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Oops…

I meant to be at church yesterday, but I forgot that I had committed to working at Harvest Home Fair.

But that is okay, I’ll be there, leave me a place on the back pew where  I cannot distract anyone!

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What I Seek In A Church

I’m seeking a few things in a church that are musts.  Call me picky but I believe these are very important things.

Sinners – People who know that they are sinners, saved by grace, through nothing they did, it’s God’s gift, Christ’s work.  They are not holier than thou, looking down their nose with the “at least I never…” attitudes.  I am not seeking perfection in others, I’m seeking a body of believers that knows they fall short of the mark but know that because our Heavenly Father sees us through the blood of Christ, we are perfect.  Folks that don’t judge you, but grab you and give you a hand up back on the path, help brush you off, and wrap around you in love and support.

Bible – a church that teaches from it.  USES their bibles, applies the lessons right here where the rubber is meeting the road, but that the congregation members actually show up with their bible in hand and use it during services.  And that lessons are not based on a verse taken out of context but passages as a whole and some inductive study (associated passages) pulled together.  One verse sermons don’t cut it, I can prove Adam and Eve were blind if we are going to use a verse out of context (their eyes were opened blah blah blah).  I want to be with a congregation that can sit down, pull out their bibles and find those passages and discuss, apply, encourage and teach from God’s Word.  It’s fine to put it up on a screen for those that forgot, or don’t yet own a bible, but I don’t want to be where that is the only source of God’s Word being used by those listening is the words up on the screen and not in their laps.

Music – it can make or break worship.  I am all about music being joyful (make a joyful noise unto the Lord), rather than feeling I am sitting in a funeral.  Which, for my own way down the road, please make sure the music is upbeat! CELEBRATE my life don’t mourn it.  I love contemporary worship music, but I also love the hymns.  There is a lot of biblical truth in the hymns of old and they should not be forgotten but used each week along with more upbeat worship songs.

I have NO problem with a coffee bar or donut shop in the church building.  I love to see fellowship encouraged!  People actually sitting down talking and interacting with one another.  But I also want to see that the focus of that time together is a collective worship of the Lord, a time to be taught.

I don’t think I am asking too much.

This says it ALL as far as the music is concerned.

Understand…

I really intended for 2012 to be the year I went back to church.  I boxed up all of my excuses at the end of 2011.  Here we are 6 Sundays passed and I have yet to attend.  I had planned to return to my old church and try it again, but then I didn’t.  I let another person’s judgmental attitude toward me become my excuse.

It isn’t that I do not wish to be in a body each Sunday and worship the Lord.  I know that I’m not there for me, I am there for the teaching, for the time of worship and for the fellowship with other believers.  But it is hard when people judge you.  Even if you did in fact do some not so godly things, in fact out and out sinful ones.

It did not help to be in the midst of my “crazy time” after the divorce.  I thought I was all healed up emotionally and mentally and ready to face the world and start over.  I could not have been more incorrect.  Echos of “you are a nut case, everyone thinks so” rattling through my head.  I was not and am not a nut case.  But yes I did act crazy, it is what the divorcing people do, especially those that do not want to be getting divorced.

I never wanted that divorce, I believe that anyone who calls themselves a believer cannot possibly justify a divorce anymore than they will be able to justify gay marriage.  Yet those that are believers have a tendency to only apply God’s Word as a menu to fit themselves.

I had to come to terms with the failed marriage and the many very sinful ways of life my ex and I led and going to church only made that harder when others there were looking down their noses and judging me for things I was doing now.  I don’t need anyone questioning my walk.  I’m a sinner, saved by God’s grace, but I am very much in need of my Savior.  I was before I was saved, I was before I walked off the path, I was as I was off the path and I am as a prodigal child trying to make my way back on that path.  Don’t expect sinners to act like something other than what we are, sinners.  But rather than being quick to judge, slip off those holier than thou  shoes and walk  a while in mine.  Come talk to me, know where I have been, see what I saw, hear what I heard, then perhaps you will understand and not be so fast to judge but instead walk out the love of Christ to me when I need it most.

Thankfully, my Lord and Savior doesn’t call the perfect, the ones in those holy shoes…He calls the ones  who are sick and dying in their sin to come to Him.  And out of a pit of hell and sin my hand was up and searching from the darkness to find my way back from the wilderness.

I don’t know how a believer can stumble so far down to where I was for years, but I know that I’m not there anymore.  And that when temptation dances past me to return it makes me sick to my stomach.  I know I cannot go back.  For now, I sit in the middle of the path and hope and pray to find a body of believers that can look past the outside and understand that I come back, a prodigal, that can offer much in the  way of ministering to others that fell from the path and rolled down the hill into the swamps of sin.

