What’s In A Name? Why “Fat Beggars School of Prophets”?

So glad you asked!

No really, one of our readers asked, and I promised to tell more about it.

If you have read here much in the past, you surely have a feel, by now, for the prophetic shaping of this ministry over the course of several years.  For those interested, I provide below a handful of links to previous posts which I think paint the over arching picture of that.

https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/a-prophet-from-hogback/

https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/the-vandelia-i-love-vignette-1/

https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/the-vandelia-i-love-vignette-2/

https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/earning-a-prophets-wage/comment-page-1/

I link these four, but could have linked many more – yet I sense just these four links will overkill the point.  In fact, there are a host of incidents and influences that shaped this ministry evermore prophetically.  And so… with many stories such as these forming a backdrop, I began attending Lubbock’s Premier Homeless church a few years ago, and I even got married in that church in a very prophetic ceremony, which you can read about here:

https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/proph-o-drama-wedding/

In fact, it was after that wedding ceremony that the executive minister of that church asked me to talk to him about Proph-O-Drama, because, I presume, the prophetic impact on those who witnessed it was powerful.  His inquiry prompted me to write a short book by the title Proph-O-Drama, however, that is not as yet a published book.

I had thought he might write it with me, but despite drafting several chapters and giving them to him, he never responded.  Yet meanwhile, I kept thinking that a homeless church in a “Christian” town like Lubbock should be engaging the community with a prophetic message from God.  After all, it just makes no sense for people to live on the streets of such a town populated, as we claim, by the people of God.

As I searched the Scriptures with these things on my mind and with the events and influences linked above as a backdrop, I found myself dealing heavily with the passage in II Kings 6:24 – 7:20 especially.  Among the various important things going on in that story, we find the beggars at the gates of Samaria eating the feast God prepares for them, and then they take the Good News of God’s victory over the enemies of God’s people to the besieged city and thus free the city and transform the national economy all in one prophetic moment.

I couldn’t help but notice that God was already in the business of employing beggars and bums as prophets when he feeds them the victory feast and convicts them to invite the people of God to join them at the King’s Table.  I could see no reason why our church was not doing pretty much exactly that!  I invited a group of homeless men to my home then where we ate a fine steak dinner and worshipped together (singing, praying, reading this passage, and sharing communion) and then asked them if they wanted to join God in this kind of service.  They all became very enthused at the notion and signed on immediately without hesitation.  At that point, we only loosely referred to our work as a “school of prophets” – much like we find among some of the Old Testament prophets.

I suppose, as far as I was concerned at least, it did not hurt (was not arrogant) to call ourselves a “school” since it lends itself to the idea that we are learning this ministry rather than masters of it.  We do not lord it over anyone that we seek a prophetic way.  We simply dare to believe that the meal we share and invite others to join is from God and that when we speak of it and act in it, such service is prophetic.

Sadly, within just a few weeks of that inaugural meal and celebration, church leadership kicked me out of the Premier Homeless church.  One of the things they listed against me was that they wanted no part of a “‘prophets’ faction”.  Apparently, despite desires to embrace this ministry in humility, we still managed to be perceived as a threat to the very church we hoped would embrace the work we saw God doing among us.  We wanted to involve the rest of the church, not threaten it – and especially not fracture it into factions.  And the fact that leadership put the term “prophets” in quotes struck me as contempt for us, and thus the God who launched us.

During the same time frame, I had also made some cardboard placards and mounted them on my bicycle, which I often rode around town and up to the Premier Homeless church throughout the week.  One of the placards announced, “The Least of These Sleeps on the Streets Tonight”.  I figured anyone who knew their Bible – and especially the famous passage in Matthew 25 about the stranger/Jesus, would recognize the meaning of that phraseology right off.  AND I figured, Lubbock would have a lot of people in the know.

I was amazed at how many homeless people chaffed at the phrase “Least of These”.  At least half a dozen times, I met homeless men who asked who that was supposed to be, and when I clarified, they all said they were not “the least” of anybody.  I got the notion that there was a lot of stubborn pride even in the lowly people of the streets!  This bothered me.  And so after several weeks of prayer and meditation, I gathered the original, inaugural men and floated the idea of calling ourselves “Fat Beggars”.

The beauty of this is how it gels with the text of II Kings 6 & 7.  The beggars are the ones eating the food and stuffing themselves until they find conviction that they should go tell the others too.  This is theologically perfect, in my view.  But of course the notion of a fat beggar is the most contemptuous kind of beggar – a NON-DESERVING BEGGAR!  I thought that if we were going to be prophets of God, we should embrace this humility – it is part of the prophet’s wage.  I was pleased to find the other men in the original group all agreed.

