Posts tagged ‘Doubt’

July 27, 2012

So Long My Friend

by pastortimfowler

I asked you guys to pray for my friends the other day and I am grateful to all who did. I have to give you an update, and at first it seems sad. James died of complications of his illness last night. Because of this, I ask you to continue to praying for his wife and kids. As much as this sucks for them right now, I know that time and God’s grace will allow for things to get better.

James was a Christian. That means now he is better. No more sickness or pain, for him. That sounds great and is true according to what the Bible teaches and in that case I am jealous. But on the other hand, family and friends are left to deal with the sorrow and heart-break of his death. Nothing but time will help that and it is easy to begin to doubt God. That is okay though; God can handle that. He knows what it is like to have someone close die.

God knows that death is an enemy and we are told that the last enemy to be defeated is death. It is a momentary hiccup in the fabric of time that separates what we know and what God knows. Eternity is that close, and wow, in times like this, it is closer than I ever thought. But we are not left to guess what happens after someone dies. For those who believe in this stuff, God says if you have asked Jesus to take your sin penalty for you, you go to heaven. James made that decision several years ago and handed death over to God and accepted the gift of life.

James and I were really getting to know each other in the last year. I thought I knew him, but didn’t. He was really an intense guy who had a wacky past like me. He was funny, while at the same time kept it real. I found out that his faith was stronger than I thought and that was so refreshing.

While we didn’t have enough time with James for my satisfaction, God has promised us an eternity when this life is over. Now, his faith is no longer about what he believes. He has seen it for himself that God is real. He understands what we don’t; the answer to the question, why? He is laughing at our doubts and if I know James, laughing at me and some of the ways I struggled giving answers to things in the Bible that make no sense to us, but now make perfect sense to him. He has seen the beginning of life and knows that there is now no end. He is probably not worried about whether the chairs in the worship center are lined up straight or not. He knows the words to songs that Wanda tries to get us to sing louder and knows the words to songs that only those in heaven can sing. He even knows why that stupid video system doesn’t always work that drives me and Sheila crazy. Somehow I don’t think we will let it bother us as much anymore. (Hey James. Could you at least ask God to let it all work together just once for us?)

There is still a need for prayer. There is still a need for time and for sure, a need for God’s grace. I thank you all for your part. I thank God for the grace and for the time we had with James. I will straighten the chairs this week James, I am sure you have more important things to do.
So long my friend.

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February 27, 2012

I Think I Believe

by pastortimfowler

You see the weirdest stuff on Facebook. People who air their dirty laundry, complain about people they never met, and are experts on everything. One of my least favorite things to see on Facebook is conversations about Christianity. It is amazing that the experts on Christianity are usually the ones who don’t believe in God. Those who do believe are so weak in their knowledge of the Bible that they sound quite foolish at times and even go as far as admitting that they don’t really believe what they are hoping to be their eternal destiny. I do consider myself an expert on the Bible and believe that it teaches assurance and simplicity for salvation that we can be absolutely sure of.
I know that last statement will get some feathers ruffled, but I do consider myself an expert on the Bible. I have my Masters in theology and am half way to my Doctorate. I have read the Bible completely more times than I can count and make a living teaching what it says. I take this very seriously, because I believe that there is a God just as much as I believe that 1+1=2. No, I can’t prove that God exists, but no one can prove that He doesn’t. I have the ability to understand that order never comes from chaos and that where there is a creation of any type there must be a creator. I know personally that God changed my life and that the Bible has been true every time that I have tested it. Yes there are things that I can’t explain and don’t fully understand, but that is true with about anything in life.
The question was asked of me about how someone who professes to be a Christian can say that they believe the Bible enough for salvation but at the same time believe that God has made other ways that are not in the Bible to receive this salvation. That is a tough one. I personally believe that many people are not truly trusting God for the understanding of salvation but trusting in human understanding. Proverbs 3:5 Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Humans do not want to believe that they are not the smartest creature in the universe. As a Christian, the thing that we often miss is that God wants us to begin to trust Him and His word and change are hearts and mind. Romans 12:2 Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect. This is hard when we are challenged by those who don’t believe and make it their point to argue what they believe of a non existing God. (I think it is sad to be threatened so much by something that you don’t even believe in.) But for those who say they believe they are Christians, God is the ultimate expert in who He is and what He wants you to know and believe. If He is who He says He is, and you believe that, then we should always try to seek the Godly way in our beliefs.
From the beginning, as the Bible states it, man has doubted God and wanted what we want. It has always led to failure. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death. Religious people have tried to turn what God wants into their gain, whether it was the Pharisees of Jesus’ day or corrupt preachers of today. Those will answer to God for their false teachings. But why do professing believes get thrown off by people who profess not to believe? It is one thing to say, I believe this way but respect your opinion, but never is it okay to go against what God clearly teaches. For instance, Jesus is the only way of salvation. The Bible is very clear about that. Why would a Christian argue against that? It borders on heresy and at best ignorance.
Your eternal life is a dangerous thing to play a game of people pleasing with. If you believe in the God of the Bible, don’t doubt what the Bible says. Faith is believing, not wishful thinking. It is by grace through faith that we are saved. God condemns those who don’t believe. But he made what He wants you to believe simple and direct and easy to obtain.
Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts his own heart is a fool. Whoever walks in wisdom will survive. Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
I think I believe is a people pleaser’s way of saying I don’t know. Salvation is to know.

