Categotry Archives: moments of truth


Finding Out Who I Really Am


Categories: moments of truth

In pondering my own journey over the past 10-15 years now, I’m coming to a moment of truth. This isn’t merely a journey of re-thinking faith, or church, or theology. Lots of people do that several times through the course of their lives, and it doesn’t entail the monumental shake-up (or shake-down) that occurred in my own life. No, this has to be something more, and I think I know what it is.

This is a journey of finding out who I really am.


The Messiness

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Categories: Meanderings (look it up), moments of truth

I certainly wish I could say that I’ve got my life all figured out now that I’ve removed myself from institutional Christianity. I wish I could tell you it all makes a lot more sense “out here,” or that I have a grasp on what church, ministry, or my own life ought to look like.

It simply isn’t true, however. Less structure means more mess. And for a recovering control freak like me, it throws me for a loop more often than I’d like to admit.


What Happened on the Last Day

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Categories: How I am, moments of truth

So…I’m back, blogging on a Sunday. The new worship leader is in place at my friends’ congregation, so I’m officially relieved of duty, so to speak. I’m looking forward to resuming some sense of discussion here, at least weekly. (Sunday mornings are my “blogging” time.) 🙂


Questions of Authority

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Categories: General, Meanderings (look it up), moments of truth, Tags: , , ,

Sorry for not posting in a little while…I sort of missed my weekly slot last weekend because I filled in as worship leader at the church community where I used to lead, so the current worship leader could go off to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and see Mumford and Sons play while it was snowing in June in the mountains and see the clouds part to reveal the snow-covered mountains just as they finished playing.

Lucky stiff. Anyhow.


Coming as Babies


Categories: changing mindsets, food for thought, Meanderings (look it up), moments of truth

I’ve been spending a bit of time the past couple of days thinking about mission, and what it means–what it looks like–to be missional. Particularly, I’ve been asking God, basically, “What next?” We’ve been getting settled in this new place for a year and a half, and I still have this desire to do some sort of missional work in the creative community–but I’ve been soul searching about the right approach, what the next steps are (if any). I’ve been trying to find words to verbalize things felt deep in the soul, where people could maybe understand them. And frankly, I’ve felt a little lost–not in the sense of losing faith, but in the sense of trying to think about mission outside the boundaries of traditional church, when all I’ve done previously has happened within those boundaries.
Just this morning, I think something really has registered with me that’s going to deeply inform our direction in the days ahead. It’s not a new concept, but it’s like it “clicked” with me–like someone switched on a light. An “a-ha” moment.
Okay, you get the idea. 🙂
One thing I’ve been trying to do is get back to the basics of mission, particularly the mission of Christ. If Jesus set an example for us to follow–and I believe He did–then we can learn the correct approach to mission by looking at what He did as well as what He taught.
So how did Jesus approach His mission? He became one of us.
Jesus did not come to earth in a blaze of glory, riding on a white horse, His deity apparent all over the place. (That would be the SECOND coming, and that hasn’t happened at press time.) Instead, as the Bible indicates, He laid down His heavenly glory and took the form of a man. A regular human being, just like us. We call this the “incarnation.” The incarnational approach to mission has already been talked about a lot in missional circles, and like I said, I’m familiar with it and seek to embrace it.
But there’s more. You see, Jesus came as a man–but not as a grown man. He didn’t launch His mission as the self-proclaimed expert of all things spiritual. He came into this world the same way we all do–as a baby. A helpless, vulnerable, non-potty-trained baby. He didn’t come with all the answers–that came later. Jesus came to us needy. He came to us needing to be fed, changed, nurtured, loved, trained–all that stuff that kids need in order to grow.
Talk about humbling oneself.
My family and I have been immersing ourselves in the local creative community pretty much since we got here, because we understood the necessity of becoming part of the existing community. What I hadn’t really seen before now–but God did, and has already been orchestrating–is that we are coming as babies. We’re not coming with the answers; we’re coming with needs.
I probably see this playing out most right now with The Wild One. She has totally laid down her personal aspirations for “ministry” probably more than I have–she has been able to totally empty herself. The artistic circle she found herself in saw her not as a pastor or spiritual expert, but as someone who is hungry to learn art–who has always wanted to do it, but never had the chance or the resources, and who has great potential. As a result, they’ve totally taken her under their wing and begun to teach her to paint–and she’s making great progress. And because this group loves the arts in general, and because they are already so open, they’ve adopted the rest of our family right along with her. We’re not on the giving end–not right now. We’re the needy ones. We’re the babies.
I can now see this setting up the same way with the music scene. I’ve developed a rapport with this music community by covering the local scene as a freelance writer, and I’ve made a lot of friends. But the truth is, while I do know a few things about how to encourage young artists, in order to do what I really want to do in music–I’m going to have to become the baby. I’m going to have to ask people half my age how to go about booking shows, who to talk to about getting publishing deals, and so on. I may have to collaborate with others in order to polish my songwriting skills and aim them in a new direction. I’m not really the expert here–I’m the needy one.
I’m beginning to see that at least in our case, to be truly incarnational in our approach requires us to become as infants in this community–not just to be one of them, but to grow up as one of them. And with this fresh understanding of things, I actually have a new perspective on the past 10 years of our lives.
There’s a place in the Bible where it talks about Jesus emptying Himself in order to come to earth as a man. Jesus stripped Himself of His heavenly glory in order to embark on this mission. I don’t know how that felt for Him–but I do know some of what it feels like to be stripped. The entire time we lived in Tulsa, we were being stripped. We obviously weren’t being stripped of heavenly glory or deity (we never had those things). But we were being stripped of our pastoral or clerical prestige, so to speak. We were also being stripped of mindsets, of wrong assumptions, of wrong motives, and pretty much of everything we thought “ministry” was. By the time we got here to Denver, we were almost completely deconstructed and undone. Starting over–as babies.
It sure looks like God has been setting us up.
This whole theme about becoming as a child has deep ramifications, not just in mission, but in other ways as well. Didn’t Jesus repeatedly say that we need to come to the Father as little children? This post could get really long rambling about that–so I’ll save that for another time. But this understanding has really caused a lot of the fog to clear for me. It’s showing me that it’s okay, even necessary, to step into this mission not as the expert, but as the student. It’s showing me that it’s okay, even necessary, to embrace small beginnings. I think God has a long-term plan here, and apparently we’ve been within that plan for awhile now.
On a personal level, I think I’ve struggled for a long time with my deconstruction. Although I’ve definitely been thankful for the sense of freedom (and wouldn’t ever want to go back into bondage), I also have felt such a sense of loss because at the very least I had a strong sense of direction, and when things dismantled, I felt there was nothing to replace what I’d had. I think I’m finally going to be okay with that now. I think I can fully embrace this time and place, knowing that the previous stripping was necessary in order to step into this mission in the right way.
Jesus came to us as a baby, and He changed the world. I believe that if I embrace the same idea, enter this mission as a baby, and have patience with the process, I can at least make a positive difference.
Which is pretty much all I wanted in the first place.


