It’s All Blue Skies From Here!

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“It’s all blue skies from here”.  Have you ever heard this before?  It’s one of those tired clichés that reminds me of the movie Office Space, “You having a case of the Monday’s?”  Clichés are there for people when they don’t know what else to say.  Sometimes in life you just don’t have the energy to express yourself, usually do to three little monsters that eat of all your food and ransack your house like Attila The Hun.  So, being able to fire off a cliché is well…easy. 

However, easy is not always good.  Sometimes we must force ourselves to go deeper.  There is a lady that works in one of my children’s day care centers and when I arrive in the morning it is often weird to hear her talk.  Here is what I mean; “Magnificent Monday, Fabulous Friday, Wonderful Wednesday!”  Clichés are what you say when you don’t what to say and to top it off you get the “BE BLESSED”, as if we have a choice.  WE ARE ALL blessed so don’t use religious weirdisms…please! 

So I think that we all know what “It’s all blue skies from here” means.  It means that things are looking “up”; the future is bright and insert any other cliché you would like (I am tired this morning so don’t think less of me).  Today I was running through downtown Tulsa and just taking in the beauty of Tulsa and reflecting how much I love living here when I noticed just how pretty and blue the sky was.  Why did God make the skies blue of all the colors he could choose?  So I dug around a little bit and this is what I found. 

The ancient Chinese and Egyptian cultures practiced Chromotherapy.  Chromotherapy is the use of colors to heal the body, mind and spirit.  Here are some facts about the color blue:

1)   Blue was believed to sooth illnesses and treat pain.

2)   Blue calls to mind feelings of calmness and serenity, and is often described as peaceful, tranquil, secure and orderly.

3)   Blue can lower blood pressure and body temperature.

4)   Blue is a favorite color among many but blue is preferred most by men.

5)   Companies prefer the color blue because people are more productive in blue rooms.

6)   Anecdotal evidence has suggested that installing blue covered street lights can lead to a reduction in crime in these areas (lets put some of these at 61st and Peoria pleeeeease!!!). 

Now here is what I noticed on my run.  The two most predominant colors in spring, summer are blue and green but blue is available all year long.  I mean you can’t ignore the fact that the sky is pretty BIG and when it is really blue, you just want to stay outside and enjoy the day.

God doesn’t do anything by mistake.  I believe that everything has a place and a purpose.  I see this taught throughout scripture and think there is a lesson to learn here about how we interact with God and nature. 

God is continually calling man to do things like BELIEVE, TRUST, LOVE AND HOPE.  It turns out that He even creates our environment to help spark these ideas within our heart.  You see, you cannot BELIEVE, TRUST LOVE AND HOPE without having a foundation of peace, order, serenity and calmness.  It is virtually impossible to attain solid belief or trust in something without a sense of order and peace. Many of us just need to get out of our cubicles more and look up a lot!!

One of things that I have to fight more than anything is my sense of belief.  I suck at remaining calm and peaceful because I continually believe the wrong things.

When you believe the wrong things like, “my life sucks”, or “things will never get better”, or the really uplifting “things are going so well, something bad is bound to happen”.  These thoughts erode our faith and tear at our soul.  

In the book of John,  Jesus is having a conversation with his followers and they asked him what it is that they are supposed to be doing?  Often, the continual desire to “DO” for God and His Kingdom rapes so much of our faith.  Even worse, our spiritual leaders give us an exhausting list of things “good Christians” should be doing.  To top it all off, if you are listening to more than one pastor (which you SHOULD BE DOING!) then you become schizophrenic by all of the crap we are supposed to be doing and eventually you just give up. “Can I get an amen?”  I couldn’t resist!!

Anyways, Jesus makes it very simple for his followers.  He narrows it down to what they truly need to be doing.  He said, “YOU are to believe in me and the One that sent me.”  Seems simple, right?  God knows that out of all of his creations, humans can complicate and screw things up better and quicker than anything else.  Keep it simple stupid (zing…another cliché). 

Our mission (as pertaining to our personal lives) is to Believe, Trust, Love and Hope and this is OUR responsibility.  I call it the Gospel of Personal Responsibility.  It is your job and my job to look up and see the blue sky and Believe, Trust, Love and Hope that Jesus has it all taken care of, especially when the old preverbal shit has hit the fan!  It is our struggle as men and women to get ourselves into a posture of “blue”, a posture of peace, order, serenity and calmness, and the only way that we can even possibly do this is to meditate on God’s truths, and live balanced lives (we suck at this as Americans). We need to be sharing our lives with others, serving others and in turn this helps us start to BELIEVE the right things.

