Those Annoying, Stinking Filthy Bums

Hard Times Ministries

Anyone with even lightweight amateur experience on our urban streets hears those nasty people coming up to you:

“Hey, man.  Ya gotta smoke?”

“You got a case quarter?”

“Gotta blunt?”

“Can you spare some loose change?”

Then again, there are those who have their hard-luck story.  You’ve heard it before.  They need change to catch a bus.  They are out of money and need gas for their car.  The wife and kid is in the car….

It makes no difference.  Those pain-in-the-butt people want something and at all costs, they are to be avoided.

We see some with dirty, tattered, ragged clothes. Some sport a beard that an owl could hide in.  Some have backpacks while others sleep under tarps in the woods.  Many gather at gas stations so they can pan-handle.  Some even can be seen bending a beer can and lighting up their crack cocaine.  A few might…

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I Confess; I Am A Closet Fight Club Fan

 

I don’t know about you, but I am a closet Fight Club fan.  This movie (and the book) is soooo vulgar and seemingly has no redeeming value.  BUT, ironically, I have penetrated so much Christian complacency in my own life after thinking new thoughts after watching/reading this story that I am a fan.  Yet, I normally keep that fact in the closet because of how vulgar and trashy it is.

But it seems worthwhile to point out that the main character (a nameless “protagonist”) suddenly becomes homeless and meets a guy he winds up turning to for help.  The help definitely is not Christian, but it does reveal the lie we had all been living by.  In that sense, the book/movie is actually an APOCALYPSE.

Here are a couple of scenes from the movie that are quite revealing:

The Gospel of Lord Caesar vs. The Gospel of Lord Jesus

Tomorrow (Sept. 23rd) is Lord Augustus Ceasar’s birthday. Oh… you didn’t get him anything? Oh… you forgot?? Oh… you didn’t even know it??? There is a reason for that. Consider this reblog post and understand why… AND get ready to celebrate Christmas. The season is upon us…

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

Check out this quote from Caesar.  Let it bounce sparks off your Christian imagination.  If you have not studied Roman (and/or early Christian) history, this will likely be new for you.

An ancient inscription unearthed by archaeology:

The providence which has ordered the whole of our life, showing concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving to it Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a benefactoramong men, and by sending in him, as it were, a savior for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere…; the birthday of the god [Augustus] was the beginning of glad tidings that have come to men through him….

(I found this quote when studying N.T. Wright, btw.)  The message of this inscription is Rome’s imperial gospel message about Lord Caesar and how…

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Please, Don’t “Like” This Post With A Click (Like It With Action)

This is Thursday again… So let’s try this again.

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

Did you ever hear the sermon about the pastor who dressed up as a homeless man?

Yeah.  You know the one.  It’s been a while, but it is an old fav.  Pastor shows up for worship dressed like a homeless man and no one recognizes him.  He discovers that his own congregation functionally shuns him with contempt until he rises to the podium and reveals his true identity.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

That sermon did not change a thing.  Here is what it did: It gave parishioners who heard it a feeling of conviction – a warm and fuzzy feeling of conviction that seemed like what church should/oughta do.  And everyone left that sermon (no one ever actually experienced this, but they all heard the sermon ABOUT it), went home, watched the ball game, and once in a while, they blogged about the pastor’s sermon.

Meanwhile, the…

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Operation: Apocalypse (application form)

Yes… Fat Beggars School of Prophets is like the US Marines. We are looking for A Few Good Men. …and women. Please print off and fill out the application form and mail it in to the church address listed on it. There is still time to ring in the Apocalypse, and you can be part of it.

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

Okay readers.

It’s time to take this blog to the next level.  Rather than seeking “followers” as per WordPress, the goal here always was to affect ministry on the streets and in the churches of Lubbock.  However, this blog has proven that it reaches a Christian audience far beyond this locale (95% or more, of which, live in homes).  It’s nice to write ABOUT these things and it’s nice to read ABOUT them too, but it never was the goal.

Someone made a blog post just today (a different Christian blog) about the difference in knowing ABOUT God and actually knowing God.  If there is any truth to that, then it makes sense that it is better to actually SERVE God than it is to simply read ABOUT it.  If you are in a relationship with someone who wants to get serious, they are likely to say: Let’s take this to…

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“You Like Chicken Parmesan?”

The following is an excerpt reproduced here from Mike Yankoski’s book, Under The Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America.

Sam and I sat next to each other in the hot, humid air, leaning against the wall of a two-story restaurant.  The sun had set an hour ago, but the buildings and sidewalks still radiated heat.  The bricks behind our backs burned like an oven.  The street in front of us was filled with thick fumes and the roar of traffic.  My head throbbed with what was probably a dehydration headache.

