Thursday, April 27, 2006

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I remember being in high school when Rodney King was beaten up. I remember seeing the footage of the policemen beating him, pounding his flesh. I remember the tape of his simple statement, "Why can't we all just get along?". I wonder the same, Rodney. I wonder the same.

I've just spent the past few minutes clicking through a few blogs, reading up and catching up on some things I like to keep track of. The problem is, I found myself going back and deleting many of those blogs from my lists. I guess I'm just tired of the fighting. I'm tired of all the fighting we do within rather than reaching out to those in need. I'm tired of finding myself more conflicted over non-essential doctrinal bullcrap than in our not acknowledging the pain of the world around us.

Additionally, I'm tired of a world that promotes celebrity as the ultimate distraction. I'm tired of hearing about Lindsay and Paris and Jessica and whatever the next starlet might be 24/7. I'm tired of celebrity news and entertainment television shows dominating our minds, our periodicals, and our airwaves when just down our neighborhood streets, someone is starving. Across the ocean, hundreds of thousands are starving. AIDS plagues the continent of Africa and we instead find ourselves oohing and aahing at the newest celebrity baby.

Something is wrong. We as Christians and we as simply human beings need to get our heads out of the arguments and into the real fight going on around us. I'm not suggesting that we reject truth, for I do believe in truth, but am rather suggesting that we live truth! We must engage this world. Our engagement must be more than hot air. We need to get our hands dirty. I need to get my hands dirty...

Idle words...

I found myself this past week or so reflecting upon the care that we must give to our words and the things we say. While that might seem like a very obvious, very general statement, it is still nonetheless true. What I am addressing most pointedly is the simple statements that we often use to provide advice, comfort, or, at least in our minds, help someone through a difficult time.

It seems those of us in the Christian world tend to struggle with what to say when bad times come into people's lives. We're not entirely sure how to respond and often end up with a hastily muttered, "Pray about it". This is not bad advice. In fact, I think it's great advice. The problem however, is that while it shares a good principle, it doesn't necessarily get heard due to the situation that is booming overhead.

Case in point: Just this past week my wife met up with an old friend of ours whom she hadn't touched base with in a while. This friend goes way back with us to an old church we used to attend and so forth, has married another friend of ours, and they have a quiver of kids and whatnot. Over the years, financial situations and more have sort of placed a bit of a block between the couple and while they profess to love one another, things are not as they should be. Without going into detail, it's just not a good thing. Well, this friend of ours went to see her pastor for help, for advice, for encouragement, for anything that would help. The pastor's counsel? Pray about it. Not, "Hey, let's get you guys in here and talk some of this out". Not, "Hey, let's get you guys in here and let's pray about this together". Nope. Pray about it. It's good advice but somewhere along the lines the challenge of Jesus to us to "speak the truth in love" has been forgotten.

As I shared with some friends after I'd been on the receiving end of such a time, sometimes we just need to hear something more along the lines of "that sucks" rather than what is truly obvious to us. The truth must be administered in such a way that it comes across as real, as something you've tasted, rather than something you've read.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Random thought...

Have you ever had so much on your mind, so much that you wanted to put down in print, that you just couldn't at the moment? Like, you needed to process some of it before you could even think about trying to articulate it? Welcome to my world...More to come...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Walls are starting to crumble...

I find myself as of late, really tired. It's not just a physical tired although that is certainly a factor. But, there's something within me crying out for rest, for peace, for a few moments of quietude so that I may simply, and I know this sounds a bit Zen, be. I just need to stop, breathe, not speak, and listen. The problem I'm finding with a lot of this is that I am so enamored, whether consciously or unconsciously, with being busy. I am afraid of the silence. I am afraid of what, or maybe more appropriately put, who I'll find there. I'm learning more and more about myself and what I continue to find is both intriguing and frightening. I realize my infinite weakness and am overwhelmed with the utter poverty of my spirit. The sheer vulnerability that lurks beneath the surface is frightening. I find pain, anger, bitterness, hope, fear, and more. I'm not really sure what to do with it just yet but I guess throwing it out there is a start.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Just Want to Help...

