Erin Rathier

musings of a ragtag heart

This last year, has been absolutely amazing. Not without turmoil, or worry, fear, or sadness, but full of God and transformation, in spite of everything. Our Pastor recently preached a series on Seasons, and the first week, he said, “God’s greatest purpose in all seasons is transformation.” Wow. As I listened to these messages, it caused me to look back on the seasons of this last year. Just like you, there have been good/easy seasons and hard/bad seasons. Romans 12:2 says, ” Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I had to know, did I conform or was I transformed? I was so relieved to see three major areas of transformation in my life.

The first thing God wanted to transform in me, was my willingness to obey Him, even when I wanted something different. I tend to spend a great deal of time telling God what I want and what I think should happen. For quite some time, I really thought I knew what was best. Yeah, you can see where this is headed.

About a year ago, I was earnestly praying for a few things I knew must be God’s plan. What I did not know, was God was getting ready to ask me to be obedient in a very hard way. God asked me to quit my full time job, leave my full time income, forego what I thought was my 25 year plan (seriously, 25 years). God began to show me, that my 25 year plan, included methods and philosophies I did not agree with. After a few months of hints from God, I was finally point blank asked, “Are you with us?” I stepped back and realized, “No…I am not with you…and I am ok with that.”

After the step of obedience, trust was the next phase of transformation. I left a full time job and knew God was asking me to be still for a time, so I would be staying home. Our bills had not c.hanged…my husband’s job was going through changes and his income was incrementally decreasing. Despite my fear and need to fix everything, God kept asking me to trust Him.

The problem was, I kept forgetting the lessons God was teaching me. Over the year, fear would creep in, and I would begin to worry about money, and God would have to again ask me to obey. However, the Bible is very clear, obedience is the key to this walk with God. First Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

As I would again obey the call to be still and wait, my trust would be strengthened. The biggest moment came when I started interviewing for an incredible job, with our amazing, new church. Listen friends, this job was perfect for me, I would love it, I was called for a second interview, let’s be honest, they loved me (at least I like to think that). As I began to pray, God very clearly said, “No.” He was asking me to stay home, and continue to use my home to build the Kingdom, and be still. This time however, I quickly listened.

This is where I saw my last transformation. Our financial situation was still bleak, I was still being asked to stay home, I said no to an incredible new job with a great organization and great people…and I felt utter and complete peace. I finally knew, I was right in the will of God.

As I looked back on the previous year, I was thankful for the hard things, I was thankful for the stretching, I was thankful for the growth. Just last week, I was given another great job opportunity with a Pastor friend, and I wrestled for four days (my best friend told me I was acting crazy), but, I knew the answer was no. I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing, I trusted God fully, and I had peace, just as God has promised so much in the Bible. “The Lord gives strength to his people, the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11.

Here we are, the third week of 2019 and God is already moving. My husband just got a new job, I fully understand God’s provision of moving me, three nights each week we have Bible studies in our home, we have more room to love people than ever before, and I am completely content. Not because everything is perfect, but because I am finally completely obedient. Completely trusting. And completely at peace. I know this means, God is probably going to shake things up and make us grow again (there’s a pattern), and I know there are big things ahead for 2019, but I am excited!

Friends, I am not here to brag or boast. This has been a hard year in many, many ways. I have shed many tears, felt betrayed and alone. I discovered who my real friends were, and I leaned way in. I also began to chase after God with every ounce of my being. I want to encourage you, if you are in a tough season, ask God, what am I supposed to learn in this season? Do not waste this season. Be mindful of what you are planting in the soil of your heart. Open God’s Word, spend time with Him, and worship…worship non-stop. Invite the Holy Spirit into your season, and pray for discernment and wisdom. Be ready to obey, and trust. Like me, you may notice your season ending with peace.

Thank you so much for reading today. If you are finding yourself in a tough season, I would be so happy to pray with you. Until we meet again, chase after this God of ours.

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A few weeks ago in church, our pastor was talking about building our lives on a strong foundation.  We were looking at the familiar story of the of the wise man who built his house upon the rock, found in Matthew 7:24-27. 

