Is Freedom of Religion a Biblical Right?

Some advice for Christians…

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Under the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act, Canadians have the freedom to practice religion. Specifically, if access to employment, services, or benefits is ever disallowed (based on religious belief), it would be considered discrimination.

Freedom of Religion Biblical Right

So that means that believers have the RIGHT to practice religion, right?

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Why Do We Fear?

God (Peace) versus Evil (Fear)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Christians talk about peace on a regular basis, but I’m not sure if all Christians understand the impact of fear.  There’s a reason why scripture tells us we don’t have to fear.  Complete trust in God is really a complete rejection of fear.  When we avoid fear, we understand peace a little better. When we allow God to be our ‘Shepherd,’ we have nothing to fear because we put our lives in His hands.

why do we fear

So why do we still fear?

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Faith and Doubt [Guest Post]

Kathy Stock Shares Her Journey of Faith

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I’d like to thank Andrew for inviting me to participate on his blog. Andrew is a great writer and a passionate leader. I’ve read his interesting thoughts and teachings and have personally benefited from the discussions I’ve seen afterward between people on different sides of many different issues.

Faith and Doubt - Kathy Stock

I am a lover of conversation. As a flaming extrovert, I thrive off of the company of others. Drop me in a room full of strangers and I’ll leave with a long list of new friends.

This temperament of mine has served me well, especially as a musician and public speaker but it has its downside. I share a bit too easily, I care a bit too recklessly and I am dramatically affected by the thoughts and feelings of others.

Wearing my hungry heart on the outside of my sleeve has served me both well and negatively in ministry. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I am told I came to know Jesus at the ripe ol’ age of two when I knelt beside my mother and wanted to do what my five-year-old sister did at church that day. So, at five and two, we surrendered our sin-laden lives to the Lord, knowing full well the gravity of that decision and went forth, sinning no more.

Just kidding.

We had no idea what we were doing!

Yet, I remained ingrained in Christ, and He in me, from then until now…sometimes fervently on fire for the gospel, sometimes gripping tightly with white knuckles while doubt all but swallows me whole.

Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. Click To TweetWhat I have learned is that faith isn’t a black and white issue. Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. It’s complicated and beautiful and terrifying and filled with unknowns.

I’ve done a lot of living for a thirty-three year old woman. I was married at twenty, a mother at twenty-two and again at twenty-six. I’m a published author. I have lived in two countries, three states, two provinces, and have changed addresses thirteen times in the last thirteen years.

I’m a musician who performs (unapologetically) secular music during the week and joyfully leads worship in a congregation I love on Sunday mornings (Spruce Hills).

I had cancer while my children were two and six years old and have been in remission for three and a half years.

I recently went back to school, where I sit in classrooms surrounded by other students who are closer to my son’s age than my own.

What has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus. Click To TweetLife has been more interesting than I can properly articulate in one blog post and I have had some high highs and some low lows along the way but what has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus.

Ironically, (and perhaps I’m over sharing here, in true Kathy form) I am writing this during an intense season of doubt.

Some do not believe that faith and doubt can co-exist but I am living, breathing evidence that they indeed can. I embody both. The disciples embodied both. John the Baptist embodied both, and he saw the sky open up and watched a dove appear out of nowhere, landing on Jesus and then heard God audibly say, “This is MY SON” and he STILL questioned who Jesus was from the darkness of his prison cell. If John the Baptist can doubt, and still be labeled by Jesus as one of the greatest human beings ever, certainly we can too (Luke 3:21-22; 7:18f).

This truth has brought an enormous amount of comfort to me as I navigate life, especially in my thirties. For the majority of my twenties, I lived in the Southern USA or the ‘Bible belt’ as it is sometimes referred.

I was so entrenched in church and church culture that I didn’t have one friend that wasn’t a Christian. I worked at church, sang at church, socialized at church…and the energy that I should have spent going out into the world and being Jesus to people was instead spent arguing about theology with other Christians.

My faith was very, very strong during that season but I wasn’t fulfilling the great commission. I wasn’t being Jesus.

When I was twenty-eight, my little family of four immigrated back to Newfoundland with nothing but the clothes on our backs and six suitcases in our hands. We settled swiftly and I quickly realized that I wasn’t in the ‘Bible belt’ anymore…and I was quite honestly relieved… so I set out to meet as many different people in as many different places as I could.

