Selling Jesus

My spirit has been completely in a “wad” for I guess what feels like forever now, over the selling of Jesus & the loneliness with people when they accept the invite. I have read more books & blogs,viewed more pod casts on this subject & sadly know more people in the muck of this, than I care to even mention. I hate mentioning it because it’s become too common in the modern, American church circle. It’s what I’ve coined the corral syndrome. Corral ’em in & once they get in & get comfy, we don’t grow them from there. We offer everything within the budget & manpower to make “our place” attractive, so if they don’t sign up for  our attractions, it’s their fault. The offer was open to everyone.

We just sit & wait for every new/old church attendee or every newbie in their salvation to be falling all over themselves to join the Life Groups, Women Groups, Men’s Groups, Kids Programs, Coffee on Tuesday Morning Groups, etc etc. And thankfully some do……then fade away. And some just never do & we’re left with a handful of exhausted, worn out, core people who’ve ultimately nicknamed themselves the 80/20’s. (ie. 20% doing 80% of the work).

I can tell you what I know & feel to be the heart of this issue & heart of the problem; there is NO HEART. Now before the stones fly, let me elaborate. The function of the heart keeps us alive; it’s where find love. Where there is love, there are relationships, passion, compassion, truth, humility, sacrifice. There isn’t busyness, tiredness, lack of core friendships. There’s growth because there’s a heart lined up in love for all of the right reasons, focused on loving the right people. If you want someone to develop their spiritual gifts & use them in church, in the community & for the kingdom, help them grow them. People can’t use what they don’t understand. We as Christians didn’t accept salvation & boom boom have all the answers. Especially adult Christians, new to all of this. It’s hard & it’s confusing. Not everyone will ask to have those questions answered, because it’s also intimidating. Some people are introverted, some are extroverted, but confusion & loneliness are obvious universals that people wear the same, especially where being relational with God is concerned.

If people reach out to you for any reason, in email, text, calls or even standing face to face, RESPOND. When you do not take the time to respond, react, reply or make individuals you call friend, feel like a friend or feel loved, they will leave. Any relationship, be it in church, outside church, a relationship with Jesus, whomever, needs time for growth. It needs fed, watered & nourished from ALL facets of the church family. Not just on Sunday & not just when we need volunteers. If you want leaders to emerge from the ashes, then take the time to grow these friendships, then you will find your hearts on fire. You cannot expect people will instantly sign up for anything the church offers, when they feel alone/lonely/isolated/confused. Especially, if they’ve reached out & have been ignored & overlooked. It almost comes off as this, “I can’t remember the last time I paid attn to you, or asked you over for coffee or took time to know you & what your life is all about, BUT I’m really stressin cause we don’t have anyone to take over the so & so project, so ‘er yeah, God placed you on my heart to do this….wanna help me? And after you do, I’ll say thanks & go back to ignoring you again because well you know, I’M BUSY, but you understand that right? Cause we are ALL so busy these days. You know? You do know? K. Thanks.” 

I am sure that rubs someone the wrong way. Irritates. Maybe causes you to root your rear ends in your seat a little. Maybe stings. Maybe you’re judging me right now. Or maybe you are the person this is happening to or this has happened to & you’re hurt. You’re frustrated this on appearance, friendly, warm, happy, loving, body of Jesus, sold you Jesus, they sold you their church, you’re tired, your heart is heavy, you need prayer, you need a friend & you can’t reach out anymore. You’re exhausted with it. Bringing it up one more time causes you to look needy & weird & clingy. So you withdraw & guess what, still nobody notices. Then you stop attending & guess what, nobody contacts you. And yep you were right again, church sucks. Not God, but the church. Anybody feeling me here???

Some times the least of these, the broken, the malnourished in Spirit & life are church members. Not these “lost wandering unbelievers.” Those right next to you that we pass with a lukewarm smile & semi embracing hug during the Sunday morning meet & greet. The church has a message of Jesus, but not a message of relationships that mirrors Jesus. I cannot imagine emailing Jesus for his advice on something or texting him (can you believe I’d text Jesus, so 2013) & He never responds in ANY response whatsoever, because He was busy or because I am longed winded & annoying. Because instead of seeing I am growing, I need fed, I get shuffled off & forgotten.  But, that day He spent a significant amount of time on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, He texted & called his peeps all day about things like, how tired He is from being so busy & other stuff that’s keeping him busy, He watched some TV, He looked to see what may be on sale to make His house look nice, He perused Amazon for some more books about growing the church & being a great leader/parent/friend/follower, He walked around some stores when He didn’t have His kids with Him, He scheduled his next guys night/date night/couple date night/family group night…..but He juuuust couldn’t find 5 minutes to share himself with me. The one whose heart is on fire. The one who spent years avoiding church, because people ruin church. But, NOT this one, it’s different & now it doesn’t appear to be very different. Somebody knows this-

If this is you, then I want you to know from the pit of my soul, I am sorry this has happened to you. I am sorry if I allowed this to happen to you. I am sorry the church as a whole has done this crap to you. I am sorry for the cliques & the isolation. I am sorry you feel like you have something to prove to the church, rather than Jesus. I am sorry because I feel you. I get you. It’s THE most painful thing to experience & you or anyone else, should NOT  know that type of emptiness that accompanies salvation. Yes, we depend solely on God, but before we can know what that means, we need hands & feet & arms that will wrap us up & help grow us. People need to know people care. So today please know whoever you are, I care & I will be praying for you. Jesus cares. And I pray for all of those who are standing there while people are turning away….grab them. If you are leaving churches, I pray you have another one that will house you like a home. Don’t quit Jesus because you’re hurting. You can quit a lot of things, but that is the worst choice you will ever make. Praying for you friends……..

