Sunday, December 16, 2012
I was raised in church and now I am miserable. Did the Holy Ghost do this? I don't know.
I was 8 years old when I spoke in tongues. A child who was trying his hardest to do the things he was told to do.
All my friends received the Holy Ghost when they were five six or seven. But I was scared of lying to myself about having the Holy Ghost. So I waited until I could be sure I received it. I waited until it was true.
When I was 8 I spoke in tongues and cried and felt I was saved. They told me I was saved and they showed me a scripture to prove it and I believed it and I was happy.
My pastor, he died at the age of 35. I was 14 when he died. I was still saved then. That pastor, he was funny. Loving. I miss him.
I don't remember crying as hard as I did when I found out he was gone. The most wonderful man I knew at the time.
The man who replaced him, I remember him too.
I never knew a man who cared more about his people.....
He tried his best as I grew older.
As I grew older I became confused.
Because the love the he gave was not the love I was familiar with. He was my pastor and we read books under him about how we were to submit.
We were told about the Bible and our story about the Bible and we were told how any digressions about people leaving the church or criticizing our new pastor were a matter of the spiritual realm. We prayed and we fasted and I grew older.
I grew up in the same church until I was 24.
I saw things...
I saw my best friends kicked off the platform because they fornicated.
I saw friends who I barely knew get kicked off the platform because they went to the movie theater.
I saw one of my favorite Sunday School teachers get removed from teaching because another precious saint saw her in pants in the early morning picking up medicine for her mother.
I saw a woman in my church write countless books about how to be holy and she was celebrated and she broadcasted how important it was to vote republican over the pulpit.
I was confused.
I saw veins of conviction preaching against not losing the truth.
I saw weed secretly smoked during church camping trips.
I saw three gay men leave our church because two of them claimed to be married... and even though they weren't on the platform they were asked to leave.
I saw a pastor from another church preach against me because I was against his Holy Magic Hair Doctrine.
I saw another man write letters to the UPC headquarters about who I was and how wrong I was.
I heard about a pastor of my church from before I was born. He brainwashed my parents. Made them fear God before they knew his love. Made them fear their own love. That pastor also ended up cheating on his wife.
I saw my friend who grew up in church die of an overdose.
I saw a friend kicked out of their house because they smoked weed.
I saw a friend kicked out of church camp because their hair was too long for a dude...
I saw a friend kicked off the platform for listening to the wrong music....
I saw a youth pastor go to jail for being a pedophile to girls in his youth group.
I saw a friend kicked off the platform for cutting her hair.
I saw friends still pray with the Holy Spirit within them even though they were too worldly to be on the platform.
I saw one friend be applauded on the platform for being at the service of the Lord even though she had cover-up on her face (THIS IS MAKE-UP)... and another get kicked off the platform for having too much blush.
I have seen the face of SATAN in many churches and he works on the side of the preachers most of those times....
I saw my friends fall. Fall away from church. And then their own families because their family was still in church. All because they didn't know .... they never learned. Nor did I learn. About the Cross. About Jesus' love. About anything that mattered. Because Christ to them and Christ to me was about making sure we were right on the way to heaven.
We were told it was about being baptized in Jesus name man. We were told about Acts 2:38. We were told about the soon-coming revival. We were told about the necessity about witnessing. We had an annual tall "prophet" preach sermons of fear into our soul only to end up marrying a woman who wore jewelry. We were told about I Corinthians 11. We were told why women were sinning when they wore pants. We were preached upright about not wearing jewelry or make-up. And we all danced and celebrated and were happy we had the truth because by God's grace and mercy ...
We were the Royal Priesthood and we were called and chosen and we were meant to save the world...
And it's maddening. And it will just about kill you if you're not properly equipped for it...
Do we not realize what love is? Love isn't about making sure the ones we love are "right." Love is loving someone as is. And hoping to God they will love us.... and if they reject us... well it should be a heartbreak every time. But no. That's not how we were raised when we were showed THE TRUTH. The Apostolic truth that has me so so confused about life. Because I was raised with a MASTER who they told me was God who they said Died for my sins so I would live as HE wanted me too... and when I or someone else dared fall.... they said my MASTER LOVED ME but that MASTER also said I needed correction and reproof....
And over time, I learned to see it....
I saw my MASTER's alleged Holiness from my teachers. They focused on things so we didn't have to worry other than praying harder and wanting us to thrust our way to salvation. The Old Master made me scared and fearful and He also liked it when I danced at the altar... even though I faked the dancing to make people think I was saved.
The Old Master... this was the God that was made for me in my head. Other pastors in the UPC will deny it and say the Master that I was raised with was not the Master of the Bible.....
But the problem is....
I saw Jesus on cross.... I saw a Jesus who loved me so much he died for me. And I have never seen such a pastor loving me so much that he would die for me other than the one who died when I was 14..
I have seen Jesus and I see Him warning against the very teachers and preachers who raised me. And perhaps raised you...
