What DIFFERENCE Does This Blog Make?

I have an ongoing conversation with 2 (sometimes more) blog readers and a fellow minister in the field.  The conversation varies a bit in depth and content with each, but I am talking specifically about a conversation in which Jesus vis-à-vis the homeless and the church is the topic.  In these few individuals, I get a fair bit of regular feedback (making it a conversation).  Of all the others who stop by here to look (whether regularly, once in a while, or just one time), I get very little feedback – beyond a “like”.  Sometimes… but usually not much.

One of my blog readers and I speak frequently about whether we are making a difference in the world with our blogs.  It FEELS like we have joined a vanity club where we basically “like” each other’s stuff, and where that is about the extent of our “difference” in the world.  This is ironic for a blog that purposefully stinks (see this post for more on that https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/if-my-blog-stinks/comment-page-1/).

“Like”…. What does it mean?

Probably it means someone likes your post.  But that is a bit broad.  It almost certainly (though possibly not) means that person actually read your post.  There was something favorable about it, but that really could be as little as stroking your ego in hopes that you will come stroke mine.  It could mean the post deeply inspired a reader or brought profound conviction.  That, however, would suppose a bit more response in the comments or by email, so… it is not all that likely.

So, I wonder…

If you read here, have you found something challenging?  Convicting?  Inspirational?  Encouraging?

I would love to find a homeless person responding saying, “Your blog gives me hope, and makes me feel valued.  I bear the image of God, and there is no greater vocation.”  – Yeah.  I would love that!  I would love it if a reader responded saying, “I have read here a bit, and I see where our church could be doing so much more to serve Jesus among the homeless….”  – Yeah.  I would really love that!!!

But I think if those things were happening, I would get that feedback unsolicited.  And after two years without getting such feedback, I am wondering what difference this blog actually makes.  It is time, it seems, for such assessment.  I don’t write here just to write or collect “likes”.  I write here because I was encouraged to get on the grid with my message after years of refusing to get on the grid with it.  Those encouraging me to do that seemed very insightful and sure it would make a difference.  As far as getting on the grid is concerned, this is as far as I want to go seeking limelight.  I do not seek personal notoriety.  I seek that proverbial “difference”, and I am wondering if this is the way to go about it.

There are other avenues of service I am actively involved in and pursuing.  This is not the only one.  And for that matter, I could go back to printing my “Revolutionary Rag” for the streets.  I really think I was reaching Lubbock’s homeless by that method with far greater frequency and depth.  (Stories on that by request.)

So, I am open to the opinion(s) of others.  Does anyone care?  I am open to opinions that I might normally resist, but I want to hear them… if they are out there.

Any thoughts?

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32 comments

  1. T. F. Thompson · June 19

    In fact, I do believe another approach is in keeping with our end goals. I think a multiple approach through the media is in order consisting of photos, video, audio alone as well and the written word. We are competing with too much with the written word alone. At any rate, another approach should be considered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · June 19

      I know you want to take this message to a bigger venue with Facebook Skype and what have you… I am reluctant to even be on the web, though. I really want to be the little guy. I don’t want to be too friendly, too user-friendly, too easy to “get along with” and so forth. My brothers and sisters on the streets are little people. I speak for them. I join them.

      When I was part of the Premier Homeless Church, I remember when they would host power lunch meetings for the conglomerate organization(s) from various churches and agencies around town. I often would be there at the church building offering my one-on-one ministry (or one-on-a dozen as the case sometimes was). Actually that church had a stated policy of inviting people to come down to the complex “just to be with” the homeless. And I took full advantage of that invitation!

      But anyways, so I would be there praying or studying with a few street people who lingered and languished around the place all day and night when suddenly some of these important charity people would show up for the power lunch. They might even have the lunch catered or would bring in their brown bags or whatever. But invariably, the pastor would send all the street people out of the building and lock the door while the charity people ate lunch and discussed their strategies etc.

      The first couple of times I was there for this, the pastor or his wife informed me that I could stay and eat and join the discussion if I wanted. But that is not what I went there for. I went there to minister to the poor. And when the poor got kicked out so the rich could talk about them, I went out with the poor into the hot or cold (which ever it was depending on the time of year) and I joined them in the elements.

      I chose to be among the poor. It was my whole reason for joining that church. I did not join it so I could be part of the management or be a big shot. I wanted to elevate the poor PERSONALLY, not kick them out so I could eat a catered meal they were not invited to while we supposedly discussed how we would “help” them.

      Wow! Aint that ironic? Talk about When Helping Hurts???

      Anyway, this is my mentality. Thanx for suggesting more, but unless God shows me otherwise, I strongly sense that I am already going over my humility just by being on the web at all.

