That Time I Spoke/Played To 10,000+ People

[Don’t bypass the + after the number…it gives me more validation]

I should have shaved and cut my hair for Urbana!

When I played drums and led communion at Urbana, I thought I was gonna feel this sense of “I’ve made it”. Luckily, I’ve failed enough times to remember that once you exit the stage, it’s back to normal life.

When I stepped off the stage after communion, I was greeted by friends: my bandmates, new IV staff friends, and the program director (Una). They embraced me (that means “hugged really tight”) and honestly didn’t say many words.

I let the emotion die down and said a small prayer of gratefulness and hoping that students renewed and remembered their commitments to Jesus. That was it.

It feels like our Christian culture praises the stage and those on it. We think stage people are the smartest, most holy, put together people. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I sure fooled them! 😉

Honestly, I want to be really smart and articulate. I want the likes on social media and to be trending. But I want it less now than I did in previous years. [I’m not trying to be trendy or “humble” when I say this! I really want the clicks to hopefully make money!). LOL

And then I read passages where Paul tells the people of Corinth that our life of faith is a response to God’s power, not our smarts or emotional footwork.


There’s this concept of wisdom in the bible that somehow comes from God. Wisdom is personified as a “She” in the old testament and it’s calling out to us all the time. And then we hear things like, “If you have ears to hear…”

But here’s the thing (I hate this phrase but it rolls off my tongue more than I want to admit): I’ve had enough experiences in life to teach me that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

The first step in AA is to admit that we’re powerless. Richard Rohr says,

“God seems to have hidden holiness and wholeness in a secret place where only the humble will find it…You will not learn to actively draw upon a Larger Source until your usual resources are depleted and revealed as wanting. In fact, you will not even know there is a Larger Source until your own sources and resources fail you.”

Rohr, Richard. Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (p. 2-3). St. Anthony Messenger Press. Kindle Edition.

Why is the pretense to knowing God or having any inclination of wisdom to live life began with humility? I don’t know! No pun intended. Only that if I pictured myself walking around thinking that I was the smartest and wisest person, I’d be centered on my own self as the sole source.

And there’s the problem! I become the source of wisdom but I’ve made enough mistakes in life to realize I’m not the source.

Jesus spends so much time with the “out-of-luck” down-and-outers, the ones who know they don’t have the resources needed to make due in life.

So I confess as much as I’m aware to God as a way to admit my limitations. I pray in the morning, midday, and evening. Read my bible. Connect with others. Tell Christina when I’ve screwed up (she’s one of my confessors). I go see a therapist. I visit a spiritual director. I struggle to belong to a church community but I show up and sing songs of praise to God, listen to a sermon, and work to be part of communal life.

Praying for wisdom today. Praying to remember that I’m limited in my resources. Praying for deeper wisdom and to see the big picture in all things. Praying for God to help me plant a new church (or more that He plants one and that I can be a part of it). Praying to listen well to others, especially those I hang out with the most (familiarity can sometimes dull curiosity). I just try to pray a lot because it keeps me humble.

Love you all!

Richard Rohr on 12-Step Spirituality

I’ve been following Rohr’s work on 12-step spirituality and was also inspired by Dallas Willard’s high praise of spiritual transformation via 12-step groups.  Why is it intriguing to me?  What is the draw?  I’m sure I’m an addict in a few different ways.  And I’ve been experiencing pain and “bottoming out” in different areas of my life.  I guess I like the framework and hope it offers.  I no longer have to escape pain.  I can be aware of it and learn from it.

Here’s one quote that stood out to me, mainly because I was raised in a highly religious setting and God has been stripping me of my “use” of Him:  “The highly fortified religious ego is perhaps the most resistant to change of any, because “God” is used to maintain its own security and superiority.”  

Here’s the rest of his post.  If you don’t subscribe to his daily meditation, you might consider it.

source:  http://goo.gl/TS5m1C

The Twelve Step program gave meaning and effectiveness to transformation. “Salvation” is not just something you believe, but something you begin to experience. Both Jesus and Paul were change agents. They were hated by their own groups precisely because they were constantly talking about change. The first thing Jesus said when he started preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). The word usually translated as “repent” is the Greek word metanoia; this might be best translated as “turn around your mind” or change. But most of us won’t move toward any new way of thinking or actual change until we’re forced to, which usually means some form of suffering or some disturbance that upsets our habitual path.

Addicts–the majority of us–have an intense resistance to change. We like predictability. That’s one of the reasons addicts find it easier to have a relationship with a process or a substance rather than with people. People are unpredictable. But it feels like this glass of wine or going shopping (or whatever it might be) can change your superficial mood very quickly. Even though the mood shift doesn’t last, it makes you feel like you are in control for a while. You don’t have to change your thinking; you don’t have to change your way of relating to people. Basically, you stop growing at that point. They say you can usually tell when a drug addict began using, because he or she will reflect the emotional maturity of someone at that approximate age.

Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) said it so well: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” The Twelve Step program understands you can’t change people by mere knowledge or willpower, whereas much of organized religion seems to think you can. For example, you don’t become more charitable by saying to yourself, “Be charitable!” You actually become more charitable by noticing when you are not being charitable and “weeping” over it. But none of us want to see our own faults; they usually have to be shoved in our face or we have to fall right into them. At least I do. And even then, many will just deny their mistakes more forcibly. Peter’s three denials come to mind here.

Transformative religion goes against our basic survival instinct which is to live. But darn it, the spiritual teacher is always telling us to die. You can see why the ego resists. The addict puts up a fortified wall against change, against death to self (the false self), and therefore against all real spiritual growth. A.A. understands that it usually takes a bottoming out experience to break that wall against change. The highly fortified religious ego is perhaps the most resistant to change of any, because “God” is used to maintain its own security and superiority.

This is the addictive pattern of thinking that characterizes so much of our religion and politics today. It creates very cognitively rigid, dualistic thinking in service to the ego. This thinking is largely impregnable to either love or logic. Could this be the deepest meaning of sin?

 

The 12 Steps: A Tutor for Spiritual Transformation

The 12 Steps (a revised version posted below for Christian Spiritual Transformation) has been something I’ve been interested in for the last 5 years or so.  Dallas Willard and Richard Rohr (along with others) have used this machination as a means to surrender our lives to King Jesus and be transformed by the power of the Spirit.  My hope and prayer is for constant transformation in my life.  I am addicted to many things, none the least which include popularity and being right.

Source:  http://www.wheretoreach.us/12-steps/

  1. We admit we are limited and mortal; that we need help.
  2. Come to believe that Jesus is the cornerstone of God’s plan of bringing fruitful and lasting life—starting right now—to anyone who will come.
  3. Make a decision to trust everything to the loving direction and power of Jesus, God’s Christ.
  4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of the ways we are selfish or harmful to others or ourselves, as well as the ways we’ve seen God do better, or offer to do better, through us.
  5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the full content of our inventory.   
  6. Become entirely ready to act in the opposite spirit of our wrongs, and be transformed in Christ’s likeness.
  7. Humbly seek to empty ourselves of our selfish agendas as Christ did, and ask God to fill us with his Spirit.
  8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and, when we are wrong, promptly admit it.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the Father through his Son and Spirit, praying as Jesus teaches us to pray, and as the Spirit helps us in our weakness. 
  12. Having found real life and love and hope in Jesus, we try to give grace to all, ready to give an answer for our hope, and try to practice his ways in all our affairs.