Posts from the ‘thoughts’ Category

Thoughts

I haven’t touched my blog in so long, now that I have found facebook and other ways to waste my time.  But I need to get out some thoughts and writing in my journal takes a lot longer than typing.  So, here I am.

I love Jesus.  I don’t love church and I certainly don’t love religion.  But I do love the person of Jesus.  He is my Saviour.  The One who has saved me from my sin, has set me free from myself, to love and to be loved.  I know there are a lot of opinions about Jesus.  But no one can tell me that my relationship with him isn’t real or that he hasn’t changed my life, because he has.

With that said, I often struggle in my daily walk with him.  I am told that I should spend time with him daily, both in scripture and in prayer.  In the Bible, Jesus talks about things like abiding in him and remaining in him.  I long for this.  In my limited, finite mind, I think that if someone says she loves someone, that someone would be a priority.  If my husband says he loves me passionately, but never makes an effort to get to know me more or even spend time with me, it’s ambiguous.  Shouldn’t the same principle apply to my Lord?  I ask and answer the question myself:  yes.  If that is the case, why is it that I struggle so much to abide with him and spend time with him each day?  I can repent of laziness, neglect, lack of discipline, etc.  But none of this means anything if I don’t do something about it.

I know that my “daily devotion” doesn’t have to look a certain way.  Jesus didn’t spell out a formula for this.  But without a formula, I tend to be lost.  I cannot cook without a recipe.  Just ask my husband.  I need someone to tell me what to do.  I suppose in regard to my spiritual life, that someone should be the Holy Spirit.  He is my counselor and guide.  But it still seems all so ethereal at times.  I don’t want to super-spiritualize anything.  I want to keep it simple.  But sometimes it feels so difficult to connect with God.

Like I said, I do love Jesus.  I love him very much.  Why is this so difficult?  

I’m not really asking for anyone’s comments, if someone happens to read this.  Like I said, I’m blogging pretty much for myself right now.

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Fighting Back

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, emphasis added

Last week, I wrote about my struggle to live the life I claim to want to live.  Yesterday, I went to church and listened to a sermon that challenged me.  (I often wonder, does my pastor have a live feed to my house?) My church is starting a new series called, “Spring Training,” and it’s just what I need.  Let’s get back to the basics of the faith.  With this being the first Sunday of the series, the pastor focused on I Corinthians 9:24-27 and the issue of discipline.

These were just a few of the things I wrote in my journal.  (fyi – I sometimes write things to myself during sermons.  Thought I should explain that.  The pastor didn’t quite word things the way I have written them, but you’ll get the idea.)

  • Are you running for the prize?
  • Don’t think you can be undisciplined and achieve all that God has for your life.  You must respond to His initiation.
  • Desire –> Discipline –> Delight
  •  Discipline is positioning yourself before God to receive grace.
  • Grace is not just the love, pleasure, and favor of God for an undeserving people.  It is also the power of God to do the will of God and a safeguard to keep us from losing our life to anything but God.
  • I don’t trust myself to not be deceived.  Therefore, I discipline myself to keep myself in God.
  • Will you respond to God’s initiation?  Are you willing to fight and be proactive or will you continue to live passively?

Discipline.  It’s an area of my life that is lacking and effects everything.  My relationship with the Lord, my marriage, the state of my home, etc. is directly impacted by my discipline or lack thereof.  Recently, it’s been lacking.  And I have felt its effects.  So this week, I’m fighting back.  I want to evaluate specific areas of my life, put myself before God and commit myself to change.  At this point, I’m not exactly sure what this will look like, but that’s a part of the process. 

Since I started blogging a few months ago, I have noticed how little time it seems I have to get things accomplished.  I go to bed later.  My house is a little more cluttered.  I’m not reading as much.  I haven’t spent as much quality time with my husband in the evenings.  I have made some bad choices on how to use my time, and something has to give.  At least for now.  Therefore, as a part of my Fighting Back Week, I’m going to take a break from the blog.  And, more painfully, from Google Reader.  (Yikes!) 

