The past three parts have all talked about my experiences, and this one will not be different. I might begin once again by saying that I do not look at these experiences as proof of anything, at least not to anyone but myself. However, I do believe they have put me into a mindset that makes me begin with the assumption that there is a God, that that God does relate to us in some way. This will be the last post that talks about things in a more subjective manner. After this post I will begin to talk about the logical reasons why I believe in God (to support my subjective reasons0 and why I believe in the person of Jesus as opposed to all of the other faith choices. That will take some time. And I will end with my defense against some of the critiques against theism, and Christianity in general.
So, in quick summation: I had a weak theistic upbringing, with a significant but not compelling experience during my youth. Then I had a very significant experience of community, and a sensual drawing towards a commitment to Jesus and God, to which I made a leap of faith, and was met with what felt like an agreeable internal reaction.
Then I began to do the stuff you are supposed to do as a Christian, (atleast the stuff I had imagined, or was being taught). I read the bible, I prayed, I went to church, and I preached to others. I stopped doing a lot of the "bad things" I did before, basically partying and sex, and other selfish acts, and tried to be a better person. As I did these things, I felt more and more peace in my mind. I felt a better awareness of who I was, and who I was meant to be. I experienced a deeper care for other people, and I began to feel like I was physically and mentally closer to what I had come to determine was the spiritual center (God) of my experience.
As I tried to do what the bible seemed to teach, it seemed true to me. As I began to look at the teachings, and actions of Jesus, it made more and more sense. I also began to read books that helped me look at the defenses of the faith, and the bible, but I will talk about those later. I felt like God had reached out to me, I felt like I had touched a part of the Spirit, and I knew my life was being altered, I subjectively assume that this was from outside influence, and not just church culture, as I can tell you, the further I go in this journey the less the church in general supports the direction I am going.
Which leads us to some other experiences. Again let me point out that I do not expect you to take these things as proof, they didn't happen to you, they are not repeatable, nor verifiable, but they are my experiences. As they are my experiences, I believe it would be intelectually dishonest to deny them.
I began to be a part of many things, that could be called miraculous, or supernatural. I do not talk about them often, and some I will only tell certain people. The proliferation of people like Benny Hinn, and Robert Tilton have made me more and more committed to allowing these things to stay quiet. I have seen first hand, significant healings, food multiplied, and words of knowledge (knowing things you have no way of knowing). I have experienced spiritual attack (yes demons). And the most significant is seeming to have wisdom that just "comes to me" when it is needed. I do not want to dwell on these things, and they are very sacred to me, so please lets keep any discussion respectful and not too prying.
In my life I feel like I have actually heard God's voice outloud a couple of times, but feel like I hear God's voice often in subtle whispers in my mind, through the pages of scripture, in dreams, and through loved ones. One particular story I will share with you, it isn't a really big deal, but it was a big deal to me:
A woman who was a devout Christian was at my school's wrestling meet to watch her son. He was on the Junior Varsity team, and of course she stayed to watch the varsity team as well, which I was on. When she saw me, she immediately felt like God spoke to her saying, "this one I have set aside for the ministry" After the meet she tried to get to me to tell me what she had heard. But for whatever reason, she was not able to reach me. She asked her son on the way home if I was a Christian, and he told her he didn't think so. The truth was if she would have told me, I would have thought she was a looney (as some of you probably do right now).
Probably three or four years later I was going to church, was in training to become a minister, but was having some doubts. I was wondering if I was not qualified, and was actually having a bit of a crisis of faith, not doubting God, but wondering about myself, my life, and my place in the church. I visited a big mega church that seated about 3,000 people, on a Sunday night. The woman just happend to go that Sunday night to take her daughter and a few of her friends (she usually didn't go, like myself) and wound up seated directly behind me. When the service was over she asked if I was Jensen (she didn't even know my first name) I said yes, and she told me what she had heard, all those years earlier. This was so moving and important to me, as I was praying hard for God to help me, and lead me. There are just too many co-incedences in that story for me to discount it, and as I heard someone else say, "when I stop praying, the co-incedences stop happening).
When people ask why I believe in God, and specifically Jesus, my first answer is, "because I have found God, and Jesus, interacting within my life. I cannot deny these experiences, so I start there, but..."
The but leads us into the next section, reasons why my experiences make sense to me, and why I believe they are the rational outworkings of what is truth.