Sunday, April 22, 2012


~For You Fellow Old People Out There~

I was given a great compliment this week by my Daughter Sarah. She posted this picture on Facebook and said. "Thanks for teaching me this..." I wrote back and told her that was the best compliment she could have given me.

I have always had a very critical mind, some would call it skeptical. It has always bothered me that so many people hold positions and beliefs that they heard somewhere and decided, I like that. They do absolutely no research to determine if it is true, false or something in between.

I have taught my kids that unless you can, with equal passion and knowledge, argue both sides of an issue -- you don't understand the issue. We live in an age of sound bites, half truths and a very ignorant audience. I love when Jay Leno goes out on one of his "Jay Walks". He asks people very simple questions and the answers are often very funny, yet sad. I understand that these people are picked because they gave the best clueless answer, but does it matter? The video below is more than just funny, it is extremely revealing - I suggest you watch it.

What is true in regards to history is also true with people of faith. In my experiences, many Christians know a few Bible stories but cannot tell you where those stories are found in the Bible. They believe in Jesus, yet have no idea if there is any actual historical evidence of his life, death, burial and resurrection. A large number of Christians know a few "proof-texts" that they learned in Sunday School, yet have no concept of how those texts fit into the context of what was written. When a person quotes a verse to me to justify a belief, I ask them to close their Bible and tell me what the paragraph is saying before that verse. I am not attempting to be a know-it-all, I simply believe a large number of Christians are Biblically illiterate. Their belief structures are based more on American virtues than what is found in the Bible. I have heard sections of the Constitution, quotes from Shakespeare and even movies quoted as Biblical verses. 

I remember when I was minister in the San Francisco Bay Area. A group of students from a Christian College wanted to come to our congregation to evangelize students at U.C. Berkeley. We had a nightly event on campus to discuss Christianity and they were inviting people to attend. While walking around Cal, I saw a one of the Christian College students crying. I asked her what happened? She said, "They don't believe in the Bible!" My unspoken response was "Duh!" I wound up talking to her and explained that most people she would encounter don't believe in the Bible. I can only describe her response as total horror. She had been raised in a Christian home in the "Bible-Belt"; it was inconceivable that people would question the Bible.

So, as we move along in a postmodernism culture. Have we really prepared the next generation to be people of faith? I wrote recently, we are losing the next generation to "spirituality" -- which is true. The congregation I attend, here in Reno, is viewed as being too rational. Yet, I see people of all ages who know why they believe what they believe. Questions are always allowed and we may disagree on some of the answers, but we still view each other as fellow citizens of the Kingdom of God. Or minister, Gary Cage PhD, has done a great job to make our congregation as a place where truth is pursued. If you are exploring the background of Christianity, I would recommend a link on our congregational website:

If nothing else, I would ask you to question everything you read or hear. Research it and find what is true.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson


Sunday, April 15, 2012


~Please Give This Song a Listen~


For those of us in the West, that is a difficult task. Listening has become a lost art in our culture. We are constantly bombarded by noise and distractions. We have radios, TV's, the Internet, cell phones, email, texts and relationships. The closest we often come to listening to someone is when they are talking, and we are thinking of what we are going to say. We are so consumed by what is happening around us that we often miss what is going on around us. Their is an old adage, "God gave you two ears and one mouth - use them proportionally"

Back during the days of the Marriage Enrichment Seminars, they would have couples write out their feelings to each other. The reason behind this exercise was to allow a person to completely express their feelings without interruption. As you would read what was being said to you, in a separate room, you were not allowed to stop and get defensive, argue or roll your eyes. It was a method of getting people to listen to what the other person was trying to communicate with you. Many people came away from this experience, even after decades of marriage, saying, "I had no idea you felt that way".

My guess is that if we could stop and listen, we would realize how much we are missing. Those who know me, know I am actually an introvert. When I am in front of a crowd I am animated and very extroverted, yet I am a very solitary person. In groups I will often sit back, listen and watch. Coming from such an abusive family, I learned very early how to read emotions in people. Those who survived those environments picked that skill up early in life. I have come to realize that, for the most part, people are more concerned with talking and getting their point across than hearing what another person has to say. This is destroying marriages, relationships with parents and children, relationships in general, work conditions and even countries. We just don't listen anymore!

It also affects us as individuals. We have so much going on that we are often stressed out of our minds. As I said earlier, we are bombarded. There is no "off" switch to stop the noise. When people are talking with us, we have trouble staying focused. Our minds are filled with politics, taxes, house payments, wars and rumors of wars. The video above was put together for the people of Haiti that was devastated by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded. We heard the headline, but it was drowned out by the hundreds or thousands of other things bombarding our minds. In the midst of all of this clutter, we may have missed our spouse trying to express the pain they are feeling. We may have missed a child saying they wished you could be around more. Maybe we missed the still quiet voice of God asking us to slow down.  

