Monday, January 09, 2006

Disillusionment Can Be Good

At the turning of the new year, I found myself feeling somewhat vacant and listless. I was concerned about my lack of joy, purpose, and passion. Yet after some introspection, I knew that it was simply more of the detoxing process.

I spent many years addicted to hype - chasing god, praying for breakthrough, anticipating the next conference, pressing in, marching forward, fasting for revival, proclaiming the vision, etc.

Not that there is anything wrong with all that, but personally, I am disillusioned about church life.

Graham Cooke describes the deteriorating condition of worship in the temple at the time of Jesus:

A creeping institutionalism had given way to form without power, to style without substance, and to a performance mentality that elevated men, not God, in the presence of people. People did things to be seen of others; rules of behavior governed the lives of many. Leaders had become blind guides, searching the Scriptures without prophetic insight. Those who most desired the coming of the Messiah missed Him because their interpretation of Scripture was not mingled with prophetic wisdom. (A Divine Confrontation, Graham Cooke)

Along those same lines, someone else said this about church in our time:

The age of institutional religion is fading and will pass away. People are not interested in coming to our fortress, they are interested in finding a living God in the life they lead. That's why Jesus tapped into the human hearts by proclaiming the Kingdom in the midst of a people who were disillusioned with religion. It wasn't about coming to the synagogue, it was about universal accessibility to God opposed to the exclusivity of the Pharisees.

The listlessness waned and I found myself being drawn to the Lord's side and settling into a place of rest and peace in Him. If I can only be near Him, I don't need to know the outcome of this journey.

Some wise words from a friend:

Disillusionment, I am beginning to suspect, is exactly where God would take some of us in His effort to bring us closer to himself. (Pam Hogeweide)

The whole point of vulnerability (disillusionment) is to bring us to a place of restful dependence on God.

I will continue to imagine, deconstruct, and ponder the condition of the church. I can't help myself. However, I have a sense of anticipation in watching God's plans for the church unfold.

Revelation is not just our ability to hear the Lord. It is also about our capacity to carry that truth and to be built into the new thing the Lord is creating. (Graham Cooke)

This is what I want most for the new year, to be personally changed and shaped by the truths the Lord reveals to me.


Kelly said...

what a good resolution! i understand the disillusionment. just this afternoon i was talking to a friend about these feelings so many of us share.. about the church, about Jesus, about worship. i mean, is this thing really real?

we all seem to have the same thoughts and feelings, how did THAT happen?

God is birthing something new and fresh and unexpected. maybe we will never see the endgame, which can be a little disheartening, but then again... i don't think i mind so much.

Pam Hogeweide said...

grace, you and i need to hook up! here you are quoting my all-time favorite teacher/prophetic person/guy. i have cd's by him and have always thought to get Divine Confrontation. I have the cd's from his Church as a Living System conference given here a couple of years ago. I didn't go, I rarely attend conferences, but someone got them for me. I have loaned these cd's out to many, many people. And they always find their way back home. I would gladly mail them to you if you want to borrow them. Think of his Divine Confrontation mandate being taught for about eight hours. I've listened through it at least twice, some of it more. Being a housecleaner has it's advantages - while I've scrubbed toilets I've listened to Graham or some other cd of music or teaching. He is a person I would love to interview someday.

I have a verse for you:

Jeremiah 31 - those who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness...I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with my lovingkindness....

I'm glad I stumbled into you out here in this weird wilderness, where I have never been before. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one. Let's keep each other company and discover greater dimensions of God's grace and affection as we are inactive and dreadfully sparse in our religious activity. I had no idea how much of my identity was wrapped up in doing until I stopped doing. Wow. I really am a very religious woman, argh, which has not been fun to realize.

Hey, let me give a quick shout-out for a very freeing book someone just loaned me. Titled, Repent from Religion by Gregory Boyd. I need to get my own copy so I can highlight it and quote it. This book can be found at Amazon so just go there for all the info and synopsis. Look for my review. I highly recommend this book. Chapter 11 is the best.

Cindy said...

Grace, I pray that you'll continue in peace, as you continue to grow in - grace! Thanks so much for sharing your insights.

Lily said...

