The empirical experience of faith.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Philippians 2: 5-8 

A few posts ago I wrote on empirical versus clinical research in regards to behavior change and kicking old habits by sticking with them consistently for 21 days. To rehash it, the gist is that empirical evidence is based on results gathered through actions in practice, observation and experimentation. On the contrary, clinical research is a branch of medical science  that determines the safety and effectiveness of medications, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens intended for human use. These may be used for prevention.

So empirical evidence stands in contrast to the rationalist view under which reason or reflection alone is considered to be evidence for the truth or falsity of some propositions.  The senses are the primary source of empirical evidence. Although other sources of evidence, such as memory, and the testimony of others ultimately trace back to some sensory experience, they are considered to be secondary, or indirect.

So I’ve been reflecting on these two different types of evidence and research gathering methods in regards to faith-based belief systems. I see that since I was a young child I’ve been taught to put God first, to do the right things, to care about people, to think about others and to forgive and show compassion. As a child, this was simple and very natural. In preteen years it became more complicated and challenging to stay focused, but support and direction were always ever-present. In teenage years, it became even more challenging and temptation was more present in the form of boys, alcohol, drugs, cheating, skipping school, being distracted from purpose, work ethic and God. Also, at this time there was a large falling away from faith of some of the people closest to me within my circle of friends and in my family, and myself. (I guess this is just what they call “growing up” and learning.) It seemed that distraction and confusion was the norm. The clear, simple-to-follow golden rules of childhood melted away under the distracted, busy adolescent years going into the 20’s. So I also fell away from faith and for many years lived without outwardly expressing faith in Jesus, though I was always searching, studying and working to be a decent human being.

And I see, as we all move through our lifetimes and face challenges, obstacles and distractions from our faith, we are being tested, strengthened or shaped into the people God would have us to be.

But see, we have this element of free-will wired into us, and during all these events we’re constantly choosing our reactions and the path that we will take.

What does all this have to do with empirical evidence?

My faith in Jesus has been strengthened through the storms, trials and the falling away. It has shown me two ways of living: with Him and without Him. I see that without Him, drugs, sex, addiction, confusion, low-levels of health and poor habits were mastering my life and so many lives around me. I learned that with Him, I was stronger, making healthier connections with people, learning how to give back, to love, to lean on Him entirely and to rest in the perfect peace of his light yoke. The empirical evidence gathered by experiences, the observations of the experiences of others, my sight, my heart and my mind reactions began pointing me back to the truth of Jesus Christ.

I’m at the point in my faith where a lot of things slide off of my back. Because based on all the empirical evidence I’ve been gathering over the past 28 years I see that my faith and my story has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s lack of faith or lack of belief. But it has everything to do with the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made when he gave Himself – totally – for the betterment of humankind. And my faith, my walk, my health has only been strengthened because of His mercy and His hand on my life. I see that God gets all the glory for saving me from a life of shame, anger, addiction and pain and for doing this for so many others. His grace truly is amazing.

This is why the Serenity Prayer is so powerful in recovery practice – recovery from abuse, recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, recovery from sex addiction, recovery from co-dependency or recovery from loss and the bereavement process. We truly must ask for discernment and wisdom in our walk to good health and a good life. This is why recovery is a process. It’s a daily walk.

We must ask God to weed out the poor influence, the low feelings, the hurt, the pain – we must ask Him to pull all of those things out and to help us change what it is we can change. He has to pull out the bad roots to allow his good seed to grow. We must use our free-will to assume control over the things we can control. Only the things we can control. And we ask for wisdom to know the difference. It’s amazing what this prayer can do. It’s amazing what God can do!


(Courtesy of Google images.)

Great scripture for meditating on wisdom:

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

Proverbs Chapter 2

2 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.

16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.[a]
18 Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the unfaithful will be torn from it.



(Courtesy of Google images.)

Valerie Rumfelt

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