So this past Easter Sunday my wife and I attended church. We had not been in a while and it's been difficult on her. So, at her behest, we went to the third service of a church that we had visited for some time during our exodus. It was an okay service, and I tried to keep my focus on God more than anything else. The message was topical and predictably evangelistic. That's not necessarily a bad thing but, in all honesty, that's just this church's MO. There's not a whole lot of meat to what they do that I've experienced yet. And, well, at least their music was good. They have a very talented worship band and are pretty up to date on all of the new Passion songs so that was good. But, I realize that those things are not what is important. The key is whether or not I brought my full worship to God.

I brought what I could. I did become more mindful of things within me as the service wore on however. I became aware of how hurt I have really been by some church folk. I've sort of brushed off the bitter/hurt moniker in the past but now it's one that I seem compelled to accept for the time being. Between my own experiential time in church growing up as well as serving in one professionally to my learning time in college, I've seemingly created a world with more problems than solutions. I agonize over the pain I've experienced and unconsciously find myself demonizing others in the church for those same things. Not all people have the mindsets that I've dealt with. In fact, I honestly believe that many are well-meaning and well-intentioned. They feel that they are doing what is right, what it is that Christ calls us to. I cannot judge their heart in that but, I suppose, in some ways I do.

I guess what I'm crying out here is that I just want to help. I need help. I don't want to continue to criticize and deconstruct. There is a place for that but I feel as though I've stayed in that place long enough. Now, it's time to be constructive, taking what I've learned, even through pain, and work toward renewing the church, work toward teaching, helping, sharing, and caring. But I've got to overcome this hurt first...this distrust first...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Let's Help 'em Out...

I had heard about this a week or so ago but this morning listened to the xxxchurch podcast and found out how ridiculous this had become and thought I'd try to inform the three people who check this out on occasion. Because I couldn't garner a good link to their site, I'm going to just post the article here. How crazy has the Christian world become?! Let's consider helping the fellas out!

Here's the article:

We have been doing ministry for several years now and have had a great outreach at the porn shows. On three different occasions, we have given away Bibles for free at porn shows. Much to our surprise, they were well received. Since we are on a tight budget here at, we always try and get the best deal we can... which means the Bible covers are usually less than cool. After the last show in Las Vegas, where we gave away 1000 bibles, I looked into getting custom bibles printed that would match the whole look of our booth. We have a 10-foot backdrop, postcards, stickers, and T-shirts that all have ?Jesus Loves Porn Stars? design. The new Bible cover art was an attempt to customize that image and message with the powerful word of God. The cooler the cover, the more separated from all the trash someone gets at a porn show, the more likely it gets picked up and read.
I contacted the American Bible Society and had made arrangements months ago to order 10,000 bibles. We have 3 porn shows coming up (Erotica LA, June. Gay Erotica NY, October. AVN Expo Las Vegas, January.) The cost was over $7,000 but in our opinion it was money well spent. They printed the Bibles prior to getting our cover artwork. Two weeks ago, we sent over the cover art and all hell broke loose.
Long story short?they have refunded all of our money and have refused to print the Bibles. They have told us that this goes against everything the Bible stands for and they don?t want anyone to think that Jesus is okay with porn. We think they are wrong. We think this goes with the central message of the gospel and Jesus loves you regardless of your profession.
Once again, this is not about shock tactics, this is about trying to get the word of God to places most say would be impossible but we have found a way to do it. Not printing the Bibles hinders the gospel of Christ from going forth and that bothers us.We will get these Bibles printed. Someone will step up and help us. No doubt that will happen.
LA TIMES STORY The La Times has run the story about this. It is a great piece and hopefully will help us find a publisher. Check out the article by clicking here!

