ABNORMAL: The New Normal?

normal

“Normal” is not the safe place it once used to be, and maybe that’s not all that bad. For within what we call normal can often exist narrow and bigoted thoughts and behavior which defy the very reasons why “normal” existed in the first place.  Normal often limits vision, creativity, and entrepreneurial thinking.  We see this played out in schools, in society, in government, in the church, and in most neighborhoods. If one of the perceptions of normal is a majority looking, acting, behaving in a similar manner and even a requirement to be “more like us than them”, then normal is not a place I feel as comfortable with anymore.  I’m starting to feel much more comfortable being abnormal!

I don’t feel compelled to protect normalcy as maybe I once did. I think this has always been a part of my DNA, as I grew up in a small rural town. You see, when you grow up in this environment you can’t as easily create your own cliques because you are automatically forced to interact and engage with most people in the community no matter their social status, how they look, how they act, or what they believe. Yup, it’s cliche but true….that even in a small town there was only one time and place that the groups were cut out into their own likeness, and that was Sunday morning. Oh, I hate saying that because it sounds critical and even cheap to acknowledge that once again; but I am afraid it’s often true.  The only place that possibly rivaled this pattern was the local tavern…the “church” of choice for many.
If coming before our Creator is one of the most accepted areas where we justify only allowing those access who are most like us, then I take serious issue with the establishment that condones, encourages, and allows this to continue, especially if and when I am part of that establishment. Because at that point the church as the denomination and local gathering place can rather consistently be a poor reflection of the God it claims to serve.
Richard Rohr is someone I often quote, as he has helped to put form to my thoughts.  I close with another quote from him:
We keep praying that our illusions will fall away. God erodes them from many sides, hoping they will fall. But we often remain trapped in what we call normalcy–“the way things are.” Life then revolves around problem-solving, fixing, explaining, and taking sides with winners and losers. It can be a pretty circular and even nonsensical existence.
 
To get out of this unending cycle, we have to allow ourselves to be drawn into sacred space, into liminality. All transformation takes place here. We have to allow ourselves to be drawn out of “business as usual” and remain patiently on the “threshold” (limen, in Latin) where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible. It’s the realm where God can best get at us because our false certitudes are finally out of the way. This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.
 
Some native peoples call liminal space “crazy time.” I believe that the unique and necessary function of religion is to lead us into this crazy, liminal time. Instead, religion has largely become a confirmation of the status quo and business as usual. Religion should lead us into sacred space where deconstruction of the old “normal” can occur. Much of my criticism of religion comes about when I see it not only affirming the system of normalcy but teaching folks how to live there comfortably. Cheap religion teaches us how to live contentedly in a sick world, just as poor therapy teaches us how to accommodate ourselves to a sometimes small world based on power, prestige, and possessions. A good therapist and a good minister will always open up larger vistas for you, which are by definition risky, instead of just “rearranging the deck chairs” on a sinking Titanic.
Richard Rohr
So how about it?  Are you ready to be abnormal with me?

Out With the Old and In With The New

reflections

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

We as Christians here in the U.S. are simply not reflecting the mind of Christ. We are affected more by our culture than our culture by us and we as Christians are not a transformed people to the point of having a “transforming impact” on our own lives let alone the world around us.  With new issues confronting us individually and collectively and as the local church continues its decline in attendance, some cower while others take up legalistic positions that are often not reflective of God’s love.   The book of Romans has some very poignant things to say about this:

Romans 2:1:  You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Romans 12:1-2:  1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

These should be sobering words for all of us.  Individually there is a responsibility above all  else because as individuals we are the bedrock of change. But new leadership is critical just as much for reflecting a proper perception of Christians as it is for leading.

A season came and is now going; a new season is coming upon us.  This is the word I am to share with you and it is done with confidence as well as concern.  The season coming upon us, I believe, is new leadership for Christianity in the United States.  I say this without judgment of any specific person or organization; I say this without anger or revenge, but rather with a very sober attitude through observation.  It is time for the current and older leadership of a season that began in the 1960’s to not promote its style of ministry and leadership anymore, but rather to pass on its good works to others and to a new generation that can nurture it, grow its impact, and represent it in a way that can have greater impact on the world.  This new generation of leadership must reflect the love of God by grasping it in a new way.  This is how “gospel change” was always intended to take place, but we lost our way. We took ourselves too seriously and thought “we” were the ones who mattered when it was always God and His Love flowing through us that He desired.  We’ve built our own version of temples and statues in honor of ourselves and are no different than previous world cultures in this regard who worshiped “Baal” rather than the living God.

