Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Church

God is the Recipe

God

“God is not an ingredient in your life,” said Pastor Aaron. “He is the recipe.”

Pastor Aaron talked about how people love God and get spiritual when life is rough and they’re having problems. But during good times, they forget about God. God gets put on the wayside.

“If you want to add God into your life, you have to subtract something from it,” he said. “In order to bring God into my life I have to remove what’s offensive to him.”

He took a glass of water and poured it into a full pitcher of water.

“We overflow the boundaries of life, and everything spills over and becomes saturated by what we add,” he said. “We end up making a mess.”

The pastor implored us not to waste time on this earth by waiting for something to happen. He also talked about the importance of prayer without ceasing, which means a continuous attitude and communication with God without being unproductive.

“Oftentimes we look at the enemy and say [confrontationally] let’s go,” he said. “We should focus on God rather than the enemy.”

To do that, he prays, “God, you got a problem here (whether in the church, the community, the neighborhood). How do You want me to help?”

“That prayer keeps your eyes on God and not on yourself,” He said.

I thought, it will also help us clean the mess we’ve made on this earth and replace it with a beautiful and delicious Recipe.

Advertisements

Choosing Faithfulness

Pastor Aaron (2)

Pastor Aaron read from 1 Samuel 2:12

“Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot.”

He stopped and said, as if to himself, “It’s always dangerous to talk about food, especially when it’s barbecue, especially during second service.”

The congregation laughed.

Being light-hearted and down-to-earth makes it so much easier to feel God’s message. This is what happens every Sunday at Freedom Christian, where the pastor incorporates the bible’s teachings into his everyday family life. He turns the act of helping a man shovel his snow into a thoughtful and humorous story. The man whom he helped thanked him and asked, “Where do you work?”

“I’m a pastor.”

“Oh, you’re a man of God.”

“A title does not make me a man of God,” said the pastor. “You should know me for a few years and decide whether or not I am a man of God.”

He added that some Christian colleges are worse than regular colleges. They have the same ungodliness but they are wrapped up with religious terms.

The sermon’s topic was not religious terms, but it was about Samuel proving that we can be faithful in an unfaithful environment.

“You choose faithfulness and you choose unfaithfulness and then faithfulness and unfaithfulness chooses you,” he said. “I will take a faithful person in my life more than someone who is talented or someone who is flashy. Faithfulness means being faithful again and again and again. It’s being faithful in your life from the east of your life to the west of your life, from the north of your life to the south of your life.”

The pastor’s last words during today’s sermon were “Examine one area in your life where you can be faithful and work all week to make it a strength.”

 

Dealing with Christmas Crazies

Pastor Aaron2

I am grateful to have a large loving tribe that consists of 11 siblings, at least 33 nieces and nephews, and at least 10 great nieces and nephews (sorry, I’ve lost count). That’s not counting in-laws, aunts, uncles, and first cousins that all live in our vicinity. Being surrounded by this many family members is great, but it also means dealing with so many difficult people that at times, you feel entitled to an honorary doctorate degree in psychology.

Then during Sunday’s Morning Worship, Pastor Aaron talked about how to handle, in a biblical way, the Christmas Crazies who drive us insane. His sermon helped put things into perspective.

“My father used to always say ‘Hurt people hurt people,’” said Pastor Aaron. “Most people who are difficult are either wounded, fearful, are in physical or emotional pain, self-protecting, worried, or spiritually dying or dead.”

These difficult people usually fall into the following categories:

  1. Dishonest People – they devalue people for their own gain
  2. Demanding People (parents excluded, but please avoid dictatorship style parenting at home)
  3. Deadly People – they love to kill through emotional and spiritual complaints, argument, creating as much conflict as possible, causing pain to others. These are people who love to throw emotional damage to others, even through social media.
  4. Defensive People – They struggle when confronted about themselves. They don’t listen. They just get angry.

So how do you handle people who are either dishonest, demanding, deadly, or defensive? Using biblical verses, Pastor Aaron explained:

1.Realize you can’t get along with everyone.

“You live in a mental prison when you work very hard to please people,” he said. “I realized long ago that I can’t make everyone like me. Once I stopped trying to be everyone’s best friend, I started making better decisions for myself. You are responsible for your life.”

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.    Romans 12:8

 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.    Proverbs 29:25

2. Refuse to give into payback mentality

Do not repay evil with evil or insult on insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessings, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

3. Respond with Love and Concern

Even if we decide to never be in contact with someone again, because of how hurtful they once were or can continue to be, we must realize two things: 1) God loves these people; 2) God does not love you more than he loves them. He might not love their behavior, but He loves them.

“God does not intend for us to be a doormat or to be a wimp, but when you focus on something long enough – angry prayers or retaliation, for instance – you become it,” said the Pastor.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.   – 2 Timothy 1:7

“My mother always said, ‘When you live your life in the right way, in the end even your enemies will want to make peace with you,” he said.

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. Proverbs 16:7

“So let’s live up to the calling God gave us and respond to difficult people the way Jesus would have,” said the Pastor at the end of the sermon, preparing us for a lovely holiday season with our families – we pray.

 

 

 

 

 

How Are You Doing on Your Journey?

dreams

“Dreams are a big part of our everyday life,” said Pastor Aaron during Sunday’s sermon at Freedom Christian. “Looking at the history of the church, I see that wherever the biggest dreamers and most creative people were, who continue to have God’s dreams birthed in their hearts and live them out, that’s where God moved the most.”

The remainder of his sermon, which is part of a 12 week series titled The Mission, was just as powerful and inspiring as he noted, “I think one of the dangers of Christian faith is simply this in America: We stopped dreaming yet we serve the greatest Dreamer of all time.”

