what could be: God expanded

oh, what have i gotten myself into? that is the question i am asking myself these past few days.  i secretly (well, i guess publicly now) wish that every person that reads each post would take the time to comment so i could get a better pulse on real reactions to it (or maybe not because i’m probably afraid to know).  people are all over the place on things that i say here & sometimes it is just a bizarro feeling to have so much of my journey out here for the world to see.  that is why i only committed myself to one year of giving this a try. i’m coming upon the end of my adventure on december 30th, and i really am wrestling with what to do beyond that.  we’ll see.  i have let it rip here in so many ways & shared more of my heart & thoughts & dreams than i probably should have, and while i do not have an inkling of regret, i want to make sure i don’t end up in a spot where i think i have more to say than i actually do! but alas, it’s not december 30th yet & i think i do have a few more things to spit out & articulate before this year is up, so i better get cranking.

* * * * *

what could be. i have so many dreams for what could be when it comes to “church.”  i want to remind everyone that when i say church it has nothing to do with buildings or institutions or specific structures.  we are the church.  so wherever we “the people” go, so goes the church.  my hope is always that Christ will be reflected through us, that we could become safer people, riskier people, more compassionate & passionate & loving people.  people who are more open to the mystery of God, to a beautiful acceptance that even though our human tendency is always to attempt to limit & define God, that part of what could be might include an expansion of our God borders in all kinds of ways.

i think this is one of the touchiest subjects for the average evangelical christian.   many have been taught that all we know about God is recorded in the scriptures and that our exegetical interpretation of it will satisfy our thirst for understanding.  we have come to equate knowledge with faith.  many cannot allow themselves to admit that the truth is that we really don’t fully know all the ins and outs of who God is and what the Bible fully means.  we are just giving it our best shot.  years ago when i was just starting the counseling program at seminary i had an extremely conservative christian friend who argued with me about my choice, worrying that many christians had mixed too deeply with modern psychology, even at seminaries, and the only counseling that was considered valuable and right in God’s eyes was “biblical counseling” (she was taking the course at her church).  i remember our tense and, in my opinion, extremely sad, conversations and telling her “just so you know, just because it has the word “bible” in it doesn’t mean it’s 100% anything…you’re just learning your instructor’s view of the passages and how to apply them to people’s lives, that’s all.” i’m not saying that her biblical counseling course was bad,  i’m just saying we need to be more honest–none of us have the market cornered on God’s exact intentions for everything.

i tell this story because i think it’s more common than some of us would like to admit–this idea that we can squeeze God down to our limited experience, tag the word “Bible” and “God’s truth” to it and call it a day.  that is such an unfair, egocentric way to live in relationship to the many others who might see it differently.  and unfortunately i was guilty of it for many years.  when i look back on my faith certainty, my smugness, my sureness-that-there-really-was-just-one-way-to-do-God-and-it’s-called-mine, i am thoroughly embarrassed (and trust me, i know i can sound that way when it comes to church things, too. yes, i am working on it).

so what does it really mean to be people, communities who expand our God borders, who make room for unknowns, for doubt, for mystery, for unique expressions? i don’t fully know, but these are a few things that at least make my short list:

be more honest about what we do not know. quit pretending that our interpretation of the bible is the one right way.  recognize that there are scholars all over the place, equally educated, equally passionate, who can see the same scriptures from a completely different perspective; never for a moment can we assume that their scholarly-ness means they must be right (or wrong, for that matter).  acknowledge that others can and probably do see it differently, that ideas about God don’t need to be so black and white, so certain, that true faith is something that has so many dimensions & facets & elements that are truly unexplainable.  become more comfortable with adding “i don’t really know, but…”

reckon with our human tendency to label and define. it’s in our DNA to create structures and packages for our experiences so that we can feel more comfortable. i can’t dismiss for a minute that there are people who talk about Jesus in ways i am not used to.  i remember questioning people’s faith all the time because they weren’t quite delivering the goods the way i liked. i’d say “well, i am not really sure they are a christian” when in reality the only thing i was focusing on was their lack of specific words that would make me somehow more sure they were on the same team. oh it is so rude & limiting!  i live in a world now where so many people i know never ever use language that is somehow the “sign” of being a christian yet their faith is more evident than most anyone i know.  faith is not limited by a certain style of language.