      That said, I am open to hearing your case – especially if you demonstrate that God wants me to go that direction.

      But that will be an uphill push, I must tell you. For Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Jim and Tammy Faye all went that way, and I don’t see the world being one ounce better for their trouble, but I sure do see rich powerful ministers ingratiating themselves with great risk of Pride before the Fall. Not that I would ever compare, but why take even one step that direction?

      Like

      • T. F. Thompson · June 24

        There is a big, big difference from us in reference to Joel Osteen, et al. Neither you nor I are in anything for the money. Our purpose, as you already know, is to bring as many into the fold as possible for if it were up to God, ‘none would perish.’
        That means we take as many approaches as necessary to bring them in: to education and to preach the Gospel.
        Even if it meant dressing up like a strawberry, tapping my feet and singing, ‘Let’s make a deal,’ …. I would do it if it saved souls.
        In short, Agent X, I know you well enough to know that your motives are pure motives on behalf of God and also know we must reach more. With that being said, it then also means we have to do all that we can do to muster up a crowd for the benefit of our Lord, Jesus.
        If by the written word, then so we write…
        If by verbal word, then we speak…
        And if by video, web, speaking and preaching, then we do whatever we must…
        So yes, we have scammers out there. But, I’ll let God judge them. Our ways are not their ways…that really should be enough said. All to the praise and Glory to God.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · June 24

      Tom! (I have been wondering…) So glad to see you still in action.

      You rightly point out the HUGE Osteen difference. You rightly point out that God is not willing that any perish and we are obligated to join him and work for the Kingdom cause. I especially love the bit about dressing up like a strawberry! I have posted before about embracing humility and shame and about my own personal exercise of doing that kind of thing. I should write more about that kind of stuff, I think.

      You rightly point out that you and I neither one are in this FOR THE MONEY. (So I quibble with you on the bit about singing “Let’s make a deal…” Change the content, and I am back on board though….)

      I thank you – let me say that a little louder – THANK YOU – for honoring my motives as pure. That means a lot to me. That is some real praise, I think.

      I think you could have said we are obligated to be all things to all people and made much the same point – and would be tapping into Scripture to do it. (Placing my ministry in the realm of Scripture carries WEIGHT with me.)

      I am not actually worried about being lumped in with scammers. I use the name Christian all the time, as does the haters of Westboro Baptist – and I feel sure those folx believe they honor God doing their hate thing. In fact I envy their tenacity. I cant imagine currying as much ill will from the public as they do in service of ANYthing or ANYone except Jesus. And I am sure, quite sure, that homosexuality is sinful and that killing for our vain country is too. So, I actually go a fair way with them before I step back from their program. But of course, I think God LOVEs fags and wants to woo them back to his heart and kingdom cause – not hate. But I point this out because I use the name Christian just as they do, AND that lumps me in with them in a LOT of people’s thinking. I cannot separate that out so cleanly. Thus I accept it. This goes for the Osteen bunch too.

      I will let God sort them out in Judgment. I cannot do that. I have strong critique for them, but I still call them brother/sister. And I am lumped in with them in the public square.

      I keep aiming small. Always have. This ministry is a mustard seed. What will God do with it? That is the question… not so much what will I do, but what will God do?

      I resist moving to audio/visual speaking, Facebook, and other media because it aims big. I think that is ironic, but it keeps me humble, and that is very important to me.

      Do you see me doing WRONG by aiming small?

      btw, I am so thrilled you engage me this way! I really want to be argued – especially like this. I am open to reason. However, up to this point, I don’t see the reason that changes my mind. But I am open to more thoughts on this from Tom or any reader here.

      Thanx for this!

      Liked by 1 person

      • T. F. Thompson · June 25

        I don’t think you should aim small at all. Yes, in the beginning, but you are mature and seasoned and now it’s time to grow. time for God’s church to grow as well. The good thing about it as well is that you and I want God’s church to grow in a Godly way. This is all good. However, I also want to remind you: I think you forget this at times but you and I are also the least of them, the same as they are. Be sure to include US. That means the Christ that dwells in us is GREAT. Okay, so then we have to live with it as humble as we attempt to claim. “Methinks she protests too much…” All we should be doing is instructing in what we know is right. Aside from the words of our beloved scriptures, we have the doing. The church as we know it teaches how to understand the knowledge of the scriptures, and we want to instruct on the obedience by doing. One which is weaker is intellectual: the other is experiential: the living truth in performance. I say, now is the time to give it all we’ve got. As always, thank you for your thoughtful reply.

