Saturday, May 31, 2008


I have been trying to help and encourage people more lately, especially in the work place. You don't have to bring people to church to get them help. You can encourage them and help them right where they're at. A lot of people won't even step foot into a church. For good reason a lot of the time too. The church is us, the Christ Followers, not a building or a service.

I am also a lot more relaxed without having to stress out about being "at church" for something. In the work place there were some good friends who were struggling with their marriages. I don't even know exactly how the topic came up. I just noticed something in these individuals and could tell they were struggling with something because of their moods. They opened up. I offered some encouragement, some stories of how Patty and I got through our struggles, and told them I would pray for them. I think that one marriage is still struggling a bit, but the other one has taken a turn for the better.

I was also able to help a much younger staff member through a difficult time they were having with another person in the office. I am the union steward, so I definitely am in a position where people come to me when there are problems in the office. It allows me an opportunity to share with folks and encourage them. I was told by one person that I was a true friend and was a "true christian in every sense of the word." Their words, not mine. I don't really like the word Christian though because of the negative connotation it has to those who don't follow Christ. I prefer to be called a Follower of Christ.

I was talking with a youth pastor recently who said that he enjoyed just hanging out with the kids more than he enjoyed teaching them on a Sunday morning or at a midweek youth service. This is where real ministry happens.

What it boils down to for me is to "do the stuff". Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything else is minor. You don't have to live in the bondage that is legalism and a list of rules of do's and dont's. Let God do the work in people and love them right where they're at. It has nothing to do with religion, doctrine, going to church, yada yada yada.

I will be heading to Kansas City for a work related class next week. I fly out Monday and return Friday evening. There is an old Air Force buddy of mine that will be in the same class. The last time I saw him was about 8 or 9 years ago at a class in Kansas City. Prior to that, I had not seen him since 1986. Let's just say that the last time I saw him, I was still drinking. As a matter of fact, the night before our last day of class 8 or 9 years ago, we went out drinking. I don't really remember much of the night because I drank very heavily that night. The next day in class was miserable. I remember that day because of how hungover I was. Anyhow...we have a friend in common that we both knew in the Air Force back in 1986. He was even a heavier drinker than myself. Not too long ago he was told to quit drinking or he was going to die. The friend I am going to see next week knew that I had quit drinking and called me for some advice. I gave him some and the last I heard was that our friend is doing better now. I'm sure I will get caught up on his situation next week. It will be great for my friend to see the "sober me." He's a much better guy than the drunk one I used to be.

My brother Carl and his family live in the Kansas City area. I hope to go out to dinner with them one night while I am there.

BTW...I finished the book "Oh Shit! It's Jesus!-the relevance of Jesus without all the religious crap" by Steve Hughes. It was a very short book that I read in two sittings. Here is an excerpt from chapter 1 "I know other Christians, but you're different"
How the "church" responds to people in need determines in some measure how American society perceives Jesus and how individuals respond to Jesus. Unfortunately, many people only experience hypocrisy and hatred coming from the church.

Some, maybe you, think of Christians as people who are part of the "right-wing conservative hate group" or an archaic organized religion imposing their unrealistic morality upon society. We could discuss those issues and I would actually love to, but now I want you to know that many Christians and churches are not like that. They are responding to situations of pain and tragedy by loving and serving people like Jesus did. They care about the community of humanity, the personal struggles of individuals, and provide substantive assistance to their neighbors.

Individual followers of Christ can be like Jesus and love those who are not loved by others in a society. There are numerous examples of this in Christian history - Saint Patrick in Ireland, father Damien on a Hawaiian leper island, and Mother Teresa in Calcutta to name a few. When you see people love and care for one another, you are actually catching a glimpse of Jesus.

If you don't accept or understand the whole Jesus thing right now, I hope that you can become friends with a follower of Christ who is striving to be like Jesus. In doing so you can catch a glimpse of and even touch the invisible and tangible God that Jesus followers trust their lives to. Being like Jesus is what makes followers of Christ different from the Christians you know.

If you're not a Christian, you may have had some negative experiences with Christians. They may have tried to convert you and slammed you with Bible verses about how "evil and sinful" you are. You may have seen media accounts of so-called "Christians" protesting and shouting ugly slurs against homosexuals or other groups.

You may be dechurched. You attended church at one time, but then someone said or did something hurtful. We avoid pain, so you left the church. It saddens me if that has been your only exposure to the church or Christians.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is turned off by Christianity. You can get it at

I will take a break from blogging for a week since I will be in Kansas City. I'll blog next weekend about my week. Until then, encourage someone if you can. Be kind to someone.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Romans 12:3-5 (The Message)

3I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

4-6In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Matthew 16

Some Bad Yeast

1-4 Some Pharisees and Sadducees were on him again, pressing him to prove himself to them. He told them, "You have a saying that goes, 'Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.' You find it easy enough to forecast the weather—why can't you read the signs of the times? An evil and wanton generation is always wanting signs and wonders. The only sign you'll get is the Jonah sign." Then he turned on his heel and walked away.

5-6On their way to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring along bread. In the meantime, Jesus said to them, "Keep a sharp eye out for Pharisee-Sadducee yeast."

