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Posts tagged ‘church’

Our God

Do you ever have one of those days where you wake up singing a song? This morning I woke with Our God by Chris Tomlin, literally coming out of my mouth. It was absolutely awesome. 

Finding a church in a new town has been difficult because I want something particular and I’m not finding it. I’m looking for great worship and community and I’m not finding it. I’m become hardened through this process and getting the motivation to go to church is difficult. I even feel like I’m losing part of myself. My faith is as strong as ever because I’m becoming a person who is immersed in God daily. 

Every morning I get up, get dressed and greet the sun coming up over the horizon. I get to see the sunrise on my way to work every day and I am awed at the beauty and glory of God. I pray on my way to work and I worship right along with K-LOVE. When inevitably some person cuts me off or does something idiotic, after my heart slows down, I thank God for giving me good brakes and making me an defensive driver. During the day I’ll thank God or pray for one of my co-workers or the individuals I work with. Then on the way home it’s more of God’s amazing creation. I love the city, but I am beginning to love rural Missouri as well. The open fields and glorious animals are awesome to see. There is a great Park on my drive and in Fall it was glorious, now it’s a little dead but I cannot wait to see what it looks like in spring. God greets me daily and I speak with him and marvel at his glory and beauty and we are close. 

But I still miss church. Sunday mornings I get up at a decent time and meet God in devotionals and Christian music. God still speaks to me but I know I’m missing out by worshiping in my apartment by myself and not in community with others. 

But I also feel like this is our time together to get me ready to go back out there and search for a church. God knows my heart is hardened and that I need this time to rejuvenate, so that when I go back out there my heart will be open to hear what and where God wants me. 

A few months back he gave one of his children a message for me, “there is someone, somewhere that is ready and waiting for your help. There is a church that needs you and is ready for your help.” I have to find this church, I know that but I also know that this isn’t the time, but that time is getting closer, because a month ago I didn’t remember this prophecy. But slowly God has been reminding me of my passion and making it evident that even though I have a job, I need to pursue my passion because God gave that to me. He is cultivating me to be the person that can help others, he’s getting me ready.

So even though I sometimes feel guilty, I know that right now, it’s okay. I’ll be back when I’m ready. For now I’m going to enjoy my time with Our God. 

I’m soon going to get back to my morning devotional but before I do, I wanted to share just a few lines from the song I woke up singing this morning. I hope you’ll see in it what I did, that this time I’m taking is important. If not I hope you’ll see a message for yourself. God often speaks to us through songs, books, and other people. I hope you have a great Sunday and that you spend a little time getting a little closer to God.

“Into the darkness you shine, out of the ashes we rise……And if our God is for us, who could ever stop us”

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Bah-humbug: How I feel about Church at Christmas

I love the Christmas season, it’s a time of hanging out, seeing family and my favorite playing board games! What I don’t love about Christmas is Christmas Hymns and Church services before Christmas. I cannot stand them, I cannot stand them so much that I actually skip church during the month of December and listen to old pod-casts and my Christian music favorites. Don’t worry, I feel guilty about this but I ask for God’s forgiveness and move on. I’ll be back in the New Year when sermons return to relate-able topics and move past the virgin, the inn, and the newborn babe. I just don’t know how churches stretch this for so long. Seriously?

I know I’m hard on Pastors and churches at this time of year, mainly because I’ve been in the church since before I came out of the womb and sitting in a pew for 32 years listening to the same boring music and the same sermons about the baby Jesus is a bit much for me. Can’t we move beyond it? I know I could try to get beyond my bah-humbug church feelings and show up on a Sunday morning ready to worship but the truth is, once that first hymn is sung after Thanksgiving it’s over for me. I’m annoyed and I bring that to the service. The only service I don’t mind singing Christmas music for is Christmas Eve. Until then I can handle the occasional Christmas song on the radio but once they play 2 in a row I’m onto the next station.

I know this is crazy and that Jesus had to be born this way so that he could die later that way. I get it. I know the theology, I know the Scripture stories. I can tell you everything you need to know about the baby Jesus and his parents and the angels that came and I can sing you every verse of the favorite hymns over and over again without looking at the words. I want something fresh at Christmas, not retired old sermons that I could repeat for you, year after year. I want something new, and since I know I’m not going to get that at church, this close to Christmas I stay at home and keep my bah-humbug ways to myself and listen to podcasts of previous sermons until Christmas Eve and then I am full on Christmas spirit and ready to hear all about the baby boy that saves us.

