Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter & Reality; a Semi-Lament.

"Precious and fragile things, need special handling.  My God, what have we done to you?

We always tried to share, the tenderest of care.  Now look what we have put you through.

Angels with silver wings, shouldn't know suffering.  I wish I could take the pain for you.

If God has a master plan, that only He understands, I hope it's your eyes He's seeing through.

Things get damaged.  Things get broken.  I thought we'd manage.  But words left unspoken, left us so brittle, there was so little left to give."
Depeche Mode

I'm pretty sure that this is the first & only time I've begun a blog post without any Scripture verses.  Hmmmm...

And today is Easter...
and, yes, he HAS risen.

Also, I know I haven't posted in a LONG time.  I had some problems with Blogger, and I am far from being the most technologically proficient guy.  I had a friend help me out.  Thanks to him, things should be running fairly smoothly for me from here on least as far as this online thing goes.

The rest of my life, not so much...


Let me state for the record that I am a truly terrible Christian.  
In fact, at best I am a "Second Class Christian."

#1. I have been told by certain Charismatic friends that I am disobedient because I have not been "Baptized in the Spirit," with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
#2. I have been told by some Catholics I know that I am in danger of the fires of hell...or at least purgatory, because I have not embraced the true church.
#3. I can be a christian, but I will walk with a spiritual limp because I am not a Calvinist.
#4. I am in error, because I am not a Dispensationalist.
#5. I am a Compromiser & False Teacher, because I have no problem what-so-ever with Evolution and the rest of modern science.

Recently, I've run into more than a few people who are Eastern Orthodox.  In one form or another, they have implied that I am not a part of the true apostolic faith.

It really stinks when you just want to put your faith in the faithfulness of Jesus.
I mean, what kind of Christian does that?

If I am lucky enough that God's grace is actually powerful enough to redeem a loser like me, I guess I'll be sitting at the little kid's table in heaven. (That's not such a bad thing.  I'm pretty sure C.S. Lewis will be there with me.)

If I took off my subconscious/emotional/spiritual/"whatever" shirt and showed you my chest and back, you would not see a sculpted work of "buffetude" from some gym work out.  No, what you would see are scars.  Lots and lots of scars. (My Dad told me a month or so ago, that I've seen a lot of pain in this life.  I hadn't thought about it all that much, but he's right.  Mostly in others, but plenty on my own.)

The ugliest and most painful scars that you would see on me are the ones I've been given by my fellow believers.  And they are all over the place on me.

We all have scars.  That's a part of life.  We all carry them in various ways.  Many of us just put on a long sleeve turtleneck sweater in the summer.  Personally, I try to stamp mine into the ground.  It never works.  They're still there.


As of late, I've been looking for a new church to attend.  Specifically, I'm looking for a church that has a Sunday night service.  I have to work Sunday mornings now, so I don't have a lot of options.  I'm not interested in a Saturday evening service.  I get off really early on Saturdays, so I'd like to fish with my dad or go ride my bicycle.

It's pretty meager pickings trying to find a Sunday night service.

Then there is the problem of ME.  I am a walking, talking, living breathing difficulty.  I've never felt like I truly fit in anywhere.  I'm way too "Contrarian" for my own good.  I'm drawn to controversy, and I love to ask questions. (Christians HATE it when you ask questions!) I thrive on the weird stuff in the bible, and love it when there is stuff there that is either difficult, or impossible to explain.

I HATE simple minded answers!  Towing the party line does not impress me.  All it does is tell me that you are to lazy to think for yourself.  Worse, that you will be completely unprepared to answer the questions of someone who is truly hostile to the bible and the Gospel.  Worst of all, if you are a parent, and you push this nonsense on your kids, don't be surprised when they leave the faith after being confronted with well thought out alternatives, and your simpleminded answers don't have much traction.

Actually, while I'm on this subject, here are two "Easter" themed videos that I really, truly love.  I've read most of Rob Bell's books, and a few by Peter Rollins.  Don't get me wrong, I have some extremely profound differences & disagreements with these guys!!!

