Wednesday, July 30, 2008 final post before vacation. I was touched so much by this book and it has really taught me a lot about what I have experienced. I do believe the author has hit the nail on the head so to speak about the correct way to "one anothering". He sums it all up very well in this last excerpt.

You never know what treasure of God's glory might sit across from you on the bus, down the hall at work, or even in the house next door. The only way to find out is to engage every person you meet with love, gentleness, and respect; and throughout your journey you will find that God has scattered a vast array of people around your path who hold a wealth of insight and encouragement to help you.

I hope by now that you have already thought about how you will treat the next person who crosses your path. Whether it is a believer in need of fellowship or an unbeliever in need of exposure to the love of our wonderful Savior, just ask Jesus to make you sensitive to the people who literally pass you every day. Of course you will not touch them all, but there may be a handful every day whom you can touch with a simple expression of the Father's love.

If you have read this far alone, perhaps now is the time to consider a journey of greater depth -- exploring what it means to walk together with other believers and learning how to share God's life together. Jesus didn't come to found a religion; he came to rebuild his Father's family. He wants to link you with other believers in authentic relationships that allow you to recover the lost art of one anothering, and the joy of those friendships can be just around the corner.

I know that can be scary, especially if you have been deeply hurt by other believers. But it is worth tearing down your defense mechanisms and once again learning what it means to love people freely and to share the journey with those who also desire to be transformed by God.

Yes, you will still meet some people who allow their bondages to bleed all over you, but you will find the freedom to walk away guiltlessly from any attempts to manipulate you. As you learn to love as you are loved, you will find yourself free to tell people no whenever they push you to do what isn't in your heart to do. Loving them does not mean you have to submit to their control. Just let them know that you care about them, but that the relationship isn't working for you. They may try to pin you down to an explanation, but you don't owe them one. Life is too short and good relationships are too awesome to waste time trying to fix destructive ones.

pgs 146-147 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

Happy one anothering folks. I am now formally on break from my blog until August 18th. I am certainly going to enjoy my vacation which officially begins at 230 pm Friday Aug 1st. Will be in Carlsbad California the first week and Ruidoso New Mexico the second week.

Peace out!

Finding freedom from the tyranny of other people's opinions is one of the greatest joys of life in Jesus. As long as you live for other people's approval, you are owned by anyone who chooses to lie about you. We are to liberate people from the desire for approval rather than exploit it to get them to "act more Christian." Jesus did not come to train a generation of actors but to transform people to live authentically in the world.

pg. 129 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

There will be one final post I want to do on this fantastic book. I will post it sometime before Friday before my vacation. While on vacation, I will also be taking a vacation from my blog.


Although I applaud their desire to create an environment where people feel free to be honest, I fault their methods. Their "rules" could only provide a substitute for the intimacy borne of real relationship. In the long run, they were only providing an illusion of intimacy rather than intimacy itself. One thing I have learned over the years is that anyone who is prone to gossip about you is also willing to lie about it. There is no substitute for real relationships that grow over time. Relationships are an organic reality, and it will not take you long to figure out which people around you are safe to open up to and which are best given a wide berth. Even among those who claim to be a part of the church, you will find many who are persistently critical, self-centered, and destructive. They gossip, twist your words, and spare no effort to force their opinions on you. While we can still love those who are held captive by such deeds, we do not have to give them access to the depths of our hearts.

pg 126 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

John McCain can't stand sucking up to the Christian right. Is this the end of the GOP's unholy alliance?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Journey Talk

I went to a men's breakfast group one morning where the participants pulled out scorecards and reported how many days the previous week they had read Scripture, witnessed to an unbeliever, or "hit their knees" before "hitting the shower." They were holding each other accountable to disciplines they thought important. As sincere as they may have been to encourage one another, they were sincerely wrong.

These men had embraced a process of conformity, thinking it was their responsibility to motivate people to comply with their standards. Little did they realize that this process is the opposite of sharing the Christian journey. That is why accountability groups start with a wealth of zeal and quickly fade away. Can you imagine Jesus pulling out similar scorecards to check on his disciples?

