Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Church of Christ

Yesterday, I read an article about Anne Rice. It said she’s leaving Christianity. Actually I don’t read her books and her position on anything doesn’t matter, but this caught my attention. I figured she was more of a gal who considered herself a Christian because she was born to parents who were not a part of another religion. What surprised me was her statement: 

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me,” Rice wrote. “But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

Rice isn’t the only one who stated this. I’ve read that Ghandi was seeking Jesus, and actually loved Jesus, but when he went to a church he was turned away.

Wow…what a testimony to a picture of ourselves as conservative Christians. As a group we can look in the mirror and ugly stares back. Christ is difficult to emulate: He lent a hand and support to a woman caught in adultery; he told a story of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, and in each of these stories the theme was going against cultural and traditional religious rules to give of ourselves–just as he had practiced before them with the adulterous woman.

Few Christians show this side–most days I don’t, I’m sure. Our churches try to demonstrate Christ through the rules, and if you break one of those rules (written or assumed) then you’re considered to be “out of fellowship”. Where I live those rules mean to be Republican, don’t drink, cuss or smoke, and so-on. Some denominations say no instrumental music, others say no hair cutting, then others suggest you have no faith if you get sick, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. These rules actually drive people away from Jesus, because they make ‘him’ look like a  man with a check list waiting to condemn people to hell.

I read that Sandra Bullock didn’t want to play a Christian lady in The Blind Side, and said no three times. In the end she was totally pulled to Leigh Anne Tuohy because Leigh Anne gave sacrifically. She was born in a home of privilege that practiced segregation. For Leigh Anne and Sean to embrace the plight of Michael Oher was sacrificial on all levels. Now we have a beautiful success story, but I’m sure seven years ago the road was very difficult.

Beginning today make the word “Christian” mean more than a fried chicken eating, self-righteous pew warmer. Rules and finger-pointing is much easier than show grace and self-sacrifice. Jesus said if he was lifted up then he would draw all men to him. Instead of picketing Planned Parenthood, bring the workers some coffee then ask the next person coming for an abortion if they want to live with you for the next few months as you will take care of all their needs. Instead of trying to find the President’s birth certificate, spend that hour praying for him. Find a single parent or widow and help them around the house.  Be willing to have your motives questioned by your fellow church members–be willing to be kicked out of your comfortable church because you spoke up or acted like Jesus. The road isn’t always easy being a Christ follower, but the rewards will be eternal.

Advertisements

Trans-Siberian Orchestra by Michael Tyler

Trans-Siberian Orchestra as photographed by Michael W. Tyler

On Sunday we went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and with all the lights and acoustics I suddenly felt like I could be on that stage performing. I was dreaming like when I was younger and it seemed like the sky was the limit on what I could do and who I could become. When you are young you don’t think about not seeing a loved one again.

The last twenty-four hours has been nostalgic in that I longed to be back at my grandparent’s house. There were certain things that could only happen there with them like my grandfather calling Santa “Santy”. Or my grandmother always burning the bottoms of cheap biscuits–those you buy in four pack for around a dollar for the four.

Everyone was welcomed at their home. Family members who might not be welcomed anywhere else were welcome to come and have a bite to eat and fellowship. Because my grandparents were peacemakers, no one who had an ought with another got mad at Jewell and Ercie for befriending the other party. This gift has been passed down to my parents as they could have hostile acquaintances come to their table and peace would take over everyone…there was no more family or friend “war”.

This is Christmas Day…the day our Savior was born and it was through him that our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled to God. Today is the day you need to find that loved one who has been outside the warmth of your embrace…if you can’t find them by traditional means search through Google, Facebook and MySpace. Make this a “Lost Sheep Day” and welcome them home.

I started this blog by talking about youth and things we don’t think of such as losing our loved ones. On Christmas Eve morning I lost a friend named Jack. He was a beloved pastor who had the heart of a child and embraced everyone. I’ve known Jack for eight years and suddenly time was gone: time to tell him how much I loved him or how much embodied the grace of Jesus in his everyday life.

On Christmas Eve night a close friend became a grandmother. That baby is just like the baby that comes to everyone. Remember that special love the first time you saw your child, sibling, friend? If you are not in touch…reach out and get in touch TODAY!!! Blessings…

…are the words to a popular Christian song. We sang it at CFO. As we sang I started thinking about grace being enough. You know it’s great to have grace extended to us, and (at those times) grace IS enough for us. Grace was and is all about the work that Jesus did on the cross. Yet in our neck of the woods we tend to enjoy meddling in other people’s business. Call it what you will, but we have an opinion on everything and how people need to do it. It might be the dress Sister Bessie is wearing. It may be the way our friends are raising their children. 

Does a worship service consist of three songs and a prayer, or is it an hour of rocking, jumping and swaying as we become deeply connected with the Lord? I personally don’t care much for Southern Gospel genre of music. Last night I went to a concert that was the Southern Gospel equivalent of Country Music’s Fanfare.  There in the middle of rose-scented talcum powder (no doubt applied with a fluffy puff) and Old Spice After-Shave, I found myself experiencing a little bit of heaven on Earth. I was caught up in the richness of harmony that’s sung (generally) with family.

