Monday, November 2, 2015

Identity isn't in our Calling.

So I don't know if you ever have epiphany moments revealed to you, they're few and far between for me but I get them every now and then.   I've been reading this book called "How to be a Conscious Parent."  It's a really great book, I highly recommend!  Anyways, there's lots to cover in the book about how we as parents will unconsciously bring our baggage and hurts from our own childhood into our relationship with our kids and how that can cause friction in our relationship and eventually can harm our kids in becoming who God made them to be.  Because at the end of the Day, our kids are not ours but the Lord's anyways.  Okay, so the book doesn't exactly say that because it's not a Christian book but you can see how a lot of the principles of the book go side by side with Christian principles basically without the "Christian lingo".  Which I like to see, Christ' foot prints in things that sometimes aren't even labeled Christ.

But anyways, in this book, the author Dr. Tsabary explains ways we carry our pain and thus sometimes letting our Ego/flesh guide us more than ourselves and I think we can do that a lot without realizing it, instead of God or the Holy Spirit.  Ways we carry pain is in trying to affirm ourselves in things whether in success, working out, and even intellectualizing it sometimes.  When I read that it stuck out to me and it's like when the Holy Spirit or maybe just common sense taps you on the shoulder and you know it.  Then you just sit and ponder how in the heck the Lord guessed that's one of the things wrong with you because you had no idea, yourself.

Growing up, I didn't always feel like the smartest kid.  Mostly because I just wanted to play and not do my school work or listen to teachers.  Now I realize as an adult, I, being a child of a single parent, the school system just let me slip by and along with this, it lead me to never feel quite as adequate as my peers.  Personally, I see that as a blessing now that I didn't exactly fit in to society's mold but it sure felt like a curse most of grade school and I carried that pain into adulthood.  Coupled with my religious upbringing of rigid molds, I found myself quite not fitting into again, I realized I might be carrying that remembered pain into my new hobbie: studying theology.  Which isn't necessary a bad hobby, actually it's helped me tremendously in finding myself and researching the mysterious character of God while keeping me from being a bored housewife because it keeps my curious soul up to pace.

The only problem I've discovered in my trying to know more and more Theology, is that I keep trying to use it to define me.   Now whether I decide to be a Theologian or not (though I'm quite content with less debt and being a hairstylist) it is important that I don't do it mostly based on my pain or inadequacy of myself.  And that's what I've been doing.  Using it to cover up my hurt and using it to feel better about myself.  But one of the things I've learned from this book and my love for the Word is not letting those things define me but to keep defining myself in Christ.  Especially if something is "Christian", it can be so much easier to define ourselves through that and be okay with it.

And on top of all this going on. I love those moments when you keep getting tapped on the shoulder like "Okay, maybe I'm onto something."   A few days later, I was listening to my church's podcast from another Sunday because I went to the mountains instead and my Pastor Jonathan Stone was talking about how he doesn't want his Pastorial role to define him as a Person instead of finding himself in Christ and also this lovely lady Blake Blackman had gotten up and confessed she had placed her identity in Church and not Christ to the point that when our church a few years back had a ruff patch she was upheveled by the situation and just recently while talking with a friend, admitted that "Church was everything" instead of Christ. So much of the time its so easy to get wrapped up in our calling and letting that take forefront and trying to find our meaning in that.

I think I've seen it in a lot of people, including myself. They don't think they're Christian enough so they end up becoming pastors or in my case trying to be a Theologian, lol, but we have to remember those things don't define us because at the end of the day, we have to be happy with the person in the mirror without all those recognitions, titles or just plain smarts and love ourselves without condition of outside sources or works. Knowing that we are worthy of Love regardless of what we do or our actions.

There is one thing that we can find our identity in and that is Love. For God is love. You can find yourself in loving people and God.  Throughout this learning process, that is the essence of Christian living and it's pretty simple but for some reason we keep trying to add bells and whistles along with it. Trying to make ourselves more worthy, when all along Christ is saying I made you, YOU for a reason. I put you in the exact place in your life with all your life experiences for a reason.  Instead of thinking of how can I be more deserving, I'm learning one of the great mysteries for us humans to get and that is just being content with myself but open to change when necessary for growth.  Not by force but willingness of having our heart open and vulnerable. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Day My Mind Changed without My Consent...

Before having my little Ivey Jo, I looked like any other 20-something conservative evangelical Christian, and was fully accepted by many as this.  Life was easier then.  I went to church every Sunday, read my bible, prayed for me and my family.  But something was lacking.  I still knew there was something more to life and I was still missing it.  Actually I ached for it.  And my faith was slipping because of it….

Thankful that we found my church Renovatus at just the right time in my Christian walk.  By this point, I was holding on to my faith with the last grip of the rope although I was still in no way ready to start pulling myself back up.  It was a little glimmer of Hope for me at a time when I had none.  I was starting to lose interest in my faith, and I hated myself for it.  Why couldn't the bible speak to me like it did others? Why did I really dislike Christian music or anything Christian culture?  It was starting to make my skin crawl. Didn't I go through something like this, when I left a legalistic background and found Grace in my late teens.  Why was this unsettling happening again in my spirit.  Suddenly what I believed in looked Cotton Candyish, paper thin and I was still slipping...

It was a dull pain that followed me around everywhere.  Maybe this is what it feels like to pick up your cross daily but why wasn't I feeling fulfilled or at least happy? Or dang, at least have some fruits but I had none and I was withering unless something changed.  I would pray over and over after years  of getting out of legalism "God, if I'm on the right path, please give me a sign, or stop me if I'm not."

And then one day, my husband Randall told me of this podcast he was listening to, that he really liked. Randall always liked listening to all sorts of different preachers (something I did not care for!) but he was really liking Brian Zahnd's podcast and Brian had also preached at Renovatus one time but I wasn't probably paying attention to what he had preached on since I remember very little of what he said.  Anyways, Randall said he just wrote a book called A Farewell To Mars that sounded really interesting. He thought we should read together.

