Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Park this morning

I don't like to write about the park, this may be the first time I have done so. Our faith community goes to the park on Sunday morning and shares our breakfast with a number of people that live in the park, or on the bluffs by the beach. Usually we sit for an hour or so with our friends, and we eat some egg burritos and hash browns, and enjoy some coffee and conversation. It is often uneventful, and predictable. We hear the same stories usually, the latino blokes are still looking for, and not finding work, those struggling with addictions to drugs or alcohol tell us of their run ins with cops or stories of panhandling, and usually we just have a quiet time.

This morning was a bit different. It started with a few new people that I hadn't met before, and that is always nice. And then a regular from day one, (almost two years ago) Dave showed up, but he moved far away when another gal showed up. They have been having tension lately. She started berating him about his hygiene, and he was telling me how sick of it he was. So I stood off to the side, with a man basically killing himself with alcohol, explaining to him that this woman actually harasses him because she cares for him. I don't think he understood, but just found that someone who was his friend, has now just become like everyone else looking down on him. I told him I would try and find him some clean pants, and he went to sit somewhere else.

Then someone else who we have never seen before came up, and was a bit of a jerk. But hey, being homeless, and addicted is not fun, and I get being grumpy. He was pissed off that the coffee was gone, but there was nothing I could do about that. As he walked away, he threw his burrito wrapper on the floor. I called to him, "hey bro, pick that up, you can't throw the wrappers on the floor" He pointed towards other trash in the park, and I said, "but that isn't ours, if you litter the cops can make us stop coming" and told me to F off and walked away "Well don't come back then til you learn to respect the breakfast" I received another F off as I was picking up his wrapper. He then reached into the trash can near him and threw trash onto the ground. I started walking towards him.

He turned and squared himself aggressively, "What are you gonna do?"

Now I am not gonna lie, I wanted to smack him around a bit. Some skinny tweeker living in the park is gonna step up to me? Do you know who I am? The inner violence really was burning, but instead I answered, "I am going to pick up after you" And I did. But as I walked back to the table I was shaking. Everyone said, to take a deep breath, "man, I got a little too much violence in me still" They asked what I said, and I told them, and we all had a good laugh. They said that guy was new to the park, and they would clue him in.

And then another of the alcoholics showed up. I hadn't seen him in months. He had been diagnosed with melanoma and looked bad. He told us that he was no longer in remission and had been at the hospital for 21 days. Apparently he left the hospital because they said he was refusing to follow hospital directions. His new doctor wouldn't let him go outside and have a smoke, and when he went anyways they discharged him. I guess they figured it was tough love but give me a break. They guy has cancer all over his body, he drinks all day long, he is homeless, his teeth are rotting out of his head, and you think quitting smoking is gonna help him? I talked to him for about fifteen minutes, then gave him a hardy handshake. Said good bye to everyone and headed home.

I encountered Jesus today, in various forms. One was very hard for me to love, I need God's love, as my own is just not good enough. God loves us not because we deserve it, but because it is his nature to love. Depending upon Christ, is depending upon that love, and hopefully I can learn to do that more and more, and destroy the violence that is in my heart.

Pray for my friends


Friday, July 29, 2011

When I was younger

At 10 years of age I wanted to play defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, and Randy White was my hero

At 13 I wanted to be a rock star, and Gene Simmons of Kiss was my hero

At 16 I wanted to die in the arena as a Portuguese bullfighter, and my heroes were Juan Belmonte and Carlos Arruza

At 20 I wanted to preach to thousands in stadiums around the world and my heroes were Billy Graham and Chuck Smith

At 25 I wanted to have a huge church made up of thousands of cell churches and my hero was Yongi Cho

At 30 I wanted to be left alone, to follow Jesus in my own way, and my heroes were Buddy Suitor, Alan Hirsch and Mark Sayers

Now I am 45, and I have learned that what I want is often silly, and not what I need. I have learned that my heroes are very fallible, and they should be influences rather than heroes. I have learned that what I plan for, and what happens is actually quite different and that what matters is how I love in the process.

I hope that our community in Long Beach continues to grow into a network of house churches, and intentional communities committed to loving our neighbors, specifically our marginalized neighbors. I hope that I will finish a book that can share our journey with a wider audience. I hope that I might have the opportunity to speak to the church at large a bit. I hope that I grow ever more committed to discipleship.

I am thankful for people like Ched Myers, Neil Cole, Alan and Deb Hirsch and Dave Andrews that encourage me along the way. I am thankful for my friends that are fighting the enemy with me. I am thankful for my community that loves me for who I am and compels me to be better. I am especially thankful for my wife, whom I grow to love more, and trust more every day.

When I was younger I wanted to be something or someone else, now I just want to be a better me


Thursday, July 28, 2011

And they say I am compromising!

