Thursday, March 29, 2012

"We Know Where the Spirit of the Lord is . . ." Part II

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Greatly troubled after reading Rachel Held Evans' post, "15 Reasons I Left Church" (See link in yesterday's post.), Pastor Emily writes not a rebuttal, but an invitation to our church.  And, many warm and wonderful reasons why she choose to stay.

Even when those disenfranchised by legalistic churches might as, as some of her friends do, "'Why would you stay in a place that is broken beyond repair?'"

Her answer is simple.  Straightforward.

"Because, I believe that with Jesus, nothing is beyond repair . . . if I walk away from the church, it will never change.  But, if I stay inside and work and pray and live out my call, maybe through me and those with me, God can change the world."

What follows are points which Emily makes about our church that any of those "eight million twenty-somethings" who have dropped out of corporate worship would find appealing.  Refreshing . . .

  • You don't have to "check your brains at the door".
  • You experience unconditional love.
  • Questions are both expected and encouraged.
  • It is human nature to doubt.  Bring yours on!  We'll tackle them together.
  • "We are a 'permission-giving' church."  Is there a ministry you wish to start?  A class you want to teach?  An outreach program that touches your heart?  Share with us and go for it!
  • We want you to "hear God's call and follow it".
  • We "believe in the power of grace, mercy, and forgiveness and that the message of Christ can change the world".  That, together, we can bring God's kingdom just that much closer to a reality in this world.

And, if these qualities stand tall and firm and lovingly in our church, certainly there are thousands more like us around the world.

With arms wide open in welcome to all God's children.

Just as they are.

And, who know that the Spirit of the living God writes not on tablets, but on the human heart.
~
Is there a church out there that is right for you?  Will you seek one out?

Please join me in prayer:
I thank You today, Father, for the ministries of Pastor Emily and Pastor Wallace, and others like them who lead their flocks with love and compassion.  Who welcome us with all our questions, our doubts, our fears, our hopes, and our dreams.  Who know that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  Amen.

You can link to Pastor Emily at Revive Worship here:  http://worshipatrevive.com
Or, at www.kennesawumc.org

Readings
Psalms 131, 132 (133) or 140, 142
Exodus 7:25-8:19
2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Mark 10:17-31    

20 comments:

  1. Enjoyed this post! Sadly, many have left the church, the very place where we should find the greatest love and empowerment in our lives. It is time for a return to the church asa body acting in unity with the message of Christ- LOVE! Its not really so hard. It's all about LOVE! He paid the price for us to LOVE and be Loved!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Carl!
      Yes, He paid the ultimate price so that we can have a relationship with God and love as He loves. Sadly, many churches don't preach this message and people become disillusioned. I thank the Lord every day to belong to a church filled with His love.
      Blessings to you!

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  2. Great post again Martha. I spent 2 years searching for the "right" church and nothing felt like coming home to me. So I decided to leave organized religion all together. I don't believe that the only place to meet Jesus is in a building.

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    1. RoseAnn, you can, indeed, meet Jesus anywhere and everywhere! I know that it can be difficult to find the "right" church; my former one was nothing like the one I now attend, but I continued to go more out of a sense of duty than joy. That's not worship!
      Thanks so much for stopping by today!
      Blessings always!

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  3. Martha, I am one of those who have left the church. I continue with daily worship in private with my family, but I always felt very uncomfortable in the church setting. Prior to attending any church I would talk to the pastor or preacher, and found out about the services. Each one would tell me that it was 'come as you are', no fanciness, etc. I don't have dresses and skirts as most women do. I would walk into church and everyone would look down at me. At this point, I believe I have found a church that is truly 'come as you are' that we will be able to attend for worship :)

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    1. Mary, I'm so sorry to hear about your former feelings of being unwelcome in church, but delighted that you may have found one at last that accepts and loves you just as you are. That's why I absolutely love my church and the contemporary service. I, like you, have few dresses or skirts and being able to wear jeans every Sunday is so refreshing to me.
      Thanks so much for stopping by today!
      Blessings always and let me know how things work out in the new church. :)

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  4. Oh thank you very much for this Martha. I know that people will be encouraged if they see and feel that we are living out our very own vocations in fullness ~ in, with and through Christ.