stop trying to manage people’s experience with God.  more on this later because i think we tread on dangerous ground when we stomp on the beauty and value of doubt in our christian experience.  i admit, i am always a bit relieved when people are feeling God’s presence and peace in real ways, but the reality of many conversations i am in is that people are really all over the place in their journey with God–disconnected, disappointed, confused, angry, all kinds of feelings that can freak us out if we’re not careful.   inside so many christians’ experience is this idea that true intimate relationship with God is happy, close, personal, fulfilling.  so when we’re not feeling that way, we somehow think we suck, that we’re not doing something right, that something must be “wrong” with us.  when we let go of corralling people’s experiences with God into any kind of tame & manageable place, i think something significant shifts & a freedom opens up to the full range of emotions & experiences with God, instead of only the ones that some people deem “acceptable.”   i know a lot of folks who appear to have gone “down the slippery slope” in all kinds of religious circles’ eyes, but they are probably feeling more connected to the true heart of Jesus & their faith than ever before.  i think people & churches need to break our codependent need to keep everyone’s faith in check & let people be whereever they are at, trusting that God is big, creative, powerful & can live in the tension even though it might make us anxious.

let what’s uncomfortable teach us. in one of my spiritual formation groups at seminary our leader played a musical piece exploring the feminine side of God.  oh, what an interesting response she got! arms crossed, hearts closed off, “we-can’t-let-ourselves-go-there” reactions.  i admit, that was almost 7 years ago and i wasn’t quite as off-the-edge as i am now, and i remember saying out loud how it did indeed make me feel uncomfortable but i was open to exploring it instead of assuming it had nothing to teach me. that one experience was the beginning of a glorious slippery slope (or beautiful ascent, depending on which side you’re on) that expanded my view of God far more than i would have ever imagined.  sitting with & wrestling with the discomfort is so hard to do, but i believe it’s what the “church” is supposed to provide for people–discomforts that cause us to think, wrestle, and move.  Jesus was the consummate question-asker, tension-creator, comfort-remover, and i think it would serve us well to have more courage to live in the crazy tension instead of always trying to smooth out the wrinkles.

i admit as a spiritual guide & leader in our community, letting go of overly controlling people’s experiences with Jesus & leaving room for a wide range of expressions does cost something.  it’s chaotic.  it’s a bit unsettling.  my controlling tendencies & nagging church-leadership-voices sometimes leave me thinking that i “should do something” to bring that person over to the land of right-thinking & words-that-will-make-me-feel-more-comfortable.  but in reality, what i am learning is to hold that at bay, love as best i can, take my clenched fists off other people’s spiritual steering wheels, and let God do the driving.

oh this barely scratches the surface, but here’s my hope for what could be: 

that we’d be people & communities that wouldn’t be afraid to expand our God borders personally & corporately. that we’d give freedom for people to be all over the place on the journey & that we’d have eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to notice God-at-work in ways maybe we never even saw before.  that we’d provide expansive room for people to explore what it means to know & follow Jesus without feeling judged, squeezed down or forced to conform in order to be in relationship with us.

God, expand us & help us expand You.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

32 Comments

  • Kathy, I hope you realize that sometimes church can become bigger through a blog. I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts into next year. Your words have encouraged us here in Arizona, and you have to know that you have walked alongside us.

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  • Your blog posts are the ones that I anticipate with the most excitement, so don’t you dare stop!! So often I find myself saying, “you are so right on, Kathy”, when I read your stuff. I absolutely love your insights, your honesty, your vulnerability. Keep going! (please…:) )

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  • What happens on December 30th?

    Would love to comment more, on this post and the last, but am somewhat pressed for time…

    Suffice it to say for now that I see you accomplishing your hope for what could be in this blog — the way you truly welcome and value the thoughts and perspectives of others…

    Blessings

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  • I have to say that we see what we want to see, and the picture you put with this blog so proves that to me. When I looked at the picture all I could see was homemade pasta; not rubber bands, but homemade pasta! I’m laughing at myself, because now that I see rubber bands, it’s hard to see homemade pasta. But I spent last Saturday with a friend making homemade ravioli (too bad I can’t post pics here!) and so I have homemade pasta on the mind. I saw spinach and regular fettucini in that picture. Rubber bands were nowhere in sight!

