Saturday, December 26, 2009

christmas message

Hope you had a great holidays. I am sharing a message like I usually do, but this one is maybe not as universal in its application as I usually try to be, please forgive me.

In a Christmas story that we don't really see on Christmas cards, or in cute Christmas cartoons we see the violent reality of our world. Herod (official title: King of the Jews) is approached by astrologers from Iraq (enough to make some American Christians a bit nervous) who say they are looking for the one born the king of the Jews. An interesting note is that all of Jerusalem hears about this, and the priests actually tell the astrologers and Herod where to find the Messiah. Yet these priests and holy men don't go themselves! The upper echelon of religious power is quite often more involved in upholding their power and approval with the state than seeking true worship. But these gentile, astrologers do go to worship.

This is not my point or message though.

What happens next is the bit rarely talked about. The astrologers betray Herod and do not reveal the location of the one born king of the Jews. And the one inserted as king of the Jews makes a shocking decision. He decided to kill every child up to two years old in the region of Jesus birth. This is called the murder of the holy innocents.

The king sees in Jesus not a cute little baby in a manger. The king sees a threat to the entire power structure of his world. If this child is the king of the Jews, then what does that make him? What will his future be? What will the future of his children be? And like most power, he feels it is in the best interest of Rome, and Jerusalem to take out this new born king.

I have a few points. The first is to dispel this idea that we see brilliantly lampooned in the legend of Ricky Bobby. The cute little 8 lb 7 ounce baby Jesus in the manger. The baby born all those years ago makes us feel warm and fuzzy as most babies do. We like the idea of God loving us, and a fragile, non threatening, non demanding baby being the image of God's love. But the king understood what we may not: This is no normal baby. This baby is dangerous, revolutionary, and will upset everything. Life as usual will not be possible. But rather than trying to kill the baby, we have a new tact, we try to keep him a baby. Just forget the rest. We in all reality take the baby who is non threatening, and skip straight to the cross, where though grown up, this baby now is dying and again not threatening. God now dies for all our sins, and we can be forgiven and go to heaven. Yet we forget all the stuff in the middle, hard stuff. Stuff that really makes our kingdom of me uncomfortable. Like love your enemies, you cannot serve God and money, and forgive those that sin against you.

My second point is this, power will do whatever it takes to stay in power. In this case even the priests were willing to team up with the secular authorities to eliminate the threat to their own little place of power. Jesus tells us of a new kingdom where the king is on the bottom, where power is meant to be shared not fought for, where those that are least empowered, are exalted.

And my last point...

whether you choose to accept Jesus as Lord, or a moral teacher, or a character in a morality tale, you must deal with the ugliness of mankind, as well as the beauty of the story. This narrative does not just speak of "spiritual truths" but deals with the very essence of who we are as people. The very best of humanity, and the very worst are all represented here. And if we do not see it all, I do not think we really see any of it.

peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

got to hang out with my brother

was nice to see him. He lives in New York now, so it isn't a regular thing, but I was doing some seminars there, and we spent some time. This was at a Irish pub by Penn station. My brother is the one with the goatee that looks kinda like me. That is our friend brian, who is Irish himself. I of course am the handsome guy with the big smile :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween

props to my daughter adriahna that did the make up, and most of the sewing. I did the special effects, was lots of fun

to my catholic friend no offense meant


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Just a little quote about Biblical Scholarship

Soren kierkegaard- "the matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.

Take any words in the new testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life willl be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?

Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian Scholarship is the church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of a living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."

This is so true. It is scholarship that tells us that the rich young man was just one man and Jesus wouldn't require that of everyone, in fact it isn't even about money, but greed and love of money, and if you don't love money you can have as much as you want, in fact its good to do so. This is what allows us to basically squirm around everything in the gospels that calls us to a higher ideal, yet still allows us to claim steadfastly to the bits that we don't deal with. Like what you do with your genitals becomes hugely important, (though Jesus doesn't talk about it much), but what you do with your wallet isn't. Gee that is convenient.

Jesus modelled and taught a new kingdom, a place amidst these earthly empires, in which things would be done God's way. People that were hungry are fed, sick are cared for, the prideful are cast down, the humble are exalted, that war would be no more, and that we would learn the beauty of love. Love of neighbor, of God, and even of our enemies. But let us instead focus on a few words of belief, and then go to heaven when we die. I am much more concerned with today, and walking in the kingdom today, than I am my future death. That is comin soon enough, that worrying about it wont help, in fact will probably make it worse.


Monday, October 12, 2009

part 5 (why I believe in Jesus)

Now in the past few posts I explained subjectively why I believe in Jesus. What I will do now is explain why I think it makes sense. In order to get to why I believe in Jesus, we must first start with why I believe in a God. And I will start there with a brief, radical paraphrase of the ideas I find in Simply Christian, by NT Wright. Please read that book if you want a more indepth approach (plus he is way smarter than I)

When I look at humanity, there are a few things that stand out that do not seem to fit into the idea of biological evolutionary theory. Not to say whether evolution is wrong or right, nor refuting the idea that we also evolve socially, as that would help us to evolve biologically.

