Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Scattering....Prophetic Voices?

I was listening to the God Journey Podcast this week. If you haven’t started listening to this – please do. Husband and I carve out 45 min a week to do this together. It is fun and also challenges us with almost each podcast. It is part of the Dying of the Cloth With Grace that I wrote about the other day. If you are new to the whole thing, start with the last 3. They are great.

Anyway, Wayne and Brad were talking about how people are doing outside the box of the institutional church. A commenter was saying that he felt that Wayne and Brad were not encouraging people enough to get into a “group” for regular fellowship and worship and teaching.

At this point, I do believe that Wayne almost began to speak prophetically. I bet he would not think that was what he was doing but it sure resonated in me that way. I transcribed the following from the last few minutes of the podcast “Enjoying Real Relationship”:

“In reading through the minor prophets, how often God says I’m going to scatter my people, scatter my people, scatter my people. Then there are other passages that say, ‘Then I will gather them together again.’ And I honestly, and this is the closest I get at times to feeling like I get a heartbeat from God’s voice in things like this, I do feel like God is scattering his people away from their false gods of religious institutions that we served more than Him. (The places) where we got false notions of who God is. That God is scattering his people so that they will find Him again. And then I believe God is going to re-gather these people. But He is going to gather them in a way that is more healthy and whole. (He then talks about all the lumber people are carrying around to build a newer and better sheep pens) He goes on to say, “You watch over the next 5 years the way God will begin to connect brothers…there are going to be ways that God just knits people together as relationships bear fruit.

This gave me a lot of hope. It makes sense to what I am seeing. It makes sense of all the great people that either had to leave or got thrown out of their “pen.” In a huge sweep of history there have been many times that people of God have been scattered. Maybe that is why we feel a bit scattered and disconnected. Maybe they felt like we do. Maybe it really is a part of what Father wants to be doing right now.

Another reader of Wayne's blog said this about the church - again I believe a prophetic voice:

It is clear that God is shaking up organisational church all over the place. When praying the other morning he gave me a picture for the church I left (since then many others are exiting as well) but which I think is applicable worldwide. He showed me a glass beaker punched all over with holes and water was pouring out of the holes. But what was so amazing was that as the water landed on the table it did not remain in little droplets separately but it made a pool which was held together by the surface tension. If more water came near it and joined it then it became one with the first lot of water so you could not tell which was which. God is far more interested in the contents than the container and those contents do not need a structure to keep them together.

Could we be participating in the next big “Move of God?” We could be…. but sorry….. those words still creep me out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memes and My Insecurities

The whole meme thing is stirring something in me that feels very familiar. First of all, for those who are new to the blogsphere – a meme is where someone comes up with an idea or topic and writes a piece on it. They then “tag” or name usually five others bloggers and ask them to write on the same topic. Those bloggers, in turn, write on the subject and “tag” five others and so on and so on and so on. It can range from a serious topic, like say - the condition of the church or a lighthearted topic as in - 10 things that make you happy.

Now don’t get me wrong…..Some wonderful conversations have come out of some of the memes that have gone on since I started to participate in this community in the last year. I think one of my favorites was the one on prayer – maybe because this was such an important topic for me at the time. Others have been fun and informative….some just….well….not as important to me. Have you ever seen a meme on someone’s blog and thought to yourself…..”Oh, I hope they pick me?” (Or, “Please don’t pick me?” :0)

As the last few memes have gone around and especially since Brother Maynard proposed his (which, I think was a really good one), I noticed myself reacting again in a way that seems very familiar to me. A couple of old feelings I had felt in my CLB (Church Left Behind) were stirred in me.

The first feeling is primarily a longing to belong and be important to a group of people. To be noticed. To be thought intelligent. To be the person that someone wants to hear from. To be singled out especially by people that I deem as "important." To be singled out by someone that I considered a leader - even here in the blogsphere (this, in itself is another post) was becoming important. Back in my CLB this was VERY important to me. I worked long and hard to be one of the “special" ones. It caused me to compromise what I knew was right and it caused me to treat others as a means to an end. It created stress and competition with others. I don’t want to go there again.

