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Thursday, 27 January 2011

We Need to be real 2 - Faith in the Margins

Three Posts from Faith whose blog is Faith In the Margins


Run For Your Life
Run from gospels that focus on your success and prosperity.
Run from those that use the name of Jesus Christ only for personal gain.
Run from those that are picking your pocket in the name of Jesus.

Run!

Run from gospels that focus only on self-improvement, or on three steps to a better personality.
Run from churches where men and not Christ are glorified.

Run, get out of that place!

Run from churches where there is no Bible, no cross, no searching Word, no repentance from sin.
Run when there's no mention of the blood of Jesus. It's an unclean place, so run!
Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there's no sense of God's presence, because they don't know God.

Run!

Run from churches where you're comfortable in your sin. If you enter God's house with sin in your life, but you're not convicted of it, you're sitting at a table of devils.

Run!

Run from pulpits that are filled with politically driven men who use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda.

Run!

Run from those who preach division between races and cultures.

Run!

Run! Get out! Turn it off. They know nothing of God.
Run from ungodly, spasmodic movements and endless empty prophesying. Beloved Church.

Run for your life!

Run from preachers that stand, who tell only stories and jokes.
Run like you've never run before.

Run from those that are only after money and they use one gimmick after another to get your money. One foolish thing after another to get your money.

Run!"

( taken from 'Run' by Carter Conlon)

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Two Little Eyes

Wait for the Lord: Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I remember being 27 - about 20 years ago. (This is going to be a long post!) I had just become a Christian, prior to this I had been about to commit suicide as my life had fallen apart in every way possible. I guess I thought that as I had invited Jesus into my life and accepted him as my Saviour and the Holy Spirit had knocked me to the ground everything would start to sort out. My husband (the love of my life and my baby daughter's father) would return and I could get on with a normal life. As I climbed into a friends car and sat in the back God spoke to me at that time very clearly He said 'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten' Joel 2:25. I was elated. He was going to turn my mourning into dancing, my tears into joy and my despair into hope. I waited.........


It took another failed marriage, 2 more children, another suicide attempt, an abusive relationship with a church leader, being rejected by 2 more churches, becoming homeless and abandoned by all but one of the Christians I knew, it took becoming penniless and nearly having a mental breakdown before God brought to my attention the repayment. All in all 20 years of despair, suffering and waiting. But when he did it boy - does he know how to do it!!!

I have 3 children. This is a story about one of them - the other 2 are just as amazing in different ways.

My son.

He was born into a marriage made in hell. I married for all the wrong reasons - for the second time. I was still broken hearted about losing my first husband. I was still a mess, yes I was a christian but God had so much still to do in me before he could get me in my right mind. After 3 years we split up.

We had a son together. He was long awaited. I had a daughter so I really wanted a son - and God in his graciousness gave me a son. He was born too early and I thought he might die. I would sing to him in his incubator and promise him I would always be there for him no matter what, and I promised God if He let him live I would give him back to God all the days of his life. God didn't forget that - and neither have I.

Through all the suffering and pain the next 16 years brought me I never realsied until now how those two little eyes had been watching. He watched and learnt. He studied my actions and watched the way others mistreated this vulnerable single parent in the churches I took him to.
He was there when they asked me to leave - he lost his sunday school and his church friends and his faith in institutional church. He lost his childhood home and his stability because of what the church did to us. He watched. He understood that we had no money, that we had no home of our own. He understood we were weak and it was easy for those with power in the church to walk all over us - and they did and he saw this.
He watched as I tried to furnish an empty rented house in a new city without money or friends. He watched me struggle and he heard me pray and cry until my heart broke. He made him and his little sister dinner when I lay in bed so damaged by life and church that I couldn't function. He watched it all and I loved him. I taught him about God and how he cares for the lonely, the unwanted, the needy and those on the edge of society who have nothing - I taught him, I lived it and he used to say 'Mummy when is God going to care for you? Why does He let bad people do bad things to us when we have no man to protect us? Why doesn't God protect us from bad people in the church? And I couldn't answer him. And this was the story of his life for 16 years.

I remember when he was about 12 he started to get really good grades at school. I was pleased - but not really that concerned, as what was inside him and how he treated others was of a greater concern to me. I watched him. He would come home from school - retreat to his room and study. On his own, while my life fell apart almost to the extent where I nearly had a breakdown. He studied. And I continued to pray with him and teach him about our amazing God who cared for me and him and his sisters and who was just and merciful.

All my Christian life I have been ignored and treated like a second class person because I am twice divorced and live in poverty with the poor in social housing - homes the government provide for those who have no money. I have no social standing in the church and therefore my views and opinions have never been heard. I am an undesirable by the churches standards - still.
All the church goers who have treated me like this have been from well to do middle class backgrounds from wealthy family's who raised them to be good Christians (and to avoid people like me) and who sent them to the best schools where they got the best grades and went to Universities like Oxford and Cambridge where they learnt to look even further down their nose at people like me - True!

Now one day 2 years ago my 16 year old son when thinking about applying to go to University said he might try and get into Oxford. I was still reeling from the fact that I could actually have a child that went to University at all!

I think my world stopped in that moment.... and things began to dawn on me.

My son.