I'm just glad God is a patient God because it took months for me to actually pick the book up and read it, but HOLY CRAP when we did read it.  It changed me!  Brief synopses in case your wondering:  He talked about how we just always assumed that America was God's nation but if you really think about it all nations are more set up as Empires.  Empires never follow the Jesus way because they thrive on Us Vs Them mentalities and Jesus demanded that we love our enemies not kill them.  Well, what do Empires do?  They kill their enemies.  But Jesus' Kingdom demands kindness and mercy which doesn't seem to fit well in the Empires of man.  Instead we leave Jesus to saving souls for an afterlife while WE handle the business affair of politics.  Jesus became Lord of an Afterlife not Lord of our present life. Which is a lot easier if you think about it…

When I read this stuff, I was like "No. That can't be accurate."  I've grown up my whole life in church and never heard of this.  My interest was peaked and if you know anything about my passion OCD.  If I get interested in something, I'm INTERESTED in it and theres no holding back.  Soon I was diving into my bible, listening to different podcast, learning from different biblical scholars and preachers, reading endless theology books.  I did this everyday and still do!! And yet it was reiterated that Yes in  fact, Jesus' Kingdom is now and it is a reversal of what the world glorifies.  I just always assumed "the world" meant everything not Christian and I should try stay away.  Now I'm finding "the world" is the hidden lens, Christian religion or not, that keeps Jesus on the sidelines.

Actually I was finding a lot of Christian culture in America was keeping Jesus' business just for the saving souls for Heaven afterlife.  What I found out about Jesus and have grown to love about Him is that he was VERY political and was VERY much a threat to the way our systems are built.  Think about it: Cain after he killed Abel, went and started the first Human Society.  Our structures were built on a murderer, the conquerors per say.   A very important sign that God did not require this or Human Sacrifice was when he told Abraham not to sacrifice his son.  This is a huge moment in our theology because God right there said he does not require that.  Then why do we still think we need to kill and why do we trust in Swords more than God's love.

Now remember what Jesus taught?  He should be the most central part of our Faith, right?  He came so we could see what God is like.  No man has seen God but Jesus.  What? What about Moses and Elijah? Didn't they see God?  Probably fragmented parts but no.  No one is God or like God more than Jesus.  And remember God never changes so he's always been like Jesus, we just haven't always known that until Jesus came.

Suddenly Jesus' teachings were brought to life in my soul when I started discovering that.  The fact that in Jesus's Kingdom the poor, immigrant, outcast and last were first.  Started making sense, so did his parables.  And poetry.  And art.  And social Justice.  Suddenly life was not as bleak as it was before and I had something to live for.  Of course, this new informative thinking (which again actually not new but ancient teaching) did not come without a fight, mostly within myself.  Although, I was excited and intrigued, part of me wanted to just bury my head in the sand and forget I ever learned of these things… I mean my beloved America, where I am free to express myself and be who I am came at a price that was found on the bodies of the killed, Native Americans, war, and Jesus had supposedly endorsed all this for the sake of His nation….but only he actually didn't.

Jesus was becoming more real but my Christianity was looking more fake.  If I didn't change, I knew I couldn't call myself a Christian anymore even though I was looking less like a Good ole moral republican and more like ekkk! Might I say it:  A dreaded Liberal (the Them side)!  And it was all Jesus' fault too! If I had my way I would stay that way but I knew now kinda like Peter Parker learned in Spider Man: With great power comes great responsibility.  Because now the power of the cross shamed what I had been taught were the 3 great powers to possess:  Policitcs, Religion, and Wealth. Only if you think about it, representatives from these 3 very things killed and scapegoated our Lord and Savior: Pilate, Caiaphas, and Herod.

The Cross is a threat to these very powers that rule our world.  But how do we overcome this world and the representations of it? Through Geo political force?  No.  Through war? No.  Through Christian empire?  Definetly no.  The answer is being like a little lamb.  A lamb, who's kindness beats the big Big Empire Powers through Sacrificial Love.  Did you know, we too, can possess the same mentality that Jesus had?  To have a love that doesn't even fear death but forgives even while the perpetrator is acting against us. What does that kind of love look like?  It looks like fruits and this is why I harp on fruits so much more than cultural Christianity.  Because look around you.  Do you see fruits in that?  I didn't nor did I have any myself.  Because what we have been built on is a religion that is only obsessed with after life suddenly we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off wondering what a real Christian looks like and calling out anything threatening, usually anything that threatens our systems and we scapegoat it or them.  Yikes! Don't you see?  We take on the same Satanic mentality that scapegoated our Jesus because he didn't fit into any of our worldly systems or views of it.

Maybe I'm above your head and I'm making it spin.  That's okay.  I've been there too.  But I know that I just can't sit back before and not do anything like I did before. I can't keep a cheap religion that plays on the powers of Man's empires and not be/think different.  Before I had very little interest in Polictics but now I realize, even though, Jesus' Kingdom doesn't come through Geo political force (its a matter of our hearts) our politics plays an important role in what we think are important in our lives.  I do not judge republican or democrat nor do I subscribe to a certain side.  I think we need both wings to make the bird fly.

I think we need to uphold the standard of pro-life more but even to the point of every human being and their rights.  Pro-life has become a deeply intricate part of my faith.  For every human being needs to be recognized as that: a human being.  Not a Them to be wrote off as not important or as evil, but as suffering humans who need help and compassion.  That is how Jesus looked at each human even the despicable ones who were profiting by exploiting his own people (tax collectors)  He treated them with kindness not indifference and yes there is a difference!!

Do you know what a luke warm religion/love looks like?  It looks like loving the ones that are just like you and not the other, which even the worst of sinners find easy to do.  I still remember the night, I felt so convicted by the Holy Spirit after wrestling with this new found knowledge.  I knew by that still small voice that I had been luke warm for a long time.  And after 16 years of trying I finally broke free.  That's when you really learn about Grace too.  When you've been so blind and preoccupied with your own idols of selfishness, ego and greed that you didn't realize you weren't even putting Jesus as Lord of your life, ever!