And then with some of the memes that tag me there comes a second familiar feeling. This feeling is the pressure to conform and the feeling of obligation. To show yourself one of the group. To show loyalty. To participate whether you really wanted to or not. To be nice even when you really don’t want to do something. (If someone tags you and you really have nothing to say, should you write something? If it does not interest you can you say, “No thanks?” ) (Bill does ;o)

See, in my CLB, whenever the leadership had an idea for a meeting or decided to bring in the newest special speaker – most of us were not asked about it. There were not many times in my memory that anyone in leadership asked the congregation or even the "inner leaders" if it was a good time in their schedules for an event or meeting to be planned. It was just announced. People were “tagged.” Your team will do the bulk of the worship, you will be needed for hospitality, we will need you for the sound, and your team for the setup, we need these finances to pay for it – you put out an email to those who own their own businesses. Every one was assumed to be on board, every one expected to be there and I always felt guilty if I couldn’t be there or didn’t want to participate. So I would participate to show loyalty and so that people would think highly of me. My husband would be pressured by me to be there. My kids would call off work so they could support the group. We were the model “Church Lady” and her family. UGH!

In my year out of church life I have loved the freedom from the pressure that I put on myself to want to belong (be tagged) and the freedom to not have to participate in something to show my loyalty or worry about what others were thinking. I thought myself free of those things.

But this whole meme thing has brought it all out in me again. Let me make this really clear. I’m not against memes that tag certain other bloggers. I’m not condemning them or you. I’m just going to be real here and let you know that from now on, if I really have something to say, I will. But if I don’t – please don’t be offended. You can tag me or not - it really doesn't matter. If I want to chime in and no one has tagged me I will. If someone tags me and I dont have anything to say, I'll say that. If it doesn't interest me, I'll just be quiet. I don’t want to play along to just belong, be loyal or not hurt someone’s feelings that tagged me. I don’t want to pressure anyone into participation that would really rather not participate.

Nor do I want to create a climate where someone is sitting at home being sad that they did not get included. I didn't pay enough attention to others in my CLB, I don't want to start doing that here. I don’t want to belong to the “in” group of bloggers. (How sad is that that I somehow think there is an “in” group – Do you see my problem?) It is just not good for me right now.

I have loved the times that memes have just grown organically. Most recently, I loved Heather’s post that generated such good discussion. I loved Erin’s post that sparked so many other great thoughts and writings. I really like Glenn’s and others’ monthly syncroblogs and the feeling that anyone can participate or not and there is no pressure. All are welcome to speak/write.

I don’t want to ever go back to feeling like I need to be something to a group of people to get my identity needs satisfied. I want to guard my heart so that my blog and my friends that read and comment here don’t’ become my new way of feeding my brokenness and insecurities. I want Father to give me that, not you guys.

By the way…my favorite book is most definitely Galatians!! And as far as a manifesto for a church -(thanks Heather) how about having a group where I don't abuse you guys to get my needs met.

(Off topic - I'm tempted to get my husband to help me come up with 10 Memes That No One Would Participate In) (Go ahead and leave your ideas - you know you want to!!!!!)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fun Saturday and Other Stuff

Happy Saturday!!! It is finally sunny and 70 degrees in PA today and i couldn't be happier. Hope some of you who thought spring would never come are finally getting some sun too.

I wanted to direct your attention to a new feature on my sidebar. It will contain posts that I find particularly thought provoking, funny or informative. Please check out those as you have time. Internet Monk (Jonah 4 Club)has been seemingly going through a change lately and the stuff that he is posting is dinamite.

Parents' Sleep Index was one of my favorites this week. She is so funny and we think that the formula to tell how tired you are when a baby wakes you up in the middle of the night just might work. How she did it at 3:00 in the morning, I'll never know. Even on my best day I don't do math.

And finally I'll leave you with a video that we have laughed at time and time again.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Starting All Over Again

Sometimes during this year I have noticed subtle changes like I posted here and here. On days like today though, I wonder if I’ve changed at all.

A former leader from my former church (he was one of the major leaders that left soon after we left) called me today. He is out of town a lot as he travels back and forth to China and Taiwan and it is not unusual for him to call and see if it is OK to just drop by for a warmed up cup of coffee and chat. Today he called to say he would like to come over and ask me a few questions about my blog.

I calmly said, “Sure, come on over,” but you need to know that this sent me into a tailspin.

“I wonder what he wants to talk to me about.”
“There is probably something that I said in a post that he has a problem with.”
“I wonder what it could be.”
“I’m sure he is coming to let me know how wrong I am somehow.”

(You see in my old church I was always afraid of being called before the leaders and having them find a “problem” with me or what I had done. I hated when they called and would not divulge what the meeting was going to be about.)

