Wednesday, February 29, 2012
You've probably seen what I just saw:
They're not happy in Gaza.
They're not happy in Egypt.
They're not happy in Libya.
They're not happy in Morocco.
They're not happy in Iran.
They're not happy in Iraq.
They're not happy in Yemen.
They're not happy in Afghanistan.
They're not happy in Pakistan.
They're not happy in Syria.
They're not happy in Lebanon.
It goes on:
They're happy in England.
They're happy in France.
They're happy in Italy.
They're happy in Germany.
They're happy in Sweden.
They're happy in the USA.
They're happy in Norway.
They're happy in Canada.
They're happy in Holland.
They're happy in Denmark.
They're happy in every country that is not Muslim.
And who do they blame?
Not their leadership.
Not their own lethargy.
Not their own industry.
Not their own primitive social mores.
They blame the countries that are happy...
and want to change them!
Yeah, it's true.
The Muslims are cranky.
Buuuuuuut so's everybody else.
O.K., you've probably seen this too:
That's really, really, really true; and it is the cure for all of the unhappiness rightfully listed in the section above as well as unacknowledged.
All of the below are unhappy and will so stay until all are born, uh, again and from above.
Seeing is believing.
We see everybody's unhappy without Jesus through whom we can approach each other, experience reconciliation, and then live happily ever after.
Not everybody over there or over here see the real Jesus of the NT who cuts through the - Oh, what's that technical psychosocial term to describe global/national/ecclesiastical/familial dysfunction? - crap.
We - and, yes, I mean all of the below including you/me/them - are so religious about what's right and wrong that we fail to see the real Jesus who cuts through the, uh, religious crap through a reconciling relationship with Him that commands/compels/enables supernatural reconciliation with former, uh, enemies.
Yes, we've seen it all before.
Do we believe it?
Jesus said, "If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn't take it seriously, I don't reject him. I didn't come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I'm saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word."
Somehow I/you/they overlooked that/Him.
Blessings and Love!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
As you know, I reserved the inaugural book-signing for Woodstock HD on 3/17 because of my loyalties to them.
Don't miss it...and bring lots of friends to shop for other stuff and see the bike that I'm coveting!
Other signings in the works.
However, that's not why I'm writing today.
I received confirmation this morning that I will have a book-signing at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame on August 7 (1:00 - 3:00 p.m.).
In the meantime, check out the I Just Wanna Ride Tab above for how to order YOUR copy!
Sunday, February 26, 2012
"I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day,
making all distinctions clear,
those who have never seen will see,
those who made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed
"If Jesus were to come back and see what's being done in His name, He'd never stop throwing up."
Woody Allen wrote that.
Before pretending consternation, take a look at Revelation 3:14ff.
I may be wrong but I don't think He sees anything much different in today's pulpiteers/pewsitters than what nauseated Him as noted in Matthew 23 and a plethora of other recordings.
Today's pulpiteers/pewsitters seem so remotely/scarcely/occasionally/coincidentally connected to the real Jesus of the NT.
Confessionally, I feel like Paul in confessing I'm worse than most.
My logs are heavy.
But I just don't see anything in Holy Scripture suggesting personal sin is license to pretend any of us is any better or that much worse than anyone else and only remotely/scarcely/occasionally/coincidentally connected to the real Jesus of the NT.
I see no reason not to suggest there's a lotta room for improvement in me/you/us/them.
He was especially hard on clergy and anyone else who tried to turn a relationship with Him and His into a religion of human invention (e.g., rubrics, ritual, ceremony, collectively rites, vestments, bylaws, constitutions, and other stuff only remotely/scarcely/occasionally/coincidentally connected to...).
Hosea 4 comes to mind.
Really, think about it for Christ's sake as well as your own, how much of what goes on in today's church has any remote/scarce/occasional/coincidental connection to...?
If I have to catalogue the illustrations, you ain't gonna get it/Him anyway.
It probably means you're too religious to get...
Everybody needs to exorcise every now and then.
If I'm reading/praying John 17 along with the end of Matthew 23 along with that plethora of parallel passages correctly, He's really, really, really put off even POed as well as saddened by posers in pulpits and pews who are too "right" and too many "other" things to hang together in fellowship, worship, sacrament, service, and so on.
I think clergy - take a long look at Hosea 4 - really, really, really agitate Him in an Almighty God kinda way when they set the tone for segregation, separation, and schism.
And before you invoke those isolated texts that are used to rationalize those "s" words that bring another "s" word to mind, how dare any of us tell those outside of the borders of Christendom how to get along when we are so divided over really, really, really inconsequential in the end things like...?
