Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The 6 Year Sentences

I find it funny that bible is full of colorful depiction about numbers, like 40 days and nights anf 7 days a week. It also seems that number 6 is one of unfinished business, the number of man in revelations...incomplete I guess. Well I just served two 6 year sentences that are finding some finalization in this second chance...call it rolling the dice.

I did a 6 year stint (93-99) in a church growing from a 'new-born' Christian full of zeal, judgement, rules and did everything to the letter of the law. It turned my life right around living with people, and attending church with people, that wanted something better in life. I was from a poor neighborhood with poor ideals to boot...if I hadn't of went to church at that time I probably would of wasted away or ended up in 'real' jail.

The first 3 years (93-95) were great and I think I broke a record for the amount of times I attended church in one year (something like 280 times). I was living with a Pastor and my brother in those first 3 years and they were awesome. I had some great spiritual experiences and did most of my learning and reading in that time; must of read the bible like 3 times front to back. I was travelling all over Saskatchewan and meeting cool people from all over the place. They were the same as me and I guess it was very communal (in that sense). I guess you could say my introduction to Christ helped me to get a grade 12 and to get some ambition. I startd attending Bible school, that's what I wanted to do, be like the 'great' spiritual leaders I seen on the stages. It was weird but looking back the rules gave me some structure.

The next 3 years (96-99) I attended and graduated from Bible College (BTH) while living with my younger brother and some others in that time. I had matured and maintained the same values for some years but that all changed when I noticed that my friends and I were changing with the times, but others weren't. My brother had been persecuted for having spiked hair, tattoos, and rings, he also played in a rock band (still Christian lyrics). My close friend was having struggles with church authority over his life and the fact he got his girlfriend pregnant (and life after that)...they were being pressured to marry but refused. These 2 people lived with me and were always in some trouble with the church...myself I was the 'golden' boy and had a promising career if I kept my head where it was. I couldn't ignore the plight of 2 'trouble-makers' who I had known and seen on a daily basis. I spoke up and that was literally the end of me also. I noticed we got judged in a lot of ways, most of them unjustified, but I think that's what authority does when it gets self-righteous and you start having some knowledge. We all quit church at about the same time, I guess you just get sick of the whole mess when you have no means of resolution and nowhere to turn.

From 99-2005 (6 years) I traversed the earth a vagabond, in a new world to me where I had lost touch. I played in a band for a while but that fizzled. I started drinking and smoking the New Year's Eve of 1999 I think...of all places I was in the hood...where I started. I hung around with this crowd, that crowd, and whatever crowd was doing something. I attended school anf got a BAdmin degree. I met my wife in this time around 2001 and can't say I picked the wrong person. I was going nowhere fast but that was better than being stagnant. I drank with all of my friends, most of them had left church too, and I continued for 5 years straight (every weekend), went to every bar, and had my share of troubles because of it (well not so much me but the people with me, but I was there too ). I have my share of stories, you pick, about sex, drugs, booze, fights, partying all night, and whatever else comes with this scene. But I learned a lot. Not a year went by, or even a day, that I wasn't learning something that in the previous 6 years I had denied myself. Was I doing the right thing? That's for the eye of the beholder I think...but yeah you could say the church and I had lost sight of one another. But I knew this all would play well for what was next.

Now were here in present day 2006, ironically it was New Year's Eve 2005 when I decided to cash my chips in again and play a new game. I came back to church but those 12 years have helped shape everything I do now. I have a very biblically based outlook on life but I haven't lost that 'human' touch either. I started a group when I came back only because I couldn't stand the same old church I was used too. I started an 'Action' group to help solve 'real' problems for people that suffer when no one does anything. I got back to the basics and read the bible without 'doctrination' in the forefront of my interpretation, I guess I found what I was seeking for and gave it to the 2 'trouble-makers' who embraced it gladly. I found my calling in two ways: biblical teaching (first 6 years) and in the 'human' touch (last 6 years). Let's call this the 7th year for both of them...now I am doing something biblical and giving it back to the people that really need it...'those who are sick need a physician', 'the son of man came to seek and save the lost'.

