A Journey for the Hungry
Brad is back from Nashville and Wayne from Brazil. They have lots of catching up to do and Wayne shares some of his experiences with brothers and sisters in Brazil. They also share some letters from other listeners, which causes them to contemplate a question too often ignored. Is the Bible is written to give us God's requirements the requirements reluctant followers must follow, or to equip those who are hungry to know the Father and be transformed into his likeness.
Wayne and Brad, Unfortunately, evangelicals have given the world a gospel that does not require a relationship with God. You look at a gospel tract or listen to an evangelistic sermon and the thrust of the message is how Jesus can keep you from going to hell or If a softer, more positive approach is used they might ask you, “Would you like to know how you can go to heaven when you die?” Rarely is there any emphasis on being reconciled to a Good and Loving Father. Most of the language of evangelism is judicial and not reconciliatory. In society the judge is not someone you would desire to have a personal relationship. Even if he pardons you, you would not seek to develop a relationship afterward. He is a person who is to be revered and respected from a distance. On the other hand, a father who longs to be united with his estranged children is an analogy that is rarely used in presenting the gospel. Most often when the story of the compassionate father (prodigal son) is told most of the emphasis is on the failures of the son instead of the compassion and mercy of the father. I love what you guys are doing. The winds of God’s love have been blowing through my soul for the last two years. The God Journey has been a part of that. Thanks for casting.
Hi guys, I was partially tracking with you about what you said about finding God and the hide-and-seek thing. I have to say that I was too much of a blockhead to even know anything at all about the love of God if he hadn’t ambushed me in the midst of my worst failure. So many ask, “How do you love God?” I say, once you’ve felt/known/experienced his love, how can’t you?
Wayne & Brad,
I found your website a couple of weeks ago, I don’t know how in the world I found it but just linking from one google search to another I landed here. I have listened to several of your podcasts and feel like it is a life ring God threw to my wife and I after being pushed off the back of the “Evangelical Gospel Boat”. I love the people at the church we just left, even the pastor but the constant demand for people to submit to a person assigned to us as an authority was suffocating.
It is wonderful to hear all that you two say. We are not so sure we ever want to engage in another church again and risk this kind of judgement. Thanks for your willingness to put these podcasts up week after week for what appears to be quite some time. I thought I would share the email I received after I tried to re-establish a friendship I though was still intact as a sort encouragement to other people who may receive similar rejection so they know they are not alone.
It is clear to me that it is not , or more the point leadership, that causes you such angst. It is authority of any kind. The fact that you have not been able to find a long term church home concerns me. It seems Alan, that your inability to be led by anyone will make you more vulnerable in your walk. As I have said before, you are usually the smartest person in the room. That can be a gift, but if it causes you to believe that you always know better, it is just arrogance. I am sorry you felt marginalized at . I would simply suggest you ask yourself whether during your time at , or any other church for that matter, did you make the life of the leadership easier or harder? It seems to me you always think you know just a little bit more than they do. It should not come as a shock that, with that kind of heart, long term relationship is not sustainable.
We all know there is no such thing as a perfect church, nor perfect church leaders. But ultimately each of us needs to make a choice. We can either choose a church in whose leaders we trust, who while imperfect, truly have our best interests at heart, even if we sometimes don’t agree with them; Or we go our own way and risk being devoured. As strong and independent as I like to think I am; as for me and my house I choose to follow godly leaders, as best I can.
While you may disagree, it seems clear that you seek the role of leader/influencer. At the “Alan” church , with the apparent freedom that comes from operating on your own terms, you lack the influence of good leaders above you and a community around you that is looking to the Bible to help each other stay on track. Of course God can speak to us where ever we are, not just in a church building. But it’s a rebellious heart that draws us away from what He wants for us. When we submit to Him and His leadership it gives us a true freedom that we cannot otherwise enjoy. My sincere hope is that you are able to humble your heart such that you can find a church home, with leadership you can trust, and to whom you can submit.
