Head First: I Have Nothing to Say...

Monday, March 13, 2006

I Have Nothing to Say...

Like all human feelings (and their attendant behaviors), I'm sure this is temporary, but I recently find myself more withdrawn than usual. Ordinarily, I might not notice my occasional shift from ENFP to INFP. We all have mood swings, right? However, the pressure (albeit mild) for reasonably fresh content here has brought the circumstance to the fore. For several days, I've thought about what I could bring to this table, and have come up with an uncompromisingly brilliant blank stare. Actually, I do have a topic brewing about the inherent value of individuals, but it keeps going off on wild tangents, so I'll spare you that, for now.

As I sat here, looking at this blank page, the thought occurred to me:

"Pastors must go through this."

When I was the head musician (don't call me a worship leader), I often wearied of the pressure of having to perform every single week. Believe me, there were weeks when I had nothing, but still had to put on the face and appear enthusiastic, for the sake of the congregation (I observed a guy do that just yesterday). It even works sometimes, because face it, that's what a lot of Sunday morning "worship" has become--outward enthusiasm, a little shot of adrenaline to keep you going until the next "worship experience." To come before the congregation--your family--and reveal a heavy heart, just isn't something you do. The idea is to induce people into a positive mental state, so they can be receptive to "the Word."

It's not worship, but that's what we call it.

What about a pastor? What about the guy who has to have something fresh to say every single week? I mean, the guy is supposed to hear from the Lord, but is God on the same weekly schedule? I can seek the Lord for weeks without hearing anything at all. What if I was put in a position of having to speak for God every Sunday? I know, I know...if the bible is God's word, then I can just close my eyes, let it fall open, and put my finger down on any suitable subject. And enthusiasm can be feigned (for the sake of the congregation). But if that's your leadership philosophy--fake it 'til you make it--please don't invite me to your church.

I'm not looking to bitch. Don't take my comments that way. My problems aren't with specific people (that's almost true), but with a system that seems to have a will of its own. However, I perceive that a great many of the difficulties and shortcomings of traditional ecclesiology can be overcome. The problem is that any attempt to overcome them scares the hell out of people who don't (or won't) recognize the deficiencies. The more I think about it, the more I'm drawn to the model of a smaller, more intimate communal fellowship, with a broader, more organic leadership structure, interactive instruction, and outward focus...

...who advertises in the Yellow Pages so I can find them.

39 comments:

ninjanun said...

Wow, good thoughts (again) Dorse!

The part about "putting on the face for the sake of the congregation" was especially apt. What's worse, when I was being subjected to that, I often thought it was MY fault for not being "pumped up" enough beforehand--as if I hadn't prayed/read my bible enough/whatever to have the 'right frame of mind' to worship, and lead others in worship.

God, just like our moods, energy levels, and temperements, does not follow a set schedule, much as we wish She would.

It's funny, at my former church (organization) they were always saying "Structure must bow to Spirit" but suggest maybe doing the sermon first and THEN having the worship time? (gasp!) NO WAY!! When the pastor didn't feel "inspired," did we just have a time of singing and praying? NO WAY!! I soon learned that that phrase was really a justification for when the Pastor or other leadership wanted to do something unexpected with the church budget. hmm.

Kc said...

If I were you I'd offer a post every day that includes one or more of your famous responses in the forum preceded by the comment that provoked it. That's enough fuel to keep the brain fires burning bright. ;-)

I find I must quit you now (if only I knew how!)

JimmyBob said...

Cheer up Dorse! Make yourself laugh. All these emotional things are tricky. Sometimes I can be in a church service and not feel anything but tired. Then, there are times when I'm "In tune" and feel God's presence powerfully. Either way, God is moving and working. "It's just me" is all I can come up with. So, that's why "worship leaders" sometimes prep the people to get into the mood to hear the Word of God. Does it work? Honestly, most of the time it does. If I hear a great set of worship songs, I get "into" it more. If the speaker isn't boring, I get more out of it. If I prepare myself to listen (like get proper rest, diet, and excercise), then I will gain. So, I think it's a bit lazy to just go with whatever my mood is at the time and scold everyone else for "preparing themselves" as a bunch of fakes and phonies. Truth is, I need to stay alert and awake so that I can get with God's program. Left to my own moods I probably wouldn't be a very productice Christian. I'm naturally lazy (not bragging here). The Bible says have nothing to do with lazy Christians. Paul and Silas sure didn't have the right atmosphere for worship while chained in prison. I always believed they must have sang songs in spite of their moods and circumstances. Would any of us have scolded them for being so cheerful in the middle of a dungeon? Would we tell them they are phonies and that they should yeild to their situation and let out their true feelings? Maybe they did all that before they sang. Either way, the Holy Spirit decided that it was most important to report how they worshiped while in chains, rather than how they were true to their feelings and let God console them. I think it's the same with us. Yes, God will console me too and I can tell him all my troubles. But, as for my "public" behavior and conversations, let it be reported that I worshiped God regardless.

