JOURNAL- Mar-May, 2013
Yesterday I dropped the mustang off at Pep Boys for a few repairs before I sell it.
I sold the van last week- so that leaves me on foot [bus] from now on.
So- even though I have lived in Texas for 33 years- I have only rode the bus about 5 times.
The first day [the other day] I met Jim.
You know- every so often a street guy hops on.
I noticed that the ‘normal’ folk just ignore them- or maybe are not in the mood to talk.
I had a good talk with Jim- he also spends some time up around Boston every year.
He is smart- but also a little eccentric.
He got into some discussion about electricity and stuff- yeah- maybe a little ‘too’ smart.
Then the next day I met ‘Rockin’ Ronnie.
Now- I caught the bus in town- and we both got on the one that brings you to the little suburb I live in- called Flour Bluff [or The Bluff].
Ronnie was obviously a street guy- when you have no shoes- yeah- that kinda marks you.
Being we were both heading the same way I sparked up a conversation with him.
Ronnie is from good ole Philly- yeah- not far from my home area in N.J.
He has been here for about as long as I have- and the funny thing is we have never met each other [we were both born in 62 also].
Yet he is a homeless guy- lived 30 years in the area where I know all the street guys- a fairly small area- and we never ran into each other.
So- as I told Ronnie I know all the street guys- he mentioned ‘the crew’-
You know Lazarus?
Yup [by the way- that’s his real name!]
What about Albert?
It was funny- we knew the same crowd- yet not each other.
I got a kick out of a story Ronnie told me.
About 5 months ago one of the crew made it onto the news- he took a ‘leak’ on a cop car and got busted.
So- they showed Albert’s face all over the local news- he spent a week in jail.
He gets out and shows up at the mission- where of course he’s now famous for being the guy who urinated on the cop car.
Of course Albert denied it- but we really didn’t believe him.
So- as I’m talking to Ronnie- he asked me if I knew Donald D.
I told him yeah- I knew/loved him like a brother.
Donald was one of the first street guys I ever met- and whenever he saw me he would open his arms and give me this huge hug ‘I love you so much man’ he would tell me.
Most of the street guys love the ‘street preachers’ and Donald was like that.
Last year I showed up at the mission and I heard he died- I was sad.
Donald lived in N.J. years ago- Lake Hapakon [Sp?].
A spot my dad used to take me to as a kid- great lake for kids and all.
So Ronnie tells me a few nights after Donald D died they were having a celebration ‘party’ for him [basically getting drunk in the park].
And they were at Parker Park [actually as I write this- I just remembered that’s where I first met Donald 25 years ago].
But they were getting drunk- making all types of noise- and sitting right behind the cop station!
Ronnie tells me the cops finally come out and arrest them- and Ronnie asks the cop
‘Hey man- can I take a leak before you drive me to the city jail’.
He knew he wouldn’t make it.
The cop says no- and Ronnie ‘relieved’ himself on the car.
He tells me ‘yeah- they busted old Albert for it- but it was me’.
Huh- so I guess Albert was framed all along- how funny!
As the bus came to my stop- one of the last I will ever make in Texas.
I told Ronnie to say good bye to the crew for me.
I haven’t had a chance to see them the past couple of months.
And in a way I think the Lord let me run into Ronnie for the last Hurrah- to say good bye to my street buddies.
Yeah- I am looking forward to this new style of ministry- meeting some down and out people on the bus type thing.
Next stop- NYC.
GOOD BYE MY SON [Please pray for me as I will you]
Saw the guys yesterday at the halfway house.
I haven’t heard from Cameron in a few days- he was one of the new kids that I took a liking to.
Of course I love all the brothers- we are all seeking God together.
But Cameron was a new kid- around 23 or so- and he graduated from the high school that my kids went to- he was in school at the same time.
So- it was kinda funny/sad- I would tell my kids ‘hey- one of the new boys was from your crowd’.
I showed them Cameron’s pic- but they didn’t recognize him.
So- the few days I was with him- we would talk about the Lord- getting clean- I kinda was doing the Father figure thing with him.
One day he got this new key chain- it was a dice thing- I told him I liked it ‘gee- I wish someone would donate one to me’.
He laughed- it was like his only possession- and I wanted the thing!
So the next day he texts me ‘sorry I was a little boutique yesterday- had a rough day’.
I still have no idea what that means- but I guess he felt he was out of line.
I texted him back ‘no boy- all is well- I would be feeling better though if I had a key chain dice type thing’!
He texts ‘your jokes are not funny! …’
So- I liked the kid.
He started his own lawn and garden business- was off to work every single day [not something the other guys at the halfway house do- not all of them].
He was a great singer- rhythm and blues- for real- could have made a CD.
I sing the classic rock songs- I do pretty well to be honest- one of the guys at the Fire Dept. thought I could win the ‘American idol’ thing- for real [one time they heard me singing in the morning cleanup- the guy asked if I had the radio on- I told him I was singing- he did not believe me!]
So- I hit a few tunes with Cameron at the halfway house- yeah- the other boys were a captive audience!
So- I showed up yesterday- ready to sing a few more.
I found out Cameron tested positive on his last drug test- he s on 10 years probation- and he went back to jail.
I really felt bad the whole day- I saw him like a son.
So much talent- such a good kid [his pic is on my face book sight]
He will probably do 90 days and come up for another chance to make parole/probation.
Maybe they will send him to a rehab type thing.
To me it’s a big thing to do 90 days in jail.
To these guys- they get used to it- but that’s what’s so bad about it- it becomes a lifestyle- and it should not be that way.
Okay Cameron- if your reading this when you get out- I’ll probably be gone by then.
I love you like a son kid- you have so much going for you- don’t throw it all away!
I’M SAILING AWAY- SET AN OPEN COURSE … [Styx]
Yesterday I got my 60 day coin from AA.
It was really day # 63-64 [?]- But I hadn’t gone to many meetings- and I it was the first chance to get it.
Let me make a note here- I do not see myself as ‘the exception’.
