Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | September 8, 2009

A Tiny Part of Loving Like Jesus

Lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus a lot.  Who he was and all that.  And know what I’ve decided?

It is really hard to understand and comprehend Jesus as a human being.  I mean, this is God; Jesus was perfect.  But so completely significantly, Jesus was also human.  What does it mean to be human?  What does or doesn’t God do when He takes on the flesh?

I’ve been trying to look at it through a particular filter: love.  I strongly believe that it’s the whole point; we are designed to love our Creator and to love those around us, including those on the fringes of society.  Love.  Sounds very easy.  And if there’s anything I do know, it’s that Jesus loved mankind more than we’ll ever understand.

But what did that look like?  What was it like to be walking around with this electric new Jew who was proclaiming all sorts of things about God that really were rubbing some of the established religious leaders the wrong way?  How did Jesus react when the Disciples just couldn’t quite grasp what it was that he was teaching and it’s huge implications?

We see it in a few places in the New Testament: Jesus can get frustrated.  And I can’t help but feel that there were times that he was incredibly frustrated with his Disciples.  They were trying hard and doing all they could, but sometimes they just didn’t get it.  Jesus’ frustration wouldn’t have been born out of resentment, superiority, or any sort of self-centeredness.  No, He would get frustrated because he loved these people so much,  and he wanted more than anything for them to grasp what it was that he was teaching.

So he kept trying; he kept telling them parables and kept revealing to them in new ways the Good News.

So where does this all fit in with me?  I’m getting married soon, which is a pretty big change in life.  I’ve been told by many people that some days when you wake up you just have to choose that in the marriage is where you want to be.  I hope to be able to do my best to love my wife like Jesus.  Ultimately, if you wake up in the morning and you decide to stick with someone out of love, despite any frustrations you may have or issues that are straining the relationship, I don’t think that’s a weakness or a sign of a problem.  I think that choosing to stick with someone because you love this person so dearly, choosing to stick with someone because you made a promise to love them and be with them until the day you die, choosing to be there and work through tough problems and challenges in the relationship no matter how difficult it can be at times … I think that is one of the ways in which you can love someone exactly how Jesus would.

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | May 22, 2009

On Recognizing Truth

I’m going to keep this fairly short, as I’m not quite sure I have a huge coherent essay or anything planned for this.

The past year has been an interesting one.  I moved away from home.  There’s a lot more to that then I thought there would be.  I moved away from my family.  I moved away from my friends.  I moved away from acquaintances and coworkers.  I moved away from things I was involved in outside of work.  I moved away from the map in my head that let me get around very quickly.  I moved away from that coffee shop I like so much.  I moved away from my past.

Moving is actually a pretty traumatic loss if you think about it.  Especially if it’s the first time and you do it alone.  I found it really difficult.  Shift work also complicated my efforts to re-establish all those things here in Winnipeg.  It’s hard to build relationships with people when you’re not on a Monday to Friday, 9-5 schedule.

As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time doing two things: playing guitar and talking to God.  We’ll leave the guitar for another time.

Moving has probably been the #1 best thing for my faith ever.  The intense loneliness that I struggled with forced me to really explore my prayer life and really open up to and talk to God.  I learned how guarded I was against God in what I would and wouldn’t tell him.  I had to open up to Him, and it’s been one of the best things to happen to me.

God works if you let Him, and He did a pretty good job of fixing the whole lonely thing.  I still may not have had a lot of people around, and I was lonely in a “I miss people” way, but not in a “I’m completely alone” way.  This new depth to my faith introduced a lot of new struggles that I have had to deal with and that I am still dealing with, mostly centered around the balance between serving and taking time for myself, where things fit in my life and what I should be spending my time on, and greater issues of inequality around the world.  Being a Christian is not an easy thing.

I’ve been searching for answers to these questions.  Listening all the time for something that might help me figure it out, and this, this here is what I want to share.

No, I’m not going to tell the answers I’ve found.  I think the journey of finding some of those answers is equally important to the answers themselves.  I’ve found some of the answers in the Bible.  I’ve found some of the answers in Donald Miller’s Searching For God Knows What.  I’ve found some of the answers in conversations with both Christians and non-Christians.  I’ve found some of the answers at one of the churches I attend, saint benedict’s table.  I’ve found some answers while taking walks around the city.  I’ve found some answers on the side of the highway.  I’ve found answers in my relationship with my girlfriend.  I’ve found answers through prayer.  I’ve found answers in music.

The point is, I’ve found a lot of answers in a lot of different places.  Pieces that fit together and help make sense of everything.  How these pieces are given look drastically different.  Lyrics in a song are very different from a beautiful tree.  Words on a page are very different from giving somebody a piece of your heart.  A conversation over coffee is very different from driving alone down a highway at night.  Going to Church is very different from watching a T.V. show with friends.  However, one thing that is the same is that God is present in all these places, and he speaks through all these places.

And here is what I’ve learned.

There is a part of us that is hardwired to hear God.  Sometimes we need to work to dust it off and get it working again, but it’s there.  And it is the coolest thing ever.  God’s word is Truth.  And the neat this is that since we’ve been created in such a way that we’re wired to hear God, we’re wired to hear Truth.  And that’s what I’ve learned.  I’ve found answers in all these places because God has spoken in all these places.  He’s been walking with me and listening to my questions and prayers and He’s responding to me.  And despite how drastically his voice has sounded, be it words on a page, a random thought that pops into my head that has no way of being my own, a fun evening with friends, or a melody in a song, there is that part of me in the deep regions of my soul that just knows that it’s Truth.  Just knows that that what I’m hearing is right and I need to pay attention to it.

It doesn’t matter what it looks like, you’ll recognize Truth when you hear it.  We’re made to.

When I came to this realization I started thinking about the church I go to that I mentioned earlier, saint benedict’s table.  It holds a very special place for me; I have fond memories of my first time going, and they spoke to me in a way that I desperately needed to be spoken to when I initially went.  I look forward to going every time I can.  I seem to meet God there almost every time I go, and I find the teaching incredibly spiritually nourishing.

