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Confession: March 24th was going to be the end for me. Months with no car, pain, painful treatments, meds screwed up, isolated, low on cash...

Monday, February 22, 2016

In Praise of My "Praising" Church

On the outside, my church looks like the tiny place of worship one sees in old movies or on Hallmark cards. Built in 1855, this church has been opening its doors to all who wish to enter. I consider myself a Catholic but there are no Catholic churches within 30 miles of where I live so I decided to "try" this little Southern Baptist church for my spiritual needs. I hate to admit it but I had already "judged" this place completely ignoring Matthew Chapter 7's "Judge not..." passages.
I was surprised initially by the pews, furnishings and displays. Beautiful. The inside looked far larger than the outside would lead you to believe. My next surprise was how many families I had known in high school still attended here. I rediscovered friends from that time and was amazed at how "we all had turned out." But the biggest surprise to me was this church's format or belief system. It's all love. Not a "do whatever you want" format but a "God is love" one.
I'll confess that I expected to be "preached at" and told how much of the old "dirty sinner" idea I was because of the Fall of Man. What I got was different and quite unexpected. The first thing I ever heard out of this pastor's mouth was, "Isn't it amazing how much God loves us?" Wait...what? God wasn't a mean old man perched on some throne just waiting for me to screw up something? He wasn't the ultimate perfectionist who hated men, women, gays and anyone who wasn't a "Christian"? Did this pastor have the same Bible everyone else had?
"MY" church has yet to condemn anyone...so far. I have to admit that I am still getting used to all this praise and positive messages. Now it's not what is being called a "prestige and prosperity" church where "God will make you rich if you just attend...and give to the collection." It's message is simple...LOVE and PRAISE...with the possible subtext of "actions speak louder than words."
This church has regular FREE meals to all who want them--member or non-member. Same with clothes, food pantries and almost any financial need one might face. While the Ten Commandments are displayed and expected to be followed, this church adheres to the passage that "the greatest of all these is love."
The message is God loves us, is our 'father' and wants the best for us...and just like if our earthly parents were like this...He is worthy of praise. The subtext, if you will, seems to be "faith without works is nothing." (I forget the exact verse right now,) Again, actions speak louder than words. Being a child of God doesn't mean you are better than anyone nor does it mean you have to "take crap off folks because you're Christian." Being a child of God doesn't mean you're a sap! It simply means you are loved, created in His image and valued--no matter who you are. He is worthy of praise.
I have to "confess" that I was...and at times still am surprised at this church's message. You mean there is nobody to hate? No one to look down on and judge? No 'magic' verse or prayer that will make me rich or make me whatever I want? No condemnation of this group or that group for being "an abomination"? What kind of church is this?????????????
It's Cedar Ford Baptist Church...a praising church.

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