Feel God’s Pain (and Open Your Heart to Him)

Jesus comes from Heaven and is tempted as we are, endures everything we endure and FEELS our pain (and then some) as God’s special representative of himself.  He shows us the LOVE of God, not merely in his healing touch and kind words, not merely in his right leadership and rounding up of strays, but evermore so in his taking our punishment on our behalf, in his paying our price for us.

These are standard observations made by Christians for many generations.

But what does God’s pain feel like?  Has he ever shown you?

Yes.  He has.

Not least in his prophets, and perhaps most personally in Hosea.

Hosea’s calling is not the standard call for all people of God everywhere at all times.  Marrying a whore is ill advised.  But Hosea seems to be the exception.

Why?

So that he can give us a special word from God.

He is not the only preacher to ever give us this word – at least in the general outline, but he is the one who most TAKES US THERE where the bone and marrow are ripped apart and God’s own heart is utterly broken with shame, pain, and despair.

Yes, Hosea does the unthinkable because God calls him to do it.  He falls in love with a hooker.  He becomes EVERYONE’s fool.  A jerk, and idiot, a crazy man who should know better.  He brings this pain on himself needlessly.  He so easily could have found a nice girl to settle down with and make a family, but God calls him to marry a whore AND LOVE HER.

And the whore?

Well, she does what most whores would do in such a situation.  She takes the money and runs.  She feels good for a moment, and then chases the breeze looking for thrills and cash elsewhere.  She is so fickle and untrue at every level.  And it is devastating to Hosea and his kids, whom he even names “not my kids”.

Wow!

Why would Hosea do this?

Because God called him to it.

Why would God call him to it?

So that Hosea can know HIS pain (and so you can too).

God is a fool for you.  He has paid every price and endured every shame and still you turn your back and drop your panties at the mere mention of the whim!

You can find this level of insight in the other prophets too, actually, but Hosea brings it HOME in a most personal way.  Every horrible pain Hosea endures tells us of the longsuffering of God’s grace poured out for us.  Wanna FEEL God’s love???  Read Hosea aloud while standing naked before a mirror.  It’s just You and God there with no pretense in the way.

Does God call all good little Christian boys to marry whores and love them?

No.

But he did call this one to do it, and now he calls you to listen to what this one says to you about it.

Only Jesus is more personal with you than Hosea, and Jesus actually lives Hosea’s calling out even fuller than Hosea does.  He is married to you now.  His wedding takes place at his coronation – not unlike Adam and Eve.  The naked Jesus comes to pay the price to have your love with a love that is only divine.

Feel his love reach into depths unspeakable where he will endure all pain just to have your devotion.

I have these things in mind as I knock on the church’s door.  I take, prophetically, the role of the homeless unwelcome in your assembly, and I speak their part and that of Jesus.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If you open up to me, I will come in and party with you!”

And when you refuse to open the door and let me in, I feel the rejection the homeless feel.  I feel the rejection Jesus feels.  The cold heart that will not open to God is a cold steel door with a lock on it and every rationalization for keeping him out.  And I feel it.  And I tell you about it.

I write here sharing my experiences so that you (among other things) can feel it too.

It’s cold out here.  You have a fire in there, but you don’t have Jesus.  Invite him in.  If you do, he will come in and PARTY with you.

It’s a heavenly party!  Won’t you open the door???

Can’t you FEEL the pain?

What if it were your son or daughter stuck out in the cold knocking on that church house door?  Wouldn’t you hope the servant left in charge of the door was alert and ready?

What if it was you???

What if that person knocking at the door were your God?  Would you be on the alert and ready to open to him when he knocked?

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Getting Kicked Out of “Church” via Text Msg

Archived 2014

See recent posts for all pertaining disclaimers which apply here as well.  Find disclaimers in purple text color.

Copied here with ALMOST NO EDITING.  I preserved the messages (except for identities) as closely as I can.

Walking out of work and the end of my shift, I open my phone and find a text message which begins the following exchange(s).

Here is the text message exchange:

March 8, 5:58pm From  [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X].

[Agent X], this is [Prof. Erudite]. It was good to see your dad at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] last Sunday.

Would you be able to meet with [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Board folks tomorrow at 1:00 at the building? We have talked about some of your concerns and think it is a good idea to discuss them with you.

I’m sorry for the late notice. I had been leaving voice mails at the wrong number for over a week. I just got it sorted out today. Let me know, please, whether you can make it.

Thanks!

March 8, 9:01pm [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]

[Prof. Erudite], I wonder if I should expect a fruitful meeting. We have yet to hold one that is fruitful for me, and leaves me wondering whether the board wants rid of me. I am working this weekend and am not available anyway. Perhaps some indication whether I stand to gain or not is in order at this point too.

I hold you guys in prayer frequently. I pray God be honored and that he move powerfully in our assembly. I am sure you can join in that prayer. I invite you to join me in prayer and waiting on God’s response.

Thanks

March 8, 10:06pm [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]

[Agent X], yes, we will join you in the prayer you mention. The sixth century monk Dorotheos likened the relationship between God and people like a wheel hub and its spokes. As the spokes (people) moved closer to the hub (God), they necessarily moved closer to one another and vice versa. The board wishes to draw closer to you, not to be rid of you. As we do this, there is mutual gain for all of us toward one another and toward God. I cannot help but believe that such an increase in mutuality is one positive answer to the prayer we shall join you in.

As we wait for God’s response together, could you suggest times when your schedule would permit getting together?

Peace and all good to us all.

March 9, 7:27am [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]

I plan, weather permitting, to camp out Monday night on the streets. Perhaps your board of directors could meet with my bored and directed? I am not kidding. We could meet at about 8:30ish where James n May sleep behind [Premier Homeless Pseudo]’s Kitchen or in memorial park. If its too cold you can join me and guests at my house… let me know. I’m gone to work at hospital now…

March 10, 6:58pm [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]

[Agent X], I have passed on your invitation to the board members. However, I’m unclear whether yours is a counter-invitation to our desire to talk with you.

We desire a private discussion. Would you be available one evening this week to meet privately? Our purpose is, as I wrote earlier, to increase our mutual concern for one another in a way that promotes clarity.

Our hearts are open to you, [Agent X]. What evening this week works for you?

March 10, 9:33 pm [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]

I really was not kidding about inviting you to join us on the streets tonite. I wonder why you declined… hmmm… Surely communion with our flock promotes mutuality… I have met privately with the board twice. I certainly found no mutuality in that. I have no interest in more of it. I will decline your invitation too.

March 11, 12:28 am [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]

[Agent X], forgive me: I am confused by your response. I said I was unclear how you wished me to understand your invitation vis-à-vis ours to you. I did what I could and sent yours on. Surely, you didn’t want me to demand or use guilt to manipulate board members to join you, did you? This is not the way of our Lord to his friends.

In truth, [Agent X], texting is quite an unreliable way to express ourselves clearly and, perhaps, with charity. For instance, I briefly considered whether your question about why I declined to meet with you and others came from your genuine concern for me or whether you were – – forgive the uncharitable thought! – – imitating the condescending, judgmental “hmmm?” of Dana Carvey’s SNL character, the Church Lady.

