Welcome to this MY CHURCH JOURNEY - THE "GOING TO CHURCH" TIME page
On this page you will find clips from my blog posts, of the lessons Father has been teaching me, and the journey He has been taking me on, as I've gradually been learning more and more about what it really means to be His church
GOING TO CHURCH - LITURGY, SERMONS, YOUTH GROUPS, MUSIC
I went to church at the Anglican Church on Sunday. I think I’d make a good Anglican. I love the quietness; it seems such a peaceful and reverent atmosphere. I love the liturgy (especially the older versions) I love the beautiful old written prayers that you can read over and over and really meditate on. I love the many scripture readings, and the group reading of the Psalms. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked it when I was younger because it’s so quiet… but my kids generally seem to prefer it to the Pentecostal church services. And I like the 20 minute sermons, which get right to the point. Why do so many preachers think it is necessary to drone on till you fall asleep or get pew sores from sitting so long? Brevity and conciseness are next to godliness, when you have a captive audience, I think! I also like the frequent communion services, although I have a bit of a theological dispute about serving only baptized persons (and all baptized persons, no matter their lifestyle, as some do).
I guess I just have to trust the Lord… I try to make sure the kids go to church at least once a week (they have a choice now of morning Anglican or Pentecostal evening service), the kids and I have family worship most school mornings, the kids all read their Bibles from time to time, I often just talk to them about spiritual things as we go along… I’ve bought Christian CDs of contemporary teen music, but they haven’t seemed very interested… No youth groups here, no special youth events, basically almost no youth [who attend church or show any interest in Christianity at all]…
MY DREAMS RELATED TO CHURCH - LONGING FOR FAMILY
What are my motives for moving? To get the kids (and us/ me) to a place where there is a church and Christian people, teens for the kids, men for hubby, women for me – where we can have fellowship, be part of a “family,” where the kids can see that Christians are joyful, fulfilled people who love each other in Christ; where they can see that it is not totally weird and lonely to be a Christian; where they can have opportunity to learn and grow in the Lord; where they can experience worship, song, preaching and teaching; where they know they are not alone and totally rejected if they choose to follow Christ. To go where there are enough people that each of the children – and us grown-ups too! – can find “soul-mates,” real friends who share our beliefs and dreams, who can keep us accountable in Christ. To go where there are mature Christians who can serve as active role models and mentors.
SO WE MOVED - HOW THOSE DREAMS WORKED OUT - AND NEW DREAM IDEAS
So we came here in July 1999. Since I have come here, I have had opportunities to help lead worship at church, by playing my guitar and singing, and sometimes playing piano. I have attended a Moms in Touch group and a ladies Bible Study and prayer group. I have attended two family camps and a family retreat with my kids (my husband was also able to join us for one family camp). The kids have been able to attend many wonderful youth retreats, Christian Concerts, Potters House inter-church gatherings, Sunday School, and a bit of youth group.
I have shared short talks at the Christian Fellowship church each of the past two Christmas seasons for the 5 Sundays of Advent. I have been involved in an Alpha group at the Anglican church which has been a real blessing. One time I was asked to be the speaker at the local monthly Christian Womens Luncheon. As on other times I have spoken in the past, God did move, and there were tears and response by the listeners to God’s Spirit.
I have continued my interest in education by tutoring some home school kids, and tutoring a special needs boy, which has taught me many new things and softened my heart to needs in peoples’ live which I never knew existed.
My parents moved to a Senior’s Complex in a nearby community, and suddenly we found ourselves taking over the responsibility of a large yard and orchard of about 100 apple trees. I have joyfully, after some spiritually dry years in our former community, frequently attended 3 services on Sundays, going to the Anglican Church with one daughter and my husband, to the Christian Fellowship Church with two other daughters and my son, and to the Pentecostal, where yet another daughter attends. There have been good times, and I have rejoiced that my children, for the most part, have found places where they are happy to worship.
There have also been hard times, and I have lived through sorrows (but even in them God has brought joy!) like addictive behaviors, suicide attempts, teen pregnancy. Learning, learning, learning. Learning to lean on God, and accept following Him step by step, moment by moment, instead of making big plans for some exciting, “big, important ministry.”
My dream of Community has continued. But as time has gone by, it has developed especially into a kind of retreat center for women. A place where women could come (sometimes with their children… maybe even with their husbands sometimes) and grow and share together and support each other. Learn together the old skills… quilting and planting and knitting and sewing and healing with herbs and things like that. Singing together, praying together, studying the Word together, worshiping together. Sharing each others burdens… and each others joys. Becoming holistically healthy and fit together… exercise, healthy home-grown and cooked foods, emotionally supporting each other, exploring our creativity and art and writing together, growing together spiritually, learning from each other whatever skills and interests each of us has.
A place where teenage single moms could come for support and encouragement and healing. A place where moms with little kids or bigger kids or teen kids could come for support and encouragement and healing. A place where women without children could come and share in the mothering experience and experience support and encouragement and healing. A place where women can share the love of God, and love each other as mothers and sisters and daughters.WISHING FOR MORE PASSION, MORE CHASING GOD, IN CHURCHES
I have also dreamed of being able to more often share with women in the arena of womens meetings, and weekend retreats… not just as a speaker but in a holistic way, sharing a vision of wholeness in a life permeated by faith in God.
I keep thinking of a sermon I heard about people who go from church to church and complain about all the churches. I don’t know – compared to “dry times” in the past (could I have changed that if I had “chased” God harder? Been more passionate? I wonder?) the churches here are pretty good – but, oh how I’d like to see more enthusiasm, passion, chasing God, taking hold of His power and love, and reaching out to the lost in the community…LEARNING TO "PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD"- AND LONGING FOR DEEPER COMMUNITY IN THE CHURCH
Last night I dreamed and dreamed and dreamed. And I know that a great deal of my dreaming was actually praying. I am finding more and more that I am truly learning to pray – and praise – without ceasing! It is so amazing! I am beginning to see God in almost everything! His Presence is always, everywhere, all around me and in me.
The only thing that really gives me sorrow is that I know so few others who feel this way. God has truly blessed me in such a special ways, by allowing:
- time to pray and spend in His Word, since I don’t have full-time work like so many women, and my kids are now older and more independent! PTL!
- time, on my own, when my husband is away, that I don’t have when he is here, to search out God – thank You, Jesus, for his job!
- the troubles I’ve had with my kids, and my loneliness when my husband is away, etc. – because all these “negative” circumstances have finally forced me to see how totally helpless I am in my own strength, and forced me to give it all to Jesus and learn to trust in Him!A PRAYER I PRAYED OVER AND OVER AND OVER FOR THE CHURCH
- opportunities to worship with Christians from all kinds of denominational backgrounds, and thereby learn to see and worship Jesus in far broader and deeper ways
- providing wonderful experiences like the birth of our grand-baby – and making email friendships with Christian friends – and wonderful camps and church services and seminars – and living in such a beautiful place – and working with special needs kids – and so on and on… to enable me to see so much more clearly exactly what an awesome Creator God I serve!!! Hallelujah!
- filling me with the Holy Spirit, and enabling me to pray in tongues, so I can pray so much more effectively and draw so much closer to Jesus and worship Him and obey and trust Him so much more effectively
- granting my desire/ request for a better singing voice and the ability to play guitar, in order to worship Him more effectively, and share more effectively and joyfully with others as we worship together
- bringing lots and lots of non-Christian people into my life and giving me such a love for them and such a desire for their salvation and walk with Jesus!
