November 8 2014

A Christian Church?

Finally we were in our new home! It was a good feeling to own a home, and to have a sense of home. A place that we could grow roots into and just stay for a long, long time. We moved into an area that we did not know well, and because we homeschooled I decided to look around for a local home school group. I started searching around the internet for groups and I found something interesting at a nearby church. They had home school classes for science and history once a week, and a parent meeting once a month. That sounded so nice to me, but it was at a church. A Christian church. churchI thought about it a lot. I even started looking around at other churches in the area. I really liked the idea of church and community and what it could do for our family.

But, it was still church. I would look at the websites for the churches and look under the “what we believe” tab. It would always go on about Jesus and the Holy Spirit and blah blah blah. I just could not get on board with all that junk, no matter how much I was seeking spiritual fulfillment. I mean, how was I expected to believe that stuff? It was so obviously and ridiculously fake!

So I started looking or another Unity church nearby. That church was better than a Christian church at least. And I found one, only about ten minutes from our new house. I thought it would be great to check it out, and my husband agreed it was a good idea. So one Sunday morning, Super Bowl Sunday as a matter of fact, just a few weeks after moving in, we went off to the Unity church near us. It was at this tiny little community center. I mean the parking lot had about 5 spaces. Much smaller than the building the previous Unity church had been held in.

When we walk in we see how small the room the service was being held in was. And that we were the only family there, and we had the only kids there. Everyone else were older and looked to be mostly single. We sat at a large table in the back and someone was very kind and gave the kids crayons and paper. The service began and I was feeling more uncomfortable by the minute. It just felt so wrong. The room was so small I could not even talk to my husband because everyone would hear. But I was thinking of that church that had the home school classes. I was thinking about how they had a service starting in 20 minutes and how it sounded really great right in that moment.

I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and started writing a note to my husband. “Let’s get out of here. That other church I told you about has a service about to start!” And he wrote back “No, that would be rude.”. “It will be OK, let’s just try it.” “It would be rude to just walk out of here right now.” “You know we are never coming back here.” “OK. Lets go!”

And out we went! We rushed out to the car and another ten minute drive to the other church. I was so nervous and a little excited. I had never really been to a real church before. I mean I had been to the Mormon church as a kid and then the one Christian church one time, but that was it. When we pulled up to the church the first thing I noticed was how big it was! It looked like it was going to be nice. Then I was nervous about how I was dressed. I didn’t even have any clothes that I thought were church appropriate. And what about all my tattoos? What would these Christians think of me??

 

 

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November 9 2014

Church Home

My long journey in a life of darkness was coming to a close that morning as I sat in this unfamiliar building. I didn’t even know I was in darkness, or that there was even an alternative. I had lived life in that place for so long I didn’t know anything else existed. Yet here I was on the door step to my salvation.

A church. An actual, real life church. I never thought in a million years I would ever be dragged into one of those places. But there I was. And it was ok. Good even.  So odd for me! I was so against anything Christian. Jesus was a swear word for me! Yet here I was sitting in the pew and listening to the pastor preach about God. And it felt like home. church

That day I took one of the pamphlets that was tucked neatly into the book rack on the seat in front of me and read it while at home. I was intrigued.  For the first time I ever I wanted to know more about this God and Jesus stuff. I was skeptical, but interested. So unlike me.

We went back the next Sunday. The pastor brought up a younger guy who gave his testimony and told of his past drug habit. I was blown away. I had no idea you could have done drugs and be a Christian. I wanted to know more. We went back again the next Sunday. And the next. The pastor asked us all to bend down in our pews and repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness. By the end of the service I was weeping after confessing all my sins. Sins?? What was going on with me? But somehow I liked it.

We continued to go to church every week. In the meantime I picked up a Bible a neighbor had given me years ago. I think I had tried to read it once or twice before. But when I got to the part where it said God created the world in seven days, I put it back down. I knew there was no way that could be true. My husband and I read it together and we started at the beginning – literally. The beginning of all creation. The version we had been the King James and it was painful for us to read. We barely understood what it said, but we were thirsty for more.

