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  1. Bob Brow says:

    I grew up in Central NY (Finger Lakes). Rural, small town America. In 1982, after my sophomore year in college, I signed up to sell books door to door. A few kids from my High School(along with about 6,000 other kids around the country) did it the summer before, made decent money, so I figured I could do it too.

    They didn’t tell me that one of the products was a bible book, though.

    Anyway, after a week of training, the company sent our group to southern CA, Costa Mesa. The first few weeks were super tough (75-80 hours a week of knocking), but so was I. Carried a Vince Lombardi biography around with me for inspiration. Read parts when I needed a little boost. Eventually, I got the hang of it and became the #1 first year person in our group after he 4th week.

    2 other things were happening also.

    Since we worked from 8am-9pm, Mon-Sat and attended meetings on Sunday, we had little time for other things. One thing was Church.

    Being from the Northeast, though, Sundays were for sleeping in. But, since we were already waking up at 6am every morning already, our student manager suggested we might as well go to church on the way to our Sunday meeting. Fortunately, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa had a 7:30am service. Besides, I didn’t have a car, so I had to catch a ride with them anyway.

    To my surprise…Church wasn’t BOOOOR-ing. People actually smiled. Seemed happy. Plus the pastor actually made the Bible palatable. I kind of liked it.

    The other thing that was happening…while knocking on doors, every-single-day, someone would ask me “Are your a Christian? If you died today, do you think you’d go to heaven?” Well, I knew I wasn’t jewish, went to church once in a while, believed in god and had never killed anyone..so yeah, of course, I was a Christian. Several weeks of this, though, started me questioning myself. I had a job to do, though. WWVD…What would Vince do? Plus…I was #1!

    The week of July 4th, 1982, changed my life.

    After I had hit #1, I could wait to get to our Sunday meeting to I could bask in the applause of my peers and give my wisdom out on how to succeed at this job. I was on top of the world! Had to go to church first, though. I’ll never forget what I said in my head as I shook pastor Chuck’s hand when we exited the church…”That was a good sermon Pastor..but not one of your best”. I mean, after all, I was 20 years old and the #1 first year person in my org!

    Monday…Had a pretty good day. 3 sales and a lot of good prospects lined up

    Tuesday…No sales

    Wednesday…No sales

    Thursday…No sales

    Remember, I’m knocking on door 13-14 hours a day AND I’m #1!

    Friday…No sales.

    Come on Bob…WWVD?

    Not what I did, I’m sure. On a street corner in Midway City, CA at 8pm..I started to cry. CRY! Bob Brow. I had no idea what was happening since I hadn’t cried for years! Suck it up…WWVD?

    Keep going, that’s what.

    Great…here is the perfect prospect. School teacher parents, 2 pre-teen kids. Stop crying and go give the shpeel. NEVER GIVE UP!

    I knocked. They answered, listened…and politely said no. Head hanging, I headed back to the street. Before I got there, though I turned around and knocked back on their door. I asked if I could come in. Just to sit down. Confused, they let me come in. After I sat on there couch, the 4 of them, watching the Dukes of Hazzard, then sat silent as I BAWLED my eyes out, wailing at times, for about 15 straight minutes! The only thing I remember saying through the wailing was something about being homesick or I’m trying my hardest or I don’t know what is wrong.
    After I stopped, the first thing they said was, “Are you a Christian? If you died today, would you go to heaven?”

    He taught school at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

    After about an hour of him talking, I had to leave as my ride would be waiting to take me home. I did feel MUCH better, though. Like taking a bath, I had a warm feeling.

    Saturday…Made a sale in the morning. I was back! But by 4pm, Ihad hit a wall.
    Ended up in another Christian’s house. A dirt poor one. Literally…hit floor was dirt. Must have been an old part of town with broken down houses. After talking for a while, we decided I should go to the Saturday Night Concert at Calvary Chapel Cost Mesa.

    I had no car though. Had no idea how to get back to the house where we were staying. Took the bus. Unfortunately, the buses stopped running in our area at 6pm or so, but they did get me to within a mile of our place. After taking a shower and getting on some “church cloths”…long pants if I remember correctly, I decided to stay home as I had that “safe, warm feeling” again. However, the folks we were staying with (75 year old couple who’s son had sold in the 50’s) reminded me why I had quit early and told me I needed to go to that concert.

    No bus, though. No car. Not quite sure even how to get to CCCM. Started to walk in the general direction, not realizing it was 10-15 miles away.

    So I hitchhiked. Had never done it before, but the company I was working for actually had a session back in training school on how to hitchhike properly. AND IT WORKED.