7-12Thinking he was scolding them for forgetting bread, they discussed in whispers what to do. Jesus knew what they were doing and said, "Why all these worried whispers about forgetting the bread? Runt believers! Haven't you caught on yet? Don't you remember the five loaves of bread and the five thousand people, and how many baskets of fragments you picked up? Or the seven loaves that fed four thousand, and how many baskets of leftovers you collected? Haven't you realized yet that bread isn't the problem? The problem is yeast, Pharisee-Sadducee yeast." Then they got it: that he wasn't concerned about eating, but teaching—the Pharisee-Sadducee kind of teaching.

One aspect of serving others is listening to the call within to express your gifts—those talents you have that make you feel infinite when you are doing them. When we express those gifts, the Holy Spirit works through us in ways we may never know directly, touching the lives, hearts, and minds of others.

- Joanna Bates
Environmental scientist, dancer, and writer


Does this title shock you? It did me at first. But then I could see the religious leaders of the day back then saying this exact thing when they saw Jesus coming. I found this on the Ooze website written by A. Parker. Oh Shit! It's Jesus I did order the book. But I will not comment any further until I read it. I should have it by this weekend. Peace!

Many people will find it hard to get past the title of Steve Hughes’ book, Oh Shit! It's Jesus! But for the spiritually wounded who have been told that the words "Shit" and "Jesus" could never exist in the same phrase, this book is a breath of fresh air.

Through life experiences and paraphrased Gospel accounts that he calls "Jesus Stories," Hughes reveals a very earthy and genuine Savior, who was deeply concerned with healing the wounds inflicted by the religious leaders. And Hughes seeks to continue that work in this book, addressing those still holding their religion-inflicted wounds with the hope of a Jesus who was not only outside of the religious system, but who fought against it. Often too condemning of the modern religious leaders, Hughes also fights the system. He does this by venturing into common areas of contention and revealing his most uncommon viewpoints about evolution, women’s rights, the Bible, Jodie Foster, the afterlife, and much more, all seen through the lens of his occasionally foggy but well-intentioned Jesus Stories.

Still unable to get past the title? Hughes supposes the phrase, "Oh shit! It’s Jesus!" to have been frequently found on the lips of two groups of people in Jesus’ life. The first are His disciples, blue-collar workers, unschooled in religious games, but filled with sheer delight to see their friend. The second are the religious leaders, who hated to see Him coming, knowing that He was an affront to their power.

As the wounded and even the angry turn the title page aside, and the book is opened, a sympathetic voice is found, Jesus Stories are told, and Hughes is there with all of his unconventional, irreligious ideas, even going so far as to offer his email address at the end of each chapter. And he’s hoping that the wounded who are accustomed to disdainfully murmuring, "Oh shit, it’s Jesus," will come to a place where they can cry with great joy, "Oh shit! It’s Jesus!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. When we do it knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, destructively, it is a desecration.

- Wendell Berry
The Gift of Good Land

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Aces High - Iron Maiden Live Phoenix, AZ 5-26-2008

Oh well, I posted a clip anyhow. Sound is not good, but you get the idea of the crowd and the opening of the show.

Recap of an evening with Iron Maiden

We picked Gary and Toria up at 4 o'clock and headed to On the Border for mexican food. Great food and the girls had margaritas.

We arrived at Cricket Wireless Pavilion at about 6:30. We roamed around a bit checking out the merchandise which was very pricey. We then found our way to our seats which were dead center and back aways. Great seats actually. I think the sound quality is much better when you are farther back. I have been up front for some shows and the mix is not that good up front.

The place was only about half full when Lauren Harris, daughter of Iron Maidens bass player Steve Harris, opened the show promptly at 7:30. Nothing to write home about. She was not that great of a singer but I did enjoy the lead guitarist who was very good. Folks were streaming in during her half hour set. We all hit the bathroom afterwards and by the time we got back the place was full, including the lawn.

Maiden hit the stage at 8:30 and played a 2 hour set. The sound mix was awesome and the boys were in great form. The crowd was very well behaved on this evening.

The weather was perfect, about 75 degrees when we got there and in the upper 60's by the time it was over with a light breeze. Here is a review written by Larry Rodgers from the AZ Republic and also a slideshow of some photos of the boys. I found some youtube videos of the show, but the sound quality was awful so I didn't even bother posting them.

Maiden Concert Review

Slideshow of Maiden concert

Monday, May 26, 2008

aces high

I found the setlist from the Iron Maiden show in San Antonio on the 21st. And this is the song that they open the show with.

Iron Maiden - Run To The Hills (Live at Ullevi)

It's Time! The day has arrived. This evening, at approximately 9 pm, Iron Maiden will hit the stage at Cricket Pavilion in Phoenix AZ with 20,000 rabid fans waiting to have their eardrums blasted.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Class of 2008

Being former youth pastors, Patty and I get invited to a lot of graduation parties. We attended one last night. We attended a church here for over 10 years, of which the last 2 we lead the youth. I remember the young gentleman that graduated last week as sort of a problem child when he was younger. I had him in my class when he was younger and always ended up taking him out to his parents because he was so disruptive.

He grew up into an outstanding young man. It was an honor to be invited to his party. We also saw folks that attended this church that we had not seen in quite sometime. Out of all of the people we saw and caught up with, there was only 1 family that still remains at that church. I had blogged about it not long after we left and I was very bitter about what we had gone through. Apparently, we were not the only ones that were treated poorly as I found out last night.

