Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Whatever else the Gospel may be, it may clean up your marriage, it may solve your drinking problem, it may do all kinds of other wonderful things, but if it isnt good news to poor people, its not yet the Gospel.
Wallis is adamant that the Church needs to do more than give money to their favorite charity when it comes to following the teachings of Jesus in regards to the poor. Its not enough to write a check and throw money at your favorite faith-based organization, its also not enough to roll up your sleeves and get on the ground and work directly with and alongside the poor. You cant keep pulling bodies out of the river, and not send someone upstream to find out whos throwing them in.
I am searching up river now...and God seems to be showing me the way. Be careful when you take notice of burning bushes and take your shoes off because a "Go Finger" is coming your way...
Monday, May 24, 2004
We were driving up to Martin Hall, having a pretty deep discussion about life, purpose and the mystery of an elusive and sometimes hidden God.
He said he was looking for God and I said...
"If you find Him, tell Him I'm looking for Him too."
I found Him yet again that night in the arm of a young junkie.
Her name is Chelsea. She is 14, "almost 15" as young girls like to always say. She is as pretty as a puppy. Kind of looked like Avril Lavigne without the toughness until you looked at her little arms.
One arms was a mass of little black pin pricks...needle injection holes...she's a mainliner. On the other arm was a host of cuts, small little cuts running up and down her soft little skin...she is also a cutter.
I talked on Mark 5, the demon man who lived in the grave yard and spent his time cutting himself self with stones, screaming at the moon and lived among the dead. I talked about a generation that were dead men walking, that had a legion of demons with names. I shared about how no one could shackle this generation, they were mad, in agony and full of rage.
And I talked about how Jesus came to him and confronted his demons, named them and drove them out. We ended the night talking about being clothed in your right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus and then going to tell your friends, family and relatives about the good things God has done for you.
God was in the house.
I asked for those who wanted prayer. Many raised their hands, so did Chelsea. After prayer I asked who wanted to talk one on one...Chelsea's hand jumped up, her eyes were alive and face almost shining. I sat next to her. Her first words: "you almost made me cry with that prayer..."
We talked, she shared, she wanted to pray but not after sharing that she was from Spokane and had no where to go when she got out...no where to go. What do you tell a girl that says that? I asked if I could pray for her and I did. I leaned as close as I could to a inmate and gently touched her shoulder and whispered prayers into a little girls ears. Prayers that I prayed to God had the power of creation at their beckon call. Prayers that I begged would draw heaven's attention to this little junkie.
When I stopped there were tears on the table. God have mercy I wanted to hold that little child. I told her if I were your daddy right now...I would hug you and hug you and hug you and hug you. Oh how I meant it with all the love of God found on this cursed planet.
I wanted to hold a child that had been raped by her own father from when she was 11 to 13. I wanted to hold a junkie and pray that poison out of her little veins. I wanted to touch her arms and see those scars disappear.
Oh, how I wanted...but couldn't.
After that as I drove home...God spoke to my heart about my future. I will share more about that soon.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
"Is that your minister in immaculate broadcloth and shiny boots, turning the leaves of his Bible with lily-fingers? Pardon me that I did not recognize him. You see I have been reading of John the Baptist with his raiment of camel's hair, of Christ with his single garment, tramping barefoot, unshaven and unshorn over Judea's blazing hills."
- Brann's "Iconoclast"
One of the most humiliating moments of my life...
There was a woman leader I had in a youth ministry I used to lead that had a serious infatuation with me. She had discussed her problem with my wife and I and we had known about it for a while. it was a strange and awkward thing because she was married and we were all pretty close. I wasn't sure what the answer to the problem was going to be.
Then one day after a service we were all closing in prayer and she was next to me on one side and held my hand. I didn't think much about it but later that year she confessed something.
She said the spell had been broken.
What was it that shook her from her madness?
Holding my hand.
She said it was a weak and lilty hand, feeble not strong.
It turned her off.
Well, problem solved for her...but not for me.
That one comment was like a blow from Thor's hammer upon my poor fragile ego...I didn't have man hands...Arghhhhhhh!
I was spiritual, bible bred, could converse, discuss, think and debate. I could write, sing, play guitar and preach with passion. I was visionary, insightful, caring, loving and in touch with my feelings.
But...I didn't have man hands.