I admit this to my shame. My recollection of your longstanding practice of sharing the body and blood of The Lord with those whom you would embrace in love quickly dispelled that notion.

You say you did not experience mutuality the two times we met recently. I am so sorry. Did we not solemnly begin our meeting sharing the Lord’s body and blood first? I truly extended my heart to you both times; I had no desire to participate just to avoid an awkward refusal or for a crass show. I would rather not eat and drink judgment upon myself.

[Agent X], our hearts are open to you. We desire to meet with you privately. Moreover, I deeply desire that we approach one another in love. To be honest, your response reminded me way too quickly of the serious warning in 1 Cor 13:3. I shall pray that Paul’s description not lay truthful claim on any of us.

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ immeasurably bless your faithful effort for his name’s sake.

[Prof. Erudite]

March 11, 7:31 am [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]

Let me be brief but clear: I am done with private board meetings. I am not here discussing why. On the other hand, I am inviting you to worship with many from our flock (and others) out on the streets. In fact more than “being open” to it… you are wanted there. Hope that is clear.

March 11, 10:51 am [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]

[Agent X], our hearts are still open to you. Our desire to speak with you in an environment where we can attend carefully and fully to our discussion remains.

We hear your persistent invitation. Rest assured, we are attending to our calls from God in this area to the best of our abilities. We pray that you follow God’s voice in your ministry as well.

We also ask, for your sake and ours, that [you*] join us in following God’s word from Romans 14:4-12.

Peace and all good to you. [Prof. Erudite].

* the word “you” was missing in the original. I figure [Prof. Erudite] was texting me on a phone and accidentally omitted it. I supply it here assuming (safely enough, I think) that he meant it there.

March 12, 10:49am [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]

[Agent X], our hearts are open to you. The board asked you three times, in good faith, to meet privately. We wanted to share our concerns about your words and actions that we perceive as divisive. We wanted to provide you an opportunity to explain why we are mistaken. Multiple times, we appealed to you to extend blessing to us in the efforts we believe our Master directs us – – just as we prayed our Master’s blessing upon your efforts. But you did not. We asked you to meet with us; you demanded we come to you. We blessed your commitments; you questioned ours.

We on the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Leadership team – all 10 board members and all 5 ministry team members – wanted to avoid a rift with you over our different ministry callings. Our hearts are genuinely open to you. But we oppose your efforts to create a “prophets” faction among our members, to encourage brothers and sisters to condemn sisters and brothers over matters of perceived calling, and to backbite at the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s board and ministry team. Your actions, words, and attitudes toward some of your brothers and sisters at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] are not from Christ. These destroy the unity we share at the Table. For your sake and those you influence, we entreat you: discern the Body carefully.

The [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Leadership team requests that you avoid all activity on the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s property immediately, including Sundays. This request will remain until you meet privately with the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] Leadership team to resolve this situation in a way that restores unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace between us. How quickly this happens depends on you.

May our Master continue to bless your every faithful effort in His Name – truly.

[Prof. Erudite], for the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Leadership

 

[THE END]

Getting Clarity

Archived 2014

In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.

Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).

However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.

Here is the entry:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014, Lub/TX

 

I met with the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] board of directors again yesterday evening.  [Mr. Big], [Prof. Erudite], and [T-Bird] – along with the “executive minister”, [Pastor Bates], as well.  [Agent MyDad] came with me, and at my urging, [Nurse Paratrooper], a friend from work who also happens to be an NA coordinator at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] also came.  ([Nurse Paratrooper] has both shown some frustration and interest in the issue at hand and so his presence seemed pertinent to me.)

We met at Market Street again, and again [Agent MyDad] and I brought communion.  However we were told this would be brief because [Mr. Big] had a flight to catch.  So we offered a QUICK communion [to accommodate] and sat back to see how the thing would unfold.  [This meeting (like the previous one) was called at their request.  Judging by how the last one earned me ABSOLUTELY NO compromises, and by the way my effort to have a meeting with the shepherd from Broadway [Cathedral] Church had been stood up, I only came because I was curious.  What possibly was going to change?  If there was going to be any change, it would surely be in a positive direction since that was the only avenue left open for any.]

[Prof. Erudite] did most (though not all) of the talking.  [He took the lead in addressing me from this point forward in all communications hereafter.]  It became clear rather quickly that the board had decided against my protest.  [And we needed a second meeting for this???]  However, they started by alluding to a passage from Romans about holding differing opinions on various things yet maintaining unity.  I was told that I was valued and my continued presence was desired, but I was not going to get ANY COMPROMISE, NEGOTIATION, CONCESSION – NOTHING!  The decision had been made, I needed to accept that.  I was even told that there would be no way I might change their mind in the future.

Now these guys came with a gentle tone and all, but they really wrote off every bit of my concern.  Not one ounce of my concern got even one ounce of concession.  But they did bring up all manner of related issues – none of which were my protest.  And ultimately they made a case that their history and mission is all geared toward being a “day center” rather than a night shelter.

Again, the issue of whether or not they care was brought up.  Again they talked about “enabling” bad behavior.  Again they spoke in terms of not being able to “do it all.”  And even at one point the “executive minister” said that they had talked about it, prayed about it, decided on it, and though they didn’t even know if it was what Jesus wanted – that is the way it was going to be!

WOW!!!

They addressed the issue of volunteers as analogous to a substitute teacher in a school who can’t keep order over the unruly kids the way the regular teacher can.  [Mr. Big] particularly made this point.

And I quietly listened to it all.  Then [Agent MyDad] began responding and saying that obviously there is a hole in the services provided that would have to be filled by someone else.  The board members seemed to agree.  And it appeared that the whole meeting might just wind down in a whimper.

But then I spoke up.  I asked for CLARITY.  I heard them all tell me NO in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, but I heard them rationalize it by addressing EVERYTHING under the sun EXCEPT for the ONE SINGLE issue I had raised.

I spoke forcefully and with direct eye contact with [Prof. Erudite].  I said I could dance around all these issues [they raise], or I could just get straight at the point – [but first] I turned to [Pastor Bates] and praised him for all the good things he has done.  But then I turned back to [Prof. Erudite] and said, “But I want to be clear about the ONE ISSUE I HAVE RAISED because I NEVER heard anyone address it yet.

So I restated in blunt terms and bold tone, “You are telling me that on nights when it is 30 degrees F or below AND you DO have volunteers ready to help, that you are still going to CLOSE THAT DOOR!  [Am I hearing you right???]

It seemed to shake him up.  He suddenly wanted to talk more about it.  [I guess, [Mr. Big]’s fight would wait?]  He became alarmed at my “passion.”  And then he had to rephrase it, ask me to say it again, and he appeared to almost squirm in his seat.  He even suggested that I had not said this before at the earlier meeting, which I rebutted that I had.  At that point [Agent MyDad] jumped in and reiterated my position, and even [Nurse Paratrooper] said he knew it to be my position (though [Nurse Paratrooper] had not been a witness to the previous meeting).