I want to add that I don't think any minister should be "false" just to look good. We had a worship leader that was a little too plastic. His body language and tone of voice never seemed genuine (especially to those of us who knew him day to day). He felt that "putting on the face" was the right thing to do. I don't believe in that. I think you can be a real person and rise above your own feelings at the same time. Actually, I don't have a problem with telling the people about my feelings either (as long as I don't dwell there). They will know that I am going to worship in spite of my feelings.

Isn't this the attitude we wish our wives had when it comes to how they feel about being with us or doing the things we suggest?

ninjanun said...

So, I think it's a bit lazy to just go with whatever my mood is at the time and scold everyone else for "preparing themselves" as a bunch of fakes and phonies.

Nobody here was scolding anyone for "preparing themselves." I think you missed the point if you think that's what anyone is doing. I think the point was more sometimes even if you "prepare yourself" in all the ways you mentioned, it still doesn't mean anything. The pressure of a worship leader or pastor is to be "on" and "on fire for God" even if he or she doesn't FEEL very excited/pumped/particularly "spiritual." I think the point is that the congregation is expecting an emotional response from these people, which is just unfair. Even if you do "all the right things," your emotions don't necessarily follow suit. Congregations should just stop having the expectation that the worship leader or pastor is there to make them FEEL a certain way (especially if they don't feel that way themselves at the moment). There is an incredible amount of pressure for pastors and worship leaders to have a certain level of emotional intensity when they're preaching or leading worship which is an unhealthy and self-focused attitude for a congregation to have. God shows up when She wants to, not because we've whipped ourselves into a certain frame of mind or emotional state. I agree, we worship God regardless of how we feel, because She is worthy of our worship. Our response to God is because of who She is, not because of how we feel at the moment. But I also wouldn't expect a worship leader or pastor to display some sort of "excitement" if he or she was having an incredibly shitty week. THAT's when it's appropriate for the members of the congregation to minister to their own, instead of expecting to be 'ministered to.' Many pastors and worship leaders don't have anyone in their own congregations that they can truly confide in, because they're always feeling the pressure to "be an example" and not make any (real) mistakes.

Isn't this the attitude we wish our wives had when it comes to how they feel about being with us or doing the things we suggest?

Wow. Just wow. Would you flip that around and let wives say the same thing about their husbands? I'm not sure I'm getting what you're saying here, but it sounds a bit odd.

jeff said...

I am the guy in charge of music at my church and I quit every week (for varying reasons).

This week, I quit because it was an emotionally "just-ok" time of musicking God, when, in our typical pentecostal/charismatic fashion, we were "exhorted" by "leadership" to "press-in" if we really want to worship. What all that really means is, "If you don't sweat, spit or snot everywhere, you're not doing it right".

I decided a long time ago, that if I'm leading music, I would NEVER cheerlead. I decided that I would sing, despite my emotions or whatever, and allow God to use me, no matter my mood. As a result, a lot of the time, my mood would change when I would focus on God. As a result, i believe people were affected by that kind of 'leadership'.

I just don't like singing for people. It's not a performance. For instance, I rarely do intro's. It pisses certain people off sometimes. They don't think it sounds professional. It reminds me of that scriptre where Jesus told the woman at the well that we should worship God in polish and in professionalism. (That's a far cry from spirit & truth)

I don't know who's right or wrong. All I know is that sermons or worship songs are always going to come off contrived, because we tend to contrive them. I just never noticed Jesus leading people in 3 choruses of "Just As I Am", to get them in the mood, before he would heal them or forgive their sins. (and He preached a lot more than once-a-week, during His 3 years of ministry...)

Its funny how little assistance real truth actually needs...

Zeke said...

I can see looking at church attendance and worship as spiritual disciplines that we do because there is value in doing spiritual disciplines. But if the idea is that we are all there because there is no place we would rather be, or we should at least act that way, then you get... well, what we have. Everybody pretending a lot.

Sometimes I was really glad to be in church. Most times not. But the pressure was always on to act like I wanted to be there and was happy to see everyone. Fake it till you make it.

Is that how it should be? Is it better not to come if you can't be cheerful? Or should you just be honest about how crappy you might feel?

Why is it that I don't have this problem at work? If I feel like crap, I can say "I feel like crap" and move on. We all know being at work has nothing to do with how much I may or may not feel like showing up. I do it because it's good for me to get things done, be productive, and get paid.

Can that be translated to church?

jeff said...

Why is it that I don't have this problem at work? If I feel like crap, I can say "I feel like crap" and move on.

I think we do this at work because we're not pressured there to feel that our attitude at work necessarily reflects on the company. It is possible to have a crappy day and still do the job well.

In church circles, however, many of us are misguided to believe that outward behaviors are indicators of inward devotion. Much like pharisaical outward "sins", we view our emotional deficiencies as spiritual deficiencies. As a result, we are expected to "perform", whether we are on stage or in the parking lot... cheesy grins and feigned peace are our ostrich-head-in-the-sand reactions to the heirarchical pressure to appear faith-filled. After all, if our church parishoners do not look as if they have it all together, it may reflect poorly on the leadership and message of this particular church. God forbid!!!

It all goes back to external pressures to perform, so our churches are not "misrepresented". All-the-while, our church leaders don't give a second thought as to how our hypocrisy reflects on God.