Again, if I have to catalogue the illustrations...
Shame on you/me/us/people who fence the table as if you/I/we/they owned it!
Shame on you/me/us/people who talk about reconciliation while setting such a poor example of it/discipleship!
Shame on you/me/us/people who make others twice as fit for...!
Shame on you/me/us/people just looking for those specks so you/I/we/they can go your/my/our/their way in arrogance so unbecoming of anyone who really, really, really knows Him!
Shame on you/me/us/others for being such sin-filled accomplices for too long!
A church changed youth directors.
While the transition was even better than could have been imagined, a mom and dad stopped worshiping with the church because they were close to the old one.
Forgetting their baptismal promises not to mention countless Biblical directives on proper parenting in a spiritual kinda way, they allowed their babies to stay away from the church because they were so close to the...
Babies and other immature disciples - posers - come in all ages.
Anyway, think about the example being set by those parents.
And think about the examples being set by segregating, separating, and schismatic pulpiteers who complain/banter/moan/whine about pewsitters who have learned to do the same and hop from church to...
Where do church hoppers learn to hop around to find others smelling of their same barf?
From those posing pulpiteers who set the examples for those "s" words that's just a bunch of...!
Jesus was very clear about misleading children by lack of Biblical education and example!
I don't expect segregationists, separatists, and schismatics to be familiar with, uh, Him on that or much else that doesn't suit their fancy/fraud.
In Forgotten God, about the Holy Spirit yet indicative of those who seem to forget His insistence on people who pretend He's Lord and Savior of all to act like it in relation to the whole family and not just the appealing parts of it, Francis Chan wrote about something that we've all experienced too much in His larger perspective.
"A while back," he recalled, "two women from my church grew increasingly angry at each other. The three of us sat in my office, and I listened to them passionately express the reasons for their frustration. I lacked the wisdom to determine who was 'more in the wrong.' I just wept."
Continuing, "I told them I was deeply saddened because I knew how much our Father hated this."
Concluding, "I believe that if we truly cared about the Holy Spirit's grief, there would be fewer fights, divorces, and splits in our churches....I pray for the day when believers care more about the Spirit's grief than their own."
Stop making excuses for the increasing navel-gazing, segregating, separating, and...
"Anyone who causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble..."
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I've had to call on my favorite 1%ers to protect me.
I'm buying mass candles.
I'm 72 hours into an absolute fast.
A call has been placed to my insurance man to increase coverage now that death threats are imminent.
I've applied for a permit to carry.
Power of attorney has been granted to...
I feel like a scrawny shepherd boy being chased in the desert by a brutish king.
Forget being disremembered for my 60th and 35th if you know what I mean.
I'll never be able to upgrade my pony.
Yeah, it will be a bestseller; but I'll be long gone before...
Help me, Jesus!
They want those precious...keys!
Uh, now would be a good time to look to the right and click on "Controversy Comes to Belvidere Church" to review why I'm in such a desperate state before riding against the wind avec moi.
Of course, I'm just having a little fun and exercising a little preventive medicine just in case...
It has been interesting in a penitentially reflective kinda way.
Did you see all of those comments at the bottom of the last edition?
Not since my favorite local street preacher told me when the world was gonna end and I shared it with...
Amazing with all that's goin' on out there that who gets keys to the church should cause such...
I knew I could/may get into lots of trouble over who gets keys when someone really close to me asked in a rather condescending way if I really think every member of the family should have a key to "open" areas while exercising some common sense about other "limited access" (aka offices/studies) lock-downs.
Response: "Well, uh, I dunno for sure; but I'm just trying to follow Jesus; and I can't imagine or even re-imagine Jesus keeping keys from family members or even...If someone can give me a good reason other than stuff like control, prestige, power, and..."
The conversation ended.
But it reminded me of another conversation with Tony about 25 years ago in Kansas City.
Actually, it was when I was a really young and famous pulpiteer making enough $ to upgrade my own mule - Psst! There were folks who would have helped me back then even without me asking and now I can't figure out why they haven't helped celebrate that 60th and 35th and... - and I invited Tony and Phil to speak and sing to our officers and church.
I'll never forget Tony telling us what his son Bart said as a young boy while they were together in Haiti.
Tony had counseled Bart, "Now if anybody asks you for money, don't give anything to them or they'll just keep asking for more."
Tony said he never had a good answer for Bart on that one.
Then Tony talked to us about Matthew 25:31-46.
I kinda feel it's related to our thing about, uh, keys and, uh, other, uh, stuff.
