Out Here Hope Remains

There is hope for the helpless ... Cry Out To Jesus. -- Third Day

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Thank you, Lord for a fabulous Teen Retreat. No way we could have guessed how special it would be. Thank you for my fellow bloggers Joel and Stephen and their very significant roles in the retreat. Thanks for Watershed Worship and their talent. Thanks for the sunshine and the kids. Bravo. You always come through for us.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Come to the Altar

Someone recently suggested to me that one reason people are pretty uptight about what happens in the one hour worship service is that this is the only time they really give consideration to God in their life. I doubt that's true for everyone. But, there might be a nugget of truth in it. Do we believe when we enter the church building that we have entered a holy sanctuary? Do we believe God is present MORE in the assembly than he is at home with us? Do we think God is paying more attention to what we do and the way we do it when we enter the front door of the building? Do we consider that time of worship a type of formality that demands specific dress codes, specific type of behavior and thou-shalt-talk-thine-holy-speech, certain types of prayer? Is it the case that we actually become different people for one hour on Sunday mornings? Our vocabulary, dress, demeanor, and attitudes are all adapted to the "appropriate" standards? Does God call us onto the stage to do all the acts right? Has anyone ever worshiped right? I mean ... have you ever spent the hour so full of God's glory that you didn't think about a hundred other things going on in your life? Do you think God requires the total shutdown of the brain? Another friend of mine thinks that many of our problems 'down at church' have to do with archetecture. We step into that building and suddenly the rules of life all change. Sorry but I don't think that's how God wants us to approach His throne. With reverence, yes. With a dress-code and learned religious language? No. Elijah sat in the cave and said, 'God, kill me now. I hate my life.' Job cried out to the Lord in most unformalistic ways. Moses offered excuses to the Almighty. Jesus wept. Authentic time at the altar demands an authentic person. The truth is you are never away from the altar. Your renewed-in-the-spirit life keeps you at the altar 24/7. Isn't that Paul's point about sexual sin in 1 Corinthians? You're holding a whore in one hand and the Holy Spirit in the other!!! We've all brought the Spirit of God with us into places He never needed to be. When you wake up in the morning, take the Spirit by the hand and let him lead you through the day close to the altar of God. Then when Sunday arrives you won't be a strange person in strange clothes talking strange talk in a strange place. It'll be more like ... family. Warm and personable and familiar.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Cheers to the Lonely

Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. --Theme Song to CHEERS I've seldom been to a bar, and never to drink. I've been to a bar to listen to a band. In fact I did that Saturday night. It's more of a restaurant than a bar, but I just wanted to relate that I know nothing about the bar scene, except for what I've seen on television and heard in country songs. So I admit that there might be more experienced people who could write this post. I do think bars form a secular congregation of believers. They believe that this is a good place to meet people like them. They believe that having a place to go besides an empty apartment or a house that is more like a combat zone will make them feel better. Some become dependent on alcohol, to others it's just a part of the scene. In many country songs these are people who have been left behind in life ... left behind by husbands ... left behind by wives ... left behind by betrayal. The lies here are stark. The neon lights. The sparkling beverages that have a bite to them as they go down. The loosened inhibitions as the alcohol begins to take effect. The waitress is not flirting, she's friendly because she wants a good tip. Some country songs play more lies on the jukebox. The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time. I Went To Bed At Two With a Ten and Woke Up at Ten With a Two. But I think a bigger lie looms in the bar than the one night stands and faded love. A bar is a perfect place to be lonely. You're not really alone because there are people all around you. Yet, you probably don't know much about those people. Sometimes they are lonely while they act rowdy and cheer on the band ... and sometimes they are lonely while they sit at the bar or a table and just drink and stare and think and wonder. This afternoon I had an episode of loneliness. I think it was a combination of some frustration, an exhausting weekend, not enough sleep last night, an all-afternoon job in front of me, and a sad song on the radio. I wondered, where do lonely people go? They go to bars and find themselves around other lonely people. I'm sure that's not true of all lonely people ... but surely there are lots of bars with people sitting by themselves sipping on beers and staring off into space wondering things like ... What if I had only spent more time with .... How could someone who claimed to be my friend ... If I had not lied about.... Am I the only one who feels.... All these years have gone by and I'm still a..... Emptiness. Is that another reason people go to bars? Because they feel empty inside and maybe if they got around some people and heard some noise and numbed their minds perhaps they might not feel so empty? The church ought to be more like a bar. People ought to come because they are lonely and empty. We ought to be watching for them ... expecting them. They ought to come and sit in the crowd and just watch. They ought to contemplate their lives. They ought to meet a person or two. Maybe they will find love or friendship. They ought to be served something that settles the jagged nerves of a beaten up soul. Sadly, church is seldom like that. But that's for another post. All I wanted to say tonight was, "Cheers to the lonely people." These wild old bones they move slow But so sure of their footsteps As I trip on the floor And lightly touch down Lord it's been ten bottles Since I tried to forget her But the memory still lingers Lying here on the ground ...And if drinking don't kill me Her memory will I can't hold out much longer The way that I feel With the blood from my body I could start my own still And if drinking don't kill me Her memory will --George Jones