So I re-read my last few blogs to see if I could determine what the problem was going to be. I really think he would mostly agree with what I had written but my stomach was still in knots.

He arrived and after a quick update on his last trip he launched into his question. “I’m considering opening a blog and wondered if you could answer a few questions I have about doing that.”


He wasn’t there to correct me. He wasn’t there because I was doing something wrong. He was not there to pass judgment on me. He was only there because he knew I had a blog, had a few people reading it and wondered how to start one, how you told people about it and if I had trouble with nasty commenters.

As he left I just laughed at myself. How long will it take before I can receive a call from a friend that I respect and not tear myself apart at how I am wrong and they are coming over to correct me?


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Free Falling In Life

Tracy at The Best Parts has a series on my favorite book (at the moment) Families Where Grace is in Place, by Jeff VanVonderen. Please go over and read the past few posts and then buy the book. It has been a paradigm shift for me as I re-evaluate my past parenting and marriage and what I want to become in the future.

One part of his book that still has me thinking is the whole idea of what and who we are on the inside and what and who we pack onto the outer core of ourselves that people see.

He addresses it like this (my paraphrase). You have two children. Both children do not really yet know that they are loved by Father (God). Both children are empty on the inside and long to be validated. They both long for belonging. They are both lost. But one child packs on “good behavior.” They get good grades, go to church, are the leader in their youth group, don’t smoke or drink, wear dress up clothes without screaming, and would never think of marriage outside another church kid. The other child packs on “bad behaviors.” They dress Goth, listen to the wrong kinds of music, hang out with “undesirables,” won’t play by any of your rules, bad grades and all the rest.

VanVonderen asks us, which child needs loved, needs God and needs to shed all the outer lining of their lives and become real to know Father in his Love and Grace? Both children are headed toward the same place of emptiness. One just looks better getting there. We are so much more at ease with the first child than we are with the second. (I realize that some of this is because the child with good behavior will not have to face the same consequences as the child with bad behavior.) But the point is – both children are empty inside and need love and need to know that Father loves them. Only then will the outer shell truly reflect who and what they are and healing will be able to happen.

I understand this. I even like this. But I hate living with this. Here’s how:

I feel like I have no measuring stick. No way to determine if my kids are doing well or not. No way to know how to accurately judge anyone else let alone know how to even judge my own heart. It is a free falling feeling with no base or ground. Only God really knows their heart or mine. I, on the other hand, have only the exterior to figure out how someone is doing and now I can’t use that measurement in the way I've been accustomed.

I can’t describe to you the sheer, unnerving frustration of not having any way to measure myself or others (Note: not that I'm saying it ever really worked). In my kids’ lives, if they were doing well – we basically left them alone and felt good about them and ourselves (but sometimes only to find out that they really weren’t doing well at all inside – where it counted). The child with bad behavior got the attention but only to attempt to get them to exchange bad behavior for good behavior. We knew only God could change their hearts but it did not make us stop trying to pack good behavior onto their outer self. I was still sure that right choices would produce a right heart. “Do right, Feel right,” was my motto.

But now that all “rules” are falling off - now that I am exploring walking with Grace, I find it unnerving to lack of a set of parameters to assure myself that all is well. How do I evaluate my own heart today? Am I OK? Should I be doing something more? Less? Am I learning to trust Him today? Should I pray for this or that? And how about my kids? How do I help them “walk with God?” For instance, how do I decide if a man is right for their lives? A year ago this man had a very, very narrow door to fit through to be deemed appropriate for my daughters. Now, what do I judge it by?

Being a Pharisee was so much easier. Now don’t start yelling…I know it wasn’t really but it did give a false sense of security that I found attractive and addicting. A false sense of security that I wrapped around myself with a sigh of relief. The law made me feel more secure. I knew what I had to do, I knew what others needed to do and I knew how to determine if we were winning or loosing.

Now that the false security blanket of Law and Rules is gone – it feels so…..out there. I’m free falling and I don’t have a clue. I hope the “Whoever” that packed my parachute was trustworthy and being particularly careful. He promised He would be. If not, there is going to be a terrible mess.
Picture from here. I loved that there was a community falling together. I think ultimately that is what everyone has been talking about the past few days.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Place For Us - Am I Really Ready?

Erin over at Decompressing Faith has a beautiful post on finding a place for those who are not fitting in anywhere formal yet long for community. The post and the following comments, questions and heart cries from many of us have been rolling around in my mind since last Tuesday.

