Ask Jonathots … March 31st, 2016

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My fiance was raised as a Catholic and I grew up Presbyterian. We plan to compromise after we’re married by going either to a Lutheran or Episcopal. But I don’t really like the solution. Neither one of us think the denomination makes any difference, but it did get me thinking. What do you think about this dilemma–especially since we want children?

I have always been of the contention that what you believe is much more important than where, when or even how you believe.

I think the problem with a compromise in spirituality is the notion that all outlets for the Christian message actually offer the heart, soul and mind of Jesus of Nazareth. They really don’t.

In the pursuit of finding the climate that suits a congregation, a church often has to place the more intense convictions of the faith on the back burner. It’s not a malicious act, but it is a purposeful one.

So I think it’s possible to visit every denomination for one Sunday or a couple of Sabbaths, introduce your own belief system into their atmosphere, and have an absolutely delightful time. But after a while, they will desire that you acquiesce to their cultural preferences instead of sharing your more basic beliefs.

So I think the decision of whether you go to an Episcopalian, Lutheran, Catholic or Presbyterian because you think they all believe in the same God is errant. What you want is to go to a church that understands the important values you treasure and leave there with a soul-satisfying experience.

I think many people think of going to church like they got a DUI and now have to do community service. They find it to be a duty, responsibility and now a sentence–to atone for a sinful nature.

I, for one, do not believe that such attendance to a religious service does us much good unless we actually find a way to become emotionally involved.

So my suggestion? The two of you should sit and write down the five things you agree upon, spiritually and emotionally, and then find a church of any denomination that agrees with most of them and grants you the conducive surroundings.

The sooner we understand that church is not about the delivery system of the worship service, but rather, the message and how it impacts our lives and touches our hearts, the better off we will be–and the less likely we will be to leave the institution because we find that Sunday morning family time is much more fulfilling.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 52 (October 17th, 1969) Kentucky Woman… January 31, 2015

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(Transcript)

Even though I know that going to church is not a sign of spirituality, if you have lived a life of attending the sanctuary, to suddenly cease and desist can certainly be a sign of some emotional, or even spiritual, regression.

From the age of twelve through seventeen, I attended church three times a week. That sounds a little odd in our world today, but it seemed normal at the time.

In the fall of 1969, I lost interest in the venture. I went only once a week, and then only if there was going to be a youth group meeting to discuss the Saturday night coffee-house.

I fancied myself the leader of that project, even though I think I placed the crown on my own head. I was always there for the coffee-house. It gave me a chance to share, sing and perform.

Then one Saturday night I showed up and there were strangers present. They were from Lexington, Kentucky, and had come to conduct a youth revival, to instruct us in some of the fresh changes going on in the church world.

They were led by a girl named Bree. She had long, blond hair, wore hippie clothes, talked so softly that you had to be completely silent to hear her, strummed a guitar now and then, and loved to lift her hands up and “worship,” as she called it.

All the young people in our church loved her.

I hated her.

She was stealing my spotlight. And I use the word “hate” because I had not yet reached an age when I was able to dislike something. I either loved it or hated it. She got my hate vote.

She challenged my authority by daring to take attention away from me. She pissed me off because when I questioned her, she answered me sweetly. And the other kids were drawn to her because unlike me, she seemed to love them for who they were instead of bullying them into being something else.

The animosity was so great that even though they only stayed for a week, it became necessary for Bree, the pastor, a couple of elders and myself to have a “sit-down.”

I was looking forward to it because I was prepared to show these religious leaders how this “strange woman from Babylon” was coming in to teach the “young’uns” peculiar ways.

The meeting was a disaster–at least for me. Bree was so self-effacing and gentle that she won over the room.

Three days later, Bree and her friends climbed into a van and headed back to Kentucky. Before she left, she found an opportunity to have a private moment with me. I thought to myself, Oh, here it comes. Now we’re going to get her real personality.

She walked up, gave me a quick hug, looked into my eyes and said, “I love you, Jonathan. The Lord has revealed to me that you’re going to be a great man in the Kingdom.”

I couldn’t breathe.

I still find myself … breathless.

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