Making My Mind, Mind

angstTo make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. Henry David Thoreau

In my darkest years, I was harassed by voices that accused me and terrorized me with memories of excruciating incidents. The voices jeered: “You’re alone, sick, and broke. God is mad at you. You’re a loser. Don’t get back up; you’ll only get knocked down again!”

The most difficult time to corral those renegade thoughts was when I was trying to get to sleep. Most nights, sleep eluded me. I would try to wear down the night by watching the clock. While drifting off, my mind raced like a nervous greyhound around an oval track, chasing a mechanical rabbit, and I struggled to drag them away from that track. Continue reading

Undelivered Invitations

mailmanWhen I was a pastor I used to fantasize about being a mail carrier. I figured the pay would be about the same and the pressure exponentially reduced. The weight of mailbags wouldn’t compare with the charge of souls. I knew a couple of the privileged class of postal workers and they seemed so much less stressed than me. Lots of fresh air, a can of mace for un-neighborly dogs, and home for dinner minus the onus of what didn’t get done that day. What’s not to like?

If you’re a mail carrier and your daily task is a tad more challenging than I’ve indicated, I apologize for misrepresenting you. I’m sure, unlike the temperate climate in my West Coast city, harsh weather can be a pain, not to mention menacing home-alone-canines, full cans of pepper spray notwithstanding. And I presume that, unlike the olden days, fewer and fewer of your customers give you a fruitcake at Christmas.

But all things considered, you have to admit that when carriers of all things postal finish emptying their bag, they pull into the garage without a care. That is, unless they don’t empty their bag. Woe to the mail delivery person who fails to deliver all their boxes and letters!

A pedestrian metaphor to be sure (pun intended), but consider the follower of Jesus with his/her bag full of God’s party invitations. Not that difficult a job really. Just out delivering the mail, bad weather and snarling dogs aside. We don’t write the Maker’s mail or pay the postage. We just have to­­––I mean, get to––distribute it to those that God wants at his party. We don’t have to throw the party or pay for it. Jesus took care of all that. We’re not even charged with convincing the invitees to come. That’s the Spirit’s job. Pretty simple when you think about it. Just deliver the invitations with a smile.

But consider those Christians, of course we’re talking about those other Christians, whose bag at the end of the day (i.e. at the end of their life) is still full. Maybe they got distracted with opening their own mail, with inclement conditions, or the threat of ankle-biting Pekingese, but when they arrived home their mailbags are still full of undelivered party invitations.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds!”

What? You haven’t yet ordered, read, or reviewed on Amazon The Other End of the Dark? Well, okay, but you really should…

The “Jesus Bus”

jesus-busDo all roads lead to God? “No,” says William Paul Young, “but God is willing to travel any road to find you.”

My friend and I were meeting at the baseball stadium to watch my San Francisco Giants play. Parking costs as much as the ticket, so I decided to take public transportation. From my house there isn’t one bus that takes me directly there, so I had to take one bus and transfer to another, which dropped me off right in front of the ballpark.

Though I believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, there might well be a number of ways to Jesus. Creation, conscience, culture, crises and even some aspects of creed (religion) are like those buses that lead people to — the “Jesus Bus!” They can serve as vehicles that can bring us to The Vehicle that brings us to God. It’s necessary for devotees of other religions to “transfer” from their former way to The Way in order to get all the way to the Father. How and when they make this transfer, and even what the process of transfer looks like is so far above my pay grade that I can only speculate. Continue reading

Christians at the Border (Part 1 of 3)

I first posted this along with the next 2 parts of this essay back in September, 2015 when wall building was a campaign promise and President Trump was then Candidate Trump. I recommend these three to you for what I believe the Bible teaches about immigrants and refugees. You’ll find more actual biblical evidence for my position in Part 2.

For those of us who follow Jesus it’s important that our biblical worldview informs our politics not the other way around. So if you have a different opinion based on your understanding of the Bible, I’d love to hear it. I could be wrong in my interpretation of the Word. It’s happened before. But if your view of immigration and refugee-care begins and ends with a personal preference or political platform, then feel free to restrain yourself from comment. Not that it’s not valuable to banter politics but that’s not my approach or my point here.

Musing the Mysteries

immigration 2“We’re building a wall. Nobody’s going through my wall. Trump builds walls. I build walls.”

I’ve written about immigration in the past but in light of current conversations among presidential candidates along with the rhetoric bouncing back and forth in the media about “illegals” replete with pejorative labels like “Anchor babies” and other offensive racial slurs, I couldn’t help myself. I had to make a few comments of my own.

Two things I won’t do here. If you want to know the shocking statistics on worldwide migration you should Google those on your own. I feel like we’re already pretty well numbed by the numbers of migrants and refugees – and by pretty much any other social crisis in our world. We’re slowed to stasis by statistics. It’s too easy to think of immigration as an issue, as just a problem to be solved by someone other than us…

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Tour Guides, Matchmakers, and Show-and-Tell

hard-sellSalespeople scare me. I usually avert my eyes when they’re lurking near. I figure if our eyes don’t meet they can’t guilt me into buying something I don’t need. Car salespeople are the scariest. The “I’m just browsing” response doesn’t seem to persuade them to leave me alone.

I’ve noticed people using the same eye-contact-avoidance tactic when the God topic comes up in conversation. They can tell when we’re just trying to make a sale. Having been marketed into a comatose sales stupor they just can’t stand one more pitch. Their brains tune it out.

We know that salvation is free of charge and it’s not like we get a cut from every “sale” we make, but, if we’re honest, we are rewarded for making the pitch. The kids who compete for top magazine sales don’t get paid for their efforts, but the winner wins a prize––a pony in my day, today it’s more like a video game console or an iPhone. OK, so we don’t get a Playstation 4 for witnessing, but at least in the back of our minds we consider the admiration of our peers and an at-a-boy (or girl) from the Father. Aside from what this says about our relative spiritual maturity, our “customers” can detect motives as subtle as these and want no part of what we’re “selling.” While we may not ever be entirely rid of such ulterior motives, lest our witness is rejected off-hand, we should daily submit to the Spirit’s test for pretense. Continue reading

Hyperbole is the Worst Thing Ever!

mudslinging1hy·per·bo·le (hīˈpərbəlē): exaggeration, overstatement, magnification, embellishment, excess, overkill, rhetoric…

I hate hyperbole, first of all because it’s gotta have the worst spelling of any word in the English language! How am I supposed to pronounce such a word spelled with such counterintuitivity?!

It seems that everyone is addicted to hyperbole these days, and I blame the entirely corrupt media and all politicians for this! Like Bill Moyers said of one of our former presidents, “Hyperbole was to Lyndon Johnson what oxygen is to life.”

To many people’s minds there is nothing in politics or religion that’s nuanced these days. Everything is black, white, or non-existent. Nothing is amber anymore. Continue reading

A Sign But No Service


milk-farm1When I was a kid travelling back and forth between Northern California and the Bay Area with my parents we often stopped at a restaurant on Highway 80 called “The Milk Farm.” It wasn’t anything special, just an affordable cafeteria-style comfort food eatery. The thing I remember most was the 100-foot sign that loomed high over the hedges along freeway. The restaurant is long gone, but the sign that showcases a cow leaping over a crescent of moon remains to this day.

I passed that way a while ago. Driving by the unremarkable community of Dixon I took the exit called, “Milk Farm Road,” expecting to fill up at least on childhood memories, if not on something deep fried. I followed the frontage road toward the several story high sign and pulled up to an empty plot of little more than weeds and rubble atop the old landmark’s concrete foundation. My disappointment was like learning all over again that Santa isn’t as real as they’d said. Continue reading