My Story // Part 5: The Start

The day after I was baptized I really wanted to find a way to tell others about my change of belief.
I sat down and created a video, which I find embarrassing now due to my lack of editing skills, but then I just wanted something to post.

What End When This Pandemic Does (10)

My mom shared it on her Facebook shortly after I uploaded it to my youtube account and it wasn’t long before it had ten likes… and hundreds of comments. 

All of our old friends and people we use to worship with were commenting that we had joined a cult, that we had been tricked into legalism, and that we were brainwashed.

I found the last comment interesting because looking at and evaluating everything, I realized I had been brainwashed into never thinking for myself for years, not the other way around.

It was overwhelming.

Then a few of the men and women from our new church started responding to those comments with verses, Greek words and definitions, it was amazing to see how logical their responses were versus the knee-jerk reactions of “This is untrue! How could you?”

I got a text from a friend, “Hey, I heard about your baptism… my parents and my siblings had a bible study together today, I don’t want to really talk about what you believe so our friendship isn’t ruined, but they warned me that you would try to convert me.” 

I didn’t really know how to respond, that wasn’t the last time a friend told me that their parents had “warned” them about me and my “cult”.

So Grace, do you believe the rest of us are going to hell?” Became a question a few people would ask me in front of everyone. 

The first time, I was taken aback, “I am not God,” I told them and the people listening in, “I do not see your soul. Have you obeyed the Bible?” 

“You know, according to what you believe now, your dad is going to hell because he hasn’t been baptized like you and your mom.”  they retorted.

“I have to get to class.” 

I noticed that a lot of my friends started keeping their distance.

“Where’s everyone else?” asked one of my friends as he walked up to me in the hallway.

“I don’t know,” I told him.

I looked up and noticed that he was staring down at me, “You seem different, have you seen my friend Grace? She’s super short with curly hair, freckles, and usually is sad and making sort of funny jokes.”  

“Nope, haven’t seen her,” I told him, and then added, “I became a Christian over Christmas break.” 

He looked confused, “Weren’t you already a Christian?” 

“I was wrong about a lot of things. We should sit down and talk sometime.” 

“I’m pretty sure you’ve been a Christian, but as long as you’re happy, I’m happy, and I’m glad you’re finally happy.” He told me, patting me on the shoulder.

I opened my mouth to say something, but he stopped me, “I’m not interested, sorry, Grace.” 

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Obviously, when I heard that my congregation was going to have an evangelism class, I jumped at the chance to join.

I not only wanted to know how to tell others about the truth, but I wanted to know how to respond to my friends when it seemed like any conversation about the Bible with them was just a minefield.

“You’re doing too much,” my therapist told me one session,

“allow me to play devil’s advocate: you right now are on a high, but are you ready for a low? Are you ready to crash?” 

That was my second to last session.

Her words rang in my ears though as we drove away after my last appointment.: “You’re doing too much. You’re on a high. You are going to crash.” 

Did I crash? 

I’m not going to lie and say that I healed automatically.

I’m not going to lie and say that I never spent another sleepless night, crying, and struggling to breathe because it felt like my chest was caving in along with the world around me.

I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. 

Going to services was hard, being around people who grew up in truth and didn’t seem to understand that I hadn’t, was hard.

“Who doesn’t know that?” people would scoff in Bible class, and I would sit there quietly because it was the first time I had ever heard anything like it before in my life.

“I wish I was like you and hadn’t grown up in the church,” someone told me once. 

“No, you don’t,” I told him.

Sometimes I felt like I would never catch up, sometimes I still feel that way and forget being a faithful Christian is a marathon and not a sprint. 

There were so many times I cried to my mom because I felt so alone like no one understood how confusing it was, and how hard it was to lose everything I once held onto.

I’m so behind, it’s evident that I’m so behind. I feel too jaded to be among some of these people. I don’t feel worthy to be here. Those were all thoughts that went through my head when I walked into our church building. I don’t think people understood why I cried through a lot of the hymns, I was so thankful but tired and discouraged at the same time.

