Monday, August 07, 2006

Say a little prayer...

Last night I was watching the first NFL game of the season. Well technically it is preseason, but for a football junky like myself this is a minor detail. With only about a minute and a half to go in the game, a backup running back for the Eagles named Bruce Perry was injured pretty badly. He appeared to receive a sideways helmet-to-helmet hit and did not immediately get up afterwards. He tried to move his hand a bit, but it was clear that he was injured, and likely it was a serious injury. As the trainers and doctors rushed onto the field to aid him, the commentators began speaking about how difficult of a time this is not just for the player, but also for his family, his teammates, and even the opposing team. As the seconds turned into minutes that he was on the ground immobilized members of both teams began getting on their knees, and more than a few looked as if they were praying for him. Jason Avant, Perry's teammate, seemed especially upset by the tragedy being played out and was visibly crying while on his knees and lifting his hands to God.

It was at this point that I heard announcer John Madden say something that was on one hand very true, but on the other hand very ignorant. He said, "At times like these first you hope, and then you pray." When I heard this, I was confused as to how to process it. I think my first emotion was amazement. Over the course of the many minutes waiting for the doctors to determine how best to remove Perry from the field, the announcers had more than once mentioned prayer, and for that I was thankful. It is not everyday that we here such prominent men speak about something so reviled in this day and age in such a public context. As I said though, at the same time I realized the ignorance that his comment betrayed. To be fair it is not his ignorance alone, but an ignorance shared by many people. That ignorance is this: prayer is the thing to do when all else fails. It seems as if people follow a flow chart in life that goes something like this:
  1. Try to make it happen yourself.
  2. Try to make someone else make it happen.
  3. Hope that it just happens.
  4. Pray that it happens.
The problem with this is that when we do this it's like we're putting God in some sort of case and saying "In case of emergency break glass and he'll come out and fix it." Or, it's like God is that friend you have that has a pickup truck that you only call when you need to move. That's not how God works. God should not be our backup plan, God should BE our plan. The apostle Paul advises us to "pray continually" or in other words "Never stop praying. Ever." This means that before, during, and after that play Perry, his family, his teammates, and everyone else should have been praying, not just when it seemed they had no other choice.*

Let's not forget to ask ourselves the key question that we should always ask when we encounter a situation like this: "How does this apply to me?" Well, you or I may not be football players, but we all play a little game called life. Like football, life can get a little rough sometimes. Some of us get injured, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually too. So should we wait until we have no other choice but to pray? Of course not! We should be praying "continually." Pray in your car, pray in your office, pray in bed, pray at the kitchen table, pray on the couch, or even pray in the bathroom! God doesn't care where you pray, he just cares HOW you pray and how OFTEN you pray. Pray honestly. Don't pray in front of other people just to impress them. If you don't know what to pray for, pray for God to show you what to pray for! Pray for our country, pray for your family, pray for our leaders in all levels of government. Pray for the leaders of your church. If you feel like it, you can even pray for me! The point is God asks us to never stop praying, and if we look hard enough there is always something to pray about.

*Let it be noted, just for sake of clarity, that I am NOT saying that Perry got hurt as some sort of punishment from God for not praying continually. There is no way for me to know when he was praying, so I would never jump to any such conclusion.

Monday, July 31, 2006

So what is faith?

When I talk to people who don't share my belief (in a higher power in general, but in Jesus in particular) I often hear people claiming they could never have faith. They seem to think that just because having faith ISN'T knowledge (in the sense that you KNOW it is true) it must be the polar opposite of it. Thus one exercises faith in something in SPITE of the fact it isn't true. One need look no further than a site like Slashdot for an example. For those unfamiliar with the site, Slashdot is a technology centered website where a majority of the community appears (in my inexpert and thoroughly unscientifically formed opinion) to be made up of atheists and agnostics. A recent comment I ran across (in an article having nothing to do with religion, but had mentioned having faith that something would happen) demonstrates this. This person has equated faith, whether consciously or unconsciously, with not thinking about something and accepting it blindly. It pains me to see this. However, as I said before, it is not uncommon. I don't think that the equation "FAITH = NOT THINKING" is correct, let alone the kind of faith I possess.

