[2-2011 HOMELSS-OUTREACH STUFF]
 POPPA PAUL- It’s the Saturday right after Thanksgiving; around 3 a.m. in the morning. Been up for a few hours, actually praying [believe it or not!] ‘Wow, brother- you must be spiritual?’ Please. A few years ago, while still working at the fire dept., I spent the last few years staying up most of the night, walking outside- praying. Some days I’d fall asleep around 9- get up at 11- to be honest it was killing me! I just couldn’t sleep- it took me a few years to train myself to sleep in till at least 3- maybe on a good day- 4 a.m. Then a week or so ago the clocks went back an hour- and yes- I’m waking up at one again. So here we are. As I was praying I was thinking of an old buddy, Poppa Paul- don’t remember if I ever wrote about ‘Pops’ before. Paul was around 70, one of the older ‘White’ bro’s- most of these older guys have past stories of being in prison- many for murder- they wind up coming to Texas and I meet them here on the streets- the homeless bunch. Paul supposedly killed someone years ago in Fla. Did his time and wound up here. I liked Pops [died a while back] I’d invite Pop’s and New York Tony [my buddy the crack addict] to go eat- Tony would go- Pops just wanted his beer. Yet Paul was a friend- I did help him run errands every so often. The older guys protect themselves by having a dangerous reputation- Pops stabbed ‘Cowboy’ [Texas Heroin addict] almost killed him; you don’t mess with Pops. I guess one day Pops was thinking he needed to explain himself- so me and Tony and Pop’s are hanging out, somehow Pop’s brings up the stabbing [he did almost kill Cowboy] Pop’s says ‘you know, one day I was whittling some wood [LOL] and Cowboy fell on my knife’ it was kinda funny- I did tell Pop’s ‘I don’t know Pop’s- sounds like a story to me’. Hey, I couldn’t let him think I was that gullible. Over the years at the fire house I had lots of my buddies come by and visit- after a while the guys at the station caught on- they would tell me ‘hey John- your convies [convicts] were here looking for you the other day’. As I’m reading thru the gospels right now- you see a strange thing- Jesus is interacting with the religious crowd- enters the temple- goes to the synagogue- these are the ‘meeting places’ where all the religious elites of the day gather- they have a tradition where they meet once a week- read from their bibles [the Torah] and live these regulated religious lives- that never seem to touch the hurting world around them. Now Jesus comes on the scene and he gathers this rag tag bunch of guys- starts preaching and living in the streets, and yes- the hookers and the outcasts- they can’t get enough of him! As a matter of fact this is the very thing that ‘irks the hell’ out of the religious crowd- they say ‘look- everyone is listening to him’! Jesus came to seek and to save the lost- the N.Y. Tonies- the Poppa Paul’s- sure there are real risks involved- Jesus said ‘greater love has no man than this- that he would lay down his life for his friends’ damn- find some friends.
 THE HAIR TONIC DRINKERS! Okay, it’s time to tell the story. Recently I have had a few old friends join my Facebook page. One of them I met doing the rounds with the homeless guys in Corpus- he’s now doing well and has a place in Kingsville. My other buddy [David] has been a great friend for 25 years now. I met Dave [and all his brothers and sisters] thru my friendship with Dave’s dad- a drug addict for many years who died a while back. I used to preach to Dave’s dad at the county jail in Kingsville. Eventually when the guys got out of jail [or prison] they would join my little house church and their wives and kids made up the church. Most of the sons were around my age at the time and we became good friends. When I went thru my ‘backsliding phase’ well yes- I partied hard, snorted some Cocaine with the bro’s- got high- the whole routine. Yet these guys are still good friends today [absent the drugs!]. So I was like the only White boy in the whole group, most [all?] of the ‘church members’ were Mexican. So you know- your gonna kid each other ‘White boy’ ‘Wet Back’ in fun. Many of my friends have done lots of prison time- one buddy was real proud of being in the ‘Mexican Mafia’ [or Texas Syndicate?] while in prison- these are the gangs that ‘run the show’ in Texas jails. So the White brothers really don’t have the ‘power’ in the Texas gang scene. So I would kid Dave ‘hey bro, you know you Mexicans can’t handle the white boys’ [yes, I had some bad fights with some of the guys at times- when ‘backsliding’]. So one day Dave tells me the story of these 2 White boys- the Tonic drinkers. In prison you can get drugs and stuff- but if you didn’t have the money- you could catch a buzz by drinking Mouth Wash. So these White brothers figured ‘what the heck, lets down this bottle of hair tonic’ yes, they almost killed themselves! So whenever I would bring up the Mexicans not being able to handle the White boys, Dave would reply ‘What! You mean you tonic drinking @$#%’. I can’t believe I posted this to my Blog!
- SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT- The other day I caught a documentary on Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. They arose out of the Seattle grunge scene [music] and Kurt’s group, Nirvana, became one of the most popular groups of the day. Kurt would eventually stick a shotgun in his mouth and pull the trigger. Courtney’s all female group [Hole- ouch!] survives till this day and she has been successful in lots of ways. The documentary covered the theory that Courtney had Kurt killed; they interviewed friends and stuff- one of Kurt’s best friends, who rejects the theory- Kurt was always suicidal- said how one time Kurt was on the phone, trying to ‘score’ some Heroin- and he says ‘hey, don’t tell Courtney’ and at the same time Courtney calls on the other line to get some stuff- she says ‘don’t tell Kurt’. Sad. Many years ago when I first started doing bible studies at the jails I became friends with a lot of Heroin addicts, these guys were around 20 years older than me- but they were caught in the cycle and in their mid 40’s things were catching up. Eventually these guys made up the core group of the church I would start. Their wives and kids made up the church. Eventually I would become good friends with their sons, who were closer to my age; these guys were all on Cocaine. So it seemed strange that Kurt was hooked on heroin- in these parts that’s the drug of the older generation [my sister has been a Heroin addict for as long as I can remember]. I was reading 2nd Timothy chapter 4 the other day- Paul tells Timothy ‘when things get rough, ride it out like the rest of us! Taking it on the chin like Jesus’ [Message version]. The King James says ‘endure hardness as a good soldier for Christ’. Timothy was a protégée’ of Paul, like Titus- Paul wrote 3 letters to these spiritual sons [1st, 2nd Timothy- Titus] they are contained in the New Testament. We read about Timothy’s relationship to Paul in the book of Acts, Paul had a little controversy over how he was preaching to the Gentiles [a technical argument over whether or not to circumcise Gentile converts] and Timothy came from a diverse family, father was a Greek, Mother was Jewish- so for some technical reasons Paul winds up having Timothy circumcised [long story- read it in Acts]. Anyway when Paul writes his letters to Timothy he commends him on the faith that was passed down to him by his mother and grandmother [Eunice, Lois] but he makes no mention of Timothy’s father- it seems as if Timothy might have grown up without a father figure? So that’s why Paul steps in and encourages his young friend ‘ be strong son, there are going to be some very hard times- your gonna need to take it like a man [as Sharon Angle told harry Reid in the debate the other night- MAN UP HARRY!]. Paul knew this race was tough, and he knew young Timothy had some tough days ahead- he was prepping him for the journey. As I watched the documentary on Cobain, at one point they played a phone message that Kurt left on the answering machine of some author who was writing a critical book on Courtney. Kurt called her [because of Courtney’s prodding] and threatened her not to write too critical of a book on Courtney- Kurt says ‘look, I’m already at the end of the road, so believe me- don’t write the damn book!’ As gifted as Kurt was, his demons would eventually catch up with him. Paul also said to Timothy ‘this is the reason I’m sticking it out in this place, so all the other people that still need to get in on it will have a chance’. God has called us to help ‘other people get in on it’ part of the process is being able to ride out the storm [Morrison].
 I have this habit of writing [the little paintbrush type deal] bible verses all over the yard; on the fence, gazebo, the back of the house, everywhere. Now to be honest my yard does look good, I have it looking like a mini park- paths and all- people have complemented me on it over the years; but yes, the bible verse thing- well my wife and kids tell me it’s tacky. Hey, I don’t care- the house is paid for- I’m gonna do what the ‘heck’ I want. After all, who do I need to impress, a bunch of homeless friends? So one day I had one of my homeless buddies over, we usually hang out in the yard, he’s a believer and does like the verses and all- but he tells me ‘you know brother, if you used some stencils it would look a little better’ [I paint freestyle!] Geez, maybe the wife was right.
- THE GREAT SUPPER- These last few weeks I have felt kind of swamped; I have had some friends [guys I am/was working with in ministry stuff] come by and they are doing well, they wanted to hook up with me in the things the Lord is doing with them. Yet as much as I wanted to get involved [halfway house, fellowship in Kingsville] I just seemed to be unable to ‘get out of the city’. Then I launched my facebook site and it has been great- lots of old friends that I have wanted to contact for years are now keeping in touch, but some felt kind of offended [the Christian thing and all] and I got mad that I have prayed for some of these friends for 30 years and when the ‘supper was ready’ they had no time to sit at the table! In Luke 14 Jesus tells the story of a man that made this great meal [God] and at suppertime [Galatians- when the right time came God sent forth his Son] the master sent forth his servant and invited all the intended guests to come and eat- I mean the meal was free of charge for heaven’s sake! Yet they responded with excuses- one said ‘I just bought some land, sorry’ another ‘I bought some cattle- can’t make it’ the last one said ‘just got married, wife won’t let me come’ [okay, he’s got a legitimate excuse- sorry]. So when the servant came back and told the master what happened, the master got angry ‘what, I have been preparing this meal for years- everything is ready, it’s good food’. So he quickly sends the servant back out and he goes and gets all the poor homeless bums [sound familiar?] and they fill the house with these guys. He then tells the servant ‘none of those guys who rejected me will eat from the table’. I found it interesting that after the initial rejection the master made a compelling urgent appeal to the others- it’s like the rejection was needed in order for the urgency of the situation to be seen. When I first started posting on old classmates type sites, I simply shared the web site in my profile, but I really didn’t ‘urgently’ post stuff, figured if people are interested they will visit the site. But when I realized some people will not ‘come to the table’ I felt an urgency and went ballistic! I mean I began posting like a bat out of hell! Sometimes it takes stuff to wake us up- to make us reconsider the way we are operating and change some stuff. To all my friends who came by the house, to those who have tried to get in touch- I realize that I can’t personally be involved with all the various good projects you are all doing- I am going to try this week to make it to the halfway house and hopefully make a trip to Kingsville; but I just want to let everybody know that I am rooting for them, praying regularly for them [by name!] and am real excited about some of the old friends who have recently joined the conversation. Oh, and to those of you who had excuses, well I guess you guys will find another table to eat at.
 PETER CANTU WILL DIE IN A FEW HOURS FROM NOW- It’s early right now [4:45 am] got up around 2:30 and did some early praying. I never heard of Peter before, last week I read that he would be put to death today, so as my custom goes- I pray for the guys the last few days of their lives. I actually thought he was to die yesterday, but I saw a short clip of him on the news last night, today’s the big day. Peter was in some gang and he and a few buddies killed and raped a young girl, they too were young at the time. The other guys have already been executed. I in no way want to dismiss the tragic event for the family that lost their daughter; I just made it a habit to pray for the death row guys a while back. I guess being condemned to the point where society says ‘the only thing we can do for you is execute you’ is hitting the bottom point in life. Jesus said whosever commits sin becomes the servant of sin; sin is a destructive force that manifests itself not only in the violence towards the victim, but also in the life of the criminal. I have also been praying for a few other men who have recently been in the news for various crimes, they were all given long/life sentences. Pray for the victims’ families, pray for the people who have been taken in bondage by sin; Jesus did not come into the world to condemn men, but to save them. I watched the story of Gary Ridgeway, a serial killer. They showed clips from his trial and actual footage from the court. As the victims’ families made angry statements at Ridgeway, one man said ‘I forgive you for what you have done’. Ridgeway broke down and cried at that point. I realize that it would be very hard to see these men thru a lens of compassion and mercy, but that’s how God views them. This is not to say that they should not face judgment for their crimes, it’s just that we should be able to tell them ‘I forgive you, God forgives you’ before they die.
- GIVE TO THE POOR AND YOU WILL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN- The other day I was talking to someone about the story in Luke chapter 12; the rich man whose farms were producing a lot and he said to himself ‘I will tear down my barns and build greater ones and say to my soul ‘soul, you have much goods for many years’- Jesus said the man would die that night and then who will get his stuff? Later on in the chapter Jesus says ‘give alms [charity- helping the poor] and you will have treasure in heaven that thieves won’t be able to touch’. As I shared the story I asked the person if they ever thought about how many times the New Testament relates giving by giving to the poor. The famous verse that most teachers use to teach ‘tithing on Sunday’ is 1st Corinthians 16, in actuality Paul is telling the believers at Corinth to take up an offering FOR THE POOR! We simply do not normally see what these verses are saying at face value. I could go on for a long time and show you how this very reality- that the majority of verses in the bible that speak about being faithful stewards [faithful givers] teach it in the context of giving to the poor. Yet the average believer today feels like if he gives 10% of his income on Sunday, that somehow he is fulfilling the mandate of Jesus. I want to encourage you today, as you read thru the bible, pay attention to this very thing- go back and read all the verses that you currently use as ‘tithing’ verses, and see whether or not they are speaking about charitable giving, you will be surprised at the outcome.
- MICHAEL- Michael is a homeless friend that I met many years ago; his family was in the Navy and he wound up living on the streets after they moved on. Michael is one of the guys that has obvious mental issues. He is smart and talented, he does great art work- but you can tell that something has happened to him along the road of life. It seems as if he might have had a ‘bad trip’ on acid or meth at one point in his life. He reminds me of myself in a way, having had some bad experiences with acid when I was younger. Over the years I would run into Michael at different stages of the journey, he would eventually buy a junk car- it ran and served its purpose. He worked as a dishwasher for a while. The last time I saw Michael he had gotten an apartment with subsidized housing, he seemed to be doing well. Michael also did tattoos, he would show me some of the art he would draw for the tattoos- he even made some firefighter stuff after he met me. He like drawings that had to do with fire fighting. The reason I mentioned Michael today is because I had a dream about him earlier and felt led to pray for him. Michael is a good friend; he actually came by the house a few times over the years. You could tell that he normally would not ‘talk religion’ but we became real friends and every now and then he would either say something or show me some art that had to do with the Lord- sort of out of a courtesy to me. It’s important to make some friends along the way, not just people you are targeting for conversion, but real friends. After they get to know you as a real person they will feel comfortable enough to ask you things about God, things that they always wanted to ask but were afraid to ask. Jesus said we should love our neighbor as our self, go find a neighbor.
- ‘THE WORDS THAT I SPEAK ARE NOT MY OWN, BUT THE FATHER THAT DWELLS IN ME- HE DOES THE WORK’ Jesus Christ. In John 14 Jesus tells his men that he and the Father will manifest themselves unto them; they ask ‘how will you manifest yourself unto us and not unto the world’? Jesus responds that those who love him will keep his commandments, and to these he will come and dwell with them by the Spirit. The world [unbelievers] have no thirst for this. Of course the question would be ‘which commandments’? Most of us are familiar with the big 10; others see certain Christian practices as the most important- going to church on Sunday, tithing, etc. The writer of this gospel [John] also wrote the 3 smaller letters [1st, 2nd, 3rd John]. John seems to see the law of love as the supreme commandment, of course he gets this from Jesus own words. Jesus at one time was asked what the greatest commandment was, and he replied ‘to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and might’ and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Did Jesus just pick this out of the air? No, he was actually quoting the person that the Jews looked to as the great law giver- Moses. Moses, the man famous for receiving the 10 commandments at the hand of God, yes he was the one who had such a grasp of the character of God that he was able to sum up the 10 commandments as these 2 universal laws. When we love God and our neighbor we will be put in a ‘place’ where God will speak to us- when we live in true community we will see and experience God thru one another. A while back I had a friend who began hanging out with me and some of the homeless guys- he too was homeless. He didn’t look the part, always clean shaven, worked regularly, but yet he was homeless. My friend had some background with the Lord, he knew the bible and it was easy to see that he had been a believer for many years. At the time I had just finished reading Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity- the book stirred up a controversy and I was careful to whom I would recommend it. But I knew Robert had expressed some of these beliefs in the past and I thought he would like it. He read it and did like it, but one day he emailed me and asked ‘do you know where I could find an ‘organic’ church to join’? He made the mistake of thinking he could find true community in some meeting, that is if he found ‘the church’ with the right answers [concerning organic church] that he would then attend these church meetings [as opposed to the institutional church] and then he would have arrived. What my friend was missing was the fact that much of the daily community things we were doing at the time- getting together as a group of friends, sharing the word at certain times, and yes, having meetings every so often- that the actual daily helping of one another and identifying as believers was in itself a true expression of community. Jesus told his men that when they loved God, and each other, that it was in that environment that God would reveal himself to them. John himself would later write ‘how can you say you love God, who you cannot see, if you don’t love your brother who you can see’? I fear we live in a day where other things have taken precedence over the value of ‘our brother’. We have our political ideas, our theological slants, our ‘better’ beliefs than the church down the bock- and these things become the main thing to us, often at the expense of truly loving our brother. Jesus was giving us the words of God, not men. He quoted the great lawgiver of the Old Testament; the main ‘philosopher’ of the Jew of his day- if Moses said it, then surely it must be so.
 A BALL CAP- A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the death of one of my homeless friends. His name was Bill. Over the years I would get with Bill often and we would hit all the buffets in town, I have done this hundreds of times with my homeless friends and they love it. A few years ago the mission where I meet lots of the guys held a fundraiser; they had someone paint a beautiful oil painting of Bill at the homeless camp. It looks fantastic. The artist donated it to sell, and someone bought it and gave it to the mission. I always thought when Bill passes away I will ask if they would to sell it to me. To be honest I hoped that they would just give it to me being I donate lots of time and money to the guys; the mission has people on salary who are making money and all- I spend my own money helping the homeless. So any way the other day I was at the mission and I figured it was time to make the request. I went to the office of the lady who is in charge; there on her wall was the prized possession. I introduced myself to her and explained to her who I was and why she has seen me at the mission for years; she thought I was simply one of the crowd [good!]. But this day I had to explain my ministry to her, I was hoping to get the painting. As I talked with her I realized that she simply was doing a job, as I told her how me and Bill were good friends and I have spent many years and hours with Bill, she accidently spoke bad about Bill. She simply expressed the same view that many people ‘in the world’ have expressed. Basically that Bill was lazy and dirty. I know she did not realize that I was coming to the table as a friend and witness for the homeless- over the years many of the homeless have been treated with disdain by the workers at the missions. You have a few people that the homeless like and appreciate, but you have many workers/volunteers that seem to be doing it out of a guilty conscience or a job; these often express disdain towards the homeless and the homeless pick this up. So as I talked with ‘Kay’, seeing the painting of my friend on the wall, I realized she was not going to sell me the painting [I did not ask for it for free- though I felt this would have been a fair thing to do being I have spent so much time and money personally helping Bill!]. I then found a way to cut the small talk and get back with ‘the population’. These last few weeks I have had truck problems, I have had to pick it up from a tow yard- take it to a mechanic, and work on it myself. All thru this ordeal I kept noticing some red ball cap that was getting thrown all over the truck as I was messing around with it. I thought ‘geez, I should just throw this old cap out’. Then I realized it was an old super bowl cap that belonged to Bill- Bill was a football fanatic, he loved the Cowboys. I thought to myself, geez; let me hang this cap up as a reminder of my good friend Bill. I didn’t obtain the prized panting of Bill, but I have this red cap hanging right over my head as a good reminder of a friend who is in a better place right now.
- TRIBUTE TO BILL AND A WEDDING. This week my oldest daughter got married; they rented the beautiful Texas state aquarium [the official aquarium of Texas located here in Corpus] and they had a wonderful celebration. At first I thought they were just renting out a room/area, but they had the whole aquarium! It was really nice. I also heard some sad news; one of the homeless guys passed away. I new Bill since 1992, out of all the homeless brothers I took Bill out to eat the most- hundreds of times over the years, without exaggeration. Bill used to visit Corpus as a boy when his dad took him and his family to the ocean on the weekends. They lived in Dallas and Corpus was their vacation spot. Over the years Bill would come back and eventually marry and move his family down here. He had some hard luck and eventually wound up on the streets. He lived here in an area where I live, a part of town called Flour Bluff. Lots of homeless guys hang out in this area, my neighborhood is nice, right next to the water [Gulf of Mexico] but because of the close location to the beaches lots of transients gravitate here. Bill was a good friend, every now and then I would talk to Bill about the Lord, but it was more from a friendship angle and not from a religious ‘witnessing’ approach. Bill knew the gospel and did show signs that the Lord was working in his life. Bill was in his 70’s and they could not find any next of kin, I think they cremated his body. I didn’t find out about his passing until a month or so after he died, often times that’s how you hear- word of mouth type thing. These last few years I did not get with Bill as much as I would have liked- but even if I didn’t see him for months, yet as soon as we would get together it was like no time passed. He was truly a good friend. I have a little ‘memorial wall’ here in my study; I started writing the names of friends and family when they pass on, I have saved a few funeral cards on this wall too. The bible says ‘Lord, teach us to number our days so we would apply our hearts to wisdom’ [my paraphrase] James says the days of man are like a vapor, which appears for a little while and then is gone; or like grass which grows up in the morning and is cut down in the evening. I danced with my daughter to the song ‘Cinderella’ by Steven Curtis Chapman. He wrote the song about his adopted foreign child, she was young and Steven wrote it to remind himself how short our time can be; life goes on fast and before you know it your Cinderella is married and gone. Part of the song says ‘I will dance with Cinderella while she is here in my arms, because I know something the prince never knew’ and then the song goes on to say before too long she’ll be gone. Soon after Steven wrote the song his little daughter was accidently run over by her brother, she died too soon. The song became a prophetic witness to the death of his daughter. I gave away my daughter and lost a good friend, lets number [count] our days so we might realize that we only have so many and that we might live them for the glory of God.
(1433) THE LAZY WILL NOT WORK BECAUSE OF THE COLD, THEREFORE WILL HE BEG IN THE HARVEST TIME AND HAVE NOTHING- Proverbs 20:4 Out of all the writings I have done about the poor and homeless, over 99% is pro homeless. But every so often I need to deal with the other side. A while back I met a new homeless friend here in Corpus, his name was Nick and he seemed like a nice guy. Nick was from out of state and the rumor was that he might have been hiding from the law for some reason. Nick was around 30 or so, had a decent truck and was an able bodied person. But over time I realized his problem was he did not want to work. Now there are guys I know who are hopeless drunks, good guys, but these are the ones you usually see begging with the signs. Most of the others actually do work, and many times people pick them up at the homeless spots for jobs. But Nick just did not want to work. At first he seemed to put on a good impression, he would talk about different schemes to make money, he was smart. He even told one of the other guys ‘I’ll pick you up early in the morning and we’ll go down to the shrimp docks and make some money’ he told my buddy that he picked him because these other bumbs don’t want to work! Sure enough Nick never showed up, my buddy saw him at the mission and said ‘hey, I was waiting all morning for you’ Nick made some excuse about driving up and down the block and never spotting him, you could tell it was a story. Nick also hung out with another older drunk who was good at begging, he was sickly and you felt sorry for the man, people would give him money- Nick saw this as a good way to get some cash. One day he showed up at the mission after a few weeks of doing some painting job, his girlfriend, who was homeless too, put pressure on him to work and they both started painting. Then lo and behold Nick showed up with his arm in a sling, he even had the x-rays to show everyone how he broke his arm when some college kids stole his ice chest at the beach and he reached in and grabbed it out of their car and broke his arm. No cast, and the x-rays to prove it! I didn’t even bother to look at the x-rays, which Nick seemed to want everyone to see, to prove it was true. One day I saw Nick on the other side of town holding a sign for money, he looked like a normal healthy guy asking for cash. I had a friend tell me ‘hey, I saw some guy begging for money at the Wal Mart, he looked like he was able to work’ sure enough it was Nick. The point today is sometimes it’s our fault, if people don’t want to work during the years of their youth, when they are young and healthy, then they will beg during harvest and have nothing. Paul the apostle rebuked those who did not want to work, but caused trouble; he said they should not eat! So we need to distinguish between those who are truly in need and those who are in rebellion, Jesus said some people were following him because they knew they could get a free meal [John’s gospel] as believers we need to be discerning, we also need to help those who are truly in need, we can’t put all the homeless in the category of Nick, but every now and then you will run across a Nick.
(1431) HE THAT HAS PITY ON THE POOR LENDS UNTO THE LORD, AND THAT WHICH HE HAS GIVEN WILL BE REPAID BY GOD. Proverbs 19:17 The other day I read an interview by an author who attended Liberty University [Falwell’s bible school] as an undercover atheist, she was on assignment to see behind the scenes of evangelical Christians. She wrote her book and some of the insights are helpful for believers to see some of our blind spots. One thing that struck me was her criticism of how Christians talk about ‘giving to God’ she found it odd that to the majority of believers; they equated ‘giving to God’ with giving to their churches. She found it strange that believers seemed to make no difference between the 2. She also noted how when she asked believers about whether or not the church was responsible in the finances; that if this made a difference when speaking of giving to God. Most believers told her that it was their responsibility to put in the offering/tithe, and that they would not be personally responsible for the decisions of the leaders. I have always found it strange that in the bible, giving to God is primarily expressed thru meeting the needs of people, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, etc. and yet most believers do view giving to God as giving money to ‘the church’ or to a ministry. Jesus said things like ‘if you did not help the least of these, you did not help me’ and the above verse speaks of lending to God when we help the poor. I wonder if we will give an account to God someday for the fact that the majority of Christian funds in the American church are used to build/create comfortable environments for us to meet in? We spend most of our money on ourselves, and we do call this ‘giving to God’. Now many churches and ministries are doing a good work, sending missionaries out, helping the poor, etc. It’s just we as individual believers seem to think that this gets us off the hook. The bible says if we see a person in need and do not help, how dwelleth the love of God in us? There are many direct portions of scripture that say these things, most of the time we do not associate giving to God with what the bible actually teaches. We have developed unbiblical concepts on what the ‘storehouse’ in Malachi means, and we take this skewed idea of the storehouse and apply it to the meeting places of believers, and then we say ‘the tithe belongs to the storehouse’ it’s too much to do the whole thing right now, but I want to challenge you, are we overlooking actual direct commands of Jesus in scripture? Do we make the mistake of equating giving to God with putting money in an offering plate? I’m glad the author went undercover and gave us a glimpse into our own shortcomings, we could learn from her insights.
(1426) ‘You brought us into the net, you laid affliction upon us; you caused men to ride over our heads, we went thru fire and water; but you also brought us out into a wealthy place’ Psalms 66:11-12. Yesterday I mailed off a letter to a child hood buddy who is doing time in prison. We grew up as little hoodlums, he was Greek Orthodox, I Roman Catholic- but the only ecumenical act we ever engaged in was jointly taking the Lords name in vain. This last year he has been in touch with me, I have written and been a friend. This last letter he asked if I could give a shout out to him by name and also to all the brothers in Rahway prison; his buddies think he’s making it up that we were friends as kids. He has lost all- family, business, home- he is going thru depression and all, but I am encouraging him to get with the other brothers and read and pray, I am printing relevant sections from my blog and sending them as well. I stuck a bunch of my ministry cards in the last letter and he obviously gave them to some Christian brothers from the ‘free world’ who have access to computers and stuff, that’s why they wanted the shout out. The guys in prison do not have access to the internet. If you want to write him, his address is ‘ James Dalskov 558763 lock bag R Rahway, N.J. 07065’. Sometimes in life we wind up in situations where we feel like we are in a net, others ‘ride over us’ being told what to do and what not to do. Going from the free world into these types of environments can be tuff. But God can also use these experiences to do things in us that we never thought possible. At the end of the above verse it says when the process was over ‘He brought us out into a wealthy place’. I also got an email yesterday from one of our original guys who used to be a mainline addict, spent many years doing robberies and spending years in prison; he has been out for a long time and been clean for many years. He was letting me know that one of our other brothers just moved to Corpus and wanted to get a hold of me. I gave him the cell #, but those of you who know me realize that getting in touch with me by phone is next to impossible; I never answer my phone unless I recognize the number. The point today is God wants all of us to interact with society, the lost ones! The religion of Jesus day was centered on religious performance and ritual; though the concepts of justice and reaching out to the poor and needy were engrained in the Mosaic law, yet for some reason this priority was lost to tradition. Jesus would quote the famous verse from the prophet Isaiah about the Spirit being on him to do justice. When questioned about his legitimacy ‘are you the one or look we for another’ he replied in social justice terms ‘the poor have the gospel preached, the dead are raised’ etc. The proof of his ordination was not being licensed by the religion of the day, but the proof was the works of justice that he did. Leaders, what is the environment that surrounds you? Is most of your life spent on a preaching platform or stage? Are you rarely in the environment that Jesus and his men were surrounded by? The leaders of Jesus day were offended by his closeness to the world, the crowd he hung with, the prostitutes who wiped his feet with their tears; this whole scenario was unacceptable to the religious class of the day. The only time they referenced the hurting in prayer was when they said ‘Thank you God that we are not like them’ they spent their lives in a net, a religious place of bondage, many of them never came out into the wealthy place.
(1401) GLENN BECK- Okay, this past week Beck stirred up a controversy by telling people that if their churches use language like ‘social justice’ that you should leave the church. Beck showed how many of the liberal movements of the past, both inside and outside the church, used this language and also were socialist. Is Beck right to warn people about this? 50-50. In reality most Christian churches [if not all] have some belief about social justice, that is doing good, being charitable, etc. You also have strains of theology that touch on these issues [liberation theology, Rev. Wrights church, etc.] these see the role of the church in setting up systems that would mediate ‘social justice’ programs thru the state- not all Christians accept this premise. Overall we as believers should value social justice very highly on the scale of Christian service and belief. Beck seems to mean well, but the poor brother seems to be a little unhinged at times [like between 4 pm and 5pm every day or so]. In John 16 Jesus tells his men ‘a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are serving God’. Here in is a strange thing; out of all the commands of God, one of the most important ones is not to kill. But Jesus says that men are so susceptible to the influence of the world that they can even be convinced that killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’. Now, if I were to tell you at a young age ‘little Johnny, you will walk the planet for a few short years [70-80?] one of the most important things you need to avoid, more than anything else, is don’t kill other people’ got it- I mean how hard can this be? Yet Jesus says there will come a time when people think killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’ Huh? Okay as the year’s role by people all over the world are born and have been taught some version of this natural law, often given by their own belief system in God. So you have those in Islamic countries who eventually are shaped by their nations political causes and a time comes when they blowup other adherents to their own religion and shout ‘God is great’ as they kill themselves and others with them, they think they are doing ‘God service’. But you also have little Johnny growing up in the western world, he attends church as a boy, is taught lessons from the bible, and thru process of time joins the military. He is a good man, means well, and is taught that God and country go together. He even remembers attending some patriotic religious rallies over the years. He gets sent off to Afghanistan and winds up killing a woman with child. He either mistook her for an enemy combatant, or maybe she violated a safe zone. Either way, the one main command above all other commands, the thing that you were always told was the main thing to never do, you wind up doing. You even think that it is your patriotic duty to do this, yes you think the doing of this act is not only acceptable, but in a way it is ‘doing God service’. Now, as an ex Navy person, I support and believe in our military men and women, and in no way equate the act of a terrorist with that of our people; but what I am trying to show you is that as we go through life we can become effected by ideologies that are in conflict to our base principles, we can even do things that violate our most fundamental ideals, and be convinced that doing it is from God. When dealing with all types of social justice issues, we need to put Gods will first and foremost, above all other things. The message of Gods kingdom often runs contrary to the nations and governmental systems we espouse. When we confuse the two [whether the Christian patriot who chooses a career that may involve killing people] or the radical Muslim who confuses Gods will with the advancing of his political ideas, we need to re-evaluate our motives and think things thru before we embrace any world kingdom over Gods kingdom. Beck obviously had a point about the radical liberation theologians and their mixing of liberal politics with ‘church’, but Gods kingdom is all about social justice. Isaiah prophesied of the Spirit coming upon Jesus- to carry out social justice!
