Monday, December 24, 2007

for one more day

I received the book "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom yesterday. I finished it today. It has left me feeling oddly reflective. Its hard to explain.
You can google it and see what the plot is about. In short, if you could have one more day with someone that has past on...
It goes through the whole spectrum of feelings and thoughts one has when presented with this scenario: guilt. memories. smells. tastes. attitudes. feelings. guilt. oh and did i mention guilt?
my mom died tragically and suddenly seven years ago. huge blow. large guilt. much anger. pissed off at god. I remember our last conversion, the last time I would ever see her alive...and it makes me sad. If I had known, like the poem says, it definitely would not have been "those words" i spoke, "those actions" i took. I would have made it mean more. If "for one more day" I would change a lot.
so I have taken this view and have tried to apply it to my relationships now, with family and friends and just folks I know.
Its hard. I don't feel like doing that all the time. If my spouse were to die before I get through typing this line.... the last words and actions we had were not what I wanted them to be. "for one more day" i would change it....
but its hard.
Life gets in the way, with its weird and demanding self. It is determined that I should bend and respond to its every whelm. Sometimes, it pisses me off as well.
i don't like things the way they are, and yet I feel powerless to change them.
for one more day. if only. in only we got redo's. the chance to say "I'm sorry".
I am trying my best not to need "for one more day". but i'm human. I'm a screw up.
I don't think its possible to get it right all the time and not have any regrets.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

stupid emails

Stupid emails. I get them all the time. Mostly its spam about how I can enlarge certain parts of my anatomy, or I have won the lottery from Nigeria, or some such nonsense. Easy deletes.
However, some of the stupid emails come from people I actually know. (Come on, you know what I'm talking about). The "if you love Jesus you will pass this on to..." or "if you are ashamed of Jesus just delete this like the cold hearted person you are..." or "if you send this to 10 people a cancer patient will get 5 cents from AOL..." or what the heck ever. Please Stop!
I got this one today. "I made a bet with my boss that I could find 300 people who believe in God before he could. So add your name to the list and pass it on to others who are willing to stand up for God."... blah blah blah.
Yes. God cares whether or not you sign an email saying you believe in Him.
I am expecting a similiar email from Santa any minute now.

Here was my response (reply everyone button):
"Of course, the concern is not whether you believe in God or not. The concern is whether or not you are in an active relationship with God and listen. And if you listen, how do you respond?
You can say you believe in Santa Claus, doesn't make him real. You can say you believe in God/Jesus, but if you don't live it, its no more real than Santa.
Just my two cents."

I know, I probably over reacted to this email. but geeeez!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Nativity Scene

Often I reflect upon the nativity story and the images conjured up in my mind. Some are based upon my childhood and the stories we were told about baby Jesus, born in the manger, on a cold winter's night. I can see the storybook stars glistening in the sky above, with a rather bright star just over the stable. A small yellowish glow emitting from within - signifying a spectacular, holy event is taking place. My participation in small church re-enactments of this event as an angel, wearing a white flowing robe and a halo, which was made from a clothes hanger wrapped in tinfoil, standing on a piano bench proclaiming "a child is born" seems a bit hokey to me now as an adult - but as a child I meant every word of it. Like I was there and this was actually happening and I was a part of it and all was good.

As I grow older, I learn that it probably wasn't all that cold after all, as it was census time and the people had to travel great distances. And it wasn't on December 25th! And instead of a stable it was more likely a cave of sorts. No drummer boy either. Don't even get me started on the wise men and their gifts and showing up three years later at somebody's house. I swear they are at the manger scene!

I wonder what it would have been like to have been there that night. Admist the cows, sheep and donkeys, and the barnyard smells of hay and manure?
What would it have been like to witness Joseph trying to figure out what he was going to do with this whole situation. And Mary, a frightened teenager who was about to give birth in a strange smelly place, without friends or family to encourage them and assist in the birth a feedings and oh so much more. What would it have like to witness the birth of the saviour, the beginning of a revolution that would turn the world upside-down. I suspect it is much different than the nativity scene I have displayed in my living room.

However you envision this event, either from childhood memories of cute plays or bedtime stories, or factual accounts from historians, one thing seems to be remain constant: Hope. The whole point of the story, the event, is that God sent Hope into the world. If you've seen a baby born, you know that it is a miracle within itself. But this baby being born was more than that. Enter the creator, writer and director of the story, who inserts himself into the play and changes the course of mankind. It was God, at his best, fulfilling the unimaginable. Hope.

Hope arrives in the bundle of a tiny man-child. And I, standing on a piano stool, proclaim "a child is born!"

Friday, December 7, 2007

Left v. Right Christianity

I have always struggled with this concept of "Left versus Right Christianity", where people label their position on christianity as the right one, based upon their political beliefs. Even worse is when people try to label Jesus as "on their side" as well. I saw a bumper sticker that said "Jesus was a Liberal" and another that read "God is a Republican". Good grief. This is the kind of non-sensical thinking that has a us split by denominations and even congregations within denominations.

What makes one think they can put a label on God? I mean, God is what God is. There is no way to define Him this using our political views. The saying "Creating God in our own image" is not exactly what we are to be about. God created us in HIS IMAGE and we are to be about the teaching of the Christ - if we actually want to call ourselves Christians, or followers of Jesus, or whatever phrase makes you happier.

It appears somewhere along the way that we have defined ourselves by our belief systems. I think that some people say they are Christian (followers of Christ) but what they really mean is they profess the words "Jesus is Lord and Savior" but in reality just believe in God. The imagery of God is more "on a throne, judging, huge, distant". This God sets up morale codes and rules and is an jealous God and demands justice. Then there are those who follow Jesus and his teachings as more of a mystic or rabbi and focus on that aspect of their spiritual walk, and are about the work of feeding the poor, fighting social causes, and just loving on people.

And somewhere along the way we have forgotten that the two are the same, yet distinct. You can't discard the commandments of God or ignore the teachings of Jesus because ultimately they are intertwined.

I find bridging this gap, even amongst so called Christians, is sometimes difficult. We seem to get upset and unhinged on the things of this world that have been deemed "important" to us", that we transpose those things upon the Church. As if the church were a reflection of our political statement!

The situation I find myself in is that most of my spiritual friends tend to be liberal in most respects regarding secular activities. And most of my conservative friends are not right wing evangelical types either. What is interesting is that I enjoy the mixture of these two camps AS LONG AS WE DO NOT BRING UP POLITICS. That only segregates and divides. I was reading an excerpt from Brian McLaren's book "A Generous Orthodoxy" where he talks about these two groups and how the small stuff has divided us.

You know, if a Muslim and Jewish leaders can get their folks together to build a habitat house, which they did in my area... why can't we Christians get past the silly rules and doctrines that separate us and dilute our efffectiveness?

I think a liberal or a conservative can both stand side by side and feed a hungry person. Don't you?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


"It finally happened.
Couldn't take it anymore.
Something had to give.

These were the thoughts going through my mind when a car passed me on the way to work this morning. You know how people write "JUST MARRIED" on their back window and stuff all over the rest of the car?


this one had "Just Divorced!" on the back window. I couldn't help it. I started laughing so hard. I pulled up beside the car and a girl is on the cell phone. Written on the side of the windows are "Free at Last" and "Love U Stupid"...

Awe man, what a contrast. Was I wrong for thinking this extremely funny. I had never before witnessed this obvious mockery of the "Just Married" thing on the window. How cool. Good lordy be. There has got to be someone out there that can relate to that girl's sentiment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

some morning make you just go hmmmm....

