Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Things we remember

When I was about seven I remember being outside, at the end of our driveway. I can't remember what I was doing, but I was probably riding some kind of vehicle, skateboard, big wheel, green machine, whatever. This older kid rode up on his bicycle and stopped. He smiled at me and said, "hey, hows it going?"

I smiled and said, "pretty good"

He made some small talk, asked if my big wheel was really fast or something. And then he said, "catch you later" I remember that because it sounded so cool. And then he rode away. I don't think I ever talked to him again. But I still remember it to this day. I can picture his face as I type this.


Well for me it was this older kid, who was obviously really cool, and he took time to talk to me. It made me feel so good, I felt important. I remember smiling for a good long while. Just because someone said hello and took a moment to recognise my existence.

I guess the question that comes to my mind now is: Do I do this for others now? If a stupid minute out of my life, may make someone feel better, even a little. If for one moment they can feel validated, and acknowledged just by a smile and a hello, why don't I do it more often?

Maybe the worlds not filled with impressionable seven years olds, but then again, maybe that seven year old is hidden in all of us.

the rev

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Lodge

Spent some time with a young man the other day. He has the word crib tattoo'd on his face under his eye. He seemed rather excited about the fact that he had lost 3 kilos in the last eighteen months. And was very, very animated.

He called to L who is probably the leader of our group that goes to the Lodge, put his arm around her and talked about how he was going to run away and marry her. I am pretty sure her husband would not approve of the plan. He started dancing to a particular song and insisted she dance a bit too, which she did.

Then N and I spent about a half hour talking to him. He talked about how he liked it there, and that he knew he would get in a lot of trouble if he went back home. He told us of his sister and her pregnancy. I think he is excited to be an uncle. We compared tattoo's, my Christ saves tattoo across my belly was admired and when I told him what it said, it must have stayed in his mind for a whole two seconds. N and I were then invited to go see the new stereo he had bought. It was a small boom box, and he immediately turned on some Tupac and turned it up really loud, to show us how great it sounded. It really was loud, but not so great sounding.

We left after a few hours. I felt pretty melancholy for the rest of the day. Asking myself how we can make better relationships with these broken people. Maybe a movie night, maybe arranging some art lessons, maybe going to help clean some of the rooms.

Or maybe I should just go pick up my friend, and go have a coffee, or see a movie. The programs are great, and might really be enjoyable to some, but ultimately it will be the relationships that matter.

the rev

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sunday morning

Sunday morning our group gathered for our breakfast and worship. We had mushrooms, eggs, toast and bacon. Not a bad way to start the day.

I shared a message I have been talking about in a few places. It was about the early church, the way they lived, the way they cared for one another, and their devotion to the apostle teaching, to each other, the the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Devotion is a strong word. How are we devoted to one another? Devoted to the fellowship? How does that actually work?

It would seem to me that we are often more devoted to the orgainization, than to each other. I for one believe the way forward in the church, and in the fight against poverty is to learn devotion to each other. The first church sold their belongings, rejected the materialism and consumerism of their day, and in so doing were free to care for others. Funny but this becomes attractional. People being generous, turning their backs on the world, actually loving each other, and caring for each other, well that sounds pretty good. Better than a hour and a half rock concert, motivational speaking session!!! Well to me atleast.

the rev

Saturday, August 20, 2005

What can I do about the spam

What kind of jackasses do this?

How can I stop this?

I have switched to members only for the time being to see if that will help, I am sorry if that inconveniences anyone.

the rev

The liar

I guess the old idea that if something is worth doing, its worth doing well can have lots of interesting twists and turns. The other day I was working at a long term shelter for homeless people. It is a pretty severe place with many of the people either heroin addicts or on the methadone program trying to stop being heroin addicts. There are a number of mentally ill people as well as some who have just gotten out of jail and are trying to get back into the flow of life. The hallways smell of urine, and unwashed people. Each floor has two bathroom and toilets for all of the occupents. Two floors, eighty people you do the math.