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Unknown Wounds

His appearance was startling, to say the least. His face was black and blue with bruises ... deep painful bruises. One eye was totally closed shut. A few of his teeth were missing. There was a scrape across his temple that was fresh and open. One of his legs was bent backward in an unnatural position, it had to be broken. "Hey ... how's it goin'?" he asked .... with a grin! "I'm great....how....are you?" I asked with some hesitancy. "Never better. Things are really going great for me," he said. As I watched it appeared that he had been punched in the stomache as he doubled over and exhaled all of his air. Then he stood back up. "What's going on with you?" I asked. "Me and Janie are goin' to the movies tonight. What are you doing?" I couldn't believe this conversation. "Well, I'm going to stay home and spend some time with my brother who has come home from college." I wanted to say, "by the way, why do you look like you've been beaten with a bat?" But for some reason I didn't. Suddenly his nose was smashed against his face by some invisble force and blood began to flow from his nostrils. "Yeah ... I like your brother. I'm glad you're getting to spend some time with him. Maybe we can go to the ball game tomorrow night." He acted as if he did not know he was bleeding. While we were talking, other people walked by. There went one who's arm had been severed, and they were just chatting with the person next to them .... a person who walked on bare feet, leaving bloody footprints with each step. Over on a bench was someone who had no eyeballs left in their sockets, but who seemed to be able to see the others as they passed by. My friend fell to the ground in what looked like an epileptic fit.... but it wasn't. He was being pummeled by unseen fists ... beating him from every direction. In a moment he stood up. "What's wrong with you," he said, "you look like you've seen a ghost!" Then he let out a loud ghastly laugh and a few more of his teeth fell out. A friend of mine named Jay walked by. He looked completely normal. I felt like I had walked into a halloween carnival and no one told me to dress up. Only these were not dress up wounds. "Jay ... what's happened? You look completely normal...but everyone else... they look beaten and wounded," I said. Jay replied, "You are dreaming, John. But learn from your dream. This is what Satan has done to all of your friends. He keeps torturing them, beating them, maiming them, but they do not know it. They have no idea. They hurt, and they feel wounded in some way .... but they do not know the source of thier pain. Maybe you shouldn't wake up for a while. Stay ... and learn to hate the ways of your enemy." I wondered what I could do about all of the destruction around me. Hearing my thoughts, Jay said, "Jesus will heal them ... but first their eyes must be opened to their wounds ... sometimes by seeing His wounds ... and then they must turn to the Healer."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I hate Funerals

Why? because people are usually so sad. Fortunately though at many funurals that i go to i find joy because of the HOPE that i know that this or that person lived in and because of. Yes, Heaven. I am in my office right now hiding from a funural crowd that is in the foyer gathered to "morn" the death of one of our faithful members that seemed from my outside view to have lived with this HOPE of heaven. I really haven't thought about what i want my funeral to be like Steve, but i don't want people to be sad; that is sad about the destiny of my soul. I want them to rejoice with me in my new found home, and desire to join me there one day. John you crack me up. Potlucks... LOL...LOL...LOL. I was kinda down or not really but not looking foward to this funeral that is about to start. I am really glad to have you as my friend John. You are a joyful lively person and those are the kind of people that i like to associate with and have as friends. I like to find the good in everything and everyone (sometimes people make that hard). Well i have avoided the crown longer than i really should have, so i better go. Joel, I miss talking to you man. I heard you met my brother last week. Well i still have your jacket. Maybe we can get together sometime. Their is a Third Day concert in Tupelo on Nov. 28th if you are interested in going. That will be my first Sunday in Tupelo at Lee Acres COC and the preachers wife said that she and some of the kids were already planning to go; cool, really cool. I think/know i am going to like it there. In HIM, Kirt PS i did't take tine to proof read this...sorry

What about when you die?

