Disenchanted: My Journey to Find Church

online dating

The best place to start is online. Google-ing and researching. Checking backgrounds and bios and music preferences. Before you even plan the date, you can find out with just a few clicks whether or not it’s even worth your time.

Some results prove to be misleading, with fancy words and fantastic photos. But then you show up and it’s a whole different scenario, nothing like you expected. All of those hours online can backfire on you. You build that day up in your head, with great expectations because of all you see on this website or that blog, only to be completely underwhelmed an hour later.

It’s all worth it. If you find “the one”. The one that connects with you and provides a sense of comfort and makes you feel loved. The one that makes you want to be a better person. After years of searching, I’m not sure there is just ONE, like that one soul mate that is meant just for you. Like in anything, don’t we have to sacrifice one for the other? Aren’t there just some non-negotiables and some things that you just let slide? I mean, if the music isn’t your rhythm, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?

Sounds like a finding a boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, wife…

It kinda is.

Afterall, we are Jesus’ bride, aren’t we?

My two year search for a church was painful, and discouraging, and in the end, gave me a new perspective of the church as a whole. I spent many months resenting the Americanized definition of a place of worship. At times I even just refused to go. I have endured criticism and been accused of being “judgmental” (Christians love to use this word). Overall I have been heartbroken at what I have found the church to become.

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My journey, although painful and frustrating, has given me a new perspective of people and brokenness and more than ever our need for a Savior. I am still convinced that the church is the place that has the potential to save the world, I’m just not sure every pastor believes the same. Oh, they may say they believe it, but their churches, with the programs and the glitz and all the other stuff that gets in the way prove to be the absolute opposite of what I believe the church was designed to be.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong…but who knows I might actually be right.

Join me over the next few weeks as I share with you how searching for a church for my family and I has changed me, grown me and given me a new perspective of Jesus.

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God Just Keeps on Saving You…

I love the movie THE GUARDIAN with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. According to reviews it’s “COMPELLING and HEROIC!”  That’s something!  The film is about this young kid, Kutcher, who is an excellent swimmer with a tragic past who is training to be a rescue swimmer under the best rescue swimmer ever in the history of ever, Costner. Under Costner, Kutcher works hard on his physical skills, but more so his emotional problems.  They have a budding father/son thing going on, learning from each other and growing and all that crap.  Which is great and all but what I get hooked on in movies like this is all the physical stuff.

 

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I think I’m always in awe of what Rescue Swimmers, or Army Rangers or Seals or whoever, are willing to endure to train for a moment where they can die. So these Coast Guard rescue swimmers in the movie (and in real life, I’m sure) jump into crazy waters to rescue someone, anyone, from their nearing death. They fly out in helicopters and jump fro the sky in search for the lost….they risk their own lives, because someone else’s life matters.

It’s so Jesus.

He so rescues us.

Now that I have these amazing daughters who are in college, (3 of them) I often think of the times that God quite literally saved my life. I know of times I could have been jailed, or killed in accidents or murdered even because of my stupidity. And then there are the times that I don’t even realize that He rescued me and honestly, that I may never know…how He hovered over me and searched for me, and jumped in the waters for me.

And He continues to do so.

I don’t intentionally put myself in dangerous situations anymore. But even over the last few years I’ve seen how the things I prayed for, almost begged for, didn’t come to pass. And when it seemed He didn’t answer like I wanted Him to, I questioned Him. But He still kept saving.

Like in the movie, to the person being rescued, it may not make sense how the rescuer does his job. But the rescuer is going to save him anyway.

Now I can see how just recently even, He saved me from situations I would have been miserable in, or spiritually unsafe or miserable, did I mention miserable?

We often think of Jesus, the Savior, the Redeemer, who saves us from our sins and eternal hell. Yah I said it—Jesus saves us from hell! (you don’t hear that preached often). But daily, He is saving us. Always rescuing us from our stupid mistakes, our biggest failures, our thoughtless actions. He doesn’t just want  to save us from the eternal or physical, He wants to rescue us from our flesh,  so that He can gives us abundance. God is constantly rescuing us from our misguided desires, so that He ….

So that He can be glorified.

So that He can be known by us.

So that He ______( fill in the blank.)

I’m grateful for those jobs He never gave me, and removing me from that church and keeping unhealthy people out of my inner circle and changing my heart and showing me the issues of my own pride. I’m thankful for discernment and wisdom and the ability to lean on a God who is always in the business of rescuing me from myself. And people…that’s a lot of rescuing to be done.