It’s an Anglican service done in an Anglican church that follows the Anglican liturgy.  Jamie Howison, the priest who ministers the service, has loosened the bolts in some places to allow for a few other ideas to be integrated into the service, but it’s an Anglican service.  The thing that amazes me is that I’m pretty sure that Anglicans are probably in the minority there.  It truly is an interdenominational service there.  I started wondering why that is.  Well, I wondered until I considered that maybe the connection I feel to God’s word there isn’t unique, that other’s feel it as well.  Then it hit me.  Truth is preached at that service.  And Truth is bigger than the lines we draw in the sand to define our Christian denominations.  People who come see that Truth, and they respond.  They put themselves where they can hear it.

It’s not just me.

It’s all of them, and you too.

Truth can look so, so different and come from so many places.

But you’ll without doubt recognize it when you hear it.

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | April 5, 2009

The Secular and The Sacred

I live in a place of tension.  My faith is very important to me: it is why I do what I do and it is what my life focuses on.  This is not the tension in itself.  The tension comes from where I come from.

I was not always a Christian; or, rather, I didn’t always take my faith seriously.  I was baptized as a child and attended church until my parents told me that I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to.  Naturally, I didn’t once they gave me the option.  Now how I Christianity become central to how I life my life is a story in itself that won’t be told here.  What is important is that it didn’t happen until the end of High School, and moreso into University.

I grew up in a secular culture.  I grew up with some people who thought about themselves exclusively, I grew up with some people who strive for material things, I grew up with some people who drank far too much.  I’ve held hair out of faces while people throw up after far too much to drink, and I’ve fought people who made me angry.  I’ve seen a huge spectrum of what a “secular” life is and while there are things in it that I see as hugely misguided and damaging, I see a lot of good things within it too.

And this is where my tension comes from.  I feel that I cannot abandon the secular.  While I can guard myself from the dangers that lurk within it, I feel equally that I should embrace the good things in it as well.  Simply because it isn’t what we would define as “Christian” doesn’t automatically make it bad.

One foot rooted in my faith, one foot in the secular.  Most of the time it works pretty well; sometimes it can be a struggle.

I read a really interesting article yesterday that answered the question: Is it acceptable for the Church to reinterpret secular songs for use in worship?

I won’t sum it up or anything, it’s pretty short so if you’re curious what exactly says, just give it a quick read.  One point the author brings up is one that I had never really thought about before, but it’s very obvious when pointed out.

Christians have a bad tendency to become an introverted community that only looks to each other for everything except missional work.  We tend to try to “avoid” secular culture based on the dangers that it can pose.  When we teach our faith and lessons to others, we stick to established theology.  We tell stories about Jesus telling stories.  Which is incredibly important.

I had never given too much thought to the stories Jesus told.  Or rather, I always thought about the message and not the story itself.  Jesus only occasionally quotes the Torah.  His parables involve the culture that the communities lived in at the time: he talked about families, he talked about farming, he talked about fishing.  His parables used the secular world that He was teaching in to deliver a message.

This is huge.  Jesus himself was telling us that God isn’t just in established religious systems.  God isn’t just in Christianity.  God is everywhere, and I think that many Christians ignore a lot of what He’s doing by avoiding the secular.  Jesus himself showed God’s work through the secular.  Jesus made the secular sacred.  This is not an uncommon transformation.  I find it quite beautiful.

This leads me to where this all culminates for me.  I think that a Church needs to be contemporary.  The Church needs to continually evolve and adapt to maintain it’s ability to speak to the community and the culture of the day.  If a Church can’t do this, then it will have huge difficulties in speaking to it’s community.  Culture is as much a language as anything else, and the Church needs to be able to speak it.

This does not mean Churches should try to be trendy or abandon tradition.  Tradition is hugely important, and when seeking to be contemporary and relevant to a quickly evolving culture, it is more important than ever to ensure that the leadership of a Church seeks to change in ways that honor and uphold a tradition thousands of years old.

Through prayerful effort and careful planning and communication with the community, a Church can be contemporary and relevant.  It will be able to take the secular and make it sacred.  It will be able to speak God’s truth to a whole new generation with startling clarity.  It will connect members with the new Christianity and the Christianity that is far, far older than us.  It will show people the unquestionable relevance of God in today’s world while allowing us to understand and be moved by the traditional sacrments.  If, with God’s leadership, a Church can take parts of today’s secular culture and make it sacred, it will reveal the truth and fill people with passion for Jesus Christ.

I stand one foot on each side.  I desire to take the secular and make it sacred.  How much of that will I be able to do?  Probably not much.  Perhaps if I can better articulate and share my thoughts with others, I might be able to make a small difference somewhere.

I stand one foot on each side.  Part of my life will be finding those connections between the secular and the sacred.  Part of my life will be realizing and (hopefully) sharing how unbelievable relevant God is and how He speaks to us in many languages, from ones thousands of years old to ones yet to show up.

I stand one foot on each side.

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | April 5, 2009

Kind of a Stupid Game

This sums up my thoughts nicely:

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Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | March 22, 2009

God Knows What

I was thinking of Paul recently when I saw an evangelical leader on CNN talking about gay marriage. The evangelical leader agreed with the apostle Paul about homosexuality being a sin, but when it came time to express the kind of love Paul expressed for the lost, the kind of love that says, I would gladly take God’s wrath upon myself and go to hell for your sake, the evangelical leader sat in silence. Why? How can we say the rules Paul presented are true, but neglect the heart with which he communicated those rules? My suspicion is the evangelical leader was able to do this because he had taken on the morality of God as an identity with which he was attempting to redeem himself to culture, and perhaps even to God. This is what the Pharisees did, and the same Satan tricks us with the same bait: justification through comparison. It’s an ugly trick, but continues to prove effective.

This is an excerpt from Searching For God Knows What (SFGKW) by Donald Miller. I loved his book Blue Like Jazz, and I’m continuing to explore the thoughts that he has on faith and God and religion. At a quiet retreat day yesterday, I was able to finish SFGKW and was thoroughly fed in the spirit. But first, some backstory.

In SFGKW, Donald Miller spends a lot of time exploring the stories of creation and the fall of man. He meanders back and forth in and out of ideas, just trying to generally introduce and reinforce the idea of our faith be relational, not just lists and bullet points. I found the lack of focus frustrating in many ways, but continued to get through it. It was worth it. In the last third of the book he brings it all together and passionately makes a very strong case for how in many, many ways, we have the habit of missing the point and simply put, we need to stop doing that. I couldn’t help but feel that so many of the things I read at the end of the book are truth; they are views that God has about our relationship with Him, and they need to be shared. We need to stop missing the point.

