Thursday, February 20, 2014

Re-Churching: Re-Churching


It’s a wonder how things happen.


When I think that I can’t, God tells me that I can, if I follow Him. If I follow Jesus’ path. If I trust Him.

Well. It happens in an instant. I think I need to be supported; I become more broken instead. I think I couldn’t handle being any more broken than I already am; I realize that I’ve never felt more peace. It took losing in order to gain.

I don’t like hearing criticism. Who does? Not all criticism is bad for us. It hit my Pride. It clouded my thinking at first. I’m a stubborn, strong-willed person who’s been hurt deeply.

Then, I understood, and it helped me set aside my Pride.

May I continue to heed the lesson. I know I will need help in remembering this. I write this to remember.
____________________________

I re-churched, again, this past Sunday. I woke up refreshed, got ready, and went with Peace. It was still uncomfortable, but not so much anymore - no flinching this time, no panicking. I went with some confidence that could only be from God; I know it wasn’t me.

I could breathe again.

I was starting to see the church as home again.

I was starting to see the church body as my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I can’t explain that. Well, maybe not yet. I still have a long way to go.

I saw Aunty Shirlynne, Wendy, and my G-family. Rachel and Zac were home with the baby. The Kwongs talked with me. I had a little chat with April.

I no longer care if others are thinking that I am the prodigal coming back. It doesn’t matter what they say about me, true or not. It doesn’t matter if they are still suspicious of me. It’s okay if they find courage in my actions; I no longer sense the pressure of it though.

It matters what I am doing, which is following Jesus. It doesn’t matter if others see this in me or not.

A plan came to my mind. I am praying over it. I will be seeking advice about it. I think it is right to do.

A long and narrow road lies before me still. It will be difficult and yet I see no other way. I am excited. ...and a little scared!

Please, God, give me courage!
____________________________

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
that I might learn thy statutes



Chuck Swindoll shared Psalm 119: 71 in his talk, “Boars in God’s Vineyard” [See it for yourself here].
He also shared these:
  • From A.W. Tozer - “It’s doubtful God can use anyone greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
  • From a sign on the desk of Swindoll’s son - “I have learned I cannot trust any man who has not known pain deeply.”

  • Pain makes you wiser
  • It humbles you
  • It piques your discernment.

  • It makes you aware of your own limitations. Our tendency is to fight back.

I don’t know that I am wiser. I have noticed that I’m seeing more in my devotionals and Bible readings, like things have been opened to my understanding. Not that I know it all or that all has been opened to my understanding, but the ones that I have experienced are making sense more than they have before. I think it’s because my perspective has been changed. Maybe this goes along with more discernment.

I have definitely been humbled recently. I am not John the Baptist, yet what has been on my mind often lately is John saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

My tendency is to fight back. I am strong-willed. I am a fighter; I will fight. But now, I fight for someone else, for something else. I have been on the defensive for the past few years and it was uncomfortable for me. I don’t have to be on the defensive now, and it feels much better!
____________________________

I think that’s enough to say for now. I still have preparations to make, plans to carry out.

Thank you to those whom have stuck by me, encouraged me, prayed for me, read my madness, etc.

May you be blessed this day!

After-thought party note(s):

  • Off to nurse my sick body back to health. Ugh. Snot is not attractive.
  • I've also finished reading A.W. Tozer's "The Pursuit of God." Interesting that I read it, and then Swindoll quotes Tozer.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Borrowed Time

In a previous post, [Who I Am: Biological Ticking Clock?], I talked about not having wedding or baby “fever.”

I have been sensing a different urgency though.


I have been feeling the thing about being on “borrowed time.”


I’ve been thinking about this often over the past few years. Maybe longer than that.


Many moons ago, I had attended 4 funerals over 3 years. I remember dreading the following year quite a bit.


That dread has been circling around me again recently.
____________________________


For the most part, I am comfortable with death, or at least with talking about death, being around death. My earliest solid memory was about being at my grandmother’s funeral. Our family participated in Bai San (honoring the dead; Chinese) at the graveyard for years. It’s not surprising for me to stop by the graveyard to visit family.


It was a strange thing to have a conversation with one of my friends about how I couldn’t commit suicide. It was a theoretical exercise for me. My conclusion was that “my” time belongs to God. He’ll bring me home when it is time, of which I have no knowledge - only God knows when He will call me Home.


Those movies or TV episodes where someone dies suddenly, and the loved one wishes they had more time with the deceased, or had told them “I love you” more often, or hadn’t fought with them that morning - I don’t feel anything about it, but the basic idea sticks with me at times. It churns in my mind.


What matters most is spending now with those you love.


It’s a puzzle. One has to make a living. Conflicts between people happen.


Earlier this month, we lost a family pet - I’m not ready to talk about it. Last year, our family lost two relatives quite tragically. The year before that, we said goodbye to a dear friend.


I just want to spend Now with you. Anything I’ve said or done lately in urgency has been about this.


