Friday, December 29, 2006

In Honor of Harald Bredesen


Updated Jan. 6:

Memorial is planned for:
Saturday, February 3 at 11AM
Church on the Way
The King's Place, West Campus
14800 Sherman Way
Van Nuys, CA
For more info follow at HARALDBREDESEN.COM


Some of my memories with Harald (updated once again on January 19th):


My last contact with Harald was a phone call just a few short months ago. The three of us: Steve Maddox, Harald and myself were on the phone. I had recently been through some tough times. False accusations from an influential minister were being accepted by those higher up in the denomination I served. Harald knew our small ministry, and respected it. He called to tell me that he had put in a good word for me. He described a message he left on the home phone of the leader of our denomination (a number which few people had access to). His words to the denominational President were gracious, yet at the same time strong. As he described his actions in my defense, he raised his voice, as he always did when got excited, and said, "I am so honored to come to your defense!"

Harald honored!? No I was honored I said, but he repeated his words as loudly as before, "I am so honored to defend you my brother!"

Of all things in which I will attempt to emulate Harald Bredesen this will be the most significant: He treated all men as princes. If you were a prince you were treated as a prince. If you were a pauper, you were treated like a prince as well. He appeared to honor no man over any other man, and to him even the lowliest were kings. I have known "important people," and none have been as noble as this man in this simple principle. He saw all people as deeply loved by God, and treated them with that respect. May God return this glory to his church.
___________

We invited Harald to come to Salem to be the main speaker for a conference we held called "Spirit Rising." During the day we were walking down the sidewalk together arm in arm - that is how Harald walked with you. In the middle of the conversation about our church, our city, our mayor, and our dreams for the ministry, Harald cried out with a loud voice- right there on the city street, "OH GOD!..." and preceeded to pray a beautiful prayer for us. Of course, those of you who knew Harald, know that you could not have a conversation with him without an interruption. It was always Harald interrupting God with praise and prayer.
___________

I began pastoring in 1985. The small church in Carlsbad, CA met in a park and recreation community center. I had never considered that someone of Harald's fame, with the busy schedule he carried would have time for a young upstart like me, but I thought that it couldn't hurt to ask if he could come a speak to our little group. He said yes. We were thrilled, and we learned one of those things about Harald during that service which we would see again over the years. Even if he told a dumb joke - everyone would laugh. You see Harald always laughed at his own jokes, and his funny laugh was enough to make a crowd laugh.
___________


Original Post in Honor of Harald Bredesen follows



I just received a call from Steve Maddox from Oasis Bridge in Oceanside, CA. Within the last hour Harald Bredesen passed away. You can read more about the situation here.

I met Harald for the first time, when I was helping run a drug and alcohol rehab program in Lake Wohlford, CA over 20 years ago. I was amazed at his gentle, yet bold demeanor, and his unbelievably childlike behavior. Over the years he has come in and out of our lives, and was one of our defenders during the time we were falsely accused. I was honored to know him personally.

I regularly refer to Harald as the greatest example I know of someone living in childlike simple faith. He was considered a primary leader in the charismatic movement. This man with a brilliant mind, and a simple faith sat with kings, presidents, and world leaders throughout his life.

He lived a full life, but nonetheless we have lost someone I consider a great saint today. Please pray for his family.

PRESS RELEASE:

Date: December 29, 2006

The Reverend Harald Bredesen, often called the father of the Charismatic Movement whose adherents now number in the hundreds of millions, died today at Palomar Hospital in Escondido, California. He died peacefully from injuries suffered in a fall on December 26. He was 88.

In his introduction to Harald’s book, Yes, Lord, entertainer Pat Boone wrote, "Abraham . . . Moses . . . Gideon . . . Elijah . . . I think I've known a man like these. His name is Harald Bredesen. Miracles trail him wherever he goes."

Pat Robertson called his ministry to world leaders “legendary.”

Bredesen was the founder of the Prince of Peace Prize, given to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1980, Mother Teresa in 1989, posthumously to King Hussein of Jordan (with King Abdullah receiving in his father’s stead) in 1999, and to Billy Graham in 2004. Sadat called the occasion he received the award “the high point of my entire life, more important to me even than the Nobel Peace Prize. That was in the political arena. This was spiritual.”

A Lutheran minister, Bredesen became the first ordained clergyman from a mainline denomination to receive the Pentecostal experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, openly tell of his experience, and keep his ordination and credentials in a mainline denomination. In a letter to the editor of Eternity Magazine, Harald Bredesen and Jean Stone Willans coined the term “Charismatic Renewal.”

In the late-1950s, he introduced Pat Robertson to the experience. Robertson went on to found the Christian Broadcasting Network where Harald was a founding board member. In Pat Robertson: A Personal, Political, and Religious Portrait, historian David Harrell wrote, “In the long run it was a chance encounter with Harald Bredesen that had the most far-reaching effect on the life and career of Pat Robertson.”

In his book, Reagan Inside/Out, Bob Slosser called Bredesen, “minister to world leaders.” In that role he touched the lives of many of the most influential figures of his time. A call to prayer that Harald wrote and proposed to his friend Anwar Sadat, was cabled by Sadat, Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin to leaders around the world on the eve of the Camp David summit. According to pundits at the time, few summits began with so little going for them. Thirteen days later, President Carter announced the breakthrough by saying, “We began this summit with a call to prayer. The results have exceeded the expectations of any reasonable person. I am a Christian. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’”

Fresh out of seminary, Bredesen went to work for the World Council of Churches as the Public Relations Secretary for the World Council of Christian Education. In that role he solicited and received the support of President Harry Truman, King George VI, Queen Wilhelmina, King Haakon, King Gustav V, King Christian X, Generalisimo Chiang Kai Shek, Henry Ford, Herbert Hoover, Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, and Harvey Firestone, Jr.

Despite his success, Harald felt something missing in his life and walk with God. In 1946, he went to a Pentecostal camp meeting where he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

He met and married Genevieve Corrick in 1954.

In 1957, he was called to pastor the historic First Reformed Church of Mount Vernon, New York and soon invited Robertson to join him as Assistant Pastor. Together with others who had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Harald and Pat hosted Pentecostal style meetings in the old church during off hours. At one of those meetings, they felt the Lord wanted them to go public with their experiences.

The next day, Harald, Pat, and their friend, Dick Simmons, received an invitation to meet with Norman Vincent Peale’s wife, Ruth Stafford Peale, to discuss the topic with her. She went from that meeting to a board meeting at Guideposts Magazine where she spoke with the young writer, John Sherrill. His investigation led to his best seller, They Speak With Other Tongues. Harald introduced John to the young street preacher, David Wilkerson, who, with John, wrote The Cross and the Switchblade, one of the best selling books of all time. (Some sources place the number of copies in print at over fifty million.)

Father Francis McNutt and others credited these two books with sparking the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church now estimated to number over 120 million in over 230 countries. Statistics on the number of Charismatic Protestants are difficult to find, but it is clearly one of the most important religious movements of the last half century.

In its report on the Charismatic movement on the campus at Yale, Time magazine called the students who received glossolalia (tongues), “GlossalYalies.” It went on to say, “They date their experience to two campus visits by the Reverent Harald Bredesen.” The Saturday Evening Post dubbed him “Charismatic envoy to the campuses.” Encyclopedia Britannica’s first article on the Charismatic movement featured a photograph of Harald.

Bredesen hosted the long running Christian Broadcasting Network television program, “Charisma.” He authored the books Yes, Lord and Need A Miracle?, the CD “Toolkit for Eternity: A Walk with Harald Bredesen,” and the video, “How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

He is survived by his wife, Genevieve; his children, Dagni, Margaret, Christopher, and David; and five grandchildren.

Information regarding memorial services will be given later.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Nicked Last Night - In the Nick of Time


Faithless
Originally uploaded by bubba trout.
Lectio Divina scripture meditation happens every Thursday in our church. Jeff is usually our guide through the meditations. Last night was a smaller group than usual, but was one of the more remarkable nights recently.

Stef shared a personal story of God's deep and simple communication to her, which was life changing. It was such an impacting story that it caused the group to start the meditations about 40 minutes late, and to shorten our meditation time.

Jeff always reads out of The Message, so I can seldom remember the passages he reads. I do remember these words on the first short verse we considered, "He will help you in the nick of time." There was more to the passage, but that is the part I remember, because I considered those words, "in the nick of time."

When someone has had a couple years of serious trouble, it can be difficult to consider that God has come through in the nick of time.

I know that Stef's wonderful confession, and story of deliverance was a set up for bringing us all to a deeper point of openness. I did not see it coming toward me like it did.

I thought of our attempt to try and purchase a big infamous "black house" as an investment, only to discover that it had title problems at the last minute. We lost money on the attempted deal, and if ever I thought God might come through in the nick of time, I discovered I lost money and lots of wasted hard work instead. Where was God in the nick of time?

I thought of when our greyhound Annie was hit by a car ten feet in front of me while I was walking her. She died in the street while I knelt beside her. Where was God in the nick of time?

