Archive | January, 2014

Eight Diagnostic Questions I Ask of those Who Are Doubting their Faith

1. What are you doubting? There are three primary things people doubt: 1) Their salvation, 2) God’s love for them, 3) fundamental issues of the faith. Included with the doubt of salvation is a sub-catergory: belief that they have committed the unforgivable sin. Which one do you find yourself doubting?

2. If it is a fundamental issue of the faith that you are doubting, which one is it? The reliability of Scripture? The reality of Hell? The exclusivity of Christ? The existence of God? Etc.

(This is important as, more often than not, people are having an emotional struggle, not an intellectual one, even if they don’t identify it as such. For example, ninety-nine percent of the time, people doubt hell and Christ’s exclusivity not because they have found some compelling logical argument against it, but because it does not square with them emotionally. This does not speak to the legitimacy of the doubt, but to the source of its genesis.)

3. Tell me about this aspect of your personality: Would you describe yourself as an intense person who tends toward compulsiveness or a laid back person with a lot of patience? Here is another way, though at first glance it may appear to be odd, to put this [and this will be more relevant to some of us who remember the commercials]: “How many licks does it take for you to get to the center of a Toosie Pop?” If you are old enough, you remember the commercial with the owl. The owl took two licks and then could not contain himself. He then bit straight into the middle. So it took him three. He was intense! If you have to bite into the pop, you might be an intense person.

(Why does this matter? Sometimes, more intense people experience times of extreme doubt, often coming on acutely without any warning. This is especially the case when people have [or at least believe themselves to have] more  intellectually based doubts. Ironically, I find this most among young men who aspire to be apologists, believing that they must immediately and completely immerse themselves in every debate, book, and argument that exists, both those for and those against Christianity. Eventually, this type of personality is prone to be a “spiritual emotional breakdown.”) Continue Reading →

Theology Unplugged: Church (Part 4) – How Should a Church Be Governed?

Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley and Sam Storms as they continue their new series on the Church. This is a topic hotly debated today. What really does it take to be a church? Can three people meet at a coffee shop and call themselves a church? Do churches need to have elders? What about an online church?

There are so many questions being asked today about the Church in the 21st century. This series seeks to dive into the prominent issues of Ecclesiology (the study of the Church).

Theology Unplugged: Video Edition is available for the first time to Credo House Members. You can now listen AND WATCH as Michael, Tim, Sam and JJ dive into issues of theology. Grow in your faith, learn theology, and have a good time. Try Membership risk free! If you don’t love it as much as us you can cancel at any time

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Carrying the Burden of the Sadness of a Loved One

It has been almost two months since my father died. Perhaps, not enough time has elapsed to make me a sage on the subject of death, but I’ll never pass up a chance to share my thoughts about something.

Let me back up a bit.

As many of you know, I have experienced some relatively significant depression over the last few years. I have not been shy about sharing  the dark times. For a while, things became a lot better, but I still have to wake up each morning and do a quick self-diagnosis to see whether I would be able to handle the day emotionally. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not so good.

One would think my father’s passing would have caused more of the same, but such has not been the case. Don’t get me wrong. I have been very sad. In fact, I cried a bit this morning, as I talked to my sister about it. In general, the sadness I feel over his death feels more natural (as natural as the pain of death can feel). Yet, there was also a very particular darkness that left my life at 10:15 a.m. on November 8th.

A few years have passed since I first started crying. I called it “Crying For No Reason At All”, when I blogged about it then. It seemed unreasonable back then, since I could not name a specific cause for it. But one day,  I was listening to George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” while driving, and it reminded me of my parents. It made me think of how much my dad loved my mother, and how much of a void the effects of her aneurysm and stroke left in his life. Though still alive, she was gone in 2006. When I received a new mother, he received a new wife. Over the last seven years, he lived like a broken man who could not be put back together. With his daughter gone and his wife replaced, he never regained his ability to seek purpose, or find a happy moment before he died.

During this time, I did not realize how much his outlook on life and his fractured soul affected those of us who loved him. To have someone so sad around you is harder than being sad yourself. It eventually takes its toll on everyone, and the Lord does not always rescue us from this referred pain. Continue Reading →