I omitted the name of the church so the email reads a little funny
It’s not always easy to follow, especially when you know people think of you like this man expressed in his letter. It is so easy to make accusations, especially in the bubble of our own false illusions. I’m blessed you’re finding the journey and grace to move on in him, despite the disapproval of religious men who think their principles are the life of the Kingdom. Hopefully you’re living free will help them see through their illusions as well. Blessings on you!
There is plenty of room for improvement in my ability to submit to authority so this guy isn’t entirely wrong. It’s hard to trust someone to submit to them if there is no relationship though. Your podcast with Darin Hufford made me realize how hard it is for a pastor to have that kind of relationship though, especially if it’s a big church. Ironically, I left on good terms with the pastor at this church, this was a small group leader (not ours). I really do love all these people and I think they love us but I think they are just somewhere in the middle of their process of understanding how that reduces to practice.
Keep up the good work. I am glad you figured out how to do this and I agree with Brad, you guys do remind me of Click and Clack – The Tappet Brothers on NPR. Same format, same great sense of humor.
Alan & Wayne
Hey brothers, I am exactly at the same spot. That email will be written to me very soon if I continue to walk down this path God has me on. I used to question with I was just not being submissive as I was being told, or if I didn’t trust men due to some father issues, but as God continues to make things clear, my heavenly Father knows this is not about good leadership, or bad leadership. It is not about me knowing better than my leaders. Its about God’s influence in my life, and my desire to follow Him.
Why is it so hard for some leaders to allow a saint to follow God? Seriously, I thought they were on the same team. Shouldn’t they be working together to help, to love, and to encourage us? Why is it so important that we find leadership we can trust, and submit to? “As for me and my house we choose to follow godly leaders”? Is he serious? I assume he knows that is not the actual scripture, but much like my pastor that is how he lives out his relationship with God, by following men, and then they wonder why we won’t follow them? Just last week my pastor told me that my wife can check her relationship with God by checking her submissiveness to her husband, the same way I can check my level of commitment to God, by checking my level of submissiveness to my leaders. I checked Ephesians 5, and it doesn’t mention pastors at all in that verse, nor does Joshua 3:15 if i remember the reference correctly.
Alan I would love to open up a conversation if you are open to it, if I can give my email here it is firstname.lastname@example.org. My wife and I are all alone right now and would love to meet another person who ‘believes they always know better’. maybe we can learn from each other as God teaches us.
I don’t want to grand stand too much but since I am apparently “the smartest person in the room” (just kidding – refer to the email posted above) I have been wondering if maybe we have been looking at this organized church thing backwards.
Even though most churches probably start out with people genuinely motivated to show the same Jesus they have met to the rest of the world, what if as they grow and are forced to organize, they also begin to attract people who simply have a need to be recognized? What if God uses them to draw both the seakers of Christ _and_ the seekers of religious experiences.
At the beginning, the seekers of Jesus out number the religion seekers but as numbers increase and as organization seems inevitable, the Jesus seekers fade back and the religion seekers step forward. What if the churches are empowered by God to suck up everyone seeking Truth only to hold on to the religious and shed the true disciples of Christ back into the world as mustard seed where they can be Christ in context to the real world and not stuck up in the mustard trees of religious hierarchy?
Jesus didn’t seem shocked that the birds would both live in the mustard tree (some kind of a horrifying mutation of a simple mustard plant no doubt) and also swoop down out of them to eat the seeds as they were scattered by the side of the road. Perhaps the whole sequence of parables in Matthew 13, describes what Jesus saw coming so we wouldn’t be discouraged when we saw it with our own eyes.
I’m just sayin’
Interesting thoughts. And, you just may be the “smartest guy in the room.” :o)
Wayne and Brad have said a lot about how it’s much easier to “follow the rules” than what it is to hear, listen, and follow the gently whisper of the Spirit. I’ve been blessed by the ways they’ve talked about this and illustrated it.