I reached into my pack and pulled out the water bottle, grateful for the last drops of warm water.  Every now and then the door to the restaurant behind us would swing open and let out a gust of air-conditioned coolness seasoned with the inviting aromas of Italian cooking and the sounds of friendly conversation.

Sam and I started talking in a dazed sort of way about cool restaurants, tasty Italian food, and tall iced drinks.  But every time a bus rumbled by, we stopped.  When you’re tired, hungry, hot and thirsty, every word takes effort.

Occasionally a passerby glanced down at us.  Mostly though, they just stared straight ahead, trying hard to pretend we weren’t there.  A cluster of teenage girls walked past.  Then they turned and came back to the door of the restaurant to read the menu.

While they laughed and traded opinions among themselves, one of the girls leaned in toward the menu.  Silently she mouthed “Chicken Parmesan,” and “Linguine Alfredo.”  But then she frowned, spun around, and pushed her way past her friends.  “Nothing looks good,” she declared in a high whine.

“Yeah, it all looks bad!” chimed in two of her friends as they hurried to join her, and the cluster moved away down the sidewalk.

I turned to look at Sam, my mouth hanging open.  Then we both laughed, shrugged our shoulders, and went back to staring silently into the hot street.

Fifteen minutes later, I asked.  “Are you hungry?”

“Yeah,” said Sam.  “More thirsty though.  You?”

“Same.” I agreed.  “We should go play the guitar somewhere soon.”

“Yeah.”

But finding the energy to move seemed impossible.  “I want to eat” no longer meant just walking to the refrigerator or ordering off a menu.  Every sandwich demanded hours of sitting on the hot cement, playing and singing, trying to be heard above the noise of the street.  And on this afternoon, exhaustion from walking everywhere, the dehydration of living outside, and the lack of sleep from being constantly moved by the police and security guards had taken a toll.  So we just sat, half-aware, watching people ignore us.

It seemed like the perfect pastime.

Suddenly a young family came into view.  The dad – dressed in T-shirt, shorts, and a baseball cap – walked in front, but he was looking down, evidently listening to his wife.  She came along behind pushing the stroller.  As they rolled up to us, a small boy in the stroller looked out at me.

When you’re sitting on a sidewalk, you’re at eye level with babies and kids.  It’s a different world down there.  As toddlers stumble past holding their parent’s hand, they lock you in their unashamed gazes or they peek curiously out from their strollers.  They haven’t yet learned to ignore what they see, so they can actually take the world in as it is.  While kids might pretend people who don’t exist do, it’s the parents who pretend that unwanted people who do exist don’t.

I held the boy’s gaze for a while and gave him a smile, which he immediately returned.  From high above him, his mother said something that caught my attention.  “We have to be about the gift of giving and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit,” she said.

I looked up quickly, wondering what those words might mean, what with us sprawled on the sidewalk not five feet from her.  But when I caught her eye, she looked away and quickened her pace.

Now the family was well past us.  But the boy in the stroller still looked straight at me.  the further away they got, the further he leaned out, looking back, fixing me with his grin and a steady gaze.

That seemed like the gift of giving to me.

We sat for another couple of minutes, trying to gather the strength to get up and earn our meal for the evening.  Suddenly the restaurant door burst open, bringing the familiar smells and sounds.  But then a large man wearing a tuxedo stood in front of us.  “You’ve got to leave now, guys,” he announced.  “You’re killing our business.  With you out here, no one wants to come in.”

“No problem,” I said.  I knew it would happen sometime, it always did.

“No problem,” Sam echoed in a monotone.  “You got it.”

Without another word the man marched back inside, mission accomplished, taking the aroma of dinner and the laughter of friends with him.

We struggled to our feet and reached for our packs.  “That’s okay,” I said, groaning under the unwelcome weight.  “We need to go play anyway.”

“Yeah,” said Sam.  “And besides, my back is starting to cook.”

We picked up our guitars and set off down the sidewalk.  “Do you like Chicken Parmesan?” I asked.

“No.  Not really.”

“Me either.”

 

(excerpt taken from pages 64-67)

Do We Write Off Hitler Too Easily?

(Okay, if yesterday’s post went off the deep end, today’s is lost to the Mariana Trench!)

What REALLY is so wrong with a little murder?*

Okay.  Let me be clear on this.  I am not advocating that you break the law here.  But maybe we should change the laws to permit this thing we call murder.  Please, hear me out before you tune me out.  I have been blogging to deaf eyes and blind ears for two years now, and I really think it’s time to make a real impact.  So, yeah… change the murder laws – at least tweak them.

Are you sure you thought this through clearly before now and didn’t just have a kneejerk reaction?