These curious things in us humans, form the basis of why I believe there is something that is more than natural going on. In no particular order:

Our appreciation of beauty. In some species we can see natural benefits to appreciating atleast colors, and such. But in human experience there is an intense love of beauty that goes far beyond anything that can be considered biologically beneficial. We can stand in awe of a sunset, or a full moon, a majestic beach, or a twisted tree fighting for survival amidst a stark landscape. We can walk for hours just staring at paintings, sit for hours listening to music or oooh and awwww over photographs. There is something about our appreciation for beauty, that I believe suggests there is something behind our humanity that is not only inteligent, but creative, and beautiful

Our desire for intimate relationship. This is not the idea of being a pack (though we have those traits), nor is it the idea of a mating relationship (though we have those traits too) but in humans we have an incredible desire to know, and be known. To become part of others, and for them to be part of us. To experience life and feel like we are not alone. We crave an answer to our loneliness, and I believe this comes from ourselve being created by the community of God. Designed for perfect relationship by the perfect relationship.

Our concept of justice. There is no logical, natural reason to believe in fair. Yet every child knows that this is, and this isn't fair. Why do we have a concept of justice? This just gets in the way of our biological imperitive doesn't it? The natural idea is, what is... is, and it is just because it is. But no matter how inteligent the philosopher or scientist, they know, deep down that some things are not fair, they are not right, and something in them cries out for justice. Where does that come from? I suggest from God, our just creator.

And our desire for spirituality. There is something in us that desires to worship, that desires to believe, to make a leap of faith. Almost every single human tribe is drawn to some form of worship, whether it is the sun, the trees, the seasons, or any variety of gods. There is something in us that desires to be more than our earthly existence. We desire more, a connection with the greater than ourselves. There is in humanity a desire for eternity, for enlightenment, for more that what is natural. And many that do not believe in God, reach out for this spirituality. They reach out for it by clinging to political, or economic ideologies, they cling to the spirituality of consumerism, of the cult of experiences or even of science itself. We are by our very nature, spiritual beings, why is that? Because we have been made that way by the spirit of creation.

My belief in the idea of a God, is confirmed by these ideas. We cannot yearn for justice, if there isn't a judge, we would not yearn for beauty if there wasn't a creator, we would not yearn for eternity if there wasn't an eternal, and we long for relationship, because we are made to be in relationship.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Part 4 (why I believe in Jesus)

The past three parts have all talked about my experiences, and this one will not be different. I might begin once again by saying that I do not look at these experiences as proof of anything, at least not to anyone but myself. However, I do believe they have put me into a mindset that makes me begin with the assumption that there is a God, that that God does relate to us in some way. This will be the last post that talks about things in a more subjective manner. After this post I will begin to talk about the logical reasons why I believe in God (to support my subjective reasons0 and why I believe in the person of Jesus as opposed to all of the other faith choices. That will take some time. And I will end with my defense against some of the critiques against theism, and Christianity in general.

So, in quick summation: I had a weak theistic upbringing, with a significant but not compelling experience during my youth. Then I had a very significant experience of community, and a sensual drawing towards a commitment to Jesus and God, to which I made a leap of faith, and was met with what felt like an agreeable internal reaction.

Then I began to do the stuff you are supposed to do as a Christian, (atleast the stuff I had imagined, or was being taught). I read the bible, I prayed, I went to church, and I preached to others. I stopped doing a lot of the "bad things" I did before, basically partying and sex, and other selfish acts, and tried to be a better person. As I did these things, I felt more and more peace in my mind. I felt a better awareness of who I was, and who I was meant to be. I experienced a deeper care for other people, and I began to feel like I was physically and mentally closer to what I had come to determine was the spiritual center (God) of my experience.

As I tried to do what the bible seemed to teach, it seemed true to me. As I began to look at the teachings, and actions of Jesus, it made more and more sense. I also began to read books that helped me look at the defenses of the faith, and the bible, but I will talk about those later. I felt like God had reached out to me, I felt like I had touched a part of the Spirit, and I knew my life was being altered, I subjectively assume that this was from outside influence, and not just church culture, as I can tell you, the further I go in this journey the less the church in general supports the direction I am going.

Which leads us to some other experiences. Again let me point out that I do not expect you to take these things as proof, they didn't happen to you, they are not repeatable, nor verifiable, but they are my experiences. As they are my experiences, I believe it would be intelectually dishonest to deny them.

I began to be a part of many things, that could be called miraculous, or supernatural. I do not talk about them often, and some I will only tell certain people. The proliferation of people like Benny Hinn, and Robert Tilton have made me more and more committed to allowing these things to stay quiet. I have seen first hand, significant healings, food multiplied, and words of knowledge (knowing things you have no way of knowing). I have experienced spiritual attack (yes demons). And the most significant is seeming to have wisdom that just "comes to me" when it is needed. I do not want to dwell on these things, and they are very sacred to me, so please lets keep any discussion respectful and not too prying.