        Like

  2. LoiterLarry · June 19

    You make a difference in this town, I think. It may not be as dramatic as you wish. Or maybe God has the long view and you don’t see your place in it. But I saw the malarkey that passes for homeless ministry in this town and tried to confront it myself. Then I met you and that guy who used to work for Restoring Hope. I saw you guys hold people’s feet to the fire. They have the financial clout to blow you off, but they know they mistreat the poor and make a lot of money doing it. You are the voice of their conscience that they work very hard to ignore and to drown out.

    “Open Door”? Really??? What a crock! If that door is so open, then why are you not working in that ministry? Why did you get kicked out? It was because you dared to insist that door be opened. If that door is really opened now, then someone should find you and try to persuade you to return because that was your whole case. Now they use those words in vain like a cover up.

    But really, it’s not this one group. There is a city-wide collusion going on here. I am not saying there is a conspiracy or a plot. I think most of the pastors and Christians of this town just passively play along and never admit to themselves or God that they are feeding this lie.

    As you say so often (at least in private), there are good things happening amid the homeless ministries of this town. Its not all bad. But there is something stinky going on despite that. If everything was on the up and up, then you would be included for starts, and I would think that with a million dollars, we could effectively end chronic homelessness in Lubbock – if we really wanted to.

    So, yeah. You give voice to the voiceless in that regard. It is the whole reason I read here and comment here. I play a small part in that voice. And I think you bring the Word of God. And that is not in vain, even if we can’t always see the fruit it bears.

    I hope you will take the long view into account as you assess things.

    Larry.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · June 19

      Thanx Larry, I know I can count on you. Ever since I met you and Dave and Sue, I have been blessed with a group of like-minded people. Sorry, Dave and Sue don’t participate any more. But you care, I know you do. And your encouragement helps me. Always has.

      Its funny you mention the “voice of the voiceless”. That is a phrase I have never used and always felt was a bit overblown. But I remember hearing leadership at the homeless church making poo poo of that phrase a few years ago. “Everybody wants to be the voice for the voiceless” or something like that. I actually did not know that is from a verse in the Bible – in Proverbs. I have since learned. Different translations will render it slightly different, so I had not recognized it. But then in recent months, I have found even fellow bloggers downplaying it. I find that odd, especially since it is found in God’s Word!

      But still, it is a phrase I have never used, and so I find it funny that you use it of me now.

      Thanx for your support.

      X

      Like

  3. Larry Who · June 19

    I write because I feel the Lord wants me to do it. So, if no one else reads it or comments or likes my writing, that’s no problem to me because I want to please an audience of One. This takes the pressure off me and sets me free.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · June 19

      There is no doubt that God’s opinion matters most. But I used to reach out in a more direct manner on the streets over the years, and since blogging, I find myself further and further away MOST of the time. I care just as much as always, but I rarely go out anymore.

      I used to publish The Fat Beggars Spot, a Revolutionary Rag. It was a little like a church bulletin FOR THE STREETS. And I could circulate it among the homeless by putting it in their hands and getting them to pass them around. I even met a guy once, I gave a lift to a hitcher, who when he got in my car and we started talking he said, “Your Agent X! I know you. I read your rag!” And then he quoted back to me some story I had published. It was great. That was real feedback! I miss that kind of connection.

      Anymore, I have you and a few other regular readers all over the nation, but the streets of Lubbock go largely unaffected by my blog… it seems. That said, I am still asking WHAT DIFFERENCE does this blog make? Does it make a difference to you? If so, what?

      I suppose that even if my long distance readers tell me it makes a difference in their lives, then I will find that to be useful. But if no one does, then I find it useless. and I have plenty of other things to do.

      Thanx so much for your response! It is always welcome and wanted here.

      X

      Like

  4. Brother D · June 19

    I wrestle with the same question regarding my postings on my blogs. Here’s my thoughts. You are confirming what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. I’m homeless. I’m trying to get housing and create more rescue missions all with no income, no budget, and very few like minded people. However, when I take the time to read your posts from Lubbock up here in Portland, Oregon I am relieved. At least I’m not alone. Father’s House City Ministries here is very missional and does weekly outreach to the homeless. They even built a tiny home for one couple that is cleaning up their own tent city. The change has to come from the people not the establishment. God is changing people’s hearts so keep up the good fight. At the very least, you get things off your chest so you don’t have to stew on them. I took done a ton of my posts because I thought my tone was too harsh, too direct, and perhaps it puts people on the defensive. Being prophetic makes it easy to get straight to the point. I’m learning the art of pulling the truth out of people with questions instead of just giving away all the answers for free. We need to take ownership of all the issues in our society. The Church is meant to be pure and spotless, the true expression of the Divine nature. It’s a long, tough road, but be encouraged, you are on the right track. May the Lord give you influence among the influencers. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen and amen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · June 20

      Thanx Brother D,

      Your response gives traction to this question.

