The First Step

Sep 7, 2007 | | 12 comments

jimbo-first-steps.jpgWhen I started posting about my “crisis of faith”, I realized that I was taking some people into deep water. Some of my readers are experiencing similarities in their journey of faith. In fact they have let me to other bloggers who are asking similar questions…

While I want to avoid simply searching out reading material merely to validate my experiences, I do sense that in general, there is a movement of Christ followers who are pushing back against the structures of church that have been built for many many years. I have lots of thoughts on that subject that I hope to blog about at another time. But not tonight. Tonight, I want to focus on some questions that Beckster raised in her comments on my last post. Beckster and I go way back and I am impressed with her honesty and the depth of her questions.

…how does one go about living outside of the box in faithfulness and in truth? What are the first steps? It is very scary to step out on faith and trust the Holy Spirit to guide me, but I would be willing to do it if I just knew what it was that I should do. What is it that God really wants?

I would like to hear from you, my readers… Both of you. Do these questions stir you? What are your thoughts? How do we get started truly stepping out in faith? Trusting the Holy Spirit?

Before I turn you loose, I want to ask a question. Isn’t that a cute little feller walking with his mama? Ok, it’s your turn now. Ready… Set… Go!

Posted in: spirituality

12 Responses

  1. Jim–
    I LOVE the topic of FAITH…in fact I was just discussing this with one of my “mentors” who is a cancer survivor.
    She is am example of LIVING in FAITH. Surviving when her odds were down. TRUSTING GOD. She now lives her life sharing her FAITH and miracle story.

    So, what is FAITH?
    A great first question to “ponder”…the online dictionary defines FAITH as: “Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence”…it goes on to say: “The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.”

    So to have FAITH we must have a “belief”. As a Christians we believe in God’s Divine Truth & Jesus as our HOPE.
    When we have HOPE we have purpose, vision, reason and a pathway for our lives.

    For me, I view FAITH as “me and God in a room”–just the 2 of us…HE is in control..HE calls the shots….I trust HIM.
    Albeit, not always EASY.

    To have FAITH involves RISK..taking a STEP…without knowing where I may be going, BUT God knows.

    Getting OUTSIDE that BOX (or room as I describe) is kinda like pin the tail on the donkey. We might feel blindfolded when we TRUST God in Faith, we may even feel dizzy from being spun around…but we go forward, step, by step, reaching out to GOD (pinning the tail on the donkey per say). SOMETIMES the tail winds up on the donkey’s head, many times not close to the rear end (GOAL). God wants us to pin the tail on the donkey! He will use situations, and trials in our lives over and over till we “get it right”= the test of FAITH.

    We keep trying. AND as a kid I remember wanting to try and try again.(to pin that tail “just right”–to win the game!)

    IF WE try and try again exercising our FAITH. God shows HIS Glory. He is Faith FUEL.

    The FUEL we need to keep trusting and trying and depending on HIM and not on us.

    Stepping out is SCAREY, very scary. BUT Faith provides the peace to trust GOD to guide us.
    To provide for our family. To protect our kids when we are not with them or even know what they are doing.(GRRRrrrr–I have teenagers–so I must TRUST God by FAITH for HIM to protect them) My son was in a triple roll over car wreck with 4 others kids in the car…NOT a scratch touched any of them. But by FAITH and IN FAITH I know God watched that CAR and protected them.

    God is in the room/box with US, right next to us…HE SAYS GO, TRUST Me with your life decisions. Sometimes HE says “STAY with me in the room”.
    “Have FAITH I will answer your prayers…”
    “Know that I want what is best for you…”
    “I can heal your heart…”
    “I will change your life…”
    “I will provide you comfort…”
    “I will lift your burdens….”
    “I will watch over your kids”…

    God desires us to TRUST HIM in the room or out of the BOX. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are prompted to do HIS WILL.
    What does HIS WILL look like?
    Helping the poor.
    Feeding the hungry.
    Being available for HIS CALL.
    Sharing the Gospel Message.
    Telling others what GOD has done in your life.
    Praying.
    Believing.
    Helping a neighbor.

    Knowing that no matter how difficult life becomes HE will provide the way even when we feel blindfolded and dizzy.

    The bigger question I propose is WHAT DO WE WANT FROM GOD?
    When we identify this…we can start to exercise FAITH and draw near to HIM and HIS will.

    Stepping out in FAITH, grabbing a BIGGER HAND, kinda like the cute little guy in the photo!
    TRUSTING..step-by-step.

    Just like we wobble around as babies learning to walk..FAITH is sometimes a wobbling point…as humans,we trust God little by little until we, SEE HIS action in our lives, in the lives of others, and then submit our whole being to HIM.

    Then all of a sudden we are walking, running and chasing hard after HIM,& with HIM. It is the KEY to our Spiritual journey and growth..our FUEL.