(1400) IF I HADN’T DONE WHAT I HAVE DONE AMONG THEM, WORKS NO ONE HAS EVER DONE, THEY WOULDN’T BE TO BLAME. BUT THEY SAW THE GOD SIGNS AND HATED ANYWAY… THEY HATED ME FOR NO GOOD REASON- John 15, message bible.
This is the chapter where Jesus tells us he is the vine and we are the branches; the father is the main gardener. If we remain-abide in him we will bring forth fruit, if we do not ‘remain in him’ we are cut off and burned. In Johns other writings [1st John] he speaks about those who did not remain in the doctrine of Christ, they went out ‘from us, but were really not with us’. John was speaking of the Gnostic/Docetist groups that would reject the incarnation of Jesus; these did not ‘remain in him’. Also what about the immediate circle of disciples that Jesus was speaking to, did any of them ‘not remain’? Judas would also reject Christ, and Jesus said he too was not really a part of them from the start. In the above quote Jesus challenges the religious leaders of the day by doing the works that he did. The religion of the day viewed God’s will as religious performance, public praying on the street corners, fasting ‘to be seen’, their mindset was one of public performance. Jesus put priority on doing acts of justice, reaching out to the poor, spending time with the down and out, and also rejecting the ‘crowd pleasing’ mentality of the day. In John’s gospel his brothers tell him ‘go up to the public feast and show thyself, no man who does these things secretly will not eventually go public’ they thought there was something strange about his unwillingness to ‘go public’. I have often found it strange that we as believers put such a high priority on ‘public meetings-ministry’ to the point where we really believe that this is the main part of Christianity. A few years back I visited/stayed with some brothers in Europe, they ran a Christian community where they all lived and helped each other out [addicts and stuff]. I spent about a week with them and it was great, I immediately saw the work as a legitimate expression of ‘local church’ [Ecclesia] I even defended them to others who were saying ‘they are not church’. During the week I spent with them, the main leader of the group was just beginning to rent another building so they could ‘do church’. I went to a few of the meetings and it was okay. The point being they kind of felt like the public meetings were ‘really church’ and the actual community was ‘Para church’ a very limited view indeed. The same thing has happened with many well meaning churches/ministries thru out the years. Jesus put a priority on things that the religious crowd deemed ‘non legitimate’ they would ask him ‘where are you getting your authority from, who gave you this authority’? In today’s jargon it might be said ‘who’s covering are you under, what ‘local church’ has legitimized you’. We often err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. Jesus put such a high priority on social justice, reaching out to the poor and needy, speaking out for the widow and oppressed. This same theme runs thru out the entire teaching of the New Testament. Very little time is spent on the idea of public meetings/ministry. Yet we have exalted the idea of church and ministry to the point where we see public performance as the main thing, that’s what we usually regulate our lives around. Jesus told the religious crowd that he came and did all the things that Gods kingdom was really about [helped the poor, raised the dead, etc.] Yet they found fault with him, they fulfilled the scriptures that said ‘they hated me for no good reason’ do the things we do have good reasons, or are we just following the crowd?
-(1391) NO MAS [SA]! Back in the 70’s us boxing fans were treated to one of those so called ‘super fights’ you know, a matchup between greats. Roberto Duran faced Sugar Ray Leonard. A few rounds into the fight Duran got so frustrated that he walked out of the ring while chanting ‘NO MAS’. Yesterday a Democratic congressman from N.Y. – by the name of Massa- resigned his seat and went on the war path against his own party. It seems like he has a history of making racy comments to other men, but his excuse for being rail roaded is that he voted against Obama Care. It’s quite sad, he is making the rounds [today he’ll be on Beck] and he’s describing all these encounters with the administrations men, he says they approached him in the showers at the gym, wearing nothing, and he describes Rahm Emanuel’s ‘tush’. He seems like he can’t escape language that pits him up against other men, while nude! All of this wouldn’t be so tragic if it weren’t happening to the most ethical congress in U.S. history! Plus, it really stains N.Y. politics, I bet Spitzer and Patterson can’t even sleep at night. Okay, in John chapter 9 Jesus heals a man that was blind from birth, the disciples ask him ‘who did sin, this man or his parents, that caused this man’s plight’? Jesus said neither, but this happened so the works of God could be manifested in him. This might be the most important verse in the chapter. This man and his family lived many years with the insinuation that they must have been children of a lesser God, sure their neighbors didn’t come right out and say it, but you could sure feel the underlying accusation. Now, the news makes it to the religious crowd and they find out he was healed on the Sabbath, a big no no, a real ‘No Mas’ moment. They question the man and his family, they can’t escape the fact that this is a real miracle, so they try and convince the man that he should thank God for the miracle, but this Jesus is not authentic. The more they question him, the more he becomes a vocal advocate for Jesus. Finally at one point the religious leaders get fed up and they say ‘who are you to teach us anything, YOU WERE ALL TOGETHER BORIN IN SIN!’ There it is, that underlying accusation that he always felt from the religious crowd- you know, the group who always had their act together, they prided themselves in their upper class status ‘thank God that I am not like this beggar’ type of thing. But now, at the moment of truth, they blurt it out ‘Look at you, your whole life has been a testimony of your utter worthlessness, sure we never said it openly, but we always felt that way’ so the truth came out. I had a good friend a few years ago, New York Tony, he was a homeless brother that came from my home turf, never knew him from the north, but ran into him while making the rounds. Tony was a good friend, hooked on Coke and Crack, but a hard worker and Army vet. Tony used to always question why he was like the way he was, he was adopted and he thought maybe his real mom passed something off to him- was he like this because of what he did, or what his parents did? In the religious world we often create mindsets that say to people ‘surely if you were right with God, these things wouldn’t have happened to you’ we often violate the mandate from James ‘Don’t despise the poor’. At the end of the chapter Jesus tells the man that he came into the world to make the blind see, and the ‘seers’ blind. The religious leaders would find no help until they got to the end of their rope, the point where they could say ‘No Mas’ to the road they were on, but instead they said to Jesus ‘No Mas’.
(1384) YOU’RE NO EINSTEIN! A few weeks back my wife was getting on me for looking like a homeless guy, she tells me ‘John, why don’t you cut your hair- at least brush it’ and I responded ‘Einstein let his hair grow out’- the response ‘your no Einstein’. Humility is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving. Okay, seriously I have become a little messy these last few years. I am feeling okay physically though I realize all things are not well. About a year [actually a few years] ago I noticed some physical signs that probably needed to be checked out, but I had just lost my health insurance and finally went on line and did the best with what I had. At the same time there were days where I would get off of work and barely be able to walk [back problems] and would go to the homeless mission to see the brothers and some of them are in there 20’s, doing much better than me, and yet they are on Social Security, getting medical stuff for free, and I couldn’t even get the darn VA clinic to check me out! [I was in the navy, and my wife also. Tried but failed to get approved for the clinic]. So I guess after a while you get frustrated. Okay, in John chapter 2 Jesus turns the water into wine. The governor of the wedding drinks it and says ‘wow, most people serve the best stuff first, and after everyone is feeling good- then he sets out the cheap stuff. But you have saved the best for last’. Of course we know this is a story that speaks about the New Covenant in Jesus Blood being better than the old, but the point I want to make is this governor testified about Jesus and he didn’t even know it. Later on after the leaders draw up their personal opinions of him, they will not give him the credit for ‘the good wine’ they will find all sorts of reasons to demean him, but those who simply got a taste of the wine said ‘wow, that’s some of the best ever’. Do you [I] have a tendency to reject the ‘wine’ because we have already pre judged the source? Have people ever approached you and said ‘hey, did you hear that brothers teaching, it’s really good’ and yet you felt offended because ‘that brother’ might have hit a nerve or 2 along the way. Jesus turned the water into wine, not just any wine, but some of the best stuff on the planet. Many wouldn’t access it because they were offended by his straight forward approach- they even said of John the Baptist that he had strange eating habits [locusts!] and looked a little shabby [camels hair wardrobe]. Don’t let the personal animosities keep you from the good wine, people are going to drink it whether you like it or not, might as well get in on it while there’s still some time left.
(1345) BUT BEFORE FAITH CAME, WE WERE KEPT UNDER THE LAW,SHUT UP UNTO THE FAITH THAT WOULD AFTERWARDS BE REVEALED- Galatians 3:23 Over the years I have grown in my understanding of ‘church/ministry’ and have come to see that God requires of us to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly’- that is we often begin the Christian life [especially minister/pastor] with a bunch of noble goals and dreams and we become fixated on the finances and buildings and all the outward stuff that we think is needed to ‘reach the world’. All well meaning men with noble goals, but often times the whole thing devolves into ‘if these parishioners would be obedient and tithe 10 % of their income we could do great things’ and behind the scenes there begins to be an accusatory spirit by the leaders/pastors towards ‘these rebels’. As someone who does not receive offerings or money I have been freed from this whole scenario. Now, how does ‘faith come/ be revealed’? In contrast to the above picture, God will often speak to us and use us when we do not have the cart before the horse- when our time and efforts are not always consumed with building ‘our ministry’ or getting the funds needed for what we think is Gods purpose. In the parable of the great supper, Jesus says a man prepared this great meal/table and he sent his servant out at suppertime to call the guests, and out of the first 3 groups he goes to, 2 out of 3 couldn’t make it because they purchased stuff [land, livestock] then the master gets mad and sends him to the poor, blind and maimed [do justice] and there is still room so he is told to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. The point I want to make is those who were preoccupied with stuff missed the true riches, it’s not that they meant to be rebellious; it’s just the nature of the beast. I want to encourage all of our leaders to re-focus as the New Year begins, sure- you are going to have to deal with practical things [money, etc.] but don’t become so consumed with ‘the ministry’ that this becomes the driving factor of your life. I have had ‘minister friends’ who were always talking about, or trying to ‘build up the work’ some times when we would interact [run into each other] if I had a homeless guy they couldn’t wait until I would ‘lose’ the brother so we could talk ministry. I know they mean well, but they are so consumed with ‘the stuff’ they couldn’t see the true riches; they were missing the ‘great supper’ and didn’t even realize it. ‘In as much as you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto me’.
(1334) One of the most important finds of the 20th century was a little book called ‘the Didache’, it is either a first or 2nd century document that encapsulates a short instruction for new comers who wanted to be a part of the church. It is important because it gives us a glimpse of how the early Christians viewed the faith. For instance it puts much importance on caring for the poor and doing works of charity, it goes so far to speak about fasting for the purpose of saving up some extra money to feed the poor. It warns strenuously against greed, it calls people false prophets if they stick around town too long and ask for money. I mean it’s strong. It also shows us how disconnected we have become from what the early believers valued. Yesterday I had a good day with my homeless buddies; I ‘heard’ that Buck had died. Buck was a good friend who struggled with alcoholism, many of the guys drink, but Buck was what you would call a ‘falling down in the street’ drunk. But when he was sober he was a good guy. I guess he was around 60 or so. I remember one time he showed up at the homeless hangout and he was all beat up, black eyes and stuff. The story was he went thru an ‘initiation’ at the camp, 2 of the other guys ‘initiated’ him by beating the hell out of him and taking his wallet, Buck said it was a voluntary thing that he agreed to go thru for ‘protection’. I said that’s funny, we used to call that ceremony ‘getting mugged’. All in all Buck was an all right friend, with many struggles. He did attend the local street ‘church meetings’ and made attempts to go to some of the retreats they hold for the guys. I spent some time with Henry; he is a very knowledgeable brother who always asks great questions. I mean he knows the bible by heart, studies the original Greek and Hebrew meanings of the words, he is a real pro. He has been living in an old run down RV for a few months. The people let him stay in it and he does some work around the property. They have a beautiful horse and a bunch of fruit trees; I filled up a bag with lemons and had a good time fellowshipping with Henry. My friend John David has been clean for 6 months now and is living up in Austin, that was great to hear. John was addicted to Cocaine, I told you his story around 6 months ago [in the homeless section]. His other brother Andy went to Mexico, he’s the brother I lent one of my good study books to, O well. All in all the guys are doing as well as can be expected, it’s pretty cold right now, that’s why some of them come south for the winter. My good friend Dirk is back, I have known Dirk for 20 years, he lives in an old beat up van and survives on a disability check, he’s legally deaf. He is a good friend, he comes for the winters and heads back to Michigan in the summer, he really is homeless but tries to pass himself off [to the cops] as a retired tourist, it is funny. And old Roger has been in jail since last Christmas, he walked into HEB [grocery store] and saw Tommy Nichols [a cop who the locals hate] Roger has been arrested many times by Nichols and Roger was drunk and told him ‘I’ll kill all you cops’ they arrested him and charged him with making a terroristic threat, he’s still got some time to do. I want to encourage you guys; do you spend any time reaching out to the hurting? Maybe fast a day or 2 and send the money to the feed the children groups? I just renewed my own effort in sending money to the kids, I was reading Christianity today on line and the screen kept asking if I would send some money, I kept clicking it off and then realized I need to send some. So I started sending $22 a month, not much, but it helps. I just want to challenge all of us to become involved in some way, maybe you won’t make as many homeless friends as I have, that’s fine- but try and make at least one! Make an effort and see what the Lord will do, it will be well worth trying.
(1329) GALATIANS 2- Paul recounts his meeting with the apostles at Jerusalem; some feel he is talking about his first visit [Acts 11- before AD 50] others think he is discussing his Acts 15 meeting [right at around AD 50] I’m in the latter camp. Paul is basically telling the churches of Galatia that he already went thru this whole discussion with the main apostles at Jerusalem [Peter, James and John] and that they had already agreed that the Gentile believers did not need to get circumcised and come under the law in order to be saved. I do find it interesting that out of the 4 decrees that were made [read Acts 15] that the only one Paul recounts here is ‘to remember the poor’. The only decree worthy enough for Paul to recount is the one on charitable giving; those of you who have followed this blog for a while know how much I emphasize this point. If the early church was teaching tithing to the Gentile churches, surely it would have come up at the Jerusalem meeting, but it didn’t. This chapter has some important verses that all believers should commit to memory ‘if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain’ ‘the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’ etc. I really want all my Catholic/Protestant readers to pay attention to the verse’s that I just quoted; the bible clearly teaches that if men could ‘be saved’ by keeping Gods law, then Christ died in vain. Paul will go on to teach [chapter 3] that if there had been a law given that could have given men eternal life, then ‘being saved’ would come that way; but he then goes on to say that there never was a law given that men could keep in order to be saved. Paul always gives the caveat ‘does this mean we go out and break the 10 commandments’? And his answer is always a big NO! The point of this chapter is we as believers are saved because Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin; the proof that the penalty was completely paid is in the fact that Jesus rose again [Romans 5]. All who believe in this reality are now the children of God, indeed ‘we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’.
(1302) Isaiah 58- This is one of the chapters that I quote from a lot when praying. God rebukes his people because they were fasting and practicing religious functions but were neglecting the ‘weightier matters of the law’. They forgot about the poor, doing justice and showing mercy, the same themes you hear in Jesus teaching. But God does say if his people will return to acts of charity, to lifestyles of humility and not trying to ‘get their voices to be heard’ [seeking fame and promotion] then he will exalt them, he will allow their ‘light to rise in obscurity’ [great influence with little personal fanfare and glorying over men]. We will be like ‘a well watered garden and a spring of water whose waters fail not’ God will cause us to ‘ride upon the high places of the earth’ [positions of influence]. This chapter is a great chapter, but it comes with some strong correction- if we heed the warnings the blessings will follow, but sometimes we keep looking for the blessing and never receive the correction, this my friends will never work.
(1292) I HAVE CREATED THE SMITH [blacksmith] THAT BLOWETH THE COALS IN THE FIRE AND BRINGS FORTH AN INSTRUMENT FOR HIS WORK, AND I HAVE CREATED THE WASTER TO DESTROY- Isaiah 54. God made the man who figured out if you get the steel hot enough you can shape it into a tool that will be effective. If God made the man who figured out this ingenious process, where do you think the man got the idea from? God will turn up the heat, so to speak, so he can re-shape some stuff in us. This last year I have tried to read up on some of the trends that go on in the world of Christianity. Sometimes I wonder if after all the great ideas, new ways of seeing things; lots of talk about the church needing to get back to social justice issues, all types of stuff I agree with, but at the end of the day I wonder how many of us are actually doing the stuff. Have we been duped into a system that enables articulators to have a forum, that produces a class of professional hearers of the articulators; but at the end of the day a great majority of us have not really been moved to act? Sort of like I can tell you how important it is to reach out to the poor and hurting, you might really belive me when I tell you this [in all sorts of ways- books, pulpit, etc.] but if all we have accomplished is to have come up with another subject to talk about, and for people to listen- then have we really accomplished anything? God wants ‘instruments’ for his work; tools that really function! It’s okay for the church to have great articulators and for people to have an attentive ear to hear- but it doesn’t stop there. After so much hearing and so much speaking, we then need some volunteers to get into the action! And this means more than just finding some ‘mission to the poor’ ministry that we can write a check to. I fear that the thing that’s lacking with most of us is the willingness to act, to get involved, to be the tool that actually works. Over the years I have bought tools that looked good, but were not well made. They might have been priced cheap, but they did not function well. Like buying the pens from the dollar store, what good is it if you got 50 pens for a dollar and none of them work? So in the kingdom God will often allow the heat to turn up because he wants to fashion some instruments that work, that do more than just speak or listen, but instruments that really get the job done. I have learned over the years that lots of people mean well, but if you want the job to get done you need people that don’t blame everything on others. People who are not professional victims, who find their whole identity in faulting others for their lot in life. I hired a guy to do a small job, to remove some wood from behind a rental house I owned years ago. It was maybe a 20 minute job, he had a truck. He was one of the guys I knew from working with addicts and ex-cons. I made the mistake of paying him the 25 dollars before the job was done. After a few weeks would pass I’d ask him ‘did you move the wood yet brother’? He would have some excuse why he didn’t do it. Finally I drove by the alley and saw the wood was gone. Great! I then found out that the renter got tired of the wood in the alley and hauled it off himself. We need people in the kingdom that act, that function and do what God tells them to do. We already have enough able articulators; enough people willing to buy the books and read about how the church should do more. We simply need some brothers who will actually move the wood.
(1264) 2nd KINGS 12- Joash institutes a process of restoring the temple that was broken down. Under the spiritual direction of Jehoiada the priest, he sets up a system [a box with a hole in the lid] where the people’s offerings would be ‘protected’ from the priests. The problem we see in this chapter is the priests were abusing the offerings that were set aside for ‘the house’. Now, they were being maintained by the Levitical offerings, they were getting a steady salary/support that was modest and commensurate with their service, but they went overboard in raiding the ‘household’ cash for personal profit. After they collected enough money for the repair of the house of God they gave it to the carpenters and workman to finish the job. These men contrasted the priestly ministry in that they used the money for actual building materials, they did not see it as simple compensation for being ministers. At the end of the chapter Joash is attacked by a foreign king and he takes all the riches that were in Gods house and gives it as a ransom to bribe the king to go away. This act is seen as disgraceful in the eyes of the ‘traditional generation’ and 2 of his servants kill him. Okay, there is a tension between the younger brothers [Emergent’s, contemporary expressions of ‘church’] and the older guys [Sproul, Macarthur, Colson, etc.] the younger guys are sincere, but at times seem to willing to ‘ransom out the goods in the temple’. That is along with the new style of church/ministry we need to be careful that we are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Also this chapter shows us that it was perfectly legitimate to meet the basic needs of the priests, but they sort of fell into a habit where all the resources were being used for personal benefit. Now we need to be careful here, in the New Testament ‘the house of God’ is the actual corporate community of people, not the buildings we meet in. So a better way to see this is that we need to be careful that the money and resources that are being given by Gods people are primarily used ‘for the building’- that is the actual people. In the New Testament over 90 % of the scriptures on giving do show us this. The majority of the actual money contributed went to meeting the actual needs of people. In today’s church world we do not follow this guideline at all. Many millions are spent on many things, but in comparison to the ‘actual house spending’ [on the real needs of poor people] we spend very little on real needs. So God used Joash to do some good, but when he came out from under the influence of true spiritual elders [Jehoiada] he desecrated the ‘holy things’ and lost the respect of the people. As we in the 21st century strive to be relevant as Gods people, we need also be sensitive to the ‘treasures in the house’ the ‘old time’ classic doctrines that have been preserved and passed down to us from spiritual elders; things like the Atonement, the Substitutionary death of Christ, the Resurrection. Some of the new contemporary brothers seem to be raiding the temple a little too freely and thinking that this will bring us a little respite from foreign enemies, I fear that in the long run it will only lead to trouble.
(1251) 2ND KINGS 7- Elisha is before the elders and the city is in trouble, the king of Israel is blaming the recession on the Christian conservatives and Elisha is being targeted. Now comes the true test of a prophet; Elisha says ‘by this time tomorrow the price of goods will be next to nothing, inflation will be gone and the recession over’. How can this happen? One of the men says ‘even if God opened the windows of heaven things cannot turn around this fast’. Wrong response, Elisha tells him ‘because you doubt, you will see it with your eyes but not experience it’. Okay, that night there are these 4 outcasts of society living at the city gate, they are lepers. You know, the type of people that nobody wants to be around. O sure the religious institutions have started all types of leper helping ministries, and the local religious folk give to these ministries, but nobody really wants to personally get involved. So these outcasts are at the city gate and they say ‘look at our plight, we are sitting here at the gate and will surely die, if we go into town the famine will kill us. If we go to the Syrians, sure they might kill us too, but maybe they will feed us and spare us, heck if we die we die!’ I like their outlook, even in the midst of great personal turmoil and sickness; they make one last ditch effort to turn things around. We need more brothers like this. So they go to the enemy camp and lo and behold [yes it’s corny] they find all the wealth and goods of the Syrian army, but no one’s there! God supernaturally caused the sound of the heavenly chariots to be heard by the army and they fled out of fear, casting away all their goods on the way out. So these lepers cant believe their eyes, they hit the jackpot. So they start going from tent to tent and take the stuff and go and hide it. After a few hours of hording and building wealth, they realize they are not doing right. They decide to go back to the city and tell their people what happened. They go to town and tell the king, he can’t believe it, he thinks ‘sure, this is a trap set up by my enemies’. Notice how both sides were battling paranoia, the Syrians fled thinking the armies were at the door, and the king of Israel thinks it’s a trap too. So they send some men to check it out and sure enough it’s true, the famine is over and the commodities are selling at a ridiculously cheap price. The brother who said ‘God could not do this even if he opened up heavenly windows’, he gets trampled at the gate by the gold rush and sees it with his eyes but never benefits from it, he dies. Okay, God is able to turn things around on a dime, though the economy was in shambles, the king/president thinks all is lost, no chance of a second term. Yet at the moment of great desperation God comes thru, the prophet [believers] was willing to use his gift to turn things around, and that’s exactly what happened. We as a people need to check our hearts and see if we really want the success ‘of the king’. Are we willing to do what Elisha did and pool our gifts for the success of the nation? Or have we become so cynical that we secretly desire the failure of the nation so we can feel vindicated? The lepers were tempted to horde the wealth and use it for their own benefit; after all they were God fearing capitalists! Why should they have to share their stuff with everybody else? Yet they chose to not ‘store up for themselves treasures on earth’ [Jesus] and did the right thing. Geez, I just wish we could find some contemporary comparisons for this stuff.
(1241) 2nd KINGS 2- Elijah is going to be taken up into heaven and Elisha follows him, Elijah tells him to leave but Elisha requests a double portion of the Spirit that anointed Elijah. He tells Elisha that if he witnesses his translation into heaven he will get it. As Elisha follows Elijah to the various towns [Bethel, Jericho, etc.] he runs into the ‘sons of the prophets’ who independently tell Elisha that Elijah will be taken this day. These sons of the prophets are the same group from the ‘school of the prophets’ under Samuel. They lived a communal lifestyle, were provided for by offerings from the community and were recognized as a legitimate group sent from God. Over the years I have had both ‘prophetic’ type experiences as well as learning and growing in Christian truth. Often time’s believers will live their whole lives only experiencing and learning Christianity from their particular group. While many of these various denominations are fine groups, they are only a limited picture of the church. The problem comes in when one group sees itself as ‘the group’ to the exclusion of the other groups. There are ‘prophetic groups’ who operate in these gifts, these gifts do exist and function in the church today. Many of these groups have cut themselves off from the ‘intellectual’ branch of the church. Some seem to regulate their entire Christian experience around the gift. Often times it is next to impossible to correct them doctrinally, because they believe that the fact that they do experience real prophetic gifts justifies all their beliefs. Often times they are wrong. Many times the young believers who follow these gifted men/movements become infatuated with the gift and never truly grow in the things of God. Having said all this, we also need to be open to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit that the bible speaks about. The majority view of Christianity [Catholic, Orthodox and most Protestants] do believe in the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. There are those who try and make a case for their cessation [cessationists!] but for the most part these gifts do and have functioned since the early days of Christianity. I can personally give you many examples from my own story; let me share a recent one. A few weeks ago I had some of my homeless friends over for a fellowship time. We had communion and shared the word in my yard. This spot is the same spot where I pray over the communities of people that we relate to. I have a habit of ‘anointing’ myself with oil while praying for the brothers. I will actually put anointing oil on my head and pray ‘just like this oil is on me, Lord anoint all those we are reaching out to’. One of the homeless guys is very gifted and he does function in the gift of Prophecy, he will often make off the cuff comments and he does not realize that he is actually prophesying. So any way as we were all sitting in my yard he keeps telling me ‘you know brother, I keep thinking of the verse in the bible where the oil was on Aarons head and it ran down to the rest of his body’. This is a verse in Psalms that coincides with the exact type of prayer thing that I regularly do over the guys in this exact spot. So it’s stuff like this that shows me that prophetic people and gifts are not all fakes. Now Elijah does a few prophetic things before the chariots from heaven come and take him; he strikes the Jordan with his mantle [coat] and it dries up for him to cross. After Elisha witnesses Elijah’s ascension he does receive the ‘double portion’ and on his way back into town he does the same thing. The sons of the prophets recognize that the mantle [gift] passed from Elijah to Elisha. A few things; in this chapter we see that those who witness the ascension of ‘the prophet’ receive a greater anointing. Of course this reminds us of the early church, they were the group that saw Jesus ascend and did receive the Spirit. Some say that Elisha does twice the miracles as Elijah [the double portion]. I underlined all the miracles once and think they might be off one or two miracles, but they do come close [Elijah 7, Elisha 13 or 14]. Jesus said we would do greater miracles than he did [in number we would do greater works as the family of God]. And of course the miracles surrounding the Jordan and Elisha pouring salt in the fountain of water to ‘heal the waters’, all these images speak of the ministry of Jesus and John and the significance of baptism and how Jesus would ‘heal the waters’ i.e.; he would unite with us in the waters of the Jordan and we would meet with him thru the ordinance of baptism, in essence Jesus ‘healed the waters’ by his pure life, his ‘saltiness’ [preservation power]. Jesus said we were the salt of the earth. So there are some good prophetic pictures from a prophetic chapter. All in all we as believers are to be grounded in the word, have a grasp on all the various groups/movements that constitute Christianity, and be open to the miraculous. God has given us his Spirit and we do have the ability as Gods people to function in these gifts. But at the end of the day our assurance is in the Lord, not in our gifts.
(1232) 2ND CORINTHIANS 9- Paul encourages the church to be generous ‘give much, and you will be blessed much’. The principle is clear. The other day I wrote on the verse ‘he hath distributed and given to the poor, his good works will endure’ [my paraphrase] let me give you what the message bible says- ‘he throws caution to the wind, giving to the needy with reckless abandon’. Yesterday my friend John David came by. He’s the friend I wrote about a few weeks ago, one of the local homeless guys. John is doing well; he made it thru the local drug rehab and is attending the aa/na meetings. John is really excited about the lord, even though he is an older brother  he really wants to do things for God. I gave him a few old copies of some of my original books I wrote years ago, and I gave him all the cash I had [around 15 dollars from my wallet]. He didn’t ask for it, I just felt ‘what the heck, if I don’t give it I’ll just spend it’. Later my wife asked me if I could take my daughter to get her I.D. at the driver’s license place. You need cash, it’s around 16 dollars. I thought ‘geez, maybe I’m too reckless in giving to my buddies’ and then I read this verse this morning. Paul exhorts these believers to give themselves and their goods away for the gospel. He challenges us to live with ‘reckless abandon’ knowing that our lives are like a vapor that appear for a little while and then vanish away [James]. If you give yourself away, God will increase ‘your seed’ and multiply the results 100 times, but you must lay down your life first. Jesus said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abideth alone. But if it dies it will bring forth much fruit. He was speaking of his impending death, how he saw it as a necessary event for the purposes of God. Paul also says in his letter ‘if Jesus died for everyone, then we are all dead. He then that lives should now live for God.’ We are not here to please ourselves, to derive some type of fulfillment through our Christian experience. That is to ‘seek to save our lives’ we are here to lay them down for a greater cause, Jesus showed us how this must be done.
(1231) 2ND CORINTHIANS 8- Paul talks about giving in these next 2 chapters. It’s important to see the context in which he is speaking. Many fine men [pastors] and believers will use a verse or two out of these chapters and apply them in a wrong, or out of context way. We find verses like ‘he that sows [plants] sparingly will reap sparingly’ or ‘God shall supply all your needs according to his riches and glory’. These verses [as well as a few others] are to be seen in the context of giving in a charitable way, doing it by ‘choice’ and not by force, and giving freely to help the poor saints that were living at Jerusalem. But too often these verses are used to tell believers if they do not tithe 10 percent of their income into a Sunday morning offering, they will be cursed. Or appeals are made by the TV preachers that say ‘sow into this ministry and reap a harvest’ in many of these scenarios there is tremendous force and manipulation used to get the saints to give money for all types of projects, or to fund the rich lifestyles of charismatic figures. These things ‘ought not to be done’. In this chapter Paul says he that gathered little had ‘no lack’ how often have we taught believers to ‘get a full harvest’ and said it in a way that says unless you ‘gather much’ you will be in lack? Here Paul says those who gathered ‘just enough’ those who were satisfied with the basics ‘had no lack’. Or ‘give according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have’ how many appeals are made all the time telling believers ‘if you don’t have it, make a vow anyway’? We tell people to give according to what they don’t have all the time. And the churches of Macedonia did give ‘out of their poverty and great affliction’ you do not measure the success or spirituality of believers by the amount of financial wealth they have, these giving churches had ‘poverty’. All in all we need to rethink much of what the contemporary church/ministry does when it comes to money. In these chapters Paul teaches voluntary giving along the lines of helping the poor, we often use all these verses and simply apply them to our ‘churches’ ministries or personal callings. We err. In the next chapter Paul will quote Psalms ‘he hath dispersed abroad, HE HATH GIVEN TO THE POOR, his righteousness remains forever’ again, the whole context is giving to the poor. I know we mean well as believers, but we need to get back to really reading what the text is saying and applying it in that way. To give to churches, or ministries is fine. To give 10 % of your income is fine. To meet the needs of laboring elders/pastors is fine, but we should not use these types of scriptures in a condemning way when exhorting the saints to give, doing that is ‘not fine’.
