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Aug 17, 2009

Stuff Worship

Living in the wild is about the only way I know for a person to authentically connect with God on a “one-on-one” level. Christianity has become a crutch for many people with it’s faithmany laws, traditions and doctrines. Often times, we find that the things we “hold to” actually end up taking the place of real relationship. They not only get in the way, but they make it impossible because people are encouraged to hang their faith on these things rather than on God Himself.

Before long we end up saying things like, “Do you believe in the bible?” or “Do you believe in the church, the trinity, or the virgin birth?” In a desperate attempt to link ourselves to God, we build a chain with all these beliefs to hold us up. The problem is that our beliefs aren’t in God Himself, they are in things. The moment one of these things are called into question, we lose our faith completely. This is why so many people fall away from their faith when theirthings pastor has an affair or if they happen to see a movie like “The Davinci Code” and the things they’ve “held to” are shaken.

The church knows that people’s faith is not based on God, but on stuff. This is why they go nuts when movies that contradict their doctrine come out. They fear that many will fall away on account of that movie, and they’re right. That’s exactly what happens because people don’t know God anymore; they know stuff. People’s entire faith rests on the stuff they’ve been taught. Mess with the stuff and you mess with their faith in God Himself. Take the stuff away and you take God away.

The problem is that Christianity has become a religion. It’s become a system of beliefs that a group of people hold to. It was never meant to be this. Christianity was meant to be a personal experience between an individual and God. Religion demands that everyonebelieve “stuff” in unison. It focuses on the stuff and calls it holy and infallible. It lifts the stuff up and obsessively talks about it as though eternal life comes through the stuff. In the midst of all this stuff-worship, no one ever connects with God. They can’t as long as their faith is in the “stuff.”

Faith is given to each of us for one purpose. It’s our personal line to God. We are to put our portion of faith in nothing other than God. Because faith was created for this reason, it naturally makes anything it is put into, its god. Unfortunately, religion holds up stuff and encourages us to put our faith in it. Once we do, we lose. Faith wasn’t for stuff, it’s for God. When we chose to put faith in stuff ABOUT God rather than in God Himself, we end up in a spiritual state of limbo where our stuff is our god. We become like a fan-club of a famous movie star sitting around comparing notes and collecting trinkets, thinking that we know this person because we study stuff about them and possess something of theirs.

We also end up making God into a vending machine because stuff-worship disallows our hearts to embrace a personality. Stuff-worship demands consistency and predictability. trinityOnly a machine behaves this way. Faith makes whatever it is put into, its god. Because of the state of American Christianity, god has been presented to the world as a heartless machine or a big book that is void of personality.

Eventually stuff-worshipers begin to describe their god (stuff) as having the same attributes as God Himself. They start saying things like, “The bible is infallible andbible perfect,” “It is to be called the Word (which is Jesus Christ)”, “You have to believe in the bible in order to go to heaven” and “The bible is holy and reading it is the equivalent to hearing from God.” They encourage one another to meditate on the bible and put it in their heart. They’ll even start “Bible churches” and spend hours in those churches studying the bible. They’ll support missionaries who go to other countries where people don’t know about God and they’ll smuggle bibles to them thinking that they actually brought God there.

Many people see their church as being infallible and holy. They’ll consider the sacraments to be equal to God. Even communion goes from remembering Christ to becoming Christ. Their forgiveness of sins come from the church and their salvation is in the hands of the church. They're told that when they give money to the church, it's the same as giving to God Himeslf. The words of their pastor or priest combecome the words of God. Every attribute of God is attributed to the stuff people have put their faith in.

I get emails daily from people frantically defending their stuff to me. They’ll read an article I wrote that encourages folks to retract their faith in stuff and put it in God, and they’ll immediately see it as an attack on their god. In reality, it is. It’s an attack on what their faith has made its god. If their stuff or their god is shaken at all, they become terrified. They’ll say stuff like, “If I can’t believe that the entire bible is infallible, then I can’t believe any of it and all is lost”, or “If I can’t believe in this promise, I can’t believe in any promise,” or “If this one thing isn’t true, then none of it is true.”

I think we do this because as human beings in a physical world, it is our carnal nature to be drawn towards things that are tangible. We want something we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears. The idea of knowing an invisible God within our heart seems impossible. If we can’t touch Him, hear Him, or see Him, we don’t believe we could ever know Him. This mentality is perpetuated and magnified as we put our faith in tangible stuff. Eventually, It becomes even more difficult and impossible to connect with God in our hearts because we’ve fed ourselves a steady diet of physical things. The extremely raw truth of living this way is that we are really a bunch of atheists, who like to practice rituals.

Most Christians would be furious to read those words, but I honestly believe it's true. I think our entire religious system is set up the way it is because deep in the hearts of thepeople hierarchy they are atheists. They don’t trust that anyone can hear from God apart from their input. They take it upon themselves to disciple people rather than trust Christ to do the job. They decide when the “Holy Spirit” falls in a meeting by dimming the lights and playing slow emotional music at just the right time. They insist on leading worship, serving communion, leading prayer, teaching our children, and deciding where we give and how much we give. Leaving these things up to the individual and God is not an option because when push comes to shove, they don’t believe there is a God.

