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An Untimely Shift!


After some two years of writing, rewriting, a new cover design with a second publisher, my most recent book has finally gone live! You would think I would just chill and work on distribution.


Yet, in these last few months, I have experienced such a rapid shift, not in how I live, for the book truly captures my sweet spot. The shift of which I speak is in how I view American Christianity, the religious preference once so engrained in my spirit.


If you have followed this series, you may have sensed that shift. I have to believe it is Christ at work in me, as I am truly a Christ-follower, though of late, less likely to identify with Christianity given this crazy moment now unfolding in our nation.


I began this post at the end of last evening, a most glorious day, and now picking back up after a phenomenal breakfast conversation with a brother in Christ. Driven by a growing struggle with the timing of this deep shift in my spirit. Come on God, my book just came out, not now for crying out loud!


When I came to Christ as a young teacher at age 25, I would never have anticipated such a moment, for within weeks of my epiphany, I had been recruited to a gathering of believers, not exactly church, but a very hospitable group of solid citizens who wanted to expand their Christian influence in the community. They had launched an interdenominational prayer breakfast.


Many of them had very intriguing marketplace stories, to include my school principal, who knew that I was coming out of a very threatening season in my life and thus my invitation.


Well before college I had struggled with a distain for the odd faith of my childhood. Most of my kin were full-on Pentecostals, those that weren't were simply seen as "in rebellion." The fruit of these spirit-filled folk surely planted seeds in my life, even afforded my witness of an occasional unexpainable miracle. Their faith walk was quite convincing.


However, we soon relocated from my place of birth, where our home had been in walking distance from the church that my great-grandfather had founded. Until then, I had been surrounded by spirit-filled aunts, uncles and cousins.


Then came the new city, with the only affordable rental property being surrounded by streets full of mostly unchurched families and some neat railroad tracks to play on. Though Dad would soon purchase the property, you are most likely already imagining where this could go, if you know this writer. Until that move, I had been a relatively good student though now trying to survive in a neighborhood less conducive to success. Sure I made choices, but hey, I was only nine at the time! Dad nor Mom ever had a clue about those several years of promiscuity!


My early teen years were even more challenging, as I attempted to explain the cottage prayer meetings held at our home and the constant church activity imposed, even in the new upgrade of a neighborhood that Dad soon moved us into as he prospered in his work. Few of my new friends and none of my former were of our religious persuasion.


Unlike my amazing siblings, those whom I hung with were seldom known for their faith, though interestingly enough, five of us would later end up in active ministry. I'll credit that to those Cottage Prayer meetings and the penetrating pentecostal prayers, that often flowed out through our screened, open windows before air conditioning was available!


Once in college, I found a way to escape the church, not to say that all those church folk weren't amazingly kind, I just was less inclined toward that lifestyle.


I was soon introduced to even more choices and that led to numerous bad decisions, some that followed me until age 25! That was when I finally surrendered my life to Christ, though not in a church. The Presence was apparently there all along, awaiting my desire for a fresh start, and in that moment, Grace found me!


Surrounded by evangelicals, I was soon a target. All meant well, to include the English teacher across the hall, who was a devoted Missouri Synod Lutheran. I still remember how awkward it felt when I finally agreed to visit her church for the first time. MSL is about as far as east is from west, relative to how I was raised as a Pentecostal.


Both of us were soon influenced by a Methodist revival, that led to our mutual exposure to a charismatic Presbyterian, who was then asked to speak at an Assembly of God church. We were by then deeply involved in an interdenominational movement, and agreed to attend that church. The rest is history.


I quickly was given opportunity to minister in that small church, perhaps faster than I would now recommend, but for sure I was now full-on into "church." They called it "hungry for God." I guess we both were. My kinfolk had apparently planted seeds, even when I was "in rebellion."


Yet, miraculously, God would also keep

my heart deeply connected to the community, as small as the town was which we had moved into as newly-weds. Perhaps that was providential, opening doors in the community likly denied this first generation, blue-collar kid, if in alarger town. I now realize that this kid who happened upon a Biology Degree, then decided to teach one year to pay off a loan was being seasoned fo this moment. I would stay there for twenty years, fifteen of those in the classroom, cultivating a love for young lives and a deeper understanding of biology, physics and chemistry. I really do have a rational side to me.


Meanwhile, I was serving as a bi-vocational volunteer, assistant pastor and denominational leader. Talking about a multi-tasker, full plate life, one I would not recommend to a newly married couple, nor once children are born. We were blessed with only one child, who is now an amazing elementary principal. The Lord likely knew more would be unfair to our daughter, given our pace. Now, throw in two additional graduate degrees and three career transitions!


I really have been a little overly deliberate about doing what my life calling seemed to require of me, rather than simply doing life and seeing what came my way. Some call folk like me a workaholic! Yet, now so much seems to come my way, with little effort and a deep sense of purpose and blessing. I love my life and hope my family continues to love me!


So why all this intense shift so late in life, with so much invested in the institutional church? That shift first began in 2009 with a Word from the Lord (can you hear how I was raised): "My Church is in foreclosure", thus my first book, Repo, The Church in Foreclosure. That sense accelerated in 2014, as I read Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope's Church Refugees. Those were "weak signals" as my futurist friends would say, as that is now becoming a reality.


God was preparing me for this time as I have coached pastors from multiple denominations, and mentored scores of young leaders, from as young as 20, and as old as 50 plus, Cabin Talks as you have likely heard me refer to them.


I have watched the growing decline, while sensing an overwhelming concern for the "Dones and Nones" who now represent a majority in America. Interesting to me, being so unlike how I was raised, I now have little desire to engage them in the same journey as my past, though I still enjoy church as know it..


Love does different things to different folk. I love people, each a unique piece of God; and, because I love God, I love meeting each new piece of God! Such was the moment a couple weeks back when I met the dear sister pictured above! I think you can see that in my face.


If I seem a little weird as an elder, just read below, perhaps you find that I qualify:

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"The old word for having a foot in each world is ‘weird.’ The original sense of weird involved both fate and destiny. Becoming weird enough to be wise requires that a person learn to accommodate the strange way they are shaped within and aimed at the world.

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"An old idea suggests that those seeking for an elder should look for someone weird enough to be wise. For just as there can be no general wisdom, there are no 'normal’ elders. Normal bespeaks the 'norms’ that society uses to regulate people, whereas an awakened destiny always involves connections to the weird and the warp of life.

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"In Norse mythology, as in Shakespeare, the Fates appear as the Weird Sisters who hold time and the timeless together.

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"Those who would become truly wise must become weird enough to be in touch with timeless things and abnormal enough to follow the guidance of the unseen. Elders are supposed to be weird, not simply 'weirdoes,’ but strange and unusual in meaningful ways.

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"Elders are supposed to be more in touch with the otherworld, but not out of touch with the struggles in this world. Elders have one foot firmly in the ground of survival and another in the realm of great imagination. This double-minded stance serves to help the living community and even helps the species survive.”

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– Michael Meade, “Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul”


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