Sunday, 12 April 2009

conversation and community, worship, church, Bible reading, serving...

More email tidbits… (April 11, 2009)

She wrote: “We read your whole letter out loud and heartily understood every single feeling and totally appreciate you verbalizing some of our troubling thoughts in this transition time” … and I responded….
Thank you! I have felt like I have no one to talk to … and while I love to write, I was really feeling the need for oral conversation… and to think you guys read it out loud and talked about it out loud, even if I couldn’t be there physically, really helped to know that… and maybe listening to those podcasts was like that too, because they are two guys (the ones who wrote So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore? [aka the Jake book] and the one who wrote He Loves Me! ) just talking back and forth (and laughing a lot) and reading aloud emails they receive from listeners and responding orally to them… it’s like listening to a bunch of people in conversation! And I was sitting there at my computer listening, and at the same time scanning and uploading photos onto facebook, and eating brownies, and folding laundry… like I was just with a bunch of friends sitting around talking while carrying on with life… the way we had fun talking with you guys out there when you were making supper and we went walking on the beach and all…

…. After I wrote that to you about the whole worship thing, I’ve been kind of hankering to get out my guitar and strum a bit… it’s been so long that I’m afraid I’ll have forgotten how… but maybe that’s good… old things passed away… new things, new ways, new praises, new sense – actually new knowing – of God’s presence! And then one of my daughter’s phone another all worried about me because she could see that I was so down, not just in pain, but hurting and lonely, and the second daughter phoned and encouraged me to do something creative… she suggested getting out my drawing pad and sketching… anything, she said, even just little circles! (And come to think of it, I’d like to do that too!).

But it does make me think that maybe there is something to this urge to get out my guitar, too… With no “agenda” but just to strum a bit and see what comes of it. It’s beginning to warm up outside, was up to 20 C a couple days this week, though it’s a bit cooler this weekend… so I could go outside and strum, since my hubby and my son aren’t too fond of my indoor strumming!

One of the things they talked about on that podcast was what it means to “take up your cross” and they were laughing with joy about it, which is kind of cool… and I can see how that is worship too…

And they told this funny little story about how one of them got invited to this Southern Baptists church down in Georgia I think it was, really Southern Baptist Bible Belt country anyway… because some of the people in that church had begun to really get into relationship with God, and it upset the others so much that they up and left the “troublemakers” behind… along with the big fancy building and all… and they started their own church with a new fancy building…. And the funny thing was that the ones left behind with the original big fancy building didn’t want a building at all anymore, and here they were stuck with it, and wondering how to unload themselves of all the churchianity stuff, which is why they invited to guy to come talk with them (after they first chatted with his friend who wrote “The Shack”!). They were finding the whole buildings-and-programs-thing to be interfering with their walk with Father, so they’re just selling it all and seeing where God wants to take them… and isn’t that cool, they have the “worship place” available and they really want to worship, so they’re just walking away from it! (The part that really struck me funny was that the “we love the building” people went out and bought another building… when they could have kept that one for free…).

….. a friend wrote: “I tend to read Paul last [as I read through the Bible]. My mind clears from the whirl of the vast scope of Scripture as Paul, by the Spirit, reveals the mysteries of God’s overall purpose, soaring as he does into truths unknown until his revelation clears everything up for those who will take the time to understand.” …. And I responded:

I’ve been feeling bogged down in my read-through this year (I’m reading 2 OT chapters, 1 Psalm, 1 NT chapter daily, plus been doing a study in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, usually a chapter or so a day)… it seems like all that OT stuff is dragging on me… yesterday I listened to a podcast where the guy was saying that the OT characters, for a large part, had an incomplete picture of God, which is one of the reasons Jesus came, so we could really know Father. I think that I have been so wrapped up, the last few months, in that OT picture, that I’ve been losing sight of God as my loving Father, and Jesus as my Savior (and God incarnate! Alive! Touchable! “Real!”)… Of course, I have also read through the 4 gospels, and they’ve been a “relief” and yet… so much of what happens in them is a mixture of the new good news brought by Jesus, but butting up against the old incomplete law-bound view of God… well, that does turn up in Paul’s epistles too, of course, but he so clearly, joyfully, assuredly, like you say, “reveals the mysteries of God’s overall purpose” … and “clears up” all that bogged-down-edness (okay, Webster, add that word to your dictionary, lol!) once and for all! Yay! I was getting to the point that my daily reading was becoming a chore… and you’ve encouraged me to keep on because there is light, glorious, wonderful, radiant light down the road, further along in the story… and I am also feeling freed from the nagging guilt that the enemy dangles, if I should (oh my! Nasty!) dare to skip ahead and read the ending before I’ve finished the end of the book!...

