A Reluctant Christian

I will be starting the Daniel Fast on Monday. The church I go to has asked that we participate in the fast and pray for God’s direction as far as the church is concerned. You see, besides the pastor and his family, my husband and I are the only members. It is a new church in a region with more churches than Starbucks’.  We currently meet at the YMCA and there have been a few visitors, but no real growth. And now, well, now I have moved across the country for a new job and my husband will join me in about a month or so, leaving the church with no members.  I’ll blog later about the beauty of this little church, but for now, let’s talk about this Daniel Fast.

21 days of fruits, vegetables, whole grains. No sugar, meat, dairy, processed or fried foods. No alcohol, caffeine or any beverage other than water or pure juices.  That’s it in a nutshell. Only, our pastor has thrown in a little twist at the end. The last three days are water and juice only.

I’ll not go into the history of the fast. It’s easy enough to google.  It’s simply based on the fast that Daniel did way back when.  And fasting, I’m learning, is apparently important to God. Even Jesus fasted and instructed us to do the same. If the son of God can fast, surely we should follow his example.

I have been preparing for the last few days. I read a couple of books, poured over the articles on the internet and have gotten down to one cup of caffeinated coffee a day. Yeah, that will be my biggest challenge as far as actually doing this fast. I am a 3-cup-a-day coffee drinker. With good cream to top it off. It comforts me with its warmth and the routine of waking early to have my coffee.  This alone will be tough.

My other big challenge as I’ve prayed about this is that I will turn this into a diet. Something for ME rather than for God. I am always looking for ways to lose that last 10 pounds. I eat pretty healthy most of the time. And I work out most of the time. But consistency is what I lack and this fast (see, I almost typed “diet”) will give me that consistency. I will really be eating healthy for the next 21 days. There will be no cheat/binge days. There will be no cold beer on Friday evening after a long work week. There will be no steaming cup of coffee laden with rich creamer. This is what I NEED to take off the weight, right? But this is not what it’s about. I KNOW this and I’m praying that I don’t turn it into this. If you are a believer, do me a favor and throw in a prayer for me, that I remember what this fast is about. Any health benefits should be a side effect.

OK, enough for today. I have to go buy fruits and veggies. Thanks for reading and God Bless!

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When it comes to celebrities, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Kardashian, a Cyrus or a Robertson.  I simply don’t care.  I don’t watch much TV and I don’t see the value in worshiping people because they are on TV or on a stage.  I have more important things to concern myself with.  Like a job, a family, a relationship with a God that calls me to grow and serve.

When I saw the first Facebook post about Phil Robertson, I ignored it. I ignored the next couple as well. But after about a half dozen or so posts and comments, I got curious. On the surface, it looked like another Christian blasted for speaking the truth, right?  So I read a couple of articles. I read all the comments.  And I began to notice a trend.  Lots and lots of Christians stood up for old Phil. Defending his right to free speech and all that.  And lots and lots of non-Christians blasted him, calling for his head on a platter (well maybe that’s an exaggeration but you get the idea).

I don’t like this sort of thing, Conflict without communication and all that. So I tried to stay away. But something just kept gnawing at me, like a little mouse chewing on my shoe. I couldn’t not care. So I went out for a run and tried to get it out of my head. When that didn’t work, I prayed (should have done that first, huh?).

I finally figured out why I’m so bothered by this.  Right or wrong, what Phil did was create a reaction that perpetuates the now-commonly held belief that Christianity is an exclusive club. And if Christians deem your sin worse than theirs, you’re not welcome. Now I KNOW he didn’t say this. And in fact, he says he doesn’t judge but leaves that to God. And I believe him.  But that’s not the problem. The problem is that his comments divided. I saw one Christian reaction that gave a retort and emphasized it with “BAM! Take that!” Jesus never “Bammed” people.  Phil’s comments deepened battle lines. It’s that simple.

I can imagine the non-believers shaking their heads in unison, rolling their eyes and shouting, “THIS is why I don’t go to church.” “This is why I am not a Christian” and the Christians, shaking their fists in unison, shouting, “We don’t want you sinners!”

Phil Robertson did not have his right to free speech infringed. Christians have boycotted “immorality” for years. Sarah Palin defends freedom of speech unless it’s directed at her. It works both ways. I don’t blame A&E. Will it matter? Does it matter? At the end of the day, they are simply a company looking out for their bottom line and Phil’s comments are threatening that.

