Tag Archives: religion

Spiritual update, fall of 2016

4 Sep

A recent sermon at the Wesconnett Church of Christ was about whether we are a Christian.  I’m not going to even try to relate all that was covered.  You can check it out at:

http://www.wesconnettchurchofchrist.org/sermons5223/?Sermon=322

The thought I retained is that being a Christian is so much more than just saying, feeling and believing we are one.  I really connected with the idea that beyond being persuaded to be a Christian we must become a disciple.  A disciple is one that has disciplined their life to be like their master.  The term Christian was given to the early disciples because they were so like Christ–in thought, word, and deed.  This ideas is not new to me–as I have heard it most of my life.  But now I’m hearing it afresh.

Yes, I now worship at the Church of Christ.  And it’s with trembling gratitude that I can say I’m a part of the church of Christ.  This is the faith I found last year.  It’s where things were finally explained in a way that makes sense.  It is a place that doesn’t run from questions–in fact they welcome questions!  I had known for some time that good teachers like questions.  And that everything that is really true can stand up to any questions. But in my former religion we were taught not to question–as if that was somehow wrong,  I was always given the answer ‘”do you want to be contentious?”  Or “are you questioning God’s way?”  These ‘answers’ never answered my question and only left me feeling like I was ‘bad’ and something I shouldn’t be.  Another thing I began to notice was that it seemed to be “the way” of God that was worshiped, almost more than God or Jesus.  In fact that was one of the things I remember that started to really bother me–we didn’t sing hardly any hymns that praised God.  We didn’t really seem to worship Jesus as our Savior.  We looked upon Him more as an elder brother, someone to pattern our life after.

The Church of Christ wasn’t  the kind of church I thought I was looking for.  In many ways, it seems a lot like my former religion.  There are not musical instruments in the worship service, communion is served every Sunday, both claim to follow only the Bible and they are not churches that you “join”.  Yet this new church is so different.  As I look back, it seems to me that my former religion tried to pattern after the New Testament church.  Whereas, this faith seeks to only follow what the New Testament says to do.  This may sound the same, but it isn’t.

This spring I was telling one of my daughters of how much I liked the church I have been attending.  I explained to her of how I had came to first attend the church and how warm the people were.  I told of attending the Ladies bible classes and then of the personal bible studies I had with two of the ladies.  Now I tell her of how much I am still enjoying it–how that there are no ‘off limit’ subjects and how everything is explained in ways that make sense.

I remember how—at those early Bible studies—as they answered my questions and I read the scriptures, I could see things that my former religion did that were not according to scripture, along with not doing some things that were scriptural.  But then the topic of baptism was introduced.  This was a hard one for me.   I had been baptized as a teenager and it seemed wrong to be baptized again.  (My former church had the same idea of being re-baptized–although I never understood why).  But there was one big difference between the two.   In my former religion baptism came a year or so after conversion, after the person had ‘proved them self’ (although I’m still not quite sure who we were supposed to be approved by).   In this new church the teaching is that baptism is a part of being saved.  This was a new concept for me.   But as I read more, I realized that is what the scriptures say!   Then one day in the study, I was asked if I had been baptized for the remission of sins and I realized “no” I don’t remember those words being said at any baptism I ever attended.  (When I ask my daughter about this she says that she thinks it was implied.  But this doesn’t add up for me.  Shouldn’t my sins have been forgiven when I was saved when we “professed” or made our choice to serve God?)

But back then, as I thought more about the things I was learning about baptism and as I continued to really read the Bible–what it says, not what I thought I knew–it just suddenly came to me.   It was so simple–it’s what the Word says, so just obey it!  And so I did.  I was baptized–if I remember correctly–in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins.  It was such a different experience for me, nothing at all like my former one.  This baptism was not solemn, instead it was joyous!  The ladies and minister were happy–I was a new sister!   And as I was telling my daughter–I never expected to feel any different after the baptism–but I did!   I felt new, alive and oh so joyous!  And such a peace!  I thought I had peace before, but never like this!  This is truly a ‘peace that passes understanding’.  It’s with me all the time, a constant joy.  I can’t even find words to explain it.  As time has passed, as I continue to learn, I now have a deeper understanding of baptism.

I thought I had been a Christian since high school, so the idea of being termed a ‘new convert’ at first seemed really strange to me.  But I realize it’s what I am!  I am learning what it means to obey the Word.  I still have lots of foggy areas—a lot of former concepts that need correction.  There is so much I still need to understand.  But the wonderful thing is that I’m learning as I go and that’s ok.  Because at last, I’m on the right path–learning and following the New Testament Word as it is written.