Until then, you’ll find me home on a Sunday morning listening to Christian music and old sermons. And trust me, you wouldn’t want me in your church during this time of year, I’m much more critical than any other time :).

Church Shopping: Week 1

Today I went to my first church in Sedalia. I wish that the first church I went to was the church I stuck with but the visit this morning has me doubting that will happen.

So instead of just telling you how it went or what I thought, I thought I would turn it into a Church Shopping  blog series. That way I can continue to update you as I continue to experience churches. Plus I thought this would help me turn disappointing churches into fun blogs to write. There’s nothing worse than sitting down and realizing within minutes that you don’t want to be there. Such an experience happened to me this morning but I said a little prayer and asked God to help me get through the service and out popped this idea for a blog series.

In this series I will name the church, and talk about particular points and ratings for each individual church.

The points will be

  • The welcoming atmosphere
  • Ease of which to follow
  • Age range and size of congregation in attendance
  • Music
  • Sermon
  • And over all feel

There might be bonus points that I go over as well but those could change week to week so there’s no point in bringing them up now.

The ratings will be on a scale of 1-5 (1 being they’re missing the mark, and 5 meaning they’re doing it just right). This is of course a subjective system and is only reliant upon my opinion.  You might be offended by my ratings and if so invite me back to you church and I’ll give it another try.

I decided this morning that each church will get 2 weeks to impress upon me it’s ways. I thought 1 week might be unfair because people have off weeks and so church’s might too because after-all they are made up of people.  Plus if like today’s church they have another service to attend I would like to give that a try. So with that said let’s get down to the first church in the series.

Broadway Presbyterian Church of Sedalia, MO

It must be said that I didn’t really like their website but this church is .6 miles from my apartment so I figured I could walk there on nice days. Today was a cold and windy day but I walked anyway. It was chilly but I made it and I got to see more of the town I now call home.

I went to the 10:30 service and I’m glad I did because their 8:30 service was not actually held today. This might be a good thing to put up on their website. If I had tried to go to that service this week I would have been disappointed.

Anyway, I walked in the church which was actually much harder to do than I thought. The front of the church had doors but they were all closed, probably because of the cold, so I just assumed I couldn’t go in that way. When I walked to the back none of the doors were clearly marked even though that is where there main parking is. I that once in the building it was clearly marked which way was to the sanctuary but I would have preferred a sign outside. My church back home has it clearly marked on the outside of the building which entrance is the main entrance. It is the one under the “Welcome Home” sign.

Let’s get to the points of discussion and rating.