We are asked to look up at the blue skies in our lives and be thankful, grateful and hopeful, especially when we do not feel that way. 

The question that we must be asking ourselves is, “How do I create blue skies in my life”?  How do I surround myself with people that will help promote peace, order, serenity and calmness”?  “Who and what do I need to carve out of my life to move towards blue skies?” 

This is your job and this is my job.  We must create blues skies in our lives so we can hear God. 

 Trust God. 

Love God. 

Hope in God. 

This IS the Gospel of Personal Responsibility.  I guess it is all blue skies after all!

Till next time, 

Crappy Pastor

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More God, Less Bulls#@t!!!!!

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Warning!  Some of the language used in this posting may contain content you find offensive.  If you are easily offended then please bail now. 

I was reading in Matthew 15 this morning and I am reminded how intoxicating religion can be.  I call this intoxication bullshit.  I am also reminded of how DANGEROUS Jesus is and how he is calling out the bullshit from the religious establishment.

I wished I could say that things are different today, that we have somehow evolved, grown, and matured as Christians but we still pedal bullshit like its Starbucks coffee.  Let’s take an honest look at what Jesus was saying here and see how it applies to each one of us today.  I have a feeling that many of you were pedaled some bullshit this last weekend so let’s set our minds and hearts straight for a productive week!

To bring context to Matthew 15 we need to go back to Matthew 14 and picture the setting.  Jesus just fed over 10,000 people (5,000 men, plus women and children) followed by a 5k on the water (the only one EVER done that I am aware).  Him and his disciples end up at region of Gennesaret.  This was on the west side of the lake and people recognized Jesus so they gathered up their sick and brought them to him.

After many of the sick were healed, we see Jesus surrounded by a large number of people.  It says that Jesus had some visitors to come and monitor him (modern day NSA but much more abusive) from Jerusalem (the Washing D.C. of the religious) to keep tabs on him.  They are looking for something to catch him in as to discredit him and his disciples.

Eureka!!  The religious had found it!  Jesus and his posse did not ceremonial wash their hands before they ate.  Now for those of you that are not familiar with Jewish customs, let me give you some background here.

It was Jewish “tradition”, not LAW, to ceremonially wash their hands not for cleanliness but to religiously pay honor to God by going through this religious ritual of “washing” their hands.  After this, BINGO, its chow time.

So much of religion is about perception or what others think.  “Don’t drink a beer or you might lead someone astray”.  The religious are most interested in what others think about them, because at the core of religiousness we see that it is about them and not God or it is about trying to please God by contrived works.

Jesus calls them out on their bullshit.  He quotes a passage from Isaiah that says, “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and in vein they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of me.”  BAM!  Eat that!

Jesus sets this statement up with the commandment to honor their father and mother.  When I read this I had to do a little digging to find out exactly what Jesus was saying here.  How were the religious not honoring their father and mother?  After all, you think they would get this one commandment nailed down, right?  You see in Jewish culture (very different from our consumer driven culture) you were to make sure that even as adults it was your duty to take care of your parents.  They did not have Social Security or Medicare and it was the family’s job to take care of their own, including widows and orphans.

The religious had a clause that got many of their followers out of their duty by being super religious (code for super asshole) and it went like this.  After you paid all your bills you could have all of left over money set aside for God.  This was a way of claiming it “spent” and thus shirking your duties to take care of you parents.  You killed two birds with one stone.  First of all you didn’t have to take care of your responsibilities and secondly you could do it under the guise of being ultra religious.  Jesus called them out on it and left their jaws gaping wide open.

So the question becomes how does this relate to today?  I believe at the core of religion is the desire to gain God’s approval based on a set of standards that we fabricate (i.e. drinking alcohol) or we beat people up with biblical standards (which Jesus did not do).  Jesus’ response was always trying to find a way to connect with others and by doing so bringing them into his world.  This is a world of love, grace and tolerance.  The only people that he really pushed on were the ultra religious (i.e. the rich young ruler, Pharisees and the morality police).

What I see today are churches and denominations that say if your not gay, a drinker, smoker or whatever their pet peeve is, THEN you can be a part of us.  The religious leaders did it then and they are still doing it today.  After all, we cannot have a bunch of gay people running around our churches, corrupting our children.  They might get some “gay” on them.  So, the church pushes out anyone that thinks differently than them.  Hell, the religious even segregate their own by saying divisive things like; “If you don’t speak in tongues then you don’t have the Holy Spirit.”  “If you don’t believe that once you are ‘saved’ you are ALWAYS ‘saved’.”  “If you have been divorced you cannot be in church leadership”, and my all time favorite, “women should never be ‘over’ a man, so no women pastors”.