- day by day, moment by moment, leading me, guiding me, holding me, loving me – and providing for all my needs in all areas of my life in such totally amazing, wonderful, miraculous, right-in-time ways! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!!!
Lord, I do wish I could share my prayer and praise more with my husband – but he doesn’t seem ready yet. Help me to always stand back and keep myself out of the way and let You deal with him in Your way and Your time and Your will! Help me just to love him and submit to him. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Lord, here are bulletins from the churches I have attended lately. Lord, please plant me/ us (or move us around, even use us as a bridge or whatever)wherever You want us to be….
Lord, I fast and pray for transformation of my community, starting with myself. I pray for a changed mind and heart, a changed life. Help me to see in a radically new way, believe in a radically new way – Your way! Convert me, turn me around, help me to discover a whole new world out there… the world the way You see it and know it and love it. Transform my mind according to the mind of God. Fill me with Your Spirit moment by moment. Teach me a new way – Your way – of relating to God, the world, and others. Thank You, Lord, for this gift of Transformation, which is available only from You: make me open to it, help me repent, help me accept Your forgiveness, change my mind, my perspectives, my vision of myself, my world, my God! Fulfill Your will for my life, dear God: make me like Jesus!EXCITING MINISTRY VS WHERE GOD HAS ME RIGHT NOW
Lord, I fast and pray also for transformation of all Christian people in our community, our nation, our world. Help us all to see and believe in a radically new way – Your way! Convert us, turn us around, let us see and love and know the world the way You see and love and know it. Transform and unite us according to Your mind, and in the power of the Spirit of God, moment by moment, as we walk together with You, Lord. Teach us a new way – Your way – of relating to You, Lord, to the world, to others. Open us, Lord, to this wonderful gift of transformation You have for us, help us repent; change our minds, our perspectives, our vision of ourselves, our world, our God! Fulfill Your will for our lives, dear God; make us like Jesus, and through us, transform our communities and our world!
I pray for the ministers and Christian leaders in our community, that they may each come to a sure knowing of Jesus, a true personal relationship with Him, and be truly filled with Your Holy Spirit, and that they might be truly united in Your Spirit and fast and pray and intercede together for their parishes and communities, in the name of Jesus! Transform them, dear Jesus! Unite them by the power of Your Holy Spirit!
I pray, dear Lord God, that the churches in our communities will be a light on a hill that cannot be hid; that they will become salt of the earth as they reach out to the lost, and that many will be drawn to You and be discipled, and that there will be a great move of Your Spirit, and a great transformation of our communities and country and world. Lord, please help me to always pray for all our churches, and never criticize them! Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on all the churches and on all Christians here in our community and the surrounding area. Fill us all, Lord, with Your Holy Spirit, that we may all be totally united in You; help us to set aside our prideful distinctives and petty differences, and keep our eyes totally on Jesus, so that we may, in the love and total unity of Your Spirit, intercede and pray together for our communities and world.
Lord Jesus, please pour out, through Your Spirit, Your love, power, and unity on the Christian youth groups of our communities. Help them to reach out with the friendship of Jesus to lost youth. Give both leaders and kids a vision of transformed youth in our communities. Help them to truly love You and love other youth! And Lord, please give them the strength and protection of Your Spirit so they may stand strong for You!
Lord, please give all Your people a deep longing to delve and dig into Your Word, and so to seek and find You. And give us a burning desire to seek Your face and Your power in continued powerful vigils of prayer and fasting.
Lord, we/I confess that You have found us/me to be dead. Waken us up, Lord; help us to obey, to repent, to strengthen what remains through the blood of Jesus and the power of Your Holy Spirit and the love of God. We have been neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. We have said, “We are rich,” but when we truly search ourselves in the light of Your Word, we find that we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. O God, please do not spit us out, but instead help us to be earnest and repent. Lord, help us to receive and learn from Your loving discipline You place upon us. For we have indeed forsaken our first love; help us to repent and love You in thought, action, and word as we did when we first tasted of the glory of Your love and forgiveness and salvation! Search our minds and hearts, shake us up, show us clearly our evil deeds and what we lack, that we may repent and turn totally to You.
Lord I pray for those who are fasting and praying for revival in our area. I join them in their prayer that You will cleanse us in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we may be acceptable in the presence of God the Father. I pray for a wall of protection around the church leaders, their families, and for all those who are joining in this ongoing prayer vigil. I pray for salvation for our loved ones. Let us be ready for this revival and welcome one and all to our church families. Give us boldness to preach Your Word, God. Give us discernment to know what is Your will. Help us to pray each day for the different parts of our communities. In the name of Jesus the King of kings. Let the enemy’s plans be destroyed and God’s plans reign victoriously! Praise You, Jesus! Hallelujah!
I pray against the spirit of self-satisfaction (we’re okay – don’t rock the boat)… among Christians as well as non-Christians. Make us to need You, crave You, beg for You. In the name of Jesus.
I pray against the spirit of “tradition” among many Christian churches. Lord, we have worshiped “other gods” – human philosophies, religious traditions, worship styles – instead of worshiping only You; so often we have not even recognized that we are doing this. Help us to turn away from these “false gods” and turn to You, Yourself, with all our hearts, souls and minds. In the name of Jesus!
I pray against the spirit of prejudice (racial, cultural, financial, dress style, employment…) and especially “Christian” prejudice – our self-righteous sense of superiority about our worship styles, our doctrinal purity, and so on, both individually and denominationally. Forgive us, dear Lord Jesus. Unite us, heal us, make us one, in the love and power of Your Holy Spirit, and keep our eyes only on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith! In the name of Jesus!
Lord, You know I’ve been struggling with what I’ve perceived as the “narrowness” of my life, and have been restless, wanting to get “out there” in some “exciting ministry” … and You’ve been teaching me (and I’ve been slowly understanding) that where I am is an enormously important and responsible ministry… and that it can be a totally exciting adventure if I really truly give it to You.EMPHASIZE THE ESSENTIALS
Lord – I’ve been so “worried” about the lack of “youthful” music and preaching etc at these churches. What You showed me last night is that what is important is the outpouring of Your Spirit upon our churches and people – being centered on You – if we truly are centered on and growing in and worshiping only You, then those other things will resolve themselves (if they really are important, after all) by the inflowing of Your will, Your Spirit, as we are obedient and submitted totally and worshiping only You! Amen! Hallelujah!REDEDICATE OURSELVES TO GOD'S MISSION
Emphasize the essentials - Know God! Love Jesus! Be filled with the Spirit! Amen!
The speaker said that we need to rededicate ourselves to God’s MISSION (command and commission) for us – to make disciplined followers of Jesus and to be lovers of God and lovers of others… who will in turn do the same. What we do now must matter in the future. We need to leave a legacy. We don’t need to just spread more Christian words – we need to be a people alive with these words, convicted, with a clear understanding of how to demonstrate the love of God through the power of God’s Spirit – the image of Christ being formed in our lives – a message to be lived out!CHURCH - UNITED IN GOD'S LOVE AND REACHING OUT (VS RULES AND TRADITIONS...)