    FAITH is not a “church”. To me it is the inner fuel and glue that binds us to trusting GOD in all things! The Lord’s BOND to US.

    Peace my friend and may you always be FAITH FUELED!
    (Now you have 3 “readers”!!)
    Lisa
    visit my website at: http://lisaheidrich.wordpress.com ~Check out “PURE Religion” blog~

  2. I think a first step is in realizing you will not come into the fullest experience of your faith until it is your faith experience. In the previous “Unstuck” post, you mention grace accountability versus legalistic accountability. If we accept legalistic accountability as the limits of our experience (been there done that), we can never find fully who we are in Christ. We find who we are within the group in the name of Christ. This actually may have supported us when we were small in faith with a its sense of a blessed life and a safe experience. Yet, when we begin to question for ourselves if the answers we have been told are the answers, it means we must discover the next level of depth for us. It isn’t a statement that the group is wrong. It is a statement that the group’s limits no longer fit.

    There is a movement going on, but it has always been there. It did not just recently begin. Throughout time, some folks have asked what lies outside the boundaries of the group in control; or folks who have simply known to look for themselves for the deepest possible experience of faith in the Father no matter what their group experience is.

  3. Lisa – Thanks for your encouragement. I am encouraged and amazed as I watch you and Dave grow in trust and faith. You are holding on to God’s hand every step of the way just like that cute litte guy. Isn’t he just the handsomest guy you ever saw? 🙂

    ded – you raise some interesting thoughts… you always do. I hear you saying that a church [4 walls and a doctrine] may be just what someone new in the faith needs to get started, but as we become more mature, we begin to find our identity in Christ and who He made us to be. Only when we start asking the questions and pushing back on the rigid doctrines, can we move from being “defined” by the church to “finding our place” in the Church [Body of Christ]. Then we become the members Paul describes in I Cor 12.

    You are correct that there has always been a movement, leaders who are dissatisfied with the way things are. Sometimes thier questioning and desire for change happens at auspicious times; times when factors converge to create a moment ripe for change. Great movements of God begin. For instance, the apostle Peter had a dream in which God told him it was time for a change. The Jewish doctrine that he built his life on said you have to be picky about what you eat. It was time for a change. Everything God made was good to eat. Meanwhile God was moving in other lives and the convergence paved the way for the communion of Jews and Gentiles alike being one in Christ. Another auspicous moment happened when Martin Luther’s crisis of faith converged with the development of the printing press. For the first time in history, the technology was there to support the spread of his words to many starting the period of time we know as the Reformation.

    The technology of today makes it possible for everyone to have a voice. Although the cacophony can be maddening, I like the idea that for the first time in history, the people of God all have equal access to one another. The reality is that we have always had equal access to God, but the heirarchies and structures we have created have led to a sense that we must lean on the experts rather than depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    If we all have equal access is everyone right all the time? Clearly not, but if the solution to the risk of making a mistake is a rigid structure that quenches the Spirit of God, then I do not want it. Let’s take the risk of making mistakes and create a true dialog; a dialog in which we can discuss points of faith without dishonoring one another. The view from the pinky-toe is much different than the view from the tonsils. If the toe could share its view with the tonsils, wouldn’t both be richer for the experience? Kind of like a… “body”! Imagine that.

  4. In response:

    I am not sure the structured church is what a new believer needs. I am confident that God will meet anyone who is serious about Him wherever they find themselves in the search. Have you read about the Muslims converting because they met Jesus in circumstances that are similar to Paul on the road to Damascus? The Bible outlawed from their experience, they still get a revelation of Jesus WITHOUT THE WORD. God reaches for and meets those who hunger for Him. You speak of Peter’s dream. There are endless ways for our limitless God to reach-out to the hearts of fallen humans. However, I am very aware and grateful that an organized church reached out to me.

    I rejoice that you ask the question are we willing to take the risk of letting folks walk with God instead of the safety of quenching God in our structures. Hierarchies cannot be supported biblically. Yet, they are such a fixture in this culture. Okay. On we go. Seek God for yourself. Hebrews indicates He intends that He would be each man’s teacher.

