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Old 02-01-2011, 03:46 PM
 
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I meet with my therapist about once a week. This week the subject of God/church came up and I was surprised by my reaction...lots of painful tears. We discussed my past with this topic and I haven't been to church in 24 years. I really don't know why I reacted that way or what was so painful about my past with this.

I was curious as to how many people attend church or pray to God. And if you do go to church..why? What pulls you in and what do you get from it?

Thanks! As part of my therapy this may be helpful in guiding me the direction I want to go...if I can actually figure that out!

Thanks!


 

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Old 02-01-2011, 04:11 PM
 
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I attend church regularly. I also pray to God.

About 5 years ago, DH and I were VERY ACTIVE in church (Sunday School assistants, youth group workers, etc). Then, we started having trouble conceiving and were deeply hurt by the lack of concern of those we attended church with. We felt like the church was only interested in recruitment and not supporting the current members. We ended up stopping suddenly and not one person ever called us. I didn't lose faith in God, just "christians."

About three years passed, and our DS was born. A miracle in itself, but he did have health complications. A dear friend asked us if her pastor could come pray for DS. We accepted. When the pastor came to our house, we were overcome with the care and compassion he showed us. We started attending that church and I believe (unfortunately) there are very few churches as fabulous as ours. I love that it isn't fake. (I know there will always be show-offs and such). People are accepted regardless of their mistakes and sins. If there is a clique, I have never seen it. We are slowly working our way back into church with happy, open hearts.

I guess, to answer your question, I attend church because I believe being exposed to God's word is what is needed to strengthen my relationship with Him. Yes, reading the Bible and doing personal studies work, but I believe fellowshipping and praising God together offer support in a world that is turning away from Godly principles.

My life will never be the same thanks to my Lord and Savior. He is the true source of comfort, peace, and love.

BTW--my Father doesn't care how long you have been away, you are always within his arms reach.
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:12 PM
 
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I also have never felt a connection to god. I've been a doubter for as long as I can remember. I actually remember thinking at confession (I went to a Roman Catholic church) "Why do I have to tell this man my sins? He doesn't know me and doesn't god already know and why the middleman?!" I've never felt comfortable in church and always hated going to "church school" on Wedensdays. I would "forget" to do my homework on Wednesdays so I would have an excuse not to go. Eventually, my parents stopped bringing my brother and I.

Try as I might I can not wrap my brain around how someone actually can believe in god. I've always thought growing up that religion was for closed minded people who couldn't think for themselves. I mean how can you walk around thinking that God exists? It seems god doesn't show any mercy on the people who love him (diseases, cancer, and the like)

In some ways I've actually wanted to believe in god but just "can't." I'm interested to see what other people think.
 
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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I go to church to feel connected to my community and my God. I feel his presence constantly and truly believe that he accepts me just as I am, I can express myself freely in uncensored prayer, my God is there for me in moments of joy, anger, disappointment, love and fear. He is big enough for all my problems. I walked away from my faith (I am a Catholic) in my twenties but I believe that it is completely healthy. I came back to church in my late twenties and have been attending regularly ever since. I go to mass every week, pray every day and have experienced a real closeness to God at all times, but especially feel Him during the hardest moments of my life.
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:25 PM
 
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went to church up until the age of 15. I was uncomfortable at church and really didn't understand a whole lot. What I got from it was guilt and being uncomforable. I stopped going at 15 and do remember praying after that for some time, but then God just faded off. I struggle with whether or not God is "real". My scientific mind can't grasp it. I understand where you are coming from 543210. I want to believe in God, but just can't seem to. My therapist is not pushing religion, but he believes that God wants a relationship with each of us, but wants us to have some faith in the process and seek him. He says that God's door is there waiting, we just have to knock. Still wondering how all that could work and I'm sure it will continue to be a topic of conversation for us.

BTW...I love my therapist, he has literally been a lifesaver. He pulls things out of me that I didn't even know were there. I highly recommend everyone have a therapist. The world woudl be a better place.


