(Disclaimer: Think of this post like that proverbial trainer on the first day of your first job after graduation who tells you, “Forget everything you learned in school.”  If I could go back and rewrite my education, knowing what I know now….)

If I were writing a “philosophy of ministry” paper for school today, I would entitle it: Make the Homeless Think They Are NOT Homeless.  Basically, if they don’t already know it, don’t tell them.  If they do, offer them an alternate reality in which maybe they forget it.  Invite them to be celebrated by Jesus.


Here is one of the key differences in the approach to ministry advocated here at Fat Beggars and nearly all other outreach ministries I know of, read about, or have experienced: Worship.  We party like it’s not really the devil’s world.

Almost two decades ago, now, I read that little book by Tony Campolo, The Kingdom of God is a Party.  Campolo, a good Baptist, finds himself studying Deuteronomy 14, a passage on tithing, and notices the use to which God puts the money collected is a party.  One tenth of Israel’s gross national product goes up in smoke, like incense or prayers of the saints, in a flash as it is used for a giant party.  Every three years, the guests of honor are the poor and needy (the widows, orphans, and sojourners).

We celebrate God in the world by celebrating God in his image bearers – in one another, and in so doing, he celebrates us!

This is counterintuitive, it seems, since all the charity services today want to raise money and not waste it.  In fact, there is a deep and abiding concern that if you give money to the bum, they will use it for booze and waste the alms – that precious money.  Such giving is just “enabling.”

Nearly every other ministry effort I know of wants to start off biblical but finds it necessary to supplement God’s word with such “worldly wisdom” as we aim to remake the poor into the independent, the rich, the no-longer-needy.  There may be sensitivity training regarding labels (please don’t call “them” names like “bums” or “tramps” which are so disempowering).  Don’t even use terms like “homeless” either, but instead say “people suffering homelessness.”  Oh… and don’t say “them” either.

Yeah.  That’s psychology and political correctness, not Bible.

I don’t mean to sound like I am against sensitivity.  I’m not.  But such training brings conviction into the trainee at the expense of bending reality the wrong direction unnoticed.  At that point the training sets out to address employment.  “Those people” need a job.  That is the endgame.  The goal is to get them “gainfully employed.”

“Must make bricks” was Pharaoh’s method of dealing with God’s people; Moses, though, insisted they take a three-day journey into the wilderness so they could celebrate God!  (There is a difference.)

What are the obstacles to gainful employment?  These are considered root causes of poverty which the training will now address “effectively.”  This line of thinking gives way to “ministry” that addresses addiction, job training, education, anger management, and the like in philosophies of psychology and addiction recovery (worldly wisdom).

Of course, things like feeding the hungry are part of this process, but they are incidental and temporal.  The charity service offers food, showers, phones and internet, clothes, and sometimes shelter and medical care, but the idea is to ween the needy off these services quickly.  Thus, they treat these basic needs as incidental and impersonal.  Prayer and worship are decoration.

Here, “person suffering homelessness,” take a number, stand in this line, get a bowl of gruel; take a number, stand in that line, take a shower.  Use of the computer for job searches is available on Tuesdays between 2:30 and 3:00 on a first-come basis, so don’t be late to get in that line too.  Attend a worship service and take our anger management class and get your card punched or else you cannot receive a locker to store your belongings.

It’s all impersonal and manipulative as we seek to remake the poor in our image.  We count it a success if and when this needy person goes away “gainfully employed.”

In such a ministry model, the philosophy which says, “Feed a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for life,” is the real philosophy.  It’s not found in the Bible.  And not only that, but it is more honestly restated as, “Feed a man a fish, and you get him to stay; teach a man to fish to make him go away [so you can feel good about yourself].”

Contrast this with the work we do at the Fat Beggars Home for Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners.  Currently we host children – homeless kids ripped away from their pulverized families by CPS.  We got ours young, and so they know no other life than what we provide them.  Even though Mrs. Agent X and I have explained to them that they have biological parents “out there,” they functionally think I am their “Pops,” and my wife is their “Mama.”

In every other sense, we raise them as if they were ours, as if they are wanted here, as if this is their home – which it is in a yet bigger reality – a reality we cling to as well.

What does any of this have to do with pancakes?  What are “dark meat pancakes,” and how does that explain anything?

(Thanx for asking.)

Well, in one sense – in fact in the biggest sense – nothing.

I just thought of this philosophy of ministry, and how to present it while making pancakes with the kids.

