Sub Header

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness,

godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. ~ 1 Timothy 6:11

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why I Believe in God

I was lucky to have started with a good foundation.  I believed in God when I was little because my family believed in God.  I saw their example and followed it.  However, there a came a day as a child when I decided that, for something this important, I needed to decide for myself what was right and what was wrong, and not just blindly follow.  (Because the Catholic Church does not call us to blind faith.)

I remember it vividly, sitting there in church in the alcove of a stained glass window and really thinking about it for the first time.  Did God exist?  I wasn’t sure; I had no interaction with Him except my one-way prayers.  Was the Catholic Church right?  They said they were, but then again… they would.  Was the Bible true?  There was a lot in the Bible. 

I tried going through everything in the Bible and a theme began to emerge.  The stories in the Old Testament prophesied about Jesus.  The Gospels told the story of the life of Jesus.  The rest of the New Testament taught the teachings of Jesus.  It all came down to Jesus.  He was the crux.  If He was real, then the rest followed…and if He was fake, then it all fell apart.

How could I prove if Jesus was real?!  And then I remembered that others already had!  Historians have documented the existence of Jesus.  Even other religions, such as Islam and Judaism, acknowledge He existed.  This proved that Jesus was real.  And if Jesus was real then the Bible was true.  And if I accepted the Bible as the Word of God, then it all had to be true…there was no being “Lucky Charms Catholic”, only picking out the pieces I liked. 

I was exhilarated!  I felt accomplished!  It reignited my passion for Jesus!

Looking back, I may have made one or two leaps in logic that day, but it transformed the way I approached my faith.  I no longer ignored my doubts, rather I tackled them.  I investigated things that didn’t seem right.  You want to know what I learned?  The Catholic faith is not fragile…it is robust!  Time and again, I not only found answers.  I found answers that reinforced the rest of the teachings.  It all hangs together beautifully. 

So over the years I found more proofs for existence of God and the truth of the Bible.  For example, living the lessons taught by the Bible does lead to a more meaningful, more fulfilled life.  Or how about the fact that the Bible is incredibly accurate in a historical context.  And most importantly, I started building the right relationship with God…and He started speaking back.  Once you reach that point, there is no longer any doubt that God is real. 

But this is why the Catholic Church urges all people (regardless of whether they be Catholic, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Muslim, Jew, or Atheist) to have a critical mind.  Ask questions and get real answers.  Too often we rely on rumors or the first result on a web search.  You need to go to the source, talk to the experts, and read original documents to get the truth for yourself.  Everyone should be examining what they believe, trying to poke holes, pull at strings, and pursue doubts because the church is confident that you will get answers…and that those answers will lead you to Jesus.

Keep Pursuing,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Story of How I Came to God

It’s important to be able to tell the story of your relationship with God, so this is as much for my sake as it is for anyone else’s.

Chapter 1

I was born into a Catholic family and grew up going through “the routine” every Sunday.  Mom taught me that church was important, God was great, and I needed to be good.  But to be honest, I didn’t always understand the lessons and I never paid attention for the full service.

To me God was great, but he was distant.

Chapter 2

I didn’t take my first step with God until my freshman year of high school.  At Young Life Camp I went on a walk with “Young Steve” (we had three counselors and they were all named Steve).  He shared a bit about his relationship with God which, to me, was like revealing your soul.  It made me want to listen to him. 

He said I should do more than pray for “big things” in my before-bed prayers.  He encouraged me to talk to God throughout the day about the little things I saw and the little things I did.  He shared how, on a walk that morning, he had seen a pretty bird and stopped to pray, “Wow God, that’s pretty cool.”

It resonated with me and I started praying throughout the day.  It transformed my relationship God.  He was no longer distant.  He felt close.  God became a parent with whom I shared what I did every day.

Chapter 3

Wouldn’t it be great if we always walked forwards and never went backwards?  Well I took steps backwards in my faith as I progressed in high school.  As I became more self-absorbed church held less importance.  And then all hell broke loose when I met my first girlfriend.

