Sunday, March 05, 2006

surprise party

(clockwise from bottom) tamiscus, luther, and debbie (luther's sister), and a partial erin
tamiscus and bryan share a moment
tami laughs while remembering something

there was a surprise party waiting for me when i got home yesterday. not in my honor or anything, but a surprise as i didn't know it was going to happen. a party that i did not organize. it grew out of the hearts of everyone else and they just needed to party so bad they came together on their own. a very nice way to end the day after 12 hours of work.

there were three great things about this party.
number one being the fact that luther had plans to play multiplayer halo with his friends, but instead decided to come over at erin's call to offer a party for the evening. think about that for a moment. this young man, a man of 23, decided in his heart that he would rather be at one of these parties THAN PLAY MULTI PLAYER HALO WITH HIS BUDDIES! (perhaps you need to be a young male enamoured of video games to know the magnitude of this. or maybe you just need to be the girlfriend of one.)
and secondly, luther invited his sister to come along. the parties have been such that luther felt it worthwhile, somewhere in his heart, to invite his sister to come and experience one as well.
and lastly, there were at least four separate occasions when the joy and laughter between us was so intense that most of us were red faced and could not breathe. the good kind of laughter. rare to even experience this kind of soul cleansing laughter once in a month, not to mention four times in four hours.

this is what i'm talking about. offering the kind of experience of the love, joy, peace, etc. of the spirit of god that it would cause a man to leave his HALO, and come. and in coming, invite those he knows to come along as well.

the kingdom is now. the party has begun. and i can only see this growing. pray for wisdom and freedom for the spirit to be at work. to bring healing to the lives of those who enter here. and to repair spiritual damage. to help bring them to a place where i can one day say, "you know all of this great spirit you've been enjoying? well, i have a confession. you've really been drinking the holy spirit. i know, it seemed like some other brand, but it has been the real deal. no lie. i know you have drunk some nasty foul tasting and smelling stuff people claimed was holy spirit. but this is it. this is the real thing. for you have tasted and enjoyed for yourself, and this is what i've been serving!"

names and faces keep popping into my mind of people i want to come to the party. friends, acquaintances. even those i see in the grocery store, or out and about. people who look like they could REALLY use a party.

which brings me to another thought i've been having.

for some reason, i got the impression in my dealings with "christianity", that it is a religion largely defined by NOT DOING things. yet, when i read scripture, i see commands to DO things more than i see the command to NOT DO things. and strangely, the things you are taught how to DO are really only the doing of things to help you NOT DO things.

and over the centuries, through this theology of NOT DOING, we have concocted rules for ourselves. biblically based rules, mind you. i understand why there are there. but at the root of it, many of these actual things are not in scripture. so we spend our time trying hard to NOT DO things that scripture has never asked and completely ignore much of what has actually and specifically been asked of us. for example:
i know why the admonition to "not masturbate" is so prevelant within the church. the whole "lust & the heart" thing. i get it. but yet, scripture never actually tells us to specifically not masturbate. we use that as a guide, as a measuring stick for moral upstanding and "biblical, godly living", but god has never asked it of us.
on a contrast, jesus HAS asked THIS of us:
Lk 14:13 "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind..."

i asked myself a question, and now i ask it to you. let it penetrate and sink in.

did you spend more time last year "not masturbating" (something god NEVER asked of us), or throwing parties and inviting over the poor, crippled, etc.? (something god HAS asked of us)

join the party. do something else...


Wendy ftfs said...

So.... are you inviting the poor and the crippled to your place to masturbate? Just want to clear that up? :-S lol

jON said...

um, no. what i am trying to say is that "christians", as a religion, spend a LOT of time NOT DOING things that scripture has never asked us to NOT DO.

and while we are running around with our heads cut off trying so hard to NOT DO (because i don't think we take the cross seriously enough, or this offer of grace seriously enough) we do not actually DO what it is that has been asked of us.

in my opinion, one of the things that held me back from the life of faith i had always desired, was spending all of my time chasing after things that aren't actually in the bible. all the while, neglecting things that are.

i used the example of masturbation because it is one that most people would readily agree that "jesus doesn't want you to do." and i used the example of luke 14:13 because it is one most people do nothing with. i used to do nothing with it. then i realized how silly it was to waste my time working hard at NOT DOING something scripture has never asked, while neglecting something scripture has asked. and all in the name of a "biblical lifestyle" no less!

does this clear anything up?

Beth said...

