I Despise Christianity
Matter of fact, it’s what I would have said 5 years ago…10 years ago…25 years ago.
Not only is it what I would have said, it’s what I’ve actually said…on many occasions. With enthusiasm.
Jesus, thank you for forgiving me for my arrogance.
Growing up, as a kid in Cranberry Pa, I was lucky enough to have the ideal family.
Mom & Dad were both teachers. I have 2 older brothers. We didn’t have much as far as money was concerned…but we had love.
We went to church & Sunday school on occasion. Enough to get a grip on the basics.
I believe that the first 12 years of my life were as close to Heaven on Earth as one could experience.
“Will, your Dad is dead”.
I can hear those words in my mind as if they were spoken this morning. I was in 7th grade & my Dad was my homeroom teacher & my history teacher.
Dad never smoked or drank and he was a lifelong athlete.
He died of a heart attack at age 45 while turkey hunting.
We were “comforted” by friends and church members at the funeral by explaining how this was all just a part of God’s great plan.
These same church members were non-existent within a couple weeks of Dad’s death. We stopped going. Out of sight…out of mind, welcome to life.
In a nut shell, my teen years consisted of a mix of an extremely high feeling of protectiveness for my Mom and a supernatural level of rage towards just about everything else.
The following 2 statements became the foundation for a lifetime of empty success:
-Do it on your own because no one else will be there for you.
-I’m right. I’m better than you. And I will be either respected or feared…or both.
I left for the USMC the day after I graduated from high school in 1988.As a point of advice to one who might be considering military service : I can say nothing but good things about the U.S. Marine Corps or any of the other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. They are all excellent organizations filled to the brim with intelligent young men and women who personify the absolute pinnacle of "all things good" with our nation's character.
I do not, however, recommend that you consider missing your connecting flight to boot camp because you are 18 years old and drinking in the airport bar in Charlotte, NC. I can assure you that the Drill Instructors at Parris Island, SC will be less than understanding when you arrive.
To make a long story short, the first several years of my time in the USMC were stellar. The bottom line is that I excelled. I was referred to as “The Golden Child”.
Then, in 1992, Mom was diagnosed w/Leukemia. Mom fought the good fight and was in and out of remission…but On Dec 3rd, 1993 I was sat down and told:
“Son, it’s about your Mom, she passed away”
I've been told that her last few minutes were anything but peaceful. I've been told that, before she died, she lay in her hospital bed screaming about the pain in her head. "Make it stop, make it stop. It hurts, it hurts." These are the quotes I was eventually given.
No matter how hard I search for words to explain the depth of anguish I felt...I come up empty. But the moral of the story is that I attended yet another funeral.
Yet again, I was “comforted” w/how this was a part of God’s plan.
My complete & total burning hatred of all things Christian was complete.
My guttural desire to honor the memory of my parents was also sealed. I would simply be the best at everything I did…and I would destroy anyone who dared compete w/me.
I can summarize 1993-2006 as follows:
Started by living in a 20 year old rented double-wide….
I went on to serve as a Drill Instructor at Paris Island.
After a few years as a successful DI, I left the Marine Corps to open an extremely successful martial arts school in SC.
I then moved on to real estate and investment in 1998.
Within a very short time I became one of the top producing agents in our area of SC.
The net result of all this?
Blah, Blah, Blah. Brag. Brag. Brag.
I no longer demanded the respect of others. I now demanded their worship. That’s the cold hard truth. Worship me or fear me.
Despite an extremely high level of financial success and a very loving family…we were miserable. Something was missing.
“Emptiness” and a longing for “something more” were etched upon the souls of my family and me.
In short, what we felt we needed was to be “home”.
So, in May of 2006 we moved back to NW Pa.
A Bit of Backtracking…1993-2006
While I think I’ve made it clear that I considered Christianity to be totally bogus, I’ve always believed that a “higher power” certainly existed.
Reading has always been one of my gifts.
So, especially after the death of my Mom, I set off on a quest for truth.
Not only did I read non-stop…but if I wasn’t reading, I was listening to an audio-book. And always on religion.I’ve studied Buddhism, Islam, Deism, Hinduism, Quantum Physics, Gnosticism, Spiritualism, Wicca and more…about as much as any layman can.
