Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

critical solidarity

Jesus in his solidarity with the marginal ones is moved to compassion. Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness. In the arrangement of “lawfulness” in Jesus’ time, as in the ancient empire of Pharoah, the one unpermitted quality of relation was compassion. The norms of law (social control) are never accommodated to persons, but persons are accommodated to the norms. Otherwise the norms will collapse and with them the whole power arrangement. Thus the compassion of Jesus is to be understood not simply as a personal emotional reaction but as a public criticism in which he dares to act upon his concern against the entire numbness of his social context. —From The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

I have never considered this aspect of Jesus’ compassion. Considering his constant attack upon the blindness of the religious establishment, I think it’s prudent to concur with Brueggemann’s understanding on this. Anything we do that mirrors the nature and character of the Christ pretty much confronts that social “numbness” and lethargy of institutional religion. —MDP

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October 19, 2020 15 comments

I know I promised to be more frequent in my posting on this site… but, it’s just loony-tunes around here right now.  You probably get a lot of stuff to fill your inbox, but if you actually want the stuff I’m putting out weekly for the churches I pastor… send me your email or text your info to me.  I’m doing a thing called: Touching Home Plate.  It’s basically the best of my weekly devotional studies.  There’s some “church stuff” in it, but mostly great thoughts, stretches, and a lot of Jesus counter-energy to the religious crap you know I love. ; )

Here’s a little something I read earlier this morning on humility. I preached yesterday on the kind of humility that is necessary for real community—social and spiritual. I like these thoughts from today’s reading. Honestly, you’ve got to get past the first sentence, but don’t let it shut you down.  Pretty good stuff.

Much love!  Be good at loving everyone.


254-744-0126 /

Basically, humility is the attitude of one who stands constantly under the judgment of God. It is the attitude of one who is like the soil. Humility comes from the Latin word humus, fertile ground. The fertile ground is there, unnoticed, taken for granted, always there to be trodden upon. It is silent, inconspicuous, dark and yet it is always ready to receive any seed, ready to give it substance in life. The lowlier, the more fruitful, because it becomes really fertile when it accepts all the refuse of the earth. It is so low that nothing can soil it, abase it, humiliate it; it has accepted the last place and it cannot go any lower. In that position nothing can shatter the soul’s serenity, its peace and joy.

—From Living Prayer by Anthony Bloom

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July 22, 2020 4 comments

How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? —Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 7:11

Jesus is laying down rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit. By the simple argument of these verses He urges us to keep our minds filled with the notion of God’s control behind everything, which means that the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Notion your mind with the idea that God is there. If once the mind is awakened along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember—Why, my Father knows all about it! It is not an effort; it comes naturally when perplexities press. Before, you used to go to this person and that, but now the notion of the Divine control is forming so powerfully in you that you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit, and it works on this principle—God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry?

There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it shall be given you.”

—by Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 16.

I cut my teeth with devotional readings back in 1978. Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter filled my mind and heart with brilliant writing and spiritually deep teaching. I was a “brand new” follower of Jesus. I didn’t know enough to question his thoughts on anything, so I chewed fast and swallowed hard. But that is what immature believers are supposed to do. It’s part of the process to fill their spiritual containers, and I’m certainly grateful for everything thing I learned from Dr. Baxter, my beloved first spiritual mentor, Dr. H. D. McCarty and countless other men and women who sowed faithfully into my thirsty soul.

Years later, I was introduced to Oswald Chambers. That’s also been a sweet blessing—feeding my spiritual hunger for many hears. His writing, what you just read, was something I wanted to elaborate on today. Quite often I hear Jesus people say, “God is in control.” Oswald mentioned it in his opening remarks of the reading above. I can see where Oswald is going with his thought, but most of the time, I don’t really trust what I think people are saying when I hear “God is in control.” To be candid about it, I get the feeling that people are good with the notion that “God is in control” as long as they get what they want… or they can’t really explain why they didn’t get what they want. I always picture this as our way of trying to rationalize what we can’t possibly understand. The tone of how we say “God is in control” has a weirdness in it… like we’re the Lollipop kids, and God is behind the curtain pulling levers, blowing smoke, and micro-managing everything from the Emerald City headquarters. Honestly, it doesn’t sit right with me, but if it works for you… fine by me.