I spent well over six months defending my reputation, and our ministry against false accusations of heresy from a leader in our denomination. Time after time when I felt that God would vindicate us I discovered instead that I was ignored by those who had the authority to reverse the lies. In the end I was removed from our denomination after twenty years of service, and when I trusted God to speak to the leaders in the denomination, and vindicate our good name, I had to ask, "Where was God in the nick of time?"

When my son came down with a serious kidney disease, which still is life threatening, and is potentially demanding a kidney transplant for a 21 year old, I had to ask, "Where was God in the nick of time?"

When it was Halloween morning, and Forrest, one of our two newest greyhounds escaped the yard, because a friend left the gate open. I drove the nieghborhood trusting that my God would deliver him from death and injury on the road. I found him fifteen minutes later. He was hit by a car, and suffered sever injuries - losing one leg, nearly dying of liver failure from the trauma, and needing surgery on his remaining back leg. I asked, "Where was God in the nick of time."

I could only form my simple meditative prayer after five minutes considering this passage by saying, "Lord our family has suffered great difficulty in the last two years. I have felt as though you were not there in the nick of time. Please help to understand that it is still true that you come through in the nick of time."

Pastors probably aren't supposed to pray such confessions before their parishoners. Well at least not in the denomination I came from. But then again, I'm not like them anymore. I suppose I got out in the nick of time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Me? a Martin Luther?

So I took this test, and the results tell me that I am most like Martin Luther in my Theology. I don't know about that. I think this test was skewed toward reformed theology, and Western white guys like myself, except I may not think completely like these Reformed Western White guys like myself. Anyway - Martin Luther and I - Cool!

We have some unique similarities. We were both born on November 10th, we both have been excommunicated for being heretics, and we both have done some big things on Halloween which got us trouble, (Although I think the Wittenburg Door deal was way bigger than anything I've done.)

I think that my favorite part of this is that Augustine scored so low on my chart. Woo-hoo!

So here are my test results:


You scored as Martin Luther. The daddy of the Reformation. You are opposed to any Catholic ideas of works-salvation and see the scriptures as being primarily authoritative.

Martin Luther

93%

Karl Barth

73%

Anselm

67%

John Calvin

60%

J├╝rgen Moltmann

53%

Charles Finney

53%

Paul Tillich

53%

Jonathan Edwards

47%

Friedrich Schleiermacher

47%

Augustine

33%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Down, Up, Down, Up, Down, and Up Again - Please?


In a two year season of many difficult downs, I am grateful for every little up. Is it personal deception to see positive things when so many problems are swirling around? Perhaps it is a something somebody has slipped into my morning Odwalla Juice. Or maybe it is a mental illness.

Whether it is healthy to be positive or not, I am thankful for experiencing little moments of happiness, and seeing little things that bring me joy.

Things that made me happy these last couple weeks.

Caroling tonight in Jeff, and Diane's neighborhood, and not being the only instrument playing. I was able to bring my mandolin, because there were two guitar players, and Carl on his acoustic Bass. Frank joined us. He's not part of our church, but he was a competant guitar player, and a ham - Yeah Frank!

Reading Matt Stone's Blog a couple weeks ago on Chaser's War on Television Evangelists. Now that was funny!

Our Thursday Evening Lectio Divina scripture meditation was fun for me. I usually get cerebral, but this week I only experienced joy. I meditated on some passage which I can only paritally remember, because Jeff uses The Message when he does his reading. I think it said something simple like, "He kept His hand on me." The thought made me happy, and I just repeated it to myself for five minutes. This was NOT a vain repetition. It had meaning.

My buddy Shah Afshar e-mailed, and I was happy to see his name come up on the screen.

I walked outside at 9:30 at night in my short sleeve shirt on December 15th, and I was quite comfortable. That's really weird for December in Salem, Massachusetts.

A group of us danced to some rippin' Bluegrass music from Laurel Grove on Friday Night, and a neighbor of ours was at the show. Adeel showed us all off. He is Muslim, and from the middle east, and he was spinning, and kickin' his heels up like a mad dancing cleric. He and I had a great talk, and I expect him back to the church sometime, but what made me happy was that he was kickin' up his mad cleric heels to a bluegrass jam.

Forrest gets happy if I am away for a little while, and return home. He wags that long tail connected to that little butt which has one less leg attached to it. Forrest makes me happy because he's a survivor in the highest degree. He's a happy lanky greyhound with just three legs, and a bad haircut which a doctor who does amputations gives. I can not express how happy that makes me. It is even worth the astronomical Vet bill.

So, those are some of my little happy things this month. I think that I am mad.

I am not a Garbage Can!


garbage cans
Originally uploaded by gojumeister.
No, I don't want to sit and talk. Not right now. Maybe not for quite awhile. Okay I know you feel like you need someone to listen to you, but I can not listen right now.

This is what I want to say, - but do I? No. Why? Because people will not accept that answer. I've tried it a couple times recently, and I have not had success - they seem to either forget an hour, or a day later, or they become frustrated as though their relief from stress is more important than mine. They find relief by talking to me. It doesn't matter that I find incredible stress in the same moment.

I am not usually like this, but the last few weeks have been drainers, and there have been a few conversations which includes someone dumping their personal struggles, or emotional tensions on me which feel just like that - like they are dumping it on me. I can't say I've had this sensation before. I don't like it. I feel as though I can't handle any more trash. I am not a garbage can. How is it I came to feel like a big smelly one?

I am sure I'll feel fine tomorrow, but it takes less garbage to fill to can these days. What garbage is in me which is taking up room I should have for others struggles? Maybe I have been a garbage can, and I haven't realized it all this time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's a bird. It's a plane! It's a frog. A Frog? No...


American heros are often come from behind, you were given no chance to make it type of characters. Well that used to be the case, but it seems that the romanticism of overcoming all odds to make it is being replaced by trash talking sports stars, cocky musicians, and mean spirited businessmen who like to fire people.

I suppose I am old fashioned in this respect. I still like the underdog, and I am hoping that underdogs still have a chance to make it in today's world.

My three-legged buddy Forrest is coming along just fine, and so it looks like we'll have a real superhero dog in the house.

I am sure that part of the process of moving from tragedy to triumph is believing that there is a God who likes underdogs too. Perhaps its time for some of us to start purchasing cool Underdog paraphenalia.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's a Miracle! I Had a Good Time with a Christian Leader!

Bev and I had a good time with a Christian leader on Saturday. Wow. That was really a unique experience. Since over a year ago when we were tied to the stake and burned by leaders we thought were friends (maybe not close friends, but friends nonetheless) we have discovered that posturing for position, brown-nosing, backstabbing, superstition, fear, prejudice, and who knows how many other evil things lurk in the heart of Christian leadership.

Shut up! I know those evil things are found in me too. But you're not allowed to point that out. So let me get back to trashing other leaders.

I guess I have to admit that what it is I really have a distaste for is three things: 1) Christians leaders who act like Christians - know what I mean? Of course, we can be pretentious no matter what culture we take on. Check out a good example of this at Out of Fellowship.com. Am I the pretentious Mac guy, instead of the pretentious PC guy? 2) Christian leaders who are indeed brown-nosers attempting to climb the Christian corporate ladder. Yep, they are out there, and I've met them. and, 3) Narrow Christians who define their version of Christianity by a few doctrinal or ethical standards.

So back to the point. Bev and I met with John Paul and Diane Jackson on Saturday for lunch. They were real people. They did not use silly Christian lingo. They did not posture to be someone important (even though they kinda are), and they had a wonderfully open view of how God is touching people today.

It was an encouraging time for Bev and I - maybe healing. This was not the first Christian leader I've had a good time with in the last year, but the number of meetings with other Christians which have been encouraging have been substantially fewer than those which were encouraging.

So here's to the John Pauls: people like ,Steve, Steve, Jobey, Miriam, Scott, Ken, Jeff, and James.

There are piles more besides, but not enough of you live nearby.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Apathetic? Me?

I still have to keep a watch on Forrest, and so I spend more hours at home than ever before. I will probably have three more weeks of this dog nursing task during the days. This is quite frustrating, but I suppose it should give me opportunity to do some things I might not regularly get to.

Jeff and Ken want me to get a book together since it appears that I will need to hit the road soon. Yep, I can get to work on that. I already have so much material it ought to be easy to piece a book together.

I need to get my first trip out to Southern California organized. That should be fun to do, and motivating.

I have done some things to organize these blogs better. That was good. Right?

I find that motivation is difficult. It comes in spurts. Then it fades to black.

Is apathy a result of abuse? I know that stress can cause me to want to run, but this isn't running. I'm not going anywhere, or avoiding anything. I'm just at home doing the dog nursing thing, and trying to get things done which I can do from home.

Discovering what to do next is a tough task in itself. Some of this is easily recognizable as the result of being in new circumstances. I am in need of doing things I have never done before. Yet, some of this struggle comes from the last year of treachery. Could it be that the way we do church, and practice our leadership in Christianity today actually may increase the apathy we preach against?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hey I Must Be Famous Now!