Growing in relationship with God does not come through conformity but through transformation. Relationships are organic and therefore defy all attempts to fit into any one-size-fits-all model. Rules, routines, and rituals are the building blocks of religion, not relationship. People caught up in religion focus on obeying authority, maintaining accountability, meeting standards by human effort, finding fault, confronting failure, and blaming others. In short, conforming to these things can be quite painful, especially for those who struggle to do the accepted thing. People instinctively know that instead of helping them know God better, these religious activities add stress and strain to the journey. That is why Paul told his readers over and over again not to have anything to do with people who wanted to boss others, even if their aim was greater righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 5:7-10, 6:11-19; Phil. 3:2; Col. 2:16-19).

Paul wasn't against righteousness, but he knew that true righteousness grew only out of a trusting relationship to the Father. This kingdom does not result from our efforts but from his. "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), Jesus said, calling us to depend on him. We do not share the journey by conforming others to what we think is best for them, but by encouraging them to lean on Jesus.

Those on the journey talk about encouragement, help, service, support, love, compassion, forgiveness, and trust. They will focus on loving God more freely and one another more openly, trusting God instead of trusting themselves, being real instead of repeating "right" answers, and taking the risk to follow God instead of meeting people's expectations. They won't force people into a mold, because they know people have to have their own journey with God so he can transform them into his likeness. Doing so lifts people higher instead of weighing them down with added obligations and responsibilities.

pgs. 104-105 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

Encourage One Another Daily

A long-term ministry relationship had soured, and the resulting ultimatum was clear. Forced to choose between the security of the fellowship I had served for fifteen years and staying true to my conscience, I found myself outside a group of people I dearly loved. I drove to the High Sierras to get out of town and sort out my conflicted feelings.

I stopped at my parents' house to drop off my things before my long walk in the woods. As I started for the door, my dad stopped me, saying, "I want to read you something before you go." In his hands was a copy of The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible by Eugene Peterson. He read: "Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer even!--for though they don't like it, I do. And all heaven applauds" (Matt. 5:11-12). Over the next few days that Scripture worked its way into my prayers and overturned my despair by allowing me to see my pain from God's perspective.

pgs. 90-91 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Blessed Day

I was blessed today. It was our first visit to Amadeo since we left to go back to Vineyard Community Church of Gilbert. We went to hear Mark B. speak. I have worked with him before with the Youth Group but hearing him speak in a bigger arena was awesome. He definitely has a gifting for it. What I took away from his words were this...that God can use anyone to glorify Himself. It doesn't matter how broken you are, what your past is or what you have done. He can and will use you.

We also got to see Shelly lead Communion which was an extra blessing. And it just so happened that Robert and Angela dedicated their daughter Liberty this morning and we were able to pray with them and the rest of the Amadeo family.

It was also great to see all those we have not seen in quite awhile and I was very happy to see all of the new faces which is a sign of growth. It is great to see Amadeo growing and to see others that I do not even know leading.

This week I work my last shifts before vacation. I'll also help out at the Gilbert Drop-In this Thursday. First I need to find out if it is still this Thursday or not. I saw and talked to a bunch of the kids that hang out there last week when I dropped by Cold Stone Creamery for some Ice Cream for the family.

Be blessed and have a fantastic week.


Friday, July 25, 2008

The popular saying is true:"Expectations are resentments waiting to happen." We sabotage many of our relationships by imposing expectations on others or trying to meet theirs. It cannot be done. People who live with expectations will never be satisfied. Of course we can still love those who impose their expectations on us, but we will also have to find peace in knowing that we may never be able to love them in the way they demand it.

pg. 50 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A friend of mine defines typical relationships as the "mutual accommodation of self-need." He doesn't intend it to be flattering. What he means is that our friendships last only as long as we can satisfy some deep need in each other for security, acceptance, or status. That is why most friendships with other believers are task-oriented and survive only as long as we work on the same task together. As long as you go along with the program, you will find acceptance. However, if you ask the wrong question, miss a few meetings, or even (God forbid!) leave to attend another fellowship, the friendships suddenly stop or turn hostile.

pgs 18-19 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Random stuff

My life has been pretty good the past few weeks.

I was able to encourage another brother who is going through a difficult time right now.