Yes, God is sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. BUT we have a will. We have been given choice, and freedom, and liberty to make our choices… to a point. We decide things socially and even restrict ourselves because we feel the greater good demands healthy boundaries. To be honest, I’ve been a little surprised about how we “Jesus followers” have been in our personal anti-mask campaigns during this pandemic in our country. Sure, it’s your right to say “no” to such a small and simple thing, but wearing a mask is such a small and simple thing, and could actually be helpful in curbing a really big problem out there. (Very few things in life are really about us… unless we make it about us. Why do we make it about us? Where is our grace for everyone else’s concern?) I don’t actually remember, but I’d have to guess that people lost their minds when seat-belt laws went into effect, but it was for the greater good. Statisticians, researchers, scientist, hordes of moms who had buried their children because of auto accidents, and the medical community all agreed that it might save lives. Not every time, but it does save lives. So, we comply, and buckle up, or suffer the consequences.  I’m not sure how wearing a mask in self-governance or in consideration of others is any different?

I’m sure some of you are about to tell me.

Back to my original thoughts: God is not micro-managing all our affairs, but as Oswald went on to say, “the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust, and an eagerness to ask and to seek,” which seems to align more with what I’m trying to say.

I was a fearful kid. There were a lot of good reasons for that, but another time… another tale. Fear got in the way of a lot of things for me. My dad was a super athlete and I wanted to be the same, but a lot of times I was defeated by fear before I ever got started. As a child, I played baseball. I had great eye-hand coordination, enough strength and agility, but fear is no friend while on the baseball diamond, or football field, or any other contact sport. Going to the plate with a bat in my hand was tormenting. I was afraid, and it’s almost impossible to stand at the plate and really dig-in and be ready to hit. To add pressure, my dad was my coach for a couple years. He was plenty patient with me, but when a kid is afraid it takes special tactics to help them overcome the internal terror. Eventually, I grew out of a lot of those fears, but not during Pee Wee and Little League baseball.

I specifically remember my dad trying to help me hit a curve ball. Holy-moly what a nightmare for an 11-year-old kid who is afraid of being hit by a baseball. My dad had been coaching youth baseball for a while, and he had a lot of older guys that were playing baseball as young adults. So, he brought in one of his much older guys to throw batting practice to the team. Nothing but curveballs! Help me Jesus! Dad knew I was afraid, but I still went to the plate… trembling. He got me in hitting position (without a bat) and then my dad stood right behind me… actually his belly up against my back. Billy threw curveballs right at me, but I couldn’t retreat, I couldn’t back up, I couldn’t bail out of the box… nothing. Dad didn’t move until he felt me stop flinching. “Watch it break Mike?  See the spin? Can you see it? Watch it. See it? You got it Son. That’s it.” Once he handed me a bat… I was able to respond to the challenges of trying to hit a curveball without diving for my life.

Here’s my point: My dad wasn’t in control (I still had the freedom to react, even in flinching fear)… he was PRESENT. It was his presence that helped me get over my fear and timidity in a fearful situation. I still had the full and absolute ability to jerk, move, dodge, or I could step toward the pitch and wait for the ball to break over the strike zone, but my father’s presence affirmed where the ultimate wall of security stood. I’m absolutely convinced that God is our powerful and awesome wall of ultimate security. “God is in control,” okay… that’s engrained in your vernacular, and I’ll give you that, but God isn’t controlling nor is God a micro-manager of all our little plans and schemes. Some messes you get yourself into. Some blessing come into your life because you were a blessing first and showed some love. Somethings are just the byproduct of natural and simple living in an unfathomable ocean of massive differences. Our battle is for trust. Can we believe, can we trust, can we rest in the ultimate goodness of God? That goodness is EVERYWHERE. You are free to find out for yourself.

Love you all… masked or not!




Categories: Uncategorized


July 11, 2020 4 comments

Howdy. I realize that I haven’t posted in a long time, but since this COVID thing hit, I’ve spent most of my words on my people in the two churches I pastor. I haven’t on purpose tried to ignore this blog. It’s just been crazy.  I don’t mind sharing the stuff with you that I share with my people… not at all.  If you want on that email list… just ask… you shall receive (  I’ll try to do better.

Here’s a thing… (yeah, just a thing) I was processing with a couple friends.  I wasn’t trying to take it anywhere, but it honestly burped out, and I’ve been told it was worth reading… so here.  Love you all—MDP

I’m writing in an effort to think through something I was reading earlier this morning in I CORINTHIANS 9.  (Sorry, I process sometimes with ink.) Fairly familiar verses for people who read the Bible:

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
Evidently, Paul felt it his duty, responsibility, privilege to be a witness.  He called himself a slave.  He uses the word “win” in my NASB translation.  An unfortunate translation of the word.  “Gain for another’s benefit” is a more accurate understanding.  “Winning” is power-over verbiage that is more about “me”.  I’m so over our culture’s love of “me” AND “winning.”
Paul basically says that he’ll pimp out to be whatever is necessary to “gain” followers of Christ.  In other words, if the Jewish boys want to play Flys and Skinners… I’ll play Flys and Skinners, etc.  I get it.  For a recovering Pharisee… this is good progress for Paul.
Then he says, “but those who are without the law” (pagan/Gentiles/dirtbags/losers) he points to the key in relating to them … “I have to come with a different influence… a different kind of juice.”  Again, good progress for Paul (recovering religionist himself). He mentions the influence has to come from the Law of Christ.  There is NO LAW of Christ…. not technically or doctrinally anyway.  What we have here is something that I think the church is grossly short of… the real influence of Jesus’ personality, character, and life skills.  The best explanation that I have is that Jesus did confront the religious i.e. power establishment, but he didn’t try to topple them… he only expose their shallow impotence….”smells and bells” or “nickles and noses” religious infatuation. It wasn’t real, because God wasn’t in it.  The system in Jesus day was a business that exploited and robbed the poor of what little it had.  Some days I’m not sure that we’ve progressed much further. (I need to be drinking in order to enter that conversation any deeper).
Here’s my bottom-line: We have to be ruthlessly forceful to examine ourselves by this so called “Law of Christ”.  Can we assume that religious activity is in compliance at some level?  I think not.  We have to look at the human Jesus, and tap into his kind of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, second chances, restorative justice and long-suffering. His humanness perfectly revealed the real heart of God.  So much of who Jesus was was in direct opposition to what we’d call God worshipers.  Jews at the time, were the planet’s best… and Jesus looked NOTHING like them.
Back to Paul… the key to pushing to ball forward in our lives has to be the true character of Christ transforming us.  Not law, not doctrine, not religion… none of that.  There is only one savior in this world.  One.  We have to put all our chips on HIM.  Everything else. Everyone else…. is sinking sand. Do we look like, act like, think like Jesus?  There was nothing in the Beatitudes that was normal thinking for them. It’s an indicator of how far off track God worshipers had gotten in their modes of operation.  Quite frankly, I think the Church has lost its way too.  I know what little bit I see… makes it me feel like a salmon swimming up stream sometimes.  Jesus actually fillets the Pharisees with:  “You polish the outside of the dish and bowl… but inside you’re full of robbery and deceit… you’ve totally ignored the weightier provisions of the Law: Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness” (Matt 23:23).  Yup… He took them to the woodshed.  Needed.  It’s still needed. How many times did Jesus say… “You’ve heard it said… [       ] BUT, I say to you… [        ].”  Quite often actually.  God with skin exposing the rampant blindness of religious activity.
For me my brother… I’ve got to measure things by Jesus.  That was/is the true divine voice. That’s our source.  He’s our head.  Period.
Categories: Uncategorized

church of uber – EVE

March 9, 2020 18 comments

Very recently, Patti, Michael and Kathy Hindes, and I jumped into car with a Lyft driver named Eve. I didn’t order the car—not with my phone anyway—so don’t give me grief about it. It was a ride share.  So just deal with it.

Eve immediately started chatting us up, and someone in the back seat asked where she was from. Eve grew up in Philadelphia and had fairly recently moved to Atlanta. She gave us a brief rundown, and then I starting popping off about how much I love Philadelphia. It’s been 17 years since I’ve been there, but I remember my time in Philly like it was yesterday. Eve asked, “What did you like about it?”  I told her about a couple of strong memories of my stay in Philadelphia. One of those memories involved an excursion to hire a taxi to take myself, Andrew Shearman, and David Fredriksz to find my seventh-generational grandfather’s home on the south side of Philly. That was back in February of 2003, so picture a cold, snowy landscape in a somewhat sleepy town on a Sunday morning.

  1924 drawing of the Paschall House

This whole hunt for the “Paschall House” started when one of my dad’s cousins (who I’d never met) sent my dad a letter, having discovered the story of the house during her genealogical research of our family tree. When my dad found out that I was going to be in Philly, he sent me a handwritten letter—not only of the lineage of the original owner of the land (Elijah Paschall – my seventh-generational grandfather), but also the actual address of the house. Evidently, the land had been purchased from William Penn by my ancestor. I remember Dad telling me to look for the historical marker on the house (built in 1732), and if I could figure out how to get into the house, to check out all the doors and hardware (original still).

I had no idea if I would be able to make time for such an excursion. But when the opportunity actually presented itself, Andrew, Dave and I hopped in the taxi and rode the short 30 minutes to the house.  We were on the economically-depressed side of Philly now. These were primarily minority neighborhoods, and the the taxi driver asked more than once if we had the address correct: 6840 Paschall Ave. I remember the driver saying, “It’s not the safest part of Philly.” Regardless, we rolled.