Snyder on Tozer: "He measured everything in the Church by this one criterion: Does it exalt Jesus Christ?...To Tozer, it seemed that Christianity was in the hands of those who wanted to be more like the world than like Christ...big business...show business...Madison Avenue advertising..."
Tozer on authentic faith: "I do not care what Plato said...Let Plato kneel before the authoritative Word of God...[The Word of God]...is not the result of a group of religious people meeting together, having a board meeting and deciding...I do not go to priests, pastors, bishops, or doctors. I go to God and His Son, Jesus Christ...We have bushels of religious gatherings but only once in a great while is God in the midst...[The true Church]...is a living organism born of the Spirit, washed in the blood of Christ and joined to the Body of Christ by a mysterious operation of the Holy Ghost called regeneration...Could it be that the conflict is not with a harlot, a gambler and the worldly businessman, but with the religionists?...Shall it be a religion or shall it be Christ? Shall it be churchianity or shall it be Jesus Christ? Shall it be pride or shall it be humility in Jesus Christ?...Jesus will not walk with the proud and scornful."
Speaking of keys, read Matthew 16:19.
I don't pretend to know all of what He meant there; but it seems to me that the really important keys are His...and He doesn't keep 'em from anyone in the family.
Go back to Bart.
Go back to Jesus.
Who gets keys?
A little common sense...and Christianity will...
Blessings and Love!
Monday, February 20, 2012
As we move to the completion of our renovation/expansion and prepare for the dedication on June 3, we're inching closer and closer and closer to the worst controversy in our church's recent history.
It's the most explosive issue to hit us in nearly two decades.
Every other problem that we've faced will seem like pachyderms taking on a donkey (synonym) for the White House.
Having survived a pastoral transition of over seven years, idolaters, auto-suggesters, narcissists, irregulars, irascibles, and irreconcilables who love Jesus by hating everybody else, this one has the potential to tear families apart, cause members to take our dirty laundry into the streets while exposing it in local rags, devastate the budget, and make worship wars look like cold peace.
Distrust, suspicion, and cynicism recently exorcised may return with even more demonically vile force.
We may not survive.
We may be added to the 10+ churches closing their doors every day in America.
Help us, Jesus!
We're about to change the locks.
Just one question will ignite the...
Who gets keys?
I've been around long enough to remember the good old days when everybody had a key.
There was a time when I didn't need to carry one.
All I had to do was stand on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Main Street in Belvidere (our location) and just ask anyone passing by if I could use theirs.
Those days are coming to an end; and maybe...
We may not have to wait for Israel to bomb Iran for Armageddon.
Requests are coming in via voicemail and e-mail and post-its and finger-pointing-face-to-face...
And if I texted, twittered, tweeted, or Facebooked, I'd really be...
So I've started to fast.
I've gone on retreats.
Because the Kingdom must surely depend on who gets keys, I've begged Him for revelation.
Help us, Jesus!
Who gets keys?
Keys symbolize volition, ownership, control, prestige, power, and prerogative.
If I have a key and she/he doesn't, that means I'm...
Why should she/he have a key and not me?
It's more polemical than poetic.
It has the potential to rip us apart.
Because so much is riding on it, I've promised to up His take on the royalties if you know what I mean.
Help us, Jesus!
Who gets keys?
O.K., enough fun at our expense.
Hyperbole can be so exaggerating.
But, yeah, I'm concerned.
While it hasn't gone viral, uh, yet, truthfully, I'm being asked.
Who gets keys?
Just like some country clubs, it seems easier to get into the eternal family of faith than...
It only takes believing in Jesus to get into heaven with some very special existential benefits.
To get a key will require getting approved by, uh, uh, uh,...
I guess it will be the church board(s).
How are they gonna figure out who doesn't get 'em on the board(s)?
This ain't about need.
Remember, it's about volition, ownership, control, prestige, power, and prerogative.
Or maybe it's about being a family of faith.
Do I deny a family member a key to the house?
If I can't trust members of my family to...?
Sure, there's gotta be some common sense.
Forget that; but...
Some rooms gotta be off limits to everybody except for the ones who need access.
Not everybody needs access to...
You know what I mean.
But how about fellowship areas, chapel, sanctuary, and, uh, toilets?
If we trust each other, which is supposed to be a hallmark of the Body of Christ, it makes sense to give keys to "open" areas to everybody in the family!
Staying with the subject in a bigger picture kinda way, I was stunned by a journalist's take on I Just Wanna Ride (FTW) and its author.
A big newspaper in the East was/is very interested in the book's theme(s); unlike local versions not to mention my denomination or even presbytery's newsletter(s).
Of course, the franchise once told Lloyd Ogilvie to take his TV show and...