I just started to go there on Fridays to give out coffee and tea. Its an opportunity to get to know some of the hurting in our own neighbor hood. As I was sitting in the room one guy began talking to us. He decided if he was gonna lie, he might as well go for it! :)

Now as most good lies do his started with some truth, and then just went crazy. We couldn't tell where the truth stopped and the lies began. And as I sat there listening to this pretty young man, who was a helicopter pilot, and didn't drink, but while drunk rolled a personel carrier among other things, I found myself wondering why? Why lie about soooo much?

Then I started thinking about myself. How much of my life, and my personna is a lie? Do I try and make myself seem a little bit better, a little more humble, a little more self sacrificing? And is it any different because it is more believable? Atleast this guy had the balls to lie boldly.

Perhaps the title of this little message is my title. I hope I can be a bit more honest, first with myself, and then with all of those I love.

the liar

UNOH surrender conference (part 4 cage fighter pacifist?)

At the UNOH conference I had another chat about how I could possibly be a cage fighter and a minister, and how could I possibly be a pacifist when I fight in the ring? Well those are good questions, and to be honest, I do get tired of answering them, since ofcourse I have been asked them many times.

I think I have come up with the best answer I can. I loved skateboarding. But I always got hurt when I skateboarded. Sometimes pretty severely. The weirdest thing is, I enjoyed skateboarding not because I got hurt, but because there was a risk of getting hurt. If you took away the risk, well, I just wouldn't have any fun at all. I used to skateboard with Ray Barbie, who was at the time one of the top pro's and a Christian, and a bunch of other Christian skate boarders. Someone would always bring up how great it would be in heaven. We could skate all we wanted and pull off the most insane tricks and we'd never fall and get crunched. I couldn't think of anything more boring.

Well this is why I enjoy fighting. And my opponents are the same way. We enjoy the competition because of the risk, and that is why we both volountarily step in the ring to have a good time. I may not be able to live up to my values, but I would hope that even in the middle of a match if I began to take it peronally, or get angry, that I would forfeit and lose that match rather than strike someone in anger.

There is something in me, and in many men I believe that is built for competition, for physical exertion and risk. I think we can follow this in a healthy way, loving each other along the way. Whether it is fighting, footy, or rugby, we get a chance to go out there and let that warrior nature come out, but within a framework that is not sinful. I love the guys I train with, I think as we wrestle and box with one another we are drawn closer, and grow together. There is a learning to get in touch with this part of us and accept it, and control it. Before this I could just deny this part of who I was, and therefore not be ready for the wild warrior man, when he popped up, sometimes the surprise kept me from controlling myself.

I am a pacifist by choice, I am not weak, I am not incapable, I just choose the way of non violence. Regardless of what my sport of choice is.

the rev

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

UNOH surrender conference (part 3 Darryl Gardner)

I love Daz, he is one of those amazing guys that lives as a very passionate, very male, very insane disciple of Jesus. He may not always say what you would expect, and will occasionally say things you don't expect, but he always tells it like it is, in a powerfully simple way.

He was talking this last weekend about sustainability. He talked about how the ideals are usually different from our reality, and the fact is we may never totally reach our ideals. When we start out in ministry we are often doing so with a lot of our own issues being the driving force, ie. our desire to feel good about helping people that get neglected or something of that nature. And we move on from there hopefully to become people that are commited to the task ie. committed to the poor. And hopefully we will move on to ministering out of our love for God.

He talked about the pitfalls in each place. How we eventually find that we do not find ultimate fulfillment of our own ego in ministry. We will eventually see that the task will never be completed and that others quit and leave us alone. We cannot minister forever with these as the basis of what we do. But eventually we must move towards our love of God being the more important of these.

Then he talked about these vultures :)

I didn't hear where they were from, nor what kind they were, but they gave an interesting picture of Christian ministry. These birds would find a feed and gorge themselves to the point of not being able to move very well. They were not able to fly, but would run and flap their wings often just winding up stumbling and falling. But eventually the air would catch their wings just right and they would lift, as they flapped and stuggled eventually they would hit updrafts and they would wind up soaring to the heights with almost no effort, being carried on the wind.

