The Truth. Nothing but The Truth.

Over the weekend a friend of mine shared a podcast with me from her church. The topic of the podcast was one I really didn’t want to hear or think about. But, I trust her. And one of the things I really respect about our friendship is that she always challenges me to see things from a different perspective then my own.

On Monday, I listened. I wouldn’t say I was convicted. I can truthfully say in the complicated situation I’ve been dealing with for 6 months now ( and the fact that it’s been 6 months still seems unbelievable and ridiculous to me) , I’ve tried my best and done my part to remain prayerful, do the hard things even when I didn’t feel like it, understand or at least see the other person’s perspective , and reconcile. While I wasn’t convicted, the message did bring about a lot of emotions and energy that I really wasn’t up for.

I shared my feelings with my friend after listening. We began a healthy, but intense tennis game type texting frenzy back and forth. She was determined to help me remain positive, hopeful, and to keep allowing my heart to be open and free instead of closed.

A few hours later I sent her a text along these lines.

“I apologize if I seemed short and irritable. I’m tired. I can’t keep fighting for (this situation ) when right now I need someone to fight for me. “

And there it was….all spilled out….the truth.

We’ve become these robots, right? Social media gives us this platform to connect with others whether our relationship with them is surface or deep. We post and share the things we want other people to see or experience along side of us. And at its core, it’s a good thing. I keep in touch with family and friends who live hundreds, even thousands of miles away , via Facebook and instagram. I keep up with friends who have 3+ kids, and really don’t have the time to catch up on the phone for a half hour. I’m able to share the insight God gives me on various topics, and engage in healthy conversation with others. As long as we’re posting the best of us, all is well.

But the truth is, there are days I am hurting so badly that even picking up my bible seems like a chore. There are times I find myself unable to speak audible words in prayer…only tears. There are days the same children I just posted about the day before….telling the world how much I love and enjoy them…..those same children seemingly lose their hearing and run like wild tigers through my house. And on those days I don’t want to hold them close or laugh it off and say “They’re just being kids”. I want to hide in my room, lock the door and be alone. That’s the TRUTH.

When people post pictures of themselves at the hospital, crying tears, or tell us how they’re hurting or lonely….you know what we do? We call them attention whores and accuse them of needy.
The ironic part is that often we criticize people….we even make meme’s and twitter updates about how people only show us what they want us to see on FB or instagram, and that most of it is fake. But the question is,
If people have the courage to tell us the truth….nothing but the truth, will we still love them? Accept them? Respect them? Stand with them? DO WE EVEN CARE?

When I texted my friend the other day, a part of me was nervous. I was a bit nervous that she’d disconnect when I blurted out that the bottom line is I’m just swimming through so many emotions at this point in my life (plus I’m 8 months pregnant), and at any given time I may be short, irritable, rude, and disenchanted because I’M TIRED. I’m tired of being the one to tell the truth, lay it all on the line….take me or leave me….only to be made to feel that I’m “too much”. AREN’T WE ALL? And yet and still, we have this power….this very person living inside of us as born again believers who empowers us to love one another in spite of our humanness.
The question is…. ARE WE WILLING?

I don’t want fake relationships. I don’t want to see a person’s highlight reel and never know their tears. I don’t want people to only feel comfortable quoting scriptures with me, but never knowing me well enough to know they can talk to me when they’re doubting the very same scriptures they know by heart. I want the TRUTH from people. I give people the TRUTH of me….nothing but the truth. And I desire the same in return.

Advertisements

The Vacationers : A Book Review

51HRvrNYdIL

I’ve got a confession to make. I often buy books based on their covers. Occasionally, I’ve been disappointed to find an obnoxiously boring story inside. But usually, the cover says it all.

I was drawn to this cover because of the Spanish blue water illustrated. As I got into the storyline, it seemed the blue cover was a foreshadowing of the immersion of circumstances each character lived out in these pages.

The beauty of this story is that it takes place during a two-week vacation in Mallorca {a spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. } Franny and Jim {swimming through a troublesome time in their marriage}. Charles and Lawrence {swimming through a decision that will change the course of their life}. Bobby and Carmen {swimming through the complexities of being in a relationship at two vastly different stages of their lives}. And Sylvia….{swimming through the toils of teenage life just before college}.

