Tuesday, December 31, 2013

If I must grow old -

"worse than verse" for a new year . . .

If I must grow old,
May I do so by my love's side.
Oh I'm not sure which of us may fare better,
When the other has died.
But as for me, I hope I go first,
And that's no lie.

I'm a "burn & scatter" guy,
Please don't think me morbid,
But don't waste good land,
With me old dead body, stiff & torpid.

Yes, scatter me ashes in the grand Pacific,
For that to me would be absolutely terrific!
I'm headed for a better land, and
In that HOPE, for now, I stand.


God's Word is Perfect -

Man's interpretation is not. So Christ Jesus came to reveal "the way, the truth and the life." Not only that, but redemption, reconciliation and adoption into the family of God; Father, Son & Spirit. The Living Word, even Christ Jesus is also perfect then in fulfilling the law and the prophets even unto death; the perfect propitiation, the Atonement (at_one_ment) of sin on behalf of the Holy Trinity, the Father and His children. These things are not revealed by or in man, but are the work of the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father sent at The Son's request on our behalf to reveal the Truth, even the mystery of the Word made flesh. So then, what are we to make of the interpretations of men? They tend more to cause division and disunity among the "elect", and because of that, to cause others to disdain or turn away from life in Christ, and the Church. Predestination, transubstantiation, penal substitution and more are terms coined by and interpretations revealed by man, not God. They serve more as stumbling blocks along the Way rather than guideposts or cairns. So God has given us Fatherly advice; "test them all, hold on to what is good," and of course the Spirit is our Counsel in that regard. As for the notion of predestination, a Calvinist reformation idea, if God is indeed Sovereign then of course He knows who will choose (free will is a truth too) His Christ, the Way. However, that does not mean we have no part in His Kingdom and the lives of His children. The truth is we are His instruments of love, grace, mercy and salvation to one another, to those who will choose; to the elect and the others as well. We don't know the mind of God nor those He foreknows, so our commission from His Son is simply to go and proclaim His Truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ; first and foremost with our lives, then when necessary with words that the Spirit gives for that time, person(s), and purpose. And fear not, God will provide those words if we are obedient in our surrender and submission. As for all the other doctrine, dogma and laws of man, they are best seen as "nonessential" and to be treated with charity and grace, while we as His Body hold in unity the essentials of our Faith in Christ Jesus. "The disciple whom Jesus loved", the Apostle John, gave us this wise exhortation, (1 John 4:1) "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." Yes, even Christ Himself told us, (Matthew 10:16) "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." It is the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, that enables us to do so. You may ask if I'm "Calvinist", maybe to some extent. What about Arminian, again to some extent. But I prefer, I choose to emphasize for myself and in my life to hold the central tenets of faith in Christ, those things which unify us; Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and all the Protestant denominations alike. The "final" word: Revelation 21:1-8 Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.’ Christus Primatum Tenens . . . and to God be the Glory!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

out with the old, in with the new . . .

“The end of one year is a good time to reflect in silence and solitude in order to fuel heart, mind, soul and body for the new one that approaches.”  }:-  anonemoose