So to the Class of 2008...congratulations and enjoy the journey that is life. May God's Grace, Peace and Blessing be upon you.


Friday, May 23, 2008

A Christianity Worth Believing

I just started reading a book that just came out by Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis. The book is titled A Christianity Worth Believing - Hope-filled, Open-armed, Alive-and-Well Faith For The Left Out, Left Behind, and Let Down in Us All.

Here is a little tidbit from Chapter 6...

So much of what I've come to believe about God and humanity and Jesus and the way we are to live comes from the Bible. For me, it is a living thing. It is a member of my community and a vital source of wisdom and truth. But it's rarely used that way. Which is why I often cringe when I hear someone getting ready to use the Bible.

In my years of being a Christian, I have witnessed the most brutal fights over the Bible. I know families where some members no longer speak to one another because of disagreements over the Bible. I have heard stories of people losing their jobs because they disagree with someone about a biblical principle. Entire denominations have split over disagreements about the "proper" interpretation of the Bible. I have witnessed people saying and doing henious things with the justification that the Bible made them do it.

I lost me

Came across an excellent post today by Jim Palmer where he posted the answers to these questions from a previous post...

i’m meeting with a group of Christian leaders on June 13 for an event in Nashville called, Connecting with the Spiritual Interest of Non-Religious people. i wanted to ask for some help. if you’re inclined, would you mind writing a brief (around 2-3 paragraph) answer to the following questions. just pick one. be as honest as possible but it’s not meant to be an invitation to t-off on others or an outlet to vent everything that ails you. pick one of the following questions or fill-in-the-blank answers…
1. I left organized church because…
2. Is following Christ the same as being a “Christian”?
3. For me, religious detox has involved…
4. The main way I feel judged by or don’t feel like I fit with most “Christians” is…
5. What’s most important to me now about my relationship with God is…
6. How was I most hurt or wounded through my involvement with organized religion?

i appreciate everyone who responded to the previous post, and it’s still open for others to respond and continue the conversations started there. below is a sort of sampling of some of the responses.

“Overall, I have to say that I lost my individuality through my experience with organized religion…. I felt “forced” to fit in, to fit some type of mold or shape or way to be. I joined group after group looking for acceptance… I changed my appearance, my language, even some of the things I enjoyed I gave up in order to fit in. I lost me in the process, the real me. That has damaged me more than anything. Now I’m trying to find the real me.”
“I was and Evangelical for 27 years of my life. What I got most out of church was: read and pray every morning, go to church every Sunday and Wednesday, tithe (one church wanted a tithe of my student loans), be republican, it’s okay to joke about gays, liberals, and Muslims, Harry Potter is bad, but magic in Narnia is good, alcohol is bad, sex is bad, woman are inferior to men, the bible is just doctrine and theology, etc.”
“I learned intolerance at church. Church insisted that only THIS church has the right answers, and that any other church, even another Christian church, is to be avoided because they don’t have the whole Truth. Church taught me to be prejudiced. I learned at church that women are lesser beings than men, that only men were capable of teaching, leading or making important decisions. At church, I learned that God loves me less because I’m female. Organized Christianity insisted that I am a filthy, stinking, horrible, sinful person deserving of Hell. I’m less than worthless, and knowing so is a godly attribute. Church taught me to despise myself and be afraid of God. In church, I learned that a grand performance as the ultimate Christian is preferable to an honest confession of failure, and that the honest, broken people are shunned, gossiped of, and never forgiven.”
“Through a lot of thinking and reflection I have come to realize that the times I felt closest to God were not through all by business and conscious effort on my part but just the opposite. It was in the quiet still moments. It was while driving in my car or standing in line at at the check out counter. It was while staring at tree and seeing its branches move by an unseen force. It is in the quiet enjoyable moments and sometimes even in the daily mundane moments that I find myself growing closer and more aware of God. There is no magic formula to use or class to take. All I need to do is be open to Him and be His Love wherever I am.”
“For me, religious detox has involve a LONG, drawn out, painful, excruciating, lonely, heartbreaking, freeing, exhilarating, sometimes mind boggling, angry, happy, sad time in my life. It is confusing at times, totally clear at times. I mostly think I’m losing my mind. Unlearning everything I “learned” in the last ten years.”
When I really became honest with myself, I realized that my involvement with organized religion comprised of two main things – trying to figure out what the rules to be accepted were, and trying in futility to obey these rules. As much as I heard the popular rhetoric, “it’s about relationship, not rules” I realized that this was, for the most part, just talk. It was about rules, always was, always will be. This is the crux of religion. Yeah, on the surface, it did not seem this way. The last organized church I was part of regularly had a very casual and dress down style. It was not uncommon to see people coming to church in shorts and flip flops on the Saturday evening service that I attended, and the praise team usually incorporated secular songs that could have a spiritual interpretation into their routine. But after I got really involved in the church, I realized that there were some who were more acceptable than others….The straw that broke the camel’s back for me, however, came when I opened up to an influential church member about some personal struggles in my life…I have struggled with an addiction to porn for some time now and I know it is wrong. I have done everything in my power to rid myself of this addiction from prayer to Bible study, group sessions therapy, support groups, and even demon deliverance services. But I was given the added implication by this influential church member that I struggled because I was not dedicated enough to God, not persistent enough, not faithful enough.”
“I was taught that this God who loved me demanded perfection and nothing short of perfection could please him. Since I could not be perfect, he would accept Jesus’ perfection in my place. Since I deserved to be killed and then eternally tortured, he’d take Jesus in my place for that, too. He could only bear to look upon me if he saw me wrapped up in Jesus’ bloody body. I get the image of a wolf literally wrapped in a sheep’s carcass when I think of those days.
Serving this type of perfectionist and schizophrenic God made me fearful, demanding and judgmental myself. I knew that even my love for him was a sham because how can you love a monster who creates a helpless, sinful creature then tortures it for being exactly what he created it to be? How can you love in “free will” someone who says “Love me or I’ll send you to hell for eternity.” How others around me could love this god made me feel inferior and evil. I knew that even though I had done the right things, said the prayer, gotten baptized, even spoke in tongues that I hadn’t really appeased him because I could never truly love him, only fear him.”
That is how I was most hurt by organized religion. Organized religion presented me with the picture of a schizophrenic, perfectionist, masochistic God and demanded that I love an unlovable tyrant.”
“Leaving the church and more recently, just giving up on the whole damn thing. I am now an open minded agnostic vs. a liberal minded Christ follower. I still think Love is the most important thing but I don’t know if God and Love are the same.”
“I just got tired of wearing the ‘Christian mask’. Sick of it, actually. I grew up in a conservative evangelical household where we read the Bible, went to church on Sunday and I attended the youth group. We were all expected to talk the same, pray the same, interpret scripture the same, and above all else, vote the same. It was more like we were members of some spiritually exclusive club. Yet I experienced deep loneliness. As my disconnect grew, I started to look outside organized religion and evangelical settings for some answers. I just wanted to be emotionally whole, but when I brought my issues up I was told to read more scripture. When my father found out I was looking for answers elsewhere, he told me I was going to Hell if I believed anything other than how I was raised (a nice conversation starter, huh?). Anyway, that was the day I left the institutional church and it became the first day of Freedom. I’ve never looked back. I don’t hold grudges against other Christians but my crap-detector goes off immediately when I meet anyone who’s wearing the ‘Christian mask’. I consider myself a follower of the teachings of Jesus and I strive to be like Him. The term ‘Christian’ carries too much baggage for me.”
“I’ve had many people question my “Christianity” over the past few years because my ideas don’t fit into their boxes. So to me, being a Christian has nothing to do with doctrines, even beliefs about Jesus himself. Whether or not somebody believes he was just a dude, was God, or didn’t even exist at all doesn’t matter to me. I’m more interested in following the recorded faith of Jesus, rather than the faith about Jesus.”
“Religious detox over all has been lonely as I am leaving much of my illusional security I collect over the past 30 plus years. I am developing my own personal life with Jesus and has little of the clichés’ and patterning that I so easily embraced. I kinda like it!!

