Mission Statement

Hate Christians? You'll love me.

"If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Constant Comfort

I am not a trusting person. I do not look at my fellow human beings and think, "there is an inherently good group of people!" I have had to do better since I up and left everyone I knew a state or two away. And I am learning to give people at least one chance.

But I have come to learn I never need to doubt in God. Just like the ocean's waves coming in every few seconds, God will never stop coming to me. No matter how ugly my life becomes God is always there like the rhythm of the waves breaking over the shoreline.

So while I understand distrusting those around you, the imperfection of the people in this world should not cause you to distrust God. He is the one and only constant we can find in the world.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

One Day in the Life

So I've been working through the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. On Goodreads there is a group that reads one book every month. This month we are reading "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." While I was reading this morning a line from the novel hit me smack in the face:

"A convict's thoughts are no freer than he is: they come back to the same place, worry over the same thing continually."

I thought about this a lot. Well, at least 20 minutes or so. And I know that I am a prisoner to myself sometimes. Taking the thought backwards - my thoughts worry over the same thing continually, I find myself going back to the same thought again and again. Does that make me a prisoner?

I know that it does at least part of the time. For instance, I am constantly aware of my weight. If it shifts I feel it, I am ever aware of how my body feels against my clothes. And I hate it. I have gained some weight with my medicines over the years and I feel completely out of control to do anything about it sometimes.

These thoughts come to me sometimes hourly. But what is it doing? Secular and non secular alike would agree that a person is not his mere physical make up. But by many definitions I am obsessed with my appearance.

In the Christian world, I know that this should not haunt me the way it does. It makes me a prisoner to my physical body, which (thank God) I will not have with me forever. If I focus on the things of God, whatever is true, whatever is holy, what is good, these battles will not come back to me every time I shift in my seat. I will not worry about what I have to do or how sick I feel because I know these things will all pass away.

One day.

Friday, January 18, 2013

In the beginning...

...you walk into a church.

And that in itself is a terrifying sentence. You walk into a church for the first time and you don't know if anyone is going to care you are there. You may just be a body to fill a seat or you may be an inconvenience. But if you are lucky, you feel that spark, that connection with a special church and you settle down to make a family.

I am not the first to compare church shopping to dating and I will not be the last. You dress up in your best, you feel awkward and nervous and you notice the little things like, why does he sweat so much? That guy chews funny. This lady smells funny.

The worst for me is getting into a church and not knowing what to do next. Do I snack on the goodies in the back? Do I sit down right away? Will I be sitting in someone else's seat and have to move? Will anyone at all say "hi" to me?

I feel funny going back the second time as well. In fact, when I was looking for churches a couple of months ago, I would not be able to sleep the night before. Which did make it hard to get up in the morning and be my best.

But after about a month about my new church, that feeling finally went away. I finally recognize the people I greet in the morning. I feel like a part of it when people know me. And all in all, for all the stress, when you find the right place you hardly remember that feeling you had when you walked in the door.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Starting over

So let me backtrack some. The obvious premise of this blog is that I am a Christian who has grown up in an abusive church. It has beaten me up time and time again. Why do I keep going back? Because I still love God. And if I am to love God I am supposed to love His Church. (John 15:12)

One thing that has been a catalyst for me in the past few months is leaving the church I had become cocooned in for ten years and being forced to look around churches to find something for me. We moved eight hours away from home and if I wanted to create any kind of community here I would need a church. I began to ache for it in a way that I have never hungered for the Church. I went to one church here and I felt completely rejected. It felt as if I filled out a visitor sheet and someone behind the scene said, "no, we don't need her" and the church just kept going. About a month after I requested information and community a nice group did come visit, but it was at that point I had decided to continue on my journey.

And that next step is where I find myself now. I found my church home that next week. Logically I kept thinking I should maybe visit other churches or give myself more time, but within a week I knew - this was where God wanted me to be right now. And I would settle in and do whatever God gave me to do. And rock the stinking socks off it.

But even as a Christian it is terrifying to walk into a church where you know no one. And if no one even says hello, it feels like a rejection. How much more important would it be to be friendly to that visitor if you knew that her spiritual survival might hinge on if you show him or her Christ or give them the cold shoulder?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

So last night...

I attended this event at my new church. I started back in October and I am really excited about the prospect of being an active member after this church after laying dormant for so long in my old congregation.
The honeymoon phase is so exciting! The opportunities feel endless! No one here carries preconceived notions of who I am or what I can and cannot do as a member. Here it is all still hugs and genuine smiles. It always takes a while to get at the gross stuff that is swept under the carpet.
What makes me so happy here is that they recognize there is stuff swept under the carpet. There is no pretense that we are any different from each other, that by being in the church longer you are then holier than me. For example - try to beat me. I have grown up in the church AND I have two degrees from Liberty University, what up? No. I have seen people become Christians and shoot right past me on the "holy" scale. The idea that there is competition about who is the cleaner pig is beyond me.
But anyhoo, my church seems to be as real as a church can be, real and forthcoming. So how do I know I won't be burned again?
One answer - I have taken the precaution of putting no person on a pedestal. I do not look to anyone like they are higher or holier, that they have all the answers. When that person inevitably fails you, the boom from the fall can cause earthquakes in your life.
And lastly, I just do not know if I will be burned again or not. People will be people and people can hurt other people. It is one of our many freedoms. So will Satan attack me through this church? Chances are if I am on my guard and I can focus on serving God the best I can and doing the best job of what I have been given to do in the church that I should not have the time to focus too much on being brought down by a load of someone else's garbage.
In reference to my last post though, I am still a spaz around the pastorate. I trying to play that one cool, but I am never myself around someone who calls themselves a pastor of our church. I crawl so far into myself I feel like a shy little girl on the first day of school. I just completely retreat. I can be myself in a group of pastors...but one on one I keep expecting to hear that I just do not add up. So this will be a process that I am thinking will not solve itself quickly.
More to come!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm Kind of a Spaz

I have diagnosed myself with a fear of church.

