Thursday, August 23, 2007

What "Traditional" means to me

becky's comment on my last post caused me to think about describing my idea of the "traditional" know its really hard to get on the same page with people and all of us are coming from our own matrix, the view we have as determined from our upbringing, secular forces, current times and lingo....
to many people the word traditional in the context of church, brings to mind something high and orthodox...Catholic, Episcopal, or Anglican, something with robes and others it means the church of their fathers...which could be Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, with hearty preaching and singing... and more programs than you can shake a stick at.
The newer more casual churches...the mega churches, seeker churches, contemporary churches, and the like, even most house churches..these are what most consider to be outside of be cutting edge...God's new move...and well they may be...He is never still, constantly moving though sometimes it appears it is two steps forward and three steps back...however none of these really fit into my mentality of being truly outside of tradition..though in some aspect they may be, still each of them fits into the basic mold of "how to have church" mostly made up by man.

This factor in its self is what makes them all traditional to me.

No matter how you dress them up each of them still has the basic "one person leading everyone else sitting in front of them listening" the "clergy/laity" mentality...the "greater/lesser" mentality... this works just fine for a while, after all, the disciples sat at Jesus' feet and listened....they followed Him around and watched too...and for a while they did a few little chores for Him and with Him...but one day all that came to an end...He physically left them...then the Church was born and She was glorious! and He was alive in Her, living on the earth again!
...too big, too wild and too wonderful to fit into the traditions of men....She met everywhere She could, every time She could, in every scenario imaginable...with or without someone to stand in front of Her and explain how it was done...She was in close communion with Her Lord and She figured it out as She went along, He stood in front of Her and explained how it should be done....she exploded the bonds of tradition and touched Him in ways never before seen or imagined. It took several hundred years before man could get the harness back on her... but of course over time she calmed down like a good girl and man could once again get in front of Her... in the traditional way....which is where the church stands today in most places you look.....containable and managable...dare I say broken...or at least bridled.

....but let me tell you this...shhh let me whisper it lest "they" hear...and you know who "they" are.... :)

Around the world there are exceptions to this standard...there are small pockets of resistance....saints who meet together in ways other than the "traditional"....ways that might seem strange to other believers...but brothers and sisters are there...seeking Him gloriously as the Church, often by trial and error, but as much as possible, considering our modern matrix, following Him outside of tradition... Let me tell you, She still exists with the same wild and uncontainable exuberance of Acts...She still lives in freedom...and, I hate to break it to you...its almost always outside of tradition....
Needless to say, that is where I want to be...Free to love Him, to follow Him, to explore His realm....I truly hope this is the kind of Christian experience you are living in...the kind with Him in front!

Can you tell that when it comes to church, I'm not into tradition?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jesus Freak

I found this to be very interesting....I learned a few things about my own history...and if we care to look, about the history of the church in this country.

Growing up in the late 70's I have nothing but incredible memories of the Jesus Movement. The Deep South was at least 5, maybe 10 years behind the west coast as far as this movement was concerned so as far as Alabama went I grew up smack dab in the middle of it....and let me tell left an indelible mark. What a time it was...the Jesus Movement swept across my community like a tidal wave...washing everything in its path with freedom, joy, excitement... and all new movements with the imprint of Christ, it was fought against tooth and nail by the religious traditional Christians of the day...don't think it doesn't happen even is simply the way of mankind to resist change and anything we do not understand.
How could long haired, unkempt, psalm singing, blue jean wearing, miracle believing, street evangelizing kids possibly be touched by God, saved by God, cleansed by God or accepted by God?!? How could these ragged, heathen looking, often heathen acting, young people possibly know anything of God or His ways or lead anyone else to Him?? It was beyond the imagination or scope of many...especially those heretofore regarded as pillars in the church.
But see Him, know Him and love Him we did....
well, not me exactly at first....I was knee deep in the traditional world...but I couldn't help but be drawn to this exuberant fresh display of the body of Christ, this living witness of the Holy Spirit, by the reality of what I saw happening,,..not only in the very churches who were fighting this so strongly but i the entire community. Fortunately, a tiny church pastored by my 2nd cousin (once removed for all you Southerns) opened their doors to these masses of young people in our area who were seeking they knew not what...and they found it there in that full gospel, spirit filled little church. Before long the congregation of about 50 was completely over run...the "movement" led by the Holy Spirit Himself took charge and we were caught up in the wave. Famous speakers came to our small "speak", "lead revivals", and generally see what was going on...stirred by these men of God, traditional youth groups ventured out enmasse to find out what was happening locally and at my cousin's tiny church, which seemed to be one of the few places in the immediate area allowing the kinds of things written of in scripture and who was embracing the Jesus people...these youth groups..enmass, got saved upon being in one or two meetings and never went back to their traditional churches...much to their parents dismay and their churches night an entire football team got saved in a random prayer meeting we held weekly...they never went back to their traditional church either....this phenomena was spreading all across town...deacons were furious....Sunday School teachers were frantically teaching the Four Spiritual Laws...teen agers were asked to sit down and shut up or leave they did..and soon after their parents followed...supposedly to keep an eye on the kids....our little church in particular, now counting in the hundreds...and others in the area were filling up...with crazy on fire for God fanatical Jesus Freaks! It was was happening spontaneously all over north Alabama and I was a part of it...gloriously blessed to see hundreds of people both young and not so young come to Christ...almost like magic...all that was needed was to breathe His name and they fell on their faces crying out for local high school (public, mind you, lest you think it was a Christian school) shut down for several days to allow the students time with God after classes had to be stopped for lack of attendance with kids crying and praying in the halls...I know what you're, I'm not all...gangs of youth went out weekly to witness to the homeless, the drug addicts and just kids hanging at the local hangouts...more got saved, addicts were delivered, sick were healed young and old alike...miracles happened was almost more than an average person could absorb...we were caught up in some supernatural tsunami with no explanation and no end in sight.
By now I had completely abandoned my traditional upbringing for the much more exciting and frankly the more realistic of the two worlds...I was living right in the middle of the book of Acts...and needless to the disciples of old, I was, have been and forever more am changed....many were....of course some were along for the the ride..thats how it always is...but many many were marked forever with His mark and still today, 30 years later, follow Him. ..of coursel all good things must come to an end..and the furor of the Jesus Movement eventually died down..though as the linked article mentions..modern mega church may never know how much they owe to those glorious days....that tiny little church of 50 now boasts regular attendance of 4000+ and counting....

As for me, I will never again settle for what was before...I will always matter what the Christian churches of today look like...that there is more...there is something deep and spiritual, real and non surface ...and completely un-containable...There is Christ! ...who if He so choses can sweep in like a flood and overwhelm any society on earth.

Personally I believe that many Christians who lived through that era are the very ones drifting, unsettled and unhappy with church and their spiritual walk as it is today. Yes, there was sin mixed in with the glory...yes there was a lot of misunderstanding...yes the Jesus Freaks took things perhaps too far or interpreted things in a weird new way....and though there was much to be found fault with.... the free love, the God accepts everyone as they are, never judge anyone mentality of the day...Oh wait...maybe that was the part we should be holding onto....
all I know is that I, as well as the Church at large, was forever marked...and some of us are never going back...never forgetting what He did...what He has done...what He is capable of...even in our limited understanding... cause you know...the spirit of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy...what He has done..He will do...
He is the same yesterday,today and forever

Thursday, August 09, 2007

She's Baaack!

Isn't this a fantastic idea for a meme...not that i have time to do it..but I'd love reading this one over at Gina's