It was cold this morning. Really cold for Texas. 26 degrees I think it registered on the window gadget. Brrrrr. My daughter had her first golf tournament ever today, of all days, and it was cooooooollllldddddd I tell you. So we get up early and I fire up the '66 Chevy Classic pickup I drive and we loaded up and headed to the school where I dropped her off to catch the bus.
I started my 14 mile trek to work and decided to stop in McDonald's to pick up some breakfast. I walk up and order my food "to go" and wait. I am watching the workers there. "Why do they work at McD's?" I wonder to myself. There are kids up to adults and I just wonder about their life circumstances. Was it a failed educational system that leaves them only this option in life? Is it a college job? Did a dysfunctional broken home decide their fate? or do they really like serving people in this type of job?
I dunno why I am thinking about this. I just do. Its not a looking down snobby thing. Good grief thats not it at all. I just wonder what crap life has thrown at people and how they got where they are today. I do it all the time. I mean, if you had turned left instead of right. Said no instead of yes and not got married. Picked this major over that one in college. Hadn't gotten knocked up in high school. just stuff.
So i get my food and I'm off. I drive through one of the lower economic areas consisting mainly of hispanics on my way to work - and I see this guy walking on the side of the bridge with a bag in his hand. Its cold. Still really cold. And his breath is coming out in those little steam clouds. And just for an instant - we lock eyes. Me driving my '66 Chevy and he walking along the side of the road in the coldness of the early morning.
and i wonder.
what got him here? why is he walking and not driving? is he homeless? is he doing the best he can to feed a family somewhere? somewhere in the past, did he turn left and not right or pick the wrong career field?
"There but by the grace of God goeth I" crosses my mind. Did God really bless me better than that guy? Some have more because God graced us more? Really struck me as stupid. Mine is more like the Sherly Crow song "Isn't it Ironic" I think.
I don't know. Just my rambling thoughts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Games We Play III

For those of you who read posts "games we play" one and two... here is the 3rd in the trilogy. Its the last as well. I got the promotion last week. Seems things went a lot differently since our last meeting. I am worthy. cool. On to bigger and better things with just a hint of more money mixed in to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
I do have to admit that I am not really sure what happens from here. its more responsibility, more headache, or whatever.... but.... i feel pretty okay with that. I mean, what is life except a series of unknown twists, bumps, and sputters mingled with the occasional burst of laughter and silliness that makes it all the more bearable.
In retrospect to where I have been, and most of you can identify with this, it ain't no big thang. It is what it is and what i make of it. or what those above and around me try and make of it.
I never thought God would have led me here to start with, and who knows, maybe he didn't mean too either... stuff happens. Like the Garth Brooks song "Unanswered Prayers". i could have been on staff of a fairly large church serving under an egotistical control freak which would have ultimately lead to bad bad things for one of us... soooooooooooooo.... we shall see. ~npp

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tobi Mac - Ignition

War. It tears at my heart. It is a sad state when things degenerate to the point where killing one another is a solution. It saddens me. I think it is a necessary evil ( I can't imagine Hitler actually being in charge of the world ), but one that has so much impact on nations, communities and families and individuals. Nothing will ever be the same after. Whole generations are defined by war. WWII, Korea, Vietnam...
I remember my grandfather, who was in WWII Battle of the Bulge, with tears in his eyes watching the young men leave their families for Operation Desert Storm on the t.v. He said he remembered that feeling and it had never gone away.
I see the footage of injured or killed troops. I see the best that America has to offer putting it all on the line for an idea. A belief. A way of life. I see Iraqi civilians who are smiling again. I see mothers weeping. I see funeral processions with thousands of flags.
I see people mad at one another, taking positions, being kind, being horrible, showing respect, showing disrespect, determined, confused.

This video set to Tobi Mac - Ignition. See what your thoughts are.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today In History - Luther!

I absolutely love the passion of Martin Luther and his calling B.S. on the church in his day. One of my favorite movie portrayals is actor Joseph Fiennes in LUTHER which you can watch on DVD. Struggling with what the Official Church taught and did in the name of God really made him angry and passionate, changing the course of religion and birthed Protestantism. I love the word PROTEST in that, makes the rebel in me grin. Read below - then go watch the movie~!

It was on this date, October 31, 1517, that the Protestant Reformation began in Germany, when 31-year-old Martin Luther posted his 95 theses at Wittenberg Cathedral. That document attacked papal abuses and the sale of offices and indulgences by church officials.

Furthermore, Luther argued several other points:

Luther nails his 95 propositions, or theses,
to the door of All Saints Church, Wittenberg.

• that Christian salvation could be achieved through faith alone — "justification by faith," as it was called — yet faith is a gift from God, not a matter of choice.
• a denial of the doctrine of Purgatory, which is mentioned nowhere in the Bible (the doctrine of the Trinity is also missing from the Bible, but that failed to trouble Luther).
• a denial of the Apostolic Succession, so that there is no intermediary between Man and God.
• an affirmation of the scriptures, and not the church hierarchy, as the final source for doctrine.
• an affirmation of the doctrine of Predestination, that those destined for heaven and for hell were chosen by God without regard for their deeds in life.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Flags in the Sanctuary

I "belong" to a mainstream denomination and attend a fairly large church. "Mainstream" does not mean, however, that all of the churches within this denominition are just alike. On the contrary, some are very charismatic while others are a little more conservative while others are somewhere in the middle, and a few are basically on life-support. And with all of the variables of the church at large, you also get the same from the congregant members. Some lean left. Some lean right. Some stand in the middle. Some don't care as long as they can drop their kids off for sunday school and scoot on over to Starbucks.

Recently, and for no apparent reason, someone took the U.S. Flag out of the Sanctuary. For those of you outside of the U.S., it is fairly common for churches to display the U.S. Flag in their sanctuaries alongside the commonly accepted "christian flag" and the denominational flag, or any combination thereof.
This is in no way intended to endorse the over-reaching, all encompassing policies of the US Government. It is not intended to be the focal part of worship nor is it idolatry either. It is not a statement of belief that the United States is a Righteous Christian Nation. It is simply, in our denomination, and our church specifically, a sign of respect for the country that it symbolizes. Respect for a country that allows you to worship when and where you wish. To worship whom and in what manner you wish. To NOT WORSHIP if that is what you wish. To NOT have to display the US Flag or any other symbol if you DO NOT wish.

So back to its removal. It was done innocently enough it appears, but some folks wanted it back in the sanctuary. Some persons went to the Pastor of the church and voiced concern that they did not want it back in the sanctuary. There was, of course, a BM (Big Meeting) and a committee and a vote and now its back.

Yesterday before services, not only was the US Flag displayed - but in protest a Texas A&M Flag and a Mexican Flag were drapped over the balcony by a member. Another member quietly left their seat and removed the flags and spoke with the person who placed them there.
It is all becoming a bit silly.
To be sure, I can worship God without any flags being present. Truth be known, I can worship God without any crosses being displayed (after all, weren't crosses displayed during the crusades? not to mention all those vampires who have been harmed by them...a little humor there), candles being lit, or pews to sit upon. But out of acknowledgement and respect for God for all He has done for us through the Cross we display it prominently. To enhance our worship and acknowledge God is with us, we display an open flame to symbolize the Spirit. To accomodate long winded preachers and the disabled, we provide seating. Out of respect for a country that allows us to worship as we please without fear of arrest and execution, we display the U.S. Flag.
I really don't know why people have to complicate things so much. There being so many things that need our attention more so than this, such as hungry children, adequate health care, and to quote the evangelicals "spreading the good news", what difference does a flag in the sanctuary make?
As for the protestor: I think if he had displayed the Univ. of Texas Flag - it might have went differently for him.... ;) ~npp

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blue Like Jazz and David Gentiles