His point was this, we must wait on the Lord as we are exhausted from ministry, but it is not just standing still. We must move towards God, continuing to walk the walk. And then, somewhere in our struggles we bump into the Spirit of God that lifts us up. The struggle is what allows us to be ready for the up draft. DOesn't mean we earned the rest, nor does it mean that we even helped to get there. We were merely placing ourselves onto Gods hands, and he lifts us up. I have found this to be true in my life. Never really got out of my douldrums or depressions by sitting and waiting for something to happen.

the rev

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

UNOH conference(part2 the poor need you)

One of the things Jackie told us was very impactful. She said the poor don't need your money, they need you. Ofcourse they probably need both. But this is the problem many of those that don't give use as a "proof" that it is hopeless.

If we give money it will be eaten up by administration. It will be used up and wasted by the politicians. It will be spent on weapons, etc.

Well some of those things may be true, however, the poor and the marginalized need more than money, they need you.

My brother lived with a young racist skin head for about a year. The guy was a bit of a nutter, and I tried to help him grow out of his hate and anger a bit, but I wasn't very successful. His Grandfather was a multi millionaire who really took a liking to my brother. He was talking to my brother one day and said, "these people think they should have my money, that it isn't fair, well you know what? If I gave them my money they would piss it away. In a few years they would be poor again" And though I would love to test his theory, it might be true in some instances.

We only need to look at the gangster mc's to see how often when we add a lot of money to certain situations that it doesn't help, and can make it worse. But then what is our calling?

It seems to me that they not only need monetary help, but that they also need community, they need support, they need friends, they need examples. Josh McDowell once told me that what I needed to do in the midst of a generation of broken families (the number one cause of poverty in the first world), was to love my wife and kids infront of as many people as I can, but especially the kids in my youth group. He said we might be the only real family they ever see, and they need to have an example to follow. I think I am saying the same thing.

I can send my money, and I do. I can show up at the soup kitchen, and I have. But as long as I go home, in my nice comfortable neighborhood. As long as I am hidden from the people I say I care about. I am just perpetuating a system that keeps the poor, poor. It is easy, and almost ridiculously easy to give to the poor. Infact it makes you feel better. But it is something different to actually live with them. Funny, but when you actually do it, you realize that was pretty easy to. Jackie also said that, its the doing that is hard, then you realize I should have done this long ago.

the rev

Acts 4

Been enjoying reading Acts again.

At the end of Chapter four we find again that the early church lived in a form of voluntary communism. They didn't consider their goods to be their own, but considered it all to be God's and therefore, each others. They made sure needs were met, of everyone in their communities. Some were selling their homes and properties to help one another. It would appear from the text that others would use their homes to take in and care for those that needed that. One thing that is obvious, they considered it quite natural that following Jesus meant living in a way radically different from those around them.

We live in a different age. I have a lawn mower that I only use once every two weeks in the summer, and once a month in the winter, but so does every one of my neighbors. why? We not only live in houses by ourselves, but often have houses so that everyone has their own room, and we have bigger rooms for when we decide to be a part of others lives. We hear a message that God's blessings means you have even more of this stuff. We even have "small houses" that we use just to store our stuff that won't fit into our houses.

We live in a different age, but do we have to live the same way?

I choose not to

the rev

Monday, August 15, 2005

The UNOH Surrender conference(part 1 put your hand up)

Haven't been around much these last few days. Was at the UNOH surrender conference over the weekend, and then had a day away with the wife for our anniversary (17 years). But I am going to write some of my observations from this last weekend.

Mick Duncan and Jackie Pullinger were the key speakers.

Now Mick is someone I love listening to. He doesn't sweeten it up. He doesn't give you much in the way of comic relief. Nor does he shy away from the hard subjects. Brutally honest and direct. I love hearing from Mick, because when I do, I invariably hear from God as well.

Mick and his wife Ruby went to live in the slums of Manilla for ten years. They lived in a little shack right in the middle of the filth and poverty. They went with their children as well. For ten years they were riddled with illness, with trials we can only imagine, and most tragically one of their children died. Ofcourse Mick has copped a lot of flack for this. And I won't take the time to defend him here, nor would he want me to I belive. But he followed the call of God to minister to the poor, and he paid a heavy price.