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I started using the evangelism class I was taking. 

My first study was with my dad, throughout studying with him, I couldn’t read him at all. He said very little. I couldn’t get him to talk about religion, when I did, he would refer to it as “what your mom and you believe” and leave it at that.

I’ve always been close to my dad, he was the one I went to with all my problems, my rock, my foundation, and not being connected to him in the most important way, and knowing that every time he left for work could be my last to ever see him in all of eternity, was so hard.

I would cry and beg God for him to listen during church after every study. I would beg for God to give him time.

One day, I was riding with him and we had been riding in silence as usual, when he broke it. “If it’s true, then what about Billy Graham? What about all the people who I know are way smarter than me and know their Bible better? How can they be wrong when they are so much smarter than I could ever be?” 

“It’s the Bible versus the doctrine of men, Dad.” 

He didn’t say anything again for the rest of the drive.

“I don’t think he’s even listening or reading his Bible,” I told a friend in tears one night after worship.

Months passed.

One Wednesday night, I heard the sound of water filling the baptistry after services, “Who is getting baptized?” I asked, but no one knew.

“Grace,” an elder walked up to me and hugged me, I looked at him, confused, “your dad is about to be baptized.”

I stared at him, what?

I felt my whole body go numb. It didn’t feel real as everyone found a place to sit back down in the pews, I looked across the room and made eye contact with my mom, she was in shock as well.

I felt disbelief and joy as I watched my dad get baptized for the remission of his sins that night.

“I was listening to the sermons and to you and your mom,” my dad told me afterward, “I’m sorry for being so stubborn.” 

It was surreal.

Our family was fully a Christian family, finally.

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Even Still, God is Good

The women’s GroupMe for my congregation currently is a constantly updated prayer list.
It seems like every day, more and more messages come in about how we need to also pray for this family because their grandparent is sick, or how we need to pray for another family who are currently grieving a death.

It’s overwhelming scrolling through sometimes.

It’s easy to forget God’s goodness and love for us when we read about the latest death from this virus, watch another loved one wither away to cancer, or watch the latest shooting being replayed on the news, it’s so easy to feel hopeless.

Even Still, God is Good

It’s so easy to look into the future and see only darkness, and yet, God is still good. 

Last Sunday’s sermon’s topic was on why evil exists. The seven points that the preacher presented were:

  • Freewill (1 Peter 4:15)
  • The choices of others (Romans 14:7)
  • Natural law (Acts 20:9)
  • Satan (Job 10:16)
  • For doing right (1 Peter 2:20)
  • To make us better (Job 5:18)
  • Time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

 

Regardless of the evil that is in this world as the result of Adam and Eve’s sin, God has always been good and He always will be.

When I was younger someone once said that it was fitting that my name was “Grace” because I would show people God’s grace.

It was a mushy thing to say, and at the time, I pictured myself getting into a terrible accident and barely surviving as a sign of “grace” and I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

But isn’t that what all our lives show? 
God’s goodness is evident in my life, from every breath I breathe to every hymn I sing for Him.

Sometimes I look up during worship and the fact that I wouldn’t be a Christian and wouldn’t know all of the people that I love the most if the lady that studied with my mom never reached out or if we had been in a different place in life and had been closed to the Bible, just hits me full force.

It’s a wow moment, and out of everyone in my past who isn’t here, I am. It almost feels like I don’t deserve to be there.

That feeling is amplified when I think of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

God could have left us with this mess we’ve made, alone to die in this world of sin, separated from Him, doomed to hell (Romans 5:12).

But He didn’t.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”-2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus died one of the worst deaths imaginable.

Death on the cross was for the highest crimes in Rome, one would be nailed to a beam and left to hang. Because your body weight would pull you down and would pull on your diaphragm, you would end up having to push up with your nailed feet to exhale, this painful process obviously would repeat.

Eventually, people would typically die from asphyxiation, but that could take up to five to twenty hours of complete and utter agony.

Jesus died in one of the most painful ways for us. 

Yet, people still will tell you that God isn’t good.

