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Juneteenth Print Series (2023)

All images by LaShawnda Jones except where noted.

This year’s Juneteenth print series features monuments in Montgomery, Alabama and Chicago, Illinois.

For Freedom Day 2023 I wanted to feature the ancestors we have lost to the violence and hatred baked into the American way of life as well as visionaries intent on carving a way through the oppression for themselves and future generations across the American landscape.

Bryan Stevenson‘s Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration and National Monument of the Peace and Justice were top of mind and spirit this year. As was Chicago’s settler founder and Bronzeville.

We live in a time, culture and society that actively hates reality. The truth of the country’s beginning, its history, and present state is being erased, banned, rewritten and ignored. For this reason, I wanted to focus on words – names, cities, declarations. I wanted to share what’s already been said, what’s already known and seen and acknowledged. This year’s Juneteenth Series is about honoring and remembering not only our collective past but also our shared present.

Follow the links for more information on the people and places featured in the series.

Jars of Earth I, 2021 Copyright 2023 LaShawnda Jones

Jars of Earth I features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama. It is available as an 11×14 low-texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight white foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

They Are All Honored Here, 2021 Copyright, LaShawnda Jones, 2022

Jars of Earth II features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama. It is available as an 11×14 low-texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight black foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

We Will Remember features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The National Memorial for Peace & Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. This image is available as an 11×14 low texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight white foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

They Are All Honored Here, 2021 ©2023 LaShawnda Jones

They Are All Honored Here features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The National Memorial for Peace & Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. It is available as an 11×14 low texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight white foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) Anchors Chicago Skyline (2015) displays the home of the cultural iconic magazines Ebony and JET magazines nearly straddling the meeting point of Bronzeville and Magnificent Mile on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. It is available as a silk print in 5×7 and 10×20. Please allow 2-3 weeks for printing and shipping.

Du Sable on Potawatomi Land is a composite image of a bust of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue overlooking a mural by Andrea Carlson on the Chicago River Walk stating “Bodéwadmikik ėthë yéyék” meaning “You are on Potawatomi Land.” Du Sable on Potawatomi Land is available as an 11×14 low texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight black foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

Prior Year Series

My 2022 Juneteenth series featured composite images representing money, power and the slave trade. The images used for the composites were taken between 2009 and 2020 in Dallas, Milwaukee, New York, Tucson, and Washington DC. A NASA satellite image of the world at night is incorporated in The Crossing.

Black Women Stand Alone is a composite of a lone Black Woman sitting in front of the White House as a police officer approaches her. Barricades with signs reading *Do Not Enter* are barring her entry to the primary symbol of power in the United States of America. It is available as a 5×7 silk print and 11×14 giclée print.

Land of Cotton depicts Lady Liberty walking across a cotton-filled New York Harbor toward mainland USA. It is available as a 5×7 silk and 11×14 giclée print.

The Crossing: Blood in the Water represents a mother & daughter holding hands across the Atlantic and generations. There’s blood enveloping a ship-like structure behind them that stretches from the African continent to the USA. It is available as a 5×7 silk and 11×14 giclée print.

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Reflection Friday: What Faith Is by Frederick K.C. Price

Apostle Frederick K.C. Price (I still call him Pastor Price) is one of my first and best teachers. I began watching his televised services nearly twenty years ago while living in Milwaukee, WI. Quite honestly, I was interested in the Word – I wanted to read and understand the Bible – but my direct reading was doing nothing for me. Nothing was clicking.

I was baptized at the age of six and have been communing with God since then in the form of my journal writing — Dear God: It’s me again! Yet and still when I wanted to read the Bible in my teens and twenties, I couldn’t quite get it. I had a King James Study Bible, which I still occasionally reference here and there, however the language still trips me up.

As far as church attendance goes, I’m a professional visitor. I visited the same church for eight years with a friend in high school and college. Never joined. Wasn’t interested, but I enjoyed attending. To this day, whenever I travel, I look for a church to visit as part of the trip. Having sat in on services across the United States, France and Israel, and having walked through ancient religious edifices in Egypt, Ethiopia, England, Italy, Mexico, Poland, and Vatican City, I know we are not dissimilar in the way we choose to display honor and glory for God around the world. The human need to erect monuments in as palatial a way as possible is on display wherever humans are. Yet and still, I have rarely felt moved by the Spirit in any of these spaces. Except for one memorable time in a small town in France. After visiting Chartres Cathedral, a 12th century architectural masterpiece, I withdrew to a bathroom stall in a nearby restaurant to weep and pray.

