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  #1  
Unread 24th November 2008, 02:34 PM
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Not getting it

I guess you could label me as a "seeker" as I've spent the past several years trying to figure out God/religion/faith/Christianity. I've read a lot of apologetics books in my quest to understand all this. Since, by nature, I'm a very analytical person, facts speak to me much more than emotions and feelings, which has made it extremely difficult for me to come to a point where I can truly grasp and understand things of this matter.

Having said that, I think I've grasped the concept of God as the creator of the universe and life. There are actually many facts relating to this particular issue/subject that make sense, to me at least, allowing me to satisfy my analytical nature and conclude that God is indeed our creator.

However, when it comes to understanding the concept of God as a "personal God," who loves me, cares for me, and desires to have a relationship with me, I just don't get it. It doesn't make sense to me; I feel awkward when I pray, and just don't understand how, out of 6 billion people, I matter a hill of beans to the guy who created the universe. Surely, having done that, he has much more important concerns than lowly I. I feel silly whenever I attempt to pray, having given up talking to imaginary friends decades ago (not saying God is imaginary, I just don't feel like there is anyone listening).

Going to church is downright depressing. Walking into church with 1,000 people who do "get it" makes me feel inferior (they get it but I don't), defective, and just plain old dumb. What do they know that I don't? is what I'm thinking. How could so many people be singing along with "Jesus is my boyfriend" as if He was physically present and listening, when I don't experience that. My faith, such as it is, is always weaker leaving church than it is when I go. I feel silly sticking out as almost the only one who doesn't partake in communion, but I'd be a hypocrite if I did.

I guess experiencing the emotional, personal side of God is either something I'm not wired to understand, as there is no logical path or argument that works on an emotional level, which is what I see the personal relationship as being. I'm not much of a touchy-feely person anymore (my youth has long since passed, call me more of a cynic), so when it comes to having to base a relationship with someone I can't see soley on emotions and love, that doesn't compute for me.

I didn't really write this to solicit advice, input and suggestions. I guess I really just wanted to put down in words things I've felt for a long time. Anyway, thanks for reading, if you made it this far...
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Unread 24th November 2008, 03:05 PM
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Just a thought but -- if you walk into a church with 1000 other people, how do you know for certain that every one of that 1000 "get it"? Many of them may be struggling with the same doubts as you, but they put on a mask so nobody else will know.

We all have doubts and times when God feels very far away. The trick is to hold on to whatever bit of faith you do have and be open to Him. If prayer makes you feel awkward than just talk. No fancy phrases, no magic formula. Just tell Him what is going on, what's going wrong and what's going right.

Sometimes I think people can try too hard when it comes to a relationship (of any kind). So don't try so hard for a while. You may find that God was there all along.
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  #3  
Unread 24th November 2008, 03:21 PM
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I made it this far and yeah...so did God.

Anylitical thinking is needed to be one of God's special called children.
God is omnicient. (meaning He knows everything) All of your gifts, talents and abilities were given to you by His divine pleasure. (OK, past the gobbledeegook) He created you for a reason and a purpose.

The same God who was smart enough to give you life so that you could have it more abundantly than the rest of mankind put you here to work...for him. There are many who go to church for friendships and being one of the "good guys"...but that ain't you.

There is a story about Jesus waiting at the Temple all day in Jerusalem doing nothing but waiting. Women in Bible times were little more than property. A pretty woman of marriagable age was worth something but an old widowed woman wasn't worth anything to anyone. She would have no money, friends, status or worth in their culture at that time.
Everyone who went into the Temple had to pay in order to gain entrance and then again an offering in order to make a prayer.
This same Jesus who worked a relentless schedule of preaching till exhaustion regularly sat and waited for this one old widowed woman to put in the least amount of money given that day in the offering box. (Two copper coins) She gave all she had just so she could speak with God. She needed that money for food too. And Jesus, the Agent of Creation, sat and waited for her the whole day with anticipation and heralding when she showed up.

King David, for all of the stuff said about him good and bad , was the least of his tribe (which was very very small at that time) and he was the smallest and youngest of his brothers. All of David's "mighty men" were rejects from society as well...but they all in the end ruled Israel.

OR

How about Caleb, the guy who with the 12 spies sent to check out the Promised Land. He was the one who said "lets go because God said we could" even though there were Giants. And in the end he did actually live past the forty years to go in and kill them Giants...He was given their town as his portion and he in turn gave it to the Levites...
What most don't know about Caleb was that he wasn't Jewish by birth. He was only adopted in. He never felt like he belonged either. His half brother became the very first Judge in Israel.

Caleb and David were the least (two examples out of a whole book of God choosing the least likely candidates) of all of their contemporaries. Everyone else seemed to "get it" and they didn't. The 12 Apostles weren't much better. These guys all flunked out of Pharisee school as well. (Bethmidrash) There were a lot of guys running about that prayed better, had better sounding lessons, seemed to have the whole religious thing down so well. But...Jesus didn't want them...he wanted 12 simple men of humble positions...no pretty and well taught manners and things to say. They simply had hearts of passion to do what God wanted as best as they could. Not a one of them perfect or flawless (although many would have you believe otherwise) They simply had passion for what they believed and knew to be true.