So then, what is faith? To answer this question I'm going to quote one of my favorite Bible verses. Before I am accosted for referencing the Bible in a message directed primarily to people who don't possess faith, let it be noted that I am referencing it because I think it is valid to examine what kind of faith the Bible asks you to have before rejecting that same faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says " is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I believe the problem most non-believers have with this sort of faith is that they unconsciously, and sometimes consciously, object to its positively optimistic nature. This isn't to say non-believers can't be optimists, but a majority of them seem to have grown up in a world where a skeptical mind and a pessimistic attitude are the tools to discovery of truth. Only after assuming nothing is true, and allowing for the truth to prove itself out, are they ever sure of the factual nature of something. Of course, I am generalizing here to an extent. But at the core of someone who scoffs at faith there is usually at least a kernel of this cynicism.

Take off the blinders...

Before we plumb the depths of what faith is, it's important to go back to our definition and ask "What is faith NOT?" Well, primarily, Biblical faith is not the same as blind faith. Notice the verse does not say " is being sure of what we are just guessing is there and certain of what we have no evidence for." God, in essence, does not ask us to swallow the pill of faith without giving us a drink of truth to wash it down with.

When the apostle Paul was arrested for preaching about Jesus he appealed in a hearing to a local official named Agrippa. After presenting to him what he knew about Jesus and his earthly ministry he culminated it by saying, "...I am convinced that none of this has escaped his [Agrippa's] notice, because it was not done in a corner." That one sentence captures one of the great truths of Christianity: Jesus' ministry was a PUBLIC ministry. He wasn't hiding in a room in a hut in the middle of nowhere claiming that God was speaking to him. Instead he was out and about in front of crowds of hundreds and thousands in big cities such as Jerusalem. This leads to one of the great foundations for Christian faith: portions of the Bible are verifiable historically!

To put this in perspective let's look at the Holocaust denial movement. For those of you unfamiliar with this movement: "Holocaust denial (commonly called Holocaust revisionism by its supporters) is the belief that the Holocaust did not occur as it is described by mainstream historiography [recording of history]." This movement attempts to persuade others that the holocaust never happened and the Nazis are getting a bad rap. Most people have FAITH, and it can only be called faith for any of us that did not witness it firsthand, that the holocaust occurred. Why is this? We have faith because when people began saying "the holocaust never happened" people who witnessed it stepped forward with the same message: "It most certainly did happen." People came forward who had lived in, liberated, or otherwise experienced the atrocities that occurred in camps such as Auschwitz and Dachau to counter the claims that the holocaust never occurred.

What does this have to do with Christian faith? More than you may realize. When Christianity began in the 1st century it too was making controversial claims: A man named Jesus walked the earth and did miracles, gave signs of his divinity, and was put to death on a Roman cross. As Paul said "it was not done in a corner." This means that if the claims put forth by the early Christians about Christ were untrue, it would be reasonable to believe that people would come out of the woodwork to provide evidence against any lies, just as some do today to provide evidence against the claims of the holocaust deniers. Christians and Christianity, even more so than the holocaust, had its share of enemies. The Jewish people considered it blasphemy. The Romans (who controlled most of the "known" world at the time) saw it as at least a heresy against their government, and eventually a threat to their power. However, we have no historical evidence of any credible witnesses challenging the verifiable facts of Christianity to say "I was there and that's not how it happened."

Does this then mean that we can be guaranteed that Christianity is true? Unfortunately not, but it helps us make an educated guess on whether the claims it makes about itself are true. This is where faith comes in. Faith is the bridge that spans the gap between what we know is true and what we estimate is true based on that knowledge. Jesus once said, "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" This is the opposite of faith. Jesus is saying "If you won't accept the things I can show you [earthly things], then there is no way you can bridge the gap to accept the things I can't show you [heavenly things]." We can reason though that if Jesus IS trustworthy in the things he claims that we can verify, then why should we doubt him about things he claims that we can't verify? Faith simply helps us get over that narrow chasm of what we don't know. Faith does not help us ignore what we know is not true. So the next time someone asks you to "have faith" don't take this as an insult to your intelligence and a call to abandon your reasoning. Rather, consider it an opportunity to accept that we, as humans, don't and can't know everything. Sometimes we just have to make educated hypotheses based on the facts we have.

Shed some light on the subject...

