Like A Cat On A Leash…

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cat on a leashBetween the ages of four and five, my family was living in Iceland at the Keflavik Naval base. One afternoon, my dad came back home with a cat that he said was rescued from an abandoned car, and became our family pet. This cat didn’t like me too much, because–for reasons logical to my five-year-old mind at the time–I would always try to walk the cat like a dog. I would tie a belt around her neck and try to go for a walk with the poor thing. Of course, that cat wasn’t having any of it, and would do the passive-resistance thing by laying on her side and not moving while I tried dragging her along, urging to just walk instead of being dragged. It’s a miracle I didn’t inadvertently choke the poor thing to death.

Again, I was five. I didn’t know any better. My parents did punish me when they caught me doing it. Please keep the threats to my life to a minimum, they do get boorish after a while. Anyway…

I bring up this trip down amnesia lane for the purpose of illustrating another bit of truth about my daily wanderings in this post-Evangelical wilderness of mine: my flesh just doesn’t want to cooperate. Since endeavoring to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and not merely a follower (there is a difference; perhaps one day I will finally write about that as well…on the list it goes), and letting the Holy Spirit do His thing with the sanctification process that will be going on until the day I go Home, my flesh isn’t very happy about it.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.– Galatians 5:24-25

The thing about crucifixion as a means of execution is, it’s not the most efficient or even humanitarian way of being put to death. It could take hours, days, even weeks for the condemned person to finally die. In the meantime, it’s a very painful, very horrendous and slowly antagonizing death. The metaphor is very apt, as my flesh is slowly dying, being put to death by the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification on me, and it knows it’s dying. It can feel the death processes very clearly. And it’s not going to go without a fight.

Basically, when my flesh can’t get what it wants, when it feels it’s being dragged along by the Holy Spirit upon the leash that ties it to me, it does what the cat in Iceland did: it tries to make the process as rough as possible by laying down and dragging along. I want to follow the Holy Spirit, but my progress is being hindered by this dead weight not wanting to comply.

But, I seem to be in good company with this struggle. As the same guy who wrote the words in Galatians, also wrote this in Romans:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!– Romans 7:21-25

So, here I am, wanting to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but being bogged down by my flesh more often than not. I despair, but then I remember that the Apostle Paul himself struggled with the same thing. And if one of the greatest followers of Jesus Christ had trouble, what makes me think I’m going to get to the end of this path I follow unscathed?

::END TRANSMISSION::

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AUGUST 16

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let's see who reads this

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1

Tuesday. The further along this post-Evangelical wilderness I traverse in my ongoing daily wrestling with my faith, there are certain things that have come into focus that I had taken for granted previously in my early days as a Christian. For instance, Grace.

 

Grace has become just a codeword for works in a lot of evangelical minds. The point to see here is that we tend to get anxious about the way God is doing things. If he starts getting all overly generous on us, we want to call him off to the side and see if we can’t add a few rules and expectations in there so WE feel better. Michael Spencer, internetmonk.com

 

Grace is messy. Grace is scandalous. If I’m honest with myself, I would rather not have anything to do with grace, because of the simple fact that, as someone who acknowledges being made in God’s image, I tend to be wired for justice. So whenever I see someone receiving grace, instead of the justice they deserve (some might use the word “karma” instead)…well, it bothers me, to understate things.

Which is why there’s always a constant reminder of how much grace I’ve been shown throughout my four decades here on this planet. About how I’m a great sinner who fortunately serves a Great Saviour.

It’s not enough to say that I’ve been saved by grace. I have to be willing and able to constantly show grace. And in that aspect, I am a great failure. I suppose I will be until the day I’m gone from this world.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Article: POST EVANGELICAL BLUES

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post evangelical blues

For the past couple of years now, I’ve been identifying myself as a post-evangelical when it comes to matters of my faith. Completely philosophical in nature, really. I’ve adopted the term after discovering and chewing on the various articles on the iMonk site, where I first stumbled upon the word “post-evangelical”. It counts as one word when it’s hyphenated, right?

Anyway, it should come as no surprise that I’ve come across more than a few questions about this. And sadly, even more knee-jerk leaps of conclusions, which have lead to more than my share of having to explain myself and justify my existence. People are more gracious when I tell them I’m a metalhead. But not by much, there.

So, I thought I would take this time to write a bit on why I’ve come to call myself this, muse a bit on whee my faith has led me since coming out of the closet as a Christian in 1992, and maybe answer some of the questions and concerns I’ve come across in conversations about his. More for my own benefit than anything.

To begin, I thought I would get the negatives out of the way—i.e., what labeling myself “post-evangelical” does not mean. And we’ll start off with the most important point I’d like to make:

  • It does not mean that my faith in Who Jesus is has changed.

If you forget everything else that I’ve written here (and I wouldn’t blame you a bit), please remember this one: Jesus has been, and always will be, my Lord and Saviour. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Word made flesh, God incarnate, and the only way sinful, degenerate humans can ever be reconciled—through faith and grace alone—to God. Are we clear? I don’t want anyone thinking I’m being obscure about this. Which leads me to this next one…

  • It does not mean that I don’t think sharing the Gospel or being involved in some form of ministry or outreach is important.