Bottom line?? We've been trained by hypocrites to be hypocrites, so that the world won't realize that our leaders are just as f***ed up as we are.

Too late...

Herobill said...

Great post, Dorsey!

I remember Yaconelli saying once, "Why can't the pastor just come in and say, 'You know what, guys? I just had a big fight with my wife and my sermon wasn't very good today anyway. Could somebody else please take it this morning?"

I go about seventeen steps further, myself. (Because I meet with about seventeen "somebody else"s.)

What about "When you come together each one has..." and "you can all prophesy one by one..." (1Cor.14:26,31; and I believe "prophesy" means "speak out loud")?

[sarcasm]I mean, IMAGINE! As if the Lord might WANT to express himself through MORE than just ONE person!??!!??!![/sarcasm]

(The mind does boggle!) ;)

Good luck with those Yellow Pages!
(Aye, there's the rub!)

JimmyBob said...

First, ninjanun. I think I rattled you a little bit without meaning to. My last comment about our wives (men's point of view) can be switched around, yes. When I was blogging, I addressed Dorsey (who is a man with a wife). So, I must admit I was writing only from a man's point of view. I can sense that gender issues are a tender spot for you. It's not every day that you hear someone use a feminine title for God. Do you do that to draw out debate or just to shock people? I would have no problem worshiping God if He was a She because it doesn't matter. But, Jesus was clearly a man and God is known as the Father, not Mother, so I don't see why it's an issue to refer to God as Him.

What I meant by the last comment in my previous blog was that there are moments we want to spend time with our spouse and they will say "no" because they do not "feel good" or something like that. We try to change their mood. Sometimes it works and sometimes they are just really sick or don't want to be bothered. My thoughts were that sometimes I am tired or am having a bad day and my wife wants my attention and I give it to her in spite of my lack of energy (and I know she does that for me too, I don't want to paint a bad picture of her. She deserves a medal). Why can't we do the same in our relationship with God? And what's wrong with "cheering me on" to connect with God better if it has good results?

I am a minister and have been in full-time ministry for 11 years now. I can honestly say that I have never felt pressured by any congregation to "be on fire" or be someone I'm not. I have felt that pressure only from other ministers. It may be because I have always tried my best to be genuine and lead at the same time. I am also a very enthusiastic person naturally I'll admit. But, if you have felt that pressure from people, I sympathize with your hurt. That happened to our pastor when he first came here. He has endured through that and has come out on top a new person with an even greater focus on God and His desires. Our pastor changed things about himself too so that he could become all things to all men in order to win them (because that is the most important thing).

JimmyBob said...

I am a youth pastor to be specific. Most of my kids would define hypocrite as someone who behaves a certain way and tells others not to. It doesn't usually mean someone who acts cheerful even though they are hurting inside. If you are hurting and deny it, then you are just a liar. But trying to "cheer up" isn't a bad thing. It's better than drowning in self pity. Just like being positive is better than being cynical. Sure, it's good to let your feelings out, but from my own experience, constant cynicism will kill your years and is very hard to get out of. I have old friends right now who are still stuck in a very cynical environment and they can't even see it.

Steve said...

Actor = Hypocrite

Many pastors are tremendous actors!

Steve said...

jimmybob -

I have many old friends who are stuck in a hypocritical environment and are so close they can't even see it.... know what i mean?

And I do not see "cynical" as the antithesis to "positive". Of course I am biased because I am very cynical about the institutional church, but I also consider myself to be very positive and possess the spiritual gift of encouragment. My nature is to believe the best about people - my experience has taught me otherwise on several occasions....so now I am a bit guarded (ok maybe more than a bit). Call it what you want...but I call it wisdom.

But of course, their is lots of life to live, loads of lessons to learn...and I am pretty stupid sometimes... so maybe it just takes me longer than everybody else.

jeff said...

If you are hurting and deny it, then you are just a liar. But trying to "cheer up" isn't a bad thing. It's better than drowning in self pity.

This is the problem with what you're saying jimmybob.

As most Christians do when they debate a point, they see no middle grouond. Either you're 'saved' or 'lost'... either 'carnal' or 'holy'... either 'cheerful' or 'depressed'...

I don't think there's anyone here who thinks wallowing in self-pity is 'better' than trying to cheer up. Even David encouraged himself in the Lord.

No, the issue here is the extreme dichotomy that exists in your point. Just because a person doesn't feel like putting on that hypocritical mask that says "everything's okay, brother!!", doesn't mean they're wallowing in self-pity or depression or anything else. It just means they're tired of the games.

Face it. Church is full of games. And most church people I know, myself included, find it easier to simply believe everything's fine when you say it's fine. Because, if you respond with your real situation, it might require some of my time, or attention or (God forbid) prayers.

No, we wear our happy-face masks because we don't want to be bothered & we don't want to be a bother either.

Is that cynical? Probably. But it's better than gullible isn't it?

Or maybe it all just comes back to what Steve said about wisdom.

I dunno. I DO know there's a lot of fakey stuff in our churches... all designed to cover our weaknesses (ask me how I know)

JimmyBob said...