{John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends} Can you even imagine a world of glory if people actually felt this way for everyone, not just those they chose; those who made them secure within the boundaries of their comfort zones?

“Jesus was a poor & humble servant. He was homeless. He wasn’t flashy & fancy. He had a clear message. Go make disciples. Give up & sacrifice it ALL to make disciples. Anyone. Everyone. The Jesus we sell today, does not line up with the Jesus in the word. Who cares what the church “looks” like if we are not changing & transforming lives. Anything less than this is cheap salvation. It’s time to stop faking church & baby talking & baby sitting spoiled Christians who feel entitled. We are not building micro kingdoms. What’s happening is the attractional church only attracts other Christians; we’re “reshuffling” the kingdom” – Jen Hatmaker

It’s time to grow from the inside out. Not just bringing the outside in. That will come when God says it’s time, not when we we force it. Jesus started with 12, not 12 thousand. Remember that y’all.

love_thy_neighbor

 

Dating My Son

It’s no doubt if you know me, you know I am so in love with my kids, that I just don’t know how to place words on the depth of how I feel about them. Whether it be your spouse, kids or love for Jesus…..it’s just not something you can explain to someone who hasn’t been in the thick of it. It has to be experienced & felt for yourself.

My son is 15, closer to 16 now. The weirdest thing in my life to wrap my head around. A little boy shot up to someone who can vote & fight for our country in a few years & you’d think it happened overnight. I had the luxury to stay home with him until he went to K & even though many yrs of our journey were spent, just the 2 of us, I always made a point to “date” him. Whether it was movies, dinners, trips, the beach,the museum, etc I always made a point to enjoy life with him outside of the hustle & bustle. Those are the places & moments you really get to “know” each other as individuals. I will assure you I’ve learned more from him than he can ever dream of learning from me. (I encourage you, whatever your kids ages, even grown, if you’re not doing this on a regular basis, you’re missing out, you’re jipping them & yourself of the most beautiful bonding you can experience.)

Since my daughter was born, almost 3 yrs now, sigh, our dates & our trips were put on pause for awhile. We really grieved that time so much, especially as we draw nearer to college & his departure (weeps). He’s the most amazing child & God blessed me a million fold to watch my family legacy grow through my son’s future. He’s definitely someone I brag on often because I believe in God’s plans for him so much & have watched it unfold for years. I assure you he will do great & wonderful things & I pray they are always for kingdom purposes.

As we have started re-dating, we decided to pack up shop, leave daddy & sis home for a few days & head to NYC for a spring break trip in March. It was one of THE most enjoyable/fun/awesome moments we’ve had together. Almost like time stopped for us for a minute. I also realized on that trip, how mature & responsible he really is & how I should give him more credit for holding his own. If it wasn’t for his map reading & subway directorial skills, I would’ve had us in Jersey. We only had one incident where we almost killed each other  had a disagreement. 8pm outside a dark, deserted tunnel in Central Park, arguing if that was the way we were supposed to go & the other one afraid we might be murdered. Hilarious now, not then. Only ding we had.

For your laughter/humor purposes & a future reminder when my brain gets elderly, I kept notes of some of the things that were said/experienced, that cracked us both up. I have a list for you. Enjoy it. I hope it brings you a smile & encourages you to take time for one on one memories also, before there isn’t any time left.

In no particular order & not always obvious who said it, but otherwise plain as day:

  • Magneto just got on this train
  • Dimitri Martin just passed us & looked me in the eyes
  • Mom, STOP taking pics of the ghetto
  • Gosh that girl looks like an older version of Grace. “yeah if we were Mexican they’d be identical 0_o
  • Was that guy being a dbag & totally treating us awful or was there something wrong with him? Because in this city I can’t tell the difference
  • Why are all of these people dressed up like giant critters & swarming Times Square?
  • Mom! Mom! Look, it’s Batman……Heeeeeeey Batman
  • Wouldn’t it be funny if I pushed you? Pushes me jokingly. Wasn’t funny, I’m scared of heights–On the 80th floor ledge of the top of Rockefeller Ctr
  • Dude, read this story of the 1st plane hitting the Trade Ctr. “NO” But seriously read this. “We are stuck in a plane, in NYC, with a wing issue. How about NO”
  • Whoa what’s going on in the subway? (as NYC’s finest carry hatchets down into the subway) “Oooh can we go down & see if there are bodies?” “No way. Let’s wait here until they bring them up & I can take pics”
  • I think we’ve walked 30 miles today. We should seriously ‘walk’ a marathon some day
  • Question to a cop, “Why is Wall St blocked off?” “Several packages were found that could be bombs” “Ok thank you” walk away…… “Sweet!! We’re getting ALL of the action on this trip. Let’s circle the block for a close up” And in no way worried we may be blown up
  • You may be the only person who brings their Bible & devotionals on vacation. “Well, I’m not on vaca from God”
  • If ONE more small, Asian person walks directly up in my grill saying Fendi/Gucci/Louis/Juicy/ back room, it’s gonna get real on Canal St
  • Mom, these are THE best dumplings I’ve ever eaten. Please God don’t let it be cats (China Town)
  • I’m not impressed by this Brooklyn Bridge, it’s a bridge. I like that one over there much better, the one with no one on it
  • Dang Liberty is tiny. No way I’m fitting in the crown OR the torch
  • I wonder how many years it will take for Bob Ross paintings to show up here? (At The Met)
  • Man this stuff is fascinating. People are going to hate the crap we leave behind in a few thousand years (Still at The Met)
  • If I lived here all I would do would be, eat. Eat & Eat. I wouldn’t be fat because I walked all of the time. But seriously. I came on this vacation primarily excited to eat.

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