Building an altar and making a sacrifice. When I say building an altar I don’t mean the altar some build on Día De Los Muertos. I mean build a place in your home where it is dedicated to prayer, you don’t have to make it look like a church or anything. It could simply be a spot in your bedroom. By making a sacrifice it isn’t an actual killing sacrifice, it’s a sacrifice of fleshy desire. These two things are something I just learned about. I learned that building an altar and making a sacrifice go hand and hand. In order to advance in your spiritual life you have to give God a place in your life and home, thus building an altar in your home. An altar is were we can encounter God in an amazing way, church isn’t the only place we can feel God’s presence. After making an altar we have to also make sacrifices for God. The type of sacrifices I’m talking about are waking up at 5am to pray, fasting, or not watching your favorite show to read the bible. Without making sacrifices for God, you can’t expect to feel him, because you aren’t demonstrating that he is a priority in your life. In order to grow in your spiritual life you have to be able to say no to you flesh and yes to the things of God. Saying no to your fleshly desires may seem difficult, I myself find it extremely difficult, but God sacrificed his only son so that all of us could have eternal life. Knowing that God did this, makes my sacrifices seem small and worth it.
Since Thanksgiving is around the corner I thought I would talk about being grateful. I once heard a preacher say something about being grateful that I would never forget. He said “gratitude changes attitude”. When I heard this I started to wonder if that was really true, so I decided to try it. For a couple days, every time I woke up I would say at least three things I was thankful for and if I got upset throughout the day I would take a second to remind myself of the things I was grateful for. From the first day I noticed I was in a happier mood and that mood would even carry onto the next day. Ever since then I try to remind myself to be grateful. You’re probably thinking “yes be grateful blah blah blah, we heard this all the time” and yes we do but one thing is hearing it and another is actually understanding this. Understanding means you act grateful, because anyone can “say” they are grateful. But as the old saying goes, “you can’t just walk the walk you must also talk the talk”. You can tell when someone is grateful when they don’t complain about what they don’t have, or when someone sees the glass half full rather than half empty. It only takes 5 minutes to stop what you’re doing and just acknowledge at least three things you are grateful for. Do that once a day and you’ll begin to notice the difference in yourself.
It’s hard to be Apostolic everywhere you go. And it’s not that you don’t want to stand up for what you believe in but I think it has to do with feeling including. Speaking from personal experience I have found myself at times acting different in different environments. What I mean by this is, for example, at school I would act a certain way just to fit it, and this was the same with work as well. It was like I was adapting myself to my surrounds. It is difficult, especially the time we live in, to be a young apostolic. Because a part of us just wants to fit in with everyone and not “stand out” or be different. I have caught myself saying and doing things I know was wrong just to feel like part of the group. I know there are others who have done this as well. There has even been times where someone would ask me “are you really into your religion” and I would tell them “eghh not really” but on the inside I knew I was lying. Why lie? I asked myself this question so many times, and it has to do with what you value more fitting in or God. You could say I would value feeling included over God many times because I hated the feeling of not belonging. But I came to realize that how could I favor this over the one who died on a cross for me, over someone who was beaten for me, over someone who gave and continues to give me what I need. If you are someone who does this, dig deep within yourself to find out why. Then when you find your “why” ask yourself is this worth more than God?
When it comes to church I don’t think many people talk about the money aspect of it all. I don’t know if this is true for other religions but I know it’s true for mine. So every paycheck we believe that 10% of that goes to the church, and this is called tithe. I know to some this may seem outrageous or hypocritical. The way I thought about it is God gave you the job you have so that you can give back to the church. The big question or issue with this is people wonder where does the money go? Well just like a house the church has an electricity, water, and trash bill. Also the nice chairs people sit in had to be bought, as well as the instruments, the sound system, toilet paper, and things for the kids. The small 10% from the members checks goes to keeping up the church and providing the members with a beautiful church. And if the church has an activity they have to buy decorations, food, and anything else they need for that event. At first hearing that people give 10% to their church it may seem like that church is trying to rob or trick you, but in the end all the money basically goes back to the church that person attends. In my personal experience those I have seen give their 10% every paycheck, get blessed in their finances. They say to give your 10% with a cheerful heart and not expecting anything back, because God loves a cheerful giver. There’s a story in the Bible that talks about a widow poor women who gives all she had to God. It’s in Luke 21:1-4 and it says “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” My interpretation of this is to give, even when you have a little. Giving 10% is personal choice but I know your life will be blessed in doing this.