I had a God moment a week and a half ago. I never take my cell phone into my office when I go to work, I usually leave it in the car. For some reason I brought it with me on this day. It rang and I answered it. It was a friend of mine that went to our old church we were a part of for 10 years. He doesn't go there anymore either. Anyhow, another couple him and his wife know were having problems where alcohol abuse may be a factor. He called me asking if he could pass on my contact info to this couple. I said okay and the guy called me and I met with him at Starbucks for about an hour. The wife also called me and I spoke at length with her over the phone. I gave them some advice and recommendations and have left it at that for now. I will check back with them next week sometime. So that was my God moment.

Patty and I have been hitting the gym on a regular basis and I am feeling great. It is great to be back in the groove again and trying to eat better and exercise more.

Patty is having a bit of a health scare though so pray for her that it is nothing serious. She started getting these strange headaches on one side of her head about 15 minutes into exercising. She went to a Neurologist who scheduled an MRI which was done today. The follow-up appointment is on Monday Aug 4th...the day before we leave for our getaway to Carlsbad by the Sea in the San Diego area. Our 21st wedding anniversary is on the 7th.

I went to a pretty wild concert last Friday called The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. It started at 2 pm and ended at 11 pm and was outdoors and the temp was 112 that day. I went with a friend from work who is an atheist. We talk a lot about his beliefs and my beliefs and we're both okay with that. We get along well and he doesn't feel threatened by me because I don't judge him or cut him down. He respects me and I respect him. We had a blast at the concert and I survived the wildest and craziest show that I have ever been to in my life.

Some friends of mine are having some financial struggles right now and I was able to help them out a little bit with sending their kid to marching band camp. It was a blessing to help them and I know they would do the same for me if I was in their situation.

I am thinking seriously about starting a small group. I would love to do it on Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz or the book I am reading right now called authentic relationships that I have posted about in the past week or so.

I am really enjoying this season I am in right now in my journey of following Christ. I am trying to encourage others as much as I can and it is awesome.

Next Sunday I will be going to Amadeo to hear my buddy Mark B. preach. He is a true friend who has always stayed in touch with me since we left. That's what a true friend does. We have gone out to lunch on numerous occasions and will be doing it again this Friday.

I will be off of work for the first part of August and am so looking forward to Patty and I getting out of the heat and heading to the cool breezes off of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.

My daughter Shannon is considering moving out soon. She makes good money now and I know that she can do it as long as she can manage her finances in a responsible manner. She is an adult now and is taking the steps to being out on her own. Pray for her and for God to open doors for her as she spreads her wings out in the real world.

Peace out for now! Encourage somebody today. Do something nice for someone just because you can and it will make you feel good.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Loving Not Conforming

Submission allows us the joy of partnering with others in the journey. It lets us share our insights without controlling one another's actions. Unfortunately, however, more abuse travels through the body of Christ under the guise of submission than any other admonition, often making believers a battered group of individualists rather than people who can effectively help others.

Some church leaders mistakenly teach that submission demands that believers capitulate to their leadership. Since institutions need conformity to survive, the demand for submission is an easy tool for keeping people in line. Throughout church history, people's submission to Jesus Christ has been questioned if they disagreed with the established leadership of the day.

Whenever institutional needs conflict with relational priorities, it is usually the relationships that suffer. That is why relationships among many Christian groups can be so fickle. If someone asks the wrong question or points out a problem others want to ignore, an individual can move from being a wonderful gift one moment to a dangerous rebel the next.

If the church is going to demonstrate the love of Christ in this generation, we are going to have to find a way to make institutional needs a distant second to healthy and supportive relationships. I know many people who already live that way. The godliest people I know don't jump into the power plays that dominate congregational battles; instead, they step aside, seeing institutional power as insignificant in comparison with God's larger purpose. They know submission is not a power game. It never asks anyone to subordinate his or her will to another. While Hebrews 13:17 tells us to yield to those in leadership, Paul uses an entirely different word when he invites believers to the joy of mutual submission. Leaders who demand that others submit to them are usually asking for unquestioned obedience, and ultimately it is always destructive. Submission at the hands of those bent on using others to fulfill their agenda is like a kitchen knife in the hands of a four-year-old - a powerful tool becomes a terrifying danger.

One evening I joined two elders who wanted me to meet with them and a woman in our fellowship who had recently separated from her husband. Immediately they began to pressure her. "You must let him move back in," the elders told her. "Divorce is always wrong."