I spent the weekend with my cousins in the Dallas Texas area this weekend, and went to their lakehouse at Lake Texoma to see it and spend some time with them. Our conversations typically turn toward christianity or theology or spirituality at some point in our visits. Last year I bought them the Donald Miller book "Blue Like Jazz" which I had read and knew they would love. They now have this book on display at the Lakehouse for visitors.
Now, I also spend as much time with my best friend journerer rick in the Austin area and his faith community is I have met on a couple of occassions a really cool and neat and gentle journeyer on staff there, David Gentiles, who Rick explains is all that and a bag of chips! He is very influential in his own way in the realm of things, and i think was on staff of a big megachurch at one time.
Anyway, back at the lakehouse, I pick up this book and flip through it and see on the inside cover, (i think this is right) "for David Gentiles". COOL!!!
I didn't know there was a connection between Miller and Gentiles. and then I got this really great feeling that a book i really like is written by a cool guy who puts David Gentiles name in it who is on staff with my bestest friend Rick and how I am somehow in this loop of great spiritual souls.... and I got a great feeling about that.
It was all about the connectedness to something...something larger than me...something with value and meaning for others...something real... and it just left me feeling very special indeed. Because most of my life I have felt like an outsider - looking in on what appears to be some reality most get and i can't seem to grasp. My reality looks a lot different from that world and I often wondered what was wrong with me. I was actually brought up "believing that Jesus mattered and that doing unto others was the right thing" to actually do and not lip service. then along comes Ricky D, David Gentiles, Donald Miller, just too name a few, Michael Yacconelli is another, and there are more of us out here. And I feel affirmed.
It was just a neat thing and I wanted to share.
ps - the lakehouse was formerly owned by a journeyer as well. Small world.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

games we play II

I failed to mention in the last post that it is unfair to play mindgames with unarmed people. Just a disclaimer.
Games. They suck. Especially when it matters. Like with family. Church. Friendship.
Many of us have had these games played on us. Or maybe its played with us. Like chess pieces. Some are important, some expendable.
And it is really difficult to be real with people because they are so insecure. Think about it, most people are comfortable with some sort of defense mechanism whether it be socio-economic, intelligence, status, possessions - anything that defines them as superior, different or at least distant from the rest. Its protective.
Have you ever had anyone be real with you? does it freak you out? is it uncomfortable because they might get to know you. Relationships become real and meaningful and are therefore valuable and take more time and effort. Do you prefer Roberts Rules of Order over open and honest dialogue. Being real means being honest, stripping titles and pretense and addressing issues.
Its difficult for most to separate their title from their humanity. You see it in war where you become callous. It happens in law enforcement. It happens in marriages.
So you have to play the games. Follow some preset rules. Try to figure out your partner. Your place in life. No, your place in THEIR life.
Being real, honest and truthful is threatening. It places people above all else. It provides no excuses for our behavior. No escape route. It makes YOU responsible to one another. It is what Jesus would want.

The Games We Play...

Strip Poker, naked twister, Truth or Dare, chicken, Trivia, Sudoku, just too name a few. But that's not exactly what this post is about.
I have worked, lets say, for a variety of places, in one respect or another. My longest tenure was in a place where it was kind of scary, full of brutality, and just a lost world. to succeed there, one must "adapt" to certain norms and subculture thougt process. To promote, you had to play "THE GAME".
Many of you know of what I speak. Its the carrot and the stick game. Or the its my ball so you play by my rules. No matter the ethics.
and yes...I don't play well with others. Its not because I don't want to play, its just the rules are silly. So I left that job. Was looking for one when i got it, so i did I started looking again... found one... found another ... found yet another.
So I land somewhere I am comfortable. Told 'em at the hiring I am not a yes man, and I don't back up or bend over either. (its an expression). Was very honest with them. they hired me. Its been okay. Until now..
There is a possible promotion. yes - the motherload had been presented. more money for me and my family. So - ENTER GAME TIME! So here is a series of hoops to jump through "to prove you really deserve it". I don't like the approach but I figure its clean honest expectations and I do them.
The game gets harder. I am set up for failure. It works. Big meeting. Not sure now. Blah blah blah. I am asked "do you really want it?" and more carrot stick game.
I answer honestly. I'm just not sure I do want it.
They are silent.
Hadn't occurred to them I might tire of the game and take my marbles home. Shucks.
Now they are left with, oh lets see, no options and no one else qualified...and the one that is qualified, namely me, might back out.
The game changes. A new meeting. Clarification. It was all just a test to see how i respond to pressure. They really want me to promote because I can do the best at the job.
W.O.R.K. It's a four letter word for a reason.
You just gotta love those games we play.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

environmental awareness blog day?

I guess we don't have enough ideas of our own so we had 'suggested' blog topic of environmental issues. So I'll bite and be a follower:
I love nature - I am not a tree hugger.
I believe in conservation - I don't believe in limiting the amount of toilet paper I use.
We should be good stewards of what God has given us - and realize that God has given it to us.
I don't really believe in Global Warming - I do believe in irresponsible behavior that negatively impacts our environment. I remember as a kid that it was the impending ice age again and it had me scared to death. Didn't happen. Then it was all the planets were going to aline for the first time in ump-teen years and the gravatational pull would pull the planet apart. Again, didn't happen.
I think there are a lot more "do as i say" ers than there are "do as I do" ers.
I remember a commercial from the 70s, when I was a kid, of an Native American (Indian for you older folks) alongside a highway when a motorist throws trash out of their car, and a huge ol' teardrop rolls down his face. That image is still with me.
Then I transpose that image with Jesus standing on the street, or in the corporate office, or god help us in the church office, as we discard one of his little children like so much trash on the side of the road. And a big 'ol tear goes down his cheek as well.
Being good stewards is more than just with our environment. It is also with our relationships. So many times I have seen that taken for granted. People used as commodoties and then discarded after their usefullness is over. and it makes me sick.
so the next time someone asks you what you think about the environment, ask them what they think of their neighbor. It kinda goes hand in hand, because everything you do or your neighbor does has an impact. Whether relational or environmental.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I was having lunch today with a guy I have met through business. I don't really know him much except we have had a couple of phone exchanges about job stuff, but during each call some reason the topic of "church" comes up. He is struggling with the internal crap that is going on in his church, a First Baptist church of a small town, and what his response to all of this should be. He is a deacon in this church, with all the legalism that entails - and he isn't liking it. It being the politics. He hasn't come right and and said this - but he is questioning whether the actions of the church (they don't like their pastor(s) and have tried to remove them and this church has split once already and know one is coming anymore and they want to vote on this and that and .....) Whew! I can see he is in some pain over this. It is odd he has picked me to talk to about it because he has no idea who I am or my feelings on this stuff. I talk to him about the difference in "churchianity v christianity", in how churches have taken to following Paul (which is why many churches are dysfunctional)more than they follow Jesus. And how in recent years I have rejected much of the bullshit in my own denomination, and many others that are hung up with processes and programs. He is listening with deep interest and saying, "hell, I thought I was all alone in questioning this shit". I said nope, there are lots of us out here.
This man is on a journey.He is becoming a seeker. I can see the questioning beginning which is a first step to getting healthy. He said he doesn't even know if going to church is important anymore. It may not be if its not healthy. What's the point anyway if the focus is on the "church" itself and not those it serves. This shouldn't be a revelation to anyone - but somehow along the years we have distorted what church is. Crazy.
I also get a call this week fishing around to see if I would be interested in a Youth Pastor position at my church. Yes, the same church I tried to inform 3 years ago when they were looking the last time and now they are doing it all over again since it has fallen apart. I said are you crazy? and they responded with "well I know it probably wouldn't work since you aren't a yes man and butt heads with the Sr. Pastor already". Damn right. But, secretly, I would love to do that. Ministry is my passion. Even with all its crap - I still feel called to be a Pastor. I remember hearing once that God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Its a curse. I love Michael Yaconneli's description in "Messy Spirituality" of his struggles with his own feelings of inadequacy and illegitimacy since he wasn't officially a seminary graduate nor was he officially ordained anywhere most of his life. But God called Bullshit on that. He has reached more people with his authenticity than all the seminary graduated PhDs and their qualifications that I have ran into. Amazing. God can where people can't. What a concept.
So I hope this fellow listens to that inner voice that is telling him there is a better way. A better path. He is becoming one of us. A seeker.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jesus loves me this I know...

Just what in the hell don't people understand about this preschool theology anyway? I am so irritated right now I could drink lite beer!

