Category Archives: more like Him

Jesus is not Ghandi

david_bazan

Last Thursday Dustin and I saw David Bazan perform a “house show” at our friend Josh’s place. There was about 50 of us nicely packed into the living room where Bazan strummed his guitar and played a great acoustic set that even included some classic Pedro the Lion songs.

Bazan always has a question and answer time at his shows. Dustin saw him a few years back and was really struck by some of the answers he gave. So I was really interested when someone asked him if he believed in an afterlife. I’m not going to write out the whole reply because I don’t remember it accurately enough to do it justice and also I’m a blogger not a reporter. But there was one part that stuck out to me- Bazan said that he is no longer afraid of death and hell. He said he has come to realize that hell is something that some mean people made up as a threat. (He didn’t talk about heaven so I don’t know if he feels that it is something nice people made up or not.) After stating some disgust at the state of the Evangelical church he went on to say that he would just like to see people follow what Jesus taught. There were supportive “yeahs” and light clapping around the room.

I’m not trying to single out Bazan, but he is a good example of a common theology among our culture. It has become popular to see Jesus as a sort of Ghandi figure, quoting the couple of verses that fit their personal idea of who Jesus is- love your neighbor as yourself, take care of the widows and the poor, turn the other cheek, ect.

I find that they often leave out the parts where Jesus talks about the divisive things: the kingdom of Heaven advancing by force, worshipping God and serving only Him, how Jesus will turn people away from heaven, how real hell is and how many will end up there, and don’t even get me started on the parts where Jesus starts predicting the future and talks about a final judgement. These are not the things that you hear when people reference how great Jesus was-WAS-and how we should all follow his example.

People think of Jesus as some really great guy who taught us how to live in love and peace with humanity. The ultimate hippie. That is partly true, in a very pathetic, watered down way. Jesus didn’t see himself that way. He said: “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace on the earth! No, I came to bring a sword.” Surprised? Read Matt 10:34-39.

Is this the Jesus that you know? If it’s not then it’s time to open a Bible and read who it is you claim to know and follow.

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Attention All Church Shoppers

I had a fabulous facebook chat with my friend Josh today. We were talking about the current trends we see in some friends relating to church. There are a few things that we noticed, and maybe I will write about those another time. For now I thought I’d blog about the biggest thing: church shopping. We as a 20-30 Somethings are the absolute worst when it comes to church shopping. Or, probably more appropriate, just church bashing (sometimes not even actually attending anywhere). Somewhere along the way church became a buffet to us. It became unlimited options for us to pick through and chose exactly what we want. What WE want. It seems like the part about where GOD wants us has become unimportant. (note: I am not talking about people who happen to be in-between churches, I am talking about people who have a pattern of criticizing and leaving churches.)

I was in church one Sunday morning about 3 years ago really unhappy with my church and wishing that we could attend a different one. A cooler one. God spoke to me something at that moment that seemed so base at the time but has subsequently changed my life. I sat in the balcony looking down over the congregation, irritated, frustrated and disappointed, when God said to me that He had called me to this church. He said church is like a family and in a family you can’t chose which one you will be born in to, or what your family members would be like. You may have a weird uncle or a nosy aunt. But it doesn’t matter because they are your family and you chose to love them. I was so convicted by God saying this to me, and I repented for my judgment against my church- my family. After that Sunday the flood gates opened for me and Dustin. We met amazing friends, were promoted in the church and found a true intimacy and unity at ORCC. I can say with all my heart that I love this church, and in return the church loves me. Does that mean that I don’t struggle with things here or don’t have certain desires that I would like met? No, of course not. But when in life is that not the case? This is true in my marriage as well, or in my friendships, but I don’t stop being loyal to them. If you chose to be loyal and love your church you will find the same in return. If you are cold and judgmental you will receive the same in return.

Here are 2 of the best quotes I have ever read about church shopping:

“We have reduced the church to one hour-and-a-half event per week; we have reduced the Gospel to cater to felt needs and personal preferences; and we have reduced discipleship to optional private spiritual exercises …We are raised with so many options we are paralyzed by the possibility of something better … God/church simply gets added to the list of things we consume … the problem is that much of the ‘attractional’ church has fostered this understanding by catering to it …” -Mike Erre, speaking pastor of Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, Calif

“But we as individual “church shoppers” must realize there are problems with every single church. Let me repeat that: There are problems with every single church. There are lame people in every one. There is gossip in every one. There are weird, awkward people in every one. Pastors are going to screw up, the music might suck and the greeter at the door might turn her nose up at you when you enter. When these things happen, remember that none of those things matter. Do not be distracted by these things. People are always going to be flawed. That’s why they need Christ. And you know what? You are there to bring more of Him to that place. You are there to give of yourself, to humble yourself, to form relationships with people you might not normally associate with for the sake of something greater than you. Offer to apply for leadership.  Offer to help with a mission trip. Go feed homeless people. If you go with the intent to give of yourself in any and every way possible, I promise the sucky worship leader or the yawner sermons will not matter.