Listen, no matter what happens to me on earth, God is still good.

Break every bone in my body, He is still good.

Take the breath from all of my loved ones, He is still good.

No matter what happens to you on earth, God is still good. 

“Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”-Psalm 106:1

 

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”-Psalm 23:6

No matter what, God is still good. 

The fact that you and I are still here and have a chance to obey Him and to go to heaven, is yet another sign of how good He is.

Throughout the evil and chaos of this world, we can find comfort in God and in who He is and that His plan is far greater than anything we could ever fully wrap our minds around.

I love what Joseph said to his brothers, and I think that one day Christians will be able to say this to the world:

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”-Genesis 50:20

People are impacted by evil, but the impact of God’s word is far more powerful. 

The goodness of God is far more powerful. 

And I pray that we don’t forget that, even when life gets tough.

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What are your thoughts about the goodness of God?
How do you see it in your life?

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Are We Still Under The Law of Moses?

It’s been a while since I wrote about a misconception about the Bible, and I’m afraid this post might be controversial for some, but it is important and if I get this subject out of the way, it allows me to write future posts without having to explain the law as well.

Are we still under the law of Moses?

Or, do we still follow the ten commandments?

A lot of people would say yes, that we are still under the ten commandments.

This can be so confusing to many! Growing up, I was taught that we were under the ten commandments, I always wondered why we, as baptists at the time, followed some of the rules of the old testament but not all of them.

At sixteen, I realized that that was just one of the many (if not all) the things that I was incorrect about, so let’s get into why we are no longer under the law of Moses.

Are We Still Under The Law of Moses?

First off, I am not invalidating the Old Testament, it is valuable for learning. 

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”-Romans 15:4

However, it is in the past.

There were three ages/dispensations:

  • The Patriarchal age (think Abraham)
  • The Mosiac age (the law of Moses can be found in Exodus 20)
  • The Christian age

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The law of Moses had a purpose

 

  • It was a tutor.

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”-Galatians 3:24

  • It showed the righteousness of God.

 “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” -Romans 7:12

  • It showed sin.

 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”-Romans 3:20

  • It led man to Christ.

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”-Galatians 3:24-25

However, the law of Moses also had weaknesses…

 

  • It couldn’t take away sin. 

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”-Hebrews 10:1-4

  • It was temporary.

 “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”-Galatians 3:19

 

  • It was exclusive to only one nation (the Israelites). 

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”-Ephesians 2:12-14

This means, if we are still under the Law of Moses, you and I (unless you are a jew) aren’t under it, and thus have no hope of salvation, and what a terrible thing that would be!

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Thankfully, we have the New Law.

The Old Law (the Mosiac law) was flawed, but the New Law is perfect (James 1:25, Hebrews 7:22).

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”-Romans 8:1-2

We have been freed from the Old Law, it was blotted out (Colossians 2:14-17).

When Jesus died, so did the Old Law. It was a contract and then it was fulfilled, finished, done (Hebrews 8:13). The Old Law has fulfilled its purpose, to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-15).

Romans 7:1-6 reads:

“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

We have the New Law now, the New Testament. 

Nine of the ten commandments were repeated in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 8:4-6,  Galatians 5:18-21, Ephesians 6:1-3, Romans 13:8-10,  Revelation 21:7-8,  Ephesians 5:1-7).

Instead of the Sabbath, we meet on Sunday, the first day of the week like the very first churches of Christ did (Acts 20:7).

To say or think that we are still under the ten commandments would demand you in order to be consistent with your beliefs, to do everything else required at the time (animal sacrifices, restricting on kinds of animals that can be eaten, not wearing fixed fabrics, etc).  

It would also demand you to disregard the sacrifice Jesus made for all if you believe that the Law of Moses was enough.

let's chat

Whew! That was a longer post, thank you for sticking with me.

What are your thoughts?

 

I know I said that with Coffee Dates I would have some lighter content, and I will! It’s coming up, but this has been in the drafts for a while and I want my blog to be a good mix of soft and more deep topics. 🙂

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