My mother had died about three years prior. I have no linear or practical memories of those in-between years. I don’t even know what triggered me. I was studying in Paris that spring. Even though the written placement tests put me in the second tier at the Sorbonne, which was near fluency, I felt like a charity case. It was hard for me to speak the language. Nerves. Embarrassment. Whatever. The knowledge was there, but my tongue wasn’t cooperating. That is, until the day I had an epiphany in a small stone restaurant in the rural French town of Chartres. I prayed aloud in multiple languages that day. I’m not clear English was a part of that communication. I’m certain of French and Tongues. Yet I understood every word that flowed from my month. That night in my dreams, God answered my prayer.

Even having had this pivotal, emotional and spiritual experience, reading the Bible remained a difficulty for me.

A couple of years later, I began watching Pastor Price on TV. Through his sermons, the Word began to marinate in me in such a way that it became tender enough to digest. I still wasn’t getting it on my own, but I was understanding enough to continue to try.

A few years after finding Pastor Price on TV, I moved to New York City. Pastor Price operated his ministry from his Faithdome in Los Angeles, CA. As a televangelist, he traveled the world. In 2001 he started a sister church, CCC East, in New York City at 96th St and Central Park West. I first visited CCC East shortly after my arrival to the City in 2005. I lived in the Bronx my first six months and the commute was too convoluted for me. Some time after I moved to Manhattan, I began visiting the church often. A year after becoming a regular, I felt the urge to answer the altar call but valiantly resisted. During my second full year in NYC, I made a deal with God during one of Pastor Price’s visits. “I won’t join today, but the next time he comes, I’ll answer the altar call.” Based on his routine, I was certain I had a month before committing myself. The following Sunday was Easter and Pastor Price decided to bless us with his presence. As I walked down the middle aisle to my seat, I raised a side-eye to God and acknowledged His checkmate. “Ah! You got me!” CCC-East became the first and only church I’ve ever joined.

Pastor Price preached the below “What Faith Is” series a few months before I joined CCC-East. I’m sure I heard a version of it in person. This is the teaching style I sat under for a number of years. Listening to him developed my ears, discernment and understanding. He helped contour my faith.

One thing he said often was eat the meat and spit out the bones. We didn’t have to agree with him, but don’t miss the message! He had his dogma, but he didn’t teach in a way that forced his perspective on his congregation. For that, I’m eternally grateful because I could have certainly become a blind sheep loyal to a man instead of the Word.

Apostle Pastor Dr. Fred Price taught the four part “What Faith Is” series at Faith Christian Center in Arlington, Texas beginning February 25, 2007. It’s a welcome refresher for me. I hope it blesses you as well. Listen and take notes – you won’t regret it!

What Faith Is, Part 1

What Faith Is, Part 2

What Faith Is, Part 3

What Faith is, Part 4


  • How do you think of faith?
  • Is faith a part of your life, the way you live life or an unexplored idea?
  • What came first in your faith walk: knowledge, experience, language or belief?
  • What was the catalyst that broke open your understanding of the Bible or spiritual teachings?
  • What has been your favorite lesson from your best teacher (of life, spirit, Bible, all/any things)?
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Reflection: What do you need to rebound from?

self-reflection: meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.

Prompt: What do you need to rebound from?

On July 16, 2020, I was released from the hospital after nearly a week in ICU following a month-long mysterious illness (no confirmation of Covid-19 connection). I thought I was dying and was honestly ready to go. Fast forward to today and I’m laying ground work for an old-age with few financial concerns, no matter the state of my health.

Rebounding from a physical and emotional low has its advantages.

What do you need to rebound from?

Changing perspectives. Fleeing comfort zones.

If everyday is a new day, why is it so hard to start over? Or to rethink life? Rethink process? Rethink you? Or what works for you?

Realizing you’re free of former constraints will lead to a new level of personal freedom.

#live #life #covid_19 #health #scare #neardeathexperience #chooselife #getup #go #newperspective #newchoices  #newday #newmercies #live #woman #womanhood #iamwoman #harvestlife #reflection #doover #keepmovingforward #onward #whatsnext #rethink #restructure #reflect #build #reapingmyharvest #Iamtheharvest #joy #peace #selfawareness #chooselife

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Reflection Friday: Do you practice self-reflection?

Kicking off self-reflection for Reflection Fridays!