If we walk actively and raise our voices, we will connect. If we sit passively, expecting to be catered to, we will be left in the cold.”

source: Pastor Andrew Schwab

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my husband wrote a blog!

Dustin wrote for our church’s 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting blog. It’s awesome. 

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but 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.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)

I don’t know if your childhood was as surreal as mine; growing up as a pastor’s kid seems to set you up for a parade of odd characters to march through your life.  And many of your recollections of the tender years have a curious, unreal quality.  As I reflected on Isaiah’s words above, my mind drifted to one such recollection.

As a tot in Children’s Church, I was pretty convinced that God was real and Jesus loved me, etc. and many of my fellow church-going chums felt the same.  The folks in charge, however, seemed to never truly feel confident that we understood their message.  They suspected, I think, that we children nodded our heads and clapped our hands and gave clever answers in order to get candy. This wasn’t completely untrue.  For whatever reason, church seemed to have mountains of the sweet stuff, generously dished out for good behavior or bright answers.

I see now that these pastors and teachers wanted us to know more than simple answers to get candy.  They were trying to connect us to the loving God of the universe; a God with a personal and profound plan for our little lives.  And that is why they invited huge men to come to our Children’s Church to break things.

Now, I wasn’t a large boy, and so these men with necks like oak trees and biceps like beach balls seemed to me like something from a nightmare. They simply marched in, muscles bulging, matching singlets glistening, and immediately started smashing things.   Wood planks, cinderblocks, phonebooks, hot-water bottles…anything was fair game for these purveyors of mayhem.  And one of them would get on the microphone and plead with us children to pray for these men as they did things our mothers would never let us do. I mean to say, if I were to come home from school one day, greet the family, pet the dog, and then begin mashing stacks of bricks with my elbows…my mother would have destroyed me.

But this was power of an untamed sort. These fellows wreaking havoc displayed strength in an exciting and Samson-esque way. Surely this was how that brawny man-of-old mowed down all those miserable Philistines? Certainly David showed a similar liveliness when he smote Goliath? Even Esther, slip of a girl though she may have been, must have had an intensity that could have inflated a hot-water bottle till it exploded?

When I reflect on Isaiah 40:29-31, my mind earnestly tries to consider it’s encouragements in an enlightened, grown-up way.  The furrowed brow of a tough decision, the pious resolution to do the right thing…of course these everyday tests require God’s strength.  But my mind continuously drifts to those mighty men and their wanton skills.  Is it possible that God had something a little more robust in mind when He inspired these immortal words?  Certainly the thought of attacking the enemy of our souls with similar ferocity, his lies broken into small gritty fragments under the crushing blow of God’s Word, holds a sort of charm?

Pastor Dustin

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Bitterness Sucks.

Each year we do 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting at our church. This year the Pastors were asked to take 1 of the days and write a blog post on the verse/topic of the day. I thought I would post mine here to share. It’s a bit long, but give it a chance. 😉

Today is day 3 in our 21 days of prayer and fasting. I pray that God is showing you mighty things as you go through each day. The theme for today is “Deliverance from Bitterness and Rebellion” and the verse we are meditating on is Hebrews 12:15 “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” NLT

In my life I have found few things as sneaky and damaging to my walk with Christ, and my relationship with others, as bitterness and resentment. Something as simple as a mean look or insensitive comment can cause an offense to enter our hearts and unless dealt with properly, a poisonous root begins to take hold. Hurts will happen; it’s unavoidable and out of our hands. Yet what we do with those hurts is our choice. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and resentment, and nothing drains you like bitterness and resentment. But we don’t have to live with it. We must remember that Christ has forgiven us and we should forgive others. “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember the Lord forgave you, so must forgive others.” (Col. 3:13) NLT

If we choose to bury a painful offense no matter how seemingly small and insignificant, instead of forgiving, it is guaranteed to grow into an ugly monster. This monster is insatiable; always looking to be fed with agreement from others. It usually sounds something like: “Have you ever noticed how unfriendly so and so is?” “Have you seen the inappropriate things she wears to church?” “They should have never hired Pastor so and so”. Going back to our verse for the day, this is the very place where this bitterness is now “corrupting many”. Our bitterness has become a stumbling block for others. How often do we participate in these conversations where someone’s bitterness is on display and instead of lovingly encouraging them toward forgiveness we participate and join in? I am sorry to say that it happens all too often in my life.

Paul would be disappointed. In this verse he is speaking to us with urgency: “Look after each other!” The mandate that Paul gives is for you and I as the body of Christ. Many times bitterness and resentment lives just under our radar: living, growing and waiting to bring death to our relationships. Paul is saying that it is our job to recognize these deadly traps and lovingly lead one another to the healing ministry of Christ.

We should remind each other that we have been forgiven so much and in return need to forgive others. Remind each other that if we want to experience God’s grace in our lives, we need to extend grace to others. (Mark 11:25). We are a team, we are not called to live separate lives, we are the Bride and in that we need to hold one another accountable.

