When I grew up, I was exposed to a few different churches. We attended Baptist, Nazarene, and Church of God. They were all so different and yet the same in many ways. Since being married to my husband, I have been exposed to Lutheran, Methodist, Church of Crist, and Unitarian.
I currently attend the Church of God and my husband attends the Unitarian Universalist. I classify myself as Christian and he classifies himself as atheist. Amazingly, we coexist peacefully with less problems than many couples of the same faith. Barring a couple of really big bumps in the road during our marriage, we have a wonderful relationship.
It has been brought to my attention that many people that have never been exposed to a pentacostal church...or only visited a time or two....have very dim views of us. Of course, there are always the eccentric crazies that make the news that give any particular group a dim light. However, I have been very shocked to find out that the views that many people hold of "fundies" (as they so fondly call us) are very different than what we really are. They see us as insensitive and very dimwitted. Though I have to admit that many pentacostals see them as evil and being influenced by the devil.
Being in the situation that I am in, I have to think and rethink things a lot. I constantly find myself wondering what it is all about. I find that there are great people and really nutty people in all of the places I have been. I came to a conclusion a long time ago that there is not just one religion that has it all figured out or that one religion will make it to heaven. But what about the people that don't believe in God or believe that He has left us to our own devices to figure things out on our own? What if they are good people?
I am going to put down what I think based on my experiences. This includes my experiences as a hospice nurse, a holy rolling Bible bang pew jumper (as my husband refers to me), and as someone being married to an atheist. I have been exposed to many different types of people and situations.
My basic conclusion is that you repsect people. You have to love and respect people for who they are and what they believe. Sure, witness to them if you feel led to (by the Holy Spirit as they say in my church), but don't ever try to force your beliefs on anyone. I believe that you KNOW THAT YOU KNOW when you need to and be ready for that time...but the best witness is your life before others.
Many people have rough lives....many have had much worse lives than me. However, I don't think that I could have survived all the trauma in my life without God and the thought of knowing that He is always there for me... unconditionally. Even through the last bump in my road (which has broken my heart and hit me hard) the Lord is my comfort and my strength. I have a peace and am going on. I will continue to live my life to try to help others, love people, love life, and count on the Lord. I may have taken a few steps back, but it has made me stronger and I will march one hundred steps forward using it and resting in the Lord.
I have been with many people when they die...and I am assured that there is a difference. I have been with sinners and saints. I have been with people that have lived like the devil their entire lives, fighting to live because they are afraid to die and suffering needlessly, only to make things right before they die and die with such peace. I have seen people that were proclaimed atheists their entire lives find the Lord and laugh and cry at the same time when they have an encounter with the Lord and babble endlessly about how easy it was and how wonderful and awesome God is.
I have seen them go out speaking in tongues, I have seen them go out smiling, scared, peaceful, fighting.....you name it. I will leave my comments at that... but I will tell you that based on all that I have seen, and all that I have experienced, that I am where I need to be as far as churches. Do I agree with every little detail? No. Do I disagree with bits and peices of the teachings? Yes. I have so many reasons to believe that it is the right place for me that I could never explain to anyone that doesn't already know it for themselves.
Is the Church of God a cult? No. We believe like most Christian denominations with one added factor. Does that make us a cult? No. We are so misnderstood. Do we mean well? Of course we do. We may not see things the way others do, and it may be difficult for others to understand our line of thinking, but we have good intentions though our methods may seem bizarre.
Why did I post all of this? Don't know really...just on my mind after someone saying that the Church of God is a cult and pointing out that many people have very unreal ideas of who we are. I'm not sure that I can even address those issues if I tried. I am not eloquent or efficient at expressing what I am trying to say.
I have a patient that has been on service for awhile now. He is 92? years old and lost track of his children. A family had come in to his life and endeared him and he made them his POA. The family alienated his family, took him for everything he had, dumped in a nursing home, and revoked their POA. By this time, his children had given up on trying to see him due to the fact that they thought that he had disowned them for his new family. He didn't know that his family had tried to keep in touch with him only to be turned away by that family.
His request from day one was that we find his sons. We had searched for them through the American Red Cross, local directories, called information for all local cities, etc. We couldn't find them. He was about to give up hope and was not doing very well, then one day....our social worker found his son's phone numbers through some funeral arrangements when she was trying to make sure that he had everything that he needed done, taken care of.
We called one son and he didn't want to have anything to do with him. We were at a standstill and the patient started doing poorly again. I decided to try again. I wrote letters for him as he dictated then called the son for addresses. He was clearly not thrilled, but gave me addresses for both sons and included my phone numbers. One day while I was out for surgery, I got a phone call from the other son. He was so excited to hear from his father and know where he was and that he was still alive.
Once we began to talk about what landed him where he was and their seperation, he was so tearful. He was so upset that his father was taken like he was but so glad that he had a chance at a relationship before he passes. He and his daughters started sending cards and pictures. He began to perk up and do better. Then his family announced a visit. They will be visiting him soon and all are so excited to be reunited. They are seperated by many miles, but will see each other again.
I am so excited and will be present for the reunion. I can hardly wait. It will be one of my best Christmas presents.
If you could see what see
from Heaven....my new home,
you'd never ever ask me back
to face what I have known.
I see a lot of people
who are fighting over space
on land that God has loaned to us,
as a token of His grace.
They hurt the little children who
were sent to bless their life,
and a big, strong, handsome husband
turns anger on his wife.
I see people stealing hope and peace
from helpless passers-by,
while hatred rages all around,
cold hearts not not knowing why.
There's trouble and confusion;
weak and weary tossed around
by blows of mental anguish,
where no reason can be found.
Oh, but it's not all degraded sin
or a mindless lack of shame,
Many of the folks I see,
still honor God's Sweet Name.
They visit prisoners bound by chains
of sickness and disease,
and seek to live a holy life
through strength found on their knees.
All around this world I see
kind, willing hands of caring
reaching out in selfless love
no taking for themselves...just sharing.
Here, angels rejoice as the journey ends,
and heaven envelops your earthly loss
A battle was fought, a victory won,
reflecting the Conqueror of the Cross.
He's here you know, the Holy One
who left this marvelous place
to bring the gifts of hope and joy,
borne on a cross.....God's Grace.
I'm so happy in His presence
so very thrilled with all I see.
Please, make this season a time of joy
and just be glad for me.
By a very special friend of mine, Eva Knab, Chaplain/RN