Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Love Letter to Barksdale

So I should be packing. I really should get off of my couch and get to my bedroom and begin doing as much as possible. There's not a lot of time left and even though I have done so much, it's been mushrooming. I look around and it seems like I haven't done anything. But I'm finding I can't do much more right now.

These past few weeks I have spent so much time in prayer, tears, and desperation. I feel like God is leading the way, but I am constantly pulling and clinging to what is familiar. I know where He is leading is right, it always is. I also know in a few weeks this panic feeling will leave and I will be able to rest in the assurance that my God makes no mistakes. That His hand is always sovereign. He sees the big picture, whereas I see a little snapshot. Doesn't make it easier,  but it does make it worth while.

Tomorrow I say goodbye to my church and church family. I've prayed for strength but just thinking about it sends me a little deeper into overwhelming sadness. Barksdale Baptist church has been more than a church. It has been my family. They have taught me the Bible, shown me the grace of God, and allowed God to work in them to such an extent that I cannot image another church like it. Through childhood, mistakes, and sins,  I've been surrounded by a forgiving family. People that believe in second chances,  that truly live the Red Letters, and are always eager to help people grow.

Most of the church members will never read this, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't need to be said. There have been men that have been a living example to my husband about what it means to be the spiritual head of the household. There have been women who love and nurture my son, praying for him to have a future grounded in the love of Christ. This is a church family that doesn't need to simply preach the love of Christ, because they know it, they live it, and they show it to those of us lucky enough to worship alongside them.

I've been here since I was in third grade maybe? I've helped my mom with Wednesday night suppers. I've seen us move buildings, follow the Lord's leading, and grow in ways I never thought possible. I've been so lucky to worship with my dad leading me. For years my mom taught my Sunday school and only left to teach Kolton's. I've sat next to best friends, strangers,  and people who have become my family. At my wedding and baby showers I came home and cried at the outpouring that was so above expectations that I couldn't handle it.

This is will be the first time,  other than my time in college, that I will have to change churches. My heart aches at the thought of telling all of my dear family goodbye. Of walking out of the doors of the church that grew me. Gave me the courage to find my niche and encouraged me. Bible studies, fellowships, and festivals aren't just precious memories,  they were learning experiences about what Christ expects from His bride. All of this first hand. Everything gained. Nothing was ever lost by walking through those doors. Every Sunday I felt the Lord, I saw Him on the faces of all the dear people who helped raised me.

As I sat on my knees crying my eyes out I pray for comfort. For understanding. This church raised me, but in a way it's been a crutch. I will always be Rob and Robins daughter. I will always be underneath the shadow of what I've grown from. Tomorrow God is going to grow me. He's allowing me to take all of the love and strength bestowed to me by these wonderful people and challenge me to live it!  To push my boundaries. Find my own ministries. To lean on Him and acknowledge that the dreams of who I want to be in Him, don't have to be dreams. I know if I follow Him, I will grow into the Christian woman He expects me to be. It's time to leave my crutch at Barksdale and forge new relationships. To find new areas to work in His will.

This is where I grew up. Where I found me. I may not have been saved there but I came to know the Lord in such an intimate amazing way that I will never be the same. I feel like Moses leaving the mountain. Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the Lord indeed. In the face of every person who has loved us in that church. You will never know the impact you've had on my life. I hope I make you proud when I move. But I will always keep you close to my heart, in my prayers, and on my mind.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Encouraging a Selfless Experience

Recently,  I've read or come across so many people in our culture that claim to share the message of Christ,  yet miss the mark. Whether it's ignorance with misinterpreting scripture, love of self that makes them willing to exult themselves above God, or its blatantly leading other people astray by your own ambitions, none of this is acceptable. Since our world is living in this terrible, horrible place of politically correctness, it's so easy to read something and think, "Wow,  that sounds great". The truth is, the majority of people in the mainstream media are wolves in sheep's clothing. Then some are blatantly wolves and do not care to hide their selfishness. Wanting to be on a pedestal. The moment that anything you write, say,  or share becomes about making a name for yourself and not honoring God, you allow the devil to work his way into your message.

I think recently, especially the more politically correct people try to be, the more we hear questionable things. I'm sure I will offend people, make people hate me, but this has been on my heart for quite sometime. This post has been written and deleted so many times because I don't want to upset people. However, I can't put it off anymore.

I want to say, I do not stand with hating people. I do not stand with mistreating others. I surely do not stand with ostracizing people because of their sins. Christ died on the cross and conquered death to overcome EVERY sin. Not just sins I think are forgivable,  or you deem worthy. The cross took care of everything. All you have to do is ask Jesus to save you, and you can be forgiven. However,  at some point, especially recently, this has been altered.

Rob Bell wrote a book called Love Wins which essentially says that God would not send anyone to hell. That a loving God would not go through the process of the cross just to allow people to go to hell. Even the Bible says that every name will confess the power of Christ. That is so far from the truth that it's painful to even read. It makes me sad because I know that numerous people will read this, think is sounds great, and follow that wrong theology.  The truth is so much greater than that. Yes we serve a loving God. Only a loving God would take the price of sin upon himself. Only a loving God would make forgiveness and the way to heaven as easy as it is. Only a loving God would die FOR EVERY SIN AND EVERY PERSON.

However God believes in free will. We have the choice to accept the Bible and Christ's forgiveness in its entirety. We also have the choice to live as if he doesn't exist. We can choose to put ourselves above God, worship man and to risk our eternity. We have the ability to choose a life that exults ourselves and to forgo the cross. If we choose the latter, just like every choice there are consequences. The consequence is an eternity separated from Christ. Our God is a jealous God. We will reap what we sow if we live a life that is completely negligent of Christ and all He has done.

We are not bought with a price, just to lay back and allow things to fall as they will. I choose every day to wake up and in my error filled humanity to live my life against the entirety of the Bible. I've slipped up, I've lived in sin. I have had consequences of sin that were visible to the world around me. However I've chosen to use those as ways to point back to Christ.

I think our culture has bought into so many lies. The lie that if it makes you feel good, do it. The lie that church and those experiences are not for God, but to make us happy. The truth is, the Bible calls for a sacrifice of praise. That takes effort and work and if it is a true sacrifice,  then there is no place to exult yourself in it. We've bought into the lie of God hates the sin but loves the sinner. We are doing people around us a disservice by not saying that God judges the sinner. We live in a world, where you cannot point out sin without people accusing you of being hateful. This world that we are living in has blatant disregard for what the Bible lines out as sexual sins, immorality,  and evil doings. Selfish acts, self worship, and false teachings have become the norm.

I personally have a few people that just seeing their names make me cringe. Refusing to preach on hell or sin makes you a false teacher. I encourage you to be on point. To read and abide by the Bible in its entirety. Be leery of people who have a tendency to pick and choose scriptures. Know the difference between love in Christ and being afraid to step on toes. Encouragement is wonderful, but be careful not to fall prey to motivational type preachers. If your prayer and worship is being done to make you happy, and that is encouraged, please take a step back!  It's called sacrifice for a reason. Please do not fall prey to the self centered religious ideas that are all too common these days.