 
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:48 PM
 
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From your last post I think that your therapist certainly is pushing God and religion. That conversation would never, ever come up in a nonreligious therapy session. The therapist would explore with you your desire for religion or you thoughts about it, but would never ever express his belief "God want you to seek him."
I am not saying that doing this is right or wrong, just affirming to others who may want counseling that it isn't what happens unless you seek religious based therapy sessions, like a pastor in a church.
I am so glad that it is helping you and yes everyone could benefit from it.
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:49 PM
 
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I've gone to church every Sunday for my whole life. I rarely miss... only if I'm really sick or there's a blizzard... maybe 5-6 times ever. I often go during the week. It's the best part of my week. It's hard to explain why... for me it's like breathing. It's not a social event for me, rather solitary sometimes actually. By the way, I am a Catholic.
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An absolute believer!
Old 02-01-2011, 05:09 PM
 
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I am a Christian and I attend church regularly. I was raised going to church, although I stopped going at 16. As I told my parents, I was sick of going to Sunday School with the hypocrites in that class. They would say one thing, yet do the opposite of what they said. (drinking, smoking, drugs, etc).

When I was 29 (I'm now 40) I read The Left Behind Series. This series is a fictional account of what could happen when the book of Revelation begins. It frightened the hell out of me! So much so, I went back to church and renewed my relationship with God.

I go to church, because spending time with Him and other believers makes me feel good. I am happier when I am closer to Him. There have been times in the past 11 years where I was trying to find a different church and I missed months of church at a time. I could tell that, overall, I was not the happiest and felt something was missing in my life. When I'm actively involved in church and bible study and discussions about Him, I am so much happier, fulfilled, and at peace.

I love having Him in my life, because no matter what happens, my faith in Him keeps me strong. I do have moments of weakness, though. I'm certainly not perfect. I was so angry with Him when my father died, I stopped going to church for 9 months. I was miserable, and it wasn't until I reconnected with Him, that life was better. He truly is my rock.

I so wish I could explain to you why my faith is so strong. I understand your doubts. I've had them. My "scientific" mind has difficulty comprehending events of the past, yet I know that we are not supposed to understand His ways. It's not for us TO know. That's where faith comes in.

What do I get from this? Peace in my heart. Faith in the knowledge that when I die, I WILL see my father again. Strength to carry me through tough times in my life. Joy that I can see the good things that others do (despite the evil in the world). Unconditional love from Him no matter what stupid mistakes I make (and believe me, I make a LOT!)

A friend of mine just suggested a book to me that may work for you. I have some friends who are complete non-believers, and when they ask me questions, I have a hard time giving them the "hard proof" of Jesus that they ask me for. My friend suggested this to me, because he said it will help me explain God to my non-believing friends. The book is titled The Case for Christ. It's the true story of a Chicago Tribune journalist, an avowed athiest, who set out to prove that Jesus is false, when in actuality, he proved that Jesus is real. What he discovered made a believer out of him. He wrote this book to help others see the truth behind God and His word. My friend suggested this to me, because he said it will help me explain God to my non-believing friends.

I just started it, so I can't tell you much. I can tell you that I have finished a couple of chapters and I am very much interested in it. Here's the amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Christ-Jo...6608597&sr=8-1

I hope in some way this helped you. I urge you to find Him! Having Him as a part of your life makes things so much better!

Good luck with this!!
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:13 PM
 
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My family and I attend regularly and are very active in different aspects of the church. I believe with all my heart in God. I have been truly blessed! We pray often. Are there people at church that are hard to love?? YES, but they are also at work, school, the local Walmart.

What is interesting (PLEASE do not make more of this - not intended to offend at all!! I was a mental health therapist for 5 yrs!) those of you who do not attend church (only speaking of above posts) all seem to have therapist. It seems you are searching for something more? During difficult times I turn to God -

Best of luck to you. I wish you the very best.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:28 PM
 
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"What is interesting (PLEASE do not make more of this - not intended to offend at all!! I was a mental health therapist for 5 yrs!) those of you who do not attend church (only speaking of above posts) all seem to have therapist. It seems you are searching for something more? During difficult times I turn to God -"

Teachermrse, I know you are not trying to be offensive, but that statement certainly seems to be implying that people who are not religious need counseling, because they have no relationship with God. I know plenty of religious people who see counselors.

I am not religious. I went to Catholic school growing up and when I got to the "History of the Bible" class, I decided I was done with it. I got a little ticked that the church leaders who put the Bible together tossed out anything written by a woman. That and a few other beliefs - anti-birth control, anti-gay marriage - made the decision an easy one to stick with.

