I Want to Live Alive

At 11pm, after a full night of working a fundraising banquet, and still suffering from the pain and discomfort of shingles, writing might be the last thing I should be doing.  But on my hour drive home, a song came on that I played over and over.  And I don’t know if it’s the caffeine from the extra cup of coffee I had tonight or if it’s the Holy Spirit…but I can’t sleep and everything that’s going through my head because of said song needs to come out.

First of all, I think it’s important to note – I recognize that I tend to talk a lot about my frustrations with today’s Church.  I would apologize, but I’m not sorry.  I don’t think if Jesus were in the flesh and here today that He would be happy with our Sunday morning version of “church.”  I don’t think we are living out what He wanted His Bride to be.  And I’m not okay with the status quo.  But, in saying that, I also think that it’s important to note that I STILL. GO. TO. CHURCH.  And it isn’t, necessarily, my favorite version of church either (if we’re being honest).  I believe that God plants us in His body where He wants us to be.  And we are placed there to learn, to serve, and to help others along (ALL three!).  I hope that if you are reading some of these posts, that you continue to heed His call.  The Church is sacred (read the Bible).  He is STILL using His Bride to accomplish His purposes.  And He can still use YOU where you are, as long as you are willing to be obedient to His plans and purposes for you.  And I can promise you that His purpose is not for you to be outside the Church.

But that isn’t why I’m writing tonight.  Tonight, I’m writing because…

I want to live alive.  Yep, you read that right.  I want to live alive.

“Don’t want to just survive
Be safe but half alive
This little light of mine
This little spark divine
I’m gonna let it shine

I am letting go of every fear
I am letting go of every lie
I am taking hold of every dream
You placed inside

I wanna live alive, I wanna live alive
I wanna live alive, I wanna live alive
Don’t wanna live a lie, don’t wanna live a lie
I wanna live alive and you make me alive

There’s danger up ahead
But I’m not running scared
You are the light of mine
You are the spark divine
You’re gonna help me shine

There’s a courage that is forged in pain
There’s a purpose in the furnace flame
I will risk my heart a thousand times
To feel again, to feel again, yeah

I wanna live alive, I wanna live alive
I wanna live alive, I wanna live alive
Don’t wanna live a lie, don’t wanna live a lie
I wanna live alive and you make me alive

…And you make me alive”

– Rend Collective, Live Alive

Listen/watch here.

I think a huuuuuuuge problem in the Church today is that most “Christians” aren’t living alive!!  How many church buildings or services have you walked into and the key ingredient that is missing is life?!?  Worship comes and goes and people barely even smile, arms are crossed the whole service, you might hear a cricket or two during the sermon, and half the people are out the door two seconds after service is over (or before!).  It’s depressing!  The Church isn’t just dying because numbers are dwindling and doors are closing.  I think the Church is dying because the people inside are already dead…well, at least spiritually speaking.  But I’m sure, sometimes, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference!

Did the Church forget what Christ has done??  The blood that was shed?  The forgiveness we will never be able to deserve?  Do they not know that they are in HIS presence?? Where is the joy?  Where is the love??  Where is the LIFE??????

Dear Church,

It is time to stop living in fear!  It is time to stop playing it safe and only living half alive!  As a blood-bought, born-again believer….as a Christian (little-Christ) – YOU are empowered with the Holy Spirit.  The very same power that rose Christ from His grave, lives within you!  Why aren’t you acting like it?!?  Why aren’t you living like it?!?

Are you letting His light shine or have you buried it somewhere deep inside??  Are the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, kindness, etc.) abundant?  Or has the enemy’s root of bitterness crept into your soul?  WAKE UP!!

He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine…and yet we “live” like He’s still in the grave!  That’s not living.  It’s merely existing.  That’s not what Christ has called us to.  He has called us to abundant life.  He has placed God sized dreams within each one of us.  Are you living His dreams?