These words and thoughts have come to me during a very introspective and soul-searching period of my life; a period when I feel like I have lived through some of what is portrayed in Ecclesiastes 3 and also mirrored in the song, “Turn, Turn, Turn” popularized by The Byrds.   I feel I have a responsibility to state what I believe; you can accept it or reject it.  I have come to these places of opinion and understanding out of my own life being torn, ripped apart by others and by myself, and from a time of melting away.  The refining process has not yet produced much gold, but I am committed to that being the end result as I know it requires a melting, burning away, skimming off the impurities, and this process is never easy and never was intended to be so.

  1.  Because the love of God is not central anymore, our current leadership in Christianity does not reflect the beliefs and values of so many and, therefore, has become merely a bully pulpit for some and a “stuck place” for others.  As such, they are presenting a wrong picture of “who a Christian is and should be” to the rest of the world while further alienating the Body of Christ within itself.  The words “evangelical Christian” are being challenged and struck  down as the identifier for many who used to live under this label but now feel it is misleading, inaccurate, and no longer descriptive of what many believe to be a true picture and reflection of who Jesus Christ is and wants to be in our lives and in this world. I am one of them and my journey to this point began over 15 years ago; it is not come to irresponsibly or in any knee-jerk manner.Furthermore, many self-proclaimed new leaders have also discredited themselves as being the new leadership because they have focused on the argument, the defense, and the attack rather than present a new, fresh, and redemptive message.  This is all part of the season and not necessarily to be criticized.  However, some of the newer voices are more of the means to an end rather than the end itself, the end.. in this case.. being a new season.
  2. Some of our leading Christian leaders have knowingly compromised their position.  The election of 2016 has revealed a deep divide in our nation, but also a deep divide within the Christian community.  Aligning oneself with any political candidate or party in a manner that overshadows the love of God has been an ugly process to observe during this campaign.   Both “sides” hold responsibility in this matter.  These leaders, whether national or regional, are compromised and do not any longer represent the broader community.  Tribal thinking (and marketing) has become an enemy of good in this case.  We have met the enemy and sadly, it is us….you and me!  This is not what Jesus the Christ intended; it is not God’s love nor plan for such division to be encouraged, supported, and promoted even if it has been done in some cases with good motives.  It’s wrong in the end.  Unfortunately, some who have openly attacked these leaders for their statements and actions have, in the process, disqualified themselves for this new season because unknowingly they have become a part of the dividing process.
  3. The pulse of our nation and our world has changed.  Since 2007, the year in which great new technological influences were introduced, our nation and world have been put on a supersonic path of change.  It will not slow down but, rather, will speed up.  Old thinking, protective thinking, narrow ministry models, Christian product company models, and even the religious models of denominationalism will have to either change or be set aside for a legacy role because they will be/have been either ineffective or will be/have been compromised in some manner.
  4. MUSIC AND VIDEO WILL LEAD THIS CHANGE, BUT PARTICULARLY SONG!
  • On November 20th, 2015 I published a post titled “Time For Creativity To Flourish”.  I had very little response.  It was my first attempt to recognize where we were at and, based on my own perceptions and that of more recent history, point to what might be a new season that is coming and needed.  If it was too “prophetic” or not prophetic enough, I will say it again that the flourishing of creativity that is redemptive at any level will usher in this new season.  Let me be more specific in my opinion and possibly even offensive to some.  The worship music of the past 20 years is NOT representative of what needs to come.  In fact, it is a false representation of both of the words in its label:  it is neither true “worship” nor is it “music”. Some of you will want to pick me apart on this statement and you have that right.  But don’t think that a successful business model equates with true faith and practice!  Don’t think that a melody and a few chords is musical.  If I need to explain that to you, I don’t think you will ever accept what I am saying so there is no need to get into an argument.  But those of you who do understand, please listen and consider your responsibility and position in this.
  • It will primarily be the song because the song is faceless in and of itself and does not first and foremost promote the artist, the genre, or the person.  I am not saying the others are not valid and critically important to the whole BUT the song in its purest form is as powerful as the wind in spreading its words to those who will listen.  I am speaking this somewhat as a person who has lived his life in this arena and has observed much.
  • More objectively, I point to these 2 historical facts:  (a)The Priests and Levites role as   outlined in I Chronicles and, on the other end of the spectrum, (b) the role of music      in the Jesus Revolution of the 1960’s that was the catalyst for our most recent season  of the Western and sometimes global expansion of evangelicalism as we have known  it.  I will not present a case for each of these here, but rather simply state them.
  • The “song” will lead the way but it must be supported by singers, musicians, and artists of all types.  I am not denigrating historically the role of each type of art since they each are entirely valid and powerful on their own.  But I am speaking a bit more utilitarian at this time as it pertains to the “coming season”.  The song, supported by great singers, musicians, videographers, filmmakers, electronic and traditional graphic artists, dance, and all forms of true artistic expression from “all families”, the concept represented in I Chronicles.*  It is Western in its roots (its radix) but it must be the “tribes of the world” in its representation, in various forms and at various times.  This is not my attempt to put it in any box, but rather to say that it is for the world so that it cannot be “genre-ized” or formatted simply for the marketing of and the benefit of only some.  It is for all!