I began dreaming. What would it look like if we that blog together could actually, magically be in the same location for a long while and physically meet together. Could we – who in so many ways have experienced some of the same things and have come to some if not most of the same conclusions – be able to meet together and love each other in a successful and meaningful way? It should be easy right? We like each other now as we read and write.

From what I have seen and read, we are a pretty open minded group of people. We have decided that the box that is American Christianity is not for us right now. We are more given to being open and honest – sometimes brutally at times. We are, as a whole, not afraid of admitting that we are broken. So would we be able to make this work?

Gary Means asked this question in a comment on Erin’s post – it is really my question: Are we humans too flawed to design and develop a community of organized chaos where love of God and others is the guiding factor?

And here is where I had to get really honest. I think we would have a tough time of it. The blogsphere is simply our lives written in antiseptic form. Our posts are what we want to share.

To read my blog does not demand that you labor at all with me. I make no demands of you. I don’t call you at 10:30pm to have you check on my elderly parents when I am on vacation. You don’t have to put up with me always having something to say about whatever is going on. You don’t have to put up with Husband’s endless puns. My kids are not leaving fingerprints on your wallpaper when we visit or crumbs in your couch. You don’t have to put up with the fact that my youngest son is spoiled because by the time we got to #7 we were just worn out. You don’t have to worry that my kids might be a bad influence on yours. (did you know I let my kids play World of Warcraft?) We don’t have to deal with each other’s parenting or lack thereof.

I think you get my point. There is a lot that we agree on but there is also a lot that we don’t have to deal with. And it is this real life “dealing with each other” that relationships break down and friction occurs. It is here that it becomes "not fun" and work.

I know this is not what Erin was really asking…and reading her for this past year assures me that she is not in denial about what it would really involve to meet together with a group of people…but I had to face this as I mulled it over this week. I am ready to have a group of people – a community around me. But am I ready to pay the price to do it? Do I have real expectations of what it will really be like? Am I prepared to love those around me that I find hard to love? We are all dysfunctional to some extent. Am I ready to meet together regularly with those who will bring that dysfunction into my own living room?

Do I long for the perfect group or am I willing to belong to and love regular people like me?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Straw Man Arguments

In my wandering around the ‘net this week and reading about what people are saying about the meetings going on in Lakeland, Florida I have been again pulled through so many emotions as thoughts go whirling around in my head. At times I am ready to just give grace to all involved with a totally open hand and heart. At other times I’m ready to take out another add in the local newspaper and decry, “What the Hell are you all thinking!!”

Again my schizophrenia rears its ugly head.

But then I found an article the other day that made me realize at least to some extent why I am so affected by this whole subject.

The article can be found at here. It is entitled: The Holy Ghost Straw Men: Full Gospel Excuses For Error

While I don’t agree with the author in some of his arguments I do agree with his main point. There are seven main statements that we, in the Charismatic circles, have been taught over and over again to hide bad theology, bad practices and sometimes bad behavior and character. These “Straw Men Arguments” as the author calls them are the arguments that keep us quiet and in our seats and not questioning or thinking for ourselves.

Here are the arguments with just a bit of my own explanation of how they were used in the Charasmatic circles I was familiar with:

1) “We need a fresh word for today” Meaning the Bible was an old word and the fresh and new revealed word of today was really important. When it was brought up that it contradicted the Bible, the re-interpretation of the Bible began with criminal hermeneutics. The “fresh word” was what was important and those speaking it were not to be questioned.

2) “We are not bound by tradition” Religion was dead. Haughtiness reigned as the words were spoken and intoned that WE – those who have a clue – were not bound by yesterday’s traditions. Never mind that our own traditions were just as binding as any that we had left. If you questioned their practices or theology you were told that you were bound up in the old ways and not open to what God was doing now.

3) “God offends the mind to reveal the heart” While I believe that this is actually a true statement, those that wanted to used this against the sheep did so with a relish. ANY practice or any bad behavior on the part of the leaders could be excused because it was good to have our minds offended by the Holy Spirit. If the pastor yelled at you and lost his temper he could state that it was good for you and built character. If absolutely CRAZY things started happening and someone was taken aback or offended, this straw man was pulled out and oftentimes the reasoned explanations were glossed over with just a few words like these. It ultimately made you feel like God routinely needed to offend you because your heart was so blind and bad.