I allowed my daughter to attend a "function" sponsored by a coalition of Baptist churches in the area (mainly because her friends were going)and she just came home a few minutes ago. We had the typical parent/teenager conversation. Me - "how was it?". Her - "fine". So I had to ask, and I wish I hadn't. I ask "Say any prayers of salvation?" and she looks at me funny and asks what that is. I say its the little prayer where you accept Jesus into your heart...blah blah blah. She said "yes", like she was surprised I knew about this. I then ask "did you have to go down to the front" and she responds "we all did".
I am getting irritated at this point. I am irritated because I know all the play calls in this game. Right out of the Baptist handbook on how to save people in three easy lessons. She, of course, doesn't understand why I am asking and goes into teenage defense mode. I back off. But before I leave I ask her if the speaker said anything close to "do you know where you are going if you were to die tonight or get struck by lightening when you leave here..." and she looked at me like I was a reading her mind. She said sorta. She said he said something like that and then talked about his "friend" in college who just happened to accept Jesus one night at such a function and then got killed in a car accident coming home from it.
Coincidental! I think not.
The children's verse goes like this: Jesus loves me this I know... I love my children and they love me back. I don't scare them into it, its all relational and unconditional. I ain't gonna love them more or less if they fail to say the right thing to me.
And neither is God. God loves you regardless. Get over it. And if you were brought up with this fear factor theology approach to salvation, please get some help.
PS - you can't save anyone by the way. Jesus did that over 2000 years ago on a cross. If you can top that - good luck. ~npp

Thursday, September 13, 2007

jesus pic slideshow i thought was neat

Pictures of Jesus

From: petehorsley, 2 weeks ago

Exilio Bootcamp Day 3 - by Michael Frost - an exploration of the pictures of Jesus throughout history. Need to hold onto biblical understanding of Jesus and not limit our understanding of who he is.

Link: SlideShare Link


This weekend I spent some time with a family at a local lake. They live at the lake. We BBQ'd, drank some beverages, and took a ride in the boat around the lake. He showed me some massive million dollar homes that were built and being built. Huge. The boathouses were as large as my home. Magnificent stone work, landscaping and backyard pools with people standing about visiting, eating or swimming. Some of these 2 to 3 story homes only had 2 or 3 people living in them. Some were just winter or summer homes. In the boathouses were at least one boat, some had boats and jet skis, or whatever.

Yesterday, while working I was made aware of a 14 year old student who was deemed homeless by his school district. Seems the bus driver had taken him home, except he asked to be dropped off at a different location. A camp ground. A camp ground on a lake. The same lake I had ridden in a boat around just days before. His family had lost everything, including their house, and their car had broken down as well. Some people went out to check and they were living in a tent since last wednesday. This isn't your average family. No, they got problems other than this. Crazy mom. Dad in prison. Kids doing best they can but not much to do it with. Huge dysfunction.

One Lake. Two extremes. This campsite literally sets admist million dollar homes. They live in a 12 x 8 tent. These homes are up to 8000 sq ft. And I wondered what Jesus would think of the whole situation. Its not that I think everyone should live in a tent to be equal...but somewhere the disparity, and them being literally yards apart, struck me as something being totally out of whack in this world. 2 people living in an 8000 sq ft home while a family lives in a tent not yards from you. Maybe it would not have appeared so lop-sided to me if the homes had been more modest, or was within reason of what was needed. Or maybe the tent was bigger. And the family kind of put themselves in this position by making lots of bad choices... but still.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hero - Part 2

Well, I went to the award ceremony. I thought about it all the way over there trying to figure out why I was attending this function. I was nervous. Got there, was early, so I stood around for awhile while final touches were being made. Yeah, okay. I was a bit excited about getting a Hero award. Heck, how many times in your life does that happen? Like Zero. But what if I'm on stage with real hero's. I would feel like an imposter.
People feel like that. No matter who you are or what profession you are in. You know the REAL YOU, and you are afraid someone else will figure the REAL YOU out and call your bluff. Figure out your a fake. Point out that you don't know anything. Its all a big sham and you've gotten by with it for along time. I hate that feeling. Maybe its insecurity, who knows.
People start filing in. Its a large crowd. There are many recipients for various reasons. I feel better because I will not be singled out and can blend into the crowd better.
I meet the person who nominated me. The person I helped so many years ago. She is an older lady, almost 75 years old, and with tears in her eyes gives me a huge hug and says I am her Hero. I hug her back and try saying something humble but she would have none of it. We had dinner together, spoke about her life and mine, and really got along well. She was a neat lady. Found out she and her husband used to ride an Indian Motorcycle back in the 1950s. This lady was hell on wheels it seems.
Cool. She went out and looked at my bike I rode over and commented on how much she missed riding. I told her I would take her for a ride, jokingly. She almost took me up on it.
It was a good evening. I soaked it in. I was a Hero for a moment - to someone at least. I have learned to accept things more graciously now than in the past. It is easier that way. Making a fuss that you didn't do this or that just draws more attention to you. Letting others do for you out of gratitude. Its like a funeral. Its more for the folks attending that the deceased. You let them have their gestures. Their way of giving thanks. It really isn't about you at all. Its about them. Their appreciation. Their way to give something back.
Okay. So I am a Hero. Where the heck is my cape?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

church meetings

Church meetings. I hate them. Seriously. For many years I wondered how do you get on this Board or this Committee. I wanted to serve. So I asked. I got nominated. I served. It sucked.
Sausage is good. Sausage and hot bisquits with gravy and a good steaming cup of coffee... ummm ummmm. But have you ever seen sausage being made? Same goes for a church meeting. Looks okay until you see one in action. Makes it kind of hard to swallow after that.
Now I like serving. I am a servant hearted person for the most part. First I serve myself, then you if I have some extra time. Okay, that was wrong. Just sounded funny when I typed it. Church meetings are for the most part B.S. An exercise in futility. Or it is at my church that I am currently at war with. So much territorial issues. So much "to do about nothing". So much tooting our own horns.
I was in one last night. Two and One Half hours of trying to pick leaders for the next 3 years. Stupid method. In our denomination, we have a committee that selects folks to call and ask if they will serve on this committee or that board. That's how it happend to me. I was called. I was excited. I said yes. Years later I have learned to say no. Anyway, you call them and they say yea or nay and move on. The process is silly. I was wondering why don't we just put an ad out in the church bulletin "Hey do you want to serve? Is God calling you to do a certain thing for his kingdom through the church? Please respond by calling....." But no, we don't do that. We figure we know who's best for what position at the church. Who "fits". Who is dependable.
While I'm setting in this meeting I am thinking of Rev Ricks blog about Robert's Rules of Order and all the suits and just the stuff. I wanted to scream out "why don't we let God pick them!" Its ridiculous. So I nominated some people with passion, some who would question this or that, make some changes, challenge when it needed to be challenged. The Senior Pastor says that we need to make sure that our nominess are not Polarizing people, or too divisive. yes yes yes, that is what we need - more of those types. They have so much in common with Jesus. He was never polarizing or divisive. Good grief.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I received the following email this past week:

" My name is _____, Program Director at K___ Radio.
To put it plainly, you saved my mother and father in law in a car accident in 1999.
The folks were delivering newspapers and their pickup truck rolled. Mom was thrown out, Pop was still held in the pickup. You were first on the scene and stopped traffic and got life fight in. What we always remember is the next vehicle was an
18 wheeler and it would have surely killed mom. Anyway, Tuesday night September 11th at D_____ Ballroom at the Student Center on the ____ College Campus we are having the (Geographic Location omited) Heroes Banquet. Its dinner and a presentation. Hours are from 7-9pm with doors opening at 6:30pm. Anyway, we would love for you to attend.
And, Mom would love to meet you. If you would could you email me back if you will or
won't be able to attend. Again, thanks so much! "

This accident happened just over eight years ago, so to say I was surprised to get this email would be an understatement. I had to read it twice and think about it for over a day before responding. A Heroes banquet? Me? Not even close. Not when you compare what other people do day in and day out. Like the guy in the New York subway station who saw the person fall on the tracks and threw himself on top of the other person to hold them down while the train ran over the top of them. He left his two children on the platform and placed himself in harm's way. That I did not do. This man was interviewed later and said if he had actually taken time to think about it - he wouldn't have done that. Who would have?