I never had a sponsor- I never knowingly did the steps [I have often said- if you naturally practice the steps- on your own- then maybe all a person needed was the meetings- or another aspect of the group environment. In my case- I weekly prayed prayers that were ‘daily inventory’- I did outreach- I already- as a believer- was doing many of the good things that AA encourages- so in my case the reason I was- am able to be sober- although some say I’m in rebellion because of no sponsor-etc.- is because I simply needed the missing part- which to me was leaving the friends I was reaching out to for many years- but they never sought real change- real sobriety. So- I think God simply used AA to help me make a break from that community. Though I never once drank with the street guys- or partied- yet- because they were really not seeking change- it affected me].
So- I took from AA what was lacking- and I left the rest. I do not demean them in any way- will continue to go to meetings- get my 90 day coin- but I do not take the same approach as some of my friends.
Some are very legalistic- they even see me as one of the only/few exceptions to the rule- in the whole world!
Yikes- I tell them ‘look- there are many hundreds of thousands of cases like me- open your eyes man!’
Okay- enough of that.
So- as my buddies see that I’m serious abut leaving Texas- I see some of them either don’t want me to go- or want to take the trip with me.
I told the guys I am not going to take any one with me [they think I’m gonna set up another ministry in NY- they want in on it].
I have told them I will continue to reach out to the homeless and down and out- but will not be setting up any type of ‘new ministry’.
Those days are over for me.
A verse I like a lot talks about John the Baptist.
In the gospel of John we read about many disciples leaving John and following Jesus [chapter 3].
So some of John’s followers were getting worried ‘hey John- we are losing our following- they are going to Jesus’.
John says that’s what’s supposed to happen ‘He must increase and I must decrease’.
In many ways I see myself ‘going away’.
Not that I won’t continue to journal for all my on-line friends- no- I will keep doing that.
But I have pulled out of everything else.
I like John’s words a lot- I think we should all give them a try.
3 DOORS DOWN- ITS NOT MY TIME
IF ANY MAN COMES ATER ME LET HIM TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY
Yesterday I had a couple of the boys come over and do some roof repairs.
Yeah- as I Detach from Texas- I have been selling/giving away stuff.
My baby- the 1966 Mustang- GT- 4 barrel Holly carb- 289 [motor] – yeah- have it in the shop for a few repairs.
Now- get this- I’m selling it for- wait- $3,950.oo.
I have seen this car list for up around 18,000!
So yes- I’m doing the ‘sell what you have- give to the poor [I’m poor!]- and follow me’.
Okay- I had another one of those Bus encounters.
This time I had a nice talk with the driver.
I told him after being in Texas for 33 years I’m moving back to the NY area.
I told him I’m letting my wife have the house- either she can sell it or rent it.
He said he thought that was a noble thing [yeah- I’ll take any encouragement I can get!].
I would like to get some of my retirement cash I used to pay it off in 2008.
I owed about 30,000 when I retried- and took a Lump Sum from my retirement to pay it off.
That lowers your monthly check- but at the time it was the best way to do it.
So- the house is worth about 125,000- maybe I’ll take around 10-15,000 if my wife sells it.
At this point I don’t really care to be honest- I want her and my 2 youngest girls to have some money.
My younger girls are 22-23- they still live home on and off- you know- one of those types of things.
My wife always wanted to get her real estate license- so if she rents [or sells] she can have some money for that.
We have not fought- not once- during this whole thing.
She knows I mean well- geez- she has seen me up praying at 2-3 in the morning for years.
Working with my friends- and then not hiding stuff when people say things about you- maybe being too willing to not hide!
So- she sees that and has been really nice to me thru this whole thing.
I have been reading Luke’s gospel and a funny thing happened.
These past few weeks as I let go of stuff [just sold the kayak for 100- gave my fishing poles away too].
I have been thinking how I never went back north because the real estate is so high [and the rents! – geez- any of my old friends have a cheap room?]
But I thought I really don’t need a bunch of stuff- wherever I go I can just stay with friends- family- or maybe at some missions.
Then I read the teaching of Christ [again].
He says ‘when I send you out- don’t take extra stuff- money- etc- but whatever city you go to- stay with whoever gives you a spot. Eat what they serve you.’
It’s in the same chapter where Jesus says take up your Cross and follow him.
‘Whoever seeks to save his life shall lose it- he who gives it up shall find it’.
Now- we all know these verses- but we have justified ourselves in a way.
We think ‘yeah- Jesus just meant don’t love your stuff’.
Actually- if you read it for what it’s worth- it goes a little further than that.
Anyway- I found it interesting to see these very plain instructions- stuff I began doing this month- and how clear it was.
So- the roof got fixed- the Kayaks gone- and the mustang is on the way out [Van sold last week].
To be honest- it feels good in a way.
Even ‘giving’ the house to my wife- I want to do this.
I have a retirement- she does not.
I told her to see it as her inheritance- to do with it what she wants.
It took a few weeks for her to start looking forward to it- she is now a little excited about the whole thing to be honest.
I do very much pray for her and all my kids- and me going way like this is not easy at all.
I am having a very hard time just committing this whole thing to God.
It’s hard to go.
HOW LONG TO THE POINT OF NO RETURN?
Being I’m in the middle of getting rid of lots of stuff- and doing some final repairs on cars and the house- I haven’t really had time to comment on many big news events.
This week there have been some important things that I feel I should mention.
Bradley Manning has been in court for the leaking of thousands of ‘secret’ memos to Wikileaks.
Most of you should be familiar with the case.
He has been held in solitary confinement for a few years and the govt. has charged him thru the espionage act.
Now- even though most of the stuff leaked really amounted to embarrassing details- how the U.S. govt. has done behind the scenes talks with other nations- kind of deceived folk- or the biggest leak was the video now famously referred to as Collateral Damage.
This video showed a terrible incident where our guys fired [helicopter] on a bunch of civilian reporters- by accident- thinking they were the enemy- but were later found out to be reporters.
It looked bad- really bad.
So- the question is should we view the leaking of this stuff as espionage [spy type charges] or more like a whistle blower.
That’s the debate- I personally think what he leaked does not rise to the level of life in prison- which is what the govt. is seeking.
Now- we also had the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA.
During the hearings- he [and Holder- US attorney] were asked questions about killing US citizens- without due process.
As most of you know we killed a US citizen a few years back with a drone [in Yemen].
He was indeed a full blown Al-Qaida leader- and had influence with others.
Now- what most don’t know is a few weeks later we also killed his US born son- 16 years old.
His son was born in Detroit- living in Yemen.
