LEADERSHIP [most recent]
1972 MY JOURNAL FOR 2O13 [also called- how to stop addictive behavior- for good!]
Today is February 2nd– 2013.
The reason you have not heard from me in a year [if I stay on what I feel is God’s schedule].
Is because when leaders have moral failures it is their responsibility to ‘retreat’ and have a time of real- honest- evaluation.
So- being I’m an independent blogger- with no real oversight [I do attend a fine church and have brothers who I am very accountable to].
I asked the Lord how long I should ‘go away’.
I knew I would at least take a few months off.
But then I re-read an old book I had on addictions- and the author [Christian based approach] suggested a minimum of 1 year.
I took that as a word from God- and as of today- I think that’s the way I will go.
So why am I writing on Feb 2nd– 2013?
As I continue to pray- and seek God- I felt the Lord released me to ‘journal’ in a way.
So- however many posts make up this journal- I hope they benefit all my friends.
I do pray for every one of my ‘on-line’ community.
All the blog readers and Face Book friends.
If I never mentioned this- I believe that reconnecting to my old friends from New Jersey was a major ‘accomplishment’- that is- I always wanted to be able to share my story- the ups and downs- for the benefit of my North Bergen friends.
I really love you guys- no joke.
Okay- what happened?
I don’t want to go into all the embarrassing details- but it was another case [yes- I had a DWI a few years ago] where drinking and sin went hand in hand.
I really did not [or do] remember all the details [no joke].
I did- for real- have a blackout out of sorts [not the first time- when I drink beer and hard liquor [crown] I usually have blackouts].
But- when you have them [at least me] when you wake up your not sure if you had a bad dream.
At least that’s how it works for me.
When I was first confronted with the act- I did not say ‘O no- you got the wrong person’ [denial]
But ‘you gotta be kidding me- this is terrible’.
I went home- told my wife- and from the start did not try and lie [that’s the truth].
You might think ‘that’s not the way people respond John- are you holier than us!’
No- but that’s what happened.
Okay- there were some things that were in question- whether the whole allegation was true- but because most of it was- I tried hard to not defend one part- while knowing some was true.
I just chalked it up to my decision to drink and drive- again.
Okay- how long have I been an alcoholic?
I guess around 25 years.
I have drank- pretty heavily- for those years.
Now- today is my ‘31st’ birthday [as AA says].
I only had 2 periods of non drinking in all those years [at the meetings I hear many stories of people who have had lots of 30-60-90 day chips- periods of time when they went sober and reduced the damage to the brain- I never had those periods].
About 6 months ago I tried to stop- I went about 21 days [an important number! I felt during this time- that something was happening at 21 days- not 28 or 30. I made a note that in the bible- Daniel prayed for breakthrough- and the angel Gabriel could not ‘break thru’ with the answer for 21 days. As I have read up on addictions- some say the main breakthrough happens when you abstain from an addictive behavior- for 21 days].
Also about 10-15 years ago I had a whole year of sobriety.
I just went ‘dry’ on my own with God’s help.
Okay- it’s too early for me to critique the 12 step/group movement.
I have attended 3 different AA groups in my area- been to around 20 meetings.
One is sort of a high class group.
Professionals and others who are seeking sobriety.
I also went to what my friend Bret calls ‘low brow’.
This group is sort of the Skid Row group in town.
To be honest- I liked them the best.
Then I went to the Anchor group- not far from my house [by the Navy Base- Anchor- get it?]
There sort of in between.
Why am I sober now?
As a reader- of lots of stuff- I of course noticed the Big Book [the basic text of AA- which is actually a small book- so when my friend who gave me one kept asking ‘have you read the Big Book yet’?- I told him ‘I don’t think so’ but I’m reading the little one you gave me] is a very well meaning book- but a little dated.
I told my friend John David- who I started the halfway housed with- o yea- you might think ‘how could you start a halfway house when you too were an alcoholic’- because David asked!
I told him that it would benefit all of us if we tried to read some more updated material on addictions- not just the Big Book.
So- I went to half price books and picked up a couple of more non AA books- that deal with addictions.
I also went on-line- which it seems many of my AA friends [especially from the ‘low brow’ meeting] don’t have the ability to do.
I began seeing that many of the AA meetings would benefit tremendously if they expanded their reading to more than the basic text [I’m sure some do- but I have some AA friends that seem to not like this idea].
What’s wrong with the Big Book John?
It’s just one part of restoration- and the meetings [from what I see] do have a danger of not cultivating a holistic approach to sobriety.
For instance- my friend David- who was a drug/alcohol addict for many years- he swears by AA.
To the point where some Christians- and preachers- won’t have much to do with him.
I was never like this- from day 1.
I told David I like the accountability of the group [if you fail- then you have to face your brothers and sisters- they ask you!]
That’s good- that’s biblical.
But there is also the danger of defining your life by what you don’t do.
Let me explain.
Many in the low brow group- though well meaning- seem to be in danger [as we all are] of simply seeing life as a person who does not drink.
Though that’s a noble goal- that can be achieved by Gods grace- yet you need to move on to seeing more than that as a goal.
I know the AA does teach this also- I’m just trying to give you an honest account of my journey- of what I have seen in the meetings- that’s all.
Okay- I have already read 2 books on addiction [besides the Big Book- I’m at page 350 or so] and just started my 3rd one.
The one I wanted to read was the Alcoholism and Addiction cure by Christ Prentiss.
I have seen that one advertised the most over the years- on the tube- and wanted to see his approach.
I try hard not to be judgmental- but from the beginning of the book I could tell Chris believes strongly in Eastern religions [which is OK- I have friends who also embrace this].
But- as a Christian- you will be a little leery when you see that in a book that gives advice about addictions.
I finished the book in a few of days and did like it.
I noticed a lot of the books do have problem with AA.
Some are based on NOT BEING AA.
Some see the entire 12 step movement as cultic- and an actual contributor to relapse [I will try and get to this down the road- this is a real concern that I had felt- even before reading any of the critics].
So- some of the other approaches do not like AA because they do not like Christian based ideas of sin and a ‘higher power’.
Yes- some critics don’t like God- at least not in the way historic Christianity defines him.
Others [I’m a few chapters in to a book about the AVRT method- or Rational Recovery].
This book simply teaches a technique to recognize the voice of ‘the beast’ [their words- not mine] in you.
And then teaches you to reject that voice- for the other voice- the ‘real you’.
In many ways- this can be seen as the biblical idea of rejecting the voice of the old sinful nature [the beast] and hearing the voice of God- or listening to the ‘angel on your shoulder’ as opposed to the devil.
So- all in all- I find that the other approaches- who all preach total abstinence by the way- have good points- just like AA.
One of the most helpful things I learned [or re-learned] was why 28 days [or in some case- 21] is so important in recovery.
A brief synopsis from all the above stuff- and on-line reading- goes like this;
The brain of the alcoholic [or other addictions- sex addicts- drugs- etc.]
Has become dependent on the addiction- the brain has actually been ‘re-wired’ to function off of the addiction.
It usually takes about 30 days [yes- many sources say this- this is important for you to see!]
To ‘re-wire’ the brain back to the old state- at least in some way.
The brain actually does not repair the old parts that have been ‘addicted’.
I thought this was the way it worked for years- that if you quit the addiction [yes- HEAR ME- many sources say- teach- and have a track record of going clean- without the ongoing groups- that is without an unhealthy dependence on other sources- be they well meaning sponsors- or groups- etc.- while these things do work for some- when they are held up as a must to stay clean- then you need to have grace with people- I told David that there are many- many stories of people who have ‘gone clean’ and stayed clean- without all the things that the 12 step programs teach. If you benefit from all the steps- good. But there is a danger in making everyone think that they will never be clean without all the steps- all the time].
So- what happens in the brain- during that 28- 30 day period- is the other side of the brain will actually create new pathways [Nuero Pathways] and will REPLACE the old addictive patterns.
Sort of like what happens in people with brain damage- the part of the brain that’s not damaged will ‘make up’ for the damaged part.
Now- as a Christian- this fits into the biblical idea.
We are told to renew our minds.
To mediate on the things of God.
‘Commit thy works unto the Lord and THY THOUGHTS will be established’ [re-wired].
But- for my readers who are not Christian [who I appreciate very much- Muslims- Jews- eastern religions- etc.]
This works for you too!
Yes- there is much evidence that ALL OF OUR BRAINS can get this re-wiring- if we simply abstain from any habit/addiction- for around 30 days.
Now- you might be thinking ‘John- you’re in dangerous territory- the Big Book says….’
Yes- I know.
I’m just trying to give you an honest account of what I’m learning- and what many others have said- and done.
So- there is hope- for all of us.
Of course- even the ones who advocate a non religious approach- will say- the first 30 days IS HARD!!
Yes- when the brain goes thru that re- wring process- its hell.
That’s what we call withdrawal.
You experience that fight or flight syndrome.
You overreact to stuff- you get mad.
This happens in all the above scenarios- the AA approach- the non AA folk- all of them say this.
This is part of healing- that re-wiring of the brain.
Okay- as you can see- for the first post of the 2013 ‘journal’ I have gone long.
My purpose in these types of posts for this year is to help you guys- as I too get help.
I don’t have a sponsor [nor do I feel like I will get one].
I had to tone down my attendance at the meetings- some actually made me feel LIKE DRINKING- YIKES!]
All in all- I will continue on this journey- I am now accountable to you guys- so- if I mess up- you will know for sure.
And- when I return to the blog- and Facebook- I will of course pick up where I left off.
I will continue- by God’s grace- to write.
I did have some really interesting stories about the Halfway House- the friends who we met- and the whole thing.
As of now- I [we- me and David are the founders] don’t know if it will continue.
To be honest- I did not think any of us were ready to launch it when we did.
But my buddy David- such a good friend- I love him like brother.
He looked so desperate when he asked me to join him.
Geez- the guy just had open heart surgery- was diagnosed with PTSD- for real- because of the surgery.
And he was a street guy- a hard drug addict- a murderer- who found grace.
How could I tell him no?
So we launched the thing- I told David [a few times already!] that I feel as a teacher- blogger [he refers to me as a preacher- I hate that! He means well though].
That I need to be responsible and ‘self discipline’ myself because of my moral failure.
Most times when ‘preachers’ fall- they reject any and all discipline- even if they do have oversight.
Being I really don’t have another ministry over us- I felt I needed to ‘man up’ and pull myself back for a while.
As I began the year- I thought for sure one month- then I felt the Lord wanted one year.
So- as of now- that’s the course.
I don’t want to write more than a few of these a month- or else when I post the whole thing- it will be too much.
So- whenever you guys read this- I’m still alive- I love you all and have never stopped praying for you.
If I have time- I’ll share more about some of the friends I have made along the way.
I liked Bret- he had an interesting story- I wanted to tell it.
We both had the same ‘clean time’.
Bret ‘went out’ the other day- he went back to drinking- I felt bad.
So- as I learn the lingo- try and be open and honest- I hope this whole experience helps you.
That’s all for now- God bless.
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.
1971 John Wayne Gacy or Manson?
Believe it or not- I have stories about both of these villains!
Okay- today we’ll do Manson.
The other day we brought a new guy into the halfway house.
When I first saw Bret he was bad- I never saw someone with withdrawals so bad.
We talked for about an hour- he told me some of his story and I told him I’ll post about it.
Bret is my age- 50- he has hitched all over the country and has been to the local AA meetings on and off.
The other day David saw him at one of the meetings and saw how bad he was doing.
He volunteered to go thru the halfway house.
As I talked with him I told him a story from the bible- I have found this one example to be helpful with a few other people who have tried the 12 step programs before.
There seems to be a real sense of hopelessness when the guys [or girls] mess up- especially after being clean for a while.
So- the story is in the gospel of John.
Jesus is with his men at the meal- and he begins to wash their feet- an act of true leadership- being a servant.
When he gets to Peter- Peter says ‘no Lord- I am not worthy for you to do this’.
Jesus says ‘if I wash you not- then you have no part with me’.
Then Peter says ‘okay- then give me a complete bath’.
Jesus says ‘he that is already washed- does not need another whole bath- but just a foot washing- and then he is clean just like before’.
I used this with a couple of people already- right after they fell off ‘the wagon’.
And I told them that Jesus was saying don’t lose all hope- don’t feel like all the ‘clean time’ served no purpose.
He that is washed [had a period of cleansing] does not need to start from scratch- in the sense that he needs another ‘whole bath experience’.
No- he or she simply needs to get a foot washing.
So- I found this helpful in a couple of cases.
Yes- the goal is total sobriety- whether from drugs or alcohol.
The apostle John said ‘these things write I unto you that you sin not- but- if any man sin- we have an advocate with the Father- Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the sacrifice for our sins- and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.’
Okay- let’s get to Manson.
As I talked with Bret- I told him that God has a purpose- even for those who seemed hopeless by the worlds standard.
I told him I started praying for people on death row- because even in those cases God can still do something for his glory.
He agreed and told me when he was in prison in California he was locked up with a couple of the guys from the Manson gang.
One of the guys- Davis- gave him a bible and became a real Christian while in prison.
Bret told me that Davis’ witness to him got him into the bible for the first time.
So yeah- even a Manson disciple has hope.
Jesus will even wash their feet.
NOTE- We visited Bret in the hospital yesterday- he was so bad the Detox clinic could not admit him.
When the ambulance picked him up- we found out later that he almost died that day.
He will be in the hospital for a few days- going thru Detox- then he will move to the halfway house.
You know me with the pictures- I’m sure I’ll be posting pics of Bret soon [on Facebook].
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.
1959 SOME OF YOU WILL BE PUT TO DEATH
Much to say- little space.
Before I forget- the chapter for the week was [is] Luke 21.
Okay- the last few days I have seen an interesting thing- this is how you know what’s really going on.
You listen carefully to those who support the view that they are speaking about.
Example- Gloria Borger is a news reporter from CNN.
I have seen her lots of times- she’s fairly good- and she is a supporter of the president.
The other night she gave a short report about the current fiscal crisis [called the Fiscal Cliff].
She said that Obama and the Dems are feeling justified after the election- and they seem more willing to not negotiate- for real- and to let the blame fall on the Repubs.
Now- as she talked- you could tell there was a sort of concern in her voice- like those who have supported the president might be worried that he might take the country over the cliff needlessly [remember- she was giving a sort of behind the scenes view of other Democrats- that they seem to think Obama is the one that might take the country over the cliff- even though he is saying it’s the Repubs- his own supporters kind of think he’s lying about the thing- get it?]
She [as well as a bunch of others] have now come out and said that the thing that’s holding up a deal is the Repubs insistence on Medicare ‘means testing’.
Right now the 2 sides [Obama and the Repub congress] are stuck because Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich- and the Repubs want to means test entitlements [Medicare].
Okay- Obama himself was for means testing- just last year he gave a speech claiming we could raise 1.2 trillion by doing this [it’s s simple adjustment to Medicare that makes the rich pay more].
So- those news papers and media outlets who have been behind the president 100% are now saying that he needs to agree to it.
Why are they all out in force like this?
They realize that he was [might still] purposefully blow a deal- because the blame will go to the Repubs.
But isn’t that petty- isn’t that wrong- isn’t that dangerous?
Sure- but that’s the honest read of this- that’s the only reason why you would have a bunch of more liberal leaning news media all come out at this time and try to force Obama’s hand.
When Boehner came out and said the deal the president offered was a joke- most insiders agreed- he was going to go over the cliff- no doubt about it.
Okay- the clincher for me was the infamous MSNBC- yes Ed Shultz had on Emanuel Cleaver [a Dem congressman who kinda looks like Richard Pryor].
Now- out of all the supporters of Obama- you would be hard pressed to exceed Shultz [now- I’m not saying it’s wrong to support the pres- I’m showing you how his supporters in the media have tried to shape the narrative].
Shultz was asking Cleaver about means testing Medicare [remember- this is the exact thing the Repubs want- and Obama’s side does not].
Cleaver gave quite a good view of why WE SHOULD MEANS TEST Medicare.
I thought that was the very thing the Repubs want?
That’s right- now you’re learnin’.
Yeah- Cleaver went on and explained why we should do means testing- he gave the entire Repub talking points- and he was right.
Wow- finally- you mean they might be admitting the need to compromise?
Shultz then said ‘but you will never be able to convince the Repubs to do this- because they will try and protect their rich friends who will pay the most out of means testing’.
And Cleaver agreed.
You see- they both purposefully lied to their watchers.
They both know that what they said was an outright lie- like all the racial accusations of those who had real objections to healthcare reform.
MSNBC spent the last year calling them all ‘under the cover’ racists- playing ‘dog whistle’ politics.
The fact is- the Repubs are the ones demanding means testing- not the Dems.
And they gave you a spin that said the opposite.
They do no service to the country when they do this.
Okay- lets hit a little from Luke 21.
This is an ‘end time’ chapter where Jesus speaks to his men about the end of the age.
Just a few points.
I only cover [read] a couple of chapters a week.
The last year- I don’t think I read a single ‘earthquake’ chapter at all.
I have found the chapters I’m covering to have significance.
Just yesterday [or the day before] Japan was hit with another huge earthquake off its Pacific coast [Luke 21 says at the time of the end- outcome- there will be earthquakes.]
It was the same size of the one that leveled the area a few years back.
Pray for Japan.
Jesus gives us some of the signs that will take place at the time of the end.
I kind of ‘spiritualized’ my reading of the chapter this week- you know- looking for some practical things that are speaking about the here and now.
So- one of the things that spoke to me was what I posted about the other day- the post on ‘the dead ones’ remember?
I talked about praying for inmates on death row.
Okay- this practice became a habit a few years ago- and I felt like the Lord was in it.
While reading Luke 21 Jesus says- at the time of the end [or outcome] of these things- some OF YOU will be put to death.
In a strange way it fit what I sensed the Lord saying- sort of like ‘John- now that you have adopted these dead ones- these on death row- they are ‘some of you’- you have embraced them- this happens at the time of ‘the end’ the time of the outcome of all things.’
Okay- there are a few more things I got from the chapter- but I’m trying to give you a sense of how God can speak to you ‘outside’ of the text.
Now- when you do this- read with a personal idea in mind- you should never make it doctrine.
That is- what I just showed you is fine to do in a devotional kind of way- trying to hear God about personal direction- but that’s not the actual teaching itself.
The actual teaching is about the end times- and also the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in a.d. 70.
I shared this with my friend who I’m doing the halfway house with.
I told him about ‘adopting the dead’.
He told me an interesting story about this.
Now- I have told John David’s story many times over the years- so I won’t do the whole thing again.
But John David killed his best friend in Dallas many years ago.
A very brutal shotgun killing that made the headlines- his brother told me one day that when they picked up the dead body- he had shotgun pellets under his feet.
David kept shooting even after his friend was down.
John David got off for this crime- his mother got the same lawyer who defended Jack Ruby [who killed Lee Harvey Oswald] – and he got David off scot free.
Okay- that’s the story.
David told me the night he was in the Dallas prison- he was with another inmate who also just killed someone.
They were both puking up beer- sick as dogs- and sitting in the same cell- as murderers.
David was walking out of the mission here a few years back- and he randomly saw a news paper article- it was the execution of the Black cellmate that David was with that night[some of you- but not all will be PUT TO DEATH].
David relayed this story to me because I told him about the Lord leading me into the ‘adoption’ of the Death Row Guys.
