I’m Okay with Brokenness: Guest Post

 Hey, this is a red letter day. I have a guest blogger! I read Nathaniel’s post on Facebook and I felt inspired to write another post about The Liturgists here. I asked Nathaniel Stone, who is a millennial and owner of Stoneridge Studios if I could post his writing on a blog, and I was thrilled that he said yes.  The support for what he said was amazing.

I believe that The Liturgists are saying almost exactly the same thing in their unique way. I am sure that there are many people who have similar views as Nathaniel here in Northwest Arkansas. Many of them may have fear that if they will share their hearts this way, they will be rejected.

I value Nathaniel, Mike Gungor and Science Mike (who host The Liturgists Podcast) because they have the courage to share what is on their hearts in spite of the fact that many will criticize and reject them. Those who are wondering, “am I the only one who believes this way? Am I crazy?” can summon the courage to join the conversation at some point.

The need to belong is one of the most powerful instincts. The fear of rejection comes from this need. Our survival appears to depend on being accepted by a tribe or a group. Yet some of us decide to take The Hero’s Journey as Joseph Campbell describes it. Stepping out our comfort zone into adventure helps us to be more alive, and thus more likely to connect with the real Jesus that Nathaniel talks about. Jesus was pretty wild!

Here is what Nathaniel posted.  I welcome your comments.

I’m okay with brokenness, in fact I love it, because brokenness is what drew me to something real.
I think most people are afraid, if we show our weaknesses, others will see that in us. So we try to put on a good show, separate our “goodness” in a corporate setting like church or business. My generation, but even more so, the generation below me, is looking for something real. We see through all the phony attempts at being good. We have experienced the most divorce, the most struggle. And we couldn’t hide the struggle as much as we tried. Now, we are okay with being real. To the religious world it may seem pretty horrific. 

My youth leader’s phony smile and pat on the back didn’t lead me to something real. All the games and snacks to make church seem fun, didn’t lead me to an encounter with Jesus. Perhaps that even lead me away from Him? It wasn’t until I left the religious community and started looking for something real that I found it.

Some find drugs, some alcohol, some sex. All these things that are just as pointless as the phony religious smile. And guess where I found Jesus? Out there! You can try to bring out programs and our ministries “out there” but that will drive us truth seekers farther and farther away. Not until we find the real Jesus will we stop. Bringing man-made programs about Jesus only make us look for something else because it seems phony to us.

Perhaps most in the church have not truly encountered a real Jesus. If you have, you know he’s not tied to religious ceremonies, catchy talking (preaching) or emotional musical serenading. If anything, those things mask who Jesus really is. He was a form of God, born in a nasty stable, from a virgin girl, who to the world without faith, he seemed like a bastard child. God came in the lowliest of forms, not to bring perfection by conquering Israel from Roman persecution but for real life, aching, searching, desiring, perfection of the heart, as we are drawn to the Father.

Because we’ve seen who our Savior is, real, beaten to a pulp, bloody, and hurting for our hearts to be joined to His, now, the only thing we want if we are truly searching… is Him. We can try to create a conquered Jerusalem by expanding our churches. Bringing the masses in front of our stage for all to see our strong king by our earth-shaking music and our powerful preaching.

But then I think of what Jesus said, “love God and love our neighbor” and I wonder, have we missed the simplicity of the gospel? Did he want us to conquer at an earthly level? We can regroup and think of different ministry tactics but do we even KNOW Jesus? If being real brings us to a low place in order to find Jesus, I’m okay with that. Because I want to experience, for real, the Jesus who didn’t come to conquer kingdoms, but to conquer sin and death! He is all I want. Maybe this Jesus is enough? ‪#‎jesusisenough‬

Why Science Mike Should Become a Vegan

Science Mike is a very inspiring millennial guy who, along with musician Michael Gungor, are doing an awesome, amazing job of building a bridge that  atheists and others who are disillusioned with the Christian faith can walk on in order to explore following Jesus. You can find their podcast here.

I heard Science Mike say something like, “I should be a vegan.” I was very interested in that statement, because one of the first podcasts I listened to he was talking about how wonderful cheese burgers were. I also know he has asked listeners to help him stay away from Pizza Hut. I think he is evolving.

I know that he has a huge, compassionate heart, and also that he is ultra scientific.  I am hoping he will watch this very short video about how animals are treated so cruelly in order to bring folks meat, fish, eggs and dairy..