By all accounts- his son was not an Al-Qaida operative- he of course was probably influenced by his dad’s radical views.
But he was a minor- a US citizen- and he was traveling to see his dad.
We killed him with a drone strike while he was sitting at an outdoor restaurant.
When the US govt. was asked why we killed him- one of the responses was he should have picked a better father.
Now- whatever side of the aisle you fall on- this stuff has to stop.
All this is going on at the same time we just read the Miranda rights to the son in law of Osama Bin Laden- and are putting him on civilian trial in NYC.
So- we executed a 16 year old US citizen- because his dad was a bad guy- yet we read the rights to a non citizen- who may have some type of involvement with the 9-11 attacks.
[Note- the US govt. has said the killing of the boy was a mistake- but we still killed him]
This is bad- very bad.
As the US seeks to imprison Manning- for life.
And is also attempting to get Julian Assange- the founder of WikiLeaks.
We need to ask ourselves what role the on-line media outlets play.
For instance- the NY times printed some of the same material that Manning leaked- yet the print media are considered ‘media’ and the printing of ‘secret’ stuff is considered noble- like Florida’s sunshine laws.
Yet if an on-line publisher posts the same stuff- he can be tried for espionage.
During one debate when this question came up- the pundit simply said if it’s in print- then it’s legal.
But if it’s on line- its not.
Is that really the criteria we want to use to decide that what one organization published is noble- but for the other it merits the possible death penalty [which is the level of crime Manning is charged with]?
Yes- these questions are important to answer- they should not be seen as ‘left or right’ questions [the Repub senator Rand Paul did a stand up job- literally- by doing an old fashioned filibuster on the drone issue the other day].
So yeah- if a nominee for the CIA- or the US attorney general can not say that a US president has no right to kill a citizen- in our country- without due process- then he should not be up for that position.
We as a country have gone thru many struggles since the tragic 9-11 attack.
And we [first under Bush] did give up too many rights as we overreacted- by loosening our rules on the privacy of US citizens.
But if we cant clearly say that no US president- whether Repub or Dem- has the right to kill a US citizen without due process- then we are all falling off the deep end-
As Kansas put it TO THE POINT OF NO RETURN.
Okay- one more time.
I just psoted an entire description for the last pic- and facebook deleted the entire psot.
I’m getting ready to leave facebook- for good.
The last pic is David- my co-founder for the halfway house we started abiout 5 mtonh ago.
David- like most of the guys at `AA- is addicted to prescription drugs.
One day I asked him what he was taking- it was Morphine.
I told him ‘why the hell are you taking morphine’.
In the EMS field you only get that if your terminal- because its so addictive.
He has PTSD because of open heart surgery-a dn has delayed his back surgery- so they prescribed himj the morphine.
Yesterday he was having withdrawls- bad.
David was in his guilt thing again ‘’I;m a fucking killer- I killed my best friend’.
David shot and killed his best friend years ago in Dallas.
His brother Andy told me when they came to get the body- he had shotgun shells under his feet.
David never stopped shooting- even after his friend was down.
So- he’s yelling thius stuff at his house yesterday- Andy- his brother- is afraid to be around him.
I took david back to the house and he’s doing better.
I told him the oyther day- when he was doing his guilt trip
‘DAVID- GOD FORGIVES YOU!!’ he just cant seem to forgive himself.
6TH AVENUE HEARTACHE
Okay- we have a new Pope as of this post.
Yeah- it’s hard to write a journal and not post it- who knows- maybe none of this will ever be seen?
J.D. Salinger became sought after because of that very reason [he published a couple of hits- Catcher in the Rye- and then went into hiding].
So- let’s see what happens.
Now- I think Francis might become my favorite in recent history.
Francis [the name he took- from Francis of Assisi- also speaks about his character. St. Francis forsook family wealth to work in Gods field- he believed God called him to help restore the church to her original design].
So- Pope Francis lived the same type of calling.
He’s the first Pope from America [albeit Latin America].
He’s the first from the Jesuit order to hold the office- the Jesuits are my favorite Catholic order.
If you remember my church history section- I covered the Jesuits- and complimented them a lot.
The Jesuits are the intellectuals of the church- now- the Catholic Church as a whole is of course very intellectual.
But the Jesuits were very influential in the development of the scientific method.
As a percentage- there were more Jesuit leaders in science than any other group.
They also were missionary minded.
When I covered them in the past I showed how after the 16th century Protestant Reformation the Jesuits did a sort of Counter Reformation and evangelized Asia- an area where the Protestants fell short.
So- as you can see- I’m a fan of the Jesuits.
Francis- from Buenos Aires Argentina- lived among the poor- he cooked his own meals and rejected the perks that Cardinals/Arch Bishops get.
Yet- he was a ‘conservative’ in doctrine.
How could he be a sort of Liberation theologian- and yet hold to conservative views?
Here’s where our modern news shows mess stuff up.
As an avid news watcher- the last few years one of the critiques I gave was the mistake of men like Glenn beck and others- who associated Liberation Theology with heresy.
Now- Beck and others meant well- they just made the mistake of demonizing people they don’t understand [remember the rampage against Van Jones?]
But that’s why we need to get our info from better informed folk.
Anyway- Liberation Theology is a form of Christian teaching that associates the ministry of Jesus to the poor- and seeks to impellent that- sometimes too far- with government programs.
So- in Latin America- you have had Catholic champions of the poor and down trodden- who advocated for the poor- and at the same time believed in the historic positions of the doctrines of the church.
For instance- some ‘liberal’ scholars reject the resurrection of Jesus- and other key teachings of the church.
These men [both Catholic and Protestant] are referred to as Liberal scholars.
Francis is not one of them- he’s ‘conservative’ when it comes to the historic faith.
Yet- in his actions [Orthopraxy] he is ‘liberal’ [that is if you think identifying with the poor is liberal].
So- Francis is a lot like me in my belief [I too am conservative in doctrine] and practice- I have lived with the poor and down and out for years.
So- he just might be my favorite.
Let’s wait and see.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots.
LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD
As I continue my transition from a Texan back to a Yankee- I have been reading the gospel of Luke.
Its funny- but the very things I have been struggling with- like leaving your family- are the things I come across next in the reading.
Jesus gives a parable- some man has this big wedding dinner- and he sends out his servant to get guests.