I saw Him the moment I started to obey and do the thing those teachers told me to do....
I read the Bible. And I say you should read the Bible too. Read the Bible. And read about your Messiah. And YOU SEE FOR THE FIRST TIME ABOUT LOVE AND GRACE AND MERCY and read Romans and you read the Gospels and you tell your pastors "NO! HELL NO! YOU ARE WRONG! YOU DO NOT LOVE ANYONE BUT YOUR FAMILY AND YOURSELF and those who looked like you! Just like the Jews of the Old Testament." You tell them "YOU WILL NEVER KNOW MATTHEW 25 and YOU WILL NEVER KNOW THE GOOD SAMARITAN OR the Book of GALATIANS AND YOU ARE THE WORST OF JUDAIZERS!" ANd they will say you are rebelling and you will say, "I'm so so sorry.....but I found the Lord... and He is Absolute and resolute... and unlike your God, I refuse to make him to an image about what I want him to look like to think I am saved."
but my Lord and my Apostles, they rebelled against their tradition too...
and the Apostles, through my Lord spoke in tongues....
And yet... everyone outside thought they were drunk when they spoke in tongues. But they weren't. They were filled with the Holy Spirit.
And they never understood us who were filled with the Holy Ghost. They tried to constrain us by having revival and Youth Congress and telling us we were proud of our Apostolic Identity.
But I couldn't be fooled again. I had actually read the Bible. And read the only time that God's chosen ones were proud of who they were, and those were the Jews who lived before Christ had come back.
The same Jews who killed Jesus 2,000 years ago because they were so fixed on the truth that they couldn't recognize love right in front of them...
And every night I speak in tongues knowing God hears me.... hoping to God that His spirit will lead me to
To those who don't deserve it. Like the kind kicked off the platform and out of church....
The poor, the widows, the lost and confused... and yeah, I fail at loving as such... and yeah because of my Old MASTER that was contrived from the Old Testament, I feel like I"m never doing enough to get saved....
but then you remember Jesus and Acts 2.... and that Love and the Holy Ghost won't make sense to those in church... they'll never get it.... they'll be lost to themselves in a story about themselves....
And all I want to know is among my salvation, why can't God give me back all those nights lost where I was taught to hate people when they didn't follow the holiness standards we were told to follow.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Introduction: Describing a room and, eventually how we're all going to hell
Serious pretend time here: Let's pretend we all grew up together. Like you, me and about 200 others...Best friends!
And we all grew up in the same room, under the same watchful babysitters and parents. And this room is really big. Huge really. Also: we can't leave the room. Ever.
Naturally, we grow up learning the same things. We go through the same drama and rumors and playtime together. If a fight breaks out, it's our business. If a break-up happens, we tell the break-upper that they needed to move on, and also tell the break-uppee that they deserve better. In this scenario, we are perfect socializers.
In this room, we like some people. We secretly hate others. Yes it gets boring. Often overly dramatic at times. But overall, life is pretty good. Not to mention that the social circle is still relatively small enough that we still feel like everyone knows us and we know everyone, which makes us feel important.
Growing up together, we are all taught the same material. We don't know much beyond what we're collectively taught. Which is really sweet, because we don't have to worry about making choices between living in this room or another room or whether or not our teachers are wrong. If life is good in this room and we have comfort and security, why would we ever wonder about what may lie outside these walls?
The reason why the UPC is leaning towards it's own demise
So let's say that in this hypothetical room, all is good...until one day we have a machine wherein each of us has access to everything that is happening out there... as in outside the Room.
Yeah, skip the symbolism, I'm talking about the internet. Or TV. These were the things that told us that our room was not the only room, and if you so chose, you could venture into seeing what these other rooms were about secretly and without anyone being suspect that we were traitors. We were curious. We weren't looking to rebel. Never would we backslide. We just found the Outside World all of the sudden very "available" for us to evaluate.
And so but like...
With all this new information available to us, we became addicts. We loved feeling like we were at once a part of the outside world we saw on our computer screens, but also feeling the comfort of being within the only room we knew. Best of both worlds really.
Plus the world suddenly moved fast for us. We forgot what boredom was like. We had facebook and YouTube to occupy our lonely, dull thoughts. And if church got boring, well, hey there's instagram! Personally, I wasn't ready for it. Our digital age ate me alive. All the information available at once made it very difficult to not start questioning the very room I was raised in. The room I was standing in. The only thing I knew. Some days I wish I could go back to the innocence of ignorance in that room.
Okay, now back. So all of us, brothers and sisters, gathered in the room. Hovering over computer screens. Reading. And watching. And getting a good show of it all. Plus we had church. And the truth. We were all there once, happy.
Until, boy oh boy... we got busted. The teachers, the preachers, our pastors. They found us out. Err... they didn't find us out. They found the internet out. They found out all of it's horrors and possibilities.... and I think somewhere deep inside, the UPC scratched it's head and took a huge sigh and asked "How are we going to deal with this?"