What’s More Important

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Categories: church, Meanderings (look it up), moments of truth

I think that at the heart of my journey out of institutional forms of church is a true desire to focus on what really matters–the heart and soul of my faith, the things that really make this engine run, so to speak. I think this desire has really set my course for many years. And as I gradually became less and less focused on the institutions surrounding Christianity, and more focused on the heart of faith, I began to see just how many times and in how many ways I’d majored on the minors–focused so much energy and placed so much importance on things that really weren’t all that important in the greater scheme of things.

What’s bad about that is that when you put all your attention on things that aren’t that important, you end up neglecting the more important things. It’s so easy get so consumed with getting everything right in the meeting, or keeping everyone happy in the community, that we forget about things like doing good to others, or building the character of Christ in ourselves, or encouraging our brothers and sisters in their own lives. Not that that stuff didn’t happen–but given the fact that all the other baggage was attached, it sometimes got lost in the shuffle.
Now that all those pressures are off, it’s like in so many ways the fog has cleared, and it’s easier to see from moment to moment what is more important–not just in the doings of church, but in the walk of faith, in general.
  • Is it more important to stage a “successful” event, or is it more important that people draw closer to God within the event?
  • Is it more important to be “right” (that is, to win the argument), or is it more important to live at peace?
  • Is it more important to follow procedure, or is it more important to be led by the Spirit?
  • Is it more important to use convincing words to describe your faith, or is it more important to demonstrate that faith through consistent action?
  • Is it more important to defend your rights, or is it more important to guard your heart?
  • Is it more important to busy ourselves with our preparations, or is it more important to sit at His feet? (Luke 10:38-42)
These, and just a few others, are things that are far more clear to me now that I am no longer carrying the burden of an institution on my own shoulders. I can now see that the people of the Church are a higher priority than the events and activities of the “church”, and I can make better choices with that priority in place. For example, during the entire 18 months I was helping with worship at my friends’ church plant, to the extent that I was involved in leadership decisions, I found that I consistently chose in favor of the people over the presentation–a total “180” for me from a few years ago.
I guess I’m pondering this because in the recovery process from getting flooded out last week, I’m also faced with some decisions regarding the apartment management company and what I feel they are responsible for–and to what extent I want to fight for it. I am still riled up when I feel something is unjust, or when I feel a sense of loss…but where in times past the need to protect myself and my “stuff” would utterly consume me, I have a different perspective nowadays. I realize that above all else, I need to guard my own soul, and that no fight for my “rights” is worth nursing animosity in my heart or jeopardizing my spiritual well-being. Considering that I have suffered a great deal of loss in so many ways in my life, and considering that loss is a bit of a sore spot with me–I think that’s progress. 🙂
I believe this change in perspective for me is due in part to my clearer perspective as a “deconstructed” Christian. Because my vision is no longer clouded with things that aren’t that important, I am able to see more clearly what’s more important. That’s what I think, anyway. 🙂


Experience Is a Teacher: An Email Dialog with a Reader


Categories: changing mindsets, church, moments of truth

A few days ago, I received an email from someone checking out some of my older blog posts, and I felt our email conversation might benefit others. I am a few years down the road on my journey from when I started processing all this stuff, but as I wrote this brother back, I almost felt like it was a synopsis of the last couple of years of blogging. With his permission, I’m reposting the conversation, withholding the name for privacy’s sake.