Another thing that will explain what faith is, by showing what it is not, is a light switch. Most people think of faith like they do your standard, run of the mill, light switch. Just like the light switch is either on or off, faith to them is either something that you have or you don't. A more realistic model of faith is a fancier style of light switch called a dimmer switch. A dimmer switch has on and off settings like a regular light switch, but it also has a near infinite number of positions it can be set to in between on and off that allow it to shed as much light as you would like it to. Real faith is like that in the sense that people aren't either atheists to the core on one end and fervent, undoubting believers on the other. Typically they fall somewhere in the middle. When we think of faith this way we realize that it's not a giant leap in the dark, but actually a path that we take that leads us from unbelief to belief.

A man once came to Jesus asking him to help his son saying: "
...if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Here we see clearly the odd contrast between belief and unbelief that exists in us all. Just like a room with a dimmer switch only turned on halfway is neither dark nor bright, a person torn between belief and unbelief has faith. But, at the same time, they have doubts. Most people, when they realize they have doubts, begin to question their faith. For those who consider themselves Christians they may begin to wonder whether they are true Christians, whether their doubts may be a sign that God has not saved them, or worse that God doesn't even exist. For those who consider themselves unbelievers they take these doubts and use them as proof to themselves that their worldview, one that is lacking God, is correct. We can then see that faith isn't something that is supposed to bridge this giant gap from "off" to "on", but rather it's meant to help us get across the much smaller gap of "dim" to "brighter", and is thus not an unreasonable action.

Work it out...

What else can help us understand faith? Faith is like a muscle. The more you use your muscles, the more naturally the movement of doing so becomes. Eventually you build endurance and strength. Faith works in a similar manner. The more you practice faith, the stronger and more resilient your faith grows. This is not to say that faith is some sort of illusion of a false reality that gets more real the more often you pretend it's real. It's more like the mother who trusts her child with bigger and more responsibility as she proves herself trustworthy. If we exercise our faith in small things, and they prove fruitful, we can eventually begin having faith in larger things. Exercising faith in this way is a lot like feeding a person. The apostle Paul, when talking about people who had not had enough practice in their faith, said: "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it." You can't feed a baby a steak; you have to start them out on milk. In the same way you can't expect someone who has little experience in practicing faith to take a huge leap of faith. They need to start themselves out with small steps.

So if you want to grow in faith, what can you do? Start small. Look over the evidence, with an open mind, for and against such questions as "Did Jesus exist?" and "Is the Bible trustworthy?" Never let any preconceived notions or previous conclusions sway you one way or the other. One thing we have to do is ask ourselves the uncomfortable question, "How does this apply to me?" If you have been living a life with no reference to God, could your actions have offended God? We must always be honest with ourselves in this regard, remembering that the goal is to discover what is true, regardless of how much it may pain us or may be difficult for us.

Practice what you preach...

So you may be wondering, "What about you, what kind of faith do you have?" In terms of the dimmer switch analogy I'm definitely on the "brighter" side, but in many ways I'm a lot like the man who told Jesus "I believe, help me with my disbelief." Everyday I struggle with doubts, but everyday I try to exercise my faith and make it grow a little stronger.

Many of you reading may be thinking something along the lines of "This guy doesn't know anything. He's just one of those brain-washed Christians." This however would be a mistake. For the first 21 years of my life I lived as many people in our society live today: without faith. If it could not be demonstrated with a double blind experiment, a mathematical formula, or I witnessed it myself, I wouldn't accept it as truth. One day though I realized that there existed things not explainable by those methods. Things such as the anthropic principle and near death experiences didn't seem to be suitably explained by traditional science. There even existed the possibility, in the near infinite knowledge man had yet to possess, that things such as God existed. I was forced to ask myself the same question I challenged you to ask yourself. This led to me realize the great trouble I was in. If God existed, he had the distressing combined ability to know what I had done wrong and punish me for those wrongs. And believe me, by even the loosest definition of wrong, I had done wrong.