He felt it fit- I might have even prayed for this guy he was with.
Yeah ‘some of YOU will be put to death’.
Yeah- I got it.
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.
1957 TODAY I HAVE TO GO- DON’T WORRY.
Which way to go?
Yeah- today I have lots of things to write about- but must pick one or 2.
Yesterday I spent the day with David- my buddy who started the halfway house.
I picked up Henry in the morning- he was at a weekly breakfast that a local church sponsors.
I actually posted the pic yesterday- the plate looked like a Denny’s thing!
I don’t eat breakfast or lunch- though I’m regularly at these spots- because that’s where I have met lots of street guys in the past.
Me and Henry stopped at brother Rey’s [pastor of church without walls] and he donated a couple of real nice cots to the halfway house.
At the halfway house we took in a new guy- John.
Yeah- I was with John David- I took John Henry- and we added another John.
That has come up a lot these last few months.
I also posted his pic on Facebook.
Please pray for him- he has liver cancer real bad- has been sober for a while- but he might die while at the house.
Okay- I really did not plan on spending the whole day helping with the halfway house- but once we started- I felt that was the plan for the day.
As we left the halfway house and headed back to David’s little apt. – he wanted to stop at McDonalds- the one close to the area where all this is happening.
As we sat inside- I relayed to David and Henry that the last time I was here was about 8 months ago.
It was the beginning of my involvement in this area of town [downtown Corpus- most of my homeless/street friends live on the south side].
I told the guys that I took a ride one morning- prayed for the Lord to open some doors- and stopped right here.
There were 2 homeless guys sleeping on the bus benches outside.
It was early- about 6:30 in the morning.
I bought a couple of breakfasts and woke the guys up- they were grateful for the meal.
I spent about 4 hours with the guys- hanging out- telling them about the ministry and all.
I never saw them again.
I did go back to look for them- but like many others- they just moved on.
But- thru a series of events- we are now doing the halfway house right in the area- and sitting at the same McDonalds that I bought the breakfasts from.
So yes- God did open some doors- in ways that I did not see in the beginning.
Yesterday as I was reading the paper I came across a sad story.
When I read my papers every morning- I glean from the both current events- which I write about lots.
But I also write the names of severe crime cases- people being sent to prison for life- or upcoming death penalty guys.
I write the date of their execution on my calendar- I pray for them thru out the months [along with lots of others].
And if I remember- I pray for them on the day of execution [I’m not praying for them to get ‘spared’ though that did happen one day- but for them to die ‘well’. If they are indeed guilty- to ask forgiveness from their victim’s families if they have not done this. Or if they have denied the crime- to confess- to go out well- and to ask God for forgiveness].
I started this a few years ago- I felt the Lord leading me into this strange type of prayer group- you know- people who are now dead.
Almost seemed like a waste of time- I mean who ‘collects’ these dead ones?
Anyway- in yesterday’s paper I read about Niko [the San Antonio news].
They had a picture of him sitting on the beach- by a pier.
He is [was] 11 years old.
Niko was an ambitious young kid- smart- and had big plans.
He liked soccer- and wanted to attend Harvard one day.
But Niko was diagnosed with cancer- and died.
The story went on.
His family were visiting him at the hospital once again.
And he said to them ‘Today is the day- today I have to go’.
He died later that day.
As I read Niko’s words- it was so sad.
The end of the story said his last words were ‘don’t worry about me’.
I have Nikos story right here- when I’m done typing I will post it here in my study- along with the names of my ‘prisoners’ who have died.
Yeah- in some way I feel like this little community that I live amongst- homeless buddies- friends in prison- and some who have died.
That they are all part of this group.
I have had many confirmations about this over the years.
I’ll end with just one.
A few years back I did an on-line teaching about the other books that never made it into the bible.
Many years ago I bought some of these- and when you study church history and theology- well- these are an aspect of that type of teaching.
So I commented on them- gave the reasons why we don’t have them in our bibles.
But I also said that when I read some of them- I have found some are actually quite good.
One of my favorites is called the Epistle of Barnabus.
But there are others as well.
Some in the early church actually had a couple of these that were included in some of the early bibles- others were never given a 2nd thought.
By the way- in this field of study- I come down of the conservative side.
That is I don’t hold to the ideas of men like Bart Ehrman- the more liberal scholars.
They seem to give more credence to the books that never made it into the canon- and cast too much doubt on the bible we have today.
Anyway- the few that I do lile- when I re-read them as the years go by- there have been times when God did speak to me.
As my prayer time developed into this inclusion of dead folk [above].
I felt much more awareness of my friends who have died- as being amongst us during prayer.
Now- I don’t ‘pray to them’ but I have a greater sense of praying ‘with them’. I mention their kids and all- because these guys- some- were actually friends of mine- who came to my church meetings I started years ago.
So- I painted a spot on my wall- it was dedicated to this group.
I simply wrote a few things- stuff that reminded me that these were those who have gone on- and are yet ‘here’.
Sort of like my ‘friends in prison’ type of thing.
Prison represents those who have died- and we are not so sure where they are- to be honest.
I’ll explain it in a moment.
So- right after I painted this little altar area- I read in one of the ‘lost books of the bible’ [I think it was in the Revelation of St. Peter?].
It said ‘have you preached to the spirits in prison yet’.
Meaning- have you included those who have died yet- have you yet ‘learned this’ son?
That was the type of sense I got.
As I read the verse- I simply said ‘yes’.
Now- I do know the source is from one of the early books that is not in the bible.
But this reference- even if it is a copy- or a fake- does come from our bibles as well.
It’s in the letter of Peter [I think 1st Peter 3?]
And it’s one those texts that scholars haggle over.
But Peter is speaking about some who died before the days of the world wide flood [Genesis 6].
And he refers to these dead people hearing the gospel- by Christ himself- after he died and rose again.
And they are called ‘the spirits in prison’.
So- that’s the same thing I felt/understood as I began seeing those who have gone on- well- they are still with us in a way.
Yeah- in a few minutes I will post little Niko’s picture up on my wall.
I’ll look at it as time goes by- as I see all my friends- both living and dead- and I will read his words.
‘Today I have to go- don’t worry’.
Yes- Jesus said out of the mouths of babies thou hast perfected praise.
1956 SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES [versus the 2nd amendment?]
Found it interesting to see the politics play out over the sad murder/suicide of the Kansas City chief’s football player.
Both the left and the right were out in force- using their standard lines.
Bob Costas used his coverage of a game- during halftime- to speak about gun control.
That raised the ire of the right- and they were out too- you know- the usual rhetoric.
I guess the most honest view came from Joe Namath.
He was on Piers Morgan [CNN].
Morgan asked him about Costas’ comments.
Joe said even though he was partial to the gun control side- yet he felt Costas shouldn’t have used the game in a political way.
I mentioned I saw the Lincoln movie the other day.
It really was a good history lesson on how congress works.
They spent most of the movie simply playing out the political machinations of congress and the president- and how making the right moves can accomplish the goal.
Slavery was forbidden under the 13th amendment to the constitution.
The second amendment talks about gun rights.
I own a few guns- am not a liberal- or an NRA type of guy.
But I find it strange how believers seem to associate guns with patriotism and freedom.
Of course weapons have been used in the past to obtain freedom- and it’s in mans nature to resort to violence in order to protect what he thinks is valuable.
But there actually is a biblical goal- the scripture speaks about God’s ultimate goal for weapons.
It does- I never knew that?
Yes- the bible speaks about a future day when there will be no more weapons of war.
The prophet Isaiah says ‘they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks- they will learn war no more’.
Now- to my friends on the right- no- I’m not against our 2nd amendment rights.
To my friends on the left- well- yeah- guns don’t kill people- but people do.
But- the end goal for the believer- for the kingdom- is no more weapons.
Okay- I guess a few more examples from my homeless buddies will do here.
I have been mentioning the guys the last few weeks- we have been working together on a halfway house- and I have been sort of playing the mediator role with some of the guys.
In ‘ministry’ there exists a sort of competitive spirit.
The same type of thing you see in sports.
My friend David who started the halfway house has noticed that some of our mutual pastor friends are not so happy about it.
I have been teaching the guys about the nature of ‘church’ and Gods kingdom- insights I have gleaned over the years.
And my friend David is seeing it- the competitive thing- and he realizes that people are more willing to help other ministries if they have some type of name recognition fixed to it.
A few pastors/churches are willing to help my buddy- but they want him to incorporate as part of their church.
The other day David asked if I wanted to actually use my ‘ministry’ as the name- the incorporation- for the halfway house [he wants to establish many of them].
I have been helping the most I guess- out of all the other ministries.
I told David I really did not want too- I actually incorporated years ago- but eventually dropped the status.
There was no need for it.
I never took offerings- or financial support at all [since around 1994?]
So I told David I had no need- or desire- to have the thing under my name.
But he saw that seemed to be a big thing with some of the other pastors we work with.
In my talk the other day with the group [called NeWay].
I spoke about the kingdom of God in the parables of Jesus.
Often times we overlook the simple teachings of Christ when thinking ‘church starting’.
Now- there are many theological reasons pastors do this- too many to cover right here.
But- in the parables of Jesus we see a principle- a kingdom principle about seeds.
Jesus teaches his men that the kingdom of God is like spreading seeds.
You throw some here- some there- and you have no control over which ones take and the others that don’t.
Jesus says ‘after he plants- he sleeps- and wakes- and the seed grows- he knows not how’.
I like that- we are just seed sowers.
Now- Jesus did not just teach this- he also modeled it in the actual ‘ministry’ he was building with his men.
They were going from town to town- preaching the good news- healing the sick- feeding the poor.
They were not ‘setting up ministries’ in the way we think.
They were simply communicating the truth of God- in whatever format they were in at the time- and doing kingdom works.
Eventually some in those towns became followers- others did not [some seeds took- some did not].
Notice- there was no big appeal for lots of money- sure- they did receive offerings from some- but the appeal to start some huge 501 c3 thing was nonexistent.
So- the point I was making was we- ministers- Christians in general- we should not focus most of our time on simply raising money for all types of ‘worthy’ causes.
No- we are here to basically model the ministry of Christ.
Yeah- could it be that simple?
Jesus said ‘let your light so shine before men- that they may see YOUR GOOD DEEDS- and glorify you father in heaven’.
Our ‘light’ is not the showcasing of our gifts or our talents.
We often see modern ministry thru that lens.
‘wow- did you hear him speak’ type of thing.
Actually that’s not the light.
The light Jesus spoke about was the actual good deeds of charity.
The actual lived out love we have for one another.
‘greater love has no man than this- that he would lay down his life for his friends’.
Yeah- the kingdom seems to always rub against our own ideas.
Yeah- there’s coming a day where there will be no more weapons.
That’s not just a Lennon song.
1955 GRECIAN FORMULA ….
I spoke to a liberal friend not long ago- she watches all the more progressive news shows [MSNBC].
She was railing against Romney- against the rich fat cat corporate guys.
She went on and on about the rich being the actual cause of all the nations problems.
I asked my friend if she thought the rich pay less taxes than the middle class.
She said ‘of course they do’!
I went on to inform my friend that the tax rate- as well as the actual dollars paid- are much higher among the rich than the middle class.
She could not believe this was so.
I told her that when some say they are not paying their fair share- their talking about Capital Gains taxes being less than the middle class tax rate for income.
And the rich who don’t earn income- well they do pay less- if they are only living off their investments.
But most who are in this category do indeed earn income [the rich now being earning 200 thousand or more].
But it’s the way the debate was framed- blaming things on the rich- this caused my friend to not see the real problem.
Which is no matter how much we tax the rich- that will not solve the problem of our country having promised too much stuff that we can no longer afford.
I saw Ed Shultz the other night- he actually was telling people that the problem was we are not taxing them enough.
If you listen long enough- you would think that we could get out of the hole if we simply taxed rich folk.
I’m for raising the tax on them by the way- I don’t think it’s wrong to go back to the Clinton year’s tax rate.
I’m no conservative about this.
But that does not even come close to fixing the problem.
Our nation is in debt for around 16 trillion dollars.
The largest expense- not counting the military- are the Entitlement programs.
Medicare- Medicaid- etc.
Now- if we do raise the taxes on the ‘rich’ it will bring in about 80 billion a year.
That’s a drop in the bucket- that won’t barely put a dent in the debt.
But the rate of growth for Medicare- if we keep growing at this rate- will eventually swallow up the entire budget- we will be spending everything on Medicare alone.
That’s why I believe the result of the last few weeks has been bad.
After Obama won re-election- many from the more liberal side began putting pressure on him to not deal with entitlement spending.
Yesterday he made an offer to the House Republicans- and it had no real change to these programs.
If we do not make any changes to the programs- like means testing [the rich get less benefit than the poor- which you would think would be a Democrat’s dream come true- yet they are the ones blocking this change].
If we simply keep framing the argument as one being the rich not paying their fair share- then that will give an excuse to not actually fix these programs.
And that’s what the president has decided to do.
Remember- I’m for the tax rate going up on the rich- but that will barely put a dent in the debt.
You must- we must- make some adjustments with the entitlement programs- that’s the only way to really fix the problem.
And the president- and some who support him- have decided to continue the campaign.
They are not going to realistically look at the problem.
And if they keep kicking this can down the road.
Well- it will land in Greece.
1954 DON’T MOVE THE ROCKS
I want to cover a few things today- not sure how much we will get to.
A few months ago I kept having a ‘thought’- I was thinking about a church/ministry that I have known for years.
They are from Kansas City [the Missouri side].
I have read the pastor’s book- I have met many that were involved in the church/movement- and I even had a good pastor friend who eventually went and joined the ministry.
He held a doctorate in theology and became one of the teachers for their university.
Okay- so- for some reason an image of the ministry kept coming to mind.
Actually- I kept thinking about the off balance of a few things I had heard over the years.
I was thinking about their belief- taught to the students/members of the ministry- that they are all convinced that we are definitely in the ‘end times’ and that they are actually fulfilling a role of an end times prayer ministry that will rise up before the Lord returns [which they believe the bible speaks about].
At its most basic level- this is dangerous to do- for a variety of reasons.
The other thing that came to mind was a simple statement I heard the minister make years ago.
He was mentioning some criticism that their church/university has gotten over the years.
Some of the parents of the kids have said to them ‘but you need to also learn some type of job skills- some type of learning in the liberal arts- you can’t just spend all your time praying and learning about being the Lords end time army’.
When I heard this- I actually agreed with the critic- though I was sympathetic to the ministry.
Okay- after having these things in my mind- for a few weeks [that’s how you know you’re actually praying in a way for them- because you’re thinking about them- even during prayer].
Then I read in my local paper that a kid from my town was I involved in a possible murder plot and killed his wife.
They were involved in the above mentioned ministry.
I went on-line a bit yesterday to read up on it before I comment- I won’t mention the names- you can find that from many other sources.
I just want to mention the danger of various expressions of Protestant ministries- and why this is so.
The other day one of my friends was mentioning some stuff about not being a ‘lone ranger’ in ministry.
And I agreed with him.
But I also reminded him that the church he associates with [Baptist] is in many ways a ‘lone ranger’.
Depending on what kind of Baptist church your involved with- some are highly ‘lone’- others not as much.
But by ‘lone’ I mean historically they are a church movement that came out of the 16th century Reformation [later on- they were part of what’s called the Radical Reformers- those who took the reforms further than the initial protestors] and in historical terms- they are all ‘rebelling’ against authority.
They left the historic church.
Now- I don’t take this view in a harsh way- I have many good Baptist friends and many good churches are Baptist.
I say this only to give the broader perspective.
Okay- as time progressed [from the 1500’s] you had a multitude of churches/denominations break away from one thing or another.
It’s really astounding to see the many divisions that have come since the days of the Reformation [which some Catholic scholars warned would happen].
In these ‘off shoot’ expressions of Christianity- some are less dangerous- others more.
Many cult watchers have lists of what to look for in these movements- and these lists can be helpful.
What I try and tell people [and teach] is if you stay connected as much as possible with the historic church [yes- both the Catholic and Protestant expressions of it] then you are in safe territory.
But if you truncate yourself from ‘the church’ then you are heading for trouble.
In the above example- the thing that troubled me was having lots of young kids- on ‘fire’ for God- being taught that they are God’s ‘end time army’.
The actual ones!
Geez- that in itself is really disturbing.
First- I think the Evangelical church has to do some real soul searching about the way she views/expresses the ‘end times’.
The fact that over the last few years some of the best sellers are Tim Layahes books- his End Times series- is troubling.
He gives a very narrow- and skewed view [in my opinion] of the bibles’ teaching about End Times.
I posted the other day from Daniel 12- and I have hinted about these problems over the years.
But some of our view about the end times comes from a miss reading of the actual Greek text.
In the gospels when we read ‘end of the world’- the term actually means end of the AGE.
Okay- that little adjustment alone can change our understanding about lots of stuff.
That’s just one little thing- I have posted lots more over the years.
But the point I’m making is if we have a whole group of fine young people- embracing a view- from the elders over them- that they are indeed the actual ‘end time army’ or prayer movement- that was foretold about in the bible- than that’s very disturbing.
When I read about the case yesterday [the ministry is IHOP_ Mike Bickle is the main leader- I won’t mention the name of the local boy who is implicated in the death of his wife].
The church is trying to distance itself from the incident- and to be fair the young kid seems to have started his own ‘break away’ community [which can also be one of the problems with a Protesting position form the start- that is when the actual name of your group ‘Protestant’ seems to say we are nonstop protestors- well that can give rise to the nonstop protests- you think?]
We don’t know all the facts right now- but we know enough to say we- as Evangelicals- as Protestants [which I am] need to make every effort to stay connected to the historic church.
Yes- there are things that Evangelicals disagree with- there are things that the historic early church might view differently than we do.
But- they are our Fathers in the faith.
Over the years I remember a verse that some in the above movement used to mention.
It was a sort of obscure verse found in the Old Testament.
It says ‘don’t move the foundation stones that your Fathers have laid down’.
Yeah- I think that verse fits pretty well.
1953 LEADERS/PASTORS AMONG MEN?
Saw Lincoln yesterday [actually it was the movie].
I did like it- but to be honest- it was a little too much like watching the news [or some politics show].
My daughter crashed out on the seats.
I took Debbie- my youngest- she’s 20.
I’m trying to take them out at least once a week- the mall- Golden Corral [buffet].
You know- dad and girls day.
Okay- I also have had some good talks with the guys at the halfway house.
I spent about 2 hours ‘teaching’ an entire course on Ecclesiology [The doctrine of the church in the bible].
I haven’t taught this subject in a few years- it can get in depth- and it takes a basic foundation of knowing the bible before you can really teach it.
But Little Charlie really has the bible down well- for a younger Christian he knows a lot.
So- I took him on a tour of the mind.
The reason it’s not an easy subject is because much of what you pick up in this teaching is by simply reading the interaction of the biblical people.
For instance- Paul the apostle’s letters make up most of the New Testament.
So we read how he is addressing the churches he is writing to- and he seems to by-pass our normal ‘way’ of doing church.
Much of church in our day is a type of lecture hall format.
That is people go to ‘church’ [some sort of meeting place- from an old time Cathedral to a theatre].
And you listen to a lecture [called a sermon].
Okay- all of this has a role.