I didn't have time to think about it either. In my years of training in certain fields, first responder thinking took over and I simply reacted to my training. No big deal. But I had to come to terms that it was a big deal. A Big Deal to these people who wanted to show their thanks to a stranger that helped them out. I wasn't the only person who stopped. Just happened to be the first person. As for saving their lives, I don't know about that. I don't recall much of the details.

I told them in my response that I would love to meet them, and I think that is true. I also told them I was uncomfortable in this format however, as I am certainly no hero. I can just see me standing there with someone else who rushed into a burning building and saved a baby! I stopped and called Air Flight and hung around assisting in traffic control and gave first aid.

What do I learn from this? To accept things graciously. Not be so "humble" as to draw more attention to myself for something I don't feel is that big a deal. I did that at my Emmaus Walk. Just couldn't get used to someone else doing for ME! I am a doer! I don't receive compliments, accolades or grace easily. It goes against my nature.

So - I am going to go to this thing. I am going to hug the ladies neck. I am going to recieve some award or recogonition certificate. I am going to be uncomfortable through it all.

I am going to blog the aftermath. ~npp

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Other Texas Religion!

After reading KJ's post in the road less traveled blog and Endlessly Restless' reply, I got inspired too! Thanks too you both.
In the Great State of Texas (Yep - we love Texas and the braggin' rights it brings to be a True Texan!)the predominate protestant denomination is Baptist, followed by United Methodist and then you got everyone else and the Catholic Church to boot. (no Texas pun intended).
But THE BIGGEST RELIGION OF THEM ALL IS "FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL" in TEXAS!!! Where we groan and fuss about getting up for church, we readily stay up and party for Friday Night Football. In small Texas towns that don't have much else going for them or the sidewalks are rolled up at 6pm, most live for the battles that are fought on green turf fields of glory. Talk of "We got a great team this year" or "We beat the heck out of ..." gives a sense of oneness where otherwise it is each their own.
Whether it be old guys reliving their glory days vicariously through their sons or young guys showing off their stuff - Football is Legendary In Texas.
I have gotten where I love football games more and more. I wasn't any good playing when I was younger, but the thrill of the whole thing never leaves you. It is a very manly thing to do, good talk at the water cooler, and ties lots of folks together. Community. Pride. Bragging. Where alot of other things drive us apart: Politics, Race, Gender, Socio Economic factors, heck even our denominations, Football seems to overlap all of these. It is fun to cheer your warriors on. Too support your Gladiator on the field of battle. To live in the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
Football. Yes. It is a great religion.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It was only a touch...

It happened innocently enough.
A small touch in a casual manner. A flirtful laugh. The sensation of her fingernails proceeding across the top of his shoulder down to the small of his back as he was walking away. It was the smallest of gestures.
At any other time it would have been meaningless, another incidental contact in a busy self-absorbed world. But not this time. Not for him. With the absence of affection he so deeply desired, dare say needed, this touch was more than that. It was a reminder of the huge void left by by a relationship which took everything for granted and gave nothing in return, of the day-in and day-out less-than-cordial existence he now found himself in.
Memories resurfaced of moments of intimacy they once shared, and he wondered how he got from there to here. The sadness enveloped him like a heavy wool blanket which provided no warmth, no comfort. Only aloneness. Isolation. How badly he wished to pursue that touch. To feel that which once again would warm his heart, touch his soul. As he turned and looked at her playful smile and ocean blue eyes, he knew that it was possible. His mind begin to fill with all the possiblities of emptying his heart, his soul, his entire being into someone who would give the same back. One who would recognize the meaningfulness of a single act, a small gesture, a touch.
He was in agony at the thought. Finding himself here, in a place where he did not want to be. Was this desire so important after all? Don't most people forget to love, to give, to consider others before themselves? Was he, after all, expecting too much? Was this the inevitable place all find themselves after time. He hoped not. He wished not. He knew not.
In quiet despair, he is torn between the love he wants back and the love that is calling too him out of the emptyness of his soul.
There is no guidance.
Prayerfully, tearfully, questioning God why He has brought him to this place. Deafening silence.
A choice must be made. A step must be taken. After all, it was only a touch...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guilt Free Sundays!!!

I don't know why this came to me. Maybe it is divine inspiration. Maybe its just wishful thinking. Either way, here's the thought: Guilt Free Sundays. Its one sunday every quarter where the church just closes up shop. Encourages families to stay home and rest, relax with one another. Or go out together to the park and play games. Or couples to go to IHOP and have an intimate brunch and get well acquainted again. Or single kids to go home for the weekend and visit mom and dad. Yeah, I know you can do all these things already, but this is CHURCH APPROVED! Hence, no guilt, no strings, or whatever. The church actually telling you to take a day off for your family. The church taking a day off. The Sabbath, Rest - Rest for the pastor and his family as well as you and yours. I doubt this would actually work in the real world, as church on sunday is the only social activity some people get. Or what about the person that shows up needing Jesus and you are closed. Or what about the tithing. Good grief. Okay, maybe it was just wishful thinking after all. Maybe I'll just initiate this in my little rebellious church group and see what the official church thinks of it! Guilt Free Sundays. I can dream can't I? ~npp

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

burying a dog

I am not a dog lover. Nor am I a dog hater. I am indifferent overall. However, I am a people lover and if people love their dog - then great! But late last evening I got a rare glimpse into the depth of feeling that dog lovers have for their pets. I say pets, it is more like a family member.
I am setting in the nice air conditioning of my home (It was in the 90s with incredibly life draining humidity), watching mindless reruns of something or the other, and my daughter brings me the cell phone saying that Ms. ____ wants to talk to me. Ms._____ is crying. The family dog was run over in the street. The dog they got from an animal shelter 6 months earlier. Her husband is upset. Its their daughter's 10th birthday. This is not a good day for them. They ask if I can come over. I say yes of course.
Its a 15 minute drive to their home and I take my daughter with me as she wants to cheer up her friend. While driving and my 10 year old daughter is chattering about something or the other, I am trying to think what I will do or say in this situation. What do you say to dog lovers who just lost their pet. Its a mind set I don't understand, but I do understand grief. Had my share. So I figure its closely related.
I arrive. Its hot. Sticky. Barely any light as night creeps in. Mosquitos and the buzz of insects and tree frogs fill the air. I am met by a teary eyed man in his 40s who has lost his best friend. I give him a hug and go about the business of helping him bury his dog. He reminisces. I listen. He cries a bit. I put my hand on his back. We have a beer together afterward and just set there.
The deed is done. The grieving process is well under way. Recovery is around the corner. A man remembers a good dog. Life moves on.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bono Fatigue

I just thought I would share this with you. As you may or may not know, my best friend reverend ricky at "yes yes the answer" blog loves U2. I think he likes the music but the message and possibly the messenger even better.
I, on the other hand, think that U2 is pretty good and they are actively trying to make the world a little better overall, but thats about it. No idol worship on this end.
but lately i wonder if the mssg of U2 is getting overshadowed by the overabundance of reporting and exposure of U2. Like can't see the forest for all of the trees. just too much of a thing tends to numb the senses.
so I am reading an article in Relevant magazine and I see this reference to where people who are literally worn out by all the U2 and Bono in the news and radio and mags, that they are going through rehab.
If this is YOU - then consider this a public service announcement from the Non-Profit Prophet. Visit the site, work the program, and let the recovery began.
"Hi, my name is non-profit prophet, and I suffer from bono fatigue."
"Hi NPP".
;) ~npp

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Its been a while...

