Sunday, October 30, 2005

What Up with Bono?

I recently read an interview with U2’s Bono (does any body know Bono’s last name?) in this granola cruncher magazine subscribed to by the beautiful and charming Susan. The interview is actually an excerpt from a series of interviews in a book called Bono: a Self-Portrait in Conversation by Michka Asayas. I’ve followed from the fringes Bono’s African activism the past few years as an “I’ll wait-and-see” skeptic I must admit. I really dig his music, but I’ve never taken seriously the activism of actors or rock stars. But the more I watch Bono, the more I like what I see.

The following is a portion of the interview I read. I felt like the interviewer was baiting Bono with politically and religiously loaded questions. Watch how Bono turns the tables:

[Interviewer’s intro] Our next talk took place a week after the Madrid train bombings that left 191 people dead and more than 1,800 wounded on March 11, 2004. I wanted to know how Bono reacted to the news—not as a spokesperson or an ambassador for DATA, but as a human being. I mean, how do idealism and goodwill stand in front of that?

[Interviewer]Terrorists are focused on big ideas. You’re quite aware that there are no greater idealists than terrorists. Most of them revere the notion of God and holy justice. I guess for a person like you, who is deeply religious and idealistic, it must be very disturbing.
[Bono]I’m a lot of other things as well. But you see, people who are open spiritually are open to being manipulated more easily, are very vulnerable. The religious instinct is a very pure one in my opinion. But unless it’s met with a lot of rigor, it’s very hard to control.

[Interviewer]Correct. But you’ve never seen a skeptic or an atheist smash himself to pieces in order to kill as many people as possible. I mean, atheists would organize concentration camps or would plan collective starvation, but this kind of terror we are dealing with now is of a spiritual nature. You can’t hide from that.
[Bono]It’s true. Yeah, smashing other people to pieces doesn’t need the same conviction. Most terrorists want to change the material world. Well, add eternity to that, and people can go a lot further to pursue their ends…. But of course, this is always a corruption of some holy thesis, whether it’s the Koran or the Bible. My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated, I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now, that’s not so easy.

[Interviewer]We have been talking before about Jesuit priests arriving with the conquistadors in South and Central America with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.
[Bono]I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building.” [laughs] “A list of instructions where there was once was conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. But the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma...

[Interviewer]I haven’t heard you talk about that.
[Bono]I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

[Interviewer]That doesn’t make it clearer for me.
[Bono]You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that ‘As you reap, so will you sow’ stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

[Interviewer]I’d be interested to hear that.
[Bono] “That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep sh*t. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.”

Monday, October 24, 2005

Über Christ Followers – Part 3 – Dan Plourde

Über Christ Followers – Part 3 – Dan Plourde

When I felt like a failure, Dan Plourde believed in me.

After struggling for a couple of years, trying to start a church in southwest Washington, Dan asked me to come help him with a church plant in Jupiter, FL.

“My resume isn’t all that great,” I told him.

“I don’t care. I can’t think of anybody I’d rather have on my team,” Dan said. “Besides, it’s not like there’s a job with a salary waiting here for you. I can’t make any promises. I have no idea where you’re going to live. Are you in?”

The greatest opportunities in ministry often come when taking the greatest risks. That was eight years ago. Since then, we’ve watched the Lord add to the body at Calvary Chapel Jupiter. It’s here that I’ve had the best ministry opportunities. It was under Dan’s leadership that I’ve had a passion for international missions ignite. It was under his guidance that I watched students in our church have their first opportunities to experience the mission field. I’ve seen my own leadership skills grow and be refined. My teaching skills have developed and put to use. I’ve been a part of pioneering a church plant and developing leaders in ministry. All this has happened on Dan’s watch.

Dan’s teaching has given my kids a love and hunger for God’s Word. They have enjoyed the Bible study and learned from listening to his tapes and live teaching since they were elementary aged. Bible study has been an everyday ingredient in their spiritual growth.

I owe Dan a debt of gratitude for his dedication to teaching God’s Word. His belief that God can use anybody to do the incredible is an example of faith lived out well in his life and ministry.

Nehemiah 6:3
“…I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”

Another Update

We still have electricity, but rain is blowing in under the front door and garage door. Both face southeast so the weather is pummeling that side of the house.

Aaron is sitting out on the back porch talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend, Julia.

"The lights just went out," he tells her. "They're back on. Now they're off. We keep getting these power surges," He says. "They're on, again."

I was around the corner flicking the light switch on and off.

Wilma Update

The beautiful and charming Susan and I woke up around 5:00am to take the dogs out before the weather really started to get bad. We've been glued to the television and watched the eye of the storm come onshore just south of Naples, FL, a little over ab hour after we got out of bed. It looks Wilma's mid-section will bounce through southern Palm Beach County right around Boca Raton.