      It’s funny. I had several people encourage me for a long time to start this blog. I used to keep blogs more than a decade ago and had several and participated in others. Eventually I gave them all up and thought I would never come back. But I had this encouragement from a few.

      It was Agent B who really put me over the edge with it. I was influenced by (and I think left influence with) Agent B many years ago. He was into “homeless” ministry long before I was. And he was kicked out of the church where he served down in Abilene, Texas (where I went to school, btw). He continued to dream of ramping up that ministry again for years, yet it went underground mostly. God used him in some strange ways. He even gave up his job, but then bought a house trusting God with it. Raised a family and a whole lot of strange things that tested his own faith to the limits.

      He also spoke out on behalf of the poor and homeless of his town. But it appears that after all those years, he made no difference in the faith community around him. Not that I can see. I don’t know if he saw any. I am aware that he wound up making some long distance friends through the blog and I think some of those important friendships were found in Boston, MA. I know he traveled there for a convention of sorts. But disillusioned by the church, B wound up leaving church and we developed an argument between us over it.

      I am a churchman. B wound up rejecting church. B had (still has) all this profound evidence for what a sorry lot the church turns out to be. I only have the words of Jesus (and St. Paul in some places). Words like, “On this rock I build my church, and the Gates of Hell will not withstand it!” If we can trust Jesus, we can trust those words. But that is trust against all the evidence.

      If my blog gives encouragement to a fellow minister in the field of homeless ministry, especially since I think my experience is SOOOOOOOO common in these regards, then I am encouraged greatly to see there is a difference made – even if small. And I am encouraged that big plants come from small mustard seeds.

      Thanx for responding.

      Your comment here is meaningful.

      As I discuss this stuff with Tom, frequently, I realize that “stats” are important. It is important that SOMEBODY read a blog at least SOME of the time. But the point, of course, is far deeper than numbers on a stat counter. I am looking for the proverbial “DIFFERENCE”, or even the numbers don’t matter.

      Thanx for blessing this post with your response.

      X

      Liked by 1 person

      • T. F. Thompson · June 25

        Let’s see with another attempt if I can explain this better.
        In a word, I want, desire change. I want to break down the effects, the harsh chains of tradition that exists within our churches. I want this as presently, I see the churches losing on the side of an immoral culture within our society as a nation and then again within the world as a whole.
        I believe when we want effective change then we should witness the example as provided by Jesus.
        First: Jesus came to this earth to be one of us. He was one of us (the Son of Man)
        Aside from his power, Jesus utilized whatever elements that were immediately around him to carry out change…catching fish, healing with spittle, healing by raising status of faith, scripture, words of parables, words of logic, kindness, forgiveness….mostly of service to others. His great example of power through His love.
        And if we too, as the living church of God: our body is the tabernacle that houses the ark and entrance to the Holy of Holies to meet God—-And this exchange is done whenever we pray and when we embrace those who are the least of them—then this is an exercise not to be taken lightly. A man could killed in the Holy of Holies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        So yes. This body, this part of the church (me) will yell, holler, and do whatever it takes to show others the message you and I believe emulates from our Master, the Lord Jesus.
        And the point to bring all these people to the feast: to bring all to the table where we can eat together, I believe we should utilize whatever means possible. That includes all the media, all of ourselves for look:
        That same culture is employing the totality of all those tools, the media and is winning the war. And yes, they may win: but for me: I refuse to let them win completely without a fight.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · June 25

        Okay, Tom, I hear you. I don’t believe I am misunderstanding you at all. However, if you think I need further clarification, I will listen to your reason.

        I get that you are passionate about this. I respect you deeply. And because of these things, I will take TIME to pray on it and consider your argument again carefully.

        At this time, I promise you that. But I do not promise more.

        KEEP IN TOUCH!

        Like

  5. Melissa Presser, Lover of Jesus · June 20

    I have asked myself the same thing many times and have found that a lot of other faith bloggers do the same. I have had various blogs (as the Lord has led me) and with each one came to a new level of understanding in the faith. Very recently I asked myself again whether or not I should continue with the blog. You look at stats or likes and it seems nobody is reading or just a select few. I too have a great little group of blogging friends and I also thought they may be the only one’s reading, that is until recently.

    On this question, I have learned that this is truly a seeking of God’s will. We don’t know who we will touch with our words and may never get an email or comment that encourages us. When I pondered whether or not to leave the blogging world, God showed himself to me once again, that I was supposed to be here. I had a persecutor of the faith send me some emails confirming many people were reading my writing. It was odd and not what I expected. People who hate me reading my “Christian” writing? But isn’t that straight out of the gospels? God turns up in unimaginable ways, beyond our comprehension and understanding. Pray for God’s will in all of this. If He doesn’t move you, you’re supposed to be here.

