Some of the reasons I am a Post-Charismatic, and barely holding on to that…III

•August 30, 2008 • 4 Comments

There is a lot of abuse among the teens that come to our teen center. I don’t have any exact numbers but I know from conversations that most girls have been sexually abused, a lot of the guys have have been physically abused. There is so much violence done to them in so many ways. Most of that violence comes from fathers.

It is hard to explain what that does to a young person. To keep themselves safe they develop all kinds of ways to put distance between what hurts them and themselves. Very often those defense mechanisms also push much of everything that would help them away as well.

Like God.

If God is anything like a Father I want nothing to do with him. If he’s anything like “my” dad, he doesn’t give rip about me, just beats me whenever he feels like it or crawls in bed with me whenever he gets horny. Uses me, abuses me, laughs at me, belittles me and then blames me for it all.

I think I saw glimpses of that “god” on some You Tube vidoes from the Lakeland Outpouring. I hadn’t seen anything or read much simply because I couldn’t care less and I didn’t want to make this a Todd Bentley issue. He’ll have to own and deal with his part and my prayer still is that he could do so among a loving and caring community.

But I was in tears as I watched people getting punched and kicked, disrespected in all kinds of ways, in a circus style fashion in the name of god. I was mortified as I heard stories being told about this violence to the amusement of the crowds. God is telling us to punch people, kick them, disrespect them so that they can be healed and understand better God’s gentleness and love for us??????

The healing ministry of that “god” I won’t have any part of. The “apostles” supporting and providing covering for this “out-pouring” I won’t have any part of either. That “god”, I won’t have any part of either.

I will support a healing ministry that is about restoration. Physical, Emotional, Social, Racial etc, etc. I will support a kind, loving, gentle, respectful movement towards wholeness. I will submit to and support Apostles, male and female, who model the gentle and kind heart of the Father, who lives and breathes the nurturing Mother heart of God, God in one, mother and father, instructing the different tribes of God in how to love, drawing these broken and hurt little one towards God for restoration.

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Some of the reasons I am a Post-Charismatic, and barely holding on to that…Part II

•August 27, 2008 • 4 Comments

I used to take such pride in the word Charismatic. I felt it separated me from ordinary Christians and put me on a higher level. We were the “real” deal, not like those Baptists or Methodists. We were God’s special forces among puny regular soldiers.

I “sobered” up a bit when I came in contact with the Vineyard Movement. In general, people of that movement had a great love for “other” Christians, sometimes even people who had no love for them. I had and still have great respect for many Vineyards leaders who had and have the attitude of peace making when faced with unfair sometimes very mean-spirited attacks.

There was a very “earthy” feel to the Vineyard church i started attending in the early 90’s. I was amazed how down to earth people were and the love they had for each other and others. On Sunday morning you would often see bikers and bankers at the same table drinking coffee and worshiping together.

There was something going on that has later been labeled the “Prophetic Movement” with some of it’s origins in Kansas City, that’s when a lot of s**t was hitting the fan for me. It’s like many people stopped thinking. People turned acts of love and kindness into waiting for hours for the professional “prophets” to give them a word. People who seemingly hours earlier wanted nothing more than to see God move in the supernatural right smack in the middle of their ordinary life, at work, in the grocery store, now lived at conferences or traveling to see the prophets. Character had played a huge role up til now, all of a sudden people started over-looking obvious character flaws to “receive a word”. Gifting became king, over-ruling everything.

All my issues with what was going on multiplied greatly during what was called the “Toronto Blessing”. Another “move” of God. Among some people you were considered worse than a total heathen if you didn’t go to Toronto to receive the blessing. Shaking, barking, laughing, falling, became signs of maturity for many. Staying married, paying bills, loving your neighbors getting involved in your community fell on the back burner; boring things left for the non-committed, nonspiritual losers. I do want to note that many Vineyard leaders fought this tooth and nail and tried their best I think to bring things back normal, whatever that was.

Charismatic issues was not part of the main factors why my wife and I eventually left the Vineyard. A lot of what I have shared in this post I didn’t connect with theology until later. I just thought people were stupid and immature, to be honest. It has been easier to make a fair and balanced take on things from the “outside” so to speak. I still have friends in the Vineyard, some deeply committed to the things of God, in very mature and wholesome ways. Some, still with their heads in the clouds with little or no connection with reality, tending only to their need for spiritual fixes. All they talk about are what has happened to them, or what will happen to them, or what they wish happened to them. They get the ‘no-one-is-home” look in their eyes at any great story of super natural kind. Sad really.