The church had taught me how to connect with spirit but not with earth.
As we explore the path ahead for this Saturday night service, one of the things I know one thing I long to see. It's a place where men can learn to be men and be spiritual too. Not a feminized man...not a metro-sexual but a godly MAN. Not a He-man girl hating club but a balanced man friendly environment.
Rom 10:15. "How beautiful are the feet of those that preach the gospel of Peace."
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Friday, May 21, 2004
But I heard a couple of Judas Priest songs on the radio (Heads Are Gonna Roll and Turbo Lover) today and they ROCKED! 100% pure enjoyment, it made everything else seem like stale bread...I hate that.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
This quote has captured what I fear is taking place with the whole war on terror. I am having serious reservations about the use of the sword by government. I am really trying to reconcile my faith and the spirit that it creates and demands and the place of citizenship, patriotism and justice.
I feel like James and John and I don't know what spirit I am of...
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
What is a man?
What makes a man feel like a man and why does he want to feel like a man?
What person do you think of when you think of a manly man?
Who do you admire and look up to and your consciousness grabs as the image of a man?
Is he a goody goody? A soft man? A pure and sweet guy? A gentle and pretty fella?
Clean shaven, cropped hair and pressed clothes, a disciple of the Fab Five...a man in panties?
That is what I see in the church and of late, it is grinding on my mind.
What kind of men are we wanting to see emerge?
Do we want a bunch of Mr. Rogers in sweats and sneakers, shuffling around playing with play doh and singing nursery rhymes?
I'm tired of men who smell like girls, who talk quiet and walk with their heads down.
I'm weary of soft hands, clean clothes and faces with no wrinkles.
I want to take a sledgehammer to the men's product isle...curses on hair dye, face creme, moisturizer, hair pieces and plugs! Can't anyone face the fact that men look like men and boys look like boys?
We are rasing a generation that can't build anything, work on a car or plant a crop. Boys that don't know how to work hard and don't sweat anymore. They have been raised by women and spend more time crying than fighting life. They need band aids for every little cut. They have been taught how to be amicable and tolerant and in a short time we have feminized a generation of boys. You can take the shirt, tie and fancy pants and shove it!
In the end I find myself wanting to hang out with my grandpa Warren sitting in his Jimmy in a cloud of tobacco smoke, heading up into the woods to fall a tree and drag it out of a ravine than anything else.
I miss the smell of a chainsaw, fresh cut wood and dirt. The sound of a hammer. The smell of an old truck cab and the feel of worn out vinyl, a 76 ball shift stick with the letters rubbed off. I want to feel muscle not fat.
I want a man to sing me the Marine Core theme song like Warren used to do, as we would drive out of the mountains back to town where the prissy boys lived.
Man! I miss those days...
ps. None of the above was a personal slam on any of you who may do the above mentioned things. The thoughts are to be taken in a meta view not micro, k?
Saturday, May 15, 2004
"My name is Nick Berg. My father's name is Michael. My mother's name is Suzanne," the man, seated in a chair, says. "I have a brother and sister, David and Sara. I live in ... Philadelphia." After the statement, the assailant directly behind Berg takes a large knife from under his clothing while another pulls Berg onto his side. The tape shows assailants thrusting the knife through his neck. A scream sounds before the men cut Berg's head off, repeatedly shouting "Allahu Akbar!" — or "God is great."
I don't ever want to know that God. God have mercy on those who serve such a heinous vision of faith. It makes my stomach churn. I've been a prayer warrior for the world of Islam for years and shed many tears over the crescent moon but this is beyond me. I pray mercy and grace for the Berg family. I look forward to the day when every man will have to give an account to the Lord for his deeds done in the body. Your day is coming Nick...justice doesn't sleep.
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice -- oceans of it.
I want fairness -- rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want. "
-Amos 5 (The Message Bible)
Interactive prayer altar at our BLAZE youth conference. Cool focal point for prayer. It was lit overhead by a blue light and when the lights were low in the room, the candles added a reflective element. The white things are fake bones from our theme of "You see bones, I see an army."
Thursday, May 13, 2004
"For we have found this man a real pest
and a fellow who stirs up dissension
among all the Jews throughout the world,
and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes."
LOL what a reputation! Not something you would want to add to your ministry history resume. Oh to hang out with such people...know any?
