Friday, February 27, 2009

Pardon me, but I seem to be lost...

I am beginning to feel as though I have read this book before, but I realize that it is just that these are the same things that we are being taught at WRC...

"For my part I don't need any more "find yourself, feed yourself, love and forgive yourself" teaching. it's like candy - it tastes good, but it doesn't make me healthy. What I want to know is where are those who have lost their lives only to find them again? Isn't that what the Bible says to do? Shouldn't those people be our spiritual leaders?

Absurd religion has totally failed society in this area. In order to gratify itself, it has fed the public candy, until now even the Christians are sick. I think religion's current sickness is what angers and divides America. Those who don't attend church in our society know the church people are just as sick with self-absorption as everyone else is. And they get angry when a sick group of people tries to tell them what to do.

The only way any of us, religious or not, is going to get well is to be freed from absurd humanism. None of us can afford to listen to anyone, preacher or otherwise, who encourages self-fixation. The Bible takes the center off of us and puts it back on God. Compassion for people is good, but it is not the center of biblical Christianity. When religion puts people's wants, needs, hurts, cares, or anything humansitic at its center, it becomes absurd and no longer effective.

If you want to get spiritually and emotionally healthy God's way, then your spiritual center of gravity must change. We must purposely aim at what Jesus wants and cares about. We follow the pattern and attitude he had while here on earth. Jesus cared for all humanity. Yet the Bible never says humanity was the center of his life and his efforts. Jesus was focused on loving and honoring his Father in heaven. He said he would only do what his Father showed him to do. His selflessness towards God made him a servant to mankind." (My Absurd Religion by Which I Make My Living by Pastor Steve Gray)

I don't think our focus should be on "our ministry"/vision or worrying what our "calling" is. I know I have, in the past, been guilty of this. We go to churches that offer shallow sermons because it is a place where we can build on "our ministries"; all the while our children are suffering because they are being fed cotton candy fluff about God instead of a healthy meal. We wonder why our children are angry when we do all we can to give them every little thing they could possibly want, all the while they are starving for spiritual nutrition and we settle on giving them fast food continually in the name of convenience or for the purpose of finding "our calling" or building on "our ministry"/vision.

What do I think we should focus on? The same things Pastor Steve said. Are we not called to be followers of Christ? Does that not mean we aim to think like Him, do like Him, be like Him? If so, which I think most believe it to be, our focus, then, should be the same as Jesus'. "Jesus was focused on loving and honoring his Father in heaven. He said he would only do what his Father showed him to do." I don't think it is to focus on ourselves/our vision by finding or strengthening "our" calling; it is to focus on God and restoring honor to Him and listening for what He tells us to do. Everything else will fall into its place.

Let's keep score...

Still on this morality thing as the pivotal center of most Christians in the book (My Absurd Religion by Which I Make my Living by pastor Steve Gray) and this paragraph jumped at me from off the page.

"Good morality is not what makes a Christian. This should be the best news you've heard in a while. No, the mark of a Christian is the presence of God. Think about it - if morality makes a Christian, then Muslims are better ones than we are. They have a much more strict moral system than Christianity. But morality doesn't make a Christian. Presence does. When God was displeased with the children of Isreal in the wilderness, he threatened to take away his presence. I think that is pretty much what has happened to my absurd religion.

It is past time for Christianity to do away with preachers who preach morality and a powerless God. I will never be satisfied with a religion that only cleans the outside of the cup. I want my insides cleaned, too."

There's power, power wonder working power...

"I like what the presence of God does. It pulls people in. It breaks down barriers of race, religion and even morals. It brings successful people and failures together under one banner. When the power of God is present, everyone is having a tangible experience together with the living God. It is a time of knowing God in a way you can feel, but perhaps not explain. I believe this presence, all but lost in religion today, is the stuff that makes heroes. The men and women of the Bible are legends because they were ordinary people doing great things by a power that was not their own.

Morality without offering the presence and power of God is just the opposite. It excludes and divides. Morality alone pushes people away; it won't let them in."

As a pastor friend of ours from KC (now in Australia) would say, "GOOD WORD, PASTAH! GOOD WORD!"

Powerless Among Men

I know; I know! I need to stop with all these posts but to be honest I really can't! This book has been a fantastic read so far and I just have the desire to share what I have been reading about.