How about you? What has he rescued you from? Comment, I want to hear your story!

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I Am A Horrible Christian

I am, without a doubt, an absolute horrible Christian.

Often people see my FB posts, or even read a blog or two.  I’ve had woman who have told me how “amazing” I am to follow God the way I do.

I just laugh.

My sister-in-love mentioned to me one day, while in conversation in the car…. One day I’m going to expose you for who you really are.  Everyone out there thinks your so sugar sweet and super Christian, but little do they know.

I just laugh. It’s funny, because it’s true.

Seriously though, I’ve never meant to misrepresent myself.

I truly follow Christ.

I love Him completely with my whole heart.

Daily, I attempt to live for Him and live out my purpose in Him.

But, really, at the end of the day, I’m human…and I pretty much suck.

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So for those of you who don’t know me, or don’t know the sinful side of me….allow me to confess…now keep in mind, I don’t need judgement for my confession or for what I do. Nor do I need you to tell me it’s okay, nor do I need you to be offended because of whatever reason you have.

  1. I LOVE Horrible TV Shows like Sex In The City and Will & Grace.  It’s great writing, with great characters.
  2. I sometimes, occasionally, every now and then Cuss. Almost every single day. Sometimes I even drop the “F” Bomb.  It’s definitely cleaned up in the last 20 years, no more do I hang with the sailors, but I do have a potty mouth.  My kids are constantly correcting me, when it should be the other way around.
  3. I fight with my husband. And sometimes I say mean things I can’t take back.  We are not the perfect couple. Our arguments are meaningless at times with no resolution.
  4. I hide from my kids. In a secret room, because sometimes I just can’t “mom” or meet their needs.
  5. I am HORRIBLE about finishing anything.
  6. just kidding
  7. Sometimes I just don’t understand people, so I judge them. Like seriously judge their shoes, or why they think the way they do.  And I look at them with funny faces…and they think I’m interested, but really I’m confused.
  8. I sometimes think about stealing stuff from stores.  I don’t actually do it, but I wonder if I could get away with it.
  9. I don’t always feel like talking about Jesus or sharing my “story” or witnessing or testifying…i’m okay with getting out of Walmart without even making eye contact.

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We know that the list is longer and the sins deeper, because this list isn’t all that impressive or funny or shameful.  So when you see my posts or blogs or tweets and think how deep and reflective and thoughtful I am, imagine me instead, avoiding all my projects, and ignoring phone calls.  Imagine me just being a human trying to get along, without perfection, hoping for a giggle, working on cleaning my mouth out with soap.  I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all?!

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I Don’t Think You REALLY Want to Change

I hate the process of change…all of it. Even when I try to stay motivated and positive I often just have my panic attacks, just somewhat more quietly. I’m reading this book..well more, reading a paragraph and then when I feel convicted, I throw it across the room.  It’s about change…and accepting it, and even more so, embracing it, or even more more so, capitalizing on it.

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macro closeup of a thesaurus entry on the word "change"

But really, it’s an everyone problem. We don’t really want to change. We want the perks, the benefits, the effects of change, but we don’t ACTUALLY WANT to change. Change is painful, change is uncomfortable. We like our traditions and our habits. We are content with our ways.

The moment someone challenges us, our ideas or the way we’ve always done things, we go on attack. We must protect ourselves from the uncomfortable, the painful. We tear others down, we attack their character and their credentials. We stand solid on our very old ground, not only embracing our traditions, but defending them.

As we face changes and new ideas, and even new possibilities, we marinate in the ideas of how it was, or how it should be– if only.

The Pharisees.  They argued with Jesus, and questioned his authority. They trashed his character, and twisted truth and refused to listen because they were …

Afraid.

Comfortable.

Traditional. 

Jesus. He brought a new message of freedom. He brought people out of the trash and gave them, not character, but righteousness. He revealed truth and listened to the hurting.  He brought the authority of heaven to earth. He challenged the ways, the culture, the theology of the time. He made people

God-Fearing.

Uncomfortable.

Transformed. 

Where are you? Are you in a place where you like comfortable and traditional? Is it too hard to exercise? Too difficult to have that needed disagreement with your spouse? Afraid of how your kids will respond when you set those boundaries?  So it’s just easier.  It works, somehow. But not everything that works is right… and even if it’s not “wrong” …. it’s not always God’s best.

