This is the third installment in this little series about my neurosurgeon friend recommending to me a book by Richard Dawkins (Part 1, Part 2). I am going to get ahead of myself just a bit with this particular post. There are other specific things that I will address most likely sometime next week concerning those who are trending toward atheism.
One of the chief reasons that I cannot buy into the concept of atheism is because of what I have been associated with for my entire life. I have been an eyewitness to the transforming power of the grace of God and the Gospel. My father-in-law started the church that I now pastor 43 years ago and over that course of time I have only been absent from it for 3 years when I was a kid because of a job transfer that my dad took in Niceville, Florida. Another three year absence occurred from 1989-1992 when I went to Texas Bible College in Houston, Texas. Other than these two times, I have been actively involved in our church.
So when Richard Dawkins gets on his podium to lecture about the fact that there is no God, I don’t get angry with him, I feel more of a profound sadness than any other emotion. It is simply for the fact that he has never been exposed to a side of “religion” that I grew up with.
This brings me to a short point today. If there is no God then how do you explain to me, logically, clearly, and rationally the power of transformation that I have witnessed in a whole lot of lives over the forty year history of our church? I have seen some of the dregs of society come into our church and God totally change them. I have witnessed marriages that were in shambles and family situations that were in total chaos come in and God step in and turn it around. We have former alcoholics, dopers, meth heads, down-and-outers, and up-and-outers experience God’s grace. They all walked away from lifestyles that were highly sinful and detrimental with hardly a backward look. I also have to tell you that there have been others who came in and did not make and slipped back out into horrific and painful situations. But I await Dawkins’ and anyone else’s explanation as to how these sorts of things take place.
One of my favorite stories to tell is how that my father-in-law went into a bar one Saturday and pulled someone out of the muck. Robert Redden was an alcoholic and a troubled man. For several Saturdays in a row, my father-in-law went by to try to get Robert to come to church on Sunday but he would never be there. One Saturday, he asked Pat (Robert’s wife) where he was and she told him the bar that he was at. So my father-in-law drove down to the bar and went in and sat down next to Robert while he was tanking up. Robert was stunned that a pastor would walk into a place like that and next thing you know, Robert is crying and pouring his heart out to my father-in-law. The next day Robert was in church with his wife and kids. God has worked incredibly through their lives over the years. Keep in mind, that there are many others in our congregation that the same thing has taken place in their lives.
We have had the gamut of people to come through over the years. Some of these folks were so scary that when I was praying for them, I had one hand on their head and the other on my billfold in my back pocket just in case they were pick-pocket artists! I have had people tell me, “You’re the last ditch effort for our marriage!” as if I were the one who could fix the problem. It is those moments that the sensible thing to do is let God begin to do His work in their lives. . . the God that Richard Dawkins says does not exist! Mr. Dawkins and my neurosurgeon friend are too late. . . I’ve already seen too much!
As earlier promised, I am going to pick back up with the academic side of the argument next week, but as a concluding point, I am attaching a video of the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church choir who won the Verizon Wireless “How Sweet the Sound” national choir competition. For them it was more than just a competition. . . It was God working through them because I have no doubt that there are some testimonies behind the faces that are in the choir. At the end, you will find yourself exposed to a small taste of what goes on in a lot of Pentecostal churches every Sunday night across the country. . .
God Bless and thanks for reading. . . .
Thursday, December 31, 2009
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