letting go.


Four years ago, I was content to sing by myself. in the seclusion of my mini-van.

Leading worship never crossed my mind.

Four years ago, I was content to write a blog. about recipes and how to use a neti pot.

Writing a book never crossed my mind.

Four years ago, I was content to lead a monthly psuedo-Bible study. sitting in comfortable chairs in the living rooms of friends.

A speaking ministry never crossed my mind.


Why did you allow me to go 4 years in this direction if it’s not the place you wanted me to be? How long do I have to stumble around in this mess I’ve made? How long till I figure out how to climb out of this pit? And how long after that will it take me to turn my face and feet towards next?

I have NO sense that these things I’ve been pursuing are from You.

I have NO confidence in my ability to figure out where to place my foot.

so I find myself unable to take a step.

I’m standing still.


by the nagging thought that I have to let it go.

all of it.

And every time the thought crosses my mind, I cry.




dammit. dammit. dammit.

I do NOT cry.

and it’s really starting to tick me off.


Crying is a flippin WASTE of time. When I’m done, nothing has changed.

Except that I have a headache. and my mascara is shot.

And so I take the chicken walk.

If these desires are not from You – if they are, in fact, selfish – I’m asking you to TAKE them.

TAKEthemTAKEthemTAKEthem. I don’t want them.



Painlessly would be my preference.

tested by fire 1 peter 1 6-7But part of me knows that if You really did allow these desires to grow over the last 4 years – only to get me to this place of recognition that I love them too much – you did it to teach me.

That I need to be satisfied in YOU, Jesus.

I need to find joy in YOU.

Leading worship isn’t enough.

Writing about You isn’t enough.

Telling people about You isn’t enough.

YOU are enough. You should be enough.

Part of me wonders.


That You’ve allowed me to go so far down this path because You needed me to be this wrecked about being so selfish.

Some say I’m under spiritual attack.


if so, Satan’s doing a damn good job.

But I have to ask myself.

Am I being disciplined?

Am I being pruned?

Are these thoughts from You?

I can’t discount the possibility.

I can’t automatically assume that Satan is attacking me with doubt and discouragement.

Because You are sovereign, I believe nothing happens to me that You don’t allow.

double negative.

Is that what I’m being?

Right now, everything I see about this ministry I’ve been pursuing is about me. What I want. Me trying to manufacture something. If this is true, the hours I’ve wasted are incalculable. If this is true, I need to turn my back on this self-indulgent disobedience. And if this is true, it completely sucks. Because even after looking straight in the face of this possibility – even knowing I need You to be enough – without these dreams – I’m still mourning the death of them.

Lord, if I’m wrong, you’re going to have to show me.

Smack me upside the head.

because I don’t trust my judgement.


and seriously. I’m OVER the crying.

It is NOT working for me.

I don’t want to do it anymore.

“To say to Him that something else satisfies you more is the opposite of worship. It is sacrilege.”
Desiring God by John Piper

CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”

conversations with a born-again atheist: abandoning Santa.

faith and reasonIf you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a born-again atheist. When I say “born-again atheist” I mean he was a born again Christian, but is now an atheist.

Note: Wrapping up the “Santa tangent.” (Before I could reply to the “Shotgun” email, AtypicalAtheist asked me for my thoughts on his comparison between Santa and faith in God.

Here’s his question:
comparing belief in God to belief in Santa. and faires. and WibbleFoo.”

and Here’s my response:
the Santa Comparison.”

Below is his reply.


Hey Julie,

I love the analysis, and I think you’re absolutely correct in some respects. I’m not trying to be condescending. I do attempt to speak by example though, and that may come off as condescending. In fact, my wife has made that statement before, so I know that, in spite of my attempts to not sound condescending, I come off as such anyway. Bah!

If I had said “Well, 1.6 billion people believe in Islam, and 1.4 billion people believe in Buddha. Just because people believe in all their hearts that something exists or something is right, doesn’t necessarily make it exist or make it right”.

My point is – belief that it exists is irrelevant to whether it does in fact exist. People believe a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t make it so.

A minor quibble along these lines then is that we disagree is the statement “Look at the sheer number of people that believe in God – they clearly can’t all be wrong…” is a valid LOGICAL point (your emphasis). I believe that to be a statement of feeling, not a logical point. A logical point is based on facts and based on reasoning. As I said above – just because you wish, think, or believe something is there, doesn’t make it there.

Regarding the Santa thing in that finally, I think you know now that I was trying to show an example of where it’s an absurd conclusion so as to block off the exit. Because it was Santa though, your critique was spot-on in that built into “belief in Santa” includes “child-like” and “ignorant”. So the larger part of the argument is completely overlooked. I won’t belabor the point – your criticism is quite right, and I’m happy to abandon the comparison.

One more (not trying to beat the dead horse again), but how would you feel in a debate, not that we’re having one, if I had instead chosen Astrology, Voodoo, or John Smith? Now, before you disagree with me for listing those things specifically, according to a Harris Poll released in 2008, 31% of Americans believe in Astrology; there are millions of people in Haiti, Africa, and Brazil that have faith in Voodoo; according to various sources, nearly 14 million people are baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints worldwide.

The sustaining goal being to point out that the # of believers doesn’t contribute one iota to whether a proposition is true. That was the point I was trying (and failing) to make.

Thank-you for the constructive criticism – it’s well received.


Click HERE to see all “conversations with a born-again atheist” posts.

NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.

conversations with a born-again atheist: some behind the scenes banter

faith and reasonIf you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a “born-again atheist” as we continue to explore my original questions:

Why do you believe faith in God is unreasonable, illogical and irrational?


How did a born-again Christian become an atheist?

Note: This is some in-between/behind the scenes conversation between AtypicalAtheist and myself. I’m including it in the blog series because I want to remind readers that he and are actually friends in real life – even though we hold very, very different beliefs about God.

AtypicalAtheist: Actually… one thing at a time. I’d love to get your opinion of my prior e-mail before I get your input from my last e-mail. Sorry – – – didn’t mean to overload the queue.

JSM: “One thing at a time.” NOW you say that? 🙂

Seriously. You called yourself a “free-thinker” but I would also describe you as a “shotgun thinker!” Following those first few emails was like trying to watch a bullet in a steel room. This might be a personal question, but all the coffee you drink…do you have ADD? Because if you do, you are very good at it. Meanwhile, I’ll try to keep up.