A moral message, a message of us versus them, overflowing in war rhetoric, never hindered the early message of grace, of repentance toward dead works and immorality in exchange for a love relationship with Christ. War rhetoric against people is not the methodology, not the sort of communication that came out of the mouth of Jesus or the mouths of any of His followers. In fact, even today, moralists who use war rhetoric will speak of right and wrong, and even some vague and angry god, but never Jesus. Listen closely, and I assure you, they will not talk about Jesus.

In my opinion, if you hate somebody because they are different from you, you’d best get on your knees and repent until you can say you love them, until you have gotten your soul right with Christ.

I can’t say this clearly enough: If we are preaching morality without Christ, and using war rhetoric to communicate a battle mentality, we are fighting on Satan’s side. This battle we are in is a battle against the principalities of darkness, not against people who are different from us. In war you shoot the enemy, not the hostage.

Love. Christ loved the world. God loves creation. Our morality is not right versus wrong; it is a sincere attempt to imitate Christ, to imitate God. We are to attempt to be like Christ. Christ loved the world. He loved the sinners and prostitutes and the sick and the broken. He did not condemn them. Christ had a very righteous anger at times, anger towards the people who knowingly blasphemed God for their own motives, but had nothing but compassion and love for those caught in the wages of sin.

We are to love those who are trapped in the battle.

We are not judges.

The greatest comfort I can feel in the middle of this is that Jesus did not lend Himself to war causes, to tax issues or political campaigns. For that matter, He did not lend Himself to raising money for education or stumping for affirmative action. It was as if He did not trust us to build a utopia. He kept it very simple; in fact. Follow Me, He said. I have no opinion about what color the paint should be in this prison. Follow Me.

Is Jesus angry? Sometimes. Does He speak of sin and morality? Yes, quite frequently. Does the contemporary evangelical model of sin and morality reflect the teachings of Christ? As a flea is part of a dog, but not to be confused with the dog itself. Is Jesus frustrated with sinners? Yes. Is He frustrated with religious zealots who use His Father’s name to build businesses or support agendas? He is violently frustrated. Is there a penalty to pay for rejecting Him? Yes, apart from Christ we will die and are dying. Does Jesus like liberals more than conservatives? He will be nobody’s flag.

Jesus is not a political party. Jesus is not an excuse to support what you think the world should be like. Jesus is not a…tool to justify your beliefs. Jesus is who we follow and who we set our eyes upon. Following and imitating Jesus does not have a political affiliation. Jesus did not mix his faith with politics.

[After a Priest asks a friend of Donald's if he thought that Christians were "right";] Asking whether my friend thought Christians were right was really a question about the questioner and his identity, not about God. My pastor friend was asking my other friend to admit we were right and he was wrong — his journey was wrong, his experience was wrong, his heart was wrong, his mind was wrong. He was asking my friend to join our party in the lifeboat. That’s a lot to ask of a guy. The sad part of this story is, my friend who isn’t a Christian was hurt and politely changed the subject, and we haven’t talked about God since. I apologized to him later, and, unfortunately, the subject has yet to come back up.

The ever-overquoted C.S. Lewis said it this way in his book Mere Christianity: “Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: We are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party. We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or — a Judge.”

And that’s the thing about being religious; it isn’t this safe place in the soul you can go, it has just as many booby traps as any other thing you can get yourself into. It’s a bloody brothel, in fact. Jesus even says there will be people who will heal other people, but when they die He is going to say He didn’t know them. It is somewhat amazing to me, once again, that all of Christianity, all our grids and mathematics and truths and different groups subscribing to different theological ideas, boils down to our knowing Jesus and His knowing us.

Through the knowledge of Christ comes the Fruits of the Spirit. Paul says that if we give away everything we have, but have not Love, we gain nothing. All the knowledge of scripture and laws and religion, without having love, without having Christ; and we gain nothing. In this age where information is truth, it can be hard to see. Relationships aren’t formulae or lists or bullet points or graphs or tables. But we are called, ultimately, into relationship with Christ. And there is a joyous truth inside that relationship. There is love inside that relationship.

Without it, we have nothing, we are lost.

Jesus, by instigating what we call Communion, and disciplines such as fasting, and the sacrament of baptism, takes the spiritual disciplines from the abstract realm of religion and places them within the meaningful realm of relationship. As I’ve mentioned, fasting is mourning Him, baptism is identifying with Him, Communion is remembering Him. It all comes down to our thoughts and feelings and faith in Him. If our minds are not on Christ and we treat Communion like a little religious pill, or baptism like a woo-woo bath, or fast to feel some kind of pain about our sacrifice, the significance is gone. It is the trick of satan to get us to go through religious motions divorced of their relational significance. It is the trick of Satan to get us to perform religious actions without meaning them.

All I can say about this is that when you go to Church, try not just reading what’s printed on the bulletin, but try saying those words from your heart. Repetition can lead to familiarity and indifference, and it is so important that when we perform our sacraments, we have at the forefront of our minds what the significance of the words we are saying and the actions we are doing mean. In doing so, not only do we avoid the spiritual dangers that come from the divorce of actions from relationship, but we also receive deep spiritual nourishment and abundance from God in Heaven who is overjoyed that his Children are striving and deeply thirsty for a relationship with Him. He is overjoyed that His Children have recognized his sacrifice to rebuild our relationship with Him and want to celebrate, honor, and remember it. He is overjoyed that His Children, like the prodigal son, want to come Home when it is time; to come back to their Father.

I’ve a friend who has a leather-bound day planner, and on an inside page of the planner there is a space for facts about a spouse: her dress size, her favorite foods, her favorite music. Amazingly, this is not a page my friend created on a blank sheet of paper; rather, he bought it from the company that makes the time management system. We laughed together at the oddity of the idea of trying to calculate, plan, and structure knowledge that would be meaningful to a woman only if her husband knew it, as a consequence of his love. The whole point of intimacy is that you want to know things, random facts; you are driven to them because this woman has taken you captive, not that you would willfully write them down as a matter of discipline. Imagine calling your wife to tell her you love her and then hanging up the phone to check off the action on your to-do list. I don’t think she would be pleased in the slightest. She would probably rather not have received a call at all. No, in romance, as in spirituality, your motives have to be selfless, driven from an authentic love for the other person.

