Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Church or church?

Somewhere along the way while trying to follow Jesus I came to the realization that what church was doing, and what I was doing as part of the church didn't look much like what I saw Jesus doing?!

Though I claimed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Master, things just didn't jibe with His Way?  I had to accept that I needed to embrace a paradigm shift (a holy shift) of monumental, life-changing proportion.

It has not been an easy change to say the least.  Fortunately, the trail has been blazed by others before me.  They have become my new "community in Christ", and I see them as the true Church, the Body of Christ, organically manifested in the world at large.

I have tried with love and Grace to remain in fellowship with Brethren who call the institutional, traditional church their home.  However, I am seen as a rebel, a threat to the status quo, one who "stirs the pot" so to speak.  Some relationships remain strong in the Lord, but others are strained by my passion and willingness to speak up when I sense a wandering from Jesus's "Narrow Way".

I know this is frightening stuff for some, but I've also seen many step out in faith.  The Verge Network and its many collaborators (individuals and groups) are a constant source of encouragement, as well as accountability.  They are not afraid to "question authority" (I'm a "child of the 60's"), and yet submit themselves to God and one another.

When we feel alone and rejected by the status quo church, this community sustains us in Christ Jesus.  The Psalms become our prayer book, as like David, we feel the persecution and oppression of religious authority pressing down on us.  Then too, we recall Paul's "prayer" to the Philippians (4:4-13), and always the Lord's own encouragement recorded in John's gospel.

I sense the church religious is beginning to change, and many within are embracing God's recreation in spite of opposition.  Many pastors and leaders are risking loss of employment and family financial stability to follow Jesus out into the world of "missional communities".  The church is slowly beginning to look like the Church, the Body Christ Jesus had in mind and heart at the beginning.  It may take years of small steps, but as Caesar Kalinowski says, "small is big, slow is fast".

I'm in for the long haul, "a long obedience in the same direction" toward my true Home in God by the Grace of Christ Jesus.  Surrendered and submitted to His "unforced rhythms of Grace"; daily life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, an apprentice in training and training others as He makes more disciples and "builds His Church", one person at a time.  You see, we are not "just another brick in the wall".

}:- ����

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

There IS an answer

There IS an answer to all the brokenness, hatred and violence in our lives and the world.

It is found in God, Who is LOVE, and the Lover of our souls.

Know Jesus, know God - LOVE

It's really that simple, but it requires an intentional and long obedience. Firstly, meet the historical Jesus in the Bible. Study who he was and what he did, what he taught and modeled consistently.
If you follow his lead and leading, the rest of your journey will unfold before you as you do. You will discover next that this human Jesus is mysteriously yet lovingly also the One called the Christ of God; the "second person" of the Holy Trinity that is God (Three in One, One in Three). Yes, much of this journey and its knowledge will seem mysterious and elusive, but I guarantee you that more and more LOVE will be revealed to you as you practice the "long obedience in the same direction" toward God, toward your true Home and identity in the Creator and Lover of your soul.

As you come to know this Christ Jesus more intimately, you will "see" the Father more intimately and clearly as well. Then, you will experience the greatest gift that a human being in this world can receive, the Holy Spirit, the "third person" of the Trinity. When the Spirit "indwells" you, takes up residence within your heart and soul, you now have God within you! (Perhaps the greatest mystery of LOVE that is God.) You are now fully equipped for the rest of your journey. It still requires intentionality on your part, but somehow the way becomes easier, even when great obstacles are encountered, because God has become your strength.

Let me simply recap;
>seek Jesus of the Bible,
>he will reveal God the Father to you,
>they will impart the Spirit to you, within you.
>then continue the journey* throughout all the seasons of life

Do this and you will experience the "abundant life" Jesus promised. You will discover your true identity in God. Though you may still experience the struggles and suffering of a broken world, you will also partner with God in making all things new, heaven and earth. And best of all, that ultimate HOME awaits you at the end of your journey of faith and life.

* The journey involves many different practices, or so-called "spiritual disciplines". Like training for athletics, the disciplines are given us by God to enable us to persevere in the long obedience. Others further along the Way can and will be your personal trainers, we all will or should have them as we journey. As you experience community in the journey, many of these disciplines and trainers will become evident to you. Each person's journey will be a bit different than others in disciplines and experiences, but all have the same goal in mind and heart, HOME in God.

