Category Archives: Forging a New Path

Persecution…comes with the job?

“Being attacked either verbally or physically is part of being a true Christian in this world. It comes with the job.”

This is something I read this morning from a Facebook page called “The Christian Resistance”. And this is actually one of the things I’ve come to appreciate about social media: despite the differences of opinion, it enables me to dive into the text, to dive into my beliefs; it causes me to reevaluate my ‘position’ on a given topic and either move or affirm my understandings.

The full post says this:

Being attacked either verbally or physically is part of being a true Christian in this world. It comes with the job. If you preach sound doctrine and truth, you WILL be attacked and that is a guarantee. Don’t complain over it and don’t cry over it. When necessary/possible, counterattack and defend yourself, and no matter what give God glory and thanks because the marks of being a true Christian… the marks of belonging to God and not this world… ARE persecution in many various forms.

Several things in here got me thinking:

  • How should we define “sound doctrine and truth”?
  • Where is the mindset to “When possible, counterattack and defend yourself” affirmed through this sound doctrine and truth?
  • “…the marks of being a true Christian…the marks of belonging to God and not this world…ARE persecution in many various forms.” Is this true, and represented in scripture?

Here’s my contribution to the debate, take them for what you will: Continue reading Persecution…comes with the job?

Dammit, This is Not how we Make America Great Again

2 stabbed to death, 1 injured on Portland train by man hurling racial slurs

Source: 2 stabbed to death, 1 injured on Portland train by man hurling r – Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Christians, Muslims, Republicans, Democrats, Americans…My God people, when is this going to be enough??

I mourn for the families of those who tried to stand in the way of injustice and bigotry. I also mourn for the family of the man who stands at the heart of this tragedy, who belittled those women, who convinced himself it was okay to take the lives of those who tried to stand up against him.

Something was wrong within him, and something is wrong within all of us who allow this to continue to happen, and who remain silent in the aftermath of such horror.

35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian was booked on charges of Aggravated Murder (two counts), Attempted Murder, Intimidation in the Second Degree (two counts), and Felon in Possession of a Restricted Weapon.

This is the face of fear.

This is the face of cowardice.

Now, look in the mirror–those who remain silent, and those who self-righteously defend such heinous actions against “different”; whether your defense comes from the bully pulpit, or in the silent sniggers and elbow jabs between fellow “believers”–is your face any different?

Muslims are not the enemy. Headdresses and brown skin and middle-eastern accents are not the enemy.

Oh, we have an enemy. And he’s laughing in the face of our God who we’re supposedly acting on, defending, or upholding. How soon we forget that he doesn’t have the last word, he doesn’t win. And how small must our God appear who needs defending in such evil ways?

We need to do better. For our faith. For our politcs. For our country. And, for our future. America deserves better. The world demands better. And God mourns.

God help me, I’ve missed social media

Okay, I’ll admit it; I’ve missed social media. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s a lot NOT to miss about Facebook, Twitter, blogging, et.al. But one of the things I’ve missed about it is the fodder of ideas it gives me to write about.

Sure, there’s a lot NOT to write about, too. There’s topics that no one wants to engage in because we’re all too busy hoisting the flags of our own opinions. But I’ve missed the inspiration that social media once gave me to examine myself, my beliefs, my truths, and where it is I think those truths and beliefs fit into a world that so desperately needs voices of reason and hope.

One of the things that bugged me most last week, prompting my last post, was a severe case of the “Coulda, Woulda , Shoulda’s”. I let myself get bogged down with all the crap I hadn’t been getting done; being a more committed writer, a more engaged father/husband, a better contributor toward the day-to-day running’s of the house, etc. The weight of the world had settled firmly on my shoulders and I let myself become emotionally and mentally buried. And, yes, I see the irony in admitting this in a post saying I’ve missed social media, but still, I’m just sayin’…

I’ve noticed lately, without the interaction of social media, the artistic muse seems to have flown off to the furthest reaches of my creative imagination. Maybe it’s not the sole reason for my creativity drying up, but it’s certainly played its part. After all, there’s no shortage of prime topics to choose from among the entire world’s opinions on everything from politics to religion to cute kittens to what constitutes “good” music.

I’m also painfully aware that it’s been over eight months since my last book, the non-fiction These Threads of Faith, and a year and a half since The Privilege of Sin. (Admittedly, Kaitlynn just hasn’t wanted to do anything interesting lately, and The Drifter, Nick, just wants to wander back into the forests of Montana and get lost.)

I think, as humans, we are beings born for relationship. Even if that relationship sometimes takes the form of tweets, Snapchats, instant messages, and “likes”. Like anything else, the lure of social media can be abused, but it’s taken its place firmly in our modern-day culture and we’d be better for taking advantage of the positives available through it while remaining mindful of the negatives, the downers, the addictive tendencies, and all that.

So, over the past several weeks, I’ve been making small inroads back onto Facebook (Kent Roberts, Author), I’ve been lurking more and more on Twitter (@AuthorKentR). But, I’ve got to admit, I still don’t see the point of Instagram (thespiritualdrifter).