So...they told what they knew to be true. Peter who had trouble reading and writing so other's could read it was their "Group leader" as chosen by Jesus. Unschooled and unlearned except at Jesus' feet. Jesus being the least successful Messiah out of the dozens who claimed they were at that time.

You, my friend/brother, are exceptionally watched over by God.

but if I were you I would find another church to attend on Sundays.
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Unread 24th November 2008, 07:51 PM
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Bible

I wonder how many of those 1,000 people have had doubts of their own belief, just as as you are. It's safe to say that there have been times in our lives when our faith has been weak. It's then that we must trust in God's ability to hold on to us, rather than in our ability to hold on to him.
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Unread 24th November 2008, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Celticflower View Post
Just a thought but -- if you walk into a church with 1000 other people, how do you know for certain that every one of that 1000 "get it"? Many of them may be struggling with the same doubts as you, but they put on a mask so nobody else will know.

We all have doubts and times when God feels very far away. The trick is to hold on to whatever bit of faith you do have and be open to Him. If prayer makes you feel awkward than just talk. No fancy phrases, no magic formula. Just tell Him what is going on, what's going wrong and what's going right.

Sometimes I think people can try too hard when it comes to a relationship (of any kind). So don't try so hard for a while. You may find that God was there all along.
Good point -- I don't know for certain how many of those people do "get it." I can't see their hearts or thoughts, so all I have to go by is their actions and what I see is a LOT of people who are either good fakers, or really do get it. I realize that more than a few there probably do have their doubts or questions, and I know all believers probably go through that, but as I sit there listening, I couldn't be more confused about things.


We all have doubts and times when God feels very far away. The trick is to hold on to whatever bit of faith you do have and be open to Him. If prayer makes you feel awkward than just talk. No fancy phrases, no magic formula. Just tell Him what is going on, what's going wrong and what's going right.
I understand what you're saying however, I haven't gotten to the point where God ever felt near. He's always felt far away so I have no small bit of faith to hold on to, because it's something I've never had in the first place. I wish there was a magic formula for this.

I've been working on this "relationship" for 4+ years. Maybe you're right -- maybe I should stop trying. If God wants me, he'll pursue me, right? That's what I've heard at least. Maybe the best thing would be to forget about the whole subject?


Originally Posted by miniverchivi View Post
My suggestion, and some would disagree with this, would be to explore all avenues. Try to find everything right and wrong with each belief system and weigh the pros and cons.

I've read things from every end of the spectrum, from Dobson to Dawkins.
Each side has things that make sense and things that don't seem plausible. I too, as a software developer, have an analytical mind that tends to be more receptive to fact than faith.

I've ended up somewhere in the middle. I embrace philosophies from many belief systems.

I...

--am pro-gay marriage
--am anti-abortion (in many cases)
--am liberal about tax reform and guns issues
--am conservative about drug issues
--believe in evolution
--believe that there might be a God of some kind


As you can see I've adopted a belief system that wouldn't really fit in with any others...but that's okay because it suits me. I would suggest that you start exploring everything...
I have actually done a lot of reading on the subject, ranging from apologetics to atheistic writings. Ironically, the Christian worldview is the one that makes the most sense to me. I'm just not able to bridge the "personal relationship" gap that seems to be standing in my way.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has faced this dilemna before. Having a very logical, reasoning mind makes it difficult for those of us afflicted with such "gifts" to grasp things that cannot be logically deduced. Therein lies my problem...



Originally Posted by Harry3142 View Post
I wonder how many of those 1,000 people have had doubts of their own belief, just as as you are. It's safe to say that there have been times in our lives when our faith has been weak. It's then that we must trust in God's ability to hold on to us, rather than in our ability to hold on to him.
I'm not sure I fit into that category. I've never had the faith you are referring to, so I don't really have any doubts, so to speak. All I have is a lack of understanding. As in, I don't understand really what you mean when you say that we must trust in God's ability to hold on to us. Does he really do that? What convinced you?
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Unread 25th November 2008, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by trustgod View Post
maybe I should stop trying. If God wants me, he'll pursue me, right? That's what I've heard at least. Maybe the best thing would be to forget about the whole subject?

I have actually done a lot of reading on the subject, ranging from apologetics to atheistic writings. Ironically, the Christian worldview is the one that makes the most sense to me. I'm just not able to bridge the "personal relationship" gap that seems to be standing in my way.
Somehow I doubt that you could "forget about the whole subject". Seems to me he's got you hooked, and he is not going to let you go even though you still cannot see him too clearly, but you sense him and he's got you searching. Agonising isn't it!

But, you know, sometimes I think there is a purpose behind God's mystery if only that by struggling to seek him, we become more convincingly convicted of his reality. If he were as transparently obvious as the sun would we really take any notice anymore?

