***Welcome to the Process Driven Life - May Blog Project. During the month of May, this blog is being turned over to my readers and friends. During May and probably June, my regular updates, scattershooting, etc. will only be available on the Friendslist.
Make sure to read the issues you missed. Check back regularly this month to find out what my readers have to say!***
Guest Issue #7 -March 2003 ~ God allowed me to see the putrid sewer that is me. Prior to that the Bible never spoke to me, and now what it said was, ‘You deserve to go to hell’. Yeah, I know, not the ‘feel good story’ you’ll get from the people within the local brick and mortar building known as a ‘church’, but I wouldn’t give up that experience for the world. I spent three weeks in tears. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was much like the character named Christian in the book Pilgrim’s Progress, and my entire inner being cried out, ‘What must I do to be saved?’
Prior to this experience I thought I had done all the right things. I believed in Jesus Christ my whole life, but this was different. It’s also not something that I can fully explain. Hundreds of times I’d seen the ocean on television. One day I saw the ocean in person….big difference, and this is the difference that I speak about when I say ‘this was different’. I can relay to you what happened, and since you understand the English language you understand what I’ve said, but unless you’ve had a similar experience, you don’t really understand. The only way we can truly know something is through experience.
From then on I spent every moment talking to people about Jesus Christ. I knew just enough to be dangerous, because I knew nothing at all, but I thought I knew it all. I stopped partying, excess drinking, dumped all my friends (ok, ya got me, they dumped me….they said me on religion was like a bad acid trip), found some ‘christian’ people with a discussion board on the internet, listened to ‘Christian’ radio, and joined a Presbyterian church.
Presbyterian Church could be a story in itself so we’ll fast forward to when they wanted to buy a ‘block of tickets’ to the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’. I knew this was a bad idea. In a desperate search to find something in words that could express what I already knew in my spirit I came across an article titled "The Passion”, Soul Food for Fat, Stupid Religionists by Michael Bunker (MB). I’m a sucker for sarcasm and wit, so I wanted more. I found the author’s website, lazrusunbound.com, and joined ‘The Forum’ discussion board. I told all the people on the old discussion board about the wonderful teacher I’d found. They were not interested in this new teacher, they had their own teachers, and they proceeded to attack everything being taught by MB. I also told everyone at the Presbyterian Church about MB’s teachings. Mostly they just nodded their head until they saw a way to escape me.
Typical escape tactic: “Julie, oh Julie. I’m sorry I have to go speak to Julie about working the children's nursery next Sunday, excuse me a moment.” Yeah, she never came back.
One day in the ‘Women’s Ministry’ the pastor’s wife was speaking to a group of women from the church. Prior to her ‘teaching’ I happened to mention to the woman next to me that I’d been brought up Roman Catholic, I’d been through several other religions, and that I joined this church due to the recommendation of a preacher I’d heard on the radio. I said I didn’t really even know what a ‘Presbyterian’ is. I remember this very clearly…..she looked at me with her perfectly painted eyes, pursed her lipsticked lips, leaned her head sideways flipping her salon perfect hair and asked, ‘What are you doing here then?’ That was the best question anyone ever asked me.
I considered how my spirit had been screaming at me that something was wrong the whole time I was in the Evangelism Explosion class. I considered how uneasy I felt during the welcome speech by the church’s pastor in which he explained that Christ was the life preserver thrown to us as we were drowning and we just needed to reach out and grab him. I considered the 40 Days of Purpose class, and the buses hired to cart people to ‘The Passion’ movie, and how both made me want to scream out, “don’t do it”, but I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why. I considered the puzzled look on the man’s face who interviewed me for church membership as I told him my testimony.
My escape tactic: ‘Julie, oh Julie. I’m sorry; I have to go talk to Julie about why everything in this church seems wrong, excuse me a moment.’ Yeah, I never went back.
Initially I was quite puzzled by the Lazarus Unbound website. There were pictures of men building fences, and people talking about raising chickens, and an invitation to join them at their ranch. After logging-in to one of the live chats that they hosted I decided to visit the ministry in Smyer, Texas. My husband Greg would be out of town on business during this time, and he did not mind that I went alone. My reasoning was that we would need to know how to survive without taking THE Mark of the Beast, and as far as I could tell these were the only people training people how to live without the current worldly system.
My pride, my bad actions and my big mouth (imagine that) got me into trouble that first visit in 2004 causing me to be shunned for 90 days. I may even be part of the inspiration of the third part of the Plague of Women teaching series.
Paradoxically, this is something I have deep sorrow over, and yet am most grateful at the same time. I counted those 90 days off like a prison sentence. The day I got out of that jail I publicly apologized, and I continually thank God for His gift of repentance.
Anyway, Michael taught differently from anyone I’d ever come into contact with. He said that we couldn’t ‘make a decision for Christ’, and used the biblical reference of Lazarus’ rising from the dead when Christ called to him which confirmed what I already knew in my spirit. You must be born again to reach out with the new life given by Christ as He plants that seed within you. MB said the Bible’s lessons are agrarian based. We are all made from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7) and we were told to dress and keep the earth (Gen 2:15). God didn’t change that command after Adam’s fall, although He did make it a lot more difficult to achieve (Gen 3:17-19). It was our job back then; it’s still our job now. When we do the job God created us for, it brings Him glory. It really IS that simple. You do not need an abundance of ‘book learning’ to see this is true, it’s ‘common sense’. God’s providence didn’t allot me an abundance of intellectual knowledge, but He overloaded me with common sense. Actually, most of the time I pity those with intellectual knowledge, they tend to ‘over think’ things and can’t see what’s right in front of them.
MB’s teachings have led me to a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. In contrast to my experience at the Presbyterian Church, the Holy Spirit confirms and witnesses within me the things I’m being taught. Also, MB’s lifestyle is an example that a person can live a holy (separate) life from the world. He has pointed out that an agrarian lifestyle is conducive to understanding the agrarian messages all throughout the Bible. Those who would bandy about such words as ‘glean’, ‘reap’, ‘harvest’, ‘till’, ‘sow’, ‘plow’, and other such agrarian terms from the Bible, and yet have never lived a life where they had to ‘DO’ any of these things, cannot possibly comprehend the full depth and meaning those words convey. Like I said earlier, the only way we can truly know something is through experience.
If any of this sounds as if it is easy, or that I accept all of the teachings with joy and never doubt or rebel against them at times, then I apologize. That’s all part of the process of decolonization. What MB does do, is put into words what I already know in my spirit, and he doesn’t compromise one bit. That’s all anyone can expect from a godly teacher, but he does that and more because he practices what he preaches.
Here’s God’s recipe for the biblical teacher I require:
One part annoying personality (Being shaken from sleep is necessary, but annoying)
Two parts common sense
Three parts wit
Four parts intelligence
Five parts patience with the unintelligent
Six parts persecution resistance
Seven parts wisdom
Eight parts living as an example of lessons learned, and then subsequently taught
Mix and sprinkle with sarcastic remarks, and then place in an area where the sheep feed so they can find him.
I’m so grateful and joyful that God made that recipe for me, and that he allowed me to find His servant in Christ, so that I might be fed.
Bonus ~ I’m also allowed to call him my brother and friend.