Donny's Ramblings

Progress Report: I Still Let Christians Bother Me

14 Comments

It’s 1:30am and I am nowhere close to tired.  Perhaps that’s because I slept in until 1pm after chatting with a friend into the wee hours of the morning.  I don’t remember the last time I was still awake after 4am, as was the case yesterday.

So I’m gonna write a bit, something I haven’t done nearly enough lately.

I still let Christians bother me.  On Sunday night I listened to a message where the speaker said something about how often times the longer a person serves God the further that person gets from the people He wants reached, and that is so damned true, isn’t it?  We get caught up in our iGroups, our church families, our speaking engagements… I remember the honeymoon days, just a bit over two years ago, when I finally encountered and surrendered my life to a living God I’d heard about all my life but had never truly met.  Those days were amazing.  Church politics was something I wanted nothing to do with, and would ask that people leave me out of such discussions.  When I went to this one particular church in town I was ignorant to the fact that almost every aspect of their ministry required the transfer of money, soon to even include paying to “volunteer” one’s service (can you believe that?).  The reason I was ignorant is because I simply went to church to receive from God, and purposely sat in the front so nothing would distract me from that end.  But now I let such things bother me.  Again.  I forget the fact that if God once used a jackass to deliver His message He can surely use money hungry clergymen, in spite of themselves.

I’ve seen myself become more “churchified” and less raw.  And raw, my friends, is where I want to be.  When I called my dad in September of 2006 to tell him I’d given my life to God he told me to remain true to myself as well.  I haven’t done the best job doing so, ’cause if I had I wouldn’t find myself watching my mouth so much, lest I offend the fragile sensibilities of Brother So-and-So.   If you’re one of those who has followed my blog these last few years you may remember the blog post I wrote about Christian Parroting.  Well my friends, the saints still go marching in, speaking an entirely different language than the rest of the world.  And Brother and Sister stick-in-the-butt still think that’s the way things should be.

And I get caught up in all of that.

Instead of ignoring legalism when it raises its head, I argue.  Instead of shutting out problems within the church, I listen.  Instead of spending time with God, I attempt to prove His existence to those who have heard the message and chosen to walk away from it.  And why?  Mostly because I’m argumentative by nature, a battle that wars within me which I’ve not yet won.

Seminary is great.  I’m learning a lot.  My mind is being rewired.  But God please don’t let me become just another typical Christian, wrapped up in my own little bubble world acting nothing like Christ, who is the  MASTER at reaching into the gutter pulling out the stinky and washing them clean with love.  I really need to get my hands dirty again.  May I never become “religious”,  instead simply love and pursue you intently,  letting that love change everything about me.  May I never forget the message that reached me.  May I stop arguing with people who have already been rescued over topics that aren’t reaching those who have not.  May I motivate myself to get off my lazy ass and walk that trail every single day like I used to do, rather than when it “fits my schedule”, because along that trail the two of us have some amazing conversations.  And from that place, all other aspects of life flow smoothly.

I do thank you, my Father, that you’ve placed amazing people into my life (especially BG, who really makes a lot of sense), and I also thank you for those who kicked my butt so much at the beginning of this journey.  May the butt kickings return.  They really did me a lot of good.

14 thoughts on “Progress Report: I Still Let Christians Bother Me

  1. Hey Donny,

    Well said.

    Alan

  2. Hey Donny,

    Well said.

    Alan

  3. I’ve sat in church prayer meetings or bible studies or outreach events–outreach (!)–where I’ve heard a lot of “Christianese” and wondered the same thing you have: Are the people we’re hoping to minister to even understanding us? Or are we just distancing ourselves from them with our speech and actions? I think the latter is often true.

    Also, though, keep in mind that every institution has a vernacular. When I taught first grade, I often had to remind myself to use regular person speech when talking to parents about classroom stuff. I’d forget that they didn’t always understand what TPRI or ARD meant, or that sometimes they weren’t even really clear on what terms like “advanced placement” or “emergent literacy” meant, even though those words were part of my everyday vocabulary.