Why am I telling you all this?  One, to keep myself accountable.  I figure if I put this out there for all to see, I’ll be more likely to do what I say I’m going to do.  (Kat, ask me about it!)  And two, so you won’t wonder where I’ve gone and never come back.  Because I know all 20 of you will be asking yourselves, “Hmm, I wonder where MC has gone.  Perhaps she has stopped blogging.  I guess I’ll unsubscribe to her blog and leave forever.  So long, Milk in the Closet!”  Nooooooo!  Come back!  I’m just taking a blog fast to get back on my feet.

I know you’ll be waiting on pins and needles for my return, but fear not, dear friends.  Return I shall.  Have a blessed week.  See you next Monday!

Struggle

As I sit at my computer, I struggle to put in words what I feel.  Please hang with me as I sort through my thoughts. 

It has been over a month since the Uganda trip for Compassion International.  I remember being moved to tears reading some of the blog posts about beautiful children living in horrid conditions and orphaned children with nothing but the help that others provided.  I was so touched that we decided to sponsor another child with Compassion. 

But now that I’m not reading about these kids every day, I struggle. 

I struggle with apathy.
I struggle with materialism.
I struggle with discontentment.
I struggle to remember the needs of others.
I struggle to live the selfless life that Christ has called us to live.

I feel a great sadness in my heart because I know how I want to live and yet, I am not fully living it.  As I read the New Testament, I find myself more and more feeling like I would be one of the people Jesus would have called a “white washed tomb.”  People who know me would never dream of my struggles.  I am the typical American christian.  I go to church.  I am kind to the people at the grocery store.  I pray.  I tithe.  (Okay, that may not be typical.) I don’t cuss.  I don’t lie.  I stay away “bad” movies. 

But isn’t there more? 

Christ said He came to give us not just life, but abundant life.  I want it.  I don’t want to settle for anything less.  I am tired of living a “good” life because I don’t think that’s all that Jesus died for.  He did not die on a cross and raise from the dead just for me to live a “safe” life.  He did not die and raise again for me to live out the “American dream.” 

I am currently reading a book by Will and Lisa Samson called Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live.  Do not read this book unless you want to be challenged.  I plan to blog more about the book at a later time, but here is a blurb to let you in on what I’m experiencing. 

Most of us, at different levels of awareness, understand this [safe] nature about the suburbs.  The burbs are safe, but they are safe at the price of keeping out questions of need, questions of poverty, questions of insufficiency.  In fact, they are designed to maintain an illusion of a particular life, the American dream, where no one is needy, where there is a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage…Who wants to witness suffering, poverty, or need?  Yet for those who are followers if Jesus, suffering is bound up in the story by which we live.

More later.

He Has Risen!

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“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!'”

~Luke 24:1-6

He rose from the dead,
and now I am forgiven.

He rose from the dead,
and now I am loved.

He rose from the dead,
and now I know peace.

He rose from the dead,
and now I know joy.

He rose from the dead,
and now I am accepted.

He rose from the dead,
and now I am healed.

He rose from the dead, 
and now I am free.

The Dilemma of the “Mega-Church” ~ Part III

I suppose I should sum this up.

I have been thinking about this all week and have read some really interesting posts here and, in light of the Uganda blogger trip, here.  You can find tons of discussion about the church everywhere in the blogosphere.  But here’s my conclusion.

It’s all about Jesus.  Or rather, it should be all about Jesus.

