I grew up in a Christian home. However, I was 21 before I joined the Baptist Church and got "saved". Life was great and I was in love with my new savior. I jumped deep in the water of Christianity and it became my life for 13 years. I led Sunday School classes, became a deacon, led Men's retreat weekends, went witnessing during outreach and was an assistant part time pastor for a new Church Plant. I even felt called to the ministry full time and was planning on attending seminary to eventually start new churches in Canada. I was the Christian everyone looked up to. I was the guy who would have taken the bullet to the head, if asked to deny Christ or die.
When I started having doubts:
I guess it got started after the demise of a church plant that I was involved in. I had a man that told me it was God’s will that he start this church. Also, God gave him a vision that this church was going to grow into an equipping center that would start churches world wide. Well, this person had zero people skills, so the church never got off the ground. At first, I just assumed that the church planter had just simply missed his calling.
At the same time, I had just finished up a building project for the host church that was sponsoring the church plant. By trade I work construction, so I was excited to use my God given skills to help with the construction of the new sanctuary. During the 18-month planning and construction time, there were heated debates on which architect to use, the selection of the contractor, how much we were spending on the audio visual equipment, etc-etc-etc. During some of these meetings, the attitude became less than Christian like. However, to resolve our differences we decided to pray and seek God’s direction. At the next meeting we would come together, discuss the options, make some compromises and finally come to a decision. One major decision was the decision of the Architect. The team had basically decided on one man, because he had designed and built a large mega-church in our area. However, I discovered that a few years after he built the church in our area, he spent some time in prison for his actions in the Jim Bakker Christian theme park scandal. The team was pushing that we needed to extend Christian forgiveness and that God was telling them he was the man for our building. During the decision time, I voted for another Architect, but the majority won and we went ahead with this individual.
The plans came in and he did a pretty good job. I decided that my determination of God’s will was wrong. The plans went out for bid for the construction part of our campaign. The same individual was on the bidders list. In all my experience of construction, we never advocate for the architect to be part of the construction team. One major role of the architect is to keep the contractor in check. With this scenario, I was worried we would lose some accountability. However, the bids came in and the architect was the low bidder.
I asked myself, why did we get into this mess when we were all praying for God to show us his direction? Where was the Holy Spirit??I decided to do some digging on this individual and I discovered this person did not even have an architectural or contractors license in our state. When I presented this information to the team and informed them we had to throw out his bid, some were very upset. I also let them know he had another architect that was licensed, stamp our set of plans and that was illegal. We were then faced with having paid him a lot of money and maybe not being able to even use the plans for construction.
In the end we were able to use the plans and the 2nd lowest contractor was selected for construction, after more prayer of course.
However, the church did have to hire another architect to oversee construction and they spent a lot of extra money when everything was said and done. At that moment came the first crack in my salvation. I asked myself, why did we get into this mess when we were all praying for God to show us his direction? Where was the Holy Spirit??
The next dent in my Christian armor was the fact my two boys were having nightmares. My oldest son who was five at the time, asked that we pray that God would give them good dreams. I prayed a sincere prayer asking God to protect them in the night. When I walked out of the room I had no doubt that my Lord was watching over them as we slept. However, at 2:00 in the morning he comes crying that the bad guys were trying to get them. As I tucked him back in the bed he asked me, “Why did God not give me good dreams?” I did not have a good answer to give him. For several months I started processing why did God not give him good dreams? After all, he is just a child.
These issues drove me back to some unanswered prayers, or “No” answers from God from years past. Flashing back came several memories.
The first was after a close family member was raped. I prayed for the man to be caught. Not, so I could kill him or have the opportunity to severely hurt him. I wanted him off the streets so this would not happen to another woman, another family. In the end he was never caught or prosecuted.
Then I remembered when I was in a tough financial situation. I was losing my house to foreclosure. Prior to this happening, I was praying and I thought God told me that my wife needed to quit her job and stay home with our first son. I knew that God would provide and we were being obedient. We were faithful in our tithes and services to the church. However, the unexpected check never arrived and we lost the home.
The next, "No" was when I thought God was asking me to become a church planter in Canada. For this to happen, I needed to go back to school to finish my undergraduate degree. I needed my undergraduate so I could attend Seminary. I knew that God was able to provide for this huge expense, so I decided to take out student loans and wait for the miracle of someone paying them off. Before I deconverted, I never made it to seminary because I was writing a student loan check each month.
Around the same time I started having doubts our house was broken into and pretty much everything of value was taken. However, the only thing I prayed to be returned was my computer. I asked all of my church friends and family to pray for the return of the computer. I was not too upset over the the computer. However there were years of digital pictures stored on the hard drive. I knew that we had lost first steps, birthdays, Christmas mornings, etc... However, to date nothing was ever recovered.
All of these doubts and memories began to really shake my confidence in my Creator, my Savior, my first love, My personal God -- the one who holds all things together. I began to pray for God to restore the doubts of my salvation. I begged for God to renew within me a steadfast spirit. I longed to come back to the God of whom I knew as the cornerstone of my life. However, it seemed like there was no answer on the other line. I waited and waited some more. I prayed and prayed some more. Still, nothing but silence. It was only after months of silence did I see the crack of lost faith begin to widen. Deep within me is the desire to search for truth. I decided to use my logic to examine the history of Christianity and the Bible. It was hard to truly look at the evidence without any sense of bias -- simply look for truth.
Like many of you, this search for truth led me from Christianity, to Deism, to simply "Ex-Christian". The process was two years of living Hell, no pun intended. However, now I am grateful to be on the other side!
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