    -M

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · June 20

      Thanx Melissa.

      You are correct. Pretty much all bloggers make this kind of assessment sooner or later. Faith bloggers dare to attend to God’s business with their blogs. Trusting him with it is at the heart of it. I put it in his hands. Thanx for that encouragement.

      X

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mike Ridenour · June 20

    I started typing out a huge response to this but it really comes down to one thing.

    Words always make a difference, beyond what we can understand.

    I have a friend that still has notes he took on a sermon I preached when I was in college and reads them over and over again.

    I was young and dumb and I am amazed that those words made any difference to anyone at all.

    I know that a lot of my words have hurt and damaged others. I realize now, that hurt goes much deeper than I ever could have thought.

    No matter where you put your words, they are making a mark as long as one person reads or hears them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · June 20

      Thanx Mike,

      It is true. The words leave some kind of impact somewhere even if we cant measure it. And kinda like Loiter Larry says, it is possible the real impact (or even the desired impact – if I dare) could come years from now. Perhaps after I am dead and gone.

      I cant help but think that the Agent B Files are still out there floating around in cyberspace. I am aware that a few people reading here have stopped by to check out that old blog. I imagine that if anyone took it serious, they would need to hunt through it extensively to find what might be meaningful to them now, and that is highly unlikely, BUT it is entirely possible.

      I certainly recall the post that first drew me to Agent B where he wrote about Johnny Schitzo. A homeless man who tended to irritate others he was friends with but how, as in the case of Abe Vigoda, premature rumors of his demise sent the whole homeless community into mourning! Then he showed up like as if back from the dead. Everyone celebrated briefly and then went right back to business as usual and shunned the guy.

      What can I say, I was touched by the authentic account of it. I so know that guy! Different name; different town. But I could really get it. After that, I began following that blog. It challenged me deeply. I argued with Agent B on some important matters, and we never came to agreement on some of them, but he won my respect, and I think I won his as well. And years later, I am in street ministry to the homeless, largely due to his influence. And finding his experience(s) to be common to me as well.

      I can imagine someone finding his ghost blog even now and having that experience. IF they can with his, they can with mine. And that might come a looooooooong time from now. How can I know? But with God’s blessing, should he give it, anything is possible.

      I know this: I certainly hope that in the great Judgment, my words are found true to Messiah Jesus and not against him. I tremble at that thought. But still I dare to speak for him in this humble way.

      Thanx for this perspective.

      But the question is still there. What difference does it make? Do I have a reader who can share a difference this blog makes? Brother D seems to have that perspective. And that is what I really want to find.

      God bless you.

      X

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THIS BLOG MAKE? | The Gathering Journal
  8. Agent X · June 20

    Sent from Anita by email here is the following (slightly edited to protect identity and so forth):

    Hey [Agent X]!

    I can’t find where to post a comment, or even like stuff on your blog; but the one you posted where you posed the question, does this blog make a difference was fantastic! I rebloged it this a.m. on The Gathering site! I often wonder the same thing about our blog.

    But…let me reassure you…your blog most definitely makes a difference in my life! You always seem to make me look a little deeper, ask questions of myself as to why I do things…or don’t do them. I appreciate that so much! Sometimes you can turn off that little nagging voice in your head called Conviction…but when you see it in black and white…Well-there’s no way to ignore that! Thanks so much for causing me to think!

    Blessings to you and yours!

    I encourage my readers here to go check out Anita’s blog, The Gathering Journal.

    https://gatheringdevotional.me/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · June 20

      Thanx Anita,

      You are a source of much encouragement, and have been as long as I have known you. I suggest to my other readers that if you want to be encouraged regularly, then consider subscribing to Anita’s blog.

      Like

  9. BrookeM · June 21

    Agent X,
    I’m sure you aren’t surprised that I ask the same question myself–a lot. Blogging started out as a way to try to put my experiences/thoughts on paper in the hopes that they would be an encouragement to others who might say “me, too,” or as a way to connect with others who are further down the path than I am and might help me along the way. And, of course, I prayed and hoped God might take my words and call others into action.

    What I have found, though, is that no one seems to care. Neither my family nor my friends actually read my blog….and I’ve grown increasingly careful how I share it on social media, because as I have become Facebook friends with more of my El Crucero children and their parents, I have become concerned about how my blog might affect my relationship with them. I would never want to harm their dignity with anything I say. I don’t want my children to think of themselves as “poor” and all the other labels we use to talk about the marginalized. To me, they are each a beautiful individual worthy of immeasurable love and respect.

