This was originally published August 16, 2013 on Facebook as a Note. But I publish it here, to help tell about my faith journey.
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three years ago yesterday (august 15, 2010, a wednesday) an event happened that changed how the last three years unfolded. the catalyst for that august 15 began back in 2001 or 2002 in my home in schertz, tx when i renewed my commitment to serve god and know his scriptures.
learning to understand his scriptures was my desire, but some of the events along the way were not desired. yet, along the way i grew to expect certain things when i openly questioned my theological training. in essence, i put my teachers’ studies up against my own studies and found my teachers’ studies not always harmonious with scriptural and theological contexts.
i wish i had the maturity in 2010 that god has built in me today, but i didn’t. yet i know god uses difficulties and trials to bring maturation. if i could back up and be different i would, but i can’t; so i press on toward the goal of the high calling. i still believe in the one living god, and i believe in the one anointed as discussed in the apostolic writings.
now, today, three years later, i am far more accepting of everyone in the world, far less judgmental about believers in jesus, and far more at peace with myself than i have ever been. god leads, and leads actively; he is an activist god, he is active everyday, everywhere for his glory. i now believe far more in is guidance and the work of the holy spirit than ever. my walk has matured. my faith has grown. my life is different.
if I had to do it all over again, i would still walk away from the pulpit and the associated duties,difficulties and all. the tension was too high and the directions were too different. but i learned that we as christians spend far too much time trying to be perfect than trying to be loving. i am ready to love,to be loved, to feel god’s unending blissful love.
i still walk by the instructions of the scriptures, but god helped me learn that what i know about him does not even fill a thimble. as such, i am far less exacting to myself and about others, and can demand only a fraction of that which i was taught to demand of others. grace found me, yes; but more, love found me. not just a love for truth, but a love about and for myself, properly seen through the eyes of god. love changed me, and i don’t want to go back to feeling less love.
i am uncertain if i will ever step foot into another house of worship from my religious heritage, but i know that god is leading. i looked to learn his scriptures, in that journey he found me, loved me and set me free, for that i am eternally grateful. i still continue looking to learn his scriptures.
one of the hardest things i have ever done was to comfort those hurting, when i myself inside was falling apart, doing my best to provide guidance and advice for those about to receive difficult and unexpected news. those who have experienced that can probably identify. the experience must be akin to medical doctors having to speak to patients about life and death when the doctors themselves are experiencing life’s turmoil.
in leaving the pulpit and in leaving certain types of religious fellowship, i found freedom. freedom unheard of and incapable of having in the pulpit. freedom to read god’s word and not be afraid of what i find or of speaking about it because someone believes opposite and wants to defend.
in the scheme of redemption, yes, god sets humanity free from sin. but more properly, in the scheme of redemption, god sets humanity free to read and study god’s revelation and decide for themselves the intended meaning and then permits them to live that life guided by that meaning. such is not taught by nor encouraged by many. if god had wanted one monolithic religion he would have established such in the garden, or post flood, but he did not. god gives freedom, to compel anyone to less freedom is to do something that god himself will not do. the choice is yours. the choice is mine. we are free to choose.
i chose to learn more about the scriptures. i chose to have my own studies of the scriptures. i chose to disagree with those who instructed me. i chose to leave a certain type of religious thinking. i choose to follow yhvh, the god of abraham, isaac, jacob, david, and jesus. i choose to study the scriptures. i choose to live faithfully. i choose to be one with god. throughout the trials and tribulations, he and messiah are the only ones to not have failed me, they have yet to turn their backs on me. i choose to behave the same for them.
so as i recognize this important day, i send greetings to those in my past. i hold no grudges, no animosity, i ask you to overlook my faults. may love for god and love for others abound.
blessings and shalom
a postscript for my ministerial brethren and other various church leaders.
where is your faith? in other humans? your family? your wife? your children? yourself? your ability to study? your ability to reason? your ability to pray? your biblical knowledge and understanding? your church tradition? your ability to preach? your prestige within your religious community? your income? your retirement? your ability to defend yourself? your insurance plan? in something unnamed? or in god?
seeking the fullness of god cannot be done when we are more concerned about food on our table, or more concerned about how the church will respond to our teaching, or when we are more concerned about our reputation. having any concern greater than seeking god is idolatry, god has never favored idolatry.
trusting god will take you to the depths of despair, to depths of emotional anguish, to the edge of financial oblivion, across the vanity of over-prided ego. but trusting god will deliver you into the heights of joy unknown, the heights of emotional fulfillment never experienced, financial stability, delivering you a balanced ego.
fearing god is both to teach and to live his word, not one without the other. both must be done irrespective of the reaction, response, or retort of other believers. god provides bountiful blessings to those who will not compromise their faith, their pursuit of god.
be afraid of falling into the hands of the living god and you will find true life, true fulfillment, no longer wearied, no longer sleepless, no longer feeling inadequate. you cannot lead, if you will not be lead. seek god with all your heart and god will be found.