I'd like to know from all you out there what you want your funeral to look like. That's something we seldom discuss and it seems that the deceased has little to say about it, and you probably won't get your way. I just wanted to know. John, have no fear--we'll make sure every part of your funeral is taken care of with the utmost respect and decency... (since with no doubt you'll keel over way before we will, being a preacher and all) By the way, i know this guy who would do a great job speaking. we've allready hired him, his name is Charles McK.... or something other and he is the pastor at the Jesus Christ Bap.... Church and he's got this whole sermon about the blood of Christ... Changing subjects...when i die, in my will i'll have instructions and money set aside for a big party and beverages that tickle your nose...i just want a bunch of people to get together and be happy, have a good time and celebrate my life, not be all crappy and cry...no black at my funeral...i want to be cremated and to have a memorial service at someone's home where the party will be. i don't want to be viewed at some funeral home in a casket where everyone can walk by and comment to my surviving wife how "great" i look. i'm dead! it can't be that great. Plus i wouldn't want anyone touching my dead body with their hands or crying on me and smearing my makeup. Just burn me, put me in an old coffee can or ashtray, and set it next to a picture of me with a sly smile face to sit on the mantle so it won't get knocked in the grits when my rowdy cousins and youth minister friends come over for the party. Then as a group, go dump me in the Alabama municipal water supply in the county of your choice. (oh yeah, and i want my wife to remarry...ok i'm just saying that so i can if she dies) How about you?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

All I Really Need To Know

When my Granddaddy, my mother’s daddy, died at age 78 last month my sister wrote something special for the funeral. My Granddaddy was a very humble man, who knew how to do so many things (almost everything) really well, yet he truly felt as if he knew nothing. He would actually have been embarrassed for us to suggest how smart and capable he was. He called no attention to himself, and his character spoke for himself...so much that my sister wrote the following two paragraphs, while reminiscing, and remembering what Granddaddy did, how he acted, and what he said. My sister J.J. Martin, wrote this: All I really need to know about how to live, what to do, and how to be I learned from my Granddaddy. Wisdom is not at the top of the mountain of higher education, but three quarters up the hill of Holly Drive. All I really need to know I learned from my Granddaddy, and this is what I learned… Stick by the ones you love, no matter what. Remember who you are, where you came from and who you represent. If you’re good, you can watch CNN with the sound down and still keep up with current events. Play the music YOU enjoy. Live your life with quiet dignity. A good book is like an old friend: informative, entertaining, and something to take care of (and the best ones are a little dog-eared and well loved). Coca-Cola is best in glass bottles. English peas, rice, and milk may not sound like much, but they’re good in the middle of the night. The best education is the one you give yourself. Read everything you can get your hands on. Be adventurous and buy a motorcycle, OR two. A good movie is one you can watch over and over again and still find something you never seen before. Own a really good camera. Then use it. Call your best friend everyday. Plan for the future and don’t be afraid of new technology. You can do everything you put your mind to. Hard bound books are pretty, but paperbacks are easier to read in bed. When you go out into the world, its best to hold hands and stick together. When you die, how will your life inspire others? The question is not if we will leave a legacy—we will leave some impression behind that will tell others just how we thought life should be lived—whether we did things right or wrong. After we die, friends will look back, remember, and how we lived will be the only echoes and shouts that they will hear about how to live life. The Bible says that we should let our light shine before all, that people will see our good works and praise our father in Heaven. I’m thankful that Jesus left us a legacy about how to live, what to do, and how to be. What did he say?

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Unfair Fair

This week is the week our County Fair is in operation. Our church has a booth where we give away Bibles and stuff and we enjoy doing that. That takes place inside the air conditioned fair hall. But just outside the door, in the cool of the night, exists a beautiful lie. The people are shoulder to shoulder, milling around the midway. They laugh at the hawkers trying to get them to play the silly games. Sometimes we play just for kicks. There are the food wagons that send upon the air an appetizing scent of onions and peppers and sausages being prepared just for you. For those with a sweet tooth the pink and blue cotton candy is being wrapped around paper cone handles. And the rides.... yes ... rides for the wimpy ones like me ... slow and low to the ground. There are the trill rides for the adventurers ... winding high into the night sky out of sight, and swiftly down again amid screams of delight and fear. The neon lights that glide through the darkness attract and excite us. The blinking colored bulbs catch our attention. Young and old, there is no place like the County Fair. All the while we are amusing ourselves to the tune of a liar's flute. We know that the hawkers want an extra dollar from our pocket. We are aware that the food has probably been stored in less than ideal circumstances, and even if it is safe to eat, it is certainly a good way to suffer from indigestion for the next several hours. The cotton candy is just air-spun sugar with not one ounce of nutritional value. The ride that inspire so much awe in the night, look ragged and ill-attended in the daylight. The lights that catch our eyes at night are barely discernable in the sun-lit morning. In addition, we pay out great sums of money to participate in it all. It's an unfair fair. It's a beautiful lie. A lie so attractive that we allow ourselves to believe it without guilt. Truly this life is a carnival of lies, an unfair fair full of painted rust that will leave us broken in the end. We like it this way. I say that because we so willingly follow the lies, and the truth seems buried at times. Jesus is the light of the world that shines through the darkness to expose the truth about what we have believed. So it remains up to us to believe the lies or believe the light. It's not something we do just once ... but we must always keep our guard up. The prince of darkness is tenacious and we can never underestimate his ability to cloud our judgment with his lies. Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door I had to find the passage back To the place I was before 'Relax,'said the night man, We are programmed to receive. You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave -- The Eagles

