Sunday, April 24, 2016

Learning to bleed

  For most of my teens and adult life, I've attempted to be a good leader. I've read books, went to conferences, seminars, etc. Those in and of themselves are not necessarily bad things but in my quest I've come to the realization that mass producing leadership usually doesn't really seem to prepare someone to the fullest. A true leader must learn to love those he leads. Without love, things become misguided. We begin building empires instead of empowering people. I understand this isn't an easy task to uphold...because there is no such thing as love without pain. Love does not fully form within us without understanding rejection, judgement, and betrayal.

  I've hated this process, I've tried to run from it, curse it, ignore it, but love will not be silent. I've felt the judgment and rejection while I tried to launch the same back at others. I've been in the company of those whom I felt betrayed me, but without my heart being laid open I would have never learned to bleed. I could have grown cold. I could have withdrawn. All justified responses to the naked eye. I've pissed and moaned, and complained, and threw temper tantrums. I've made awfully painful mistakes in the blindness of my pain. I've had to trudge through the messes I've made, learn that a bail out is not the answer, and that you can't draw blood from a stone. Blood is the life source of the human body. No one can draw life from you if you're heart is a stone. Learning to bleed is not a bad thing. It's messy, it's painful, but it's necessary to produce life in others. They have to know you've loved and weathered the pain. They have to know you understand their pain and you'll stand in their pain with them.

  For those I've judged, I'm sorry. Those I've betrayed, I'm sorry. Those I've rejected, I'm sorry. My heart is bleeding for you...not from you.

  I don't think I've fully articulated what's coming out of me right now, but I know learning to bleed has caused me to love more not less. What else should be articulated than greater love?


Monday, February 8, 2016

Take me to church

   Church is simply gathering together with those who love Jesus, love each other, and desire to share life and faith with one another. Those who desire growing in the depths of their faith and stretch their wings in a safe place. Here's some things I've pondered about church:

People are more important than programs

Community outreaches are great, people who love their community are greater

The venue does not make you a church. The heart of it does.

Don't mistake a leaders humanity, but don't stop believing in them either

Don't lead from the stage or the board room, lead from the heart

Tithing, volunteering, and attendance are not signs of commitment

Be inclusive

Eat together. A LOT.

Discipleship is sharing your life and wisdom, not a 12 week course

Do more hang outs and less "home groups" (life, community, cell groups, etc)

Be authentic. People can smell fake like dog poop on the bottom of your shoe.

Give because you love, no other reason

Love and grace > power and protocol 

I guess that's enough for now...Love is the movement y'all!

Monday, October 19, 2015

God of the blues

  For most of my life I've listened to all types of music. (With the exception of the short time in my early teen years that it was hardcore or piss poor!) I love a sweet bluesy lick on a guitar. It feels like home when I hear bluegrass. I can head bang to Rage Against the Machine, and have a romantic date with Maggie while listening to John Legend. I do not believe in sacred or secular. I hear The Lord's voice in U2 and feels his joy in a Bruno Mars song. Even the most hallow songs of hopelessness I can hear a persons heart cry like a  psalm, and I know God has heard that cry with compassion. 

  He's the Father of music, all music. Not just your cookie cutter hillsong tunes. Although, you can find him in those too. Put your iPod on shuffle and go see where he may show up. 


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tithing vs Giving

  Now, this one may be foreign to some so please stay with me. For those who may not be from the church world I'll explain tithing briefly. It was established by God for the Jewish people as an offering system that would use 10% of their cattle, livestock, grain, vegetables, etc. to take care of the temple and those who took care of said temple such as the Levites. Instead of farming or some other trade these men spent all of their time taking care of this temple. This system helped sustain normal living needs for these guys. Now, if you look back through the Old Testament before all the temple rituals and such we see a guy named Abraham. The first man to ever give a tithe. Genesis 14 describes Abram (before his name change from the Lord) just freshly out of battle. Along comes a Priest named Melchizedek offering these tired soldiers bread and wine. Abram's response to such a blessing is to give a tenth of all their spoils from war. 

    Let's take a look at a few things here:

1. Abram's tithe was a response to the Priests kindness. If you would've just finished up kicking ass and taking names, you would probably be ready for a beer and bologna sandwich too. 

2. This tithe was not of Abram's income. It was from someones belongings whom of which he had taken their life and then all their stuff too.

3. You never see Abram tithe again.

  A lot of church leaders like to use this as leverage to say that tithing was initiated before the law of Moses. That's fine if you see it that way, but then people should only be tithing once in their life and it should be from someone else's belongings essentially...right?
Let's move on...

  Later in Genesis 28 we see Jacob making mention of giving a tithe to the Lord after his wrestling match through the night, but once again it's AFTER he saw the Lord and received a blessing AND his promise is to tithe off whatever the Lord gives Him IF the Lord keeps him safe. So apparently we can put conditions on tithing?

  Let me just say something here. I believe the tenth had very little to do with the giving as a whole. They were responding to something. A blessing from another or from the Lord himself. Their response was whatever they desired, not something God demanded. Now I'm not going to even touch the levitical law of tithing because when you dig deep enough you see it never amounted to money but more agriculture and sometimes it ended up being more than ten percent. Also, if you were say, a blacksmith you didn't tithe at all. My personal favorite tidbit of info is found in Deuteronomy 14:24-26. If you lived too far from the temple you could exchange your agricultural tithing gift for coins, take those coins and buy food and strong drink (beer), and basically fellowship before the Lord.