I get in my own way on it though. I’m so used to doing my own thing. I’m so used to not wanting to bother others. I’m so used to far-between communication. I’m so used to making my own decisions and going about them in my own way, expecting others to do the same for themselves, that I miss the connection.


Well, in a certain respect, I have urged something on a bit, more than I am used to doing. It’s been difficult for me. I don’t care to push the other person into spending time with me if he/she doesn’t want to; I think it branches off of my independent nature - if one doesn’t want to be with me, one doesn’t have to and I’ll go off on my own. I’ll do a little pursuing here and there, but I don’t chase after people.


The two relationships I have had, they both were the ones to break up with me. I said, “Okay” and left. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. They sounded very decided so I didn’t argue. I didn’t cry in front of them. I wasn’t going to have any appearance of manipulating them to stay on with me longer than they wanted.


I’m on God’s time and I know I’m not using it well - I’m not with you. I don’t spend nearly the time I ought to with friends and family, with people.
____________________________


Anyways, so I’ve taken a couple of baby steps but I made some mistakes. I don’t know what I’m doing. And for now, I wait. I am in tension.


I just want to spend NOW with you.

What matters most is spending now with those you love.




Friday, February 14, 2014

A Turning Point

This may get a bit rambly. I have little control over the speed of my Think Train at times though I try.

Continue at your own risk. Thou hast been warned.
____________________________

When the light shines, much is illuminated. Shadows remain, but what is in the light is washed and made brilliant.

I am a sinner. I am a great sinner.

It is one thing to have an intellectual grounding in faith. It can be quite another thing to have a heart fully turned towards God.

One thing to think one knows love. Another thing to experience the fullness of Love.

To say, “I love you.” To grasp a fuller meaning and weight of “I love you.”

http://bible.com/114/1co.13.1-3.nkjv : 1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift ofprophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

I loved the others, but I did not Love them. I thought I showed them that I loved them, until the mess happened.

I loved my cat. I don’t think I have ever known true grief before. I loved her.

It’s about me, not about them.

It was not them. I was limping. They may be limping; whether they are or not is not the matter. If I am limping, I cannot be an instrument to come alongside another and bring them along, to support them so that they may keep moving farther until they are able to stand and walk on their own. I must stand and walk on my own first.

I thought I was walking. I was shuffling along with a limp. I was timidly taking steps.

If others do not see Christ in me, it’s about me, not about them.

It’s about them, not about me.

A simplified illustration.

Someone questioned me for starting to stand with an upright posture. She said pointed out that I was sticking out my chest. That was about her, not about me.

She didn’t know that I had decided to be more mindful of correcting my posture. She didn’t know how little I think of my own attractiveness (I have a disconnect as to how others see me in regards to attractiveness or lack thereof;  hence, I don’t actively and directly try to be attractive - I wouldn’t know how to). How could she know my actual thoughts behind something? Behind anything? That was about her, not about me.

She wasn’t thinking about my health. She wasn’t thinking about the sense of confidence that it built. She disregarded the fact that no matter how I stand, my chest sticks out. I have no control over this, so might as well better my posture.

I gave her a quizzical look. I wasn’t sure what she was implying. I didn’t know what she was thinking. I didn’t really give an answer beyond stating that I was working on my posture (I work on it still).

I don’t know what others around heard or saw. I don’t know if they sided with her. I don’t know if they had theories of their own.

Does it really matter if she was right or not?

Does it matter if people talk about me or not? Whether what they say is true or not or partially true?

No.

It’s about God. Father, Son, and Spirit.

Yet, I am sorry for it all. I take responsibility for it all. Why? Because I am a sinner just as anyone; I forgive them as I have been forgiven. It’s about God, not about me.

And because I love them anyway as I am loved anyway. For better or for worse.

I make the claim. I must show them.

It’s about God’s love for them through me, not about me.

http://bible.com/114/luk.6.27-36.nkjv :27“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

32“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.36Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

I submit my very strong will to Jesus. It will not be easy, not at first. It’s going to take me time. I am going to stumble along the way. Please be patient with me. I don’t understand it all; I cannot speak intelligibly about it all. And yet...

I have talked. I must now walk. 
____________________________

Acknowledgements (for this turning point)

I owe first and most profound gratitude to my God. All Honor to Him, the Giver of the Light.

Also, gratitude and honor to Joshua, a brother in Christ, and Anonymous See, a non-believer, for their wise counsels. Do not discount truth simply because it was spoken by a non-believer.

Thank you to my cats for their presence and love. You are each a blessing. 
____________________________

Thank you for reading. God loves you. May you be blessed.







Thursday, February 13, 2014

Re-Churching: Mentoring, Accountability, Courage, and More Obedience


It has been a long journey on my own. It has been a rough journey on my own. I do not recommend it.

I haven’t been mentored in my faith since… about high school. Shayna and I had been meeting with Rowena, but then she and her family moved a few months after we had started to meet. A few years later, a slightly older friend somewhat casually mentored me - more like just genuinely cared for and checked in with me. Then she decided to attend another church to support them.

