Sunday, May 25, 2003

Let us not underestimate the impact that our families of origin have on our undertaking to serve Christ in the establishing of His Church. Every time I am buffetted by the winds of change (or at least the impending prospects of such) or when I am confronted with difficult people with difficult needs, I immediately face my ineptitude. In the presence of my limitations I want to compensate and this out of my own efforts and attempts to self-heal. This is precisely where I operate out of my woundedness and pain. God can't use that.

I am learning that to let God do what he wants to do in his church, I must needs be freed up from my own hurts. And I am discovering that there has been much in the past and ongoing dissolution of my own family that the Lord is healing. The hurts have not necessarily come from what someone has DONE to me but from the lies that I have believed about myself and the misinterpretations I made along the way when it came to my identity formation. It is not that I harbor blame toward anyone. As I continue to learn about the perilous track my brother is choosing to take at present, (despite all counsel and wisdom), I just wonder will when the destruction in my family (and other families) end?

Just wanted to let you know that the Gentle Healer continues to bind up my hurts and replace it with His truth in the most remarkable ways and I got to see that last night about 330 am. I am learning to dance to His rhythm. And to think He promises me that my home and place is with Him.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

I know there is some theological profundity in this somewhere............letting a stranger pull, poke, twist, lift, tilt, grip, tuck, tap, fold, spindle and mount- first one hip, then the other- with his full weight borne upon his knee while pulling on your limbs in ungodly I'm thinking, "I ain't all here." But he did his internship in Tennessee, so he couldn't have been all bad.

Breathe in, hold it.......let it out.......(one pull, then), pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop (all at once). Adjustment # 1 under my belt. Can't wait till my reflection stops looking straight in the carnival mirror.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I was just remembering how I used to be..............I mean just mere months ago. I used to think that planting a church had to drip with such relevant coolness that our level of coolitude would fragrantly exude from us- drawing in cool-tuned folk with the irresistable attraction of a honeybee leg to pollen. And then, when they would see just how dang cool we/I and the Church could be, just WHO could resist? I got tired just thinking about how we could try to keep up with the Coolios. I had to make sure I had the right ticket so I could board the next Cool Train when it came sweeping in that I spent most of my energy just looking for the porter.

Well, he never punched that ticket. So into the blogosphere, I establish this hallmark of truth: I ain't cool. My mom used to tell me. My wife tells me. And they're cooler than I can hope to be. I rekkin' they're right. Now, I didn't say that I won't give up trying to be (insofar as I can impress m'lady). I just don't think I have to impose that on His Church. He doesn't need a cool Church. Just a real one where He is front, center and Lord. Tis all. I can't find it where it says, "If Coolio be lifted up, then I will draw all people unto Myself."

What a relief. Really! So what do we have to do to bring people in? Get out of the way and get my grimy paws off of stuff that only fits the healing hands of a rugged Carpenter Messiah. Oh, I get a mini tool belt, but I'm only assisting the Master Builder. And He has even better tools than that wood-wizard extraordinaire, Norm Abram, on The New Yankee Worshop(tell me what tool does that sucker NOT have?).

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

11 a.m.
On the morrow
Chiro-doc-dood poking, prodding, ascertaining
Spine rejoicing
12 p.m.

Monday, May 19, 2003

I've seen Matrix 2: Reloaded twice to date. I will probably see it at least two more times to sleuth out some more information in order to make a more in-depth evaluation of it. My tack regarding my future review will decidedly venture into an approach that is not as optimistic concerning the much aforementioned Christ-parallelism (especially that which surrounded the first installment, The Matrix......for a taste, go here). I do want to take different angle and pose some questions about this genre-nouveau that I feel not many are asking with much clarity.

I did like the film, just for the sheer spectacle of the accomplishment. As a sci-fi buff, I found myself laughing at times with glee at the technological marvel of the effects. In this, the film delivers. We are taken to realms of sight so stunning as to sit transfixed, beholden to our techno-gods with rapt attention. Is this inherently and potentially a dangerous place to be or is it just plain fun- to be attuned to a much anticipated satiation in the form of matter how metaphorically/allegorically imbibed it appears?

