Kicking off Season 3, Matt and Brandy are back in the studio to talk about disillusionment with the Christian church.
We’ve all experienced it, haven’t we? That moment when you realize reality and faith don’t seem to be aligned. Where do you turn when that happens? What do you do? How in the world did you even get here?
This is the start of a multi-part series where we talk about some of the topics surrounding the issue of disillusionment and what to do when you have a crisis of faith. It’s a normal part of the Christian faith, but one that isn’t often talked about. So let’s break down some walls and start talking about hard things.
Because it’s been a while since Matt and Brandy have been in the studio together, the episode starts with some “housekeeping.” Information on what to expect this season abounds. Hint: things are going to look a little different.
We also spend a minute sharing a very special message from a listener as well as thanking the people who have been faithfully financially supporting the show.
If you want to skip all that good stuff and just want to get right into the topic, you’ll have to jump to about the 17-minute mark. But all that other stuff is good, so you shouldn’t skip.
Email us your own stories of disillusionment. Be sure to let us know if you want to stay anonymous. You can also send us your comments, thoughts, prayer requests, show ideas, etc.
Also…email us ANY of your questions (faith, marriage, parenting, favorite road trips, how to make a podcast…anything!). We’ll soon be hosting a Q&A on our NEW YouTube channel and we want to answer your questions! So…get to know your hosts by sending us all your questions and we’ll do our best to answer them!
The world has been riddled with bad churches since the dawn of civilization. Corruption, infidelity, abuse, just plain old indifference can be seen throughout the generations, not to mention flat out heresy. So how, in a world full of so many choices, can a person find a church that, while flawed, isn’t outright dangerous? How can you recognize a healthy church where you can find both truth and grace, wrapped up in an atmosphere that appeals to you?
Join us this week as we Flashback to an early episode from season 1 where we address those very concerns.
This is a much larger topic than we had time to fully cover in just one episode, so if you have questions or need help finding a healthy church in your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tune in this week to hear us talk about how we, as Christ followers, can navigate this political environment we live in.
Jesus didn’t spend His time fighting the government systems that were in play while He walked this earth, so why do we feel so compelled to? Is that the best way to carry out the Great Commission? What if we’re going about this all wrong?
The election may be over, but no matter how you voted I think we can all agree that the hostility that is brewing on both sides of the political fence is going to continue to affect us all. It’s vital that we consider wisely how we carry ourselves through this time.
Your message is showing. Make sure Jesus is in it.
In this week’s episode, Matt and I talk about how and where we typically “find” our identities and where, as Christians, we should look instead. Even if you’re not a Christ follower, there are a few things that God says about who you are and what you’re made to do.
BUT FIRST, a little glimpse into one of the towns that I, Brandy and the teens stopped in on our road trip this summer, Wallace, Idaho.
Wallace’s population, in its peak in the 1940s, was well over 3,000. It is now estimated to be a mere 758. But what it lacks in people, it more than makes up for in charm and history. Established as a silver mining town, it continues to thrive as such.
I share some fun facts about Wallace and laugh uproariously while doing so. Seriously…I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair while recording. (We really ought to video these things!)
Left: The Stardust Motel still stands. The spaceship out front is part of a little diner where we had “The Best Huckleberry Milkshake.” The people inside this little diner were, hands-down, some of the nicest people we came across our entire trip. They were top notch with customer service. Right: The manhole cover that declares that very location in Wallace, Idaho to be the Center of the Universe. I mean…there’s a manhole cover that says it, so it must be true.
Please, go check out this cool, historic town. There is so much to uncover here and I only touched on a few little things. I look forward to exploring it more in years to come.
Wallace, Idaho…thank you! You promised to be a great place to visit and you delivered!
Quote at the start of this segment was taken from Psychology Today. “Examining Our Sense of Identity and Who We Are. Written by Michael J. Formica MS, MA, EdM. Posted Oct. 25, 2009. Below is a link to the entire article: Full article
Psychology defines identity as the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and /or expression that make a person or group. It relates to self-image, self-esteem, and individuality.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “identity crisis” as: the state of being uncertain about oneself regarding character, goals, etc, especially in adolescence.