They are wild people...they eat strange stuff that others wouldn't find a meal within...grasshopper poppers.
They can extract a message out of life not the other way around.
Their voice is often found in desolate places not palaces and temples.
They wear odd things...skins and such. You can easily mistake them for a madman if you are not attune to the voice within the voice that is crying. They often are mistaken for drunkards, blasphemers, sinners and compromisers.
They are hairy people...they haven't had the wildness shaved off.
They are earthy people, friends of dirt, rock, water and wind.
They find a way to bring people back to the water...to feel it, taste it and be submerged in it again. They are at home in deserts and have to be sought out...they don't advertise.
They are not safe.
They have away of messing up the status quo and leaving you scratching your head.
They are often on the move or being moved on.
They don't fit in to well...they stand out and that often means they are easy targets for the tongue waggers.
They often lose their heads.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
"We give people who we are much more than what we do. The Latin saying had a clever ring to it: 'Nemo dat quod nor hat.' No one can give away what they do not have. And transformed people tend to transform other people -- just by being who they are."
-Richard Rohr, the founder of The Center for Action and Contemplation.
I like this quote because it captures the reality of sharing the Christ life as it is supposed to be shared...natural and honest, not contrived and forced.
"I quit," said Charlie. "I walked out. I don't want to teach anymore. Every time I walked into that classroom, I died a little bit."
Tony Campolo says: I could understand him. I'm a teacher, and I know what it's like to go into a class and pour out your heart to students, to let every nerve inside you tingle with the excitement of your most profound insights. I know what it's like to passionately share the struggles of your existence, to lay your soul bare in an attempt to communicate your deepest feelings.
Then, when it's all over, some student in the back of the room raises his hand and says, "Do we have to know this stuff for the final?"
(from a Tony Compolo story)
Oh how this conversation captures my irrepressible apprehension about the way we try to capture God through church services. The more I wrestle with it, the more I find myself coming to the same conclusions...it's so much vanity.
Almost sacrilegious ... this attempt to re-share truth, it's like trying to regurgitate a meal into some recognizable form that someone would want to eat.
It's like trying to explain sex to a virgin...vs the mystery of two lifelong lovers making love...a sacred bloom of passion, with a depth of knowledge that makes your knees weak.
It's like a picture of the grand canyon vs standing on the edge of it and feeling it's ancient winds lift your small spirit off the ground and into the clouds.
A strawberry flavored candy vs one plucked fresh from grandma's garden that when tasted, sends a bolt of flavor right into your socks!
I've concluded that all I can really do is take off my shoes in front of this small burning bush and hope that it will continue to burn...and hope that I can remember the way here and pray that my face will still burn when I get back...
Oh the tragedy and mystery of it all.
Someone said that stuff I have been writing is "Iconoclastic"
Etymology: Medieval Latin iconoclastes, from Middle Greek eikonoklastEs, literally, image destroyer, from Greek eikono- + klan to break —more at CLAST
1 : one who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration
2 : one who attacks settled beliefs or institutions
I'm not sure what to think about that...
Life gives birth to life. It's God's way in nature and in the spirit. If something is alive it gives birth. Birth is not only God's intend means of keeping the species from going extinct but also the means of perpetuating culture, faith and family.
One church in a region, many congregations so that "church" can be cared for. Most people are not cared for because our churches are too big or structured in such a way that real relationships and Jesus style life together isn't surviving the religious agenda and calendar.
Do your statistics and you will see that most regions are not significantly encompassing many non believers at a very healthy rate. There are thousands not being touched. It's not about who isn't doing it or why they are not but how can we. And if we can than we should in God's timing and way.
What If we narrowed the conversation down to this statement:
How come there are so many Christians gathering together to worship the Lord and love each other and serve their neighbors? And should more gather?
You would say: Go for it! Most likely, right.
Thinking gets all complicated when you start saying: where should they gather...and that has been one of the most sterile producing conversations going on in the church.
Jesus had the same conversation with the woman at the well...she was hung up on all the same religious mumbo jumbo about...who & where. Thank God Jesus said a day was coming and now is...that is different from a "place & who" centered church.
