1050 men singing their hearts out “I belong to You!” It’s cool outside in the beautiful and plush Waterville Valley two hours north of Boston in the White Mountains, but hot and stuffy in the local Ice area. The men lift their hands to God, amidst the strobe lights, fog machines, and the driving band leading the way.
Month: May 2019
In many ways Leviathan is God’s church, too big for us to contain in any box. It is a rope woven with thousands of strands. Nothing can stand against it; nothing can break it. God’s church is a group of believers gathered in a hidden room, praising the Father and sharing his words, knowing they could die for such an act of communal love. God’s church is an elderly woman sitting in a pew singing the same hymns every week, celebrating her quiet faith with those around her. It is a group of young people wailing on guitars amid flashing lights and catchy videos; a couple traveling to an impoverished town to rebuild the lives of strangers for no other reason than they adore Jesus and want to add to his kingdom; a child drawing a sun and clouds and beneath it the words, “Jesus Loves Me” with the “S” backwards during Sunday school; women gathered around a sister suffering through illness; men patching the home of a neighbor in need; mothers reading Bible stories to their children and fathers showing how faith and strength are intertwined; people praying for their family and friends and government; a man on his deathbed staring at the ceiling and finally understanding he needs Jesus in that moment; people loving each other despite sometimes cosmic differences between them.
I’ve already mentioned on the Holman Report that I’ll be releasing my new and first novel on March 1, 2020! But today I wanted to share the title and cover design with you! The novel is called “Flat Earth” and I’m excited about finishing what has been a life goal of mine since my late 20’s. Next month I’ll give you a short synopsis of the book, and many of you have offered to read early versions for me!
The wind is blowing one way, and has been for several years now. But Jesus’ church will continue on without end. It will outlast even the best church organizations in America. Ultimately I just want to be participating in His church and if that means I won’t get paid, then so be it. I’ll make tents. If it means I am a part of an organization for a while, that’s ok too. I will do my part to ensure that that organization helps advance the church as a whole instead of its own priorities.
Not to be outdone, John, the disciple who Jesus loved, in his golden years vividly describes a vision he has of a world sized worship service focused on Jesus.
“And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
Every creature everywhere. That’s a lot of creatures, not to mention humans.
There are other scenes like these, especially in John’s Revelation, and I’ve heard these passages preached about eloquently and often in my life, but nowhere, and I mean nowhere, do these descriptions ever give the name of an individual church organization as a catalyst for launching this incredible worship scenario. Unless the twenty elders is a representation of Hillsong, then I will gladly admit I’m wrong.
So why is it so easy to feel like you’re a follower of Jesus in the wilderness if you don’t belong to a church organization?
Here’s how the church generally likes to take care of things. Someone from the top makes a statement, then everyone acts on that statement and goes along with the truths of that statement. In this case, it’s Bishop McManus saying, “Treat them with love, but remember, it’s heresy”. (My paraphrase) In Fundamentalism, it was simply, here’s what we believe, get on board and believe this way too. In evangelicalism, there’s just a general feeling that we can be cool enough to get people to come to us and we’ll win them over as a result of our relationship with them.
When Mario got out of prison and went to church, he set two goals for himself. First, he wanted to give away more money than he spent on drugs and alcohol, and second, he wanted to be the opposite of his father. Mario’s dad physically abused all of his kids, and fed Mario alcohol in his bottle as an infant. Being the opposite of his dad wasn’t going to take much, but sometimes the internal conflict that thought brings can produce its own difficulties. Mario struggles with anger. Mario struggles with trust. But he fights those things with service. He serves this Haitian community by giving it money and food.
One of the things bothering me through this whole process was how horrible evangelicals were about defending their faith. Whenever I heard someone make the reason for their faith “because the Bible says it” I wanted to rip my ears out. I would definitely rather hear “because I just do”. Everyone puts their faith in things they can’t see, so I’m okay with one of those things being God. What I’m not okay with any longer is people checking their brain at the door and accusing scientists of hating God as a reason why they are researching and proving their hypotheses.
What we put inside us gives us life. What we see and hear and think is just as important as the food we ingest. Why don’t more people devour God’s word?