I’ve had several good discussions with my daughter and hope to have more.  I want to be able to tell all my children, family and friends the wonder of what I now have.  My blog posts, along with other media, are my way of starting to reach out to others.  I hope with God’s help and prayer I can continue to be a disciple of Christ forever!

 

 

My spiritual journey a year later

3 Apr

 

I’ve been writing this post in my mind for several months, composing and decomposing it.  I started writing it a few times, but always had trouble. Even with the title.  One title began ‘I have found’, but that didn’t convey exactly what I wanted to say.  Then I came up with ‘My spiritual journey has ended’.  But immediately my heart said ‘no, NO’!  Because I never want this journey of learning more of my Lord and Savior to be over.  I think it will take all of eternity to learn and understand the infinite heart of God.

Sometimes it’s hard to put words to feelings.  And throughout this journey I’ve experienced a multitude of feelings.  It’s a scary thing to realize that something I’ve had confidence in for most of my life no longer brings me peace.  And it’s hard to leave the comfort zone and go into unknown territory.  But it was something I realized I must do.  I can’t live without peace in my soul.

Although it has taken me quite awhile, I’m greatful for God’s patience with me.  I would never have been able to take in, change my whole line of thinking and accept what He is showing me without the time to search my soul and reflect.

Soon after the time I described in my April 1st post, I moved.  It’s true that I had liked the community church, but I decided to check out some closer in my new area.  I attended one in the downtown area with a friend,  But in had a tone of some of the things I could no longer handle in my own church.  Then I tried one that another friend recommended.  But to me the sermon was as dry as toast.

Last Mother’s Day I was going out with my daughter for brunch, so searched online for churches nearby with an evening service.   One that came up was Baptist.  When I was living in Missouri I had attended a Baptist church a few times when staying with friends, so I decided to try it.  i enjoyed my brunch and a leisurely afternoon, then in the evening drove to the church–only to find no one there!  Evidently they had cancelled the evening service due to the holiday.  While driving around, wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my evening, I saw two ladies outside of a church.  I drove in and ask if it was a church service.  (I wanted to be sure it wasn’t some other activity related to Mother’s Day.)

They said yes, to come join them.  So I did.  Everyone was so welcoming, greeting me with smiles and handshakes.   Immediately I was struck with the ‘feel’ of the place.  I’ve been in places that were welcoming, some that were friendly.  But this was a warm welcome.  I could feel that they were glad I was there!  I’ve never felt such acceptance.  It brings tears to my eyes, even now, as I write this.

I don’t remember now what the sermon was about, but I liked it. Afterwards there was more greetings, everyone telling me how glad they were I had come and to please come back.  I was invited to the Tuesday morning Women’s Bible Class, which I attended.  I attended the Wednesday evening service, and both the Bible Class and the church service the next Sunday.  And every service possible since then.

Writing this now, I realize it’s going to take more than one setting to relate.  Because of content length and the emotions that I’m feeling as I write, I’m going to end here and contine my story later.

 

Visiting Area Churches

1 Apr

As I was –finally–attempting to write an update on my Spiritual Journey, I found this draft which I thought I had posted a year ago.

I attended a Christian church last Sunday.  The first one I went to was a community church.  As I mentioned before, I liked the community church.  I liked the music, the casual atmosphere, friendliness and the music.  The sermon was ok.  I like the emails they send me.   But I wanted to check out more churches in the area.

I was attracted to the Christian church because I liked online sermons.  And I felt the sermon this morning was very reverent and helpful.  I also like the friendliness of the congregation and it had a casual feel.  But the funny thing is, although I love music and crave to worship with music, the music in this church might be the reason why I’m not sure if I will go back.  It seemed more of a show, and not nearly as uplifting as at the community church I visited.

I plan to visit a Presbyterian church next Sunday, the contemporary worship, which is before the traditional worship.  The contemporary appeals to me more than the robed choir.  Next on my list is possibly a church up in the city.

After visiting these four for worship sevices, I plan to check out their bible studies and outreach.  I’ve read about each online, but I want to feel the atmosphere and see where I seem most at home.  It occurred to me this morning that there might be a possibility that none of them gives me completely what I’m searching for.  If that should happen, I’m wondering about the possibility of attending the parts of each that I am I tune with.  I don’t know if this is frowned upon or not.  It seems from what I’ve read that most people attend one church.  Yet, if we are all followers of Christ, should it really matter?

As I said, that was a year ago.   My next post will be in real time.