-(1219) SAVE LORD, LET THE KING HEAR US WHEN WE CALL- Psalms 20:9 I woke up too early yesterday, around 1 a.m. This has happened a few times in the last few days. So I just move the 3:30-8:30 prayer/study/teaching time up a few hours. It leaves me an hour or two extra to catch up on one of my books. At around 8:30 I felt the Lord wanted me to go and check up on the homeless guys, it’s been a few weeks since I have gotten with them, but I was tired and thought I would just spend a few hours with them. I brought the paper and headed out to the mission. Andy showed up, he’s one of the brothers who has struggled with alcohol for years, just got out of the ‘teen challenge’ program and is doing well. He has two other brothers, I have written about them before. He told me his older brother , John David, was supposed to show up at the mission this day and he wanted to make sure he didn’t hook up with the wrong crowd. Andy is 58 and he has a younger brother named Huey. I have fellowshipped with Andy and helped Huey out over the years, but John David is the oldest and he keeps his distance. He looks a little intimidating [to be honest, this stuff never affects me- but to some people they stay away]. If you see him as one of the homeless on the streets where I live, he is a little scary. Anyway Andy was glad I showed up, and Henry [one of the strongest homeless believers, really a fine Christian] showed up. Henry will actually come check up on me if I don’t come around for a few days. Well John David showed up, he has spent 40 days in a local drug rehab and looks great. He is on fire for God, has had a real experience with the Lord. He really loved fellowshipping this day. John David told me his whole story; when he and his family were living near Houston back in the 60’s- 70’s, he killed his best friend with a shotgun. His buddy was violent and one night was coming after him, John David pulled his friends shogun off the rack in the truck and emptied 5 shells into him, he had pellets in the bottom of his feet all the way to the top of his head. His father, who was also an alcoholic by the name of John, died a few weeks before this incident. Johns mother asked around for the best lawyer, she was told the name of a lawyer in Dallas who was the best [Percy something?]. He recently was Lee Harvey Oswald’s attorney, and after Jack Ruby shot him he defended Ruby. Sure enough she went to Dallas and the secretary told her the attorney would cost too much, that he wasn’t even in the building that day. She waited all day until around 10 p.m. and the attorney came out of the office. He asked her about the case and she told him and gave her title deed to her little trailer as payment. He took the job pro bono and got her son off at trial. John David told me that a year later he- quote ‘went and pissed on the grave of his dead friend’. He was ungrateful and unrepentant. Eventually the family wound up in Corpus and all the brothers are living on the streets. When they first got here they did okay, John David had his own concrete company and was making lots of money. He was doing well, but the alcohol and cocaine were his downfall. He told me he hated the homeless guys, he looked down on them and disrespected them. He eventually went thru five marriages and lost everything and became one of the most despised street guys in the Bluff. John passed his alcoholism off to his sons, one night his son was leaving the school dance, he was walking home drunk. A doctor ran him over and killed him. The doctor was also drunk. The boy was only 15, this was another setback in a long series of regrets. We spent the whole day having a good fellowship, I bought some grape juice [in the little bottles] a few weeks back, I felt like the lord said get some for a communion thing. Sometimes when I get with the brothers when we come back to the house we will do an outside communion/fellowship thing. Sure enough this was the day for the juice. I lent Andy one of my good books, he is a serious student and was sharing with me the stuff he has been studying recently. I know he’s reading right now so I lent him some good stuff. Henry took a few reference books, he keeps his books at my house and I’ll lend him stuff from my library as well. He will be preaching Sunday at ‘Church without walls’ a homeless church that sets up a tent every week and holds street services. Yeah, sometimes I don’t get the books back, but it’s worth the investment. John David was a different man this day, all the years I have seen him, never was he like this. He told me a few months back as he was sitting out by the intercoastal waterway where we live, he was strung out on coke, tired of his whole life. He screamed and cursed God, he said ‘if you are f…ing real, then do something’. It was within a few days that someone paid 5 thousand dollars out of pocket to send him to this rehab, the ‘king heard him when he called’. [note- it’s been a year now and John is still clean, he stopped by the other day and has started a rehab for the locals- he’s doing real well]
(1217) THE VOICE OF THE LORD IS UPON THE WATERS: THE GOD OF GLORY THUNDERETH: THE LORD IS UPON MANY WATERS Psalms 29:3 Last night I was watching the news, I was doing something at the time [reading?] but for whatever reason I was listening and not looking at the screen. I heard a reporter asking one of the ‘tea party’ protesters about his views. As I listened to him speak against the socializing of the country, his disgust over the free hand outs and all, I thought I recognized the voice. As I looked up, it was Larry! One of the first homeless buddies I met in Corpus. He went West quite a few years ago, haven’t heard from him in a while. Larry was really smart, he had a couple of old boats, an old ice cream truck and an old school bus scattered all over the Bluff [where I live]. One of the boats was a small 10 footer, he had it at some boat dock, the thing was probably worth around 20 dollars. Every day he went and pumped the water out, it was funny. I had this old Datsun 280 zx that I bought during an early mid life crisis; I blew the darn motor in it. I was gonna junk it. Larry saw that I had an extra junk car sitting in my yard, I bought it for the wheels for around 100 bucks. He said lets put the engine from the junker into the good car. Sure enough we did it in a couple of days; pushing the cars under my garage doorway, using a bumper jack and chain as a lift. Pulling engines out and dropping the good one in, I could have never accomplished it by myself, he was a talented brother. He looked a little like Ted Kaczynski [unibomber] scruffy hair and beard. He looked exactly the same on the news show, I think Larry worked about five days the whole time I knew him, yet he was protesting Obama’s socializing of the country and the free handouts, stuff like this is too funny to not write on. Okay I read more from Wrights book [surprised by hope] he brings out the biblical basis of the believer’s hope, which is the resurrection, not heaven. He is correct on this. He traces the roots of Western thinking all the way back to the ancient philosophers [Plato]and shows how the Greek belief in the ‘immortal soul’ did effect the thinking of Western Christianity and eventually made it’s way into the church thru the medieval influence of men like Dante [his inferno] and other beliefs on purgatory and so forth, Wright is an excellent scholar and historian. He does quote the verse I used when first defending against the concept of ‘soul sleep’, the famous verse from Paul ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord’ he rejects soul sleep and teaches the correct doctrine of a believer being in Gods presence at death. Wright, like myself, does not see the future hope of the believer as ‘going to heaven when you die’ but correctly teaches the hope of a resurrected body and a new heavens and earth. He also correctly shows how immortality of ‘the soul’ is really not a biblical doctrine. For as long as I can remember, I have always believed that immortality referred to the resurrected body of believers and not to the soul/spirit. I have heard/read many good men speak of it as pertaining to the soul, Wright correctly shows us the biblical view. When I first read his defense a while ago, I was a little confused when he used an argument from scripture that immortality belongs ‘only to God’ and his argument that the ‘immortal soul’ was a Greek doctrine not founded in scripture. The reason I was a little hesitant when I first heard him make this argument [reading on line a few years back] was because I heard the same exact argument made by the 7th day Adventist church in their defense of soul sleep [the view that the soul is unconscious at death until the resurrection] but Wright has clarified that he does not accept this view. He also rightfully shows us that in scripture the divisions of ‘soul/spirit/body’ are not as clear cut as many modern Protestants teach. Over the years I have often heard the famous verses on the soul ‘receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls’ ‘he that corrects a sinner from the error of his way saves a soul from death’ [James] and in Hebrews ‘the word of God dividing asunder soul and spirit’ there is a very popular teaching that relates the three ‘parts’ of man with the Triune nature of God [Father, Son and Spirit] and tries to say that when the New Testament speaks of ‘soul’ it is speaking of mans emotions/will, and that the spirit and body are two other things. This really is not biblical, the two verses I quoted from James are speaking of the whole man, not his emotions/will only. This is a wrong teaching that many have embraced because of a low level of education in the pulpit [to be frank about it]. Which gets me to my final point, to all my Pastor/leader readers, try and read/listen to university level scholarship as much as possible. Avoid leaving the radio-TV on and hearing hours and hours of teaching that is really not high quality, it will affect you in a bad way. I called a ministry a few weeks back to order a special offer from the scholar/theologian who is the teacher. The cd’s were lectures given in a university classroom from a real theologian [not the guys running around with honorary doctorates!] I did have the chance to do something I have been wanting to do for a while. The offer was whatever gift you want to give to the ministry [money] you can give and get the cd’s. The poor sister asks me ‘and how much will you be donating today for the cd’s’ I of course tell her ‘I will be donating one penny’ she is silent for a few seconds until I tell her I’m just kidding. The point is try and read/listen to scholarly stuff as much as possible ‘the Lords voice is upon many waters, it thunders’ when God speaks to you thru the collective voice of the church triumphant [in heaven- I mean read the works of the saints who have died!] and the church militant [on earth] then you are hearing his voice over the ‘many waters’ the various communions that make up the corporate people of God, Gods wisdom resides in her.
(1195) Was reading Psalms 19 and it speaks of Gods law being perfect; it converts [restores] the soul, makes us wise. By them we are warned and in keeping of them there is great reward. It reminds me of James ‘be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’. Some day I will teach the letter of James in it’s entirety, it is important and generally misunderstood. Many Reformers [I lean towards reformed theology personally] tend to say that James was saying ‘the faith that saves is active/working faith’ and that’s what James was talking about. While this certainly is true, James does say ‘see how Abraham/Rahab were saved/justified by their works’. This statement is saying something different than just ‘the faith that saves is active’ this is saying these folks ‘were saved’ by their works. I believe in the classic Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, don’t get me wrong. I think we miss it when we don’t leave room for something like ‘see how God also declared them righteous/acceptable when they did good works’. I think the statement ‘saved by works’ can actually mean something different than ‘accepted the Lord and got saved’. The solution is in seeing the fluent language of the New Testament when it deals with salvation/justification [soteriology]. It’s perfectly biblical to say ‘these people were saved [declared pleasing and acceptable in Gods eyes] by their works’ without having to apply it to the initial act of legal justification that Paul emphasizes in Romans/Galatians. Well I cant do it all right now, but will get to it someday. Today’s point was ‘keeping Gods commands, doing what he says’ brings great reward. It is easy to fall into the trap of becoming a professional learner/hearer of Gods word. Basically seeing our role as someone who learns a lot about the bible, preaches it, talks about it, but has little time to actually apply the things that it says. I was listening to a preacher who excelled high up the ranks of scholarly things; he became very smart in many things. He earned his masters and other degrees and was an accomplished writer and theologian. He then shared how the Lord began leading him to actually obey the things he learned in the Gospels. To take literally the words of Jesus on serving others and giving all your material goods away to serve the poor. He did it. He left his influential position as a teaching scholar, he moved to a foreign country and started a mission to the poor. I heard him speak on TV. I find it interesting that it can be so easy to make Gods word and Christian doctrine a priority, that is we can master knowledge of the things in them, but yet we might not actually be doing what it says. This is a danger for all of us. A big part of the present challenge to ‘institutional church’ deals with this. Many organic/community based movements are trying to get back to functioning and acting like the early churches acted. I of course think this is a good thing. One of the dangers can be falling into the trap of seeing ‘how we meet’ as the main criteria of what’s really ‘true church’ versus ‘institutional’. The New Testament does not teach that the way we as believers meet is the way to identify who are ‘true or not’. The New Testament says those who do the works are the ones who are of God. Works in an active/charitable sense, you know ‘pure religion before God is visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction and keeping yourself unspotted from the world’ type thing. So anyway today we learned that actually doing what God says brings great reward. It’s good to pray and read the bible and attend church, but if we are not doing the stuff, we are missing out.
(1194) HELP THE POOR AND YOU WILL GET TEN CITIES- It’s Sunday morning right now, around 4:40 a.m., just finished around an hour and a half prayer time. I want to mention that there are regular prayer times when I pray a specific intercession thing, and also just times where I talk without any particular structure. I have noticed that the structure really helps a lot, when you’re done praying your focus is much stronger, just a hint to all you Pastors/leaders. Now, I was going to do Zacchaeus [Luke 19] but think I will just hit a few things. Notice in the story that when he repents, he ‘gives half of his goods to the poor’. Also in our last post I mentioned how the rich ruler was told to ‘sell his goods and distribute to the poor’. Ever wonder why these guys don’t feel lead to run down to the temple and put in a tithe? We have a habit of reading the bible thru a certain lens, that lens ‘colors’ everything else. Now, when Jesus gives the story of the guys who were given so much money [pounds] and then when he returns he asks ‘what did you gain’ you’ll notice that the 10 pounds [around $450.00 dollars] gained the same amount, good, this guy gets ‘10 cities’. The guy with 5 pounds [around $250.00 dollars] gets 5 cities and the guy who hid the pound in the ground loses out. As I was reading this story, I realized that the money I spend every month on ministry stuff is between ‘5-10’ pounds. That covers all of the stuff I do, yet when praying this morning I realized that we are regularly preaching/reaching a whole region of Texas [at least 10 cities] plus the New Jersey area, and of course thru radio, blog and paper ads we have contacts all over the world. What! How can you have a ‘10 city outreach’ [large region] with only ten pounds? Don’t you know we need millions to reach the world? There goes that stinkin thinkin again. Jesus said ‘the things that are impossible with men [like reaching a large region with 10 pounds] are possible with God’. I want to challenge you today [especially you leaders] have you fallen into a mindset that sees money as the solution to the problem? Do you see ‘faithfulness to God’ thru the lens of giving money to ‘the church’? How often do you regularly, personally meet the needs of others out of your own pocket? When we obey the Lord in giving to the poor [not thru the church budget, but personally] then God will increase your parameters. As I was doing the Sunday morning prayer thing a little while ago, I walk around the yard and prayer over regions. I have around a 5 foot section of railroad track set up in my yard, these are real parts of track and piling that I picked up over a year period when they were tearing up all the old tracks and putting new ones in. They are a composite road of all the cities that I used to drive thru on my way to work. When I pray in the yard and see the tracks it reminds me of the Lord increasing our parameter. I used to personally drive by the tracks in Kingsville when picking people ‘up for church’ now we reach all the cities on a regular basis, the ‘10 cites’ if you will. Be faithful in the little and God will give you 10 cities.
(1187) CASH FOR CLUNKERS- In Luke 16 we have the parable of the steward who wasted his master’s money. Jesus says there was this employee who was reported to have swindled his boss. The boss calls him on the carpet and the employee gets busted. He thinks ‘geez, I am going to lose my job [you know, the recession and all] what will I do for cash?’ [Oh, I don’t know. What about taking whatever you can find?] He says ‘I can’t dig [why not?] to beg I am ashamed [now we are running out of options] I know, I’ll contact all my bosses debtors and reduce their bills’. He takes option number 3 and gets in good with the guys who owed his boss money. Notice, this option really didn’t produce wealth, it simply lost it. Right now our country is doing the ‘cash for clunkers’ program, you can take your old gas guzzler in and the govt. pays the dealer $4,500 dollars for the car. The dealer then destroys it. The idea is the govt. is getting the polluters off the road while the dealers are doing business. You know how many of these clunkers could put my buddies to work? Guys trying to buy clunkers for a few hundred, these so called clunkers that are being traded in are pretty good vehicles. If you simply gave them to unemployed people who really needed them this would help them and the economy. How many junk yards could have done business with the parts? I realize the reason for destroying them is for environmental concerns, but we are having major unemployment right now, this deal doesn’t help them. So the steward wrote off some value. Then at the end the Lord commends the guy for being wise, doing what he had to do. The parable ends with the famous verse ‘you cannot serve God and money, if you try and do both you will wind up hating one and loving the other’ note to you readers, if this verse just offended you, in a small sense you are ‘hating one of them’ right now. I like Jesus forward preaching, you never left the sermon wondering what his point was. In life we all do what we need to at times, this employee cut off two viable options right at the start [work, beg] make sure the reason you seem to have no options isn’t because your standards are too high. I get a kick out of some of my buddies who wont work for a ‘measly 7 dollars an hour’ but have no problem dumpster diving for a left over pizza! Sometimes we are the problem. And sometimes we are ‘unprofitable’ because we are too caught up in the material pursuits of life. Jesus does say those who were not faithful in temporary riches [money] would be unfaithful in the true riches [spiritual wealth]. I know there are many ideas on what this means, but one way we become faithful in natural wealth is by not letting it consume us, by not being too preoccupied with the obtaining of the stuff. These are the main points of Jesus in these stories; we seem to miss the main points a little too much.
(1185) THE SHEEP AND THE COIN- Once again Jesus stirs up the crowd, as his teaching ministry flourishes he gains a listening audience of tax collectors and sinners. Basically he’s speaking the language of the people. It’s interesting to note that around 70 % of the Old Testament quotes of Jesus found in the New Testament are taken from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. This translation was a collaboration of 70 scholars [so the tradition goes] and was the Greek cultural version of the Old Testament that was popular in the Greek speaking world, it was also seen as an ‘impure’ version among the religious leaders of Judaism, it was not the most pure Hebrew text that the orthodox used. But Jesus was attempting to speak to the common people as much as possible and he wasn’t the type of preacher to engage in these long debates over the most pure text of scripture! So anyway he gives the stories of a man who lost 1 sheep out of 99 and goes and finds it; also the woman who lost 1 coin out of 10 and she too seeks for it. Jesus says that’s what he’s doing when he receives these so called low class people; he’s seeking the ones who are lost. He says when they find the lost sheep/coin they bring it home and call their neighbors and friends and rejoice with them. Jesus did put a priority on spiritual riches versus natural stuff, to seek the lost and save them was valuable in his eyes, to live your life based on class issues was not valuable. The religious leaders despised these down and out folk, they wouldn’t stoop so low as to actually befriend them. That was the real accusation they made against Jesus, he was ‘their friend’ this just irked the religious leadership terribly! It’s too easy for well meaning Christian leaders to live their lives in an environment where most of your time and thought is spent in public speaking, running the 501 c3 operation of ‘ the church’ and mingling with the elite crowd as much as possible. The lifestyle of Jesus was a total repudiation of this professional ministerial class, they were building their careers while Jesus was out looking for sheep.
(1183) I HATE YOU! Felt like this was a prophetic word to all of my critics [KIDDING!] Jesus said unless we hated our families and lives we could not be a true disciple. Over the years I have seen the church go thru stages; one of the areas of popular teaching is the entire field of family life. Now to be sure the bible speaks about family life, husbands loving wives and bringing up their children in the fear of God. But I want to give you another side, while I don’t believe Jesus was speaking of ‘hate’ in a way that means anger, but I do believe the people of God have at times made ‘family things’ an idol. I remember years ago when first coming to Texas, I had a good friend who made the second trip back to Texas with me. He had a hard time [as I] in trying to make it as young kids in a strange new world [you know, cowboys and stuff shooting regularly in the streets- or Bush and his cronies running rough shod over the population as Cheney acts as an oil czar!] At one point my friend, who was now married and had kids, was having a hard time making it. We were both in our mid 20’s with families and kids. I had just started our church and he was an original member. My focus was on doing Gods work and branching out in outreach to as many people as possible. I was working at the Fire Dept. and doing my best to ‘run the church’. My friend told me one day he decided to leave Texas and take his family back to New Jersey, it was rough on him to be sure. At one point I could sense he was missing his natural family back home, he was raised by his Cuban grandmother [she used to make us some great Cuban food!] and he expressed a feeling of ‘wow, I can’t wait until I get back home and grandma can make us good food again’. While his love for his natural family back in Jersey was fine, yet he based his decision on past family affinities, as opposed to current situations. I felt he made a mistake in going back. Jesus challenged us to put his kingdom first, even ahead of well meaning family things, things that can be hindrances at times. When I first started helping street people and addicts, I had some people say ‘gee, why don’t you help your natural family and not worry about all these other people’ some thought I was rich and spending lots of money on these friends. Then when they found out I was simply doing it on a fire fighters salary [now a retirement check] they kind of had the feeling ‘gee, the guy doesn’t make that much, he shouldn’t be spending the little he has on these bums’. You know, you can’t win for losing! Jesus wants us to do what he says, sure he also wants us to be responsible people as well, good family lives and well adjusted kids. But as in any area of life, we need to keep the proper balance, there will be times when you will need to make a choice between what’s better for you and your family situation, or moving ahead by faith in the Kingdom. My buddy went back to eat some good Cuban food, but I fear he might have missed out on the real supper the Lord had for him in Texas.
(1181) Well we had a good day at the river yesterday, we went to San Antonio [New Braunfels] and rode the river in the inner tubes. I actually pray regularly for this area, stuff like ‘your people will rise up and overflow the river banks and flow into Judah’ ‘you will be like fountains dispersed abroad, like rivers of waters in the streets’ [bible verses] so it was cool floating down a river with hundreds of people who you regularly pray for. On the ride back I also noticed some famous churches along the highway, basically good people, charismatic type personalities who I used to catch on TV [I haven’t watched shows like that in a few years now, not because their bad or wicked, but too disconnected from the historic context of Christianity- a simple success gospel with no real attachment to the historic church]. So it was fun. Okay in Luke Jesus says when you have a dinner [B.B.Q.] invite the poor and down and out, don’t invite the rich and well to do [man, he is so hard on the affluent!] because if you invite people with the mindset of ‘reaping a harvest’ now, you forfeit a true reward. Jesus says the reward you get will be at the resurrection [no material mindset here, no money thing in the here and now] this is Luke 14 by the way. It’s a mystery to me how so many well meaning streams of Christianity can completely by pass this central mode of Jesus teaching. James, Jesus’ brother, wrote in his epistle ‘when you favor the rich in your assembly and treat them better than the poor you are doing wrong’ [James 2- by the way this is the only reference in the New Testament that speaks of an assembly that can be translated as a place to meet. The context of James is Jewish believers, he obviously is referring to meeting at the synagogue. That probably would have been a better translation. The term for church, Ecclesia, never refers to a building]. So James obviously picked up this mantra from Jesus, you know, the whole negativity on the rich type preaching! Well today we see how Jesus wants us to approach our service to him, when we love our neighbor we are to act and show kindness and spend money [hey, brisket isn’t cheap!] and do it all with a mindset that says ‘no, I am not doing all this so I can get some type of financial reward in the here and now, Jesus will reward me at the resurrection’ I like this stuff, you might not like it, but I love it.
(1175) Lets talk a little; here in my office I have a couple of tool boxes that are around 70 years old. They are machinist tools that belonged to my father’s dad. He died before I was born, but as a boy growing up I used to regularly go thru the interesting tools, micrometers and stuff. The reason they are in my office is funny, a few years ago I was in New Jersey visiting family. My mom would kid with me about stuff, and sure enough I found out that my sisters ‘boyfriend’ was gradually depleting the inventory of the tool boxes for drug purposes! My sister has had a long, sad history of drug addiction, and her friends too. I actually have made some headway in helping her present boyfriend of a few years, he is almost like one of the buddies I help here in Texas, the same type of friendship and all. So I would kid my mom ‘gee, I always looked forward to getting these tools as an inheritance someday, I thought at least I will get something. And now I find out that they have been making their way out the back door for the last year or so’. Now, my mom laughed and all, I know it sounds strange, but it was kinda funny. But she does ask me if I feel bad about it, I told her I would get over it. But I said if I’m on my way back to Texas on the plane, and we have some bad turbulence. And per chance the pilot informs us ‘folks, we regret to inform you that we have encountered mechanical problems. They are so serious that we believe we might suffer loss of life before the flight is over. If you have loved ones you need to call, go ahead and do it now. One more thing, we might have a slim chance of repairing the engine, but we don’t have the proper tools. Does anybody on board happen to have a micrometer’? I told her then I will be mad! One other thing, my mom asked my advice about borrowing money from a reverse mortgage, I told her if the charge and interest are in a reasonable range, then do it. I feel my parents at times have felt guilty over the years because I left Jersey when I was 18 years old, and they thought I would eventually move back. You know, it’s common for kids to launch out when their young, to face the brave new world. And after a few years wind up back home. But in my case I never went back. So there has always been a sense like ‘gee, we never really helped John, he’s had to fend for himself all these years’ and I felt my mom was asking me about the reverse mortgage sort of like getting permission to ‘sell’ part of any future inheritance. I of course have advised her to sell her house and do whatever she needed to do to get herself in a better situation. My parents are divorced and my mom lives in an expensive home that is taxed at a very high N.J. rate. So my advice has been to sell it years ago. But anyway I told my mom to do the reverse mortgage if the price was right. So she borrowed around 25 thousand from the equity at around 6 %, an okay deal. Then I find out that they charged her 25 thousand as a one time fee, along with the 6%! I told her ‘mom, that means they charged you 106%, not a good deal’. Oh well at least I still have a few micrometers. The point is my poor mom does not know financial stuff, I felt bad for her, not me. They basically ripped her off. In Luke 12 Jesus said some servants that knew their lords will and did not do it would suffer many stripes [punishment] and those that were ignorant and did wrong stuff would suffer few stripes. The fact that my poor mom was ignorant of the deal didn’t protect her from taking a loss. In the world of reformation, God changing things in the church, new ways of seeing and doing things, I have Pastor friends who really are like my mom, they are good people who have a basic grasp on stuff, but they are out of their league in other areas. Then there are those who do see and recognize the real problems that the church is facing, they see the limited paradigms that the people of God have functioned under for all these years. Jesus said both groups would give an account for their response to truth. Those who really knew what was wrong, and let it slip by will suffer much. But those that didn’t really know what was going on in the current church world, they served faithfully to the best of their ability in the limited mindset of church and ministry, they too will suffer, not as much as those who had more understanding, but yet they will suffer. I believe God wants all of us to serve him and do our best to live up to the things he requires of us. I also believe that too many of us [Pastors/Leaders] struggle for too long in places and ideas that are outmoded and calling for change. If we simply take the attitude ‘well, people have been doing it this way for years’ without truly educating ourselves as much as possible, then we too will suffer. Hey, don’t get stuck on the plane with out a micrometer, it good prove hazardous to your health! [get it? The right tool for the journey- hey it’s the best I can do]
-(1170) yesterday I was reading the paper and saw an article on a local guy who attacked a cop with a meat cleaver, as I looked at the brothers face he looked familiar. It took me a few seconds to recognize it was Martin, a friend of mine. He stopped by a few months ago, just to say hi and all. I have had Martin over a few times, been to his apartment a few times. We fished together; he had lots of good questions. Martin is a good friend who I would get together with again if the chance arose. The picture and story in the paper would have you thinking he was an ax murderer, in reality the cop was off duty when he approached him. He is paranoid, and he probably thought they were going to jump him. Meat clever does sound bad, but it was probably a kitchen knife! We see people from different perspectives than God, people need the Lord. Well I know I said we were done with Luke 11 yesterday, but let’s get in one more. Jesus rebukes the lawyers for taking away ‘the key of knowledge’ and hindering others to find the truth. A few years back when Texas passed tort reform, I would be at the fire house and see the new commercials the lawyers came up with. Instead of advertising for accident victims, they ran commercials on other lawyers who were ambulance chasers. They were wanting the public to contact their law firm, so they could sue the other law firm who got to them first. Lawyers suing lawyers, now that’s what I call poetic justice! Here Jesus rebukes these ‘lawyers’ [religious leaders] because they did a specific thing, they rejected the gifts that God sent to them in the past. Jesus says ‘God sent you prophets and apostles and you rejected them’. In essence they wouldn’t hear the corporate wisdom/correction of God. I have heard this verse used in various ways over the years; some said this was speaking of the Christian church who reject these gifts today [apostle/prophet] some say it’s speaking of their own religious view of things. I think an overall understanding is God sends us messengers thru out the history of the church, we become acquainted with them thru their writings and the histories that tell about their stories. Often times the modern church is too quick to associate all past ‘churches’ as traditional, dead churches. This is a serious mistake in my view. When Jesus rebuked those who held to the traditions of men over God’s word, he was not saying that we should reject all tradition! He was primarily speaking of ‘the tradition of the elders’ a specific body of tradition that rose up around rabbinic Judaism, not tradition in general. Paul will instruct timothy to hold to the traditions that he was giving him [grounded in the word!] So Jesus rebuked the lawyers for their rejecting of the messengers of God, in essence they wanted to re invent the wheel all over again for each new generation, this in itself is a rejection of the communion of the saints that understands that we are all part of a 2 thousand year tradition of Christian believers. While wisdom allows us to discern between what traditions are good, and which are bad. Yet we don’t want to reject the entire body of Christian tradition that has come down to us from our forefathers. Jesus said he who receives those he sends, receive him. Jesus has been sending us prophets and wise men for centuries, are you hearing them?
(1169) let’s finish up Luke 11. Jesus is invited to dinner again at a Pharisees house, you think the brothers would have learned not to do this by now! So as Jesus eats he doesn’t wash his hands first, the Pharisee ‘thinks within himself’ wow, this is the proof I was looking for, he’s not the one! Of course Jesus knows his heart and rebukes him for being more concerned with outward religion/cleansing than the heart. Jesus tells him ‘did not he that made the outer things [material world] also make the heart/soul of a man’? He was rebuking him for having a sense of ceremonial cleanness, a view of ‘being clean’ that was legalistic, but Jesus said God was more concerned about our inner actions and thoughts. Now, he does connect the ‘right heart’ with a particular act of worship. He says ‘give alms [do charity] with all that you have and this is what cleanness is about’. The same rebuke the prophet Isaiah gave to Israel of old, he said ‘this is not the type of fast God wants, to do outward acts of casting yourself down and rending your garments, but God wants you to loose the chains of those who are suffering, to set the oppressed free’ the same type of idea that is expressed when Jesus quotes Isaiah in the synagogue and says ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me for opening blind eyes, preaching the gospel to the poor’ the anointing of Jesus, God’s religious way of ordaining people, was to do justice and show mercy. Jesus rebuked this Pharisee because he lost the original intent of Gods law and digressed into this religious mindset that was looking to find fault, that was obsessed with outward standards of holiness [they washed their hands obsessively! It wasn’t just a one time deal before a meal, this ‘washing’ became a religious obsession with them, this is the mindset Jesus is rebuking]. Jesus corrected this mistaken view and showed him what was really important, to do charity, justice, mercy and good deeds, this is the new testament sacrifice of the believer [along with praise- Peter] and Jesus said when you do charity, this is what makes you ‘ceremonially clean’ in the eyes of God.
(1165) Just read the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is confronted by a lawyer. He asks Jesus what good thing he must do to have eternal life. Jesus asks him ‘what do you read in the law, how do you see it’? We all come to the table with glasses on, we have preconceived prejudices that taint the way we view scripture. Jesus was asking the man what pair of glasses he used. The man tells him ‘well, the law says we are to love God with all that is in us; our hearts and souls and minds, and love our neighbor as ourselves’. Wow, you got it right man! What an intellect, you sure showed us how smart you are. One more thing Jesus, who is my neighbor? Ah, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. So Jesus says there was a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, on the journey he gets mugged. The robbers beat him, strip him and leave him on the road ‘half dead’. Sure enough a priest and Levite pass by, they probably are on their way [or coming from] some great religious conference, you know, the type where we all get to show off our knowledge and skill, sort of like what the lawyer was just doing. When they see the man they pass him up. Were they thinking how they might use the poor victim in their next sermon? Maybe they will go home to their religious communities and bring the need before them and start some type of mission to the ‘road to Jericho’ homeless? Either way they certainly never thought about actually acting themselves! What, are you kidding me? I am a priest/Levite; my calling is to engage in the teaching/preaching of what God wants, to build a life/ministry around telling others what they should do. I am not responsible for this poor slob, he is reaping what he sowed. But Jesus says a Samaritan [a half breed, low class mutt!] passed by and saw him. He stopped, helped him and brought him to a place to stay. He took money out of his own pocket [not some church budget] and paid the hotel owner and told him ‘if the cost is more, when I get back I’ll cover it’. Wow, all the religion and ministry and preaching in the world didn’t help this man, but a simple act of true compassion reached him. Jesus asks the lawyer ‘which one of these do you suppose treated the man like a good neighbor’? The lawyer says the Samaritan. Great, you answered right again! You do seem to have all the correct answers to these questions. Now, go and do likewise. The problem with most of us is we really don’t want to act ourselves, we want to take this story, and maybe use it in a sermon [like now!] or think about the spiritual lessons of how if you don’t serve God you will wind up like the poor man. But we very rarely read the new testament and think we are required to do these things. There are many people within the vicinity of your home that are in some way like this poor man, they are surrounded by religious institutions [priest/Levite] that mean well, most of them have some type of charitable outreach that tries to meet the need. But the man needed someone to pro actively get involved with him, someone who would simply act like Jesus acted. Not keeping a record of how much he already tithed to the church this past week, but someone who would reach into his own pocket and cover the cost, no questions asked. The lawyer already knew the answers to Jesus questions, he knew what was right. The only thing he lacked was the doing of the things he knew in his heart were the right things to do. He knew that to truly love God was to also love his fellow man, Jesus helped him to see what he needed to do.