Not to say that I don't miss the IDEA of god. Because I do. I think it would be enormously comforting to know there's someone who is taking care of everything in the world and that people who are kind and decent are eventually rewarded. What an appealing idea, in an unjust, unfair world.

To the OP, maybe that's why it's painful? If you don't believe, you have to accept the idea that sometimes life is unfair and it sucks. If you believe, you can say, well, God has a plan and it will all work out.

I guess the question is, which viewpoint can you live with and feel content?


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Old 02-01-2011, 05:28 PM
 
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I was not raised in church, but I always found religion interesting. I actually find all religions interesting, not just the one I practice. I would attend church with friends sometimes, and they'd invite me to church youth events.

When I was in my mid 20's, I decided that church might be for me. I started attending one of the churches I'd attended with a friend. I always felt comfortable there, so I went. I attended services for several months before I joined the church and was Baptized. I attend church regularly, and I'm involved in some of the activities. I like learning about religion, and I like the overall "feel" of the church.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:44 PM
 
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I believe in God, but I could never worship him.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:58 PM
 
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Growing up, church was always a place where I felt safe and a sense of belonging. I had a very disfunctional, chaotic childhood and found comfort in the teachings of the Bible. Even though my parents were the ultimate hypocrites and would give religion lip service at church and then do the exact opposite at home, I always sensed that so many of their problems (and consequently mine) would have been solved or diminished if they would have just followed the principles in which they claimed to believe.

I gave my heart to Christ when I was nine and I know many people think I was too young to know what I was really doing. My faith was definitely a simple, childlike faith then and has grown more sophisticated over the years; I but I believe that the simple act of stepping forward in church that day, after receiving absolutely no prodding from anyone whatsoever, except for the pull of my own heart, resulted in my salvation.

There have been several dark times in my life since then when I have felt like I was at a crossroads, weighing whether or not to continue believing or to cast it all aside. But when I look at my life as a whole, and see everything that I have endured and survived with, I believe, the help of God, I can't help but believe in Him. I have absolutely no proof that He is real other than the work I have felt Him do in my life and inside me. I am absolutely sure that without His daily guidance, I would not be where I am today. When people meet my family or hear the story of my childhood, they are always amazed at how I turned out so "normal." I always say that I feel far from normal, but it is God who helped pull me out of all it and live a healthy, successful life. My own brother, raised in the same environment as I, became a drug addict and now sits in jail waiting to be tried for armed robbery. Statistically, that is what my life should look like.

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Try as I might I can not wrap my brain around how someone actually can believe in god. I've always thought growing up that religion was for closed minded people who couldn't think for themselves. I mean how can you walk around thinking that God exists? It seems god doesn't show any mercy on the people who love him (diseases, cancer, and the like)
I've never understood why people think faith in God is closed-minded. Faith is based on opening your mind to explore the possibility that something can exist without tangible proof. True faith does not come from taking another person's word at face value without questioning it. In fact, the Bible teaches us to question everything and to search for the truth, to use discernment when listening to the teachings of men to determine what is truly from God and what is false teaching. True faith comes from delving into the tough issues like diseases and cancer, and searching for understanding through research (Bible study), soul searching, meditation, and prayer. True faith does not come easy. I don't claim to have or understand all the answers, but part of faith is accepting that God, in His wisdom and perfect goodness, does have all the answers and He simply has chosen not to share them all (at least not yet). I would be lying if I said that was always an easy pill to swallow.

For me, true faith is not about going to church or following rituals. It is embracing a philosophy and a living a life consistant with that philosophy. It is about completely trusting someone who is invisible yet who is as real to me as is air. It gives me peace, a moral compass, and a purpose for living.

The Bible says faith is a gift. Whenever I have felt moments of doubt, my prayer is always "God, give me faith" and He delivers. My advice to the OP is that, if you truly want to explore faith, just ask God for it with an open mind and a willing heart and see what happens next.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:00 PM
 
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Yes, I am a Christian, and I believe in God- and in Jesus, as the Truth, and Way, and the Light.

I am so sorry this topic caused you to cry. I am sorry that we all fall short, and cannot support each other in the way we should (we all are flawed- sinners- in the church).

