The One About FAITH

By:  calbab  •  Religion  •  5 years ago  •  1 comments

The One About FAITH

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

The Conversion of John Newton

john_newtonjpg.jpg Captain John Newton wrote in his book, Thought s Upon the African Slave Trade :

With our ships, the great object is to be full. When the ship is there, it is thought desirable, she should take as many [slaves] as possible. The cargo of a vessel of a hundred tons, or little more, is calculated to purchase from two hundred and twenty to two hundred and fifty slaves . Their lodging-rooms below the deck, which are three, (for men, the boys, and the women,) besides a place for the sick, are sometimes more than five feet high and sometimes less; and this height is divided towards the middle, for the Slaves lie in two rows, one above the other, on each side of the ship, close to each other, like books upon a shelf. I have known them so close that the shelf would not, easily, contain one more.

And I have known a white man sent down among the men, to lay them in these rows to the greatest advantage, so that as little space as possible might be lost. Let it be observed, that the poor creatures, thus cramped for want of room, are likewise in irons, for the most part both hands and feet, and two together, which makes it difficult for them to turn or move, to attempt either to rise or to lie down, without hurting themselves, or each other. Nor is the motion of the ship, especially her heeling, or stoop on one side, when under sail, to be admitted; for this, as they lie athwart, or across the ship, adds to the uncomfortableness of their lodging, especially to those who lie on the leeward, or leaning side of the vessel. Dire is the tossing,deep the groans.  

The heat and the smell of these rooms when the weather will not admit of the slaves being brought upon the deck, and of having their rooms cleaned every day, would be, almost, insupportable, to a person not accustomed to them. If the Slaves and their rooms can be constantly aired, and they are not detained too long on board, perhaps there are not many die; but the contrary is often their lot. They are kept down, by the weather, to breathe a hot and corrupted air, sometimes for a week: this, added to the galling of their irons, and the despondency which seizes their spirits, when thus confined, soon becomes fatal. And every morning, perhaps, more instances than one are found, of the living and dead , like the Captives of Mezentinus, fastened together.  —Pgs. 33-35.  

"How industrious is Satan served. I was formerly one of his active undertemptors and had my influence
been equal to my wishes I would have carried all the human race with me. A common drunkard or
profligate is a petty sinner to what I was."

“I not only sinned with a high hand myself but made it my study to tempt and seduce others upon every occasion. Revealing the first glimpse of his later talent as a hymn-writer, he composed a derogatory song about his new captain and taught it to the entire crew. He had to leave the ship in a hurry after that bout of troublemaking; so Newton’s next move was to work for a shore-based slave trader in Sierra Leone. He indulged in every available vice including witchcraft. Accused (unfairly) of stealing, he fell afoul of his employer’s black mistress, a tribal princess who imprisoned him in chains, starved him, and treated him brutally. He was recused from a remote part of the West African coastline by a ship’s captain from Liverpool. Because Newton’s lifestyle had improved by this time, he initially refused the offer of a passage home, but the thought of seeing Polly [future wife] again won him over.  

During the long voyage to England Newton again behaved appalling as a troublemaker. Although he had been brought up in the Christian faith by his
devout mother, who died when he was six, Newton had become such an aggressive atheist and blasphemer that even his shipmates were shocked by his oaths.

During his 1748 voyage to England after his rescue, Newton had a spiritual conversion. The ship encountered a severe storm off the coast of Donegal, Ireland and almost sank. Newton awoke in the middle of the night and, as the ship filled with water, called out to God. “The ship is sinking!”   The ship was badly holed and waterlogged. As it seemed to be going down, Newton, to his own astonishment, began to pray, “Lord, have mercy on us!”
After many hours of extreme peril, the storm subsided, the cargo shifted and stopped up the hole, and the ship drifted to safety. [i]   “About this time,“ he said. “I began to know that there is a God who answers prayer.”  

