Why I love Jesus (excerpts)
Now a lot of my stuff on my links deals with philosophical and theological topics. Not to mention politics. ;) But this essay has more to do with how I feel about things personally.
On one hand I feel like God gave me a mind, so I try to use it to honor God to the best of my abilities and often get caught up in that.
But beneath all the talk; I wonder do people know where my heart is?
So I am trying to search myself to say what I have felt and what I feel. What drives me to get up every day.
But I really want to express the love and feelings that are inside me.
I grew up in a world that I should not have been allowed to survive in.( I had a heart condition and I had to have two forms of heart surgery as an infant.)
As a small child I had a lot of pride. I was good looking and confidant. I heard the stories of Jesus and how he was a great prophet. But then again, there were lots of Bible stories and other stories. I really felt that the death of Christ was wrong. He sounded like a good man, later I heard about the gospel. I didn’t like the devil and I liked God. I wanted to go to heaven and I did not want to go to hell. So it was an easy decision. I didn’t make it at church though. In fact my family stopped going before I came to faith in Christ. But I made the decision and talked to my parents before I made it and they gave me their testimonies. I decided I would be the best person I could be from then on out.
But life was not always fun and most of my life I always felt ostracized. I would get teased and picked on as I grew chubby. I also, obviously, was not the greatest at socializing.
I would spend huge amounts of time alone. At the playground I was by myself. I wend spend time in the back yard meditating. Soon my family began leaving me alone when they went out. All that time I had to myself I would use my imagination and fantasize and think about science and God.
During that time I never really understood that there was a contradiction between evolution and God. I was told about both sides. But it did not seem my responsibility to reconcile. Also I had not joined the church and become baptized. I had assumed that, that was my parents responsibility to tell me.
So I guess I was a nominal christian or “born-again’ I knew I had the responsibility of being a believer but did not know what that entailed. I tried to live right and be a good person. But some things I felt like were beyond me. Like witnessing to the lost, or giving a tithe or reading the Bible.
I would go to bible camp and liked it a lot; and then it would be back to secular living. “But I had a praying grandmother!” (a black gospel song, true in my life as well) and her and grandpa’s prayers were answered when my best-friend got me going to church.
In the middle of this I went to middle school. I was picked on pretty profusely, I was jumped on several occasions, I was cussed out constantly. I had my tooth knocked out on one occasion. There was a whole gym class(5 classes combined just over 180) and this one boy who would not only cuss me out and sometimes hit me. But he would get the whole class riled up and after cussing me out publicly, they would chant “fat Matt”
He would ask the whole gym “is any one this $#@&’s friend?!” you could hear the rumble of whispers as children would ask themselves. I would look desperately towards the guys who hung around and joked alongside me. They would tell me “I don’t have a problem with you but no, your not my friend.”
“Ha ha! You fat muth^%$&^! You ain’t got no friends! Your pathetic! Sh&*!”
“Fat Matt! [clap! clap!] Fat Matt! [clap! clap!] Fat Matt!!!”
Sometimes you have no relief. Sometimes there is nothing to welcome you but pain. When I was in elementary school I thought “Things are going to be different, when I get to middle school.” Well obviously though they were different; but they weren’t better.
Where was God? I never questioned that. If God is all-powerful how can my suffering kill him? The question of God’s existence was something that was presented to me in the form of atheism since the age of 6.
Naturalism was a doctrine that I had to struggle with in my young life. The idea that everything is materialistic and operates according tot he laws of nature. If I had bought into that doctrine, I probably would have killed myself. What point is there to life if it isn’t fun? My life wasn’t fun. I was indoctrinated to think that God had nothing to do with anything. (mostly in TV and studying science)
But ultimately all that life brought me was death. Dying was so scary. Because I was supposed to cease to exist. Life was a night mare.
So where was Jesus? Every time I heard about him I it would bring me joy. Every story taught was so great. Even when you hear a story that comes off negative you know in the end that it’s Jesus and every thing becomes so true and clear.
