I had a great experience tonight as I was walking into the store to pick up some necessities. As I parked my car and walked in this woman was coming out of her car. She said to me, "Are you the one with the K-love sticker on your car?". K-love is a Christian radio staion I listen to and I placed the sticker on my car so that others may be curious, dial in, and hear the message of Jesus through the music. I answered "Yes!" and she began to tell me how her husband and daughter convinced her to listen and how her daughter knows and sings all the songs. We laughed and I said my boys do too and she was surprised to hear that. We shared and agreed that it was wonderful to have positive music on all the time and it had changed our daily lives for the better.
As we parted company I thought about how good that conversation between her and I felt and how to anyone onlooking it would appear we were close friends. Then it struck me that this is how it should be when believers come together. We are one body, a family, we are going to live together in eternity one day and the joy of knowing Jesus is something we all share in common and can relate to. Her and I may have been from very different walks of life, but we both know what a difference having Jesus in our lives has made.
However, I've always struggled with church. Church as in a building where people go and worship and fellowship. Over the past 2 years my family and I attended a church where at first we felt welcomed and I involved myself in some ministries and I know God placed me there for a reason, but over time things began to feel uneasy in my heart. There were a number of occaisions the pastor's sermon upset me and not in a convicting way, but in a fearful and non biblical way. There were rumors beginning about certain women gossiping and slandering others in the church. It became hard to break through and make friendships with people who had "filled their friend card" so to speak. The first event I ever went to an assistant pastors wife commended me on sitting in a different seat each Sunday. They had gotten that comfortable that I was the example of what the senior pastor was instructing his congregation to do and I just did it because no one invited me to sit with them.
This wasn't what Paul had written in the bible about what the church was supposed to look like. We are supposed to welcome strangers and friends alike into our homes to eat and worship with us, we are to give and share freely of the things we have so everyone has enough, we are to serve others before ourselves and that does not happen when we live in our comfy little bubble in the first row three seats in every sunday comfortably belting out worship songs we could sing backwards and forwards. We run the risk of becoming complacent, judgemental, prideful, and worse of all, ineffective in sharing and showing the love of Christ.
I think often about finding a church where I can serve Christ and call the people family, but I feel like God is asking me to be out of that element for now. I spend everyday learning and worshiping God and I have built an eclectic kind of church in my world. Friends, past church friends, family, and people we do business with have become my church I can reach out and call on for help. I do miss going and giving all my time to God with others surrounding me, it's a powerful feeling. I do want my children to have friends who also love Jesus, but at the same time I can't live life in a bubble. Most of the world who needs to hear about Jesus is not at church and those are the ones I want to see. And of course have more joyful encounters like I had tonight! :)
Last night my husband put on a movie that had arrived from his Netflix list and I, not really a movie watcher, meandered in to see exactly what it was he was watching. It was The Book of Eli. I didn't really know anything about this movie other than it looked like something I don't watch because of the dark tone and shoot'em up style. However I as I watched I began to have a stream of thoughts come to me about the Bible and serving God.
The Book of Eli is set in a post apocalyptic setting 30 years after nuclear devestation. Eli, played by Denzel Washington, is a survivor of this event and after hearing a voice that told him to take the one and only King James Bible left in the world westward, he embarks on a nomadic life with the voice guiding him all the way. Of course this being an action movie there is a villian who is after this book and it's supposid power thinking it will enable him to control the world.
Eli does everything he can to protect this sacred book and throughout his journey he in turn is protected. I won't give away the ending for those who want to see it.
What this movie made me think about was how do I look at the bible. I may get up on most days and open it and learn from it, but do I treat it as more than just a book? Do I look at it as a tool used to rule with or to encourage and guide with? If it was gone from my possesion would I have enough hidden in my heart to still be able to tell my children and others it's stories and know how to conduct my life the way Jesus would want me to?