About church… Lord, I just want a place of peace and joy where it is obvious that the people are united in the love of God, and want to reach out, truly reach out, to their neighbors…welcoming them uncritically, joyously introducing them to Jesus – living in front of them lives and spirits totally permeated by a Christ-like spirit – indeed, by the Spirit of Christ. And prepared to lovingly nurture them, disciple them, encourage them, teach them, help them to know Jesus more and more each day in a loving, intimate, trusting relationship overflowing with the love, hope, joy, peace of Jesus, and the power of Jesus against the enemy. (Not laying a bunch of orders and rules and … (dare I say it, Lord??)… ummm. “traditions.”)
(I’ve always been much more a hearer (and note taker) than a doer, Lord. Please! Make me a woman of action! )THAT MAN TRAPPED IN TRADITION....
Oh dear God – it isn’t about our tradition – it’s all about You! I have to pay attention, learn from You!BELIEF
Dear God, please be with that poor man (and his wife) today. Pour out Your Spirit. Rescue, deliver him from the dark spirits of pain, hurt, unforgiveness – and yes, earthly “tradition.” Oh God, he just needs to really meet You! He just needs the outpouring of Your Spirit in his life! Oh God, rescue him from his sad, dark pit…
You have surely opened my eyes to why it is so important to truly be filled with the Spirit. How difficult it must be to be bereft (even if by choice) of Your Spirit, Lord. Living in a self-imposed cell of darkness and dampness and chill, while all around are others living in the glorious freedom and light of Your presence. Oh dear God, destroy the dark spirit of fear – and unforgiveness – that holds – binds – him. and open all of our hearts to the things that bind us, too. Make us willing – longing! – to cast it all aside and truly enter into the utter, supernatural, amazing fullness of Your grace and love and freedom as children/ heirs of God the King, and co-heirs of Jesus, Son of God, our wonderful Savior; and the precious Holy Spirit who longs with an endless longing to totally fill every fibre of our beings and bring us into oneness with You, dear God, Heavenly Father. Bless Your Holy Name! Amen!
I SAW YOUR CHURCH
“Belief” (as conveyed by the Saniyo people of Papua New Guinea): “I am hearing, thinking about, grasping hold of and following the talk of Jesus continuously all the time.”
Dear Lord Jesus – Yesterday in church I saw Your vision being realized. I saw Your people stepping out in faith. I saw the pastor letting go his control and trusting You to work through Your people, Your church.CHILDREN IN CHURCH?
It is time for us to go back to Your pattern, as shown in Acts.
Dear Lord, please open opportunities today to reach others for You. For me to be part of Your church – actively, in the love and mercy of Your Son, Jesus.
I am glad, Lord, to see the children staying in church for the worship time. And I see that there are still no teachers for certain age groups. I keep wondering... are You trying to tell us something there too? I know some people - some good people - are convinced we need the children out of the service - some even want them out of worship time - "so we adults can focus on the Lord." Lord, You welcomed the children - You even drew them physically closer to Yourself than the adults! When the people came to listen to You on that hillside, there were 5000 men PLUS women AND CHILDREN! Without need for a microphone. Your authority and power were so strong that all were quiet and could hear.I'D RATHER BE PART OF A HURTING, STRUGGLING CHURCH
I'd rather be part of a hurting, struggling church that is coming into an attitude of repentance and humility and obedient submission to God, and seeking to be filled and taught and used according to God's will, by the work of the Holy Spirit in us; than to be part of a big, successful, admired church with great programs and numerous outreaches, and perfect worship music, and receiving fame and glory from all kinds of people - but sitting there in smugness and self-satisfaction (and yes, without even realizing it, becoming proud and arrogant and worldly!). Thank You, God for the struggles that drive us to You. Amen!PLEASE PURIFY YOUR CHURCH
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the story of the fall of Israel and of the faithfulness of Hezekiah in Judah, and how he destroyed all the high places and even the brass serpent of Moses (which had started out as a wonderful gift from You, but had become a snare as people started to worship it. It was a great "tradition" and a "precious icon" but it had been perverted from being a memory of the power of God, into an idol in itself). Lord God, thank You for showing me every day new ways in which we too have turned from the pure worship of You alone, to bringing in the things of the world (as the people who replaced Israel worshiped both You and other gods - as did Israel and Judah themselves), but also to perverting the very worship of You by worshiping the objects and methods related to the worship, and by trusting in the rituals rather than in You!
Oh dear God, purify Your church! Purify Your people, individually and as the church, the Kingdom of God. Please continue to open our eyes, that we may truly see the truth of our condition, and come before You in true repentance, and utterly cast aside all that has replaced You in our hearts and minds and beings, and help us to turn unto You alone with our whole hearts, with all that we are, and lay ourselves on the altar of sacrifice before You and cry out to You to bind us to the altar and destroy all that is in us that separates us from You, that draws us away from worshiping and following You alone.
Thank You for the great love You showed in giving Your Son as our substitute Sacrifice, to rescue us, to save us from the power of sin and death. Now, oh dear God, please make us daily, continuous living sacrifices before You of all we are, all we cherish, all we value and hold dear, and make our hearts and minds and bodies and emotions - all that we are - single minded before You, dear Lord.WOMEN GATHERING WITH YOU - AND LED BY YOUR SPIRIT!
Thank You for the amazing prayer meeting - and Bible study - we had yesterday! Wow! We started in prayer, and we just kept stopping for prayer over and over as we went through the half dozen scriptures we managed to cover (well, that was more than the 2 we covered the week before ). And ended in prayer. Oh Lord, how amazingly Your Spirit is leading, and other women are taking leadership (You through them! :-)) and saying, "Let's pray about that right now" and You deciding how long we should take, and referring us to other scriptures and bringing out other Biblical Godly aspects that I had not thought of while preparing the study. So other than kind of getting things going and providing transitions and reading the questions - basically I am "facilitating" instead of teaching - we are all listening to You and then teaching, as Your Spirit works through us - so it is You doing the teaching. Praise God! You "gave" me the "study" - and You are providing the guidance and direction and teaching! It's so awesome! Thank You!"OUR CHURCH'S VISION" vs GOD'S PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR THE CHURCH
Oh, Father God, please help us to be open to Your will, Your truth, Your leading, Your "structure" for the church (not just for "our church" but for Your church, locally and eternally through time and place).WONDERFUL PREACHING - BUT SO LITTLE BROKENNESS BEFORE YOU
I keep thinking, wow, if we had been truly a church of small churches, if there had been a bit less "control" from the top, and our life groups/ home churches had had the freedom to truly be churches (and if the people had sought YOUR vision, had been really determined to seek scripture to discover Your plan for the church universal, and the "churches" at the local level) - what might have been possible? What might still be possible?
If we didn't do the "building" thing at all - except to maybe rent a large hall for group gatherings once every month or two or three, and instead put our free-will offerings, as God leads us and provides for us, in the area of giving, into the work of small home churches where people can really get to know each other, care for each other, bring their friends into a close caring group that loves and serves, where Jesus is clearly seen - without the costs of "overhead" (building, heat, office costs, phone bills, program costs, etc etc etc) we could so easily afford to pay a true pastor/ shepherd/ overseer who could move among the groups, encouraging, teaching, building up (edifying), bringing unity even in our separateness... and still have money left for every group to do the ministries God calls them to. Each group to truly be a "family of God" not divided by age or gender or any such human construct of division, but brought together in the love of Jesus, in the family of God, in His Kingdom, and always for His glory.