    And that exactly sums up what your blog does for me. I start out “seeing” one thing because it is what I’ve always seen. But you show me a different way, a new perspective, a fresh path. You don’t tell me what I *have* to see, but you lead me to this place with an incredible view and let me discover it for myself. I don’t know if there’s any higher gift someone can give me at this time. I know lots of people who have all the answers, but I’m tired of answers! I love the questions. I love to explore possibilities. I love to find new ways. Your blog has been priceless to me in all those areas.

    Thanks for once again sharing your heart.

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  • Kathy,
    Aaahh…this is one of your best posts. Beautiful. Simply, beautiful. Acceptance, love of where each and every one of us ias at in our own unique God Journeys DOES actually bring a unity. Loving acceptance of walking alongside. Sure we are all at different maturity levels in Christ, however, it is not our place to “judge” this, whatsoever, but to learn from everyone. We are always learning and growing, even when we “seem” the most wise and “old” spiritually speaking. Til the day we step from this Earth and into Home.

    Again, great post, Kathy.

    Blessings,
    ~Amy 🙂
    Author of “Orphaned Into Belonging”
    http://www.lulu.com/content/4781677
    Walking In The Spirit
    http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • It is’nt pasta!?!?!

    Had a blog I posted elsewhere (blocked for USA) and I said the Bible does not give us everything about God.

    What? Everything we need to know about God is in the Bible, they said.

    Well sure, but that does not mean that IS everything about God, just what we need to know!

    Oi, how are you going to just let go on 30 December?
    I am laughing at this even as I type it – you know that ain’t gonna happen!

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  • I really loved this post. For some reason it made me cry…. but this time not out of frustration/my ignorance – but just because it really touched me and I recognized a lot of truth in it. It almost feels like I’ve been thinking these same things in my heart for a while now – but never could put them into words – but you did. Not that everything you said was in my heart or I agreed with – but the overall message.

    on a side note – thanks for having mercy for the word choices I use. I recognize that my word/phrases I use a lot are probably cliche and overused by the christian world — but I’m a firm believe in mentors and my mentors are old school in language – and we do start to talk like our mentors. It’s just that sometimes those old school sayings are the only words I have. and really — when it comes down to it – those ‘mantras’ do help many times and are necessary sometimes on my journey – which I’m sure you recognize.

    anyway — I would be really disappointed if you didn’t blog….not that I’m at all dependent on your voice or take it as the end all be all without studying it compared to scritpure — but because since I’ve been reading – God very clearly speaks through your voice to me. To help me let Him out of the box. To help me learn about church – and the Body in all different forms. just to learn about how to interact with people with totally different experience/perspective than me. your voice is one many (I) need to hear. but I know that you will do what God leads you to do.

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  • Keep em coming, Kathy. I read, but hardly ever make comments (makes for a poor “conversation”, huh?). Thanks for being a rare (& True) voice.

    As I read your thoughts here, I kept thinking about a meeting I was in this week regarding a video testimony of a close friend of mine that was shown at my church this past Sunday. The leaders of my church were complaining, “It was too long. The video kept skipping. The sound was off. The camera angle could have been better, etc. etc.” I had totally been moved by the video testimony, wanted MORE, and even liked the glitches. I’m so tired of the pressures to come across as if we’re perfect and polished in my Christian circle of friends. We even want Sunday service and video testimonies (of a pretty tumultuous life) to present perfectly – and that just doesn’t jive with real life. Instead of trying to have things all figured out or at least making it look like we do, I love it when even our “presentation” speaks truth through its imperfection – giving me nonverbal permission to be real. I don’t know…
    Matt

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  • Kathy,

    Those of us who are putting together alternative expressions of church are thankful you take the time to share with us your thoughts, struggles, joys and hurts. It lets us know we are not nuts, or at least that we are not the only nuts!

    Please keep blogging.

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  • Kathy–

    Please don’t go anywhere on December 30th! Your blog has caused things to happen–in me, in my life, and I can see reconciliation and redemption and hope in people’s comments, people who don’t always agree with you–but they are open. Your readers (me included) are becoming more open to the beauty of God, and to letting our hearts be expanded for him–and it’s happening.

    I like what the comment-er above said: that church can be expanded through a blog. I think that one way we learn how to do/be those four things that you listed above is through being in a community– a community of people like us, not like us, and who don’t always like us :)– but will love us and surround us with his grace and mercy. And for so many, maybe this little virtual forum is just that: a community, where it’s safe to explore, safe to doubt, safe to be.

