Dot to Dot.
I have shared before about God joining the dots to start to reveal a picture of what He is doing in these days. Some of that happens physically as we meet others on the journey outside the four walls, some of that happens as we connect through people’s stories and blogs and accounts of their journey. Some will happen as we give space for those stories in our own sphere. Dot connecting to dot connecting to dot… That is why I wanted to give space on my blog page for other voices and people on a journey. These stories may have got to this point differently and even be expressed differently in the present and future, but there seems to be some spiritual sense of connectivity going on in the margins and amongst those in the wilderness. Love it that we can share, lean and learn from each other. My first ‘guest’ blogger is Mark Pixley from California, U.S.A., a connection via the blog/Facebook that I have learned to love and appreciate. I will let Mark introduce himself (taken from his blog page)
Hi, my name is Mark and this is my blog. I write mostly about my faith, but also about other things when the fancy grabs me, I love music and was a worship leader for the last 15 years, but I love life in all its packages, neat and tidy, messy and intense.
Originally the title of this blog was about me breaking guitar strings during worship, it was a normal event for a season, I am a pretty percussive guitar player and often broke strings right in the middle of our corporate worship time in Canyon Chapel Williams…but lately (since leaving Williams) the idea of broken strings appeals to me on a different level…living life with no strings attached, strings of fear, control, culture and expectation…what if we could live completely free of the entrapment’s?
My life story is a journey of faith, saved at six by an encounter with Jesus and the path later where-in I discover divorce/death/defeat/dis-fill-in-the-blank, and being a single dad of the 5 most incredible people I know, redemption/restoration/reconciliation/re-fill-in-the-blank, and friends who walked with me, away from me and to me as my journey has evolved.
I think that’s what drives me most though, I fall in love and then have to clean up the mess…I don’t mind though and anyone who thinks there should be nothing to clean up is either not paying attention or does not understand the power of passion. (http://markrandallpixley.wordpress.com/)
The Shave of things to come
I enjoyed my first shave recently…now mind you I’ve been shaving for thirty years but I have never enjoyed it. Shaving has been such a dislike of mine that for almost thirty years I have had some kind of beard/mustache/goatee combination.
Last year while going through massive transition frustration in my church/ministry/covenant relationships I decided that rather than keep on doing the old give and take of relational trading I would become completely transparent and see what happened, to solidify this choice I went ahead and shaved my face back to bare skin something I had not done since I was twenty.
With this action I was choosing to be completely vulnerable.
It was a huge risk in my world, none of my relationships at that point in my life had ever seen me without facial hair…I stared into the mirror and drove up the courage for about an hour and then shaved…since then I have remained bare-faced and regrettably have to shave, something I do not enjoy.
Enter Harry’s, a small company started by two men that sells razors/shaving cream/blades online…these guys compete with the big boys of shaving, the big corporate giants that have been around for years, companies like Gillette, Schick, Bic, large companies with millions in resources…I investigated, saw how easy it was get their stuff, felt the price was fair and ordered a kit and extra blades…a few days later my order arrived in a great looking box, free shipping and all the kindnesses I had been missing by buying the corporate products.
So I shaved and for the first time I totally enjoyed the experience, and felt right doing it because Harry’s gives away kits to vets and unemployed guys who need a shave, a small company with a simple dream and a big heart.
My transparency experiment did not go well…I was the only one who became truly vulnerable and later some of the things I shared were used against me to distance long time friends who remained in the fold…but to be honest I have come to like the feel of becoming completely transparent, I like not having the carry around the baggage of covering up my doubts, my fears, my failures…I like a clean shaven emotional life, it’s honest, but perhaps not in style…yet.
To be fair I was a little to honest, but it goes with my passionate side…and I have never really been to far away from this since I regularly met with the pastoral team/my friends and we have a history of knock-down-drag-outs, I always opened up my life for examination…its just this time I pointed out and said the things I felt and thought deep inside…”stunned” was the reaction I was told…and I was stunned that it was such a big deal…so my exit was obvious, but unexplainable to others without them using the phrase “wounded” in reference to me.
I’m ok with the transition “out” into the wilderness now, I love them and pray for their success (I pray daily that God in love will drive them into the wilderness as well), but what I was unprepared for was an operating system hard-wired into my emotions that immediately told me I was now “uncovered”…I sorta freaked out on this one.
My kids all looked at me dumbfounded and asked me what was I talking about? I said “I am not under a covering, I am vulnerable…aren’t I? They laughed at me…and told me to read my bible, go see what it says…
I humbly submitted to my kids and went and read my bible, to my shock my doctrine of covering was no where to be found in the scripture.
We like to be covered, I think it is a basic fallen human reaction, we invent fig leaf doctrines and paper thin relationships in life to protect us from being naked and bare skinned…but anyone with a razors eye knows how fragile the veneer of dried up leaves really is…so we replenish dead coverings on a daily basis rather than the garden we were assigned to.
We like it so much we have a doctrine of covering that we do not even hold in honesty…I have heard and taught about “women praying with their head uncovered” meaning that a woman must be “under” a mans authority in the church/ministry/pulpit/home whatever in order to protect her…but the same passage that tells us to cover her tells us that a man should never be covered, it is a shame to his head, yet we keep men under the authority of other men and don’t even think twice about it…its a dishonest use of the verse and we won’t admit it…if she cannot function unless she is covered then to be honest all men should immediately become independent of whatever authority structure they are under in order to keep the scripture consistently. We say the passage refers to “authority” for women, but actually “hats” for men…its really absurd when you think about it.