I don’t necessarily want to focus so much on the church we visited and what I wrote about in my last post about this subject.  I’m sure there are really great things going on there.  The children’s wing was awesome and I think it’s FABULOUS that they offer valet parking for single moms.  But let’s keep the main thing the main thing.  It’s about having a relationship with Jesus Christ and living a life of obedience to Him.  Whether you have a church the size of a small city or you have a church that could fit in my living room, if people are being taught and discipled to have a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ, then who am I to say you are doing it the wrong way?  While I may disagree with having an “entertainment” mentality and the way in which financial resources are spent, I understand why some churches are the way they are.  And while there are flaws in all churches everywhere, that doesn’t mean they aren’t being led of God.   A wise friend told me just this week – there really is no formula.  But there is the Holy Spirit.  If a church is being led of the Holy Spirit, I have to trust that His work is being done. 

But that’s what bothered me so much about the megachurch I visited.  The worship was loud, the video announcements were a turn-off to me, and the whole production feel of the service was definately not my thing.   But really, the thing that stood out the most in my mind is that I don’t remember hearing the name of Jesus said more than once.  My spirit grieved.  I’m sure they have the name of Christ in their mission statement, but I didn’t hear it much on Sunday morning.

One thing I didn’t mention about this church we visited is that they are currently doing a series called, “Think-Be-Do.”  The premise is that before we can live the life we want to live, we must think it first.  This positive thinking then transforms our lives so that we become that person and then, consequently, the actions follow.  This is my understanding of the message based on my one visit.  While I  realize I have not heard the entire series, just based on what I heard, this sounds extremely humanistic.  Where is Jesus?  I may not agree with the way some churches do things, but I could overlook a lot if people were coming to Christ each week and it was obvious He was the center of life at the church.

My understanding of the mandate given by Jesus was not to just preach about godliness, postive thinking, and good, moral living.  He is the only way to the Father.  Not my good life.  Not my good thoughts.  Not my nice smile and friendly manner.  I am, of course, not advocating living immoral lives.  What I’m saying is that I have an uncle who lives a more godly life than some Christians I know, but he does not have a relationship with Jesus.  Is he saved?  I don’t think so, at least not yet.  Moral living apart from a relationship with Christ is just that.  Moral living. 

By definition, I go to what would be considered a megachurch.   We have approximately 2,000 in attendance on a typical Sunday.  But I’ve never thought of my church as a megachurch.  This experience has made me appreciate my pastor and church leadership in a new way.  I sing on the worship team and, consequently, have a somewhat different perspective of what happens on a Sunday morning.  We do have what’s called a production order that spells out what will happen in each service.  But I know that, at any time, our pastor, worship leader, and other church staffers would be willing to scrap it all if the Holy Spirit said otherwise.  And He has.  And they have submitted to His leading.  No matter what our pastor preaches about, it seems to always come down to the person of Jesus.  There is an opportunity at every service to commit your life to Christ and almost every Sunday, people come into the Kingdom of Light.  It makes me tear up just thinking of that.  People coming to know Christ every week.  While I know our church is not perfect and has it’s own set of flaws, I can appreciate that the leadership is humble and submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  They are committed to keeping Christ center.  Because, contrary to the lyrics of a popular children’s song, Jesus is what it’s all about.

I truly don’t want to come off as being judgemental.  That’s not my heart, at all.  I’m just trying to sort through this experience myself.  This is a rather hot topic and I’m interested to know what people think.  Comments?  Thoughts? 

The Dilemma of the “Mega-Church” ~ Part II

Last Sunday, I was out of town and visited, what I would term, a megachurch.  I’ll do my best to describe the experience while maintaining a certain level of anonymity for everyone’s sake.  This is going to be lengthy, but I want to give it justice, so hang with me.

The Experience
We drove into the parking lot and were immediately directed to a parking spot by multiple attendants wearing bright orange vests waving matching flags.  When we approached the church building, people with big smiles greeted us, shook our hands, and opened the door for us.  Inside, the lobby was elaborately but nicely decorated.  A coffee bar was serving drinks (for a fee) and a model of their next building project sat in a glass case in the middle of the hallway. 

