Friday, August 11, 2006

Part II

(Sorry gals, this post is long. But I think all of my posts are long! Sorry!)

Yesterday afternoon I had my part II to yesterday's post completed. That way I could get on the computer first thing this morning and post it. But in the middle of saving it, blogger went down and I lost it. So I think the Lord wanted me to work through some things before posting the second half of "Cravings". Part II is all about something I am facing right now, a change taking place. It's nothing bad or earth shattering, just something that is weighing very heavy on my heart. With that comes my feelings and my own opinions. Now if you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I like to really pray about what I write when it comes to my relationship with Christ and the things He is showing me. As a woman trying to pursue holiness, I don't want to put anything out there that would confuse anyone or cause anyone to stumble. Right now my view on church is really at a difficult place. I need some help with all that I am feeling. I need some help working through all the opinions I have formed in my head when it comes to church. Tonight I am going to buy Rob Bell's book called Velvet Elvis. A friend of mine recommended this book and she knows I am a huge fan of Rob Bell. His sermons are wonderful to listen to. In fact, I would love it if his church was HERE. That may solve our church dilemma.

Since the post I had planned for today was lost in space, I think the Holy Spirit had some time to work on me and soften me a little bit. Once again He is doing something new in my life, brand new. Actually, I have never been at this place before or even tasted anything like it. It's scary, but also exciting because I know God is about to reveal himself in a way I have never experienced. A few days ago I read something that someone had written about church. This woman writing is a GODLY woman. But guess what? She does not attend church. I was kind of surprised but at the same time I was proud of her for writing about it. She explained that she was feeling like she may be ready to be a part of a church. So many Christians spend so much time talking about their church that I never hear the word JESUS come out of their mouth. I know a lot of church people that don't seem very different from the non church people.
I hear church people freak out when they find out you like Red Wine or a Margarita with your Mexican Food! I know church people that drink but hide it. I know church people that are afraid of being seen at Super Target buying a bottle of wine. Well send me, I will buy it for you!

The truth is, I am done. I am over the whole churchy church kind of talk. It's not genuine, it's not real life, it's totally and completely fake. Now don't get me wrong. There are things as Christian Leaders or people in ministry that have to show boundaries. If I am on staff at a church, I don't know if I would go to the Target down the street and buy Yellow Tail Shiraz! If you don't know what that is, it's wine. Good wine! That would be something I would have to really, really pray about. I don't want to ruin my witness or my ministry. There are two sides to that scenario and both have good points. Christians debate this constantly so I am not going to. But if you think that me having a glass of wine makes me a woman that is unable to minister to women, then obviously I will never be able to speak into your life because I enjoy a glass of red wine! Getting drunk, I have a problem with. The Bible is crystal clear about being drunk. So why is that some have a problem with drinking wine but they don't have a problem with watching Grey's Anatomy, Boston Legal, Desperate Housewives, Two and a Half Men and Friends reruns. Now let me go on the record here. I LOVE the show Boston Legal, LOVE it! But when people are having sex in a coat closet, sex in their office and it's not with their spouse, I do feel convicted. The enemy is sneaky. As Christians we say we don't agree with it and just because we watch shows that support affairs and sexual relationships doesn't mean we will do it! Right?! Again, the enemy is sneaky. Some choose not to drink because of family alcoholism, etc. That's totally understandable. But I have heard a lot of talk lately among friends of mine that have been judged because they like to have a beer or Margarita or wine. I have not faced this kind of judgment before.

So we all have different convictions, yes. But people in the church, including MYSELF, like to put sin in a pretty box and tie a big, fat, bow around it. We judge, oh how we judge! Several years ago I went through a Life Management Program called Pathways. This was something that Dr. Phil McGraw created. Pathways is a four month program. It's secular, not a Christian program but it's operated by many Christians. While I was in Pathways I had several classmates that were homosexual. One of them I became pretty close to. I had energy for him, I really loved him as a person. When he would speak in front of the group, my heart would break for him as he shared his troubles as a child. This guy who was gay believed in God. He believed that he knew God. He believed God loved him. Before Pathways I would have thought he was crazy but I saw his heart. Whether or not he was saved? I was unable to make that call. Some Christians would say there is no way a gay man or woman could possibly be saved. That's another thing like drinking and TV watching that I don't care to debate. Sin is sin! During one of the sessions, I noticed this particular guy crying. After the session ended it was time to go to our rooms for the night and work on homework. Yes, we had homework. But first I grabbed my buddy (a buddy was your person that was assigned to you and worked on your training together through out the whole four months) and asked my gay friend if I could pray for him. After I finished praying, he asked if he could pray. Yep, a gay guy praying! Perish the thought! Right? No, it was a prayer I will never forget. A true sinner, asking God to help him.