Self-reflection is a huge part of changing, growing and maturing. Recently, a colleague shared some great year-end reflection questions. Her prompt has inspired me to do a Reflection Friday series.

self-reflection: meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives

Prompt: Do you practice self-reflection?

  1. What did you accomplish in 2022 that make you proud?
  2. What challenges did you overcome during the year?
  3. What mistakes did you hold on to throughout the year?
  4. Why are those mistakes hard for you to let go of?
  5. How did you take care of yourself (emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually) in 2022?
  6. What character trait(s) did you rely on or practice the most in 2022? (Examples: patience, forgiveness, courage, hope, joy, gratitude, grace, honesty, compassion, etc.)
  7. Where did you start the year compared to where you ended the year? How do you measure your progress/change?
  8. What do you wish you had known at the start of 2022? What would you have done differently if you had known?
  9. What did you learn about the world in 2022?
  10. What did 2022 teach you about yourself? 
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Marriage & Relationship: Dorina’s Testimony & Baptism

For those who followed the Marriage & Relationship Series, you’ll remember my friend Dorina. She joined the #Zoom discussions from Madrid, Spain where she’s been living for the last few years. The discussions did not focus on our personal relationships by design. However, in this recorded YouTube livestream, she shares some of her story before her baptism. Take a listen. Each of the four testimonies shared are encouraging.

Feel free to wish Dorina well on her faith journey in the comments.


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All Is Meaningless (ACAD: Ecclesiastes 10)

Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left. Even when fools walk on the road, they lack sense, and show to everyone that they are fools. If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post, for calmness will undo great offenses.

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as great an error as if it proceeded from the ruler: folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. I have seen slaves on horseback, and princes walking on foot like slaves.

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones will be hurt by them; and whoever splits logs will be endangered by them. If the iron is blunt, and one does not whet the edge, then more strength must be exerted; but wisdom helps one to succeed. If the snake bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage in a charmer.

Words spoken by the wise bring them favor, but the lips of fools consume them. The words of their mouths begin in foolishness, and their talk ends in wicked madness; yet fools talk on and on. No one knows what is to happen, and who can tell anyone what the future holds? The toil of fools wears them out, for they do not even know the way to town.

Alas for you, O land, when your king is a servant, and your princes feast in the morning! Happy are you, O land, when your king is a nobleman, and your princes feast at the proper time— for strength, and not for drunkenness! Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks. Feasts are made for laughter; wine gladdens life, and money meets every need. Do not curse the king, even in your thoughts, or curse the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter.

Ecclesiastes 10:1-20 –

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All Is Meaningless (ACAD: Ecclesiastes 1)

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises.

The wind blows to the south, and goes around to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.

All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow.

All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has already been, in the ages before us.

The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them.

I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

I said to myself, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.

Source: Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 –

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reFocus: August 2014

August is my favorite month of the year!


Thanks for asking! It’s the one month of the year with no holiday other than my birthday. 🙂 It’s not my favorite simply because I’ve learned to pamper myself, but because it’s a dedicated period of refocusing for me. Let’s just say that this is the month I usually recalibrate myself. It’s the time I get super reflective and do life evaluations. I think about the calendar year: Where am I in the process of goals I set for myself? What can I do to close things out before year-end?  I think about what has been accomplished or fallen to the wayside since my last birthday: What have I paid off? What needs paying off? And I think about my over-all life: Where am I? What’s next? What can I do today to get to where I want to be tomorrow?

This August, however, I am not going to focus on all that so much because this year (and last year – since my last birthday) I’ve experienced so much change and have had major adjustments (still ongoing) that thinking about it all again will just exhaust me!

What I do want to focus on is Spirit Harvest. My life business that just won’t take flight.

I want to get back to feeding myself spiritually. I want to get back to overflowing joy and sharing my bounty through my writing. Over the last couple of weeks, I have returned to the most basic element for everyone’s faith walk: I opened my Bible (went to a Bible app on my phone during my morning commute) and just started reading wherever my mind took me.

I don’t remember what the first chapters were, but I do know I needed the messages I received. This week I was lead to Romans. And I felt an overwhelming desire to share the verses that were speaking to me as soon as I could get free of the subway. After a couple of commutes reading, it crossed my mind that it would be great to just share the Word with no commentary. I have nothing to say right now, anyway. I feel as if my wisdom has turned to ashes. But even with this dryness of spirit, I am refreshed and watered by God’s Word. Straight. No fillers. No chasers.

So my challenge to myself for the month of August 2014, is to post a chapter a day. To share with you whatever God leads me to in my musings.