I got all screwed up in my thinking when the church got a hold of me as a young Christian. I lived out the "natural" result of following Jesus as a teen. I got saved, connected with the ones the Lord brought into my life as friends and mentors and began learning and loving on Jesus. I also started sharing Christ...around me and in different places...I simply went. The result...we began to grow. Church life began to happen in small but potent places and times. If maturity could have helped father it and breathe life on it...something amazing could have happened at times.
Simply stated: we make it all too complicated.
Money usually makes it complicated. It's like art and music...if the only reason one seeks to "do art" is because they want to make a living at it...then they are going to be a frustrated artist and probably starve too. Most don't make much money at it. But if you do it because you have to do it, because you would die if you didn't...than you are a true artist.
Take a walk down the street on a typical Sunday morning...you will find your reason for the Lord's call to gather...the harvest is plentiful.
"Being controlled by the opinions of others is a guaranteed way to miss God's purpose for your life."
"I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes."
- C.S. Lewis
"To risk is to lose one's foothold for a while; not to risk is to lose one's self forever."
"When the old wineskin is dying, the new wineskin is created by those who are not afraid to be vulnerable."
Saturday, May 08, 2004
You’re just seeing a fresh soul vein opened up of late.
It's flowing pretty freely, a bloody mess maybe, but it had to happen.
I love one of the parts of an article I sent out the other day where the pastor said: "Every few years he has to reinvent himself a bit or he will die a little."
That's defiantly taking place right now. I'm owning my thoughts, daring to share them more and truly seeking to walk out a more authentic walk...or at least daring to try to find it.
The old dress shoes just don't fit anymore and walking in them has cramped my toes and furrowed my brow...I'm taking them off.
Yes, it may stink a bit, i've been smashing my feet into these things for way too long...I wish I had listened to the pain sooner.
I'm a bit sensitive (a better word might be raw) right now too; at least until I get some callousness on these feet.
I'm not sure what or if, I will wear any shoes in the future...but right now, free toes are marvelous!
Yep...it's quite difficult trying to do this as a "leader" but in the end I think that's a better quality of leadership than not doing it. But the fact is...life demanded it. I had gone as far as I could go in those shoes...they served me well for the time they were intended to protect me.
But everyone comes to their own burning bush sometime and hears the command to..."remove your shoes...the ground you are on is holy ground."
Moses heard it and so did Joshua.
I'm hearing it right now and like Joshua it comes right as I'm being commissioned to lead a "new generation" into the Promised Land. It's a strange time to hear a call to get naked feet. No call to strap on some trusty army boots. No seemingly wise command to clamp on some steel toes butt kickers...no, simply let your feet touch the cool grass of the earth.
A leader with bare feet...strange indeed.
Does it scare some people? Yes it does.
Does it scare me? Yep!...but that’s ok…at least I am coming alive again.
"To risk is to lose one's foothold for a while; not to risk is to lose one's self forever." - S. Kierkegaard
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Here are a few more thoughts on the stuff that is causing me Radio Rash:
* Don't try so hard, just make music that you like and that is honest about who or where you are.
* Don't feel like it has to be a complete novel in one song...sometimes the beauty in life is when you are "caught a moment," The first breath after a first kiss...the taste of something not the whole meal...
* Let me wrestle with the words...you don't have to make everything so clear. Ambiguity allows me to interact with the music and allows magic to happen. Each song can mean something different for everyone.
* Don't produce music that always smells like it just came out of the wash...the story of the jeans is how they got dirty too. Scars make for great storytelling.
* Quit acting like a choir boy...if I wanted to listen to a girl I would...be a man.
* Remember Jesus chose a wild man to baptize him into public life not a priest...beginnings are important...where you start can define where you end up sometimes.
* People live in the world, a world which God made and owns, tell me about how you live in this place without losing your center. I've not been to heaven but I live on earth. Talk to me about the stuff that I see, hear and feel everyday but need to hear about it through other eyes, so I can see my world anew.
* Be influenced but be you...crossdressers make lame musicians and poets.
* I need to hear the war cry again...much of the music out there seems created for the nursery. Give me something that changes the temperature of my blood, makes me want to yell like a man not whisper like a woman.
* Be creative...God isn't monochrome. With a world full of instruments and cultures you would think Christians would discover that music is far more than a keyboard, bass, guitar and drums. Discover sounds, explore more, dare to trust sound more than lyrics. The typical moment of instrumental pause is about as long as the typical spontaneous praise in churches...short, awkward and hurried. We need to linger more, allow music to marinate on us. There is power in sound, the ocean heals not by words but sound.
