Meeting People where they are!

My dear friend and Mentor asked me my thoughts on how the Church is doing meeting us where they are, here is my response:

PB asked me to comment on how the modern church is meeting people where they are at in their lives. I would say the Church is not doing as good of job as he is and has been throughout his life. Reference his Caring Bridge post from 1-26-16.
To many of us “church” people get caught up in being right, having the only way to God, I have heard that there are 30,000 Christian religions, 30,000. I think that stat alone tells us how we are doing on meeting people where there are.
If your church believes in 7 points , and we only have 5, of course we are right and you are wrong, let’s start a church! We as Christians, can’t even agree with each other! Let alone have a meaningful dialog with people of other religions!
We hold onto things to tightly, we have the need to be right.Religion at its best is a support group of like believers gathering strength with each other, trying to understand this crazy world we live in, through Christ’s eyes. Jesus only real judgments of people were calling out the injustices he saw being committed in God’s name by the ruling body of his own religion! I am often struck by how we have turned the church( or have allowed it to continue) into many of the things he railed against. I wonder what he thinks about us, probably shakes his head and says not yet, not quite yet Dad.
I have noticed for years how Pastor B has included everyone, when I went to visit him, I asked him how many people had been to visit him, he said if I had to guess, 150 or so! 150, and that was 2 weeks ago! I was struck by that, but I guess it should not be a surprise, he is a lover. I still remember the day he said that during one of his sermons( he prefers messages), I still remember the look on his face as he said it, priceless!
I think we can see in a life lived as he lived his a model for how we all can live our lives, lose yourself in loving others, putting others ahead of yourself, meeting people where they are. Everything fits or nothing fits.

All work on the world starts with the individual, the only person you can change is you, you need to be the change you want to see in the world. There is No other way to create lasting change.
People are leaving the church in large numbers, the church seems out dated, out of touch with people of today. I think it’s in large part due to its reluctance to move beyond 4th century creeds and dogma, or literal-ism, it doesn’t speak to a modern ear, its jamming a square peg into a round hole.

People don’t need saved, they need to know they belong to something, something larger than themselves.
I was driving to church last Sunday and I passed 3 Amish Buggies, and I was struck with the thought that that’s much of the modern church today. We are stuck in the past, just as they are, most of us “English” look at the Amish as a novelty, outdated, interesting, but outdated. Is that how GOD see’s us?
I believe that God’s presence is a divine unfolding, it’s always a verb , an action word. God’s call to us is to move the story forward, always on the move, just like the universe, always expanding.
I think we hold onto the wrong stuff all the time, I think once the church got around to the 4 century and the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the “state” religion, things changed. Christianity was much more inclusive before that, had room for people at the edges of the faith.
We lost the Love and Forgiveness part of the equation, I think that’s Christianity boiled down to its core, is radical Love and radical Forgiveness. I think that’s most of what Jesus says.
I think we need to get back to our core, which is very inclusive, and we need to jettison the baggage many of us bring to our Religions! ITS NOT YOUR COUNTRY CLUB, YOU DON’T GET TO PICK THE MEMBERS!

God does, my mentor as says “Everything is going God’s way? The interesting thing is that God lets the children run the circus!
From a Pod Cast I saw with Pastor Rob Bell: “We were raised in a culture and a time where the primary energies were spent looking for differences….if we don’t start using our energies looking for similarities, we are in trouble.”
The Buddhist have this saying , when the hand points to the moon(God), don’t fall in love with the hand(religion).
I think we need to find the moon again in our religion. We need to keep the best of it, and find new ways to reach out to others!
Don’t get caught up in dogma, or being right or wrong, be authentic, follow your path, it probably won’t look like anybody Else’s path, and that OK.
We are all loved children of the ONE GOD, it has to be….
It all has to fit….
It’s a LOVE story, keep it simple.

Doug

Suddenly this God, that I had been trying hard to fathom, was there, right there! – a sermon for Advent 2C

When I hear about Climate Change, I kind of shut down, I think many of us do. What’s one person going to do, its to big, I cant help, its to scary!
But then I start thinking about what i would tell my kids if they said that about voting, I do believe one person can make a difference, I think we are all connected somehow, God is the ground of all being!
We need to be the change we want to see in the world!

pastordawn

jokulsarlon-glacier-lakeAs the world turns expectantly for news from the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, we hope that leaders everywhere can find the courage to commit us all to change our ways. Prophets have been warning us for decades of the dangers of climate change. The figure of John the Baptist looms large during the first half of Advent. This angry misfit shouts and us, convicting us of hastening the end. This sermon from three years ago, asks questions which ring true today: Do we have the courage to join John the Baptist? Do we have the stamina to become a prophet of doom? Our planet may be depending on us! You can listen to the sermon here or read the text below. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but I actually met John the Baptist when I was fifteen years old. She didn’t look much like you’d imagine…

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Do you know what love is, I want you to know.