In my life I feel like I have actually heard God's voice outloud a couple of times, but feel like I hear God's voice often in subtle whispers in my mind, through the pages of scripture, in dreams, and through loved ones. One particular story I will share with you, it isn't a really big deal, but it was a big deal to me:

A woman who was a devout Christian was at my school's wrestling meet to watch her son. He was on the Junior Varsity team, and of course she stayed to watch the varsity team as well, which I was on. When she saw me, she immediately felt like God spoke to her saying, "this one I have set aside for the ministry" After the meet she tried to get to me to tell me what she had heard. But for whatever reason, she was not able to reach me. She asked her son on the way home if I was a Christian, and he told her he didn't think so. The truth was if she would have told me, I would have thought she was a looney (as some of you probably do right now).

Probably three or four years later I was going to church, was in training to become a minister, but was having some doubts. I was wondering if I was not qualified, and was actually having a bit of a crisis of faith, not doubting God, but wondering about myself, my life, and my place in the church. I visited a big mega church that seated about 3,000 people, on a Sunday night. The woman just happend to go that Sunday night to take her daughter and a few of her friends (she usually didn't go, like myself) and wound up seated directly behind me. When the service was over she asked if I was Jensen (she didn't even know my first name) I said yes, and she told me what she had heard, all those years earlier. This was so moving and important to me, as I was praying hard for God to help me, and lead me. There are just too many co-incedences in that story for me to discount it, and as I heard someone else say, "when I stop praying, the co-incedences stop happening).

When people ask why I believe in God, and specifically Jesus, my first answer is, "because I have found God, and Jesus, interacting within my life. I cannot deny these experiences, so I start there, but..."

The but leads us into the next section, reasons why my experiences make sense to me, and why I believe they are the rational outworkings of what is truth.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

my succulents

these are my arrangements, three succulent arrangements and one miniature zen garden

Saturday, September 26, 2009

so, finally part 3

Sorry it took so long, had a hard week in more ways than one.

So far all we have is a very weak cultural religion that was passed on by my family, and one experience. Not much to build a world view on there. But if you asked me back then if I believed in God, I would have said yes, and if I believed in Jesus I would have said yes. But if you asked if I cared, I would have said no. I think if anyone really tested me at this point, it all would have fallen apart, because it was based on very little.

So then my mother started going to a different kind of church. This church was what I call a popcorn pentecostal church. Because through out the service people just pop up, and "give their testimony". To be honest I thought it was all a bit weird, but Catholic church wasn't exactly normal, so...

I would go once and a while to make my mom happy. At this time I also started Portuguese bullfighting, which is pretty nuts as the picture shows. So I would ask for prayers as a superstitious kind of belief. Never really thought they did much, but they couldn't hurt right? Well I got smashed up pretty good lots of times, but never anything really serious, but didn't attribute that to the church or God at all.

Then, as often happens some very attractive girl showed up at church, and she had a really scratchy voice that I found very appealing as well (found out later she had vocal nodules from singing too much and that cleared up). Well, I decided to hang around a bit more, and try to hook up with said young lady. Eventually I decided I had done enough prep work and asked her out, and she said yes. She was from a sister church, and I didn't know her, or any of the others from her church, but when she invited me to go to a New Years eve party on our second date, at her sister's house.

Well, I had never been to a Christian New Years party, was expecting much boringness, and I wasn't disappointed at first. No alcohol, or other more potent party fuel, soft crappy Christian music, and a whole house full of Ned Flanders (before there was a Ned of course). But a strange thing happened as I hung around, these people seemed to have a very intense, and palpable love for each other that was more than I had seen before. Now remember, I was part of a group of men that actually risked our very lives for each other, so I understood close community, but this was different. And what was more, they seemed to welcome me into this family for no other reason, than I was there. I began to want to be more like those people.

Then at midnight, everyone got in a circle and took turns sharing what God had done in their lives the preceeding year. So about thirty individuals, one by one, declared first hand experience with their God. There were answered prayers, there were deep life lessons, there was comfort in the midst of tragedy. It was very moving. But combined with the community love, it was overwhelming to me. I also felt, as best as I can describe, this internal belief that I was made in my very core, for this. To live in love, and community. I felt an inner witness, that felt like a drawing voice (didn't hear anything, just trying to explain it). I wanted what these people had, and they sure believed it was God, and I was willing to make a leap.

I will point out, it was a leap of faith. There was external factors, and I believe they were, at least subjectively, compelling, but nothing approaching evidence. I took a dive based on faith, but I felt myself land into loving arms. I felt like I really met God at this point.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why part 2

Please understand that I am trying to be totally honest here. I am also being completely subjective. This is not a presentations of facts, and logical insights that lead to certain understanding. I am not following an evidence that demands a verdict style of presentation. Rather I am telling my story, I am trying to do so honestly, and trying not to edit myself for effect.

With this in mind, I do not expect to convince anyone, but rather to explain myself. This is not an exercise in debate, or argument, but rather one of revelation. There are some things I will not talk about in depth, this is because I have a huge amount of respect for them, and will not subject them to public scrutiny or ridicule, I hope you can understand that.