And by then we'd all gone ADD in the room. All of the entertainment on the screens and all of the fun we were having... Well without realizing it, we had become so bored that we couldn't find the attention span to listen to one half hour sermon in the tabernacle.
So if you're the UPC, what do you do? How do you get our attention? Us, unwilling errant youths ready to slave ourselves to whatever pop culture fad is coming out. How do you get us on the straight and narrow?
Well instead of actually thinking, the UPC became more laughable. Like obscenely laughable. Seriously.
They found a thing called Twitter. And saw the 140 character limits. And saw how this was the latest fad we were into... and they said, "let's get their attention by writing the most shocking things possible in 140 characters!" And they said "Who cares if it's true? If it sounds good, they'll retweet it and that way we can fight the war against the Oneness Truth online instead of in our churches!"
Because, more than talking about truth, the UPC cared about getting our attention.
And so they sign up the most ridiculous preachers at conferences and conventions. People who can scream well and shout verses and get red-faced and just look like all out clowns, because, yeah they're entertaining. That's fun stuff. Crazy preachers never get old. They always will have my attention. It kind of reminds me of a quote: "If we amplify everything we hear nothing."
And a lot of those crazy preachers even say things that they hope will get retweeted. So think about this; they're even focusing part of their God-anointed sermons on little quick one liners. There's a lot of dudes getting famous off this stuff. Seriously. Go check twitter. If your sermon can't be hash tagged your so two thousand-late.
Honestly. Go check twitter. You will witness the bombardment of half-witted preachers trying so hard to write just the write maxim about God or holiness or love in 140 characters or less... hoping to God you'll read their tweet and say "Hey, that's good brother! Have a retweet." (as you secretly hope they follow you).
And so think with me here.. Honestly think... In a culture where the only preachers that matter are the one's who say catchy, shocking things that will grab our attention.... what leaves?
If we're all in a hurry to get each other's attention.... there's no time to think and contemplate and study. We just rumble around like cave men barking orders and getting all hot and bothered, reading the internet for the latest Harry Potter trend that we can preach against.
It's Pop-Preaching and it's all over the place and it's not good. Because say like, you're a preacher and you studied scripture a lot, and you realized things were a little more complicated or that you were even unsure about a correct Godly answer about something. And let's say you try to preach complicated issues or topics or decided to preach about an entire chapter of the Bible instead of one verse... What would happen to you in the UPC?
Nothing. You'd be a youth pastor at best. The UPC no longer has time to showcase boring preachers who care about truth enough to admit that following God isn't easy or quick. The humble preachers who reflect and think and study, who love God enough to know His Word can't ever be simplified into 140 characters will be left to be elders and nothing more. Citations in the ongoing struggle for the UPC to get our attention.
But if you're a preacher who just flies off the cuff and makes stupid jokes about how much he's sweating and taunts the audience for not amening as loud as he'd like you too... well there's a place for you in the UPC. Because it means you'll grab our attention.
And in the process we'll either argue loudly back against what the preacher is saying or we'll agree and retweet him. But all in all we are worse off for it. We become reactionaries or promoters of simple, stupid catchphrases that speak nothing of the Gospel. And that's not good. Because that means we're not doing due diligence to the Word. We won't be studying. We'll be vying for your attention. And wanting someone else to grab our attention at the same time.... and please, I beg you..... just think
The prophets of old were right... The Apostolic Pentecostal truth would be devoured by technology if we gave into it.
And we did. We gave in. And all those "fear of the end times because we can't control our churches anymore" kind of frantic rhetoric was absolutely correct. Except, the world won't be ending now. We, the Oneness Pentecostals will.
Sure there will be you still believing. And me. And your pastor. And a few others....
Because... well, just think....hold on....
Because if all we settle for at conventions and congresses is an attempt to make church shocking and entertaining.... then that means we'd be competing against other forms of shocking and entertaining media. And there's no way we in the church can compete with the kind of shock and entertainment that's offered out there where the world doesn't have to worry about pleasing older pastors in order or preach in front of thousands of people....
So for now, we're in here. In this room. All grown up now. And tired. And confused. But happily amused at everyone keeping us entertained.
But like dude, we're going to die some day. We're dust. Fragile cracker crumbs and we'll just kind of evaporate soon. . That's what we are here on earth. So even if we and David Bernard and everyone else up there in the Mother-Ship stay the course of this Apostolic truth.... by promoting it with loud noises and angry rants!
Ask yourself, where, or where is our survival going to come from past us? Think...
Because when I think about it... I get terribly anxious. Because if the UPC is still around in thirty years... it means we would have compromised ourselves that much more.... and probably just became a reality TV show that advertises Acts 2:38 at the end of every episode... or, we'll get it right. Learn to pay attention to the things that matter and shut our eyes off from the things that distract us. And we'll study again. And it will be hard. And maybe yeah, our denomination will be gone by thirty years from now if we do study...
But at least we stayed true to the Apostolic Truth the Apostles gave us.