New Spiritual Journey

29 Mar

I never used to understand that Bible verse about ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’, Phil 2:12.  But in the past few years I have been realizing it is a very real search/journey.  I have had a lot of soul searching and done lots of Bible studies on various topics. Experiences in my life have convinced me, beyond a doubt that God is leading me closer to Him.  And, trembling sometimes, I am trying to follow.

For several months I’ve been feeling like God is calling me to something ‘more’.  I have felt such a need to praise and worship God.  And my church meetings haven’t fullfilled that need.  Yet I’ve kept trying to go.  Sometimes it was a good experience and sometimes not.  I love the sharing part of the meeting.  Yet I know there are parts of the (tradition?, beliefs?) that I don’t believe.  Parts I now realize I never have believed.  But still I tried to keep going, feeling like I had been part of the problem so I should be part of the fix.  Then I wondered “who am I to try to fix something?”  And I kept getting these pricks–“Follow Me, I have more for you”.  And, “why aren’t you listening to me?”  Finally that verse came to where Jesus says to Saul/Paul–it is hard for you to kick against the pricks, Acts 26-14, and I realized I need to listen and take heed.  It’s a scary thing to leave something you have grown up mostly beleiving.  Yet it is a whole lot scarier not to follow where I know is God/Jesus leading me!

I visited with a woman from my Quest group (we are on a quest to learn more about ourselves, each other and God) and she invited me to her church for a presentation.  I liked parts of it.  I was invited to a women’s bible study there, but haven’t gone yet. She believes in Once Saved, Always Saved.  And my church certainly doesn’t!

Since I feel God is leading me away from my church, I decided to visit area churches, because I do want to meet with believers.  I want to praise God–to sing and well, really to shout–of His wonderful encompassing essence!

I went to a local church last Sunday.  I liked it, but wanted to check out others.  I found another nearby that sounded interesting.  I was planning to go this morning but they are having pre Easter Kids service and egg hunt today and I wasn’t interested in that.  I also want to check out a couple up in JAX.  I found one up in the city that sounded really interesting, but since it seemed to be in a questionable neighborhood I drove up there first and decided–maybe not.  I am also signed up for a bible study in my Quest group led by the woman whose church presentation I went to.

But today, since it was too late to go back to the place I we last week, I didn’t go anywhere.  Instead I’ve been researching online opposing views on ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ doctrine.  I read a Lutheran link that had a lot of helpful scripture (which I took notes from) and views, at least until I clicked on their doctrine.  Some of which I believe is NOT scriptural.  So then looked at other sites.  I’ve taken notes of some links and quotes.  I especially like the one about our enemy being Satan–not believers who have differing view.  Because that is one thing I have Always hated about Meetings (what I’m calling the way/church I have been in since a teenager).  I have always cringed inside when I heard the criticism of other religions, especially when I could hear the contempt in the voice.  Yet there have been times in the past, when I too, felt like I had something that others didn’t.  I hate that.  It only brings self-righteousness.  It causes a terrible feeling inside, something I never want to feel again!  A certain pity for others, but no joy to self or to others.

Back to my research.  I will probably come back to it many times, but for today after browsing through my notes, I find the best concept is that both views are correct.  Even though they seem to be opposing.  Yes, there can be a falling away, but also we can believe God’s promise that ‘nothing can separate us from His love’.  Although I didn’t note it specifically in my notes, I believe this was taken from the Lutheran site. (I will try to find the link if any are interested.).  The ‘falling away’ was spoken to the ‘Old Man’–our flesh–who wants nothing to do with God.  Whereas God’s promise is to the ‘New Man’–who believes in Christ.  When we believe that Christ died for us to become righteous before God, and that through grace by Jesus Christ and for His sake we are ‘saved’–righteousness and eternal life are given to us!

One site mentioned that the word Believe in the Greek translation is an ongoing verb.  We must continually repent of our sin and believe in Christ saving power.  The Christian life is one of continual repentance; true repentance and turning away from sin brings about a changed behavior which is pleasing to God.  This brings up another opposing subject: faith vs works.  That Is a study I started over three years ago, which I continually return to.  Maybe I will post on that another time.

Another study I may do is what is referred to as ‘the Great Commission’.  I think most churches preach that all believers need to spread the Gospel, whereas my church seems to feel that it should only be the ministers.

As a result it has always been hard for me to speak to to others of God.  However, now God is leading me in this.  Just the very day after I had finally said (in my heart), “Ok God, I will go where you are leading”, an experience came where I could share something that, previously, I would have never mentioned.  A coincidence?  I think not.  And even in this post I am sharing, with trembling jubulation, where God is leading me. Praise be to HIM!

 

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