Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
"People often ask me what it "looks like" when a person has "found their calling." Those eyes ... it's clearly in the eyes. These are the eyes of Calling. Commitment. Compassion. Determination. Grief. Holy discontent. Passion beyond words. Sacrifice. Surrender. " -- Jim Spivey
Friday, December 08, 2006
-- A brother, age unknown, member of the Church of Christ
"Wow! I thought I was the only one that felt that way. I am truly glad to see there are others that are having this same struggle. It has been hard being alone with these heavy concerns. I am in a very conservative congregation and sometimes feel like I am suffocating. However, I also feel great compassion for and responsibility to the members. I only wonder how long I can continue like this." - Anonymous
"Unlike most of your bloggers, my wife and I made a clean break from the church of Christ some 30 years ago when we discovered that arrogance was not one of the fruits of the Spirit. Having been brought up in a church of Christ home and having attended two "Christian" colleges, I began to see through some of the prejudicial positions. That made me question whether any of it was true. With reference ONLY to the Scriptures, I reexamined one matter after another, and some of our conclusions were distressing. We are living proof that there is life after death." --a 71-year-old Jesus freak
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
"Wow….I wonder if you were looking inside my head when you wrote this. I struggle with this stuff word for word in some cases. I always use this passage (Ephesians 4:2,3) as a reason not to change so that I don’t upset people, but I think it is more of an excuse not to boldly follow Christ and therefore not cut the strings that keep me attached. Now that I read it in context, verse 1 says to live a life worthy of the calling you have received, and I think I am sacrificing that to satisfy verse 2 and 3. It is something I struggle with and I don’t have the answers. For now, like you, I will continue to pray and seek God more and more each day striving to imitate Christ and share His love with others one day at a time. Thanks for your encouraging words. It is nice to know that others feel the same as I do. I think I am going to go spend some time in prayer now just for some good God-Contact." - 35ish youth minister, life-long member of the Church of Christ
"I could resonate to some of those situations, thoughts or ideas, and feelings. You mentioned about (loving) “dialogue”, which is more humane than having a discussion. Dialogue is more of the “heart” without bypassing the mind than just mere discussion, which has the tendency to more rational and usually stays on the “mind level”. Your words are always “of Christ”. That’s really wonderful. Again, religion is not an issue but of faith. I like your words saying that less educated members or people are more devoted to the Divine Mater than some who have a Masters of Divinity. It is ironic sometimes that we can be a “fan” of Christ instead of being or becoming a “follower” of Christ. We can say a lot of things or ideas “about” Christ especially who have gone for further studies but sans the theological studies cannot ignore the “real or actual” experience “of” God. However, there is always a desire that a theology from above could meet with a theology from below. It is my ardent desire, too, that we can see both Christ as God (the Theology from above) and Christ as human who is also God (the theology from below) and so he is fully divine and fully human. Please, never lose that sight and your steadfast love for your Church and be the Church you pray to be, that is, “of Christ”. Let us always abide in the love and care of God." - 40ish Monk friend of mine, from the Philippines, who resides at "Christ in the Desert Monastery", where I spent 3 days last August.
"I'm pretty convinced that legalism is not unique to 'our' movement and seems to be a vulnerability to most who follow Christ. It is much easier-and probably more immediately affirming-to align yourself with a set of rules than put your full weight on Jesus. More than anything else my tendency to find the easy way, 'play the system', and just generally be lazy, lends itself to the least resistant, less thoughtful less faith-full, path of legalism. Your writing and the Spirit has stoked alot within me." - 40ish brother, life long member of the Church of Christ
"I just wanted to take a minute to say that you did a fantastic job of summing up what so many of us are feeling. As someone who is often called upon to write things to express group consensus, I found myself constantly wishing that I'd written what I was reading, and grateful that you'd summed it up so well." -- 25ish brother, life long member of the Church of Christ
Monday, December 04, 2006
1) My essay made him feel judged and unaccepted. And he was fearful it made others that he loves feel judged and unaccepted, too (including our Church of Christ heritage).
2) His response made me feel judged and unaccepted. And I was fearful it would make others that I love feel judged and unaccepted, too (including many who want to stay in the Church of Christ heritage without being bound to certain beliefs unnecessarily).
4) We both want the same things, but couldn't recognize it in each other without connecting relationally, speaking courageously and listening graciously.
5) So...it represents what I want to happen for all of us. We came together, found our common ground in Christ, and then addressed our meanings, motives, differences, and perceptions in an agreed upon safety. We didn't have to "win an argument" or "prove a point". We didn't have to agree upon every thing we dealt with (although we may have both been surprised at how much agreement we found). We told the truth with a healthy expectation that when Christ says, "the truth will set you free," that it may actually do so.
"[I wonder if] because of a bad experience in a church (in your past), some type of baggage, wound, or otherwise, you have developed an agenda to change your now present church, or split it trying. Although I didn’t want to believe it, there is a secret (your words) inner circle, an elite group, that have all been wounded as well, that have taken it upon themselves to either a) make other members conform to their ideas, or b) run them off. Is this letter promoting unity or division? Does it bring generations together or separate them even further? I resent the implication of higher understanding. My grandfather was a gospel preacher for over 60 years. He shared that gospel with thousands of people and converted hundreds to Christ. He worked with several churches over the course of his ministry. I assure you, he did not get along with everybody. He did not agree with everybody. He ministered through tragedies, discord, and church splits. I have never disagreed with the restoration of discipleship, becoming more like Christ, or any of your other teachings. The only thing I have ever questioned is the motives behind the teaching. If it is, in fact, because we want and need a deeper relationship with the Son and the Father, and the Spirit, I am completely sold out to it. However, if the motives behind the teachings stem from a rebellious spirit against the church of the past, I will have to stand up and speak against it. This letter makes me question your motives. And I don’t want to!!!! I want to be more like Christ. I want to show that to my sons. I want to be filled with the Spirit. I have no bad experiences growing up in the church. I have no wounds that I have had to overcome. I fondly remember people who, although they were not perfect, they loved one another and loved other people. They loved me and wanted to see me grow in Spirit and in Truth. I would never defend the past mistakes of the church, but I have no interest in beating up grave stones! But this letter leads me to feel distrusted and not fellowshipped by your “group”, whoever that may be." -- 30ish brother, life-long member of the Church of Christ