  By the time you reach the New Testament tithing is only mentioned in conjunction with Abrams generosity because he wasn't commanded to do it, or Jesus' message to the Pharisees about remembering the tithe but forgetting justice and mercy to the poor and needy. NONE of which describes financial income! Jesus fulfilled all of the law and the prophets. He put His temple inside of us where He can dwell forever. The tithe is obsolete and we give from our hearts. Generosity is mentioned several times in the New Testament in reference to taking care of the poor, widows, and orphaned. Also, the Apostles and other leadership were given to out of generosity. 

  So without boring you any longer I'll say this, I quit tithing years ago. I do give to ministers and ministries who have helped me grow and learn, and I give to the poor as often as possible, but every time I get a pay check I do not look at my gross income and make my God contributions. Jesus gave to us because he loved. The early church gave to the needy out of love and compassion and to the apostles out of love and appreciation. Giving within the new covenant is out of love not command. It is not given a percentage only guidance from the Holy Spirit. Let Him guide you in ALL financial decisions and you'll never lack. I used to tithe and like everyone else my finances fluctuated. Now, that I don't guess what? Nothing has changed. Unless you're counting the fact that I don't worry about God smiling my bank account if I don't give every single Sunday. I believe in giving to churches, ministries etc. I just don't believe in pressuring people to do it and making sure people give an exact percent for God to recognize it. Give what you desire and give because you LOVE.

P.S. Malachi 3:8-12 is not a bludgeoning weapon to be used to threaten non tithers. Those robbing God mentioned in this passage were Priests taking more then their fair share. It has absolutely zero to do with new covenant giving. It's a misuse of authority to use this scripture in such a way.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Legos: a picture of real community

   Everyone has seen or played with a Lego before. Most everyone has seen the very funny Lego movie. Legos are a timeless toy. Since their arrival on the toy market they keep finding their way into kids homes around the world. The marketing and gimmicks may change but the concept is always the same....a ton of little individual pieces that once placed together have endless possibilities. Short ones, long ones, wide ones, zig zags, etc. Each a different purpose but all together for the purpose of building a fortress, or little people, maybe even a car, or my personal favorite a millennium falcon!

  My point here is short and yet for me profound. The Legos are speaking to us, or maybe more the Holy Spirit via the example of Legos. Though we are all individual people, our purpose is collective. We were not made to do this alone. We are designed for family and friendship. At our core we are a Lego...fashioned to  link to others for a common goal. Love is our goal. Shared life is our mission. Joint participation is our cause. To quote my friend Ben Delgado - There is no 'us' and 'them' only US and unrealized US. We need're not alone. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

He defines us

  So I've been contemplating our identity as sons and daughters and my thoughts lead me back to the garden. I do not hold to the belief that sin seperates us from God. God runs to sinners, we see this in the life of Jesus...the perfect reflection of our Father. Separation is a westernized idea. Sin is missing the mark. What mark? The mark of being truly ourselves. Our sinful behaviors are simply symptoms of lack of understanding who we are.

  The story of Adam and Eve is not just about eating fruit that God said not to eat. We see the problem when "the accuser" convinces them that they can be like God by knowing the difference in good and evil. A few things to consider here:

  1. They were already like God, made in His image. 
  2. They had to be convinced that drawing lines if demarcation between good and evil was  
       The lens our  Father saw us through.
  3. The separation came from them not the Father.

  When we don't see the Father accurately we don't see ourselves accurately. They were already in God's image but they believed the lies told to them and began to think the Father didn't make them in His likeness, and that he would be angry at their poor choice. Then the scapegoating began..."but the serpent convinced me" / "but the woman." They were convinced that they could not trust our Father to define us but we could define ourselves based on our goods and evils as opposed to Him defining us in grace. He defines us in the incarnation. Jesus the perfect human re birthed us, to prove our likeness. We look into Him as a mirror of how God sees us.

  We have so many filters we see God through. Our upbringings, our country of birth, any painful experiences, etc. Ask any person with a poor relationship with their dad. They struggle to see God as dad. This is the renewing of our mind. This is repentance. Taking sides with Jesus in the light of how He sees us not how we see ourselves. I hope my thoughts here are clear. Let's keep asking Holy Spirit to show us the difference in our own made up images of God, and the real ones. We are sons and daughters not slaves to our definitions of ourselves.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sometimes it's wrong to be right

   For some time now I've been going thru a major upheaval of all things faith and theology. Don't get me wrong it's been a really good thing but my desire to really understand has become a point of contention in my response and interaction with others point of view. My friend  Randall Worley has said something to me before that has really began to show me my arrogance in my change of views. 

"If it doesn't cause me to love God more, myself more, and others more then it's heresy." 

  This is his litmus test for heresy and what I've been pondering as of late. Changing what you believe on topics and evolving faith is a part of every persons journey. There's a way to share your point to help someone and then there's a way to make them turn deaf ear to what you say. I've sadly been entrenched in the latter. So despite my growing in revelation, my desire to be right has caused some people to think I'm an asshole. To which to some degree I would say you're right. Hopefully though you'll see me with eyes of grace and forgiveness and know I'm still growing in love myself. Sorry for not loving well. Sometimes being right is wrong....being right at the cost of not loving is wrong. 

 Maybe we can all take a lesson from my screw up in the light of gay marriage rulings or confederate flag debates. You may be right, you may be wrong, but if you're  not loving then it's ALL wrong. I'm not done questioning a lot, I'm not done trying to challenge the systems, and mind sets of the current church and world, but I am done with being bad at loving thy neighbor.