But at the same time, I like to get their perspective on things.  They are both thoughtful and highly intelligent.  Plus, I don't really believe that you can know your own opinions properly unless you see it from as many angles as possible, including those you don't see eye to eye with. (And if American christians would stop being so afraid all the time, they might just try that.) Honestly, there is no counter idea/philosophy that has caused my faith in the resurrected Christ to be shaken.

Resurrection: Rob Bell from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

I Deny the Resurrection from Peter Rollins on Vimeo.

The last one there, in particular, makes me think about the general lack of any type of social justice movement among American Evangelicals.  Near as I can tell, Jesus put a high premium on how we treat "The Least of These."  But you almost never hear anything from any of the big Evangelical leaders on these issues.  Not much about poverty, racism, sexism, pollution and creation care, and in some cases being down right anti-emigrant & anti-refugee.  They are "Pro-Birth" to be sure, but after that, they give the whole idea over to the Left, and what is more often than not, watered down Liberal theology.

Rob Bell asked WAY too many questions.  We pushed, shoved and kicked him to the door of standard  Evangelicalism.  When he walked out the door, we all stood back and said, "SEE, I told you so."

A friend of mine once noted to me that she had "Kicked him to the curb a long time ago."  My response was, "Yeah, we Christians are known for kicking people to the curb..."

So, with an attitude like mine,
it makes me a bad fit in most American church bodies... 

At the church I used to attend, I had an incident over a year ago.  Apparently, I am amazingly good at offending the feelings of people who have never bothered to even try to get to know me.  Through a truly stupid, yet innocently intended, comment on social media, I really angered a person at my church body.

Again, this person has never, EVER tried to get to know me, even though I went there for 10 years.  They had never said more than a passing "Hi" to me in all that time.  Yet, my comment, which was NOT directed at them, got them so riled that I was tossed out of a position I was in.

Personally, I would have worked for instant reconciliation if I had been a pastor.  Get the two sides together and find understanding and healing.  But that didn't happen.  I got the boot instead.  So I felt humiliated...still do.  And now I have a brand new scar.

I left the church for a while, feeling completely embarrassed.  I started going back a few months later, but it was never the same.  Every time I see this individual, I feel finger nails pulling at the scab.

The best...or worst part, of being gone was the reaction of people who I thought were my friends at this church.  I invested at least 10 years there, trying to develop relationships...and I really, truly tired my best.  I can count on less than one hand, the number of people who tried to call or get in touch with me.

When I did start going back, most seemed to not notice that I had been gone.  A few did and said things a long the line of, "I was wondering where you were."  Hardly the stuff that gives you confidence and enthusiasm to want to get involved again.

This time around, I told a select handful of people that I wouldn't be coming back due to work.  I told a friend I wanted to see how many people noticed or cared.  So far, nothing.  One pastor, on my last day, said that he wanted to get together and talk about weird stuff in the bible, because he knows I love that stuff.  I told him I would love that and to call me any time, and we could set it up.  He hasn't called.  He won't.

Today, I told a friend that I was looking for in a different church.  I also informed him that unless God told me directly to ever get involved in any kind of formal ministry again, and I did it anyway, I should be confined to the mental ward at HCMC downtown.

I don't know how many decades I have left on the planet, but I would like them to be relatively peaceful.  Working with Christians in a formal capacity is anything but peaceful.  At least that's been my experience.

Of course, all of this could be my fault.  I know I'm wired differently than most folks.  I get that.  I wish that God hadn't designed me to be a Square Peg.  But it's what I am.  I didn't think being a pain in the ass was a spiritual gift.

I simply am a bad fit for most American Christians.
I have to live with that.


For the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about wether or not you can lose your salvation.  I've also been wondering about all the people I've known over my life, and if they really are Believers.

For most of my life, I've believed in the concept of "Eternal Security."  I.e. "Once saved, always saved," based on the first chapter of Ephesians.  Another way of putting it is that if you leave the faith in one form or another, you were never truly a Believer saved by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the first place.