I can never understand a person who wants to live a life for Christ, but does not make time to read their bible and know exactly what that life needs to look like. What are we missing by not letting the word of God, that is very well alive and relevant to each persons unique situations, move and transform us daily. To not seek out the wisdoms and instructions as well as the extremely important encouragement this book gives as we walk through this harsh landscape is a tradgedy. It's like wanting to be a heart surgeon, but never going to school for it. Do you agree that most likely on your first surgery you would inevitibly kill the person under your knife? If you agree then how much more harm is being done when you give someone advice from a non biblical standpoint?
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Matthew 18:6
I write these words not for the new believers because you who are new to the faith are still learning, but I encourage you from the very beginning to look at your bible as extraordinary and your very tangible connection to God. But if you call yourself a believer and your goal in life is to live like and for Christ then you have to have to have to keep this book close by. If you're ever unsure on how to answer a tough question, ask for time to review your bible. It's not a cop out, it's a very good way to make sure your giving an appropriate answer. If your children have a difficult life situation, then lead them to the bible and discover together what Jesus says about these times.
I love you my brothers and sisters in Christ, and as a participant in this ministry I know that is not just about running races. It is a delicate task we have been given to be different from other runners. I stood in a crowd of about 50 people yesterday and only one came to speak to me about the Running for Him shirt. If I wasn't confident in my faith through the training God has given me through reading and studying my bible, through instruction and rebuke from other more mature Christians, then I would not have known how to approach that situation. I don't always get it right, but I trust in the Holy Spirit living inside me to make up for my human imperfections.
I don't know if I've made any points today or if I've spoken well, but my hope and prayer for you- participating in this ministry and in your walk with Christ- is that you give it your best. If I can get you a bible or if you want to exchange emails and do a bible study together let me know! I hope to not just sit here from a leadership point, but to stand along side you and walk this road together. God Bless you.
If you happen to like our Facebook page you may be aware of my ongoing dilemma of whether or not I'm prepared to run a half marathon in June. I have just 3 more runs left.
Here's the deal, I've run half marathons before and only half of those I would consider good races, maybe one I would consider great. I put these pressures on myself to get them done a certain way and if I can't I typically feel like it's not worth doing. I don't like having to walk during an endurance race. I would just once like to run all the way to the finish line.
Yesterday I was sure I wasn't going to run the race. I set off in the morning for 9 miles and barely made it 1 before I was nearly sapped of all my energy. I have to admit that training when you're a mom and wife to a family you pour your heart into makes training difficult. I can't imagine how you working moms get it done. Kudos to you! To make the situation even harder I'm still gaining my energy back from when I was sick a couple weeks back, I'm suffering from seasonal allergies, and three nights prior to the run I entered into one of my dream phases where I dream intensely vivid and sometimes violent dreams all night long. I wake feeling a swirl of emotions along with general fatigue, like I worked all throughout the night.
As much as these dreams wear me out, lately God has gotten my attention with my dreams by causing some of them to come true. I can't really talk about what I'm dreaming about because I'm still really confused with what God is doing, but I know he's using my dreams to communicate with me. It's exciting and scary at the same time.
Aside from the dreams I sometimes can get caught up in the day by day and I neglect to see that tomorrow is a new day. Which is why today I'm at a crossroads again. I feel great. My heart says it wants to run this race. I go back and forth, back and forth, and the one question that stays is, "Can I do this?"
All the while I feel like this...
One day I feel like crying thinking I'm never going to run a race again, the next day I could sign up for another race. All together I feel CRAZY :).
But in all of it I have to keep asking myself, "What does God want me to do?". Is satan creaping his way into my head, throwing these hard runs and crazy nonsense dreams in my way to try to trip me up and discourage me? Or is God telling me not now, not this race. All I can do right now is kneel before the Lord in prayer until I am sure of this answer.
For now this drama queen is taking her tiara and setting it aside. I will remain silent about this and if the day of the race comes and my toes line up behind the starting line so be it. But, I'm not going to let perfect, or not so perfect, training determine where I go or what I do. I will let my faith in the One who created me do the work and with these feet I will follow my faith.