December 29
PSALM 23    GENESIS 5:21-24    REVELATION 3:1-6
As I sit here and try to rethink and meditate on what I have written about the poustinia, I honestly wonder if I can say 'Amen' just yet. My purpose was to explain the poustinia vocation as found in Russia, in my own life and in the life of the Madonna House. But, when you come right down to it, the poustinia is not a place at all - and yet it is. It is a stage, a vocation, belonging to all Christians by baptism.
It is a vocation to be a contemplative.
There will always be 'solitaries', or should be. But the essence of the poustinia is that it is a place within oneself, a result of baptism, where each of us contemplates the Trinity. Within my heart, within me, I am or should be constantly in the presence of God. This is another way of saying that I live in a garden enclosed where I walk and talk with God (though a Russian would say 'where all in me is silent and where I am immersed in the silence of God'). It's as if I were sitting next to God in complete silence, although there are always many other people around. (Like a husband and wife being in a private silence and solitude even though they are at a party and the room is filled with people.)
How stumbling words are! How inadequate the similes! Yet the poustinia is something like this to me: a state of contemplating God in silence.
December 30
PSALM 39:1-3   
The poustinia is within, and one is forever immersed in the silence of God, forever listening to the word of God, forever repeating it to others in word and deed. Thus everything that I have said about the physical poustinia, about trying to adapt it to the West, can be said about every Christian everywhere. The poustinia is this inner solitude, this inner immersion in the silence of God. It is through this inner, total identification with humanity and with Christ that every Christian should be living in a state of contemplation. This is the poustinia within oneself.
I don't know if all this makes any sense. It does to me. It is only in identifying with Christ, it is only by plunging into the great silence of God within myself that I can love others and identify with them.
It is by listening to the great silence of God, and having this strange, passive dialogue in which I become aware of the silence which is the speech of God - it is only by listening to this that I am able to speak to my brother. It is only by listening to this silence that I can acquire the ingenuity of love, the delicacy of Christ in my human relationships.  In this silence I become identified with Christ, I acquire a listening heart.
December 31   John Wycliffe (see p. 142)            
PSALM 97:1-6   EXODUS 3:1-6  ACTS 2:1-11, 16-21
The poustinia is a state of constantly being in the presence of God because one desires Him with a great desire, because in Him alone one can rest. The poustinia is walking in this inner solitude, immersed in the silence of God. My life of service and love to my fellowman is simply the echo of this silence and solitude.
Inwardly I identify myself with God and with humanity. Jesus Christ Himself conducts me into this inner silence, into that solitude which speaks so loudly to the Father under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Now I am immersed in the Trinity, in the fire of the silence of God (for the silence of God is always fire; His speech is fire). Now I become as one on fire with love of Him and of all humanity across the world. Now it is not I who speak. I speak what God tells me to speak. When my immersion into this immense silence has finally caught fire from His words, then I am able to speak. I can speak because His voice is sounding loudly and clearly in my ears, which have been emptied of everything except Him.
Now only His name is on my heart, constantly; it has become my heartbeat.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another place to find PnP; da Moose's Fb page


Career & Calling

“Your career is what you’re paid to do. Your calling is what you’re made to do.” Howard Hendricks
"Only when you discover the joy of your calling will you find the meaning of life. Next time you are tempted to ask someone what they do, consider instead asking them what they’re passionate about. Instead of askingthem what they’re paid to do, help them discover what they’re made to do." Dan Axtell
Now granted, you may be "lucky" (blessed) enough to have them both be the same, but most of us will have our "tent making business" to support us and our calling to support others. Your calling is God's plan for your life, and it may change with the seasons as you "grow" in His grace, so seek first His Kingdom and everything else will be taken care of. }:-)

I recall the time a prominent (older) attorney asked me what I did? When I answered; husband, father, Sunday school teacher and youth sports coach, he became perturbed with me and said, "No! What do you really do?!" I answered, "That is what I do, that's who I am. My career just supports it." I don't think he ever really "got it?!"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Irish or Scot?

Scots/Irish or Ulster Scots
If we look back into history, we may find that many of us were Irish before we were Scots? It's a complicated thing this Gaelic/Celtic heritage. We were also likely all Orthodox or even Roman Catholic before we became Presbyterian or Anglican. From Dal Riada to Pictland with Norse influence our origins are very mixed.
We were often "family" or at least collaborating and cooperative clans. And yes, we also often fought and killed each other, and mostly too often spurred on by others with their own motives and aims of power and greed.
Had we understood better, we may have helped avoid wars and "The Troubles". The best we can do now is recognize our heritage and be agents of Peace; among ourselves yes, but globally too. Indeed we are and always have been warriors, but the "olive branch" is better than the claideamh to wield these days.
Beannacht De ort!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Clan to tribe . . .

