Tag Archive | church

November Goals

I joined this Linky Party on my Marvi Marti blog as well.  Different set of goals but LOVE putting it all in writing and making myself a tad more accountable!

My November Spiritual Journey Goals

  1. Read my Bible daily!  Follow the Facebook group Romans study and do it, daily!
  2. Ladies Bible Study – go every Friday, no excuses!
  3. Church on Sunday mornings – no excuses. A cold? Great, sit alone and don’t breath on anyone but go!
  4. Prayer time, daily!
  5. Catch up on the home group reading – and GO to the home group night!
  6. Write at least 3 times a week on this blog page!
  7. Finish memorizing Psalm 103.
  8. Memorize Psalm 121.

There we go, good start!

God’s Amazing Timing

For weeks I’ve felt a tug at this prodigal heart to return to church.  And not just any church but the church family I knew and loved in the past. The one that has prayed for me and my ex husband since we walked away years ago. The same loving faith family that welcomed me back almost 2 years ago, before I ran away again.  That same family that once again welcomes me with open arms and tears, and prayers.  Oh how they have been praying and waiting for God to bring me back on track.  Thankfully they never seem to give up.

I had started a Kay Arthur study a few weeks back, Lord, Only You Can Change Me, and also started reading again the book Dan gave me last time, The Way Back To God, Psalm 51 by Clarence Sexton.  Awesome stuff, both of them.  I actually considered working through 3 of Kay’s studies, the other two are Lord, Heal My Hurts and Lord, Give Me A Heart For You but I’m one  woman with a limited amount of hours in a day.  24, just like you.  So I figured it best to stick to those and get in them in depth and take my time chewing on each lesson.  I’m so glad I did, it’s been life changing stuff all over again. These helped me to open my heart again to focus on my faith.

Wednesday evening I went to the midweek service, which was the home groups that meet once a month.  They are starting a new book, Walking Like Jesus Did; Studies In The Character Of Christ.  I also attended the  women’s bible study Friday, and they are just kicking off, this time in Unit 3 of a great study called Gospel Transformation.  

Interesting to me how many new things are starting just as I return.  And all are things I NEED more than I ever realized.  God’s timing is so perfect.

During the past few weeks I’ve really struggled with ME.  My “it’s all about ME” attitude, the idea that my world revolves around me and “if you don’t like it take a hike” line of thinking.  PRIDE much? Yes, I know.  And then my prayer of late, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”.  I heard that many times over in bible  study Friday, and it is nice to know that while I was away from being fed, my sisters in Christ all struggle daily with many of the same things I do.  When the ladies were doing a quick  review of the last unit and what had touched them in it and unit 1, something stuck out to me regarding the whole “ME” complex I have had.  Idolatry.

The book says, “An idol is anything we believe we need, apart from Jesus, to make us happy, satisfied, or fulfilled.  An idol arises when we desire something more than we desire Jesus; when we fear things rather than God; when we worship ourselves rather than Christ; when we put our trust in anything other than God; when we serve anything other than Jesus.”  The book provides some areas of fear, trust and desire that may be idols to us.  All I can say is wow.  SO many areas that I could check off either in a direct or indirect way.  It is suffice to say that ME has to get bumped aside.  I  know this, knew it weeks ago, and I have to do away with my self centered thinking.  But first comes the root of this ME idol.  That root would be pain.  The pain I still carry around and even cling too, of my divorce.  I am not so sure that I wanted to hurt, as that it is just familiar, like my teddy bear, so I can hold it.  Do I still feel I was wronged? Certainly. But what does it matter? It is done, over and I needed to let it go.  Forgiveness didn’t come easy, but in the past few weeks I truly was able to just let it go and accept the healing that comes from God and not anything of myself.

Before I made the journey back last week, I knew it was not about me anymore. It was about Christ and my walk with Him.  This time when I went it didn’t just feel like ‘home’, this time it felt like I had never left.  I realized at one point that I had to remind myself I had been away a long time, because it felt as if I had never left there and had just been there last week.  And while  kids have grown up and there are been changes to people, so much still felt the same, as if there had been no absence for me.  That was when I realized that I am right where I belong.  And as I sat there, taking it all in, wearing my Harley Davidson long sleeved, v-neck shirt and jeans, with my wild, bleached blond hair, I knew that I can still be me, who I am.  I don’t need to lose the person God created, that Marti is who she is because she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  God doesn’t want me to not be an individual, He wants me to be HIS individual.

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.

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

What Brought You Back?

I’ve been asked this a lot recently, especially by some of the younger adults, the ones I taught in Kids Club or assisted in the Jr./Sr. High Youth Group…What brought you back?  They didn’t really know much other than one day me and my family just up and left.  We turned in our membership certificates and walked away from our church family.  In the years that I’d been away, close to 6 years it would seem, much water has passed under the bridge.  That water was mostly dark and polluted, clouded with a lot of sin and sinful ways of life.