Its been a while since I have taken time to post. It seems that time is such a commodity that it is hard to set any aside for this. I have had a sort of epiphany if you will, or wondering thought as of late.
Have I always been a Christian? Am I one now? I'm not so sure anymore. I think in the everyday usage of the term, the answer is YES of course. But in retrospect, I think maybe not. Let me explain.
I have always believed in God. You know, the Big Man up there with the lightning and the rule book and the "vengeance is mine" thing. I have tried living up to His standards and have done a pretty good job for the most part. I have heard His voice on occassion, have walked with Him (see my post Finding God in Anderson County Tx), and have seen some stuff...
BUT...have I been a Christian? A follower of Christ. The answer may be NO. I am not a Theologian, but there seems to be a difference to me.
I have found that it is easier to Believe In God than it is to Follow The Christ. Have I kept the commandments? mostly. Have I been a good boy and worshipped and participated in HIS church? yes. Have I read my bible and devotionals? Sorta. Do I pray to God? yes. So it appears that I believe in God.
Do I turn the other cheek? Not likely. Do I go without to help the poor? Not really. Do I love my enemies? Probably not. Do I judge others? Yes. Will it be easier for a little one to enter the Kingdom than it will be for me? I reckon so.
so there it is. my own little dilemna. How can it be so easy to Believe in God in the first place and so damn hard to follow the teachings of His Son? Don't they appear to be at odds with one another philosophically speaking? I know its Old Testament v New Testament and Old Covenant v New Covenant and all that jazz that goes along with those apologetics, but hell (if there actually is one) why am I just now thinking about this in my life?
Is it possible to believe in God and not Jesus? Is it plausible that they are one in the same? Am I the only person out here with this strange thought in my head? I have no answers to this other than the ones I know are out there. You got any?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

what does your life say?

I got the following email from a friend today:

"Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read.
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

I have been teaching on how our every action, deed, and thought becomes a composite of who we are. Little things we do in life, over time, that defines us to ourselves, our place in history, and to those around us. We are what we eat theory.

One person asked me what i thought about porn. My only response was that anything that causes you to become less than what you are, that becomes an addiction you can't shake, is bad. Not because "what it is", but more so how it controls you: Anger, Resentment, Porn, Food, Sex, Wine, Smoking, NASCAR, whatever...

I went and saw "Mr. Brooks" last weekend at the movies. Kevin Costner plays a seriel killer who is addicted to killing. He gets off on it. Goes to AA and claims to be an addict, only no one there knows what kind of addict. He knows he has a problem, but can't shake it because it controls him. It has taken on a personality all its own that actually persuades him to do this act or that act. Its scary.

Mine is cynicism. It controls me. Gets the best of me. Makes me quick to fire off a remark. It is good, but to a point it gets bad. It affects all aspects of my life: family, marriage, kids, work, church. Most of the time I am right about something, but my approach, my response to the situation comes across as cras.

And then I get this email. And it reminds me that I do claim this label of "Christian". Not because I am holier than thou, not because I have it all figured out, not because I know the scriptures, but because somewhere in my life, my childhood, this Jesus fellow was presented to me as real. As a way of life that can't be topped. That I should do this or that because it is True, it is Real, it is Love.

I cannot change this.

I hope my life, the only bible some people will read, readily reflects this.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Big Dick Theory

Okay, this has absolutely nothing to do with those spam emails for male enlargement. I'm smiling enough as it is so no problem.
Many years ago, in my wednesday morning men's group (called the Wards Boys, don't even get me started on why its called that, more like promise keepers gone bad) it seemed that everyone was getting their turn with crap happening to them. Not run of the mill life stuff, but actual BS to deal with - death, divorce, financial issues, moving, etc. We dubbed it "Big Dick Theory", that there was a giant dick just floating around the universe looking for the next person it could "f" up and ruin their day, week, life, etc.
One Wednesday morning one of the guys walks in and announces he has seen the big dick. Seems his office had some duct work issues, so they removed all of the ceiling tiles and were replacing the ventilation ducting. Since they hadn't finished, they left their work "as is", as in a big tubular section of duct hanging down from the ceiling and aiming right at his desk. I think he took a picture.
Many of us have experienced this phenomenon and thought "why me"? Like the little rain cloud that just seems to follow only you. But I know it happens to everyone, different severity maybe, but everyone has their stuff that happens. I used to think that some folks lived charmed lives (and on a comparison scale maybe so), but its all relative to your own place in life.
I have fought back against the demons over the years. Sometimes they win - sometimes not. But I don't look at it as the Big Dick Theory anymore. Its just life. Some lumps are harder than others. I just tend to deal with them differently now.
I'm not sure if my approach will work for the long run, but the Big Dick seems to have Erectile Dysfunction as of late - and that is just fine with me.

Monday, June 4, 2007


It has been a really long time since I've entered a blog. About a month. Been thinking about it, planning on doing it, good intentions... but I'm tired. Worn out beat down road hard emotionally and mentally drained tired.
There are times in Life when I feel like I am at the top of a funnel. You know the kind you put fluids in and they swirl around. Life at the top of the funnel is fun, and open and big and new. But as the pressure increases, and I am forced through an ever decreasing size hole where I feel the sides closing in on me as I am forced into an even narrower and more forceful environment.
This is also known as cruch time. The endless drama of work and home, the demands of life (internal and external sources), and the consistant emphasis on getting it all done and doing it extremely well and being on a deadline.
Where did this all come from and why does it all hit and once?
There is, at present, a lull in the storm. I can still see it on the distant horizon - a huge storm cloud filled with dark billows, wild lightening and furious winds. I know that this presnt calmness is temporary, so i am blogging now.
I just got back from riding my motorcycle in the Quachita Mountains in Oklahoma. Was over a 500 mile trip in one day. It was good. It was Man on machine. Man in nature. Oneness, at least for a while. You can't answer the cell phone on a motorcycle - which is one of the main reasons I bought it. And this gave me physical tiredness, but mental clarity.
But it is Monday morning again. Back to legislation, policies, corporate drama, well intentioned church folks with ideas to bounce off of me, and personal crisis.
I know I am at the bottom of the funnel now, where I may finally escape through the narrow neck and exit into the great expanse of the unknown. Like the fluid, I hope to fulfill some greater destiny than just passing through the funnel. But if, as my motorcycle jacket patch says, "Its not the Destination, but the Journey" that matters, then I will have to find contentment in this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

car accidents

Several months ago, a young high school girl was driving home when she was struck by a drunk driver. It appeared she would not make it. The phones and emails began to churn prayer requests and people prayed fervently. Life flighted to a larger hospital, it was touch and go. A website was set up for people to leave comments and check on her progress. Everyone was praying to God for healing and the family. Days passed and she got better, people praised God. Weeks passed and progress was slow, people still praised God. Months later she is doing much better and all the Posts thanks God for this and that.
Great. Really Great.
Tuesday, a 17 year old friend of our family, who lives about 8 miles from the above girl, was returning home when he lost control of his vehicle and was struck by another car. Killed instantly. No chance, no time, no hope.
Now, both families were interestingly similar. Church goers, financially well off, good kids. Seemingly apples to apples comparison. So why did one die and the other live. Will both parents be praising God? Was his will done? Was that it?
I dare not try to understand the why's of any of this, for I don't think it can be comprehended, and would drive me even further insane than I already am.
Faith, Trust, Hope, Love - intermingled amongst questions and confusion.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

start my own church?

I got this email today from a person in my sunday school class that I teach weekly, totally unsolicited and so totally cool... I wanted to share...