As Pastor Brian talked about yesterday, the next three weeks is a time of laying down and sacrificing. Choosing to forgive and let go of bitterness is an act of obedience, a true sacrifice. Let us be obedient to Matthew 5:23-24,

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

I urge you, before you go any further in your time of prayer and fasting, find reconciliation. Whether it’s to a family member, a church friend, a co-worker, maybe it’s even your spouse! Go to that person and make peace. This is the true sacrifice that God desires of us. As you do this you will see that root of bitterness dry up and die, leaving room for love, peace and victory!

Much love to you, my church family,

Pastor Kate Groeneman

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Blog Birthday!

Today is the one year birthday of ThatGirlKate. Last year a group of blogging friends: Mark, Judi, and Josh Brage convinced me to give it a go. 180 posts and 50,000 hits later, this little blog has come a long way in just a year. Yes, most of those hits are from people searching “Lorenzo Lamas” or “pee pants” but still, they are hits, right Judi?

Blogging is an art form that is intimidating, alluring and challenging all at once, and it’s the author who is putting that kind of pressure on themselves. Just like any other art form, it takes time to grow and find your voice. Looking back over the last year of posts, I am a little stunned at some of the things I shared, some good and some bad. We all know what it’s like to post something that you regret, but that comes with the territory. You learn and move on. I am amazed at some of the posts that ended up being a real encouragement to others in their walk with Christ, making the scary transparency and vulnerability totally worth it. If God wants to use my insecurities, my downfalls and my questions to strengthen someone else, then so be it.

This year has been one of the hardest I have ever faced in my life. There have been some very dark, stormy seas. My prayer is that by 2nd birthday of my blog it will be filled with stories of life, hope, joy, miracles and maybe even a little new edition to our family. Something that we have been believing and praying for for a year and a half.

Thanks for reading my silly, little blog. I love each of you so much.

ThatGirlKate

guard-cat

Here is some of my favorite posts from this past year.

My hall of fame, if you will.

Snapshots from my childhood

Adrian Sudbury

Little Katy’s Summer To Do List

Music That Changed My Life

Chubby Girl vs Giant Pancake

Sleeping Man in Foyer

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Filed under aiming at heaven, arteest, i love cats. so what?, in my opionation, Life and Marriage, more like Him, my friends., my husband loves me, right?

forsaking righteousness for relationship

Today I was going through the check out stand at Wal Mart. The nice lady who was ringing me up had a black, messy cross on her forehead. I saw a mom and dad with their kids walk by with the same crosses on their foreheads. Never being Catholic, I have never seen or participated in the Ash Wednesday ceremonies, or even Lent, for that matter. Now, there is a part of me that is thankful that I am not under “religion” but instead am in relationship, but there is a part of me that felt a desire to be a part of this obviously special day. What would it be like to walk around with a cross of ash on my forehead? How would it change my thoughts and behaviors through the day? How would it change how others saw me? Would the outer representation translate into a heart change?

This reminds of me a conversation I had recently with my friends Kate and Chris. We were talking about how we have forgotten righteousness and justified it through relationship. We think since we have freedom in our relationship with Christ that there is now no need for religion pushing righteousness on us. I am guilty of seeing righteousness the same as religion, finding it dogmatic and bringing only condemnation.  So instead we use relationship to justify sin and habitual downfalls, knowing that no sin can separate us from Christ, that His love will always be there for us. I don’t want that in my life. I want the relationship to lead to righteousness. I want to spend time with my Savior, with my friend, and walk away with a cross of ash on the forehead of my heart in remembrance to carry righteousness with me everywhere I go.

I pray my heart is always in search for Christ, and always transformed in righteousness.

ash_wednesday

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Beauty

I am currently reading Captivating by Stasi Eldridge for a small group that I’m in. It’s not a book that I would necessarily read on my own, but I don’t mind reading it for the group. I finished the first chapter yesterday and a certain excerpt really stood out to me:

My daughter Emma–nearly six years old–came to me all aglow this morning. She lay at my feet on my bed all stretched out as if she hadn’t a care in the world. “Mommy,” she said, “I had a wonderful dream last night.” “What was it about?” I asked. “I was a Queen,” she answered. And as she did her cheeks blushed pink.”Really!” I replied. “What happened in your dream?” “I was wearing a long, beautiful dress,” she said with hands gesturing downward, flowing. “Was there anything on your head?” I wondered aloud. “Yes, a crown.” “Hmmmm, why was that such a wonderful dream?” “I just love feeling that way!” “What way?” And with a sigh she spoke one word . . . “Beauty.” (Emma’s Dream, as told to her mother)

I love the carefree way that Emma describes the dream to her mom. Emma is a queen, and she is able to see it and feel it with no shame and even, now here’s a biggie: no fear of disappointment.

I can learn a lot from this little six year old.

little_princess

This is one excited little princess.

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