I must admit that I feel like we're on two different tracks. And since there are more of you so far (although I haven't heard from Dorsey yet; he's probably still drawing a blank about this blog topic, ha, ha), I guess I'll concede the fact that I'm the one who's missing the point. I say that because I don't want to debate if there is a misunderstanding on the point.

I thought I was hearing that anyone who tries to "put on a happy face" is a hypocrite, preparing yourself for worship is useless, and encouraging/"cheering" on others is also useless. I don't believe in those statements in general.

Steve - I have wrestled with your concise definition of hypocrite and see now that it fits. I have always just thought that the main definition was someone who held others to the letter of the Law and yet did not obey those same Laws. But, I see that someone who does this (a Pharisee) would also be the kind to pretend to obey those Laws even though he didn't. Basically, an actor. That said, I still don't think that withholding your feelings is necessarily hypocritical. It may just be wisdom.

Also, I agree that "positive" and "cynical" are not opposites. Actually, "optimistic" would be a more appropriate antithesis. While I think that optimism is generally preferred, there are times when wisdom says to be cynical or "realistic" about a person or situation. Believe me, I've been there.

If all everyone was saying is that we need to bear each other's burdens and quit placing unnecessary expectations on one another (especially those of us in ministry), then I want to gladly AGREE with all of you and join you in your thoughts. There is lots of condemnation and not nearly enough encouragement in the church today.

Dorse, you love Braveheart, right? What I love is how they prepare for battle. They have to be brave and they've got to get their adrenaline flowing. So, they cry out and pump each other up. They holler and stamp and wave their weapons. They even taunt their enemies with a little silliness.

Now, when I think of our corporate gatherings and services, I think of it as a time to get ready for battle. We are facing an enemy that is ruthless and will do everything to keep us from being a fruitbearing Christian. Ephesians makes it clear who we are facing. So, my mindset is one of preparation. And that's the point of view my comments are coming from.

Jeff, you're killing me man! I am so not like the way you interpreted me. I am not a guy that sees no middle ground. When I said that trying to "cheer up" is better than drowning in self pity, I was not trying to imply that there is only "cheer" or "pity." Although I am inclined to believe "cheer" is the best state of mind. "Trying to "cheer up" implies that you must be somewhere in the middle. Just take the sentence at face value and see if it's true. It's as simple as saying, "Trying to thrive is better than dying." True, but we also know that "surviving" is somewhere in the middle. Ultimately I would rather thrive than survive, but I would take either one over dying.

I have no problem with those who express their true feelings. We should grieve with those who grieve, etc. I was only responding this way because I thought I was hearing that everyone who tries to suppress their feelings in public and worship in spite of them is a hypocrite.

BruceD said...

It seems like we have figured out what life is supposed to look like, and strive to make it so. Instead of trusting God to be our "life", we go through the motions... acting out perfection... with the prize going to the winner.

It's like we don't really believe the point of the cross... we feel that, if we have truly been made righteous through the work of redemption, then we must display the evidence. We have to provide the proof. We still haven't figured out that it's not about us at all, but about the Christ, who revealed to all mankind, the nature of God. We are still trying to earn, measure up, and satisfy our Creator, who has already demonstrated to us that He loves us just as we are. Living and breathing in that space will make a huge difference in our lives. It will settle us, and permit us the peace that God intended from the beginning.

But we don't trust God. We only trust ourselves and our desire to strive, struggle, and act our way into His heart.

BruceD said...

Imagine what the world could look like if we loved God as much as we loved ourselves... and if we loved others as much as we loved God?

What if there were no need for silly church games, and we could actually live in the "real"?... a relationship with our Father free of fear, doubt, guilt, and shame? What a confident, and settled, lot we would be!

jeff said...

I have no problem with those who express their true feelings. We should grieve with those who grieve, etc. I was only responding this way because I thought I was hearing that everyone who tries to suppress their feelings in public and worship in spite of them is a hypocrite.


Hey jimmy. I completely understand where you're coming from. And I can take your sentence at face value, and it's okay.

I think the issue for me is what someone said earlier... Why do we feel the need to do that at church, but not at work or at home? Why is there such a need to perform around our Christian brothers & sisters, but nowhere else?

While I do not doubt your intentions in saying "cheer up" or whatever, I question the sociological or at least churchiological implications behind it.

Church people are conditioned to perform. Because ultimately, if we do not appear altogether, it's a poor reflection on the church & its leaders.

Oh sure, it's okay to bear your true feelings once in a while. Just make sure that after you've requested prayer, you're back in the saddle again, so we know our prayers worked.

No, I don't think we're on different pages. I'm just questioning the possible church-conditioning behind your face-value statement.

I can't speak for anyone else. But my point was that it seems that everything we're conditioned by the church to do usually (not always!) has the church's best interests at heart.

In a corporate setting, who most benefits from the "put-on-a-happy-face" mentality? I guarantee you it's not the one with the mask...

Herobill said...

Reading JimmyBob & Jeff's last comments... interesting discussion, which led to this thought:

I "put on" for my children sometimes. They're 6 and 4, and if Dad's worried or upset about something, they don't always need to see it or know it. Sometimes I let them see that as part of their learning process - and to show them I'm human and falliable too.