Linda, the wife, was gracious in response. "I don't think you know what's really going on. I have sought the Lord about this and shared it with some other believers closest to me. They believe I'm doing the right thing."

One elder, Jeff, began to argue with Linda, invoking God's judgment if she did not obey. I stopped him in mid-tirade and turned to her and said, "Linda, you know that no one has the right to demand that you deny your conscience. I know you love the Lord and are trying to follow him. If what Jeff has said is God's heart for you, I have no doubt God will show you. If not, feel free to toss it." I prayed for God to lead her with his wisdom and courage despite what others thought, and we excused ourselves.

Outside Jeff tore into me, telling me that I had defied God's will. I told him that I disagreed, that she obviously was walking this out with other believers, and that it was not his place to demand her obedience. Months later we found out what she had chosen not to tell us that evening. Her husband had made some sexual overtures to her children from a previous marriage and had persistently refused her offer to get counseling. She had separated to protect them.

(Pages 135-137 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Accepting others

Accept people just as they are, trusting that God will change them in time. Accepting them as people does not mean you condone their behavior or beliefs. It simply means you respect their humanity enough to let them work through the process. People open their lives to those who accept them the way they are and run from those who are always trying to change them into what they think they should be.
(Pg. 42 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering")


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Christian the Lion - the full story (in HQ)

I verified this with snopes and it is legit. This is not a hoax. Check it out. You won't be sorry.

Thought for the day

From a book I am reading called Authentic Relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"

When people use admonishment to point out the faults of others so the former feel better about themselves, they kill genuine fellowship. We are not called to confront one another constantly or hold one another to exacting standards. We are to encourage one another along the journey of being transformed by God and only admonish others when it will help them walk in greater wisdom.

Our past encouragements will make any admonishment easier to heed. Don't force admonishment on others. Share what you see, and trust the Holy Spirit to make it clear to them. Remember, we are only sharing a journey; we are not called to badger one another into righteousness or nitpick at one another's faults.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

From The Porpoise Diving Life - Everything is Upside-Down

A nice middle aged man came up to me and with tears in his eyes related that his life had been changed by something I had said many years ago. I asked what I had said, and when he told me the details, I honestly couldn’t remember saying such a thing. But to him it had been powerful, said in the right way and at the right time, and I was grateful that it had happened.

A man and his wife said to me that a few words I had said on the radio had been used to comfort them at a time of sorrow in their lives. I rejoiced.

A lady stopped me in the aisle of a store, and in tears said that something I had done was her motivation to keep going and to not give up. It really made me feel good.

A young man called me crying and said that he was promising me that his life was about to change as a result of a column I had written. I was filled with gratitude and encouragement.

But wait – I really would rather not tell the whole story, but I must. The complete truth is that there are also some who, because of me, have been offended. The hypocrisies and inconsistencies of my life have alienated some people. My own selfishness, my controlling ways, my insistence that I was a hundred percent right, have made some people decide that they could not really listen to anything I had to say. That is the part that I don’t rejoice in. There have been times when I wondered if the only real ministry I could ever have would be to serve as a bad example.

Am I a great and effective leader and spokesman for truth and for God? Am I a gift to people, a blessing from above, a profound and thoughtful man of truth and faith and love and spirituality?

Or am I a hypocrite, a shyster, a phony, unworthy and unqualified and unable to really help anybody?

The truth is that I am neither. And the truth is that I am both.

And here is the ironic, paradoxical thing, which I hope that I can explain without confusing anybody: When I think that I’m the good guy- I’m the bad guy. When I think that I’m the bad guy- I’m the good guy. If I start to think of myself as good and obedient and right and righteous- if I start to think of myself as “God’s gift to poor dumb sinners”, I am not the solution to anything- I am the problem. My arrogance will know no bounds. The people I hurt will be many. And I will think that all of them are wrong, but I am right.

On the other hand, if I can remember that I am just a messed up person, often weak, often wrong, often sinful and always unworthy, and if I can honestly and humbly remember that, I can help somebody along the way. And I won’t even know that I’m doing it until I hear about it later.

