Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An American Pastor's 'Coming Out'


I woke up this morning with something on my heart that I must confess. Before you decide whether or not you want to join, follow, pray for, or support the Reverence Movement, I feel that you should know one of my darkest secrets. Let me explain.

You see, when you become a Pastor in the Christian church, here in America, people from both sides automatically assume you’re a legalistic conservative. Before I continue, let's make clear what that means.

Legalism means excessive adherence to law or formula.

Conservative means to hold traditional attitudes and values and to be cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.

If, as a Pastor, you choose to subscribe to those views, you are generally safe in the traditional Christian community around you, but at odds with a majority of the un-churched. However, if you don’t feel that way, you may find yourself alone and with limited support from either side. Many times you end up hiding your feelings out of fear of backlash and condemnation. Probably, the closest I’ll ever get to an understanding of what if feels like to be gay, a Samaritan, a Muslim in America, poor or...Jesus.

Before I go any further and get labeled as a flaming liberal, let me say this; I don’t take sides, I reject that system altogether. The political system in America is as corrupt as it was in the Bible. I'm not an Anarchist, it's just that my faith is not in a president, a congress or legislation from either side. God told Samuel what earthly kings would do (read 1 Samuel 8). His word held true throughout history and is still true today, yet we still we put our faith in earthy kings and presidents. Don’t you see? We are Israel, repeating the cycle that is undeniable throughout God’s word.

I'm not saying "don't vote". Go ahead, educate yourself and vote for the most well rounded candidate, not a party. Then, Christians, pray for whomever takes office, because that job is not easy. What I am saying is, just like in the days of Jesus, religion and politics have joined forces again and the ones that really matter to God have been lost in the mix. We have forgotten that we serve a God whose kingdom cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28). He does not need us to defend Him and He certainly doesn’t need earthly kings and presidents to get His work done. He is God. He's simply inviting us to be His hands and feet.   

When you are an American Pastor or a disciple of Jesus, it seems, for reasons beyond my understanding, that you are expected to play by the rules and be careful not to tamper with church tradition or political leaning. The only problem is, our church traditions look little like Jesus. In fact, they dangerously resemble the traditions of the religious elite and teachers of the law that killed our Messiah and many of the Apostles. Don’t misunderstand me, all churches are not this way. I am speaking to the overall climate of today’s American Church. Because we were once the defendant and now pardoned, our role as Christ followers now is to defend sinners, not judge them. Also to invite people to follow the real Jesus and not leverage our faith for political office. It's worth examining our intentions.  

Since we decided to launch the Reverence Movement in Boulder, CO and invite people back to becoming students of the real Jesus, God is stretching my faith like never before. Even as I am writing this, a homeless man interrupts me and asks for help. I drop everything and spend the next hour walking and talking with him, finding out his needs and praying over how to best serve him. God is making it clear to me that The Reverence Movement is going to be about the interruptions. When it seems I can't get anything done, He's finally able to. 

God is filling my day with the poor, the drug addicted and the skeptics. What they need, initially, is not to be told what they are doing wrong, but just hope. A sprinkle of hope will bring them back for more. Condemnation will assure you never see them again. I'm spent emotionally at the end of the day, but I'm learning more in my short time on the streets of Boulder, CO than I did in ten years inside a church building. God never lets me forget the clear command of Jesus to love God and love others (Mat 22:34-40). If we can get that right, God will do the rest. If we can’t, our faith is built on sinking sand and our seed will always fall among thorns.   

Right in the beginning of His ministry, Jesus stands in the Synagogue in front of the religious elite and teachers of the law and states what He’s on earth to do. In Luke chapter 4, He proclaims:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me 
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

That’s exactly how I feel. Honestly, I’m not trying to be a rebel. It’s just that I would rather stab myself repeatedly in the foot with a rusty fork than hear another Christian debate on the state of our country and who’s fault it is. The kingdom we represent is not in any danger. I will not spend another second bantering over gay rights and abortion with people who have no gay friends or aren’t currently serving young women. I won’t argue about the measure of anyone else’s sin according to religious law, only attest to the power of Christ at the cross to fulfill the law and the mercy of God to give all of us another chance.

