I’m Normal, Everyone Else is Weird

I’m going to start this post with a side note! I need a “lay flat” Bible. Reading a passage that’s along the inside of the page and typing is extremely difficult!

Sunday Service!

Ok! So, they’re starting a new theme for service! “Weird, because normal isn’t working.” The Pastor used Matthew 7:13-14 to support the theme and I’m going to include it the verse (I think that’s what it’s called.) I’m including it because I really, really liked the service today! I’m sure I take away from it differently, less spiritually, but I liked it a whole lot! Seriously, kudos to the Pastor and everyone who helped with the service today!

My Bible is the New Living Translation

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell* is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

*7:13 Greek The road that leads to destruction

The Pastor talked about how coming to church is easy, listening to his sermons is easy (It’s like God with a side of comedy hour! {He didn’t say that, I am.}) Actually living as a Christian Monday through Saturday is the hard part. What are you doing in your life that separates you from the norm? He gave examples of “weird” people in the church: A couple that are selling their house and donating it to the church and an eleven year old kid that gets up early every Sunday to get there at 6:30am to help set everything up were a couple that stuck out. He listed a few weird things he does that helps him stay focused and avoid temptation. Admittedly, I thought this was hilarious because I got caught up in the show last weekend… He said he doesn’t watch shows with naked people doing things to avoid thinking lustful thoughts. His example… Game of Thrones.

Honestly, after Drogo died, that killed the lustfulness of the show for me. I loved him and Daenerys as a couple, I almost quit watching when he died!

Ok! Back on point! He also said to write this down “If you want what normal people have, do what normal people do. If you want what few people have, do what few people do.”

If you’ve seen me, you know I don’t exactly fit the “norm.” It’s not all about my person style though. I think a lot of people don’t like me because I’m not afraid to share my opinion (Note: Choosing not to share it is different from being afraid to share it.) I’m honest to a fault and tend to offend people when I tell them things they don’t want to hear/admit to. My son will absolutely not grow up to be an entitled brat! Manners still matter, even if most of the kids in his generation aren’t taught them (I’m admittedly guilty of having poor manners of my own, but we don’t play monkey see, monkey do in my house.) I nursed my son until he was 14 months old (It’s awesome that nursing is starting to be normalized!) I believe in the husband being head of household (Oddly enough, that can be Biblically supported!) It’s considered “weird” that I ask my husband if I can spend money on things. Most women I’ve met make condescending noises and promptly announce how they’ll spend money on whatever they want and to hell with what their husband thinks about it.

After all the things I do differently and I see the positive affect it’s had on my life, I’ve come to the realization that what I do is normal and what other people are doing is weird. I’ve picked my battles with my son wisely and I’ve be consistent in what I say to him. Thanks to that, I have a generally well-mannered child. I’ve watched other parents do what’s now considered normal and cave to their child’s every whim. Thanks to that, they have spoiled, manipulative, entitled little brats that no one wants to be around. I’ve conceded to my husband’s wishes concerning our household over the last five years. We discuss things and try to meet in the middle or at least come to an understanding about each other’s view, but in the end, my husband decides the action plan. We have arguments like anyone does, but we’re happy. We’re secure in our relationship and our marriage. There’s no ultimatums, no threats of leaving. I’ve seen couples that both try to dominate the relationship. It’s like watching two rams during mating season! Butting heads until one gets a concussion! They’re not secure in their relationship. I’ve heard people talk about the “what ifs” and the “if X happens, then I’ll do Y” in an attempt to know where the cards will fall. That’s not healthy and that shouldn’t be considered normal.

FYI: NONE of you know the couple I’m referring to above (Unless you’re one of my neighbors, you may have met them in the past when my son was allowed to spend time with them!) I don’t want any ill-feelings to come out of this. I RARELY interact with the above mentioned couple because of their horrendous behavior and absolutely intolerable daughter.

I LOVE this statement!!! It’s also the best way to put my “take away” from this sermon. It was too awesome to break down into my own witty little take-aways.: There is no such thing as cookie cutter weird. God has a custom weird for you!

You’re not weird or even creating your own norm if you’re copying someone else! You’re just a copy cat!

bethisguy

Evening Meeting!

