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Losing Faith?

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  • taxbill@wncol.net
    Hello to All I bought the book after looking at your e group a few time it looked like it might be a helpful book to read. I started reading it yesterday and
    Message 1 of 9 , May 10 6:47 PM
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      Hello to All
      I bought the book after looking at your e group a few time it looked
      like it might be a helpful book to read. I started reading it
      yesterday and have gotten through a good bit of it. It seems like it
      would be a great book for discussion only thing is I don't have a
      place for that here where I live thus this egroup gets to hear my
      questions, comments and musings. I don't really know where to start
      so I thought I might just respond to some of the questions at the
      end of each chapter. It looks like to me that the postings here are
      few and far between so I realize that some of my posting my be like
      that "is there anybody out there" prayer and if there is not then it
      is just good journaling.

      My religious background is fairly diverse very young in life Church
      of Christ salvation through baptism and works Jr High Baptist
      Church lots of absolutes very boring to me as a kid and alot of God
      said it that's it no buts about it! High School off to a Christian
      Boarding school... lots of apologetics, world religions, Francis
      Shaffer, Lots of Knowledge very conservative mision minded. Off to
      college "Does God really exist?" Conclusion after living in
      meaninglessness.... I sure hope so. End of college and after
      college back in a church(for what ever that is worth) something non
      denominational and charismatic maybe looking for what was missing in
      the past feeling, the supernatural who knows. Now I am definately at
      a place of feeling like I am losing faith or maybe just now finding
      faith or perhaps rebuilding faith I don't know I will see what comes
      out the other side

      I plan to read the whole book and I guess this seems to be as good a
      place as any to discuss it in that I feel fairly certain I won't be
      labled a heretic for bringing up controversial issues.

      As far as the Good Faith Bad Faith thing I'm not sure that what is
      defined as Bad Faith is faith at all but rather coercion or arrogant
      pride or whatever else it is charaterized by.
      As far as the Good faith thing I am a very inquisitive person by
      nature. I love to ask questions. I'm one of those thinkers who
      drive lesser(quantity) thinking people crazy.
      I have actually been told "You think to much" So although I am very
      iquisitive I have to admit that excessive thinking and question
      asking have been viewed as a negative quality and at times has left
      me wondering is this really for me. As far a Good Faith being
      communal I think that good faith can exist devoid of community. I
      believe that it will put a strain on good faith but that because good
      faith is tough it should be able to exist and grow outside of
      community. As far as good faith being relational. I don't know. I
      think God wants relationship but what if he doesn't? Does that
      make my need for faith, my need for God any less?

      And I do by the way absolutly accept that we all live by faith to one
      degree or another whether or not we know it.
      Well enough rambling for now! but more later I definitely have alot
      of questions.
      Connie
    • briancrcc@aol.com
      Hey, Connie -- good to hear from you. Things have been quiet lately, so it s good to get some conversation going! Two thoughts. First, some of us seem to
      Message 2 of 9 , May 11 6:31 AM
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        Hey, Connie -- good to hear from you. Things have been quiet lately, so it's
        good to get some conversation going!

        Two thoughts. First, some of us seem to find solitude easy and community
        hard, and others of us seem to find the opposite. My guess is that in the
        long run, each of us has to do the easy part and the hard part for a healthy
        faith. Does that make sense? You may be at a point right now where the
        solitude part is most important, and that's certainly OK. I'd suspect
        though, that eventually the community part will become important again too.

        Second, someone just passed on to me this quote (sort of) by Soren
        Kierkegaard. He said that if God had to choose between absolute and complete
        knowledge on the one hand, and the eternal quest for truth on the other, he
        would choose the latter. I guess it's an impossible question, but it was
        Kierkegaard's way of saying, I think, that we humans need to keep seeking,
        and that's what I felt from your posting ... that desire to keep seeking.
        That's good! -- Brian
      • Stephen Shields
        Connie, Thanks for your post! We look forward to hearing your other questions. As to
        Message 3 of 9 , May 14 1:39 PM
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          Connie,

          Thanks for your post! We look forward to hearing your other questions. As
          to

          <<I think God wants relationship but what if he doesn't? Does that make
          my need for faith, my need for God any less? >>

          That was an intriguing question! It seems to me that our desire and
          capacity for rel is so vast that a relationalless God would be almost of a
          self-contradiction. But I'd be interested in hearing what might lead you to
          speculate that God might be like this....

