Sitting here after church on this Father's Day afternoon finishing a blog post begun and stimulated by an early morning read in a book entitled, Being Jesus in Nashville by Jim Palmer, and now even further influenced by my weekly sanctuary experience.
The message even seemed providential as my pastor shared terms like “logic on fire” and “Uber Conquerors” as in Romans 8:37 as well as the necessity of understanding one’s identity if desired outcomes are to be achieved (note graphic above, credits per Atomic Habits by James Clear), which I am now looking forward to reading it as well.
I am currently reading the second of several books written by Palmer, as his life so aligns with mine, except that I, unlike this author, was not asked to endorse William Paul Young's "The Shack" because of the popularity of any one of my books. I jest!
However, like him, I am attempting to capture and unpack my learnings as a Christ-follower, now into my fifth (book that is, in case I begin to sound inebriated as you continue to read) with the fourth available for purchase in August and likely my best. The fifth book, dealing with Practical Spirituality and the upcoming marketplace driven, city reaching transformational movement; my observation and the reason for my prolific reading and writing of late.
You’ll note that I have not used the term Christian as that can mean so many things in our so politically divided, if not schizophrenic culture. That term has been so violated of late that I am not even sure Jesus would fully find himself comfortable.
Less and less do I disclose my affiliation with any one church or religion as often as I used to, and in fact, not at all unless asked; hopefully then only asked “due to the hope that is (sensed) within me,” to paraphrase Peter.
Ironically, that happened quite unexpectedly in Florida recently as I was negotiating a rental car at the airport. The lady behind the counter, whom I later found out was Russian Orthodox, just out of the blue asked if I was a priest, I reluctantly shared that at one time I had been a pastor. Her reply, “Pastor, priest, whatever, Jesus has his agents, and I can recognize them.” That was interesting.
I am more hope filled than I sound, at least in the marketplace!
Not as often, however, in discussions regarding the Institutional Church, as I sense a multi-generational transformation that I believe began years, if not centuries ago. Good folk, though likely not theologians, grew tired of status quo religion. These spiritual risk takers, some were called Pentecostal, others "Holy Rollers" began crying out for a dose of what the disciples experienced fifty days after the resurrection.
Now that I think about it, even millennia ago, as my hometown was originally founded and deeply influenced by a 1400’s era reformation led by Jan Huss, who at that time lived in the Province of Moravia in the Czech Republic. I am sure you have heard of the Moravian settlement of Salem, as in Winston-Salem.
He like me began to reach outside the walls of the church and the Catholic university he represented. Soon marketplace leaders came around him and of necessity built an offsite facility for their gathering having been forbidden by authorities any use of facilities owned by the church.
Bethlehem Chapel was erected by these “kingdom” entrepreneurs, the ruins of which I have personally visited, now partially restored, though only as a tourist attraction. Together they birthed something beautiful. I too have a dream, which some know of! Huss was later burned at the stake! Think about that!
In case you are wondering, I still enjoy the fellowship of the saints with my lovely Missouri Synod Lutheran, later turned Pentecostal, now Evangelical Presbyterian spouse. Also privileged to have a pastor willing to think outside the box, charismatic in both his delivery and his Acts aligned spiritual experience yet grounded beyond many at his young age.
Oh, and part of this writing I plan to use as my preparation for a sermon to be delivered next Sunday at a church founded as a plant from a nearby Moravian congregation. The title: "Going Back for a Spiritual GED".
As I mentioned before that last “rabbit trail” (my newest books have the benefit of professional editors, given you by now sense the need) I am now reading my second book by Jim Palmer, a former mega church pastor turned critic of Christianity, with some of his thinking a little challenging even for me. I hope his journey is not a predictor of my own, though the more I read, the better I understand and identify with his wounding, thus too can respect his healing process and point of view.
In his writing he is boldly transparent about his early childhood crises with an alcoholic mother, his family challenges, and a long term gnawing sense of “personal failure” (his words). Those wounds have led him to what some refer to as religious detox. I get that, having served in four churches, and coached for years within multiple denominations, even with a few institutional gurus!
My hope is that a multi-generational spiritual awakening is now in motion among Christ followers, many with whom this Boomer spends hours monthly, be they Gen Xers, Millennials, Z's, even Alphas, if I count my Grands! What a time to be alive with five generations; six, if I roll in my dad, still with me at 98! He is not “Silent” as many are known for being.
The latest Pew Research findings* indicate a growing distrust for guys like me among Millennials, now outnumbering we Boomers, with Pew staff themselves deciding against further age/generational labels, except for Boomers, given the significant and defining post war baby boom from which they came. I am honored to be an exception to the new Pew Research, as I am constantly asked for Coffee or Cabin time (they know what that means) with younger friends.
Yes, I am extremely grateful for the time I spend with so many individuals and deeply believe that any transformational moment is in fact multi-generational.
Recently, as a group of four of us met in my backyard cabin to unpack what we were observing in the marketplace, and what it means to have the Spirit of Christ within us. A dynamic power resident in each of us to do even greater things than the Christ, given that the Kingdom is truly among us. At that point, one gentleman, a professional engineer in his 50’s declared, "maybe this is the second coming, the bodily return of Christ so often spoken of being the third?” I’ll let you wrestle with that one!
Not sure if I'll even live to see what has for years been held deep in my heart...a city, no, a nation changing phenomenon that eventually brings Christ to bear in the streets of our cities, one for too long now felt scantly among the pews of our thousands of siloed sanctuaries. Many of those facilities by then likely reconfigured for a different use.
That word which I have shared many times, delivered to me on December 28, 2008, "My Church is in Foreclosure" seems most certainly prophetic. I really am trying to stay positive.
Kingdom Entrepreneurs! I love it!