I was late to the evening meeting and totally rationalized my tardiness! I was early for the first two evening meetings, so that makes it ok, right? Not! I felt really bad about it… I got home from morning service, intended to lay down for a couple hours… I even set an alarm, which I turned off in my sleep when it went off.

The meeting was focused on discovering your personality type and your spiritual gifts. So, I’ll share my results with you!

The personality types are divided into D, I, S, C… I’m a C/I and C/S. I tied for I and S as my secondary personality trait. Apparently C is described as Melancholy. Webster defines melancholy as: an abnormal state attributed to black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression; depression of spirits; a pensive mood. (Bonus definition: irascibility – having or showing a tendency to be easily angered.) I’d generally agree with that definition. I’m a realist with a pessimistic view of things. I freely admit that I have a short fuse! There’s no point in not admitting it, because it’s typically obvious when stupid happens around me. My secondary personality traits are described as follows: S – Steady, stable, analytical, people oriented, and introverted. I think it’s applicable. While I somewhat like people, I’m happiest just people watching. I like to analyze other people’s interactions and behavior rather than interact with them. I think that explains how it can be people oriented, but introverted at the same time. I – Influential, interested in people, witty, easygoing, outgoing, and people oriented. Having recently had someone tell me they looked up to me was a little shocking. I don’t try to be influential, I’m just unapologetically me. For “interested in people,” I think referring back to the people oriented explanation of S would suffice.

As for my spiritual gifts! Craftsmanship and Discernment are my top two (They said to mark the top five.) I think craftsmanship is a dead giveaway! I do everything arts oriented I can get my hands on! I sew, knit, crochet, turn wood, carve wood, paint, draw, apparently write, my husband and I do a lot of home repairs on our own (We tore out our shower to the studs, including the concrete shower pan and we’re building it back! It’s waiting for a couple more tiles and grout)… I know there’s other things I do, but I can’t think of them right now. Discernment as defined in the booklet I was provided for these evening meetings is: The gift of discernment is the divine strength or ability to spiritually identify falsehood and to distinguish between right and wrong motives and situations. Aside from the divinity of it, I can totally agree with that. If you are or have lied to me, I probably know, but haven’t called you out on it. I don’t know why, but I can read it on people’s faces when they’re lying! I also like to analyze motives, there’s something fascinating about what prompts people to do things and then I like to analyze whether or not it’s a just motive. My third gift is Service. I think Biblically it focuses on service to people because all other creatures on earth were biblically put here for us and are beneath us. I value animals over people because the majority of animals are incapable of malicious deeds. Sure, we humanize our dogs and say they chewed the couch cushion to get back at us for leaving them while we went to work, but that’s not true and you should know it. They probably have separation anxiety and you should be working to overcome that, not demonizing the deed. As far as people, my soft spot is veterans. I’ll give my last dollar to a vet that asks for it. My dad, the majority of men on my dad’s side of the family, my mom, and my father-in-law are all veterans. I don’t agree with the motives of our nation, but our troops took an oath to our Constitution. That’s all that matters to me. They took an oath to uphold my freedoms. My fourth gift, Prophecy and is defined as: The gift of prophecy is the divine strength or ability to boldly speak and bring clarity to scriptural and doctrinal truth, in some cases foretelling God’s plan. I don’t believe in God, so I’m fairly torn on this one. How the hell can I bring any sort of clarity to something I don’t believe in?! I think the only justification I can glean from this is that I’ve used it to benefit those that do believe. From what I do know of scripture I’ve had incredible conversations about faith. Maybe in speaking to those about it, questioning their conviction, bringing up hard topics has made them analyze their own faith and build a stronger bond with God. Foretelling God’s plan is a little odd too… I knew my grandfather would die or maybe I just wished it so hard it happened (He deserved it, you can ask me about it if you want, but I won’t blast it across the interwebs.) I knew my neighbor in Tennessee would be murdered by her boyfriend (That’s truly haunting and I honestly tried to convince her to leave him. Important side not: If you’re the victim of domestic violence, please seek help. It ONLY escalates, I promise.) I also called twins and a failed epidural for a friend’s pregnancy. The last one, Leadership and it’s defined as: The gift of leadership if the divine strength or ability to influence people at their level while directing and focusing them on the big picture, vision, or idea. Seriously?! I don’t want to be a leader!! *insert toddler-like stomping* If you want to follow what I’m doing or where I’m going, great, but I’m not trying to influence anyone! Maybe a little in the way of greater acceptance for people, but generally, nope! Not interested in any kind of leadership role! A lot of the time, I can’t even make it to the end of a project for myself! How would I lead people to end of something? If you could see all the half done projects I have boxed up around my house, you’d laugh! I have a blanket sitting in a box in my closet that I started over five years ago, guess what! It’s not finished! So yeah, not sure how I ended up with leadership as one of my gifts.

