There’s nothing wrong with going to church, or not. 

I know a few of my latest posts have caused some controversy, and I want to clarify a few things, and explain that my whole goal here is to create more unity within believers, not separation. I’ll start by saying that I am not against going to church. I’m not against following a specific religion. If you feel that being a Christian is best for you, or being a Pentecostal is best, then do it! There is absolutely nothing wrong with you needing guidelines to help you with your relationship with God. I am completely for walking the path God has you on. So you do you!!! My goal is not to try and convince people that they don’t need church or religion. I fully believe that it is a necessary thing to fellowship with other believers. My goal is to get believers to stop letting their religious mindsets keep them from truly being able to share Gods love with others. 

     You might think that you are living love in every aspect of life, but do you shut out those with negative beliefs? Do you correct or argue with others about who is right or wrong? Don’t worry, we all do it at some point, but in order to really show people who God is, and to minister to those who need God, we have to be accepting of all lifestyles. No, we don’t have to LIVE all lifestyles, but if our first instinct is to run away from the “bad” stuff and “bad” people, then how will they ever see God for who he really is? 

     I believe God created Church to be a support system. Somewhere that ALL believers and non- believers can go when they need to feel loved and accepted. Not JUST christians or JUST mormons. I don’t believe that God intended for believers to be so divided against each other. That’s why I’ve been saying things such as getting rid of our religious Labels and simply get together as believers to support each other’s relationship with God Without judging each other’s personal lifestyles. As long as we are following the holy spiri’ts guide in our own actions, then we can relate to everyone else around us. We don’t have to shy away from others simply because they choose to make different life choices than us. 

    I don’t believe that going to church should be an obligation, but instead a choice guided by our need. And we in turn shouldn’t judge those who choose not to attend church weekly. Again, church should be a place, or rather a group, where believers and non believers can gather and encourage each other in their walk with God. 

     Therefore, when I make comments about not having labels or searching outside the box, I don’t mean that we should all just throw out all moral and do what we feel is good. I mean that we should accept everyone for who they are and how they are living, and then offer advice on how certain lifestyle changes could possibly better their lives. No one is perfect, not even you, so don’t start Trying to tell people how they should be living, and where and when they should be going to church. 

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Losing your labels

Religion is a funny thing. Now, before everyone gets their panties in a wad over a misunderstanding, let me clarify myself. Religion, as in rules, regulations, laws, and so on, is a funny thing. We all grew up with some sort of religious background whether it was a church upbringing, or an anti-church upbringing. Therefore, we all have a set of beliefs that we have followed for our entire lives. This set of beliefs that we devote our entire life to is the same one that tends to tear us apart from those who have a different set of beliefs. We all were told over and over to believe this one set of beliefs, and that anyone who tried to tell us otherwise was wrong, so we should do what we can to “convert” said people from the other, here comes that tricky word, “religions”. What people aren’t stopping to ask themselves is “is there really only one RIGHT religion?”. We have been so stuck on knowing, understanding, and fully following our ONE religion, that it’s somewhat, or even completely, locked us into a very tight box. So what we’re going to do is briefly unlock that religion box, open that lid RIGHT open, and poke our heads out for a bit. Now, don’t be afraid. I’m not going to try and convince you that your religion is bad and that you’ve been wrong your whole life and that you shouldn’t believe anything that anyone tells you about church, God, or religion. But what I AM going to tell you will most likely make you a little nervous, but hopefully in a good way.

Let’s start by unlocking our box. Go ahead, grab that key that YOU OWN which is right in front of you, even though you’ve probably been told that their were monsters outside to get you if you opened your box, and turn that lock. Let’s imagine that it actually IS okay to question our religion…. GASP*!!!! NO STOP!!! I know, crazy right? But SURPRISE! it is! We’re not questioning God, that’s not what this is about at ALL! We’re questioning the religion, the set of beliefs we grew up believing, that we are part of. It’s a very difficult thing to do for two reasons. One, our initial instinct is to stop questioning because we’re afraid that we will somehow lose our faith in doing so. This is a silly reason because our faith should not be built on the people, rules, and “guidelines” of our religion. It should be built on God and God alone. The rest of the “church” stuff is simply a tool. Secondly, we don’t know how to do God without those guidelines. It’s easy to just simply do what you’re told, but what do we do when we don’t know what we should do? So lets say we’ve begun questioning our set religion, and we have found that we don’t necessarily agree with those beliefs anymore. Do we find a new religion? Do we start a new religion? What now?

