Posts Tagged With: church

Calling?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe empty page taunts me again, the bane of every writer. Beginning, especially when you don’t know where you’re going to go is a daunting task, but I’ve promised myself to try and write a post per week again. So, I’ll brave this ever-decreasing white space. I’ll try and fill it with something meaningful.

The pastor talked this Sunday about work and calling and vocation. (Did you know the Latin root word for “vocation” actually means calling? Me neither). In Sunday School we talked with the visiting college students about majors and minors and roommates and college life. Afterwards my sister found a fellow graduated-at-16, homeschooler going into the chemistry field and chatted for ages. For me it’s almost always easy to pick out the former or current homeschooler in a group. But that’s a rabbit trail if I’ve ever heard one.

“Calling.” I’m not sure if I believe in that word so much as most do. I’ve been admonished from little up to know or find my calling. To pray and “Don’t go to college unless you know what you want for sure.” The pastor said to not get good grades and go to college and get a good job without finding your calling. He said find your calling “And then get good grades and go to college and get a good job.”, which struck me as laughable. God doesn’t call everyone to college, and, I get the feeling that God’s definition of “a good job” would be far different than society’s. But what do I know of holy? What do I know of what God wants, for my life, let alone for yours? Not much. Next to nothing.

I don’t get precise direction like most people seem to. They graduate high school and “God called me to this school.”, and then to this mission field or that job. I got my current job because I was job hunting and it was offered to me. Could that be God’s direction? I think yes. I didn’t pray before accepting it, I don’t know that I’ll know when I am called to leave it. I only know that I do life messily; I make it up as I go along. Is that so wrong?

I have dreams of saving up enough to take at least a year off of work and going adventuring. To meet people, and travel places, and take offers I currently have to refuse because I’m working. You want a companion to bike with you to the Grand Canyon? Yes. There is an opportunity to sail for four weeks on The Flagship Niagra? Yes, I’d love to do that. Let me be a wayfarer and join the WWOOFERs for 6 months. Let me buy a cheap round ticket to another country. Let me meet new people and live frugally, but well. Granted, my roots are deep in this country, in this state, this county, this place. I plan to return. Maybe I’ll never muster up the gumption or the money to leave for a while. But I can dream, right? The pastor said that only 60% of the population is working like that’s a bad thing. Jesus didn’t start his intended job, what he was called to, until he was 30. Somehow (and maybe I’m biased), I don’t think he’d mind so much if I took a year off to explore the wonderful planet and the wonderful people that my God has created. But I’m not ordained, and I don’t always feel his spirit. What do I know of God’s elusive will?

Sometimes I think I’m a broken record, that I write about the same things here too often to be at all compelling or interesting to read. I suppose I’ll apologize…but maybe not. This is my life. Coherency is overrated. I still repeat less than some Bible passages. This blog is supposed to be about God and I, and too often with Him I get rut stuck or go in circles. Life in transition isn’t glamorous or interesting. I had always thought that your late teens and twenties were meant to be the prime of your life. Maybe I’m not living that to it’s full potential? I don’t know. I don’t feel like I know much of anything these days. On that note, it’s time to wrap this post up. The page is not so blank anymore, and hopefully the words that fill it are at least somewhat meaningful, not only to me but also to others. Hopefully they struck a chord. Tell me, did they?

 

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Categories: My Life, rants | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fulfilled

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARereading  books, revisiting truths I knew but have somehow lost grip of along the way, beginning to slowly let go of  places that have grown me so much these last years,  rediscovering hope…these are the things I’ve been doing lately.  Each of these have contributed to this one thing: today I feel fulfilled. I know that I am where God wants me for now. I’m relishing the pleasures God has given  me currently and trying to keep perspective on hurt and disappointments in relation to eternity. I’m growing.

Last time I mentioned books here I was asked for specific titles. This time I will share without prompting, as these books contain much of the truth that I’ve been reveling in, and have helped me to rediscover hope. The list is as follows: An Anthology of Madness, The Case for Faith, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, and The Slumber of Christianity. I’ll add here another new discovery of mine–The BASIC Series, by Francis Chan, and then stop listing materials before I sound like an ad. Many times I’ve felt that we bury truth, as I stated in my poem. We make truth hard to get by trying to make it updated, safe, or pretty. Truth is rarely safe or conventionally beautiful, so we quickly lose meaning in tampering with it. It’s been refreshing and exciting to re-read non-buried truths, the basics we often skirt around because we hold them to be self evident. Depth is especially important to me since I met the people. They despise all that is counterfeit, shallow, or too easy to swallow, so it’s doubly important not to manipulate Jesus’ message to appear to be that.  Meaninglessness is actually much less attractive than meaning. Shouldn’t that be self evident too?