I’m trying to get the American church to understand that we, not the country, have strayed away from God again. In many cases we have become arrogant and self-righteous like the religious of Jesus’ day. We’ve become the church of laws again, laws that Jesus already fulfilled. There's no need for the cross again. That work is finished. Let's get on with the work of proclaiming the 'Good News!'  

As I meet the people of Boulder, CO I see an instant wall go up the minute they ask me what I do, and I answer them, “I’m a Pastor”. I’m in a city that, for the most part, rejects the church in America because at some point they have felt condemned or abandoned. After talking with many of them about why we are here in Boulder, they tell me things like:

“Every time I’ve encountered a Christian, the message is the same; God thinks I suck”

or  "If I open a Bible, I will burst into flames"

When asking them what the church is? They respond with things like,

“A place where people go to be convicted”

I have to spend hours with people gently taking the bricks out of their wall, just to get them to hear the simple message of the real Jesus. I want the oppressed to know that Jesus is not against them, in fact, He is actually for them and that God is love before anything else. As a team, we are trying to bridge an ever-widening chasm between the American church and the rest of America, the healthy and the sick, the skeptic and the believer, the wealthy and the poor. Personally, it is the most difficult mission I’ve ever embarked on and has required everything I have, but God's favor is upon me.     

So every morning before I leave my house, I repeat the words of Jesus that day in the synagogue.


“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
 to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

This is the year of the Lord’s favor. Not because of who will or will not be elected this November, but because the spirit of the Lord is upon us, and that means Good News for all who hear.

All are welcome to become students of the real Jesus again. His message is full of grace. The Spirit of God has the power to cleanse and fulfill our every need. His kingdom is unshakable and the doors are open to the humble. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. I hope you will join me on The Reverence Movement’s mission to reveal the artistry and love of God again in Boulder, CO and across the earth. I'm learning to become less 'Dan' and more like my namesake.  

Humbled in my Father's service,

pastor daniel

  

15 comments:

  1. Oh Dan! What beautiful insightful words! I have cried time after time over how to say what you just did. THANK YOU LORD FOR GIVING HIM THE WORDS!
    As a business owner I struggle because I must keep my mouth shut so many times. I am so tired of the "establishment" telling us who is right and who is wrong.
    We all need to look at ourselves. We are all to blame.
    Talking about the same things over and over when they have already been decided for more than 40 years will not change things. We must walk and show what we believe not yell and scream.
    How many of us offer water to a thirsty person? Clothes to the naked? dinner to the hungry? or an ear to those who are downtrodden?
    I know I have been too busy at times. I know I am guilty.
    BUT when I take the time to say YES LORD he opens up ways that I am allowed to be his hands and feet. To shine his glory and will.
    I want to say YES more.
    I pray that each of us will say YES more.
    Thank you again for sharing!
    YES LORD!

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    1. Thank you Dee. You are certainly a disciple that follows Jesus with everything. Your legacy is becoming so powerful. Thank you for being so inspiring to me.

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  2. Dan.....WOW!!!! I am almost speechless as you have spoken what I have felt in my heart for so long! I want to hear more about the work you're doing. Such a blessing to end this day on! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you Amy. So glad it resonated with you. Keep watching our website for more. We're really starting to take ground for Jesus now.

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  3. Brother....love your honesty, humility, candor and willingness to go "all in", simply out of obedience to Him who patted you on the shoulder and said, "It's your time, here's the plan....now give it all you've got." Some will disagree with parts of your philosophy, that's to be expected....but not one can doubt your heart for Christ nor for the least of His children. I know these are trying times, but His favor IS upon you and your team! Remember, rejoice in your sufferings...as you are filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions by being His hands and feet to the lost in Boulder! (Col 1:24)

    Press on daniel....

    Dane

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    1. You taught me a lot about going "all in" my friend. Can't wait for you to see what I see in this city. Would love to still celebrate The Reverence anniversary with a trip to Haiti with you. Love to you and your beautiful family.