Steve Brown has often said, “The best thing you’ve got going for you spiritually is your sin, when you know about it. And the worst thing going against you spiritually is your obedience, when you know about it.”

Saint Paul put it this way, “I glory in my weaknesses and failures and reproaches, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me- for when I am weak, only then am I strong.” The old spiritual song said it so well: “Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, oh Lord- standin’ in the need of prayer.” A classic “Pogo” cartoon once said, “We have come face-to-face with the enemy, and he is us!’

May I tell you a secret? Nobody but nobody has a handle on the Almighty. If you can understand or explain everything about God, you need to get a bigger one, because the one you have is not God. Some things will always be a mystery. Some things we will never get right. As long as we live on this earth, there will be areas in which you and I will really fall on our face. Accept it. We’re not home yet.

I may get in trouble for saying this, but Jesus did not come to give us all the answers, or to fix our jobs or our marriages or our finances. He didn’t come to give me great success, or to help our football team to win, or even to make your church grow. He didn’t come to lower taxes, to take over politics, or to fill the Supreme Court with conservatives or liberals. Forgive me, but He didn’t even come to “bless America”. He came to show us what a loving God was like, and to forgive all the people who are so absolutely messed up, guilty, and unworthy. Not surprisingly, the sinners loved Him, but the saints killed Him.

Be very careful of people who would have you to believe that they have all of the answers, with no uncertainty, and no sin in their life. That kind of person is very dangerous. Watch out for him. Even if he is us.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Diligence to Detail

Found this poem on The Porpoise Diving Life written by a guy named Carl. It was beautiful and I hope it touches you too. Enjoy!


God indeed cares about all the details
of people locked up in spiritual jails.

Using bricks of anxiety when they were built
their doors and windows are barred up with guilt.
A vague threat is used like a ball and chain
by the abusive, themselves abused - pain begets pain.
(If you think of a few, be kind and not name.)

"If I can get
people to worry and fret
with the message of
disobeyed details
that still has to be met
then You shall never receive
their praise, their true love
for they shall not know
they are fondly thought of."

Boasted the evil one in the presence of God.
So what do you think He said to that fraud?

Hosea 11:4 is the precedent to know what is or is not from above.

My heart is led in this way - and follow my heart that I do!

The heart, misunderstood and yet with this message is new.

So with a feel for details, one will be able to know
what applies today from long ago.


My God can Whup Your God! (Wide Open Spaces excerpt)

I read this post today off of Jim Palmer's (Author of Divine Nobodies and Wide Open Spaces) blog.

I have attended church for most of my life and in various denominations. What really bothers me is some of the conflict that goes on in churches over petty stuff. Traditional vs. Contemporary, Liturgical vs. Non-Liturgical, Seeker Sensitive vs. Believers Meetings, House Churches vs. Free Standing Churches, Small to Medium sized Churches vs. Megachurches, Modern vs. Postmodern. I've been on both ends of the conflict myself. I don't let it bother me anymore. Go to a place that you feel comfortable instead of creating a conflict.

And now the post from Jim Palmer called My God can Whup Your God:

These last few years, God has supplied a few jolts of his own to rouse me from my religious slumber. One of those jolts was Connie’s July 13 blog post, only nineteen words long. Connie is one of my MySpace friends, and from time to time I read her blog. July 13 was one of those times. I clicked on her blog and read this:

I Hate You.
You Hate Me.
We Hate Them.
They Hate Us.
What does it take to change this?

These words planted a seed within me that has continued to germinate. Religion teaches that God is synonymous with a specific belief system. Each system claims to have “right” beliefs about God, which are passionately held by its adherents—so much so that hate, bitter resentment, bloodshed, and even war can result from disagreement about God. A brief overview of world history shows that bad things happen when religious belief systems clash. This is what Connie was feeling. She had experienced religious hate in her own world, was fed up, and voiced it in nineteen sobering words.

But what if God isn’t a belief system? What if God is bigger than self, bigger than family, bigger than tribe, bigger than nation, and even bigger than any set of doctrines we try to wrap around him? Whereas religion sometimes brings out the worst in people, could the vision of a bigger God cause us to place higher value on expanding our circles of care and compassion and working toward a more peaceful world?

