So...let's talk about not attending church
Recently, it has come to my attention that because my family is not personally attending a church at this time, that God may be punishing us with the trials and tribulations we have so far endured, with the Lung Cancer which was removed from me recently, the financial issues we continue to have, the depression that is experienced here, the list can go on and on. I want to bring up a few things about this:
When I was in church:
- I endured several bouts of pain and abscesses which do not mix well with where one sits. It is one of the most excruciating pains one can have and I would not wish it upon anyone, yet I have endured more than a lifetime's share of it.
- I've lost a couple of jobs, both of which were enjoyable by me, but were lost, causing financial distress.
- Miscarriages happened in my previous marriage. Did we ever ask for this? I have only been able to father one child, and the last male in my family tree to carry on the family name.
- I've been in car accidents
- I've experienced heartache and pain over the loss of a loved one.
- I was persecuted by non-Chrstians and Christians at work.
- I was in a very dysfunctional marriage which was full of more negativity than happiness.
- I ended up getting divorced after being cheated on.
- I lost my Father the same year as my divorce.
- I battled depression.
- I was diagnosed with Hereditary Hemochromatosis which causes loss of work sometimes.
All of the above happened, I know there was more, but these stand out to me.
Out Of Church:
- I lost my job within 2 months of meeting Mandy after we moved in with each other. This was due to the financial depression we had. I was out of work for 3 years straight.
- We have experienced various levels of financial distress and even being forced out on the street due to no work.
- We both have battled depression and continue to do so daily. Some days more severe than others.
- We've experienced additional financial hardship in the form of vehicle breakdowns and cars being repossessed through surrender because of the financial distress. Even a job loss.
- Medical bills continue to mount.
- I have been in two accidents, both of which were not my fault, yet deemed to be because of crooked insurance companies and claimants.
- I was in a near accident last year which very easily could have gotten very ugly and/or fatal.
- I was diagnosed with Lung Cancer
- I have experienced and continue to experience loss of work as part of my recovery which is still going on from the major surgery.
- We have gone down to a single income due to other medical issues in the family.
- We have gone bankrupt literally.
I have been told by certain people that I was placed here in Portland because God knew that I would have a greater success level of recovery and outcome by going through OHSU. I have also been told that it has been a wake up call for other people in my life to change the way they live their lives. You know who you are if you are reading this. Then, it has been suggested that maybe it is God's way of getting our attention and back into church.
As you can see above, at least eleven adversities have hit my life and Mandy's both in church and out of church. I have not included her adversities she had before we met. How can one person make an assumption and/or judgement that just because we are not actively attending a church are we experiencing more adversity? Certainly, the Bible does mention attending church:
However, there is no direct commandment or order that one must attend church or else, they may experience increased adversity. In fact, we are always under attack in way, shape or form:
People are quick to judge others by their own standards. I know this to be true and have been guilty of doing so myself. I have witnessed many Christians fall under attack and assume that it was because they did something wrong which was not Christian and it was a punishment from God. How could I even dare think that? While God did allow Job in the Bible to experience extreme diversity and hardship, it was done as means of proving Job's steadfastness toward God and not turning away from Him. This does not mean that God is going to send us hard ships or hard times. In fact, God is love and is merciful. It is not His will that one should suffer.
I wrote in an earlier post the statement of my faith. You can read it.
Let me ask those that are in church and feel the same way as others have about us not attending church this - If you take away all the blessings you have received and think of all the adversity, you will find that you have experienced it just the same as we have or anyone else who is not in church has.
The plain truth is that God does not respect persons, look at all of the non-believers who are wealthy. Look at all the believers who are wealthy. People do not see the troubles and trials that each group of person goes through which they endure to reach where they are in life. The homeless person on the street for example, may be 100% on fire for Christ and yet still live on the streets. If God was punishing people for not attending church, why then would He allow a homeless person who has a strong heart for Him to continue to live on the streets? How can a woman endure the tragedy of losing their first born child if she is a church attender, while another woman who isn't attending a church experiences the same kind of loss?
I believe that the choices we make in life lend partially to our successes and failures. I also believe that we are given adversity so that we may grow from those and if the time should come, council others in our lives that are going through what we have endured.
Why my family has been enduring the hardships and adversity, is beyond me at times, but I know that we have become stronger people as a result. We have become wiser, we have learned from our past, and can change our future. I personally do not believe that they are because of us not being in a church.
I just left my church of almost 30 years - would have been in September and I'm sure you remember it was YOU that a brought home a flyer from school about a revival. We went and never turned back.
There came a time when I was not content with things and this went on for years while I prayed asking God for direction. NO ANSWER. I continued going even though the last year, at least, it was a literal weekly battle within myself to get up and go - I did not WANT to go but I did because I thought that was what God wanted. Then on day I realized it was about the worse thing I could do going with that attitude.
Finally, Palm Sunday something happened and I knew it was God's answer to my prayer. I left the church and my first week in my new church I felt such peace - God's approval I figure - and have been going now for almost 3 months. I have been so totally accepted and made to feel welcome. I'm not making any rash decisions about joining but definitely am enjoying!
There was a time in your Dad's and my life when we WERE NOT in church. I can honestly say yes, we had some problems during those times - but that is life - Having gone through those trials did make us stronger. You are so right about that.
Like you, i believe we experience different things to put us in a position to help other people through the same experiences and giving them hope. God never leave us. Who can better empathize with than someone who has walked that path?
I personally do believe you were moved to Portland to be near the better medical care. You know my opinion on our local doctors/hospitals here! But I could be wrong. God's ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours - I can only make assumptions.
I pray for you guys all the time and like you, don't understand the whys of everything - but then again, we are told not to lean on our own understanding but to trust and acknowledge God in all His ways.
We are all individuals, make our own choices and God will catch us if necessary.
I don't know who made those comments to you but we are also told not to judge others - as you said. Of course we are all guilty of it from time to time and you have no idea how many times I've had to ask forgiveness for it. But I don't think I've ever shared my judgmental thoughts to that person's face. If so, I ask forgiveness for that right now.
I simply think if people will go to the links in this post and read the many short articles - along with your Statement of Faith they will see you are not in any danger with God. Your faith in God during your cancer was so strong - faith is something you build throughout your life - you don't just happen on it. That speaks volumes for you.
I hear what you are saying about the back sliding if you are not in church or at the altar I personally disagree with that thought. I think the only way you can lose your salvation is to intentionally turn your back on God and the Holy Spirit and tell them to go. But even at that, I think if a person sincerely repents of that,God will be merciful and forgive them. And I know you certainly have not done this.
I wouldn't worry about people's opinions as long as you know where you stand with the Lord. Hopefully they were trying to be helpful and mean ill intentioned.
My prayer is that you guys will be able to find a church home and have the fellowship with other Christians BUT- in God's time and His way and that is all that matters. It took your Dad and me time to find the perfect fit. Which, by the way, wasn't the perfect fit for me after so many years. People change, and so did I.
There are many different churches with some different doctrines. Some I might agree or disagree with - BUT - my heart is as long as we have the basics down - God is love, Christ his son, his death and resurrection - we're good.
As a PS: When I had dinner with you and your family the night before surgery and Skyla said grace, I was more than impressed because she prayed all about God helping you through your surgery, getting rid of the cancer and not letting you die. That did not happen coming from a home that does not teach and respect God. She totally forgot about grace - and I'm sure God didn't care! LOL