…… a friend wrote: “In all, 17 years would pass as this inner formation of Christ worked his [Paul’s] self-righteousness and religious zeal into all the qualities he would develop: love, joy, peace, meekness, self-control…” … and I responded:

Now that’s encouraging… if it took Paul 17 years… maybe I’m not such a failure/slowpoke after all … seriously, I’m thinking maybe some “alone with God” time is a good thing… one of the things we’ve been discouraged from… I’ve always been told that “wee need each other so we don’t fall into heresy” … but in my experience, a good part of the “heresy” I’ve picked up along the way was from “each other” and it has taken “alone time with God” to even see it for what it is…. Yes, we do need each other… but our most important source of truth is the TRUTH Himself… and yes, I was also always told to “check out what you hear from people, in the Word of God”… but when those people are using the Word of God (quite effectively, I might add) to convince others of their ideas, it becomes clear that if I’m not at the same moment, like Mary, truly sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning from Him, wrapped up in His Life… well, to truly know the Word, obviously, is to KNOW THE WORD… (I’m afraid I’m a bit of a rabbit-warren sort… yikes… I have a hard time compartmentalizing… lol, maybe I’ve also been in a de-compartmentalizing process. (Yay! I’m de-scheduling… I guess I’m in a DE stage of life… started with de-schooling, and de-school-at-home-homeschooing, then de-churching, and de-Christian-schooling… and now, apparently, de-scheduling too! Lol...)…

…. And then he talked about “inworking” of the Holy Spirit, which leads to “outworking” toward others…. and I responded:

I know what you are saying. In some ways, it is “easier” to “preach Him among the gentiles” and to “outwork to others” when one is part of the “religious system.” You just, you teach a Bible study, or Sunday School class, or help in the soup kitchen, or clean the washrooms (if you are really humble, hmmmm) and … voila! Obligation fulfilled! (ummm… “obligation” … isn’t that a “dirty-word” related to the “system”? hmmm… :-~)… But yes, I’ve been worried about getting too philosophical myself… It really can become a “distraction”… I’m suspecting that our “philosophy” and “in-grown-ness” is a very sneaky trap of the enemy… to make us blissfully think we’re “knowing the Lord” when, indeed, we’re falling back into the old trap of “knowing about the Lord”… At the same time, I’m wondering… if we’ve become “unaware” of opportunities to serve… doesn’t that also mean we aren’t where we should be, relationship-wise, with Father… And then, I wonder… what if we really ARE serving, only we don’t recognize it as “serving” because it doesn’t fit in any of the old “parameters” that we have equated with “service/ ministry/ whatever” … (of course, that could be the enemy rationalizing my lack of service for me… and it could be… but I’m also thinking that it IS hard for us to every day just ask God how He wants us to live within His love today… and then just take the day, as He sends it… moment by moment… We are SO “package” and “future-plans” oriented… Knowing you, I’m pretty sure you are “serving” every day… unplanned, moment-to-moment living the life and love of Jesus… but I think that when we are in the middle of it, we just don’t see it happening… and the enemy likes to jump on that, and lay a guilt-trip on us… Of course, we need to be “alert” to his tricks...

Interesting question… “Are you finding meaningful outlets for the glory of God (the character of Christ) as it is formed in you?” …. I’m wondering… if “meaningful” might, in the Jesus way, be more about meaningful-to-others (including Him), than meaningful-to-myself… We so, in our “natural” being, want our life to be “meaningful to me”… and the “church” has encouraged (or perhaps even exploited) that… “Find your passion… find a ministry that is meaningful to you… come to our church where you’ll find meaningful worship… etc etc etc” … Maybe that’s another ploy of the enemy… I’m thinking… even if it doesn’t “feel meaningful” to me, still, if I’m living within Christ’s love right now, every right now, continuous present, then I’m living the “Christ in me” life… and He is using me, even if I can’t “see it” ….

We do that, of course, sometimes… ignoring “serving the Lord” .. which suggests that we can look back and see an opportunity we recognized and yet we chose to do something else that seemed more pleasant… and then, of course, that is disobedience… and we need to repent of it and then let it go, and determine not to go that way again… But at the same time, if we are seriously “choosing simply to know Him” (versus “knowing about Him” which is a place I know I sometimes go, because I love to “study and learn” and it can become a trap for me…) but if we are “choosing to KNOW HIM” I’m thinking the “service” will happen when it’s supposed to… I was thinking about that this morning… about Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus… while Martha was bustling around “serving” … and Jesus gently but firmly chided Martha for not choosing the “better thing” .. the best thing! … and Mary did end up having an opportunity to serve… it was her, wasn’t it, who anointed Jesus’ feet (much to Judas’ annoyance!) … and just as Jesus foretold, Mary’s moment of service (which seemed so foolish in the eyes of the world) is remembered through the ages as a blessing, while Martha’s wonderful meal and clean house and busy hospitality which probably looked very good then to the assembled guests, is view with… well, a degree of ridicule, perhaps, in the long range view of things?

As you know, I’ve been going through an “out of the loop” and “dis-satisfied” time myself… But I’m beginning to see that it’s also been, with its physical pain, and emotional loneliness, and even mental fatigues, a time when Father has been birthing more of Christ in me… though I sure couldn’t “see it” in the midst of it all … (Hmmm… maybe I’ve been going through a de-satisfying process too! … okay, enough already!)

So maybe what we feel as dis-satisfaction could actually be that you haven’t been “serving as we should” (oh dear… there’s that “should” word… but I will restrain myself from following it down another rabbit-warren-track, lol!)… or perhaps it’s simply that the labor pains are long and hard, and we’re feeling a bit impatient to see the birthing be complete? … like we are when we watch our children’s growing-up process, you know?

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