5.  The “new” has already begun and it is not defined by age, economics, ethnicity, social position or any of the other “divisive references being loosely thrown around”,  but rather by message.  Just as the musical style will be universal, the messengers will be universal in lifestyle, lifestage, ethnicity, and freedom of “the rules”.  When it explodes, this will naturally and without pointing to the conflict accomplish the current leadership being moved to their new season of support and letting go, rather than dominating the landscape.  This will not be a period of conflict in this arena because like the cell phone replaced the dial-up phone, it will just happen….rapidly.  Much of this is being driven by the speed of technology, so technology must be embraced hugely as the railroad tracks.  It is now to some degree, but it is not at all keeping pace with its potential or what is possible going forward.

6.  God is light, we are to let His light shine through us, and the speed of light is the timeframe!  Old leadership often grabs hold, puts a bushel over it, and then tries to build its own brand of light bulbs…to sell or give away as a gift for a donation.  I remind you:  I am not being critical but only stating what is obviously the model for much of the season which is passing.  This generation has once again fallen prey to the messaging that so often has “worked” while eventually enslaving:  FEAR.  Listen, the end is coming.    Wake up!  It is not our role to waste our energy fighting what God has told us IS coming.  It is time to finally accept that as fact rather than trying to protect ourselves and our children from these “horrible days” ahead.  You don’t prey on fear, but neither should we ever “pray” with fear because our prayers will be altered and will become selfish, more about our welfare than that of what God has already planned and put in place.  Do Not Be Afraid!  Think of it this way:  you find an old chair that needs refurbishing, you strip it, sand it, pull the joints apart to re-glue them, and then you finally put a new finish on it!  We are being refurbished as a people but we should not be focusing on our pain and suffering as the end, but rather the process by which we are made new.  There is a new heaven and a new earth coming and the “earth” must be refurbished, refinished, and restored.  This is what I am saying to you.  Please hear it, my friends.  Please.  This is not about me.  It’s about you, us, and everyone everywhere.  That’s where God is…everywhere…so we need to be there, too. Song is the tool, music and art are the vehicles, technology at its very highest level is the connector highway, and the whole world is the market.  Each of these pieces is currently in place and are being created (song, music, tech) but they are not representative of the whole but rather just individual components. When they are further refined and brought together properly as “the family”, then it will happen and we will see the new season announced and to begin to flourish.

The soil is ripe, just like it was when the Levites were leading the armies into war, just like when war and racism were countered by peace and its expression, just like now with political unrest and massive change underway in the U.S., just like now with unrest across the world as the realities of “globalization” are now beginning to rip at the economies and lives of billions of people, and just like now when Christianity is under attack around the world and increasingly at home here in the U.S.  We do not fight fire with fire; there are those who will willingly pick up this mantle and this banter.  But what I speak of here is not about personal agenda but rather, an observation and an encouragement to those who will listen and take heed.  Community must come around this increasingly not as an “against” motivation, but “for” what is good, lovely,

I make these statements soberly and yet with great conviction.  Yes, there will be turmoil and internal fighting as this process of a new season begins.  But the new season will not be held back by this; to the contrary, it will be further validated by it!  I say this from this perspective of understanding:

A.  The Levites/singers-musicians were those who lead Israel to worship but also lead the armies into war!  This was one of their primary roles. (Mark H., thank you for teaching this to me 15 years ago!)