A new friend I met at church asked me after about a month if I had prayed and asked Jesus into my heart. I hadn’t. I still wasn’t too sure who that guy was. I stood in the parking lot with her as she led me through a prayer to ask Jesus into my heart. It was so surreal for me at the time. I wasn’t even sure what it meant or if it even worked, because I didn’t feel anything special happen.

This was just the beginning though. God was speaking to me, and to my husband, and even to my 12-year-old son. He was already answering prayers and showing us His presence. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. God made us a home there at that Presbyterian church, and I am so thankful for it.

 

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November 13 2014

Jesus Loves Me

It was all so surreal, going to that Christian church every Sunday. Yet I was open to it, and so were most of my kids. My husband was praying for God to reveal Himself to him, and so was my 12-year-old son. And God was answering them. I was kind of stumped myself, because I didn’t know how to pray. I mean, it made sense that we were supposed to communicate with God, but how exactly did the whole prayer thing work? Do I pray out loud or in my head? JesusDo I just talk to Him, or is there some sort of formula? So I tried praying for a sign, that if God was real that He would reveal Himself to me. I never did get a sign that way my husband and son did. I think deep down I knew better to ask God for a sign that He was real. He had been revealing Himself to me for years, I just was ignoring the fact it was Him.

So my prayer life began. I decided to just talk to Him. Out loud. It was the most comfortable way for me. It made me feel closer, and helped me to realize I was actually talking to someone, not just some idea in my head. I still did not understand really understand who Jesus was. I was only beginning to understand how very important He really was. I finally got my hands on a Message Bible and began to read Matthew, the fist book of the New Testament. It was then I began to see a picture of who Jesus was. I was amazed. Enthralled. I was falling head over heels in love.

I had no idea all of these years what i was missing out on by not knowing Jesus. I had been using His name as a swear word. It was meaningless to me. I had mocked Him and tore down everything I had heard about Him. And all that time He was just waiting, patiently for me. Holding out His hand to me, loving me and never condemning me.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

I felt so awful. Easter was soon approaching as I began to learn of Jesus. As I realized what He had gone through for me. Me. I am nothing, He is God. He was tortured, whipped, beaten and murdered and all for little, insignificant me. I did not deserve His grace or mercy, not one bit. I had lived my life in rebellion to God, hating him, doing drugs and so many other bad things. How could He ever love me. I am not good enough.

The Bible mini series came on the History channel. I watched as Jesus was beaten and murdered, in bold color, right before my eyes. It was so painful to watch. It hurt me so deeply, my heart ached so badly to see Him bleeding; dying. I became depressed. It was all too much to bear. Why? I just could not understand any of it. All I knew is that I loved Him. So much. And I did not want Him to hurt, to suffer, to go through all that for the sins of the world. I understood it was supposed to happen, it was a part of God’s plan, but it made no sense to me at all.

And it wasn’t just why did he have to suffer, but why did I have to live my whole life up until now without Him? If I had Jesus in my life before, maybe I would not have gone through so much pain, depression, drug use, misery. I would have had Him to go to when things were hard. Because where there is Jesus there is hope. Before I had no hope. Never. Now my life was beginning to be filled with hope in a new and beautiful way.

In the depths of my heart I heard Him speak to me. To tell me that He knew how hard my life had been, that He had been there all along. That He had never wanted me to suffer, but that it was OK, because He was going to use it some day to help others. And I smiled, because I believed Him. He loves me. And that is why He was willing to suffer for me. And that is why I was able to move forward, away from my past, and into my future. A future filled with healing, and love, and light.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

 

Category: Into The Light, Living In Darkness, Who Is Jesus? | Comments Off on Jesus Loves Me
November 14 2014

Holy Spirit Reign On Me

Holy SpiritDuring those first few months of learning about Jesus, my husband and I also went through the Alpha Course. It was every Wednesday night at church, with one full Saturday session. On that Saturday session we were to learn all about the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day we were to say a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to come in to us. The day was very interesting to me. I was intrigued to learn more about just who the Holy Spirit was. And to hear stories of phenomenal things happening to people when they received the Holy Spirit was exciting. I was ready to experience something amazing!

