a plastic faith

Doubt can be a good thing. Some are taught never to question God or their faith. That is silly. Even Billy Graham had doubts. Doubt can strengthen and secure your faith. They can also drive you away if you are unprepared. Stats say that 50% of Christian teens will abandon their faith by the end of college. Jesus was more comfortable with doubt than most Christians are.

You can take some major blows your can take for your faith. Like a boxing match we can take intellectual upper cut, this is when you are sitting in science class at school and your view of creation is challenged, or in philosophy faith is reasoned as irrational, or spirituality is stated as not for the smart. Then there are psychological gut checks, which can happen when you experience a flawed view of fatherhood, have a bad church situation, or observe hypocritical Christians. The most common is the sinful right and left hook. By its very nature sin separates us from God. Sin fuels pride, arrogance, or invincibility from God.

When we receive these blows it can leave our faith damaged, bruised, and scarred. When I was in high school I took a baseball to the face. My nose was even more crooked and broken than it was today. I visited my doctor Rocky, and the he said the only way to fix my face was through plastic surgery and a face-lift. When we take blows to our faith we need a faith lift. As a messenger of truth I need to help bandage and repair sagging faith and God’s Word comes into your life like a surgical knife. How do I know if I need a faith lift? Can you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions?

Are you convinced God doesn’t listen to doubters? God never says doubting is dumb. He never calls us stupid for using our brains to question or consider our faith and relationship with God. It really takes faith to enter a relationship with Him. God is more comfortable with our doubts than many Christians are. Take the example of Thomas from the Bible [John 20:24-27]. Thomas had good reason to doubt. His friend, teacher and Savior had been unrecognizably beaten to death and executed on the cross. People were saying Jesus was alive. How could he believe that after all we saw? Jesus didn’t give Thomas all the answers for how He rose from the grave, but He did give Thomas enough to believe and relieve him of doubts.

Are you searching for absolute proof? You want every questioned answered to satisfaction before you make the leap of faith. Truth is, having every questioned answered removes the need for faith. Jesus did not answer all of Thomas’ questions [John 20:28-29]. Doubt and faith go hand in hand. If you have no doubt, you have faith. If you doubt, you do not have faith. [note: Abraham had endless examples faith mixed with doubt.]

Faith is attached to trust. I have faith every day and I often take it for granted: I have faith my alarm will wake me up in the morning because the electricity works. I have faith my car will start. I trust my office chair will keep me sitting up straight. All of these have failed me from time to time, but over time they have been faithful. I do not understand electricity, mechanics or the engineering behind an office chair, but I trust they will work. I do not have to have all the proof before I trust. That is faith.

We may not have proof that Jesus rose from the grave, but we do have evidence. What is some of the proof or evidence we have that Jesus rose from the grave? Christianity has some very compelling evidence, but what it comes down to is do you have faith that it is all truth? What I have found is that sometimes people can have all the facts before them, all the proof and evidence to their questions, but they still doubt because they want to keep their lives hidden from God. They do not want to change their lives because they are too comfortable in their sin and keeping God distant.

Are you waiting for a miracle? You say, “If God would just speak to me, or write it in a book, or come down here to my level, then I would believe.” Do you really? People posed that same question in Jesus’ day. God did speak to them, He did write them a Book and He did come down to their level, and many did not believe [note: miracle of Lazarus; John 12:9-11]. A miracle does not guarantee faith, but assists it [John 20:30ff].

Are you waiting until it feels right? You might think to yourself, “It just doesn’t feel right. I will know in the moment. If Jesus is really for me then I will feel it.” As a good friend once told me, if you are looking for a warm and fuzzy feeling, wet your pants. Feelings are often a byproduct of faith, but not always. Feelings can be freaky. There are some songs and movies that really move me, but they do move me the same as my wife. The other night I was watching Rudy with Sarah, I was in tears at the end, Sarah said with a straight face, “He should have quit the team.” Does that mean I have more feelings than her? No. We are all wired differently. God is emotional and emotions are not wrong, but faith is not anchored in feelings.

Are you bargaining with God? You might think that if you have faith you will get everything and more from God. Just because you have faith doesn’t mean you will all of a sudden ace all your future exams, your family will be pieced back together, you will never again struggle with sin, and a new car will show up in the driveway with you name on it. You cannot use faith to bully God to get what you want. So what is in faith for me? Life. Eternal life. Being with God forever, and being spared from His ferocious wrath that would shun me out of His presence forever.

So tell me what I need to do to get a faith lift? Get off the couch of doubts and talk to someone who has a strong faith. Get into good books: Bible, apologetics, and more. Go to church and immerse yourself into some good teaching and relationships. Faith is a gift [Eph.2:8-9]. You do not earn it or deserve it. God gives it to you because He infinitely loves you. From God it is a gift, but for us the decision is to take it or leave it, to receive it or reject it, to give up on trying yourself, and give your life over to God in faith. Is your faith borrowed from your parents? Is your faith real? Do you see your faith lived out everyday? Do you love the world more than your faith? Will you keep your faith?

bearing the scars

I went to the doctor today. It has been over a week since I had fractured my nose. My visit with the doc lasted only 5 minutes. No, he didn’t fix much in that time. He only told me what my options were. As the doctor put it my nose has had a lot of “trama” over my life time [fracturing it now for the 5th time]. He said that I have broke it too many times just to crack it back in place. The only option I would have to fix it would be to do a complete top to bottom overhaul. In other words, plastic surgery. There is no way. I am not into this. I am sure the cost and pain would be outrageous. I suppose I will settle for the other option…to live with a crooked and bumpy nose. Not that it wasn’t crooked before!?
I remember what my nose doctor, Rocky [fitting name for a nose doc], in high school said, “Your nose makes you, you!? He is right. My already deformed nose has character… at least I need to keep telling myself that. Over the pst couple of weeks I have been working on a beard. Its my first time, and no pun intended it’s really growing on me. The beard is a good distraction from the nose.
It’s just one more thing to look forward to when I get to heaven someday. A new nose. As Jesus bears the scars of sin on His hands and feet, I bear them on my shnoze.