          Stephen Shields
          Cedar Ridge Community Church
          stephens@...
          http://www.crcc.org
        • taxbill@wncol.net
          ... almost of a self-contradiction. But I d be interested in hearing what might lead you to speculate that God might be like this.... ... I guess it comes
          Message 4 of 9 , May 15 5:54 AM
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            > That was an intriguing question! It seems to me that our desire and
            > capacity for rel is so vast that a relationalless God would be
            almost of a self-contradiction. But I'd be interested in hearing
            what might lead you to speculate that God might be like this....
            >
            > Stephen Shields
            > Cedar Ridge Community Church
            > stephens@c...
            > http://www.crcc.org

            I guess it comes from the tendency of the very legalistic persuation
            of the christian faith to a time present God as this person who is
            just looking for a way to throw us into hell. One strike your out!
            I was recently involved in a discussion at a bible study in exodus
            (parts about the temple) where the teacher was pointing out that in
            the OT God had a very specific way that he wanted to be approached
            and when people failed to do so properly at times it resulted in
            death (not sure if his emphasis was physical or spiritual death).
            He went on to say it is the same in the NT and that specific way is
            through Jesus. Ok so my question was what if you inadvertantly add
            to it? For example you get the idea that a true christian attends
            church and as long as you attend church you must in your mind be a
            christian well to me you have just inadvertantly added to Christ
            alone no matter how well intentioned. The teachers feeling was that
            if we turn to works at all then we make our faith worthless. My
            problem with this is that now faith has been turned into a perfect
            work. Round and round we go. I don't know maybe I am missing
            something in the thought process here what do you think? So does God
            want to be my friend and "walk with me and talk with me" or does he
            want to relate to me in a way so specific that it is nearly
            impossible for me to attain it?
            I really don't know. At this point my list of absolutes has
            dissolved to there is a God and I Need Him! Thus does good faith
            have to be relational? I would prefer it to be, and deep down I think
            I believe that it is but do I know?

            That's all for now
            Connie
          • Stephen Shields
            I wrote:
            Message 5 of 9 , May 17 6:08 PM
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              I wrote:

              <<That was an intriguing question! It seems to me that our desire and
              capacity for rel is so vast that a relationalless God would be
              almost of a self-contradiction. But I'd be interested in hearing
              what might lead you to speculate that God might be like this..>>

              and you wrote (among other things)

              <<I guess it comes from the tendency of the very legalistic persuation
              of the christian faith to a time present God as this person who is
              just looking for a way to throw us into hell. One strike your out!
              I was recently involved in a discussion at a bible study in exodus
              (parts about the temple) where the teacher was pointing out that in
              the OT God had a very specific way that he wanted to be approached
              and when people failed to do so properly at times it resulted in
              death (not sure if his emphasis was physical or spiritual death).
              He went on to say it is the same in the NT and that specific way is
              through Jesus. Ok so my question was what if you inadvertantly add
              to it? >>

              There's a couple of things that the first century leader Paul wrote one of
              his letters that has suggested to me part of what was going on in the OT
              with this kind of stuff: The "black and whiteness" of things in the OT,
              the "do it exactly in this way" part of the OT.
              One of those is a comment Paul makes in his letter to the church at Galatia
              where he writes:

              <<So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be
              justified by faith>>

              Galatians 3:24

              The other is a comment he makes later in the same correspondence when he
              writes:

              <<But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son....>>

              Galatians 4:4

              Gal 3:24 implies that the Law of the OT (all those rules) had a purpose to
              direct us to faith in Jesus. Gal 4:4 further informs us that there was a
              timing issue here as to exactly when Jesus would hit the scene. I believe
              that part of the timing was the maturing of the human race. There was a
              certain time when humankind would be first ready to understand the concept
              that God would forgive us of our sins if we believed, as Paul writes
              elsewhere "that Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). What might
              be going on here is that grace and forgiveness can't really be appreciated
              until you understand sin (which I understand - at its core - as me putting
              myself at the center of the universe instead of God).

              My kids have convinced me of this. I have 3 girls under the age fo 5 and I
              have to give them very black and white instructions. (e.g. "No, you can't
              let go of my hand in the parking lot.") They don't understand the subtleties
              of why I expect various things. I suspect that mankind maturing is like
              humans maturing. We need to understand the basics ("Worship God in exactly
              this way very carefully") before we can understand the subtleties (e.g. "Yet
              a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the
              Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father
              seeks." John 4:23)

              <<At this point my list of absolutes has dissolved to there is a God and I
              Need Him! Thus does good faith
              have to be relational? I would prefer it to be, and deep down I think
              I believe that it is but do I know? >>

              I think your instincts are good here! Part of knowledge is your experience
              with a person (i.e. it can't be necessarily empirically proven). What about
              your experience of God has led you to think He might be relational?