Almost immediately Newton stopped swearing, changed his licentious lifestyle, and started to pray and read the Bible. From that day, March 21, 1748, until his death in 1807 he never let a year go by without recognizing in prayerful thanksgiving what he called his “great turning day” of conversion. [ii]  

“How unworthy and unlikely was I to preach that faith which I had renounced and scorned! What
difficulties were in the way, which thou only couldst remove.  But thou didst it; and hast now supported
me in it thirty-eight years, restraining me from those evils and errors which might have hurt my
character and prevented my usefulness, and from which, nothing short of thy power and grace could
restrain a heart so vile as mine.”

 John Newton, Rector St Mary Woolnoth, London, 4 August 1802 [iii]  
Hymn writer: Amazing Grace

  The Conversion of George Foreman

An impoverished youth, George Foreman often bullied younger children and didn't like getting up early for school. Foreman became a mugger and brawler on the hard streets of Houston's Fifth Ward by age 15. [iv]   "You know what it's like to mug somebody?" he asks. "To get him down, like he's so much trash? And you know he feels like trash. And he's yelling" --Foreman actually whispers it, though-- "'Hey, hey, hey.'" The refrain of submission, surprise, even self-hatred that accompanied each awful victimization, every one performed with carefree cruelty. He hears them all, and there were plenty. [v]   As a teenage mugger, George [once] 'covered myself with mud from a busted sewer pipe under a house so the police dogs couldn't sniff me out' [vi]

  "Oh, I was a dangerous fella, all right," Foreman says. "It wasn't no act. If some wealthy guy drove by in a limo and gave me a finger, I'd find him." [vii ]                

At 16, Foreman was a school dropout on his way to a West Coast Job Corps camp, where he would be trained in carpentry and other manual skills. He took his bad attitude with him, and fistfights were not rare. But — in what might have been the luckiest break of his life — Foreman’s rowdiness caught the eye of the camp boxing coach, Charles Broadus, who challenged Foreman to take his fighting to the ring. The gambit paid off with Foreman claiming a gold medal in heavyweight boxing at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The win propelled Foreman to a pro career and heavyweig ht championship victories over Joe Frazier in 1973 and Michael Moorer in 1994.

No one was more surprised by his embrace of religion than Foreman himself.            


George’s ultimate reckoning with religion came in 1977, minutes after he was pummeled into defeat by the hea vyweight Jimmy Young, and it came in the most frightening way. “In the dressing room, I was walking back and forth to cool off,” he told The Houston Chronicle. “Then in a split second, I was fighting for my life.” Foreman’s mind filled with battling thoughts: preening pride versus death and panic. Foreman bargained, offering to devote his boxing prize money to charity. “I don’t want your money,” Foreman heard a voice say. “I want you.” Instantly he found himself cast into the bleakest darkness he had experienced. “It was the saddest, most horrible place I had ever seen,” he said.  

Then a “giant hand” plucked him into consciousness. Foreman found himself on a locker room table, surrounded by friends and staff members. He felt as if he were physically filled with the presence of a dying Christ. He felt his forehead bleed, punctured by a crown of thorns; his wrists, he believed, had been pierced by nails of the cross.

  “I knew that Jesus Christ was coming alive in me,” Foreman said. "I kissed everybody in the dressing room and told them I loved them. That happened in March 1977, and I never have been the same again.”

  The change was noticed immediately by the boxing world. “There was a transformation from a young, hard character who felt a heavyweight champion should carry himself with menace to a very affectionate personality,” the HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant said. “I would say this was a sincere evolution of a human being maturing, and it suggests real effort.” [viii]  

Mr. George Foreman is founder and minister of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston, Texas.bio_preacher2.png

The Realm of Faith  

2 Corinthians 5:7.  For we live by faith not by sight.  

In the illustrated lives of both men above, there arrived a day when the life courses of both men changed inside them. These men entered: The Realm of Faith .  

