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.

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.

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.

Appetizers of Annointed Angus

Or….more Sliders of Sacred Cow. I’m just trying to be clever with the titles right now. Maybe next time I’ll call it Burgers of Benevolent Bovine.  I’m not sure. Either way, enjoy these recent posts I’ve done as the inspiration struck me over in Facebook-land.

Bon A petit!

“You know, I think that the institution has made the blue/pink/purple & ambient lighting industry boom in the last few years. Just an observation.” ~07/29/2014
 
 
“My dear dedicated, sold-out, on-fire Christian:I know you are tired, but you bravely put your “hand to the plow” to do a good work for God. Two services on sundays, plus a service on Wednesday, a prayer meeting or two during the week plus other volunteer opportunities… yet, you don’t “feel” what other “on-fire” christians feel, do you? You don’t seem to see or feel what they claim as tangible.

Fake it, though you may, hoping that maybe it’ll happen to you. Maybe you’ll really be “slain in the spirit” this time. Maybe you’ll really get to hear God’s voice this time. You just need to keep that smile on your face. You just need to keep saying the right things. You just need to keep giving more than you can afford to give. You just have to keep believing and confessing and doing… right? The words that are preached aren’t matching up to the words you are seeing on the paper, much less matching up to the life you are experiencing…is it?

But you hear this haunting, still small voice inside asking: How much is enough? When will you have done enough? When is there time for rest?

Maybe, my dear friend…that still small voice IS God. Maybe, from the depths of your being He is calling out to you to stop laboring, stop wearing the mask, stop pretending…and just: live.” ~ 07/30/2014

 
 
“Approx 30AD the Temple Curtain was torn in two. 70AD the Temple was completely and utterly destroyed, literally leaving no stone unturned.Why do I say this?

YOU are the “house” of God. There no longer is, nor shall there ever be again, a physical location that God claims is “his” house and only there shall he keep his presence. There no longer is, nor shall there ever be again a place where people need to make pilgrimages to. He resides in his children 24/7/365 nonstop, NOTHING can separate or change that fact.

The New Covenant changed SO MUCH, stop listening to, believing and buy in to Old Covenant beliefs, mindsets and platitudes.” ~ 08/03/2014

 

Why do people turn back to the Old Covenant, part 2.

Well, part one is what it is. Not much response to it so either it wasn’t response worthy, wasn’t written well enough to make sense, not interesting, or didn’t get enough traction. It is what it is. From the blog-o-sphere-graph-whatsamajigger-thingy I know that the articles usually find some traction and the readership has grown, so, I’ll take whatever that may mean, with “quiet, dignity and grace”. (Kudos to the readers who get the “quiet, dignity and grace” reference!)

Calvin Coolidge is quoted as having said,

“Nothing can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

And in the spirit of that particular quote, which is always visible at my work desk, I will finish this blog post and dive in to reasons the fourth and fifth regarding that age-old question: Why do people turn back to the Old Covenant?

In the first part, I gave five answers. For the sake of saving time flipping back to the previous post, and just to fill up space here, I present to you, dear reader, the answers I gave to the title question of Parts 1 and 2.

The Answers

  1. It’s easy, or, it seems easier to follow.
  2. They don’t know any better.
  3. It is all that they know.
  4. They don’t understand Grace.
  5. Modern churches could not function or work without it.

In Part 1, I dove into answers 1, 2 and 3. As you can guess, we are going to hit numbers 4 and 5 today! So lets take a deeper look into answer number four.

#4 – They don’t understand Grace.

Paul had this same problem, time and time again. This is one of the reasons, I believe, we have so many of Paul’s writings compared to the other apostles/disciples. Look no further than the letter written to the Galatians, Paul makes his case very clear here. In it, Paul confesses how he took Peter to task for reverting back to the old ways. Man to man, face to face, and it would seem very publicly Paul confronts Peter on the matter. Not very “honoring” according to the current trends of today’s churches. Paul straightforward and plainly calls him on the carpet. He records a small synopsis of his history with the Gospel in the book of Galatians for the benefit of those in Galatia who were being led back to observing the Law. In God’s wisdom and love, the letter has been preserved for our benefit too, so that we may read and understand that there is a better way!

