Following Where Others Have Gone Before

Since you have clicked on this page, you must be interested in my story…

So get yourself a cup of coffee  and sit down for a read.  It’s three parts so enjoy, and open yourself up to what the Spirit has been doing with me.

Part 1

27 12 2008

Over the past decade, many people have left institutional churches behind and have decided that creeds, buildings,  and doctrines are limiting factors that keep people from living like Jesus did as he walked the earth.

I have met deist ,a person who believes in God, but not in Jesus as Lord,  and feel that they act more like the Jesus that I’ve come to know from going outside of the faith tradition of what is now know as “Chruchianity Christianity”.

Now the current IC really can be a place to get away, learn about the Bible and rest and be renewed, but what do you do then?  Most IC’s tend to have people show up, give money,  and don’t change anything unless the counsel and congregation say it can happen.  Don’t rock the boat.

I am grateful for my years with an IC, for if it weren’t for that tradition, I may have not turned back to Jesus as my leader, brother, and savior.   But for all the years I spent playing praise music, leading discussions, giving talks, I felt that there was something missing.

I wondered , as Vger in the movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture communicated to Spock:  “Is this all I am, Is there nothing more?”

As a Christian, was it all just to give my life to God, give my 10% every week, even though my budget never let that much happen, and just shut my mouth to anything that I disagreed with when it came to doctrine.

I felt that there was more and that what I was doing really made God upset.  He wanted something different from me than what I had learned about the church.

I was done with learning from the church program and God really did guide me down a different path. So I started a self education program, namely what ever I could get my hands on that the church would not even consider reading material.

I love libraries, read a lot of books and had read all the Max Lucado, and all those “lovey dovey” Christian books that make you feel good about yourself and your relationship with Jesus.  But I found that kind of Christianity to be like a bowl of sugary cereal.  Sweet, but not very filling or healthy for me.

One day, a book jumped off the shelf that started the change of my view of what the word “Church” really means.

The book is called “Why Men Hate Going To Church” by David Morrow, and later on,his DVD companion video.  David points out that the church, as it is, wants men to leave their balls outside the door and be passive.  Worship Jesus as a boyfriend , and everything will be alright when He comes back.

WMHGTC is a good read that deals with one thing that is unbalanced in the Kingdom, which is that men are usually aliens within the congregation.  They have no idea who to follow.  Even the pastors that I have friendships with still attempt to do the “church growth” thing that has been over for many years now.  But David Morrow makes some great points and I recommend WMHGTC for those that are still in an IC and want to increase their flock of sheep.

What this book really did for me was question WHAT the church really is, and extent ion of God, or just another non-profit corporation that is about the show and not the tell.

But first God wanted me to know something else, and finally gave me someone who is walking the earth to learn from, to be a teacher in the flesh that would look more like Jesus.

While exploring the web site Church For, that was started by David Morrow, I found a list of books to read and found the man, teacher that I was needing.

His name is Paul Coughlin.  And he wrote a fantastic book called “No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice Harms Men, Women and Children”

This book pointed me to a more rough image of Jesus, one that was not passive or had let the religious set castrate him of his masculinity.   The image most churches has of Jesus make him look like a bearded lady, not someone who would be able to spend days on end out in the desert.

The Jesus that I was introduced to in the pages of NMCNG showed me that , as a “nice” guy, I let too many people walk all over me, and that it was not what God wanted me to be.  Yes, turn the other cheek, but don’t let people take your soul from you.

The Jesus that I started following from Paul Coughlin started with reading Mark.  The more I read Mark, the more I started to understand why Jesus was put to death.  He had a very radical message that God was right here, right now and we are in his Kingdom, just because HE is here!

That was not the Jesus I grew up with.  At first I was unsure if this was true, until I really started to understand Jesus’ Gospel, and not the four accounts. So much of the church teaching is that Jesus saves, but the church tends to ignor Jesus’ message that is accounted in four different views.  Most teach only John and all the ”I am” things.  But what about what He said to do?  Not to many churches take that to heart, unless it can be done secretly, where as Jesus says “We are going public with this.”  The church tends to be in strict conflict with the words of Jesus.