As you might imagine, I get into some "conversations" with people of all different ideological bent. But it seems my most heated disagreements tend to be with the group that would be considered the conservative evangelicals. It is apparent that we disagree on a few things. But what is funny to me is that I find the same accusations that are thrown at me, are actually the ones I make of them. Or in the words of the sage 2nd grader "I'm rubber and you're glue everything bounces off me and sticks to you"

Ok, so what the hell am I talking about today? Simply this, I am often accused of compromising the gospel, or the faith. And the reasons I do this are varied but usually come to these:

1. to fit my own politically correct socialist ideologies

2. to try and be cool, or hip

3. to try and be liked by the non Christians, (both atheists and other religions)

So in order to be a cool, socialist who gets invited to non Christian parties, I compromise the gospel. But if I was a brave, man, and took the bible at its literal word, I would be a non compromising, despised, conservative man who lets God speak for me when I am reviled.

But this is the thing... I didn't come to my political leanings and then change my theological views. I am liked, and disliked by many people from other religions and non religions because I am unashamedly committed to the idea of the uniqueness of Jesus' as the God man, who's work was salvation for the cosmos. And, I quite frankly, am so damn cool, that my beliefs couldn't make me any cooler. :)

I came to my beliefs not because of any reason other than, I belief this is what Christ, through the biblical accounts in the gospels, teaches with both his words and his deeds. I am not trying to be a lefty, a hipster, a liberal, or even to not have to worry about sin, rather I am trying to follow Jesus.

But lets talk about compromise:

The gospels show throughout their entirety Jesus' animosity towards the religious and moral elite, yet the church of today in their calls for "holiness" regularly lift up these same attitudes, rejecting the very people Jesus routinely located himself among. We compromise the words and example of Jesus, by emulating the enemies of Jesus instead of Jesus himself.

Jesus continuously tells us to not trust in money, to not store up treasures, to give all we have away and trust God, to share with whomever has need ect. Yet we do not take those scriptures literally, of course not! Jesus couldnt have meant something that makes me uncomfortable. The truth is Jesus talks way more about what you do with your wallet than what you do with your dick, and I am the one compromising? Excuse me if I am a bit nervous, you keep smacking me in the head with that log when you are trying to get the splinter out of my eye.

Jesus was consistently caring for the marginalized. He tells us a story of what is essentially, the righteous heretic. He spends time among the pagans, the heretics, hookers and the race traitors. He parties with sinners. He loves and touches the ritually unclean. Yet we make sanctified church services that make people that can't afford a smart casual, or even formal outfit, feel unwanted. We impose burdens of righteousness upon others and exclude them. We do not spend time with those of other or no faith in loving communion.

There is assent to taking the bible as its literal word, and then it being thrown right out the window when it says: Love your enemy, do good to those that do bad to you, and do not violently resist an evil doer. Instead we make up this bullshit about loving your enemy in your heart while you drop bombs on him, his wife and his children in real life.

There is constant clamor about the literalness of the hell of the afterlife, yet no willingness to enter into the hell of the present and rescue people from their pain and oppression. There is talk about the literalness about the heaven of the future, but no willingness to sacrifice to bring justice, mercy and goodness to all now.

I am not advocating a lessening of Christian discipleship, but a raising of it. I am not advocating an easier discipleship but a harder one. I am declaring that the rigorous believism of our current Christianity is a fragile shell of the grace and power filled way of discipleship of the early church. That orthodoxy needs to give way to orthopraxy or we are just big brains and big mouths with no relation to the Jesus of the bible.

You want to see who is compromising? Who is caring for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the marginalized, the imprisoned? Who is loving their enemy? Who is actually walking out the fruits of the Spirit. Don't ask me what I think, ask me how I live.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Modern Day Saints (Shirley Osbourne of Melbourne)

Shirley Osbourne is one of my heroes. We met her in Melbourne while she was speaking at a FORGE intensive training session, on spirituality. We immediately realized we would be friends. She is everything I like about a missionary, loving, down to earth, grass roots, strong, courageous and above all... bat shit crazy. She now pastors a church in Melbourne that ministers to a number of needy people from the housing commission flats. She works alongside a number of aids organizations. And is tirelessly working to support her friends, the forgotten poor and marginalized of Melbourne's inner city.

Shirley one day realized a number of homeless, disenfranchised kids that gathered on the steps of Melbourne's Flinders Street train station. She did a most logical thing, being a young wife and mother, she started bringing them home to live with her. Starting a ministry called SOS, Steps Outreach Services has over the past 19 years provided shelter for over 300 young people often in her own family home.

I remember her telling us of her learning to teach the bible to this mob of completely unchurched young people. She realized that the story of the good Samaritan would mean nothing to them. So she told them the story of the good Policeman. How would that go over in our Sunday services? Whether she is providing food for her friends in government housing, sitting with a friend struggling with heroin withdrawals, or providing a welcoming space for a pedophile while still protecting the vulnerable this woman has incredible integrity, and humility. She doesn't think she is special, just doing what God puts in her path. I pray that more ordinary saints like her do the same.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making a name for myself (painful realization from Babel)

Many of you would know that ten days ago or so I wrote a letter to Mark Driscoll, this is the last I will mention it I promise. What happened was the link was tweeted by Rick Warren, Rachel Held Evans, and Don Miller, and it became a minor internet hit. I got more hits on that thread in two days than the rest of my blog in three years. And it felt good. I had already decided to make a commitment to blogging everyday, so this seemed like it was a great jump start. But... (why does everyone have a big but)...

