One thing I have found that seems to infuriate many people, especially atheists is the sureness, the unshakable confidence that we as Christians have in our faith, that we have the answers, that we have the truth. They just can't understand how we can be so convinced, so undoubtedly sure of our beliefs. The simple answer for us is that they have never had the meeting. Imagine that you go to work in a large office building. You see the bosses name on company documents, you hear him mentioned and talked about. But how do you know he exists? How can you be sure he isn't just a figurehead created by the board of directors to give a personal touch to their employees? You don't. You can't prove that he exists. You ask your co-workers and hear tales of his great generosity and how lucky they are to be working for him. But when you ask them to prove he exists they just give you a condescending, knowing smile and walk off. But one day you are summoned to his office and he greets you and welcomes you to the company. When you leave that meeting you will never again doubt that there is a boss. And when a new hire says that he doesn't believe that he exists you will just smile and walk off. Simplistic I know, but I think it illustrates what I am trying to convey. The existence of God and belief in him is not something that one arrives at logically or is convinced of by any amount of empirical evidences. Until you have the meeting you cannot be certain. You may believe, but you aren't sure in your belief. Only once you have had the meeting are you absolutely, unquestionably convinced and sure. This is the rub for non-believers. The sure certainty that we who have had the meeting exhibit. I had the meeting in 1979 and since that day I can no more deny the existence of God than I can deny the existence of the sun. It just is. I know it is, without any doubt, with all certainty, it is just a fact. Non-believers try to rationalize that faith. They examine the evidence and when they are not convinced by it they reject it. They try to put a spiritual matter in a physical box. An immortal concept into a mortal framework. And that just doesn't work. No person I have ever known just woke up one day and decided to be a Christian. No one has ever been, or ever will, become a Christian from being convinced by the evidence. You cannot be talked into it. You can never examine the teachings, read the bible, attend a church, and then decide "OK, I guess I will become a Christian now." It just doesn't work that way. You are trying to rationalize a thing of the spirit with your mortal mind. Now I admit that there a some who have become pew warmers and preachers for profit that have never had the meeting. People whom for whatever reason give lip service to Churchianity. But those aren't the ones I am talking about here. I am talking about the ones who have had the meeting. Who have met God, talked to God, and have an unswerving knowledge of God. Not a faith in, not a belief in, but a sure knowledge of. Scripture mentions three types of believers, the "called", the "faithful" and the "chosen". Many believe, and teach that this is simply three names for all believers. But I reject that theory and have a complete study on the subject. I believe that they are three distinct groups. The way I describe it is like this; Imagine that there is a big concert coming to town, some big name singer is coming to perform. The "call" goes out on all the airwaves, in all the media, the promoters make sure that everyone in town has a chance to know that the they are coming. Radio ads urge people to get your tickets now. Then there are the singer’s followers, the groupies and the die-hard fans, the "faithful". They will know that he is coming and to what city. They will have followed the news of the tour from before the time it began. They will have bought their tickets months in advance. Then you have the last group. The singer will have some people that he personally invites to the show, the stage manager, the promoters, they will have comp tickets to be given out to those they invite, to the "chosen", the ones they go to and say "I want you to come". I believe the called to be all those that answer the call to salvation. The call has gone out and it is open for any who accept it. Then there are those who were raised in the faith, raised in church, in a Christian home. They go to church and they believe the scriptures and they have never doubted their authority, they are the faithful. But then you have a few that are chosen. Ones who God comes to directly and says, "I want you". Scripture has many accounts of the chosen, Paul probably being the most well known. I don't necessarily claim to be "chosen", but I was certainly not the faithful, and I never dreamed of answering the "call". It took God himself to summon me to the meeting, to convince me that he existed, that he was real. Many of the called have had the meeting, but many have not. I think of it as hearing what a wonderful company to work for, what a great boss, they answer the call and they are happy in the company and they don't question the existence of the boss. Same with the faithful. They work for the boss, maybe their parents worked for the boss, they know he exists and how good he is, they don't have to have a face-to-face meeting. But there are many who have to have that assurance, and once it happens, once you have the meeting, you will never again doubt, never again consider leaving for another company. I hope I have explained that to some degree of clarity. But to illustrate what I am talking about I am going to share with you something that not a lot of people have ever heard. It is a story that only those who attend the concert know, those fellow believers that I can confide in and share with. I have never put it out there for general public display before. But I hope that if nothing else you gain at least some understanding of why many of us are so sure in our beliefs, why we