Their troubles are spilled out, confronted and some even resolved in front of each other. What binds each character together is their uncertainty.

I like novels that create a sense of reality. I don’t want to read the words and feel as if I’m being carried away to a fantasy world. I want to read and relate. This was no doubt a book well written and easy to connect to. The author ; Emma Straub, uses the detail of emotion and scenery in a way that makes you feel present at each meal, each trip to the beach, each argument, and each decision made.

Certainly this book lived up to its cover. All consuming. I enjoyed every moment.

Empty Book Shelf Challenge 2015
1. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Rating : A
Age Group : 18 +
Minimal sex, Adult issues, some language

Is being Relevant….Relevant??

Bethel-We-Will-Not-Live-2

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the church, its purpose, its message and the way in which church is advertised, presented and “done”. I’m personally thrilled that there’s dialogue about something that has been a taboo subject for way too long.

I grew up in a pretty strict denomination. Salvation came with a list of do’s, don’t’s, behavior expectations, and dress code. I have a solid foundation of bible basics as well as church protocol. I can dress the part with the best of ’em.

It hasn’t been until the last 5 years that I’ve began shedding the layers of condemnation that come with a salvation of “works”. You know…the idea that you can earn your salvation. The perception that God loves you based on how often you read your bible, pray, attend church, and of course; the length of your skirt.

I’ve read a few tweets, FB rants, and instagram posts about churches being too concerned with being relevant.

“Jesus doesn’t need any help”

“The lights and videos take away from the star of the show….Jesus.”

“We’re missing the point of church”

I’ve taken some time to ponder these thoughts. I actually used to feel deeply that these thoughts were correct. But, you see….I’ve gone to almost every type of church you can imagine. The strict church. The pastor centered church. The “just enough” Spirit church. The black church. The white church trying to seem black. The grace church with wonderful worship, wonderful teaching, but lacking in outreach and fellowship. I’ve even done the “I don’t go to church because I’m sick of church but I love Jesus” church.

Finally, my husband and I have found a church that suits the needs of our family. After attending for a year we recently became members, and both of us are now actively serving.
Guess what? It’s a “seeker friendly” church.

Lights.
Video presentations.
Preppy dressing pastor.
Lively music.
and coffee. Lots of coffee. Because coffee is important.

You know what? I LOVE my church. I love that my husband is excited to go each week, and is now actively using his various gifts in video, sound and music production in our church. I love that my children are actively growing in the Word of God and meeting new friends. I love that the music ministry is presented with both passion and excellence. I love that my pastor speaks plain truth applicable to every day living and very much Christ centered. You know what I love the most? I’m not afraid or ashamed to invite strangers or unbelievers to my church. I love that there are plenty of care groups and community groups to be involved in to assist with growing in God’s word and actively living out the commission as not just believers, but disciples. I love that my church isn’t boring.

Maybe the question we should be asking isn’t “Should the church be relevant”, but rather…”Who is church for?” When I think back to the various churches I’ve gone to before now, they all had one thing in common. There were rarely any visitors who were unbelievers.

Hmmmmm….

Aren’t we supposed to go out into the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in? (Luke 14:23) What’s compelling about a lecture? What’s compelling about coming to a place where you feel uncomfortable because you’re not dressed like everyone else? What’s compelling about a building falling apart at the seams and a pastor that takes up 2-3 offerings in one services and drives away in his luxury car?

I think back to the book of Genesis and the way God took His time in creating the world. Day. Night. Land. Sea. Animals. Colors and variation everywhere an eye could see. I doubt for one second that God thought to Himself, “Maybe I shouldn’t make the beautiful body of water…turquoise and flowing….because it might take away from my beauty. ” Are you kidding? A) There’s no comparison. B) The beautiful , turquoise water is just another element of God’s person. He’s creative. And His creativity is another tool to draw us into Him. Why can’t it be the same with our presentation of vocal, music, lighting, and video gifts in church?

The message of Jesus can be heard, felt and received in so many ways. I think we do ourselves and those we are trying to reach a disservice when we assume it can and should be delivered in only one way.