Just prior to this exerpt Pastor Steve Gray is talking about how personal morality is at the center of today's religion and that it is not entirely properly placed there. He goes on further to say that he is not promoting immorality or a "do what feels good" religion but moreso that this idea becomes absurd as it has "been made the pivotal center of our view of God".

Here's a bit more from the book:

"Religion has become about pushing morality on others. Church becomes a place where moral people practice and promote their morality. Today we have groups and organizations that, like Luther, believe that immorality is the problem and morality is the answer. Displaying the commandments in a courthouse or school relieves some of their anxiety and insecurity.

However, trying to create a moral anxiety is not helping America. It is dividing America. Telling people to be moral doesn't work. Passing moral laws may protect the innocent from devious deeds, but it won't create a moral society. Reading, posting or memorizing the Ten Commandments won't work. Those rules may instruct us, but they are powerless to change us. That's what the Bible itself says.

The Bible promises that God has the power to help us change, but morality without that power is absurd. Yet, many preachers of morality in American religion portray God as powerless today. They preach that God's power to do miracles ended with the Apostles. They don't believe God helps people by doing miracles now. To them, a miracle was God's way of promoting himself until the Bible could be written. Now that we have the Bible, we don't need miracles anymore -or so they say.

For a minister to take the power of God out of the Bible is an absurd idea. It removes any hope we have of changing. Then to turn around and tell the rest of the world they need to be moral is even worse. You can see what it is doing to our country. At the end of the day we have a divided nation that is no more moral than when we started. Efforts to force morality on others just make Christians look foolish.

Here is my idea: (emphasis added) God wants to show himself strong, powerful, and mighty in our day, just as he did throughout history. I believe it is his choice for every ordinary person to experience his presence. When I say "his presence" I mean a tangible knowing. A tangible knowing includes things we can see, as well as things we can't see. It can be a feeling or a sense. It is an internal knowing that God is with us, is active in our lives, and cares about us. "

"Why don't most churches have his presence/ I think it's because the people who control religion in America have never experienced it. You can't give to others what you don't have (emphasis mine). Another reason is that the controllers are embarrassed by outward displays of emotion. They would rather remain safe, reserved, and coddle their people, while at the same time telling the rest of the world to change." "My Absurd Religion by Which I Make my Living" by Pastor Steve Gray

I find it funny that most of these people who believe that the people who give as much as they do during worship (ie raising their hands higher than their shoulders, shouting, jumping, dancing, etc.) are just being emotional (emotionalism), or whatever it is they choose to call it, are some of the same people you can see at a {insert sports game here} game covered in the team's colors face paint who lose their voice cheering at a goal, a check, a tackle, a basket... are the same people who can tell you team player stats or the last time they won and probably get more passionate about a bad reffing call than anything from last week's church service. They are the same people who will openly weep at the end of a movie or through a book or jump at a concert but not at church where they can encounter the presence of God. Aren't these same things emotionalism? Just wondering...

Can you see the difference? I can't see the difference? IS there a difference?

In this book I am reading "My Absurd Religion by Which I Make My Living" by Pastor Steve Gray he talks about a conversation he had while in the drawing board stage of his award winning TV show. He was asked what the target audience for the show would be, Christian or non-Christian. Here are his thoughts on that as stated in the book.

"That was a tough one to answer because, in reality, Christians and non-Christians these days are not that different. They all believe that self-analysis brings understanding, and understanding brings light. They all believe what they choose to believe so they can feel better about themselves. What's the difference? Church people may talk differently than people who don't go to church, but they don't think differently. Everybody is self-absorbed.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to feeling better. Who doesn't want to feel better? What I don't like is that my absurd religion has capitalized on the self-centeredness of society to benefit itself. It gives people a deceptive sense of what Christianity is about...Psychoanalysis has its place, but not in religion - at least not in the religion called Christianity. It makes ministers say absurd things from the pulpit."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

He carries MY picture in His wallet

That is how some people view it; isn't it?

Take a look over this; I would love to hear what you think about this viewpoint.

"Many of us have a driving need to have someone tell us we are good. We want to hear someone say our desires are good, all of our past decisions and motives were good. What better person to say, "You are a good boy or girl," than God himself?...I pulled into an intersection one night and just happened to look over at what was to my left. In the car next to me was a person I knew from church. He and I were always joking with each other, so I signaled him to roll down his window while we waited for the light to change.

He looked interested, like I was about to say something important. A second before the light turned green I yelled out the window, "God loves me more than you! He carrieds my picture in his wallet!" I laughed, the light changed and I drove off. Yep, that's the God my absurd religion believes in. He is the God who carries all of our pictures in his wallet and just can't wait to show us off to the relatives.