The better question would be, what kept me away?

In a word:  Pride (aka: self love)

Nothing but pride can really be to blame.  Sin took me away, pride held me there.  My heart, that most deceitful part of me, turned me from what I knew was sound and right, and took me on a long and twisted path through a very dark and godless place.

There were many reasons that we chose to leave our church family, but each boils down to one thing, ME.  Issues with the music (it was too slow for me, all those hymns, not upbeat enough or contemporary enough), the teaching (I felt unfed and uninterested) the people (hypocrits, gossips, unloving). I wasn’t living a Christ honoring life, there was a private, sinful side that was well hidden from everyone, that I entertained.  Sure I went where my spouse went, and I could easily point a finger in judgment and blame him, but then no one put a gun to my head either.  One can carry that whole submission to your spouse thing too far when it is used to cover your sin.  And for a while, when dissatisfied in that dark way of life, I inwardly tried to cover my sin with that.  At any time I could have walked away.  I blamed the music, people, teaching, ex..when in reality the problem was within me, my own sinful heart.

First…submission ends at sin’s door.  I have no problem being the godly wife that submits to the husband’s authority.  But when the leader/head of the wife begins down a wrong path, that is  right where the submission ends.  I was enticed by sin and once it was conceived in my heart it gave birth to a wretched way of life of my own chosing.  I should never have taken those first steps, which started with the mind with fantasy.  What is it about God’s people that when they fall, sins of a sexual nature are where we stumble?  Maybe because the most intimate display of love for each other is the one most used by the devil.  Once you destroy that fabric,  the physical bindings of the marriage, the rest will unravel.  Trust me on this, it is true. 

When I focused on MY likes and dislikes, rather than on the Lord,  I was no longer on solid ground, I was standing on sinking sand.  See, the worship service isn’t about me at all. It is about GOD, it is about WORSHIP.  Worship of the Lord, adoration and praise of my Savior, not about me.  I focused on ME, not Jesus.  My heart was in a wrong place outside of the church, already on a road to destruction.  I had  taken my eyes of Christ and put them on me.  He was no longer the object of my passion, I was.  Worshiping the Lord  through music  isn’t about the beat, how fast or how slow, how old or how contemporary….it is about the content of the words I’m singing to God.  Those words of the old hymns are timeless treasures.  But I was hung up on me and missed that.  YES there are many wonderful contemporary songs, but the point is not the music, it is the words I am singing, from the heart, that matter.

God’s word, no matter what passage, is right, holy and perfect.  But I wasn’t leading a life that sought His Word, I was seeking my own desires.  I began to find fault with the teaching, then the teacher, the elders, and the church family.  The further away I withdrew, the quieter that still, small voice of God  within grew, until I could no longer hear it at all.  I heard instead my own thoughts, desires, and followed myself.

There were times that the Lord sent a  gentle nudge my way to bring me back.  A brief light pierced the darkness but I shyed away. Light uncovers things and I certainly did not want anyone to see my sins, so I turned away and hid.  I knew in my heart of hearts that I was far from home, squandering the priceless gifts God had given me, but caught up in the sin it was hard to go back.  The further away I got, the more I sinned.  When at last I brushed off the last of that sinful way and turned around, pride got in the way for a while.  I was terrified of being judged.  I knew that many were aware of where I had been. 

I feared what others that might know would say, what people might think.  When I left I was married and  my spouse had  sat as chairman of the deacon board. We had been very active in the body of believers, and now I was divorced and smelled of the pig pen I had been living in, my sin.  Pride  wouldn’t allow me to take the steps to return.

Thankfully a dear friend (actually many) had prayed long and hard since the day we left.  This one dear friend was nearing the end, ready to give up and accept that perhaps I wasn’t meant to come back.  God was faithful to her, and the others, and when she was reaching the point, His divine  intervention allowed circumstances to roll into place and we reconnected.  The Lord used her and my favorite comfort food, to open the door and let the light shine inside my heart again.  Instead of hiding it, I confessed it.  And I listened to the wisdom of God, shared through this beautiful vessel of my long lost sister in Christ, and it grabbed hold.

2 days later I walked back into my former church.  I was very apprehensive and afraid of being judged.  Again,  pride got in there.  I have nothing to fear of the judgment of others, believers or not.  I have a judgement coming my way, we all do,  one I need to be concerned about, and that  was only a piece of what she had shared over dinner.  Nothing I wasn’t aware of, just nothing I was thinking about as I should have been.  The Father is gracious to His children, and as I entered those doors my heart and soul knew peace.  I felt  like the prodigal child come home.  There may have been those that stood in judgment that day, but I never saw them.  I instead saw open arms,  warm embraces, and no shortage of tears of joy that I was home again. 

I want so much to say to those young people who have slipped away, the ones whose parents I now worship with once more….swallow your pride, put to death the self, and please, come home again.