Archive for April, 2016


April 26, 2016 6 comments

My first instinct was to honk the horn and then flip him off. All I could feel was screeching shame and embarrassment. I wanted to tell him to put the sign away, get back on his bike, and ride off into the sunset. Where he might go didn’t really matter to me… just as long as it was a place where there were no people.

SignI wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to punch him in the throat.

I did want to talk to him, but I already knew that would be a total waste of time. He wasn’t just walking with his sign… he was marching. Desert boots and camo-pants relayed the message that this soldier was not to be messed with. Saving the world from the clutches of hell is serious business.

Let me set the stage for you. I was running errands last week, and a guy I’ve seen at other places in town at various times had set up shop at one of the busier intersections in Colorado Springs. The message on the large neon-green sign he was carrying began with the word FORNICATORS.

Fornicators. I never hear that word used anywhere by anyone. Who talks like that? Anyone throwing that word around as a normal way of speaking isn’t prone to lead with grace.

Other attention getting words included in the message were: AGONY, ETERNAL FLAMES, JUDGEMENT, and of course… SIN and HELL. You couldn’t smear fear and condemnation any thicker.

Sounds yummy, huh?

God could not have been painted as any more pissed, and this guy confirmed it: Humanity must be God’s great mistake. HELL is God’s just and delightful obligation.

Pack your bags, people! Hope you like hot and smokey.

I double-checked my bible. That word fornicators is found in the New Testament twice, but there is no mention of hell in either passage. Of course, there are strong warnings about life choices in the 1900-year-old text, but the notion that FORNICATORS (or anyone else on the lists) are automatically bound for hell isn’t in there.

If I am to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, I think this was some kind of weird attempt at evangelism. Maybe, but I’m not totally certain that qualifies as evangelism. No alternative remedy was offered. Just burn baby, burn.

If the streetwalker was attempting to jolt people to do something in order to escape the flames of Satan, the sign could have easily read, “You are so screwed.” In theory, it’s supposed to be helpful. It’s not. I checked around. A few did flip him off. There were honks and angry stares. I just wanted to crawl in a hole.

I do wonder how he got like he is. FORNICATORS. Wow! Had he caught his wife in bed with another lover? Did his momma split with another man when he was a child? Was dad a pla-ya? What? What has happened that causes people to peddle such an angry God vibe? Where is the love? Have they ever really met Jesus at all?  

If Jesus is the poster-child of the Trinity, we’re going to have to add love, grace, and forgiveness back into the equation. The divine perspective is for a benevolent universe.” Richard Rohr

Anything that remotely smacks of hope, begins with GOD is LOVE. That is more than enough to change your life forever!

Streetwalker was having none of that. There was no alternative suggested. Just alienation. Although he didn’t offer salvation as some kind of solution, you’d still have to wonder, what is the point?

So… what about you and your evangelistic notions? What’s your angle? Do you think people need to be saved in order to escape hell, or do you think people need to become aware of the magnificent blessing of life afforded us by His grace, His love, and His lavish forgiveness? We have the best news on the planet! That might not always be said about how we package and deliver that news.

I wish I could make my own sign. Not on neon cardboard, but written on people’s minds and hearts. It would say:


Yes, God loves you…

Even when you get it wrong.

Yes, God loves you…

No matter what you believe.

Yes, God loves you…

Regardless of how life has treated you.

Yes, God loves you…

In spite of what hate tells you.

Yes, God loves you…


This is for you streetwalker:

Lord, I pray that you would break through somehow to this man’s heart. Heal what needs to be healed. Touch every wound and restore peace. Show yourself as alive and loving. Holy Spirit, bring the witness of Your presence to his mind. May his message become the same as Your message: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” Amen

Love you all,



Categories: Uncategorized

the bee gees, white hockey dudes & Jesus

April 19, 2016 16 comments

“God created man in His image. Ever since, we’ve been returning the favor.” -Mark Twain.

I recently attended a couple of funerals that took place inside of churches I had never attended. I didn’t know either person being memorialized, but I knew at least one of the family members. Both services were beautiful and fit the normal pattern of the stuff that we do at funerals in the South.

During one of those services, the projected image on a massive screen behind the altar showed a large image of Jesus with a kid on his knee. At first I didn’t really pay much attention, but the longer I looked at the picture, the more it dawned on me that Jesus looked identical to Barry Gibbs of the famed Bee Gees. Of course, I had to mention that fact to a friend who was sitting nearby on my pew. The glare of his wife suggested, “Am I going to have to separate you two?”

What kind of put me over the edge was the picture of the child. He had a chili bowl haircut, platinum blonde hair, and radiant blue eyes. Where the heck did that kid come from? Sweden? How the Fig Newton did a kid from Sweden get to Jesus back then? Barry Gibbs and a kid from Sweden… in a church in Central Texas… WOW!

mulletThe other service provided another opportunity to take note of the art in the church, but it wasn’t quite as obvious. This service involved family, so it pretty much obligated me to make a comment. In a hallway after the service, there was an 8” x 10” picture of a very white Jesus. My nephews were the first to hear my keen observations: “Oh look, Jesus has a mullet.” He did. Jesus looked like a white hockey dude… with a serious mullet. People in Michigan or Minnesota would have been very proud.

I know. I need help.