Lord, I still cannot believe that You brought our church a great vision of outreach to our community, and of edification and ministry among and setting free of Your people in our midst, and of a church pattern that seems far more faithful to the example of Your Word (even though we got off-track because we still tried to hang onto our "traditions" - and our control - at the same time) - I can't believe You brought Your people together in this way, and then want them to just drop the whole thing to just go back to a "safer, more comfortable, more traditional" way of doing things.
Lord, I wonder exactly where in "our church" the "greatest" - most spiritual edifying, growing, evangelistic - things are happening? I have an idea it is in the situation where some small groups of Your people - even individuals or ones or twos - are meeting to bow before You, even daily (!) to pour out their hearts before You, and seek You with all their beings.
Lord, when I look to see where the "difficulties" lie, I see it in the "big ticket" traditions - building, land, professional paid clergy in the "traditional" sense, "programs" that can't attract enough workers, etc. Lord, instead of trying to "fix" these things - and get ourselves even "deeper" into them, could it be that You want us to look instead to You, our Head, our true pastor/ shepherd/ leader/ guide; to bow before You; to seek to be filled every day with Your Spirit; to search Your Word for the truth You would teach us about Your church (its purpose, direction - yes, even its "structure") - to seek first for transformed lives, individually, yes, but also for a transformed church, created and led and filled by the Spirit of God, washed in the blood of Jesus, beloved of the Father - the true Kingdom of God, the true church.
Lord, do we perhaps (surely) need to cast aside our customs, traditions, worldly influences, personal preferences - and be willing to totally change our whole approach, if necessary, to be in line with Your Word, to be in "sync" with Your Spirit, to be truly the body of Christ under Your Headship and Shepherding, Lord Jesus, to be truly children of God, members of His family, ministers of His Word, messengers of the gospel... all those things we say we "believe" and yet seem to struggle so hard to achieve in even the smallest degree?!
This struggling is not what You intend for Your church! We are to be the "church militant," advancing the Kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit! We are to be the family of God, united in the love of our Heavenly Father, brothers and sisters all, in the example and salvation and regeneration and holy life given us by Jesus, our first and elder brother, and our Lord and King.
Perhaps we are getting it all wrong, worrying about land and buildings and income and how we can afford a pastor -- when we have perhaps not yet sought to listen to what God really has in His will and purpose for us, His church. God is doing a great work in us, a great spiritual work. That must come first. And as it does, He can, if we will only open our hearts and minds and personal and corporate wills totally to Him, lead us into what He desires, into the true vision He has for us, a vision that is led by God Himself, that lines up perfectly with His revealed Word, and is proven by the outpouring of true Godly love that is the mark of the true church, and the real building of the Kingdom to which God Himself has entrusted and commanded us, His family, the body of the church under the Headship of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
We're having "building problems." Maybe God is giving us a message here. Let's listen, seek His face, find out. Let's remember that the church is not about buildings and programs, but about God calling His people, predestined and foreknown before the creation of time, into relationship with Him, and for glory of Him, and for the building of His eternal kingdom. We are seeking a pastor, a shepherd, an overseer. That is biblical, I think?
But not all the things we are seeking and doing and assuming come from a scriptural basis. And we must remember that scripture is God's Word, God revealing Himself and His purposes to His people and to the world, and is knowable, understandable, workable - as we, His people, truly and totally crucify ourselves, our own desires, our favored thoughts and ideas (many of which come straight out of the world even though we most often do not even recognize it); even our "traditions" which we have come to accept just because they've been used for so long, and seem to be somewhat efficient (though rarely truly effective in really reaching the goals and purposes of God for His church).
Oh dear God, open our hearts to what You will for us, Your people, Your priesthood of believers, Your children, Your family, people of Your kingdom - Your church, universal and local.
Guide our new committee, Lord. And guide all of us, every committee, life group, congregation, program, individual -- all the "forms" we take within Your body. Bring us together into uniy in You, instead of being fractured into our own little ideas, our own little sub-groups, our own little pre-conceived traditions.
Help us, dear Jesus! Father! Holy Spirit!
"For I'm building a people of power/ And I'm making a people of praise [and prayer!]/ That will move through this land by My Spirit/ And will glorify My precious Name/ Build Your church, Lord,/ Make us strong, Lord, / Join our hearts, Lord, through Your Son/ Make us one, Lord, in Your body/ In the Kingdom of Your Son."
Lord, we've had such wonderful preaching at church, such a strong spiritual foundation being laid, yet somehow I feel as though I am running into a wall (and that the whole church is, too). I feel like we talk about our need for spiritual growth, for total submission to, and filling by, Your Spirit - and for several Sundays we even all went forward to the altar, and there did seem to be real desire to follow You - and yes, even repentance too, and a beginning of brokenness... but Lord, I do not feel that I, myself, have become totally broken before You, and think this is true of all (or at least most) of us. Lord, I just can't get past thinking that we need to have daily prayer meetings, be in constant prayer and waiting upon You, like the disciples did after Jesus was taken into heaven, not giving up, not getting off our faces before You, until the power of the Holy Spirit truly falls upon us in all Your fullness, Lord!!!"LOVE INDEX" vs JESUS' LOVE
I realize that will require us to give up the other things we want/like/even think are necessary to do - and I'm not sure we want to do that, Lord. I can't get past the thought (belief!) that You want to totally wipe out the "walls of the house" that we have built, and start us afresh, anew, completely new, on You, the firm and strong and perfect, eternal, all powerful, all loving foundation. Jesus the cornerstone, the cap-stone, both, below and above! (Just saw that! Wow!)
Lord God, maybe instead of life groups, youth groups, children's church) even - imagine! - Sunday "celebration" service - we need to take those times to get on our knees before You in fasting and prayer. Maybe we need to set aside these "fellowship lunches," loving and fine as they are, and seek with all our beings for the true bread and water! Maybe we need to stop worrying about the church structure - and even the "right pastor" - and seek You with all our hearts. Oh dear God, we need our hearts to be perfect toward You! We need to be called out so insistently, so strongly, that we run forward and throw ourselves before You in true brokenness and repentance! I feel like there is a big dam blocking the river of Your Spirit and Your love, and it must be smashed to allow the living water to truly flow into our lives - and out, through us, into the world!
Lord, help me to totally submit to Your Spirit, to give up all other things that distract me, that "I" love in my life... and be totally focused on You alone. Oh dear God, I want what You want. Oh dear God, I want You! In me, in my family, in our church (and the church universal), and in my school, and community, and world.
oh Heavenly Father - You lead! You fill! by Your Spirit! You bring us into true fellowship with You! Build Your church, Your Kingdom, dear God! To You be all the glory, now and forever, Amen.
We talked about how on the church survey the "love index" was so high - but how can we be such a "loving church" (as we always record ourselves) and yet be so low on the indexes that prove love? We talked about how we define love, and about whether it is truly the servant-love, the love that willingly turns the other cheek, the love that cares for the unlovely, the love that reaches out to the world with the gospel of Jesus in practical caring ways....
