I must stop buying books. I should take more advantage of our library and interlibrary loans. My library has always provided any books I’ve asked for so far. So why did I order Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist? The author, Dave Schmelzer, appeared on the 700 Club last week and explained that he had always been an atheist but had friends who not only believed in God but had a “relationship” with him. He couldn’t understand what they were saying but when things were not going well in college he decided to try praying. “And I prayed for the first time in a long time along the lines of, ‘God, I don’t believe that you’re real. But if I’m wrong this would be a terrific day to show me.’”

He decided to go to a movie to forget his troubles and took a wrong road returning to campus. While looking at a map and driving he hit a post. “I realized that what I’d hit wasn’t a post. Filling my windshield was a giant flood-lit cross….Normally this wouldn’t have been a big deal but I had, in fact, prayed that day that if there was a God he’d show himself to me.” Again he tried to figure out how to get back to campus. He pulled into a parking lot to check his map. “As I pulled out something odd struck me. I had parked right underneath a giant flood-lit cross. So that was two giant flood-lit crosses in about a ten-minute span.” At that point he sensed something “which I can quote to this day: ‘Dave, you always thought that if there was a God the good news would be that he cares about humanity. I’m here to tell you that there is a God and I care about you.’”

This is not a long book, or a deep book – only 175 pages. Over time Schmelzer is convinced that there is a God, God is good, God answers prayer, and Jesus is God. And joy is to be found following Jesus. As a single man he asked God if there were any women he should keep an eye on. “Faster than a blink I sensed God saying, ‘Have you thought about Grace Coltrin?’” At that time he was 28 and Grace was 23 and though he knew Grace he thought she seemed very young.

Of course, he and Grace get married and do exciting things together. At the time he writes this book he is 44 and Senior Pastor at Vineyard Fellowship of Greater Boston, with an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Seminary. His book invites one not to a belief (in a religion) but to a relationship (with Jesus). Religion, he says, divides; Jesus unites.

One chapter heading indicates that everyone has two options: we can go with the flow and be bored, or follow Jesus and be terrified. Stepping out in faith can be a scary thing.

I have written before about how to hear God.   Mr. Schmelzer thinks that God wants to be in touch with us. Revelations 3:20 reads: Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.

This book is one man’s story of what happened when he opened the door. Not a bad place to start. One never knows where that might lead!


It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. — Hebrews 10:31