I will pray for you as you ponder, and struggle, with your faith journey. Just remember- God created you for great things- and LOVES you.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:18 PM
 
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve had some form of commitment to God. It was until my teen years that I actually became a Christian. I still believe in God, but I have often had struggles as to why I believed. For a long time, I didn’t have any answers to that burning question. In time, answers came to me.
First:
Some of the questions were answered by asking myself other questions. For instance, I once read this question What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junk yard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for takeoff?" Pretty slim, right? In theory, the same thing had to happen in nature for everything to exist, live, and thrive the way is has and does.

Second:

For me, this has always seemed logical. For others, maybe not so much, but try to go with me on this. C.S. Lewis pointed out that, people everywhere in the world believe in some idea of right and wrong….this moral law cannot simply be about what a group of people decides is right for them.

In other words, for us to determine good, we have to compare it to A) an ultimate good or B) an ultimate bad.

Third:
For me, this is the end all reason to prove that God exists. I have seen the healing hands of God. I have seen him perform miracles in my life and the lives of those around me.
For that, I will praise God. I will praise Him in the good times, and I will praise Him in the storms.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:23 PM
 
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My therapist is not pushing religion, but he believes that God wants a relationship with each of us, but wants us to have some faith in the process and seek him. He says that God's door is there waiting, we just have to knock. Still wondering how all that could work and I'm sure it will continue to be a topic of conversation for us.
This strikes me as odd. I think that this is pushing religion. That's just my opinion. I would think that a therapist should keep his/her religious beliefs out of therapy and only listen to yours.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:28 PM
 
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The book is titled The Case for Christ. It's the true story of a Chicago Tribune journalist, an avowed athiest, who set out to prove that Jesus is false, when in actuality, he proved that Jesus is real. What he discovered made a believer out of him.
I also recommend this book. I hope you consider reading it.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:37 PM
 
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God is central to my life, and I regret that I can't pass my faith on to everyone I care about. My faith gives me peace and strength that I would like for everyone to have. I pray every day, and I am a member of a church I began attending when my kids were small. It is very similar to the church I attended as a child.

The most perplexing comment on here is the "I believe in God, but I could never worship him." If you know God, how could you NOT worship him? He is NOT responsible for the injustices and pain in our lives ("thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven" means that his will is NOT done on Earth). The key to faith, in my opinion, is that you accept that someone else (God) knows what is best for you better than you do. You want his will above your own, b/c you know that his way is your ultimate potential. The failure to accept this is rooted in pride, and pride IS a sin. I don't judge other people's sins, not my business, but I watch for pride in my own actions. I know this is not the view of "church people" that many people have, but some of the best people I know are those I met in church.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:31 PM
 
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I find religion in general fascinating. It is amazing that there are billions of people on Earth. Some don't believe in anything. While others believe in God, and those who do believe in a God believe it in various ways. I find that interesting. I found it confusing that while growing up I thought people who were not my religion were going to hell. How can it be possible that billions of people could go to hell because they don't believe the same as me? That never made sense.

I see that posters who have faith in God do so with such strength. It is so certain for those posters that God exists and is real. I guess to feel that strongly, one would have to seek God and do so openly and allow God into their hearts. I do not have strong feelings either way, hence my confusion. I do think it is possible to believe in God, and be open minded about others and their beliefs. For me "Which religion and I? "Do I even believe in God to have a religion?"

I think many people get counseling for various reasons and that their belief in God has nothing to do with it. It may come into play for some, but I didn't begin therapy because I have issues with God or my religion.

As I said before, my early experiences with church and God were not all that positive. I obviously have strong negative feelings associated with God based on my reaction in my counseling session. I must add that I don't believe my therapist was pushing anything on me. He was responding to my comments. At one point I had said, that even if I did want to seek God I wouldn't know which church to go to. His response was similar to this. God is there and all I have to do is seek him and knock on his door. I do have a feeling that he is religious and he did state that he knows God in his heart. He agreed that we would only discuss this topic if I was comfortable in the future, and that he would be sensitive to my feelings toward this. I also made it clear that I don't like having religion pushed on me.

I am so on the fence with my beliefs. I wonder if my crying reaction was due to my realization that I don't believe in God and that is scary and sad. That maybe through these years of not going to church, and years of hearing how God couldn't be real, that I have started to not believe. And that realization is scary and sad. Or maybe I've realized that I've lost touch with God and feel lost which can be scary.

