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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Woah, hiya God...

When was the last time that God was standing right in front of you telling you something and reassuring you. How did you react? Did you even notice?

In high school, I went to a different church from the one that I grew up in and just loved it. I was close to many different friends; including peers, leaders, and the pastors. I was a teenager and made my fair amount of mistakes, and one day after a truly troubling time I went to my preacher, the youth minister to talk to him about it. He was my good friend, and he was friends with other people that were involved in my life. I went to him in tears and barely able to speak, it was a tough decision for me to admit I was wrong in some things and to go talk to him about it all. Before I even said a word, he told me that I was a "bad influence to the younger youth," and he said that "should leave the church because I was doing no good for anybody."

Needless to say, that was not helpful at all during my time of trial. Stupid man. Since that day I have seen him once, about five or six years later and he had the nerve to hug me. *shivers*

After leaving that church, I bounced from place to place and then in college continued to bounce with not much of a church home. Much of my high school experience after that is a blur, I was just too depressed to really care or put much into my memory bank.

What I'm getting at, is to tell you that after eight years of really just bouncing around with no church home, DH and I have finally found a place that fits. We have been attending for about two months straight and really like the people. We haven't made close friends yet, but we have made many great acquaintances that I could definitely see becoming really good friends. With all of this bouncing around, I have gotten pretty far out of the habit of talking to any preacher, outside of my professors. And now the feeling to talk to Pastor is a hesitant one. I know who he is, I know he is a representative of Christ, but I just am not comfortable with that yet.

Most conversations that I've witnessed and had in a group setting with him, it is shocking that he has all of the answers. Well, it seems that way, and when he does not have an answer, his reply could not be more appropriate. He always says, "Well what does Scripture tell us?" He is obviously a very wise man, and individually I have no reason not to trust him. So why do I hesitate?

A couple weeks ago, we had a study and one of the things that we talked about was other denominations. Long story short, I was raised in one, attended a different one in college, and now this church is a different one all together (FYI I have a BA in Religious Studies). One of the things that we were talking about was worshiping with Christians of other denominations... meaning having a joint service with three or more denominations present. He said this was wrong. (My brain goes *huh?*) In more detail, his point did make sense, I guess. In talking about how sharing a worship service with the others condoned and endorsed their beliefs and how as a Bible believing Christian you should be careful of that because you do not want to enable someone to teach things that are not based in Scripture. Okay, I can see that...

But, I'm not comfortable with it.

Jesus talks to us about wanting all souls to love and follow him. How one day all voices will rejoice in his name. I understand that there are variances in doctrine, but I do not see how just when someone disagrees with slight things that can put them off limits? I know you're suppose to be cautious and keep a sharp eye to things that are not of the Lord. But I cannot see two hundred people singing praise songs in the name of Jesus Christ as being wrong. I just cannot comprehend that.

Now, back to God standing in front of me...

Today, I was thinking about this "discomfort" about mass worship (mass as in massive, not as in Mass service). I was thinking I really should talk to the Pastor more about this, to see if I can understand and find a comfort level. The thought had barely left it's neuron transmitters before the phone rang... It was Pastor... Pastor has my number???? "Uh, hello?"

He was checking on the house, he knew we were suppose to close on Friday and wanted to see if it went through. Now that is cool. We are not even members yet. We're "return visitors". We want to become members, it just has not happened yet. Well, we talked for a bit. My heart rate was racing, because I was just thinking of speaking to him and then he called. Too bad I completely dropped the ball and did not mention my issue...

I'm just not comfortable. I just could not do it. I felt my heart rate go up, and started sweating, and pacing. It was really kinda pathetic.

God was standing right in front of me, saying here, ask your questions, attempt to get some answers. He got the Pastor to call me, instead of my having to dial him. But still, I screwed it up. Sure, I could pick up the phone and call him, but will I? Probably not. Why? Because I'm a scared little chicken.

