Sunday, November 28, 2010

In memory of my friend, mentor, spiritual father Pastor John "buddy" Suitor

Not very often in life, you will come across someone that changes not only your life, but the way you look at life. If you are lucky, you will meet someone that makes you want to become a better human being. But if you are incredibly lucky, you will meet someone that not only makes you want to be better, but is so encouraging, and loving, and instructive that you actually believe you can be a better person, and have the courage to try. Buddy Suitor was that kind of man.

Bud met me when I was very young, and in that way he has, made me feel instantly at home. I wasn't a strange young man he just met, but like a distant cousin welcomed into a family. He and his own pastor Butch Pluimer, took me under their wing and trained me to be a minister of Jesus to a hurting world. Everything I learned, I learned from Buddy. It was Bud that not only taught me how to preach, but gave me my first opportunity. It was at Bud's side that I learned to comfort and pray for the sick. Buddy helped me prepare for my first funeral. He taught me how to do weddings, and was the one to marry my wife and I. He taught me to be a good husband and father, and encouraged me to be a good pastor. Probably the most important lesson in my life, I learned from bud, that people matter more than anything else. People matter more than programs, more than success, or tasks, people are important to God. Especially the people that are not important to the powers that be in this world.

If it wasn't for Buddy my wife and I would never have taken in homeless teenagers, cared for mentally ill people in our neighborhood or helped people escape the bondage of drugs or alcohol. Hosted weekly bbq's for homeless punk rockers, or breakfasts for hung over ravers. Bud started us on a journey, that has lead us to question everything, and measure it by the idea "is this good news for the poor, and marginalized".

Bud also gave me a great love and respect for the scriptures. He loved the bible, and whenever I told a story or quoted a verse he could give me its address, and vice versa. He almost memorized the whole thing. And when I would come to him for council, he would almost always tell a story straight from its pages, and it always gave me direction and encouragement.

He taught me to trust God's leading, and be in tune with the Spirit.

Bud pastored a relatively small church, in a smaller community in Southern California, but his influence is far far greater. Many of the pastors in Corona would probably call buddy their pastor, if not one of their primary counselors. Buddy worked with the police department and mayors office on a number of issues. And headed up the homeless ministries and soup kitchen in the city. In addition to this, many of the men he inspired at camps, retreats or even directly discipled like myself, are serving the Lord all over the country. So I guess that's another lesson, do not despise small things. This mans influence was huge.

I look at his passing with much sadness. I also must admit to some guilt and regret that I did not take advantage of seeing him as much as I could have, especially in the last year. I will miss him so much. But there are two things that give me hope, the one is I believe that I will see him again "though I am not planning on it being soon". The second is, that his life lives on in my heart, and in the hearts of all he touched.

I also realize two responsibilities. The first is to take better advantage of the opportunities to love and cherish the people in our life. The second is to continue on in the way Bud showed me, to be a light to the world. Jesus came not only to save us for heaven, but to save us in the now, and buddy walked out his salvation, I hope I can do it even half as well as he did.

Finally I would like to share a story, which shows what a great man Bud was:

I was a youth pastor, trying to save the youth of Corona and figured the best way was with music. So I talked to Bud and the elders of our church and got them to finance a concert featuring one of the more popular Christian rock bands of the time. I explained how I expected their money to be earned back by ticket sales, and how this was a great opportunity to minister to the kids. The elders agreed to put up the cash and the concert went on. It was an amazing night but we lost about $400 or $500 dollars. At the next elders meeting I came in very sheepishly, and embarrassed, informed them all that we had not recouped all of the money, and had lost about $400. Buddy said, "no we didn't"

"yes we did, I have all the figures right here"

"no we did not lose $400 john, we have invested $400 in the youth of this city"

Buddy, I love you, I will see you again probably before I am ready, until then I will try and live up to your example.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are you a revolutionary

The other day I was talking to a friend... okay I was arguing with a guy on Twitter. We were speaking about structures, and ecclessiology (what the church is meant to be like), and we were not agreeing on most things. He pictured me as a bit of a renegade church planter, unbound by rules and regulations, and not having to worry about lineage and legacy of an historical church. At least I think that is how he pictured me. And if he did, it is pretty correct for the most part. But anyways, we got to a certain part of the discussion and he uttered this phrase, "I am gifted and skilled in making the most of what I am given, I'm not a revolutionary"

Now my first desire was to fire back, "well thats too bad, because Jesus was" But I have actually censored myself from time to time. So I took a minute to reflect on that statement and my reaction. The truth is, I am a revolutionary. I love Che, and Malcolm X, and Gandhi, and I want to be like that when I grow up. I have lived as a revolutionary in my communities, and churches, and I generally feel like the systems should not be slowly redeemed, but burned to the ground. Lets start a fresh with some new blood, some new structure and a refusal to get in bed with the worlds systems of management and leadership. Yeah, thats me. And I have learned over the years that we tend to put our ideas onto Jesus. This is actually quite normal, though wrong.

