Monday, July 23, 2012

P4E.247 Enrique Says...

There was a lull in our garage sale. It was already warm that mid-morning and all of the serious pickers had come and gone. A car pulled up and a small, Hispanic, man got out and walked up into our driveway. He was dressed in khaki beige hat, shirt and shorts with sandals. We said, "Good Morning" and he began to look over our remaining treasures.

To make conversation, I said "It's going to be a hot day today!" The man nodded and was silent for a minute as he continued to browse. Then, he said, " Jyou many people...they complain...eets too hot...eets too cold. Een the morning...eef I open my eyes...eef I breathe the air in...I so happy! I jess glad to be alive...jyou know?" He was gesturing with his hands, exploding his fingers away from his eyes and gathering the air into his lungs. I agreed with him. I was surprised and touched by this little man's  bit of driveway philosophy. "What is your name?", I  asked. "Enrique."

Enrique continued, "Why should I complain? Everyone's in so much of a hurry, jyou know? Eef I see someone come behind me in the car...I move over...I get out of the way..I let them go by!" He steps aside and gestures to pass. Then he throws his hands in the air and tilts his head as if trying to understand the mentality of the impatient motorist. "I jess glad to be alive, jyou know?" "Sometimes life eets hard...I hurt my back and my knee workeen, so I'm on disability right now." I hadn't noticed the brace on his knee until he pointed it out. "I use to own a house over here, but I lost it. Now, I rent an apartment. But, I have my wife...I have my jyoung sons...I have enough to eat...I open my eyes in the morning...I breathe the air in...Why should I complain?"

Gwen had been listening, and said "You should be a pastor!" Enrique blushed, spread his hands, and said, "But, you see, I don't have the religion!" Gwen and I both protested, "But, you do!" Trying to reassure Enrique, I confessed to him, "We don't go to church either, Enrique. We don't think that you have to go to church to "have the religion."" Enrique nodded. He said, "Let me tell you somesing. I used to live in L.A. and you know they built that church there for 200 millions of dollars! Think what could be done with that money! There are peoples, children in Africa..." Here, Enrique put his fingertips together and motioned to his mouth. "They have nothing to eat! And, the church spends 200 millions on a building! Well, you don't have to go so far as Africa. You only have to go to Mexico. This is why I don't have the religion."

Well, we exchanged phone numbers and I intend to stay in touch with Enrique. I want to hear more of what Enrique says. If he doesn't have the religion, then neither do I.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

P4E.246 What If?

What if church were a different kind of place? The landscape of "church" could be a very different place if the premises of "church" were changed.

For instance, why does there need to be a charismatic "pastor," who represents himself as all-knowing and teaches from an "on-high" pulpit? Why can't there be a group of humble men and women, who never imagined that they would be leaders who lead by example?

What if church were interactive, instead of a monologue? It's a very paternal configuration, because let's face it, most pastors are MEN who deliver a monologue that makes them appear to be teaching from a position of authority, when in fact, they are just as fallible as the rest of us.

What if, instead of badgering, cajoling, browbeating or tricking you into "accepting Christ into your heart" a church simply said, "We love you. What can we do for you?"

What if the church moved away from the "worship music" that dominates its formulaic service? When it was a couple of guys on acoustic guitars you used to be able to actually hear and "commune" with God and those worshipping in song around you. And, does it have to be singing, anyway?

Every church seems to be a glorified self-help ministry, trying desperately to make sure that their congregation's egos are intact, their men are wild at heart and that their lives are "purpose driven."

What if, instead of buying into the world's idea of what a man should be (ie, brash, bold, haughty, stoic, arrogant, loud, aggressive, strong, selfish, materialistic, predatory), churches taught their men to be mild, gentle, kind, meek, thoughtful, patient, peaceful, joyful and loving?

What if, instead of a "What We Believe" section in every website or bulletin there were a "How Can We Make a Positive Difference in Your Life?" section?

And then there's the money. The money, the money, the money.

What if the donations made by congregations went to a third-party administered trust? Say, a reputable accounting firm. The money could be accounted for and distributed where it was truly needed without the temptation of mis-spending it.

Why does something of a spiritual nature, something that most acknowledge is made up of people, need to be constructed of brick and mortar? Shouldn't churches be going the way of the book and record stores?

What if the church existed "in the cloud?" Then there would be no need for rent or lease or mortgage payments. There would be no need to provide a huge sanctuary with lighting and sound systems and flat screens. There's staff salaries and landscaping and irrigation and building maintenance and telephones, etc. All of these costs misdirect the money away from reaching out to the community in more tangible ways.

What if, instead of harping on theological differences between denominations and non-denominations, the church dropped the arguing and focused on the BASICS.

What if the church simply focused on loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves? What if it came down to caring for widows and orphans, visiting people in prison, tending to the sick, feeding the poor and caring for the less fortunate among us? What if we were Good Samaritans?

What if the church stayed out of politics and conservatism and simply reached out to a needy world?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

P4E.245 A Word to the Wise

"I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world." 
A word to the wise:

Don't judge the world.

Don't judge President Obama...or Governor Romney.
Don't judge movie stars who get divorces.
Don't judge the young...or the old.
Don't judge Democrats...or Republicans.
Don't judge the poor...or the rich.
Don't judge people who aren't like you.
Don't judge homosexuals.
Don't judge liberals...or conservatives.
Don't judge women who get abortions.
Don't judge evolutionists.
Don't judge the overweight...or the bulimic.
Don't judge illegal aliens.
Don't judge other religions.
Don't judge the famous.
Don't judge animal rights activists or vegetarians or environmentalists.
Don't judge other races.
Don't judge politicians.
Don't judge Catholics, or Presbyterians, or Lutherans, or Methodists, or Episcopalians, or Baptists.
Don't judge other countries.
Don't judge the wicked.

Don't judge the world.


"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned." Luke 6:37

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

P4E.244 Beaten

Empty, stretched thin
like the next hurt will tear

Disconnected and alone air

Living life from afar
detached from effect
and from cause

Haunted by the thought
that nothing matters

That when I'm gone
time and the Cosmos
will not pause

Will all that was said and done
be lost?

Broken, distracted
misty eyed and dejected

Wanting to fight back
but, at what cost?

Exposed and vulnerable
scared and about to give up

Beaten and bruised
without friends or hope

Where are You?
Where are You?
I hurt
You're not there

Looking for You
Listening for You
I need You
You're not there


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