Places we often look to for validation or in order to discover who we are:
* Social media
* Self-help instruction
* Personality quizzes and assessments
* Employment/job titles
WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT WHO WE ARE:
“For You formed me in my inward parts, You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well.”
We have a RELATIONSHIP with God: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” – 1 John 3:1
We have an INHERITANCE: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” – Ephesian 1:3
We have been TRANSFORMED: “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will…In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…” Ephesians 1:5 and 7
We are ACCEPTED: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
We are SECURE: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, no life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35, 37-39
We are SIGNIFICANT: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God…” – 1 Corinthians 2:12
We have PURPOSE: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
“Woe to the one who quarrels with His Maker – an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?'” – Isaiah 45:9
A PERSONAL NOTE: After the busyness that has been my life recently, I had a health-induced rest for a couple of days. That being said, I am still working on getting a PDF made with a bunch more verses that speak to our identity in Christ. I am also still working on getting transcripts for the most recent shows. Please forgive my delay. If you happen to know of someone who might want to volunteer to do our transcripts, please have thememail me.
“For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting
and His faithfulness to all generations.”
– Psalm 100:5
This last Sunday a remarkable thing happened. I worshiped at my home church.
Admittedly, this doesn’t sound like such a big deal. But wait…. This was the church building I grew up in, the one I helped pound nails into when I was a little kid. The very building that I watched grow from a tree covered plot of land to a log church at the base of Mt. Hood.
Still, why is that remarkable?
Twenty years ago that church, along with two other churches in the area, decided to have a marriage, so to speak. Three churches became one.
Folks, church merges happen all the time. That’s nothing new. What’s exceptionally rare is when those merges work out.
That’s what happened in this case. Matt and I had already married and moved to Utah so I didn’t get to witness this marriage first-hand, but I heard the good news from family and friends.
And this last Sunday we had a 20-year anniversary reunion to celebrate it all.
Here’s the super cool thing: in that celebration, I got to see people I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I got to see men and women, now gray and starting to show the effects of age, who helped shape and mold my life as a young believer. It was a beautiful collage of people from varied walks and backgrounds all converging in one place to raise their voices to praise the God who unites us as a family.
But there were several people who weren’t there.
There are those who, like my dad and my former pastor, have already gone to be with the Lord. There were also those missing who had only recently passed away, the wounds still raw from their sudden and early departure. There were those, too, who are coming to the end of their days, their health preventing them from making the trip to join us for such an occasion.
It was a beautiful picture of the Now and the Not Yet.
It was a reminder of the faithfulness of our God who unabashedly pursues us.
I was 7 years old when I asked Jesus to come into my heart and take me to Heaven if I died. I had no idea what I was signing up for. All I knew was that the people around me seemed different and I wanted what they had. I didn’t know it then, but it was hope and joy. They had a confidence that drew me in, wrapping me up in its warm embrace.
In the years that followed that child’s prayer, I continued to watch the older kids and adults that filled my days. I listened to their conversations about their faith and understanding of who God is; I watched as they struggled to put into practice the ideals that the Bible teaches. I saw God’s characteristics being manifested in my family, my youth leaders, my mentors and people who didn’t even know I was watching them.
And little by little, my own faith began to take shape and grow. I had my own struggles and battles to overcome, along with shining moments and clear victories. All the while, there were a handful of adults, wiser and more generous than I, who remained faithful to pray for me as I learned to spread my wings. They came along quietly but boldly, challenging my thinking and encouraging my faith.
In ways big and small, they helped me become the woman I am today. They were gentle and compassionate, full of grace and truth. Without their prayers and willingness to invest in a spiritually clumsy, selfish, and often impetuous kid, it’s impossible to say where I might be now!