I, too, find Graham one of my favorite teachers. I have been to several of his conferences, and I have been working through Divine Confrontation for several years...and I will read bit and then find it takes time to digest it. So I keep plugging along at it.

I think God breeds disillusionment on purpose. I know when I chose to allow myself to be stripped of all the ways I defined my faith (church, ministry, etc.) and was left with only God Himself, I was amazed at what I found.

I have a friend who I "rant" to about my disenchantment, disillusionment, disenfranchisement, and whenver I'm through...I get off my soapbox and ask her "do you think I'm wrong? Am I crazy?" And she invariably says "I think God has you right where He wants you. I don't know what He's doing in you, but I know He has a purpose."

"Revelation is not just our ability to hear the Lord. It is also about our capacity to carry that truth and to be built into the new thing the Lord is creating. "(Graham Cooke)

That's who I want to be, too, in this new year. The person God is building into the new thing He is creating.

Robbymac said...

Ah, Graham Cooke...

I've got that book, too, and when I was on tour with a worship band a few years ago, Graham was the speaker at a conference we were leading worship at. What an amazing teacher, very humble. I liked him.

Two years after we started the Dead Pastor Society, I remember having beer and nachos with a good friend of mine (on my birthday, no less), and suddenly heard myself saying, "I'm sick of being wounded by my church experiences. I want LIFE, and I want it now."

That began the upswing of the detox. That was in 1999, and the invitation to join the cross-country worship tour I mentioned above "suddenly" appeared just a few months later. It was a very healing tour for me.

I pray God brings something similarly life-giving to you!

Writer's Blog » Blog Archive » Labels & Disillusionment said...

I’ve never been a big fan of giving people labels, and while I recognize a certain necessity for categorizing people by various criteria in order to facilitate discussion, it’s a practice I tend to shy away from (hence, some people calling me ‘Mr. Technicality’). I have always been one to make statements of broad generalization, all the while recognizing, if not outright stating and identifying, the fact that there are exceptions to every rule. Generalizations and stereotypes have their places and are useful, but they can be relied upon much too heavily at times.[...]

Pam Hogeweide said...


grace said...

I agree with you. As long as our questions draw us closer to the Lord, the outcome will be good.

thanks for the verse. Maybe that should have been my blogname, "grace in the wilderness." I'm glad we met here also.

Honestly, I was a little hesitant picking up this book again, wondering if it was "baby or bathwater". It seems like a different book than when I read it a few years ago. Of course I'm reading it from a completely different perspective.

I can't say I agree with it completely, but it has been good. I'm checking into the possibility of attending meetings he'll be at in Wyoming in April.

Thanks cindy!

It would seem that God is involved in this stripped-naked process, since it leads to vulnerability, dependence, and brokenness. So fun, huh?

Thanks robby. You've had an interesting life. I agree, life's too short to stay wounded. I think we are closing that chapter of the book. I'm not sure what is next though.

It is good to hear of Graham's character.

I agree with what you say about setting aside our differences and working together for the kingdom.

the link is to an article that jim has written about disillusionment and the emerging church movement.

Jim said...

That's the closest thing to a trackback that Blogger allows. The link is essentially a file path that shows I've written something related to this article and by clicking on the link you can follow it back to the whole article. I have to work with what tools I have. ;-)

Pam Hogeweide said...

thanks guys. i'm a technically klunky. i'll be sure to check the article out!

Dave Faulkner said...


Thank you - I just found this piece via Randy McRoberts' blog. I've linked to it in a piece on my blog. I'm grateful for the encouragement. Reading a few of your other posts you have gone through a lot more than we have.

grace said...

Hi dave.
It's nice to meet you. I pray you'll feel God's presence in whatever you are going through.

Aj Schwanz said...

Thanks for your words. Graham has become one of my most favorite voices of clarity in hearing from God. And disillusionment: yes. I'm preparing to go to a conference with a bunch of theological folks, and I'm in a frame of mind that I might want to kick them in the shins and yell, "FOCUS ON WHAT'S IMPORTANT: WHAT'S LIFE-GIVING! Not all this head knowledge!" Oh, my prayers should be for the Lord to guard my tongue and attitude, eh? :)