As soon as we arrived, we got out of the taxi, but asked the driver to wait. It was cold, and we weren’t really dressed for the weather. There was a short iron fence around the front of the house that we entered through, onto the front lawn (which had about a foot of snow). I had one of those digital cameras that used a small floppy disk. I was taking pictures of the front of the house, especially of the historical marker. I even went onto the front porch to see if the door hinges were visible. But then suddenly, as if out of nowhere, I looked up to discover five large black men standing in the yard with us.


A decent picture of the front of the house, but the best picture is provided by Google Maps.


“Can we help you?”  They were all dressed in Sunday clothes.  I began to explain why we were on the lawn, and they told me that the house was now serving as the Administration/Education Building for the Mt. Moriah Apostolic Church. Sure enough, there was a new worship sanctuary on the backside of the house. I don’t think I had even noticed that it was back there.

I went on to explain my family’s connection to the house, and to reassure them that we meant no harm. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that we (Andrew, Dave, and myself) were ministers. After a few minutes of chit-chat, they said, “Please come with us.  Our pastor is going to want to meet you.”  So, we waved the taxi off, and went into church.

Church was just wrapping up, but of course, they marched us in as honored guests to an empty few in the front half of the church. There were formal introductions, and I was invited to the pulpit to tell the congregation why we had interrupted the service with all of our commotion. There was a lot of applause, and lots of friendly faces. It was sort of surreal, but totally wonderful.



Everyone in the house greeted us after the service before they filed out of the church. As we turned to walk out, a man came up to me and asked if we wanted to go into the house. Of course we did!  We headed to the back door, when a very tiny, elderly woman (my guess is she was around 90 years old) motioned me over to the pew where she was sitting. I slid in beside her, and she introduced herself. Her beautiful white hair was pulled into a fuzzy bun, and it made the etches on her dark skin so captivating. She was lovely, and I loved her immediately. She said, “I know something you don’t know about the Paschall house.”  She said, “Honey, that house was used for the underground railroad before the Civil War. I have family that made it here to Philly because that house was here. There was a trench from the basement that led to the river, so that small boats could transport people to and from that house after dark. A lot of my people got here because of what went on in that house.”

I could only hug her. I just didn’t have any words. It felt like a dream. As steeped in white privilege as I was, and admittedly still confronting, I honestly feel a token of honor with that bit of trivia, and I seriously doubt that all of the lineage, on both side of my family tree warrants those warm sentiments.

The house was three levels, with a basement.  Sure enough, almost everything in this house was still original – the doors and hardware, the nails in the wood, the beams in the attic…

Down in the basement, you could see the multi-colored bricks that were used to repair the once functional opening into the basement. I took a couple of dozen digital pictures which I no longer possess. I have no idea where those pictures ever ended up. We’ve moved a few times since 2003 [help me Jesus].

After saying our goodbyes, my friends and I caught another taxi to The Hard Rock Café for lunch, and I flew back to Colorado Springs later that afternoon.



After telling my Philly story, Eve (along with the rest of my support group in the backseat of our Lyft) all agreed together that I should put this story onto paper.  So here it is in all of its glory. Seventeen years ago. Crazy!

Once back in Wyoming, I started digging around on Google maps to see if I could find the house again. I did!  And, I found some other supporting documentation. The church is on Facebook. The house looks exactly the same as I remember.

The other memories of Philly?  There are three:

  1. My first time to drink Chimay (Belgium Trappist) on tap.  One of the finest Belgium beers ever made.
  2. Mahogany on Walnut. Maybe my favorite cigar bar of all time. (You had to have been there, and I’m sad to say it isn’t open anymore. That place was magic.)
  3. I got a prophecy from some dear brothers who I didn’t really know, that eventually turned my world (and Patti’s) upside down (long story, but a GREAT story… looking back).

          “Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backwards.”           Søren Kierkegaard


I’ve been thinking. Maybe the Church of Uber wasn’t just about my driving Uber. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with Uber, or Lyft, or any other rideshares. Maybe it’s more about being good with what you can’t see coming—can’t control, shouldn’t control—and ultimately trusting that “person-to-person” encounters on this orb can be good seedbeds for the interruption of God’s grace. It just gets weird when we force our religious voodoo onto people (believe me, I have been there and done that).  But, if you’re willing to ride along (or offer a ride to someone else), in order to add value in any way to this crazy-ass world we live in, then maybe… just maybe… the “God juice” on your life will open the doors of God’s beautiful mysteries and invitations. That seems like something we can all do with humility, surrender, and love.

That 24 minutes with Eve was so refreshing. In fact, I got out of the car and said to Michael, “That’s why… right there. That’s why I kept driving Uber for 3 years.” The inner man loved it all over again.

