Life Update & Faith Links: God, I am learning

Hi everyone,
I hope your week is going well!

Here are just a few of my updates, troubles, and struggles:

As I’m growing more Reformed, I’m leaning toward the Presbyterian Church (USA). They’re a liberal Reformed church, but I’m a liberal Nebraskan, so I’m down for it. The trouble is what to do with my lovable, but conservative, church members at First Christian. While we still haven’t voted on it yet, we’re still looking into leaving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). With my moving away from Disciples of Christ, which I’ve been finding too loose in doctrine and not helpful in building up one in faith, I’m looking into attending First Presbyterian Church here in York. I want to leave Disciples of Christ, but I don’t want to leave my dissenting-First Christian church. They are family, and I love each of them, even if they are super conservative and their close-mindedness gets on my nerves sometimes.

So, I’m not sure how I can attend First Christian (and preach there, since Pastor Penny is leaving), and be Presbyterian. For now, I’m looking into attending First Presbyterian three weeks in a month, and attend First Christian the last week (or two, if we have five Sundays in a month). Earlier this week, I thought about just leaving First Christian completely, so I can devote myself to FPC and not get caught between two churches. This seems to be the most wise thing, but I DID say I would preach there for some time until we got a new pastor. Divorcing yourself from a church has to be quick and easy; otherwise, everything hurts. There is always pain when you divorce yourself from a church, especially when you’ve grown close together, but separate on social issues or doctrines.

I’m going to talk with Pastor Mark of First Presbyterian and see what he thinks. I’ve grown really close to Bev, Janet, and Jack and others, and am sad to leave First Christian.

My other option is to see if we stay Disciples of Christ, and then stay with the DoC in Nebraska. The thing is, though, is that with the DoC being of “no creed but Christ,” I don’t know how I’m going to raise my children with ambiguous beliefs. How will they know the right way to Jesus and know that they are chosen before time to be His children?

This is tricky.

Lord Jesus, I am learning. Jesus, I see your hand in all things, including this shaping of my life into more of your image, through this struggle. God, you’ve put me on this wild faith journey, and I know we’re still just in the beginning!

Would love your prayers.

Thanks, Leigh

PS: Here are some links to traditional views of the Bible, that you can use in your Bible study, and also some more open-minded and liberal ones as well:

enterthebible.org (Liberal)
bibleodyssey.org (Liberal)
thebibleproject.com (traditional)

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 Poem: Still Learning for Me in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

God,

With all our differing theologies

Where we claim this about God

And that about enduring to the end.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we focus on Jesus,

The Author and Perfecter of our faith.

It matters, most importantly,

That we focus on Unity in Christ,

Because all that matters, ultimately, is that we are saved.

We have been renewed, set apart, freed from sin.

We are free.

Thanks to the cross,

Nothing else matters.

Doctrine doesn’t matter.

Arguments of theology don’t matter.

What matters is Jesus,

And his enduring love for us.

May we love him and all others back.

Because what matters most

Is Jesus and our love for him and all creation.

Alleluia and Amen.

A response to my theological focus in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  As Pastor Penny told me, all that matters is Jesus and that we are saved.

Life Update: Between Christmas & Epiphany

Our Christmas tree this year!

Hi everyone!

Sorry I’ve been away for so long – I’ve mostly been updating Instagram and Twitter, and enjoying work and end-of-year stuff!

Fall semester has just ended, and I hope my grades were B- or above! I really struggled with when to do homework (like having a homework schedule that works with my work schedule), and getting better at writing. I mostly skimmed most of my readings, but I’ve always been really good at skimming (plus tips from professors!), so that works.

Nebraska is full-swing into Winter, and I am NOT enjoying it. It’s not as bad as Minnesota winters, but the arctic wind is TERRIBLE! It rained all day at work yesterday as I was pushing carts, and I was soaked to the core. We had a mini-blizzard today, with lots of snow. The snowfall wasn’t too bad, but the wind, my Lord, is terrible. Jacob and I just walked a few feet from our apartment to North Casey’s, and I could hardly breathe in any air – it was so cold and windy!

