Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Who is your God?

"Why do you believe? What do you believe exactly? What was the moment when you "faced/met/found" your God(s)? How does it sustain you today? What does your heaven look like?"
"I'm trying to answer some rather vague and intangible questions about faith that I have had lately, questions I can't quite form yet. I find the question of faith incredibly interesting-half of me would like to get a degree in Theology to understand all this, which to me, is a slipperier slope than most other questions..."

I answered: (I revised my answer a bit in here, adding to it, not deleting anything)
I will simply answer your questions without a lot of background except to say that I was at one time agnostic. I believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, is God incarnate (he is fully God and fully man, and was God in the flesh during his 33 years here), and that His life was fulfilled through His crucifixion and death on a cross. I believe He is risen from death and the purpose of His life, death, and resurrection was to reconcile me (make right, balance, reconnect) to God through the forgiveness of my sins. That's a lot to swallow, and impossible to understand or believe, or even grasp outside of a spiritual mindset.

Why do I believe? Because it gives me hope and strength. It is not something I can rationalize because it's totally irrational. The mysteries of God can only be revealed to us by His Spirit, according to scripture. But I do know this...that since March 3, 1985, in a church service in Texas, I have been on a long spiritual journey and allowing God, through Jesus Christ and His Spirit, guide me, lead me and direct me.

Honestly, I've still done stupid things. I still make mistakes. My life is not perfect, nor will I try to convince anyone that the forgiveness and redemption I have experienced will make their life perfect in any way. If anything, my life has been challenged, sometimes to my limits of pain, but I have peace. Pure peace, and it's not anything like what I had before I met Christ.

I write a lot about my struggles in my blog. I hate the way most Christians act. Phoniness is phoniness, even when it's veiled with a spiritual tone. Sometimes I cuss. I lust after things that have no profit to me at all. I have doubts and fears. I drink beer and wine. I am completely human and have issues. Sometimes I completely sabotage myself. In spite of all that, God's love through His Son Jesus, gives me grace, forgiveness, and peace.

I can debate rationally and sanely, as I have a well-above-average intelligence. Don't argue the bible with me because I know it better than most do, but that alone doesn't make me a Christian or spiritual. I knew the bible long before I met Jesus. I'm also opinionated, and I'm willing to entertain your ideas and thoughts without being condescending or calling you names, but I won't argue with you if you're an idiot. I'll simply shut up, and let you prove it to everyone around you. The fear of hell did not bring me to God, and I won't threaten you with eternal damnation to come to Christ. You don't need fire insurance, you need a Father who loves you. I came to God because He loves me. Simple. He loves me, and He loves you too.

God's unconditional love and His gentle hand are what comfort me. That's what sustains me. I don't go to a traditional church, although I was in one for 6 years after my initial "encounter" (Christainese= "got saved"). I have been part of a home church since 1991. I have no idea what heaven looks like. The book of Revelations gives a glimpse, but frankly, the descriptions are too abstract for me, and I really don't see its relevance in my daily walk. Not that I don't care, it just doesn't motivate me to walk out my faith.

Please don't pursue a degree in Theology. It'll just screw your head up. I was in the seminary when I was in college and that's what drove me away from God for 10 years. Believing and trusting God doesn't require a degree or an education. It does, though, require a humble and open heart.


thordora said...

another question just for you Paulie dear...:P

How do you define grace? I've always defined it as how my mother faced her cancer, and had the courage to let go when there was no point. You've been thru that too-what's your perspective?

Pauly said...

My definition, as I relate it in my answer to you:
Grace = unmerited favor. It is a gift of forgiveness
God gives us even when we don't deserve it. It is
favor, compassion, and kindness. This type of grace
works on two levels. The first, for God to extend to
us forgiveness, favor and compassion no matter what.
It is that grace that leads us to the cross where
Jesus was crucified and God tells us, "You're forgiven
(healed, have favor, given mercy), the work has
already been done." That goodness of God is what draws
men and women to Him and brings repentance.
The second measure, or level of grace is that which we
are able to bestow on others because of God's
forgiveness toward us. It is what allows us to be
compassionate toward others, to show kindness and
mercy, even when it's not merited by them. It is what
allows a wife to forgive a husband for infidelity and
lets a marriage heal. It is what gives a person the
ability to have mercy toward someone that has offended
The type of grace you mentioned, what both your mother
and my father had, was the ability to suffer with
beauty, charm and loveliness. It is what allowed them
to go to church while being weakened by the chemo. I
believe that grace was God-breathed and God-given. It
was from deep within, not anything they could have
done on their own. It is what allowed them to face
death with confidence and die in peace.
That, in a nutshell, is my definition of grace. You
are seeking answers to some deep questions, and I will
pray for you that God answers your questions and you
will find Him. Hint: He'll be found by your heart, and
He'll never force Himself on you. The bible says,
"Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you
shall find; knock, and the door will be opened for

JOE B said...

I am so glad that God loves us for who we are, no matter what we have done wrong or will do wrong.
God bless, Joe

Anonymous said...

Hey friend, I find your thoughts interesting. Years ago my wife and I left the organized religious world (church) behind because the Father called us to a higher knowledge of Himself. My interests, which of course are inspired by the calling and choosing he has for me, are to understand and seek out the things that are of the eternal realm. His kingdom is where we get our life from so I want to know all about the kingdom of God and of Heaven. I feel very alone in this world as most people professing Christ are very strictly concerned about their church, agendas, religion, bible, flavor of God (Baptist, Methodist, and so on infinitum), their focus being on things in this world, than they are about knowing Him. Very few seem to be personally intimate with the Spirit and with Jesus even though they talk about such things. Do you agree or have you experienced such things?
Yuma, AZ

Pauly said...

When we first started meeting in a house, the opposition was mainly from the mainline Christian community. There are some pastors I know who quietly support what we're doing, since we haven't fallen apart after 14 years, and they see the impact our finances have on the community.
On the other hand, there are those who object because of thier traditional stand on church. (They forget that for the first 300 years, the "traditional" church met in homes, not in tax-exempt buildings.)
Either way, I see a place in the body of Christ for both ways of having church. There are just some people who won't go to a traditional church service, but who have no problem being invited to someone's home on Sunday morning. Then there are those who would rather go to a building and be a spectator for someone's ministry.
I believe if God called you out of a building and into a home, then you should be obedient and follow Him.
Our greatest growth has been since we left the traditional church services and paid ministers. We have connected with others doing the same thing, and I would encourage you to do the same. You're not alone, even though you may think so. Visit http://www.house2house.net/ and see who else might be meeting in your area. Stay connected or you face the very real possibility of isolation and even error. Email me if you like and we can talk further.

Pauly said...

Also check out http://www.hccentral.com/index.html