Thursday, October 27, 2005

What Builds Your Faith?

I've been thinking alot lately about faith. How is it that we can believe so wholeheartedly in something that we can't see, touch, or smell? We certainly can feel Him: we can experience Him in awesome ways. We bear witness to His miracle working power, and we can feel Him in our hearts. But did you ever notice that those feelings can sometimes fade; that just like anything, we tend to forget just how awesome God is, because even after one of those breathtaking encounters with Him, the memory fades, and we begin to lose sight of His magnificence? Some would call those times valleys; but I often times wonder if it's simply a lack of faith. In John chapter 4, a royal official of Galilee was imploring Jesus to heal his son. Jesus said to him: "...Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe". (4:48) Doesn't that still hold true today? Isn't it so much easier to believe when we're seeing wondrous miracles happen before our very eyes? So what exactly is it that keeps us going when all we have is faith and faith alone?

Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 17:20: "...For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." What does that say about my faith? My cousin and I got into a pretty heated debate the other day about this very issue. She's Wiccan; so she basically believes that God is in everything: the trees, the rocks, the car radio. The other day when I was at her house, she was "cleansing" people by waving insense all around thier bodies. Hmmm. So anyway, she posed this question to me: "Stephanie, you are SO stuck on this religion of yours. You believe almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that YOUR God, YOUR Jesus is the only way. Well I have news for you: The guys who flew the jet-liners into the trade towers? They believe without a shadow of a doubt that Thier god is the only way. How do you justify that? How do you know so confidently that your way is the right way?" Ummm... good question. Really though: How do you answer a question like that, as a good, knowledgable, God-fearing Christian? I really didn't have a good answer for her at the time. All I could say was, "I just know." But isn't that what faith all boils down to? You just know in your heart of hearts that.. you know!

Jesus said in Matthew 21:22, "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith". Jesus calls us to have faith and never doubt. As humans, our sin nature inevitably gets in the way of that, don't you think? It's natural to doubt. Unfortunately that doubt gets in between us and God. How am I supposed to truly recieve the abundant gifts and blessings that God wants to give me if my faith is significantly smaller than that of a mustard seed? How am I supposed to live a victorious life in Jesus if I doubt Him?

I know that I'm not closing this post with my usual happy, inspirational ending, however, if things like this go on in my head, I know that some of you out there struggle with the same questions. More than that though, I'm hoping that some of you might step up to the plate with testimonies of what builds/increases your faith. What scriptures stick out in your mind that has helped to solidify your faith? Have you ever at any point in your life felt like your faith is insufficient? If so, what (if more than scripture) has strenthened you?

15 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

Know Steph, there are seeds even smaller than mustard seed, yet they still have the same stuff that mustard seeds and coconuts have. . .everything needed to make a plant. No matter how small our faith we, it will grow to be the hugest of herbs if it is tended and cared for. How's that for a little plant analogy?

12:13 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Oh Stephanie you are speaking my heart right here. I know you know this but I'm going to say it anyway. YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS.

I think a huge part of faith is the struggle of it. You said it so perfectly, we can't see it, we can't touch it but we can feel it and we know it is real. And that knowing, that assurance that we have for no logical reason is the fruit of faith, it is the conviction the hope and comfort of knowing that no matter what this world throws at us, no matter how many logical arguements are presented, or tough questions that have no "good" answers we just know, we just do, and it is so real to us and so pure and so true that we can't imagine knowing anything else in such a way. (that might be the winner for the most random and run-on sentence ever created).

To answer your questions:
Q2.OF COURSE
Q3. Scripture is great for this but also just the movement of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I love Scripture, I love God's word, but I also LOVE that a part of Him, a person of the Triune God is present in me and when I cry out, when I doubt, when I falter and my faith seems to dwindle He roars to life within me and confirms that this faith I have is true, this hope I have is confirmed, and God's love and promises are perfect and eternal.
Q1. I'll be right back with verses.

P.S. Have I told you lately that you are so precious and such an encourgament to me. You show me so many things of God and your heart is so beautiful.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Rain: I LOVE it! I have never thought of it that way... thanks for sharing the plant analogy :)

Katie: So much to say (as always) lol. Okay, well first of all, thanks for the reminder that I'm truly not alone in this. It's a frustrating string of thought that I often find running through my mind: more frustrating knowing that it's running through the mind of a Christian. But again, not uncommon.

Point #20 (hehehe): They Holy Spirit. Are you talking about an "indwelling of", or a "baptism of"... because if it's the latter... then I'm up a creek! I'm assuming you're speaking of the indwelling, simply on account of how you were referencing to it: just wanting to be sure.

Point #47 (in response to your p.s.), you are a total sweetheart and ditto to all of the above! :)

1:27 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Stephanie - yes the indwelling of not the baptism (oh what a topic that is).

1:30 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I know: I was cringing as I wrote it, because I figured that might open up a can. I think I might post on that next though: how I would love to hear everyone's take on that!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Charlyn said...

