Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hello, and Welcome to a New Adventure!

My name is Mark. I am a long time Christian. I have a wonderful wife, two great adult kids and a cherished relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am also disabled, being struck down in the prime of life by a progressive neurological disorder. Struck down, but lifted back up again by Jesus Christ!

Having faith in our Lord before I got sick made, I believe, all the difference in the world. That is not to say that I have handled my illness perfectly. Oh, no. But, over the years God has blessed me in mighty ways and my illness, my affliction if you will, has been a blessing in its own way. Every night I go to bed knowing that in the morning my left leg might not work, I may have cramps in my arms and hands or I might feel pretty good and feel like writing to you folks. All of this is why I titled this Blog: Every Day a New Adventure – because every day is… Yep. A new adventure.

I thought I would start off with my testimony. This is about how I became a Christian. In later articles I will deal with Chronic illness and other subjects and how God has brought me through them. I will try to keep things light for the most part. After all, when its all over I’m going to heaven so there is no need for too much doom and gloom. But I will address some issues that must be faced eye to eye. In the mean time, here is how I, a devoted Atheist, responded to the call of our Heavenly Father:

It has been in my mind for some time to share this. This is a testimony of my faith in Jesus Christ. All believers have their own story. I just feel compelled to share mine:

Growing up, my family was not spiritual at all. In fact, circumstances in my life had caused me to resent, even hate God. During my late teens I became a devoted atheist. The astronomer and physicist, Carl Sagan fascinated me with his explanations of physics and I studied his books and videos with great interest. By the time I was in college, like my Idol, Dr. Sagan I was an atheist. I was convinced God did not exist.

However, as time went by I found myself wrestling with the nagging feeling that there was more to the whole God thing than I thought. After some time I got tired of constantly dealing with that strange nagging feeling and decided to silence that voice and definitively prove to myself that the whole concept of God was indeed, nonsense. I began by reading the bible. I was happy to find that there were many inconsistencies, even contradictions in the bible. Then there was the conflict between scientific “fact” and biblical “tradition,” accusations of Church meddling, even forging books of the Bible and who could forget all the evil, the destruction, murder and devastation all done in God’s name. Hah! How could anyone believe in a “god” that would let that happen.

Proving this to myself had required studying the bible and asking a lot of questions as well as reading various books and literature (there was no internet in those days). Most of the books I read were written by atheists and focused on debunking the bible. That was fine by me because that fit my mindset anyway. After several months I was confident that there was no God, heaven or hell.

Then, one night, after going over and over in my mind all the reasons not to believe – I accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. Go figure!

How did that happen? Well, remember that nagging feeling I talked about. During and especially after all my research that nagging feeling became overwhelming. The more I felt it the harder I worked at not believing. However, despite my efforts the few items I had read supporting the Bible kept bubbling up to the top of my mind. When I read my Bible it was as if God would guide my eyes to certain verses that would speak specifically to things in my life. For years I was torn. I didn’t know what I believed, yet somehow I did. Unlike many Christians who accept Jesus and immediately act differently, I went on much the same as I had before. This went on for a long time. I was what you would call a “closet” Christian I guess.

Then, one day I stumbled on a radio show that focused on responding to the “problems” with the bible, science and Christianity in general.  Each day they took calls from skeptics and believers alike. They had no call screener so you got everything from real seekers to complete whacko’s. Nevertheless, they were fearless and tackled every question no matter how hard. After they answered a caller’s question they always followed it by insisting that the caller do their own research and verify everything they said. I began listening every day.

It didn’t take long before they had covered every one of my criticisms and more. Their answers were convincing but I took their admonition seriously and did my own research as well. I got the old materials out and some new ones as well. The internet was still a baby but even then it was full of websites that dealt with both sides of this issue. I took full advantage of them and poured over every issue, every concern.

While it took time the reservations I had regarding the bible, the existence of God, Jesus and Christianity were gradually resolved. The criticisms of the Bible I once thought so damning turned out to be paper tigers, taken out of context or just plain made up. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls what little was left of the “Church Manipulation of Scripture” was scuttled. Evolution, the age of the universe and the rest were all, to my surprise, explained in the Bible itself. Much of Scientific criticism of the Bible would be resolved if the scientists, the critics, would just read the Bible.

It was twenty five years ago that I accepted Jesus as savior. The changes that didn’t happen overnight happened gradually but dramatically and I have been out of the “closet” for over twenty years. Its funny, but I’m thankful for the time when I worked so hard to not believe in God because today, when I am assaulted by doubt and worry, I pray and I reflect on that time and how God worked with me day in and day out bringing me closer and closer to His Kingdom. The Lord often brings these things I learned to mind and I am reassured.

Faith is a mystery. It is a gift from our Father in Heaven. It doesn’t come from the intellect. But, that doesn’t mean you have to leave logic and reason behind to believe. In fact, it is just as important to know why you believe as it is to know what you believe.

Why I am writing this now after so much time I don’t know. I just had this nagging feeling…

God bless,
Questions? Feel free to ask me.

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