One other thought is that are we too concerned with expecting God to come to us and reveal his presence rather than we going to him? And if we talk about reaching out to him, what do we mean by that? One answer is to consider the cross itself: The upright can represent the union between God and humanity, heaven and earth, the 1st commandment to love God. But the crossbar goes sideways embracing the whole of humanity. Jesus was nailed on the crossbar, dying for all of mankind. Here is the 2nd commandment, love one another. How did Jesus tell us that we do things for him: by helping the least of our brethren. Sometimes we find God by doing right for others around us, our families, friends, work colleagues, and strangers. Things start to happen.......
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Unread 25th November 2008, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Ikuis View Post
Somehow I doubt that you could "forget about the whole subject". Seems to me he's got you hooked, and he is not going to let you go even though you still cannot see him too clearly, but you sense him and he's got you searching. Agonising isn't it!

But, you know, sometimes I think there is a purpose behind God's mystery if only that by struggling to seek him, we become more convincingly convicted of his reality. If he were as transparently obvious as the sun would we really take any notice anymore?

One other thought is that are we too concerned with expecting God to come to us and reveal his presence rather than we going to him? And if we talk about reaching out to him, what do we mean by that? One answer is to consider the cross itself: The upright can represent the union between God and humanity, heaven and earth, the 1st commandment to love God. But the crossbar goes sideways embracing the whole of humanity. Jesus was nailed on the crossbar, dying for all of mankind. Here is the 2nd commandment, love one another. How did Jesus tell us that we do things for him: by helping the least of our brethren. Sometimes we find God by doing right for others around us, our families, friends, work colleagues, and strangers. Things start to happen.......
You very well may be right in that he's got me searching. If that's what is actually going on, then he probably won't let me drop it, much as I might be tempted to. And yes, it is very agonizing.

I'm not really asking, or demanding, him to show himself. In fact, I realize that that will never happen. So that's not where things are breaking down for me. Rather, I don't seem able to make the leap from God-as-the-creator to God-who-loves-me. There seems to be a wall between the two that I cannot scale or go around.

I'm not at all trying to be argumentative here. I'm really just thinking out loud, wondering how so many others are able to embrace God as a personal savior while I cannot. Am I defective? Am I way too analytical about this like I am with most things in life (I often suffer from analysis paralysis)? Am I too smart, too dumb, too emotionless, too....?
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Unread 25th November 2008, 10:34 AM
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Just the fact that you are searching shows you do have a tiny bit of faith. Hold on to that crumb. As long as you acknowledge that there is a creator God, you are on the right track. May I ask which type of church do you go to? IMHO, the differing denominations exist because people respond to the message differently. Maybe you have not found the one that clicks with your way of understanding. There is nothing wrong with trying out different worship styles and experiences.

Also, you might try reaching out to Jesus, rather than God. Let Him help you find your way. The Gospel of John is a great place to start.
Keep searchng - even a tiny bit of faith is better than none at all.
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Unread 25th November 2008, 11:04 AM
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Jesus Christ as all have said is first & foremost of course. Since you have an analytical & scientific bent, perhaps the (Eastern Orthodox) understanding of the uncreated energy of God as being part of grace may be of some help. The article I am linking is a bit over my head but it may not be as difficult as it may seem either: http://orlapubs.com/AR/R75.html God bless.
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Unread 25th November 2008, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by trustgod View Post
I'm not really asking, or demanding, him to show himself. In fact, I realize that that will never happen. So that's not where things are breaking down for me. Rather, I don't seem able to make the leap from God-as-the-creator to God-who-loves-me. There seems to be a wall between the two that I cannot scale or go around.
I think lots of us struggle with comprehending The Almighty as Someone who would love us all individually. I guess, in some ways, this is where Trinitarianism comes in. You clearly believe in God, and Lewis's Trilemma has Jesus covered... so I suppose the question is whether you believe that Jesus is God? Because that's how we can "zone in" on the fact that each and every one of us is specifically loved by God.
I'm not at all trying to be argumentative here. I'm really just thinking out loud, wondering how so many others are able to embrace God as a personal savior while I cannot. Am I defective? Am I way too analytical about this like I am with most things in life (I often suffer from analysis paralysis)? Am I too smart, too dumb, too emotionless, too....?
You're none of the above Truthfully, I haven't embraced God the Father as my personal Saviour... although, I understand intellectually that He very much is. But I can barely comprehend of a God that created the stars - the Almighty, the Most High - let alone His love for us all. But Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and they're my best friends, and Ones we can come to know as we spend time with them. It's Jesus that died on the cross for you, and it's the Holy Spirit that ministers to you, and it's God the Father that created the universe. And they're 3 parts of the same.
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~ I asked Jesus: "How much do you love me?" He said, "This much." Then He stretched out His arms and died."

~ Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come. (Song of Songs 2:12)


~ If anyone speaks badly of you, live so none will believe it.

Last edited by GreenMunchkin; 25th November 2008 at 01:21 PM. Reason: Typo
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