I just noticed from my reading Jesus was both the 'son of God' and the 'son of man', for some odd reason he never lost or denied either. Jesus was concerned with the human plight and our struggles with every thing under the sun. Jesus never denied his humaness nor his Godness, as evidenced by his teachings that deal with our humanity (how did he know it so well?) and even added the slant of God's 'eyes' on the situation. In the end, we find a God that knows us so well and actually cares about that plight...mostly evidenced by his love for us on that cross. It's something to say 'you want to be like Jesus' but to actually do it...well that's one for the open of heart to see. You have to deal with humanity, help people, and be realistic. Do you have it in you!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Where is the tap water?

I have been reading on this blog site so many different blogs, and each one a little more enlightening than the last. I never knew there was a 'little' Christian community on here, the least of them never read my site, but should they ever I have written something for them.

I noticed they spoke of everything from God's love, pain & suffering, arguments about the faith, and just basic life as a Christian. I enjoy each and every one of them, I like to see what others have to say and sometimes it's just great. That being said, Hi Paul, this is where the heart-warming ability I have been given ends.

I read all these blogs and something struck me, it's a lot of talk (and this is the medium for that), but it seems something is missing. They are like a tap. I see the tap and I know it has a very productive use but what exactly the use is I am not sure (I speak like I never seen a tap before)? That tap was created for use, for some use, and what that is I will find out if I try to use it. I think I have had the tap explained to me by everyone, and some have went out of their way to say how 'beautiful' it is. It's a lot of talk about a tap, but where's the tap water?

Tap water? How is that even a point? Well I can talk about the tap some more, it's a nice and shiny chrome, has a sink underneath it, I can even see my reflection in it's brigthness...how cool is that! But can I wash my hands with it?

It's an abstract thought really. The tap was created for a purpose. To allow tap water to flow so we can wash our hands or do whatever with that water, some even drink it. The tap without the tap water is useless. The tap water cannot flow without a tap. The water comes from a source that I cannot even pin-point, unless I follow the pipes and they go forever if you dare check. This is just a stupid analogy with no meaning! Or is there something we are missing?

I want the tap water! I know shoulda paid my bills...that joke is besides the point. How do I get that water? I put the tap to use. The tap is useless unless put into action then the water I require comes streaming out and I can do so much things with that water. Then I feel the tap has a point but until then it was useless, even if I could see my reflection and do my hair in it.

You are the tap. The water comes from a source (even a source we struggle to fully understand but the words of Christ have helped). There is a need, people want to use the water from the tap. How can that happen if we gladly speak so well about the tap but do nothing in showing them how to use this system. Where your faith is, so also are your works (not words).

Yeah, the unbeliever scoffs at us. Rightly so! We have explained a faith but we do very little to live it in their reality. They see faith they see words, they sneer. I have to agree with them in this, I allow the comments they give me whether good or bad because I did nothing for them anyways...but 'go and be warmed'. They see the tap alright but don't know how to use it! They had the gospel 'preached' to them but I recall something from Christ's ministry...not only did he preach the gospel to the poor but then followed up with action. He spoke words alright but he gave us the tap and tap water at the same time.

Faith without works is dead...doesn't exist. Thus a lot of talk means nothing unless action is taken to 'save' the poor (I should care for the 'rich' but theirs is not this kingdom). What do I mean by action? It's a fairly easy idea. Do something to love your neighbor that helps them out in a real way. If they ask for bread then give them bread. If they ask for water then give them some water. If they are sick then visit them (bring some aspirin). If they lack clothing then buy them some. If they are in prison, go see them, don't forget them. That's action and guess what? It requires you to give of your time and money, ouch! But are we capitalists at heart or Christians at heart? This part of the gospel seems to have gotten lost somewhere in translation.

Am I asking something unreasonable? Does this need to be argued for 'theologistics'? Do we need to divide this rightly so the non-faith people don't get help? Is this something you don't feel within you? It's a call to action not to arguing. If I am lying look around you, even within your own churches, and you will find there is needs everywhere we are missing. How can you call yourself a person of faith if someone asks you for food and you say to them 'I will pray about it' and do nothing? Or is that the old wallet doesn't stretch outside your comfort and convenience? And if I hear enabling or co-dependency again then I will know you find an excuse, not an answer or a solution.