Mick's second message really impacted me. He explained that he didn't have a bunch of miraculous signs show him he was called to Manilla. He didn't hear Gods voice from a clouds as a dove gently floated onto his shoulder. He didn't receive a letter in the post signed the almighty. He saw the need. He felt God's compassion, and he set out to meet that need.

He put his hand up. He said here I am send me. He was moved with compassion and acted. Look my friends, I believe God leads and directs us. I believe God lights our path. But I also believe that God cannot steer a parked car. Until we get moving, put our hand up, do something, we are merely an inert object. And as much as God would point you in the correct direction unless you move, you will only be a car pointing a different way, but still parked, going no where.

This world needs people to put their hand up. To say, I will respond. It requires two things, to see, and then to act. So open your eyes, then open your heart and just do what it says. Oh, and pray for me as I try to do the same thing.

So Dad how can I love your people today?

the rev

Acts chapter 3

Peter and John were walking through the temple, and a crippled beggar starts doing what beggars do. Now this is the response I am challenged by:

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "look at us", so the man gave him his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Now, I see beggars all the time. I am sure you do as well. But do you actually look them in the eye? If they aren't looking do you call their attention to your presence? Do you take the time to actually acknowledge their humanity, to interact with them on a human level? Sadly, sometimes I do not.

Now Peter and John said, "we have no money, but we'll give you what we can." I believe they had already given him something, the knowledge that he was not invisible. But they gave him what they had to give, and then something amazing happened. Now I believe in miracles. I have seen some with my own two eyes, but I also have grown a bit of doubt about my ability to pull someone to their feet.

But I wonder a few things about this passage:

Do we look these people in the eye?

Can we legitmately say, "I have no money"

And if we can, are we then absolved of responsiblity? Or are we required to give what we do have?

Maybe we can see God working miraculously in our own lives if we take the time, and the faith, to follow the example of Peter and John. You know I don't have any money, but how about some respect, and then how about some...?

What can I offer?

the rev

Friday, August 12, 2005

Seeing a vision

Last night at the UNOH conference Jackie Pollinger was speaking, she then brought up one of her team who shared a prophecy. She then said, "all of you can do this"

My heart started slamming in my chest.

I got that God wants to talk to you feeling. I closed my eyes and tried to listen and I this is what I saw.

I saw an island. It was kinda black and white and so reminded me a little of Alcatraz, probably from old movie scenes. But there were many bridges that went out to the island. It appeared to me that the Spirit of God was smashing the bridges. And then I saw people getting into the water and swimming towards the island.

I asked the Lord what this meant, and this is what I believe He told me.

We put the poor, the outcasts, the sinners, the different on an island. These may be ghettos, or mental hospitals, or just the cliques we force them into. Then we build bridges to these islands. These bridges are our programs. Then make us feel in contact, they make us feel like we are doing something, like we are meeting the needs. But the fact is, they keep these people on their islands and us off. We might visit them, but we are still alienated from them. The Spirit wants to take down these bridges so that we must climb into the water, make a commitment and a sacrifice and actually live with these people. This is the way of Jesus.

the rev

And no I haven't seen the motorcycle diaries, I have been told I just described a scene from it. I look forward to seeing it now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

the song kids of the black hole by the adolescents


"Kids Of The Black Hole"

No sound is heard from unit two
When there was once so much to do
Was once a green mansion, but now it's a wasteland
Our days of wreckless fun are through


Kids in a fast lane living for today
No rules to abide by and no one to obey
Sex, drugs and fun is their only thought and care
Another swig of brew another overnight affair

House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
Kids of the black hole

Messages and slogans are the primary decor
History's recorded in a clutter on the floor
Inhabitants that searched the grounds for roaches or spare change
Another night of chaos is so easy to arrange

House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
Kids of the black hole

The nights of birthdays
The nights of fry
The nights of endless drinking
The nights of violence
The nights of noise
The nights that had to end for good, still not understood, by the girls and boys

Carefree in their actions as for morals they had none
When the girls were horny who would be the lucky ones?
Pushing all the limits to a point of no return
Trashed beyond belief to show the kids don't wanna learn

House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
House of the filthy, house not a home
House of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
Kids of the black hole

The Black Hole (the conclusion)

Well I moved in with my best friend, who is now my brother in law. My wife likes to point out that he is technically my step-brother in law. And I would pray for the kids of the black hole who were now certainly up to no good.

