We’ve struggled finding a new church.
We thought we’d found one but then the preacher did a whole sermon on how if you’re a Christian you won’t have any problems parenting, and it became clear the man had never parented a day in his life. His wife parented. He golfed and hung out with the menfolk.
We thought we found others but their ministers equated republican with Jesus and that’s the opposite of biblical.
So we quit searching.
There’s the truth of it. It hasn’t been a struggle at all. It’s been a willingness to drop the church part of our lives.
It’s not a good thing. We don’t have our people. We don’t have the mentors and friends to do life with. We don’t have the fellowship and worship community. We don’t have the comfort and knowledge of a church home. And every time we’ve looked for it we’ve found politics and division and fake Jesus.
I don’t think we need a church to have a direct connection to Jesus. But a church gives us a family in Christ, and that we do need. At least I do. Especially in this season that is so hard.
This weekend I swore we were going to check out a new church. One in a denomination that has been outspoken to the fact that the church is meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus not a political mouthpiece for either US political party.
We got up with plenty of time to go, but we paused. We thought. We talked about it and we watched Meet the Press and Face the Nation and then it was too late.
I looked at the church website and saw they had a live feed just like our old church back home. We decided to check it out.
It was different, a little slower than what we’re used to, but the message was exactly what I needed to hear.
I don’t know if this will be my church. There’s a contact form on the website. I kind of want to ask them questions about their thoughts on politics and the church before I go. Today I think I’ll go Sunday. Today it’s easy to think I’ll go Sunday.
My parents are ministers. My grandparents were ministers. I was raised in the church. And still, in my early 20s I wasn’t sure I believed in God. I’d definitely turned my back on organized religion.
I went to church with my parents sometimes, and I took my daughter to church sometimes, but I could have argued with the best of them about how the church was created for two reasons: money and the subjugation of women.
The lifestyle I lived could be classified as humanistic, I suppose. I was a “good” person. Enough said.
When an elderly customer invited my boyfriend to church one Sunday, I’m not sure why we went. Probably because they were expecting a new minister and the church was by the mall.
Whatever the reason, we went. And from the moment we walked through the doors, the church motto, “A Home for Every Heart” rang true. We weren’t judged. We were accepted. Everything changed.
My church made a point to minister to people with a world of hurt in their eyes. I think Letting Go started way back then. An idea I had to grow into.
So many people hurt today. And so often we forget the role of the church as my minister today says is to Love God, Love People. We get so caught up in life or work or what we need, we forget about others. I’m certainly guilty of that. Or we get so holy and full of our “rules” we think we’re better than others. I’ve been there, too.
Thankfully, God doesn’t expect perfection, but he did give us direction.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Today, I believe. I don’t clobber people upside the head with that belief. I don’t preach hellfire and brimstone. I don’t talk about the rules. I simply say God sent His son to die for our sins and He loves us unconditionally. He’s ALWAYS there, even when we don’t believe. ###
Find out more about my books on my Amazon author’s page. Letting Go by Mary Beth Lee available in kindle format and print.
***GUEST BLOGGER alert. Janet Brown will be guest blogging here tomorrow. Her story is so inspirational. Please stop by!
Posted in Family, thoughts, writing
Tagged Christian Fiction, Christianity, church, God, Indie Publishing, indiebook, Jesus, Letting Go, Mary Beth Lee, religion, self publishing, self-pub, writing
I was afraid when I went to church today that the service would be a huge 9-11 memorial.
Instead it was a service on balance and how we need balance in our finances to have balance in life, which was something I needed to refocus on.
At the end, though, our music minister did an amazing job with a one song reflection on the anniversary of the tragedy of 9-11. Or at least, that’s what I thought it was going to be.
It was a beautiful anthem about how we’re resilient and how we won’t bow to hate and how LOVE WINS.
I’m embracing that message and, hopefully, doing my part to share it. Because in the end, when you get to the core of the hurt and pain and anger and hate that’s out there in the world, LOVE does win, if you let it.
For the last several weeks college ministry has been using an amazing World Harvest curriculum to look at how when we grow in Christ, our awareness of what exactly it is He did for us on the cross grows at the same time as our awareness of our true selves. This week we talked about forgiveness, and how God gave us his forgiveness, but we sometimes have a problem accepting it.