I began playing music at events and restaurants, eventually landing a permanent gig at a piano bar in downtown St. John’s (The Fifth Ticket).

After I finished chemotherapy and began my remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I set out to meet as many young adult cancer survivors as I could, and pour into their lives in a way I so desperately needed when I was sick. No hidden agenda, no bait and switch to evangelize…just living out love in the way that Jesus has asked us to and seeing what happens. Faith, usually, naturally comes up in conversation.

Through all of this, I have met so many different kinds of friends. People from varying spiritual, religious, socio-economic backgrounds, same sex couples, single parents, transgendered men and women…I’ve met ex-cons and CEOS, reconnected with people I knew from high school and been blown away by how we have all developed and evolved throughout the years.

There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story. Click To TweetAnd through all of these encounters I have learned one very valuable lesson: There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story.

Breaking through the Christian bubble that I had created for myself has opened my heart and mind up to a world of doubt and questions that challenge me on a daily basis.

They challenge how I raise my children and the words I speak behind the microphone on Sunday mornings…but it has also allowed me the powerful opportunity to be Christ to people who haven’t experienced Him in a real way. Not by preaching at or fighting with or segregating myself from them, but by doing life shoulder to shoulder with them and seeing what God does through relationship.

I’m finding the older I get, the less I can claim to know for sure but the more O.K. I am with not knowing.  As exhausting as it is, doubt is worth wrestling with.

There are many days when I wonder whether any of this is legitimate at all, but I rest in the words of John 6:68, when Jesus asked Peter if he was going to leave and Peter responded, “Lord, to what person could we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

When doubt creeps in...I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. Click To TweetWhen doubt creeps in, or bursts the door down, I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. When I am challenged by the non-sense that is grace, the arrogance that is self-sufficiency, the ridiculousness that is child-like faith, I cling with both hands to Jesus!

I recently heard someone say that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt.  The opposite of faith is certainty…because what do the certain need with faith? The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” and my hope is in Jesus (Hebrews 11:1).

There is no one else for me. None but Jesus.

When We Doubt God’s Plan

Christian Doubt, Part 4

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I remember growing up hearing, “pray in faith…your faith will heal [or provide for] you…”  Conversely, if someone was not healed or provided for, the response was, “you did not have enough faith.”  As I grew as a Christian, so did my questions.  If God has a special plan for me (Psalm 139:16) and works all things together for the good (Romans 8:28), why would my faith, or lack of faith, solely dictate whether God would heal or provide for me?  Is my doubt a lack of faith, or can my faith even exist without doubt?  If you believe in the omnipotence of God, the question is never if God can do something; rather, why God has or hasn’t done something.  When we doubt God’s plan, we must refocus our attention towards the gospel, and trust God’s all-sufficient grace will help us while God uses our weaknesses to show His glory.

Christian Doubt, Part 4

I offer two examples of leaders in scripture who either had doubt, or had questions about God’s plan, and why they had to go through it.

1. John the Baptist doubted Jesus’ plan when he was in prison.

Jesus said there was no one greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11), and yet after Jesus started his ministry, John was arrested and Jesus did nothing about it.  John prepared the way for Jesus, and Jesus continued his ministry while John was in Herod’s prison.  John did what most of us would do ? he questioned if Jesus was in fact the Messiah.  He sent messengers to ask Jesus and Jesus responded with:

 4“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)

When we face doubt, we have to keep our focus on the purpose of the gospel Click To TweetWhat a response! God’s Kingdom was being established (insert all the amazing things that were happening), and yet “blessed is the one who is not offended by me?”  Everyone else is getting help, but the one who prepared the way, is left in prison.  The word offended is translated from the Greek word skandaliz? which means “cause to sin, or make someone stumble.”1  Jesus was more about serving those who were lost, than he was about saving those who already knew.  It was more about serving and less about conquering.  John may have been looking and hoping for a conqueror to free him from prison, and doubted who Jesus was when that did not happen.  In reality, Jesus was explaining that the Kingdom was being established and blessed are those who believe and follow, even when circumstances seem to be uncertain (ie. doubt).

If you keep reading, you’ll find out John was never released from prison and was eventually beheaded.   In order for the Kingdom of servanthood to continue to be established, Jesus did or didn’t do things that could cause someone to doubt and stumble.  When we face doubt, we have to keep our focus on the purpose of the gospel – bringing life to those who are lost.  If we do, we will be blessed.

