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The Wild One part 2

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Categories: Broken machine, Rantings, Wild One

Yesterday I wrote about my wife, Shelby, who loves Jesus very much but has never done well in the context of institutional church. She tried very hard to fit in because it was the only expression of the Christian faith she knew; but when God led us away from institutionality, it was one of the best things that ever happened to her spiritually. I’d like to pick up the thread from here. (Read the previous entry first if you missed it yesterday.)

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Why I’m blogging

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Categories: You need to read this

If you are new to this blog, thanks for coming. I’m glad you’re here.

I’m new to blogging, and I already find it addicting–not just the writing part, but looking at other blogs, commenting, receiving comments–the whole little online culture that comes with it. I notice other blogs, though, have quite a variety of content–funny pics, personal journals (“I went to the store today to buy some Comet…”), cool, quirky stuff–while mine seems a bit focused and serious at times. While I get the hang of this blogging thing, I thought I’d let you know why I started this in the first place.

I’ve been on a long spiritual journey; it’s taken me places I never thought I’d go, and it hasn’t even started to make sense to me until the past year or so. It’s left lots of thoughts and feelings swimming around inside me–stuff I need to lay out on the table so I can look at it. And not only me, but others, too. That’s the cool thing about the Internet community–even when you’re alone, you’re really connected to potentially millions of people. So I felt like it would be good to share thoughts, feelings, opinions, and stories here where other eyes could look at it, too, and comment back. I’m thinking what happens here might even provide raw material for a book or something.

So… if you’re willing, here’s how you can help me:
  1. Read my blog.
  2. Invite others to read my blog.
  3. Comment on what you read. This includes feedback on the content (both positive and negative), additional ideas you might have to add to the conversation, even (for you blogger geniuses out there) advice on how to enhance the blog and the content to make it more interesting.
  4. Keep reading my blog.
  5. Link to my blog.
  6. Leave more comments.
  7. Read and comment on my blog, and tell others about it.

In short…I hope this will become more than just a dumping ground for my own thoughts and feelings; I hope it will become an online conversation, a discussion that will enrich everyone who participates in it. And particularly, I hope by interacting with me, you will come away better for it. That’s what community is really about.

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Constipated anointing

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Categories: fun, Meanderings (look it up), What the heck was THAT?

I’m about to get a bit irreverent and share a funny, sad, true story. ::Inserts tongue firmly into cheek…::

A number of years ago I was invited to lead worship for a week-long campmeeting at a church in Bakersfield, California. Right away I noticed that the pastor of this charismatic Word-Faith church had a distasteful beat-the-sheep leadership style, and that he had something to prove. Anyway, he announced that the last night would be an anointing service, where he would lay hands on and pray for anyone who wanted it. He pumped this up as the climax of the campmeeting, and that last day he went into seclusion to pray and fast, denying his flesh and all distractions so the Holy Spirit would honor his faith and move upon the people.

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Superhero Christianity

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Categories: Rantings, What the heck was THAT?

(I found this awesome picture here.)
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my former favorite superheros. If you’ve spent much time in church circles, you know this person, although you’ve probably never really met him/her. I say “him/her” because this superhero takes many forms and versions, but the gist is about the same no matter how you view him/her. (Being a male, I see him as a man, so I’ll use “he” from now on.)

This superhero is a man of mythic spiritual proportions, even surpassing Jesus Himself. (I’ll unpack that seemingly blasphemous statement in a minute.) I call this person….SUPER-CHRISTIAN.

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Pastoral Manipulation

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Categories: My Story, Rantings

Oooh, now that’s a provocative title. πŸ™‚

Church pastors can be the most co-dependent people in the world. (Being a recovering co-dependent myself, I ought to know.) I don’t say this to slam well-intended men and women of God; I say it because I believe the institutional church system promotes codependency among its leaders.

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Totally off the subject and random

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Categories: fun, What the heck was THAT?

When I was in college, I had to take a grueling music history course that met 5 mornings a week, for two full semesters (well, actually it was two courses: Music History I, and Music History II). (That was a redundant way of saying the same thing twice, wasn’t it?) Anyway, to try and keep awake and break the monotony, one bright student created a fictional character called Dinkeldorf the Dragon, and he’d write down a story starter like, “Dinkeldorf was walking along the beach one day, his fiery tongue flapping in the breeze, when all of a sudden…” Then he’d pass the paper around the room and we’d all contribute, and the stories would get hysterical. Great way to pass the time.

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Labels, labels and more labels

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Categories: Meanderings (look it up)

I read a post last night that I’ve been chewing on ever since:
http://http//www.jordoncooper.com/2008/01/collapse-of-emerging-church.html

Until early last year, I had not even heard the terms “emerging church” or “emergent”, and now already the emerging church is collapsing?? Actually, the post is more about people within the movement growing weary of the term and what it stands for; some may already be starting to look for something else.

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The Chocolate Button part 2

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Categories: My Story, Rantings

Okay, time for true confessions…

I spent most of my childhood and adulthood in the institutional church system. I was a proponent of it, and ::wincing:: I looked down my nose at those who had a problem with it or abandoned it. I passed them off as anomalies, as people who fell through the cracks, as people with issues of their own, predisposed to being negative, etc., etc. I blamed the devil for it. All sorts of denial.

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The Chocolate Button part 1

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Categories: Rantings

Ever have one of those random things you read/watch/hear end up sticking with you to the point that it flavors your vocabulary? Years ago I read a newsletter from a well-known ministry in which this guy was talking about going to a fast-food place and ordering a chocolate shake. The teenage cashier went to the machine, pushed the chocolate button, filled the shake cup and gave it to the man–but the shake was vanilla instead of chocolate. The man returned the shake and explained that it was the wrong flavor. So the teenager went to the machine again, pushes the same button, and out comes the same shake–vanilla, not chocolate. Then it happened a third time the same way.

By this time the man was getting impatient. “I ordered a chocolate shake, and you keep filling the cup with vanilla. Something must be wrong with your machine.”

The confused teenager’s reply? “But I pushed the chocolate button!”

Despite the man’s continued attempts to reason with him, for some reason this kid could not wrap his mind around the idea that the machine was broken, that someone needed to open it up and make changes. In his mind, if he pushed the chocolate button, what comes out must be chocolate. He did his job; he pushed the chocolate button. Anything else was outside his reality.

The first thing that comes to mind is some scathing social commentary on how we’re not teaching our children to think anymore–we’ll save that for some other post. But I never forgot this story, and when I see similar examples of shallow-mindedness or incompetency–usually at fast-food places–I’ll say aloud, “I pushed the chocolate button.” My family chuckles knowingly; other people just look at me like I have Turrets or something.

Funny as this story might be, it paints a picture in my mind of something similar happening on a larger scale. Over time, I’ve come to see institutional Christianity–the system most of us Christians have lived in–as a machine. It’s a machine that worked for awhile, produced some results, but now it’s not doing so good. We’re losing touch with our culture despite our attempts to “stay relevant.” Lots of people are getting hurt, being alienated, and walking away. And spiritual leaders (and their husbands, wives, and children) are caving to the pressure and falling left and right. But most of us–and particularly leaders who rely on the machine for emotional and financial stability–still can’t bring ourselves to admit that the machine isn’t working the way it used to. Something is wrong with machine, but we keep pushing the chocolate button, hoping that this time the milkshake will come out chocolate.

This analogy will carry us for awhile, so when I mention the chocolate button again in future posts, you’ll know what I’m talking about. πŸ™‚ More soon…

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