Comments or answer the questions yourself? Feel free. I'd like to hear what others think about this topic.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend folks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark (Live @ Rock In Rio 2001)

Only 4 more days!

RE: Tough Times

I posted a few days ago about a couple I know that are going through a really rough patch in their marriage. I just wanted to give an update. And it's a good one too. They are not giving up and are going to work through it. Just pray that God will bless them both.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

QUOTE: “Ten years ago, the question was, why are Gen-Xers dropping out of church? [So we] created this kind of safe space for people to talk. Now what’s happened is all of these affiliated groups are forming—Presby-mergent, Anglo-mergent. ... A Catholic network is forming. ... Nobody had a master strategy for this. That creates weaknesses as well as strengths. It means you don’t have anybody calling the shots and it means that things happen in a somewhat haphazard way. And I think there’s a huge range of responses. ... Among evangelicals you have people who are not doing any theological rethinking at all. The theology that they inherited, they’re staying with 100%. They’re trying to do sort of methodological innovation (in styles of worship). And my personal feeling is that’s great. Those’ll be steps in a good direction. ... I’m not a purist about anything. I think it’s all good. We’re all trying to stumble along and take some steps in the right direction. Others of us are asking theological questions and that’s always messy.” —emerging church leader Brian McLaren, on the changes within the movement in the last decade [, 5/13/08]

Pastor preaches recovery from alcoholism, addictions

An awesome story about a pastor that holds recovery worship services every Sunday morning and how his outreach has touched the surrounding area. Check it out here.

Diplomacy = Hitler Appeaser?

I have been following this story closely the past few days. Here is an article written by Gareth Higgins that was on the God's Politics Blog. I agree with what Gareth is saying here.

President Bush's remarks, made last week in Israel, suggesting that anyone who wishes to talk with a violent enemy is the contemporary equivalent of a Hitler appeaser, are so wide of the mark, patronizing, and simply untrue that they must be challenged.

The fact that he used the emotive context of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations as the background for these comments is an abuse of an already misused people. And implying that Sen. Obama wishes to appease terrorism is not only factually inaccurate, but morally troubling.

Why? Because this is to suggest that the only two options available to "good people" in responding to terror are to terrorise the terrorisers, or to cower in fear or denial. This has never been true. It does not become the president of the United States, a self-affirming follower of Jesus, to endorse the sport of violent revenge and the belief that there are certain people in the world who are so irredeemable that we should not talk to them. This aside, it is not politically efficient to suggest that terrorism can only be defeated by beating its proponents down.