But I question that now.

I've watched many people walk away from the faith.  But I often wonder about those who claim to follow Jesus, yet hold to some of the weirdest shit possible when it comes to the bible and Christianity.

I know one guy...known him since he was a kid.  He grew up in a Christian home, went to  a Christian High School and college.  Talked the talk, etc.

 I don't know what he's up to now, other than being an Air Force officer.  But the last few correspondences that we shared, he was following some crack pot, far-right preacher.  He sent me a 6 page screed on why Jesus wants us to own assault rifles in case we need to overthrow the federal government. (Alrighty then...) Nice to know he's in the military, isn't it?

I also know of others who have really twisted the bible so that they think it's perfectly fine for a man to surgically remove his penis and get falsies implanted.  God clearly made a huge mistake and put him/her in the wrong body...and if you torture the bible long enough, it will agree with you.

For the record, I can totally identify with this impulse.  I might not look it on the outside, but on the inside I am 6'3, with a full head of blonde hair, and rippled abs.  I'm also of Japanese decent.  THE PAIN IS REAL, PEOPLE!!!!

And I could go on and on and on and on and on...

Friends and associates I've known, who have now wandered into some extremely weird corners of the faith.  They are so far out there that I have no idea what they really want other than to have their own thoughts and ideas tickled and affirmed.

It's like Jesus isn't good enough anymore.

We need to have something else.  Something "Religious" to prove our position and make us feel better.  Faith isn't enough!  We need to have some sort of "Works" to live by.

Maybe it's voting for a certain party.  Maybe it's owing guns for Jesus.  Maybe it's encouraging men to wear dresses...even if it doesn't flatter their hips.  Maybe it's telling Jesus that all religions are his equal.  Maybe it's telling Jesus that sin isn't so bad that he shouldn't take it seriously.


And maybe simply isn't me or anyone else being very merciful.


After all of that, you may be right to ask, "DUDE, why do you even BOTHER with Christians and Christianity?!?!?!?!?!"

A fair question, to be sure.

And I ask myself that A LOT!

What it comes down to has everything to do with Easter.  The reality is that I simply cannot deny the resurrection.  I can't.  It's been almost 2000 years since the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That is LONG before the advent of modern science.

No one can prove it in a test tube or laboratory.  No one can produce a body after all this time.  But I simply cannot deny the resurrection of Jesus.


Despite the average Christian being an asshole, myself included, the church has survived in spite of itself.  In fact, as religious movements go, the early church should have died off within a generation.  To my knowledge, the early Christians were the only group of people I know of who got absolutely nothing for their troubles.  No wealth, fame or power.  Only torture and death.  Yet they believed in the impossible.  A man, their king, resurrected from the dead.  And they were willing to die for that belief.

The fact also remains, that despite me being a pain in the ass, I have seen over and over and over again the solid evidence in my own life, that this man/king has taken care of me even when/especially when, I really didn't deserve it.

I have my struggles...particularly when it comes to other American Christians.  I get very, very angry and frustrated.  But I haven't lost hope.  Mostly because my hope is NOT in other Christians.  My hope is in Christ.

Every day, I try to keep my faith
in the faithfulness of Christ.

I hope that's good enough.


Because he HAS risen.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

There's no other way...

"I and the Father are one."
John 10:30

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

Yesterday I had lunch with a kid from church.  I really enjoy him, his brothers and their parents.  They're one of those families that is down to earth, "Gets it," and doesn't seem to fear the big, bad world.    They take their faith seriously, too.  But not in that weird hyper-religious, "I'm more pious than you" kind of way that many christian families do.  They also seem to have some kind of intellectually gifted gene that runs through the lot of them.  This kid is the youngest, yet started college at 16.  I've been trying to encourage him and his siblings to consider going into academics, because the church in America desperately, desperately needs more down to earth intellectuals.  In my opinion, we're a virtual vacuum.