    Just my two cents. Thank you for your voice.

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  • I’m going to bust in song .. you guys ..

    You’re simply the best, better than all the rest, better than anyone, anyone
    Ive ever met!
    Im stuck on your heart, I hang on every word you say
    Tear us apart, baby I would rather be dead

    And again …

    And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh now now stand by me
    Stand by me, stand by me

    If the sky that we look upon
    Should tumble and fall
    And the mountains should crumble to the sea
    I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
    Just as long as you stand, stand by me

    And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh stand by me
    Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah

    Reply
  • What? You can’t stop blogging! I think it’s a rule that if you start you have to keep going. Once blogged, always blogged, right? I mean, how in the world am I supposed to have a relationship with you if you stop blogging????

    Say it ain’t so!

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  • I love checking out what you’ve got to say. Sometimes I agree, sometimes not but it usually makes me think. I’m in a what you would call an “institutional” church but we are thinking about similar issues. Earlier in the year we had a series “God of Mystery” our pastor put up a picture with a box in the middle of what was known and then outside “The Unknown”. Then he put a stop sign on the egde of the box – it said “No thinking past this point” … there was a lot of laughter at that, but at least he made his point. We’re definately encouraged to think outside the box, which may be a cultural thing as well, I’m not sure what it’s like in America. But also our pastor is the type of guy who if he you’re reading the same book can’t wait to hear your opinion and discuss it with you.

    In another service he said if someone’s hurting you probably don’t have all the answers, don’t pretend, just say you don’t know. It’s OK to say you don’t know.

    I guess I just shared these to let you know that these questions are being addressed in all sorts of churches.

    Reply
  • First, a confession: This is only about the third time I’ve read your blog. Every once in a while I notice you’ve posted a note amidst the noise at Facebook, and I check it out. And I love it. But if you stop, I’ll be fine. However, it really warms my heart to know that you are doing this. Not only because you are digging up some really thought-provoking stuff, but because this level of openness is truly rare and beautiful. I’m glad to know it’s there, even if I’m usually oblivious.

    Now, as far as your actual comments go, I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll start with what might be a non-sequitur: I am absolutely with you about breaking down the church walls. Too many people are afraid that their pure faith will be tainted, and so they hide their faith. Or they hide behind their faith. Or they hide from their faith.

    I’ve done a bit of work on community-based disaster preparedness, and ultimately it boils down to this. Are you going to prepare with your community and take whatever comes together. Or are you going to prepare against your community, cut off your fate from that of your brothers and sisters, and hope that you can wait out whatever comes. Ultimately that end-game is sitting on the porch shooting at starving people and I want no part of that.

    I think that church can be the same way. People look at all the real evil in the world (and a lot of uncomfortable stuff that we mistake for evil) and hunker down. I say that if we think we really have the light, we’ve got nothing to fear of darkness. Of course, I’m not sure what the light is. I’ve prayed for clarity on that for a couple of years now, and so far God has kept me guessing. But that’s another story.

    I hope that helps, and since I’m writing I’ll just mention a little teaser about the book tour. It looks like early February for Denver. Stay tuned…

    Reply
  • Well once again you really speak to my heart and to my heart. It is my hope that after your year is up you will not quit. I’m in Bible College and 99% of what I learned in churchianity.

    I personally can’t even hardly at this point stomach the word church. I have to admit I’m angry even though I was the one who made the choice to not live according to the things God had been teaching me since my youth. I am one, who believes we actually need to stop using that word, because it has a specific meaning and definition that as I understand it has nothing to do with the Ecclesia Christ is building. I’m sorry this your site not mine.

    I’m really trying to learn how not to try to people either people or God in a box. You encourage me in that.

    Reply
  • Dear Pastor Kathy,
    I want to say that I absolutely LOVE reading your blog. Somehow I got connected thru seeing your name mentioned on another blog and since then I’ve been hooked. Your posts reflect what I wish I had time to write on my own! Your posts inspire me, and often filter into my own preaching on Sunday. Sometimes I pass your posts onto my friends. As a female pastor in possibly the only church in Chinatown that acknowledges women pastors, I am glad to have an ‘online ally.’ Please dont stop writing. It would be sad to have your voice silenced online. We need courageous women/pastor/mothers like you.
    =) Jasmine Flores,
    English Service pastor – NYC Chinatown

    Reply
  • May not continue after Dec 30?! Say it ain’t so!! You have been a mentor from afar for me. I love your heart love how you put it out there in your posts. Whether you continue to blog or not, know that the mysterious Spirit resonates in your words and your willingness to follow His lead when it brings you into the unchartered waters.

