God isn’t the problem, the church is

I think Christianity and God/Jesus gets a bad rap, a lot of people love to hate Christians, they paint them as overly pious, moralizing, judgmental of anyone who doesn’t fit their “version” of Christianity, they are intolerant of anyone who is different from them, they are hypocrites; preaching one thing and doing another; spouting love and compassion one minute and the next ignoring the new church member beside them looking for a friend in Christ, some Christians. I think these are the things that non-church goers feel and their observations aren’t far from the truth. I feel that way and I consider myself a Christian. Some of the most judgmental people I have met have claimed to Christians, it disheartening and very hurtful.

But here’s where I disagree with the kinds of people who make these statements; they equate God and Jesus with the actions of the church. God is love and accepting of all, God isn’t going to abandon or ignore you like some in the church. But because of the actions of those in the church, it turns many away from God. How can Jesus be love and compassion if these are his followers, that’s difficult for me and I struggle with it.

I have to separate God/Jesus from Church/Religion. You can have God in your life, be in prayer, read the bible, practice the principles of Christianity and never set foot in a church. They say community is vital, worship is necessary but what if you don’t feel accepted?. How can I reach God here when I all I feel is hurt and bitterness? I can forgive but it doesn’t negate the fact that I feel uncomfortable in church settings because I know I’m being judged. I attend church begrudgingly and it sucks up my energy. Instead of making me feel closer to God, I feel further away, as far as I’m concerned he’s somewhere outside in the parking lot.

I don’t think I’ve ever truly, felt welcome at church, well maybe as a kid but not as an adult. I feel coldness and indifference, I feel no one really takes the time to know because they’ve developed their “holy cliques”. It’s like George Carlin used to say “They’re in the club and you ain’t in it”. That’s how I feel, out of place, misunderstood, ignored and people don’t want to know you because they’ve already pegged you as someone they don’t want to talk to, so you stand in the corner as people pass you by like you don’t even exist. Sigh, I wonder how many people have left church or never found God because they felt so unwelcome among these so called accepting Christians. And it’s all because of how we treat each other.

I personally find God in nature by myself, through the conversations I have with others, through miraculous things that defy explanation, through writing/art/music, through prayer, reading the bible and the love of my family but never in the church. But don’t think I’m not a Christian or don’t have God is my life. I love God but I struggle with his children, they’re the problem.

 

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Gratitude

I wanted to take this Sunday to talk a little bit about gratitude. Sometimes I complain       a lot and I focus on my struggles and forget about the many blessings I have in my life and even small things can blessings.  I was able to attend church today and also help assist with a special needs Sunday school where a young guy about 14 was there. He’s really cool; he loves arts and crafts and is very talkative; all around nice kid.  It is a blessing to be asked to be a part of that class; it gives me a reason to wake up on a Sunday morning; a sense of purpose. I work a long side a nice woman who one of the  leaders of the disabled ministry; I have known her for a few months and I am starting care about everyone involved in that group; they are wonderful people who have God in their hearts. The main theme for class this month is serving others; putting the needs of others above our own; which is something we all could learn.  I think God calls for all of us to help one another and today we also talked about the fact that God gives us all gifts that we can use to serve others.  Not only is this class helping this young man but it’s helping me.  We watched a short video about a guy who had a job stocking and everyone came to him with their problems because he listened and cared; he realized that was his gift that God had given him.   It was like God was speaking me and that moment and making me realize that MY gift as well.  I listen to what the young adults at the disabled ministry say; I speak them on their level; they can tell I care.  I empathize and care when I interact with my people on social media. I am not bragging but I can’t tell you how many people message me and want to talk about what’s going om and I listen and I don’t judge and I encourage them; I do it because it feels good to be there for other people.  I look at caring about others and being there for them as a gift and I can’t take the credit; God gave this to me. And I am grateful for the opportunity to be there for others in so many ways.  To be there is nothing that makes me happier than to that I can make difference in someone’s like by simply listening  or writing something that resonates with them.  Like I said earlier; I am not patting myself on the back but God gave me this unique ability to show empathy and I want to use it. For the longest time; I chose to hide my gifts; my sensitivity, my caring nature, being compassionate and now I am not afraid to show it. I don’t care if it make me seem to weak some people; I am going to be who I am.

