Among the Barbarians…

I’m done. Finally. The withdrawal period from Churchianity ran its course awhile ago.

If your church teaches things I don’t agree with, I don’t care. You will believe what you want to believe and you will see what you want to see. I no longer feel a need to create a blog post regarding something that I see as “incorrect” with the church. I no longer feel the urge to engage in an argument over the same stuff all the time on Facebook. What’s funny to me is that I notice people still argue over the same things: tithing, worship, dress code, alcohol, cussing, legalism, etc., ad infinitum.

Literally, same shit, different day.

It reminds me of the song lyrics of “What it’s worth” which go, “Singing songs and carrying signs. Mostly say, hooray for our side”. That’s what it feels like and I just don’t care anymore. It’s a big joke and I’m not laughing anymore. Not even going to listen to the same old lines.

Literally zero fucks given.

 

Here’s the thing: I want the real thing. The real Christianity. I haven’t found it. I’ve seen glimmers of it, like the sun being reflected off the water in a fast flowing stream. Here one moment, gone the next, here again, gone again. The closest thing I have come to in regards to a real “picture” of our Lord and Savior, our Elder Brother, our One True Reflection of the Father, is in the book “Beautiful Outlaw” and in the audio series “The Life of Jesus”, both by John Eldredge. On the whole, they are a “retelling” of the Gospels. It’s the most riveting description of Jesus that makes me want the real thing. I’m not saying it’s 100% accurate, either. There are things I don’t necessarily agree with him on in his writings, or teachings, however he has been a great help over the years. This isn’t a book review. This isn’t even to praise John Eldredge. I mention those things here on the off-chance that you even care about what I am getting at.

You see, I don’t see that Jesus being discussed and shared in the Institutional Church. When I was a leader, I tried to bring that Jesus in. Some took to it, the majority didn’t. They wanted gentle lover, school boy, creepy religious Jesus. Enough, it’s not about that.

Inside and outside the Institutional Church has profited me about the same, spiritually, within being outside profiting me slightly more. Why? All I know is that I know enough to know that I have more planks in my eyes than I thought I did when I was in the IC.

Let me try it this way.

The early converts to Christianity from Ireland used to call the Holy Spirit, ‘The Wild Goose’. Because the call of the Wild Goose was haunting and to follow it over the moors and foggy areas into the Wild could be dangerous. Forgive me if I am slightly inaccurate here, just stay with me. In ancient Greece, the term “barbarian” could refer to anyone of a different culture. In Roman times, it was used for many peoples, Germanics, Celts and Gauls to name a few. They were the people “outside” the protection and borders of the empire. Outside the city gates.

Those outside the gates of the IC are barbarians.

I don’t hear any semblance of the call of the Wild Goose inside the borders of the “kingdom” of the IC. Once outside the city walls and in barbarian territory, venturing ever outward, away from the IC, I could barely, barely hear it carried on the wind.

Does the word picture make sense?

I want the real thing. The real Jesus of Nazareth. I know more “of” Him than I actually “know” Him. Do you know him or are you just leaning on your theological degree, or your latest euphoric worship experience? Just because we know His words in the Gospels doesn’t mean we know him. Do you know him like you know your best friend, or your close neighbor, or your brother?

Isn’t that the offer? To know Him?

Why would He say, “I never knew you.”, if that wasn’t the offer.

And honestly, it should scare the living shit out of us that we do not know Him!

I think I am looking for a different kingdom, a different city. Where the battle hardened soldier and the young choir boy can agree on the character and nature of Christ, because they know Him. Where the career criminal and the old lady who sits in the second row of your church can relate to each other about their experience of Jesus, because they know Him.

It’s probably out there, amid the lands of the barbarians. And I am content being out here in the wild, among barbarians for now. To paint another word picture: Their lives are unfettered, their communities are close-knit, their words are true, their mead is good, their feasting is magnificent and their tattoos are pretty damn epic.

The truth is that none of us escape this life alive. The only one that we know of that has come back from the grave is the one we place our mustard seed of faith in. And all we know is that He is preparing a place for us.

That’s it.

You and I have to deal with this black wall of Mortality that creeps ever closer to us each and every day. Not a single one of us knows the day that we will meet our end. We just know it’s coming. And if we are truly honest with each other and ourselves. We would admit that none of us, not a single one, can see past that curtain. You don’t get to. I personally suspect anyone who boasts of being able to see through that curtain as trying to manipulate or sell me something.

If He truly is preparing a place for us, then we need to know him. Really know him. He would be our only glimpse of what is over there and only because He came back.

I can’t settle for anything less than actually knowing Him.

Really.

I can’t waste my time on anything less.

I won’t.

Easter Morning 

He sat looking out of his window on Easter morning. “Holy”days had began to come and go without notice and time had passed. He was older now, much older, spending the years trying to live a life worth living. Fighting, striving, pursuing, reaching, attaining and moving on to the next goal.After all these years of being unplugged, a small part of him ached for he old way. The show, the concert, the participants. Even if it was all it was, a show. 

Too late for that now.

The rain fell, meeting the ground below him. Raindrops occasionally having their trajectory changed by the wind met his windowpane with gentle taps. The house was quiet save for the rain.

