Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Lost Boys

“I was a part of a group of kids during my elementary years that would wander the oil fields of southern California fighting invisible monsters with sticks. We would spend our entire saturday doing this, and have a lot of fun. This group evolved over the years into something similar to the movie “Fight Club.” We would gather together as often as we could and we would fight each other as a way to not only test, but to embrace one another as brothers. Granted, we had no idea what we were doing but we felt that it was important to experience these ancient tribal warfare experiences. We were a lost group of boys, and girls, who didn’t have the rites of passage experience to help us discover the truth about who we were. The sad thing is that many of those same individuals are stuck in the same place that they have been for years because they just don’t know who they are as an adult.
The only culture that is really seeming to lack any sort of transformative, intentional and powerful rite of passage life event is that of the United States. All too often we see young people struggling through life not quite understanding who they are, so they put their identity into their stuff or become chameleons and take on whatever identities might be around them at the time. This is truly unfortunate in the lives of these young people. If our culture and society would just offer some sort of clarifying rite of passage many life problems could be avoided. Many young people go without this opportunity that they often feel stuck and not able to move on. So they begin to create their own rites of passage experience that usually ends up as a negative experience. Hazing, gang initiations, drug use, crime, the perpetual Bonnie and Clyde cycle that originally was meant to go somewhere but ended up in destruction.
Not to say that all self perpetuated rites of passage experiences go bad. There are many examples of healthy rite of passage experiences that were self taught. I am reminded of a young man who felt the “pull” to become a man. So he went on an adventure to prove to himself that he could handle anything that life threw at him. He backpacked his way through Asia figuring out who he was for one year. He came back a different, yet healthy man.
I don’t know what you, the reader, is going through in your life. I do know that everyone, across all borders and ethnicities have to experience life, and life more often than not throws crisis our direction. It could be that you have just lost a child. You can’t have children and want to move on. Your parents have passed away. You have lost your job or are making a career change. Maybe, a natural disaster has completely destroyed your life and you are trying to get back on your feet. Perhaps you’ve just been diagnosed with end stage cancer. Maybe your marriage has ended in disaster and betrayal. Transitions are a part of life and the rites of passage is what helps us to identify, mark in time, and acknowledge and move on. Can you find it within yourself to fight with the demons of your life crisis and move on?”—-The Journey

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Regarding Fear

There  is a wonderful story in scripture that describes fear in a way in which every person across every culture in the world can relate to. Let me tell you the story. Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and set off across the lake. Suddenly a great storm rose up on the lake battering the disciples with waves and wind and mighty tempest. So much so, that the disciples began to fear for their very lives. They were afraid. Fear began to gain a foothold in their minds. And Jesus their leader and friend. The go to man when things got scary and rough was asleep in the stern of the boat with his head on a pillow. Sleeping soundly without a wrinkle of worry on his face.

Matthew and Mark record their responses at the knowledge of Jesus being soundly asleep with  the question, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Matt. 4:38) their fear has a real foothold now. The don’t ask about the strength and power that Jesus has, “Teacher might I ask that you please make this nasty little storm calm? It’s most unpleasant.” Or about his knowledge, “Teacher by chance, have you noticed this particularly nasty storm around us?” Or even Jesus knowledge of past experiences, “Teacher, by chance, have you ever dealt with a storm of this magnitude before? If so, could you please teach us what to do in this circumstance?” No, they do the fearful thing thing and hold right to their sinful human nature and accuse Jesus of not caring about them or their lives. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” A fearful exhortation. This is what fear does. It corrodes our confidence in Gods goodness. And it turns us into control freaks. We begin to demand of Jesus to “Do something about this storm!” Fear is the perceived loss of control in our lives. When all the world goes to pot we drastically reach out to take control over any aspect of our lives that we possibly can. We reach for control over our diets, how clean our car can be, and most times we try to control other people and the issues that they are experiencing.

What’s interesting to me as well is the fact that this storm occurred after the disciples had seen Jesus perform all sorts of miraculous wonders. Shouldn’t those accounts offer Jesus up some credibility in the eyes of the disciples? Fear makes us forget about the important things that we already know and have experienced. And Jesus responds to the disciples by telling the storm to be calm, be quiet. And the storm is miraculously gone. He then asks His disciples, “Why are you afraid. Do you still have no faith.” A question for us all. When we are fearful are we trusting that Jesus has our best interests in mind? Or are we slipping once again into the self centered-ness of sin? Jesus tells us that we need not fear over and over again in scripture. In His book Fearless Max Lucado lists out some scriptural references dealing with fear:

So don’t be afraid. You are worth much more than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:31 NCV)

Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven. (Matt. 9:2 NASB)

I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough. (Matt. 6:25 NLT)

Don’t be afraid. Just believe, and your daughter will be well. (Luke 8:50 NCV)

Take courage. I am here. (Matt. 14:27 NLT)

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. (Matt. 10:28)

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. trust God, and trust also in me…I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1,3)

Don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

“Why are you frightened.” He asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt.” (Luke 24:38)

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. (Matt. 24:6)

Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” (Matt 17:7)

There are two sides to the coin of fear. Fear not only serves to distance us from God, it also serves as a healthy function in life. Fear is what keeps us from putting ourselves into danger. A small dose of fear will keep our children from running out into traffic. Fear is the appropriate reaction to a wolfs snarl, or being on the wrong end of a gun barrel. Fear itself is not a sin, but all too often, and in the case if the disciples in this story, it can lead to sin.

In the case of The Journey and what it has to offer a person, fear is something that will be experienced by most people. The threshold experience is when a person undergoes the challenge to fast and spend three days and nights alone in the wilderness.  Jesus spent forty days and nights in the wilderness dealing with the temptations that the devil was flinging to Him. You too shall be tempted. Tempted to not want to finish your quest. Or to eat. Or to not take seriously the matter at hand, and to want to settle with your old you.”

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The Right of Initiation

“Have you ever noticed how people come together in the midst of tragedy or dire circumstances? It is in our nature to to step up and help others so that we too can work through the crisis. I have toyed with the idea and have actually created a crisis event to bring a group of young men together. I was planning to fake an injury while out in the backcountry with this group, hoping that the scary tragic nature of the injury would get the boys to rise up to meet the challenge together of bringing me to safety. Brett Stephenson also pondered the same idea as stated in His book “Slaying the Dragon.” He also writes that the “Rites of passage are based upon the concept that what one experiences, directly affects whom that person will become. What people go through has a direct impact on whom they become. If you put them through a strong, healthy test, you will get a strong, healthy individual back.”

Challenge and initiation are both important. But there has been a lacking of both challenge and initiation in our various cultures in the United States for individuals, especially youth. Most known cultures across the world have had the realization that the young people in their community need to be a part of a structured initiation at a particular time in their life. But western culture, in its own viewpoint has become more civilized and therefore has decided to avoid risk taking in order to prolong life at any cost. And in its limited view of the world, has began to take on the view that these other cultures who practice these “barbaric” initiations of their young people, are beneath them, or are pagan and therefore negative.

What’s not quite understood is that these initiations involve the entire community from which the young person is from. The initiations and rituals involved the participation of all and therefore put great emphasis on the fact that transitioning young people into adulthood took the entire village. It was dear to the community because these young ones were to become providers for the entire group. They now had responsibilities that if not completed or taken seriously the rest of the tribe suffered. Initiation was seen as a sacred time within the community because literally, the survival of that family depended on the seriousness of the initiation process. The more dangerous or painful the initiation, the more change in the individual is achieved. The result produces thriving people.

Western culture has taken this idea and flipped it on its head. We are more civilized and technologically advanced. We have supermarkets and jobs that pay money. We don’t need to hunt or gather anymore because the capitalistic society we live in has put everything on our doorstep. Everything we need is accessible. The more comfortable we are the more successful we appear. Only now our young people lack identity. They don’t know if they are a child, a man or a woman, or both. They are caught somewhere in between and so stay, basically where they are and have been their whole lives. I know many “men” who still act like boys because of this limbo that their identity exists in. They don’t know what they are, and therefore they can’t, because they don’t know how, initiate their children into adulthood when the time is right. And the cycle repeats itself. It’s a wonder why gang violence is so high, and teenage pregnancy rates are not seeming to fall. Our young people are crying out for some sort of important initiation in their lives. They are tired of living in limbo, not knowing where their identity lies. It’s our job as leaders within the church to begin to grant people; men, women, boys, girls, the initiation they need through rites of passage. It is their right to have the opportunity of initiation. We owe it to them.

This is the goal and mission of The Journey.”

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Face Book Page Party

Okay, so we are going to have a FB page party from time to time on www.facebook.com/thejourney1.0 at 7:30pm pst. The first one is on October 5th at 7:30pm. Here’s how the party works: about every 10 minutes, we’ll post a discussion question. To answer, reply with a comment! Then take a look at the other comments on that post – use your ‘like’ button and enjoy chatting! Remember to hit REFRESH every few minutes so you don’t fall behind in the conversations. I’m so excited! Please come and join us in discussion!

Blessings.

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