Hey to be honest, I was just worshipping what everyone around me was worshipping too.  And when I stopped.  People noticed and became uneasy around me.  Religious, non-religious, liberal, conservative.  Now I don't feel like I can fit in any circle but the small narrow one.  Actually still to this day I get scapegoated every now and then but now I'd be worried if I didn't because I know the way is narrow and it cuts into my own ego too so I understand when the gospel cuts into other's as well.  I understand the uneasy feeling of coming out of religion and into the deep sometimes dark waters of Grace.  It's frightening but yet freeing all at once.

But that's the thing about Grace.  It doesn't play by our rules.  It doesn't have laws and that's the most terrifying aspect of God. To not have him pinned down or to not know his heart.  Read Jesus' parables.  They are disturbing!! I mean the Prodigal son and the worker's getting paid all the same, like what? But that is their intent to get you disoriented.  To wake you up out of sleep.  To ask more questions.  I always related more to the elder son and the workers that worked all day.   I recently heard we should try to play ourselves into the story as the prodigal and the hour long workers then we might understand Grace a little better.  I think the fact that we think we enter the Kingdom before anyone else means we really haven't found the Kingdom to begin with.

Only the Kingdom comes with a backwards mentality this world doesn't understand.  It's a lot easier to fight than ignore and retaliate with kindness. But that's the way of Jesus taught and that's the way we must go. It's a lot easier to write someone off with a label then actually seeing them as a human being. Especially if they are a different nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.  Compassion, humility, and Grace must turn us into Jesus and that kind of Love can only come from him.

…Now, these days, it's pretty neat looking back years on Timehop, my little inklings I posted showing that I had wanted a better way somehow, somewhere and I am so thankful that at last I am finding it because I know that there was NOTHING extraordinary I did except be open, wait and pray.  So if you find that you are in limbo with your faith or just life in general and don't really know what will become of it just know in our Weakness (even in Faith) he is made strong!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Egos



Father forgive me for I have sinned
I acted like I was right and then I pinned
My sins on the masses. It felt so good
Eating that fruit
And then prideful I stood
I purged what I couldn’t see in me on them
See that’s my problem I created a “Them”
I called it justice i called it standing up
But in the end I was just throwing up
Vomiting my hate and calling it love
And when I was done I went back for more
See someone had to feel they were wrong
Someone had to feel condemned
I thought I was above all that but now I’m the “them”
I’m the ones foaming at the mouth
Feeling right, picking a side
See that’s what we do when we’re weak
We choose sides and then we retreat
Getting lost in a war more than a gospel
Seeking blood but calling it love
“It’s the way of the world” is what we all say
I disagree. I KNOW there’s a better way
Out of this cycle of hate
We’ve been so blind, we’ve taken the bait
But to go against the crowd right or wrong
Is where freedom lies it’s where we belong 
Letting a Spirit take our burdens
See we’re trying too hard
And it’s evident in our actions
That our faith is weak and our hate is sanctioned
By the powers of the air
It’s in what we breathe to get free is to go beyond human
To a motherly love that don’t have reason
See love doesn’t control
it doesn’t have to explain
It always trust even in the face of evil
Of the beast darting pain
We stand up smaller than the sides
We declare with fruits of the Called
That big monster is defeated by the little lamb
You see it’s about unity, seeing Christ in all
If you can’t see that
Then ask where you fall.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Dance Around the Table






A Dance Around the Table





A dance around the table
Few seem to like the rhythm
There’s a dance around the table
Everything’s free and nothing’s for sale

 The banquet is full
 But more could fit
 Many watch while they sit
 At the dance around the table

 To partake in the dance around the table
 You must first recognize the waltz
 The rhythm, the pulse inside
 To see how it concides with time 

There’s stillness in the dance around the table
 The anthem of blood but it’s spilled back into 
 a vessel at the dance around the table
 The music is healing but most think it’s feeble

 Oh, the many visceral movements of the bea
 Are heard around the table 
The noisy hum brings a melody from within
 At the dance around the table

 The taste of food is other worldly
 Too rich of taste but too simplistic to get
 The fullness of flavor reminds me, why I’m here
 At the dance around the table

 I could partake but the others who wait
 Get angry when I dance around the table
 My dance is sensual but my dance is pure
 It is not my own and it invites more
 To partake in the dance around the table


Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Sight

New Sight

We eat of fruit
We do not like
And cast a spell
To lose our sight
Light in signs all around
But darkness is where we’re most found
Pitch forks and swords
Is what we hungry most for
We need help and we need Other
But yet we think the problem lies with our brother
Escapism isn’t what we lack
Being present & mindful
Not looking back
In the future is where we need to go.
You’ll catch up, don’t worry so
Unity is what we’re made for
Justice, Mercy and to Love more
More than just the ones like us
That real lesson in love is a must
To strive to learn what real love is
And there’s never one we could dismiss 
For love is blind
And requires us to be kind
Loud rules hidden in silence
Are far better than a foolish sense
For silence is golden and
Humility treasured
Many are proud
but few actually measure
The weight of their words
Forever marked on their hearts
Shows true fear
And a conscious seared
For real love perseveres
Through indifference and indoctrines
For hate always has an end
But love always endures without a bend.

Monday, July 6, 2015

My Favorite Song if You Put a Gun Up to My Head...

So a few weeks ago I went to a concert with my sis and her two friends.  While my sis and I were awkwardly sober pregnant chicks (and I say awkwardly sober because when experiencing Lana Del Ray concert, I'm now pretty convinced requires some form of alcohol to enjoy un-awkwardly, at 30 and fully clothed.)  But anyways, after the concert, we had to sit in the car for like 2 hours because the parking and traffic at Verizon are so awful I will not go back unless it is a band that I am absolutely obsessed with.

While we were sitting there, having deep discussions with my sister's funny, intoxicated friends.  The token gay guy of the group asked a question that had me thinking for a long time and I did not have a direct answer for at the moment:  "What is your favorite song?  If a person put a gun to your head and asked you that.  What would you say?"

