Bored of God

By Michael Au

When you first came to know God you may have been really engaged to know more about the Bible, Jesus, some of the characters in the Bible, and many aspects of Christianity. However as time goes on your engagement with God may have waned.

Not like you don’t follow God but rather you don’t seem to find God too interesting.

SmileyFacesBoredBasically bored of God.

Your walk with God will be boring at times but does that mean it has to remain that way? Does God have to be fascinating just when you first came to know Him or can your current relationship with Him be filled with much more excitement?

The lie we may entertain at times is, “God is boring.” Yet the reality is, “God can be exciting.”

King David knew God’s right hand was full of eternal pleasures (Ps 16:11). On one occasion he expressed celebration to Him by “dancing before the Lord” (2Sam 6:14-15). God even says enjoyment should come from enjoying the food and drink we eat from our labor – “it is a gift from God” (Ecc 3:13).

Clearly God can be a delight to be with yet there are factors that can hinder our enjoyment with God. Today I’ll share one common hindrance that makes us bored of God – same routines with Him.

A routine is defined as a usual pattern of activity. I have routines for when I exercise, cook, and my quiet times with God. These routines are good because I’m doing something that is beneficial to my life. Though sometimes I can let its repetitiveness get to me thereby making the activity boring. Yes, I can change my attitude and think of all the benefits that this has for me, thereby making the routine more interesting, yet one helpful thing I can do to enhance my enjoyment is bringing more variety to my routines.

Like for exercise, I can do different exercises. For cooking, I can add new ingredients to a common dish I make. As for my relationship with God, I can find different ways to draw closer with Him.

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Redeemed Survivor: An Epilogue

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By Johnny Cabrera

Last Sunday, I preached the final message in a sermon series called “Against All Odds: Stories of Survival and Redemption.” The main point: Every crisis is a spiritual crisis, a test of faith, an opportunity to grow. And whereas I had other church members share their stories in the three previous sermons, for this sermon I shared my own tale. And it was harder than I thought it would be.  It was hard to share the necessary details in the short time I had.  It was even harder to recount such a painful time in my life.

I will not recap what I shared in the sermon, though you can hear the sermon and my story it in its entirety on our church website. No, I am writing this as a followup, as a way to fill in some details that I simply did not have time to explain. I know if I were hearing someone else tell this story, of many years under a corrupt church leader in a toxic church environment, and how he finally escaped and healed from it all, I would have asked me a lot of questions. So with that, some explanations.

Were touching women inappropriately and insulting people in church the worst things this former pastor did?

No, not by any means.  There is much worse, and as Ephesians 5:12 points out, there are some things people have done in secret that are too shameful to even mention.

Did my parents know about the abuse I was enduring from the pastor?

Yes, they did.  However, it wasn’t perceived as abuse at the time, by my parents or me.  Don’t get me wrong: I often felt a terrified hatred toward this man, and I was sometimes sick to my stomach with dread at having to go to school or church or basketball practice and face him.  Still, my parents had so much misguided respect for him that whatever seemed like harsh treatment was explained as “tough love” or “spiritual challenging.”  Eventually, I developed my own misguided respect for him, believing that everything he had done to me in my youth was for my benefit.  Obviously, that was not ever the case.

And this has been one place where God, in His amazing grace, has brought healing to my family: I have been able to forgive my parents for allowing my sister and I to endure years and years of this torture, and my parents have been able to receive this forgiveness and forgive themselves.  And hey, there is an upside to what all this verbal and emotional abuse did to me: You will hardly ever see me taking myself too seriously.

To read more Q&A from Johnny, Click Here

Oh, Me of Little Faith

By Anh Trinh

o-ye-of-little-faithLike many Christians, I’ve struggled with believing that God is big enough to solve my problems. Conventional Christian wisdom would tell me that, yes, God is omniscient and all powerful but frequently have a hard time believing God really can solve all my issues. Deep down inside, I do believe that he can but my lack of faith is an immense roadblock to true faith.

Please indulge my self-pity for a bit  here because I will try to explain my poor faith. I’ve grown up always believing that my struggles as a poor Chinese immigrant was unfair. I was a very depressed child because I never had what my friends had or could participate in certain things that they did. I was bitter and angry about my disposition in life. Needless to say, I was focusing on all the negative things. So when I committed my life to Jesus, I was hoping for miracles to happen. Yes, the miracles that involved many luxuries that the world can offer. It didn’t take long for me to find out that God was not in the business of getting me what I want in this world. He was here to heal me.

Time and time again, I would remind myself of the truth about Jesus’s purpose on this earth. Jesus is not Santa Claus and he will not bring me the things I coveted. It took me some time to even believe that Jesus listens to my cries. My prayer life is very poor and that is mainly due to my lack in faith. Most of the time, I just don’t see God working. I’ve always blamed God for not revealing himself to me. I was angry at God for allowing so many terrible things to happen in my personal life and the lives around me. I was even angry at God for weeks after the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred. I didn’t know how to process all those emotions so the easiest course was to blame God. Most of all, I was angry at Him for not responding to my prayers. Or did he?