Something that came to my mind a couple of years ago that relates to what you’ve said is that (once I got past the “evil-institutional-church-as-the-whore-of-Babylon” attitude) I began to see the North American mega-church/ attractional model as one tool our Father uses to bring people to Himself in the sense of a maternity ward–get ’em birthed, cleaned up some and to the stage where they can eat some solid food. At some point those who have been infected with the viral Jesus DNA began to look around and ask, “Is this all there is?” That isn’t a question to which folks focused on religion and performance have a good answer. And, that kind of question brings up some disconcerting mental/emotional/intellectual tensions.
Wayne and Brad, I loved this podcast! I’ve been reading a lot of your Body Life archives Wayne and they’ve helped me untwist what I’ve had twisted. After I first read “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” I was so excited! Then I read it again and was even more excited. Then when I started listening to you guys podcasts and heard the freedom you live in, I’ll confess I felt a little jealous. When will I feel like that? (I think I’ve held onto that pharisee mindset, just tell me the formula.) I feel like God is just scraping off layers and layers of thick religious gunk from my heart and mind! Just when I think I’m really getting it, God shines the light on another layer that I was oblivious to. But with each layer he scrapes away, I feel lighter and lighter. After reading the body life article “Windblown” and listening to you today, another veil was lifted. I’ve felt so emotional all day just realizing how much Father really loves me. He’s been communicating it to me all my life I guess, but I’m just now beginning to recognize his voice.
I have been thinking about your comments. It is a really good way to look at maturity. I had visions of 40 year old men returning to their birthing centers to get their diaper changed and get fed. Hey, thanks for THAT mental picture 🙂
After spending the day with some friends of ours and repeatedly being asked if we wanted to go to their church, and me artfully changing the subject, we were finally backed into a corner. Sitting at the table playing a board game, one of them asked again. I put on my best Socratic teaching hat as a means of escape and asked “Do you think it is possible for God to tell someone not to go to church?”. We were immediately prayed for and Satan was cast from our hearts, my wife burst into tears and three subsequent good months of friendship were temporarily derailed.
When we left the last parachurch organization (heretofore referred to as church), another of my friends asked me “How are you ever going to be fed?” I only wish I had your post in my arsenal of references for my response. Instead, I just sort of stood there looking like a jackass eatin’ cactus. (I was not mistaken for the smartest person in the room that day)
More to your point however, your post reminded me of the morning about 30 years ago when my wife and I were released from the hospital with our first born son. The wonderfully supportive team of happy nurses and confident doctors handed us our baby and kicked us out the front door of their highly structured and bureaucratically organized institution. No exaggeration, my overwhelming thought as they wrapped him up in his blanket and handed him to us was “Aren’t you guys coming with? What in the hell are we supposed to do with this kid? We’re still pretty much kids ourselves!”
It turned out alright though. What happened was that we found people from all sorts of unexpected places that happened to know a lot about raising kids. We only occasionally went back to talk to the doctor about him. But above all and for the most part it turned out that we kinda had an innate sense of how to be parents, we just didn’t trust it.
Your post also made me think about your characterization of “folks focused on religion and performance”. While I generally don’t like to categorize people in groups, yours is respectful enough and gets the point across. My theory is “there are _one_ kinds of people in the world” and we are all performance oriented and somewhat focused on religion, even if it is the religion of Coffee (I am in Seattle where a preferred method of grinding coffee beans will put you in an entirely separate denomination from others). Unfortunately you have to bare the cross of being labeled sacrilegious by someone, somewhere in order to actually have a preference on anything. Sucks to be you if you actually have personal preference.
I have to second your appreciation for Wayne and Brad. I hear the same enthusiasm in their podcasts that I hear in Paul’s podcasts (well, as close to a podcast as Paul could get from a stinking prison cell) to the new churches.
