A few months ago, I discovered the blog of Jamal Jivanjee,Illuminate. Since that time, I have made Jamal one of my daily reads and I am convinced that he is a teacher among teachers, able to illuminate (see what I did there?) the Word of God and, in doing so, bring about a new and fresh understanding of Jesus Christ.
In other words, this guy rocks and I am honored to be featured on his blog today. He asked if I’d be interested in doing an interview, to which I enthusiastically answered, “Yes!” I’ve done a few interviews before, but Jamal’s questions were brilliant. I joked that I actually learned some new things about myself.
So, if you’re interested in hearing me talk about how I found my way back to the Lord after wandering, what (else) my husband does well, how I ended up in an organic church, and my dream for the church as a whole, please come over and hang out. I’d love to see you there. Feel free to ask me any other questions you might have brewing on Jamal’s post.
Today, I’m over at Prodigal Magazine talking about how God moved me from where I was and what I thought was church, to where I am now. Here’s a taste…
I thought church was what I experienced with my grandmother at Mass–a stuffy room, while beautiful was rather cold, filled with lots of old people crossing themselves and young people looking painfully bored.
So, when I was introduced to the new modern “relevant” versions of church I was surprised, albeit a bit unsure. Because as a new Christian, I was hungry–hungry for the things of God. I wanted to know about the whys and hows. I searched the Bible tirelessly looking for more answers. I got Jesus, but I wanted to know more of Him and why He did what He did for me.
But what I found, in the church buildings I stepped into, were for the most part, a lot of people simply wanting to be entertained. I didn’t know any better and I wasn’t entirely sure but was God a God of Entertainment? Or was He something all together different?
This man actually witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. You read that right. It’s a video from 1956 and it’s pretty remarkable.
Is it possible to get too close to God? Sarah did and I loved reading about it.
My Favorite Read of the Week: If you’ve ever felt like God owed you, if you’ve ever felt disappointed, if you’ve ever felt hopeless, left waiting, uncertain–read this.
P.S. I’m over at Matt Appling’s blog, The Church of No People, today talking about being a feminist and then former feminist wife. Here’s a taste:
What’s more, I could have never predicted that I would be willingly joining a group of people who are often quoted as saying all kinds of absurd things like “Wives have a responsibility to always look hot for their husbands,” or “Women are required to give their husbands sex whenever they want it.”
No. This couldn’t possibly be. No one who loves Jesus could actually make such claims with a straight face. It wasn’t possible. And yet…these ideas are prevalent within the church.
Slowly, however, as God does what it is that He does so well–pull us from where we’ve been and where comfort resides only to drop us smack in the middle of the opposite.
“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.“- A. W. Tozer
1. Church is optional. Ah, the lone believer, hell-bent on staying out of a church community for one reason or another. They were burned, chastised, or mistreated. And I get it. I, too, was a solo “Christian” trying to call a 5-minute quiet time and a snippet of scripture “church.” I know what it is to be community-less and long for (but never actually believe it could happen) a spiritual family, where brethren would lay down their life for one another–reminiscent of the book of Acts.
Oh yeah, but then, through a series of painful life-altering events (another post for another time), I came to see that church was not optional because, I was, in fact, the church. When scripture refers to the church as “the house of God,” “the Body of Christ,” “Christ’s bride,” it is referencing a people. The ekklesia, in Greek. It is not a place or a building, which leads me to…
2. We go to church. Those in the church, have long believed that we go to church. But, as stated above, if we are the church, then this can’t actually be true. We don’t actually go to church on Sunday. What we do instead, is assemble where other members of the church happen to be, and we usually sit in a pew and listen to someone preach from the pulpit. This is not church. You are the church.
3. The church exists to reach the lost and unsaved. It was not so long ago that the Lord really clarified this point for me. In the Christian culture of “doing social justice,” “living missionally,” and “loving the unlovely,” it becomes easy to view the church as a vehicle in which to reach the unsaved.
However, this is not the primary function or purpose of the church. The church exists for the believer–to equip, edify, and empower the saints. To manifest the body and life of Jesus Christ. I know this might rub some people the wrong way, but if so, I encourage you to re-examine the scriptures. You may be surprised. I was.
4. A small group or Bible study is a perfectly acceptable replacement for “church.” Oh, I fell hard for this lie. I remember pastors enthusiastically telling me that if I had to choose between Sunday morning service and my weekly small group, I was to choose the latter. My small group, as it was explained to me, was actually church.
Those pastors…they were trying. What they meant, or should have meant, was that a small group was more like church. But there was one big problem. We wrongly think that…
5. Hanging out with a group of individuals, just like us, is church. Sadly, what small groups, home groups, and many Bible studies have taught people is that a group of our peers gathered together is church. When Jesus refers to the “family of God,” I don’t think a twenty-somethings Wednesday night fellowship/hangout/thing is what He had in mind.
