (for the concussion), and we had to speak with a social worker (protocol).  We also had a friend show up unexpected with a care package for us, and to check on us.  That was incredibly kind and thoughtful (thank you!).

We finally headed home at nearly midnight.  Bryan stayed awake the whole car ride, and remained in a pleasant mood.  We got home and put him in our bed so my wife could be right near him if he needed anything during the night, and I slept in the other room so that I could hear and help the other two boys if they needed anything during the night.

Thankfully, we all slept well, and Bryan woke up in a good mood and hasn’t yet complained about any pain.  He didn’t eat as much as the other two, but he is eating and there has been no further vomiting.  It has been a strong medicine for us to see him acting more normally today.


The whole afternoon, and continuing this morning, my wife has really been struggling with the guilt and anguish of having dropped Bryan.  She keeps replaying it all in her head, constantly reminding her of what happened.  An instance like this is not something any parent wants to experience, and she continues to experience it over and over again in her mind.

All throughout the evening, she/we have had to explain to doctors, nurses, a social worker, etc. what happened – every time being painful.  She’s had to battle wondering what other people think of her, and what I think of her.  She’s had to wrestle with the fact that she was the cause of Bryan’s pain and injuries, and for the very expensive hospital bills we will now have to chip away at for a while.

I don’t blame her one bit.  It was an accident that could have happened to anybody.  I have no negative feelings or thoughts toward her.  I have told her that repeatedly, and will continue to do so.  I have no question that she loves our children greatly, and that she’d do anything she could to rewind time to prevent what happened.  She’s a phenomenal mother.  Accidents happen.

She will no doubt continue to play back what happened and get emotional about it.  I’m not going to tell her not to, because the reality is that she won’t be able to stop for a while.  It’s something she will have to deal with for a time.  I will do my best to assure her that it was an accident, that she never wanted it to happen, that I do not blame her in any way, and that Bryan is OK and recovering well, and that I love her.


I am grateful to God that Bryan is OK, and that no severe damage was done.  Many of you have reached out to my wife and I in the last 16 hours or so letting us know that you were praying for us and checking in.  Thank you very much for that.  We have definitely felt loved and supported.

God’s First Interactions With Sinful Humanity

As I have been reading though the first few chapters of Genesis recently, I have found God’s interaction with fallen humanity to be very interesting.  Let’s first look at God’s interactions with humanity before the fall:

In Genesis 1:29-30, God has his first words with Adam, explaining food for him and all of the other creatures on the earth.  In 2:15-17, God puts Adam in the garden of Eden to cultivate it, and commands him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  There certainly may have been other interactions that were not written in Genesis, but up until this point, God has been in a role of authority and command, giving direct role and direction.

Then comes the fall, as Adam and Eve both partake in eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  With the brief enjoyment of the fruit, and with the sweet juice still on their lips, came a responsibility and a knowledge that would be absolutely crushing and unbearable for every human that would ever walk on the earth.  Shortly thereafter, God comes walking in the garden, and there is a shift in how God interacts with them.  Instead of issuing instruction, he asks them a series of four questions in 3:9-13:  “Where are you?”, “Who told you that you were naked?”, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”, “What is this you have done?”.  God certainly isn’t asking these questions because he does not know the answers.

Again we see this in God’s interaction with Cain after God does not regard his offering in 4:3-7.  Cain’s jealousy in the situation made him angry.  Even though God knew Cain’s heart and thoughts, he approached him with questions: “Why are you angry?”, “And why has our countenance fallen?”.

God is not approaching them with a pointed finger and a stern look.  He is reaching into their hearts to allow them to think about the situation for themselves.  He is demonstrating his mercy, his patience, and his love for us even though we have sinned against him.  I think this is helpful in understanding God’s heart for humanity even after the entrance of sin.  I also think it is helpful in thinking about being a father of sinful children, and how to approach them in their disobedience.

What are your thoughts on this?  I would love to hear anything you’d like to add to these thoughts.

Should A Church Freely Provide A Detailed Budget?

My wife and I are starting to attend a new (to us) church.  One thing that interests me more lately is how a church spends its money.  Some might think it’s none of my business, but I think it could be helpful to know for a couple of reasons:  First, I believe that the way a church spends its money is a good reflection of the focus of the church.  Are they focused mostly inward, spending everything on themselves?  Or are they frugal with self-spending and allot a good portion of resources to outward ministries like missions, the poor and needy, etc.?  I once worked at a church for a brief time that only gave .3% of their HUGE budget to missions…  Secondly, if I am going to be involved in giving to the church, I’d like to know that those funds are being used wisely and where the money is going.