Friday, October 15, 2004


To me there is a cyclical nature to Christianity. We begin with the discovery that we are sinners, lost to our Father, in the clutches of our Enemy. Then the sweetness of the good news comes to our ears and we willingly give our hearts to Jesus. The world calls to us, and we fall away from the path we have chosen. Determined, we return to the awaiting Father. And so we go ... doing well ... and then falling off or our perch ... and hopefully someone will be there to catch us when we fall. We are a kingdom of Catchers. Our brother's business is our business. When our brothers or sisters wander from the path, we are to catch them and help set them back in place. When discouragement causes us to tumble, we are embraced by the strong and given encouragement. We can only do this work of Catching if we are observant and pay attention to one another. We can only be good Catchers if we are pro-active and move quickly to the side of the one who is teetering on the edge. I think it's hard to be a Catcher, because so many people never develop a link to other Christians. They fall and no one notices. They tumble into disaster, and no one is there with a rope to rescue them. A true Catcher looks for people to catch. But it's hard work ... and it can be discouraging work when some just do not want to be caught. And sometimes we get weary of being the Catchers and we fail to be aware. I was blessed this past week when I found myself depending on a couple of Catchers. They were there when I felt weak and when I struggled with my own pride. Their gentle words of support and interest steadied me on my way. The greatest Catcher of all time was, of course, Jesus Christ. I love the way he caught Peter on the beach post-resurrection. "Do you love me?" "Lord, you know I do." Great Catch! We are both caught, and catchers....A kingdom of Caught Catchers. (Can you say that five times fast?). Nearby ... right now ... someone is close to falling over ... will we try to catch them? Or will we be a little too late, being distracted by our favorite subject...ourselves? If you're lost you can look and you will find me time after time If you fall I will catch you I'll be waiting time after time --Cyndi Lauper

now i check this every day

way to go john, you got the package changing subjects...(i wish there was some cute web lingo to employ) some day i'll post pictures with my words and amaze you all i've got this cute pic of my kid in a tiara and a diaper with frosting all over her face at her 2nd birthday part (yes joel, it was a "no-sugar" added frosting, i don't want to scare you) this blog, that in my mind, began as something ho-hum for me, has begun a daily check...i've even gone so far as to call John, just to see if someone posted or commented and added new exciting information or relavant material to our blog (thanks to his cable modem and my dialup) thanks be to you the bloggers, the "post-ers" and the "comment-ers" (is that commentators?) for making this a special place for me to indulge on line--and yes joel, be a place that i always tell the truth, even though sometimes in person i like to hide and act as though things are always peachy in my world. my openness on the blog (like the blob from earlier movies) oozes in to my personality, and that for which i'm thankful. so we don't pray enough or ....enough or ....enough the list goes on fill in the blank. i've found something exciting here. as we find out more exciting things about God, i hope we check in with him more every day, and our honesty and closeness with him oozes into our personal relationships with other people. or john, maybe we could just start over.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Steve's Messy Spirituality

Thanks, Steve, for giving me a copy of Mike Yaconelli's Messy Spirituality. I am just about to finish a book and will put this one next in the cue. I look forward to it and thank you for sharing it with me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

