17 February 2011

Duty is Doody

(Title shamelessly stolen from Tim Darnell via Pam "The Fence" Rose)

Most of my life, I've heard about duty. It's ingrained into most of us. It's everywhere. Ubiquitous. Inescapable. "Do it. It's your duty."

But duty, it turns out, is a poor substitute for something else. It's a tolerable emergency backup plan. The real motivator, the thing that makes a difference, isn't duty. It's love.

Duty says I don't leave the sinking ship unless everyone else is off. Love says I do everything in my power to get everyone else off before the ship sinks, and to safety.

Duty says you paid for a concert, I'll play songs reasonably well for two hours. Love says I'll pour my whole self into this, and by the time it's over we'll all go home exhausted, drenched in sweat and joy.

Duty says I will defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Love says I will do all in my power to make this country the best place possible to live.

Duty says I'll fix your car. Love says I'll make it like new, only a little faster, with better gas mileage, and I'll top off the fluids as a bonus.

Duty says I will raise my kids to make it on their own. Love says I will pour into them what I have to help them find their destiny and have the best life possible.

Duty says I'll teach what the curriculum says to teach, and maybe you'll learn something. Love says I will do all I can to make this interesting and practical, and make sure you know it and why it matters.

Duty says I'll stay married to my wife. Love says I'll make sure we enjoy our marriage to the fullest.

Duty says I'll enforce the letter of the law. Love says I care about what the law means, and will try to apply it fairly and with grace wherever possible, reserving the weight of the law only for when it's truly needed, but will use all of that weight when needed to protect someone.

Duty says, "I made you. I'm responsible for you. If you don't screw up you have a chance." Love says, "I'll come live with you, heal you, forgive you, die in your place, and-- if you want-- dwell inside you, perfect you, and we'll have an awesome time forever."

When you can't find the love, and something simply has to be done, by all means use duty to keep going, but find that love as soon as possible. The longer you depend on duty, the more of a habit it becomes, and the more like a machine you become. Machines don't seem to have a whole lot of fun.

"Love will get you through times of no duty better than duty will get you through times of no love!" -The Fabulous, Furry, Faith Brothers

14 February 2011

No Hormones, No Drugs, Just a Dream. Right?

I'm going to bare my soul a bit here. A part of me isn't sure that's a good idea in public, but here we go. Hopefully it will help someone. If you wants to get judgmental, that's between you and God, and you'ld find something to dislike about me, anyway. God didn't call me to normalcy. I'm finally comfortable with that.

God had spoken to me before, but it had generally been personal. Prophets were other people, not me (if they existed). The prophetic gifts (if they still existed) were for others, or if for me, would come many years later when I was no longer a young Christian. I kind of longed for them, but was usually just fine with that (if it ever happened) being off in the future.

Then I had... The Dream. (ominous music)

If you've ever had a God dream, you know it. It's not just the vividness. It's not just the impact it makes. It's not just that it's unshakable. It's not just that you know you have to do something with it. You just know. Or at least I do. Even that first one.

In the dream (which was extremely real as mine usually are) I was walking through the house one of our pastors and his wife shared with several women in the church. I was talking with one of these women-- let's call her Arwen (Not Her Real Name). She was wandering through the house and I was following her as we talked. She was stark naked. At the time this seemed perfectly normal (and trust me, in real life this would have been so abnormal as to make me think I was dreaming).

Arwen started into her room as the conversation ended. But just after she went in, she leaned back out of the doorway and said, "Miles, I need a man." Then she went back in, closed the door, and I woke up.

My first reaction was that this was some form of attack or flashback to my drug daze, and to promptly forget it, as actively as possible. That proved utterly impossible. Not because I was thinking about how Arwen looked, not because I thought I was the man, but because of all that stuff I said earlier about God dreams. Arwen could have been a woolly mammoth, and the dream would have impacted me the same way. (For the record, she was very pretty and only 3-4 years older than me. That wasn't an issue. That's another way to recognize a God dream, by how it affects you.)

The problem, however, was that I had an overwhelming conviction that I needed to tell Arwen about the dream. And that's where her nudity in the dream became a problem. We attended a holiness church, and we were serious about it. I knew we didn't burn people at the stake or stone people, but I was pretty sure we would revive the emotional equivalent. So I tried really, really hard to forget the dream, or at least deny the voice telling me to tell Arwen.

After a few weeks of not being able to do anything at church but hold onto the pew in front of me in white knuckled agony, I realized I had no choice. The following week as service was starting, I asked Arwen out into the hall. Making sure nobody else was around, I told her my dream. She listened attentively, without any apparent judgment. (My cheeks felt like they were bursting into flames!) When I finished she stood there quietly for a minute while I cringed.

"Thank you, Miles. I've been really struggling with wanting a boyfriend, and whether I should date someone, and I've been praying about it, and this is my answer. And don't be embarrassed about the clothes; that was because I've bared my soul to God. It's part of the confirmation." And with an angelic smile, she went into the service.

Within a few weeks she started dating Aragorn (Not His Real Name). Within a year they were married. I don't claim credit for that, but I do know that God chose to involve me in the process, and that it helped me at least as much as it helped them.

One thing I theoretically should have done differently was have someone else-- preferably a mature female with discernment-- there (not knowing how Arwen would react, or if she would need to talk with someone else). But there is no way on Earth I could have done that with anyone else present, unless maybe-- just maybe-- if Jesus had decided to take on the form of humanity again right there on the spot.

I didn't know Arwen real well, but I knew her enough to trust that if I were wrong, she'd let me know, and she would also keep it between us. That made it a safe environment, and if anyone ever needed a safe environment to test the prophetic waters, I did!

And you know what? While not everything God has given me to say since then (whether in a dream or not) has been easy, it's all been easy in comparison!

01 February 2011

Safe Haven

When Bill Johnson was at CotH recently, he spoke of God raising up "houses of hope for the hopeless" and of spiritual parenting. (As you know, the latter has long been near and dear to my heart.) I'm not sure exactly what Bill was envisioning when he spoke of houses of hope, but that is an excellent description of something else God has called me to.

We keep coming across refugees-- Christians struggling to hope, spiritually homeless, either burned out or hurt by churches (or feeling that way). These are folk who have been out of church for a while, people basically afraid to go back to church.

So several of us are starting the Refuge, a House of Hope. This will be a safe place, part spiritual homeless shelter, part halfway house, part short term church home. The goals are:

  1. to love people back to health in a restored relationship with Daddy God;
  2. to help people see themselves as God sees them;
  3. to help them forgive any who they feel hurt them;
  4. to help them get back into a long term church home.

God has already brought others with like visions to help with this, and provided a home to meet in. The timing is typical God-- while this has been on my heart for a couple of months, in mid-December I realized that as we visit bodies in the area we are not only forging or reviving relationships, but we are gaining understanding of the gifts, callings and personality of each body. This means that when people are ready to plug in, we don't just say, "OK, go find a home", but can provide starting points where they will feel comfortable.

If you're in need of a safe haven, feel free to contact me!