So lets start with my beginnings. I grew up in a very marginally catholic home. My dad was more of a deist, he believed that there must be some kind of creator, but that this being whatever it was was both unknowable, and disinterested in its creation. My mother was a very strong believing catholic, but did not practice regularly for most of her life. I went to catechism, made first communion, and later went to Catholic school in Jr High and High School.

When I was very young, 10 or 11 years old the charismatic movement was effecting the catholic church that I was associated with. This belief was that the Holy Spirit, (the spiritual influencing part of the community of God) was active in our lives, allowing us to understand God's voice, and even doing miracles. It was very emotional, and of course this emotion was believed to be evidence of God's presence in our midst, which is how I took it as well.

During one meeting they left a mic turned on at the front of the church and asked people to come up if they believed God had given them a message for the church. I believed, and still believed that certain words came into my head that were not my own. I didn't hear a voice, but more realized a few sentences. So I walked up and said what I thought was God's message. I was told later that my voice sounded different, and a number of different things, but at the time I just felt like I had responded to God. I did not stay in the church for much longer. I began to drift further and further away, and though I did believe in God (and Jesus, as this is how I was raised to understand God) it had nothing to do with the day to day living of my life. I went to church once and a while, or when I had to, but there was no real faith in my life.

I learned a lot in school, they were actually quite forthright about church history, and gave the ugly side of things as well as the nice. But my cultural bias towards Christianity was actually quite small, but it was prevailing. The experience with the charismatic prophecy or whatever you want to call it, was the only personal experience I had until I was 18 and it wasn't enough to hold me.

I will continue, this is a long process, so please be patient

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I am a believer in Jesus

I have been asked many times by my atheist friends why I believe in Jesus, or God in general. The question is usually unintentionally pretty aggressive. It often goes something like this, "john, you seem like a fairly intelligent guy, and you aren't brain washed, how can you believe in God?"

Well, this might take some time. So sit back and relax, I will tackle this issue over a few weeks most likely. In doing so I will borrow or steal from NT Wright, Alvin Plantinga, CS Lewis, and probably a few others that I just can't remember. I most likely won't deal with questions in the comment section, unless they are about clarifying what I already said. If I don't answer you, it is because I am scared of your question and buried my head in the sand...

or I will be addressing it in later posts.

I will do this in this order:

The subjective reasons that I personally have come to this belief

The less subjective reasons why I think that a belief in God is reasonable

The less subjective reasons why I believe that Jesus, and Christianity is the most correct path of many

The less subjective reasons why I do not believe in a godless abiogenesis

And how I deal with some tough questions about the nature of evil, difficult bible passages, and biblical interpretation

I will most likely begin the first part tomorrow morning


Atheist church (I was guest speaker)

My brother does an atheist church every week, he asked me to be his guest speaker last week, hope you enjoy, and pardon my potty mouth

part one

part two

Monday, August 17, 2009

The beatitudes and salt and light

So tonight we once again talked about how we are putting the beatitudes into practice in our lives. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, those that hunger and thirst for justice, the pure in heart, the merciful, the peacemakers, those that are persecuted for justice sake. Each of us shared about how we tried to live one of these out over the week previous. But we also talked about the very next set of verses in Jesus sermon on the mount (matthew chapters 5-7 in the bible)

These next few verses may be familiar to you. You are the salt of the earth, and you are the light of the world. See, in Jesus the kingdom of God has come, has begun. His disciples are called to walk in this kingdom community, and the beatitudes begin to show how radically different this is to what they see in the world, and even what they expect from the Messiah. It is not the powerful that are blessed by God, but the meek. It is not the rich that are blessed by God, but the poor. It is not those that have all the justice they could desire but those that are actually suffering injustice and longing for it. Jesus turns the world upside down. And then explains how this will effect the world.

Contrary to many of our Christian domination ideas, Jesus says that we will be a flavor and preservative for the world. We will not force them to live right, but we will give them a taste of something different, and we will keep the world from getting spoiled, just by our being in it.

And again, we are not to hide away and practice our kingdom outside of the world, or more currently, to create our own "Christian" version of culture that we hide out in. But instead, we become a light in darkness. Matthew calls us to not try and influence from the top, but instead to influence from the margins. To be a light in darkness.

So as we walk out these radical new ways of being, we become that which give the world a taste of heaven, that preserves the world for heaven, and that shines a light, that calls people out of darkness. This is how the kingdom is meant to influence, from a position of love, and service, not from a position of power


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Something I have been thinking about

If you look at the way Jesus starts his ministry in the three synoptic gospels this is what you find:

Matthew 4:23 (New International Version)

Jesus Heals the Sick
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Mark 1:14 (New International Version)

The Calling of the First Disciples
14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

Luke 4:14-20 (New International Version)

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."a]">[a]

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,

So Jesus starts his ministry in all three of these gospels with a declaration of the kingdom of God, or what that means. Though each author is writing to a different group of people, this is what they see as the important part of Jesus ministry, and its beginning. He begins his ministry by explaining that a new way of life is begun in His life. That this new way of living is the rulership of God. That that this new empire of God, is begun in Him, (yet we know that it is also going to be completed in His return).


in John, the beginning of Jesus' signs (which John later tells us have special significance and will lead us to understand who Jesus is, and how we have life through him), is His actions at the Wedding at Cana. Here He turns water, set aside for ritual cleansing, into wine for the wedding party. Now there is so much in that. Jesus making huge amounts of high quality wine for a party where they already drank too much! The symbolism of taking ritual, and transforming it into a party! and much more.