One of the most freeing discoveries these past few years in my relationship with God (and it’s still sinking in) is that God is not a belief system or a fixed set of theological propositions. On the one hand, it seems patently obvious that a list of claims about God can’t actually be God himself. There isn’t a lockbox at the center of the universe containing a divine computer program with doctrinal code. Hopefully we’ve all realized that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is fiction and that the number forty-two doesn’t answer anything of ultimate significance. And yet for many years, my Christianity was basically a well-worked-out and defined set of propositions and practices in the name of God. I said Jesus Christ was my Savior, but in reality I treated my belief system as if it were my savior. It was my belief in the right suppositions about Christ that made me eternally saved.

When the basis for being a Christian is your specific set of beliefs about God, the most important thing is being right. If someone comes around with contrary ideas, the logical conclusion is . . . well, their ideas must be wrong. It doesn’t take an MIT grad to figure out two people with divergent views of God can’t both be right. Therein lies all religious conflict; there must be winners and losers. It’s a zero-sum game. The “win-win” mentality just doesn’t fly.

For many years, my sense of well-being, comfort, safety, security, identity, and superiority in the world was based largely on being right about God. I was eager to take on theological debates. After I received my masters of divinity degree, I was confident I was “right” about God. When threatened, my response was akin to the little boy yelling, “My daddy can whup your daddy!” I was happy to be counted among the few, the proud, the saved who could emphatically say, “My God can whup your God! My belief system wins over your belief system. My book is better than your book. I win, you lose. I’ll pray for you.”

Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity
Thomas Nelson Publishers


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Breakfast Club - impressions

Saw this movie the other night and this is probably my favorite scene in the movie. It is a classic movie called The Breakfast Club where they are all spending a Saturday at the High School in detention.

A word of caution...there are several F-bombs in this scene so if that offends you, then don't watch it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Romans 12:6-10 (The Message)
6-8If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9-10Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

It is a cardinal principle of discernment that the Lord always speaks in peace, even if he is rebuking or chastising those he loves.
- Thomas H. Green

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People need help but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan,
a children's home in Calcutta

A lesson in hope from a man who should have none

I received an email from a friend today telling me that one of the local columnists had done a story on him. He was a columnist himself for a competing newspaper. I wanted to share the column with you and also alert you to his blog Slim's Stories. Slim and I are a lot alike in many ways and I met him at my church a few years ago. A fine southern gentleman. I would ask all of you to check out his blog and send him some enouragement. He seems to be doing well now and is on the right path. Keep pushing on Slim, you're doing great man!

A lesson in hope from a man who should have none

by Laurie Roberts - Jul. 9, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

"You may not remember me," the e-mail began, which was sad because I do, though I confess I hadn't thought of Slim Smith in a while.

I never actually knew the guy, but he used to come to my house a couple of times a week. And then, suddenly, he didn't anymore. Maybe that's why his recent e-mail, responding to something I'd written, struck a chord.

"You may not remember me," he began, "but I used to be the metro columnist at the Tribune. This was before I went to prison for DUI, of course. Anyway, that experience has taught me a lot, including a lesson or two on humility . . . "

I made arrangements to meet Smith at his home in Tempe, more a room than a home really, but still, a decent place to begin again. I'm not sure what I expected to find - self-pity maybe, or anger or resignation. Instead, I met a man who has used the last year to profitable result, if not exactly the kind that you can eat.

Smith's a Southerner who grew up reading stories and telling them, which is how he came to newspapering: first in his native Mississippi and later in California and at the East Valley Tribune. For 25 years, he worked in newspapers, the last two as a columnist, his dream job.

While he enjoyed telling other people's stories, his own was something of a mess. A divorce in 2001 led to loneliness, which in turn led to extended stints at the neighborhood bar. Two DUIs in a year should have been a signal. Instead, it became a way of life.

Feb. 19, 2006. Smith doesn't have to fish for the date. A few beers at a bar led to a few more at another. "I left and the lights hit me and boy, my life changed from that point on. Everything got changed inside out, starting with that night."

Smith spent everything he had fighting that DUI, his third, the one that would send him to prison and cost him his job. He did his time - four months - and figured he could pick up the pieces. He worked for a while for Mark Salem, who had given him a place to live and a job in his car-repair shop. But eventually, having no mechanical skills, he ran out of things to paint and did the honorable thing. He moved on, sure that something would turn up.

