As it has been a long time running from nothing to this blog, I must admit that it was only a matter of time before I came back needing to write my thoughts, tell of my experiences, and get the word out on what new “intellect offspring” I’ve conceived. As the earth is spinning on its own orbit, it spins due to the centrifugal forces but not only within its own merits; the Sun establishes a constant pull of gravity keeping the Earth in the ever spinning motion.
As this happens effortlessly in nature, so do our hearts have constant pull towards our creator; the gravity of his love beckons us to move and live and grow.
I recently visited a church (the name to remain unknown to conceal identity). I was someone excited to visit. I had seen their website, read through their mission statement, was thrilled about their use of graphic design as a catalyst for the cause of Christ.
Here’s what I’ve gained from this experience:
I’ve gain that all churches need a bit of the EGR (extra grace required) factor. All churches I’ve visited have all tried in some form or fashion to be the best they can be. But one common denominator remains: humanity. In our attempt to regain the perfection of the garden, the seeds of God’s holyness and our walk in the garden with Him, we will always destroy the essence of that pure Love. It’s a mystery why it happens. Our selfish desires to create a perfection give us pride and ego so bitter and strong that we fall apart at the seams. We becomes masters of anger and pain, while we hope that our simplicity of just speaking the words of a prayer in church will heal our hearts. We don’t seek out the source of the healing power. We hope that all we have to do is roll up our sleeves, add A to B to get C and voila! we’ve conquered our sins. We hope that speaking in tongues “blablablahblahblahbla monimonoinomonomo” and a slight roll of our R’s will give us instant connection to the father. As I once read in Steven Furticks blog (stevenfurtick.com, nice plug), we seek out what we can gain from church, instead of asking ourselves “what can I offer to my church?”
I connect this to my coffee loving experiences. Being from the Pacific Northwest I would be outcast if not engaging throughly in my love for morning Java. If you’re not from the Seattle area, be warned that hippies still exist. Granolies, as I and several others like to call them, are people living simple lives and are generally found with matted dreadlocks and wearing unmarked neutral-colored baggy clothing. Sterotypical of a Christian to stereotype, however I found myself facing a granolie at one of my favorite coffee stands. I was sickened by the fact that I was to be served coffee from a gal with dreadlocks down past her rear end. I went about my day but remembered the gag-reflex.
I learned something that day… something my fiance told me about loving people all the same, regardless of their style. How can we serve [love] a church that is in need of real committed and passionately-driven hearts, when all they know is the facade of a passionately-driven church? The first answer came from my fiance while we were driving that rainy Sunday. She said, in her sincerest heart, “Love them just the way you would love anyone else.” Yes, they (and dreadlocks) might be weird, but Jesus didn’t gag at the thought of that. Certainly he mentions that he’ll spew out lukewarm christians out of his mouth, but until then he is longs for them to become more humble and sincere versions of themselves, leaving the fence to a life of burning fervor.
I’m stuck in a gravitational pull between being a man on my own and an being a servant. Of course, it’s my pride that gets in the way of me being a servant to others. Whatever my heart is to serve, I am selfish in protecting my ego so others don’t step on and run all over me when I’m serving. The bottom line? Jesus was a servant. Odds are he didn’t spend much time focused on protecting his “ego”. He knew who he was, and that wasn’t going to change when people would spit on him, yell and curse at him, and eventually kill him. His servanthood gave us a place of hope, a hope that says we’ll be rewarded when we give our lives up for the sake of others and for his namesake. If his promises are so concrete and direct, how come its so hard to give up our pride and selfishness?
I’m finding it’s not easy to make decisions on my own (being a person with “big kahunas”), while listening to the opinions and advice of others. Sometimes the advice dances in-sync with my own. Other times, it doesn’t. My problem: I follow through with what will give me the best popularity, being in the best light or opinion of others. Doing this however sacrifices what it means to be a man of action and decision making. It puts me in a place of weakness, however not the form that Jesus offered in giving his life, but a weakness that shows the tendency to fold and bend to the will of others opinions. I tend to get stuck in being an object of others’ opinion. My confidence is lacking and my judgment undefined and not concise. And because I lack the courage, because I haven’t given myself to the God I claim to love and follow, I am ill-conceived and run into several problems of just acting out what it is I want in life; to live with purpose and live to the fullest while making the most impact on others’ lives. I continuously make mistakes, following the same plan of action I’ve always felt was best, but always ending up in the ditch of someone’s feelings or “discouraging” comments. I take their words of bitterness and make it a judgment on my overall personality and character. I don’t take the words as a challenge but as fact on who I am or have become and it remains in my life. The enemy sees this and focuses so heavily his attention on getting me to believe in their words or beliefs about me; natively, they aren’t truth, but the enemy uses his tactics to make us think these are truth.