I had an idea for you:

YOu could start your own church and call it the Messy Christian Church

and you could put up signs that say "We don't have the answers.....come join us"

..We are followers of Jesus...........and we stumble all the time.......come join us"

PS We even drink beer sometimes ;)

Premium Outlet Mall

Recently I went to my first Premium Outlet Mall. I wasn't sure what I'd find but hey, its an Outlet Mall, home of the fabulously low deal on stuff you gotta have. I walk the concrete, glancing from side to side at the brand names... Gucci, Vans, Ralph Lauren, and stores I haven't heard of before.
I walk into some store, either Burberry (spelling?) or Coach (cause I had no idea what they were) and it was a store full of purses, and wallets, and coin purses, and stuff. I look over to my right and on a table was a small coin purse. Now what was impressive about this coin purse was not the design. Nothing special there. It wasn't a fancy color. What was impressive was that this thing cost $103 and some change. And it pissed me off. Instantly. And I wondered why it made me so mad.
I thought about it. Initially because it costs so much and I knew someone would buy it. And I figure that person who bought it would place it inside a much larger overpriced purse and take it to church with them. And yes, that pissed me off as well. So much need in the world, so much good that would do, and someone calling themselves a Christian would spend money on this. And I was angry. I could not even use the biblical story where the girl poured the expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus and the disciples chastised her ... because it was done out of love. An extravagent love.
I probably waste money on stuff as well that could go to help feed hungry people or whatever. But that isn't what really made me angry. It is that we have been sold a huge lie. We are buying into an image that isn't real. The rise of Abercrombie, Tommy Hilfigher, etc. somehow makes us proud to show off how much money we spent on stuff and then advertise it to the world. "look at me - I have 'x' name brand this or that". It is either so show we can afford it, or to keep up with what the world considers hip, or some image we wish to portray.
Or maybe its class warfare. Honda Accords were the thing in the early 80s. When everyone started to afford them, they come up with Acura. Toyotas - Lexus, Isuzu - Infinity. You catch up with a Suburban? Not good enough cause now we have topped that with Escalade. You get my drift - same product, different label to separate the haves from the can't affords.
I have always had an aversion to labels. Whether it be on my clothes or attached to my person. Whether Jew or Gentile or Samaritan. If we as a culture really think that what matters is on the outside, attached to a label or defined by price tag, I can't see where we have made any progress.
And yes. Look around at church. You will see these labels. And its a shame. I think I'll have a chardonay and set in my sauna and think about it before heading out to the golf course.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I stand corrected!

I did the Santa Claus Jesus thing this week. I know, I know - HYPOCRITE! But hey, I was desperate and didn't know what else to do or where else to turn. All reason or semblance of sanity seemed to have disappeared, so what was a good soul to do? If you read my earlier post about Santa Claus Jesus, you know how I feel about it. But something had to be done.

Sanjaya. Sanjaya from American Idol had continued to mock my world. Caused serious doubts to arise in my mind about the hearing abilities of millions of Americans. I could not help myself. I went down on my knees and prayed. "Dear Jesus, please let this be the night. Please let Sanjaya get voted off of American Idol".

Now I wasn't completely off my rocker. I didn't bargain with God by offering this or that. Nope, just asked for something. Something simple. And it HAPPENED! Oh My GOD! Its true. Santa Claus Jesus delivered and Sanjaya is now eligible for TV GUIDE Chat.
Santa Claus Jesus. I stand corrected. ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Finding God in Anderson County

I remember in my youth, the anticipated journey each summer to Lakeview United Methodist Church camp, deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas. This was my escape valve from the life I was in at home. It was a good life. A normal easy going small town Friday Night Lights kind of place. But Lakeview, Lakeview was somewhere I could be someone different. No, not really different, but actually myself. Restricted at home by the labels of those who had known me growing up, who had attached conclusions about my abilities, intellect, odd fascinations with something other than the here-and-now, I longed for that week.
As we could not afford family vacations, every summer I would ride with a neighboring town's church, in their old gas-fume-smelling air conditionerless bus on the 3 hour jaunt through the meandering highways to the middle of nowhere. Crossing onto the camp property and over an old wooden bridge, there was a small island where you could see a large whitewashed wooden cross, proclaiming that this was a place where Jesus may be. It was also where a lot of pretty girls would just happen to be as well.
Nestled inside of this camp is an assortment of cabins. Girls on one side and Boys on the other, and never the two shall be found on the wrong side. Swimming pools, Tennis Courts, Softball Field and one of the neatest little chapels in the woods you could imagine. Towering over all of this were magnificent pines. Pines so tall they the would proudly rise to tickle the bottom of careless clouds floating past on the lazy summer days.
It was on such a day in this setting that I found God. I was walking along a path between the cabins and the chapel, and a sudden breeze on a windless day wound its way through the pine trees on my left, the pines twisting and swaying, their heavy branches loaded down with pine needles, and waltzed across my path. As suddenly had it arrived it was gone. No other wind, no other breeze. Just God walking with me, as if to show off and let me know he was there. It was surreal. I stopped in awe.
I went on to the Chapel, cutting through the hot hazy humidity known throughout the area, and no wind was to be found. I did not mention this to anyone else for fear of being labeled insane of course. But during chapel, the speaker asked if anyone had experienced this phenomenon and described it just as I had seen it. I and he were the only ones.
Years later I would find myself working in that same area, in a place where God was hard too see, and wondering where He was. Then this memory surfaces of my encounter with the living God who would take time to walk with me.
It was ironic. I had found Him there in my youth, and was searching for Him there in my adulthood.
Yes, I found God in Anderson County Texas. Or maybe, just maybe, he found me - twice.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Santa Claus Jesus

Facing The Giants. The movie made by a church and acted by church members. I had heard good stuff about it so I said, what the heck, its $4 to rent. So I rent. I watch. I get irritated. I continue to watch. Get more irritated.
Okay. If you haven't seen it and plan to, stop reading now!
This has nothing to do with the Church's intent. This is not a dis on their sincerity. This isn't even a reflection of the lacking acting abilities. I mean heck, they are doing what they think is a good thing for the world, according to their doctrine.
My concern is this: What happens when people who are not believers or those who are exploring this thing called Christianity see this film and ...
Well here's the thing. I call it the Santa Claus Jesus theory. You just ask Jesus for something and he gives it to you. In this movie, there are all sorts of little subplots. Need to win the big football game? Just pray the right prayer to Jesus and he delivers the win in this movie. Having financial difficulties? No problem. Just pray to Jesus and you will get an unexpected raise! Car broke down? Jesus knows it and he provides a brand new pickup truck for you out of the blue! Oh yeah, but the offer doesn't stop there, no sir! If you order now, you will also get the pregnancy you always desired - even after the doctors said it was impossible, absolutely free!
Good grief.
Now maybe you believe this theory of Jesus. Maybe you have always prayed to Jesus for, oh, lets see, that the hot girl will like you and go out with you. Or maybe your prayer is a little more important. Maybe you prayed that the test results will come back negative for cancer. Maybe your prayer is for your loved one to quit being abusive! Did it happen? Did the magic occur for you? Call me quirky, but I'm pretty sure I have seen two opposing football teams both praying on the field before a game, and be damned if one of them didn't loose anyway.
Matter of the fact, I have seen people pray that their loved one to be healed and you know what? Sometimes it doesn't happen.
Some people pray and what they want happens. Some people pray and what they want does not happen. Whats wrong with the latter? They must not have had enough faith! Maybe they said the prayer wrong.
Or maybe we are missing the point. The Gethsemane prayer, "Not my will, but thine", even when Jesus was asking to avoid what was about to happen, he understood that it wasn't about his will, but what God needed to do in the circumstance. Lords prayer: "Thy Kingdom Come, THY WILL be done".
Recently, this film was shown to a bunch of at-risk youth because the person showing it thought it would save them, introduce Jesus to them. But what happens to these youth when they do the magic prayer and; they are still poor? parents are still abusive? dad doesn't get out of prison early? According to the movie it should happen. Does this mean God doesn't love them? Does it confirm to them they are not worthy, just as society has told them. Or worse, does it plant the seed in their minds that Christianity is just a bunch of crap from do gooder people who have no idea where they are coming from. My concern is that instead of turning them to Jesus, it will drive them away.
Don't get me wrong. It isn't totally a whacked concept. I have experienced Santa Claus Jesus several times. Healing my daughter when it didn't seem probable. Unexpected monies arriving when I was desperately short on cash. Changing the heart of another person. I have also experienced the other side - where my prayer wasn't always answered as I had wished.
I think if this film had shown both sides of the isle, I wouldn't have had such an adverse reaction to its message. However, I am concerned what it will do in the long run, when Santa doesn't deliver as depicted.