Since then I have been tracking my stats. I have been advertising my blog on twitter and facebook. I even wrote a post yesterday hoping to stir up some interest by asking Rick Warren why he deleted the link he had earlier posted. The truth is I was, and I guess am, trying to make a name for myself. During silence today I recognized this, and I immediately felt conviction. This was the sin of Babel. Facing their mortality, and their loneliness, they decided to build a city with a giant tower and make a name for themselves

Genesis 11

Universal Language, Babel, Confusion
1 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. 2 It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. 4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth

The problem is that up until this time you were named by God. You were who God named you, you didn't make a name for yourself. This city was a direct attempt to answer the problems that only God can answer. To confront death, loneliness, separation and the eternal questions, by making a city, centralizing power, creating monuments. Big shining beacons so all the internet could see...

I have been sinning, please forgive me. I believe I have a prophetic message to the church at large, and am living that out with my community in Long Beach. But I will let God give me my name, and a place to speak, I will no longer try and make it for myself. Thanks for your forgiveness.


Monday, July 25, 2011

So what happened Pastor Rick Warren?

I don't have an axe to grind with Rick Warren. I actually think he gets a bad rap most of the time. I think he is wrong about plenty of stuff, but you know what... I am too. So...

Rick... keep growing and changing, searching for the truth. As much as I try I like you... but...

I gotta ask what happened last week? Wasn't a big deal, I just don't Get it. I posted a letter to Mark Driscoll, about another of his stupid manly man comments and apparently you found it, and must have thought it funny, or challenging, or important, because you tweeted it. Then after a relatively short period of time you deleted your tweet. So what gives?

If you later realized I was a jerk (which I could have told you up front) why not tell me? Or if people complained because of other stuff on my blog, you could have told me that. But really, how did you like it enough to tweet about, but then delete your own tweet? Seems odd, and I asked you personally but you didn't answer so I thought maybe you would see this and retweet it, and then you might read it and give me an answer. The way it stands I don't think Mark Driscoll would be very proud of you... Well I guess that isn't a good point :)


Amy Winehouse, Oslo, Somalia ect. (this tragic world)

This past weekend we were saddened by the death of the incredibly talented, but tragically enslaved singer Amy Winehouse. Before that we heard the horrific reports of a lone man, consumed by hate and bigotry, who injured and murdered almost a hundred young people in Oslo. In addition we continue to get reports of the widespread famine in Somalia, and the factions that keep relief from getting to them.

In addition Japan is still reeling from the earthquakes, New Zealand the same and Haiti is still in dire straights. There is not enough time in the news to cover it all.

Add to that the incredible deaths in the drug cartels in Mexico, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan. The violent regimes in Burma, Libya, Syria ect.. This world seems like a pretty shitty place.

My dear friend in the Navy is currently stationed in a country that is a near the middle east and the gulf. He does much aid work, and humanitarian work (the thing the forces do more of than gets reported and for which I am proud of). And he sees every day the horrible atrocities done on a small scale. Women with their genitals mutilated (90%), young girls with acid burns for going to school, kids that have suffered severe beatings, and just simple starvation and disease. These things almost never get reported as they are poor, and small, and insignificant.

In the park this weekend we ate breakfast with a homeless guy who was missing one of his front teeth, had stitches in his gums and lip, and staples in his head after being attacked with a pipe and a wooden pole or bat. The police responded 90 minutes after they were called. While two weeks earlier the cops responded in ten minutes because another homeless man urinated in the bushes (before the public bathrooms had been opened up). Of course no one hears about this, who cares about the little stuff, especially when we have the big stuff to worry about.

Mother Teresa said, "you don't need to to great things, just little things, with great love" Gandhi said, "you must be the change you want to see in the world" I challenge you today, I challenge myself today, to start to live in a way that makes the world a better place. Love the unloved. Care for the uncared for. Don't worry about what you can't do, and do what you can. Write a letter to a congress person about Somalia, or Burma, or Afghanistan. Start a group around Ched Myers book Sabbath Economics and live a different economy. Invite a homeless person, or struggling family to share dinner with you. The problem is not too big, our imagination is too small. Christ died and rose to redeem this world, lets live like that is true.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

What I have learned over these last 10 days

1. I am often misunderstood, sometimes that is my fault, sometimes that is my readers fault, sometimes it is the incompleteness of our mechanisms of communication.

2. I still want to be popular, and heard far and wide (which I think is ego), yet I believe I have an important message, and a faithful testimony, (which is ministry) and it takes integrity, and community to hold the two in tension.