I maintain that if Jesus were to come back today and walk through Tulsa he would probably be kicked out of most churches.  His willingness to connect with ANYONE and love him or her regardless is too dangerous.  It is dangerous when you don’t care what others think and you do what your convictions lead you to do.

Maybe this is why I pastor the smallest church in America!  So, this is a rally cry to all of you that believe that Jesus once and for all took care of sin.

This is a rally cry to get off you ass and really get in the trenches with those that are hurting.  After all, I don’t think God is as impressed as you are about your consistent devotion to always being at church every time the door is open yet you buy chicken sandwiches to really put gay people in their “place”.

The world sees us for who we are and that is why they are staying away by the millions!

Till next time,

Crappy Pastor

Horse and Buggy vs. Auto (new church vs. old church)

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I was running this morning and as usual, contemplating my existence and trying to not pass out, when something jumped out at me.  It was during the halfway point of my run that I took this picture with my phone.  As I walked across the street I saw what God was pointing out to me.

In this picture you see the historic route 66 tribute.  It is a bronze looking statue of a horse and carriage running up against a family in a  Model T (or is it Model A?) on this very historic road.  You see there was a time in history when things started to shift so drastically that humanity was not ready to deal with the change.  Up until this time in history everything was horse and buggy, or some kind of animal and buggy, and there was little protocol for how our infrastructure would handle this monumental change.  The horse and buggy days were drawing to a close and the era of motorized vehicles was taking off.

When one era starts and another one is ending everyone feels the tension.  I am pretty sure that old famer “McDonald” was not too happy about this new loud and interruptive machinery, always hogging up the road, getting in the way.  And did he mention that they are way to fast!  “Someone is going to get hurt”!

As I looked at this and marveled at its size and what this art was communicating I started to wonder how this is a great picture of the church right now.  There have now been hundreds of years in which we did church the same way, communicated it the same way and wooed people the same way.  Today things seem so very different.

For many of us thinkers, writers and preachers we are seeing a new era being born in the church, how she does things, how she communicates things and how she woos people, is drastically different today from…say 1950!  The world is changing at a drastic speed and keeping up with technology, culture and communication seems to be a challenge for the most nimble companies.  Now you have the church, tied down in a culture that simply doesn’t fit anymore.  Its as if I can hear the preachers yelling at us that where you are going is too dangerous and unknown.

Early explorers used to have a term for this.  “Where dragons lie” is the term used when marking unknown territory on maps.  These were the places that know one had been before.  These were dangerous places.  These where places “where dragons lie”.  The fear of the unknown will lock more people up than the fear of change (I would even argue that the fear of change is the fear of the unknown).  When there is unknown in play you can bet that we will leave it up to our imaginations to fill in the blanks.  “There must be dragons out there because it has never been explored.  I wonder if it is the fire breathing kind or the ‘puff the magic dragon’ types that lay out there”?

I am here to say, to anyone listening out there, that God has got this whole thing under control.  He holds the future in his hands and he is not afraid and he is asking you to trust him.  Trust him that he has YOU, your situation and your future.

There will always be people saying, “you cant do that”, or “we have never done it that way before”.  They will try and instill fear and doubt in you and even in God’s ability to take care of the future when it means changing things up in their world.

On a macro scale, the CHURCH is at a pivotal point.  People are no longer impressed with them telling us that we are trash and going to hell.  The guilt doesn’t work anymore.  The masses are starting to see God in a new light and he sounds like Jesus!  Full of hope.  Full of peace.  Full of love.  This is the new vehicle that the CHURCH must embrace and if your pastor is not saying these things then you need to really look at him or her and ask a crap ton of questions, because we become what we behold.  To say this another way, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”.  Your version (or mine) of God may be way off and we need to go back to the basics to try and imagine WHO God is and what he STANDS for.  The blueprint is in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  In the “Gospels” we finally see God’s heart and who He truly is.  We now know what is important in HIS economy of thinking.

If you your church is struggling, in financial situations and things are starting to feel desperate then it is NOT resonating with the masses.  Jesus always resonated with the masses and they wanted to hear what he had to say.  Churches need to listen up, look around and start asking the tough questions.

I don’t know about you but I am excited to see what God does in my lifetime.  What part will you play?  Will you be one of the people that scream to world that God is being ignored or is it that you are being ignored?  Will you be getting into this new vehicle of love and acceptance and looking for ways to help others or will you stand behind the person in the pulpit, throwing stones, wondering why know one wants to listen anymore?  This one is on YOU.