Well, I suppose infamous is really the better description, but hey John Smulo asked me to do an interview for his blog, and so you can find me being blogged about, and blogging on another site. Please check out John's cool blog, and put your two-cents in on a reply. Oh, and please reply here, and let me know you did so too. I get really happy when I know someone actually read my blog.

So go here to John's Blog;

John Talking about Phil Which makes Phil Feel Good about Himself.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Total Silence, Complete Dark

I like total silence. Early in the morning I like it best. No distant cars with their gently purring engines, and the swish of tires on the roadway. No hum of computers, or appliances singing through the house. No birds chirping, or voices whispering. Total silence.

To find this soundless universe I sometimes just cover my ears, but even here the sounds of my own breathing, occasionally the beating of my own heart, and the movement of my hands against the cartilage of my ears invade the noiseless universe; but these self generated sounds at least give the sense that I am alone.

I realize that evangelists and theologians have theorized that man's lonliness is one of the factors drawing the human heart towards God. This sense of lonliness in the universe is a cause for anxiety, and creates my deeper search for meaning I am told. Yet somehow I am drawn toward the silence. In a portion of every day I just want to be alone.

"Alone with God?" you ask.

No, just alone.

Perhaps this is a mild version of Job's regret that he was ever born. Maybe it is just my brief encounter with running away without having to go anywhere.

Avoidance is a major characteristic of my seasons of stress. I wonder how many people like me cover their ears just to hear the silence? If you do this go ahead and leave me a comment so that I will know that I am not alone in my little universe of loneness. Darn....there goes my theory that I really want to be totally alone.


I like complete dark too. Sometimes when my eyes are tired late at night, and bedroom still has enough light to give that gentle glow through my closed eyelids which tells me that the deep night has not come to its fullness, I cover my eyes with my hands. My eyes relax with relief in this lightless universe I create. No pinpoints of light coming through my fingers like the night stars. No barely perceptible glow like distant cities on the horizon. No deep grays, browns, or blues. I wait for the impressions of color upon my retina leaving their subtle watermark in my vision to fade away. Total dark.

Perhaps like silence, I've never met the complete dark. I visited the mighty Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, and while beneath the earth, the lights were turned off for a minute to experience complete darkness. I could not see my hands in front of my face. Was this really complete darkness, or is there something darker?

Christianity does not generally gravitate toward darkness. We compare light and darkness with truth and lies. We speak of the spirit of darkness, and the children of darkness, and contrast that to ourselves being the children of light. I realize that darkness is not a popular subject among Christian leaders through the ages. But I like the darkness.

You ask, "Are you drawing near to God in the thick darkness as Moses did?"

No, just plain darkness is what I am looking for.

Perhaps at some point I've just seen enough. Maybe this is my way of saying that I've had enough of searching for answers why, and receiving information which only deepens the mystery; and enough of seeing blessings which do not appear to match the depth of misery experienced in this world.

Perhaps this too is my brief encounter with running away at the end of the day. Do I have a gentle deathwish prodding me toward the dark and final sleep? Theologians and Psychologists say I have an innate fear of the dark sleep of death. Yet I love complete dark.

Avoidance fills my senses I suppose. I just like to be alone. Seeing no one smile. Seeing no one cry. Does anyone else cover their eyes to block out the gentle glow of light at night? Does anyone else like complete dark and search for it before sleep? If you like to be completely alone occasionally, leave a comment. Perhaps there is a twilight zone episode we can create together.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Manic Joys of Stressful Seasons

So we are now into our fourth week of watching Forrest 24 hours a day. He was hit by a car on Halloween morning, had to have a leg amputated, and had surgery on his other back leg. For the first week, his liver almost failed, and he was on his deathbed, then on the second week, he snapped out of it, and became his same old silly self.

After he came home, with the price tag of a new car, I have watched him for most of the 24 hours each day. He had to have a second surgery on his one back leg because the sutures didn't stay after the first day of recovery. So now he has a bigger cast, and it has a rounded bottom, which makes him shakey on it. Every time he goes out, we need to keep him on a sling to keep him from bouncing too hard on his back leg. So each time he stirs in the night, I am up to see how he is doing. Since Forrest has always stirred a lot at night - so do I.

Tonight April came to visit. April was the first person to help Forrest when he was hit by a car. Somehow he got up with his seriously mangled leg, and hopped to her. She was two cars behind the car which hit Forrest. She drives a trash truck, and stopped to help him. She held him, and used her hand to stop the bleeding until I arrived on the scene. She probably saved his life. In all the furious action to get Forrest to the Vet Hospital, we never actually met April, nor did we hear the story until tonight. Somehow she tracked him down at the Vet, and then found us, and wanted to come visit him.

In the midst of a series of stresses, and tragedies over the last year, meeting April seemed to bring joy to the house.

Of course, I question myself and wonder: Will the joy last for an evening, and dissipate quickly to the bland feeling which comes with discouragement? or will it prove to be one of those steps up toward normality?" (Perhaps I should have used the word normalcy, because normalcy wasn't a word until a President used it in a speech, and as we know normal doesn't exist.) Is this just the manic up of a bi-polar swing?

Over the last three weeks I have slept few hours each night working my doggy-nursing position. I am sure sleep deprivation, added to stress helps create a sense of having bi-polar disorder. Dog accidents, sickness in the family, financial stress, and naughty Christian leaders can help create stress which leads to sleep deprivation - we know here at 7 Upham Street.

I saw Elijah go from slow to happy yesterday as well. He was feeling terrible - which is common as his kidneys are failing, but he found out that it was primarily because his blood pressure was so low. That means that he had to stop taking one of his meds which is supposed to bring his blood pressure down. That was something like mildly good news, so he was happier when he came home from his Nephrologist visit. Up, down, up, down we go in this house lately.

I've never been bi-polar, although I've experienced the swings from mania to depression which mark its presence over this season of stress. I am hoping that mania, and depression are fading away into the stability of simple joy. April's visit may be a simple return to joy, but perhaps it is a mild manic swing. I'll let you know. But right now, we're smiling here at 7 Upham Street, and we are not even taking any happy meds.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Home Brew Gone Bad? gauging persecution, isolation, and a Martyr's Complex

This being my personal blog which releases the serial deconstructionist in me back upon myself it only seems right to consider whether my highbrow ideas about church life, and the state of Christianity are really just some sick Messiah Complex.

Okay my ideas about churchlife may not really be highbrow. They may actually be quite common, simple, and more like an home-brewed ale, than a expensive wine matched with the first course of a seven course meal, but that does not relieve me from the possiblility of acting all highbrow and know-it-all about my self-appointed important ideas.

Now I know a few people with Messiah Complexes. Most of them tend to have a Martyr Complex as well. Could it be that somewhere their good ideas were rejected, that they received a little abuse - perhaps even a lot of abuse? Could it be that good ideas ignored ferment, and build pressure until they bust out in a more aggressive expression? If left to ferment too long, is it possible for the expression to be more violent than it needs to be - self important, and perhaps over bitter like a bad home brew?

The Messiah Complex people I know are pastors, alcoholics, businessman, unemployed laborers, lawyers, high school dropouts, soccer moms, and society's disenfranchised. They do not fit a specific demographic, but they do all have ideas which carry some sense of urgency, and they view their ideas as under-utilized, and ignored.

Of course, I am not sure how one personally discovers whether their ideas are revolutionary or simply insane. I am not sure that Martin Luther felt any different about his ideas than Rasputin, DeTorquemada, or the countless mad monks who have filled the hills of history.

I do know this: I need to be careful about how I think about what I think. I am convinced that church as usual is not the way to go. Having been on the receiving end of abuse in denominational activity, I am convinced that something needs to change in the circles I had a part of over the last twenty years. I have seen the hypocrisy of the people who speak in the name of unity, and carry the small knife which gets buried deep in the back. I have seen Christian leaders nod in approval to ideas which I have presented, only to have them turn and treat those same ideas as heretical spewings.

Yet I have to ask myself, "What is the difference between good ideas gone bad, and truly revolutionary thinking?"

I am sure that I have had enough persecution, and general trouble, with a small degree of isolation (especially now while I help lil' ol' Forrest to recover) to allow the Martyr's Complex to ferment in my heart, and even develop to the Messiah Complex. Yet I am hopeful that in questioning this I am knocking myself back to a humble position, and avoiding thinking more of myself than I ought to. Perhaps this will allow the yeast of my thinking to controllably ferment.

Jesus was a Rebel, and so must I be. Yet his home-brew has lasted for centuries. It has not gone bitter. It still fills the heart with laughter and joy. I am not sure I have His recipe, or his skills in my batch.

Lord, help my revolutionary thoughts to brew a fine deep red ale, and not a nasty little home brew no one else can stomach.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Feeling Like Fumi: The Struggle of What to do with our Troubles

Is it sane to think that the troubles we go through may actually help someone somewhere sometime? I hope so. Paul says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

So perhaps feeling a bit like Fumi is okay. So click on the link, and watch this cool short animation.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tension and Excitment: The Revolution Starts Now?

Today I received a letter from the old Denominational gang. We sent a letter asking for them to reevaluate their previous decisions, and look fairly at all the evidence - which they previously neglected to do. Their letter said in business like terms, 'we will review this request.'