I was most drawn to Wicca. With its eclectic emphasis on “all paths lead to the same center” and reverence for nature…it seemed like the ideal choice. The fact that Christians likely despised it above all others was another big plus.
But, deep inside, a part of me always considered all of the above to be a bit, well…goofy.
Jesus gets my attention
In May of 2006, a couple things happened at the same time:
1.) We moved to Pa
2.) Christ made me reluctantly hungry to study Christianity .
In a nutshell, here’s what happened from May ’06 to May ’07:
1.) I became a Realtor here in the Erie area in order to support my family.
2.) I began aggressively studying Christianity.
(At the time I justified it to myself ast "know thy enemy".)
However, by June of 2007, I was very close to accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.
But, I fought an internal dilemma.
Basic Internal Conflict:
I was becoming a Believer.
But, I was afraid.
I was afraid because I’d read so much about so many systems of belief that I feared that I would “Say the Magic Prayer”…and the find myself constantly questioning my decision.
So, in short, I wanted to believe, but my mind was being over analytical”.
“What if-this” and “What-about-that”
I didn’t want to “Believe” and then constantly draw on “intelligent” reasons not to believe.
So, late one night, I signed on to a Christian discussion board on the internet.
My question to the board: “In my HEART, I want to believe…but I’m afraid that my INTELLECT won’t allow me. I don’t want to spend my life second guessing myself”.
(Please remember this exact wording. I can only assure you that it was the EXACT wording of my question. You'll see it again shortly)
I instantly received a response from a board member:
1 Cr 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, he taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
Shudders ran down my spine. The hair on my arm stood up. In one instant, I was confronted with the Truth after a lifetime of rage. Tears came to my eyes. I knew. I’d always known…I just choose to ignore.
But, in perfect “fallen” tradition, for some reason, I still wasn’t quite ready. I decided to sleep on it.
The next day I was excited inside. I KNEW that God had brought me to this point. All day I considered if I was REALLY ready to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.
That night, we had Chinese for dinner. Please understand that, at this point, my family did NOT know I was even considering Christianity.
After dinner, I stepped into the backyard. Standing there alone, I was deep in thought over the “message” I had received on the Christian discussion board the night before.
Suddenly, my 8 year old daughter appeared at my side. She simply said “Here Dad”, handed me a small slip of paper & walked back inside.
It was the fortune from her fortune cookie. I keep that fortune in my Bible today.
That small slip of paper handed to me by my un-knowing 8 year old daughter read:
“THE HEART IS WISER THAN THE INTELLECT”.
I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.
Looking back, I can honestly say that I had spent decades squandering my spiritual gifts towards the goal of promoting only myself. I feel as if I have wasted a large portion of my life on self-promotion and rage towards my fellow man and towards God.
So, feeling that I really needed to learn to serve God as opposed to serving myself, I took a break from real estate and spent a couple years serving in full-time volunteer ministry with Grace Church in Erie, Pa and then spent about 6 months serving as a pastor with the local Salvation Army.
After this journey, it became apparent to my family that "We had needed to come here...in order to go back". And, obviously, I needed to support my family.
So we made the decision to return to the town we loved, Beaufort, SC and re-enter the local real estate market.
But now, it's in the right perspective. It's still to support my family. It's still to do the best I possibly can for my clients.
But I now know what to put first.So now, regardless of if I live one more day or 50 more years; I now dedicate my life, first and foremost, to serving & promoting the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Great to hear from you!
First know that I am not a Pastor. I have no formal Bible school training.
But, I am now a Christian...and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.
I've put my response under each of your initial questions.
1.) Question: Do you truly believe the market as you say "decimated" simply because of your lack of "faith".
Answer: Wow, that's a really great question (name removed). It never occurred to me that it might sound that way from my testimony...but you're right, it does kind of come across that way.
But the answer is - No. No, absolutely not. In no way do I feel that God might crash a global market as a way to straighten out my personal lack of faith.
BUT, I do believe that God has a way of taking care of both "big picture stuff" on a universal scale...while also still being able to love us each dearly and individually.
So, while He most certainly did not "crash the market" for my personal growth, he absolutely did use that crash as a convenient means to get my attention.