    However, I still feel like there is a need to share what I’m seeing and what I’m learning. My audience is meant to be other middle-class Christians (especially us oblivious whites Christians). I wish it were a call to action, a call to deny our culture and share our resources and tangibly love people who are different than we are. But no one really reads it and it takes time that I rarely have.

    As for you, though, Agent X, you have a great gift for speaking truth with great passion and enthusiasm. You also have an incredible gift of encouragement. You have consistently been an encouragement to me and are the only blogger who has personally connected with me. I suspect you function in that way for many others.

    I have no idea what God has in mind for your blog. I love the idea of your bulletin for the streets. I can see how that may have had a huge impact, even if you never saw it. I’m sure the blog has a similar potential, but a different kind of an audience. If you go, I will certainly miss you! I think your degree of passion for the homeless is very rare. But if you feel like God is leading you to use your time otherwise, I can understand that, too. I sit in that same place myself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · June 21

      Oh… BrookeM… I think of your blog often. So much of what you say here is of mutual interest with me. Our communities and ministries have some very strong parallels, and in fact, in my past involvement with Vandelia church, which I write of in old posts mostly, I think our experiences are very similar.

      I totally get your concern about how your words will be received by the hood. A frank appraisal can be so helpful and yet upsetting (which then can do harm). I know that dilemma well. (I suggest blogging anonymous! (but of course tip me off that its you!)). I am glad my blog is an encouragement to you. That means so very much to me. And that is mutual too.

      I suppose it is obvious that the idea of quitting is on the table. But I am in no way committed to that. Not actually leaning that way even, but trying to take a true and thorough self assessment here. Between your comment and Brother D, I find rich connection that I don’t take lightly. And for that matter, Tommy’s blog has proven to be a rich connection in recent months too. A few others have given a bit of encouragement that I have not forgot over the last two years – Larry Who being one.

      Your post really highlights how rare this kind of blog is and how important that is/can be for the few others who so often sense too much solitude. I recall once when I thought you dropped yours, and it gave me a start. I rest a little easier knowing you are out there advocating the kind of engagement with poor and vulnerable people in that deeply personal way of Jesus. You are very sacrificial and THOGHTFUL about it. This connection means a lot to me.

      So glad to hear from you. Your comment carries weight with me. I am blessed.

      Keep in touch…

      X

      Like

  10. Ryan · June 21

    Since I started writing a blog I have asked myself some of the same questions. I’ve given up on my own blog a few times, only to write another post a few months later. It is hard to press on when the blog seems futile, and it’s sometimes hard not to look at “likes” and “comments” as a gauge for a blogs effectiveness. But when I give more thought to what my (and your) blog does, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that we’re not “viral.” When a blog is written with the prophetic intent to be confrontational to the established and complacent church, it stands to reason that many people are not going to like it, or even if they do, I’ve found they won’t acknowledge it publicly.

    I recently watched a video about Keith Green (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXOhSScVMUs), and what struck me was that sometimes came across as an a-hole, but it was because he was full bore for Jesus. My conclusion was that I’d rather come across as an a-hole than a sell-out.

    Agent X, can’t tell you how much I appreciate your blog, and even more the character behind it. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through your autobiographical posts, and I’ve often thought how cool it would be to meet you. Press on, brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · June 21

      Ryan!

      Sometimes I think you are just gone. And of course I miss you when you are.

      I totally get it (well, I think I do). And honestly, you are not required to post frequently. However, a check in once in a while lets me know you are alive. That is important. But really there is not a lot new to say. I repackage old messages all the time. Once in a while I push to a new depth – or try to. But usually, it is more of the same with a new spin, a new rhetoric, or whatever.

      Like you say, this is not about a popularity thing. That would be nice, but I think I would be suspicious of it if I thought I was getting a lot of it. Counters, stats, likes, and comments are the only measure I have of making connection – and that is not a trustworthy measure (always). Certainly numbers are required, but not sufficient to gage by. The comments CAN be a better measure, and certainly any CONVERSATION that gets stirred up is important to that. Feedback is how I know. But waaaaaaay more than numbers, it is the impact of either encouragement, inspiration, conviction, and challenge that makes it worthwhile, and that is important if it only happens with one, two, or three other people.

      That said, I still desire reaction/interaction with the local scene most of all. However, I am finding a new level of appreciation for my fellow ministers nation-wide who sense such solitude. There is an important way we support each other at that level that I do not want to negate in the slightest.

      But like each of them, it is the local work I do here that has my first attention, and it is sad that I have so little traction at that level. I suspect I am noticed at that level, but ignored as far as possible. The risk of my confrontation is high. And the cost of that must be high too.