3. I still hate it when people don't see how correct I obviously am.

4. I am very much personally invested in what I say, write or paint

5. I am not alone in my journey, there are many that walk before, with and behind me, and we are one

6. and probably the thing I learned the most was... People really want to see Driscoll get beat up :)

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and be a part of my learning experience. I will be starting to record my teaching videos on the radical gospel of Matthews Jesus again, so if you want to catch up please go to: the rev

"see you" tomorrow


Friday, July 22, 2011

be still and know that I am God

For my new friend Meredith Gould I will be brief :)

The practice of silence, stillness, listening prayer is not something that comes naturally for me. I am more of a assault the throne of God, Pentecostal, type prayer guy. I yell to and at God, often outloud, and I relate to the psalmist. But I also need to develop the part of me that hears that still small voice. This is what I am trying to learn now, and it isn't easy.

Every morning during the work week I wake up, light a candle, and spend twenty minutes trying to be still, and silent before God. This morning I managed maybe twenty seconds in a row at one time, which was a break through. But one thing I did "hear" while sitting, was that the Holy Spirit is at work. I watched the flame flicker, back and forth, and realized that God works in and among this world. And sometimes its outline would break from its tear drop and become anarchic, and wild, and unpredictable, yet it was the same flame. It made me want to look deeper, and be afire more.

Be still, know that I am God, then get your ass up and be my presence in the world.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


So I have been getting a little flack for my language, thought I might address it. I have been accused of a few things:

1. Stumbling others by trying to be relevant

2. Trying to be hip and looking silly

3. Being a bad example as a pastor

4. Not being "holy" according to scriptures teachings

Well lets take a look shall we?

1. Stumbling others...stumbling others... yes, I must admit that gosh dang it, I flippin said some naughty words and one of my brothers began to say the same gosh darn words, and before you flippin know it, he was droppin "f" bombs. A couple of weeks later I caught him looking at internet porn, and now he is addicted to heroin and worshiping satan, all cause I dagnabit said shit. Oh doo doo, I hope you don't wind up renouncing Christ and becoming drug addicted now.

2. Yeah, thats me. I am always trying to look hip with my tattoos, and my slicked back hair doo, and my post punk uniform. Has nothing to do with the guy I was when I got saved, I am just trying to look cool... by speaking like a normal human being. How silly of me, I should be much less silly... Like this:

Perhaps I speak the way I do because that is the way I speak??? Because that is the way my neighbors speak, and that by trying to speak like Ned Flanders I actually am sounding like a self righteous dork? Now don't get me wrong, I refrain from language that is racist, sexual, sexist, or calling people names. But saying shit, instead of doodie, well that isn't me being cool, that is me not being silly!

3. Being a good example of pastor would mean hiding the language that is in my head? pretending to be something I am not? Not expressing myself to the fullest of my possibilities? Being something higher, more above, holier than those I am in community with? Yeah, well I don't want to be any of those things anyways

4. Let me get a bit more serious here. Jesus, nor Paul ever give us a list of words that you can't say on television. There is no list of naughty words, but there are numerous commands to watch your mouth. My question is, have you ever really looked at what those admonitions are saying? Most are about gossip, slander, divisiveness and other such practices that have nothing to do with the naughty word list. I have done some intense research, and when Paul gets a bit more exhaustive about his list of things we should not let our tongue be about: eph 5 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. In context of the passage, and in context of the Greek words, Paul is speaking quite clearly about, sexual joking, jesting, flirting and innuendo. None of which you need a naughty word to do. My "slander" of Mark Driscoll, was much more pushing the envelope of grace than any word I use. And if you actually do a little digging around, you will be shocked at some of the phrases that Paul and Jesus use when describing their opponents. Your personal piety would be much better served by a desire to speak words of encouragement to those who speak the truth in love, than in making naughty word lists.

And in the end, let me confront this ridiculous focus on stupid things like cuss words. Let me start, with a quote from Anthony Campolo

“[According to a profile in Christianity Today entitled] The Positive Prophet, ... I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

Tony Campolo quote

In this message Tony addressed the problems with a moralistic focus on things that serve to give us a feeling of personal piety, while allowing us to ignore issues that are truly on God's heart. Whats more important? 30,000 starving children or a cuss word? In a world where "Christian marriages" end 50% of the time, we are really going to worry about the difference between shit and doo doo in the spoken or written word? In a world where high profile pastor after pastor goes down in flames for adultery, and churches are mired in controversy over protecting child molesting ministers, we are going to address the appropriateness of the word ass? When gay children are being bullied til they commit suicide, people are being sold into sex slavery, and thousands of people are dying in a drug war in Mexico you think God is really concerned about the cultural acceptance of a word or not?

I live in a country where the vast majority of the Christian church has a problem with me using the modern vernacular of the day, while they support the continued killing of not only soldiers, but innocent women and children (conveniently called collateral damage), of brown people far away from home. I scream what the FUCK is wrong with this picture??? Wake up people of God, and get on with Justice and Mercy, and Humility before God.