Ouch! How can I say this? What authority do I have? I go by this old saying myself personally, 'Give to Ceasar what is Ceaser's, give to God what is God's'. Now money, and the goods it can afford us, belong to this world anyways. Let's go buy some food for the poor people we know. In turn we give to God what is God's, our following his 2 commandments (Love God with all of you and Love your neighbor as yourself). And I say spend your money and time on doing good, not giving lip-service to the doubters, if you wanna change someone's tune get invloved. Thus your testimony is perfected (full) in your actions. Here is what I did when I realized this.

I formed a group, I called it the 'Action' Group. I met with other people and started to find out what around us was wrong...people left church (let's contact them); Formed a monetary fund for the needs around us (we all gave); decided not to talk/criticize people but get involved in solving their needs; became a support group for everyone involved (the invloved and the helped); found services for people they can use so they can solve their problem (ex: addictions). The group is far from complete, but there is always room for one more. I saw that faith lacked substance, so let's get some substance by getting ourselves personally involved...thus seeing the truth...we really are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are meeting tonight again, only 5 of us this time but those 5 can do more than 1000's talking a good talk. In the end, I support you.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Brave New World: Lost in Translation

I criticize! I judge! I am but a mere mortal with very little knowledge of the big picture. I am stuck in the middle of the 'machine', and that 'machine' doesn't want to budge. The 'machine' singles you out! The 'machine' shows you the door and although it doesn't kick you out it mine as well, it paves a road for you. It's a brave new day. It's a brave new world. 'I am' is in the middle of this too somewhere but that is where this gets tricky. 'I am' is not the 'machine', even the name will tell you that. 'I am' lives and is real while the 'machine' is something I can touch but seems soul-less. There is a seperation here somewhere. It's a brave new person born in a brave new land.

If I miss the point then that's just too bad, the map was marked in advance and not by me. I am interpreting their scribbles and lines and not really getting what I want out of this trip. Their seems like their was a road on this map that was 'less travelled' and so it disappeared. The 'machine' won't let me interpret the map my way, follow the highways and bi-ways only. I am a brave new person though, not them. So what if I cut across some lines and make my own path, cause I can see a path and I want to take it. Then maybe I should, I'll be ostracized by the 'machine' but what's that matter to me. The people who adopt the 'machine' don't even know what they adopt anyways, they believe the map is infallible.

It's a trek alright. Making a path that some other people used to use, seems covered in long grass but I think it's there and the 'machine' tells me not to see it. Still, I see something and that something can't be nothing, can it? The 'machine' was part of me for a long time and doing this new path makes me doubt. I am sure other people have travelled here before and that's comforting, in a historical sense only. The other people around me offer absolutely no comfort whatsoever, they doubt first anyways...must be the 'machine' that puts that there in people.

I am only starting this travel. I am asking others to come along but they can't see a path that doesn't exist to them. I was shown the path one time, by the 'I am' that is part of the 'machine' but isn't. Could I be wrong? All I have to go on is blind faith and believe me it's quite blind right now, even the map from the 'machine' says so. But that experience I had with the 'I am' seems to supercede the 'machine' and even the map. The 'machine' is in my head still, but that is slowly fading with each step I take. Even if I have to cut the grass to find the path I will. I am so determined by my experience that the 'machine' lost its hold on me.

The 'machine' says it cared but on closer inspection is that even possible? I broke some of it's rules and became an outcast to it, the laws it kept made sure I was judged accordingly. It never threw me out but never gave me much hope after that point either. Farewell 'machine', I guess the road 'less travelled' has to be tried out sometime, by someone, brave.

The path will reveal itself slowly in time, I am not the only one who looked on that map and saw what I saw. Others will slowly follow, I am sure. Slow is the right word, I am alone out here in tall grass. It's the same map, the same 'I am', but I think the road they say isn't there is. The Baptist did something similar, cleared a path, I recall such a great story. I will do something similar, the 'machine' missed this path and took others down its paved road instead. I will cut this grass and let others know, the path the 'machine' made wasn't the only one. Were still going out into the same wilderness and this path still leads to the same city. Am I doing anything different? I am just not following that 'machine anymore!