Home > Uncategorized > sneakers


It sneaks up on you.  And, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll find yourself swept away in a common current of rabid measurement.  Running faster and faster on the treadmill of comparison which leads to nowhere in particular.  But it’s discretely laced in most everything.  You gotta work to stay aware and sober about it.

We back in Waco, baby!  It’s home.  Our roots.  It’s whey-co, not whack-o.  The entire nation knows it as, “that place where that Koresh guy was.”  Yeah, it’s that place where that Koresh guy was, and a few other notable mentions.

Hot Dr PepperWaco is the home of Dr Pepper.   Yup, bred and originally manufactured right here in Waco, Texas.  Most of America’s Skittles, Starburst, and Snickers candy bars are also born here every day.  The Texas Rangers’ (law enforcement, not baseball) Hall of Fame is located in Waco.  Chuck Norris isn’t.  And yes, the Mecca of all Baptist institutions is planted right here: Baylor University—now aka Baylor Nation.  Ah yes, that good ole Baylor Line is sung here with many an upraised claw, often accompanied by awe-inspiring tears of joy and reverence.  It kinda gets you… right here.  Yeah… right (here).

My brother is a season ticket holder of BU Men’s Basketball, and I get invited often.  I enjoy watching the guys compete at that level.  I never enter that gold-domed building (Ferrell Center) without seeing someone from the past.  And quite honestly, the people I see are usually old Baptist church connections.

In case you’re new to this blog, I used to be a damn good Baptist preacher.  That was a really long time ago.  Probably not so much anymore (the Baptist part anyway).

So there I was last night, standing in the foyer with my free popcorn in one hand (my brother scored it for me as a member of the Fastbreak Club), and a Diet Dr. Pepper in the other.  As I was cruising towards my seat, I heard someone shout, “Mike!”

I turned to see a beautiful woman who I recognized immediately.  “Welcome back to Waco,” she said, as we embraced.  How she knew we were back is anyone’s guess, but she knew.  Waco is a very small town.  SMALL.

Her next words were as predictable as the sunrise.   And even though I knew she would ask, I was taken aback by how quickly it came up, and how loaded the question was and is:  “Where are you going to church?”

I froze.  And believe me, that doesn’t happen too often.  Sometimes I just wish I could play along nicely.  Just give a sweet answer, arouse no reaction, diffuse the situation, and just move on.  Did I do that?  What do you think?


“I don’t go to church.  I’m a heathen.”

Nice, Mike.  Brilliant.

I was smiling as I said it, but that wasn’t the answer she was looking for.  The slight frown confirmed at least that much.  We said goodbye and went to our respective corners.  Nothing like a little sparring to get you amped up for the game!

(I contacted my friend today and gave her a proper response to the question.)

The truth is that we do go to church fairly often, EVEN when I’m not preaching.  But I’ll never understand why that is such an important question in these parts.  You can’t really go anywhere without being asked, and the question is loaded with implied judgments and profiling.

I issue no verdict towards my friend.   She was probably just gathering information.  But here in the Bible Belt, especially around Baptist Jerusalem, church stuff is serious, serious business!  People like to be identified by their church membership.  Too many like it – way too much.

I see the same thing played out everywhere really.  It’s not just here.  Over the holidays, I was with my kids on a Starbucks run up in the Rockies, when the girl behind the counter said, “Hey, you’re Jon Egan!”  Like Jon didn’t know.  Smiling and cordial, but half embarrassed, Jon greeted her warmly.  My son is much more gracious than yours truly.

Then she introduced herself.  “I’m a [name of church] – er.”   It turned my stomach a wee bit.  I thought to myself, Hmmmmmmm.  That’s it?  That’s how we identify ourselves in spiritual culture?

Obviously, I’m still thinking about that.  Even though I don’t believe for one second that I’m above these potential entrapments of religious identity, I don’t want to be guilty of using these kinds of vain broad stokes to categorize God’s people.  I have in the past.  It’s counter-intuitive to lean against it.  It’s built into the system and you have to consciously resist the urge to indulge in this kind of spiritual profiling.

Does where we go to church (or not go to church) really reveal everything about our personal walk with God?

Do the “ites,” “isms,” and “ers” at the end of our church identity labels benefit anybody or anything?

I don’t have the answers here.  I’m just asking questions.

I sincerely hope that we can move past these tombstone markers of identity.

When Jesus told the boys he was closing up shop and moving in another direction, He mentioned to them that He wanted one thing to be their identity.  He plainly said, “Everyone will know you belong to me if you love one another” (John 13:35).

That was it.  Nothing was mentioned about theology, denominations, sects, partitions—nothing like that.   Those sneak “ers” at the end of our designations, that we’re so concerned with now, were something so totally different back then.

Broth-ers, sist-ers, lov-ers, pray-ers, worship-ers—all held the prominence back then.  Maybe it’s time we remember them again.

Paul said, “I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6:12, NASB).  Of course he meant bondage, but it could also mean the pressure of identity or reputation.  Paul didn’t belong to one group, one house, one thought.  He belonged to no one—he belonged to everyone.

Wonder what that feels like?



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 30, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Mike – lovely stuff ….Paul said : ” I am no longer driven to impress God and I don`t need your good opinion …” Gal 2 ….A free man I think , just like you ..x A

    • January 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Thank you sir. Free is better. Much better. x

  2. Gary McGinnis
    January 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Great one, Mike! I have answered that question lately with.. “It depends. Some times I go to the orthodox church, sometimes the anglican, sometimes a crazy way too long service at a charismatic church which I usually leave early. Sometimes a plain Protestant church, but most of the time I stay home and Joey and I watch reruns of Matlock.” It’s fun…
    As Bono sings at least as far as a church….”I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Searching, but havent found it. My issue, I am SURE!!

  3. Vanessa O.
    January 30, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    So good Mike!!

    • January 31, 2014 at 7:58 am

      Thanks sweetheart! Miss you. xo

  4. Elman Authement
    January 31, 2014 at 8:56 am

    You always get me thinkin’ Mike… which is about as dangerous as your blogs! Loved it! El

  5. Kathy H.
    February 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Good stuff again Mike!!!
    Missing you two!!

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