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How to Find Faith

In a world of doubt

By Remy Diederich
Cedarbrook Church

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Series: How to Find Faith...in a world of doubt

This document contains the following messages:


1. Coming to Faith – my personal story
2. The Search for Faith
3. Good Faith/Bad Faith- defining our goal
4. Finding Faith in Doubt
5. Evidence for Faith – a look at current science
6. Faith Options: are there many ways to God?
7. Can the Bible Help Me to Find Faith?
8. Taking the Step of Faith
9. Living the Life of Faith

Coming to Faith – my personal story


By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

The other day I was talking to a young man about coming to faith. He said that a month ago he
never thought about God. He didn’t care about God. But through a series of events he started to
think that maybe God was speaking to him. So, he picked up the Bible and started reading in the
Old Testament. He loved it. He was surprised that it made sense to him. But he said that he was
getting nervous about coming to the part that talked about Jesus. I thought that was odd so I
asked him, “Why is that?” And he said, “Because I’m afraid I’ll believe it and if I believe it
then I’ll have to do something about it.”

Again, that was a strange response so I asked what he thought that meant – what would he have
to do that he didn’t like? He said, “I don’t know. I just don’t want to become one of those
religious types that goes to church and lives a boring life.” I laughed and said, “You’ve got it all
wrong. You think connecting with God is going to take things away from your life. But it’s just
the opposite. God wants to add to your life. It’s like you’ve been living in a house with no
power and it finally dawns on you that you should call the electric company and ask them to turn
the power on. They throw the switch and suddenly your house lights up and all the appliances
start working. You see, calling the power company didn’t make things worse. It made things
better. That’s what happens when you connect with God. You can finally start to become the
person that he had in mind when you were born. Faith isn’t something that weighs you down.
Faith sets you free to experience things you’ve never imagined were possible.”

When I told him that - he got all excited. He jumped up from the picnic table we were sitting at,
walked around and sat right next to me. He said “That’s great! I never knew that! Thanks for
telling me. I understand that!”

Then, just this week, I was talking to a woman about what kept her from believing in God. She
said, “I’m afraid that if I believe in God that he’ll take me to all the painful places in my past
and I don’t want to go there.” I said, “You know, you’ve been afraid to go to those painful
places in the past because you didn’t have any hope of healing. But God wants to take you
through each painful place, heal your pain and set you free. It’s like not wanting to go through a
village full of sick people with no doctor. It just makes you depressed. But if you have a doctor

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who will come with you, it changes everything. Instead of being powerless to help the sick, now
you bring hope. It’s the same way with God. When you invite God into your life those painful
places are suddenly windows of hope.”

I tell you these two stories because finding faith scares people. In the church, we often talk about
faith as if everyone has it and is comfortable with it. But the truth is that many people don’t feel
comfortable about their faith. Either they’ve had trouble believing or they’ve hit a dead end or
maybe they had a bad experience that put everything on hold or, worse yet, made them question
their faith all together.

That’s why for the next eight weeks I’m going to be speaking on How to Find Faith in a World
of Doubt. Too often in the church we just talk about what to believe. But I want to back things
up and talk about how to believe and how to find a faith that actually changes your life for good.
I don’t want to assume that everyone that comes here on Sundays has a strong faith. The truth is,
many of you are faking it! I don’t say that critically. It’s just a reality. We all assume everyone
else is farther along in the faith journey than we are so we nod along like we “get it” when many
times we don’t. That’s why I want to “back up the train” – so to speak – and make sure everyone
is on board. We’re going to start at “zero” and slowly show how to find faith. I don’t want to
leave anyone behind.

Throughout the eight weeks I’m going to ask a lot of people to share how they came to faith. But
today, I want to tell you my story about how I to faith. It’s not a dramatic story. I didn’t kill
anyone and go to prison and then have a vision of Jesus standing in my prison cell. I didn’t get
miraculously healed from a life threatening disease. And I wasn’t some deep spiritual seeker that
spent time with the Dali Lama in the mountains of Tibet or in some Buddhist monastery before
realizing that Jesus was the Way.

My conversion was a fairly ordinary experience. I was just a clueless insecure person wandering
through life in a fog. My story of coming to faith is about that fog lifting. I like to tell my story
because most of our stories are pretty ordinary. I’m guessing that you can relate better to an
ordinary story than a dramatic one. So here we go.

Raised Catholic
As far as I can tell, I always believed in God. I never doubted God’s existence. I never had any
reason to. I suppose that came from my Catholic upbringing. I saw God as personal in that he
knew everything about me but I never thought of God as relational - I never thought that he
wanted to interact with me or that it was even possible for me to interact with him.

To be honest, I never gave God much thought at all as a kid. The only thing I gave much
thought was church and that was because we went there every Sunday – although I never
understood why we went because no one liked it.

Now, if you are Catholic, don’t take offense at what I’m saying. I’m not knocking Catholics.
I’m just letting you know what my experience was. I’m sure there will be people who tell their
faith story some day and talk about how Cedarbrook bored them to tears. It happens in every
church.

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Back in those days (and this really dates me), the Catholic mass was spoken in Latin. Catholics
wanted all churches throughout the world to share a common language so no matter where you
went it would be the same. But when I was about eight they changed that and started speaking in
English. Everyone was excited about the change – we thought it would make church more
interesting. But it didn’t. It was still boring – even in English!

For me, church was just a bunch of rules, so I was a happy camper when my parents decided to
quit going at age ten. (I was the last of four kids and so they felt they had done their duty. They
even pushed me through catechism and Confirmation quicker than most kids just so we could
leave early). I didn’t miss church a bit except maybe on Christmas Eve because I thought
staying up late for Midnight Mass was pretty cool.

So, life was good without church. We never talked about it again.

Physics Class
I went a number of years after that with rarely a thought of God. I’m sure I thought of God
occasionally but I really don’t have any memory of it until I was in high school and a couple of
things happened. First, I had a physics class that got me thinking.

Physics was amazing. I had no idea that the world was governed by physical laws, like gravity.
I learned that objects fall at 32 feet per second squared…ALL the time. And I was amazed to
learn that a penny fell just as fast as a brick. I didn’t know that. I just assumed that heavy
objects fell faster than light ones. But that got me thinking…when we obey natural laws, our
lives are better for it. I mean, observing the law of gravity keeps you out of a lot of trouble,
right? Otherwise you might try to jump off a cliff thinking that you can float or something stupid
like that.

Well, I thought that if observing natural laws made my life better then there must be moral and
even spiritual laws that, if obeyed, would make my life better as well. Thinking about morality
got me thinking about God and the Bible probably because that was my frame of reference –
being raised in the church. So my conclusion in all of this was that if I lived the life that God
wanted me to live that my life would be better.

Now, I wish I could say that all my deep thinking made me want to know God. But it didn’t.
I just wanted to live a better life. I wanted to be happy. It was totally self-serving. It really had
nothing to do with knowing God. But even though I had thoughts of God at this point, I didn’t
know what to do with them or where to go. I didn’t know any Christians or anyone spiritual for
that matter, so my thinking stalled.

The Late Great Planet Earth


A few months later one of my friends read the book The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal
Lindsey. The book is about how there are hundreds of prophecies in the Bible that predicted that
Jesus would come the first time and there are hundreds more predicting that he’ll come a second
time. It was a fascinating book and it made a lot of sense to me.

It convinced me that Jesus was real and that he was indeed coming again but I was disappointed
to learn that Jesus was coming so soon because I wanted to get a degree in Ecology and save the

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world in my own way. That may sound funny but it made sense to me at the time. Saving the
environment was something that I could devote my life to and it seemed like Jesus returning was
going to take away my purpose in life!

Years later I learned that in the last chapter, (which I never read), it talked about how to connect
with God in a personal way. It’s funny that I never read it. But even though I didn’t connect
with God at that time I credit that book with pointing me to Jesus.

Getting Busted
The whole time I was processing these thoughts about God I was also involved in using and
selling drugs. I guess I didn’t see any conflict of interest between the two! But I wasn’t a very
smart drug dealer so I got arrested and put on probation after just a few months.

My parents were shocked, of course. They wondered where they had gone wrong with me and
they thought it might have been our leaving church - so we went back. That only lasted three
weeks though. It was just as boring as it had been before. Nothing had changed in the eight
years we were gone. So we left church for the second time.

Transcendental Meditation
That was 1974, the same year that I graduated from high school and went to college. About that
time transcendental meditation (or TM, as it was called) became popular. There was a talk show
on those days with a guy called Merv Griffin and he was sold on TM. I remember watching that
show and deciding that I was going to try it. It seemed like meditation was linking both a natural
and spiritual law and I had to do it. So I saw an ad in the paper for TM, went to a class and paid
my $75 and then came back a week later to get my mantra – that’s a word or a phrase that they
give you to meditate on. The strange thing was that, even though they said it wasn’t a religion,
they told me to bring an orange and a new handkerchief as an offering for my initiation
ceremony.

When I went there they took me into this little room with an altar and some images. The guru or
priest or whatever he was prayed in a language that I didn’t understand and I suddenly got really
uncomfortable. Even though I had never made any conscious connection with God I had thought
enough about God that it made me uncomfortable being in front of this altar. All I could think
about was how I was in danger of committing idolatry and so I kept telling God over and over
that I wasn’t worshipping these false gods, I just wanted to meditate!

Well, I got my mantra and started meditating and that was cool. I was feeling pretty connected.
I did it every morning and evening for twenty minutes. At first I could really feel something - it
was transcendent – but after a while it didn’t have any effect other than to put me to sleep.

Meeting Debbie
It was about that time that I met a girl at work. I took her out for a drink where she told me that
she was a Christian and that she was going to go to a six month discipleship camp in Colorado
with a group called Youth With a Mission. I didn’t know what she was talking about. I said,
“What do you mean, a discipleship camp?” She said that she wanted to learn how to become
more disciplined in her Christian faith.

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I thought that was pretty strange. Why would anyone need to go to a camp for six months to
gain discipline? I told her that I was already disciplined and told her about how I meditated twice
a day. But she said this was different.

We dated for a few months before she left for Colorado but I never did understand what her faith
was all about. I don’t know if she was embarrassed to tell me or if I just wasn’t listening but I
was clueless. Then when she went away to camp she got bolder about her faith. She told me
what she was learning and even sent me some of the lessons. Reading those lessons was like
Greek to me. But something inside of me was warming up to God. I think just watching Debbie
take God so seriously and making God apart of her daily life intrigued me.

I can remember going to bed on Christmas night 1975 and thinking that it was Jesus’ birthday
and I never celebrated it in any way. So I got out of bed, went down stairs and lit a candle on top
of our television. I said a simple prayer like – Jesus, I want to thank you for coming to earth and
I want to live a life that pleases you. Then I blew the candle out and went back to bed.

I told Debbie about this and she was thrilled – probably seeing it as some kind of conversion
experience. Then she told me to check out a church in downtown Minneapolis if I wanted to
learn more about God, so I did. It was called Soul’s Harbor.

Baptism
I remember going there and the pastor was talking out of the Bible. I never heard that before and
I was surprised that it made sense. I never thought the Bible could be that interesting. Then he
announced a baptism coming up. I heard once that if you really wanted to get serious about God
that you should get baptized so I signed up.

I didn’t know what I was doing. (Are you catching a theme here? I bumbled my way to faith!)
They didn’t have a class or meet with me to explain what baptism was about. They just told me
to show up. I had read somewhere that you should repent and then be baptized so I went to the
church 45 minutes early to make sure I allowed enough time to repent! I sat there and tried to
think of every bad thing I had ever done. I really wanted to cry because I thought that crying
was what repentance was all about. But I never cried. I was really disappointed. I felt like I was
letting God down but I ran out of time. (I figured I should have allowed a full hour.) I had to go
meet the other people getting baptized.

Now, this is the embarrassing part. I had never seen a baptism before so I didn’t know the drill.
They gave everyone a sheet-like robe and told us to go change. I guess I missed the memo
because I thought I was supposed to take off all my clothes and put this sheet on. (Thankfully I
kept my underwear on!). But when I got in line for the baptism I saw that everyone else had
shorts or a swimsuit on underneath their sheet.

It suddenly dawned on me what was going to happen when I came out of the water. That sheet
was going to cling to me like Gladwrap and it would be just about as transparent but I didn’t
know what else to do. I racked my brain thinking how I could cut off my pants to make shorts or
something but I couldn’t. And I didn’t want to back out. So when I walked out of the tub of
water I was desperately trying to keep the sheet from clinging to me. I’m sure everyone in the
crowd had a good laugh.

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First Steps
Even though I didn’t know exactly what baptism was all about I think it was a turning point for
me. That was when I decided to get serious about God and make God the center of my life. So,
now I’m going to church, reading the Bible and baptized…but I’m still pretty clueless. I really
don’t know what it means to be a Christian. What I really needed was a group like Alpha to
walk me through the basics of the faith but they didn’t have that then. But at least I felt like I
was headed in the right direction.

As I look back, there were two things that really grounded me in my faith. The first thing was a
Bible study that I attended at the University of Minnesota with Inter-Varsity Christian
Fellowship. Every Monday at noon in Coffman Union was the highlight of my week. The Bible
just opened up to me with understanding as we worked our way through the New Testament as a
group. I was amazed at how those words came alive to me and showed me how to live my new
life as a follower of Jesus.

The second thing was when I met a man by the name of Bob Roosen. Bob had struck it rich in
the stock market and became independently wealthy. So he was in church all the time and active
in every kind of ministry you can imagine. He kind of adopted me and invited me along to do
whatever he was doing. We went to Bible studies and church services and crusades together.
Plus we just hung out together and played racquet ball. I was like a sponge soaking up
everything I could about God and the life of faith.

I know some people like to point to a date that they made the decision to follow Jesus. If
pressed, I could say it was Christmas of ’75 or my baptism. But for me it was really a slow
dawning. God set his hook in me back in high school and slowly reeled me in. He didn’t seem
to be in any hurry. But when my faith finally “took” - my life changed dramatically. I didn’t
change over night but for the first time I had some clarity, some confidence and some direction.
It was like coming out of a fog. And now, I can’t imagine life without God at the center.

Well that’s my story. I told you it wasn’t dramatic! I hope it helped you to see that you can find
God even when you don’t know what you are doing. You can stumble your way into a
relationship with Jesus!

Before I close, I want to make three observations about my faith journey that might help some of
you.

1. Come to Faith First


I know that many people struggle with questions about God before they come to faith. But for
me, I came to faith first and then wrestled with my questions from the inside. I think that’s just
the way I’m wired. I don’t do very well talking about theory. I need to get my hands dirty, so to
speak. That’s one reason I never read a book about how to use a computer (or any manuals for
that matter). Reading a book about a computer means nothing to me. The only way for me to
learn how to use a computer was to turn it on and then start pushing buttons.

That’s what I mean by dealing with things from the inside; I like to jump in and start doing and
learn as I go. That’s how I learned about Jesus. I first took the step of faith and then asked the
questions later. That might seem backwards to some of you but it seemed to work for me. I bet
it would work for some of you too.

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2. God Works Through YOUR Personality
My personality likes logic and order. If I was going to believe in God I needed to see that he was
a god of logic and order. The laws of physics were a proof to me of God’s existence. But you
might hear that and say, “That means nothing to me. The law of gravity leaves me cold. I love
art. And I need to see that God is a god of beauty and freedom of expression.”

Well, if that’s what you need then that’s how God will reveal himself to you. There are a million
sides to God. Don’t let someone else’s story scare you away from God. Too many people find
faith and then try to make everyone else find faith the same way they did.

Maybe you need to question things more from the outside. Maybe you need to experience a few
other religions before you settle in to become a follower of Jesus. That might make some church
people uncomfortable but I think God is willing to work with you to help you become fully
persuaded so that you have a faith that’s real and deep and not just superficial.

3. Belief is not Faith


I always believed in God and Jesus, but I didn’t express faith until 1975. Do you know the
difference between belief and faith? Belief is something that is only in the mind. It’s
intellectual. But faith moves a person to engage with God on a practical level. Faith is belief in
action. Belief says, “God exists.” But Faith says, “God exists and because he exists I will trust
my life to his care.”

For example, a person can believe in airplanes but never have the faith to ride in one. They have
the mental knowledge that airplanes fly, but it’s not until they step on board, sit down and allow
the plane to take off that they actually express their faith in airplanes to fly them someplace
safely.

My guess is that there are a number of people here today that believe in Jesus, just like I did, but
you’ve never put your faith in Jesus – you believe he’s personal (as I said earlier) but not
relational. You’ve never engaged or entered into relationship with him. Some of you here
today are ready to take that step of faith. You want to move from merely believing in Jesus to
being in relationship with him. Others of you need more time. You need to think about it and
process it. That’s fair.

Prayer: Father, thanks for calling me and drawing me to yourself. I know you are calling every
person here. Please give them ears to hear your voice and a sincere heart that is willing to
respond. Help them to move from simply passively believing in you to actively being in
relationship with you. Amen.

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Part Two: The Search for Faith
By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

Video Clip: What is Faith?


This is a “man on the street” interview asking people their definition of faith and what they have faith in. There was
a variety of answers, many vague. Some said that faith was what you have when you don’t have reason or facts. In
general, people didn’t have a very good idea of what faith is.

We just heard how these people defined faith. Now let’s look at what the Bible says about faith.
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is
the evidence of things we cannot yet see. God gave his approval to people in days of old
because of their faith. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at
God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
Hebrews 11:1-3
In other words, these people obtained something by believing in an unseen reality.

In another translation it says that faith is…our handle on what we can't see. (The Message) Or,
the King James Bible says that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” I like both of these
translations because they give us the sense that faith is not some wispy, elusive, impractical
notion but faith is tangible – it’s real - and so therefore we can grab a hold of it and use it to our
advantage.

As I said last week, faith is more than belief. Belief is merely intellectual thoughts but faith
moves us beyond belief and enables us to engage in the unseen world.

