Sailing with Friends without a Compass: Spiritual Autobiography 10

2011-2014 Part I: Goodbye ECF, Hello Grace Life Church, and a New Marriage

I began my previous post speaking of disillusionment with the local church. As a young Christian, I believed that the better the doctrine a church teaches, the better the fellowship and spiritual health of the congregation would have been. Our experience up through 2011 showed this not to be so; although our church at the time was filled with lovely people (and still is), the good doctrine alone never seemed to assure deep bonds of fellowship or friendship—no blame assigned, at least, it would be self-destructive to keep rehashing my perception of how this person or that person let me down, or let Danielle down, or how we let this one or that one down. There comes a point in the healthy Christian life where, for the sake of love, one must simply let go of the possibilities of how we have brought harm to one another.

Yet since fellowship and friendship are indispensable parts of living the Christian life, this meant we were very lonely, even in rooms full of people. We left ECF embarrassed for our weaknesses and mistakes, having lost the few bonds we made with our church family there. It had become painful to show up to church, always seeking to avoid certain people in small rooms where everyone sees everyone.

From that time, I have looked at life in the local church as a challenge of survival as much as a journey of thriving. These seven years have borne that out for me. Continue reading

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Spiritually High to Seriously Embarrassed: Spiritual Autobiography 9

From Giant to Dwarf

They say life is the school of hard knocks. If that’s true, church life in a wealthy, comfortable nation is the school of disillusionment—at least, when you’re a young, idealistic guy who thinks getting doctrine just right will yield the perfect local church—or that the perfect local church will stay perfect once you get there with all your sin and imperfection.

Though I had begun to learn some hard lessons about local churches, I was still very optimistic in 2008. I believed that in a medium-size metro area like Rochester, there were bound to be several strong, sound Calvinistic churches to choose from. In my search for the Church catholic, I had begun to eliminate large swathes of denominations and local churches that deviate from the core doctrines and practices of the Reformation. My time in the Arminian, fundamentalist Baptist and Calvary Chapel churches, which had both seemed perfect to me, now looked like 2-D imitations of the real thing. Continue reading

Scattered and Disillusioned: Spiritual Autobiography 8

A Hope Dashed

Picking up from the last post, 2007 was the year I really began to embrace the intellectual side of Christianity. For far too many people, even the idea of an “intellectual side” sounds like the death of vital, vibrant, Spirit-led Christianity. Many Christians see the intellectual pursuits of doctrine as divisive, often citing the warning to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:3-5

“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (ESV).

Indeed!

The Christian life is meant to be a marriage of spirit and truth, of piety and knowledge, of joy and sobriety. Many strains of Christianity end up dry as deserts, lost in pits of books, disputes, and dissensions, while others end up drunk on emotionalism, rejecting the pursuit of knowledge, and susceptible to every wind of doctrine which whips along.

But for me in 2007, the flood of new doctrinal insight I received through studying Calvinism was a flood of information laced with deep pockets of joy. Continue reading

A Spiritual Zenith: Enter Calvinism (Spiritual Autobio 7)

Buckle up for a longer post this time. I have to mention all the events and people included here, and I don’t feel like artificially breaking this up into separate posts, mostly because I have a lot to cover, and I’m not trying to tailor this series to a popular audience. When one wishes to blog like a champion, one must observe the rule to keep posts short, so as not to lose the interest of the average reader. Since I do not have many readers, nor average readers, I am writing at length today.

See this list for all posts in this series.


Still Floating Along, Not so Alone

Upon returning home from Yellowstone National Park in 2005, I continued working toward my Bachelor degree at SUNY Brockport, leading Campus Crusade for Christ (CC4C) on campus, and practicing evangelism with my mentors Peter and Phillip.

At CC4C, I became President of the club because the other student leaders had either graduated or quit college. With no leadership or ministry experience, and at 23 years old, I stepped into a pastoral role for two dozen young college students. Only two years out of drug rehab, I was relying mostly on zeal, while my learning in the Scriptures still had a long way to go. Continue reading

Aiming for catholic: Paedobaptism (Spiritual Autobio 6)

So far in this series I’ve hovered in the years 2004-2007, because so much of what happened in those years led me to where I am today.

And where am I today, spiritually and doctrinally? (I want to keep within eyesight where this series is going so you can follow along better).

I’m a catholic, orthodox Protestant, but with a very troubled faith in some regards. I have been looking for the Church catholic for 15 years now, and am feeling a bit lost in the woods. The reason this prompted my writing is because I can’t seem to find where I am, spiritually and ecclesially (that would mean in reference to the Church catholic). I know I am in the Body of Christ; I know I am a part of the universal Church, but translating that into concrete worship and service in a local church has proven frustrating.

And what am I? Continue reading

Rudderless & Hungry (Spiritual Autobiography 3)

Hang with me on this one, as I try to shoehorn the story into a little bit of an analogy. The post should feel a bit meandering to you, and that fits it well by the subject matter. Thanks for reading. Part 1 here. Part 2 here.


A young man awoke, blinking at the bright morning sky above. Wh..where am I? he wondered, opening his eyes a bit wider. There was ocean on both sides, a small boat shifting around in the gentle waters, and a glorious blue expanse above, and the man, waking alone in the boat.

He tried to recall who he was, and why he was waking alone in a boat with no land in sight. “Where am I? Where was I going in this boat?” Sitting up, he noticed the ache of hunger in his guts, and the dryness of his mouth. Looking out at the waters, he began to notice other small boats like his, no bigger than two-man fishing vessels, some near, most further out.

“Now this is weird!” he thought, and tried to spot any other people in the boats. About a half mile away, he saw what looked to be another person sitting up in their boat. He raised a cry, “HELLoooOoo!” But his voice faded, throat too dry to do more. The sun’s energy was already blasting away any morning cool that had clung to the bottom of the boat where he had slept. Continue reading

My Spiritual Autobiography, part 1

This will be the first of a series where I explain the journey of religion that I have followed thus far, and where I am ending up. To many, this may be a waste of time, but to those who appreciate an intimate look through the window into another’s soul, I aim to please. No promises on how long between posts. I pray this benefits many.

I Write Because I’m Working out the Kinks

It seems fairly egotistical to set out to write of one’s own spiritual journey, expecting others to read it. In this case, I had thought to write for the benefit of my wife, daughter, parents, and other family and near friends who would be impacted by where I am headed, but in the interest of the Church catholic, that ancient and enduring body to which I forever belong, I thought to offer this to anyone who would read.

I am slowly moving toward embracing the Reformed faith in totality. Having been a credobaptist my whole Christian life, I know how this seems to us when someone else “goes paedobaptist.” I’ve watched other men move from credo to paedo and often wondered “how could they do that? Haven’t they read the Bible?” And yet, here I stand on the threshold. Follow along, don’t tune me out, dear friends. Your readership will be a blessing to both of us.

Seeking the Church

This is a story of seeking for the rock which does not move in the storms. I am not referring to Jesus, exactly, for He has already found and sealed me in His name. I speak of the Church catholic,[1] that ancient, enduring, and elusive body, for which our need is great. We need the Church, and in one sense, I am searching for Jesus, for He is found wherever one finds His Church. In another sense, I am seeking to follow Him, to lose my ego-centered American individuality in Him, and to somehow land among His people while walking with Him. Continue reading