I do not know where that came from, I saw it on someone’s Facebook or Pinterest, but it expresses how I feel.

I’ll be in church this weekend, somewhere.  I haven’t  made a decision but I will go and keep going until I find the place I can call home.

Blowing The Dust Off This Place

I have been negligent with this blog page, and for that I apologize.  I have neglected a lot of things really.

I stopped going to church after being judged a bit too much by people there.  I lost sight of the fact that they too are sinners and imperfect.  I got my feelings hurt and got all defensive and then just walked away.  I still pray, still try to be in the Word, but not in a church.  See, this was just so wrong on  my part. So, Sunday, being 1/1/2012…I am going back.  I’m not going to let it bother me when someone questions or judges me and my walk. The only one that matters is my Savior.  He knows my  heart, soul and mind, and I’m a detailed work in progress.  He and He alone knows the truth inside me.  Others will have to be patient as He works in me to make the changes that need to be made.

My journey back to God and church had been a difficult one for me.  My life path went places no one should ever go.

I also let hurts get to me.  I know now that I have a lot of unresolved pain still from my divorce, and that needs to be dealt with. Now.

I’ve started looking into DivorceCare groups in my area.  Meanwhile I’m getting the daily devotional email from them and I’ve bought Kay Arthur’s book, Lord Heal My Hurts.  I read it a long time ago but I needed a refresher.  The DivorceCare daily emails recommends it.  I love anything that woman writes so I’ll be starting that now.

This page is getting a make-over, I may even change the name.  Not sure yet what I will do.

2012 is ahead of me, and I am very excited.  I’ve put away the seeking for a relationship, I need to heal me, focus on me, grow me.  Heck FIND me.  I need to spend time on me and my walk, life etc, not on finding someone to fill my heart.  That void is best filled leading a godly life.

So, be patient while I rearrange, clean house, and get this page the way I want it for 2012.

In Christ,

Marti

My Candle Is Burning…

As I had promised, last  night I got back in the Word.  I pulled out my bible, my trusted companion for some 26 years or so now, full of highlights, notes etc., and opened to where my book mark last rested.  I had been on a quest to read through the book of Proverbs, and decided to just pick up right there where I left off.

Proverbs 3:1-13 was the passage.  I began reading, and noticed most of this passage is highlighted already, from past reads.  Some favorite verses are here in this text.  But this time, the Lord spoke to me through the words, in ways I’ve not experienced when reading it before.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
      And lean not on your own understanding;

Oh how I have been relying on ME, my own understanding.  Trying to figure out where I am going, what I am doing, trying to figure out life and what to do or not do.  All on my own, all without spending time in the Word and in prayer.  Not waiting on the Lord for direction and guidance but charging full steam ahead then wondering why things aren’t working out.  Dating and meeting men, hoping to find that one great guy that will share faith with me, and a life, but not asking for help in finding him.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
      And He shall direct[a] your paths.

When was the last time I acknowledged the Lord in my life, business, in my recreation…in anything?  Not just lip service but truly gave thanks to Him for all that I have and will have?

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
      Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

Oh the times I make decisions, not based on what I know I should do because of my faith and beliefs, but on what I selfishly wanted.  I do not fear the Lord when I do this, nor do I turn from evil and sin.  I’m not necessarily choosing to sin, but I do make the choice to do things that I know do not honor Him, nor are fitting for the daughter of the creator of the Universe.

Those verses jumped out at me, I’ve not been where I need to be, in His Word, in prayer, in church sitting on the sheep side next to Jane.

I’m busy seeking a godly man as a mate, getting my business with Avon up and running, instead of SEEKING the Lord first and knowing He will handle the rest.

I am so glad I spent the time there last night, in the Word, going over the passage, letting it speak to me.

Proverbs 3:1-13

New King James Version (NKJV)

1My son, do not forget my law,

But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
4 And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,[b]
And strength[c] to your bones.
9 Honor the LORD with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 3:6 Or make smooth or straight
  2. Proverbs 3:8 Literally navel, figurative of the body
  3. Proverbs 3:8 Literally drink or refreshment

Keep My Seat Warm…

Not  to worry, my dear sisters and brothers, I’ve not gone away again.  I’ve missed a number of Sundays but I’m okay, and I’ll be back.  Don’t stop praying, I’ve been struggling, but not with my faith.  My struggle  is  with me.