              For what it's worth,


              Stephen Shields
              Cedar Ridge Community Church
              stephens@...
              http://www.crcc.org


              -----Original Message-----
              From: taxbill@... [mailto:taxbill@...]
              Sent: Monday, May 15, 2000 8:55 AM
              To: findingfaith@egroups.com
              Subject: Re: God and Relationship




              That was an intriguing question! It seems to me that our desire and
              capacity for rel is so vast that a relationalless God would be
              almost of a self-contradiction. But I'd be interested in hearing
              what might lead you to speculate that God might be like this....
              >
              > Stephen Shields
              > Cedar Ridge Community Church
              > stephens@c...
              > http://www.crcc.org

              I guess it comes from the tendency of the very legalistic persuation
              of the christian faith to a time present God as this person who is
              just looking for a way to throw us into hell. One strike your out!
              I was recently involved in a discussion at a bible study in exodus
              (parts about the temple) where the teacher was pointing out that in
              the OT God had a very specific way that he wanted to be approached
              and when people failed to do so properly at times it resulted in
              death (not sure if his emphasis was physical or spiritual death).
              He went on to say it is the same in the NT and that specific way is
              through Jesus. Ok so my question was what if you inadvertantly add
              to it? For example you get the idea that a true christian attends
              church and as long as you attend church you must in your mind be a
              christian well to me you have just inadvertantly added to Christ
              alone no matter how well intentioned. The teachers feeling was that
              if we turn to works at all then we make our faith worthless. My
              problem with this is that now faith has been turned into a perfect
              work. Round and round we go. I don't know maybe I am missing
              something in the thought process here what do you think? So does God
              want to be my friend and "walk with me and talk with me" or does he
              want to relate to me in a way so specific that it is nearly
              impossible for me to attain it?
              I really don't know. At this point my list of absolutes has
              dissolved to there is a God and I Need Him! Thus does good faith
              have to be relational? I would prefer it to be, and deep down I think
              I believe that it is but do I know?

              That's all for now
              Connie


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            • taxbill@wncol.net
              - You Wrote... ... one of ... the OT ... the OT, ... Galatia ... when he ... purpose to ... was a ... believe ... was a ... concept ... What might ...
              Message 6 of 9 , May 22 6:21 AM
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                -
                You Wrote...

                > There's a couple of things that the first century leader Paul wrote
                one of
                > his letters that has suggested to me part of what was going on in
                the OT
                > with this kind of stuff: The "black and whiteness" of things in
                the OT,
                > the "do it exactly in this way" part of the OT.
                > One of those is a comment Paul makes in his letter to the church at
                Galatia
                > where he writes:
                >
                > <<So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be
                > justified by faith>>
                >
                > Galatians 3:24
                > The other is a comment he makes later in the same correspondence
                when he
                > writes:
                >
                > <<But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son....>>
                >
                > Galatians 4:4
                >
                > Gal 3:24 implies that the Law of the OT (all those rules) had a
                purpose to
                > direct us to faith in Jesus. Gal 4:4 further informs us that there
                was a
                > timing issue here as to exactly when Jesus would hit the scene. I
                believe
                > that part of the timing was the maturing of the human race. There
                was a
                > certain time when humankind would be first ready to understand the
                concept
                > that God would forgive us of our sins if we believed, as Paul writes
                > elsewhere "that Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3).
                What might
                > be going on here is that grace and forgiveness can't really be
                appreciated
                > until you understand sin (which I understand - at its core - as me
                putting
                > myself at the center of the universe instead of God).
                >
                > My kids have convinced me of this. I have 3 girls under the age fo
                5 and I
                > have to give them very black and white instructions. (e.g. "No,
                you can't
                > let go of my hand in the parking lot.") They don't understand the
                subtleties
                > of why I expect various things. I suspect that mankind maturing is
                like
                > humans maturing. We need to understand the basics ("Worship God in
                exactly
                > this way very carefully") before we can understand the subtleties
                (e.g. "Yet
                > a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will
                worship the
                > Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the
                Father
                > seeks." John 4:23)