I feel it rising up in my life so often lately and it’s frustrating me in my decision-making as a man and my confidence in who I am in Christ; I’m allowing the enemy footholds in my life and its tearing me apart.
It’s time for change. It’s time for something new. I gotta take hold of the areas in my life that I’ve given indirectly to the enemy through passivity and apathy. It’s time to take charge as a man of servant-hood, to make decisions that best encourage and promote others. Like Philippians 2:3-4 states, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take interest in others too”. This is the heart of it all. But again, it’s so difficult for a man. He’s expected to act and show his intentions and heart through those actions. A man must be confident, strong, and bold as well as concerning all at the same time.
I was walking down my street this evening, tired and frustrated with my situation and circumstances, and venting everything out and praying and searching for answers. I was hoping and trusting that God was there to answer, to respond, and to give me a sign that he was indeed listening. In my heart of hearts, he is always there. However, I forget he is there often. After all, I am just a man: vain, independent, crass, and self-seeking; no wonder why I would forget his omnipresence. I long for that heart connection, the tie between heart and soul and God and everything that is good, but the conundrum and paradigm of the wrestling with God only breaks my hip. He’s longing for me to stop fighting, but asks me to keep moving. In my mind, this means to keep questioning him. In his, it’s relying on him through faith – to walk blindly towards his voice. I have to give up and go with his plan in order for things to be good.
In this life we have problems we are faced with, problems that if left untouched will swallow us whole. I realized though while out walking tonight that the problems are most certainly structures and vessels of which we are tested. God gave me this conclusion through an example tonight while out walking. A large dog had heard me walking through a gate, and start barking. Most likely being protective of the area (of which was “his”), he began to run towards me, very quickly at that. I felt a panic rise in me like lightning, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I was faced with the fight or flight paradox. At that moment, I began to run, but realized if I ran the dog would have easily caught up with me. Dogs the size of Labradors who are protective will not stop and a good chase might even cause them to violence. It was here that I realized I had to yell at the dog and tell it off while standing my ground to turn this beast into a coward. To show him that I was bigger than him was the only way I could make him leave me alone, since I was no threat to him or anyone else for that matter. And that’s what I did. “NO! GO HOME!” I yelled sternly. He stopped mid-sprint, even though his bark did not; he was turned back at this boundary I had just created between him and his prey. Mercy and love was no option for this fellow. He gave me no option but to tell him off. He turned away, with his tail between his legs and walked back to where he came. And so this is where God showed me that I am bigger than my problems when I trust in the courage and boldness he places in me. I could have had yelled at the dog and for it to ignore my words and gone on to eat me. However, my words are sharper than a sword because of the power God connects to and embodies in them. I had to have faith that what I was doing was for my benefit and safety.
The mere fact that man loves the adventure and the wild is puzzling and yet exhilarating to me at the same time. I love everything to do with being out and away from society, from everything that bogs me down and gets me up everyday just to “wash, rinse, repeat” for the following days to come. An endless cycle is escaped where rules are not to be found and expectations are none. He can follow the wild ways and never get tired of the same thing. There is always something new to see and do. However, there is something convenient about society and it begins to creep back into the man’s life. He longs for a hot bath and shower, a warm meal, and a warm place to lay his head at night. The wild is cruel to his surroundings while society and civilization lessens its harsh whip. He longs for the pleasures of home. And there on the frontier, his homestead awaits his return. From long day in wilderness he comes in longing for comfort and place of rest; a place to hang his coat and store his tools; a safe haven where he can be honored. And time seems to freeze as he stands at the threshold of his home… still desiring the lands that await his exploration and adventure, while loving the very thing that keeps his heart safe and puts his mind at ease. The combination of these things is likened to the very essence of God. And there’s always something sweet about coming home.
Some people can get by quite nicely in life simple because they have no passions in life. These are horses bridled for an entire lifetime and bring success in the form of great service and duty; being used in tilling the ground and pulling carriages; fulfilling the machine. The wild horse however is to be an example of the adventure of the wild. Those who have passions and deep convictions are never to be harnessed and are to remain forever unbridled for the wild is their passion and their success.