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

As the message went on, our pastor said something simple about foundations that affected me greatly.  He said, “If you want to grow tall, you must go deep.”  Immediately, my mind went to my children.  I asked myself, “Am I leading my children to build a deep foundation with Jesus?”  Then, my mind went to all the teenagers I have had the privilege to love.  Have  I led them to build a deep relationship with Jesus? 

I sat for a moment with sadness in my heart.  With my own children, I have been and am very intentional about helping them build a deep foundation of faith, and a real relationship with Jesus.  With the youth groups I have led, I hate to admit, that was not always the case.  It hurts my heart.

I always tried to run a great youth group, where students were loved, made friends, had fun, found a family, and met Jesus, but the deep foundation was not always the focus.  I know, you are wondering how this is possible if I was a youth pastor, shouldn’t discipling teens be the main thing?  You would hope so, but unfortunately, it is not always the case.

Over the last few months, one of the things God has been asking me to think about is how I spend my time in what I call “ministry”.  This is multi-faceted, and over the next few weeks, I will try to break it all down, but it has made me question how we “do” church.  I question, are building organizations or followers of Jesus?  I feel this same way about youth groups.  We lament the statistic of 88% of teenagers leaving the church, and many times their faith, after high school, but we are not making a change. 

William Lane Craig said it this way, “Unfortunately, our churches have largely dropped the ball in this area.  It’s insufficient for youth groups and Sunday school classes to focus on entertainment and simpering devotional thoughts.  We’ve got to train our kids for war.  We dare not send them out to public high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor.  The time for playing games is past.”

Well, I am done playing games.  I know I am still called to disciple teenagers, but I want to get it right this time.  I want see a generation of young people in love with Jesus and prepared to face this world with strong spiritual armor.  Over the last few months, I have had a number of high school students reach out to me and say they feel far from God, they do not feel like they are learning.  Each one has said to me, “I go to youth group, but…” they feel like they are missing something.  We have to do more.  

I have heard these same sentiments for years from teenagers, and I did not quite know what to do with them.  As a youth pastor, my hands were a little bit tied.  The church had expectations, and I only had so much time.   But now?  God has moved my life around, taught me many things, and I am so excited to announce, God has put a new dream on my heart. 

Beginning January 6th, we are starting a high school Bible study in our home, on Sunday evenings.  We will focus on going deep in order to grow tall.  Any and all high school students will be welcome.  We will study the words and life of Jesus, no counting kids, no efforts to attract, no paid staff, no budgets…just Jesus and teenagers.  Sounds like a little piece of Heaven.

Thank you so much for reading today.  I would love for you to join me as we begin studying Jesus with these teenagers.  I don’t know if we will have 2, 20 or 200 come through our front door, but I know we will see growth as our students grow in their relationship with Jesus.

If there is any way I can pray for you today, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.  I love to pray for you all!  Have a blessed day!

Hello my friends!  I know, it has been way too long since I last posted.  I am sorry!  I hope today finds you all well and blessed and filled with the Holy Spirit!

I thought I would write today and give you a little update on why I have been MIA.  As most of you know, 2018 brought some changes to my life.  I had a period of months that were hard, then a great deal of learning and rest with God, and here I sit, anxiously awaiting all He is going to do in 2019.

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If you recall, I left my full time church job, and jumped head first into my full time, homeschooling, stay at home wife and mom job, and have been working hard to love the people around me with Jesus’ love.  I began teaching a few subjects at the co-op my own kids attend, and that has been an incredible blessing.  We just finished our first semester, and I am so thankful for all God has been doing.

I am so anxious to be here with you regularly again, and share the many things God has been teaching me.  It has been a lot y’all.  These seasons of rest and dependence on God are so stretching but filled with so much growth.  This past weekend, our pastor (yes, we have finally found our church home HALLELUJAH), preached the third message on a series on Seasons.  The main idea of the series, is that there will be seasons, and we cannot control when they start or when they end always, but we can control how we live during those seasons.  It has been a good series for me and hubby.  I am always amazed how God brings us right to the spot we need to be.  Anyway, the message this weekend was on Fall and how Fall is the harvest season.  Our pastor eloquently shared that Fall is the season we see the truth of what we have been planting.  Good or bad.