Funny, just the other day the kids were questioning me on this. I think they get some of these questions from their peers, and don't know how to answer. Things like "how do we know our religion is right?"

I don't have a clear cut answer for them, but I agree with you and Katie. You just know. You can feel it. And the bible tells us so much. Then they ask, well how do we know the bible is right, and not the Koran, etc.

All I can say is that the bible has been around for ages, and people all over the world own one and that historically there is evidence of events and such from the bible.

Maybe someone else has a better answer? We know we're right, we have faith, but how do you portray this truth to someone who doesn't have faith, or isn't in the "light"? I know that how we live our lives can have a big impact. People will see God's love and grace in us.

I get a lot of my answers from christiananswers.net. This link tells about the bible being true:

http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t003.html

Hope I helped a little bit!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Brad Huston said...

Stephanie, you are SO stuck on this religion of yours. You believe almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that YOUR God, YOUR Jesus is the only way. Well I have news for you: The guys who flew the jet-liners into the trade towers?

Stephanie, not that it would have necessarily helped, I would have said....

I know that my God is the only way because my Jesus, my religion, is the only religion in which its own God died for its believers so that each might be enabled to live with him (I was just about to blog about this today by the way).

Second, my God encourages me to love everyone, even my enemies, which also happen to be those who flew those planes into buildings and serve a god whose character has nothing to do with the one true God I serve.

Third, my God, Jesus, was spoken of through history as being who he claimed was to be, even by his enemies (i.e. the writings of Josephus).

Fourth, how do you know you that you do not merely worship that which is the fingerprints of the God I worship? And how do you know that your god even exists since knowing your god is predicated on your own merits, strength, wisdom and knowledge? Basically, you are own god and your power is derived from a humanity that has shown nothing if it has not shown its propensity for evil and self-destruction.

Brad

6:59 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Shenna: Thanks for the links! I will definitely use them! And by the way.. I totally remember asking my parents those same questions as a kid. And we weren't even really Christians. I think it's just a very common question!

Brad: Love those answers! I'm going to have to print those out and keep them in my purse for future encounters with my little Wiccan cousin - or anyone else who challenges me!

"Fourth, how do you know you that you do not merely worship that which is the fingerprints of the God I worship?"

You know, I have a friend who is also Wiccan, and she once said to me, "Well, just because I don't quite believe in the whole Jesus concept, I do believe in the 'Christ conciousness'... that's what I base my life upon." And I simply replied, "Well, why even bother calling it that if you're not going to actually claim the Christ part?"

She didn't have much else to say.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Brad Huston said...

"Well, just because I don't quite believe in the whole Jesus concept, I do believe in the 'Christ conciousness"

Stephanie, I like your answer here and it is keeping with C.S. Lewis' who went a bit farther and said that this kind of "well Jesus was a great moral teacher" kind of answer is a farce. Lewis said, that either you believe that Jesus is the Son of God or you must believe him to be clinically insane or a liar as the devil of hell, there is no other alternative for someone who claims to forgive sins and be God himself.

Brad

11:07 PM  
Blogger tonymyles said...

C.S. Lewis also wrote that we need to look for where people are partially right in their messed up views of God and build on that (versus condeming the whole belief system).

Meanwhile, let me throw out the concept that someone with an experience is never at the mercy of someone with an argument. Even when you run out of things to say when someone hounds you with questions... you still have your relationship with Jesus.

On the flipside, they have a relationship with Jesus, too. They're just broken in it. If you can find a way to speak past the arguments and directly connect with their conscience (i.e. see "http://wayofthemaster.com/" for one approach) you will find the conversation getting right to the core.

Keep after it! And keep asking questions... the kick at the tires of how big God really is.

9:12 PM  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Steph, too many of us use religion as a crutch. We rely on religion as a substitute for faith. Your cousin the witch is a perfect example. I have known plenty of witches. So, I am saddened to see what happens to these nice folks when their beliefs leave them in the lurch. Her superstitions will prove inadequate the first time life gives her a real boot in the touche. Consider how many people abandon Christianity when life hands them a difficulty.

Faith comes by hearing the word of God. If one of us longs to be close to God, we need to spend time with him. I am sustained by prayer, study and worship. I couldn't leave any of those out.

I also know that steadfast faith is a matter of character. Be careful, if you ask God for character, he will deliver. This is seldom pleasant. I have mettle because of my difficulties. God made me battle hardy by sending me into battle. It sucked. I love Him for doing it. I couldn't handle today's struggle if I didn't fight yesterday.

There is an old book by Max Lucado called, “On the Anvil”. Go buy it. Read it. It is short yet full of good stuff.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Brad: So true. That C.S. Lewis: He's a smart fella'!

Tony: LOVE "The Way of the Master"'s approach to ministering- I just haven't quite mastered it myself yet. But that is definitely a crafty and effective approach!

BWH: Thanks for the recommendation! I will surely go and pick that one up (just another to add to the collection that I'm already reading! ;) By the way: God is ALWAYS building character within me ;)

9:51 AM  
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11:29 PM  
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9:48 PM  
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9:49 PM  

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