And he says ‘come on- hurry- all things are ready’.
There is a sense of urgency about the thing.
And the guests make one excuse after another.
‘I can’t come- I just bought some land’
‘I have married a wife and that takes precedence’
Jesus then says the master gets mad when he hears how ungrateful the guests are.
He then sends the servant out and he gathers the low life’s of society- these accept the invitation [the kingdom goes to the poor].
Jesus then goes on and says if you want to follow him- you have to be willing to give up everything- even your comfort zone- and he does say even your wife and kids- and then follow him.
Now- I want to be real careful here.
My teaching- the stuff I teach about Christianity and the bible- I try real hard to base it not just on some private interpretation of scripture [a mistake among many Protestants].
But I try to ground my teaching both in scripture and tradition [yeah- sounds Catholic doesn’t it?]
So- I’m very aware of the various Christian groups who practice a strong ‘anti- family’ mindset.
Some seperate from loved ones because they leave the group- I don’t hold to that kind of stuff at all.
Okay- now- why mention this verse then?
Because I stumbled across it as I was struggling with going north- without my family- leaving them behind.
And then I felt the Lord was showing me how this very thing is one of the hindrances to the kingdom.
What thing- your wife and kids?
Not really- not in a way you might think.
But the thing about entrusting your family to God.
In the excuses that the guests made- they are all centered around self survival.
One wants to take care of his land [he actually says he has to go SEE IT- man- didn’t you look at it already?]
It’s the whole mindset of finding comfort and security in things- or in our so called ability to control stuff.
In today’s Christian environment- where you can walk into a Wal Mart and in the best seller section you have Christian books on how God wants you to have everything now- we have developed a mindset that hardly ever gives any serious thought to surrendering our lives over to God.
The excuse’s the guests gave are centered around self survival- worried about having to ‘have enough’ for the future.
Sure the bible speaks about a ‘good man leaves an inheritance to his kids’ but the Kingdom ideal of Jesus seems to blow that out of the water.
I want to make sure you guys don’t mis-read this.
I’m not saying we should all leave our wives and kids because of this verse.
But Jesus is saying nothing should take precedence over our mandate to follow him- to take up our Cross daily.
And it’s often these very things- the things we try to control- or try to handle ourselves- it’s these issues that often hold us back.
One excuse was ‘I need to go home and bury my father’.
Jesus says ‘let the dead bury the dead- just come and follow me’.
BIG OLD JET AIRLINER- STEVE MILLER BAND
TIME FOR A COOL CHANGE
Today I’m feeling a little depressed.
Not so much for the obvious reasons- but just because of the way some things are turning out with my buddies and the halfway house.
Those of you who have read this far- you know the story.
It’s been about 5-6 months ago that I got back from my N.J. visit and my friend John David texted me ‘hey John- you still want to start a halfway house’.
I was driving with my other homeless friend- Henry- and I took the next on ramp to the highway and that’s the way it started.
We have had a bunch of guys come thru since then- and we did accomplish some good stuff- for real!
But I always had this strange premonition that it was not going to be a long term thing.
One day early on David said ‘who knows- maybe NeWay was just supposed to save John’.
Now- that was the 2nd month in- and he was talking about John Boy- one of our first guys- who is dying of liver cancer.
But when David said it- I thought to myself ‘yeah- it was just to save me’.
I have been clean now for around 80 days- sad to say- I’m the only sober one in the whole thing as of now.
Yeah- I had a feeling even David- who had such a great story- who is well known in the entire AA circuit- I had a feeling he- as well as his brother- all went off the wagon- so to speak.
Now- I also realized that these guys lie- a lot!
Sure- we all do at times- but I saw no reason to lie about being clean.
I mean I have about 80 days- if I slipped up- I would say it.
I saw David yesterday for the first time in about 4 days.
He was terrible- he did not confess anything- but as I sat in his room- I saw the stuff right there.
It was kinda hidden- but not too good.
John David is a special man- he has [had] destiny written all over him.
I’ve been around long enough where I can see it.
One time he tells me about living in some town in North Texas.
The description of the house and land was great- right off of some state preserve- he had deer and wild life in his back yard.
The famous child actor- Spanky- form the little rascals lived there too.
He told me how Spanky owed him a beer [he kept brining it up- like he was pissed off that he never paid him back!]
Spanky was an all out drunk- he was bitter about what happened to Buck Wheat and the other cast members.
David told me how Spanky would set up at some out door flea market and sell signed pictures of him and the gang.
David had a few other stories about running into fame and fortune- and of course losing it all when he became an addict.
So- It’s sad to see my friend like this- and to realize he was trying so hard for me to not know- he really was so concerned about me relapsing.
I mean if I did not see him in 2 days he would be texting me all worried about me going back out.
Now he does not even answer my texts.
I saw the writing on the wall.
I’m not sure why I’m telling you guys all this- I’m trying to write this thing like a journal- and then when you read it you can see the progression of it all.
I still have to deal with some serious stuff- stuff that does very much effect a persons mind.
These types of things do make a person feel suicidal- that’s the truth.
I think it just comes with the territory [my court troubles].
I’m not looking for pity- I really could care less about trying to justify my self to any body- we will all be dead quite soon.
But I want very much to finish well- to accomplish what’s left on my Bucket List- and then wrap it up.
So- I texted David yesterday.
He must know that I know.
I spoke to him like a brother.
‘David- I’m so happy about NeWay and what we have accomplished these last 5 months.
But I want you to get help- your sick David- I want you well’.
I went on and spoke to him like a friend who is worried.
I was surprised- about 5 hours later he texted back
‘John- I’m doing better now- I found some Zanax’.
He’s still trying to make it sound like he was just having a bad day- it’s so sad to see my friend- my brother- in such denial.
He spoke about it so much when I first started working with him this last year.
I dot know how everything will turn out- but I’m so tired of the whole thing.
I have been listening to some old tunes from you tube in the morning.
I like the Little River Bands ‘Time for a cool change’.
It’s been a kind of escape for me.
Try to listen to it today- see if you like it?
HAPPINESS IS THE ROAD
Changed the spark plugs and wires in the Mustang yesterday- it took a couple of weeks of messing around with it before I got it running good again.
I will aggressively list it soon- for sale.