Alas, it wasn’t so for me. A lovely lady prayed with me and I invited the Holy Spirit in. And I felt nothing. And I mean nothing. I was sure I was broken – that there was something wrong with me. Why didn’t I feel something? I mean I didn’t really expect to start speaking tongues or fall on the floor laughing, but I did expect to feel something. I went home so disappointed. I was sure I was never going to really be a Christian, that I didn’t have a real relationship with God.

God has his own timing for things though. I still had so much to learn and understand. I was not even sure about the truth of the Bible, and if God was who it said He was. I mean, how could God have created the world in 7 days? That is impossible. I heard about Old Earth Creationism and felt that was probably where I would stand in my beliefs. The earth was actually millions of years old, and one day in the Bible was really an aeon.  That meshed perfectly with what I always believed. Then there was that pesky Noah story. You know how God supposedly flooded the earth and wiped everyone out? Seriously. Unbelievable.

So I started doing some research. I had a lot of questions about the things the Bible says. Because if some of the Bible is unreal, then how do I know what of it is real? And if I can’t take God at His word, then what does that really mean in the scope of this whole Christianity thing I was learning about. I was surprised by the things that I began to learn. It opened up my mind to a whole new world. A world where God is so much more than I ever even imagined.

It all started with a video I stumbled on while on a forum. Not even a Christian forum, but a homeschooling forum. This video broke open my mind in relation to how I thought. I had some pretty serious barriers up against anything that wasn’t The Big Bang Theory or Darwinism. It led me to search for more information from the man who made the video. Then I began reading an article on the evidence for proof of the Bible. I was overwhelmed; amazed; awestruck.

As soon as I was done reading that article I got down on my knees and leaned over my couch in the living room. I distinctly remember really feeling the presence of God in that moment – and I knew it was Him. He was enveloping me in His love and it was the most wonderful feeling. I gave my life to Him right then and there. I knew in that moment it was all true – the Bible, creation, the flood. I knew the Bible was God’s word, divinely inspired and perfectly true. That this God was indeed the one and only true God, who made the heavens and the earth. Who made me.pentecost

I was swept away in His love. I told Him that I wanted to do His will, whatever it may be. Take my life, I give it to you freely. You are my God and I only want to make you happy, because I love you so. This was my Holy Spirit moment. The moment that I was coveting so desperately just a month before. I wouldn’t realize that until much later, but this was when I really opened up and took God at His word and accepted Him as my God and Savior. And that was when I was able to allow the Holy Spirit to come in and rain down upon my life. And boy did He ever!

From that moment forward my life became a veritable roller coaster ride. I had no idea what I was in for, but the Holy Spirit in my life gave me a new fullness and richness that I had never known possible.

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2

FYI – Here is a video of the same article I read.

 

 

 

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November 17 2014

Baptized From Darkness

It was just after Easter that I started to think about getting baptized. I had never been baptized before, not even as a baby. My parents decided not to teach me about God or religion because they thought I would be better off making a decision about what was right on my own. My father was baptized into the Catholic faith and my mother was baptized into the Mormon church.

As a child I went to the Mormon church on and off with my grandma. She was a Mormon and it was her whole life. I don’t remember a lot of about going to church, except that you got little cups of water and little pieces of bread. Which was much better than listening to the man talk for what seemed like hours. I must have liked it well enough though, because as I grew older I began attending a Mormon church near my house with sister. By the time I was 12 I was seriously considering getting baptized into the Mormon church for my 13th birthday. For some reason I changed my mind, and I was never baptized.

