Monday, August 25, 2014

Church: To Go or Not to Go... That is the question

I've grown up in church my whole life. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night without fail. It's been instilled in me, without question or option. I've seen preachers come, and preachers go. I've seen preachers stand behind the pulpit very calmly and I've seen preachers get so excited until they end up jumping numerous pews. Needless to say, that if you ever see me sitting in the back part of the church, and you wonder why I'm not front and center, that's why. When the spirit hits the excited preacher, I don't want to be anywhere near the front.
Jesus is very much alive in the back pews too. Amen?
Although I've grown, and have come into my own views and ways of worship, I very much cherish the views and traditions of my elders regarding church. There are those that are sticklers for tradition, and that's okay. For a while, I found myself torn between sticking with what I've grown up with, (tradition) or disappointing my parents by venturing out of the box to find my own way to worship. Maybe I shouldn't use disappointment. Maybe I should say they're worried. Worried, because they want me to be careful and prayerful of what I find myself participating in. Not that I blame them, because I have two daughters that will soon be venturing into this world, out of the very protected nest that I have built around them.
There was also a time, not to long ago, in which I found myself in a state of disappointment with the church as a whole. I felt like the church was more consumed with how things should run, missing the whole point of why we were there to begin with. While we argued amongst ourselves, people were walking on by, and weren't being lead to Jesus. Young people were finding other ways to be fulfilled. To the point, I let "church politics" stand in my way, ultimately making me question why I should go to church at all, and then I let Satan win the church battle.
I stopped going all together. Why go, if all we're going to do is quarrel amongst ourselves and eventually have hard feelings towards one another over petty things like traditional vs. contemporary? Or how things are supposed to work in church. I can worship at home and get just as much. I wonder how many other people feel this way?
I really was heartbroken, because I have always had such a passion to serve Jesus, not only outside the church but in, and what I was left with was confusion. I'm sure that there are people who will disagree and say that the church is fine, but that's where I was. At a standstill. So, I asked God to tell me why I should go. I didn't want to hear the ten thousand good reasons why I should from everyone else, I wanted to hear it from God. So He told me.
"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." -Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
There it is. Plain as day.
We're the church. The building where we gather together to worship is simply an outward indication of what we believe and what's in our hearts. It's a place to hear the Word of God, encouraging us to go out and do what it says.
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." -James 1:22 (KJV)
It's a place where you can find encouragement and strength among fellow Christians. It's a place where we can worship in harmony together. You want to know the biggest reason why I should go, even though I felt disappointed? Because God said He would be with me always. Thru every trial and storm. Thru every disappointment in life.
"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." -Matthew 28:20 (NLT)
God showed me plenty of reasons why I should to go to church. I've also learned that there is no perfect church. There are no perfect people. People will disappoint you and let you down, but you have to hold tight to the faith we so often talk about.
So... To go or not to go. That is the question.
You want my answer?
Go. Let God work out the rest.
Don't take my word for it though. Let God guide you through all the reasons why you should.
There is no greater thing than to be taught by God.
Love in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Today, as I watched my babies walk into middle school and high school for the very first time, I felt a sense of sadness and an overwhelming urge to grab them up and tell them that they didn't have to go into the building. The realization was finally hitting me like a ton of bricks. They're not five years old, and this isn't kindergarten. I've had mama meltdown moments all day long. I'm not sure how everyone else feels, but all this growing up is wearing my heartstrings pretty thin.
It's kind of like dark chocolate. It's bittersweet when you first taste it, but as you continue eating it you realize it's not that bad after all.
Watching our children grow up to have all these "first time" moments is always bittersweet, and most of us have a hard time swallowing those moments. We all become basket cases, clinging to the days when they were first born. Trust me, their lives as babies flashed before my eyes this morning. As they grow and accomplish all the milestones, we find ourselves beaming with pride and suddenly, letting them grow up isn't as bad as we thought it would be after all.  Every moment (With God's Mercy and Grace) has helped shape them, prepare them, and bring them to the place they are right now.
In my case, it's 9th Grade and 6th Grade.
As emotional as I've been all day, I know that they'll be just fine. Each year, letting go has become one of the hardest things ever. In my mind, I'd be happy if I could keep them in a protected little bubble for the rest of their lives. Seriously, I would. That, however isn't how life works. They've got to spread their wings and we have to let them. What I've learned, is that fully trusting and relying on God to keep them safe eases my mind and puts my fears to rest. God knows the plans He has for them and the more I trust, the more comfort I feel. So grow on, my babies.
"For I know what I have planned for you, says the Lord. I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NET)
That sounds good to me.
Love in Jesus Christ.