I know that suggesting another thing be added to your schedule is insane. I would suggest that you try at least one or two of the following:
  1. Set aside a few minutes each day for quiet.
  2. When talking with another person, actually listen to what they are saying. Don't be thinking of what your are going to say back to them.
  3. Take a step back from Social Media. No one cares if you post "like" to a comment.
  4. If you have kids, listen to them. Ask them how they are feeling.
  5. Try an not get sucked into our consumer driven society - be thankful for what you already have.
  6. Actually spend time talking and listening to that significant person in your life.
  7. You don't have to be an authority on every current event happening on the planet.
  8. Spend some time listening to God.
Maybe this is the best advice:

"Be still and know that I am God..."
(Psalm 46:10)

Or you can this route:

Monday, April 9, 2012


~A Thought Provoking Spoken Word. You May Agree or Disagree 
- But Don't Forget to Think.~

I am aware there will be many who will pick apart what this young man has to say, but he is summarizing what a generation is thinking and asking. (Please read my earlier blog - Losing My Religion.) Newsweek had this cover for their "Easter Issue". When I saw the topic, I must admit I expected another attack on Christianity. However, when I read the article by Andrew Sullivan, I found it thought provoking and worth some time thinking about what he wrote.

The article was entitled, Christianity in Crisis with this being the sub-headline:
"Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests and get-rich evangelists. Ignore them, writes Andrew Sullivan, and embrace Him,(Jesus)"  

Andrew starts by referencing Thomas Jefferson's Bible. For those not familiar with it, Jefferson painstakingly cut out what he interpreted as the actual teachings of Jesus Christ. He then took those sections and assembled them into a smaller, different New Testament. He removed what he considered to be misconceptions of the teachings of Jesus. He referred to them as the diamonds in a dunghill. He referred to those diamonds as:

"the most sublime and benevolent code of morals 
which has ever been offered to man."

I am currently reading Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did and Why It Matters, by N.T. Wright. N.T. (Ted) Wright is an Anglican Bishop and professor of Theology. He believes we have completely missed the message of Jesus. I would highly recommend you take a look at his book. (I put a link at the bottom so you can find it)

There is a crisis hitting Christianity. As I said in the earlier blog referenced, we are losing our kids. We are losing them to "Spirituality" - that may sound good, but it is dangerous. While many are dropping faith to embrace a rational and scientific based atheism or agnosticism, others are looking to multiple disciplines of spirituality. Many have been drawn to Eastern teachings like Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga and others. Some are exploring Native American teachings and others the New Age. Jesus is seen as just one of a large group of enlightened teachers. 

One of the interesting aspects of this shift is that it is not congruent. Many of these disciplines actually conflict with the others. Yet, it appears to have become a spiritual smorgasbord; you pick what feels right, or resonates, and ignore the parts you don't like. The apparent contradictions don't matter, if it feels right - go for it. 

Now on the other hand we see the church. Wracked with clergy hypocrisy, priests abusing children and then hidden by the Catholic Church. Then there are the get-rich-televangelists; preaching to their flocks God will reward them if they can donate them them. Reports of huge mansions, private jets, fleets of limos and millions of dollars - not to the flock but to the pitch person who seems to be the only one prospering.

So is the church evil? Not necessarily. A few hundred years after the death of Jesus the church had a paradigm shift -- It became a political power. It is still a political power. With our election drawing near, we have contraception being discussed by Republicans. We even have the President quoting Jesus to justify his healthcare program. Churches and Christian para-church organizations are funding Super-Pacts to support various politicians.

Jesus was apolitical. He called on his followers to give up power over others. Having that power will eventually lead to the use of violence, and we have all seen how well religion and violence has worked out. Look at Jesus' final apolitical act:

  1. Jesus did not defend his innocence at trial.
  2. Jesus never resisted his crucifixion.
  3. Jesus turned to the men nailing him to the cross and forgave and loved them.
Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is made up of people who have surrendered to the will of God and have asked Him the reign in their hearts. Maybe, if we would focus on the Kingdom rather than  man-made buildings and corporate structures. If we truly decided to read what Jesus preached and lived it -- we wouldn't be losing our kids. The Kingdom says to love one another and even love your enemies. It calls us to forgive those who harm you. It calls us to find the best in people. It is the reign of God in your heart -- Yes, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU! This is where N.T. Wright's book comes into play.

The purpose of the church was to have a group to encourage each other to have that kind of heart. Let us lay aside the bickering over doctrine, the gossiping and maligning of others and religious elitism.

Let's Pray That God is at the Center of our Hearts
and that we can begin to act like Jesus.


Thursday, April 5, 2012


~This week's blog is a bit different. I am not offering advice, but seeking advice.~

I have often compared life to a journey down a road. It is a one way road and we come to various forks -- these are choices we make. Down this road I have made numerous choices over six decades. Some were good and wise, others were bad and stupid. I have walked with God and I have walked away from God. By His grace, I am back walking with him.

Last summer I started writing this blog to share my failures and successes in an attempt to be a Help in Time of Need. So far, I have had over 15,000 hits on my page from 6 continents and from countries I couldn't pick out on a map. I have corresponded with numerous readers and I hope I was of some help. I also just launched a webpage at, . I still hope I can be of help to people who are hurting.

I have now come to a fork in the road. I have a good job, in this economy that is a blessing, yet I am drawn to be more involved in ministry. I would like to be able to teach, preach and listen to people on a daily basis. I am thankful to have an advanced degree in Theology, yet I work as a telecommunications engineer. I guess I am looking for a church or para-church organization that would want to reach out to the people who have left God or never have known God. An accepting body of believers that would allow me to minister from a position of brokenness and reconciliation. 

I will turn 60 in October, so my long term goals have become somewhat short term goals. Even though I love my job, I would like to know I did more than save people 50% on their phone bill.I am not asking for a job, but advice. Maybe this Internet thing is where God wants me, I don't know. I would just like some advice.

May God Richly Bless You,