Now, some of you might say, “Well, Remy, that’s where I have trouble. I can’t deal with things
that I can’t see.” But that’s not true. You put faith in things that you can’t see every day. Let
me give you a few examples…

Think about every jury trial you’ve ever seen on TV or in person. When the trial is over the
judge asks the jury for a verdict. But how can they reach a verdict when they weren’t at the
scene of the crime? The crime scene is their unseen world. None of them knows what happened/
So the purpose of a trial is to present enough evidence to enable thinking people to come to a
reasonable conclusion about what happened in the unseen place. You see, a verdict is actually an
expression of faith.

Think about marriage. Someone asked me the other day how you can know for sure that the
person you’ve chosen will be a good life partner. Well, you can’t be sure. The future of a
marriage is an unseen world. Marriage is an act of faith. Before someone puts faith in the unseen
world of marriage they are wise to gather evidence that will support their decision to marry.
Unfortunately many people rush into marriage without ever establishing that evidence and so
their “faith” fails them.

Now, think about your health. You go to the doctor and tell her that you have a pain in your
body. She takes an x-ray but she can’t see anything. So she asks you more questions about your
symptoms in hopes of learning about the unseen world inside your body. As she collects more

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and more data a diagnosis begins to form in her mind. Finally, she takes out a pad of paper and
writes you a prescription and says, “Take this twice a day for two weeks and I think it will clear
up”. That too is an expression of faith.

You see, we all act on faith every day. We all deal with unseen worlds. Faith is not as foreign to
us as we think it is. The Bible tells us that we all have a measure of faith. Faith is something that
is inherent to us as human beings. It isn’t just something that spiritual people have. And it isn’t
something that we only use to access God. We all have the ability to collect evidence to make
decisions about an unseen world, whether that’s in court, in marriage, with health or with God.

My point here is not only to define faith but to assure us that we all have faith. So the question
over the next few weeks isn’t really whether or not we will find faith. The question is really
whether or not we will use the faith that we have to find God.

Who is this study for?

Now, you might be sitting there this morning wondering if these next seven weeks are going to
be a waste of your time. I mean, if you’ve already found faith, do you really need this? It’s not
like you are some confused spiritual seeker. Maybe this will be too elementary for you.

Well, I’ll let you decide for yourself if it’s for you. This series is designed for four types of
people. See if you fit one of these categories.

Those with no faith


First, this series is for those who want to find faith. Some of us here grew up in a totally secular
context. God was never mentioned in our homes except to maybe swear. In his book, Finding
Faith, Brian McLaren describes this person by saying…
“Faith to us seems strange, an oddity, an embarrassment, superstitious, primitive, ...yet
we find our secular worldview unfulfilling, able to tell us much about the world, but
unable to account for much of our own experience… ” page 18.

It’s out of this sense of loss, this sense of unfulfillment, that you might begin a search for faith.
You might do it reluctantly. You might even do it half-heartedly at first because you fear where
it might lead you. But you feel compelled, none the less, to look for answers to life’s questions
with a search for faith.

Those who reject the faith of their childhood


Second, this series is for those who want to move beyond the faith of their childhood. A number
of us here are people who grew up in a home that had some level of faith but we never really
thought that much about it. Now, as an adult, we have turned to the faith of our childhood but
we’ve found it lacking.

Maybe your childhood faith was full of hypocrisy – and you don’t want that. Or maybe it was
full of meaningless traditions- and you don’t want that either. Maybe your faith wasn’t based on
much evidence and it’s been challenged by recent scientific discoveries or even by reading a
book like the Da Vinci Code. Or maybe you came to faith prematurely, compelled by your
parents or a friend or your youth group but it wasn’t really a faith commitment that came from

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your heart. Or maybe your conversion came as a result of some act of desperation; you were
insecure or lonely or depressed and were grasping at straws but not really grasping for God.

The fact is, you want faith now, but you want a different quality of faith than what you had
before. You don’t want to simply dust off the faith of your youth. You want a faith that is
intelligent and grounded and helpful. McLaren puts it this way…
“…we outgrew the faith of our childhood or youth. Now we’re seeking for a faith that we
can hold with adult integrity, clear intelligence, and honest feeling. So, many of us need
in this way to renew or replace the faith we lost – to fill the old vacancy in a new way, to
see faith with fresh eyes, or better – to let a mature, refreshed faith become the new eyes
through which we see life.” page 17.

Those whose faith needs healing


Third, this series is for those who need their faith healed. Some of us have been malnourished or
even wounded spiritually. Some of us have gone to churches that are like cardboard cutouts of
the real thing. They lacked depth. Week after week these churches went through the motions of
faith but only offered us a water downed version of the truth. We finally woke up and realized
that we were starving spiritually.

Others of us have been spiritually abused – we’ve been shamed and controlled by people who
have used God and religion to make themselves feel important. Again, McLaren describes this
person by saying…
We feel that we’re walking on a sprained ankle or trying to enjoy a delicious meal with a
bad tooth…We don’t have confidence in our faith, and it brings us more pain than
comfort. Page 18

Those who are mature believers


Finally, this series is for mature believers, for two reasons. First, the Bible tells us to examine our
faith.
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. 2 Corinthians 13:5

No matter how long we’ve been a believer it’s always good to rethink our faith and make sure
we haven’t gone off track.

And second, this series will help mature believers understand the questions that people are
asking today in their search for faith. If you came to faith 20 or 30 years ago, like I did, you need
to understand that people are asking totally different questions from a totally different
perspective. If we want to be able to talk to people about finding faith we need to see the world
through their eyes. And this series will help you to do that.

My point is that no matter where you are in your faith journey, this series is for you.

Our approach to finding faith

Now, if you’ve been around here for a while you’ve noticed that I like to recommend books to
supplement my sermons. The book I’m recommending today is the book that I’ve already
quoted, Finding Faith by Brian Mclaren. You can pick it up in the lobby at a discount if you’d
like.

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I’ll be drawing quite a bit from McLaren’s book over the next few weeks. I don’t know how you
feel about that. Maybe you think that it’s “cheating” for me to use someone else’s book. I used
to think that. I used to think that as a speaker I should only share my own thoughts. But then I
went to a conference where the author/speaker/pastor John Piper spoke and the first thing he said
was that he didn’t have any original ideas. In fact, any ideas that came from him that seemed
profound were undoubtedly from someone else! This really freed me to not take myself so
seriously and allow myself to draw from other people in my teaching. In fact, it dawned on me
that my job as a speaker isn’t to be original. My job is to help my audience the best I can. So, if
other people have insights into my topic then the best thing I can do for my listeners is to share
those insights not just share my narrow view on things.

When I first read Finding Faith I knew that I had to share it with you. I really like McLaren’s
approach in this book. He says…
“Instead of trying to tell you “the answers” via dogmatic pronouncements (as many well-
meaning people have already tried to do for you, no doubt), I would like to try to help you
find the answers yourself. Instead of trying to tell you what to believe or focusing on why
you should believe, my goal is to help you discover how to believe – how to search for
and find a faith that is real, honest, good, enriching and yours.” Page 19

In other words, he’s not wanting to railroad anyone into following Jesus. He’s comfortable in
laying out different faith options and trusting that what Jesus said is true – that the Spirit of God
will lead us into all truth. Or, what God said through Jeremiah… that…
If you seek Me, you will find Me, if you search for me with all your heart.

Most of us aren’t used to this kind of approach. We are used to being told only one side of the
story – probably out of fear that if we knew both sides of the story that people might believe the
wrong thing.

But that’s the wonder and the risk that God built into the human race. He allows us to be
exposed to all kinds of thinking. God’s not afraid that we will believe the wrong thing because he
has confidence in Himself. He has confidence in his ability to reveal His truth to our hearts and
minds. And so when we talk to people about finding faith, we need to have that same confidence
in God’s ability to reveal Truth.

The Search for Faith Requires…

What’s the cost of this search for faith? What will it require? Four things…

1. The Search for Faith requires…Determination & Patience.


Faith isn't something you can pick up over your lunch hour or during halftime on Sunday.
Finding faith takes work. In fact it’s a lot more work today than it was in Bible times.

As I looked at the Bible for stories about coming to faith, I realized that most everyone in the
Bible already had faith in God. They even had faith in the God of the Bible and believed in the
Messiah. The step of faith that was being asked for in the New Testament was for people to
accept Jesus as the Messiah and believe in his resurrection from the dead (no small task).

12
Now compare that to today’s spiritual seeker. There’s no comparison. Many of us today are
starting from scratch with no assumptions or presuppositions about God and with no faith
community to guide us. On top of that we have to deal with historical data of religious mistakes
like the Crusades or the fall of televangelists or ministers who sexually abuse children. Plus we
have to deal with scientific data and news reports that challenges what the Bible says on a
regular basis.

Finding faith is not simple. We can’t reduce it to a few simple steps and that’s because faith isn’t
about acquiring knowledge about God but entering into a relationship with God. And
relationships take time.

2. The Search for Faith requires…Honesty.


Where are you on the scale of faith, 0-5? Can we be honest about that? Can we cut through our
religious talk and our positioning and admit that our faith is bankrupt or wounded or misguided,
if that’s the case? Can we admit that we’ve been going through the motions for years and our
faith has no impact on our daily lives? You see, we have to be willing to say these things if we
want to truly find faith. McLaren says…
[the search for faith]… often forces us to face some ugliness in ourselves, some hard
facts about life, requiring courage, honesty and determination. Faith involves admitting
with humility and boldness that we need to change, to go against the flow, to be different,
to face and shine the light on our cherished illusions and prejudices, and to discover new
truths that can be liberating even though they may be difficult for the ego, painful to the
pride. The search for an authentic faith must be the most life-changing quest anyone can
ever launch. It’s no Sunday school picnic. Pages 13,14.

3. The Search for Faith requires…Reason.


One of the men interviewed in the video said that faith is what you use when you lack reason. I
couldn’t disagree more. Faith is built on reason. Without reason, faith is merely wishful thinking
and that won’t get us very far.

Have you ever asked someone a question that you really wanted an answer to and they said, “Oh,
just have faith.” Doesn’t that make you mad? Well, that’s not what it means to find faith. Faith
doesn't negate intelligence, it engages it. McLaren says…
The search you have embarked upon is a quest of staggering proportions. Its dimensions
are wide and deep, breathtaking at times, inviting you to the dizzying rim of some awe-
inspiring vistas, leaving you wordless in humbled silence. Though a healthy faith is
bigger than the intellect, the search for faith cannot bypass the intellect. The sincere
spiritual seeker must engage the mind fully,… This is a journey that will require you to
think bigger than you ever have before, and then to think bigger still.

4. The Search for Faith requires…Your whole life.


You may not start your quest for faith willing to give your life to God but you can bet that God
will ask it of you at some point along the way. God doesn't negotiate with us in this venture. He
doesn’t meet us half way. He just keeps drawing us to himself.

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The Search for Faith

I was at the University of Stout this week for Meet Menomonie. Meet Menomonie is where
businesses and civic groups set up a table, like a trade show, to introduce themselves to the entire
incoming freshman. A few of us were there representing Cedarbrook.

As I stood there looking at these wide-eyed students I got to thinking about what’s going through
their mind right now – not necessarily right then but in coming to college. There is probably a
fair degree of fear but, for the most part, they are excited about all that they are going to find
here. They hope to find new friends and of course, some good parties. They hope to find a major
and then a career that they can dedicate their life to, and most of them are hoping to find a wife
or a husband.

But I wonder, how many of them are looking to find faith? How many of them are saying,
“Ya know, before I take another step in life I really want to get this faith thing figured
out”?

Probably not too many because our culture just doesn’t value faith, does it? We think faith is
quaint. It’s convenient during times of trouble. But we don’t believe that faith is foundational to
a successful life. Isn’t it interesting that in our journey through life that a job is mandatory,
marriage and family is a high priority, a plasma TV is highly desirable but faith is seen as purely
optional?

I’d like to challenge that thought over the next few weeks and suggest that finding faith should
be our primary goal in life. If you haven’t found faith – and by that I mean a life-changing,
mood-altering commitment to a living God that impacts your life and your attitude and your
decision making on a daily basis. If you haven’t found that kind of faith, then let me encourage
you to shove everything else aside and make finding faith your top priority. I don’t care if you
are a college freshman, or a grade schooler or a retiree. Finding faith needs to rise to the top of
your “to do” list. So I hope you’ll join me in this discussion over the coming weeks.

Prayer: Father, I ask that you would draw every one of us here to desire a life-changing faith.
Stir within us the passion and sense of urgency to make this our top priority and give us the
resolve to not rest until we have made a vital connection with you. Amen.

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Part Three:
Good Faith/ Bad Faith: Defining our Goal
By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

This morning we continue our series called How to Find Faith in a World of Doubt. As I said
before, we are “backing up the train” to make sure that we have everyone on board. Too often in
church we assume that everyone has a strong faith. But I know that’s not true. We have a lot of
people here who have little faith or struggling faith or wounded faith or even shipwrecked faith
and I want to help as many as I can get up to speed.

Now, in our search for faith, even before we decide on the specific beliefs, (Jesus, resurrection,
etc.) it’s important to have an idea in our minds regarding what kind of person of faith we want
to be. In other words…what is the quality of faith that we are shooting for? You see, if we don’t
know what we are shooting for, we won’t know if we’ve hit our target. So this morning we’re
going to look at the difference between good and bad faith. Let’s start by listening in on some
golfers after they’ve finished their game…

Skit: At a table in the clubhouse after golf...

Marty: [Pleased with his score card] Well, it looks like God's blessing was on me today!
Bob; [Ticked] Yeah, well I think I was cursed! I haven't lost that many balls in a long time.
Marty; [semi-quiet and with a smirk] …or thrown that many clubs.
Sarah; Well, I didn't burn up the course myself but it was just fun being with you guys. It's been awhile
since we've hung out and relaxed. We've been spending too much time at the office!
Bob; I just hope Jesus comes back before the company tournament because I don't want to embarrass
myself in front of the whole office.
Marty; You're out of luck there, Bob. We know THAT can't happen.
Bob; What do ya mean?
Marty; I mean we know that Jesus won't come back until after the Tribulation.

Sarah looks like "oh, no, here we go again", rolls her eyes and picks up a newspaper and sips her drink.

Bob; Marty, where did you get THAT idea? Is that what your pastor teaches? Haven't you read Left
Behind? Everyone KNOWS that Jesus could return at any minute. The Bible says in Revelation that...
Marty: (interrupting) The Bible says in Matthew that "immediately after the distress of those days that
the Son of Man will appear in the sky." Sounds like the Tribulation comes first to me.
Bob; Look Marty, you are always taking things out of context. You get that from that liberal church you
go to. If you'd have gone to that conference in Dallas on Prophecy and the End Times like I asked you to,
you'd have a clue.

15
Marty; Have a clue? Who are you to talk to me about having a clue Mr. Spiritual? [Voices getting
louder. Anger getting more and more obvious]. It seems to me that your son is the one that just got
arrested for drinking and driving last week. Sounds to me like you could use a few clues yourself!

Bob pushes back the table and jumps up like he's about to do something rash. Marty jumps up too and is
nose to nose with Bob. Sarah realizes that it's spinning out of control and intervenes.

Sarah; Guys, guys. Settle down! Why do you two always argue about the Bible? Besides, it doesn't
really matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.

Bob and Marty both look at each other in shock like she just swore. They both fix their sites on her.

Bob: [In disbelief and a bit drawn out] It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere?
Marty; You've gotta be kidding. Do you think it didn't matter what those people believed in Jonestown
back in the 80's? They were sincere and look where it got them - a trip home in a body bag.
Bob; Yeah, and what about those people in Waco? You're telling us that it didn't matter what they
believed as long as they were sincere? Come on Sarah. You're making less sense then Marty now.
Sarah; [looking defeated, frustrated and confused] Okay, yeah, you're right. You guys are always right.
What I said doesn't make sense. Fine, go back to arguing about the Bible. I’ve gotta go. (Sarah storms
off leaving Bob and Marty looking confused.)
Marty: What’s her problem?
Bob: Yeah, what is her problem?

There’s something very profound that happened here and I want you to see it. When Sarah said,
“It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere” her logic was admittedly poor –
but her words did have an element of truth to them. She just couldn’t articulate well what she
was sensing. Sarah was trying to point out that Bob and Marty’s faith wasn’t something that
they should be fighting about if they were true believers. But it obviously came out wrong and
they jumped all over her logic.

Sarah knew that both Bob & Marty spent a lot of time talking about God and the Bible. She
knew that both men spent a lot of time at church. But neither of them had a faith that was
attractive to her. Their faith didn’t inspire her to draw closer to God - and in her mind – that’s
what faith should do. If a person has faith then it should make you a better person, a person of
virtue that loves and helps other people. But Bob and Marty’s faith wasn’t ANY of that. Bob
and Marty’s faith was headed toward a fist fight!

Sarah detected what Brian McLaren calls “bad faith”. Bad faith is responsible - more than
anything else – for scaring people away from good faith. That’s why Sarah never went to church
when Bob or Marty invited her. Something inside told her that if their faith was any good then
it would have had a more transforming effect on them. She never took their faith seriously

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because she didn’t want to be like them. I can’t blame her. Brian McLaren says this…

Show me a person who has rejected faith, and nine times in ten I’ll show you a person or
group nearby who turned them sour with their example of bad faith. The great spiritual
need of our world, as well as of so many individuals in it…is good faith.” Finding Faith,
p. 38

This morning I want to look at bad faith for two reasons; first, I want those of you here searching
for faith to see that there are two kinds of faith: good faith and bad faith and there’s a big
difference between the two. I want you to realize that God doesn’t want you to have bad faith
any more than you do. Second, I want those of us who have faith to consider if we have any
characteristics of bad faith, and if we do, I hope you’ll want to change.

Bad Faith
So, let’s look at seven characteristics of bad faith and contrast them with good faith. I’m going to
start by addressing the first three points together because they are all related.
1. Bad faith is characterized by unquestioned authority instead of the right to question
authority.
2. Bad faith is characterized by monologue rather than dialogue.
3. Bad faith is characterized by coercion instead of the freedom to choose.

