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Pre-order your copy now. Click here –> The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art

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Pre-order your copy now. Click here –> The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art

Pre-order your copy now. Click here. –> The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art

A Thanksgiving Proclamation from George Washington, 1798

The desire to give thanks is (to me) one of the more interesting of human compulsions. We give thanks to one another and that’s understandable. But what about those moments in which we encounter such beauty — like when, in the autumn of the year, we reach the top of a hill and a valley of color spreads out before us — and a feeling of gratitude wells up inside of us? Who or what do we thank?  We thank our lucky stars, the gods, nature, or our good fortune because our instincts, our hearts, our minds somehow know to reach out to whatever is the source of everything.

thanksgiving
So, as Thanksgiving is my favorite celebration of the year, and, as I write much about the future, I thought I would offer you something from the past: A Thanksgiving Proclamation from George Washington dated October 3, 1789.

Enjoy.
George

Thanksgiving Proclamation
President George Washington
City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Mega Church or House Church Networks: Part 2/ Heart and Hospitality


Welcome back. You belong here.

In PART ONE of this Two Part post titled, The Mega Church and Home Church Networks: Twin Trajectories and Why We Need Them Both, I wrote the following:

The first [Mega Church] trajectory needs excellence and resources to launch and heart and hospitality to succeed. The second [House Church Network] needs heart and hospitality to launch and resources to succeed. [More on this in my next post].

One of the reason corporate leaders and corporate churches don’t get mission to the emerging culture is Continue reading

Mega Church and Home Church Networks: Twin Trajectories and Why We Need Them Both


Welcome back. You belong here.

There seem to be two leadership trajectories in the west. The first seems to be characterized by the recent phenomena of mega churches in the world. The majority of church conferences today are focused on this reality. The essence of these conference experiences seems to be a kind of corporate leadership guide for aspiring Executives of Corporate churches. Each conference introduces a new inductee to the role of mega church pastor-hood.

The excitement this type of environment creates for some makes others yawn.
Continue reading

What is a church?

Part of my search for the mystic is a quest to reconstruct meaningful ways to be and build kingdom community in this new world. To do this I think we need to experience a

I’ve got more thinking to share on each of these and some ideas on a couple of new categories as well. Stay tuned. But I want to make sure that we stay true to the essentials. So today’s question is:

What is a church?

Is two or three gathered by the calling of Christ to reach people (Mission), who share the Lord’s Supper (Missional Community), and baptize converts (Missional Activity) a church? What more than this is necessary? Or is this too much? Or is it something other than these elements?

What do you think?

Blog posts of note…

For an excellent conversation that references my post on a Reversal of Kingdom Capital see Anne Jackson’s (aka “flowerdust”) post titled,money, money, money.

For an outstanding application of what we discussed on my post Fiesta for God , check out Kristi Cornwell’s post titled, The Party . Her story comes complete with a blazing fire, a barn and line dancing.

Ladies, hats off to you. Excellent stuff. Thanks for leading the way.

into the mystic…

Alex McManus

Search for the Mystic – A Reversal of the Time/Space Continuum (1.3)

Welcome back.

What would change if…

There was a form of the Christ following movement that was a lay movement built not on a geographical proximity nor on shared physical space, but on cyber-proximity and shared cyber-space?

What do you think?

Scroll past the story below and make your comments.

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In search of the mystic (1.3)

Her hands were perfect. Every finger seemed exactly the right length and there seemed no discernible change in the smoothness of the skin from her fingers through her thin wrists and into her arms. Beauty, however, is not just about hands. It also includes the kind of technology one sports. She had a Mac, a sleek and silvery temptress indeed. Excellent, I thought. Signs of a wireless connection.

“Getting a signal?” I asked.

She nodded her head once and dropped her eyes.

For an amazing city, Barcelona is poor when it comes to easy-to-find wireless access. This Starbucks was one of the few places –in fact, the only place – that I had found where one could connect with the rest of the world. I had originally scheduled to travel to this wireless Hot Spot the next day but I just couldn’t wait. I needed to upload photos and post to my blog.