Behind all this encouraging talk you won't find real answers. Nevertheless, because needy people want to hear reassuring words they keep coming to church, and they support the ministry that makes them feel better. The system creats a co-dependency. Instead of offuring a cure, ministers are feeding the need that keeps the people coming back for more.

Jesus didn't use the language of Freud. when he came face to face wiht a need his words were often sharp and to the point. He would often say something like this: Ears be open! Spirit be gone! Be made whole! Jesus allowed no one to stay in a victim mentality. His words cured, delivered, and brought life. Jesus cared deeply for humanity-but he was not a humanist.

Jesus was loving, but strict. He told people to love God with all of their hearts, souls, and strength. Wow! That's different from the stuff we hear today from the pulpits."

My Absurd Religion by Which I Make My Living by Pastor Steve Gray.


Yesterday, last night and a bit this morning I let my emotions and fears run me but, I got control of them once again and, now, tightly reined, I, once more, control them! One of Rush's biological aunts and her cousin (from her biological dad's side) sent her a message and a request for friendship through Facebook. We have not heard from these people in 7 years - any of them - and not through our disuading them. No, this has been all them and then they pop back into her life in the most non-committal way, email, and with no sense of remorse for the time or anything. (That is my vent and that is as far as that goes)

I was letting my fear of them hurting Rush, yet again, overtake me. This morning, during prayer, I could only squeak out my words amidst tears and sobs, praying that God won't let them hurt her or take advantage of her again. This morning at work, I rose so far above that feeling! God won't let that happen to her! How much more does He love her than I do or ever can!? He will equip her for whatever comes her way in this situation and He will equip us, her family, to help her with whatever situation comes her way.

One way or another though, these people need to get committed to being in her life or get committed to being out of it (this will be the end to their popping in and out of her life-one way or the other). This mama will not lay down like a rug and be walked over by anyone and the rules still apply; if Rush decides to go forth with this (and the decision is completely hers to make) it will be on her and my terms and with Rush's best interest at the heart of the matter. It will also be with the guidance of God.

I thank God for giving me the strenth to rise above this right hook that came out of nowhere; it may have caught me off guard and knocked me off balance but not for long and I am coming back swinging with all that I have and all the resources I have at my disposal. In other words, the tactic won't work. I read the book...and it says that my resource is a conquering king and a victorious warrior with fire in His eyes. Nice try. Sorry to burst your bubble...

As for the confusion that poor Rush is going through right now and the vomitting and lack of sleep she had due to this, I come against that and want her to know that I will be there with and for her every step of the way no matter which road she chooses and no matter what happens, just like always! No matter what you decide, Baby, I am with you, no matter the outcome. Dad & I are here to support your decision and to help walk you through whatever the terrain may be for you. Always remember that.

P.S. We won't pop...

I hope and pray they really mean this...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

That's Absurd II

"Today it is common for churches to send people around the world to evangelize non-believers. The goal is to get people to become a Christian so at death they will go to heaven. Churches also send groups out on good deeds missions to build buildings in Third World countries or to put shoes on the feet of poor children and provide enough money for a meal a day. These may be good things to do, but in all the recorded acts of Jesus, he never did these things.

I am sure there must have been many shoeless kids in Jesus' day, but there are no accounts of him supplying them with any. There must have been hungry children with big round bellies liek the ones you in those TV commercials, but Jesus never raised money to buy them food. He didn't busy the disciples building synagogues for poor Jews or houses for the hundreds who had lost their homes to the Roman tax collectors.

Instead, Jesus cut at the root of evil with the power of God. he went after the demons that kept society corrupt and sick. He freed entire communities from the powers of darkness that held the people in poverty. He cast out the spirit of corruption and taught them the way of love, honesty and generosity." (pages 32-33 "My Absurd Religion by Which I Make My Living" by Pastor Steve Gray)

How Absurd!

"But my religion is so busy maintaining its image that it denies it even has problems. Often, it blames society's woes on people who are not Christians. It rails against the immoral people of America as though they hold all the power of the future. Christians deceive themselves into believing that if everyone living outside of Christianity would live moral lives, America would be safe and secure.

