Friday, April 15, 2011

Contempt within the Church

First of all, I want to say that God definitely has a sense of humor.  This past month I have been struggling with the mentality and function of the church.  I have been frustrated with myself as well as the others who sit in the chairs every week and don't seem to be doing anything.  Not just on a small scale in my church, but the church all across the country.  This past week though, I have encountered some interesting perspectives and verses that have helped clarify some things for me.  This is where it gets funny.

The sermon last Sunday was focused around Romans 14 (at least the first half of the chapter was covered this week). 
 1As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
 5One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
 10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written,

   "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
   and every tongue shall confess to God."

 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

This passage has really convicted me and hit home pretty hard as I look back on this past month and how I've handled conversations regarding my struggle and opinions of the church.  I have been judgmental of the way others worship and serve the Lord without knowing the heart behind what they are doing.  Some people hold firmly to the rules, regulations, and traditions just as the Jewish Christians who would not eat certain meat.  Whereas, the Gentile Christians experienced a freedom in Christ that allowed them to eat all meat.  It didn't mean that they weren't following, serving, and loving God.  It just meant that they were doing it in a way that seemed right for them.  Each individual feels the freedoms of Christ in different ways.  Who am I to judge whether those are right or wrong?

I just need to figure out what is right between God and myself.  When I discover that, then I should hold firm in those things.  My main purpose is not to judge, but to love ALL.  My attitude has been far from love, but I'm determined to fix that.  My goal is to be very intentional about loving those around me, in the church or outside of it.  I had been so focused on not judging those outside of the church that I forgot to not judge those inside the church.  I felt I had a right to call them out on their seemingly hypocrisy, when in fact it was myself who was the hypocrite.  Funny how that works out sometimes.  Quite a blow to my pride and ego.  Ouch...I was wrong! 

I still have so much to learn, discover, and experience.  This lesson has been a tough one and will probably continue to be something I struggle with for a long time, but at least I can recognize my fault and take the necessary steps to move forward from it.  LOVE LOVE LOVE...Lord teach me how to LOVE!

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Month, Pleasant Attitude, Good Stuff

I am currently sitting in my apartment waiting for my best friend and husband to show up.  I haven't seen them since Thanksgiving, so I'm very ready to have a nice visit with them.  We have been trying for a long time to get together and there has always been something to get in the way.  I am very excited to catch up with them. 

Thursday evening was also a very exciting time for me.  I have been struggling with finding a group of Christians my age, but not particularly college students, to have some community with.  I've known for a long time my need there, but never knew where to look or how to start.  Thursday I attended my first community group gathering and I am so excited about it.  The leaders are amazing, and the people are so welcoming.  I am thankful to have a safe place to be transparent, understood, and encouraged.  I just had to release a heavy sigh.  It's so refreshing and relieving.  I'm so blessed. 

In other news, I have tested the AC in my car and discovered that it doesn't really get cold.  This discovery is not very exciting now that I live in Texas.  Basically...I'm gonna die! I've been saving for a down payment on a car and now I'm feeling a little bit more urgency to get that process going.  I'm not particularly excited about adding to my debt, but I also know that if I'm buying a car, then it's not going to be a clunker!  I need something a little more reliable since I don't have anyone to take me to work if it dies.  It will be nice to have a little more peace of mind that my car will start when I turn the key.  It will also be nice to not melt in the summer. 

Life continues to fly by me.  It seems like not too long ago, I was sitting around bored in my apartment, not knowing what to do with myself.  Now, it seems like I am never here.  I was calculating my time in Austin the other day and it's amazing how much time flies.  My tentative timeline for living here is 22 months...and I've already completed almost 7 of those.  I have 16 more months to make an impact in Austin...and I have so much more to learn and experience.  As much as I claim to hate this city some days, it really is fascinating.  Austin is teaching me so much about myself and life.  It is teaching me to love, unconditionally...and that is the most important thing of all. 

My heart beats and breaks for this city.  I have lots of great ideas of how to impact this place, and now that I have a community of others who feel the same, I think I might actually get an opportunity to reach out more.  I can't do it on my own, but with others, we can make a difference.  I am so excited to see what the next few months hold for us.

There's so much more I could write about, but I think I've rambled enough for this evening!  Hope y'all didn't get fooled too much today! :)