Barcelona is also lacking in kingdom links and threads. This beautiful city, while rich in church buildings, is poor in communities of faith of the kind that seek to make the world a better place. Those conditions always make me feel right about being there.

Have you ever felt angst in the center of your being?

Sometimes I just feel like I must be more and do more because humanity down to the last man, woman and child is locked in an epic battle. It’s not that I “have to.” It’s not that I “want to.” I simply must. Usually, I take a sip of wine or take a couple of aspirin and lay down until the feeling goes away. But it never fully leaves me. It just waits until the right moment to strike again.

Who will reach this young woman with the perfect hands? I thought. Who will reach the world my daughters and sons will live in?

Every time I travel someplace new that seems to be in primal need of the news that Jesus crushed death, this angst lessens. I know that seems backward. Don’t get me wrong. For six years I served in key leadership roles at one of the great churches in the world. A church with amazing leaders, an amazing congregation, and an amazing vision, still the angst was there.

Not boredom. But violence.
Not an existential absence of meaning and purpose. Urgency.
Throbbing silently.
Calling me.
Not to something better just something other.

I made a peace with this primal longing long ago when I realized it would always be with me.

I pulled out my power source, the correct power adapter and plugged into the power outlet. I set up my Sony USB cradle, docked my DSC-TI digital camera and then connected it all to my PowerBook G4.

With all my gear out and in the open, I knew I would not be able to leave even to go to the bathroom without putting everything away and taking it with me. “Professional bag thieves,” the sign to my left warned in both english and spanish, “operate in this area.” I was stuck there until I was ready to pack it all up.

I hadn’t noticed, while I set up my gear, that the young woman had closed her laptop and slid it into it’s sleeve. I opened my webmail, and as I simultaneously launched iPhoto in order to begin importing my pics, she stood.

“Because the entire universe depends on it,” she said.

I looked up.

“You’re not supposed to be here today,” she said. She slipped a textured piece of paper on the keys of my laptop and spun quickly on her heels. She looked back and pointed at my Mac. “Anywhere there is wireless and an open laptop, there may be a manifestation of the Mystic Nation.”

I almost knocked my table over getting up and as I began to go after her I again saw the sign.

“Please keep a close eye on your personal belongings at all times.“

I looked back at my gear and then back to the street. As she she stepped out she met a young woman with excellently curled brown hair. They spoke a second, looked back for a moment then turned and disappeared into the crowd.

I’d already suspected for some time that The Mystic were more than just the urban legend I had at first suspected, and this wasn’t the first time this kind of thing had happened to me since I launched my blog, “into the mystic,” but it was the closest encounter yet. And again, it was almost as if they knew where I would be.

I sat and picked up the piece of paper the young woman had left behind. It was a page torn out of a journal. A hand written and dated entry.

“Warriors needed in a quest to save the universe one planet at a time starting with Earth. Safe return doubtful.”

into the mystic…

Alex McManus

Search for the Mystic- A Reversal of Kingdom Capital (1.2)

Welcome back.

What would happen if …

the millions and millions of dollars that are given each year to churches was suddenly released back into the hands of believers with the commission to directly make someone’s life better?

Think of it. Hundreds of millions of dollars that would no longer be used to maintain the property of stagnant churches but instead placed again in the hands of the regular people who believed enough to give it in the first place?

Their instructions? Make the world a better, happier place. Fly salmon in from Alaska and throw a party for someone that has yet to hear of Christ. Pay someone’s water bill. Give someone a used car. Take someone out to dinner. Why? For no other reason than that you love them.

These questions are a sort of summary of the story told below. Feel free to scroll all the way down and comment on these questions without reading what follows. I warn you. Scroll quickly past the following story and don’t read it unless you have to.

What do you think?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In Search of the Mystic (1.2)

The lounging bodies of men with hairy backs in Speedos and naked, sun-bathing women on the shores of the Mediterranean now behind me, my thinking turned sharply towards my search for The Mystic. I boarded the train for the short trip to central Barcelona and tried to organize in my mind that which I had come to know of this enigmatic movement thus far.