  • Welcome 4. When I speak of “Welcome” I mean were the people welcoming. Yes they were. I had 3 separate people invite me to the after church coffee social that I didn’t want to attend. I had the same 3 people try to find out information about me and to invite me to go the weekly dinner (that I work too late for) and the weekly Women’s Bible Study. Which I thought was really great. The pastor even came up to me when Communion was being done (intinction style) and asked if I wanted him to serve me. But I’ll come back to the that in the bonus. Overall I found the church very welcoming so I gave them a 4.
  • Ease of which to follow 2. When I say, “ease of which to follow” what I mean is can I easily find the entrance, can I easily follow the music, is there an atmosphere in the service’s flow that makes me feel welcome? I have to say that they failed at this. They are a welcoming group but not being able to find the entrance to the church is kind of a big deal. The entrance I did find had me going in through the doors at the front of the sanctuary (ie stage area) so everyone that was already seated got to watch me walk to the back of the sanctuary where I wanted to sit. It was kinda creepy. The bulletin was also not easy to follow or understand so I was at the beginning stumbling quite a bit. And the hymns we sang no clear voice was leading it and the pace for at least the first one was off, so that by the end of the song people were ending on different words. It was so bad I stopped singing. Also when it was time to sing a hymn they gave you no time to find the hymn. I need at least a few seconds to find a hymn please.
  • Age range and size (there’s no rating for this I’ll just give you the range and size). The age range in general terms was 0-90. But that’s not taking into account that they have no 20 somethings, 5 30 somethings including me, and the rest of the congregation fits into the 50-90 range. So not a lot of people in my age range and those that were, were married couples with little kids. The 3 people I had conversations with were in the 60-80 range. Not that there’s anything wrong with an older congregation but let’s get real. I’m young and would like to hang out with people in my age range. Even at my previous church the people I hung out with met the 30-60 range. But there was a range. I need the range. I need people my age in attendance so that I can have a community that has range. The size of the congregation in attendance today was probably 50 people. It’s a small congregation but this is a small town so that is to be expected.
  • Music 3. The choir was good and the instruments that were played were good. But it’s not my style. Their earlier 8:30 service I have been told is contemporary so I will be checking that out next week. I like contemporary music and style because it’s easy to follow and I understand the words and can easily find meaning in the songs. Hymns for me are an older style that I cannot get into because I have to stop and read the words and then find out the meaning of the song. I know hardly any hymns and the way they were played today is definitely not my style. But like I said the choir did a good job and they deserve props for the music that they sang.
  • Sermon 4. I was actually quite surprised by the sermon. I mean the pastor is still wearing robes, and the music was so old I figured I was in for a real snooze fest but he was actually really relate-able and interesting. The sermon was all about being careful and thoughtful when you speak because we cannot take back our words. He told good stories and even though he spoke from the podium he did so without a manuscript which I thought was great. He also pulled out a guitar at the end of the service and played some of the songs with the organ. It was an interesting sound combination but I like that he tried to bring the service some contemporary pieces.
  • Overall Feel 3. I didn’t feel out of place in the service but I did at the beginning have to talk myself out of leaving or even leaving early. I had to convince myself that it would be worthwhile to stick around. I’m glad I stayed for the whole service. I’m not sure I would attend this particular service again but I look forward to giving their contemporary service another try next week.

Bonus: Communion. They had communion today by intinction (dipping the bread into the juice/wine), which with a smaller congregation you can get away with that. The deacons served the meal and then the pastor walked around serving it to the older members who were not able to go the front. Before the whole thing began the pastor mentioned he had a gluten free option which I thought was really cool. I was going to go up but when he came around I noticed that the gluten free option was on a plate right next to the bread! EEK! And that the gluten free option (rice cake) was going to be dipped into the same juice as those with bread! EEK! EEK! I politely declined knowing that God would understand that I’d rather not poison myself today. I thought it was cool that they offered the option but they obviously need some more education about gluten free and how to properly serve it.

Bonus: Cute kid. There was a little girl being baptized today and she screamed through out the whole thing. She even grabbed the pastor’s mic (wire on face) and tried to pull it off. She was cute but her brother was cuter. After the sermon her 3 year old brother kept saying, “All Done.” He said it so much I was beginning to think the same thing. This service should have been “all done” quite a while ago. It was super cute.

All in all it wasn’t too painful but I’m holding judgement until I see what their contemporary service is like.

For today their total score is: 16/25 64%

Sunday

I posted yesterday (Monday) about my move and how it’s going.

This past Sunday I chose not to go to church for two reasons: 1) I was worried about my car and 2) I was sick. My lovely sister helped me to move on Sunday and she gave me whatever sickness she had that day. This sickness has stuck with me but I’m taking lots of C and sleeping a lot and taking a decongestant in order to get over whatever this is, because my unemployment ends tomorrow. Yay!

Anyway, Sunday I didn’t go to church but I wanted to read some scripture so I would stay grounded for the day and the week.

See I know several things about myself: 1) I have a tendency to be independent in everything and go into myself, 2) if I don’t get to know people soon I will begin to think that I don’t need people, even though I know I need them. 3) I need to be in the Word to get through tough times, and what’s tougher than moving again.

So I picked up my Grandmother’s Bible and began the search for the piece of scripture I knew I needed. I was feeling off because of my encounter with my landlord (that is continuing to eat at me) and my car and this sickness that is hanging on a bit too long for my liking.

When my parents and sister left on Saturday, I was sad. I was sad to be left here alone but I knew God wanted me here. God wants me in this town, in this job for a reason and I am totally leaning on him to sustain me and to show me why here.

So I went looking for my favorite piece of scripture, my favorite piece that reminds me that God is my strength and that I can lean on him when I am troubled. The problem was, I wasn’t sure where it is.

I know what you’re thinking, “You went to Seminary, shouldn’t you know where all the verses are?” I know I should but I’ve never been someone who is awesome at memorization and I often find myself lost in the scriptures. I know where they exist and I know the general location but the actual location is lost on me.