After Sunday school I walked with everyone to service and sat with the disabled ministry; again so much to gratitude to be included. As the sermon was going and all of sudden I had another burst of gratitude; just the fact that I was able to attend church was a blessing in and of itself. I can’t tell you how many Sundays I worked; so depressed that I was missing church. I wanted to be a part of a church community and hear the word of God among all the church members and I couldn’t. I feel robbed of having that time with God. Sure, I could have watched the sermon online but it isn’t the same as being part of a church community.  So I looked up and thanked God for the ability to just sit in a pew and listen to a sermon; it’s the only upside to being unemployed. Most people take it for granted; going to church; but not me.  God is good and he is working in my life; I don’t have anything else but gratitude today.

Thanks for listening

Dave

 

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God loves us all

As a Christian; I love and accept everyone even those that don’t believe in God or who are from a different religion. I don’t care who you love, the color of your skin, the language you speak or your political views. I love and accept everyone because we are all children of God and that what he expects us to do; to love one another. It’s sad that Christians are painted with a broad brush and deemed hateful and intolerant. Some are ; for sure; but not all. Some of us accept everyone; we are not on a mission to moralize or point the finger. I am more on mission to let others know how much God loves them and that no matter what they have done in life; God forgives us and only asks that we trust him. May God bless you today. Amen 🙏🙏🙏

 

 

Dream #6

I haven’t been sleeping well lately and last night I finally slept the while night through for about 8 hours (which is a rarity); I had a nice long vivid dream. As soon as I woke up, I immediately wrote down the dream; the best I could remember.

The dream started out at a funeral for a little boy that had died; it was large crowd and I was feeling upset; I could feel myself start to cry. I was carrying a box which I think had his ashes; I almost dropped it a few times and people kept looking at me; I was really nervous. I placed the box on the altar and afterward we were standing on these big steps outside of the church; just talking.  Then I was with the disabled ministry and we were in a shopping center and close to an abandoned warehouse.  We were just hanging out there for some reason; one of the leaders was there but in the dream she looked different. I keep trying to talk to her but she was ignoring me; in fact, everyone seemed to be ignoring me. At the end of the shopping bar was like a biker bar and there were all these tough guys walking in. There was some woods to the side of the bar; full of trash.  I was talking to one of the young adults there; I was asking him how his job was going etc.  I had to go the bathroom so I was looking for a place to go; I went in the woods and came back and everyone was in the same area; gathered in a circle just talking.  At one point I was just walking around and I think I was in a house.  I was still concerned about the leader who was ignoring me.   All of a sudden, I was laying on the floor and I saw an old childhood friend. In the background the song “Under the Bridge” by the Red-Hot Chili Peppers was playing.  That song reminds me of my brother who passed away.  In the dream I said to my friend “This reminds me of Joe” He said quietly, I know, man, and gave me a hug.   Next, we were all back outside and I had to use the bathroom again. I went back in the woods and when I returned; everyone was still there. I got bored went to the abandoned building by myself and it some graffiti and there were some kids skateboarding.  I came back and everyone was gone; I was concerned. I was looking everywhere and couldn’t find them.  I ended up in an office building and trying calling them on their cell phones but to no avail.  I walked through a nature path and they were nowhere to be found. I was feeling angry and hurt and literally abandoned.

I woke up kind of shaken; trying to find meaning in this dream.  All I know is that maybe   Even as I write this, I am emotional about; it was such an intense dream with so many interpretations.   I have to remind it was only a dream and I am ok.

 

Thanks for reading

Dave

Sunday school

Earlier this week; I was helping with the disabled ministry and I was asked by one of the leaders if I could help assist with a special needs Sunday school class. I was honored that they thought I’d be a good fit; it was also exactly what I needed to get of my depressive funk; I was really excited about it.  Well. my first Sunday school assisting was this morning at 9:30.  It was pretty easy; the church had set up the lesson and all we had to was follow the guide.  The class only had one person attending and he was young man about 14 years old; he was great. He kind of shy and quiet; a lot like I was at that age but very bright. He has some special needs and I am so glad there is a Sunday school that serves him; there is a class for children, teens and adults ( the same adults that participate in the disabled ministry); I will be assisting in the teen class.  We wrote some things on the dry erase board; the theme being serving others ( which is what church is about, right?)  We watched a video about Jesus washed the feet of his disciples during Passover and how Jesus expects us the wash the feet of others. It’s a metaphor of course for serving the needs of others.  Jesus wants us to put others before ourselves and that will make us great in his eyes; an important message.  We did some arts and crafts; which he loved.   I just feel so great right now and blessed to be able to assist and be there for those at church with special needs. I believe this is God’s calling for me.  Happy Sunday to all my followers; may God bless you today.