I don’t care that he is in time out. I don’t care about the offended Christians. I don’t. I only care about the unknown number of non-Christians, gay, straight, whatever, who were really, really close to believing in a loving, merciful God that just got kicked out of the club.

Last night, I was baptized in the warm, chlorinated waters of the YMCA pool. Alongside my husband. The man who just six months ago, did not claim to be a Christian. The closest he would commit to was “Agnostic”. I am in awe of a God who answers the prayers of a nobody. A sinner such as me.

All my life, I’ve been the invisible girl. Mousy and painfully shy as a child, I was perfectly fine in the shadows. People who didn’t know me either thought I was stuck up or didn’t care one way or the other. They simply didn’t see me.

As I got older, I realized that I didn’t like being invisible. I had something to say, but no one heard. I slowly but surely broke out of my shell and began to sound my voice like a gong when I needed to. But I found it didn’t matter. I’m just one of those people, non-descript and plain to the point that I am not paid much attention to. I know you know the type. We are everywhere.

I’m not whining. I’m only trying to illustrate how amazing my God is. HE not only knows I’m here, but he cares. Of course He does, you may be thinking. But understand, I haven’t always been a follower of Jesus. So to go most of my life as someone unassuming, to now know that the Maker of the stars sees ME and not only sees me, but answer my prayers…well, I’m just in awe. Star struck you might say.

I do not doubt Him. I do sometimes doubt that He really answers my prayers. He knows this. I cannot hide it. I think about my life and how undeserving I am. And then I think, maybe its coincidence. Surely He has more important people to pay attention to.

But when I take my walk each day in the woods near my house, and I pray to Him in this place, He lets me know that I am as important to Him as the beauty that surrounds me. He lets me know that I am not invisible. And I believe Him.

Last night, as one more beautiful sinner was brought into the kingdom, the angels rejoiced. And I will keep on praying.

 

Here We Go Again…

Years ago, I was married to an alcoholic and drug addict. It didn’t start that way. He was a good guy with a lot of issues who eventually, after we were married, turned to those substances in an attempt to solve his problems. Or at the very least, push them into a corner and cover them with a box so he wouldn’t have to deal with them.

Me, I wasn’t a drinker or user. I wasn’t a Christian either. As I’ve stated in earlier posts, I did believe but wasn’t a follower. I figured being good was just fine and I wasn’t particularly good at that either, but I tried and that had to count for something, right? But I prayed anyway. The kind of prayers where I really didn’t know what I was doing, but figured I would give it a shot.

And then my husband would say he was done with the life he was living. The promises to change. The stays in rehab. The eventual church stint. Sound harsh? Sound like I was bitter. I was. I’d see a change and rejoice, only to have MY dreams dashed when he reverted. And then he’d try again. And I’d rejoice again. And he’d go back to his old ways. See the pattern?

I finally left when things got physically abusive. But that’s another story for another day.

Now its 20 years later and I’m married to a GOOD man. He is honest. He is good to me. He is responsible. He helped me to raise five kids. But he wasn’t a believer and until only the last few years, I still attended the church of “Hi God…you do your thing, I’ll do mine.”

But I quit that church. And as I got to know Jesus, I prayed. I pray as often as I can. And I knock on His door every day, hoping to wake Him. And He has answered prayers for me as I never expected. I am in awe at time. In awe that He hears me and responds. It fills me with amazing joy.

So when my husband decided that this is all for real and he “became a Christian” I was dancing in the street (ok, not literally). My husband is a black and white kind of guy so if he’s in, he’s all in.  And the change in his spirit has been nothing short of amazing. I praise God every day for this.

Then this morning, he started asking me about hell. He started questioning Christianity. He asked why we are the only religion that says only Christians go to Heaven. Muslims say Christians can get in. Jews say Christians can get in. But Christians says Muslims and Jews can’t.  (These were his words, not mine).

Now one of my character flaws is that I can’t simply listen. I always try to “fix”. So I argued that this is simply one “theory” and depending on who you ask, we don’t really know. I certainly don’t know. I am still too young in my faith to “defend” and should I be defending at all? I didn’t know how to respond. And all I could think was, “here we go again.” Will he give up so quickly on his new found faith? How can I fix this?

For me, it’s about trust. It’s about not knowing and being ok with not knowing, because He is God and I am not. He’s got this. The Bible certainly seems clear on the subject of hell. But who am I to say who will go there and who won’t?

My prayer for today is that God will work on my husband’s heart and give him a peace that passes understanding. And that He will work on my heart so I don’t lose faith in my husband’s ability to navigate the difficult parts of this journey.

Thank you for reading.