Lately, I’ve started to have some true revelations from God. It was after a moment of rage and anguish during my prayer time in my car that I felt God calming me down. For once, I prayed with conviction and desire that God finally said, yes, I will respond. Maybe he responded before but I was too ignorant to hear his voice. Or maybe God finally decided to answer me after I actually decided to take prayer seriously and truly desired for his attention. Whatever it was, God began to answer my prayers. Some of his answers were obviously not what I wanted but it was God’s will. Some other answers involved great blessings. Whatever the answer was, God spoke to me. The God of the Universe responded to this wretch and poured out his love on me. I didn’t know how else to respond but with praise.

So did that increase my faith? I don’t know but I was ashamed to say that I needed to see to believe. By definition, that is not true faith. As I continue to struggle with my weakness in faith, my hope is that I will learn to experience more of God’s love without wrongfully accusing Him of indifference and lacking in love. On that note, I’m going to meditate on John 3:16 some more.

Suspension of Disbelief

GHOZT WRITER

Human beings have an unusual capacity to rationalize our behavior. There are the dramatic examples of facsist collaborators, violent abusers or Wall St swindlers. But there are relatively prosaic examples too. Me, for instance, a Christian that doesn’t believe in God.

I don’t believe in God, but I participate in church. And not just as a silent pew sitter, but actively, vocally and in leaderly ways. At the Farm, I do everything that everyone else does, because that is the work ethic of that community. At Trinity, I lead worship and run our blog. I am (at times) literally the voice of the church.

But yet, I am not a believer.

This brews up significant questions for the church. Questions around how much non-believers can be allowed to participate? What roles are only for people who abide by the Statement of Faith?

These questions concern me too…

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Marriage Isn’t For Two

Jeff is in a young man in his 20′s, living on the west coast of the U.S, just trying to experience life to the fullest while attempting to help others along the way. He offers up some advice on getting through your 20′s alive, passes around some hope while doing so, and throws in a few “life hacks” here and there which will, he’s sure, be entertaining to us all. Everything from finances, to family, to spirituality; you suggest it, he’ll blog about it. Check out his blog at: seecao.wordpress.com

SeeCao

MarriageI’m scared of marriage. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are too. (or you just like reading about what makes people scared)

Now, there are plenty of articles and blog posts out there that explain why young men these days are afraid of commitment, marriage, saying ‘I Do’, etc. From wanting to establish a financial foothold in society first, to not wanting the added pressure of having children, to there not being any real advantages of getting married in the first place due to cohabitation.

None of these apply to me.

Now before you go calling me a self-loving, hippie that doesn’t want to be wealthy or have kids, let me tell you why I am scared of marriage.

What I am truly scared of, is losing my identity.

The Back Story

I know a lot of couples, married and unmarried, who really love each other. They’d catch…

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Identity Theft

By Cindy Cameron

There are a lot of voices in the world suggesting how women should live and act in this world. Articles of “advice” litter my Facebook page and it’s enough to make me feel like I am going crazy. Some voices are good – my own voice, my parent’s, everyone who I love. But other voices are not so good – everyone who I fear, society’s voice, social media, and worst of all, Satan’s voice. Everyone has the platform to write an article and have people read it thanks to the Internet. Even me, as I contribute to this blog!

bible-myers-briggsEvery week, it seems like a new article is posted on Facebook about the “30 things to do before 30” or “15 signs you are in introvert” or what character you are from a movie based on your Myers-Briggs type. I’ll admit it, I read all those articles. But after a while, I got tired of seeing the cookie cutter outlines that all women are supposed to fit in. The laundry list of qualities to have is overwhelmingly burdensome. The generic travel/relationship/lifestyle advice is repetitive and I can only assume that the same applies for guys, since there are probably those same gender stereotyping articles floating out there too, but I haven’t read them. Let’s face it, if we all did the things on those lists, a list of 30 more things would be written.

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But wait a minute, didn’t God make me uniquely?! If I don’t work my dream job/take a road trip/write a book before I turn 30, God is not disappointed in me. I don’t have to fit into the pretty little ISTJ box that psychologists created. I can just be who God created me to be, whoever that is and I can walk down the path that He has for me. All the voices, good or bad, can send me on a little detour of the path God has planned for me, if I’m not careful to discern whose voice it is.

The only voice we need to focus on is God’s. God’s voice pushes all the other voices to the side, and can make what seemed like the most complicated situation so very very simple. When other voices are allowed to shape my life, I become confused and often take a longer route to get where God really wants me to be. God’s voice silences the other ones all around us. Don’t know how to handle a situation at school/work? Struggling to figure out what to do with the rest of your life? Listen for God’s voice. Protect your identity. Know God’s voice and listen to God’s voice.

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Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.
Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.

– Proverbs 8:32-35

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Cindy is the coordinator for Trinity’s House Church, The Fellowship. The Fellowship is Trinity’s alternative spiritual community focused on making deep connections and enjoying each other’s talents and company. We meet in our homes, where we build camaraderie around singing, sharing, prayer and food. Join us on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month.

