Community is Necessary for Spiritual Growth

It has been a while since I have attended church on a regular basis. I grew up in the church and have gone to church almost every Sunday and even on Wednesday nights when I was a teenager. Over this past year, my church attendance has dwindled to almost never going.

I won’t sit here and tell you that you have to go, every Sunday, to church or you will go to hell. That is just incorrect and stupid. The ONLY way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Having a relationship with Him and accepting Him as your Lord and Savoir. You can do that without going to church.

I will tell you that I believe community is an important part of your spiritual growth. We learn from others and see a different perspective on things. So for me, a year of on and off connection was a bad thing for my spiritual growth. I was going to a church that I thought would be our church family until the day I died. I was growing through the sermons, making friends who had kids the same age as my daughter, my husband began to learn how to be a preacher, and we were learning from our church community.

Well, things happened and the church started falling apart. It was then my husband and I realized that it was time to move on. There were hurtful words from the members who stayed and our hearts left heavy and broken. So we went to a church where my in-laws were attending. this time, there wasn’t any growth. I wasn’t growing spiritually, there weren’t any children my daughter’s age she could play with and learn from but my husband kept preaching and learning what it meant to become a preacher. I stayed in it for my husband but deep inside I felt stagnant. I was stuck in a place where I wasn’t growing and it was taking a toll on my spiritual relationship with the Lord.

Life happened and the church decided not to stand by our side but ridicule us instead; telling us we were wrong for everything that had happened in our life (things that had nothing to do with the church) and tore the preaching lessons away from my husband. Once again, we were broken and hurt by a church we trusted but let me make one thing clear before I move on. No church is perfect. Because the church is made up of a body of believers, it is also filled with individuals who all mess up; just like you and me. So in no way do I hate those individuals who hurt us. Yes, they were leaders of the church and was what they did right? No. they way they treated us was not the way anyone should be treated. However, I am, in no way, saying that church is bad, leaders of a church don’t also make mistakes, and no one will ever get hurt in a church. It happens.

So at this point, my husband and I were broken from two churches and didn’t know where to go. We still craved that community and spiritual growth that we both desperately needed. So once again, we went looking for a church and found one. It was a lot bigger for our taste but we decided to give it a shot. We attended there for about five months and during that time, we went through one of the hardest times of our marriage thus far. We went to the pastor and asked for counseling. We were set up for counseling but didn’t feel like anyone really cared.

The counseling fell through and we felt like no one really cared about helping us or encouraging us. We stopped attending church and even stopped reading our bibles. Our spiritual life grew dry and I felt like I was shriveling up. I was spiritually wasting away to nothing and I was growing further and further away from God.

My husband’s schedule eventually changed and he could not longer look for a church with me. He now works every Sunday morning. However, I didn’t want it to end there. I yearned for the community I once knew and the growth I once had in my life. I turned to a church I grew up in here in Colorado and decided to start attending.

You might think, well why did you leave that church in the first place? I left because I went to college four hours away from this church. After I graduated from college, I moved to another small mountain town where I met my husband. When we moved back to the Denver area, we wanted to start fresh together in a church where no one knew us and that is when we found the first church I discussed in this article.

When I entered the doors of my now current church, I felt like I was home and had never left. Everyone was very welcoming and warm and very inviting to my family. I left that day feeling complete again. Now, every Sunday, I want to go back and join the community in events, worship and even join a bible study.

My point throughout all this is that community is an important part of our spiritual growth. It might take us a little while to find the right community or the right church to fit in to but when you do find it, stick with it. I learn so much from the people of Good News Community Church every single week. The lessons we all have learned can be passed on to each other and we can be there for each other when hard times come around. That is a valuable thing to have in your life.

So if you think community is necessary for your spiritual growth and you feel like you are shriveling up and drying out, try to find that community. I promise, when you find the right church for you and you stick with it, you will grow in ways you never thought possible.

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Who Are You Trying To Please?

If you are like me, you grew up feeling like you had to make people proud and please them. Whether it was pleasing family, friends or work. Growing up, I always thought I had to be just like my brother. I thought I had to get all A’s, get a full ride scholarship for college, be financially stable in every aspect of life, and have a solid head on my shoulders.

I felt like I had to please my family by being just like him. the reality was, I was, and am, nothing like him. I grew up making B’s in high school and struggled with certain subjects but I also excelled in English and Art. I had to get a student loan to pay for all of college and struggled with life (including finances) but life threw me some curve balls. It isn’t that I am not smart or can’t seem to keep things organized in my life. It boils down to one thing, life happens. It is because I know how to manage my finances that I have made it this far.

This past Sunday, my pastor talked about who we should be living for. People pleasing is something I have struggled with and still struggle with in my life.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to get approval from family but when we are seeking approval solely from them and not from God, it becomes an issue.

How do I do that? It is easy to say, I will do this for God and still do it for the approval of others. As we go through our day, everything should be for God. Our hard work we put in to our jobs, the report we write for the board of directors, or the things at home, should all be done for God.

As you go about each task, do it for the Lord. If you feel, at any moment, that you are trying to please someone else, stop, take a breath and redirect your goal to God. Remind yourself that you are doing this for the Lord and not to please others.

Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ”. Our actions and tasks should reflect us being servants of Christ and doing that means working to lease God and not others.

Loving Others; Even the Murderers

Here in Colorado, we recently had a man who killed his wife, two daughters and unborn son. After he admitted to killing them, a flood of Facebook posts came out saying that he should “burn in hell” or “I hope he rots in hell”. Post after post spewed with hateful things about this man. We all have sinned and deserve to spend eternity in hell. However, God sent His son to die for us on the cross giving us that gift of grace. That includes the murderers, cheaters, liars, even me.