 

I rediscovered my blog today. Really, it was 2012 when I last posted. Life gets crazy and I’m just not that disciplined. But here I go. Let’s catch up.

I moved from that little town. Back to North Carolina. The place where I met my husband. It feels like we’ve come full circle. Sort of. But it still doesn’t feel like home. Although the town is bigger than that little Nebraska town, I still feel sheltered. Like I’m wrapped in a bubble. But bubbles are OK sometimes.

I wondered why I am here for a while. But now I know. My husband has become a Christian! If you knew him, you would understand the significance of this. He has struggled his whole life with what to believe, if anything.  And for him, his belief came on suddenly. I found a little church here. And when I say little, I mean, I was the only one attending (more on that in another post).  I told my husband about it and he decided to come one Sunday. He’s a thinker. He will analyze, process and analyze some more. Everything! And that’s what he did. But the next thing I know, he’s telling me that he’s a believer now!

I am happy of course, but just a little jealous. I can say I’m not, but God knows my heart and this is a blog, so I might as well just be honest. I never had this experience. For me, it was very gradual. I believed my whole life, but mostly out of fear. And as that changed, it was a belief I didn’t understand. Like, why couldn’t I just be good and be OK?  It took me years to get where I am now and I still have so far to go. I am still a little reluctant. I still won’t openly share my faith for fear of the rejection. I won’t lie about it, but I’m not forthcoming. Like he is. Like so many are when they are “Saved”. One day a sinner, next day, a Saint. But not me.

I think it’s OK. I don’t think God loves me less. And I am overjoyed that he is now a Christian. I will talk later about how that has changed things.

Thanks for reading.

I haven’t been “faithful” about posting here. My life has been a little chaotic. I’ve moved since my last post. I live in a small midwestern town now. 3000 people and an hour from the nearest Wal-Mart. It’s the kind of place I wish I’d known about when my kids were little…no crime, clean, good schools, close community. A throwback to the 50s. I didn’t know places like this existed anymore. But my kids aren’t little anymore.

I moved here for a job. It’s a good job with a good company. I like it most days. I never love it. I never look forward to going to work. I have a great team. Of course I do. The people here are sincerely nice, good people. They all either love Jesus or claim to. I think they mostly do. As I wonder why I’m in this place where I don’t really fit, I think I know.

It’s easy to be a Christian here. When everyone is, people aren’t reluctant to express their faith. I believe God put me here to grow.  In Tucson and in Denver, it’s much harder. People are quick to judge. In some ways, it’s much harder to fit in there. I love those places, but I know at this place in my journey, I can’t grow there and in fact would be more likely to slip back into “God, You do Your thing and I’ll do mine, K?”

And I have grown. A lot. I feel Jesus. I know, really KNOW that He loves me. He is faithful and as I go to Bible Studies here, as I go to my knees every night and read His word every morning, He hears me. And He answers me.

And so my struggle continues. I look around when I take my daily walk and I see an “easy” Christian life that is so tempting to accept. But I know in my heart that this is not where He wants me. I believe He will give me an opportunity that He needs me to be ready for. My stopover here is just getting me ready.

I have a friend…facebook friend, real life friend that recently “came out”.  No, he’s not gay. He was raised a fundamental Christian and he’s now come out as an atheist.  And boy is he angry.

His facebook posts are vehemently anti-Christian.  As a reluctant Christian, I wonder why he “friended” me.  Is he trying to destroy my fragile faith?  I hope not. But I find myself drawn to his rants.  His biggest beef is about the Bible. He calls it an evil book, full of acts by an evil God.  And those of us who believe in it, we’re evil as well.

Now here’s the thing…I’ve tried several times to read the Bible.  And when I start with the Old Testament, I have to stop. The stories scare me. I see the God that my atheist friend sees…hard, demanding, merciless. And it scares me. I don’t want my God to be this way. I want to believe in a loving, merciful God, but He’s not depicted this way in the Old Testament. So I put it aside.

There is no way I could engage in a discussion with my angry atheist friend.  I cannot argue my faith.  Faith is just that…faith.  Can you explain to me why you love your husband or wife?  Or your children or boyfriend or girlfriend or even your dog.  There is nothing logical about it. There are no words that could convince another to feel the same way you do about that person. You either do or you don’t. And even when you are with someone a long time and the flame is gone, yet, you still love them.  I don’t know.  This is weak and could never convince my friend to have faith.

So what do I do? Continue to read his anti-Christian rants? Or block him, since my faith is still in its infancy?

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