Calling myself Charismatic I feel, will side-track me. Since healing, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and things like that are not the main point of it all, it can’t be my main focus. It’s like if I was a football player but called myself a Gatorade drinker. Drinking Gatorade is important but not the main point. I hope that makes sense.

I am trying to rid myself of all additives, I don’t even call myself a Missional Christian, or a Emergent Christian, I am deeply committed to both those conversations but my main focus is Jesus, as naive as that may sound. My life has been deeply interrupted by God. I have been called to follow Jesus wherever He may take me. That’s my main focus.

Some of the reasons I am a Post-Charismatic, and barely holding on to that…

•August 26, 2008 • 14 Comments

First I would like to say I am a sinner. Hearing the news about Todd Bentley one of the key leaders in the Lakeland Revival in Florida was heart breaking. A family suffering, relationship broken,very real painful stuff noone should have to go through. I hope all of us prayed and kept praying for this family and all involved.

What I am about to write has little or nothing to do with Mr. Bentley. My heart goes out to him and his family. I am praying for people involved.

This is more about me. And the reasons why I couldn’t care less about much of what goes on in the charismatic world. I used to care. I used to be neck deep in that world. I don’t anymore.

If you sat down with me tomorrow for a cup of coffee and told me a story of you meeting with angels and praying for people who got healed, prophesied great things that came true, great stories of God moving through you with power, my immediate response would be “whatever”.

If you told me about how God had called you to plant a church and that it would grow to 2000 in just weeks and that many apostles and prophets had verified this my immediate response would be “whatever”.

I couldn’t care less. Not impressed, not moved and not interested. Count me out.

Ahh, you say but this is from God. God has promised success. Through His word and through His servants the prophets. God will pour out His Spirit and great things will happen! This thing will be great, awesome, like nothing we’ve ever seen. Tons of miracles, we’ll travel across the world and God will use us to spread this thing.

My response at this point will be something like “ZZZZZZZZZZZ, oh sorry I dozed off somewhere around you saying Ahh, but…”

Why?

Discipleship.

I am done taking shortcuts. I am done cutting corners. I am done with Christian entertainment. I will never again wait in line to get in to a conference or revival to see God move. I will not drive an inch, to see something powerful or hear from fantastic prophets speaking with great accuracy. I will not pay a dime for a book filled with amazing stories about the super natural.

When it’s all said and done, we don’t want to follow Jesus. We have little or no interest in becoming disciples but do entertain me, please, tickle me, thrill me, fill me, anoint me, me, me, me, me. Make me powerful, important, please let me experience something great, my faith would be so strong. Bless me with money so I can travel around the country to see Your power. Me, me, me, me…

I am reading scripture different now, sure miracles are in there, they play an important role but what role is that exactly? I fully believe God does the same stuff today, I don’t have issues with that. As I read scripture now, I have found some stuff I never saw before. People’s response. We were told if people experienced the super natural they would have an encounter with God and they would of course accept Jesus’ call for discipleship. It happens in scripture but something else happens as well, like people having an encounter with the power of God and…not giving a rip. Just being happy with the result, but no intention to repent and follow Jesus, or even thanking Him. Whole cities earning the rebuke from Jesus for their response to the displays of God’s power. Their response earning a rebuke? Not repenting. Not giving a rip.

In another place someone wants to buy the power, for his own good. The apostles would not have any of that crap. In one place, people want to declare the Apostles gods. They wouldn’t let them. I wish more people today wouldn’t let that happen either.

I don’t know why you would want to impress me, but if you did, don’t go to the super natural. Don’t brag. Let me watch you live. How are you with your kids? Your husband/wife? How do you suffer? How do you deal with stress? How’s your radical hospitality? How do you love the un-lovable? How’s the faith after a season on hell-on-earth? How do you deal with un-answered prayers? How’s your courage as you wait? How do you deal with loosing a job?

or,

Share stories about outrageous hospitality, extreme commitment to the small and insignificant, radical focus on the marginalized, brokenness over the invisible people, share your suffering, your “faith-injuries”, your low points, your weaknesses, your brokenness, your non-bendable fight against injustice, you’ll have my ears.

We are addicted to power. We don’t want to live in reality. We have turned the message of hope into a market place of religious experiences. Turned discipleship in to consumerism. We don’t want to listen to God because when we do we die, when we do, we loose everything, when we do it becomes about God not about us. As long as we are blinded by the so called powerful we will be powerless. As long as we measure maturity through apparent success and look-a-like power we will never really see maturity or power.