He worked as an $8.30-an-hour barista at a coffee shop but lost the job when he couldn't provide a doctor's note after an illness. This because he couldn't afford the $112 to see a doctor.

Smith hasn't yet taken another $8-an-hour job. Instead, he's focused on finding something that'll allow him to use his skills and rebuild his life.

It was a year ago last week that Smith got out of prison. So far, he's had one interview, a publishing firm that never called back. The F word - felony - is not exactly a career enhancer.

These days, Smith's reach extends about as far as his bicycle and his determination will carry him, which I'm hoping will be a good distance. If you'd like to follow his story, he's keeping a blog (

There are a lot of unemployed people in the country right now, good people just looking for a chance and finding none. Already this year, 438,000 jobs are gone. That's 73,000 a month.

It would be easy to give up, easy to become isolated, to question where you fit in when who we are is so tied to what we do. Yet Smith sees value in this last year, in coming to terms with his flaws and deepening his faith in God and maybe himself.

"In some respects I know I'm a better person for having been through it," he told me. "I know what it's like not to have $100 to go to the doctor. I know what it's like not to have a job, not to have a career. I know what it's like to be judged . . .

"I think the most important thing to do is don't quit. The only way you lose is if you quit.

And to recognize that there are a lot of things outside your control and you can't let that consume you. I'm hopeful. I mean, look: I think my net worth is like $500. I don't have anything. My family and kids are far away. I'm alone. I don't have any real prospects, and I think if you look at that you can get pretty depressed about it, but I don't. I'm hopeful. I think you have to be."

Reach Roberts at or 602-444-8635.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Blue Like Jazz the movie - Coming soon to a theater near you

A very thought provoking list

and I really really liked it too. It was written by blogger nakedpastor (aka David Hayward...a Vineyard Pastor in Canada)

10 Little Pieces of Advice to Take or Leave ... I'll take it!

1. Lead leaderlessly. That is, lead in a non-leading kind of way. Serve. Step out of the leadership position continually. Perpetually. Create the vacuum for others to lead and serve.

2. Don’t go anywhere. No goal. No destiny. No vision. Keep it real and keep it present. You either serve the vision or you serve the people.

3. Don’t ever think of the “church” as some kind of entity ASIDE from the real flesh and blood people that constitute it. The church isn’t the entity, even though it wants to be and constantly endeavors to be.

4. Allow worship and expression of all sorts to be indigenous. Never think of worship as instruction. It is God-ward, not human-ward.

5. If prayer is always in the form of a song and never said or read, so be it.

6. Allow freedom of expression, even if it’s going to be weird, uncomfortable, and questionable. Judge it afterwards. Yes, when done with mutual respect, we do get used to this honest and authentic form of dialog and learning.

7. Let sinners play too.

8. Question everything.

9. Never be overly impressed with another person. No one is good but God alone.

10. Don’t be afraid to kill the mood. Always be honest and free, no matter how uncomfortable you might cause others to feel.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

A nice weekend and some random stuff

We had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. On Friday night Patty and I decided to stay in for the night and we watched an old movie called Born on the 4th of July. An awesome movie that portrayed how the Vietnam Vets were treated when they came back from the war. It starred a very young Tom Cruise who was injured in the war and how he was treated when he got back. In the end he questioned why we were in Vietnam in the first place and ended up leading protests against the war. Hmmmm...kind of sounds like a war we're in right now doesn't it?

We could hear the fireworks from our house as the local fireworks in Gilbert were shot off from the High School my daughter graduated from not too far from our house. The smaller dog could have cared less and was not bothered at all by them. But our bigger dog was a big wuss. She was terrified the entire time. It is no wonder that animal shelters and local pounds fill up on the 4th of July due to pets that run away.