So there you have it people! My Sunday was full of awesomesauce! I’m still beyond thrilled with my decision to have my son attend this church! I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series of sermons! I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone deliver a sermon and keep everyone so attentive! You can’t help but listen! And if I’m taking stuff away from it, the people who actually believe have to be leaving feeling some kind of incredible! They’re so lucky to have this team of Pastors!

*Insert Witty Title*

I’m a horrible person, I know! I’m a day late updating and this post will go live later than promised!

Without further ado!

Sunday Service!

I liked the overall message. I think to fully grasp the message or have it truly resonate with me I’d have to really believe, but I liked it. For me, it focused on not giving up because maybe if you had hung in another hour, another day, another month you would’ve succeeded. You fell just short of your goal because you didn’t hang in quite long enough. There’s definitely a thin line to walk with that, when the risks of continuing greatly outweigh the benefits of soldiering on, but in general, if you start toward your goal, see it through. The Pastor used the example that Jesus was dead for three days before rising again. What if his disciples had given up on the second day? They would’ve missed the glory of him rising again.

The Pastor also talked about having compassion for those around you when you’re going through a bad day. There’s a reason “misery loves company” is a saying, try not to add to its validity. He used the example that Jesus was going through his worst day and was crucified between two thieves. He brought one of them to heaven with him (I’m unfamiliar with the details of how one thief was deemed more deserving than the other.) I know almost everyday starts badly for me. I’m a nasty person when I wake up in the morning. It doesn’t matter if I have a steaming cup of coffee or a five hour energy shot waiting for me, give me an hour after I get up! I try my hardest not to take it out on my husband and my son. They didn’t go anything to deserve my morning wrath. I make a conscious effort to be nice and smiling when I wake up my son. I make an effort to respond nicely to my husband when he tries to start a conversation when I haven’t even been out of bed ten minutes! Homicidal pyromaniac best describes how I feel when I roll out of bed. I want to kill the world with fire and sip my coffee as I watch it all burn… So, when I tell you I make a serious effort not to drag those around me into that misery, I mean it! I think if you take nothing else away from my blog today, I hope this is it. You’re not the only one having a bad day and just because you’re having one, doesn’t mean those around you should too. Maybe, if we reach back to the first sermon I attended about transparency and you shared why you’re having a bad day, you might find someone to lean on and make your day a little more bearable.

The Pastor gave advise on the concept of worrying. It’s unreasonable, unnatural, unhelpful and unnecessary. I generally agree. In the faithful, it makes total sense to completely abolish worry as much as humanly possible. As far as the Bible says, worry is sinful. It’s questioning God’s plan for you and worrying that in creating you/your life’s plan, He forgot something and now you need to worry about it. Like I said, I generally agree. I don’t believe in a God to rest my faith in that all will come to fruition. I try not to worry though. Why? I can be productive and think of solutions to my problems, I can communicate those issues with my husband and we can work toward an end result, but just sitting around worrying is pointless. The situation, whatever it is, is there. It will need to be dealt with and unless you’re actively doing something to change it, it’ll still need to be dealt with whenever you get around to it. Just sitting and worrying all day only serves to eat away at you, mentally and physically. Worry causes anxiety and too much anxiety can lead to chemical imbalances. I don’t need to believe in God to know that.

The Pastor referenced Matthew 6:25-34 to support his sermon.

After service there were believer’s baptisms. As far as I understand, it’s different from having your infant baptized. This is for people who are making their decision to dedicate their life to living a Christ-like life public. A friend of mine said she cries every time she watches baptisms. I was hoping for some sort of emotional reaction, but it didn’t come.