For my own clarity, I need to break up my responses into more manageable pieces. I’ve got so much written and it’s all starting to blend together. The pages are growing and there’s no reason not to start sending you the responses I have written. Unless you load up another shotgun…


AtypicalAtheist: Naw … I don’t have another shot…

Oooh – Squirrel!

Uh, where was I?

Yeah – I was diagnosed with ADHD way back before it was common-place. I was on Ritalin for years until I worked out that Nicotine was a great substitute. Nicotine – what a fantastic drug … it just has a crappy delivery mechanism. Anyway – I smoked from the age of about 14 to about 40. I am proud to say though that my kids never saw me with a cigarette although my middle child did find an empty pack of smokes in my car once. But alas, I digress. I now treat my ADHD with a pot of coffee and 3 hits of crystal meth every day whether I need it or not (uhh, just kidding about the crystal meth) 😉

Hope you’re still retaining your sense of humor,

JSM: lol! Definitely. In that vein, here’s a little atheist music for you:

p.s. I’m loving this. You are really making me think. But I’m far from convinced that faith in God is illogical. 🙂


[… snip …]
“I’m far from convinced that faith in God is illogical”
[… snip …]

I’d just like to reiterate that I have no intention of trying you convince you of anything. My past attempts to wrest my wife’s faith from her were misguided and completely unfair – she’s a theist, and I’m an atheist – live and let live. My experience indicates that it’s not really possible to convince you (or any other thorough-going theist) of anything regarding your beliefs. I will happily present the things that convince me that theism is absurd and the product of a time when mysticism abounded. That said, I don’t believe that there will be any argumentation or force in the presentation – that’s not the point of our fun discussion. If this were a proper debate, I would have started the discussion with something like “So – if I am able to demolish your evidence for theism, are you willing to immediately relinquish your belief in God?” Of course, about 99.9770233% of the time, the answer is No. So why bother really.

I did receive your book, and the admonition to not read it cover-to-cover. [Note to blog readers: “The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict” It’s GIANT]

Regarding my book, I have located a PDF version of “Atheism, the Case Against God” – the one I’d love you to read cover-to-cover/ Would you like me to send you a PDF, or do you want a physical book to thumb through?

Love the conversation,

JSM: I got a copy of “Atheism: the Case Against God” from an online book swap. It arrived today. My yellow highlighter and I need the freedom to explore (and to ruin the resale value of the book).

I’m a “thorough-going theist?” ooooo. I like that label. And I know I can’t convince you of anything either. My focus for the conversation is still on digging through your statement that belief in God isn’t logical, reasonable or rational. As well as my continued interest in how you went from born-again Christian to atheist. For me, that’s by far the most intriguing part of all this.

And right back atcha. If and when you come to a place where you no longer think that my belief in God is irrational, illogical or unreasonable, I do not expect you to instantly believe in God yourself. I’ve met more than a few people who believe in God but are not a Christian.

I have the exact same copy of Evidence that Demands a Verdict, so if we discuss it anything in it, our page numbers will match up.


Click HERE to see all “conversations with a born-again atheist” posts.

NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.

conversations with a born-again atheist: the Santa comparison

faith and reasonIf you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a born-again atheist. When I say “born-again atheist” I mean he was a born again Christian, but is now an atheist.

Note: Santa tangent ahead. Before I could reply to the “Shotgun” email, AtypicalAtheist asked me for my thoughts on his “Santa Comparison.” [snip] “Also, do you have a suggestion of better language or terms that I could use, knowing how I feel about the topic, and how you feel about having your beliefs seemingly trivialized?”

or CLICK HERE to read what he said about Santa in the last post, entitled “comparing belief in God to belief in Santa. and faires. and WibbleFoo.”

JSM: AtypicalAtheist,

We have ourselves some apples and oranges here. When you used the Santa comparison with me, your premise was:

“I don’t believe in Santa, but I respect your right to believe in Santa.”

When you used the Santa comparison with your wife, you said:

“just because millions of people believe that something is real, doesn’t in any way mean that it is real.”

You were using Santa to make a completely different point with me than the point you were trying to make with your wife.

Santa did not serve you well in either situation.

You asked:

“do you have a suggestion of better language or terms that I could use, knowing how I feel about the topic, and how you feel about having your beliefs seemingly trivialized?”

Now you’re tapping into my formal education and training. I was a communication major and later taught a business and professional communication course at UCF for 7 years before I started training and coaching back in 2001. Learning about interpersonal communication and conflict resolution is something I do for fun.

So, I have two answers to this question, based on (1) how I reacted to the comparison and (2) how “normal” people might be offended by it.

How I Reacted to Your Comparison of a Belief in God to a Belief in Santa, Fairies, etc.:
I promise you, I wasn’t “touched (irritated / annoyed / pissed)” at your language. Seriously. Not trying to smooth anything over. Not even a little. You are such a phenomenally nice guy, I know you probably don’t believe that’s possible, but if we’re going be authentic in these conversations, we have to get you to a place where you believe that what you say will not hurt my feelings or make me mad, or whatever.

I’ve alluded to my “issues” before, but here’s a peek into my “normal.” It’s very, very rare that I react emotionally. I won’t say never. In the last year, I can remember only two occasions:

January 2012 – dealing with people after my mother passed away.

April 2012 – an intentional communication experiment that only lasted a few weeks before I abandoned it for my normal.

Both situations were exponentially bigger than an inference that I have the reasoning capacity of a small child. So, again, I promise, the Santa/UFO/Fairy/God comparison didn’t hurt my feelings or insult me.

However, because of both my background and my issues, it’s possible my actual response may irritate, annoy or tick you off: When you used inflammatory language (good description, btw) with me, your credibility took a hit. Your argument was weakened. You told me in our initial conversation that you were a logical person and that was one of the reasons you didn’t believe in God. I asked you to explain why you don’t believe faith is logical (or reasonable or rational) and then you compare belief in God to things most grown-ups don’t believe in. My honest reaction when I read that?


Why Might Other People Take Offense to the Santa Comparison?
With your wife, your point was not “I don’t believe in Santa, but I support your right to believe in him.” Your wife said “Look at the sheer number of people that believe in God – they clearly can’t all be wrong…”

and you compared all those people to children.

young children.