But I'm their Dad. That's part of my job.

It occurs to me that preachers may often see themselves as the "dad" of their congregations. And thus, perhaps, justify a bit of "happy face"? (I'm trying to see it through their eyes for a moment.)

But one man taking on the "dad-ship" of a whole adult group is PART OF THE PROBLEM!!!!!

Ahem... 'scuse me. :)

I often feel sad for preachers. God never meant for one man to bear such a burden alone.

JimmyBob said...

I love God and others very much, therefore I run the race set before me, just like the apostle Paul says to do. Paul would discipline himselft so that he would "not be disqualified." It's the idea of allowing God to judge me because he knows me better. How do I do that? Not mainly by my feelings and own intellect (Paul didn't trust those either). I allow God to judge me through His Word. Do I please Him with my actions and attitudes. God loves me and I feel very secure in that. I know He doesn't love me for what I do, but I also know that He cas called me to do things for Him. And I don't always want to. Yes, I believe we can dissappoint God. Otherwise, half the Scriptures don't make sense. I mean, what if I decide NOT to take up my cross.

Then, again, I realize that not everyone believes the Bible is God's Word. I think that without the written Word or "revelation" from God, people run wild and live according to their own standards and philosophies.

JimmyBob said...

Jeff - You've got me thinking again. I'm not sure if my "cheer up" comment was the result of church conditioning or personality or a combo of both. I do think that it would be naive to say that there are NO non-Church types who wouldn't also say, "Cheer up!" It was Zeke who said that at work he didn't have a problem expressing his feelings and you commented that it was because doing that at work wasn't a reflection of the company.

Now, this is interesting. I do not see how it benefits church leadership if people put on a happy face when it has to do with individual issues. Just like a company is not affected by individuals expressing personal problems (as long as they don't waste all their time instead of working). Are you saying that Pastors and leaders would rather have the people not express burdens because they don't want to deal with those issues (like spend time in prayer)? If so, you are describing a very cold place and I say they are missing the point of church ministry. People are hurting. I like hearing their problems because I like encouraging them with simple words like "cheer up!" In other words, "Things will get better. God is working, etc."

But, I do that everywhere, not just in church. I was like that with the girl at the register at CVS just the other day. She was tired of all the grumpy customers and she felt OK expressing that to me when I asked her how she was doing. I told her I understand and then said, "Cheer up! Everyone's not like that. It will be OK." She smiled and replied back with kind words, perhaps surprised by a glimpse of optimism and kindness in a world mostly void of those things.

Then, maybe she immediately put on a smiling mask but internally thought I was an insensitive, disingenuous stranger who should have just said "Life stinks, huh?" And left it there.

Anyhow, I quickly see this may be a sociological and not church issue.

Now, I can see how it would "look like" church leaders benefit if people kept quiet about "church" related problems. But, that would also be true of a secular organization or company. I don't think Zeke was saying that he feels comfortable dogging the boss at work or elsewhere and everyone being OK with that. I think he meant just sharing personal issues and moving on. If a companies employees constantly complained about the company and it's policies, it would not have a good reputation in the community. So, I can see why leaders would be tempted to shut their people up to protect their reputations.

For me, I like openness and team ministry. I really like herobill's ideas. As a staff pastor, I am constantly pushing for more feedback from our people. I like empowering people and equiping them for service. I am not afraid of "negative" comments or information. The way I see it, I can use that as a tool to improve our effectiveness. Much like a restaurant attempts to do when they give you a response card and asks you how they're doing.

ninjanun said...

I can sense that gender issues are a tender spot for you. It's not every day that you hear someone use a feminine title for God. Do you do that to draw out debate or just to shock people?

Are those the only two possible motivations that you can come up with as to why I'd use a feminine title for God? Because that says more about you than it does about me.

I would have no problem worshiping God if He was a She because it doesn't matter.

Exactly. God is neither a man nor a woman, although you seem to think it's only appropriate to refer to God as "He." I have no problem with anyone referring to God as "He," and the only person so far on this thread (or any other blog) who seems to have a problem with me referring to God as a "She" is you. No one else brought it up, and I certainly don't use "she" just to shock people or debate the issue. Honestly, I wish you hadn't brought it up, but since you did...

But, Jesus was clearly a man and God is known as the Father, not Mother, so I don't see why it's an issue to refer to God as Him.

Are you telling me this because you honestly thought I didn't know? Surely you know of all the times God (the Father) and God (the Son) self-identify with feminine qualities and metaphors such as motherhood--just as they do for fatherhood. In a patriarchal society, it's only natural that the masculine pronouns and metaphors would be predominant, but that doesn't necessarily set up a precedent for all societies and cultures to follow; especially if those latter societies are (trying to be, anyway) more gender-inclusive. It’s been too long with male-only dominated pronouns, it’s nice to have some balance (and anyway, God is so beyond that). Also, the Greek and Hebrew words for God the Spirit are neutral and feminine (respectively), so it doesn't make sense to refer to the H.S. as "He" (and "it" just seems impolite, I think). But surely being a learned man, you knew this already.

