... and happy early birthday, Carter! He turns 1 in 12 days! I cannot believe it.
Well, I had my 20th high school reunion. It was pretty interesting. It was like going in a time warp! Some of you reading this know of the environment in which I was raised, so of you do not. Just be warned, the next few paragraphs are expressly my perception and my experience. If you experienced something different, that is great. But this is how I see things and how I feel about the experience that I had.
I grew up in an independent Baptist church during the fundamentalist movement in the 70's. For more information on what an "Independent" Baptist church is and their beliefs, see this webiste http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Baptist. It explains A LOT about what I grew up in. Basically, we were separate from the world, meaning, we didn't listen to Rock and Roll, women couldn't wear pants, men could not have long hair, etc.
My family was part of a church in Florida and when we moved to Tennessee, we found a church in the next town. I also went to the Christian school there and graduated from it in 1986. My parents will both tell you, now, that it was not a great environment. It was very legalistic and very unhealthy. The pastor abused his power and position. It was a completely unhealthy environment, looking back. Growing up we didn't know any better. I don't think every independent Baptist church is like this, in fact, I know they are not. But this one is especially unhealthy, and I primarily blame the pastor and his abuse of power along with the extremely legalistic rules and regulations of the independent church.
The reason I am explaining this to you is because going to my 20th high school reunion was kind of scary. I didn't know what I was going into. I live a very different life now, a life, I feel, of freedom in Christ. A very different life than I had growing up.
Now, for the most part, I really enjoyed the class that I was in and the people in it. And we had a great time at the reunion. It was at someone's home and it was very laid back. Most people had changed very little. It was really, really nice. Lots of families there. Good laughs at great memories!!! Yes, there were many good times that were had growing up.
The shocker, though, is, that most of these people still believe the same way we grew up and it is so hard for me to get that. My relationship with the Lord now is so much more than it could have ever been back then. I became a christian in that dysfunctional church, however, I had no idea what a real relationship with Christ was until years later. The Lord has blessed me with emotional healing, and a personal, intimate relationship with him. And you know what....you can wear pants, and go to movies, and listen to contemporary christian music too!!!!! Its amazing.
I do not understand why am I where I am today? Why am I not living in the same town? Why am I blessed with a wonderful husband and child? How did I get from there to here????? I know that God has an awesome plan for my life. I am so very thankful and I feel so overwhelmed sometimes thinking, how did I get out of that lifestyle??? Why am I not still in it???
I love each of the persons that I graduated with. And I respect their decision to stay in the same town, or surrounding areas, etc. But why stay in something that is bondage? Why stay in something that is not true, that is not wrong, but gets you no where closer to God? Why? I do not know each of their personal relationships with Christ, I would never claim to know. I just don't understand why people stay in such bondage to rules, when they can have freedom in Christ. A relationship like none other.
Anyway, I am sorry to ramble on, but it just breaks my heart. And maybe I am wrong to feel this way. I do not mean to be judgmental, but it seems to me that hearing from them the other night that the same crap is going on today that was going on 20 years ago! Its just in different places and with different people.
I am still exploring and probably will continue to explore what is true, just, and holy. How much is being too much part of the world? Where is the line drawn between legalism and true holiness??? The Lord is so much bigger than legalism. This much I know is true! He can reach anyone, in any situation. He can reach someone with rock music, He can reach someone listening to a woman speak in church, He can reach someone with a movie. It is not so much what we do but why we do it and how we go about doing it. Does it glorify the Lord? Does it honor Him?
I wear jeans and listen to a rock band in the contemporary service at my church every Sunday. And I worship a King! If you go to the early service, you get a traditional service with a choir and a more formal setting. And the thing is, both are OK with God. The point is to be with God while you are there, not the style of the service or your dress. God just wants you, He wants to be worshipped, He wants to meet your every need. He loves you and wants you, and you do not have to do a thing to get Him to look your way. He doesn't really care. He just wants to be worshipped.
My life is very different now than it was 20 years ago. And it was God's plan to be different. For me to grow and mature. And I know I still have a lot of growing to do. And I am looking forward to it. I guess I am just a tad bit passionate about TRUTH! I want to scream at the top of my lungs what true worship is, what a true relationship with the Lord is. I am not saying that other people in that small town do not have that. I am not saying that at all. I am saying that I want truth. Period. Just give me truth and leave the rest of the stuff on the side of the road.
Thanks for listening to my ramble. I hope it made sense. I pray the Lord will shine His truth upon you and I pray you accept His truth!!!!
Happy New Year!