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.

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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.

Time to “DTR”

For those who are not in the know, in a lot of youth church culture, there is this thing called “DTR”, or Defining The Relationship.  Usually this is taking place when a couple is discussing the boundaries and definition of their relationship. Let’s play a game of “DTR”, but in a different relational context.

Let’s say you have this friend, we’ll call him Anthony.

Now you know Anthony, you’ve known Anthony for a long, long time. You’ve shared many laughs, the occasional beer, many nights discussing the things of life and the world. He has a few kids, a wife and a good suburban type of life.

Got that picture in your head? Good.

Now, let’s say that every time you are around Anthony’s kids you’ve noticed something…odd. They seem content with their goings on in life, sure, but as you listen to them and observe them, you notice how much they talk about needing to be around Anthony. They use words like “thirsty”, “hungry” and “desperate” to describe their need for their father. When Anthony surprises them or does something unexpected, it’s like they haven’t seen him in years. “Daddy came home this evening! It was awesome!” Doesn’t Anthony come home every night? He still lives there, right?

It just doesn’t sit right with you, you know Anthony.

You know he loves his kids, you’ve seen him spend time with them. You’ve heard the countless stories of things they do together, from everyday life to family vacations. The children’s words scream of neglect, emotionally and physically. Their words beg the question of the health of their real relationship with Anthony. Do they not know? Do they not understand? Is Anthony not who you thought he was?

On the one hand, you’ve seen Anthony sacrifice time, money, blood, sweat and tears for his children.

On the other hand, you see his children act like they rarely get to talk to, interact with and be with their father. They act more like orphans than they do children!

Define this relationship that Anthony has with his children. It’s not right, whatever it is, huh?

What if you were speaking with Anthony about this and he acknowledged the issue. He’s known about it for years but that’s just how they act, no matter what he has done or continues to do, the children still act like that. He’s done all that he could to communicate and demonstrate how loved they are. Little did you know, but Anthony is pretty well off financially and only works a little each day from home and the rest of the time he spends with his wife and kids. Anthony has done all he can do, but they just don’t get it.

A bit abnormal, isn’t it? A bit over the top, to be sure.

This is the best picture I can paint regarding the people of the Institution and their relationship with God.

They are desperate for him. Hungry for him. Thirsty for him. They are surprised when “God shows up”. They yearn to be around him but are never satisfied. Despite all he has done to communicate and demonstrate his love… Despite all the encouragement that they need not feel empty, hungry, thirsty or desperate… They keep acting that way.

Ears to hear?

Seeing a ghost…

O.K., maybe not exactly… Click-bait title? More closer to the truth, but still. I saw someone today that I didn’t think I’d see for a long time, or again for that matter.

An old friend and his wife. Now, I didn’t stop to say hello. I really didn’t want to, not at that moment at least. I’m not sure if they saw me, my wife saw them first and pointed them out. We were exiting through one set of doors, and about ten feet away they were entering. I know they saw my oldest daughter, because she asked when we were getting in the car why we didn’t stop.

I apologized to her for now stopping and told her that it’s complicated. My wife wondered if I was ok. I was processing things, feelings, thoughts, etc.

This person I had grown close to before I had left the institution. I looked up to him, still do in many ways. I had shared some of my deep struggles with him. Months before I left, we had a business lunch together. It was the last time I saw him, if I recall. There might have been one other time, but that was it. My last memory is that lunch. Then he disappeared. Business related, I guess. He wasn’t at church anymore, he was just gone. I had tried to contact him and sent a few texts telling him that he was in my thoughts. No return. He had been close to the leaders of church, too, from my observation he had been very close. They didn’t say anything, nor did i inquire. I figured if they knew something and were concerned enough to tell me about it, they would talk to me. It kinda sucked when I deleted his number, mainly from all the un-returned texts. But, I wished him well and thought no ill. I just figured, things were done for now between us, for whatever reason.

Then I left.

Now, between the time I left and now, I had heard rumors and treated them as such regarding his disappearance. It didn’t sound like him. So there he is. And basically, I ran as thoughts and emotions swelled up in me.

Thoughts like, “What if he thinks I believed the rumors?”, or, knowing that people have talked ill of me, “I wonder what he knows of my leaving?” Other things like that flew through my mind and with wife and kids in tow with me, I didn’t want to deal with it. So I didn’t turn my head, I didn’t look back, I never made eye contact. I hope that he understands and forgives me. Hopefully we’ll get to talk alone, man to man and exchange notes.