#‎dailyquiettimeislife - Perhaps the most important discipline of all, a daily "quiet time" where you connect and commune with the Source of all life, the Lover of your soul. Patti and I have found this to be the energy, strength, motivation, yes indeed the Source of life for making the journey. This discipline drives all the rest in LOVE.

#‎lukejohnactsromans - "starting blocks" for the journey; Luke, John, Acts & Romans . . .
PnP on the road - a ministry, a life

Monday, June 15, 2015

My life with depression & GAD -

For family's sake and others who may be helped, here is a simple summary of my life living with depression and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder):

> First signs of depression appeared in my senior year of high school (at least that's when I noticed something, but wasn't sure what it was?)  I know my family history of mental illness played a part, I think high school coming to an end and the unknowns of college, etc had an effect on me emotionally.

> I didn't seek treatment, instead turned to alcohol and marijuana while away at college.  Failed out and came home to attend community college.  Had a horrible paranoid anxiety attack, which triggered heightened GAD and associated panic attacks and phobias I had never had before; heights, flying, elevators, claustrophobia.  I continued to struggle with life but did maintain a job and school.  Also got married to a high school friend during this time (a mistake for both us in retrospect).

> During the next several years I graduated and got decent jobs, but still never sought treatment for my illness.  I don't know if it was denial, fear or what?  My father's experiences with bipolar and ptsd probably made me hesitant too?  Eventually the marriage failed, she moved out and I thought I would have a nervous breakdown, "go crazy" and kill myself?!  Instead though some friends got me into running.  I was 28 by now.

> The running turned into an obsessive triathlon and ultramarathon lifestyle.  If I wasn't working, I was training; running about 100 miles a week, cycling about 250, and swimming about 6-7 miles a week.  [The psychiatrist I would later see for my illness said all that exercise must have normalized my brain chemistry?  Apparently, exercise is good for maintaining serotonin levels in the brain?]

> Healthy and happy now at 32 I met my future and current wife and soul mate.  The training curtailed and family life began, but we both continued to run and workout, even with kids.  Eventually though the stress of career and raising family caused some depression symptoms to appear.  My wife convinced me to see a counselor about my anger and irritability.  That wise woman saw the typical symptoms of depression in a man.  She worked with me in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), but also convinced me to see a psychiatrist (MD).  I was resistant (again the fear of being my dad's illness), but the prayers of my wife and others prevailed.

> I'm still seeing my psychiatrist over 20 years later.  We have managed my meds together over that time, with a few adjustments here and there.  I have other things I do to help myself too; walking, faith disciplines, etc.  I have learned much about my illness and how to embrace it as a small part of who I am.  I expect I will continue taking medicine for depression and anxiety for the rest of my life, but I'm totally okay with that, we all should be okay with that.

> I am a happy, content, mostly calm old grandpa these days.  I love my life and family.  I am a man of ever deeply growing faith as well.  My heart overflows with gratefulness and love these days, and my passion is simply to share it with others.

Patrick Watters, aka da Moose, anonemoose, Pops, Papa, Pat

Friday, May 22, 2015

Anam Cara - Everyone

Most of us will never be famous as authors or speakers.  People won't be seeking us out for our wisdom or spiritual direction.  However, everyone one of us not only needs our own personal anam cara (soul friend), but there is at least one other person out there who needs us too.

All the conferences, seminars, books, etc may have their collective worth, but none of it approaches the intimate, nurturing relationship of an anam cara.  The one-on-one place of sanctuary, of safety, is the heart of discipleship in Christ Jesus too.

To be blunt, we all need someone who will lovingly let us bleed and vomit all over them.  This is the way to inner healing of the heart and soul.  This is the intimacy the Lover of our souls intends for each of us, it transcends the world and things of the world, and takes us into the Kingdom of the heavens.  It is where and when we become Christ to one another.

May you find an anam cara, may you be anam cara to another.

�� }:-

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Community - Intimacy - Discipleship -

Lately, I have been experiencing a deeper "hearing" from God in both the quiet, but also in the midst of gut wrenching ministry.  I have tried to capture what He is teaching in these notes below:

Imitating Jesus in discipleship requires intentional hard work.  We cannot nor should not expect to make disciples the way Jesus did.  First of all because of His Divine nature He knew His disciples intimately, more so than we can ever hope to with those we disciple.  Secondly, and again due to His divinity, He could disciple several people intimately, yet at the same time.  So, what are we to do?!