[Prof. Erudite] seemed quite worried – almost afraid to commit to the decision at that point.  I had to reassure him that I meant what I said, I wanted to be CLEAR that THIS is what the board was denying – not everything under the sun, but merely THIS ONE POINT.

Finally, he said YES – that is what the board meant to deny me.  And with that I was done.

The meeting broke up on that note.  We shook hands and smiled and drifted apart.  I did ask [Prof. Erudite] just before he split if he would be available to visit with me on other topics at other times.  He really gave me the blow-off excuse then about how busy he is and made no commitment whatsoever to that.

This from the guys who twice applied pressure on me to take seriously the urgency of meeting with them!  And now I believe they NEVER had any desire to seriously consider my actual position but rather seriously considered how to marginalize me.

But why?  Why not just ignore me like before???

And the Romans unity stuff – where is that now?  That wasn’t really about unity.  It was really designed to be a yoke/muzzle for me.  There is no out reached hand of fellowship toward me now – only cowards running away to hide behind closed doors again.

Hmmm…

[Agent X], Please Report To The Principal’s Office!

Archived 2013

In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.

Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).

However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.

Here is the entry:

Saturday, December 28, 2013, Lub/TX

 

What a holiday season it has been?  [Mrs. Agent X] and I have hosted our street friends to spend the night in our home at least as much as not almost since Thanksgiving.  [H] and [Menace], [Agent J], [Agent D], and Tanya have all come through and spent a few nights with us when [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] closed and ran them off.

None of that is terribly big news to anyone reading this [blog] thus far.  However, on Christmas Eve, I received a text msg from [Mr. Big] desiring to have an “informal” meeting with me in which another board member or two might “sit down” with me and discuss my “frustration.”

   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

(I am finding myself too busy to write a complete a thought!  It is now the next day, Dec. 29, and I am in San Antonio, Texas [on a matter of family business].)

    *   *   *   *   *   *   *

So, to sum up….  On Friday, Dec. 27, I met at Market Street with [Mr. Big], [Prof. Erudite], and [T-bird].  Suddenly I have 3 (count ’em THREE – 1, 2, THREE!) board members breaking away mid-day from whatever other things they otherwise find important to come talk to me for 2 hours!  I really don’t know, as yet, what I did to get their attention.  They did not say, I have to guess, for certainly I have tried many times, many ways.

I took [Agent MyDad] with me to the meeting.  We offered communion, and all three accepted and joined us in the middle of the Market Street Café.  They also came with gentle attitudes and charitable demeanor.  And they asked to hear from me.

I chose to focus in on one single issue.  I protested the decision of leadership to close the door of [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] on homeless needy people when it is freezing temps and volunteers are available.

Despite the charitable demeanor, these men did not budge an inch on that issue.  Rather, they characterized my protest as frustration and anger, but [Agent MyDad] refused to let them do that.  Again and again, he rebutted until they relented that my protest was a matter of “SADNESS.”

The conversation went on at length.  Eventually, [Prof. Erudite] revealed that he is concerned about my relationship with the “executive minister”, [Pastor Bates], and he believes I take issue with his ministry-shaping book, When Helping Hurts, which I do.  [However, I did NOT make ANY of that my issue to settle with these men.]  But this was tipping his hand a bit too.

It tells me that I have been heard, and that up until now I was being ignored.  [Prof. Erudite] had to have done some kind of research to learn these things, and now he is invested in knowing me.

But [Agent MyDad] made a comment afterward that still rings in my ears: “They came to the [executive ministers] defense.”  That is a powerful observation.  It says these men really care for their minister.  And I appreciate that!  I doubt my boss(es) would take such a stand for me.  It is especially refreshing to see that in a church/ministry where so often ministers are treated as disposable.

On the other hand, it tells me they view me as a potent threat to defend against!  I have appeared powerful to them in some way.  Yes, they seek to neutralize me, but they did think they need 3 board members who will break in the middle of the day at an hour and place of my choosing to come to the defense of their boy!

I don’t feel so powerful, but I see that I have drawn a powerful reaction.  (More on that [another time]…)

I need to review a moment here.  I came with ONE SINGLE ISSUE to protest.  I have been protesting it for weeks now.  I could have chosen a number of issues, but I have taken on only one.  And I have tempered my concern on that one issue dramatically.  I protest specifically this:

When volunteers are available and the temperature drops to 30 degrees F or below, the door should be open to the needy.

I will relent IF volunteers are not available, but even then I would suggest engaging a program to drum up more.  I find it unacceptable for the shepherds of a church to tell the flock to scatter into the night – ESPECIALLY when fresh volunteers are coming to help!!!

The first time I addressed this, I was told we had “no volunteers.”  That was not true on that occasion, and I demonstrated that I knew better.  And since then I have heard of other cases when volunteers were turned away.  Also, I have spoken to at least one volunteer who told me he has never been called upon!

Then when I addressed it a 2nd time, I was told we were “teaching these people” to take responsibility for themselves.  I refuted that notion as well.  Then I was told I need to merely accept “leadership decisions..”

On a later occasion, when it came up again, the “executive minister” actually told me it was “WARM.”

Now at the meeting with the board members, I was essentially being told to accept leadership decisions, that there are many behind-the-scenes, logistical factors that go into these decisions of which I am not privy (nor invited to become privy) and so I should accept them.

Now there is this other front that [Prof. Erudite] brings to bear in which he wants to broker peace and harmony between the “executive minister” and me.  And I am hopeful that we might find fruitful results in that.  I promised [Prof. Erudite] to devote myself to caring for that evermore so.

Yet, I also think about how once upon a time leadership in Alabama made a decision that black people sit in the back of the bus.  That decision made a lot of sense to leadership and a lot of white people too, and was intended to be accepted without question.  And I am mindful that Rosa Parks may have been angry, cranky, and hard to get along with.  [I don’t think her feelings/attitude undercut her protest at all.  I think it stood or failed on the merits of it’s own reasonability.]  But I bet she did not imagine the overwhelming POWER she brought to the table – nor did leadership – until it was unleashed.

I am really having trouble with a leadership decision that gets defended with untrue statements of various kinds [smokescreens] on the one hand and broken philosophy and hegemony [powerplays] on the other.  I do not accept that.  And the fact that these answers are changing as they do, and that THREE board members would break away mid-day to suddenly come caring about what I have to say tells me that there is a lot of nervous energy going on at headquarters and a lot of POWER knocking on that shut, locked door.

We opened that meeting sharing communion.  A meal the “executive minister” was once invited to join, but which he declined saying, “I already ate a big meal” and then asked us (shortly thereafter) to leave [the “church” property].  His bosses came to the meal.  [The one he rejected.]  The invitation still awaits the “executive minister”.  Hopefully, he will come and hopefully Jesus will be revealed, the ministers reconciled and the flock gathered into the fold!

