Leigh Bratina's Two Cents:
The piece below came to me through an email from a family member. She and I both have had some "negative experiences" through our former church homes. Don't get me wrong, if church is where you feel you need to be to hear the word of God, I think you emphatically should be there. But for me, it is that scripture that resonates within me, "Be still and know that I am Lord". Be still. Still. My God is everywhere, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anytime and always, there. He hears my prayers as I drive down the road in my automobile, as I sit in the quiet library, as I walk my children down the street to meet the bus. He knows my most inner thoughts and feelings. I am comforted by his presence that envelopes my every day. I don't have to go to church to seek him. I am not perfect, I am a sinner, as we all are. But I do know that through our faults there are real lessons to be learned. Let HIM be your subject. To me, church is the schoolhouse of learning the fundamentals of Christianity. It is a constant work in progress, but it cannot only be found at church. I think you also find God through living and those daily conversations and some reading of the good book. At the risk of sounding judgemental, I know many people that are practising "Sunday Christians". To me it is not about whether you attend church on Sundays, it is how you live your life every day of the week. This is what I am teaching to my children. Setting an example, not as a "ner do gooder", but as the sinners we all are. It is how we rectify things with God. How we beg forgiveness and lay those sins before him, seeking his Divine intervention and word. It is not something you do, it is the way you live. The Lord is in my heart, he posses my soul. I do not need a "church home" pedigree to feel worthy of His love. I do not need to feel guilt for the places I seek my Lord. I am content in His presence in my daily life. These ideals may not be right for everyone, but this is the way I worship. I worship and serve Him by the way I live my everyday as a child of God. I don't think there is only one way to worship. We come to know Him in our own way and can find Him everywhere. Be still.
Transformation By Joan Wilson
Transformation By Joan Wilson
printed below with her consent (thank you , Joan. Also thanks to Brandon, from Cherokee County for the crosses picture. He took these while "storm chasing".)
I shall never forget a major turning point in my walk with the Lord. I was failing to measure up. I wasn't doing what I’d been taught by Christians I respected.I was no longer active in church. Guilt weighed heavily upon me though I felt I had followed the Lord's leading by leaving the structured organization. It was Sunday and I dreaded Sundays. What should I do? Spend the day in prayer and Bible study? I grabbed my Bible, hoping to confirm that I was in His will, for I had been hit by someone with the Scripture about “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves.” I decided to do what many of us do. I played “Bible Roulette.” Cracking the Bible open, looking down at whatever page fell, whatever verse I saw before my eyes, hoping to find words from God that would speak to my heart. So I opened the Bible, knowing my fingers had deliberately stayed in Old Testament territory, trying to avoid the New Testament admonition about “assembling.” I looked down at the page in horror! I had opened the Bible to the Ten Commandments! And the first verse to catch my eye ....remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. I slammed the Bible shut and began to cry. Then came that soft, still voice inside me,Open it again. Look at it again. It took a while to thumb through the Bible and find the page this time, and when I did, I made myself look at, and then I read the Ten Commandments aloud. And as I spoke words that first had been chiseled in stone---hard, cold, Law melted into the living love of grace!Every commandment before my eyes became a promise! Not a rigid decree I had to perform, but my Father’s promise to me: I will have no other Gods before Him, I will not take the name of the Lord in vain, I will remember the Sabbath day and keep it a holy day of rest… At this point I stalled out. And my Father said softly, I am your Sabbath, rest. I crumbled in gratitude, overwhelmed by such love, seeing every commandment in the list a promise--- a promise He is fulfilling in me! Oh, Christian, stop trying to perform holiness! Get in touch with the only One who is holy. Accept the reality of His presence within you, for the only place you will ever experience Him is inside you! There is no other meeting place! None. Your body may be in a church building, at home, at work, in a bar or a brothel when you experience Him! God Himself can meet you anywhere, because He goes wherever you go! You can't get away from Him. You can try to avoid Him by staying busy, going, doing, running, keeping people and noise around you, the TV, the car radio blaring, but wherever you go, He is there, with you, in you. Stop running. Be still and know Him. The Person of the living, resurrected Christ is the best kept secret in all Christendom. Hidden inside you! We are a treasure field about to be discovered by ourselves---and by the whole world.