The Journey----back

 Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm a rebel at heart. I've always been that way. Don't believe me? Well my family could tell you some stories. And admittedly, more often than not, my way was far from the best way to accomplish anything. Being somewhat hard headed about many things, I had to learn the hard way. And guess what, I’m still a little hard headed, but learning that in all things----there is a lesson to be learned.

These days I feel the rebel rising up in my chest, burning and inching its way forward again after all these years. It dances inside my head, humming a tune and giving the world the well known finger. However, this time I’m not alone. My husband and I are now the rebel rousers, bucking the authority so to speak. As a family we’ve decided that we will no longer attend Church. It’s not a decision that we came to quickly or lightly. Truth is we got hurt, again. Imagine that, getting hurt by godly people. Reminds me of Beth Moore’s book, When godly people do ungodly things. But like I said before there’s always lessons to be learned.

Memories of my life in church came to me like shadows casting themselves on walls. Clips from a movie, if you will, staring me. Like most people in the South, I grew up in the church. It is a small church in a small community that my mother and her siblings grew up in. I sang in the choir, taught children’s Sunday school and was the Sunday school recorder. You know, giving the report of how many attended, how much was collected. I was quickly immersing myself in church duties. I remember Homecoming celebrations, which brought people out in droves who normally didn't attend church. Shopping for that perfect Easter outfit, Sunday School conventions where we attended other churches such as this one. Our church congregation was small, filled with mostly family, and if we had a piano player on a particular Sunday it was considered a blessing. Otherwise we just used our hands and feet as instruments. Our church choir was small but our voices rang through the church as if we were the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. My grandfather was the head Deacon and worked tirelessly to make sure that the church served the community. There were times when we'd only have 5-10 people in the congregation, but that never deterred anyone from praising God, it never mattered to the "old saints" how many people were there.

Yet, even then I was different.......I was the rebel. It was me who asked questions like, “why do we have to wear dresses and pantyhose to church, Jesus doesn’t care how we come.” Dare I buck the authority and put on a pair of jeans. We’ll not in my mama’s house, and I tried. I'd watch the pastors as they sweated, hollered, about the goodness of God, about the dangers of hell, and how Jesus was the way. People would stand up and shout out of excitement, they'd wave white handkerchiefs, and nod their heads while saying amen amen, preach preacher. It was all alien to me. I'd just let my mind wonder....wonder why when someone sung a song it was more of a was their platform and they were Whitney Houston. I wondered why everyone "acted" up in church like they were holy, and had no compassion, empathy, or love for anyone else. For all the latest gossip all you had to do was go to church. But it wasn’t gossip as long as they put, “Bless her heart, she needs Jesus” at the end of everything. I wondered why some of the churches I went too were like walking down the runway and I was the model on display so they could converse back and forth about what I was wearing. I've seen those who came to church dressed in their best taken in back rooms and given "more appropriate" clothing to wear. And they never returned.

Once I was 18, I left the church. I had grown tiered, weary of it all. If I could have, or rather had enough nerve I would have risen up out of that pew and shouted screamed to the tops of my lung. “You have created traditions of men that are killing us, and driving us away from the very arms that you want us to run to.”

If you read my last post, you understand my view. I’m tiered of the clicks, the complacency, the worship wars, the lies, and people’s need to keep the traditions of man. When I read Acts there are no similarities to what the church has become now. And no, we are not forsaking the assembling of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will gather in worship, we will pray and we will continue to pursue Christ with a passion. We just refuse to do it man’s way. We’ll go and visit at times with others also, but don’t look for us in the pews doing the “church” thing. Were gonna do it God’s way.


What's happening with our Churches?

 Friday, August 13, 2010

"The first lesson we learned was how to count the cost. In Egypt, our theology is the theology of pain. It is not a theology of prosperity. We don't know the theology of prosperity, but we know Jesus."