Now should we worry about personal holiness? Of course, and if you feel cussing is a sin, then by all mean don't do it. But don't dump your doo doo on me.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Modern Day Saints (Ray Barbee)

Watch this guy skate!!! He revolutionized skating. Before Ray, there were lots of guys that did amazing tricks. Gnarly guys like Duane Peters and Tony Alva that rode like they were fighting with the pool or ramp. Smooth gymnast like guys who do amazing acrobatic stunts like Tony Hawk and Mike McGill. You had the insane weird street stuff like Gonzo and Natas, and then the unparalleled trickstering of Rodney Mullins. But it was mostly, trick, set up, other trick, set up and then another trick. What Ray did was different, it was like, "I am just going across the neighborhood, but doing it in style" His tricks were awesome, but looked so simple because of his cruising type of style. He made skating into transportation, not just skills.

But what is amazing, is that with all his fame, and notoriety, he is quite literally the nicest guy I have ever met. He is so humble, and friendly, and always has a smile for someone. I would go skating with him, and he would inspire awe in everyone. Yet he would stop and sign boards, talk to kids, teach them tricks, and my favorite bit he would encourage them and cheer them on. When he got tired he would often sit off to the side and just read his pocket sized new testament. He talked about Jesus and the bible all the time, almost spoke in scriptures, but it seemed so natural, and normal when he did it. Everyone knew he was a follower of Jesus, and they thought it was cool. He made me want to be more like Jesus, because surely, this is what Jesus was like.

I remember one day he was on the mini pipe with me, and he was learning to do some insanely hard trick, four feet in the air over the pipe. I was relearning a simple little trick on the edge of the ramp. And he said, "we aren't leaving til we both land these" and we skated for over and hour, just him and I, encouraging each other. It was awesome.

Ray isn't that smiley faced boy anymore. He is a man, with a family. He is in his mid thirties and still gets paid to skateboard, but he is realizing that he needs to move on. Looks like his next careers are music and photography. Doesn't seem fair, why doesn't he have to have a real job... ever? But because its Ray, you just are so happy for him.

If you ever see a guy with a skateboard by his side, a small pocket sized bible open in his lap, a big smile for all to see, it just might be Ray Barbee. When I think of what Jesus was like... I usually think of Ray.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ten Things I would say to the Church (if they listened to me)

1. Love God, love one another, love your neighbor, everyone is your neighbor. The message of Jesus is that we are to love everyone as if they are the most important people in our life. Even family dynamics should not get in the way of our love for others

2. What you do (orthopraxy) is as important, if not more important as what you believe (orthodoxy) We need to be people that follow Jesus example, and teachings, even if we don't completely understand everything. Remember Paul said we see through a distorted glass, with dark tint now. Anyone who has it all figured out is a bit of an ego maniac (like me)

3. Stop trying to get the world to come into your church, and get your church (the people of God's kingdom community) to get into the world. The answer to the worlds problem, including its lack of Christ, is Christ in the world. We are to follow Jesus into the places inhabited by the poor and broken and despised, not call them to us.

4. Christ is the center of our faith, not the bible. For sure the bible tells us of Christ, and this is its function. But we must start our hermeneutic with Christ, we must start our discipleship with Christ, we must start our dogma with Christ. For Christ alone is the author and finisher, the beginning and end, the way the truth and the life, the exact representation of God. The bible game (tm) does not work. (the bible game is he who has the most scriptures with their addresses, taken out of context to support their argument wins) We are to be disciples of the WORD, with the word, illuminates by the Spirit of Jesus.

5. The church is not to reflect the worlds hierarchical structure. Israel sinned in asking for a king "like the other nations have" By being married to this structure we both create a system that infantalizes some, elevates others, and becomes the sin of our age (consumerism). Every joint supplies, and all gifts are used when we stop the top down ministry, and embrace the egalitarian nature of God's kingdom.

6. Bigger is not better Jesus was so explicit about this it hurts. The kingdom of God is like a bit of hidden leaven. The kingdom of God is like a tiny little mustard seed. Jesus never neglected the masses, but he never trusted himself to them. We need not do great things, but small things with great love- Mother Teresa

7. In following Jesus we continue in his path, his ascension provided a comma, not a period. What am I talking about? Jesus fought against the religious leaders and structures that marginalized people for being sick, being female, and for being heretics. We don't stop there, but we continue to follow his lead. We don't say, well this is what Jesus said and accomplished for equality for women, so we will accept that but no further. We should be on the cutting edge of empowering the disempowered. We should be fighting for the rights of those that are oppressed, even if they are (gasp) muslim, gay, or drug addicts. Following Jesus means continuing the revolution, not considering it done.

8. There is no such thing as a Christian nation, and even if there was America was never it. The church married to the state is the destruction of the church. Our kingdom is not of this world.