It took time for me to accept the truth of this, and yes, it is truth, that Jesus was really a man,  was full of God and Spirit, and that to be fully human again, I needed to become like him.

And the only way to become like him was to ignore what I though I knew about him, start exploring a different path than the one that I was on and  do what Jesus told his original disciples, “Follow ME!”

What has encouraged me on this path is that there are others up the path before me, waiting on the side for me to catch up to them and learn further from them.

Some people have problems with the image of others ahead of us on a path, but it is the only way I know how to express what I am experiencing.

I am going where others have gone before, away from the IC and into the mystery that is life, liberty and love.



Part II

29 12 2008

Leaving the Institutional Church, “Is this all I am, is there nothing more?” No More Christian Nice Guy, Why Men Hate Going to Church, Life, liberty and love.

And now Part 2:

Were was I?  Leave a place where people care about you, for a wilderness that may be unforgiving, unloving, and …..

Thanks to Paul Coughlin’s NMCNG, I felt free from the doctrines of the church, but I was attempting to give a message that was falling on deaf ears.  I went from being a “nice guy” to, what could be perceived as “a total asshole”.   I was fed up with the traditional worship with an organ, choir, and folk songs.  I wanted loud, joyful and rocking music.  So, as an homage to the group that helped me to come to God back in California, I suggested a new worship community and band to fill a hole and help bring back the younger set to the church.

I  started working with the pastor of the church that I held membership in to make a new worship community that was meeting once a month and was willing to take some risks when it came to doctrine, music and HOW a worship service looked.  Going outside of the Methodist traditions, but only going so far.   We sat around tables, had coffee, all the while listening to a talk that we could ask questions and sing songs in a different venue than the face front and don’t look at anyone else.

This was working , but was it really what God wanted me to do?  What was he wanted me to know?

I continued my own studies with books like “Six Rules All Men Must Break” by Bill Perkins, who gave me permission to not be tied down to “nice guy” rules, “Revolution” by George Barna,  who really made me look again at what the church was not being.

But then I came upon the “heretic” of Christianity,  Brian McLaren.  I read his “The Secret Message of Jesus” and was lost to Christianity forever.   He made me see the truth that most of what the church does, is not in line with Jesus’ teachings. Brian’s writing lead me to a copy of a book called “Pagen Christianity” by Frank Viola.   The copy of the book was not the one that is currently popular and was not re-edited by George Barna.  PC (ha, as if Jesus ever was) taught me what the church never did, about Constantine, his vision and how the church got to be a political power, that it never should have been.

This lead me to the emergent church movement and the author Shane Cliarborne, and the Simple Way.   So much of what I learned in the church, namely don’t question anything we tell you, became a burr in my saddle that needed to be take out.   I started to question everything, including  if Jesus really IS God.   (Personally, I think it’s more important to understand what Jesus was out to do and leave the debate about Jesus as God out of things, Jesus never claimed to be God.)

So I continued reading more and more,  “A New Kind of Christian” Trilogy and “Everything Must Change” by Brain McLaren, Jesus for President by Shane Clairbone, and Reimagining Church by Frank Viola.

Their work has challenged my thinking and soul.  Making me mad at the IC system.  I was gong down a path of hate with each book I was reading.  Hating the way that Christianity was keeping people “morally correct” instead of living life to the fullest.

More books kept popping up and God kept saying “read them”.  “UnChristian” by David Kinnaman and Gave Lyons, which confirmed what I already knew about the church and “good Christians”, The Present Future” by Reggie McNeal,  who asks questions that the church is too afraid to face and even ask.   “Adventures in Missing The Point” by Brain McLaren and Tony Campolo,  which gave me a way to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

By this time, I would go to church and complain about everything that was wrong, do some talks on how I precived the Trinity, and played music for the group.  But I was not getting feedback, because most of the people had no ear for what I was saying.