I live in a place -- Northern Ireland -- where the government is now stewarded by two parties, both of whom could be caricatured as representing ancient warrior traditions. Their most recent manifestation, in the form of Irish Republican terrorism (the IRA) and militant Protestant fundamentalism, contributed to the horrors of my childhood, where political murder was a near-daily occurrence. After decades of terror, we did exactly what President Bush denounced last week -- we negotiated with each other and arrived at a settlement that sees former terrorist leaders share political power with those who consider themselves to be their victims. Successive U.S. administrations did not condemn this. In fact, the negotiations between terrorist leaders and constitutional democrats were chaired by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. President Bush has visited Northern Ireland to endorse the process. He has shaken the hands of former terrorist leaders. He made a video appearance at an investment conference in Belfast two weeks ago, encouraging U.S. businesses to set up shop here and to work with, among others, the current representatives of the organizations responsible for our violent conflict.

His suggestion, therefore, that anyone who wishes to sit down and talk with terrorists is automatically the moral and political equivalent of a Hitler appeaser is not only historically false (in that we know for a fact that such negotiation at least sometimes actually does produce peace), but so absurdly detached from the reality of his own administration's practices that it suggests either a malevolent and politically expedient attention-grabbing propaganda opportunity, or that President Bush simply does not know the truth about Irish politics.

I imagine I will be criticized on at least two fronts for writing this. One, that I am singling out President Bush for no reason other than my personal antipathy toward him. To that I respond with the following: I believe President Bush is a human being in need of redemption, like the rest of us. I do not share much of his politics, but I have been willing to offer praise when he has made good decisions, such as his progressive engagement with HIV/AIDs in Africa. I also believe that his predecessor made terrible errors of judgment regarding violent conflict, not least in Rwanda, and might have been likely to make similar remarks had he been in office and in Israel last week. I hope I would have had the integrity to write this article about President Clinton were he seeking to make the same dishonest political capital.

The second criticism is more nuanced -- the suggestion that the Northern Ireland conflict is not comparable to that in the Middle East. To which I can only reply that the sectarian political divisions on this island have lasted for at least 800 years, and that the violence has at times been at least as barbaric as anything done by Hamas or al Qaeda. I think the real reason that people don't consider my home conflict comparable to others is quite simply racist: They think that Northern Irish Christians are more capable of persuasion than Middle Eastern Muslims. Or, more practically, they don't want to acknowledge that the distasteful and difficult journey traveled in Ireland may have broken the path that the rest of us need to travel too.

What is even more likely, President Bush's remarks mask what might be called another inconvenient truth. When historians uncover the background story to this moment in international relations, they will discover one of two possible facts -- either that the Bush administration is already secretly negotiating with terrorists, or that they really do believe their own propaganda. British military intelligence had a secret back channel to the IRA from at least the early 1970s. Without this, alongside the contribution of politicians, business and church leaders, and other forces, there would be no peace in Ireland today. It would be unthinkable if the U.S. authorities are not already, in some sense, talking to representatives of Hamas, Iran, North Korea, Hugo Chavez, Raoul Castro, and all the other members of whatever "axis of evil" we are told is most threatening at present. For to be honest, if the Bush administration is not engaged in dialogue with such as these, President Bush is both failing to heed the lessons of the history of conflict resolution, and, more seriously, to protect the American people.

Tough Times

I have a friend who is going through a real rough spot in her marriage right now. Say a prayer for her and her husband. I pray that God's grace and comfort will be with you both as you work towards getting things right between the two of you. That you will have peace and understanding for each other. I don't know what else much to say, accept that I am praying for you and hope that you both will be able to reconcile and be there for each other.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Iron Maiden - Aces High (Live After Death)

When they were a bit younger! Show is one week from tonight. Nah! I'm not excited at all!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Penguins 6 Flyers 0

Ouch! That stung a little bit. If Pittsburgh plays the way they did today throughout the Finals, they're gonna win the Cup. As for the Flyers? I guess they're gonna hit the Golf courses a little earlier than they had planned. Maybe next year..............................

Love Will Win the Day

I have been going through the archives of a blogger that I recently found called nakedpastor. He pastors a Vineyard Church in Canada. I really enjoyed this post. I hope you do to.

Community, as I have said many times, cannot be based on agreement. If you were to visit the community I’m a part of you would find a wide diversity of opinion, ideas and theologies. I don’t fully agree with any of them. I don’t even agree with mine at the best of times. I encourage diversity of ideas because this is what already resides within our brains. And I believe this deserves expression. It is our freedom, our right and our privilege. So we see expressions that some might call “New Age”, “Prosperity”, “Philosophical”, “Liberal”, “Evangelical”, “Pentecostalist”, “Fundamentalist”, “Conservative”, “Reformed”, “Socialist”, and on and on I could go. The wide diversity makes a wonderful mix, and I love it. And that is the key: love.

For me, to love this small community means to love the world in all its diversity. Love is what makes community. The dividing walls between people and people between us and God have been broken down in a loving gesture of good will. There are no walls. The walls are only the illusions built by our divided minds. I believe the local church should be a manifestation of the reality of unity. Therefore this local community must, in a sense, be a microcosmic reflection of the human race undivided and unified. Of course this can’t mean agreement. Of course not. It means love. This is what makes community rich and transformative.