My son said he learned about grace. He doesn’t seem to talk about the kids service too much. He gives me the gist of it, but never elaborates. I had the youth Pastor explain baptism to him. He said he wants to be baptized. He saw one of his friends baptized. I explained that it’s not just something he does because his friends are doing it and he thinks it’s cool. It has meaning, it’s a commitment and he needs to really take time to decide if it’s a commitment he’s ready for. It gave my husband and I something to talk about. I leave all of those decisions up to my husband. He thinks our son should wait until he’s a little older and more fully understands what’s happening.

Evening Meeting!

So, last week I attended the first meeting of this “sort”. It was mainly focused on the church’s mission, their budget, and certain projects they’re working on. This week, it was more focused on faith and how you can build a relationship with God/Jesus. I honestly don’t want to write about it. It didn’t do much for me. Even listening to others talk about their relationship with God and Jesus was a little awkward for me. I didn’t participate in the faith based talk. It was foreign to me. I would’ve had as much to add in a language I don’t speak as I did last night.

The one thing I was interested in were the small groups the church offers. I do want to join a Bible study group. Like last night, I’d probably listen more than anything. I want a group that discusses the Bible. I suppose I’ll sign up for one and go from there. I’ll attend and if it’s something I can participate in, I’ll continue with it.

Side Note: No, I don’t do anything writing related as a career. I’ve been asked, so I figured I’d put it out there. AND I created a Facebook page. Mostly to avoid intermediate updates like the one that happened last Tuesday. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/atheistmominafaithfulfamily?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

**PSA: My husband and I were talking yesterday between the morning service and when I attended an evening meeting at the church. I don’t know what anyone expects from the evolution of this blog, but I have to say it now… This blog will NEVER NEVER NEVER evolve to live updates during service! I’m not entirely sure why my husband felt the need to tell me it shouldn’t go there, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Nonetheless, anyone hoping for an evolution in that direction, not happening. I respect the church, the people also attending the service and the Pastor’s effort to write the sermon too much to do something like that during service. /End PSA**

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blogging for a Quick Message

I know, it’s freakin’ Tuesday! Why am I updating my blog?! I promise it’s just a quick update!

Well, a couple things…

The first thing is and isn’t church related. After the incredible turnout among my neighbors for Easter Sunday, I came up with an awesome idea for a Christmas present for them. I sent out texts today letting them know that the more they attend Sunday service, the more they’ll be a part of the present. As much as I’d love to share my secret with you, I can’t! A couple of my neighbors know about my blog! I’m stoked out of my mind about my idea and when it comes to fruition, I’ll share what I did with you.

Second thing! While speaking with the Junior Pastor (Yea, I haven’t verified if I’m using the right terminology, but we’re going to go with it,) he offered me a children’s Bible for my son. Normally, I’d refuse the offer, but I’ve been bouncing around trying to find which children’s Bible would be best. So, I figured why not take the advice of the Junior Pastor? They’ll have an additional offering in the bucket when it comes around on Sunday to cover the cost of the Bible. Whether it goes to purchasing more Bibles so people who cannot now, nor in the foreseeable future, afford a Bible can have one or if it goes to the awesome things the church is involved in, I’m cool with it.

Now! Reigning back in to my point! I got to chat with a woman I met at Serve Saturday. Apparently people from the church are reading my rambling! I was super pleasantly surprised at the dialogue it opened up with her!

Excuse me for a moment while I address the church members reading this:

KEEP ROCKIN’ ON WITH YOUR BAD SELVES! (And by bad, I mean incredibly awesome.)

Now back to my less than regularly scheduled blogging!

I’ve known for years that there can be an open dialogue about religion and an individuals lack of faith. I have a friend that I’ve known for over thirteen years that I talk to about religion all the time. She grew up Catholic and converted to Baptist as an adult when she got married (You know who you are and you’re probably reading this.) We’ve approached the discussion from a place of mutual respect, neither of us have aimed to shove our beliefs down the other’s throat. Ah! Mutual respect and mutual acceptance. What I didn’t know was that the same discussion could be had on a larger scale. Not that I stand up in front of people and talk about it, but that so many people from the same church could have that open conversation. It’s truly mind-blowing. Every time I get to really talk to someone new (New to me, not new to the church) from the church, I find myself loving it more and more. I definitely chose the right place for my son to grow in his faith. I want his faith to be a connection to other people, not a wall and a reason to lock people on the other side of it.

Ok! I promised it’d be short! No more intermediate posts before Sunday! Pinky swear and all that.