But a lie developed in my heart. “That was 2,000 years ago. If he didn’t love you, do you think he would have put it into John 3:16? That doesn’t make sense! “that whosoever believes (except Matt Singleton) may not perish but have everlasting life.”
Church was not the answer either. Getting used to being cussed out in a secular world gave me some bad habits. Also now that I had hit puberty I was made aware of all the new sexual rules. Alongside this is the fact that I did not feel accepted in church. Things didn’t work out at the first church I went to. So I went to another. It took youth at that church 9 weeks to say hi to me!
No, I had no problem understanding what many so-called Christians never realize. Church doesn’t save anybody. So I decided to put religion on the back-burner. I still attended. Only I did not try to be extra spiritual or anything. I felt like church going Christians were too holy to accept me. And generally I always felt alienated by them.
On the other hand the fact that I would not do drugs or drink or have sex before marriage alienated me from the secular world. I really noticed this when seeking a girlfriend. If I was the type to buy a girl alcohol or Weed, I would have found a girlfriend. Or if I was part of the church cliche' I may have had a girlfriend as well. But I had neither. Of course because of the abuse I assumed it was because of my weight. In recent years, I looked back at my high school pictures and am shocked at the fact that I was not nearly what I envisioned myself to be. I would see a picture of myself on the wrestling team and be shocked at development of my triceps and lats. Alas I never enjoyed my looks as I was constantly haunted by the middle school chants of “Fat Matt!”
I was obsessed with avenging my self and claiming some respect. I played football, wrestled, threw discus and shot-putt, trained in Tae Kwon Do, and power-lifted. I even started doing better in school and made the honor roll by junior year and kept that. But no matter how much I did, it was all conditional. People only care about you when you are doing something that serves their desire. Whether it was through entertaining or performance or intimidation or service. Eventually you get tired. Yet what happens when you are still empty. And what about grace? I used to have a vindictive attitude. I will be nice to you as long as you are nice to me. Well eventually, I couldn’t trust any friends ever.
I had also observed every group of people; but they had failings. The stoners, would destroy themselves. The nerds were disloyal, the jocks only cared about success. The popular people didn’t care about you. Every where I found, like Solomon, vanity or emptiness.
Somewhere in the middle of all this I found myself attending a charismatic service. An African lady was speaking in tongues. After her husband taught a powerful message on the beatitudes. “It should read “Oh the blessed” As in how blessed you will be if seek out Christ in this way!”
They had a line of people and the preacher (Dr. Qua) would pray and his wife would point her finger like a gun as she would speak in tongues. Unlike the TV, she did not seem erratic at all, she just seemed like she was speaking a foreign language. I was uncertain with whether this was biblical. But at this point I knew that it was time to really seek God. Was the lie true? Or Did Jesus love me personally? This was a blessing I needed in my heart. I needed to know if He really loved me. And He did. They did the laying down ritual after that. Honestly, I didn’t have to lay down, I could have kept standing. But I was overwhelmed, and I figured that was it the way they felt comfortable leaving me so I decided to oblige them. But I had experienced something incredible. Suddenly I had an experience that was unlike anything before. Suddenly I felt clean. I felt pure as if I was totally sinless. Not that I was in a literal way. But I felt sanctified because God let me know that he was present in my daily life. My friends went along with it at the time, but years later disavowed the whole thing, but I’ll never forget.
Suddenly, I was able to see things differently. I was able to see how people everywhere felt just as lost and empty as I did. Soon, God gave me a compassion for other people that I had not acquired otherwise.
Over time God, changed my heart and had me doing things that I thought I could never do. I would find the direction of my life over the next couple years turn towards ministry. Not instantly! My grandfather was a minister in Appalachia, and I knew first hand that real ministry has nothing to do with a nice job and a furnished home, that it was an ongoing sacrifice that pays in heaven and very little on the earth. I honestly wanted to live a comfortable life, try to be rich and famous and then afterword a generation or two, devote my life to this.