I know what you’re thinking. How? How and when did I come to know what I know of The Mystic and who told me? All I can say is that they always seemed to know where I would be. My encounters with these mystic warriors would always be brief and somewhat shrouded. Always. I’ve come to suspect that this was for my protection and not theirs.

Like the young woman with perfect hands that sat across from me on the train. She was reading when I found my seat and left suddenly at the next stop. But not before telling me out of the blue to keep searching because the fate of the universe depended on it. “Out of the blue” has a new meaning to me now.

train tracks leading to Barcelona

The future, I am told, will be different than we imagine. More wonderful than we could imagine, they say, and far more terrifying. According to the Gallup organization, Future Orientation is one of my Strengths and I love to think about what awaits us. But when these mystics speak of the future it is as if they have already lived it.

In the early part of the 21st century, they say, the predominant forms of the Christ following movement, the Mega church and the house church, would begin to give way to new expressions, new alignments.

New forms would emerge, one of them called The Mystic. This clan was characterized by a series of paradoxes

  • Larger than a mega church and smaller then a house church
  • Everywhere and nowhere
  • Radically decentralized and radically unified
  • Local and global
  • Electronic and biological
  • All the clergy became laity and all the laity became priests, poets and eventually, mystic warriors.

One Story of the Genesis of The Mystic
The genesis of The Mystic was unremarkable, I am told. So much so that no one saw it coming. Nevertheless, several streams of origin were discernible, the most important of which is the evolution of the human species from Homo Sapiens to Homo Electronicus. But another of the earliest streams, and the one with which we’ll begin, is when the flow of Kingdom capital reversed itself.

The de-evolution of a species

One of the more circulated genesis stories is of a young man living at the end of the 20th century who started a Bible study. His unreached friends came and converted to faith in Christ. The deacons of his church encouraged him to bring his friends to church so they could grow.

The young man knew if he took them to church they would be lost to the Christ following movement. He spoke with the leaders of the church and explained the situation but they were unwilling to see his point of view. He had grown up in that church, gave money there every payday, and loved it in every way, but he couldn’t take his friends there. He wasn’t sure what to do. Finally, as his church did not understand his dilemma, he decided that he needed to part ways with his church.

As an act of commitment to the gains he had made among his unchurched friends, he sent his offering to a mentor from college whose blog he read every day. Inside the envelope he put a note indicating his predicament and stated that he wanted to reach his friends and didn’t want to do it alone.

Shortly thereafter, he received an email from his mentor.

I’m not a church, his mentor wrote. I have no building to build. No staff to pay.
Therefore, I accept your giving as your commitment to live a life focused on those who do not yet know. You are the church. You’ll receive in the mail a check for the same amount as your tithe minus 1%. You are commissioned to use all of it in any way that directly serves those you are seeking to reach.

[As a side note, I met a young man with a similar story in Central Florida early this year. Had I known then of The Mystic I would have invited him to join me in my search.]

Within a couple of years, many others followed. They reached critical mass silently through the invisible world of the blogosphere. As they grew they each began to give to the mentor, in the pattern of the first young man, 1% of their income as a commitment that all of their resources would be used to serve and reach the unreached. As part of their commitment, they set aside the remaining 9% to throw parties, or feed the poor, or pay someone’s water bill, or do any thing they wanted that would directly touch the lives of others.

Mystic Warriors, as they would come to be known, would become known as the most generous people on earth among those they touched.

Balconies in Barcelona

Without intending it or even knowing it, they created a radical and revolutionary realignment of the economics of the Kingdom. Thousands and tens of thousands of Mystic Warriors and the hundreds of millions of dollars of Kingdom capital that would have otherwise become locked in the budgets of churches that didn’t work were all of a sudden unleashed to directly touch somebody’s life. The revolution had begun.

With the passing of time, this community began to take on a shape and form of it’s own unlike anything that had manifested on earth before. [For those of you who think this is just a fiction, think again. The signs of the revolution to come are all around us. Check out Dean Sharp’s September 8 Post. It will scare you.]