From Clan to Tribe – The Story of a Celtic Lakota Family

The Watters family, the name meaning “They that dwell by loch and sea”, originally lived on the western islands and the highlands of Scotland.  Belonging to a sept (smaller family group) of Clan Buchanan or possibly Forbes, the families were farmers and fishermen under the protection and leadership the clan chief.  It is likely but nearly impossible to prove that the family was descended from the Dalriada kingdom of the 5th century.  Even now, the Watters are predominantly found in areas that coincide with the original Gaelic kingdom that was part of the Ulster region of Ireland and the Highlands and Isles of Scotland.  Being in the upper highlands and islands afforded some security during the 18th and 19th centuries, the land and climate being somewhat inhospitable and troublesome for travelers.  These people subsisted on a diet largely of potatoes and whatever vegetables might grow in the rocky soil, as well as whatever the sea would begrudgingly give up.  Life was extremely simple and often just plain “extreme.”

Faith had always been a mainstay of strength and community for our family and others.  The old Celtic church established by monks, (Patrick, Columba and others), was critical to the life being and morale of people who struggled to eke out a living in this country.  As time and seasons would pass, this faith would play a continual role in the life of the family.  Especially, as oppression and tyranny caused the family to uproot themselves and journey to other lands and places.

The 18th century finally brought insecurity to our family in the form of the notorious and often barbaric Highland Clearances.  Without going into detail in this brief history, the Clearances were England’s answer to dealing with troublesome clans, and also, to introduce sheep to the highlands to bolster their woolen industry.  Lowland clansmen were even utilized by the government to drive out, burn out and brutally displace the highland families and clans.  There are many general accounts of all this mayhem and where all the surviving families fled to, but there are always exceptions to generalities throughout history.

For the most part, the Watters family fled the highlands to either the outer islands or across the sea to Ireland, settling on the north shores in what is known as County Antrim. Also, many Watters were already in Northern Ireland (Ulster) so this was not “hostile” territory for those from Scotland.  Many others emigrated to North America and Oceana (Australia & New Zealand) at the same time.  James Watters (this author’s great, great grandfather) and Ann Lowery were wed there and started their family, continuing in the pattern established by generations before them; farming and fishing.  Dates and details of the Watters family are very difficult, if not impossible, to find.  Ship’s manifests and the occasional recorded birth, death or marriage document are often the only evidence of where and when the family turned up in places.

It wasn’t long before another “clearance” of sorts would cause the Watters to once again seek freedom and safety from oppression.  The English weren’t satisfied with colonizing just the highlands, but also earlier (17th century) wanted to displace troublesome Gaelic peoples in favor of bringing industry and colonists to the Ulster regions of Ireland.  While Scot/Irish Presbyterians were not necessarily persecuted as were Roman Catholics during this time, it was clear that troubles (“Troubles”) were to come from these occurrences.  These actions once again included military operations in what is now Northern Ireland.  Suffice to say, James Watters did not want to stick around for the potential destruction and death that seemed to be coming once again.  Making their way to a port, the family secured steerage on a ship bound for Philadelphia in the hopes of connecting with other Celtic families that fled earlier to America.

James and Ann settled in Alleghany County Pennsylvania after a short stay in Philadelphia.  Farming was good and the family prospered.  During this time, my great grandfather, Samuel, was born.  Again, there is not much in the way of detail about our particular family in Pennsylvania, but other histories give a very good indication of how life looked during this time in the history of the United States.  Samuel apparently thrived in this new world environment, and developed an also apparent penchant for exploration and adventure.  He eventually left Pennsylvania and traveled northwest to Minnesota, where he became employed as a fur trapper for either the Hudson Bay or Northwest companies, again, details are sketchy but those were the two major companies employing trappers.   French, Irish, and Scots made up the bulk of the work force at that time.  Like many other trappers, Samuel “took up with” a Native American woman, which was not only convenient for surviving in the land, but also brought valuable connections with the native population in terms of business propositions.  Eventually, Samuel and Isabel Marshall (her English name) were wed and started their own family.  At this time, (early 1800’s,) the Lakota people were happily entrenched as a woodland people, enjoying hunting, fishing and gathering, while also engaging in the occasional skirmish with the neighboring Ojibwe tribe.

