Sunday, May 1, 2016
I was born anothen again in October 2011.
I don't believe being born anothen is a one time thing.
Please don't bother contending with me on that; unless, of course, you can convince me by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense that I'm off the wall.
Prejudices - like denominational, gender, lifestyle, ideological masquerading as theological, and other political idiosyncrasies - no longer interest, intrigue, or influence me.
Agreeing with IHOP guru Mike, I only allow myself to exclaim one annual "God told me!"
While I've been born anothen again and again and..., October 2011 may be the biggest since I started knowing Jesus in 8th grade.
Joining three covenant brothers, we spent a week with Eugene at his home next to Flathead Lake in Montana back in October 2011.
Explaining what happened in any articulate way remains pret' near impossible.
It/He just happened through this sophisticated and globally renowned yet stunningly simple saint.
I've frustrated many people who have asked me what happened.
It wasn't his wife's observation of church life: "Some people are like farts in the elevator. It takes just one. Everyone suffers. Nobody escapes."
It wasn't the wisdom more than knowledge that he shared with us: 'Devotional reading of the Bible is more like sucking a lozenge than gulping down a meal...As we do less, God does more...Simple is profound...I never tried to get people to do anything when I was pastor...You don't have to persuade Christians to follow Jesus...It's not what you are doing; but who you are in doing it...Motivational speaking is often a sly way of manipulating...You don't have to motivate Christians...Get out of the way!"
Looking back over and over and over again, it wasn't even that morning next to the lake when I read Matthew 15 and 23 and wondered, "How the hell did I miss that? Why didn't I pick up on that in seminary? Why didn't one of my professors point that out? How come none of that ever came up when I was being examined for ordination? Why didn't any pastor search committee ever ask anything remotely related to that? Why do we continue to elevate our prejudices and traditions to the commandments of God? Why do we idolize architecture, furniture, stained glass, trinkets, relics, liturgies, rituals+ceremonies=rites, clothing, vestments, brass plaques, and...? How could I ever say I follow Jesus while enabling that? How the hell did I miss that?"
Paul Roberts, proverbial father of the Confessing Church Movement in the PCUSA, taught me to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus.
October 2011 compelled me to salt, shine, and leavenate.
It also began a tough, sometimes tedious, course in humility.
It started when I asked, "So, Eugene, as, you know, the author of The Message, which translation of the Bible do you use for personal devotions?"
He answered with a disarming yet warm and patient and humble smile, "I use the Hebrew and Greek texts."
"Oh," I muttered with tail between my legs.
Since then, I've admitted I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book.
It's the truth.
I also learned how to love more in an agape kinda way.
It's causing problems for me; because everybody wants me to take sides in everything from sports to politics in America and churches.
I can't...since October 2011.
I never thought it would happen.
I really love everybody but don't like everybody because loving everybody doesn't mean liking everybody because that would include wolves and the stupid sheep who follow them; and if I have to explain that to you, you wouldn't want to understand anyway.
I wish I had learned it before.
If I have to explain that to you...
When Melany came to Belvidere as an interim about a month or two before I came and found a church reeling in hatred that has nearly killed me over 11+ years as so many people were looking for a champion, paramour, BFF, or miracle-worker to resurrect the way things never were or maybe were but are no more, she said something that I now pray and try to enflesh thanks to God through that time with Eugene, "I'm not here to take sides! I'm here to help you get on God's side!"
Getting back to hints of what happened back in October 2011, Bill, founder and station manager of www.bnnsradio.com, forwarded the video below to me.
It brings back memories of Jan, Eugene, my covenant brothers, and an apocalyptic moment that is still being processed.
Every sight and sound are as I remember them.
Maybe it will spark something in/for you of the strange warmth, security, safety, and anothen kairosic feeling that we shared.
Here it is:
I just dusted off my U2 Singles disk.
Blessings and Love!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!