2. Paul doubted why God wouldn’t remove his “thorn in the flesh.”

Paul was one of the first Christian leaders who wrote nearly a third of our present day New Testament.  You would think that God would provide him with a peaceful and pleasant life.  When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, however, he shared that he was tormented by a “thorn…in the flesh.”

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

We don’t know what Paul’s “thorn” was.  It could have been anything from a physical ailment to persecution from his opposition to a severe temptation.2 In any case, the issue was significant enough to cause him consistent grief.  What’s even more significant, is the fact that the “thorn” was given, or at least permitted, by God.3  If that doesn’t lead to unanswered questions (doubt), I don’t know what will.

So, what did Paul do? He pleaded with God.  In fact, he did so three times – asking that it would be removed from his life.  What did God do?  He responded to Paul.  In fact, he did so in such a way that He brought purpose and strength to the pain.  This is so encouraging to me:

  1. I can plea with the Lord, for pain to be removed, without compromising my spirituality. I can process my doubt by engaging in dialogue with God.
  2. God will respond. I may not hear what I want to hear, but God is willing and ready to respond with what I need to hear.
  3. God’s grace is sufficient. I may not think God understands, but his grace is all I need as I process my doubt.

God’s saving grace is fully shown when He uses broken people for His glory! Click To TweetI’m sure we’ve all had moments and situations when we wondered why God would allow us to go through painful experiences.  For Paul, it meant showcasing how great God is by showing how God used Paul and his weaknesses.  So much so that Paul took joy in boasting in his struggle because he knew that his success, paired with his pain, would point to Christ.

9…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

If there’s one thing that Paul’s testimony should tell the church today, it’s this: God’s saving grace is fully shown when He uses broken people for His glory!

To Conclude

We will never fully understand why God does or doesn’t do certain things.  Levels of doubt will continue to surround many of life’s circumstances.  In fact, it almost feels impossible to actually live for God when the plan seems so uncertain.

The pain of losing a job, battling cancer, an unfaithful spouse, persecution, chronic illness, losing a loved one, family tensions, addictions, or…I’m sure you can fill-in the blank, are all so overwhelming that it’s difficult to see any form of good.  I think the key is to step back, revisit how God has blessed us with grace, and realize that this life is temporary.  God is establishing His Kingdom and when we find ourselves doubting God’s plan we have to refocus on the goal – to save the lost, and trust in God’s all-sufficient grace to carry us through when God’s plan doesn’t make sense to us.

Whether we find ourselves doubting God’s truth, voice, or even plan, we have to give ourselves enough space in order for us to process our doubts.  While we do so, we can live knowing that God is waiting for us and willing to provide us with an all-sufficient grace that will help us take faith-filled steps as we grow towards maturity.

Check out Part 3 of this series – “When We Doubt God’s Voice”

Your turn…

Have you ever doubted God’s plan?  Did you let doubt pull you closer to God or push God away?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

When We Doubt God’s Voice

Christian Doubt, Part 3

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Have you ever heard God’s voice?  What was your response?  I remember the first time I heard God’s voice.  I did nothing.  That’s right ? nothing.  It sounded like something and I was somewhat confident it was God, and yet I dismissed it.  You could say it was because it was the first time it occurred, or I was on a journey of understanding, but if I’m honest, there are still times when I question what God is saying to me.  The issue is not doubting if God can speak; rather, if it’s God I’m hearing.  In a world where God is not respected or even, at times, acknowledged, God’s voice is difficult to hear and understand.

Christian Doubt, Part 3

I’m reminded of Gideon. Gideon was one of the judges before Israel had a king.  During this time, the Israelites were rebelling against God, let alone the pagan cultures around them.  Their cycle of spirituality was very similar to the cycle of many today: rebel against God, experience pain, cry out to God for help, God sends help, and when things are better, rebel once again.  Sound familiar?  It was in that atmosphere, that God spoke to Gideon, and challenged him to do the impossible act of saving Israel from the hand of their enemy (Judges 6-7).

