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.