    Somewhere in Costa Mesa/Santa Ana, there was a North/South road, about 6 lanes wide, 3 each way, that I choose to get a ride. When the cars stopped for the light, a small Vega full of guys looked my way and rolled down their window. I asked for a ride. They said, “We are in a hurry and our car is full. Where you going?” After I told them, they said…”Great, we are going there also”

    2 hours later, after hearing a “Christian” singer (Bobby Ayala) for the first time & also hearing the Salvation message for the first time (Chuck’s sermons weren’t the Get Saved type the weeks we were attending) I went forward when asked to.

    Ater “confessing” my sins and asking Christ to come in, we went to a back room. I’ll never forget. All I could do was smile. However, at 11pm or so, when I walked out the back door of the church, I had no idea how to get home. It was pitch black outside.

    The guys who brought me waited around to take me home. How cool was that. Never, ever saw them again.

    The next day, it was as if scales had fallen from my eyes. When I went to read the Bible, I understood it. It actually was speaking to me. Couldn’t believe it. For the rest of the summer, instead of Vince, it was Jesus and the bible.

    What a summer…

  2. Jessica says:

    Given the circumstances of this weeks testimonies from PFM past students. I am wondering how much is enough? The Bible says, to love your neighbor as yourself. This was the greatest commandment. And I know Jesus loves me, you and everyone. So should we not be kind to ourselves and love ourselves as our neighbors? Should we not find time to enjoy this world God has blessed us with? Do the things and hobbies and talents we all as individuals each unique and known to God before we were even born have? If we don’t honor our own lives with respect of how, we are spoken to etc? Are we not loving our neighbor as ourselves? Is not that not the greatest commandment? I can only hope that the churches rise up the hard workers, zealous Christians that want to make difference in the world to remember to love themselves and to find time to know yourselves and to pray about what type of ministry work fits you. Everyday we walk into the mission fields whether is Africa or Arkansas but that doesn’t mean everyone fights the same war or battles the same way or ministers the same way. Live a Christ filled life, honor Him by respecting yourself and loving yourself and knowing you are perfect in His eyes. 1Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you bc you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Go out and do His work in whatever way deems best for you, a teacher, a insurance broker, a vet, a parent, a student, a friend, a cashier, a artist, pastor, Sunday school teacher or a missionary over seas. But please love yourself bc God made each and every one of us perfect and no one can tell you different.

  3. Jean says:

    Considering the recent reporting on PFM, I invite everyone to reflect on the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

    “The ministry of Authority

    “ ‘[W]hoever would be great among you must be your servant’ [citation omit.]. Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent upon brotherly service. Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed it poisons the Christian community. The desire we so often hear expressed today for ‘episcopal figures,’ ‘priestly men,’ authoritative personalities’ springs frequently enough from a spiritually sick need for the admiration of men, for the establishment of visible human authority, because the genuine authority of service appears to be so unimpressive.

    “There is nothing that so sharply contradicts such a desire as the New Testament itself in its description of a bishop (1 Tim. 3:1ff). One finds there nothing whatsoever with respect to worldly charm and brilliant attributes of a spiritual personality. The bishop is the simple faithful man, sound in faith and life, who rightly discharges his duties to the Church. His authority lies in the exercise of his ministry. In the man himself there is nothing to admire.

    “Ultimately, this hankering for false authority has at its root a desire to re-establish some sort of immediacy, a dependence upon human beings in the Church. Genuine authority knows that all immediacy is especially baneful in matters of authority. Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the saying of Jesus: ‘[Y]ou have one teacher, and you are all brothers.’ [citation omit.].”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, pp. 108-09.

  4. Bob Brow says:

    In 1989, another earth shattering thing happened. My relationship with the Lord quit being a “legal” one and became a unilateral one. It wasn’t up to me. I couldn’t believe it. I knew He loved me…but didn’t think He liked me. After all…I wasn’t perfect. I screwed up all the time. When I was “good”, I could sit in His lap…accepted by the Almighty! When I fell short, it was…grovel, grovel, grovel and stay out of His throne room until I was good again. Back & forth, in & out I would go. Yeah…this Christian Life sure was “abundant” (sarcasm)

    THEN, after reading Romans 5:6-11…probably for the 10th time, it hit me…He didn’t like me because I was good or acted good. That’s what man does. He likes ME even when I am sinning. Even WHILE I sin. He likes me. Wow! My “relationship” with Him, His affection for me didn’t hinge on ANYTHING…no matter what. I was stunned. Why hadn’t I ever heard this before in Church?

    Then, when our bible study teacher, who is a gay man, asked us if we thought we were “worth” as much to God as Billy Graham, we kind of hemmed and hawed, and eventually said yes. BUT, when he asked if we thought we were “worth” as much to God as Jesus Christ, I said No Way! By the end of the night, though, the Holy Spirit finally got through to me about my worth.