Here’s the thing. She had a point. A LOGICAL point. And the logic of it has absolutely nothing to do with whether God (or Santa) exists.


A gallup poll published on January 9th states “Only 5 or 6 percent of Americans say they don’t believe in God”

With that very recent poll in mind, let me restate her point:

All these people who believe in God? They are not ALL stupider than you.

When you compare God to Santa, it’s NOT that the other person’s beliefs are “seemingly trivialized” by your comparison.

You’re calling them ignorant.
You’re telling them they have the reasoning capacity of a small child, while assuring them at the same time that you support their right to continue thinking like a child. The only way it could be more condescending and arrogant would be if you were to pat them on the head at the same time.

Everyone who believes in God is ignorant and has the reasoning capacity of a small child? It’s not plausible. Can you see it? When you (albeit unintentionally) set up a statistically improbable premise like that, you become the unreasonable one.

and now you’ve added elves, leprechauns and “WibbleFoo”

So the Christian communication coach is going to give the atheist some advice on how to strengthen his argument. (who’da thunk it?)

Don’t compare faith in God to any of those things. Too many people don’t believe in any of the things/entities in your list. Too many people think they are fiction.

For those times when you might use “The Santa Comparison” to make the “just because lots of people believe something, doesn’t make it true” argument, just don’t. The negative connotations far overshadow the point you are trying to make. Some might call it sibling rivalry. You’ve got two points in your statement and one of them (the unintentional one) is clobbering the other (intentional one).

For those times when you might use it to tell someone that you respect their right to believe, use politics instead:

“We don’t agree. I don’t respect your candidate, but I respect your right to support your candidate.”

Can you see how much more respectful and logical you would appear by saying something like this instead? With politics, people have strong opinions about both sides, but because everyone agrees the issues actually exist, the foundation of the disagreement – first and foremost – is about a difference of opinion. Sure, underlying, spoken or unspoken is the assumption by each person they are right and the other person is wrong. But, by comparing political views, you are using an example that most reasonable and intelligent people would view as a difference of opinion instead of a verbalized inference that they had the reasoning capacity of a small child.

I understand you think you’re making a good point, but it does more damage than it does good – both in a discussion and a relationship.

In writing, there’s a saying. “kill your darlings.” Here’s how one writer explains it:

“I should be taking a good, long look at my “darlings” and analyzing whether their presence . . . was the result of necessity or just my smug enjoyment of my own supposed brilliance.

If this is arguably the most painful lesson an author has to learn, it’s also arguably the most valuable. Self-editing is the keenest blade in a writer’s armory. Too often, we fall so much in love with . . . [our darlings] . . . that we miss the bigger picture. We fail to see that our darlings are actually stumbling blocks, both to our writing of the story and certainly to the reading of it.

K.M. Weiland at WordPlay-kmweiland.blogspot.com

My advice to you as a communication trainer and coach? Kill your darling. Ditch the Santa/God allegory (along with all the multiple choice gods and fairytale creatures on your list). It doesn’t strengthen your point, it just makes you come off condescending and arrogant. And that shuts down communication. Because interacting with someone who is condescending and arrogant is unpleasant.


Click HERE to see all “conversations with a born-again atheist” posts.

NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.

conversations with a born-again atheist: comparing belief in God to belief in Santa. and faires. and WibbleFoo.

faith and reasonIf you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a born-again atheist. When I say “born-again atheist” I mean he was a born again Christian, but is now an atheist.

Note: This started as my brief reply to what I fondly refer to AtypicalAtheist’s “shotgun email” (because it spread out and hit so many points at once, I couldn’t possibly address everything in one email response).

Before I could reply to the rest of the shotgun email, he asked me for my thoughts on his “Santa Comparison.” So. Santa tangent ahead.

JSM: AtypicalAtheist,

I’m so sorry I haven’t gotten back to you yet. It was a whirlwind family weekend and I have to work on client site today, but I have been thinking (a LOT) about your emails and I have some thoughts I’d like to get to you either tonight or tomorrow.

Just wanted to let you know you haven’t scared me off, I’m not blowing you off and that I’ve been thinking intently about all that’s been said/written so far.

I will respond to the first request in your “Shotgun Email” – I’ve definitely included myself in praying for an open heart and mind. I should have stated that directly. I realize now that by not mentioning it, you might think I hadn’t. (I’ve been praying that for myself since you compared faith to belief in fairies.)

Have a great day!

AtypicalAtheist: Hey Julie,

No problem. I was trying to be really careful not to be inflammatory, but I realize that this topic can, by it’s very nature, be inflammatory.

Could you answer this question from the heart/gut?

A few back-and-forth correspondences between us has made something clear – you were touched (irritated / annoyed / pissed) by my equation of ‘Belief in God’ with ‘Belief in ‘. The reason I’m drilling into this reaction is because of a similar reaction that my wife had when we had the aforementioned conversation while we circumnavigated the neighborhood Park. I’ll describe how that conversation went:

Wife: Of course God (or at least some gods) has to exist. Look at the shear number of people that believe in God (or gods) – they clearly can’t all be wrong…

Me: (somewhat smugly) Well – consider this. There’s a whole population of little people in the world that believe in Santa Clause. In fact, their observations are that Santa Clause delivers gifts to them every Christmas morning. There are television commercials with Santa Clause, books about Santa Clause. Santa Clause visits with them at the mall. Indeed, on Christmas Eve, you can get onto an American government web site, and track Santa’s progress as he delivers gifts to all the children of the world. There are millions of little people that have plenty of evidence that Santa Clause exists, and can rationally demonstrate the existence of Santa Clause. However, we as adults know that there really is no Santa Clause. So – just because millions of people believe that something is real, doesn’t in any way mean that it is real.

So – what does my wife recollect from that conversation, even today? Not that I had a really good point, but that she was injured by my equation of “belief in God” with “belief in Santa Clause.”

This injured her sensibilities in a way I’ll never understand, and she heard nothing of the logic of the matter (regardless of my attempts to explain). I suspect something similar has happened with you.

If I’ve insulted your faith or the object of your faith, it was unintentional. However, if I get into a similar conversation in the future, I’d really like to have a less insulting allegory… Would you mind rating the following from least insulting to most insulting?

‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Isis’ (Egyptian God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Buddha’ (Indian God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in UFOs’ (Concept, not a God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Fairies’ (No comment required)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Thor’ (Norse God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Krishna’ (Hindu God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Magic Elves’ (No comment required)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Santa Clause’ (No comment required)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in WibbleFoo’ (WibbleFoo is a nonsensical nothing)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Zeus’ (Greek God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Leprechauns’ (Irish Fairy)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Hercules’ (Roman God)

Also, do you have a suggestion of better language or terms that I could use, knowing how I feel about the topic, and how you feel about having your beliefs seemingly trivialized?


Click HERE to see all “conversations with a born-again atheist” posts.

NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.

conversations with a born-again atheist: the “shotgun” email (more reasons why faith is unreasonable, illogical and irrational.)

faith and reasonIf you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a born-again atheist. When I say “born-again atheist” I mean he was a born again Christian, but is now an atheist.

Note: Below is AtypicalAtheist’s response to “conversations with a born-again atheist: Christianity buried so deep in religion, it’s almost impossible to find.”

I fondly refer to this as “the shotgun email” because it spread out and hit so many points at once, I couldn’t possibly address everything in one email response. wowza.

AtypicalAtheist: Hey Julie,

Do me a favor in your prayers… pray for God to open your heart and your mind as well – not just mine… Fair?

A couple of quick points and answers:

A – I didn’t really mention that in during my inquiry in my 30s, I did re-validate my findings with the King James version, as well as the New Standard Edition. All the verses I’ve sent you have been verified on biblegateway.com as well just so you know.

B – I really don’t mind having visited all these various churches actually. To me, it was part of free-inquiry – something a free thinker like myself should do.

C – I’d actually claim that the variety of churches forced me to read the bible. The churches didn’t warp my sense of things so much, I believe the bible did. The bible alone is responsible for my distaste of Christianity really, not all the churches. The churches made me think … huh … WTH (why the heck) 😉 does everyone demand something different if the source material is the same??? Reading the bible cleared it up for me. The inerrant word of God is filled with horrors, murders of children, rape, incest, and absurdities.

D – ** Danger – possibly inflammatory statements ahead… deep breath ** – You and I have both read plenty of apologetics on the subject of the bible I’m sure. One thing that should strike you though, and that’s the basic difference between reason and theology. Philosophy is committed to the discovery of truth – it is not required to defend any particular set of beliefs at any cost. On the other hand, theology is concerned with the defense of religion (Christianity in this case) regardless of the evidence. The theologian will never find a contradiction between faith and reason, because it’s the job of the theologian to interpret them away. As a theologian, a decision has been made that proposition of faith can be defended – defending those propositions is what theology is. So – through the prior assumption that belief in faith is true, the theologian *must* conclude that any conflict must be a mistake in transcription, or in translation somewhere, or that when the bible said “square”, it really meant circles aligned in a square. There literally is nothing that a theologian will accept as evidence of a contradiction because he can’t (or else surrender being a theologian). I don’t mean to be harsh with this statement, but it’s my conclusion (and others as well) based on reading many many books and apologist rationalizations.

E – ** Danger – more inflammatory statements ahead… putting on the fundamentalist hat here ** – Conflicting beliefs of Christians on the topic of Hell abound. In fact, many (often liberal Christians) simply choose to ignore that part of the New Testament because it’s hard to believe that a just and loving God would create a place of eternal torment and would cast people there to suffer for eternity. So the uncomfortable is often ignored which is simply anti-scriptural. An example of this is a quote from theological liberal Leslie Weatherhead:

[… snip …] when Jesus is reported as consigning to everlasting torture those who displease him or do not “believe” what he says, I know in my heart that there is something wrong somewhere. Either he is mis-reported or misunderstood…. So I put this alleged saying in my mental drawer awaiting further light, or else I reject it out of hand. By the judgment of a court within my own breast … I reject such sayings”

This also relates to the closely held belief of some of the existence of an ‘age of accountability’ which is thoroughly unsupported by scripture. The doctrine of original sin (Genesis 8:21, Psalm 51:5, Ephesians 2:3, Proverbs 22:15, Ecclesiastes 9:3, Romans 3:23, and most importantly, Romans 5:12 ) and the teachings of the New Testament (John 14:6 and Acts 4:12) indicate clearly that all have sinned or are tainted by original sin, and salvation is an individual choice that must be assented to. Apologists and biblical gerrymanderers will try to twist the Gods law for the purpose of appearing to say what “seems right in our eyes”. It’s unbiblical and self-serving because it presupposes that sin must first be recognized as sin before it’s accountable. There is no scriptural basis for this. Romans 3:10 should clear that up somewhat.

Of course, as mentioned in ‘D’ above, I can easily find a less dogmatic view of the scripture that can ease ones mind – the more liberal “I know in my heart because the Lord is a just Lord” version. But the age of accountability is (without significant re-interpretation of scripture) unbiblical. And hence, if babies and those with mental retardation are to be cast into hell because they haven’t assented to the Lord’s word, then the whole concept is ridiculous and must be rejected out of hand as capricious, irrational, unjust, and unworthy of belief in any form or fashion. (wince … sorry for the harshness of the above)

F- Regarding your question on “God commanded the killing of children”, I have quite an impressive list for you – please, look them up using the links I’ve provided on biblegateway.com

Specific Mentions of Killing, Raping, or defiling Children – Asterisks (*) are God commanded or God performed

Exodus 12:29

Leviticus 26:22

Numbers 31:1-18

Deuteronomy 2:33-34 (not commanded by God, but God delivered them to be destroyed)

Deuteronomy 3:2-6 (not commanded by God, but God delivered them to be destroyed)

Joshua 6:16-21 (not commanded by God, but God hath given them the city to ravage)

Judges 21:10-12 (read the whole chapter for instructions on how to lurk in a vineyard and steal a woman)

1 Samuel 15:1-8

2 Samuel 12:7-17 (God actually kills the kid for something the dad did.)

Jeremiah 16:1-4

Jeremiah 19:6-9

2 Kings 2:23-24

2 Kings 15:16

Job 1

Psalms 137:4-9

Isaiah 13:9-18

Isaiah 14:20-22

Ezekiel 5:8-10

Ezekiel 9:4-6

Ezekiel 23:25-47

Hosea 13:4-16

Mark 7:9-10 (Jesus)

So – these are specific mentions of horrible things done to children specifically calling out children or things like first-born. It doesn’t begin to scratch the surface though when you consider general murder by God including (but not limited to) numerous plagues that kill indiscriminately which presumably kill men, women, and children. If you really want chapter and verse all the horrors in the bible, I could literally spend hours compiling them if you wish. Even Jesus is known to order slayings (although most don’t admit it – read Luke 19:22-27).