I was stumped.  I couldn't think of one I particularly liked so much.  I was thinking of songs on the radio, the catchy ones, but they get old pretty quick.  Then I started on ones that had the most impact on me.  And one stuck out, it was Bethany Dillon's Revolutionaries.

I wish my pick was some really cool cultured deep song but it's actually quite a simple one written by a teenager.  I think she wrote it when she was like 15 or something.  I first heard of the song and her music when I was about 18.  I credit a lot of my independent spiritual wrestling/awakening to her music throughout the years.  Not only did she write songs about following all the rules but knowing there was something more.  She also made statements that she believed God was not angry or unjust but done nothing but has compassion on us.

These were really profound lyrics to a sheltered girl that loved God but was trapped in Dogmatic legalism.  My instinct told me there was something more and music reinstated that again and again in me.  When I think back to stepping out and searching even though I feared for my soul a lot of times, it took a lot of faith and sometimes that's all I had that convinced me I was not headed down a spiraling path of lies and deceit.

What is so intimate to myself about the song Revolutionaries is the way the song spoke to me each different season in my life at a new refreshing way.  It was always beckoning me to step further out and further in. While also questioning me to ask what I am following, why I am following it and to always remember that I have dreams even when others shoot them down and they seem foolish. They are not foolish, even when they've failed because I've always learned something from them.

A lot of times when I stepped out in faith in my life, I have felt alone and misunderstood.  Actually the first years of my 20's were a very confused, hurt and often feeling secluded by ones that nurtured me. They seemed scared for me. But I look back at those years and I thank God for them so much because without those hard times I wouldn't be half the person I am today and had to totally depend on God.  This song addresses that.  But it is also those times I have found out a little more just how strong-willed and independent and a little less fearful of obstacles and people's opinions that no longer matter.  I know what the still small voice in my head says and I follow that, and it has never lead me down a spiraling tunnel of hurt or brokeness but the opposite.  I have somehow found myself more and more in the long run and have found more Grace, Love and adventure than I had imagined and I'm not done putting my tracks on the dirt quite yet! So please, listen and enjoy this song and I hope it inspires others as it has inspired me throughout many years!

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bethanydillon/revolutionaries.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WCtnTXI7b0

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Systems




I think I’d be lying if I said transgender people don’t scare me a little bit. Why? Because they take me from my system of shoulds and oughts and put gray areas in my easy categorical systems. 
But then I think: doesn’t love do the same? Doesn’t love rise above our categories of rights and shoulds and laws. Making the dominant law followers of systems leveled out with the rest of us? Yes, it does. How? Righteousness is not earned by being the most “Christian” or “Holy” or more right. Righteousness is earned by following the love laws. They are meant to take us out of our systems by loving the ppl we have a right not to love and saying “No you still have to love NO MATTER WHAT! And you have to rethink what is right for the sake of love. Over and over again.”
This is what made Jesus so controversial and still does to this day. Heck I’m pretty sure if he stopped by and decided to roam the Earth like before, we’d just crucify him again. Why? Because instead of following Love we revert back to our primitive systems of right and wrong and someone who demands more than our assurance of these “right” systems with a scapegoat. Mirroring blame on ourselves as much as others, well that becomes blasphemous to our eyes and our egos.
Jesus’ freedoms in the love laws are actually harder to measure up to than any right/wrongs we try to label. They will always make more demands on the love follower than the rule followers any day. If the Jesus you follow doesn’t keep yourself in check more than you do of others than you might not be following the right Jesus. 
If the Jesus you follow isn’t being scapegoated because he has a hard time fitting into others “systems” then I say you’re definitely not following the correct Jesus. He will always demand more than we are willing to give to shape us to be more like Him! 
It’s not going to be the fear of Hell fire that makes you more righteous but the deep purifying of selfless love that demands everything even our life sometimes that is made of righteousness. For perfected Love has no time to even worry about fears. It’s too busy making us rethink everything in light of the only perfected one of Love: Jesus.
Okay, you don’t measure up to righteousness then? Neither do I. And neither does anyone else but Jesus. This is the Good News of the Gospel. We have a way out of our systems. It’s not religion and it’s not laws. It’s following blindly to Jesus commands of Love even though they make grey areas in our already neatly categorized life. 
The gospel is beautiful and compelling enough to cover those gray areas. As I grew up, I always heard Jesus saves us from our sins but I thought that was more nuanced and b/c I professed in being a Christian. That my sins were some how lighter and not as heavy as others.
Now I know HOW he saves us from sin. It’s from our systems religious and political. It’s the giving back of the apple to the serpent and relying on God's Love to save us out of darkness. Not our own understanding! It’s the relying on the Holy Spirit to convict others and humbly realizing that even though we ate the fruit we still don’t know right from wrong without love’s sight.  It's the humble realization that God knows more about others than we do and the Holy Spirit always finds you no matter what.
When I finally found out just how Jesus saves us from our systems and our comfort zones, it was very disconcerting lol.  I stayed up for days.  Knowing I couldn't rely what I thought was right.  I had to rely on what Love told me was right, and most of the time I had been wrong.  I claimed Love but lacked understanding and compassion, especially for other.  And I kept thinking "This can't be right." But you can't unopen your eyes.  Jesus spoke and he uttered the secrets of the foundations of the world.  He and the prophets spoke in poetry because these things are not easily understood by our hearts.  Parables constructed to give us over and over again a different level of changing we need.  (And that's what I call good art, period!)
He critiqued what our societies are built on which is blood.  Cain was the first person to go out and start a society.  It's from the very beginning and yet here we are thousands of years later and we still want to put our faith more on systems of policy and right/wrong rather than Jesus' demands of never ending love.  Which do you put more faith in?

"That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world." Matthew 13:35
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:2

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Death and Resurrection of a Community Story






Christianity in America is a bit like the Disney Land of Religions.  It's easy, fun and has every flavor of ice cream you could like.  If you don't like any of the flavors, you are offered, you can go everywhere else to find your favorite.  After all this is America.