(1162) I mailed the materials off yesterday, let me mention one more thing about the letters from my friends in prison. The letter from Leonard, it is full of praise and thanksgiving and glory; it reminds me of the testimonies of new believers. Many times over the years I have noticed good friends of mine come to know the lord, doing things in ministry and fellowship together. Sometimes these brothers struggle for years and go back to prison. The genuine brothers really do experience a ‘mini’ revival when this happens. It’s common for the average person to judge them as getting ‘jail house religion’ they can’t see that the process of chastening and the guys renewing their faith are a real process that brings great joy to them. Believe me, I have seen this happen many times and know that for the most part these guys are not faking. Okay, in Luke 9 we have lots of good stuff; Jesus sends his guys out light ‘don’t take money, extra goods, etc.’ Herod hears about Jesus and wonders if it’s John the Baptist risen from the dead [guilty conscience no doubt!] Lets hit the statement ‘some of you standing here will not die until you see the kingdom’. Over the years commentators have had various views on this, a common view is right after Jesus says this the transfiguration happens and this might be referring to that, it’s possible? The New Testament has various statements like this that the critics of Christianity have used over the years to debunk the faith. The famous atheist Bertrand Russell wrote a book called ‘why I am not a Christian’ one of the reasons stated was the so called missed prophecies of Jesus, these statements in the bible about Jesus coming kingdom that would take place within the lifetimes of those who heard him. Russell also rejected the faith based on a faulty idea from the philosopher John Stewart Mill. Mill said if every thing must have a cause, then God must have a cause, and if God is the first cause, then why not say the universe/world are the first cause instead of God. Russell believed this faulty argument, the law of causation does not teach that every thing must have a cause; it teaches every effect must have a cause. Any way Russell got duped by this fictitious argument and kept it his whole life. But back to those who read the statements in the bible about Jesus coming quickly, the things being written that will happen shortly [revelation] and stuff like that. There is some truth to the Preterists argument that the ‘last days’ that were taking place were speaking of the end of the present age of law and the introduction of the new age of grace. These brothers also link most of the ‘seeing the kingdom come’ verses with a.d. 70 and the destruction of the Jewish temple and law system. There are various views on these subjects. What about Jesus saying that some of the disciples would not die until they saw God’s kingdom? Preterists think the transfiguration happened too quickly after the statement for it to be speaking of that, it’s possible? I think some of the Preterists are too ‘futuristic’, let me explain. Jesus is functioning and operating out of the reality of Gods kingdom, he’s healing people, raising the dead, doing all sorts of things that are contrary to the natural order of things. He is introducing God’s kingdom to his disciples, they are actual witnesses to the events of Gods order breaking into mans order. The greatest events of this kingdom that they will witness will be the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, these ‘parts’ of the kingdom will be the most significant aspects that they will ever SEE in their lives. I prefer to see the reality of God’s kingdom, and the statements about certain followers being alive at the time of God’s kingdom coming, thru this lens. To push the majority of the significance out to a.d. 70 and the destruction of the temple seems to miss the great reality of Jesus death, burial, resurrection and ascension as actual witnessed events of the first century church. So, Russell and others who thought Jesus statements were false prophecies did not really see the reality of these things. I do believe that the events surrounding the destruction of the temple are important, and that you can find many verses that speak of the passing of the old testament order as the ‘end of that world/age’ but I believe the actual work of Jesus in redemption, as being witnessed by the early church, would be a better ‘location’ for the explanation of these types of things. Got it? [note- the main point being the importance the new testament puts on the eyewitness accounts of the disciples to the work of Jesus in redemption, any connecting with ‘the seeing’ of things and the witnesses of those things ‘seen’ has to be viewed thru this lens, the most important ‘seen things of the kingdom’ are without a doubt speaking of the great work of Jesus. This was so important that when Peter mentions the replacement for Judas office, he states that the new apostle must have been a witness of these things from the beginning of Jesus ministry]
(1161) As I sat down this morning, I wasn’t sure what to share. I felt like the Lord wanted me to re-read my friends letter from prison. I always read them again before I send the packets of materials out to them, they usually ask a question or two and I try and make sure I respond to them. Sure enough, as I am reading the letter [a minute ago] he makes note of the drawing he sent me. It’s a great picture of a gang brother with tattoos and all, giving praise to God. Many of the brothers in prison are good artists and they have sent me things like this over the years. I hung it up yesterday, it’s been sitting in the envelope for a month. Well in the letter he reminds me that it is a drawing of a candle/man on fire for the lord, being ‘lit’ for God. So I got up and turned on my desk light and sure enough the picture is a man whose bottom half is a candle, I didn’t see it before. It’s significant because the past month or so I have been quoting ‘no man lights a candle and puts it under a bushel, but on a candlestick’. The image of Jesus words have been in my mind recently, so I felt the ‘candle-man’ to be prophetic. I really re-read the letter because I wanted to share Leonard’s testimony with you. Like I said in the past I have known Leonard for around 30 years, used to preach to him and his dad and brothers at the county jail. Many years of knowing him and his family. In the letter Leonard testifies and thanks me for the times I spoke Gods word to him, he testifies how Gods word has always stayed with him, thru the good times and bad. Days where he was living on the streets trying to grub up money for the next fix, yet the Lord was always with him, the ‘hound of heaven’. By the way he asked me if I could find this famous poem for him and send it, it took me a while to find a free copy on line! Everyone wanted to sell one [shame] I would have bought it if I had to but I needed to print one quickly, finally found one. Leonard testified how the Lord was the ‘hound of heaven’ who would never give up on him. Well I included the poem with my study on Romans in the packet [I already sent him Acts] and will be mailing it off soon, along with the other packet for my buddy in Rahway prison in N.J. Even though these are simple tasks, one on one stuff that might seem to have little effect, yet Jesus modeled this style of ministry for us, he showed us that if we faithfully plant seed, eventually we will get a harvest. Occupy yourself with helping and reaching out to others, don’t spend time trying to build ‘your ministry’ but give yourself away for Gods kingdom, whatever you do for the least of these, Jesus friends, you do for him. It’s hard to have a greater impact than that!
(1158) Just finished an early morning prayer time [early means 3:30 -4:00 till around 5:30-6:00 am] I say this to let you know that doing regular prayer is still really important! We can get so hung up on the ministries [Christian business] that we are building that we neglect the real house of God [my house shall be called a house of prayer- remember?] Any way I got a letter the other day from a childhood buddy who is doing some serious prison time in Rahway N.J. I have had many, many good friends over the years who spent lots of time in prison, usually for robberies related to drug addiction. This friend has much more serious charges, he will not get out in a long time. He’s really going thru some serious depression, he is ‘trying’ church and all, but it’s not helping. It’s funny [not really] that this old buddy has kept in touch over all the years. This old friend knew me to be somewhat of a violent person, he ‘experienced’ my violence a few times. But after I converted to the Lord he still kept in touch, sort of like ‘wow, who would have thought John would get into religion’? You know, one of those types of things. But now, after 30 years I guess a real door is opening. I was copying some stuff for him off this blog [p.s. you preachers/churches that are copying our studies and books from this blog, great, keep doing it. But if you can, make me a bunch of copies and send them to me, I don’t have the capability to print mass stuff!] and the ‘darn’ printer messed up. I then went to delete the document, and lo and behold, I deleted the printer from the computer. You know, its stuff like this that makes it tuff to do the Christian thing. You wind up getting mad [at least I do] say a minor curse [you know, not the big one like the kid in the TV movie Christmas Story] and then you finish the project, asking the lord to forgive you, trying to download the printer hardware [who in their right mind saves the disk!] and trying to be spiritual while performing the whole task. Well anyway I got the stuff printed and will send it out soon. I have had a few letters from old friends in prison that I need to respond to. I already sent them some study materials, but need to do some more. I was reading Luke 7 earlier, Jesus heals the roman soldiers servant, raises a woman’s child from the dead. He’s doing one on one ministry while fulfilling the greatest ministry that any one could ever have. Jesus made time for people, while at the same time avoiding the ‘fame and recognition’ crowd. He just didn’t rub shoulders with the elite class! I had a good friend tell me ‘I don’t know who those people are’ when discussing some famous media persons [Benny Hinn, etc.] he was a homeless brother, who knew lots of stuff about the lord and Christianity, but told me ‘if these people you are naming are TV stars, I don’t know them’. I thought it strange how there are different groups of Christians who live their whole lives and never interact with the famous crowd [good thing in my view]. Jesus fame went out, don’t get me wrong. After he raises the kid in Luke 7, word got out. But you get the feeling that he really didn’t want the word to get out! It seemed to hinder his ministry, the whole town winds up at his door and he can’t hear the father’s voice like that. He finds time to pray all night, or to launch out in some boat. He had a mission to complete and becoming famous was not a secret desire of his, sort of like ‘I knew if I waited long enough my day would come’. His day came alright, but like the prophets said ‘why are people saying “we want the day of the Lord” they don’t realize what they are asking for’. Jesus day was great agony and suffering, yes a resurrection too, but first the Cross.
(1151) Just finished reading ‘Coming to Grips With Genesis’ by Terry Mortenson and Thane Ury, probably the best argument for a young earth view put out in the last few years. Though I am still an ‘old earther’ it’s a good read. I am in the middle of ‘Last days Madness’ by Gary Demar [Preterism] and yesterday the book I ordered last ‘Why we’re not Emergent’, by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck, showed up at my door. I am about 1/3 rd thru it. I recently read a quote from one of the famous philosophers that said ‘it is the mark of a mature intellect to be able to read and grasp another persons view, to understand what they are saying and where they are coming from, without fully embracing their view’ [paraphrase] I am applying this wisdom to all three of the above books. Not because they are not good, or because I disagree with everything in them, but because all people share from a limited view of the things they are seeing from their perspective [yes, me too!] that’s why God tells us there is safety in a multitude of counselors [not all counselors from your limited group either!] Okay, in Luke 3 John the Baptist is baptizing and calling people to repent [obviously not an emergent brother, or post modern or neo orthodox- yes, this can go on for ever- he told them what was right and wrong!] Look at the three groups coming to him; he tells the regular people ‘sell what you have, give it to the poor, share your stuff with those who are in need’. He tells the tax collectors ‘stop taking more money than you’re supposed too! It’s okay to collect a normal amount, but don’t go overboard’ and he tells the military ‘don’t use your power in an unjust way, when things go wrong, don’t bear false witness. Don’t cover it up’. I think all of these areas can apply to our lives today. There is somewhat of a resurgence of liberal social justice issues emerging in the church. It’s not out of the mainstream to talk about ecology, or ‘the military industrial complex’ and things of that sort. But we also must realize that in order to have these types of discussions there are times where we say to people ‘yes, we are not perfect, we have our faults. But it is still wrong to kill babies, or to discriminate against minorities, and to neglect our neighbor’. Would you tell a backslidden Christian who was hiding Jews in Nazi Germany ‘who do you think you are hiding these Jews, you are just as bad as Hitler’! Though the church has made mistakes, and Christians have been hypocrites, yet the reality of the ‘wrongness’ of killing Jews is not effected in any way by the perceived hypocrisy of the religious right. It’s still wrong to kill Jews whether or not Jimmy Swaggart messed up! The point being as the church tries to cast off the image of moral superiority that offends the world, we at the same time need to tell the world ‘yes, these things are still wrong, and these other things are still right’. When society came to John in the wilderness, he told them ‘what they must do’ he did not engage them in a long discussion on whether or not we can even determine what they need to do! He simply called them to repentance and back to the original intent of the law, he was preparing the way for Messiah.
(1128) yesterday I got with a few homeless buddies, found out that Eddy got arrested and sent back to San Antonio, some sort of serial killer charge, KIDDING! A child support thing, it is funny, the guys have picked up my morbid sense of humor. One time I had Tim with me, a good friend who has been homeless for years. We picked up my daughter from school, they know my friends and all, sometimes as they were growing up they would drive by them with their high school friends and all, see them at the corners. They would be like ‘oh, those are my dad’s friends’. So when I had Tim in the truck as we were picking up my daughter, I tell her ‘this is my friend Tim, he has spent many years in prison [she looks at me like ‘are you kidding me dad, picking me up from school with these bums in the truck!’] Tim tells her ‘yes, I had some serial killer charges that I was dealing with at the time’ he was kidding too! But anyway Eddy got sent to San Antonio, and the cops have been harassing some of the guys. I also wanted to talk a little bit more on Nehemiah chapter 5, Nehemiah really gets on the nobles/elders, he tells them that they were putting too much of a burden on Gods people, some of them were going into debt to simply pay the required taxes to the leaders. Nehemiah rebukes them strongly! He says ‘all the time I was laboring among you as a governor, I turned down the normal pay governors get. I also paid out of my own pocket for the expenses of my team and staff, plus I did not purchase any real estate of my own, but totally dedicated myself to the cause’. The nobles were engaging in the building up of their own financial fortunes, understand this wasn’t forbidden in and of itself, but at the same time the average people were being told to do and give more, to the point where they were actually going in debt as the leaders were increasing in wealth, Nehemiah felt this was wrong. Like the apostle Paul, he would lay down the right to build wealth [purchasing his own land] while working and leading Gods flock. He simply felt it to be a wrong example for him to be gaining in wealth while the people were going into debt; he laid down his own right to prosper for the sake of the people. One of the things Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for was they were putting heavy burdens on the people, but they themselves were not willing to bear the same load. Often times in the world of ‘full time ministry’ we see good men get into scenarios where they unwittingly fall into this mindset, they fall into patterns of becoming wealthy, receiving large salaries at the expense of many low wage supporters, they often see this as a legitimate expression of ‘church/ministry’ while the scripture warns against leaders profiting from the people, while the people themselves are under a burden. I like Nehemiah’s example, he willingly gave up the right to grow his own portfolio while the average church goer was struggling, although he had a right to the governors salary, he saw it to be more noble to donate his time and skills at his own expense, freely he had received, freely he gave back.
(1128) Let me share a few testimonies; I type all this stuff from my laptop, I never work from a desk top. I have 2 laptops that I use, one as a backup if the other goes down [I realized a while back that it disturbs things too much to not type until it gets fixed!] One laptop misses letters as you type, I used to think it was my novice typing skills [I am bad! My daughter caught me doing the one finger thing while looking at the keys and couldn’t believe it] that was the problem, but I actually started looking at the screen while typing and realized certain letters don’t show up, you have to backspace and do it again. The other laptop has a mouse problem, it won’t always respond, this is frustrating for someone who cuts and pastes all over this blog! So when one computer gets me mad, I switch to the other one. Yesterday as I was battling with the mouse problem, out of frustration I said ‘Lord, give me a break! I can’t deal with this’ and it immediately started working, for the first time ever since I got it [it was a used computer when I bought it]. I also prayed about it these past few days while typing, sort of like seriously believing the Lord could fix it, you know you forget stuff like this at times. Then the other day I told you guys how I had an old buddy from prison write me, I had a package of teaching stuff I was going to send him. In the old days I would write the brothers in prison while at the fire house, you have time in to sit around and do this stuff. But it’s really been a while since I regularly wrote any prison buddies [I have written many hundreds of letters in the past, no exaggeration] but I had the letter and stuff in the truck and kept putting it off. Finally the day I sent it was the same day my daughter got hired for a job with the state. My two oldest daughters attend college and have had good jobs. My oldest  is now a teacher at the high school she graduated from. My second oldest was a veterinarian assistant, but was looking for something else. She applied for some counselor thing with the state, a job that you usually don’t get unless you have connections. Sure enough the day I sent the packet, she got it! The bible says if you help the poor, reach out to the hurting, spend your time and resources freely for others, that God will reward you. I felt like the Lord returned the favor. As I just read Nehemiah chapter 5, Nehemiah rebukes the leaders for charging interest from the people. The Jews were mortgaging their lands and homes and going into debt trying to accomplish Gods work. The leaders were profiting from the situation. Nehemiah rebuked them, he even sounds like Paul when he says ‘all the time I was with you as governor [type of an apostle] I never took a salary, I provided for myself and my staff’ Paul says the exact same thing to the elders in Acts chapter 20. I think we as leaders need to re think some things. I was thinking the other day how that I have no Christian relationships with anybody in which I ever ask, or receive any financial reward. No offering thing, never speak in ‘a church’ and take an offering. I simply have the freedom to by pass the whole mess. One time the homeless brothers told me ‘brother, if you need your yard cut, or any work done at your house, let us know’ I could tell that they talked about it amongst themselves, sort of like ‘hey, the brother spends a lot on us, lets help him’. I turned down the offer anyway, they are used to local contractors hiring them at slave wages, I wanted them to know I wasn’t trying to get something from them. Although I have kidded about it at times, one time one of them finally got accepted for social security, they were gonna get a big check. I told them ‘you know I sense the Lord telling me that I am supposed to start hanging out with you a little more’! In the long run God will reward you if you really do stuff for free. Leaders, do you have regular friendships with people whom you never bring up money or offerings with? Are the people who know you most always being challenged in a financial way? Always needing to give more? Nehemiah rebuked the nobles because the ‘laity’ were being consumed with having to pay their own bills, plus support the nobles financially, and pay for the structures! Nehemiah said he wouldn’t charge the people, that God would reward him instead, I think he did.
(1125) if you have been paying attention, you’ll notice that I have been reading thru Matthew these last few weeks. Let’s finish this sporatic thing with Jesus final command ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel to every one, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe all the things I taught you, I will always be with you, all power is now given to me, I authorize you to go’ [my paraphrase] I wanted to hit on the command of Jesus for us to teach the nations the things he taught us. Over the years you will notice that one of my pet peeves has been the emphasis the modern church puts on the command to tithe found in Malachi, yet the many commands of Jesus about giving to the poor, helping out the down and out; these commands of Jesus seem to take second place in the tier of importance for the average church goer. In a sense we [leaders] have failed to actually teach the nations the things Jesus taught us! We have taught the nations good stuff from Malachi, boy do they have a grasp on Paul! And oh yes, John writes with such love and compassion, doesn’t he? I don’t want to be crude, I understand that as Evangelicals we believe all of Gods word [Malachi, Paul, etc.] the point I am making is all of these writings have to be seen thru the primary ‘constitution’ of Jesus and his gospel. The Old Testament says we should execute homosexuals, kids who curse their parents and women caught cheating! Now, most of us realize that these commands are no longer valid in a literal way [I hope you understand!] So as believers we need to view all of the words of scripture thru the ethos [values] of Jesus. How did he respond when the Pharisees brought the woman taken in adultery to him? They even said ‘Moses in the law said she should be stoned, what do you say’? He forgives the woman, does not condone her sin, and lets the religious leaders know that they were in no position to judge this woman. As the church embarks on the next millennium, we need to re focus our efforts and instructions on the life and purpose of Jesus. I am not advocating rejecting Paul’s teachings [as some advocate!] or doing away with the Old Testament [as others also advocate] but I am saying we need to take seriously the great commission that Jesus gave us. Are we really teaching people the actual things that Jesus made the priority? I know he told the religious leaders ‘you tithe and stuff, but have overlooked the heavier matters of the law; yes, you should have tithed [telling this to Jews under the law sitting in ‘Moses seat’ not to Gentile believers!] and also have shown mercy and love and compassion’ even the law put the emphasis on these things! Lets try and re balance some things these next few years, lets look seriously at the things that Jesus actually taught [the red letters!] and see if these are the same things we are focusing on. He doesn’t say a whole lot about the ‘just war’ doctrine, he seems like he’s always rebuking the wealthy folk! Let’s see the things he actually taught, and then teach those things! Got it?
(1115) I have been driving around the past few days with a package of materials that I needed to send off to my buddy in prison. I kept putting it off, then I got a message on my cell from his brother in Kingsville, he wants to know if I can send his bother a bible too. So I will stick a bible in the package in a little while, it saved me the extra mailing. Just read the parable of the vineyard owner who leases out his land to caretakers. When the owner sends his servants for the produce, they beat the brothers up! The owner sends his son [Jesus] and they say ‘here’s the son, if we kill him we can have the inheritance [worldly wealth] to ourselves’. I have seen ‘an evil done under the sun’ it’s virtually impossible to preach a materialistic gospel with the Jesus of the New Testament in it. I mean he rails time and again against wealth ‘what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and loses his soul’ I can go on forever quoting him. But some have ‘killed the son’ [eliminated his true image] from the vineyard, and now they can cease upon the inheritance! OUCH! [By ‘eliminate’ I mean they have refashioned his image and message and have presented him in a different light than what the scripture portrays]. I have been reading a little on the church fathers, these are the brothers during the post apostolic period up until around the 4th century. Many Anglicans/Protestants have converted back to Catholicism because of the reading of these men. These church leaders shared a sort of general view of conversion and Christian living. Evangelicals often have difficulty reading them, they don’t teach a strong ‘one time’ ask Jesus into your heart type conversion, more along the lines of ‘believe the gospel, obey Gods commands, get baptized in water and become a member of the church universal’. I love studying the brothers! Cyprian, the 3rd century bishop from Carthage, North Africa was embroiled in the ‘lapsed’ controversy. During one of persecutions many of the believers forsook Christ and burned incense to the cult of the emperor. After the persecution ceased, some wanted back in to the church. Those who did not reject Christ said ‘no way, you guys walked away, it’s all over’. But Cyprian would say that Jesus told Peter that even if your brother sins seventy times seven, you are to forgive. Cyprian erred on the side of mercy [a good way to err!] he would ultimately be killed in the year 259 for the faith. Though these church fathers were not doctrinally perfect, and they also weren’t the only expression of the Christian church in the first few centuries, yet they supply a wealth of knowledge and experience that we can all learn from, these are ‘part of the vineyard’ if you will. When you have a broad range of reading and study from all the various Christian communions, then it’s easy to spot the false, these might try to ‘kill the son’ but wisdom won’t allow it.
(1113) just read the parable of the vineyard owner who goes out and hires workers at different times of the day. The ones he hires early in the day agree to a ‘penny’ a day. Thru out the day he brings more workers in and agrees to pay them the same. When time comes to pay them, he calls the workers who only worked a few hours and pays them the Penney. Now the guys who worked all day are thinking ‘Geez, he probably will pay us more than the original agreement, surely he wouldn’t pay these guys the same as us, we worked all day for heavens sake!’ But when it was their turn he paid them the same. Now, these guys got mad, why? Simply out of their own view of ‘fairness’ they were mad that the land owner made these other ‘less worthy’ workers equal to them. The guys who worked all day were not cheated, they got what the boss told them they would get, they were simply mad that the boss treated the less worthy guys the same. This story speaks to the mindset of the first century Jew with regards to their offence at Jesus acceptance of the Gentile nations. What offended the Jew was they felt like Jesus should not have been so willing and accepting of those who came in ‘at the last hour’ so to speak. The Jews went thru hell for many years, suffered as Gods people, stuck up for Gods name and honor. They were waiting for the day that God was going to teach these pagan nations a thing or two! Instead God treats them as equal partners! This offence would cause them to reject their Messiah, Paul speaks about this in Romans. God will work thru the jealousy that the Jews are feeling over his receiving of the Gentiles and this will eventually bring the Jews in, God ways are higher than ours. When I first read the story earlier I felt like it spoke to my situation as well. After I moved to Corpus from Kingsville, I had some of our old buddies feel bad ‘hey, John is now spending all his time with these homeless bums!’ They wouldn’t say it like that, but they did say things like ‘don’t forget about us!’ One of my buddies from Kingsville was the son of one of the heroin addicts that was part of the first-generation of guys I worked with [not the same family I mentioned the other day, we had a few families of addicts/convicts that made up the core ‘membership’ of our church] But it was funny, I would go and pick up the son [he was only a couple of years younger than me, I was in about the same age group as the sons, though the fathers were my friends] and the aunt would tell me ‘Emits in the back room brother John, go get him for church’ the whole family would come to our meetings. I would knock on the door and tell Emit ‘brother Emit lets go. I hope you guys are not in their smoking pot!’ [I was just kidding, or prophesying?] Years later Emit would tell me he was in their with his buddies getting high, and they would be in shock ‘who the hell is banging on the door!’ and ditch the pot! I would loved to have seen their faces! Emits dad would raid my fridge when he came to our garage meetings. We rented a building at first [an old hospital- just a conference room area] but eventually moved the meetings to my garage, I fixed it up nice, it looked good. As soon as Emit senior would arrive, he’d go into the house and raid the fridge! I eventually would hide the good stuff before church. These are the brothers that have expressed to me the feelings of ‘hey, we were with you from the beginning, these Corpus guys came in at the end, why are you making them equal to us’? Because they never raided my fridge! KIDDING! People go thru various stages in life, in the past I have struggled with letting go of some of the old ministry patterns, still wanting to travel to the old towns and help. I had to recognize that certain things were meant for only a season, they will hopefully bear fruit for a long time, but my active involvement was only for a season. They said to the vineyard owner ‘you are making these others equal with us’ and it offended them, but Jesus wasn’t dismissing his first group [Jews] he was simply helping others get in on it while there was still time left.
(1110) yesterday I fell asleep on the couch watching Shindler’s list, of course I have seen it before but it’s worth watching a few times. My daughter woke me up to give me a letter she found in the mail box from an old friend of mine. I was surprised to have received a letter from Leonard; I used to preach to his dad in the county jail back in the 80’s, I became friends with the whole family [6 sons 5 daughters- if I can remember?] One of the boys eventually became one of our best brothers in Kingsville today. Still serving God and drug free after many years in prison and on hard main line drugs. The last time I spoke to Leonard [now in prison] was around 19 years ago. At the time I was ‘backsliding’ and ran into him in some alley in Kingsville. He ‘jumped’ me, hit with a sucker punch. I can still remember it. I took my glasses off and whacked him hard, I had him on the ground nailing him in the face, his sisters pulled me off. A bad time for me. I don’t think I have spoke to him since, I know all is forgotten. I have heard from his brother how he is back serving the Lord and all [in prison!] and his brother has kept him updated on ‘our journey’ [the progress of the ministry since those days]. I will read the letter later today. Now, Shindler’s list was good, there is a scene where the kids are being separated from their mothers and being taken to the death camps, the mothers are weeping. It reminded me of the Old Testament prophets words ‘Rachel weeping for her children, they are no more’. This verse was fulfilled in Jesus day when king Herod slaughtered the children, the wise men did not reveal to the king who Jesus was so he slew the kids from 2 years and under. God had his prophet speak about young children who would be born at some future date and who would live very short lives. They were important enough to make it into the prophetic history of Israel, don’t tell me God doesn’t care for the unborn! At the end of the movie Shindler buys as many Jews as he can to save them, and he begins regretting that he didn’t do more, he cant seem to see what he did as noble, something effects him and he is wracked with the guilt of not doing more. There are a few verses that I come across every few years, and when I read them I stop and allow them to have full impact. One is the verse from King David where he mourns over the death of his son ‘Oh Absalom, my son Absalom, would to God I had died in your place’ this verse reveals the brokenness of God over the loss of his Son, an aspect that is rarely seen when discussing the Atonement [God was punishing Jesus on our behalf, Penal substitution. Yet at the same time broken over his death!] The other verse is when Jesus says to his friends ‘the things concerning me have an end’ it strikes me as both sad and tragic, his friends were hoping for a full life ‘long live the king’ type of a thing, but Jesus was surrounded with the reality of death. His close friend John recently died, they took his head off in prison. He is traveling a road that will end fairly soon, his friends wanted more. Jesus said ‘greater love has no man than this, that he would lay his life down for his friends’ how does a statement like ‘the things concerning me have an end’ affect you? What would you say to Jesus if he expressed these feeling towards you? We would want to say ‘No way, don’t talk like that!’ we would be more concerned with the things of men than of God. Live your life to the fullest, don’t get me wrong, but live it with the understanding that we are all mortal ‘the things concerning us will soon come to an end’. Shindler did all he could do, at the end he felt like he didn’t do enough. Live well.
(1103) A few posts back I discussed John the Baptist, just read Matthew 11 and this is the chapter where Jesus says much about John. Now John was in jail and he sends the messengers to Jesus asking if he is the Messiah or not. I explained this a few days back and won’t do it again here. But Jesus begins telling the people that John was the one the prophet Malachi spoke of ‘God will send the messenger Elijah before the Messiah; he will prepare things for me’ John was also called ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness’. Jesus says to the people ‘what did you go to see? When you went to hear John in the desert, were you finding a reed shaken with the wind [a wishy washy pleaser of men] or did you expect someone in a three piece suit?’ John basically ran rough shod over the entire image of sophistication and affluence, yes he was rough and looked a little scraggly [leather loin cloth and eating locusts!] didn’t dress the part, that’s for sure! Then Jesus gave a description of the day, he said they were like kids in the market place saying ‘we sang for you and you didn’t dance, we mourned for you and you didn’t cry’ he was telling them that they expected performance, they wanted to illicit a response from those who were supposed to be teachers of the law. He said they were never satisfied, they complained that John didn’t eat regularly and must be demon possessed. Then they accused Jesus of eating too much! Ah, there was just no pleasing this bunch. Reminds me of the political world of our day. A few things; these last few weeks I have tried to share the story of Jesus and his disciples. The feelings they were experiencing and the things they had to deal with. In the case of John the Baptist Jesus said he was the specific person spoken about in the Old Testament, as we identify and see ourselves in these stories, we should NEVER begin viewing ourselves as the actual persons spoken about in the stories! For instance, many have read revelation chapter 11 and began seeing themselves as the actual witnesses spoken about, the ‘two witnesses’ thing. Many have become cult leaders by doing this! From my part of the world David Koresh did this in Waco. But the Muenster prophets did this 500 year ago during the Reformation, so the tendency to begin seeing yourself as actual biblical characters ought to be rejected! But you say ‘well brother, how do you know I’m not one of the two witnesses spoken about in revelation’. The reason I know is because I’m the other one and your not one of them! ONLY A JOKE!! Take my word for it, none of us are the two witnesses in Revelation 11. Just needed to make sure everyone stays on track here. Now back to John [the Baptist!] he challenged the people to ‘repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ in the message bible it says ‘change the way you think and act, because Gods kingdom is here now’. Yes, this does include turning away from sin, but it also means we need to look at things from a different view. Much of what I have written on the nature of the church would fit in here. As people see the church for what she really is [community of people] they will act differently, their priorities will change. I took a few homeless brothers to a park/lake area in my town and we had a good fellowship. These guys are smart! One was a realtor in San Antonio for many years, the other is like a scholar of sorts. I mean I mentioned the philosopher Immanuel Kant and my friend read and was aware of his system of belief! As we talked we shared a little about the wrong priorities of much of modern day church. My one friend [the realtor] said if the church was really doing it’s job in reaching out to the poor and oppressed, then there would be no need for the mission out post that we meet at. He understood how so much of modern church spends millions on facilities and salaries and stuff, yet the lost world is really not being touched in a real way. The overall discussion was good, these guys knew their stuff. The lake area we were at is off the beaten path, hidden inside some nice subdivision. We were surrounded by nice expensive homes, I’m sure many sincere believers were in them at the time, others at work trying to make a future for themselves. The collective offerings given by all the residents on any given Sunday is probably in the thousands, yet right outside their windows were a few homeless Christian brothers. If I weren’t with them they probably would have had the cops come and harass them. John was preaching in the wilderness telling the people ‘change the way you think and act, God’s kingdom is here right now’ I think John knew what he was talking about.
(1102) FOOTBALL JIM- I have never written about ‘football Jim’ before, he is one of the first ‘street people’ I met around 15 years ago. Jim is in his 70’s and doesn’t really qualify as homeless. He lives on social security and shares a small apt. with his brother. He walks around a lot, goes to the mission to eat the meals and I have taken Jim out to eat over the years. Jims the type that doesn’t really want to ‘talk religion’ that’s fine, I actually hardly talk it myself! A few weeks back I heard he was in the hospital with walking pneumonia [or should I say ammonia?] I asked a lady friend of his where he was at and she told me. Then yesterday I saw his lady friend and asked how he was doing and she said he’s out and will be here soon. So when he showed up I asked how he was feeling and all, he’s doing fine. I told him I did ask about him and had him in my prayers. As the serving time comes for the meals I just sit out front [where you see me sitting in my photo] and read or meet new friends. Jim came out and sat with me a little, told me how he heard some people didn’t ask about him and all, I could tell he was keeping score, asking his lady friend ‘did anybody ask about me?’ and stuff. He must have heard that I did ask. Jim sat with me for a few minutes, told me why he doesn’t go to the other free meals that a Pastor friend of mine does twice a week. He said he doesn’t like it when people offer food but require you to hear preaching. He then told me that even though he doesn’t go to church that he does believe in the Lord, that when Jesus was on the Cross he told the thief ‘today you will be with me in paradise’. I told Jim it’s true, that all who believe and accept the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus will go to heaven. I didn’t want to really go any further, Jims been around for many years, he’s heard it all. But I found it interesting that after 15 years of Jim knowing that I was somewhat of a ‘street preacher’ that he shared this story with me. It meant a lot to him to know that I simply asked about him when he was sick, somehow this broke a barrier and Jim talked ‘religion’ for the first time in 15 years. Funny thing isn’t it?