Here’s the thing: my four-year-old and five-year-old both love to “help” with all manner of household chores (except those involving cleaning up, of course), and making pancakes for breakfast is a favorite!  We can, and sometimes do, prepare frozen, premade pancakes or get them from McDonalds, which also is a special treat.  But making them, flipping them in the skillet, is always a thrill.

Making pancakes at home is not a precise science – not for me anyway.  Making them with kids gets a little exciting, but definitely not precise.  We find that a few of our pancakes are white meat (if not gooey in the middle), but many of them get a little dark.

My kids, some days, find their biggest challenge is to eat a “dark meat pancake.”

Think about that.

My kids are all recovering addicts, born addicted to horrible drugs.  They suffer developmental delays, and one of the kids is medicated to help control his behavior.  Another child, I recently discovered, lost his biological father “out there” when he died from overdose.  Yet they give no thought to any of that.  Meanwhile, the core of our ministry is the celebration of life, the celebration of God IN each other, as manifest in making and eating pancakes.

Getting up, getting an education, learning self-discipline, and growing up are the incidentals in our home.  They are important, but not the core.  The core is love, celebration, belonging.  The core is being WANTED here.  And without that, none of the rest makes sense.

With it, the hard part of life is getting stuck with a dark meat pancake.  (But hey!  At least it’s shaped like a Mickey Mouse face!)



See the link here:



He tried to talk you into crapping your pants for worship last Sunday.  

Preached it with a straight face!

Can you believe it?

Crap your pants for Jesus.  Darndest thing I ever heard.  And people go for that?

No.  No, they don’t.  No one pays a preacher to preach that one.  Nope.  That one you preach for free.  

But just imagine for a moment if Christians took that seriously.  Just imagine ten, fifty, or a hundredfold pilgrims read that sermon on this blog, accepted the challenge and all showed up for worship Easter Sunday!  You could look around and instantly know who was really dedicated, you know in that Shane Claiborne sense of knowing.*  

Or, on the other hand, just imagine if Pastor Bates showed up in crapped pants and preached his sermon on Easter Sunday all smelling of poo.  Wow!  Talk about embracing the humility!!!  

Which would you rather watch – a man slowly die of a Roman-style crucifixion or a preacher preach his Easter Sermon to a packed house with his pants full of his own poop?  I mean, either one sounds disgusting, repulsive, and shameful.  But one stands out as a little more painful – also ceremonially clean.  The other seems like a pointless waste, but almost as shocking.

(I saw a real crucifixion on CNN News before they sanitized it one day in 2014 after ISIS took over a Christian village.  I only saw a few seconds of it, but I was gutted by it.)

Either way is some crude stuff, but you find this crude stuff on page after page of St. Paul’s letters.  He doesn’t let you look away unless you walk away.  So by what criteria would you so easily shun a crapped-in-the-pants preacher?

Now… imagine every soul in the house singing hymns unbathed and crapped in their pants.  Just a symbolic exercise, of course, not something required of you – certainly not at every meeting.  Just once in your life, though, all of them so humiliated but praising Jesus.  Just imagine if everyone at the service smelled of the streets, of urine and feces.

Then visit a “homeless church” sometime, and experience something very close to it for yourself.




*There’s a scene in Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution where as a college student he decides he wants to find a real Christian – someone who so indisputably follows Christ that no one in their right mind argues against it.  He studied a list of people who might fit that description and noticed by far, most of them were dead and had died young.  He found two still alive, one of them being (at the time) Mother Teresa.  So, he ran off to get an internship with her in Calcutta. 

IT’S SUNDAY, BUT MONDAY’S COMING! (so that was easter, now everyone go back to business-as-usual, and thanx for participating….)

So, that was Easter.

Did you have a good time?  Did you dress up in fine church clothes – maybe give Mama a corsage to match her shoes, handbag, and Bible cover?  Did you get a good seat in the Sanctuary for the show?  Were you entertained?  Did you take the kids to the Easter Egg Hunt?  Did you indulge a few pagan traditions on this supreme Christian holiday?  (Me too!)

Well, with all that done now, we can get back to work tomorrow.  Back to those deadlines, those meetings, those quotas.  Those widgets and gadgets don’t make themselves!  We took our break, and now break time is up.  Back to work.  We got bills to pay.  

You can remember Jesus again next year.  

Oh wait.  Did I sell it all a bit short?

Did you have a deep spiritual experience?

Good for you.  Now back to work! 

