Tag Archives: Authenticity

Christianity 2.0

PuppetI’m a terrible Christian – a fact that spiritually speaking has always worked in my favour.

Growing up in the conservative church subculture of south-central Alberta, there was no end to the Jacob’s Ladder a young lad had to climb to attain spiritual maturity. It started with a prayer, combined with the common sense to abstain from smoking, alcohol, movie theatres and pool halls. This was Christianity for Dummies. Hatred for communists, playing cards and Rock ‘n’ Roll showed our elders that we had the potential for something greater.

I could fudge my way through these prerequisites, but after that my spiritual DNA mapping took a detour.

I tried, dammit. My faux-leather Bible cover was stuffed with Sunday School papers. I logged hundreds of humble miles down the aisles of all kinds of churches, my spirit clothed in I’ll-be-a-better-witness sackcloth. It wasn’t long before people started thinking I was enlightened beyond my years, simply because I took to heart the Proverb that says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Lastly, I’d make sure that any reference to the ancient scriptures was followed by the chapter, verse and version from whence it was gleaned.(Proverbs 17:28 ESV, in case you were wondering, with the translation stated in a condescending acronym because true believers don’t need the whole thing spelled out.)

There was one point, though, where I was a total failure: the elusive Quiet Time. I couldn’t get the formula right. All I knew was that it was different for everybody, and to be more than spiritually anemic I needed to find my own perfect combination of Time of Day, Duration and Devotional.

I’ve been a Christian probably longer than half of the world’s population has been alive, and I still haven’t figured it out.

“So,” you ask, “how did this failure to live up to such a foundational discipline work in my favour?”

Easy. I supplemented my lack of dedication with one simple, heartfelt prayer:


It helped to say this often. Over and over. Lots.

The same prayer uttered in less panicked moments has been loosely translated into “God, have mercy”, or even simply a weary sigh of “Oh God” or “Jesus”. It is a reflex prayer, but is nonetheless sincere. An awareness that prior religious works are impotent accompanies this invocation; often a recognition so deep as to be barely acknowledged.

This is the beginning of Christianity 2.0.

In time Jesus becomes everything, as I am reduced to ashes. A quest for the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, self-control and so forth – is laid to rest as I hunger instead for the Spirit alone.

My computer and the apps on my phone seem to need constant updates. The software developers are always adding something to make things go faster or run smoother. It drives me crazy; just give me the real thing! How refreshing it has been to find that upgrading my Christian experience begins with downgrading the religious caca.

The ancient prophet Isaiah wrote, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it…””

Let it be said of us, that we would have ALL of it. If spiritual strength comes through quietness and trust, may my whole life be a Quiet Time.

The Spark

SparkLast night we had a 2 hour time of prayer and worship at our church, with spaces for people to paint, journal, confess, sing, and meditate. I was both humbled and grateful to be asked to prepare and share a piece of poetry, that for me turned out to be a call to worship.

Thought I’d share it with you here…


The Spark

What was it like when you hovered there
Before making land, water, fire, air?
You were ever the glorious one-
Father, Holy Ghost and Son
In eternal communion in the silent dark.
Smiling as you struck the creative Spark,
It almost seems you were discontent;
As if your love was never meant
To be hoarded within the trinity.
Yahweh gave breathe to humanity!

What entered your mind to conceive of us?
Your image reflected in so much dust?
Fearfully and wonderfully made,
We walked with you unafraid.

Until we’d had enough.

Was your heart broken before time began
Anticipating that day we ran
Around looking for something to hide behind?
Yet you searched for us, knowing you’d find
Us covered in shame instead of joy.
Blaming each other, trying to destroy
Any sense of responsibility.
Except that you’re the one who made the tree.

We died that day and gave birth to rage.
Took that and fashioned an iron cage
In a bid to tame your love and power.
Our prayers went cold and hope turned sour.
You gave us over to our hearts desire
Knowing that we had the entire
Thing backwards. It’s for us we crafted chains
Your Spirit untamed remains
Hovering over hearts lifeless and dark,
Ready with another omnipotent spark.

Holy, holy, holy God
Who oversaw creation’s fire
Burn away our religious facade
Make of our pretence a funeral pyre.

This is why we’ve come tonight
To seek you at any cost.
We beg you to reignite
The first love that we have lost.

So please take away our blinders
Whether stained glass or sin-black.
We want to see you once more clearly,
We want the wild back.

Cradles of Grace

I said a long goodbye to my Grandma this weekend, and I can’t help but think that it’s times like these that reveal what we truly believe in.

There isn’t another angel in heaven, and Grandma won’t live on in our hearts. These sentiments, while a valiant attempt to deal with our pain, reflect a belief in nothing at all. If we claim to follow the Christ but our best attempts at comforting the bereaved originate in the script of the latest Pixar movie, there’s a big problem. If that’s all the hope we have to give, we’d best keep our tithe out of the offering plate and invest in Hallmark stocks.

We believe in Jesus, and the resurrection of the dead.

Granted, in today’s society this presents some problems. For example, death is a prerequisite, and that’s just unacceptable. We want all of the “he who believes in me will never die” and none of the “whoever loses his life will find it.” The Bible tells the story of three noble gents who got tossed into a Babylonian furnace because of their convictions. We give lip-service admiration to faith like that, but prefer to be saved from the flames instead of being protected and preserved in the midst of them.

I’m no better. My desire is to be able to write from a place of understanding and strength. Instead, today I come to this ministry world-weary and misunderstood. I’m tired. I want all of the “my power is perfected” but have had quite enough of the “in weakness“, thank-you-very-much.

But that’s where we’re at sometimes, isn’t it?

The good news is that God is here too, and maybe that’s enough.

Crosses, flames, graves, divorce court, doctors’ offices, and even (gasp) the back doors of abortion clinics: the bland and pasty god that we often make in our own image doesn’t belong in places like these. He’d rather stay clean and sanitary up in his stained-glass window.

But to the One True God, the Ancient of Days, these places of failure and death are the cradles of grace. He spoke once through the prophet Isaiah, who wrote,

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.””
Isaiah 57:15 ESV

Hope is born here, when we come to the end of ourselves in the shadow of the crucified Messiah.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3 ESV