I had a couple of my buddies show up.
Andy came by for a few hours- and Michael- my ‘artist’ stopped by.
Yeah- Michael has been a street guy for many years.
I must have known him now for around 20 years.
And he has worked odd jobs- dishwasher- cook- etc.
But many people had no idea that he was a talented artist.
Mike has showed me his work over the years- and its great stuff.
So about 8 months ago he made a nice painting of the actual streets and buildings right where we have the halfway house [he did not even know we had the halfway house].
When I saw it I told him I wanted to buy it- I bought it for 40 bucks.
It is an original oil painting and very nice.
I had him add the name of my ministry [Corpus outreach] and the name of the halfway house- NeWay.
He kinda painted it like they were street signs on some buildings- but it looked real good.
Today I will give the painting to John David- he knows I’m gonna give it to him.
I was waiting till my last day or 2- but felt now was the time.
So- when Mike came by the house I gave him 2 huge Beatles posters I had hanging in the garage.
They are nice- collectors things.
He wanted to pay me- I told him no way- It’s my gift to him.
But- as we sat in the yard [if I remember- whenever I post this long journal- I’ll try to post the pics at the same time].
He saw some of my silly paintings that I have done over the years.
As some of you know- I paint on my house- fence- etc.
And not just regular house painting- no- verses and stuff.
So- I had a couple of actual boards that I painted on- like bill boards.
And Mike kept staring at one- I told him if he wanted it he could have it.
I just have various verses and stuff on it- but he thought it had potential.
He told me he wants to add some finishing touches to it- and frame it- and post it on his face book site [where he displays his art].
And when I’m gone it he will have my name and his as the artist.
That’s so Cool!!
A real artist thinks my stuff is good!
Yeah- that’s great.
As I pack up- give stuff away- sell stuff- I regret having to leave my library of books behind.
I’ll take a few- but not all.
So- I re-read a couple of favorites.
I read one on Hoboes- I got it years ago and it talked about the depression era guys who rode the rails- I liked it.
I’m also re-reading the Dylan book- yeah Bob Dylan’s biography- it came out about 8 years ago.
It’s called Chronicles.
I really liked it because Dylan talks about his experience of moving to the Big Apple and starting over.
He gives a quote from his grandma- I’ll shorten it some;
‘Happiness isn’t on the road to anything- happiness is the road. Be kind to everyone- because every one you meet is fighting some sort of battle.’
Wow- such great insights- from Dylan’s Granma!
Had another good day of giving my stuff away.
I have been decorating the city for Pete’s sake!
Yeah- each day I put some of my valuables in the car- and I leave some at the halfway house [yesterday my favorite statue of st. Francis- a bird bath I had in my yard- went to the front stoop of the halfway house].
Some I give to the guys- John David got about 300 dollars worth yesterday [my favorite oil painting- that depicts both of our ministries- and a classic Clarinet- a few other things].
And yeah- when I head to that side of town I drive down some old industrial streets- Agnes- Laredo.
And for years whenever I drove these streets they reminded me of home- N.J.
So- I thought ‘what the heck- let me just place a few of these things in some spots- and see if they last’.
Sure enough- they are still there!
Stuff like a wooden cross I used to set out years ago when we would do some type of park outreach.
That’s now right off of Agnes- kinda by one of those old re-sale shops- in the front.
So you could mistake it for some type of business decoration- heck- I don’t care- I just like seeing it when I drive by.
Okay- these last few months I have also had- believe it or not- a ministry to some girls who are addicts- re-covering addicts.
Look- because of my past temptations- I avoid doing ‘outreach’ to any of the girls on the streets.
But- my friend David has had a couple of different girl friends these past few months and when I go to the halfway house- on the way out I usually stop by his place.
He lives a few blocks from the halfway house- I live on the other side of town.
He sleeps till about 10 am.
I’m up at 3 am- so our time tables don’t match too well.
Anyway- if I’m at the halfway house at 7- and I’m heading out by 8- he’s sleeping.
I might go by- drop off one of my free gifts- and head out.
But- if one of his new girlfriends is up- sitting out in the yard- I’ll hang out for a while and talk.
So over the weeks I have become good friends with Jackie- a drug addict who has had her ups and downs.
Jackie has liked it when I talk with her and she has questions and stuff about God- I have simply taught her stuff and prayed for her a bunch of times- we are good friends.
And at times she has been doing so well- helping us- a lot- with the ministry.
But every so often David would say ‘she went back out- she stole all my stuff- I’m thru with her’.
And yeah- that’s what would happen.
Then a week later I would show up- and there back together- like nothing happened!
So the last break up was about 2 weeks ago and David already has a new girl- Laura.
Yeah- I have already spent at least 8 hours talking to Laura- in 2 or 3 visits!
She’s really into new Age stuff- crystals- the whole thing.
Now- she’s real smart- physics- metaphysics- lots of stuff.
And I know all types of stuff like that- so I try to give her the Christian view of all the things she’s involved with.
Yesterday I laid hands on her- prayed for her- that the ‘gates’ she has opened- that are not good [she has all types of spirit guides- yikes!] would close- and the ‘good gates’ [Holy Spirit] would be open.
She does appreciate my teaching- and she likes all the history that I mix in [I did the whole overview of Greek thought- before Christ. And I taught her the development of Gnosticism- and how it arose. This is the history of her belief system- which I dont think she was aware of].
So you could see- I was made to order for her- so to speak.
The funny thing is David- he gets anxiety if I go ‘too deep’ in my talks with him.
I mean I might be talking about theology- not wacky stuff- and it gets him nervous.
So as I began talking to Laura- well- lets say she can get ‘deeper’ than me- and go on much longer than me about all sorts of Portals and stuff.
I asked her ‘does David get into these discussions like me’?
She kinda hinted- no [I figured this out already to be honest].
So it was kinda funny- you know- he rejected my long winded theology- and now he has to deal with all these spirit guides!
As I was sitting there- talking to Laura- Jackie walked by in the alley- hoping no one would see her.
This area is a drug infested spot- and she was probably looking for stuff.
I saw her out of the corner of my eye and stopped her- just to see how she was.
As I talked with her- I almost started to cry.
I have never seen her this bad- she is so strung out- scared- telling me how David hates her.