(1096) I had one of those weird prophetic experiences yesterday, I was reviewing a radio tape that I made a while back [6 months to a year?] though I don’t listen to myself on the radio, I review the tape one time before airing, and I will be surprised how many times the thing I just wrote on the blog matches what I said a year ago! I mean the exact words. So yesterday as I am listening to the tape while cleaning the house, I am saying to myself ‘wow, this is exactly what I just taught’ and then on the tape I say ‘you know, sometimes people hear these messages years later and say “wow, that’s exactly what I just went thru”’ weird, isn’t it? Okay, being we have been talking somewhat about Jesus and his movement, let’s do a little about style/procedure. A few weeks back we had a busy day around the mission where I hang out; various Christians/ministers donating time to help out. I met a new brother who introduced himself and we both shared about our various ministries, I told him how I have made many homeless friends and we get together and do stuff. Sometimes we travel to another town and ‘see how the brothers are doing in all the towns where I have preached the gospel’ [Paul does this in the book of Acts] But most of the time we are just friends. During this day as the other Christians were chipping in, fixing things and stuff, my other ‘ministry friend’ kind of wanted to talk ‘ministry’ he saw me sitting with my friends and kind of couldn’t understand what I was doing [just being friends!] sort of like ‘when are you going to do the preaching/teaching thing and then talk ministry?’ He was well meaning, but he just didn’t get the whole point. I do not see/have a ‘ministry’ thing that takes place outside of the confines of simply trying to live out the kingdom of God as a real person with other real people. These people ARE REALLY my friends, I don’t wrap things up and then ‘talk serious ministry’ this is serious ministry! It took some of my preacher friends some time to really see this, sort of like ‘gee, John has some ability to teach and all, if he would only get his act together and start a ‘church/ministry’ he could really be successful’! I have heard/felt this mindset many times. I believe we need to live as real people in society, the great need isn’t for more ‘ministries/businesses/churches’ to stir people up to give more money in order to carry out another endless series of projects! The need is for us to return to the ethos of Jesus as seen in the gospels and try to emulate [by the Spirits power] the things he did and taught. Jesus spent much time among the hopeless; he was teaching and doing good deeds. At the same time you had the religious class of professionals living as some type of upper-class clergy. Jesus style works a lot better.
(1093) woke up too early today, around 1 a.m. The first sound I heard was Dick Van Dyke singing ‘put on a happy face’ from some classic movie on the AMC channel. I never really listened to the words before, but he sings ‘don’t use the word tragic/tragedy in your vocabulary’ I must admit I have been using those words a bit too much. It sounded like a Joel Osteen sermon in stereo for heavens sake! I guess the Lord knew I wouldn’t have received it from a prosperity preacher. But how could I brush off Van Dyke? I know ‘who does Van Dyke think he is! Mr. big shot, big screen actor who stooped so low that he made the Dick Van Dyke show, no REAL actor would do a TV series’ yea, that makes me feel better. I was at the homeless hangout the other day [will be there today as well] now there are also a bunch of gang kids who hang out there, in Corpus we have somewhat of a gang problem, kids shooting every week and all, deaths every so often. I was walking with one of the homeless brothers passed a few of them, I mean you can tell by the way they look, I could never wear my pants half way down my backside! What the heck kind of cool look is that, I think it makes you look like an idiot! Well anyway one of them said something as we walked passed, I of course had to stop and give them one of those ‘are you talking to me’ type looks, to be honest I think the kid got a little scared, just being honest. Okay, I never listen to myself on the radio [maybe 5 times total in 13 years] and the other day I put the station on, seeing who’s new in the area and all. Sure enough I hear this brother, can’t really recognize the voice, but he sounds pretty good. It took me a minute to realize it was me! I quickly turned it off. Remember the Jeff Foxworthy thing? You might be going thru some stuff if you hear yourself on the radio and don’t know it’s you. Thought it fit in good here. My wife got an email from an old friend, she lives in Germany with her ‘new’ husband. We were friends with the lady years ago, I was friends with her first husband. She was the secretary at a Baptist church and yes, she ran off with the Pastor! She divorced my friend and married the Pastor. He left his family and they have been together for around 10 years now. I know people are human, they fall into stuff [I really know!] But I can’t see how the ex pastor can try and get things right and stay in the marriage, over the years I have had ups and owns, yes even times where me and my wife were separated but after getting things right, any side relationships had to go! I mean even stuff like ‘maybe God is in this’ being said by the other person [talking years ago by the way!] wouldn’t even register in my mind! I don’t know how pastors/ex pastors can continue in these types of relationships, God forgives, but the relationships just can’t go on like that. And I am not judging, been there done that, just when things are over you have to do your best to make things right. Just read ‘blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God. Blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy’ I have learned in my life that there are times where I can ‘see’ God. Days when I know if I stay on course I will hear him, I am the type that if I backslid into drugs and bought a bunch of stuff, that I would not be able to keep the stuff overnight, I would have to throw it out. Or if I woke up and thought ‘later on I will mess up, but for now let me do the prayer/teaching thing’ I wouldn’t be able to do it. Now, if later on wound up being bad, that’s another story, but to actually premeditate the thing doesn’t happen with me, I know I ‘cant see God’ when not truly desiring a pure heart! Now, I have had Christian friends who could do stuff like that, i.e.; staying in the new marriage after leaving your former family, I know I could never do this. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are divorced people who move on with their lives and God forgives them, but the above situation is much worse than that. God says ‘if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear you’ to live with the conscious, ongoing acceptance of sin in your life will cut you off from the presence of God! Blessed are the pure [not perfect!] in heart, for these are the ones who get to see God.
(1092) wasn’t too sure which way to go? Was thinking of the verse ‘for this reason have I brought you to this PLACE [of mourning] so you could see and understand and meditate on the things I am showing you and then you can speak it to my people’ [have no idea where this verse is!] Then started reading Jesus great Sermon on the Mount; he starts [Matt. 5] ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek’ these are the ones who will inherit the earth. Just finished an early prayer time, it’s strange but when you pray regularly for nations and regions, in some cosmic sense you are ‘dwelling in the nations’, I mean you can see/sense yourself inheriting the earth! Yesterday I was going to get with the homeless brothers, but I had to run some errands with my daughter so I changed plans. I wound up driving to the gulf, where I live I am surrounded by bays, oceans [Gulf of Mexico] and all sorts of streams. So I spent a few hours under a bridge where you can listen to the cars driving overhead, right next to this channel. My truck radio went out a few weeks back, good! I would have probably had the news on and would have missed an opportunity to meditate. I was thinking about how I always have had the next project, mission, ‘thing to accomplish’ on my mind. I was too consumed with accomplishing some task. No matter what stage of my life, there always seemed to be the never ending thought of ‘what’s next’ and all the baggage that’s comes with it; ‘what will it take to accomplish it, what’s the ten  year outlook, who are the key people who will be involved’ [remember- don’t associate with people who will kill your vision!] Jesus is talking to his disciples and he says ‘blessed are those who struggle with stuff, who mourn [go thru deep valleys] these are the ones who inherit’ Jesus style of ministry is so radically different than ours. He had no need to make it to Rome, he was content to give himself away for ‘the least of these’. He invested in people who seemed worthless, people that you would disassociate from ‘look Jesus, we caught this woman in adultery, in the very act!’ [I guess they were voyeurs?] and how does he respond? ‘I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more’ he doesn’t whitewash the offense, chalk it up to some religious system of morality that man has inflicted upon society [Freud’s theory] but he plainly says ‘yes, you have been found out. You have sinned, like every one else on the planet, you have sinned’ this was no secret, she couldn’t hide anymore. Her dark secret has now been exposed, the lifestyle she has struggled with is now in the open for all to see! Not only that, but the long awaited for Messiah, the one who was foretold by the prophets, the holiest man to ever walk the planet! He too has seen my humanity, my utter failure to live up to the moral code. My story is forever recorded in the gospels for heavens sake! [Well, she didn’t now that] All the efforts to cover up, to bide a little time until she could get her act together have now been crushed. Her day of mourning has now arrived. Jesus tells her ‘I do not condemn you, don’t do this again’ Wow! Blessed are those that mourn.
(1088) still jumping around in the prophets, was surprised to see how many verses I quote during prayer that come from Micah. Just read the famous prophecy about Jesus ‘out of thee Bethlehem, the least of all places, shall come forth one that will rule, have great authority’. The strange thing about the calling and destiny of Jesus was he grew up and spent his whole ministry in a sort of backwoods region of the ancient world. His spoken language [Aramaic] was considered underclass. You see two very distinct types of living in our New Testament; Rome was a strong civic center, an upper-class place where knowledge and politics ruled the day. These outlying areas that Rome conquered and placed leaders over them, these areas were low class places. You see this play out in the gospels, a sort of fishing/agrarian lifestyle, as opposed to Rome and her obvious ruling aura. Paul going thru all these legal loopholes as he defends himself. Appearing before these puppet kings and rulers, going up against the quasi religious authorities that Rome allowed some freedom for the sake of stability in their realm. That’s why you see the religious authorities appealing to Pontius Pilate, he, as Rome’s representative, had the power to execute Jesus, the religious authorities did not. So anyway Jesus starts his ministry in these territories that are basically low class. He gathers around him a hapless bunch of followers, and starts his little ‘movement’. That’s fine, let him humor himself; after all he isn’t the first to claim some type of Messianic title and to think he will challenge society. He does seem to have somewhat of an aura that compels people to listen to him, this irks the religious class ‘why are you listening to him!’ They figure if they ignore him he will go away. His family actually thinks he is becoming unhinged, the type that would need one of those interventions ‘Now Jesus, we love you, we know your into this religious thing and all, that’s fine. But we are now getting a little worried, you seem to think you are on this special mission from God, that you must complete it at all costs’ They feared he was losing his mind! But hey, there is only so much you can offer a person, if they don’t get the help, it is their choice. So Jesus continues riling up the authorities, his silly movement consists of him spending all his time with these low life’s of society. I mean, can’t he see their pulling him down! He has these whole nights where he prays to God, and then these underclass are pulling at him, always needing help! Geez, they are in their circumstances because of their own sins, just let them reap what they sowed. Well don’t worry about it, he will soon fade. He is causing somewhat of a stir with the Roman authorities, they really are not up on all the religious questions that seem to be causing the problems between him and the Jewish religious figures, but the territories are experiencing disharmony, Rome does not like this! So settle it quickly before things get out of hand, these Jews might seem harmless, but they have a history of rebelling against other nations who bring them under tribute, so we need to quell the uprising. So Jesus continues on this somewhat destructive course, I mean even Peter tells him ‘there is no way we are going to let you go to Jerusalem and be killed! Now this thing is getting out of hand, listen to some sense man’ Jesus responds ‘get behind me satan, you are more concerned with the things of men than of God’. Jesus really believed he was on this divine mission, nothing we say to the guy can dissuade him! But really, how much ultimate effect can he have, he is from this low class area, what an ignorant bunch of hopeless slobs! Well the day has come, enough is enough, for some reason the Jewish leaders won’t leave it alone, now they managed to frame him with some trumped up charges and get him before the Roman court. Pilate has a lot on his plate, the leaders at Rome want him to settle this thing, quickly! So he does a brief reading of the charges and sees that this Jesus is accused of claiming to be Gods Son, this sent one from eternity past into this time and place of human history. How could this be, what type of god would predetermine his own Son to arrive in these low class areas, this cant be. Pilate asks the man himself ‘do you really think you are Gods Son? Brother, you better start speaking up for yourself, you don’t realize we are not playing games here, you managed to stir your people up to the point where they are pressuring me to execute you’. Jesus is somewhat different than all the other criminals, he seems to be in control, saying his only crime was speaking the truth. He claimed to be Gods Son, the promised messiah spoken about in the Old Testament prophets. How does he know this, how can he be so sure that this destiny he seems to be fulfilling is really from God? Maybe he’s just misreading the whole thing, sure Micah says Gods predestined one who will come from this area, but how does he know it’s him? Pilate has a tuff decision to make, as he mulls it over his wife tells him ‘don’t have anything to do with this man, I dreamed a dream, this man is just!’ Wow, my wife never told me anything like this before! I know, I will give the Jews what they want, convict him of the crime and pass the death sentence on him, but this is this tradition they have, during this special religious season [Passover] they have a custom of pardoning one who is going to face death. Surely they will pardon Jesus, the only other guy scheduled for execution is Barrabas, everybody knows he deserves it! The day arrives, Pilate goes thru with the plan and the people holler ‘crucify Jesus, let Barrabas go!’ What! He has really done nothing wrong, I wouldn’t have even passed the sentence if I knew you would actually go thru with the whole thing. He is mad, the Jews tricked him ‘I know, I’ll put this accusation over the cross- THE KING OF THE JEWS, this will stick in their craw!’ he does it, they are infuriated ‘don’t say he is our king! Say he claimed to be our king’ Pilate says ‘what I have written, I have written’. Well this isn’t the end of our story, but I have gone on too long for now. Who would have ever thought this simple carpenter from such an insignificant town could have stirred up so many emotions, man he is carrying this destiny of his thru the lives of many people, he took it all the way to the leaders of the empire for heavens sake! Oh well, we tried to help the poor guy, we tried to talk him into dropping this whole purpose and destiny thing. We tried to tell him ‘good, we are happy you are healing and helping people, you managed to get this little following of unlearned men’ [not illiterate, but no higher learning in the whole group, not even Jesus!] but he took the thing too far, he wouldn’t back down. He got way too many people mad, the ruckus made it back to Rome and they did what they thought they needed to do to settle things down, just make it go away. Boy were they wrong.
-(1084) I was thinking of doing some politics, but it jut gets me mad. One of the homeless brothers has a unique tattoo; he has the letters that were on Christ’s Cross inscribed on his forehead! You can’t miss it, it’s huge. I have run into Grumpy a few times over the years, he was never really in the group of close knit brothers that I hang with. Some of the guys are heavy drinkers and violent, good guys, but you can tell the regular brothers try and avoid them at times. Not too long ago I had a good chance to fellowship with Grumpy, he was of course drunk, but it was early enough in the day for him to function coherently. He was staying at this ‘flop house’ with a few guys. Grumpy has a Catholic background, at one point he clearly articulated Gods majesty thru the story of Moses, he was quoting the famous ‘I AM’ name that God spoke to Moses. I could tell that he knew his stuff. Over about an hour conversation, and a short bible study thing that I was asked to give, Grumpy really opened up, he cried as he shared his past failures and stuff. Though he was one of the violent guys [fight at the drop of the hat] yet the Lord was dealing with him. After talking for a while, he even got into Revelation and the scriptures on those who have the mark of the beast or Gods mark on them. He then mentions the tattoo on his forehead, realizing that I must have been noticing it as we were talking. At first, when he mentioned the ‘mark’ I didn’t know what he was referring to, it did not register in my mind that he had this huge tattoo on his head, for some reason I simply did not ‘see it’ the whole time of our conversation. I guess it’s hard for people to live down their failures, the stupid things they have done in life. I don’t know if Grumpy regrets the mark on his head, but I know he seemed surprised that I really did not notice it at all, sort of like ‘how can he not see this mark on me!’ Scripture talks about people having marks/stains that they can’t seem to get rid of. After Cain killed Abel God marked him for life. Isaiah says ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’. My friend must feel self conscious about this permanent mark that he probably got when drunk, this sign of the guilt he feels because of the many failures in his life, seeing himself as one ‘cursed on a Cross’ but the fact the Cross happened means we don’t have to struggle with guilt [though we all do, at least I do] but his mercies are new every morning. Not too long after my conversation with Grumpy he took off to California, he will continue walking the streets with this mark/sign that will prophetically speak to the world around him. Christians driving to church will no doubt see him on some street corner, trying to stop their cars a few feet before the light, doing their best to not have to look into the face of fallen man. Then maybe as they speed past him they will get a good look at his eternal mark. Maybe for a second they will see Jesus thru fallen humanity, maybe they will think of the words of Jesus when he said ‘when you did not show mercy to these, you did not show mercy to me’.
(1082) ‘For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth. For they are the messengers of the Lord’ Malachi 2:7. I remember a few years back, I was listening to the various teachings that were on the radio station that I broadcast on. Some brother out of the Fort Worth area used to buy air time and all. One time the focus was ‘what is Gods essential character?’ if there were only one word to describe who god is, what his essential makeup was, what would that word be? And of course the answer was ‘abundance’ specifically ‘financial increase’. I know of know other way to describe stuff like this, it falls under the category of ministerial malpractice! God commands leaders/teachers to seek the truth coming from him, we are responsible to at least get the most basic things right! What would be the most obvious answer to the question of how to define God in a word? Surely every preacher should know the answer. It would be ‘God is love’. While there are many attributes of God [omnipotence, omniscience, etc.] yet the ‘one’ word definition, if you had to give one, would be love [yes, he is Spirit too]. The last word you should use to describe God would be ‘much money’. Paul said the false teacher’s god is their belly; their appetites, they live to satisfy their desires. Jesus taught us one of the greatest desires of man is acquiring great wealth. He said you can’t serve God and money [mammon]. Why people still send their offerings to ministries like this is beyond me. The challenge to wealth and oppressive wealthy nations/peoples is sown all thru out human history; Homers Iliad revealed the monster 12 centuries before Christ in his writings on the Trojan War. Adam Smith penned his famous book ‘wealth of nations’ in 1776. Challenges to oppressive govt’s. of men who use wealth and power to come against the poor in society are noble themes that all great prophetic voices have hit on [Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc.]. Who was thee singular greatest prophetic voice who engaged in this type of polemic? Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Most know him as the carpenter, but the actual word used to describe his trade in the Greek means ‘hand laborer’ [or day laborer] you know, those poor brothers we see waiting for a job on the corners of streets, going to ‘labor ready’ [a local place to find daily work]. It is quite possible that Jesus was ‘less’ than a carpenter/tradesmen, but more of an odd jobs worker. Willing to take any job he could get. Well, once he entered his teaching ministry, boy did he speak to power and wealth. If you read all the actual words of Jesus [yes, the red ones!] and try and come up with a singular theme thru out his writings, it could very well be his contrast of the rich and poor. The powerful oppression of wealth and unjust govt. against the poor and weak in society. His incessant condemnation of the wealthy and affluent, I mean you can’t possibly miss this! Unless you are not seeking the ‘law’ [words] that actually were coming from his MOUTH! Malachi rebuked the priests of his day, they were functioning and active and everyone knew they were priests, yet they were not really listening to the words of God himself, I think we need to all give heed to what the brother said.
(1081) Was thinking earlier what we should talk about today, I have been jumping around thru some of the prophetic books [Revelation, Zechariah, etc.] but then I remembered I got a letter yesterday from my buddy in the New Jersey jail [I have some in the city jail, some in the state prison system of Jersey]. So I thought I should read the letter and mention it. Sure enough they didn’t take the check, I sent him a 25.00 dollar check and they sent it back; it needs to be a money order. The guys need money to get stuff from the commissary and stuff, I have done this plenty of times [by ‘done this’ I mean sent the money!] I realize now that the Lord is going to have me do a little more writing than I expected. Nothing wrong with it, for some reason I didn’t expect my buddy to write back and want to keep in touch. That’s fine. He also told me he was reading the stuff I copied from my blog; he says ‘it’s strange I can hear your voice when I read your stuff’. Just a few weeks back I was ‘thinking’ about the dynamic of hearing someone’s voice when you read their books, I mean it was a conscious thought that I couldn’t shake. Now I realize it was one of those prophetic moments, basically the Lord was telling me ‘people will hear your voice when they read your stuff’. My buddy handed out a few of the ministry cards I sent, he told me some of the other brothers might write. It’s strange, I felt the Lord was telling me a few years ago that he was going to expand my territory and I would once again have contact with New Jersey, and at the same time some of the Texas contacts would wane [the prison stuff- I still have a bunch of cities we speak into]. So it seems like some of this is coming to pass. To be honest with you guys, I have had some tough times these past few weeks. I can’t be ‘too real’ on a public blog like this! But take my word for it, I have struggled somewhat. You know what’s funny [or sad?] I have preacher ‘acquaintances’ who preach great, they always have an excellent public persona. Some think I am too ‘worldly’ [possibly so!] but they mean my open sharing and stuff on the blog. Sort of like we should always be in a preaching mode and ‘God’ forbid we should ever be real. I know some of these men personally, some of them have had more ‘private’ problems than you could ever imagine. Now, I am not judging them, but if all we ever see/know about people are their platform image, then we are seeing an unrealistic picture of the Christian life. Our preaching [American Christianity] is consumed with self-help techniques and psycho babble. We present an unreal picture to the world. Then I hear preachers say that this real life style, being open and not perfect, is wrong. I think the American church needs an overhaul in general. I got an email from the news paper that messed up my bill last month, this paper [Jersey Journal] is the only one I put my name in with the ad, the purpose is for any old friends to see it and maybe read the site. In the other papers I just run the blog ad. But the Journal always treats me right, the poor brother who handles my account always profusely apologizes when something goes wrong ‘please forgive us for the mistake’ and stuff like that. So this time I just couldn’t resist it, I emailed him back ‘NO, I CAN NOT FORGIVE YOU GUYS THIS TIME!’ of course I was kidding, but I would have loved to have seen the look on his face when he read it. So anyway, today we learned that we are all in the same boat, we all struggle with things in life, but during this life we are also called upon by God to give ourselves away for others. To transcend our own weaknesses and give of our time and money for the benefit of others. People who live in the real world need others who live in the real world to reach out and help. One of my favorite movies is Donnie Brascoe [yes, I watch the mafia stuff]. It’s the true story of an undercover F.B.I. agent who infiltrates the mob, he made it further in than any other agent in history. The danger was he identified so much with the brothers, that he had a difficult time differentiating between which world he was in. There is always a danger when living in the real world, we are to be in the world, not of it. But for mere mortals this can be difficult, surely Jesus would never identify too much with such sinful creatures! Oh wait, there is this little doctrine that just popped into my head, I think they call it THE INCARNATION.
(1074) Yesterday I met Edward; he is a homeless brother from San Antonio. He located to Corpus a few months ago. As I was helping him out during the day I realized he had a situation with another brother who owns a ‘church building’. The building is not being used so they worked out a deal with my friend, he would live in it and kinda be a caretaker while they are trying to sell it. Well after being with the brother most of the day I ‘discerned’ how he is in great strife with the owners. They have told him to leave and all, he is telling me about his ‘legal rights’ to stay [you do run into brothers like this. I have had buddies tell me stuff like this before ‘squatter’s rights’ and stuff. When one of my friends refused to get his motorcycle motor out of my garage, he started using the squatters rights ‘provision’ he saw how quickly I began dragging it out to the curb! He got it out.] So this is kind of a funny thing that the guys do at times. But it did get me to thinking about how often we mix ‘business’ with ‘church’ [charity]. I have a policy, whenever someone asks to borrow money, I NEVER do it, but I will GIVE them some, with the explicit directions to ‘not pay me back’. A few posts back I mentioned how I used to do the real estate thing; buying a cheap rental [some were not cheap] and renting it out until I could sell it. It’s not wrong for believers to do stuff like this, but Jesus also taught us that the pursuit of wealth can affect you in a bad way. At the time I was reading and learning about all types of money investments, consuming my thoughts and energies with this stuff. Then my bible reading/teaching would inevitably become ‘affected’ with this paradigm. I would just naturally gravitate towards the money portions of scripture, when coming across the classic ‘you cannot serve God and money’ verses; I would unconsciously stick it in the category of ‘church tradition’ even though Jesus was the one who said it! So its a popular trend for believers to get into the whole ‘God has called me into the ministry of teaching believers how to become financially independent, so lets spend our time building wealth for my business and at the same time helping other believers build wealth’ sounds noble, but it usually winds up focusing on the money stuff most of the time. It gets your focus on the wrong thing. So anyway I think we need to refocus our thoughts on the New Testament priorities, sure you can be a responsible business investor, nothing wrong with it. But don’t go down the road of ‘my ministry is to bring in the wealth’ you wont be the first [or last] person that has ‘felt this calling’.
(1072) I was gonna cover Jezebel today, but lets save it for later. I have a package sitting here, getting ready to send it off to a New Jersey prison. One of my buddies is in prison and it’s a good chance to get him to read some stuff. I copied a bunch of stuff from this blog and added a few notes. He is the friend we prayed for that almost died around a year ago. His name is Patrick, he had a bad overdose on drugs, but the Lord healed him in a miraculous way. You can read about it under the prayer request section. But he was not healed of everything. One of the ongoing problems is he did permanent nerve damage to his leg. One of the problems is ‘it kills you to go to the bathroom’ if you get my drift. Well anyway as it was being explained to me, I really couldn’t empathize that much. I of course would continue praying for him, but couldn’t totally relate. Then after my most recent bout with severe back pain, I too had the problem! I notice that after the severe pain finally goes away, there will be an increased loss of feeling to my right side. Well that affects the nerves in the leg as well, now I can empathize! When one of my homeless buddies came by last week, he asked if his brother could send me some money for him thru the internet. I told him I didn’t have an account like that. He believed me and all, but I explained to him that other ministries are set up like that, they receive offerings that way. But I don’t do anything like that, I don’t take offerings. So as we talked a little I let him know that I also don’t deduct any giving from my taxes [to be honest, now it’s cheaper for me to do the standard deduction. But when I first started doing this it was not for that reason]. Well anyway he said how it’s not wrong to at least benefit in some way thru the ministry stuff I do. I told him that I do realize that many good ministries do use these advantages, yet I have seen over the years that many unbelievers use this single excuse to reject the gospel. So I personally take that excuse away when it comes to us. The bible says Jesus suffered so he might have compassion and be able to identify with our struggles [Hebrews]. Paul told the Corinthians that the suffering he endured enabled him to better empathize with others. If I stopped spending the money on the ministry, or tried to set up an income stream from it, then I could probably afford health insurance. But I’d rather suffer a little now, and build up some eternal rewards for later. We need to understand the biblical doctrine of sacrifice a little bit more, for I trust that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us’ [Paul].
(1065) 1ST KINGS 15- In this chapter we see the various kings of Israel and Judah. Some good, some bad. Scripture says even though some did evil, yet for the sake of David, and the promises of God to him, the Lord still worked thru their reigns. I find it interesting how we are all part of a divine/dynastic rule. In essence we are inheriting the promises that God made to others who came before us. One of the previous verses we looked at [I think?] said ‘I have heard your prayers concerning this place [Solomon praying about the temple] and my eyes and heart will always be there, walk in my statutes and do my judgments and I will keep the promises that I made to David your father’ God is looking to fulfill his word to the previous generations, we are simply parts of the puzzle! It’s important for us to keep this in mind, it keeps us humble. Over the years I have lived in ‘two worlds’. As a firefighter I had friends/co-workers that took the road of responsibility in life, some invested in real estate [like myself] and did the whole rental thing. I sold everything and got out of the business years ago. Then I lived in the ‘homeless/drug-addict/ex-con’ world. These were/are my buddies who I have spent most of my ‘other life’ with. Not ‘a ministry’ per se, but real friends helping one another out. Many of these friends were/are talented and gifted, many actually work! Yes, I have had many homeless friends who worked on a regular basis- carpentry, yard work, painting. Now, many times the ‘normal world’ would simply see the plight of the ‘other world’ [of those who never seemed to make it in life] and think/say ‘look at our lives [normal world] we have pulled ourselves up by our own boot straps, and now the government wants to penalize me so I have to help those who were not responsible like me!’ while there is some degree of truth to this complaint, yet it misses something. Many who ‘have made it’ were not much different than those who didn’t. Many ‘normal’ people have, to a degree, been the recipients of the promises that God made to their fathers, simply a result of having stable lives as youngsters, or living at a time where immigrants were welcomed. That is their heritage is one of immigrant [like me being an Italian] and our forefathers made it in for us. We now say ‘geez, my parents did it legally! What’s up with these modern immigrants?’ [usually speaking of Mexicans] the whole point being much of your success in life really had little to do with you pulling yourself up by your own boot straps! Now, I am not saying responsibility and diligence don’t count, they do count for something, but I am saying we at times have been blessed because of previous promises of God [and blessings] upon others who came before us. Paul taught ‘some watered, some planted but only God can make it grow’ and he said others have entered into the labors of those who worked hard before them. Do the best with the deck that was dealt to you; be humble about all the good you might accomplish thru out your life. And when you see others who have not been as blessed as you, be kind and patient, maybe God blessed you so you could someway be a blessing to them. It just might be your [mine too!] job to help them get a leg up in life.
(1063) Yesterday I took my daughter and her friends to help out with a school sports program, they volunteered to help. On the way home I checked my P.O. box and sure enough one of my regular radio listeners sent me 10 bucks cash. I hate when people do this. Why? Because I have a policy of taking no money, ever! So it costs me 25 cents [or whatever stamps cost now] to mail it back. This brother has listened and written me ever since I’ve been on radio [1996-2009]. He used to rebuke me for teaching against the prosperity gospel; his letters reveal that he is an older guy who is an ‘expert’ in that doctrine. But he also compliments me about our program, times where he really agrees and says ‘wow, that was real meat’ [good teaching] this week! So anyway I put up with him. So as I get home I write a short thank you note, stick the money in an envelope and put a stamp on it, figure I’ll mail it out later. Than one of my homeless buddies stops by, I haven’t seen them in a few weeks, been feeling bad with my back and all. Also, just a note to my old buddies, I am still in good shape, hey I used to hold the arm wrestling title at the fire house! It was funny beating the young jocks, the point is I am not out of shape or overweight or anything like that, it’s just my back really hurts at times. I don’t carry health insurance on myself [only the kids] because it’s too much, so I don’t ever go to doctors [only when first injured] so I deal with it by overdosing on Advil’s and stuff. But anyway my buddy came by and I decided to change plans for the day [I was going to do some reading] and had a B.B.Q instead. I also ripped open the envelope and gave my friend the 10 bucks; I felt I wasn’t violating my policy of ‘no offerings’ by passing it along to a friend in need. We had a good fellowship and my daughters came over thru out the day, they help out at the church [Bay Area fellowship] on Saturdays with the child care. So they have been asking me questions and stuff about the bible, my second oldest, Rebecca, does not have the internet at her ranch yet. She owns a few acres out in the country and hasn’t set up wireless yet, so she can’t read this site and learn the stuff. I have been passing books along and stuff to her, I do lend my books out- sometimes they never make it back, but I see this as ministry of sorts, who knows where the books will end up someday. Also I have a tendency to ‘correct’ the stuff I don’t agree with by adding notes to the books, so it gives a better balance [in my view] than jut passing stuff along without doing a little teaching myself. But the ‘dynamic’ of the day was interesting, I have been praying that ‘all my children would be taught of the Lord’ [both natural and spiritual kids] and that ‘God would pour out his Spirit on our seed, our young men would see visions, old men dream dreams. Our handmaidens [ladies!] would prophesy’ [Acts 2] so this was a good interaction of spiritual ‘sons’ and my natural daughters all getting excited about the things of the Lord. Also one of my Christian neighbors who I have known for years stopped by while walking his dog out in the front. He knows I do radio and stuff, but he has never visited this site! He does some teaching on a local basis thru a Christian publication, I like the paper. But the sister who runs it must not like me [probably because of our stance against the prosperity gospel] I have mailed her a few checks over the years and asked for a subscription, not only do they rip the checks up [I guess?] but they don’t respond at all, I just leave it alone [I know she gets the checks, but does not agree with my teaching. To be honest it’s just bad business to not even respond, plus your paid advertisers are getting the short end of the stick as well]. But anyway I gave my neighbor the blog address and hope he learns from it. It’s funny, we have friends all over the world who regularly follow the journey with us, yet brothers right down the block might be ‘out of the loop’ that’s fine, we don’t have to be ‘known’ by everyone. So anyway I just thought I’d share a little today, was going to do the next chapter of Kings, but will get to that tomorrow, God bless till next time.
