Put Your Jesus Where the Church Is

Thursday, October 21, 2010  ::   3 important comments

I love the Church. I’m often very saddened by horrible stories of condemnation, abuse, hypocrisy, and so on that come out of the church. The bible describes the church as the bride of Christ. This is a wonderful mystery that I often can’t quite wrap my brain around. I choose to believe and embrace that Jesus loves the church and gave his life up for her. People often tell me that they love Jesus, but hate the church. Every single time I hear these words, my soul cringes. I usually offer a sincere apology to the person who received wounds from the church. But, in the same breath I offer an apology to Jesus for his bride not representing who he truly is, what he desires for individuals, and what he desires for the world.

To be clear, when people say they love Jesus but hate the church it is like someone walking up to Chad and saying, “Man, I really like you. You’re funny, wise, a great communicator. You’ve given me so much help in my life. But, let me tell ya, I really hate your wife. Angel is just a pitiful excuse for a wife!” Can you imagine? It’s absurd! Chad wouldn’t be ok with it! In the same way, I’m convinced Jesus wants to love and defend his bride, even in all our sin and stupidity.

If you are not a follower of Jesus and you’ve had ugly experiences with the church, I am truly sorry. My only excuse is that humans make mistakes...often. Please don’t hold your experiences against Jesus anymore. Please give Jesus and a different church another chance. I’m willing to help you find a place to learn and worship in your area. But, to be involved in a church takes participation and commitment in order to feel connected. If you are offended, don’t hold it in. Speak up in a loving way and make sure you aren’t just looking to be offended. If they won’t listen to you, I would love to have a conversation with you.

If you are a follower of Jesus that is still angry at the church, it might be time to work towards forgiveness. Some of you have wounds that may be incredibly deep and may need to be scrapped out in order to find proper healing. Not to be offensive, but in the spirit of authenticity, some of your hurts may just be surface scratches. It’s time to forgive the way Christ forgave you. Ouch. I know. But, let’s just be real. Talk to a leader in the church. I pray whoever you choose to talk to is wise and humble, and that your wounds towards the church will be healed.

For the church bashing followers of Jesus out there... stop bashing and hating the bride of Christ! It’s just time to stop it. Be part of the solution! You will not find a group of perfect people. It does not exist. Commit yourself to a body of like-minded followers of Jesus and affect change! Jesus desires to use communities of faith to do his work. Yes, he can use individuals. But, the Bible says over and over that he will bring redemption to the world through Jesus, through the church, to the glory of God the Father.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

It's Been a Week

Friday, October 15, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Phew. I'm tired. It's been a long, busy, frustrating week. At one point, I even had an ugly cry...with snot and everything. Thank goodness Chad loves me and doesn't freak out when I cry like that.

I'm not going to give you details of the week. I know some of you want the dirt, but that's not the point of this post. The point is I'm glad it's over. I'm glad Chad loves me. I'm glad God is God and I don't have to be even though trying to be contributed to my long week.

"I pray to GOD-my life a prayer-and wait for what he'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching til morning, waiting and watching til morning."
Ps 130 The Message

I'm not stuck. Being a watchmen waiting til morning is possible because my hope is in God alone.

Sweet Reflection

Monday, October 04, 2010  ::   2 important comments

I can't believe it's been over a week since Retreat de Moxie. To the forty of you who joined me on the journey, thank you. There aren't words to express how you blessed me. Your attentiveness as I spoke was humbling. Watching some of you shimmy up the wall and telephone pole on the ropes course was challenging. Listening to some of you process the tremendous difficulty of feeling like a failure on the ropes course was heart-wrenching. Laughing with you because of our awesomeness in creating music videos was refreshing. Hearing how loud you lifted your voices to worship Jesus was inspiring. I so love the mountain top experiences we have each year on our retreat. Thank you for making this retreat wonderful!