Renovatus was my Disneyland when I first found this church.  A place claiming to be for people like me: Liars, Dreamers, Misfits.  I fit the bill and loved listening to the spunky preacher who had a similar background growing up like I had.  This place claimed to be pentecostal but it was cool…. I had never seen that before and I liked it.  I didn't have to embarrassingly shun what I had grown up in any longer but embrace it.  It felt nice.


I also didn't have to do much work.  Our church in it's prime was like a neat high school, only this time the cool kids were nice and they happily ran everything smoothly for us.  I enjoyed watching them flourish and bragged about them to my friends in other places even though I didn't know any of them personally.  Lets be honest I didn't bring much to the table:  Just a small-town girl who happen to be a college drop out, Hair stylist.  I wasn't really sure who I was, how could I join in with these people that were so sure and comfortable, being themselves.  I was too shy and awkward and couldn't imagine that these people would need me in any sort of way.

And then one day everything was taken from us.  Our amusement park was no longer a happy, happening place but a barren, fragile wasteland and now the only ones left to run the machines were us awkward plan B people who didn't even know if they knew how to run these machines but we could try.  We weren't "the cool" church anymore and all the cool kids happened to find other places to be all at once and we couldn't think of anywhere else to be.  Maybe we missed out on the memo.

We were middle aged, tired, nothing special Attendees but we still had dreams.  Yes, our church used to have waters flowing from every door and now all we had were little seeds of hopes springing up from a dry, cracked land.  In this hard time we started living up to our name.  Had we lied to ourselves thinking that the way of Christ was easy-breezy and about entertainment and blessing or were we more fond of our church culture in America:  a place built on image more than authenticity.  We had always preached our motto but now we were actually forced to live it when all we had were dreams and misfits. And we weren't so pretty as before.

Now I've learned, Christ's way is not an amusing one, but a hard, pruning painful way that in the end bares even more beautiful fruit then we could've dream up ourselves.  I didn't find Christ in those Good Ole Days I found Christ in the ones where I needed to sink or swim.  I needed to be all in or out.  I was forced to look at myself and realize I needed pruning if I were to be of some use to His Kingdom.  Hell, I didn't even really know what the Kingdom was until I found Christ in the wilderness.  I found him in the place I didn't think he existed and to be honest: I really wasn't looking for him.  He found me.

I was happy being a spectator but that wasn't good enough for Christ.  He needed all of me and my faith in community too.  Whether I wanted to be or not I knew it was the best way I would be whole but I also knew it wasn't an easy way.  It's the way of suffering after all.  It's not an amusement park and we could try and make it like that but in the end, Christ will come and tear down all our structures and entertainments and leave us with nothing except naked joy and bread; only we can find from Him and only when were starving.

He forces us to believe in Resurrection. Which sounds easy but very hard. When faced with Resurrection, all our demons come out to play and tell us we're not living in the glory days but we should believe that we are.  It's the intense nights, that there doesn't look like any hope left and all is dead, that Christ shows up to us again. And he comes to the most unexpected and in the most terrifying way: through death.  Death IS the answer and sometimes the only way to go.  And we have to count it all blessing to die whether spiritual or physical for our Lord and Savior.  Believing that is where we are set free.

Renovatus is still standing and I'm really glad I stood by her.  I don't always know what would become of her but I had dreams for her and still do .  She's somehow more beautiful in her limping and imperfectness; I'm finding my imperfections more appealing in her.  Her destruction has somehow transformed into our resurrection and for that I am always thankful for her.
.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Gardeners and the Guardians.




I wrestle with being burdened down a lot but I am a joyful, loving spirit.  I love making people laugh, feel good about their situations and just encourage them.   I have peace in my life but constantly wrestle with an uneasiness in my walk. Part of that, might be myself, trying to stick to the old ways of doing everything in my nature to please God, realizing I know I can not create that righteousness within myself.  It has to come from God.  I can't earn God's love or favor, it's already given.  Why do I keep trying then?

Jesus says my burden is light and my yoke is easy.  I believe that and as a Christian, have witnessed that in my own testaments of Faith.  As naive as it might sound, I don't worry about a lot of stuff, commonsense tells us to worry about.  I don't worry about safety, I don't really fear people, I don't worry about getting robbed.  I'm not a worrier and all my cares I do cast upon Jesus and I safely believe that he knows what's best for me and I don't have to worry about things, period. I have good intuition and I relie heavily on that.

My uneasiness comes with my desire to right the world.  To be a light.  When things like the Nepal earthquake and the riots in Balitmore (etc.)  happens it strikes a nerve with me.  It pierces my heart and I can't help but plea for these people's hurt.  My burden comes from feeling helpless.  I know prayer works and alleviates some but I want to do something with my HANDS!  I want to build back this humanity that seems so desolute and devoid of God's Love and restore it back to Eden.  I want to believe that I can make a difference.

I think that wrestling is my spirit (or Holy Spirit) and flesh.  My flesh says there's not much you can do but my Spirit is like "Let's do something!!" If theres one thing I've learned from my walk this past year is PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE.  A virtue I lack when all I see is what's in front of me.  Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is the Kingdom of God.  Our hands are small but they can still make a difference.

If there's one thing I like to tell others in the Faith is that building the Kingdom is not subjected to just an afterlife destination, it's an opportunity to partake in the here and now.  When we make Christianity about winning converts (which not many of us are good at anyways) we place Jesus over just a small reigning part of our life instead of over the Whole operation.  Sadly that's what I seen in our American Cultural Christianity and the backlash has been all the ones we've suppressed and ignored for decades having finally started bubbling to the forefront of our society and we can no longer conceal our hidden sins but face them head on.

The places where the gospel we've preached is lagging, are starting to fall away.  The structural systems we've built around ourselves to protect our own egos are collapsing and we have 1 of 2 options:

1.  We can ignore the ones who feel left out, marginalized or oppressed and forgotten.  We can tell them this is a result of their own stupidity and misguidedness.  We can build around us an "escape gospel" that just says this is predicted and this is just a sign of the End times.  We can complain when others don't meet things that are "our" criteria of what a functioning society is suppose to act like.  Let our pride rule our emotions and get on a We Are Right Bandwagon.

