Would Jesus go to my Church?

Sometimes I struggle with the differences between Jesus' ministry and church ministry today. I'm curious as Christians, aren't we supposed to be Christ-followers to mimic our Savior in every way possible. And Church is the body of Christ, so our rule book should be first and foremost the ministry of Christ? I think we have long been putting on twist on Church and Christianity. This is not the first generation in fact it has likely been going on since the beginning of the Church. We like to adapt things to us, to our comfort, to our needs. We want to be fulfilled and enjoy the church experience.

One of my favorite things about Jesus’ ministry was that he focused on twelve. Jesus spoke to the masses but he had twelve disciples whom He taught, served, worked alongside, broke bread with, traveled with etc. He poured himself and His love into only twelve. Jesus could have ministered to thousands every single day but He saw the value in close relationships. I think our pastors need to remind themselves of this sometimes, Jesus did speak to crowds and ministry to the masses but the majority of His energy was spent building into only twelve. This is one of the reasons why I struggle when people get lost in the crowd of big churches, in fact people get lost in the crowd of small churches too. We need to remember as the body that it is not the pastors’ job to minister to all of us, he has his twelve. This is where it is our responsibility to step up as the body of Christ and reach out to those in our churches and in our community.

What about how Jesus reached out, or how He held services. Never once did Jesus ask us to change anything about ourselves to come to Him. He meets us wherever we are. Where in the Bible does it say that worship is only through song and in Church we follow that with corporate prayers and then teaching? The bible doesn’t have a play by play of what Church should look like but we are able to look at how Jesus ministered. Are we ministering to people as He did? Are we reaching out the way He did? Many people struggle with conventional ways of “worship” the church was always put an emphasis on song, but what about those who don’t like singing at all. I love worshiping the Lord through song and it is the highlight of Church for me on many occasions but I am one person and God created us all so differently. He didn’t create one carbon copy of what a Christian should look like. Yet He created us all in His image, which means we are meant to be this way. He didn’t make mistakes. So those who worship better alone outside with just their Bible, or in a fishing boat with a good friend, or watching a sunset, or in a long drive through the Rockies, or riding a horse. They were created to worship this way and there is nothing wrong with that. God wants songs but He also wants our lives and I think those who can truly worship in everything they do have caught on to what God intends for our lives. 

So as a Church how do we cater to all these needs? First, we must acknowledge that it is okay for people to worship and learn in all different ways. This is how God created them and it is prideful for us to say that ‘our’ way is better or how God intended it. Second, what can we learn for Jesus? Jesus went unto the crowds, He walked with them, He talked with them, Jesus wasn’t afraid of getting His hands dirty. Jesus didn’t stand at the front of the synagogue and ask His followers to sing their praises to Him. Jesus was much more practical. He saw their need to learn so He taught. He saw they were blind, so He gave them sight. He saw they were hungry, so He fed them. Jesus met them exactly where they were and then addressed their most obvious needs. Is it meeting people where they are to expect them to come into our churches and worship and learn exactly as we do? No, it is our responsibility to go out and meet them exactly where they are. And our focus must not be to get them into our churches; our focus must be first and foremost showing them God’s love.

To wrap this entire blog post up I want to quickly share why I’m so excited about the direction and vision my Church is heading in. We are attempting to acknowledge that people learn and worship differently by creating as many different “worship environments” as the Lord allows. Currently there is a contemporary and a traditional, and in fall we are beginning and liturgical service. I’m excited to see where this all heads as a Church we acknowledge and support that we are all created different and that is exciting and what makes us the “body” of Christ. We aren’t all created the same and it’s about meeting people where they are, the way they worship and learn and ministering to them in that place. Not expecting people to be like us or to be at a certain place in their faith to participate in Church. Because let us all remember “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us...” No expectations to be a certain person, right where we were, He met us and gave His life for us. What a great God we serve!


Why do we as a society view so negatively people who are "shy?

Those labels are put upon kids no matter how young. How many times has this happened to you? You say Hi to a friends small toddler, the toddler looks away, or starts crying. "Oh she's just being shy, she's not usually like this." Or they look at the child, "Stop being silly and say Hi to the nice lady..." Barely two or three and they are being told that it is a bad thing to be shy. When adults talk about someone being "shy" listen to the tone in their voice. It is extremely rare that I hear someone talk about being shy as a good asset or something they want to be. No one wants to be quiet or uncomfortable, the awkward person in the circle of friends.