Thanks for listening to my tale!


Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!



Love you all,


Categories: Uncategorized

isaiah 9:6

December 23, 2019 2 comments

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
And the government shall be upon his shoulder:
And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
To order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice
From henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.



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seven months

November 7, 2019 24 comments

Seven Months.  It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been seven months since I’ve even considered posting a blog on this site. I’ve been distracted.


My life is somewhat different now. Patti and I live in Sundance, Wyoming. I now pastor two United Methodist Churches. One is in Sundance, and the other is in Upton.  Upton is about 30 miles from Sundance, and about seven hours north of Colorado Springs. I preach in both churches every Sunday, and that has a lot to do with my abandonment of this blog site. Honestly, I spend most of my words every week in serving the local church. I only have so many words, and I am trying to make them count here, where we have been planted.

It might be another seven months before I blog again.  Who knows?  But I feel compelled to make an offering to the social media gods (I still can’t make up my mind whether they’re friend or foe) based upon that thing that happens to me when I hear, read, or experience something that demands my conscience to “re-tell” it, or “put it out there,” only after I’ve taken time to process the encounter. I’ll tee this up quickly and then get to the point.

I’ve been preaching through material that I feel is imperative for a basic understanding of what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus. Since serving in my new positions in Wyoming, I’ve preached 34 times.  But all of those messages have had something to do with ekklesia (church), or discipleship. Something that Jesus supposedly said about the latter is recorded in the gospels. I think it’s fairly profound:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25 NASB)

I have no idea how this verse affects you, but for me, every alarm on the discipleship dashboard starts flashing its hot red glow every time I read this passage.  After Jesus’ generous invitation to become followers, we’re given three key components of what that “followship” entails: He (she / we / all of us!) must deny himself (ourselves). STOP RIGHT THERE!

Deny ourselves? Really? That is step one? I don’t know if you’ve looked around lately, but that isn’t how we do things here. Deny self? Yeah, we’re mostly hosed in this department.

One of the foundational truths of the discipleship framework is the simple challenge that we don’t make our lives all about “ME.” This is blasphemy in our culture. Absolute blasphemy. There are glimpses of hope at times!  Unfortunately, social media isn’t the best place to look for evidence of our inner health. Yeah, it’s just my opinion.  But I have eyes.

So, let me get to the motivation for all of these words. A few mornings back, I read something from Oswald Chambers that made me squirm in my seat. I love being challenged by Oswald, but the reading that day went for the juggler on this whole notion of our lives being about “US.” Here is the caption that hammered my heart:

If you are going to be used by God, God will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in God’s hand, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. -Oswald Chambers

That, right there, is another way of telling us that when we make our lives about ourselves, we are missing, altogether, our purpose in putting forth our real identity in Christ. It matters.  Chambers’ comment should ignite something deep inside of us that reminds us what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus. Life doesn’t always cooperate with our own self-focus. The whole point of a costly redemption is to reverse the horrible into some kind of blessing, right? Loss happens to all of us. Death, despair, heartache, betrayal, and disappointment ­– they all resurface over and over and over again. Our pain and aches are real, and sometimes overwhelming, unbearable, and inner torture. But, losing the opportunity to be of use to someone else in need because our own torn soul demand that we focus all of our attention on ourselves, puts us at odds with the mechanics of “followship” with Jesus.

There are a lot of people in this world who have suffered unthinkable loss and grief. Those who have regained some semblance of real inner health are the ones who continue to walk through life without demanding that life (anyone or anything) owes them reparations. That which has been lost can never be replaced. But those wounds, and the healing that comes after we have grieved a loss, can be used to help heal others. The further we can move from a “ME” focus, the healthier we become. All of us. Every now and then, you meet someone who epitomizes what Chambers is laying down here. These are the giants among us. Rare air.

It’s not about me is only part of the discipleship infrastructure.  But it’s vitally important. Anyone not sucked into that vacuum is pretty easy to spot, but you might have to look for them in obscure places of great need.  Yeah, the places where Jesus would hang out.

Thanks for reading.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!


Love you all,




Categories: Uncategorized

church of uber – ADRIAN

May 10, 2019 14 comments

Saturday mornings are always interesting in Uber world. You really never know what you’re going to get at 4:00 a.m. Walks of shame are common, sleepy and/or drunk are equally normal, and hyper excited vacationers heading to Hawaii or the Caribbean are also a regular occurrence on Saturday mornings. For whatever reason, not many drive Uber early on the weekend, and I’m always slammed until it’s time to turn off the driver app. Last Saturday was no exception.