But God would take away my options and helped me realize that there is no purpose to living unless I was serving him.
My deconversion from evolution experience
As a child I had started getting and interest in science and technology early on. My parents got me a children's encyclopedia set when I was 6. Near the same time they got me a microscope. I loved zoology My favorite animal was the ant, So my parents would later get me an ant farm.
My family got away from church attendance for a period of several years. At the age of 7 I had decided to get saved Because I liked Jesus, I didn't like the devil And I wanted to go to heaven and I didn't want to go to Hell; So I asked Jesus to save my soul.
But while I was never an atheist I hit a period of existentialism. (not that I knew what that word meant!) Because I was taught through television that miracles never really happen and if someone says they are happening, then that person is crazy.
So God was someone I believed in, in my heart. But had little or nothing to do with reality. To my knowledge at this age I could be wrong for believing in God. Though I still gave Him my allegiance.
Science though was great and evolution was cool. The idea that one animal could change into another seemed to bring up endless possibilities. One core aspect of my science philosophy was a line from the movie "back to the future." "You know, if you put your mind to it; you can accomplish anything."
Even though miracles were strictly prohibited, science had little distinction between theory and fact. I understood the dinosaurs and evolutionary charts and geological ages to be facts just as strongly historical as Abraham Lincoln. (As a native of KY, I had visited tons of places Abe Lincoln lived as a child in Indiana and KY)
Evolutionists today argue that evolution was simply a way of understanding biology and nothing more. But this is not what I have found in my studies. More importantly is that it was not my experience. The narrative which I worked from was that everything began in a dot no bigger than the hole of a pen. Now I felt free to insert God as the maker of the dot. Yet that was the starting point. I recall in the cafeteria as a first grader telling the boys that I had discovered the secret of the universe. "matter and electricity" to which they replied "Bwahahahah!!!" You see, I was espousing a materialistic worldview. They thought I was insane because there was more to life than that. Recently I discovered a similar situation in philosophy. If you believe that all things are made of the same substance, or several substances for that matter. How can you prove it?
Without seeing the universe for yourself.
I loved science and I wanted to be a scientist one day. I would think of inventions that I wanted to invent. I thought of an undersea city to help with overpopulation basically a giant glass dome with a funnel for air. I thought of a flying Frisbee, it would operate much like today's remote control drones. One idea I really liked was that of a remote controlled hovering lawn mower, I even had it solar powered. (but solar energy wouldn't be strong enough. maybe vegetable oil or coal. ;) btw, this is when I was 8. )
One thing that concerned me though with the atheist worldview is that there is no after life. Your ID is annihilated. Life is whatever it is good or bad, there are no breaks. Death is inevitable. Sure people can wish that some techno-miracle happens, Yet it never seems to stop. People can talk about cryogenic freezing, but one fact I found out recently is that such freezing would ruin your chromosomes and you couldn't be reanimated regardless. Even if somehow, they found the technology to preserve human life, Do you think the common man would have access to it? One thing I noticed that the secular world was looking forward to was the invention of the flying car. Now one fact few people know is that they actually invented flying cars! But do we have them available? No! Because of economic abilities and corporate competition we have not had flying cars even though they exist. The same goes for many medical cures. To have an on going life you would have to have a miracle followed by a practical miracle; and another miracle if you want to live for ever. But yet another miracle because this would take centuries to happen even then in a world that is not supposed to have any miracles ever.
Will death be the way you want it? No matter how you plan it death can happen at any moment. You could get hit by a car or get a bizarre disease. You could be stuck as a paraplegic or quadriplegic all your life. What if you ended up in a bad government or you were made a prisoner of war? What if there is no escape? I would think about the Metallica song "one". Such a torturous end drags the patient to beg God for mercy. Many witnesses recall on sept. 11 at ground zero. Cries and wails over and over screaming "dear God! Oh Jesus!" Here was a city with a horrible reputation for corruption and infinitesimal population of Christians suddenly begging the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob and the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy as every philosophy was now failing them. As such pure atheism offered me no hope and I hope that the God whom I trusted in was the true Living God.
