I have been on this journey for now over 30 years. I don’t think that I have seen such a lack of commitment to aesthetics in my whole existence in spirituality. While there are many who are going through the process of change on the inside; the deconstruction process. There are others who are a huge turn off to those outside of their immediate circle. They may be ‘free’ in their thinking, but they still possess the ‘Protesting’ Spirit of the Protestant Reformation. It seems they have become defenders of their truth, more than sharing in love and compassion.
I read a funny cartoon on Facebook the other day that kind of says how I’m feeling. The scene was a guy standing in front of the gates of Heaven and Peter or whoever does the role, says to the guy; “Hey great I found your name that is wonderful; but you must have forgotten the You – Don’t – Have – to – be – a – Jerk – About – it clause.”
Instead of harping on the obvious I am looking for solutions. I want to be a part of the change necessary to swing back to center. When I started in this walk I was so zealous and eager to have everything figured out. I was on a personal mission to change the world, and be a spectacle to those in the church, and them that were not.I was not going to allow anyone to outwork me. I actually went on a personal discipleship plan to hold myself accountable to the works of a follower. I tracked each day for about a year on these criteria.
How much time I spent in prayer each day (hours)
How much time I spent in study of the scriptures (hours)
How many people I shared Jesus with (per day)
How much time did spend do good works of serving and helping others (hours)
How many days did I fast (per week)
Just to give you an example for about three years in the beginning of my walk, I fasted more days than I ate. So like there would be 356 days in a year, I might go 200 days without food. One time I fasted for 7 days with no food or water. Another time I went 21 days fasting with just water. My heart was right in the doing of it, all I wanted to know God, and break chains off of my life and others. The tragic thing when you are young in the things of God, it is impossible to not be proud of your works! One day my Father in Law (my first pastor) asked me to share at the men’s group. God bless him I have to tell you I was a mess. You see none of these works while were done sincerely, did not yield the most important thing; Love and Compassion.
I went to the men’s group meeting with pages of charts that revealed all the time spent with God, doing His work. It was pages and pages. I was telling the men there was no excuse to not have time for God! I should them they could shave minutes off of their busy lives and schedules, and that God is requiring more time. Well needless to say the words of this 22-year-old lunatic went over like a screen door on a submarine! I mean it crushed me to think that these men didn’t really want to serve and spend time knowing the Lord. The more I saw their laziness the more I committed to righteousness ( meaning works). I can not even tell you the Thanksgiving meals I missed because I was ‘fasting’, and that really hurt my mothers feelings. It didn’t make her want to serve the God that I served, it just pissed her off. The church would schedule a Wednesday night work night / picnic. I would go into panic mode! I stayed in the building and prayed while they played volleyball of all things on a church night!
Pastors would let me teach and preach, but when the people knew I was going to be the speaker, they wouldn’t show up! I couldn’t understand why? I was dedicated, separated, and consecrated! Isn’t that what the Levites were to be and do? Were they so hard-hearted? Did not anyone really love the Jesus that I knew? I was spinning out of control. My heart was aching for the wrong reasons. The people I so wanted to reach and serve were pushing me away. I was feeling rejected and despised, and slowing learning prophetic paranoia! (That’s for another time)
It was about three or four years of this pattern. I was suffering inside, buffering my flesh on the outside. All the while I was going deeper into spiritual suicide. Meaning people would say, ‘Mark, you are so heavenly minded that you have become no earthly good.’ I wore that label proudly. One day I will never forget the rest of my life. One of my first mentors had a meeting with me and said, ‘You are definitely committed and you know about Jesus, but you are too hard on the people. They are never going to hear you because you are too critical.’ ‘You need to learn compassion to go with all of this truth you have.’ And then he said this to me, ‘For the next 30 days I want you to only read the read letters!’
Much to my surprise it changed my life forever! I would like to offer this journey to you as well.
In this crazy world of Facebook, people are judging, criticizing, blasting each other, acting out as if politics were the savior and not Jesus, and just outright mean. I’m talking about so-called Christians! All that I can think for the last few months is; We Need a Red Letter Revolution!
I am coming back to Oklahoma to my roots soon, I will keep you posted on the details as they unfold. I am looking to go on a journey with some people who want more than and John 3:16 or Acts 2:1 experience. I looking for people who want to walk, live, breathe, and manifest the love of God! I’m looking for some people who desire to go from ‘doing’ to ‘being’.
I will post the Red Letter Revolution soon as a personal challenge to my friends. In the mean while begin deciding if you would like to go on this journey with me!
Grace & Peace