A few months ago when I visited my grandmother in Beaumont, Texas, we all went out to eat. On our way we saw a man, his wife and young child standing on the corner holding up signs that said, "God hates fags!" I shouldn't have, but I looked out the window while we were stopped at the light and shook my head in disbelief to the man shouting things in his battery operated megaphone. I looked in his eyes and showed him how much I disapproved. I could have been shot but my heart hurt so bad when I saw that. I was mad that someone could portray God in that way! When the man saw that I disapproved of his behavior, he shouted something horrible. I still can't believe he had his little boy out there with him. What a sad, sad world we live in.

At the end of my cul-de-sac, there are two lesbians that live in a house together. Obviously they are a couple. Across the street from them is another lesbian that lives alone. I see all of them outside every single day talking as they walk their little dogs. They know me by name. They know my children by name. They have seen us leave for church on Sunday mornings. Actually I had a conversation with one of the sweet ladies and told her we were still looking for a church. She KNOWS we are Christians. I make it a point to let her know through my verbiage that I am a Christ follower. I make it a point with my smile and my actions to let her know that I am a person that loves her.

So this is what I crave. This is what I have a taste for. This is what I am praying about. This is why I am tired of church, tired of looking for a church, tired of talking church. I don't want an EMERGENT church! I don't want a SEEKER church! I don't want a church that thinks that are not seeker but really are! I don't want a church that is trying to be like every other church! I WANT TO BE THE CHURCH! No, I don't want to start a cult. I don't want to be a Pastor. I don't want to FORSAKE the church. I need it, my kids need it. But, I don't want what I have always had. My taste buds have changed and I can't handle the status quo anymore. I crave authenticity. I want to go somewhere that is not worried with how many people are there that day or focused on how they are going to get more people to come the next Sunday. I don't need a fancy name tag or a pretty bulletin. Just put me in with sinners! Sinners that are really desperate for CHRIST. A place that has an alter flooded with men that are addicted to pornography, men and women trying to come out of homosexuality, men and women needing a Savior instead of needing a church. You see all of those people are in our churches but no one wants to be real. No one wants to expose their sin. We all want to have Bible Study but we don't want anyone to piss us off.

I have thought about inviting my cul-de-sac over for breakfast on a Sunday morning. I just want to get to know them. Find out what they do, what they like and who they love. Do they have kids? Do they have grandkids? Maybe that would start a spark. Maybe that would show others the love of Jesus. Who cares if I ever stand on a church stage and sing again! Who cares if I ever get to be on staff somewhere again! Who cares if anyone knows that I can lead a Bible Study, speak or write a drama! What if I am supposed to focus on love? Loving my neighbors, loving those I come in contact with. What if that's how I am supposed to minister to women?

We have not been to church in two weeks. We read our Bible, we study His word daily, we pray, we worship, but we have not been to church in to weeks. One of my very best friends, Tiffany, asked me yesterday if we were going to church on Sunday. My answer was simple. "I don't know." Where else can we visit? Where else can we put our kids in the nursery while we try to figure out whether or not this a place we should come to again? It's grueling, it's painful, it's the most horrible process ever. We will go to church again. We will not forsake the body. But, we are waiting on God for a crystal clear answer. The hunger has changed. The craving is strong and so far it has not been satisfied. What is God doing? What is he trying to show us? That's what I pray He will reveal to my husband and when He does, I know He will reveal the same to me too. Each Sunday we both know what we want. We have been thinking and praying about it daily. But it seems that we get the total opposite. I know that my Husband hears the voice of God, I know that I hear it too. My prayer is that we will hear from Him soon regarding our church home and our place of ministry. Our vision has changed, we have changed, our relationship with Christ has grown and we want more of Him. But we don't want what we have had in the past.

I am not against church. I am not putting down anyone else's church. Understand that I am in the middle of a process. I am not trying to start any debates or offend anyone. I am just being real, completely real. Please allow me to do that. I love God, I am a Christ follower and I need him to RULE my life! Oh how I need Him!

17 comments:

BooMama said...

Isn't it funny how so many of us "Christian people" :-) talk about how we want to live out the Great Commission - but yet we only seem to only want to live it out with people who look and act and talk like us? I've been guilty of that....

You raise some excellent points here - I can't wait to hear what God does in your heart (and your husband's heart, too).

Who knows? Maybe you'll could start a book study - on something like Velvet Elvis - with some of the people in your neighborhood. It sounds like to me that you're ready to go and BE the church - not just go and SEE the church. Does that make sense?

Keep us posted....

Anonymous said...