BUY A TEE SHIRT -We have had numerous requests for the Jesus Loves Porn Stars T-shirts. They are available by clicking here!
SPONSOR BIBLES -If you would like to help us get these Bibles out to the people at the porn shows, we are taking $20 donations. For that $20 we will guarantee that the Bibles will be handed out at one of the three upcoming porn shows we will be attending over the next 9 months. We will send you one Bible (once we get them printed) and give away another 20 for every $20 that you donate. ORDER A BIBLE NOW!
Or to make a Donation CLICK HERE!
More To Come...
Media: All press and media inquiries should contact or or call 330-998-9888.

More Work to be Done...

I ran across this great article by Brent Bourgeois, over on the Burnside Writer's Collective site today and thought I'd share it with you. Thank God for forward thinkers like this! May He send us more!

The Christian Bookstore

A Rambling Confession...

So last night in class we were discussing the interview process. It's a ministry development course and wisely the professor decided to cover this topic. Well, as he was discussing it, he addressed one of the key points that we must take into consideration as an interviewer, namely that we must be aware of our prejudices and our own preconceived notions. Hmmm...Sounds strikingly familiar.

The truth is that this is something I've sort of been working through within myself. As I've developed what I'd define as a quieter life, although not as quite as I am hoping to attain, this is one of the things that I've been forced to face. What are my prejudices right now? Where are these ideas that flood me coming from? Am I aware, as De Mello might write? And, the answer is: sort of.

One of the things that I'm becoming more and more aware of, and this is a difficult thing to write, is that I'm growing bitter and angry with my fellow Christians. Having been submerged in the Christian subculture for so long and then coming to look around with new eyes, so to speak, has left within me an anger and a bitterness. This is not necessarily a good thing. I am called to love these people, for, in all reality, they are part of my family. Yet, I see my family treating others poorly, demanding more of others than is reasonable, and spending more time fighting amongst themselves than in simply loving others. This ought not to be. Another factor within it is that as I look back upon my time in churches and such, I mainly remember pain. Eventually, each experience within a church has led to some sort of pain. I suppose this is to be expected, but one tends to hold "church folk" in a higher regard. This is unreasonable, for we are all people, but it is still an emotional reality for me right now.

I'm not sure what the solution is here. Some days I want to run so far away and never look back. But something within reminds me that I cannot do that, for to do that would be the most unChristlike thing I could do. Other days I just want to scream, "Wake up!", at the top of my lungs, hoping that they will. Then on other days I'm simply reminded of my own depravity and am led to the feet of Christ where I simply wait in His Presence. I hope that's what today brings, a day in His Presence.

Monday, April 10, 2006

So stinkin' cool...

Okay, can you tell my car is broken down today? Here's another great link that I ran across on Ebaum's World!

Star Wars Duel!

I'm seriously envious!

This is great...

I ran across this on Marko's blog and just found it great! It combines two of my most favorite pop culture icons, the Muppets and the Matrix! Check it out!

The Muppet Matrix!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Facing the Facts...

Earlier this week, through an indirect means of sharing, someone challenged me with the idea that we should still endeavor to be called "Christians". If I understand where they're coming from, they are essentially asserting the old idea, and a valid one, that we are not to be ashamed of the name of Christ. The comment was made that they still desire to be a "Little Christ".

Well, I do too. But....

Yeah, there's always a "but", it seems. Here's the thing though. I love Jesus. Yup, I do. No, I don't have a bumper sticker that says it and never will so help me God. No, I don't have a t-shirt that says that either. My problem is that the name, the label, the moniker we're used to referring to ourselves as, "Christian", has been hijacked. For someone to refer to themselves as a Christian now no longer holds the same meaning as it once has. It no longer means, "Little Christ".

Instead, the term "Christian" has been twisted. To other nationalities, the term "Christian" simply refers to Americans. Many Americans simply refer to themselves as "Christians", but in the same way that they refer to their own nationality. That's what they are, they'll say. The term "Christian" now carries with it the overtones of colonialism, captialism, Republicanism (a word I just created), materialism, immoralism, and, some might say, is bordering on carrying the banner of imperialism as well. This is not the label I want attached to me that I hold onto as a symbol of my faith.