So I knew Paul wrote my favorite verse but I wasn’t sure which book to begin in.  So I started in Philippians and luckily I was right.

My favorite verse is Phil 4:13. Once I found the verse I went seeking for my favorite translation. My Grandmother’s Bible is the New Living Translation but it’s not my fav: “For I can do everything  through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Then I went looking in the New International Version : “I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.” Again not my favorite.

Then I went looking in the New Revised Standard Version: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I know it doesn’t seem like a huge difference but I prefer this translation.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He gives me strength and because of that I can do whatever it is he wants me to do.

it was a good day. Today has been another day of rest with a scatchy throat but I’m hoping a restful evening will help me to feel better tomorrow.

The Third Day

My church recently finished a study by John Ortberg, Who is this Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. The last week of the study was to talk about Saturday of Holy Week. We often talk a lot about Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday but we often spend little time considering Silent Saturday.

We are so excited about the awesome news of Sunday that we bypass the sadness and anguish of Saturday. I thought this was really poignant in my own life right now. I’m in my Saturday and have been for quite a few months, 4 I think. I got a rejection letter this past week that literally excited me. They let me know how great my experience is and how awesome my resume was but they went with someone else. I was excited to recieve news even though the answer was a resounding, “no.” I’ve had silence and no news for 4 long months, so long that sometimes it feels like 5. I’ve read 47 books in that amount of time and watched too many TV series and knitted the beginnings of a lot of blankets. My Saturday is filled with moments of silence and moments of crying out and moments of fear. My Saturday is the Silent Saturday and all the anguish that goes a long with that.

Being fired was my Friday. My Saturday has been all this time of trying to find something and I am on my knees praying that my Sunday will come, that I will be lifted from the pain and be welcomed back into the work force.

We all have these times in our lives where something happens or the absence of something is our Friday-Sunday. Don’t dismiss the importance of your Saturday because Silent Saturday makes us even more excited for Resurrection Sunday.

What are you third day stories? Did your Sunday come quick or will it be a long hard battle to see your Sunday?

Comment below if you would like to share your third day stories with me.

Father’s Day for the Fatherless

I was reading a book today titled Fields of the Fatherless, I was hoping it would be an interesting read. I was hoping it would shed some light on the fatherless but it really didn’t provide me with anything I didn’t already know. It would be a good book for someone who is just beginning to understand that we should be compassionate to the fatherless.
I found this book to be filled with duh statements. One of the first I read was when the author said that he was visiting an orphanage and was surprised at how clingy the children at the orphanage were. This was a duh statement for me because it makes sense. When you go to Africa do not the starving children ask for food? So to do children without love ask for it. They demand it, because they know that they need it.

Tomorrow it will be Father’s day and I have been blessed with a great dad. I have a great relationship with him that has flourished over the years. My dad had to learn how to be a dad because his own dad was absent. How did he learn how to do that? Did he learn it from his mom? I don’t know how he learned to be a great dad, I just know that he is a great dad.

But I know loads of people that are fatherless. Their father may be absent. Their father may be dead. Their father may have abandoned them. Their father may be distant. Their father may be too broken to realize that they have alienated their children. So how do the fatherless celebrate Father’s Day?

I know some people who have estranged relationships with their fathers that will be calling to say hello. I know some people that won’t even make the call. I know some people that will be visiting graves or spending a few moments in silence, in remembrance of those who have died.

How do the fatherless celebrate Father’s Day? One of the churches that I went to in Pasadena suggested that those who were not Father’s should be celebrated because they were “spiritual fathers.” From my understanding, a spiritual father is someone who shepherds someone through their faith. They are a mentor and friend of sorts with the addition of making sure to point out when they feel that you are doing wrong.

So that takes care of the men who are not father’s but what about the children without father’s? Do we even consider them on this day? Do we even stop for a moment and think about how hard it is for them? About how hard it is for them to not have that special bond with someone?

They do not know, nor do they understand the story of the Prodigal Son. They do not know that joy that the father experienced. They do not understand how someone could love someone after they behaved so badly.

That’s what a father’s love is all about right? No matter how many times I mess up or get myself into trouble I know that my father loves me.