If I Find God, It’ll be at This Church!

My family and I have had a very busy weekend! I’m kind of being lazy about my blog by lumping it all together so I’ll at least make little subtitles.

Serve Saturday!

Serve Saturday is a function put on by the church the first Saturday of every month. They have a “block party” at a park near where I live. They offer pancakes (How I discovered the church), clothes for those in need, and it’s a pretty comfortable networking opportunity. I call it networking because it’s a relaxed atmosphere to meet people from the church. I got to meet several new people courtesy of introductions made by two lovely ladies I met on my first trip to the church!

  • I got to “reconnect” with the guy that is really the catalyst to me choosing this church for my son. If it weren’t for his offer of pancakes, no religious strings attached, I probably would’ve overlooked the church. He was a pretty relaxed guy. He openly discussed religion, my lack thereof, and ways people from religious organizations could improve their attempts to bring people into the church. It was a pleasant, candid conversation. Just like the day he offered pancakes, there was absolutely no feeling of being judged for my lack of faith. My son also seems to think he’s a pretty cool guy.
  • I got to meet this pretty awesome woman who was, from what I understand, in charge of the pancake making! I’ve actually seen her at my son’s school before for a family day. I remember her socks! I’m kind of a sock fanatic. Like everyone else I had met, she was really nice and open to my family helping out next month for Serve Saturdays.
  • The youth pastor! I definitely wanted to meet him. I had emailed him about possible children’s services focused on forgiveness – Explaining to my son that instead of trying to be meaner, he should forgive kids that are mean because they’re probably struggling with an insecurity of their own. So, I explained that I’d prefer he learn those lessons through church because I’m not familiar enough with the religious “verbiage” to convey the message accurately or without bias to my son. Well, I had heard back once, but didn’t after my response. I thought I had run off the pastor with my lack of faith! Luckily, the misunderstanding was clarified. He was a pleasant guy. His testimony was meaningful, which matters to me. I’ve had a doorstep preacher give me his testimony about him playing a prank and hiding a puppet and getting fired. The details aren’t important, if you’re looking for convincing testimony, it wouldn’t have been from that guy. This youth pastor though, truly interesting testimony. I don’t feel like it’s my place to share it, so you’ll have to take my word on it.
  • I also got to meet the lead pastor! Do pastors have groupies? Can that be something that gets started? Not the icky, rock-n-roll groupies! But I think the pastor is awesome! As I said last Sunday, extremely personable guy! Even one-on-one. He’s not intimidating. I had to compliment him on his enthusiasm for service! He laughed at my husband’s reluctance to attend a church with a band.

Easter Service!

I have to say, even as someone who doesn’t believe, this church is feeling more and more like home every time I go! I love the judgement-free atmosphere. I saw everyone from a woman in gothic attire to men in the typical Easter suits. People were young, old and in-between. My husband commented that he saw more tattooed people at church than he has at Bike Week! Sarcasm, of course, but there were a lot of people with tattoos and no one batted an eye! I thought it was especially welcoming that everyone I had met yesterday at Serve Saturday remembered me and said hi! I enjoyed introducing my husband to everyone I had met. Cheesy as it may be, but I was so happy he had come with us I had to introduce him to everyone so they knew he was there.

Service was, as expected, focused on Jesus rising from the dead. Although not along the lines of our sins as the pastor intended, but a lot of what he said today resonated with me! So, like I’ve been doing the past couple Sundays, I’m going to share some take aways from service today! By the way, I do intend to make that a part of every Sunday blog: Take aways from that day’s service.