4) “Touch not the Anointed: Do his prophets no harm” I have already dealt with this in a few of my posts. It is the biggest straw man of the hierarchical type churches. We were told that even if the leaders were wrong, we would be saved from bad things happening to us because we were submitted.

5) “Judge not lest you be judged” While the myriad of verses that teach us to judge in and of our own right were forgotten, this one was given especially if we were questioning leadership. It is funny, they could judge us, proclaim our children to have a sexual spirit, tell us that we were full of pride, tell us our cars were dirty and needed to be washed, or hold us accountable for being rebellious but we did not have that privilege to do the same except over our own lives or those that they had put under us. Judgment always extended down in the pyramid – never up.

6) “Doctrine is just someone’s opinion” This one was used often especially if you had any formal training in the study of the Bible. Husband had his Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary and our pastor did not have any formal training whatsoever. Maybe men like this are afraid but we were told early on that doctrine separates men where love and covenant keep them together. At first we saw the wisdom of that statement – who does not know of good friends splitting over minor doctrinal differences, but what we did not know is that doctrine was also not understood or honored in any way. This led to various teachings coming and going with no thought to what it would mean in the long run. No one had any basis for their faith except what they believed the Bible was saying to them. It gave the churches no foundation. They oftentimes had a formal doctrinal statement but had no idea what it meant or how to keep any order to the “new word” that was being spoken. We were also told how seminaries were now of no use and how the conferences of today were going to replace the training of the “army of God.” Many, many of these men had no formal training.

7) “God is doing a new thing” Again, this one was used over and over again. I got tired of God’s supposed “new thing” in our own group. It seemed most times that the new thing was just the abandonment of something else that wasn’t working. The new thing could be the new leadership raised up (because of the old leadership was leaving – again), a new pet project of the leaders or the fact that we now had to all dress up to come to church so that we gave respect to the Apostle who was visiting. And don’t forget the “new things” that were just around the corner. If I had a dollar for the New Years Eve prophecies of the year of the “New Thing” I would at least be $19.00 richer. It never came – but we waited in expectation for finances to be blessed, abundance to spring forth and our church to grow to thousands.

It hit me last night that as Husband and I read through the entire article that these seven phrases, taught over and over again to us, (some) were not all bad in and of themselves. Some of them even had truth attached to them. But added together and spoken hundreds and hundreds of times they became the cords that bound us to silence. These ‘straw men arguments” on their own in the hands of a man or woman of integrity and humility would not hurt many. But put these arguments into the hands of someone who is out to build their own kingdom and you might as well just leave now before you are wearing imprints of tire treads on your backside.

Listen carefully the next time you hear any one of these preached or spoken. Ask what is really going on. Ask, investigate, judge and pray. Don’t be bound by these straw men any longer.
Ht to David Hayward at Nakedpastor for the comics. I bought him a beer!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Shrek - A Mother's Day Story

In light of it being Mother’s day today, here is my very favorite and most funny story from my kids’ lives.

My youngest came along in 2000. (Such a convenient year for trying to remember the birth years of 7 children.) He was and is still to this day the delight of our family.

Being the youngest, we had the baby thing down. See, in the north when your baby is a year and a half old and it is winter, you have to do something to get out of the house. Our favorite past time with #7 was to take him to the mall and walk him around in the stroller. Since he had two older sisters who had their driving license we would ship him off to the mall with whatever adult was free to quiet his typical toddler angst.

He was of course learning how to talk but he had a particular speech impediment that I have heard from other children but none of mine had had to that point. He would substitute FU for TR or SHR. For instance this made a Fire Truck sound like Fire F**k. Quite comical to his older siblings.

This particular year turned out to be the year that Shrek had just come out on DVD. All his siblings were enamored with this film and our discontented toddler could be counted on to be content while it was playing. We played it A LOT! I can quote large passages of Shrek better than most Bible passages. (Any parents out there give a witness?) (I also have large passages of Veggie Tales, The Little Mermaid, The Emperors’ New Groove, Aladdin and Toy Story memorized – just to name a few. Oh, if only Masters Degrees in Disney Movies could be bequeathed.) So as his vocabulary expanded from Ma Ma and Da Da, his favorite character was one of his first words.

