Wednesday, May 18, 2016

on church and having a relationship with God

I've been wanting to talk about church for a while.  I know most of you probably all attend a church, but I know for a fact that some of you who read this are just on the fence about going.  I will say this: it does not say anywhere in the Bible that you will not get into heaven if you don't attend church.  But there is a verse that says this in Hebrews 10:25:

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.

I would love to share with you about my life in church and what that looks like and what that means for me.  This post was inspired by one of the new friends I met at the gym yesterday, and the conversation we had about church.

The reason I go to church is simple: I go to be fed spiritually every week.  My dad once equated this to running out of gas in a car~when you're running low, you go and fill your tank back up.  Church is that way for me.  My pastor is a wonderful shepherd of his flock and the words that God gives him are life giving and replenishing.  Quite simply, I am fed spiritually by his preaching every single week.

I go to learn more about God.  

I go to learn how to live life~I learn how to disciple my own children.  I know that not all churches are this way, but my church home is big on equipping us with the tools we need to raise Godly kids in a Godless society.  My family is my top priority.  Well, in order it goes this way: God, husband, kids, everything else.

I go to fellowship with like-minded people.  Let's be real here for a minute: everywhere I go, I come across people who are not believers.  I pray and ask God for the opportunity for Him to use me daily and I ask Him to allow me to share my faith and His gospel with those I come across.  Sometimes that does happen, like in a doctor's appointment I had a few weeks ago, when the technician and I ended up having a great conversation about God.  Sometimes, though, it doesn't happen.  In those times, I have to pray and ask God to continue to give me opportunities to share His love with others.  We don't have tons of people getting saved at our church each week, but we do have people who flood the altar every single week, begging God for a miracle in a lost loved one's life or for another personal matter.  Our pastor makes sure that we are doing our job as believers~focusing on our own families and spreading His gospel with those who do not know Him.

My most fun and memorable times have come from being in a church.  All of my friends have always come from church, and that still rings true today.

Here are a few examples of this:

When I was looking for pictures for today's post, I didn't have to search and search.  Most of what I post to social media is from a church event or with my friends there.  And y'all.  We have FUN together.  More fun that I've ever had with anyone else.  Some people think that church has to be structured and stodgy, but that is not true!  It is okay to have fun while being in church.  Of course, the fact that I volunteer with our youth helps in this area.  Nobody knows how to have fun more than the youth.

For me, being a church goer and believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, also means that I live by a very specific book: the Bible.  I've read it through from cover to cover several times, and though I am nowhere near perfect (just ask my family), I am certainly a work in progress, and I try my best to please God in everything I do.

This means that I am careful with my words.  I try to live my life verse every single day, and that is Ephesians 4:29:

No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.

I try not to gossip, and I try my very hardest to stay away from those who do.  That means I've been known to walk away from conversations or to change the subject really quickly.

I try not to tell a lie or to stretch the truth or have flattering words come off my tongue.  (Yes, there is a verse that talks about flattering speech.)

I have recently been convicted (just to keep things real) about how I've not been honoring God in my body and in the way that I was eating.  So, I have made some changes, as you know.

Those are the little, less obvious sins that I struggle with.  Sin is sin, and one is no worse than the other.  To me, the bigger sins (like murder, adultery, taking God's name in vain) are not as difficult, but in God's eyes, they are all equal.

I am certainly not suggesting that I always succeed in trying to live a life pleasing to God.  But in so doing, I've learned to pray and ask Him to convict me quickly when I sin.  That means that I get an instant little check in my spirit when I've done or said something I shouldn't have.  He keeps me humble in this way, and I am thankful for that.

I pray daily, and multiple times throughout the day.  Being a stay at home wife and mom have enabled me to do this over the years.  It is not at all unusual for a kid to "catch" me in the act.  I know that not everyone can do this~because you would most likely be fired if you walked around talking to God out loud every day.  But God can work through us no matter what our lives look like, whether that means doing like I do and praying throughout the day or if you're able to pray with a co-worker once a week.  He gives us moments to do this throughout our hectic schedules.  If you don't already, please consider praying every single day!  It doesn't have to take an hour, but it doesn't need to be us just giving God a laundry list of things we want.  We should always pray according to His will, and His will is His word.

I also make the time every morning to read my Bible.  On some weekend days, I might skip this, but I always end up feeling so blah and mundane when that happens.  I really do try to read it every single day.  (Today I was in 1 Peter.)  This is one reason why I love the Scripture writing plan I do so much.  Some days that may be all that I do, but usually I read something else on my own.  I want to encourage you in this: READ YOUR BIBLE!  It has everything we need pertaining to life and godliness inside the covers.  (2 Peter 1:3.)

More of how I live is from the Bible.  The more I read His word, the more I want to know of Him and the more I aim to be like Him.  Just this morning I read that I am to be holy, because He is holy.  I put Him very first in my life and everyone and thing falls after Him.

All of this is made easier for me by attending my church.  That was what I started this post with, and it's what I will end with.  Find a church home.  Just make sure it is a Bible believing church.  Do your homework and see if what they believe lines up with God's word.  We have this wonderful internet at our fingertips, so use it to study up on their core beliefs.

Just a warning, though: no church is perfect.  Within every set of church walls is a very flawed people group.  If you're looking for perfection, look no further than God.  He is the only One who is that way.  We sin.  We mess up.  We say things we shouldn't and sometimes we can just be jerks.  But if God can forgive us, shouldn't you forgive the one who did you wrong?

And once you find a church, don't just GO to church.  Find a place to serve and get yourself plugged into a good class or small group.  Yes, it's a commitment, and yes it takes time to find a class you might love, but it is well worth the time.  I promise.  Find an area to serve!  Be a greeter, be in a prayer group, consider teaching a class, or just assist someone else.  But serve wholeheartedly, as working for the Lord, not for man.  (Colossians 3.)

Make this a priority.  You can still have your kids play sports and you can still go to the lake in the summer, but make Sunday's a priority and don't miss!  We have done this with our kids their whole lives, and they do not feel abused or neglected.  In fact, it's the opposite and they hate missing a Sunday.  Even when low on sleep, they still love to be there, like when Graham went on Sunday after prom.  Just put God first and let everything else fall after Him.

Commit to live your life for God.  Commit to being in a church.  I promise you, it is not something you will ever regret.  People say sweet things about my boys all the time, and when they want to know what we've done to raise them that way, our answer is simple.  We have committed to raising them to live their lives for God and we have been consistent in every aspect of their lives~in discipline and in church attendance.  And you know what?  They don't hate us.  In fact, even when they're upset with us, they are respectful toward us to their peers.  I am thankful for the village of people we've had to help us along our way, though.  This includes family members, friends and Sunday school teachers, community group leaders and our pastor.

If you're reading this and feel panicked at the thought that it's too late for you, take a deep breath.  It is NEVER too late to decide to live a life for God.  It is never too late to start praying for your kids.  Whether small or grown and married or single.  God wants you to come to Him just like you are.  His death on that cross paid the price for our past sins, our present sins and our future sins.

Just decide to make a change and commit to following through with it~whether in how you're living life or in deciding to finally start attending a church.

I promise you will never regret that decision.

Love to all.

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