Well in the 4th grade I had my first crises as to the authority of science. I had been taught that atoms were the traditional 6 ringed symbol that we still use today. But then they told me that their new electron microscopes had shown that a real atom looked more like a a gray cloud. I was taught something scientific. I was taught something that was a hard science. I assumed that the scientist had already seen the atom and yet now they had seen something and it was different from what they taught as the truth. It was here that I learned that what science teaches is sometimes what people think instead of what actually is true.
Then at Bible camp (the only christian teaching I would receive for 5 years) we had a really good preacher come and speak. One day, he taught us that dinosaurs were in the Bible! (job 40:15-24"behemoth", 41 "leviathon" as well as other accounts of "dragons") One of the biggest reasons I assumed evolution was true, was because the dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. Now I discovered that the bible had an answer. These creatures could be part of the biblical history.( new translations try to re-translate these passages to other animals. But the animals never match the descriptions.)
As a middle schooler I was a victim of bullying on an extreme level. I had a large gym class with 180 kids(5 classes) where I would be picked on, jumped, cussed out spat upon etc. It was during this period that my evolutionary worldview was not helping things. If this life is hard to live, why live it? What is the point? Because there is nothing left to look forward to. I knew several kids who go on to drug abuse and eventually suicide. Because life was too hard. Much of the music from the grunge era resembled this. A really good portrayal of this situation can be found in the movie "Pump up the Volume" with Christian Slater. Where the rebel DJ talks about the meaninglessness of Life from his naturalistic standpoint. A caller then calls in and says he will commit suicide. But the young DJ laughs it off as not serious. Only to learn that it was real. Also an overachieving girl at school took all her trophies and blew them up as she had no drive for all the pressure that she was under.
Also at this time period I got the big proof of human evolution. Piltdown man. A half human half monkey fossil if there ever was one. The picture was obviously half human and half monkey and the fossil had a jaw that was so deep and not like a normal human and yet the skull seemed so human. the drawings said it best. If ever there was one, this was the evolutionists smoking gun.
Years later, I had came to an observation. There were many mutations out there. I was a big fan of freak shows, which was a part of my evolutionary/science fiction paradigm. The right mutation would one day lead into the next evolutionary leap. As opposed to being the down fall and curse of health. But Piltdown man could very well have been a mutation and not the actual evolution of a species.
Once in Highschool, I was a thorough going fascist. Like Israel my motto was "never again", like Stone cold Steve Austin I proclaimed D.T.A "don't trust anybody". I came to believe in "might makes right". So I started taking Tae Kwon Do. then I joined the football team, the Wrestling team, the power-lifting team, and even threw discus and shot putt for the track team, if for only the chance to stay active.
The first year was shear torture but I would evolve into a powerful monster. My theistic evolution reinforced this idea. That God was cold and would give and take away life. So I would spend these years in the quest for respect. And pursuit of glory. Humanity was a competition, not a brotherhood.
After about 3 years this lead to a personal crises. The desire for respect never gets fulfilled. Years later I would read Herodotus histories. In which Xerxes the emperor of Persia, upon seeing his entire army and navy stretched out before him with every tribe and nation from the known world; stood up an wept like a baby. Why?? Because all that he had would one day die and there was nothing left to conquer.
Eventually I was in need for the Love of God because I could never find unconditional love anywhere else.