2.) Question: "Is your god punitive?"
Answer: Another great question. I'd be a liar if I said I haven't also wrestled with aspects of this one.
But my answer here is no. No, I do not believe that God is punitive. I do however believe that God is just.
Hear me out on this one:
Smarter people than I have said that "cold" does not truly exist. What we call "cold" is really not a condition at all because you can reach a point of "it not getting any colder".
There is an absolute limit to "cold".
That's because "cold", in all reality, is simply the absence of "warmth".
The one true God is everything "right", everything "just", everything "good", everything "joyful", everything "love" and everything "the way it should be in a perfect world".
So, for the sake of my answer, I'll call God - "Warmth".
And I'll call "cold" - everything "wrong", "unjust", "bad", "sad", "angry", "hateful" and "the way things are in a fallen world".
So, the further we get away from the "warmth" of God....the "colder" we get.
My best understanding of Hell is best described as being 100% separated from God. The TOTAL removal of even the slightest trace of anything "right, just, good, love and the way it "should" be".
I'm pretty sure that it was C.S. Lewis who said something along the lines of:
In the end, God has let us choose, it's either WE say to Him:
"Thy Will Be Done." (I'll embrace YOU Lord and allow you to embrace me.)
Or after He's tried and tried and tried to allow us to rest in his embrace and we've ignored every attempt, he finally gives us what we wanted and allows us to push him completely away, and HE says to us:
"Thy will be done"......leaving us to ourselves, in the "cold" of his absence.
I don't call that punitive.
3.) Question: Everyone has pain, everyone has challenge, everyone seeks comfort.
Answer: I agree, I agree, I agree. We live in a world SATURATED with pain, sorrow, greed, pride and emptiness. Mankind tries and tries again to "solve" these problems to no avail.
On both a global level and on an individual level, we are so screwed up it's pitiful.
BUT, I offer that every single human who has ever taken a breath feels that "This is just not how it's supposed to be." We have a "gut feeling" on our deepest level that things are "wrong" and that things are just simply not "the way they should be."
We're sinners. Fully aware of being screwed up. Fully aware of our "wrongness" on both a global AND personal level....yet incapable of making things right ourselves.
BUT, if I sit down and read the Bible, let's say the "Sermon On The Mount" in the Book of Matthew chapters 5-7, I'll come away with a incredible feeling of "This is how it's SUPPOSED to be, if we could just all TRULY live by these Words, the world WOULD be a perfect place.
How can I KNOW that, yet still be incapable of such perfection.
For me that's proof. Proof of our fallen stature.
One of my beliefs in regards to pastors, ministers, etc....They are and have always been leaders. They are charismatic, charming, and humorous. They have an immense need for an audience.
They are performers.
Do you not wonder that this new found stage for you is another one in which you wish to succeed beyond what others expect?
I beleive that the capacity for sin in the form of pride is always there and must be constantly guarded against.
I pray every day that God keeps me humble and that anything I say, do or write is only for the purpose of glorifying Him and never myself.
I've lived that life and don't want it back.
All of the Pastors I know are the most genuine, kind and humble people I've ever met.
If I'm being honest, I feel like your description of them is a bit of a caricature as opposed to a reality.
But, either way, I don't worship Pastors.
I don't worship myself.
I don't want anyone worshiping a Pastor.
I damn sure don't want anyone worshiping me.
And if/when I ever deviate from that perspective, knowing or unknowing,
I pray that God picks me up, slams me on my head....and bounces me three times across the floor.
However, I would caution against being overly judgmental, of always looking outward at the evil that surrounds you.
You'll always find it..because we are ALL sinners, incapable of perfection.
I think it's wise to focus inward on your own transgressions with a desire to "fix".
Spend time in God's word. He uses it to speak to us.
And simply do your best to show love to everyone else.
Because they are just as screwed up as we are.
5.) Question: Your quest for knowledge and answers to what was obviously a trying time in your life ended with this new found religion?
Answer: No. My quest for knowledge and answers will likely never be over until the day I die.
I'm nowhere near perfect.
My past puts a capital "S" in Sin and then makes it cringe.
I continue to fight my own demons on a daily basis.
I fail more than I succeed.
I think way too much about "my own world" and no where near enough time "loving my neighbor".