2.  We can humbly search our hearts and ask ourselves if we have somehow partaken in making these things happen.  Have we forgotten what someone else different than our shoes feels about our society.  What are they asking of us and can we give it?  If it is them asking to be elevated as equals like you and me, let's give it.  In fact, lets go overboard and put people different than us above us.  Isn't that what our Savior teached and portrayed? Isn't that one of the inaugurations of his Kingdom: to be last?

I'm sorry but I can see straight into the reasons these issues have been brewing and it is our favorite sin that digs our grave for us: Pride.  Pride is sooo evil and almost invisible to see.  It seeps into our hearts to the point that we become obsessed with being right so much so we put that in front of actually helping people and THAT is a distorted gospel if we are not careful with ourselves.  It's a sacred cow that is so infused in our culture that is almost abnormal to not fall in step with.  Culture wars, judgements, religious and political superiority, these are all signs of pride not the Spirit running someone's life. To give our life to Christ is to subject TO him and not our egos (aka flesh).

And I'm no meteorologist but I'm sure the groanings of the Earth and Earthquakes, if not caused are at least enhanced by us not taking care of it, as the Lord commands of his followers.  It still strikes me as odd that this is not a priority to a lot people, Christian or not.   To be a good steward is not just talking about your personal things but being a light to the world means a good steward to the things of the Earth.  If we are truly grateful for all that we've been given then we should realize our need to maintain a good standing with taking care of it.  I'm not perfect but I have become aware of just how I contribute to the pollution and taking slow, small steps (Rome wasn't built in a day, right?) to lessen my carbon foot print.  Why this makes me seem more "Left" or "Liberal" (don't you just love when people try to label you so they can write you off easier and throw your suggestions to the side.  Maybe another sign of someone being ruled by pride?) I don't know.  My politics are of Jesus and he ask for everything in my life to be submitted to him.  And he is the new Adam of the Earth.  He's the New Humanity we are to submit to.

So basically we need to ask what are the echoes of our actions:  Are we Gardeners or Guardians? A Gardener is someone who answers the calling to take up the actions of Christ and to build back the Kingdom of God.  A Guardian is someone who tries to protect the symbolic rituals and hold on the old ways of business to get to Christ.  The law abiders who haven't stepped out on enough faith to live under the new Love laws.  It seems the more abstract the law the more nervous these Guardians get.  Why?  Because the Love laws our Savior commands does just what he intended:  They save us from ourselves.  From our "systems" of "righteousness" that just don't work anymore.  They exclude too many and demand too less of ourselves.  Our need to want to measure our moral muscles just doesn't cut it in the laws of Love.  The non-concrete gives way to a transcendent way of life that will free us from our competitiveness, combativeness, leaving room for us to breathe and become ourselves and to hear his voice.

 Do we try to protect our own lives, rights and systems to benefit us and our comforts or are we being good stewards of EVERYTHING the good Lord has given us.  To me that's a sign of someone possessed by the Fruits of the Spirits.  Someone at least trying to make this world a better place.  I love the analogy of  Mary thinking Jesus was the gardener the first time she seen him after his resurrection.  I think that's shows us how deeply we need to be the New Face of Humanity as Christ himself lives in us.  Jesus takes up the gardening that Adam and Eve failed to do.  Will we do the same?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Revival



You say you want Revival 
But you wouldn’t know it, if it came 
You say you have the only truth
But it is hidden in your shame
You have an invitation 
Will you just deny
And barely get by
Slander turns your cheek
Blinded sin is all you seek
Your fears drag you around 
Love you claim, but it is not found 
We sit at your feet, begging for scraps 
We seek Justice, but you criticize our lack
With the keys in your hand
And nose held high
Though we try 
We know we will never get by
Your love is stanch 
Your fruit is bitter
Your face is sagging 
And your body is lagging 
We invite you in, 
despite what you’ve sewn 
Your anger we forgive
Our bruises bring the Dawn. 
For we are light and so are you 
Our lines are blurred 
Our lives at risk 
So we can serve 
In Love we Die 
And Love we rise
Fear was buried
Low in the night.
Just give me a key
And you will see
Your breath is getting labored
Your limbs are getting weak 
You need me and I need you 
Let go and rest
Right upon my breast 
Where you are safe
And no hair misplaced 
True Faith comes in the dark
And light is born from the night
Together hand in hand
We can finally get this right.

"Revival Meeting" painting by: Benny Andrews

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Dawn of the Sea.



The night’s rugged breath floats in our minds
Telling us the answers are benign 
Meager truths float from our flesh
Telling us not to believe our heads
How can this be, in these very minutes
We clammer together caught in our limits.
Searching like ghost, uncomfortable in our shells.
The deep sea around but no blinding truth 
Break thru
No ringing of the bells.
Eminent dangers threaten our nature
We are not of this world and we awkwardly agree
Our breast are soft our hearts are vexed
We silently scream eager to be fixed
Our wails are heard but not in the sea
Silence bubbles from our lips 
floating to break free
Our hour is coming we can feel it in our bones
A reconciliation that covers like the dawn
The night knows not how this hour was sewn.
To bring Peace on the backs of the Meek
To bring the Glory they all longingly seek 
Restless writhing is no more 
For this we would suffer and be poor.
The ships have sailed 
To release our skeletons from our jails
To save face, to right our wrongs
Let’s dig up our mistakes 
Let’s no longer hide our bones
Healed by grain and by wine
The sacred truths on which we dine.
In the flesh and in the blood
We ingest your strength, we drink your love.


Painting: Dawn After The Storm by: William Lionel

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is Our Faith more on Church than Jesus?

I don't know, nothing makes me cringe and want to run away faster than someone trying to sell me something.  As if my life is some how not complete unless I try their "one of a kind" product and I am going to get no where in life without it and I'm going to die and go to hell unless I get that product or close to it.  Sadly, this is how I feel we market "Christ" and we seem to think we can sell him faster if we could just get people in the doors to our own church.  Then they could see how awesome we are and how holy we live and how perfect life can be if they just do A,B & C and say it's from the heart, they can get eternal life.  And then we wonder why when so & so went down to the altar, they didn't change much in their life and then go back to their "old" ways fairly easily.