Well in HS science one day we had some experiments that were really depressing. I was in an environment science program in HS. We were to build a terrarium. Basically a little ecosystem in 2 liter. putting together plants and animals in a sustainable environment. Everyone's terrarium died within a weeks time except mine. I had a spider in with some bark. The spider lasted about 8 weeks! :) But, while I hope that it fed off the fungus. The truth is that this was very depressing to my evolutionary worldview. How could the earth just come up with every species from the rocks when we could not even design an eco-sytem?
I also started to noticed that the earth was not looking so chaotic anymore. The ecosystem shows that different species are dependent upon each other to survive, so they all have to be in place. But what does that have to do with survival of the fittest?
The cell was supposed to be simple but then we started getting new discoveries about the complexity of DNA In fact DNA is more complex than our machines, so wouldn't that show that there is an intelligent designer?
My Faith in God at this point was growing stronger. I had reached out to God and felt him moving in my life. I grew to have more love in my heart. My Old fascist mentality was slowly leaving me. I was attending church but had no family ties or core group of friends. So I was there only out of duty to God. But I started to pray more and get my prayers answered. I started to see how the christian way of life was more loving than the secular way of life. I had seen many youth take their bodes which we assumed were just chemical, and experiment on drugs, only to be driven into depression dysfunctional families and crime.
These were ideas that this time I was coming to by myself. But later I would find more clues. When I got to college it was a Christian University. Now, this did not mean it was all born-again people. There were plenty of atheists, Wiccans, homosexuals etc. But now the classes ended in prayer and there were ministries on campus.
Now this school did teach evolution and it did not teach that the Bible had no error. In fact it taught my parents evolution when they attended. But I had made my decision to follow Christ and I was now committed. Prior to attending college I was getting very serious into martial arts training. I had acquired my black belt and studied books on other martial arts as well. In fact I took a course on tai chi while at Campbellsville. So naturally I would find out about pantheism. I started toying with the teachings of a universal oneness. I had gained great control over my body through martial arts and I would study a variety of exercises. During those 2 summers I was a life guard and would practice a great deal of swimming.
One day at the pool I was doing various exercise in the water. I learned how to relax my body and float. It was very peaceful and I would meditate on being one with my environment. So I floated along the water in a state of serenity. Then finally, it hit me "klunk!!" My head hit the pool wall. I was not one with the pool wall!! And there went the ideology of monism!
One scientific discovery that I was made aware of about this time was the invention of artificial oil, coal and diamonds. Now this was extremely significant to me. Scientists said it took millions of years for these things to form. Yet humans could form these in a very short period of time. If humans can form something that appears to be millions of years old in a short period of time... Why couldn't God?
Then I was taking a course in the History of Western Art. Then all of the sudden the professor asked a question that was extremely bizarre. "How many people in here believe in dragons?" Nobody would dare raise their hands, I even heard a few snickers. Something in me wanted to raise my hand remembering the sermon by preacher Dave at Bible Camp, yet I did not. "Well, they are real!" "Virtually every ancient civilization has paintings of dragons in historical records alongside other non-fictional animals." The professor went on to say that he believed they were breeds of today's Komodo dragons. Of course this got my mind racing "perhaps" I thought science is confused and everything fits into the Bible's History..
Well, I would grow closer in my walk with God. I felt the call from God to become a minister and even took a missionary trip to Northern Ireland.(this was during the time when there was fierce division). Unfortunately many of my scholarships did not turn over and I would not be able to take another year at the university.
During this time I finally put it upon myself to read all the way through the scriptures. The energy of my fellow missionaries inspired me and I read through the entire Bible in 5.5 months! One major discovery was the amount of passages where the Old Testament predicts everything in the New. How would a book for people who don't believe in Jesus constantly prophecy about Jesus unless it was made by God and not the Jews? It was here that I began to realize the supernatural power of the Bible!
So I went on to Bible college. This Bible college was particularly advanced because it was connected to one of the top protestant seminaries in the US.
It was quite a thrill to take classes at an institution where the scholars actually believed in the bible. I would learn systematic theology and philosophy and hermeneutics (Bible Interpretation.) And so many questions were answered. Now, I had a perspective and a standpoint to confront the issues of an atheistic worldview.