In our Christian homes, sometimes there is a disruption of harmony. Family will be at odds over the silliest things…my closest friend’s sister-in-law was mad at her mother for four years because of dish detergent. Sometimes it is big: a child or sibling or friend announces (s)he is gay. Oh my…then we get all structure and legalistic on our dearest gifts from God. Then grace isn’t enough. At least grace from us—the grace that says “I’ll love you no matter what” to “until you change you can’t come home”. Maybe there’s even a hint that it would have been better had we died.

So if grace is enough, then grace is enough. Grace isn’t “love the shoes, love the dress” when we honestly hate it. That’s lying. Grace is laying down our expectations, desires, wishes and loving beyond reason. That’s what Jesus did, and it was enough.

I think if it was enough for Jesus, then loving beyond reason and when it is most difficult should be enough for us. And when you love beyond reason…heaven will open no matter where you are. Corrie ten Boom was able to tell the world: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Grace isn’t subtly wrapped in rules or ultimatums. His grace is enough!

What do you think about the earthquake in China? What about Dafur? What about the starving children in Myanmar? What about the Christians in Laos: the pastor who was killed and now his wife continues his church and preaches grace? What about a certain child I know who is dying and his parents don’t have the money for gas to get to the hospital? These are issues that also need our attention.

As a Christian I think we need to be about the Lord’s business, and that means letting those we love know how much we love them…and we need to love them in more than just words. I’ve often heard the scripture from James quoted: “faith without works is dead.” People used it to emphasize the need to cook meals, witness or whatever to show they were/are working for the Lord. Let me put a new twist on it…

If the foundation for our faith is what Jesus did when he died for our sins. Then our faith is based on unconditional love and grace. “The works” would be showing grace and forgiveness to others. Now is a time to show what Jesus is all about. Here’s what the world is hungry for…

The Amish who embraced the shooter’s family. The church in Colorado who embraced the shooter’s family. The woman in Rwanda who has befriended the man who killed her husband and children. This is what the world is crying out for…the very thing that by passes the mind goes straight to the heart and makes people want to be better to their fellow man.

It is my opinion that my faith is only undermined when I set conditions on love. My children are strong in their faith when I’m acting like the Amish with the shooter’s family. The world wants what I have when my actions are like the Amish with the shooter’s family…

In short, there will begin to be battles now that the California Supreme Court has stepped up to the plate. We conservative Christians can fuss and fight, and maybe win politically, but what will we lose?

NOW is the time for all of us who carry the name of Jesus to step up to the plate. Our acts of grace will go to the heart…think about it…practice it everyday…watch things change.

May 12, 2008
And You Invited Me In
“In the conservative church, our problem is not having enough grace. Grace is the name of our ship and why we are saved. Extending grace when it seems impossible what the book is about.”

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

 

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) It’s a tragedy that Cheryl Moss Tyler’s book “And You Invited Me In” would be considered controversial in most conservative evangelical circles.

That’s because it’s a very readable and eminently Biblical exhortation for self-described Bible believing Christians to show the love of Jesus Christ to homosexuals. Once I began reading “And You Invited Me In,” I couldn’t put it down. If you choose to purchase the book, and I strongly suggest you consider doing so, I believe that you’ll experience the same reaction I did.

Click here to link to and read the full review of And You Invited Me In by Jeremy Reynalds: http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2008/s08050065.htm

 (Photo by Sheliah Miller of Tulsa World/AP)

The photo is from yesterday’s twister in Oklahoma. We have relatives there who deal with this all the time. A storm like this carries incredible power to rearrange a landscape and change lives. As powerful as this twister was, the power of unconditional love and forgiveness is even greater.

Several times a year my mother will report that her fellow churchmen question: Why don’t we have ‘the power’? The Power they’re looking for is the power to lay on hands and a person is healed, delivered, or whatever is needed by the seeker. It would also be The Power to raise people from the dead. Frankly, when I die just let me go on and rest in Jesus arms—don’t be calling me back. That’s just me, and I need to get back to what I intend to say in this blog.

In my opinion The Power is only two things: unconditional love and forgiveness. From there you’ll be able to witness the nine visible attributes of Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. There’s no law against these, and people will be able to identify you as a follower of Christ because of these attributes.

Warning! Unconditional love is very difficult, but it’s something that Satan cannot copy. He can’t copy forgiveness either. And that’s The Power…this power might not be able to raise a dead person, but it’s the power that will transform a broken heart, heal a dispute, or resurrect a family.

I live in The South, and as the weather changes we experience tornadoes all spring and fall. I’ve seen hundreds of after-the-storm interviews on television. The only thing that matters to any of those being interviewed is that their family and friends made it out okay. After the storm it isn’t the gold Cadillac or the Prada shoes that matter.

Once we’re living with Jesus and can look back on this life we’ll see how important relationship is and wonder why we didn’t move quicker to reconcile. In the hereafter it won’t matter what “Sister Susie” thinks. It will only be about how much we did in forgiving and giving grace to the extent that it hurts.

So this Sunday in church think about the richness of relationship. Think about the person in your life who isn’t there anymore because of an “ought”—Bible term to mean “we got mad and haven’t made up yet.” As you reach out to them, forgive and restore, then The Power will come like a tidal wave.

 

 And You Invited Me In … read the book!

At the suggestion of my brother and his family, I made another YouTube video about why the book was written. Check it out: http://www.YouTube.com/cherylmosstyler.

Get the word out about the book…read it…THANKS!