This Age Passing Away hasn’t passed just yet.  Must make bricks!

Oh wait, what?  

You mean something is different now?


Here at Fat Beggars School of Prophets, we think so too, but we haven’t quite put our finger on it.  Maybe you can tell us. 

What changed?

Here at FBSOP, we laid down a challenge.  It was a strange challenge.  On the surface, it didn’t really have much to do with Jesus.  It was just a really bizarre experience of going without a shower for three days – approximating three days dead and buried in a tomb – and then going to church with HBO (Horrible Body Odor).  

Of course, it was a humiliating challenge, challenging our pride.  In fact, the challenge took pains to isolate pride for the challenge – exempting those who might not be able to do the challenge without losing a job or something else terrible like that.  No.  Only a hit to pride.

The humility of it pushed the boundaries of good sense or taste, but that comes near a truly authentic spiritual experience.  It also called us to represent lowly, needy, humble people as we seek Jesus.  That seems pretty authentically Christlike.  So, honestly even though on the surface it seemed extemporaneous and even irrelevant, with a deeper look, there was a lot there with which to devote ourselves to Jesus. 

I can’t help but wonder if someone really took the challenge, do you think they are going back to business-as-usual tomorrow?

How will that person look their friends in the eye the same ever again?

There once was a Passover holiday long, long ago where the little people were treated to an apocalyptic unveiling of God’s movement in creation behind the scenes.  It didn’t make them rich or respectable come Monday morning, but somehow, they found that death did not have the last word in this old world, and they said “all things are new.”

Something changed.

Even for those who went back to work the next Monday, it most definitely was not business as usual after that.


Time to rise and shine!  Get your stink up off this bed, and let’s go!

It’s early Sunday morning.  As soon as the sun came up, some of the women, reportedly, visited the tomb expecting to anoint his body, since the chance was missed over the Sabbath day.  Now rumors abound.  The tomb is empty.  Others claim they have seen him.

You, my dear 2022 Challenge taker, are eager to get with other disciples and see who knows what.  Why are people even talking this way?  If there is any chance (and there’s not – let’s face it) he is really alive, you wanna see it for yourself.

But that means getting with the others…

…and you, my friend, reek.

You now face the last temptation of Christ[ian taking a Fat Beggars Challenge].  No one will be the wiser if you just slip in the shower and hose off this stench.  Five minutes of steam and suds, and you are a the same old “new man.”  This is crunch time.  So very hard to take this next step.  A condemn “dead man walking” has an easier choice to put one foot in front of the other than you have now.

The assembly will be packed today!  Everyone AND THEIR DOG will be there.  It will be standing room only, and the fire marshal really might be on edge.

But if you take a seat there, it will surely drive a social wedge into the sardine packed pilgrims, some of whom just might opt out and leave.  You really could be responsible for someone else’s backslide!

Oh… my!  The rationalizations are a dime a dozen.

But let’s not be so pessimistic.  Jesus might be alive and well in there, and if he is, you will be welcome to sit with him!  He would touch a leper!  He will be happy to greet and meet with you … if he is really in there.  He opens his arms wide with divine love.

Wanna find out?

It’s like a dare now.

Go see if he is there, if he is really there and really alive.

You have all of eternity to look back on this moment and consider it.  If you could get all the way from the other end of eternity and come back here and now, what choice would you make then?

Come on.  Let’s have a little faith in these people we call “The Body of Christ,” and let’s find out if he is really alive in there.

Put your hand in his, and rise!  Rise and shine!  (And stink.)

Let’s go!


Only.. only… no.  No.  Don’t bathe yet.  One more night to go.  You are nearly there.  Mary and Martha worried Lazarus would stink if they opened the crypt.  I guarantee, you do.  Tomorrow, you are gonna change the sheets on your bed.  In fact, maybe you will not be welcome in your bed tonight at all.

Wanna hit the streets and sleep rough?  May as well.  You smell as bad as a living person can in a tomb three days without a bath.  You waft, and people hurl.  You wouldn’t welcome another in your home smelling like this, and now it’s you!

Unless of course you didn’t take on the challenge.

Wait.  What?


You didn’t take the challenge?  You been reading this series every day, but you took a shower?

Before the cock crows, you will deny this challenge three times?

Does that serve Jesus?

Okay, okay… I feel ya.  You gotta be really, really, really, really dedicated to a very foolish cause to accept this challenge.  That’s true.



