Friday, July 15, 2011

Spoon Fed

There comes a time in every persons life, when mom's supposed to teach you how to feed yourself. Then how to fix a meal and create meal plans that will help you grow and be sustained in life,without living at the big two. "Mac D's and B. King".

We're raising generations who've learned to use utensils, but then only where someone makes it all for us and spoon feeds us with a paper wrapper. No planning, no shopping, no pots and pans, no cooking time, no setting tables, no cleaning up or doing dishes and putting them away... VOILA'. Order it, eat it, crush the paper up in 10 sec., throw it in the trash (or out your car window) and you're off to more personal entertainment.....

Well, if that's what you've been taught is cool, then why would you want to do or learn anything different. Anything else would be un-natural and take way to much effort. Where's the remote for cryin out loud!

So, of course I was speaking of the natural diet, and now I'll take the red pill, and discuss it in the supernatural diet and the supernatural restaurant we call church.

blogging is so interesting because it's not a "position paper" or a crafted sermon or an edited article. It's a journel on continuous thought. It let's people know what's really going on in your head without all the "handlers" and editors. It's why most who read blogs dislike seeing parts of peoples books quoted and such. Gee, we can read books every day, but we cant see into the minds and lives of peoples real journey.

I remember once, years ago, having written something about someone without using names, but "someone" read it and figured it out and "schooled me" about writing that while at the same time telling me not to take it off the blog because that would break a cardinal rule of truth and honesty and transparency in blogging.

Ok back to point on "spoon feeding".

Somewhere in our walks with Jesus, we must be taught or learn on our own that we must learn to feed ourselves. Just like I wrote at the top about food, it must be with spiritual food.
Any less, and we end up on spiritual welfare. And just like many parts of the medical fields, they are very happy to keep you coming to get spoon fed, drugged, explained, cracked or pampered. Hey... you work hard, "you deserve a break today" We want to serve you, and it feels good. Just keep the dues comin and the co/pays.

Now. That's ultra cynical, and I'm going over the line here for a reason. The truth that's in that statement should make us all a bit uncomfortable. If it doesn't, and we're reading here, and explaining away or trying to justify everything your feeling against what I'm saying, then , "that" should be red flag to your own heart my dear friends.

Church has changed so much in the last 20 years due to the advent of modern worship music, the internet and the gen-x and millennial generation. Glory to God it's all good. Yup, God is in the midst of it.. The Dude Abides and the story goes on.

As for how we get fed, when we get fed and what nutritional value is there for us spiritually in what we eat or get spoon fed ...

Well Howie Mandel says "pick a briefcase". The million dollar answer is in one of those halliburton cases.

Ok, I'm diving in now.

I'd suggest this. If you've been a believer for 2,5, 10, 20, 30, 40+ years, then you should have a pretty good foundation of the Word laid as well as your own systems of cooking your own spiritual meals, feeding yourself and .... feeding others and teaching them how to cook.

So much of modern and ancient church was all about the oracle. I have the answer, the correct spin, the great inspiration, dedication, alliteration , dissemination and on and on.
For how long did the church not allow the "commoners to read the Word in a language they could read or write." How many centuries were the people not allowed to sing a new song".

These oracles did not oppress the people to hurt them. They were just subjects that needed help and understanding from those with the knowledge. It's ok, hey, we accepted slavery for how long and that was sure ok to all those men and women of God, for after all they were giving them a new life, free boat ride, gainful employment, safety, medical and potential education... There is Always some good in bad and some bad in good as we deliver it mortally.

So again back into Spoon Feeding.
I'm trying to say that we now have the internet. Yup some in ministry have not even really thought about what that means outside of emails and a website. REALLY!!!!
It is that mindset of the past that is caught there and will most likely die off or try to embrace the future 10 years after the trend is gone. Wondering why it doesn't work like it did for those who wrote the book.

I'd say learn from the past, see the current trend and act on the future. Yup you'll fail more, but you'll be in the fast water not in the DSL turtle commercial.