a capture of 2 seconds in my head

okay, so i'm doing my best Steve impression right here. considering how this came to me, and not knowing how it will turn out is very Martinesque in my opinion. john's son's trippy 14-yr-old style of carrying things out to gross extremes also was a heavy influence. this week, john and i have had some great guffaws about the idea of a hook in place of my left hand. this is not random, but has to do with my injury and what could've happened but didn't. while i was waxing on about the could'ves john interrupted me with a swift display of his hand making a hook shape, which sent me rolling after i'd had a pretty rough emotional day. people john is a really funny man. tonight, we were debriefing (no, not taking off our underwear) and i was discussing my post-opp checkup i'm going to in Pensacola tomorrow and hoping the good Dr. could do something about the terrible swelling in my hand & fingers. "i really hope it's not infected," i said. "yeah gangrene is bad," he said. "you may end up with a hook after all." we then began discussing the myriad inconveniences of a hook (of which i will courteously not post all). i mean, you get something in your eye and follow the natural reflex to get it out with your formerly-known-as-a-hand and RIP--you're looking more and more like a pirate these days, what with the eye-patch and hook and all. thus began the next two seconds in my head which entailed the process of slowly transforming yourself into a pirate because let's face it, at this point I wouldn't give two gold schillings about personal upkeep anymore. so there goes the hygiene. as your teeth rot out, you find it less and less possible to hold a conversation or even pronounce things so you resign to uttering wistful, one-syllable noises like "arrrrrrhhhhh!" in this state of things you can no longer remain a normal, socialized being (the only people who will associate with you are the kind of folk who have no more self-respect than to go through life being called something like "Smee"). so you are exiled to the Isle of Elba where you have to make a raft to float out and commandeer a ship to get back but by this point, buddy, you've turned the corner. you know the saying: once you go pirate, you never go.....birate. and all this because of one nasty wound to the wrist. so where am I going with this? we all know that on John's blog, things must resolve. well I'm going back to the very first of the summer when I talked to teens from across the coast about Jesus being an infective person. yes, I made up the word infective and used it several times before I realized it but it made my point. i want to be infected with Jesus. i want to continue in the slow process of being made a son. C. S. Lewis points out that this process is where we go from the created to the begotten, following after the Firstborn, the prototype of this new kind of man. this "good infection" is what starts changing us slowly. once it sets in, it is still easy to ignore or deny but it becomes increasingly hard to. we must accommodate it somehow and it shows more and more. Until the line between acting the part and what is really us is forever obscured.

Gnats and Pterodactyls

Given a choice of facing Gnats or Pterodactyls, one might be tempted to choose to deal with the Pterodactyl. I know, it sounds crazy, but think about it. A Pterodactyl is a big target. If you want to shoot something out of the air, the Pterodactyl is to be preferred. The last time I used a shotgun to kill a gnat, it really made a mess. A Pterodactyl is somewhat predictable in its behavior. Yes, the sudden dive bomb toward your head is a bit disconcerting, but it is to be expected. The Gnat, on the other hand, likes to land on your eyeball when you least expect it. A Pterodactyl motivates you to gather together all of your brightest ideas and assemble a plan to deal with and defeat the creature. Gnats are too little to bother with all that brainpower ... but they are annoying as can be. We all face BIG Pterodactyl problems in our lives. They get the best of our attention. We work hard to eliminate them. They are usually easily identifiable, predictable, and even if it takes a long time, we are able to defeat them. The LITTLE problems, though, sometimes tend to get us down more. We tend to try to ignore them, but they are there biting away at our hearts until we finally have to give them some attention. I've let some little things in my life cause me some discouragement ... and truly they are meaningless little things ... but they meant something to me. Still, while out defeating the daily Pterodactyls, the Gnats kept nipping away until I finally had to admit my wounds and tend to them. Don't be caught off guard by the small disapppointments, the little hurts, and the meaningless frustrations ... they can build up and make that Pterodactyl look like Tweety Bird.

What's up?

Just wanted to say hey and thanks for the invite to the blog.

Reflections on "Where Did the Kingdom Go?"