B.  The Jesus Movement was in the midst of and surrounded by great national and international turmoil with the war in Viet Nam and southeast Asia, the assassination of a very popular President, rioting on the streets, civil rights and civil unrest, unrest at a very high political level, and generally widespread conflict.  However, the Peace Movement and the Jesus Movement were not encumbered by this environment but rather they were empowered by it!! Peace in the midst of the storm….music at the front of the battle…song/music/art in the midst of the battle and leading people into worship…that’s the picture to remember as this new season unfolds.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions, but particularly I hope and pray that those who are positioned to be part of this new season will stand up, keep going, and grab hold of that for which you each have been created!

I enter 2017 in a very depleted and weak state in some ways, but in a restored and renewed state spiritually.  I enter 2017 more humbled than I have ever been; my own desire is to be the person God created me to be and that begins by more thoroughly grasping His love so it can transform who I am and what I am.     I enter 2017 having let go of much in recent years; that is the place I am to be.  Now it is time to replace those “letting go” places with all of God’s love, replacing my efforts, successes, and failures with His Love!  So, this year and going forward should be a time of re-filling but not “for me or by me” but rather, just like our calling, it must be “by God, for God, and to God.”

The sentiment of 2016 from many is that it was a very rough year.  Now we must embrace what is coming to those of us who will see, adapt, accept, and most of all–love! 

Footnotes:
*The Duties of the Singers and Musicians
The singers and musicians were selected and set apart to their assigned function. There were a total of 288 singers (1 Chronicles 25:7-31) and 4,000 musicians (1 Chronicles 23:5). They were also divided into 24 courses. Therefore each course had 12 singers and more than 160 musicians. Unlike the singers, the 160 musicians were coming from several families. The ministry was subdivided among the families, and only one family of 20 to 30 musicians accompanied the 12 voice choir.
The real service of praise in the Temple was only with the voice. The instrumental music served only to accompany and sustain the song. The musical instruments used were mainly the Nevel (harp) and the Kinnor (lyre). The silver trumpets used in the Temple, blown by priests only, were not part of the instrumental music, but were intended for assembling Israel to worship at the Temple. The other musical instrument mentioned was the cymbal. But this “sounding brass” and “tinkling cymbal” also formed no part of the Temple music itself, and served only as the signal to begin that part of the service.
Simply put, a LEVITE is a servant. In the Bible, the Levites were those from the tribe of Levi, that were charged with the responsibility of serving in God’s temple. At that time a Levite could be a priest, a musician, or an artisan. But a Levite could also be someone from the tribe of Levi that was in charge of cleaning, building, or organizing.

I am slowly learning how to be silent

 

Image may contain: night and indoor

There is an old historic Episcopal church in downtown Franklin near where we live. If you live here, you know where I’m talking about. The thing that finally got my attention was a sign outside that said it was always open. So, one day not too long ago, I went in the front doors to see if it was actually true; it was. It was quiet, it was beautiful with the tiffany stained glass windows, and artwork that was unfamiliar to me given my simple evangelical background but at the same time just pulled me in. I loved the gorgeous beams that graced the space above. I sat there for quite some time, looked through the hymnal, the Book of Common Prayer, and then stared at the altar with the beautiful gold cross that was well-lit. I prayed, I listened to the quietness, and I felt God’s presence there. It was a church building, but I was alone, and I knew God was there with me. I decided I would come back.

So, as it gets dark at an early hour this time of year, I have spontaneously stopped in on my way home. I drive by the front door on Main, take the first right down that small quaint street, and park my car. I walk in the front door in the dark, and as I look up immediately my eyes are drawn to the altar and the gold cross that sits at the front on the altar with a bright light shining on it. I took a picture of it tonight which captures the feeling of that place in the dark. Tonight I did this again but had only been there a few minutes when I heard the door open. A young man who appeared to be in his early 40’s came in; I looked back a couple of times because I wanted to see who was coming in just out of curiosity. Maybe I wasn’t too sure either about sitting alone in an empty church in the dark! The young man saw me look back the second time and very politely said, “I hope I am not disturbing you.” “Of course not,” I quickly and gently replied.