What is keeping you from living alive?  Is it pain?  Let it forge your courage to keep building the Kingdom!  Is it trial or tribulation?  Allow Him turn it to good, as He has promised!  Is it bitterness?  Embrace the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome and produce the fruit that only He is capable of.  Is it fear?  Let it go!  HE is the light, He will help you shine!  As I once heard it said, if you believe it, if you really have His joy within in you and are living the full life He has offered….don’t forget to remind your face

Survive, life, half alive, rend collective, journey, song, God, devotion, daily, church, dying, hope, abundant, more

I, for too long, have lived only half alive because of fear and the “need” to please so many other people besides Him.   But I am done.  I am done walking on egg shells.  I am done hiding my emotions and passion.  I am done allowing fear to hold me back from what needs doing, from what needs said.  I want to live alive!!  And He makes me alive.  Which means that every single day, I have to die to self.  I have to die to the selfish desires and wants that are within me, so that I can truly and fully live!  Because what He has to offer is SO MUCH MORE!  And, yes, sometimes I forget to tell my face.  Because life is hard and sometimes, I’m just not feeling it.  But that’s why they’re called the fruits of the Spirit and not the fruits of Bri – because it is HIS power within me that enables me to be joyful (kind, peaceful, loving, etc.) despite the feelings that exist within me (I’m not saying we have to fake it, even Jesus wept, but we need to live alive!).

So for today, and tomorrow, and the next day, as for me and my house:

“This little light of mine, this little spark divine, I’m gonna let it shine….” 

Church, are you with me???

 

There is Still a Remnant

This post is for the weary traveler who is burnt out and ready to give up.

This post is for the one who has walked away from the church because it doesn’t look anything like the Church we see in the Bible.

This post is for the discouraged who see churches torn apart by offense and petty differences.

This post is for the one who has given up hope in anyone ever actually getting it.

This post is for the person who desperately yearns to see the that the supernatural love for one another Jesus spoke about is actually possible.

This post is for you.  This post is for me.

Because a month from now, a week from now, or even tomorrow – I’ll see or hear (or do!) something that leaves me completely discouraged and wounded, wondering how we are ever supposed to move forward, or how God is ever going to be able to work through the mess His creation has…well…created…or struggle with why no one seems to get it.  And I’ll need to hear what God has  spoken into my heart today….again.

I always struggle with just how vulnerable and transparent I should be when I write.  I definitely feel a bit safer here, on the other side of the screen, unable to see your face as you read the words that have been tucked inside my head and heart, just dying to get out.  But, usually, they are words I don’t often speak out loud because I’m too afraid of the reactions, too afraid of what other people think, and too afraid I won’t be able to defend myself.  But, I’m trying to let go of my need to please everyone…so here it goes…

Before explaining how God has encouraged me, I think it’s necessary to share what I have been struggling with lately.

First, I feel stuck.  Stuck in the middle of two worlds.  You see, most of my liberal friends think I’m a crazy right-wing conservative and a significant portion of my conservative friends and family think I’m a liberal nut.  I don’t fit cleanly in either party.  And, for some, that means I must be less of a Christian and, if they don’t think that, they at least lose a bit (or a lot) of respect for me.

Sad

We have made Christianity something it was never meant to be – political.  There are countless arguments as to why you can’t be a _____(insert name of ANY political party here)_____ and still be a Christian.  I’ve heard it all.  Some things I agree with and others I don’t.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is love.

We should be able to look past our political differences, no matter how Biblically rooted our beliefs may be, and really truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  I shouldn’t feel “less” than within the church.  I should feel safe to discuss (rather than demand) my opinion without fear of losing respect.  God’s conviction, when needed, can work beautifully in an environment of love and respect.  Guilt, however, is a tool of the enemy and thrives in environments of pride, isolation, and lack of compassion.

God isn’t limited to one side or the other and desires that all may come to Him!  Are we coming alongside Him or pushing people away from Him?  At the end of the day, I would rather err on the side of love.  If I’m going to be wrong – may it be that I loved too much instead of too little.

