I know that you claim that you can't argue to god using reason, etc, but surely you must have some reason for belief in your particular religious faith vs. any other, correct? What is that reason and why is it compelling? Further, do you have any reasons that you feel are compelling coming from you but are not compelling coming from someone with a different set of beliefs?
These are tough questions because it is hard to explain God to someone that can't see Him, or has felt His presence - but as always, I'll try.
Me personal experience with God was a total surprise to me, and it wasn't in a church. I didn't say the sinner's prayer, or respond to an altar call. I was at an Alateen conference and they were closing it with the "God as We Understand Him" meeting. It was a bunch of kids that got up there and expressed their thoughts on the "higher power". I was an atheist at the time.I was telling some of the kids waiting in line how I didn't believe in God. Somewhere between that statement, and the microphone, I felt a strange presence. I was born again right there. The experience is still indescribable, and that was in 1978. HERE is more on that story.
To answer why I believe what I believe is more difficult - so I will explain that process. I am a programmer, so everything needs to be scripted, and orderly. In 1982, I decided to read that Bible for myself. I grew up in a church with no power, and no presence, but lots of religion. HERE is more on that. I also went to a healing meeting where a little boy was healed of a club foot! HERE is more on that story. That kind of stuff gets your attention.
I have read that Bible 7 times cover-to-cover in 5 different translations. (NIV, RSV, NAS, AMP, NKJ) and I like the Message to just read. Each time I would read it, I would find something that was really cool - healing, prophesy, the coin in the fishes mouth - I wanted to experience it. I also read HUNDREDS of books about the supernatural and went ot Bible School, seminary, and ministry school. I think I've heard it all. HERE is more on denominations.
I am a simple guy. I thought if Jesus came and found me at the God meeting, people told me that He could do stuff, and this little boy was healed, then I ought to get out there and see it for myself. I didn't really follow any specific denomination, but I spent years as a Charismatic Episcopalian, a few years in some evangelical churches, a few more in Pentecostal churches, and 10+ years in Vineyard Christian Fellowships. All of them had a mix of religion, and Spirit. I witnessed far more of the supernatural in Brazil, than in USA.
Americans don't have nearly as many needs, and therefore; they can often fix whatever is wrong on their own, without ever giving God a thought. Healthcare, bankruptcy, unemployment insurance, welfare, soup kitchens all insulate folks from a need for a supernatural God.
I don't worry about who is right, or who wins the debate. Debating God is basically pointless. If God heals your loved one, or provides some pressing need, that is much more convincing than some debate. Guys like the Bible Answer Man and John McCarthy bore me to tears with their debate and theory about God. I read the Bible, and if God does that very thing I read about before my very eyes - well, then I think I am right.
The bottom line for me is this, if God said it in the Bible, then it is possible that I can experience it. The rest - which I'll get to - like were Adam and Eve real folks, was Noah a real guy, did Jonah really go in the belly of whale, and what is Heaven like? Are things that I can't prove, and honestly, I don't care too. I can tell you what I have seen, and you can check it out for yourself. I have 30+ years of experience in seeing God heal, prophecies come to pass, people radically delivered from addictions, as well as other miracles and supernatural events. I don't need anyone else's scholarship, faith, denominational doctrines or belief. I just as convinced of God's power, as I am of the fact that their is a car in my driveway.
I know there are lots of folks that claim to rightly divide the word, and in their own minds, they do. As we've discussed previously, if there is no fruit, I don't believe it. If it sounds plausible, I check it out against what I already know to be true. And unlike a lot of others, I admit the things I am unsure of. That doesn't make God wrong, or the Bible in conflict. It simply means that I don't know yet, and God hasn't reveled it to me yet. For instance, I am still waiting to see some raised from the dead after 3 days.
Here are a few blogs about how I know God.
- The Man From Argentina
- The Red Mazda
- Personal Healing
- Full Tank
- The Bald Man
- The Black BMW
The above stories are compelling because I was there, not because some body told me what, or how to believe.
Joyce Lighari said...
How important are rituals? Or are they important at all? If so, what is the one that you can't live without. Do you believe when we die we immediately go to heaven or do we wait for the resurrection? If we wait, where do we wait?
Good question Joyce. Rituals are good if they point us to God. It is the same with symbols. Otherwise they can stick us right in the middle of dead religion, where we won't see God. Certainly communion is a mandate - "do this in remembrance of me." All the other sacraments, water baptism, reconciliation (confession), confirmation (laying on of hands to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit), marriage, holy orders (ordination) and the anointing of the sick are all in the Bible. It seems that more often that we do them, the less meaningful they can become unless we truly connect with God - that's always exciting.
I am New Testament guy, and I think the word, fellowship, communion and prayer (Acts 2:42) are the essential personal rituals.
I believe that we go straight up. If we had to wait, that would present a theological problem. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." I know there are other verses that talk about sleep - but Jesus is easier to understand than Paul.
Are you a pre tribulationist ( Jesus comes at the beginning of tribulation and takes up His church) or Post tribulationist ( Jesus comes at the end of the tribulations and then takes up his church)?