When I was blogging, I addressed Dorsey (who is a man with a wife).
Really? Dorsey's a man? With a wife?! Why didn't he tell me? Oh, wait. He did. I don't know what your relationship with Dorsey is like, but I do know him enough to know he has a wife and kids, among other things. I understand you're a man writing from ONLY a man's point of view, but if you'd just said "spouses" instead of "wives" from the get-go, I'm pretty sure it would've cleared things up a bit (although I still don't understand your further argument about that, but oh well--that's neither here nor there).

One last thing:
Then, again, I realize that not everyone believes the Bible is God's Word. I think that without the written Word or "revelation" from God, people run wild and live according to their own standards and philosophies.

Ahh, the Classic "If you don't believe the Bible is God's (inerrant, infallible) Word, you're just a godless heathen with no morals" Argument. I don't know how many times I've heard this line of reasoning from various pastors, but it just doesn't hold water. In fact, one could argue that even those who claim to believe the bible is God's (inerrant, infallible) Word still live according to their own standards and philosphies; it's just that they're able to pick and choose Bible verses that justify their way of living better than those who don't. Plus, from a clearly anecdotal standpoint, I know plenty of people who don't put a name to their way of living or point to any particular religion or book for the source of their morals, and they have a higher ethical standard and practice in their lives than most Christians who are always trying to claim the moral high ground.

p.s. I am sick and tired of people defending the status quo.

ninjanun said...

p.p.s. I think we should do like over at www.stupidchurchpeople.com, where every time someone quotes a bible verse, we all get to take a drink of the alcoholic beverage of our choice. :)

Jimmybob--I think you could gain a lot of insight into where a lot of us are coming from by checking out the stupid church people website.

jeff said...

I think it all boils down to the fact that everyone who is NOT God is full of sh*t.

In fact I believe God created us that way and She loves us because (or at least in spite of) of it... even youth pastors!

[grin]

JimmyBob said...

ninjanun - you seem like a real nice girl (with passion). I previously looked at all your website links and stuff to check out who I was talking to. I see that you're a musician. That's cool. I would rather be your friend than your enemy.

Just to let you know, I was the youth pastor at Dorsey's church for almost 5 years and we worked together and have a good relationship (I hope still after this blog string). I miss him like crazy. Also, "Jekk", you may know him from previous blogs, was one of my youth. I am very proud of him too with his new music adventures.

Now, I've been around the block long enough to know that when I asked you the question about using "She" for God I would trigger your game. Probably no one else has wanted to play (because they know where you're coming from or maybe don't care). I don't mind playing if it helps me understand better. I guess I just don't understand the "rebellion" and you're probably right, I would benefit at going to the website you suggested. I have a feeling that it's not going to be my cup of tea, however.

Now, I would like to defend and clarify my comments about the Bible. I know you are a "recovering fundamentalist," so you're going to probably dissagree with me anyway. But, here goes...

First, I was responding to bruced (my blog just happened to get posted after jeff and herobill). I was trying to explain that my behaviors and "striving" are based on admonishments from Scripture. I don't think you can really be a true Christian if you don't believe in the Scriptures. That's not saying that people can't have a code of morals of their own and even act better than Christians who do believe in the Scriptures. In fact, according to Romans (go ahead and prepare to drink alcohol), people can do by nature the things required by the Law. I'm just saying that people who do not place their faith in the Jesus of the Scriptures, nor attempt to follow Him, are left to their own ways (good or bad) and are still lost and in rebellion against God.

How can you not understand my illustration about marriage? Do you ever put aside your feelings and moods to meet your husbands needs? I'm sure you do. You don't sound selfish, just ripped at selfish people.

Jeff - I heard a preacher recently talk about growing up in the Assemblies of God. He made this statement I think you'll appreciate. "We couldn't go bowling, we couldn't rollerskate. We couldn't drink, chew or date girls that do. No, the only game we ever played was church."

JimmyBob said...

Dorse - good luck with your blog. I love you man!

ninjanun said...

ninjanun - you seem like a real nice girl.

*sigh* Would you please do me the courtesy of not calling me a "girl" and refer to me as a woman, which is what I am? Your comments, as I tried to point out in my last post (maybe I wasn't direct enough) come across as being patronizing, what with being Captain Obvious with informing me that Jesus was a man and God is referred to as "Father." I really do appreciate that you're trying to understand, and I'm trying to be patient and help you along in that department, but I'd appreciate it if you made more of an effort to not insult my intelligence or talk down to me as if I'm only trying to create debate.

Now, I've been around the block long enough to know that when I asked you the question about using "She" for God I would trigger your game. Probably no one else has wanted to play (because they know where you're coming from or maybe don't care). I don't mind playing if it helps me understand better.

My game? Look, I would rather have you as a friend than an "enemy" too, but I'm trying to get you to see how little things you say are somewhat offensive, and if you truly desire to be "all things to all people" (I'm sure we would interpret that differently, but oh well) you might want to consider understanding why what you say is offensive. Reducing my use of feminine pronouns to describe God to some sort of "game" is insulting.