But when Paul writes to the churches in the bible- he is addressing communities of people living in a location [which is the biblical definition of the church- Ecclesia].
He speaks directly to ‘the brothers’.
That is- there does not seem to be an office of Pastor on the sense many modern Evangelicals understand the term.
How do you know this John?
Now you see why this study gets hard.
We know this because if you had the office functioning the way it functions today- Paul would be breaking church protocol to speak directly to the brothers in these churches- he would be violating the rule of going to the ‘authority’ office over the people commonly called the Pastor.
Okay- doesn’t the bible speak about Pastors?
Sure- actually one time in the book of Ephesians [one time- yup].
One time in the English King James version that is [Ephesians].
In the bible the word speaks about a gift that God gives to certain believers- and it’s a sort of shepherding gift.
It simply functions in the community- that is if you a part of a church [a believing community] more than likely you have a person like this who functions in the gift.
It was not a speaking gift- that is a sort of professional speaker who preaches to you every week.
Now- I’m just showing you the difference between the biblical word itself- and how we as believers have developed more ‘meaning’ to the word as time goes by.
So- this study does take a long time- cant’ do it here- but pretty much covered most of it in my 2 hour talk.
Charlie really learned a lot that day- it would take a long time to simply see these things yourself as time goes by.
The main point of what I was showing him was the important thing we are doing [as a new ministry- the halfway house just stared a few weeks ago].
Is we are simply working- helping- accepting people where they are at.
We are not starting a business- a 501 c3- that usually takes the description ‘local church’.
These things [non profit- etc.] serve a purpose if needed- but the point is in the bible the churches are the people.
Some of the guys are getting worried about all the money needed for the rent.
They are working- I also have chipped in cash- and John David [my buddy who actually started it] gets panicky at times.
So- I spend a few days a week simply working with the guys.
But I wanted them to get their eyes off of the idea that what they-we are doing is not simply attempting to start a ‘ministry’.
In the sense of the whole corporate thing.
But I wanted them to see that the important thing is the people.
That’s the whole point of me showing them that the apostle was writing the brothers [that’s how he mostly addressed the churches he wrote to in the bible- I think he addresses the Philippian church and does use the term Bishop- along with brothers- which means overseer- but he mostly speaks directly to the brothers].
So- to sum it up.
The best biblical definition of Church would be the communities of believers located in any given place at a set time.
That’s what we call ‘the Local church’.
It’s not the place they meet each Sunday- as fine as that might be- but it’s the family- the community.
And we also speak about the universal church- all the believers- of all time- even those who have died and are with the Lord right now.
Yes- these too are part of this great communion.
The gifts that God gives to people- pastors- teachers- etc.
These are for the purpose of building up the people- and they are the ones who go out and do the ‘work of the ministry’ [Ephesians].
So the job of leadership is to build others up- and they do the work of God.
It’s not the job of leaders to be the main [or only] functioning person among the people- and the people see themselves as the financial supporters of the gift of their minister.
Often times that’s how modern church expresses itself.
But that paradigm is very limited- and it hinders the growth of the church [the believers].
Because we have relegated them to a position where they see their main ‘job’ as simply giving money every Sunday- and others will do the work.
Yeah- this takes long to teach- and as you can see- I’m running out of time.
On the blog- I have written a few little books on this over the years.
I think there is an entire category in the February posts of the first couple of years that I stuck on the blog.
So- for those who want to study more on this- help yourself.
Okay- that’s it- maybe tomorrow well’ do some more news- let’s see.
1950 LORD OF THE RINGS
These past few weeks have been somewhat of a whirlwind.
Every so often in life you hit a stage when multiple things come together.
Over time- as you get older- you learn to take these times with a grain of salt.
That is- you don’t get overly excited about them.
Yet- you see ‘oh yea- this is one of those times’.
There are usually lots of signs that accompany these moments in life.
Let’s name a few.
A couple of months back I went to a part of town that I usually don’t go to.
I wrote a few posts on it- met a few homeless guys- and felt like we needed to do some type of ministry in this area.
Then within a few days one of my good friends wound up in the hospital for triple bypass surgery.
I have known John David and both of his brothers for years- Andy and Huey- they are all street guys where I live.
So- we went to see John David in the hospital- come to find out they thought he was going to die after the surgery.
They had to resuscitate him once.
So- John David has asked me- a few years back- if I would help him do a halfway house.
Now- over all the years of ministry- I have worked with ministries like this.
And I was interested- but really did not know if it would fly.
John David is a very smart guy- he once owned one of the biggest concrete businesses in the area.
Made tons of money over the years.
He lost it all when he became a hardcore addict.
So- I knew he had the smarts for the business aspect- but John is sort of new to the faith.
It’s been a couple of years and he has that new excitement that young Christians have.
So- I just tried to encourage him- and when he gets too many ideas I realize he’s like a lot of us- we sometimes over do it.
But since he had the surgery- he called me the other day and that was the first day of the new halfway house ministry.
Okay- some signs.
I did not realize that the first house [there are now 2] was only a few blocks from my original foray into that part of town.
I met the homeless guys on Morgan and Cross-town [you locals know the spot] and John David opened up the first room at Mary and 20th st.
Walking distance from the spot.
I only realized it later [you take different routes to get there- it never dawned on me that the day I spent with the homeless guys was right there- when we left John David’s house the other day- I realized that was the same spot where I hung out].
That was the first ‘sign’.
I have been praying for years here in my yard- it’s really like a prayer garden- I walk the yard and have all types of prayer markers.
Facing certain ways- praying for the nations that are in that direction- recognizing the star clusters each time of the year.
When you pray early like this- you see lots of shooting stars and come to familiarize yourself with the ‘heavens and earth’.
Anyway- I have this gazebo with hundreds of painted names of prisoners I have collected over the years.
These are cases where people got sent to prison for long periods of time.
So- being I work with street guys- they are sort of my collection- I might run into them some day on the street.
So- this gazebo is like a prayer spot- it represents a community of people.
I also have lots of verses on it.
Over the years I have collected street signs.
Yeah- you’re not supposed to pick them up- but I have.
These are various signs that I found along the road [on the ground or in the trash]- my daughter came home one year with one- she’s like ‘hey dad- we found you one’.
So- I have about 3 or 4 like this.
I have them hanging on this gazebo thing.
Yesterday as I was walking and praying- praying about the halfway house- seeing how the location was ‘prophetic’.
As I’m walking past this gazebo- early in the morning- I must have walked it 30 thousand times before.
I look up- right there- one of the signs says ‘STAPLES AND MARY’.
That’s the actual street that the halfway house is on.
That street is also the connecting street to the second house [on Laredo].
Yeah- Staples and Mary is the main connection for the homes.
Now- Corpus is big- to ‘accidently’ have that sign- that crosses right there- well that’s a bit much.
Last but not least.
Right when I got back from my Jersey trip- the first chapter I read/studied was Luke 15.
For some reason the story about the father putting a ring on the son- it got me to thinking about getting a ring.
Now- I am not a jewelry type of guy.
I have lost multiple wedding rings over the years.
And at the fire house we would take them off.
Yeah- they are a hazard.
There are many stories about guys getting their fingers pulled off when the ring catches something.
So- I haven’t had a ring in years.
But- it’s in my head- so I’m on the hunt.
I stopped at the local pawn shop- I had a homeless friend who died years ago- Bill.
One day I was in there with Bill- and he spotted this ring that he liked a lot.
It had a horse on it.
Personally- I didn’t like it that much- but I thought ‘hey- if that ring is there- I’ll get it’.
Sort of like a reminder of my friend.
It was long gone.
So I hit Wal Mart [yeah- the last resort spot].
They had 2 nice gold rings- with Crosses.
But they wanted a couple of hundred for them- I wasn’t gonna go for that [heck- what if we go over the fiscal cliff!]
About 2 weeks before I mentioned to the street guys ‘hey- I’m looking for a ring- with a Cross on it- if you find one- I’ll buy it’.
Now- I let them know I don’t not want a ‘hot’ ring.
I have had guys wanting to sell me stuff at a cheap rate- stolen stuff.
I told them I would never do that.
So- the next day- after my failed venture at obtaining the ring.
I am getting ready to go to the mission.
I’m in the bathroom and my cell phone rings.
My daughter says ‘dad- your phone is ringing’.
I ask ‘who is it’?
She says ‘it says Martin’.
Martin is the last name of the 3 amigos- John David- Andy and Huey.
I ask ‘which one’?
She says ‘H martin’.
‘O- That’s Huey- just leave it- I’m gonna see him in a minute’.
So- I leave the house- don’t check the message [I never check my messages].
And as I head out I think ‘geez- maybe I should hit the other pawn shop- right passed the mission’.
I’m kinda praying about it.
Then I feel like the Lord is saying ‘son- in Luke 15- the father gave the son a ring- wait till I give you one’.
Right then I make the turn into the mission.
Huey says ‘hey- did you get my message’.
I told him no- I figured I’d see him right now.
He says ‘I got your ring’.
Yeah- I gave 12 bucks for the thing.
But it’s a nice ring- a copper stress ring.
It says ‘TRUST GOD’.
It has 2 Crosses on it.
Probably a 35-50 dollar ring.
[It wasn’t stolen- the guy who owned it was right there- Huey talked him into selling the thing for quick cash].
Yeah- as I have grown older I try not to overdo the sign thing.
But- at the same time- I also try not to ‘under do’ them.
The bible says God is in control of the affairs of men.
Nothing happens without his permission.
Yeah- I guess you can even say- He’s
THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
NOTE- As a side note- the ring was given to me by Huey- John David’s brother.
Rings denote partnership in scripture.
It was interesting that John David’s brother was the one who gave me the ring- I would be ‘partnering’ with him in just a few more days.
1944 PEACE ON EARTH AND GOOD WILL TO MEN?
Before I get into the news- let me mention that the bible chapter for this week was Isaiah 26.
Once a week I like to focus on a chapter- and if I have time I do a post on it.
But being I want to cover some news stuff- If I don’t get to it- that’s the chapter for this past week.
Okay- what’s going on?
Yesterday I was amused as I went thru a few news papers.
As most of you know- my prediction that the DOW would be in the 12,000-s has come true.
The news shows came out right away after the president was re-elected- and said ‘the dow is down because people are afraid that CONGRESS and the president will not make a deal’.
Okay- one of the arguments made by Romney for his election was the reality that both the pres and congress are in gridlock [true] and that- regardless of who you blame- more than likely if you re-elect Obama the gridlock will remain.
Now- in his case- he did not place blame [smart] he simply used this as a talking point- like Obama saying ‘Romnesia’.
But- here’s the catch- the media and the Obama people said ‘false’.
That it made no difference who got in- you would still have gridlock [the Dems would also be in gridlock against Romney].
So- after Obama got in- the DOW took a dive.
Okay- was it only because of the Fiscal Cliff [which the media blame it on- because that gives mutual blame to congress and the pres].
No- not at all.
Listen carefully- if the Romney argument was false- and the media were right- then it would have made no difference [according to their view] who got elected.
Because business and the economy watchers all would have seen gridlock- no matter who got in.
If this were true- then why wait for the election for the DOW to tank?
Come on folks- are we that dumb?
If it made no difference [in this particular scenario] then why wait till Obama got in?
Yes- it did make a difference- like the Romney people said.
Okay- sour grapes here?
Just trying to show you the system- how the media jumped to say that Obama getting re-elected had nothing to do with the stock market tanking.
Okay- I read 2 or 3 more articles- and they were all trying to give you the same narrative- that it was better for the country- and the world- that Obama got in.
O- Let’s see.
One page [yes they had a whole page comparing the differences- the heading said ‘what to expect’ now that Romney lost and Obama got in]
One paragraph was ‘that Democracy will be promoted in the world’.
This was juxtaposed against ‘what to expect if Romney got in’.
I guess Romney would have promoted communism?
Another article ‘the re-election of Obama means there is now an opportunity to save many Syrians by trying to get peace in Syria’.
Again- this is ONLY an opportunity- now that Romney lost [see- a Romney win would have meant the killing of many more women and kids- got it?]
It went on and on like this- for the unsuspecting reader [the media must think people are all fools] you would get the impression- without realizing it- that Romney would have destroyed civilization- all the while using language and innuendo that made you think Obama will save the world.
Many in the business/financial world do see Obama as anti business.
Now- I’m not giving you talking points- I’m telling you from personal experience- and being a reader of all things- including global economic stuff.
Over the past 4 years- in all my years as a Texan- I have never seen a president/justice dept. attack cities/states like this one.
I have read- on more than one occasion- how my own city was being sued by the justice dept [which means this White House] for various stuff.
Some had to do with the oil producing industry- and regardless of what side of the aisle you are on- these multiple lawsuits have killed many- many jobs.
I have seen it.
Now- this has been the style of president Obama- for all types of political reasons- this has been ‘ground truth’.
Okay- Fiscal Cliff.
What is it?
The president and congress did not come to a deal on cutting spending and increasing taxes- so they passed a law that said if they don’t get a deal by 2013- then automatic cuts will go into effect.
These are very deep cuts that both sides really don’t want.
Okay- it is amazing- but one of the things that will negatively affect the economy is if this Fiscal Cliff hits- then all the Bush tax cuts [which have been demonized by Obama] will expire.
So- both sides are saying- if you lose all the Bush tax cuts [which those on the left say are bad] that it will negatively affect the economy.
Look- if you have been saying the Bush tax cuts are bad- then go ahead- let them expire.
If you say you want to cut defense by huge amounts- then go ahead- do it.
But- if you argue for all these things [which Obama has done many times over the years] and then say ‘no- congress- if you let this happen you are ruining the economy’.
Then which one is it man?
Before the president got in office- he made a statement- on video tape [you pretty much have to catch him on tape- or in writing in his own books- to pin him down].
He said he wanted gas prices to be high- around 7 dollars or so a gallon.
At the time- this was [still is] a prevailing view among some environmentalist types.
Obama ran with that crowd- that’s why he said this.
Okay- he also said- if he ever had a chance to be pres- to implement these types of things on a large scale- that he would make it so hard on the oil industry [coal operating plants]- that he would put so many fines in place- that if some company wanted to start a new coal plant- that they could do it- but because of all the new govt. regulation that he would put in place- that they would go bankrupt.
Okay- these things are all real things the president has said.
Then- after he got in- one of his top environmental guys in Texas started going after the oil industry in Texas- I have seen it- with my own 2 eyes.
The guy Obama had in charge- was caught on tape [yeah- if it’s not on tape they deny all the things they said].
He was caught talking about their policy in Texas.
He said ‘like the Romans- when they went into a city and crucified the first rebel- that sent a message’.
He was saying that they needed to hit certain oil businesses in Texas- hit them so hard [maybe even prison for the executives?] that all the other oil companies would see it and either shut down or never get a new business going.
That’s the exact same strategy the president had said he would use if he ever had the chance.
Now- not only has he said this- he has done this.
But- if you listen to all the statements he makes on this stuff- he makes you think he is more pro oil than Bush/Cheney.
See- that’s the problem- that’s part of why the DOW tanked [plus the E.U. crisis- a global slowdown- Fiscal Cliff- see- there are many reasons- and one is the anti business policies of the president.]
I’m not saying Obama is a bad man- nor am I excusing a congress that might at times simply be obstructionist.
But I’m saying it did make a difference who got in- it did indeed have an impact on the markets and the fear that some in business have because of the polices of the president.
This post is not a defense of the right- or left.
It is intended to show you how quick the media were to downplay the real negative effect that the re-election of Obama did already have on the economy.
Look- you might agree with his policies- maybe even on his anti oil stance- fine.
If you agree- agree.
I too hold very liberal positions on many things [I’m very pro immigrant- I was also for a national health care system- yeah- true Canadian style].
But I want you to see how the media played this.
I wanted you to see- that Romney was indeed correct- a least about this one point- that the re-election of Obama would continue gridlock [regardless of who you place the blame on- that was not part of his argument].
Yeah- some of these things came true- sad- but true.
But then again- according to the paper.
If Romney got in;
More Syrians would die [women and kids mostly].
Democracy would not be promoted.
And world peace would elude us.
Gee- I guess the trade off was good then- the DOW went down- but there will be peace on earth- and good will toward men- all because of the re-election of the president.
Thanks media- thanks news papers- I feel better already.
Just try not to crucify any more of our oil executives- because it’s tough on those looking for work in the Lone Star state if you do.
1943 IT IS FINISHED
Good morning everyone.
Some of my friends are rejoicing today.
Others are flying the flag at half staff.
Yes- most of the pundits were right- those who were following the polling- Obama did indeed win- as most of the polls showed.
Now- why were some [on the right] skeptical of the media/polls?
One reason is- they had good reason to be.
Most every morning when I get up- I listen to NPR radio news.
They have a reputation of being liberal [part of the big bird thing- Public Broadcasting- you know. One time I heard Alex Keaton- Michael Fox [Family Ties] berate his dad for working at a ‘not for profit’ company- Keaton could not even conceive of the idea!]
So yes- NPR has been a target of the right for some time.
Now- as a media guy- who listens/reads/watches lots of media- I do catch the left wing bias every so often.
But it’s tricky- that is you don’t even know for sure if those engaging in it even realize they are doing it.
Just about every morning these last few weeks- their top of the hour news coverage- which gets repeated every hour- started with either an actual re-play of an Obama ad [free ad time] or some report about how Romney lied.
Now- the undiscerning hearer might think they were actually doing news coverage- and in a way they were.
But all the coverage was favorable to the president- and none of it [that I heard] favored Romney.
Okay- was I mad?
Not really- but it makes me think how many people- not realizing the imbalance- wind up hating one man [who seemed like a good man- are you mad that I even say this? About Romney- then maybe you have also swallowed the hate bait].
Yes- when you hear this it affects you.
I watched some of the coverage on MSNBC- I think Matthews does not even realize what he says.
They were gleefully referring to Romney as a liar- someone who does not care for people at all- a man who does not like minorities or women.
It went on and on- at the same time they were covering the right wings ‘attack’ on the voting rights of all people.
There were actually multiple reports- not fake either- that many people [tens of thousands?] were actually voting for Romney on the touch screen- and their machine registered a vote for Obama.
When MSNBC covered this- they laughed at the republican official who used ‘strange’ language when registering the complaint.
Yet- they could care less that many thousands of people were tricked by rigged machines.
Then they went on and spoke about how the Repubs were attacking the rights of voters- in the same breath.
That’s media blindness- that’s why many are skeptical of them- and that’s why many on the right simply did not believe the polling as the day of voting began.
Now- I was not really skeptical- that is I saw some polling that was off- but as I listened to multiple sources- I got the feel from even some on the right-That they felt they were in trouble in the battle ground states.
And at the end of the day- they were [the Repubs].
Where are we at now?
I personally will continue to pray for the president over the next 4 years- by name- twice a week.
I mention him and his family as well as other world leaders- this is mandated in scripture- we are supposed to do it- I do it.
And I don’t do it grudgingly either- I have done it for all the presidents for many years- be they Repub or Dem.
The left- the media- they did indeed divide the country by their coverage.
They often accused those who did not support the president of racism.
Yet- once again- in Philadelphia- the racist group Black Panthers- were out in force- standing at the polls- looking like they might beat you with a bat.
Yes- the same group that the justice dept. dropped the charges against [its illegal to intimidate voters] were out again- intimidating voters.