Yes, there is something a bit self-centered in offering some reflections on one's own writing, but since no one else did...why shouldn't I? (grin) I wrote that because I see so little "Kingdom" in the Kingdom. There is a lot of posturing over positions. I wonder if we think we are really making a difference in people's lives because we take one position or another? I see that people are not really connected in the Kingdom today. This makes for easy dismissal of brothers and sisters when we disagree. I fear that there are many wonderful talented people in the Kingdom, who are crowded into dark corners because they know if they use their talent, someone will strike out at them and hurt them. Some are too tender for that. I see people who are caught in the cage of their own legalities, suffering from it ... yet unwilling to step out, because of loyalty to the one who put them in the cage to begin with. Maybe my view is skewed a bit, but I see very little Kingdom in the Kingdom. As one reader pointed out privately, the reality is that we see so little King in the Kingdom. So what of the Horse, the Otter, the Spider, and the Kitten ... which of them is me? Honestly, they are all me. Each represents a strength and a weakness. The Horse is intelligent, a leader, bold ... but also bossy, self-righteous, unable to see himself. The Otter is funny, endearing, and joyful ... but also silly, immature, and unwilling to get serious. The Kitten is compassionate, relationship-oriented, loving ... but also gullible, weak, and loyal to a fault. The Spider is supportive, action-centered, peace-maker ... but also fearful, retreating, and unable to cope with conflict. So if I see in each of these a little of myself, should I see more of myself in at least one of them. I think I'm a Sporse. Yes, I have to choose two...and two opposite characters at that. I can be bold and I can lead, but I can also be bossy, self-righteous, and unable to see myself at the time. I can usually see it later ... which makes me a little less the horse than I could be. But I also like to make peace, follow a plan ... and generally retreat from conflict. Of course in the story, the spider dies ... and I do think that a fearful retreating life is a dead life. So I'm a little less spider than I could be. Did you follow that? On our blog this week there has been some rugged terrain. But I think in the end there was more Kingdom evidenced than in the beginning. This is the way it should be. But my observation of the church is that the Kingdom is fading ... and seems far away from from most people. We are less interested in using our strengths to strengthen others than ever before. We let our weaknesses lead us into division and strife. I hear very little talk about the Kingdom, and I suspect that it is distant memory to most. It is up to the ones who are aware of this dilemma to bring the Kingdom back into the awareness of those around us. And that's what I had on my mind when I wrote that long story about the Kingdom.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Full Frontal Response/Hope Stealers

thank you all for your interest and the time you've taken to share your ideas, thoughts, perspectives, passions, and hurts surrounding this issue. I've read your comments on me, the blog, and this issue and i'm responding to your most recents comments. i once said, that we should "support" this fallen man, instead of throwing him away. words like "support" are ambiguous. Alex, you've written several reasons as to why he should not be "supported" (ambiguous), that we should "support" the victim, and that he should be removed from here for hurting so many people. After reading various posts, with our attitudes and implications, we have all advocated supporting both the vitctim(s) and the offender...let me explain. Alex and Joe have written us some very detailed ideas about repentance, confession, manipulating, etc. Even though he called your house Alex, and acted innocent of things you believe in your heart to be true--"support" can often be listening, as you did, and holding them accountable. The "non-supporting" attitudes i've seen in the past regarding sins and the church have included ignoring the people, sending hateful and un-christian messages, gossip, etc. I call that "throwing them away" because they lose contact with the very people who could help see the error of their ways spiritually. You may not be able to help habitual offenders be rehabilitated psychologically...God has not called you to that...only that you may help them rehabilitate spiritually. The worst thing that some Christian groups have done, historically in abuse cases, have been to forgive them, move them to another parish, and act like nothing ever happened. Our disgust towards these spiritual groups have influenced our immediate reaction towards an offender. We must not confuse the issues of psychological needs, spiritual needs, and the needs of justice. When we do, there are two spectrums, justice and no grace--or grace and no justice. Thank you all for posting. As for the current alledged offender, how his needs will be met only God knows. I do feel that all of your posts are helping to clear up just what must be done on our part. I have no doubt the justice system will do as much as it can. Jesus does tell us to visit people imprisoned... Most importantly of all in this large comment...Nothing prepared you for the shock of hearing of the tragedy, abuse, mistrust of power, and arrest stories of the last few weeks. Hurt, disbelief, offense, and shock swell up inside us all. I'm glad that you've found a safe place to discuss your feelings. I urge us all to look back to Jesus' mission for our lives--and pray about how our response to this whole tragedy fits in with Jesus' desires for living. There are so many moments of shock, people misusing goodness, that become hope-stealers. In Jesus' words we'll find our direction. In him, hope still remains.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Controversy and Cowardice