Well to start with we need to recognize there is a cost in obedience that cannot be avoided in discipleship.  If we expect Christ to make disciples, to build His Church through us, we must count the cost, then be intentionally obedient in love and submission to Him.  Yes, there will be learning on our part to establish a knowledge base for "teaching them to obey all I have commanded".  We may participate in programs, systems, etc that help equip us, but there will be a deeper, more time (and heart) consuming cost that is actually the greater progenitor of any success we may hope for.

Do not be mistaken, there can be no true discipleship without intimacy.  And that intimacy for us mere humans is primarily found in one-on-one relationships where trust and safety are nurtured.  There may be moments of intimacy in small groups, but we all know that it is much easier to be vulnerable and authentic with one person in whom we trust and feel safe.  This is the all-important phase that I believe is the heart of true discipleship, but which is also missing from most books, systems, etc of western discipleship. The term my wife and I prefer for this intimacy in discipleship is "anam cara", the Celtic (Gaelic) for soul friends.  It implies a close personal relationship that sits under the headship and love of Christ.

So, where does this leave our churches and pastors?  Well clearly they are where and in whom the process, the journey of discipleship starts.  But recalling "the priesthood of all believers" there is also a clear call to each and every one of us to eventually enter into an "anam cara" relationship with at least one other person.  There may exist within anam cara a mentor/mentee relationship, but Christ is still our teacher and guide.  These relationships will see blessings and growth for both discipler and disciples.

If you are a pastor, you owe it to yourself and Christ to encourage every member of your congregation to seek out their anam cara.  Prayer for God's provision and guidance is of course essential here, and then our active "waiting upon the LORD".  No pastor is capable of being all things to the congregation, and every follower of Jesus must be personally obedient in love to His commands and commission.

This then is where and how Christ will make all things new through His Body, the Church.  This is where and how we personally participate in that divine ushering in of the "already, not yet" Kingdom of God.


#saveyourpastor #blessyourselfandothers

And this too:

Caregiving - "bear one another's burdens"

This is a difficult but JOYful book about a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, yet heavenly ministry.  Where suffering and love is a Cosmic collision, a divine fusion.  }:-


We are all called, or will be, to the ministry of "wounded healer" during our lifetime to at least one other person.

It is indeed difficult and emotionally draining, this heavenly ministry.  No one person should endeavor to enter in without counting the cost, and also never to do so with too many people at once.  This is clearly why we all need each other, and why pastors and counselors burn out and crash.  This is why the Church, the Body of Christ is present in the world, and we must all do our part.

I am reminded of a beloved pastor and Brother who taught a lesson on "burden vs load".  We are taught by Jesus to carry one another's burdens, but there is a "way" to "balance" that burden so it does not become a load we cannot bear.

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Remembering that a yoke is a walking instrument for following (walking with) Jesus.  In this way, our burden remains light as we live out our Lord's teachings from the Sermon on the Mount.

May God speak His Truth and encouragement to you in these reflections from a humble, broken but mending Brother.  }:- ��

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Short Term Missions

I know a lot of people who are not going to "like" this, but it is good sound advice and the truth besides.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Am I an author or a writer?


Well, that didn't really help.  I have written for many different reasons, and I have even published along the way.  So, I guess I'm a writer and an author?  Of course most of the time I'm a storyteller, where does that leave me?

Two books are rather continuous works in progress.  The first and most lengthy is an autobiographical historical fiction project.  A collection of stories (originally improvised and spontaneous storytellings) that have emerged throughout my life from early childhood to today.  The title has changed numerous times, and probably will not eventually be any of those, which will instead be chapter titles.  Currently, the title is "Clan to Tribe" and involves a great deal of research and travel tracing Celtic and later Native American heritage.  Much of the earlier work came under the pen name "Anon E. Moose", or simply "anonemoose", and included short stories from an underground (literally) publication called The Monthly Magpie, published at the Magpie Diggins (Camp Kohler) by Richard Mahler.

The second work is in the spiritual formation genre, working title is "PnP On The Road - A Journey of Hope".  This project didn't start until I reached my thirties; married and raising kids.  It continues alongside the other "memoir" as a compatible complement.  Hmm, who knows, maybe they will eventually be blended into one publication?  However, that will remain someone else's (one of my kids?) responsibilities should they choose to do so?

As I always love to say when people ask me if I'm going to "write a book", "It's being written all the time on the pages of my life."

 };-) anonemoose aka da Moose