I guess I just don't understand the "rebellion" and you're probably right, I would benefit at going to the website you suggested. I have a feeling that it's not going to be my cup of tea, however.

I don't see it as "rebellion." The fact that you (and others still in the Matrix of the IC) do says volumes about the general church subculture which I so don't want to have anything to do with anymore. Also, it's important to try to understand things that aren't your "cup of tea." It's the beginning of understanding and compassion. I used to have the same mindset that you seem to have, jimmybob (if I'm understanding you correctly, that is), and I (and maybe dorsey and others--I'm trying not to speak for anyone else here) am trying to get you to consider other viewpoints on their own terms and not come at it from this Only True Christians(tm) Have the Moral High Ground perspective.

I don't think you can really be a true Christian if you don't believe in the Scriptures. That's not saying that people can't have a code of morals of their own and even act better than Christians who do believe in the Scriptures. In fact, according to Romans (go ahead and prepare to drink alcohol), people can do by nature the things required by the Law. I'm just saying that people who do not place their faith in the Jesus of the Scriptures, nor attempt to follow Him, are left to their own ways (good or bad) and are still lost and in rebellion against God.

I would respectfully disagree, although I'd rather not take up anymore of Dorsey's comment space to expand my argument. I think an argument can be made (from scripture) that says almost the exact opposite of what you are saying. Of course, we'd have to define terms like "faith" and "follow Jesus" first. And you can be sure I'll be cherry-picking my own bible verses to make my case, as you have done here. ;) I welcome you to e-mail me about this, if you're interested in hearing another perspective.


Do you ever put aside your feelings and moods to meet your husbands needs? I'm sure you do.

I don't see why I need to "put aside" (whatever that means) my feelings and moods in order to meet my husband's needs, nor why he should "put aside" his feelings and moods to meet mine. The needs can be met regardless of how either of us feels about it at the moment. You give the impression that you think feelings and moods are something we can cast off like a garment. If that is the case (and I may just be misunderstanding what you're saying) it may be that our personalities are fundamentally different in this regard. Perhaps you've heard of the Keirsey temperement sorter, and how some people are "thinkers" while others are "feelers?" I think there's more to it than just that simple dichotomy, nonetheless, asking a "feeler" to "put aside" their feelings is akin to asking them to remove their skin, or asking a "thinker" to stop thinking.

I also think you and a I have a very different understanding of what worship is, but perhaps that's a topic for a different time.

You don't sound selfish, just ripped at selfish people.

And you don't sound like you intend to be offensive, just ignorant as to what offends people who don't share the same perspective you do.

JimmyBob said...

ninjanun - In all sincerity I'm sorry for being offensive, patronizing, insulting, and ignorant toward you.

When I called you a girl it wasn't supposed to be offensive. You called me "Captain Obvious" (which really is very funny). I call most women girls (including my own wife) just because I'm used to using "guys and girls" as terms. I don't know, it seems more affectionate or personable or whatever. It naturally came out because I was trying to let you know I wasn't hostile or a jerk or something. Of course I know you're a woman and I promise not to call you a girl again. Please forgive me.

ninjanun said...

Jimmybob--thanks for your apology; of course I forgive you.

And yes, my use of "Captain Obvious" was meant to be humorous (I did worry that it might offend you). It's a reference from Star Wars...eh, long story. :)

After reading your explanation about "girl," I can see how you didn't mean to be offensive. However, just for the sake of exchanging ideas, I would like to point out that the opposite of boy (male child) is girl (female child). The opposite of man (adult male) is woman (adult female). And the opposite of guy (young adult male) is...girl (female child) again.

There's not really a good feminine equivalent (in English) for "guy." The term "girl" still has that more childish connotation, OR has that "working girl" connotation. Unless put in proper context, it can be patronizing to call a woman a girl. I wish there was a good equivalent for "guy," but as of yet, no one I know has come up with an equitable solution. "Gal" seems a little archaic. Oh well.
Wait, what was the topic of Dorsey's post about? ;)

JimmyBob said...

ninjanun - I emailed you so I won't take any more of Dorsey's post (interestingly, we haven't heard from him yet). But, I wanted everyone to know that we have possibly started a friendship. You are talking to a huge Star Wars fan (and no, I don't try to spiritualize it). I just have figures and ships all over my office and I get together weekly with some of my students to play the Star Wars roleplaying game. Now you can call me a geek. Later!

jeff said...

"We couldn't go bowling, we couldn't rollerskate. We couldn't drink, chew or date girls that do. No, the only game we ever played was church."

Yeah, that's some of what I'm talking about jb. Unfortunately, the rules to the church games just keep changing to suit whatever that week's buzzword is.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I want something real. And most of what I get in church is not...

Steve said...

JB and All: Maybe this has been mentioned, but the word "hypocrite" in the Scriptures is actually derived from the word that meant actor or more specifically "one that puts on a mask" which is what actors of that day did in performing for the crowd.

In a message I spoke on some time ago regarding this subject I told this old story that applies pretty well here as an illustration (God I hate when I sound like a pastor)....anyway:

A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. "Why do people call me a Christian?" the man asked. After a moment's pause, one youngster said, "Maybe it's because they don't know you."