Anyway, we headed over to the new Giordano's Pizza in the Uptown area of Minneapolis.  I'm admittedly a pizza snob.  I had Giordano's pizza in Chicago, down by the famous water tower ages ago.  I learned the hard way that there simply is no point in trying to find Chicago style, deep dish pizza anywhere but Chicago.  Now I can!  They just had to import the chain up to the Twin Cities.

Since that style of pizza takes A LONG time to cook, we had plenty of time to talk.  Jared, (That's his name) is a smart kid...and more than a bit of a brainiac.  We talked a lot about Jesus and the bible.  And I do mean A LOT.

I'm a big believer in tolerance and coexistence.  I've had Atheist friends, Jewish friends, agnostic friends, a couple that dabbled in Wicca/Witchcraft, and now I'm working on getting some Muslim friends.

(Never had a Buddhist friend.  Gotta try and do something about that.)

I'm desperately hoping that President Voldemort's Muslim ban get's flushed down the toilet, and that this country gets a ton of Muslims.  I'll tell you why in a bit.


But first, a side note; TOLERANCE = Essentially, to put up with things you might very well find disagreeable, or even possibly offensive.

Honestly, if I took a swing at anyone I found myself in disagreement with, or was doing something that offended my sensibilities, I wouldn't be able to walk 50 yards in the mall.  And that would suck, because I have to go over there today to get some birthday cards.

What Tolerance does NOT mean is endorsement, agreement or condoning.

That's what so often drives me insane from the Lefties I know.  I'll tolerate plenty of stuff.  That in no way means I see eye to eye with it.

A while back, one of my gay friends got mad at me because I thought that the cross dressing man in our store was amusing.  I told him that the dude could dress anyway he wanted to.  It was his business.  But I was still going to find it funny.  I grew up on Monty Python.  Seeing a grown man cavorting around in a dress is funny to me...and 99% of the rest of the world.

My lefty friend didn't like that.  It wasn't good enough for me to "Tolerate" the man in the dress.  It wasn't good enough for me to let the man in the dress live his life the way he wanted to.  (It wasn't a particularly flattering dress.  It did nothing to accentuate his hips.) My friend wanted me to give it my blessing.  That's the hypocrisy of the true Left.

Not gonna happen, buddy.

Question: How come cross dressers never wear full-on Burkas, 
Hijabs or Amish gowns with bonnets?

Food for thought, anyway.


So, why do I want a whole bunch of Muslims to be allowed in as refugees?  Well, the basic reason is simply out of mercy.  Jeez Louise, people are dying by the thousands over there.  Have a little compassion!

But more importantly, they don't know Jesus.

That's why I want them here.

It's rather difficult to share the Gospel in Islamic countries.  You generally get killed if you do.  Any convert is instantly marked for death.  I am convinced that God is using these man made disasters to bring them into the free world, where they can hear the Gospel without fear of death.


As Jared and I waited for the pizza, I told him a thought that I've had in my head and have begun to state repeatedly.  It's what I believe in the center of my very soul.

"Jesus is who he claimed to be.  He is the crucified and resurrected King.  The creator God of the universe, and the only, single hope for fallen humanity.  There is no other way."

After that, we can have a discussion on other, less central things over a cup of coffee or whatever.

Here's something that fascinates me about Jesus.  He made the claim that he is God, and that it was his way or the highway.  He was completely & utterly exclusive...which doesn't sound very tolerant, now does it?

I've seen Liberal theologians (Liberal theologically, not politically) fart around with Scripture and argue that Jesus didn't really mean that.  But a plain, basic reading of the text can lead to nothing else.  Jesus said that he was it!

That leaves you with minimal options.  Either Jesus is right, or he's a complete nut job.  You certainly can't conclude that he was a "nice guy."

I have a deep respect for other religions.  I try never to disrespect them.  However, I fully believe them to be dead wrong.  But something that fascinates me about other world religions is that they ALL, and I do mean ALL, make room for Jesus!!!