But what about the statement, I am not a revolutionary. In the context of following Jesus, what does that mean? I wondered, and still wonder. I see Jesus as a revolutionary. In fact the more I learn about Jesus, and his historical setting, the more I see him as a revolutionary. But to the religious systems of the day, to the perceptions of God, and even towards the interaction with government even hostile government. If we aren't naturally geared towards revolution, does that mean our following Jesus is meant to be different? How does every joint supply? How can those that aren't so quick to jump into the unknown follow this crazy Jesus?

Well, I think the best thing to do is to ask, what does this pondering require of me, and my attitude... so I will leave that til last :)

First, what about him? Well, I think he needs to be willing to risk, and jump into the unknown sometimes. I think he needs to be revolutionary, when the systems and structures continue to oppress people, or keep them stupid or compliant. He has to let the radical Jesus push him out of his comfort zone.

Now me, and I need to let him be who he is. I need to allow people like him to temper my fire, and avoid injuring a bunch of people who need a more gentle plan. I need to be humble and submitted as is all of our callings. I am not always right, though I think I am. And even when I am right, I need to respect others and their paths towards the truth. I need to stop being a new emerging monastic radical discipleship pharisee.

But I don't want to, self satisfaction is quite addicting


Sunday, October 17, 2010

the radical gospel of Matthews Jesus (Jesus begins his ministry)

John is arrested, and Jesus begins his ministry

I hope you will all give it a watch and please comment. Sorry it took so long, but I was on vacation and then was having technical difficulties with my recording device.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

some thoughts

My wife and I talked quite a bit while away on vacation. It is so nice to be able to discuss things even slightly out of the fray. What is going on in our lives, what does the future hold, how do we see things going with our community? We talked about our dreams, and our hopes, we talked about our concerns. But one thing we wrestled with was the whole idea of our public persona and social media.

I tend to live very publicly, I share too freely at times, and am very open about everything. I think that is good in most ways, especially sharing my own doubts and frailties. But what about Jesus admonition to pray in secret, to do your good works in secret? What about Paul saying love doesn't parade itself? How does that effect facebook? Twitter? this blog?

Yesterday I was studying a passage of scripture with my daughters and they both pointed out how public the church seemed to function in its beginnings. Jesus also said "let your light so shine so that men will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

So what do we do? Our community has no name, no website and no formal leadership, mission statement or building. I have a blog, and post bible study videos once and a while. We have an open dinner and bible study time but don't advertise it, and are hesitant to invite people until they are in relationship with us. We could use a few more people in our community. I long for a house (preferably donated) that can serve as a house of hospitality, a community gathering place, with a garden and maybe even a small hermitage. Do I court donations and get attention? Just heard a video of Patch Adams talking about how he got famous in the hopes he could build his hospital and has spent twenty years being a celebrity and just now broke ground.

Whats the answer? How the hell should I know? We are trying to live day by day, being faithful to what we have now. Maybe I will do less online stuff, maybe more. Maybe we will do a bit more public stuff with our community, maybe we will stay as the mustard seed a bit longer before we really sprout. I just know the wrestling, the doubt, the struggle is all good, and what keeps us depending upon God and each other.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

back from vacation great time with mrs rev

moonlight tour of big sur lighthouse was amazing, was great to get away


Friday, September 17, 2010

What I am learning

Seems that I am being challenged on my dogmatism. Don't get me wrong, my dogmatism isn't the typical believe as I do or you are damned to hell type, but that has only helped me to stay proud of my own dogmatism.

It seems to me that the faith the Hebrews were challenged with, was one of paradox, and wrestling with God, and space for the working out of ideas. Somewhere along the line, the Christian church, (atleast in the West) has adopted a more "logical" way of doing faith. In other words, knowing rather than working it out. Some brilliant guy said, "the church is a place full of people and empty of questions". I think that is a stunning indictment. I have reacted quite strongly against the standard dogmas. But in doing so, I think I often have gravitated to my own dogmatism. Dogmatism about non violence, church structure, the methods of our compassion.

Now don't get me wrong, I believe these things are true. I believe I am right. What becomes the issue is the way in which I present my ideas. Do I encourage people to journey and question? Or do I pontificate?

The problem is that I have been trying to embrace this new learning and wind up really messing with others. You see the world, or at least America is so polarized right now that when I try and argue against dogma... I wind up being accused of being part of the enemies camp.

What am I talking about? I can give an example from the other day:

An atheist posted a common line on twitter that essentially comes down to, Religion has killed more people than any other thing in human history. When I pointed out that just in this last century more people were murdered in the name of communism, by Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao, than in all of the religious wars in recorded history, I was told I was spinning things. That it was standard operating procedure for right wing nut jobs to do this. Me? A right wing nut job? Oh my! I understand being called a bleeding heart liberal, though I am not. And a communist, though I probably am in a way. But a right wing nut job? All I was trying to do was throw some mystery, some question, something besides dogmatism into the twitterverse.