I was out the door about 3:55am. After a 10-minute trip to pick up my first ride, I stopped in front of an apartment complex that was poorly lighted. I couldn’t read the numbers on the side of the building, but my app told me that my rider (Adrian) had been notified that I had arrived. I was thinking about her name: Adrian. I’ve only known one Adrian, and she was married to Rocky. So, I was humming the Rocky theme song (getting up for the day), and sitting in the dark.

Suddenly, the back door opened and this blonde ball of fire got into the back seat. “Hi! I’m Adrian.” I turned quickly to take a look at the face with that voice. The southern drawl was unmistakably thick and twangy, with lots of sass. The kid was gorgeous. I later found out she had been out of high school about 2 years. Adrian had blue eyes and platinum blonde hair that was piled in huge mounds of curls and ringlets. Scary beautiful. The skull and crossbones tattoo on her neck was interesting, but I didn’t inquire.

I started right in: “Girl! Where are you from?” Scarlett O’Hara couldn’t have poured the molasses any thicker! “Well, I’ve been traveling some the past couple of years, but I’m from San Augustine, Texas. I still call that home.” I asked, “Did you say San Augustine?” “Yes sir! San Augustine, Texas.” I then asked her if she was a Curly Wolf (school mascot). She screamed in disbelief! “OH MY LORD! How did you know that?” I laughed and replied, “Adrian, it’s a very small world.”

Back when Patti and I could count our relocation moves on the fingers of one hand, I took a coaching/teaching job in San Augustine, Texas. I was chasing a dream to coach with my old head football coach. His hometown and alma mater was in San Augustine. He was back home to serve the place where he had graduated and played sports. Coach A had a son that graduated in my class. I had a lot of father figures in my life at the time, but Coach A was special to me. That year in San Augustine was the last of my teaching and coaching career.

The school song at San Augustine begins with the words, “Deep in the piney woods.” That is an understatement. Parts of East Texas are so thick with trees that you can only see the sun at noon. It was one of those places that could easily have been the inspiration for the movie Deliverance. I can hear the banjos playing even now. I’m sure many things have changed since 1982, but back then, it was a fairly backwards place.

To be honest, I was half listening to Adrian go on about her life in San Augustine, because my mind was sifting through old files and memories from that one year in the piney woods. At the time, I was 25 years old. For the most part, I was posing as a teacher and a coach who secretly hated being stuck in the classroom. My coaching knowledge and style for motivating young men to excel in athletic conquests was shallow and mostly ineffective. Kids usually love their coaches, unless their coaches have lost the vision for why they’re coaching. I did love some of those kids, but I was so young, I can only say that I didn’t have much of a clue about anything going on in my life at that time. Ask Patti and she’ll confirm that I had lost my mojo and excitement concerning teaching and coaching in the public school system.

My ride with Adrian was short and sweet, and I only held to bits and pieces of why she was in the Springs, but her sweet voice and East Texas speak threw me into a whirlwind of memories of that year in San Augustine. I wish I could tell you that in 1982, I was highly offended by the cultural racial norms of deep East Texas. I wasn’t. I was full of pride, certain of my brilliance, uncertain of my voice, and had never remotely considered that white privilege was a real “thing.” It is, and what I witnessed was fairly familiar to what I grew up with, and it never really dawned on me (even at age 25) what kind of hardship the kids on my basketball team suffered while trying to play the sport they loved. I never heard one complaint from any of the multifaceted injustices I witnessed, but the memories are still so alive.

I had only one white kid on my Varsity squad, and he was a move-in from DFW. He was a much better athlete than I had ever been, but I, too, was the only white kid on my high school basketball team at McGregor. My token white kid was a “gamer,” and had everyone’s respect on the team. He had also been the starting quarterback during football season. The boy was all business, yet all of my guys were easy to coach.

By the time basketball season rolled around, Nicole (my eldest daughter) was about a year old. Patti and Nicole would usually ride the team bus when we played out of town. From the time Nicole got on the bus, until we got off at our destination, she was usually hijacked by the players, and sat at the back of the bus with them. They would pass her around like a doll. I was always driving the bus, and I could see in the rearview mirror that whatever those guys were snacking on, she was getting her share of, too. The love in all of that was simply beautiful. When they’d hand her back to her mother, she was usually stuffed to the gills and covered with whatever she had been eating.

San Augustine had been one of the latter high schools in Texas to integrate (or at least that was what I was told when I started work there). Even in 1982, there was separate water fountains in the county courthouse located on the city square. I never entered the doctor’s office in San Augustine, but Patti said there were separate waiting rooms there also. I had grown up with the exact same thing in my hometown, and didn’t really ever question how things were in San Augustine.