Till next time,

Crappy Pastor

What Miley Cyrus and Church Leadership Have In Common

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Well I’m guessing that unless you live in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan you probably have seen Miley Cyrus “twerk” her little hips off.  Yawn…did I just say something?

Oh yes, I was talking about a young girl that is confused, weak minded and lacking a compass.  You know the kind of compass I am talking about (we all have them internally lodged somewhere between your “baby maker” parts and your chest) and they are used to help guide each one of us.  This particular compass is a compass that we will call self-awareness and it is always supposed to point towards relevance (true north) and Miley’s is..well, uhmm..BROKEN!!!

The only thing more UNINTERESTING than watching Miley get her freak on is having to listen to the lazy and uninspiring “spiritual leaders” (of the evangelical movement) rant and rave about Miley twirking.  Yawn…sorry but this blog post is wearing me out.

Ok, lets cut through the crap and say out loud what many of us are thinking.  BREATH…ok here it goes…Miley Cyrus and much of the today’s church leadership have MORE in common with one another that either party would ever care to admit.

What does this mean?  Well it’s not their value system that they share but rather they both are experiencing an identity crisis.  When you don’t know WHO you are, you do things that are well…unoriginal, uncreative and confusing.  You become so desperate for acceptance that you act in ways that are counterintuitive to what you are trying to accomplish.  The other unfortunate fact is that when you have an identity crisis you surround yourself with “yes” people.  This particular fact is the one that really gets you in trouble.

Miley has surrounded herself with people that tell her what she wants to hear.  These people most often do not have her best interest at heart.  They are ticks and leaches that want to cash in a quick return and as a consequence her brand starts to diminish.  Another way of saying this is that she is not protecting her “brand” and we do not know who Miley Cyrus TRULY is.

When a person reaches icon status there are certain truths that pop up and become threads that hold them together, these commonalities are shared by ALL icons and they become their “compass” that leads them to true north.

Let’s take a look at a few icons; Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Batman, Mohammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln.  This list can go on and on but you start to realize that they are the exception and not the rule.

True icons intuitively know how to brand themselves.  To say this another way, true icons know WHO they are and WHAT they want to accomplish.  The best part about this is that if you ask anyone what a particular icon stands for they generally don’t fumble around looking for descriptive words.  Everyone generally knows what they stand for and what they want to accomplish.

This is where we can start to tie all of this together.  Miley Cyrus and church leadership share one common thread and it is not a good one.  Neither one understands who they are or what they want to accomplish.  I don’t think that I need to explain Miley and how lost she is, we saw that at the MTV Music Awards but church leadership will need a little unpacking.

If I were to go and ask people that don’t go to church, don’t want to go to church and they think it is a complete waste of time what it means to be a; Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical, non-denominational, Charismatic, Catholic your answers will all over the freakin board.  Each has their own version of who Jesus is and what He means to them.  Each denomination will swear to you that they have the REAL truth about Jesus and what He stood for.  This creates schizophrenia of sorts and the overall “brand” of Christianity becomes lost.

Standing against something is not the same as standing for something.  I learned this one the hard way.  All of those names that I mentioned above are known what they are stand FOR and not what they stand against.  Its almost as if you know what they are against by WHAT THEY ARE FOR!  True icons know how to relate their message and their vision to the masses and the best part is they know how that vision CONNECTS to every individual.

Church leadership is not known for what they stand for and I can prove it.  Jesus is the ultimate icon that stands for acceptance, benevolence, standing up for the small guy, and tolerance.  You tell me how standing against homosexuality, abortion, censorship or same sex marriage has anything to do with the adjectives that describe Jesus.  Now the argument could be made that some of these things are considered immoral by the teachings of the Bible but what did Jesus focus on?  Jesus was DANGEROUS and he was dangerous because he got in the middle of all of the shit with people.  I mean down in the trenches.  Church leadership doesn’t do this.  They separate themselves from ANYONE that thinks differently from them.

Jesus would not separate himself from others because they thought differently.  Look at his disciples, one in particular.  Matthew the tax collector was considered a traitor, trash and was quiet possibly an atheist.  Jesus not only hung out with Matthew but he brought him into his inner circle!  Another one of Jesus disciples was called the “zealot”.  This means that he was a political radical that was on the fringe.  You see, Jesus was able to see through their perspectives and ideas and LOVE them with no strings attached.  The consequences of this activity were a group of men and women that changed the whole damn world.  In the end, they were all on the same page, singing the same tune but it sure didn’t start out that way.