(Although there are a few places I am sure that make it hats/scarves for everyone we still want to cling to our fig leaf doctrines rather than admit we have no idea what Paul was talking about)
An Army of Davids
I think companies like Harrys are the way forward…small, nimble, adaptive, and they are not even on facebook…go figure. Our economy and corporate church mentality is headed to the cliff, anyone with a bit of sense can see this, yet very few people are willing to come out of the tents and face the intimidating giant on the plain between the camps.
David had spent all of his (possibly illegitimate) life taking care of a few sheep out in the wilderness…and in that solitary place he had learned to be transparent with himself and with God and it freed him up to be passionate and bold so when he came into the camp and heard the intimidation of Goliath he probably laughed.
It is my own personal opinion that David was clean faced…mainly because of the word “youth” implies adolescence, and in Israel that was determined for men primarily by facial hair…but I think its more than a cultural reference I think it is a metaphor as well that should lead us to consider how David really was…and if you read the Psalms he is quite possibly the most transparent man in the Bible…we often make David’s intimacy the issue of “a man after Gods own heart” and I won’t discount that but I would like to suggest this additional element, his transparency…
David heard all the experts and King Saul tell him all the things they felt he needed to hear and do, then gave him the most current tools and teachings so he could win…(for them by the way)…and all of them were 100% wrong and completely out of sync with Gods plan, in the end David just brushed off their advice, became vulnerable by dumping the old armor of a failing empire and went out in the boldness of his transparency and intimacy with the God he knew…armed with only a stick he had become fond of, a sling that kept him from being bored in his exile and 5 “smooth” stones hand selected from a brook, and loaded into his fashionable knapsack made out of lion-skin.
Have you ever thought about what David said about Goliath? He referred to him as “uncircumcised”…of all the things to say about a giant he picks out this one…I mean why not say “that freak of nature over there with a head the size of a Buick”?…
Personally I would have picked on Goliath using some other feature of his instead of his genitals…and without being to graphic (hopefully we are all adults here) he is making a comment about the flesh that covers up our most intimate parts…David saw this as an insult…to both him and his God…David was insulted by the fact that this giant was uncircumcised and demanding obedience…He understood that covenant intimacy requires nothing be covered, not even the unmentionables…
How many of us are willing to be completely transparent, uncovered, wrinkles, warts, fears and faces? Not many, and our current leadership model does not encourage this at all, we think we need to “learn how to grow up big and strong” as Mark Heard would sing about, but Jesus will point ALL leaders in the other direction saying something about becoming like little kids I don’t really remember what he says because its not all that popular.
Bottlenecks famines and razors
Recently in one of my prayer experiences I saw the Lord take a bottle of His finest wine, I knew it was the wine of this season, and he walked over to a rock and broke off the neck shattering glass everywhere and making it easier to pour it out…it offended me, I said there will be glass and shards the wine is not usable, He looked at me with blazing eyes and said “It is my wine and I want the bottle-neck taken off my people”…
What if our need to be covered has bottle-necked Gods power to transform our communities?
I live near one of the greatest revival communities on the planet (I’m 30 minutes from Bethel in Redding) but the metrics of crime and social statistics around here are appalling…proving we can have revival and not change anything…
What if it is our model bottle-necking the wine of true transformation and not the absence of revival? The word revival does not mean in scripture what it means to us, and neither does covering.
Please hear me, I am not suggesting we deconstruct all of our models, that sounds like experts talking, frankly we are in a completely new battle with an enemy that has been trained from his youth on feeding us to the birds…spreading panic in the ranks is not the answer…most of the people have very little hope as it is…David did not deconstruct Saul’s kingdom…he just went out in his own passion with a word from Samuel that he would be King one day…and that day was not today so it was obvious he would not be killed by Goliath since he was not King yet.
I will leave you to make your own conclusions about what I am suggesting here…but I will make one more mental note:
Joseph used a razor and made it possible for an entire nation to be saved, that possibility might have slipped away if he had remained unshaven and looking like a Hebrew… Joseph had a gift from God that the Egyptians desperately needed, but the cultural differences between him as a Hebrew and the Egyptians were huge, read the rest of the story there is a lot of “covering up” the family because the Egyptians despised these hairy barbarian animal lovers.
But Joseph puts aside his traditions and embraces the culture he is in and becomes transparent…they need to see him to trust him.(Genesis 41:14)
So what if your experts are ALL wrong? (They are paid to be experts, not paid to be right)
What if you don’t need money? (the Lord recently proved this to me)…
What if you don’t need an organization behind you? (Paul proved this one many times)…
What if the only thing between us and our communities being saved from the famine that is surely coming is we look to much like Hebrews and not enough like an Egyptians? (Joseph proves this possibility exists)
What if ALL authority meant everyone got it, not just the guys in the “neck”? (The early church proved this)
What if its possible to compete with the big boys and do it with class and integrity from humble beginnings and in a way that makes transparency feel right? (Harry’s proves this is available)…
I have come to enjoy shaving now…both in terms of my grooming but also in terms of my humanity…being vulnerable is actually the safest place to be in times like these, and I am finding a world full of Egyptians that are not the enemy…just moms and dads with kids to feed on the edge of a huge famine…people with a dream that they do not understand…and unless I shave they will not be able to hear from me…it goes against my family culture…but hey if I’m pushing the Joseph metaphor my family is not here yet.
The one drawback is I have to do it everyday…sorta like tending a garden.