And that is how our name came about.  We chose the most contempt-embracing name we could and did it at just about the same time the church kicked us out.

Hmm…

Prophetic.

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8 comments

  1. T. F. Thompson · May 17

    Agent X I wonder if any of the prophets were part of the church system in those old Biblical days? I do know Jesus accused them of always killing the prophets, but I’m not aware of any such occasions.

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    • Agent X · May 17

      Tom,
      This is a great question! I love that you asked it. I will attempt a decent and reasonable answer.

      Before that, let me make two brief caveats: 1) I am shooting off the cuff here. I would imagine that if I were to research the question, my answer would be enhanced – possibly a lot. 2) I am not sure exactly what your question is asking… in somewhat of a technical sense. But I will offer some thoughts I hope will count towards the answer you are looking for.

      First off, “those old Biblical days”…

      At first blush, I think you are asking about Old Testament times, largely because those would be the prophets Jesus references when he accuses his bro’s of killing them (of course he is putting his own New Testament self in league with them).

      In my estimation, prophets were always seen somewhat outside the “system” in some important regards. Certainly the Sadducees do not regard any books outside the Pentateuch as authentic Bible (Word of God) and that cuts out all the history books, the Psalms, the Wisdom books, and of course THE PROPHETS. And we should be clear, the Sadducees were basically aristocrats.

      Now of course when I say aristocrats, wealth comes to mind, as well it should, but there are “religious” layers to that as well that modern American’s are not apt to consider. So I want to make sure that is bookmarked. But other than that, we can obviously see that they benefited greatly from “the system” as it was and did not want to rock the boat with pesky prophet business. Also, the prophets introduce us to the idea of RESURRECTION. And it helps if you see that “doctrine” (or whatever you want to call it) as REVOLUTIONARY. And of course, aristocrats always oppose revolution!

      But there is more, and some of it puts this in tension.

      Consider the Kings’ wise men. All kings and presidents have them. Today we call them cabinet or advisors. Pharaoh called his magicians. When Jesus was born, wise men came to join his court too (a prophetic way of saying he was born to be king, btw). And sometimes kings employed prophets (See the story of Baalam’s Ass among others). And certainly King David employed Nathan to be his advisor!

      But this is tricky because once a prophet is on the king’s payroll, there is both a pressure and a tendency to color the word a prophet receives to be favorable to the king’s wishes whether that be legit or not. And so, while there is not a one-to-one ratio of royal employment and false prophecy, there is a strong tendency for it. And the Bible knows this. Nathan bucks this trend!

      Elijah does business with the king as well, but he lives like a criminal! And that is a little more the norm, but with these exceptions floating around. But of course the trend is strong, and when Jesus claims that Israel kills the prophets, no one is ignorant of what he means. All are aware of the phenom, no matter where they come down on it.

      However, you did not specify Old Testament prophets.

      In First Corinthians, St Paul makes mention of prophets in the church! And when dealing with spiritual gifts, he ranks prophecy as higher than speaking in tongues. St Paul obviously values prophets in the church (which we might call “the system” in some sense). In fact St Paul even tells us we SHOULD desire prophecy! (I Cor. 14:1). If this is the case, we should all desire either to prophesy a word from God for the church or at least to hear the prophesied word from God. But as is so often the case, that is not actually an easy word, and should not automatically endorse all church agendas and wishes. But it is entirely okay and good, though obviously in tension with authentically speaking for God instead of the payroll, for a prophet to be part of “the system” in that sense.

      I hope this helps.

      God bless you, and thanx so much for raising the issue and asking about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. T. F. Thompson · May 17

    Agent X Yes, I was speaking of Old Testament Thank you for your response.

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  3. LoiterLarry · May 17

    Good night, X! Are you masochist? You just always got to take on the pain or shame don’t you?

    Is there any joy in your faith? Peace? Relief?

    It just seems like you leave no stones unturned when it comes to pain. And I listen to you talk, I read your blog, and all that stuff, and I get it. You make sense, most of the time, whether I agree with you or not. But then every now and then I really think I know why people don’t listen to you more. They don’t want all this needless pain in their lives. But you are just relentless.

    That’s all I have to say. Go ahead and rip me a new one now.

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    • Agent X · May 17

      Okay…. Larry!

      At least I can see you are paying attention.

      No, I assure you I am no masochist. I certainly get no sex thrill out of pain! Let me be clear.