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  • you want comments from your perpetual lurkers? okay, i’ll bite. 🙂 I’ve got your blog on my reader and consistently find what you have to say good, challenging, and often somewhat disturbing. I’m one of those institutional church people who believes that we’ve got what we’ve got for a reason, and that while there’s a lot that needs to be fixed, there’s also a lot that simply needs to be recovered . . . but that a blog comment thread isn’t the place to start writing a systematic theology. 🙂 I think that I’d absolutely love to sit down and have coffee with you and jaw over it all in person–I wish I’d discovered you before we left CO and returned to the midwest. 😛

    Reply
  • Kathy, you asked the following question:

    so what does it really mean to be people, communities who expand our God borders, who make room for unknowns, for doubt, for mystery, for unique expressions?

    My response, I have no clue. I try to break it down and make it simple. In the simple though, question arise, how in the world do we do that. Seing simple is Love God and Love Others.

    I think the key word for this ro happen, espeicially as it entertains and intertwines community is “humility”. Everyone has to be above us. When we put us down on the bottom, the “pond scum” THEN we “have” to make room for everyone “becauseeveryone is beeyer” than us ….

    I do not fully like how the appreviated aspect came out, but I did not want to do a post in your comment session

    rock on with expanding God

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  • I teared up reading your post and they rolled down my cheeks reading the comments. I will miss you if you choose not to continue blogging. On-line is the only solid (what a funny word to use here) non-church church I experience. Yours is one of the few voices I can consistantly hear. So I will miss you if… But that is your decision to make for a multiple of reasons. Thank you again for the time you have given. Now I need to go blow my nose.

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  • oh, i am sorry, it’s been a busy few days & i haven’t been online much so i am just now catching up. i so appreciate all of the comments & emails & thoughts that make me think about what to do next. i actually didn’t mean to have that be the focus of the post at all, i guess i just dropped it in there to let everyone in on what i’ve been honestly thinking and wrestling with since the 1 year commitment-to-myself is coming up. i honestly had no idea what this endeavor would be like & i have had an amazing, truly amazing, time meeting so many wonderful friends here in the past 10 1/2 months. it has been more challenging, more consuming, more rewarding than i would have ever thought. i am taking everything you guys have said into consideration & my guess is i may just experiment with some shifts here, maybe a break to just take a breath & re-group & re-focus a bit and there are a few projects i’m really passionate about that i want to work on & be able to share here once they are done, too. all that to say, no telling what it will all look like but i may take my foot off the pedal a bit & just drive a little slower, in a different direction, but not off the road completely 🙂 i will say that your reminders from afar have helped me understand a bit better that all of this huffing and puffing and ranting and raving and dreaming and hoping is worth it because you are actually reading and considering and dreaming, too. it’s not that i didn’t know that before–i have been so appreciative always of the comments & ways that you tell me in real life that you are reading–but i think this week something did kind of shift inside when i read the comments and emails and responses in other ways and i was like “oh, something beautiful has really formed here!” and i want to honor and nurture and treasure it while it’s here. so we’ll see. i will tell you that of course my little wheels are always spinning and i’m like “i have this series to finish and about 20 other ideas waiting in the wings, do you think i could finish them all by december 30th?” ummm, these are the times when i need my friends to wack me up on the head and remind me of how unrealistic i can sometimes be! okay, enough rambling!

    steve – you have been one of the greatest “pull in a direction that sometimes needs pulling” person here. you know how we disagree on some things, but i always stop and ponder and notice how what you are seeing & saying needs to be strongly considered. thanks for bringing your voice & experience here!

    jamie – thanks for taking the time to remind me & you telling me does help because honestly sometimes i have no idea. i am so excited to meet you all in a couple of weeks and hear more of your hearts & dreams!

    sandy – thanks for the reminder 🙂 and i am glad that you are writing now, too!

