I’m a church kid. Before my existence, I was a church kid. Before my parent’s existence, I was destined to be church kid. When my great grandparents met Jesus, I had no chance…I was going to be a church kid. There’s just no way around it, so we might as well be honest. I’m a church kid. I know it and I’m cool with it. I wasn’t always ok with it, there were a few times in life it seemed much cooler to be someone else. Maybe someone more experienced, or someone who had some insanely spiritual experience where angels pick them up out of drug deals and alley ways and set up them up in big arena’s preaching messages of how they were dead and are now alive while everyone is thoroughly amused at that one time they…… However, as much as you’d like to be someone else that is just too bad because you, my dear, are still you. So, here I am, a church kid.
What’s the big deal with being a church kid all my life? At almost 27 years old absolutely nothing. But for many years, mainly my teenage ones, I was presented a lie that I struggled deeply with. A lie that discouraged my own life’s reality that OTHER people had prayed and sacrificed for me to live. This is important because the lie of the enemy is not that creative. I believe if I struggled with it other church kids did and do. Actually, I know I’m not alone. My last decade of ministry proved the lie is real and fires a hunger that will cripple the very people with unquantifiable potential.
The lie targeted me to develop a hunger for things I was told I should stay away from WHILE at the very same time I was seeing church stages filled with stories that highlighted those very things. Dangerous. Knowing you should refrain from actions is great, refraining from them is also great, only hearing people talk about all the fun they had while engaging in those things and then talking about how Jesus rescued them from their sinful life is both weird and confusing to us church kids. So, what your saying is Jesus rescued you from crazy parties and adventures and set you up to have my life and now you get to travel and speak and I’m still sitting here, a church kid, in a pew. I’m sorry, I don’t get it. Why am I not the well known speaker? Why is the kid over there who 12 months ago was selling pot to half my city more trusted than me? Seriously, that makes no sense.
Do you see the lie?
My story is just not powerful enough to be on a stage. LIE.
It’s not full of the same kind of brokenness, pain and desperation that is relatable. LIE
It’s not really interesting. LIE.
It’s all lies. I dare you to ask that person if they could do it all over again and avoid the pain they had to walk through AND the pain others had to walk through because of their choices and see what they say? To say, “No I learned from what I walked through I wouldn’t change a thing” is just prideful and a bit ridiculous because given the chance to be a car wreck again, nobody is going to subject themselves and their family through that same pain. Heck, I’d do plenty of things over again if I could. Church kid or not, I would make different choices if I had known how it would have changed the outcomes. But we can’t and that’s the where the power of grace, the cross, salvation and redemption are exemplified.
For every lie there is a TRUTH to replace it and prove it wrong. So what’s the church kid truth?
The truth is no matter the details- we all share the exact same testimony. Our sin separated us from Jesus and our sentence was death. He footed the expense of my sin, so that I could have life. That is our testimony. It’s his gift of love, his perfect sacrifice, and a cross that exemplifies the old law was flawed and the new law was perfected through his death, so I can now walk in a freedom that is supernatural and can experience life on both sides of heaven.
I fully intend to turn this post into a book. It’s in the works, so this is really your sneak peak. But to consolidate things in a more concise and shorter version I have two main points:
1) Being a church kid isn’t a right and you still have to make your own choice that you are not serving a religion, but cultivating a relationship. You will still have your own God moment. You need to recognize it is not the good in you that positions you for his calling, it is the awareness that he has saved you and his love is both accessible to you AND all those around you. You were not born righteous, it is the blood shed upon the cross that covers us with the righteousness of Jesus so we can encounter God’s presence freely. Basically, it’s not about you and an abundance of Bible knowledge is not a qualifier. It’s not about being good. Your story is about what HE has done for you. NOT what you have done for him. Freedom is based on his gift, not our actions. However, having Bible knowledge is a GREAT thing. Coupling knowledge with your experience is very powerful
2) There is an unmeasurable impact that comes from being faithful. It is not sin adventures that build testimonies, it is God adventures. It is not the sin in us that draws people to Jesus, it is JESUS in us that draws people to Him. Church kids have the opportunity to taste and see at young ages the power of Jesus. It wasn’t old people who Jesus picked to be his disciples. It was teenagers. Boom
If you’re a church kid and you’re doubting the power of your story because it’s shall we say, lacking in sin adventures, here’s what I learned while other’s were walking out of the painful ramifications of their choices. It’s not all inclusive, but I hope it opens your eyes to see that you are positioned to both TASTE AND SEE in the deepest and most powerful of ways a God who is just as passionate about you as he is the kid whose life looks as though his testimony is a 10 and yours is a 2. While your busy sulking in your lack of adventure and FOMO (fear of missing out) this is what I learned.
Because I was a church kid…
It’s meant I’ve been both protected and prepared for real life in ways that don’t depend on this earthly world to provide me answers and help in my day to day existence. You cannot google or webmd God’s supernatural power into your life. If you are planted somewhere that cultivates your relationship with God at a young age you can see his power move and heal. When you see the results of his power, you don’t WANT empty solutions.
It means I’ve both tasted and seen that the Lord is real and good cause I have almost 27 years of seeing God move in my immediate family and church family. You can’t tell me he isn’t real and you can’t tell me he isn’t faithful. I’ve literally watched his faithfulness for over 2 decades. I might be 26 and 358 days, but my walk with the Lord has depth and has been tested time and time again.
It means for over two decades, I’ve seen what brokenness and sin do to people not in a moment but for weeks, months, years and generations. Sin is incredibly expensive. If you have only seen the ramifications of sin in your own life just stick around church world for a bit longer. You’ll quickly gain perspective on how our sin can impact those around us and the cost of our sin is taken to a whole new level. Why? Because our choices matter. When you realize your choices matter for people outside of Y-O-U, the accountability in your life increases.