However, if you look at things from an an end times or metaphorical way, you can see another interesting thing. Jesus starts his ministry by taking part in the celebration at a wedding feast. Now we often hear about the "great wedding feast" when Jesus and the church, finally get to be together, and the wonder of the fulfillment of history. But his first "sign" in John is becoming involved in a wedding ceremony and reception.

So lets put that with the other three gospels. Jesus starts his ministry in the three synoptic gospels talking about the beginning of something that we are to participate in, that will be fulfilled in its entirety, in the future. Now, and not yet. But in John, Jesus performs a sign at a wedding, that "begins" a party, that I believe symbolically, is the start of something that will be finished in the end times with the great marriage feast, the culmination of the kingdom.

This of course is just another layer of scripture, not more or less important from more literal truths, just something I have been thinking about. What is the application? I guess just the acknowledgment that all four gospels tell us of a way of living, initiated in Jesus, that we are invited to take part in, while waiting its fulfillment. I guess in Johns gospel we just see the celebration of it all, and are welcomed to the party


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

today is my birthday

Got my tattoo on my forearm finished as a birthday present, woo hoo

Friday, May 22, 2009

mans best friend

my little man has been very concerned for me, as I have been sick.

dogs rule

cats suck

that is all


Thursday, April 30, 2009

"who's this faggot"

Sorry if I offend anyone with that title, its just a quote. Said about me.

I was asked to come talk to a few classes at a local high school about my experience as a fighter. These classes were with young people that were in danger of not continuing their high school experience. They were not too impressed with me.

It is always interesting to see how people react to what you have to say. In this instance I assumed I would not have a very interested or attentive audience. But the difference from class to class was weird. I told the same stories to each group, two of the groups seemed to be interested a bit, and two were really hard.

I talked about how hard you have to work to get ready for a fight, and then explained that if you want to do what you want, rather than what you have to, it usually takes more work. But in the end its worth it.

The last class I was waiting in the room for the period to start and one of the students said, "who's this faggot". Now, I could have explained that I was in fact a hetero sexual man. I could have explained that his language was very offensive, and not politically correct. I could have told him that I was not a bundle of wood, or a cigarette. Or I could have walked over and got in his face saying, "who you calling a faggot you little piece of shit?" But instead I acted like I didn't hear.

I would like to say however, that I really appreciated the effort and work the teachers put in. They get disrespected constantly, they are not listened to much at all, and none of the students appear to appreciate them at all. But they work very hard, above and beyond to care for those that most people have already given up on. That sounds like Jesus to me.


Monday, April 27, 2009

scary guy

so I am at the art theater in Long Beach, which is in a fairly hip neighborhood, but like most hip neighborhoods its also not far from the ghetto. The wife and I were just going for a little bike ride. But we stopped in at the coffee annex there to get a drink. One of the owners, (who has always been very friendly and warm to me) invites me to come inside for a bite to eat.

Apparently there is a special party for mom's or something, because there is a lot of kids, and momma aged women, along with balloons and what not. The owner ducks behind a door for a second, and a young woman, from the right side of the tracks turns around and sees me. Well I hadn't shaved in a few days, I am 6'2" and about 235lbs right now. I have quite a few tattoo's, and my head is shaved. She got the most amazing look of shock, disgust and fear all mixed into one that I had ever seen. I just smiled.

I received my corn dog, (I am sure the lady now believed I was homeless and receiving charity), and was on my way. Glad I work on the wrong side of the tracks.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just started a couple of new books

The first one was given to me by my boss its called "in defense of food" the subtitle is eat food, not too much, mostly plants. So far it is a great read. It's about the rise of "nutritionism" and how the economics of food have created a situation that is both unhealthy for our bodies, and our minds and culture. So far the most notable thing I have read is about a government study on cancer showed that eating less red meat was helpful at avoiding cancer, but the official statement was changed to: avoiding foods with high saturated fats is helpful for avoiding cancer. Which some of the scientists objected to because it wasn't the nutrients but the whole foods.

The second is kingdom ethics which studies the ethics of the sermon on the mount.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

what does "church" mean?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was visiting from Australia. His name is Dave Andrews, and he has been a huge influence on me, and my ministry for many many years now. During a discussion he was part of he gave a definition of what the church is that I really liked, now I will most likely get this a little bit wrong, but the jist of it was:

the church is a group of people committed to helping each other detox from their addictions to the ways of the world

I wish church was more about people being committed to each other. More about being serious about breaking free from a lifestyle that is oppressive both to ourselves and others. Dealing with our addictions to power, money and stuff. And learning to live in a healthy, sustainable, and loving way that is by its very nature an indictment on our culture.