(1029)ECCLESIASTES- 5:1 KEEP THY FOOT WHEN YOU GO TO ‘THE HOUSE OF GOD’ [ECCLESIA] AND BE MORE READY TO HEAR THAN TO GIVE THE SACRAFICE OF FOOLS- Yesterday we had a good outreach day in Bishop and Kingsville [2 south TX. Cities] I had a few homeless brothers with me and we drove thru a few areas and hooked up with some of the brothers we have been working with for around 20 years. I am always tempted to answer more questions [speak more!] than I should. It’s important to let the brothers ‘do the talking’ they benefit more when there is a real give and take. I read this verse the day or so before the trip, it makes a lot of sense. To all my Pastor/leader friends, do you consciously make an effort to ‘keep silent’ when going to the ‘house of God’ [times of fellowship and community]? I know this needs to become learned behavior for many of us. We usually have grown up in a church environment that emphasizes the need for strong preaching, mounting the ‘sacred pulpit’ [double ouch!] and stuff like that. We are usually well intended, but we need to relearn some stuff. I was surprised how the homeless brothers shared many spiritual truths with clarity. One of the brothers does suffer from mental problems, he is extremely intelligent. He is a machinist who worked for many years in Ohio and knows his stuff. But he is a little unstable in his thoughts at times. Sure enough when he was sharing about the Lord one of the other brothers really took it to heart. On the way to back to Corpus I asked what they learned today. He said he really enjoyed being able to speak and help others. I could tell that this in itself was therapeutic for him, it truly is ‘more blessed to give than receive’. This is why Paul taught the interactive church meeting [Corinthians]. In the background there was a TV preacher on, my buddy put the Christian channel on for atmosphere. Some preachers were answering questions on the Rapture and all, it seemed to be ‘endless chatter’ on stuff that was not even true! I couldn’t but help wonder what the apostle Paul would have thought if he saw his writings being used in this way. On the TV there was no real sense of community, simply preachers telling people their endless views on various subjects. I am glad I tried to ‘keep my mouth shut’ as much as possible [hey, this is hard for preachers to actually do!] I too learned some good stuff.
(1023)ECCLESIASTES- I PLAYED THE GAME AND WON! Solomon was in a position where he could do and try anything. I recently read how a very famous Christian singer has come out of the closet and began living the gay lifestyle. He is married and has kids, he is in his fifties. He simply said he woke up one day and told the Lord that he was tired of fighting the desire and gave in. Solomon said he gave in to pleasure, he decided that trying to restrain himself was unfulfilling and he gave in to every pleasure his heart desired. Did it fulfill him? No, he said it was folly. He became the most successful business man in Jerusalem. No one before him was able to achieve the success and prominence in this city where he resided, yet at the end it meant nothing. In essence he played the game, by the rules, and it still wasn’t worth it. Yesterday I was helping out some homeless friends, a sincere older lady asked me if I had a few dollars, I actually didn’t. But I went to the store and bought a few things and took out an extra 20.00. I split it between 4 people; friends that I knew weren’t going to get drunk. They were so happy and grateful, I still can’t get over what a simple 20 dollar bill can do for people. In ‘this game’ that we are in [called life!] God is the scorekeeper, I realize that many modern ‘theologies’ have turned the tables. Some teach that God does keep score by how much material success we achieve before we die, they sincerely think this is right. I watched an exposé on U- TUBE that showed a CNN reporter interviewing one of the prosperity ministers who has come under fire. The reporter got smart, she actually read from scripture the passage where Jesus challenges the young rich man to sell all he has and give to the poor. She quoted the passage where it says it’s harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to pass thru a needle. The preacher defended his pursuit of wealth by saying ‘if you read the rest of the story, he sold his wealth and God gave him a hundred fold back.’ He said ‘God was telling the man to worship him with his wealth’. I actually was surprised that this minister said this, he does know scripture. He definitely was wrong about this, the rich man went away sad because he had ‘much wealth’ and did not want to depart from it! God keeps score differently than the world. Solomon tried all the options, he was way ahead on points. He was so far ahead that no one was going to catch up, he then realized that ‘being ahead’ wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.
(1018)JAMES AND THE RICH- as James encourages the saints he also rebukes the ‘well to do’. He tells them they have heaped treasure together for the last days and the rust of it will testify against them. He tells the poor believers that the rich blaspheme Gods name and oppress the poor. He tells the poor that God has chosen them to be heirs of the kingdom. One of the main themes of James is that God is on the side of the oppressed person, the down and out. God defends those who have ‘no voice’. They lack the finances and influence to speak up for themselves. Martin Luther King said the New Jerusalem is both a present reality breaking into our current lives ‘New York’ ‘New Chicago’ etc. He spoke of it as the beloved community. He understood that God was not only concerned with the after life, but with society here and now as well. One of the main purposes of prophetic ministry is to bring Gods people back into alignment and to speak out against injustice and materialism. I find it interesting that one of the main themes of James is defending the poor while rebuking the rich. Like we said before James was the half brother of Jesus, he grew up in the same home with the Lord. He experienced the tremendous ministry of Jesus for three years. He heard him speak the parables on rich men in hell and Lazarus in ‘Abraham’s bosom’. He saw the young rich man go away sad because he had lots of stuff and was not willing to give it up for a higher purpose. He heard the parable of the rich guy who wanted to build more storage for his stuff and feel secure by thinking he had abundance for years to come, but then Jesus said he would die that night. James picked up some themes from Jesus, one of them was that those who focused on material wealth were not focused on spiritual things. They seemed to spend most of their time thinking about their stuff. James was one of the lead apostles at the Jerusalem church, their were many poor saints living there. He was not preaching a prosperity gospel to them, he told them their present suffering was only for a short time. They would be rewarded by God for the difficulties they faced, the comfortable would have some stuff to answer for as well.
(1006)CORINTHIANS 14:1-20 Lets deal a little with ‘Tongues’. I have written before on the various ways believers view this gift. Much has been taught over the years that can be seen as extreme from both camps [the Pentecostals and the non charismatics]. Is Paul speaking about the same gift as seen in Acts 2? If not, then does that mean the only legitimate ‘tongues’ are the Acts 2 expression? If a distinction is made, then Paul obviously put his stamp of approval on the second type of tongues by actually writing about it here! Ecstatic utterance was not exclusive to the early church. Paul earlier taught that the pagans engaged in this type of speech when worshipping false idols. This does not mean that true spiritual worship has no ecstatic type elements to it. The gifts themselves are seen as divinely inspired speech [the speaking ones]. Isaiah 8:1 says ‘TAKE A LARGE SCROLL AND WRITE ON IT WITH THE PEN OF A MAN’. God was telling Isaiah that he would use his actual writings as inspired instruments from him. Scripture also speaks of ‘the tongue of a ready writer’ we are called ‘living letters’ by Paul himself. Paul doesn’t challenge the legitimacy of this type of gift, but he does stress the importance of approaching all the gifts from a standpoint of unselfishness. If when the believers are gathered, they are all functioning in self edifying gifts, then they are making the same mistake that Paul rebuked earlier with the Lords table. The purpose of the gathering and gifts are for the building up of others and not for self gain. So Paul warns them of the selfish use of the gifts. He says it’s better to use Prophecy or Teaching because others can learn and grow. Some Pentecostal groups make a distinction between the prayer time and the ministry time. They practice tongues during corporate prayer and then treat ‘a tongue uttered’ during the service as something that needs interpretation. I see some merit to his, but it should be noted that here Paul does say ‘when you bless with the Spirit’ [prayer over a meal or something like it] that your prayer is fine, but still the other person doesn’t benefit. So Paul actually includes both ‘prayer tongues’ and ‘a word in tongues’ as needing to be tamped down during the public gathering. Of course we will see the teaching on private tongues as being fine, the point I am making is Paul includes ‘prayer tongues’ along with the other type. The main thrust of Paul’s teaching on Tongues is that the gift itself is legitimate [definitions of the gift vary!] but that all the gifts of the Spirit should be used unselfishly. ‘Well brother, Paul himself says it’s fine to pray in tongues to build yourself up! Got you now!’ well actually you don’t! ‘Building ones self up’ in a private setting can be considered beneficial to the overall corporate group. I just prayed/mediated for around an hour before writing, this was personal ‘self building’ for the purpose of corporate teaching. No matter where you personally come down on the various gifts of the Spirit, it is important to do all things with the benefit of others in mind. I hate to stick this example in here, but heck I just came up with it! Last night I was watching the news. I channel surf from CNN, MSNBC, FOX and even hit the PBS station every now and again [plus the big 3 networks]. Its still the first week of President Obama’s presidency and I couldn’t help but notice the unbelievable amount of ‘slobbering’ [yes, I borrowed it from Bernie Goldberg] that was taking place. I actually clicked the channel from Hannity to CNN. Hannity just finished talking about the embarrassing amount of gushing that the media were doing over Obama. As I clicked to Anderson Cooper, they were showing clips from the first media interview that Obama has given since being in office. It was a very good interview to an Arab language station. As Cooper was asking the reporters on their first thoughts of the interview, one actually said ‘it is so unbelievably outstanding that I am actually ‘giddy’. Now, I don’t subscribe to the Hannity/Limbaugh stuff 100%, but this really was too much. The media are putting such a high expectation on the poor man that no human being could possibly fulfill their image of the man. It was also reported that George [Stephanopoulos-?] actually cried during the inauguration. Of course Chris Matthews will go down in history for describing a ‘feeling going up his leg’ during coverage of an Obama speech. What’s wrong with this picture? I understand that the average white man feels self affirmed when he engages in public displays of support for Black advancement. I too like our President and do pray regularly for him. Not too long ago I met a black homeless friend, he actually has a little apartment but he was at the free mission so I sometimes refer to all these brothers as homeless. He was under the impression that I ran some type of ministry that took in money [I never take any offerings, for radio or anything else] so as I offered to by him some groceries and stuff, he kinda went a little overboard. I really didn’t have any ‘extra money’ but I bought it any way. I didn’t get mad or feel bad about it. I still see the brother every now and then and am still willing to help him. Now, is it better to show your love for the black man by publicly crying and gushing and describing sexual type feelings when listening to the new president speak, or to actually go out and find some black person in need and meet the need? I don’t want to get into the whole political scene at all, sometimes it gets me mad. I have actually ‘cussed’ [yes, I admit it] at the screen at times. [Little curse words, not the big ones!] The point being we all need to heed the admonition in scripture to show our love by our deeds and actions. To simply put on a public display for the world means very little.
(1002)1ST CORINTHIANS 13: 2-3 ‘and though I have the gift of prophecy [Pentecostal, prophetic expressions] and understand all mysteries and all knowledge [Orthodox, Reformed, intellectual creedal churches] and though I have all faith that I could remove mountains [the Faith camp] and have not charity [Agape- love] I am nothing’. Whew! Thank God us mission/outreach type guys are not in there. ‘And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor [ouch] and have not love it profits nothing’. I love the various expressions of the church, I feed from the Reformed brothers teaching, Love reading and studying Orthodoxy and Catholicism. I of course favor the outreach/hands on type ministries, but according to this text we can have all these things and still be missing the mark. Our intellectual type brothers are engaging the culture and defending the faith, but without love we don’t even put a dent in the culture. The apologists are great at refuting the new atheists, to be honest about it the Christian intellectuals are head and shoulders above the atheists [Craig Lane and men like him] but I have noticed that we don’t really change that many minds even when all the proof is on our side. And I cant tell you how many well meaning missions and soup kitchens I have been too, but often times there is a disconnect between the people being served and the ‘servers’. You get the feeling sometimes that the well meaning helpers are simply punching a time card. We all need to reevaluate our motives. People can tell when we are in ‘ministry’ for the love of the business. Or for the self glory and adulation that comes with our service. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they truly were in it for the recognition of men. They wanted others to see that they were ‘successful in the ministry’ so they could receive recognition in public. Paul tells the Romans ‘he that shows mercy, let him do it with love [cheerfully]’. It’s easy to fall into a rut and simply be functioning out of a sense of duty. Now duty can be a good thing, there are times where we just need people to report for duty! [The harvest is plenteous, but the workers are few] but we need to examine ourselves and make sure we are functioning out of the Love of God. Often times the various ministries and expressions of the church are simply God ordained ‘places’ where we can connect with people. As we interact with the lost world, lets do our best to win the arguments, give proof for the legitimacy of Christianity. Combat false ideas and mindsets that are imbedded in our culture, but lets leave room for the other side to get in with us. Understand that they have a ‘missing piece’ [Augustine’s hole in the heart] and we are the only ones that can show them how to fill it.
(990)PROVERBS 31: 8-9 ‘Open thy mouth for the dumb [voiceless] in the cause of ALL such as are appointed to destruction [abortion, poor, unjust death sentences]. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy’. This chapter is famous for the second half, the virtuous woman. I have been praying parts of this chapter 3-5 times a week for around 20 years now. I pray the part ‘your wife we be like the merchant ships that bring their goods from afar’ over my wife. I also pray ‘your wife will be like a fruitful vine by the sides of your house, your children like olive plants round about your table’. For some reason the ‘plant’ imagery stuck in my head as a good prayer reminder. The other day, before Shelby passed away [my homeless friend] I was going thru the pictures on my cell phone. I happened to come across a picture I took of Shelby. I have a few pictures from the fellowships and stuff. This one was taken with Shelby and a few other homeless brothers at a park in Kingsville. Sure enough I put the picture as the ‘wallpaper’ [the first picture that shows up as you turn on the phone] on Sunday. He passed away on Wednesday. My daughter says ‘don’t put my picture on your phone’! Actually I kind of see it as a prophetic thing. In some way the Lord was telling me my friend was going to become a ‘memory’ real soon. Also a reminder for prayer. The day I found out about Shelby’s death I took a few homeless people around town to run errands and stuff. We stopped for coffee and one of the brothers insisted on paying this time. He had around 10 bucks and really wanted to. I paid, he left a 2 dollar tip. During the day they were trying to accomplish small tasks that can become real obstacles in their lives. I took one of the guys to the driver’s license place, he got his I.D. but could not get his license. They have a very old charge against him about not appearing for court on some minor thing. He never got the notice, they sent it to his last known address, he hasn’t lived there for years! He simply can’t fix this problem, he has no resources and ability to fix it! I of course helped him with the ride and some money and stuff. But when these guys get into these seemingly small obstacles, when you’re homeless and without a phone and regular transportation, they seem hopeless at times. Now, what do you think happens when the entity they are dealing with decides to mess with them? I canceled a credit card a few years back. I paid the balance and specifically said ‘make sure you cancel the card, I don’t want to keep getting notices that I owe an annual fee and stuff’! Sure enough, a few months go by and they send me a notice that I am delinquent for around 70.00 dollars [not an old balance, but a new annual charge!] and if I don’t pay it the fine will go up. What happened? Someone decided to simply ‘screw me’ [sorry]. The point being, when you are homeless you have very little ability to correct any wrongs done against you, the entity that is messing with you always wins. Society seems to think ‘they got what was coming to them’. The reason God wants us to speak up for all those who are ‘voiceless’ is because this is part of the purpose of Gods anointing. Jesus clearly was anointed for this purpose [Isaiah 11, 61. Luke 4]. There are times when the voiceless are ALWAYS innocent [abortion] and times where they did ‘get what was coming to them’. But Jesus requires us to treat the poor and hopeless with respect and concern. Every now and then I catch a show on E.W.T.N. [the catholic channel] the name of the show is ‘the church and the poor’. It’s the ministry of some priest [Wen Ho Lee? Something like that] who was a Jesuit priest living in the states and having a comfortable life. Then the Lord challenged him to give it all up and move to some foreign land and give his life away for the poor. His message is soul stirring. He often tells the people during the Mass ‘do you think coming to church and going to confession and doing religious things are the main requirements for a Christian’? He then goes on and shares the judgment scenarios that Jesus gave in the gospels. He shows how Jesus couches the judgment of man based on his treatment of the poor and down and out. He sounds like me! God requires us to speak up for those who cannot, he requires us to give our lives away. As you read thru this chapter [Proverbs 31] you will see that kings [leaders] are not supposed to get drunk [like Paul’s admonition to elders]. Why? So they don’t forget to do justice and look out for those who are under their care, specifically the down trodden. God wants us clear and sober minded for a divine purpose, to be social activists on the behalf of those who ‘have no voice’.
(989)TRIBUTE TO SHELBY [January 2009]- A few posts back I mentioned my homeless friend ‘painter Bill’. He was very sick and I thought he might have died. Sure enough he made it, with some extra equipment! [They put a pace maker in him]. But sad to say my friend Shelby passed away this week. I have known Shelby for a few years, he was around 70 and had an interesting story. He at one time owned and operated an independent news paper. He got in debt and eventually lost his business and property. Though I never saw Shelby drink, or drunk, yet the word was he battled with alcoholism. After I befriended Shelby he went thru a ‘mini revival’ type period. I took him with me to Kingsville and Bishop for fellowships with some of the brothers. He went thru a period of renewal and excitement about the things of the Lord. It kind of surprised some of the local pastors who knew him. He would give testimonies about the simple things we were doing, to him it meant a lot. He shared with me how in the 70’s he ran a ‘hippie bus ministry’ for a church somewhere in Texas [Austin area?]. How they had some miracles and stuff happen. One time they were driving to some revival or something, they needed money for fuel. They stopped at some Pentecostal church and before they could say anything some Pentecostal/Prophet type brother said ‘the Lord sent you here so we could give you the money for your trip’. One of those common prophetic things that happens every so often. At one time I added Shelby’s articles to my tape/book catalog [I think it’s still on there?] though it was a simple thing, it meant allot to him. The last few months I didn’t get with Shelby as much as I wanted to, I think he got a little offended about it. You can tell when the brothers are mad, they don’t hide it like the ‘rich folk’. They let you know. I let it slide and eventually he got over it. The last few months he also had a renewed vision for starting a Christian paper. I was going to help him, kept an eye out for a used typewriter and stuff [he didn’t want to mess with computers]. He shared with me the plans on getting a used car and starting the paper from his room. He was living at the time with some Christian friends of mine who have a communal type home. I had Shelby over a few times to the house, he saw my cats and dogs and loved them. We have a little blind dog named Molly, he would always ask about her. Shelby just started getting Social Security about a year ago, though he was eligible, he put off applying for it. He was getting around 700.00 a month and he was trying to get a permanent place to stay. I am glad that Shelby had a personal revival in his life right before he died. The few simple things we did together made him proud. He would tell his daughter about it and stuff. I had the sense that after many years he began hoping again, sort of like the Lord was going to use him after feeling hopeless for many years. Shelby was a good man, a good friend of mine. Goodbye my friend.
(986)CORINTHIANS 12: 8-10 this section deals with the various gifts of the Spirit. The list is not exhaustive, Paul speaks in Romans and Ephesians about other ones as well. Instead of diving into a definition for each gift, lets look a little at the various ‘modes’ and characteristics of the Spirit of God. In revelation we have a scripture that many seem to stumble over, it says ‘the 7 spirits of God that are before his throne’. Some associate Isaiah 11 with this. In Isaiah 11 you can find 6 distinct characteristics of the Spirit of God, some see 7. Or you could say ‘God has 7 actual Spirits’. Does God have 7 spirits? Or 25 or 10,000? God is the creator of all spirits. He is the Father of lights! In revelation you have Jesus holding the ‘7 stars’ in his hand, which are said to be angels. Then you have the ‘7 angels of the 7 churches’. I showed you before why these angels are not ‘Pastors’ they are angels! [You can find the post somewhere under END TIMES STUFF]. Revelation has 7 seals, bowls, candlesticks. The book is a prophetic book that has angels revealing and operating and functioning. The 7 spirits before God’s throne are probably the 7 angels spoken about in the book. Hebrews says the angels are ‘ministering spirits’. Well let’s get off the rabbit trail. In Isaiah 61 we have the famous verses that Jesus read and applied to himself in the New Testament [Luke 4]. Jesus opens the scroll and reads about the Spirit of God upon him, the eyes of everyone in that place were fixated on him. Notice how both in Isaiah 11 and 61, one of the main purposes of the anointing was to administer justice to the poor and oppressed. Much of Evangelicalism has opted out of this responsibility. There was an overreaction to the social gospel of the late 19th, early 20th century. The social gospel had a tendency to overemphasize good deeds, without focusing on conversion. But the Fundamentalist movement of the 20th century neglected the social justice aspect of the kingdom, thank God for the Catholics who picked up the torch. The point today is the purpose of the gifts, which we will get into tomorrow, is not simply for self glory and edification. Or should I say the purpose of the anointing. Jesus made it very clear that his mission involved justice for the poor and oppressed, he did not limit his ministry to ‘the church’.
(979)PROVERBS 28: 22 and 27- ‘HE THAT HASTETH TO BE RICH HAS AN EVIL EYE AND CONSIDERS NOT THAT POVERTY SHALL COME UPON HIM….HE THAT GIVES TO THE POOR SHALL NOT LACK’. I just finished making a radio program and wanted to share some stuff from my Proverbs reading. I still have the original cheap second hand desk that I bought over 20 years ago in Kingsville. I think I paid 20 bucks for the thing. Though it’s ancient and looks ‘crappy’, it still gets the job done. Over the years I have learned that it can be exciting to amass wealth. Yes even believers can ‘sanctify’ the pursuit of wealth, that is justify it’s pursuit by thinking ‘I am going after money and riches so I can fund kingdom ventures’! While God certainly uses rich people to do his will, the overall ethos of the kingdom is one where you choose not to pursue the wealth of the world, you instead pursue ‘spiritual riches’. This contrast can be found all thru out scripture [read my section on ‘word of faith- prosperity gospel’]. Paul actually tells Timothy ‘those that desire to be rich will fall into a snare’. Notice, Paul doesn’t say ‘unless they desire riches for kingdom things’. He simply says the pursuit of wealth is a deadly game, don’t be ‘wise in your own eyes’ and think that you can tame the monster! Recently the stock market had another one of the worst crashes in history. How many ‘pursuers of wealth’ had ‘poverty come suddenly upon them’? Another verse says ‘don’t set your eyes on wealth, they make themselves wings and fly away’. Ouch! As I sit here and type this entry I will be dropping of 3 months worth of radio messages in a little while. I made them from a cheap recorder purchased from radio shack. I store them in my cheap desk that I bought years ago. I am sitting on used furniture that I bought 25 years ago! I furnished my study/office with it. But yet I have a study filled with excellent books that I purchased over the years. Year’s worth of radio teachings that cost me next to nothing to make. I gave one of my homeless buddies a little money the other day. I take no offerings and spend a little under half my monthly retirement income on ministry stuff. To my amazement the Lord has allowed us to have real impact in a large region, and it’s done on a shoe string budget. ‘He that gives to the poor shall not lack’. Don’t seek to become rich, the scripture forbids it. Give to the down and out, give your life away. Be a servant of people, God will reward you and you will have enough to get the job done.
BILL-(978)1ST CORINTHIANS 10: 18-33 Paul ‘re-uses’ a previous analogy of the priests partaking of the meat from the altar. Here he uses it to describe the reality of fellowship and being joined to that which you worship. Now he deals with the idea of the meat from the idol worship that was sold ‘in the shambles’ [market place]. He already said this meat was fine. But here he says ‘the things the gentiles offer are being offered to demons, so I don’t want you joining in with this type of demonic worship’. It’s not a matter of the meat, or the idol! It’s a matter of being unequally ‘yoked together with unbelievers’. This is a theme that Paul discusses in this letter. It not only applies to marriage, but also to any type of intimate fellowship with an unbeliever. Here’s where a distinction should be made. Yesterday one of my homeless buddies stopped by. His name is Tim [carpenter Tim]. I mentioned him before. Tim’s a great friend who I have known for many years. He just stopped by to say hi, he told me he caught my radio show on Sunday and really enjoyed it. They get a kick out of being real friends with some so called ‘radio preacher’. I think it’s hard at times to connect the ‘radio guy’ with the simple brother who takes them out to eat and stuff. Tim is a believer who works regularly [thus the name carpenter Tim!] He does not take the free handouts and stuff that are offered to the local homeless population. But I have helped Tim as a friend and brother in the Lord for many years. I asked if he has heard anything about Bill ‘painter Bill’. I have known Bill just as long as Tim. These are the original homeless guys I met in the early 1990’s. Bill is in his 70’s, Tim is around my age [I am 46 years old as I write]. Bill was a bitter homeless person. Just too many years of going thru stuff. Over the years we had become real good friends. I think he sees me as one of his best friends. A few weeks back I heard he was on a respirator and they though he wasn’t going to make it. It sounded pretty bad. As of right now I don’t know if he’s alive or not. A few months back I was giving Bill a ride home. He had a temporary place to live at the time. He did ask if I had a few dollars to spare. I don’t remember if I did or not to be honest. But I told Bill I don’t make the same amount of money since I retired. Just to let him know that’s why we haven’t gone to eat recently. He also asked me if I wanted to get the free eye checkup from the mission. They had some locals donate their time and they would get the guys free glasses. I told him that’s all right, I don’t want to take stuff that’s meant for the homeless [I also don’t eat the free meals]. They get upset that I don’t use the system. So as we arrive at Bills trailer he asks if I could come in for a minute. I told him sure. He handed me the free glasses he recently got, he asks me to try them on. I did. He than offers them to me. I told him no thanks, though I appreciated the offer. Bill was willing to give me his glasses. When Paul the apostle deals with having fellowship with unbelievers, he is not telling us to have no contact with the lost world. He is showing the Corinthians that they were not to be partakers of evil things along with the world. We are here to reach out to the world, not to have fellowship with evil things, but to be like Jesus. He was accused of being ‘a friend of sinners’. Do you have any ‘sinner friends’?
(968)WHAT’S UP WITH THE CORPUS CHRISTI POLICE DEPARTMENT! I have hesitated to add this one, but the time has come. My wife just woke me up to tell me that earlier in the evening a drunk driver slammed into my daughters car while parked at her house and slammed into 2 other vehicles as well. Sure enough they called the police and they still haven’t showed up [as of our last call]. Many years ago when first moving to Corpus I had called the cops over my daughters car that was vandalized, I waited for around an hour and no cop showed. I then drove into town, to where the supposed kid who vandalized the car worked [a high school thing] and re-called the cops. Sure enough a no show again. I finally drove to the police dept. and walked in the front door. No one was around! I called 911, from the police department, and some girl answers and I tell her I have been trying to get a cop for around 2 hours and no one will show. She asks where I am, I tell her I am at your police station right now! They finally send a secretary from the back room to take the info. I had also called once about a salesman that wouldn’t leave the front door. To be honest I almost got into it with him. Sure enough I called the cops and they said ‘wait inside, don’t go out’. I assumed this meant until they sent a cop. I guess they just meant until you can solve the problem yourself, sure enough no cop showed. I recently was talking to a local guy who told me they were robbed at a business years ago, they called the cops and never even had someone show up to do a report. I worked for the Fire Dept. for 25 years in Kingsville, to be honest we [the city] would send a cop for all of these incidents. I know of no other city that does not respond to these types of calls. This has happened way too many times for me to think it’s just a one time thing. I needed to write this entry because I believe this is a real problem for Corpus Christi. [www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com- I will be emailing this to the city, so I added my blog site].
(900)SAMUEL 17- David goes down to the battle front and hears Goliath mocking God. The Philistines are confronting Israel and they have their champion giant [almost 10 feet tall! Like the Roman emperor Maximus, he was huge] Goliath. David hears the enemy challenge Israel day after day and he decides to take him on. Saul tells him ‘you can’t do this, you are too young and inexperienced, he is a man of war from his youth’! David insists that he is able, he killed a lion and bear while defending his fathers sheep, why not ‘this uncircumcised rascal’! Saul says ‘fine, hears my armor’. David tries it on and realizes it’s not his style of armor. He goes back to the simplicity of a sling and stone. He goes out to the battle, Goliath can’t believe his eyes ‘did you send me some mammas boy with a stick? I am not some dog that you can tame with a stick’! Oh really? David says ‘sir, not only will I win this thing, but I will remove your stinking pagan head from off that 10 foot frame and feed you and your buddy’s carcasses to the animals’! Old Saul must of been thinking ‘what in the world did we get ourselves into’? Sure enough the battle begins and David runs up to the giant and sinks a stone into his head. He stands over him and severs his head with his own sword. Now the poor Philistines heard the whole conversation and didn’t want to hang around for the rest of David’s mission statement to be fulfilled. They fled! Israel pursues and has a great victory. A few things; David show us the necessity and simplicity of warfare. Jesus taught the disciples that they had what it took to carry out the mission. He warned them not to fall for the wrong headed idea of ‘God has called us to start an organization, and the organization will accomplish this noble task’. After all the years of befriending and working with the homeless and down and out. I realize that many well meaning believers will see the needs of people, but then want to ‘put on Saul’s armor’ to effect change. Try and start another mission ministry, or make others aware of the problem. I have found the biggest need to be that people are simply not willing to actually give their time and substance and get involved. Jesus told the disciples ‘don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this, you are the equipment. No special appeals for funds!’ [Message bible]. We get lost in trying to put on Saul’s armor [lot’s of complicated ministry ideas] when Jesus says ‘just use the stone and sling that I have given you’. The church of Jesus needs to realize that the power to effect society is in the hands of simple followers, truly the meek will inherit the earth.
(737) GENESIS 50- Jacob dies and Joseph buries him in the Promised Land. The cave that Abraham bought years ago as a sign that they would remain in the land of destiny, they even buried their bodies as ‘seed’ in the land! Now the mourning for Jacob is intense. All Egypt and the people of Canaan see what a great loss this is. After Jacobs’s death, the brothers fear Joseph will finally take revenge! They send a messenger to say ‘we are sorry for betraying you as a boy, please spare us’. Joseph is surprised his brothers are still afraid. He assures them all is well, as they come and BOW DOWN TO HIM. Wow, many years earlier it was this very dream ‘shall we bow down to you?’ that caused their jealousy and betrayal. Now that it is being fulfilled to the tee, they are happy to do it, and Joseph feels no glory out of it! This is how scripture is fulfilled when it says ‘you shall see your desire on you enemies’ ‘the sons of those who hated you shall bow down to you’ it is fulfilled not in a self glorying way, but in a prophetic way in order to benefit those who hated and despised you years earlier! I find it funny how some people thru the years will initially meet me at a homeless mission or some other venue where I am just hanging out with buddies. Sometimes I have been treated ‘less than honorably’ by the Christians who think I am just a homeless guy. Now I am not pretending to be homeless! It’s just these guys are really some of my best buddies who I have been around for years. Sometimes I have been yelled at ‘you idiot, get your hands off of that drink’ when I accidentally took a soda 2 minutes before the official lunch bell. Others who are Christians and treat disdainfully some guy who they hear ‘he thinks he is a preacher’ from the homeless guys. It’s a sad commentary on the way believers treat the down and out with such little respect. Now years later some of them actually become students of the ministry, at first finding it hard to associate the ‘radio preacher’ or ‘blog writer’ with the guy that they cursed out at one time. But they are glad to ‘bow down’ [submit] and receive from the ministry. Some will even give the feeling of ‘now that we realize he isn’t a homeless guy, lets get together and talk spiritual stuff’. Sort of the idea that ‘the elite class’ can now accept you, because we see you as elite too. I don’t push them away, I just treat them like any one else. Whether they are ‘elite’ or homeless. In Josephs case he wasn’t thinking ‘now I got you guys, you said you would never bow, well look at you punks now’. He acted right. Joseph also gives a prophecy that after many years God will bring them up out of Egypt and into the land of destiny. Jacob and his sons came into Egypt as a fairly small band of people, they will spend 400 years in difficulty and oppression. God will use this ‘furnace of affliction’ to bring them to a point of supernatural signs and deliverance under Moses. They will add an extra 40 years delay in the wilderness due to their rebellion, and they will once again enter into the land where years earlier Abraham bought the burial ground. The land where Isaac experienced his God, the place where Jacob dealt with his fears and inadequacy. They will come back like stromtroopers as they cross the Jordan and instill fear into the inhabitants of Canaan. God said he would give the land to their forefathers, he kept his promise!