“Murder”.  It’s such a strong word for it.  Don’t you think?  Kind of a stigma to it.  I mean, sure, if we are talking about killing ME… I get it.  (And by “ME”, I mean you too, of course.)  I mean, I have plans for tomorrow, and if you are reading here, I expect you do too.  But let’s look more closely at this little thing we so easily call “murder”.

We are talking about ending the life of another.

Got it.

So… we all die, right?  I mean, you are going to die.  I am going to die.  We don’t like to think about it too much, but it is inevitable.  So, really murder is just speeding up the natural process actually.  I mean, you are not going to want to die next week, but then neither will you want to die five years from now.  And who knows when it will happen?  But its inevitability is still certain.  So what is so wrong with speeding it up … a little?

And anyway, the world would be a better place without SOME people, don’t you think?  How about the infirm?  The old?  Unwanted pregnancies?  The poor?  I mean, sure, there will be some resistance from those slated to undergo it, but the young, the strong, the free should not be hindered by these… Wouldn’t you agree?

They cost the rest of us too much.  How much of your tax goes to care for them?  And wouldn’t the young, single ladies who find themselves in a jam be much better off pursuing those glass-ceiling shattering careers without all the baggage?

And those bums on the corner begging for my hard-earned cash!  Unsightly.  And the smell!!!  Aren’t they really suffering anyway?  I mean, come on… Surely God is really okay with a little murder in these instances.  I mean, cleanliness is next to godliness, right?  It says so in the Bible, I think.  Not sure where, but I know it’s in there.  And God made us to be independent and free, right?  It says so in the Constitution or something, which also God inspired – right?  I mean, I drive by beggars and bums on my way to church, and there they are… not getting a job or a bath.  I mean, I saw one there when the light turned red on my way to church last Sunday, and I literally had to lock my door and turn away in case he looked at me.

So, really, I think Hitler was on to something.  I don’t mean to say his whole program was great, but really, what is so wrong with a little murder here and there?  We might actually be doing God a favor!  His world could be glorious again.  Creation reaching its full potential!  Those bums should get out of my way as I go to church.  They should remain out of sight so that I can worship God in peace and not have to even think about them.

I mean, the nagging sense of guilt I feel when I see them just isn’t right.  They are there of their own choosing.  It’s their own fault, not mine.  I should not have to be bothered.

Don’t you think you should hit the like button on this?  Surely, I am talking your language now.

How can you worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?  How can you blow off a homeless man on your way to church in the late Summer and early Fall and treat that any different than murder?  Isn’t that the reason you divert your eyes away, so that when they die you don’t have to care?

Okay… Like this if you are disgusted and mortified by it.  (I hope that gets your attention.)

(Neo-Nazi and KKK – keep on moving.  This post wasn’t really for you.  Hope I don’t need to spell that out for you too.)

*Please, please, PLEASE! Keep in mind, I am not actually condoning real murder here.  I employ satire to make you see the world you are engaged in a bit differently as well as your position in it.

How About A Good Old Fashioned Book Burning?

(Okay… This blog is going off the deep end as of now.)

Yeah.  Welcome to the Fat Beggars School of Prophets First Annual Bogus Book BBQ.  Got a Christian Best Seller out there damaging God’s Kingdom Cause?  Let’s burn it.*

The featured book on the first annual BBQ will be When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert.  The single biggest hurt ever caused by helping comes from this book.  It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that almost invented its own problem and then solved it by doing the very thing it warns against.

Wow!  It would seem that it takes talent to do that.

Never mind that Jesus says to “give to all who ask” (Luke 6:30) or even told at least one rich guy to sell all he owned, give it to the poor, count his riches in heaven, and then come follow…(Mark 10:21).  Yeah, never mind that Jesus teaches the disciples to pray “Forgive us our debt as we forgive the debt of others” (Matt. 6:12).  (Do you know how much something costs when you forgive the debt for it?  It’s Free!  A Gift Given Freely!!!)  This book would have you be wiser than the foolishness of God.  (Seems like St. Paul says something about that too (See I Cor. 1 and 2 (esp. 1:18 & 25 and 2:14)).)

Yeah, I find it ironic that the homeless and poor weren’t lining up to tell us not to give them money or help because it just hurt so bad.  No.  That was my Christian friends, whom I suspect were feeling a little left out by their conservative politics as they realized they were basically doing at (or through the) church what FOX NEWS was blaming on “liberals”.  Heaven help us!  We sure don’t want to be confused with them!!!