Now it was during this time period that evolution gave me it's greatest betrayal. I had found out the truth about Piltdown man. You see their were many drawings and models of Piltdown man. But the actual fossils were rarely on display. A paleontologist finally gave serious examination of the famous fossil. As he looked closely he noticed something odd. The teeth had been shaved down, someone had tampered with it! So He looked even harder; and along the jaw line was copper wiring connecting the skull cap! So they checked the DNA and the cap was human while the jawline was orangutan. Piltdown man was a fraud! Worse yet, the discovery was made in 1950! But I was a middle schooler in 1991. Why was the public school system using tax money to teach me information that been shown to be a complete fraud 40 years ago?!
You see I was given the impression as did pop culture that evolution was a proven fact and that if it were not for the evidence, no one would believe it. But the reality was that evolution was already a philosophy before it was proven and would be use to indoctrinate millions of people even if it were based upon lies.
At Bible college we took a course on science. It was here that I read "Darwin on trial". One of my favorite arguments had to do with transitional species and irreducible complexity. Let's suppose you had a mammal evolve into a bat. The process would take perhaps millions of years. But the intermediate species would have wings that could not fly. How would that species survive so long with large flaps which hindered it's movement? Predators would have an easy time wiping out the species. Also the human eye is extremely complex. For an animal to have evolved human eyes it would have to be blind for millions of years with incomplete eyes. evolution on it's own falls apart.
But in the same class the teaching of the big bang theory with billions of years and reinterpretations of genesis was also taught. In fact this was a great compromise. You could deny the guts of evolution and yet you would still have to compromise a literal reading of scripture. They pushed the geologic column and the problem of distant starlight. Eventually I caved into the idea for about a year. But as I continued to study the scriptures it would not add up. The flood in the Bible was global. The earth made huge changes. Which is why the genealogies have man living extremely long before the flood and then the ages go down to their current spans after the flood.
It was at this point that I gave the ministry of answers in genesis a chance. I learned that the geologic column was fabricated. The earth layers are never stacked up the same from one site to the next. The column was ordered according to the evolutionary theory which I no longer had any faith in. Then there was the site of the Mt. St. Helen's volcano. This disaster was recorded on film in 1981. Yet it made huge stacks of earth and geologists admitted that if they had not seen the volcanic eruption, they would assume the stacks were 600million years old! Then you have Ayer's rock, how do you get a mountain sized rock sitting by itself in the desert? A flood would be the best explanation to me. Most importantly the entire planet shows signs of erosion, sediment, sedimentary fossils and even in the highest mountains there is aquatic fossils.
The problem of distant starlight had an interesting solution given by Russel Humphreys. If we assume that because all the galaxies are moving away from the earth that the earth is near the center of the universe; Einstein's theory of relativity would imply that times speeds up on the outside edges of the universe. That time is stretch out like a balloon causing distant starlight to be more active. The problem of starlight and the horizon problem is still an area of mystery for science whether one is a creationist or evolutionist. But The Bible says that God miraculously created light before the stars existed and that it doesn't say this started at one point. So I am sure He can get the details right.
This essay is not about my specifics arguments for a creation vrs. evolution debate though. But it is about my experience, and how I got where I am at in understanding this. So in summary, I admit there are attract aspects of an evolutionary worldview. But evolution lends itself to a worldview of science fiction. Because evolution is about what is possible as opposed to what is objectively true. Once I had experiences show me that what was fathomable was not reality I had to let go of fantasies. My Christian faith had long lasted productive results in my life. Evolution would give me the wrong ideas and lead many to a worse off life.
An evolutionary worldview has nothing concrete, as soon as a fact is disproved it simply formulates a new excuse. There is no tolerance of alternatives, whatever certainty you have today will be meaningless years later.
So this is why evolution was just not the fittest for me.