November 8, 2011

Faith and Doubt

by pastortimfowler

If only it were easy to have great faith and never doubt. I was asked to blog about these so let’s see how it goes. First let me give a non-biblical definition of the two words. from our old friend, Webster’s.
Faith- a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
Doubt- a : to lack confidence in : distrust <find myself doubting him even when I know that he is honest — H. L. Mencken> b : to consider unlikely <I doubt if I can go>
Humans are sinful creatures by nature and sin causes a separation from God. That in turn causes a trust issue, or our faith is challenged and doubt kicks in. When humans look at something or someone, it is very easy for us to pick out their faults. If you put a small dot in the middle of a sheet of white paper and ask people what they see, they will automatically be focus on the small dot and not pay any attention to the large amount of unblemished paper. We look at our kids report cards and see a “C” when the rest of the grades are “A’s” and “B’s”. We look at our spouse not putting the lid on the toothpaste but overlook the years of providing for the family. So keeping in stride with that, we want to look at God and see flaws because things aren’t going our way, and we forget that there are no flaws in God. We are flawed, due to sin.
It is hard to trust someone who thinks that they are better than you. We want to “show them”. But God does not think that He is better than us, He is better than us. He made us and knows us and most importantly, He loves us. There is nothing that He asks us to do that will not be the best for us, even if we don’t understand it. That is where faith and doubt collide.
Doubt is that lack of confidence in God. The “I don’t understand” factor. Doubt says “me” when faith says “God”. We often doubt things that we are new at or are learning about. A child doubts that he can read a book, but loving parents encourage and help the child to overcome doubt with confidence. A teen doubts that they will pass the driver’s license test, but loving parents encourage and teach. Soon we are reading without thinking about it and driving while texting. We now have turned our doubts into faith.
Faith is not some mystical characteristic that only Moses and Jesus had. Faith is trust. The more you do what God says and see that the outcome is what He promised, the more our faith is built. I learned to ride a bike when I was 4 years old. For a while, I doubted my ability to not crash. As years went by and crashes did happen, I had more and more faith in my ability to avoid the crashes. Last year I got a bike and decided to ride it. I had not been on a bike for years, but my faith in my ability to ride was there because I had ridden a bike so many times before.
Like everything else that we do in life, our Christian faith must be something that grows with experience. We must start out with the basics and we must learn to trust God and resist allowing our doubts to scare us away from ever trusting Him. I could have easily never ridden a bike again after my first crash. Doubt could have said that I would never ride without getting hurt. But encouragement from those who had ridden kept me moving towards my faith in the bike. That is the important thing about church and being around other believers who are more mature and will encourage us when we have those moments of doubt. Having someone there to point us back to the fact that God loves us and has our best interest at heart is a major factor in building our faith. Faith never starts out strong in anything that we do. For some reason we freak out when our Christian faith waivers. But we shouldn’t.
God loves us unconditionally. He is our Father in Heaven and is very patient with our doubts and fears. He has given us His word that He will never leave us and never disown us. Having faith in that is a great place to gain confidence. God knows that we are sinful. He allowed Jesus to take our penalty for us so that we could have His forgiveness and unfailing love.
Our first battle with faith and doubt is all about salvation. When you are confident in your salvation, you can begin to be confident in other things of God. That is why God made salvation simple and totally of His doing, not our own. That way our doubts don’t screw it up. Never forget this verse when it comes to faith:

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.
Be patient as your faith grows and before you know it, you will be doing whatever God asks, no doubt. I am not sure if this will make as much sense to you as it did to me, but my old pastor told me this: Doubt your doubts, not your beliefs.