Comings and Goings

I don’t usually read or watch the news, but every once in a while, something grabs my attention. An online article by Chris Sonksen was one such article today. It was both challenging and encouraging at the same time. Like most people, I have observed people coming, going, returning to my church, depending on reasons sometimes openly and loudly announced, sometimes just quietly and gradually withdrawing. Some simply disappear, others leave in a flurry of discord and disharmony. It has puzzled me since I was drawn back to church in my forties.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic church – in the time when if you lived in the parish you stayed in that church, period – and attended willingly until I returned home after college, and began attending the parish church in which I had grown up. I know the exact reason I left – a priest who interrupted another priest’s mass in order to collect more money. To interrupt what was supposed to be a celebration of God to collect money for air-conditioning didn’t seem correct. That’s the last time I attended a Sunday service, until , as I mentioned , my mid-forties.

When I started attending church again, it began when a friend invited me to her church. Turns out it wasn’t a Catholic church, but a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled, pentacostal church. As I renewed my relationship with Jesus, I felt at home and settled. That is, until I met and married my late husband! He was not comfortable with the worship style at my church, and felt more at home in his. After a great deal of drama and tears (all mine, I’m afraid!), we ended up at his church – a Bible-believing Baptist church. Hindsight shows me that God was the one who orchestrated those circumstances and changes. He had a plan for me, both in ministry and daily living.

But this was a church in transistion. The minister who had pastored the church fo over 25 years had retired, the interim pastor would have made a good pentacostal pastor, and the newly-hired pastor was trying to fit in. People hated the change, left in droves, and left chaos in their wake. So much so that the state association sent in a regional pastor to address the congregational issues and an interim pastor whose special calling was developing healiung and reconciliation.

But again, people “didn’t like him” and left. Again. Three long years later and a new pastor is called. But “I don’t like…” raises its ugly head again. What don’t they like? The worship music, or the new service times, or the new worship team, or the youth leader, or, or,or! You get the picture. Personal preference, not Christ, is becoming their doctrine. What I like is mor important than what Jesus teaches.

I could easily have decided to leave after my husband passed. It was hard and painful to be in church every Sunday, and seeing the place where his casket had sat, to hear the songs he loved to hear and sing, to see the people who loved him as they missed his presence. BUT GOD NEVER SAID “Leave. Go somewhere else.” He never gave me permission to seek a new church home. Someday He may, but until that time, any reason I might come up with for leaving would be all about me, and not about Christ and what He wants from my life.

So I challenge you. If you are thinking about leaving the church where God has you, ask yourself, “Who am I trying to please with this decision? Myself or God?” “What is motivating my desire to leave – my preference and feelings, or the Word of God?” If the answer to either question involves the word “I'” then get into some serious prayer and seek out what God wants and not what you want.

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WWW Wednesdays

I found this very cool idea (at least for us bibliophiles!) on a blog I follow, JessCombs.com

“WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words. … Don’t know what it is or how to participate… All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog!”

So I think I’ll join in! I think these are the questions from July 11.

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

  •   . Persuasion   tale
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen. Again  .
  • The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovatt

What did I recently finish?

whales  Mystery

  • Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson
  • Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams

What do you think you’ll read next?

Paperback    Chapman

  • Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams
  • The Heart of a Hero by Janet Chapman

 

#books #Readinglists

Pharisees and Me

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 ESV

How can my righteousness surpass that of people who made it their sole occupation to meticulously follow every command of God Almighty (as well as the thousands of other ‘laws’ they themselves created)? The simple answer is, It can’t. Not my righteousness. Only the righteousness that I am gifted by Jesus, when I accepted and acknowledged that He – who lived a perfect life, pleasing God, died to pay for every sin, and rose again to offer eternal life – paid my debt and is the only one who can restore my right relationship with a holy God.

It is not my ‘righteousness’ that God the Father sees when He looks at me, but it is that of His Son, Jesus. Praise the Lord for that, because I am totally incapable if doing anything that would please God, or get me to heaven. It is only the completed work and person of Jesus that can achieve that. That does not mean I fo everything right, ir that I never screw up. It only means that, WHEN I do, if I acknowledge that I have sinned (again) and turn away from that sin (again), then God promises to forgive me (again).

It is only when I refuse either to trust in the redemption that Jesus offers, or stubbornly won’t acknowledge my sins and wanderings that I become like the Pharisees – hard headed, hard hearted, and totally lost! May that never be! Lord, grant that I may always be willing to humbly yet boldly come to your throne of grace in repentance, seeking to be restored to your loving embrace once more!

On Prayer- by Oswald Chambers

Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work. We think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for God’s work. In the teaching of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me which produces the miracle of redemption in others by the power of God.

We can choke God’s word with a yawn; we can hinder the time that should be spent with God by remembering we have other things to do. “I haven’t time.” Of course you have not time! Take time, strangle some other interests and make time to realize that the center of power in your life is the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Reflection Questions: Do I consider prayer a means to an end or an end in itself? Which should it be?

Quotations taken from My Utmost for His Highest and Our Brilliant Heritage, © Discovery House Publishers