As I was preparing each session, I continued to say to God, "I don't know. This stuff seems so simple. Shouldn't I say something more profound or holy or fancy?" But, I knew what he wanted me to speak about, so I chose to stay the course. Little did I know how much we all needed to hear about our barriers and his overwhelming, true, amazing love for us. I had no idea how much it would affect the entire group. Thank you all for pressing in, allowing him to speak to your hearts, for desiring to worship in spirit and truth. I hope and pray that you are truly changed, that you have a new experiential knowledge of who God is in your life. I pray that the connectedness you found with Second Mile women will compel you to commit and participate as we live out our values together.

Over the last week I've thought a lot about his love. I read John 4 so many times to prepare for the retreat. Somehow I just can't seem to leave the passage. Most days in the last week I continued to read it. It means more to me now. Imagining the look in Jesus' eyes as he talked to the Samaritan woman continues to cause me to pause, reflect, and ponder. I grew up in the church and often heard and sang that Jesus loves me. Preparing for this retreat, speaking about the depth of Christ's love for women, and seeing how it affected the 40 beautiful women listening has taken the understanding of this love to a new level in my soul.

For those of you who weren't fortunate enough to attend Retreat de Moxie with us, have you seriously pondered the love Jesus has for you? Not a Sunday School knowledge, not an I've-heard-it-a-thousand-times knowledge, not a that's-a-bunch-of-crap knowledge. A true, real, ask the God of the Universe if he can show you how much he loves you kind of knowledge. For my female readers, think about how much he loves women. We still live in a world where females are often treated like second class citizens, made fun of, paid less, treated like sex-objects, are under-appreciated. Think about how many women Jesus met and healed as he walked the earth. One woman a bunch of religious men tried to stone because she was an adulteress. Jesus knelt down by her and wrote something in the sand. What did he write? Did he tell her how much he loves her? We can't know what he wrote, but we can see that his posture changed for this woman. He knelt by her. He wrote in the dirt. I'm positive his face towards her was full of love and not condemnation.

One woman had been suffering from severe bleeding for 12 years. She simply reached out and touched his cloak with the hope of being healed. It was so crowded that day, but Jesus knew that someone had been changed by touching him. He called out to find out who did it. This woman fell at his feet in fear. But, he called her daughter! He told her to go in peace and be freed from suffering.

What about the woman who came and washed Jesus' feet with her tears and hair? The religious guys condemned her. Do you think Jesus leaned forward in comfort of her or sat back in an arrogant posture to let her wallow in her guilt? If we believe that he knows how to truly love people, we can be confident that his posture was full of humility, grace, and deep love for this woman. I would so love to see his eyes as he looked at this woman. We can be sure that she was overwhelmed by how he comforted her. She had probably lived a life full of condemnation, but now she had encountered true, unconditional love.

Do you realize that he allowed women to be the first to see him after he resurrected? They were grieving, alone, wondering what to do without this man who loved them unconditionally without ulterior motives. He did not use them. He did not want their bodies. He did not treat them as his culture dictated. They knew he loved them purely. He showed himself to them in all his resurrected glory. Again, they knew the look of love from his eyes. They had grown to know and understand what it felt like to be so loved.

I pray that many of you will pause this week to reflect deeply about Christ's love for you. Let it overwhelm you. Allow your emotions to be affected by drinking deeply of his love. Discipline your mind to truly know he loves you unconditionally. Don't allow lies from past wounds and hurts to captivate your thoughts. Focus your mind on his unconditional love and ask him to help you believe it.

I'm not naive enough to believe that everyone who reads this post will jump around in a happy dance basking in a new understanding of Jesus' love. If you have questions, please contact me. There isn't much more I enjoy more than having a conversation about Jesus with people who are curious.

What I've discovered over this last week as I've rested and recovered from our fabulous retreat is that the more I feel loved by Jesus, the more I love him and people. It's actually kind of miraculous if you think about it. Knowing Jesus loves me does not turn into a self-centered, hoarding, dysfunctional love. I am more patient, kind, not easily angered. I don't hold grudges. I'm more trustworthy, protective, hopeful, perseverant. If you knew my true self, you would know that it is only Jesus' unconditional love for me that allows this miraculous shift in my heart that allows me to love others in these profound ways.

May we all love the way he loves us!