He thought on death, as he found himself doing at least weekly.

“Is this all there really is?” 
“Is there more?”

He had acknowledged years before that, despite what faith he had, he could not see past his own death. Some, maybe more “faithful” than he, would say that they could see heaven or some other nonsense. But he couldn’t. It was just black.

Blackness.

Not of hell or torment. Just black.

Like a wall, barring him from seeing the other side.

He accepted this as it is. Mortals do not get to see beyond that wall. It defeats the purpose. You must accept death as inevitable and move ever closer to that wall day after day.

But what of The Man? His thoughts would always drift there. The Friend, The One. His heart could not let go of Him no matter how much he faced. This one that had so long ago broken back through the wall. Or at least that’s what the tales said.

That is what his heart had accepted long ago.

And that was his only link. His only lifeline that reconciled whatever was beyond the wall to his life now.

Most times he felt like that lifeline was as frail as a child’s kite string. But it held. Was he holding on to it, or was it fastened tight to him? He couldn’t tell. But it was the only thing anchoring him to The Friend. But it was there, as always. No matter where his thoughts and actions took him, the line was always there.

“Is it still true?”

The man bowed his head and spoke from deep within his heart, words barely audible. There was no great vision, no angels, no light from heaven. Just the rain and the words to his Friend.

He breathed in deep and let out a sigh as he stood from his chair and walked into his kitchen for a few moments. Coming back, he kneeled before the window and looked out at the beauty of the morning. In his right hand was a piece of bread, torn from a pre sliced loaf in his fridge. In his left was a cup of water.

In the quiet of the morning, before the rest of the household woke up. He kneeled there with his Friend and acknowledged Him once again.

“this is Your body, that was broken for me, I take this and remember You… This is your blood that was spilled for me, I take this and remember you…”

Hope deferred

Here’s the thing:
I want the King to come.
I want to go that glorious feast; the one that I am sure Jesus was thinking about with a smile on his lips and wink in his eye when he revealed his Glory at the Wedding in Cana.
I want to see that He really has prepared a special place, just for me and to know my True Name.
I want an end to the pain and hurt.

I want hearts fully restored, healed and glorified.

I want to see tears of joy as people are united with loved ones long since gone.

I want to see husbands and wives reunited.

I want to see children reunited with their parents.
I want to see the One who has held onto me more than I ever could to Him.
I want to see restoration, redemption, and reconciliation everywhere that I look.
I want that all to happen, in an instant.
As the book of Proverbs so aptly states: Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
We need to stop giving these people the time of day.
We need to borrow a lesson from the Babylonian captivity and go about our lives and look for the ways we are supposed to bring God’s Kingdom here…

Still here: thinking, stewing, chewing, digesting and reflecting

I’m still around. I’ve been slowing down on this blog for a couple reasons.

  • I’m trying to make progress on Endure and let my fiction “skills” fly.
  • I’m also juggling the S4F site.

As the inspiration or recent event grabs me, I’ll make a small comment or prepare a small slider of sacred cow over at the LITQM Facebook page, like this one:

10/26/14 When a guest or “special” speaker is at your church for a few days, and he/she keeps encouraging you to come back because she/he will be revealing “some things” God has been showing them, notice as you attend every meeting that you will never hear “the things” that God has been showing them. Instead you will get vague hints, but never any real substance. Then the pastors will get up and talk about some of the “things” that the speaker has revealed to them about what God is doing, again, with all the same vagueness. Well, at least that is my experience from the last 12 years or so… over and over and over again. #baitandswitch #hooklineandsinker #sheepgettingfleeced #smokeandmirrors #poorsalesmanship #foolmeonceshameonyoufoolmetwiceshameonme
On my count, there are 10 more posts over on the FB page, so definitely check those out.
 
Mainly though, I’ve been chewing on a lot of different things and trying to listen more than anything. I’ve been listening to different views and perspectives from people of all walks of life, really. From conservative to liberal, christian to atheist, straight to transgender, you name it, I’ve probably read/listened to a view or two recently. As I listen I’ve been, as the title suggests, thinking, stewing, chewing, digesting and reflecting on what each of these voices have to say. Even if it was hard or difficult to read or hear. I don’t voice my opinion, because that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to listen and think.
 
I would like to continue the “Sam” series. I believe there are a few things left unsaid there, but the muse isn’t with me to finish it at this point. I recognize that now. All in its time, I guess.
 
Many thanks to the 108 followers.
 
Feel free to drop a line. I don’t bite.
 
~tom @ LITQM

Is your church worship “pagan”?

I’ve spoken many times regarding the sacred cow of worship, this article nails it down in many ways.

Check it here, “Is your church worship more pagan than christian?”

But, but, but! What about the scriptures that talk about “coming into His presence/temple/gates” with “thanksgiving and praise”? What about “he inhabits the praises of his people”?

Wrong covenant, sorry.

Inspired by the comedic words of a “blue-collar” comedian,

“If you think that singing songs is what moves God, you might be a pagan christian.”

“If you think that God needs to be entertained for his Presence to come, you might be a pagan christian”…. i could go on, but I’ll stop.