It wouldn’t be long, however, before yet another sort of “clearance” would threaten the Watters family.  Now, a little cultural history on Lakota family is probably necessary here?  The Lakota people had a somewhat matriarchal society, not so much that women were in charge, but that whenever a man married, he became part of the wife’s tribe/family.  Tribes usually consisted of several family groups led by a chief, hence the “clan to tribe” transition of my family.  During this time, settlers were pushing westward seeking their own “manifest destiny”.  And, often the settlers were accompanied by government military forces who would establish forts in the frontier.  The forts provided protection and a sort of town where people could gather, obtain goods and services, and in general maintain a sense of community.  Needless to say, the native population was often a hindrance to this new colonization westward.  All sorts of “arrangements” and coalitions were established between various people groups; unfortunately for the Lakota these coalitions didn’t include them.  Eventually, the Lakota people sought another place to live in peace, and this saw them leave Minnesota traveling southwest into the Dakota territories.  Samuel and his family were part of this migration, at least what little evidence that exists seems to lend credence to that movement?  (Later evidence such as death certificates and gravestones would provide further hints to the movement of the family.)

During the time of life on the Great Plains, the Lakota nation thrived.  The new lifestyle of hunting and moving with the great Buffalo herds seemed to suit them well.  Horses added another advantage to the growing nation of tribes, and the often glamorized life of the Indians began to be developed among white America.  Sadly, the “good days” of the Buffalo and plains life would also be short-lived for the Lakota and our Watters family.  Further westward movement of settlers and forts (cavalry) continued to desecrate both the land and the indigenous people; disease, massacre of the North American Bison (Buffalo), and environmental damage (yes, believe it or not it had already started,) among other things.  The government felt compelled to intervene on behalf of settlers and deal with the “Indian uprisings”.  Again, I won’t belabor that history here, but suffice to say our family was once again feeling the need to move.

Establishment of reservations (areas of isolation for the various tribes) by the government heralded a clear signal to Lakota leaders that something must be done.  Several skirmishes among cavalry and Indians alarmed Washington and prompted further escalating military intervention.  Notable among these campaigns was Custer’s debacle at the Little Bighorn River (the Greasy Grass our people call it.)  While Lakota people did have some effective efforts against the government troops, it was clear to all Native American leaders that they could never outlast the numbers and force of the government.  Most leaders chose to comply with treaties and move their people to reservations, (which sadly was the beginning of “social genocide” of Native American culture and people.)  Our family chose to flee to Canada with other Lakota, accompanied by Cheyenne tribes.  Sitting Bull, chief of the Hunkpapa tribe of Lakota, had made this choice while Crazy Horse (a relative and also chief of the Oglala tribe) finally decided to stop fighting and return to the reservation, (he was later tragically murdered there.)

In Canada, the government had taken a much more amicable approach to native populations, ceding large tracts of land and granting citizenship to their indigenous tribes.  This looked like a very good choice for the Lakota, but the Canadian government took the position that only existing indigenous Canadian tribes could be granted this status.  Once again, my family was a people without a country.  Staying in Canada was useful for a time, but Lakota people wanted to be with other families (tribes), and eventually Sitting Bull decided to return to the reservations, and many different tribes followed.  Sadly, this choice would also end Sitting Bull’s life in similar fashion to Crazy Horse.  This became a critical turning point for my family.

