Growing as a Christian: A Poem

God,
You call people into relationship with you.

On May 22nd, 2016, I was called into relationship with you in the waters of baptism, where
Water was poured on my head three times,
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I’ve been on a whirlwind of a faith journey,
Where I’ve been a girl seeking to convert to Judaism,
Then investigated the LDS Church,
Then quickly baptized Lutheran,
Then baptized Fundamentalist Baptist.

Then explored the United Methodist church multiple times,
Then committed myself to the Disciples of Christ church
Even before I set foot in a DoC church.

I’ve been a potential Jew, a potential Latter-day Saint,
Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Unitarian, Catholic-Unitarian,
Disciple of Christ, and now Presbyterian, possibly!

Lord, I’m done moving from church to church. I’m done.
I just want to stick somewhere.

With my local DoC church’s affiliation unsure with Disciples of Christ,
I’m looking at other options, to attend to in addition with my local First Christian
(Which MIGHT become non-denominational).

Everything is so unknown right now, only known by you.
You have ordained this path for me,
But I have not always enjoyed the journey.

I wish the train would stop here, at First Christian/First Presbyterian,
Where I can set deep roots, raise a family,
And whatnot.
Yet, both Jacob and I know that we want to move
To Hasting, Nebraska, someday,
So we will be uprooted once again.

You’ve got some crazy plan for us, Lord.

Amen.

Life Update: Fighting God’s Will

Hi everyone,
These past couple of weeks have been a serious struggle. I know I’m fighting God’s will for my life, and my wrestle with Him is just causing me pain!

My Church, First Christian Church, is voting this Sunday on two things:
1. Should we leave our denomination?
2. Should we close our doors for good?

I feel a serious tug toward Reformed theology, where grace is life and election is salvation, if we leave Disciples of Christ and sell our building. Of course, we’ll still meet up informally as a non-denominational home group, but what will I do without being in a denominational church!!??

While I’m not sure what my church will do exactly with Pastor Penny leaving us (she’s transferring to a Methodist church somewhere else), and us seriously struggling financiallly, I hope God can help us and KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING!

I’ve said it on my Instagram, and I’ll say it here: We’re struggling because we don’t embrace everyone. My church is incredibly close-minded and this is killing us. THIS, however, is not a matter for us to embrace heresy to grow the church. On the contrary, we are embracing the diversity of God and His love for all creation: Immigrants, single parents, women who’ve had abortions, queer folks, trans and gender-conforming folks, and/or disabled or atypical-neurological folks.

I’m always amazed at the image of God, because of His people made in His image. God must be amazing!

And while I do hope that my church will get the help it needs and grow financially and in attendance, I do now, in my heart of hearts, that we are dying. I fear nothing can stop it dying, but I’m just trying to keep my head up to God’s future. I can keep trying to lie to myself, saying “we’ll make it, we’ll stay Disciples of Christ,” but I know that is NOT true. I cannot keep lying to myself, thinking I could be a student preacher (even though I’m pretty sure my denomination won’t allow that!), or whatever.

With moving toward Reformed theology, I know this is God’s plan and will. God wants this, and has been guiding my steps in my life to get here. I could go the ELCA route, where they believe you can commit temporary apostasy, but I’ve never really been much of a fan of the ELCA or Lutheran faith, so I’ll just stick with Calvinism. I’d most likely attend our First Presbyterian Church here in York, where I would be welcomed as a future female pastor, leader, and chaplain. And yes, while I struggle with Eternal Security, I hope I can reconcile that with my faith (since fake Christians can be cut from the vine!).

JUST THINK ABOUT IT! A year ago today I was a Unitarian Christian who believed in works+grace theology! Now, I’m a Trinity-professing Christian who is all about that grace! But if I hadn’t gone through my Unitarian/Works stage, I wouldn’t understand being saved by grace as much as I do now, and I wouldn’t understand Jesus as being truly God incarnate. And I SURELY wouldn’t have thought I’d become Calvinist!

I wouldn’t understand God or his plan for my life like I do now.

So, while I struggle with being so disconnected from Seminary right now (by the very fact that they’re 400-500 miles away from me, and I HATE being an online student/laptop student!), I do hope for goodness in the future. God is a God of love and hope, not of disaster, right?

Thanks,

Leigh Todd

A Mixture of It All: Poem

It’s truly a mixture of it all,
Where faith is for me.

I am Reformed,
I am Arminian,
I believe in the Perseverance of Saints,
Yet I believe we can fall from grace as Christians,
And temporarily lose our salvation.

This is why I am Disciples of Christ. We confess no creeds,
Yet confess Christ as Lord and Savior.

We follow no confessions,
Yet we confess the Bible,
And that we are each responsible for reading it,
Interpreting it,
And living God’s Word out into the World.

