It was about 10 years ago. Our family was struggling. My husband and I were faithfully watching a TV preacher every week. I had reluctantly started watching after my husband revealed to me that he had been watching church on TV. He said I might like what this TV preacher had to say.
I was livid thinking about the fact that he would turn to Christianity, he knew how I felt about Christians, and JESUS.
But we started watching church on TV together for over a year, and I had given my life over to CHRIST.
So when a flyer came in the mail advertising a local church that was starting a new series on parenting, I decided to save the flyer and pray about attending. My husband and I were already thinking about finding a church so it seemed like the right timing.
Our then 7 year old daughter was having major disobedience issues. I was 9 months pregnant with our third, and my son was a mere 16 months old. My marriage was literally hanging on by a thread.
When I think back to that flyer and that stage of life we were in 10 years ago I can remember the exact feeling that drew me to that church, it was HOPE.
This May is our 10 year anniversary of being a family that has been actively pursuing a life that honors Jesus, and who has been attending church on a regular basis.
I was hoping that church had the answer to all of my problems. There were some things going on in my home, my marriage, and in my family that I never wanted to be a reality for us.
I believed in JESUS, now. My heart was opened to the character of God and His Word.
But here I was with my heart and desires changed towards life, and towards God, but life was discouraging because I now had to learn what it meant to really live my life in a way that honored God.
As I remember why I started going to church in the first place it puts so much into perspective. Life is hard. The enemy wants to destroy everything, and everyone. I have personally been struggling with my own insecurities and doubts once again.
I have been discouraged, and it’s been difficult for me to draw close to God.
It’s been 10 years since I stepped foot inside the very first church I had ever belonged to. I think about how broken and messed up life was back then, and I was still able to draw near to God.
In the midst of feeling like my security had been ripped out from underneath me, my temptations were strongest, and my doubt in God almost unbearable.
The last 10 years of my journey have not been perfect but they have been consistently moving forward.
Even through the sin, temptations, anger, and uncertainty, my life has been transformed.
That’s why I know that when God’s word says that these three things are eternal, faith, hope, and love, I know it’s true.
When I walked into that church 10 years ago I didn’t find the help I was looking for, and through the years I often wondered if the church had any answers for me at all.
They did have one answer that has radically changed my life, that God loves me and I need to constantly pursue a deeper more intimate relationship with Him through prayer and reading His word.
The church helped me understand God’s character so that I could read His word through the context of WHO He is , not just by what He says, or even by the sometimes hard to digest stories told in the Bible.
Along the way I have been hurt and disappointed by many people inside and outside the church. But that path has just drawn me closer to God.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that discernment is knowing God’s character, and it is speaking truth and life to other people.
People turn to JESUS, and the church, because they are looking for something different, they are looking for a life that is better.
Our goal is to draw them closer to Jesus, and we can only do this through faith, hope, and love.
I think one of the hardest stories for me to reconcile in the Bible is the one about King David. God said that David was a man after His own heart, and yet David was an adulterer and a murderer, among other things.
But in reading this story through the context of God’s character, I realize that God never approved of David’s behavior, but David’s behavior never stopped God from loving him.
This is a huge revelation for me because I think a lot of us stay away from church and God because of offenses made towards us, or because the offenses we have made towards God.
But I started going to church because I knew that even though God didn’t approve of my lifestyle, and the choices that I had made, He still loved me.
I continue to go to church because even though it’s not perfect, and I know that God doesn’t approve of some things, I am always growing in my love for others and my Hope in Jesus, not people!
So today I resolve to continue drawing closer to God because I know He still loves me, and I know JESUS is my only HOPE to being righteous and holy.
Even when I feel judged or condemned by this world and my choices, I will never stop running towards God because He is my LIFE!
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No matter what Christmas was for us in the past, it seems like every year it has the opportunity, and the possibility, to be something completely different and brand new. That’s what Jesus brought with Him as He was born into this world; He brought with Him a clean slate, a fresh start, and something brand new to our lives and to our faith.
Today I invite you to come and take this imperfect advent journey with me to discover the beauty of the good and perfect gifts God has given us through His Son Jesus. Let us journey together to discover what those gifts are, how we can receive those gifts, and most importantly the importance of being a good steward of those gifts.