So, I had a interesting experience the other day. The last month or so I have been attending a new church. Due to a huge amount of things that I disagreed with in the church in Los Guido, I came to the conclusion that I just couldn't be at peace being a part of that church. Around the same time, Marilyn was going to a new church and needed some motivation to continue going to church so I agreed to go with her. Well, I liked the church and the people there so I have continued going.
Anyways, on Saturday they had a spiritual warfare conference and I decided to attend. At the end of the conference, is when things became uncomfortable for me. The guest speaker began to pray against demonic attacks and people began to fall to the floor and shriek. I was praying the whole time as I was really battling with my feelings on the whole thing. Is this right? Is what is going on here from God? One thing I could tell is that there were some very real things going on and very obvious demonic things going on.
I prayed that it would stop if it wasn't from God......it didn't stop....I continue feeling uncomfortable with the whole idea but decided that I needed to block the activities around me and pray....after all this is about my communion with God and not the others there....that is between them and God.
God told me one thing while I was praying. I told God that I just don't understand and he simply said......that's okay, you don't have to understand. hmmmm interesting. I don't need to over contemplate it.....yes my opinion over the whole thing is fairly conservative but there is one thing that is sure. God is there and he is working in the people of this church. These people DO have a relationship with God so I need to step back and let God do the judging.
Can I worship God amidst this going on? The answer is yes. Will I have alot of questions when I get to heaven? Absolutely. So as I struggle with all of this.....pray for me. There are some things that I won't understand and there will be things that I downright disagree with but what this is really about is my act of worship to God. God sees my heart and he see's their hearts and in his grace he still speaks and works with us flawed humans even if we don't get it quite right.
Another thing I have been going through is just accepting the expectations of the church culture here in Costa Rica. I struggle with the fact that in order to be a part of a church here there are certain liberties that I must give up that I wouldn't have to give up in Canada. It's hard to surrender to that when you have a stubborn, independant personality like me. I was shocked to learn to what extent the pastor's here have power and how much they are respected.
This is not a bad thing but something rubbed me the wrong way when I was told I would have to ask the pastor for permission for a bunch of things.........permission for what? Hmmm permission to visit another church, permission to be involved in any kind of ministry outside of the church, and if it ever comes up... permission to date someone. Oh yeah.....have I mentioned that when you choose to date someone, that it must be announced in front of the church? Hmmm I think I will just stay single for a long long time......works for me!!!
I was also shocked to find out that I am expected to be at church for every service and that if I don't go that I have to answer to the pastor and give a good enough reason why I wasn't there. Doesn't sound like a big deal right? Well.......I find it tough. So please pray for a more submissive spirit on my part....and that these cultural differences won't make me dwell on the freedoms I had in Canada. I guess its not a big deal to be committed to being at church a minimum of 3 times per week:) I do enjoy it, so I won't let the idea that I have to, change my attitude.
On the bright side, the pastor is a good pastor and trust me......if I am not paying attention in the service......he WILL notice! His eyes pierce your soul...no hiding from him!! I keep reminding myself, there is nothing wrong with being held accountable.
******** I know that this blog entry might make some uncomfortable, I did not write it to give an opinion or to discuss theology but just to show a glimpse of my personal experiences and to be honest of my own personal struggles living in another culture and attending a church that is different than what I am used to**********