There were small towns in Texas that had serious reputations, and very public advertising that discouraged any black or latino family from taking residence of any kind in those communities. Some of those “sundown communities” were within 50 miles of my hometown. Confederate flags flew just below the American flag. Some still fly even now. Where I grew up, it wasn’t that noticeable, but the railroad track that ran through the middle of town was a serious line of demarcation concerning which side of town people lived. As late as 1998, James Byrd, Jr. was brutally murdered by being dragged to death by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas, which is only about 45 miles from San Augustine. Although it’s not always manifested before your eyes, you can smell and taste the ignorant hate in certain places in this world. Rohr teaches that “ignorant hate” is the real description of what it means to sin. Think about that long enough, and you’ll probably agree.

There were two chilling memories that my conversation with Adrian brought back to the surface. The first had to do with the amount of fear that black young men had concerning nighttime in that small town. After a basketball game, whether it was out of town or at home, my kids were afraid to walk home from the gym. After every game, I would put them on the bus and make sure each kid got home safely. They would not walk through the white neighborhoods in order to get home. I wished I could say that was disturbing to me at the time. It was not. I noticed it and reacted by trying to get them home safely, but I don’t remember calling out bullshit for having to take them home after dark. Those young men were afraid for good reasons. Absolute BULLSHIT!

I taught a couple of P.E. classes that year. In one of those classes was a young man who I shall call Lawrence. Lawrence was in his senior year but had spent all four years of high school in a resource program. I was told he had authority issues, was a discipline problem, and was barely able to read. Lawrence was a kid, but he was a full-grown man. On Friday’s, I allowed the P.E. class to do whatever they wanted during class. In that school, basketball and baseball was king… not football (strange, but true). All during football season, Lawrence would wear me out: “Can I try out for basketball?” Lawrence had never played organized sports, but he could definitely play the game of basketball. He had Barkley’s body, mouth, and ability to jump into the rafters, but my only concern was his temperament and willingness to operate in a coached system. About a week before tryouts, I caught Lawrence in the hall and told him I’d let him try out, but I wasn’t making any promises about him being on the team. A week later, it was very obvious that Lawrence had the skills to play with anyone, so I brought him into my office and asked him what kind of effort and attitude should I expect? He burst into tears. “No one has ever let me belong to anything.”

The backstory was bad. No dad, mom in jail, grandparents didn’t want him. Lawrence lived with a friend of an aunt, and rode a bike 6 miles to and from school every day. Lawrence hugged me after games, and sometimes in the halls around school. I paid him to mow and rake pine straw around my house. The boy had nothing.


As I mentioned earlier, I left San Augustine and coaching after one year. When the time came for us to move, I hired Lawrence to help me load the Uhaul. It was a Sunday morning, and he showed up pretty hung over. I could smell the cheap wine or whatever it was he’d filled himself with the night before. He was hurting, but he was a beast loading the truck. I gave him a few items out of my closet and some money. Then he grabbed me and said, “Coach, I got a question.” Okay, what is it? “Can I go with you? I won’t be any trouble, and I’ve got to get out of San Augustine.” I don’t remember exactly what I said, other than it was not possible, which sucked big time. I sucked.

That wasn’t the last time a kid asked to move somewhere with Patti and myself, but it might be one of the more painful memories of my early adulthood. Lawrence walked off my lawn crying his eyes out. I was so full of my dreams and aspirations that I couldn’t make space for anyone else’s needs. I know it is normal for a kid in his ‘20s to respond to most of life’s demands in that fashion, but it sits now like a sand-bur in my heart. Full-time ministry was still several years away for me, but obviously… I wasn’t ready. Not even close.

I’ve wondered more than once about Lawrence over the past 38 years. Is he still alive? Is he a good man and a productive citizen? Did he crawl out of his circumstance and rise above his family’s plight? Just like that ten minutes in the car with Adrian, or any ride in my Ubermobile, I had one shot with Lawrence, and then it was over. I’m reluctant to give myself a grade in that entire situation (though it feels like an D-), yet I really hope that what I did give him at the time (some love and respect) made some difference.

Overall, I’m thankful for my ten minutes with Adrian. But in a flash she was out of the car and gone. Maybe right now is more important than we can ever appreciate. Church of Uber has taught me that time and time again. It’s important y’all!

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!



Speaking of relocation, Patti and I are moving in July to Sundance, WY.  I have been commissioned by the United Methodist Church to pastor two small churches in NE Wyoming. Thank you for your prayers… for us, our family here in Colorado Springs, our church here in Fountain (which we love), and the churches we will be serving in Wyoming!  Ain’t life a trip?!