Despite what it sounds like, “post-evangelical” doesn’t mean discarding evangelism (all will be explained soon enough, I promise). As Christians, we have a very serious mandate to share the Gospel, faithfully and boldly, with love and compassion. And with me, also with a bit of a twisted sense of humor. Either in an official outreach capacity, or as a part of our seemingly mundane existence, sharing the Gospel is non-negotiable.

Those were the two main important points I wanted to make, to get out of the way. But, just to have all of the important bases covered…

  • It does not mean that my views on the Bible have wavered.

The Bible is the inspired Word of God, “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), and my love for this ancient tome is unwavering.

Well, now that we have those out of the way, let’s get to the whole point of this little writing exorcise of mine: why I refer to myself (among other things) as a “post-evangelical”. And it’s pretty simple:

I grew disillusioned with Evangelical Christianity. Well, the shiny Western version of Evangelical Christianity.

I got tired of the spectacle. I got tired of the superficiality of trying to fit in, yet not quite getting it. I got tired of being emotionally manipulated with flash and style with hardly any substance whatsoever to feed upon.

I grew weary of sermons that seemed more like motivational seminars. The pep rally concerts that passed as “worship songs”. The insider language, the outer trappings, the constant playing of a Christian game.

In short, the desire to follow Jesus superseded the superficial posturing that I was doing in order to please other people. It hasn’t been easy, and I suspect that I shall be wrestling with my faith until the Lord Jesus calls me home finally. But, God as certainly blessed me while I wander in this post-Evangelical wilderness. He has been showing me truly what it means to be given life more abundantly, so much more than anything I could ever buy in a church bookstore.

I write this, not so much to make you understand who I am, but more to make sense of things myself. All I know is, when I say “I love Jesus”, I want it to be genuine, and not just a slogan to keep up appearances. Cheers, my wonderful freaks.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Sunday A’La Carte – August 10, 2014

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stary night

It’s Sunday night, there’s the fifth season of Angel on the bigger monitor as background noise (probably my favorite season of the series that I considered to be better than the show it spun off from), and my shoes and pants are off for the day. Sorry about that mental picture, there. Shall we dish up this week’s A’La Carte?

First, from the People In L. A. Are A Special Kind Of Crazy files, there’s this piece here I found interesting. Amusing as well. Way to perpetuate the whole “self-absorbed L. A. socialite” stereotype, there.

save the twinkee

From the Death Is The Only Happy Ending (de)Composition Book: “Friday mourning. Death and decay permeate the land, the sky gloomy and overcast, the angry Day Star obscured by the grey mist covering the sky like a humid funeral shroud. The zombies shuffle to work, mindless consumers rotting away, slaves to their nature with the delusion of freedom. Horrible, horrible freedom.” Not a morning person, in case you were wondering.

flirting with death

So, I keep hearing that Guardians Of The Galaxy is far better than I have given it credit for. I haven’t seen it, and I wasn’t really planning on seeing it (due to my lack of really not being interested, despite the current track record Marvel movies have been getting)…until I kept reading and hearing everyone else rave about this. Fine. I may have to break my strict “Wait for it to show up at the Second-Run Theater” rule, and watch it at the mainstream cineplex. With the caveat of watching it on one of those Five Dollar Tuesday nights that Marcus does. Maybe. Haven’t decided.

One movie I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I will never see–in the theater, on DVD, or otherwise–will be the third Hobbit movie. I have no vested interest whatsoever. The only reason why I actually saw the other two (the first on DVD, and then the sequel on the big screen) was because of my love for the individual who has since left me an empty shell of the man I once was. She loved them, therefore I watched them, because I loved her. Now there is no obligation for me to care.

I’m only bitter because I still love her, you know. Moving on…

stars are dead, just like your dreams

In my ongoing wanderings as a self-described post-Evangelical (I really need to finish up that piece I’m writing about that sometime, mental note), I found this piece from the Internet Monk rather insightful.

Stuff I wrote and posted this week: I took a look at a Stupid Witnessing Trick, had a High School flashback thanks to a Prius, and I read and reviewed another Doctor Who novel.

And as always, the new Session of NECRO SHOCK RADIO was posted today as well. This one features Abolishment Of Hate, Becoming The Archetype, Chosen Stranger, Demon Hunter, Exorcist, Fit For A King, Forevermore, Frost Like Ashes, Godfear, Hail The Blessed Hour, InnerWish, Justice For All, Living Sacrifice, Martiria, MANDITORY MORTIFICATION, My Heart To Fear, Nahum, Officer Negative, The Ongoing Concept, The Overseer, Prayer, Random Eyes, Sacrificium, Take It Back, Ultimatum, and Wolves At The Gate. Check it out, eh?

Time for beddy-bye. It’s another Monday mourning tomorrow, which means I need my beauty rest. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::