Any media outcry?
Yet- the same media who would not mention this- at the same exact time- were calling Romney and his people actual racists- and calling this media/election coverage.
If Romney won- and there were multiple reports of people voting for Obama- and the machine registered Romney- there would be an uproar.
If you had White supremacists- whose leader has called for the murder of Blacks- actually intimidating Black women and elderly Blacks- the second election year in a row- the media would be calling for the arrest of these thugs.
Yet- all these things did happen- but because they happened on the side the media supports- it was not an issue.
And not only was it not an issue- the same media called the other side racists- while this was going on.
Yeah- it does not surprise me that many went into the Election Day skeptical of the media.
I had a feeling Romney was in trouble- I kinda saw it in the ‘read between the lines’ stuff.
But what the media did yesterday- well- that’s a sign that we as a nation are in trouble.
Yeah- for the media- fly the flag at half staff.
For the president- I will continue to pray for him and his family- and I hope we as a nation can try and work together.
Lincoln said ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’.
He was quoting another great leader of days gone by.
The man- Christ Jesus.
1939 THE MORE IMPORTANT STUFF
Today we are going to do an ‘all nighter’.
A few months ago I started a new thing- I invited a few of the homeless guys over to the house [actually that’s not new].
But I cooked a good meal for them and let them crash out on the floor for the night.
Over the years I have had a few friends spend the night- but not on a weekly basis.
So- I fixed up a room for them- and tonight they will use it.
Before the weeks out [I guess that means in the morning?] I will try and write a post on Luke chapter 15.
I at least want to cover one bible chapter a week.
But let me just make a few notes today.
For those of you who are not familiar with ‘our ministry’- the whole basis of what I do could be summed up from Isaiah chapter 58.
In a way it’s an encapsulation of the whole intent of the Judaic law.
Actually that will fit in with tomorrows post.
In the Old Testament prophets we read many times where God rebukes the Jewish people [called the People of God under the old covenant].
And he says time after time ‘I don’t want your religious ritual- I want your heart- I don’t want to know how good your are at making animal sacrifice- I want you to sacrifice by loving your neighbor’.
These themes are found all thru out the prophets.
Now- in the New Testament we see the same thing with Jesus.
He says ‘you tithe and do all types of religious stuff- yet you have left out the more important matters- love and mercy’.
Jesus truly fulfills his prophetic role by defending the poor and speaking ‘truth to power’.
I see the role of the church- the main job of Christians- as one where we are not building religious empires- where we are not all about getting a lot of money to ‘reach the world’.
But where we are to live- as best as possible- the new command that Jesus left us.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart- soul- mind and might- and your neighbor as yourself’.
That’s the crux of the matter.
So- today I will go down to the mission and invite about 5 or so friends.
We will pick up some food for the ‘party’ [I got paid last night!]
We will come back to the house- hang out- share what’s been happening- eat- and then crash for the night.
Now- don’t be fooled- we will talk much about Gods will- the guys always wind up bringing it up- it’s a natural part of fellowship.
There will be no drinking or smoking [pot].
Yeah- the guys will smoke cig’s.
But all in all they know the rules- and they abide by them.
Last week Michael- the street artist I have written about over the years.
Mike is a great painter- and right now he works as a cook at one of the local buffets.
He came over just for a few hours with some brothers- and later he told me that was one of the best times he has ever had.
We did nothing- but hung out.
Many street people live lives of quiet desperation.
I see them every day- they go thru their routines- they know each other by name- but yet they rarely interact this way- that is just getting together without it being a drug induced party.
And when they do get together like this- it helps them.
The other day I was talking to Joe- a friend I have known for 20 years.
Somehow he brought up the name Tom.
I asked him ‘do you mean the Tom that hit the 100 thousand dollar lotto ticket a few months ago’?
Yeah- one of my good friends hit the Texas lotto thing- a scratch off- and won big.
He bought 2 Harleys and a bunch of stuff.
I posted the pic on my site- you probably would find it under the Photo album named ‘homeless 2012’ [Face book site].
As I mentioned Tom- the Harley guy.
Joe told me ‘no- not him- he’s my biological brother’.
I have known both of these guys for 20 years- have seen them on the streets- at the mission- all over.
Yet I never knew they were related- actual brothers.
It’s easy for the guys to live their lives- to pass by each other- and never really have fellowship- a good time where they all get together and have fun- without getting drunk- without getting high- just eating good food and knowing that we are doing it as a ministry/friendship thing.
I simply spend my money on the stuff- I take no offerings for it- imagine if we all did stuff like this? [I know many others do- but most Christians don’t see this as a regular part of the Christian experience].
If people all over the world did this on a regular basis.
Then if you had all the church people doing it- then you wouldn’t need to raise a million to do ‘Gods work’.
It would be getting done thru the small sacrifices that each of us make on a daily basis.
The Apostle Paul wrote the Ephesians and said ‘he that is not working- get a job- so you can have to give to those in need’.
No tithe here?
Not pouring it into a huge ministry budget?
No red tape?
Yeah- the New Testament [and old- Isaiah 58] teach us to actually use our resources to reach out- directly- to the poor and hurting.
Read the epistle of James- or the letter’s of John.
This teaching is not a side issue- it’s one of the main things.
As a matter of fact- that’s why the prophets of the Old Testament- and Jesus in the New- kept rebuking the religious people of their day- because they knew how to keep the religious rituals.
But they forgot the ‘more important stuff’.
1936 EINSTEIN THE DETERMINIST.
In keeping with the last post [propaganda] I read an interesting AP article on Syria.
As most of you know Syria has been in a civil war for many months- they are the 1st ‘Arab spring’ nation that has not ‘fallen’ to the rebels.
Now- there are lots of political things going on in the region [Russia and China not supporting a Libyan style NATO action] that are sustaining Assad’s regime.
But I found it funny how the western media have chosen to portray the war.
In order for the media to side with those who want to depose Assad- they must ‘side’ with the ‘deposers’.
So- the article spoke about the outside Al Qaeda groups who are coming in to assist the rebels.
It used terms like ‘heroism’ ‘valor’ ‘experienced fighters who know what they are doing’.
These terms were used to describe Al Qaeda fighters- in contrast to Assad- a ‘crimes against humanity’ description.
Wow- I never thought the media would actually try and honor Al Qaeda fighters- in order to accomplish their agenda.
That my friends is the ultimate in propaganda.
Okay- I read some more on Einstein over the weekend- and wanted to cover a few things.
Over the years as you read various sources about famous folk- you need to be aware of the source.
For instance- Christian writers [writing from that perspective] often portray the religious tendencies of a figure in a more favorable light then an atheist writer would.
So you have to be careful that the author is not writing his own story into the person he is covering.
But the biography I’m reading was not written from a religious view.
Yet- the author does share the various positions Einstein has taken about God over the years.
One thing to note is Einstein was a lover of philosophy- he admired men like Hume, Kant and Spinoza.
If you remember- a few years ago I covered the history of philosophy and how much of it dealt with what the causes of things are.
The law of Cause and Effect [also referred to as causality].
As a Physicist- Einstein had a great interest in these subjects.
At the end of the day- Einstein fell into a camp of thinkers called Determinists.
That means he believed that that the universe was ruled by definite principles- even though we did not have the answers to all the puzzles- yet he was convinced that if we searched long enough- we would find order to it.
This belief is in keeping with Theistic thinkers- not with those who ascribe chance and disorder to the creation.
I might have bitten off a little much here- but the point is- at the end of the day Einstein rejected the commonly held belief that there is no real cause to the things we see.
Many thinkers who argue against the existence of God argue form a perspective that chance is behind the ‘perceived’ design we see in nature.
Dawkins [the famous atheist] calls it ‘the appearance of design’.
Einstein did not simply believe in the ‘appearance’ of design- but he believed that the Cosmos was indeed a product of some type of cause that gave it design.
Now- I’m not saying Einstein was a Christian [or observant Jew]- but the point is- in his thinking- he rejects the most commonly held arguments that are made against the Theistic world view [in Cosmology- science] and sides with the Christian thinkers of our day.
Einstein famously said ‘God does not roll dice’ meaning he did not believe in the atheistic argument that things just happen without any cause.
No- Einstein seems to agree with one of his favorite thinkers- Spinoza said ‘All things are determined by the necessity of Divine nature’.
Yes- Einstein was a Determinist in his thinking- he did indeed side with the Theists at the end of the day.
1935 ROMNESIA ANYONE?
Let’s end the week with a little news.
Last night I caught a few ‘fact checking’ reports.
They covered the statement in the debate when Romney used the phrase ‘apology tour’.
Now- over the past year this term has a meaning- sort of like ‘Obama care’.
In the talk show/news circuit it means that the President did indeed do a world tour where he felt like he would try and establish a new relationship with foreign leaders.
Now- some say he was naïve- others think he did well- either way- the term ‘apology tour’ refers to this trip.
In the debate- when Romney used the term- the president responded that Romney is a liar- and that he never ‘apologized’.
Now- Romney never said he apologized- and in response Romney said when he uses the term ‘apology tour’ he is not in any way saying he actually used the words ‘I apologize’.
No- Romney gave an honest/truthful response- he said that during this tour- the president did use words like ‘the U.S. has dictated to you other countries at times- and this will be a new season’.
Romney basically said- yes Mr. president- your right- you never actually apologized- but you represented the U.S. in a way that said we were arrogant in the past- we responded to 9-11 in a way that was inconsistent with our values [I heard him say this myself- he was referring to the water boarding stuff].
Okay- basically Romney used the term- sort of like Obama uses Romnesia- he is not saying that Romney actually suffers from some strange form of amnesia- no- he is saying that Romney changes his position on stuff.
Okay- now here’s how the media tries to manipulate the public.
The reports I saw yesterday- the so called ‘fact checkers’ they went thru some of the speeches Obama gave during this ‘apology tour’ [they left out the ones where he did use the most apologetic language].
And at the end of their fact checking- they said ‘no- Romney is wrong [liar?] because the president never actually apologized’.
Ah- so the unsuspecting public thinks that Romney actually said the president apologized- and then when you hear these reports- these so called ‘fact checks’ you then think ‘gee- that Romney is a liar’.
Okay- where were the reports that said ‘ no- in fact- Romney does not suffer from Romnesia’?
That’s media manipulation- that’s media bias- the media shapes a story in a way that makes you think the way they want you to think.
The actual fact is- Romney- nor anyone that I ever heard use the term- ever meant that Obama actually said ‘I’m sorry’.
But the fact check made you think that was the accusation.
A few years ago there was a news story about a trip to Afghanistan by some senators.
Later on it was reported that some military leaders might have used a form of propaganda on the senators.
They supposedly did this in order to influence the senators to take their side in the war- I think it had to do with funding or man power.
After the report surfaced- the senators did of course condemn it- but they also said ‘look- we’re big boys- we can’t be swayed by stuff like that’.
But- when you use propaganda- you use it in a way that when you ‘persuade’ the victim- he does not know it.
For instance- maybe when the senators were there for a week- the military guys spoke in a negative way about a certain group/position.
But they did it in what you thought was normal conversation- maybe after a week- you think your just listening in to regular conversation- but everything you heard was to persuade you.
Then- when you get back home- if a vote comes up on the issue- you have already heard all the pros’ [or con’s] and this would indeed effect you.
That’s manipulation- that’s all the ‘fact checks’ that said ‘no- Obama never apologized- Romney is wrong’.
When you read/hear that- you think Romney accused Obama of apologizing- but he never did- he even went out of his way in the debate to say ‘when I use the term Apology Tour- I do not mean you actual apologized- no- I mean…’
Yet- the media still covered the story the way they wanted you to see it.
Now- is this one little thing such a big deal?
No- not if this were the only time it was done.
But the fact is- the media do this every day.
They focus on a story that they think might hurt someone [like a 40 year old hair cut that Romney gave to some kid- a ‘bullying incident’].
But the murder of 4 Americans in Libya- and the absolute failure on the part of the administration by not protecting our guys- no- on some news shows this gets zero coverage.
That’s manipulation- that’s bias- that’s what you don’t see.
Yes- like the well meaning senators- you might think ‘heck- I’m not that dumb’.
But the media must think we are- because they keep on doing it- day after day.
No wait- maybe they think we suffer from that newly coined disease- what was it again?
Oh yeah- Romnesia- that’s it.
1934 MERCY OR JUDGMENT?
Let’s talk a little.
First- I found it interesting that the last few days the stock market took a hit.
In the beginning of the year I thought the Dow should/would be somewhere in the 12,000 range by the end of the year.
I heard some financial guys talk about it maybe going to 17,000- others had lower estimates.
But none had my estimate.
Why did I have a bearish view?
Because all [most] of the data showed that we were in a global slowdown.
The Asian markets/economy was doing worse than expected.
Many were counting on China to pull the rest of the world out- instead the rest of the world [the E.U. crisis- U.S.] pulled them down.
Now- the jobs numbers were not good- and the last few days the data showed this.
This is [should not be] a surprise.
But to many it was.
Because many financial folk- good people- simply did not want to believe the bad report.
Even though the ‘bad’ report- the stats I just gave- were more than likely going to pull the market down- yet many felt if they just keep talking up the market- things will do better.
Sorry- a positive confession does not work when the stats are bad.
So- as we near the end of the year- it looks like we might make it into the 12,000’s once again.
Okay- I also wanted to mention a few more things about my Jersey trip.
I want to give a prime example of what ‘too much government’ looks like.
Now- I love my old state- the Garden state [you ask- why garden? Because as a kid I remember the paintings of gardens on some old truck road down the block!]
While I was staying at my mom’s house- my mom and sister have multiple health problems- my dear mom is getting up in years- and to be honest- they have a hard time simply dealing with day to day chores.
But- I was shocked at the fact that one of the major chores of their week was having to move their cars- by ‘law’ 2 times a week.
Yes- that Old Street Sweeper just keeps on coming!
The city [for those who don’t live in N.J.] has a street sweeper that comes by on Mondays and Wednesdays- between 1 and 3 p.m. – and basically pushes the dirt around.
I have lived my entire adult life with no street sweeper- and the streets look the same- the rain does the job for free.
But- in my old town- with all the political connections- you would never be able to get rid of the dept.
So- my mom plans her week around having to move 2 cars [hers and my sisters] 2 times a week.
Everybody else is also moving their cars- at the same time- to the opposite side of the street.
So- every so often- my mom drives a couple of blocks to find a spot.
She also has to jump start my sisters car- twice a week- to move it.
Sometimes if you can’t find a spot- you simply drive around from 1-3.
To be honest- this is what you call ‘a police state- or city’.
I told my dear mom- if this were in Texas [or any other Democracy] you would have some guy [gal] run for mayor on a platform of ‘the first thing I will do is abolish the street sweeper- I will then rebate all these fine citizens of this town all the wasted money on the thing’.
And the guy would win.
But- the politicos have connections- the unions support guys who keep them in their jobs- and the fine citizens of North Bergen will continue to move their cars- twice a week- so the guys can keep their 70,000 dollar a year jobs.
One last note from the journey.
On the way back to Texas I listened to news/talk radio.
One of the big stories I caught while driving thru Dallas was the case of a 22 year old single mom who glued her daughter’s hands to the wall.
Yes- a very sad case indeed.
The reason it lit up the talk shows was the night I was driving in- the judge sentenced her to 99 years in prison.
The show I was hearing played the audio in the courtroom- many were in shock.
The talk show guy was siding with the judge- you had various people call in with their opinions.
This sentence was harsher than that given to people who have actually have killed their kids [Deena Shlosser being one].
When you make child abuse- which is a very bad crime- a higher punishment then actually murdering the child- then what do you think the results might be?
Sure- some say ‘well- that way people will know not to do it’.
But you might also have some unstable moms who have already abused their kids- who might now think ‘gee- if they ever tell- I will be punished with a harsher sentence then if I killed them’.
That’s something we don’t want either- see?
I cut out the news article of the girl- Elizabeth- and she will forever be on my prayer wall- with hundreds of other cases that I have collected over the years.
As I heard the sentencing judge- of course he had his reasons- the prosecutor was only asking for 45 years- yet the defendant chose a non jury trial- and in Texas the judges are elected.
Your main election benefit of being ‘tough on crime’.
And that was that.
We had a local judge run over a highway worker a few years ago.
He was a very famous ‘tough on crime’ judge- he and his wife were big Democrats- involved in all the politics of the area- many connections.
When I read the story- the judge was driving 70-75 on a turn that was posted at 20-25 MPH.
I have gone to many car wrecks over the years- as a firefighter- and when we had people doing stuff like this- you got arrested- and had some type of price to pay.
But- as the story went on- the local paper explained that the 20 MPH sign was just a ‘suggested’ speed- that the turn is still part of the highway- so 75 MPH was the actual speed.
Also- even though he flipped the guy off the bridge/overpass- and nearly killed him- yet- somehow the judge did no wrong.
When all was said and done- he got the equivalence a parking ticket.
[ I also read an article in the paper about this time- it was a ‘warning’ to drivers- the story interviewed some local officials- and they explained that if your driving 55- in a 55- you could be cited for reckless driving- because if its raining- then the cop makes the call. It went on to say if you slow down to much in the rain- that too is reckless. And- of course- if you’re going to fast- well we can’t have that. So the article stated that if your going under the speed limit- doing the speed limit- or driving over the speed limit- watch out! That’s of course if you’re not connected in some way].
I’m sure when the case worked its way thru ‘the system’ that at each turn the people who knew him felt justified ‘after all- this is so and so- he has a family for heaven’s sake!’.
And they empathized with him because they knew him.
Yet- when meeting out judgments on others- they seem to be able to see only justice- without mercy.
I will pray for Elizabeth- to be honest- the rest of my life.
Maybe I will write her as time goes by.
But the bible says ‘mercy rejoices against judgment’ I choose mercy.
1930 FRIEND OF SINNERS
Yesterday was the first time I saw my street friends since I’ve been back.
I did need to see the guys [girls] to take care of a few things.
One of the guys did call me when I was in N.J.- and he had an issue- I did not have time to talk so I had to cut him off.
He has been a good friend for years- but to be honest- he is also a violent guy- big guy- and that has gotten him into trouble before.
I have never gotten ‘into it’ with him- but over the years I have had a few times where I had to let him know he couldn’t pull that stuff on me- I wouldn’t go for it.
So- being I basically hung up on him a couple of weeks ago- and it had to do with me talking with his girl [that’s why he has most of his fights- because he is jealous] I figured I better see him…so- as soon as I got to the mission I saw his van parked in the lot- doors open- he lives in the thing.
I walked up and let him know I was back.
Of course he wanted to know what happened when I talked to Julie.
When I left he was stranded in some forest about 600 miles from here- and that’s the last I knew.
I told my friend that we had a good talk- she did accuse him of some stuff [being gay] and he has also said the same about her.
So- as she was making the accusation- I laughed- because I told her he has done the same thing- accused her when he was mad- and I told her I take these things with a grain of salt- and even if it were true- he is still a good friend- either way.
So- that’s what needed to be settled.
My friend simply was worried about the way I viewed him- he thought that because of some stuff she said that maybe I was going to cut him off.
I told him ‘I have been your friend for 25 years- everybody has past issues- I told Julie even if all this stuff were true- he is still my friend’.
He got into a few more things about his past- and started crying- I guess he always feared I would cut him off if I knew.