Except for a few good friends along the way, I have largely been on my own: to grow, to learn, to search, to become more disciplined in my faith.

I believe I have finally found someone to mentor me for… who knows how long but definitely longer than a few months.

Lynn is a former member of the same local church, had been a Sunday school leader of mine, along with her husband, but currently her family attends another local church. We met last week and are working out a schedule to meet consistently.

The first meeting was like finding gold. The trust I had in Lynn previously still upholds. She sees me through the eyes of Christian sisterhood. I can finally be honest with someone and not find harmful judgement, but Christ-like admonishment and accountability instead. It’s good to breathe again.

It’s just the beginning, but I am excited!
____________________________

A few things that I am struggling with:

- finding out that the gossip and rumors about me within a group in the church was worse than I realized, worse than I had hoped. It’s uncomfortable being disappointed in people, especially ones whom had claimed to be friends. I was trusting; I don’t regret that… entirely. I had a hand in this mess, certainly, but I was not alone responsible in all of it. At one moment, I was gearing myself up to confess my own junk, and then I saw who I was facing; I dropped my eyes from God, I know. What do I do now?

- wondering how I can worship God alongside ones whom have hurt me so deeply. Praising God isn’t difficult. It’s the reminders of the mess and feeling helpless, people-wise, to reconcile broken relationships. It’s the knowing that relationships around me are broken. I know that God desires reconciliation, good relationships - it’s His story.
My consolation, for now, other than God’s mercy upon me, is that I have already made several efforts to reconcile, before I had de-churched again. Though, I sense that God may move me to make more efforts, and I… am hesitant at the moment. And maybe that’s okay for now. But to be honest, I… dread it. I am ill-equipped, though I know if reconciliation happens, it will not be me but the Holy Spirit who does it - Glory to God.

- wondering how I… - this is related to the previous struggle - how might it be that I can once again feel safe within the church again, people- and building-wise? I grieve this quite a bit, that this church used to be another home for me, one where I could go and be safe, find relief. Is it me that has fallen so far that I can’t sense the Spirit there at the moment? I’m certain the Spirit is there, but I don’t sense it like I used to, in good and bad times.
Now, my thinking, from recent experiences, is that the church is where I go to get beaten up, spiritually. I’m in flinch-mode.
If I, a child of the church and Christian, do not feel safe to be vulnerable and honest in my struggles while in the church, how might someone coming in, Christian or not yet, be made welcome and find the comfort for which they are looking?

- I was naive. I didn’t know I would experience such pain within the church. I think people sinners, just as I am one, but I never really think anyone bad intentionally until they show me. I have never understood why someone would… tolerate (?) me when they think me such a jerk either. (Come on, I have jerk moments too, whether intentionally or not.)

- knowing now… not being able to deny any longer how bad gossip is within the church, even if just a group or not,... you know, I am not used to caring what people think or say about me. I’m not used to caring; ask those who went to high school or college with me. I usually did my own thing, a non-joiner.
However, this time, relationships were intentionally destroyed. I’ve forgiven and continue to remind myself that I have forgiven, the Spirit continues to work that in me, but the question is how to lovingly and respectfully participate in correcting the influence or spread of gossip in general, within the church or group or individual, participate in real healing. I am not entirely immune to the temptation of gossip, though I tend not to care, so what to do?

- how to build up my spiritual gift of discernment, because… it can get messy. It has gotten messy. Again, I am not used to caring. As an INTP in the MBTI (look it up or click here for my thoughts on it so far), I am quite independent; I can be detached. Hence, the tendency of not caring about gossip and such, even when it’s about me, as well as the initiative for continual independent search for personal spiritual growth. 
So, how do I engage brothers and sisters in Christ with discernment, as an INTP? How do I use it to build up others? This has been a question (aside from the INTP aspect, since I have only learned that recently) since I had returned to church 6 years ago.
____________________________

And that’s only a few things. Scratching the surface. Actually, quite a few of these issues I have observed and been thinking over since 6 years ago. It’s just that now I find myself in the middle and involved in some of the mess.

Though, I remember 6 years ago. I had made a huge step and recommited to Christ. I had had enough of my own foolishness. Where else might one go? Also, it wasn’t me, but God gave me a desire for the church. I remember waking up on Sundays, excited for church. I miss that. I don’t understand it, I can’t rationalize what was going on in me, but it’s real.

I need to kick myself and be courageous again. I mean, I know that I can because I can trust God to provide for me, to lead the way, yet it’s still… it’s scary. People are scary to me.

Well, I can only lead by example, the way I have always expected myself to lead. It just stinks sometimes. And I know I will make mistakes, I know I still have areas of sin to conquer. I think I have so little in certain areas that I am wary about giving up more. I’ve recently made a difficult stand for me, because in my mind, I was walking in a certain direction, faithfully, and I have been disappointed. Sigh.

Continue to let God refine me more and more. Obedience is still mean - I mean, Jesus died by it, and I don’t know if I’m there yet.

And then, when it was done, Jesus conquered Death and was lifted up to Life.

Remind me.

[Joshua 1:9]