Life without Lines

Everything

Featured photo by Shayan Sanyal

Church as a child was a Sunday occurrence, filled with donuts and coloring pages in service. Today, my husband and I host a church of 30+ in our home. The journey between these two points is filled with an amazing awakening of my heart by the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Needless to say the definition of church has changed drastically for me over the years.

It began as a place that I would go to think about God, which had very little to do with the other six days of the week. Church has now become so much a part of me I could not distinguish it from myself. It describes how I feel about God, how I feel about His people, how I live my life, how I love my husband, and even how I raise my family.

The change was so gradual that I almost missed it. Little by little the lines defining each area of my life were being erased, and what was left was complete continuity of my faith. First was my friendships, they began to take on the sound of church conversations. As I was excited for the second chance at life that I had been given, and as I began to realize that it was not a temporary change, I couldn’t help but share my heart changes with my friends. I felt more alive than I had in years. I felt like for once, my situation was not defined by my circumstances, but rather my God, who is literally the creator of the universe.

Next came my relationships with my children.

I began to think about the principles that God laid out in His Word as more than something to help me sleep at night.

They were really handy for knowing how to react to every situation I ran into. Now I must say that my life was not without real struggles. I was a single mom with two children under the age of two, but for every heartache, I turned to the scriptures to see if there was an answer, and to my amazement and increase of faith, there was.

I began to hunger for the Word as it healed, very specifically, every heartache that I had endured. I was so hungry for the Word that I began to read my bible during lunch in the break room of my very corporate and secular job. After a few weeks I was joined by other Christians with their bibles, and even curious agnostics who just wondered what this crazy book reading club was all about. I spent my time daydreaming about all of the purpose that God was infusing into each moment of all of the lives lived. It was all I could do to stay focused on the little things in life, when my eyes were so recently opened to the greater things.

I learned over the years that the excitement I was experiencing was quite common for the recently converted. What was not common was for that excitement and passion to endure. I have often seen newly converted Christians get corrected by over political, mature Christians that are in essence discouraging others out of acting passionate about their faith.

There is an unspoken rule to be faithful, but not too radical, to be a lover of Jesus, but not so strange that you give Christians a bad name.

I guess I have never been one to conform, because I still can not follow all of the political rules to Christianity. I am still moved to tears with passion at the thought of all that I have been given and forgiven each day. I am still compelled to speak of God with reverence, and the Bible with awe at its power.

Fast forward to today, my husband and I want nothing more than to share with others that they are not forgotten, not alone, that their pain and suffering is not for nothing.

We long for others to experience the freedom that comes with knowing that there is a God who can heal their hearts, use their heartaches to reach out to others, and that Jesus can forgive them of anything they may be carrying around.

It turns out that my faith can not be contained in one day of the week, or in one song, or even in many of these combined. God has brought me through so much, and given me so many blessings that I thought could never happen. Today I spend 6 days a week in my church building doing my day job, and every second of every day being the church everywhere. My job feels nothing like a job most of the time, and my faith feels nothing like it did long ago. The lines for me of separation between my life and my faith are completely gone. I no longer think about God only on Sundays, and I no longer eat donuts, but life without lines is much sweeter than the church I once knew.

Wedding Dress

Everything, Liturgy and Devotion

Lindsay and I had a heated discussion yesterday while we assembled paper crafts for children’s ministry. Such is the life to be married to a prophetic voice.

After, we passionately discussed what God has laid on our hearts and how we can best serve the church in our lives.

We discussed how the church is sick with consumerism. And over tears we pleaded with each other to commit to what we knew to be true. A statement was uttered.

The church has forgotten she is the bride of Christ and she is cheating on Him with Christianity.

It made me think of a song Pastor Vernon shared with me almost 8 years ago.

This song is real and offensive. And we all need to hear it.

May we seek His face and beg for forgiveness and repent. 

Change Is A-Coming

A Church in Formation

When the leader of our Northland Church Letters of Paul Bible Study recently proposed changing our traditional Bible study class to a home church Bible study class, the atmosphere in the meeting room grew charged. The lights seemed suddenly brighter, the soft hum of the electronics suddenly louder, the air suddenly cooler. Most of us sat with all senses sharpened to everything around us as if an alarm had been sounded—because an alarm had been sounded. Robert had introduced the possibility of change.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, all the way back five hundred years before Christ, espoused the idea that change is central to the universe. Since his time, philosophers and writers in every century have reiterated that idea. We all experience change daily and recognize it. Why, then, does it alarm us so?

Those of us here at Northland should be especially able to embrace change or at least sigh with resignation when it is announced because shaking things up is Northland tradition! We should be accustomed to doing things new ways. We should be confident that the changes will be Bible-centered. We should know that we will have a considered voice and, if desired, a role to play. And we are and do. So what is with this home-church alternative that disturbs us? And how do we move to embrace it?

A home church, as I understand it, involves its members in Bible-centered activities, such as study and prayer, and in relationship building within what becomes a close Christian family. We already had the Bible study and prayer; what we were lacking is the closeness of family-type relationships with each other.

Why would moving toward such a family-type relationship disturb us? After thinking about what I felt in my alarm and what I heard others voice in their alarm, I think it may be our fears of sharing our personal lives and homes (if we move occasionally to other homes), of losing our anonymity, of transparency, or of inadequacy in spiritual maturity or in Bible knowledge, or of all those fears! We have been comfortable, relaxed, intimate only in the Bible study part of the class. Now, we will have more intimacy regarding personal as well as spiritual lives, even eating together—one of the most basic of all relationship experiences.

In my alarm at Robert’s announcement, I immediately thought, “But I don’t cook!” Another member said, “Our house is too small!” Someone else was concerned that there would be a chair problem, a parking problem, a décor problem. Then, I thought of those concerns that were not my own: “We would be a family! No problem! We don’t have to go to everyone’s house; we don’t mind sitting on lawn chairs, we can park and meet and ride together, we are there for each other, not to judge a house or décor!” And then I realized that if those other concerns are not insurmountable, my not cooking may not be insurmountable either. I may be able to conquer the problem by depending on Publix or Panera or any number of grab-and-go gourmet shops!

And for those worried about their lack of Bible knowledge or their inadequacy in spiritual maturity, isn’t that why we sought out a class? Aren’t we there to learn? Isn’t to “take our ordinary life . . . and place [it] before God” with other maturing Christians how we grow in spiritual maturity?

Aren’t changes that contribute to knowledge and maturity to be sought, celebrated, appreciated? If we must accept that change is inevitable, that it “is a-coming,” shouldn’t we most desire being with family—people committed to Christ and to us and to care of others—when it comes?