The Comforts of “Church”

What a month it has been.

Returning from Uganda and getting back to the American lifestyle has been quite different. Everything, relaxing on the couch, eating a meal, driving a vehicle, going to church all have a new meaning that wasn’t there before. In Uganda, relaxing was more of a time to build relationships and be surrounded by others so now that I am back home, relaxing is a completely different task. Eating a meal in Uganda consisted of different food, a different setting and a time of bonding with the family. Dinner time in America is fast paced, rushed and all about preparing for the tasks ahead. Driving a vehicle is different, because traveling over there is done through mostly walking and riding a bus. Also, the roads are dirt so driving to and from consists of many bumps and rough terrain. The last adjustment that caused some getting used to was attending a place of worship. Reflecting on attending church in Uganda¬† and America are two entirely different experiences. This experience is one that I will never forget and will always hold a sweet place in my heart.

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Church.

what does it mean to you?

Comfort. One of the major factors in attending church.

It exists from the entrance of the building to the exiting of the service.

What if all of the “comfort” of the church was stripped away?

If the church building was not confined to a building that looked pleasant on the outside with glass doors and a large parking lot was instead a fence of boards covered with a pieced together tine roof?

Would you attend?

What if instead of having a padded pew or chair to sit in, there was a piece of bark holding you up from the ground?

What if there was no clock in the building there was the Spirit of God that determined the length of the service?

How about the heat or coolness of the building; would a hot Summers breeze be enough to get you to stay?

What if instead of living in the comfort of the same pastor getting up to lead a service there were hours and days of testimonies given from the congregation about what God is doing in their lives?

Would you stay and listen?

What about the offering plate, would a dirty bucket or basket at the front of the room suffice to place your money?

What if instead of tithing 10% of what you had “in dollars” turned into 10% of ALL you had such as food and clothing?

What if the congregation wearing their best to church was stripped away to wearing all you have to church?

Would you stop and stare or love and share?

Through just these few experiences in Uganda, I have grown to not just attend church based on the comfort level but attending church because God’s presence is present in His people and with His children.

Church now has a new meaning to me upon discussing the topic and entering the building.

Comfort is something that is not placed on my list when it comes to attending God’s house.

Comfort means to be at home with my Jesus and my church family.

You see, God never promised that coming to Him would be comfortable.

He promises that in Him you will find your comfort, not in a building.

(Ephesians 2: 19-22)

(Hebrews 1-:25)

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Lavished Upon and Lovely

Have you ever had the opportunity to just sit in the presence of God without distraction, unwanted noise and in complete stillness? There is nothing like the presence of God that can just rush over you like a rushing wind.

Tonight, I had the opportunity before the end of the evening to sit and watch a women’s conference online that truly touched my heart. The conference was entitled “Lovely” in which it was all devoted to the idea that God looks down on His daughters as lovely and without blemish. It is so hard for women to truly remain open to the idea that God’s view of us remains lovely despite our imperfections. Lets face it, we, more than men, focus on our flaws so much that we cannot see past them. For this reason, it is difficult for us to comprehend the idea that God’s view of us is always pure, lovely and radiant regardless of our circumstances.

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“Lovely,” according to the dictionary means “having beauty that appeals to the emotions as well as to the eye.”

To think that the God of the Universe looks down and sees beauty when His eyes catch mine amazes me. It is so hard to understand but the truth is, God cannot be understood and is not meant to be. He is the I Am. He is, was and always will be. We can’t look past tomorrow and to think that God already has our plans written in His book? What a mystery…

His mysterious love for us as His daughters as well as His sons creates draw to His presence. In His presence we are made lovely in His eyes. To Him, there is no greater beauty than the radiance of His children. That is why He chooses to bless us in ways we can’t even explain because His view of us is nothing short of lovely.

Outpouring His blessings upon us is something that He never fails to do. Another word that has caused me to ponder God’s image of me has to do with the way that He pours out His love on those He does love.

“Lavish,” according to the dictionary is “immoderate in giving or bestowing.”

¬† To lavish someone is to cover them fully. What a way to describe the Father’s love toward us, lavish. He lavishes His love upon us on a daily basis. Lavish is such a meaningful word to describe just what God does to His daughters and sons. He lavishes His love upon us so mightily that often times, the stress of our problems or current struggles seems to fade away. It’s His presence that makes all the difference. It’s His presence that causes a lavishing of not only His love but His joy, peace, stillness and constant provision. God chooses to lavish those things upon us when we choose to spend time acknowledging His constant companionship.

Without time spent in His presence, the words lavish and lovely take on the human definition without finding the true meaning. Lavish and lovely are two words that God uses in a very powerful way to abundantly bless and open hearts to the power of His Spirit.

Colossians 3:1

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

To know that we are Lovely in the eyes of our Creator and that because of His lovely image of us, He chooses to lavish that love upon us is such a mystery.

Daily, I choose to walk through His mysterious love as He lavishes His blessings upon each step of my faith journey.

I am lovely and lavished upon by the King.

His presence is Heaven to me

God’s presence is the only thing I need. I found comfort in this truth tonight.

When my world feels consumed with busy days, long hours and a mind racing fast; His presence is what gives me my center.

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On nights like this, I wish that every night could include moments of peace just like this one. But the truth is, it often is not the case. Most evenings I spend my time worrying about what tomorrow is going to bring or preparing for what I see ahead of me. It’s so easy to tell people that are consumed with life to “come to Jesus” but in my times of stress and worry do I truly come to Jesus? Do I spend my evenings giving back to God what He has given to me? I definitely don’t do it enough.

Living in this world of abundance, it’s so easy to slide right into the worldly worries and cares. All the while, God is calling us to come to Him and give Him our worries and our cares. He not only tells us to simply give them to Him but to “cast” them onto Him. (1 Peter 5:7) When we think of giving something to someone, we often think of just handing it over without an action being attached to it. However, when Peter says to “cast” your worries and cares on Him he means to “throw off or away”. There is an action connected with the word cast. We are to literally throw off our worries and cares of tomorrow, today or our future over to the One who holds our tomorrows, today and our future. Without the action, our worries and cares will simply stay our worries. Our minds will continue to be filled with sinful thoughts that cause us to live our lives less than the calling of Christ.

Directly after stating that we must cast all our worries and cares upon Christ, Peter states in verse 8,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

It’s no coincidence that most of us get so wrapped up in the world that the cares of this world distract us from our focus on Christ. Within these verses, Peter is trying to relay the message to us that our minds are Satan’s battle ground. If Satan can get our minds focused on the worries and cares of tomorrow, he has us right where he wants us. Our minds are at the forefront of Satan’s attacks. What we think about or dwell on is what consumes us. That is why in Romans 12:2, Paul says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind because our mind has the power to lift us up or tear us down.

Taking the time to renew our mind is so important and has to be a continual process if we are to resist the devil and his schemes. If we don’t want Satan to take control, we have to take back in the name of the Lord what is His and that is our mind. If our minds are set on the things of above, Satan does not have any hold on us. (Colossians 3:2)

It’s time for us to spend time in God’s presence, renewing our mind, and resisting the devil.

Be transformed through the power of God’s Word and time in His unfailing and loving arms.

Where He is, there is freedom!