  4. I’ve sat in church prayer meetings or bible studies or outreach events–outreach (!)–where I’ve heard a lot of “Christianese” and wondered the same thing you have: Are the people we’re hoping to minister to even understanding us? Or are we just distancing ourselves from them with our speech and actions? I think the latter is often true.

    Also, though, keep in mind that every institution has a vernacular. When I taught first grade, I often had to remind myself to use regular person speech when talking to parents about classroom stuff. I’d forget that they didn’t always understand what TPRI or ARD meant, or that sometimes they weren’t even really clear on what terms like “advanced placement” or “emergent literacy” meant, even though those words were part of my everyday vocabulary.

  5. I have never in my years of ministry seen someone change their mind because if an argument. It’s the love of God that changes people, kindness brings men to repentance. 🙂

  6. I have never in my years of ministry seen someone change their mind because if an argument. It’s the love of God that changes people, kindness brings men to repentance. 🙂

  7. … I meant to conclude above with this: I don’t think a lot of Christians who use a lot of Christianese even realize they’re communicating in what could even be considered a completely different language. It’s tough when it’s just become a part of how you’ve learned to communicate in a particular setting. It happens everywhere. Just walk into a music store and listen to the different conversations that go on. You’ll hear terminology you’ve never heard if you’re not a musician.

    Oh, I have to go now…hope any of that made sense ’cause I don’t have time to go back and read it…my angelpie 2 yr. old is calling my name!

  8. … I meant to conclude above with this: I don’t think a lot of Christians who use a lot of Christianese even realize they’re communicating in what could even be considered a completely different language. It’s tough when it’s just become a part of how you’ve learned to communicate in a particular setting. It happens everywhere. Just walk into a music store and listen to the different conversations that go on. You’ll hear terminology you’ve never heard if you’re not a musician.

    Oh, I have to go now…hope any of that made sense ’cause I don’t have time to go back and read it…my angelpie 2 yr. old is calling my name!

  9. P.S. This is Mandy from myspace. I enjoyed reading this blog so I thought I would tell you so. It seems like you and me might be track’in on some level. Bye : )

  10. P.S. This is Mandy from myspace. I enjoyed reading this blog so I thought I would tell you so. It seems like you and me might be track’in on some level. Bye : )

  11. I really love your “prayer” above to allow God to transform you into the Christian man He desires you to be. I’m sure He’s in that process now! I pray He’s doing the same with me – except I want to be the Christian woman….

    In my youth being reared quite legalistically, saying “Praise the Lord” was totally a false repetition that only the AGs or Pentecostals would say – how arrogant and wrong of me! With my blessed freedom in grace, I can shout out “Praise the Lord” with enthusiasm. Hopefully, you can accept me anyway, Donny, as a fellow follower of Jesus.

    I appreciate your honesty. It took me quite a while to realize the world will see we’re Christians by our love for one another – not our criticisms.

  12. I really love your “prayer” above to allow God to transform you into the Christian man He desires you to be. I’m sure He’s in that process now! I pray He’s doing the same with me – except I want to be the Christian woman….

    In my youth being reared quite legalistically, saying “Praise the Lord” was totally a false repetition that only the AGs or Pentecostals would say – how arrogant and wrong of me! With my blessed freedom in grace, I can shout out “Praise the Lord” with enthusiasm. Hopefully, you can accept me anyway, Donny, as a fellow follower of Jesus.

    I appreciate your honesty. It took me quite a while to realize the world will see we’re Christians by our love for one another – not our criticisms.

  13. From an email I received following this post. Writer will remain anonymous:

    Donny I read your latest blog entry and for some reason I felt impelled to share this with you…….. I wrote it a few days ago-

    Dear God,

    Why? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?

    You MUST HAVE KNOWN that the humans You created would fall into sin and that by far the majority of them would burn forever in eternal conscious torment (according to the Bible.)