It’s not me who feels betrayed.  Really.  I mean it.  You are on the honor system here, and for that matter, not one person reading here left a comment saying “Sign me up, X!”  Not one.  So, it’s not like you lied either.  You just decided to read ABOUT following the challenge rather than actually FOLLOWING the challenge.

That’s between you and Jesus.  Not me.

But I will tell you what.

There is a way you can still get in on it, but it’s very drastic.

I don’t really recommend it.  Not because it’s a bad thing to do, but because AT THIS POINT if you feel compelled to do it, the thing driving you is not likely your love for Jesus or your desire to connect with him at this visceral place, but more some ugly guilt feeling that’s more manipulative and psychological than spiritual and loving.

But if you really want in on it that bad – if you sense you are missing out like somebody Left Behind, I will tell you what you can do.

But, again, I do NOT recommend it.

Right now tonight, go to the fridge (or the drive thru if you must) and eat.  Eat a LOT.  Over eat, and eat fast.  Go back for seconds, thirds, and after a break come back again for fourths.  Eat some heavy stuff, especially something causing a lot of gas in your gut.  BEANS are a go-to favorite of mine.

If you live in Texas, Oklahoma, or New Mexico, and if there is an Allsup’s nearby, go load up on their fried burritos.  Those will do the trick!  Eat eight of them, if you can.  Get your stomach in a roaring uproar.

Then in the morning before heading out the door to church right when you feel you are gonna blow, drop in a squat position and…

CRAP your pants!

(Am I offending you now? – GOOD!)

Seriously, dump a load of trouser chili and head out to church.  It’s extreme, I know.  By far, most of the street homeless folx I know, do not go to church with poop in their pants, but I met one who does.  One psych patient off his meds, I am pretty sure, smears the stuff in his mangy hair.  He is the grodiest man I ever met.  I sat next to him in worship one Sunday several years ago, and we sang Amazing Grace together holding back the barf for all I was worth.

I’ve met three or four street homeless so drunk they wet themselves, and that makes a powerful stench too.  But going NUMBER 2 takes it nuclear.

My point being, you can still get on a major stench in a hurry and honestly represent street homeless people in worship with God’s people.  There really are real people who do this, and you can join their RANK(s)!  It’s also, AT THE SAME TIME, a chance for you to embrace humility (with Jesus) in some of the starkest social terms you can.

But still… Don’t do this just because you feel bad for not having taken the challenge seriously.  Do it only if you feel drawn to Jesus – to prophetically and creatively walk his walk, to take up a cross and follow, to represent the poor and needy in our world who HE LOVES ever bit as much as he loves you, ever bit as much as you love your kids.  Don’t do it because you feel manipulated to do it, but because you want to do it.

Oh wow, though.  If you do it, I surely hope you will leave a comment about it here.  The grueling shame of sitting next to fellow parishioners/pilgrims in the pews, of kneeling together for prayer, of rising together to sing and pray, and of taking Jesus’s flesh and blood into your mouth to chew it, savor it, and swallow it (all without barfing from the smell of your “human condition”) is something I want to hear about.  That’s some dedication!

God bless…

Happy Easter, y’all.  Come sunrise, everything changes.  All things are made new.  A real bath is in your near future.


Okay… You’ve come a long way with that body odor now – that body odor plus whatever muck and yuck you can get stuck to ya.  If you used a lot of frue-frue (of whatever brand) to cover over your smell, by now it’s not only not working, but it’s adding to the cacophony of stench emitting from various bodily areas of yourself.

It’s humbling.  Isn’t it?

This is no bad thing for a follower of Jesus.  Pretty rough on the average, American pew warmer, but good for a follower.  Good like vitamins, like eating your vegetables.

How on earth to you explain it?  Who would possibly understand?

They won’t.  They can’t.  Even you can’t.  But you made this commitment to the Fat Beggars Easter 2022 Challenge, and here you are bogging down in Saturday of Holy Week.  It is a bewildering day for disciples.  This is that day when like a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly turns it to mush, so your faith also is mush.  You are puddy (or clay) in the Master’s hands.

Funny.  Your smell does in fact provide you a visceral, spiritual connection to the historical events of the holiday weekend.  No.  Stinking is not the same, but the constant stench emitting from you hounds you with feelings of vulnerability, bewilderment, of what-was-I-thinking? regret and shame.

How could you have been so gullible to follow THIS messiah?

What was it about him which set him apart from all the others?

Whatever the case, he is dead and buried, you are still here and should any servant girls from the courtyard recognize you from his followers (or ask NOSEY questions – can’t resist the pun), you are stuck explaining the unexplainable to them.