Monday, April 20, 2009

living divided

today my daughter had to say goodbye to her best friend...


Kristy came out from Melbourne to visit, and was with us a couple of weeks. We have had other visitors as well. One of my closest friends Chris came out for Thanksgiving. Sharon, another of our closest friends is still here, but stayed a number of days with her two boys. The funny thing is, it feels so natural when they are here. They are our family.

Its part of doing life like we do. The family is extended to include others. You eat together, work together, pray together, cry and struggle together, and become family. But today we said goodbye to Kristy, she is going back home, and our family is broken up again. I had to watch my daughter and our "adopted" daughter cry, and cry. As I type this I cry a bit too.

Sometimes I think about saying goodbye to Chris and Mike at the airport a year ago, and I start crying again. Or Andy talking at our goodbye party. Or sitting talking to Dan, or Anthony, or Phil. Playing cricket with Marcus, and Chris. Talking theology with Mark. Playing in the back yard with the stevens family. All the gang at dominance. The Cave, the most amazing ministry thing we have ever been a part of. We are living divided. Half of us is in Melbourne and half here in Long Beach.

It is really hard, but I know it was right.


work, my boss, and ministry

Some of you may not know, but one of the things we have believed strongly in is working a "real job" instead of getting payed for being a minister. In Australia we had no choice due to our visa restrictions, and to be honest, it was pretty cool, except for the begging involved. But we really like the idea of working a part time job, and not relying on the church for support. A few reasons for this:

Its hard to say difficult things when your groceries are on the line

the church money could better be spent on the poor and neighborhood issues

nothing sets up the clergy laity distinction like having some pros and some amateurs

its hard to relate to your neighbors when you are paid to be their friend

But that is an aside, I have been working construction again. And my boss, is an amazing man. I just wanted to mention him briefly. He once told me he is a non practicing agnostic, but I think he is a deeply spiritual man. He allows me to work out my own schedule, though he often would prefer I work more than the thirty hours a week I am working. He tries to recycle as much from his job sites as possible, giving some to habitat for humanity, cutting up wood for fire wood, and even saving copper from wires. Just the other day an electrician pointed out that he would learn the hard way that recycling just wasnt worth the time and didn't bring in much money. He doesn't understand my boss. My boss knows he is losing money on the recycling, but as he says, "we are making the world a better place"

I am very fortunate to work for such a man, and I admire him greatly. And if you do happen to read this my friend, I am not sucking up...

but a raise would be nice :)


Sunday, April 19, 2009

a panhandler

He either is incredibly clever, or has some serious mental issues. He stands often on the corner of 7th and PCH, and is usually in a warm jacket no matter how hot it is. His hair is dreaded, and not in a stylish way, he is unshaven, and usually quite dirty. He never seems to look directly at you. And has card board signs never really make sense. Last week he had one that said "nothing wrong".

I have given him some change once and a while, but at the light there isn't much time to chat. Today I ran into him by the 7-11 where I was buying some beer to go with dinner. As I walked out he asked a lady if she could get him a small bottle of milk, she hurried past him as far away as possible, and said, "I don't have any change"

Of course, he didn't ask for change, he asked for some milk. But she didn't listen to him, of course I understand why. He scared her, he was dirty, homeless, probably crazy, maybe on drugs, and who knows what those kind of people can do. But the fact is, she didn't even see him, or hear him. He is a person, who communicated a very basic need.

I bought him some milk, said hello, looked him in the eye. Nothing saintly about that. In fact something incredibly human about it.


writing more?

Went to a poetry reading tonight by one of my friends. His goes by rain dog armstrong, and his poetry was raw, and beautiful, and funny and urgent. If you are interested in some of his stuff you can look at I really enjoyed the reading.

But it got me thinking, I really should be writing more. I do write some poetry, but its not my real love. I like short stories both fictional and exagerational. I am in the midst of writing a book about spiritual warfare using my fight training as an analogy, or metaphor, not sure which. But the truth is, I am just not writing much. Then I thought, maybe I should start writing on my blog more. I was also thinking of putting up some videos.

But then I felt weird about it. I mean, aren't I just trying to get some kind of notoriety? Or maybe some kind of external validation? If I need to write to vent, or to express myself, why should I do it on the world wide web? Do I really think everyone gives a shit about what I have to say?

I just don't know. I am going to write more, for now, and then I will probably stop. That is just the way I am, sorry if that bothers you.

please love me


Sunday, April 12, 2009

resurrection, revolution, redemption

Hello friends,

This is my annual resurrection Sunday thread, yes I know there is a holyground, no I don't care. If you don't want to read about Jesus, please just click on another thread. If you are a believer I hope I might suggest a different way of looking at today's celebration, if you are not a believer, I hope to give you some food for thought, and perhaps a way to engage with the holiday anyways.