I heard the two brothers moved in with the gal with three little boys. Could see that ending badly. My brother was staying with a girlfriend I believe. Tri Hawk moved home and Fingers was probably just bumming sleeps around town.

It was probably about three months later I got a phone call from my brother. There had been a fire and Mohawk boy and Big Brother were trying to get ahold of me. A mattress had ignited at the house they were living with the three children, and all three of the children were in the hospital ICU, one was badly burned but stable, one could go either way, and the other wasn't expected to make it through the night. I got ahold of Mohawk Boy and Big Brother, and the mother of the boys was begging me to come to the hospital. I was the only pastor these guys had ever known. So I show up, twenty years old, with my bible under my arm, and pretend to be a minister.

I was the only person allowed in the room with the children besides mom and dad, (who for now called a truce). I prayed for the little guys as hard as I knew how. I wasn't allowed to touch them but I did my best imitation of laying on of hands, I had seen my pastor do it lots of times. And then I waited with the family, and my family. The kids of the black hole were all there, except fingers, who I think may have been in jail again. I talked seriously with the brothers, and they both asked if I would pray with them to recommit their lives to Jesus. I talked to the mother, who also asked to become a Christian. I talked to the grandparents, I talked to Mohawk Boy and Big Brothers parents. I even talked to my own brother, but he was still kinda weirded out over watching his big brother become some Jesus freak.

I stayed at the hospital for the next day and night. The child they said wouldn't make it through the night did, and the next day they said, "you can take him home tomorrow" The other two pulled through as well. I don't really know what happened to the children and their mom. I know Mohawk Boy is married and is walking with Jesus. Big Brother is now a youth pastor after years of struggling. My brothers are both Christians now. Tri Hawk is still struggling and Fingers seems to be doing pretty well.

Since then I have done three Punk Rock weddings and a few funerals. Thats where I got my nickname. The punks called me the reverend, cause I was one of their own, still one of the family, but I was also a follower of Jesus.

Seems that when we take God at His word and actually do the things that seem too extreme to be taken literally, He meets us there. Now I am not for a minute saying things will work out okay. I could have gone to jail for possesion of drugs, which I am sure must have been in my house. Maybe all of those kids could have died. Success or failure isn't the point. I met God in the Black Hole, and I imagine we all do.

the rev

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Black Hole (part 4)

Well, as you can imagine things were not always calm around our place.

Mohawk boy got his knife ring stuck into his finger and we couldn't get it off, after punching a middle aged cowboy who thought these young punks would make for some good sport. Don't even remember how we got it off. Big brother had his bi weekly paranoid sessions. Tri hawk decided to shave off his eyebrows. Fingers actually broke the only house rule, no one allowed on my bed. Not only did he break it, but he had some help breaking it! We were visited by the police a number of occasions, usually when I wasn't home. The reason was because the cops were unjustly persecuting my fair young friends. Or so they told me.

One evening there was quite an uproar down stairs and I went out with the boys to see what was up. Some young gentleman was quite upset and was trying to get in a fight with mohawk boy, which would have been a mistake. I was trying to be the peace maker. One little obnoxious punk named Richard was trying to egg it on, and I told him with the authority only a two hundred pound former wrestler could muster to, "shut the hell up", he did.

Well this angry young man kept getting more and more insulting and aggresive. Mohawk boy took off his leather jacket which was his sign that he had had enough and was gonna beat this loud mouth to a pulp. I again stepped in the middle and was trying to broker peace. Then the loudmouth started in on me. I was getting angry, and, well to tell you the truth I was quite interested in impressing everyone with my fighting abilities.

It must have shown on my face because he started jumping around, "you want some, I got some for you, I got some for you, I'll shoot your ass, I'll shoot your ass" Well I don't know if he had a gun or not, but I smiled and told him he had better leave now and that I was sure the cops are on their way. He left, but the memory of that altercation didn't. For days I relived it, only in my mind I shot a double leg, picked him up over my head, smashed him into the sidewalk and beat him till his big mouth didn't work so well. But I was young and full of testosterone back then. I wondered if the guys didn't respect me for not kicking his ass.