Outside, as I type this, the trees in our neighborhood are bent over by sustained wind gusts of around sixty miles per hour. We still have electricity, but I don't know for how long. Our house is situated so that we can step out onto our screened in porch and take a look at the storm and suffer little from wind and rain. It's quite a sight. I'm glad this isn't happenning in the middle of the night.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Here It Comes, Baby!

We've been spending the day getting ready for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Wilma. It's on a projected path to run right through our town (Stuart, FL). We were pounded by two hurricanes (Francis and Jeanne) in three weeks last year.

My mother-in-law says that the whole region is being punished for secret sin I'm hiding in a deep, dark place.

Iron Chef of Oregon

My younger brother, Daniel, is the reigning Iron Chef of Oregon. He lives in Portland and is written up regularly in various publications and blogs.

Way to go, Dan!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mike Get's It

Mike Brunges has a great post on his blog. Mike used to be a part of our youth group back in the day when I was youth pastor. He's all grown up and married now.

I'm proud of you, Mike.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Über Christ Followers – Part 2 – Chris Goeppner

“Got your back, bro’.” Chris Goeppner declares these words often. I rest assured. He does have my back. He never leaves me exposed.

My first meeting with Chris, he walked up not offering a hand to shake. He offered a huge smile with arms wide open, saying, “Gimme some love.” He’s a big guy. Lovable. How could I not give him some love? I’m not much of a hugger and I’m not especially huggable. But when I’m around Chris, I know I’m loved.

Chris has taught me to love people. All people. Everyone matters to Chris. Anyone that spends time with Chris knows that he/she is loved and that he/she matters.

Chris lives to exist in community with other believers. This attitude takes whatever he does in ministry to the next level. I went into the mission field for a short time a few years ago and turned student ministry at Calvary Chapel Jupiter over to him. In less than a year, the ministry had doubled. Not just because Chris is hip and appealing to young people (he is, though, because God made him that way), but because he loves. Those who partner with Chris in ministry as leaders know they matter and the students know they matter. Chris and his student ministry leaders spend time in all the middle and high schools in our region of the county and through Chris know that God loves them. They give Chris the green light to talk to them about Jesus.

In public school.

Chris is an Über Student Pastor.

Here’s what matters most to me: Chris is a mentor to my sixteen year old son and pastor to my eighteen year old daughter. He loves my kids. Love my lids and I’ll love you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Über Christ Followers – Part 1 – Jeff Thompson

My sister called me Saturday to wish me happy birthday. She’s really good at it – wishing me happy birthday that is. She’s had tons of practice. I’ve had forty of ‘em.

In our conversation, I explained to her that I was now blogging and my kids now avoid me to reduce their risk of exposing themselves to extreme nerdification. I also told her that they’re fickle, those kids of mine. Six months ago I was metro. “You know, metro-sexual,” I said to her. “Ever hear of that?”

“Of course, I have,” she says. She has teenagers, too. My sister gets called things by her kids that gently educate her that she, too, is out of sync with the hip universe ruled by teen-agers.

“Anyway,” she continues, “metro is out; uber is in.”

“Uber? Says I. “What’s uber? Whatever it is, I know I’m not it if it’s cool. I’m a nerd.”

“Uber sexual is a manly man.”

“I want to be a manly man. Did you see my blog about all my motorcycles? I was a MARINE! Remember?” I whine.

“You’re proving you’re not ‘uber’,” my sister reminds me with cruelty in her voice. She was a Marine, too.


When one has forty birthdays under one’s belt, one reflects. Today I reflected. What set off this reflection session were some encouraging words from a new staff member. I thought about his words today on my ride home and thought how much I wish my life was where his is with the Lord when I was his age. I thought about all the Godly men that have influenced my life. I want to tell you about them. There are many “Über Christ Followers” that I have to thank for who I am as a Christian. These are the guys I want to be like when I grow up. I’ll write about these guys over the next few weeks. Today, I’ll start with Jeff Thompson.

Jeff Thompson is twenty-three years old and the worship pastor at the church where I’m an assistant pastor. Jeff is an Über Christ Follower. In the short time he has been on our staff, he has impacted and challenged and set an example for me to follow with three distinct characteristics: passion for Christ worship, servant-leadership, and raw creativity.

Jeff’s passion for leading people into the presence of God drives the Sunday morning service at Calvary Chapel Jupiter and lays the groundwork Pastor Dan’s delivery of God’s word. The combination of Jeff’s upbeat, modern worship style coupled with Dan’s rock-solid Bible instruction has transformed how church is done at Calvary Chapel Jupiter.