Love, Politics, Church, Sacrifice, Jesus, Remnant

Aside from politics, there is SO much more that breaks my heart about the church.  And I’m struggling.  Offense has infested every corner of the Church – people don’t act the way others think they should, feelings are hurt…but instead of learning to love through the mess, as Jesus has exemplified and called us to, we opt to leave, to run away from the problem.  And it is destroying the church.

And what about the fact that there aren’t very many people actually being the Church?!?  Coming for an hour or two on Sunday isn’t exactly what Jesus called us to either.  We care more about hymnals and pew colors than actually making disciples.  If Jesus were to attend “church” today, I have a feeling he would be heartbroken or enraged…or probably both.

And it’s all so overwhelming.  When it piles up, the mountain of imperfections and struggle seems insurmountable.  How?!?  How do we become the Church that God wants us to be?  How do we actually impact the Kingdom with the structure that exists?  How can we instill passion in those that have, for so long, just gone through the  motions?  How do we learn to love in a supernatural, offenses-forgiven, politics-don’t-matter, kind of way?

And then I was reminded of Israel.  They didn’t get it.  Over and over again, they “got it” but, what seemed like moments later, they were worshipping idols and forgetting their covenant with God.  And time after time, exile after exile, God maintained a remnant.  A remnant, a small remaining quantity of His people.

But not for their sake…

For His.  After all, His name was on the line.  The world at that time KNEW that the Israelites were the people of God.  So, in order to bring glory to His name, God maintained a remnant and saved His people (Multiply, Francis Chan).

And then, thanks to choice words in a podcast, I was reminded that there is a remnant of His people today as well.  There is remnant of people who are able to love, live with, and respect both democrats and republicans (Gasp!).  There is a remnant of people who are erring on the side of love, who are loving without reservation or expectation, who are exemplifying irrational forgiveness and learning to overlook offense.  There is a remnant of people who are choosing to fight through the mess, love God’s people, and reach out to the broken and outcast in our society, no matter the cost.

And it isn’t that small of a remnant.  It’s widespread and growing and I’m so excited to see what God is doing in this generation. When I stop focusing on the negative, I see glimpses of this remnant in so many places and it is extraordinarily encouraging.

So my words of encouragement for you:

  • If you are frustrated with church, don’t give up.  Our battles is NOT against flesh and blood.
  • If you are battling offense, if someone has hurt you, be sure to handle it Biblically instead of just walking away (see Matthew 18).  Again, our battle is not against flesh and blood and when we don’t handle things according to God’s word, the enemy wins.  Period.
  • If you’re frustrated with leadership, offer grace.  Being in leadership in the American church today is one of the most difficult places to be.  Everyone expects perfection and everyone wants things their way.  Most pastors are following Jesus and leading you the best they know how.  Encourage them, they need it more than you know.  Offended??  See above.
  • If you are stuck in the middle of politics and feel alone – you’re not!  Don’t ever forget it.
  • If you don’t love your church, check your heart, “Our King, who allowed Himself to be tortured and killed for us, tells us to love one another in the same way.  Have you ever even considered loving a fellow Christian as sacrificially and selflessly as Christ loved you?  When was the last time you looked at a Christian brother or sister selflessly, wanting to bring him or her life no matter what the cost” (Francis Chan, Letters to the Church)?
  • If you are discouraged with no one getting it, soooo many people are.  Here’s a few of my go-to’s for genuine encouragement and inspiration:

The above list might not be your speed.  And, you know what, that’s perfectly okay.  Unity isn’t about us agreeing on everything (or even anything!).  I’m still going to love you at the end of the day even if you think Francis Chan is a heretic or that Rend Collective isn’t all that great.

Because the love of Christ supersedes all of that.

Keep looking for the remnant.  Let go of the negative.  Focus on the positive.  As I heard recently – it doesn’t matter if the cup is half full or half empty – there is still water in the cup!  There is still a remnant.  Go live like it.  Go love like it!