We are Judas – Yea, that guy who betrayed Jesus! The pastor said that Judas put too much faith in religion. After he had betrayed Jesus, he tried to take the coins he had gotten for doing so back to the leaders of his religion and tried to undo his betrayal. They told him it was already done and no longer their problem. I honestly don’t know how that part points out his overabundance of faith in religion, but if you’re more in tune with Christianity than I am, I figured I’d include that point. The pastor said that God’s commandments shouldn’t be looked at like a strict set of guidelines, instead, a man of God would simply find that it was easy to live by them. I think a lot of people put too much faith in religion. This resonates with me more as a victim of those people than a person afflicted with having done it. I don’t fall neatly within their religious moral code so they dislike me or choose to be rude and make snide remarks. It reminded me of the picture I’ve included below. I saw it on FaceBook not too long ago. I think this church is the living embodiment of the picture’s sentiment. 1010617_10152146093098810_1710449867_nWe are Pilate – Pilate was the judge that struck the gavel and condemned Jesus, but when riots were about to break out, he washed his hands in front of the people and said that Jesus’ blood wasn’t on his hands. He freakin’ condemned him! No matter how he rationalized it to himself, he was still just as culpable. I think this definitely translates into everyday life, for believers and non-believers. You’ll have to live with the guilt of your actions because they’ll have repercussions. It’s better to own them, admit your responsibility, and work toward bettering yourself. Try to avoid making the same mistakes. Make your mistakes mean something, learn from them! Be a better person tomorrow than you were today and you’re winning at life.

We are Barabbas – I think this also applies to every living person on the earth! Barabbas was supposed to be crucified, but Jesus was instead and Barabbas was set free. He never thanked Jesus for taking his place. He never showed gratitude. I think we all have our moments of ungratefulness. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point in our lives where we don’t take something for granted, but we can aim to lessen those occasions. Realize that you’re not owed ANYTHING and when good things come to you, be grateful. Whether you’re grateful to the person who gave you a gift or grateful to the God you believe in for blessing you with the good things in your life. The more you’re grateful for in life, the happier you’ll be. Whether it’s a new job (Minimum wage is better than unemployment!) or finding an empty bed in a homeless shelter (A roof over your head and a bed is better than outside on the concrete/grass), be grateful.

After Service Festivities!

Wow! It was truly astonishing what the church had done for the people! Food trucks, bounce houses, an Easter egg hunt with over 10k eggs, face painting, and a mechanical bull! It was incredible! Over 2,000 people came to church today! I had enough time to accompany my son to the Easter egg hunt, wait in line for tacos with my husband, and take my son to a bounce house. My neck, my feet and my knees were KILLING me by 2pm when the event was winding down. There were people everywhere! It was absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, because I spent so much time in line for food, I really don’t have much else about my time during the Easter festivities to share. I chatted with a few friends, but that’s about the extent of it.

Evening Meeting

It wasn’t called that, but I’m afraid too many event specific names might give away the church’s identity. Anywho, the purpose of this meeting was to learn about the church’s mission and the message they want to share. A quick note: They fed us dinner! It was delicious! I had chicken alfredo, some other kind of pasta, and two espresso cupcakes!

The important stuff! The pastor started it off with mildly offensive jokes about nearly every Christian denomination. They all started with the “How many -insert religious group- does it take to change a lightbulb?” They were hilarious to me and quite frankly, if you can’t laugh at the jokes, you take yourself way too seriously. The pastor said the church wouldn’t be for those who were thoroughly offended, most likely because he makes a lot of jokes during his sermons and they’d probably not enjoy it.

I found one part particularly interesting: How to Win People to Christ. It’s not randomly knocking on doors, because let’s face it, no one likes it! He gave us four steps – Accept the personal responsibility (As a Christian you’re supposed to want to bring Jesus and people together), build a personal relationship (Actually knowing someone!), sharing your personal story or testimony (No one wants to hear some random verses you like, it’s more compelling when you tell people how your relationship with God/Jesus changed your life), and finally, personally invite someone (Self-explanatory). Oddly enough, I’m doing that with a friend! I REALLY, REALLY love this church. A friend of mine had a bad experience with a church she went to and hasn’t been back to any church. She’s told me how involved she was, so I think Christianity is important to her. So, I think she’d really like this church! I have taken responsibility for trying to get her back in church, I already have a personal relationship with her, I’ve shared my testimony for the church (I don’t believe in God, so I can’t be a witness to that), and I’ve personally invited her to go with me! A woman I met my first time going told me I’m evangelizing. I tell anyone who seems interested in church, but hasn’t found a place they’re comfortable. If I, as an atheist, can feel comfortable in this church, I think anyone can!