I extend him all the grace in the world. For whatever reasons the calls went unanswered and the texts not responded to. For whatever reasons, it’s OK. I don’t know what, if anything, he knows about me and my departure. My disagreements with the teachings (some would call it blasphemy…), etc… I don’t know if he is still close to the leadership like he was, and if so, what they have told him, if anything.

In certain instances, especially when it comes to people from the institution I left, I tend to listen to my flight response rather than staying around to engage in conversation.

To a degree it feels bad, but honestly, I think it’s the best thing I can do, and depending on the person, it is usually the kindest thing I can do.

In this case, it was the best thing given the circumstance.

I do hope we get to have a pleasant conversation on our own terms over a good cup of coffee or whatever.

A bit cynical…

I’ll admit, I am a bit cynical with the way “church” is in the institution. This “jaded” view comes from 12+yrs of my own adult experience in two separate churches, knowing the drama behind the scenes at both places.

Add to that, looking at scripture and seeing things ENTIRELY different from how the pastor is preaching.

Add to that, comparing notes with many, many others (some still in the institution and some not) on the goings on behind the scenes at their churches, their experiences and what they are seeing in scripture vs what their pastors are preaching and you start to see a pattern.

Then add observations of fake baptism shenanigans by Furtick and others inspired by him in order to help promote “spontaneous” baptisms.

Heap on that multiple large named preachers/teachers/evangelists using fear and intimidation as tools to keep “their” sheep in check… 

Add to that when I say: Christ is enough! People quickly agree but then just as quickly add their “yeah, but…” and add everything else back on…

Add to that when I ask questions like these…

Why are you not satisfied with the simplicity of the Gospel?
Why must you heap on the extra bells and whistles (or in some cases Shofars and Angel Dust)?
Why do you believe that you must bribe God with worship for His Presence?
Why do you believe that you must pay-off God to bless you?
Why do you let one woman or one man (or both) have exclusive rights to tell you what God is saying or not saying to you?
Why do you let these same people have exclusive rights to interpret the Bible for you?
Why do you disregard and ignore historical fact in your end-times views?
Why do you believe that a “sinner” can negatively “rub off” on you or diminish “your” anointing when the Anointed One (Christ) never had that problem and His Spirit lives in you?
Why do you hold a nation or race above others spiritually when Christ has made all equal in Him? (Yes I speak of Israel)
Why do you believe that the Spirit of God in you is not enough?

…there isn’t a response and they just keep plodding along…refusing the red pill and taking as many blue pills as they can with their shot glass of grape juice.

Is it any wonder why I am so cynical? Is it any wonder why more and more people are drawing a line in the sand, saying ENOUGH and leaving the institution? 

After confronting for myself, the ways things were taught to me (and so many others) vs what scripture is telling me, trying to keep ego at bay and honestly, objectively look at scriptures and seeing certain things taught as false (hence many of the Sacred Cows I’ve grilled)… one starts to wonder: What else is false?

I’m not necessarily looking for the false, mind you, well not any more. But I am definitely keeping a guarded stance and cynical eye at anything coming out of the institution.

It reminds me of the problems the early church fathers had. They battled and confronted time and again people trying to add to, water down or further complicate the simplicity and power of the Gospel. I am not them, and I do not think I am that type of influence on the culture. I just wonder how they kept on? What would they think of everything we have now… from catalogues to order everything from communion wafers and trays to books on “7 ways to hear God’s voice” (a random title but I am sure there is one just like that…wasn’t intentionally pointing that out)? From shepherding the growing body of believers in the beginning, would they really be pleased, at all, with what they would see now if they were able to?

I think we’d be put to shame if we were to get a talking to by some “unknown” believers in beginnings of the church, not to mention how much of a tongue-lashing we’d get from Paul! We bicker and squabble over the smallest things (some of which I’ve taken part in just recently). We make big things small and the small things big. We don’t love unless they are “one of us”, we project an ego of “elitism” and are afraid to go to the world and love them.

Even though I am trying, I know I would be found lacking in love and patience, for example. I do extend it as often as I should, and I am aware of that.

However, I have zero faith that the answer, no, The Source of what I need is found in the institution. Regardless of how many of my brothers and sisters in The Body congregate there.

Within the deepest parts of me, all I want is Christ. Nothing more.

Sigh… end rant.