It was the most selfish time of my life.  We were both completely self-absorbed and did our best to tear each other apart by pushing each other further into sin.  And we had the gall to say “I love you”!  This type of relationship is the furthest thing from love possible…worse than hatred, it was apathy towards each other while we fulfilled our basest desires.  It was a dark time in my life.

God became a parent with whom I shared only the good things and tried to hide the rest.  (Looking back, I bet this is how Adam felt hiding from God in Eden.)

Chapter 4

But things changed when I went to college.  You see my greatest source of strength and comfort had always been my family.  The other, lesser sources were friends and church.  I went away to college and didn’t have my family or friends.  Church quickly grew in importance as my sole source of strength and comfort.  I looked forward to my Sunday morning walk to church! 

This increased importance led to increased listening, which led to prayers, which led to me questioning the way I was living my life.  It wasn’t long before I broke up with the girlfriend and committed myself to a eudaimon way of life.  I found new friends who were into what I was into and I formed edifying relationships that have lasted to this day.  I was taking steps forward in my walk with Christ again!

God was a parent again, but he also became a teacher, someone I looked to for guidance.

Chapter 5

In my last year at college I went to Longhorn Awakening and…it woke me up.  (Working as advertised!!)

It made Christ real.  And when Jesus is real, knowledge of His sacrifice is vivid.  It brings painful recollection of your sins but it also brings joyful understanding of the scope of a love powerful enough to forgive and forget anything.

And if that wasn’t enough, this retreat was also my first time to experience the power of prayer...the transforming, supernatural, miraculous power of prayer.

God became my savior for the first time in my life!

Chapter 6

I was on fire when I graduated!  Ready to take on the world for Jesus!

But then nothing happened.  All suited up in my armor, sword drawn…no (visible) enemy to do battle with.

Sure I had the sexy, international consultant gig, but it wasn’t meaningful work, I wasn’t helping people.  The sights I saw quickly lost their glamour without someone to share them with.  I began to question my life.  Where was I supposed to be?  What was I supposed to be doing? 

Luckily, I knew the place to turn for answers. 

I prayed and prayed to God.  For years I asked for meaning and guidance…and God spoke to me.   There were times lost in prayer where I would be overcome by His presence.  Other times, He would answer a prayer immediately in a miraculous way.  He let me know He was bearing this burden of uncertainty with me.

God became a companion on my journey.

Chapter 7

But what was I supposed to be doing?!

Looking back, God was guiding me slowly, step by step.  One of these steps was to bring me back to Margaret, the girl of my dreams.  We fell in love.  Real love.  And I started thinking about marriage.  

I wanted a Catholic family, but Margaret was skeptical and had lots of questions…and I couldn’t answer any of them!  I couldn’t speak to the history of the church, I couldn’t defend its teachings…how could I ask her to be Catholic when I didn’t know anything about it?!

Then a miracle happened.  God reached out to Margaret’s mother through Relevant Radio and she became interested in the Catholic faith.  While my flimsy arguments did nothing but anger Margaret, she raced into the RCIA classes to support her mother’s curiosity in the faith.  You want to talk about humbling?!

Through the nudge from Relevant Radio, Margaret’s mother converted, Margaret converted, Margaret’s father converted…and I learned tons about the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I had been asking God to put me where I needed to be and hadn’t known the first thing about my faith.  I was asking him to do all the work.  But it’s not about what He can do for me; it’s about what I can do for Him.  That is a life in service.  That is what we are called to do.  That is the answer I have been praying for. 

God is what matters.

Chapter 8

The next chapter is currently being written. 

Margaret and I got married one week after her conversion.  She is a catalyst for deepening my faith, and I try to be the same for her.  Also, I finally got a new job that will allow me to stay home and be more answer to five years of prayers.

More to come…

Keep Pursuing