So I began exploring the differing religions each claiming to have the sole connection to God. Ironically, the one that I had always considered to be most disconnected from reality, Christianity, turned out to be the one I found with the biggest basis in fact. I had always ridiculed the Christians. I had always loathed them for being lemmings who believed what was spoon fed them on Sunday without realizing how idiotic it was. However, when I truly allowed myself to ask the question "Could Christianity be right?" without having the answer of "Of course not." on my mind at the same time, I found it to be much more plausible then I had ever allowed myself to think. As I began to realize all of the verifiable aspects, some of which are noted above, I began to believe. So what then did this mean to me in my amoral state? It meant 2 things:
  1. I had separated myself from God through my misdeeds.
  2. God is just and can't just say "Your sin doesn't matter." any more than a just judge can send a guilty criminal free by saying "Your crime doesn't matter."
So what was I to do? Fortunately God had provided a "Get out of jail" card. He had his son, Jesus Christ, pay the debt for me (and for everyone), and in order to claim this gift, all we have to do is what Peter said on the day of Pentecost: ""Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Once we repent, or turn away from our sins and never return to them, and are baptized, God forgives us.

I'll be honest. It sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. Just like when you exercise a muscle it feels awkward and gets sore easily, starting on the path out of sin and into forgiveness has its share of growing pains, slips, and stumbles. I will promise you one thing though. If you do decide to start a "faith workout" and end up in the loving arms of God you will not be disappointed.

If you'd like more information about what I've spoken about here, do not hesitate to email me. I hope God blesses you on your journey of faith.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Major post coming...

Got a big post coming talking about my faith and the relation of belief and unbelief. It's kind of long though and it's taking me some time, but it should be ready tonight or tomorrow!


Unfortunately, I was almost done with it and my computer died. I had been saving as I went along, but still lost a little bit of work, and haven't had the energy to redo what I've lost today. I should finish it up tomorrow though and have it up for your perusal.


I had a friend of mine read over this upcoming entry since it got a little long. I'll have the revised entry up on Monday 07/31/2006 guaranteed!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Long time, no blog

As those who truly know me know, I can't be trusted to do things with regularity that don't involve uncontrollable bodily functions such as eating, sleeping, and others that will be left to your imagination. Therefore I have completely ignored this blog for over 2 months. While I refuse to do something idiotic like "I vow to post on here at least once a week!" I do wish to make a more concerted effort to provide my loyal readership, all 2 of you, with more active updates.

But I need you to do something for me. I need your help if you answer yes to any of the following questions:
  • Do you refresh this page every day with baited breath hoping for an update that constantly eludes you?
  • Have you subscribed to the RSS feed for this blog so you know when it gets updated and can snicker at the person who answered yes to the query above?
  • Do you just stumble here every once in a while thinking "I wonder what that wacky Weeden is up to?"
If you answered yes to any of those questions (or if you just feel like it) I need you to do me a favor. Let me know you're here. I know some of you probably talk to me through other means and whatnot, but I'd like to get a "gauge" of my constituency. Please don't take this in any sort of narcissistic way. I have no delusions of grandeur that indicate to me that I have a loyal legion of blogophiles who have nothing better to pray about at night than for God to make Weeden update his blog. I know there is at least one person who might have possibly thought about maybe reading my blog (as SOME of my prior musings have comments attached to them). I simply think if I associate names with the handful of fans I'm letting down by not posting here then maybe that will guilt me into posting more often.

So here's how you can help ME help YOU. Comment on this story or shoot me an email. Don't call my house though. My wife would likely not like that. Unless you are my wife. Then you can call, if you think it's okay. And if I'm not asleep.

Thank you all ahead of time, and I hope to talk to you soon!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Need a favor of the blogosphere...

I've found a very interesting new website called eBible. Unfortuanately to get in (as of right now) you need an invite. If someone has one I would really appreciate the gesture. In exchange I'll even advertise your blog/site here as long as it's not objectionable.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Well, I suck at this whole update thing...

It looks like it's been over 3 months since my last update. I guess I'm not a very wordy person. Hopefully I'll have something more soon.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Adam's Website of the Day:

Ever heard a song that you thought was fantastic and wanted to hear more artists/songs like it? Want new artists recommended to you not based on who bought their albums in combinations with one you liked (a la Amazon), but rather on their musical similarity to your favorites?
has what you've been looking for. Enter an artist and/or song and it will produce a radio station of similar songs based on their intrinsic musical qualities (melody, beat, etc.). As you listen you can improve and tweak the system by saying whether a given song matches what you're looking for.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Feature: Adam's Website of the Day

I want to begin offering a new feature that I hope you'll enjoy. Adam's Website of the Day. As often as possible (hopefully every day, or at least every weekday) I will offer up a new website that is interesting, useful, and/or informative. Today's inagural website is...