 

Serving the Homeless in a Broken Home “Church” (from the archives)

Archived 2013

(Warning! This is a long post.  Copied from the old journal James Led A Prayer Today.  All the disclaimers in purple text from recent previous posts apply here too, but I will skip reproducing them to aid in shortening this long winded entry.)

Here it is:

Sunday, December 22, 2013, Broadway [Cathedral] Church

 

I hate that this book [James Led A Prayer Today] seems to be turning into a book of complaints.  Perhaps that is no bad thing.  The worship book of Psalms certainly is full of them.  In that sense, I am in good company.

We are having another cold weekend.  It is not as bad as the previous two cold snaps, but it rained over an inch (as I hear it through the grapevine) back on Friday night.  I also sent a message to the “executive minister” early that morning to see if he was looking for volunteers.

Friday night, when I got off work, I found a response telling me that the church was open [Yay!!!] but no need for me to volunteer to chaperone.  I was pleased that it was open.

The “executive minister” and his wife had taken a small group of homeless people with them to Ruidoso, NM to the ski lodge for a few nights and were not in town on Friday night.  [I happen to think taking the homeless to go skiing is pretty cool of them to do.  No one ever asked, but I have that opinion of it, all the same.  If you are going on a fancy vacation, why not take a less fortunate person too?]  They also were not on hand to receive the [local bank] award of $10,000, and so [Mr. Big], the president of the board of directors over [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] accepted it in their place.

All went well enough until Saturday afternoon (yesterday).  [Agent MyDad] and I went to the “National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day” prayer vigil at Dave Frericks Park by the [other, here nameless, major homeless outreach organization].  The date for the vigil is chosen because Dec. 21st is the longest night of the year.  The purpose is to commemorate people who die homeless.  The event was sponsored by [a city health agency] and the [other, here nameless, major homeless outreach organization].  It also was covered by TV news cameras.

The sun did break out around 3:30pm on the vigil briefly, but mostly it was cloudy and cold with light/moderate winds.  I believe the temperature was in the high 30’s F.  There was a hotdog vender, prayers, a song, an address by Karen Garza, Mayor pro tem and a nice poem.  We also used electronic candles as we remembered the homeless who died this past year.

It was about 10-15 minutes after the vigil started before the “executive minister”, his wife, and the handful of homeless people they took to the ski trip arrived.  They drove “straight in” to the vigil, and reported that snows back in New Mexico had slowed their return.  Some of the homeless came up and greeted me, but the ministers did not.

I approached the minister(s) and congratulated them.  They seemed surprised that I knew about the $10,000 award.  [Perhaps, since they had been out of town, they were unaware of the publicity of it.  But that seems unlikely, actually.]  But they accepted my congratulations with smiles.  We didn’t seem to have anymore to talk about, so I drifted away.

The vigil closed with a poem that certainly was fiction, but resonated with the passage from Matthew 25:31-46.  It was called “The Christmas Guest” and told about an old man who received a message from God that God would come eat at his place as a special Christmas guest.  The old man made preparations and eagerly anticipated God to come.  However, he was visited by 3 needy people with various troubles who he did not have the heart to turn away.  The needy people used up his time and resources, but then no “special” guest ever arrived.

At the end of the poem, the old man laments that God had not come as promised, but then God speaks to him and declares that actually he had come 3 times and was welcomed 3 times.  The poem is simple, and even lacks true artistic beauty, and still it is powerful as it resonates so powerfully with Jesus’ words in Matthew 25.  And these were the closing remarks at the prayer vigil.

Then as [the gathering of small crowds] were breaking up to go our separate ways, the minister’s wife came up and greeted [Agent MyDad].  The odd thing is that she was pointing out that he was wearing shorts on such a cold day.  It was like she was ribbing an old friend, but really she is not that close to him, and so it seemed like a social faux pas.  I tried to diffuse it and said, “Well… he is from Seattle!”  Then we walked away.

As we were withdrawing, some of the homeless group approached me to say that the [ministers] had decided to close the church building.  Of course this was upsetting.

I gave a couple of them a ride up to the church after that.  I saw the “executive minister” there again and waved him over as he was about to drive away.

I asked, “Are you really closing up the building again tonight?

He said, “Yes.”

I asked, “Is there a lack of volunteers again, or are we teaching these people a lesson?

He looked at me in the eye and said, “It’s warm….

I was stunned.

Warm.”

That was the man’s word for the temp we were experiencing at 4 in the afternoon.

I have not written here about how that my wife has taken the last two days off work because she was sick with vomiting.  But she did.  And with that, among other pressures, I am not equipped presently to take people for the night.  I could volunteer at the building, but that is not an option because “leadership has made a decision” and it is “warm.”

I managed to get away without anyone of the homeless confronting me or making request.  I went home.  And our family had a nice, memorable drive out to Ransom Canyon to see Christmas lights and then watch a movie together.  Somewhere around 7:30 – 8pm, we began getting calls and messages from [Menace] and [H] (from Agent D’s phone) requesting a place to stay because they were getting “cold!”

My wife, [Agent MyDad], and I discussed this at length as we drove around looking at lights with the kids.  My wife never gave an indication that she would take in guests.  However, [Agent MyDad] did.  And ultimately, he left our family get-together and went to McDonalds and got [H] and [Menace] and took them to his apartment.

In the middle of the night, around 1-1:30am, our oldest boy, [Special Agent C], who is now in the USMC, came knocking on our door to wake us up.  It was a surprise – he came home for Christmas early!  Suddenly we had yet another reason not to have a house full of guests.  (Not that any of our reasons are worthy or excusable, but reasons all the same!)

By morning, it was snowing.  The snow was short-lived and did not accumulate, but let us recall that the reason given for not opening the church building up was because it was “WARM.”  I was starting to feel a lot of angst and anger.

I really want to belong to a church that seeks honestly and sacrificially to live like and be Jesus to the poor and needy.  Calling it “WARM” [when it snowed later that night] was a [contemptuous] LIE by anyone’s measure – including the minister’s wife who puzzled at [Agent MyDad] for wearing shorts back at 4 in the afternoon.  And really, I get that one, two, three, or four volunteers will not be enough to manage the problem every night of the winter.  But there is NO EXCUSE for turning away fresh volunteers just when God sends them in the nick of time!  And really, when $10,000 is freely given to your ministry, surely that is a resource that likewise calls forth action at just such a point!

I mean do you really think Lubbock voted [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] to have all that money to be part of a ministry for the homeless when that ministry arbitrarily closes it’s doors AFTER the TV news cameras are gone?  (Actually, I think that a huge number of “Christians” in Lubbock would approve of this nonsense, but maybe not enough of them to win that vote!  And I am quite sure [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s leadership would rather [not face the risk to] find out!)

And besides, as long as I am on the topic of $10,000, I am mindful that Shane Claiborne, supposedly a hero of these ministers, tells of a time (in his book The Irresistible Revolution) when he too obtained $10,000.  He and his crew cashed it all into nickels, dimes, quarters, and small bills, stuffed it all into bookbags, went up to Wall Street (The Temple of Mammon if ever there was one), and declared a Jubilee as they cast all that money on the ground and street!