On Saturday morning we went to the gym. Then my parents arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon. The girls went to see the new movie Get Smart. They said it was a good movie. My dad and I headed out to see the Sprint Cars on the half-mile track at Manzanita Speedway. I really enjoy the Sprint Cars. Sadly though, on this night, I saw one of the most horrific crashes I have ever seen in person. In one of the heat races, three of the cars were going full throttle out of the fourth turn and the guy on the outside wasn't going to make it. He hit the wall and then barrel rolled about twenty times doen the front straightaway right in front of us with the final hit upside down on the roll cage ending up on the wheels. It looked to me like something in the roll cage broke. It took about 45 minutes to get him out of the car and he was transported to the hospital. Near the end of the night he was still undergoing MRI's but they said he had a pretty good concussion. I pray that the guy will be okay. The winner of the feature race started near the back and picked off cars one at a time and ended up winning the race.

This morning we went to the early service with my parents and Pastor Danny gave an awesome sermon. Afterwards we went out to eat (yes it was sushi) and then my folks headed back to Tucson. Patty and I went to the gym in the afternoon. Her sister is without Air Conditioning in her house until at least tomorrow so she is staying with us tonight.

Tomorrow it's back to work for me. I've enjoyed the week off. Tomorrow I'll need to catch up on a lot of my cooperative observer paperwork and Tuesday I'm heading out to Alamo Lake to make a repair. I have a string of radar shifts coming up too which will be fun now that our monsoon season in in gear right now. Perhaps I can encourage some of these storms to come into the Valley? We'll see.

I was approached by a co-worker not too long ago asking me if I would run a full marathon with her. She has never done one. I swore to myself that I would never do another full one again, but...I don't want to discourage someone from doing one. I'm going to start a formal training program in September and run the Tucson Half-Marathon with her in December and see how I'm doing then. I will make my mind up then.

I hope you all had a nice relaxing time over the long weekend. Be nice to someone this week, just because you can! :-)


Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

I hope all of you are enjoying the day with friends and family and being thankful for our freedom.

Wednesday evening I drove down to Tucson to see my parents. We went to one of my favorite little eateries called Hot Dog Heaven. They serve a real Chicago Style Dog. My mom, dad, grandma and myself all went.

Thursday I took my mom out for lunch. The place she had chosen was closed for remodeling so we headed to another Mexican place and had lunch. It was fun, food was good and it is something my mom and I look forward to every year now.

Drove back to Phoenix and borrowed Obie's truck again (thanks man). Patty and I took the loveseat back and instead of exchanging it for another, Patty changed her mind and we got a futon instead and put it in the spareroom/computer room.

Today, Patty and I just putzed around the house and did some cleaning. We also went to the gym and then came back home for some hot dogs and hamburgers. We're not really going to go see any fireworks tonight, it's just too damn hot out. But I have a feeling that Mother Nature is going to supply her own fireworks tonight.

Tomorrow, my mom and dad are coming up here. The girls are going to see a movie and my dad and I are going to see the Sprint Cars on the half-mile dirt track at Manzanita Speedway. Then they will go to church with us Sunday and we'll go out to eat afterwards (my guess is it's gonna be sushi).

Be safe out there tonight. Be blessed and bless someone else too.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Being Blessed is good too!

Blessing others is awesome. I love doing it. But today, I was blessed by two people that gave me a helping hand.

Patty and I purchased a new sofa, loveseat and recliner. I had to get rid of the old sofa and chair too. Obie was kind enough to let me use his pickup truck which made getting stuff back and forth a lot easier than it would have been had I tried to use the Ford Escape. So Obie was a blessing to me for letting me borrow his truck.

Bryant also blessed me today by sheer muscle. Him and I loaded and unloaded the stuff. So Bryant blessed me by tagging along and helping me.

Thanks Obie and Bryant! You guys definitely Rawk!

There is a slight problem with our loveseat though and I may need to take it back. One of the legs will not go on due to a defect. I'm on my way to Tucson in a bit so I will worry about it when I get back.

I'm heading to Tucson in about an hour. I'm spending the night at my parents house then taking my mom out to lunch tomorrow for our annual Mothers Day date. Obviously it's past Mothers Day but we couldn't connect then so we're doing it tomorrow.


From the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

My children make a pastime of judging one another - and themselves. But I am the only capable Judge, and I have acquitted you through My own blood. Your acquittal came at the price of My unparalleled sacrifice. That is why I am highly offended when I hear My children judge one another or indulge in self - hatred.

If you live close to Me and absorb My word, the Holy Spirit will guide and correct you as needed. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Me.

Luke 6:37 (The Message)

37-38"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."