      I suppose I should say, I have no desire to run the church. I don’t want to be pastor – not really. I don’t want to push people around with my agenda even. But there is some rather simple stuff that Scripture itself directs that goes ignored here, and there is no excuse for that. I call that mess out all too readily. And so if you are in it for the money, the prestige, the power, or whatever, then you do well to ignore me just as far as possible, because I will insist on your humility (as does Scripture) and that is a high cost.

      I really appreciate you, Ryan. Miss you when I don’t see or hear from you. And I, likewise, would very much like to meet in person and share prayer, communion, and time of refreshment.

      It occurs to me that some ministries offer respite care for ministers. Dude ranch in the mountains, by the lake, or a weekend marriage seminar on a cruise ship or whatever FOR ministers. Because pretty much all ministers find the work grueling at personal and spiritual levels eventually. Stats show that this takes a toll on Pastors’ families and so forth. They sometimes burnout. Fall into sin (Sex or Gambling or something shameful) and blame it on the stress of ministry.

      But here’s the kicker: They don’t offer those kinds of services to prophetic ministers. We are off that grid. We are hung out to dry from the start and by the mainstream ministry field and network.

      So, the feedback I get here is about as good as that is going to get. And I deeply appreciate it from you and everyone else who so graciously shares here.

      THANX

      And God bless you…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. smsmith · June 21

    X,
    I can tell you that your blog has great meaning to me. I still read it regularly, although I do not always reply. There are quite a few blogs that I follow, and I try to be diligent in reading most of the postings. It’s part of my weekly routine. Sometimes, all I have time to do is “like” a post. I cannot speak for others, but if I “like” it, I’ve read the whole post. That is why I am so particular with the blogs that I follow. Yes, I believe your blog is making a difference for everyone that reads it.

    We change the world one compassionate act at a time. If just one person reads your blog and decides to see the homeless, show compassion and learn from them instead of putting blinders on and pretending not to see the potential and wisdom that exists, then I believe our Lord would tell you “Well done.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · June 21

      Thanx Ms. Sharon,

      I have learned that you are a purposeful blogger. You have MY respect. And I appreciate your comment. This blesses and encourages me.

      So glad to be one of your regular blogs. I hope I keep it meaningful for each visit you pay me.

      God bless you,

      X

      Liked by 1 person

      • smsmith · June 22

        Thank you, X. I learn so much from you. And I know I will continue to do so!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Agent X, great name btw. While I am no longer a Christian myself, I think if more of my Catholic School teacher’s thought of religion as you do then I wouldn’t have switched to a public school for high school. I have faith, consider myself Buddhist, I am always trying to find a way to relieve other people’s suffering or at least understand and accept it.

    I may have only read a couple of your posts but you are a strong writer who can break things down enough non-Christians understand the points you’re making. I think having the ability to do that is great and I can see how that approach would help with your work.
    I do have one question for all of you though. Thunder Bay survivor is only one of our initiatives for change, we recently started doing video as well and want to do a random act of kindness for the people living in our city that may be homeless or unable to afford some things. What would be your suggestion as something to give out, besides toilet paper? We want it to be something that they need but don’t have. We have a tiny budget, I’m funding this project myself and can only spend up to $100 . I’m on disability so my budget is fixed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · July 11

      Greetings to my nameless, Buddhist reader from Thunder Bay Survivors.

      Glad to have you visit! Thanx for the feedback. It is valued here.

      Thanx for you kind words. There aren’t, it seems, enough of those going around.

      I visited your blog earlier. Don’t think I left a comment, but I am not certain. I had a few minutes to troll the blog-O-sphere, as is my custom when time permits, looking for people speaking of “homeless ministry” in some sense. I believe that is how I found your post. I have no familiarity with Thunder Bay at all, but your post, if I am recalling it correctly, spoke of pain and a heart to relieve it – especially as it concerns the homeless. That means a lot to me.

      I am thrilled that my posts reach out to non-Christians in a way that makes for understanding. That means a lot to me. I prefer charitable dialog to circled wagons, so you comment is validating.

      As you surely can imagine, especially having previously been Christian ( having had a lot of experience with Christians) I believe in Jesus exclusively and hold forth faith in him exclusively as the point of life. I will not back off of that. But I can be, and I hope you find me to be, respectful of your choices which are not mine. And even more than that, I would say that I have a sensitivity for the sensitivities of Buddhists and the appreciation for life Buddhists represent. So, I am sure there are significant views we share in common despite the fact that some of the more ultimate views differ.

      You are new to my blog, so I don’t expect you to already know this, but the Fat Beggars ministry is all about worship. Like you I do not have a budget for ministry. The ministry projects I get into frequently run me about $5, sometimes about $20. Rarely more than that. Worship really does not cost money – except for the bread and wine.