I know what you’re thinking. Where do they send the 1%? That’s what everyone asks me. As soon as I figure that out, I’ll let you know. For right now, my offer still stands: I’ll travel any distance to meet for even one minute with any one of these mystic warriors. My quest? To find the guide who has shown others the way into the mystic.

What do you think?

into the mystic…

Alex McManus

On Death And Resurrection

Joyful Easter. Michael and I had a great conversation about the gospel this weekend. Fifty thousand years of accumulated experience by the 70 – 100 billion Humans who have lived on this planet have led us to know at least one thing: the dead don’t return. Accepted practices for disposing the corpse and expressing grief exist in every culture. [Yes, in some cultures the almost dead were buried.] These practices remind us that the dead are gone forever. This is what we know.

The gospel of Jesus is rooted in a reality that defies that which we – the entirety of the human race – have come to know with certainty. The dead are not raised. I love the last verse of Mark’s gospel: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” They ran as women in upside-down worlds.

What if what we have come to know with certainty is certain no more?
Then perhaps we should run, friends. And tremble. If Christ is risen like he said.

Happy Birthday Erica. My little girl turns fifteen on March 28. For her birthday experience [to take place when I return from Germany] she’s taking her friends to China Town. Apparently, they will all be dressing in traditional Chinese garb, dining and shopping. Only Erica. You’re right, my love. Strange is not a crime.

This is a pic of Erica in London in February 2005 when she was only fourteen.

into the mystic…

Alex McManus
Munich, Germany
© 2005

Los Angeles: City Of Faith

los angeles, ca
7.39 pm

i love la. it’s a city of faith. people move here from around the world believing they can “make it.” when a police officer stops you here, he doesn’t ask for your driver’s license. instead he asks for your headshots. The city of angels, a city of faith where everyone is gonna be a star.

my wife, niza, served tables and then managed a hip restaurant in la. practically everyone else serving tables with her was a hollywood hopeful. in cities across the planet people exchange business cards. in la we exchange demo cds. i say “we” because i’m in the middle of my own cd project now. did i mention my story, fat tuesday? one day my novel will become a screenplay that will be shot in brazil, then brought into the states as an independent foreign film, then remade into an english language feature film. i won’t have a prepared written speech when i win at the oscars either because i’ll be so surprised. i have it memorized instead.

this city breathes faith into you. it makes you believe in the impossible.

i love la. it’s a graveyard of broken dreams. wrinkled people slave away at meaningless jobs, dreams and hopes sucked right out of them. no callbacks. they seem old for their age even though in la, forty is the new thirty. i guess it makes sense that the young look old, if at thirty you’re really forty. but more than old, they look desperate. what if i don’t make it? i’m not going to make it. i didn’t make it.

dreams die in la. they’re buried here. what la needs is someone like jesus who called out lazarus’ name. a call back for the dead.

into the mystic…

© alex mcmanus, 2005

Intersections

9.30 PM
London, England

he was standing at the moment of believing.

“it seems that lately all my conversations are about faith,” he said.

birger (pronounced beer-ga) and evelyn had invited him to travel with us to a party. although not a believer, he had asked this couple for prayer because he needed their “divine connections” to help him find a job.

“i pray you discover why you keep having discussions about faith,” i said.

“i know why. i keep coming here.”

he knew, it seems, that time and eternity, heaven and earth, the spiritual and material intersected in this couple and in this home. his request for prayer was not based on his faith. he believed in their faith. his request reminded me that everywhere the feet of the called touch the ground is an intersection. time and space are porous and God’s kingdom permeates everywhere, but around people like birger and ev, along with their teammates adaumir and andrea, the kingdom of God pours through in big drops.

i wrote a lyric years ago for a song called “sacred journey”:

everywhere our feet touch down
you have been there to be found
sacred paths of love entwined
intersections of divine embrace
on this sacred journey

this new friend sensed the density of God’s kingdom in birger’s house. he suspected these people were an intersection between the human and the divine. he feared without believing that dangerous and inexplicable things could happen at these kinds of crossroads.

often those who do not yet believe lean on our faith until they discover suddenly that they too believe.

into the mystic…

© alex mcmanus, 2005