* Uncork the passion please. If God is love and passion is the very flame of the Lord, than why do Christians seem like the prudish icicles around? Can't we write about anything that most of us think about most of all anyway...sex. Sure, you don't have to get all graphic but why can't someone write a song like Dave Matthew's does; that makes you want to find your wife and show her why you married her! Come On!
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
I've got a bad rash and I picked it up from listening to Christian radio.
I know as a "pastor" some would squawk that I shouldn't be slamming "Christian" radio but I must confess...it really sucks. I am sorry if that offends you but my head goes numb listening to that stuff. Sure there is an occasional; bright spot like a shaft of sun that breaks through on a maddening long run of cloudy days but that's rare.
I love music but I have not been able to hear that much good stuff in my day to day life.
I am musically anemic I think.
It is the result of a poor music diet that I picked up from some bad influences in the church.
I need help.
Could anyone please recommend some good tunes that won't make me sleepy or leave me feeling like I just was serenaded by my grandparents?
I don't want some plastic Christian copy culture stuff either.
No over the top, syrupy sacred, gospel bloated, message heavy stuff.
I like my doctrine to come primarily from the pulpit or books not the CD.
I listen to enough worship to sprout angel wings, so I am not worried about...balance.
I need something that engages me, catches me by surprise, moves other parts of me that have rusted from lack of cultural oil.
I feel like the church has turned me into the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. I've been plated over in armor to protect me from the culture but in the end I lost my heart.
I know that just because I gave my heart to Jesus that it doesn't mean it gets turned to stone. So much of my life came alive in Christ but not so for poor old music.
It got circumcised and I think they took to much off the top...it looks more like a castration.
Why is that?
Why did music's legs get amputated in the church?
We've had to exchange audio razor blades for religious butter knives.
What used to electrify...now petrifies.
Oh! The horror of it all...
We need help...any suggestions?
Tony Campolo tells a story about how he challenged his students by asking them, ‘how long have you been alive?’ They responded by reciting their birthdays, almost without thinking. Then he turned to them and asked again, ‘how long have you really been alive?’ and went on to tell of a time that as a child, he stood on the empire state building and for a few brief moments, as the wind whipped his hair and the panorama overwhelmed him, felt fully alive. Then he turned to his students again and said, “now, how long have you been alive?”
Some years ago I went skydiving with my friends Fergus and Wendy in Fort McMurray, Canada during an impending rain storm. It was one of those days when you could see the vistas of the horizon and watch the heavy grey clouds roll in like a blanket. It was undoubtedly not a pristine skydiving opportunity but we were anxious to get in a jump, despite our best interests. As we rose to meet the sky the clouds extended over us like
A cotton canopy. We levelled out at approximately 6500 feet and flew just under the chouds. I was able to stand outside the door, hold on and wipe my hands through the fluffy billows, splaying them behind me. For that moment, I was truly alive.
I remember vividly the day I sat with Marianne in the pre-op ward awaiting her first cancer surgery. As I sat on her bed, our hands clasped together, we began to share in an intimate few minutes of mutual love and joy. We reflected on our lives, the fun and happy times, the pain and the sorrows of what we were experiencing. I confessed to her my fear, and she to me. We laughed and cried, kissed and hugged, wishing this moment would go on for eternity. For that moment, I was truly alive.
I once heard it said that if I had my life to live over again I’d live more moments. Just time after time of nothing but moments. Too much of my time has been spend in dismal boredom, fleeting days of just living but not being truly alive.
lifted from a great blog at:
Plus so much of the push for it is simply unrealistic. It lays a burden upon people that becomes something they can't live up too. It's high pressure sales, it's door to door product pushing, it's dinner time phone calls, it's Amwayish insincerity.
I hate it, I don't do it.
Simply ask people" "How many people have you led to the Lord" and the truth will be out. It simply doesn't happen that way. You can act like it does, preach like it does, demand that it should, impress others with your stats, guilt the shy with your stories but in the end...it doesn't happen that much.
Plus you get a lot of guilty people that become a poor tool of outreach.
Insincere, guilty, pressured people stink as evangelism agents...period.