I’m so delighted that Ruth will kick off A Chapter of Day series. It’s fitting since I, too, am a woman looking to exit her desert and enter into a space covered by love.

I would love to hear what your experiences are with the readings this month. Please share and comment.

All of God’s best to you,


LaShawnda at Red Rock Canyon, NV Photo credit: Deidra Wilson Photography
LaShawnda at Red Rock Canyon, NV
Photo credit: Deidra Wilson Photography


“When Love Sees You (JESUS)” by Mac Powell

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The people asked for a king: Selling ourselves

God did not create man to dominate other men. Humans were created as sovereign beings with direct access to his and her Creator. We were created to be sovereign leaders of ourselves, partners in marriage, examples of right living to our children and upright representatives in our communities. We were created to live with the knowledge and understanding that God is our King, our Lord, our True Sovereign Leader. He occupies a throne no man can usurp.

Until we attempted to take the throne for ourselves, or alternatively, put someone else upon the throne to rule us. No man can usurp our authority, but we can certainly surrender it.

The most pivotal Bible moment for me in understanding my life today as a black woman in America who is constantly in remembrance of my country’s history of slavery and its legacy of racism, is when I read how Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery because of their jealousy of him. And how that one hateful act eventually led to four hundred years of indentured servitude (slavery) for the Israelites. What struck me in this story is that the Israelites made themselves slaves. They were not conquered. There was no war. No battle happened. The hatred and jealousy of ten brothers led them to commit a despicable act against their younger brother. That one act has had repercussions that we still feel today.

How does that compare to enslaved Africans in America? Africans did the same as the Israelites. They sold themselves into slavery. Intertribal wars, in some cases, led to the victors enslaving and selling off the losers. They warred against each other and in many cases the victors stole the natural freedom of their defeated foes.  However, the arrival of the white man added a whole new dimension to the slave trade on the African continent. Before that, people were enslaved through conflicts and for service primarily to the enslaver.  However, after the white man got involved, people were captured and enslaved for profit as a part of a transatlantic industry. This would not have happened if not for the will of the people who sold their own.

In 1999, Matthieu Kerekou, then president of Benin, put out a message to African-Americans:  “His compatriots are sorry for their ancestors’ complicity in the slave trade. During December, he’s going to tell them that at a special Leadership Reconciliation Conference on his soil.” He said intertribal hostility over the slave trade still exists. Many of his people have never seen descendants of their forebears who were shipped off to the Americas (Wright, 1999). He says the problem is in human hearts. ” ‘All have sinned,'” he claims, quoting the New Testament. “All of us need to confess our wrong and appeal to [God] for forgiveness.”

Quite honestly, I don’t remember hearing about this at the time. I studied African-American literature and history in college and I don’t recall this apology ever coming up in conversation. I don’t recall seeing it in the news. I’m certain I would have remembered. It received so little media attention, even now it’s hard digging up stories online. In July, 2003, Benin Ambassador Cyrille Oguin toured schools and churches in the United States to offer an official apology from: “In the name of the government and the people of Benin, on behalf of President Mattie Ke’re’kou, I say to you all, we are sorry. We are deeply, deeply sorry…. We believe it is easy to say that those other people did it, but we also believe that if we are not helping them, if we did not assist them, if we did not play a role in it, it would not have happened.”

“The president of Benin, the people of Benin have asked me to come here and apologize for the government, for the Benin people and for Africa for what we all know happened. Where our parents were involved in this awful, this terrible, trade…. Reconciliation is the first step to healing old wounds and opening economic development. [President Ke’re’kou] knows the damage on our side that came from slavery. He knows how this robbed our own society at home, how it turned us against each other.” (Miller, 2003)

Often, humans are unaware of their own strength and power. If you have no awareness of your own power, how can you imagine yourself a king? How can you imagine yourself as a created vessel of the Lord God Almighty, knitted together in such a way that God can channel His creative power and purpose through you without destroying you? How can you imagine if you aren’t even aware?

In our ignorance, we seek to put others above us. In the process of putting others above us, we dethrone God in our lives. We may look to our own self to be everything we need. We may look to ideals, institutions, governments to provide everything we need. We may hold other people up as examples of what is good and worthy for us to be. We may look to leaders or loved ones to save us. We may put our hope in religious practices and traditions while expecting the leaders of such to guide us.

Time and time again, the Israelites put a man between them and God. They had direct access to the source of life but they wanted it diffused. They asked for a leader. They sought other gods. They asked for a ruler (judge). They asked for a king. God took this as a direct rejection of Him as their King (1 Samuel 8:7-9).