Which is why this blog intends to manifest the unified reality and not the divisive one. I feel no urgency to reach agreement ideologically or theologically or any other way. I do feel an urgency for personal transformation that lives above illusion and in love and that encourages and blesses community. So, when it comes down to it, no matter how strongly we might disagree, love will win the day and recognize our unity.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Some Sunny Thoughts from Nakedpastor

1. The love of all things. All beings. All life. My heart swells at the thought. My eyes get wet. The love. The benediction. Permeates all.

2. There is no god with substance, form, location, existence. Yet all is full of benediction, blessing. But even this confines. All-theism. A-theism.

3. Serve. Rescue. Liberate all! Faithful in little, faithful in much. There are none in, none out. All are. Rules divide. Faith expressed through love.

4. Impermanence and transitoriness of all things. All things pass. Nothing is permanent. Change. Urgency. Now!

5. Jesus is the historical event and undying incarnation of all the above. He IS, in whom all are and none aren’t. To speak of him is not to speak of him. To not speak of him is to speak of him.

6. The mind’s perception is the deception. The utter ego-centricity, self-serving, self-serving, self-protecting, self-seeking, narcissistic obsession of the brain. See this and be healed of blindness.

Well, there you have it. See what the sun, sand, and Cervezas can do to you?!

Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills (Rock in Rio)

Iron Maiden - Hallowed Be Thy Name (Live @ Rock In Rio)

9 - Iron Maiden - The Trooper

9 more days and counting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Some Random Thoughts

I am very blessed. God loves me just the way I am. I am free in Christ. I have a wonderful family and some damn good friends that have stuck by me through thick and thin. I have also made many new friends, and for that I am thankful.

There are others that I miss and am sorry that they feel the way they do. It is truly sad when some things happen the way they do. Just let it go.

I'm hurt, but I'll be okay. I've been through much worse. Drug and alcohol addiction for one. God even got me through that. I have talked to enough people and sought out advice that I am comfortable knowing that I have done nothing wrong. I have extended an olive branch, but it was not accepted.

People can still talk, but in the end God knows what is going on, and He knows truth. So with that, I am letting it go into His hands. If I carry it any longer, then I am wrong.


Galatians 6 (The Message)

Galatians 6

Nothing but the Cross

1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

4-5Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

6Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.

7-8Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

9-10So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

11-13Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ's suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don't keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!

14-16For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can't you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

17Quite frankly, I don't want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus.

18May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Flyers stay alive, force Game 5 back in Pittsburgh

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -The Pittsburgh Penguins' road to the Stanley Cup finals along the Pennsylvania Turnpike took an unexpected detour.

The smooth ride through 12 playoff games got a bit bumpier when the Philadelphia Flyers staved off elimination from the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-2 victory Thursday night, forcing a Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Hmmmm...can they come back? I guess I know what I'll be doing Sunday.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two Minutes To Midnight - Iron Maiden @ Rock In Rio

The show is sooooo close now I can almost feel it. 12 more days.

You don't have to be perfect

My favorite website has just a ton of great articles this month. I'm telling you, The Porpoise Diving Life rawks! I found an article there written by a guy named Nate Peres in Atlanta. He also has a blog called myfaithdefined.

Here's a blurb from his article:

Also, he likes people that don't lie to him. Like the liars that think God only watches them when they go to church; they think all the less attractive things they do aren't noticed by God because it wasn't Sunday or they weren't in church. My favorite saying from them is, "God deserves your best"; referring to the way they dress and act at church. My response is, "But doesn't he deserve your best every day, just not on Sunday?" Then I get that queer look, and they conveniently find someone else to talk to. So be yourself, be honest with God and yourself. Do not worry at what others think. They are not the Judge, Jesus is.

The biggest thing to understand is God does not only love you, but he likes you. As you are. Don't try to be anything that you don't want to be. Don't be ashamed of the things you like. Have a couple of drinks now and then; I do. Go and see a concert of head banging heavy metal; I do. One ticket: Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and Metallica. Great show. Don't worry, I committed no fornication, I did not become possessed by demons, and my head never spun around once. And God still blessed me afterwards. Just be who you are and have fun with it.

My brother likes to think that the Kingdom of God will be one big party. Well then, bring yourself, and God will let you in.


David Hayward pastors a Vineyard Church in Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada. He also blogs on Theology, Art and Humor. Read about him here

I found a cartoon of his I would like to share. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Flyers down 3 games to none

Dear God,

As you well know, the Philadelphia Flyers lost again and are down 3 games to none in their best of seven series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Please give them a miracle and allow them to win the next four to put them in the Stanley Cup Finals.


T.D. Jakes on the Rev. Wright controversy

T.D. Jakes is a well known Pastor in the Black Church Community. Personally, I like his theology and what he preaches from the pulpit. Here is his take on the Wright controversy and Obama...