The earliest world religions that we know of seem to be Hinduism, and then perhaps Buddhism. (The earliest form of Judaism started way back when, but didn't do much in the way of evangelizing.) They were well developed by the time Jesus came along.  Yet, both Hinduism and Buddhism make room for Jesus as an enlightened soul and/or an avatar of higher consciousness.

This morning, I was poking around the internet on Jewish references to Jesus.  Sure enough, he's in some of their sacred texts.  How many references in the Talmud are up for debate, but he's there.  A nice Jewish boy gone bad.  Sure he performed miracles, but he did it using witchcraft and the power of Satan.

The other thing that is interesting about world religions is that every single one that came along after Jesus has claimed him as one of their own.

Islam, in particular, is interesting.  Jesus (Isa) is mentioned far more than Mohamed is!  In fact, when Islam first came into being, the church treated it as a heretical form of Christianity.  Islam teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin, will come back to judge people, but that he was not God, nor was he ever crucified...and therefore, never resurrected.

I've studied Islamic history long enough to know what a beautiful history it's had.  Heck, they invented Algebra, the modern compass, and were doing cataract surgery when my ancestors were still raiding medieval monasteries on the English coast.

But that doesn't mean it's true.  
Without the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity collapses.

The other thing that's interesting about the religions of the world, is that they all ultimately contradict each other.  I've heard people argue that at their core, they all teach "Love." (Not all of them, but the majority do.)  So what?  The various means of the ultimate goal, salvation, blatantly contradict each other.

Hinduism is massively polytheistic, with essentially eternal chances through reincarnation to become one with Brahmin.  Buddhism is rather agnostic.  You get unlimited chances through reincarnation, until you just sort of disappear.  Satanists, and those who practice black magic believe they will rule in hell with Satan. (Not sure where they get that, exactly.)

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all brutally monotheistic, and you only get one chance.  In Judaism, you gotta do enough good works and keep the law of Moses.  In Islam, there is no sure guarantee, but you better be good.

Jesus said, "Just trust me.  
Put your faith in my faithfulness.  
I've taken care of everything."

I like that.

I'm all for tolerance.  But that does not equal endorsement.  I believe strongly coexistence.  But that doesn't mean that it's all the same.  That's not even logical.  I believe that a diverse society is a beautiful thing.  But at the end of the day, truth is not relative.  There can be only one.


There's no other way.



Sunday, January 29, 2017


"No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money."
Matt. 6:24

"Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them."
Matt. 7:15&16

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'  He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do to me."
Matt. 25:44&45

And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
Deut. 10:19

When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him.  The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born.  Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.  I an YHWH your God.
Lev. 19:33&34

I realized the other day that I hadn't written anything in over 2 months.  Mostly due to the Holidays, then the gloom of January and what not.  But also because I was waiting for something hopeful and inspiring.  Most of my last few post have been negative.  Especially since the election of President Voldemort.

I was hoping for something uplifting, but instead I got a news full of more Debbie Downer.  Once again, it was from "Christian" leaders.

I've had growing issues with Franklin Graham for a lonnnnnnnng time.  When he first took over for his father, I thought he was the coolest thing since sliced bread.  He had always been a bit of a rebel, and I liked that.  Also, his charity, Samaritan's Purse really does some good work.  So I was extremely hopeful that he would continue his father's work of simply helping the needy and preaching the Good News of Jesus' kingdom.

Unfortunately, it didn't take too long for the polish to start coming off.  It was many years ago, but it was during the time of the elder Graham's retirement.  Franklin and others wanted to build a museum to chronicle the history of Billy's ministry.  Nothing wrong with that.

However, Billy didn't want anything ostentatious or too fancy.  In fact, he had a very simply museum planned.  Franklin didn't want to go along with that.  Instead, he built a rather fancy museum on land that Billy had no interest in.  I thought that was a little weird.

Then, there came the issue of money.  Billy isn't poor by any means.  He was a paid a basic salary for his work in the ministry, with the vast majority of his income coming from sales of his books.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  You make something yourself, and someone buys it.  Good for you!  That's how basic economics works.

