Is there a God?
Say what you want about anything you choose.
Ok uncle I have to write you and ask you for your advice. To get you thinking about my question I will start off by asking it to put you in the frame of mind of answering as you read my rambling.
How can I find my purpose in this world?
This all stems from reading the purpose driven life by pastor Rick Warren.
I strongly believe that I am a true child of God. I have asked Jesus into my life. I believe in his death and resurrection. I believe in the trinity. I believe Jesus is the way the truth and the light. I believe in 100% of the bible. I try to read it daily. I try every day to live as the bible tells me. I have given my life over to Jesus to do with as it pleases him…and I believe all this whole-heartedly in faith.
I believe, because I have all this on my side, that when I sit in silence and read the bible and ask God to reveal what he wants from me that an answer will be provided. Yet, I do not hear an answer.
When I ask this to myself I hear an answer that says “there are three ways an invisible God can respond to a true child”.
1. Through prayer. Pray continually in faith and ask in the right spirit and it will be revealed to you.
2. Read the bible. This book is the instruction manual your Creator has given you to provide examples of how to live.
3. If you want to hear an audible voice of this invisible God, talk with another known child of God and heed the words said to you, as these words are given through the child and the Holy Spirit.
I have done the first two things repeatedly and really do not seem to be getting anywhere, so this letter to you is my attempt at the 3rd thing.
With the things you write about, I believe you to be another true child of God.
My greatest desire in this world is to know what God wants from me. He has created me for his purpose, yet when I look for one, there seems to be no gifts given to me that I could use to glorify Him.
When I ask how I can glorify Him, it comes to me that there are two ways that I could best serve him.
2. Living a life for him.
I do not have a gift of evangelism. I know I am a true child of God and honestly have no desire toward trying to convince other closed minded people to search for their Creator. To be brutally honest I would say I believe that I am thankful that God has called me to Him and it is up to Him to call the others to Him in His own time. After saying this I want to thwart off the inevitable response which is to point out the irony that I don’t want to respond to someone asking me a question as they are seeking an audible response from an invisible God. This is not the case. If someone wants to speak to me about God, I will give them my full attention. I will respond to them with the best words the Lord places in my mind, and truly desire these words would give them satisfaction.
I don’t hate people. I can honestly say I love them all. There are many people, including one’s who I know to be true children of God, that I dislike. But this dislike is because it bugs me when a true child of God acts in ungodly ways.
As for the second way to glorify God, I do believe I am living a life for Him.
The problem with this is what I believe to be the crux of my dilemma. My sinful nature leads me to ask God, “what is in it for me”?
I believe myself to be doing everything I can towards being the best I can. Yet when I ask for my greatest desire in this world, for my purpose to be revealed to me, all I receive is dead air.
I’m not asking for career advice from you. I don’t expect a short sentence from you that switches a light on. I am only asking you to respond with whatever comes to you that may at least set me on some sort of intellectual path towards the discovery of what God wants from me.
Thanks for your time,
Hi Derrick, thanks for visiting my website and thanks for this important question. It is not an easy question to answer, especially as I don’t know you, but I will offer a few ideas which I hope may be useful.
1. Jesus said that if we ask and keep on asking, we will receive an answer, but he didn’t say how this answer might come. Sometimes it is clear, but sometimes we may not see that it was an answer until later.
2. I think we need to see that there are two kinds of faith. First, there is the faith that leads us to entrust our future into God’s hands. We decide that Jesus is the truth (for whatever reasons we may believe that to be true) and so we freely choose to trust him. But there is a second form of faith, to keep on trusting even when we feel negative. I’m not talking about if we think that our reasons to believe are no longer true, but simply when our emotions are against us. If our reasons remain, we should keep trusting God even if we don’t feel like it.
3. From what you say, you are not having any doubts about your reasons to believe, you are just finding it difficult to know how to move forward. So I think you need to trust God in the second sense. i.e. you need to believe that God will guide you, whether you realise it at the time or not.
4. I rarely feel I get specific guidance from God either, so perhaps I am in a similar position. The way I deal with this is to pray, and then trust that God will be guiding me whether I feel it or not. If I make a decision honestly and prayerfully, I trust that he will guide me in this. Sometimes coming up to an important decision, I pray “God, I want to do it your way. I’m thinking of choosing xxxxx – please change my mind if I am wrong.”
Romans 12:1-2 suggests this is OK – he will transform us by renewing our thinking so we will know and do his will. If we immerse ourselves in Jesus’ thinking, we will be transformed (e.g. we will become more like servants, more non-violent, more forgiving, etc) and these will help the Holy Spirit lead us into godly decisions, even if we are unaware of his work in us.
5. This approach seems to work most of the time. We are not perfect, but God can cope with that and help us recover from any mistakes.
6. I think that Rick Warren book can be very helpful, but I think it isn’t helpful if we become over-anxious about finding God’s exact will. I don’t think God promises that we will always choose rightly, nor that his plans for us are fixed and cannot be adjusted by him. His promise in Romans 8 is to work all things together for good, not for everything to be perfect.
7. We will often wonder why God does things in such an indirect and often hidden way. I think this shows us that God’s purpose is more about who we are becoming than what we are doing. If he wanted us to always do the exact thing he wanted, we could all be robots. But I believe he wants us to be learning and growing into people made in his image – mature, moral, rational, loving, freely choosing, personal beings. For that, we need to make real choices, we need to live where our choices matter, and God doesn’t step in a fix things up every time, or prevent us making mistakes.