G – Response to ” Irrelevant. What does all that have to do with CHRIST?’ … ‘ I mean that religion and doctrine have nothing to do with a relationship with Christ.

Well, Christ is part of the Christian religion which has a specific set of doctrines. To wrest Christ from the moorings of theism would be to render him meaningless. Indeed, without the doctrine of hell, what is the fuss about sin and saving me about then? The bible is the only remaining so-called authority for the historicity of Jesus Christ, and if it contains the fabulous and horrific, it should (in my opinion) be discarded as irrational and irrelevant … as well as any notion of Jesus. Put another way, we have not seen (in any time of enlightenment) nature going out of course. Things behave according to their nature, plain and simple. We have seen however, man tell lies – millions of them in that same time. So – what’s more probable? That nature go out of course (the dead suddenly rising / seas part mysteriously / Jesus walking on water), or that a man should lie? I submit that the latter rather than the former is millions to one more likely. I’m not trying to turn this into a debate, I’m just trying to convey my opinion on the matter, that’s all. No offense or intention to coerce intended – really. For this, I’ll quote David Hume:

“When any one tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.”

Suffice it to say – I believe the bible alone is sufficient to smother out any notion of a loving God, and all conceptions of Jesus Christ. I’m content to let it choke itself out by its horrific and absurd content (sorry if this is resoundingly harsh – I edited this a few times and settled on these adjectives as the least inflammatory).


Click HERE to read the next post in this series, entitled: comparing belief in God to belief in Santa. and faires. and WibbleFoo.

Click HERE to see all “conversations with a born-again atheist” posts.

NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.

conversations with a born-again atheist: Christianity buried so deep in religion, it’s almost impossible to find.

faith and reasonIf you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a born-again atheist. When I say “born-again atheist” I mean he was a born again Christian, but is now an atheist.

Note: This post is my response to AtypicalAthiest’s two part answer to my question:

“How did you – a self-professed born again Christian – become an atheist?”

You can read his answer here:
conversations with a born-again atheist: an atheist’s testimony (part 1)
conversations with a born-again atheist: an atheist’s testimony (part 2)

(These posts are weeks behind the actual emails we are sending.
In reading over this post again, I can already see something I’m going to have to retract.)

JSM: wow.

I had to stop reading your reply to my first question for a few minutes because I was completely overwhelmed. I am honored and humbled that you would share this with anybody, much less me, someone you hardly know. I’m not just blowing rainbows.

SERIOUSLY. Honored and humbled.

One of the conditions of this interchange is that I get to be authentic with you, so I believe I have to tell you, in full disclosure, that I am praying for you. I said before that I will never be able to reason someone into a faith in Christ. I honestly believe there is absolutely nothing I can say that will poof you into a Christian, so I’m not even going to try. I know I will not say something brilliant that prompts you to exclaim, “oh my gosh! That’s IT! THAT’S what I needed to hear in order to have faith!” I can’t convert you. I can’t “save” you.

But I believe God can.

So my prayer for you is simple: “Lord, please soften AtypicalAtheist’s heart and open his mind.”

And I’m praying that God will equip me for these conversations.

And I should probably tell you, I pray like a widow. (Luke 18:1-8 – a parable Jesus told)

But back to your testimony. I do want to respond to some things, but I have to show you something first:

Living Bible

The inscription shows my mom gave this to me for Christmas in 1980. I was 16. It was a good first Bible, but it isn’t an authorized translation. It’s not actually a translation at all, it’s a paraphrase. Check out the explanation HERE:


He describes The Living Bible by saying “It leaves out details from the Greek manuscripts and makes up its own details out of thin air. It “reads nice” but it reads wrong.” (One cool thing this guy did was to show the same verse in about 30 different versions.)

I don’t know when, but after a few years of reading The Living Bible, I suddenly SAW the word “paraphrased” and it hit me. Paraphrased? pshhh. I can paraphrase. What does the BIBLE say?

I started collecting translations. The only paraphrase I use these days is The Message, and I view it more as a commentary. You can find many translations online too. My go-to site is http://www.biblegateway.com and for researching original language and some thorough commentaries, I use http://www.blueletterbible.com. For everyday reading, I use ESV (English Standard Version) and for mid-level learning, I have parallel bible (two versions, with verses side by side on the same page) containing the NIV and The Message, but when I want the most literal translation, I go to NASB (New American Standard Bible). When I need even more help, I go to my friend, who has just embarked on a plan to read the Bible this year – in GREEK.

okay, NOW back to your testimony.

You attended a Baptist church and a Nazarene church. In the seventies. That explains a LOT. Heavy doctrinal rules. Conservative. Fundamental. Legalistic. Arrogant, unchecked theocracy running rampant.

Christianity buried so deep in religion,
it’s almost impossible to find.

And I have to admit. I would personally like to smack the crap out of the legalistic, deluded, Christians you were exposed to.

Much evil has been done in the name of God.

MUCH evil.

And I repeat. I would like to smack the CRAP out of the legalistic, deluded Christians you were exposed to.

Instead, I’ll settle for sending a message to them via the internet, passing back through time:

yo. lean over. so I can smack you on the back of the head. WHAT were you thinking? idiot. How many people have believed you? How many people have rejected God because of your confusing, unbending interpretation of a punishing and unreasonable God?

okay. I’m done. for now.

When I was younger, I found myself bombarded by some of the same conflicting and nonsensical rules and confusing interpretations. How did I handle it? Well, when I was 11 or 12, I told my pastor – in front of a classroom of my peers, that something he said was stupid. Here’s the back story on that one:

if it’s not about the elements, could we use oreos and milk?

Then, I auto-piloted through church until I was fifteen, when I accepted Christ. That’s when I started searching. I seek knowledge. It’s what I do. Because I have issues (that’s another story). But also because I know I’m not all that special. Somewhere, sometime, somehow, someone has gone through whatever it is that I’m going through. And I’m convinced someone wrote about it. I’m usually right. And I can learn from both their discoveries and their mistakes.