The cloud of stench hovering over you offending people in close proximity approximates the cloud of sorrow and bewilderment enveloping the first disciples.  In both cases, you sorta wanna lay low for a while.  Saturday is “lay low” day.

Hey, I know from personal experience, if you are really reading here and really participating in the challenge, you pretty much want to keep away from other people today.  Even your closest friends and family!  Of the few people in your life who know what you are up to, even they show no understanding and no empathy.  They think you are nuts to do this.  They cannot see any possible reason for it or connection to Jesus and, honestly, neither could you at the start.

But now you feel alone in your cloud of bewilderment on Holy Saturday, yet some things are becoming clear to you.  While all your life you celebrated Easter already knowing how this all turns out, making your experience of the meditation more truncated, now you don’t really know what the cost of following Jesus will be.  You might really LOOK stupid to all your friends and family the rest of your life for choosing this humiliating path.

You do, now, have a richer connection to Jesus and those first disciples than you ever dreamed.

May I offer a suggestion at this point?

Go hit the streets with a Bible and find some street homeless people to pray with.

You are now in a truly humble condition.  My God!  You STINK!!!  The homeless, though, will accept you with open arms!  Not all of them.  Some are very cantankerous people – a few bitter, a few cynical, many tired, ashamed, angry and all that.  But many of them will be very happy you found them and asked them to pray with you.  They will welcome the newfound connection with you and with Jesus.

If you are really taking this challenge seriously, I bet you will find this experience to be eye-opening.  Who knows, you might – just might – find HOPE in the most unexpected places.

HOW LONG…? …HANG IN THERE… (more encouragement from Fat Beggars)

It’s quite appropriate, biblically speaking, for the suffering saints to interrogate God about their long suffering (Ps. 13; Hab. 1:2; Rev. 6:9-10).  If this is you, you are in good company!

But right about here, a Friday afternoon when there are still clients to meet, subordinates to scold, VIPs to entertain, and your own sense of self hounding you – a Friday JUST LIKE ANY OTHER (except for the small detail about it being “good”) – you suffer your own stench every time you raise your hand to take a drink of coffee (or one of those “happy hour specials” from Sonic).*

Spray some Febreze under your arm, hit it with a double dose of Old Spice deodorant (maybe mix it up with some Axe Spray too).  Load your pockets with Downy Unstoppable Scent Booster Beads – even moth balls if you must!  But you only have a few hours to go until “the weekend”!  Then you can “take it easy” with Jesus.

No more excuses.  He will be stuck with a spear in his side to check him for signs of life, but you can relax with a glass of wine just glad no one from work smells you now.

Go ahead.  Feel good about your dedication!  You are almost half way through your Fat Beggars Easter 2022 Challenge.

Keep up the good work.  Stink for Jesus!  The aroma of Christ!  Ain’t it grand?




*IF this post gives you subliminal messages causing you to unusually desire a Sonic drink, shame on you!  Get back to Jesus!!!


Okay.  So… You’ve accepted the Fat Beggars Easter 2022 Challenge.  That’s great!

Just the mere fact that you accepted the challenge is a small victory.  Even the fact you stopped to consider it is a small victory.  What’s more?  Just the fact that you read the previous post at all is a tiny, miniscule victory.

But now it’s Good Friday morning.  Jesus get’s killed today.  I know how it is: you want to smell your best down at the gruesome crucifixion, to join in the cacophony of insulters and jeerers.  Your contempt for God doesn’t go over as well when you stink.

(Or maybe you have one more day in the office this week and except for a few private moments early and late in the day spent in meditation and prayer, you really weren’t much interested in Jesus; rather you have business as usual to attend to.  But the fact is you have clients to meet, meetings to meet, and smelling like rotten meat just isn’t pleasant to yourself anyway.  (Take your pick.))

So, here you are, early on a Friday morning, you accepted the challenge last night while you were briefly drunk on the Spirit, but now as you face the dawn of a usual day, you sure want to run through that shower.

Am I right?

Slather on some extra deodorant and put your suit and tie on, and wear a pandemic mask keeping social distance until 5pm.  You can do this!  There are ways to navigate your socio/business life for just one last business day.  The real test of your stamina to REPRESENT comes Sunday morning.  But if you can join Jesus in his three day journey now, representing with a lack of shower, let me encourage you to KEEP THE FAITH!

God be with you!  (NO one else wants to be!)