Such is the difference between a religion and a relationship. Religion is a list of things you can't do, and you don't do them because you aren't supposed to.
A Relationship is exciting and growing. Its exploring all the things you CAN DO together.
However, the Bible also says that " If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning" (Rom 14:23)
"Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. " (1John 2:15,16)

I think there are a lot of things that are questionable. The Bible doesn't specically list everything that is a sin, or else it would just be one long list of don'ts. Instead, it generalizes and urges us to "lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God" and "you say 'I am allowed to do anything'-but not everything is helpful. You say 'I am allowed to do anything'- but not everything is beneficial." (1cor10:23) "And you are sinning against Christ when you sin against other Christians by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong" (1Cor 8:12)
Its personal conviction. If the Holy Spirit impresses on you that you should not do something- then if you do it, its a sin and vice versa. If He has not convicted you about it, then fine.
Many people do spend way too much time focused on what they can't do, rather than the freedom that we were given from all those things (you are no longer a slave to the world, but a slave to Christ. rom 8 i think) so that we could go out into the world, living a blameless life, bringing others into the Kingdom.

jON said...

don't miss the link under tami's solo picture. click the word something. it is a real gem, and then, hopefully, you can share in her laughter.

jON said...

beth, thank you so much. good to hear from you! it has indeed been a while. you have summed up so much of what has been going on inside of me.

finding the balance. a life lived in sunjection to god and not men. but also taking care not to use your freedom in such a way as to make others stumble. "shoving meat down the throat of infants and wondering why they choke" as my mother would put it.

thanks for the affirmation and the admonition. both are sorely needed in my life.

don't be a stranger.

Cheryl said...

you are an ispiration jon - you are living the life - the kingdom of God is a party not just a book title :)

Wendy ftfs said...

:-) yes I knew what you were driving at, but let me ask you this... I sense an obsession with the word "fuck" and just sexuality in general... Just wondering where that comes from and why? Our sexuality is only a part of our lives... not a taboo subject by any me anyway.... and I'm not trying to offend you in any way ... just curious... and I'm challenging you a bit here...
much love to you and Erin ...

jON said...

i completely understand and no offense is taken. i need someone to keep me in check.

yes, "that word", and sexuality are a big focus in my life. growing up in the church, there was a huge negative focus on these things. and it has taken me a long time to walk out from underneath that condemnation. although it was not intentional, that was the end result.

unless you have grown up with it, it can be hard to understand how horrible the "it's a terrible dirty sinful thing until you get married, then it's wonderful" approach can be. it is very difficult to suddenly turn off the "terrible dirty sinful" switch and be able to enjoy your wife. we have been married nearly ten years and just recently am i able to do this.

so, i try to continually bring those things up to help preach freedom and demystify these things for others who may have the same troubles. i apologize if i am beating a dead horse and it's starting to stink. (but the fuck thing was just damn funny. i had to share it.)

and the masturbation analogy came out one day as i was in a "christian" group on myspace and a young man who was feeling very condemned about masturbating was asking questions about it.
the only responses he got, basically boiled down to, "you know you need to stop and if you don't you're going to hell." (as if he was not already giving himself a good dose of this condemnation and guilt in his own mind)

i grieved for this young man and was then struck with the thought that i have shared here about doing and not doing...

thanks for caring and sharing, wendy. i always appreciate it.

Wendy ftfs said...

Great ... All leaders bear a large and accountable responsibility before the Lord...I'm sorry that sexuality was perverted in a sense in your growing up years ....I use pervert in the sense that the reality and meaning of our sexuality has been twisted in all realms. It seems to be a target that our enemy has found easiest to hit. Satan's aim is bad anyways and the old coot needs an EASY target. It is targeted everywhere as a TABOO subject. In the church and outside the church. The word of God is clear on the good and bad sides of our sexuality just as it is clear on so many other important things in our lives. Our thought lives are biggies and there is much said about our thoughts in the scriptures. Just wanting to keep things in balance and perspective .... :-) Thanks for being honest.

jON said...

it is just still very fresh for me. this epiphany. it came crashing down like a ton of bricks and i'm still reeling a bit.

i could just see it so clearly. so strangely. think about it. think about how many books in the "christian" bookstore non-fiction sections are about how to NOT DO things. or how to do things that will help you NOT DO things.

i think that's all the teen non fiction section is. how to NOT DO things.

and yet, i have honestly never seen a practical "how to" manual on throwing a good party for the least of these. or how to honestly HEAL a person. or how to move into an impoverished neighborhood and make an impact.

just seems funny to me. funny and wrong.

Wendy ftfs said...

I guess it is funny and wrong.... Jesus didn't spend His time controlling people and that is where all that comes from.... people acting on their own and controlling what is being taught. Unconditional love first, open communication and simple, raw truth is the best way to clear up any misunderstandings...and the way to teach young people ...
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers... vs 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Psalm 119:9... How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
Jesus left people with his word and with the purity of his unconditional love ... it changed those he came to save forever.

Tessa said...

"Jesus didn't spend His time controlling people and that is where all that comes from.... people acting on their own and controlling what is being taught."

That is something that makes me extremely angry.... I have an agnostic friend who dosn't see the point in religion because like Karl Marx she dosn't see religion as anything but a social institution used to control people. And for the most part i tend to agree with my friend, Karl Marx, and Jessie Ventura on their opinions on organized religion because for the most part its been true of the human experience through history.

Jesus came to change that...

and yet through our human arogance and folly we perverted the simple pure friendship he was offering. Pharisees, bishops, bla bla bla its all the same.

Whenever somebody asks me about my beliefs the first word out of my mouth are "relationship." It pains me when other 'christians' fail to realise this and stuff in rules and regulations inside a Jesus shaped hole.