Monday, September 10, 2007

Do You Ever Feel Like Crying?

Today, as usual, I wear my emotions on my sleeve; I need your prayers.

I know folks get tired of it, but there is this passion I have discovered like no other regarding The Lost, The Last, and The Least. This not only includes those whom call themselves followers of Jesus, but those looking for spiritual truths and fulfillment. I find myself at the place of knowing people are out there that want so desperately a relationship with God, who wants so desperately meaning to their life, and are in reality getting left behind, ignored, and abandoned by not only individuals who call them selves “Christian” but this institution we call “church.”

Here is what is so bad; I have come to know of being left behind, ignored, and abandonment, with little hope for most of my life coming from so called Christians, and those within “the church.” I don’t, in fact, I won’t abandon my God, I won’t ignore my Savior, and I won’t leave behind those who are on the same journey. The truth is we need each other, for there is little hope within the institutional organization of church. I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite stories of all time, “Say it aint so Joe!”

This weekend I will admittedly confess, I have struggled over the last few days. I struggle knowing there is one thing a year I really enjoy doing. Ministry at the Walnut Valley Music Festival is without a doubt, the most enjoyable, life fulfilling ministry of the year for me. I have to also admit, it is fun and satisfying. Not only is it a place where I find myself desiring to meet and give so much to people, it is a place where I get and receive from those performing and the beautiful people at the myriads of camp sights who enjoy music, eating, fellowship, and meeting new people. It is a place where I have experienced a taste of heaven like no other. Doing what I do, for a taste of heaven. It is very much needed and keeps me going.

This last weekend was a good time, it was a difficult time. My wife and son know how much Walnut Valley means to me, they packed and got everything ready. On the way to get some oil for the van, we decided to check the bank account, between my personal account, and The Virtual Pew account I have $150, not enough for the trip to Winfield by the time you figure gas, food, camping and so forth. It looks like this year that thing I need so much is going to just not be available. I know it sounds crazy, but it is important enough I sit here with tears in my eyes today writing this. When we fail to see the things in a persons life that brings them joy, the basic needs, when we ignore their hearts, we in reality hurt them. I want to be careful about this, but today, I am reminded again, of how often we do that. We live in such a “me” focused generation, and I am frankly sick of that attitude. I would long for a more loving sharing community. Much like the book of Acts were we see the church really doing its jobs. Of course here they didn’t need the big fancy buildings, they didn’t need the organizations and committees, and they had each other. Now we have all of those things, but I really wonder if we have each other?

How do I know the church, or Christians don’t care? I don’t know? I think by their actions. I don’t say this to complain, I say this because I know from experience and the churches and denominations that have refused at providing help to those needing it. I could go so far here in describing this, but will let it go by simply saying my observations about church over the duration of my life hasn’t unfortunately changed that much. What has changed is my understanding that what God expects from the church, and what many in the church are doing has nothing to do with the church we see in the New Testament. Understand, I am not throwing blame here at all Christians, and all of the church. But I will say, for every Christian who is doing what God is calling them to do, we see far more who aren’t, and in fact, the gap is getting wider and the church that attempts to serve Christ, and the Christian who chooses to walk like Christ become fewer and fewer each day.

I want to be careful here, this isn’t about me, I was talking to my wife and friend Curt the other day, and I have an education to fall back on where I can go back into the employment realm and make good decent money. My family has paid a dear sacrifice for this ministry but we realize the worth, with the possible exception of my son, and Lord knows the sacrifice a child in High School has to make. Of course if I go back into the “regular” work force, there will be another Christian who has promised to try and help those abandoned and hurt by the church. I am confident I am doing what God wants, I am not confident those who need to help and support what we are doing are doing so. Seriously, I just don’t know. I know God wants to touch individuals who fall into these situations, but I just don’t know what the “church” is doing other than talking a good game. I don’t have much hope in the organization right now, not The Virtual Pew, but the religious entities that seem to have lost their way.

I’ll keep on with The Virtual Pew for now. Why? Because as I need reminders of the importance of moving on, staying the course, I get them from individuals whether it be the 25+ responses I get in a day, or a reminder when I get an email from a friend who gets confronted because she posted my post on forgivingness titled “That bitch deserved what she got.” There, I shared my story of coming face to face with the murderer of my aunt who helped raise me and certainly showed me love at a time in my life when I needed it. Seems like some people are more concerned with the usage of a word like bitch, where I quote her murderer, than they are about the power of forgiveness. How are people supposed to have hope, when “Christians” like this push their religion to the point of ignoring messages of hope, and areas of pain like family went through?

I’ll keep it up because people like Curt need me to talk to while in Iraq, individuals like Sean are going through sexual gender issues that he hasn’t been able to get help with as he struggles with his faith and his sexual identification. I will keep on because people like Jesse allows God to use him in such a way as I can still be helped and know I am loved by some of the good churches and loving Christians out there, unfortunately very few. I will keep on because people like Mary understand while she goes through abuse at home. I will keep on because people like William know how much friendship means to them. I will keep on because people like Jenny pass along things like videos where she knows God is helping her, and wants to share that with me. I will keep on for these and multitudes of others that email me, call me, talk to me on a daily basis but I will also keep on because I know what God has called me to do, despite the difficulty of that calling.

Would I like to be at Winfield this week and through the weekend? More than you will ever know. Will I be there? Not unless a miracle happens. Does that hurt? More than you will ever know? Do I blame God? Heck no! God is the one who gave the ultimate act of love, his son. God has what he has for me, I just wish that when it came to the prayers, the love, the concern, the action for those less fortunate that the church would realize she has failed more than she has succeeded. I struggle with this because the church is not a building, it is a people. Unfortunately it has become an organization for many, and in that, the needs of the next door neighbor whose name they don’t even know, continues to go unmet. I know, because I know me and I have a feeling I am not too much different than others.

I have hope though, I have hope that those of us who can relate can grow strong in our concern and compassion for each other. I have hope because I know our numbers are growing and we can’t take much more. I have hope because God is the author of all hope.

My challenge for each of us, what do we say God says? Do you know the name of your neighbor to the right, and the one to the left, how about the one in the front of rear? If not how can you love God who you can’t see, while you don’t even care enough about your neighbor that you see many days a week? Do you love enough to help, whether it be a ministry like The Virtual Pew, or a missions group like Compassion International? How can you say you love when ministries like The Virtual Pew are dying every day because of the lack of support? How can you say you love when ministries like Compassion International has children who go hungry every day when you could for pennies a day provide such a high quality of life? I am not just singling out these two ministries, there are others, it don’t take long to find them, but if you don’t have the time, I just named two, are you willing to show where the true measure of ones faith is shown, by your pocket book and your calendar?

Here is a passage of Scripture to think about, I think about it today because I personally know my own needs, and the needs of this ministry.

If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God. Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it. 1 John 3: 17, 18

Now I challenge you to watch this video. The song was sent to me by another friend who I believe values this ministry. She asked me to write on it and here is the perfect time. Is it the story of a young girl, or the story of the Church? Today, I saw it as a metaphor of the church. Watch it and see if you agree. A beautiful song titled Does Anybody Hear Her by Casting Crowns. If you see the video, just double click, if you don’t click on the link provided.

Here is what I am missing out this weekend, I know, I need a little violin. I do have hair now so that much is better.

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