I think we’ve all either attended churches or known someone in a church where it was not okay
to question the church about what it believes or what it does. These churches aren’t interested in
what you have to say because they don’t think you have anything valuable to add. They’ve got
all the answers and they just want you to listen to what they have to say and then obey
everything they say without question. To question them is a sign of either rebellion or unbelief.
On top of that, they make it very clear how they want you to live your life, spend your money
and spend your time.

But good faith is just the opposite of that. Good faith encourages questions because it knows that
the truth can’t be threatened by questions. Truth stands on it’s own. Good faith isn’t afraid to
dialogue with you and get your input because it knows that it has nothing to lose in the process
and everything to gain. And good faith isn’t compelled to manipulate you into conformity
because it values your individuality and appreciates how God has made us all different for a
reason. Good faith enjoys the richness of diversity rather than trying to quench it out of fear.

Let me give you an example of how I was able to put good faith into action. I’ve got a friend
that wrote me a few weeks ago asking for my input. He was going to write an article in a
Christian publication in support of gay marriage and he wanted to run it by me because he knew
that I would disagree. I really appreciated his confidence in me. He knew that even though I
disagreed with him that I’d be happy to listen to what he had to say and offer constructive
feedback. And that’s what I did. I addressed each one of his points and highlighted where I
thought his logic was faulty. But then, at the very end, I wrote this…

Though I don’t agree with you I can't fault you for trying to make your point. I believe
you are motivated by a godly desire to love, accept and extend the grace of God to as
many people as possible, and that’s a good thing. Love should always compel us to

17
challenge accepted ideas even if we may be proven wrong in the end. So I give you credit
for being willing to push the boundaries and see if anything "gives" biblically…

My friend was doing his best to turn over every “rock” of scripture to see if there was any room
for gay marriage. I don’t think he found anything in his effort but I can’t blame him for trying.

Now, because I disagreed with him I could have shut him down. I could have told him that I
wasn’t going to bother to answer him because he was just wrong and it wasn’t worth my time.
And I could have used my age and education and position as a pastor to intimidate and coerce
him into not writing that article. But that would have been bad faith.

And I think it would have been very offensive to him – pushing him away from me – certainly -
and maybe even away from faith. So instead, I affirmed his desire to question his faith even
though I didn’t agree with his theology. And because of that, I think we are better people for it.
We both walked away with a better understanding of the topic and kept the door open for further
discussions (unlike Bob and Marty). 1

Now let’s look at the next two points.


4. Bad faith is characterized by simplistic thinking instead of realistic thinking
5. Bad faith is characterized by untrustworthiness vs. trustworthiness

I want to illustrate these points with a movie clip from The Big Kahuna. Let me give you the
background first. The Big Kahuna takes place in a hotel room with three men on a business trip.
The two older men, played by Danny DiVito and Kevin Spacey, are well seasoned sale’s reps in
town to for a tradeshow. They have rented a suite at the hotel to entertain one company in
particular and they especially want to meet with the president so they can sell him their
lubricants. The third man is not a sales rep. His name is Bob and he is along to help answer any
technical questions that people might have about the business.

The movie is based on the tension that exists between Larry and Bob. Larry just met Bob on this
trip and he’s not impressed one bit. Bob strikes Larry as young, naïve and simplistic in his
devout Christian faith. The tension comes to a boil when Larry sends Bob to talk to the president
of the company they are trying to do business with. Bob was supposed to simply set up an
appointment for the two sales reps but instead, he spends the evening talking to the president
about Jesus. He never once mentions business. Let’s watch.

Summary: After Bob returns, Larry asks Bob if Bob was the one who brought up the topic of
Jesus. Bob said he was. Larry asked why and Bob said because it was the most important thing
in life. He didn’t feel comfortable talking about business in the context of God because he would
come across as insincere. Larry said that Bob proved himself to be insincere in an even greater
way by misrepresenting his company. His company paid him to “lose his identity for the week in
Wichita” and represent them at the tradeshow. Bob chose to cut himself off from his purpose
and act as an independent agent. Bob tried to quote scripture to prove his point but Larry told
him not to quote scripture because this wasn’t about God, this was bigger than God. Bob didn’t
think anything was bigger than God and Larry said he was missing the point – his job was to
1
Someone asked me if I had enabled my friend by my words. I said, “Not at all. I told him, in no uncertain terms,
what I believed was true. I simply did what I think good faith requires – it gives people the right to question their
faith without the threat of intimidation.”

18
come to Wichita to sell lubricants and he failed to do that. DVD 1:11:10 – 14:55 (Note; The Big
Kahuna is rated R for language. Don’t view this movie if you are offended with profanity.)

This clip doesn’t obviously make my point. That’s why I chose it. I want you to think about this
so please put your thinking cap on! Some of you might not immediately see my point because
you identify with Bob. If I was back in college as a new believer I’d be agreeing with Bob right
now. I mean, isn’t God the most important thing in life? And if God is the most important thing
in life and the president of this company wants to talk about God then isn’t talking about
business trivial in the whole scheme of things?

Well, I don’t want you to think like Bob right now. I want you to think like Larry because if we
want to learn about bad faith we have to see this through Larry’s eyes, not Bob’s. Christians are
expressing bad faith all the time to the world and not having a clue that they are because they fail
to see through the eyes of people like Larry.

I think Larry would call Bob’s thinking here simplistic. Life doesn’t have to be either/or. It can
be both/and. Bob didn’t have to choose between talking business and talking about Jesus. Bob
could have done both. It would have taken more skill but Larry was right, Bob’s company sent
him on that trip to sell lubricants, not to talk about Jesus.

The simplistic thinker wants to reduce life down to the fewest ideas possible. From Larry’s
perspective, the simplistic thinker is basically lazy. They don’t want to work at thinking deeply
and managing a variety of realities in their mind at once. Rather than dealing with the realities of
life, (like the need to do your job!) the simplistic thinker conveniently uses their simple
worldview to eliminate the realities of life. In Bob’s case, his fear of talking business was
resolved by saying that there’s nothing more important than talking about God. That worldview
relieved him from any sense of duty that he had to his company.

I think a lot of people, like Larry, are offended when they see Christians who don’t want to face
reality and use their faith as an excuse to live in a little bubble. From their perspective (and
remember that I’m speaking these things from the viewpoint of someone looking at Christianity
from the outside) they think that every Christian is given some kind of “stupid” pill at conversion
that keeps them from facing the facts of life. We don’t see that because we are on the inside of
faith but we have to realize that outsiders often look at us in disgust, thinking that we live life in
the clouds.

But Larry wasn’t just frustrated with Bob’s simplistic thinking. Larry was frustrated with how
his simplistic thinking made Bob untrustworthy in his eyes. You’ve probably heard the saying
that a person can be “so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” That’s how Larry
felt about Bob. Bob was so heavenly minded that Larry couldn’t trust Bob with a simple
assignment to set up a sales call with the president. So his simplistic thinking led to his
untrustworthiness which represented bad faith to Larry. Larry didn’t want any part of a faith
where you had to “dumb down” to fit in.

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The next characteristic of bad faith is that
6. Bad faith promotes legalism instead of relationship.

That means that bad faith prefers keeping rules over keeping relationships. This is what Jesus
had to say about the bad faith of legalism…
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your
spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the
law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. [note; these are all relational] Matthew 23:23

We saw this kind of bad faith in the skit earlier. It was more important to Bob and Marty to be
right about their personal Bible doctrine than to love and respect each other or Sarah. They were
willing to offend each other for the sake of being right! Can you imagine that? Well, I’m sure
you can because we do this with people all the time. Am I right? That’s what made their faith so
unattractive.2

And it’s that kind of disrespect and insensitivity that makes Christianity so unattractive to a lot of
people. I mean, look at this picture (a picture of a woman holding a sign that says, “God Hates
Fags!). This woman isn’t putting her energy into loving homosexuals and helping them. She is
putting her energy into hate and excluding them. We can easily say that we think this is awful
but I bet I could find the same kind of hatred right here in this room – I bet there are people here
who hate others and have cut them out of their lives yet still want to be called a Christian. ( I
don’t say that with knowledge of any situation. I just understand our human condition.) Folks,
that’s bad faith and we need to run as far away from that as we possibly can.

Finally,
7. Bad faith is characterized by selfishness instead of sacrifice.

I was reading about a TV evangelist by the name of Robert Tilton. Maybe you’ve heard about
him. He was exposed on PrimeTime Live a few years back for shamelessly using his TV show
to take advantage of people by promising miracles if people would send him money. At the
time, he was taking in over $80 million dollars a year.

PrimeTime found dumpsters full of envelopes with unread prayer requests but the checks
removed. That’s bad faith. But whenever we use faith for our own selfish reasons, that is, we
want God to make us happy or rich or powerful or successful - we have bad faith. Good faith is
more interested in giving than receiving. It’s more interested in serving than being served.

The book of James boils good faith down to this…


Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for
orphans and widows in their troubles… James 1:27

2
It reminds me of what Jesus said to the Pharisees. He said that they would travel through the
whole country to find and convert one person but in doing so they would make them twice the
son of hell that they were – see Matthew 23:15. What an indictment against bad faith. Not only
are we guilty of it but we spread it like a disease.

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So, in our search for faith, what kind of faith are we shooting for? It’s a faith that gives us the
right to question, and dialogue and choose. And it’s a faith that makes us realistic, trustworthy,
relational and sacrificial.

For those of you that have found faith, is that the kind of faith that you have? If not, what do you
need to do to change that?

And for those of you that are still seeking faith are you willing to push away bad faith in order to
embrace good faith? Let me challenge you here because it’s easy to sit back and call people
religious hypocrites and act like you don’t need to find faith because so much of faith is corrupt.
But think about the logic of that thought. When I go to the store and look for fruit, I don’t buy
the first piece I pick up. I look it over. I assume that I’ll have to pick through the bad fruit to find
the good. But I haven’t stopped eating fruit just because some of it is rotten. In fact, in all of
life we have to make choices between good and bad, whether you are searching for fruit or cars
or an attorney or a spouse. Why would you think faith is any different? Why do you think faith
is exempt from corruption? It’s not. It’s unrealistic to think that all faith should be good faith
and if it’s not that you don’t want to take the risk. That’s why God gave us discerning minds to
judge between good and bad. So, don’t let bad faith keep you from good faith. You just need to
push bad faith aside and keep looking until you find good faith. And when you do, pursue it
with your whole heart!

Next week we are going to look at the role of doubt in our search for faith.

Let’s pray; Father I’m sad that there is such a thing as bad faith. But I hope that as I spoke
today that you revealed our bad faith to us and that we’ll find the courage of your spirit to
change. And for those of us who have allowed bad faith to keep us from finding you, I ask that
we’ll be able to walk away from bad faith and pursue the good faith that have waiting for us.
Amen

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Part 4: Finding Faith in Doubt
By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

I wonder how many of us here today struggle with doubt. I’m talking about waking up some
mornings and doubting that God even exists, let alone all the stories of Jesus and his miracles
and rising from the dead. If we want to learn how to find faith it’s important for us to clear away
all the obstacles to faith. Last week we talked about one obstacle, “bad faith”. And today I
want to talk about doubt.

Some of you look around and see all the people here and you are convinced that no one else
struggles believing like you do. Is that true? It seems to come so naturally to others - but for
you, you take two steps forward only to slide three steps back. And because of that you really
wonder if you are cut out for this faith stuff. Maybe you just aren’t one of the chosen few and
that’s why you struggle so much with faith. Maybe you should just give up. In fact, some of
you have – a few times. And you might be at that breaking point again today.

Well, if it’s up to me, I’m not going to let that happen! If I’ve described your situation, I want
you to know that you are in good company. Even one of Jesus’ disciples doubted and he was
right there and had eye witnesses tell him about how Jesus rose from the dead. In the book of
John, John tells how Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was resurrected.
One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus
came. They told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he replied, "I won't believe it unless I
see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the
wound in his side." John 20:24-25

Those words have forever branded Thomas as “Doubting Thomas”. But I love the rest of the
story. Let’s read it…
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them.
The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. He
said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my
hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be without faith any longer.
Believe!" John 20:26,27

Did you catch what happened? Jesus gave Thomas exactly what he asked for. Thomas wanted
to put his fingers into the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side. And that’s what Jesus let him do.
I don’t think Jesus let out a big sigh of disgust and rolled his eyes like it was a major
inconvenience. Jesus wanted to give Thomas whatever he needed to help him to become a fully
devoted follower.

So, as we start out today I want you to know – right up front - that if you have honest questions
about God and faith, then Jesus wants to answer them for you. You don’t have to be ashamed or
embarrassed about your doubt. Jesus won’t treat you like a second class citizen. He’s used to
people doubting him and he has the answers to help you believe.

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The Bad Side of Doubt

Now, that’s not to say that doubt is always good. There is a bad side to doubt. And that’s why
doubt has gotten a bad name over the years. In fact, Jesus spent a lot of time lecturing people
who had bad doubt. These were the people that were always asking for a sign from Jesus to
prove that he really was the Messiah. And these were the people that stood at the foot of Jesus’
cross and criticized him, saying…
He saved others,…but he can't save himself! So he is the king of Israel, is he? Let him
come down from the cross, and we will believe in him! Matthew 27:42

This kind of doubter has no intention of believing. They simply enjoy being contentious.

The Good Side of Doubt

But there is a good side to doubt. That’s what I want you to see this morning. You aren’t a
failure if you struggle with doubt. Some people naturally question more than others. Don’t see
it as a curse. It might actually be a blessing in disguise. Someone has said..
… if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the
ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” Frederick Buechner

Doubt challenges us to examine ourselves as well as others. It causes us to question the status
quo in hopes of finding a better way.

If you think about it, if it wasn’t for people who doubted their faith, the world would be a lot
worse off. Doubt is what caused Galileo to question the church’s teaching that the sun orbited the
earth. Did you know that Galileo was put on trial by the church and forced to recant his views?
But it was his research that changed the way we view the universe and it all started with doubt.

Doubt is what caused Martin Luther to question the church’s practice of offering indulgences -
that is - paying money to get your relatives out of purgatory and into heaven. Purgatory is a place
that some people believe exists as a sort of “holding zone” for people before entering heaven.
The more sinful a life you’ve lived, the longer you have to wait to get in. So indulgences were a
handy way to not only speed up the wait time to get into heaven but a convenient way to raise
money for those nice cathedrals! (Sad, but true.)

Luther said, “I know what the teaching of the church is but I can’t find it in the Bible.” That is
what moved him to post his 95 theses on the Wittenburg Church door in Germany that started the
Protestant Reformation. He too was put on trial by the church. But if it hadn’t been for his
doubting, where would the church be today?

And doubt is what moved Christians to question slavery back in the 1800’s. For years people
used the Bible to justify slavery until brave believers dared to doubt, examined the Bible and
then took a stand for freedom and against slavery.

Doubt has even been instrumental in shaping Cedarbrook as a church. From the very beginning
there has been a core group that has doubted doing church as usual. This is what I wrote three
years ago in our first brochure and it’s still true today

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In an effort to eliminate any roadblock to God, we are rethinking what church means-
challenging every thought and assumption about what church should look like and
questioning why we do what we do. We are redefining church in order to create a fresh
expression of God’s people in Menomonie.

That is a paragraph about doubt. You see, if it wasn’t for doubt, we probably wouldn’t be sitting
here this morning. So I want you to understand that doubt doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can
be a good thing. It can be something that reshapes your faith into something better, something
truer and purer, something that honors God more fully. So don’t be afraid of your doubt and
don’t beat yourself up for being a doubter. Good things can come from doubt. I like the way
Brian McLaren talks about the role of doubt in his own faith…
“My faith is my own creation…that I am assembling and reassembling from what I read,
who I know and respect, what I experience, and so forth. My faith isn’t perfect, and it
isn’t static. It is guaranteed … to be incomplete, inaccurate in many places, out of
proportion, in need of continuing midcourse corrections. Therefore, it deserves to be
doubted at times – doubted so it can be corrected. If I didn’t doubt my faith, I would
protect it, not correct it; defend it, not amend it. Finding Faith, page 203

A faith that refuses to be questioned will ultimately become a toxic faith that poisons our soul as
well as the soul of others. So there are times when it is good to doubt, to question, and to
reexamine your faith.

Reasons for Doubt

Now, there are all kinds of reasons for doubt, depending on where you are in your journey.

1. Bad faith. I talked about this last week. When we see people who are supposed to have faith
act in a way that is hypocritical, it undermines your faith. You say to yourself, “What’s wrong
with this picture? Either their faith is wrong or they are wrong or both. I think I’ll just hold off
on making a commitment until I can decide which is which.” We often point to churches and
church leaders that fail as an example of bad faith but do you know what I think is one of the
greatest sources of bad faith? Parents. I don’t say that to put a guilt trip on you parents but it’s
true. It doesn’t take kids long to see how the truths that they are learning in Sunday school are
being contradicted in the car on the way home from church. Kids see that and they assume that
their faith is just a joke. So they doubt their faith and often discard it.

2. Hard Questions. There are a few questions that have been around from the beginning of
time that make people doubt God.
 How can I believe in what I can’t see?
 Why does God allow suffering and evil?
 Why will God send people to hell for eternity?

And then there’s a modern day question that asks…


 Hasn’t science disproved the Bible?
There are no quick and easy answers to these questions and because of that, we often doubt. I
think there are answers, but nothing that anyone can explain in a few minutes.

3. Tough Circumstances. What I’m talking about here are situations that don’t seem to
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change. It might be a bad marriage or bad finances or bad health. After a while you start to
doubt the God that people have told you about. If God is so real and so personal and so loving,
then why haven’t things changed? Why don’t things get better?

Maybe you even came to faith under the misconception that finding faith was going to solve all
your problems and that didn’t happen. I’ve seen a lot of people drift away from God because of
tough circumstances.

Responding to Your Doubt

My purpose today isn’t to try and answer these questions or difficulties. In fact, that would
defeat my purpose. My point is that doubt is something that you must embrace and wrestle with
over time. There aren’t any easy answers to bad faith or hard questions or tough circumstances.
These are the “grit” in our lives, the pebble in the oyster shell, that refine our faith. These are the
things that keep us coming back to God, again and again, asking him for insight and wisdom and
understanding. Faith doesn’t mean that you have all the answers. Faith believes in God even
when you don’t have all the answers. So faith and doubt can coexist. They aren’t mutually
exclusive.