8. So my suggestion is to not worry so much about whether you are fulfilling your life’s purpose. I suggest seeking first God’s kingdom (which means trying to bring justice, peace, faith and goodness into the world), praying earnestly that God will guide you, looking and listening for signs of his guidance, then regardless of whether you get a clear sign or not, make the choice to do the good that is within your reach and abilities, all the time praying that God will correct you if necessary. Then do what you have decided wholeheartedly and lovingly until and if you get better instructions.
That’s how I see things. I hope that gives you food for thought. Life with God is often messy and difficult, but that matures us. Please write back if you’d like to discuss more.
Stopping by to offer praises for your blog. I, too, blog about religious topics, however, from a secular point of view. I attempt to offer a forum for open discussion, and to promote tolerance. While I don’t consider myself religious, I do enjoy conversing with people from many different religious backgrounds. One of my main concerns is religious and irreligious intolerance (yes, surprisingly the latter actually happens. It happened to me).
Thanks for contributing to making the Internet a place where we can appreciate and learn about our diversity. Happy blogging!
Hi Melissa, thanks for commenting. I appreciate hearing from someone with an interest in religion and a commitment to tolerance. I have my own views, which I offer for others to consider, but I agree that differences of views on important matters shouldn’t lead to nasty behaviour towards others. Best wishes.
Would you like/dislike a topic dealing with whether there is an afterlife?
Hi Richard, I have been planning at some stage to do a post on near death experiences (NDEs) and whether they point to an afterlife or not, but I need to do more reading yet.
What did you have in mind?
Fantastic!!!! NDEs are a good subject in and of itself. There is some discussion of NDEs in the book titled “The Myth of an Afterlife”. I purchased a Kindle copy from Amazon.
After you have done your research it would be great to communicate.
It would seem best to delay any discussion as to whether there is an afterlife until after you have completed your research.
OK, but don’t hold your breath. It’s on my list but still some way off I think. Sorry. But I guess your interest will help move it up the list! 🙂
I thought I would take this time (opportunity) to give you some background as to where I have been, and how I got to where I am today.
I gave you a very brief summary in my first post to you so will continue with some detail.
When I was in the elementary grades I can remember hearing about and reading about some of the Biblical stories in Sunday School, such as Noah’s Ark, Moses parting the waters of the Red Sea, angels, the Star of Bethlehem, etc. Even then those stories raised questions in my mind.
I let those stories be until I started my research on the Universe and life. The more I dug into things the more I questioned the stories in the Bible. A most important day was October 27, 2014, the day Pope Francis gave an address at the Inauguration of Bronze Bust of Benedict XVI. In his address he stated in part “When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything. However, it was not like that. He created beings and left them to develop according to the internal laws that He gave each one, so that they would develop, and reach their fullness. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time that He assured them of his continual presence, giving being to every reality. And thus creation went forward for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia until it became what we know today, in fact because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities.” I interpret Pope Francis’ word “magician” to mean that God does not do supernatural things, which means no miracles in my mind. During about that same time I learned that the current Archbishop of the Church of Sweden stated in her initial interview for the position that she does not believe in hell or the virgin birth. That led me to more searching and a realization that it is not uncommon for theologians at Christian seminaries to not believe in many of the miracles reported in both the Old and New Testaments.
Thus from the above, and more research, the stories (miracles) in the OId and New Testaments are for me myths and there is much to substantiate that.
Okay enough for this First Segment. More later.
Hi Richard, thanks for that background. I’m a little surprised that you would take the Pope (who I admire greatly) and the Archbishop of Sweden (who I know nothing about) as spokespersons for christianity when what they have said is very different to what many other christians say.
I think there is plenty of evidence of healing miracles today, and for at least some of the miracles in the Bible, so obviously we disagree there.
Thanks for your email.
It appears we are of two different worlds mind-wise.
Have a nice day.
Hi Richard, I hope your comment doesn’t mean I have offended you. I didn’t mean to. I just thought I’d point out where we seem to disagree, without getting into detail.
You seem like a resourceful and level headed fellow. So here’s a question posted on the reddit sub r/ChristianApologetics that I would like to know. It reads:
“Has there ever been a professional historian who converted to Christianity because of the historical evidence for the resurrection?
I’m wondering if you could please help me find a person who 1/ converted to Christianity from some other religion or from non-theism, 2/ because they learned about the historical evidence of the resurrection 3/ when they were a professional historian.”
“You seem like a resourceful and level headed fellow.”
Flattery might get you somewhere! 🙂
“I’m wondering if you could please help me find a person who 1/ converted to Christianity from some other religion or from non-theism, 2/ because they learned about the historical evidence of the resurrection 3/ when they were a professional historian.”
I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. Most professional historians that I have read try to be objective when they discuss history, so I don’t think many say much about their own personal beliefs.
I know of plenty of people who converted, some of them academics such as two English professors, and another one here, then this historian, and a PhD student in medieval history.
But I don’t know that any of them meet all three of your criteria. I would be doubtful that the historical evidence for the resurrection alone would convert many people, there would always be several factors I would think.
Is there a particular reason you ask this question?
@Derrick – would your faith or your commitment to a spiritual life change if you did not hear G-d’s voice? You already have what you need to live that life, so why do you think you need something more? With respect to purpose, I cannot offer much. I am painfully aware of my own lack of purpose in this life, so I cannot presume to offer anyone else such knowledge. In fact, I only know that G-d is One, and that he eternal, from before time was until after it ceases.
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