As we sang together on Sunday, I closed my eyes and let the music wash over everything. The little church was packed tight and the voices filled it to the rafters with a sweet, sweet sound. And as I looked around afterward and saw the faces of the young and the old, families who were all together from the tiniest babe to the grayest of grays, it was evident that God has indeed been faithful through the generations.
I walked away that day with a sense of awe at how loved by God I am. He has welcomed us each to the table and calls us sons and daughters. He has lavished us with His love and grace. He has gifted us with people to share life with; people that can cheer us on and prod us forward. He has called us to be the same for somebody else.
We are the luckiest people in the world! We are part of the biggest, most inclusive, mixed up, eclectic family. How cool is that?
Who are you investing in? Is there someone in your sphere who needs a spiritual big brother or sister? What are you doing to show them Jesus? If there isn’t anyone like this in your life, why?
I’m just saying…somebody’s watching you. Whether you know it (or want it) or not, if you’ve publicly called yourself a follower of Christ, you are being observed. What are people seeing?
I don’t know about you, but I want to keep this cycle going. I want to sit in church someday with my own children’s children on my lap, knowing that they, too, are being taught the love and truth of a faithful God.
(P.S. To my mountain church family, I’m pretty positive that Dad, Stan, Grandma and Grandpa Wall, Jack, Jason, Ed and all the others who have gone before us were joining in the singing. There were angels in the rafters, I’m sure.)
“…be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit,
intent on one purpose.”
– Philippians 2:2
It’s never easy, is it, coming to others to ask for help?
What will they think if they know my need is this great? Will their opinion change once they know just how dark my heart and thoughts can be? Or, will they think I’m silly; wasting their time with my needs which seem so insignificant?
I’ve had these thoughts on more than one occasion. Yet, at every turn I am amazed by the response I’m met with when I take a deep breath and share my heart.
Sometimes it’s a prayer need, sometimes a thought I’ve been mulling over for days and need to talk through. Other times it’s a sin that I keep finding myself struggling with. Often it’s the critical thoughts that tend to take up residence in my head, shoving aside God’s words of truth and bring me to tears and of guilt, shame, fear and overwhelm.
Consistently though, God has met me in those places of need as I’ve turned to someone at church and bared my burden. I’m met with encouraging words, reminders of God’s promises and faithfulness, prayer and often a hug.
Likewise, I’ve been met with gratitude for my willingness to be vulnerable and broken in front of others. Because, honestly, that’s just not a thing you see all the time.
These kinds of relationships are born in and grown through fellowship in and around church.
Three years ago, our little congregation of less than 50 merged with another local small church. A majority of church merges fail. Ours has been a story of success. And in that place, I’ve gotten to know a whole new group of people; people I’d never have met otherwise.
Some are well into their grandparenting years, enjoying traveling the world. Others are just starting out, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first baby. And there’s everyone in between. We’ve got nerds, geeks, intellectuals, blue collar, white collar, scrubs, lab coats, graduation caps, Bermuda shorts and button downs with a tie. And every single one of those people has impacted me, whether they know it or not.
You see, going to church is really good. You learn a lot about God. You sing some good songs full of good words and truths. You hear things that encourage you and maybe even challenge you.
But being the church…that’s even better.
Because then you get to rub elbows with people who are just like you and nothing like you at all. You get to see the vast array of people who God calls His own. Sometimes things get a little messy, but hopefully, as Christ stays the focus, even the messy is made clean again.
Being the church you can speak into one another’s lives. You can experience that ‘iron sharpening iron’ accountability and growth that’s talked about in Proverbs 27:17. You become invested in something that is so much bigger than yourself and it reminds you just how incredibly generous our God is.
Going to church is really good. Being the church is the best.
What about you? Do you just go to church on Sunday, letting the message slough off you as you walk out to your car, while the music fades in the background? Or do you take the church with you, presenting Christ to a broken and hurting land, recognizing that left on your own, you’d be just as broken, too?