I must admit that these fifteen years since 2008 have been the most prosperous of our 50 years of married life, perhaps the most influential, as well as the most intriguing of my journey!
2008 is remembered by most as the beginning of the Great Recession, not so for us. For me as an individual, it was the beginning of a call to write, just on the cusp of an opportunity to lead as local mayor.
As to the calling to write, a challenge to transparency, recording what I heard in my spirit. It was on this very day, December 28 that I heard, "My Church is in foreclosure."
As I heard that "word" I saw the word "repo" as plain as day before my eyes. I knew exactly the "why" behind that 4 letter word. I am a Realtor, and thus have been involved in properties under foreclosure, both residential and commercial. There are always signs as to what took the person or the corporation down that road.
That would soon become the title of my first book, the last chapter being number 13. Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to keep property and pay debts over time!
It seemed as if the Institutional Church was now on the clock!
I know I am sounding a little strange but this journey with Christ, as I walk out of American Christianity as a devoted Christ-follower has become quite interesting of late. Thus this morning's title, Taking the Lid Off.
I chose the title after struggling with yesterday's strange rant which I entitled, "Now That Christmas Is Over."
As I stated, the chaos that Ezekiel describes seems more than just his thoughts regarding their Babylonian captivity. Rather, a futuristic prophecy of a new temple, new city gates prepared for The Prince that would eventually walk though, only after such apocalyptic events.
Apokaluptein is a Greek word that means "to uncover" or "to reveal". It comes from the words apo, which means "un", and kaluptein, which means "to cover".
In its original context, apocalypse meant to reveal something new, perhaps, Good News! However, today the word "apocalypse" is primarily used to mean to destroy or threaten. I am coming to believe that any "word from the Lord," yes even inspired, "God breathed" once passing through the punitive filters of human religion, too often becomes destructive, at times even justification for war.
This is evident in Gaza as I write, both the justification for Isreal's right to her homeland and Hamas' fanatical massacre on October 7th. Always caught between such madness are innocent families, loving parents who just desire to live and provide for each other. It's saddening!
After writing Repo, the first attempt at capturing my thoughts between the covers of a book, I continued to contemplate the "why" and the "when."
That is what set off this blog, with weekly and more often now daily posts, ever since 2009 when the book was published.
It was only around 2015, that I read an analysis written by sociologists, Ashleigh Hope and Josh Packard's Church Refugees. "They’re called The Dones. After devoting a lifetime to their churches, they’re walking away. Why? Sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope reveal the results of a major study about the exodus from the American church. And what they’ve discovered may surprise you...Church refugees aren’t who you’d expect. Among those scrambling for the exits are the church’s staunchest supporters and leaders. -Leaving the church doesn’t mean abandoning the faith. Some who are done with church report they’ve never felt spiritually stronger." (Googlebooks.com)
I began to feel a little better about my ability to hear from and discern what the Lord might be saying. That stiil didn't make it any easier to own such a calling, especially while serving as mayor of our small town. Let alone, while dependent upon an income by way of a small business, with clients often less inclined toward prophetic language, let alone those well-churched and more orthodox in their beliefs.
That has not stopped my growing desire to write, to transparently express my thoughts. My latest, Finding Your Kingdom Sweet Spot, was I attempt to benefit next generation entrepreneurs, describing the blessing that has come from following a calling, despite great discomfort at times.
So finally, I finished Ezekiel today!
Though his writing has seemed more timely with this read than ever in my 50 years of disciplined study and ironically on December 28th!
Earlier this morning as I read my daily Rohr devotional, again so timely as he and others better defines the role of a prophet, which by the way is a role he declares for everyone, at least the availability as a gift if chosen:
"In carrying out these roles in the apocalyptic process, the prophet strives to stand on solid ground, even while the earth beneath their feet is moving. That is, prophets not only talk about the future but the past. They ground their prophecy in the bedrock spiritual traditions of their people. They recall the ancient stories and covenants between the divine and human beings. They reinterpret ancient teachings and remind people of old promises. Prophets are immersed in tradition even as they talk about how that tradition will need to change to meet new apocalyptic challenges."*
His writing triggered the need to go back and think through the word "given" yesterday. I say given, because each morning it seems a new word comes, when I prayerfully ask why, I hear, "Just Write!".
Perhaps my earlier attempts at publications served only as "school master" preparing me for this day. A day of major clamor in our world, which lends itself to the apocalyptic thoughts that have been passed down to me as an Evangelical, with a hard line, though well debated view that required a catastrophic apolocolypse, then followed by a Millennial Reign.
I seem now to be challenged to look again at what this God who became flesh in Jesus was truly up to. One so contrarian to the wrathful One of which our OT prophets foretold, with the exception of the reference to the "Babe of Bethlehem."
Back to Ezekiel's Temple and the Eastern Gate, through which many believe the Christ will once again pass. I say some, because Ezekiel throws in the thought of a sacrifice necessary for the Prince, thus implying an overseer of the city, though under the sinless One. That too is another story for another day.
Oh, and by the way, if you were tracking with my whole 500 year window of spiritual shifts that moves from the Body of Christ forward (a few blogs back) it seems that Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt Ezekiel's gate, but then walled it up in 1541, and it stayed that way for 500 years.
It was sealed again by Israeli authorities in 2003. Sealed to prevent illegal construction by the Islamic Waqf and because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas!
History supposes that even the earlier sealing by Suleiman may have been purely for defensive reasons, but in Jewish tradition, it is this gate through which the Anointed One (Messiah) will enter Jerusalem. In relation to the Muslim belief Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, it is even suggested that Suleiman the Magnificent sealed off the Golden Gate to prevent a false Messiah or "Antichrist" coming through the entrance.*
The final words of Ezekiel, "Yahweh-shammah" or The Lord Is There.
Again, we know so little and think even less in this foreclosure moment!