Before i post a couple of poems (1 that i was able to finish after Genesis and a second one i wrote on the heels of that one), i need to say a couple of words about Genesis.
What is Genesis? It's a church plant here in the Roanoke Valley. If you want to find out some of the basics, check out their link: http://genesisroanoke.com. Their core beliefs, information, and staff are posted there. My friend and comrade from the old Slam days, Lewis Kleiner, is a staff member, and was instrumental in getting me to Genesis.
I've only been to 2 services, which have been held every 2 weeks, in the evening. At both of those services, i was struck by several things almost immediately:
I did not feel like an Outsider. This is an unusual experience for me, because as a person who--in the words of Pastor John Ault--"walks the edge," i usually find myself on the periphery of any group i come into contact with. To walk into a church where this was NOT the case was a powerful draw. The dynamic is utterly different from so many churches i've been privileged to attend. Even the word "attend" doesn't fit . . . any more than you would "attend" your home. Even more strongly tonight i was struck by the feeling of COMING HOME.
The Spirit was at work at Genesis . . . in a strong, powerful, forward-moving way. I've attended several churches who had the Spirit at work, in a powerful, convincing, CONVICTING way, but this is by far the strongest i've felt this. I can only report on my own reactions to this "phenomenon," but as someone who is aware of the Holy Spirit, i assure you, this is no fluke. There was a palpable sense--in the people, the music, the pastor (more about him in a moment)--that God was right there in the trenches with us. (WITH US! I actually said "US!" I'm used to talking in terms of "them," but man, i was a PART of this!)
There was no judgementalism here. This goes back to the first thing i mentioned . . . i could feel people looking at me, but it wasn't a cold or suspicious "looking-at" that i sometimes get. It was more of a "Hey, he's new here." Instead, i felt almost immediately embraced. I "clicked." And, brother, when somebody like me is able to sense that "click," it's an experience. I know i'm a bit of a freak (yes, i'll say it, and i'm not ashamed of it), and can be somewhat intimidating on short notice (i am Grendel, after all) . . . so imagine how powerful that felt. How simultaneously welcoming and, in a way, almost scary . . . when you know you're in a place or among a group of people who've cast their whole lot on Christ, and are willing to go the distance for Him REGARDLESS OF THE COST, it can be a very awe-inspiring experience.
The pastor--Craig Tackett--is HANDS DOWN one of the most powerful, energetic, and gifted speakers i've heard. I DO NOT EXAGGERATE. It's amazing to watch him take a single, simple, and maybe even oft-repeated passage of Scripture, and drive it home with what is undoubtedly the sheer force of the Holy Spirit working through him. He means what he says, too . . . there's no pretense, no "better-than-thou" attitude, none of the "party line" rhetoric. God has obviously called this man to do exactly what he's doing, and when he spoke, i could hear something inside me practically screaming "YES! YES! YES!" It was all i could do to restrain myself from doing just that . . . jumping up and screaming "YEAH, MAN, YOU TELL IT LIKE IT IS!" And, as intimidating as something like that can be, he's approachable, and that sense of welcoming, that he's really glad to see you there, flows as much from him as from the congregation as a whole.
I could sit here and rhapsodize about the experience for pages, but in all honesty, i couldn't do it justice. I've been talking and wishing and all-around WHINING about wanting to go back to NYC or NJ, and a part of me really wants that, but now i'm not so sure that God wants that . . . or if He intends for it to happen as quickly as i want it to happen. THIS CHURCH FEELS LIKE HOME. If God wants me here, to hang my wanderer's hat here and become a part of what Genesis is doing here in Roanoke, then i'll do it. I'll throw everything i've hoped and planned and dreamed on the altar for God, even if it's in Roanoke. God is everywhere, and He's everything good in my life, and if He wants me here, then "here am i, send me." This powerful conviction isn't something i take lightly . . . it's something i've felt in the past when i came to a place i was supposed to be. I felt it at the Poetry Slam. I felt it at Grace Covenant. I felt it in NYC. And i feel it now. This "waiting stage" of my life might have been nothing more than God preparing me for something else . . . something i couldn't have imagined. And, when you're talking about an imagination like the one that ravages me every day of my life, that's saying something.
I could think of nothing better than getting down here in the trenches with this group of committed people, LOVING people, and putting what shoulder i have to the wheel.
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