Sunday, May 29, 2011

That's nice

Today at church we had a guest minister who is going to start a campus ministry at UC Berkeley. He preached on the story in Acts 5 where the apostles are put in jail, then an angel gets them out and they start preaching again. They are taken again and flogged but then released. The minister talked about being bold, and led by the Holy Spirit, to talk to others about Jesus.

I have been able now, for quite a few years, to talk pretty freely about the fact that I believe and that my faith motivates what I do. Even at work I think most people know that about me. I don't experience persecution. No one even mocks me or says anything disparaging about my faith. If it comes up, people tell me they like or admire that about me. Kind of like they're saying, "That's nice," and then they go on their merry way and I go on mine.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

10 reasons for faith

On Easter my church's pastor, Brad Smith, preached a sermon that included 10 of his personal reasons for faith. You can hear his sermon, with these reasons at the end, here (the last one in the list), or search for San Jose Christian Reformed Church in iTunes and find the sermon of April 24, 2011. Below is Brad's list. Many of his reasons resonate with me.

Brad Smith - Why I Believe - 10 Reasons

  1. Brick walls - I try to live life by my own terms, and then I run into brick walls. Each time, I finally realize I need to listen and follow what God says he wants me to do.
  2. People I admire, who believe - People of faith who have formed me by their life, character and teachings. Friends, teachers, C.S. Lewis, our church family.
  3. Apologetics - “A defense.” C.S. Lewis’ argument for reality: Imagine I see someone trapped in a life-risking situation. I hear two voices arguing, (1) that I should help that person, and (2) why it does not make sense to risk my life for someone I don’t know. And somehow it is wired within us that we know we should risk our lives for others.
  4. A life that I want - I read the Bible and see those with faith and I want the life of faith.
  5. The Sierras and babies - Incredible nature, glory of creation, not just the mystery of it, but because it is so good and beautiful. Even when we see things go wrong, we know it’s wrong because the Bible says God made it good.
  6. Times I’ve gotten a glimpse of God’s reality and presence - I go back to those moments when I’m not feeling close, or I’m in doubt, and remember those glimpses, those times I knew.
  7. Hymns that make me cry - Corrie ten Boom, who went through Nazi Germany, talks about her brother’s ordination as the most joyous occasion that an unemotional people can have. I come from an unemotional culture (Dutch) and once in a while, the power of a hymn breaks forth and makes me know.
  8. Because Jesus believes - There’s no one more kind, generous, loving, gracious and true. If he believes, I can.
  9. Because without faith the problem of evil is even a bigger problem than with it - Many people struggle with why bad things happen, especially to good people. It’s a valid question, but it’s an even bigger problem for doubting than to have faith. When we lose someone it rips us apart and we feel it is not right, not the way it should be. It’s not that there’s this cycle of birth, life, death and then we go back to the ground and the cycle starts again. Without faith all the suffering and pain and death is not wrong, it’s just part of the cycle. But with faith we can say we don’t know why but we know why not. We know it can’t be because God doesn’t love us because he himself came into this mess and lived and died for us. He’s proven he loves us.
  10. The resurrection - Thomas the apostle moves from doubt and when he sees the resurrected Christ, he says the most profound sentence, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas is the first one to recognize not that Jesus was just Lord, but that he is God. Not just seeing is believing, “Oh, now I see he is alive from the dead,” but he said, “My Lord and my God.” If the resurrection is true, then all the Bible says about life is true. N.T. Wright says “life after life after death,” when all creation is renewed.