9. There is, with absolutely no doubt, a bias in the gospels towards the poor and the marginalized. The church needs to locate itself with this in mind. Not to reach down from a place of power, but to recognize itself, as neighbor, friend, and fellow desperately needy, follower of God

10. Love God, love one another, love your neighbor, everyone is your neighbor. The message of Jesus is that we are to love everyone as if they are the most important people in our life. Even family dynamics should not get in the way of our love for others. (oh did I say this already? yeah I suppose I did) The way of the cross is a way that says, "I love you so much I will give my life and death for you, all of you"

please understand that I am the church too, so I say this to my self as well


Monday, July 18, 2011

theology (my doctrine is bigger than your doctrine)

I am an insecure man, that wants to be liked. I want to be respected more than I want to be liked. And, to be honest, I actually do care about what my peers think about me. I like to believe that I am capable of acting beyond this sinful limitation, but sometimes I don't.

For instance, I will often name drop when discussing theology. It is an especially successful name drop if I can claim personal relationship with the person. Like, "my friend Alan Hirsch" Or "My mentor Ched Myers, or Neil Cole says" See, I just did it again. In other words, I am well read, and connected, and my thoughts are the thoughts of BIG people. They are BIG thoughts, and I am a BIG thinker. I read BIG books about BIG things. And my theology is right, and correct and you should agree with me.

Kind of reminds me of driving around in a really BIG truck.

But this is the problem, Christ chose a bunch of working class blokes, that most likely would not have known their way around any BIG theology tomes. Christ was not interested in the scribes, and all their BIG knowledge. He was interested in living BIG. Not wealthy BIG, but BIG in the understanding of God's kingdom. The early church was called the way, not the truth.

Lest someone get the wrong idea, I am not saying that knowledge is wrong. Nor that learning is not important. We must learn, and strive for understanding. But it is my contention that the way I live, is more important than what I think. Or even further, if my way of life is not in line with the way of the cross, I cannot even truly understand how to know, the truth. Correct practice is more important than correct knowledge, and in fact correct knowledge can only come from correct practice.

Let me give you a little example. We have two people in our community that do not believe in a personal God. Yet they believe in the teachings of Jesus. They are trying to live out these teachings, and are therefore part of our community. I would say they have the wrong doctrine, the wrong belief system. But they are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the good earth. While many people that do believe the "right things" ignore the plight of the poor, and consume the resources of God's good creation with no thought. In our Western church mindset the one is damned, the other is saved, (though maybe not living out their discipleship as much as they should) But my question is who is truly being a disciple of Christ? Did the fishermen who followed Jesus understand the trinity? the various atonement theories? the basic ideologies of a Christian world view? Nope in fact even after the resurrection they were confused, "so, you gonna kick the Romans out now general Jesus" (my paraphrase)

So what is my point? Having all of your ideas about God right (and of course yours are right) does not make you a follower of Christ. Following Christ means walking the path of your own execution, for the sake of love, whether you understand it all or not.

And now for a really BIG name drop

Jesus said, "Love God, Love your Neighbor, and everyone is your neighbor" Love is an action word


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Any questions?

It seems that many people, from many backgrounds, have visited my blog to see this letter I created in a few minutes, to express my frustration with Mark Driscoll. But some of these people have looked at a few other posts, and have expressed some level of curiosity, or interest in my blog. Or since its an extension of me, me. So if you have any questions for me, about my life, ministry, or beliefs and practice, ask them here and I will answer them as well as I can.


Friday, July 15, 2011

new discipline (silent prayer)

Silent prayer, or centering prayer, or silent meditation whatever you want to call it is what I have been trying to grow in my life. Twenty minutes every morning, I light a candle, and try to listen for that still small voice. To clear my mind of the clutter, and noise, and listen for God's breath, for God's whisper...

I suck at it. Can't go 10 seconds without my mind drifting off. I guess thats why they call it a discipline. I was better at pentecostal scream therapy prayer :)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

a new series modern day saints 1 (my wife Raquel)

Since I seemed to have gotten a million more hits for being a jerk than I ever did being less of a jerk, I thought I might try even harder to be more positive. I am starting a series where I will write a brief description of people who I admire greatly. And there is nobody I would be more happy to start with, than my wife Raquel.

There is a scene in As Good As It Gets, where Jack Nicholson's delightfully screwed up character unknowingly insults his love interest in the film (played brilliantly by Helen Hunt) she tells him if he doesn't give her a really good compliment she is going to leave:

Well, this is my wife. She makes me want to be a better man, and has made me want to be a better man for 23 years now. I have watched her invite battered women to come live with us, care for homeless drunk men, and sit and cry with teenagers that weren't even her own. I have known her to be incredibly sensitive to the Spirits leading, with discernment so spot on I tease her by calling it her voodoo. She has put up with, and even cherished a lifestyle that often leads us into financial and sometimes even physical insecurity. She sees the truths of scripture, and dances with them in a way that is awe inspiring. And then she plays music that teaches others to dance as well.