The love that Jesus Himself modeled for us, here on earth, and that God has always demonstrated through His kindness, mercy, grace, forgiveness, protection, salvation, etc, all through the history of mankind, despite our endless rebellion and self-will - His love that brought Jesus, His Son - God Himself - down to earth as a helpless, "low-born" infant, birthed in a cow shed, and from there through a ministry mingling miracles and personal sacrifice, to the cross of Calvary - and the resurrection, ascension, and the gift of the Holy Spirit! "Amazing love! how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"WHY DOES OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY SEEM TO BE SO SLOW?
It kind of worries me about the haphazard way we are "taught to discover our gifts." In the New Testament they didn't seem to have that "struggle" to "discover." We just seem so often nowadays to make our whole spiritual journey so slowly. Is it because we think of it as a "compartment" of our lives, instead of truly informing our whole existence? Did people have "more time" then? Or was it that they really did leave behind the old life? They did keep working to support themselves... but it seems like there was such an emphasis even there of "unto the Lord." Has there always been this struggle?
SERVING BECAUSE I "SHOULD," LIVING BY THE LIST, FOLLOWING THE PROGRAM ...
I have gotten caught up in the "should" syndrome... and when I don't or can't, I feel guilty, and "I try" harder... and get exhausted and frustrated and blaming.... and feel self-pity because I am having trouble, but not able to put my finger on the source. But now You have opened my eyes, Lord, in Your own way. I have been trying so hard to "serve You" that I have lost track of just walking in Your Presence moment by moment and letting You decide what each new moment/day/year will bring. I have stopped trusting You.MY HUSBAND'S VILLAGE ... AND CHURCH
I have gotten wrapped up in my new "Bible-in-a-Year" plan -- that I researched instead of just letting You send it my way as in the past few years. And I set up a day-by-day prayer book -- and while it isn't bad to have a list, I have started to live by the list, when I really need to be listening to You a lot, or praying in depth for things You lay on my heart at that moment. Instead I find myself chained to that list and resenting it, and not listening and responding to You.
What about ___'s small group (women) idea? Is it too formal, to programmed? Are we trying to "create" relationship instead of just relating to You, and seeing where You take us? I was just thinking, instead of a "must meeting" controlled by "commitment" why can't we just go out walking together for some exercise? Or like we hung out at the beach together with the kids a few times last summer? And see where You take us?
What about Saturday evenings? Maybe we just let it be known that people can "drop in" and there'll be food (if they want it), companionship, whatever... kids can maybe get some homework help... moms can ask to be shown how to make fry bread or whatever... bring along and share a great family video? or bring something good that you've baked... or just come because you need company...
In my husband's village, everyone is related to everyone else. People mostly don't lock their doors. You want to see someone, you just walk over to their place and walk in, because you are family. You go into the kitchen and help yourself to a bowl of soup and cup of coffee or whatever. You go sit on the couch or at the kitchen table - with others, or by yourself, as you please. You play with the kids, or go throw a stick for the dog. If you're tired, you stretch out on the couch, or even in a bed, and have a nap -- all night if you like. If supper's ready, it's assumed you'll join in -- no invitation necessary. If you see someone's naanii (grandmother) walking by looking lost and bewildered, you'll know she's old, and you go outside and wrap your arm around her, and talk to her, and bring her in or take her home because she's your nannii, too. If you see some kids outside having a fight, you go out and see about it, because they are your family, too. You live the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child."RELIGION vs RELATIONSHIP
If someone in your family is very sick and needs "round the clock care," people just naturally drop by all the time, stay for awhile (even overnight) and help out however they can until the crisis is past -- and you would do the same for them. The same goes for funerals and weddings and other significant events. Everybody pitches in -- immediately. Nobody has to phone people to ask for help. The whole village knows instantly and are there. A wedding is a huge event, but everybody shares in the planning, the cooking, the sewing of outfits, the cost of hall rental... and at the end, after 500 or 1000 people have attended, you are not in debt!.
In my husband's village, when it's fishing season, or berry-picking season, or whatever, a lot of people pitch in and work like crazy. The whole family goes to the fishing camp or the berry patches, and everybody helps, until the job is done. The same thing happens when there is a crisis, like a death. Everybody pitches in, helps, cares, and not just for the day of the funeral, but for as long as it takes. Same with celebrations. And all those other "life events" that we associate with family and community. And then when things are quiet, they relax, go around and visit with each other, make music, do art (Haida art is world-famous). Yes, there is a lot of alcoholism and dysfunction (which, sadly, has a great deal to do with our colonial past, including the attitudes of "the churches" and the residential schools they ran)... but you'd probably be amazed to see all the "drunks" get together when there's going to be a community event, and sober up, and come out an pitch in with everyone else.
I wonder -- if our "churches" as they stand now, were facing the level of difficulties faced in so many native villages, would the "family" life -- such as it is -- stand strong? And we have Jesus to lead us (if we let Him), not just our "traditions"... but so often we seem to rely on our traditions... which not only include our "order of service" and "building" and "clergy" and "programs," but also our urbanized, transient, individualistic, humanistic, institutionalized, age/education/job/gender/etc segregated lifestyle and values, that come from a society that is obsessed with individual "success" and wealth and control and all those other kinds of "self-actualization."
I wonder if there really is any way of effectively transforming the "institution" of the church... Yes of course there is -- by handing total control over to the Head of the church, in loving submissive relationship.... which will change everything (including, I strongly suspect, the institutional tradition). And maybe we're afraid of change... not to mention really hating to give up doing things our way.
It seems that perhaps, ultimately, if you really want to experience church/body life the way Jesus spoke of it and modeled it, and the way the New Testament church lived it, you have to bail out of the institution. Or does Jesus sometimes keep some of the people "in but not of" the institutionalized church-- just as we are to live in, but not of, the world? (Both easier said than done... both really impossible without radical relationship with Christ... and thereby with the body of Christ).
I'm not about to run out of "our church" (unless my Lord clearly leads that way, and then I'll joyfully go) but I'm sure going to think twice about signing onto all the program and structures and trying to "serve/minister" thereby, when Jesus is calling me to "love one another" and "go into all the world and preach the gospel."
So Lord God -- Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit -- my Lord and God! -- here I am. Please make me like Jesus. Please transform me so that I am "the church," so that I live in family/body sacrificial loving relationship with You and Your children, washed in Your blood and following You alone!
Thank You. I sense a great adventure, a new adventure, with You as my guide and helper, taking me into the joy of Your kingdom! Thank You dear Lord. Amen.
One thing is very clear in all this -- the church as the body of Christ, the family under the Father and the headship of Jesus, in love relationship that is based on the love fellowship, unity, oneness of Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- is very, very different than the cultural trappings and traditions that we refer to as "church" (buildings, governing structures, programs, cultural expectations, picky behavioural expectations, rules and regulations, rituals...). Yes, there is some overlap, and yes, Father, You patiently love and grow Your people wherever they are, but it is true that Your best, Your desire for Your family is in body (organism) living in Your life, rather than them trying to serve You out of whatever kind of religious system they develop to express it (or take control of it).LETTING GO STRUCTURE, AND FOLLOWING JESUS
I don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong with different music styles, or building styles, or organizational structures per se... they are in themselves just neutral things... but it is our motivations, our reasons for using them, our letting them take over and control and direct and provide all that You are meant to be and provide, that changes everything and turns it into "religion" instead of just being worship of You alone, and relationship with You, and with Your body, as You really intended... as must be. The rest is rubble; filthy rags if it takes away from You alone! (And how very, very easily we turn to the rubble and away from Your love and glory! Oh, help us, Lord! Help me, Lord!)