I Say Wassup to Jesus in Prayer Because He’s My Homeboy

By Samuel Lam

During my morning devotionals some time back, I came across this great piece by Rick Warren. He talked about being authentic in prayer and how we need to stop trying to strategize our prayers. It was shared on our Twitter page.

God created you, and so he wants you to be the real you. By being authentic when you speak to God, you worship him as you Creator.

For years I copied the prayers of other people. I noticed they used certain words and even a special tone of voice. I imitated all the religious cliches: “Lead, guide and direct us, O Lord.” “Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.” “Bless the gift and the giver.”

In New Testament times, prayers were wordy, meaningless rituals. There was no spontaneity, no genuineness. But Jesus says don’t get caught up in ritual prayer. You don’t have to use fancy language. You can’t impress God with fancy language, and you shouldn’t be trying to impress other people either.

I love to hear new Christians pray — no pious pomposity. They haven’t learned the cliches yet. They just say, “Hi, God. It’s me.” That’s how you make contact with God. You just talk with your Heavenly Father about what’s on your mind. Just pray your heart. Reveal yourself.

The timing was perfect since I had earlier written about our authenticity and comfort with God in terms of the clothes we wear.

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A Pastor and an Atheist Walk into a Church…

By Albert Hung

“A pastor and an atheist walk into a church.”  It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.  But it’s not.  It’s what happens every Sunday morning in America.  Or at least, it should.

I have this friend named Pete who’s a bit of a mystery to some folk.  He and his family have been part of our congregation for several years.  He worships with us.  Prays with us.  Studies the Bible with us.  Serves in ministry alongside us.  Over time, Pete has become one of my closest friends.  I love this man.  My life is immensely richer because of our relationship.

atheist_635911321Pete’s somewhat of an enigma because although he is an active participant in all the rituals of the church, he doesn’t believe in God.  He’s an atheist.  An atheist who practices Christianity.  He doesn’t believe in many of the things we sing about or read about in Scripture.  But he believes in the power of spiritual community to bring about positive change both in the individual and society as a whole.  Sure, he’s jaded.  So am I.  We’re both tired of the shallow, insular, and pretentious brand of spirituality that characterizes Christianity in this country.  The damage that is often done in the name of religion makes us want to throw in the towel at times.  But there’s something that keeps drawing us back to the church, as broken and dysfunctional as it is.  For me, that something is the very real, living, person of Jesus Christ.  For Pete, it’s the psychological and social benefits of living in community with people who share a common set of values.  And so, every Sunday, a pastor and an atheist walk into a church, and try to make sense of the world we live in, together.

This doesn’t just happen at Trinity.  It’s happens all over the country, whether we know it or not.  Sitting in our pews are thousands of people who attend church but do not believe.  Some were dragged there by their spouses.  Others are like Pete, people who choose to participate despite their doubts.  And I’m glad he does. Continue reading

I Don’t Believe in the God I Worship

A companion piece to this reblog was written by Pastor Albert. You can find it HERE.

GHOZT WRITER

I lead worship at two churches. One is Trinity’s house church, the Fellowship. The last time I lead there my set included: “Give Me Jesus,” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “One Thing Remains,” and Hillsong’s “Hosanna.” Each of these songs is filled with Christian imagery and theology, full of faith and hope in God, adoration and joy in Him. I chose these songs, carefully and lovingly. And I played them with all my heart.

Comfortable with a guitar and able to project my singing voice (even if amelodically), I like knowing that people like it when I lead music, however flawed. And that sometimes, someone actually enters into a true space of worship: meeting God, connecting to Him, praying, thanking and supplicating. I am amazed by this, and can only credit something far larger than myself as the catalyst.

But I don’t actually believe in the God I worship.

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What If God Was One Of Us?

By Samuel Lam

Don’t turn away the heavy metal headbanger from church. If we do, we could be turning away Jesus.

From Andrew Alleyne as he wraps up his “I Hate Church” blog entries.

A Christian lady who lived out in southern California had a daughter who grew up in the church but went astray and got heavily involved in the heavy metal culture, drugs, drinking, and the immoral lifestyle that came with all of that. She met a young girl just like her and they became great friends. A few years later this same friend found herself in a really difficult place in life and decided to walk into a church on a Sunday morning. It was her last cry for help. She entered with her body covered in tattoos and dressed how she always dressed. Instead of being met with loving arms she was met by ushers that kindly asked her to leave. That young girl then proceeded to the rooftop of a nearby building. She took off all her clothes so everyone could see her tattoos, and she jumped off the building and committed suicide.

What a shame.

It always surprises me when Christians are so eager to turn away people that are different from them. And in this case, a person that looked different from what they are comfortable with. Their intent was to not let that crazy sinner into the church because it would disrupt the peace. Their perfect world could not be disturbed.

But that’s not right. The church is a place where uncomfortable sinners are supposed to meet. The church is the biggest sinner-fest out there; the perfect place for the imperfect people. This is where they bond together for and in Christ. Instead, we have instances like this where we just turn away God’s people. And in essence, we turn away God. Continue reading