Now you need to know that his speech impediment, added to his devotion to Shrek, caused there to be a bit of a stir in my house because, of course, when he wanted to watch his favorite movie he would begin screaming, “I want F**k, I wanna watch F**k. We would giggle and like good parents of the 7th child, we would watch F**k again with him for the 4th time that day. (Do not even try to judge me...I was home shcooling! :0)

Now, back to the mall. The movie store decided to promote the next Shrek movie with a full sized cardboard cut out of Shrek and his sidekick “Donkey.” Our child, upon delightedly seeing life sized cutouts of his most favorite characters, stood straight up in his stroller yelling and pointing at the top of his lungs, “F**k – n – Donkey!!!! F**k – n – Donkey!!!! (You need to say this aloud, slurred together to get the full effect.)

The mall went silent. It seemed as if even the insipid mall music ground to a halt in horror. Everything went into slow motion as all heads turned in our direction. And like good parents of a 7th child we were …….embarrassed……dismayed…..shocked…..well, nooooo ……. if you want to know, we were on the floor laughing, unable to form a coherent thought to try and quiet our potty mouthed one year old.

No flowers on Mother’s day will give me more delight than being able to tell this story again.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I think this quote by Bonhoffer posted by a friend the other day sums up what I have thought about this week.

The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Taking Our Cities For God

Abmo over at Windblown Hope has added another layer onto Heather’s original post that has already stirred so much good discussion. He asks this question about the phrase that we all proclaimed in our charismatic services about how we were going to, “Take our city for Christ.” He poses this question after discussing how utterly hard it is to try to even describe what this might mean.

He says, “Then a thought hit me over the head. How would a town/city look like when it’s been won for Jesus? What kind of a town would it be? This could be fun. What do you think a town/city would look like, if it’s been won for Jesus?”

I have two paragraphs. My first paragraph is what I think they (the churches that I participated with) meant when they said this. The second paragraph is my answer to what I think it would mean if I ever saw a city “Taken for Jesus.”

My CLB (church left behind) was BIG on government. So one of the first evidences to them that our city had been “taken for Christ’ would be if all the churches in the area came under the governmental rule of one Apostle. (Usually this apostle would be speaking of himself as "The Apostle") This would be unity of the brethren that they believed the Bible talks about. But not only the churches. The businesses would also have apostolic men in them that were ranked under the key apostles. The police department, the hospital, the mayor’s office, all would have godly men submitted to the men that God had placed above them. (The Apostle) They believed that then and only then could the Kingdom of God be brought into a city. We were taught that when God’s government was in place then the power of God would be released in a city to experience the glory of his presence. People’s lives would be changed. They would become Christians and be involved in our apostolic churches. Even other denominations would see the unity and want to come under this covering. One City, One Church, One head – the Apostle. Godly government would release prosperity. It would release the favor of God on the city. The city would be under apostolic covering and so it would be protected from the ravages of the enemy. It would become a kind of a utopia. A city of refuge. Crime would decrease. Corruption would not be found and Jesus’ prayer that God’s will would be “done on earth as it is in heaven” would have come into being.

This is what is being preached in more and more churches across our nation and now into the world. C. Peter Wagners’ New Apostolic Reformation and the International Coalition of Apostles believe this. Most of the men preaching this believe that they or a very small handful of men like them are the ones who should rule and reign with God’s blessing over the cities and churches in an area. If you hear the words used like Apostle, covering, governmental, apostolic authority, or any thing like this, stop and ask some questions. In my opinion it is a structure being erected by men (some well meaning – some in it for their own power needs) to build their own kingdom. It has the potential for spiritual abuse like no other system since the crusades. Already, if you do not agree with the Apostle’s agenda you are demonized and called rebellious – not only to the man preaching – but to God himself. They are speaking in behalf of God and his will for you and this earth, and that my friend is just downright dangerous.

I therefore would not use the phrase “Take our city for Jesus.” I don’t believe it will happen until the physical rule of Jesus is on the earth and I have NO idea how that will ultimately happen or how it will look.

That said, let me say this; I do believe that there has been and will be awakenings in cities and regions before He comes. I believe that through the divine hand of God there will be times where the Spirit awakens those in a single region or city to an awareness of the Grace of God in Jesus. Many will turn to Him. If it is a real move of the Spirit it will result in Grace being poured out to the poor and the broken. The key financial aspect of it will be that of sharing with each other as in the move of the Holy Spirit in Acts. The only covering done will be that of one brother to another in forgiveness and reconciliation. The only government will be that of Grace and Mercy to our fellow man/woman. The only refuge will be in each others homes and hearts to those who need a place that is safe. The only unity will be that of love. It won’t be controlled, ruled over or manipulated. The leaders will not find them selves having more power – just more of their own lives to lay down. The city will not be “taken for Christ.” Christ instead, will be received into that city – received into the hearts and minds of individual people who will be changed – thus changing their surroundings.