Artists have been trying to capture the essence of Jesus for a really long time. Of course we don’t know what He looked like exactly, but at least we have some idea of what a Middle Eastern man could have possibly looked like before day spas, hair salons, Wahl beard trimmers, plastic surgery and sunscreen. I’m thinking a darker complexion than… say… me?

That’s kind of the point of this. Do we make Jesus out to be somebody who is like… me? He thinks as I do, He likes and agrees with my politics, He absolutely adores my theology, my worship style preferences and God talk, He totally approves of my flawless style, He too is a conservative capitalist and likes winners, and basically he likes grits because I like grits (that’s a Pastor Peter Lord quote).

I think I should be scared if He really is like me. I know me. I know me well. I need a counter-influence that can still love me regardless of how little I know and understand about the things of God. I would like to love like Him. I would like to be known as a person who embraces everyone I encounter. But, it’s not going to be very good if it’s the other way around.

I love hearing my Paige’s Jon lead worship. I believe in the boy’s juice and I always feel wind when I get to be around that. One Sunday recently, while visiting his church, I felt I had a very liberating encounter while worshiping. I could see Jesus at a distance. I couldn’t make out the details of his face, but I could tell that he had on a brightly colored coat. As I moved closer to him, his coat looked like it was covered in thousands of bottle caps with different colors and different writing on each one. Suddenly, He dropped the coat off his shoulders and the coat fell to the ground. He said, “See me.” I pointed to the crumpled coat, “What about that?” He said, “Those buttons are your projections of how you see me… how everyone sees me. Your paradigms are in those buttons. Don’t be distracted by those projections. See me.”

That was the end of that moment.

There’s more to Him than a tanned Fabio in a smock. Way more. Find the real. Don’t be so certain you understand it all or Him. He may not think like us at all (especially when it comes to the stuff on our spiritual buffet). Those buttons were ours. Not His.

“Ah, ah, ah, ah… staying alive… staying alive.”


Love you people!



Categories: Uncategorized


April 12, 2016 6 comments

crabsI’ve about decided that tribalism (of any kind) is a closed system. It’s not as open and free as it markets itself. It’s just another container that has rules of engagement, boundaries, high fences, and concrete explanations, which are designed for declaring and defining present reality. We so desperately want to be free, but within the confines of tribalism (especially religious tribalism), we’re anything but free. Ultimately, that’s very disturbing because it was for FREEDOM, that Christ has (past) set us (that’s supposed to be all of us) FREE (Galatians 5:1).

As much as I believe Paul meant what he was saying, he didn’t always act, sound, or look very free. Many times, Paul looks exactly like the old tribe he was trying to get out of. Factious, warring, exclusive, and dogmatically certain pretty much summarizes the old lineage. I’d add faithful, but I’m not sure it was always warranted. I do think Paul was trying to get out of the container he had always been a part of, but you know how it is when you’re one of many crabs in a steep bucket. Something or someone is always pulling you back into the norm. Freedom is a process… not an event.

How we were is always trying to get a foothold on how we are.

You have to get your mind right to align yourself in all the freedom that was purchased for us.

So, are you?  Are you free?

Free to think?

(To actually think outside the box of right and wrong—good and evil?  Have you ever tasted anything different from what you’ve always been served?  Is everyone wrong who thinks differently from you?)

Free to expand?

(To read and listen to thinkers who have more questions than answers?)

Free to doubt?

(Without having to rush back to home base in order to be accepted or approved? To consider mystery, and that God might not be as predictable or explainable as we seem so assured?)

Free to ask questions?

(Without fear of being exiled or defiled from grace, fellowship, or heaven?)

Free to not conform?

(Real transformation doesn’t happen by marching in cadence with everyone else. That’s conformance. Deep transformation happens in the obscure lonely walk through valleys and shadows. Jesus is our prime example of that kind of courage.)

Honestly, are we really free?  Or do we have to maintain our certainties in order to maintain our faith?

I have to answer the question also. I’ve lost interest in being just another crab in the bucket.

Love you people!


Categories: Uncategorized


April 5, 2016 Leave a comment

cratesFor the past couple of months, I’ve handled more boxes and crates than I really want to ever remember. Moving definitely puts you in touch with your baggage… inside and out. Some of these crates we’ve been hauling around for the past 20 years. Unpacking them is just too much. So we’ve hauled them again… and again… and again. It’s fairly harmless when it comes to our tangible stuff, but not so good when it applies to our internals.

We have definitely unpacked more stuff than not, but the energy required to uncover all of our loot requires patience and fearless fortitude. I say patience because our culture seems to be geared with the default posture that if we can’t see immediate visible results then we’re not making progress, or we have failed altogether. That attitude is an enemy to faith. Faith isn’t that practical. Faith involves plunging ourselves into deep mystery. It’s in the deep that transformation happens, and that isn’t always immediately discernable by yourself or others. We all know how to act. We’ve all got a little bit of Hollywood in us.

The fortitude part is the fearlessness and endurance to actually get at “it”—stay at “it”. Breathers and rest are good, but sooner or later, you’ve got to dive back in and address what looms in the dark pile. Real rest remedies fatigue, but sometimes you can’t rest until you’ve confronted what loiters in the shadows. Stay at “it” long enough and you’ll run out of projects. That is some of what freedom feels like.

I’m in the gym about 6 days a week, but there is something about moving that touches muscles that you didn’t realize you had. Everything currently hurts, but that is only temporary. The deed is done. The journey is here.

Advil please.

Love you all!


Categories: Uncategorized