Ninjagal...

I think "gal" is quite appropriate and not at all archaic. It is used in my company to describe the line of clothes for young women all the time in marketing and ads... it sounds funny to call someone a "gal" though so it might be archaic in that sense.

ALL: So although I didn't quote scripture I referred to it and then actually quoted a goofy illustration from an old sermon. I think that deserves a drink don't you!

BruceD said...

Billybob, thanks for showing me the right way to be a christian. We clearly come at "life with God" from incredibly different perspectives. All I can say is... good luck with your attempt to conform yourself to all that is written in the bible. Real good luck!

BruceD said...

Oops... I mean "jimmybob". Sorry

JimmyBob said...

bruced - Please don't take offense. I was just sharing what I believe. ninjanun is helping me to word things differently so I don't come accross as condescending. I mean, my whole Christian experience (since I was born again at 15 years old) is based on God's Word. I know that I will never be "perfect" in this lifetime and that God has declared me righteous in His sight. But, I also cannot ignore His words because they tell me how I can please Him more.

Those are my convictions. But, I realize that this is Dorsey's post and he has gathered regulars that also post elsewhere and pretty much all share different views than myself.

I love discussion and debate (but maybe I need to learn better manners (I'm not being sarcastic) when I give a challenging or opposing viewpoint. From this string I have learned its OK to be irreverent as long as everyone is agreeing. Peronally, I think that is a mild form of intolerance. We might as all have the same mind, just like the status quo. Or then, again, maybe it's just my tone getting in the way.

I haven't figured out if I'm wasting my time here, yet. When jeff reduced all previous comments to being crap, I almost gave up. Like, I wasn't really talking to people who really cared. Jeff - I don't have any ill feelings; I'm just being transparent. But, I was fascinated with ninjanun. I hadn't been slapped around by a woman before (aside from my wife). She's quite intellectual and confident.

Dorsey - Are you on vacation? I have a request. Have you ever heard of "The Six Thinking Hats"? It's a book by Edward DeBono and you can pick it up at Barnes and Noble. It teaches parallel thinking and I think it would be fun to try it sometime. Most of your friends already do this, but they are only thinking with one hat, possibly two at times. Just email me.

BruceD said...

jimmyb --- no offense taken.

I really don't get offended much any more. But, I do feel sorry for folks who think their relationship with God is up to them. And, hey... if you can make any sense out of the "word of God"... good for you! I quit trying, and simply focus on the cross and what it means. Sure, the bible has lots of uplifting and inspirational stuff in it, but it's been my experience that it causes more confusion than it reveals answers. As a friend of mine says, "the bible is like a fiddle... you can make it play any tune you want." And the fact that there are over 30,000 distinct sects of christianity, all derived from the same "book", adds credibility to that claim. I don't trust the written word, but I do trust God to reveal Himself through Christ who lives in me. He is the only One I trust.

But, hey... you can trust/believe/obey whoever/whatever you want, it makes no difference to the cross which reconciles all of creation to the Father. You are exactly who He wants you to be at this moment, and I honor that. You are exactly where He wants you at this moment, and I respect that. But, surely you don't think where you are is where you will stay throughout the whole journey, do you? I imagine, like most people, you will say yes... because where we are always seems like the place we should be... forever.

Enjoy God, my friend.

jeff said...

When jeff reduced all previous comments to being crap, I almost gave up. Like, I wasn't really talking to people who really cared. Jeff - I don't have any ill feelings; I'm just being transparent.

Recognizing the fact that we're all full of sh*t has nothing to do with whether I care or not. It's simply a matter of fact.

We debate and discuss issues like these, and we don't even have all the facts. Only God does. Yet, we keep on talking...

You say that you're being transparent. I don't think you are. I think you're regurgitating what has been handed down for generations... you have accused many here for being mildly intolerant. Is that because they disagree with you? If that's the case, I think your view of intolerance must be a 2-way street.

I, like you, find great comfort and guidance from the Bible. Is it perfect? Not in the way the A/G says it is, I don't think... But if you wear it like a badge of honor, instead of a source of inspiration, you may find the reception you receive to be less than encouraging.

Jimmy, it's just typical churchy behavior... take a traditional, status-quo stand, get blasted for it, and assume everyone else has the agenda.

I don't have any ill-feelings either, because I have been (and in some respects still am) where you are. Just know that the group with which you converse, "cares" more than any group of bible-thumping, church-going christians I have ever met.

You're loved, dude. Keep posting.

JimmyBob said...

Thanks Jeff. I don't know what else to say. I told you what I was really thinking and feeling. I don't know how much more transparent I can be.

jeff said...

jimmy,

sometimes transparent glass can still have a little color... jaded??

like I said, just keep posting!

Caro said...

WOW! If only I could package and market all the "jaded" stuff on this post. What I see is the essential difference between the modern and the post-modern lifeview.
EXCEPT, wouldn't a "true" post-modern validate everyone's feelings/ideas and accept the differences?
Im somewhat green at this blogging thing so I may be lacking perspective.
Help me out if you can.