Also, it bears repeating that Jesus told the Pharisees the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I would think the Pharisees of the day would have dismissed this as a kind of affective theology, mushy talk, not very rational, and yet the whole time Jesus was extending an invitation to a spiritual marriage, our oneness with Him allowing God to see us in Christ’s righteousness rather than our own. It would most tragic for a person to know everything about God, but not God; to know all about the rules of spiritual marriage, but never walk the aisle.

I feel that there is substantial truth, truth that needs to be heard by more people, within the quotes I’ve pasted here. I’ve tried to keep my commentary to a minimum; as my theology is my own, and your theology is your own. I hope that only I’ve been able to spur some thoughts in you about these topics. Feel free to leave comments on the Tumblr entry for this post if you have any!

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | February 19, 2009

When To Say No and When To Say Yes?

I was reading scripture the other day and I hit some pretty thought-provoking stuff that seemed like a challenge for me where I am in life right now.

Jesus was going from town to town, preaching and healing, and he got to this one town and everybody there wanted Him to stay.  But He didn’t.  He kept heading towards Jerusalem.  I’m sure that if He had stayed, he would have done many Good things, healing people and teaching people and showing them the one, true God.  However He kept going.  He knew the path that He was to take.  He knew the purpose He had been sent to Earth for, and he kept everything pointing in that direction.

Jesus simply said “No.” to the things that were tertiary to God’s purpose for Him; even if they were good things.

This thought has been on my mind a lot lately; that is, what I should be saying yes to and what I should be saying no to, and where things fit.  This morning I ran across a blog post by a fellow I know here in Winnipeg, and it’s added a small amount of resolve to my thoughts on it all.

Jesus chose his path and said no to things that would take Him away from it; in the same way we cannot take up absolutely everything that comes our way.  We can’t.  There is simply too much, even if it is good, for us to be able to do.

Dave goes on to mention a talk by Rob Bell where he addresses this idea and brings up the idea of Kierkegaard: we need to focus our energy into the things we’re supposed to be doing.  If we say yes to everything, we won’t be able to do the thing where our strength lies.

We don’t have the capability to do everything; God asks us to choose wisely.

So I have the same question as Dave, what on earth should I be foucusing on?  What has God given me the ability to do?  I can identify a few gifts that God has blessed me with; skills in both the practical and relational sense.  I know that I want to be there for people.  I know that community is an extremely integral part of who I am.  Without it I’m often left feeling empty.  As time goes on, I feel more and more certain that God has built me to serve in a community.  For my science and logic-oriented brain, music is an inexplicable part of who I am as well.  Guitar has been something that kicked down the door and demanded a lot of time in my life; time I have happily given to it and a skill that, with the blessing and grace of God, has become better and better in a very short time.  It means a lot to me: it makes me happy, it’s become a part of my dialogue of prayer, and for some reason it simply just is a part of who I am.  I’ve been gifted and blessed with my passion and skill with weather.  The more I think about it, the more I realize just how lucky I was to be able to know what I wanted to do as far as a career goes since I was very, very young.  Many things are attached to my job: I find it challenging and rewarding, I feel like I’m able to have a tangible contribution to the general public, I am given the opportunity to use my skills to make decisions that really do help save lives.  I’m not exactly sure how the job fits in with God, but all I know is that I do it for Him and His Glory: I offer it to Him and I know that He’ll find a way to use it.

My job also presents some of the biggest challenges for me.  Shift work has been a big change to my life schedule and I’m still learning how to make things fit.  When I was back in Edmonton, I had my 9-5 (ish) jobs with the flexibility to allow me to allot regular time to using my skills in service.  The biggest two that I feel I miss the most and need to find out how to make them work here are a) a bible study, spending a couple hours every week in community discussing, exploring, and learning scripture and finding out how we can not just know it, but live it; and b) being able to use the gifts I have been blessed with in music and to offer that back to people.  Helping to lead a congregation in worship was something I felt very much called to, and it’s amazing how the opportunities and things I needed to do and be were able to line up in such short notice while I was in Edmonton.  Playing for In His Name was a place where I found myself called to be: I felt God working through me and…for lack of any better description or words, it was a place that felt like it was where I was required to be.

These things are things that I feel like I need to make work again, and I’ve been able to do both in bits and pieces since I moved here, but I often find myself overwhelmed with simply how much there is that I could be doing and how many good things there are to get involved in.  I need to spend a lot more time in prayer to figure out what and where I’m supposed to be: like Jesus, I don’t want to let the things that aren’t part of what God’s direction for me is detract me from that.  I have a purpose, but I’m not quite sure what it is.

Fortunately, I feel fairly sure that God has the patience and grace to put up with me while I figure it out.  The canvas of my life is a work in progress; I’m still working on the penciling let alone adding any paint, and I’ve had to erase a few things in the process.

Moving is a far bigger change to life than I had expected, and in all the challenges it has and is presenting to me, as much as I feel like I’m floating out there without roots, it’s brought me closer to God and made me better able to hear His words.

We can’t say yes to everything, there’s too much.  God has things he wants us to do in life which he equips us for.  I’m still trying to figure out what it is I should be saying “Yes” to and what I should be saying “No” to.  I’m still figuring out what good things I would really like to do, but may be things God says aren’t for me, things that He already has “his people” working on it and He needs me elsewhere.

My life is a work in progress; like Dave, I often feel unsettled.  There’s something bigger that I’m supposed to be doing and focused on, but I can’t quite put my finger on it yet.  I guess all I can really do is pray about it, do my best to learn more about who God is and what He has to say, and make sure I take the time to listen.

crooked souls trying to stay up straight
dry eyes in the pouring rain, well
the shadow proves the sunshine
the shadow proves the sunshine

shine on me,
let my shadows prove the sunshine
please shine on me,
please let my shadows prove the sunshine

yeah yeah, shine on me
yeah yeah, shine on me
yeah yeah, shine on me
yeah yeah, shine on me…

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | January 22, 2009

Love Thy Neighbor

Last night at bible study, we got to talking about evangelism, and where it fits in life.  A lot of people have really negative views of Christian Evangelism, whether it be bible thumpers on a street corner telling you that you’ll be damned for eternity or well-dressed young people going door to door trying to sell people on Jesus.