It was a long time coming. I grew up in the institute and have come by my fear honestly. Let me give you just a quick run down of my church experiences:

I was almost "kicked out" of the choir when I was in high school for going to another church's youth group.

I was in a car wreck, laid out, and the only church person to visit wanted the supplies out of my totaled car that I bought for a church event.

I was elected to speak in front of the church on a special event Sunday but the pastor vetoed because I am a girl.

I was called "mentally unstable" by one of my pastors.

So yeah, I may have "pastor phobia."

But it doesn't have to stay that way. God is working to make me new.

Until He completes His work though, I am kind of a spaz. Meeting new church folks makes me edgy. Inside I feel like my dog, wagging all over and screaming, "LIKE ME!" But in my mind I know the truth is found in Galatians 1:10 -

"For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."

Do I really care what every person thinks of me? If someone is not going to like me for me than there is no reason to jump up and down, performing, and begging to be approved. Begging to be loved.

In the Church we won't be best friends with everybody. But we are called to love everybody. After all does our hand hate our foot? I don't think so. That would be weird. In the same way the body of Christ is called to function (as our bodies at their best.) See Romans 12:4-5.

So I am calling myself to relax. Freaking out never made me friends with anyone. Let's remember whose opinion really matters as we go about our business today.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Working for God

I do my best to work for God. But often times what I feel God calls me to do makes me uncomfortable. So instead I like to curl up with a good book or watch t.v. and try to escape those uncomfortable feelings.
And then I feel guilty. Whenever I miss an opportunity to talk to someone about God or just share encouragement with someone who is difficult I feel bad. Like I am a broken cog in God's plan or some such thing. Fellow Christians, you may have felt this way before. But let me lay down some truth here for you.


Whether or not you go to church, whether or not you gave money, whether or not you stand up and share the Gospel, it's still not about you. The whole point of a life lived for Christ - it is all about Him.

God doesn't need us to complete His work here on Earth. He is going to finish His plans regardless of if we are a part of it. The only reason for us to get involved is because He loves us and He wants to bless us with the joy of being involved with something bigger than ourselves.

So don't ruin it and make it all about you. Remember, all we are is a speck of sand along God's big ocean. And being near the beach, I realize just how small that makes us. We are blessed to be invited just to share that same ocean with Him.

Loving Him.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What is Going On?

I ask myself this question nearly every day of my life. What is going on? What is the point?
Life gets so messy and my life never looks like the lady's in Proverbs 31...or the women on television...or that woman sitting next to me at church...sigh.
It is so easy to envision everyone else as having it better than we do. But in truth we all struggle, Christians and non-Christians alike. We are all big bundles of mess. But as Christians we are given the promise in Romans 8:28 that whatever our mess is it will all work out for good in the end.
So why do good people suffer? I do not get that. But from history I know that what God says is true. Look at Joseph in the Old Testament. He got too cocky and his brothers almost murdered him for it. At the last minute they sold him into slavery. He was working at Potipher's house only to have his stupid wife come on to him. And then when he avoided her she set him up to look like he had gone through with the affair. Then he is imprisoned. He helps an employee of the king out, asking that he remember his name when the guy goes back to he king. Does he? Of course not. It is two more years before the guy remembers Joseph, and then it's just because he needs something from him. But it turns out that interpreting the king's dream gets Joseph in real good with the king. He becomes the second in command.
How long did all this take? I'm sure someone knows, but I am not good at math and I don't think it really matters. Playing the waiting game for 15 years or 15 minutes is too long when we are in an uncomfortable situation. David waited 16 years between when Samuel told him he would become king of Israel and when he actually took the throne.
My question is when you are in the waiting period, the uncomfortable times, do you just give up on God? Do you assume that He is no longer there?
People may fail you, but no matter what I can promise God never will. I have seen all sorts of people fail me, I have seen the church fail me. But God has never left my side.
I do not know why God allows certain things to happen. I will never understand why he allows a man to shoot little first graders or similar actions. All I have is the promise that things will work out if we trust God. And right now that is my hope.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Faith and Scarlett O'Hara

So looking ahead at a new year there is so much to hope. But with all the resolutions that people are making are we in danger of losing our faith?

One of my favorite books ever is "Gone With the Wind." And unlike many, I love Scarlett O'Hara. The way she rises above the stereotypical woman of the day and sustains herself impresses me. She just gets it done. She does what it takes to get what she wants. Whether you agree with what she does to get what she wants is debatable.

But the truth is that as a Christian this should not be the approach we take with things. Christian Mingle commercials say that you shouldn't wait for God to bring you a mate. God wants you to act now and He wants you to sign up for their service! But in truth isn't waiting on Him just what God wants?

When I push ahead to get what I want, a lot of times I end up with a big mess on my hands. Either that or what I find on the end is just the opposite of what I wanted. It takes more strength to let God do His will than it does to jump ahead in my story.

Fireflight's song "Unbreakable" refers to faith as "moving without knowing." We can remain faithful in what we have now without knowing what lies ahead. And that is hard. I do not know what is ahead for me, I just know that I am not afraid to trust myself in God's hands.

I John 3:2 talks about how we do not know yet what we will be. And as we grope forward in 2013 we don't know what we will be, but if we move forward in genuine faith we will come out better at the end than we arrived at in the beginning. Here's a toast to a beautiful new year for you and me both!