Whatever is going on I know it will take some time and deep thinking to get it all figured out. I want to thank everyone for their comments. I appreciate the honesty and opinions.
 
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:22 PM
 
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I believe in God. I find strength in Him through good times and bad. Do I have weak moments? Yes, but I usually come out stronger. Things have happen in my life that I know He was taking care of me. As a pp said, I will pray for you as you struggle through this time in your life. I pray that you will find your way to Him. He will be there with open arms.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:40 PM
 
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Yes, I pray because it is comforting for me and I have also personally seen my prayers answered, some even in ways I didn't expect.

I go to church because I enjoy the worship services (ours are very traditional but maybe you would prefer contemporary) and because I have gotten a great deal of support from my church family over the years. A loving church family makes all the difference in the world!


(((HUGS))) and prayers for you.

Nancy
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:55 PM
 
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been blessed and touched by God throughout my life and can't imagine NOT believing in him. I have gone through periods in my life when I didn't understand his plan and looking back this happened when I thought I was in control of my life and tried to micro-manage everyone and everything.

To me God is part of my emotional and spiritual self and as a Christian I also believe in Jesus. I am not a fire and brimstone kinda Christian. It is not my place to judge and many people at church feel the same as me. Unfortunately many people also feel it IS their place to judge. Stay away from those people! I go to church irregularly (a couple of times a month at the most) but every time I go I feel renewed and come away with a purpose and a centeredness. I've been through a lot in my life and once I gave it up to God and literally prayed that "thy will be done" it all fell into place. Not all of it was what I wanted, but it was what I needed and now I'm happier and more at peace than I've ever been.

The thought of God does not have to produce tears. God is love. It's people that get in the way. You don't have to believe that every word in the Bible is literal truth. Many people, including myself, believe in the metaphors of the Bible. I'm not here to debate...just sharing what is true to me in hopes that it can help you.
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I am a Christian.
Old 02-01-2011, 09:47 PM
 
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I believe in God because nothing else makes sense to me. I can't imagine that a creation as precise as ours could just happen. I also believe in God because I have felt his presence in my life when I actively seek him. I believe in God because I've seen answers to prayers--not always the answer I want, but answers nevertheless. I have to say that someone very close to me struggles like you do. I have noticed that when I pray for him every day, he begins to struggle with his thoughts and emotions about God, even though I don't tell him I'm praying. When I stop praying for him, he doesn't seem to care at all. I can only believe that the Holy Spirit is trying to work in his heart when I continue to pray faithfully for this person. Maybe someone close to you is praying for you right now.
I don't go to church because I am a Christian. I go to church because, by doing so, I receive a blessing of strength for the week to come. I am a Christian because I know that God loves me, and made the ultimate sacrifice to give me a chance for eternal salvation. I also believe that Christ died for my sins and there is evidence that he rose from the dead--something that no other religion can say about their saviors. I believe that I would hate my life if I were not a Christian. I need to know that I'm here for a reason, and that I can make a difference in the lives of others. I am not one to push my religion on others, but I do want to share when given the opportunity. Thanks for that chance.
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Old 02-02-2011, 03:39 AM
 
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I feel that there are many paths to God. All lead to the same God and individuals may have one path in particular that is right for them. I agree with IMA TEACHER that religion is interesting to me. I like the ceremony of it... the reverence and the calm. I enjoy visiting various places of worship. I don't like proselytizing in any fashion... live and let live please. I have grown up in my religion, which isn't perfect but what is? It works for me.
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Old 02-02-2011, 04:40 AM
 
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Guest, why not read The Case For Christ and see if it gives you any ideas to think about. Meanwhile, it won't hurt for you to pray "God, if you are real, help me believe." See what He sends.

I believe in the God of the Bible. But I have gone further by asking Him to be the Lord of my life. He's my Creator and I answer to Him.

Why do I go to church? I go for a few reasons. I go for fellowship, to have a chance to talk to others, to check on how they are doing, to see what they need, to get a good laugh, or to cry on a shoulder. I go to learn something new. I go to be reminded of something old. I go to be challenged in my walk (Christianese for "day to day living in God"), and to be comforted. I go to worship God. How could you not worship God? He's not only loving and creative, but He's also omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient (he is all-powerful, everywhere, and all-knowing).