Here’s a couple thoughts on the subject:

One  You cannot force someone to be a Christian, you cannot shove it down their throats, and you cannot sell it.  Being a Christian means entering into relationship wiht Jesus.  Period.  All those dos and don’ts aren’t a list of what you can and can’t do as a Christian, the rules you have to follow, but more a heads up to how you’re going to want to act when you’ve immersed yourself into a relationship with Jesus.  Ultimately, just as you can’t force anybody to be friends with someone else, you can’t force anyone into a relationship with Jesus.  Trying to do so just results in hippocrits that damage the image and reputation of what Christianity is.

Two  If you are a Christian, don’t be afraid to say it.  You don’t need to ram it down everyone’s throats, but it should be fairly clear that you are what you are.  Being a Christian is not something to hide. 

Three (but related to two)  We are called to bring Jesus to people who do not know Him.  What does that mean.  Myself and many others have this idea that being an evangelist means you’re heading off into remote areas, often in third world countries to bring God to people who have nothing.  To sacrifice a home life for travel and outreach work.  I’m not entirely sure this is the case.

Just Thoughts  I feel like we’re called to two types of evangelism.  The first is that traditional, go somewhere to where people are living in less than idea conditions and give back, help them build or educate or live or whatever and help the love of God enter into those areas.  At the same time, I feel like often we’re quick to neglect our neighbors, whether they be in our apartment or neighbourhood, city, province or state, or country.  There’s just as many equally deserving people surrounding us every day right where we are that could use insight into who God is.  As much as I’d like to help people who have very little and whose lives could be improved by getting to know who God is, I don’t necessarily feel like their salvation is any more important that say, a good friend of mine who has been struggling with the concept of God for a long time.  Many of us agreed last night that the one thing that we’re undoubtedly called to do is to be a light.  Make the fact that you’re a Christian obvious through how you live your life.  Make yourself open to people, that if they have questions about God or Jesus or whatever it is you believe, they know that you can talk to them about it non-judgementally.

Jamie told a story about the fellow who runs Aqua Books and how he was told once that you can’t turn people off Jesus, only onto Him.  A self-proclaimed post-evangelist (I love that term), he’s said that it’s completely false: you can turn people off Jesus, he has.  I feel the same way.  There are places where going in “guns blazing” so to say is an effective, if not prefered, form of evangelism.  There are other places where it needs to be more subtle.  As Christians, we are called to be in the culture, but not of the culture.  In some ways, we need to “play by the rules” of the culture, and that results in different methods and expectations to how religion is approached.

I feel like Christians fall into three categores: there are the people who feel deeply convicted that they need to go out to all sorts of places all over the world and proclaim the Good News.  Conversely, I think there are people who feel called to “set up base” at home and work from within their community.  Lastly, I think there are the “in betweens” people who either lean more to one side or the other, be it staying at home or travelling, but still have a desire to do the other.  I deeply feel that not only are each of these callings okay, but it’s important that we have all three of them.  For myself, I know that I lean towards the staying put method and working in my community wherever home is to help people get to know Christ.  But I still have the desire to head out every once in a while and do some sort of missionary/evangelical work.  Last summer I went to Mexico to build a couple houses and as great as an experience as it was and I’ll never forget it; I don’t think I feel called for that travelling lifestyle to be my main one.

But ultimately, be a light.  That’s what’s important.  You don’t have to shove your Christianity down other’s throats, but they should see your beliefs be a conviction in how you life your life, and they should feel that if they have questions about this God guy, they can ask you and know that you’ll have a conversation with them about it.

I’m just going to stop here before my thoughts get any more disorganized.  Feel free to leave some comments on what you think about all this!

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | January 5, 2009

Theology of Kneeling

Just thought I’d share.  An interesting essay of sorts on the theology behind kneeling to pray and why the writer things it is important and still relevant today.  Bolded empahsis is mine.

The Theology of Kneeling
From Cardinal Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy

There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us
out of kneeling. “It doesn’t suit our culture”, they say (which
culture?) “It’s not right for a grown man to do this — he should face
God on his feet”. Or again: “It’s not appropriate for redeemed man — he
has been set free by Christ and doesn’t need to kneel any more”.
If we look at history, we can see that the Greeks and Romans rejected
kneeling. In view of the squabbling, partisan deities described in
mythology, this attitude was thoroughly justified. It was only too
obvious that these gods were not God, even if you were dependent on
their capricious power and had to make sure that, whenever possible,
you enjoyed their favor. And so they said that kneeling was unworthy of
a free man, unsuitable for the culture of Greece, something the
barbarians went in for. Plutarch and Theophrastus regarded kneeling as
an expression of superstition.

Aristotle called it a barbaric form of behavior (cf. Rhetoric 1361 a
36). Saint Augustine agreed with him in a certain respect: the false
gods were only the masks of demons, who subjected men to the worship of
money and to self-seeking, thus making them “servile” and
superstitious. He said that the humility of Christ and His love, which
went as far as the Cross, have freed us from these powers. We now kneel
before that humility. The kneeling of Christians is not a form of
inculturation into existing customs. It is quite the opposite, an
expression of Christian culture, which transforms the existing culture
through a new and deeper knowledge and experience of God.

Kneeling does not come from any culture — it comes from the Bible
and its knowledge of God. The central importance of kneeling in the
Bible can be seen in a very concrete way. The word proskynein alone
occurs fifty-nine times in the New Testament, twenty-four of which are
in the Apocalypse, the book of the heavenly Liturgy, which is presented
to the Church as the standard for her own Liturgy.

On closer inspection, we can discern three closely related forms of
posture. First there is prostratio — lying with one’s face to the
ground before the overwhelming power of God; secondly, especially in
the New Testament, there is falling to one’s knees before another; and
thirdly, there is kneeling. Linguistically, the three forms of posture
are not always clearly distinguished. They can be combined or merged
with one another.