I would love to hear and read about what you think about this phrase. Please consider yourself tagged. You can answer anything you want about what it means to you when you hear the words, “take our city for God.” But I kind of already know what those whom I read will answer. I already know their hearts and have read their writings enough to know I will be encouraged by their answers. The people I would love to hear from are those who lurk around these sites who read and never write anything. So if that is you today, consider yourself tagged. If you don’t have a blog to link to in the comments section just leave it as a long comment and be sure to tell people over at Windblown Hope that you are chiming in on this one.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

But What Does It Matter

When Father wants to adjust something in my thinking I find he usually speaks to me from different viewpoints, people and perspectives and then in Perfect Storm fashion he brings it all together.

This happened the other day and I find myself more at peace with my charismatic roots and those out there who are still in the middle of all the action. Some of you had a part in it.

First there was Heather. She wrote the following paragraph:

I’ve decided. I’m going to the next level in God. I’m going to be empowered by an incredible, enthusiastic, visionary leader and take this city for Christ. I’m going to be a vibrant, passionate, charismatic believer who takes excellence seriously. I’m joining a vibrant, contemporary, growing church with a powerful message that impacts the world and has a vision statement that involves loving life, loving people and loving God. I’m getting connected to a small group that will move me into that next level and take me into the unknown, teaching me to drink that living water and walk by faith. I have a vision for this nation, I’m going to see revival sweep across this land.

And….Unfortunately, after all those years of proclamations, nothing changed. I didn’t change. I got whipped up into a frenzy, but I certainly didn’t impact anybody around me. I most definitely didn’t get to any “next level”. I really wonder what the “next level” is anyway.

Then Jeff, picking up on the same theme writes about how he is feeling about statements like these and also the happenings in Lakeland, FLa. He talks about how he knows so much of it is really God but how he is still so offended by all the hype and religiosity.

Others have commented on this subject the past week and I can so empathize with where they are at. I’m there too. I don’t want to go back to it. It still sickens me to some extent.

BUT.....I have seen too much. I know that God is there and some (maybe most) of the testimonies of healing are real. I have seen a man’s arm which was broken one minute and totally healed the next (complete with a doctor’s verification and x-rays) by my daughters prayer of faith. He actually looked like he was shoved backwards when she went to reach out to touch him – and she never laid a finger on him. I have seen God work in these kinds of meetings.

So what do I do with all of this? I almost stopped reading the blogs for a while this week because this bothered me so much. I didn’t want anyone else bringing up another subject until I came to peace on this one. How was I going to treat healing meetings, charismatic conferences and such? I’m not comfortable despising them in my heart when I know that Father still shows up and does miraculous things.

Then I found an answer. It came in two ways.
The first came as I was listening to a sermon from Mars Hill by Kent Dobson who was filling in for Rob (2/17/08). They are preaching through the book of Philippians right now. He was given the verses in chapter one where Paul is saying this:
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,” Phil 1:15-18.

His question to the audience was how in the heck did Paul get to the place where he could say, ‘But what does it matter?” This was PAUL. The guy who confronted people. Who challenged doctrine. Who got in Peter’s face. How could he say that he was ok with people preaching whose motives were false or that were doing it out of selfish ambition?

Kent goes on to explain Paul’s view of how very big God was. How he was sure that He was in control. How Paul understood that even with his revelation that was given him, it was still a mystery to him. No one knew everything there was to know. Paul did not even know it in full. So to Paul, he just wanted the message to get out and people to be touched. God was big enough to sort it all out.

The second voice was Molly from Adventures in Mercy. She is talking about how to deal with others who are still in the camp she left. She says,

And while it really bothers me that I’m like that, usually I don’t even realize I am. It’s only in retrospect, during the hours when sleep won’t come and I replay events in my mind, realizing just how grace-less I was in my interactions. My friends and acquaintances who continue to hold my former beliefs: do they have the right to continue to hold things dear that I now reject? Do I treat them with grace and honor despite our (now) differences, or do I make them endure the thing I so hate? “Ahem. Perform properly so that I can love you.”