When my daughter and I were offered $1 to watch this movie last summer when we were checking out the sights outside the Comicon convention in San Diego, I immediately stopped eating animal products of any kind, except for honey. I had already been a vegetarian, bordering on vegan,  for over 42 years. But after seeing the graphic details of this gruesome video (yes, it will take some guts to watch)  I was ready to go totally vegan.

I did well for about 6 months, but then the images in my brain faded and I was able to block out the horrific pain that even dairy animals and chickens raised for eggs experience. Since I watched the video, I simply can’t add to the suffering of these friendly, intelligent, helpless, and sensitive animals who do absolutely nothing to deserve their fate.

Even if Science Mike doesn’t become a vegan, I hope at very least The Liturgists will interview someone like Maggie Olsen who wrote this great article in Today’s Christian Woman.

Or, they could interview me! I’m available.

I am happy to say that my son, former husband Cliff, and now my other former husband Robert, are mostly vegan. My daughter is an omnivore right now, but maybe watching this video will put her over the edge–she has such a compassionate heart. I hope we can all commit to being fully vegan Wellspring Community.

Well, I know Science Mike and Michael Gungor probably have a list as long as the state of California of topics that their thousands (or is it millions?) of listeners want them to cover. But I hope that they will put the topic of veganism on the top. If more Christians became vegan, that would draw the attention of a lot of people who are practicing a very Christian principle of being good stewards over the animals, but do not call themselves Christian. This could widen the bridge a lot! Plus, it would can offer 57 health benefits  and help stop global warming.

Be a good example, Science Mike–I bet Michael Gungor (if he is not already a vegan) will follow suit. And thousands of others. Just think how many animals will be saved, how you will live longer to tell your story, be a parent, and learn more about science. Thanks for reading this everyone. Share your stories about how your diet impacts life.



How The Liturgists Are Helping Me Connect To My Millennial Friends

The Liturgists Podcasts I just read riveting post on Facebook which written by a twenty-something man. His description of how he was disillusioned by mainstream Christianity and how he came back to faith in Jesus makes me think he would get excited when he  hears the testimonials of Mike Mchargue and Michael Gungor. One is an evangelical turned atheist turned follower of Jesus, the other is the same–except for he was an agnostic.  You can read their powerful stories on their Liturgist Podcast here.

Just to give you a taste of how powerful Mike’s (aka Science Mike) story is, listen to what Michael Gungor says:

“I honestly don’t know whether I’d still be a Christian or not if I hadn’t met Mike.  I consider him to be one of the most interesting and important voices in American Christianity right now.”
Michael Gungor, singer/songwriter in Gungor

Until I get permission from him to share this story, I will call my friend Tony.  When I read his vulnerable and raw description of how he left the church, I felt so connected to him. I had a similar experience when I left the church at 16. Only it took me 31 years to come back to a place where I could follow Jesus. I’m so glad that people like Science Mike and Michael Gungor are sharing a story I wish I could have heard when I was 16. I know that all the lessons I learned while being away from religion are valuable. But there was so much unnecessary pain that I suffered because I kept being pushed away from Jesus by Christians who had an incomplete understanding of how to follow him.

I sense that Tony, like me, wants other people to have the freedom that he has in leaving the confines of established religion and following Jesus in a radical way that leaves room for doubt, and includes the topics of science and art in relationship to faith.

I am guessing that Tony will feel encouraged that there are thousands of people who agree with him.  I think when he listens to more of the podcasts, he will hear his story told, and be even more free to follow Jesus in a way that really makes sense and which transforms his life even more deeply.

Thousands of people (if not more)  resonate with Mike and Michael and friends. When Tony learns how popular The Liturgists Podcasts have become even though their message is radically different from the sermons you hear from most church pulpits, I think these things will happen:

  1. Tony and I will  will feel even more connected and he will realize we have more in common than we thought.
  2. He will want to share the podcast with other people and inspire them to listen, which will result in him feeling more connected with other people with similar views
  3. His songwriting, recording, and performing will be enhanced by what he learns on podcasts with those topics.
  4. He will inspire Michael and Mike to have a Belong Conference in Northwest Arkansas.
  5. We can brainstorm and come up with a plan about how to work together to find people in Northwest Arkansas to come to the conference.

Of course I am not assuming for sure that the above will happen, but I am going to start praying right now, and send this link to Tony. I hope this will be an opening for a conversation between us.