So I was talking to a friend of mine a week or so ago, and she startled me by asking me to help her LOVE more, to be honest, we were talking about GOD and spiritual things, so it might not be as random as it sounds. I thought for a minute, and said you need to forgive more to love more. You need to start with yourself, it always starts with you- all this spiritual work, always starts with you.
You need to forgive yourself, for being you, for the harm you have caused yourself and others, and then let it go!
I decided to preach about my thoughts on Love Sunday, so I was pondering it all week, I spoke to a friend of mine who is a therapist, his first thought was , tell her to get rid of the anger! So I said isn’t that the flip side of the forgiveness card?
So I started re-reading Anthony De Mello’s “The way to Love”, it’s a awesome little book that I would highly recommend to everyone, to help refresh myself on the differences between Love and Attachment. See many, if not all of us , at least some of the time confuse Love and Attachment, if it has a condition to it, its attachment. That can be a very difficult thing to separate, we are conditioned in our lives to think they are the same thing most of the time, they are not. She didn’t do the laundry the way I like, he didn’t cut the lawn the way I told him to(the secret is ladies, we screw up on purpose, so you don’t ask us to do it again) she knows I like the house cleaned “my way”,  that’s Attachment.
Love has no conditions, to truly forgive and love, especially those who you persecute you, that’s the key, its also the hardest past for many of us. That’s the only way to Truly be free, is to get rid of your attachment to any out come, what ever that is. Let others be free to do as they wish without judgement or thought to outcome on your part. Love them enough to set them free.

 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 From 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 :Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I cant improve on that!
I also get into Revelation 21, where the author gets into the “New Heaven and a New Earth”, I love it, because like all scripture, you can understand it on many levels. Of course, I think he is talking about a new conscience, a new understand of God, of course God doesn’t change its our understanding of HIM\HER that changes. A great read on the subject is Eckart Tolle’s book, a New Earth, well worth the time to read .
Take a listen, let me know what you think.

 

 

GOD IS DEAD

I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day, outside of a local tattoo parlor, and it read GOD IS DEAD!
I can imagine the car belonging to a cool 20 something with “tats” all over her body thinking she has it all figured out, there is no God , right, how could there be , just look around- don’t you see the mess the world is in?

It’s all just chance, there is no God, there can’t be.
I use to think that way when I was in more pain; I got just enough God to make me miserable, if I believed in him on any certain day , he was mad at me for sure, and the whole world in general.

Just look around the world is in chaos, ISIS beheading westerners, Global Warming, white supremacist and cop’s killing blacks- COPS. Total and utter CHAOS!
Or is it?  Is that just the surface, the general back ground noise that so pervasive in today’s world.

All those issues do deserve our attention, and something needs to be done- we need to LOVE more- that’s right I said LOVE.

A few Sunday’s ago  when I preached, I brought up the poor lost kid that killed those SOULS in that Church in Charleston SC. What’s your take away from that tragedy? The 9 people that lost their lives in that horrible moment, or that most of the families of the victims forgave him, the next day. The few that didn’t knew that they would have to work on it, to get there, that’s Radical Grace!
That’s the face of God showing HERSELF – through LOVE and FORGIVENESS. You don’t have to like the person, you don’t have to invite them to dinner, just forgive them and LOVE them. That’s  the kind of LOVE that comes from GOD, a LOVE most of us don’t understand, it’s a total out pouring of LOVE towards us. Our job is to just clean the receptors off so we can receive the signal from her.
I think we take to small of view of the world, we tend to look at it to close, we don’t see the big picture, most of us including me many days, buy into the background noise, we buy that we are separate, we think others exist to please us, not the other way around. We get so caught up in the petty bull shit in our lives we lose sight that we are from GOD.
GOD is big enough for that kind of relationship, we humans are not!
So we dull the pain in a myriad of way; drugs, drink, sex, endless spending, vacation after vacation. We lose the connection that keeps most of us close to God, it’s a shame SHE is an out pouring of LOVE, but we have to learn to see with new eyes.
When we don’t see God, it comes from our side, God is a constant out pouring of love and light.

I remember going to an island in the Caribbean, I was disappointed “it was just like home”, or so I thought, I was kinda honked off waiting all those years to get “there” and it was the “same” as the States. Then in the midst of feeling sorry for myself (not too sorry, I was on a beach with a rum drink in my hand) I thought instead of looking for the things that were the same, I needed to look for the things that we different- that’s new eyes! It changed the rest of the trip; I started “seeing” the wonder around every corner.
Are you willing to try to find new eyes, a new perspective on the world, a new way to see; EVERYTHING. Or are you just going to follow the herd- seeing “THEMS” everywhere you go. Those Muslims-Jews-Hindu’s, they’re all going to rot in hell- RIGHT! Or is the black’s taking all the jobs us white folks should get, or is it all those immigrants they let into this country.
Thomas Merton said “the God you find says more about you than it does about God.” What does your world look like? What God do you see? That relationship is just like our personal relationships, much of what we see in others, good or bad, is a reflection of ourselves.
Your view of God and the world cannot be larger than your view of yourself.

The way to see yourself is  “THE” limiting factor in all areas of your life. Do you see a miserable world full of conflict and war, It’s there for all to see. Or do you see the joy of a new sunrise, or butterflies playing in your yard, or stare in wonder at the stars?