 

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Today was a better day

Yesterday I made a post on my blog and Facebook about the fact that I’ve been suffering from a pretty bad depressive state.  I had been doing pretty good and felt I had made a lot of progress but I slipped back in depression once I lost my job. And first off let me just say I am so amazed at all the supportive comments and message; unbelievable how many people care; it warms my heart; it makes me feel less alone and that its ok to express my pain so openly. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. Anyways  last night I got a message from one of the leaders of the disabled ministry asking if I could volunteer today; I knew it was exactly what I needed to get out of my head. I just needed to get out of the house and around people and the ministry is perfect. I’m part of a caring group and my depression subsides when I am helping others; I feel I am useful and needed.  I really love this group; they are so kind to me and they always tell me how good I am with the disabled adults. I love being around them; they are a lot of fun and it gives me a chance to practice kindness, patience, love and I always grow in my faith as well. We have bible studies and pray before meals and it just a generally positive place and it helps me through my depression.

 

So today I volunteered; we had lunch and afterwards broke up into seminars; each little group doing their own thing. I was a part of a fitness group; we did about 30-minute workout with stretching, jumping jacks, a medicine ball; it was like being in gym class again; a lot of fun. And in all that time I didn’t think about my depression; I was just focused on trying to be a good volunteer; being patient with them and laughing with them; it was a good time.

After the volunteering I stopped to get a cup of coffee at this little coffee place in the downtown area; I love it.  It over looks the downtown; the coffee is great and it always filled with people; a perfect place to write. They have this little attic area and I found a cozy spot and just drank my coffee; I made a little vlog. As soon as I got up to leave; I saw one of the leaders walk up; he told me they were having a staff meeting. I didn’t want to intrude but he was like “No, you can stay”.   I was happy to sit and listen. They talked about a Christian conference they went to do and the message of Christ and how we can apply that to those that are developmentally disabled. They talked about ways of expanding the organization and improving the lives of the disabled adults we serve. I was really impressed and had no idea everything that went into how this ministry was run; it gave me a lot of insight. I was able to chime in with some ideas as well.   It was a blessing to be with them during this discussion.

 

I am one that doesn’t believe in coincidences and even though I am struggling; I know God is working in my life. I happened to be in that coffee shop for a reason; they just happened to be there right there as I was about to leave and sitting at the very table I was at. They could have sat down somewhere else and I would have missed them but it didn’t happen that way. For those who may not have faith; they may not get it; but it’s clear to me.  God is not subtle when he gives me signs. And this ministry is my calling; working with these young adults is something I am passionate about.  I take comfort in knowing God is taking care of me and giving me this opportunity to serve others.  I am just smiling right now and so grateful that I had a much better day today.

 

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Volunteering again

Today was such a great day; I started up volunteering again with the disabled ministry; after losing my job and feeling rejected I really needed this. As usual it went great; they were so happy to see me and I missed them so much.  I have written about it several times I love this ministry. The disabled ministry is a Christian organization through the church I attend.  They do bible study, do community works and go on trips; it such a wonderful organization.  On Thursdays they help serve lunch at church to those in community; it’s incredible. The volunteers and young adults all set up, prepare food and serve an average of 80-120 people; and it’s run very well.  So anyways I showed up and apparently they are taking a trip to Disney World; which makes me smile because I know they are going to have the time of their lives.  The young adults kept asking me why I couldn’t make the trip; it’s hard for them to understand that I have no money coming in and therefore no trip.  To be honest; it less about me and more about them having a good time.   It just made me smile to know they were so excited about this trip; they deserve to have fun. And they are some of the kindest sweetest people you are ever going to meet.  My main job is to help this young man dry dishes while he washes; we are a great team; we joke around a lot and just have fun; sometimes I just as unfocused as he is; which I guess is sort of a problem but I am working on getting us both on task. Overall this is really good for me and I have grown to care deeply for the young adults ( and their parents), the volunteers,  and the leaders; almost like an extended family.

We finished and I sat down to eat and sat by this woman who was a parent of one of the young adults who  says she likes to write; she’s really smart and wise and has a lot to say. Every time I see her; I ask her how writing is going and she gives me a big smile; I love it. Anyways I was talking to her mom about losing my job and how I was happy to be back. But I was also excited to be getting this scholarship to finish my degree. Then we started talking about writing and I was telling how therapeutic it was for me and how I’m connected with all these writers on my blog and Instagram.  She was telling me how important it was for me to tell my story because it gets other people to open up. And also when we write; we realize that others feel just as we do; we’re not alone; it was a lovely conversation; I usually don’t get a chance to have conversations that like much; which is an incentive to continue to be part of this group.   I just so feel so blessed right now to be back volunteering and giving my time to help others. I just wanted to share this joy with you today.