He said that we as Christians submit to God’s sovereignty and use it as an excuse for our apathy, adding, “In America, we might not be faithful to God but God is still faithful to us and then we take his faithfulness and say, see, God must be pleased with my unfaithfulness because He’s still faithful to me when I’m unfaithful to Him.”

He paused along the way and asked, “How are you doing on your journey? What might God be challenging you to change about your attitude, your heart, your nature, maybe those dark places?”

It is answering such questions that helps one grow spiritually and feel a special closeness to God, but only if we ask them of ourselves regularly, not forget them at the church altar.

Enjoying a Bonfire and Smores at Church

IMG_1208

I was determined to make it to my church’s Bible Class today, but once I got there and dropped off the kids in the daycare, I was informed that for the month of August we are to do whatever we choose during that hour and a half – read our bible or mingle with peers to discuss religion. I sat in the café and enjoyed some time to recollect my thoughts and read.

When we walked out of church, on the way to our car, we noticed a bonfire in the backyard. The pastor invited us to join everyone else. Well, needless to say my children and I had a wonderful time. We sat on picnic tables, watched the young girls and boys play ball, the little children waddle around, fall in the mud, then pick themselves up and play again. Someone passed around 40% off coupons from the Gap – perfect for back-to-school shopping.

The clouds had a hint of red from the sun behind them. The weather was not too hot, not too cold. The grass was green and the mood was heavenly. The spirit of this church, Freedom Christian, is always serene, friendly and truly holy.

Easter Egg Coloring Burnout

Easter is coming up so I did what mothers do days before the great holiday – I had my kids color eggs. I prepared the table, had the six color dying tablets ready, adding a tablespoon of vinegar to make the colors more vibrant. Everything was perfect until my oldest niece, in an attempt to help me, knocked down the crystal bowl of green water. My entire kitchen tile was green and had shinning tiny crystal scattered throughout. I warned the kids to keep their feet on the chair as I cleaned up the mess. My niece rushed to the bathroom where I suspect from the length she stayed there, she was crying.

My son was crying as well. “I wanted the color green! It’s my favorite color!”

My mother tried to help by asking irrelevant questions like, “Why did you pick today of all days to color eggs?” And, “Why don’t you see why your son is crying?”

I gritted my teeth and brought everyone sandals as I continued to scrimmage for glass on the floor. In no time I heard complaints of “The eggs are finished! Bring us more!”

As if I could simply turn on the faucet and boiled eggs pop out.

On a more pleasant note – the custom of the Easter egg originated amongst the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection; in A.D. 1610, Pope Paul V proclaimed the following prayer.

Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth, pre-dating Christian traditions. The practice of decorating eggshell is ancient. Ostrich eggs with engraved decoration that are 60,000 years old have been found in Africa. Decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago.

Have a wonderful Easter everyone!

Easter Egg Coloring 2013

The Wailing Wall at Freedom Christian

The Wailing Wall

The Wailing Wall or Western Wall is in Jerusalem and is believed by many people to be the remains of one wall of a great Jewish temple or the wall surrounding the temple’s courtyard. It is a stone wall that extends about 62 feet above the ground and is considered to be a sacred site by Jews. Thousands of people make pilgrimages there each year.

Many Muslims believe that the wall has no relation to ancient Judaism. They refer to the wall as the Al-Buraq Wall, a reference to Al-Buraq, the winged steed that Muhammad is said to have ridden. Muslims believe that Muhammad tied Al-Buraq to the wall while he ascended to heaven to speak with God. Many Muslims also believe that the wall was part of the ancient Al-Aqsa Mosque, and that Jews did not begin praying at the wall until at least the 16th century, if not much later.

Jews from all countries, and as well as tourists of other religious backgrounds, go to pray at the wall, where many people believe that one immediately has the “ear of God.” Prayers that are sent in are placed into the cracks of the walls and are called kvitelach.

For the past few weeks at Freedom Christian, we’ve had our own Wailing Wall, with attendees writing their prayers and sending them off to God.

I love this church.

Freedom Christian

Church

Christmas vacation is officially over. Schools were back in session today and I had a hard time putting my mind back into place, having lost it – in a good way – for the last few weeks. With no schedules intact, my children and I did pretty much what we wanted when we wanted, most of the time doing nothing but lounge around. I skipped church, the gym, the coffee shop.

Today I prepared to get back into our usual routine. Wednesday evenings is Bible study at Freedom Christian, a nondenominational church, which I started attending shortly after Halloween 2012. My sister-in-law first learned of this church some six years ago, after she got a tip that every Halloween they put up a huge tent and provide free donuts, coffee, popcorn, caramel apples, and candy for the kids. They also have free kids’ games, recently even a petting farm. Every year, we would take the kids trick or treating in the neighborhood and then meet up at the church. In the beginning, rarely any Chaldeans (Christian Iraqis) came to this tent. Then their numbers increased, to the point where it seemed they were the majority of attendees. I had a good vibe about the church and often wondered what it was like inside. Last Halloween, members of the church were passing flyers about a kids’ program and daycare center they had for all ages. I thought, “I’m in.” I had wanted to find a church where my children felt happy and welcome and hoped this would be it. It was.

I pulled to the back of the building and saw the parking lot empty. The church was closed. On the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s to pick up hot chocolate for the kids, as promised. At home, I parked the car, looked behind me and saw two children completely knocked out. I thought, how heavenly! They napped for two hours and I got to work on the book I’m currently writing.

Thanks, Freedom Christian.