Remember that you are but a man… — In Pursuit of Mastery

About as spiritual as I have gotten lately. My thoughts on contemplating and dealing with one’s own mortality. I hope you enjoy.

~Tom – LITQM / In Pursuit of Mastery

“Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being […]

via Remember that you are but a man… — In Pursuit of Mastery

Advertisements

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.

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.

Douglas Wilson: “Dealing with Nuisance Lust”

I was reading this post and I just have to share it with you.  I was having a Miles Finch moment while I was reading it.

“It’s just one of those ideas, I’m just psyched out of my mind about…ya’ know, it’s just one of those ideas where you’re like, YES!”  ~Miles Finch, “Elf”

I could ramble on with my own observations regarding this subject and how they relate to his post, my disgust for how most churches treat the subject and how they treat men, the uselessness of “accountability” partners and so on.  But I won’t. 

Mr. Wilson has done a great job through the medium of a “letter” to an earnest christian married man, how to handle to subject.  It’s well done.

So, click this link, and enjoy the article.

Bon Apetit.

Something The Joker said…

“Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

“What?”

“It’s something I say to all my prey…I just like the sound of it!”

~Batman, 1989, The Joker and Bruce Wayne in Vicki Vale’s apartment.

(55 seconds in for the quote)

To loosely quote C.S. Lewis, if you find something helpful and useful here, great!  If not, disregard and keep moving on.

For the past few months I have had that quote by Jack Nicholson in my head.  Without going into too much detail, I have been interacting with people from my career’s past and it has been interesting to say the least.  Along side these unexpected encounters, I’ve had unexpected feelings well up, even symptoms of an ailment I struggle with but have had under control for almost two years(which I will get into in another article) have flared up and physically manifested.  Due to the nature, of these encounters, it felt like I had been dancing with the devil, so to speak.  No, I’m not a part of a witness protection program, nor were these encounters “haunting”, they were just…weird.

Things like this cause me to stop, pause and then ask God, usually internally:  What are you up to in this, Jesus?  Is this something you’ve orchestrated?  What is your purpose in this?  Seriously, what is going on here?

The “pause” is one of those things that I am grateful to have learned from John Eldredge (no, not directly, as I’ve stated before, it is more like a mentoring process through his writings).  The point is to turn to Him.  To look for the redemptive value, to look for God to mentor, teach and father you in the things that happen in your life.  Conflicts, surprises, chance encounters, what-have-you.  I’m not perfect at this practice, but it’s a good one.

X,Y,Z seemingly random events happen in your life.  Pause.  Are they random?  Maybe they are.  What is going on here, Jesus?

I think I’ve talked about this next bit before…it’s a question I struggle with:  I’m not one to subscribe to the camp that everything that happens is God’s will, or that He made it happen, etc.  I have a really hard time seeing him as an all-knowing game-player controlling the entire board of a cosmic version of the game RISK.  I don’t think things are a “surprise” either, but anyways.  However, I do believe that He can and does orchestrate things in our lives for good and redemptive purposes, for fatherly purposes, etc.  No, I don’t have a formula or theory, or a written code on all the things he can or does orchestrate.  God is God, He can orchestrate whatever He wants without my approval, obviously.  How does the “pause” tie in here to this?  Well, I’ve learned that it’s good to look for Him anyways.  He might not have caused something to happen, or wanted it to happen, but He is still there, simply because He resides in you.  This is one of the things that this “pause” does for me.  To look for him in the very middle of life’s blessings and the messes. 

Now, I would assume that most people who believe in God do turn to Him in one way or another when a number of given situations occur.  When they are good, I would hope we give thanks.  When they aren’t so good, I would hope that we try to give thanks for whatever we still have and then ask for His help.

However…how many of us during these times just simply pause and ask our Father:  What’s going on here?

God, I believe, isn’t a trickster.  So it isn’t a pause to see if you are being “punked” on a cosmic scale.  So, again, the “What’s going on here?” question, or however one phrases it, is simply that pause to “look” for Him in everything.  Maybe more accurately, to turn our attention towards him and, for lack of a better word, allow him to come in as father and guide and instruct us.

This practice of the “pause” reminds me that He is my teacher and Father and keeps me open to see that there are many things He wants to show me, and that He is good enough to want to take any opportunity He can as a Father to teach me and train me.  It reminds me to ask him and to be open to guidance.

What about you? 

Have you ever had a “dance with the devil” experience and asked God what He is up to in all of it?

Is this “pause” something you have put into practice yourself?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!