I'll tell you why:  It's because the "hype" of the sales pitch wears off and then they are back to square one.  They've just been sold this product and told if they do A,B,C earnestly things will be different for them and they will have to fight their flesh and then they will have this "monumental" breakthrough if they keep on and DEFINETLY keep going to church because that's where the breakthrough mostly will happen and if your pentecostal (which I am) it will def happen in the prayer line.  But then so & so wakes up the next day and they're still gay, addicted to porn, self-medicating with food, drugs and any form of entertainment that keeps us from being conscious (or christianese word: prayful) and then wonder what's wrong with them.  Did they not love Jesus like everyone else or are they inherently worse than everyone else at the church because most people in the church seem just dandy and strong in their relationship with Jesus.  Do you see the monotonous ideas that just keep recycling over and over and expecting different results, or am I the only one?  You do know that's the definition of insanity.

To be honest.  I don't invite people to church.  I don't have to.  I don't want to "sell" Jesus to people.  I hate selling stuff.  I suck at it.  And lately I've become aware of the similar sales pitches I see with preachers.  Some speak about their church more than about Jesus and that troubles me.  I slightly cringe at it.  Why?  Because at one point, I loved Jesus but wanted nothing to do with the church and sometimes I feel myself simontanously wanting to awkwardly moon walk away from Christians and their Christian culture war discussions while wanting to jump in when Jesus is mentioned because I loooove talking about him!!  He is so interesting but I'm afraid our formulated sales pitches to get to him have made him a regular familiar staple that is found mostly in our discussions pertaining to our own churches more than him and his character.

Or I find Christians who believe in Jesus but he is rarely ever brought up in their conversations but they make it a point to tell you that they do go to church and avoid certain things that make them seem like a faithful Christian but talking about Jesus is such a hot button because they see Jesus strictly as this one picture and get nervous if anyone tries to paint him in a different light; other than the way they've been brought up, because well they were one of the only ones that were "lucky" enough to be brought up in this certain way and since the rest of the world doesn't know this Jesus, well, they're probably just all going to go to hell anyways. So why talk about him.  And I can't blame them for not wanting to share this Jesus with the rest of the world too because this Jesus doesn't seem to have much Hope for people anyways.

And I don't like the Jesus that is a by-product of our church attendance.  He's too churchy for me.  And I'm sorry, I don't read about him in the gospels AT ALL!! I  read about a loving beyond our understandings, revolutionary: breaking apart our cultural norms of religion and politics.  Someone that didn't quite quote every scripture in it's entirety unless it pointed to him (Luke 4:18-19.  He reads Isaiah 61 but stops before the vengeance part.  He's not about vengeance.).  He encouraged other average Joe kinda misfits like me to not follow the systems of the world.  Political and religious were constantly critiqued by him because they ALWAYS fell short of the kingdom he wanted us to know, with the kind of love he was willingly ready to display.

A Love that's not understood in binary in and outs but one that leaves room for each one of us to come to God in our own way.  For everything that flows through Love, everything good and wholesome is from Him.  Sacred and secular joined to together.  Flesh becoming Holy.  Sweat becoming joyful, suffering becoming blessing.

And when our hearts aren't formulating what Christ looks like we go to formulations with our mouths but since our hearts aren't alined with Him, we don't know what He looks like.  So we do what comes natural.  We revert to a scared, fearful, controlling state that wants to scare people into coming to know Christ and by scarying them into believing that THAT is the essential reason why Christ came:  to save us from Hell Fire and our sins which can destroy our lives unless we clease ourselves of our evils.

To me this is a false gospel preached more out of fear than out of Love for God.  It "sells" the gospel to a short wimpy version of Christ.  Selling him just shy as a way to live a better life and give you a great life afterwards.  Only we don't live very much of better lives than most people.  Heck, I know unbelievers who would help me in a time of need waaaay before some of my believer friends would and sadly I can give you plenty of examples of that.  Oh, but don't worry most of my believer friends don't cuss so they're good as gold.  How did it come to that?

Well the gospel has now became about us, our personal relationship and a way for "us" to get to Heaven.  It's about Us not Them.  But Jesus doesn't say that.  He says it's about Them! Not you and then them if they are lucky.  It's about them! And the extent we need to go for them (them including everyone and enemies as a whole) should be being Jesus to them.  How do we be Jesus?  We lay down our lives for the ones who hate us and call them our friends.  We're servants to the world and we become a light unto the world (not a light just for our church).

A very simple analogy of the power of Love and the light it gives off.  Light can not be contained.  It is present in darkness and those in the darkness are drawn to it……without a sales pitch!  No need for one of those.  If you need one of those somethings not right in the one doing the pitch.  Light doesn't have to be sold to someone in the darkness they can see it shinning without words.  And Jesus said you will be known by that light and that light is what will set you apart.

And seriously surrendering to this light is no easy task.  One week I was "tested" to actually practice what I preach all the time and that practicing included: not getting angry when others talked about me, argued with me, and tried to defame my character. (It was a crazy week.) Anyways to be in a constant loving mindset when others around me were wanting to argue and chose sides, had me exhausted every night like I had ran a marathon or something.  I was drained physically from the toll the spiritual had on me and mostly it was probably me fighting my own ego in all this.  I kept having to stuff it down and show God's love and my ego did not like that!  It wanted to fight, and to show everyone else around me how wrong they were and how right I was but I knew doing that was just not God-like, it was flesh like and I know now had I subjected to that it would've blown everything out of proportion and maybe even destroyed lots.  But learning to be subjective to the Spirit of Love, I seen it's healing power first hand in this situation and to me it was miraculous.  It cleared out all the negativity, united everyone and brought a sense of peace to the situation. It wasn't me doing the healing, it was Him.