I thank God that I am still living among the simple, complex people in the people place for the moment, despite the fact that I am coming to grips with letting go of it in the near future. The people make me happy. They, more than anything else currently, are pushing me to know God more. Did you know God can use the unsaved to inspire growth as much as or more than the church? He is great, isn’t He? I’m hoping not to have to release these people entirely by utilizing technology and the connections it helps us to retain, but it will still be hard to leave. Despite connections nothing will ever be the same. There will be a lot of letting go soon–several new places to embrace. I’m ready, though. I’m as ready as I can possibly get for the changes. Change can be good, it can be exciting. I wonder who God will place me with in the future, even as I try to represent Him where I am as best I can today.

My life is but a vapor in light of eternity. Still, it feels good to be fulfilled. It feels right to be immersed in truth, and growth, and change for the moment. That is not to say that everything is perfect; I have struggles now as always. I cannot escape humaness any more than any other mortal, but seeing the so called “breath of Heaven” is worth living for. Foretastes of glory here are precious. Moments of peace and satisfaction are to be cherished as whisperings of  The Kingdom. So I am embracing this moment, and sharing it. Maybe it will encourage you. There will be better days. As P.O.D. says “It can’t rain forever.”  As the Bible says (Deut. 4:29) “Seek God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart.”

Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

The Horrible Judged

I would be judged by my good friends if they ever met my (often self-proclaimed) bad friends. I would be judged as I  already am by the few where my two circles of acquaintances OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAoverlap. But, if it came down to it and I was forced to choose I would pick my bad friends over my good friends, mostly because they are real. They are real in that they can laugh at themselves, they don’t dance around elephants in rooms (I can talk to them about anything without being awkward), and they don’t judge me. They let me be who I am, and even though they may not come out and say it I know that they care. In a very real way they are my second family.

Sometimes in church I feel guilty for not evangelizing more, but my bad friends know where I stand. They know where I stand, and they respect it. I do the same for them. It’s funny, I feel guilty in church, and not with my “second family”; I feel more comfortable with the perverts and partiers than with the stained glass crowd. My “brothers and sisters in Christ” are less like siblings to me than the un-enlightened. I struggle with this contradiction. I wonder if I should feel guilty about my choice of bad over ‘good’, sinners over saints, real over masked or not. Jesus hung out with the ragamuffins and cursed the Pharisees. Right?

It’s not that I don’t love my Christian friends; it’s just that I identify with them less. It’s not that I hate the church; it’s just that I fit there less.  I say a hearty amen to what Francis Chan says in this video: “The church is neither super nor natural.” I empathize with the ex-gangster he quotes in this book who when contrasting the church to the gang says “You see, in gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week–we were family.”

I crave community. I crave fellowship. I’ve tried to carve that out of the church. For years I’ve tried. I’ve been here long enough to know the inside jokes and laugh on cue, long enough to know some of the flaws people hide behind their greeting time smiles, long enough to know the pet peeves of the pastor and the Sunday school teachers. I can respond correctly to the once a year Easter greeting, but it so many ways I don’t really know the people. I met another wonderfully horrible friend about five weeks ago and I would already count him among my ten best friends. Judge that as you will.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to get stuck on writing about my problems with the church, or beat them to death because (a) I really do love her despite her many flaws, and (b) if I just write about the church I’m being as bad as the people I’m frustrated with. After all, we need to be the solution, not just talk on forever about the problem. Despite all that, I’ve written about the church’s lack of community this week. Call me a hypocrite. Call me horrible. I’ll probably agree.

Categories: My Life, Ponderings, rants | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Discontent

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome things I know, like my feelings about humanity. Things like that are easy to express, but other things defy me when I attempt to wrangle them into words. Like if I tried to tell you where I am on the journey now I don’t know If I could do it. I’m looking forward and behind. I’m reading a lot of God’s word, but I don’t feel like I’m ingesting a lot. I’m disagreeing with many nice Christian people that I respect. At least, I’m disagreeing in my head; it doesn’t always reach my lips. Worse, I’m agreeing with people that they would consider bad role models or worse. Prayer right now is interesting. I think how far I’ve come from years ago, and I’m not sure I like the change. Mostly, right now I am discontent.

