Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One of Those Posts I Just Have to Write

Hi. Thanks for stopping by. If you are a regular here, I'm delighted; if this is your first stop, then you may want to jump over to one of my blogger buds. I am going to be candid today. I have something that has been brewing inside of me for about 10 years and I have to dump it somewhere. If you choose to stay, well...I warned you.

I'm fed up with organized religion. There, I said it.

I no longer want to be a part of it. I have given my life to it. I was educated and indoctrinated in it. I fought the good fight both here and abroad. I lived it, taught it, bought it, sold it, marketed it, pitched it, played it, and passed it.

I thumped my Bible with the best and worst of 'em. I have preached up and down the east coast and in Mexico. I have share the gospel hundreds of times with all kinds of people. I have laid hands on sick and seen them healed. I have watched people die. I have comforted and mourned with their families. I have performed 32 weddings and way more funerals than I ever would want to. I have baptized over 100 people including my wife and all but one of my children. I have sung hymns and choruses. I have led worship and I have been a worshipper. I have read my Bible through 11 times and studied it in its original languages. I have pastored 3 churches and ministered in prisons and on the streets.

Now, I just want out. It's not real to me anymore. I just can't do it any longer.

The Jesus I know would have called me a hypocrite or a brood of vipers ten years ago. He would have been right. I couldn't live with that, so I changed. I became more compassionate and tolerant. I learned to show grace. When I myself needed grace, there was none, except from the Lord, my children, my family, and the few wonderful friends I still have. Nevertheless, I continued to serve my Lord. There have been bumps in the road for sure.

Recently a man in my church behaved inappropriately toward my wife. When I called him to inquire about this, he hung up on me. I called him back, and left a not-so-gracious message. Now this whole ordeal has become about ME cussing at him on his voicemail and not about how he sought to ruin my marriage. I have been asked by my pastor (and friend for 8 years) to "fly below the radar" for awhile until this blows over. Until WHAT blows over? Me trying to protect my wife and my marriage? Are you kidding me?

I have lost faith in this system of control which is wrongly labeled, "Christianity." It has hurt me for the last time. Ministry has turned me into a bitter person. I am nothing close to the man I was 20 years ago. In some ways that is good. In other ways not. Those who know me best know what I mean.

I'm tired of not being able to be myself because I'm a "minister." I am tired of having to allow people to walk all over me because I have been given some title by the organized flock.

Here's the thing: I am a test technician now. I was a minister, but that was stripped from me after my first marriage collapsed. I have not renounced and will not renounce my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I renounce my part in the lie. What I need right now is a fresh path to walk down. Not a new path. A fresh one. One that has more than the one I have trodden up and down for 25 years now. For 25 years I have read my Bible (almost) daily, prayed, tithed, served, taught, etc. The path is just worn. There is nothing left there for me to discover. God cannot simply consist of those few disciplines of the faith. He can't. If that's all there is, then I'm out because its a sham.

I see people in Darfur who have been driven from their homes. Men are killed, women and children are raped and tortured, and someone in my church is upset because I said "sh_t" on someone's voicemail. And because they are big tithers, I have to stop using my gifts publicly for a season so they won't leave the church. The truth is, they have already left, but if I were to preach again, they wouldn't come back.

I can't take it anymore. I am reminded of a church bulletin blooper: "Don't Let Life Kill You; The Church Can Help." Amen and Amen. After 25 years, the Church organized has slurped the joy of life right out of me.

I suppose it is somehow my fault that my hair is too long and I refuse to wear a coat and tie. I once went to the hospital to visit an elderly widow in my church in Walterboro. I prayed with her, held her hand, and hugged her. I stayed with her over an hour. That night, I received a phone call from the Elder Chairman (this title is in the Bible where...?). He asked me to make sure that I am more appropriately dressed for a hospital visit next time. You see, it was 115 degress that day, and so I wore khaki shorts and a polo shirt. SHAME ON ME! After everything I did, the old widow only mentioned that I wore shorts to see her. (in Yoda's voice) Fed up I am!

So where do I go from here? I dunno. But I'm done with this baloney. I feel like a man without a country, or a rebel without a cause. I feel alone in my ministry misery.

Does this make me sound more like Jesus? Probably not, but I believe I can sorta understand why He asked for "this cup to pass from Me." Yet He chose the path which led to the cross and suffering and death.
Like I said, I am just looking for a fresh path. Assuming you have read this far, would you happen to have any ideas? Thanks for hanging out, and for letting me vent.
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