I told him it did not matter- we are friends.
As I sat at the mission- I saw a few of the guys and caught up on some stuff.
My friend Don- who cares for the garden- he has the fall garden going real good [posted the pics last night].
And I saw Albert- I did not recognize him at first- so I kinda responded in a ‘mean’ way.
When you’re at spots like this- in the open- you have to be careful- sometimes if someone is looking at you- from a distance- and he starts heading your way- they might be getting ready to jump you.
So- I have not seen Albert in 5 years- I had no idea who he was- but he’s walking my way- looking at me- as an old friend.
But- as he got closer- I was ready to stand up and get in his face- then I recognized him [if you just sit down- and someone is coming to jump you- you will get hurt bad].
So- after I saw it was him- I said hi.
I met Albert about 5 years back- he is gay and had a Black boyfriend at the time.
If I remember- they both had some type of a Christian background [families were preacher’s type thing].
I felt funny a few times- they asked me to pray for them- and of course I did.
So- Albert had a guitar and sang a few of his original songs.
One song was a country type thing- and it was a love song [country- so he lost the truck- the dog got killed- you know- country themes!]
But I recognized the words from the bible- Corinthians chapter 13- the love chapter.
When he was done- I told him ‘Corinthians 13’.
He was surprised I knew it- he said ‘I got the words from there- how did you know?’
To be honest- it’s a famous chapter- most bible readers would know.
Its funny- a day or 2 ago I heard/read a verse about reaching out to the poor- the needy.
It says ‘when you help the poor- do it with love- do it cheerfully’.
I wrote it down as a reminder- that it’s important to really love your friends- they appreciate getting help [I gave away some money this day] but they want real friends who will love them like brothers.
I had just written the verse down- and then heard it sung by one of them.
Yeah- my friend wanted to know that what I heard about him- even if it were true- would not break the friendship.
That’s what meant the most to him.
I guess the bible is right ‘Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers- because he too suffered from the same things they suffered with’ [Hebrews].
Jesus was able to identify with people- he walked in their shoes.
Yeah- that counts.
1925 WHEN TWO BECOME ONE [a short critique on the pastoral letter from the Bishop of Newark]
Today I want to comment on the Pastoral letter that the Archbishop of Newark put out last month.
Being I’m here in N.J. for a few days- one of my goals was to visit all the old places I saw as a kid.
And 2 of those spots were the Catholic churches I went to as a kid.
I went last Sunday to Our Lady of Fatima- and this Past Sunday I visited Our Lady of Grace.
It just so happened that the Bishop of Newark put out this Pastoral letter- a letter to all the Christians in his area- a few weeks before I arrived.
The letter is in some ways a defense of the historic position of the church.
It’s titled ‘When Two become One: A Pastoral Teaching on the Definition, Purpose and Sanctity of Marriage’.
In short the Bishop does an excellent job of defending the traditional definition of marriage between One man and One woman.
He bases this teaching on both Natural [Moral] law- and what we call Revelation [or Revealed Truth- which means teaching that comes to us from God].
Natural law simply means in society in general- since the early times of man- there was a basic understanding of what was right or wrong.
Where did this Moral foundation come from?
The Church teaches that this comes from God [Apostle Paul- Romans 1 and 2].
Since this Moral law exists- and part of this ‘collective conscience’ includes the basic idea of traditional marriage- therefore we [the Church] make the argument that traditional marriage is not only a Church teaching- but also a foundational truth that all men have known since the beginning of mans existence.
The bishop notes that the early Greek philosophers and other ancient societies have indeed believed that Moral law does exist- and therefore it is not only a church belief.
The Bishop is also careful to treat Homosexual people [language that the church does not use- the church teaches that all people- even those with ‘homosexual tendencies’ are indeed created in the image of God. The Church says both Heterosexual and Homosexual are words that describe sexual attractions- but are not fundamental identities] with respect.
That is even though the Church believes in One man One woman union- that it recognizes that all people struggle with ‘sin’ and that the Church calls all people to live repentant lives- and to strive to live an abundant life in Christ.
The Bishop emphasizes that the Christian community does include people who have homosexual attractions- but it simply does not legitimize homosexual lifestyles as an acceptable way of life for the practicing Christian [I do understand that others see this very thing as discriminatory- and that would take a long time to get into- my purpose in this post is to kind of break down the 4 page letter of the bishop and hit the high points.]
All in all the letter was written in a scholarly way- the bishop used what we call the classic Apologetic tools to defend the Faith [he appealed to natural law- he quoted the Greek philosophers- etc.]
And he made the case in a way that was as gracious as possible to those who consider themselves Homosexual- while still defending the Traditional definition of marriage.
I of course did read- and re-read the letter.
I guess that around 10 % of Catholic Christians might have gone home after Mass and read the letter [it was kind of long- and a little scholarly].
But it was written in a well thought out way- and it does give you the official Catholic teaching on this matter.
The Church teaches that those Catholics who reject the traditional definition of marriage are rejecting a serious doctrine of the church- a ‘Grave matter’- and the church says these Catholics need to repent from this position.
In the Catholic Church there are degrees of Moral teaching- that is some areas are not considered as serious as others- the Church teaches that this doctrine- traditional Marriage- is one of those serious doctrines.
At the end of the letter it has the signature of Archbishop John J. Meyers- the bishop of Newark.
This was the first time I ever read an official Pastoral letter- one that was actually circulated in the handouts from the Church meeting.
I found it well written- scholarly- and of course- in keeping with the teaching of the historic church.
Whether you agree with the teaching or not [for instance I am a Protestant- and not bound to the teaching of the Catholic church].
You must admit- that the Catholic church puts out responsible material- material that is well thought out and in a way ‘peer reviewed’.
Yea- all in all- it was a good letter.
Okay- there are lots of good stories to tell on this trip- but I’m trying to keep them short.
Let’s do the NYC trip today [do=tell].
The other day I took a trip to the city with Patrick—an old friend I met about 12 years ago- he was my ‘tour guide’.
I haven’t been to the city in many years- and I have no idea what buses/trains to take.
Pat knows all the routes.
So we took this nice route that lets you see all the famous areas- from the top of the rail road tracks.
We got off at the last [and final! For you Pat] stop on the A train- Rockaway.
This is the Queens section of the city- Howard Beach- Gotti’s club- you know- the ‘famous’ spots.
As we walked to Pats brothers’ house- he told me the story of his family.
Pat grew up in somewhat of a dysfunctional home- like most of us have.
His parents died early on- and he had this older brother that he never really knew- 20 years his senior.
So- one year Pat made an attempt to find him- he looked him up in the phone book and tracked the house.
As Pats brother came home- Pat was on the steps- blocking his way- he said ‘can you move- you’re in my way’- and that was the reunion.
Pat told me that his brother was an addict for many years as well- he used to see him sleeping on the subway stop- he would give him a few dollars if he had it.
After many years- his brother finally got clean- and married a great Christian lady- Veronica.
I met them both on the trip this day.
We hung out most of the day at Pat’s brothers place- we had a good time- we were helping Veronica hook up to Facebook and stuff.
She has a nice computer- but needed help getting everything working- you know- most people are not experts like myself [okay- maybe not- this trip was the first time I ‘texted’].
It was funny- after I helped her hook up to Facebook- and Pat was helping her get the phone hooked in as well.
I said ‘that’s it Veronica- you’re in- now all that happens is you get a bill for 50 each month’.
At that point she looked at me- yeah- you could tell she’s a real New Yorker [of course I was kidding].
On the way back to Manhattan- I took a few more pics from the rail- and me and Pat had some good time fellowshipping.
Pat now sponsors a couple of guys thru the NA [narcotics anonymous].
He got a call from one of the guys while we were waiting for the train to leave.
It was a learning experience- to see how the group works along biblical lines.
The last time I saw Pat was about 8 years back- Pat was hooked and you could tell.
Pat overdosed real bad a few years ago- I got a call and they told me he might have died- he was in the hospital and I put him on the web site and asked for prayer.
Pat pulled thru- but he messed up his leg real bad- he walks with a very bad limp- but he never complains.
This week I have been reading John 17- it’s the famous prayer of Jesus [besides the Our father]
Jesus says ‘for their sakes I sanctify myself- that they too might be sanctified thru the truth’.
Sanctify means separate.
Jesus was saying he set himself apart to do God’s will- he did this so others too might be free.
The example from my friend Pat- and his brother- and a few other people I have met on this trip- is one where people got to the end of the road [last AND final stop].
They lived many years in bondage to things- Jesus said ‘whoever commits sin becomes the slave of sin’.
These have learned what that means.
And they got to a point where they had enough- they have now ‘separated themselves so others too could be free’.
Yeah- my Rockaway trip was a real learning experience- in more ways than one.
The other night I went to an NA meeting with my friend Pat.
It’s basically the meeting for Drug addicts- based on the 12 step program.
My friend sponsors his own meeting- and also attends and is real active in the group.
Before I came to Jersey [this visit] I was in touch with my friend John David [heart surgery] and he has been wanting to open up a half way house in C.C.
I also picked up [by accident] a book defending the 12 step program from a Christian perspective.
All in all I have been learning/reading on the 12 step program.
But this was my first actual meeting- so I was looking forward to it.
It was a really good format- from the things I have read/seen- the key to success is the basic principle- found in the bible- that says ‘confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that you may be healed’. [James]
The meetings are times/places where people share- they speak about their struggles- their victories- and others see that some have been clean for many years- 20-30 or more.
When an addict sees another ‘addict’- who has ‘overcome the mark of the beast and the number of his name’ [Revelation] he then sees that there are indeed a whole company of people who have come thru this- and are on the other side- clean.
All of these things are biblical principles.
As I sat in the meeting- I had an interesting experience.
The table in front of my chair had the names of some of the local restaurants written on them.
I’m not sure why- maybe they support the meetings- the meeting was held in the old Catholic church- Our Lady of Fatima- that I attended for CCD classes as a kid.
The church is a couple of blocks from my old Elementary school- Horace Mann- and I used to walk over every day for class.
The NA meeting was in the same part of the church that my CCD classes were in.
So- after 34 years- I found myself- for the first time- back in the old class.
I had a friend/schoolmate back in those days.
His name was Glenn Hashway.
His parents own a deli- famous- right down the block.
I have heard that Glenn has been an addict for many years.
A friend of mine was in jail with him one year- he didn’t know I knew him- but I did.
From what I heard- he was in big trouble- looking at many years in prison- if he made bail he was going to try and leave the country type of thing.
So- this was his story.
On the table in front of me- the name of the restaurant/deli that was written- was ‘Hashways’.
Yea- it just so happened that this was the spot where his family had the name of their deli.
Sad story for my old friend- seeing how his life turned out.
Today I’m supposed to make a trip to NYC- I need to check my phone for messages.
I can do the trip on my own- but it’s been so many years- I don’t know all the right subways and buses to catch.
So Patrick is supposed to go with me.
I did want to say a few words about the debate- it has been such a hot political issue- and I do talk about that stuff.
But- on this trip I’m trying to avoid too much politics.
I took a ride yesterday afternoon down to Jersey City- got out at a park on the corner of Manhattan Ave and Kennedy Blvd.
Yeah- not really the best spot to hang out when you’re from out of state.
But I wanted to just walk around the area.
As I walked thru the park- I asked some guy sitting on a bench ‘what’s the name of this park’?
He told me ‘Persian field’.
Now- I know it’s not Persian- like Asian [or at least I don’t think things have changed that much!]
But at the entrance of the park I saw a statue to some war hero or something- I assume the name is Pershing- you know- some past war guy type thing.
Anyway- I walked thru the park taking some pictures.
Some kids hanging out and all- wondering why I was taking pictures.
I talk one of a little blue bag- small- you could fit about 3 aspirins in it.
It was a Crack bag- empty.
I saw 2 more while walking around- wasn’t even looking for them.
I saw some nice animal statues and a few squirrels.
I continued the ride- went down past journal square- and went a few more miles- came back on Tonnele ave.
Passed the old Pulaski Skyway- and saw my 2nd homeless guy- begging for money on the road.
I usually don’t give the guys with signs any money- but being I haven’t seen too many- I gave him 5 bucks.
Yeah- the old area looks okay- still worn and torn after many years.
Sort of like an old war horse- battle scarred but keeps on going.
I read a verse in John chapter 17 this morning.
Jesus said ‘ Ihave revealed your name to the men that you gave to me out of the world’.
I have read this chapter many times over the years.
Jesus speaks about the desire for unity in the church.
He talks about his disciples as the special people God brought to him along the journey.
I have run into a few already- I’m trying to hear God- to speak and connect to the ones that he’ gave me ‘out of the world’ –or ‘from New Jersey’.
Yeah- there are always at least a few- people who are too on a journey- and it’s important for us [you and me] to speak the right words- to communicate the Father [God] to them.
At the end of the day- that’s what lasts.
I posted some pictures the other day- of Craig- a homeless guy I ran into while going to Wal Mart.
As soon as I saw Craig I knew he was homeless.
He was sitting by the side of Wal Mart- with a couple of well kept carrying bags- and he was organized- as much as someone can be while homeless.
So before going into the store I walked over to him and became friends.
I talked to Craig for about 30 minutes before going into the store.
I told him when I get out of the store I will take him to breakfast- my treat of course.
Craig turned the breakfast down- but he asked instead if I could by him a can of BeefAroni.
So I picked him up 3 cans- no big deal.
When I got out of the store we took a ride to the park and hung out by the lake for a while.
Of course I told Craig that this is ministry stuff to me- I didn’t ‘preach’ to him- but I told him ‘my story’ as he told me his.
He knew that I was reaching out to the street guys because I believe Christ called us as believers to do so.
I later took him about 30 miles south/west.
I asked him if he needed a ride somewhere- being I had the day and van.
He told me he was heading to Lyndhurst the next day- but if I wanted I could start him going that way.
He just needed for me to take him to a small town around here called Secaucus.
We took the ride- and I parked in a store parking area.
Craig has these walking routes all down pat.
I told him that I would walk with him some before heading out.
As we started the trek, when we got to the end of the parking lot- he put his bags down [they looked to be well over 50 pounds].
And he back tracked about 50 feet- picking something up.
At first I thought he saw some change- the street guys are good at spotting change on the ground.
But as he got back- he had about 10 cigarette butts- he rolled the little tobacco that was left into a small cigarette- it looked perfect- and the task was finished in a few minutes.
Its stuff like this that will let you know that the person is a ‘true’ street guy [plus turning down the fast food offer- and opting for food that you can take with you].
We walked a good few miles- crossed over a bridge and I told Craig I would start heading back to the van.
Craig looked at me- we shook hands- and he said ‘peace’.
I could tell he was grateful- for real.
Sure- I gave him 5 bucks for the journey- we spent some time hanging out- but he was grateful to have someone to give him a hand.
I could tell from the start that he was not a beggar.
He was not looking for a ride [his plans were to walk the whole trip- till he got to the major highway- where I dropped him off].
No- he was just a nice brother- a new friend- you know- like you used to make friends as kids.
You saw some kid on the block- never met him before- and within minutes your playing some street ball or something.
I gave Craig the blog site card/paper.
He doesn’t know how to get on line- but I told him if he wound up at a friend’s house who has a computer- he can look us up- and see his picture and story on the site.
Craig was the first ‘real’ homeless guy I have met since being here.
I can tell from my excursions that this area is not suitable for homeless guys- they know that and that’s why they don’t come here.
I talked to Craig for about 3-4 hours in total.
I always try and find out their stories- and I tell them that I share their stories on the site.
Craig is 49 years old- my age less a year.
He was originally from Modesto Cali.
He has been in Jersey for many years- usually lives in Atlantic City.
That’s the spot where many of the homeless go- Craig gave me the scoop.
Craig has had various jobs over the years- some good ones.
But as I first talked to him- it’s obvious he has some real mental problems [yet very smart!]
It takes about 3 hours for Craig to communicate 2 hours of stuff you can understand.
I’m sure most people would get scared the first few minutes- seeing he has some type of problem- and he rarely makes it to the 3 hour ‘made a new friend’ point.
Yeah- Craig is a new friend I made on the trip.
He did indeed hear the gospel- as a friend- and to be honest- I had a good time hanging out with Craig.
1918- MALE GAY PROSTITUTE?
Let’s pick up a little from the last post or 2.
The other day at the mission I had an old friend- who I haven’t talked to in a while- just show up.
We hung out for a little while- and he told me how ‘so and so’ burned him real bad.
Burned- he ‘screwed him over’ type of thing.
I heard the story- and of course I was mad at the other friend.
Yet- my other friend was not around- so I tried to let it drop.
But- to be honest- it bothered me for a couple of days.
Then I saw his girlfriend- and she did the same thing.
Now- at one point I actually laughed- because my friend- who I have known for 20 years- is what you would call a classic case of being Homophobic.
That is- whenever he has a problem with someone- he most of the time accuses them of either being gay- or- a homosexual/lesbian prostitute [as in if the simple accusation of prostitute isn’t enough].
Now- because I know this friend well- I take it with a grain of salt.
But- I did tell my wife a few days ago ‘you know my friend ‘so and so’ I mean he has the classic case of Homophobia.’
He just had an argument with his girlfriend- and sure enough- he tells me he thinks she’s hiding something- he thinks she might be a secret lesbian prostitute.
So- as I’m talking to his girlfriend- without revealing the accusation- she tells me ‘you know John- he is totally gay- he is a repressed homosexual- he does not know how to please a woman…’
On and on- about him being a closet homosexual.
Now- first off- I have gay friends- I help gay friends- so this post is not about being gay.
But I laughed because my 2 friends- who both have issues- also resort to this accusation- about one another.
I told my friend one day that years ago- as kids [maybe 16?] me and a friend were going to do a stupid thing.
We went to the local park late at night [Hudson County Park to my friends from N.J.]
And we were going to rob and beat up a gay person.
We recruited a local drunk from the area- he was about 30 years old.
We told him the plan- and we went.
We never carried it out- though my other friend did just get out of prison in N.J. – for another very serious crime.
Yet I told it to my friend because he was bringing up past attitudes about gay people and for some reason this came up.
He tells me years later ‘John- you might be a repressed homosexual- because you told me you guys tried to mug a gay guy’.
So- that’s my friend.
In reality some of the street guys are indeed male prostitutes.
Many are addicted to drugs- and they do make money this way.
I don’t see them in that light- one of the guys has been with us these past few weeks- and we have had discussions about the Lord and he was with us when we prayed for my friend in the hospital- so he was around us the whole time.
Which I felt was good for him- to spend the day doing things that were positive.
Even though I had to laugh when my friend’s girlfriend dropped the accusation- during the talk she also shared about her experiences.
How she was not looking for a relationship- she is an older lady- and a Christian.
But she met my friend- she thought he was a good looking guy- and one thing lead to the next.
I told her ‘gee- I would like to agree with you that so and so is a good looking guy- but the way you guys throw around the ‘gay male prostitute’ thing- I better not say anything.’
I was tempted to ‘disown’ my buddy for a few days- you know- having various people all volunteer to tell me bad stuff about him.
But instead I chose to brush it off- maybe some accusations are true- maybe not.
I don’t know all the facts about each person’s situation.
But I’m glad I shrugged it off- because it was the same week that I was told that this friend sees me as his mentor- that he can’t stop saying good things about me- which I had no idea he looked up to me that much.