In the letter, sternly but I think lovingly (like a father dealing with a child who is growing up into adulthood) he takes the Galatians to task and reasons with them. Paul, mind you, is the Pharisee of Pharisees, the disciples if you recall were considered ignorant and unlearned men. So, if Paul is saying there is a better way… shouldn’t we pay attention? Here, read a few excerpts pulled from the NKJV version of Chapter 3 in the letter to the Galatians, emphasis is mine:

Galatians 3:1-3

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth,before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?  This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?   Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Galatians 3:10-14

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”  But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”  Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Galatians 3:19-25

19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Now, I know that none of the books in the Bible were originally written with chapters and verses attached to them.  I personally hate seeing them, but understand that they are good for referencing things quickly. The main problem I have seen  with chapters and verses is that they poorly break up things which cause many average believers to not see the continuance in trains of thought, ideas, narratives, etc., this is furthered by many pastors doing a poor job of explaining the scriptures as well. I say this here because the above referenced scriptures just don’t do enough justice to the topic.  You really should go and read the entire letter to not just understand the context in which Paul is talking, but also to savor the way in which Paul deals with this issue.

Paul is in the middle of building his case when he pens these words and he isn’t even done yet!  He continues his train of thought and his case for not going back to the Law by drawing a similarity between the children of Sarah and Hagar and compares them with the Old Covenant and the New Covenant near the end of chapter four, and continuing into the next chapter, he drives his point home with a very startling statement regarding the definition of what falling from grace really is.  After his Sarah/Hagar analogy  (in which by the way, he encourages the Galatians to do away with “Hagar” who represents the Old Covenant in order to embrace the New), Paul starts out encouraging the Galatians to stand fast in the liberty they have in Christ and to not go back to the old ways, which Paul clearly states is bondage.  And then he continues regarding those who attempt to follow the law, emphasis again is mine:

Galatians 5:3-6

And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Verse four should give us all pause enough to consider what is going on here. Paul has made it clear that to go back to the Old Covenant is bondage.  Why?  Because you have to obey everything in it if you do.  Complete slavery.  He pushes it further by saying that if you do so, you fall from grace.

Sin doesn’t cause a fall from the Grace of God.  Trying to follow the Law, to be justified in the Law instead of Christ is what causes the fall from Grace.

The old covenant has been fulfilled, stop trying to observe it and follow the rules in it. Pastor’s stop preaching all the time from the Old Testament and the Old Covenant with seven steps to this or eight ways for that. Yes, yes, yes “All scripture is good for….” blah blah blah. Sorry, but I dislike the usage that scripture gets a lot of the time. Yes, the Old Testament is good for teaching, encouraging, rebuking, etc.,… in its proper context on this side of the Cross!  Use it for what it is meant to be used for. It is history, it is an example and it points forward to Christ!

Preach Christ! 

This leads me to point number five.

# 5 – Modern Churches couldn’t function without it.

Let’s draw some similarities shall we?

Similarity # 1

In the Old Covenant, usually it was one man who spoke to the people on God’s behalf.

Modern Christians flock to church buildings to listen to one man relay what God has to say to them that week.

And the difference is….?

The reality of the New Covenant is that every single one of us has been made priests in the New Covenant. We are called to serve the world and each other. Yes, there are those whose specific calling is to help buildup the body of Christ, but at the same time, that position is not held over the rest. With the Old Covenant mindset churches, there is no room for a group of believers to share and minister to each other because the current system revolves completely around a worship pastor and his worship team “creating an atmosphere” of worship for the people (to be receptive) and for God (because apparently he won’t come unless he is satisfied with worship) and then the lead or associate pastor with a “word from God” for everyone. Forget that whole “each of you has a psalm, or a word, or an exhortation, or a prophecy” bit, it can’t work because the local congregations are just too big! There is no room for people to truly speak into each other’s lives because the modern church demands “faithfulness” in the form of attendance whenever the church doors are open.