T.D. Jakes isn’t happy. In the wake of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy he feels the black church is being portrayed unfairly in the press. Jakes, pastor of 30,000-member The Potter’s House, complained that the media has painted the African-American church with a “broad, wide-ranging brush” as intolerant and “filled with hostility,” Jakes wrote in a CNN commentary. Jakes also discouraged readers from associating Barack Obama with the divisive comments made by Wright. Though Jakes made it clear he has endorsed no candidate, he compared Obama’s campaign to his own church. “It is designed much the same way Sen. Barack Obama has built his campaign: on a strong commitment to reconciliation, the admonition for unity and strong desire for the continuation of diversity instead of exclusion.” [, 5/5/08]

The Myth of the 'Good' Christian

This was an article on one of my favorite websites The Porpoise Diving Life that I read this morning. This is so where I am at in my journey right now and I am okay. I will "Live, Love, and Follow the Carpenter. We are meant to be who we already are." Enjoy this and let it speak to you. I think it was written by Erin Word. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

Have you ever felt as though you didn't quite measure up to much of what Christianity expects of you? Ever wonder if it really matters that you have an hour of "quiet time with the Lord" every morning or go to church every week? Have you ever hid your secular books, music or movies from your Christian friends? Ever 'just not feel good' about yoursel' in comparison to all the seemingly more righteous Christians in your church or community?

If so, you are not alone.

I believe the ideal of the so-called "Good" Christian is a myth. I have tried all my life and with all my might to become that person, but after 30+ years, I have come to accept that she doesn't exist. A few years ago, I finally stopped beating myself up for all the ways in which I wish I were better: better wife, better mother, better friend, better Christian. I have embraced that I am who I am for a purpose and a reason; or as Jim Palmer says in his book Wide Open Spaces:

"Trees don't aspire to be fish. They don't even aspire to be better trees. God was saying to me I could experience my rightful place in creation by simply being who he made me to be. This is another one of the most significant discoveries I've come to concerning life in God: life is not about becoming something I'm currently not, but instead being at every moment who I already fully am."

I believe real Christianity can be summed up this way: "Live, Love, and Follow the Carpenter. We are meant to be who we already are."


I am who He made me to be, and I'll be okay :-)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Flyers down to the Penguins 2 games to none

So my Flyers lost again tonight, by the same score 4-2. But...........the series moves to the Flyers barn for games 3 and 4. They played well tonight but were down 2 defensemen. One is out for the season and the other took a shot to the face from the puck in the first five minutes of the game and never returned.

The Flyers have a rabid fan-base and this is a best of seven series so it ain't over yet.

Stay tuned!

Philadelphia Flyers Home Opener Video

The battle of Pennsylvania

Those that know me know that I am a huge Hockey fan. I fell in love with the game back in the mid 70's during the dynasty of the Philadelphia Flyers. They have not won a Stanley Cup since then. Right now they are playing the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins for the chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. It is a best of seven series. Game one was Friday night in Pittsburgh where the Penguins won the game 4-2. I was not able to see this game. But tonight is game two from Pittsburgh again. It will be on at 4:30 pm my time and I am anticipating the Flyers to come out hard physically.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

We're back

Got back early today. Manuel was not there so we did not go onto the orphanage property. Right now our service to the orphanage is in limbo as they have some new rules in place and only certain people are allowed onto the site now.

As to all of the other "shit" going on in my mind right now, I'm taking Dave's advice and moving on. Yes, it still hurts, but sometimes you've just got to move forward.

My father-in-law and his wife (Patty's stepmom) are in town from PA. We all went out tonight to Red Lobster for dinner and it was a very nice relaxing weekend. I'm going downstairs to join them for the rest of the evening.

And Happy Mothers Day to my mom and to all the other mothers out there.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Spiritual abuse? Maybe!

Another sign of impending trouble in a church is an obsession with discipline and excommunication. Beware of churches that warn of certain doom if you leave their 'covering,' or if you 'break covenant.' Once banished from the group, little compassion is shown the wayward one." Again and again, it has been observed that former members of aberrant churches, when contemplating leaving the group, were issued dire warnings that they were backsliding, compromising and facing judgment from God. Church members who are seen as stepping out of line will find themselves being shunned or criticized by the so-called "true believers" in public, and will usually face much harsher treatment in the larger abusive church congregation. Demeaning public rebuke, even ridicule from the pulpit is one means of religious abuse disguised as "discipline."

beating your leaders

Misusing the pulpit to silence members

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Drop-In Center tonight-Going South tomorrow

Tonight, I'm helping at the Drop-In Center. Obie is out of town so I'll be helping Leo out and I believe Lonnie will be there too. With 75-80 kids attending, we need the help.

Heading to the orphanage and to see Hannah this weekend. I will be meeting with the Director while we're there. I need some answers to what I have been told by others, as they are quite different than what I have heard from him. Will blog after the weekend.



From Secrets to Winning at Office (or church) Politics

Shunning is a group game that requires a target, who is being punished for deviating from established norms.

The Emotional Payoff: “We feel more powerful because we can punish people.”

Exposing the Game: Shunning can be difficult to expose, because denial of the game’s existence is an integral part of the game itself. Attempts to get shunning players to admit their tactics make the target appear needy and pathetic.

To watch is to be prepared for the unexpected. It is to give up the illusions of straight-line extrapolations, the silly assumption that current trends will continue. It is to abandon the calculations of the pundits about the swinging of some invisible pendulum. In this time, particularly, it is to accept the fact that life will not go on as it has. A change is in the offing, but no one knows what direction it will take. History is the realm of contingency, the unexpected. The proper eschatology is watchful expectancy for the Abba's work and will, and a wary guardedness about the rebounding perversity of humankind. The danger is to preempt the future with our own agenda and our own eagerness to be proven right by history.