About "our church" Lord... And our "structure." How can we come to see that Jesus is our senior pastor and head shepherd? How can we let go and let You be the head of Your church, and trust You to be able to "be in charge"? Isn't that what You want?"POSITIONAL LEADERSHIP" VS JESUS AS LEADER
Like in Acts 4... when Peter and John were released by the Sanhedrin, the first thing they did was go to the brethren and all of them called out to You! They didn't have a "planning and vision" meeting, or a "structure" meeting, or a "pastoral search team" meeting. They just went straight to the head pastor, the "Lord who is our shepherd." And turned it all over to You, and let You work it out! Because it is Your church and You do all things well! You are God alone! In charge!
O dear Heavenly Father, please open our eyes to see that!
It isn't about buildings, and people who have the "final responsibility" or anything like that. It is just Your people, coming together before You in awe and worship, with hearts -- eyes, ears, spirits -- open to Your Spirit, with "selves" crucified in deep repentance and humility... just open and willing -- and longing -- to do Yours works, Your way, Your timing, Your will alone, dear Heavenly Father, through the shed blood of Jesus our Saviour and Lord and King, by the power and guidance and comfort of Your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ and of God! In Jesus' name! Amen!
NOT PUSHING OTHERS TO DO THINGS MY WAY
Lord, a year ago I wanted to be recognized as a “positional leader” because that always seems to be the goal (oh, we were big on our “goals”… maybe not God’s way, either…). But in the past year, with a little taste of “position” (ie “women's ministry leader”) I realized that isn’t what I want, it isn’t what God wants for me, nor for His church generally. Jesus is our “leader” … and yet He is the ultimate servant, totally humbled to the lowest “position” of death on a cross…. Voluntarily yet purposefully. (And I want to be like Jesus!).
I do want You to fill me with the life of Christ! – to be filled with Yourself through Your Blessed Holy Spirit!THIS "CHURCH" IS WHERE YOU'VE PLACED ME - AT LEAST FOR TODAY
I don’t need to force/ push/ guilt/ complain others into doing things my way! It’s not about me at all! Oh dear Jesus, forgive me! And by Your Spirit help my spirit to always make it ALL ABOUT YOU! Amen! Thank You!
The way we treat others in our church (or anywhere!) is the way we treat Jesus!
You know, Lord, a year ago I was right ready to leave this church if only someone would start a home group or something (led by You!) – or if You gave me any other kind of direction to leave. But You haven’t. For Your own reasons You have kept me here, and You’ve given me peace about it – even though, I suppose, many things about it haven’t changed (or have they?)
You did send the new pastor – and there isn’t the huge amount of complaining and gossip there used to be – (at least I’m no longer hearing it – though I do sometimes hear “of” it – so maybe You’ve been changing my heart and attitudes, and maybe it had to do with some of the more unhappy people leaving; maybe even having hubby home and being busy with school has kept me preoccupied...)
Or maybe You are doing an amazing work in our midst and we are all changing into the likeness of Jesus, growing in grace and knowledge and relationship with You, coming into a new level of maturity and willingness to do whatever You ask, go wherever You ask, listen and obey with joy! and trust – that You are doing and fulfilling Your plans and purposes for us, Your people at this time and place. And perhaps You simply have other plans, jobs, purposes, places for those who have moved out – and on? I pray for them that they are listening to Your voice and will!!
It just surprises me that I don’t have feelings of anger, frustration, etc anymore against the church generally, or especially against certain people. You have (without me even realizing it) wiped that away.
It reminds me, Lord, of when I so did not want to go back to __ after Bible School… and then Your Spirit just broke through and gave me utter peace and confidence even though in a sense “nothing had changed” and we faced many of the same old “issues” – but in the midst of it all was a place of calm and peace and rest and even joy – great joy – with You – so that I could truly sing with all my being – “It is well, it is well with my soul!”
Unlike that time I haven’t had a huge “aha!” moment … instead, it just seems to have almost “sneaked up” on me. And yesterday I realized that I am (church-wise – and oh, I hope and pray, otherwise, too) where You want me to be right now. It doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with “how the church is going,” or who has left, or who has stayed….
There are still things that disturb me, like the whole “programs for different ages” thing, and the womens group meetings that seem to me to be mostly about feel-good, “girls night out” stuff… but always that just goes back to my longing for deep fellowship, deep study, deep searching for greater and deeper relationship and obedience and righteousness and holiness (sanctification) before You and with You, individually and corporately (as the body of Christ, the family of God)! But those things don’t disturb me like they used to, making “me” want to change them or to get away from them. It’s just that I long for that which brings joy and glory to You!
This is where You have placed me – and so this is where I want and need to be, staying with You, in step with You, obedient to You, trusting and resting in You – Today. Whatever You want – Today.
I do thank You for what You have done and are doing. I see reconciliation and repentance and forgiveness. I see people really and truly reaching out to You.DOING "MIGHTY WORKS" OR HUMBLY SERVING?
It’s funny – I was the one who was so encouraging people to step out, to move away from this church if that was how God was calling them. I was so unhappy about so many things. I passed out so many copies of the “Jake book.” I wanted to move ahead – and I thought the “Jake book” was maybe the way to do it – just like before that I thought maybe house-church networks, and before that, cell churches, was the “way” to do it. But maybe – I just realized it – all along You’ve been gently but firmly calling me out to walk with You faithfully and patiently and obediently – no matter what place or situation You have allowed me to be in! Wow! Thank You! Ha! It just took pages and pages of writing to let You speak it to my mind and heart! Awesome! Thank You! Thank You! Amen
Yesterday I read Luke 9:46-48 “And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, and said to them, 'Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me: for he who is least among you all is the one who is great'.”WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO'VE LEFT?
That verse just hung in my mind and heart all day yesterday but I could not, for the life of me, figure out why… what was the significance… what were You wanting to show, tell, change in me?
Anyway when I just now re-opened Your word this morning, it “came to me in a flash” that maybe the reason for all that “pain” in our church’s past… and the way people have left and don’t even talk to each other any more… the way we’ve cut off our friendships… maybe has a lot to do with this whole “greatest in the kingdom” thing that has been an ongoing problem in the church, and among Jesus’ disciples, and even in the wilderness before the tabernacle, when Korah and that bunch rebelled against Moses.
We humans all so desperately want to be “the greatest” It's that original sin, that sin of pride which led Satan himself and a third of the angels to be cast out of heaven!
And the odd thing is that so often the “church” (oh dear, following the ways of the world, not following the ways of Jesus) teaches it, encourages it, pushes it… with all the talk of ordination, wonderful ministries, leadership, pastoral teams, governing boards, famous speakers, the “best” worship teams, awesome “programs,” the “best church in town.”
Oh dear God… that, I’m afraid, is the perfect picture of so many of our churches… and it has been a message just jammed down our throats Not to mention that it is the same message we hear in all the world around us from the day we are born. So it is no wonder we accept it; and, more than accept it, strive for it, all in the name of “serving You!” Oh Lord, until we can understand that it is not Your way… what will become of us??
Yes, Lord. I too have wanted to “do mighty works for You” – and yes, I have also wanted to please You, and wanted to show You my love for You and Your body. But more often than not I have been striving to be recognized, to be praised for doing those “great” things… maybe even wanting to be the “next great ___” (speaker, writer, musician, leader – even preacher or teacher).