Embracing the Changes


Categories: creativity, How I am, missional, moments of truth

So you’ve probably noticed that over the past few weeks, the number of my posts here has been dwindling considerably. I generally try to get over here at least three times a week, but lately I’ve been fortunate to post once a week. A couple of weeks ago, I simply asked a couple of questions, and the comment section ended up providing enough content to do us all for a month! 🙂

But there is a reason for the reduced posting. I’ve been working on some things on this end, and now it’s time to let you know what I’ve been up to.


Delaying Destiny


Categories: moments of truth

I was just kidding about that last post. I wrote this one right after, just saved it for posting later, for the humor effect. 🙂

I wasn’t kidding about being a procrastinator, though. Although I’d have to say that like most of us, I’m a bit selective in what I procrastinate on. And while sometimes that’s just normal human stuff, sometimes the things we put off can tell on us. What we are avoiding can tell us what’s going on in our souls.

On the human level, I tend to procrastinate cleaning and sorting. It’s not that I’m lazy, just that I’m not interested. Cleaning and sorting is my idea of nothing to do. I think it’s part of my makeup as a creative person–I look for things to do that engage my mind, and cleaning just doesn’t. There are times, though, when I’m in the mood to put things away and clean–like when I get pissed because I can’t find anything anymore, and when I do find it, it’s covered in an inch of dust. Then I’m a cleaning and sorting fool. 🙂

But I’ve also noticed that there are other things that do engage my mind, that inspire me, that stir my creativity–but for some reason I procrastinate those things, too. My guitar, for example.

Guitar was actually my first instrument; I got my first one when I was four, and played it at a basic level until I was nine–and then I traded it for piano, which is now my primary instrument. But I noticed awhile ago that my songwriting was starting to feel stale, and I wanted something to expand my palatte. So I took some tax refund money and bought a guitar, and took some lessons to get my chops back.

Like most grownups who take up an instrument, I started out playing it every day. I even wrote a cool song or two on it. But life started happening, I couldn’t afford the lessons anymore, I got busy…blah, blah, blah. So for awhile now, I’ve been picking up the guitar maybe once every few weeks, for a few minutes at a time.

To my dismay and disgust, I realized this morning it’s been over 2 years since I bought that dang guitar.

I haven’t made any progress since I stopped playing every day. I play the same song I wrote on it when I first got it, then put it away. I still have the guitar; I’m still even excited about it, because that guitar somehow represents my future, my destiny. Part of why we moved to Denver was to get into a creative environment where the limits would be taken off of our ability to create.

So why am I procrastinating on something as foundational to my life as music?

It isn’t because “life” is limiting me anymore. It’s because of the limits in my own soul. It has to be. That guitar has come to symbolize what life will be like for me someday. But as long as it sits in the case for weeks at a time, that’s all it is–a symbol. It will never be more than that if I procrastinate. In a sense, I’m delaying my own destiny with my lack of discipline.

When I asked why I was procrastinating, it was a rhetorical question. I know the answer–it’s the same thing that limits most of us from whatever our destiny happens to be: fear. Our hopes and dreams are safely kept when they remain in the future, closed up in the case, collecting dust, waiting for a day yet to come. Once we open that case and start actually doing something with it, we become responsible for the outcome, either success or failure. And that’s just plain scary.

I want a future that involves that guitar. And I’m afraid of it, too. That’s why I’ve been procrastinating it. It isn’t that I don’t have the time. Time to stop bullshitting myself.

So yesterday, when I realized that one of my excuses for not practicing is that I have to use my laptop as a guitar tuner and I hate having to go to the trouble–I walked to the guitar store around the corner from my place and bought a tuner, so I wouldn’t have that excuse anymore. Baby steps, but it’s something. (And yes, I practiced when I got the tuner home.) And today, when I wonder if I should practice and make some lame excuse why I can’t, I’m determined to blow that excuse out of the water. Some things are worth not putting off. I can’t say I’ll always do the right thing about this; but I see now what I’ve been doing, and why, and I’m sure gonna try to conquer it.

What about you? What are you procrastinating that might be delaying your destiny?

(Don’t say “cleaning” unless your dream is to be a janitor.)

Don’t put it off. Start talking.


What’s Coming…


Categories: How I am, Meanderings (look it up), moments of truth, You need to read this

I’ve processed a lot of stuff here in the past couple of years, as I’ve transitioned out of institutional church into “something else” that I don’t know what to call it yet. This transition has been full of surprises; if someone had made me bet my life on predicting the stuff that has happened, I’d be dead now.

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