So my quest for knowledge and answers will go on.
However, my quest for peace has ended...and in a happy way. But not in any "new found religion", it's in finding a personal relationship with Christ that grows stronger every day through prayer, reading His Word and appreciating the fact that he embraces and forgives me despite my many imperfections.
Coming to Christ does not mean I suddenly have all the answers.
It does mean that I finally know where to look for them.
Question: I am angry. Not at you or your experience but at the general belief.
Answer: It's OK to be angry at God. It's OK to have doubts. It's OK to have confusion. That's called being a human...especially when that human is in a period of anguish.
For what it's worth, my advice would be to engage God. Pray. Tell God what's on your mind. Tell him that you're mad at him, tell him why. Tell him that you doubt, tell him why. Tell him that you're sad, that you're confused. Don't hold back your punches, let it all out...over and over. Yell, Scream, Kick.
Jacob wrestled with God. So did Job. So do we. God doesn't seem to mind being wrestled with.
Because even that brings us closer to God and his warmth.
My opinion is that this sometimes seems like the catalyst for us being able to begin to grow even closer to God...and to really be able to come out of the cold and begin feeling the true warmth of his embrace.
I'm so sorry for the pain, the anguish, the anger, the resentment and the confusion that you feel.I know it sounds goofy. I know it sounds "canned".
But Jesus really does love you.
And (name removed), so do I.
"I wonder..you write of a time of prosperity, power, and control..why didn't you seek your God then?"
I should have made this more clear in my testimony....I did.
I was still "at the top of my game" when I first began to seek God.
It was about two months later that everything began to spiral down from a fiscal perspective.
For the record, as of this date, fiscal matters continue to spiral down.
But that's OK.
In hindsight, I really think it also took that "fiscal spiral" for me to begin trying to get my ego in check and learning to trust in Christ as opposed to only myself.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.(ESV)
Friday, September 19, 2008
This is just your typical "I faced great hardship and eventually just accepted that God isn't really mean and cruel, he has a plan for me" nonsense. You were right to begin with. Either God doesn't exist at all, or if he does, he is a spiteful, evil a-hole that doesn't deserve to be worshiped. Enjoy your new crutch.
Blogger Will McCullough said...
Sounds like you have some pain of your own. I'm very sorry. I just ask that you please hear me out for a minute.
Having previously shared your perspective for decades, I can relate to your rage.
In fact, I’d say that therein lies the “proof”.
Think about it from the perspective of an unbiased observer:
On one side we have a grown man, father of two, etc…expressing his inner heartfelt pain to the world at how his parents were ripped from him at an early age. He’s expressing to the world what affect that had on him. He’s doing it in a way that is only critical of himself. He’s voicing no judgment of others.
But because he mentions Christ, because he credits Christ with finally giving him peace on this matter:
It creates a rage in a young man sitting half a world away at 1:00 AM, who’s only instinctive reaction to hearing this story of pain( followed by hope) is to spew venom and ridicule.
So if I, as a hypothetical unbiased observer, read both the story and your comment, I can then ask myself a question:
Which story instinctively makes one feel better, more complete as a human, more hopeful, more uplifted? Kind of like “This is how it’s supposed to be.”
Which story incites rage and anger (regardless of which side of the coin you personally come down on.) It might be anger to defend my point or yours…but it incites anger regardless.
Proof. Proof of our fallen stature.
I’m sorry but anger and rage are the language of satan. And you are acting as his puppet whether you believe in him or not.
I’d respectfully ask that you consider self-analyzing why you would be so quick to respond w/such venom to such a non-adversarial story.
I know this will come off as condescending…and it’s really not meant that way. But honestly, I’d ask you to consider trying to pray about it. Just you and God in private. No one will ever know. You might just get a surprise.
But I will pray for you either way. I will pray that Christ makes himself known to you in a tangible and dramatic way.
I also forgive you for making light of the situations surrounding the pain of the loss of my parents. I really do.
One last question, I respectfully ask you to monitor how you’ve felt in reading this. If your instinctive gut reaction is one of defensiveness or anger – I’d ask you to really think hard about where (or from whom) that is coming from.
Mat 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. (ESV)
John 15:19-21 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.