My young grandfather, James, chose to return with some Lakota back to the U.S. via Montana (west of the path of other tribes.)  Those Lakota joined cousins of the Assiniboine tribe at the Fort Peck Agency in northeastern Montana.  This was also a time of deeply emotional decisions by members of our family.  Samuel Watters chose to take his family and separately move back to Minnesota. Details of that move and whatever happened to he and his family are once again scarce, except for a death record of Samuel in Ottertail, Minnesota.  His son, James, on the other hand decided that he must begin to hide his Lakota heritage if he wanted to own land and have a future in America.  James met and married Eliza Coffey, an Irish woman whose family lived in that area of Montana at the time.  James homesteaded near the intersection of the Missouri River (Big Muddy) and Milk River.  There they raised their family of eleven children, farming and hunting (but all the while being very cognizant of hiding any Lakota connections.)  The children were an interesting mix of clearly Lakota looking people (much like James), but also with fair skinned and even some red-headed ones!  When asked about the darker character of some members of the family, James explained that we were descended from “black Irish” lineage.  The ruse worked and my family thrived in the Fort Peck area, but never associated with relatives on the reservation there.  Some of my uncles even went so far as to deride “the lazy Indians on that reservation.”

Anyway, fast forward to all of my father’s family getting older, going away to college, starting their own families and moving to one coast or the other, (Montana winters had taken their toll on their collective psyches.)  Many of us ended up in Sacramento, California, and life went on for the Watters, the Irish Watters.  The only conflicts of note were the occasional bout between the Protestant and Catholic sides of the family, but those usually boiled over harmlessly, (unlike things back in Ireland.)  Most of the families gathered every summer back in Montana to visit the grandparents and Uncle Arvie (the sole member who stayed on to ranch and farm.)  Us kids spent those summers hunting, riding horses, learning how to drive the farm trucks, working the harvest and more.  I always recall the “tack room” my Uncle Arvie had on his farm.  It was loaded with the most wonderful collection of leather goods; saddles, bridles and more.  And, there were many handcrafted bows and arrows among the weaponry in that room.  I suppose I should have suspected some Indian connection in my family, what with all the prowess in hunting and horseback skills, but again, no one in the family ever brought up Indians in conversation.  Then, one summer when we were much older, and apparently with the blessing of my now very old grandfather (James), my own father pulled out an old sepia tone photograph of a Lakota woman.  The resemblance to my grandfather and my own father and a couple of his brothers was uncanny.  It was then that I first knew of our Lakota heritage, and yet still it was a secret between my father and me.  Sadly, the family still harbored fears of being “found out”, even though at this point it would not have mattered.   I guess my father felt a deep need to recognize this heritage with me?  We had done Boy Scouts for many years, and my father always emphasized the Indian lore aspect of Scouting.  In fact, we both joined the Order of the Arrow, a subgroup of Boy Scouts dedicated to Native American culture.  His own skills as a Lakota warrior became very apparent; horse whisperer, wonderful worker of leather and natural materials, an amazing hunting eye and skill.  That time passed too quickly for me, and especially for him.  I went on to playing football and forgot all about those Order of the Arrow days.

Fast forward again, I have raised my own family and “retired” from regular work.  All the years of being a park ranger, environmental biologist and father now seemed to be speaking to me of something deeper in my spirit.  I had also become a Christian in the truest sense, a disciple of Jesus.  That new identity seemed to be calling me to look back, to seek my roots.  This new journey led to expanding our family tree, which had been mistakenly “altered” at the point of Samuel and his alleged wife in that tree.  Thus this story was born, and it has given me a deeper understanding of who I am, not only as a Lakota Celtic, but as a follower of Jesus, and through Him of the Great Mystery, the Holy Trinity.  It has given me a loving and compassionate attitude for other people groups and religions; it has made me a better person.  I realize I am on a journey with still more seasons to experience, but now the journey has a destination, even if I don’t know where the next step leads.  I have found purpose, God’s purpose, in my life as a disciple.  I have found identity in my heritage as a holy man (shaman, priest, etc.) but also as a heyoka (clown in the Lakota sense.)  Henri Nouwen would call it “wounded healer”, or one who takes his own story and struggles, and uses them to give comfort and healing to others.  Not that I have “arrived”, but I have a more clear path . . . the Narrow Road, the Good Red Road of Jesus Christ.  From Patrick and Columcille, to Nicholas Black Elk and Crazy Horse, I have found relatives and spiritual mentors from the past who continue to “speak” to me today.  They point me to the Way, they affirm my path and guidebook, the Bible, and they join me in the Journey.

