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February 21, 2008

Comments

BKP

Bro', I don't envy you in answering any of these questions. I'll be praying for wisdom in this as these are honest questions that ANYONE who truly works to make God a reality in their life has to struggle through. You're not alone...

Dan Fedick

Dan,
I've been thinking about this a lot lately actually.. I can't answer your question for you, and it might be completely wrong.. but this is what I've come up with lately in my prayer/ meditation:
So many times we look at the world and see the pain and suffering, and wonder how we can have it and believe there is a God. But imagine our life if it were only “Good”. Imagine growing up in a good home, in suburban America, not seeing anything but prosperity, health and wealth. You believe that God exists because you've been told to, but outside of that you have no real understanding or true knowledge of who God is.
When you look at the stars and sunsets and mountains and rivers, and think.. “Wow.. If God created that, then He might be truly real.” Our understanding on Earth is all based on comparisons of everything. I mean you can't know if you've made a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich unless you’ve had one that was ill prepared. You see that God's heaven's are beautiful, but this street is so dirty. When seen from that view it does seem that God made a mistake.. It seems as if we are the afterthought that didn't quite get put together just right..
It’s almost as if, for us, in order to see light, we have to know darkness. We don’t understand good without bad. We don’t get it. I don’t know if there is any way we can truly just “understand” good, without understanding bad. It’s the reason the Amish have to “Sow their wild oats” after high school.. All they’ve known is their definition of good. It’s almost as if we have to go out and suffer to understand God.
To your friend, have you ever loved someone, to have them break your heart? Have you ever had anyone you truly loved die? Yes, the suffering they went through is “the ugly..” The death is the horrendous.. The broken heart is the pain.. But your love for them.. That my dear friend is truth.. You see the broken, the anguish, the suffering and the pain, and it moves you... That is Christ in you..
My wife was telling Dan Clark a story once about her childhood with her father. How horrible that time was, and it still affects her in a lot of ways to this day.. I don’t exactly remember what Dan said to Tiffani, but at that moment, I saw Christ in Dan’s eyes. He started to tear up because it was as if he could feel the pain that Tiff was going through. He said something that really spoke to Tiffani, but to me it wasn’t what he said, it was Christ that Dan was for Tiffani in that moment. That is who God is.. That’s how we understand compassion. We can’t understand compassion unless we’ve seen someone else's suffering.. I mean how can you define hope without understanding hopelessness..
The thing about Christ is he entered into that in the dirty and the messy. Born in a barn, ruled over by Roman Government and eventually killed by his own people.. Not an easy life by far.. God entered in to our world to help us understand that this world isn’t about living a life lack of suffering. That is the God to worship. If your having issues understanding the goodness of God, I urge you to go to a homeless shelter and feed the poor, hang out with a child who doesn’t understand good, because all he’s seen is bad....
About once a month, a few of our close friends go down to the homeless shelter to hang out with the children there, and our wives hang out with the women and eat with them and talk about life.. One of the children told my friend Spencer that his father tried killing his brother, and his Uncle died because he drank too much.. It was all normal everyday conversation to him.. It just popped out of his mouth then he said.. “Hey.. Do you have any candy? “ This kid knew nothing of “ good “. He was moved from school to school as he would go from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. All he wanted to do was play basketball with us, and be close to us.. For that kid.. The only good he knew was a couple of random guys playing basketball outside with him...
For the people who are fortunate enough to know what it is like to have food on our tables and a roof over our heads, it’s almost as if we have to enter into the suffering of others.. For our children, I know that I cannot allow them to go through life without experiencing suffering of others, less they be robbed of truly “knowing” God. And when they suffer, it’s my job to be the picture of grace and comfort to them..
My prayer for you is that you would enter into the suffering others to seek God. America is a very hard place to “know” God because his grace and beauty is almost not needed here.. Why do we need God when we have everything and have it all together.
One of the reasons when we go to Church and it feels so fake is everyone is happy.. Everywhere around you.. There’s no room for tears in most churches..... Allow for pain and enter into it.. You will find God there.

The Lost

It's been a long time since I aligned myself with the christian faith, for a plethora of reasons.

As far as suffering goes, I've spent countless hours in homeless shelters, I've even slept on the streets a few times myself the past few years! I've traveled all over this country and much of latin america with my backpack and a few south pacific locales as well. I've seen pain and suffering. I've experienced it. I've had a lady die in my arms and seen the pain of the family when I couldn't save her. Life is a rough place.

God wants us to know he's there. I can't deny that. But does he really give two bits about us beyond his own desire to be noticed? I mean the Jesus story is nice. It gives hope to the hopeless blah blah blah. Most of the time all the hopeless need is a start. Jesus doesn't take them out of the hellhole he put them in. They still live there in filth now matter how many games of basketball you play.

"Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by your name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" - Flip to revelations, what's going on in heaven? God is being recognized as God. Beyond that... there is no will. No plan for what job I'll have next tuesday or whether lil timmy will ever get his surgery.

I can recognize God for God. I can believe that there is an all powerful creator.
What I can't believe is that he cares.

To better understand my position, understand that I was the perfect sunday school kid. Vast memorization of scripture, some would say big-tent style zeal for evangelism, spent my summers ministering at youth camps and my winters heavily involved in church and bible studies. I know the bible forward and back.
The thing is, it never spoke to me. It never leapt from the pages the way a good Twain book does, it's just an outdated dictation of past events.

The thing is, I can't get over wanting to believe like ya'll. It drives me crazy sometimes. I am not sure if it's because I am comfortable in that world because it's what I know or because I really want to believe that there is a greater power looking out for us. Either way the conversation continues.

Dan Fedick

Friend, I wondered after I hit submit who I was speaking to.. I figured that there was a great possibility that I would/could possibly offend, with words of service if you have already traveled that road. So for that I apologize, mostly for ignorance... I cannot pretend to know what you have known.. or what you are going through now.

Question then. Do you ever remember a time that you truly believed that God was working in your life?

The Lost

I can only remember a time when I had no choice.

I know my family meant well. I know that they only desire, as all christian parents, for me to be like them, to love the same god they love and worship in the same way. Let me tell you I have an amazing family, a sentiment I am sure any who know my father would utter in a heartbeat. The man wakes up at 4am almost everyday to study scripture and has for several years.

That being said, I never had a choice. It was the only life I was allowed to know. Everything else was wrong. Everyone not with us was against us and going to burn.

How the can world be so black and white?

If God is omnipotent and God is truth how can truth not be found in the Tao-Te-Ching, the Veda or the al-Quran? How can someone who pursues truth in those religions be condemned to perish for believing what they thought was right? And how can I be some presumptuous to believe they are wrong?

These are all doctrines of a faith that preaches love and yet condemns all. Where's the goodness in that?

I take no offense to anything said here, and hope that none is taken in return.

The Lost

I meant omnipresent. Pardon my mistake!

SH

Lost,
First of all - I am praying for you. Please don't take offense to this - maybe this is not the case but it sounds like you have never really made faith in Jesus Christ your own. We see that so often with kids who have grown up with Christian parents in the church, attended Christian schools, done all the right youth group activities, etc. etc. They tend to sail on their parents faith and belief. A lot of times "church kids" have all the right answers but never really grasp what the abundant life in Christ really is.

A relationship with Jesus and our worship of Him has to be our own. Yes, it's hard to understand suffering and pain. Jesus suffered - he came and lived among us. He was hungry, homeless, poor.......and He is God. That in and of itself is much to grasp. That He would leave the glory of Heaven to come to this fractured earth and be one of us. He went through the pain, the loneliness, rejection, death...for me. It may seem too simple and too easy of an answer but this is enough reason for me to worship Him.

I don't know why God allows some people to suffer and some to enjoy wealth. I don't know why man & woman messed it up in the garden. But in being with the poor, the sick, the lonely, the rejected I have seen Jesus. They ARE Jesus.

The more I learn that it's not about me the more I see God, know God, worship God and serve God. The fact that He uses me to do His work here in this messed up, unfair world is overwhelming.

Do I question, doubt and wonder at times why life is unfair? Do I have times where I feel spiritually dry? YES...but those are the times when I find myself needing to be filled by HIM. Seeking HIM.

Friend, my prayer is that you would find HIM - not just know all about Him but know him.

Dan Fedick

Friend,
Boy is that a hard question to answer. One that I have wrestled with, and still have come up answerless. I have very close friends that are Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim who are great people.... incredible people actually.. I have one Muslim friend who has started a string of orphanages in Kashmir India for the orphaned children of war in that region. As far as that is concerned, I will wrestle through that with you maybe forever..
As far as Truth is concerned, I believe that you can absolutely find truth in all the aforementioned books. Truth is all around us. God is Love, and wherever Love is preached, God is there. God is not Black and White.. Too big for that.. God is found in “Rated R “ movies (ooooh) and “secular” books.. I don’t believe that God understands “Secular” and “Christian” ... again.. Too big for that.. As a matter of fact our Bible quotes a tremendous amount of literature of the time that was non-hebraic. Paul quotes plenty of poets that followed Greek god’s..
I will keep praying through those questions too.. Where do you live? How did you get to know Dan C.?

The Lost

I live in a dream world somewhere between reality and hopeless abandon.

SH - I knew God. Of this I have no doubt. Whether God knew me, that's up for debate.

Dan F - I hear ya. Why then does one need to "buy into" the scriptures so completely? For hope? For security? For something to believe in?

Sometimes I feel like this is why I search, just for something to believe in. Sometimes I wonder why as humans we feel the desire, scientifically, to look elsewhere. Can it be because there is so much bad that we look for something perfect?