Meanwhile back on the blogfarm, I have been listening to a song repeatedly, like a four year old. The song is "The Revolution Starts Now" by Steve Earle. In fact, I will pause for a moment to light up my iTunes, and play it while I type.

"buh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh...I was walking down the street, in the town where I was born..."

Okay I'm back - kind of.

"The revolution starts here..."

I was nervous to open the letter, because we've been through Hell in the last year. The Wall Street Journal did not have the space to even touch the depth of our tension, and struggle. But after reading the short, (terse perhaps?) response from a denominational VP, I began to get excited as the day progressed.

Pause again - I've been typing slowly, because I was singing along with Steve, and now like the four year old, I must restart the song. Tom Petty is cool, but not revolutionary enough for the moment.

"buh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh..."

"I was moving to the beat, that I never felt before..."

Okay, I'm back again.

Is this some weird form of mental disease, or was I born for revolutionary activity? Do I enjoy pain, or is my sense of adventure overheightened by a love for adrenaline? I should be mad, sad, or tense that this might start up again, but for some reason I am feeling excitement. What's up with that?.

"Yeah, the revolution starts now - in your own backyard, in your own home town...."

That's it. I can't type anymore, but I can replay the song a third time.


"buh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh...I was walking down the street, in the town where I was born. I was moving to the beat, that I never felt before. So I opened up my eyes, and I took a look around. I saw it written 'cross the sky, 'The Revolution starts now.'"

By the way - Forrest is home, and appears to be coming along as a three-legged Greyhound. What a tough little guy. He's my inspiration.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tragedy and Twitching

My buddy Forrest got out of the gate on Halloween morning. Some one left it open, and I did not see that the gate was not latched. He got hit by a car on North Street, and now he is in doggy intensive care.

He had one leg amputated, and another had some surgery. After all this work, we are not sure he is going to make it. So we spend a few hours each day sitting with him in the vet clinic.

This is the second dog in as many years to be hit by a car. Annie was killed right in front of me a little over two years ago.

When Annie died on the street as I knelt in front of her, I could not sleep for three days. Each time my eyes shut, and I began to fade off, the scene suddenly replayed in my mental vision so clearly that it seemed real, and I startled suddenly awake. Sometimes still I remember that event and I will quickly blink, or perhaps even jerk mildly.

This must be a mild version of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or perhaps even Tourette Syndrome.

Forrest's recent tragedy has caused this response to increase a bit.

Bev and I have been crying periodically throughout the day, and are perhaps a little distant to our friends. I suppose that comes with the emotional, and financial stress of seasons like this.

I am twitching less over the treachery by my Christian brethren last year. I am sure that Suzanne Sataline and The Wall Street Journal Article about "Befriending Witches Still a Problem in Salem" was instrumental in helping that twitch, but now I have an old twitch renewed by a recent tragedy.

I hope that in Heaven there will be no more twitches, just as there will be no more tears.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Big Talk Time

Me think me should bring peace pipe.

Tonight we will sit down with someone, and talk about our story. It may turn out to be an important discussion for us. Bev and I, and then later Jeff and Diane (we're the troop which sat before the District Council last year - actually tomorrow it will be exactly one year) will discuss our story.

Hopefully this will be like sending a smoke signal, rather than us just blowing a lot of smoke. I'd prefer to communicate to people at a far distance, rather than sit and spew the remnants of our confusion. So a peace pipe might be in order.

The gentle communication of reconciliation had been our method throughout, and we expected other Christians Leaders to do the same. Apparently not all Christian Leaders act like Christians. Truth has been our goal, and apparently that too is a commodity of rare value in some Christian Leadership circles.

Well perhaps our goal will be realized soon, and truth will puff across the skies like the smoke signal on a distant hill.

A couple weeks ago four of us sat in my office, and considered tonight's discussion. The opinions differed on what to do until our buddy Jeff Gentry from Sinners and Saints made the comment, "The church has nothing to lose from the truth."

Me break out peace pipe and puff big tonight.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Today is My Anniversary!

I was married to Bev, April 2nd, 1983. So that's not the day I'm talking about. My birthday isn't for another month. So, that's not the day either.

Some dates are impressed upon one's brain indelibly. Those dates are either wonderful, or terrible. Sometimes we may need to refer to that date in documents so frequently, that it becomes etched upon the gray matter. October 12th was both terrible, and in need of being referred to in documents for months following.

This blog had its inception because of the events of October 12th, 2005.

Today I mentioned to someone that this was the anniversary day of the letter I received calling me to a hearing which eventually removed me from fellowship in a denomination over false, and exaggerated charges. The letter was a surprise, and was not sent to me alone, but to many others simultaneously, and without warning, or prior questioning. So, this day lives in personal infamy.

She said, "Oh Wow, the Anniversary. My sympathies."

I responded, "Sympathies or congratulations - we are still trying to decide which."

I'm not sure if that response was funny, or sad, or both. I wonder if there is something wrong with not knowing if something is funny, or sad? Is that some sign of arrested emotional development?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Know This isn't Eustress

I read Hans Selye's classic book "The Stress of Life" some years ago, and was caught by the term "eustress" - no rocket science needed to define the term. Good-stress could be harmful in high doses Hans submitted, just as bad stress can.

Halloween has been a season of eustress for me each year. It is filled with tension, and surprises. It has more work involved with it than I should handle. This is true not only for myself, but the poor people who are a part of our church. They follow me faithfully into the night just beyond the Autumnal equinox.

We will run the 10th annual Halloween Children's Day. We will host about 50 people who come from far away to minister on the streets of Salem. We will sponsor about 40 hours of live outdoor music, and give away 8,000 cups of hot cocoa. People will be fed, dreams will be interpreted, movies will be shown, people will be blessed, and we will be over-worked.

These events have been a great joy, and a beautiful experience over the last 7 years.

This year I am not sure that I am feeling the eu- part of the stress. Somewhere in the last year the joy of serving was temporarily robbed, and is returning only slowly.

Is it possible that I am feeling what a person who seems to hate every moment of existence feels? Am I feeling the sensations of a permanent state of dissatisfaction? I have observed people who have acted this way, but I have not experienced permanent antagonism toward life myself - at least not until this year.

Even the things which I typically find joyous have been difficult to accomplish. They come with a sense of dread, weariness, or disinterest. Every now and then, the old joys surface, and with them come the excitement of the need for flexibility, and spontanaiety which is part of Halloween in Salem, MA. Although I am sure this season will deliver me from the doldrums, I am still struggling with loss of the eu- on this season's stress.

In two days it will be anniversary of the greatest treachery I have experienced from the hand of any leader in church life. I think to myself, "Get over it Wyman." This silly event shouldn't bother you so much, and yet I feel in my belly, and discover in my head that I carry the dissatisfaction with life which I have seen in others who somehow have been stricken with a similar affliction.

My affliction is light, but I write about it to chronicle a sickness which may well be spread through oppression, lies, and hypocrisy in people holding leadership in religious circles.

Oppressors steal eu- from seasons of stress, and perhaps from life itself.

So I wonder - whatever happened to Jesus' promise? You know, "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." Shouldn't that be the experience of serving God? It sounds as though He knew how to keep the eu- in His stress, and has a few lessons to teach me still.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Of Fingernails, Postage, and Short Tasks Made Long

Today I folded some letters, put them into their #10 envelopes, addressed the envelopes which I had believed would take far too long to find the addresses for, placed the 39¢ stamp in the top right-hand corner, and nervously scraped my fingernails with my thumbnail.

The letters had been written for quite some time. I had to hold on to them, because I was told it was wise to wait until a proper time. It is near, or at the proper time now.

Placing the postage on the letter was the strangest of moments in this activity. The postage made the act feel irretrievable. Of course, I could waste the handful of 39¢ little stickies, but that would not sit well with me. Consequently I scraped my fingernails with my thumbnail. It's an action I nervously perform. I take the thumbnail of one hand, and scrape the underneath side of the fingernails on the opposite hand as if I was cleaning them. Sometimes I guess I really am, but often I am just habitually acting, and often nervously so. The latter is what occured today.

I was writing to people who had been my source of struggle for almost a year, and doing so in a manner our church council had decided was good some months back. Yet I needed to wait until a certain time. That time is near, maybe now. So, the letters (except for just a few) are ready to pony up, and head west.

It took me far more time thinking of this action, than performing it. I dreaded hunting down addresses, and envisioned searching for days. It actually took about an hour.

What strange mental disease creates such distortion in my time anticipator? and why do postage stamps make me revert to a bad habit of fingernail scraping?

The tension of communicating with people who had been my source of stress for almost a year was the reason for this twisted emotional moment of time warp, and quirky habits.


...meanwhile my home team is choking in the Playoffs, but still you gotta love them Pads.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What Emotions Do I Still Have Left?

Darn. Four bad things happened today. Not disasters. Disasters happened some time ago. These were just small items.

The first was a simple mention by a friend that I looked drained, and without motivation. I was trying to figure out what he was talking about, and I wasn't quite sure if I became drained feeling because the suggestion magically overcame me, or if I just suddenly realized that I was drained feeling.