When I first became a Christian, I began attending a Southern Baptist church. It was 1979. Southern Baptist. Lots of rules. I wanted to know WHY. I questioned everything I was told. And quickly learned that expressing doubt equated to heretic. So I toned down the questions and sought answers on my own. Since I was a new Christian, I didn’t really know how to do that, and my spiritual grown was sloooowwwww. It was a confusing time. But when I was told something I believed was wrong, I knew this:

it was the people who were getting it wrong.

Because people are flawed. People are subjective. People have issues. They interpret everything through their own filters.

So I sought knowledge. On my own. So I could interpret through my own filters. 🙂

My husband will tell you I have a problem with authority. (I will concede that I failed submission school.) Bottom line? I’m in charge of my own learning, thankyouverymuch. I seek information from every source I can find. I call myself an incurable bibliophile and I love to hear people’s stories. But if someone tells me something that doesn’t sound reasonable, I research it.

To death.

I was in my 20s when I started reading books on apologetics. Not because I wanted to be able to defend my faith, but because I wanted answers. It was about that time I purchased Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Volume I. If I was going to depend on the Bible for answers and wisdom, I needed to confirm the Bible was a verified historical resource. I mentioned before that ETDaV was a difficult read, but it provided some of the evidence I was searching for and spurred me to search for more. At this point, I have a stack of books on apologetics, all read because I was seeking answers to my own doubts. I still refer to them. Because I still have questions.

I don’t read much fiction. I like to say that I keep all my fiction books at the library. But I devour non-fiction. I read commentaries and books on theology, because I want – and need – to think outside my own filter. I know my perspective is skewed by my past. I am rarely, if ever, satisfied by my own interpretation of something I learn. Hence the voracious reading. Authors are my favorite conversationalists. My journal and my blog are my favorite therapists and my clearest mirrors. And I talk to people. People who hold similar beliefs and people who believe very differently that I do.

I’ve learned from experience, that when I depend wholly on myself, I find what I’m looking for.

Because when I seek knowledge in a vacuum, sometimes, what I find isn’t truth. Sometimes, what I find is rationalization and support for what I want to believe or do.

I hate it when that happens. It’s not logical. It’s not pragmatic.

That’s one reason I’m willing to read the book you recommended.

Something I find compelling about your history is that you refer often to religion and doctrine, either by stating the actual word religion or through your description of elements of religion and doctrine. I want to think about this a little more, but the gist is this: I don’t see a relationship with Christ evidenced in anything you’ve shared. All that religion and doctrine? You’re going to hear this a lot from me. Are you ready?

Irrelevant. What does all that have to do with CHRIST?

NOT irrelevant to your life. Clearly, your LIFE – your marriage, your parenting, everything – have been significantly impacted by all that (warped) religion and doctrine. When I say irrelevant, I mean that religion and doctrine have nothing to do with a relationship with Christ.

You said you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. It sounds to me like you accepted Him as your Savior, but your discipleship was so corrupt that your relationship with Christ was wrenched apart before you ever got a chance to experience Him being Lord of your life. Like I said, I need to think on this some more.

I know there’s more in your testimony that I want to respond to, and I haven’t even begun looking up the verses you included in your answer to my question “Why do you view faith in God as unreasonable, illogical and irrational?” But in the meantime, I have a question. To what are you referring when you say God commanded the killing of children? Is that a reference to Elijah’s bald head incident or something else?


Click HERE to see all “conversations with a born-again atheist” posts.
NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.

church: THERE. IS. MORE.

This is the 15th post of a series. I started out telling a chronological story, but got derailed before I could get past August of 2012. I’ve addressed the derailing tangent to death. I’m tired of talking about something I wasn’t even talking about. I’m skipping WAY ahead in my story. Maybe I’ll get back to explaining how God brought me to where I am today, maybe not. Today, I’m cutting to the chase. And I can see another tangent coming at me already, so I’m hoping an acknowledgement will help me nip that in the bud. (If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.)

I’m going to say hard things. I’ve spent a week writing this particular post and I’ve prayed about it for hours. and hours. and hours. and HOURS. Hard. Things. I promise you I’m saying them in a spirit of edification.

life abundant John 10 10After a 14 post lead-in…



“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10

Christ came that we may have life, and have it abundantly, in all its fullness.

Not abundant blessings or stuff.

Abundant LIFE.

Abundant life isn’t a state of existence to be pursued or attained. It isn’t a level of success or a degree of spirituality. It is an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and it leads to a dependance on Him that can’t be met through or in or by ANYthing else.

Without Christ, I can accomplish NOTHING of eternal significance. Without Christ, I have NOTHING. Without Christ, I am NOTHING.

And before I say another word, I need to acknowledge something:

I know there are people in my church who understand what I’m saying.

I need to say that LOUDER:

I know there are people in my church who understand what I’m saying.

But there are so. many. people in my church who have no idea what I’m talking about.
There are people in my church who don’t want what I’m talking about.
There are people in my church who don’t give a flyin flip what I’m talking about.

And to beat a dead horse – I am not only referring to people who haven’t yet accepted Christ.
This is NOT about evangelism.
I am primarily referring to people who have accepted Christ.

I accepted Christ 28 years ago and up until 2007, I wouldn’t have known what I was talking about if I explained it to me. (good luck following that.)

There are born-again Christians in my church who have never experienced abundant life in Christ through an intimate, no holds barred relationship with him, who have no idea what I mean by that, who flat out don’t want it and/or don’t think there’s any need for it.

And if the Christians aren’t witnesses to what Christ has done and is doing in our lives and in our church, how will the non-Christians – both the people seeking God and the people who think they are Christian but have never accepted Christ – ever see evidence that a life transformed by faith in Christ is any different from their own?

There are so. many. people. – Christians and non-Christians – at my church who don’t see any need for an intimate relationship with Christ. They don’t even know that what they are missing even exists.

And that realization causes me to grieve for my church. and to pray. persistently.

Because as much as God desires an intimate relationship with us, He won’t force us into it.

The father let the prodigal son leave,
The king invited people to the wedding banquet for his son, but he didn’t force them to come,
He stands at the door and knocks
, but he doesn’t bust it down and come barreling in if we don’t open it.

My church is not a Christ-centered church. The gospel is not the foundation of all we say and do.

My church has gone off on our own to accomplish good and reasonable things in the world.
My church is so focused on working for God it doesn’t even occur to us to come to the banquet and spend time with God.
My church isn’t refusing to open the door, we just can’t hear Him knocking over all the activity in the house.