That may look like a waste of $10,000 if you are greedy, but it looked like Jubilee to those ministers – and I would agree!  I bet I am the only one in my church that would agree with Claiborne on that point.

And so back to my lament, that I wish so much that I could belong to a church that really strived to live like Jesus.  I mean at least an attempt to be biblical.  It’s not really that complicated.

So, like I said, I get that 1, 2, 3, or four volunteers will not be enough.  But opening that door serves far more homeless people with fewer volunteers than keeping it closed does.  Still, if I keep 2 or 3 people tonight, you keep them tomorrow night, they stay with the Wilsons on Tuesday, and the Johnsons on Thursday, and back to me on Friday, we can do this all together.

On the other hand, it is deeply discouraging when I get NO help, [when] I see great money given to those who do not help (but claim they do on TV news Thanksgiving week) [and who in the meantime teach others NOT to help too (thanks Lupton, Corbett, and Fikkert!)], and when I (along with the homeless) endure the lie of calling this weather “WARM.”  I mean… Why even have that prayer vigil?  [Conscience salve???]  Think of it: Even as that poem was read about taking God into our homes, church leadership was already deciding to kick people off the property for the night!  Is this a CHURCH or not?

What would it have cost leadership to allow me to volunteer and chaperone the building last night?  How is it any different from the night before when they did use volunteers?

So I went to [Agent MyDad]’s this [fine Sunday] morning and got [H] and [Menace] and took them back up to [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church].  We arrived around 8:30 am (I think) and the door was still locked.  I could have driven away and come back later, but it was cold and that just is not right!  So I decided to invite them out to coffee to kill some time.

But first I went up to the front door of the “church” under the watchful eyes of at least two of the new sophisticated surveillance cameras.  I ascertained that the cameras have microphones on them too.  So I invited the others to join me in a prophecy.  I pounded the locked door, but looked into the camera and quoted Rev. 3:20 “Behold!  I stand at the door and knock.  If you open up to me, I will come in and eat with you….”

Then we went back to McDonalds where [Agent MyDad] had picked up [his guests] last night.  Upon entering, they ([H] and [Menace]) noticed [Agent D]’s belongings sitting there.  They both thought it was a sign that [Agent D] had spent the night in there.  I was angry then.

However, it turned out, after asking [Agent D] about it, that he went to his “spot” last night and one of his friends came out to check on him and then took him in for the night.  That made me feel better, but I was still in a lot of angst.

Then I saw Brent, a homeless man I met last time I volunteered at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] – a man who appears very fragile and sick.  We found out that he slept in a tent up at “the Methodist Church” (St. John’s, I think).  We gave him a ride back up there.  [H] then told me that she has seen well-meaning people drop him off at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] where they mistakenly presumed he would be sheltered for the night.  [Talk to me about When Helping Hurts NOW!]  She said his pitiful little blanket with a big hole in it (which he was carrying this morning) is all the shelter he’s got.  This got me steamed again.

By the time I returned to [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] with [H] and [Menace] again, the door was open and numerous people had begun to gather inside.  The ministers were there too.  I stepped inside, but I had also just got a call from my wife, and so I intended to return to her again too.  But first I spoke to some of those gathering and ultimately spoke to the “executive minister” as well.

I asked how long before he would close down the church again today.  He said, “The usual time.

I said, “When is that?

He said, “Noon.”

I said, “You’re gonna run everybody out of here at noon today?

He looked at me rather sheepishly.  One of the other ministers out in the sanctuary was just then calling everyone to sit down “for class.”  I said, “Have a good class,” and I left.

Sadly, I had not planned very well for any of these things.  I returned home in time to see my wife and family off to Vandelia Church.  [Mrs. Agent X] planned to join the kids back at that bunch.  I was on my own and full of angst.  I did not want to go to [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]; I did not want to go to Vandelia.  I really wanted only to worship with some people who would love Jesus – even if he were a homeless man.  I was really worried that I might not be in control of my mouth if I went back to [Premier].

As I rolled up Broadway, I was thinking about heading out to Tent City and look for [Agent T] – one of the original prophets.  But that would effectively be avoiding church.

Suddenly, I saw an empty parking spot out front of Broadway [Cathedral] Church.  It occurred to me that Broadway [Cathedral] Church is the real [power] behind the leadership at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church].  [Mr. Big] is one of the shepherds there.  Perhaps I should “REPRESENT” there.

I went in and began collecting literature.  I was greeted by a couple of elderly people, but mostly I felt out of place.  I had never entered that sanctuary before.  I decided to go sit down at the front.  It was a long walk.  The vaulted ceiling and stained glass were impressive.

As I approached the front, I saw [Secret Agent Stench], one of the foulest smelling human beings I ever knew, sitting slumped over on the third row.  I greeted him, and he greeted me.  Then I joined him.

[Secret Agent Stench] has a demeanor as repugnant as his smell [usually], but I was pleasantly surprised to find him greeting me and accepting my close proximity.  I did not want to spoil the vibe with more talk.  All I knew was that I have never been so happy to see [Stench] as that very moment.  It is so ironic how seeing him there made me feel I was not alone.

Then as people began to pour into the auditorium, a lady came and sat on our row – several seats away, but she did stop by to greet me.  She introduced her self as [Last name Big], so I asked if she was kin to [Mr. Big].  She said yes, he is her husband!  I told her I know her husband, and she and I quickly began discussing [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church].  She was enthused about the award of all that money.

She pondered the newfound windfall and all the possibilities it holds forth for transitional housing and all.  I kept thinking of Claiborne.

I don’t think [Mrs. Big] ever heard of me before, or if she did, then she failed to connect my name.  She was friendly and not guarded with me.  I bet that changes in the future.

I filled out a guest card with my name and address and phone number.  The card also asked for a prayer request.  I cannot quote myself exactly, but I basically called attention to the fact that I have friends from [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] who are sleeping on the streets out in the cold while “Christians” have guest rooms that go empty night after night.  I thought the shepherds should be praying about that.

[***Side Note here*** As of the publishing date of this post, I am currently unable to locate my notes about the subsequent contact this guest card elicited between one of Broadway [Cathedral] Church’s shepherds and myself.  However, he did reach out to me and we traded a very few emails.  He also invited me to visit him in his office there at the church building.  However, when I arrived seeking the chance to meet with him, he left me hanging in the [lobby/]secretary’s office for the better part of an hour before finally sending word via the secretary that he was not able to meet with me after all.  Thus I was stood up by this shepherd, and stood up in a very unpleasant way.  Thanx for the nice wait in the lobby to find out you couldn’t be bothered, Brother!  (Anyway, I will restrain from further remarks about that since I am unable to locate those notes currently since with memories over five years old, I would possibly misrepresent the facts if I got into the details of that part of this story.)  ***End Side Note***]

[After filling out that guest card] I joined the worship with enthusiasm.  I sang my heart out.  I “Amen’d” the good sermon up one side and down the other.  I have no doubt that my worship got noticed [as I was representin’].  And afterward, the little old lady in front of me was eager to greet me.