So what are some steps that you can take to confront your doubt?

1. Tell God. We often push God away in our doubt out of fear or embarrassment. We think
that we have to be full of faith to be considered a true believer – that God doesn’t want to have
anything to do with doubters. But it’s in the midst of our doubt that we need God the most. And
it’s in the midst of our doubt that God wants to help us the most, just like we saw with Jesus and
Thomas. Just because we don’t have God figured out doesn’t mean that we can’t ask him to help
us with our doubt. There’s a proverb that says…
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and not on your own understanding. In everything
that you do, acknowledge God and He will direct your decision-making. Proverbs 3:5,6

This tells me that, rather than run from my doubt, I should stop and face it and then tell God
about it. I need to pour it all out before him. I need to trust God to help me sort out my
questions and not trust in my own ability to figure it out. Brian McLaren says…
God can be experienced through doubt…So, I am learning more and more to doubt with
God, instead of against God. Finding Faith, page 201

Isn’t that an interesting thought? Experiencing God through doubt? In other words, let God be a
part of the doubting process. Let him be a part of the equation rather than thinking that doubt
involves resisting God or drifting away from him.

2. Tell a friend. Talking to a trusted friend is one of the most therapeutic things that you can
do regarding doubt or any problem. It’s good just to hear your ideas come out of your mouth and
see that you aren’t struck by lightning. And it’s good to have a friend hear you out and not tell
you that you are crazy or a terrible person for doubting God. Most likely, they’ll share their own
doubts with you and God will use the two of you to encourage each other in the faith.

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3. Read new books.3 When you get stuck in an area, find a book or two from people that
you’ve never read before. They’ll give you a new perspective and maybe help you get over the
hump of doubt that you are stuck on. Here are five books that I’ve read and recommend.
 A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren
 The Story We Find Ourselves In, by Brian McLaren
 The Search for God Knows What, Donald Miller
 Rumours of Another World, Phillip Yancey
 Adventures in Missing the Point by Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo

As you can tell, I’m a real fan of Brian McLaren. Not only has his writing helped to clarify my
own thinking but I’ve seen his books help a number of people find faith who had all but given up
on God. We’ve got two of these books in the lobby, A New Kind of Christian and The Search
for God Knows What. I think you’ll find both of these books very readable and challenging.

4. Be patient. I think Americans really have trouble being spiritual because we are so
impatient. We want to find faith as quickly and as easily as possible with little or no discomfort.
But a big part of spirituality is learning in discomfort and from discomfort over time. And if we
are honest, most of us resist that. We don’t want to be uncomfortable. We don’t think our
discomfort has anything valuable to teach us and we certainly don’t want it to last more than a
fleeting moment. But to speed up the process actually undermines the process. You see, God’s
purpose isn’t to save us from our discomfort. God’s purpose is to save us from a meaningless
life. Or, to put it another way, God’s purpose is to give meaning to our discomfort.4 So be
patient and let doubt do it’s work in you.

Responding to Others Doubt

Those are some steps that you can take to respond to your doubt. But what about helping other
people respond to their doubt? I have a few ideas but first I want to show you a video of
a young women talking about the struggle for faith of her generation.

DVD: A 20-something woman tells about how her generation (Generation X, as some call it) sees the faith of the
older generation. She talks about the generation gap and the disconnect that exists when older believers talk about
faith to them from their narrow perspective. She ends by saying that, though they struggle to believe, they want to
believe and they need the older generation. She asks for their patience and willingness to work with them.

3
Someone noted that I didn’t recommend reading the Bible to confront doubt. Good point! That’s because I will be
devoting a whole sermon to it in a few weeks. I was also thinking of people that have pretty much given up on the
Bible or the Bible is even a source of their doubt. But it is true that God will use the Bible to help us sort out our
doubt if we are open to reading it. So, point well taken.
4
I enjoyed reading Erwin McManus’ take on John the Baptist in regard to this point (see his book, The Barbarian
Way, available in the lobby). He talks about how disillusioned John the Baptist must have been. He knew Jesus
was the Messiah. He saw the Spirit of God come upon Jesus at his baptism and the voice of God speak from
heaven. But then John ended up in prison facing death. Before the ax fell he sent messengers to Jesus to ask if he
truly was the Messiah. You see, for John, something had gone terribly wrong. He committed his life to Jesus
thinking that Jesus was going to save him from physical harm and overthrow the Romans and the religious elite.
But it didn’t look like it was going to happen. Jesus sent back a message saying… “The blind see, the lame walk,
etc. etc.” and John must have thought, “Good for them. What about me!?” But Jesus didn’t come to save John
from execution. He came to give meaning to his execution. John didn’t die a meaningless death at the hands of a
tyrant. He died a horrible death for the sake of the Kingdom of God and its coming King. In the transition of the
two worlds, John was the front runner. He led the way to Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on
earth as it is in heaven.”

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Let me give you a few suggestions at how to help someone who is struggling with doubt.

1. Listen. Don’t be quick to tell them how it is. First listen to what they have to say and make
sure that you understand where they are coming from. Giving them a chance to vent will do a
world of good.

2. Affirm their search for truth and their right to question. There might be a lot of things
that you don’t like hearing from a doubter but hold your criticism and find the good in what they
are saying. The very fact that they are willing to tell you what they think is positive. If they
weren’t interested in God they’d never take the time to talk.

3. Don’t offer simplistic answers. In fact, it may not be good to offer any answers
for the first few times you meet with your friend. When you are too quick to solve their problem
they feel like you aren’t interested in them. You just want to fix them or convert them and that
will shut them down.

4. Don’t try to change their lifestyle. (That’s God’s job). Just like the woman said in the
video, this generation has rejected the moral code of the older generation. They aren’t impressed
with our marriages or the functionality of our families and so they don’t hold traditional values
as being morally superior. So don’t try to change their outside just to make you happy. Talk to
them about how God wants to change their inside and let God take care of their outside.

5. Model an authentic faith. I really think that what all doubters long to see is one person
radically living out the faith that they say they believe. That’s you and me folks. And until we
start living that radical lifestyle they’ll continue to doubt because we aren’t giving them any
reason not to. After all, if what we say is true, why are we still leading such self-centered lives?

We have five values here at Cedarbrook:


 to personally know God,
 to experience true life-change,
 to develop authentic relationships,
 to sacrificially serve others with our gifts/talents and skills and
 to graciously include others in what we are doing.

If each one of us would commit ourselves to living out these five values we would model the
authentic faith that doubters are longing to see and free them to finally believe.

Let me close by returning to our friend Thomas. When Jesus slowed down and answered
Thomas’ questions, this was his response…
"My Lord and my God!" Thomas exclaimed. John 20:28

Jesus answered Thomas’ questions and he was able to believe. That is what Jesus wants to do
for every one of us who doubts. But listen to Jesus’ final words to Thomas…
Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who
haven't seen me and believe anyway." John 20:29

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That’s you and me. You and I are the ones who haven’t seen yet believe. If Jesus was quick to
help Thomas, who was there , how much more will he help those of us that weren’t there and are
struggling to believe?

Let’s pray: Jesus, I want to thank you that you stand with us today no matter where our faith is;
no matter how much we doubt, no matter how much we waver. You aren’t ashamed of us, in fact
you are eager to go out of your way to give us what we need to believe. Help us not to turn away
from you in our doubt but to turn toward you – to trust in you even when we are unable to trust
in our own understanding. Might we be patient and allow the grit of our doubt to refine us and
give us a faith that can move mountains. Amen.

Part Five: Evidence for Faith


By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

Skit: The Big Question. A young child asks her parents if God exists and if they know him. The parents
fumble for an answer because they have never considered the idea seriously.

Does God exist? Isn’t it amazing that we even have to ask that question? I came across this
quote recently.
Every ant knows the formula of its ant-hill.
Every bee knows the formula of its beehive.
They know it in their own way, not in our way.
Only humankind does not know its formula.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Isn’t that something? We are so intelligent yet we have no idea where we came from or where
we are headed as a human race. And grown men and women are left speechless in front of their
own children.

Well, this morning I want to talk about some evidence to help us believe in God. I’m right in the
middle of a series called How to Find Faith in a World of Doubt and if we are going to find faith
it has to be based on some evidence. You see, faith isn’t what you resort to in the absence of
facts. Faith is what you have as a result of the facts or evidence.

A few weeks back I gave examples of how we make decisions all the time based on faith – not
just in the spiritual realm but in everyday life. Doctors often act in faith when they make a
diagnosis. They don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle yet they make a diagnosis based on what
they do know. Or jurors act in faith when they reach a verdict in a trial. They weren’t at the
scene of the crime yet they are able to offer a verdict based on the evidence that was presented.

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It’s like connecting the dots in a picture. When I was a kid I loved to guess what the picture was
before I connected all the dots because even though I hadn’t connected all the dots I could still
make an educated guess at what the picture was. Whether we are talking about God or daily life,
faith involves making a decision about the unknown based on the trajectory of the information
that is known.

That’s why I want to give you some evidence for faith this morning. I can’t prove God to you. In
fact, I don’t think God wants to prove that he exists; otherwise we would lose our free will to
choose to believe. If God proved himself to us, we’d have to believe. But I can at least give you
some dots to connect that will help you to make an educated guess regarding the existence of
God.

Now, I won’t be giving you evidence, per se. I’m simply going to give you six observations
about the origins of life. You need to decide if it’s evidence that you can use to help you to
believe in God. My first observation is that…

1. The universe was created.


When I was growing up, there were a few theories about the beginning of the universe. One of
the theories was that the universe was static – that is, it always was – it had no beginning. The
thought was that there were an infinite number of past events. But the more that scientists studied
Einstein’s theory of relativity, the more that the idea of a static universe began to fade.

You see, Einstein was able to prove that the universe is expanding. And if it’s expanding, then
there must have been a time and place where it all started. And if it had a starting point, that
meant before it all began there was nothing. So the universe was created out of nothing. They
called it the Big Bang Theory. But it sounded a lot like what happened in the book of Genesis,
chapter one.

Now, this has caused a lot of problems for atheists because you have to ask yourself, ‘What
caused this explosion?’ And, ‘How could something start from nothing?’ For a Christian, that is
easy - God created the heavens and the earth. But if you don’t have faith to believe that God
created the universe then you have to have faith that life was created from nothing and by
chance. And that’s a pretty tough sell. That really requires much more faith than believing in
God. So, remember, this isn’t a question of some people having faith and others, not. This is
about where you choose to place your faith.

In addition to believing that the universe came from nothing by chance, you have to believe
that…
 nothing produces everything
 non-life produces life
 chaos produces order
 unconscious matter produces conscious minds
 non-reason produces intelligence

So, Einstein paved the way for many people to say,


“The chance of something coming from nothing is slim. Maybe there is a God after all.”

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It’s literally in just the last few decades that science has aligned itself with what the Bible has
said all along, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

American Astronomer, Robert Jastrow, said…


The essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same;
the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite
moment in time, in a flash of light and energy. The Case for a Creator, p. 280

My second observation is that…

2. Earth exists in a life-friendly pocket in a life-threatening universe.


Scientists are becoming increasingly amazed at the slim chance of the earth being in a place in
the universe that not only permits life but sustains it. The odds against life in the universe are a
trillion to one but a number of factors have come together to actually promote life on earth. Here
are just a few to consider;

A Spiral Galaxy:
There are three types of galaxies; elliptical, spiral and irregular. Our spiral galaxy provides a
“safe zone” for the earth to exist and foster life. We are protected from explosions of supernovae
and we are far enough away from the nucleus of our galaxy to keep us from being sucked into
the black hole. Plus, our location in the galaxy protects us from radiation as well as puts us in
proximity to heavy elements that we need to sustain life.

A Magnetic field:
Not every planet has a magnetic field but earth does and it plays a crucial role in shielding us
from dangerous radiation from the Sun.

Location in the solar system:


Jupiter shields us from the impact of thousands of comets that would normally come our way,
while the other planets protect us from asteroids. If it wasn’t for these planets creating a
protective shield for us it might be a little dangerous going from the theatre to your car after
church! And if our location was altered by just 2% in relation to the sun, the Earth would be
uninhabitable, either too hot or too cold.

The Sun:
And speaking of the Sun, it has been thought that the Sun is just like any other star but recent
research has shown that the sun is unique among stars and especially geared toward sustaining
life. One of the reasons is that it is highly stable which prevents it from causing wild swings in
temperature on Earth.

The Moon:
The Moon supports life on earth by stabilizing the tilt of the earth. Its gravitational pull is also
largely responsible for the ocean tide which moves important nutrients from land into the ocean.
If the moon were any smaller, the tides wouldn’t be strong enough and if it were any bigger, the
tides would cause incredible destruction, eating away the shorelines. Plus, without the moon the
Earth would rotate three times faster creating continuous gale force winds. (That would make
tent camping a little tricky for us!)

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So, my point here is that the earth is uniquely situated in the universe to sustain life. The next
observation is that…

3. Multiple variables converged to make life possible.


There are so many variables that have converged to make life viable on earth that it’s too
complicated to explain in this setting. But in the book, The Case for the Creator, Dr. Robin
Collins, physicist and philosopher said…
Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything
about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist.
The coincidences are far too fantastic to attribute this to mere chance or to claim that it
needs no explanation. The Case for a Creator, p. 131

For example, take carbon. Every living thing is made up of carbon. You and I are made up of
carbon. But the amazing thing about carbon is the probability of it ever forming is infinitesimally
small. Carbon is the result of two elements combining; helium and beryllium. Beryllium is
radioactive and has a mean life of 10 -16 seconds. That’s a decimal point followed by fifteen
zeroes and then a one (.0000000000000001) behind it! Helium doesn’t have a lot of time to
“catch” beryllium to form carbon, but somehow it does. And without this happening, life would
not exist.

In The Case for the Creator, Robin Collins makes this analogy in regard to convergence. Imagine
that you enter a dome that represents the universe (like the Biosphere that was built a few years
ago). At the time there is no evidence of life. You notice that there is a control panel with
twelve very large dials that have the ability to dictate atmospheric conditions, each with
thousands of settings. You spin each dial at random and then leave. You come back a year later
and notice that life exists and each dial has been perfectly calibrated to sustain life inside the
dome. What would be your conclusion? - that each dial randomly moved on its own and in
conjunction with the other dials to create life or that someone had slipped into the dome brought
living plants and animals with them and perfectly calibrated each dial to sustain life?

Collins describes the chance of just one of these dials being calibrated (the energy density of
empty space) as being like throwing a dart from space – at random – and hitting a bull’s eye
that’s one trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter. He concludes by saying …
I’m saying that the dials for the fundamental properties of the universe have been set like
that. In fact, the precision is far greater. This would be totally unexpected under the
theory that random chance was responsible. However, it’s not unexpected at all under
the hypothesis that there is a Grand Designer. The Case for a Creator, p. 135

And a NASA astrophysicist adds this thought…


If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have
come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was
created for man to live in. John O’Keefe, NASA astrophysicist, The Case for a Creator

My fourth observation is that…

4. Irreducibly complex entities exist.


Now, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. There are certain objects that can’t exist without
every component being in place from the very beginning. Take for example the human cell.

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Everything contained within a cell needs to be there in order for it to exist. If you remove one
component from the cell, the cell will cease to exist. That’s what it means to be irreducibly
complex. If you reduce the complexity of the entity in any way, you destroy it. So the question
is, if you believe that everything evolved one mutation at a time over eons, how did we get a
human cell? How could a cell evolve piece by piece when it can only exist as a whole? Or, how
could the whole unit spontaneous appear all at once?

The eye is another example. The iris has 266 identifiable characteristics as compared to
a finger print that has only 35 measurable characteristics. The biometric structures of your iris
are so unique that there is only a one in 1078 chance that two people’s iris’ will match.
(Remember that 102 is 100, and 106 is one million)

Moving to the back of the eye, the retina is made up of 120 million rods and 7 million cones.
The rods help us see in the dark while the cones help us with color and fine detail. So the
question is, how could something as complex as the eye develop slowly over time? Listen to
what Charles Darwin confessed…
The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder. To suppose that the eye, with all of its
[complexities] could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess,
absurd in the highest possible degree. Charles Darwin as quoted in “More Than Meets
the Eye”, p. 32.

Michael Behe is a leader in the Intelligent Design movement. Maybe you read about him in
TIME recently (August 15, 2005). This is what he concludes…
Evidence can’t produce an irreducibly complex biological machine suddenly, all at once,
because it’s much too complicated. The odds against that would be prohibitive. I believe
that irreducibly complex systems are strong evidence of a purposeful, intentional design
by an intelligent agent. No other theory succeeds; certainly not Darwinism.
Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry and author of Darwin’s Black Box

My fifth observation is that…

5. DNA is a program for life.


Inside of each cell in our body is a nucleus and inside each nucleus there are 23 pairs of
chromosomes. These 23 pairs of chromosomes contain 100 thousand genes which make up our
personal genetic code. Each chromosome contains DNA which consists of three billion pairings
of a sugar, a phosphate and a base. (DNA has been in the news a lot over the past few years, so
maybe you’ve heard some of these things.)

If you were to take the DNA5 out of the cell and stretch it out it would be almost six feet long. If
you were to write it all down, it would create 200 books the size of a thick phonebook. If you
were to read the code it would take you 30 years if you read it non-stop at a normal pace.

DNA is very much like a computer program. It’s the code that tells your body what to do.
Now, if you came across a computer and found that it had a program running it, how many of
you would think that the program developed spontaneously over a period of years? Hopefully,

5
My information on DNA was taken from Dr. Richard Swenson’s book, More Than Meets the Eye.

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none of us. We’d all assume that a programmer developed the program. But many people look
at the genetic code and think that it came about by pure chance.

You see, in the past, scientists have said that time and chance is all that’s needed to bring about
the “miracle” of life. Many people still hold to this idea. In fact, in 1954, Harvard biology
professor, George Wald stated this idea well when he said…
Time is …the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two
billion years…Given so much time the “impossible” becomes the possible, the possible
probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs
the miracles. George Wald, Scientific American, as quoted in The Case for a Creator.