Click on http://www.timesleader.com/features/etc/Minister_rsquo_s_message_a_motorcycle_metaphor_02-19-2012.html
If that doesn't work, go to google, search for Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), click on features for 2/19/12, and find the article by Mary Therese Biebel.
Yeah, there's some shameless self-promotion there; especially for the distrusting, suspicious, and cynical.
Be that as it is, the journalist really captured the author's heart and soul as much as capturing the author's desire to reflect the heart and soul of...
Blessings and Love!
Friday, February 17, 2012
"This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world,
but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness.
They went for the darkness because
they were not really interested in
Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil,
addicted to denial and illusion,
won't come near it,
a painful exposure.
anyone working and living in truth and reality
so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."
Eugene Peterson, The Message
I don't believe in purgatory 'cause I can't find it in the Bible.
It sounds good if, uh, you need to make a better case for after life than you did in life.
On the other hand, I've often re-imagined some kinda purgatory - Hey! Hey! Hey! I'm a mainliner and we're always re-imagining stuff that ain't in there! - that's terribly uncomfortable pour moi.
It goes like this.
I die and find myself alone in some kinda video viewing room or movie theater.
Suddenly, a video/film of my life starts playing; and, simultaneously, uh, He sits next to me, puts one arm around my shoulder, passes a bag of popcorn to me, and says, "This should be interesting."
Knowing He already knows what's coming in an omniscient kinda way, I start getting anxious.
Unnervingly, He shouts, "Stop the recording! Bob, what was that all about? What were you thinking?"
Fortunately, I know Him as Savior as well as Lord; meaning I get in by the suffering skin of His gracious cross.
But, and please don't tell any of our anal theologians or ecclesiastical thought police or other churchmeisters, I often re-imagine that in a purgatorial kinda way.
No, I'm not having a flashback; and, yeah, I inhaled but never dropped if you know what I mean.
Even I have one.
And every once in a while - actually, frequently - I can hear Him asking, "What were you thinking?"
As I've mentioned before, I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus.
As my big one approaches - click on "My Birthday Confession" (1/26/12) in the right column for a review - I realize I don't know as much as I pretended previously.
I'm not even close to arriving; and every time I open up the Bible or hang out with Him in prayer/meditation-motivated-by-the-Word, I feel, except for hairline/waistline, like a rookie all over again.
One reason for that is I'm still ridding myself of all of the garbage from "lower" education that got/gets in the way of His "higher" education if you know what I mean; and if you don't, take a look at 1 Corinthians 1:18ff. for a crash course. BTW, it's really interesting/challenging/convicting/converting in Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch Version if you've got one next to all of those other books on the shelves that you haven't read but really impress the...
Anyway, I spent a lot of time reading books about the book in college, seminary, graduate studies, and for the longest time.
It's like those small groups that get together for "Bible" study but really just read books about the Bible rather than reading the Bible itself.
Why spend so much time on/in secondary sources when we've got the primary source?
I like how Chan puts it in Forgotten God; recounting a conversation with some cultists who were so sure about what's in the Bible without having read it like so many of us: "I challenged them to read the Bible for themselves, rather than simply accept what they've been told about it...Had I ever sat down with the Bible and sought after its self-evident truth? Or had I passively ingested what I heard from other people, much like my front-door visitors?"
I gotta admit that I spent most of my college, seminary, graduate studies, and too many years as an ordained pastor trusting what others told me about what's in the book without ever really immersing myself into it.
I think that's a really, really, really big clue why so many churches/pulpiteers/pewsitters are so messed up like me.
I'm not saying I'm less messed up; just saying I've finally figured out how to get some of the mess out of my life/ministry.
Get into the Word more than words about the Word!
The Message: "The religion scholars and Pharisees...[aka clergy]...talk a good line, but they don't live it...It's all spit-and-polish veneer."
I think of wearing all of those ridiculous looking vestments that I can't even re-imagine Jesus wearing for cost alone not to mention, again, how Halloweenish they look and hiding behind those God-awful-expensive pulpits and pontificating about loving Jesus by loving like Jesus while being so my-way-or-the-highway and irreconcilable about inane things like liturgy, bulletins, furniture, architecture, grammar, Brooks Brothers, wingtips, blah, blah, blah, and all of the other non-Biblical-especially-since-Jesus trappings of imperial priesthood. And that's not to mention my hypocrisy of not practicing what I...
The Message: "Their lives...[uh, clergy]...are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.'"
The Message: "You're hopeless! What arrogant stupidity!"
Ouch, Ouch, Ouch.
"What were you thinking?"
Still don't too often.
I have this terrible, uh, habit of spending more time reading about Him or auto-suggesting about Him than immersing myself in...
