Thursday, August 27, 2009

He chose wisely when given a choice of cups...

One of the privileges I have along my journey is walking alongside others at various stages in their own journeys. It allows me to reflect on this curious path Father seems to have me on and gives me the opportunity to conduct "fruit inspections" along the way. (checkups to verify if I am growing or stagnant in the journey)

Today, I read an interesting part of Galatians in my current singular focus reading of The Message:

The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: "The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that's the real life." 12 Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: "The one who does these things [rule-keeping]continues to live by them." —Galatians 3:11b-12

Over the years I've seen so many people "living for God" in their weekly routines of going to church and striving to find other things they can do that will be blessed by God. Career, parenting, even giving... living for God means understanding some principles taught to them by some ecclesiastically endorsed person and then seeing how they can align their lives to apply those principles in order to find blessing or be blessed by God in their endeavors.

Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.

This is important along the journey! If we take a step back from the popular teaching of the day and re-read the stories of Jesus' time here walking among us, it's pretty clear to see that this was how He lived 24/7 for almost 1,000 days. In the history of the world no one has had the "gifted-ness" and understanding of principles to live by like Jesus. And yet, He chose to enter into what God was doing around Him rather than doing His own thing based on the resources and teaching at His disposal. We even see Him tempted in the Wilderness to live the way we tend to try to live the "Christian life"... getting what is destined to be ours, quicker, by submitting to serve another master. It's right... we know we are supposed to "have" all this so we should pursue it, right?! Jesus resisted the temptation to have it all right now even though that which He was offered was in line with what He knew He was ultimately destined to enter into along the path Father had for Him... and more immediately than Father's way for Him. Given the choice between two cups... the cup of endulgence (which was mostly truth mixed with a little -or huge- error) or the cup of surrender, entering into what Father was doing in and around Him.

What will you chose?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


While traveling the other day I heard all sorts of people talking about all kinds of stuff that occupies their conscious thoughts. I don't remember the precise topic of the conversation that pulled it all together for me, but I do remember I was sitting on a plane overhearing the person behind me explaining how brilliant his business prowess was to the captive audience in his row. I pulled out my phone and wrote a reminder to myself of this simple thought:

Obsessed with controlling things you can't control.

It was a theme I overheard often in conversations on this trip - both conversations I had and had not participated in. In that one moment overhearing the conversation (which could hardly be called a conversation as it was very one sided, but nonetheless...) behind me on the plane Father spoke a quiet phrase that caused all the little subtle things He had been highlighting to me throughout the trip to come to rest on this one simple statement.

It's something we all struggle with at some level and in various ways. Father's been teaching me the lessons of manna from heaven and the feeding of the five thousand over the last year and I had not really put one plus one together to get this one yet (I know, one plus one equals two, but I'm learning this new math that doesn't always add up like all the math I grew up learning).

How amazing is it that we can become so obsessed, even as those who profess to follow Christ, with controlling things over which we truly have no control. Well, maybe some of you reading this may feel more comfortable if I tag on "no control except that which Father permits", but then is that really in our control at all?

Jesus walked the earth for three years totally out of control. (that should stir some head scratching) He was very careful to emphasize that:
John 5:19 (MSG)
19 So Jesus explained himself at length. "I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.

John 5:30 (MSG)
30 "I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders.

John 5:36 (MSG)
36 But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John's witness. It's the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me.

John 5:44 (MSG)
44 How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?

And perhaps the most interesting snippet nestled in this explanation by Jesus is:

38 There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.

39 "You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me!

A large majority of well meaning ministries across the world are geared to teaching "principles" from the Bible, that if you follow them precisely you will be in control of things in your life. I believe Jesus would say "poppycock!"