are unshakable in our faith, why we would die before denying God. It's because we have had the meeting. I had the meeting one night in the late summer of 1979 on a mountaintop high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I never would have imagined that I of all people would ever become "one of them". I grew up in a semi religious home. I had many religious people in my family, a couple of them preachers. Both of my grandmothers were very devout. My Dad was a rough and tumble oilman. He drank and gambled and did all the things that a good roughneck would do. He considered his faith between him and God and nobody else’s business. My mother was religious but she was not the go to church type. So I grew up around it but not immersed in it. When I got older I became somewhat of a bookworm. I loved to read and a had a very scientific mind. I had, and have, an extremely higher than normal I.Q. I hesitate to mention that, as you can't say that without sounding like a braggart or vain. But it is just simple fact, a genetic anomaly that God installed in my DNA. I prided myself on my intelligence, At 13 and 14 yrs old I was reading Freud, Jung, Nietzsche. And I was a complete and avowed atheist. I would tell other kids in my class how Freud said that God is simply a concept to assuage an adult males need for a father figure. How the Greeks saw the sun traverse the sky and invented stories of gods with fiery chariots to explain it. They invented gods to explain the unexplainable world they lived in. I had many a heated debate with many of my more devout relatives. Many of them came to me to try and open my eyes, to show me the error of my ways. I scoffed at them and their superstitions. So when I left home on that afternoon in 1979 the last thing I would ever have believed was that when I returned I would be "one of them". I was working at a place called the Nevada Test Site for the Dept. of Energy. I can't go into any details on what we were doing, but it isn't relevant to my story. I was working a shift job. Meaning that we had three eight-hour shifts. I was on graveyard that week. We weren't allowed to drive our personal vehicles around the site. We parked at a main base area and were picked up by large 20 passenger vans that would take us to our various work locations. I was working in an area that was very high up in the mountains. Many of us, myself included, were just coming back from days off. It was late at night and everyone was sleepy. It was a long drive and most people slept most of it. The driver would play the AM radio and as was usual back then once you started climbing into the mountains you would invariably lose the signal. He would roll around the dial looking for something to keep him awake. And invariable, especially late at night he would stumble across an AM radio preacher spouting his fire and brimstone sermon. If he lingered on the station for any length of time at all someone on the bus would yell "turn that crap off, find some music". This happened every time I can ever remember on that ride. This particular night I was leaning my head back in my seat, trying to sleep. I was recalling the long weekend just passed. I had spent it at the lake, partying myself into a drug induced stupor. I knew I had fun, I just couldn't recall all of it. It was the 70's after all. And before anyone says "aha!” No I did not have any drugs in my system at the time. I was clean and sober. It was around 11 pm and we were high up in the mountains. The bus was very quiet, with the exception of light snoring. The station the driver had on was playing some old 50's tunes but it soon faded out as usual and he began his nightly station search. I wasn't paying any attention; I was looking out of the window at the most beautiful full moon I have ever seen. It was just becoming visible above the ridgeline of the pass we were going through. It took a few minutes to draw my attention back inside the bus. Something wasn't right. I looked around and realized that the driver had stopped the radio on one of those loud mouthed preaching programs. I waited for someone to yell for him to change it, and waited, the bus was quiet. I thought that everyone must be asleep. I looked around and saw that although several were sleeping there were quite a few that had their eyes open, staring straight ahead and appeared to be listening. I thought to myself "great, I have to listen to this crap". I laid my head back, closed my eyes and tried to sleep. But the preachers endless droning was preventing that. He got to the part where he invited anyone who didn't have "the blood of Jeezus on them to come forward and be washed in the blood brothers and sisters!!" What a crock I thought to myself. How pathetic that these people couldn't handle life and had to have such a blatantly ridiculous crutch to get them by. The preacher was droning on about how everyone needed to be forgiven and accept salvation, blah, blah, blah. "God is waiting for your call, he is waiting for you to just reach out and call to him". At this point I have to explain a bit about my character. I have always had an inquisitive mind, I have a love hate relationship with any kind of puzzle or riddle. I cannot stand to not know something. I see a crossword puzzle and I have to work it. Someone gave me a Rubik’s cube one time and I didn't leave me room for three days until I had solved it. I thought that I had most things in life figured out. More than just the normal 20 something hubris. I put great store in my intellect and was sure that there wasn't much in life that I didn't know. Back to the bus, I was listening to the preacher drone on and on and I said my first prayer since my childhood. I leaned back closed my eyes and said, " OK, God, this guy says you are out there, that you are real. But I don't believe that. I don't believe that you are real. But if you are, if you are really there, I want to know it, I want to know the truth." Now I had said the "sinners prayer" that I was urged to in Sunday school when I was young, and I had prayed for a few things in my youth. But this was, I know now, very different, I was not praying with my mind, I was praying with my spirit. I was in the right frame of mind; I was honest in my search for the truth. And that is when I had the meeting, God answered me, he spoke to me, he said two words "I'm here". Now when someone talks about hearing the voice of God many people scoff. They make jokes about your sanity, what did he sound like, etc. But what non-believers don't seem to understand is that God is spirit. And you talk to him, and he to you, in the spirit. I heard the words, but it wasn't a booming voice from the clouds, it wasn't anything that the guy beside me could have heard, and it certainly wasn't my own mind. Anyone who has had the meeting, anyone who has heard the voice of God knows for a certainty what it is, there is no doubt. And believe me that night and even many times since I have wished it could have been my own imagination, but it wasn't. It was the spirit of the creator who created me speaking to me in the spirit. I knew immediately that it was the voice of God and in an instant, in less than the blink of an eye, all my doubt vanished, all my "intellect" that I was so proud of, all of my intellectual arguments, just vanished like a puff of smoke. I knew God was real, I knew it was true. The guilt and the weight of the sin of my life washed over me, a crushing weight of conviction. I never before felt guilty for anything, but in that instance I knew that I was and just how low and how despicable my life was. The conviction of my crimes slammed down on me. It was crushing me. I said my second prayer then and there, the sinners prayer, a heartfelt cry from the spirit for forgiveness, an admission of the terrible guilt I was feeling. And then it lifted, it vanished and the relief was almost too much to bear. The sudden lifting of that crushing knowledge was such a sweet and pure feeling. It is an awesome experience and one that saddens me to know that many have never experienced. That is one reason Christians who have had the meeting are so exuberant and so quick to want to share with people and to try to convert them. The experience is so sweet that we want everyone to know about it, we want everyone to experience it, we want to shout it from the rooftops. Now God says he knew us from before we were in the womb. He knows the number of every hair on our heads. He knows us better than we will ever know ourselves. And he knew that with my scientific, rational, questioning mind that I would begin to doubt my experience. That I needed more than just the pure sweetness of forgiveness. I had to have something tangible, something undeniable that would sustain me in the years to come, to know, without doubt, that I had met with almighty God, the creator of the universe that night. A parting gift if you will. Now I have talked to some people who have had a similar experience, but not a lot. I think that God gives to those who need it. It doesn't happen to everyone and not always in this manner but this is how he sealed the deal with me. The bible says that no man can see the face of God and live. He showed Moses just a glimpse from the rear and it turned his hair white and his face glowed so brightly that he had to wear a veil when he addressed the Israelites. That night he showed himself to me, just the smallest, faintest sliver, and now I know why no man can see his face and live. Their mortal body could not handle the pure essence of joy that results from being in his presence. The most intense, utter, rapturous joy poured into me that one could ever experience. My heart felt like it was going to explode, I could hardly sit still. I couldn't wait to get off that bus. I was a three pack a day smoker, but when we got to the site I threw all my cigarettes away and never even wanted another one. Normally just coming back to work after a long weekend everyone is tired and slow and we didn't do much that wasn't absolutely necessary. But not me, not that night. I couldn't sit still. I worked harder than I had in years. I cleaned, I painted, I did anything I could to try and relieve some of the energy I had inside me. Now at this time in my life I had experimented with about every drug known to man. But I had never had a high like this, no chemical could ever have produced the intense euphoria that I was feeling. It was so intense that it hurt. I know now that it was the result of being that close to the presence of God. No mortal body could stand to see much more than he revealed to me that night. And it wasn't a visible presence, again it is spiritual, the barest, most minute sliver of his spirit touched mine. Any more and my heart would have burst. The effects of my meeting were very physical and lasting. I had to force myself to lay down and sleep and when I woke I literally jumped out of the bed ready to go. For three days! It was the most intense high that I had ever had. I was wired up and on fire for days. So now when I get an opportunity to debate the gospel with someone I speak in a knowing tone that many find very frustrating. They want me to prove it, they want to debate the details, argue the merits of this theory or that. What this scientific study says or what other religions teach. And myself and others who have had the meeting just smile and walk off. We know the truth. And it is not our truth, it is not my truth, it is the truth. Now there is a lot of religion that can be debated, a lot of doctrine that can be argued, a lot of false teachings that can be challenged, but the truth, the fact, that there is a god and he is interested in the lives of man. That is undeniable, to those who have had the meeting. It is not a smug superiority, a vain ego, a condescending attitude as many perceive. It is simply that we have met the boss. We know the truth, we know it is truth. We have had the meeting.