How can I get over them/me and back to Him?
Get into the Word more than words about the Word!
I think I/we made/make a religion coincidentally/occasionally related to Him by trusting what we/they think about Him too much more than reading/digesting what He's best revealed about Himself in the Word.
The difference between eisegesis and exegesis comes to mind.
Candidly, I think today's church is more a product of eisegesis than exegesis.
Kung: "What then is the aim?...to discover what is permanent...originally meant, before it was covered with the dust and debris of two thousand years...This is not another gospel, but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today!"
Truly, I don't believe in purgatory; yet I'm really, really, really trying to get the hell out of it, uh, sooner than later, uh, if you know what I mean.
Now might be a good time to click on the link above.
Blessings and Love!
Monday, February 13, 2012
I've got a presbytery meeting on Tuesday.
For undershepherding guys/gals like me in the PCUSA, it's a vocational hazard.
If you're not "connected" to my/our particular franchise aka denomination, you don't care what PCUSA stands for; so why take up space which bears some irony because those in it don't seem to care as much about it as they used to pretend?!?!
But for folks not in my/our particular ecclesiastical ghetto, a presbytery is a bunch of pastors and elders in equal numbers in geographical proximity who get together so much more than necessary to make decisions/pontifications that nobody really cares about less than more yet they do it anyway to kinda prove to constituents that they're still really important.
Or something like that.
Don't get me wrong.
I like our presbytery; and it's a lot better than most these days in that it's still kinda irenic in a redemptive kinda way.
The coffee is usually good, we get brownies, and I get to see my friends, foes, peers, posers, and others.
It's just - Psst! This is a secret that nobody should know back in the churches that underwrite the cost of these meetings a la gas, vehicular wear and tear, paper, refreshments, person hours, and the like - that we really don't need to meet as often as we do for what we don't accomplish.
Again, I kinda like to go anyway to support a presbytery that's still trying to honor connections in a John 17, 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans 12 kinda way.
It's worth my...
And guessing your franchise ain't much different in the short run, it may be worth your time to read on.
We get advance copies of committee reports before meetings to inform our prayers, bantering, and moaning.
What caught my attention in the recent batch was a very handsome compensatory package (salary) being given to a rookie youth director in a fabulously well-to-do church.
I compared what the rookie just out of seminary and about to be ordained is gonna get to the packages that others in the presbytery who've been around a lot longer with some having been ordained even before he was a gleam in his momma's...
Coupling that with knowledge of others who haven't had increases in theirs for, uh, a long time...
Simply, the rookie is gonna get lots more than an unhealthy % of our presbytery.
Parenthetically, before the cynical, suspicious, and distrusting assume I'm campaigning pour moi, I get paid, uh, O.K. for the times; and while my latest book wasn't written with cash in mind/spirit, I may...
Moreover, I know Jesus has concerns when we're upset about how He can be so generous with others...
However, if we're really as connected as we say we are, wouldn't it be nice to chip in connectionally to assist those who aren't serving in such a fabulously well-to-do church that can, uh, afford to distort market value?
When I was the "senior" pastor - Don't you love the humility of that designation? Where does Jesus fit into churches that already have a "senior" pastor? - of three really rich churches, I couldn't rid myself of the guilt of getting paid less than I wanted but more than I deserved until I started insisting we and even selfish me share what we had with those who had not.
It seemed like the only "connectional" thing to do in a Matthew 25 kinda way.
Again, I'm not begrudging the generosity to the rookie, uh, free agent - I mean the Yankees do it! - but we're supposed to care about everybody in the franchise and beyond the borders of our parochial ghetto in a connectional Christian kinda way.
You know, "As you do it to/for them, you do it to/for..."
Because I can't even get folks to pimp my book at presbytery meetings, I'm not gonna bring it up at tomorrow's meeting.
I hope somebody is connectionally caring enough to do it.
Of course, these aren't good days for any kinda connectionalism.
Let's face it.
Franchises are being torn apart by folks who've never read/digested true discipleship directives like John 17, 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans 12.
Our country is being torn apart by increasing ideologically and politically partisan politics.
We can't even get folks to behave at youth sports events.
Look what happened after the, uh, Patriots lost the Super Bowl.
But that ain't a license for anyone trying to be true to Him.
Being connected has responsibilities...like when anyone in our connections needs...
One of my homiletics professors often said, "Never end anything with an interrogative!"
So I'm gonna take a risk.
Does anyone familiar with Jesus think Jesus would smile at churches and clergy who live that much better than...?
I think He'd ask rhetorically, "How did you miss what I said about...?"
Blessings and Love!