I find this statement, that he deserves hell, a very harsh and hateful statement. If you think of hell what do you think of? In the bible it mentions a hot horrible place with gnashing of teeth. A place of pain and suffering. I googled the word “gnashing” and discovered that it meant, “a grinding of teeth, typically a sign of anger”. If hell is the most horrible place anyone could go, would you want someone to go there that you loved? No, you want your loved ones to go to heaven where they can spend eternity with God and eternity without pain. So, if someone wants another person to go to hell, doesn’t that mean they hate them? Isn’t hate the only thing that can drive us to wish a place like hell onto someone else?

With that in mind, Read 1 John 3:15. God says, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him”. NIV So, if we hate someone so much that we wish they would go to hell, doesn’t that mean that we are just as guilty as the murderers in this world? If hatred is how we feel, then we also deserve eternity in hell because hating another person is just like murder.

Don’t get me wrong, what that man did to his wife and children is very wrong and it makes me sad. In fact, it breaks my heart to think that they had to die at the hands of the person they loved. However, instead of hating the man, why don’t we pray for him. Pray that he can find God and ask Him for forgiveness for the horrible things he has done. Pray, that through the rest of his time on this earth, he realizes what he did was wrong.

Also, pray for his family as well. He has a mother and a father; maybe even siblings. What would you do if one of your siblings killed someone? You would feel a sense of loss as well. I know if one of my brothers killed their wife and children, I would be devastated. Not just because I had lost family, but because I cannot see them doing something that horrible. Everyone does things in their life that are wrong but I highly doubt anyone can see their family member killing someone.

So, as you watch the news and see the horrible things people do to each other, pray. Not only for the families who have lost a loved one, but pray for the one who was so lost and struggling so bad, that they could not see another way out of their situation. Pray that God will change their heart and they will ask for forgiveness before it is too late.

Little Joys

Over the weekend I watched my daughter as she danced and sang in the living room. Her arms rose and fell more graceful than I could ever do. Her feet hit the floor with every beat and her body swayed back and forth. Granted, the words she sang were hard to understand and most of the time, you couldn’t understand or follow what she was signing about, but watching her brought me such joy. She doesn’t have a care in the world and it shows in her joyous attitude. No matter what is going on in life, I can always rely on my daughter to bring me happiness.

Shouldn’t that be true for all of us? Let’s admit it, life really sucks sometimes. It is hard, full of painful memories or situations, exhausting both physically and mentally, and sometimes, life just doesn’t seem bearable. However, it is in those moments that we should look at the little joys in life that bring us happiness or remember the joyous memories that God has given us. Those are the moments that make life worth living.

If you don’t have kids, maybe it is that book you read in your favorite spot or the moment at the end of the day when you can come home and spend time with your significant other. If you don’t have kids or a significant other, maybe it is the time spent with your friends or family. Those special moments are the ones we should cherish. Those are our little joys.

Some of you might say that life is a dark tribulation for you and it is hard to find any joy in life. I’ve been there; I have. There were moments that all I could focus on were the hard parts of life and there didn’t seem to be any joy in what I was going through. However, the only thing that ever got me through those though times were the little joys in life. They might not grow like wild flowers in your life but those moments still count. Hold onto those moments and cherish them.

Maybe, in this time of darkness for some of you, you should look for your joy in the Lord. Spend time with the Lord when things get rough. Pray and read through His word to find that peace and hope that you might so desperately need. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”. NIV God is our strength in the hard times and spending time with God in the hardest times of our lives is the one thing that brings us the most joy.

If you have never read the Bible or are asking, “How can reading God’s word bring me joy?” Well, think about it, reading God’s word brings us closer to Him. Who wouldn’t want to be closer to the One who brought us to life and carries us through the hard times? That should be our main source of joy.

So go out this week and think about the little joys that God gives you. When life takes a turn towards a trial, hold on tight to those little joys and spend time with God. They will get you through some tough times.

What are your little joys?

About Me

Hey everyone!

First off, I want to thank you for coming to my blog. My name is April Audett and I am the owner and writer for Hope Anchored. I am a mom of one beautiful little girl, Brianna, and I am married to a true man of God who challenges me and makes me a stronger person.

I come from a background that sort of looks like Job’s life. If you don’t know who Job is, he is a man from the Bible who faced many challenges and some hard times; yet, he never faltered in his faith and hope. The challenges I have faced, and are still facing in life, have grown me into the strong woman I am today. Throughout my blog, I will be writing about those challenges.

I want this place to be a place of encouragement and a place to learn. As a mom, a wife and a disciple of Christ, my challenges and life lessons should serve as an encouragement in your life. It should stand to show you that, no matter what you face in life, you can make it to the end as a stronger, more resilient individual.

I encourage you to comment on the blog posts every week and tell me what your thoughts are. If you have prayer requests, you can post them on each post or email me. We are in this life together.

So, why “Hope Anchored”? Well, I was listening to a sermon by Pastor Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevations Church, that talked about how hope is our anchor for our faith. Most people say that their “hope floats through the rough times” but, in fact, as we go through the trials of life, hope is the one thing that keeps our faith solid. We hope for a better future and a way out of the dark times and that hope gives us the sturdy anchor for our faith.

I don’t want you to think that I am perfect. I am far from. However, through my mistakes and my trials I grow. This blog will serve as my testimony to my faith that is anchored in hope.

I can’t wait to go on this journey with you all.

 

Love, always,

April