I think that all of this comes through putting faith in stuff rather than in God. I’ve found that while living in the wild, I no longer have the stuff in my face like I did in the institution. There is nothing in my face in the wild. It’s a sink or swim situation and I’ve come to believe that this is what millions of people need in order to know God personally. Remove the stuff and believe.

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  1. Gravatar

    "The extremely raw truth of living this way is that we are really a bunch of atheists, who like to practice rituals."

    An accurate indictment. Very good post.

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    Miguel González

    Totally agree, and the end is exact. We need the wild because we need to remove the stuff and be with God fae-to-face. Nothing else matters.

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    David Backus

    I am going to risk taking a classic verse to another level here. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." I noticed that when I tried to construct my life and my faith out of all this stuff, it was shoddy at best. When I simply sought to know and love God, all of that "stuff" started to fall into place neatly and naturally and made a lot of sense.

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    This is soooooo true! My faith saw very little results when I was in the IC. Now, the "stuff" I used to do in order to be connected to God completely turn me off. Bible reading and "worship" music are 2 of the biggies. I was so dependent on these things, that since leaving the IC I've had a strong aversion to them both. But now I am more aware of God with me all the time than I ever was before when I was in the IC and trying so hard to connect with God. He is Here, always. I never have to try anymore. He is not the Bible. He is God. Putting our faith directly in Him is critical. We'll never know Him otherwise.

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    I can definitely see now as I am working on my second year of being outside the IC...all those, that STUFF of what meant to be spiritual or connected to God is well, still unwinding - but I sense a more connectedness to God even though I still struggle with this or it unfolds. Sink or's like the theory of floating in water, when I struggled to stay afloat, its just that a struggle; but when I rest and allow my body to float it's easy...I hope something made sense.

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    hey that's interesting, it's also no longer my responsiblity to uphold this stuff when it is threatened, god has become the lion that defends himself, god has become the one who will show himself to someone.

  7. Gravatar

    Another excellent article from Darin! Clear, concise and to the point...and yes, hard-hitting! Thanks brother!

  8. Gravatar

    Great article! Growing up my faith was with God simply and easily. As I matured I thought in order to have "more or better" faith I had to read my bible for hours, study, play worship music and "do" the appropriate things. All this never deepened my relationship with God it was a battle of always expecting more and needing to do more. When I stepped out into the wild again the relationship that seemed to be always out of reach started coming back and deepening. Thank you Darin, for speaking the truth we all need to hear.

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    @ Per: I love the floating anaolgy! Reminds me of "The Message" take on Matthew 6: "What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving... Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out...Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow."

    It is definitely an unwinding process, kind of like busting open a golf ball and having the rubber bands all unraveling until you get down to the core.

  10. Gravatar

    You read my mind. I've been really struggling here lately. You're right. People are so enthralled with believing their stuff and doing their stuff and they think that is all God. I have found myself wishing I could just leave the country for a while so I could get this culture out of my thinking. Maybe then I could truly grasp, and hang on to the raw simplicity of a real relationship with God.

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    Just tossed YEARS of study materials and notes I had come across whilst cleaning. Squirreled away for 'future edification' should I need them. Just a peek @ some of those notes on how to please God, get more faith. Obedience, study, prayer. da da da da da...So much studying. So much writing. SMS (so much shit) as one of the people on this sight has so aptly pointed out.
    So many times I thought I'd arrived @ the place where all would be fixed. All would be well. Let me tell ya, there's nothing quite like a good dump! Geez. All this tossin' & dumpin! Suppose I have the flu???
    I'm finishing a quilt I started 7 yrs. ago and I've had the best 'quiet time'of my life. No forced study. No forced prayer. Just me and God.
    Thanks for 'sharing your heart' Darin. Really!!

  12. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thank YOU deb for the real and raw response.

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    David Backus

    Anyone need an enema? LOL

  14. Gravatar

    Debsfree, I love it. :-D I have also done several rounds of tossing and dumping (laughs). I'm going to have to remember this one!

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    Wow...this is exactly what I have been thinking about the last few the Bible is actually an idol in the IC I use to attend (the the mission I use to be a part of). Ironically it was exactly the way Darin mentioned. When someone I deeply admired started questioning the Bible's reliability, that it made me "fall-away" and start questioning too, which eventually brought me out of the IC, thankfully. the Bible was the idol I worshiped. Thanks Darin (and the rest of you on the "into-the-wild" show) for giving me permission to put the Bible on the shelf for awhile and actually listen to the true WORD of God.

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    I know I sound redundant, but I can only say, again, Wow! How do you do it!!! I know the answer to that! I hope I get to see you when you come to Australia.

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    A while back I met you in Bismarck ND.That takes guts by the way cause it wasnt summer. We had a brief discusion about music. I play guitar at church have for many years and at many different churches. You said you found that a lot of the modern contemperary christian music is a boring imitation and you would rather have the real thing. recently myself and some other burnt out worshipband dudes started a group. We decided rather than be a christian band we are christians who play music together , big difference. Now we play where and what we want and loving it.Funny thing is we still have limits but it comes from with in and we easily agree when something isnt what we should be doing. now thats freedom I love playing once again.