Yet gradually, You’ve been helping me let go, little by little, my “iron grip” on those “dreams” and “visions” - those “vision statements” we were so often urged to write down and submit (and, oh Lord, the hurt and rejection I felt when I “faithfully” did as we were told, only to be ignored it seemed Though looking back, all I can say is “thank You, Lord!” because I see it was a blessing from You to NOT be accepted into that stratospheric group-of-the-great! What joy to be a woman! and thereby not "acceptable" as one of the upper-great - though I sure didn’t feel that way at the time!)…
Well, Lord, the past is PAST, and You have once again, still, given us a fresh new morning, a fresh new day and opportunity to truly serve You… And yes, there is forgiveness and reconciliation work to be done, and rebuilding of love and unity among the members of Your body… whether that be in the “local church” or the “church in the community”… or even in the “church universal”… (that’s up to You… Your option and purpose and decision… Your mighty eternal foreknowing and purpose and intent!).
But meanwhile, oh dear God, help us to see, to understand, to accept, that the way of the world, of “greatness” in anything, is not Your way… help us to somehow see (and it’s not easy, living in [but not of… that’s so hard to understand and especially to live] a world where “greatness” is so “rewarded” and “lauded” and held up as the ultimate goal. Oh, we are so “goal-oriented,” not understanding that our “goal” is a true knowing of one person – You – rather than the glittering things and the personal recognition the enemy holds dangling in front of us. The little, shrouded, dirt-covered carrots that we, in true donkey fashion, go yearning, stretching, stumbling after!
Oh dear God, please forgive us – please forgive me! Please open our eyes! Please teach us [oh dear, another hard-taught and learned lesson, I fear…] what it really means, as You say just a few verses later in Luke 9, to follow You… to give up all the “important” things of the world – even our family and friends, and no longer to look back, but to go forth and proclaim the kingdom of God, and yes, as You say a few verses earlier in Luke 9, to take up our cross daily and follow You, and to lose our lives for Your sake in order to find them. To be least, for only in being least is true greatness – Your greatness (which is not the world’s greatness at all) - to be found!
Oh Lord, what an amazing chapter! I’ve read it probably a hundred times – maybe hundreds of times – but somehow I’ve never quite “got it” … indeed, I feel even now that I am only beginning to get a “glimmer” … the first dim lighting, pale glowing of the early dawn sky, the first rays of morning slipping gently over the mountain tops and lighting the dark skies and valley below… of what You really mean… what You really want in me… and in Your church… and in Your great eternal kingdom!
Oh, Lord, if we could only get even a little hold, a little glimmering grasp of Your way and then hang on to that (instead of what we have been grasping) with an iron grip. Hang on to You, our eyes fixed on You, our only goal, our only need for “approval” – which, after all, You have already given, in the death and resurrection of Your Son, and all the blessing and opportunity and LIFE ETERNAL that comes directly out of that – YOU! Oh, Almighty God! “Angels bow before You, heaven and earth adore You (oh let it be true of me, of us, too!) – What a mighty God we serve!”
“Serve”… what a different concept than the world presents us (and sadly, that the church has also picked up and trumpeted, too often). Oh dear God, please open our hearts, please move in our spirits by Your Spirit, please teach us to truly serve, to truly be humble, to truly turn our backs on the world and it’s “goals” and “rewards,” to truly become “least,” to truly take up our cross and follow You no matter where it leads, no matter the seeming “consequences” (negative, as the “world” sees them), our feet in Your path and our eyes fixed on You, the author and perfector of our faith!
Lord, a whole hour has passed, and I haven’t even thought about “today’s” reading… but it’s not really about the “reading” per se, is it? It’s really about meeting with, waiting upon, listening, and hearing (really hearing) from You… and then (oh dear God, let it so be in my life – I mean, Your life in me!)… stepping forth, truly united with You, into Your kingdom, into Your work, to preach the good news and point all men (and women and kids) to You! Amen! Thank You, Lord!
I just don’t know, Lord, There have been many times when I have had moments (sometimes more than moments) of joy in You in the “church” … but I am sick of “programs,” of everything being “programmed”… I want to see, to experience the freedom of Your Spirit moving as You will… but what if it is? What if it’s just me being not content?THANK YOU FOR THE VARIETY OF MANIFESTATIONS OF YOUR CHURCH
I wonder and wonder about the folks who have “left the church” … are they now part of the “real church” as compared (opposed?) to the “institutional church”? Or are they “unplugged” from people but more “plugged into You”?? Is that what You want? Are they experiencing Your Presence and joy? Are they knowing You? Are they getting ever deeper in relationship with You?
Do they get together and truly experience You in their midst? What do they really mean when they refer to themselves as “free range Christians” (or “not cookie-cutter Christians”) ??
Why do most of them seem to have just CUT OFF all ties to those who have “stayed” in the “church”? Do they feel they no longer need fellowship with other believers? Or that those who have stayed aren’t real believers, or at least are not on the “same level”? Or maybe they just don’t know how to explain what is happening in their lives? Or have just been hurt so bad before they left? Or??
Father, for so long I longed for Your church, for believers who longed to know You, love You, trust You, obey You, believe in You with all their hearts and souls and minds and strength… and loved each other with Your love. (And yes, I still long for that… or I wouldn’t be writing this)… I talked to people about how Your Word describes the church… I begged people to reconsider what You mean by “church” … to be willing to listen to You, to change things drastically if need be (and, oh dear God, drastic change is what You require – both individually and corporately, in relation with You, and in relation with others... isn't it?)…
So here we are, with a new “pastor” (who I like and respect, and I think he is a “Godly” man … but somehow it seems to me that You can’t do the work You want to do through him because of the way we “define” his “position”) … and another 2 year lease on a building (but I can’t help but wonder if You really want us to pour all our resources into rents and heat bills and salaries and programs … when those resources could go so much further if put directly into whatever day-by-day, moment-by-moment opportunities You provide – to truly live out Your love to You and to others in the body, and to reach out to bring others to You…)
And we have, also, a new “constitution” and we’re busy rebuilding old “ministries” and/or developing “new ministries” And here I am feeling “guilty” because I simply don’t have any inclination to get “really involved.” Frankly, I’d rather just get together with a few friends I know who really care about just getting together with You… Is that even possible? (I want it to be possible… but, oh, dear God, is that just my wants?). Maybe it’s just time for each of us to really get to know You, and learn to depend on, lean on You alone instead of depending on each other. Maybe we need to get firmly grounded individually in You, first.
I am feeling so confused. A new year is starting. I feel like it will be a year of drastic change – if I will allow You that freedom. I’ve been studying about the Kingdom of God. I know going deep with God is costly. And yes, it’s bound to be lonely. It’s not the “broad way.” There is bound to be great loss; but the gain is infinitely greater. And the relationships may well be fewer, but oh, how much greater! For ever!
Here I am, Lord. Take me. I’m Yours. No matter what. Thank You. (Even if it means “giving up” the “church” and my job at the “Christian school” and losing friends who don’t understand. Actually I don’t really care about that “giving up.” Only I feel sad because so many folks are so contented with “the way things are” and I’ve been maybe trying to hang in there to change their minds… but maybe that’s Your job – including changing my mind to what You alone desire.)