He is about 5 years older than me- and he often speaks bad about brother Rey- a street preacher who helps the poor.
So- all in all- I’m glad I stuck with him.
Hopefully I’ll see him today- he was stranded last week- and I’m not sure if he made it back to town.
Pray for people- I know a few of the guys do resort to bad stuff when they need cash.
Some of the girls are indeed prostitutes- they don’t hide it- many of them are real friends- they are nice people- who are involved with lifestyles that are not good- lifestyles they do need to change- I make no excuses about that.
But do your best to not let what others might say effect you- it would have been bad if I ‘dumped’ my buddy because of what I heard- and later found out that he held me in high esteem.
It would have hurt him.
Went down to the mission yesterday.
I saw Julie- Dirk’s girlfriend.
I usually don’t see her at the mission- and when I do- she’s always with Dirk.
At first I wasn’t sure it was her- but as she walked by I asked ‘aren’t you Julie’.
Yeah- it was her.
If you remember- I wrote a post about them both going to one of the national parks here in Texas.
It’s called the Angelina national forest.
Over the years Dirk has told me lots about how much he loves being there.
It’s kind of a ‘second’ [or 3rd?] home away from home.
Dirk spends most of the year living here in his van.
Every so often he goes home to Michigan to see family.
And sometimes he stops at the national forest for a few weeks- he knows the locals- older retired guys who he plays cards with and stuff.
He has told me how he loves to hunt for arrow heads along the banks of the river.
Okay- I asked Julie where Dirk was.
She told me ‘I left him there’.
They got in a fight- over the arrow heads!
Yeah- every morning Dirk would get up and take Julie arrow head hunting.
So she told me she bought a few books in town and one morning wanted to read.
Dirk went hunting for the heads.
He came back- found something and was all excited- he tried to show it to her or something and she was into the book.
One thing led to the next- they got in a fight- and she drove back to Corpus [about a 600 mile drive by the way].
He has no ride back.
I knew from the start that they were going to get into a fight- I just didn’t think she would leave the guy.
I think that’s why she was down at the mission- sort of waiting to see if he makes it back.
I mean I did have to laugh- as I talked with Julie I told her I thought something like this would happen.
I do want to mention something that will sound self serving- buts it’s the second or 3rd time Julie has told me this- and to be honest it surprised me.
Julie tells me that Dirk is always talking about me- that he sees me as his ‘mentor’ and that he has nonstop praise for me.
I find it ‘funny’ because Dirk usually has nothing good to say about anyone- to be honest.
Many times he has put down the other ‘street’ preachers who work in the area.
I have had to defend Brother Rey- a street preacher- many times.
But being she brought it up again- I want to simply say a few words.
I have known Dirk for many years- and he realizes that me getting with the guys- often taking them out to eat- just being friends with the homeless.
He knows that this is ‘ministry’ to me.
Now- when you become friends with people- of course- over time- they will learn stuff- you will talk about God- and many times the guys have questions- things they might have heard as kids.
Misconceptions about God- things that have hindered them from believing- and often times it’s a simple explanation that clears it up.
So- I guess after knowing Dirk all these years- he has come to see me as a sort of mentor.
I have Henry sleeping in the living room right now- we hung out most of the day- I cooked some simple stuff last night and let him crash on the couch.
I have started doing this at least once a week- I see it as a way to contribute a little more- without it costing a lot of money.
Henry is a football nut- he knows the sport like I used to follow boxing.
Over the years at the fire house the guys realized I was a boxing fanatic.
I would usually know who would win the fight- and when they had a question about some rule- they would ask.
I had a laugh one day- I was upstairs watching the fights- they were down in the main room- I guess they put it on as well.
James- one of the guys- came up to ask ‘what’s it mean when they say- no 3 knockdown rule’.
I told him ‘that means you can’t knock the other guy down- more than 3 times’.
Actually- it means you don’t stop the fight if the other guy goes down 3 times in 1 round.
Some states have this rule- they think it prevents a fighter from getting hurt too much.
But in some cases maybe one of the knockdowns is a fluke- then a guy might lose a fight when he really wasn’t hurt.
So- being Henry is a football nut- you guessed it- we watched the bad call in the game the other night.
I think it was Green Bay and Seattle.
It made the news because the NFL has the replacement ref’s in the game- the regular guys are locked out over a dispute about their contract.
Henry could not get over the amount of coverage- I mean I had ESPN on for 4-5 hours at the house.
I finally told Henry ‘man- I’m gonna catch some news’.
Yeah- it was on the world news too!
Obama and Romney and all the politicians had to have their say.
I’m just waiting for the Al-Qaeda statement.
So- we watched the play- around a hundred times thru out the day.
In a little while Henry will get up- we will head out to some area- maybe go visit my friends in Bishop/Kingsville- it’s been a while and I probably should see them.
It really doesn’t take much to do this- I read John chapter 15 earlier.
Jesus says the most important thing is to love your brother.
That he showed us that to lay our lives down for another- to sacrifice your time- money- etc.
That this is the heart of the matter.
It doesn’t take much- and your friends will never forget.
1913 FATHER JOHN
We did another ‘all nighter’ last night.
Now- to my old partying buddies- not that.
I got with Henry yesterday- a street bro. – and we hit the Half Price book store [his and my favorite spot] bought a bunch of books- and came back to the Casa.
I BBQ’ed a bunch of stuff [will post the pics- on Face Book- for those who read these from the Blog].
And we had a good fellowship.
I gave Henry the choice of what channel he wanted on all night [the guy’s crash in the living room- so whatever they want to leave on the tube- I set it for them. I would let them choose themselves- but I have a bunch of remotes- and I don’t want them waking me up ‘John- the TV wont work’ type of thing].
So Henry picked the classic country- geez- I had no idea?
Okay- at the bookstore we spent at least an hour- I can spend 2 hours just going thru the books- I have before.
In one of the isles- Catholic cubby type thing- I met a nice Christian brother.
Sometimes I’ll give my card with the web site on it- most people at the bookstore are readers [ya think?]
As I offered him my card- he told me – ‘yes- I am a reader of Christian stuff- I’m a Catholic priest’.
I told father John that’s great- I have many Catholic readers- and even a few priests/pastors who read my stuff.
We had a really good conversation- I do dialogue well with priests.
I have studied Catholic theology- history- the whole 9 yards.
And I told John- if anything- I get more complaints that I’m ‘too catholic’ than the other way around.
I will try and visit John- he runs a Catholic retreat here in C.C.- I know the exact spot- it’s a huge building right off the highway.
It’s a big ‘dome’ type structure- with a Gold top.
He told me ‘no- it’s not a mosque’.
For years that’s exactly what I thought it was.
I will make a visit to father John’s place- he invited me to do lunch.
Anyway- Henry is still crashed out on the couch- we will hit the mission a little later- and maybe check up on John David- my friend in the hospital.
I’m looking forward to him getting out [he had open heart surgery last week].
I’m going to partner with David in setting up a halfway house- that’s his dream/calling.
All in all we had a good day- I will post the pics right after this post.
There are some news stories that I could cover- but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.
Enjoy the day- pray for the brothers I mentioned yesterday- and for all my friends- they do [we all do] need prayer- thanks.
1912 A RIVER RUNS THRU IT
Been going down to the mission the last few days.
Haven’t seen Dirks van- was asking around- ‘has anyone seen him’?
As I was standing there- my cell rang- it was Dirk!
He wanted to let me know that he and Julie- his girl- were at the state park in the Angelina forest.
It’s in Texas- he has told me about this spot many times over the years.
It’s one of his favorites- another place where he ‘lives’ for a part of the year.
He has collected arrow heads from the lake- Sam Rayburn [?]- He gave me a nice one many years ago- still have it.
I was glad to have gotten the call- I have maybe gotten 4 calls from Dirk in 25 years.
It was strange- I had just prayed for him in the morning- I thought maybe he got arrested- you know the guys park the vans all over- maybe it was one of those towing deals.
But he was happy- he had wanted to do this trip with Julie for months- to show her this part of his life- where he feels he’s not simply a ‘homeless guy’.
To be honest- I was surprised she took the trip [in her R.V.]
They were arguing a lot recently- and Julie really is a strong believer.
It’s funny- when I’m with Dirk- he shows me all the text messages she sends- verses and all- he ‘uses’ me to find ‘counter verses’ –you know- she’ll be fighting with him- send him a verse- and he wants one to send back- in retaliation.
For a few days he was asking me ‘hey John- where’s that verse about not eating the communion meal when you’re a sinner’?
Now- I told him it was in 1st Corinthians- chapter 11.
He asked me a bunch of times.
He wanted to quote it to her- because she took communion at the church- and he was telling her- well- that she’s a ‘sinner’.
So- I see him one day and he asks again- he remembered I told him Corinthians- so he read- right up to chapter 9 or so- just looking for it.
I looked in chapter 11- sure enough it’s in there.
So- that’s the extent of Dirks bible reading [to be honest- you would not think the guys even read the bible- some are regular readers- and are actually good Christians. Henry is just one example].
Yesterday I posted a couple of pics.
One of the guys was standing in the rain one day- he got up under the sign- and crawled in!
Yea- it has a lot of room- I thought you would like to see it.
The other picture is John- who I posted about last.
The little dog- a new girl who had the pup- thought the pup was cute.
And the guy in the hat- William.
William is a new comer- nice guy- we became friends over the last few weeks.
He was a welder for 35 years- has kids- is married- and when he retired he told his wife he wanted to travel- not just sit home and be a grandpa.
So he bought a van and has been seeing ‘the world’ [the U.S. – maybe Mexico].
He spent a few months on the beaches of Key West [Fla.]
Hemmingway’s land [the author].
He showed me a bunch of pics form Arkansas- where he lived for many years.
Great shots of catching trout in a river that ran right thru his back yard.
Kinda reminded me of the movie ‘A River runs thru it’.
Yeah- William is a nice guy.
He noticed a staff I have been using- writing on it and stuff.
He asked what I was carving- I told him just some bible verses.
Yeah- he knows this is ministry for me.
William is the type that seems like he would not listen- or usually talk- to someone who was talking about the Lord.
But we have become friends- and just in simple conversation- it does come up.
I want to ask you guys to pray for a few friends of mine.
Please pray for Brother Rey- he’s a street preacher who has had lots of physical problems the last few months.
Also pray for John David.
He’s my friend who had open heart surgery- he’s still recovering- and its tuff.
I told David that I will help him set up the half way house.
When he first told me about it- a couple of years ago now- I felt the Lord wanted me to help him.
I kinda dropped the ball to be honest.
But I took a look at the 2 story house he’s interested in- and God willing- in the next year you will be seeing pictures of us fixing it up and all.
David believes it’s his calling- I think it just might be.
See you later.
God bless you all.
1911 A SEA OF FIRE
I had a talk with John the other day.
I was at the mission- by the way- there are now about 4 Johns that I’m friends with- so this John is the guy who used to work at the Navy base right around here.
I have known John for many years- he seems to be a real nice guy.
Different form some of the other guys- you can tell that John was not a ‘bum’.
That is there are lots of guys who simply spent their whole lives around the missions- they have mastered the art of getting free stuff- many- many of them are able bodied people [actually healthier than me!].
Yet- by the thousands- they are all on SSI.
Just the other day one of them was telling me how his lawyer was getting him on disability- because he takes medication for his depression.
So- that’s the scoop.
But John worked for the base for 17 years- at 20 bucks an hour.
He was buying his own home- had a nice Harley- was living the dream in a way.
He got laid off- he lost his home- and he also did a lot of drugs.
He now lives in a broken down RV- a dump.
If he can’t come up with the 200 a month rent- he mows the grass for the owner- she owns about 8 rental houses.
As I talked with John- somehow I told him I was reading the book of Revelation- and I knew that some of it applied to him.
I told John that Revelation speaks about those who have overcome the mark of the beast- his image- and his number.
The apostle John [who wrote the book] said he saw these people ‘standing on a sea of glass mingled with fire’.
These were those who overcame the image that the beast wanted to brand them with.
I explained to John that in life- we all have good and bad times.
Often times- much of the battle is how others perceive us- that is we allow the ‘image’ that the accuser [the beast- satan] puts on us to affect us in a negative way.
I told John that when Jesus was baptized [the sea of glass imagery- get it?] that as he came up out of the water there was the voice of God saying ‘this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’.
I told John that we- as children of God- are also seen the same way.
That God too is pleased with us- not on the basis of how we perform- but because God accepts us because his Son died for us.
I told John that this is much of the battle in life- overcoming the image of the beast- and accepting the image of God- our father.
In the New Testament it speaks about a baptism of water- and fire.
One time when the disciples were arguing over who would be ‘the greatest’ [image- see?]
Jesus asked them ‘can you be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with’?
They said yes.
He told them they would.
What baptism was Jesus referring to?
Probably the suffering he was going to go thru- the Cross.
Suffering is in a way a baptism ‘of fire’.
The baptism of the Spirit can also be called a baptism of fire.
Now- when John the apostle said he saw these people standing on a ‘sea of glass mingled with fire’.
It’s possible that he was speaking about the church- the community of people who would ‘arise’ from the baptism of water and fire.
Peter said ‘it is not only appointed unto us believe on him- but also to suffer for his name’
Yeah- as I spoke with John- as I told him about the battle to overcome the image of the beast- to accept the ‘mark of God on our fore heads’.
He understood this.
He kinda of invited me to preach at the street church for brother Rey.
I told John that Rey has asked me in the past- but I don’t do that anymore [I have many radio shows that people can still hear on line- I have preached for many years- I think I should leave that to others now].
I think John understood what I was saying.
Someone who had in a way lived part of the American dream- and then lost it all.
I encouraged him to receive the image that God has for him- the one that says ‘you are my Son in whom I am well pleased’.
Yes- there is a company of people who ‘stand on the sea’.
Don’t forget- this sea also has fire.
1908 ATTACKS IN LIBYA AND EGYPT
Last night we cooked late- so I let a couple of the street guys spend the night.
I have done this every so often in the past- not really a big deal.
But the reason I usually avoid it is because I have a ‘million’ homeless buddies- and once you go down this road- well you got the picture.
But I felt the lord wanted this.
The pics I posted last night [by the way- whenever I post pics during the day- I never check Facebook form my phone. So- if I take a trip to N.J. – I’ll probably post pics- but will not get on line until I get back- so for those who leave comments- I won’t see them till much later].
So- the pics from the day [or month!] before will get descriptions when I’m back at the lap top.
Okay- Andy and Huey spent the night- they watched the Green Mile [twice].
I asked them what channel they liked- to leave on all night.
They wanted the classics.
We never got a chance to see their brother yesterday- David.
He had triple bypass heart surgery- and we were gonna see him.
His nephew [Andy’s and Huey’s too] hitched all the way from Louisiana- just to see John David in the hosp.
That’s the son of an older brother who died.
I told Andy ‘bring Leon over in the morning’ they are sleeping on the streets- geez.
But Huey got a call as I was cooking- he left last night [hitching a ride].
We will go see John David later- Andy told me David even asked if I was still around.
Me and David became good friends after he quit the Ice [he was a huge meth addict].
When he got clean- and got right with God- he just wanted to get together all the time.
Like a new Christian- wanting to learn everything he can.
As the guys were crashed out on the floor last night- I of course caught my news fix.
I was surprised to see the very serious story about the Islamic protests in Egypt and Libya.
Just a note- this should have been the top story on every news network- it met the criteria of serious breaking news [which the networks now say about everything].
But the one station- at least at 7 pm- that did the right coverage- was Cooper from CNN.
Now- Fox of course covered it- and I guess MSNBC- but Cooper treated it with the coverage it deserved.
At first it was reported in a deceptive way.
The coverage said that these protests- which killed 2 Americans in the American consulate in Libya- were a reaction to a negative movie put out by the now infamous pastor from Fla.
You remember him- the guy who started trouble a while back.
So the way the news reported it- it made it sound like he just put out another negative Muslim thing- and that’s why the angry response happened.
But then they reported that this video was out for weeks [or months].
And that some of the radical Islamic sights were already calling for protests on 9-11.
So- for there to have been these types of very serious uprisings- in 2 countries that we had a major role in removing [or killing] the leaders- this is bad- real bad.
Fox showed a speech by the president- a famous speech he gave in 2009- called the ‘Cairo speech’.
It’s famous because critics of the president have used it to say he kind of sucked up to the Muslims.
As I heard the speech- in context of last night’s news- I agreed with everything the president said.
He did offer somewhat of an olive branch to the Muslim world- but he was very careful to say this branch was to those who reject violence.
He spoke about living peaceably in a world with other faiths.
I listened carefully- I agreed with everything he said.
But it is important not to miss the fact that we have never had our embassies assaulted like this in the past- and that these attacks took place under regimes that we backed.
This is not good.
I found it interesting that I ‘accidently’ spoke about these issues the last few days.
And here we are- it’s the big story of the day [week- month?]
The killing of 2 Americans at a consulate is very serious indeed.
The fact that it happened on 9-11 is very serious.
Today we do need to pray for peace- we need to of course respond in a proper way- either shut down our embassy- or whatever needs to be done.
But we live in a world where we have both freedom of speech- and responsibility.
When this Fla. Pastor first made waves- it was easy for the media to brand him as a nut- a crazy guy.
And I of course do not hold to this guys views at all- the way he ‘exposes’ Islam.
But- to react with violence- to kill people who even show a drawing of Muhammad [which has happened] this is not civilized.
If we [Christians, Jews- Muslims- etc.] are going to try and live in the world together- then we need to condemn these things.
Actually- if you want the right response- the way we need to move forward- just listen to Obama’s Cairo speech- that pretty much sums it up.
1907 IS THE GOSPEL REALLY THE ANSWER?
Of course today we remember those who died 11 years ago.
We pray for the families and friends.
I find it strange that I recently stumbled into some of the verses in Revelation- that deal with nations and systems that war against each other.
It’s almost unbelievable to realize that in the last presidential campaign- you had someone on the Repub platform- talking about the ‘real reason’ 9-11 happened.
I mean comedians got raked over the coals for this- and others fumbled and fell into a great trap by even wading on the water’s edge.
Ron Paul often spoke about the mindset of radical Islam
Paul was the libertarian candidate who ran on the Repub ticket.
He spoke about the mindset that led to the terror attack on 9-11.
Now- in no way do I justify anything like what happened.
But it is important to see the underlying grievance that the radical wing of Islam harbors.
We often hear that the reason for the attack was ‘they hate our freedom’.
Was that the reason?
If you actually read the writings of the radicals- they believe they are indeed in a ‘holy war’.
They see the encroachment of the West- our ‘values’ [last post] and our ‘occupation’ of their holy lands as the grievance.
If you think back- the first real attack against the west was the bombing of the Kobar towers in Saudi Arabia.
This was the first one [that I recall] that was a direct act of what we call Al Qaeda.
The movement started by Osama Bin laden.
They saw Saudi Arabia as their holy land- and the towers were the U.S. base in the land.
Okay- am I justifying the attack?
No- just want you to see the mindset.
Then- the attack on the World Trade center.
The radical mind believes that to hit the ‘occupier’ in her homeland is a justifiable response because we have been engaged- many times- in Arab/Muslim lands- militarily.
I had a talk with a friend the other day- we were discussing these issues.
I told my friend that Christianity- and Judaism- have had their own ‘reformation’ of sorts.