What you seek you will find, that scripture. Be careful what you go looking for, I have come to realize we do find it much more than we realize!

Is GOD dead, to some people, she was to me for awhile, I had to come back around, work out my issues, find her again. She was there waiting for me, with open arms, smiling a knowing smile.

We all have different journey’s to take, we all have different things we need to grow through. We just need to remember that God is always there waiting for us, like Motel 6, she keeps the light on for us!

PEACE!

“The Chair”

The Chair

“The Chair”

I was watching MLB Quick Pitch this AM and looked into my office and saw this chair of my Mother’s from when she was a kid. As you can see it broken. One of my sons brought it down stairs a few weeks ago, and asked me what to do with it, my first reaction was to trash it, but then I caught myself and said put it in my office, I will try to fix it! This morning I was looking at it looking at the chair and thought, that how most of us live our lives, we hold on to the past, even if it broken?

Many things in life are worth fixing, but we have to watch what we hold onto, most times we would be better served if we left the past in the past. Most of us hold onto the past with a vengeance, most of the BAD, and some of the good, mostly the BAD. Many of you can remember verbatim, some long ago hurt inflicted upon you by some other unconscious soul, LET IT GO! I see most of us hold onto the past, our past, and we think it’s real- HISTORY, but it’s not, it’s subjective at best, but most of us don’t realize that, we think our history is true?

For example, when my parents were alive about 10 years ago, my sisters and I were talking with my Mom and Dad about Christmas’s when we were children. So we were all reminiscing about the days of our childhood, and I was struck by how different our memories were, five of us all in the same house, all remembering things differently. Obviously, we usually remember things from our personal point of view, but the problem is we think that’s “history” or “true”? It’s subjective at best, and can be the source of much pain, at it’s worst.

The past is gone, can you hold onto the good memories, sure, but you hold on to the bad memories as your own peril. I see that much of the pain in this world comes from past slights, miss-spoken words, and the need to right all the time.

Jesus talks about living for today, and seeing with new eyes, the narrow path, all pointers to show us how to live in the here and now, for tomorrow has enough worries of its own!

Jesus calls us to Radical Love and Radical Forgiveness, the kind of Radical Love and Forgiveness that can only come when your operating from your highest best self, that part of you that comes from God.

That radical love and forgiveness that asks nothing in return, that’s when you’re working from your highest best self. I also know it has to starts with you, you must trust the system enough to know you are forgiven and loved yourself. It has to start with you, if you’re not good for yourself, you can’t be good for anyone else, PERIOD! I also know if you can’t let go of the past, it will be very difficult to forgive yourself and others!

The past as you know it only exists that way in your mind, no one else! How you see yourself is the major factor on how you see others and how you see the world. The smallest, shallowest part of that equation is your limiting factor, you cannot be or see any larger than your smallest thought. So sometimes we just need to throw that chair out, and move on with our lives, the past can be wonderful, but it can also be the chains that keep us tied to where we are!

Peace!

Required reading for this post:

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and read them!!

My take on the “wages of sin”

So I have found that it’s much more difficult for me to post when the weather gets nice. Between yard work and baseball and wanting to spend more time outside, it’s been harder to sit down and write a post.
This week I found some inspiration, I was speaking to a friend of mine and she said something like, you know back when you use to sin! I just started grinning, laughing on the inside, when I use to sin, hell I sin every day! It’s that on good days the sins are different than you might think. I have had this thought in the last few months, I have this idea of “soft sins” or the small sins we tend to over look, the big boy sins tend to take care of themselves don’t they, usually if they made the top ten list, you must deal with them, they will force you to, one way or another.
It’s those small buggers we tend to miss; they’re the ones that do the most damage?
You know the ones like being passive aggressive, or with holding love because you are pissed off, or judging yourself or others. Usually the way you treat others is how you feel about yourself on the inside.
So when I use to sin, like today, or every day. I know what my friend meant; we were talking about how I am working with my kids to make sure the first comment out our mouths is a positive one, unlike the usual negative ones we start with! The interesting part is that I now realize that they got that habit from me, I had help, but it starts right here, at the top (lol, its Fathers Day, so I will pretend i am at the top of the heap here at home).
So of course my friend thinks I am better than I really am, we are all works in progress, not works of perfection, but I do try, sometimes I don’t get very far, do I do try to make my life and those around me a better place!
To me sin is missing the mark, like an archer misses the bulls-eye, but we are still on track. God doesn’t keep score, ever! Most of the time I think the bigger problem is that we keep score for ourselves and for others! It’s not your job EVER!
So free yourself, and others, sin is missing the mark- when we choose to move out of God’s grace, God never moves away from us, EVER!
God is always there broadcasting the same message to the world- Grace-Peace-Love- Forgiveness-Joy.
If that’s not what you see at least some of the time, you need to get the corrosion knocked off your receptors. Remember in the beginning, this Jesus movement was called the good news, if it doesn’t feel that way to you; you need to do some internal cleaning!
Peace, love, joy to you.
I have a game of backyard football to get to!

Audio from 6-21-15