    tracy – okay that was the best possible analogy! never would i have thought that picture looked like pasta, but now that you said it, of course, i can see how you might think that. i do love that is how it is out here, that we are all wrestling with seeing things from new perspectives & being comfortable with where we are at, no matter where others are at. it’s quite a journey, isn’t it? when i even think of where God has taken you & me, too, since we first met out here. lots of changes & growth, that’s for sure. weird, eh? i am so grateful for you & the voice that you bring to me personally, the ways you always remind me that these words aren’t for nothing. tons of love to you from across the miles.

    amy – thanks & i love what you said here: “Acceptance, love of where each and every one of us ias at in our own unique God Journeys DOES actually bring a unity.” that is the wildest part to me, that our diversity brings a unity far more powerful than we’d ever suspect!

    pops – you crack me up & i am glad i gave you a laugh too! thanks for your voice & thoughts here, you always always always point back to God in such important ways…

    keith – thanks for letting me know, it helps. see you guys soon!

    randi – thanks for your thoughts here & for stirring the pot and getting me all riled up all the time 🙂 i always tell you, but i will tell you again, i so respect that you are in the conversation. your heart for God & people is so evident & i am just glad that somehow, for whatever wild reasons, this has been a place to stir & be stirred! thanks for staying in & for your love & encouragement

    matt – see, i had no idea you were reading! thanks for letting me know & for taking the time to share that story. yeah, those are the things that so get to me because who really cares???? the story, the beauty of someone’s real story, now that is all that matters…hope to see you guys soon. know we are always singing your song & love all of your hearts so much. really cool about hooking up with ken & deborah, too. that makes me so happy, that you would all be able to encourage & learn from each other.

    hugh – thanks so much for letting me know. yeah, your comment is a great example of me just not knowing or realizing that a group like yours is listening in. i glanced at your blog & need to go back and take a closer look but i definitely want to hear more about what you guys are doing out there in raleigh…

    ryan – okay i will be honest, out of all of the comments, i think yours might have gotten to me the most. anything i could do to encourage a young, beautiful, powerful, passionate voice like yours, i am willing to do. i really love what you said here: “I think that one way we learn how to do/be those four things that you listed above is through being in a community– a community of people like us, not like us, and who don’t always like us :)– but will love us and surround us with his grace and mercy. And for so many, maybe this little virtual forum is just that: a community, where it’s safe to explore, safe to doubt, safe to be.” okay, way to hook me in. look forward to coffee soon. keep dreaming & stepping into what God made you to do…

    mark – no one makes me smile & laugh out loud like you do. your blog posts are one of my favorite parts of the day, honestly. thanks for the song, i tried to think of a clever one back, but i was at a complete loss 🙂 hey you are the master at saying “okay i am done with blogging!” and then come back later. yeah, we’re all hooked. honestly, though, thanks for the thoughts you bring here and the reminder that we’re not crazy (well, we are, but you know what i mean). i was with my friends from the bridge in portland a few weeks ago and i was like “how fun is that, a bridge north & a bridge south with the same nutty dna” someday we all need to sit at the same table and have some serious laughs! love to you guys from across the oceans…

    randy – yeah, that’s actually my problem sometimes. i am so loyal that i can’t give things up and somehow think that once i start, i can never stop, and stay in far beyond what i should so don’t hook into my dysfunction, please!!!! 🙂 but, no doubt, i so love that this is a way that we all stay in touch & hear what each other are doing and thinking and getting ourselves into trouble about!

    christine – thanks for letting me know you are reading! i love keeping up with what mustard seed associates is up to, too.

    dan – thanks for letting me know. i really am excited about what your book is going to stir up in the kingdom!

    melissa – thanks for these stories, they do remind me that there are some really great things happening inside the walls & i do know so many are asking some of these questions & trying to press out of the box & let God out, too. i think what you say here is so important: “Sometimes I agree, sometimes not but it usually makes me think.” yeah, that’s the idea. thanks for taking the time to share…

    andrew – thanks for admitting it 🙂 i am looking forward to your denver visit & i am so glad we connected at new conspirators earlier this year. a lot has happened since then, hasn’t it? anyway, i really like what you are saying here, about hunkering down instead of walking in the light freely. being afraid instead of free. staying safe instead of risking. so many thoughts & i believe with the changing times that it just won’t fly. we will need a bigger God & a bigger relationship with each other than ever before in order to make it through the tumultous times ahead…

    thomas – thanks so much for introducing yourself and letting me know that you are reading. yeah, i struggle with the word “church” all the time and am so with you that the word has gotten ruined for so many. that makes me so sad and honestly, really really mad. but Jesus knows what the church really is. we know what the church really is when we experience it, taste it, feel it, see it. i guess that’s the idea. i would love to hear more what it is like to be at bible college in the current place you are in!

