Fruitile: The Land Between Futile and Fruitful
Wayne and Brad take some time to comb through recent email and blog comments to add the insights, questions and comments of our listeners to this expanding conversation of people who are seeking a vibrant relationship with God outside the box of religious obligation. This brings them back to recent podcast topics about the Old Testament writers and their perspective, the call by some for persistent plodders, and the opportunity for us to live wild and free in the work of God. The conversation ends up challenging the presupposition that spiritual success comes in gathering a larger following, rather than freeing an increasing number to live at God's pleasure. Why wouldn't we simply want to help people learn to live loved and free them to do it, rather than obligate them to be a life-long part of whatever may have touched their lives in a moment?
Loved today’s podcast. I wanted to comment on how “addicting” it can be to be in the limelight as “God’s anointed leader” in the church sub-culture. When I left that whole arena a few years ago, I experienced withdrawal pains for over a year. No longer was I John the elder, Sunday School leader/teacher, committee chairman, para-church ministry founder, blah blah blah. I was simply John, a disciple whom Jesus loves. Now that the initial pain is over, I am astonished at the freedom I have to simply be me, the one Father created with His own agenda. And it is so exciting to see what He does in His own way as I simply walk with Him each day. I am loved, accepted, forgiven, free, and even delighted in. It’s so unbelievable but true. It really is good news!
You guys are a breath of fresh air. I laugh, I cry… and my soul is refreshed.
U guys r dangerous.Probably not in the way u r usually accused of being dangerous. I was sitting at a computer listening 2 this podcast & was laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair. Guess I’ll have 2 sit on the floor from now on 2 listen. Or install seatbelts on my chair. Thanks 4 the podcast
I liked what Wayne said about the fruit not being there for the benefit of the vine. It’s definitely something for me to “chew on” this week.
I guess I’m sort of a fruit checker, examining it every day to see how it’s coming along, and being disappointed when it’s not where I think it should be.
Maybe it’s time to leave that to the vine dresser…
I loved this! The comment about the guitar guy popped out and I realized I don’t play much either… makes me think… 🙂 Thank you both of you…
How GodJourneyish of you to stop and smell the comments rather than plodding on. I never knew the full meaning of “A cheerful heart doeth good”. Besides being “like a medicine” it can also be used to dismiss 😉
Strange that B&W mentioned the lack of activity at the Forum. I used to be a regular participant there and read posts regularly. But about a year ago, I stopped doing that. Not sure why. Now I hear that other people have checked out as well.
What is amazing to me is that no one is freaking out over this as far as I can tell. In my past life, when a religious program or initiative didn’t work or stopped working after initial success, the response was always a search for how to either prop up the flagging program or figure out what new program people could get excited about next. Kudos to TGJ for not following this model. If God wants something else to come along, he is more than able to inspire and lead.
This one had both my wife and I laughing along with you guys! The good news is that we can laugh at ourselves as well, since we used to be involved in a lot of that same religious activity. I used to be one of those Sunday morning stage musicians, and I walked away from it several years ago. I just couldn’t keep contributing to the manipulation. Not I’m a part of a small jazz combo, and we’re doing it for fun (not for manipulation).
I used to be very active on the forum several years ago. Now, rarely. For me, I had great conversations for a season and then I found my interests heading in another direction. As I have occasionally visited the Forum, I see that for some it is a rich place with good exchanges taking place.
The beauty of relationship is that we seek out what we need and where we can contribute. If it is the forum – terrific; if the blog – terrific; if at home or a meeting or at lunch – terrific. The value is the life sharing connections not the medium for me.
I can agree with John’s statements above about being in the limelight, then feeling the call to step away and realizing….”Wow, it’s just me and God now…….this is a bit scary.” But over time I’ve realized that my fear revealed that I was hiding behind God as a pastor rather than walking along side of him as a friend. Now we are holding hands and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The cool thing is that the Father has led myself and others who are having similar nudges into fellowship together. In fact there are several different small groups (8-10 people each) who have been meeting regularly in our area to share fellowship, meals, and life together.
Recently some have suggested that we come together for a monthly time of larger group worship. All sorts of alarm bells go off for me with this….but mostly because of my own motivations and underlying temptations. “Will I try to run this thing…I’m a former pastor after all.” “Will others look to me to lead and then become dependent on me?” “Will we just slip into old comfortable habits because we are finding intimacy with each other a bit too…..well intimate?”
God has blessed me with a way out of all of this. Some people in the groups decided that this Sunday would be a good time to try gathering. About a week ago I had decided to go on a 4 day retreat alone with God in the woods on the same weekend. I was torn…go be alone with God or stay home put in my two cents, and see what happens…or do both (coming out for Sunday morning and then heading back afterwards). As I thought and prayed about this I found God saying, “Come be with me…you’re not in charge of what needs to happen with those people…I am…trust me.” So trusting Father I head to the woods on Friday, not to return until Monday night. I leave my friends and our future in the Father’s hands knowing that he can and will be heard when we all stop and listen.
Thanks for the continued laughs and hilarity of the podcast…this one was a ringer!
I would love to hear how your weekend alone with the Father went, and also how the larger group gathering went without you.
I think that it was in this podcast that Wayne referred to the universities having the goal of their students graduating and going out to impact the world, in contrast to the mentality in most institutional expressions of the Body. But you guys must not have been very closely connected to the universities you attended. At most graduation ceremonies these days, someone cracks a joke about “now that you are alumni, send money!”. It’s the same kind of sick humor as that video by the Northpoint folks that you reacted to! And having just completed a degree, as well as having 3 kids in college during the last 8 years, we get almost constant appeals for funds!
So my guess is that even if the institutional fellowships were to take the enlightened view that their purpose was to “graduate” the folks involved, rather than keep them perpetually enrolled, they’d still keep them on the “alumni” rolls, and constantly be hitting them up for donations!
I suppose they’d also want us to buy season tickets for football games, or the equivalent! And to send our children to attend someday as well…
It’s funny how I find I’m totally wired for “religious obligation”.
I had showed up to church for a men’s group meeting last night and found that no one was there. I was actually pleased to have some time alone with the Lord. So I talked to him for awhile and then started reading through Ken Miller’s “The Taste of New Wine”. It really spoke to me (seems like God Journey material for sure) at that moment as it gave an account of real friendship as opposed to manipulative “witnessing”.
As the revelation unfolded, I found myself getting excited about employing this new idea. But I also found myself mentally trying capitalize on the new concept, working it into my religious flowchart and making sure I integrated it into my lifestyle. “Who knows, maybe I can even write a book—or build a church!”
I gotta stop doing that.
John – the weekend alone went well…just time to be in the Father’s awesome creation. Time to ponder, study, and practice the habit of prayer. A few “ah-ha” moments about a few things along the way. It was a good reminder to be traveling with God – not just looking for him to show up at my planned retreat events.
The large group went okay from all I was told. It was a freeing experience not to be there and let the spirit work. I total realize that I still feel the need to try and “control” such gatherings. I long to move into the place of letting things happen, being aware of the spirit, and acting in accord with it. We meet again in a week. We’ll see which way the wind blows…..