But surprisingly, 25 years later, the Scientific American retracted that article stating that chance
and time was not enough to even create a simple bacterium, let alone life itself.

One astronomer said that the likelihood of evolution creating life by chance is the equivalent of a
tornado whipping through a junk yard and producing a 747 jet. Jonathan Wells6, molecular and
cellular biologist summed up the controversy saying…
The case for Darwinian evolution is bankrupt. [It] is not only grossly inadequate, it’s
systematically distorted. I’m convinced that sometime in the not-too-distant future – I
don’t know, maybe twenty or thirty years from now – people will look back in amazement
and say, ‘How could anyone have believed this?’ Darwinism is merely materialistic
philosophy masquerading as science, and people are recognizing it for what it is.
Johnathan Wells, PhD, molecular and cell biologist and senior fellow, Discovery Institute

My final observation that I submit to you as possible evidence for the existence of God is that…

6. Human beings have consciousness.


Consciousness is the ability to think, to reflect, to feel, to be aware, to love to imagine. Where
did that come from? We take it for granted but it is unique to most living things. Some animals
may have a limited level of consciousness but none have the level of humans. So, if life evolved
from a simple cell to a human being, at what point did mankind develop consciousness? And
how?

Now if we believe in a God who created humans in his own image, then consciousness is not a
problem. But we don’t believe, then it’s a mystery.

As I close out our time I have some questions for you to consider. Now, remember that the
observations I’ve made today are just that – observations. You have to decide if they are
evidence for the existence of God. To do that, you’ll need to struggle with these questions…
 How did the universe come into existence from nothing?
 How did earth become so protected from a hostile universe?
 How did so many variables converge to sit on “the razor’s edge” to sustain life?
 How did irreducibly complex entities come to exist?

2 I agree with Wells on this point. I’m amazed at how the pendulum has swung back toward Creation vs. evolution,
in just the last thirty years. To be honest, I haven’t studied this topic much since college (late 70’s). It is too
complex, seems to always be changing and just fosters arguments. But as I studied for this sermon the amount of
new science that has come out supporting creation is astounding. Christians have more reasons than ever to believe
that God created the heavens and the earth, just like the Bible says.

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 How did DNA develop its program?
 How did consciousness develop in humans?

The psalmist wrote…

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;


your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

He said “I know that full well.” He might have been a little simplistic in his outlook but that is
my prayer for all of us – that we would all come to know full well that God is the one who
created both the world and us.

As I have connected the dots of each of these points over the years, a picture has formed. I’ve
seen a pattern emerge that has led me to believe in God, not out of blind faith but based on
mounting evidence. My conclusion isn’t drawn from wishful thinking or fear but careful
reasoning. And then when I read the Bible in light of this evidence, the picture has filled in even
more, adding color.

The Bible tells me that God is more than a creative force but a Person who knows me intimately.
God calls me by name and has a purpose for my life. And the real block buster surprise is that
this God is so personal that he even broke into history in the person of Jesus to reveal himself to
the world in detail and show us the way to God. In fact Jesus said, If you have seen me you have
seen the Father.

Like I said at the beginning, I can’t prove God’s existence. But I think there is enough evidence
out there to connect the dots and guess the rest of the picture.

Prayer: Father, though most of us here today believe in you we still doubt. And so we thank you
that the heaven’s declare your glory. We believe. Help our unbelief. Help us to find the
evidence we need to make our faith strong so that we’ll follow you with our whole heart. And
help us to find ways to share these things with our friends and family who don’t believe. Amen.

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Part 6: Faith Options – Are there many ways to God?
By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking about how to find faith in a world of doubt. And each
week we‘ve looked at roadblocks that keep us from finding faith. First, we looked at bad faith –
those bad faith or church experiences that keep us away from God. We learned that if you want
to find good faith, you need to push the bad faith aside. Then we looked at doubt. Doubt makes
a lot of us feel guilty but we saw that doubt can actually move us closer to God by causing us to
ask good questions that help us to clarify our faith. Then last week we looked at science and we
saw that rather than challenging our faith, science actually does a good job of supporting it.

Well today, I want to address one last stumbling block and that is the question of faith options.
In other words, is there only one way to God or are there many ways to God? After all, if God is
so big, shouldn’t there be a variety of ways to approach him?

I think this is a good question and a question that is often asked by people in our culture. In fact,
the rock group Hoobastank asks this question in a song called “Same Direction”. So let’s listen
to what they have to say…(Powerpoint/song)

"Same Direction"

Whenever I step outside, somebody claims to see the light


It seems to me that all of us have lost our patience.
'cause everyone thinks they're right,
And nobody thinks that there just might
Be more than one road to our final destination

But I’m not ever going to know if I’m right or wrong


'cause we're all going in the same direction
And I’m not sure which way to go because all along
We've been going in the same direction

I'm tired of playing games, of looking for someone else to blame


For all the holes in answers that are clearly showing
For something to fill the space, was all of the time i spent a waste
'cause so many choices point the same way i was going.....

So why does there only have to be one correct philosophy?


I don't want to go and follow you just to end up like one of them
And why are you always telling me what you want me to believe?
I'd like to think that i can go my own way and meet you in the end.

But I’m not ever going to know..........

Are we really all headed in the same direction? Is everyone really moving toward God no matter
what they believe? I think these last four sentences capture so much of what makes people reject
faith today. No one wants to be told what to believe or how to live their life just to please
someone else. Having everyone conform to one belief system seems so narrow minded in a
world full of options. So this song rejects the thought that there is only one way to God. I think
these words embody the belief of many people today.

35
When I was younger in my faith, I would have been very defensive and critical of a song like
this. I would have said something like, “Man, these guys are lost in their rebellion. Their pride
has blinded them to the ways of God!” But today I look at these words and I hear what they are
saying. I think they’ve raised some great questions that we, as believers, need to address. And
so, this morning I’m going to try to address them as best as I can in a short amount of time.

The Problem with Pluralism

Now, there is a word for believing that there is more than one right way and it’s “pluralism”.
Pluralism sounds like a good thing to many people, and it can be, because some times there are
many ways and it’s important to be open minded. But the problem with pluralism – at least in
regard to religion – is that at some level it doesn’t make sense. The logic breaks down. Every
path can’t lead to God. Someone’s got to be wrong because each religion has a fundamentally
unique worldview. I don’t want to go into the nuts and bolts of every religion but let me give you
a few examples of what I mean.

One example is that the nature of God differs from religion to religion. So we have to ask…
 Did God create everything and now stands separate from creation? ( as in Judaism,
Islam, Christianity).
 Or is God a part of everything? (Hinduism, New Age)
 Is God personal or just a life force?
 If God is personal - is he relational or distant?
You see, God can’t be all of these things – he’s either one or the other. So, someone has to be
wrong.

Or, how about the nature of salvation? That is, what sets us free from our personal imperfection
(Christians call it “sin”) and the pain of this world in general.
 Do we need to work off bad karma through a series of reincarnations?
 Do we need to work at doing good deeds so they off set our bad deeds?
 Or is it true that we can’t do anything to save ourselves and we are totally dependent on
God to save us?
 Or maybe there is no such thing as sin or bad karma.
 Maybe we just need to realize that we are God and shake off the illusion of sin and
bondage.
So, who’s right? We can’t all be right.

C. S. Lewis said that.


Being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other
religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic, there is only one
right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers
are much nearer being right than others. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 35

Now, if I was the author of that Hoobastank song or a religious skeptic in general, I’d probably
say to C. S. Lewis,
That’s what YOU say. YOU say there is only one right answer. But who’s to say that
any religion has it right? Maybe everyone is wrong and God is sitting in heaven and
saying, “These silly people. They’ve made up all their religions thinking that their way is

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the only right way. If they only knew that I don’t care about how they come to me, I just
care that they come!”
That sounds good, doesn’t it? There’s even an element of truth in that.

In fact, I came across a section of the book, Conversations with God that reflects that thought.
The author said he just sat down and wrote what he felt God was telling him. He asked God for
the truth and this is the conversation that he had.

God: I cannot tell you My Truth until you stop telling Me yours.
Walsch: But my truth about God comes from You.
God: Who said so?
Walsch: Others.
God: What others?
Walsch: Leaders. Ministers. Rabbis. Priests. Books. The Bible, for heaven's sake!
God: Those are not authoritative sources.
Walsch: They aren't?
God: No.
Walsch: Then what is?
God: Listen to your feelings. Listen to your Highest Thoughts. Listen to your experience. Whenever any one of
these differ from what you've been told by your teachers, or read in your books, forget the words.
Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God (Putnam, 1996)

Now that might sound attractive but I hope you can see the weakness in the logic. Walsch is
telling us that we are the source of Truth. Truth is totally subjective – it comes from inside of us.
But that puts us at odds with the teaching of Jesus. Jesus said that he was the source of Truth – so
he says truth come from outside of us – that is, it’s objective. So again, someone is right and
someone is wrong – either Jesus is right or Walsch is. We have to decide between the two. We
can’t kid ourselves into thinking that “it’s all good”.

Confronting Pluralism

There’s a passage in the Bible that gives us some insight into this whole question of whether or
not there are many paths to God. It’s in the book of John. Let me give you a little background.

Jesus encounters a woman at a well in Samaria and strikes up a conversation with her. Now,
she’s a Samaritan. Samaritans are half-Jews and half- Assyrians. When the nation of Israel split
in two, the northern kingdom (where Samaria is) didn’t have access to worship in Jerusalem
because Jerusalem was in the southern kingdom. Well, that put a real cramp in the Samaritans
faith because the Bible told them that they needed to go to the temple in Jerusalem to worship.
So they did what every good believer does in a situation like that, they changed their religion to
fit their needs!

First, they cut out all the books of the Bible that made reference to worshipping in Jerusalem.

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Then they created their own temple at the foot of Mount Gerizim in Samaria (within eyesight of
the well that Jesus and the woman were at). So, here is this Samaritan woman with Jesus- she
has no idea who he is – just a religious Jew, for all she knows - and she asks him this question…
So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while
we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?"

In other words, she’s asking Jesus why the Jews are so narrow minded. Why do the Jews think
that there’s only one way to worship God? You see, this is exactly the question that we are
talking about this morning. She’s got the same question as Hoobastank… Aren’t we all headed
in the same direction? What’s the big deal over the details of religion? So let’s see what Jesus
says…
Jesus replied, "Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you
worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know so little about the one
you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.
But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father
in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way.
For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." The
woman said, "I know the Messiah will come – the one who is called Christ. When he
comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus told her, "I am the Messiah!" John
4:20-26

Jesus uses the term “true worshippers” here. I think that’s what we want to know. What does it
mean to be a true worshipper? When we talk about “true” we are talking about who’s right –
what’s the right way to know and worship God. And that implies that there is false worship or
wrong ways to approach God. Let’s look at a few things that Jesus says about true worship.

1. True Worship is in Spirit

First, Jesus said that true worship…is in spirit and not in a place. Jesus is contrasting
worshipping in spirit with worshipping at a temple in Jerusalem or Mt. Gerizim. You see,
worshipping at a temple is external while worshipping in the spirit is internal. He’s saying,
“Don’t get all bent out of shape about where you worship because worship doesn’t have
anything to do with where you are. Worship is about what goes on in the heart.” 7

You see, the question isn’t, “Am I in the right place?” – that is, the right temple or right church.
The question is, “Is my heart in the right place?” If your heart is in the right place then it doesn’t
matter where you are physically.

Now, I think our Hoobastank friends would like this idea. It sounds very unreligious and open
minded. Jesus is telling us that the form of our worship isn’t what gets God excited. God
doesn’t care one way or the other if we worship in a movie theater or a cathedral or a mud hut,
for that matter. He doesn’t care if we use drums and guitar or a pipe organ - or no music at all.
He doesn’t care if we recite prayers from the Bible (like the Lord’s Prayer) or make up our own.
That’s all about the form and God doesn’t care about the form! We like the form. We like the
sense of security and control that form brings. (That’s why when the Creative Team talks about
7
Note that Jesus explains the need to worship in the spirit by saying “For God is Spirit…” He’s saying that God
isn’t limited to any place because he is a spiritual being. Therefore we shouldn’t limit ourselves to a place either.

38
what to do each Sunday we are careful not to change the form too much because we know that it
messes with people’s sense of order and control.)

The form matters to us, but not to God. The book of Amos gives us some insight into this when
God says…
"I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn
assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice
all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to
my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see
a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry. Amos 5:21-24

You see, justice isn’t a form of worship. It’s an act of worship that flows from the attitude of our
heart. God was telling his people that he didn’t care how cool the band was on Sunday morning
if they were oppressing people the rest of the week. So true worship, is first, of the spirit.

2. True Worship is in Truth

Second, true worship relates to God’s revealed truth and not to human speculation. Now, this is
where I think Jesus addresses the idea of pluralism head on. He talks to the woman about the
validity, or rather the invalidity, of the Samaritans man-made religion.

Thinking of “man-made religion” reminds me of a quote from… Sarah Michelle Gellar, the star
of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. She talked about her own self-made religion to a newspaper.
She said…
"I consider myself a spiritual person, I believe in an idea of God, although it's my own
personal idea. I find most religions interesting, and I've been to every kind of
denomination: Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist. I've taken bits from everything and
customized it." Christianity Today, 7/08/02

This is fairly common. In fact I just talked to someone last week who told me the same thing.

But listen to what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman. He said “you know so little about the one
you worship.” He’s saying, “When it comes to God, you don’t know what you are talking
about.” I bet that’s what he’d say to Michelle Gellar and anyone who’s made up their own
religion. When you make up your own religion you are only showing that you have no idea who
God is. And then Jesus goes on to say that the Jews know what they are talking about. The Jews
know all about God and that salvation come through the Jews.

Wow. That’s clear. That’s not fuzzy at all. Jesus makes it clear that the only path to God is
through the Jews and not the Samaritans, no matter how sincere they are. So, according to Jesus,
there is a right way and a wrong way when it comes to finding faith. Not every path leads to
God.

You see, the bottom line here is that the form of our worship doesn’t matter to God but the
content does. There is tremendous freedom and flexibility to how we worship God, probably
much more flexibility than we can imagine or we’ll ever experience. That’s why when we take
our message to other countries or other generations, we should let those people determine what
worship looks like.

39
But even though it’s okay to let people decide the form of their religion…it’s not okay for
everyone to make up the content of their religion. Jesus said we have to worship in TRUTH.
That means that we come to God based on what he has told us is true not simply based on what
we want to think is true.

3. True Worship Centers on Jesus

What Jesus told us is that he is the way to God. You see, the exciting thing about true
Christianity is that it’s about a Person. We aren’t called to a religion or rules but to a
relationship with Jesus. That’s good news! A person, Jesus, is calling us to himself. He’s
calling us to come to him, to listen to him, to share our concerns with him. He’s calling us to
follow him and be his friend. That’s way better than any religion with it’s complex rules and
hoops to jump through. So true worship centers on Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t say it here but later in the book of John, he says,
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
John 14:6
And in the book of Acts, the apostle Peter makes the role of Jesus very clear. He says …
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men
by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

So religion can come in many flavors. It can come in many shapes and sizes and it can carry
elements of goodness and truth. But if it doesn’t have Jesus at its center, it’s flawed.

A Personal Story

Now, I wanted to interview Christine Ruth this morning about how she experimented with
Buddhism before coming to Christ but she’s traveling back from Iowa today after a college
reunion. So, I had Matt Feeney catch her on video earlier this week at our church office. Let’s
take a look.

Video: Christine Ruth (our Director of Spiritual Development) tells about how she was raised with both a
Pentecostal and Lutheran faith experience but rebelled against her parents for two years by practicing Buddhism.
She eventually felt that the missing piece to Buddhism was Jesus. She couldn’t accept the idea that numerous
reincarnations would ever perfect her. She said that she could be reincarnated for eternity and she’d still never get it
right because she was spiritually bankrupt. She needed God to accomplish what she couldn’t on her own. But even
though she found Buddhism lacking the answer to humanity’s basic problem, she still learned things from Buddhism
that have helped her (for example, how to “seize the moment” of every day life).

I like how Christine was able to see her Buddhist experience in a positive light. She didn’t trash
Buddhism. She didn’t say it was evil or of the devil. She simply saw it for what it is. It contains
some truth but it is missing the most important part, how to connect with God through Jesus. She
realized that sin is a very real problem and only Jesus’ death and resurrection solves it.

Engaging a Pluralistic Culture

Before I close, I want to speak briefly about how to engage a pluralistic culture. Whenever you
are in the know about something, you have to be very careful about how you communicate what
you know, otherwise people may perceive you as arrogant or judgmental. We don’t want our

40
attitude to be “We’ve got the truth, you don’t, so listen up”. So how can we talk about the truth
of Jesus in a way that engages people rather than repels them?

Christians often talk about fighting the “culture wars” and I wonder if that’s necessary. Do we
really need to battle the culture or can we successfully engage it? Maybe we’d do better at
sharing our faith if we didn’t see our culture as the enemy but an opportunity to share what we
think they are missing in a positive way.

In the book Finding Faith (chapter eight), Brian McLaren has four great points about how to talk
with other people about faith in a pluralistic culture. Let me mention them to you briefly.

1. Honor the truth wherever it is found. Just because Christianity holds the truth about Jesus,
doesn’t mean that other religions are all lies. They have truth too about issues of morality
and self discipline and faith. So it’s important for us to recognize that truth and honor it. We
can even learn from them if they have deeper insights into certain areas than we do. Christine
talked about how she learned from the Buddhists ability to seize the moment and enjoy even
the mundane parts of life.

We don’t have to minimize or even demonize other religions. Sometimes people talk about
other religions as being evil or of the devil. That’s not fair.8 Religions are just the cry of
humanity trying to reach God. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just incomplete. In Acts 17, the
apostle Paul told the Athenians that he was going to tell them about the god they didn’t
know. The interesting thing is that he quoted one of their poets and said that he was right. In
other words, Paul found truth in the poetry of a false religion and he affirmed it. He didn’t
discredit the poetry just because the poet didn’t know Jesus. But here’s a warning: it’s
important to remember that just because a religion contains truth doesn’t mean that it is true.
So be careful not to get sucked into another religion just because there is truth involved.