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    Darin Hufford

    That's so good to hear Paul. I'm happy for you.

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    Jim K

    I've now read this several times. This is all new to me and I think I'm glad to have found it. Became a born again Christian in 73'. Stuff pounded into me then by a well know organization. Stuck with me until 94'. The whole time my heart felt "guilt ridden". 94' saw a family tragedy. Since then my heart has been steeped in grief and pain. Until now, no reason to reconnect with God. Was I ever connected? I never felt like it. I always wanted to be. Perhaps now I can find, know, and enjoy (Did I say enjoy?) the God who is there. I guess I will see. It is pretty evident after spending just a few weeks spending time with your thinking and seeing how it lines up with my heart, that all the stuff didn't help me a whole lot. I love the thought of a real God out there who wants to be in here.

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    Teri Undreiner

    I watched a movie where a chinese man was talking to a recent russian escapee about communism. He said, " communism in itself good... bad in evil hands." Paul said that some preached the gospel for many diff. reasons but he rejoiced that it was preached. For me it's like reading a "Where's Waldo" book in the IC or the free believers venue. You gotta keep focusing your own eyes and heart to find God. Sometimes you have to close the book,but the Book's not evil. Sometimes we get distracted by all the "stuff" around God but that's anywhere isn't it? I've found it around those who have "left" the system and those who have stayed. So... for me? " keeping my eyes on Jesus, who started my faith and who will finish it". And quit looking for people's approval wherever I am.

  21. Gravatar

    Hope you enjoy Hell

  22. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Now that's the kind of comment I love. Clearly ungodly and hateful, but at least it's honest. Thanks for the mini illustration that clearly proves the very point of this article.

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    Steven L

    Oh crap! Now I gotta start thinkin' all over again cause I just had the thought, what if? Gutsy man!

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    Oooh Darin, now you have really done it! You're in big trouble buddy! Who said you could talk about my stuff like that?! (SMILE) Well, since you're going to hell, can I post your stuff on Ebay? Surely, it is of some value, don't you think? Honestly, I can't count how many times I have been sent to hell over other people's stuff and before I knew love, my stuff had people going to hell, too! What I continue to realize is our stuff is a heavy burden and I am glad He took that burden from us. Thanks for the post.

  25. Gravatar

    WOWNOWAYBBQ! Really nicely put. Whenever I tell my church friends that I'm facing a crisis - first thing they say is 'Did you put the worship CDs on?' or 'You been praising God at all? Get on that keyboard!!' Honestly my heart just sinks when I hear that as I have always struggled to praise and worship God in times of difficulty and being questioned like that makes me feel so terrible that I give up completely. No offence to anyone who had success in worshipping God as a way of breakthrough but to me that sounds like will power. Even unbelievers would have that kind of willpower to do something like that. You don't need God to do that? I don't know...

  26. Gravatar

    The STUFF is usually law and grace mixed, but both are only head knowledge, then you fall down because you can't live it, good, but the mixture won't pick you up, only true grace, then you experience grace and live in it, now that's really good because you start experiencing God, not just knowing scripture about Him. Then you start to feel grace toward others who fall, judging stops, Fathers loving compassion takes over and you find yourself loving folk where they are, now that's really good for you and them. Anyway ask Him to show you....

  27. Gravatar

    I wonder what kind of stuff is still getting in my way. A friend re-directed me to this article; I'm wondering if there's a connection here. ahhhh, so much to learn.

  28. Gravatar

    I wonder what kind of stuff is still getting in my way. A friend re-directed me to this article; I'm wondering if there's a connection here. ahhhh, so much to learn.

  29. Gravatar

    Still going to church so far; yes I admit it, but seeing things so differently now. We had a sermon on "Unity of Belief" and the summary was that there were things you had to believe to be a Christian (The Apostles Creed and parts of the Nicene Creed were displayed.)(funny but if you asked me the night I became a Christian if I believed those things I would have said I don't know but according to their way of doing things I definitely "became a Christian" that night) then there were things where you have "unity in diversity" where different interpretations of the Bible by different Churches were OK but this church had certain views, and then there were things where you could think what you want basically. But all was to be done in love. That part was nice. When Jesus spoke to the thief on

  30. Gravatar

    the cross beside Him he didn't check out his stand on the virgin birth or the Trinity before promising him a place in paradise, did He? Just a thought.

  31. Gravatar

    Not quite sure I would make the leap to calling folks atheist, they obviously believe in some kind of God else they would not do all the hoop-jumping required by the stuff. I think part of the metric in this equation that might be missing is "what kind of God" they are believing in and when you disengage His provision from their posturing they simply cannot believe in a God like that. The stuff simply props Him up for them...anyone who would lose faith because of a movie never had it to begin with.
    Same goes for a healing or miracle or fill in the blank...if faith gives energy to worship (using Ohms law here) then worship divided by encounter = faith.
    I think faith is the energy of worship leading to encounter...but without encounter your faith is dead.

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