That leads us to our second step. Let’s go ahead and open up our box. Don’t freak out, we’re not peeking out just yet. But don’t just slowly open it as if in fear, swing that sucker wide open! Now, let’s think of this crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, we don’t need a religion at all! AHHH!!! I know! mind blown! But seriously, what is the point of a set religion? What do you benefit from said “religion”? You have your churches rules, things they say you can and can’t do, set service times, etc.. etc.. But what do we really need those rules for? Who decided we needed rules? Jesus died on the cross so that we didn’t have to have all of the rules to keep us from going to Hell, and he left us with the holy spirit to guide us daily. He also said that above all else, Love. Love your neighbors, Love your enemies… So wouldn’t it make sense to stop following sets of rules, because we all have a different set, and simply follow God? It’s scary to think that we would, in theory be out in this crazy world alone. But you really aren’t. God is always around! Any and everywhere, and you can have one on one conversations with him. You don’t need a 12 week “talking to God” course. Just talk, and listen. Getting back on track, if you look at the facts, it just makes sense. There are hundreds of different religions, all with different beliefs, but they all have one thing in common and that is God. God sent Jesus to live a perfect life, take every sin of ours even before we committed it, and die with it so that we didn’t have to. Jesus set us free so that we could go out and live in Love. So think of everything you could accomplish if you didn’t have a label holding you back? I have been to several churches that wouldn’t let you be a part of the worship team, prayer team, children’s ministry, etc.. if you took part in “worldly” things. Things such as drinking, smoking, cursing, sex before marriage, you name it. So they would tell you that because you did things they didn’t agree with, you couldn’t express God’s love. Does that make sense??? NO! Now, because of this type of behavior for years and years, those who have decided they like “having fun”, have been completely turned away from God. Not because they don’t believe in God, but because they have been told that they couldn’t be a Godly person who would get into heaven if they did the things they were doing. So, let’s do this; throw away your label. Just don’t call yourself anything. Now you’re simply a believer in God and Jesus. No man made rules, nothing holding you back. How likely is it now that a “non-believer” will feel more comfortable talking to a nice, loving, accepting individual, take advice from them, and listen to what they have to say if this person doesn’t try to convert them to their set of boring rules and laws? I’m not saying that no religion means you can just do whatever the heck you want with no consequences, but if the only law we need to worry about is Loving one and other, then why do we need religion?

Now, we’re going to go ahead and peek our little heads right out of the top of this box. Go ahead! I know some of you already have shut and locked your little religion box back up, and that’s okay, just read with an open mind. Peek out and let’s see what could be. Now, because of our religions, we have not only put our own minds into a tight box, but we’ve also put God in a box. Don’t get defensive, it’s not your fault, but you can change it. We have placed God in our box of personal knowledge. This means we have limited God to what we know, and for many of us, that’s very little. You could think you’re the smartest person alive, but when it comes to God, we know just the bare minimum. But why? Well, because we’ve been taught to shut out science because “all scientists are atheists who only believe in the big bang theory”, we’ve been taught to not listen to others beliefs, and we’ve been taught to just follow the rules and we can make it to heaven. Our whole lives have been about simply doing well to get to heaven, but nothing else. Have you thought that maybe God created this world for something a little more? That maybe he created the world for us to enjoy? Don’t go crazy and just get buck wild now, but…. why not? Could there be a possibility that we can be that “crazy sinner” but also have an extremely strong, loving, true relationship with God? That we could also be one of the most loving people some may ever meet?