That brings me to the title of this post:  Should a church freely provide a detailed budget?  I have never asked a church for a detailed budget before, and I don’t know if I should expect to get denied, or if I should expect the church to gladly provide it for me.  Or, would I be out of line to ask for something like that?

If you feel like commenting, I’d be interested to hear any of the following:

  • What are your thoughts on how churches spend their money?
  • Should how churches spend their money be a factor in deciding on a church?
  • Should it be alright for anyone to request a detailed church budget?
  • What attitude should a church have when someone requests a detailed budget?

A Christian Duty To Ourselves And Others

When Christians gather together, what do they talk about?  Obviously there can be a million different answers to that question, but what have you observed or experienced at your own church, being in small groups, or being with Christian friends?

Often times, in my own experiences, the conversations are really not much different at all from the rest of the world.  There is a lot of talk about sports, TV shows, the weather, kids, and so on.  There is certainly nothing wrong with talking about any of these things, but what I have noticed is that there is an incredible lack of talk about God, the Gospel, true issues or needs in life, spirituality, critical thinking about life, etc.  Why, as Christians, do we not talk about these things? Why do we seem to stay mostly at a surface level?

My assessment of this is that we do not really have anything to contribute on that level.  The things that are on our minds, and thus things we want to talk about, are the things we are feeding our minds most.  I believe that the problem is that we are not feeding our minds with the Scriptures, with good books and articles, and we are not thinking critically about our lives as believers in God.  Instead, we are glued to our phones, computers, and televisions, thinking that we “deserve to relax” after work or after taking care of the kids all day, or we simply do not see a need or do not have a desire to do it.

I believe that we have a duty as Christians not only to ourselves, but to those around us as well, to be filling our mind with Godly things.  By doing so, we not only help and encourage ourselves in the faith, we are also becoming more equipped to bring something meaningful or helpful to others.

So, I want to encourage us all to take ownership in the body of believers.  If we are one body, we must all work together and contribute to the betterment of the body.  Let’s encourage one another in the faith instead of being content with little to no forward progress.  Don’t rely on everyone else do all the work, bring something to offer!  Your thoughts and perspective are needed!

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  – Hebrews 10:24-25

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  – Romans 12:1-2

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  – Philippians 4:8

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  – Colossians 3:1-2

 

Giving To People On The Street

I was with a group of people recently, and a ragged and dirty looking older man walked up to me and asked for some money to pay for his shelter and food for the night.  Immediately, a flood of thoughts and questions came to my mind:

  • Is this guy even homeless?
  • Is he just another one of those guys faking it to get free money?
  • If I give him money, is he just going to buy drugs or alcohol with it?  Do I let that control if I give or not?
  • How should I feel if I gave him money that enabled him to get high or drunk again?  Is that partially my fault?
  • Should I not give him money but offer something else so I can have more control over what he does with what I give him?
  • Should I just tell him no?
  • If I give him money, should I say anything?  If so, what should I say?
  • How much should I give to him?

I felt like I should give him something.  He asked for six bucks, and in my wallet I only had a one and a ten.  I hesitantly gave him the ten.  He told me “thank you” and “God bless”.  The walking cane that he seemed to rely on when he approached me no longer seemed necessary when he walked away.  Had he forgotten the pains in his leg when he walked because of his gladness of the gift, or was it the cane just a lie to generate more sympathy for him?  Did he use the money for the reason he asked for?  I’ll never know.

After the man left our presence, all of the people I was with spoke up and said that they wouldn’t have given him anything.  Many of the reasons were due to questions and thoughts surrounding the questions I listed above.  Everyone who spoke up  was a Christian.  Should this be surprising, or not?  Should this be the Christian’s mentality toward giving to someone who asks?

Giving to people on the street is a challenging topic because there really are a lot of people who are faking their condition, or homeless by choice so that they can mooch off of people willing to give them free money.  But there are also people going through really rough situations who are truly homeless and in need.  It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to know sometimes.  How should we handle this?  Should we give without question, or should we not give anything on the chance that the person asking does not genuinely need it?  What do you think?