Prostration

For the sake of brevity, I should like to mention, in the case of
prostratio, just one text from the Old Testament and another from the
New.

In the Old Testament, there is an appearance of God to Joshua before
the taking of Jericho, an appearance that the sacred author quite
deliberately presents as a parallel to God’s revelation of Himself to
Moses in the burning bush. Joshua sees “the commander of the army of
the Lord” and, having recognized who He is, throws himself to the
ground. At that moment he hears the words once spoken to Moses: “Put
off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is holy”
(Josh 5:15). In the mysterious form of the “commander of the army of
the Lord”, the hidden God Himself speaks to Joshua, and Joshua throws
himself down before Him.

Origen gives a beautiful interpretation of this text: “Is there any
other commander of the powers of the Lord than our Lord Jesus Christ?”
According to this view, Joshua is worshiping the One who is to come —
the coming of Christ.

In the case of the New Testament, from the Fathers onward, Jesus’
prayer on the Mount of Olives was especially important. According to
Saint Matthew (22:39) and Saint Mark (14:35), Jesus throws Himself to
the ground; indeed, He falls to the earth (according to Matthew).
However, Saint Luke, who in his whole work (both the Gospel and the
Acts of the Apostles) is in a special way the theologian of kneeling
prayer, tells us that Jesus prayed on His knees. This prayer, the
prayer by which Jesus enters into His Passion, is an example for us,
both as a gesture and in its content.
The gesture: Jesus assumes, as it
were, the fall of man, lets himself fall into man’s fallenness, prays
to the Father out of the lowest depths of human dereliction and
anguish. He lays His will in the will of the Father’s: “Not my will but
yours be done”. He lays the human will in the divine. He takes up all
the hesitation of the human will and endures it. It is this very
conforming of the human will to the divine that is the heart of
redemption. For the fall of man depends on the contradiction of wills,
on the opposition of the human will to the divine, which the tempter
leads man to think is the condition of his freedom. Only one’s own
autonomous will, subject to no other will, is freedom. “Not my will,
but yours …” — those are the words of truth, for God’s will is not in
opposition to our own, but the ground and condition of its possibility.
Only when our will rests in the will of God does it become truly will
and truly free.

The suffering and struggle of Gethsemane is the struggle for this
redemptive truth, for this uniting of what is divided, for the uniting
that is communion with God. Now we understand why the Son’s loving way
of addressing the Father, “Abba”, is found in this place (cf. Mk
14:36). Saint Paul sees in this cry the prayer that the Holy Spirit
places on our lips (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6) and thus anchors our
Spirit-filled prayer in the Lord’s prayer in Gethsemane.

In the Church’s Liturgy today, prostration appears on two occasions:
on Good Friday and at ordinations. On Good Friday, the day of the
Lord’s crucifixion, it is the fitting expression of our sense of shock
at the fact that we by our sins share in the responsibility for the
death of Christ. We throw ourselves down and participate in His shock,
in His descent into the depths of anguish. We throw ourselves down and
so acknowledge where we are and who we are: fallen creatures whom only
He can set on their feet. We throw ourselves down, as Jesus did, before
the mystery of God’s power present to us, knowing that the Cross is the
true burning bush, the place of the flame of God’s love, which burns
but does not destroy.

At ordinations prostration comes from the awareness of our absolute
incapacity, by our own powers, to take on the priestly mission of Jesus
Christ, to speak with His “I”.
While the ordinands are lying on the
ground, the whole congregation sings the Litany of the Saints. I shall
never forget lying on the ground at the time of my own priestly and
episcopal ordination. When I was ordained bishop, my intense feeling of
inadequacy, incapacity, in the face of the greatness of the task was
even stronger than at my priestly ordination. The fact that the praying
Church was calling upon all the saints, that the prayer of the Church
really was enveloping and embracing me, was a wonderful consolation. In
my incapacity, which had to be expressed in the bodily posture of
prostration, this prayer, this presence of all the saints, of the
living and the dead, was a wonderful strength — it was the only thing
that could, as it were, lift me up. Only the presence of the saints
with me made possible the path that lay before me.

Kneeling Before Another


Secondly, we must mention the gesture of falling to one’s knees before
another, which is described four times in the Gospels (cf. Mk 1:40;
10:17; Mt 17:14; 27:29) by means of the word gonypetein. Let us single
out Mark 1:40. A leper comes to Jesus and begs Him for help. He falls
to his knees before Him and says: “If you will, you can make me clean”.
It is hard to assess the significance of the gesture. What we have here
is surely not a proper act of adoration, but rather a supplication
expressed fervently in bodily form, while showing a trust in a power
beyond the merely human.

The situation is different, though, with the classical word for
adoration on one’s knees — proskynein. I shall give two examples in
order to clarify the question that faces the translator.

First there is the account of how, after the multiplication of the
loaves, Jesus stays with the Father on the mountain, while the
disciples struggle in vain on the lake with the wind and the waves.
Jesus comes to them across the water. Peter hurries toward Him and is
saved from sinking by the Lord. Then Jesus climbs into the boat, and
the wind lets up. The text continues: “And the ship’s crew came and
said, falling at His feet, ‘Thou art indeed the Son of God’” (Mt 14:33,
Knox version). Other translations say: “[The disciples] in the boat
worshiped [Jesus], saying …” (RSV). Both translations are correct. Each
emphasizes one aspect of what is going on. The Knox version brings out
the bodily expression, while the RSV shows what is happening
interiorly.
It is perfectly clear from the structure of the narrative
that the gesture of acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God is an act of
worship.

We encounter a similar set of problems in Saint John’s Gospel when
we read the account of the healing of the man born blind. This
narrative, which is structured in a truly “theo-dramatic” way, ends
with a dialogue between Jesus and the man He has healed. It serves as a
model for the dialogue of conversion, for the whole narrative must also
be seen as a profound exposition of the existential and theological
significance of Baptism.

In the dialogue, Jesus asks the man whether he believes in the Son
of Man. The man born blind replies: “Tell me who He is, Lord”. When
Jesus says, “It is He who is speaking to you”, the man makes the
confession of faith: “I do believe, Lord”, and then he “[falls] down to
worship Him” (Jn 9:35-38, Knox version adapted). Earlier translations
said: “He worshiped Him”. In fact, the whole scene is directed toward
the act of faith and the worship of Jesus, which follows from it. Now
the eyes of the heart, as well as of the body, are opened. The man has
in truth begun to see.