I also met the Junior Pastor (I think that was his title). While I greatly appreciate the Lead Pastor’s enthusiasm, I like the Junior Pastor’s demeanor more for someone I might talk to about faith. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of believing, I want to talk to someone who seems like an analytical person. While I’m not entirely sure he’d identify with that title, he seemed to understand my lack of faith being rooted in such things as over analyzing. I think it’d be neat to find someone I could have a discussion with. Maybe one day this blog could be called Following a Faithful Family: How supporting my son’s faith helped me find mine. Whether this Junior Pastor is the catalyst to my Christian journey or not, I’d bet if I found God, it’d be at this church.

Some really awesome points about the things the church is involved in: An organization in Africa setting up medical care facilities, a school, and then a church! They’re also involved with another organization helping people in Uganda that are victims of human-trafficking.

On a nifty budget note: While most churches allow for 50 to 60% of their income to go toward the salaries of their staff pastors, this church has a cap at 35% of the church’s income.

Hope you had a happy Easter!

Service by a Comedic Pastor

I picture pastors as very serious individuals. Suits, ties, and extremely composed. Well, the pastor at the church I attend doesn’t fit into any of that!

They open the service with a lot of singing. Their band is great and surprisingly, I can enjoy the music for the sake of music. While looking around, to my surprise, I found the pastor jumping around to the music. The expression on his face said he was singing along at the top of his lungs. It was nice to see a pastor not putting on some uptight image, he was really getting into the music and the message! As the music died down, he took his place on stage to lead the church in prayer. Of course, I don’t pretend to pray, so I was watching as he spoke. He had this giddy, happy looking smile on his face like he knew every word he spoke was true.

I don’t have to believe to appreciate a pastor that truly believes what he’s preaching. I think it’s gives him an edge on delivering his message to those of his congregation. He can connect with people, he can put it in terms everyone can connect with. He talked a lot about not questioning God’s plan. He said God has never been taken by surprise. He’s never “just thought of something.” He’s simply always known. He said there’s simply some things you’ll never understand on this side of heaven. This is where the pastor included his seemingly signature humor. Unfortunately, the only example I had room to write down was – Why are things you mail using ground delivery called shipments and things taken by boat called cargo? You’ll never know and you’ll also never understand God’s plan for you until you’ve made it to the other side of heaven.

The focus of service today was the book of Job. Now, if you’re absolutely not familiar with the Bible, Job was a “blameless” man. He lived his life in service to God and was rewarded for it. He was wealthy, had a wonderful family, a lot of land, and livestock. One day Satan approached God and presented the argument that it’s easy for Job to be blameless when he’s never had his faith tested. God believed Job to be unshakeable in his faith, so, he allowed Satan to test him. Satan wiped out Job’s livestock, killed his children, and his crops. Job maintained his faith. Satan once again approached God and was granted permission to “touch” Job. He was cursed with boils and some other afflictions I don’t remember. After thirty-something chapters of his friends and family telling him to curse God for abandoning him, he finally asked why. Ultimately, there’s a happy ending, but I don’t remember the details of it.

So! I have a couple take aways from today. To be honest, none of them resonate as deeply as last week’s take away, but they’re still worth sharing.

Knowledge of your ignorance is the first step toward true wisdom: In the case of religion and the focus of today’s service, the point is that you need to accept that you’re ignorant to God’s plan for you. So, stop asking why and accept God’s plan as it’s revealed to you. I think as a practical lesson, if you think you’re all-knowing, you’re probably more ignorant than you know. We all have room to grow.

Maybe your pain is so you can come out on the other side and help someone else: I guess, religiously, it’s just a suggestion for why you might be enduring your current situation. Something to toss around in your head instead of questioning God’s plan for you. As a non-believer though, I can see it. You can’t truly empathize with someone unless you’ve endured pain yourself. You’re also more likely to accept help from someone who has been at a low place in their life rather than someone who’s been living large their entire life. It’s a positive take on “misery loves company.” Not so much dragging someone else down into your misery, but sharing the misery you’ve endured and persevered through so someone else can see it can be survived.

Think eternal – Your bad day is just a moment: Out of everything today, I think that’s the most profound take-away from the service today. No matter what it is, a terminal diagnosis, laid off, or whatever… It’s temporary. I’m not saying it won’t take effort to overcome and maybe death will be your escape from it, but in the grand scheme of timelines, your suffering only happened for a moment. Look forward to the time after it!