Then later this evening, [H] and [Menace] reached out to me again.  This time I came for them, and they are staying here with us.

Perhaps the most notable thing is that [H] reports that this morning as leadership at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] was asking for verbal prayer requests, [H] made one regarding [Mrs. Agent X] and me.  She wanted to thank God for us taking them in when the “church” would not!  She said [Menace] noticed that the church became silent as she spoke it.

[Also] as [H] and [Menace] made their way down to McDonalds to meet me this evening, they were met by the “executive minister” passing by.  He asked if they were not staying with me tonight.  [H] told him they were.  He gave them a ride to McDonalds to meet me!  Ha!

[H] also reported that [Mr. and Mrs. Big] had hosted [the homeless for] a Christmas party at their house earlier in the evening.  [Yay!!!  Oh my God!  Yay!!!  We need MORE of that, not less!]  She remarked on how big that house was and on the empty bedrooms.  [No one, it seems, was invited to fill them.]  I figure [Mr. Big] is in a position (since he was at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] this morning [while I was worshiping Jesus and visiting with his wife]), to both hear [H]’s prayer request and read mine.

I pray God is working on that man’s heart in new ways tonight.  I pray his wife is helping that process.

Okay, If The “Church” Won’t Keep You, Then Come Stay At My House (from the archives)

Archived 2013

 

Ripped from the journal pages of Agent X again: Several first names appear in this post again. Again, this is a break with common practice on this blog. See recent posts from earlier in this week for discussion of making exceptions.

Here is a copy of the next entry into the journal James Led A Prayer Today:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

 

 

(Okay, there is a lot to write about the last week, and I’ve been too busy to document it as I go.  It’s starting to be a blur.)

This week we began thawing out of Lubbock’s second cold-snap of the season.  The first one took several nights into deep freezing temps with ice and some snow.  [See previous post for more details concerning the first cold-snap.]  That caused [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] to open doors and seek volunteers.  It also led up to Thanksgiving Day, with leadership deciding to close up the building again on Thanksgiving night. [Great way to celebrate the holiday!  Guess the TV news cameras were gone, and no one would know except those living on the streets then.]

I had offered to chaperone two different nights (when I was off work) on Fri & Sat leading up to Thanksgiving.  Leadership plugged me in on Sat night.

I also noted that the TV news media came out and featured [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] one or two nights before I was plugged in.  This was both the 1st cold snap of the season and the week before Thanksgiving.

[Now,] two weeks later it hit all over again.  Again, I offered to volunteer two nights, was plugged in on Sat and not Fri.  Again, the weather was deadly cold and wet for several nights.

On this second cold-snap, there was no longer any news media [that I noticed or heard about], but [the cold snap] lasted about as long [as the first].  In fact, leadership told me (later) that [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] has opened 12 nights this year now.  [YAY!!! for every little crumb that falls from the table!!!]

Last Wed (the 11th), my wife [Mrs. Agent X] happened to be down at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] early in the day after the decision had been made to close that night despite the fact that the projected low was 16 degrees F.  [Mrs. Agent X] discussed it with one of the leading volunteers and one of the guys living in the transitional housing, and they decided to offer to volunteer and keep the church open.

That day [Mrs. Agent X] made plans to go stay the night and chaperone with [Eye-man].  [Eye-man] was going to get leadership’s blessing and access, and then no one would be stuck out in the cold.

However, that night (when I got off work and found out about all of this) [Eye-man] had just called to say that they were going to be closed despite fresh volunteers available to help.  [Mrs. Agent X] was upset – as was I.

I called the “executive minister”, [Pastor Bates], and he said it would be closed because the staff and volunteers were overworked and needed a break.  When I protested saying that I know he had fresh volunteers, he at first said he did not know about any.  When I informed him that [Mrs. Agent X] and [Eye-man] had volunteered [I presume I was now referencing the call he had just previously received from Eye-man], then he said that it was a “leadership decision that [I] may not like, but it [was] necessary anyway.”

[***Side Note here*** The tensions for conflict were simmering between Pastor Bates and myself already, I think, and I expect they are obvious in the accounts I have reproduced here on this blog in recent posts.  However, up until this point, it was merely disagreement and the conflict had not yet opened up in overt words or actions between us.  But as a matter of personal experience, I find that when a person is being held to account for their actions, words, decisions etc, that if that person cannot or will not give a straight answer the first time, it is GENERALLY a sign of bad faith, of deception and so forth.  That is the rat I am smelling at this point.  This “leader” is not interested in being reasonable with me; he is making a power play.  He also seems to hold me beneath his contempt, because even though it appears I have caught him in the midst of deception, he shows no concern for the accountability with me.  Thus what was mere disagreement up to this point now very tangibly appears to be dishonesty, power play, contempt and disregard openly displayed.  ***End Side Note***]

Wow!  We had a 16 degree forecast, fresh volunteers ready to go, [and the Word of God directing us to do this], but leadership had “made a decision….”  I asked who was over his [Pastor Bates] head to talk to, and he told me [Mr. Big], the board of directors president would contact me soon.

I drove down to [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] that night [across town from my home] at 10pm and found at least a dozen people hunkered down under blankets on the patio beneath the “no loitering” signs and the brand new surveillance camera system.  (Apparently, special permission had been given to stay there after all).

[Knowing I could not possibly take every person with me back to my house,] I announced that I was seeking “medically fragile” people to take home with me.  I specifically wanted to take [H] and [Menace] because I know [had been told] that [H] is battling cancer.

At first no one took my offer – not even [Agent J] who has stayed with us many times.  [H] said that she and [Menace] were “toasting” in the emergency zero-degree blankets they had obtained at the [Other, and here nameless, major homeless ministry in Lubbock].

I almost went home without anyone.

[Menace got up and walked around the building, and I approached him again saying, “Your lady is in bad health.  Don’t you think you should get her in doors?”  He agreed then.

[Mrs. Agent X] and I began keeping [H] and [Menace] after that.  [Agent J] joined us the next night, then [Agent D] the night after that.  We have kept them 4 nights, all below 30 degrees F.

This has not been easy.  However, it has not been hard for the reasons you would probably think.  The first night we had kids at home.  As a security precaution, we put [Agent S] in bed with her mother, and I moved to the couch to sleep in the same room with our guests.

On the second night, the kids were gone, and I went back to bed.  But on the third night, the kids were back as well as the fourth.  Thus, I went back to the couch, [Agent S] in bed with her mother.

Also, I had to work on Wed, Sat, and Sun.  On those days, I got the guests up early and dropped them at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] on my way to work.

And finally, I was not paid until Fri, and funds were tight [esp. for entertaining guests unexpectedly].

But you know, the hardest part is the discouragement from “church” leadership and lack of support from either there or from other “Christian” friends.