One time we were on our way back home and we saw two police cars outside the back of our jiu jitsu studio. We stopped to see what was up, and an elderly lady was crying, and screaming, and so upset. Her grandchild was at the studio where the child's father was a live in pro. The grandmother did not think it a proper environment for the young girl and was trying to take her away. She was so upset, and helpless. But the father, my friend, was not doing anything wrong, nor was the place unsafe, or improper (though a tad dirty). My wife sat in the car watching the scenario as I tried to see what was going on. She felt such empathy for the grandmother, and for the little girl, and for my friend. And she felt helpless. What can I do, there is too much need. These kinds of things are everywhere, the poor, the hungry, the helpless. I cannot stand under this oppression of need. Then my wonderful wife says, "the Spirit of God said to me, 'no you can't, but my church can, please get my church out of their buildings and back in the world'" And she has given her life to living that out.

My wife, is a saint. I am a lucky man.


A follow up on my letter to Mark Driscoll

I was taught two spiritual disciplines that have at times helped me to grow in my pursuit of a Christlike life. On the occasions where they did not help me it was because I did not practice them, not because they did not work.

The one I learned from a friend who shared his father in laws practice of "embracing my own confession". What this means is that before we act, especially in attempts at reconciliation, we must discern our own sin. The way we do this is to recognize that there is always our own sin that causes us to react in anger. "YOU WHO JUDGE ANOTHER DO THE SAME THING" When we can embrace our own confession, and seek God's forgiving mercy we can then in humility speak to another. In other words, deal with your own log, before dealing with the speck in your brothers eye.

The second I learned from, (gasp, dare I say it), my wife. To be fair she learned it from one of her friends, who learned it from someone else and I think they were all women so I shouldn't let them teach me, but in a moment of weakness I did. The discipline is this, when ever you say "so and so is a such and such" you follow it by "and so am I" So, "Mark is a judgmental jackass... and so am I"

The truth is, that was the point of my rant yesterday. I see in Mark, and in Marks depiction of "manliness" many of the traits that I am convicted of myself. I am judgmental. I am mean. I make fun of people that I differ with or disagree with. I am overbearing, rude, and obnoxious. I am prone to shouting, anger and even violence. I feel uncomfortable about expressions of sexuality that are different than my own. And I believe God wants to drive this sin from me, so that I, might be perfected in Love like Jesus was. Which is why when I see my sin reflected in others, it makes me angry. Easier to get angry at others than myself.

My point on Tuesday evening, was not that I am above Mark. But rather, in being a visible leader, Mark encourages a part of me that the Spirit is trying to discourage. Not so I can be less the strong, courageous, man I am, but that I would be tempered with goodness, kindness, gentleness and empathy. My letter was an attempt to give voice to this, and perhaps, help other tough guys to see a different way, and hear a different voice.

I do understand the idea that church in America can be ostracizing for some men, but it is also so for lgbt community, for anyone not of the same race as the church they go to, for people that are ADHD, ect. Mark often criticizes churches for compromising to be more palatable, yet isn't encouraging a male dominated, power based sexism a compromise to the 20-35 year old male demographic? Lets look at Christ for who he was, someone who breaks out of all of our boxes, strong, yet gentle, Non violent, let passionately zealous, loving and just.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sometimes I get a bit disillusioned

So yesterday I put up a letter to Mark Driscoll. I have gotten more hits on my blog for that post than just about any post, ever, even though it has been up only 18 hours. The only exception, would be the post I put up expressing my anger over the nationalism and militarism expressed by Pastor Chuck Smith.

So, I put up videos of bible teachings, reflections on life, and really heartfelt sharing, and I get almost no feed back. But when I make a little controversy, when I stir up a little shit, when I act like what I am trying to overcome, I become in some little way popular. This is discouraging to me.

I get a bit disillusioned. I would hope I could be a beacon of light not just a Christian shock jock. I would hope we could encourage each other and pass around some love here and there. But the truth is I don't do it. I don't read many blogs myself, and when I do I often don't take the time to comment. If we want to be the change we want to see in the world, in the church, in social media... it requires action.

I want to be a man of action and reflection.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A letter to Pastor Mark

I have listened to you Pastor Mark for many years now. You are very bright, charismatic, and I think do some great things, but you usually aggravate me quite a bit. But in your latest facebook post talking about genetically male effeminate worship leaders, I just had to say something. The truth is, you probably won't ever read what I have to say, and if you do you will most likely laugh at what a sissified hippie I am.

Let me start by saying that you can call me John. Though I am a pastor, I am possibly not going to act as a pastor, nor do I need the title. Most people call me rev as an ironic nickname because I am so very different from their idea of a reverend. I am also going to call you Mark, because you have not been acting like a pastor either. You know, because of your undeniable intelligence, that pastor means shepherd. And part of the job of a shepherd is to keep the sheep in line to protect them from bad things. And sometimes a shepherd has to "man up" as you would say, and go fight the wolves that would tear apart the sheep. I am sure you are quite willing to do both of these things. But a shepherd does not belittle, mock, or injure sheep for looking different, for being weaker in some ways, or for not fitting in. And Mark, that has been what your bullying has done.