Do not judge God or Christianity on the people in the church. Ideally, they'd all be wonderful, got-it-together, kind, joyful, giving, patient people. But when I look around the sanctuary, I see a variety of folks, and some "have it together" more than others. Why is that? Some are new to the faith and God is very much working with them, but it's a process not an instant wave-a-wand transformation. Others, refined by God, are more radiant and joyful. Who is in my church sanctuary? Let's see: a mom whose husband has left her and she looks tired and she has a short fuse. There's the dude who used to be high up in the church of satan (I kid you not) who still dresses tough and has quite the mission among the homeless in downtown who can relate to his tough appearance. There's the sweet old widow who always has a kind word and just radiates God's love, there's the tired family with the autistic boy, there's the well to do doctor and his wife, and the homeless lady with no teeth. There's the old-fashioned lady who works in Walmart's fabric department, and the man who just lost his wife to an aggressive cancer. We've got the guy from India who was once a vibrant missionary but is now old and stooped over. We've got the family from China who struggles with English. There are tattoos in our sanctuary, as well as denim skirts. Geniuses and those with big mental deficits. Our parking lot includes Harley motorcycles, beat up pickup trucks, luxury cars, 15 passenger vans with those fish decals on the back, VW beetle, a Subaru or two, and a few bikes chained to a post.

When you look at the people in church, remember that they are not God. They are not perfect. Some have some real issues. Some believe. Some don't (but they have their reasons for being there, including going to appease a spouse or parent). The folks in the sanctuary are a lot like the people in a doctor's waiting room. Some are looking really good and some look horrible, coughing up a lung and walking with a limp. Do we judge a doctor because some of those wishing to see him are sick, broken, limping, downcast? No. Nor do we judge God because some of those who worship him are angry, sad, poor, or confused.

I disagree with SusaninNJ saying there are many paths to God. The Bible, which I believe, says there is one way to God: Jesus. No, that's not very PC, but God is not very PC. He doesn't have to be because He's God.

I have seen God work in my life and in the life of others. Stories abound of people with needs that are filled in miraculous ways after praying. Archeological evidence supports the Bible. Other cultures support the Bible's stories. Science, yes science, supports the Bible.

Other posters have mentioned creation and I must agree with them. I see God's hand when I look at what He created. His creation screams, "I am created." If you look at a beautiful painting, you wonder, "Wow, this is terrific. Who made it?" If there's a painting there is a painter. If there is a creation, there is a Creator.

Evolution (the God-less way to explain how stuff got here) doesn't make sense to me. We live in a world ruled by scientific laws and theories. And one theory is that of chaos. Things tend to disorder. Things lose information as time goes on. Look at my family room. The books were stacked neatly on the table but now are a mess and there's a crumpled napkin and a half-empty cup. The pages in the books, once neat, are now a bit folded and bent and one has a rip from turning it too quickly. We see that everywhere. Things tend to disorder. So, how could evolution fit in that system? It says that organisms are ADDING information (which is different from adaption or microevolution where organisms adapt to the environment without adding new features or information -- we see microevolution aka adaption all the time). If animals are evolving, where are the intermediate forms? Not walking around the planet. Not in the fossil record. And, evolution's explanations fall short.

It takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution (aka "chance") than in God.

And, it's not just evolution but their are fingerprints of the Designer everywhere, outerspace, and in an atom. The sun, moon, and earth are proportioned in size exactly right. We have seasons, ocean tides, good temperatures, etc. A different tilt to the earth, a different distance to the sun, a different gravitational pull to the moon and life would be difficult if not impossible. Next time you see an eclipse, realize that it would be impossible without the sun, moon, and earth all being a certain size AND a certain distance from each other!

And look at water. Its solid state is lighter than its liquid state (it's densest at 39F), allowing ice to float and allowing freshwater life to survive over winter. If water was like nearly every other substance (where the solid is more dense than the liquid), we'd not have the water ecosystems that we have.

There are just so many good designs. And a design implies a Designer.

Well, I've written too much. Having faith in God makes a lot more sense to me than having faith in chance. The Bible is backed up by historical and archeological evidence and I have seen many answered prayers. The Christian God is real.
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Not to say that I don't miss the IDEA of god. Because I do. I think it would be enormously comforting to know there's someone who is taking care of everything in the world and that people who are kind and decent are eventually rewarded. What an appealing idea, in an unjust, unfair world.