I must admit, I paused as he preached a great message on reaping and sowing.  I paused, because I wanted to figure out, what have I been sowing in ALL areas of my life?

Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Wow!  Something I have heard many times, but as our pastor spoke, God asked me to check my heart.  What have I been sowing in my marriage?  My relationship with God?  My children?  My friendships?  My ministry?  Our finances?  And I could go on.  Am I really surprised by some things going on in my life when I look back at what I planted and watered…good or bad?

It is definitely something to spend some time on, and so I ask, friends, what are you sowing?  This is a crazy busy time of year, but that makes it just the right time to look around at what you are sowing, and maybe what you are not sowing.

Thank you so much for reading today.  I promise to be back on a regular basis.  If you are struggling this Christmas, or just need some prayer, I would love to pray for you!  Send me a message.  Have a wonderful day!

Hey everybody!!  I am so excited to welcome you to the first Bible study I will be offering on my blog.  In my last church role, I had the insane privilege of writing the weekly homework for our Life Groups (small groups).  I did this for a year and LOVED it so much.  When I started this blog, one of my goals was to begin producing Bible study material.  Even my husband has been encouraging me to get busy with this endeavor.  (He’s awfully sweet and encouraging).   However, I just could not find a place to begin, until this week.

I have a small group of friends I meet with every week, to study God’s Word.  We have been working our way through The Story, but found we needed just little bit more.  So, I decided to begin writing material for my group.  So here we are!  My first Bible study material, for the public!  I would love for you to join us as we journey through the Bible.  Even though this starts with chapter 18, I encourage you to jump in.  You can use The Story, or just the Bible.  Whatever you choose.

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I am writing these lessons to be completed over one week, between our group meetings.  So please, work at your own pace.  If you feel inclined, gather some friends and start your own group.  Our friends gather for two hours, with a collaborative dinner and then discussion and prayer each week.  I have to say…they are pretty much our church, and we love them.

I will be offering these Bible studies for free, so come back each Tuesday, click on the link and print what you need.  I am so excited to hear what you think!  I pray God will use these studies to bring you closer to Him.  Please be sure to let me know if He moves in any big ways!  This week, we are on Daniel Part One.  Just click the link to download and print.  Also, check back next Tuesday for part two.  Gentlemen, this is not written toward either gender, however, I realize my cover page may look that way.  Just print pages 2-4 and nobody will ever know!  🙂

 

Thank you all for continually reading and supporting me and my blog.  I hope this Bible study touches your heart.  My goal with each of these will simply be to help you dig into God’s Word everyday, as I approach the scriptures with an attitude of discovery.  I do not hope to mold your thinking as much as I hope what I write will help you discover what God wants to say to you.  Please let me know what you think in the comments or through an email.

As always, you can give me your email on the right hand side of the page to ensure you never miss a post.  Also, look for me on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter!  God bless you!

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Hello!  I feel like it has been forever since we have been together.  Well, I guess it has.  I have been in a really busy season with my kiddos…wow, they take a lot of time.  With so many activities and homeschooling, sometimes the days just disappear.  Anyway, I am happy to be back here with you.  God has been rolling many thoughts around in my head, and my favorite place to work through those thoughts is right here.

I shared with you, a couple of months ago, about the struggle I am having with church.  My feelings of dissatisfaction, because I cannot help but feel like there must be more.  Again, I am not condemning all the churches out there.  I have worked in a church for 20 years, I know many Pastors, and have attended many churches, who are all working hard to build the Kingdom of God.  However, my heart has been stirred by the thought that maybe we need to get out of our own way.  Article after article tells of the attendance decline of evangelical churches in America, and how less and less people are identifying as Christ followers.  While they may not all be totally accurate, I wonder if we need to go back to the starting line.

Eight years ago, mega-church pastor and Christian author, Francis Chan, made the crazy decision to leave the church he started and watched grow to an incredible size, because he felt like something was missing.  The church was healthy, he was popular and known world-wide, but as he says, he began to lose his “peace and humility” with all the growth.  His family spent a few years overseas, doing ministry, and depending on God to tell them where to love people, but eventually Chan felt God calling him home to the United States.  To make a long story short, Chan began a network of home churches, that more fully mimicked the churches we see in the New Testament.  No paid pastors, no building to fund, no stage or programs…just followers of Jesus living out the gospel and loving each other.

