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I am a Twitter follower or more like a Twitter watcher. I follow some prominent people of faith, and one of those people is Beth Moore. She recently tweeted out a photo of this t-shirt her husband bought for her, and the message caught my attention.

MASON-JAR-LABEL-HOUSE-THAT

“The House (the church) That Built Me.”

Such a simple sentence but can be interpreted differently. She responded to the photo, “And it’s the dang truth. While all hell was breaking loose at home, there was the church. I took out a lot of my aggression on handbells.”

If you don’t know Beth Moore’s story, I recommend you read, Get out of That Pit: Straight Talk about God’s Deliverance. In the book, she touches upon her past sexual abuse as a young girl and her healing journey. She found refuge in the church during the tragic events of her upbringing. Praise God for her healing journey, the church, and how God has used her to speak healing into the lives of other women.

But I read that phrase with a different perspective.

I recently had lunch with a friend, and I had to apologize to her. Several years ago she reached out to me during a very dark point in her life. I directed her situation to the leaders of a church. It was messy, and she needed more than I could offer for help. The summary of her story is that the church did not help her and I wasn’t there for her either. She is now on the road to healing, but the church deeply wounded her. I am sorry to say, that I include myself in being a contributor to her pain and resentment.

Growing up in the church, I know this type of pain all too well. My friend is a part of a group of people who read the message on that t-shirt and interpret it very differently than Beth Moore. For some of us, the church has been a source of pain, and it hasn’t been pretty. Scratch that! For some of us, it’s been downright ugly.

If I could take you down the history of the church in my own life, it would contain sordid details of hurt, abuse, adultery, hypocrisy, pride, legalism, false teaching… And that’s just me as a bystander, not the pain and stings I have felt personally from the church. And by the church, I mean the community of Christ-followers I or others were among; be it an individual church, ministry, or community.

I have seen family members and friends deeply wounded by fellow Christians. I have witnessed blatant sin not addressed in the church. I have felt let down over and over again by the church. Yet, here I am laying that all down to say I am beyond grateful for that “house” that built me.

Every sting, every wound, every misstep by leadership, each painful experience among the community of Christ-followers has brought me closer to Christ. I could have chosen to get bitter and let my heart find those dark places of resentment that Satan uses to pull people away from Christ and His followers. But somewhere along the way, I realized what God was teaching me. I let Him use every painful church experience I felt or witnessed to draw me closer to His Word, His will for my life, and (yes!) to His imperfect, sinful, mess of people He calls His church.

I found freedom in the knowledge of “The House That Built Me.” I found it by embracing my growing up in “the church” and how God has used every experience (good and bad) to continuously shape my faith, my character, my interactions with people, my view of Christ-followers, and my spiritual journey. And let me tell you there is freedom in letting go of the pain and loving God’s people despite the hurt.

Now I am not excusing bad church behavior. God hates sin, and he wants the church to rescue people out of sin. Loving people is loving them out of their sin. I am merely pointing to the fact that eventually, we have to come to terms with our personal relationship with Christ within or outside the walls of the church. That means dealing with our bitterness and forgiving.

I know that not everyone is ready to find that place of letting go of the hurt and pain that the church may have caused you. But I recommend you take the journey to get there- in your own time. God is patient! I guarantee you there’s freedom on this path.

My faith journey will continue with old and new friends, churches, and faith communities along the way. I can also list all the wonderful blessings, experiences, teachings, and people that God has brought into my life through the church community. I am still learning, still growing, and still asking forgiveness when I fail to be “the church” to others God has put in my life. I pray I will continue to grow more in the knowledge of God, follow His Word and the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life, and let the house of God (the church) continue to shape who I am in Christ through the good, the bad, and the ugly. He’s building me day by day, and I am forever grateful.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10: 23-25)

 

A God Expert!

February 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

thCAVJ75C1I am an expert on all things faith, ministry and church related. How is that you may ask? Well, I am a preachers kid so of course I know all there is to know about growing up with God. I guess you can call it spiritual nobility. I am an official member via some sort of occupational birth right. Okay, of course I am being facetious here but this post is based on my experience of growing up in church life. So I had to point out the obvious that I know all there is to know about growing up with God and His people. (I am sorry but my sarcasm sometimes over takes my writing.)

So what profound knowledge can I pass on to all of you about the Christian life? Here it is in a nutshell. My whole life I have grappled with what it means to be a follower of Christ. I have tried to figure out what indeed is the perfect church to attend. I have even tried to find that “calling” on my life that preachers have spoken of, feeling like I might have missed it at every turn. You would think that with my spiritual nobility I would have found it by now but I still question that calling of God on my life.

My upbringing has made it is quite easy to get jaded about Christianity. I have had my fair share of ugliness in the church. I have questioned God and His people and how many of them are no different than the secular world. My opinion about the Church has brought lows and highs and at times made me question the purpose of attending all together. I have even looked back at my own conversations and relationships and felt like I have failed God with my personal testimony. It is depressing to know that almost 40 years of being a Christian can bring such doubts and insecurities in my walk with Christ. Then it hit me the other day. I am exactly where God wants me to be.

I realized that my life long questions, insecurities and doubts are the basis of my walk with Christ. God does not want me to be settled and comfortable in my Christian walk. He wants me to keep searching and reaching for more of Him. He challenges me to constantly trust Him for all my many questions on this faith walk that I decided to take long ago. So I guess I am no expert on Christianity, God and His believers. In fact, I have learned that there are no faith experts in the Christian world. Anyone who sells you a brand of neat and polished Christianity, with all the answers, is way too comfortable in their religious state. If we truly have chosen to follow Christ then we will be constantly growing and searching for answers to those many God questions. The only security we have is our salvation. God doesn’t want me to be simply a member of His club but a follower willing to work on this relationship and grow more and more in love with Him.