Sunday, May 18, 2003

I phreeked out my back last Thursday. In my consummate manliness while pumping iron (specifically, squatting), a certain portion of my musculature in my lower back decided NOT to maintain its stabilizing efforts on a certain area of my lumbar vertebrae and disengaged, pulling my lower back out of alignment. I have gone through this once a few years ago and a doc of chiropractic literally straightened me out, making me a believer in the practice in the process. Now my pelvis has been jerked inward toward my front side while at the same time, I have a noticeable tilt to the right. Too much information? You oughta see me in the mirror. My wife laughs at the sight of me. My dog ponders with quizzical looks. I can't get into my Dodge Intrepid right now. I can only sleep on my recliner. When I enter a room, people grimace in mild sypathetic pain. Even now, as I contemplate a cessation from my normally physically active life in the recuperation, I admit I am somewhat down in the dumps.

But hey, nothing like looking forward to having pix taken of yer innards and having some stranger push and poke on your back and hearing the refreshing "POP" of the vertebrae surrendering back into alignment.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Just saw Matrix 2: Reloaded last night. I'm still sifting through the massive images and layered storylines and cryptic innuendos unleashed on me as a result of this motion picture. As the messiah-figure in this story takes on greater depth and detail, so too, does the double, triple and even quadruple-mindedness of the storyline as it waxes inexorably more ethereal. We are bamboozled by not-yet-seen state-of-the-art (but soon to be outdated) sci-fi effects. What more does this modern-day parable of our own plight and destiny have to say about the shadow side of who is really in control of what (which is arguably what this picture and it's predecessor wrestle with as a key question to understanding the whole genre....especially in light of the sequel!) More later perhaps, if I can get the red pill unlodged from the back of my throat.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Solitude is the furnace of transformation.

-Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Many are quite familiar with Nouwen's observation on solitude. Seems good to be able to relegate it to the realm of nifty comments as opposed to the halls of personal experience. But that doesn't produce inner regeneration and life change.

You see, I belong to a Fight Club of sorts. We had been talking about the spiritual disciplines a week ago, mainly lamenting how undisciplined we tend to be (or maybe it was just me). We acceded to the fact that such disciplined spiritual pursuits contribute to the spritual giantism in our forefathers/mothers who have paved the way. But for me, I effectively wane toward spiritual mongoloidism. I get stuck inside, stymied by my half-hearted attempts to shed the mantle of self on my own terms. Besides, the glossy-smooth, "everything's okay" church planter, got-it-all-together, hand-shaking, ear-ticklin'-butt-likkin' veneer is quite a suit to don and doesn't peel off easily.

Well, we say, "why don't we skip meeting next week and spend that time in solitude?" Ain't no thang. We agree to it and depart. Turns out, the day (yesterday) we chose to mount our spyerchul dissaplen horsey on our solitude saddle was ALSO the day of fasting and prayer for the Palmers, which I found out this past weekend. Somehow I had conveniently displaced from my consciousness the plans for solitude in recognition of the call to fast, which I was all too eager to do. But come Wednesday, I was not to be left off the hook. Two disciplines in one day to see what I'm really made of.

Through the fast and the solitude, I did not stand to gain anything. I was not supposed to. I got to see glimpses of myself as my mind would be bombarded by my mini-idols and vagabond thoughts demanding allegiance to their crowns. It was about Mark, Jennifer and Micah and the Christ. In His amazing stillness immovable, I saw my quirkiness and vacillation and was bewildered at such fluid instability. I don't deserve to stand in the stead of a brother and sister in need nor do I deserve to bask in the solitude of the presence of the Almighty. But He gives more grace I'm told somewhere. Why do I spill that cup like a tin-can of marbles on a slanted floor?

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

So we try to make sense of this house church-home church-simple church thing..........whatever it is we want to call it. The vast amount of wisdom to be gleaned from those far more experienced and sharpened than I exudes like honey from our veritable slew of blogs on the subject. And believe me, I lap it up. Practicalities, how-to's, personal philosophies on the form and function of community building within the house church/monastic centers (whichever applies to you) permeate our posts as we scope out the horizon ahead of us and fine-tune our vision as church planters extraordinaire. But there's something of which I don't see a whole lot.

There's something that Jesus told Peter (Matt. 16:18,19) that applies to us by proxy, if for nothing but the sheer nature of the fact that we as church planters join Peter in his confession/recognition that Jesus the Christ stands front and center in this effort.......that He is the Master Architect and foundation. Jesus even volunteers information about that other kindgom diametrically opposed to the Kingdom of Light emerging.