We must have looked like visitors because almost as soon as we stepped into the sanctuary, a really friendly woman came up to us to help us find a seat.  Because we were a large group and because I was carrying a toddler, she ushered us to the “family section” and we chatted briefly about who-knows-what.  The family section was on the side of the sanctuary and the rows seemed to have a lot more space between them than the rest of the seating.  I realized I was out of diapers and asked if she knew if I could borrow one from the nursery.  She walked with me to the children’s hallway and then to the two-year-old room and asked the worker if they could spare a diaper. 

The hallway was happily decorated in a garden theme with large murals of grass and flowers with giant bug characters everywhere.  I thanked them for the diaper and she walked with me back to my seat.  On the way, she asked if this was my first time visiting.  I told her it was and she enthusiastically told me how glad she was that we were there.  It came up that we were actually from out of town and she asked if we were moving there.  When I told her we were not, she jokingly asked, “Why not?  We want you here!” 

When we got back to the sanctuary, she handed me a card that had information about the children’s ministries at the church.  On the other side of the card, it had the protocol for the family section, including instructions to immediately remove your child from the service if he or she was fussing or cooing at all.  It stated that even the quietest cooing could be a distraction to others and to not be offended if the ushers assisted you out of the sanctuary during the service.

Worship.  Let me see if I can describe this accurately.  There was a stage with a black curtain that was drawn once the music began.  The worship leader was in the middle with his guitar, multiple other singers on each side of him.  At the back of the stage was…well, it looked like a castle set from a medieval times play or something.  There were two balconies probably 15-20 feet up.  The bass player was on one balcony and the electric guitar player was on the other.  In the middle of the set was a balcony that must have been rigged on some type of hydraulic elevator or something that allowed it to move up and down.  On this was the drum kit, drummer and all.  Let me say this again.  The drummer played on an elevator that went up and down during worship.  Are you picturing this?

Worship was LOUD.  At one point, my husband tried to tell me something and had to yell in my ear for me to hear him.  I would say they played about 3-4 songs.  Two giant screens posted words to the songs, as well as camera shots of the worship leaders.  They must have had multiple cameras because the screen was constantly changing angles. 

Greeting. 

Welcome to visitors.  The emcee said the typical “we’re so glad you’re here” thing and then led the congregation in a reading from the screens.  There were about 5-6 statements that the people read in unison to the visitors.  The emcee directed our attention to the bulletin where we were instructed to fill out the card and drop it off at the visitor’s booth in the lobby on the way out.  We would be given a VIP valet parking pass for the next time we visited.  Apparently, single moms, elderly and disabled can have valet parking every Sunday.

Offering.

Curtain closed.

Announcements.  Announcements were done via video.  House lights were off.  The two giant video screens showed a myriad of announcements that were somewhat professionally done.  They were, I kid you not, at least 5-10 minutes long. 

Message.  The curtain opened.  Music began to play.  Doors opened from the “castle” and out came the preacher, accompanied by bright lights and whisps of smoke from a smoke machine.  He was greeted by a standing ovation from a portion of the congregation.  The message was something about David and Goliath and the trials that we face in life.  But honestly, I’m not sure what all was said because our Little One was starting to make noise.  I took her out to the lobby.

Apparently, the lobby is the overflow room.  It was then that I noticed small flat-screen televisions all around the lobby (and even in the bathroom) that showed what was going on in the sanctuary.  I walked my little girl to the children’s hallway, so as to not disturb the viewers in the lobby.

When the service was over, we left the building, doors propped open by the same friendly greeters and were directed out of the parking lot.

to be continued…

The Dilemma of the “Mega-Church” ~ Part I

modern_church.jpg

I recently visited what I would call a “mega-church” and plan to write a post about the experience soon.   But before I do, I’m curious to know what other people think of when they hear the term.

Mega-church.

What comes to mind?  Any thoughts?

  • FYI – It seems that when I first publish a post, the “comment” link does not show up initially.  If you are interested in commenting, click on the title.  If I’m doing something wrong, someone please tell me.