Just a few weeks ago she was doing so well- going to the prayer meetings at 6 am- so happy.
Now she looked like a scared kid- shaking- dirty- in fear.
I gave her a hug- I prayed for her- I looked into her eyes- so dark.
‘Jackie- I want you to get better- I feel so bad for you’.
She was off- I went back to the table- an outside area where we sit at times- and finished talking with Laura.
In a strange way- God allowed me to have some friends- some girl ‘friends’- girls that I would not normally work with.
Not because I’m too good- no- because I know I cant be getting attached emotionally to the girls like I do with the brothers.
So- I have always avoided having one on one outreach with them.
But this little scenario of David sleeping late- me getting up early- yeah- as silly as it is- has been an open door to try and help these girls.
I’m glad it happened.
IF I HAD THE WINGS OF AN EAGLE I WOULD FLY AWAY AND BE AT REST
Today we begin Holy Week.
I write this day on Palm Sunday.
I have been reading the Dylan book I mentioned the other day.
I forgot how much I liked the thing.
It was published in 2004- and I see all the notes I made in it at the time- when I read it while working at the fire house.
For those who have never read it- or are not a big Dylan fan [to be honest- I really don’t like his music that much either].
Yet the book is great- it received critical acclaim at the time- that’s why I picked it up.
I’m at the part in the book where Dylan talks about this feeling of being under siege- all the time.
He speaks about not wanting this delusional mantle of being the so called ‘voice of this generation’.
It’s a real eye opener- he comes across as a normal guy- who really did not care about all the stuff people were ‘reading’ into his songs.
Sort of like people developed their own image of him- one that was fake- and no matter how hard he tried he could not shake the thing.
He talks about going to the Wailing Wall [Jerusalem] and putting on a skull cap- just so the media would give him some bad press.
Other stuff like that.
He talks about moving from one place to another- in a desperate search to escape the crowd- and he fears for his family as well.
I mean the guy is living under siege- he can’t get out!
One time he gets an invite to Princeton [the university right where I’m moving to- as soon as I can get out of Texas].
They offer him an honorary degree- he decided to go and take it- so the media and his crazed fans would maybe view him as sort of a sell out.
As he stands to get the thing [he was round 30 years old at the time].
The guy who introduces him goes into the very thing Dylan’s trying to escape.
He says ‘and here is the voice of our time…’
Dylan says on the inside he was fuming- but he simply went with it.
For Dylan fans- this book is a big eye opener.
The man talks about simply wanting his normal family life back- he can’t change the attention he now gets.
He goes to all the lengths he can think of- there s simply no way out.
I’ll give you a quote form page 61;
‘Sometimes you know things have to change- are going to change- but you can only feel it…. Little things foreshadow what’s coming..But then something immediate happens and you’re in another world. You jump into the unknown- your set free…it seems like when it happens- it happens fast- like magic. But it’s really not- it’s more deliberate- like your working in the light of day and you see one day it’s getting dark too early- then it doesn’t matter where you are- it wont do any good.’
As you read his experiences- you see a sort of intellectual.
At one point he says he can’t really be a creative song writer any more.
That in order to be creative- you need the freedom to be able to observe things- you need a degree of anonymity.
But when you are constantly being observed- watched- followed- there seems to be no way out- you can’t do the very thing you were created for.
As you read- you begin to feel bad for the guy- and you see this person- desperate to go back to some type of normal life- and he cant seem to find any way out.
Sad- so sad.
FATHER FORGIVE THEM- THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY DO
Today is 3-26-13- we are in the middle of Holy Week.
The reading from the Mass this week was from Luke 23.
It suprised me how much manipulation of the system took place around the Crucifixion of Jesus.
I mean I read it before- many times- but because of my present circumstances I see more [I do not equate myself at all with the real wrong that occurred at Christ’s trial- it’s just because of my situation I see more right now].
As the people accuse Christ- he just realizes there’s really nothing he can do about it.
I have had people- people I never met- just friends I made on Face Book over the years.
I would log on and get cursed out in a message- bad.
Then of course they block you- so they leave the accusation- from what they read on-line- and go.
Or people seeing you on the street- actually following you- or yelling at you.
I mean I do live among the ‘least of these’ and have been in dangerous spots- lots.
But you realize you really can’t defend yourself- not even to relatives who read the stuff on line and give you dirty looks at family events.
I mean you don’t realize how bad it gets- until you’re in the middle of the thing.
And if you start going down the road of ‘no- wait- this is what happened’- forget it- it makes you feel worse.
So- in Christ’s trial and crucifixion he just commits it all to God.
It’s like they want him to defend himself ‘don’t you know I have the power to kill you’?
‘You have no power- only what God gives’.
Yeah- Jesus knew the score.
The last week or so I have run into a few friends/street people who have had problems with the mind.
Over the years I have had a small percentage of homeless friends who have suffered from this.
Lots of the homeless do get disability from what we call MHMR [mental health thing in Texas].
But a lot of it is a scam- they go for a check-up- and get the check.
Some refer to it as ‘did you get your nut check yet’.
Yeah- a scam for many- but not all.
I had a funny feeling the other day.
As I’m reading thru the Dylan book- I can see what a genius he was.
But I can tell that he did not realize- in every event- that he was losing it.
His skills [which he admits] but also his hold on reality [which I don’t think he realizes- even now].
He talks bout touring with Tom Petty- or another popular group- and how he realizes that the crowds are showing up for them- not him.
I too remember seeing a performance or 2- on TV- about this time.
Dylan did look- sound bad.
But he says he found little break throughs- certain techniques- that made it work.
As you read what he thinks was a breakthrough- and you can tell he knows his stuff- yet you realize that he’s saying at the start of a song- he was lost- and in the middle he ‘found himself’.
Your thinking- geez- I’m sure the crowd has no idea he really is this gone.
Then it hit me- am I nuts too?
Yes- I realize as you get sober- I’m sober now for 3 months- and after 25 years of constant drinking- you do indeed go thru withdrawals.
So- people have kinda hinted that I’m a little nuts- but in a nice way.
And it rattles me some- I see them looking at me- like I too have looked at some of my friends who are a little on the edge [or your good buddy texts you ‘are you ok’?]
[Note- remember the movie Charley? I was gonna watch it last night but couldn’t find it].
And that’s what I saw in the Dylan book- he did not know he was losing it.
After one performance he says he wanted to go on tour- solo- right away.
But his promoter wanted him to take 2 years off.
Dylan explains how no- he was ready- he had this ‘new technique’ that he stumbled on.
As you read- you see what a genius he is- but you can read between the lines- and yeah- his promoter was being nice.
Like he- and I’m sure the other groups he was touring with- sort of behind the scenes realized that the guy was losing it.
Yeah- it’s sad to begin identifying with this- to see your friends/family kind of dropping hints.
As I read the Crucifixion- you know at one time in the gospels it says his family thought he was losing his mind?
It’s in there- go look it up.
In the end- Jesus realized that it was a bigger hand at work in all this.
He commits the whole thing to God.
The people are really accusing him- cursing at him- they stirred up the courts and law to get him.
I mean he’s fighting a losing battle.
He says ‘father- forgive them- they don’t know what they are doing’.
As I read this statement this week- I saw a new angle on it.
It’s not like he was saying ‘they just don’t realize it’.
He was saying ‘this whole thing needed to happen- for the benefit of others- for me to do Gods will- the whole thing had to happen- even the false accusations’.
Yeah- he saw the accusers- the law- those who were manipulated to do this- he saw the whole thing as Gods will.
Yeah- Gods will was indeed done.
Today I begin the 2nd quarterly journal of 2013.
When I did the first- I had no idea that this might be a new format from now on.
As of today- I’m not dead set on it- but I think the format is beneficial.
Okay- I went to Easter service yesterday- I visited a Catholic church in the area that I never went to before [I attend both Catholic and Protestant churches on and off- but I have been making the Mass pretty regularly the last few weeks].
I also watched a few of the services from Rome- being its Holy Week.
It would be too much to try and cover each chapter that was referenced- but maybe I can hit a few high points.
About a month ago I read Zechariah chapter 12.
It’s what we call a Messianic prophecy- which speaks of Christ.
A famous line ‘they shall look upon him whom they have pierced’.
The apostle Paul alludes to this in his letter to the Romans- chapters 11-12.
He speaks about the Jewish nation- and how at the return of Christ they will mourn for Jesus- they will recognize that he was the Messiah they were waiting for.
Now- as I also read the book of Luke this past month- I focused in on the Passion chapters during Holy Week.
Out of the 4 gospels the church has- 3 are fairly similar- but the gospel of John stands alone.
The majority of John’s gospel focuses in on the last week of Christ’s earthly life- the others cover a broader time period.
In the crucifixion accounts we see Jesus realizing that what’s happening is the fore ordained hand of God.
It’s sort of like he’s ‘in charge’ [well- he is!] but in a way that even confounds the authorities.
Pilate says ‘don’t you know I have the power to take your life’?
Jesus ‘you have no power- except what God gave you’.
You see this ‘in between the lines’ sense of Jesus saying ‘do what you have to do- lets get this thing over with’.
He knew it had to happen.
In one of the Masses from Rome- the English interpreter used a word I though was strange.
I’m not sure if she was using the right word- even though it ‘fit’.
The new Pope- Francis- was speaking Latin.
And the interpreter was saying ‘immolation’.
Talking about Christ’s passion.
Now- the word immolation means burning- if you remember my political posts of a couple years back.
When I covered the Arab Spring- the first nation to rebel was Tunisia.
In the streets of Tunis a merchant ‘self immolated’- burned himself to death- as a sign of protest against oppressive govt.
This sparked the Arab Spring.
So- how cold this fit in with the Passion of Christ?
In the Old Testament we have a system of sacrifices- animals being sacrificed- as a sign of the future sacrifice of Christ.
One of the notable ones is the Burnt Offering.
Jesus- according to the book of Hebrews- fulfilled the sacrificial system by his death on the Cross.
During his earthly ministry he spoke about fire- baptism.
He says to the disciples one time ‘can you be baptized with my baptism’?
They answer yes.
Jesus says they will indeed be baptized with it- but not in the way they think.
He was talking about the ‘baptism of fire’.
The suffering they would have to face in the coming days.
He in essence was saying ‘you too must pass thru the fire- like me’.
Jesus said at one time ‘I have come to set fire on the earth- and how I wish it were already started’.
Self immolation- what’s your point.
Jesus was talking about himself- he was going to be the ‘brunt offering’ the ‘self immolation’ that would spark the ‘Kingdom spring’- see?
In Zechariah 12 it speaks about those who fight- war against Jerusalem- Gods people.
One of the images is those who set themselves against it will get burned.
That the governors of Judah [the elders]- they are like ‘sheaf’s of fire’ In the midst of the wood- all who lay hold of it get burned.
Yes- Jesus was the ultimate sheaf- they lit he torch- so to speak- at Calvary.
They did not realize what they were doing.
They started a fire that they could not put out.
2009- ALL THINGS?
Today is really my first day back- real time [I’m posting this right after I write it].
I have been journaling for the past 3 months- but that’s a little different.
Okay- out of all the news events- Boston marathon bombing- Ricin letters [by the way- last I saw they seem to have arrested the wrong guy].
Out of these events- a smaller one stands out in my mind.
The handling of the debt crisis in Cyprus.
A few weeks back Cyprus- one of the very small states that’s involved with the E.U. debt crisis- did a surprising move and simply confiscated the money of private citizens from the banks and used that to pay off debt.
Now- they took what was over and above there form of FDIC insurance for the depositors.
In essence- they looted the accounts of their customers.
Now- this simply shows us how bad the EU debt crisis is- and that things have not actually improved- but gotten worse.
So- how has the global market reacted?
This is what’s funny [or sad?] it seems as if some are in denial- while others are simply hedging their bets.
There is a huge amount of money in the system [what we look at when the dow goes up- or down] that simply is looking at the numbers- sort of like a bookie would look at the odds on a game.
Some of this money is simply there because- for various reasons- they think more money might be coming into the system.
That is some investors are not investing because they think the global market is sound- some invest because they think the situation is so bad that it merits a bailout.
I read an article on Egypt- how Morsi [the president] believes that the western nations will bail him out- give him loans that are above what they should get- and he believes this because he thinks they are ‘too big to fail’.
That is- he is expecting the loan not because they are stable- Egypt used to have a good economy- but since the ‘revolution’ it has been a real mess.