    I believe You exist. I don’t just believe it, I know it. I have felt You. Not some emotional carried away hallucinatory experience worked up in a church service or moment of deep emotion, but actually felt you, and you feel like electricity. You feel like electrical vibrating power. It makes a person want more and more and go to endless pentecostal services hoping to feel you again, and many times going away feeling frustrated and rejected. Even though the first time I felt You was not at a church service.

    I feel guilty all the time for everything because HOW CAN I be happy if I really believe that so many people are going to Hell and I’m not doing much at all about it, and how can I do something about it, because if I run around telling people Accept Jesus or you will burn forever in Hell how many will listen? Probably only the feeble minded, and the rest will think I’m a lunatic. So then I feel guilty for not seeking you more and more with all my heart so that your Spirit can guide me to the people who WILL listen, and so that I can be used effectively in your Kingdom. And how can I enjoy life when I feel guilty about enjoying life because every day I hear some horrible thing on the news like a tragic plane crash or a child abduction or molestation or rape, or some other cruel hideous horrible crime, or starvation and incredible unbearable suffering all over the world. The big hungry suffering eyes of children and the empty vacant stares of depraved or drug addicted adults. People killing each other every day with cars and guns. We kill our children in the womb constantly every day. Is it better for them to die in the womb than to be born and grow up, and then possibly burn for eternity in conscious torment separated from you? Is abortion ever justified? It is the deliberate destruction of a human life. But making it illegal will not stop it, does that mean it should be legal? Making something illegal never stops it, does that mean nothing should be illegal? (Obviously the answer is NO)

    What should I do? What should I do with the rest of my life?
    The Bible says Jesus died for our sins. But now it seems like believing that isn’t enough if your life doesn’t really change and if you don’t tithe and live a pure moral life, because if you don’t change it supposedly means you never really believed or knew Him. And some people do become Christians and change for a while and then go back, and the Bible says it would be better for them if they’d never become Christians in the first place. And some accept Jesus and don’t change at all. And some accept Jesus and then become insufferable and unbearable to be around. And the ones who truly know him are not obvious but just have a quality about them that looks outward with love and does not judge. But how can a person really know if they know You? Do I really know You? Sometimes you seem like an invisible imaginary friend. I KNOW you are there. But I see that horrible things still happen to Christians. But I can’t stop praying for you to keep my children safe. I pray and pray for protection on my children and grandchildren and all family members and I pray and pray for your will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Do these prayers really help? I think they do.

    The sex thing is so hard for most people because the physical readiness comes years and years before a person is usually ready to get married and make a commitment to one person for the rest of their life, and there seem to be no acceptable outlets, which leaves many people in a torment of guilt all the time, or they just harden their hearts against the guilt or justify themselves in their minds. I feel sorry for people with homosexual attractions because if they believe it’s wrong how can they get rid of it? If they believe it’s wrong, and do it, they live in torment and some commit suicide. The same for any immoral behavior.

    I am so torn sometimes between what the real me really believes and what the Bible teaches. But I really do believe that the Bible is true. So some of the few verses that give me real hope are Mercy triumphs over judgement, and Love covers a multitude of sins.

    I don’t have the answers to the hard questions. So I guess I’ll just live till I die (duhhhhhh!) And I will pray and read the Bible and try to be a good non-judgemental listener and even if I don’t have the right to enjoy my life because there is so much suffering in the world, I am going to try to enjoy it. I want to jump and dance and sing and smell daffodils. I want to play silly games with my grandkids. I want to delight in the humor of my children. They are each so wonderfully unique. I love goofy humor like Napoleon Dynamite and Oh Brother Where Art Thou? (movies) I love well written stories. I like to run in the field. I like to buy Christmas presents. I like to just hang out with family and talk. I like really good coffee. I even like dirt and rocks.

    One Bible verse I like is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean to your own understanding.” Oh, and “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

    God, You are FAR beyond anything science has discovered.

    Love,
    ********

  14. From an email I received following this post. Writer will remain anonymous:

    Donny I read your latest blog entry and for some reason I felt impelled to share this with you…….. I wrote it a few days ago-

    Dear God,

    Why? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?