I started to reply a few minutes ago then I deleted all and went to eat dinner - while eating the word - Tolerance - kept coming to mind. Before I decided to become a counselor I was becoming more and more tolerant - then I found I out I HAVE to be tolerant to have a career in this field. I don't get to say - oh you are homosexual or you are an addict - I don't think I want to help you or have anything to do with you.
I guess what I am getting at is wouldn't it be nice if people in the church would start to become more tolerant...from what I am reading I think that is one of the things you seek.

On a different note - one thing I learned in PW's and one thing I do still - even in church - is to "turn on my filter" or "put on my filter" - I don't remember how Andy used to say it - but even at church I don't have to agree with everything the preacher says.....and I don't - I can agree with the word he might be given from God - but I don't have to agree with his position on things - make sense??? Ok I am rambling.....

I can't wait to hear where God leads you guys! I know He has great things in store...

Nancy

On Fire For Him said...

Girl - you are getting radical! ;0) This is what it is all about and what is missing with so many people out there. I am tired of the "christianeze" that we all speak. I am ready for the real stuff.
Recently, it was prophesied over us, "that we ain't seen nothing yet, and as we step out into this next phase of life, we will be changed to the point of unrecognition by our current friends." God knows me and He knows your heart. He hears your cry for wanting a true radical change and desire to love people where they are at, but giving them Jesus!
Highly recommend that you get a copy of Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind, By Bill Johnson.
He talks about "His kingdom coming on EARTH as it is in Heaven!" It is possible and we are in a time where we are going to see God moving in the most dramatic ways. If you are crying out for this change, He is not going to ignore you. Trust me! His is going to strengthen and empower you to fulfill the commission that He has for your life!
You go girl!!!!

Wendy said...

Amanda, It's funny because when I first found your blog I was kind of turned off by the long posts. Mostly because I get little time on the computer, but then I read and read some more and have found that you are REAL and speak in love. I love that. I love this post. We are in a similar situation right now and have had a hard time finding a solid church. I could relate to so much of what you described.
The first paragraph of Boomama's comments above are so perfectly put. I think we can be so judgemental and see sin on different levels.
Thanks for telling it like it is.

Paula said...

Amanda,
I have to start by saying WOW! I am going to call my husband in here to read this after I am done here.
"LOVE THE SINNER NOT THE SIN". A good motto, but hardly ever used. It is very frustrating because we know for a fact God is black and white. There is NO grey! Yet, we ourselves live in grey and are the first to let everyone else know..."you are wrong." I love the verse..."Don't judge other people, or you will be judged. You will judged in the same way that you judge others."Matt 7:1-2a You know, self rightousness is hard to tackle. I like what someone wrote, you have to filter it out. Surround yourself with the ones that love you and know you. Love others unconditionally, like I think you do. Know you are "salt of the Earth." When you live for Jesus and He lives through you, people will notice. God will make sure of that. We are as well trying to find a church. Getting ready wit ha one year old and being there by 9:00 was getting too hard, so we are looking closer. So hard and such a big decision. We will pray. Pray for a home church and a place where God can use us.
I LOVE your post and I LOVE your honesty.

Minnie said...

I'm totally speechless other than to say "PREACH IT SISTA!". You are so real and completely transparent, and I absolutely adore and RESPECT that about you. LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

Amanda said...

Boomama, I love everything you said. But the last statement really sums it up for us. We want to BE the church, not go and SEE the church. That's good. I am sure I will use that as a quote! Thanks Boomama, you blessed me by coming over and visiting my blog home.

Nancy, everything you said makes perfect sense. I know exactly what you are saying. We have the same training! And I promise I learned a lot in PW's! Just ask my large group leader! HA! Your hubby! :)

On Fire For Him, yes I think it is pretty radical. It's funny because I know that some that read this blog post will get that churchy church attitude and think, "SHE DRINKS!". That's not really the point but it's just an example for me to use. I can't, I won't do church how I have always done it.

Wendy, my blogs are long. They are blovels! I am sorry. My brother will not read them because he says they are too long. I have tried to make them shorter. Can you guess how much I love to talk? :)I am glad I wrote this because I KNOW so many people are feeling the same exact way. Thanks for your words. I needed that!

Paula, I hope your husband can handle ALL THAT WRITING I did! I always feel like a man would quit reading my blog after the first sentence. I am going to pray for y'all about finding a church and for that precious baby boy. It seems that many of us are feeling the same way. Every single time I ask God to give me a blog to write, it is for me than just me. Thanks for your comments. I am honored that anyone would read and comment.

Amanda said...

Minnie, you have no idea how much you encouraged me over the phone the other day. Someday when God gives me the incredible opportunity to speak to women, you are going with me. You have so much to share, so much to tell, so much to give to other women. I need you.

P.S. My mom said your hair looks hot!

Dee said...