The prophet Jeremiah of the Bible said there are only two sins taht cause societal misery. sin number one is "My poeple have forsaken me." In other words, God's followers gave up on following. To them, God was no longer a part of the solution, and they simply lost interest in Him. They still did religious things, but only halfheartedly. Remember, god's poepl committed this sin. It was active religion without a conscience. God wasn't angry that the pagans were acting like pagans. How else would you expect them to act? It waould have changed nothing for the pagans to walk a straight line. God's heart was breaking because his own people paid him no mind, though they pretended to. God's response was to withdraw and be hard to find.

This is what I seen in the churches of America. People may go to church, but their first question is, "When does this thing get over?" Churches have become like fast food restaurants offering speedy service. Christians don't want the power and presence of God in their lives; they just want to be left alone to get on with their lives. Ask any pastor or minister what the greatest problem of the church is today. It all boils down to one thing: The people just don't care. They want a little bit of God in their lives, but they mainly want food, fun and entertainment. In most cases, religion is giving them what they want." (pages 9 & 10)

" A church is not a place wit a steeple, or baptistery or altar. It's not even a place with a pastor or a priest. Neither is it a place to find sympathy or support. A church is a place where people go to experience God. It is to be like no other place on earth. It is the God meeting place. If there is no power or presence of God, then it is not a church. it is something else." (page 20-21)

"I think I could ask every preacher within a hundred miles of me what the gospel is about and ninety nine percent would get it wrong. I've heard a lot of sermons in my day and have been to hundreds of churches around the world. But I have heard relatively few sermons about Jesus Christ. Plenty of sermons reference Jesus, but the ones I've hear are primarily about our needs, our hurts, and our blessings. They are about us, not him. To be sure, Jesus did do a lot for us. That's great news, but it's not the primary news. The primary news is about Jesus himself. My absurd religion is like a kid who skips the main meal to get to the dessert. Ministers today are so eager to get to the self-gratifying stuff that most of America thinks the gospel is about Jesus coming to make us happy and fulfilled. Too m any churches have become a dessert buffet of inspiration feel-good theology." (Page 29)

"Some preachers, as I've said, think the gospel is only about getting into heaven. But to me, the good news is that God will come down from heaven and be with us here, not that we will someday go to heaven. Absurd religion offers a God who lives upstairs and is presently unavailable; but I get to see him after I die. My absurd religion has become so powerless and ineffective in this life that it has little left to offer but an afterlife. But the gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reveal an interactive God....Yes, we have the promise of heaven at death, but we also have a lot to do before we get there." (page 29-30)

Quotes taken from "My Absurd Religion by Which I Make my Living" by Pastor Steve Gray

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yesterday I smelled

Yesterday I had just finished getting ready for work and had walked into the kitchen; Jellybean smiled at me and told me how nice I smelled (I had just finished spraying my perfume, Jennifer Lopez Luxe).

Bug looked at me, the way he does when you can see the magnitude of his love written ALL over his face and sweetly said, "Yeah, Mommy, you smell like...Fruit Loops...".

I think that was the best compliment I got yesterday, if not ever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jellybean's new word

According to Jellybean it will always be easy for people to remember how old she is (and she is right); she is, after all, an "illeminum baby".

Of course, she meant millenium.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I never thought I'd hear HER say THAT!!!!

A few of us went to McDonalds after service last night and then went to Cheryl's house to watch a movie. We rented the movie from Blockbuster and I heard Rush say something on her way in that I never, ever thought I would hear her say, EVER!

As she walked in with two of her friends I heard her say, "The last time I was in here I had a mustache." She said it so calmly - like there was nothing strange about that.

Now let me explain this whole thing to you. Last Sunday Rush and Goofda had a little bit of fun at church; they were planning on attending sports right after but got distracted first on their way and Rush went into Blockbuster to rent a movie looking like this...

This is what she lloked like leaving church.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Are you doing or hearing?

Be a doer of the Word not just a hearer; push yourself and be an example to others (be willing to be an example). Being a hearer only and NOT a doer, you become deceived believing that God is happy that you just showed up to church on time.

Once you have "tasted" God you just want more and more. You NEED more! It's never enough! You are never satisfied! If you don't want more, if you don't feel that, I don't think you've ever really experienced Him for real!

Time to get real

Dixie opened up a can of worms in my mind with the latest post she has done; she asked me if that was good or bad and I think it was mostly good. It really got me thinking, evaluating, seeking and adament to change my mindset on something: my body image, healthy body image and the crap the media tries to feed us daily.

