Faith and Doubt

Faith and Doubt

If you read the about me statement of faith, you will see that I don’t believe everything all the time (technically I think that’s impossible). However, I stand as a Christian and trust that God fills those gaps for me (partially thru the church). Here is a post about a pastor who is wrestling with belief/doubt, and faith and what atheism means. It raises good, complicated questions about how pastors and churches should be looking at faith…

 

“I was trained to believe that there was no hope outside the Cross. That people are constantly looking to fill the God-shaped hole inside of them. That we are all looking for a Savior. I am not so sure about that anymore. Sure, some people are. Others are content to live in the moment, find happiness where they are, and simply be. Wherever I come out, it will not be the reformed charismatic pastor/theologian I once was.”

Young Families in Church…continued…..

A lot of young people don’t go to church (I know your shocked, your really, really shocked).

Here is my vast knowledge about church

1. Its a good community…its a good way to have intergenerational interaction, its a good way to ask hard questions (at the good churches anyway)

2. Church Shopping is tough: churches are desperate (which isn’t that attractive) and its hard to church shop when you feel unsettled, and lets face it, with the way the economy is, most people are fairly unsettled, especially the young people. I have been at the same job for 4ish years…that is VERY unusual for a person my age. If you don’t have a steady job or don’t know if your going to have to move (again) within the same year, its hard to make time to church shop.

In theories churches should be helping with this process (how about get to know your town guides? New to the neighborhood events that aren’t creepy? My church does a playgroup that allows a little bit with this)

3. Churches need to advertise themselves as a pace of transition (ie we are a stable place to come while your transitioning)…too much to Churches self-advertise or give the impression that this is where to go when you start to sort out your beliefs or your all set on where you are in life. This is OPPOSITE of what church should be, church should be a place to be crazy, screwed up and confused, a place to support people who are figuring it out…….Maybe churches should be more like college and less like a government.

4. Young Families Basic Needs: tend to include activities at a time of day they can actually manage, Sunday School that is enjoyable, Family friendly events, Adequate Rooms for children, Babysitting for events that are not suitable for children, changing tables, cribs, and preferably a space in the Worship area for kids to worship during church (try getting that one done, its almost impossible)…want to welcome families? Go out of your way to give them a real space to be….

5. Try to focus more on the Sabbath piece of church. Every single person I know is stressed and overwhelmed, if church could be a place of sanctuary, rest and sabbath we might actually communicate our message better.

6. That whole forgiveness of debts thing: do that. We preach forgiveness of debts, practically everyone I know is WAY in debt, yet we do nothing to practice what we preach….um….yeah….

7. Engage, engage, engage, find as many opportunities as possible to serve the community, to experience the community and to get to know the community (this is that piece of advice every single leader of churches gives)

8. Do NOT talk about young people as the “future”; first off, they are already people, not just future people (get my drift?), secondly this gross genera9lizing of who the young are is not appreciated

9. Try not to be judgmental: To be human is to be judgmental, its how we separate the “us” from the “them” its a defense mechanism, its natural, and its sad….we don’t need to judge other people, that’s God’s job. Plus! loving is our goal, good news is our job, and judging people adds to their problems. I used to have someone call me up at night and tell me what I needed to worry about…guess what…that is the opposite of helping…

10. Have Faith: Preach Good News, practice joy, dwell in the spirit, worry not about today or tomorrow, consider the birds, consider the lilies of the fields, they toil not, but God takes care of them…

“If I sin, I pr…

“If I sin, I pray that my sin is to be too welcoming, and to have the door too wide open. Never do I want to stand before God and defend why I didn’t let someone into my community, family, church, faith or life because I kept the opening too narrow. I would rather explain why I let everyone in rather than defend why I kept one person out.”

-Rev. Katy Stenta

Faith

Faith is work, its communal, its varied, it contains all our varied beliefs and doubts.

Belief is us reaching towards God

Faith is God reaching towards us

In order to have faith, you must have community. Its different than asceticism or belief, it is more than the individual spirituality.

Spirituality is how we practice our beliefs.

Faith is RELATIONAL, its about our relationship with God and therefore is about our relationship with each other.

Our relationships with one another help us to understand God- hence God gives us Faith.

 

Have Faith!

Everyday Faith

Everyday Faith

“Faith, as Jesus describes it, is just doing your job, just doing your duty, not because of any sense of reward but simply because it needs doing. Faith, in other words, is doing what needs to be done right in front of you and this, Jesus says, the disciples can already do. Folks who feel daunted by discipleship need to hear that sometimes faith can be pretty ordinary. That’s what Jesus means, I think, by saying that if they had the faith even of a mustard seed, they could uproot and move a mulberry tree — that it really doesn’t take all that much faith to be, well, faithful.”

“Faith, Working Preacher, isn’t an idea, it’s a muscle. And the more we use that muscle, the stronger it gets.”

This sounds just like “Bible Study”…what’s different about all of this?

My Presbytery is trying to explore the whole 1,001 worshipping communities/church planting. 