To be honest, I didn’t want to use this site for personal stuff. But I have worked with so many homeless guys and ex cons who have told me time and again how they have been really harassed by the cops and stuff. I just bought a $70.00 dollar tent for some homeless family. They were so grateful to get it. They had it set up and it was beautiful. The cops came and cut it to shreds. I felt I needed to have a section that deals with stuff like this. [I have had many homeless friends tell me that the Police have cut their tents to keep them from camping in illegal areas of the city. The cops deny actually cutting the tents].
I pray weekly for those in authority. I pray for those who are believers, unbelievers and those who are actively doing wrong [like the guy in Iran!]. I basically ask the Lord to strengthen righteous authority, to also rule in the hearts of those who are in authority but are unrighteous. I must admit, as I have debated posting this entry, I feel that judge Watts is actually one of the righteous ones I regularly pray for! I believe she is a believer. I sensed this as I prayed, plus she did make certain statements the day I was in her court that led me to believe she is a believer. Before posting this entry I did email her office and told her that according to the admonition in Corinthians I am asking for her to simply acknowledge a wrongdoing that took place under her authority. She never got back with me [as of this posting].
(1) I am trying to be fair about this, but I must tell this story! I went to jury duty a few days ago. About a week before I had taken custody of a boy whose mom is a friend of my wife. Someone reported her to Child Protective Services and she was going to loose her kid, so we took custody for a while. Well when I went to jury duty I asked one of the Nueces county deputies, as well as the lady doing jury duty, who I should talk to about getting out of jury duty. I told them the situation with the boy and how I had to get him at the school bus and all. I was informed, BY THE ACTUAL PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR THE COURTHOUSE, to go thru the process of being put on the jury pool and when you go upstairs to the judge you hold your jury card up and they will talk to you. So I waited for a few hours and got on a jury pool and finally went upstairs to the courtroom. The judge was Sandra Watts. It was now around 11:00 am. I got to the courthouse at 7:50 am and have been asking all along what the proper procedure was to get excused. Now I hold my juror card up, I am the only one out of the 80 jurors in my pool that did this. The court bailiff approaches and I tell him the situation about C.P.S. placing a kid in our care. He asks ‘what time do you need to get home’ I told him the bus comes around 3. He says ‘no problem, wait a little and you will get excused’. So we go thru the polling process for around 2 hours. The judge actually said ‘we now have 79 jurors [as opposed to 80, the original number]’ she said this right after the bailiff spoke with me. Well I of course assumed she meant I was the 1 out of the 80 that was released. She actually seemed perturbed that I had an excuse, but it was really legitimate. So at around 12:30- 1:00 p.m. she releases for lunch and says ‘I will see all 79 of you at 1:30p.m.’ I took this to mean I won’t be coming back! These were the directives I received thru out the day. Go upstairs, hold your card, etc. So I go home and right when the school bus is dropping off the boy the Sheriffs dept. comes with a warrant. My wife says ‘the S.O. wants you’? I was mad! They tell me judge Watts has a warrant on you. I told them I was released by her! The poor Sheriffs guy was scared. They sent a woman and a guy. He was like ‘we don’t want any problems’ I told him ‘Oh, That’s too late brother, we are gonna have problems. You come to my house with a warrant. You threaten to handcuff me. We have big problems’! I tell them ‘I will take my truck’ they said no way. I told them ‘how will I get back’ they said ‘we will take you home’. [First lie of the day!] Well at the courthouse you could tell that the Sheriffs guys must have said ‘this guys mad’ as we went upstairs the judge says to the deputies for me to wait in the hall until the trials over. So I requested a court appointed lawyer. They were telling me ‘O, don’t worry. All you need to do is go in and apologize and she might let you go’ I told them ‘you don’t understand, I think the fact that you picked me up under false pretense and have me handcuffed and brought to court is you’re liability, not mine’! After requesting a lawyer they finally bring one up. I asked at least 10 times for representation and was refused, before they finally gave me a lawyer! I know the judge must have been furious that I made them appoint me a lawyer. They wanted to play the game of ‘you cry for mercy and we let you go’. After a few hours I go in to the judge. She berates me for a few minutes and then I explain how I followed all the directives given to me thru out the day. The fact that your own courthouse employees have miss communicated the process, should under no circumstances have led to the handcuffing and restraining of a citizen and also denying him the right to counsel. I told her that she stated ‘we have 79 jurors who will come back’ seemed to say I shouldn’t come back. She admitted so much, but she had some explanation to explain this away. The bailiff actually lied in court. The poor kid [30 yrs old?] was asked ‘did you tell him this or that’ and he lied and said ‘I told him to be back at 1:30’. He did lie thru his teeth! He didn’t know we were going to be released at 12:30 for an hour break when he spoke to me at 11:00am. The defense lawyer thought we would break at 12:00, but the judge said continue and we did. This guy lied! So after all this, the judge gives me contempt of court and I have to pay a 100 dollar fine. I find it amazing that I showed up for jury duty as a citizen, wound up getting handcuffed and lied about in Sandra Watts court, berated and fined. And when it was time to leave they tell the judge ‘he was told he would get a ride home’ I don’t know her reply, but after everyone left I asked the sheriffs guys ‘where’s my ride’ they just walked away.
Today is the next day. As I was debating whether or not to go ahead and post this article, I went to pay my 100 dollar fine. Yesterday, when I was told ‘pay the fine’ I specifically asked where to pay it. I was told ‘just ask the deputies on the first floor’. I knew this was trouble. These are the same guys who lied about getting a ride home after they said ‘we will ride you home’ [They work for the same law enforcement agencies]. Now, I have worked with law enforcement for 25 years. I know the games. Sure enough, as I walked into the Nueces courthouse I asked the deputies where to pay the fine. The guy recognized me for sure, he let me know. He says ‘go to the 2nd floor and go to the corner office’ well I go to where he said. They direct me to another office. I go there and they direct me to the 3rd spot. You guessed it, I go to office 3 [all on floor 2] and they send me to floor 3. I go to floor 3 and they send me to floor 4. I told the lady at floor 4, after she was directing me to floor 5, that this is enough. What kind of court system holds it citizens to 100 percent perfection ‘you better pay the fine’ and then is specifically not told where to pay it. This is the same courthouse that had its bailiff lie to my face in court! I told the lady ‘you need to accept this check’ she was not going to give me a receipt until I requested one. I told her I need to speak with someone about this entire situation. They give me a number and the person suggests to drop the matter. I am not sure who the person was. As he is trying to convince me to forget it, I explain I have worked with this system for many years, there has been real wrongdoing these past few days, who do I report it to? He says ‘I am not a lawyer, I really don’t know anything about it’. Then why was he the person I was directed to talk to? If this Nueces courthouse, and judge Watts court are this unbelievably incompetent, how in the world does the average citizen who doesn’t have a web site even begin to deal with it? I felt like I needed to post this entry for the sheer sake of freedom of the press. Without a doubt there have been real wrongdoings at this courthouse in these past few days.
DAY 3- As I am still waiting for resolution in this case, I wanted to mention a few more things. During this whole scenario I saw how from the point of being picked up and hauled into court, to the time when the bailiff actually gave false testimony about me. The way this situation was handled was one of complete and total disrespect for the citizen. When you are dealing with a citizen, not the actual murder defendant [this was a murder case] you do not tell him ‘you will not need a lawyer’ when he actually requests one of the court! You do not threaten him with ‘unless you lower your voice she will put you in the holding cell overnight’. My voice was raised because of the abusive treatment and contempt from those who actually followed me into my bedroom while getting changed to go to the courthouse! For a citizen to wake up one morning and go to jury duty, to try as best as possible to comply with all the directives given, which by the way one of them was ‘at no time will you personally speak to me, all correspondence will go thru my bailiff’ [judge Watts] then for me to be told by judge Watts ‘the bailiff cant release you, the law states I alone must tell you’ seems a contradiction. Plus I am an average citizen walking in off the street. I know ignorance is no excuse, but you can’t hold a citizen to a standard that he is not aware of. Or at least you try to clarify as much as possible what his requirements will be thru out the day. Any person could have interpreted the events that happened to me as thinking ‘she released me’. This wasn’t some blatant disregard for law, as judge Watts claimed as she berated me as an irresponsible citizen who if it weren’t for the graciousness of the lawyers this case could have been damaged by me. The total and complete disdain from her and her representatives was completely wrong. Now I felt the tide turn at one point. After humiliating me with a long speech, after being initially told ‘you don’t need a lawyer’ after being lied about right in the court by an officer of the court! I asked if I could speak. She says ‘go ahead’. I kinda felt like Paul [apostle] who gave his defense in Acts. I went thru the whole process of me showing up in the morning to court. Trying to honestly follow all the directives given to me thru out the day. And then wind up getting arrested, handcuffed and treated like an imbecile by the system. I informed her that her bailiff was lying right then and there. I was the only one under oath. She put me under, but not the bailiff. If he was already under then he flatly lied under oath! I then told her ‘this morning you gave quite a dissertation on the origins of natural and moral law, but in order for that law to work, the people involved must speak the truth’. You could see on her face that she was a little surprised that this citizen who they attempted to intimidate time and again actually wasn’t a complete idiot! I could tell that she began to regret the fact that they picked me as the one to ‘make an example out of’. So after emailing this letter to all the city, county council members. To the state and local representatives. To the mayor and County judge. To Senators Hutchinson and Cornyn [I do get carried away sometimes] and last but not least to the state attorney generals office! I will wait and see what happens. But in all seriousness [I did send it to them!] I feel the system often deals with its citizens thru intimidation. Did the bailiff begin his day thinking ‘today I will put my job at risk and perjure myself in court’? No. But he made the mistake of lying in court, at my expense, to think it would give him job protection. A big mistake. Did the officers who told me ‘you won’t need a lawyer’ realize that this one statement is violating the rights of a U.S. citizen? No. but the system took a simple miscommunication of events, by their own people [bailiff and others thru out the day] and raised it into an example of ‘let’s get this guy’. But they picked ‘the wrong guy’.
UPDATE- Let me do a little clinic on unjust govt. First, I am positive it took a brief investigation by the county to realize the poor bailiff lied in court. He only spoke to me once, at 11:00 am, and he in no way would have been able to say ‘return at 1:30 p.m.’ he didn’t know we were breaking for lunch at 12:30 when he spoke to me. It is obvious that he lied. Now this was the basis for arresting me and finding me in contempt of court. But I want to show you the posture that the county has taken. I worked for the city of Kingsville for 25 years. When a city does wrong [incurs liability] the usual posture is ‘don’t admit, respond or have any correspondence with the plaintiff’. So even though the county must know for a fact that they have committed an offense, they will not only deny it, but will actually not even give the common courtesy of even contacting the citizen. I have been contacted by the United States senator of Texas, but no local officials. Now you begin to see unjust govt. at work. This entity, Nueces County, had me in court and fined me for ‘contempt’. In essence ‘your are an individual of low moral turpitude’. After realizing that they were of lower moral turpitude, one of their officers lying in court and giving false testimony, instead of being ‘moral’ their posture has now become ‘lets see if this guy really has the means to sue us. After all no attorney would take a case where he doesn’t think he will get money’. So the entity that judged the citizen of ‘low morality’ has now become the entity that postures itself by saying ‘he can’t really get us’. This my friend is ‘contempt of a U.S. citizen’.
(2) Over the years I have seen how the legal system has humans working in it. People make mistakes. I have had friends who were jailers [when I used to preach in the county jails] who the prisoners respected. But there were many instances where a jailer was a ‘jerk’. He was one of those people who would be a bully at school. Derive enjoyment from using his authority to get on peoples nerves. How many times have I as a firefighter been upset because we got another ‘Anthrax call’. Some citizen saw sugar on a store floor, it must be Anthrax! I have a homeless friend who is an absolute outstanding Christian. He teaches Sunday school. Is an ordained deacon and is very intelligent. If you look at him he looks like a little scraggly. Full beard, does live on the streets. But to judge him by his looks would be a huge mistake. The cops often see him sitting. They tell him ‘get up and move’. He politely walks around until he’s tired. Sits again ‘get up and move’. This night the cop is an idiot! Does he have the right to do this? No. But he has the vested authority to get away with it. In the Sandra Watts case, the woman should have discerned ‘this guy really was miss communicated to thru out the day. Even though I am incensed at him for thinking he blatantly disregarded the law. Now that he has explained in a reasonable fashion what happened, I will rebuke him and not find him in contempt’. But I believe once I forced the court to provide me with a lawyer, she thought ‘he’s going to pay now’. Is it just for her to do this? No. Does she have the authority to get away with it? Yes. The legal system deals with humans. I think judge Watts is probably a good person. But once you allow your own officer of the court to perjure himself in court by giving false testimony, then you have had your judgment clouded by anger. I realize the anger that my friends have had while dealing with humans in the legal system. Some are good people, others use their authority to get even with people. To say ‘I personally dislike this person. I will rule against him, even if I have to use false testimony to do it’. Maybe Paul was right when he said ‘women should not have authority over men’? I am being sarcastic, don’t want to get all our women readers mad, just Sandra!
[Just put this entry in here so you know I am not the first person who has had problems with local govt.]
(696) GENESIS 34- Jacob and the boys start settling down. Before too long one of the local men rapes the sister Dinah! Jacob hears and holds his peace. The boys come home and are livid. How dare these people disrespect us! You get the sense that Jacob is willing to let it slide. He is operating out of fear, self preservation. True courage demands a willingness to take the kingdom by violence! John the Baptist wasn’t weighing his options when he railed against the king’s sin. It cost him his life, but he knew he couldn’t let the injustice stand. So Jacobs’s sons are true warriors at heart. These are the 12 boys who are the beginnings of the heritage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These kids were like messing with the sons of Katie Elder [some old John Wayne western. To be honest I don’t think I ever watched it, but it sounded good to mention it] these boys have prophetic destiny written all over them. So here is the plan, they hear about Dinah’s rape. The father of the boy who raped her is the prince of the land. He comes and works out a deal with Israel. He says ‘my son loves the girl, lets be trading partners. We can all live together in harmony’. Jacob seems to think this is a good idea. The Boys have other ideas! They tell the father ‘sure, but we have this custom. We don’t deal with uncircumcised people. So go and circumcise all the men in your town and the deal is on’. Now, this is no small request! The father/ prince goes back to town. He gets together a city meeting. All the towns men are thinking ‘what’s it gonna be now? Another rate hike in our utility bill’. The meeting is held and he tells them the deal. ‘Oh, is that all. Just get circumcised. Doesn’t sound that bad. What does it mean I wonder? Sprinkle a little water on our heads. Some Episcopalian Baptism rite or something?’ Boy were they surprised. I can just see the look on their families faces when they got home to tell momma what the prince wants them to do. The wives must have thought ‘you gotta be kidding me, I want to move out of this county’ [and you thought Nueces county was rough!]. Poor Tommy hears the news from his dad and thinks ‘what in the heck kind of Waco cult are these people, they want me to cut what?’ So the deal is on, they go thru with it and 3 days later 2 of Jacobs sons [Simeon and Levi] get their swords and show up in the middle of the town and say ‘lets get it on’. They slew all the men. They spoiled the town and even took the women and children captive. And you think I’m an over reactor. Jacob is incensed ‘what have you boys done? You will bring the wrath of the whole area down on us. They will wipe us out’. He really was willing to do the fake deal and let his own daughter’s rape go unpunished. He believed the boys offer as much as the town’s people. The boys never intended to let their sister’s rape slide by, Jacob did. This shows you what fear can do, it clouds your thinking. Scripture says the fear of man brings a snare. Fear not the reproach of men. Jesus said don’t fear those who can kill the body only [men] but fear him who can destroy both body and soul [God! Some bad translators have said Jesus was speaking of satan, he was referencing God]. In the next chapter we will see God tell Jacob to go back to Bethel, and as they leave, the surrounding people didn’t lay a hand on them. They feared Jacobs’s boys more than Jacob feared the people of the land.
(3) A WARNING TO FOSTER PARENTS IN NUECES COUNTY!
I have hesitated to write on this, but I believe its time. About a year ago our local D.A. Carlos Valdez prosecuted a foster parent on murder charges. The woman’s name is Hannah Overton. The case involved a foster child who died under Hannah’s care. The child drank water with hot spices in it. He was taken to a local Emergency care clinic and was transferred to a local hospital and pronounced dead. During the trial the defense claimed that the boy was given the water voluntarily. The prosecution claimed she did it for punishment. The jury never proved that Hannah did it on purpose, but they still found her guilty of MURDER because she delayed taking the boy to the hospital. I am not one of those Christians that sides with other believers simply because they are Christian. I have read other legal experts who have said this case in no way should have been tried for murder. The fact that the jury found Hannah guilty of not providing care in a reasonable time period should not have been grounds for murder. There was a case where a boy was caught on video shooting his teacher in the head. There was a question on whether or not murder charges should have been filed. The defense argued that the boy meant to only threaten the teacher by holding a gun against his head, but the hair trigger went off and killed the teacher. Now we also had a homeless man burn a lady to death. They almost didn’t try the case because they couldn’t find the witness. The point is if you have a D.A. who prosecutes a foster Parent for MURDER because she didn’t provide care in time, then I would advise ALL FOSTER PARENTS in Nueces County to stop being foster parents. If a child in your care dies you might be tried for murder. As I watched the case locally I did not fully agree with Hannah’s defense. I personally believed that they were more guilty than the defense claimed. But for a D.A. to try her on murder is absolutely horrendous! Murder charges imply that you were proven to intend the death of another person. Even if you didn’t believe the defense case 100 percent, you should have never found a foster parent guilty of murder, this is simple jurisprudence. The woman was sent to prison for many years. The father plead guilty and is on probation. I work with convicts and homeless people. The fact is this D.A. has dropped the ball on actual murder cases. For the many years that I worked as a firefighter we had cases where people got probation for the proven murder of a girlfriend![Kleberg County] After one case they even branded our area as the place where you can murder someone and get probation! Why did Carlos Valdez wrongfully prosecute this woman? I believe this is a case like Mike Nifong in Durham. He became famous for trying to build a reputation on trying members of the Duke La Crosse team for rape. He simply felt it would help his reputation if he prosecuted a famous case. Was it unjust to send a foster parent to prison for murder while almost letting a person go free for intentionally burning a woman to death? You bet it was! Was it unjust to put a foster parent in prison for murder because she was shown to have delayed the care of a child under her care? You bet it was! Was it unjust to get a conviction on murder when other cases of actually having a boy on tape shooting someone in the head are questioned whether or not the intent for murder could be proven? Yes! This local D.A. has done a grave disservice to all foster parents in Nueces County. I cant believe that any foster parent in this county would continue to be a foster parent when the stakes have been raised to this degree. Understand I am not totally siding with the defense in Hannah’s case, my personal view is the defense ‘fudged’ somewhat in saying Hannah had no guilt. She had some degree of guilt. But to equate her guilt with that of the man who intentionally burned a woman to death. And for Hannah to have been found guilty on the same charges is an absolute travesty of justice. This local D.A. needs to be removed from office. He played this case in the media because Hannah was a Christian and it got a lot of attention. I implore all Local voters to vote this guy out of office as soon as possible. I warn all foster parents in Nueces County to be ware!
NOTE; to be fair, you can be tried for murder even if you didn’t intend to commit murder. For instance if someone out of anger runs a person over, even if they didn’t want to kill the person, the act of violence was severe enough to have warranted murder charges. The reason some legal scholars feel that Hannah’s punishment was wrong is because not only did the court not find Hannah liable in the area of ‘did she force him to drink the spices’. But the simple act of delaying bringing the boy to the hospital did not meet the criteria mentioned above. This case seems to have in no way merited a murder charge in the first place. The jurors did believe that Hannah was guilty of not getting the boy treated in a timely fashion, but to some legal scholars this should not have warranted murder charges. Alos the case of the boy caught on tape shooting his teacher was not local, I included it to show how difficult it is to find someone guilty of murder. Hannah’s situation had real doubts about her guilt.
UPDATE- I recently saw a news magazine [20/20?] do a T.V. expose on this case. There was actual medical evidence that was not introduced that was to Hannah’s benefit. And the prosecutors were shown to be misinformed on the actual law itself. The interviewer questioned them on the aspect of the law that needed to not only find Hannah guilty of not providing care in time, but they needed to show that she purposely intended for her son to die. One of the prosecutors seemed to indicate that he was not aware of this. Some of the jury were also unaware of this.
(4) The day I paid the 100.00 dollar fine to Sandra Watts, I went to the mission where a lot of my homeless buddies hang out. They got robbed of some of their food a few weeks ago. Some one broke in and stole the food at night. Very rare! It’s only happened a few times in 15 years. Most of the homeless do not do stuff like this. They will report the one who does. Hey, he is stealing their food! Now the mission hasn’t been feeding for a few weeks until they restock. So the only friend there was Roger. I met Roger 15 years ago. He is like a brother to me. When I first moved to Corpus he was one of the first guys I handed clothes out to during the winter. He is amazed that I do stuff like this on my own. I really don’t see it as ‘amazing’ but he has specifically questioned ‘what church helps you’. And I have explained to him this is simply one believer helping others. Without bragging, I want people to see Jesus really called us to stuff like this. So he tells me ‘all the homeless are starving, the cops have raided our tents and we aren’t eating regularly. I know you will come thru for us’. To be honest I have fed and taken these guys to eat around 500-1000 times at least. 15 years of doing it, it’s probably been around that. But recently I retired from the Fire dept. [around a year now] and I have been short on cash! As of today I spend about 35 % of my monthly income on ministry stuff. And this doesn’t include the buying of tents for the homeless, or the feeding of friends. So it’s really been a struggle to be honest. Plus this is the day that Nueces County deemed me a citizen of low moral value and took the 100 dollars that I sure could have used right now! I really felt like ‘screw Nueces County, why should I even pay out of my own pocket to help their citizens after they took away my money wrongfully?’ But instead I told Roger ‘lets wait a little while and see if a few more people show up and I can take 2 or 3 of you guys to the Pizza Hut buffet.’ [Put it on my debit card!] He tells me no one is coming until they start feeding again. Sure enough he was right. So I tell Roger ‘let’s go eat’. He says ‘John, it is expensive to eat at Pizza Hut. Let’s do the dollar menu at McDonalds’. I have taken him there before. He suggests ‘just by the same amount that it would have cost for us to eat at Pizza Hut and I will bring the stuff to camp for the rest of the guys’. I know he does this, I have been to the camps and all before. So I buy a bunch of dollar sandwiches and stuff. He says ‘that’s a lot of money’ after she rings up the receipt. I told him that’s fine brother. He kept saying to the register girl ‘this guy comes thru for us more than the people that are supposed to help us’ [say like maybe the County?]. He says ‘he is our church’. The guys were having a rough few weeks. Not only has the mission stopped feeding, but the news has been publicizing the homeless problem and one of the guys took all the camera crews to all their campsites. The cops all came in the next few days and ran them out, removed their tents and took all their stuff. Clothes, blankets, everything. These guys camp illegally on empty acreage all around the Flour Bluff area. It is illegal to do this, but they are homeless and hungry and tired. They want to rest. Roger has told me many times over the years ‘the cops took all my belongings and thru them out, how can they take my stuff. I am a real person’? He gets so mad. I have heard 100’s of these stories over the years. I know it’s not the cops fault, it is a societal problem that our local govt. has no real solutions for. Hey, I got one! How about we stop fining citizens who actually pay, out of pocket on a monthly basis to help with the problem? That sounds like a good idea to me. P.S. I had a few single dollar bills that I gave Roger, I said ‘you keep a few, try and give a few to the guys at the camp’. It wasn’t much, even if he keeps it himself I really don’t mind. I wanted to just give him a good day. Will he buy a quart, more than likely. I don’t intend for this. I just felt like the gesture meant more than the cash.
(216) Was talking to some homeless friends the other day and was asking them if they saw Tim recently. Tim [carpenter Tim] was one of the first friends I met years ago. Tim worked regularly, refused govt. help and would avoid eating the free meals at the mission. He felt it was irresponsible to take stuff for free. Tim often invited me to his camp for coffee and fellowship. He had this ‘mangy’ dog that he really loved. She must have had at least 7 litters of puppies since the time I knew her. I would find Tim treating the dogs for fleas in a 5-gallon bucket. He was preparing them for free give away in front of H.E.B. he spent money on these animals and took good care of them. Tim was very responsible, he would get up before sun up and walk to the park to fill up a bucket with fresh water for the camp. He would try to finish his chores early so he wouldn’t be seen as some bum walking around in the middle of the day with no direction. He would often go to whataburger early in the morning to drink coffee. The retired guys would see him and give him the job section of the paper. Sort of like saying ‘get a job you bum’. They didn’t realize that Tim regularly worked. It’s just that he was homeless. He liked responding by saying ‘I am working on my career right now, my singing and dancing career!’ He figured he’d get them mad by saying this. One time Tim’s parents from out of state were coming to Corpus to see Tim. He told them they would find him in the ‘Bluff’ [where I live also]. It was funny; when they got into town they came to the bluff and were asking some homeless people if they knew where Tim was. The homeless brother didn’t know they were looking for carpenter Tim, so they said ‘sure we know your son, he goes by the name of drunk Tim’ [another Tim]. Old Tim thought this was funny. Tim had a good sense of humor. I took him and a few guys to ‘Golden Corral buffet’ for dinner. We were reading the paper while eating. Tim was telling me the story of how modern technology was a threat to the modern workforce. These new breed of ‘robots’ could put the people out of work. He joked that pretty soon they will take the place of homeless guys in the bluff. I responded ‘don’t worry brother, it wont be long before you see them holding up signs in front of H.E.B. saying ‘batteries low, need money for a charge’. He started cracking up. When Tim’s dog died he took it real hard. He literally cried for a few days. I haven’t seen Tim in a few years. Hopefully I will see him again some day and let him read this blog, he will get a kick out of it.
(790) -INTRODUCTION TO THE PARABLES- I was going to finish our study in Judges today, but I felt like sharing something else. Recently I have been reading the parables of Jesus out of my first King James Bible. Even though I give away lots of my books and stuff, yet I managed to hold on to this keepsake. Actually I did give it away and eventually got it back! That’s why I am writing this entry. If you read the first 50 or so entries [1-50!] from the section ‘Prophecies, Dreams, Visions part 1’ you will read the story of my journey to Texas as a young rebel and how after I became a believer I led one of my old buddies from Jersey to the Lord. This friend became a believer and we learned and grew as Christians. Eventually he would die of Aids. I had given him my first bible and years later got it back. As I read thru it I realized he made notes and stuff in it. Things like ‘ask John about this?’ and other interesting stuff. Of course this bible is special to me because it contains personal insights from my first convert to the Lord. So let me share a few things I recently read. He wrote ‘God will take care of you if you have faith’ and ‘the presence of contrary winds does not mean you are out of Gods will’. Hebrews says ‘though he is dead he yet speaketh’. I consider this a privilege of being part of a Christian communion that all believers belong to. We have brothers who are looking at us from heaven right now. We truly belong to a ‘communion of saints’. After all these years, for you to get something from this simple sharing of my brothers thoughts is part of the process of being in this communion. Look at the simplicity of these words ‘God will take care of you if you have faith’ ‘the presence of contrary winds does not mean you are not in Gods will’. As I finish our study in Judges I think I am going to share a few of Jesus parables. In these parables we see Jesus ethos of the Kingdom, the things he puts value on. These things are contrary to what we value, especially as we look at ‘modern ministry’. Jesus will teach the value of not being famous or recognized! The value of becoming ‘the least of all’. Things like the mustard seed being the least of all seeds, but when it is sown it becomes the greatest. We often see faith from this. While this does apply, we also see Jesus ‘the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying’ [John’s gospel] Jesus, who Isaiah prophesied ‘I am a WORM AND NO MAN’. The Son of God who would become the least of all ‘seeds’. Who actually experienced the accumulated feelings of unworthiness and absolute condemnation that all the sins of the world could bring upon a person. He personally experienced the actual act of being forsaken and told by God ‘you are now a worm and no man’. You think ‘how could this be’ this was an aspect of bearing the sins of humanity on himself. Jesus will teach us the importance of being last, how it is of great value if in the eyes of man you look like a failure, but in the eyes of God you lived humbly. Jesus even values the words of people who lived sinful lives and failed often. He never condones sin, but he still values these ‘little ones’ [in the eyes of men] he will even use the words of one who died of aids. [note- to my friends from Jersey, this was Miguel]
(304) I had a couple of thoughts that ran thru my mind. Jesus was being praised by the people at one time in the gospels. The religious leaders were jealous and said ‘tell them to stop’ Jesus responded ‘if I stop them, the rocks themselves would cry out’. This response was primarily to the 1st century religious Jew. Their whole destiny was at a critical point in history. They were created for the sole purpose of revealing God [and ultimately Messiah] to all the ‘rock’ nations around them. Scripture uses images like ‘precious stone’ ‘wood, hay, stubble’ and things like this to denote value and worth. The religious Jew of the 1st century saw themselves as ‘precious stones’ they derived this from their Old testament books [Isaiah, etc.] The prophets referred to Israel as ‘special and precious’. Jesus response to them by saying ‘if these don’t praise me, the rocks will cry out’ was a prophetic image. He was in essence saying ‘Israel, if you withhold the rightful praise due me as the true Messiah, there will rise up another Temple made of all these gentile stones, they will give to me the honor that I deserve’. Also I was thinking of the judgment verse where Jesus says ‘when you didn’t feed me, clothe me, visit me, etc’ and the people said ‘when did we not treat you well’ and Jesus responds ‘when you didn’t do it to the least of these, you didn’t do it to me, depart from me, I never knew you’. We often read that to mean Jesus is in heaven, we are here on earth and these outcasts of society are number 3 on the list. When Jesus says ‘I never had a friendship/relationship with you’ he is saying this to those who ‘prophesied’ and did many wonderful religious works. He is speaking to those whose experience of God is truncated from social justice issues. Those who ‘see’ God and their Christian responsibility as a separate culture that is to be enjoyed ‘outside’ of society. Jesus response wasn’t saying ‘I didn’t know you because you didn’t help others’ he is saying ‘the only way you could have truly known me was THRU these people; I was represented in society in these outcasts. You had a whole lifetime to have in some way reached out and gotten to know me, you never did, therefore I NEVER KNEW YOU’. This should change our mindset of church and ministry, it should compel us to come out of our safe cultural environments and touch the world, for in doing this you touch God.