Again - another post that I could have written with just a few minor changes. Funny, the "have a drink" and still be a Christian conversation I just had last evening.

The church search we have been in the same situation. Someone posted (sorry, don't recall who) recently about how many have "niced" up God and only focus on his Mercy and Goodness. While I agree those are important parts of who He is, I believe that many churches have begun to fall away from preaching FULL TRUTH. AND - I believe that if the truth were taught... we would ALL be more aware of what I try to teach my chilren: Jesus didn't "hang-out" with the do gooders, the saints or the "church" people. He was with the SINNERS. First of all, we cannot judge because in God's eyes, sins are sins. As long as I am living here on this earth, I will be a sinner.. no better than the next. The only difference may be that I am born again and Heaven bound. So - we are asked to share His word. We have to go into the multitudes...of SINNERS and share!!!!

God is obviously at work in your life and it is a matter of patiently waiting for His plan to be revealed. Let me tell you girl, I am NOT good at the PATIENT part. We received a vision into our plan and it took almost 3 years. AND it took us back to the church we first left, which was lukewarm, but is heating up with the Holy Spirit.

As for your long posts... I LOVE THEM!! As you can tell by my responses, I have a lot to say as well (I am well known in my house for killing all cell phone batteries)! :)

Wendy said...

Amanda, I hope you know that I don't mind that they are long. My point was just that initially it turned me off, meaning before I read anything. Now I know they are long because you have important things to say and I don't mind at all.

Dee said...

Back again...Sorry, but I have another thought. There is a Christian Band, Casting Crowns... they sing a couple of songs that totally speak about these topics (current common church issues). One is titled: Does Anybody Hear Her - talking about judgemental people in the church allow someone to "slip through the cracks." And second: Stained Glass Masquerade - speaking of how we are made to feel we have to be "good" or "holy" or "sinless" basically without fault to attend these churches. I may do a post in the near future on these two songs, because I have been so strongly convicted and touched by them. In the meantime, they are off of Casting Crowns - Lifesong CD.

Ok - I will go now! LOL!

Paul West said...

Amanda,

I'd like to thank you for taking the time to post on my blog. Have you heard of Sermon index? www.sermonindex.com

It's a fellowship of Christians all over the world with a heart for truth and to see God bring revival to our lukewarm churches. I'd love to see you there! I think you would fit in fine, juding by the post you left on my blog. I'm going to ask Sarah to check it out too.

My website is www.noneshouldperish.com I hope you visit and read some of the resources there. I know you'll be blessed and encouraged to serve Jesus Christ in amore radical way!

With Christian love,

Brother Paul

Amanda said...

Sweet Wendy, I knew your point. I knew you were not bothered. You just reminded me that I do have LONG posts! :)

V. said...

Hey Amanda,

LOVE your heart!

This is where I've been for the last while too, I just happen to be blessed with a church and a pastor who 'get it'...we talk more about church outside our walls than about church inside.

You would really enjoy the conversations over at voxtropolis where I host my blog. There are alot of people, like you, who are DONE with the institution. God Chasers. God followers who are trusting Him to lead.

Start at www.voxtropolis.com . You can randomly select but I'll send you a few of my favorites off-blog.

We're home again (it's so nice to be HOME!)

Sarah H. said...

Dearest Amanda!

This was such an intense post! I have so many things to say but I think i'm gonna send an e-mail sometime.

I'll be praying! I think you are a blessing to people around you! Your neighbours, friends, whoever you come in contact with!
No doubt about it!

Love you!

momteacherfriend said...

Amen!

I do truly believe God can deal with His own!! If they need correction in their life it will come by way of the Holy Spirit not by the judgement of man.

It has been true in my life.

So come all that are imperfect. I may be uncomfortable at times but I will do my best to love you as you are. Ever encouraging you to look to Jesus.

By the way, Mars Hill, Rob Bell's church is an hour from our house. I have a few friends that make the drive over. I love his Noomas.

Kellie said...

Hallelujah! I am going to comment before I read the rest of the comments, so I don't forget. I love you dear lady. You are, just, oh such a blessing to me and to others. I love seeing your heart. I can't find the words right now, but you are doing mighty things for the kingdom. I will keep praying for you. GOD is blessing you. HE has blessed you with an awesome ability to understand and write. Praise GOD for you!

I love that you are so desiring to see what GOD is telling Jeremy. I desire that type of relationship with my DH. You have a gift in a husband who seeks GOD. I am praying for mine to keep getting closer and to desire to get closer.

GOD will make a way
Where there seems to be no way

HE workes in ways we cannot see
HE will make a way for me

HE will be my guide
Hold me closely to HIS side

With love and thanks for each new day
HE will make a way
HE will make a way.

Thank you for your ministry.