QUESTION: Who taught you how to feed yourself, how did they model it and what fruit did you see from it in their lives to inspire you to follow that lead.
I never had a mentor when I accepted Christ. I was a loner. Didn't get saved through an organized church or minister, therefore I didn't have anyone checking on me or teaching me and watching me.. What a shame. I had to learn the hard way. Bigger highs and Bigger lows...

Now I look at the internet. The great new pipeline of information. The amount of incredible bible teaching and expository teaching or preaching from different giftings is beyond what you could ask or imagine. 30 years ago we HAD to be in church to hear a sermon unless Billy Graham was coming to within 200miles of our home town or a traveling evangelist was passing through with their family that all look alike..

You can subscribe to blogs and tweets and F.B. pages and websites of the past, current and future greatest handful of teachers that ever taught today from your TELEPHONE... let alone your laptop or even old school (dare I say) desktop computer....

In all the fallenness of the internet and the sin that fills it's walls, there is more good and anointed righteousness, teaching and wisdom that in the history of man.

Soon, and very soon, the church (which is the people) will realize this and church as we know it will be changed forever. What will happen with the 4 walls as we've known it. Will the global economy hurt us so much that like Europe, churches will be art museums and become places for weddings and funerals? I hope not.

15 years ago visionaries begin the satellite church movement and "video venues". Now with high speed internet moving into new territory, who knows how long that will last before it goes back to smaller and smaller venues with better and better media.

I sure hope big churches dont lie dormant but become daycares and homeless shelters and places for widows and orphans.
Traveling quite a bit through Europe over the years, I've grieved so much at what the church was and became in the hands of "old school and inner circles of the wise and privileged". Europe became house churches and charismatic small groups living more new testament than we could have ever imagined.
Is that were America is heading? Is PTL, and Crystal Cathedral just signs of things to come..?
Yup, I'm afraid so, but that doesn't depress me at all because GOD DOES NOT LIVE IN BUILDINGS AND TV SETS... Glory Hallelujah, can I geh-hit an A-mennn. He lives in you where ever you go.....

So where does this leave "do not forsake the assembling of the people and breaking bread together and , and, what happens to worship (musical worship for those who want to get heady here). Does that move to the internet as well? Do we find a way like with preaching to get what we need from the ether? Will 3'D holographic worship be so real that we all can enter in and really, really get moved and enter that secret place? I hope so. Hey I don't care about MY JOB or SKILLS. I care about how best men can connect to GOD. If that's through the internet and some new form of technology and only 200 incredible worship leaders can lead the planet in worship in ways we never imagined and the other 1million worship leaders have to go get real jobs and thank God that He's ever moving and changing. Well, same goes for the rest of the 5 fold. Get with it or go home and back into the public sector being the ministry "you are" in Christ to the world around you outside of those 4 walls.
Church will always exist as long as Christ does not return. It will just shape shift with the rest of the ever changing landscape. Its' those of us who "live" within those walls that are in for the big wake up call to downsize, change or move so God can get er done.

Well moving is easier said than done. Homes, cars, family, STUFF. They are the great idols that keep us from moving ahead and forward with God. Tragic. Yup it's me as well. I'll say me first!
I sit now pondering leaving ministry to focus my hands again in the market place where all the people i love a pray for are. And the living and breathing and eating?
Well... I hope and pray I've taught myself enough about how to feed myself that I can survive without being spoon fed each week. I love being fed mind you. Its' fantastic to find a great chef that can "bring it" to you when you're hungry.

However it's kinda funny, that in all my favorite restaurants over the years, I've never had a chef tell me I should go home and learn to cook.

(up next.. the value of worship in corporate church... ouch...)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Dude Abides.

I love the son of "Sea Hunt" . Bridges has always had a way with film for me. Kinda slow but wise and cool.
Have not read this book yet by Cathleen Falsani but cant wait to. Looks like she's reading my mail about reaching creative people.

Hey Jeff was the innovator in half of modern preachers wearing bowling shirts and I think he got the idea for wearing a bathrobe smoking jacket from Eugene Scott. Ohhh the circle is complete my friends :)

Anyway tonight on my deck it's 1AM. Sirens are blaring, dogs are barking and lives are changing.