(414) I was just wasting time today. Too much TV and being unfocused. I hate these days! I was watching mad TV and flipping the channels. I also was thinking about a mayor from a small town directly on the other side of the Corpus bay from where I live. I live in Flour Bluff and he lived in Ingleside. I have no idea why I was thinking about him. He was convicted of murder about 9 years ago and has been in prison. As I had enough of Mo Collins and Will Sasso, I flipped to A and E and saw City Confidential. I pressed info on my remote controller and saw that they were doing a show on Mark Crawford, the Mayor who I was just ‘thinking’ about. This ‘thinking’ was actually ‘seeing’ the mental image of the crime he committed. He gassed some guy and buried him in the ground [he actually had an accomplice do it]. The show talked about Marks life. He grew up in a dysfunctional family. Joined the Army and eventually wound up in this area. In 1988 he woke up one day and made a decision to change. He quit his job and ran for Mayor. About the same time I was living in Kingsville and ‘quit’ the church I was going to in order to start one of my own. Mark became very involved with the Baptist church and led the youth group. I was reaching out to addicts and ex cons [I also was the youth leader at my Baptist church]. Mark went astray and got into business and got involved in some shady dealings. Mark became well known and eventually everything fell thru when in 1996 they found a dead body buried in a deep whole in his yard [remember the dream I had about digging a deep whole and putting a body in it?]. In 1996 I started our radio ministry out of Corpus, Mark might have been listening during the year he ‘buried this body’. At the end of the show I wasn’t too sure why I was watching, I knew I was supposed to. Maybe I will write Mark and see if he wants to be used for outreach in prison. I know he claims to be innocent, and you have to be careful because some ‘brothers’ want to use their contacts with someone ‘famous’ or who has influence in order to try and get out. I believe it’s possible for Mark to have done this crime and yet for the Lord to use him. I am not in the camp who always defends the Christians and thinks they can do no wrong. I know better! I feel Mark was a lot like me. Willing to take too many chances in order to break the monotony of life. Striving for something more. Not being content with just ‘going to church’. I believe God has a destiny for each of us, even those who have gone off the deep end. P.S. Mark, if you ever read this [by me sending this to you, or someone from the area who knows you sends you this blog] you made some bad choices my friend, the only excitement left in the journey is to radically sell out for the Lord one more time. NOTE: I also read David Berkowitz’s testimony on line [the son of Sam] he has some story. Google his name and see if you can find it [just looked it up, its ‘www.forgivenforlife.com’]. God uses the worst of us. I do not see myself any more worthy than any of these guys. NOTE; If you follow the ‘self image’ that the Apostle Paul had of himself you will see something interesting. Paul ‘sees’ himself as an Apostle, then as the least of the Apostles. He then sees himself as a sinner, then near the end of his writings he sees himself as the ‘worst of all sinners’. I do not see this as ‘false humility’ it is more of an understanding of the sovereignty of God. All people are capable of all things at one time or another. Also when I wrote on Peter. I always felt he carried the self-guilt of his denials of Christ. When you see Peter in the Book of acts confronting Christians who lied about selling their property and saying they gave all the money to the Lord. Peter had the choice to ‘meet out’ strong discipline or not. He was the key Apostle at the time carrying the prophetic authority of the Kingdom. If he chose to forgive and ‘let it slide’ he could have. This is where you see the teaching of Jesus come into play when he said ‘whoever’s sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whoever’s you don’t forgive will not be forgiven’ in this area of Peter dealing with these believers he chose to NOT FORGIVE. He says to these Christians ‘you have lied to God and his Spirit’ and they fall down and die as the judgment for what they did. Why was Peter so hard? I think he saw that part of himself in them that causes us to lie and present a false image to people. He was reminded of his duplicity and released judgment instead of forgiveness.
(31) Let me make a confession here. I have shared a lot of stories of fighting and being violent. After all these years you would think that it’s over. I don’t fight like I used to, but there have been times were I have been close. I recently was at a homeless hangout where I see friends who are quite rough. Most of them know me pretty well and I do help them in different ways. The other day I was there with some friends just sitting and reading the paper. A new guy showed up and was acting tough. He had long hair [longer than mine!] and was shirtless with tattoos all over his body. After a while he asked someone who I was. And the other guy said he’s some Christian who must not have a joband probably lives off the offerings from the ministry and his wife probably supports him [strike 3]. I ignored it for a little while. Then the guy with the tattoos [who now had his shirt on] walks up to us and takes his shirt off and displays the big tattoo on his back. It was big letters that simply said F. U. Well I got the hint. As I was leaving I gave in to it. I got loud and walked up to the ‘brothers’ and told them I am a firefighter and don’t take money from the ministry or my wife. I laid ‘hands’ on his shoulder and asked if he had any more questions or any thing else he needed to settle. He didn’t. They looked humble at this point. I know this was wrong, but I felt I needed to tell this to let you guys know that I’m still real. Some of my friends know I have lost my temper before and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m perfect.
(40) Yesterday I was fellowshipping with some homeless brothers and we had a real interesting discussion. Over a 2-3 hour time together we eventually went to whataburger and met with another Christian who regularly witnesses to anyone he sees there. During the discussion I was so impressed by the level of knowledge and understanding that some of these ‘simple’ believers had. The grasp of sharing in community [as opposed to tithing to the institution] was truly grasped by one of the guys. It wasn’t a rebellious thing; this one brother is actively serving the Lord with a local church that reaches out to the homeless. After this discussion it humbled me to think of the reality of this homeless person having a better grasp of giving and New Testament sharing of goods, then most Pastors have! These guys quoted scriptures on giving and were in no way ignorant of the subject. One of the other guys finally gave me a copy of a booklet he’s writing and I am including it in our tape and book catalog. What I feel the Lord wanted me to express thru this simple story is that Christ’s Spirit is always active and instructing those who believe in him. The verse that says ‘God hid things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes’ speaks to the humility of these simple believers actually having a better grasp on certain aspects of Christian truth then the Pro’s!
(74) The other day I ran into a few ‘homeless’ and ‘addicted’ ‘friends’. I want to emphasize why I say ‘friends’. But first let me tell some stuff. The one friend was the homeless brother that I gave some of our materials to a few weeks ago. I ran into him at Whataburger. He told me that he read our books and liked them. As I was leaving to drop off tapes at the radio station that we broadcast on, I invited this friend to go for the ride. He was glad and surprised to get the invitation. Sort of like ‘why would someone ‘important’ want to simply spend some time with me’. He actually was waiting for someone to pick him up for a day job, but said he would like to have gone to fellowship and ask some questions and stuff. He even described himself as one of the ‘pawns’ on Gods chess table. He said some are ‘kings’ while others are simply ‘pawns’. I reminded him that Jesus said ‘whoever wants to be a king in Gods Kingdom, must become a pawn’. He agreed to this. I also saw one of the girls who used to be a helper in the mission that I go to in order to visit homeless friends. I never really spoke to her, though I remember seeing her over the years serving with her mom at the mission. I heard that she got into ‘meth’ and was strung out on drugs. I felt really bad about this. This was a good girl who lost her way. As a principle I usually don’t try to help the girls ‘one on one’ because it obviously wouldn’t look right for me to be ‘meeting girls’ at the mission. Some are friends because of the friendship I have with their ‘boyfriends’ and the many years of befriending a lot of these guys. But ever since I heard about this girl falling into drugs, I really felt I should speak with her. Well I had the chance to take a few people to the driver’s license office to get new I.D.s [this is a problem with a lot of homeless people, they have a tendency to keep loosing their I.D.s] and asked if she needed to go, which she did. [She just lost her I.D. about a week before!] It took about an hour and I had a real good conversation with her. I shared a lot about the regrets we have when we fall into sin, which she had many. I told her how Jesus ‘violated’ religious protocol in reaching out to ‘the prostitutes’ of his day [I tried to be tactful here, but needed to get this point across]. And she really appreciated the help with the I.D. Before I dropped them off I gave her all of our books and stuff, and she began reading them before leaving the truck. I felt these simple stories capture the ‘lifestyle’ of going out into the byways and ‘compelling’ people to come in to the Kingdom. The mindset of ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few’. When I speak about the requirement for all believers to in some way reach the lost, without simply being a ‘tither who goes to church on Sunday’ this is what I mean. Jesus instructs all of us along the journey to do things like this. Jesus said to ‘count the cost’ before taking on a project. But he also said ‘make no special appeals for funds, you are the equipment’. I think we confuse these two principles. The ‘cost’ of discipleship is living your life for others. Greater love has no man than this, that you would lay down your life for your friends. Who were Jesus ‘friends’? He was accused of being a friend of sinners! I would encourage you to begin giving yourself away for the benefit of others. Seek to become a ‘pawn’ for in doing this you are a ‘king’ in Gods eyes.
(83) Had a dream a few days ago. In the area where I live in Corpus Christi [Flour Bluff] there are many generations of homeless people that have come thru this area. In the dream I saw ‘ancient houses’ imbedded in the trees and woods. It was like going thru the forest and seeing an old shack that was there so long it would seem camouflaged. There were many structures like this all thru out the woods, but they were easy to overlook and ignore. If you weren’t attentive you would see nothing at all! There was a ‘bride’ walking on the 2nd story of one of these houses and she fell thru the floor all the way thru the foundation into a seemingly endless pit. I feel the houses represent the generations of hopeless people and families that the enemy has tried to ‘swallow’ over the years. All people are precious to God, some of these are actually believers, which makes them Christ’s bride. How would you feel if your bride was daily living in such bad conditions and she felt like she were in a hopeless situation from which there were no escape!
(110) Let me tell a few jokes for levity. A few years ago I took my truck to Wal Mart for an oil change. I ran into a bunch of homeless friends who hang out in the front of the store. I was in the strange situation of having no money on me while wanting to buy a soda from a 25-cent machine. I naively asked my friends for some change [forgetting they are almost always dead broke!]. Sure enough a few of the guys were more than willing to give me their change. No questions asked. Just friends helping friends. But one of the guys got quiet when I asked for the change. His buddies could tell that he had some change but didn’t want to cough it up. They said this to him in no uncertain terms! Well after I got the change I then reached into my pocket to grab my check book [I had the checkbook on me, but no cash] and then proceeded to lie! I pulled out the checkbook and said ‘Now I am going to tell you guys who I really am’. They all looked a little shocked. I think they thought I was a Narc [undercover cop] and I was going to bust them! I told them ‘did you ever hear of the millionaire Percy Ross’ they didn’t! But anyway I told them this is the guy who anonymously gives away millions of dollars to unsuspecting people. I told them ‘I am him!’ I then went on to explain that I move to different parts of the country on a rotating basis [I wish!] and befriend homeless people. I try to teach them love and generosity for a few years [These guys all knew me for a few years by now, and I have taken them all out to eat lots of times]. I then said ‘and after trying to teach them the lesson of generosity, I simply ask them for some change. And whoever gives me the change proves that he learned the lesson and can be trusted with more. I then make him a homeless millionaire’. Well you can see the look of shock on their faces, they went from thinking they were going to get busted, to one of them becoming rich! Well the brother who had the change but wasn’t willing to give it up couldn’t wait to give me his change now. I then acted like I was writing out the check for the million and confessed I made it all up. Well at least they got some exercise by increasing their heartbeats to over 200 for a few minutes!
(119) The other day at work I was watching the news with another firefighter. The local news showed a homeless guy who was assaulted. I recognized the guy as a harmless guy I just saw a few days earlier. They then showed the 18 year old who beat him up, he was another kid that I just met and was talking to as well. When they showed the kids mug shot he looked like one of these gang kids, but in reality he seemed like a nice kid when I met him. I realized that the people seeing these guys on TV like this immediately stereotype them as dangerous and hopeless. A few months back I took a few homeless people to a local buffet to eat. One of the guys is around 23 years old. Nice kid. On our way to the restaurant my radio and C.D. player went out. I really needed it to work, I use it a lot! I didn’t have time to deal with it so I simply asked this younger brother to pray for it to work. He began praying and I knew he has prayed before. He asked the Lord to forgive him for his faults and really sought the Lord. Within a few minutes the radio started working. He knew the Lord answered his prayer. I just wanted to share how a lot of these guys are on the edge of life and society. God is eager to intervene in their lives. If you allow him, God will use to touch people that no one else can reach. These same guys you see on the news that have committed horrible crimes [a few years back one of the guys killed another with a hammer!] are real people that are close to the edge, you will have to be willing to go out on the edge with them if you want to bring them back in!
(134) Yesterday I went to the homeless mission to see some friends. I ran into one of the original friends I met years ago [around 15 years ago!]. We are good friends. I think he sees me as his ‘best friend’. He is always overjoyed when I run into him. If he’s in the hospital [which happens often!] and I don’t go to see him he gets real offended. Well any way I helped him look for an apartment yesterday. He is handicapped and uses an electric wheelchair. He very rarely showers and if he sits in your vehicle or a chair it really smells bad. Some restaurants actually have told us not to come back because of this. Well when I picked him up at the mission we went inside to drop of his chair so he could hop in the truck with me. On the wall right where he left his chair there was a poster from Exodus that said ‘my presence shall go with you’. It’s what God told Moses. If you remember I just wrote on this a few weeks ago. God ‘being at the right hand of the poor’. Well we went to a few places to look for an apartment. I spent a few hours, was real tired. Didn’t sleep much the night before. One of those nights of getting up at midnight. I really hate to get up that early, but I will do work and stuff and make the most of it. After dropping my friend off my truck really smelt bad. I had the windows open and it stunk! I have even had other homeless friends who have said ‘how can you stand it’. Well as I was driving home I made a mental note to spray a type of fabric cleaner on the seat. I have done it before. I was driving home and thinking ‘you know Lord I don’t even feel upset about having to do this’. No feeling of ‘why should I put up with this’. I remembered the verse I saw earlier where it said ‘My presence shall go with you’. Sort of like the Lord said ‘I came down into the midst of the stench of mans humanity, and I put up with it because of my love for people’. Even as you read this some of you might be thinking ‘boy, I would never do this, have some bum stink up my nice ‘church’ vehicle!’ What if it was your father? Do we really view people the way God does?
(143) Just saw on the news the other day that the fire dept. went to a brush fire. While putting out the fire they realized that it was a woman who was set on fire. Some guy from their homeless camp is suspected of doing it. They were all homeless. This was in another part of town from where I usually go. But the campsite and all looked like the camps I have visited over the years. They didn’t identify the woman yet; hope its nobody I know. Life can be tragic at times. Do me a favor and pray for all my homeless friends. Actually I would love it if you regularly prayed for this ministry [C.C.O.M.] and all the avenues of outreach the Lord has given us. We really need your prayers, thanks!
(153) I just put together a packet of books and stuff for one of my homeless friends. I have his booklets listed on our tape catalog. His name is Shelby. He has had an interesting life. At one time he had a bus ministry of hippies that he used to travel around with. Some good stuff. I put the packet together because he now sees us as ‘working together’ in ministry. He hasn’t seen the book/tape catalog with his name and articles listed and he wants a catalog. I made a point of putting an updated one together for him. It might be insignificant to some, but something like this makes a person feel like they are playing a part in Gods greater purpose. He was telling his daughter who was visiting the area about me and he wants to show her his booklets on the catalog. Its little things like this that God deems as important. Remember Jesus talking about receiving the Kingdom as little children. Let God use you to ‘connect’ with people in this relational way, these are the ‘things’ that build the Church! [NOTE: I didn’t get to drop the catalog off this day. I am now at work, the next day, and I just got a message on my answering service from Shelby. Just called to say hi and see where I was and when we were going to get together. I knew the Lord wanted me to encourage him yesterday, feel bad that I didn’t!]
(192) Just got back from seeing one of the homeless friends I met many years ago. He has had lots of struggles with drugs, but usually pot. He was what we would refer to as a ‘weed head’ in the old days. I feel kinda bad. Just talked with him for a few hours. He is so strung out on ‘ice’ that you would think he is loosing his mind. I feel bad because I really haven’t spent time with him the last 6 months or so. He is a good friend, but I try to ‘share’ the time with different friends. I gave him this blog site, he is going out of state for a while. He has listened to me on the radio before. He just gave someone else the station that we are on. I was surprised he knew it by heart [time and station # and all]. Maybe he listens a lot more than I thought? There was an older friend of mine [70 or so] that was called ‘one eyed Tony’ not to be confused with ‘New York Tony’. He was sleeping under a local overpass a few years back and some local gang kids beat him up and poked his eye out. I haven’t seen him in a few years. He used to listen to the radio show and articulate it back to me in a very intelligent manner when I saw him. He was an engineer who made a good living and was smart. Story goes he was drunk one night in Florida and accidentally killed some one in a car crash. I think it might have been a family member. He wound up living on the streets of Corpus. You wouldn’t believe that some of these homeless people were just like many of you at one time. Pray for my friends. Thanks.
(429) I will do one of no spiritual value. I had a homeless friend who visited me one day. I had the news on. They were talking about some type of government entitlement program. My friend asked what they were talking about. I told him they are thinking of giving a free check to everyone who is homeless. They will simply get a free check every month. No food stamps or stuff. He told me that this was great, he has been waiting for something like this for years [I knew this, he used to tell me this. That’s why I came up with the story]. I then told him I was kidding. Well they then started talking about the death penalty, he asks ‘what are they discussing now?’ [You think he would have learned not to ask me this]. I then proceeded to tell him That Texas is trying to extend the death penalty to include all those who are ‘unemployed’ for more than a year. That the state is going to keep records, and if it shows you haven’t been working for a year or more you get put on a ‘death row list’. Well you could see the look of worry on his face. I told him I was just kidding again. This poor brother went from getting a free check for the rest of his life, to thinking the state was going to execute him if he didn’t find a job! I thought it was funny at the time.
(476) I just got a letter back from one of my friends in jail. He is the son of one of the original ‘addicts/ex-cons’ that were a part of the ministry in the early days. I sent him a package of books and stuff and he was real grateful to have heard from me. He gave the books to some fellow inmates to read [which is why I send the stuff!] and he was telling me how one of the guys was really ‘impressed’. This sounds conceited, but when I hear this I realize that someone who has been a Christian for a while and has had questions about stuff has found our little books to have revealed some real answers. I am going to send him another packet soon. He also told me one of the guys knows me. I do not remember the brother by name, but I have had so many buddies over the years that have become friends that it doesn’t surprise me. I know some people think ‘well, what are they doing in jail?’ Not all go back, but the reality is some do. I also reconnected this week with a homeless friend who I haven’t seen in a few years. I saw him walking down the road and stopped to say hi. He was real happy to get together. I invited him to go catch a lunch. He insisted he would pay, he really did try to, but I wouldn’t let him. It was only around 10 bucks, I didn’t eat. Just had a tea, but I wanted to buy. He did tell me I have taken him out to eat hundreds of times over the years and it was his turn. I think I probably have taken him to eat around a hundred times over the years. This is not ‘speaking evangelistically’ if you will! Being I have felt real sick these last few months I was glad to have had some good ministry time. I believe God wants us healed so we can finish the race. We often make ‘well being’ the goal. The goal is the completion of his will, well being [in all areas-health, finances, etc.] are simply tools for the purpose of doing Gods will. The American church is still at the stage of ‘well being for the sake of well being’ we will need to get past this before we can see true revival in our time.
 I was praying and writing this morning. I have been taking a month off from ministry stuff, like getting with my friends, because I felt the Lord wanted me to. Not because I have been sick, to the contrary I feel much better when I get out and interact with the brothers. But I just felt the Lord wanted me to take a break. Well one of my buddies rang the bell [a very rare thing] and it was the first real ministry day in over a month. We ran into one of my old friends in town whose is wheel chair bound. I would have taken him to eat with us, but he can’t get out of his chair anymore. It’s a motorized one that ways around 300 pounds, I have tried to put it in my truck before, you cant! He asked if I could help him with 10 dollars, I gave him a twenty. He does not drink, he will use it for stuff he needs. I took the other friend to eat. I felt the Lord wanted me to give him a few dollars too. I gave him a ten and he was really grateful, he said he was going to ask if I could lend him 5 dollars. This friend also will not use it for drugs or drinking. I know both of these guys well, around 15 years. They are real old friends. I later got home [right now!] and thought it interesting. I ‘unknowingly’ gave them 30 dollars. Twice the amount of what they wanted, or asked for. I am actually believing the Lord to work out my retirement where I will bring in around 3 thousand a month. I need a few more things to work out, but I didn’t even realize that I ‘unconsciously’ gave a ‘hundredth’ of that amount. Jesus says some will get 30, 60 and a hundred fold. I have ‘unknowingly’ given the amount that I need to see a ‘hundredfold’ return on. I also spend right at $300.oo a month for radio and news paper ads. I have been ‘tithing’ [though I don’t believe we are under it!] unconsciously on a 3 thousand dollar income. I find it funny that I have been doing all this voluntarily for many years, not even looking for a return, yet God seems to ‘return’ what you need when you don’t do it for money. Jesus said some will say at the judgment ‘Lord, when did we feed you and visit you and clothe you’ the righteous were ‘unknowingly’ doing the things that God wanted. They weren’t doing these things with the return in mind. I thank the Lord that he led me to give away the money, I think he was setting me up for the return! NOTE: My friend reminded me how a few years back we were driving to the other side of town with a bunch of homeless guys, we passed up a guy on the corner with a sign begging for money. One of the homeless guys roles down his window and yells ‘get a job you bum’. These are the same guys who hold signs on my side of town!
NOTE; I just went back and read the last 3 entries. I write these things off the top of my head with no order or thought. # 486 speaks of Jesus ministry to ‘lepers’ [outcasts] and little children. #s 487 and 488 speak of me reaching out to outcasts and little children. Prophetic things are so ‘cool’.
(489) I couldn’t sleep too well last night. I was lying down and just praying for a lot of my friends who are having hard times. I was thinking how earlier in the day I dropped off my homeless buddy at the area of brush that he makes his home in. He showed me how to get to his spot, I used to visit him years ago at another campsite and he would make me ‘hobo’ coffee right over the fire. I kinda felt bad for my buddy today. His spot is back behind a bunch of swamp land. He had to get back and cut some trees and stuff so he would be able to burn them to keep the mosquitoes away at night. It is a hard life. I thought how hard it must be when they struggle with depression and stuff. Being in that type of environment for most of your life. During the day as we went and ate and checked out some of the new development in the Corpus area [new overpasses and Whataburger field [our local baseball teams field] these guys don’t have cars so they don’t get around town to see this stuff that often] he was telling me a few verses that he has put to memory and how he is trying to follow the Lord. Last year one of the other guys beat him up pretty severely. He has seen him recently and was battling the temptation to get even. He told me how he realizes that it’s just pride. He quoted the verse in Proverbs that says ‘don’t make friends with an angry man, because you will get in trouble and have to help him out of trouble over and over again’. He wasn’t sure where this verse was, I told him I thought it was in proverbs. He realized that he didn’t want to be ‘this angry man’. He even remembered the verses from one of the little books I wrote. He read it years ago and still was quoting it. I gave him new copies of all the books and stuff again. A few years back one of my original friends from Kingsville [a whole different time and group of friends/ oikos- God will allow you to impact different people groups thru out your life] came to see me. We were reminiscing about the old days. I was surprised how he would remember the things that I thought were insignificant. I was thinking they would remember all the great prophetic stuff, or the teaching and stuff. He remembered the time he was strung out on dope and I spent the early morning [2 or 3 am] in front of his family’s home in government housing just talking to him about the Lord. He remembered the real times of friendship and stuff like that. I guess that’s why Jesus put such a high priority on loving our neighbor, he new these were the most effective ways of bringing people into the Kingdom. Of having long lasting impact that they would remember for years to come. God wants these things to be our legacy. What good is it if we have the greatest knowledge in the world, or the greatest prophecies? Or even if we do great charity works. If we do it all without true love for people it profits us nothing [1st Corinthians 13], people don’t remember all the great prophetic things. There a dime a dozen. They remember true friendship. NOTE: One of the dangerous mindsets that works against the Kingdom is prejudice and ‘class warfare’. In today’s ‘radio’ environment, it is all too easy to spend hours listening to all the legitimate reasons why we shouldn’t help illegal aliens, or why the poor are ‘getting what they deserve’. In Jesus teaching to us, he instructed us to help the poor. To treat our neighbor with love and respect. These concepts are real ways we spread the Kingdom. Jesus knew that ‘the poor’ were very often people who ‘got what they deserved’. There were obvious reasons why they wound up as the outcasts of society. Jesus told us nevertheless to help them. It is an act of mercy and compassion to treat them with love and respect. Even if they don’t deserve it. It breaks our pride and prejudice to give freely to those who don’t deserve it. This is done because of Gods treatment of us. We were/are undeserving of all the good gifts he has given us. We didn’t get mercy because we deserved it! God requires of us to lay down our lives for others who don’t deserve it. This is how they, and others, will experience Gods GRACE and MERCY. They will see it thru us.
(589) Yesterday I got with some homeless friends. I met Andy a few months back, I have seen him drunk on a few occasions. It surprised me one day when I was giving him a ride to a friend of his house where he was crashing at the time, he asked if I had a big letter King James bible to lend him. This day he was on fire for the Lord. He told me his story about feeling the Lords call on his life, he went thru tons of scriptures and all. I knew he wasn’t faking it. Well I had this expensive large print King James bible in the truck, I gave it to him. I bought it a few months back for 30 dollars, it was worth around 100. They were old bibles that had notes in them from the late 1800’s. Real good study bibles, just outdated. I got it at half price books, it was a collector thing for me. Man he would see me every so often and tell me ‘I am reading the crap [he used the SH-T word!] out of that bible’. I knew he was! Then one day he told me how some college kids ripped him off, that happens to these homeless guys, and he lost the bible. I was kinda mad, I actually valued it. I have a bad habit of giving my books away. I gave away my Greek Lexicon [you use it to study bible words in the original language] and a bible dictionary. Then sure enough I needed them a few weeks later. I have to stop doing this! [I actually got the dictionary back, but let the guy keep the other stuff]. Well yesterday I saw Andy at the homeless mission, he was sober and doing well. He will bring up the Lord to others while I am around, not to brag, I have noticed some of the guys start thinking about the Lord when I am around, even though I usually am just hanging out. They will mention him to others, sure enough Andy witnessed to some new kid [20’s] who was hanging out complaining about his life. Andy told him about the Lord in a straight up way. The kid walked away. Andy says ‘you never know, a few years from now the seeds that I just planted might bring fruit, like Paul says in Corinthians’. I agreed. Another guy, Huey, asked if I could give him a ride back to the hotel where he was staying, he had some clothes and stuff that the mission gave him. I said sure. I gave him some gas a few weeks back, but his truck is broken right now[I actually put the gas in at the station, he would have used the cash for beer]. As far as I know I never witnessed to him before, but he knew I was a believer. He was bringing up the Lord and stuff, talking about the reality of God. As we were leaving the mission, he sees Andy walking and says ‘brother, you need a ride too?’ sure enough we pick up Andy. As I drop them off they are calling each other brother, I do this a lot myself. I then find out they really are brothers! Kinda sad that they are both living this tuff life, they must have had some upbringing from a home that taught them something about God [probably a Mom or Grandma] but for them to both be homeless means they have had problems also. I found it strange how they still cared for each other and all, there are guys who are family on the streets and you would never know it. One day Andy gave me this prophecy that was right on. He didn’t know it, but it was for me. He actually was telling me how he preached to this guy years ago, and as he was telling me the story and recounting what he said, it fit me perfect! This is how I can tell he is not faking ‘the Jesus thing’. After all he was reading the ‘sh-t out if his bible’! [I don’t add this to be funny, I think it shows you the real situations that people are in and this brings us out of our religious shells. God interacts with people all the time, we seem to be un aware of this. Jesus said the harvest is ready but their aren’t enough workers. Find time to give yourself away, it will be worth it].
(576) I have a homeless friend who doesn’t like Bush [or the mayor of our city]. He is a believer and is upset that Bush has said that Allah and God are the same, they certainly are not! Every now and then when he is upset about the president, or tells me something that leads to political talk, I will kid him and say ‘well, you know what Bush says ‘Allah and God are the same’ and he will go on for at least an hour after this! He also has something against our Mayor, maybe it’s an authority thing? But he has been harassed over the years by the cops, he doesn’t drink and is a strong believer, but he is homeless. So every so often the cops harass him, he blames it on the Mayor. Sure enough I tell him ‘you mean Henry Garret’ that is the Mayors name. Well my friend didn’t know his full name, my friends name is also Henry, he wasn’t to pleased with this development. Then one day we were just fellowshipping, and I was reading the paper. The Mayor is on the front page with a broad smile, just rejoicing and full of life. I tell my friend ‘hey, your buddies picture is on the front page’ I show it to him and he must have went on for 2 hours about him, I don’t say anything about the Mayor anymore.
(666) PROVERBS (watch out for this number! Kidding.] I mentioned a few entries back about a local Pastor who had recently died. When I first came to Corpus I gave him one of our books ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER OR DEN OF THEIVES’. I gave them to lots of Pastors. About a year ago I heard him preach on ‘YOU CAN NOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON’ ‘THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL’. Themes that were very rarely heard from ANY preachers in this city! [Shame]. I don’t know if he preached it because our blog site and radio program are very popular with the local believers. This allows for many pastors who ‘by pass’ us to later hear from their people stuff like ‘why don’t you ever preach on the dangers of mammon’? And there you go! Proverbs says ‘there is that withholds more than is right and it tendeth to poverty. There is that scattereth and yet increases’. I took one of the homeless guys to Wal-Mart and offered to buy him a tent. It’s cold and his is leaking. I also paid for a weeks rent for another friend [not the rent I paid a few entries back]. I told my buddy ‘don’t spend more than 50.oo on the tent’. He came back from the aisle and said he didn’t need one. He admitted the one he needs is 70.oo and he could manage with the one he has. I told him ‘no, go ahead and get it’. I wrote the check over at the register and added it to some cash on hand and paid the rent for another friend. They at times even say ‘brother, we don’t want you to drain too much money’! There is that scatters yet INCREASES! Are you scattering? The friend with the tent looks clean cut and all, you would have no idea he is homeless. He works odd jobs and looks cleaner than me! I met him a few months back, he knows a lot of bible stuff. I gave him all the books and stuff I wrote on disks and after he read our stuff was really excited. Many things were confirmed in his mind. He had massive colon surgery 6 months ago. He has told me he has been in pain and needs to get checked. He is totally trusting God for healing and has refused the Chemo treatments. I dropped him off and walked to his campsite in the middle of a wooded area. It’s been a few years since I have been to the camps. I spent a little time with him and he was real excited about setting up the tent. It was around 35 degrees and raining. He promised to pay me back, I refused. I never let the guys pay me back, I see this as giving a ‘tithe’. Something that is rightfully Gods. While walking back to the truck, and thinking and praying for him over the past few days I thought ‘Father, take care of your son. It’s cold and these guys need your help’. They are great guys, many of them are reaping years of their parent’s broken homes and lives. David said ‘I have been young and now I am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread’.
(551) Deuteronomy 20-25 You read ‘the elders of the city’ a lot in these chapters. Paul will eventually choose to use this terminology to describe the leadership of the New Testament church. These were plural leaders among a group of believers in a city. Not singular preachers of groups of people in buildings on a set day of the week! You did have the singular model in Paul’s day. Where? In the system of the Pharisees and Synagogues! The concept of a ‘president’ of the synagogue leading the people on Sabbath day in Christian [Jewish] instruction was being carried out in Paul’s day. Paul used to be part of the system! He chose the concept of elders over a city, instead of a singular title over a part of the people that met in a building. I think we need to get back to the better model. Also instruction is given that when the children enter the land they are to share the fruits of the land with the stranger. They are not to totally reap all the fruit from the trees or the fields. The stranger can walk in your fields and eat whatever he wants; he just can’t take it with him. These guidelines are given for the benefit of the alien [stranger]. God says I want you to remember that you too were strangers in Egypt. This cuts to the heart of so much of the present debate over the illegal alien issue of our day. I do understand the anger that some have over this issue, God says ‘remember, you were all aliens at one time or another, don’t get so self righteous. If I tell you to share your goods with those who don’t deserve it, then do it. I am the one who brings forth the produce, so share it with others’. God has blessed us financially and materially, he requires us to share it with others. A few difficult verse’s 23:1 God says if a man is wounded in the ‘private area’ he cannot come into the congregation. God is not telling people if they have had some sexual accident that they cant serve God, he is saying he wants people who can ‘procreate’ in his church! He wants people to be able to ‘reproduce’ [soul winners] for his Kingdom. 23:14-15 God says when you ‘go to the bathroom in the land’ dig a hole and bury it, because he is in the land and your land must be sanctified. If it isn’t then he can’t ‘walk among you’. The spiritual lesson is we can’t accomplish anything without God’s presence. We need him, stay clean so he can work among us. Only by the blood. Also when a man dies without having children, his widow shall marry the brother so he can have seed remain in his name. If the brother says ‘no, I do not want to raise up seed to my brother’ then he is taken before the elders and they take off his shoe, spit in his face, and his name is called ‘the man who has no shoe’. What’s this all about? God is saying be willing to build others up, your gift is not given for you to build your ministry, or the people who relate only to you [church members]. But I have given you gifts to raise up ‘seed to your brethren’ as well. Use your gift to help others, others who can’t repay you [I think I heard this somewhere before? Jesus!] If you don’t, all the people will know your church well, it will be the one in town where every body where’s one shoe!