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  4. Thank you so much for your inspiring message. I have found myself really feeling alone in my opinions. It's nice to hear about a loving God for once and true discipleship.

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    1. Thank you Ashley. You can count on the fact that you are not alone. I cannot deny the love that Jesus displayed for all sinners, all the way to the cross. It's very freeing to know that you don't have to hide your love for certain groups. Thats the very heart of God. Go be Jesus to them. In His service.

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  5. I also want to thank you so clearly saying what I often struggle to put into words. God is with you and my family and I will be praying for and supporting this ministry also. You will be an agent of change in a world where it is badly needed.

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    1. Thanks Kendall. I'm trying to be a voice for the real Jesus, the one who came to love and die for sinners, not condemn them. So happy to see a growing movement of people who feel the same. Thanks again and Peace brother.

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  6. Dan that was very well put and I admire you and melissa for being obedient to God's calling. It sounds like things will be challenging yet rewarding. I agree with 99.5% of what you say. Nothing to do with the movement but rather about politics. I would hate to think that 225 years ago the brave men who risk everything to establish the Constitution would have decided that standing up for the rights of others was not important. There has to be conversation from someone or nothing happens. I understand you don't feel that God is calling you to do that but there is no doubt it has to be done for us to remain a free nation and to recognize the sacrafice of the lives lost in our cause. Stay the course brother we wish we had the courage to do what you are doing years ago.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I plan on addressing this more in-depth as we go, from Jesus' perspective. I feel there has been decades of conversation on the issues, with little to no result, only further division. I'm trying to get the church to see "issues" as "people" and then serve those people the best we can. As we serve them like Jesus, we see them with compassion and we're more effective. My heart is to unify the Church. I can appreciate a loving conversation even when views differ. Thank you for being that. In Christ.

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  7. Hey Dan. Bobbi and I wanted to say how much we admire what you and Melissa have chosen to do. It takes great courage to be obedient to everything God calls us to do. I know we will always differ on certain issues but that's ok. As long as we each listen to God's prompting and respect the other person's right to disagree with us then all is well. Stay the course and we pray daily for God's favor in your familiy's life. Rick Wilkie

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    1. Thank you my friend. You are very kind and i do respect you. I so appreciate your prayers too! Peace and love to your family.

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  8. It is very sad that teaching the word of God has been removed from Schools across the world not just in USA. The President in his public addresses always says & God Bless America Is that all you have to say after placing barrier after barrier to us who cannot understand why anyone denies the One true God the Father of us all.

    How many actually recount their amazing proof positive that He exists?

    Here is mine.

    I spent years trying to work hard and offer my customers a way through the financial jungle to get them independence by careful planning and protecting their way of life.

    One day a Prime minister decided that the American way would vastly reduce our numbers and just take look at us today. 99% of our population is NOT financially independent for many many reasons both personal and political.

    During a visit with one of my friends her mother contracted liver cancer. I was honoured to be with her when the Lord came to take her away from this world.

    As she breathed her last rasping breathe she looked at me and smiled,. YES SMILED

    Immediately that cold cloudy day changed into bright warm sunlight in the middle of a wet day in winter. A ray of sunlight fell on her window and on to her. She passed away and the clouds returned once more to gray and wet.

    Strangely I took a look at her digital watch and as a time manager was amazed to see that the digits on the frozen watch face had mirrored.

    Many years later I was so depressed that my life was running on empty financial services was grinding to a halt I lost my lovely forest home and all my friends my savings were all gone I was just surviving on benefits My parents although quite wealthy were odly no concerned about my current situation.

    I lay back on my bed and said some magic words.

    "OK Lord I give in you know I have always worked hard and been as honest as possible I cannot for once see a way forward please take me in your gentle loving arms and show me how I can continue".

    Within 12 months all was wonderful I met a wonderful woman lonely as my self and we married and live happily together for 19 years of dream like love.

    So there is my proof

    Ourf dear Lord exsists and no one can remove what I experienced no one at all.

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