2. Honor the glory (or goodness) where it is found. There are many examples of faith,
dedication, sacrifice, compassion and beauty in other religions. It’s important that we
recognize that working to feed and house the poor or rescuing prostitutes from their lifestyles
is noble whether it’s being done by a Christian or a Muslim. These things aren’t invalidated
just because someone isn’t a Christian. We can commend people for doing good things no
matter who they are or what they believe.

3. Honor people, especially when you disagree. Lisa and I pulled up along side a truck the
other night and Lisa said, “That’s awful”. I said, “What?” and she pointed out a decal on the
truck that showed an Iraqi man in the middle of a gun site and it said, “Since 9/11 there is an
open season with no bag limit.” That just sent a chill through my body that someone would
not only think that but be so bold as to put it on their truck for the world to see.

God created every thing and every person. People deserve our respect no matter what they
believe, even if they reject God. We can’t treat people less than human just because they
don’t think like we do. When we honor people and respect their religion (or lack of religion),
we honor God.
8
That’s not to say that Satan doesn’t use other religions to sidetrack people. But I think Satan does that within
Christianity as well. Plus, false religions often rob God of the credit and thanks that he deserves because they
attribute things to humans or nature when the credit should go to God.

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4. It’s okay to not know. I think a number of people have turned away from Christianity
because someone told them that anyone who hasn’t heard about Jesus will automatically go
to hell. They have found that to be very offensive. If that’s true, then they don’t want to be a
part of that kind of religion.

But the Bible doesn’t say that9. The truth is we don’t know how God will treat people who
never get the chance to hear about Jesus. Trust me, there won’t be one person in heaven
pointing an accusative finger at God and judging him for either sending someone to hell who
they didn’t think should go or saving someone from hell who they thought should go. We
will all be amazed at how his holiness, love and justice all comes together to make the perfect
decision for every person.

So, when someone asks us about what happens to people that never hear about Jesus let’s tell
them the truth, we don’t know. Let’s not put words in God’s mouth and make him look bad
when we are just trying to look like we are in the know. We can say is what Abraham. In the
book of Genesis we read about how Abraham was anguishing over the fate of the people that
were living in Sodom. He too wondered what would happen to them and he finally comes to
this resolve…
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25

Yes, the Judge of all the earth will do right. That’s all we need to know. We can rest in that.

Prayer: Father, thanks for sending Jesus to restore us to you. But Father, sometimes it feels
unloving and even arrogant to say that Jesus is the only way to you. Help us to understand what
that means and help us to hold that truth without treating other people like second class citizens.
Help us to bring Jesus to them in a way that completes their faith and doesn’t condemn them.
Amen.

9
This idea comes when people reverse positive statements about salvation. For example, Paul told the Romans, “If
you confess with your mouth – “Jesus is Lord” - and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.” That’s a positive statement. But people err by assuming that if this doesn’t happen that people
will then go to hell. That’s a dangerous assumption when you are talking about the fate of someone’s soul for
eternity.

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Part 7: Can the Bible Help Me to Find Faith?
By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved.

I’ve been talking about how to find faith and so today I want to look at whether or not the Bible
can help us in our search for faith. I’m sure you think that’s a loaded question – after all – I
speak from the Bible all the time. But it’s still a good question because the Bible can often
confuse our faith rather than help it. I had to laugh at the way Brian McLaren complained about
the Bible in his chapter on the Bible. He said..
I’ve often wondered about the Bible… “God, couldn’t you have done better than this?”
If God were trying to give us a holy book, a book of self-revelation, couldn’t God have
made it clearer, less controversial,…? Instead of …books like “First and Second
Thessalonians”…couldn’t there have been clear…timeless prose, with titles like “First,
Second and Third Books of Theology”, “The Truth about the Trinity”, “How to Have a
Good Marriage,” “A Clear Guide to the End of the World”, or “Seven Easy Steps to
Cure Greed and Lust”?... What could God possibly think we gain by having a collection
of Holy Scriptures in this seemingly disorganized, patchwork form…?
Finding Faith, page 231

So, the Bible isn’t the always the easiest book in the world to tackle. And to make things worse,
the church has been arguing about its meaning for centuries.

Let me give you a little history here. In the 1800’s German theologians started to doubt that the
Bible was written by Moses and the other authors that are stated in the Bible. It came to be
known as higher criticism. Their study really opened a whole can of worms because after that it
was like “open season” on the Bible. People were taking shots at it from all sides and casting a
lot of doubt on whether it really was a book of divine revelation.

Conservative scholars got mad at this attack and became very protective of the Bible. In fact,
they got so protective that they went to the other extreme. Instead of doubting the Bible they
started to insist that every word of the Bible was true and therefore should be taken literally – the
Bible “meant what it said and said what it meant.” - which might sound good but it’s not
practical. For example, Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. And if your eye
causes you to sin, pluck it out.” Now, we can’t take that literally or we’ll all be blind and
handless. Jesus was speaking figuratively – he was using exaggeration to make his point. But
these scholars ignored these cautions to their interpretation and kept insisting on reading the
Bible literally. As a result they became very legalistic and rigid and their churches became
known for their rules more than their love.

Ever since the early 1900’s we’ve had these two extremes10 influencing how we read the Bible.
If you come from some of the main line denominations, you’ve been influenced by the liberal

10
We often talk about “fundamentalists” and it was during this period in history that the fundamentalist movement
started. It was a backlash against liberal theology. The fundamentalists established five tenants that were the
cornerstone of their faith, having to do with the deity of Christ and the infallibility of the Bible. Unfortunately this
movement swung so hard to defend the Bible that they often became judgmental in their application of the Bible and
stopped promoting typical Christian acts of compassion (feeding the poor, housing the homeless, etc.), leaving that
for the liberal churches to do. Now, almost 100 years later, conservative churches are finally starting to reclaim
their role in acts of mercy and compassion.

43
thinkers who doubt the history and the miraculous nature of the Bible. If you come from the
more evangelical churches, like Baptists or Pentecostals, then you’ve been influenced by the
conservative thinkers who take the Bible more literally and legalistically. If you don’t have any
church background, then consider yourself blessed because you don’t come to the Bible with as
much baggage as the rest of us!

My point here is that the Bible isn’t easy to read and the church hasn’t made it any easier but, in
spite of that, the Bible can still help you to find faith. So my goal to day is to encourage you to
read it. You don’t even have to believe that the Bible is true…just read it and see if the stories
speak to you.

Why I Believe the Bible is True

Now, I personally believe the Bible is true, miraculous stories and all. And I believe that for two
reasons. One is that I think the Bible stands up under scrutiny as a reliable historical document.
I’ve got a whole sermon that addresses those issues. But I also think the Bible is true simply
because it resonates with my life experience. And so, I want to give you some examples because
I think they might resonate with you too. (This is admittedly a very subjective approach to truth
but all the books of “evidence” in the world won’t convince you that the Bible is true if it doesn’t
ring true in your heart. So that’s why I want to give you my personal reasons for finding the
Bible to be true.)

I believe the Bible because the Bible explains why I am so messed up. I’ve been on the planet
a few years now and I’m convinced that no matter how hard I try, I’m never going to get it right.
I may improve, but I’ll never be perfect. I have a flaw that is inherent to whom I am. And, do
you know what? So do you! I’ve noticed.

And so when I read Genesis 3 and it tells me that Adam and Eve sinned and their sin affected
how they related to each other and to God, it makes sense because that’s my experience. I see it
in my life. I see it in your life and I see it in the world wherever I go. We are helplessly flawed
and I’m convinced that I will never meet anyone who doesn’t walk with a proverbial “limp”.

And as I continue to read the Bible I see that even the best people in the Bible are messed up,
whether that’s Abraham or David or even the disciples and the apostle Paul. In fact Paul wrote
about his own frustrations with how he could never seem to get his act together fully (Romans
7). No one got it right. And that helps me to realize that my problems aren’t just my problems.
We’ve all got the same problems just because we are human. And so when I read this in the
Bible, it makes sense. It rings true.

I believe the Bible because the Bible isn’t afraid of the bare-naked truth, of confusing me or
offending me.
If I was going to write a book trying to convince people of some new religion, I’d make sure that
the heroes of the stories were perfect in every way. I wouldn’t want to give any reason to doubt.
But when you read the Bible, it’s not like that at all. The Bible tells it like it is, warts and all. I
read about Abraham lying about his wife in Egypt out of fear. I read about Moses losing his
temper as he leads God’s people and I read about David seducing a man’s wife while he’s away
at war and eventually killing the man to cover his tracks.

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And when I read the stories about Jesus the allusions to his being God are so subtle at times that I
could easily miss them. The writers of the Gospels just tell the story and let you decide who
Jesus is without any sense of manipulation. They don’t go overboard by contriving stories that
“prove” Jesus is God. That tells me that it must be true. If everything in the Bible was squeaky
clean, if everything was neat and tidy and there weren’t any problems or confusion, that would
make me feel like it must be fake, just like I believe the used car salesman is lying when he tells
me that the car runs perfect, only had one owner and it’s never been in an accident. If he told me
some of the drawbacks to the car as well as the good points, I’d be much quicker to trust his
honesty. And that’s exactly what the Bible does. And its honesty compels me to believe it’s true.

I believe the Bible because the Bible is not about rules. It’s about relationship.
People often talk about the Bible like it’s just a book of rules, but it’s not. Just look at the life of
Jesus. When you read about Jesus he’s often talking to an individual not lecturing the masses.
That has always amazed me. Here we have God in the flesh and his greatest passion is to talk to
people one on one about what’s concerning them. And that leads me to my next thought…

I believe the Bible because Jesus is too good to not be true.


I don’t think that anyone could have thought of Jesus on their own. The Bible tells us that Jesus
didn’t come to be served but to serve. He didn’t come to rule but to die. He didn’t honor the
rich but the poor and the marginalized. Who would have ever guessed that about God?

No one could have ever imagined Jesus because Jesus was so unlike even the best human. Do
you see what I’m saying? Only the mind of God could have produced a person that lived and
spoke like Jesus. And so when I read about him in the Bible it strikes me as real, as true. I don’t
feel like someone made Jesus up just to sell me some new religion. Jesus comes across like a
real person and so I believe it.

I believe the Bible because the hope of resurrection rings true.


I know a lot of people struggle with the thought that Jesus was resurrected. But it doesn’t
surprise me at all because resurrection isn’t just something that happens to Jesus. Resurrection is
through out the entire Bible.

I see resurrection in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sin and God gives them clothes.
That might seem like a little thing but God is saying, “You blew it but I’m not going to forsake
you. I’m going to give you a second chance.” I see resurrection after the Flood when God gives
brings life back to earth. I see it in the birth of Isaac when Abraham and Sarah are too old to bear
children. I see it in the Exodus when God brings his people out of Egypt. I see it in the book of
Nehemiah when God brings his people out of captivity in Babylon. I see it in the church after it
was almost snuffed out countless times but God always brought it back. And I see it in
Revelation when God brings a new heaven and a new earth.

Resurrection is all over the Bible and that’s why I believe that Jesus must have been resurrected.
In fact, it would be harder for me to believe that he wasn’t resurrected. I mean, why would every
story in the Bible carry some kind of resurrection theme and then when God comes in person the
theme of resurrection suddenly disappears? That doesn’t make sense.

Plus, I think there is something in every one of us that longs to be resurrected and that longing
tells me that resurrection is a reality. We long for transformation, for transcendence, to get a

45
second chance…and not in just the next life but in this life. That’s why we pay money to go to
the movies and see a comeback story because comeback stories are really resurrection stories.
They reflect something that’s hardwired into the universe as well as our soul and we never get
tired of them. And so when the Bible talks about the hope of resurrection, that resonates with
me. My guess is that it resonates with you too.

I believe in the Bible because the Bible gives me a believable and satisfying purpose.
If I had to guess what our purpose in life is just from observing people, I’d say that our purpose
is to merely survive with as little trouble in life as possible. But when I read the Bible I see that
God has much more of a purpose for us than mere survival. God wants to bless us so that we can
be a blessing to others. God wants to fill us up with so much life that it overflows to everyone
that we come in contact with. He wants to bring the reality of heaven onto earth through what
we say and do every day. And God wants to not only transform us but use us to be a
transforming agent where ever we go. When I read that in the Bible it makes sense and I believe
it’s true. I just can’t accept that my destiny in life is to merely “get by”. So when I read that
God wants me to join him in spreading his fame throughout the earth by creating good things and
blessing people who don’t know about him something in my heart wells up and says, “YES!
That’s why I’m alive. That makes sense! Why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner?”

But let me be clear here. When I talk about “blessing” I’m not talking about being blessed
financially or relationally or with success or power (although God is certainly adding those
blessings as well if he chooses). In fact, God can bless you even if your marriage stinks and your
finances are weak and your job is boring. When I talk about blessing I’m talking about a joy that
is unrelated to all those things. God wants to bless you with a great attitude, with joy and
compassion and enthusiasm for life in spite of your circumstances and that’s what makes people
sit up and take notice. That’s what enables you to be a blessing to others. They see in you that
you have joy and peace even during the hard times. You see, being a blessing isn’t just about
sharing your financial wealth with others. It’s about sharing your emotional and spiritual wealth
with others too. That’s how God wants to be made famous. That’s what he wants to be known
for – not as a giver of rules but the God who overflows people with unspeakable joy and peace in
spite of terrible circumstances.

Finally, I believe the Bible because the Bible speaks to my need for love and justice.
When I get to the end of the Bible I see that God does two things to bring closure to the human
story. First, he brings justice to evil and second, he restores the broken - and that makes sense.
That rings true. There’s something inside of me that is looking for those two things to bring
closure to the story.

When you think of it, why do we have laws and police and courts and prisons? Why are there so
many police and law shows on TV? Because we are convinced that there is right and wrong and
that wrong must be judged and punished. Justice is wired into our soul.

That’s the point of the book of Revelation. Revelation wasn’t written to satisfy our curiosity
about the end times. It was written to assure the first century church that whoever persecuted
them would be judged in the end and that Jesus was going to welcome them (the persecuted
church) into a kingdom of love and peace. And that makes sense.

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So, what am I saying? I’m saying that if you want to find faith, read the Bible. Let it speak to
your heart like it speaks to mine. See if it doesn’t have anything to say to you about who you
are, about who God is and about your purpose here on earth. Don’t wait until you believe in God
or believe that the Bible is true to read it. Read it now and see if God doesn’t convince of its
truth by how it resonates with your spirit.

Some of you might say, I don’t know where to start. So I’ve got two recommendations for you.
First, pick up my booklet called “The Bible in a Nutshell”. It gives you the basics of what you
need to know about the Bible and where to start. It’s on the information table and it’s free!

Second, you might want to pick up a copy of Beginning the Journey in the lobby. It isn’t a full
Bible, but it has the key books that you’ll want to read plus a lot of helpful notes to help you
understand what’s going on. Plus, it’s only $2.50!

I’ve got a few tips for reading the Bible that I want to share with you but first I want to bring
Jane Wellumson up here to hear how the Bible has helped her over the years in her search for
faith.

[Jane told us about how she made a decision to follow Jesus when she was 16 but she didn’t read the Bible seriously
until she was 26 after being challenged by her father-in-law. Up until that time her Bible reading was here and there
and her Christian life was the same – very up and down. In fact, she didn’t even call herself a Christian for a while
because her lifestyle was so inconsistent with how she thought a Christian should live. But after she started reading
the Bible that all changed. She rededicated her life to following and obeying Jesus. Now she almost always reads
the Bible the first thing in the morning and she looks forward to it “like a big bowl of ice cream”, she enjoys it that
much. Reading the Bible hasn’t made her perfect but it has given her a sense of being grounded so that, even though
life might be rough at the moment, her knowledge of God and his purpose for her keeps her steady.]

Now, before I close here, I want to give you a few thoughts about how to approach the Bible to
get the most out of it. I know in golf they say that the way you approach the ball has a lot to do
with how you will hit it. And I think the same is true with the Bible. Over the past thirty years
I’ve approached the Bible in a lot of different ways – some good and some bad. So let me give
you a few tips from what I’ve learned..

Ten Ways to Approach the Bible.11

1. Come with an open mind and a humble heart.


Too often people come to the Bible with an attitude of unbelief or an agenda to prove. They
come doubting everything or just wanting to justify what they already believe. But you need to
check all that at the door and simply ask God to show you what is true. You can’t hear from God
when you’ve got earplugs in! So come like an innocent child with fresh ears to hear what God
has to say to you.

2. Understand and appreciate the literature forms.


This has to do with what I was saying at the beginning about interpreting the Bible literally.
Some times we are supposed to take the Bible literally and you need to learn when that is. Other
times you need to take it figuratively so you need to understand the cues to know which is which.
You see, the Bible uses a variety of ways to communicate its message. Some times it uses
11
adapted from Adventures in Missing the Point by Brian McLaren, pages 75-81.

47
poetry, some times it tells a story, and sometimes it just gives commands. Sometimes the writer
exaggerates to make his point. Some times he uses understatement or even sarcasm. So just be
aware of these styles when you read.

3. Read for quality, not quantity.


I think it’s great when people get ambitious and decide to read the whole Bible in a year. Or
they decide to read a chapter a day. That can be good to give you the big picture of what’s going
on. But it can also make you miss the point of why you are reading the Bible in the first place.
Our goal is to hear from God so don’t be afraid to just read a few words or sentences and
meditate on them until they become relevant to your life.

4. Read for questions, not just answers.


Some times people say things like: The Bible will answer all your questions about God and life.
No it won’t. If it could then it would only prove that either the Bible is false or God doesn’t
exist! Nothing can answer all your questions about God because God is too big to be reduced to
words. So, when you read the Bible, expect to have questions and don’t worry if you don’t get
them answered right away. Questions stimulate us to want to know more about God while too
many answers tend to make us think that we’ve got God all figured out.

5. Read the Bible like a story book, not a cookbook.


What I mean by this is that our lives are stories, not recipes. We have a tendency to want to
make everything simple. We want to read about three easy steps to health, wealth and success in
life – add a cup of this and a pinch of that and presto! – the results you wanted. But the stories
aren’t like that in the Bible and they aren’t like that in our lives either.