Thanks, Michael Gungor, Science Mike and all your friends and family, for creating a space and structure so that we who resonate with you can unite under an umbrella of faith in a Jesus who, among other things, championed the causes of  love, justice, truth and compassion.





An Ode to The Liturgists

Someone who I respect very much shared the podcast on The Liturgists  Listening to these podcasts have given me the sense that I have come home and I can finally be totally comfortable in my skin and in my beliefs. I feel so inspired that I have decided to write a poem, something I have not done in years. Even then so, poems were rare. But listening to a poet and a songwriter on their latest podcast gave me permission (as if I needed it!) to paint a word picture of how I feel about getting to know Science Mike Michael Gungor and their friends and family. I will be sending this to them, and I hope they like it.  I did very little editing…but if someone wants to work on this, I welcome any input.

When I first was told by my friend that he was listening to the Liturgists,

My first thought was, “who, what–that’s ridiculous.

What a funny name–how could they have anything to say

that could give me more knowledge than I already contain

(I’m being vulnerable now…I’m not always so proud

But at times I can be so self-righteous–but at least I’m aware)

I mean, I respect you my friend, and I want to honor your taste,

And I love you as well, so I am willing to give these guys a chance.

So when I first listened, I worried a bit.

“Where is my friend going with this?”

Is he going off the deep end—maybe losing his faith

But the verdict was not in yet. I merely learned their views on sin.

Some words resonated with me, but I still wondered if I was in

But then I listened to Michael and a musician who told their stories of faith

I was sure Michael was still an agnostic, the way that he rolled.

When I told my friend, “I’m not sure about these guys,”

“Are you sure you want to keep going with them? Are you being wise?”

“Just listen to their stories where they tell the tall tales

Of things that actually happened—you’ll get past the veil.”

Well I loved my friend, and I wanted to honor him,

So I took a deep breath, and tuned in to Lost and Found #6 and #7

I cleaned my room thoroughly—their podcasts are all long

But I couldn’t stop listening, it was like hearing a new song

When I heard Mike’s story of how he was raised in the church

Then became an atheist I got nervous

Where is this going—is he an atheist evangelist,

Trying to persuade me that God doesn’t exist?

But then I kept listening, and the doors started opening

Into places in my mind and heart that had been shut for a while

Something within me jumped for joy

And I wanted to cry

This story of Mike, and how he actually inspired Michael to come back

To a faith that was lost, but really needed some tweaking,

That now he could create these Axioms about Faith

That could create common ground with my friends who were skeptics.

I know this poem is losing ground, it’s losing its pace,

But I’m not really a poet, so it’s not my place to be perfect.

But I’m just giving my best shot

To try to paint a picture of how I feel

Kind of like when I see images of Yosemite—so beautiful and real

Reminding me of my first awakening there overlooking the valley

when agnostic that I was

Heard God telling me to travel- to get out of the fuzz

Of materialistic living, and pleasure seeking style

I was dying. I needed life and God helped me all the while.

The 13 month trip at age 19, turned my life around as I saw all the suffering

In India, Afganhistan, Pakistan and elsewhere

I become a serious seeker, and finally found Jesus…but it was a long hike.

I keep listening to the podcasts. I want to respond.

By writing at least one or two blog posts for each time they come on.

I have so much to share. I want to tell them “I’m here”

But I haven’t yet put my toe in the water. It’s not out of fear

Or is it—am I afraid? Of rejection, or being ignored—

After all, they are getting so popular and busy

Besides, I’m an elder—maybe one of the few

Who just love their millennial coolness—I mean their words are so true

It doesn’t matter because I believe

That they would talk me, if I saw them on the street.

Or at the Belonging conference.

I’m glad that they are busy and people want to talk to them

It shows that more people are resonating with their message.

I believe they are fearless leaders and teachers and friends

But they don’t want power over or money from—they just want to love.

They are simply holding up the sign, “It’s safe—you belong-

Come join us—join each other—let’s sing along!”

A song that brings unity without uniformity

With harmonies and rhythms and dancing as well

With words that resonate in our hearts and our brains

And maybe, just maybe, we can together proclaim,

The kingdom of God is here and now

Whenever we gather together in love, understanding, and bow

To the One who loves us so much that he keeps

Using every means—including Mike and Michael

And you and me,

So we can follow our Jesus, in peace, joy and justice.

And we can really be free.