Both religions have come to a place where they see the separation of church and state- that is- they are able to distinguish between religious belief and acts of war.
Now- there are critics of Christianity who still accuse the church of wanting to have a theocracy [church ruled state].
But for the most part- those who believe this [reconstructionist’s] are far and few in between.
But- Islam has not yet had her ‘reformation’ moment.
Now- as a blogger who has Muslim, Jewish and Christian readers- my goal is not to offend anyone- nor to skirt the real issues.
There are many fine Muslim people- who do indeed reject the entire mindset of radical Islam.
But- in the actual debates that go in within the religion- there are many who still believe that force- along with reliogus expression- is acceptable.
Islam is not only a ‘religion’ per se- but it is also a way of government.
Now- like I said- during the history of the church- obviously the same thing happened.
I mean any person who studies the rise of Western civilization- the arts- science- history- I mean the church is the major player on the board- hands down.
But- today most Christians see their role as more of a spiritual one- yes- being active in politics- voting- yes- we do have a voice at the table.
But we don’t- for the most part- want to take up an armed resistance against the world.
So- those who adhere to radical Islam- they see their struggle- well much like the last post- a Che type of thing.
I think the future depends- not on us killing all the radicals- no- this can never be fully done.
The mindset lives on in the flowing generations.
No- the answer is in learning mutual respect for each other’s beliefs and cultures.
Now- I’m’ not saying ‘let’s try and understand the poor terrorist’.
But I am saying that we in the West do need to see the root cause of why terrorism happens.
In a little while I will be going to visit John David in the ICU.
John is the friend I have written about over the years.
He was a coke addict for many years- got clean about 2 years ago.
I have pictures of him and his brother on my face book site.
We were having a fellowship at the house and did the Lords Supper.
John had heart surgery yesterday- and I will be taking his brothers Hugh and Andy to see him.
The other day I found a few packets of seeds at the house- the type you plant in the vegetable garden.
Don- the street guy who maintains the garden at the mission- he asked me one day if I could get him some.
I mean he plants that garden from scratch [see the pics on face book].
I gave them to him- he was elated- over seeds!
One day- about 10 years ago now- I was sitting at the fire house- actually it was soon after 9-11.
The fire depts. were on high alert- we had things we were to watch out for- stuff that we never worried about before.
So one day- sitting at the station- may Captain says ‘hey John- go see what the Muslim wants’.
Sure enough- some guy- dressed for the part- was walking around the fire trucks.
This station was right by A&I university [now A&M].
So- we used to keep the doors open all day [not any more] and people could walk in if they wanted.
So I went outside- the guy was just checking all the emergency vehicles out.
He told me ‘I’m doing research for a school project’.
As I talked with him- we got into ‘religion’ and I covered the history Of Christians and Arabs.
I traced back to Abraham- went into the story of his sons [Arabs trace their roots to Abraham’s son Ishmael]
And when I was done- I told him the true purpose of God- to redeem all nations of the earth.
That God loves the Arab- the Persian [we often mistake Persians for Arabs].
That he loves all people- and he sent his Son to die for all of humanity.
To my surprise- he told me he has never- not once- heard this story.
His view of Christianity- the west- the entire mindset- was shaped by world events.
He did not distinguish between Christianity and the actual Govt. of the U.S.
He- like many others- view the entire ‘struggle’ as a struggle for who will ‘rule the world’.
In my time with him- I tried to show him a better way.
No- I am not advocating passivism.
I’m not saying if we simply try to understand the terrorist- the he will go away.
But I am saying- in some cases- these people have never really heard the message.
In some cases- like the Apostle Paul said ‘satan has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe’.
In some cases- the Good News [gospel] is really the answer.
1905 DID THE JEWS KILL CHRIST?
Kinda want to try and wrap up for the week- maybe one more post in the morning?
I posted some pics of the street guys yesterday- want to make a few comments.
I like taking the pics and posting them right when I’m with the guys- I’ll tell them ‘hey- right now your pics are going to the site’- they love it.
I also want to wrap up a few final points about the church- and the 2 extremes that she strayed into over the centuries.
In the last few posts we have been discussing the over emphasis on natural Israel- the promises of God- found in the Old Testament- concerning the restoration of the land- the re-building of the temple- stuff like that.
The church also has a sad history of anti Semitism- racism against Jewish people.
To our Catholic friends- the church has tried to deal with it in the last 30 years or so.
The present Pope- Benedict- who I do like [I have read his books] got into some trouble a couple of years ago.
It was a noble attempt to try and heal some long time divisions within the church.
It has been said when the Protestants disagree with something- they go out and start their own church.
When Catholics disagree- they start their own order.
I like that- funny- and true.
So- part of the Catholic divisions is the older type churches- the ones who rebelled against the noble reforms of Vatican 2 [The last church council- held between 1962-65].
Within the Catholic Church there are disagreements over what the council was trying to do.
Liberal Catholics believe the church was trying to trend into a more liberal institution.
Conservatives say that’s a misreading- that the church still held to her conservative roots- and was simply trying to be more Ecumenical.
Either way- one of the results was the more traditional type churches- sometimes called Tridentine [the ones who prefer the old Latin Mass].
These churches kind of split off from Rome and have been worshipping using the Latin mass [which was originally a violation of Vatican 2].
Vatican 2 said the Mass should now be done in the vernacular- the language of the people.
So- Benedict made a noble attempt to bridge this division- and he allowed for the Tridentine churches to do the Mass in Latin- and he also restored an old prayer- about the Jewish people- which simply said we pray for the conversion of Jews.
Okay- was this a big thing?
To simply say Christians are praying for the conversion of Jews- is that real bad?
In my mind- not a big thing.
Might it offend some of our Jewish friends?
But that’s the tradition of the church- to want people to come to belief in Christ.
But- because of the history of anti Semitism- this became a big thing.
‘How dare you pray for our conversion’ type thing.
So the church has had to grapple with how she looks at the Jewish people.
Historically- there were times of persecution of the Jews.
Most of us are familiar with the inquisitions.
The ones in Spain did ‘force’ the Jews to convert- and there were ‘inquiries’ made to see if the Jewish people really converted.
Some were put to death during this time.
During the protestant Reformation of the 16th century- out of Germany- which was Martin Luther’s home country.
There were anti Semitic writings penned by Luther.
Some of these writings were later used- in Germany- under Hitler- to justify anti Semitism.
Very sad history.
Now we have the ‘over emphasis’ [in my view] of the role of natural Israel- and the End Times [last couple of posts].
So- as you see- we have been to both sides of the aisle on this.
Why did anti Semitism play a role in the church?
Understand- we have bibles- that as Christians we accept as the Word of God.
There are also statements in our bibles- well- to be honest- might not have been written the same way- the same style- if we ‘re-wrote’ them today.
Bare with me a moment.
When the Mel Gibson’s movie came out- the Passion of the Christ- the criticism was he stuck very closely to the bible text- and it was indeed a violent crucifixion.
The writings of the apostle John specifically talk about the ‘Jews killing Jesus’.
There are other themes like this in our New Testament.
It’s not hard to see how these statements could lead to anti Semitism.
One of the things that the Pope recently clarified- which I absolutely agree with- is that when we read these things in our bibles.
We should not read them as saying ‘all Jews- of all times- are responsible for the death of Christ’.
In the bible story- the Jewish leaders conspired with the Roman govt. to ‘kill Christ’.
Many [all] of the original believers in the Messiah were indeed Jewish.
And the ‘anti Semitic’ statements in the New Testament were written by Jews- who were simply saying that they believed that some of their Jewish brothers were missing the boat by not accepting Jesus as the Messiah who was to come.
Okay- as you can see- we- the church- have a long history with this.
I would like to make one last comment before we close our talks on this.
For many years- as a bible teacher- writing- doing radio- etc.
It never dawned on me how these statements can indeed be offensive to our Jewish friends.
I mean say if you read ‘the Italians killed Christ’ or the Germans- etc.
That would indeed be problematic if you were trying to get your kids to read the bible.
The same thing with our references to the Arab world.
There are verses- in the Old Testament- that talk about Syria- Iraq [Babylon] and other Arab/Persian nations as the ‘enemies of God’.
So- when we use our bibles- in the modern day- it’s vital to understand that today- the kingdom of God is not about natural borders- or ethnic backgrounds.
It’s about Christ’s new kingdom- the kingdom of God.
All nations and races are welcome- we do not discriminate.
And we- as the church- do confess our sins against our Jewish friends- against our Arab friends- yes- we confess.
In the heated political environment of our day- the post 9-11 world- it’s hard to avoid animosity- and at times- hatred- towards others.
But we- as the people of God- should strive for forgiveness and unity- at least unity as people who live in a global society.
Yes- maybe we- as preachers especially- should re-think how we phrase things.
Yes- there are out and out statements in the bible about the ‘Jews killing Jesus’.
But in context- it would be wrong to put this on all Jews of all times- and if we ‘adjust’ the way we say these things- I think God would be well pleased.
1900 A LITTLE CROW?
I caught part of the Repub convention last night.
I haven’t been following it- but I found the coverage very interesting last night.
I have been a critic of MSNBC and Chris Matthews over the years.
But- to his credit- I thought he did a great job last night.
Why? Because he made the conservative points?
But he did indeed differ with the others and defended Jeb Bush who made the conservative argument about school vouchers.
Vouchers are funds that you could use to send your kid to the school of your choice.
The way it is supposed to work is if you’re a poor mom- maybe a single Black mother living in a tough inner city area.
You could apply for the voucher and send your son/daughter to a better school then she would normally have access to.
Now- there are those against this and for it- and like most things- if your hear one side only- well you begin to say ‘o- I see your point’.
Then you might hear the other side and say the same thing.
My point is Matthews did take the voucher side- and to the obvious dismay of his liberal panel [Sharpton, Maddow, etc.] he knew he was in the minority.
I also liked the view that Matthews and Sharpton took about Romney’s Mormonism.
They were consistent and said it is wrong to go after him on that.
I caught CNN and Fox- all in all- I was happy to see that their coverage- even though they all play sides at times- was pretty fair.
Why was I glad to see this?
Because whoever wins this election- the next president will have to try his best to govern a very divided nation.
And it will be hard- for either side- to do this if the losing side [whoever it be] simply spends the next 4 years trying to make the winner fail.
This last year I have criticized the president lots- and I have done the same with Bush in the past [mainly over the wars].
But there have been things that I credit Obama for.
As a big news buff- one of the geopolitical issues that came up was this Pakistani road that we used to get supplies to our troops fighting in the border region of Afghanistan/Pakistan.
We had an incident where we accidently bombed the wrongs guys- we killed a bunch of Pakistani troops- thinking they were Taliban.
Now- Pakistan has not been the best ally in this whole war in Afghanistan.
And make no mistakes about it- we buy their support with tons of money.
But- when we killed their troops- they had it.
They shut down this vital road for our supplies and refused to re open it unless that got an official apology.
They wanted the U.S. [Obama] to apologize during a campaign year- when the opposing side were accusing him of being weak in the world- and making apologies to other nations.
So- instead of apologizing- the U.S. spent millions of more dollars- every week [day?] flying and using other ways to get the support to our troops.
Now- the Pakistanis did indeed charge us lots for the use of the road- but these other options were much more expensive.
So what happened?
One week- after months of the stalemate- Hilary Clinton made the apology with the approval of Obama.
Yeah- he did the right thing- and that was that.
Now- he could have just spent the extra millions and not apologized.
But I’m sure he consulted with the military brass- and they gave him the frank advice that it would be better to get the road back.
He did the right thing- not the most expedient thing- not the thing that would help his election the most.
No- he did the right thing.
If Romney wins- or Obama gets re-elected- they will need the support of the people to do ‘the right thing’.
They will need to have some consensus- some middle ground- to fix the things that are really broken in this country.
And we won’t be able to do that if we continue to simply hate the other side.
I was very impressed with the cordial coverage that the networks gave to Romney.
And I trust they will do the same with the president’s convention.
Yeah- I must admit that Chris Matthews was a real news man last night.
Kudos’ to him and MSNBC [geez- I hate the taste of crow!]
This week I met John at the mission.
Maybe the last 2 weeks?
Anyway- when he first showed up he just looked like one of the new guys that shows up every so often.
You have people from all over that gravitate to the shore regions of the country- and we are one of those spots.
John was a little different- he had this cute Chewowa [sp?] dog- named Gizmo- and he is a ‘jolly’ type fella.
So- to some- they might paint John as gay- you know- loving on this little dog- jolly.
Now- if he were- I wouldn’t care- I mean I still be-friend people from all backgrounds- and I forgot to mention this in the post I did about race.
That a couple years back there was a nice Black kid- he came from a ministry background [family started churches and stuff all over the area].
One day I took him shopping- to the grocery store- we had a couple of other street guys.
Sometimes I’ll take the guys to the store and let them buy some stuff they need [on my debit card].
But Tracy basically food shopped.
Tracy is also gay.
It was quite expensive.
The other guys got mad ‘hey- John pays for this out of his pocket’.
Sometimes people think I have some type of ‘ministry fund’ and they might spend more than they need.
I just went with it- I was broke for the rest of the month- but what the heck.
So- just wanted to defend myself a little- being I do write on race issues- yet I believe in helping all types- even gay friends.
So- even if this new guy was gay- I don’t judge him.
But- as I talked with ‘jolly John’ I came to find out he’s not gay- but a widower.
John was a plumber for 35 years- lived in Arlington [Texas- the city where the Texas rangers come out of].
A few years ago his wife got real sick- and in October of last year she took her own life.
John always wanted to live near the ocean- he sold everything he had and spent the money coming to Corpus.
He got a job right away- working right by the mission for a mechanic shop.
Yesterday I took my van for an inspection- sure enough he was there.
So right off the bat I know John is different- lots of the guys have stories- but to put it bluntly- they don’t want to work.
This is a real problem for sure- and when you read all my posts defending the poor- don’t confuse that with thinking I’m defending able bodied people- who are not working.
No- I try to spend my money helping people who are not on the free programs- or who are really in need.
Yeah- I have given to those who I probably shouldn’t have- but all in all I am against guys just living off the free dole- when they need to work.
So- John has a good job- and he’s saving up for a cheap apartment.
He told me he’s living in the broken down car wash that’s attached to the mechanic shop.
For you local friends- he works at Fast Trax- in the Bluff- right by the HEB parking lot.
John sleeps there with his little dog- Gizmo [I’ll try and post some pics this morning?]
Yeah- John has an interesting story- a hard working man- who came upon hard times- and wound up ‘on the street’ at least for a little while.
It would be easy to look at John and judge him- I mean he is eating at the free mission [I never eat the free food by the way].
And he is a big boy- overweight- and admits it.
So- at first glance you could peg him as a freeloader who refuses to work.
When John told me about his wife taking her life- John cried.
I felt bad for him- he seems like a very nice guy.
As I sat in the shop waiting for my inspection- sure enough- his little dog Gizmo is chained up to a chair in the waiting area.
The poor baby is shaking- you know how those little pups shake- and I guess he sits by himself all day.
He’s just staring at the door where his ‘daddy’ walked thru- hoping he comes back.
Kinda sad story to be honest.
Yet John has this happy go lucky way about him- he laughs and jokes at the mission.
He lets his little puppy lay on him- he’s really an interesting guy.
John is one story- one friend- out of hundreds- maybe thousands of friends I have made over the years.
Yeah- there have been times where some of ‘my friends’ were people that others would not be around.
Dangerous type people.
Others are like John- just a good person who fell on bad times.
I have a verse posted here right behind me.
It says ‘she that tarried at home divided the spoils’.
It’s in the book of Psalms.
I posted it a few years ago- right behind the chair I’m sitting on right now while I blog.
To me it says there will be friends who read these posts- and maybe they will never see the John’s of the world.
Maybe they will live their lives as most people do.
Good lives- working- raising kids- things that are noble and good.
But to these friends- the verse I just quoted is very important.
It tells me that God intended for some of our ‘community’ to ‘stay at home and have a part’.
To you- most of you are women- don’t underestimate the need to pray for me and my friends.
I have gone thru the Gospel of Matthew- Acts- Romans and am in Corinthians right now.
Yes- I am a big bible reader- as well as a writer on all the other things.
The Apostle Paul was used by God- and in most [if not all?] of his writings- he says ‘please don’t forget to pray for me’.
For those who can- those who tarry at home- try and pray the ‘Our Father’ every day for me and my friends.
It might not seem much to you- but to be honest- I think it at times it has saved my life.
Thanks- from John- John- and oh yeah- little Gizmo.
1896 SIGNS OF THE TIMES
‘Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee- is burned up with fire’ Isaiah 64:11.
Yesterday I mentioned that I watched a couple of negative documentaries about Christianity- they were done from the extreme skeptic’s perspective.
In these types of shows they usually have a few Christians/preachers that they portray as idiots.
In some cases- we can’t help ourselves!
One of the scenes was this group of protestant Christians traveling to Israel on a holy land tour.
When they are at the site of the temple mount [a real big deal for certain protestants- called Dispensationalists].
The pastor is speaking- very loudly- and quoting Jesus from Matthew 24.
He says ‘Jesus said there would be no stone left upon another- he meant it- all these stones will come down’!
Now- I know he meant well- and it must have felt exhilarating for him to kind of be standing up for Jesus- but we all know that there is this huge gold mosque sitting right at the spot where the temple used to be.
And this is where- for some Protestants- the rubber meets the road.
The above verse comes from the Old Testament prophet- the people of God [Israel] were being judged- they lost their homeland and eventually their holy temple would be destroyed.
Over a period of time they would return to their land and the temple would be re built.
During the days of Jesus you had a 3rd temple- even though the 2nd rebuilt one was never destroyed- yet Herod [the father of king Herod whom we read about in the bible] would undergo this huge rebuilding project- and he turned the temple of Jesus day into this huge majestic place.
So- when the disciples were with Jesus one day [matt 24] they said ‘look at all these great buildings Jesus’.
And that’s when he gave the response ‘their will not be left one stone upon another that shall not be cast down’.
This event took place in the year AD 70- the Roman general Titus would sack Jerusalem and the temple was cast down- there was not ‘one stone left on another’ literally.
After the destruction- many went in and searched thru the rubble for the gold that melted and fell between the stones- they actually laid every stone bare during this process.
So- the actual words the minister quoted from Jesus- these words were not defending the glory of the temple- which in Christ’s day came to represent religion apart from God.
No- the words of Jesus were actually a rebuke to those who put too much emphasis on the temple itself [which just happened to be the camp that the above minister was in- ouch!]
Christians do have a problem with stuff like this- lots.
I also caught a few preaching shows over the past week- and many of them had the same theme.
One man was ranting against Muslims- he was quoting verses in the Bible that talk about avoiding the evil person.
I actually just posted on this a few weeks ago.
These verses come from the Apostle Paul’s pen- in his letter to the church at Corinth.
He was not saying to have no contact with unbelievers [or people of other faiths]- he was talking about ‘church members’ who were living in open sin.
I got into it the other day- don’t want to rehash it again.
The point was- even though this minister meant well- he was giving the opinion that Christians should have no peaceful dealings with Muslims- or any other religion for that matter.
Is this right?
The bible says we should live peaceably with all men.
In the Old Testament we read the story of Joseph.
He became the second most powerful figure in the land of Egypt- only Pharaoh was over him.