I need to chill out. I need to be glad that people are being touched by God in a “revival” in Florida. I’m not happy with the excesses or the fact that I would be more comfortable if it spilled out to the streets and was not caught up in just a few personalities. I’m not happy when I sense that the people up front are not aware that their sweeping statements might actually hurt some. I’m not happy that it is not clean and neat and no one comes away wounded. But I am happy for the little girl that got healed. I’m grateful to my Father for touching her that night. I need to find room in my heart that can embrace what people are doing to touch those around them. I need to give them the room I would wish that they would give me.

And so today, like Paul I will say, “But what does it matter.” I can continue to speak out on doctrine and abusive practices that contradict the heart of the Father and are most likely to hurt people that live under them. What I can’t do is paint myself into a corner where I only can hear from or relate kindly to those who think just like me. If I do, I have learned nothing and there has been no change in me from what I was last year.

Best Friend’s advice to me is almost always the same. She says, “It will all come out in the wash.” I just need to remember to use the powder marked as Grace and it really will all be ok.

Monday, May 5, 2008

May Synchroblog - One Year Checkup

Glenn's Synchroblog comes at a good time for me. It is a good time for an evaluation. It was a year ago this week that we left our group here. I mostly face this week with an extreme gratefulness to those of you that read this blog for your encouragement to me this year. Honestly, I’m not sure what I would have done without your love, encouragement, the transparency of your own stories and the ability to be myself among you.

Glenn askes us 4 questions of which I have answered below.

How am I doing?

I think I am doing fine. (of course an outside opinion is always appreciated!) I am looking forward to the next year with anticipation. I have no idea what it will hold but I am at peace that my Father loves me and wants to walk through this year with me. Here are the biggest 3 that I could think of that play into this question:

I still miss belonging to a group. It is a heady experience to have a group of people around you who believe the same things, are committed to the same goal and who don’t disagree on most any point. I have found that this was not a healthy place but it met needs of belonging that I still struggle with today.

I am wary of much of the groupthink of Charismatic Christianity. I will have a post about this in the coming week of what Father has impressed on me as I deal with groups that may be similar to my old group.

I am still concerned about fellowship for my kids. It is easy for us to make the time and get out with friends and encourage each other in our lives. But to take away the physical structure of a body of believers where my 13 year old son can meet other Christians is to limit him from having that fellowship. I told him last night that if he wants to visit a group and get involved with them that his dad and I would totally support him. I get the whole letting God direct our involvement with other believers that people like Wayne Jacobsen teaches about….I just wonder how it works for our kids. Actually if it were not for my kids and worrying about them I would be totally at peace with where we are right now.

What are you doing?

Mostly, I am continuing in immersing myself in the gospel of Grace. I am living a simple and quiet life and trying to love those that come into my house. I run a small business out of my home that keeps me working on a part to full time basis. I have three boys in school, one daughter that is in college and another who is working part time from home and still healing from adrenal fatigue and other complications. My parents in their mid 80’s live just a few steps from my back door and need minimal care at this point in their lives. Another daughter lives in town and pops in from time to time. And the last daughter is with her husband in Philly. I am totally in love with Husband and we have gotten to know each other so much more this year. We have not joined any formal group or church at this time and spend our weekends mostly with each other our kids and a few dear friends.

What are you learning?

As I look back over the past year’s posts I am amazed at not what I have learned but what the Father has been able to teach me. Mostly it has been a year of deconstruction and self evaluation. Simply put, and to quote The Shack, I have learned that Father is very fond of me. I can’t explain in a thousand words all that this little sentence means to me. It deals with themes of forgiveness, acceptance, delight, joy, hope, peace, awareness and on and on. It truly embodies what I have been learning this year.

What are you dreaming about?

This is the hardest question on Glenn’s list. It is hard because in so many ways it makes me feel guilty. We are supposed to dream about things right? Dreams are visions of what makes us have hope. But I am not at the point yet where I have any dream. It is still too hard. The dreams that others instilled in me were not even reality. As Heather said the other day we had dreams of moving to the next level with God, taking our city for God and walking in more and more power with Him. All of those were debunked as I realized that they were just buzz words used to make people think that they were doing something important for God. And so the whole area of dreams has been dashed on the rocks of reality and I’m not sure of myself enough to dream again. In many ways, I’m afraid to dream again. I don’t want to be disappointed. I live with the hope that Father walks through today with me and for me.....right now….that is enough.