In the Western world of Christianity we have tended to put a lot of emphasis upon the crucifixion. I would say above the emphasis on the resurrection. The idea being that Jesus died for our sins, and with that redemptive act, he was punished for our sins, so we would not be "saved". But in the Eastern world of Christianity we see an equal emphasis on the resurrection or maybe even a greater one. And just for today I would like you to join me in looking at that idea.

You see, during the time of Jesus there were many Christ's, or messiahs. This time of Roman occupation was very hard for the Jewish people and they believed very strongly that Messiah would come, and destroy the Romans, and bring back the sovereignty of Israel, and the kingdom of God would begin. Many people imagined they were called to be this Messiah, and they would begin to lead a revolt against the Romans, believing that as they took military steps against their great oppressors God would miraculously join them in their revolt and overthrow the government. Jesus (Yashua) Bar Abbas, (the revolutionary that we call Barrabbas in the gospel stories) was one such man, but there were many others.

The thing is, all of these messiahs wound up in the same place, executed for treason, often on a cross. When Jesus bar Joseph, (jesus the son of joseph), was identified as the messiah, it was believed he would be the true messiah and restore the kingdom to Israel. However, much to the anguish and crushing despair of his followers, he too wound up upon a Roman cross. He would have been just another failed messiah.

But a few days later, we read that Jesus did not stay in the grave. That he was resurrected. And in this belief, he was not just another failed messiah, but the beginning of a revolution, that would in fact rattle the very chains of Rome's hold upon the Jews.

Now, if you do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead (as I most assuredly do) or even that Jesus never did any of the miracles that are attributed to him, or maybe even don't believe that Jesus even lived as an actual person, I would still like to invite you to follow me here, looking at Jesus as a mythological archtype (though again I believe He lived, and was infact who he said he was).

Jesus came from the wrong side of the tracks, hung out with losers, whores, radicals and the outsiders, and stood amidst the government of Rome and the leaders of the Jewish religion, and declared himself the beginning of the kingdom of God. He called the Jewish people to forsake their military dreams of revolution, and called for a kingdom where the poor were esteemed, the sick were the chosen, the disempowered ruled and the leaders were the servants. He called for a non violent opposition to injustice, and embraced all with a love that was pure, and without measure. He called us to treat everyone as we would want ourselves to be treated, and said not to return evil for evil, but good for evil. He said the kingdom of God wasn't to come, but was right here and now as we lived by these upside down values. And in doing so he drew the wrath of the powers of the day, both civil and religious.

So this man standing for peace and love gets in the way. And is murdered for it. The powers that be, come down upon him with all of their vengeance, hatred, racism, violence, shame all poured onto him. And he accepts it all. The powers that be, use all of their weapons to break this man, and he basically takes every blow, and when they have exhausted even their greatest weapon, death itself, leaving him waiting for the end, he conquers it all with love. He says, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing". Violence, and hatred are conquered by love.

But then, even if it is only mythical, the story continues. Jesus comes to life again. Not only are all the weapons of the powers beaten by love, but they are completely overwhelmed by the resurrection. That in giving his life, Jesus destroys the hold of the powers, and calls us all to follow him. We do not march to our deaths in finality, but in our deaths new, resurrection, life begins. This is truly revolution. Again, if even just a myth, the story says even in death, you live on inspiring others, becoming a seed that grows into more truth, and freedom.

Jesus rises again, Jesus rises above, Jesus gives us hope for a new world. That nothing can stop us, not even a cross, a bullet, a hang man's noose, or the slow passing of old age.

In my life, I can face the cross, I can face the powers, I can face the personal inconveniences and sufferings, because I know that in the end, it all pales in comparison to the kingdom, and the victory of that kingdom. Life is meant to be lived in the freedom and victory of the resurrection. Death has lost its sting, I live life not awaiting my end, but in defiance of it. I am called to follow Jesus in loving with abandon, standing for justice, and taking joy in this magnificent creation.

This day we reflect on the idea that the end, was merely the beginning, all of our pain and suffering and even our deaths are redeemed and the revolution begins anew. viva la revolution


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Free Event in Long Beach!!!

Two of my main inspirations will be leading a discussion on the radical Plan of Jesus.

Plan "Be" calls us to be the change we want to see in the world.

Dave Andrews, activist, anarchist and author or the books: Christianarchy, Not Religion but Love, and Plan Be, has been living in radical communities for over forty years. Working in community development, advocacy for marginalized people, intentional community life, and a deep understanding of the principles of Power with, rather than power over, Dave has lead courses twice a year for those seeking to understand the principles of Christianarchy at work in the Waiters Union community.

Ched Myers is an activist, and author of such books as "Binding the Strongman" and "Who Will Roll Away the Stone" and has been one of the leading inspirations of the radical discipleship movement. His incredible biblical scholarship has challenged many people to become followers, as well as believers of Christ.

please come join us for some coffee and stimulating conversation


Host: John Jensen
Portfolio Coffeehouse
2300 E. 4th St at Junipero
Long Beach, CA 90804 US
View Map
When: Tuesday, March 17, 7:30PM
Phone: 562-786-2687

Monday, February 09, 2009

A parable

There was once a very wealthy man with a large family of sons and daughters. He loved all of them very much, but was forced to leave them for a time to create a place for them to live in another country, which had more room and resources. He was very sad that some of his children would not remember him as they were very young, but he wrote them and hoped they would retain an idea of his love for them.