Friday, April 6, 2007

"where the spirit of the lord is..."

I was around the church proper my entire life. Liturgy, planned worship service, bulletins, greeter, etc. My view of what church was supposed to be like, including the proper clothing, is how I projected what a church should be well into my early adult years.

Somewhere along my journey, I began to question this stuff. I mean, its not that it kept me from going to church or participating in the planned events, even in leadership roles, but I started loosing interest in the rules and processes, and began to focus on the purpose.

Part of a creed we said every sunday morning went something like this, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the One True Church....". For some reason this morning, this phrase keeps circulating through my mind,"where the Spirit of the Lord is...." which brings to question: Just Where is HE? I go to my church now and am fairly convinced he isn't there. He used to be, but no longer. I can no longer find Him in the processes. In the regulations. In the Liturgy of service.

My brother (spiritually speaking) is pastor of a new emerging faith community called Journey IFC in Austin Texas. When he first told me about this new thing, meeting in a YMCA and naming it after a rock band (just kidding), I was a bit anxious about his prospects. Even better when I learned this faith community was going to move - no, not to a church with a steeple, but a warehouse in an industrial area. Just what was he thinking? Who would he attract with this formula of doing church? How would he make it financially? Aren't there socially questionable people hanging out in these areas?

I am an idiot.

I have figured out where the spirit of the lord is. He is there, in the warehouse. In an industrial area. In the hearts, minds, and soul of this faith community who is reaching out to homeless folks, seekers who have been labeled by society, and recovering Churchianity People like me. How do I know this? I've seen it. I have also seen a Jesus who would have been in the warehouse as well as the Temple. The difference is the people. One group is practicing Jesus. The other is practicing procedure.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the one true Church". The Lord is with those who need him and seek him. Can he come back to my church? Yes. Did he leave? Maybe, but he was asked to leave. I say lets invite him back.

Monday, April 2, 2007

from the mouth of a child...

I am setting at my dining room table saturday morning reading Max Lucado's "Six Hours One Friday", having a cup of coffee, as is my routine. My four year old daughter, who likes to get up early as well, comes and sets in the chair next to me, playing with something or the other and making small talk with dad. I am only partially listening, of course, cause I am engaged in the big people world of study for my sunday morning faith community, and reading....
but I hear these words, "Daddy, I see its shadow". I have to ask her to repeat herself because she doesn't talk very well at four years old. She was holding what looked like a medallion on the end of a string and saying, "see the shadow", while dangling it in front of her. Me being so smart, I decide this would be a good time to teach this little one something, so I ask her if she knows where a shadow comes from. She replies, "Yes - from light. But if you don't have light you don't have a shadow". Hmmmm... something struck me about that simple response from the mind of a four year old and got me to thinking, which is usually dangerous. Without Light, no Shadow. And it made me think about my own shadow. What was my light source? How far do i cast my shadow?
DC Talk song has a tune with the lyrics, "i wanna be in the light, as you are in the light"... and it went racing through my head. Yeah, I wanna be in the light, cause if I ain't in the light, then I ain't casting no shadow. And have you noticed that the closer you are to a light - the bigger your shadow is?
Man, if this won't preach - nothing will.
A cup of coffee, an early morning hour, and the voice of a four year old. thank you God

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Eeeyore and me

Why is it that we are never content. never satisfied. always desiring something more or different? is it the human condition, a deadly sin, a pardigm shift that needs to occur...or is it something else? Today while discussing Max Lucado's "Six Hours One Friday" with my little fellowship group, it occurs to me that maybe its not that we just want what we do not have, but they we are actively rejecting something we really need. To replace our feelings of failure, guilt, ineptness, we replace what we really need with stuff. And when that stuff no longer satisfies, we get more stuff, or better stuff, or whatever. Sounds like a George Carlin monologue. Only it isn't funny. It can be debilitating. When God offers Grace, it is difficult for us to just accept it. Must not be that good if its free huh? Or maybe, just maybe, we feel we don't deserve it. Well, that's true. That's what makes Grace so weird. Getting something you don't deserve. So we reject it, or at least resist it, and try to fill that void with other stuff. It doesn't work. Can't work. There is a part of us, that knows we cannot fill that void with material stuff, yet we trod right along attempting to do so all the time. I love the scene in a Winnie-The-Pooh animation, where Eeyore has asked Santa Clause for a house. And Pooh, believing he has screwed up Christmas by loosing the wish list letter to Santa, gets Eeyore a tent, which is too small for Eeyore and it sticks to his back when he walks. Eeyore is dissappointed, saying "I asked for a house, and got a mobile home". Pooh can't get it right, cause it wasn't from the right source. And Eeyore is like me, even when I get it - I still can't enjoy it cause I'm carrying around all this stuff that tells me I am not worthy of it. You know, I'm not worthy of it. I'm not worthy of the friends I have, family I have, job I have, or stuff I get. But you know, it doesn't matter. I gotta learn to love those things in spite of myself. "Whoa is me" says Eeyore.

Friday, March 23, 2007

American Idol?

It seems we are hooked on American Idol for some unknown reason. The suspense, the talent, the crazy voting! Yes - How in the world has Sanjaya made it these past few weeks? Should be raising the brows of conspiracy theorists all over the united states. Sanjaya, probably the least talented of any of the top 12, has somehow made it through each week while more talented are eliminated. For some creepy reason he reminds me of a cross between Michael Jackson & Prince, but without the talent. Just what is it we idolize anyway? Seems to me all the wrong stuff. After Dale Ernhart (NASCAR i think) died in an accident, I saw the number #3 on windows of vehicles everywhere. I then thought, Hey - if Jesus would have had a number , maybe he would have been more idolized as well! Keep on singing Sanjaya. I doubt you'll get crucified, but maybe at least voted off.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Melting Pot?

Remember the American melting pot? A pot that has various ingredients and substances that were combined into one big pot with a unique flavor. I even remember School House Rock had a little jingle/clip about it. Wonder what happened to that concept? What made us uniquely Americans has now been lost in a sea of segregation, where we divide ourselves into slots of "....... - american", be it African American, Iranian American, Italian American...whatever. We seem to be loosing a sense of oneness, a national identity. We have traded the melting pot for a box of assorted chocolates, where we are all in the same box and resemble one another, but look on the inside and we are not alike. I like soup better than a box of chocolates. Not sure how Forrest Gump would take this post.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

its all about the blood

Okay, so I'm not a Calvinist. Sue me. I have this recurring conversation with an ex-pastor friend of mine who is constantly trying to convince me that 1. i'm not "saved" 2. that it is all about "the blood of the lamb".... Anyone else find that icky? I mean, what do these words mean "salvation", "blood of the lamb", "precious red words of Jesus", anyway? I think these are the terms that turn me off - and a lot of others i expect. Call it semantics, but it does.

So I figure I'm just all alone, whacked theologically speaking, because I think that it is actually about loving one another and yourself, and acceptance. I read this book, (which has sold over 800,000 copies I found out) "The Will of God" by Leslie Weatherhead. Guess what - this guy is whacked as well! Yippee! I'm not alone. Other people actually think that God's Intentional Will was that folks were to listen to Jesus and take up his ministry and follow him - Not crucify him. That was a result of the evilness of man, not what God planned. Just like when some kid dies and some well intentioned person tells them, "it was the will of God". Call me crazy, but I can't see where God intentionally gives a six year old girl leukemia. Disease happens, God makes the best of it. The crucifixion happened, God made the best of it. Ultimate Will. You might set God back - but you can't beat Him.

If I get a response, someone will quote Paul. You can quote me on that.... lol.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Don't you hate these. People letting you know something about themselves to make them seem interesting enough for you too read their blogs? It is called nonprofitprophet, because even though I am a prophet in the most biblical sense of the word - I can't seem to make any money at it... Hence Non Profit!