Similarity #2

In the Old Covenant, the House of the Lord was the Temple, the place where God’s Presence resided.

Modern Christians refer to their church building as the House of the Lord and claim to feel God’s presence in said House much more than elsewhere.

And the difference is….?

The reality of the New Covenant is so much better! God has chosen to no longer, for ever and ever, to dwell in houses made by men. Instead, he chooses to live in you! We, the believers, the regenerated ones, the church, the ekklesia, both individually and corporately become the Temple in which God now lives and he has no plans on leaving! By observing any worship service in modern evangelical christianity, you would deduce that Christians seem to forget this whole part of the New covenant, much less forgetting about his omnipresence! Wherever you go, God goes. Even David knew this, remember? Doesn’t “where can I go where I can escape your presence” sound a bit familiar? You could be in the deepest pit and God would be right there. Nothing can separate you!

Similarity #3

In the Old Covenant, people brought their tithes and offerings (if they could, there actually were some awesome exceptions to that, but that’s a whole different topic altogether, bear with me) to the Lord’s storehouse (temple) and if they didn’t observe the commandments were under a curse.

Modern Pastors, Church Leaders and church-goers refer to the church building as the “Storehouse” and bring their tithes and offerings there by check, cash, credit and debit card and they even mail it in if they miss church. They believe that those who do not tithe are under a curse and the only way to break that curse, is to tithe. The whole redeemed from the curse thing? Yeah, God didn’t really mean that when he inspired Paul to write those words, right?

And the difference is….?

The reality of the New Covenant is that we are called to give according to who we are in Christ, not grudgingly, not out of pressure, but freely, openly, with no expectation of return. It is a hard pill to swallow, but you aren’t supposed to give out of a motivation to remove a curse (that no longer applies to you anyway). You aren’t supposed to give out of a motivation that others will then give back to you “pressed down, shaken together and running over”. That should be the farthest thing from your mind when giving! Like one of my family’s favorite computer animated movies says, “See a need, fill a need!”

Here is the problem, if you chose to give as you saw fit, wherever your heart and the Spirit of God wanted you to give, I would be willing to bet that it wouldn’t be used to keep the local church building going. Well, sir, you might say, “I’m just being a steward of God’s money, it’s all God’s anyways!” Really? I’m just going to shoot off of my hip here with a few things. Since when has God’s “economy” ever been ran with USD, GBP, Yen or any other form of earthly currency? Last time I checked, heaven was pretty self-sufficient with Christ being all and in all. Since when did God decide to “pay” his children with a constantly and rapidly devaluing currency? Yes, I would agree that God has “a hand” in blessing us with jobs, to what degree, I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to say I know. But even for the dogmatic old-testament Christians, you cannot ignore how hard work, by your own hand, was respected. Now, I would agree that God does “use” these earthly currencies to do His will, it does take money to do many things in this world, however it doesn’t take as much money as most pastors speaking behind their pulpits would have you believe.

Does it cost you $35,000 a month to welcome people into your home, get to know them, share your life with them? No? Then why does it cost that much to do that at most church buildings?

Do you ask for money every time your friends and family come to your home for the “upkeep”? No?

Then…

If there isn’t a “curse” to remove from giving…

If God doesn’t have a need to be entertained through worship for his presence to come because it’s already there…

If reaching the people around you really doesn’t cost that much…

If Pastors would stop teaching “sin management”, “seven steps to God hearing your prayers”, “12 steps to Holiness” and “morality” and just preach Christ and Him crucified and the beautiful realities of the New Covenant…

If God’s people were meeting in smaller, more intimate circles and using their time, money and talents for the good of their families, friends, and the communities around them…

Doesn’t that make the modern-day church building a bit irrelevant and rather unnecessary?

Take it for what it’s worth to you.