Although this was a rough beginning of a semester and the weather is a pain, I’m just glad how much I’ve progressed this year. First, I graduated from college, a feat I had wished for so long. Second, I got an apartment lease with MY name on it – that’s a big deal for me. With an old eviction on my record, it’s been nice moving forward and being an ADULT. With me taking two classes this Spring, and then three every semester until graduation, I’m hoping to pay my rent with school loans until I graduate and become a pastor/chaplain. Although I will have a lot of loans to pay off, I’m hoping that and care payments will be the only bills I owe. I am certainly doing this adult thing!

With church, I’m still a part of Disciples of Christ, and I really enjoy the traditions, although I’m looking for more High Church (more liturgy) than what I get at First Christian in Aurora. So, my sister will revisit FCC in Lincoln sometime soon! They actually use the lectionary, pass the peace/great your neighbor, and all that. Aurora is a little two low church for me. I’m also hoping there will be more diversity of biblical interpretations at FCC-Lincoln than at Aurora. I can’t wait to attend their Sunday School!

Other than that, I’m really hoping to get my own car this spring and get my license. This is all very exciting. I’m hoping to get a Volkswagen Beetle with my income taxes!

That’s it! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love, Leigh Todd

Proper 10: Peer Pressure and Me

IMG_20180715_102805283Every time I attend church, I find myself thinking three things:

  1. Do I miss my old church(es)?
  2. Should I force myself to believe in the Trinity/how do I reconcile my Unitarian beliefs with the Trinity?
  3. How would I modernize this church/sermon/message?  How would I make it my own?

I thought of these three things while attending church this morning, at First Christian Church of York.  I’m still missing the structure and holy communion at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, but I can’t reconcile my Unitarian/Works+grace beliefs with the Lutheran faith.  I’ve thought about attending the Saturday services at FELC here in York, so we’ll see how that goes.  I miss celebrating Holy Communion as the literal body and blood of Christ – I don’t know why this is so important, but it is.  And in a small way, I miss infant baptisms.

As for trying to convince myself to believe in the Trinity, its not working so well.  I know what I believe, and while God coming to earth in the body of a baby to reconcile us to himself sounds very convincing, I know the Unitarian truth.  I do believe in God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to convince myself to believe in God the Son again after reading the Gospels.  Having read that Jesus prayed to our Father in Heaven makes me dream of going back to the Mormon church, so that I can at least believe in both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  Then, at least I could believe in both works and grace.  Ughhh.

Lastly, I wonder how I could modernize my current church/my future church/or at least the message of Christ.  First Christian is very conservative, which is something I’m very worried about if I decide to make this place my Home Church.  I’ve heard good things about First Evangelical Lutheran Church, such as them reading progressive books by progressive female preachers.  Ugh.  Did I make the right decision in not believing in the Trinity and just grace, and leaving my old stomping grounds?  I feel a whole lot of regret right now.

How could i modernize this church?  How could I modernize its message for people of my generation?  Take peer pressure, for example.  This was our message from the Lectionary today, and I have been feeling a whole lot of peer pressure to conform in this church.  There was even a snippet in the bulletin about not conforming to this world.  Oy vey!  Doesn’t that sound fundamentalist?  I want something more progressive!  I want to talk about water conservation, taking care of our planet as stewards by God.  I want to talk about not giving into peer pressure of older generations to stay back and do nothing against oppressive societies.  DO NOT GIVE INTO THE PEER PRESSURE.  Be bold.  Care for the earth.  Care for our queer siblings of creation and of Christ.  Care for the immigrants.  Care for the vulnerable, the least of these, whether they are of the earth, of another nation, or just down the street from us.  Care, my friends.  Do not cave into the fundamentalist, white Christianity where one only focuses on personal piety.  Yes, be holy.  But don’t forget to fight the oppressive systems. (I’m more of a person to focus much more on social holiness as I don’t buy into the American ideal of personal holiness).  Let’s be socially holy people.  Christ said that if we only care about the outside of the bowl, but don’t wash the inside of the bowl, then we are nothing.  Focusing on one thing negates from social holiness.  How we treat people matters, even the point of judgement and Eternal Life (Matthew 25).

Alleluia and Amen.

-Leigh