"Alex" posted the following: "Noticed that the post and related comments about the youth minister sex abuse case had been removed. What's the matter? Too controversial? Afraid to confront the truth? Becoming spiritual ostriches by refusing to talk about an issue that makes you uncomfortable, won't make it go away....Mike Cope wrote an entire book chapter about this once...about being "spiritual ostriches" who hide our heads in the sand by confronting issues. Jimmy Allen wouldn't ignore it, he'd address the issue head on." Actually, Alex did write anonymously to a post about an area youth minister who (as the newspaper reported) had been caught in a relationship of infidelity with one of his youth group members. Blogger Steve wrote an excellent commentary, and I seconded with some thoughts about being careful to avoid such situations, as well as hoping that there might be some redemption for the fallen. Both Steve and myself believed that the victim would receive much deserved attention, help, counseling, etc. ... but often the guilty receive hatred from Christians rather than hope. I believe Alex noted that these thoughts were all fine ... but then he went on to outline specific charges against the youth minister in question. He claims to know him, and to know of other illegal/immoral activities of this youth minister. There were two or three other "anonymous" responses ... one even accusing us of wanting to set things up so that if we did the same thing we would find some justification. I do not know if Alex wrote all of those posts or not. Joel and I left it up to Steve if he wanted to keep his post up or not, and for reasons he may or may not want to explain, he decided it was best to just delete it. The post has been up for several days and anyone who wanted to see it had time. As for Alex's accusations... as far as I know I do not know "Alex" nor does he know any of us. This is a fairly anonymous forum and "Alex" could be anyone. Alex, I can tell you that controversy is not a big problem for any of us. I can tell you that the truth is not at issue here ... what you say you know is simply hearsay to us. Nor did we refuse to talk about the issue ... two of us posted some thoughts about one aspect of the issue ... neither of us believing we had addressed the sin in every way. I see that you have started a blog, and I invite you to fully address child molestation, lack of integrity, sexual infidelity, ministerial trust breakers, church politics, or other subjects to your heart's content. I may even comment from time to time if you will allow it. Jimmy Allen and Mike Cope might address this issue head on, if they were addressing it. Our thoughts were about what the church does to it's wounded ... not to the rightness or wrongness of sexual predatory behavior. If I read my Bible correctly, people can be rescued from their sin. It is our hope that sinners be brought back into the safety of the righteousness of Jesus by virtue of his grace and mercy. That is exactly how I was saved ... and if you are saved it will be by the same means. As for your posts, you proved our point. We knew that there would be many who would be ready to destroy this man's life. Our hope was that someone ... anyone ... would show him the light of the glory of God's forgiveness, and that perhaps he may make the needed changes ... even if doing so while paying the consequences of his sins. You are welcome to respond to this, but I suggest that you (1) do not fill your response with further accusations about a man that are merely meant to add to his troubles and (2) try not to attribute to us undeserved characterizations such as you have done.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Where Did The Kingdom Go?

The old man sat on a bench at the courthouse in the middle of town and just watched. There was a horse, a spider, an otter, and a kitten who were all friends. It was an odd friendship, to be sure, but it was the kind of friendships that were forged in the Kingdom. All around them were bands of friends ... paired up in the most unusual configurations ... but all of them were rich in their relationships with one another. When they first entered the Kingdom they were all so beaten by the enemy that lies outside the walls. Yet they found healing and strength together under the leadership of the King. Whenever new friends arrived into the Kingdom, they all rushed to their side and helped them grow accustomed to their new life of safety. This reminded the old timers of the terror they had escaped when they arrived. The horse, the spider, the otter, and the kitten had very different needs. The horse was bossy and often had to be reminded by the otter to lighten up, play more, and be humble. The spider was sneaky, and sometimes she needed a word from the horse to encourage honesty. The otter would never sit still long enough to absorb anything more than just surface knowledge, so occasionally the spider would slide a bucket of water in his way or spin a strong web across his path and trip him so that he would remember to sit still and listen. The kitten was fragile and needed more attention than the others. They all, at one time or another, cuddled her and made sure she knew they loved her. So in some way, each of them helped support the strengths of the other, and also help build up the weaknesses. One day the otter noticed that the spider was always playing tricks on him. And not only that, the horse just had to have his way all the time. Whenever they got together to talk about the Kingdom, it had to be at his smelly stall because that was the only place big enough for him. Of course while we were in there, he had to tell us all what we could and couldn't do. This wore on the otter, and he began to feel restentful toward the horse. The spider, on the other hand, didn't mind the stall at all. There was plenty of food there for her, and lots of interesting rafters to crawl on and dark corners in which to hide. Whenever Otter and Horse got into an argument, she would just crawl into a dark crevice and wait until it seemed like a good time to come out. Kitten was often distressed at the way that otter would talk back to Horse ... oh how noisy they could all be. She tried suggesting that they just speak sweetly and softly to one another. But it was very hard for them to do. They were both so convinced that they were right, and the other one must be wrong. And so Otter and Horse fought endlessly, kitten's meek and quiet pleas for them to get along went unheard, and spider cowered in the corner way up by the rafters. This went on day after day, week after week. Months later they were still arguing, weeping, and cowering. Finally they decided they just could not be friends ... they were just all so different. Horse decided they should all leave, because it was his house. Maybe others would come and recognize Horse's rightness, but even if they didn't and he was the last one there on the last day, at least he had stuck to his guns. Otter found some other otters and just felt that he had wasted all that time, when real happiness was out here. They all headed out on an endless search for the most fun, brightest lights, loudest music, and best dancing. Kitten wandered the streets until she found a kindly old grandmother to feed her a saucer of milk. Then she brought her into her quaint little home. Once inside, she placed kitten into a cage and left her there. She was fed, but that was all. Spider continued to lurk in her black hole until she grew old and died. No one even remembered that she was there. This circle of friends had offered each other so much, but their own selfishness wedged its way between them and they all thought they could have what they needed elsewhere. Now they were dead, lonely, entrapped, and distracted. It occurred to Horse that they had not talked about the Kingdom in a very very long time. He poked his head out of the stable and looked around. He looked North, and South. He walked outside in the field and looked East and West. The Kingdom was nowhere to be seen. Yet, he was the same person. The buildings were all the same. The sky, the grass, the road ... they all looked the same. But the Kingdom ... somehow horse knew that the Kingdom had left. In the place of contentment, joy, and friendship, was now death and loneliness and selfishness. The sky looked a little darker, and the paint on the stable looked fairly weathered, and Horse felt a good bit awful. What now? Maybe the old man knows. Horse asked the old man, "Where Did The Kingdom Go?" The old man looked at him as if he had not heard him ... but then he said, "what do you need a Kingdom for? You have a stable, Otter has his friends, Kitten is in a cage, and your old friend spider is dead. What do you think a Kingdom will do for you now?" Horse wimpered when he heard about spider ... he had forgotten all about her. He cried when heard that kitten was so entrapped and could not escape. He was jealous that otter was out having a big time. But he thought about the old man's question ... what do I need a kingdom for? Horse went down by the stream to think of an answer. Otter swam up on the bank and they talked. Once or twice they almost argued, but they remembered that it was of no use to be hateful to one another. It seemed that their friendship had never waned. Horse and Otter went to the old man and told him that they had an answer. "Speak", said the old man. "We need a Kingdom, because without it we cannot be us. But we are afraid we have lost it forever." The old man thought about their answer and told them that they were right. "Except that the Kingdom is within your reach. It was within you all along. The King set it up that way when he healed and repaired your broken hearts, back in the beginning." Otter asked, "what do we do now?" The old man grinned. "I think you should try to get kitten free. Her trap is of her own making, she just doesn't know it. And then you should tell the others. Remember spider. Spider died not knowing what you now know ... make sure others do not suffer her fate." Horse furrowed his brow and asked, "Why do we have to tell others? Can't they figure it out on their own?" "Perhaps," said the old man, "but their hearts are so focused on their own interests, that the Kingdom is far from them and it's really hard to see at that distance. Bring them closer." The old man sat on a bench at the courthouse in the middle of town and just watched.