Mitakuye Oyasin, Bennacht De Ort, (“All My Relatives” in Lakota and “God Bless You” in Gaelic, the language of the Celtic peoples)

Patrick Perching Eagle Watters, Lakota and Celtic

[Among resources that have provided both physical and spiritual “evidence” for this story are; Nicholas Black Elk – Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic by Michael F. Steltenkamp, and Stories of the Celtic Soul Friends – Their Meaning for Today by Edward C. Sellner.  These two books, among other written forms, have been instrumental in seeing my family history in a spiritual light, as well as providing some vital physical history.]

NOTE: updated and revised to correct some errors and inconsistencies – Oct 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Moose "vision quest" aka walkabout . . . a reply to da Bear

Ha ha, yea, well ya know da Moose, likes to go on "walkabouts" once in a while.  This one may be a bit longer?  I'm on a "vision quest" as my Lakota relatives would say, a pilgrimage as the Celts call it, and part of the experience is to "prepare" by going very "simple" in many ways; technology, etc. included.  This will likely be about six months, culminating with three weeks in Scotland and Northern Ireland searching for ancient family and Gaelic roots there.  Been studying up for about four years on this, made many "connections" there, going by myself with my wife's (and my deceased Mom's support, my little sister too) encouragement and blessings.  "May the road rise up to meet me and the wind be always at my back," as they say.  You're welcome to "share" this with others if you wish, e.g. on the Mustang sites on Fb, but of course that's up to you.  Stay warm during hibernation this winter, see you in the spring.

da Moose

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Church "membership"?

Church membership-
The good thing about a challenging message or teaching is that if we react gracefully it will drive us to God's Word and the Spirit's Truth. We will seek out wise counsel and humbly consider the application to our own lives.
Here is a good and thoughtful word on an area we've been personally wrestling with lately. I also just really like the "banner"; title, sheep photo and Scripture verse.
Sometimes, as in the Lutherans and Catholics in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, you may also head across town to "get a second opinion." ;-)
Here are some "measured" wise words on the same subject (names, etc. deleted to "protect the innocent"):
"It should not be more difficult to be a member of a particular church than to be a member of the Church. Confess with your mouth, believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, and you're in! No other hoops!"
Romans 10:5-13
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]
John 14:6-7
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [from a friend & Brother]
Now that said, there are practical reasons for "membership" per sé in the local church and/or denomination, even though no Scriptural direction exists:
"To start, the simple answer is that denominations are a man-made system which has done some great good for advancing the Kingdom while also causing deep divisions among the Church. The Bible does not prescribe denominations. It also does not describe denominations. There is no authority from God to advocate for them. The Text is silent and so we must be careful not to be too dogmatic. If God didn't tell us it's important, we shouldn't make it too important. It may be good, but it's not essential. Here's the best wisdom I've ever heard on the topic: While on the elder board in _______, we were discussing changing our church constitution regarding membership. We had several men from South Africa who were raised in a Reformed Church and baptized as infants in their church but never as adults with believers baptism. Our constitution required believers baptism for full membership and allowed associate membership for those who had been baptized as infants. Associate members could not serve on the elder board. The thinking was, if we are a baptist church, one of our greatest distinctives is believers baptism by immersion. If men got on the elder board who didn't think this was important they could change the constitution and allow infant baptisms. To protect the church, some dear men of great faith and character were not allowed to be full members. It was not causing peace in the congregation. Some said, let the Reformed guys and their families get baptized again with believers baptism. What's the big deal? And yet it was a big deal. A couple of them had done this and it caused a lot of problems for them back at home when relatives found out that they'd been re-baptized. It sent a message home that their baptism from their childhood was not effective.
While we discussed around and around, back and forth one guy finally spoke up with a bit of frustration in his voice and said, "I just can't understand how we are ok with telling people that they are not qualified to be members of our church even though we all agree they are members of God's family." The truth of that statement has never left me. It's simple. If God welcomes them as His Church, why wouldn't we welcome them into our church? Should we be more exclusive than God? Should our church be more difficult to enter than the Kingdom of Heaven? That was the end of the conversation at our church. We changed the membership to include anyone who was in agreement with the mission, vision, statement of faith and had made a confession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. If these two things were evident, all that was required was a written or verbal statement of desire to become a member. (Where there is graceful) membership, it's meant to encourage, not divide. We must have some way to take church votes on things like the budget, so membership defines who gets to vote. But whether you are an attender or a member, we treat you the same as family. Elders must be members and so must deacons. Greeters and worship team people and children's team people, adult education, prayer team, etc. can serve without being members. They must only be recommended by their Team Lead which is the term we use for deacons. Denominations are kind of like family names. They can serve a good purpose for giving you a family that looks after you and gives you an identity. But if you let the carnal man have his way, family names and denominations become the occasion for wars of all kinds. God wants the church to be one as the Father and Son are one (John 17). As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. If He says we should be one, I know what my priority is." [from another friend & Brother]
I guess for us the "bottom line" is did we come in sacrificial love and caring, in obedience to Christ? Have we continued in that attitude? If so, then we are "family" and others who know us and have experienced personally that commitment will affirm our "membership" in the love of Christ. We may not be "official" members in the voting and/or denominational sense, but we are indeed family in Christ Jesus. Obedience to Christ and through Him to the Father and the Holy Spirit must be the governing priority.