I  know where I belong, and know where I should turn when my heart and mind get all confused.  I’ve had too much on my plate, but nothing of substance  from the only food that  matters, God’s Word.  Yes, there is dust  building up a  bit on my bible again, but tonight I assure you all, I will have it cleaned off, in my hand and be in it again.  In fact I am seriously considering not going tonight to my district meeting and bingo for Avon, and  spending the time in quiet time.  One way or another, I will be  back on my knees again, and in the Word, tonight.  Someone feel free to hold me accountable there.

My time management has not been what it needs to be of late.  I’ve let all sense of structure vanish from my life and that includes my time at church.  But I am hungry, and I need to be there I know.  Call me, email me, text me…I need the encouragement, need to pull myself out of my funk and be there this Sunday.

Keep my seat warm…on the sheep side, right next to Jane…I’ll be there.

An Unruly Evil, Full Of Deadly Poison…

A true brother or sister in Christ is not going to tell you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear, and they will back it up with scripture.

Sunday night I was annoyed over the email sent to my Pastor.  Not the email it self, as Pastor Landis is no stranger to me, he has known me a LONG time so I’m fairly certain the fact that I am a sinner is  not a shock.  My annoyance was that someone who claims that their life  is better off without me, that what I do and say has no bearing on them, would  still be reading my blogs and Twitter feed.  If I am so insignifcant why read them?  Honestly having a cyberstalker is just a little creepy.  My dear friend, Jane,  put me back on track.  The  issue was not that this woman reads what I write, but that she found something written about her that was unkind, and not Christ like.  Or that she assumed it was about her, as no names were mentioned.  Didn’t matter who it was about, what I wrote was unnecessary for public viewing.  And furthermore it was not a thought that should be in my head anyway, as those in Christ take every thought captive to Him and think only on those things that are pure, just, holy etc.

PHILIPIANS 4:8

 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

What we as believers write, is every bit as important as what comes out of our mouths.  Just as anything we say can be over heard  and should be edifying and bring grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29), the written word doubtlessly should fall under this too.  The spirit or intent of the Word of God would apply to things I post on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and my blogs, not just what rolls off my tongue and out of my mouth.  Lord knows that this is likely my number one weakness in life.  The very gift I’ve been given with writing can also be a curse when used improperly.

Another close friend sends out devotions every morning to a group of people.  Today he sent the following passage, it certainly is timely:

James 3:5-10 (New King James Version)

5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

There is a reason this passage is highlighted in my bible, has been for years, it is my #1 weakness!

Ouch, point taken.  My tweets, 3 or 4 unkind little remarks, set off a fire storm between me and the former friend.  And what did it accomplish really? Nothing positive at all.

So who is to blame? Me! Which is why I apologized to her privately and pubically.

One of my readers made an excellent point on my other blog page today:

” it seems like you two just can’t seem to let go of each other – which means there’s unfinished business. If you had said everything you needed to say, when she crossed your mind – made a nasty comment-someone told you crap, you answer ‘who cares?’ because you’d know you’d said everything and there’s nothing new to tell her. Same for her. You two are locked into this because neither of you have spoken your peace (a thing that can’t be done in anger). I say write her a letter that gets out every single thing you ever wanted to say – b/c she was your friend and she obviously hurt you – and get it out of your system once and for all. Then promise yourself you aren’t going to speak her name, write her name, or respond to anything nasty she writes for 6 months. Get the devil out and lock the gate. Break the addiction. In 6 months, you’ll be over it and able to say ‘I’m not responding to anything about that/her at this point. I’m busy loving my life.’ “

Hmm.. guess it could be!  Not only do I not wish to do it in anger, I prefer to sit face to face and talk it out.  I believe there  is unfinished business.  Often the former friend used to say we were stronger together than apart.  At times we were oil and water, but it is my personal belief we complimented each others personalities quite well. And I have said in blogs last year that I do miss her friendship.

SO, since I’m certain that despite what she says, she IS in fact reading my blogs and tweets still, or has someone reading them for her, I extend  to her an olive branch if you will.  Once years ago things came between us and we were puppeted by others into these very corners on opposite sides of the ring duking it out in words.  She showed up at my door in tears with a plant and we talked it out and made up.  Why? Because she CARED.  And she can deny it until pigs fly, I believe that is exactly why she comes by to read and why things set her off, she still cares, as do I.   So here is the olive branch:

Come have coffee with me this week, Teresa.  Just you and me, on neutral turf, and lets get this out on the table and talk about it, face to face and then put it behind us. No others to influence us, no show to see, just you and me talking this out like adults and get to the bottom of what is causing all this turmoil.

The Refuge Coffee Bar

Thursday or Friday, 12:30pm, you pick the day, my treat.

Olive branch extended…..will you accept it?