It Just Doesn't Stop


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Some Days

Some Days, All I Really Need Is A Word That Is Simple,
Gentle, and A Comfort ... A Healing Balm For A Fragile
and Broken Sense of Hope and Faith. I Feel So Immature
and Wimpy on My Journey When I Let a Few Words
Rob Me of Joy. I Would Like To Be A Strong One, But
I Do Not Feel Capable of It Most of the Time. I Pray That
In My Weakness God Will Lead My Heart Beside Still
Waters and Give Me Rest.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

a recent chain of events

hi everyone out there in bloghdad, just letting you all know that i'm doing alright after my right hand man Jessie tried to leave me with just my right hand. yes, i'm a statistic now - one of the idiots that has gotten injured during the Ivan cleanup. i'll blog later if you want the full story...for now i need to go saw some logs (the hydrocodone is kicking in again).

Promise In The Thunder

"We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain." Henry David Thoreau Outside the clouds have darkened the sky. I have purposefully left the lights of my office off, enjoying the afternoon dimmed light ... listening to the thunder off in the distance. Although I am cursed with frosted windows and cannot see out, there is promise in the thunder. It has been so dry here. Although Hurricane Ivan brought torrential floods and storm surges nearby, here it has been dry. It's been a dry summer for the most part. And now that October has arrived, I hope that a passing cool front or two will trigger some afternoon showers. Listening this afternoon, it seems like that's what may be about to happen. At the same time thunder is threatening. I've always been a little frightened of thunderstorms, though I try to hide it. Something about the suddenness of the giant booms makes me jump. The lightning doesn't seem to scare me as much, though it is dangerous element. How often are we frightened by elements of life that cannot harm us ... but foolishly embrace the things that can destroy us? There is both a promise and a warning in the thunder. In what way have we ignored the thunder and risked the fury of the storm? That's what I want to think about today. Thunder only happens when it's raining, Players only love you when they're playing Say women, they will come and they will go When the rain washes you clean you'll know -- Fleetwood Mac, Dreams