Today’s king is celebrity culture. Many are voluntarily enslaved to it. The pervasive idea is: You’re no one unless a lot of people know you and want to be like you. People worship at the altar of images. People aspire to wealth for no other reason than to consume at a more extravagant level. People condition their bodies for exposure to the masses. This is all in the pursuit of self-glorification or other-idolization. People either want to be idolized or they want to idolize others. Such fanaticism is an affront to God. And because it’s an affront to God, it is also an affront to humanity. You cannot raise up a few without keeping the masses down.

My reasoning may appear to be a direct contradiction of the instruction to “value others above yourselves” but it’s not. The first part of that verse instructs us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3). In addition, giving the best of myself in service of other people has nothing to do with their status, income, social standing, physical attributes or what they can do for me personal. Giving the best of myself to the people I encounter has everything to with my True King, my Heavenly Father and everything He channels through me that represents His Character, Nature and Spirit.

When we are not channeling God, we are essentially channeling the spirit of the world that is represented by whatever culture we are predominantly exposed to. Two thousand years ago, we were forever saved from the dominance of the ruler of this world, when God gifted us all with a Savior King for eternity.

I hope to post more in the coming weeks to address our choice for indentured servitude (either by hurting others or demeaning ourselves), and the King God has made available to everyone. King Jesus came to lead the world out of bondage and into eternal freedom.


Reconciliation: Benin Conference (transcribed speeches):

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Seven-year itch: Where did my zeal go?

I can say this about them: They really try to follow God, but they do not know the right way.

This is what the Scripture says: “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” That is the teaching of faith that we are telling. ~ Romans 10:2, 8, NCV

I’ve had to face some harsh realities recently. They came in the form of mental asides and afterthoughts, mild irritations and frequent frustrations.

Occasionally, my Facebook feed will display the rapturous updates of young Christians – early to mid-thirties, who have committed or re-committed themselves to Christ after having loads of fun in the world. The cynic in me remarks how great it must be to have been able to do everything they wanted to do in their adult life and still have the opportunity to return and declare their love for Christ. And the weary Christian in me remembers when I, too, was extremely passionate about my love for Christ.

I think my image of Christianity has gotten me down.

In the world the “church” is all about fellowship meetings – eating and singing – and telling your neighbor (the person or people standing next to you in service) that you love them or you’re glad to see them. “Church” is about ministry outreach to the poor, to the broken, the injured, the rejected, the spiritually lost. It becomes about missionary trips, church planting, fund-raising, and sister or satellite churches in far-flung locations. “Church” is about being seen and having the right friends or simply: fashion, socializing and getting a whole bunch of “Amens” for paraphrased scripture. It has become about obeying man or men who imagine they have a corner market on God’s Word.

In the world, “church” is about a network. A network of a group of people who will stick together as long as they have the same confession of faith and nothing is expected of them outside of the church walls that isn’t well-publicized far and wide for the effort.

“Church” mimics the world. Lights…camera…action! You’re on…now perform! Perhaps that’s why I’ve become so dissatisfied with the people I encounter in “church” and the “churches” I’ve attended and even in people who just claim to be Christian. What I’ve noticed is that people repackage worldly goods and try to sell it to Believers as godly fruit. Personally, I don’t want to use anything the World had first as an expression of my faith life. And before you think the world had Jesus first, I’ll remind you that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.

I’ve been looking for the Christ in Christians and as diligently as I’ve looked I’ve rarely encountered Christ in the “church” – but I’ve certainly encountered Him in many other places.

My “church” experiences have not been about showing love or being love. They haven’t been about openness, honesty or availability. I’ve experienced more rejection in the “church” and by “church folk” – through relationships and service in ministries – than any other area in my life (and I’ve certainly known great rejection in other areas). In my experience, church organizations choose to operate like businesses but aren’t nearly as conscientious with their human capital as businesses are.  I’ve had more difficulty trying to volunteer for various ministries in various churches than I’ve had volunteering for senate campaigns. Hillary Clinton’s 2006 Senate Campaign required a background check, a phone interview and an in-person interview. A bit much in my opinion at the time, but her husband was a former president. I got over it. However, that’s nothing compared to the steps required at my current church. We have to apply online (if you can’t apply online, dates are provided for when you can apply in person). We have to attend a monthly interview session and fill out a four page application on site. This session is followed by a new believers session the same night to hear about the “church’s” beliefs. Two references (of people “in the same church who know you well”) have to be provided; if the references pan out, we then have to attend an in-person interview within the next month or two. This can easily turn into a two or three-month process. That’s effectively as much or more of a process than I’ve done for any job I’ve worked on. Volunteering at church shouldn’t be so difficult or drawn out. I’m a seasoned believer and I felt like giving up in the process!