I've had many friends and  acquaintances lately who seem compelled to defend the "prosperity gospel" ministers and others who seek to become wealthy through their "ministries".  Too often they and those they defend either twist Scripture to justify their lifestyles, or simply ignore God's Word on the matter.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jesus came to reveal the Father and speak His Truth . . .

So, why do we "children of God" continue to add to the Gospel our own dysfunctional rules?!


Friday, August 23, 2013

The thistle and the shamrock -

Not a nation, but a people and a land.  Native people (Polynesians, American 
"Indians", etc.) know what that means.

The buffalo and the bear.

The fire and the sea.

The sun, moon and stars.


The Church vs the church -

Let's get this clear, the Church (capital 'C') is people "built" into a holy 
"nation" by Christ Jesus.  The church (lower case 'c') is an institution of man 
that includes buildings, budgets, programs, paid leaders, etc.  The latter (church) 
should only exist in so much as it supports the Church (Christ's people), otherwise, it 
is worthless to Christ.

Christ's Church exists for the benefit of "non-members."  To be "salt and 
light" for the earth, not to impress more salt or shine light within.  Therefore, 
"Go" is the operative word for the Church (His people).


Saturday, August 17, 2013

"I get no respect!"

I feel like Rodney Dangerfield. My wife asks me if she can scan the Costco app into her iPhone, I say no not on your iPhone 3 but you can just go to the App Store and download it. She complains I don't know what I'm talking about and proceeds to go ask my son who gives her the same answer.
Really?! Yea, more Men o' Pause! I get no respect (spell it out Aretha!), nor appreciation! People outside of my marriage respect and appreciate me more, at least that's how it feels in Men o' Pause?! 😳😜❤

Friday, August 2, 2013

"conditions" or restrictions of man placed on disciples of Christ -

Churches and denominations can and do provide a measure of accountability and safety to congregations, and to the people in those congregations. However, the artificial "rules" and "by-laws" of man can often "quench" the work of the Holy Spirit. It takes discerning pastors and leadership teams to identify and recognize those people and their gifts which should be empowered as "priests", shepherds within the assembly for whom God has plans to benefit all.
Regimental adherence to denominational or local doctrine or rules can and does deprive whole congregations from experiencing all God has for them. Be prudent, yes, but do not quench the Spirit, lest you foster spiritual death rather than transformation.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Beautiful Collision

Okay, here's the deal as the Moose sees it (always dangerous I suppose?!)