Ever heard the saying “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”, well I’ve heard it way more than I should have. Whenever I hear someone say this I would think to myself “I’m nothing like my friends, we are different people”, but as I got older I realized that I was definitely lying to myself. I don’t want to say that this is 100% true for everyone because in reality I don’t know, but in my experience this saying has proven to be true. I sometimes would catch myself acting or saying something my friends would, and my family would call me out on it. Being young I would of course defend my friends and deny that I was acting like them or that they even acted like that. How could you not act like your friends? You are with them for a big portion of your time. I want to say it’s humans way of adapting to our surroundings, our friends being the surroundings. It’s basically nature to begin to walk, talk, or act like your friends. And this is why adults tell their kids “don’t hangout with kids that do drugs because then you’ll do it too.” Adults don’t mean that we are too weak to stand strong in our beliefs and simple say no, they say this because there is going to come a time when you are going to give in just for your friends to stop talking about it. I know you must be thinking that I went to the extreme by saying “drugs” but it’s merely an example. You could replace “kids that do drugs” with honestly anything like kids that gossip, lie, steal, cheat, etc. I don’t want to say I hung around bad people because I didn’t but the people I did hang around had some bad habits that I ended up getting. Being friends with them for so long I slowing saw myself become a different person, someone I didn’t want to be. I always felt like I never quite fit in with them, but they were my friends so I would push that feeling aside. I honestly wish I would’ve just found people I fit in better with, nothing that they did, because continuing to hang around them changed me. Our beliefs were different and I would very often find myself going against my beliefs just to be like them. You may think friends don’t have a big impact on you but they do. Maybe for a day think about the similarities between the way you act and your friends do.
This is going to be more of a PSA rather than my usual opinionative pieces. Because of all the things that have been going on lately with the presidential elections, the wall, immigration, etc it really makes me think about this saying I would hear growing up, “a christian should always have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other”. Meaning a christion/apostolic should also be aware of what is happening in the world, because there could events that happen that were prophesied in the Bible. Especially with all that has been happening, there have been signs that lead some to believe that the rapture is near. If you don’t know what the rapture is, it’s when Christ comes to pick up his people and takes them to heaven. Those who don’t get picked up stay on Earth when it is said that hell will abide on earth. Meaning there will be plagues and natural disasters (sorry if I got something wrong this is according to my knowledge). I’m not here to try and convince you to believe in the rapture, but I am here to just advise that you start to take a look at the news. Be conscious of the government, the environment, and the entire world. I include myself in this because I’m not one to turn on the TV and watch the news either. But as times get worse, I know it’s more important now than ever to pay attention. As christians remaining aware is extremely crucial, but also just as human beings, it is just as important. No matter what race, religion, or gender you are.
This post is going to be dedicated to debunking the greatest myth about churches or religion in general. Whenever something goes wrong in a church I have always heard at least one person say “this is a church, that shouldn’t happen” or “shouldn’t church be a place full of ‘chirstian’ people”. There’s this idea that church people are supposed to be ‘perfect’ and should never do anything wrong because they go to church, right? Well at any church, just like any other organization, has its issues and mistakes. People that typically attend church are in fact really broken and are trying to find their way. Those that go to church are regular people with regular emotions, and even though they practice strong beliefs, they still are humans that make mistakes. When someone with a church background does or says something bad they are harshly criticized, but everyone needs to remember that church people make mistakes like everyone else. Like anywhere you go there will be cruel people, of course in churches people don’t expect that, but that is the harsh reality of it. Even at church there are people that simply go just to warm up a seat and refuse to change. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and the consequences that follow, even if they’re from a church, the churchs’ job is to try and guide their members. No one is perfect, not even church people. At the end of the day you shouldn’t judge a church based off the mistake of one member. Nor should you base your attendance of the church on who goes, because going to church is YOUR choice. Your relationship with God is between you and him, not you, him, and the people who go to your church. With all this being said there are good and bad people that can be found in a church, just like you’d find them anywhere. I believe people like that are in church for a reason, to teach you to be strong in your beliefs no matter what others do/say.
So this post is going to be a little different than my usual ones, it’s definitely going to be more personal. I’m going to be telling you about how it was for me growing up with one parent in church and the other not. Both my parents believe in God but my mom is more into it than my dad. By this I mean my mom lives by the rules of the Apostolic assembly, while my dad does not. As a little girl I found myself in the middle of what my dad and mom would say is right. I remember a specific time where I was shopping with my dad and he saw some pants. He asked my if I liked them and I told him I did but that I don’t wear pants. His face looked a little focused and he told me that I could wear pants and that there was nothing wrong with them. But constantly going to church with my mom I was taught to only wear skirts, so I was conflicted and didn’t know how to respond to my dad. It was basically that way the rest of my childhood. My dad would tell my siblings and I one thing but my mom had taught us something different. And my siblings and I were mommy’s babies so we listened to her more. My mom and dad’s teachings or beliefs weren’t extremely different, but my dad’s would go against the ones of the church. As I got older I just learned to listen to what my dad has to say about something, but I knew what I believed. This goes the same for my mom as well, at times. Due to having two parents with different beliefs, I didn’t grow up confused about my religion. In fact, I think growing up hearing both sides made me see certain beliefs from both sides. I think now I have different beliefs from my dad and mom, they aren’t super different but they are a mix of both my parents beliefs in a way. I know in my post about “Dating Inside vs Outside” I said that dating someone with different beliefs won’t work out and part of that is because of how I grew up with parents that were at odds when it came to beliefs. My advice for anyone who grew up this way would be to just find the beliefs that you believe in, if that makes sense. It’s ok to believe in different things than your parents. As long as you respect them and their beliefs they will respect yours as well, and if they don’t then you know that you are doing right thing by respecting theirs.