If we remove our labels, free ourselves from ourselves, and simply focus on God, how far can we go? Science has shown that molecules literally react to the situation their in. It’s shown that a molecule will act one way when alone, but as soon as it’s being watched, it will act a completely different way. That’s AMAZING! But, that’s God! Our attitudes and emotions can literally change an atmosphere simply by us walking into it. I’m saying this because I want you to understand that God is SO much bigger than you know. SO much bigger than you will EVER know. Just when I think I am starting to understand, I learn something else that completely flips my world upside down. If God had an end, we would find it and then have no reason to search. So let’s start searching with an open mind. But it all starts by losing the rules, losing the limitations that have been set for us, and go at EVERYTHING with an open mind. Look at lesbians and gays with Loving eyes instead of converting eyes. Look at drunks and prostitutes with open eyes instead of judgemental eyes. Look through Gods eyes. God doesn’t hate his people, God loves them all, and it doesn’t really matter what you think about them, so stop. Jesus wasn’t part of a specific religion. He didn’t force people to believe in him, and he certainly didn’t just give up on them when they didn’t want to follow him. Jesus saw the bigger picture and stayed focused on God.

I have said a lot of things lately that have cause a bunch of ripple within my family and friends, but I have learned to not let it bother me one bit because I know exactly where I stand with God, I know where my family stands with God, and I know that no matter how many people are at riffs with me that I love them no matter what.

Get out of your box and go find God in the world instead of trying to get people to come find God in your box.

Be completely present

Lately I’ve been changing my eating habits and exercising more often, which is not new effort for me, but this time around, things have just been different. It’s been easier to get up and go to the gym, I haven’t been tempted to eat badly as often as other attempts, and I realized that it is because of one change. I changed who I was doing it for. It was difficult to to change myself to satisfy people and stereotypes around me because those were constantly changing. What I thought could change the way I felt ended up just making me feel worse about myself. This led to being disappointed in myself for “failing” at a game where there were no winners. It sucked! To constantly feel as if you could never be good enough or could never please everyone is a very dim place to be. Because of this, I would fall back into my bad eating habits which would in turn add to the depression, if you will, which would effect my motivation to get up and exercise. It was a vicious cycle that never ended. I started praying about what I should do to fix my problem, and God immediately showed my where I needed to make cuts. There were small things like getting off of certain medications that were causing mood swings and such, but the biggest area was who I was changing my life for.  I realized that I needed to stop trying to please everyone AROUND me, and start bettering, NOT changing, myself to please God, and to be a better asset to those around me. It is amazing how a simple change of focus can effect everything in your life. Once my motivation turned from trying to change myself, into trying to better my life in order to be more helpful to those around me, my results instantly turned into what I was trying to achieve.

Not only have I been able to meet my eating, exercise, and weight-loss goals, but my thoughts have been opening and expanding. God has been showing me areas in my thought processes that I can be working on daily. I began focusing on the “why” of it all, and I was immediately brought to Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”. My “why” changed from pleasing others, to doing it for God with the intentions of bettering my life in order to be able to serve those around me. If I am sluggish, depressed, and unhealthy, I can’t be there 100% for my family, and I’m setting a bad lifestyle for my kids. Also, this verse hit right on point with not just my health, but several other areas in my life. For example, my attitude towards disciplining my kids has changed from being a dictator, which I hadn’t even noticed I had become, to being a mother whose goal is to raise loving, understanding, listening, caring, helpful children. But how could I raise that kind of person if my attitude was such that was stubborn, ignorant, bossy, rude, and wasn’t willing to listen? It’s not possible, it’s as simple as that. Those around you, especially your children, watch, and are influenced, by your actions. As much as you try to force it, they learn by what you do, not by what you say. So if you’re telling them to act, eat, or even play a certain way, but you yourself are not portraying those habits, they might do it momentarily to please you, but in the long run, they will act the way you act.

Once I began exercising with intentions of having a clear mind, and to release stress, I began getting the results I’ve been looking for which has been boosting my motivation even more! I’ve also been seeing my children’s habits changing because they’ve been watching me. TV time has decreased immensely, they’re attitudes have been happier and less aggressive, they sleep better, and they enjoy being outside and active more. So, one simple mindset change on my part has set off a domino effect in several other lives around me.

Therefore, if you’re going to make a lifestyle change, change it to portray God in your actions. Not just God as a person as some might imagine, but God as an action; as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control, Selflessness, and so on. Be present in body AND in mind, and remember that your actions and words go a lot further than just being said. Words can, and will, make an impact on someone around you even if it’s not to the person you’re speaking to. Open your mind to change, but change, not to please those around you, but to be able to show God to those around you with your everyday lifestyle.