I guess its comforting to know that my ailment is not an uncommon one. But I hope to embrace a more thoughtful way of living.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus satan vs Jesus rnd 1

Jesus is lead by the Spirit out into the wilderness, and is tempted by the devil


Saturday, September 11, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus part 4 john baptizes Jesus

Ok, so the crazy desert prophet is visited by the one he foretold, and then together they inact the rite that initiates the kingdom please comment


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Targum for 1Cor13 1-3

If I speak in gender inclusive language, and carefully avoid all racial epithets but have not love, I am just too much cowbell

If I understand all of the socio political ramifications of the gospels, accept paradox and the relativism of communication in our post modern conversations about textual truths. If I am able to transform the powers that be so that the justice of God's kingdom reigns, but have not love, I am like one with no friends on facebook

And though I eat only organic local foods, wear only post consumer clothing, and drink fair trade coffee. Though I volunteer at the soup kitchen three nights a week, live in shared housing and provide shelter for the poor and homeless and regularly am arrested in protests for labor rights, gay inclusion and against war and globalization but have not love my portfolio is empty and my retirement is just dust in the wind

will post some of the other targums from our bible study later this week, blessings


Thursday, August 12, 2010

some work I did

Was in Boston these last few days installing this fireplace. The carved panels are Greene and Greene originals, as is the copper hood. We recreated the fireplace they went in, and shipped it to Boston where I installed it. It was fun, and hard work. Proud to be associated with such important restoration and recovery work

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus part 4 john the baptist

The crazy desert prophet that wheres camel hair, eats bugs, and yells at the religious elite

of course he is one of my favorite biblical characters. In the first part of chapter 3 we look at John, who he is, who Matthew portrays him to be, his ministry and what his location says about power, and the powers that be.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

a short video on my own thoughts on pacifism, inspired by jarrod mckenna

The ten minute format does not leave a lot of time to really go into it, but I will attempt to answer questions here, and if there is enough interest I can record a second video dealing more deeply with those less simplistic ideas.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus part 3 (the empire strikes back the finale)

Hey guys, this is the next video in our series. It covers the end of the 2nd chapter of Matthew. I didn't have time to read it, so please read it yourselves, please share these with your friends if you like them, and subscribe on Youtube


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Does Mark Driscoll want to fight?

A friend of mine asked me if I would fight Mark Driscoll in an mma match. I thought it was a funny question. I really hate much of the stuff Mark says, and I especially dislike the way he tries to make Jesus either a tattoo wearing mma fighter, or a dress wearing hippy. Rather than seeing that Jesus was actually the most amazing combination of both. The most gently, humble and non violent guy who ever lived, yet the bravest, manliest, confident guy as well.

Well I am a tattoo'd cage fighter, you think Mark would go a few rounds in the cage with me? And then maybe we could do a theological debate, where he would be able to recover his shattered manhood :)


The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus part 3 (the empire strikes back part 1)

This is the latest video, sorry it took so long. Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to share it


Saturday, May 29, 2010

here is a fixed version of last post

sorry I didn't catch that sooner. I will try and record the next teaching today, "the empire strikes back parts one and two"


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus part 2 (the sequel)

Does Isaiah really say a virgin will be with child? Why doesn't Matthew interpret Isaiah like a Hebrew wood? What does God with us mean? and what it all means to us


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Things sometimes get complicated

So there is this couple that hangs out at the local park. Well, the truth is they live there. We sometimes will talk with them when we are there and they are usually friendly. Sometimes he is not so friendly however. I have figured out that it is usually when he has had a few too many that he becomes a bit nasty.

His wife, who we all call momma, appears to have had a stroke, as she struggles to speak clearly, and has limited use of her right side. But she is always happy, and eager to say hello and have a cup of coffee with us.

But this is the thing. I have just heard that sometimes when he is drunk he beats her up. Now my first reaction quite honestly is, "if I see him lay a hand on her, I am gonna bust his head" Luckily for me, I have learned that my first reaction is usually not the one Jesus would have :) But then I think, what would Jesus do in this situation? If we stopped the violence, and then just moved on, it would continue as soon as we leave. If we call the cops and get him arrested, then a lady is all alone, and from my understanding isn't interested in being in a shelter. We don't have a room to share with her, or them right now. What do you do?

This is why I think we need the church. But not the church in its steepled, stained glass hierarchy, but in its small, communal, waiting on the Lord together kind of manifestation. Where we can wrestle with difficult situations, and listen together for the still small voice. Would love for your community to pray for ours as we strive to figure these things out.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus part 2

Here is part 2, please post your questions or comments


Thursday, May 06, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus part 1

Matthew 1:1-17 the geneology.

Let me please apologize for a mistake in the recording, which I can't easily fix as I don't have an editing program and record these straight through

When I said that the name david equaled the number fourteen that wasn't exactly correct. If you take the numerical value of d v d and add them together they equal 14.

Anyways hope to stir up some discussion


Sunday, May 02, 2010

The radical gospel of Matthew's Jesus intro

This has been a long time goal of mine, and I discussed it with my community and we came to the decision that it would be a good thing for me to do this series. They did, (knowing my tendencies towards obsession) ask that I limit my internet time. So I am very happy to get into discussions, and arguments and the like however I will need to keep my time to one hour on Thursday night and one hour on Sunday night.

ok, now I know this might be a bit boring, but just listen to this, and I promise the actual bible studies will have a bit more bite :)

intro to matthew


Tuesday, February 02, 2010