Reblog: The Honeymoon Has To End: Your Church Ain’t Perfect – J.S. Park

There will be a moment when you will hate your pastor’s smug little face and his grin and those quirky Christianese catchphrases out his grinning smiley mouth.

You will eventually resent your church.

You will hate the music, the seats, the bulletin font, the ushers, the way they force the offering plate in your lap, the self-promoting announcements, the tacky jumbo screen.

I mean just three months ago, you loved your pastor.  You were excited at church.  You loved the praise team.  But that moment comes when everything is too loud and too shrill and suddenly grating and irritating — and we think our best option is to leave.

The moment you find out your church isn’t perfect can be very disorienting.  Your pastor curses?  He watches Breaking Bad?  The praise team went out for a beer?  There’s gossip in the church?  How dare they.

We go from idealism to optimism to pessimism.  It’s inevitable.

*

Sometimes we wait for the pastor to make some theological mistake so we can justify our anger.  I’ve done it too.  I fuel my resentment with every last straw.  I build my precious hate-tent and mentally argue with the sermon and find all the ways I could make this church better.

I get tired of doing this.  I think many of us who secretly hate our churches just forget that the honeymoon has to end, and that the church was messed up long before we got there.

If the church isn’t messy, then it’s not a church.  That’s why God calls us to be in a body of other people: to endure with those we would never hang out with, to persevere with different preferences, to overcome our loss of patience and our growing frustrations and our silly hang-ups, to really love others when we least want to.

There’s no real love that doesn’t push past the initial illusions of perfection.  The real kind of love that Jesus aims for is the kind that embraces the ugly underside of our faults and flaws, and looks not at who we should be, but could be.

I’m praying we are not so quick to force undue pressure on our pastors, churches, and fellow believers.  I hope we don’t pick on our human nature as a reason to quit.  Jesus didn’t do that to us, either.

Reblogged in its entirety from The Honeymoon Has To End: Your Church Ain’t Perfect – J.S. Park.

Reblog: Your Name- Aaron Smith [Love Letter Series] » The Registered Runaway

But I need to remember. You are not a topic, an issue, a political or theological stance. You are human, full of complexity, personality, intelligence, and emotional depth that all together are uniquely you. There is only one you.

And you have a name.

This is something people on both sides of the ‘gay debate’ are often guilty of: focusing on the person’s sexuality rather than their personhood. Read the whole post: it’s insightful, beautiful, necessary: Your Name- Aaron Smith [Love Letter Series] » The Registered Runaway.

Reblog: 3 Things to Do in the Face of Disappointment | RELEVANT Magazine

It’s also important to remember that God didn’t disappoint you—life’s circumstances and people disappointed you. When something bad happens in life, it’s not a time to blame God, it’s a time to run to him.

Three positive ways to deal with disappointment: 3 Things to Do in the Face of Disappointment | RELEVANT Magazine.

Grace: one size fits all

Someecards

Do you think it’s sometimes easier to be merciful towards the ‘big’ sinners–murderers, thieves,  rapists, and so on? This morning I was disparaging about a family member whose husband is ill. Her requests for prayers and support are more about her than him, and I wasn’t feeling very sympathetic, much less inclined to pray for her.

Later I read an article about a man who raped a six-month old baby to death. Through the disgust I found myself thinking something along the lines of, well, everyone deserves grace–even him. I was more gracious about this guy’s crime than my aunt’s relatively harmless (and even understandable) narcissism.

Have you ever experienced anything similar? It made me feel like a prat and I wondered if we have the reverse situation going now than in Jesus’ time: where we are more likely to forgive or help strangers, these ‘others’, than we are the people in our own backyards over weekends, on our Facebook timelines, in our living rooms.

Maybe it’s because for most of, these ‘others’ are on the periphery of our lives: they live in news bulletins or in ghettos or in quiet whispers about ‘someone who knows someone who knows’. They don’t buy us birthday presents or spam our e-mail accounts with chain letters. We can afford to be gracious because doing so does not fundamentally alter our lives.

But extending grace at home, at work, in shopping malls, at birthday dinners, to the people we see every day–that’s not always so easy. We tend to grade sins, and unfortunately our magnanimity about those who commit them sometimes grows in relation to how big we think the transgressions are. The ‘smaller’ sins slip through the cracks of daily life, into that shady area of ‘habit’.

But all grace is radical, and everyone, regardless of who they are, what they are, whether those parameters fall within or outside our families, communities or comfort zones, deserves grace. Even slightly histrionic aunts :).

All grace is grace.

Reblog: The Gospel Is Not a Behavior Control Program | RELEVANT Magazine

My suspicion is that, if we’re unflinchingly honest, we are often more concerned about behavior modification than we are about individuals encountering the presence of a loving God.

via The Gospel Is Not a Behavior Control Program | RELEVANT Magazine.

Reblog: Saying Good-bye to Old Friends and the Me I Used to Be

I do remember, as I entered into the life of a practicing Christian, that I thought that I wouldn’t be like the other Christians. I wouldn’t lose the friends I had before I converted. I would be cool. Nothing was going to change. I was going to keep on being the same person I had always been, believing the same things I had always believed.

[…] I didn’t reckon with the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. God didn’t seem to mind if I wanted to begin my Christian life by being cool. He just didn’t pay much attention to it. At that stage, he didn’t seem to be trying to change what I did. He was changing what I wanted to do.

 

See if you recognise your first few years as a Christian convert in the rest of this article: Saying Good-bye to Old Friends and the Me I Used to Be.

Questions

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.” – Anonymous

Inspiration | Featured Blog Thursday, 24 Jan, 2013

Duck

Today’s FBT’s theme is inspiration. Two blogs my reader wouldn’t be the same without:

  • Diane, whose enthusiasm for other people’s writing and life in general has gotten me off the proverbial couch when it comes to more actively commenting and engaging with other people’s blogs;
  • And hovercraftdoggy, a photography/art/design/architecture blog that has made me a Pinterest demigod.

Check them out!

~ He puts a little heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 Msg ~

Reblog: When People Ask, “Where Is God?”, Be The Answer. | The Way Everlasting

Today, there are people – including people you know, in your normal life – who are saying to God, “Where are you?  Are you ignoring me?  Why won’t you come through for me?”

They mumble these words under their breath, with teeth clenched.  They feel like giving up.

And, today, you can be the answer to their prayers.  When they wonder, “God, where are you?”, you can be God’s answer.

Read the whole thing: Guest Post: When People Ask, “Where Is God?”, Be The Answer. | The Way Everlasting.

One moment

Take a moment and pray for the unsaved people in your life, even if you don’t think it will make a difference.

Lord, (name/s) are ruled by your absence from their hearts. Gather them close to you this Christmas season and “Open their eyes to what you do, to see your zealous love for your people” (Isaiah 26:11-15 Msg). Because I know what it’s like to live without you, I ask you, Lord, to call (name/s) by name and to give them the grace to surrender to your love, life, light and salvation. I pray that (name/s) will come to know true freedom in you. Amen.