Emergent poster child and author, speaker, and former pastor, Brian McLaren, writes in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, in a chapter entitled, "Would Jesus Be A Christian?":

"...I'd like to indulge in some critical and mabe even cynical thinking expressed in statements like these:

1.) The more I study the Bible and reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus, the more I think most of Christianity as practiced today has very little to do with the real Jesus found there.

2.) Often I don't think Jesus would be caught dead as a Christian, were he physically here today.

3.) Generally, I don't think Christians would like Jesus if he showed up today as he did 2,000 years ago. In fact, I think we'd call him a heretic and plot to kill him too."

They are very harsh statements but they reflect something that I feel too, namely that we've lost sight of Jesus. As we've done so, we've allowed our own ideas, our own selfish idealogies to step in and formulate our ways of life, and in the process, invade our theologies. Rather than our careful study and exegesis of the Bible developing our theologies, we've instead read into the text what we hope to see. And in so doing, we've created an organization, a religion, that seems, in some ways, to profane the name of the One it claims to serve.

So, I propose that we come up with something new. A new friend has proposed that perhaps we can be simple and be "Christ-followers". Maybe we need something more articulate. I don't know what it should be. The one thing I do know is that we stand in critical need of change, of repentance, and of grace and mercy, myself fully included in that.

Just so tired...

This has just been one of the longest weeks in a long, long time. It all began with last weekend and a lot of running around that I had to do, meeting with friends here, time with some other people here, work and a trip to the Abbey here. Then, of course, there's all of the real life stuff that just comes part and parcel with the deal, hubby-wife relationships, playing Lincoln Logs with Tyler, work, work, work, school, and all of that stuff. I've also had to be away from home for a few nights with my Dad's birthday and a concert we went to last night as well. It's just all taken it's toll on me.

But, it's also been a good week for me. The whole article thing has been a great learning experience for me. I'll admit that I'm still learning to deal with criticism, especially some of the more pointed and personal critiques of my work but, as time goes by, my skin seems to be thickening a bit. In fact, I'm just itching to have some time to sit down and start into work on some other things that have been stewing in my mind for a while. Who knows? Maybe I'll get another one "published".

One thing that has been such a wonderful thing for me this week though is my family. It's been such a joy to come home, no matter what time, and just be able to settle into to family life. My wife, my beautiful wife, is such a wonderful woman who keeps me grounded and walking the line. In addition to that, she also reminds me that I'm loved and that she loves me. That means so much.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Talking church...

Last weekend, as I'd mentioned in a previous post, I was fortunate enough to travel to St. Leo's Abbey here in the Tampa Bay area to attend their monthly oblate meeting. I'd been talking with my parents that morning but had selectively chosen to share that I was going to Tampa for a meeting of some like-minded people to discuss Christ. My reasoning for that was simple. My parents are good, old-fashioned, and kind people. They raised me in an independent Baptist church, which they no longer attend. As a matter of fact, they no longer attend a church of any kind. Why? I'm not entirely sure. But, the thing that kept me the most from sharing this was that my mother was converted from Catholicism and much of my upbringing recalls hearing the dangers of the Catholic Church.

Well, last night I was over at their house since it was my Dad's sixty-first birthday and I wanted to spend some time with him. The discussion flowed here and there, came around my little article which is finally losing steam and which I'd sent them a link to just because I knew they'd like to see me "in print", and centered on some areas of spirituality. We discussed topics of church and the failures we see in it. We discussed our theologies of salvation and judgment and all sorts of stuff. Eventually, I felt led to share where I'd gone on Sunday.

It was weird. I'm not entirely sure how they took it. On some level, I think it was okay with them. On another, there was a lot of silence. It's funny how little my Mom really did seem to learn in the Catholic Church, which I realize is one of the chief objections some have toward it. I don't know. I'm glad I shared it with them. It wasn't some big secret but I really wasn't up for the whole "heretic" discussion either, not that they would have leveled that claim at me as others might.

