Confessions of a guy that grew up in church.

September 22, 2011

So I grew up going to church.  Actually I grew up going to two churches.  My mom and dad became christians at different points in my life and got saved in different churches.

My mom went to a luthern church, and my dad a non-denominational, highly pentacostal church.  Two radically different worlds.

All these years later I go to church now too.  My whole family goes to the same church actually.  (Except one of my sisters who goes to a church in Tucson).  And the reason I go to church is not because this is my culture and what I have been taught.

For some reason I have always had a mind older than me.  And so growing up I even saw things about church I didn’t like.  The things I didn’t like were some relgiousness and falseness in it.  I say religious to mean that we do things to make God move.  We do things so that God is happy with us.  And I saw that a fair amount growing up.  My memory may exagerate that though.

Things as simple as my mom or dad telling me to stand up and sing during worship.

Something they didn’t realize is that despite me being around all that truth being spoken, my heart had not been changed.  It created a “Christian kid.” But it didn’t create someone with a new and reborn heart.

Following God was more about knowing the truth and doing what He wants you to do than anything else I think.  Maybe I remember it wrong, but that seemed to be what it was like.

But eventually after a lot of fighting with parents, more disillusion with the church, and actually going to a more healthy church God revealed himself to me in a way that I finally knew He loved me. And that’s when God did something in my heart.

Now when God changed me, it was because of something he did in my heart.  Not because of some awesome youth program. Or some awesome event.  He took someone that didn’t know me very well, and had them speak truth to my heart.  Specific things that my heart had been dealing with.  And that helped me realize all this truth I had been taught was true, but more so I felt loved by God.  And realzized this person was delivering a message of love to me specifically from God.

God was relentless in my life in spite of man trying to do what they thought was best for me.  But for some reason in all of man’s might and power, man could not change my heart.  My heart could not be trained to follow Jesus.  Not sincerely at least.

Call me old fashioned or Biblical, but I think that only God changes our hearts.  He may use people to even do that, it may even happen in the midst of some awesome event.

But

He is the one that changes it.

And now I am a youth pastor.  And I know that no event I put on, no way I do small group matters, unless it is somehow a place that cultivates God changing our heart.  Don’t get me wrong, I think God changes hearts in all sorts of ways.  But it needs to be lead by the Spirit rather than led by our events, or are ideas as to what pleases God.

This is what I want people to know, that God changes our heart.  We can’t be simply trained to follow Jesus or love Jesus or worship Jesus.  Even if we grew up in the church.

If that was possible, then my dad would have been able train me during  junior high and my freshman year to do all that.  But he couldn’t, my heart about God stayed nearly the same.

What my dad and mom did do, that changed my heart, was pray for it. They prayed that God would do something in my heart.   And God did.  I know he loves me, and that honestly makes me feel like nothing else matters but the fact the one living God loves me.

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