The second thing was that I went shopping after a day of working, but not feeling as though I actually accomplished anything. I did not shop for me, but I shopped with my "goode wife." (One must use such words in Salem during October.) We shopped for some needed items to make a few changes in our house - our house which has ever increasing numbers of people living in it. Currently five, soon to be six - and we have but one son, and he was moved out on his own until this last weekend. We are happy to have he and his "goode wife" in the house with us, but the dynamics are a changing around me. So our shopping was centered on making a few house changes. Now it wasn't the people in the house, but the fact that Linen's 'n' Things was followed up by Target that nearly killed me. I could have melted into the linoleum floors of Target by the time we were finished.

Then the hot water feed to the upstairs bathroom sink was leaking. Good thing my son found it leaking, and shut off the valves. Good thing again that my "goode wife" found that the valve was not quite turned tight enough, and it was leaking more. Bad thing that it happened, and that it had gone on for a good amount of the day. I am frustrated to think that we have a few old house problems - a new roof on the back room which leaks worse than before it was fixed, a recently fixed leak in the upstairs bathroom which may actually be unfixed, and now this leak today which I hope has not ruined the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom.

So problem #4 - me. I was really upset when questioned about how things are going in preparation for Children's Day, and other the Halloween stuff. I am way too far behind this year, for way too many reasons, but I just don't need to be reminded, and so it makes me upset, unless someone has a solution for me.

Was I so upset because I am already having so many things going wrong? or was I upset because this whole year has been filled with enough treachery to leave me tense, edgy and feeling beat down? Maybe it was because I feel so pressed on every side by the needs which are mounting around me. Actually I wonder if I was upset because I really don't have too many other emotions left in my system after two years of having my emotions jerked around so violently.

I am tired of writing about these feelings, but this blog is an experimental concept of monitoring how my emotions, and thoughts have been effected by the abusive treatment of church leadership. I suppose like the person walking through the grief cycle I must complete the task of journaling, and thinking through this. Could it be that many emotions which have been a part of my life previously are currently deadened, or at least numbed, and that anger is the only quick emotion to rise to the surface?

When other people contract colds or flues, I usually hold them off for a long period. Unfortunately, when I do succumb to the sickness, I often keep its symptoms longer than other people who contracted it earlier. Am I doing the same with my emotions as well? Will this last longer than it should, because I held it off for so long?

Darn. I hope not. Four bad things happened today, and they were really rather little things. Will four little things happen every day which will upset me like today? It's quite possible, but I know that if I can find some emotions other than anger, those four things won't seem so large.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Always Sleepy, Never Sleeping

Ever the insomniac am I.

It is now early in the AM. If I precede my nouns and pronouns with my verbs I will feel wise like Yoda, or better yet, I will feel as though the Welsh language has finally become the normalized pattern of thought in my brain. Like that would I.

Being so late/early I must get to the point. I am having a hard time sleeping. This is common coming into October, because I am so busy in October, and in September I am remembering things I should have done as far back as May. This year it is more like that than ever. Sleepy am I, but sleepless am I.

I have been more sleepless this year than any year in my life. I have also been sleepier than at any other time. Of course the two go together. I look forward to a time when there is no sleep. Most of the time I really don't enjoy sleeping. Maybe heaven is a sleepless place where people are never tired - like God Who never slumbers. Would be cool that.

Considering that this has been a sleepless year for me, I wonder how many Christians have lived sleeplessly due to the way they have been treated by Christian leaders. I wonder if I have done that to others often. It might be acceptable to create sleeplessness in someone, if they are awake because they are struggling with positive change, or excited about new possibilities in their lives, but if they are awake because of stress I have created - is bad that.

Christianity ought to be the place of rest. You know the "take my yoke upon you, and learn of me" kind of rest.

I guess this year the yoke was on me. Sorry - bad old pun was that. Is late now. Am tired now. Try sleep now will I. Am not wise yet. Write better when not tired will I.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When Pastors Hate Going to Church, and When Swords Heal

"I hate the church, but I love Jesus." I can not tell you how many times people have said these words to me. There are a few people in our church who feel that way. They have been coming for quite some time. I guess our church isn't a very good church, because they like us.

A friend of mine who works in a denominational headquarters said today that once he left (which he hopes is soon) he will not have anything to do with "the church" ever again, but he will do his thing with his wife and God, and a small group at their house.

I have met many pastors who have been burned by churches and denominations, and did not want to return to church life ever again. Some have overcome this struggle, and others have not. Today another friend is struggling with this same problem.

I have felt like this periodically in the last year. Sunday morning arrives. I get ready to "go to church." (I hate the phrase "go to church" - it reminds me that we don't know what church is yet.) Then I get a nervous feeling which I haven't felt in years. It has come upon me only when things have been at their worst in the church, but things in the church are great, and I love everything that is happening, and everyone in the church. So what's wrong?

I know what's wrong. This feeling is not connected to the local church itself, but to denomination I was once a part of. A little abuse can go a long way, and the emotions created by abuse have the half life of Bismuth.

I want to go - I don't want to go - I want to go - I don't want to go.... I'm as confused as a kindergartener getting on the bus for the first time.

Sunday night we had a party. It was mostly a surprise to me, and some of you reading this were there. Thanks. I think that I grew up a few grades, and I will not be getting on the bus for the first time anymore.

I was given a sword on Sunday night - a big sword. Big swords are filled with testosterone, and now I feel like a man, not like the little kindergartener - at least for now.

I'll carry my sword to church next Sunday, and let you know how I feel then.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Man Named Phil?

Rose Wolf has been bringing me books. Rose has a Doctorate in Fantasy Literature, and is a walking encyclopedia of memorized poetry, and literature knowledge. She calls herself a Wiccan-Christian, and believes that the old ways point to Jesus.

When I mention something I am interested in, Rose finds wonderful used books at great prices, and gives them to me. I may have to call the library we want to build in The Vault at our church the Rose Wolf Library if this keeps up.

I mentioned that I was blogging about insanity, and a variety of stress related disorders because I noticed the similarities of my responses to a year of heavy stress to psychological disorders of various kinds. So she brought me this book called, "A Man Named Dave." I just finished "A Man Named Dave."

Throughout the book, Dave Pelzer the writer of a trilogy of books about his life of abuse as a child, and his eventual redemption speaks of feeling unworthy around other people. He knew that when his mother severely abused him it was not his fault, but he still could not look people in the eyes due to a deep sense of unworthiness.

This weekend, a friend from my former denomination called. He was in Salem, and happened at the time of his call to be standing in front of our church meeting location. It was extremely uncomfortable for me to talk to this guy. He does not yet even know about the heinous manner in which we were falsely accused by our "superiors" (Man! is that word a sick misnomer or what!?), and that we are no longer in the same denomination. So, he talked on as though things were like they always had been, and I fumbled to find something to say.

Why do I feel ashamed when my situation was caused by someone above me ("above me?" is that another poor way of describing authority?), and we had done our best to rectify things in a graceful and Biblical manner? I realized I was behaving like Dave. Does this happen to all people who live through abusive situations?

I in no way received the damaging treatment Dave did, but we did live through Hell brought on by someone who acted like the Devil, and now I am the one hanging my head. What's up with that?!

I suppose it is a result of abuse. Just when I think I am over it all, I find another way in which I have been affected by our experiences. I realize that this is a lesson not just for me, but for the the whole church, and so from this experience which relates to "A Man Named Dave" I find there is a man named Phil, and his experiences teach me that abusive church leadership leads to Christians who live with shame, and that shame may not belong to them but to the abusive leaders themselves.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Want to Sit on a Curb and I Want a Pet Chicken

A curb in front of 7/11 would be fine.

A curb doesn't have an address. It doesn't have a mortgage. If I park myself far enough away from a public phone booth, no one can call with their demands, or questions. As long as I have enough change for an occasional Diet Raspberry Snapple, and a bag of Crunchy Cheetos I'll be fine. I can get some hot cocoa in the winter, or move to a curb in Palm Springs.

Some people become workaholics when they are stressed. I don't have that problem - well actually - let me rephrase that: I don't have that blessing. I would rather check out, and find a place with no expectations, and no responsibilities.

A curb is a great place to go.

When my son was young, I used to tell him that when he turned 18 we would set him up for life. I would get him an extra large felt pen, and a large piece of cardboard. Then I would take him to the grocery store and get him a shopping cart. All he would have to do is get himself a pet chicken, and he would be set for life.

Back in Oceanside, there was a man with a shopping cart full of all his belongings, and the man had a pet chicken which sat on the handle bars of the shopping cart as he pushed it down the street. Elijah and I thought the man with the pet chicken was cool. I think he had it made. His only cares were his shopping cart, and his pet chicken, but if I were the pet chicken man, I would scale back, get rid of my stuff in the shopping cart, and keep my pet chicken.

I understand how people choose to live outdoors - well maybe not here in New England, but back in California I understand it. No cares, no responsibilities - just a strange socially inept freedom.

