Sunday Thoughts: I am not that Kind of Christian

 What’s love got to do with doing Church?

I was asked a fair question recently by a unaware person, nice person, who knew me once upon a time, in another life. She simply asked, “Why do you no longer go to ****** Church?” (Name of church omitted by me to protect the innocent.)

I gave her question some thought. I love my old church family. I still communicate with many of the some people I went to church with, so it wasn’t that I didn’t want to associate with them any more. I still consider myself an Episcopalian in a lot of ways, so it wasn’t the Church big “C” that I was avoiding. My reasons for not settling down with one church was simple really.

One church, one Christianity method of serving God does not have all the answers. Each in their own way put God in a box that they construct with interpretations of the Bible, traditions and human invented rules. They then expect me (and You), dear reader, to fit as a perfect conformed shape to hold that particular box. I am not very pliable for conformity to certain shaped boxes. Therefore I drop said box all too often. I find that I can’t live up to the expectations of what many of the box builders expect. It is better to save them and me the agony of trying to get me to reshape to fit their version of God. I simply walk away. No mention of love there.

I am not one of those Christians that think that only main stream Christianity is the way to serve God. I believe that all religions hold some truth of God and that saying one is better or more true than another is foolish. To say that an all powerful omnipresent God will only use one religion to commune with His human creation is ridiculous. To say that God will only answer to one name is equally arrogant. No mention of love in that. However, I digress….

I am not one of those Christians that say, “ I just don’t like organized religion.” I actually love it. The more structured and Scripture filled the better. I love the singing, praying, and bible dissection. I love the communion with God and fellow humans. I don’t even mind tithing. No, I like church.

I am not one of those Christians who blindly follow a teaching because I learn it in Church, so it must be true. I always take the time to study and research a truth for myself. I don’t like being told how to love God and humans. I don’t like being told that I must serve in certain ways through the church. I hate feeling like less of a Christian if I don’t go to every function or serve on committees. I hate the back biting and politics that come with church membership. Where’s the love in that? However again, I digress…..

I am not one of those Christians who follow a teaching because a preacher said I should. I also don’t like to be told that the message I got from God through my own prayer life was incorrect. Excuse me? It is not our place to judge other humans. God told me to love everyone and you are saying yes but not certain people? No thanks. I will follow what the Bible says and what God says on that one. Let me remind you what the Bible says about that, good Christian….

I believe that love is the number one point of being a Christian. Sharing God’s love by following Christ’s example, however that looks like for you is what makes you a Christian. Not what church you walk in to or not.

~Lori O’Gara

(Lori is a novelist and self proclaimed expert on how to be a non traditional, people loving, happy life living Christian. Read more about her here.)

Article also published on Medium. 

Sunday Thoughts: Rest in God

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Sometimes you just find yourself exhausted. Not the sleepy tired that goes away with a good night’s sleep but the bone weary tired. You know the one, you go to bed with it and wake up with it the next morning.

Yeah, that one. We knew it is coming because we begin to feel it in the middle of the day. It taps us on the shoulder and says hey, how about a nap? Usually we are standing at work putting our best customer service smiles on, waiting in the grocery store line or some other place that frowns upon sleeping, like sitting in church on Sunday morning.

Excuse me mam, you are storing.

God tells us this sort of soul tired is to be expected. ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The burden he is talking about isn’t the kind you physically carry but the emotional one that changes from day to day. Emotional burden come from many causes. Life causes stress good and bad. Many people are living with emotional burden and do not show it because they have found a way to cope. They might be repressing their emotions and this can often be more damaging. Coping and repressing brings the exhaustion that sleep won’t fix. Sharing the burden with someone you trust and making a plan to deal with it is one way to handle the burden.

This burden is not always because life is difficult or from something bad. Even when life is good we have this burden. It may be the overwhelming happiness that you are terrified you may loose, It may be the responsibility of supporting a family, because well, children like to eat. Life may be all picket fences and daisy chains that is making you tired.

Sometimes you just need to rest. Stop what you are doing, give the burden to God, lay down and rest.

Believe in the power of restoring rest and letting God handle your stuff.

~Lori O’Gara

(Also published on Medium.com)

Sunday Thoughts: He Lives

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Resurrection of Jesus has many consequences for us today. It means that we have a living reason to stand for truth, a hope for the future and a foundation to place our faith. Not everyone who was lucky enough to be there when Jesus vacated the tomb believed He lived.  I am amazed that even after Jesus was seen by several people after He was risen, that people still didn’t believe it. The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses. The apostles appealed to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection. Everyone at that time was talking about it.