    He said something like, “Bob, your ‘worth’ has absolutely nothing to do with what you bring to the table. Has nothing to do with how good of a school teacher you are. Your real ‘worth’ has nothing to do with whether or not you lose your temper or win souls. You are ‘worth’ ONLY what someone is willing to pay for you. To buy you. Bob, did you know you are ‘worth’ just as much to God as his own Son is?. Not because you are lovely or good…just because”

    I was humbled. How could I not believe, trust, love Someone like that.

    My like changed not by “loving myself” or surrendering or committing or giving or sacrificing…but by finally understanding what I was worth to Him. Talk about freedom…I was now free to be myself, because I knew without a shadow of doubt that He not only loved me, but liked & accepted me, warts and all…period. Thank you Jesus…

  5. Jtk says:

    When you have or find a Bible that is old, for practical purposes unusable old, what should be done with it?

    I have one of my favorite possessions, a waterproof Bible. Printed on plastic pages.

    An old one is falling apart, the pages are cracked and flaming apart.

    I’ve never heard anyone talk about this.

    Care to comment?

  6. Jtk says:

    Thanks for the beautiful testimony, Bob.

  7. Michael says:

    Jtk,

    I just set them aside when they’re in bad shape…I feel weird about throwing them away.but that’s superstition more than anything else…

  8. JoelG says:

    Great quote above, Jean…

    The courage of those coming forward is inspiring. What they went through would have driven me to Atheism. I hope each beloved person receives the help they need to begin to heal.

    Thank you for this site, Michael Newnham.

    Couple of other thoughts…

    Beware of “charming” pastors

    Beware of discipleship “programs”

    Beware of pastors who preach “growth” while completely ignoring the Gospel.

    Rest in Him (Matt 11:28)

    Peace

  9. Not everyone who says... says:

    Michael,

    I know you are strong on open borders and compassion on non-documented aliens and believe that Jesus/Christianity goes against a wall or extreme vetting for immigrants.

    But have you considered that Heaven has a gate, a wall, and an extreme vetting process? Isn’t the gate narrow and few are able to enter?

    Not even Jesus is letting “everyone” in.

    Jesus is no liberal obviously. He’s conservative and chooses who enters His kingdom very carefully and does not apologize for doing it…

    Just some food for thought!

  10. Michael says:

    Not everyone who says,

    I am not for open borders.
    I am not against vetting.
    I oppose a wall because a wall is a waste of money that won’t work.

    Your theology is as poor as your understanding of my position on these issues.

  11. Jean says:

    “But have you considered that Heaven has a gate, a wall, and an extreme vetting process?”

    Is this a joke? Is this the spray-on tan Jesus?

  12. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Those are standard evangelical talking points that never include the real point about Jesus and the age to come.
    We get in by grace…

  13. bob1 says:

    Jesus is no liberal obviously. He’s conservative…

    Wow. A truly biblical, in-depth and nuanced look at the issue.

    SARCASM MODE OFF!

  14. To gain some perspective on how manipulators function, I recommend viewing the TV show DIRTY JOHN. It’s a completely true story. I think it has 8 episodes or so. From the get go you’ll be saying, “No!” to how Debra Newell keeps falling for John’s maneuvers. I think it’s on Netflix or Amazon Prime now. Originally aired on Bravo. Let’s learn how to spot our sociopaths!

  15. Pineapple Head says:

    The LA Times also did a DIRTY JOHN podcast series. Shorter than the TV show.

  16. Midwife says:

    To Not Everyone Who Says

    Your words turned my stomach. That is the very kind of thinking, interpreting and believing that turns away those who would come to Jesus. I want nothing to do with YOUR Jesus.

  17. The USA ain’t Jesus… you sound like a troll.

    I’m sickened by the whole PFM debacle. I may soon abandon my CC which as of this past week was still supporting PFM despite knowing about the revelations. I’m not sure where to go. I could handle it by myself, but not sure given my little kids. Back to the RCC where they were baptized? No. Girding my loins to church shop *sigh*

    There’s a tiny EO parish two blocks from me, in an improbable location given our ‘Hood. Maybe I should check it out.

  18. BrianD says:

    New Victor, I feel for you.

    I have been very private about my religious life, only giving bits and pieces here and there on the blog. I can definitely relate to your disappointment with the church you’re in, and hope you find one that you feel most comfortable in.

  19. JoelG says:

    It seems like this PFM debacle is the culmination of a trend in Evangelicalism that began with books like “Crazy Love” and “Radical” where Christianity becomes a proving ground of how much you really, reeeeeeally love God. This view turns Christianity into a bottom-up, works based religion of one upmanship and creates a lot of despair.

    This is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

  20. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    It’s from the pit of hell and smells like smoke…

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