I have occasional moments of lapsed living. I am not sure what to do next, choices can be hard to make, and taking action on little issues can take more effort than it seems they are worth. Over the last year the sessions of lapsed living have increased. Could it be that stress strips many people of personal impetus, and drive? Could it be that some of the people sitting on the curbs have given up their mortgages for the free life? I wonder if some of those people left the church for the curb.

I know that I won't check out and take up residence without an address, but I have moments in the day when I really want to sit on a curb, and I really want a pet chicken.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Justice versus Vengeance versus Nobility

Oh the horrible constraints of holiness! How is it that even things which are good and correct, can be convuluted by the human heart into harmful actions?

I wonder to myself this morning about finalizing an issue of justice. To do what I have been preparing has the potential of protecting other pastors from being abused in the future, but also would cause the abusive actions of a sick leader (who did me great wrong) to be opened up to a larger audience of his peers, and the leadership over him. Of course, this action would carry a sense of vindication for myself, but I must ask myself - would this action be taken for my personal satisfaction, and sense of vengeance, or is it for the benefit of Christianity, and its need for health?

The answer is not simple, because both purposes would be fulfilled in one action. So the question is one of personal health versus greater church health. Is it nobler to overlook this serious sin in the leadership of the church, and believe that God will do His work of justice, while I keep my heart protected from the desire of getting vengeance; or is it nobler to speak up, understanding that judgment is suppose to begin in the house of God, and that I will need to work on dissecting my own heart from the vengefulness which it sometimes tends toward?

I realize that "letting go and letting God" is the common expression some might apply to this issue, but how many others before have said that same thing, and how many good people after me might be abused in similar or worse manner than we have been. There is no doubt that the church has been negligent to judge an abusive leader, who has lied and harmed others for his own ego. To remain silent is to hinder justice. To speak up is to potentially give in to my darker passions, and risk the recompense of sowing and reaping - those who rejoice in judgment will receive its rewards after all.

Of course, in all this consideration, I must also realize that the church which has been so negligent until now, may simply bury its head, and consider continued negligence to be the safer path. They could choose to ignore the sins in their own camp, and that also leads to another thought - by taking action could I set myself up for negative emotions to be strung out longer than they need to be strung out?

How is it that right things can be made so twisted and difficult by the human heart? I at least comfort myself in the fact that I ask my heart these questions. To act without pondering these deeper issues would only evidence a darker heart, and a complete lack of nobility.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I'm Outta Here!

Not really.

I will stick it out in blogland, but I've not posted recently, and I will be away for two weeks. Potentially I could blog from Florida, because I will have more time. Yet I also might not say anything, because not saying anything feels good right now. Know what I mean Verne? See you after September 1st, unless I become inspired while away.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Stress, Control and Rage

I get angry at small things on some days. For example as I am typing right now the computer has a delayed response between my typing and the appearance of the letters on the screen. The rage roils each time this delay causes me to respond clumsily in my typing progress.

I could turn off the BBC Wales radio station, but listening to the spoken Welsh language is more important to me than a smooth typing experience. So, I must move forward in jerky movements, and feel my rage rise steadily as I continue to write. Of course, I realize that I probably need to do some "spring cleaning" on the computer, but I don't have time right now.

Why am I like this right now? The small series of tragedies we have experienced are some months back. Shouldn't I feel better now?

Asking myself this question brings my mind back a few months. A lying, treacherous church leader stood close to my face, and suggested his treachery should be overlooked, and there was no place for disussion about it. To bring it up for discussion meant that I was not "moving forward, but choosing let the experience define me." At one point in the conversation he exploded in rage, and growled, "there's something deeper going on here." I suppose that was some sick Pentecostal way of getting out of being held responsible for one's sins - turn it around and accuse the other person of some deep problem which you pretend to divine by spiritual discerment.

Why is it that I am raging within lately? Did I pick up this sickness by being in the same contagious space as other sick leaders for too long? No, I know that's not the answer to the question.

The answer lies within me. I have the rage, and although it may be exaggerated by this season of stress, it lies within me nonetheless. Hopefully I have learned the lesson that it is wholly evil to lead others from the deep need to control, and that the rage which rises from a lack of control is sourced from below.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Getting Past My Cochlea

These are the times I feel trapped in my body - or, is it that my body is trapped in my experiences, and unlike my mind and heart can not escape?

She talked along. She talked a long time. I listened. I am sure that I listened longer than she talked. She was having fun talking, and unknown to Einstein was the fact that fun is the ingredient which compresses time. Fear holds the power to stretch time - especially the fear of being trapped in a monologue disguised as a discussion.

Along came another talker. Different than the first, but not different enough.

Now I was looking out through my eyes. I listened, but I wasn't really hearing. The words which passed beyond the cochlea, and into my auditory nerve were random snatches of the monologue. "I'm having a hard time with...unfair to treat me...smells bad...don't you think?" I was thankful that monologues have rhetorical questions. If you occasionally nod your head, you can appear to be paying close attention.

Actually I wondered if I really appeared to be paying close attention. The monologue became white noise. The white noise became unsufferable. My whole body was screaming at me, and rebelling at the fact that I remained in the presence of this incessant static. I wondered if the screaming of my mind was visible on my facial expressions. How long would it be until my body started shaking? I was beginning to feel the subtle body quakes of pent up tension deep inside me.

Many people say I am a good listener. Why was my listening being shortened? Why was I unable to hear all that was being said? Is there something about a monologuer which compresses the listener in me, and shortens my patience? Or could it be that I am still struggling with the stress of past treachery? Could it be that the failed, and lying leadership I have had to submit to and endure has caused me to struggle with listening for this season while I recuperate?

This Why Man Blog is all about questioning these personal responses and asking myself how they relate to my experiences in the last year. The extension of this questioning is to ask how abusive leadership effects myself, and perhaps the church as a whole.

I know I am a good listener, but it is not as true now as it has been in the past. I am sure it will return. The stress of this season is the primary reason for the difference in my attention span and patience. So I ask myself, "Could it be that Christians are not good listeners because their leaders are know-it-all blabber-mouths who speak without knowing, and judge without inquiry? Do conclusion jumping Christian leaders bring stress upon the church? Does that stress create a congregation of bland-minded, short-tempered, poor listeners who can not handle anything which does not fit their enjoyment experience?

I feel less the listener today than a year ago, but I am committed to being a good listener. I know my mind will stop screaming soon enough, and I will begin to hear a large percentage of the words once again. My monologuer is not the problem. I am, but the problem I am has been stretched by the abuse we've endured. Or so methinks for now. If you disagree, I might not hear what you have to say for a few more months.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Why am I so Sleepy?

For centuries revivalists have been speaking about the church being asleep. It has been a common theme to speak about the need to wake this sleeping giant. I have heard this so often I yawn when I hear it again.

I have been sleepier than ever lately. I am having a difficult time reading without wanting to visit the land of Nod. That is not a good thing for a Pastor, or a Teacher. Much time needs to be spent in reading, in order to have something worth saying.

As I continue to monitor my emotions following a year of great difficulty, I am wondering what part of this a response to the previous year of struggle. After a year and half of high stress dramatically crescendoing, could it be that I simply want to sleep for a year to make up for it?

Does this help explain the bland moments I have been experiencing. Is blandness my brain going to sleep while I stay awake?

I am going to stop typing now, and blow up the Hippo-doggie-pool my wife handed me. I hope I have the lung capacity to accomplish the task without getting dizzy and passing out. It really should be quite easy, but I am afraid my sleepy body and mind might trick me into unconsciousness. Check in on me to see that I am not sleeping in that Hippo-doggie-pool.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bland with a B and the Creation of Brainless Christianity

I continue to have periodic attacks of bland moments. You know - my brain goes into that gelatinous, tasteless time warp. I had to add the word tasteless, because grape, or lime jello might actually be a cool thing to get stuck in for a few moments. So it happened again while I was looking at agent B's reply to my last post. I stared at a spot on the screen, and went blank. I think that I was staring at a little button on the blogger screen. I am certain it wasn't agent B's fault. I don't think that his writing has that effect on people, but then you'll have to check out his blog, and find out if it does that to you. Perhaps Mike of Earthsea could discover if agent B is a Jedi Master. Then I will know that I am being intellectually infiltrated by the undercover operatives from Abilene. Agent B does reference Obi Wan in his blog of July 8th, but then perhaps I developing paranoid moments along with my Bipolar/PTS/Autistic/Bland moments - and any other symptoms of stress I have not yet identified but may manifest like demons in a corny episode of Charmed. Oh right, there are no non-corny episodes of Charmed.

Well, back to my blandidity (which is cooler word than blandness.) I want to experiment with writing about what actually goes on in my mind in those blandiditynesses (which is now a really cool new word.) I was staring at the screen, and now I will write the thoughts that came to me while I looked at what I think was the "Save as Draft" button. This is what was in my mind for the those brief 5-7 seconds:



"hmmmm."



The end.

I think that this writing may have been more meaningful than the last. Last time I only thought "bug." Hmmmm may be pregnant with potential thought. I think. Then again maybe I didn't think. My wife was saying at church that scientists have proven that the mind is never in neutral. I'm not so sure after experiencing blandidity, because there truly was some blank space before and after hmmmm.


hmmmm....