This is sometimes easiest to see on the faces of new dads. The look they have when looking down at their child is one of pure love and pure devotion and pure protection. They would do anything for their son or daughter. So when does this pure love, devotion and protection go away?

Are some men born without it? Do some men just ignore it? What happens? Where does the devotion go?

The fatherless are sad to me. We have always celebrated Father’s day in my house. I found it interesting because my father had an absent father and my mother’s dad died when she was young. Neither my mother or father had fathers when they were growing up and yet they worked hard to give their children what they never had.

We always go out to lunch on Father’s day and tomorrow will be no different. I’m already planning out my pain management for tomorrow so that I can be present to help celebrate Father’s Day with my dad but I know that many of my friends and loved ones won’t be celebrating anyone tomorrow.

And it breaks my heart.

So what can we do on Father’s Day for the Fatherless? A professor once told me to never make a challenge to a congregation or group of people that I wasn’t willing to do myself. So this challenge is not to you alone. It’s to me too.

What can we do for the Fatherless on Father’s Day? I’m not fatherless so I don’t have all the answers but here are some ideas I have been thinking about:

1. A few moments of silence to recognize the Fathers that aren’t with us.

2. Adoption. Take someone who is fatherless with you for the day. Adopt them into your family not only for Father’s Day but adopt them to become part of your family. If there is a divorced family in your church or community and you know that the father is never around then invite the kid over for Sunday dinners once a week or once a month and then on Father’s day include the mom and the kid in your celebrations. If there is an adult in your midst who has an absent father do the same. Invite him or her to become part of your family and nurture them.

3…What are your ideas? How can we help the Fatherless?

I know God is the father to all of us including the Fatherless but we all need earthly fathers as well. How can we help the fatherless not feel so fatherless?

God’s Faithfulness #4

It’s funny how difficult this process of thinking about how God is faithful has been. It’s a process of going through the difficult times in my life and trying to remember how God came through.

If you haven’t read #1, #2, and #3 be sure to check them out.

#4 happened last summer.

4. Internships at the last second. In my degree program I needed 2 internships and both internships were gifts.

My first internship I wrangled for myself. One of my good friends, Stacey, was on staff at a pretty cool church in the area. I visited the church a few times and I liked it. It wasn’t close to what I was used to in the Presbyterian church but I liked that. I liked how free it was.

I emailed the pastor on staff with a plan and asked him if he would let me come on as an intern. I had grand plans and was able to part of them. We met a few times before he finally gave me the go ahead and then at my first staff meeting the pastor, the only pastor, mentioned that he was leaving.

I felt completely screwed. I mean you have to have a supervisor for an internship and he was going to be leaving halfway into the 1st quarter of a 3 quarter internship. But I wasn’t as screwed as I thought.

He had me get a woman pastor that would mentor me and I found someone that was willing to work with me. So she was already a go and I talked to Field Ed and they said as long as someone at the church would be my supervisor I would be good to go.

The church wanted to help me. They saw me as screwed but stepped up to help me out. Megan stepped forward and I met with her once every couple of weeks and she mentored me along with my supervisor off site.

The church and God stepped up to help me out. God was faithful in that situation and I was able to meet with two amazing women and learn about how to have a group and I developed good skills I will take with me.

My second internship was with Gwen, my supervisor off site for my 1st internship. She was amazing. I asked the first church if I could do my internship there but they had vision I could not see and let me go. I felt screwed but I have come to see it as a blessing. They mentored me as much as they possibly could but Gwen and her church could offer me so much more.

Gwen offered me an offer I could not refuse:  9 months internship and the opportunity to do ministry in a church that already had a healing language and program.

I learned so much in both of my internships and I got them both as I felt the hammer was dropping on me. So today my question to God is: am I low enough? Have I suffered enough that you will now save me? Or is there more pain to come?

God teaches us lessons and he saves us in his own time but I just wonder how much more the house has to burn down, the water has to fill the car, and the lightening has to strike?

I’m being overly dramatic, I do realize that. I’m just wondering how much more muck there will be to walk through before he rescues me.

I’m trying to remember the point of all of this: to remember times when God has been faithful. God has been faithful in my past and I need to stop focusing on how hard it was and instead focus on how he came through. That is the point of all of this.

It’s been a rough day. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier. Until then I’ll try to hold on to the memory of when he was faithful: Internships at the last second, Food on the table, Surgery when needed, and God held my heart until I could.

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