Today, at small group, we studied an Andy Stanley message on forgiveness. It was powerful, and it presented the idea in a new light.
I know forgiveness is really about me. I know that holding on to resentments and angers and hurts holds me back. But Stanley says you should write down what it is you think you’re owed so you can get to the root of the anger. He stressed the anger, and that surprised me because I’ve always thought of it in terms of hurt.
But, he’s right. Ultimately the message is the same.
In the Old Testament, Abraham was on the verge of sacrificing his son for atonement. Thousands of years later God sacrificed His son to atone for my sins.
It’s amazing, really. And if I can’t forgive how can I expect to be forgiven?
Powerful lesson. One that led me to the realization that I have two characters in a book I’m revising that haven’t forgiven. They live in a world of anger and hurt and resentment, but not really. Because instead of facing their emotions, they’ve built these incredibly thick walls. By not facing the realities of the bad emotions, they’re missing the amazing blessing of the good emotions.
It was one of those a-ha moments.
I hope it helps my writing.
I submitted a partial to Love Inspired today. I enjoy the LI line, but this is something I’ve never seen there. It’s a Christian romance, though, so LI it is.There’s no taking the religion out of the book. The heroine’s life change is one of the driving forces of the story. Wish it well.
I’m also revising Prodigal. It made the agent rounds in the past, and I even got to the exclusive stage with one of the big agents out there, but it didn’t make the cut. I looking at it again, I see why (see a-ha moment above.).
I firmly believe God is in control. I don’t know if I would’ve seen the walls had I not been working so much with the college ministry, if I hadn’t spent hours listening to Frances Chan and Andy Stanley. Had we not been through the big, hurtful shakeup at the church.
Brian and I wouldn’t be involved in college ministry, something that has been life changing for us, had DD not gone to university in Huntsville. God is in control. And when we get off his path, He can even use our mistakes for His glory. Thank the Lord for that!
I’m going to hold fast to that knowledge as the cuts come down tomorrow. The news said up to 130 teachers and paraprofessionals will be cut this week. One of the teachers in my hall is moving to another campus next year because they’re letting a new teacher go. He got the news today. More teachers will get the news tomorrow. I’m praying for the teachers moving, for the ones losing their jobs, for the students, for everyone involved. Hopefully, I keep the knowledge that God’s in control forefront in my mind as the devastating effects of this budget cut become something more than rhetoric.
Posted in thoughts
Tagged books, emotions, forgiveness, God, Jesus, Letting Go, Love Inspired, politics, Prodigal, sacrifice, school, submission, teaching, writing
I have the Mrs. Lee’s 10 Rules for a successful life in my classroom. None of them are original. All of them are sort of mini-mottos for me.
Mrs. Lee’s Rules for Life Success
10. Remember, everyone is just as busy as you are.
9. You can’t fix a blank page.
8. Treat everyone like you want to be treated.
7. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
6. If you’re not having a good time, look at yourself first.
5. Do or do not, there is no try.
4. Don’t Freak Out!
3. If you think you’ll have time to do it later, you’re wrong. Do it Now!
2. Event + Reaction = Outcome ALWAYS!
1. If you commit to something, follow through, so be careful not to over-commit.
My other motto is something I like to teach about at church. It’s easy really, and I stole it from Frances Chan, who “stole” it from the bible: You Can’t Be Good Enough. Jesus died on the cross for us. He was broken for us. There is nothing we can DO to make up for that ultimate sacrifice. We must Be instead. If you ever get a chance watch Frances Chan’s series Is Jesus Really Enough on youtube. It is beyond amazing and not “preachy”.
When things get bad, when it seems like all hope is lost, when there’s no use in even contemplating your dream, or worse, life, remember this story my old pastor used to tell.
Think of Jesus on the cross. You think you’ve got it bad? Not even close to what he was going through. And think about his mother, watching, unable to do anything to help her son as he suffered.
I’ve watched my daughter suffering. I’ve cried with her, hurt with her and hated every minute of her pain because I couldn’t take it away.
That was Mary. At the foot of the cross that dark, horrible Friday afternoon.
But the key, the thing to remember is it’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming.