Are Christians Obligated To Go To Church?

funny churchMy friend Grammatteus, the writer at The Alternative Ulsterman, and I have been having a conversation about churches. The question is, as Christians, are we obligated to belong to a church? 

The most oft quoted scripture the devout church-goers offer to me is Hebrews 10:25.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching…” (NIV)

I live with Rebekkah, a fellow Christian, plus I have friends I hang out with who are also, fellow Christians. In my opinion, I am already obeying this scripture without having to find myself a group of people in a brick building. 

As for references to the body of Christ. My only statement is, I haven’t met too many congregations out there that should bemuseum of saints referring to themselves this way. We Christians, dead, living or yet to be born, despite country, nationality, ethniticity, gender, or otherwise, together form the body of Christ. Not just the church members. That includes the black sheep rebels who are having a hard time sitting in congregations under people who don’t seem as committed to the Lord as they are. So, Romans 12:5 and most of 1 Corinthians 12 are covered by that distinction. 

What no one really mentions, to me anyways, is that the main reason belonging to a group of devoted Christian groups is actually beneficial is accountability. Some people….nay, most people….conduct themselves better when they know people are watching. Along with encouragement, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and a plethera of other nourishing gifts, the desire to not let others down or at the very least, not be embarrassed, really does tend to help people avoid some pittfalls. 

judgeNow, the accountablility factor requires trust, and here is where I get into all kinds of problems. First of all, I am not too fazed by disapproval of anyone in general. I do the best I can, or I don’t, but I own my crap. If my crap is offensive to someone, that is their right to feel that way. That’s about where all that line ends for me. I’m not a people-pleaser. My self-esteem is unexpectedly robust considering all the wounds it should have suffered all along the way. I am not at all a fearful person. In a way, I feel inoculated against caring about other people’s approval. ….Except my kids. Forever, I’ve tried to live a life that my kids wouldn’t be completely appalled by, and to do something that I know they would completely abhor is just against the grain of who I am. So, me joining a church for accountability would have ZERO effect on me. My accountability factor lives in a room about 8 feet from mine, and she has no filter on that little mouth. And, in an interesting twist of fate, both of my daughters are pretty much the same way as me. We didn’t have too many peer pressure problems when they were in high school that didn’t involve MY kids peer-pressuring the OTHER kids. 

changed my religionSecond, trust is not my strong suite. Just ask anyone. I trust some of my family, a couple of friends, and Jesus. That’s about it. And each of those are varying in range. In order for me to belong to a congregation, they would have to give me enough time to feel satisfied they aren’t wrong-motivateded, twisting the Word, greedy, deceitful, or any number of other common issues going on in church leadership these days. In the end, though, I don’t fit in to most of these little social groups. I don’t care to discuss ad nauseum enumeration of sins, or whether or not the manifestation of tongues can be used to determine one’s true salvation. I don’t want to take tests designed to locate my gifts of the Spirit, or talk about how one goes about becoming saved. I basically drop out from sheer boredom after a month or so at best. I love praise & worship, so I can be coaxed into staying for that. But the sermons ….well, they kind of suck. 

I probably didn’t answer the question for everyone, but for me, I keep my mind open to meet real Christians in my everyday life, and I am looking casually for a church I don’t hate going to. I like worshiping the Lord with music, and that is where I’ve started these days. But as for feeling like I’m sinning when I don’t go to church, no. Like the 10% tithe crap that was taken out of context and then shoved in every face between here and the Sun, people have to decide for themselves which group of Christians they need to be around, and why. 

I guess people wouldn’t even have this heated argument if greedy church leadership hadn’t made such a spectacle of the tithing thing to the point that the advocation to give generously is longer than the actual sermon!!!

That’s my opinion, anyways. 

~ Bird

 

 

 

 

Too Poor To Go Big

hit like a bitchMy last two posts were sparked by a conversation the little Russian had with her parents. 

Are You Ready for Jihad, motherf***ers?

Meeting the Enemy at the Gate: Who’s Watching Your Back?

She mentioned yesterday that her parents had been questioning her about why Rebekkah had not been in church the last few weeks. No biggie on the surface, except they clothed the question in pseudo-spiritual wording. They told Russia (that’s what we’ll call my newest installment here at The Blue House) they were concerned for Rebekkah’s salvation. 

Rebekkah’s salvation...oh puhhhlllleeeeeeze. 

The reason is our truck has been broken down, not that we had been having some crisis of faith going on over here. Considering the wall of stony silence Russia had been getting from them lately, I feel like they had a lot of nerve trying to act like they give a rat’s ass about anyone else’s well-being but their own. 

Let’s be clear. I know my Father’s voice, and He knows mine, and the same goes for Rebekkah. Really, you’d have to betruth pretty blind to question our salvation. Even the outlaw motorcycle club members I hung out with knew I was all about God. Rebekkah and I live it; it pours out of every pore in our bodies, makes its way into almost every conversation, and not an hour goes by that we don’t reflect on Jesus in some way. No, I couldn’t care less about their actual question. 

What pissed me off is the obvious load of shit motivation that was behind all the holy concern. Actually, I’m really more than insulted they thought either of us would buy that snake oil crap!!

My opinion about anything you do in life is, go big. If you are going to be liar, tell whoppers, like Frank Abagnale Jr.  If you are going to steal, rob the White House’s lawn furniture. If you’re going to covet something, covet Buckingham palace. But whatever you decide to do, own it. Don’t give me some ridiculous story that paints you in some selfless, humble light. Real sincerety can’t be faked very well or for very long. 

This church hasn’t once picked up a phone to call Rebekkah, nor has any concerned letter arrived in the mail. No member has shown up knocking at the door to see if Rebekkah needs anything. No. That nonsense has nothing in the way of common sense actions to back it up. 

tumblr_m24ks4XJrB1qj73e2o1_500They were looking for some chinks in our armor to exploite in order to force Russia back into the streets, and straight back into their home, probably with the added bonus of forcing Rebekkah out of it as well. Since that is not exactly a godly motive, the fancy schmancy concern for her spiritual eternity was designed to hide their low-budget manipulation.

Russia has nothing to report because we’re about some fantastically boring folks around here these days.

Turns out, the truly spectacular sins cost money. And since I can’t go big with something fantastically horrible like heroine addiction, assassination attempts, or even a pathetic little DUI charge, why bother?  I’m too poor to go big. :-(

 Our poverty has kept us on the straight-and-narrow free road instead of the toll-booth pocked path through Vanity Fair!!

~ Bird 

 

Meeting The Enemy At The Gate: Who’s Watching Your Back?

fan clubOk, you guys. You cracked me up last night. Rebekkah insisted the title of my last post carry the obscenity because it sounded more like a war cry. I was a little afraid I would offend my Christian followers, especially my Diane, but as your comments clearly indicate, you all got it. :-) I knew there was a reason I love my little set of blog friends!!! So, for the back story. Here it is. I grew up in some churches, and once in a awhile I try to return to that culture. I say culture because anymore, that is what churches today are…sub-cultures. The problem is,the ones I find around here today, are severely lacking in understanding their bibles. The larger ones seem to be focused on building empires for themselves, and the smaller ones are trying to become big enough to build their own empires. It feels….wrong. Rebekkah and I attended this church back when Chef and I first split up. We were living in a hotel room and

Adult-Sized

Underestimated Warrior

my broken heart was affecting everything about my life…physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I had a woman come up to me at one of these sermons, and ask if she could pray for me. I gave a brief sketch of what was going on, and she prayed. Then she told me vaguely that there were women’s shelters around here I could go to when the hotel money ran out. After that, people avoided me. She had obviously told others my situation, and the truth is, no one wanted to be inconvenienced to help. I was God’s problem, not theirs. In the end, the Lord did help me….through people who were not Christians. I didn’t say much about my little excursion  back into church to Rebekkah or anyone else. It had been absolutely no surprise whatsoever. Sadly, I long ago stopped looking for any sort of help from the brick buildings full of people who call themselves the church of God. And the true Church of God seems so spread out and disconnected with one another, most of us seem to have sunk into the subconscious assumption that we are cut off from all the rest. We’re fighting our wars against the enemy alone, or in small dribbles of people we’ve collected in our real lives. We look straight to the Lord for our help, and most of us don’t look to these congregations for anything anymore. When Rebekkah felt the Lord moving her to go to this church, I knew it was probably not going to end well….for them. Rebekkah loves the Lord. She went looking for Him herself. I didn’t make my children ever believe they didn’t have a choice about serving Him. You can’t force anyone to believe in God, much less serve Him, even your own children. All you can do is train them by teaching them as He teaches you. My kids watched me be the kind of Christian I am. I explained every step of my walk to them, but never did I believe them saying a rote prayer and being baptized as infants would make them anymore saved than the children who had never heard of God. I know my God. He doesn’t need my fearful technicalities to manifest Himself in anyone’s life, including my kids. In the end, He took over Rebekkah’s heart, and He lives there firmly, with power and boldness that compares to the times of David. Sovie-Russia-only (1)I can always tell when God is about to do something with Rebekkah’s life. She HATES surprises. I guess since He created that little ball of awesomeness, He cuts her a break when it comes to the unexpected. For a month before the little Russian came to live with us, Rebekkah suddenly became fascinated with all things Russian. To put it mildly, talk about random. I sat through hours of her talking about this sudden interest. Then, she wanted to go to church. Yikes. Now, it all makes sense. She found a little Russian immigrant at church who needed help. The minute the young girl was safely installed in our home, the fascination with all things Russian faded to a simmer, and the battle with the church began. I almost feel sorry for this little church. They.Had.No.Idea. I won’t go into each sordid detail of the disaster that is my little Russian. Suffice it to say, adopting a documented abused 9 year old from another country, physically force-feeding her guacamole to teach her she is going to eat what is put in front of her, keeping a journal of each and every thing she does wrong, along with a myriad of examples designed to teach this kid nothing about unconditional love, grace, or mercy has not had what I’m sure was the desired result. Even worse, her adopted parents are the pastors of this church. They worked hard to present the image of raising godly children — ie: homeschooling, strict discipline, and insulating her from the rest of the heathen world. They failed to raise a real Christian. Failed.Failed.Failed. The Russian, 20 years-old, is literally going through things that the rest of the country’s teenagers go througharrows in high school. She is having one mad crush after another. She knows nothing about God, only rules. When she and Rebekkah were getting ready to go to church one day, she made the statement that she had to find her notebook because “she knows how to look like the perfect Christian” for church. Really. That is just sad. She had a large suitcase of books that she was getting rid of. I asked her why, and she said because they were Christian books. I had to explain to her that God’s representatives are the ones who have let her down, not God. These parents worked so hard to keep her in a holy bubble, not letting her associate with non-church members, or listen to rock-n-roll, or watch television. And what did they create? A super Christian? No. They created a mess. This girl has no idea about what God wants from us. She doesn’t know who He is, and in her mind, He is just some vague idea living somewhere far away keeping a list of everything she does wrong so He can bap her in the head like a human Whack-A-Mole. The concept of grace means nothing to her. Mercy is not only not comprehended, but she doesn’t know how to give it or take it. I love Psalms 127, especially where David mentions not being afraid to speak to my enemies at the gate. What432923926_498 an odd phrase, right? Except, should my enemies show at the gates of my home, my daughter Rebekkah has my back, and she’s a dangerous Christian. She knows her God, her bible, and she has the confidence that comes with both of those things. My quiver has a dangerous weapon. The pastor and his wife adopted two Russians. What a sad testimony to their teaching that their quiver of arrows are worthless against the enemy. ~ Bird  

Are You Ready for Jihad, MotherF***ers?

So, remember how I told you guys Bekkie found a church?

Long story short, I have the pastor’s adopted Russian daughter living with me now.

They are not pleased.

 

Amidst all the rumors and gossip and false judgements, I have only one thing I’d like to say.

3Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
            So are the children of one’s youth.

5How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Psalms 127

 

My Quiver:

 

 

Arrow3.jpgbb20f20e-4898-417b-a745-b5042d4e5176Larger

 

Your quiver:

432923926_498Note: Rebekkah named this post. I’m sure you could tell.

~ Bird

 

Rounding Up The Old and Charging Into The New

the pastThis week brought a lot of changes at my house and in my family.

First, my son Dj has gone to live with some of his other family. Because I am not going to humiliate him in public, let’s just say that he did something very, very wrong and is spending some time correcting his huge misstep while Rebekkah and I clean up the fall-out. Sometimes, the worst part about being a parent is doing the tough love thing. I hate it, but I love him enough to let him suffer through something this hard so he won’t have to pay a higher price down the road for something like this. Since I know he reads this, I want him to know he is forgiven, and we do love him….Love him enough to believe God’s got a plan for all of this too. As my son and a believer too, I have a confidence in him that knows he will pull his act together and get back in line with what the Lord has instructed him to do. You are in the desert for a time, DJ, but you won’t be there forever. I love you.

Second, I’ve been talking to my brother Michael so much more than we ever have as adults. I am actually tearing up as I write this. My sister alexaAlexa and I have been catching up too. What a wonderful God we serve that He would not forget my mother’s prayers, or my father’s as well, for that matter. Mike and Dad have each other’s phone dadmikecathienumbers, and Monday is the day they will finally be able to be reunited after 40+ years. I can’t wait for Michael to experience what having a parent like Dad feels like. It is so nourishing, healthy, and stabilizing. I can’t wait!!! Thank you, Jesus, so much!

Third, my truck broke down completely, and we are having to be chauffeured around by our little Russian roommate. She has been a blessing right from heaven as well. This week I’m going to put the truck in the shop to get fixed and pray like the dickens I can round up the money to get it back out again. I have perfect faith I will be able to.

Fourth, I spoke to the best law firm in Tulsa, Keesling Law Group, about getting a divorce….finally! How does the poorest citizen of Tulsa get to talk divorce with the best law firm in Oklahoma, you ask? Because I have made some really awesome friends in my time here in Tulsa, and they are more interested in helping me than making a bunch of money, that’s why! And even better, the small amount they are charging me is being paid for by Michael, my brother! Talk about a strange, wonderful twist in my story! Finally, there will be an end to the Chef and Bird chapter of my story.

Fifth, I passed the three month mark at Stand-By Personnel, and without hesitation, I can say, IT’S THE BEST JOB I’VE EVER HAD!!! I love themichael people I work for, the people I work with, and the people I work to help. It is just amazing how not hating your job can change so much about your attitude about life in general!

Sixth, part of Dj’s mistake was throwing Rebekkah and I in a huge financial bind. However, one day later, Stand-By Personnel was able to get Rebekkah a good paying job that works around her school schedule! She worked full-time this week, and goes to part-time starting next week. The company she went to work for treats her like a queen, and she has the freedom to apply herself completely to school first, then her work. She makes more money than me! We’ve both been walking on air around here.

A-TULSAWORLDLOGO-WithTagline-6-12-13-230x160And lastly, seventh, we are going to have to deal with a sad problem pretty soon. Jake, our elderly German Shepherd, is extremely old and sick. He has hip dysplasia and tumors growing everywhere. Even before I get the truck fixed, we are going have to find a way to put him down. If any of you know of some sort of charity that might help us do the humane thing for him, please let me know. I’ve googled it, and I’m finding nothing. I can’t do it myself…..I cry just looking at him. Please let me know!

It is going to be a fantastic weekend here, and I hope the same for all of you! Thank you for your continued patronage!!!

~ Bird

bird for fivrr trafficking

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