When you mentioned religion, it made me think of how entertaining it would be to fast forward 2000 years and see how Wayne Grudem tore up Wayne & Brads podcasts and reassembled them into a book of Systematic Theology, carefully referring to every inference in the “original English” that they were spoken in. Poor Paul is held to such a high standard. Jesus was skillful enough to get on and off stage without leaving much evidence that he may have just come to start a new religion but Paul, man, that poor guy got stuck with having everything he wrote end up being “biblical”. Trying so hard to extricate people from the bondage of Jewish, religious performance, unknowingly writing the theological framework for the Christian religion. I mean (and you may want to deploy the air bags here) we won’t even allow for him to have said something wrong or stupid. Even Wayne gets to say something stupid from time to time. Brad of course is way to cool to fall into that trap. Just kidding guys -you really are my heroes. I shouldn’t take such liberties with total strangers but… these voices in my head… I just can’t shut them up. 🙂
Thanks for the thoughts Tom.
Interesting reading – have been on the lonely road for some years. Recently had a run-in with my boss, who happens to be a pastor [albeit just retired]. He wanted to know where I had been attending church since we moved closer to my place of employment. My reply of, “Nowhere,” and “Can’t see the point,” to his follow-on question didn’t go down too well. It has been amazing to have learned to hear Jesus’ voice [but not necessarily follow what he said]. Sometimes the things that I have asked of him, I have later regretted. As a friend of mine once said, “Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.”
You guys who are just starting out on this road – be encouraged – you are not alone. There are many of us, all over the world. At the moment I’m in the UK, but my walk started in South Africa – Chrisitian, that is – I got to the UK in an airplane!
Blessings to you all.
Anybody with a sanctified sense of humour? That’s a work in progress for me.
There was a man from Calcutta; who was fond of laying in the gutter…………..
Just read your response…better late than never(?)…really cracked me up!! I know exactly what you mean by “denominational coffee bean grinding distinctives” — that is a great metaphor! Do you mind if I tell everyone when I use it that I made it up? ;o)
I’ve had the airbags deployed on me several times when I’ve “suggested” that Paul wasn’t right about EVERYTHING. You wooda taught I were a Montanist or some such ‘airtic.
Oh yeah man! Just can’t wait for Wayne Grudem to systematize thegodjourney podcast. Or, will he form a foundation to refute it? Perhaps something called “The Scripturally Complimentarian God Journey Institute”? (Hasn’t Wayne Grudem died and gone to the Systematic Mansion in the sky?)
Thanks for taking the time to reply. If you have a blog, or start one, let me know…I’ll be a regular attender ;o)
…I’ll think about that one…the only ideas that come to mind at the moment are not SANCTIFIED ;o)
Okay, wait a hysop-pickin’ minute here … are you two ‘airticks suggestin’ that brother Paul … of Second Peter 3:16 fame, for Pete’s sake 😉 … made MISTAKES??? Are you *sure* you’re not just gettin confused by “things that are hard to understand” and “distortin'” stuff? LOL
Seriously, when I was newly (and radically) introduced to Jesus, I felt ‘called’ to full-time ministry and as I ‘pursued’ that calling down one dead-end trail after another, Father kept reminding me of Acts 4:12 (Which *I* used as a Scriptural bludgeon on those ‘leader-types’ who kept the keys to said trails). I have since passed that verse along to others a little behind me on the journey as an encouragement to avoid Cemetary … err, Seminary unless they *HAD* to go.
As I listen to the Pod Journey Godcast I am frequently reminded that were it not for the promise that He will complete the work (IN me) that He started, my only task is to, as best as I am able in this jar of clay, LISTEN to MY Shepherd, who continues to speak through donkeys 😉 (just kiddin’ guys!!).
Alan, I’m with Tom … if you’re blogging, I want to know about it … you’ve provoked some thoughts that will need some ‘marinading time’ 🙂
Grace and Peace be multiplied,
Joseph, I don’t have a blog. Blogs scare me. They make me feel like a man (or perhaps a preacher) standing in an elevator speaking his mind while everyone else pretends he is not there. My inspirational battery goes dead somewhere between wondering if anyone would find and read regular installments to my blog and thinking that my blog was saying something that has not already been written by someone better at writing. I do have an email address however and we can exchange ideas there. Tom (scroll up) and I and a few others talk all the time.
Very interesting coming back 5 years later and reading the comments.
Since that time Alan, Terry, David and I have become close friends and maintained near-constant contact with each other.