When Jesus tells Peter that the "gates of Hades will not overcome" his church built on the Rock, there is a locational presupposition here that is often overlooked. This presupposition is based on the existential reality of church planting.....namely that two opposing kingdoms are in spiritual conflict and the church plant CAN (but is not a guarantee to) become a repository for the "walking wounded" to find healing.

To say that the gates of Hades will not overcome His church presupposes just where He chooses to plant it. The implication is that Jesus seems content to establish His church right where the yawning, gaping throat of hell lies- not in the rural, pastoral fringes away from the strife and contention. In fact, the gates of these two kingdoms clang in proximity to one another because Jesus calls us to go to where the ravages of chaos, deception and demonic rage abound. In a time long past, these forces glided along, seemingly unchecked in their apparent upper hand. And even in light of the Christ event, we still reckon these forces of deceptive darkness as something to be reckoned with, as an enemy on equal footing in power. But why aren't we talking about storming the enemy's camp, proclaiming the victory, sidling up to the blind captives and dangling the keys of victory in the bewildered faces of a declawed, defanged enemy? Because I think we still assume it's a battle.

Doesn't Hebrews 2:14 say the devil is defeated/destroyed.......rendered powerless? How much power does a powerless enemy have? Are we not more than conquerers in Him (Romans 8:37)? Why do we still battle a defeated opponent? It is true many believers are still in an experiential battle with these dark forces but that doesn't make it theologically sound. Why do we often agree that Satan is defeated but buy into being instructed on how to battle a defeated foe? Is Christ's victory on the cross more notable than complete? If the enemy is vanquished from his prior position of power, why do we progress trying to conquer enemy territory, especially as if he were able to somehow take it back? Why does the church seem to "functionally" believe that until the Lord returns in "final victory" we will still be engaged in an ongoing battle against the enemy?

These beliefs SEEM reasonable and profoundly impact how we view church planting (that is, if we recognize the imperative to "proclaim release to the captives, sight to the blind," etc., ALL of which point to not only the prophetic element of Jesus' work and identity, but ours as well). There is no New Testament mandate to seek out and fight the devil. There is, however, a great deal sad about rescuing the "blind, poor and emotionally and spiritually downtrodden" (Luke 4:18-19).

Church planting has brought me to realize experientially what true victory in Christ is as we allow Him to be Who He is, to do what He says He can do as He displaces the father of lies person by person, memory by memory and time after time. There was once a time when I thought that we could/should be the "coolest" church thingy around. I was gearing up to try to be able to do that. Thank God I know better now because there's nothing about our "hip-ness" that Jesus says will actually bring freedom and healing to those he seems pleased to bring in our midst.

We are a haven, a "cabin in the woods" (thanks Chris Marshall) for these walking wounded. This "restoration discipleship" is the best kind, because when a young adult who was sexually abused as a child hears from Jesus that she's not dirty- she is better able to choose her relationships based on how Jesus sees her and ditches a dead-end relational cycle. Because when the Man of Sorrows shows that He took upon Himself my nakedness, shame and sense of abandonment, I find I don't have to be doomed to a life of relational isolationism in perpetuity. I am not really alone. I heard those words and a I knew those words, but I needed the Word of Life to speak in the midst of my darkness. There's nothing like being "freed-up" that allows discipleship to blossom.

Therefore, I expect the calls at 3:30 am like I got last week from a demonized guy who's seeking freedom. I expect to see scores more of those "diagnosed" with various and sundry ailments of spirit and mind come into our fray. As I think on it, there's not any less than 80% of us Veritasians who do not have some sort of "issue" that we bring to the table. And it's not that we are any different from any other church, newly-planted or long-established.....God's making us pay attention to these wounded masses in our generation and he wants to do something about it. Furthermore, we've all been given the equipment to handle it. No demon-hunts, territorial reclamations for Jesus.......just doing the Kingdom work and deal with what we have to deal with in His name. The Kingdom and His righteousness suffices to cause the enemy to be displaced.

I see His church a lot differently now in light of seeing what Jesus has done and stands ready to do. I hope it's not all about doing things in a new way.