                Yes I agree with this that the law was ment to guide us to Christ but
                I guess my question was more this If people inadvertantly add to
                Christ does this nulify their faith. For example I have a whole bunch
                of relatives that believe that we need faith in Jesus but in their
                opinion as person also NEEDS water baptism for salvation. I also
                have a bunch of Catholic friends who have faith in Christ but feel
                pretty dependent on the church for some aspect of their salvation.
                Although I'm not sure how all of it works for them they are from
                Mexico which puts a different slant on the catholic church. But my
                point here is that people add to their faith all the time not
                conciously thinking if I go church I will be saved or if I am
                involved in evangelism this will secure my salvation but feeling like
                if they don't do these things then they don't mesure up. I have a
                friend who pretty much left the church because of a hugh emphasis to
                participate in a particular form of evangelism and He just couldn't
                do it and it left him feeling so inadequate like he wasn't acceptable
                to God that he just left the whole thing and has not been back in
                years. So in some ways it seems to me that we add to faith (not
                intentionally) all the time by doing stuff that we think will make
                us feel adequate when supposedly Christ alone does this so in Gal 5:1-
                4 you get the impression that all this inadvertant adding to and
                some of it very intentional in the case of my catholic friends and
                relatives becomes a nullifier (Sp?) thus it seems to me making faith
                itself a perfect work. I think? Does that make sense?


                ]
                > <<At this point my list of absolutes has dissolved to there is a
                God and I
                > Need Him! Thus does good faith
                > have to be relational? I would prefer it to be, and deep down I
                think
                > I believe that it is but do I know? >>
                >
                > I think your instincts are good here! Part of knowledge is your
                experience
                > with a person (i.e. it can't be necessarily empirically proven).
                What about
                > your experience of God has led you to think He might be relational?

                You can learn alot about the artist by looking at his work and
                whoever made this world had relationship on the mind because it's
                whole existence is based on things and people relating. Maybe more
                on this later but now it's time for work.

                Connie
              • Stephen Shields
                You wrote:
                Message 7 of 9 , May 29 4:34 PM
                • 0 Attachment
                  You wrote:

                  <<I guess my question was more this If people inadvertantly add to
                  Christ does this nulify their faith. For example I have a whole bunch
                  of relatives that believe that we need faith in Jesus but in their
                  opinion as person also NEEDS water baptism for salvation. >>

                  I don't believe that God requires perfect theology (otherwise I'm in big
                  trouble). That being said, I do believe that the moment we put our heart's
                  trust in anything other than the fact - as the first century church leader
                  Paul writes - that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3) that we
                  are in danger of trusting in our own efforts for God to accept us (also see
                  Ephesians 2:8-10 and the whole book of Galatians). If God's acceptance of
                  me depends on what I do and how well I follow him, I'm in deep, deep
                  trouble! If it depends on the fact that "God made him [Jesus]who had no sin
                  to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God"
                  [2 Corinthians 5:21] then I'm ok. God's righteousness is perfect and if
                  that's on my account (to use one biblical metaphor) then I'm home free!

                  HTH and please follow up with any other insights, questions, etc.

                  Stephen Shields
                  Cedar Ridge Community Church
                  stephens@...
                  http://www.crcc.org


                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: taxbill@... [mailto:taxbill@...]
                  Sent: Monday, May 22, 2000 9:22 AM
                  To: findingfaith@egroups.com
                  Subject: Re: RE: God and Relationship


                  -
                  You Wrote...