Renovare (and others) do a wonderful job of promoting and encouraging spiritual formation and all that entails (spiritual disciplines aimed at transformation into likenesses of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit, and our surrender and partnership.)

Organic, simple church movements and folks (The Emergent Village, Verge Network, and all those other wonderful folks seeking the "Go" that Christ commissioned, the "missional" aspect of following Him) are helping all of us become aware that something is and has been sorely missing in the traditional church (probably since Constantine invited it into a building?!)

The Moose runs (ambles) in both of those larger communities of Christ followers, and I find wonderful fellowship and wisdom there. However, I've come to realize that these two "communities" don't seem to talk to each other?! For my mind, the two need each other to be "complete", as David Crowder (musician) wrote and sang, "A Beautiful Collision", a heavenly "fusion" that will reclaim Christ's Church, His Body as the Holy Trinity makes all things new, even now in the already, not yet of the in-breaking Kingdom of Light.

Now, how does a humble old Moose get the attention of those more "famous" and remarkable people that are "out there"; teaching, speaking, blogging, writing & publishing, putting on conferences . . . etc., etc.?! Please share this with those you know who are either part of the "spiritual formation" community (I hesitate to use the word "movement", because there's only truly been one movement all along and it's leader is Christ Jesus,) and also the emergent, missional, organic, simple church "movements".

Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, Neil Cole, Richard Foster, James Bryan Smith, Rachel Quan, Gary W Moon, Roger Thoman, etal, are y'all listening up in heah?! I love what you all do for His Kingdom and His children. Let's get together and have a beautiful collision. };-)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Do not be surprised or upset -

Once upon a time a wise old man was meeting with another old man who was seeking to become wise.  The two talked about life and God at length.  They also talked much about the "church"; what Christ intended for His Body, and what it has become.

The wiser man offered these humble thoughts on one aspect in particular that was troubling the less wise man, “The other thought I have is this.  My wife was formerly married to an alcoholic for many years who has now passed away.  In learning how to live with this man she used to say: ‘He did exactly what an alcoholic was supposed to do, which was to drink and behave badly.  Until he and the Holy Spirit agreed on some change, it was not my mission to try to change him.  I could only choose whether or not to live with him and, if I chose to live with him, how I wanted to live accordingly with him.’  In the same way, the pastor of an institutional church is often doing what he is “supposed” to be doing when he is controlling, manipulating, self-protecting, defensive, and being fickle in his relationships with those who do not support his vision.  However dysfunctional this is, it should not be a surprise.  If you choose to play in that sand box, fine.  But if there is any hint that you are there to try to change or to help that man or that system to change, you are only creating misery for yourself and him unless the Holy Spirit is at work in Him and he is asking for your help.  The same applies to most of the members of that church.  They are also doing what they are supposed to be doing which is support the system with their tithes and attendance and take, overall, a passive role to ministry.  I will simply speak for myself here when I say that I have to be very careful that I’m not trying to be the Holy Spirit and work where God is not working.  Yes, I have a longing to see ALL believers experience the freedom and joy of “organic” Jesus ministry BUT, I simply do not have the ability to transform anyone and I can only work where He is working.  To do otherwise in the name of trying to help them to change will only bring frustration to me and to them.  I find that those whom God is working in have a way of finding me; I don’t need to be at work trying to change them nor do I even need to be in their sandbox for them to come seek me out.  So, that’s my two cents which I only offer because you asked.  Like I said, take something if it’s helpful and leave the rest.  I do feel for you as these types of situations are never easy!”

The less wise man decided it was time to part ways with his wiser friend, go into his “cell”, and ponder what God might be saying to him about all this?