As we did we talked over exciting interest for starting a house church in the college area…

 

and we were discussing how to go about, different ideas and resources (i.e. Messy Church etc.)

and someone asked “Can someone tell me, how this is different from a Bible Study? I mean we do this, we get to better in different houses and worship and get together what is different about this?”

Well……I might have said a few things in response 🙂

1. Its not that different but we are reformed and always reforming because we need to find new ways to tell the gospel message. Clothing Exchanges are not that different from Rummage Sales (as one of my congregants pointed out). But they ARE different because they speak to a different generation in a different way!

2. We need to meet people where they are in a tree, by a well, even on the cross. If that is what Jesus is doing then that’s what we should do too. 

3. Because we need to show our willingness to see, know, people in places that AREN’T the church. When people say they are Spiritual-but-not-religious they mean they want to reach God, but they don’t want to reach God in the same way we do, so we need to find ways that work for people. Ways in which they are comfortable. Thank God, the message is the same as what it was  over 2000 years ago, even though the method changes

4. Aren’t we reformed and always reforming so we can grow and be nurtured closer to Christ? Don’t we hope that we keep looking at ways to become more able to see God?

5. Because its not exactly the same, it seems the same, but its really not. Because we are saying, come to our Game, Come to our Home Field, Come to our Turf and we’ll tell you about how we do the God thing. Its not simply sitting inside the church and throwing open the doors and wondering why no one is coming in…its going out to meeting them on their turf…its street ministry at its finest.Its changes to a “you might not experience God the same way we do, so we’ll come to you and let you tell us what you want to try” thing…that’s what Spiritual-but-not-religious is, experiencing God in a new way!

 

Your right, its exactly like Bible Study…..Only Different!

 

 

Moses: Experiencing God (part II)

Part !

Ultimately God is relational, and our experience of God is relational….that’s why we need to know

However, what is hard is some people haven’t ever had that burning bush experience…I haven’t been in that place before, but I know that some people haven’t experienced God.

What I do know is that when I talk to people about experiencing/knowing God that when they try to UNDERSTAND who God is, that is the wrong way to go about things.

I don’t know about you but I personally live with four other beings, none of whom I will fully understand (and its more than the fact that I’m a female living with four males), having a relationship with someone doesn’t mean that you fully understand them. Also, I know that relationships are different with different people….

Every time a read a parenting blog or article about the “right way” to raise every child I think how can this be? Different children raised by the same parents turn out differently, even I know I parent my three child in different ways. I relate to each of them differently. God similarly relates to each of us in a different way.

That is why we need a faith community, because none of us can have a full experience of God…well…if your like me, then not more than for an nanosecond. I love those moments of experiencing God. Madeline L’engle describes some of those moments as when you are looking at the stars (her parents used to wake her up to stargaze and its a big part of her writing).

You can envision Abraham having that moment….looking at the stars with God, filling the fullness of God’s will and purpose. Having it for a moment, and then continuing (since we can’t hold the fulness of God all the time)  through a relationship.

What I do know, is that experiencing God is relational, not rational, that we cannot fully know God by ourselves, and that this is why we are relational with both God and each other. Thus we better know God through all of our relationships–with God and each other.

That is why we are in community, because we don’t all have the same experience of God. We are together, not to tell each other that the only way to experience and know God is the way that works for us! (Did you know that you shouldn’t like ALL of worship, ideally different people like different parts, because its not all for one person, its for a diverse group of people so different people can experience worship during different parts of the service)

The point of the variety is so that we can share, experience and relate to God differently and (in the best of times) simultaneously. I don’t know what to do if you haven’t experienced God, but I do know, that your best bet is a faith community…Because we can’t experience God alone, we can only believe in God…alone…..

 

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivitesand Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[b] will worship God on this mountain.”

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.

16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’ –Exodus 3:7-17

 

Philosophy, Science and Religion

Philosophy, Science and Religion

Some of this article was hard for me to follow….but….

this part about faith reminded me of some faith and belief musings I’ve been praying about

“faith is a special gift from God, not part of our ordinary epistemic equipment. Faith is a source of belief, a source that goes beyond the faculties included in reason.”

Namely that Faith is a gift of God experience by a group of people, who hold diverse and intricate levels and kinds of beliefs…

although I don’t know if faith/doubt and belief are as black and white as this article portrays (but hey that’s philosophy)

I also appreciated:

“Christians, says Plantinga, can “take modern science to be a magnificent display of the image of God in us human beings.” Can naturalists say anything to match this, or must they regard it as an unexplained mystery?”

Its hard for me to believe we are “accidentally” alive!

“I don’t believe it, but I’m sticking to it. That’s my definition of faith.”

“I don’t believe it, but I’m sticking to it. That’s my definition of faith.”

My Brief Theology of Belief vs. Faith

Belief is individual

Faith is communal

 

Belief is confessional

Faith is God given

 

Belief is about structuring the world

Faith is letting go to God’s plans

 

Beliefs are what we hang onto 

Faith is what hangs onto us

 

Belief is what we are working on

Faith is what the church works on