To the OP, maybe that's why it's painful? If you don't believe, you have to accept the idea that sometimes life is unfair and it sucks. If you believe, you can say, well, God has a plan and it will all work out.

This is exactly what I think. I don't believe in God. I never have. I sometimes think it would bring me comfort to think that eventually we see each other in an afterlife. But, I don't believe we do and it makes me appreciate those alive even more vigorously than I think I would if I believed in an afterlife. It would make me feel better to believe that there is justice in a world full of suffering, poverty, cruelty, greed, and strife. But I don't believe there will ever be justice because everyone's idea of what is just is different. I live by my own moral code, which is to question everything and do what I think is right at any given moment. It makes me anxious sometimes, but it also gives me peace to know I can depend on myself and on the love of others.
I'm not sure this makes sense to anyone else. I hope it gives you something to think about as you explore your tearful reaction. I hope you find comfort in any decisions you feel you need to make.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:18 AM
 
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I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school for 8 years, went through all the sacraments and went to church until I was in my mid-twenties. I still believe in God, but I have a lot of personal issues with the church. I think I'm a good moral person and do my best to act "Godly", but do so because it is the right way to act not because God tells me I have to.

My boyfriend is an atheist. He was also raised Catholic and his family is still very active in their religion. He is one of the kindest, most moral people I know. Do I wish he believed in a higher power? Sure. Do I let it bother me or do I force him to try to see things my way? No. I love him for who he is. I actually think he is way more genuine then a lot of religious people I know.

IMHO...there is nothing worse then a Christian who only does the right thing because he has to or because the bible tells him to. So fake and hypocritical. I believe that some people are just good people and it has nothing to do with religion. They are good because we are all in this together and it's the right thing to do!
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Old 02-02-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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This is such an interesting discussion. I really appreciate everyone's honesty and respectfulness and I hope the OP does too.

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I found it confusing that while growing up I thought people who were not my religion were going to hell. How can it be possible that billions of people could go to hell because they don't believe the same as me? That never made sense.
I think sometimes people think of God as a despot who lines everyone up safely on a bridge. He arbitrarily examines everyone. Those He deems good enough or holy enough get to pass over the bridge into Heaven and He angrily tosses the rest over the bridge into hell. I don't think it works that way.

I think we are all, regardless of who we are or where we come from, passengers on the Titanic. God designed the ship to take us to Him, but because of human error, the ship hit an iceberg and now it's sinking. Everyone on board that ship will die unless they are rescued. So God sent Jesus to be the perfect life boat, one that can't sink, big enough to rescue every living soul on the ship. God desperately wants everyone to be rescued, but he can't force us onto the life raft. It must be our decision. The trick to that decision is faith. There is no proof whatsoever that the life boat is the one, true boat that will lead to safety. You simply must believe that to be true. You don't even have to do any special tricks or good deeds to earn a spot on the raft, you simply have to believe and get on it. Some will gladly believe it and get onto the life raft, into safety. Some will question whether the life raft can really rescue them and wait for the next life boat. Some will think there will be plenty of time to get on the raft later. Some will refuse to believe the ship is actually sinking and stay put. Some are stuck down in the lower levels of the ship and don't even know that the ship is sinking. Some see the rising water and realize what's going on, but don't realize that rescue has been sent. This is why many Christians prostelytize with such fervor. It is very upsetting to think that someone else might die because I didn't pass on the message.

I don't believe that every religion is a path to God, but I do believe that there are different paths within Christianity. I believe God created each of us unique and allows us to worship Him in a way that makes us feel good and comfortable. One church/denomination does not fit all. I could never be a Catholic. So much of Catholicism doesn't make sense to me, and I can't find the rationale for much of what it teaches in the Bible. However, my grandmother is a devout Catholic and I see how she lives her faith. She has clearly found the path to God that best fits her. I know there are probably some who think I'm going to hell because I'm not Catholic, but like a pp said, people are not God. I can only follow what heart tells me to be true and go where I believe God leads me.

