mere chruchianity . chapter fifteen

also posting on chapter 15 is glynn young at faith fiction friends.
fatha frank has posted on chapter 14 thumbing it in on his mobile.

~~~~~~~

every time i take up this book, i can’t help but think of the writer.  i only visited his blog site a couple of times.  so i was not familiar with his writing or who he was.  after reading his book, i have a small idea of who he was and i feel a small connection.

the ideas and questions that he presents, in this book, have probably always been issues, played-out in different arenas with different people in different times.  however, as we live our lives now, it is something that we deal with now.  it is about each of us and our faith being lived, as we are living.  not in the past or in the future, but as we live right now.  living it as we are alone or as we are with others.  in the chapter de jour, m. spencer brings up the subjects of “solitude and relationship” in our living in faith.

the beginning of this chapter coincides with our life now, as he talks about a thanksgiving day just as we are coming upon another thanksgiving day this week.  he and his wife ate their dinner at a place called banquet table buffet, unhappy about not being with their families.  they saw that many people were there having dinner alone.  he remembered thinking that their faces seemed to be lined with pain and rejection.

after that, michael says that there are times that people like to be alone, and that it is good to have a certain amount of time alone.  for some it can be a time that they have felt closest to God.

i agree that time alone is necessary and best when we can choose the when and the why. however, it can also produce more dependence on God when we are walking in a time of rejection from things and people that are in our lives.  but, even in these hard times, it is such a gift to receive a little bit of encouragement from someone.  and perhaps God sends us just enough encouragement, at the right time for His purposes.

i also figure that we get different support, at different times and from different people.  since not everyone is the same, and each person, being unique, and knowing only certain parts of your life, can only support you in so many ways.  so it’s no use being angry that a one person or group does not meet our needs, even though it can be really hurtful when we see them meeting other people’s needs.

as michael says in the book, some people are just not able to relate to things that you or i might be going through.  he talked a bit about when his wife joined the roman catholic church, both of them with their ministry background in the southern baptist church.  she in the new church was welcomed and doing well, while he was confused, with no support from anyone at the time, and even dealing with the feelings from awkward and even rude statements from people in his church.  he felt alone.  though, eventually there was one fellow that did speak words of support and comforting encouragement to him.

these kinds of experiences, when met in the arena of a church group causes all sorts of reactions in people.  and usually ends up changing the way each person sees their faith.

michael then goes on to talk about individuality.

the sacred individuality of the chosen aloneness of solitude and finding one’s own spiritual path.  it is part of our life, this time to realize that the base of our faith is our own choice of belief and our personal one on one with God.

i admit that groups can get carried away with the programs and expectations and power struggles, etc.  we all know what we might do alone and what we might do in a group.  there is good and bad to any situation. that…is what we should be looking out for…alone, in a group, anything, anytime, anywhere….realize that there is both the good and the bad.

michael has other things to say in this chapter.  but, this post is getting quite lengthy.

all in all, our faith is a challenge to live.  it is not just saying the words that we believe, but we must be aware that we engage our faith and belief from the inside out,  using our heart,  and becoming aware of the changes being made in our heart.  we engage this faith and belief in every aspect of our life, with everyone, in every place, all of the time.

we can’t really compare groups, or being alone with being in a group, or certain types of people.  because faith takes place in all of it.  we do not get separated from our faith no matter who, what, when or how.  but, i would suggest that it is good to keep that base, face to face with God going on, and to keep an open heart even when it hurts.

life lines

on tuesday, i read a post by bj moore at shrinking the camel, called you can’t compete with grace. it hit me like a brick wall, which is just what i needed actually.  i was having a hard time letting go of something. and this “letting go” was driving me off the deep end.  i knew i would have to deal with the feelings somehow, because , like bradly wrote “the cognitive dissonance was killing me.”the fight was between what i wanted, even felt i needed, and what i knew was right and aligned with my beliefs.  and within, it was truly killing me.

then i read these lines in the post…

“How can anyone compete with Grace?”