For the exegesis of the text it is important to note that the word
proskynein occurs eleven times in Saint John’s Gospel, of which nine
occurrences are found in Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman
by Jacob’s well (Jn 4:19-24). This conversation is entirely devoted to
the theme of worship, and it is indisputable that here, as elsewhere in
Saint John’s Gospel, the word always has the meaning of “worship”.

Incidentally, this conversation, too, ends — like that of the healing
of the man born blind — with Jesus’ revealing Himself: “I who speak to
you am He” (Jn 4:26).

I have lingered over these texts, because they bring to light
something important. In the two passages that we looked at most
closely, the spiritual and bodily meanings of proskynein are really
inseparable. The bodily gesture itself is the bearer of the spiritual
meaning, which is precisely that of worship. Without the worship, the
bodily gesture would be meaningless, while the spiritual act must of
its very nature, because of the psychosomatic unity of man, express
itself in the bodily gesture.

The two aspects are united in the one word, because in a very
profound way they belong together. When kneeling becomes merely
external, a merely physical act, it becomes meaningless. One the other
hand, when someone tries to take worship back into the purely spiritual
realm and refuses to give it embodied form, the act of worship
evaporates, for what is purely spiritual is inappropriate to the nature
of man. Worship is one of those fundamental acts that affect the whole
man.
That is why bending the knee before the presence of the living God
is something we cannot abandon.

In saying this, we come to the typical gesture of kneeling on one or
both knees. In the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the verb barak, “to
kneel”, is cognate with the word berek, “knee”. The Hebrews regarded
the knees as a symbol of strength, to bend the knee is, therefore, to
bend our strength before the living God, an acknowledgment of the fact
that all that we are we receive from Him.
In important passages of the
Old Testament, this gesture appears as an expression of worship.

At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon kneels “in the presence of
all the assembly of Israel” (II Chron 6:13). After the Exile, in the
afflictions of the returned Israel, which is still without a Temple,
Ezra repeats this gesture at the time of the evening sacrifice: “I …
fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God” (Ezra
9:5). The great psalm of the Passion, Psalm 22 (”My God, my God, why
have you forsaken me?”), ends with the promise: “Yes, to Him shall all
the proud of the earth fall down; before Him all who go down to the
dust shall throw themselves down” (v. 29, RSV adapted).

The related passage Isaiah 45:23 we shall have to consider in the
context of the New Testament. The Acts of the Apostles tells us how
Saint Peter (9:40), Saint Paul (20:36), and the whole Christian
community (21:5) pray on their knees.

Particularly important for our question is the account of the
martyrdom of Saint Stephen. The first man to witness to Christ with his
blood is described in his suffering as a perfect image of Christ, whose
Passion is repeated in the martyrdom of the witness, even in small
details. One of these is that Stephen, on his knees, takes up the
petition of the crucified Christ: “Lord, do not hold this sin against
them” (7:60). We should remember that Luke, unlike Matthew and Mark,
speaks of the Lord kneeling in Gethsemane, which shows that Luke wants
the kneeling of the first martyr to be seen as his entry into the
prayer of Jesus. Kneeling is not only a Christian gesture, but a
christological one.

The Name Above All Names


For me, the most important passage for the theology of
kneeling will always be the great hymn of Christ in Philippians 2:6-11.
In this pre-Pauline hymn, we hear and see the prayer of the apostolic
Church and can discern within it her confession of faith in Christ.
However, we also hear the voice of the Apostle, who enters into this
prayer and hands it on to us, and, ultimately, we perceive here both
the profound inner unity of the Old and New Testaments and the cosmic
breadth of Christian faith.

The hymn presents Christ as the antitype of the First Adam. While
the latter high-handedly grasped at likeness to God, Christ does not
count equality with God, which is His by nature, “a thing to be
grasped”, but humbles Himself unto death, even death on the Cross. It
is precisely this humility, which comes from love, that is the truly
divine reality and procures for Him the “name which is above every
name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on
earth and under the earth” (Phil 2:5-10).

Here the hymn of the apostolic Church takes up the words of promise
in Isaiah 45:23: “By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth
in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall
bow, every tongue shall swear’”. In the interweaving of Old and New
Testaments, it becomes clear that, even as crucified, Jesus bears that
“name above every name” — the name of the Most High — and is Himself
God by nature. Through Him, through the Crucified, the bold promise of
the Old Testament is now fulfilled: all bend the knee before Jesus, the
One who descended, and bow to Him precisely as the one true God above
all gods. The Cross has become the world-embracing sign of God’s
presence, and all that we have previously heard about the historic and
cosmic Christ should now, in this passage, come back into our minds.

The Christian Liturgy is a cosmic Liturgy precisely because it bends
the knee before the crucified and exalted Lord. Here is the center of
authentic culture – the culture of truth. The humble gesture by which
we fall at the feet of the Lord inserts us into the true path of life
of the cosmos.

There is much more that we might add. For example, there is the
touching story told by Eusebius in his history of the Church as a
tradition going back to Hegesippus in the second century. Apparently,
Saint James, the “brother of the Lord”, the first bishop of Jerusalem
and “head” of the Jewish Christian Church, had a kind of callous on his
knees, because he was always on his knees worshipping God and begging
forgiveness for his people (2, 23, 6). Again, there is a story that
comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the
devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He
looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most
strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very
essence of the diabolical.

But I do not want to go into more detail. I should like to make just
one more remark. The expression used by Saint Luke to describe the
kneeling of Christians (theis ta gonata) is unknown in classical Greek.
We are dealing here with a specifically Christian word. With that
remark, our reflections turn full circle to where they began.
It may
well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture — insofar as it is a
culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer
knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the
intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns
also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with
kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling
must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship
with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos,
indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself.