God speaks during storms so you listen: I think this resonated the least for me. I’ve been through some pretty crappy storms and still haven’t been spoken to. I think I would’ve listened. I think for those that may have had faith and lost it somewhere along the way, this could truly be meaningful. God could be your eye of the storm, a calm moment to let you know you’ve got support to get through the rest of the storm.

A Church Even an Atheist Can Endorse

I was at the dollar store one day and overheard a man tell the cashier he was a pastor at a local church. I had been looking for a church for my son to attend, but I had to be comfortable with the message they were giving.

I asked the man where his church was and while he was telling me about his church I politely explained I don’t “have the faith,” but my son does. “Jesus loves you anyway” was his response and yet another church was crossed of the list of possibilities.

Last Sunday, March 15, 2015, I finally took my son to church! I found out about the church through PANCAKES! The church has “Serve Saturdays” once a month. This particular Saturday they were going around offering pancakes to everyone in my neighborhood. Like always, I politely explained that I don’t believe and wasn’t interested in listening to their pitch (I’m not a fan of doorstep preachers.) They said that’s ok and they still wanted to give me pancakes. No “Jesus loves you anyway,” no nasty looks, no immediate tangent on their personal testimony to God’s existence…

My friend and her sons attend the church, so last weekend I dropped them and my son off at church. I went a little early to pick them up and spoke with some people about the church. I explained I wanted a place for my son to worship. The ladies I spoke with were very friendly, never skipped a beat even when my dirty non-believing secret came out. We were still invited to the church. Again, not a single person tried to shove it down my throat!

So, I went this Sunday. I have to say, I was a little creeped out. I get it, these people are deeply convinced that God exists, but I was half expecting people to start going into convulsions and fall on the ground (No one did.) The pastor made the sermon entertaining. He joked, he was serious, he was personable, and I think, if you believe in it, he probably delivered a powerful message. They’re doing a series on how to live through a bad day.

The pastor asked everyone to write a secret they’re keeping on a portion of the paper they provide and put it in the offering bucket as they pass it around. My secret: I’m envious of people who believe and have faith in God. I think it’s extremely intriguing that some how they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists. I don’t think I even have that much faith that I’m awake and not dreaming all of this!

If there was any chance of me believing, I think today would’ve done it. I know, cliche, my first time attending church as an adult and getting filled with the spirit of Christ… Well, it didn’t happen, but if it were ever possible, it would’ve happened today!

My friend had been taking notes on the sermon the entire time, I even gave her my paper for sermon notes because she ran out of room on her own paper. At the bottom is a perforated portion where I suppose you’re supposed to write comments on the sermon and drop it into the offering bucket. This is where the pastor had asked us all to write our secret. We weren’t prepared for it so the note that ran onto this portion for my friend was “You’re only as sick as the secrets you keep.” She tore this portion off anyway and wrote her secret on it. Then, the pastor asked that we share our secret with someone we know. Like he had been preaching, you can’t get help when you’re struggling unless you’re transparent enough to ask for help. Her secret… She relapsed. I felt honored she had shared her secret with me. I think she’s an incredible person, even while struggling with drug addiction. She’s gathered the strength to face it and she’s been working on her recovery.

After service let out she asked if I thought she should talk to the pastor. If you’re a part of a church and you believe, I say use your church! Not in the selfish, narcissistic manner of abusive use, but it’s a resource to be used! I reminded her of the sermon he had given. He’s there to help, but can’t if he doesn’t know you’re struggling. I was extremely impressed that she took my advice and his sermon to heart when she asked the pastor for help. It was also truly impressive to see he never seemed to judge her. He immediately offered the aide of Christian counselors and told her about a recovery group the church plans to start later this year. I have high hopes for her with the spiritual portion of her recovery being fulfilled!

Afterward, we got the kids from children’s church. My son came bouncing out of the room. He said they talked about worshipping God. I haven’t really gotten into asking him more questions about it. I’m not comfortable with an in-depth religious conversation with him yet. I really want religion or a lack thereof to be his choice. When I have more answers from attending church, I might ask more about his day at church. Until then, I’m satisfied he enjoys the experience and he’s excited for next Sunday.

My take away from the day: You’re only as sick as the secrets you keep. You don’t have to believe in God to know that. Your friends and family are just as much of a support system as a church is. They don’t know you’re struggling unless you’re willing to make yourself vulnerable and ask for the help you need. Don’t drown when the life raft is within reach.

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