So- as a direct result of their Arab Spring- they need much more cash than before.
And Morsi thinks they will get it- even though- economically they probably don’t deserve it [not to mention some real ideological problems with the new leadership- like very anti Semitic statements that the leader holds to].
So- overall- we are in April of 2013- and the European debt crisis is not over- but probably getting worse.
These last few months I have been reading more of the gospels- and have cut down on the news a lot.
I still read the headlines- and catch a few news shows- but not nearly as much as before.
I was what you would consider a news addict- for real.
So- I have focused more on the gospels and less on world events [though they are still very much a part of what we are called to impact as the church].
As I finished the gospel of Luke the other week- I noticed a verse that I have read many times before.
But it hit me in a new way.
It says ‘all things that were written had to be fulfilled- in the Law and the Psalms and the Prophets’.
It’s talking about all the Messianic portions of the Old testament- the bible passages that speak about Christ.
Then of course he enters into the final stages of his earthly life- and is Crucified.
Over the years- as a bible reader- I noticed how lots of us tend to gravitate towards the ‘flashier’ parts of the bible.
I have many Psalms and Prophets that I quote from- there are portions of Isaiah [what would be called ‘the prophets’] that I have memorized for years.
I am reading thru the Psalms right now- they are great stuff.
But when I read the above verse- which was said by Christ himself- he said ‘ALL THINGS’ had to be fulfilled- not just the ‘flashy’ portions of scripture [Psalms- Prophets].
But the hard stuff too- Law.
Then at the crucifixion scene- he’s on this Cross- this place of public humiliation- and the people watching are sort of in shock.
He has become what the scripture said ‘a stone that the builders rejected’.
His friends have gone- his poor mom is seeing all this play out- and the others are there- almost to see what else could go wrong with him.
Then- in the middle of it all- don’t forget his family earlier thought he was ‘beside himself’ he looks up to God- and he makes a few statements.
He asks ‘why did you leave me’.
He says ‘father- forgive the ones who hate me- and want me gone- they don’t know what they do’.
Then- as the Roman gaurd looks on- he says ‘into your hands I commit my Spirit’.
And in Old King James language- he ‘gave up the ghost’- that is- he died.
As I read this account recently- and the statement from Christ about all things being fulfilled.
I saw what Jesus was saying ‘look- I have been with you for 3 years- doing ministry- teaching you stuff- how to forgive- don’t hold grudges- carry your Cross every day’.
Then- HE DID IT- he showed them how to ‘die well’.
Yeah- all things had to be fulfilled- all things had to be modeled.
He had to demonstrate- in real time- what he taught them.
Oh- now I get it- I really do.
FREE AMONG THE DEAD
The other day I was taking one of my ‘midnight’ walks across the bridge.
These past few months I started a new thing- I walk for miles on end!
Yeah- it started as a spur of the moment thing- just put the CD player on- listened to some favorite classic rock- and made the walk.
It has since become somewhat of an obsession.
For you locals- I have walked to Ayers and back- from the bluff.
Walked to the city hall area of town.
And I walk across the Oso bridge early in the morning- while it’s dark.
It feels great.
Sometimes I’ll run into another ‘wanderer’ and of course when your on the bridge- mano e mano- sometimes the other walker gets a little nervous.
I’m carrying my old Navy sea bag at times- and do indeed pass for a real homeless guy!
Yesterday- or the day before- my path met with a real illegal immigrant.
Yea- lots of the guys from Mexico- well they are what most of us think when talking aliens.
But no- this brother was from South/Central America- you could tell.
And they do from time to time come thru the area.
So- it was about 5 am- dark- on top of the bridge.
He looked a little suspicious to be honest.
Gave me the quick ‘heah’ look.
And you know me- I have to get in the mix.
So I stop him for a second- he looks a little worried- I tell him ‘hey bro- you need a few bucks’.
Yeah- I saw it as a chance to help the guy.
He shook his head and couldn’t wait to go.
Oh well- your loss.
So yeah- it’s been fun- a little different.
One day when I was coming over the bridge I saw Guitar Jason.
I’ve known him for years- anyone from the area- he’s the guy who plays his guitar on the streets- he’s been at it for 25 years now.
He spots me ‘hey preacher John’- so I spent a little time with him by the bay- where he has a camp.
He asked me to pray the Our Father with him- sure.
Then he must see I’ve lost a lot of weight- and he offers me a few dollars.
I told him ‘no thanks Bro’.
All my buddies know the scoop- that there old friend has run into some hard times- and to be honest- they feel bad for me.
It’s kinda funny to be honest.
Jason insisted- as I walked away he gave me 2 bucks [he’s homeless!] and told me to get a beer.
I took the dough- but never bought the beer.
Then the next day or so- I run into Old Tim on the walk- He needed 2 bucks- I gave him the money Jason gave me.
Yeah- I told him where it came from- he thought that was so cool.
That’s life on the streets- to be honest- I’m very comfortable with the street bro’s- they are like family.
I told Tim I’ve been walking the bridge- late at night- some think it dangerous- geez- if some one wanted to ‘get me’- all you have to do is swerve the car for heavens sake!
But Tim said ‘well John- no one will mess with you- your one of us’.
Ahh- got the best compliment of the year.
A few weeks back I read a verse that caught my eye- psalms 88.
It says ‘FREE AMONG THE DEAD’.
I was also reading Luke’s gospel.
And Jesus is talking about the resurrection form the dead.
He says ‘those who are accounted worthy of that world [age] neither marry nor are given in marriage- but are as the angels’.
He also says ‘they die no more’.
Now- I don’t want to over spiritualize this passage.
But the word AGE can refer to this new age- this new covenant era that we are in now.
So- if you apply it that way- Jesus is saying ‘those of you who have died- you die no more’.
Who has died?
In baptism we die to our old life- we live a life now where we carry the Cross.
Many of us have had ‘death experiences’ we no longer live for the praise of men.
I also recently read where Jesus said ‘you seek the approval of men- you can not please God’.
So- to sum it up- we- those who have died to the life of creating an image- of trying to impress people- we die no more.
Why- because we have now learned that if people want to accept us- then we have become an open book- they have seen us- both the good and the bad.
There is no more hiding- w have died once- we are now FREE AMONG THE DEAD.