Ever been on a strange computer and need to IM someone? Does your office PC prevent you from installing your favorite chat program? Or did you ever just want to have a program that would log you into all your IM services at once (and didn't feel like installing or know about GAIM, Miranda, or Trillian)?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Meebo is for you. It's a web based instant messenger that supports AOL Instant Messnger, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and Jabber/Google Talk. It's handy, and so well designed, you may forget it's a web page.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My first Wikipedia Article

Was searching on Wikipedia for my last name, and I ran across a link listing a WW2 Destroyer Escort named the USS Weeden. Thought that was interesting but saw that it had no article. After some research (into both the ship and into how to write a brand new Wikipedia article) I am happy to unveil my USS Weeden article.

All info taken from the 2 links at the bottom of the article. I also emailed the people who run the USS Weeden veteran's website to let them now that they now have their own article!

Very proud to have contributed something, and hope to expand on it soon, and maybe find how I may be related to the USS Weeden's namesake.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Update.....(It's been a while)

Wow, haven't been here in over two and a half months. Sorry to those two or three people who have actually expected me to put some updates here. Life's busy, and I'm a man of few words. That combination has left me either without sufficient time to post or without an idea of what I should be posting about, and quite frequently both.

So what's new you ask? I'll be happy to tell you!

  • Can't remember exactly when it started but my wife and I are now leaders of our church's youth ministry (though technically I'm not a youth minister as I'm not ordained). We started out with four kids, but now that has grown to eleven kids, and I believe God will continue to help it grow.
  • Dec. 18th, 2005 - Had a Christmas party for Family Ministries of Florida. They are a Christian group that provides homes for children who can no longer live with their parent(s). Family Ministries has three couples that will "adopt" (not in the legal sense as far as I know, but in the family sense) a child in need of a family. Between the three couples they have around thirty kids (whose ages go from three or four all the way to seventeen). My church decided that this year we would help them out by buying gifts for the kids and have a nice Christmas party for them. It was a blast. I really enjoyed being able to help the kids, and they certainly seemed happy to receive it!
  • Dec. 25th, 2005 - Had a wonderful Christmas. Got a lot of nice stuff (a lot of Florida Gators stuff from my wife for my new Gators themed office, awesome!). And as the saying goes, it was better to give than to receive. I bought my wife an iPod Nano (black) and a beautiful male Golden Retriever puppy. I named him Luke, but Bre said that since I bought it for her, she gets to name it, so she renamed him Brady. Fair enough I suppose. He is a real blessing. Seems smart as a whip and is already learning sit and fetch at twelve weeks, and is getting good about where and when to use the bathroom. He is super lovable and really enjoys both horsing around and just laying there getting pet (though each is done when he feels like it).
  • Dec. 27th, 2005 - Finally (for the most part) got into my new house. Got my bed in and got my stuff out of my storage unit. My landlord still has some things she needs to retrieve from the house, and I still have a laundry list of things I need to get done (paint, clean, etc.), but I am happy to finally have a place that I can call "mine" in some sense.
  • Jan. 1st, 2006 - I officially began as an deacon of my church! I was nominated by some of the members of the church for the position and the members voted unanimously to trust me to bear this great responsibility. For those unfamiliar with the position of a deacon within a church: qualifications of a deacon, the word deacon comes from the Greek word for "those who serve", but basically I will be doing whatever I can to help my congregation.
  • Jan. 2nd, 2006 - Went to the Outback Bowl. Had an AWESOME time. Iowa fans were real polite, even after they were guaranteed a loss after a bad call at the end. Still not sure how I ended up with a sunburn in January, not to mention the fact that I had to get out of my seat and go into the club area (thank God for club tickets) twice because the heat was getting unbearable. That is not to say that I wouldn't do it again in a heartbeat!
So far 2006 seems to be going great. For those praying for me: pray that my contract with my current company turns permanent. I really enjoy working here, and my boss is a really good guy. Hope to see you sooner than it took for this update to come. God bless!