For the past eight years, Calvary Chapel Jupiter has been a portable church. We have set up church and packed it all back into three cube trucks for fifty-two weeks a year times eight. (Man, I never looked at like that before.) That doesn’t even include the five years that we had a mid-week Bible study up and running.

Since Jeff came on board, he has made the load a good deal lighter. His servant-leadership style has inspired a number of new guys and gals to join our team and shoulder the load. Since day one, Jeff has set the bar high and I’ve been running to keep up.

Jeff is creative. I don’t really know how to explain it other than his creativity is raw and unpretentious. I’ve been around some creative people that have tremendous talent and ability, but have this “I-am-the-elite-gift-given-to-the-planet-by-God-and-don’t-you-dare-forget-it-and-if-you-do-I’ll-remind-you” attitude. That always makes me feel small. Jeff is creative but doesn’t make me feel small. He makes me feel like I’m all right to hang around.

Jeff makes me think of this verse written by Paul the Apostle:

“…and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn't be discouraged by these hard times. He's a brother and companion in the faith, God's man in spreading the Message, preaching Christ…” 1 Thessalonians 3:2

Monday, October 17, 2005

Millionaires Row

The beautiful and charming Susan and I recently caught the Island Queen cruise along Millionaires Row in Biscayne Bay. We watched this amazing sunset as a tropical breeze blew. The temperature and humidity here is starting to drop reminding us that soon a severe Florida winter will be upon us plunging tempratures into the seventies. I remember why we live here: we have greatest winter weather on the planet.

The cruise took us by the homes of multi-zillionaires. My buddy, Jason, said it was a lesson in covetousness. The homes on Biscayne Bay are palatial spreads owned by Gloria Estefan, Shaquille O’Neal, P. Diddy, and Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Airlines. We saw a house once owned by Al Capone. We spied a bobble-head likeness of Shaquille O’Neal on Shaq's boat dock. The tour guide had a handful of tongue-in-cheek comments to make about many of these mansion’s residents. These famous folks live very public lives and are easy targets for our jokes.

I was glad to be there with my wife and good friends. We joked, we watched fireworks together, and we and shared a mouth-watering feast. This is the life the rich and famous probably covet. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Persuade & Subdue

"Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition." (Proverbs 25:15, NLT)

I read this in my quiet time this morning. There are two obvious elements in this verse that need to be up and running in my life. Let me move that discussion to the bottom of the page.

A prince. I want to live like a prince. Remember Prince? I wanted to be Prince. Talent, good looks, melts the hearts of the ladies; Prince had mojo, man. He made his guitar scream like Hendrix, but was smooth and had soul. What a showman.

Crush opposition. That is what it’s all about, right? Like the Gladiator. Maximus crushes his opposition to a bloody pulp to the bitter end. He gathers a squad of unruly rogues, lock shields, and takes down anyone or anything the Evil Empire throws at him. He annihilates his foes. Right on.

Patience? Soft speech? I need those? Will they make me heroic? Will they make my life epic?

I want to be a showman like Prince. I want to be a battled hardened man like Maximus the Gladiator. I want everyone to know that I will crush my political and moral enemies in one fell swoop. I will identify myself as a brilliant showman and loud opponents of evil like a super hero. Or one of those wrestlemania wrestlers.

But is that real? Will I really impact eternity? Is it a wise way to live? With these two attributes, patience and soft speech, I’m told I can have influence beyond anything that brings attention to myself.

I can watch God work.

I can get out of the way and watch Him influence the influential. I will watch God liquefy opposition.

I hate to wait. I think I have to be loud and always right. But God has called me to be humble before Him. Humility has been demonstrated by the wise to persuade and subdue forces that keep people from a meeting with a Savior.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who You Callin’ a Nerd?

“Wow, Dad, you have a blog? Heh-heh. You’re a nerd.”

That’s what the super-cool 16 year old son-of-mine said to me looking over my shoulder yesterday.

“Didn’t you have some kind of junk up on ‘My Space dot com’?” I asked.
He said, “Yeah. But that was six months ago.”

Six months ago my kids were saying I was “metro.” I don’t know if “nerd” is a promotion or a demotion. I’m pretty sure it’s a step down from “metro.”

“Don’t you see I’m discussing MOTORCYCLES on my blog? How is that nerdy?” I ask.

“It’s compensation for extreme nerdiness.”

There’s no pleasing this kid.

I talked him into letting me scan a picture of his face into my computer. I had him put his face and hands on the glass that way when I load the jpeg onto my desktop, it looks like he’s trapped in my monitor. I photoshopped the scan of his face to look like that guy on the cover of Pink Floyd’s the Wall album. It’s hideous. Even evil-looking. That’s his penance.