After a long time his children had grown older and became separated from each other. They had their own families, and many responsibilities, many forgot about their father, though he was still preparing a new place for all of his children and grand children.

Before the father had left he had prepared a steady supply of money, and food for all of his children. He had determined that the older ones would share with the younger, and that there would be enough for all, no matter how long his business took. But some of the children decided that they were not happy with their portion, and took more than enough for themselves. And that meant some did not have enough, and went hungry. Some did not have proper homes or clothes.

A group of the children with more than their share began to reread their fathers letters, and rejoiced in his love for them. They loved how he said they could trust him. They loved that he would take care of them, and their needs. They began to thank him and sing songs about how great father was to take such wonderful care of them.

The children without clothes and food heard these songs, and wondered why father did not care for them in the same way. Some of them determined that father did not love them, others believed they must have been bad children deserving punishment, and others began to hate father,

to hate him because of those songs


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pacific Clinics

I have spent most of the last three months working at Pacific Clinics in California.

Not sure what all of the Pacific Clinics do, but this one did a lot of work with people trying to stay off drugs and alcohol. They work with some people that may be a bit on the fringe of society. I remember one day almost running into one of the biggest, scariest looking men I have ever seen. Atleast six foot seven, well over three hundred lbs. Covered in tattoo's that were definitely gang related. I smiled looked him in the eye and said hello. I think he wanted to kill me :)

But what I was amazingly impressed with was the people that worked here. The three amazing girls working reception, the site manager, and all of the doctors were just wonderful. They not only treated the clients with respect and dignity, but also did so with me, a disgusting construction worker that often wasn't getting the job done as quickly as they had hoped.

After all that time I am actually sad I won't be around them anymore. As some of you know, it is to these people outside of the mainstream that my family and I have given our lives to. We try and provide community and love for those that seem to be considered the least in this world. But in this place, it seemed like a whole bunch of people did the same thing, and not just for cash, but because it was good, and just, and right. They reminded me a bit of Jesus, and that made me smile.


Was very angry with Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel Founder)

Now let me start by saying that I love Chuck Smith. The guy is a living legend, and example of God's love. For those of you who don't know, Chuck Smith is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa California. He was one of the people that really embraced the Jesus movement, allowed rock music in the church, and by loving and encouraging young people to radical faith wound up overseeing one of the biggest churches in America, as well has inspiring the planting of literally hundreds of other churches. Many of the Calvary affiliated churches now are some of the most recognized churches in the country.

But more than that, Chuck always seemed the voice of God's love and grace. Whenever I listened to him, I felt the love of the Father. Maybe a myth, but I heard that after they installed new carpet in the sanctuary of Calvary Chapel one of the elders put up a sign "no bare feet" in order to protect the carpet. Chuck took the sign down, threw it at the elders and said, I will tear the carpet out before I stop one person from coming in to this church. That seems true to me, as that was the kind of guy I have always thought him to be.

So what made me so mad? Well almost every week day Chuck hosts a show called pastors perspective, which is a call in show where people can ask questions. But last week he had a special guest, one of the generals from Israels army. What we heard for almost an entire hour was pro Israeli propaganda (now I for one actually believe that the Israeli propaganda is probably a slight bit closer to the truth than the palestinian propaganda, but that is besides the point). Now that bugged me, but whatever. When I lost my mind was when Chuck Smith said, "if I was in charge in Israel, for every bomb Hamas sent into Israel, I would send ten missles into gaza targeting their government buildings! its the only thing those people will understand" Now in case you think I might have misunderstood, I didn't, they continued to joke about that with the general saying he wished Chuck was in charge, and all three of the host urging Americans to support Israel and their show of defensive aggression.

Return ten to one, it is the only thing "those people" will understand!!!

What the hell is that? I must admit I started screaming at my radio. Now as a nation, we are just as guilty as Israel, or Hamas for that matter, but a Christian leader saying that!!! How can a follower of Jesus say such things? Jesus, the one we are supposed to be following, the one who's commandments we are supposed to keep said:

"do not return evil for evil, but good for evil"

"If a man strike you on the right cheek, turn to him your left"

"love your enemies and do good to those who hate you"

"those that live by the sword will die by the sword"

"blessed are the merciful"

"blessed are the peace makers"

and I could go on and on. When will we stand up against this completely antichrist teaching of redemptive violence? When will we as the church begin to live out the mandate to be followers of Jesus, willing to die for our love of others, but not to kill for it? When will we realize the truth of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speach that said, "darkness cannot cast out darkness, only light can do that, hate cannot cast out hate, only love can do that"

Chuck, I love you my brother, but boy were you wrong on this one.