I think I was around 14 years old (so roughly 2/3 of my life has this affected me in one way shape or form) that I developed an eating disorder. I don't even know when or how; I didn't set out to be taken over & consumed by this thing. In retrospect it seems like it moved itself into a room of my mind never once announcing its plans, its arrival nor its presence-it just was. Instantly it seemed like a permanent fixture (you know how you can walk around the furniture in your house at night without having to think where it is, you just know it's there?), like it was always there and was supposed to be there instead of being the foreign thought that it was (is).

At 14 years old I was pretty much the same height I am now (close to 5'7") perhaps a couple inches shorter and I weighed 120 lbs; I was always an active kid so I was in good shape as well and I would look at myself in the mirror and see fat. I am not capable of seeing myself the way I truly am right now (even still); I have always looked in the mirror longing to see what everyone else did but instead seeing someone, not just 5-10 lbs over but, grotesquely overweight. At 14 years old, 5'5" (we will say) and 120 lbs I saw someone with 50 lbs to lose perhaps more.

When I was 15 years old my dad showed me a picture of a lady he knew and asked me what I thought of her. I thought she was beautiful. She was slim and simply beautiful. Dad asked me how tall I was and as I answered he made a "hmmmph" kind of noise; he then asked me how much I weighed, again he made the noise. He proceeded to ask me how I thought I could be fat and needing to lose weight when I had just looked at a picture of a lady who was the exact height and weight I was and I thought she looked beautiful and perfectly skinny. I had no answer for him. Logic didn't dictate that I could answer him.

I don't really know how I survived on the food I ate as a teen Grades 9-11 I never ate breakfast, had a frozen, slushy juicebox (orange juice) and an ice cream sandwich for lunch (I threw my lunch out everyday!) and picked and scraped at my supper. The whole day would have probably amounted to maybe 600 calories.

By Grade 12 I was down to 100 lbs, started smoking to replace another meal and I was "good to go". At 1oo lbs I still looked in the mirror and saw that same body looking back at me, the one that needed to lose a "me" worth of weight. I don't know where it came from or what is the deep rooted seed behind this image I have but I do know that it is wrong; I don't look like how I see myself.

"They" say that eating disorders come from a feeling of having a lack of control in ones life and that things like parental divorce or rapes can trigger one to grab control by controlling how much or how little they eat. By 14 yrs old my parents were divorced but I can't say that I felt that much loss of control over it perhaps add to that our house burning down and my grandpa dying the year earlier but still...I have no recollection of feeling life was out of control. That is just what my life was and I think my "support system" was enough that I didn't feel like I was free falling. So I can't see that being the trigger; I was raped/assaulted a couple of times during my teen years which I suffered silently with - this may be the first time some hear this about me even but I think it had to do more with seeing images of what I was "supposed to look like" day after day after day than what I have gone through. I don't really know; all I do know is that it just is and I am sick and tired of thinking I have beaten it to only look in the mirror again to see another ugly tenticle wrapping its way around my throat.

I have come a long way but there is still plenty of road to go and I know that I can't do it by myself. I may not suffer the eating disorder part now but that distorted body image remains and through God's help and hopefully (my friends and family as well) I know that I can shatter that image that has haunted me every time I look at my reflection. Yes, in reality I have a couple of pounds to lose to get to a healthier weight but not the 80 lbs I see surrounding my reflection. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and this is a pretty small thing for a great big GOD. I can all ready begin to feel those chains (and tenticles) begin to stretch and prepare to snap off and crumble to dust. I know it will happen! No! I know that it IS happening NOW!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Getting better.

We have family devotions and a time of prayer every morning before we leave our separate directions for the day; it has become an important part of our day and one that the kids look forward to as well.

We have gone through spurts of the kids, especially and moreso the younger two, not really praying anything other than their typical same words everyday prayers but lately, we have noticed it has really been stepped up and has had some powerful wording in it for small children; they are really starting to open up and realize what is being taught at our church (there is no Junior Holy Spirit! 'You is or you isn't,' as my Newfie friends would say.)

Excerpts from this morning's prayer from the kids:

-"Help us, God to listen to what You are telling us."
-"We need more of You, God; send fire!"

-"Give us the mind of Christ."
-"Teach us to be more like You!"

-"Thank you that You are drawing us closer to You and that through that we are getting closer as a family, that we are becoming stronger as a family!"

I had to leave part way through Rush praying for a moment and so I did miss most of what she said however there is just so much more life and passion in the way my children pray now. As a parent it is very reassuring to know that they are aware of the realness.