As an extrovert I admit that I spent most of my life not understanding "shy" people. Many times I have been the person negatively talking about those who are shy. I hope those people forgive me for my ignorance. I never knew the treasures that were buried in there. If only I had taken the time, and kept trying even if it wasn't easy. God created me an extrovert but that doesn't mean I should only socialize with others like me. It means he's given me the gift to be able to reach out to those who maybe don't love making conversation, to be the one to talk and ask the questions until that person may choose to trust me and open up.

Then I met this guy, and I happen to think he's pretty great. I took some time and got to know him. I feel honored that he chose to open up to me, that I'm the person he's himself around. One of the biggest learning experiences since I've been married to that man is watching him interact with others. Sometimes I want to beg people to not give up, to keep digging even though it might not be easy all the time. I have watched the payoff with my parents as Shaun is now himself around them, and they have been blessed to reap the benefit of a lot of months of effort.

So since I've been married to Shaun my eyes have really been opened to how the mind of an introvert works. I'm not speaking to all but this is how my husband functions. Unless he is comfortable around you (which would take a very long time so don't expect him to be in the first couple months) being with people is extremely draining. It takes all of an introverts effort and energy to put them self into a conversation. It is not that they do not want to be included or are trying to be rude but conversation doesn't come as naturally as it does to us extroverts. When he gets home from being out he is tired and talked out (something I can hardly comprehend.) My husband finds large crowds very intimidating, especially in a setting like church where we are known by so many people there is a lot of small talk. Sometimes it is more restful for him to stay home, and that is okay. Sometimes I go to events without my husband and we're okay with it that way. I also have grown to deeply love being home with just him and no longer feel the need to be out with friends all the time but have chosen instead to build into the relationships that matter in my life.

So I guess my message to extroverts is to keep trying. That shy person really does want to be your friend even if they don't express it the same way others would. And they are probably an amazing person underneath all that "shy"ness. It will be worth the wait and the effort. And try not to use the word shy in a bad way, they were created that way and that means God intended some people to be quiet and keep to themselves. And God doesn't make mistakes so there was intent in that decision. He knew the world needed people like my husband to balance everything out and to be full of special gifts and qualities. Be aware for your words can hurt people in ways you cannot imagine. And if you are a shy person I pray people will come into your life that will make the effort and also that you won't have shame or guilt for being shy. It is truly how you were created (born this way baby!) and it doesn't make you weird or not fun to be around!


Call Me Jacob

Wednesday I was blessed with some amazing one on one time with an amazing woman. During that time she shared with me an article, one I want to share with you today. It truly spoke directly to my heart during this season of my life. Sometimes, I blame God for how I feel. Why doesn`t He make me feel better. But then my life is not the worst there is out there, not by far. He doesn`t stop suffering in the world. He allows 19 year olds, days away from graduation to be killed in car accidents. Young girls at the peak of their lives are run over by trucks. He allows starvation and sickness. He has taken away parents from 147 million orphans. So today as I wrestle with these thoughts I will fight with God. I will give Him my anger and my hurt. For He knows how I feel, He understands better than anyone else.

You can find the article here.

Read it if you need some encouragement for your season in life.

...Finally, I wrestle with God. My existence is his fault. He said he loved me and I believed him. Now I strike him with my pain as hard as I dare, trying to reconcile his love with the fact of a world still broken. I stretch and strain in the darkness, trying to grasp some sense of his care, something to help me believe he is the father I so need him to be. His hushed holding of me as I struggle is a strangeness I almost cannot bear. I long to escape him, to finish this fight, yet I know that he is the cause, the opponent, the peace I need all in one. Every question, every strike is to and for him, no part of this darkness can be explained apart from his troublesome existence. The only thing I hope to win is the working of his hand. He is my opponent, and he is my prize. My enemy, and the lover I yearn for with all of my soul. Whatever shall I do?

If I follow Jacob’s story, then I will cling to God until I am blessed. I will clutch at his arms until he claims me as his own and gives me a name as his child. But I am afraid to end like Jacob, for the tale of his fight is a strange one, and the ending of it, more than I understand. Of course, God won. Jacob could not out-wrestle the one who made his own muscles, nor out-argue the one who gave him speech. God lamed Jacob in the end and perhaps the laming was mercy. For I think that Jacob might have struggled to death in his anger and fear. But Jacob clung even beyond that breaking, clung until God himself yielded a curious prize... - Sarah Clarkson

Lamentations 3:19-36

I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
   his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He's all I've got left.

 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The "worst" is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won't ever
   walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
   His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
   in throwing roadblocks in the way:

Stomping down hard
   on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
   in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
   the Master does not approve of such things.