During this time, I found internet groups to discuss these things that I was learning.  Many times I kept hearing the same things that I learned in church,so I left these groups to find better ground.  No need to tell what groups I left, because I really don’t want you, dear reader, to have to go through the mess that I went through.

I was starting to feel like I was the only one, besides my wife, in the world who understood what all these authors and other people that were leaving churches to search for something more authentic than the “Sunday Morning” church.

But I started to hang out where good Christians fear to tread.  Namely, MySpace!   I reconnected with a few old friends, those that knew me before I accepted Christ, and started blogging there.  Much of my frustrations came out, and the blog at MySpace is my bitch box, because that audience will understand and agree with me.

As I was hagging at MySpace, I started to re-discover music from the 1980’s, including the cheesy praise songs.   There had been so much lost of the masculine side of humanity in those songs, that I couldn’t sing those anymore. The “Safe for the entire family” stuff that the Christian radio stations claim are so good for you.  Maybe mom and her delicate ears, but the Jesus I was finding the the Bible and really being around me was wanting something a bit more dangerous.

So I started to write my own songs.

I took these to the band that I was leading and we did a few, but the message  was not reaching their hearts.  How do I know?  The group was more worried about getting others in the doors, and not excited about what was being learned.   There was alot of “I’m in a personal relationship with Jesus, but I don’t know how to be personable with you.”

That is where I think my joy was starting to disappear.  “Church” became a chore to do on the weekends.   I started to think about leaving the group, that I had thought I was meant to lead into the world, and just quit for a while.

That has become my reality.

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Part III

2 01 2009 So far you have read what happened to me as I discovered that the church works for some, and not for those who have decided that following Jesus is more important than institutions.

Now what do I do?  I left the IC .  Yes, I decided to not be part of a group that meets all the time at the clubhouse.  And I feel freed from the doctrines, the churchianity Christianity, and …..friendships.

,  I have two good friends who have stuck by my side that are following me outside the walls of the church.  But I do miss some of the people I saw every week.  But God will put me with those that He wants me to be with.  As long as I seek them out.

I have found some communities in the Portland Oregon area that are being IN community by living in the same homes or near each other.  But I’m still not part of any of that kind of group, yet.  What I would love to do, and hope that this is part of what God plans, is to find others who have a lot of credit card debt, and we live together to help pay off each others debts.  Crazy I know, but Jesus was called crazy by his blood kin, too.

Part of this journey has been very hard, having to clear the path just to get to Jesus.  Uncovering that he was very human, never claimed to be God,  and showing me that I was under the illusion of living in the IC.

I have learned to forgive the IC for what it didn’t do for the least of  everyone.  I’ve learned how to forgive myself for believing that God lived only in the church.  And I have felt God’s grace as he has welcomed this prodigal back into his home.

God, MY Father, never left me though all of these things.  He is your Father too.   I don’t understand WHY this type of relationship works for me but it does.   Will it work for you?  That is what this journey I’m on is about.

God has inspired me to write songs that will appeal to a man’s heart.   More about the adventure, surrender, and freedom that comes from living in God’s world, and not one of your making.  I’ve come to understand that God lives in you, and that your sin is no longer a concern for him.  I’ve come to understand that  I could be wrong about everything, but know that what ever I do, where ever I go, I am to be a light to all I meet.

Guys, I had a hard time accepting that I needed to surrender to God.  That is something that most guys don’t want to do.  But I’m here to say that it is very good to do.  Yes, you will slip from time to time, but God is there to say,”How’s that working out for you?”.

Others have been here and have boldly gone before us.

Will you follow Jesus and me on this journey?

I found this path a bit difficult without another to guide me, only God got me though this.   I would like to help you too.


One response

3 04 2010
Abuse Is More Than Just Hitting « DANCES WITH KLINGONS Blog

[…] Following Where Others Have Gone Before […]

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