A few months ago, I began to question how we do church.  I told my daughter and husband that we need to dig into God’s Word and really examine the church.  I said, “As far as I know, every time “the church” was mentioned, it was people in houses.  The Church at Ephesus was all the people meeting in houses, the Church at Corinth, gatherings in houses, you catch my drift.  Now to be totally honest, I have not dug in yet, so I cannot 100% say there is not something else.  I know there is the temple, but that was a bit different.  I asked the question, what if today, people gathered in homes, studied God’s Word, no paid staff, no overhead, and all the tithe (giving), went to a local or global cause the group decided on?  Again, I did not do anything more than question, because in some ways, I do not want to be responsible to “start” anything.  I keep joking that I have developed commitment issues.  Ha!  In addition, I was not totally sure if this was God stirring or me just reacting to the church search we were on.

You know how God works though, once He starts stirring, He usually just starts stirring faster, and a few weeks after this conversation, I was sitting in a room with a few thousand women at the Propel, Activate conference.   Wow!  Talk about a heart stirring day!  Christine Cain, Lisa Harper, and Lisa Bevere, all sharing the power of the gospel, and the authority we have been given, was nothing short of intoxicating.  During the conference, my daughter and I were invited to attend a smaller lunch where Christine Caine would speak and answer questions.  She of course said many great things, but one thing stood out to me.  At one point, answering a question, she flippantly said, “Well America is the only place in the world where people are paid to be Christians.”  Aaaahhh!!  This stopped me in my tracks and I had to process.  Woah…seriously…I was one of those people.  Again, I wondered, how could God grow His Kingdom, by followers who were not weighed down by a building and staff salaries?

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God did not stop here.  Recently, I have had a number of friends struggling with decisions their churches are making.  They are reaching out to find out what we are doing, where we are attending, just wanting encouragement for their confusion and hurt.  Again, I am struck with the idea of how church, the way we do it, always leads to a numbers game.  We need more programs or staff for all these people, then we need more money to fund it all, so we need to grow, and the focus becomes how to grow.  We decide this growth is good because it will enable us to reach more people. While this is not inherently wrong, and I myself have supported this thinking at times, it seems that with those thoughts, we begin to forget about the people as individuals.

People who do not fit in with our growth plan are pushed aside and even become expendable, in order to keep growing.  We as church leaders will say, “Well, people will leave, but it will be ok, because we will keep growing.”  By church leaders, I mean me.  I have said this phrase and believed it.  (I will share more in another post).  At what point did the people we want to join us become more important than the people God already brought us?  Read that sentence one more time.  I now see there is something wrong with this way of thinking, for a church.  So I am once again brought back to the idea, what if there was no building, no paid staff, no programs, no stage…

This last week, my daughter was assigned Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love in her Christian Worldview class at school.  She came home a little wild-eyed and excited and said, “Mom, you have to read this book.  Do you know about Francis Chan’s church?”  Admittedly, I did not, so we started researching his story, and I was stunned by what he is doing with his house church network.  I was especially struck with what they call their “Practices“.  This is what God had been stirring in my heart, almost exactly, with a few new ideas I had not thought of; namely, using everyone’s gifts and the idea of what fruitfulness really is.

On his church website, Chan asks the question, “If you had no history or exposure to the church at all other than reading the New Testament, what would you expect to see if someone invited you to a gathering of a church?”  Wow!  What a question!

So, what if we had a house church, no overhead, no paid staff, just people, digging into God’s Word, doing life and serving the community together…all the money we give, going to a cause important to our group…what would God do?? How would we grow?? How could the Kingdom grow?? What if it wasn’t about us? What if we weren’t consumers? What if there were no programs? What if there was no stage??  Could be an exciting experiment…

Thank you so much for reading today.  I would love to hear your thoughts on “church” in the comments.  Please know, I am not bashing any church, or the way we do church.  We are currently attending a local church and loving our time of worship and preaching there. I am simply sharing what God is doing in my heart.

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