Okay that was a thinking hmmmm, and so I added the elipsees.

Is it possible that the manner in which heavy-handed Christian leaders abuse their flocks actually creates brainless Christians? My experience is that after having been treacherously treated blandidity (my cool new word for which I am really proud of myself) sets in. It attaches itself like that huge blob of tar which got stuck to our tire a few days ago.

Authoritarian Christian leaders creating brainless Christians through subtle abuse - is it possible?


hmmmm....

or was that hmmmm?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bland Leading the Bland?

My buddy Allan loves to use this quote which he picked up from his days working with YWAM. "It's the bland leading the bland." I'm sure it is a reference to non-pentecostal, unemotional worship found in many churches, but I am thinking that it might be a reference to my frame of mind from time to time.

Over the last three months I have been writing snippets of my story in experimental prose. I have attempted to write in such a way as to portray my thought life as outwardly unemotional and simple, but inwardly tumultous and confused - like a child with autism, because that is how I was feeling at times. With less success I have written stories in an attempt to portray the emotional rollercoaster of being bipolar. The same experiment was given to Post Traumatic Stress with greater success.

But what does one say about feeling like nothing?

I have been having a writing cramp. No, a full brain cramp. No, something more than that.

The church has been doing well. We have quite a few new faces which have appeared over the last couple months, and they are a really colorful bunch, who love being together - those who have met Jesus, and those who are only just discovering that He still hangs around humans in nearly tangible presence.

Despite this season of blessing, I could get stuck staring at a wall with barely a thought for extended time periods. What does one compose about these bland moments? I suppose I could fill a page with phony references to transendental states of consciousness, but the fact of the matter is that I am occasionally frozen in the present as though time became gelatin, and I was swimming deep in a flavorless vat of it. I suppose I could write about the things which I end up staring at, and the thoughts which fill my mind. Okay so the following is my first experimental attempt to write about my bland state of being, and my captivity in the object of my vision:


bug.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Playing God: The Role of the False Friend Leader

I have some unbelievably gracious, and faithful friends. Why is it that there are still moments of dark consideration, lonely observation, and struggle? I suppose that it is the result of treachery.

I am not a sad man naturally. Well, at least that has not been the case for the last 25 years. I had a stint of severe sadness in my late teens, and early twenties, but those days are long gone. Now I move into the melancholy as if being drawn there by the recent past of lies, and coverup which have been perpetrated against me.

Yet, this melancholy causes me to think, and hopefully draws me into wisdom as well. I recall a song I heard sung many years ago (and oh how I wish I could find it again!), which had the gracious words "I walked a mile with sorrow, and sorrow walked with me." It went on to speak of the wisdom gained in the seasons of sorrow.

So, what have I learned now?

I remember that I have taught for years that fellowship is a discipline of the Christian life. Fellowship can not happen without friendship being in the equation, and so I also am reminded that friends are people who have disciplined their lives to consider others first.

Jesus said these words, "You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you." Jesus words seem so harsh and self serving.

Hearing these words I would be left feeling as though friendship with Jesus was very one sided, if I did not parse this phrase properly.

First, he says, "You are my friends...." He does not say, "I am your friend...." He is our friend. So much so that He gave His life for us, but we are not necessarily His friend, because often I give very little consideration of Him.

Second, He says, "...if you do whatsoever I command you." That is the really tough part of this statement. Yet remembering that He only does what is good for me, and that He is God incarnate, I also understand that my obedience is trust in His infallibility. Trust is a necessary element of friendship.

Does this mean then I must obey my friends on earth in the same manner? Must I fully comply in all obedience to my friends in ministry without questioning them, and especially if they are in ecclesiastical leadership over me?

My answer is no. Any church leader who expects to be obeyed without being questioned, and bases his treatment of you on whether you silently obey his every whim is playing God, and is a sick individual in need of long term counseling. Leaders above all people need to be approachable, and open for correction when they are in error. Should their judgments be askew, or their behavior unethical they need to be willing to discuss the issue, and make corrections, and amends where necessary.

A leader who expects to receive the same level of unquestioned obedience given to God is nothing but a self serving ego-maniac, and can not truly develop friendships in ministry. I am convinced that this kind of control freak does not know what a friend is. Even God is gracious enough to handle our struggling questions, and so I know that He is my Friend.

Pastors must learn to be friends. It is in our job definition. If we can not handle being challenged, we can not be friends to challenging people, and we can not model the friendship of God. At best we can merely play God, and get ourselves in a heap of trouble.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Guinness and a Toast to Heros

I have come to the conclusion that heroism is an attribute of real friendship.

Of course, I run the risk of making people feel guilty by saying this. But I am not talking about guys who look like Arnold, or women who shine like medieval renderings of Joan of Arc - halo attached.

True heroism is often something far more subtle. True heroism is faithful, and relentlessly dependable in the face of opposition. Perhaps it is a bit stubborn at times, it holds a position which is unpopular, or potentially has something to loose.

When we find ourselves in desperate times, such as my family (and yes, the church family is included in this as well) has recently experienced, we discover who is willing to stubbornly hold their ground, and faithfully stand beside us during the most difficult times. These people show a heroism which is reminiscent of larger world figures such as Joan of Arc, and they become our personal heros, and heroines.

While I was walking through our most recent trial, two separate men, at separate times spoke words of wisdom which I will not forget. These are not words which one would typically place into the category of "wise sayings," but they spoke life into my heart, and gave guidance during our most difficult times. I related events of treachery, and dashed hopes during a meeting where I was being falsely accused, and supposed friends sat, and said nothing despite knowing better. My wise counsellors heard the story and both said these words, "These people are not your friends."

Oh I knew them for many years, and thought they were friends, but the friendship fell short of defending me against false accusations. Yet I discovered that there were others who were willing to speak up even when it was not in their best interest. These people showed themselves to be friends, and I feel as though I owe my life to them. "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." This kind of friend is a hero in my book.

True friends are heros. They carry all the deep values of heroism in their hearts.

False friends are only there while it is expedient to be there, and cowardice will drive them away when things become too difficult.

Amazingly, true friends will never think of themselves as heros. They are simply doing what is right, and loving you during your most difficult times. They show the heroism of Jesus Himself, Who died for me while I was yet a sinner.

If I had a Guinness, I'd raise it in the air, and make a toast, "Here's to true friends and heros - iechyd da!"

Monday, June 05, 2006

Repost of Old Story

Gentry posted this on his blogspot sometime back, but I thought it was appropriate to post it here on my site too (since I wrote it.)

Krishna, Hospital Visits, Preachers, and Dictionaries for France


I don't like places which have too many things happening at the same time. It makes my brain slow down. When my brain goes slow, my body goes slow too. What is even worse is when I am in a place with too many things, and big words I don't understand. When that happens it is like when my wife asks me to do more than one thing at the same time. I have to ask her to put it on a list, because a list is just one thing, and I can do a list, because it is one thing.

Last week my son went to the hospital. His name is Elijah, and I don't have any other sons - or daughters either. Some people have more than one, but like God I only have one.

I don't like hospitals when someone in my family is in them, because they are busy, and in hospitals people say things I don't understand. Then my brain goes slow, and so does my body. Somebody should do something to make hospitals easier. I think that there should be a hospital dictionary, like the dictionaries for people who go on vacation to France.

This is how Elijah got to the hospital: Elijah's left eye became blurry in the peripheral vision, over the course of a day or two. The peripheral vision is that place on the side which you can't really look at, because once you try to look at it, it isn't on the side any more. Apparently, when your peripheral vision gets blurry suddenly your eye is telling you that something is wrong, like when the airplane on the way to France makes a strange new noise.

Elijah called his friend Jim Trick. Jim is a another musician, a preacher, and an optometrist. That's a lot of different things to be. I wonder if Jim goes slow in a hospital like I do. I don't think so, because he can do all those smart things. Elijah is a musician too, but he's not a preacher, or an optometrist. I am a musician, and a preacher too, but I'm not an optometrist either. Maybe if I was an optometrist I'd like hospitals better, because they would make sense to me, and I would be someone who could do many things at once. Being a musician and a preacher is not really very different. They both get up in front of people and talk, and sing about stuff. The musician can sing about any kind of stuff, but the preacher only has to talk about God stuff, so he doesn't have to be as smart. He only talks about one thing. Then again God is a big thing to talk about, so maybe we have to be a little smart about one big thing.

Jim Trick sent Elijah to a Doctor. The Doctor was very nice, and saw Elijah that same day even though he was busy. He looked at Elijah's eyes. He said that Elijah needed to go to the emergency room at the hospital.

The Doctor's name is Krishna Gaddipati. He is Indian - from India, not from a reservation in America. He is an opthamologist. Opthamologists go to school for a long time to learn to look at eyes. So he is smart, and probably doesn't go slow in hospitals, because he does surgery on people's eyes, and he probably doesn't need a dictionary for the words. He probably knows them all by heart.

Elijah went to the emergency room, just like Dr. Krishna said. They checked his blood pressure. They told Elijah's wife Rhonda to fill out the paperwork for him, and they took Elijah back into the emergency ward.