So God was standing in front of me. Then I start beating myself up about it. Thinking, "Great! God, I'm sorry. I'm messed up." Then what does he do? HE DOES IT AGAIN! No, the Pastor did not call back, but I went to relax and read some of my Bible and there it is right in front of me!

January 27, 1997 in Covington, GA at the FFA/FHA camp while on a retreat called In the Vine '97, I acknowledged Christ, and I would say that was when I truly devoted my life to become a Christian. Over the years, when I've switched churches and places, that verse is always the one that tells me, "it's okay, I still love you". Example: I'd attend a church, thinking there was nowhere else for me to go. The preacher stands up to give the sermon and says, "I had something prepared today, but it's going to wait until next week. For today, the Lord has really put it on my heart to talk about..." AND ITS THAT VERSE! It never falls.

DH suggested we try this church (the one we're attending now), it's in the denomination of his youth, and every time we've attended other ones of this denomination they ended up being out right scary. IE: The preacher introduces their "partner". Or number two, the preacher preaches about how God gave us abortion and stem cell research and we are suppose to use them. Or other crazy examples. One of my least favorite, is the ones where the congregation does not know anything about the "founder" of the church and thinks it is someone else. (sorry ranting here). The point being, I was so-not excited about going. We went and low and beyond, what was the sermon. IT WAS THAT VERSE AGAIN!! Then the next week, great sermon, and again and again. Everything fits about this church. I love the people. The messages are good. Everything I'm finding is scriptural and not bizarre. So, why am I so frightened? What's the worst that can happen? I just do not know what's wrong with me.

So, anyway... I open my Bible to read my section for September 17th. And it reads:

John 15-16:4 (New Living Translation)

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.


John 15

Jesus, the True Vine
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

The World’s Hatred
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures[a]: ‘They hated me without cause.’

26 “But I will send you the Advocate[b]—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. 27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.

John 16

“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. 2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. 3 This is because they have never known the Father or me. 4 Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.


This is my verse. This is the one where he speaks to me and assures me, all is okay. Wow, two God moments in less than 20 minutes. Imagine if I paid even more attention to him...

Enough of my rambles... Just a little bit of testimony, but tell me, when has God stood right in front of you with something? Did you listen? Did you just walk away and miss the chance? Will you go back? Tell me just anything.

-MJ

4 comments and creative thoughts:

windycindy said...

I am going through a non-church attending period in my life. There are several reasons, but not one I can pin point. The real difference I notice when not sitting under the roof of an actual church, is that I may not be doing as many Christian activities as I do in my life. Still searching. Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Amy said...

when we moved up here we tried a couple WELS churches (what is was raised in) and i am not satisfied. I feel I am not getting anything out of the sermon or fellowship. not even the pastors followed up with us! I can sit a home and read my christian fiction and get more outta that. I need to find a passionate pastor, well, I know of one, my step-uncle, but his church is >1 hr away.
as for the denominational thing... chad and I were raised in different denominations and both of us were led (note: never ACTUALLY told) to believe that our religion was the correct one.. all others went to hell. and we should not pray with others, even. so I would not pray with my family when we said table grace, and we are all protestants.
it took me till late teens to realize how wrong i was led to believe. yes denominations have their differences, and some of them are not even Biblically based (for example adult baptism VS infant baptism) but people argue about it. let's just get together and celebrate God's Love for us. what he did 2000 years ago. not what every little word says and means. john 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." I don't need anything else but that. thank you, God.

CherryBlossomMJ said...

Cindi - I can relate to that from times in the past that I know. One of the things that I have come to think is that (for me anyway) when I have the desire to avoid church is usually when I'm in a good place and it's an evil thought that is trying to keep me from the possible good that I might encounter.

CherryBlossomMJ said...

Amy - I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks certain thoughts are crazy. I got the degree that I did so that I could understand all the differences between the varied religious. For the most part I do. It's the radicals that I just do not get. Why can't people open their arms and love? It's that what we are suppose to do? Just love?

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