So what is the point?  I think that we all need to examine WHO we think we are and WHAT we think we stand for.  We need to carefully examine our lives and how we live them instead of outsourcing it to a preacher behind a pulpit.  We need to carefully examine how we live out our lives because IT MATTERS!

Ask some people today what they think your particular church stands for.  Ask some people today what you stand for.  You might be surprised by the answer if they feel safe enough to shoot straight with you.

So, as church leadership and Miley Cyrus are “twerking” their little hips off people are standing by and watching and asking questions.  They are looking for the REAL Jesus and many of them are giving up on him because of us.

Till next time,

Crappy Pastor

Einstein: Imagination vs. Knowledge

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One of my absolute favorite thinkers is Albert Einstein, well except for myself.  That sounds pretty arrogant doesn’t it?  Why on earth would I think that my imagination would be even in the same universe as his, much less the same neighborhood.  I love this quote from the crazy haired man, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”.  

Knowledge seems to be the quest for many of us in our western, Miley Cirus, culture  (although I am pretty sure that she is not in pursuit of anything other than a buck).  I think that most of us believe we will be better off with more knowledge.  It makes sense right?  The more information you have the better decisions you can make.  If this were the case then why do we have mega-pastors screwing up their careers with affairs and financial corruption?  Why do we have good-hearted people getting into politics only to be corrupted in the end?  

I don’t trust ANY politician!  

I trust very few preachers. 

It doesn’t seem that there is any limit to knowledge that preachers and politicians give us.  They all have the answers.  They think they know best, ESPECIALLY for you.  

I am picking on these two professions because they are the ones that statistically people DON’T trust.  After all, why should we?  It seems that if we arm them with a smart phone or a bible they will either be take pictures of their junk or beating you up with law! 

People are smart.  

I will say it differently, people cannot be fooled all of the time and we are living in a time when people are tired of the STUPIDITY!  Most of us are held accountable for living sane, responsible lives and these two groups of men and women are ruining people’s trust because they live as if they have little or no responsibility. 

Einstein also said, “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits”.  Stupidity seems to have no end, just turn on CNN or Fox News.  So what is the point here? 

I believe that we are created in the image of God.  For those of you new to the faith thing, that means that we carry characteristics and attributes of God.  We don’t have all of the answers but we have endless imagination.  John Lennon used his imagination in the song “Imagine” where we lived in a world that had no heaven, hell, or nations.  We are all one people living for the greater good.  That is a God given use of his imagination.  Whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant because he is using HIS imagination. 

We also know that truth is somewhat subjective because Jesus asked a religious dude a question, “…how do you read it…” as he was referring to the Torah (part of the Old Testament) because he knew that we all look at life through different lenses.  What you read may very different from what I read. 

So what does this have to do with you and I?  What is the point?  I believe that people need to use their God given imagination MORE instead of pursing knowledge.  Knowledge is not a bad thing.  We need it to understand our world and seeking God, ultimate TRUTH.  And there are some people out there that will read this and miss the point, but it is our imagination that brings about the real change in our lives. 

I imagined a life for myself in which I had a wife, kids and a profession that didn’t suck my life dry.  I imagined that I would be happy and fulfilled.  Now when reality comes crashing in and it doesn’t always measure up to our imagination then what do we do?  How do we react?  Many of us start trying to fill our lives with crap, material stuff or sexual encounters to try and bring some fulfillment. 

I have always said that the loneliest place in the world is to get everything you thought you wanted, or what some culture said you were supposed to have, and you are still empty. 

 Are you empty?  Are you married and lonely?  Are you filling your life with crap that in the end will never satisfy you? 

Most of us don’t believe others when they tell you that a “good” life, i.e.-stuff, is not all that good.  They have to experience it for themselves.  Thus the endless cycle of pastors and politicians wrecking themselves and others in their pursuit of fulfillment. 

So what does one do with this information?  I say use that imagination!  Use your imagination to bring life to your marriage.  Get creative!  Use that imagination to find peace in a world that doesn’t offer it.  “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”, is a pretty good quote.  

A different spouse or different house is not going to give you what you are looking for.  It won’t bring you fulfillment but if you use your imagination, the one that God gave you, you can use biblical principles to spark this engine to make your marriage better, your family better, your career better, your life better. 

Like I tell my kids, “you are in control of you”.  Take responsibility for YOUR life and YOURSELF and imagine a better, more fulfilled life.  Memorizing more bible verses will not give you what you are looking for but take that information (knowledge) and imagine it working in your present situation, with God leading the way, and you will truly build new worlds! 

It’s not sexy but its TRUE. 

Till next time, 

Crappy Pastor