    gary – thanks for letting me know. i don’t do a good job of commenting on your blog but know i am always reading, too. when i wrote this piece, i actually thought of you for some weird reason, i guess just because i know that you asking so many of the questions & wrestling with so many of the topics that we are always talking about around here!

    jasmine – thank you SO MUCH for letting me know what you are doing and how you have been encouraged here. i need to hear more about what you are doing there! i checked out the link & now i remember glancing at it once before when you had a link to the carnival in one of your posts. it helps so much now to know that was you & what you are up to there…yeah, we really do need to keep reminding each other it is worth it!

    jenn – thanks for the reminder…i am so glad we met out here & i am glad that in some crazy way you feel less alone…

    sara – thanks for taking the time to comment after being a perpetual lurker! i am glad to have the pleasure of disturbing you (and me, too :)) while at the same time encouraging & challenging, too! if you come back to colorado for a visit, get in touch, i’d love to get to have a real conversation over a good cup of coffee.

    jeff – okay my friend i think you nailed it on the head. humility is the key ingredient here, and i think of how hard it is as humans to live from that place. for some weird reason when i thought of your analogy of lowering ourselves, i thought of a funnel. think of that, when we go lower & look up, the expanse is so much bigger, but when we are up top & look down, our persective is narrower and smaller. hmmmm. lots to think about. you rock on, too, shaking the trees out there and calling people to move.

    minnow – oh you know this, but i will remind you, you have been one of my greatest encouragers out here that someone was really reading, thinking, and being encouraged & challenged by some of the things i have said. i guess that is what is somehow out here, a non-church church 🙂 hmm, lots to think about & thanks for the reminder. i have loved reading your posts & i will tell you that i was really mad about your latest one and that unsafety got perpetuated in a blog comment stream somewhere in blogland. it is my responsibility as a moderator to keep it safe for all voices, so thanks for an unfortunate example of what can happen if we’re not careful or step out of the fray…i am so glad that on the whole people have been so respectful of each other here at the carnival & i will do everything i can to keep it that way.

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  • Kathy, just finally getting caught up in my blog reader. Great post. I find it difficult to believe we actually began our blogs on the same day. It’s amazing, isn’t it, what can happen in a year?

    If there is one thing that sums up the past couple of years for me, it’s that I’m not the only one who is out of the box. God is, too. I think letting my picture of God expand is one of the many ways He’s teaching me to relinquish control. After all–our God-picture is often our subtle way of trying to control Him, and others.

    You put it great here, Kath. I sincerely hope there’s more to read after Dec. 30.

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  • Ooh, I can totally relate to this one too, especially the “letting what is uncomfortable teach us” part. I am pretty confident that the also 7 years ago-new-seminary-student; so full of apologetics & “right thinking” me would have not have been close friends with the more grace-filled, ridiculously less rigid, and *gasp* free-er thinker me. I am sure that, in hindsight, I did less for the actual kingdom in terms of growth & love (even though I thought I was at the top of my game), but I am still so glad that I have that time to look back & compare to, so that I can also see what can be. It is almost as if my whole world has been blown up, but now, instead of seeing shards that were the remains of my faith, I am now seeing that the explosion burst open a door of hope that would not have been seen otherwise. 🙂

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  • You ‘nana!
    You did not expect this type of response?

    Hahah, it is like Elvis saying, “Okay, end of this year I am not going to be singing publicly anymore, but by the way, here is a 2 page secret recipe for Cheesecake, let’s talk about that!”

    Duh!

    🙂

    I also wanted to say just one more little thing: What I like about your blog is that you respond, no matter what is commented, you respond and you engage.

    I have had the experience that with many other bloggers, some quite famous, that unless you agree with what they say, your comments will not even be posted!

    s’why I like coming here, your posts together with those that comment – expands the brain cells!