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | November 25, 2008

The Father Empties His Coffers

This past Sunday at St. Benedict’s Table took a slight sidestep from the traditional Anglican Liturgy.  Instead of the typical readings / song structure, an exploration of the prodigal son was done through poetry.  Alternating between poems and songs, we went through a series of poems by Kilian McDonnell, O.S.B., S.T.D. from Saint John’s Abbey, in Collegeville, Minnesota.  This series of poems is published in a collection of poetry by Kilian McDonnell entitled Yahweh’s Other Shoe at http://www.litpress.org.

I really enjoyed the poetry, and looking at the story of the prodigal son from a different perspective.  I won’t go into too much detail here; I just want to share one of the poems:

IV. NO ONE LOVES ME

The Golden Nothing creeps home.

The kid who siphoned off your blood,
slit your purse, is back expecting
bows and offerings.  You’ve crumbled with joy.

     He trashes your new ox
     cart, burns your barn,
     comes purring back once more,

rubbing his adolescent fur against
your boney leg, waiting or your petting
hand.  You wince, smile. The cycle
of eternal return.  Your fault, only yours.

     Tell me, just tell me why
     this heedless, selfish cub
     all claws and smiles, can

charm away the jagged slash upon
your face.  The cut goes deeper than
the scar.  No leash, no cage will do.
He scampers free to booze in back-

     strip brothels.  This son
     of yours has the brass, cold
     brass, to ask you for his portion

while you live.  And now he’s back,
hungry, broke, mauled by city cats,
leaving a trail of chaos and copulation,
licking self-inflicted wounds, scratching

     at your front door to see
     if he had left some loot
     behind last time around

Once more, the tattered plumage, polished
tears.  You suggest I sing the kid
a Hallel psalm to celebrate his passing
over.  But, I, too was trapped.

     For years I bled fidelity
     unsung.   No new rags upon
     my back.  Am I an alley mongrel?

No, I will not join the joy.
I’m weary of forgivness.
Let the lost stay lost.
Next month, he’ll be gone.

Posted by: bazokajoe_2k | October 27, 2008

Where To Go?

Yesterday morning I went to St. Aiden’s for the first time in a while.  Not that I haven’t wanted to go, but simply that due to work or being sick or other commitments, I just haven’t been able to make it in nearly 2 months.  I’m still not sure what to make of the whole thing.

Two things first, though.

I am not in the same place as I was two months ago.  Mentally, socially, or relationally.  I’m in a better place than I was two months ago.  I am more whole, more rounded, and more comfortable than I was two months ago.  I am more sure of myself, more sure of my needs, and more sure of where I’m going than I was two months ago.  If I were to imagine a bad analogy, two months ago I was floating around at sea with my life preserver, now I’m building my hut on my desert island replete with coconut phone.

The second thing I’d like to mention is that in no way is anything I’m about to say meant to be derogatory.  I am simply in a different place than the people at St. Aiden’s.  I’m not questioning their faith, their devotion, their sincerity, or their honesty.  They are a good people, a good community, and I see God working in them.

It was a difficult decision to attend St. Aiden’s on Sunday.  Certain relationships aren’t where they once were, and I wanted to respect that.  I didn’t want to impose myself on the other’s space.  But, at the same time, I wanted to head back to St. Aiden’s.  So 9 minutes before the service started, I decided to go.  I got there right as it was starting.  I looked around for anybody I knew, and oddly, nobody was there.  Well, there were lots of people there, but nobody that I knew.  So I found an empty spot in a pew about 3/4 back from the front, and partook in the service.  It was mostly how I remembered it; the music was the same (literally, some songs I’ve now heard every time I’ve gone there), the readings were great, and the sermon was “topical” (this week it was about the spiritual dangers of the occult).  About half way through, though, it hit me.  None of it was speaking to me.  The music felt empty, the words being spoken in the sermon seemed trivial and irrelevant to me, and I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that this simply wasn’t a place where I was going to get the spiritual nourishment I needed.  I listened the whole time, I processed what was being said.  Most of it had no meaningful impact on me.  I simply couldn’t use what was being given.  I prayed a lot during the sermon, I wanted God to tell me what was going on; is this something I’m just feeling, or are you trying to tell me something.

He definitely was trying to tell me something.  When it came time for communion, for the first time I can remember, I didn’t go and partake.  I was not in a place where I should be having communion.  I didn’t feel like I had adequately interacted with God; I didn’t feel spiritual nourishment, and worst of all, I didn’t really feel like I was in the community there.  I was an outsider.  Not by neglect of the people, but of my own being.  My own needs.  My own spiritual direction.  It simply is not in the same direction as that Church.

So I passed on communion.  This is a big deal.  That’s all I can say about it.  I stayed until the end of the service, received the dismissal and stayed through the closing song.  I then promptly left.  It’s not that I didn’t want to stick around, introduce myself to someone new, make friends, say hi to Father Brett…I just had to leave.  That was it, simply.

Now I fear that I’ve painted a bad picture of St. Aiden’s.  I do not think lowly of it, I do not dislike it, I do not think ill of it’s community.  It is a vibrant Church with a caring, passionate community living for God.

But it’s not the Church for me.  I feel that is what God was saying.  He is pushing my life in a different direction with different needs than what St. Aiden’s offers to fill.  So here I stand at a crossroads.  Do I trust that this is what God is trying to tell me?  Or is this something in my own head, a fabrication to protect myself in some way?

Either way, I think I’m going to take a break from St. Aiden’s for a while.  There are a few other churches that were recommended to me; including several with a younger congregation and more active “extra-curricular” activities.  The first is good because I still need to meet more people.  I’ve found people that matter deeply to me, but I still need to hang out with others more.  A church with a younger congregation would be really beneficial in that regard.  The latter is important because I do shift work, and I need more opportunities to get involved since I can’t commit to a regular evening of a week.  A church with an “overwhelming” amount of outreach and the like would probably provide me with just enough chances to get involved.

All that being said, Sunday morning was not my favorite morning.  I was and am extremely blessed to have a girlfriend that let me visit on short notice and just spout out random barely connected thoughts as I tried to put it all together and to have a “second home” at St. Beneditct’s Table where, seemingly, I can always count on to be able to go and be spiritually filled.

God can be rather unsubtle when He tries to tell you something.  Sunday was extremely jarring.  It makes me think that He might be telling me something important; it makes me think He might have plans to put me to work somewhere else in His body.

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