Maybe as we speak like fools and draw attention to ourselves, we should show our scars, the cost of our discipleship, the proof of our commitment,  not ourselves, not our accomplishments, not our own greatness. If we should brag, let’s brag about our Leader.  I am tired and I am rambling like a maniac, I’ll have to continue…

What about Abercrombie & Fitch?

•July 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

We have prayed for three years that God would bring us the teens who don’t have any other place to go. I think God has answered those prayers. We get to engage with these “Gifts from God” who wander our way, we share meals with them, we share space, we share stories. We share pain, we share joy, at times we even share silence. It’s a pretty rough crowd at times. I am very comfortable and get along great with pot heads, skaters, emo and goth people. I like and appreciatewannabe gang bangers, street fighters and strange odd balls. Some of the girls that come to visit are of very questionable character. I like it this way. I love the fact that these teens have a place to call their own. It does create some provblems for us but I’ll gladly deal with all those problems to keep this place as open as possible. So what about Abercrombie & Fitch? What about the teens who have wealthy parents? What about the teens who gets dropped off in a Hummer? What about the teens who already have collage paid for? What about the teens who think they are the center of the universe and we are only here to get them what they want? Well, we welcome them with open arms. You see, there is truly an open table at our teen center. You are welcome just as you are. If you showed up at a Friday afternoon you could see some of this in play. We call it Friday feast, and I have written about it before but I can’t help myself, I have to mention it again. On well worn couches, gathered for a pretty healthy meal, you can at times see this mysterious thing when for a moment teens forget who they are when it comes to sub-culture and engage with each other on truly human basis, through honest, authentic relationship. We are no longer skaters, emo, goth, prep, geeks. We are just human. It’s looking straight into the kingdom of God in so many ways.

I think teens long for somewhere to belong. I think teens want to be heard. I think teens want space to talk about stuff without correction or interuption. I think teens want to check out their beliefs against a non-judgmental sounding board. If you don’t over react over the exterior, you will find that teens are in many ways the same. They deal with similar stuff irregardless of the clothes they wear, or parental income.

In some ways I don’t respect sub cultural boundaries. I don’t believe in separation of these subcultures. If I were to just serve the poor teens or the skaters, or the emo or goths I think I would live and preach a shattered gospel. The Kingdom advances when such boundaries are done away with. Somehow we have to learn to live together. We don’t all have to become the same but we do have to learn to live together. I will gladly live with the stress and conflict that comes from this melting pot of subcultures to see the Kingdom advance in the midst of it all. So, I am glad to see the numbers of Abercrombie & Fitch teens increase at our teen center.

Pain

•June 6, 2008 • 1 Comment

She is a very cute and bubbly 13 year old. At first, you may think she is ADD to the max. She flies around, changes the subject a lot, says very random things. She wanders off at times and ends up in places she shouldn’t be. She really does not like to be told what to do. I think a lot of people stop there. It takes quite an effort to have any sort of meaningful conversations and interactions with her. At the Teen Center however, we believe that the harder the teen is to get along with, the more akward and weird the teen is, the more the teen rubs us the wrong way, the more time and energy we will spend with them. We consider them sent to us by God. A gift, sometimes in very strange wrapping.

Today, at the first day of our Summer Day Camp, Xtreme 678 , I got to spend some time with this young girl, this gift from God, in very strange wrapping. We played chess. She didn’t really know how. She moved pieces the wrong way, she laughed at me when I tried to teach her, she made eye contact. This may not seem like such a big deal but if you knew her history you would understand. She lives in a foster home. She was put there because of horrible abuse. Unspeakable things done to her as she was growing up.

There is this strange place, this hard to explain thing that happens, when a  teen knows that you know, when without words, through eye contact, you somehow share their story, as eyes well up with tears and a disarming silence is shared, and somehow, somehow, a little bit of peace and hope is found. It is amazing how much can be said without words. It is amazing how well things can be communicated through presence, time and silence.

She needs healing. Lots of it. Her world is complete chaos. Her world is a raging hurricane of emotions and pain, suffering and evil. Her world is darkness. We don’t wait on the outside for her to figure things out, for her to clean up her act, for her to “mature”.

She is sent to us. By her Maker. For us to take on the hurricane in her life head on. Where there is darkness, we will be light, where there is pain, we will be healing balm, where men have almost destroyed her self image completely, we will rebuild from the ashes, with the help from her Maker, the beautiful gift to the world that she was meant to be. We will share her pain, we will ease her suffering, we will show her what a father should be, we will show her how a young girl should be treated.