I think often of modern church and it's purpose. We certainly have a world full of men who've studied scripture, been to seminaries and believe they have the current version of "church" down pat.

So I wonder, as a worshiper, and an artist and creator. How does it all "church" take me to the Source so I can sit, stand or pass out with fellow believers and "worship" Him till I can put the world aside and be filled with enough of His presence to shut up and be quiet and listen to Him not men..

Here's one of my difficulties. What IS the focus of corporate worship. When we all meet together to enter His gates with thanksgiving, sing psalms and praise to His name, break bread together and in seeking Him get filled with His promise to inhabit our praises.

I want the Dude to Abide!!! Silence all the program makers and announcement makers and theology shakes. Just give me Jesus " as artist Larnell Harris once sang. "and I'll never be the same again". How do we get there.

We are all creatures of habit. Whatever good or bad religion we grew up saturated with, we think of that as the "God" standard.
A predefined liturgy. An open service that's 3 hours long, a formula to make sure every department in a ministry has "face" time on Sunday, and most if it revolving around a "message" of teaching.

Well cool! Hows that working for worshipers.
I often say. If you are a new believer, you really need to crash into the Word and listen to as much teaching as possible to get foundational stuff into your brain and pray for discernment as to what is real and what is goofy opinion.

I think in modern church we teach pastors (teachers) in seminary to be "Peter". Your rise and fall as a pastor will most likely be based upon your "bringing it" every service and everything else that happens in that service is to help you "bring it" to a captivated audience.
I can't blame pastor/teachers because like priests for 100's of years, they are taught to do this.

I'm not saying I have the answer and not sure I want to even share my opinion here, but somethings wrong.

I'm my finite worshiping brain and soul this happens.

I do some kind of devotional or read a scripture or set of them. I meditate on it and begin to praise and thank God. He inhabits that and I begin to get a heart of thanksgiving and start that process of worshiping and adoring Him. Somewhere in that mix it will get quiet... and then.... suddenly... the things of this world, the outside voices , the music , the teachers all grow strangely dim and I begin to hear HIS voice. ahhhhhhhhh. Glorious. Marvelous.

In that moment my heart is laid bare and He begins to speak to my heart and spirit and in 1 second He can do more than a song or a 1,000 sermons. or updates or programmed "things".

Then I say. How can that happen in a corporate worship service...
By all the "stuff" and talking or by doing whatever is needed to get to the throne room.

Oh ohh here it comes...So what brings you there, What helps you find that spot, that place where God is doing the ah haaa's to you.

Is it in the message and the program, or in the intimacy of worship. Give me a percentage of what that looks like to you.
Then why, why do we plan corporate worship to not do what we know we should do....?

Prayer is that secret place. yup. no doubt. But for most they just don't have the capacity to spend enough time praying to get there. But, worship is prayers set to melody and it can break through where prayer can be distracted by every whim and noise and grocery list in your head.

Seminaries. that's my culprit. For all the great things they teach, they seem to teach a view of encountering God that much of the modern world is running from today.
Rather than change they condemn and cry, milk toast heresy and whatever else helps us continue down roads that are not producing intimacy with God results on Sundays around the world. Around the world people cry out for God. In America we quietly nod a head or raise one hand and say amen.

I want the Dude to abide. That's it.

If a message and announcements and updates brings that intimacy on then "forget about worship" I'll go back to playing just secular music to music lovers till Jesus returns and go to church, falling down in awe and adoration during and after sermons..

I'm just a bit confused I guess. It looks so clear to me.

In future posts I'll get into "milk fed" each week or learning to feed yourself.
ordering from a menu to get fed, or learning to hunt, fish, cook and clean in ministry.

Until then I seek the One and hear Sam Elliots voice say "The Dude Abides".

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where is Ministry?

Somehow in the living of life I was told in many ways that ministry is something you are called to, and you surrender to, and find a job "in" it.

At 54 I've begun to sing a different tune. Many of my contemporaries and friends for decades live as if ministry "is" their life. They pour their every waking hours into some form of organized ministry. Children suffer, families suffer and we go to bed at night hoping we did all we could do in our ministries that day and week, and that that end self justifies our ways and means.
We model that to generations and show them that more hours means more ministry... Really? Thankfully there are new generations of Jesus lovers that have seen the ending of that movie too many times and are looking for new paths. Thank you Jesus!