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church of uber – MICHELLE

February 5, 2019 2 comments

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to report. Uber Church has been alive and well. It’s just been a crazy busy season. We all have to align our priorities, and blogging has definitely taken a backseat for a multitude of reasons. But, sometimes it is good to revisit the sweet spots in your life. There was a season when blogging was my only real outlet. We “preacher types” have to “download” every now and then or we get cranky. The audience in our heads is always thirsty for our exquisite monologues. I honestly know better, but hearing your “self” talk, think, create, or expound can be addicting. I work pretty damn hard to keep the cuckoo in its clock because it’s just downright ugly to be that unaware of our own self-infatuation.

I picked up a fairly major writer and speaker a couple of months ago. I was shocked when he flatly said, “I sold my soul to the devil.” He had my attention. “I wanted fame, I wanted to be known, and I thought that would fix me on the inside. I got my dream.” I couldn’t help myself, “How is that working out for you?” He barely whispered, “It hasn’t changed a damned thing.” I think I already knew what he was going to say.

Let me tell you about Michelle. I picked her up at 4:30am in front of a nicer hotel on the west side of Colorado Springs. She was sitting on a bench taking a last drag on her cigarette. She talked first, and asked me if I knew about the hidden gem that her hotel was. I liked her immediately. She was very short, spunky (especially for 4:30 in the morning), and cute, but she looked very tired. Within minutes, I had already heard a lot about her work. Michelle is a trainer for a giant software company, who travels a lot internationally. It was fun to talk with her about the places I had also visited. This was a woman who had a lot of energy, and was willing to spend that energy even at the wee hours of the morning.

When I inquired about where she was flying to that morning, the mood changed suddenly. “Home.” Her voice cracked as she said it. I looked in the rearview mirror and I could see her pulling out a Kleenex in the back seat. Normally, I would have remained quiet and wait to see what was coming next, but we’d already shared a bunch of words. So, I dug in. “What’s up Michelle?” I asked. It took a good 30 seconds for her to compose herself enough to talk. Finally, she said, “I’m supposed to be here all week, but my brother-in-law died yesterday.” More tears. More crying. I offered my condolences.

Michelle’s brother-in-law was 44 years old. He was a bigger man who hadn’t taken the best care of himself, leaving behind a wife, and three daughters—14, 12, and 8. I got the rundown on the situation, and it was tough. Michelle’s sister hadn’t ever really worked, and her husband didn’t really have anything put away. Since Michelle’s kids were already grown, she had invited her sister and her kids to move in with her.

As we neared the airport, Michelle said, “You want to know something about me?” I had a feeling this was going to be about self-abasement, and I was right. “Of course,” I said. “I’m a very shallow person,” she replied. “How so?” I asked.

She told me how she had had some water damage in the basement of her house. “I’ve been a real bitch to the insurance company and the contractors trying to fix the problem. I’ve been so upset over such a nothing thing compared to what my sister is now facing.” I waited for a good minute. She concluded with a question: “Preacher man, do you think God is trying to tell me something?” I said, “Michelle, life does bring a lot of irritations. Nothing is guaranteed… ever.” That got a big “Amen” from the backseat. “But you’ve already shown your heart towards your sister and your nieces. You’ve shown that you’re open to both inconvenience and mercy, even though everyone is hurting in your family. Try not to be too hard on yourself. They’re going to need a lot of love, and you’re the one they are going to look to for those things. If God is trying to tell you something, love is always involved. If you can’t sense love in what you’re hearing, it’s not from God.”

Once I got her bags out of the back of the car, I asked if I could hug her and pray for her. She said yes, then thanked me, and grabbed her luggage. As she started to walk away, she said, “It’s about priorities, isn’t it?” I grinned. “Yes, Michelle. It’s always about our priorities.” She thanked me again and walked off.

I would be a liar if I told you that Uber driving is financially rewarding. It’s not. Not even close. BUT the encounters—the people and what they’ve taught me—are absolutely priceless.

I suspect my Uber days are close to being over. I realize this expression is overused, BUT it’s definitely been a good ride.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!




Categories: Uncategorized

November 27, 2018 1 comment




This is the first of four volumes of Raw Talks With Wisdom. Volume One contains all the devos from January 1 through March 31.  In a few spots, I’ve added current commentary, but for the most part, it’s the same devotionals that were originally written and published in 2013.

These books are smaller, easier to slide into your briefcase, backpack, or bookshelf. It’s definitely a more user-friendly edition.

We’re ending the Raw Talks email campaign on December 31st. Volume Two will also be out before year’s end, and we’ll get Three and Four out early 2019

Printed and electronic copies are now available for purchase at:






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