Friday, July 27, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Slow my heart rate
Special in my own way
J/ (c) 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
and ENJOY HIM ENJOYING US...
Posted by GoteeMan at 4:43 PM
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Posted by GoteeMan at 6:13 PM
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
This was an interesting self-evaluation tool for me today. I would love to tell you that I am always in the "most effective" box, but THAT WOULD BE A BIG OLE FAT LIE. Sooooo.....
I didn't see a SELF-DECEPTION box either, so I guess I have to settle somewhere into fluctuating between Too Busy/Stressed, Jaded, Bitter/Angry & Most Effective, probably in that order, too.
So, if ya dare, where are you? Aw c'mon....
Posted by GoteeMan at 2:21 PM
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Posted by GoteeMan at 1:11 PM
Thursday, July 05, 2007
click on logo to visit the site...
if you have seen it before, sorry, but it was very interesting to me...
check out the topic, surveys and links... but warning, if you are really into church and defending it as it is today, you will probably not like it, so STOP READING HERE.
Mad Church Disease -
I am glad I no longer suffer from it... and I feel for those who still do.
Wow... this is a very insightful and tremendous project. I related to the logo - 'Beat Up. Burned Out.' At the point where we left church, I really felt that way. We weren't angry, we weren't hurt... well, ok, we were hurt, but we have since been healed and are no longer hurt.
We have been gone for 3 years now. For some time now, when I drive by the church we used to attend, I feel nothing at all - not anger, not hurt, not numb, just NOTHING. It has really become completely foreign and irrelevant to my life, which is surprising, considering I spent most of my 38 years in one church or another, with it being such a huge part of my life. I was in so many different lay-leadership, volunteer positions, outreach and ministry positions, and was also a deacon. I saw the best and the worst at different times, but one thing that broke my heart was when the best was squelched and killed by controlling leadership.
Since leaving, one thing that has changed significantly is my heart... specifically, how my love for Christ, relationships in my life, and my acceptance and love for others (espcially those I don't agree with), has continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Being able to be free to love and not judge has been a tremendous gift. Our children have quickly adapted away from the legalism and 'religious' mindsets, and have developed so much compassion and love for people. Our giving since that time has been directed into the lives of those in need that God reveals to us. Most recently, we also are receiving help from others, as the financial burdens of my wife's illness have been staggering, and the Lord has prompted them to help. What a blessing to be so cared for and prayed for - prayer with action.
Honestly, between the weekly verbal battering over the demand for giving more and more (we were giving 23% at that time, by the way), and the guilt trips over every missed services, we felt that what God had been speaking to us was so very different from the church's message, that the church's message had become irrelevant. Seemed to me that the church system as we knew it was completely 'mad'. Probably not what they meant by Mad Church, but anyway...
From all appearances, it had become little more than a combination between a country club and a reptilian (think of a crocodile) corporate entity - abusive to employees and members alike. The leadership seemed to be filled with building their own legacy and kingdom than God's, and it seemed they saw themselves as accountable and answerable to nobody. Even in the face of questions and several mass-exoduses, it did not change or alter their approach or attitudes, except perhaps to demonstrate even more dictatorial and harsh behavior. The promises that were made 'on behalf of God' were always 'right around the corner', but never arrived, year after year. It wasn't for lack of believing... but hope deferred made the heart sick. It got to where I couldn't even attend a service without being nauseated.
Also, knowing every staff member personally, the consistent message and expectation of staff members and lay leaders was that church ministry was more important than family. Although never spoken in this way, the implication was clear. I have since come to realize that all of the busyness, programs, and such, take away from our time to really get to know each other, to develop deep and lasting 'keeping' relationships, and pull us away from having this development time with friends and family. All the while, our family was going through so much with family illness, and while the church was aware, and we let our needs and situations be known, we were pretty much completely ignored. I believe in prayer, but when it is accompanied by judgement or gossip, rather than assistance, I think it has no real value. Real prayer and real love mean real concern, real reaching out, and often, real action.
Since leaving, we have had much more time available to develop relationships. We now know many more of our neighbors, and have developed true, transparent, deep relationships with some. In these relationships, rather than church, we have found the truest definitions of fellowship, ministry, relationship, depth, having things in common (sharing what we have as each one needs), and in the development and raising of our children. We have been cared for by both those who attend church and those who don't - some believers, some not. God told us at the start that He would meet our needs in 'a most unusual way', and He has. I am more in love with Him now than ever. He has been everything to me during the darkest of days, as well as the brightest, and has never left us.
Don't get me wrong - I am not 'against' church. I am just 'for' relationships of depth and meaning - both with God and with people. Many people we love are still in church. We aren't trying to pull them out. We just know that until we see gatherings that are really centered around caring for one another and loving God, hearing His voice and ministering to people, without the hierarchy, the 'system' and the controlling leadership, we aren't really interested, and it will not be a part of our lives.
Another thing that impressed me about the site link above was the depth and rawness of the survey questions on the website (www.madchurchdisease.com). The questions hit at real issues that exist, which are often ignored or even buried in most church settings. Church should be a place to heal, learn, prepare, and then be launched out into the world, and should be a safe place to open up, sharing needs and hurts - but the truth is, most, nearly all, are NOT safe. Sharing an issue that is one of the 'bad' ones can cost you your reputation, position, job (if you work for the church), relationships... it can be devastating, to be sure.
When we get real, and develop real relationships, they can be life-transforming. They can also carry us through the most difficult times of our lives. I am so thankful for those who have come along beside us and held us together when our circumstances were tearing us completely apart. You guys know who you are....
Posted by GoteeMan at 6:02 PM