                  > There's a couple of things that the first century leader Paul wrote
                  one of
                  > his letters that has suggested to me part of what was going on in
                  the OT
                  > with this kind of stuff: The "black and whiteness" of things in
                  the OT,
                  > the "do it exactly in this way" part of the OT.
                  > One of those is a comment Paul makes in his letter to the church at
                  Galatia
                  > where he writes:
                  >
                  > <<So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be
                  > justified by faith>>
                  >
                  > Galatians 3:24
                  > The other is a comment he makes later in the same correspondence
                  when he
                  > writes:
                  >
                  > <<But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son....>>
                  >
                  > Galatians 4:4
                  >
                  > Gal 3:24 implies that the Law of the OT (all those rules) had a
                  purpose to
                  > direct us to faith in Jesus. Gal 4:4 further informs us that there
                  was a
                  > timing issue here as to exactly when Jesus would hit the scene. I
                  believe
                  > that part of the timing was the maturing of the human race. There
                  was a
                  > certain time when humankind would be first ready to understand the
                  concept
                  > that God would forgive us of our sins if we believed, as Paul writes
                  > elsewhere "that Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3).
                  What might
                  > be going on here is that grace and forgiveness can't really be
                  appreciated
                  > until you understand sin (which I understand - at its core - as me
                  putting
                  > myself at the center of the universe instead of God).
                  >
                  > My kids have convinced me of this. I have 3 girls under the age fo
                  5 and I
                  > have to give them very black and white instructions. (e.g. "No,
                  you can't
                  > let go of my hand in the parking lot.") They don't understand the
                  subtleties
                  > of why I expect various things. I suspect that mankind maturing is
                  like
                  > humans maturing. We need to understand the basics ("Worship God in
                  exactly
                  > this way very carefully") before we can understand the subtleties
                  (e.g. "Yet
                  > a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will
                  worship the
                  > Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the
                  Father
                  > seeks." John 4:23)

                  Yes I agree with this that the law was ment to guide us to Christ but
                  I guess my question was more this If people inadvertantly add to
                  Christ does this nulify their faith. For example I have a whole bunch
                  of relatives that believe that we need faith in Jesus but in their
                  opinion as person also NEEDS water baptism for salvation. I also
                  have a bunch of Catholic friends who have faith in Christ but feel
                  pretty dependent on the church for some aspect of their salvation.
                  Although I'm not sure how all of it works for them they are from
                  Mexico which puts a different slant on the catholic church. But my
                  point here is that people add to their faith all the time not
                  conciously thinking if I go church I will be saved or if I am
                  involved in evangelism this will secure my salvation but feeling like
                  if they don't do these things then they don't mesure up. I have a
                  friend who pretty much left the church because of a hugh emphasis to
                  participate in a particular form of evangelism and He just couldn't
                  do it and it left him feeling so inadequate like he wasn't acceptable
                  to God that he just left the whole thing and has not been back in
                  years. So in some ways it seems to me that we add to faith (not
                  intentionally) all the time by doing stuff that we think will make
                  us feel adequate when supposedly Christ alone does this so in Gal 5:1-
                  4 you get the impression that all this inadvertant adding to and
                  some of it very intentional in the case of my catholic friends and
                  relatives becomes a nullifier (Sp?) thus it seems to me making faith
                  itself a perfect work. I think? Does that make sense?


                  ]
                  > <<At this point my list of absolutes has dissolved to there is a
                  God and I
                  > Need Him! Thus does good faith
                  > have to be relational? I would prefer it to be, and deep down I
                  think
                  > I believe that it is but do I know? >>
                  >
                  > I think your instincts are good here! Part of knowledge is your
                  experience
                  > with a person (i.e. it can't be necessarily empirically proven).
                  What about
                  > your experience of God has led you to think He might be relational?

                  You can learn alot about the artist by looking at his work and
                  whoever made this world had relationship on the mind because it's
                  whole existence is based on things and people relating. Maybe more
                  on this later but now it's time for work.

                  Connie



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                • taxbill@wncol.net
                  Hello, Well I was off line for a few days because we were getting our computer upgraded I am now running at 500mghz with more memory and happy to have a little
                  Message 8 of 9 , May 30 9:02 PM
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Hello,
                    Well I was off line for a few days because we were getting our
                    computer upgraded I am now running at 500mghz with more memory
                    and happy to have a little faster machine

                    > I don't believe that God requires perfect theology (otherwise I'm
                    in big trouble).

                    Me too big time trouble!!!

                    That being said, I do believe that the moment we put our heart's
                    > trust in anything other than the fact - as the first century church
                    leader
                    > Paul writes - that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3)
                    that we
                    > are in danger of trusting in our own efforts for God to accept us
                    (also see
                    > Ephesians 2:8-10 and the whole book of Galatians).

                    Yes, in danger "of trusting
                    in our own efforts"
                    but are we in danger
                    of nullifying our faith?


                    >If God's acceptance of
                    > me depends on what I do and how well I follow him, I'm in deep, deep
                    > trouble!
                    >If it depends on the fact that "God made him [Jesus]who had no sin
                    >to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness
                    >of God"
                    > [2 Corinthians 5:21] then I'm ok. God's righteousness is perfect
                    and if
                    > that's on my account (to use one biblical metaphor) then I'm home
                    free!