When He ascended into heaven over five hundred people witnessed His departure. Yet, some still did not believe what they saw. Those that did believe that Jesus was in fact alive and returned to His heavenly home told everyone they encountered. They spread the gospel far and wide. As a result they were  beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified.  Even in the face of fear, the face of death, they laid down their lives as  proof of the truth of their message.

Jesus lives, He died for us and rose again.

He lives. What’s more He will return for us!

We must believe in the Resurrection of Christ.  Paul puts the Resurrection of Jesus this way (1 Corinthians 15:14-17) “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

We are forgiven.  We are not under the threat of death if we share the gospel, yet we are more often than not silent. We go about our daily lives faithful, but how much are we sharing the gospel?

We haven’t seen Him. We never walked and talked with Him, we certainly did not get to witness His death, burial, His Resurrection and  Ascension to the Father, but we believe in the person, the divinity for Jesus. We should be telling everyone! Sharing the gospel with everyone. What do we have to lose?

Galatians 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

What are you waiting for?  Tell everyone about the life, death, Resurrection and love of Christ.

Happy Easter.

~Lori O’Gara

 

Sunday Thoughts: You are Loved

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“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.” ― A.A. Milne, The Pooh Story Book

Every word of this quote is true. He wrote it for his son, however we can all learn some valuable lessons by looking at these words in detail. Milne did not speak about God or religion often. He did call Hitler the anti Christ. He write poems that indicated he was thinking about God and believed God exist. The words in the poem are encouraging and thought provoking either way.

You are brave. The trick to being a brave soul is to believe it not feel it. Your emotions can deceive you. You can listen to your heart it always tells the truth by your emotions that live in your brain flat out lies.

You are strong.  Every time you are placed in to a situation that you think you can’t deal with then you make it through, you learn more about your strength. This is a tough one because mostly it is the stressful, sad and devastating moments that teach us our strength.

You are smart. There are different kinds of smart. There are book smart people and there are common sense or street smart people. I believe that everyone has the capacity to be smart. It is in your brain someplace. Where the brain is not good for emotions it is wonderful for logic. You have to brave enough to tap in to your smarts.

You are loved. If you were ever loved just once then are you forever loved. God sends love to us through each other and, I believe through pets. You may be alone right now but somewhere on this planet or in the other spiritual realm someone loves you.

When you are loved, truly loved and you know it, all the other things, bravery, strength and smarts are all easy. You have nothing to fear and you can do anything you set your mind to when you have love.

Remember you can give all the things to someone else. You can encourage someone to be brave. You can give someone your strength and you can teach someone logic. Then you can love them trough all of life’s ups and downs.

What is in it for you? You become courageous, you get stronger, you learn more and you get loved back.

All of this will bring happiness.

See how wise A A Milne was? He may not have been a Christian, but God sure believed in him. God gave him a talent for sharing truth even if he did not know it. He wrote seven novels, some poetry, and various forms of non fiction.

If you haven’t read any of Milne’s works start with Pooh, and then read his other works of fiction and non fiction. Then let me know if you agree with me?

~Lori

(Also published on Medium) 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts: Grace of God

Have you ever heard the quote “The will of God will never take you, Where the grace of God cannot keep you” ?

It is a Biblical truth that God’s grace never fails. He is God. It is a Biblical truth that God has a will that wants us to do and be as He deems. When you trust the will of God it is true that you will fare much better in this life.

But, we naughty humans do not usually live that way. We have a will of our own and it often seems a lot more fun to follow it. If God is working in our lives, we will struggle to pull in the direction of our will. We do not always recognize that we are struggling against the will of God. This is where I like to meet my characters in my novels. Like you and me they are living in a state of conflict with God. They usually figure out that God knows better than they do,but not always. I have some rebellious personalities in my stories. We humans often we discover that we do not always make the right choices without God after it is too late and we are at our rock bottom.

That’s where we get in trouble.

Our way always looks easier and makes sense in our frame of thought. Sometimes it is easier. God is not about the easy path, he is about the right path. We have to live as we see fit even if it is against what we know is the right way for us.  Like rebellious children or book characters, we stomp our feet and fight against it until the exasperated parent, says “Fine have it your way! You’ll see.”

Lucky for us God has unlimited grace to forgive us, because He knows this won’t be the last time we use our will to get what we want.

Will we ever learn? Probably not.

~Lori O’Gara