I’ve checked out Lutheranism,
But as I’ve been baptized Lutheran,
Attended a Lutheran church,
I feel the Lutheran faith is too…

White, hierarchical,
Pious, stuck-up, again, white, aristocratic.

I don’t want to stick with the white stuck up old folks.

I want to stay with the struggling mom in the pews,
As her children won’t listen,
Who doesn’t put on a fake face for everyone.

I want to stick with the church that is dying, like mine.

Last Sunday, my church started the discussion about leaving our denomination,
And closing our doors.

I am in shock, and am not sure what to do next.

I am truly Disciples of Christ, but I have yet to experience Disciples of Christ.
Truly, I have just experienced a Bible-based church.
I long to experience a true Disciple of Christ church.

I’ve thought about attending the local Presbyterian USA church,
Where they preach Reformed teachings on predestination,
But they also preach Eternal Security, which is wholly unbiblical, to me.

To you, it might be your answer to faith.
For me, I’m a mixture of all three faiths: Reformed, Lutheran, and Methodist.
I am truly a Disciple of Christ, who does not fit into one easy box.

I am a Disciple of Christ, and wherever I go, I hope to stay DoC.

A Prayer: God, am I wrong? Am I right? What does the Bible really say about Eternal Security?

Dear God,
For a week now, I’ve been studying Eternal Security.

As someone who is moving from Arminian to Reformed theology, this is one thing that has been bugging me, and one thing I can’t quiet give up – Apostasy.

You see, I believe with my whole heart that we can commit apostasy. It says in Romans that “If you stop trusting, you will be cut off [from the vine] too,” (Romans 11:22, NLT).

And Hebrews talks about those who have experienced salvation and the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4-8).

Yet, I also know that Reformed theology is more biblically correct.

God, I want to be secure in my faith. I want to know that while I can mess up our relationship, that you will never banish me from your sight as your Child.

But, I also want to have an honest look at what the Bible says. As it seems, the Bible says a lot of things each denomination has trouble with. For Wesleyans, predetermination and election. For Reformed Christians/Calvinists, it’s apostasy. For Lutherans, the epistle of James and works.

Lord, I know in your goodness you are putting me on a path of goodness, not of confusion and cobwebs. I feel like I’m finally starting to clear the barn (my brain) of cobwebs, and beautify it and simplify my theology. I can only hope, and I know, that I am elect of God, as is my family, and that while some of us are struggling with Christianity, you hold unto us and love us dearly. Let us see Jesus with fresh eyes and embrace others as we rejoice in our salvation.

Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer. And help this last bit of confusion in my brain.

Lord, I am truly a mixture of Arminian and Reformed theology. Truly, I am a Reformed Arminian!! Or at least, I feel like, God, that the Bible is more of a mixture of Protestant theologies because Jesus does not draw lines – he just draws us to His Word.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Poem: If Calvinism if at least partly true…

Dear God,
If Calvinism is at least partly true,
Then we live in a paradox-like world of free will and predetermination.

If Calvinism if at least partly true,
Then we have free will, that you judge us on how we use it.
But you laid out the world’s events before the world began.
Truly, I am moving toward Reformed theology.
I believe we are free to make mistakes,
That we are to be judged by Christ at the White Throne,
But that are days are planned ahead of time.
I’m not sure why, but this is a comforting thing.

When I was strictly Arminian,
God, I felt so lost.
God, it seemed you were reckless,
That we were reckless,
That you are NOT in control.

The Bible spoke of you ordaining our days,
And that even the bad stuff was ordained from you.
Like in Acts, the Disciples realized that YOU ordained their persecution.
It was to be so. It was for their goodness and your glory.

Now, with my mixture of faith,
I feel comforted, just like David and Paul did,
That nothing escapes you, nothing surprises you.
I see your wondrous hand in all things in my life –
From the guy at Burger King giving that discount for my meal,
When I’m barely making it to payday,
To my battery on my TC-70 (Walmart Device) lasting my whole shift.
To trying out the Meats department for the first time,
And seeming to get the hang of it.
I see you all there, all creating each step by step.
God, you are there.
You are here, as I type these words.
You are here, creating the best life for me,
As I live it out, mistakes and all.
You chose me (possibly b/c I chose you).
But no matter what theology that is,
You CHOSE ME. You chose me, a sorrowful sinner,
A girl who practiced sex outside of marriage,
Who takes your name in vain nearly every day,
You forgave this girl, because you loved her and knew her.

God, love all my family members.
If you predestined me, I imagine, by the very fact
That the baptized husband, mom, Dad, and siblings,
That you chose them. Even if we choose you first,
YOU CHOOSE US, every day.

Obviously, I imagine that we can commit temporary apostasy
In this life, but since we are chosen, that we will endure to the end
And come back to faith.

Lord, you are too wonderful for us.

IN Jesus’ name, Amen.