In the end, what I really want is to know You, Lord. To be in relationship with You! To spend eternity with You (starting now) – to worship You, to see You face to face, to have Your name on my forehead.
Thank You for the friends who came over last night. It is good to gather with Your people, and although I’m not totally sure exactly what Your Word means about “the church… gathering” I just thank You for each manifestation, like last night’s visit, of Your church, Your body.HOW VERY INDIVIDUALISTIC MY CHRISTIANITY HAS BEEN
I’m not sure where “church” ends and “organization” starts… but I do know that whenever 2 or 3 (or thousands!) are truly gathered in Your name, there You are in the midst! And of course, You are also always right there involved in love in the life of every one of Your children, including me – if only we will accept and trust and love (and therefore obey! because we love and are loved, not just for a “get out of hell free card.” ) Lord, I really have enjoyed reading those 3 books lately, but I really want to hear from Your Spirit and Your Word, what is the Truth… Yes. Jesus! You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Oh please help me keep my eyes focused on You!
I really started realizing, from reading “The Shack” and “Pagan Christianity,” how very individualistic our – my – “Christianity” has been… how it is really so much about “me” … “my” walk with God, God’s will in “my” life, etc etc. But really, in scripture, it is about the church, the body, Christ’s bride, unity, all of us corporately joining into the Oneness of relationship in the Godhead through accepting and abiding in Christ.I DON'T SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING IN OUR MIDST
Oh Lord, please get my mind off me! I have striven so hard to overcome “me.” And yet I have stumbled into “me-ness” in another format! You do love me individually, there is no doubt of it… but Your purposes are for Your body, family, church, bride! Oh dear God, please open my eyes and heart to see as You see, to see beyond the bounds of my “cultural/ sociological” baggage, even my “religious baggage.” Help me to know You, not just in personal relationship (though that is a piece of it) but in community, in family with You and the church, the body, of which You are head, and Lord, and God!
Thank You that You love all of us, and yearn to bring all of us, united in You, into abiding in and with You, and therefore with Father God….
Praise God! thank You, Jesus!!! Praise Your Name – Amen!
RELEASED FROM "GOING TO CHURCH" SO I CAN BE JESUS' CHURCH
Oh dear God, I don’t know what You are doing in our midst. I don’t see the whole picture like You do. And I have given the “big picture” of to You and asked that You would just work out Your purposes, day by day, moment by moment… and then I get anxious again and again… because I don’t “see” what it is You are doing.
This morning God opened my eyes and a great burden was lifted from my shoulders and a great joy and peace and freedom dropped in its place… and suddenly I thought, “I don’t have to “go to church” anymore! - a great freeing thought. It took away the fear I have been under about all that phrase has suggested to me…AND RELEASED FROM "THIS CHURCH"
I was reading and suddenly felt God telling me to close the book and pray along, there on my living room couch, with those I knew would be praying at the “pre-church prayer meeting.” I felt called to pray for unity, peace, moving of the Spirit among them, and at the service this morning, too.
And I was wondering, should I “go to church?” So I just asked God to show me when (and if) the time came, and to walk with me this day and help me see His people the way He sees them. At 10:20 hubby said, “Oh no, we’re going to be late for church,” and got busy getting ready. I felt myself smiling and suggested maybe we were being late because of God’s timing. Anyway, we got there – and put our “stuff” on “our chairs” … and got our coffee… and the special hot chocolate B makes for me! – but I did not feel like going to my seat, even though the music had started.
So I sat at the back, on a step, and just watched. And it seemed to me that “church” was really happening at the back by the doors as people came in. G was greeting them, and then there was R wandering around doing her smiley, huggy, happy, welcoming people thing. And a tiny native girl came up to me and just stared at me with her big serious beautiful dark eyes. And some of the pre-teen girls were in the corner happily giggling together. And a couple men were just enthusiastically chatting together about something. And when I had first come in I had seen one of the men turn his chair around and take the hands of the sad-looking man behind him and pray for him. And of course a few people were standing in their rows facing the front, listening to the music, and some were singing along, but others just kind of listening, and little ones running about with happy smiles…
And suddenly it seemed to me like I was sitting in a quiet place, alone, like on a beach on a hot, quiet summer day without a breath of wind, like the world was holding its breath. And then a sudden breeze was arising from nowhere, and the leaves on the trees started rustling, and the air was becoming fresh and light, and there was a gentle feeling of joy and expectancy, like all of creation was happy. And as I looked about the church – God’s people – I could see Jesus walking about, and he was looking at the children playing, and the happy greetings, and the friendly chatter, and at some singing while others just stood quietly, and all the things that some people so often think should not be happening in a church service. And He was smiling and happy, walking among them, reaching out and touching the childrens heads, stopping to listen and watch and smile, moving, no, mingling, in the midst of His church. And He was pleased with His people! Because they were being His church and He was among them and in them! It was so beautiful!
And then someone spoke words of encouragement and affirmation… And the pastor gave a “freebie” – a word from God that was not “planned.” And I was hoping upon hope that more of this freedom in Jesus was coming.
So I was a bit disappointed when the planned “sermon” started. And I was, for a moment, distressed when I heard the words, “Let’s embrace this building that God has given us” – because God had just freed me from the whole building thing.
Yet just this moment the pastor added, “God has set you free… and God has need of you in His kingdom."
And I realized that Father has His own plans and purposes for each of us. For some it may be in this building and system, and for others it may be not in this building and system. Yet each of us are His church, His body. And He will use us for His kingdom and He will integrate us into His church, and into Him; into the relationship He has for us, His love, His wonderful plan for our lives, exactly the way we are. Though not leaving us the way we are but bringing us, holding our life, into the person He purposes for each of us. (Surprise! I’m writing just now what the pastor is preaching! So this “sermon” is part of God’s plan for me, today, too. And it is encouraging me, because I’m here just because this is where He wants me today, and I’m not worrying about one moment into the future but waiting with anticipation for wherever each moment, each step with Him, takes me.)
Thank You that You love us, Father! Thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice, for Your Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. Thank You that I am always in Your Presence, wherever Your plans and purposes take me in any moment of time.
God, I don’t think I’ll be here much longer in "this church." But whatever happens, I want only to be where You are, at the center of Your will, in total relationship with, and trust in You.
Tonight I went to the prayer time with people from church.
People prayed for forgiveness - for our church - for gossip, pride, speaking without love, jumping to conclusions, speaking in the flesh rather than in Your Spirit, being controlling, etc... all the things I have complained about, and, I see now, have myself been very guilt of doing. I AM sorry...
Someone prayed that You will send the church a wonderful worship team, and lots of people to help with Sunday School, and someone else prayed for a Youth Pastor and wife, and so on. And dear God, here I've been so happy to see the way You've been using all Your people to share, to participate, even if it isn't "fancy." But when those requests for leaders from outside were prayed, there was this kind of resounding "Amen!" from so many of the people there...
And then I heard Your very quiet voice - releasing me (finally). Not that this church is going in a wrong direction, but that You use a variety (wide variety!) of ways to build Your church and Your kingdom, and that You've just called me to a different way...
And I don't have to "worry about" this church anymore. You ARE in control, and they are Your people, and tonight's gathering was a breakthrough for me, and You have brought peace. But my time here (at least in the way of my past "involvement") is done.
And my "grandma" time is beginning!