Families are made up of all kinds of people in all stages of life. There are moms and dads, brothers and sister, infants, cousins and even a few loud-mouthed crazy uncles (you know who you are). Church is, and should be, all of us. All the time.
6. We must grow the church. In the consumer-driven, “bigger is better” culture we find ourselves, many Christians have come to falsely believe that it is our responsibility to build the church. We think that we do the growing. But, 1Corinthians 3 teaches that, while some of us plant and others water, it is God who causes it to grow. We are “coworkers belonging to God,” allowed to fully in building His church. God is responsible…and I find that comforting.
Do you agree of disagree with my list? Have you fallen for any of these lies about church? What would you add to the list? Let’s hear it!
Today’s guest post comes from my friend and blogging hero, Sammy Adebiyi. I can say, in all honesty, that Sammy is my blogging soulmate. I think things and then he writes them–often with more passion and wit that I could ever conjure up. I’m honored and excited to feature him on Modern Reject. I hope you enjoy this post. I know I did!
Every time I hear the word ‘retirement’, I cringe. I can honestly say I HATE that word. If there is a word that describes the polar opposite of how I want my life to end, it would be the word ʻretirementʼ.
Just to be clear, if what you mean by retirement is being intentional about saving (in the context of giving) so you can sustain your family when your body fails you, then Iʼm with you. Sign me up.
But, if you follow Jesus and your vision of retirement is saving up so you can move to Hawaii, lay in the sun all day and enjoy the fruit of your labor at 65 [i.e live a relaxed and comfortable life till you die] then Iʼm concerned.
No, Iʼm appalled.
I get it if you call me ignorant or naive.
Maybe I am.
Iʼm sure you can make a solid argument for retirement. Iʼm sure you can give me 100 legitimate reasons why you deserve to suntan in Jamaica the rest of your life.
Okay, so seriously guys…I’m exhausted. Catalyst is no joke. All day. A lot of speakers. A lot of worship. A lot of people. And for an introvert posing as an extrovert like me, I’m not gonna lie, it’s a bit overwhelming.
But, I’m having so much fun and more than that, I have Jesus (more) on my mind. I have been both impressed and relieved to hear every person who has stepped onto the main stage exalt and glorify Jesus’ name above all else.
Since today is Friday Findings, it follows that my list today is inspired by Catalyst. I hope you enjoy these links and discover some new voices in the Kingdom to follow and share.
Paul Angone. I’ve mentioned Paul before, but after having met him and spent time with him here at Catalyst, I have to (re)recommend his blog, All Groan Up. Paul is funny, humble, and passionate about helping 20 somethings navigate what he calls “emergent adulthood.” If this applies to you, please check him out. You’ll be glad you did.
The Giving Keys. I love simple and powerful ideas packaged well and The Giving Keys is just that. This non-profit hires the homeless to hand-stamp keys from all around the world with one word, meant to inspire. You pick your key and your word, wear your key as a necklace, and then find a person who needs that word, in which case you then give them your key. Cool, right? Oh, and then you go to their site and share the story. Genius. I even bought one myself (can you guess which word I chose?).
Christine Caine. Okay, now I know this lady probably isn’t new to many of you, but she’s fairly new to me. I had also never heard her speak before yesterday and she rocked me. I would dare call Christine Caine a modern-day prophetess who walks in authority and the Spirit. I am now going to read everything she has ever written, devour her blog, retweet her constantly, and basically become an uber-creepy stalker. Wanna join me?
Johnnyswim. I always complain that the Christian music scene is just.so.lame. Yawwwwnnnn. Snooze. You get the idea…But, after hearing Johnnyswim perform at Catalyst, I’m starting to think that maybe I just don’t know how to find quality Christian music. This singer/songwriter duo is the real deal. Lyrically and vocally beautiful filled with the depth and love of Christ. I’m hooked. You can download their new EP for only $2.99 right now. Score.
But, I was also introduced to quite a few new bloggers who I encourage you to check out, including Jennifer Upton, who blogs about the healing process her marriage is currently enduring after adultery. Also, Stephanie May of The Lipstick Gospel, Kelly Marzka of View Along the Way, and Charlie of Charlie Says, who happens to write some pretty provocative stuff (like someone else I know. wink, wink).
Drop by their blogs and say hello to them. Tell ’em Nicole sent you (I’ve always wanted to say that).
So there you have it–my Catalyst collection. Now, it’s your turn. What have you got to share with me? Any recommendations for some good Christian music, too? Lay it on me.