It means I’ve seen people come, go, come back, go again, and finally stay until they have a God moment so tangible and undeniable that no desire can match the security they have now tasted and seen. Their revolving door of christianity was a reflection of their lack of knowledge in who God is not his faithfulness. It’s more times than not when they see his love for them in unconditional downpours that they are quickly uprooted and set back up with an unshakable faith. It wasn’t their sin that uprooted them, it was their experience of his love for them that changed everything.
It means I’ve also watched the stage evolve, church ministry change, priorities shift, yet a message remain exactly the same. No cultural preference or politically correct statements can change, alter, water-down, hinder or limit God’s presence and power to touch the heart of the people God is pursuing. It’s not often the sinners who complain in church services saying the service/message is watered-down or lacking God’s presence. It’s the church person. Ask a new person if God was there or if they felt a tug on their heart. Chances are they are going to say yes. Why? Because the promise in the Bible is as we draw near to God he draws near to us. I do not ever remember reading clauses in the bible, “As you draw near to God he will only respond if the service is chaotic, 18 hours long and so dramatic. I only like those services.” Um, no. God responds when we acknowledge him in church, in our car, in our bedroom, in our office, any-freaking-where. Stop being a self-service christian. This is not McDonalds and why would you want that to be the organizational structure for your relationship with God anyways. I”m pretty sure indulging in Mcdonald’s would kill you anyways. Why? Because although you consume substance it lacks nutrients. Expect God’s presence in all services and messages because HE is the there NOT because of who is on the stage, what lights they have or don’t, or how everyone makes you feel. It is Jesus who will provide you with the things that will sustain your life & not just satisfy your selfish hunger to feel better.
It means at some point I learned my relationship with God is not a reflection of the church or pastors I am attached to, it is a reflection of the cross and the sacrifice he made so I could have both eternal life and earthly freedom. I was blessed to grow up in an environment that told me he was good and showed me he was too, but it was my own experience with him that rooted me with unshakeable faith. My parents and grandparents relationship does not sustain my walk with the Lord, but it certainly positioned me to experience him in ways some adults haven’t yet. For that, I’m eternally grateful because my heart has been satisfied by things that are not defined my our earthly pleasures. His love wasn’t birthed in this world and it cannot be contained to it.
It meant I have had a chance to discover I have a place, a part, a role, a dream, and a call that isn’t tied to a career or a life situation. When you know the greatest satisfaction in life comes from him and your relationship with him then those things in your life are not the SOURCE of satisfaction they are simply vehicles to further the dream he has for you and ways he positions you to love and impact those around you.
It meant I would still be tested, but in less obvious, more subtle but certainly no less dangerous ways. Church kid life isn’t a promise of a strong foundation. Muscles develop under pressure not just because they exist. Your faith will be tested. Your purity will be pursued. You mind will run wild. Your heart will deceive you. Your weaknesses will cripple you in moments and your strength will try to take you out in others. You will be tested. Character and Purity are not reflections of those raised in bubbles, but those who have learned how to stand without compromise.
It meant I had to let go of the pursuit of perfection. I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. That’s ok. His strength is perfected in my weakness NOT in my perfection. Holy flipping hallelujah for that one! What a weight to be lifted! I can mess up, I do mess up, that’s ok. I just know his grace is available to pick me up and move me on.
There is a real enemy. He is pursuing my heart and family. His goal is to sow death, illness, discord and disfunction all around me for all my days. He doesn’t like me. He doesn’t love. He wants nothing more than to mess with me in ways that paint the picture that a walk with God leaves you empty, shallow, without answers, confused, frazzled, hopeless and a mess. He may not pursue my heart to make me leave the church world, but if he can make me unhealthy then he’s done even better. Why? Because who the freak wants to be a broken, unhealthy, shallow person who says they are a Christian. No thanks. Our victories are not in shining moments, it’s the moments when you’re in the midst of the storm and you’re still fighting, still standing and still hopeful that makes you stand out. It’s when you walk INSIDE the fire and everyone looking in from outside sees Angels taking the walk with you, they cannot help but say – HE IS REAL.
And my last point for this post, I learned that God is not partial. He loves all people. The people I think are annoying as crap. The people I think are weird or even a waste of my time. The people who have more problems than I have money in my monthly coffee budget. The people who I think are too prideful for his forgiveness. The people who are hidden. All people on all corners of the earth. The ones filled with brokenness and the one’s filled with hate. He loves them all. My life hasn’t positioned me to be an expert judge, but an expert messenger of his love. He isn’t partial therefore I cannot be either. Dangit.
Since you didn’t sign up to read the book just this post, I’m stopping here. ha! Lucky you. I didn’t even get a chance to detail all the adventures he’s sent me on, the relationships that enrich my life in depths and ways that I cannot properly explain that he’s joined me to, the god moments that have carried me from one season to the next, the way he has provided for every single desire and concern in my heart, the way that being faithful to his dream has unveiled new dreams and fulfilled my own, the never ending gift it is to see him move in other peoples lives each time he uses me to reach out and love on someone, and how having direct access to the creator of all things and God above all other gods has cancelled out the very real insecurities that have tried to take root in my heart. There is so much left to say, but Lord bless you if you made it to the end.
I’m almost 3 decades in on this deal and I’ve got so many more ahead of me, but if I focus on the “lack” I”ll rob those around me of the greatest story to ever be told. Because it’s not me in the story that will change their life, it’s HIS role that will set them free.
So on a scale from 1 to 10, how are you going to rate your story?