I took the above photo of a boy in a village in Italy one afternoon. It reminds me that he is the picture of what I think ministry is. Here's my phrase. "Ministry is NOT your life. Your Life IS your ministry". Whomever you are, whatever gifts God has blessed you with; you sow.
That's it. Pretty simple. Wherever you are, wherever you go, there IS your ministry.

Private Ryan knelt down and listened to the last words of the man who gave his life to save Ryans life... " Make Your Life Count!" It haunts me. As Ryan stood in the end of the picture at the captains grave on Normandy, with family all around, he asked his wife and family to speak to the grave. " Tell them I was a good man. That I lived a good life" Well, that's all there is.
Can't watch it without tears streaming.

Make it count. Don't worry about where you work, worry about how you love.
Don't worry about what others do, or look like or act like. Love them, open your arms, stop pointing fingers and open your arms for Gods sake.

That IS God. Let Him point fingers while we pray for His spirit to captivate our hearts and change our darkness to light each day. I love the expression "when you point your finger there are three pointing back at you". However true, three doesn't excuse the one.

I try so hard in my humanness to pray for that ability each day. To look past the obvious to what and how I could share God's love, grace and mercy to others in my coming and going.

This last week? The girl at the coffee shop who had an incredible smile and joy to be serving coffee. I handed her a five dollar bill and told her, that her smile was such an incredible gift.
I KNOW that she was a believer and didn't want to tell her "I know you love Jesus so here's 5 bucks..." I wanted her to realize that one of her God gifts was to smile and that it affected people. I hope she thought I was a non Jesus follower so that she would be all the more blessed.

Then on a hospital visit, alone at an elevator, a frantic doctor in uniform passes me asking if I worked there. i said no. In a panic he said, my sons outside they're towing his car, they wont take C.C's or a check. I said "check with your pharmacy,they might have cash." He said I need 50 bucks, do you have 50?. I said no and he turned and ran in a panic. I yelled. I have a 100.00..
Oh my god you've saved my life. let me write you a check. give me your card. what can I do for you he said. I dropped the hundred on the table and said "i don't want your check" just go take care of your son. Oh the look in his eyes. PRICELESS!! God inspiring,!
I said, let's meet, you buy me a drink or we'll play golf or something down the road.
He rattled off the top 3 private courses in the state and said we'll play any of them as he ran off.

So , what's God gonna do in all of that one? hmmm. Maybe nothing that I'll see.
Might already be done. The bird seed of God was sown. Now we wait for the next chapter.

Today was the nurse in the hospital where I went to have my torn calf muscle looked at.
Somehow "she" got to faith and life. I told her i liked her ankle tattoo and said I was looking for the "right" one for my forearm. She said. "A Pastor.. can have a tattoo? I laughed.
The next 10min. were such a great "God" liberating conversation.
Then I went to the doctor. She had a big brown spot on one of her Iris's.
I said. Look at you. What a gift to have such a special mark on your eye. So special.
Did you ever get grief for it? Well that opened the floodgates of conversations about people being cruel and mean and how they don't understand how cool it is when God gives us something special. I told her she had a remarkable joy in her giving of herself in her practice and I saw it poured over her like living water...
She saw I was a minister on my charts, I didn't need to get heavy. I let her eat the bird food and left.

What's the next chapter.
Who do I get the blessing of throwing bird seed to tomorrow.. Can't wait.
Hope I don't get off on the wrong foot and step in some doo doo, and start feeding gravel and throwing stones to those along the road, assuming God gives me another day to breathe His air in this gift of a body he gave me to dwell in.

What's gonna be written in your pages tomorrow. Pretty exciting. You might have to slay a dragon or take a bullet or confront the devil, but through it all God will give you the opportunity to throw some bird seed. Eat the Word, Pray for Grace and fill your pockets with good food. You are the ministry... where ever you are, and i love you for that.. just the way you are.