- Robert Jewett
Jesus Against the Rapture

An Evangelical Manifesto (by Jim Wallis)

The church has a serious image problem. A recent book, unChristian, by Barna pollster David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons reveals much about how Millennials, the emerging generation - both those inside and around the church - view Christianity. The results weren't good. An overwhelming majority of young people view Christians as hypocritical, too judgmental, too focused on the afterlife, and too political in the worst sense of the word. And that image is often particularly true of evangelicals. That's a lot of baggage we're carrying around.

But other studies show that when you ask people what they think about Jesus, you get answers like: compassionate, loving, caring, hung out with sinners and poor people, for peace. We have a serious image problem. People think that we should stand for the same things as Jesus did. So it's time to change the image.

A substantial group of evangelical leaders are trying to do just that. This morning, a new statement, An Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment, was released in Washington, D.C. The statement has two purposes - to address the confusion about who evangelicals are and to clarify a view on evangelicals in public life.

read the entire article here

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

15 - Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast

19 days and counting down until showtime at The Cricket Pavilion. Can you tell I'm a bit excited?

Whenever someone feels anger, there is a potential for powerful dignity, a sense of responsibility, and the expression of some deep personal value that has a universal rightness. This value needs acknowledgement.

-David E. Doiron
Anger and Personal Power

Monday, May 05, 2008

Gossip and Slander

If people gossip, or even listen to it, they are wrong. If you hear something about someone from somebody else, the right thing to do is to go ask that person directly.

My family has been hurt by some gossip, and I really cannot believe what blatant slander it truly was. Unfortunately, these people will have to answer to it.

I choose to not be a part of it and my job is to forgive them, regardless of what they say or do.


Matthew 7 (The Message)

Matthew 7

A Simple Guide for Behavior

1-5 "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

6"Don't be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don't reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you're only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

7-11"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

12"Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

Being and Doing

13-14"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

15-20"Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

21-23"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'

24-25"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."

28-29When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (The Message)

13-14Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

ABC news now Iron Maiden

23 more days until the show. Awesome interview with lead singer Bruce Dickinson who is actually flying the plane from city to city.

Friday, May 02, 2008

"Caring Christians"

I read a book written by J. Keith Miller titled A Hunger for Healing-The Twelve Steps as a Classic Model for Christian Spiritual Growth. A portion from Step 3 (Made a decision to Turn Our Will and Our Lives Over to the Care of God as We Understood Him) really hit home with a recent experience I went through. Check this out:

People coming into the Christian faith are told that they need to surrender their lives to Jesus as Savior, to renounce all sinful desires that draw them from the love of God, to put their whole trust in his grace and love and to follow and obey him as Lord. But I don't remember ever being told as a new Christian that my desire to control the people, places, and things in my life constituted Sin and was part of that surrender to Jesus Christ (unless my actions were immoral in some specifically enumerated way). So although I committed my life to Jesus and later asked God to fill my life with the Holy Spirit, it never occurred to me that I might be very sinful and get my life all snarled up by trying to "help" everyone (that is, get them to live the way I thought they should). And there was no Christian discipline in the groups to which I belonged that showed me how to face the control issues of my Sin-disease.

So I became a "caring Christian" committed to Jesus Christ, and I continued to be a manipulative controller without even knowing I was doing it, much less that some of the helping/controlling was abusive, self-centered (I needed to fix them so I'd feel all right), and sinful (putting myself in the center where only God should be and orchestrating other people's lives--including those of Christians in church programs).

Since my book Hope in the Fast Lane: A New Look at Faith in a Compulsive World came out, I have had many Christians tell me that they too are miserable because of their unconsciously controlling ways and other people's reaction ts to them. They report discovering in themselves a determination to direct the lives of the people around them. When their loved ones won't cooperate and see the light--the controller's light--things get worse. Finally, if the controllers are fortunate, they see that they are powerless to change anyone and that their whole life has become unmanageable and confused--though they may be deeply committed Christians--even ordained ministers.

Christians who are frustrated and blocked by their denied Sin despite their conscious commitment to God and Christ need a way to bring their control tendencies to God so they can be freed, find reconciliation and serenity, and get on with growing spiritually in Christ. If they discover a Twelve-Step program and take Steps One and Two, they are told that the way to unsnarl this tangle of worms and to get well from this disease is to make a decision to turn their "entire lives and wills" over to God, to let God be the producer, director, and healer of their lives and the lives of others around them.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Found this article written by Aaron Pluim on the Ooze and it really hit home with where I am at right now. Here is an excerpt:

Once Jesus was having a party with some of his friends after he asked Matthew to be his disciple. At the party there were a lot of Matthew's friends who were tax collectors and a bunch of people who followed Jesus. Some Bible Teachers, who were also called Pharisees, showed up at the party and asked Jesus' disciples a question about him: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard their question he replied to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:13-17 TNIV)

If we keep playing the game of striving to appear to others that we have it all together spiritually so that we can feel safe, accepted and seen as a successful Christian, then like the Bible Teachers, we will likely miss possible encounters with Jesus who is passionate about celebrating life with people who refuse to pursue a spiritual status quo but pursue him instead.