Franklin, on the other hand...

$880,000 a year for running a "Christian" charity?!?!?!?!?

I'm all in favor of paying a guy for a good job, but that seems more than a bit excessive for a "Christian" charity that is supposedly set up to help the most vulnerable people on the planet.  It just seems that you could take some of that salary and spend it on people who could really use the people that charity is supposed to help.

Now, if this information disturbs you a tad, take a gander at this next link.  Please pay careful attention to the very bottom of the list and a guy named Rick Warren...

Rick is an interesting guy.  He make's his living off his writings and has paid back his church every penny they paid him for the years of his preacher salary.  Now, he preaches for free and STILL donates most of his money away.

That's what I call a "Testimony."

Rick isn't alone in giving most of his money away.  Francis Chan has the same nasty habit.  A few years back, he sold his house to buy a smaller one for his family...all the while hosting young men that he was mentoring with his family.

That's what I call a "Testimony."

There are others.  Rick McKinley of the Imago Dei Community in Portland.  Dan Kimball in S.Cal.  They have very successful ministries, but keep money at arm's length.

That's what I call a "Testimony."

Franklin has stated publicly that he wants to make enough money so that he can work for free once he hits 70.  Billy is worth an estimated $25 million.  Franklin is a multi-multi millionaire.  Don't know about you, but if I had a couple million in the bank, I might just quit my job as a butcher and go volunteer in a soup kitchen for a few years.

How much more money do you need before you can work for free?

On a side note; this past year saw the completion of Ken Ham's ministry,  "Wrong-Answers in Genesis'" Arc Encounter.  A $100 million theme park set up to to amuse people with some of the worst exegesis of Scripture around. ($18 million from the tax payers of Kentucky.)

I know that roughly 1 billion people on the globe lack access to clean drinking water.  Wells to gain access to clean drinking water only cost a few hundred dollars.  Seems to me that there was a better way to spend a hundred million dollars to proclaim the Gospel.

But what do I know?

Christians and money.  
A dangerous combination...


In the past few days, President Voldemort has issued a ban on immigrants from Muslim Majority countries...unless they are not Muslims.

Not ALL Muslim majority countries.  Just certain ones. (The chart on the left is from the Libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute.)

I'm not much into conspiracy theories, but you have to admit that this choice of countries is a bit odd.

Franklin Graham has come out and publicly backed Voldemort in this ban over the past few days.  Why?  Because Muslims are demonstrated by the chart to the left.

Now the ban does allow for non-Muslim, minority "Christians" to come as refugees (Nice double standard there.) from these Muslim majority countries.

Franklin says that helping these refugees is not a biblical issue.  Oh????

This from the same man that has been touting the March for Life in Washington D.C. this past week.  This from the man who claims to be "Pro-Life" and getting a Supreme Court Justice that will "Hopefully" overturn Roe V. Wade.  "Life" is precious to this long as it's in an American woman's womb.

Words are cheap.
Deeds say more.

It seems to me that people fleeing the slaughter in Syria, and the misery of other trouble Muslim countries are alive.  Do their lives not count?

Please do NOT tell me that you are "Pro-Life" unless you truly mean it.

Franklin Graham truly does NOT mean it.  
And he's proved it over the past few days.

I don't get it.  I really don't.

I live about a mile from a mosque.  I like to shop at the Halal market next to it. (Halal is to Muslims what Kosher is to Jews.) I buy my gas at a station run by a Shiite from Lebanon.  I don't find them to be particularly dangerous.

I have heard Pastor after Pastor, and Missionary after Missionary saying that God is bringing these Muslim refugees to our country so that they can hear the Gospel without fear of death.  I believe that! I believe in a God that can create something beautiful out of even the worst of human caused misery.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, anything can be made beautiful.

I just wish that guys like Franklin Graham believed it, too.

To him and others that live in fear, and have sold their ministries to politicians and the all-mighty dollar, I would simply say to them what Jesus said to certain religious leaders in his time; "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God."
Matt. 22:29