Like money, potato chips, love and fine whiskey, there is nothing inherently wrong with social media. But, like all of those things and so much more, it can easily be abused by us humans–a species hungry for attention, approval, and affirmation.

And writers are the worst for being clingy and needy like that.

Nonetheless, and BTW…I’ve missed you guys!

On “luuuv” and the Power of Words

I suppose, after writing books and blogs and other such things for over five years now, it shouldn’t surprise me the power of words.

But it does.

It shouldn’t surprise me, with “fake news”, alternative facts, and both the love and vitriol spread wide across social media, the influence—intentional and not—that our words can have.

But it does.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this was one of the main reasons I hesitated to say anything amongst all the storm and rage of this past political and politically religious season. First, because I wasn’t sure what to say, And second, I wasn’t sure, even if I did speak up, how it would be received. And yes, it got to the point where I had written my “last” Spiritual Drift post (which I’ve obviously reconsidered), and closed up shop on my personal Facebook page.

It was only when I did those things, closing the door on the blog, pulling the plug on social media, that I found my voice, and more importantly, found the resolve, to say something, to say anything.

Both the voice and resolve came from this…

Hypocrisy.

Not “their” hypocrisy, mine, as I said in “A Christian Without a Religion”:

It’s not them, it’s me.  My own hypocrisy is in continuing to sit there. Numb. Dumb. Mute. Confused and angered. Unable or unwilling (fearful actually) to speak out.  Because apparently I’m the weird one.

The hypocrisy I felt was in my silent assent to all that was going on around me. I may not have been agreeing with what was happening, what was being said, what was being done, who it was being done to, and why, but in my silence it gave the appearance that I was.

I was agreeing.

I was complicit.

I was approving, conforming, like-minded.

This wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t true.

And once again I was struck by the power of words. And the hidden power of not saying them. The realization shouldn’t have surprised me.

But it did.

So I’m beginning to speak out.

First though, I wanted to thank everyone who commented or private messaged me with their words of encouragement. That meant, and continues to mean, a lot.

Secondly, I want to say that I am not leaving the church or my faith as some were fearful I might have decided.

I’m not.

Yes, I’m done with “religion”. But this is one of the most freeing decisions anyone of faith can ultimately make. At least in my mind.
I’m not following a pastor.
I’m not following a church.
I’m not following a doctrine.
I’ve chosen to follow the Way of a brown-skinned Middle Eastern refugee.

And let me clarify something else. If the Spirit does move me to leave a particular church, or pastor, or doctrine, it is not, nor will it ever be, out of anger, frustration, or selfish motives (“I’m not getting fed”, “I don’t like the music/message/coffee creamer/carpet color.”)

I also won’t stand to be accused of “church hopping”, as I have heard time and time again from the pulpit.

Over the last twenty years, my wife and I have attended three different churches; each move facilitated by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Literally, it was time to move on, and God made that abundantly clear. And, if that time comes again, I will listen and obey.

Hear me on this: I love the people of my life/home group. I have made some cherished friendships within the church.

And yet these were also factors that weighed heavily on why I was fearful to speak out. Why I sat in my hypocrisy for so long.

I didn’t want to rock the boat.

It is only recently that I figured out that I am not, in fact, rocking the boat. I’m stepping out onto the water; mindful of the waves, mindful of the storm, but keeping my eyes affixed on the brown-skinned Middle Eastern refugee in whom I’ve placed my trust.

It reminds me of the words of Frederick Buechner:

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do—to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst—is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed.  –From “The Sacred Journey”

And those of John Eldredge:

The reason we fear to step out is because we know that it might not go well. We have a history of wounds screaming at us to play it safe. We feel so deeply that if it doesn’t go well, if we are not received well, the reaction becomes the verdict on our lives, on our very beings, on our hearts. We fear that our deepest doubts about ourselves will be confirmed. Again. That we will hear yet again the message of our wounds, the piercing negative answers to our Questions. That is why we can only risk stepping out when we are resting in the love of God. –From “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge (emphasis mine).

That is why it’s been hard to sit quietly in church as a pastor mocks those who feel the gospel is “all about luuuuv, luuuuv, luuuv” with hands placed gingerly on swaying hips as scorn lines his face.

Umm, he’s talking about me.
Because, umm, it is all about love.

God is love. (1John 4:8)
God is in Christ. (John 17:23)
And Christ is in me. (Col 1:27, 2Cor 13:5, Gal 2:20, to name but a few)

Therefore, if I am in Christ and He is in me and God is in Him, I am love.

I am resting in that. Almost like it’s a peace that passes understanding.

You see, a one-way ticket to heaven is the by-product of why I believe, not the sole reason. My faith is manifest in how I choose to live my life here and now. Eternity doesn’t begin “some fine day, when this life is o’er”. It has already begun. It has always been.

I am an eternal being.
I am in an eternal being, and He is in me.
I am luuuv!  Proudly!