Have you ever noticed that? Marriages don’t always work. Children don’t always turn out the
way you planned. We don’t always get the perfect job that solves all of our financial problems.
But what’s true of every story in the Bible is that God is there. God is there in the midst of the
pain and the problems. And God wants us to know that that can be our story too. If we will start
to acknowledge God in our presence then our circumstances may not change but our sense of
turmoil will. With our hand in God’s hand, suddenly life is not so threatening and we can see
more clearly and breathe more easily.

6. Let the Bible conquer you instead of you trying to conquer it.
Part of approaching the Bible with humility is understanding that no matter how much you read
or how much you know, it will always be bigger than you are. You can’t master the Bible like
you can some other book. The Bible is too deep to master. So rather than try to master the
Bible, why not let it master you? Let it transform you by doing what it says and not just reading
what it says. I bet there are a lot of people in Bible schools and seminaries today who have the
wrong motivation in their study. They want to become “experts of the Bible” but God is simply
calling them to become “experts at life” and wants them to read the Bible as their guidebook.

7. Know the Big Story before you interpret the small ones.
If you don’t know the big picture in the Bible, you will tend to interpret verses according to your
own biases. For example, the overall story has to do with God including people. So if you find
yourself always reading the Bible in a way that judges and excludes people, then you are
probably missing the point. My next series is called, “Learning the Bible’s BIG Story” where I’ll
take a few weeks to give us an overview of the Bible. That should help us with the Big story.

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8. Read the Bible with others, not just by yourself.
The Bible wasn’t written for individuals. It was written for the community of faith. I’m not
saying that we shouldn’t have our own Bible or that we should never read it alone but we need to
understand that God wants to speak to us as a community of believers, not a group of individuals.
Most of the New Testament is letters written to churches not individuals.

So I encourage you to read your Bible but get together with other believers to read it with them
as well as. In January I’m going to start a group for men on Saturday mornings where we’ll read
the Bible together. I’ll teach a little and there will be lots of time for questions. So I hope you
guys will start planning on that.

9. Read the Bible to be more, live more and do more, not just know more.
The Bible is such a fascinating book that it’s easy to read it and never apply it. I was talking to
someone yesterday about end time prophecy. They wondered if I ever taught on it and I said
“No, I don’t. I purposefully avoid it because it’s too easy for people to get caught up in the end
times discussion and forget about how God wants them to live their life today.”

Some times we forget that the goal of our Bible reading should be to know God, to know our
own heart, to live life more fully and to learn how to love others. It’s not a contest to see who
can quote the most Bible verses.

10. Finally. You want to approach the Bible often.


Don’t let it collect dust. Two years ago I spoke on the importance of reading the Bible and Al
Curry (who attends here) decided that he knew a lot about a lot of things but he had never read
the Bible through from cover to cover. So he decided he was going to do just that. Now, two
years later, he is just finishing the last few pages of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. I
videotaped an interview with him about his experience but unfortunately the tape was defective
and now he’s in Florida for the winter! But he said that he was surprised how enjoyable his daily
reading was. He could hardly wait to see what was going to happen next in each story. He kept
notes of key themes and verses and he reduced it to three pages of notes to help him remember
the most important things that God showed him in his reading.

So let Al be your encouragement to do the same. Pick up your Bible and start reading. I’m sure
there are many of us who haven’t read it in ages. We got intimidated or bored or too busy.
Something caused us to stop reading. So let this message be the kick in the pants that you need
to pick it up again and start reading it with some new motivation.

Let’s pray: Father, I want to thank you for having people sit down and write out not only your
thoughts to us but also the stories of faith and failure from the beginning of time. Help us to see
how these stories are our stories – how they represent us in all of our glory and all of our shame.
And help us to see that just as you were with these people you are with us right now. The offer to
come and be changed is as relevant to us today as it was years ago. So I pray for all of us here
who are searching for you. Might we be drawn to your word and might you give it life as our
eyes read each sentence. Amen.

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Part 8: Taking the Step of Faith
By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved.

Over the last two months I’ve been talking about how to find faith with an emphasis on the how.
That is, I haven’t been talking about what to believe – things like the birth, death and
resurrection of Jesus. I’ve been talking about how to believe – how to overcome some of the
obstacles that keep us from finding faith.

Today, I want to help us learn how to connect with God. How do we actually take the step of
faith that brings us into a relationship with God? Let me start by showing you a video about a
young woman who took that step.

Jennifer Knapp video: Jennifer talks about how she walked away from God in her teens and experimented
with a variety of religions as well as lifestyles. She finally came back to her faith as a result of observing the life of
her Christian friends. She was tired of waking up not knowing where she was. [Jennifer is a rock musician. You
can find her albums in Christian bookstores.]

Jennifer said that she finally got on the party line with God. She was on the outside looking in
but then something clicked and she was on the inside too. Have you ever wondered how that
happens? Have you ever sensed that there is something more to faith that you are missing but
you just don’t know how to get there from here?

Finding Faith Begins by Being Curious

My guess is that there are a number of us in that boat and so I want to look at a story this
morning about a man in a similar situation. We’re going to find it in the book of John, chapter
3.12
1
After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, 2came
to speak with Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us.
Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you."

I want you to see here that finding faith starts when you are curious. Nicodemus was curious
about Jesus. I’d imagine that some of you are here for the same reason. You’re curious. You
wouldn’t necessarily call yourself a Christian or a follower of Jesus but you are definitely
interested in learning more about who Jesus is. So was Nicodemus.

But Nicodemus wasn’t an ordinary seeker. And in order to fully understand this story we need to
appreciate his background. First of all he was a Pharisee. Pharisees were very conservative Jews
– kind of like the “fundamentalists” of today. They knew the Bible backwards and forward and
they were careful to obey all the rules and laws found in the Bible. They even made up a number
of their own laws just to make sure they were obeying God’s laws!

12
The story of Nicodemus is often told but be careful not to assume that you know where I’m going. I think most
interpretations of this story are very simplistic – using it to tell people how to “get saved” – while Jesus is getting at
something much deeper than that.

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On top of that, John tells us that Nicodemus was a religious leader, meaning that he was a part
of the prestigious 70 member Jewish council known as the Sanhedrin. They were like our
Supreme Court only they ruled on matters dealing with both religious and civil law. And later
on Jesus refers to Nicodemus as a teacher, meaning that he may have been the spokesman for the
Sanhedrin.

In other words, Nicodemus was no simple fisherman. He was a very well educated, wealthy and
a highly respected spiritual man. He was a man of great status. If any man in Israel felt confident
of his relationship with God, and his position in God’s kingdom, it was Nicodemus. So we need
to understand here that Nicodemus wasn’t some insecure spiritual novice. He was a very
knowledgeable spiritual man coming to Jesus to talk to him about the finer points of his
theology.

But he came to see Jesus at night. Why? Well, it could be that he was embarrassed to let anyone
see him talking to Jesus. But my guess is there was no significance to his coming at night.
Nicodemus mentioned that he was speaking on behalf of others. He said “we all know that God
has sent you”. That tells me that he was sent as an emissary of a group of people.

Maybe after Jesus left the synagogue that day the rulers sat around and talked about Jesus. Some
of the rulers thought Jesus was of the devil (like it says elsewhere in the Bible) but Nicodemus
and his friends were convinced that Jesus was from God. But they needed some clarification.
So Nicodemus volunteered to find Jesus and question him in more detail. Maybe he said to his
friends, “Hey, I’m walking right by Jesus’ house on my way home. I’ll stop in and ask him a
few questions.”

Finding Faith Involves Being Confused

Now, Nicodemus started off by being curious – but he quickly became confused. Listen to the
bomb that Jesus dropped on him…
3
"I assure you (AMEN, AMEN), unless you are born again, you can never see the
Kingdom of God."…

Jesus starts off by saying “I assure you”. What he literally said was AMEN, AMEN. Amen
means “this is true”. A lot of probably don’t even know why we say “amen” at the end of a
prayer. We think it’s some kind of spiritual “period” that just belongs at the end of a prayer. But
when we say “amen” we are saying, “What I just prayed is true. Or, we are agreeing with what
someone else has prayed. Whenever Jesus put the “amen” before a sentence it was his way of
saying “What I’m about to say is a foundational truth so listen carefully.” So you could translate
this …
This is true, This is true, unless you are born again, you can never see the kingdom of God.

Now, this had to shock Nicodemus because like I said before, if there was anyone on the planet
who was confident about his place in God’s kingdom it was Nicodemus. How could there be
any question that he’d ever see God’s kingdom? What Jesus said made absolutely no sense.
What did it mean to be born again and what did that have to do with him seeing God’s kingdom?
If he wasn’t a child of God, then who was? Nicodemus was confused. But that’s not a bad thing.

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You see, I think we all have to enter a state of confusion before we truly find faith. If you aren’t
confused at some level you probably haven’t heard what Jesus said because what Jesus says runs
totally contrary to what civilized religion is all about. Civilized religion13 tells us that if we are a
nice person, believe in Jesus, go to church, keep the rules and worship God that we are “in” with
God. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what most of us believe?

But that’s not right. It might be good enough to get us into heaven but I hope that’s not our only
goal in becoming a Christian. If all we’ve got to show for our faith is a civilized religion then
we’ve really missed the point of what it means to follow Jesus. And we’ve missed out on what it
means to have a relationship with God. We’ve become merely believers – merely religious – and
not much different than any other religious person. The only difference is that we’ve got our
facts right and we’ve got our theology right but our lives have nothing to do with God’s Spirit.
We don’t see the kingdom of God and we haven’t entered it. We are content to live safe and
predictable lives.

Jesus is speaking to anyone who sees faith in strictly natural or human terms. He’s not talking
about a one time spiritual event that gets you into heaven – which is how this story is often
interpreted. He’s talking about a way of life- a life that is motivated by God’s Spirit and not just
our own practical thoughts. And if that confuses you then you are beginning to understand how
Nicodemus felt because he thought he had all of his spiritual bases covered until Jesus started
talking to him. That’s why Nicodemus said…
4
"What do you mean?" … "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be
born again?"

And Jesus followed by saying...


5
"The truth is (AMEN, AMEN), no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born
of water 14 and the Spirit. 6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit
gives new life from heaven. 7So don't be surprised at my statement that you must be born
again. 8Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is
going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."

Finding Faith Requires Being Born of the Spirit

What Jesus is saying here is –


Nicodemus, you think you have made it with God for all the wrong reasons. You think you are
acceptable to God because you are a good religious Jew. But your religion is man made and I
want to give you a faith that comes from the Spirit. You can’t simply believe in me and relate to

13
For a great discussion of “civilized religion” vs. the faith of a “barbarian”, see Erwin McManus’ book, The
Barbarian Way, available in our lobby on Sunday’s.
14
Jesus’ reference to being born of water and the spirit has confused many people over the years and been the
source of much debate in commentaries. Some people believe that Jesus’ reference to being born “of water” is in
reference to human birth. But the construct of the sentence links water and the Spirit together as one event. More
likely Jesus was referring to the rite of baptism. In the early church baptism was associated with the new birth.
Baptism wasn’t considered optional like it is today. Everyone was baptized, and the book of Acts reports on the
Spirit of God often falling on people during baptism. In Jesus’ own baptism the Spirit came upon him. So it would
be natural for Jesus to refer to the time of spiritual birth as at the moment of baptism. My sermon “Connecting with
God’s Story…through Baptism” might help you here. It’s available at our website… www.cedarbrookchurch.net .

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me on an intellectual level. There is a whole spiritual dimension that you are missing and so you
need to be born of the Spirit. Your life needs to be guided by the Spirit of God.

I think Jesus wants to tell us the same thing. We are very much like Nicodemus. We believe in
God. We believe in Jesus. We may even be very religious- maybe we’ve gone to church all our
lives. But the problem is that we are still in full control of our lives. Not God. That was
Nicodemus’ problem and that’s our problem.

Preachers have done a disservice to this story over the years by treating it as a story of an
unbeliever being told to “get saved” by being born again. But that is only a small part of what
Jesus is saying here. Jesus isn’t trying to get an unbeliever “saved”. He’s trying to get a
religious person to become spiritual – and that’s something we all need. I need this as much as
Nicodemus because I’m always tempted to treat life from a humanistic, pragmatic perspective –
just doing what I think is logical and practical without ever asking God for his input or direction.
Christians talk a lot more about the Spirit than they know how to live by the Spirit. That’s
because living by the Spirit requires humility and a willingness to give up our personal agendas.
That’s not easy and we like things that are easy!

Jesus is saying that if we want to enter the kingdom of God…if we want to truly be in a place
where God is moving in us and through us in new ways, then we need to quit controlling our
lives and let God’s Spirit start controlling us.

As I have been leading us down this road to finding faith, the last thing I want to do is lead us to
a nice little safe faith that makes us happy and gets us to come to church every week but is really
meaningless and powerless. I want to lead us to a faith that not only radically changes our lives
but impacts the people around us in a positive way - because that’s what it was meant to do. I
hope that’s what you want too!

How to be Born of the Spirit

So the natural question is…How can I be born of the Spirit? John talks about this in the first part
of his book.
12
Yet to all who received [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to
become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision
or a husband's will, but born of God.

John gives us two words here that tell us how to be born of God rather than our own efforts.
First, he says we need to receive Jesus. The word “receive” means to reach out and take hold of
something. For example, let’s say that I knew that you were always cold here on Sundays so I
give you a sweater. You take it, it’s in your possession, but you don’t put it on. You didn’t truly
“receive” it. Taking it didn’t do you any good. That’s the way some of us are with Jesus. We
might ask Jesus “into our heart” but we never let him impact our lives.

But now imagine that you took the sweater from me and put it on. You took hold of it and let it
take hold of you. Now you’ve received it and it’s made an impact on your life. That’s what John
is talking about here. When you receive Jesus you take hold of him and let him impact your life.

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The second word that John uses to talk about being born of God is the word “believe”. But the
word for believe here isn’t just intellectual belief. That’s why I put a different translation in your
bulletin – one that uses the word “Faith” because faith is a stronger word than “believe”.
11
[Jesus] came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him. 12Yet some
people accepted him and put their faith in him. John 1

For example, as I’ve said before, two people might both believe in airplanes but one person
refuses to fly while the other one is willing to get on the plane and fly across the country. The
first person believes in airplanes. The second person not only believes but is willing to trust their
life to an airplane. They have faith in airplanes.

When you put your faith in Jesus you are doing more than believe. You trust him with your life,
trusting him to lead you, to empower you to do the right thing, trusting him to help you to love
and forgive and to serve others. When you take this step of faith, I think that’s when you are
born of the Spirit. The Spirit comes in to help you live this life of faith because He knows that
you can’t live the life of faith without His help.

Now, this idea of being led by God’s Spirit is really at the heart of what Jesus is saying to
Nicodemus and it’s at the heart of this whole series about finding faith. Finding faith isn’t
simply about coming to believe in Jesus. It’s not about becoming a regular church attender. It’s
much more than that! Finding Faith is about learning to trust God’s Spirit with your daily life.
That’s what the Bible means when it says that God’s people will live by faith.

In the book of Hebrews it gives us a picture of what faith looks like when it’s lived out. In
chapter 11 it talks about faith heroes like Abraham and Moses and then it closes the chapter by
saying…
32
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson,
Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms,
administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
34
quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness
was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
35
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused
to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.

36
Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They
were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went
about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was
not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in
the ground. 39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what
had been promised.

These people didn’t just believe in God. Their belief moved them to take risks for God. You see,
belief is intellectual but faith puts your life on the line. Don’t ever think that the life of faith is
about going to church and being nice and feeling warm and fuzzy about Jesus. A life of faith is
like jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. You don’t know what to expect but you trust that
God is going to take care of you even if your chute doesn’t open.

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When I moved to Wisconsin I took a jump like that. My family, along with two others, came
here to live in community with each other. We sold our homes and moved here having no idea
what we were getting ourselves into. A number of people told us we were crazy. We probably
were. But we had to do it because we felt it was something God was calling us to do.

There were many times that we felt like our chute wasn’t going to open; we had financial
problems and relational problems that almost did us in, but the chute did open. God showed up
(actually, he was there all the time!). When was the last time you ventured out and took a risk
like that? When was the last time that you put yourself in a place that if God didn’t come
through you were “toast”.

I was just talking to someone yesterday who said they were afraid of taking a risk. I said, “Yeah,
but that’s what this life of faith is all about. When we started Cedarbrook it was a total risk. I
personally was on the line; my career, my finances, my credibility. If God didn’t “show up” I
was toast but as you can see, he did!”

If we are living lives of faith we should all have fresh stories of how God has showed up for us
too.

When Jesus talked about being born of the Spirit he was talking about risking your life in
response to God’s call. Risking the security of your career. Risking your reputation as a level-
headed person. Risking letting go of all of your religious structure and habits and traditions and
being convinced that the only thing that truly brings you close to God is the presence of his
spirit.

When God’s Spirit is leading you, you risk what your parents and friends might say about your
new faith. You risk God telling you to give some of your money away rather than keeping every
penny for yourself. And you run the risk of including people whom you’d normally exclude…
people of another color or another political party or sexual persuasion or lifestyle.

That’s what it means to be born of the Spirit. No one in their right mind gets out of bed in the
morning and chooses to risk like that. The only thing that would make you be so foolish is a
profound sense that God’s Spirit is moving you to do a new thing.

You see, believing in Jesus is rational. Normal, civilized people do that. But being led by the
Spirit is irrational. It’s crazy. It goes against every logical bone in your body. I can tell you to
follow Jesus but you have to sense God’s call to actually do it. There has to be something inside
of you that stirs your heart so that no matter what the consequence, no matter what the
ramifications are in your life, it doesn’t matter. You are deaf to every objection that you hear
because you know that you have to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. He is the Way, the
Truth and the Life and nothing’s going to stop you following him.

So, if you want to be born of the Spirit, you need to receive Jesus -that is, put your faith in him.
But the second thing you can do to be born of the Spirit is to simply ask.

