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