I wrote Sunday: If passivity is bad in schools isn’t it also bad in the church? Wouldn’t we accomplish more and grow more by getting together and reaching people with mercy in the real world than just talking about doing things? Wouldn’t we grow more conversing and praying together about or specific, individual circumstances than having a pastor speak and pray in generalizations? There are people to reach! Shouldn’t we be working in the best way possible instead of clinging to tradition or our own sakes?

If we are truly Jesus followers we shouldn’t be afraid of radical. We shouldn’t be afraid of exposing ourselves to the sinners on the streets–Jesus wasn’t. Jesus was more averse to hypocritical, religious tradition, so shouldn’t we be too?We play at a perfect facade that alienates people. It’s easier to play perfect in passivity. If we have to interact beyond greeting time then it’s harder to hide our brokenness, so why don’t we interact beyond that three minutes? Our brokenness is what unites us with God and each other. We I need to escape the facade. 

I because it’s easy to judge the nice Christian people, and harder to escape the theater. I because I’m tired of being comfortable, but scared of the future and what it might hold. because I blend in a crowd pretty well right now, and part of me isn’t okay with that fact. I’m discontent, but not quite ready to move, I guess. I desperately want to move, but the longer I wait the less I feel like changing. I’m not sure if I even know how to escape. Quitting life’s demands isn’t the answer, but neither is acquiring more  time-eating activities. Quitting my church isn’t the answer just now either because the people there need to see truth too, and I am working towards that goal. Passively sitting for sermons isn’t the answer, but what church doesn’t do that? I probably don’t have to option to stop, and if I did I don’t know where I’d go.

Well, that’s my best attempt at defining now. What’s yours? Where are you now? Have you been where I am? Do you have any advice?

Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life, rants | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ministry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMinistry is such a multifaceted , mysterious word. Maybe it shouldn’t be. Because, when you’re doing it – when you’re over your head, surrounded by children who need to know Jesus – it doesn’t seem that complicated. Just love them like Jesus. To minister you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have it all together, you don’t have to be thoroughly versed in the theology of Christianity. You just have to care. That’s what I learned last week. Vacation Bible School changed my perspective… again.

Every year it changes my perspective. Every year I learn and unlearn things during that one precious week of ministry. I learn that ministry is never one-sided; both sides grow and learn through it. I learn the diversity of the gifts of my church family. I never expected to see one of the elders in an eighties hair wig and fake mustache surrounded by five and six year olds pretending to be sheep. Never.

Vacation Bible School, ministry: two subjects too often put in boxes by me and (I suspect) the rest of the world. Two things that grow my faith. I fear that I have failed to capture them here. I fear that the things I’ve learned are even now, only a week after, beginning to fade from my mind. So I will leave you with  a  piece written in the thick of things. One day that I week I managed to steal a few moments and write…

Jesus loves the children. The children love innocently, wholeheartedly not yet fully corrupted by the world’s ways. They love simply, truly, and wholly. When they fall they fall hard.

I love the children too, but probably for more selfish reasons. I love to see them smile and say my name as they rush over for a hug. I love the big eyed “Can I sit with you?” and how sitting involves leaning in close for a constant side squeeze. I love the feel of little hands in mine, and I love the brief connections of smiles. There is that moment of success with the difficult ones that is worth more than words can say. There are giggles and beautiful grinning faces.

Jesus says to be like the children. Even when they throw a tantrum they return to equilibrium shortly.They trust wholly, and they don’t worry about their futures.

There are so many things I love about the children- many attributes to be mimicked and taken note of. There are many moments to be celebrated and many lessons to be learned. But the thing I love to do most with the children, and the thing that I’ve been blessed by most this week, that is to hear the children pray earnestly, honestly, and simply. They pray with young voices to their Creator and Savior Jesus Christ.

So there you have it. God is working in me and in the children. God works through imperfect people. God uses ministry to effect not just the children’s hearts and minds, but the teachers’  too. That is what I learned and experienced last week.

Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Which I Think

I thought today, walking down my driveway in bare feet and observing the violet butterfly which flitted around my ankles, how good I have it. We talked about that in class today, we threesome. J. Said that things were better now that his Mom remarried. All he has to worry about now is his real Dad doing something stupid and destroying the family name. Before, he said he had watched his Dad  hold a gun in his mouth, finger on the trigger. I said he had it bad, but he denied it.  I know he has friends who have seen worse. D. Said he had it bad, but J. and I disagreed. I know D. struggles with depression, but I also know that his life is like mine-easy. Caring Christian parents, and a loving household are things easily taken for granted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I thought today while hanging up shirts on the clothesline how we have it all wrong. So many of the emerging Christian teachers want to teach at Christian schools, but that’s  not where  most of the hurting are. Most of those who hurt the worst can’t be found at Christian schools for lack of religion or money. We say we want to  be able to make a difference, but we’re going to the wrong places. We send undercover missionaries to other countries, why not here? There are many more stories like J’.s.

I thought today, bringing in a full laundry basket and enjoying the sun’s warmth of what a friend of mine mentioned that his pastor said on Sunday.  “Our problem today is that we don’t read the Bible.” I tend to disagree. You can read the Bible and still be apathetic. You can read the Bible and keep it to yourself, within your Christian school for instance. Our problem is that we don’t know how to share God with a world resigned- a world that, in many ways, isn’t even seeking. Our problem is that we’re not even reaching our own youth, let alone the world.

I think today, reclining on my bed as I write these words out longhand, that whatever I do, whatever my future holds (which is  a matter I’ve been pondering a lot lately) that I want to reach those ones: the lost, needy, and ever running. They hide under a facade. Often times they’re the funnest and funniest kids in school. But they’re hurting. They hide in music, words, and laughter. They never allow silence long enough for reality to creep in. they’re far from perfect- often judged “the bad kids” –  but they need God just as much as me and you.

Categories: Ponderings | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

The Body in Action

We call the church the body of Christ; do we even come close to living up to that name? Really? I realized last week how tired I am of hearing “That’s too bad.” or “Someone should help them.” in response to tragedies and hard situations. I’m tired of hearing those words everywhere, but especially within the church. Somehow, I just can’t imagine those words coming out of Jesus lips. I can’t see Jesus passing by, or using prayer as an excuse not to do more. But it is not my place to pick the sawdust out of everyone else’s eyes before taking the log out of my own. I’m just as guilty of that as anyone else. I try not to settle for apathy, but that doesn’t mean that I always succeed when tested…

Power walking down the hall, heading for the door that would lead me to my bus I spotted a blond head out of the corner of my eye. I heard her sobbing, and I saw the tears. This was a girl I had casually chatted with on a couple of occasions, her head down as she wept, sitting on the wooden bench by the door. I knew I should stop. I can’t tell you how, but I just knew. Some other girls, presumably her friends were coming up behind me, talking at her from a distance. I slowed my pace, just another gawker who would walk on the other side of the way.  Just another person who knew who her neighbor was, but was unwilling to help. I reasoned myself out of it. If you stop you won’t be able to reach your bus on time. It isn’t a short story, the one she has to tell. Besides, you don’t know her. Her friends will know how to help her better. And with the swish of a door her problems were out of my life excepting a quick prayer which did little to ease my conscience.

Would that have been Jesus response? I’ll answer that question with a resounding no. Jesus came to help the hurting, and to bring them release from their sins. Yet how often is that my own response, or the response of the supposed ‘body of Christ’? More often than we would like to admit, I’m sure. We like to think of the fatherless as those across the sea. We like to categorize those widows Jesus talked about as out of our sphere of influence. Often we will put our money where our mouth is, but ourselves? Do we work to bring the kingdom down to earth? Do we suffer as  if we were actually those we are in prison? Rarely.

I discovered this last week how utterly fulfilling it is to put our bodies where our mouths are. To get dirty, and to be used by God in the life of others is an amazing experience. But more importantly I discovered that there is still hope for the body of Christ. We are imperfect, and we mess up, but when God put an apparent need for more than prayer in the path of our churches journey many rose to meet it. How helpful were we actually? I don’t know, but I know we tried. It was encouraging to see the church becoming Jesus hands and feet, it was thrilling to watch vehicles continually pull up into that driveway. Representatives from a couple of churches, and all walks of life showed up because that prayer request on the computer screen needed to be met. Sometimes God calls us to pray and sometimes God calls us to be answers to prayer. The church may be defective, but satan has far from entirely won the battle, and so when the special music for Sunday was How Beautiful is the Body of Christ I was able to agree with a wholehearted yes. All is not lost, and though the body may be very marred and broken, the right heart still beats beneath that exterior: the heart of God, and that’s what really counts

Categories: Ponderings | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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