  5. I do not think we should have to be stuck with “going” to a “church” every Sunday, especially how some of them are now, but I still think it is important that we continue to surround ourselves with godly people who we can encourage and by whom we can be encouraged. People use Hebrews 10:25 (where it says not to “forsake the assembly”) to mean that we must always attend some congregation in the traditional sense, but I think what it really means is that we shouldn’t give up being around each other and meeting on some kind of a regular basis. I don’t think it has to be “official,” but don’t people who love each other and have the same values naturally want to get together often? I personally know some people who have given up going to a traditional church, but they still love God and worship at home. However, they are miserable now because they are lacking the relationships that we all need. I know for myself that I get depressed if I am away from my congregation for too long because I miss the people. Ephesians 5:19 says to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs,” but in order to do that we need to be around each other, though I don’t think we have to be sitting in a pew for it to apply. In fact, I would say that the most encouragement that goes on between Christians is outside of the actual church building. I am very thankful for how much the Internet has helped me to keep in touch with my Christian friends, especially ones who live far away. Obviously, I would not be able to meet with these people every Sunday, so it’s great that God’s Spirit can work through e-mail and blogs. 🙂

  6. Jim: DED referenced some stuff you were saying in a comment on my blog yesterday. I am “amazed” that we are saying much of the same thing.

    You have put a lot of thought into your posts and I appreciate that. You might want to read his comments to my questions as they seem to almost fit right into jimazing thoughts as well.

  7. ded asks, “Have you read about the Muslims converting because they met Jesus in circumstances that are similar to Paul on the road to Damascus?” No, I have not heard about this. Please tell me more.

    I am stirred by the stirrings in others that are being shared here on my little blog. I’m out of town near San Francisco in a training class for my job. Last night, God was speaking to me so clearly. One of the things that I heard was that we cannot do his will in a vacuum. While we have individual responsibilities and accountabilities, the really great stuff happens in the relationships. More to come on this.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and encouragements. You make me want to keep writing.

  8. from faith to the institutional church…man, where can i jump in?

    along my walk, i’ve learned that a biblical faith – outside of the box or not – is one that fully rests on God and His Word. in faith, we gain a deeper understanding of God’s character, and through His character we see His will. we see love. we see joy. we see justice. from Jesus alone, we see examples of everything from partying at a wedding to holy wrath towards defacing God’s worship. i really think if we want to get outside of our box, we have to realize that we are the one that put God in a box. we need to dig deeper to look for the mysteries of God, and then act on that. step out of our comfort zones, cuz God is there, too.

    and the institutional church? what a wide topic. now, i will largely say that the north american church has become lazy and complacent in its worship of God, but i do firmly believe that there are churches out there genuinely trying to make a difference. we NEED to plug ourselves into a local church. yes, we can learn from being around and fellowshipping with other believers. but the church is there not just for communion with other saints, but for training and equipping of the flock. we need to be on the lookout for churches who are teaching sound Biblical doctrine, practicing church discipline, and bringing up new leaders. so often, we (collectively) go to church and just sit there. but the church should be an exciting place of discovery and growth, and is used (for us) to become a part of the body of Christ.

    i hope that wasn’t too random and scattered…

  9. Sorry, I don’t have the documentation but have read it in several different sources. Such events are not widespread, but I believe they are happening.

  10. thom, thanks for your thoughts. i am glad you have joined our conversation. one of your comments in particular stirred me. you said that you thought the north american church has become lazy and complacent in its worship of God. I wonder… I am sure that we are missing the boat in a lot of ways, but I wonder how much of it is caused by “laziness”. In my experience, the primary causes of our messing things up range from a complete lack of awareness to basic sin like pride, greed, idolotry… Laziness probably fits in there somewhere, but I don’t think it is a primary cause. If we had any idea what worship really was, we would do whatever it took to find it.

    I wonder about the “need” to plug into a local church. Biblically speaking, what is a “local church”?

    P. S. i tried the all lower case thing out of respect for your style… but it is indeed your own style. I cannot do it. 🙂

  11. well, laziness among many other things. in our culture, we don’t feel that we even NEED God, let alone a savior. we have “everything we need” a mouse click away, if even that far. i think our worship suffers because we lost a sense of dependance on Christ.

    and i suppose the best way to describe a local church would be a local body of believers. while i fully support learning from a close-knit fellowship of believers, i really support the congregational church as well, mainly for the respect of elders and teachers. if left on our own, we have the potential to dig really deep into scripture, but sometimes, as fallen humans, we can distort the message and make it say something other than is really there. that’s where the blessing of church leadership and discipline comes in. the pastor is referred to as a shepherd for a reason: he is an example of Christ’s leadership for the church, and is there to provide guidance.

    either way, in a church or a small group, the best way to discern the truth is take it back to scripture, as paul mentions the berean believers. when we hear something, don’t assume it as truth (or heresy), but compare it to what is in the rest of the Bible. see if it matches up with God’s redemptive plan. if so, dig deeper, search for truth and application. if it doesn’t, well, move on.

    i’m just sayin…

  12. The words “local church” have a connotation these days. That is a local community of believers with an identified leadership who officially runs the church, often a state sanction of legal binding recognition, or at the very least, a 501c3 designation from the IRS allowing everyone a cut in taxes for giving, and an unwritten rule that the local organization, not the people, is owed something.

    Why is it not just simply the brothers and sisters in Christ with whom one is associated?

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