Our goal in life should be God’s best…and God’s best for us in the transformed life. A life that is daily being renewed. He wants to renew our thoughts, and even our desires. Did you know that God can transform your desires? Your desires for smoking, or alcohol, or pornography? Did you know God can renew your marriage, and your relationship with your kids? God is waiting to transform every area of your life…but He won’t do it unless you accept the risk The risk of being uncomfortable. The risk of living in respect for God and not people. Do you really want that change?

I hope so. I hope you are willing to listen to the truth found in Scripture. I pray that you see that the results of the change, having confidence that the end result of the transformation will bring freedom and life…

and peace…

and joy…not just happiness, but joy–real joy…

and safety…..

and assurance…

and love…oh! the love!

Jesus is in the business of change…If you want Him, want the change He can bring to your life.

Do you fight against change like I do??  What’s the hardest change you’ve ever been through? Comment and share!

LG|LP

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PLEASE STOP Paying Your Kids to Know Jesus

Over the last few months I’ve seen too many parents and children’s ministry leaders and directors who are skewing the Gospel of Jesus with well-intentions. For some reason in our we are compelled to feed the cultural idea that the end justifies the means.

I read (and often fight against) ministry program after program having kids earn Bible Bucks or Jesus Money at church. Play money is awarded when a child successfully memorizes a Bible verse, or the Books of the Bible, or completes their “homework.”  Stores are set up where kids can purchase meaningless prizes in exchange for knowing John 3:16. I even know of a KIDMIN teacher who paid her kids an actual ONE DOLLAR BILL for stopping for a few moments in class to listen to God.

Even parents have jumped on this bandwagon.  They are having their kids earn X-Boxes and extra dessert for reading their two chapters a day, and are doing so unashamed.

I can go on and on about how this is so unhealthy for your environment and community. I can explain how it sets certain children up to fail, because they can’t physically follow through with what you are asking of them. I could give you insight on how this is completely unfair to the child of divorce, or who have experienced trauma.  Instead I will slap you with this:

WHEN YOU PAY KIDS IN ANY WAY TO LEARN ABOUT JESUS YOU ARE PREACHING A PROSPERITY GOSPEL. 

A prosperity gospel preaches and teaches that in return for your faith, or works, or tithes God will return the favor and bless you with wealth and/or health. This is the dangerous ministry that is often taught by most televangelists and some majorly known pastors in the Christian community…and it just might be taught by you.

When I tell a child that knowing Jesus and learning to know the Bible is worthy of a paycheck we are completely tainting the truth that His grace is a free gift. We set our kids up to think that there is always instant gratification in our relationship with God. We teach them to focus on the prize of the world instead the prize of Christ.

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By paying kids to know Jesus, we are training them to think of Jesus as some sort of slot machine, who if you pull the right lever, read the chapters, memorize the verse, Jesus will spit out some sort of blessing in return.

Out of all the bribes we make our kids day in and day out…Knowing Jesus should NOT be one of those. How disappointed will they be when their faith doesn’t pay dividends in a way they expect? What’s going to happen when they do all the right things in life, and they don’t get that job they want?

Will this type of faith, that is dependent upon earning something, be foundational enough, or more importantly, relational enough?

Jesus is about relationship–and relationship is built on love, and trust and time and effort, not “what can you do for me?”

When we pay our kids to learn about Jesus as a “harmless incentive” we are missing out on the opportunity to share the real gospel –it’s about what Jesus did for us at the cross that matters, nothing else.  He doesn’t owe us, we owe Him.

Paying kids to know Jesus:

Cheapens the Gospel

Devalues the Bible

Stifles the Holy Spirit

And Sets Kids Up on a faith that is not rooted in authentic relationship but rather superficial temporal motivations.

I know we want our kids to read their Bible. I know it’s important for them to form habits.  I know that we want our kids to know the books and commandments. But is it worth teaching the absolute adulterated perspective of Christ and His sacrifice in order to get there?

We don’t need incentive programs, we need Holy Spirit revival.  We need to spend as much time on our knees praying for movement in their hearts instead of developing stores and money and payment programs.  As parents and ministry leaders, we first must believe that Jesus in and of himself is absolutely enough. We must have the faith that when a child tastes and sees how good the LORD is, he will be hooked. We must trust that God can come in and give that conviction to a child to know and be known by Jesus.

So, I beg you, please, in your ministries, in your homes, please, please, please, stop paying your kids to know Jesus. It’s just not helpful.

Comment and share!

LG|LP

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