There’s nothing I can do or say to bring revival to my church. There’s nothing anyone can do or say to bring revival to my church. Not even the pastor. A Christ-centered sermon here or there won’t do it. A compelling sermon won’t “convince” us to desire revival. Because revival doesn’t come from an intellectual decision to initiate it.

Only the Holy Spirit can bring revival.

Yes, the Holy Spirit can anoint a pastor and use a 20 minute sermon to draw people to Christ. But if God were to move and stir revival in my church, He wouldn’t limit Himself to that 20 minutes. He would saturate the culture of the church in a foundational dependence on Christ that results in a consuming passion to worship Him, an underlying peace that comes from an unwavering trust in Him and JOY that trumps any unhappiness or trial we might face.

“We depend on God to help us.”

no. we don’t.

“Yes we do.”

no. we really don’t.

For all the things we do at my church, all the programs and classes and service and ministries and sermons and worship sets, we don’t – as a unified body of believers – acknowledge that without Christ at the center of all we say and do, we can’t accomplish ANYTHING of eternal significance.

dominoes in a nice neat rowAt my church, we link arms and stand strong together;
we would kick butt in a game of Red Rover.
At my church, we know how to follow instructions;
we would be champions at a Simon Says tournament.
At my church, we are more loyal to each other
than the Robertson Family.
At my church, if we had a box of dominoes, we would
line them up in nice, neat, reasonable, sensible rows
(I know a few who would prefer a game of Mexican train).


We – as a unified body of believers – do NOT openly and consistently acknowledge that we are completely incapable of accomplishing anything on our own.

And there goes the first domino.

dominoes carefully laid plansThe second? Because we – as a unified body of believers – don’t acknowledge that the Holy Spirit – given to us freely through our faith in Christ – is the source of our strength and abilities, because we don’t approach EVERYthing we do – programs, classes, service, ministry and every aspect of our weekly services – with a openly shared understanding that we desperately need the Holy Spirit to equip us for these pursuits, we don’t make prayer our first step – our first priority – and humbly ask Him to do the equipping.

We don’t even ask Him if the things we are trying to do are within His will.

when the dominoes come tumbling down?

We set ’em up again.

We brainstorm and research and study and benchmark and make decisions based on good ideas and bad. We think and reason and rationalize and plan and execute – all without STOPPING. And spending “unreasonable” amounts of time in prayer asking God if these “things” we are planning are things He even wants us to do in the first place. As a unified body of believers, we don’t beg God to reveal to us our motivations and guide us to fruitfulness.

We are afraid to sincerely offer ourselves up and ask God to prune us. Why? Because we know He will?

Pruning HURTS.

But we need it. Because we are dragging the ground, covered in mud. Weak. Unfruitful.

We as a congregation need a clear understanding of what our church believes, what our values are, what our mission is, because without a clear understanding what we believe and why we believe it, we have nothing upon which to measure when it comes to evaluating whether or not all this stuff we’re doing supports those values.

And Christ should be at the center. Everything should branch off from that Vine.


domino built on one1We do good and reasonable things.
We do things because we’ve always done them.
We do things because they are efficient.
We do things because they make sense.
We do things to make people comfortable.
We do things so people won’t leave.

We don’t even consider the possibility that God might have something completely different in mind.

Something radical.

Something better than we ever thought or imagined.

Something we can’t accomplish without Him.

Something that would give Him all the glory.

Instead, we are…reasonable. and appropriate.

We don’t ask people to tell us how they came to faith in Christ.
Instead, we ask them how they came to our church.

Baptisms are for new babies, new members and new confirmands.
Professions of faith? new members and confirmands.

If someone comes to faith in Christ outside the schedule of a new member or confirmation class, what do they do?
Who do they tell?
How do we celebrate?

Is genuine worship something we as a body of Christ are confident we experience every week?
Or are there (too many?) times when “congregational singing” would be a better description?

How many of us wake up and go to church because that’s just what we do on Sunday morning?
How many of us wake up and go to church because we look forward to spending time with friends and family?

How many of us wake up and look forward to church because we know we will encounter the manifest presence of God?

Every week.

This is what I pray for my church:

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Matthew 16:15-18

“The gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

That’s not a church we can build on our own power. It’s a church only Christ can build.

But we have to realize we need the Father. And come home to Him empty handed.
We have to come to the banquet and spend time with Him.
We have to open the door and let Him in.

How do we get to that place? The place where we want to go home, want to spend time with him and want to open the door?


I’m praying desperately and persistently, that my church – as the body of CHRIST – would be profoundly dissatisfied with being nice people who do good things in pursuit of a “good Christian life.”

I’m praying desperately and persistently, that – as the body of CHRIST – we would dedicate ourselves to prayer and relentlessly ask Christ to draw us into an intimate relationship with Him that leads us to experience abundant life in Him.



“All the hearts who are content, And all who feel unworthy.
And all who hurt with nothing left, Will know that You are holy
And all will sing out, Hallelujah. And we will cry out, Hallelujah
Shout it, Go on scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses, That He is God”

“We committed ourselves to unapologetic preaching, unashamed worship, unceasing prayer, and unafraid witness. And God began to reveal His glory slowly at first but increasingly over time.”
Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs for. What Every Church Can Be by James MacDonald

CLICK HERE to read the next post in this series, entitled: Vertical Church: a clarification. and a survey.

This is the 15th post of a series. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.

four minutes with God: Joshua 24:15

choose today whom you will serve Joshua 24 15a Quote:
“Your choice must be a deliberate determination—it is not something into which you will automatically drift. And everything else in your life will be held in temporary suspension until you make a decision. The proposal is between you and God—do not “confer with flesh and blood” about it (Galatians 1:16). With every new proposal, the people around us seem to become more and more isolated, and that is where the tension develops. God allows the opinion of His other saints to matter to you, and yet you become less and less certain that others really understand the step you are taking. You have no business trying to find out where God is leading—the only thing God will explain to you is Himself.     