      This may seem counterintuitive then, especially since you are new to this blog, but I rarely offer relief supplies or even food – as in food distribution. (The big exception is that I am all about SHARING a meal, and so frequently I take a homeless person to lunch or bring supper to the alley etc. where I then sit and share it.)

      I am fully aware that people have physical needs, and when I have the means I offer needful things. I also support other ministries that feed, house, clothe and so forth, but Fat Beggars is a prophetic ministry that dares to bear the image of the invisible God before the larger community in a way that brings conviction into the hearts of those who see Him.

      This means that my advice – the unique advice that Agent X would give – does not help Buddhism much.

      That said, I still have opinions on such matters, but I am no more qualified than you to give them. I know in my town, there are lots of places to eat. No one in this city starves to death unless they are held captive against their will. We have enough free food in this town that a person can eat almost every day – and some probably do. This is a real blessing. Not all communities have this, but we do.

      I don’t know about Thunder Bay. But if there are services feeding then that is one of the more urgent needs already met. If not, then it moves to the top of the list (or very close to it). Depending on the weather, shelter is the next big issue. Shelter and clothing. Especially in cold and wet seasons.

      Then after that I would say hygiene supplies.

      But if there are services already covering some of these things but not others, then try to fill in the gaps. It could be that your community feeds people pretty good, offers shelter in times of need, but gives no clothes or hygiene supplies. (Or vice versa and so on.) Try to determine what services are lacking and shore up those gaps in the overall service.

      I know that one of the most overlooked items that homeless people frequently get excited about is socks. A fresh pair of socks are like gold to a guy living on the streets. I also know that the homeless people I meet are willing to wear old clothes – even out of fashion, used and well-worn, but they will not wear used underwear. Thus NEW underwear are often received with ecstatic smiles.

      I hope those insights are useful to you, but I focus first and foremost on worship in my ministry. So often the poor and dispossessed are treated as if they are a problem to either be shunned or solved, but I bring worship and share it with them AND even facilitate THEM leading it! After all, THEY ARE JESUS (as per Matt. 25:40), and I want to see Him; I want to hear what He says – not so much what I say. I want them to pray for me. I want to pray with them. Jesus was homeless and dispossessed too. He knows what that is like. He seems to attract people of that sort to him as followers as per the Gospels. These big shots and rich people who seem to run churches these days have mostly hijacked all that, as I see it. Not entirely, but far more than we care to admit.

      By the way, I absolutely LOVE Pope Francis. I think he is having a huge impact on the church’s imagination vis-à-vis the poor. He came to American year before last and preached to Congress and then stood them up for lunch so he could eat with the homeless across the street from the capitol. HA! That’s my kind of Christian! (But of course, that phrase is messed up – there is no such thing as MY KIND OF CHRISTIAN, but I think you feel me.)

      I apologize if my response does not help. I hope it does, but as you can see, I am devout about faith and this is the lens through which I see everything. But you are definitely welcome here, wanted here, and I will do my dead level best to show you respect if you come again.

      Blessings…

      Friend.

      Like

      • I’m not against Christianity at all, a coworkers dad is a minister and after hearing that I lost my gifted bible in a fire they gave me a copy of the most recently released bible. I really appreciated the gesture considering my friend knows I felt horrible for losing my King James version.

        I think you will like the story as to how I was gifted a bible. My ex had a friend he’d grown up with, the friend developed schizophrenia and got really into the church and it’s teachings. Our friend was also left homeless while attending college and slept at the shelter. We’d let him sleep on our futon, use the Internet to do school work and were trying to give the guy a break. He was also working at the college he attended so he was doing everything right and trying his best to get a stable place. My ex described him as being weird now and different, having never met him before I found him to be intelligent, thoughtful, polite and kind.
        So it Christmas and our friend has moved across town into a rooming house so we haven’t seen him in months. There’s a knock at the door and it’s our friend coming to wish us happy holidays. In his hands he holds a brand new King James version bible he wanted to give to us as a gift for letting him come by and occasionally stay.
        This young man is homeless, has nothing more than a backpack, yet he still thinks to give what he can to others. That to me is a Christian at their finest.
        I really appreciate the ideas and know socks are always needed

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · July 12

        Cool story! When homeless people give to others… those are the best kind. So good to tell those stories and open the imagination of our world to them.

        Thanx for sharing that.

        Like

  13. T. F. Thompson · July 11

    What I will say is that Agent X is my friend and is free to speak for me. I believe in Him as I know he also follows and believes in my Lord, Jesus. Aside from that, words don’t mean a thing. I believe in the character of the person.

    Liked by 1 person

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