Sbaptizedo the thought of getting baptized as a Christian was exciting, but scary. I didn’t feel like I was really a Christian. I wasn’t even really sure what being a Christian meant. I was starting to understand who Jesus was and I had given my life to God. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to make a big commitment like baptism though. It seemed like a pretty big deal. What if down the road I changed my mind? Maybe one day I would not want to be a Christian anymore. Who knows, right?

One of the great things about going to church was growing a new community to be a part of. Something I had been longing for, for years. I was starting to meet lots of people and make friends, for the first time in more years than I could count. I was at a picnic for a group of couples at church when I first talked to our head Pastor. I told him a little about my background and he asked if I was going to get baptized. I told him I wasn’t sure, but that I didn’t think I was ready. I felt like I needed to think about it longer, wait until the time seemed right.

The Pastor got very excited about the prospect of me getting baptized. He compared getting baptized to getting married. It is making a commitment in front of the whole world and professing my love for Jesus. And sometimes you get nervous about jumping in and making that commitment when you get married, but you are all in. And just like a marriage, sometimes you go through ups and downs. But you are still committed to making it work. It made sense. Was I really ready to commit my life on that level?

I guess I was. I called the church the next week to schedule a baptism for myself, my husband and my 12-year-old son. And it was going to be just a few weeks later and we had all decided on baptism by immersion. That means we were gonna get dunked.

The weeks leading up to our baptisms went by quickly. I really felt that I was not a Christian until I was baptized. I asked for a cross necklace for Mother’s Day, which was about a week or two before the big day. I was worried about wearing it because I didn’t think I was worthy to wear it yet. Kind of like wearing that wedding ring before the actual ceremony.

We were becoming more and more committed to this walk of Christian faith. For two people who had been going to this church for exactly 3 months, we were really diving right in. We decided to take the New Members Class at church the day before our baptisms so we could become members. So 3 months in = committing our lives to Christ, getting baptized and becoming members. Whoa…

It was a spectacular Sunday. We had to arrive at church early to receive our certificates as official members and be welcomed by the congregation. This was at the first service, which we didn’t normally attend. We were to be baptized at the second service and had invited our family and friends. We put on our bathing suits and waited patiently as the service began. The church had gotten out its special pool at the foot of the stage and it was ready and waiting.

When the Pastor called us up, there were only 2 others being baptized besides my husband, son and myself. We formed a line and I was going to be third! We each took a turn to give a brief testimony about why were getting baptized. It was very moving and it helped me to solidify why I was doing this.

When it was my turn I walked down into the water as nervous as could be. I had the head Pastor and an assistant Pastor, one on each side of me, to hold me and bring me back into the water. They spoke words over me that I was now being tattooed with the blood of Christ forever. Wow. I wasn’t sure if I was going to feel different or not – you know experiencing something so big. I watched as my son and husband were immersed and prayed over, giving their lives to Christ forever. It was amazing.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I was on top of the world. But what did it really mean? Was I going to change? Was I going to be a different, better person now? We all went home and had a celebration party with friends and family. I was told I was glowing. It was a really amazing moment. Of course that feeling can’t last forever. It was just the next day I would get into a huge argument with a friend. I was filled with anger and selfishness. Then I wondered, how could that be? Wasn’t I supposed to be different now? I stopped myself there. I knew God deserved better than this anger and strife from me.

I prayed and asked God what to do about the problem with my friend. In that moment I learned something very important. Joy in the Lord. In life, there is truly no joy, except in our Lord. He is the source of all joy, and everything here on earth is designed to distract us away from this. So I praised Him. I loved Him. And He eased the burden of my emotions. This was transformational in my life.

Always before when I had problems with other people the emotions would be almost crippling. I would be plagued with anger, rage, malice, etc. I would obsess for days about how wrong was done to me. I’m not saying I didn’t obsess a little. But it was different this time. It was so much easier to bear. The weight of it was not crushing me. For He was bringing me a new sense of understanding. And it was nice.

And that was just the beginning of the changes that I was going to experience.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4