    Your post is indeed full of blessings and life. I am filled with much hope.

    I pray with you. I know God can handle our freedom and He has His ways of welcoming people and embracing them back.

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    1. Yes, Melissa, there is hope for the church if we, as members, "live out our very own vocations in fullness - in, with and through Christ". I am so blessed to have found a church where Christ comes first and His love shines through to each and every person, regardless of race or socio-economic status.
      And, yes, God can handle us perfectly!
      Thanks so much for coming by!
      Blessings always!

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  5. Hi Martha, I miss going to church! I cannot find a Protestant community here in Argentina where we live. What is even more sad is when I hear about Protestant churches closing in South Africa. People are not going to church any more.

    Thank you for this great post!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Nelieta!
      Wow! That's hard to believe that there are no Protestant churches or missions where you live. Then, again, if you travel to any rural part of Georgia, you will not find a Catholic Church anywhere. Guess it all depends on a region and its culture.
      And, sadly, there are churches being closed here in the U.S., too.
      So glad you enjoyed the post. I love yours today, too!
      Blessings to you!

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  6. Hello, Martha! This is my first time here, and I'm happy for what you have written. We are all still very much in process, and the same is true with the Church. How can we build it to completion if we abandon it for its every imperfection? Only God is Perfect, and He doesn't want us to give up now but continue trusting Him for all the work He has yet to do in us. God bless!

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    1. Welcome, Joyce! It's great to have you on board!
      You have squarely addressed the issue - we are imperfect people desperately in need of our perfect God and His forgiveness. If we trust Him and show love to our neighbors as He has shown to us, then we form a church which is warm and welcoming, where everyone can learn and grow in the Spirit. I'm so grateful my church is one of them!
      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Blessings to you!

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  7. Martha - I find that people most often leave the Church when they are not challenged enough and given the teachings of how they can live out their faith in daily life. I find that more and more difficult to find in my Church. However, like Pastor Emily said if we stay, we can and must make a difference. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Hi, Corinne, and thanks so much for visiting today!
      These reasons make so much sense. We go to church to worship God and deepen our spiritual walk with the Lord. If a church does not give us challenges and guidance in this, maybe it's time to seek out another that does. Like Pastor Emily, if we do decide to stay with the church we are currently a part of, we must work, as you stated, to make a difference and be that change we wish to see.
      Blessings to you!

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  8. Well said. A church is like a hospital for souls. Its not perfect. But you can find joy and friendship while you seek the mostt personal goal, a relationship with Christ and God. Else you will wonder the world alone and be confused by the secular world's lack of answers.

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    1. Thanks so much, David, for stopping by.
      Yep! A regular emergency room, if you will. :) And, it will never be perfect because we are imperfect. But, a great church is one that welcomes the broken and points to our perfect Lord who can forgive us and lead us into lives lived abundantly.
      As for the secular world, we know who runs that show, now, don't we?
      Blessings to you!

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  9. I am a Christian ... and I had been a member of 2 churches...one very large (5000) one small (200) each I was involved with and each meeting my needs at the time......over time I struggled with mental health issues... one church coddling me one telling me to give it to Jesus and and you will be healed.... one told me I should quit therapy...give it to Jesus and be done.....UUUGGGGHHHH...oh yeh another told me I didn't have enough faith.....over time other things were said and I pulled away more and more...till I found myself questioning and doubting everything....and removed myself form church.... little by little I am re gaining my faith in GOD but have not returned or even no desire to be at any church... and I find that sad because i can remember the comfort church and worship were everything to me....
    I'm not sure if any of this is relevant...it just spurred some old thoughts and actually current thoughts....As always...XOXOXOXO

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie, for dropping in and taking the time to leave such a thought-provoking comment.
      It is no wonder you left the church. So many people who don't suffer from a physical or mental illness have no clue how to empathize with someone who does. And, the "give it to Jesus" or telling you your faith is weak - what help is that???
      Sure, we should all trust the Lord and go to Him in prayer with anything we face that troubles us. He hears us and loves us and will walk with us through the struggles when it takes us a long time to heal. He is there and I am so glad your faith, Bonnie, is being restored within you. That is awesome!
      Many blessings sent your way!

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