I took this quote from a magazine that I subscribe to. The Voice of Martyrs Serving the Persecuted Church. When I read this magazine I find myself envious. Many may find this strange, or even down right crazy. By comparison, we Christians in America are spoiled, and ungrateful. We measure God's love in what he gives, what he takes away, and what he allows to happen (good or bad). Dare I say that we've become lazy, worldly, and selfish. Church for us is about building great "churches" having great youth programs, great worship music, and numbers. Church has become religion, with no relationship with Jesus. It's become something that we do every Sunday and Wednesday night. Do we really know what sacrifice is, to die for the cause of the kingdom, to not know if we'll ever see our family again? Do we know what it truly is to forsake all for Jesus---to leave it all behind? Do we know what it is to not have the freedom to read our bibles, meet with others ? Sadly, most of us don't know and really don't want to know.

Each Sunday morning we gather in buildings critiquing the music, gossiping about brother and sister so and so. All while our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering for the cause. We gripe about the pastor's message, how long it was. We complain about how long praise and worship was or how bad it was. When we get mad or get our feelings hurt we just leave and join another "church"---or we just start a new church. Not to say that there are not instances when leaving a church is warranted, because it is. But for so many there's nothing warranted, its because our toes have gotten stepped on.

When I look at those who have been killed, tortured, and imprisoned never once have they wavered on their love for Christ. They are steadfast, faithful to the very end. Ministry doesn't equal money, worldly possessions, silver and gold, but rather knowing that they are reaching others for Christ and adding to the kingdom. They do not take their tribulations as punishment or a curse but welcome it, because they truly know where their inheritance lies.

As I write this post thousands are rounded up like cattle, beat within inches of their life, accused of blasphemy- all for Christ. The above quote says it all, doesn't it? I'm sure that there are those who will read this and critique it with great words of condemnation, challenge my thoughts, and tell me I'm wrong. But ask yourself this question----how far would you really go for the King?

I'm not sure about you, but personally I've wasted enough of my life over mundane things. Are we ready to really do the will of the Father? Are we ready to step out of our comfort zones and walk out on faith. Are we really ready to trust him? I am!

Reading Acts has really placed things in perspective for me! We do "church" instead of being the church of Christ. I'll leave you with a quote from another brother in Christ who faces death daily for the cause of Christ. When asked his thoughts on what the Apostle Paul calls tribulations He responded with the following:

"I think that suffering is a most beautiful part of the Christian faith because Christianity without pain, without suffering, without hard times is like the ready-made food. There's nothing true in it. It's very superficial, very shallow." And may I add--he did not say suffering is the only part of the Christian faith, but "a most beautiful part."

Father forgive me for treating you like a genie in a bottle. I thank you for the wake up call, the probing of my heart and showing me the order of things. It's so much clearer now. The kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.


Silly Bandz

 Monday, August 2, 2010

For those of you who don’t have children, you may not be aware of the current epidemic that is currently sweeping our country, much like the Beanie Baby pandemic (which I confess to totally being right in the middle of the craziness myself) . This new epidemic has caused much civil unrest in our home at times. We’ve broken up more fights & threatened a ban on this product that’s suddenly brought every child under its evil spell. Some of you may already know what evil I’m speaking of, if not I’ll give you a hint. They're bracelets made out of thin rubber in different shapes and objects------SILLY BANDZ, is their proper given name.

Somewhere the creator of this new craze is sitting basking in the delight of knowing that something so simple ( which most of us wish we would’ve thought of the idea) could become so popular with children all while raking in the big bucks. There is nothing special about Silly Bandz. They can’t do tricks, fly or anything spectacular. Silly Bandz are nothing more than colorful accessories on the arms of children everywhere, sometimes clear up to the elbow. I’ve seen my children beg, borrow, trade, & deal just to own a pack of bands. Now seeing how my children love these slivers of rubber, and how they react to just the prospect of owning more, Mama is now using their love for Silly Bands to her advantage.

Suddenly chores get done, behavior improves, and payment is fairly cheap. I'm seriously hoping that the power that these things hold will continue through out this new school year.