      On the contrary, I see Jesus embrace pain, and I do my best to follow his lead. But it is no thrill ride. There is no pain that is worthwhile in and of itself. Not that I can imagine. And in fact I fear pain, just like the next guy. But I see that no one gets through this life pain-free. That is a myth put out there by the consumerist commission of free capitalism. Every little elixir on offer is supposed to not only make everything right (from growing hair to growing penises) but also takes away pain, shame, and food stains. It is the promise of Empire that if you pay the tax, they will keep you “safe” from pain.

      But here is a little bit of wisdom they don’t put in the manual: Suffering, among other surprisingly good benefits, makes a fairly good measuring stick for LOVE. And that is the real power behind the pain. Suffering is a cost, but, as the Hebrews writer tells us, there is a JOY set before Jesus that makes it all worth it (Heb. 12:1-2). And I don’t know about you, but if I am going to live in a world where pain runs rampant anyway, and often enough affects me anyway, I both don’t want to support the lie and do want to know what joy is worth that price Jesus paid!

      Have you ever read that passage and asked : What JOY is worth that?

      Have you ever read the medical exegesis of the Messiah’s crucifixion? Where the Doctor gives a medical breakdown of the blow by blow depiction the Gospels report? Jesus being struck in the head with many blows, taunted, whipped and scourged til his back is raw hamburger meat, and then the nails – Oh God the nails! But the nails don’t actually kill a crucified victim. No. They just tack the person to the cross. The cross slowly suffocates its victim, but only after a strapping farm boy gives up pushing and pulling against the nails to take leverage and get a breath. And a strapping farm boy, or even a young carpenter, can likely do this for a few days! And every gasp gotten comes as that whipped scarred back drags against the splinters of an old rugged cross. And in the case of Jesus, he finds the strength in his LOVE to forgive those who did this to him. He finds words of grace in the midst of that! And I want to know what JOY is worth THAT???

      WHAT JOY IS WORTH THAT???

      Do you hear me LARRY?

      Am I getting through? I am not in it FOR THE PAIN. No, I am scared to death of the pain. But I have this strange belief that there is this JOY that is so big, this world can’t contain it. And I want to know it.

      Now, having said all that… it’s not like pain is some magic key to the joy. It is not like that. But LOVE is demonstrated in suffering. Not just any old suffering, and not necessarily severe suffering either, but a willingness to suffer for others and for THE NAME. So, these things are related, but in this more roundabout and robust way. A mother has birth pains, and no one loves her children like she does! (Yes, there are exceptions, but that is the rule.)

      Isaiah prophesied about that suffering servant. God had this in the plan all along. Jesus came to fulfill that plan and take up the role of that suffering servant. But he did not do it for the love of pain or any such nihilist notions. He did it for the LOVE of God and of God’s people. And he did it for THE JOY set before him.

      SET BEFORE him. Not that the pain was a joy, but that the joy was on the otherside of the pain. The pain was the measure and expression of his LOVE. He bore the pain deserved by others so that he could express the depths of his LOVE.

      NT Wright tells us about how a fox in the wild gets rid of its fleas. The fox gets a tuft of wool in its snout and then goes to the water’s edge at the stream. The fox slowly backs into the water… slowly so the fleas can move to the dry fur. As more and more of the fox submerges, the fleas begin to concentrate on the neck and head and move toward the snout. Eventually, the snout with the tuft of wool is the only dry part remaining above the surface, and the fleas all gather on that wool for all they are worth! At that point the fox spits out the wool which drifts down stream while it comes out the otherside clean.

      In this scenario, Jesus plays the role of the wool, taking the pain of the world on himself.

      How would a homeless minister prophetically implement this? Don’t you think he would model it for the church God has called to be the Body of this same Christ in the world? I do.

      And I make no claim to have done it well, but that is my aim. And I leave no stones unturned because I am driven to LOVE and follow this Master Prophet, the Messiah Jesus and do what he does, God help me, the best I can.

      There… is that a new one ripped?

      Liked by 1 person

      • LoiterLarry · May 17

        Great response. I was hoping if I put of the Devil’s Advocate salt on my remarks that I might get you worked up and preaching. Thank you for your feedback. You rightly say that suffering is a measure for love and that there is not innate virtue in the suffering but in the joy to be had after enduring it. I agree.

        Sorry if I offended.

        God bless you,
        Agent X

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      • Agent X · May 17

        Larry,

        No offense taken. We go back a long time. I really figured you were itching for a juicy response, so I tried to deliver.

        Don’t worry about it.

        X

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    • T. F. Thompson · May 17

      Larry, wtf kind of question is that. If you have any claim against a person, then make it against me. I am guilty, but not my friend. Speak to me on it.

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