Friday, August 7, 2009

Out of the Game

I had an interesting experience this week along the journey. Actually, the intersection of several points along the journey this week which Father used as another point of helping me understand just how busy He is all around me (and on occasion my part in it).
I've been teaching at a community college for a couple of semesters. In my summer class I had a very interesting collection of people and since teaching there is part of my "as you are going" journey I am conscious to try to look at the students for what Father may be doing individually in each of their lives. One I've been particularly interested to watch has been in the life of a young lady I'll call Holly.
Rewind a little over a year. On Facebook I came across an old high school friend with whom I had lunch and we immediately realized he and I were on the same journey years and miles apart for the last 30 years. We've since been hanging out almost every week to talk about what Father is doing in our lives and spur each other on along the way. I'll call him Kevin.
Kevin has the unique opportunity of assisting a handful of young adults with their journeys in a nearby community. I've met the group and hung out with them several times. A great group of folks with varied backgrounds and stories. One of the young ladies in the group, like most of us, had lots of hurt and difficulty in her past with which, as most of us do, she had found ways to cope. In her case one of her ways to cope with the hurt involved being in deeper than friendship relationships with other women. I'll call her Mary here.
The other day at lunch with Kevin he began telling me a story about Mary and the young lady with whom she had broken off a relationship when she began to discover the grace of Jesus along her journey. I don't remember all the details, but suffice it to say that Mary's former girlfriend was angered by Mary's new direction and very resentful of Kevin, the group Mary had become a part of, and all that Father was doing in Mary's life. Kevin told me at lunch that day that in recent weeks Mary had seen a change in her former girlfriend's attitude about Mary's new direction. Even making the comment that Mary was happy all the time and asking what was it that made such a big change. Kevin, Mary, and their group have been praying for Mary's former girlfriend to see Jesus and experience the healing that Mary has found. I'm not 100% sure how the punchline in the story wound down, but it was something like "Father has been answering our prayers by allowing her to see Jesus every week for a couple of hours and none of us knew it. You see Craig, her name is Holly."
WHOA! It took it a couple of moments for it to sink in. Mary's Holly was the Holly from my class. The same Holly in whom I had seen an attitude change throughout the course. Holly and I had never really talked about religion, but I had just been myself with her and not been concerned with what Father was doing in areas of her life outside my reach. Always watching and often asking if it was my place to say something Father just said no... be yourself with Holly."
So, I was blown away with that. But equally cool was the realization that what had occurred in this set of relationships served two other purposes in my own life. One, it reinforces the teaching about things and people with which I consistently (whether back to back in time or over years of separation) come into contact not being by accident, but that as I am where I'm supposed to be, when I'm supposed to be there it only makes sense that I'd encounter these people and things again as we are each a part of what Father is doing in each other's lives. Second, for a couple of weeks, maybe even months I had been feeling a little like I was out of the game if you will. It was as if, because I had not been actively "doing" as I had been indoctrinated by religion I was not doing anything. Like I was on the bench if you will. Father showed me in that one brief moment and the intersection of several, up to that point, unconnected lives that when you are being where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there, and doing/saying what you are supposed to be doing/saying when you are there that you are never out of the game. The game is not about me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Checklist Christianity

The churchETHOS blog has a really good article about checklist christianity vs following Jesus.
“Checklist Christianity” is that form of religion that teaches, either directly or indirectly, that our spiritual growth, or even our worth as a Christian, is tied up in what we do. Specifically, the more bible studies you attend, the more extra-curricular “Christian” activities you are involved in, the more you read your bible and pray on your own, the more you are growing spiritually.

I'd add "Goes to church" to his list of items. Many folks won't even count the items he has listed until they know you are going to a certain church... and ultimately if you don't attend a church at all nothing you do on the checklist matters.

It's sad, and unfortunately probably has its roots sometime in the stuff we have recorded in Acts-Revelation, but somewhere along the lines walking with Jesus turned into going to a church rather than being part of the body of Christ. At some point by, no doubt, some well meaning religious individuals, the body of Christ was conceptually split up into "local" and "global" yet if you read all the gospel accounts very carefully you'll discover this never seemed to be on the mind of Christ. He always spoke of His body in the global sense.