Elijah did not have to wait to be helped by the doctors. No waiting is usually good, but now I know that it's not always good at the emergency ward.

Elijah's blood pressure was 209 over 125. People have strokes when their blood pressure is 209 over 125. When they write out the blood pressure it looks like this... 209/125 mmHg. MmHg is millimeters of mercury. The hospital used to use a machine called a sphygmomanometer, but that was a long time ago. Mercury would rise by millimeters in a long thin tube to tell how strong someone's blood pressure was. Today they use electronic devices and blood pressure cuffs with no long, thin mercury tubes. But I had to read about that after the visit to the hospital.

Elijah was sitting in a little room with three walls, and a curtain for another wall, but the curtain was open. Doctors and nurses came in and went out. There were needles, and Elijah got shots. There were IVs in his right arm. IVs are intravenous tubes which medicine is sent through. Little things called sensors were placed all over his chest. The little sensors were connected to the machine which said "beep, beep, beep...," and made the wavy lines which tell you if your heart is beating properly. There were doctors saying they were very concerned. They said that young men Elijah's age should not be having problems like this, especially if they don't smoke, drink too much alcohol, or take drugs. Elijah is 21, and he doesn't do those things, so they didn't know what was wrong.

It is not good when the Doctors don't know what is wrong.

Elijah did not know what was happening. Rhonda did not understand what was happening either. So Rhonda called Bev on the phone. Bev is my wife. Bev is a Dental Hygienist. Bev is like Jim Trick. She can do a lot of things. She can play the flute, preach, and do Dental Hygiene too. Playing the flute is not like preaching, because you don't talk, or sing when you do it, and Dental Hygiene is like a hospital kind of thing, except you never have to stay for five days to get it done, but you do have to know big hospital words. So I think that Bev is more comfortable in a hospital than I am. Bev told Rhonda, "I don't clean people's teeth when their blood pressure is 209 over 125."

Rhonda cried.

Rhonda cried because she began to understand a little bit. Elijah was not doing well. He was very sick, and this was strange. It was strange, because Elijah looked and acted healthy. The only things wrong were that he had headaches, and blurry vision in the part of his left eye which you can't see when you are trying to look straight at it, and his blood pressure was 209/125 mmHg.

209 is the systolic pressure. Systole is when the left ventricle of the heart pumps and makes the most pressure on the blood vessels. The word systolic comes from systole. A ventricle is one of the little rooms in the heart, but it is not one of the rooms which preachers talk about when they say that we try to keep God from certain rooms in our hearts. The ventricle is just a place for the blood to go in, and then to get pumped back out, and I don't think that we can pump God out. The left ventricle pushed hard enough to rupture some blood vessels in Elijah's eyes, and that's why Dr. Krishna sent Elijah to the hospital. Dr. Krishna knew something was wrong with Elijah's blood pressure. He knew that Elijah could have lost his eyesight permanently, or had a stroke, or any number of other bad things which happen when your blood pressure is 209/125 mmHg.

Rhonda filled out paperwork while Elijah had needles, and IVs put in has arm. The hospital was a new place to Rhonda. But not a new exciting place. Some new places are fun. This was not one of those fun, new places. It didn't have a dictionary.

We came to see Rhonda a little bit after Elijah went back into the emergency ward. The hospital was not an exciting new place to us either.

It took a long time for the doctors to bring Elijah's blood pressure down. It was three days later, and then the blood pressure was 120/55 mmHg. That is a normal level, but it only stayed normal when Elijah took pills for his blood pressure. We prayed really hard on the day it went down to 120 over 55. Maybe Jesus heard us, and helped the doctors. Doctors need help from Jesus. They don't always know what is wrong, but Jesus always knows those things. Maybe Doctors have slow brains in the hospital sometimes too, and that's why preachers like me need to go to the hospital and pray for them.

After five days Elijah was able to go home. That was two days ago. The doctors still don't know what is wrong with Elijah. There will be more tests, and more needles.

In a couple days I think that I'll be better, but right now I'm still going slow in my head. I don't think that I will need needles, or IVs, and that is good, because I think that would make my brain go even slower. My brain should go back to normal on its own.

We are all very thankful for Dr. Krishna, but it is funny that his name is Krishna. I am a Christian, and I believe in Jesus. I don't believe in Krishna. Krishna is a Hindu god, and I am not a Hindu, but the doctor's name is Krishna, and he is not the Hindu god. He is just a good doctor who helped save my son, and only his name is Krishna.

A few months ago I sat in a room with other preachers. They told me that I was not being a good preacher. They said things which were not true, and said that I was aberrant. Aberrant is what someone calls you if they think that your teachings about Christianity are wrong, but they didn't know my teachings. They were only guessing, and they made things up about me. I still don't know why they made things up, and so my brain went slow for a little while then too.

That meeting was like the hospital. It was not a fun, new place, and people were saying things which I didn't understand. I didn't need a dictionary like the ones which people get when they go to France, because I understood the words, but I did not understand why they said the words they were saying, because I thought that preachers were supposed to say true words, and they were not saying true words about me.

I think that these same people might not understand when I say that Krishna saved my son's life. They might think that I am a Hindu, but I am not a Hindu. I am a Christian, and I know that Jesus saved my son's life, but Jesus used a Doctor named Krishna to help.

I think that it is funny that a Doctor named Krishna helped save my son, but I know that there are some people who aren't funny people, and they wouldn't understand. Maybe they need a dictionary to learn how to be funny, like the dictionaries which people get when they go to France. Maybe someday I'll write a dictionary to help people learn to be funny, but that will have to wait till my brain gets back to normal, and I am not thinking so slow.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Is it Style Difference, or is it Heresy?

Our gang at The Gathering was challenged by leaders who accused our activities in relationship with people involved in the occult as being aberrant theological behavior, and practice. We believed we were fulfilling the Great Commission by loving those whom other Christians were afraid of. To us it appeared to be a matter of differing missiology (style of evangelism). To our accusers it appeared to be a matter of doctrine.

This has given me a new perspective on the issue of doctrine, and heresy.

Our accuser spread the rumors of our aberrant behavior throughout our denomination without warning. He did not speak to me first. He did not come with two or three brethren to discuss the issue with me. He never visited our church, or our outreach. His much information was wildly exaggerated, or completely false.

So I ask myself, "Who is aberrant here?"

It seems to me that orthodoxy in behavior is as important as orthodoxy in belief. No one was able to point out a belief we held which was unorthodox, yet when they violated the methods of correction, and information gathering outlined in scripture (2 or 3 witnesses, Matthew 18...) it was merely a "different style" of leadership, and not open to discussion

In a relational kingdom relational violations which are excused as style differences may be something far more eggregious. They may well be heresy. They certainly are aberrant behavior.

I am finding myself far more concerned with relational interaction of Christian leaders, than their doctrinal purity these days. Is this because I do not believe in the importance of doctrine? No, it is because I believe that in all its importance it still falls a far second to the inner transformation of the soul, with such beautiful attributes as humility, love, gentleness, and grace. Could it be that a heretic is not just someone with peculiar beliefs? Could it be that a heretic could also be someone who violates the relational dynamic of the kingdom of God, and justifies it as leadership style? Is this what Jesus meant when he said to "beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

If I can talk about grace till I'm blue in the face, and get the lines all straight, it still is not the same as having it working in my heart.

I have come to believe that violations of relationship by church leadership have soteriological ramifications. Those are big theological words for saying that it affects the issue of salvation, but that is another post.

This I do know: orthodoxy is connected to action in a powerful way. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world...."

For now, we are a part of another fellowship of churches who celebrate our style of outreach, and so we move on, but we remember the lessons leadership we have gained.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

How Strong Leaders Can Be Bad People

I am convinced that small churches naturally lead toward developing leaders who are good people. I am also convinced that extremely large churches do not naturally develop positive character among those who lead them.

A false premise of leadership was taught, and taken for gospel truth during the height of the church growth movement. We were being told that a church could be only as big as the person who led the church. Big men and women grew big churches. Conversely (or was that perversely?) the reverse was assumed - little churches were the result of little people.

How is it that I have met petty men who lead large churches? How is it that I have discovered minimal character development among some people who had large ministries, and deep character among others who pastored tiny churches? I must assume that the old church growth dictum was actually a flawed equation.

The reason I am convinced that small churches naturally tend to develop deeper character among those in leadership is that one can not hide behind a busy schedule, or a well developed program in a small church. The fact is that small church pastors are forced to deal with people face to face, and problem by problem. It is the dirty business of relationships, and that dirty business is where redemption occurs. The redemption is in our own souls, as we small church pastors have the rough edges of our character ground down.

The large church is so busy performing its duties, and running its tight schedule, that many people in its leadership structure do have to be good people in order to perform their duties. They can treat people like Hell, and still expect to help develop Heaven. Yet I wonder if what we give people is an indicator of where we are headed. If so, giving people Hell may not be the wisest career move.

Of course, the problem with many small churches is that they model themselves after large ministries in hopes of becoming one. I am not sure that this is a healthy option toward developing ourselves as deep people.