I met Julian while still a relatively innocent young pastor in New Jersey.
All I wanted to do was tell everyone about Jesus - His love for everyone and how everyone can love Him back by loving everyone like He does.
It was 1979; before I got my doctorate in order to get those two "calls" avec more obscene perks and higher pay stubs than any clergywoman/man who pretends to follow Jesus should ever...
With appropriate apologies to hyper-Calvinists, it was the purest time in my life and ministry; before prostituting myself for perks and pay and slithering around in all kinda inappropriate behaviors for someone who dares to claim Jesus as Lord as well as Savior.
Anyway, I'll never forget Julian, about my age now back then, interrupting another one of those rather insignificant clergy meetings being held on somebody's back porch by pointing to a caterpillar crawling across a railing and saying, "How lavish is God's creativity and care for all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, the Lord God made them all...He gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell how great is God Almighty...Yes, Bob, He made all things well."
It brought Zeffirelli's Brother Sun, Sister Moon to mind; which I had seen seven years before meeting Julian.
It brought our Lord's Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to mind; which I had been reading over and over and over again since a child.
Today, I cannot get past that part about considering the lilies of the field and birds of the air...
How far today's imperial clergy have come from...
If Jesus can serve, why can't I?
Who's really "Lord" of my life?
Yeah, I know that line about those who lead also serve.
Yeah, I was trained to be a church statesman; or, more appropriately, a neo...
Yeah, I was told my call and gifting and training entitled me to more than...
I was told wrong.
I thought wrong.
I cannot know Jesus very well if I live like those who crucified Him.
If I need to be served by call and gifting and training, my master can't be Jesus.
Does any clergywoman/man in her or his or maybe His right mind really think we're supposed to live better than...?
I'm giving away as much as I can.
People come into my study, look at all of the stuff, and say, "I like that...That's cool...neat...I wish I..."
I give it to 'em: cups, Bibles, briefcases, pictures, and...
Some protest, "No, I can't take that..."
I insist, "No, you must...Help me be free...Help me know Jesus better...You asked...You receive..."
Watch the clip preceding this section right now.
Don't read another word until you watch that clip.
O.K., how strange that vestments to identify a clergywoman/man's call cost so much.
How tragically ironic that stoles symbolizing servanthood are so outrageously expensive; and how much more outrageous that I bought/got so many of 'em over the years.
If you're a high steepler or low steepler or whatever and into that masquerade, please write to me at 221 N. Main Street, Belvidere, Illinois 61008; and I'll send 'em all to you.
Help me be free.
Help me know Jesus better.
I'm keeping my robe with the stripes that heal that Grandpa Hayden gave to me back in 1982 and four liturgically seasonal stoles that were given to me by special friends; but I only wear 'em anymore for weddings and funerals and occasions requiring me to look, uh, whatever for pictures.
And if you're kind enough to include postage and a donation so I can fulfill His call through Rick to get my hands dirtier for Jesus - go to the 4/1/11 edition of KD (Clergy Meology) - I'd be genuinely thankful.
I've got a bunch of 'em from places all around the world - even the Holy Land. They're worth thousands; and I want you to have them or give them to...
A friend who was part of a covenant group avec moi that almost made it before clergy meology got the best of us - makes me think of Wyatt's lament at the end of Easy Rider - chimed in about the stir caused by the KD on Clergy Meology.
He mentioned a charlatan who ripped off a church from a true brother.
I wrote back, "I haven't even mentioned the assistant pastor in ___ without any credentials who is getting 380K a year as a humble servant of Jesus! It's the same guy who ripped off megabucks from people in ___ and hasn't shown any repentance by trying to pay 'em back with any part of the 380K a year that he's making as a humble servant of Jesus!"
Other pastors in ___ worship him and want to be like him even while secretly turning another shade of green.
It's a vocational hazard with little to do with...Jesus.
Lord, I lost Your way.
Thank You for allowing me to be humiliated.
Thank You for taking away the perks and pay stubs.
Thank You for no compensatory raises in over two years.
Thank You for an empty wallet, low balance, and...
Thank You for helping/compelling me to understand Matthew 5:3; 6:19-21.
Thank You for the hunger to know You better by a renewed hunger to serve.
Thank You for people who want my stuff.
Thank You for compelling then gracing me to break those chains.
I can sweat, answer the phone, take out the garbage, sweep, clean toilets, cart and carry for others, eat modestly, eat inexpensively, dirty my hands, soil my clothes, and serve above self at home, church, and...
I can be better at...following You.
I would rather be a doorkeeper...
...for Christ's sake...in Whose name I pray.
Blessings and Love!
The best thing I ever did was unfairly criticize you so I ended up getting to know you and read your stuff. This piece is so right on. With 20 months left to retirement, I have to say that I am really, really, really tired of the BS that goes on the in the church masquerading as ministry. I don’t think we all have to live like St Francis. But careerism has overtaken too many of our colleagues. The tragic thing is that they are wonderful people who want to serve God. But as you point out so well in this post, they/we get sucked into the career stuff. The best things I have done over the past 37 years have absolutely nothing to do with my phd, stoles or pay. They have to do with helping people find themselves and/or God. May God continue to bless your work and words.
Brother Bob [of the underground steeple society!],
Julian is Alexander of course, whom I knew 1975-78 at New Providence and who preached in my installation service about "exoskeleton," which Harmony and I remember to this day!
And if I had a church and still wore a robe, I might send you some postage for a nice stole. I always wanted one of those things JUST to add some color to my stupid all black robe--which really wasn't me. Harmony and I tease all the time about how she's the "brown" bird and I'm the "brightly-colored" bird, ie, splashy, dynamic, exuberant, etc.
I thought about asking whether you had a Jewish prayer shawl...but then, I really don't need it either....
The Lord has been speaking to me in the last few weeks about humility..."Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, and He will exalt you in due time"...I Peter 5:5-9 and James 4 from the middle of verse 4 through verse 10. In the James passage verse 9 (in the Amplified) says, "As you draw near to God be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep over your disloyalty. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame for your sins.
The Lord gave me these passages one evening while I was driving my car, coming home from a meeting at 1st Free Church where a group of people went to hear Avi Lipkin talk about the Middle East. I was disturbed by some things I had heard and seen at that meeting and I had left the meeting after about an hour's time...just got up in the middle and walked out of the room...and so I was talking to God about how disturbed I was when I heard Him say that "It's not about us, it's about Jesus." Time is short. Our destiny is to become more and more like Christ, and it flows from one central place, that of humility. We have to get out of the way (and that includes our "stuff") so that He may be lifted up. And that really was your message but so many just don't "get" it...we are to be in the world but not of it.
Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The government is on His shoulders. He is our High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek. He sits at the Father's right hand, on the Mercy Seat, and he intercedes for us continually, by name, with the Father...so that the Father's instructions are received by Jesus and communicated to us through the continual oil of the Holy Spirit. (Zechariah 4). He gave His life for us. We are to be ready and willing to give our lives for Him. How can we possibly not be humbled to the point of grieving? We are to decrease so that He may increase. Again, He spoke..."It's not to be about us; it is about Jesus."
So Amen to your message...
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