I've decided I can't change the name of this blog. We love South Carolina. We loved being at MorningStar, we loved our community there, we loved our neighborhood. And weather or not we are to give up on it, we still don't know. So for now, think of Carolina as a state of mind or being rather than a state in a Country. Whatever it means to live content, wherever you are, and to love where you are at when you are there. That is what we want. Carolina. Maybe it will become a new catch phrase? "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina!" --I didn't make that one up:) its from a musical. Can't remember which one...sorry baby.
So Scott and I try to attend church regularly. And we have been trying to attend the same one lately:)
We were hopping around for a couple of months and finally went back to the second church we had visited called "God's House". On their website they claimed they were the most loving church in Orlando. I have to admit I thought it a little pretentious to say "We are the most loving church in Orlando" but we gave them a chance anyway.
Side note on websites: they are great. Please invest in one if you have a company or organization that uses one. Please make it a good one. Its worth spending the extra bucks on. We have found every church we have attended through their websites, and some churches don't have websites, so it makes us not want to go to them because we can't see anything or learn anything about who they are and what they are about. You would hope they are just lovers of God and about Jesus:) but alas, we are all flawed aye?
Anyway, we attended this church and it was like the first time we had been seen in weeks. It feels so good to be seen doesn't it? Wow there is nothing like sitting in a room full of strangers, in such a vulnerable place in your life, living in a new place, having no friends...but being seen by someone. After the service we were kindly bombarded by the pastor, and some of the church members. Welcoming us and loving on us and asking if we needed help getting settled etc...
When we went back a few weeks later, they remembered us, even our names. The pastor came up to us before the service and gave Scott and I a big hug, called us by name and said he was glad we came back and that he had been looking for us each week.
So as far as our experience goes. This is the MOST loving church in Orlando:)
So the title of this post. We are those people.
Last week we were sitting in church, and there was a lot going on. They were getting ready to have a picnic after the second service so everyone was running around doing there jobs and greeting one another as they moved from task to task. And there we were, sitting in our chairs, no where to go, kind of just waiting for the service to begin so we didn't have to feel so alone anymore.
Someone came up to us finally to take us our of our awkwardness and said Hi, made some small talk, and asked if we were coming to the picnic today. And there we were, those people.
I can't even believe the words rolled off my tongue with such ease when I said "no we aren't going, Scott has to go to work"
Can I admit something to you?
For years I have judged people that work on Sunday. No not people that work at church like Salvation Army officers or pastors and band leaders and sunday school teachers...just people that work outside of the church. It was a major revelation to me. I sat there thinking what these people might be thinking about us. Like that we are not serious enough about God because we work on Sundays, and we don't really want to be committed to the body because we don't take that same day of rest, or we are not willing to come to their events in order to get plugged in. I've never been this person before. On the other side. I'm humbled, and grateful. Its easy to judge. Is it not? I hate it. And then this whole thing with good judgement and bad judgement. Like how you have to be honest, with where people are at, you must use good judgement before assuming you or anymore can do or be something. But you also aren't supposed to judge because God is the only judge. And people who say that anytime you judge someone are usually the most judgmental people anyway (finger pointing at myself).
Scott laughed at me.
He knows how high my standards are, and I think he gets a kick out of watching God gently tear them down one sticky situation like this at a time. He enjoyes seeing me being remade, and growing and maturing. Conviction is beautiful, And it feels good. Every time I feel confused between conviction or condemnation I try to go into my spirit and say ultimately, does this feel good? and prosperous? or do I just feel horrible? and gross?
I felt good being awakened to how I had so harshly judged the church and people in general. Another standard I had given her that she would never fully attain. You must go to church every Sunday, and if you don't you are not a good Christian. You must not work on Sunday, because people who work on Sunday's don't really care about God. You must attend church events and get involved and get your name on some lists, because that shows that you are closer to God than the others who "don't have time".
I'm sorry church. I love you. Forgive me?
The truth is, its hard to know. Its hard to really judge anyone's relationship with God. Even those who claim to have none. There are these verses in scripture we use when talking about these kind of things here's one of them
"How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?" James 2:20
But here is another one
"But Samuel replied,
What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings or sacrifices
or your obedience to His voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams"
1 Samuel 15:22
How do you know if someone is living and doing what they are doing, out of obedience? How can we judge so quickly that if it looks different then it is not God? Or if it doesn't fit our standards then they have probably gone astray?
Scott has to remind me that we are following God, everyday. I've been so molded by church standards and mans standards that even when I am walking in obedience, I question everything I'm doing the minute someone holds it up against the norm.
Well this is all I have to say about our current Floridian status. Don't judge us. Haha no just kidding...but really...aren't you judging us? We are. And we are the people that we have judged in the past. We live with our parents, we only have part time jobs, we are on government assistance, we have another baby coming. Shouldn't we be more responsible? And if we really follow God shouldn't we be doing better than we are?
The truth is, we can't even judge us. We don't even know how "good" or "bad" we are doing. Sure we could look at our circumstances and draw conclusions, but from what standards? from whose ideals will we be drawing our conclusions? I want to harshly judge myself and tell myself I am doing something wrong everyday because of how things are going for us. But then there is that voice of truth. And he comforts me. He speaks to me, He sees me and calls me by name and tells me its good. He leads us one way and we follow and whatever happens or whatever the outcome we choose to say there must be a plan. There has to be a purpose in this. And our love for Him has only grown, and only matured in this season.
We might not be doing anything right we might be doing everything right. But either way we are doing our best. And there are so many out there doing their best. Trying so hard to obey, and to do what is right.And yet if they don't look like the rest of society we quickly say they must not be doing their best or trying very hard. Its so sad. So unloving. And so ugly to live this way. And I would know, because I do it.
Father please change me. Change my standards. Let me really see people. Let me really SEE like you. Give me grater discernment and help me to love despite anything and everything. And when I feel like someone deserves no more love, help me stand up and love them more. And on another note, help me to love myself the same. To give myself a chance.
"Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]."
1 Corinthians 13:7
Help me to first believe the best in people. Even myself.