Let’s look at how Gideon responded to God’s voice.  Here are three things we can learn:

1. Gideon initially responded with questions.

God ensured Gideon that He was with them and would bring them through the trial they were facing.  But Gideon responded with questions: “Pardon me… but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13)

I couldn’t relate more to Gideon.  How many times has God put a promise and a challenge in my lap, and my response has been, “why now?”, or “where were you when I needed you?”

In response, God asked Gideon another question: “Am I not sending you?” (6:14) Gideon responded with more doubt: “But how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (6:15).

Not only was Gideon doubting God’s activity among them, he also doubted his ability to help.  I think we often doubt how much God can use us.  As a result, we push away God’s calling on our lives.  What Gideon didn’t know was that God was about to show the Israelites, and everyone around them, His omnipotence, by defeating the Midianites with only 300 men (7:2; 7-8).  God wants to show his glory by qualifying the called.  (We’ll explore how God uses our weaknesses for His glory in Part 4)

2. God patiently waits.

Gideon wanted a sign to confirm that this was indeed God’s voice.  If you couldn’t relate up to this point, I’m sure you can now.  How many times have I asked God to confirm what I’m, “pretty sure”, I’m hearing.

It’s encouraging to know that, when we doubt God’s voice, He patiently waits for us. Click To TweetGod’s response to Gideon’s request for a sign has given me so much encouragement:

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” (Judges 6:17-18)

It’s not until after God revealed his power through an angel by miraculously consuming Gideon’s offering, that Gideon began to really acknowledge God’s voice (6:19-24).  It’s encouraging to know that, when we doubt God’s voice, He patiently waits for us.  In fact, God is willing to be so patient, that he allows us to process our doubts as He waits.

Gideon responded with his famous request: the sign of the fleece.  He was about to take an army into action and needed further confidence.

36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:36-40)

God’s patience with Gideon is truly remarkable.  God waited, proved himself, and confirmed twice to Gideon that the call he was hearing was indeed God and God’s promise.

3. Gideon’s moments of doubt led to faith-filled steps.

Gideon’s journey, as he processed his doubt, led Him to different moments of action.  Gideon doubted God’s voice because of God’s recent lack of activity; however, when an angel appeared before him, he responded with worship and prepared an altar for God (6:22-24).  Gideon doubted his ability to save his fellow Israelites; however, when God called, he took a step forward to destroy his father’s altar for Baal and replaced it with an altar for God (6:25-32).  Gideon doubted God’s promise of saving them from the Midianites; however, when God confirmed through the sign of the fleece, Gideon stepped forward and began to gather as many men as he could (6:36-7:1).

God is patient, but He expects us to take action. #Doubt #FaithSteps Click To TweetIt’s one thing to doubt and dialogue with God accordingly; it’s another thing, to remain in the state of doubt without taking faith-filled steps forward.  After all, it’s our doubt and uncertainty that causes us to walk in faith.1  If we had all the answers we wouldn’t need faith.

God is patient, but He expects us to take action.

How do we move forward?

When God told my wife and me that we had to move away for school, I was full of doubt.  I wanted to ignore God’s voice at all costs, but I’m thankful that God was patient with me.  He simply waited as I processed my doubt.  I remember challenging God with “an impossible test” – a transfer to Toronto with my current employer.  Not only did I receive the transfer, but also a promotion.  God waited and I was able to process.  God provided and I had a choice to either ignore or to take a faith-filled step forward.  Even when we made the decision to move, I still wasn’t all-in.  There were many more doubts I had to process, but God continued to wait, let me process, and provided ways for me to step forward.

God waits for us to process our doubt & gives steps towards maturity. Click To TweetIt’s alright to dialogue with God – it’s called discerning.  God is willing and waiting for us to process the doubts we have.  God’s voice may not always make sense, but He will empower us to do the impossible. He often uses the weak to prove our accomplishments are beyond our own ability.  After all, why would God do the impossible if it didn’t lead back to Him?

I believe the key is to take the answer(s) we receive and take one faith-filled step at a time.  Like the Psalmist said, “[God’s] Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).  God will wait for us to process our doubt and we have to respond by taking one faith-filled step at a time.

When we doubt God’s voice, God waits for us to process our doubt and gives us the ability to take faith-filled steps towards maturity.

Check out Part 2 of this series – “When We Doubt God’s Truth”

Your turn…

How do you process doubt?  Do you know God’s voice?  If you do, how do you discern God’s voice?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]