Joseph was living- and functioning- in the midst of the Egyptian people- who did indeed have different religious beliefs than Joseph.
Yet we read how Joseph earned great respect from the Egyptians- and when Joseph’s dad died [Jacob- who was named Israel] they respected the wishes of Joseph and even mourned with him.
Now- this is a great example of believers having friends- functioning in society- without purposefully offending people.
I do not claim to have perfect understanding about the end times- but I do see some major flaws with what most people think about when they hear ‘end times’.
Many Christians see a future restoration of the temple in Jerusalem.
They see a huge problem that the mosque sits on the temple site- and they have various scenarios to see the thing removed.
These same believers- all good people mind you- also see Jesus restoring the sacrificial system- and him ruling over Jerusalem- with the sacrifices taking place once again.
In the book of Hebrews- in our bibles- the writer says ‘those who continue the sacrificial system- after the crucifixion of Christ- are doing disgrace to the Cross of Christ.’
Theologically- the above end time’s scenario does much harm to the basic message of the Cross.
Geopolitically- it spells disaster.
1895- BUYER BEWARE!
We bought the Rocu thing the other day.
That’s the device that lets you watch movies on line.
You get a lot of real good stuff- I was surprised.
I was also surprised to see all the documentaries about religion and Christianity.
The ones from Netflix looked interesting- so I watched a couple.
All of the ones I saw were done from a skeptic’s point of view.
Now- as someone who writes on apologetics [the defense of the faith] I am familiar with these arguments against the faith.
But- if you are not familiar- these doc’s will shake your faith- for sure.
They are done from the perspective that Christianity basically copied the Greek myths of God and religion- they focus on the ‘similarities’ between Christianity and Greek [and other cultures] religions.
Okay- what was wrong- or deceptive?
First- this entire school of thought was popularized in the 19th century- from the Christian universities in Germany.
Yes- some good men- well meaning men [others not so good! Freud- etc] believed that in order for the faith to survive in this ‘brave new world’ [modernity- and the whole humanistic advance of man since the enlightenment].
That they had to re-fashion the faith and sort of bring it up to date with the times.
Men like Rudolph Bultman introduced the idea of ‘de mythologizing’ the bible.
So- these guys rejected all the supernatural elements of the bible- no more miracles- angels- demons- or resurrection!
Many people embraced this ‘new’ bold approach to the faith- and basically became theological liberals.
One of the reasons some of these men went down this road were covered in the above documentaries.
Okay- as I watched a couple of them- they had similar themes- and were also wrong in the same way.
They compared about 25 other religious myths- from other cultures- and they said these other religious myths all had a savior- a son of god- who had 12 disciples.
They said this Lamb of God died- was buried- and on the 3rd day rose again.
They said he did miracles- was born of a virgin- was called Lord and savior.
And they made it sound like this ‘story’- in complete form- was repeated many times before the Christians ‘picked it up’.
Wow- double wow.
Why are these documentaries dangerous?
First- I actually have read/studied in this field.
The similarities that they described in the doc’s were way overdone- they simply are not true.
That’s the first problem.
But- they did mix in some truth- with the false stuff.
Both of the documentaries I saw [it seems like there is one person- producer- behind the 2 I saw] did give an actual quote from a 2nd century Christian leader- Justin Martyr.
The quote is indeed real- Justin is known as one of the first Apologists of the church.
He defended the faith during a time when many enemies of the faith slandered the religion.
In one defense [out of many] he said that those who reject Christianity because we believe that a Divine son rose from the dead- that others also held the same type of belief in the pagan world.
He was referring to the god Jupiter and the stories that surround those who believed in him.
You also do find this same type of thing in the myth of Hercules.
Okay- so the skeptic was right then?
In the documentary- the skeptic actually gives the quote from Justin- and Justin says that just because these similarities did exist in other religions- before Christ- that this in no way means the Christian faith is false.
Justin said it was possible for satan to have ‘imitated’ what was really going to happen.
The skeptic mocked this argument from Justin- and went on to challenge the faith.
A few things.
First- it is possible that Justin was right.
This whole line of attack is not new [unless you never heard of it before- which is why I’m kinda surprised that Netflix has them in their lineup].
It goes all the way back to the writings of Gilgamesh.
These are writings that also have similarities to the things we find in the bible- yet they are not coming from the Christian perspective.
They contain a story about a flood [like the one in Genesis].
So- over time- skeptics have said ‘see- the bible must have copied these flood stories- because we find them in other cultures’.
I actually covered this before.
Let me give you the short version.
We- as Christians- do indeed believe the story of Noah [the flood].
Some debate whether it was a global event or local- I don’t want to get into that now.
But- if there was a huge event- say like a 911 plane attack on the world trade center.
Would you not expect to find that event- recorded in more than one culture?
Of course you would.
So the fact that other cultures have a flood event recorded too- this does not mean the Christians plagiarized the flood- no- it would be evidence that the flood really did happen.
Now- the similarities between a divine son who rose from the dead.
First- there ARE NOT 25 or so stories like this- with 12 disciples- raised on the 3rd day- and so on.
The producer of the doc was simply mislead- or outright lying.
We must remember that anything we find in Greek culture- which predated Christian ‘culture’ was also predated by Jewish culture.
That is to say that the story of Judaism comes before the Greek philosophers.
Are there any themes in the Jewish religion that speak about a Messiah who would come- die- and be the Messiah of all mankind?
So- you could argue that any similarities between Greek myth- and Christianity- are actually ‘copies’ taken from the Old Testament story.
That is- God himself gave us clues about the story of redemption- and these clues might have very well ‘seeped’ into the Greek culture- before Christ- and that’s why you might find similarities between the 2.
Okay- I could go on- but I think I made the point.
I was not mad that these documentaries were on net flix.
But I saw the danger in presenting one side like this- without giving the other view [which I just gave].
All in all- the Christian faith has more historical backing [like the many thousands of bible manuscripts that survived the early days] than any other religion or writings of any kind.
The documentaries made a couple of good points- things that were indeed true- but they had way too much mis information in them to be playing on such a huge venue.
Buyer [or watcher] beware!
1892- WHAT A DEAL!
Well I finally sold the Mustang last night [a car- not horse].
I put it on Craigslist for about a week- geez- too many calls.
People would ask for directions- I’d give them the address and directions- then they would call back ‘well- I don’t speak English too good [lots of Mexicans buy the cars from this area and sell them in Mexico] – I’m still in the parking lot ‘[Wal mart].
Okay- would could I do?
I told a few people ‘look- I gave you the address- directions- part of this project is you need to be able to get here- if you can’t complete this part of the ‘mission’ then I guess you won’t be buying the car brother’.
Yeah- they need that type of tough love.
So anyway it sold for 700.
That was a steal to be honest.
1998 mustang- runs good- does need a starter.
Another one was selling for 1500- with a blown motor!
Okay- let’s do another verse from the prophet.
‘In all their affliction he was afflicted- and the angel of his presence saved them’ Isaiah 63:9
If you read the entire chapter you get a scene of someone treading the Winepress.
I spoke about this a while back- the imagery of a Winepress- a place where you crush the grapes and make the wine- is used by the prophets in the bible.
Jesus himself uses the same imagery in the gospels.
Here you have God saying ‘I looked for a man- someone to do this mission- and I found no one- so my own arm brought salvation’.
It is important to note that in this chapter we see God [Jesus] stained with the blood of those who are being trampled at the Winepress.
In the book of Revelation we this same thing.
Many modern prophecy teachers [another pet peeve of mine by the way] have an end time scenario all figured out- they see these things thru the ‘lens’ of modern warfare- which nation should get which piece of land [Israel- Palestine- etc.]
But they fail to see how the New Testament focuses on all ethnic groups- Jews, Palestinians- etc- as being One New Man in Christ [Ephesians].
So- this image of the winepress sometimes is associated with a final battle of Armageddon scenario- that makes me cringe when I hear it proclaimed- in an ethnic way- from the media pulpits.
‘John- how should we take it then’?
Look- I’m not saying ‘my way’ is the only way- or the right way.
But when we read the bible- we must also take into consideration the broader themes of the love and grace of God- yes- judgment too- I don’t deny that- but the mercy of God must be there as well.
So- in this imagery of Jesus being stained with the blood of sinners- at a Winepress- the ‘place of pressing’ [like the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus started to bleed- pouring out his blood].
We can also see this as a type of the Cross- the place where the judgment and wrath of God was poured out- on Christ himself.
Maybe the blood that the ‘treader’ is soaked in- maybe its redemptive- just maybe.
But the actual verse I wanted to hit on was that ‘in all our affliction- he is afflicted’ [which by the way fits in more with what I just said].
In 1st Peter 4 we read that we are partakers of Christ’s suffering.
The apostle Paul said ‘I fill up the sufferings of Christ’.
They saw their trials as being redemptive in nature- that is they felt like the things they were going thru in life were for a higher purpose.
They did not view the Christian experience thru a lens that was primarily seeking self benefit.
Many today see ‘church’ and Christianity as a means of self improvement- often times you hear the same thing from the pulpits as you hear on the weekend self help infomercials [or the ‘how to get rich’ guys].
Is this a right view?
We are on the earth to glorify God- and to finish the work he gave us to do.
If part of the cost is suffering- then so be it.
These verses I have quoted show us in no uncertain terms that we are called- at times- to suffer.
As a student of all types of scholars- I must confess that our Catholic brothers and sisters get this right- much more often than Protestants.
So- those of you who have been tracking this journey- you have seen some flat tires- some wrecked trucks- and yeah- some up’s and downs.
I’m not saying all of this is equal to the sufferings of the early apostles- but in a small way- we can identify- and gain comfort- to know that these are not ‘strange trials’ these are things we all go thru in life.
I just wish we could take turns!
I’ve been wanting to write on this for a few weeks now- but the opportunity never arose.
Yesterday me and my wife were driving to church- and I noticed they put up a new sign on the front.
We attend the only ‘mega church’ in the area- and they do all the things that mega churches do.
So- this sign is like the big marquis things you see while driving down the highway- I mean its big.
As we were right by the sign- ready to turn into the parking lot- I said ‘hey look- Bethany’s face is on the sign’.
Bethany is my oldest daughter- she’s a school teacher- and she helps out a lot at the church.
So- my wife looked- and was shocked- she thought I meant that Bethany girl [Soul Surfer] who lost her leg in a surfing accident.
That Bethany was at the church a few weeks ago- telling her story.
But no- the one on the sign was our daughter.
What’s it to ya?
Many years ago when I first started writing little books and stuff- I told one of my kids that I put a story about the cat in a book.
Wow- OUR cats are gonna be famous!
The other day when I got my new camera phone- I started asking all the street guys to pose for pics- so I could put them on the web site.
Hey- were gonna be famous!
Yeah- it’s in our nature- I mean we want it- deep down inside- to be the top dog.
A few posts back I posted about this thing popping up in the minds of the disciples [post was called GREAT].
Jesus quickly rebuked the idea.
I was going thru the book of Acts the other day- and in chapter 9 we read the ‘famous’ account of the conversion of the apostle Paul.
Paul is on the original Damascus road and he’s blinded ‘by the light’ and after 3 days God sends a disciple named Ananias to restore his sight and baptize him.
Jesus tells Ananias ‘I will show Paul the things HE MUST SUFFER for my names sake’.
If we use the criteria of the modern preaching of our day- we might say to Jesus [or Ananias].
‘Don’t listen to negative confessions- Jesus talking this way will bring you down’.
‘If you hang out too much with people who talk like this- you know- suffering stuff- then it will affect you’.
Yet- Jesus was simply telling the truth- that in order to be a true disciple- you must bear your cross.
This wasn’t a ‘negative confession’ or some type of thing that was denying our ‘covenant rights’.
It was simply teaching- from JESUS- about the cost of discipleship- nothing more- or less.
I have spent many years reading/learning from many different camps.
And verses like this- or the one in chapter 7 where Stephen is martyred for the faith.
These verses didn’t seem to fit in with the modern message of success.
I mean we view success as not suffering- or not being killed for the faith!
Yet- success in the kingdom is different than the world.
If we want to find our lives- we must lose them.
If we want to be first [fame] we must be last- the servant of all.
These are the things that Jesus taught.
I even remember how some of the teachers would do their best to say that the suffering Jesus spoke about was not ‘real’ suffering.
Some said it was the affliction you go thru when you become rich- and then when the other Christians [like me] teach different- then you ‘suffer’ because you are rich- and people talk about you.
What about Stephen?
It doesn’t seem like that would fit his case- I mean the guy was killed for Christ.
Some taught that Stephen DID NOT HAVE TO DIE.
If he chose to believe- and have faith- he would have been delivered- but it was his choice- or lack of faith that brought him to martyrdom
I could go on- but why?
Yeah- I was glad to see my daughters face on the big screen- and it’s okay that she was on it.
But the faith is not about fame.
When Jesus said ‘let your light shine before men’.
He was not talking about talents- singing- preaching- etc.
If you finish the verse he said ‘so they may see your GOOD WORKS and glorify your Father in heaven’.
Once again- the good works of charity- giving to the poor- laying your rights down for the benefit of others.
That’s ‘the light’.
I woke up early yesterday- prayed and blogged.
Then I went food shopping around 5:30 or so.
I like going early before the crowds get there.
Then I took one of my weekly drives around the area.
I drove over the JFK causeway bridge to the Island- took some pics.
Took the ride around the City of Corpus and drove thru Cal Allen- Robstown and back past the airport.
I’ll try and post the pics this morning or tonight.
A few weeks ago our city started stepping up the code enforcement for various stuff.
Lots of people park their cars on the grass- or let the grass grow too long- stuff like that.
The sub-division I live in is nice- because of that we get lots of solicitors- selling all types of stuff.
They think we must be rich because we live in a nice spot.
Yeah- my home is close to the bay- and the Gulf of Mexico.
But I bought it years ago- at around 60,000- I got it under the real value.
I used to buy and rent houses- so I knew how to spot a deal- and that’s how I got this house.
It’s worth at least double now- but as a retired firefighter- I am not rich.
Anyway- we get the snake oil salesman here all the time.
So- when the city stepped up the code enforcement- my neighbor told me that one of the ‘enforcers’ was asking about my mustang in the drive way.
I was like ‘what the heck are they asking about the car for’.
It’s parked on the grass- but it’s not the ‘yard’.
Lots of the homes here have an area for RV’s or boats- and my house has a spot with the double gate- that people park their boats and stuff in.
So the mustang sits in a parking spot in front of the double gate.
Anyway I was like ‘why don’t they worry about all the door knockers coming around all the time- I mean every week I have people trying to sell me stuff’.
So- as my nature is- I sent an email to the mayor- and yeah- I let him have it!
So- the next day or so I figured let me get the car ready for sale.
When my girls got their drivers licenses we bought them all their first cars.
This mustang- 1998- is a nice car- we bought it for Becky about 10 years ago- and then gave it to Debbie [my youngest].
They all have their own cars now- so I have the mustang here- with the van- my wife’s car, my truck- and my classic 66 mustang in the garage [and Christina’s car too- my daughter].
So- I do need to sell the car.
Plus- the morning I was going to work on it- my wife came home later that day and said ‘your truck has a flat’.
Darn it- I have to fix the flat and mess with the car.
So- I get the car ready for sale and tell my daughter to call her friend and let her know I’m selling it- the girl had stopped by a few times to ask.
So- the girl comes over with her dad and boyfriend- she wants the car- but will ‘come up with the money’ on August 9th.
So- I told them ‘well- I’m still gonna list it on Craig’s list- and keep the for sale sign on it’.
They tell me they will come back and put a down payment that night- they beg me to not list it.
So- what the heck- I told the girl ‘okay- don’t worry about the down payment- just come back in 10 days and I’ll hold it for you’.
So- after waiting for them all day- they never show.
I was mad because I had a few other people who wanted the car- and I told them it was sold.
So- after stewing a while- I’m catching the local news- and seeing all the stories of the code enforcement.
Which was what started this whole thing.
And I see some lady crying- ‘I’m an old disabled woman- and your here threatening me with a fine over some weeds’!
Yeah- the local news media are all over it.
So- I’m watching it- identifying with her pain ‘yeah- and what about all the darn solicitors who come by my house every week- why don’t you do something about them- instead of worrying about my daughters car in the driveway!’
All of a sudden I hear a knock on the door- when the girl who wanted to by the car came by- for some reason she knocks- I mean I do have a doorbell.
So I thought ‘well- maybe the day won’t be that bad after all’.
I rush to the door- and there are 2 people walking away.
Hmm- doesn’t look like them?
‘Can I help you’?
They go into this long story- there sister died of breast cancer [last night mind you].
And they’re out selling some stuff to raise money for the funeral.
Yeah- more solicitors.
Okay- I am up to my ears with these people.
So- I told them ‘I’m busy man’ and yeah- I made sure the door shut real good- you know- some people call that ‘slamming’.
All in all- what else can go wrong?
My wife walks in the door- she says ‘your truck has another flat’.
I kid you not [solicitor’s revenge?]
So- the chapter for the week was Exodus 16.
It’s the story of God’s people in the wilderness.
They are complaining about Moses taking them out of Egypt and bringing them into this wilderness place.
They said ‘why didn’t you let us stay in Egypt- we had all the food in the world- now we are starving out here’.
So God gave them a miracle- he rained bread from heaven.
In the morning when the people arose- there was this bread type wafer on the ground.
When they saw it- they said ‘what is it’- or the word- Manna- which means the same thing.
And Moses said ‘this is the bread that God gives to you- you are to eat it’.
I find it funny- they were used to the gluttony of Egypt- stuffing themselves to the brim- even though they were in bondage- they were slaves in Egypt.
Yet- God has freed them- and he is giving them food- maybe it doesn’t taste as good- but it will sustain them- it’s what they need to finish the mission- but they are not used to it.
See- they developed an appetite for ‘the abundance’ of Egypt- they were hooked on getting ‘all you can get- the God of more than enough’.
Yet- the real God said ‘this is what you need- it might look strange right now- but trust me- this is the bread I am giving you’.
The last few months- for whatever reason- I have been hitting on the themes of carrying our cross- denying ourselves- living for God- not cash.
All themes that I have spoken about lots over the years.
Yet- for some reason- I felt the lord wanted me to go over them again.
It often takes time to see this stuff- we- in the modern church- have been fed a ‘buffet’ of teaching that says ‘stuff yourselves to the full- get all you can- eat until it comes out your nose’.
And God says ‘look- this Manna- this ‘new’ bread- yeah- it might be strange at first- you might say ‘what is this’- but this is what you need’.
Sometimes we get caught up in Egypt- we don’t even realize we are slaves- we get used to it.
The apostle Paul wrote about his credentials- he said he was beaten- stranded- stressed out- people talked about him- he ran out of resources- he was hungry at times- he gave a long list of things that would seem to contradict the ‘abundance mentality’.
Preachers today actually take verses- sentences- from his letters- and they teach the opposite of what he said.
They actually develop entire systems of thought- that go against the actual experiences of the apostle.
Where are you today?
Is the car still for sale- is the tire flat [mine is!]
Don’t judge things by stuff like this- sometimes we get the things that we need- the ‘Manna’ often looks strange at first- we have been fed the Egyptian buffet for so long- we don’t even recognize the real food when it comes.
[you can find more leadership posts in the February posts]