Category Archives: New (and renewed) Directons

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!

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A Christian Without a Religion

Broken Cross photo by Cantabrigian (deviantart.com)
Broken Cross photo by Cantabrigian (deviantart.com)

“For the last few years, Christians— particularly white evangelicals — continue to sing the words: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders …” but fail to realize the shameful irony that they’re largely responsible for refusing shelter and opportunity to some of the world’s most helpless and oppressed people.” –Thus begins a recent article by Stephen Mattson on Sojourner.com entitled “American ‘Christianity’ Has Failed”.

Thus is also a large part of the reason why I have no words. Why I can’t even…
The irony. The hypocrisy. The pride. The fear. The anger.

This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why I’ve recently deleted my Facebook account. This is why I said I’d written my last Spiritual Drift post.

But then again there’s nothing like a vow of finality to get the creative juices flowing.

My Own Hypocrisy

It’s becoming harder and harder these days to sit in the pews of church and stew in my own hypocrisy. When I hear offhand ‘jokes’ coming from the pulpit about a certain U.S. state being “the land of fruits and nuts”. When I hear fellow ‘Christians’ sitting around a men’s breakfast gathering, swapping stories about particularly touchy neighborhoods they used to patrol as former cops, including the homosexual community, spitting the word between clenched teeth then clarifying, “fags, we used to call ‘em” to nods of understanding and chuckles of solidarity.

I say “stew in my own hypocrisy” because the hypocrisy of the church has been on display for years now. Centuries even.

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. I’m the ‘no rules’ progressive. I’m the bleeding heart liberal. I’m the one practicing ‘hypergrace’. All accusations I’ve heard over the past months and years. Most all given in contempt with a dismissive wave of the hand if not all-out red-faced anger.

I guess those are supposed to be a bad thing. Continue reading A Christian Without a Religion

My Last Post as Spiritual Drift

This will be my last post as Spiritual Drift.

I can no longer find the words.

Since my last post, and given the current climate of our nation, both politically and spiritually, I simply can’t think of anything I can say that would make one tinker’s damn bit of difference. To anyone. To anywhere.

We’ve grown too busy shouting, too comfortably entrenched in our own dystopian universes to worry about the lost art of communication. We run around shouting that the sky is falling, never seeing that it isn’t our God who created that sky, it was us. We are being crushed by gods of our own making. We’ve grown fearful of every shadow because the light of the world has grown too dim if it hasn’t been totally extinguished, never recalling that we were supposed to be that light.

I weep for my country.

I weep that a statue stands at our shore and says, “”Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I weep that our founding document includes the words, “all men are created equal”.

And I weep that no one cares.

I weep for my religion.

I weep that my scripture says, “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the stranger by giving him food and clothing. Therefore, show your love for the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
And says, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
And says, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

And I weep that no one cares.

I weep for the “less than”, for the oppressed, the alone, the wounded and weak, the disabled. I weep for people of color, and people of poverty.

I weep for the poor in spirit, and for those who mourn. I weep for the meek, and those who are hungry and thirst for righteousness. I weep for the merciful, the pure in heart, and for the peacemakers.

And I weep that no one cares.

No, I take that back.

A lot of people care. We just care more about being heard than about hearing. We seem to be caring more for our rights, for our liberties, for our needs, and for our selves.

We care more about the external than the eternal.

We care more for those things that moth and rust destroy, that thieves can break in and steal.

We equate acceptance with approval.

We equate immigrant with enemy.

We equate poverty with work ethic.

We equate disability with worthlessness.

We equate need with weakness.

We equate conservativism with oppression, and liberalism with anarchy.

We have lost the fine art of nuance, and we’ve forgotten that we live in a world of gray and not one of black and white.

And mostly I weep that there is no one to talk to. No one who will withhold judgment. No one who will simply listen. No one who will do the hard work of caring, and who will face the hard truth that we, yes WE dear Americans and dear Christians, are as much to blame for the state of our world as are our supposed enemies, and probably more.

I have no words.

I am at a loss.

And thus, this will be my last post as Spiritual Drift.

God help us all.

The Four Most Destructive Words of the Christian Testimony

This statement could apply to either side of the argument…

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been away for a while. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time over these last several months in the mission field. In fact, I’ve been immersed within one of the most important missionary areas that anyone confessing to be a Christian can labor in; one that is sadly and too often overlooked by so many well-meaning followers of Christ; one that is actually the nearest and most important field within which any of us can work. I’ve been spending time lately in tending to a few of the beliefs, and mending a great amount of faith, within my own heart. And here’s one of the things I’ve been convicted of as of late:

I firmly believe that four of the most destructive words that any Christian can utter to a world that increasingly and desperately needs to hear (and more importantly see) any kind of “good news” of Christ and His followers are these:  “The Bible clearly says…”

No. No, it doesn’t. Continue reading The Four Most Destructive Words of the Christian Testimony