For an ordinary series of years Newton and Foreman were on unbroken paths of reason and experiences. One day in a “twinkling” faith adjoined their lives. Faith answers existential questions in those in which it inhabitants.  

For true believers, dwelling in faith is not a counterfeit act or forced condition. Faith properly constituted, can cause a state of relaxation inside the soul. Moreover, faith can be viewed as a kingdom or city dwelling place . Doing so, it becomes easier to understand how in living out their faith lives, some denizens build near or at faith’s borders and others bore in towards faith’s   center .  In everyday symbolism, it is existing on the edge of faith or, living well-established in it.  

As it is in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Daughter), there are many who enter a life of faith through some extraordinary amount of loss, defect, or expectation . Each individual can shed, repair, or achieve something new through a life change. For example, the thief seeks a way out of a life of crime and disappointing others. The alcoholic desires to be restored to a new orderly time. And, the murderer yearns for a way off and forward from a sinister past. There are innumerable scenarios for seekers to chart to faith.  

I grew up in a Baptist tradition. I was baptized at 8 years of age. Upon becoming a young adult, I walked away from the Church. The order found in church life was not what I had in my mind for my future. I was growing up to be fundamentally different. There were no hard feeling between my former church members and me. We all simply parted ways. I on an odyssey of self-discovery.  

My plan was to go out into the world and allow reason and experiences to teach me the truths of this life and perchance, if there was anything to spiritual reality, I could choose to discover (rediscover) that. Walking away from familiar settings, and hang outs complete with family, friends, sounds, and smells is tantamount to be consigned to the wilderness! For me it was necessary, nevertheless. I felt I had no other serious choice than to become one of the “not-knowing.” An Agnostic .  

Decades have passed, and I can still remember that inward conversation with myself. I chose to step out into life “uncovered.” In order to:

  1. Find myself. Life on my terms.
  2. Find God. A spiritual awakening of some kind.
  3. Find life and spiritual awakening.
  4. Swift death or long life.

I lived in a nonreligious, secular world. I indulged myself in many facets of this life with abandon. I lived my life handsomely, but as I pointed out in another article, love’s ‘true kiss’ eluded me all the while. There has been such a great deal of violence, hatred, and confusion over same-sex relationships in our nation’s background.  No one like a President Barack Obama had shown up to put a ‘cap’ on the public discrimination, bigotry, and humiliation which was pervasive in the United States.  

Fact is, being “gay” used to be a major dead-end street. You simply got old, and mostly did so alone.

At the end, like the Prodigal Son (Matthew 21:28), I “came to my senses” and turned to seeking the meaning of life in other ways. I was sick and tired of dead ends. Had my fill of the sights, sounds, and smells of being ‘out there.’ I wanted to find a place inwardly in order to surrender to peace and calm.

Growing older, sleeping around, being taken advantaged of, injured or “savagely” killed simply was my worse fear, and by no means a proper way to end up! As a Seeker, spirituality found me. I successfully entered the dimension of faith. I have been an inhabitant in this realm for 25 years now. I included George Foreman’s conversion for a personal consideration. There is similarity to his conversion experience and my own: A kinship of running water at conversion.

On the day of my conversion, it happened that I was thinking over many spiritual statements which had been explained to me, while at the same time showering up for work. As I stood under the running water answers to long-overdue questions began to flow into my mind. I remember tingling with revelation and clarity. From that day in 1993 to 2018, my life has been drastically changed.

So reader, faith is a lifestyle many enter into and having done so can live out their lives therein.


[i] [ii] John-Newton: Disgrace-Amazing-Grace, by Johnathan Aitken, Phillip Yancey. Page. 19 – 20.
[iii] MiscellaneousThoughts/Commendations/Commendations.aspx [iv] [v] [vi] [vii] [viii]


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1  author  calbab    5 years ago

So reader, faith is a lifestyle many enter into and having done so can live out their lives therein.