“For me, when you break it all down, Grace means simply this: I am going to be okay.”
“Why surrender to God’s infinite Love when I can just as easily go down a stink-hole of obsessive insecurity all by myself?”
“…one thing I do know: don’t ever try to compete with grace, because it could eat you for lunch, if it wanted to.”
~

after reading the whole article i realized that i was trying to compete with the Grace of God.  i was trying with all my might to let this go on my own, and it kept coming back on me…over and over again.  i wasn’t letting God’s Grace do it’s work.

by thinking of God’s Grace and Love, i was able to say “i’m going to be okay.”

it was like a life line in my hand, as i was sinking in a dark restless sea.

by the Grace of God, i am going to be okay.
that is what God’s Grace allows us to say.
you can hold on to that.
~

drink your milk

when i was small, i was taught how to thank people that had
done something good for me.  if someone gave me a gift, i was
told to thank them.  we said a prayer at the dinner table in the
evening to bless the food, and when a child did not want to eat
the liver or the lima beans we were told to be thankful for the
food on our plate, because kids in china were starving.
that was a new one…thankful for lima beans?  crazy talk.

well, eventually i got the idea of how to be polite, and the lessons
started to take root in my heart.  sometimes i really meant it
when i said thank you.  not about the lima beans, but, other
things that i liked better.  some of the big things, like snow on a
school day, or for a barbie doll for my birthday.

but now, gratefulness doesn’t seem quite so simple.  there’s more to
it than being thankful for good things.  like Love, gratefulness has
a way of working on the heart.  possibly about the time that humility
starts to be part of mix.  and it gets into the heart and just does a real
bang up job for a few, twenty-thirty, years or so.  God can whip
up quite the concoctions for the heart, added with it some living
and a bit of experience of heartbreak and loss, it goes to work,
slow but steady.  eventually the idea about being grateful to God,
for um well i would have to say for everything, starts to take effect.
for good things as well as the not so good things, for the large and the
small things…and yes, i suppose even for lima beans.

~

check out the one word carnival, the word being gratefulness this
time around.  write, post, and link up at the blog of bridget chumbley.

in sin, my life

i am a sinner.
i could say that i can’t help myself.
it is true that i can’t change the fact that i’m a sinner.
yet, i know that i can choose to believe in Christ Jesus.
but even in belief, i am still a sinner.
and i wonder how belief makes a difference to a sinner like me.
just as before i believed, i want to do good, but, i also want to please myself.
how can i want to do good, when my passion is to please myself?
i think it’s probably because any good that i want to do, is also that which pleases me,
or makes me feel good about myself.
i want to be accepted by people and thought of as a good person.
i know that i am a sinner at heart, but, i want to think that i am not.
i want to do enough good so that most of the wrong is something i don’t think too much about.
maybe if i keep it small enough to sweep under the rug i won’t have to look at it.
and i won’t have to show it to anyone else.
i don’t want other people to see my sinful passions and greed.
i don’t want them to see that mountain under the rug.
and i really don’t like to think about the fact that God can see everything.
i like to use the handy excuse that there are other people much worse than me.
oh yes, there are other people doing terrible things.
i can compare myself to others and think i am better, or think i am worse.
as good as i can try to be or as good  as i try to think that i am, i can not be truly good.
i am not better,
i am not worse,
i am not good.
i am a sinner.
i do have passions, greed, and sinful thoughts.
i think about such things,
i know that i act on such things
and that i am capable of doing better and worse.
and somehow,
in all of this
i realize
that my only hope
is Jesus.
in His Spirit
and in His truth.
to turn to Him
and continue to turn to Him.
to look to Him
in my brokenness.
to try and live a life of following,
of turning again and again to Him.
humbly coming before my God as i am.
asking to be led by and changed by the Spirit.
asking for His help to forgive as i have been forgiven.
asking for His help to Love with His Love.
asking for His will to be done.
asking for His daily bread.
because i know
that i am a sinner.