Honestly thinking (& rethinking) about God, the universe, and everything in between

Tag: Bible

The Pursuit of Trump: How Your Choice Could be a Faithless Act

Our “hero” surveyed the landscape.

The enemy had the upper hand. His own troops quaked with fear. Many had deserted their posts.

The consequences were dire. Our hero’s once great nation was at war, and they were losing ground. The people’s future depended on the very choices he alone made today. 

Should they lose this battle, his nation faced extinction by a Pagan enemy whose culture was bent on destroying his people’s very identity as a chosen nation of the one true God.

The time for waiting patiently had passed. Something needed to be done NOW!

What appeared on the outside to be a faithful act turned out ultimately to be…faithless.

Thus, with no other choice, Saul did the one thing he could do offer burnt offerings to God.

But what was meant as an attempt to gain God’s favor in the midst of desperation was soon met with the greatest of rebukes by Saul’s spiritual advisor.

“What have you done?!” exclaimed the prophet Samual. “You have done a foolish thing. You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you!”

The consequences of King Saul’s one single choice on that one single day were quite severe his kingdom would not endure (1 Sam 13).

What appeared on the outside to be a faithful act of Saul turned out ultimately to be…faithless.

Before continuing, let me be upfront by saying I am no less guilty of committing faithless acts. Scientists estimate that the average human makes about 35,000 choices per day, and I am quite certain that a large percentage of my 35,000 choices are committed out of faithlessness rather than faithfulness.

I am also quite certain I have been faithless at times when entering the voting booth or throwing my weight behind a political opinion. What I may have thought in the past were acts of faith, upon further reflection, turned out actually to be faithless.

But how does one determine what is “faithful” and what is “faithless?”

The Bible is full of stories of humankind committing both faithful and faithless acts, along with the consequences that follow. An examination of all of these stories reveals the following themes that are repeated throughout: Continue reading

Our Rainbow-Colored Christmas Tree

The following was originally written one year ago today. Thus, for those more familiar with my family, some timeline details may feel out of place. But for various reasons and after much prayer, I felt it needed to wait until now. Other than some updated stats, I left the writings primarily intact in order to reveal my honest thoughts at the time. They still reflect my views today.

As I write this I stare across the room at our rainbow-colored Christmas tree, still adorning our home until the beginning of the new year.

It is actually somewhat subtle with the lights on, but if you look closely, there amidst the branches are seven different colors of ornaments displayed in order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), mirroring the beauty of that natural wonder we see in the sky when sunlight reflects through droplets of rain.

As millions of families across the world recently filled their living rooms with their own artistic masterpieces of evergreens covered in ornaments, lights and tinsel, I cannot claim credit for this particular rendition. The artists in this case are two of my four children (who have actually now grown to be young adults).

As the rainbow in the past several years has come to symbolize certain things, it’s possible that some may find its juxtaposition against a symbol for a Christian celebration to be quite offensive (especially those in the conservative Evangelical tradition of which I am a part). 

I find it quite beautiful.

Before I explain my kids’ aesthetic choice or my reception, I want to share with you two true stories – both seemingly unrelated to the topic at hand but important to the discussion. Continue reading

The Day I Became an Atheist and Believed in God

This is Part 3 in the series titled “Split-Brain and the REAL Reason People are Leaving the Church”

I remember the morning quite vividly – though I’ve never really relayed it so as not to frighten the wife and kids…nor my extended family, my church, or the ministry where I work.

There I lay in bed alone, Bible yet unopened across my lap, as I attempted to do my morning “Quiet Time” ritual of conversing with God and learning from his “Word.”

Full of doubts and questions and unable to hear much in return, I remember the thought flashing across my mind: “Oh crap, what if none of this is REAL?”

And in that moment, I allowed myself to believe it.

And it was good.

Now let me back up a bit to before that “fateful” day. Continue reading

Split-Brain and the REAL Reason People are Leaving the Church, Part 2

In July of 2019, Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and the person largely credited with advancing the “purity culture” movement, shocked the evangelical Christian world when he announced on Instagram, “I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

Just a few weeks later, Marty Sampson, worship leader and songwriter for Hillsong, sent a second shockwave as he likewise proclaimed, “Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith… and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world… it’s crazy.”

Then in May of 2020, Jon Steingard, lead singer of the popular Christian band Hawk Nelson, posted “After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life – I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.”

Hidden behind this wave of well-known individuals is a growing number of men and women who have quietly slipped away from the church, many simply finding new ways to practice their faith and others leaving behind faith entirely. A significant number of them had spent most of their lives in the church, some of them serving as leaders and pastors, before realizing that they could no longer reconcile their actions with what they truly believed.

In revealing words, Marty Sampson went on to say, “I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real.”

Real. A word often cited by those struggling with faith.

In Part 1 of this series I noted what I consider to be the underlying thread behind people leaving their faith communities: people have a need to believe in something that is real and they’re simply not finding it in the church.

Also in Part 1, I explained some of the neuroscience, combined with harmful theology, that I believe has contributed to this, particularly in Western society. I highly encourage you to read it before proceeding, as it will make a lot more sense of what I have to say in the upcoming sections. For those who have already read it, here is a shortened summary: Continue reading

I’m a Christian and I Don’t Believe Something is True Because the Bible Says

bible-in-sky-flare

Before discussing the main point of this article, let me be clear up front:

There are no other writings that have had greater impact on my life than the collection of writings we commonly refer to as “the Bible.” *

Though I’m as human as everyone else and often get too busy, too tired, etc. I try to make it a discipline to read portions of the Bible – whether it be a chapter, a paragraph, or sometimes even a single word or sentence if I get hung up on it – every single day.  No other work have I read as many multiple times.

Single readings have literally altered my life.  A single verse forever changed my career direction, certain verses have gotten me through some of the most desperate, hopeless-seeming situations, and a single sentence once literally caused me to quit my job, uproot my family (back when we had two small children) and move to another state without a new job or specific place to live.

I do not regret any of those decisions or moments because to this day I have no doubt that God was behind them and specifically led me to those verses.

And though I think there is much carelessness and confusion when we use words such as “inerrant,” “infallible” and “authoritative” in relation to the Bible, and though frequently passages have been interpreted outside of culture, context, and literary form – often abusively – I do believe there is something miraculous about how the writings have been preserved for us through all these years to be able to read today.

I do believe there is power behind the words.

And I do not take lightly the fact that there are people out there in parts of the world who would give anything just to have a copy and that many have died just for possessing it or for trying to get copies to people who don’t.

With that made clear up front then let me say it…

I do not believe that something is true because the Bible says. Continue reading

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