So for all that involves:

[Mr. Big] tried to call me a couple of times, but I finally called him back once I was off work on Thursday morning.  He reiterated to me that leadership is exhausted on the one hand, and we need to “teach these people” to get themselves out of their jam[, you know, like you read in the Bible in … oh… II Opinions verse 2???].  He even said they need to learn to “work by the sweat of the brow.”

[***Side Note here*** [Mr. Big] was an elder in the big church that sponsors [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] as well as being president of the board of directors.  He is a church leader in several settings, some of them very significant.  Never mind that Mrs. Agent X had arranged for fresh volunteers, his concern is first and foremost with the “exhausted leadership” and secondly with the unbiblical idea that we should “teach these people” to “work by the sweat of the brow”.  NOW.  Let me point out that “sweat of the brow” is a biblical phrase, alright, BUT IT IS A CURSE!  A curse and judgment placed on Adam and Eve when they sin.  It has NOTHING to do with any charity Jesus ever speaks of regarding care for the poor at all.  And as far as the exhaustion is concerned, I would expect that leaders in churches as big as the one [Mr. Big] held office in have no excuse for not being able to round up fresh volunteers especially among Jesus-loving people!  Thus, when faced with THIS kind of response from a leader, it was clear to me I was being muscled rather than listened to.  If this man had wanted to actually examine Bible with me on the subject, I would have listened to a reasonable answer, but he did not.  Rather, he chose to sound biblical without listening to my biblical critique of his leadership decisions.  ***End Side Note***]

It was obvious that this conversation would not get us anywhere new.

[Agent MyDad] said he would keep somebody [at his place], but he did not want to keep a woman.  [Agent MyDad] is a single man, and wanted to avoid even the appearance of inappropriate behavior]. None of my [male homeless friends] wanted to go with him.  But then he had another idea that he would text msg pastor/friends and see if any of them would take one or two on with us.

Two responded to decline; two did not respond at all.

Last night [Agent S, our junior high aged kid] indicated that she is tired of all the guests and the special [security/sleeping] arrangements [we were making in our home every night].  I figured that would mean we are now “exhausted volunteers” [too].  But, that does not make it anymore right for Lubbock’s Christian community to turn a blind eye to [H] (or the two women who told me they are pregnant) when it is freezing at night.

I keep hoping that some new answer will open up.  But it is now getting late.  I am about to leave work, and I have no plan to help.

Dear God, we ask for Your providence – Your power to come and open doors tonight.

Tonight’s forecast is 29 degrees F.  That is so much better than 16 from last Wed.  But still, this is a wealthy town with a LOT of “Christians” who could open up a lot of guest bedrooms.

I am sure that on the great day of Judgment, when the King separates the sheep and the goats, those that heeded Matt. 25:40 will go with the sheep.  Sadly, I will be among those “exhausted volunteers” that did not.

I told [H] and [Menace] and [Agent J] and [Agent D] that if they were not with me tonight, then I would join them tomorrow night.  I am planning to freeze!

Well that’s all for now except to say that last night I had a text [message] from [Mr. Big] on my phone waiting when I got off work.  It said that Patty had called him looking for a place to stay.  He asked if she could stay with me. I responded saying, “My house is all booked up.  Why not stay at yours?”

 

Winter Hits Lubbock Homeless 2013 (from the archives)

Archived 2013

In case you are new here or haven’t read this blog in a while, and especially if you are reading here and think this blog might be referencing YOU, then I encourage you to jump down and read several recent posts… especially those with the purple text colored disclaimers. There is a good chance I have been talking about you for a while now, and I wouldn’t want you to miss it.

In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.

Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).

However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.

Here is the entry:

Friday, November 22, 2013, Lub/TX

 

Winter arrived with a blast last night.  The weatherman warned us of it 3 or 4 days ago.  I am pleased to report that [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] DID OPEN THE DOORS [Yay!!!] to street people last night and has PLANS TO BE OPEN at least through Saturday night (hopefully one or two nights longer as well.)

I sent a message to [Pastor Bates] on Wed. morning saying:

I expect to be available as chaperone for cold weather on Fri nite after 9:30 and on Sat all day or nite.  Please use me.

[Pastor Bates] responded within minutes w/ a message that said:

OK.  I’ll let you know

Then last night I got another msg he sent ystrday morning that said:

If your still open for Saturday night we could use you at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church].  [Linda] will be there as a co-volunteer.

 

I saw [Pastor Bates] ON TV [best foot forward when the cameras are rolling???] news last night.  He confirmed that the doors were OPEN.

I had talked to [Agent MyDad] who saw an earlier news report that featured [Pastor Bates].  [Agent MyDad] told me that [Pastor Bates] had explained how [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] does NOT open usually and only takes OVERFLOW people that cannot be helped by other services.

[***Side Not here***  Granted I am hearing this second-hand rather than from leadership themselves, but this was at least SOME insight into [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s policy about when doors will be open.  Doors are open for OVERFLOW crowds, not as a matter of serving the poor because it’s cold, but as a matter of being a back up resource when other groups helping around town are already full to capacity!  Hmmm…  Just one thing:  [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] at that time still used the word “church” as part of their name AND held worship services LIKE you might expect from a church.  AS  A CHURCH, this policy is set by Jesus in Matt 25:31-46 (at least, if not Hebrews 13:2 among others).  Jesus’s policy is not to be the backup plan for OVERFLOW crowds,  but to be WELCOMING of the needy – in fact, he takes the lead in that.  I point this out on this post to clarify how this continues to be an issue with me.  I thought I belonged to this “church” at the time, and thus thought we were intentionally serving Jesus according to His Word rather than whims of policy makers on such matters.  ***End Side Note***]

In the report I saw, [Pastor Bates] explained that the people we are taking in usually sleep in the wide open “around dumpsters” and so forth.  I certainly concur with that.

Later, [Mrs. Agent X] looked up the FB page for [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] and read a rhyme/poem based off of The Night Before Christmas which seemed to be celebrating the good time – the good deed – that [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] was engaged in at that moment.

[***Side Note here***  I must say, all these years later, I remember feeling a little left out upon reading that poem and seeing the celebration I was not part of.  But I also remember finding it odd that this service is not offered, according to [Pastor Bates], as a usual service at all, but as a backup plan… to help the “overflow” crowds.  Thus it made me wonder why they wouldn’t either make it a main feature of the ministry or not celebrate it so much if it is so second-order.  Just didn’t make sense.  And I was sad that by the time I was involved, the party was over.***End Side Note***]

I plan to be there tomorrow night – alright.  I hope we are still celebrating!  [We didn’t.]  I wish we were celebrating EVERY NIGHT as a church in worship and tending to needs.

Projected high temp today:  26 degrees F.

Looking and Feeling LOST (from the archives)

Archived 2013

In case you are new here or haven’t read this blog in a while, and especially if you are reading here and think this blog might be referencing YOU, then I encourage you to jump down and read several recent posts… especially those with the purple text colored disclaimers.  There is a good chance I have been talking about you for a while now, and I wouldn’t want you to miss it.

In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.

Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).

However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.

