Saturday, October 18, 2008

18 months old

Vance says I should call our youngest son by his given name, but Destructo just seems to be so much more appropriate these days! At 18 months, his favorite activities seem to be all kinds of things that take a lot of cleaning up after. Things like dumping a full bowl of lasagna on the carpet, taking every Kleenex out of every box and arranging them throughout the house, "sharing" his food with the dog, and of course, writing on things with Sharpies.

This week he's discovered the power of the step stool. He's found out that he can carry that little pink mermaid step around with him and suddenly he's grown 12 inches! That extra foot allows him not only to reach things on the counter, but also to climb up onto it. Thus, all kinds of things are that were previously out of reach are now in the path of the hurricane! When I got out of the shower the other day, he was at the kitchen sink going through the dirty dishes.

This month he's also learned the healing power of a kiss. He'll often reach up to lay a smooch on me when I've got a boo-boo. As I write this, the little guy is pushing a stroller through the living room, laughing whenever we make eye contact. He may have an uncanny ability for making messes just now, but that smile, that laugh, his kisses; those are things that build up, not tear down.

I guess Vance is right, I'll have to rethink my little guy's nickname. Maybe Destructo could morph into something less....destructive. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From a used-to-be-AG perspective

Growing up in a little Assemblies of God church I learned a lot about being a Christian and a lot about being Pentecostal. Somehow, though, those lines started to blend together to where it was almost impossible to be one (Saved) without being the other (a speaking-in-tongues, filled with the Holy Ghost and Fire saint). There came a point when I just didn't buy into that anymore. Anybody with a psych class under his belt could tell you it had something (okay, a really big something) to do with the fact that my home church went through a big, ugly split about the same time I quit drinking the Kool-Aid.

But even without the split, I was beginning to have my doubts. First there was the whole "Thursday-Night-is-Get-the-Holy-Spirit-Night-or-You're-Not-Really-a-Good-Enough-Christian" thing. Every summer I went to camp and was challenged to live a better life; to be closer to God than ever before. Then on Thursday, the last night, there was always this special emphasis on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This meant that you speak in tongues or you don't have it. I saw kids so hungry for God that they faked whatever they thought they needed to do just to feel accepted. I was always the last to leave the tabernacle; I didn't want to miss a single blessing.

After a few years of this, I realized that the gift of tongues wasn't what it was all about. Falling over; being "slain in the Spirit" wasn't it either. Really being filled with the Holy Ghost is about having him in your everyday life, your every thought, your very being. Tongues has nothing to do with this.

I now attend a Wesleyan Church. Although most people wouldn't be totally shocked if someone spoke in tongues during a service, I believe it would probably be out of order to use that gift there. We sing about five songs to open the service. They're somewhat contemporary and we even have drums, guitar, bass and keyboards at most services. The pastor often thanks us "for that good singing" before he begins the message.

The core people at my church truly love God. They love sinners as well as saints, too. In the seven or so years that I've attended, I've learned more about how to show God's love to others in practical ways than I did in my entire first 25 years of church. These people are so real and so forgiving and so caring and so welcoming that I sometimes even see that as a hindrance to things getting done the way I think they should. Through that, God is teaching me patience, humility and that my way isn't always His plan. I love my church.

Alas, there are things about the AG that I miss. Things I miss a lot. As an emotional being, I miss the adrenaline surge that I feel in a dynamic worship service. Growing up, we'd sing for hours; many of them spent dancing, kneeling, bowing before the Throne of God, weeping, or even laughing. Worship was something I did with my entire being. My voice was raised in prayer and song, my hands were lifted in praise, my entire body knelt before the Presence of the Lord. Although I'm not much of a dancer, there were times when I felt like I just needed to move my feet; my body just needed to be in motion because I couldn't contain the enthusiasm I had for my Savior.

Times of prayer were communal. There was never a time when we just listened to the pastor pray. We all were joined in prayer. We all prayed together, often aloud. Many times we would come together around a friend in need and lay hands on each other. The prayers weren't always answered in ways we asked, but we always knew that we weren't alone and that we had each other's backs.

There are many things I appreciate about being in a non-Pentecostal place. Knowing that I don't have to worry about Sister Smith breaking out into tongues or prophecy when I bring a first time guest is nice. Not having to climb over people "slain in the Spirit" and laying all over the front of the church, that's nice, too. The "weird" stuff is not what I miss.

But I miss being challenged. I miss the emotional aspect of worship. I miss the ability to worship with my entire being, not just my voice. I miss the sound of dozens of voices raised together in prayer.

Somewhere there has to be a balance. I don't know how to achieve it yet. Someday I will.