We will push back the evil in her life, one smile at the time, on gentle hug at the time, minute after minute spent listening to her stories, time after time telling her how beautiful she is…

Heaven, Hell and Silly Random Questions

•April 1, 2008 • Leave a Comment

So, today at the Teen Center there were only girls around the table to begin with, well the guy I work with and I would count as guys I guess. What grew out of easy conversation about school, hot guys and homework, was a rich, deep conversation about death. One of the girls lost her dad last year to stomach cancer, partially due to drug use. Another girl’s dad is dying due to a heart condition and had lost her favorite uncle a few years ago. The third and last girl around the table, her dad, well… step-dad, was not a subject she was willing to discuss. She was however dealing with feelings of loss and some sort of “death” due to divorce. We shared, like I said, a deep rich, sad conversation about death and how sometimes places, songs and people remind us of the people we have lost. I told the story of a visit to the cemetery where my dad and grandparents are buried and how I was overwhelmed with emotions. One girl asked for permission to play her dad’s song and she said she promised not to cry. She looked very relieved when we told her that it was fine if she cried and that we may cry with her. So together, somewhat misty eyed, we listened to “Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door” Guns & Roses style. A beautiful moment of silence followed and then we started talking about heaven. What do we believe, or not, about heaven. One girl believed there is a heaven but didn’t have much to say about it, which we explained to her was fine. No need for clear answers. The next girl had lots to say about it. She believes our collective positive memories becomes at death our own personal heaven. A very spiritual universe, where she can do whatever she wants, and only good things happen, because she is only a memory, or spirit, she can travel across this universe at will. We encouraged her by appreciating the fact that she had put such effort into thinking about this and asked her lots of questions. Not to prove her wrong or point out faults but to make sure we had understood her beliefs. We then shared what we believed and went on to do the same thing with hell. A common thing among the two girls, one had to leave, was that there probably would have to be a hell because what if people didn’t like god and heaven, it would be really “sucky” to stay there forever. So they thought that, although kinda creepy, there’s probably room for a hell in their thinking. Plus the fact that really creepy, evil people should not be allowed in to heaven, it would kinda ruin things. Another girl had to leave, one girl went to play some pool. A “new” girl joined us on the couches and the reponse to our questions about heaven or hell was a little chilling. “I don’t care, there probably is a heaven and a hell, but I’m gonna do what I gonna do and then god can whatever he wants to. Noone will or can control me. I’m my own”.

We then gathered on the couches for a time of “Absolute Random and Whimsical Questions”. Here are some examples; “If you were stuck in a room full of colored balls, what song would you sing?” or “Would you rather be able to taste colors or see flavors?” or “What would you rather eat, a teaspoon of puss or a scab off of someones wound?”.

It may seem like the last part was un-necessary but we have found that humor can be a great tool, a chance to connect and a great way to end the day

Presence

•March 24, 2008 • 1 Comment

He calls himself “a little autistic” or “not as other kids” or sometimes he makes comments about being heavily medicated. He is short and really heavy. He lies and exaggerates often. I don’t think he means it in an evil and deceiving way. I think this is how he tries to belong. It is very awkward to have him at the teen center. He rubs the other teens the wrong way often and many teens try to avoid him. That’s why he is such a gift to us. He throws off the idea that community is perfect and that we have it all figured out. He forces us to re-examine ourselves and look for ways to engage with him in ways that are helpful for him.

This young man came to the teen center today, early, because it’s spring break. He tells his stories. Today he said the military called him and wanted him to train some special forces. He was also going to become a NASCAR driver. He also had become a dragster driver and a sponsored skateboarder. I didn’t engage with that at all. It could possibly throw him off and contribute to him becoming frustrated. That becomes a waste of time. So instead, I give him, presence. I laugh with him, we shot some pool, we listen to his ipod and at a quarter to five he has to leave and he always says something to the affect of “man, I love it here, you’re the best, we’re like this” and he tries to cross his index and middle finger. There is power in presence.

When he left, a 14 year old girl came by and she’s a tricky one. She’s a hider. She doesn’t like to talk. She really wants to communicate but she doesn’t like to talk. Today she looked really sad. So we sat down by the computer and I asked her what the saddest song she knew was. She said, “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride. We listened to it and watched the video. It was really sad. I played one of my saddest songs “Who Says Grown Men Don’t Cry”, by Tim McGraw, then she picked another sad song, “Christmas Shoes” by NewSong, and then we sat for awhile together, sad. She sighed really loud. Then she smiled really big, jumped off her chair and said, “Well, I gotta go, see ya tomorrow”. She jumped and skipped out of the teen center. There is power in presence.