Can I be honest with ya'll? Well I suppose it's too late for that question. Here's the thing....

The bible isn't relevant.

There I said it.

Take it to any state college in the country and outside of the christian kids, I would wager that hardly any of them would be the slightest bit interested in hearing it. The story as amazing as it is, is irrelevant with the onslaught of science. It's crumbling.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Perhaps I wasn't called.

The Lost

And if that's the case then these messages are irrelevant anyway.

If someone knows the word but doesn't accept the word does that person become an outcast? Does God spit him out of his mouth, was he ever chosen? Who is chosen? Do I have a choice in the choosing?

But the question I want an answer to, the question that plagues me.

Why would I want to worship him anyway?

Because an impossibly contradictory book lays out riddles and talks about ancient history?

or

Because a hopeless person found some hope?

Of the two I would go with the latter but even that question could be filled by any number of solutions outside of a savior.

Love eachother. Why is that so difficult and why does so much else get in the way?

Show me a christian that lives a guilt free life, who can talk with the unchurched, hang with the unchurched and love unconditionally and still be accepted as a christian.

I digress.

Dan Fedick

Friend,
I had to ruminate over your last statements because they were very profound. Took me a while to come up with the “proper response..” I’ll try my best to discuss and wrestle through my story and the story of Christ.

Sin and Love:
So starkly opposite eachother, they are by very definition their antithesis. However, in this world we are entered into, they are so closely entwined and personal it’s like watching a couple dancing together for the first time ever.. It’s like they’ve never met eachother, so every move is either gently flowing and graceful or they’re falling all over eachother ruining the dance completely.. Looking completely uncoordinated..

What is Sin? What do you believe Sin is? You said “Love eachother. Why is that so difficult and why does so much else get in the way?” I believe that the “so much else that gets in the way” is Sin. It’s the reason there are dictatorships, poor rulers, sweat shops, poverty, famine, sickness, hatred, malice, televangelists, “christian crusades”, bad hair and bad coffee.. We can blame that on every other person’s sin out there. How is it possible for someone to slay another person? How is it possible for a mother to drown her children? Are we capable of those things? If pushed to the limits, are you and I not capable of atrocities? The answer is. As sickning as it sounds, I believe that it is possible. If I grew up in Africa, had no food, clothing, no shelter, and were offered those things in return for service in the rebel militia at an early age, there is a very good possibility that I would kill and maim. I sometimes hate my co-workers.. I want to get drunk.. a lot.. I want to smoke a pack a day like I used to.. It is easier to do what is wrong then to do what is right.. If I said that it wasn’t than I would be a liar.. I am corrupt.. believe me.. I am.
The question is what is Love? Is it defineable? Can you define why you fall in Love with someone? Can you choose how you fall in Love with someone? Once you’ve fallen in love with someone, is it truly possible to fall out of Love with someone? For the husband and wife who have truly chosen eachother and chosen to always be together.. Is it really possible to be separated? If it is possible then, did they choose to be truly married from the beginning? Mystery. Dan Clark was the one who introduced the idea of Mystery to me. He said the Orthodox church would define the love of Christ “A Mystery” that was not defineable.. One that couldn’t be solved. Why I chose Christ is my story, but not only pertainable truly to myself. I can only tell you my story and why I decided what I did. That is the duplicity of the Gospel. People are moved to decide “Christ is my savior, faith in Him is faith in what is true and Right.” How they came to that is their story of the good news they have arrived to. When the Gospel becomes personal, it is real. The relevance of the Bible is that exactly. Stories. Real people’s real stories.. I can’t really tell you why my wife fell in love with me, ( I might never understand..) but she could probably tell you her story of what it was about me that she loved.. After hearing her story, you too might start to like me as a person.. (maybe)
I am only learning to dance slowly. I am a horrible dancer. My friendships with non-christians are flawed just like my christian friendships.. But the thing is.. I love to dance..

Dan Fedick

This is kind of on subject, just thought was a good tidbit about science..
If you do itunes.. check out this 45 second podcast

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=19684326&id=265630617

The Lost

I like your passion Mr. Fredick.

You know what bothers me about the 'my story' aspect of evangelism?

It's the same method used by Amway and every other multi-level marketing company. I guess if it works then who can blame them.

To switch gears a bit, why do ya'll think this is...
http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/02/25/religion.survey.ap/index.html

Sin would be the textbook answer I suppose eh?

Please understand I am not hostile to christianity or any other religion, I just feel a bit of hostility towards the methods of the church. I understand ya'll want your kids to believe in God but I'm telling you, forcing them into it is not the way to go.

Daniel fedick

Can I add you as a friend on facebook?

Dan Fedick

The Lost

I looked for you in Dan's friends list but I didn't see ya.

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