What if following Jesus takes you away from attending church as we have always known it and introduces you to something very different... something I'm beginning to see may be more like what I believe Jesus had in mind as He walked among us. Something where He, not an organization, provides the relationships with other believers who will build you up and whom you in turn can build up in return.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why must there be "Christian" this and "Christian" that?

I was just on responding to some messages and checking the schedule for the week to make sure the groups I was part of are on my schedule for the week, and looking to see what new groups might have bloomed over the last week. I've found is a great place to discover opportunities to get plugged as an "as you are going" Christ Follower.

This morning I see a Northern Colorado Christian Business Something Or Other... Can anyone tell me why business people need to have a "Christian" business organization? You have "church" to gather with others you consider likeminded. Why this cultic practice of subdividing yourselves from every opportunity for relationships where you could be useful to Father?

This is directly counter to how you see Jesus walking among us. Other than his group of the twelve he was consistently out among the people at their events and their gatherings. He neither practiced nor advocated a "Christian subculture" removed from the step and pace of everyday life.

Perhaps it's because we have confused being separate in how we live our lives among the rest of the world as Jesus did, in how we determine our priorities with just being separate completely. While those who follow Christ were dubbed "the called out ones" by Jesus, I don't believe we were called out to be closed away, closed minded, closed off, closed down -- a closed subculture.

Your church staff will be very frustrated with me on this one, but let me challenge you to go to, find a group that shares your hobby or work interests and plug int to see how Father can use you in a group outside the walls of the subculture you've been hiding in without realizing it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

They call it a home show...

... and we were there last night.

[caption id="attachment_115" align="aligncenter" width="571" caption="A friend of a friends living room in Boulder"]A friend of a friends living room in Boulder[/caption]

Ben and Robin Pasley grew up in a denominational church setting like me. They did the music circuit for a while, then the church scene, and feeling a draw to deeper family and discipleship began what is now Enter the Worship Circle to mentor young musicians and disciple them.

A friend of mine in Boulder fellowships with a group of college age folks and invited them to come hang out Saturday night and play and sing some songs. It was very organic except for the chairs, which my friend said he set up to help us former denominational types feel more at home.

I'm not sure if it's truly longing for that experience I once knew as worship or the deep seeded messaging all my life that I should be in church every week and memories of the times it was enjoyable to be in that type community.

Through the experience I found myself talking with Father about what worship is out here where He has us now. Part of the answer He gave me right away... I worship as I walk each day with Him. I found myself wrestling with Him about the music, and the friends, and the... He said something simple like "I'm not enough? The people I bring your way each day are not enough?" I said okay and asked Him to help me be happiest in Him alone.

We are beginning our third year walking in faith apart from organized religion. It has been a complete time of life transition for us as all of our adult lives were intertwined as family and occupation in organized church stuff. No doubt it will take time before almost 25 years of addiction and 45 years of indoctrination is purged from our system. Last night was another step in that process. One simple step at a time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Living as the church (or in the church?)

[caption id="attachment_112" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Could this be our new home?"]Could this be our new home?[/caption]

So this is just kind of funny. For months we've known we would probably be moving up more to the Boulder/Longmont area and for most of those months I've pseudo-jested about finding an old empty church to rent to live in. The thinking on our part centered on how wonderful it would be (and ironic in this case) to find somewhere that has enough space that we could offer for other former church staff members whose journey following Father is leading them out of a church vocation, to come and stay with us at no cost until they got back on their feet working some other job/career.

So, we'll likely be moving in the next month or so and have ramped up the looking process. Today while Julie and her best friend Amy were out and about looking at areas and availability of rentals in those areas they found this! Unbelievable. Could that pseudo-jesting have been based on the prompting of Father instead of me thinking I was being funny.

It would be something to be able to respond when asked where we go to church, "GO? What do you mean, we live at the church!" and really mean it!