Something Crazy?

Ever have one of those moments after doing something that leaves you questioning your sanity?

I’ve been on the fence about taking a next step in my faith journey, a step that would mean a significant time and financial commitment. For several months now I’ve been wrestling with the idea, going back and forth as to why I should or shouldn’t do it. Today, it all came to a head. I felt God nudge shove me and say, “Just do it already!” So I did.

This evening, I submitted an application for the TrinityQuest program at Trinity College. My goal is to learn more about God’s Word and, along the way, earn a degree I can use to transition out of corporate life and into a vocation of ministry.

In the application process, I was asked to submit a brief biography explaining how I came to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and why I want to attend Trinity. 750 words can be considered brief, right?

Below is a copy of the essay I submitted.

Hello. My name is child of the one true King.

Yes, I know that is a blatant rip-off of a Matthew West song, but it also happens to be true.

Over forty years ago, I, as an infant, was baptized by my God-parents and welcomed into the Catholic Church. I was raised in an “attend church every so often” household, one where God was present but not necessarily made a priority.

I attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through high school, doing my Catholic duty along the way. Altar boy, lector, Eucharistic minister, peer minister, Christian leader: I was happy to fill my extra-curricular time with work and activities related to my Catholic upbringing.

As teens tend to do, I drifted away from church in college. The pace and workload of university life, coupled with giving into the indulgences of living in New Orleans – I attended Tulane university – lead me to exclude God from my life. I became a stereotypical Christmas and Easter Catholic, and that is where I stayed for the better part of 15 years.

During that decade and a half, I was married, had two children, eventually failed as a husband, and saw my marriage come to an end. I faced the darkest moments of my life, moments that found me chasing comfort at the bottom of a bottle and in the beds of strangers. Yet although I felt alone, I knew in my heart I was not alone. I knew through it all, God was calling me to course correct. He was calling me back into His love, His grace, and His protection.

One Sunday morning, I felt His voice stronger than ever. “Go to Mass. I need you there.” I randomly and reluctantly attended Mass at the nearest Catholic Church, and on that day I was introduced to the new Youth Minister that had just been hired. She convinced me to step up and volunteer in the youth ministry program, and it was that experience that started me on a path of redemption.

I would meet someone new, a woman who would challenge me to be a better person and a man of God. This woman would end up becoming my wife, and we would struggle at first to celebrate our faith together, she having been raised Baptist and I having been raised Catholic. Through God’s will, we were introduced to Relevant Church in Tampa. I would say through coincidence, but I’ve come to learn that coincidence is just God showing off.

For the two of us, we were not facing a crisis of faith so much as a crisis of church. At Relevant, we found the spiritual home we’d been seeking, and it’s been truly transformational for the both of us. We’ve taken part in growth groups that have allowed us to do life with others in our church community, and to truly grow our understanding of His Word. We’ve volunteered on our First Impressions team, happily greeting on Sunday mornings, and welcoming experienced and first time visitors alike with warm smiles and firm handshakes. And in the spring of 2013, my wife and I renewed our commitment to God by being baptized as adults.

It was during one of our growth groups, at a time when we were studying the book Greater by Pastor Steven Furtick, that I felt God compel me to move. I felt His calling in a way I hadn’t before, and I knew God was telling me to move in a direction of ministry. God blessed me with the talent of writing, and rather than continue to bury that talent out of fear, I’ve chosen to invest that talent in His Word by ministering to others through both my actions and my blog.

I know I still have a long way to go in my faith journey, but it’s a walk I take with a new found yearning to learn more about the loving direction God provides us through Scripture. It is for this reason I would like to attend Trinity College. I want to continue to grow in Christ and move on the path God has called me to take.

I am a child of the one true King, and I want to learn, grow, and Kingdom-build here on earth for His love and His glory.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Soapbox Tuesday

Every now and again, I come across articles or blog posts that just set me off. Having been raised Catholic, this one post stirred up those emotions in me that made me literally stop what I was doing and just start writing.

The igniting blog post can be found here and is copied below. I left a long and verbose comment which I wanted to capture in my own blog given the moderator of the original post can simply delete my comments at their discretion.

In a letter to President Obama this week, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, writing on behalf of the U.S. bishops, said the Obama administration’s fight against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, would “precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.”

From the archbishop’s letter:

I write with a growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken by your Administration that both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage…
The Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by you and your Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace…

I know that you treasure the importance that you and the First Lady, separately and as a couple, share in the lives of your children. The Mother‟s Day and Father‟s Day proclamations display a welcome conviction on your part that neither a mom nor a dad is expendable. I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father.

The institution of marriage is built on this truth, which goes to the core of what the Catholic Bishops of the United States, and the millions of citizens who stand with us on this issue, want for all children and for the common good of society. That is why it is particularly upsetting, Mr. President, when your Administration, through the various court documents, pronouncements and policies identified in the attached analysis, attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing.

We as Bishops of the Catholic Church recognize the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person. Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality.

My comments were as follows:

It is sad and upsetting that Archbishop Dolan has done such a poor job in presenting his argument for DOMA, and although I disagree with his argument regarding what marriage should be, he really could have done a better job in presenting his case to the Obama administration,

“We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace…” NOT defining marriage as being a union between a man and a woman does nothing to impede religious freedom. If anything, it serves to strengthen the concept of separation of church and state.

Christianity is the majority religion in the United States, but Christianity should not think itself as the vehicle to define marriage for every person living in this country. In Christianity, marriage is covenant among man, woman, and God. In the eyes of the US government, marriage is simply a contract between two individuals that is sanctioned by the state in which those individuals reside.

“I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father.” I think the goal should be for every child to be loved period! A male and female parent figure does not guarantee love. The proponents of DOMA need to stop with the implication that same-sex parents cannot provide adequate love for a child. Bad parents are bad parents, be they straight or gay. The Archbishops point on this matter is grossly flawed and should be summarily dismissed.

“The institution of marriage is built on this truth (that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father).” This is not a truth but rather a teaching based on Christian dogma. Again, this argument is flawed and the Catholic Church is astoundingly arrogant in its attempt to subtlety impose its belief on all Americans.

“..no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides.” Again, completely subjective and not, in my opinion, remotely correct. Raising a child, be it one parent, two parents, or, as what happens with divorce, four parents, can be the single most important effort that provides for the common good. Children who are loved, nourished, and encouraged tend to become responsible and productive adults. I would argue THAT is much more important to the common good than whether or not a husband and wife love each other.

I do not believe the Catholic Church is seeking to be discriminatory, however they are caught in the grey area between their teachings and the diversity of the American public. They are intolerant to the idea of same-sex marriage, and they are trying to promote this idea to a public that thrives in tolerance. What the Catholic Church needs to do is recuse itself from the discussion of DOMA as it has no place trying to fold its beliefs into the legislation of this country. To do so – to blur the line that defines the separation of church and state – would be the action that would truly precipitate a national conflict.