Another time Richard and his brother came to the house to deal out some justice. I am still not sure exactly what or why, but I think it had to do with mohawk boy spending a bit too much time with Richards brothers girlfriend and the mother of his three sons. Well there was a scuffle. A window was broken and someone was thrown through a wall. There was talk of reprisals, and I was now living in a war zone. I started to get up even earlier to pray for two hours before I went to work, and prayed all day long that my family would be safe.

We received an eviction notice soon after. The black hole was going to be closing down. I was relieved a bit, scared a bit more. My brother totalled his truck falling asleep on the freeway to work. I was chastised by my dad for not taking care of things. I felt like a twenty year old, who was fathering a group of six rebellious teenagers. I was glad it was coming to an end, but I was also profoundly sad. My following Jesus, seemed to have not made anything better. Maybe even worse. I was a failure. The black hole really wasn't ending, it just became my own emotional state. One brother went to Sacramento, the other lived on the streets for a while, the boys all went back to sleeping wherever they could.

the rev

Monday, August 08, 2005

something a good friend sent me

wanted to share this

>I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.
>As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying a well-worn sign that read, "I will work for food." My heart sank.
>I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief. We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call for some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.
>Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: "Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square."
>Then, with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the store front church, going through his sack.
>I stopped and looked, feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.
>"Looking for the pastor?" I asked.
>"Not really," he replied, "just resting."
>"Have you eaten today?"
>"Oh, I ate something early this morning."
>"Would you like to have lunch with me?"
>"Do you have some work I could do for you?"
>"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch."
>"Sure," he replied with a smile.
>As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions. Where you headed?" "St. Louis."
>"Where you from?"
>"Oh, all over; mostly Florida."
>"How long have you been walking?"
>"Fourteen years," came the reply.
>I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark, yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never Ending Story."
>Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.
>He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God
>"Nothing's been the same since," he said, "I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now."
>"Ever think of stopping?" I asked.
>"Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads."
>I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: "What's it like?"
>"To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?"
>"Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me."
>My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said, "Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in."
>I felt as if we were on holy ground. "Could you use another Bible?" I asked.
>He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've read through it 14 times," he said.
>"I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see." I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful ?Where are you headed from here?" I asked. ?Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon."
>"Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?"
>"No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next."
>He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.
>"Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from folks I meet."
>I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope."
>"Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you."
>"I know," I said, "I love you, too." "The Lord is good!"
>"Yes, He is."
>"How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked.
>"A long time," he replied
>And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile, and said, "See you in the New Jerusalem."
>"I'll be there!" was my reply.
>He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned, and said, "When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
>"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."
>"God bless." And that was the last I saw of him.
>Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.
>Then I remembered his words: "If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
>Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. "See you in the New Jerusalem," he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...

the black hole (part 3)

One of my favorite memories of the black hole was Thanksgiving. This was the first Thansgiving away from home for my brothers and I. We were used to the whole big dinner thing, with Turkey and Ham, sweet potatoes with marshmallow top, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, creamed greenbeans with crunchy onion topping, cranberry jelly with cream cheese topping, and pies. Lots and lots of pies. Pumpkin, mince, apple, cherry and pumpkin. It was always a very big deal to us. Still is for me. We had a Thansgiving dinner here in Australia with fifty of our friends turning up. I love thanksgiving.

Well this year, my brothers and I, along with our new flatmates, decided to do our own thanksgiving. We would invite any of the other punks that didn't have a place to go and we would do it right. We cooked a turkey in our over, might have been the first time we ever used it. We made sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and some chips :) We bought pies, and bread, and another Thanksgiving tradition, sparkling apple juice. It was awesome.

As I sat around the table, I was surrounded by mohowks, leather jackets, bald heads and piercings. I felt like I was one of the pilgrims having the first thanksgiving with the (politically correct alert) indiginous people of America. And I was especially pleased when they all politely bowed their heads for a prayer before we started.

I think back and realize that there is something sacred about eating with others. I realize why the early church did so much eating together. We laughed, watched football on the tele, talked about other thanksgivings. You see we were all seperated from our family, so we became one ourselves, and it was an awesome time.