    You MUST HAVE KNOWN that the humans You created would fall into sin and that by far the majority of them would burn forever in eternal conscious torment (according to the Bible.)

    I believe You exist. I don’t just believe it, I know it. I have felt You. Not some emotional carried away hallucinatory experience worked up in a church service or moment of deep emotion, but actually felt you, and you feel like electricity. You feel like electrical vibrating power. It makes a person want more and more and go to endless pentecostal services hoping to feel you again, and many times going away feeling frustrated and rejected. Even though the first time I felt You was not at a church service.

    I feel guilty all the time for everything because HOW CAN I be happy if I really believe that so many people are going to Hell and I’m not doing much at all about it, and how can I do something about it, because if I run around telling people Accept Jesus or you will burn forever in Hell how many will listen? Probably only the feeble minded, and the rest will think I’m a lunatic. So then I feel guilty for not seeking you more and more with all my heart so that your Spirit can guide me to the people who WILL listen, and so that I can be used effectively in your Kingdom. And how can I enjoy life when I feel guilty about enjoying life because every day I hear some horrible thing on the news like a tragic plane crash or a child abduction or molestation or rape, or some other cruel hideous horrible crime, or starvation and incredible unbearable suffering all over the world. The big hungry suffering eyes of children and the empty vacant stares of depraved or drug addicted adults. People killing each other every day with cars and guns. We kill our children in the womb constantly every day. Is it better for them to die in the womb than to be born and grow up, and then possibly burn for eternity in conscious torment separated from you? Is abortion ever justified? It is the deliberate destruction of a human life. But making it illegal will not stop it, does that mean it should be legal? Making something illegal never stops it, does that mean nothing should be illegal? (Obviously the answer is NO)

    What should I do? What should I do with the rest of my life?
    The Bible says Jesus died for our sins. But now it seems like believing that isn’t enough if your life doesn’t really change and if you don’t tithe and live a pure moral life, because if you don’t change it supposedly means you never really believed or knew Him. And some people do become Christians and change for a while and then go back, and the Bible says it would be better for them if they’d never become Christians in the first place. And some accept Jesus and don’t change at all. And some accept Jesus and then become insufferable and unbearable to be around. And the ones who truly know him are not obvious but just have a quality about them that looks outward with love and does not judge. But how can a person really know if they know You? Do I really know You? Sometimes you seem like an invisible imaginary friend. I KNOW you are there. But I see that horrible things still happen to Christians. But I can’t stop praying for you to keep my children safe. I pray and pray for protection on my children and grandchildren and all family members and I pray and pray for your will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Do these prayers really help? I think they do.

    The sex thing is so hard for most people because the physical readiness comes years and years before a person is usually ready to get married and make a commitment to one person for the rest of their life, and there seem to be no acceptable outlets, which leaves many people in a torment of guilt all the time, or they just harden their hearts against the guilt or justify themselves in their minds. I feel sorry for people with homosexual attractions because if they believe it’s wrong how can they get rid of it? If they believe it’s wrong, and do it, they live in torment and some commit suicide. The same for any immoral behavior.

    I am so torn sometimes between what the real me really believes and what the Bible teaches. But I really do believe that the Bible is true. So some of the few verses that give me real hope are Mercy triumphs over judgement, and Love covers a multitude of sins.

    I don’t have the answers to the hard questions. So I guess I’ll just live till I die (duhhhhhh!) And I will pray and read the Bible and try to be a good non-judgemental listener and even if I don’t have the right to enjoy my life because there is so much suffering in the world, I am going to try to enjoy it. I want to jump and dance and sing and smell daffodils. I want to play silly games with my grandkids. I want to delight in the humor of my children. They are each so wonderfully unique. I love goofy humor like Napoleon Dynamite and Oh Brother Where Art Thou? (movies) I love well written stories. I like to run in the field. I like to buy Christmas presents. I like to just hang out with family and talk. I like really good coffee. I even like dirt and rocks.

    One Bible verse I like is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean to your own understanding.” Oh, and “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

    God, You are FAR beyond anything science has discovered.

    Love,
    ********

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