And what’s the problem with blogging? How does that make you a nerd? I just like to write and mess around with the HTML code and get a little creative. It’s not like I’m a computer geek or something. Although, our IT guy and I do email back and forth quite a bit of tech talk. He sends me to these really cool computer geek websites…

Wait a minute – Geek web sites? HTML? Computer code? Blogging? Getting revenge with computer photo altering? OH my gosh! I AM A NERD!

What would Fonzie do?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Legal... Finally

After riding motorcycles for twenty-five plus years, I'm finally on the road legally. I'm endorsed by the state of Florida.

Riding all these years without proper lisencing is quite a short-coming, I guess. It's one of those things I've permitted myself ignoring my consience or the example I've set. My sin is in the open. In fact, my sin found me out about two months ago when I broke the speed limit zipping through Stuart.

When I started riding, I don't even think a special license was part of the deal. If it was, it was taken seriously by no one (kind of like the 55 MPH speed limit or Howard Dean). At least not where I grew up riding in Northern California. I was stopped over twenty times and ticketed more than fifteen for a boatload of violations before I turned eighteen, but not having a motorcycle license was ever an issue.

"I can't believe they think they can take away our right to ride," said one old-school thinker who took the motorcycle skills test with me today. Three of the four of us were there had recent run-ins with the law. One of us was a not-so-law-abiding-pastor. My sin is shouted from the rooftops.

I've had five bikes over the past twenty years. This one to the right is the one I rode to Florida was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1985. I took my wife on our first date on this bike. We rode to the beach in Ft. Lauderdale. I parked in a no parking zone it turns out. I arrived at my vacant parking space and watched my Suzuki swing from the tow trucks rigging. I was stranded on the beach with the beautiful and charming Susan for a couple of hours before I could arrange for a ride home. The rest is history.

The next bike I bought was a beater. I traded in an old Mustang without air conditioning and a fried clutch on that one. I don't think me or the dealer did any good on that trade. That bike didn't last long, but, for awhile, I was glad to be riding again after about six years of confinement to a four wheeled cage. I had this bike when I was going to Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale in 1993. I gave this bike to a mechanic friend of mine who is now a pastor in Orange County, NewYork. I didn't do him any favors when I left this thing parked at the apartment he shared with his new bride.

I got my next bike shortly after Calvary Chapel Jupiter was planted. This was a sweet little 600cc V-Twin Yamaha. I had this bike for awhile before we sold it to raise money for a missions project.

The price of fuel soaring into the strasphere was the motivation for acquiring my current crotch rocket. The first version of this bike came out when I was in high school. Honda produces a line of motorcycles with a V-four engine configuration that revolutionized the entire motorcycle universe. This 1998 Honda VFR800 came my way via a Marine helicopter pilot. The young Marine captain meticulously doted over by this bike. It's seven years old with less than 7, 000 miles on it.

After nineteen years of marriage, my wife still likes to ride with me, and she's a good sport even when we get caught in the rain. She's not such a sport when she finds traffic tickets wadded up in my pocket. She refused to mount that bike until I'm lisenced. She's bent on making 100% legal. Probably not a bad idea.

The beautiful and charming Susan was happy to see my new license today. She pointed out that the picture makes me look my age. Thanks, babe. She looks forward to legally enjoying a ride in the next day or so.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Where to Begin?

So this is what it's like to see my thoughts in print in public. It's what I've always wanted - that is, for you to know what I think. Indulge me, this is my first post. You probably won't even find it until it's been here for quite sometime. When you do dig this up (kind of like a time capsule), go ahead and email me just to let me know you’ve unearthed it from the this internet graveyard. I'm kind of wondering how long it will take for you to find this post.

I've been reading blogs for only about six months now. I heard about blogs from time to time in the news and in magazines. I've talked about blogs kind of slipping "blog" into sentences here and there to sound tech savvy. But this is the first time I've actually blogged. How am I doing?
I've commented recently on a couple of other peoples' blogs to sort of ease into blogging. Maybe you're interested in my opinion on others' opinions. Here's a link to a post that I commented on just three times today discussing Christians’ tendency to judge and divide over petty differences. And if you follow this link, you'll read the rather profound comments I made about the topic of secular music and its place in the church service. In both areas, I'm listed as BryonM. There’s probably a way to link right to my comments, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

I haven't figured out, really, how to operate any of the features offered by this blog thing. I'd love to tell you (because I’m sure you care) about the books I read or the music I enjoy. I can tell you I've been married to the beautiful and charming Susan for nineteen years. I don't know how to upload pictures so take my word for it when I say that she's more beautiful and charming than I deserve. And I have two great kids, Charity, my 18 year old daughter, and Aaron, my sixteen year old son. They both have their driver's licenses and their own beat up cars. Yikes!