I have many wonderful thanksgiving memories, but that one, probably impacted my life more than the others. I have since tried to always honor the memory of the Black Hole Thanksgiving, by inviting others to share our table.

the rev

The black hole (part 2)

There were two brothers among my brothers friends. They were an interesting pair. The youngest was one of those characters that you usually only see in the movies. He was young, charismatic, and very good looking. I know this is hard to believe, but he actually looked better with his black and white mohawk. Everywhere he went the girls all looked at him. Even the non punk rock girls, well, especially the non punk girls. He was the dream man, beautiful, and really bad. Their parents would hate him.

The older brother was a good guy. Would get very paranoid when he was up too many days. And, well he was a bit jealous of his little brother. They both boxed when they were younger, and the younger was even the better boxer. It seemed to be very hard to live in his little brothers shadow, and he had a bit of anger over the whole thing.

They both had a lot of anger over some other stuff too. See mom and dad went to a pentecostal church. And when these two would misbehave, as teenagers often do, their parents would take them to church and the elders would cast demons out of them. They preached a fire and brimstone version of pentecostal holiness at their church, and these boys bore the brunt of it. They didn't care much for the church, but did seem to understand me, a bit.

One time when the oldest had been up for about twelve days he went a little crazy. He had turned over the couch in the living room, and was hiding behind it with a pellet gun. He was screaming and shooting at anyone who tried to come in the housse. We didn't know what to do, but eventually he ran into the bedroom and locked the door. He fell asleep for a few days and life returned to normal.

Another time we were talking in the living room and I saw the older brother standing at the door watching his little brother. He seemed to be muttering to himself and getting angrier and angrier. The younger brother didn't notice him. But all of a sudden the first born starts running across the room and at full run punches mohawk boy right in the face as hard as he could. He didn't even slow down but ran right into the bedroom and locked the door. It took two of us to keep him from breaking down the door. Big brother slept for a day or two again.

Funny thing is I really loved these guys. I realised I was in a pretty intense situation, and tried to be responsible. I would wake up at 4:30am so I could pray for an hour and a half before I left for work. Then I would listen to bible tapes on the way to and from work. And listen to preachers all day on the radio at work. I had people from the church praying, I was serious.

The black hole was a scary place, sometimes a dangerous place, but it was my mission, my home and my prayer chapel.

the rev

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I Love To Dance A Little Sidestep, Now They See Me, Now They Don't

Funny how people will do anything to get around the call of Jesus to sacrifice. They bend and twist and turn, first they are literalists, then they are not. They say, the bible says what it means and means what it says. Then they explain away everything that requires them to actually leave the place of comfort, and security and venture off into the crazy world of the Spirit.

It's like trying to get someone out of the spa, when its zero degrees outside.

Well I must be honest, I am not the best at this myself. I try. I have sold most of what I owned and tried to follow, but I still like a bit of security. I want to still have a glass of wine that comes from a bottle once and a while. But atleast I am trying. Funny, the more I actually give up, the more I realise I got more in return. But not like the Copenhagen faith people tell you, I didn't get more money, I got more joy. More love. More fulfillment. You know, the stuff that doesn't really pay the rent.

Jesus preached a downwardly mobile kingdom, where the greatest is the servant of all. And He actually left all and showed us what true sacrifice and humility means. We have in turn tried to create Jesus Claus who gives you everything you want if you are good enough, have enough faith, or plant enough seed. Well guess I will just end my hypocritical rant and put my bags in the mercedes so I can go to class.

Oh, just incase you were wondering its twenty five years old, was loaned to us to use while we are here, and needs a bit of work.

the rev

I remember (the black hole part one0

I remember when I was twenty, my parents had moved up to Sacramento and I was living with two of my younger brothers in a two bedroom apartment. I had been a follower of Jesus for about a year and a half.

My brothers friends were a ragged bunch of punk rockers. They had nick names like Fingers. They were probably not the best group of friends my brothers could have chosen. They lived in the basement of an abandoned house, sold and took drugs, and stole things to pay for it. At the time I didn't realize that Jesus didn't actually mean the things he said, and figured if they needed a place to stay, and I had a place to stay it was calling to offer them a place to stay.