Openly declare to Him, “I will be faithful.” But remember that as soon as you choose to be faithful to Jesus Christ, “You are witnesses against yourselves . . .” (Joshua 24:22). Don’t consult with other Christians, but simply and freely declare before Him, “I will serve You. ”Will to be faithful—and give other people credit for being faithful too.”
My Utmost for His Highest, Updated Edition by Oswald Chambers

my Prayer:
Lord, I will be faithful. I will serve You. Please equip me to be a witness for your grace and glory. Please bless me with wisdom. Please bless me with courage. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

the Word:
…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…
Joshua 24:15 (NASB)

the lyric.
“Let not conscience make you linger, Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry til you’re better, You will never come at all.
You will never come at all.”

The “Visitors”

This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.

Talk to You about CheesesWhen I attended Baptist churches “back in the day,” I was expected to go “Visiting.” That meant participating in some very intentional and formulaic evangelism. Church members would gather at the church at an appointed time and then go “visit” people. Sometimes invited, sometimes just expected and sometimes the visits were “cold calls.” In every case, the circumstance was the same. The Visitors (always in pairs) were expected to show up at the home of someone they had never met, knock on the door and talk to them about Jesus.

My view on that?

Creepy. “oh great, the Christian stalkers know where I live, pull the curtains, turn off the TV and the lights and everybody be totally QUIET till they go away” creepy.

or is that just me?

Surprisingly, more often than not, The Visitors reported that people responded graciously, even when they said “no. I actually do NOT want to talk about Jesus” and “no, you definitely can NOT come in.”

In spite of my personal aversion to Visiting, I actually believe there are ZERO limitations for how people come to Jesus. I’ve heard stories about people coming to Christ through visiting, street evangelism, Christian tracts left in a public restroom, billboards, songs, bumper stickers…you name it. I agree with author and theologian Steve Harper when he said:

Every form of evangelism works for some people.”

But the fact is, those things don’t draw people to Christ. Only God can do that.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
John 6:44

I believe God can use anything and anybody to draw people to Himself.

I’m the one who places limitations on what God can do. Both back in the day AND today.


Never did it.


Not once.

And at one of those churches I was the music minister’s wife.

The music minister’s stubborn wife.

I used to say that evangelism wasn’t my spiritual gift.

But I knew the truth then and I know it now. I don’t like “Visiting.” Especially cold-call visiting.


So while I don’t decide what God can and canNOT use to draw someone to Christ, it appears I do decide how I myself will be open to being used by the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that about myself, does that mean that given a chance, I would choose to go “Visiting?”

pshhhh. no.

If another Christian told me that all Christians “should” go Visiting, would I go?


If God prompted me to go Visiting, would I go?


I know me. and I’ve read the “yeah, but” conversation Moses had with God when God told him to do something he didn’t want to do. I would explain to God that those types of encounters are not my forte. I would remind God that I myself find that type of evangelism off-putting. I would remind Him of the fact that I am a witness in my everyday interactions with people. I would point out specific people He placed in my path, opportunities He provided and how I responded. I would ask him to equip me for those personal encounters. And I would conveniently neglect to mention the opportunities I let pass because I was too much of a coward to speak.

And if God listened to all that whining and still prompted me to go cold-call “Visiting?”

I would stall.

And eventually go. Because I’m not that stupid. I’ve also read the story of Jonah. Disobedience is MUCH more uncomfortable than cold-call evangelism.

So, yes. I would go. But I wouldn’t like it. And God would know it. Because He’s God. and He knows me. No need for pretense. That’s one of the best aspects of an intimate relationship. No need for a pious charade.

Just obedience.

The truth is that being a witness for Christ can mean very different things to very different people. Here are a few examples. (I must admit. My favorite is the guy with the megaphone.)

That video showed 7 variations on evangelism. My thought on each?

1. no.
2. no.
3. no.
4. no.
5. no.
6. no.
7. YES.

In my last post, I said that I’ve learned the hard way that the word “evangelism” does not have a one size fits all definition and that my personal working definition of evangelism is:

“Being a witness to what Christ has done and is doing in my life – because I’m so passionate about it I can’t keep it to myself.”

Within the framework of that definition, evangelism doesn’t take place at a certain time or place. For me, evangelism takes place in my everyday interpersonal interactions.

tolerance is a two way streetThat means in the context of my everyday interactions with people, I am very open about my faith. Because I’ve learned that if I hide the thing that is most important in my life from the people I interact with in an effort to make them more comfortable, we will never be true friends. They will never know who I really am. I will be a big fake. The hiding would be deceitful. I tell people about my faith in Christ because it is such a integral part of my life that to hide it from people would be to hide myself. It would keep people at a distance.

So if you would be more comfortable with a fake friendship, I’m not your girl. We will never have a running text thread. And you will not have your own unique ring tone or text message notification on my cell phone.

We will never be more than acquaintances.

Here’s what evangelism looks like in my life: When I interact with people, the first thing I want to do is get to know more about them as an individual. I ask questions. I listen. I ask more questions. and I listen. Sometimes, the other person shares something about their own life or experiences or goals or dreams or obstacles or fears that calls to my mind something in my own life and experience – something which relates in some way to what they’ve shared with me. Since Christ is such an integral part of my life, it’s only natural that those experiences would be saturated by His presence and influence.

I don’t filter Him out of my life stories to make other people more comfortable.

What about you? Do you filter out what Christ has done and is doing in your life in an effort to make people more comfortable? To make yourself easier to like?

Are you hiding the most important part of yourself and in the process, sabotaging the potential for authentic friendships? Are you keeping people at a distance? Settling for another acquaintance when you could have a true friend? What happens if you give the other person more credit than that? What happens if you trust them accept you for who you are even if they are different than you?

Sharing what Christ has done and IS doing in my life occurs naturally within my interpersonal relationships. It stems from a genuine extension of friendship and respect. It stems from authentic transparency.

I used to think that if I was transparent about my faith I would be rejected. Sometimes I am.

Because sometimes?

We are not as tolerant as we would like to think.

But more often than not, I’ve found that people are very gracious. More than tolerant. Friendly and engaging even. Even when we don’t agree.


Because there is a HUGE difference between telling people what I believe and telling people what I think they should believe.

There is a HUGE difference between telling people how I live my life and telling people how I think they should live theirs.

There is a HUGE difference between telling people how my faith in Christ impacts my life and this:

The first is evangelism.

The second is just obnoxious.

“We are called to be witnesses – to show and tell what we have seen and what we know. We are to be a witness of the way that God, through faith, prayer, and the Bible, has transformed our lives.”

Going Public with Your Faith
by William Carr Peel and Walt Larimore

This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.