I believe in a post tribulation resurrection. (You can Google a million pages on the Bible verses) Certainly there are good theological arguments for both - well, and even a mid-tribulation resurrection. I believe that the Body of Christ (church) will suffer like the body of Christ. It will be tortured and persecuted worse than the 1st century church. There will be be millions of church buildings destroyed, and hundreds of thousands slaughtered for their faith. Of course others see us getting out of here a la Left Behind, but I don't see it happening like that. I think real Christians will be very popular in the tribulation in preaching the final years of Gospel to a very lost and evil world.
Tony C said...
Why is vanilla ice cream white when vanilla beans are actually dark brown?
Because ice cream is 99% cream, which is white. Vanilla beans and extract are very dark, but not dark enough to turn the cream dark.
Did Lazarus get a refund on his burial expenses?
I'll ask him when I get to heaven, but I don't think they paid for those services, they were traditionally done by the family. I can send Candice a handbook when the time comes. ;o)
Do Asian people get English words tattooed on their bodies? Yes, see this link.
The reason we have interstates in Hawaii is quite simple...that's a way for the federal gov't to spend more money for 'defense' purposes which is the original reason for the interstate system. Grrrrrrr!
A freeway system linking cites throughout the United States - that is states with an "s."
What is your vision for the perfect church?
I happen to think that the 5-fold church model (Ephesian 4:11) is the most biblical, along with a spirit led meeting format outlined in 1 Corinthians 14.
Here is my take on the Ascension Gifts.
Rick Yushenko said...
I trust that you believe in Biblical infallibility, that the Bible is true for matters of the spirit.
What are your thoughts on Biblical inerrancy, that all details of the Bible are completely true, and that contradictions do not exist?
I believe that the Bible is the true and inspired word of God. I don't think there are any mistakes in it. I do think there are some difficult passages which are hard to understand. I do not think any one person knows every thing there is to know about the word of God, nor do I believe God wants that to be so. The reason is that we are a body made of many parts. These parts are meant to function together. That said, I know there are difficulties when we try to understand the Bible on a completely intellectual level. It contains parables, allegory, poetry, historical passages, symbolism and the trouble comes when intellectuals interpret passages using the proper literary type.
For example, folks get all widgy about creation. The Bible simply says that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days. Now, some folks think that humankind as we know it in the Bible is about 6,000 years old. Of course scientists say that the earth is a bajillion years old or whatever. The Bible does not need to be accurate in this detail - it is a not a science book. However; that does not make the Bible untrue, or in conflict. If we read Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
The real question is how long was the earth formless? A day, a week, a million years? The Bible does not say.Amazingly, this is the kind of stuff people who could care less about God debate every day.
There are other theological questions. When does one receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit for example? Some believe that it is at the moment of regeneration (faith in salvation by Jesus Christ) and others believe that it happens by the laying on of hands.
I will say this without reservation. It is impossible to understand the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit. I am concentrating on the parts of the Bible that are true for me.- loving my neighbor, helping the poor, bearing one another's burdens etc. I pray for others when the opportunity presents itself. And from time-to-time I see positive results.
Are there parts of the Bible I do not understand? Yes. Am I worried about it? No! Perceived contradictions are not contradictions. For instance, the Gospels are not a completely homogeneous work. Each one is written from a different perspective; for a different audience. Because one does not give the same eye-witness account doesn't mean that eye witness wasn't there. Look at all the work that has gone into investigating the JFK assassination. There are still conspiracy theories even after they have confirmed that the trajectory of the bullet is consistent with a shot fired from the Book Depository. It is the same thing with the Bible.
Of all the historical accounts, I find the book of Acts fascinating. I have experienced many similar acts of God.
I don't worry about whether Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, a whale or a non-species fish - I believe that it happened.
Eagle Girl asked...
How often do you speak in tongues?
prayer language" and those meant to be interpreted in a church gathering. I don't knew that the content or quality is actually different - just the purpose.
Interesting questions about tongues, Carol. First, I make a distinction between those used as a "personal
How often? Pretty much every day for some reason or another. Usually while I am driving/praying, but also when I am worshipping to music, spending a quiet moment, or looking for words that I don't have when I am praying with a friend over the phone. I have often prayed through an entire church service (when I am not Facebooking on my Blackberry)
Do you understand any of the words you speak in tongues?
Nope, not yet. What I do know is that my spirit is edified, and it is the power behind the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If you want to increase the anointing, this is the key. Folks who desire the spiritual gifts, will have a harder time if they don't add this fuel to that which God has gifted them to do.
Have you ever translated [interpreted] anyone else speaking in tongues?
Yes. One time I was watching a web-cast from Friends of the Bridegroom with Mick Bickle with a friend of mine. He started to worship in tongues and it was if I heard it in English. He was giving glory to God, giving praise and thanking Jesus for various things. It was a shock to both of us - but that was exaclty what was on his heart as we were listening to this wonderful testimony on the web.
Has anyone translated [interpreted] your speaking in tongues?
No, I am very quiet and pretty much don't use them on public settings - maybe in a small prayer group. The church needs some help in this area. Tongues have been abused in many setting. But when the real thing happens, it is captivating.
David I will always remember when you came to Cincinnati to visit an old friend of yours along with other believers and we all had such a great time in the Spirit.
Thanks, Carol. Yes, that was a fun time and God really did a lot those few days back in Cinci. it is those types of meetings that confirm to me that God love us, and is at work in our lives.
And there you have it - David's answers to your questions.
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