So now it was my two brothers, four of their friends, and myself, in a two bedroom apartment. They knew I was a Christian, they knew that was why I let them come live with us, and they tried their best to keep most of their truly immoral and illegal activities out of my eye sight.

But let me tell you, the apartment... Well it didn't smell too good. It was constantly a mess. There was always loud music, and loud people over. And to tell you the truth I did love it. I was quite fond of these punks, I was one when I was younger, and Jesus hadn't completely taken the rebeliousness out of me yet. (still hasn't actually, I am glad to say)

Well this is a long story, and I hope you will stay with me through it all, but I thought I might start by describing the place to you. When you walked in the door there was a semi large room which held our couch, our tv and our stereo. At the back of it there was a bar that seperated the lounge room from the kitchen, and off to the side of the kitchen was a dining area where we had our table and chairs. On the stove in the kitchen was a giant pot of grease, that we would occasionally replace. There was a basket that went in the grease. And the walls all had a nice slippery coating of said grease. Our refridgerator was full of chips, frozen burritos, tater tots, fish sticks and anything else you could cook in a pot of grease. We also had the cabinets filled with two minute noodles, which at ten cents a piece was the official food of homeless punk rockers. To the right was my bedroom and bathroom toilet. This was the only place of refuge for me. To the left my brothers bedroom and toilet bathroom area.

There was not much decorative, there were no cute animals with aprons on, but it was home. And I lived with my new family, in this smelly, messy, greasy two bedroom apartment, which had now earned the name...

the black hole
(to be continued)

the rev

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Prophet or Gossip?

I say this understanding that I may offend certain people and anger others, but I still think I need to say it.

John Smith is an amazing guy. He is a hero to many within the Australian church, and well should be. From all I have heard of the guy, he seems worthy of the title legend. However, at the FORGE national summit, I had a bit of a problem with the address he gave.

Let me first say that his address was perhaps one of the most inspirational, and well received of the weekend. I think I heard more comments about how moved they were by his message than any other message. This actually makes me a bit sad. Not sad that they like him, but sad that I missed it. Being involved with the planning and running of the conference I had much to do, and was forced to listen to John from the foyer, and watch on the big screen. After listening to the first thirty minutes, I simply found other things to keep me busy. If I was in the main hall I would not have walked out, but since my leaving would not upset anyone, I did leave.


Well for the first thirty minutes every other sentence was a critique on George Bush, or the American military. Those that know me well, might be laughing as they read this, as they know, I have no great love for the president, nor the current hostilities around the world. And in truth I agreed with just about everything John said. My issue was not with the content, but the purpose of the message. I have talked to other Americans there, and all three of them were a bit embarassed and offended. Again, I understand that offending people is par for the course if you are going to "tell the truth", but what was the purpose of this part of the message? There was nothing for anyone in that room to do about it! They could not vote George W out of office, they could not organize a march on the capital, they could not even call their local congresman. This message was spoken with no possible recourse.

I believe this was inappropriate. The prophets of our day must stand, and take a hard line against the corruption, immorality, and injustice of the government. And if John Smith said these things in America I would stand in the front row cheering. But to do this in Australia, was not prophetic, but gossip. It was not taking a stand, but rather taking pot shots at an easy target, that in this instance could not defend itself. This was like a profesional boxer beating up a fat overweigth sixty year old, but worse than that, it was like doing it by remote control.

Mr. Smith's comments were true, but unnecessary. They did not help his message, nor did they accomplish anything other than encouraging an anti American sentiment, which is already quite apparent atleast in Melbourne. And I for one am particularly upset, because they caused me to miss the heart of his message, which I most likely could have really used.

Now before you get too angry at me, my australian brothers, take some time to imagine the shoe on the other foot. Imagine sitting in a room full of American church planters and missionaries, and an iconic American gets up, and spends a half hour talking about how stupid, and unjust Australian policies are, bagging out the man that your country elected, and criticising the Australian military. Again, even if you agreed with what was said, it just doesn't seem right that someone else is saying it.

I remember as a kid, I was allowed to beat my little brothers. But if someone else touched them, then I got very upset. Perhaps, I am still a bit of a child.

the rev