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  • Just now catching up — didn’t really understand what the 12/30 reference was all about before — thought you were planning to bail on the refuge or something 🙂

    Understand now that this was about you exiting the blogosphere, which as the comments above seem to affirm is an equally horrifying prospect :0

    Love your thoughts on expanding our God borders. It’s so easy for us to make an idol out of our past experiences with God, isn’t it? So do we bottle God up to ensure a “safe” and predictable future, or follow God’s lead into uncharted territory?

    Could it be that the uncharted territory for some is within the IC, while for others it’s outside of it? Could it be that all of us share the common need of having our own perspective be transformed continuously by God’s?

    Regardless, I think we’d all do well to follow your lead in treating others with respect, dignity, and love…

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  • Kathy, everytime I read your posts I feel encouraged. There is someone who understands, and once again you’ve formulated into words what I feel is rattling around in my head but just can’t seem to nail down. Both Joy and I have often felt like this has been an up hill battle and your words have meant alot to us. I think we could spend hours and hours talking about our journey as if we’ve known each other our whole lives and have been on the same path. A big part of this journey has been an expanding of God. I know when I’ve tried to put it into words, many people have looked at me as if I’m crazy or accused me of turning God into something that seems to bother them.

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  • hey there, sorry, i thought i had responded but just realized that i skipped it, i didn’t mean to be rude 🙂

    jeff – that is weird. i can’t believe it’s been one year. kind of wild! i am the world’s slowest blogger, always the long and infrequent ones 🙂 i am just trying to figure out where to focus my energy next year but i definitely don’t want to lose the community and what i am learning out here in blogland. yeah, God out of the box is scary, wild & beautiful, that is for sure. looking forward to what’s ahead in 2009 in all kinds of ways…

    stacy – yeah, i think all of our experiences are part of the story & even though i am like “what was i thinking?” i know that i wouldn’t be here now if i hadn’t originally thought that because it was just part of my ever-evolving and changing journey. i love this last line you shared: “It is almost as if my whole world has been blown up, but now, instead of seeing shards that were the remains of my faith, I am now seeing that the explosion burst open a door of hope that would not have been seen otherwise.”

    pops – oh you make me smile 🙂

    steve – i think you always ask the great questions, especially as one who is connected to the IC and can view both sides with respect and value. i so agree that it is so easy to make an idol out of our past experiences with God and it can really limit our future. i definitely don’t want to “bottle God up to ensure a “safe” and predictable future” but want to be brave enough to “follow God’s lead into uncharted territory?” i also like the reminder that uncharted territory looks different for everyone, some within the IC and others out of it…thanks, steve!

    jim – can’t wait for next weekend, so much to talk about, but yeah, it is such a bummer when we expand our view of God & people look at us with concern and begin quietly praying for us to come back around…

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  • Hi, well, first of all, let me begin by saying that I am (was) a priest. I chose to leave, and not over any passions or out of control sexual nonsense. I began to differ in my beliefs.

    The fact remains, that during the life of Jesus, there was no Nazareth, so Jesus of Nazareth is nonsense. Funny, no Bethlehem either at that time. And thirty references to Jesus, but not one to Jesus of Nazareth.

    As for crucifictions. Roman record keeping was outstanding and accurate. No Jesus of Nazareth was ever hung on a cross. Lots of Yeshua’s were hung, but none that fit that story at all.

    Now, let’s look at Barabbus. His real name was Yeshua. Right, and he was all alone that day. There were not two men for the people to choose one from, there was one man, Barabbus who was really Jesus, but not the messiah.

    Now, the story of the virgin, the manger, the three kings coming to the virgins resting place…all astronomy. Yep.

    And how many messiah’s are there, or have there been in history? Try about 300 of them, and most of them exactly the same, virgin birth, died, resurrected, all the same bull-shit.

    Yep, the church of rome did every one in. All lies, all bullshit, all pagan bull crap. Through history, we went from poly theistic ways to monotheistic, one god, then he had a son, then the son died, and rose up and then a third god came down in the holy spirt…blah blah blah.

    The truth, we have no concept of what major force is out there. Is there one? You bet, but it’s not a god, not as we have been led to believe, that’s for sure. Will life end? Well, I don’t believe it does. I also look to the psychics, and have managed to hear some rather incredible stories from them,but strange as it may seem, they never talk god, or jesus, or any such thing, cause there isn’t such a thing.

    So, do I call myself athiest? Nope.

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