Thanks for listening,

Dave

 

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What I am listening to at this very moment

How do I reach out to them?

I went a Christmas party last night with the disabled ministry and it was so wonderful; I talked with many of the young adults and the volunteers and it was just a great time; it’s a really loving community and everyone I talked to agreed with me. At the same time social events make me extremely nervous; it was crowded and noisy and there was so many conversations going on at once; I just felt anxious at times.  So  if someone was trying to talk to me; I had to try to focus my attention on them and not on the activity of my surroundings; which is a very difficult task.  But overall I felt like I did a very good job at working on my social anxiety and putting myself out there and getting to know the people in this ministry more.

The young adults  I help out are developmentally disabled; some have autism or down syndrome; it ranges but a lot of them are very social; very extroverted; they love to talk and be around people and they are a lot of fun; they just enjoy themselves so much and are so loved by this ministry.  I am really happy to see how well they are doing in that respect. At the same time there are some young adults that are more withdrawn and less social; some barely talk and it’s hard to have a conversation with them; they are very quiet and shy; especially those with Autism.  And I can relate to that shyness since I am on the spectrum and I couldn’t help but wonder if they were uncomfortable in this setting; if they were feeling the same kind of anxiety I was feeling; getting lost in the conversation; feeling tired by all the noise; feeling left out and wishing they could be as social as some of the other young adults.

And my question to myself is how do I and we as anyone who works with the developmentally disabled; reach out to them.  A few months ago; we went on a mountain retreat and there was a young adult and she was quiet and I tried to engage her in conversation but her responses were short and abrupt but I still liked talking to her.  I noticed that she was an excellent artist; she could really draw and I was impressed. I thought she must have all these thoughts and feelings inside of her that she can’t express verbally but it comes out in art.   Another young adult is a little more social told me that she wrote and my ears perked up; I was excited about that. I told her I wrote as well and encouraged her strongly to keep writing and every time I see her; I ask her if she’s still writing and she cares around a little mini journal; I’m so proud of her.  So maybe that’s how I can personally can reach out to them.   Maybe I can bring out that creative side in those that are a little more withdrawn; it may be their only way of expressing themselves fully.   I hope someday to be able to work with these kinds of young adults full time because it is really rewarding. I told someone’s dad at the party that they help me more than I help them and he couldn’t agree more.  It’s a never ending journey but I will continue to find ways of reaching out to each young adult that I meet.  I am just so blessed beyond belief and being a part of this ministry; which is like an extended family; this has been the best Christmas gift I could have asked for.

Thanks for listening,

Dave

When I’m in church

In church; I feel safe but at the same time out of place unsure and at times uncomfortable being there with mostly strangers. I feel more comfortable with the group I’m with; but less so with everyone else; maybe I’m not the only one who feels that way.  I look at the cross and the stain glass window of Jesus and I feel at peace; yet I still feel shamed at a sinful past and ask for God’s forgiveness; quietly in my own heart; he knows I’m sincere; I can tell him anything; he doesn’t judge.  I feel blessed that God is taking caring of me; working through the people I come across. I think of the dark times before God and I think about how he saved me from the abyss; total darkness; to the light; I feel myself choking up; verge on tears but not out of sadness but extreme joy; grateful to finally be able to attend church after years the inability to attend service; it ate away at me and I became bitter that I couldn’t spend time in a church community.   I look at the young people in the choir and it reminds me of the friends I made and the bond we continue to have; even as adults.  Again ,I find myself emotional but I hold back because I don’t want to make a scene.  I hope they grow up to be adults that are still in contact with each other; a church family is so important and you don’t really it’s importance until you get older.  So many emotions wrapped into one; sitting in those pews with the disabled ministry; feeling like they are new my church family. Apparently they are saying good things about me; that warms my heart; hugs from everyone and I realize that God has given me this opportunity  to cleanse my heart and make him proud by helping his most special children; those with developmental disabilities; I know he is smiling and so am I. As the service ends and I walk walk to talk to the pastor; I quickly glance up and quietly say to God; thank you. And I am on my way; recharged for the week; with the spirit in me.   Amen

The Advent tree at Church service today; so beautiful

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