Your desire to be a manly man, and to stamp out this feminizing of the church, has not only been ill informed, and self serving, but is also hurting many people, and stumbling others like myself. You see mr tough manly man, things like gentleness, peace, and patience are all fruits of the Spirit, and I struggle to live those out even without you acting like they are girly traits.

Now let me, like Paul, set some things straight. When it comes to being a manly man, I am one of the manliest you will ever meet. I was born John, son of John, son of Jorgen I am 6'2" and 230 lbs of ass kicking muscle. I was a four year letterman in wrestling. My nickname on the football team where I played defensive tackle was kamikaze. I skateboarded in swimming pools with no pads. I was in a punk rock gang.

I was a portuguese bullfighter from the age of 15 to 20 see picture above (not me but what I did for five years) I was a repo man, a bouncer, and a construction worker. I drive a Ford F150 am a brazilian jiu jitsu black belt, and a former pro mma fighter and coach. I have numerous tattoos. I have fathered two children, no sons so I am sure I lose a few points there. I have planted or helped to plant 18 churches I share my faith freely, in many places. I am quite frankly a bad ass.

This is the problem Mark, though all of these qualities can be used for good, for most of mankind they have been used for bad. They have been used to have power over others, to kill others, to keep others in their place, (which is always below us). And this is the kind of behavior you encourage. Make fun of others, exalt strength when Christ humbled himself. Stand over others especially women, when Christ, though God, relied on women for support, showed himself to them first, and depended on them as his only witnesses on the cross (cept for a teenager). Instead of being numbered with the sinners, the traitors, the drunks heretics and outcasts like Christ did, you ridicule and damn them.

But the biggest temptation you put on me, is to take you up on your manly man thing. In my flesh I want to fly up to Seattle and have a cage match followed by a theology debate. And after beating you ugly and stupid, I could then in your concussed state overcome your superior intellect and smart assed comments in a debate was well.

Unfortunately, I follow the hippie, non violent, love your enemy Jesus, that would rather die for you than kick your ass. I really hope you meet Him some day, because the guy you are following is just who you wish you could be when you grow up.


Last Night...

Our community meets on Mondays for a communal meal, and some discussion around the bible. This last night my wife lead the discussion time, but rather than continue on in Matthew, we reflected on what we had focused on at our last time together.

Last community meal we looked at the famous story of Jesus dealing with the issue of taxation. But looked at it from a different perspective than the usual, "be a good citizen, pay your taxes, and then be a good Christian too" Rather we looked at the radical, and very subversive message that Jesus showed in the passage, and then lived out in his life. It was all an issue of identity and idolatry. By placing value on idols, "graven images" the people of Israel were losing site of their own image and identity. Jesus shows in this passage that money, bears the image of empire, and is therefore by its very being aligned with, and an idol for empire. But we, are image bearers of the creator of the universe. We are made in the image and likeness of God, and called very good. And we should worry about handing over our own selves to God, and don't worry about a worthless idol to a kingdom we do not belong to.

Well, enough of my preaching. Raquel lead us to look at this issue of identity and image bearing. She had us write on labels, who we identified ourselves as. I wrote, father, husband, son, black belt (yes I am a bit vain) construction worker. And who others identified us as, I wrote pastor, theologian. And then we were invited to write labels and place them on the other people in the room. Raquel then had us share what was stuck to our bodies, the labels of our own and others. The images that had been placed upon us.

She then read the account of humankind's creation. She read in Pauls epistles that we are neither Jew, or Greek, or male or female, or slave or free. She went further and said we are neither gay nor straight, white nor black, vegan nor carnivore. And she invited us to take all of our labels off, and to sit in silence for a while and just be...

the image of God


it was beautiful


Monday, July 11, 2011

What is church

Yesterday I visited some friends and their community to discuss a bit of what it means to be church, and share some of my story. One young man said, "church is a group of people learning what it means to follow Jesus in their neighborhood" Or something to that effect. I thought it was a wonderful, simple, yet profound answer.

The church is not an event, where someone teaches us what it means to follow Jesus, but rather a community, within which we learn by doing, by acting out the gospel, by being the extension of Jesus life, here and now. This is what being the church is.

As the three or four of you that read this blog know, I am not one for moderation. As far as I am concerned we should tear down the whole structure, and start from the ruins. But revolution for its own sake will build the same crap, or even worse. What we must seek to become, is a community, of people drawn together by love, for love. What we must walk out is the messy, ugly, painful meaning of the kingdom of heaven.

Lets start with being the change we want to see in the church


Friday, July 01, 2011

twelve weeks of dieting and exercise

so here is my before pics

and after pics

pretty happy with the results, but I am not close to done. Taking the weekend off for my birthday and then back at it.