Here is the entry:

Monday, November 11, Veterans Day, 2013

 

I dropped [Agent P] and [Agent S] (my teenaged kids), off at school this morning and then ran up to [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] for a bit.  It is a damp, actually foggy, cool morning.  I rolled up from the corner at Ave S and 13th to see the state of the empty lot that recently played host to the impromptu Tent City II.

I was surprised to find a number of people on it with their blanket tents propped up on Walmart shopping buggies.  There were quite a few people there like that!  The place appeared even more trashy than when real tents were set up there [hardly more than a week ago].

I snapped a couple pictures with my phone and then rolled up to the parking spot in front of [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s building.  I suddenly saw a body of a man lying face down on the wet grass.  I snapped a picture of that too.

As I got out of the car, I was met by [Other Agent J] who was eager to talk to me and who wanted me to help the man get up.  He said it was [Bull-man].  I approached and quickly discerned that [Bull-man] was too drunk or high to walk.  I questioned if we should call an ambulance.  I was told he was [Menace] and [H]’s kid.

I walked around looking for [H] and [Menace] and by the time I got back to [Bull-man], [H] was there and on the phone with 911 Emergency.  It was 7:30am, and the church house was surrounded by nearly 20 people, but [Tiny] did not come, and the door was still locked.  It was only minutes before EMS arrived.  I snapped a couple more pictures with them helping, and then they were gone.

I saw two police vehicles drive up and stop briefly, and then they drove away without a word.  But all of this unfolded under the watchful eye of the sophisticated surveillance system [Pastor Bates] recently installed around the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s building.  It all seemed so sterile.  I mean help came, but it seemed like no one cared.

Someone said that [Bull-man] had been smoking “legal weed”.  I gave a quick sermonette on the evils of that crap. …

[H] wept briefly.  She was the one showing the most concern.  I offered to pray with her.  She accepted.

I got down on both knees to pray.  She took my hand, but stood up.  I prayed, and she wept.  When I closed the prayer, she walked away.

A couple of guys suddenly began picking a fight right in front of me.  One of them was [I-man].  It never came to blows, but they took it right to that edge.  I told them that we were “praying here!”, and they need to “have some reverence.”  They went their separate ways then, but [I-man] stuck around as I prayed again.

People were just restlessly milling around the property then [almost like a zombie apocalypse].  I did a head count and counted 15 people at that time.  [A-boy], [Agent D]’s friend, spoke up to me and said that I “look lost.”

Imagine that!  The one guy praying there looked lost!!!  I was surrounded by mostly homosexual men ([A-boy] and [Agent D] are openly gay and the fight that almost broke out had something to do with calling someone a “fag”), also I was surrounded by people who slept outside in the cold, and I was the only one there with a car!  But somehow it was note-worthy that I “look lost.”

Hmmm…  He pointed out that I was standing there looking all around at everyone at the moment when the notion struck him to say that I “look lost.”  I was a bit troubled by that.

So, I got back down on my knees again.  I prayed again.  I sang hymns to God.  Then I opened my Bible and read all of Philippians aloud.  If I was going to “look lost,” then I was going to do it praising Jesus!

As I read Philippians aloud, [L-man] arrived [in Tiny’s place, I think] and opened the door to the church house around 8:15am.  Everyone drifted in, leaving me there on my knees reading Scripture.

As I had started, I could hear some radio music spouting ” N-word… N-word!!!” and other repulsive garbage.  The talk there was certainly not wholesome either.  I had noticed [R-man] there.  He had remained mostly silent.  He had not greeted me, nor did he join me in worship [which surprised me].  He followed the crowd inside when the door opened.

When I was finished reading, I prayed again and then rose from my knees.  That was difficult to do by that time.  I noticed that [Menace] remained outside by that time, but he was down by the street pacing, just off the property line.

I went inside to use the bathroom, and while there, I greeted [R-man], but he barely acknowledged me.  So I left.  And once outside, as I was about to load up and leave, I spoke with [Menace] again briefly.

Missed Opportunity

I learned then that [Menace] is “banned” from [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] for 2 weeks.  He did not offer the reason for it.  But I stood there in the cool fog thinking abut being banned.  Then [Menace] began telling me, “It’ll be alright….”

I left.

I think I feel lost.

Another Night In The Park: Breaking Laws To Be With Jesus (from the archives)

Archived 2013

In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.

Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).

However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.

[As a side note: Sleeping/camping in the park in Lubbock is illegal.]

Here is the entry:

 

Saturday, November 9, 2013, Lub/Tx

 

I spent last night in Memorial Park after I got off work.  I met Steve-O, [Agent J], and Patty there.  Ricardo was already asleep – along with a couple of other guys.

I arrived late, but [Agent J] was particularly touched by me coming to stay.  He told me he talked to his mom in Michigan again.  He said he had told her all about [Mrs. Agent X] and me – how we “took [him] in and all…”  Before I went to sleep in the cold wind, [Agent J] said he loved me and thanked me for coming out to be with them.

I don’t know how cold it got, but later Ishmael* told me he thought it was either 37 or 38 degrees for a low this morning.

But I got up at 4:30am and walked to Walmart to use their bathroom.  I introduced myself to the nice security lady – Mary.  She introduced me to a traveling homeless guy from Amarillo: Woody.  She hoped I could help him when she realized I was with [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)].  She said she is friends with [Cola girl] – a lady she said goes to [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church], but I do not know her.  Anyway, I will want to remember Mary.  She was kind to me.

I went back to the park at about 5am and slept ’til 6am.

To make a long story short, I met Ishmael and [Agent J] at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] around 7:30am.  Ishmael [a resident of the ‘transitional housing’ program, and occasional handyman for the “church” (a homeless man in a role vis-à-vis the staff much like a trustee in a prison)] had made coffee and breakfast [at his apartment] and was looking to share it with us.  He seemed impressed that I stayed out last night and said that he thinks he will do it too a couple of times a month.

Ishmael [one of Premier’s better ‘success stories’] shared his plans to get his GED and then go to college – AT 58 years old!  Yay!  I offered to be a resource for him, but it sounds like he’s got a lot already.

He also seemed to think that the policy for opening up [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]  at night for sleeping triggers when the temps fall to 25 degrees F.  I was stunned by that.  But he is in a good position to know.

 

 

 

*Ishmael my friend, R.I.P.

Stand up for the poor

“I am a Christian, and I try to practice my faith” So says this blogger, and that simple motivation dictates that we “stand up for the poor”. -Amen!

Heaven's above

I am a Christian and I try to practice my faith. I am not sure that I always succeed in meeting my own expectations let alone God’s expectations. Sometimes I fall and find it very difficult to stand up again without God’s help.

As a Christian I feel we have a duty to speak out about the situation we find the country in. I feel we have a duty to speak out about the epidemic of homelessness, I feel we have a duty to speak out about all those who live in vulnerable situations. I feel we have a duty to show compassion to those who lives are blighted by destructive addictions, in fact we have a duty to show compassion to the lost and the found. We have a duty to speak out when those who have temporal governance over us get it wrong.

Some people expect our silent…

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