                    So then what is the requirement
                    for me to have God's righteousness?
                    You have made it clear that
                    it is not works. Is there
                    then no requirement? Or is the
                    requirement faith? perfect
                    faith with nothing attached
                    purposely or unintentionally?
                    Is imperfect falliable faith
                    good enough? I guess it's a
                    stupid question because
                    if it's not then we are all
                    doomed because all that God
                    is gonna get from imperfect
                    falliable humans is imperfect
                    falliable faith. What do you think?

                    > HTH and please follow up with any other insights, questions, etc.

                    What is HTH? Sorry there
                    are alot of these abrev.
                    that I am not familiar with.
                    Thanks for your thoughts and
                    insights. I appreciate it!

                    Connie
                  • Stephen Shields
                    You wrote:
                    Message 9 of 9 , May 31 6:32 PM
                    • 0 Attachment
                      You wrote:

                      <<So then what is the requirement
                      for me to have God's righteousness?
                      You have made it clear that
                      it is not works. Is there
                      then no requirement? Or is the
                      requirement faith? perfect
                      faith with nothing attached
                      purposely or unintentionally?
                      Is imperfect falliable faith
                      good enough? I guess it's a
                      stupid question because
                      if it's not then we are all
                      doomed because all that God
                      is gonna get from imperfect
                      falliable humans is imperfect
                      falliable faith. What do you think?>>

                      There are two passages I like from the Gospels that encourage me that Jesus
                      definitely accepts our faith even when it's imperfect.

                      One is Matthew 13:55-58

                      Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and
                      they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous
                      powers?" they asked.
                      "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't
                      his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
                      Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these
                      things?"
                      And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown
                      and in his own house is a prophet without honor."
                      And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

                      Here we see that Jesus seems to limit what he does depending on whether or
                      not he see faith.

                      But compare this passage with

                      Mark 9:14-25

                      When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them
                      and the teachers of the law arguing with them.
                      As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and
                      ran to greet him.
                      "What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.
                      A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is
                      possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.
                      Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth,
                      gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the
                      spirit, but they could not."
                      "O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you?
                      How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
                      So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy
                      into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the
                      mouth.
                      Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From
                      childhood," he answered.
                      "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do
                      anything, take pity on us and help us."
                      "`If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
                      Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my
                      unbelief!"
                      When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil
                      [1] spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of
                      him and never enter him again."

                      The thing that is striking here is that even though Jesus seemed to limit
                      what he would do if he saw no faith, he also would respond to imperfect or
                      struggling faith!

                      See also Matthew 11:1-11

                      After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from
                      there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. [1]
                      When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples
                      to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone
                      else?"
                      Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
                      The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy [2] are
                      cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to
                      the poor.
                      Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
                      As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about
                      John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the
                      wind?
                      If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those
                      who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.
                      Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a
                      prophet.
                      This is the one about whom it is written: "`I will send my messenger ahead
                      of you, who will prepare your way before you.' [3]
                      I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone
                      greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven
                      is greater than he.

                      What seems to be happening is that John while in prison is doubting whether
                      Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus - thru John's messengers - assures him
                      that he is the Messiah. And then as Jesus sends them he away, he turns
                      right around and begins to praise John as the greatest of all those born of
                      women!

                      I like to say that faith is binary. It's either there or it isn't, it's on
                      or it's off, it's a 0 or it's a 1. Sometimes I suspect that this is what
                      Jesus was talking about when he talked about Mustard Seed Faith (very small)
                      accomplishing great things (see Matthew 17:20). We either act as if
                      something is true or we act as if something is false. The man with the
                      disturbed son chose to go to Jesus or he could have stayed home. John could
                      have chosen to worry away in prison or he could have chosen to send someone
                      to talk to Jesus. For these men, faith had legs. It reflected a choice to
                      move toward Jesus.

                      Perhaps the doubt that's best expressed is expressed to Jesus Himself!
                      Doubt wins when it paralyzes and we do nothing. Faith might as well be 0 in
                      that case.

                      <<What is HTH?>>

                      Sorry! It means "Hope this Helps!"

                      For a list of other common internet abbreviations, look at

                      http://netforbeginners.about.com/internet/netforbeginners/library/weekly/aa0
                      63099.htm?rnk=r8&terms=Internet+Abbreviations

                      HTH (Hope this helps)! Feel free to keep the dialogue going!

                      Stephen Shields
                      Cedar Ridge Community Church
                      stephens@...
                      http://www.crcc.org
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