Quote:
I see that posters who have faith in God do so with such strength. It is so certain for those posters that God exists and is real. I guess to feel that strongly, one would have to seek God and do so openly and allow God into their hearts. I do not have strong feelings either way, hence my confusion.
True faith is not a feeling. As a child, I questioned everything and wondered so many times if any of it was real. In college, I studied many religions--Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, even ancient creation stories and mythology. I did question--how do I know I've found the right path in Christianity? I had to examine the tenets and principles of each one and decide if I felt in my heart the teaching made sense. Every religion teaches morality and peace, but not every religion sufficiently answered all of my questions or gave me the same peace of mind. For me, the only one that did that was Christianity. As I said before, I first acted on my faith as a child. That faith was very small. It was just a simple acknowledgement that I think God is real, that Jesus is His son and the stories I heard about him were true. I didn't really understand any more than that. The more I learn about true Christianity and the more I see God work in me and in my life, the more real God becomes and the more my faith grows in size and in sophistication. On the other hand, the Bible says faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. I've never moved a mountain or done anything I would consider to be the equivalent. How small must that make my faith?

True faith is not the same as religion, IMO. True faith is about exploring a relationship, letting go of what you might have been told about Him before and gettting to know the personhood of God. Any one can follow a set of dos and don'ts, memorize spiritual text, recite prayers from rote, and habitually participate in the same rituals over and over. Like someone else said, doing those things can be calming and comforting, but it doesn't take faith to do those things, unless you are putting faith in the ritualism to save you or make you a better person. Reducing Christianity into ritualism makes it no different than any other world religion, and in that case, it probably doesn't matter which one you choose. What makes true Christianity different from other religions is the concept of grace. Grace does not come from following rituals and doing the right things, it comes from having a relationship with God.

I used to get caught up in trying to be a good Christian through doing all the right things and good deeds. But those things don't save you. I really struggled with that concept until I had this epiphany. Christianity is kind of like the movie Saving Private Ryan. A team of men were sent out to risk their lives to save one soldier. He did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve that salvation; unusual circumstances that he had absolutely no control over led the army to send the rescue mission. At first, Ryan refused to go and rejected the salvation. Eventually he made the decision to go, but not before most of the men, including the team's leader (Tom Hank's character) is killed. Just before he succumbs, Tom Hank's character says "Earn this."

That is why Christians are supposed to live good lives--not to get salvation but simply to express gratitude for receiving salvation, after the fact, and to prove that their faith is real. And like a pp said, you don't do it because the Bible says so. You do it because it's the right thing to do. The fact that the Bible also says it is right just serves to affirm what you already knew was right, and to verify the truth of the Bible.

I apologize for rambling on, but like someone else posted, I do not share my beliefs with people unless they ask. I hope the OP is able to take every post on this thread to heart and find the answers you are looking for. I think, perhaps, the reason you reacted with such sadness and fear when the subject of God and faith was brought up was because God is trying to communicate to you through your feelings. I think being separated from you and not having a relationship with you makes Him feel sad too.
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Old 02-02-2011, 03:29 PM
 
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everyone's honesty. I know that religious beliefs are usually strong and personal, and the fact that so many people out there were willing to share those strong beliefs is so appreciated and comforting.

I have read all of the posts and they gave me a lot to think about. When I look back on my life (I'm almost 40) and I see the phases I walked through, it boggles my mind at how I've come to this point in my life. I remember the dressing up with curled hair prancing off to church with my family. I remember being baptized (sp?), and "speaking in tongues". I remember my father telling me bible stories and teaching other children about them. I remember feeling awkward in church and confused about what was going on around me. I remember the last day I went to church when my dad met the new pastor and had a "feeling" that he was "no good". And my dad was right. I remember more recently (15 years ago) going to Catholic masses and feeling such peace there. It felt as if God was actually present and surrounding me. Yet, I don't believe in some of the Catholic beliefs. I'm not Catholic, but my in-laws are. And I see how faith works. They just simply and undeniable believe in God. There is no doubt. It's as if it was a gift given to them and they have accepted it and lived by it. Sometimes I think maybe I just wan't given that gift. I don't simply believe so easily. But I also remember years ago believing in God, praying, and having a relationship with him. Then, at some point it all faded and was forgotten and my life continued to this point where I am now pulling off the layers and exposing some strong feelings about God. Where did those layers come from? And how come God has been so buried under them all?

I do have a lot to think about. I understand that I don't have to rush into deciding whether I belief in God or not. That through my discussion with my counselor and thinking about what all of you have posted and some soul searching I hope to find what makes me happy and what I can live with.

Thank you again. This have been one of the most interesting posts I've ever posted and ever read.
 

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