October 2006

I’ve been stuck in the hell of bitterment and discontentment for so long that I can’t even begin to tell you how great it feels to be alive.  It’s been more than 2 years since I’ve been involved in anything centered around the church.  That may not seem like or even be a bad thing – but it left me feeling like I was alone on an island.  I watched week in and week out as people settled for a watered-down spiritual life as I listened to pastors like Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell and the emergent conversation stretch my understanding of what it must look like today for us to follow Christ. 

I became especially bitter when my own pastor, when asked why we weren’t attempting to reach the postmodern generation, explained that our church was already pushing the limits for our city.  When we talked further about my discontentment, he asked me where else I would go within our city to find a church reaching out to the postmodern generation.  Looking back, it was that day that I officially checked out.  That lack of vision and disregard for such a large group of people sent me running for the door. 

But I couldn’t just leave and not come back.  I have a family, a wife and kids, that God has entrusted to my leadership.  And unlike the Spencer Burke types that feel ok with becoming a small family congregation (I’m not knocking Spencer Burke or anyone else settled in a home church) in the place of going to a church, I couldn’t just abandon the whole church routine.  So, for way too long, we got up on Sunday morning and went to church.  I don’t think this is what the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote:

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go; 
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

But that verse has played in my head as a son and a parent so much that if this is what I’m doing to my kids – creating in them a nagging desire to stay where they can’t find God – then I know I’ve missed the point of what God is trying to say.  At some point there has to be a choice and as hard as it was for me to find, I had to accept what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul all described as what to do when Jesus’ voice can no longer be heard – shake the dust off your feet and move on. 

And with that, we took a chance on a small congregation on the other end of our city.  Mind you, our family was in a very fragile state and both Janice and myself saw Mosaic as a final chance on finding a church that we could breathe the breath of God within.  I know there are hundreds of churches in Jacksonville all with wonderful leaders and people within.  I’m not trying to negate what they do or how they do it, I’m just saying that I was suffocated with hundreds of different “more of the same.” 

I still haven’t figured out exactly what makes Mosaic so different, but I know this:
·         There is an authenticity among these people that is unlike where I’ve been before.
·         There is a brokenness that acknowledges I don’t have it all together.
·         I am allowed to come in without putting on a happy church face.
·         There is a genuine concern for me.
·         I am prayed for.
·         I am loved and appreciated. 

And with all of those, I am engaged in what’s going on at Mosaic.  I don’t know where you are, but if you’ve forgotten what it looks like to find God within the church, then consider taking a drive to the northside of Jacksonville and joining with a group of broken people at Mosaic on Sunday mornings. 

I checked out little Indie flick the other night that was especially entertaining and thought provoking… The Science of Sleep (SOS), by the same writer & director as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (ESSM). Now, if you saw ESSM and liked it, you’ll love SOS.

In SOS, we’re taken into the life of Stephane Miroux, a shy insecure young man who’s come to Paris to draw closer to his widowed mother. What you soon find out is that Stephane’s life that we see is actually a blend of what he does and what he dreams. It’s in the balance between the schizophrenic lifestyle where the magic happens in this film.

Besides it just being a beautifully entertaining film, SOS left me wondering how much of my own life is riddled with the perspective of my own dreams. When I struggle with issues in life, is it because it’s a conscience dilemma or one that is solely based out of my unconscious. I know my dictionary-conscience folks, that dreams are not always in our unconscious, but I believe that the things we dream about (at night or those huge goals that we have for someday…) often sit right below our conscience surface and impact our decisions – whether we want them to or not. So, again, I ask, are my struggles based out of my reality or my dreams?

What about you?
– mark

The past two weeks, our pastor has been dwelling on the difference between waiting upon the Lord and waiting for the Lord.  The difference being on who we’re waiting on to make something happen – not doing anything until God moves (waiting for) and waiting for God’s timing (waiting upon).  We were challenged last week to figure out what we are waiting upon the Lord for…  It bothered me for a few days, because for a long time, I don’t think I was doing anything but waiting for God to change my heart.  But I was wrong.  In returning to church as an involved participant, I realized I again was waiting upon God. 

Those of you that know me, know that there haven’t been 2 weeks in a row in the past several years that I haven’t been in church.  But, even though I was there, there was very little involvement, if any, on my part.  I was very much falling out of love with church.  In what may very well have been a last ditch effort, a trip to a broken church reminded me why God left his passion entrusted to the church – a community of broken pieces trying to figure out how to chase after Jesus. 

So, as I drove to work on Monday, I realized that I had subtly moved from waiting for to waiting upon.  Where do you stand?