11 "You fathers – if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or
if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 If you sinful people

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know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." Luke 11

There’s nothing you can do to earn God’s Spirit. He’s happy to give it to you because he knows
that that’s your only hope at following him.

Now, we don’t know how the story ends with Nicodemus.15 Chapter three ends with Jesus
talking. My guess is that he left and had to think about what he heard and that’s what I want to
let you do this week. Next week I’m going to wrap up this series and I’m hoping that many of
you are going to make this step of faith (if you haven’t already).

In the past I’ve given away these oak stakes to people that were serious about following Jesus
and so next week I’m going to give them to people and pray for them. But I’m telling you now
because I want you to think about it. If you are at that place in your faith journey where you
think God is asking you to take this step, then I want to pray for you and give you a stake to
mark the moment.

Now, if you want to ask God for this new birth today, I wrote out a prayer for you to pray.
People often tell me that it helps to have a model prayer to help them talk to God. You can pray
it right now or pray it whenever you feel like you want to take the step of faith.

Jesus, I want to move from simply believing in you to trusting you with my life. I want to
give up the control and let you direct my life from now on. I want to do everything you
taught. I want to become like you, driven by the Spirit of God, not my own selfish desires.
I want to quit living the safe, predictable religious life where I’m in control and I want to
start taking risks every day to live a life that is pleasing to you and a life that shows other
people what it means to follow Jesus.

But I’ll never do this on my own power. I need your spirit to fill me, to teach me, to heal
my hurts, to direct me and empower me to do your will. So come Spirit of God. Come
into my life. Fill every part of my heart and soul. Change me. Transform me. Make me
the person that I was meant to be and remove anything that is currently keeping you from
doing this. Amen.

15
John gives us a glimpse at the end of his book into the “rest of the story” of Nicodemus. He says this about what
happened after Jesus was crucified…
38
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly
because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. 39He was accompanied by
Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about
seventy-five pounds. 40Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in
accordance with Jewish burial customs. John 19

We can’t be sure, but my guess is that Nicodemus became a disciple of Jesus, although possibly a “secret” one like
Joseph.

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Part 9: Living the Life of Faith
By Remy Diederich
Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

Skit: The Hike (see below for script)

This morning, as I close out my series on How to Find Faith in a World of Doubt, I want to paint
a very clear picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus. I think there’s a fair amount of
confusion about that, here at Cedarbrook, as well as in the church at large. So, as I conclude this
series I want to make sure we know exactly what the life of faith looks like.

This skit showed us two ways that people often live out their faith. There is the person who is
content to risk nothing and wants to simply enjoy all of the benefits of God without any sacrifice.
And there is the person who understands that the life of faith is characterized by risk and
sacrifice. They know that the path they’ve chosen isn’t easy but it’s the only path that makes
sense to them because it’s the only path that honors God.

Jesus talked about the sacrifice involved in following him when he said…
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder
your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24

Jesus’ call to follow really demands something from us. We often talk about how Jesus accepts
anyone – which is true. He allows anyone to follow him, no matter who they are or what
they’ve done.
But it is still a call to follow and not just a call to believe.
It’s a call to be transformed and not just forgiven.
And it’s a call to purpose and not just acceptance.

You see, Jesus didn’t come into the world just to make us happy. And he didn’t come to simply
get us into heaven when we die. Jesus came to restore us to God and restore our true humanity –
returning us to the people we were meant to be from the beginning.

What I want you to see this morning is that there’s a lot more to a life of faith than going to
church on Sunday and going to heaven when you die. How did Christianity ever get reduced to
something so self-centered and boring? A true life of faith keeps you on the edge of your seat
because you know that at any moment God might use you to accomplish his purpose.

Last week I said that a life of faith is a life that is born of the Spirit – a life
where we give up control and let God’s Spirit lead us. So, today I’m going
to use the analogy of our being a ship out on the ocean and God’s Spirit
being the wind that moves us. With no sails, we are just adrift. But there
are certain sails that are sure to catch God’s wind and I want to mention five
of them this morning. The first sail relates to knowing God because…

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God’s Spirit will move you to…Know God

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

That’s what God wants – for us to seek him with all of our heart. The bad news is, we don’t
have it in us to do that. We always get distracted. We have the best intentions on Sunday but by
Monday we are back to doing things our way. But the good news is that God’s Spirit will keep
us on track. The Spirit will help us to seek God will all of our heart and he does that by drawing
us to Jesus.

And how do we get to know Jesus? The same way his disciples did…by following him.
You might say, “Yeah, but Remy, that was 2000 years ago. We can’t follow Jesus like that
today.” But we really can. Think about what it meant to follow Jesus. They listened to his
teaching. And we can read his teaching in the Bible. They talked to him and we can talk to him
in prayer. They sought to obey everything that he told them to do. And we can work at obeying
him as well.

Now, there are two things I want to underscore here. First, the value of the Bible. It’s incredible
to me that we have the teachings of Jesus. We don’t just have historical books that tell us that
Jesus existed. We have his actual teachings preserved so we can learn from him just like his
disciples did. So take advantage of that and make a habit of reading the Bible.

Second, work at obeying whatever Jesus told us to do. Jesus’ final words to his disciples have
always impressed me…
Go and make disciples [that is students or followers] of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them – what, to believe? No - to obey
everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19,20

Now that’s a very rabbi-ish thing to say. You see, Jesus was a rabbi and the goal of every rabbi
was to have their students – not just know what they know – but do what they do. That’s the
ultimate success for any teacher. The student shows that they know their teacher when they can
do what the teacher does. For example, Jesus didn’t want his disciples to merely understand the
principles of forgiveness. He wanted them to actually forgive those that wronged them seventy
times seven. The student that obeys their teacher is the one that best knows their teacher. So,
always push yourself to do what Jesus told us to do if you want to truly know God.

Okay, the first sail is to Know God. The second sail is to experience life-change because…

God’s Spirit will move you to …Experience Life Change

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by
changing the way you think. Romans 12:2

As I said in the beginning, Jesus didn’t come just to forgive you but to transform you. As I listen
to sermons about grace or read books about grace, I typically hear about how much God loves us
and accepts us but the missing piece to their message is that God wants to change us too. It’s
great to know that God is quick to forgive my failure but it’s even better to know that I’m not
stuck in failure. It’s great to know that God will accept me in my brokenness, but it’s even better
to know that God wants to heal me of my brokenness.

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So you need to know that if you are a serious follower of Jesus that God’s Spirit is going to be
working very hard at transforming you into a new person. Be careful not to cross your arms and
dig in your heels at the thought of changing. Whatever hurts, habits or hang-ups that you’ve got,
the Spirit is just waiting for you to give him permission to give you a personal makeover. So
don’t convince yourself that you are stuck with that addiction or you are stuck with that bad
attitude. God can change anything about you but you have to let him. You have to give up your
control.

The next sail has to do with relationships

God’s Spirit will move you to …Develop Relationships

And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are God's holy
priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

I really like the visual nature of this verse. God is like a mason taking each one of us and
cementing us together. We are his new temple. You see, in the Old Testament, the temple was
the center of worship. Everyone came to the temple and the priests were the mediators – the
ones that helped people connect with God through worship.

Peter is telling us that God’s temple today isn’t a building. God’s temple today is his people
living and working together in community. It was important for the birth of the faith for
everyone to go to Jerusalem. But now in these latter days, instead of bringing the world to
Jerusalem God wants to bring Jerusalem to the world. And how does he do that? Through us.
His people. God created a very flexible and mobile temple. And as glorious as Solomon’s
temple was, the new temple is even more incredible if we will let God do his work. So when
someone encounters you alone, they can hear about God. But when they encounter a community,
where there are many people expressing the love of God in a variety of ways, they are amazed.
It’s overwhelming.

You see, God wants to make us into a family. If someone walks in here on Sunday right now,
they are walking into a room of mostly strangers. We don’t know each other that well because
we are a new church. The nature of the crowd isn’t much different now than it will be in few
hours when they start showing movies here. But imagine if we allow God to fit us and stick us
together? Then when someone walks in here they are walking into a family. It’s an admittedly
dysfunctional family! We’ve got lots of problems. But that’s part of the beauty. The newcomer
sees that, in spite of our weaknesses, we don’t reject or exclude each other but we love and care
for each other. Instead of accusing each other of wrong we seek to help each other overcome our
problems. I think that kind of family is very attractive. That kind of family shows the world
who God is. That’s the purpose of a temple.

And instead of just a few old men being the priests, now, men and women, children and adults
are being used by God to point people to God. Isn’t that something? What a privilege to know
that on any given day God might use anyone of us to touch another life.

So expect God’s Spirit to connect you to other people in his church. Getting you connected to
others is an integral part of God’s plan. Don’t play the “me and Jesus” game. That has more to

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do with your old selfish ways than the new you. Remember that the disciples traveled as a
group. Jesus didn’t meet with them each individually. The life of faith is communal.

The fourth sail that we want to hoist is that of serving.

God’s Spirit will move you to …Serve Others

For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom
for many. Matthew 20:28

I think the whole area of service is one of the biggest untapped areas in the church today. God’s
plan is for everyone to serve generously but we are often blind to the opportunities right in front
of us. And as a result we are the loser because it’s always more of a blessing to give than
receive.

There are three ways you can expect the Spirit to move you into service. The first way is what I
call simply “showing up”. Showing up is when you respond to a need whether you have any
skills or not. You might help out at the food pantry or setting out food here on Sundays or you
might help your neighbor with their yard work. I want to take a group of people down to New
Orleans in March and I’m looking for people like this who are just willing to show up and
help people clean up their mess.

The second kind of service is skilled service. Skilled service is based on how God has gifted you
to be a blessing to others. That’s one thing that’s really a passion of mine around Cedarbrook.
I’m always trying to find out how people are gifted and match them to a need some place in the
church. That way people are excited to serve instead of feeling obligated. I mean, it’s a lot
easier to get Todd Sinz to play drums for six hours a week than it is to get him to change diapers
for half an hour because he loves playing drums! For him, it’s not work. It’s a joy. And that’s
the way it should be.

But if you have a talent that you don’t see a need for, tell me anyway because God might use you
to open up a whole new area of ministry. Just because we aren’t doing something now, doesn’t
mean we won’t be in a month. For example, we’ve often talked in our creative team meetings
about including dance in our holiday programs but we don’t have any expertise in that
department right now. Maybe some day we will.

We’ve got a lot of talent here at Cedarbrook. Cedarbrook wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for
talented people volunteering their time. Someone asked me the other day what stresses me most
about pastoring Cedarbrook. I told them that I’m not really that stressed because there are so
many talented people volunteering to take care of so many things.

Recently two people have stepped up to help out in children’s ministry – which has taken a load
off of my wife, Lisa, who directs the ministry: Samantha Amdahl and Brenda Abel. Neither of
them likes to be up front leaders but they love helping out behind the scenes. So Lisa asked them
to add some pages to our website to help people learn about our children’s ministry. They’ve
done an incredible job. Go home and check it out. Their willingness to use their gifts at writing
and organization have given the children’s ministry a big boost.

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The third kind of service is financial. God wants us to not only be generous with our time and
our talent but with our money. Now, I a lot of people won’t tell you what I’m about to tell you
because they are afraid that you’ll be scared away from the faith. But I think you need to “read
the fine print” of what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t want there to be any surprises. If you are
a serious follower of Jesus you’re going to sense the Spirit moving you to give your money away
instead of keeping it all or spending it on just yourself.

You might wonder how much this is going to cost you and the Bible has an answer…about 10%
or more of your income. 10%, or what is called the “tithe”, is considered what we owe God16.
That’s God’s way of making sure that the poor and ministries are taken care of. In fact, anything
less than 10% is considered robbing God and a person isn’t considered generous until they give
more than 10%.

Now, if the thought of giving away 10% of your money makes you gasp, that’s not God’s Spirit
gasping because he loves to be generous. In fact, he will continually bring you opportunities to
give unless you harden your heart. So be careful when you find yourself saying “no” or
cutting back on the amount you give because you are probably going against what the Spirit is
trying to do through you. Whenever I find myself holding back I tell myself that I can rarely go
wrong by giving too much but I can often go wrong but not giving enough.

So, if you’ve committed yourself to a life of faith you can count on the Spirit moving you to be
generous by serving and giving.

The final sail that we should hoist is that of including others.

God’s Spirit will move you to …Include Others

For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

In the very beginning there was only the Trinity of God; the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
They were in fellowship with each other and there was love pouring out all over the place. I
imagine it as a lightning storm of love. It was out an overflow of love that God decided to create
Adam and Eve. And as soon as he created them he told them to create others. God wanted the
love to keep flowing.

Then when God called Abraham he promised Abraham that he would bless Abraham so that

16
7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my laws and failed to obey them. Now
return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty."But you ask, 'How can we return when we
have never gone away?' 8 "Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!"But you ask, 'What do
you mean? When did we ever cheat you?'"You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.
9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the
storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD Almighty, "I will open
the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it
in! Try it! Let me prove it to you! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and
disease. F6 Your grapes will not shrivel before they are ripe," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all
nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the LORD Almighty. Malachi 3

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Abraham could be a blessing to every nation. And when God’s people traveled through the
wilderness and into the Promised Land, God told them that he wanted them to include all of the
foreigners and aliens that they came across.

You see the heart of God is to include people. I don’t know how the church ever got known for
excluding people…telling people that they don’t belong. But Jesus died so God could include
us. And that’s what God wants to do through every follower of Jesus. God always wants to
widen the circle. He’s always got room for one more. He’s always willing to wait a little longer
to get one more person on board. And he wants to use you to extend the invitation.

---

These are the five sails that God’s Spirit wants to fill. If you are serious about following Jesus,
then you are going to want to make sure that you’ve put these sails up because that’s what’s
going to keep you moving in the right direction. If you seeking to know God, experience life-
change, develop relationships, serve and include others, then I guarantee you that you will be full
of God’s Spirit and headed in the right direction in life. Not only that, you will find a sense of
purpose and joy that you’ve never had before. But if you keep these sails tied up then you might
get blown off course and even end up stranded some place.

Now, last week I compared taking the step of faith to jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet
with a parachute. To commit to living this kind of radical life is a risk but God’s Spirit is your
parachute. He will show up at just the right time to make sure that you have the power and the
wisdom to do these things and to make sure that you land well.

As I close out this series, I want you to consider taking this jump – to move beyond just
believing in Jesus to giving up control and risking your life to him. To help you I want to show
you a clip from a woman who actually jumped out of a plane. She was on her church Creative
Team – the team that made creative videos to support the pastor’s sermon. Someone got the
bright idea that showing someone jumping out a plane would make a good visual aid for the
sermon. And this woman drew the short straw. You can’t tell by the video, but she is terrified.
So let’s watch.

Video: The Jump

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

I see the analogy here that when you jump out of the plane, you are dying with Christ. You give
up control and rest fully on the parachute, which is God’s Spirit. You see, the call to follow
Jesus is a call to die. As we consider how he died for us during communion I’d like us to
consider how we might die to our own selfishness and live a life that’s motivated by his Spirit.

Prayer: Father, I pray for everyone here to see clearly what the call to follow is all about. Help
us not reduce Jesus’ call to something that is self-serving. Jesus poured himself out for us. Like
good students, might we follow our rabbi’s example and pour our lives out for you and others.
Amen

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Following Jesus

If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. Matthew 10:38

Then Jesus said to the disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition,
shoulder your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24

Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matthew 19:21

Jesus felt genuine love for this man as he looked at him. "You lack only one thing," he told him. "Go and sell all you
have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Mark 10:21

Then Peter began to mention all that he and the other disciples had left behind. "We've given up everything to follow
you," he said. Mark 10:28

Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness,
because you will have the light that leads to life." John 8:12

Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness,
because you will have the light that leads to life." John 10:27

All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if
they follow me, the Father will honor them. John 12:26

I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. John 13:15

Jesus said this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus told him, "Follow me."
John 21:19

The Hike:

John: (comes walking up) Hey Ray. Let’s get a move on.
John: Ray? Hey Ray! (kicks him).
Ray: What?
John: I said, let’s get going. I think we can make the timberline before nightfall.
Ray: I don’t think so.
John: Why not?
Ray: Cause I’m not going.
John: What do you mean? We have to finish the hike.
Ray: YOU finish the hike. I’m done.
John: You’re done?
Ray: Yeah. Done. Finished. Over. Hello???
John: You can’t be done. We’ve only just made it to the base.
Ray: Look John, I have everything I need right here. I don’t need to go any further. Besides, have
you seen that trail?
John: Yeah. So?
Ray: So? Man, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a trail so narrow. Not to mention how steep and rocky
it is.
John: Hey, c’mon Ray. This was part of the deal remember. When we started this journey we
said that we’d finish it no matter what.

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Ray: No, you c’mon. Look around you John. This place is great. (reaches into his backpack)
Here.
John: What’s this?
Ray: It’s a list of PROS why we should stay here.
John: These are you’re PROS? Okay, let’s go through them.
Ray: Fine, go ahead.
John: Fresh Air?
Ray: Yeah, beautiful skies, don’t you think?
John: Food and water?
Ray: Got me a well over there and a couple acres of fruit trees over there.
John: Good fellowship?
Ray: Yeah, have you seen that girl that lives just down the road?
John: Okay Ray, right now it might seem that all this is fine. It might actually look better than
fine. But what are you gonna do when it starts to storm? Where you gonna go? And what
happens when your well goes dry or when the winter comes and there’s no fruit on the trees? Or
when you take your shoes off and that girl get’s a whiff of the real you?
Ray: Hey!
John: You think the air is fresh here? Just wait until you get above the clouds. You think this
water tastes good? Try drinking out of clear, mountain streams. You lookin for fellowship? Well,
you haven’t had fellowship until you’ve been up on the mountain.
John: So, you comin?
Ray: (nothing)
John: You wanna stay here? Fine. I’m finishing the hike. Looks like a list of Cons to me, Ray.
(drops it in Rays’ lap)
Ray: (Looks at the list and at John as LIGHTS FADE...)

© 2004 Dave Marsh. All the dramas on this site are copyrighted. All rights reserved.

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