As a young girl I was so mesmerized by the disney fairy tales where the prince falls for the girl and they live happily ever after. But as we all know, this doesn’t really happen. Especially if you’re an Apostolic, by this I mean, Apostolic people tend to date people within in church. Growing up in church I would definitely hear the adults always saying to marry someone within the church. Personally I never listened and I would date outside my church, and how has that gone for me? Well I’m not saying that guys that aren’t in church are bad, but it’s hard for them to relate or understand the Apostolic religion. And I completely understand how the religion may seem “weird” or “too strict”. Even if we put religion aside, it’s hard to make a relationship work if both people have different values. For example, one person may believe in spanking their children and the other may not. (Yes, I do get that not every couple talks about the future or kids while their dating but it will come up eventually. And if not early in the relationship then later.) So should Apostolics date inside or outside the church? I’m going to be honest, I think it’s better to date within the church because when you meet that person you already have the same beliefs. And you wouldn’t have to explain to them why we do certain things and why we don’t. Even if you aren’t into the religion then at least you come from the same background, but if you do take the religion seriously then you get the chance to grow together. I guess this ties to the whole ‘do opposites attract’ controversy. But we like to think that those stories we hear of someone who has been married with another person, who’s the complete opposite of them, and they’ve been together for 20 years are what always happens. Yes, they do happen but when it comes to dating you have to have a balance of both fairy tale and reality. There’s a saying I’ve heard, at least in my church, “flirt to convert” and you do see people from church bringing outside people and they end up basically converting to being an Apostolic. This isn’t always the case, some people just don’t feel that this is the religion for them. And you/your partner don’t want to feel as though they are compromising a great deal of themselves to make the other happy. I guess my biggest thing with this situation is that you don’t want to be dating someone outside the religion and end up being really into God while the other person is not, because you’ll want to share your passion with your partner but if they aren’t into it then they won’t really get it. Of course this can also happen the other way around as well, where your partner is into God and you aren’t. Again, all this is my personal experience based on my life. I’m simply stating my opinion, because I wished someone my age would’ve told me about their experience in this. At the end of the day do what makes you happy. My last advice would be to (1) wait till you know and are happy with yourself before you even think about dating, (2) don’t just date because everyone is doing it, and (3) think about where you stand with your relationship with God. Because if you are trying to figure out whether you want/don’t want a relationship with God and you start dating someone then you could get confused with your feelings, and the feelings you want to feel just to make your partner happy. Dating is like a roller coaster, so just make sure you’re ready for it.
Since I grew up with three older brothers, I was a bit of a tomboy. As a young girl I always wore pants and never really liked wearing anything else. But being apostolic I struggled with only wearing skirts, I always questioned why it was so important for me to wear skirts. When I was in middle school I would change my skirt to pants before school, because I just wanted to be like everyone else. I’m pretty sure I am not the only Apostoolic girl that did that. I would ask myself ‘would God really send me to hell for just wearing pants’. As I got a little older and I chose got baptised, my new fear was seeing someone from my church while I wasn’t wearing a skirt. I was scared of what they would think about me. And even after getting baptised, and still to this day, I still ask myself the same question. I remember constantly talking about this with some church friends. When my church girl friends and I would hangout, we would rack our brains trying to understand this belief. We would say things like ‘pants covers up more than a skirt does’,‘it gets too cold to wear skirt sometimes’, or ‘nothing looks good with skirts’. These were the thoughts of about 14/15 year old girls. Girls that were at that point in their lives where it was all about fitting in. As time when on and I kept getting older I started to understand more. Now a days the pants girls wear are skin tight, and if I put myself in a parents’ shoes I wouldn’t want my daughter wearing pants that tight either (my personal opinion only). I understand the parents view of this situation and I don’t blame them for feeling this way. But the times have changed and it is extremely difficult to find skirts at the “right” length. I’m not saying that because times change that we must conform to those changes as well, but we should change our mentally towards skirts. We shouldn’t be so fixated on Apostolic girls wearing the right length skirt, because she could be wearing the right length skirt but be the most lost. And the girl that wears a skirt that’s “too short” could have an amazing relationship with God. That’s all that matters at the end of the day right? The type of relationship you have with God. There are women who are amazing followers of God and wear pants, will God over look all the good work they’ve done for him because they wore pants? Instead of focusing on the length of the girls’ skirts, why not focus on their spiritual well being. I believe that if your relationship with God is pure and truthful then you will know how to dress, because you’ll have the conviction of knowing what is a good representation of a follower of God.