And so we got this book that defies the words of Jesus while it claims to be biblical.  (Actually I never heard of “poverty of spiritual intimacy”, “poverty of being”, “poverty of community”, or “poverty of stewardship” before reading this book.  These terms are not in the Bible.  I mean, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, but he does not say, “Blessed are those suffering poverty of spiritual intimacy”.  It sounds similar, but that ignores the fact that he blesses these folx to begin with.)  Thus the supposed biblical support is counterfeit.  You can’t trust it.  Where in the story of the rich young man being told to sell everything do we find even a hint of “Asset-Based Community Development” (ACBD)?  Where is ABCD in the healing of the blind, the lepers, the raising of the dead?  Where is ACBD in the feeding of the 5000 or the 4000?  Five loaves and two fish?  Is that the asset base Corbett and Fikkert are directing you to?

The irony doesn’t end there.  After years of assuming that GIVING money or “help” to the poor inherently causes them harm, and with the so-called biblical insights provided by people like Corbett and Fikkert which reinforce this notion, some weirdos in New York began tallying up economic cost in DOLLARS going down the drain by not giving to the poor.  They started a few pilot programs of taking the absolute worst addicts and sick people living on the streets and under bridges and GIVING them housing – even without first asking them to clean up.

Here was the theory: The MONEY was just going down the drain by the bucket loads when the average hardcore, chronically homeless addict/drunk caught a seasonal cold which turned into pneumonia and then called an ambulance to take them to the ER where they wound up being admitted to the hospital and leaving the tab for the taxpayers.  (The same was true for arresting the bum for PI or exposing themselves when urinating in the bushes.  They go to jail for a few days on the taxpayer dime, incurring court costs along the way.)  If we simply rent these people a room with no stipulations, these things almost never happen – no hospital costs or court fees.  Just one week of either of these exorbitant expenses would far exceed the cost of a month’s rent.  Yet just by living indoors, these expenses suddenly vanished.  So… GIVING the bums a place to stay turns out to be cheaper!

So they tried it.

AND IT WORKED!

I am not claiming 100% success, but the state of Utah started a “Housing First” program, as it came to be called, and aimed to end homelessness entirely in that state.  I am not sure how close they got to it, but I am sure it was very close.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/lntv3q/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-the-homeless-homed

But here’s my point: As soon as this secular ECONOMIC interest became clear, even the faith-based conservatives began abandoning their When Helping Hurts ideals as fast as they could.  And I don’t really care about what political conservatives think, but the fact that my church felt so alienated from them at first and then did a whiplash One-Eighty when the MONEY dictated, lets me know they weren’t really in it for Jesus.  Once again the church is following the culture rather than leading.  And it seems in service really to Mammon instead of Jesus.  And all those Scriptures Corbett and Fikkert twisted out of context and into their own little program, though the method sold a lot of books and sounded all Christian, made the paper it was all printed on not worth the trees they killed to sell it.

But even more than all that.  Some, not all, but a significant number of these bums of the most drastic and chronically homeless types began cleaning up their lives and moving off the public dole.  This, of course, just absolutely flies in the face of the When Helping Hurts wisdom, making it look stupider than the foolishness of God.

Thus Corbett and Fikkert (and friends) did harm with their help – the very thing they warned us about.

If you had to choose a book to take with you to either a deserted island or into ministry and the only two options were the Bible or When Helping Hurts… Which one would you take?  Why?.

So… When Helping Hurts will be our first winner of the Bogus Book BBQ award.

Please, if you are reading this blog… Find a copy of this lame book in your pastor’s library and burn it.  If you live or work in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, find this book in the office and slip it out to the campfire tonight!  Rid the world of this trash.*

 

*(The promotion of the idea of actually burning books, as presented on this blog, is intended to be satirical – tongue-n-cheek.  Please don’t take this to be my words here as instructions from the computer to actually set real fire to real books.  – thanx)

 

 

Okay… Who Went To Worship All Dirty And Stinky Today?

Did you?

No… not him.  You.  Did you go to church having missed a couple of showers?

No… not her.  You.  Did you wear dirty smelly clothes, no makeup, hair a mess?

You didn’t?

You mean to tell me NOBODY reading here did it?

Hmmm…

So, when all those street homeless people who so desperately need Jesus showed up at church where you worship today… Who did they sit with?  Who did they talk to?  Who did they identify with?

Oh… they didn’t come?

You have a latte bar in the lobby, free donut holes enough to feed an army, but you didn’t attract any homeless people to Jesus?

(That should be the easiest thing in the world to do.)

I bet you get all your rich family and friends Christmas presents this year too.

I wonder why they didn’t come.

A Word From Tony Campolo

I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.
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Here’s the really ironic part: I don’t think it changed starvation in the world when Tony Campolo delivered this message.  I don’t think my urging readers to care for the homeless is going to change things now.  And I think my culture is so numb and checked out that I could light myself on fire and probably someone would “Like” it, but still not open their church  house doors to the poor tonight.
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Stupid Galatians… Who bewitched you???