I feel like “church” is geared towards conversion and beginners in the Word. There’s very little focus or substance for the seasoned Believer.

Indeed, where is the church for the Believer with no intention of returning to the world? The person who’s just trying to get through a humdrum day, week or month? Where’s the church for the person who isn’t lacking in faith, but may simply be in an in-between time, waiting for the next assignment? Where’s the church for the Believer who simply needs a hug because it’s Wednesday? Where’s the community that actually reaches out within itself? To the Believers who are still hurt or newly hurt? To the Believers who need more than words, who need to be shown how loved they are? Need to know how much they matter in the chain of events that surround their life. Where’s that community that focuses on itself, embraces itself and then radiates itself to surrounding communities? If church folk actually took the time to get to know, and made the effort to appreciate, their neighbor, instead of just telling them that they’re glad to see them on Sunday morning, they would be a much more gracious people when they encounter the world outside of their community. They would be much more radiant in their workplaces, on their travels and in their politics.

I’ve been frustrated because after seven years of actively desiring and seeking a Christian community, I have nothing of substance to claim in terms of relationships with people. I attended my first church for about four years. I committed my life to Jesus Christ there and was baptized as an adult there. I was consistently active in at least four ministries at a time and attended nearly every monthly special event. I was there for most Sunday morning services and Thursday night Bible Studies. My life was the “church” for the time I was there, and boy did I grow! But I didn’t conform to every part of that congregation’s culture.

The best thing I learned during my time in that congregation was “to study and show myself approved.” I am a literal learner and doer. If the Teacher is telling me that everything I need for my life is in the Word of God, and all I have to do is study the Word, then that’s what I will do. So indeed, growth was miraculous when I went from not reading my Bible to studying it faithfully. Every word was the most succulent bite for me. It was a new world. That’s where the rapturous passion came from – breathing in the life of God’s Word was the source of my zeal. Experiencing God’s Word as refreshment sustained me and propelled me forward. {See Combating Spirits in the Church}

The second church I attended in New York was much smaller. I later looked at it as something of a cult. For six months I attended one or two small group sessions a week in addition to Sunday service. My take away from that congregation was an awareness of how important it is to maintain independent thought. The small group sessions became a forum for the leadership to exercise more control over the thinking (therefore, the beliefs) of the attending congregation members. I spoke up with questions, opinions and requests. I was shut down each time and eventually shunned from the groups. They thought my pointing out scripture was disruptive to their teachings. My simple response: If you’re mis-teaching the Bible, and I’m sitting in front of you, yeah, I’m gonna say something. After speaking with the pastor one-on-one (he also led one of the small groups), I decided that I needed to preserve myself and find another congregation. {See Some Thoughts on Challenges}

I’ve been with my current congregation for about three years. For more than a year, I just sat in the services and soaked in the teachings. I didn’t want to get involved. I greeted the people next to me and sometimes in front of and behind me. At the beginning of my second year, I went to Israel with a couple of other people from the congregation. {See Stand Bold Against the Spirit of the Anti-Christ.} Our small group was joined to other groups from around the world. I thought it would be the beginning of great relationships. Not. I speak in passing to the folks from my congregation when we see each other in service. Last year, I got out of my seat and volunteered for the children’s ministry. I can’t tell you how excited I was to teach the children! But the head of the children’s ministry needed to control my schedule and because I was only able to offer one Sunday a month later in the year, she took that as a lack of availability and told me I wasn’t a fit for the ministry’s needs. It took another year before I even considered applying for another ministry. Last month I applied for the wwpray ministry for the specific reason that I can do it remotely and won’t have to deal with people directly.

That’s where my zeal has gotten me in the “church”.

What a sad waste. I have a heart of light I want to share and it has been rejected at every turn by people who profess Christ. That’s a struggle for me. How much do I push back? How long do I sit out? How long do I just keep to myself?

I’m not interested in burying my talents, but I never thought that my biggest spiritual struggles would be within the congregations I consider myself a part of.

Over the last few days my musings have led to the beginning of a revelation. Stay tuned….

We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved.  As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.”  ~ Romans 10:10-11, NCV