Afterwards and even before this situation, other non-religious folks are drawn to the light that I try to possess most days.  I don't have to sell church but people always ask where I go.  I give love freely and the Love Spirit calls them.  It's that easy. Others see the uncontrolled life I messily live and they want it too for some reason.  They come, they ask the questions, we get in fun discussions about what I love to talk about the most: Jesus.  Don't sell church, you don't need to. Just love,  and have Faith the rest will follow.


Friday, April 3, 2015

What is Holy Week?




With this week being Holy Week, I've had little time to actually sit down in my stillness and ponder exactly "What is Holy Week?"  Something maybe I wish I were more educated on, for some reason I don't remember the term "Holy Week" being discussed often. Perhaps my church roots aren't as concerned about that as the mere number of attendees that walk through our doors on Easter morning.

And the busyness of my schedule running around buying Easter baskets, Easter dresses and lustfully wanting every Easter candy imaginable. I think I've been dreaming about Peeps lately.  I find myself in the hustle and bustle of this great Holiday and not sitting and wondering what really happened this time 2000 years ago.  Why is it so important to actually stop and meditate on what my whole Religion rest on?  It's important because the essence of my belief IS the resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ enduring one of the most brutal scenes on a Friday…just like this one.

This day is almost over and I'm just now realizing it's Good Friday.  I think back 2000 years ago, it probably seemed like a Good Friday to most people too because there were only a select few left that stuck with Jesus and his crazy shenanigans from the long week jam packed with revolutionary words and actions and the emotional grievances of his looming death.  He was a busy fellow too but busy in things that actually matter.   And the results had changed His following drastically from Jews lining up the street proclaiming "Hosanna" and waving palm branches the Sunday before to just a hand full at his crucifixion which was mostly women and very few disciples.  I often wonder where the disciples  scattered to in Jesus' most needy hours.  Probably thinking it was all over because they, like most of the Jews, thought Jesus would rescue them out from under the hand of the Roman Empire.  In a Judas Maccabeus sort of way, where he would come in sword swinging and fight back.  Only Jesus' plan was totally different than the world's way and in the most reverse picturesque way with thousands of hidden meanings behind one symbol tells us how we too, can be different from the world and take up his cross.

I've been reading, listening and researching different ways in which Jesus' Holy Week started (this was mostly done all last week) and one of the most fascinating events of the week is the Temple cleansing.  This happened the Monday before Good Friday.  I'm pretty sure this is probably what put the nail in the coffin for Jesus.  I think this is the event that really pissed people off and to think it was all out of Jesus' anger is to belittle the actual strategic event that  had been symbolically a prophecy told by Jeremiah's temple cleansing. Anger might've played a part as well since this was such an emotional week for Jesus that he started crying blood. I like how one preacher I've heard described it as a "Prophetic Theatrical Stage" for what Jesus was doing for the world.  Again so many hidden meanings to this one act that to describe it as an act straight from emotion is probably the wrong way to describe it.

A cleansing of the Temple could mean many things.  A stop to worldly profit from religion;  A way of showing us we don't have to sacrifice animals anymore; A plea for the church to not let money rule it (they were selling animals); A stop to the religious paradigm of religion and politics having power over who gets "in" and who doesn't (religious power).  Or the fact that Jesus says "Destroy this temple and in 3 days I'll raise it." They laughed at that one.  It took 40 something years to reconstruct the temple and it still wasn't done…..But we know now Jesus was talking about His body.  Maybe he was proclaiming God is in us just as much as some temple. Sooo many layers upon layers of interpretations here just like everything Jesus does.  As if he's over 2000 years ahead of us and were still trying to catch up with our thinking.

Still I am not an expert on this, I can only say what this event looks like to me.  He was cleansing the temple run by the roman government money.  As my husband says one of my favorite symbolic terms to quote in the bible is the "Whore of Babylon riding on the back of the Beast." lol, my interpretation meaning religion married with Empire and those are the 2 systems Jesus seems to shame this whole week.  With the most revolutionary stance being the cross.  As if the world had Jesus on trial. The world being ruled by political power and religious blame.  The two ways man likes to rule others, something only intended for God. Caiaphas the high priest (religion) and Pountius Pilate (politics) being the representation of both systems and us thinking that these systems work, in the end, kill God.

I've also heard it wasn't Jesus but US that was on trial that day and Heaven throwing out the verdict by resurrecting our sacrifice by the system.  Is this the gospel we need ears to hear about?

Jesus was the resistance to the plan, to the way things are.  The ways of the world. He endangered power from the rulers and the systems that the religious have set in place to "keep things straight."   Only in His proclamations he was trying to right our wrongs.  To usher in a Kingdom found of Love of God completely and love of your neighbor as yourself.  What do we do when we don't think this Kingdom will stand?  We go back to the "old" way of thinking. The old kingdoms have it all lined up in place and all we have to do is be obedient, follow the crowd.

As crazy as this year has been I look at being a Christ follower a lot different than the previous year.  I think I was a Christ Fan but not a follower. To follow is not to proclaim him most showily and be on the "right" side.  No, to follow is to become aware that the world's needs and realize our systems are failing, have failed, and to follow Christ example in ushering His Kingdom on Earth.  To put ALL our eggs in one basket and see where it takes us. To become Healers to the world.  Not saving people for a certain afterlife but bring parts of that Kingdom here.  That will set us apart from other beliefs.  Being Jesus, not just talking about Him in church.

And I realize this is the gospel that compels and this is the gospel that is the fisher of Men.  The more I unearth this gospel, the more I see people who devour it's content.  People who aren't even religious long for the things that Jesus has for us.  Only we've shielded his truth with our own desires of vanity and greed, letting our sins seep back into our thinking of how the world is ran for us by us.  If we believe the last are to be first then we believe in making our needs last.  We see blessing in persecution and opportunity in laying down our lives even for our enemies.  Then we will see the Kingdom government in which the world will be ran and that is through love.  The symbol of my Faith.

Maybe that is what Holy Week is.  A remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ's Last week before his coronation of King of the World.  The bravery of His stances as he reveals his real intent of how he plans to rule the World.