He then walked closer to the front of the church and there, in the darkened old beautiful sanctuary we each sat in different aisles, just shadows sitting and looking at the altar with the well-lit golden cross. I prayed quietly, as I then heard him slide the kneeling bench down. A few minutes later, all I could hear was his crying, and in my mind I could almost see his tears falling down his cheeks. A few rows in front of me, so when I looked up I just saw the shell of this man, his frame in the darkness with the cross up in front of both of us. I said nothing, I only prayed for him. A good-looking man, with a beautiful sweater, beard and stylish hair, sitting there in the dark with me with the altar up in front of us. My heart was so moved towards him and whatever his needs were that caused him to also stop there to pray, to seek God’s help. I never spoke with him, but through his tears and both of us obviously praying, it was as if there was a connection being made between us. I believe there was through the Holy Spirit. That’s how He works, in a harmonious manner.

I decided to leave, to not bother him, although I wanted to shout out, “May God be with you, brother”, but instead I decided he must have felt my presence as well and knew I was praying for him. Who knows why he was crying: health problems, a parent who had died, going through a divorce, no job and income…something that brought him there like it brought me there, simply to sit at the foot of the Cross, in the presence of God, to hear the quietness of His love reaching out to both of our hearts.

I will go back another night, just to be quiet, sit in the dark and fix my eyes on that well-lit gold cross up front. Looking from the darkness into the light puts me in my place of being only a silhouette, only an outline of an image in this world, while I am at that same moment fixing my eyes on the only hope any of us have, all represented through the cross.

My heart has been moved by this place and by this visitor tonight. God knows us, He is everywhere with us, but our fleshly shield causes us to need the symbols and the place of quietness where we can actually hear Him saying, “I am the Lord your God; put your trust in Me.”

My only reply at that moment is, “Yes”.

“Trust in Me”

About 3 weeks ago I was praying one evening and the words, as if they floated into my mind on a movie screen, were clear:

“I am the Lord your God; put your trust in Me.”

Every night since I have prayed these words with utter confidence in the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  I don’t add to them because I know I simply need to trust.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

And in Psalm 56:10-11:

10In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise, 11In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.  What can man do to me?

Let me ask you:  if we were electing a king for all of mankind, who would you vote for?  My vote would be for Elohim, the one and only true God. You may think it simplistic or naive of me to say this, and I will take that risk. But if we really believe, why should our primary focus not be on Him now rather than on lesser rulers and lesser powers?

The Eternal One, the Alpha and Omega, the great I AM is the one

in whom I will put my trust,

No matter how loud the winds howl,

No matter how ominous the dark clouds of the enemy appear to be,

No matter what governments, corporations, or people try to do to me,

No matter if the voices of perilous times are loud and deafening,

No matter if I gained everything or lost it all on earth,

I will put my trust in Him!

Journeying to my True Self…..

Bruce

We Need Better Tribes

Fantastic post by a true friend, discerner, thinker, and sojourner.

Paula Stone Williams

We Need Better Tribes

Humans are a tribal species. We know it as soon as we are old enough to realize our world has been divided into “us” versus “them.” The American myth of rugged individualism is an illusion. So, we might ask, what do we need from a tribe?

In his book, Hauntings – Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives, James Hollis says a tribal myth needs to answer four basic questions:

  1. Why am I here, in service to what, and to what end?
  2. How are we to live in harmony with our natural environment?
  3. Who are my people, and what are the rights, duties and expectations of my tribe?
  4. Who am I, how am I different from others, and how am I to find my way through life’s difficulties?

Castles and cathedrals are a common tourist destination in Europe. Our deep yearning for these places is a…

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Stop and Listen…

On February 12, 2012 I posted on my blog re-telling my deep experience with God in Bozeman, MT in February of 2011.  I feel compelled to share only this part once again, a part that was intense and was so emphatic:

What does this have to say about our methods of worship today?  Oh God, we say we are “worshiping” and yet it is empty, vain, grasping, wanting so badly to have an experience that we lift our hands to You and You see it as an act of defiance rather than an act of worship.  Oh my God, what are we doing!! Stop It, you are saying to me right now.  STOP IT ENTIRELY.   I do not desire to see your hands when your hearts are pointing in another direction.  I don’t desire this kind of worship.  I desire a worship that is pure of heart and mind, not one that others may think is right, honorable, pure, holy, just.  It’s ridiculous.  LISTEN TO ME.  I AM SAYING THIS TO YOU RIGHT NOW.  DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO GO ON ANY LONGER BECAUSE IT WILL LEAD TO DESOLATION and misery and pain, and suffering and hurt.  Discover the true ME that I have revealed to you in the person of Jesus Christ in my scriptures.  Do not add to it.  Do not distort it. I made it very clear so why do you try to reorganize my thoughts as though you know them better than I do.  Amos.  Read Amos.  There it is.  Read Amos.  I will not forsake you nor leave you without help in your time of need.  But don’t you know that you are responsible for me being dissolved in a solution of sick, sad, abhorrent behavior even in my Church?  Please. Tell them to STOP IT!

All I can be at this point is obedient.  This is one section of a 5 part blog in which I reveal the whole “word” I received. I am grieved, angered, and sad that the christian movement has once again taken a holy and God-breathed expression and tried to turn it into an art form of sorts.  Worse yet, it usually comes nowhere close to art but pure commercialized, commodified music.  It has been turned into an industry and yet I don’t condemn any of my friends who are in this movement of “worship”.  However, worship is NOT the ultimate that God seeks in us, especially when it is driven to appease and appeal in order to attract more people.  God does not need this kind of help from us when in the process we distort what He really desires.  If just once we would all truly see God through His Son Jesus, would our worship look like it does on most church stages every Sunday morning?  Please consider this.  He desires a worship that his pure in heart and mind.  Why?  So that we see Him and so we reflect who He is in our daily lives.  It’s not an exercise we can just enter into that through repetition gets us closer to Him.  Furthermore, it is not better modeled in a “30 something” worship leader than it is in an older, wiser, mature christian.  It can be modeled by either, but to assume that in order for our churches to grow it requires getting the younger, hipper, cooler looking “worship leader”  (whatever that means anymore!!) is another great tragedy taking place in our churches in America.

If, when we truly worship Him, like Moses I believe our countenance will change and we will even look different.  Maybe I just haven’t achieved that yoga-like state yet where I can turn this on and off.  Maybe that’s a reflection on me, but I am willing to take the chance of that criticism coming my way in return for being obedient to what I believe God has revealed to me.

Please consider how He wants us to worship.  And if we don’t worship in this way, it is not pleasing to Him and it embarrasses His reputation to others.  For that, I believe we are held accountable.

My Emancipation From American Christianity

Been down this same road, John, for the past 15 years. Many people will question you, but they are mainly those who are representative of the culture of religion you have walked away from.

Good for you. God has been put in a big old box and it has the name of religions and denominations written all over it, all written by people who have been mislead and those who have mislead them. Some intentional but most not, I believe. Nonetheless, they are all responsible.

I desire to know the one and only true God through Jesus. Each of our paths are uniquely found and walked. Those that desire to conform our spirits and our image of God into their own way of seeing him at some point are the guilty parties, unintentionally or not. Our American picture of God has way too many coats of paint on it and they must be stripped away. The terminology, the patterns, the style, the eco system of religion perpetuated by denominationalism …please, may it all go away! Stay with your pursuit. There’s a small army of us out there and it is growing every day. But community for those of us on this path is still critical, as long as we simply don’t make community into the new controlling mechanism either due to a cultish mentality or one that the ego of mankind won’t leave alone to live and breathe as an organism simply desiring to know God.

Not in defiance but out of our own personal and desperate need many in America are sick of the same things in your list and are choosing a new path. I’m glad to be walking it with you and so many others who have simply said, “Something is not right here and I don’t want to be part of it any more!” I hope in the process God is more perfectly seen and known as He is, not as we have made him to be.

john pavlovitz

chain-breaking-freeI used to think that it was just me, that it was my problem, my deficiency, my moral defect.

It had to be.

All those times when I felt like an outsider in this American Jesus thing; the ever-more frequent moments when my throat constricted and my heart raced and my stomach turned.

Maybe it came in the middle of a crowded worship service or during a small group conversation. Maybe while watching the news or when scanning a blog post, or while resting in a silent, solitary moment of prayer. Maybe it was all of these times and more, when something rose up from the deepest places within me and shouted, “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t be part of this!”

These moments once overwhelmed me with panic and filled me with guilt, but lately I am stepping mercifully clear of such things.

What I’ve come to realize is that it certainly is me, but not in the…

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