And us with no money and no home of our own and no 'breeding' or social standing and him with no well to do upbringing which had trained him from the year dot to get into Oxford etc etc....... I pondered this in my heart and my heart grew. And he applied. And sent off his personal statement - to Oxford University. And my heart leapt inside me. And we waited. He was offered an interview - we screamed together and jumped round the room. He told me things. He told me he wanted to change the world for the better. He wanted to right he wrongs he had seen in his own life and those of others who are forgotten about and mistreated. He told me he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He told me he wanted to be a politician - a good one. He had soaked it all in. He told me he would put God first and do as He told him. He wanted to serve God with any opportunity he was given.
The interview was tough. I knew and he did that he did not have the background, upbringing and training to negociate an interview of such a high calibre.
I prayed, he prayed, we prayed together - if it be your will God. By now I was nearly shouting it in the streets.......................


Today I drove him to University for the start of his second term at Oxford. He is studying P.P.E. (Politics, Philosphy and Economics) the course studied by our present and many former Prime Ministers. We walked through corridors walked down by people such as Clement Atlee, William Beveridge, Gladstone and C.S. Lewis and saw them staring down at us from a great height. I helped him unpack in his little room round the back of the old cobbled steets. He and I were quiet together. We didn't need words. He did it. My kid. After all we've been through. This was not even in my frame of reference for what God might do. My son knows God has called him here for a purpose.
We hugged and said goodbye, I walked out into the cold January air. I breathed it in deeply. I looked heavenwards and saw the large tower of Magdalen College rising up into the grey afternoon sky.
I drank it in and smiled. I felt my heart leap inside me as I punched the air (victory!). God caught my attention and said:

'I told you I would repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.'

Perfect timing. I hadn't thought about that for years.

I feel like Cinderella must have felt

when the Princes butlers found her and she tried the slipper on and it fitted and no one could believe it was her!!!!!


N.B. In all the years I've waited for God to intervene and turn my life around he never answered one of my 'big' prayers. I prayed for him to save my first marriage, I prayed for him to save my second marriage, I prayed for him to give me recognition and a ministry in the church so I could be a voice for the poor and outcast. I prayed for a Christian husband. Each of these prayers consisted of long battles, years long. And He did not answer. Instead He gave me the best answer I could dream of - something which cannot be taken away from me. He used my past and all my pain and struggles and turned it round and poured it back into my lap until my cup overflows with JOY. And it came through the vessel of my most dearest and most precious thing - my son.

Glory be to God.
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Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Concentration


I have practically no concentration any-more when it comes to listening to Christians talk or reading Christian books. I cannot listen to online sermons by my fave preachers or follow blogs or websites I have followed for years. I cannot concentrate on a good sermon or have a normal discussion with anyone about God without losing interest in the first few seconds.


And as for church! well. When I realise it's the day for church I sigh a deep bored sigh and I dread it all day. I know I'm gonna have to brace myself for about 2 hours of intense boredom. Listening to people whinge on and moan and berate each other about their 'hard' lives, the oh so typical Bible study. I can predict every discussion how it will start and how it will end. I know what's gonna be drawn from a passage before it starts.


I'm perplexed and a little annoyed with the way I am behaving but I have no control over it. I can't tell the christians how I feel because I will just get marched off for ' prayer' and get the 'how to be a good christian talk' from my pastor and peers which is liable to elicit an even more worrying response from me in some form which will probably see me cast out of another church! I am concerned though - what does it mean? I love God as much as I always have. But I cannot force myself or my children to be with other christians or to go to church. The Pastor said last week that without regular church we would lose our faith we would flounder. He shook his head like he was agreeing with himself that without church faith dies. He knows I've been without church for 3 years nearly..... and my faith is smoking!


The only things I can still do are worship and read the Bible. It's been hard to write this post I had to force it out of me I just wanted to stop writing- having to reflect on christian stuff fuses my brain.


Let me tell you a story...


I work with the homeless. I feel alive and connected to everything when I'm with the unfortunate people I support. So last week I get a new client. He is 54 and his brain is shot from using to many drugs and drinking too much alcohol. So I meet him. I'm slightly wary - he comes from a family notorious for violence in his town.
He answers the door and my heart nearly leaps out of my rib cage. He can't walk without support, he can't talk without slurring, he struggles to sit down and is obvious pain. He is fragile physically and mentally. He is so humble he wakes my emotions and interest up. My heart stirs within me. He asks for nothing - lots of clients demand and expect even on a first visit.
I wanna scream with joy. This guy has nothing from a worldly point of view , but he has everything he needs. He talks to me in a quiet voice looking at the floor alot, but when he looks in my eyes I see my brother - I can't explain it any other way.
He thanks me regularly as we talk. He thanks me when I haven't done anything except tell him how our organisation could help him secure accomodation and help him pay his rent and access grants etc.
I ask him questions many of which are quite personal about his drug and alcohol history and his violent past. He answers every question far more honestly than any church minister I know ever has. He is honest about his failings. Genuine. Tearful and regretful. Totally humble.I'm on the verge of tears myself. We get to the question about religion.I ask him if he has any religious or cultural needs we need to take into consideration. He looks me straight in the eye and says 'I'm a born again Christian' and that's how I've given up my addictions and moved away from my violent family....


And there my friends you have it. For the whole time I was with him you could have heard a pin drop. My concentration was 110% I was transfixed talking to him. I knew - even before he spoke that he belonged to God. So you see I can concentrate, on occasion, when talking about christian things. But I have zero concentration when I'm with middle class, rich, shallow, happy zappy clappy types. They make me wanna puke and run til I can run no more.


Thanks be to God.

1 comment:

Toyin O. said...

Amen, keep running from these types of people and churches:)