By the way, for some who might be reading this and getting to know me for the first time, I'm not a heretic. In fact, most of my views are quite orthodox. I do, however, realize, in humility, that I do not have it all figured out. I also realize that God, as big and as sovereign as He truly is, knows what He's doing as He leads and guides all of us. And I do believe that He is working in each of our lives, whether we're aware of it or not.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Can't rain all the time...

So today was an interesting day. This morning I checked on the status of my article just to see what sort of comments had been left regarding it. RELEVANT has a feature wherein readers can post a quick comment or two regarding the article they've read. It's a cool feature, at least sometimes. So, I checked it out today. A couple of times. Most of what I had to read were positive comments. One guy and I seem to have a lot in common and are now checking each other's blogs out as well.

Well, I had to go to work because, sadly, I am not independently wealthy and upon returning home, thought I'd check one more time and also check my e-mail. Yes, to answer your question, I'm a little excited and a bit anal in regards to my first "published" work being there for the whole world to see! But, so I checked. Hmmm... Seems to me that I just had my convictions questioned there... What's this? Now I'm digging another hole by accomodating culture. Oh man. Crap.

And then I checked my mail. I had a crazy long e-mail from, what I perceive to be a well-meaing pastor who just really, really, really disagreed with me. And, well, that's cool. It's fine that he disagreed. Who knows? In five years, maybe I'll disagree with it too. But what concerned me was that at the beginning of the email he chose to state that he couldn't judge my conscience and therefore my salvation. That's cool. He's right. He can't. Yet toward the end of the email, after explaining, at least to some degree, his point of view on the subject of our engagment of culture, he proceeded to more or less question my salvation and call into question my conscience. Interesting.

One thing I have to remember is something that a new friend shared as I reentered this world of writing. She said that I have to remember that when people critique my work or dislike it that it's not me they're criticizing. I am not my writing. But, let me tell you, it still stings sometimes.

A New Experience...

So, yesterday, I entered into a whole new world. For some time I've been interested in the world of monastic spirituality and have spent some time researching and studying various aspects of it. Even within this blog you'll find references to guys like Merton, Nouwen, and most recently, De Mello. I find their approach refreshing, honest, and intriguing. So, my mentor friend and I have done some hunting and found a monastery nearby that offers an oblate program. He went up and checked things out last month and this month I decided to tag along.

Okay, let me just say that it was a bit of a culture shock. Please remember and know that I was born and raised in an independent Baptist setting where the Catholic Church was giving birth to the Anti-Christ, perhaps even as we sat there discussing it. So, as we walked onto the grounds, wandered around, and eventually entered into the church for noon prayers, I felt as though I had the scarlet "P" on my chest: Protestant!. I asked my friend if there were any things I needed to know before entering and he shook his head no. Well, he was sort of right. But I did feel a little behind trying to follow all of the responsive sayings and knowing when to stand and sit.

But, all culture shock aside, there was a great sense of peace and reverence within the sanctuary. I sat there as we read through a portion of the Psalms, hearing the Word of God wash over us, engaging it, and looking up at the huge crucifix upon the wall. Surrounding us on all sides were stained glass windows, one tier bearing the images of saints, the second tier bearing the images of the stations of the cross. The sense of worship, that something important was taking place, was very tangible in the air. It almost let me forget that I was in new waters.

After the prayers, we had a time of lunch and then entered into the oblate classes/discussion led by a really cool priest, Father Isaac. By far, with only one exception, I was the youngest among a sea of gray. But, everyone was very kind and accepting. The discussion was interesting, challenging, and frustrating at times. It was compelling to see how some would engage the discussion without considering the calls of Scripture first. In seeking out a spiritual life and a way of humility, it would seem as though we would begin there. Although some did not.

All in all, it was a rewarding experience. I still have to process some more of it but I think I'll be back next month.