Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Transform Us" - Part One - An Overview

On February 16, 2008, I will have the privilege of making a presentation at the Archdiocese of San Antonio "Super Youth Spectacular". This year the theme is "Transform Us" and the topic I will speak to is, "Transform Us Into Leaders".

What I plan to do here at the blog is to begin a four or five part series of the main points I'll be covering at the event. For anyone interested in using this material as a lead-up to the event, please feel welcome to do so. I will be offering follow-up workshops after the event in an effort to help parishes keep the fire burning in thier young people and in the adults who lead them.

I am using several verses from Scripture for this presentation, but the main one is from John's Gospel:

(5) Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- John 14:5-6

There are numerous examples in the Bible and in Church history that show us what Christian leadership looks like. But the crux of it all is found in those two verses.

To be a Christian leader, especially a Catholic Christian leader, we need to know the way, believe the truth and live the life. Simply put, we need to know Jesus, believe Jesus, and live Jesus.

There is a HUGE difference between "knowing" Jesus and "knowing about" Jesus. Knowing about Jesus simply entails studying the historical person... memorizing facts, Scripture verses, etc. But knowing Jesus means entering into a personal relationship with Him, just as we do with anyone meaningful in our lives. Do you know about your mom or your dad? Yes. Do you know your mom or your dad? If you are in a personal relathionship with them... then yes.

The same could be said as far as the truth. We are called to believe the truth... not just some of it... not just the truth that makes our lives easier, less complicated, and holds us less accountable... we need to believe ALL of the truth that is Jesus. It is the most difficult of truth elements that make us strong, make us leaders. The more we embrace His truth, the more responsibility we take on. The more responsibility we take on, the more accountable we are held. And the more accountable we are held, the stronger we become as leaders, as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Once we can establish these first two elements of relationship, only then can we live Jesus. WWJD? Remember that fad? "What Would Jesus Do?" Great question (and great marketing!). The only way I can know what Jesus would do in any given situation is to first KNOW Him, believe Him, and then I can act like He would.

There are many aspects of the example Jesus gave us for being leaders.

Jesus the Forgiver - In Peter, He shows us a less-than-perfect leader who actually denied knowing Jesus. And then Jesus forgives Peter and appoints/annoints him as the first leader of the Church.

Jesus the Foot Washer - Servant leadership... what an example... not only did Jesus wash the feet of His disciples at the last supper, but remember that Judas was still in the room and Jesus washed his feet as well... the feet that Jesus knew were about to walk Judas to the kiss of betrayal.

Jesus the Healer - So many examples of Jesus healing. But how can I/we heal today? Through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus is still able to extend healing through us to others. But there is another type of healing that is not as dramatic and eye-catching... the healing of the soul, of memories, of past hurts, of loneliness. By simply "being there" for someone going through a tough time, by crying with that person, by praying for and with that person, Jesus can extend His healing touch.

Jesus the Good Shepherd, Jesus the Crucified, Jesus the Risen, Jesus the Miracle Worker, Jesus the Teacher, Jesus the Prophet, Jesus the Vine, Jesus the Exorcist, Jesus the Obedient, Jesus the Word of God, Jesus the Lamb of God... Jesus the Son of God.

He gives us so many examples of what it means to be a leader. He shows that being a leader means to be consistent, willing to take a chance, face possible persecution, willing to go against the popular opinions, hold firm in conviction, be willing to serve others, to forgive others, to empower others, honest - even when that honesty might hurt someone's feelings, to love unconditionally.

That's a lot to live up to. Impossible. No way. Ain't gonna happen.

All of these things are possible through Jesus Christ. But as stated above, we first must know Jesus - personally, as Lord and Savior, as friend, as teacher and mentor. We must believe Jesus - especially those teachings that may be difficult to understand, yet things Jesus was adamant about... like the teaching that was confusing and difficult for his very own disciples... from John 6:38 and following... that all who want to have eternal life must eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus... tough to understand and accept without faith, yet Truth nonetheless. And then we can begin to live Jesus. And that, my friends, makes all the difference in the world.

In PART TWO I will explore further, "I am the way..."

Thank you for reading and please feel free to offer your own thoughts and opinions.

Peace in Jesus.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Joel Osteen Hubbub

In the long, long ago... in the beforetimes... way back when I was a student at LSU, I happened upon a televangelist whom I did not recognize. After watching and listening for about 15 seconds, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me that this preacher was not as holy as he was portraying himself to be... that he was more about himself than he was about Jesus.

A few days later I saw this preacher on television again. Turns out he was broadcasting from right there in Baton Rouge. Wow. We had a bonafide telesuperstar right in our own backyard. Name was Jimmy Swaggart.

About two years later ol' Jimmy was arrested in the whole prostitute mess and he gave his infamous, very, very tearful, lip-quivering, "I have sinned..." sermon. Donations to his ministry took a substantial hit but with his "sincere" and "humble" request for forgiveness, his financial setback was only temporary. Until a couple of years later when he was arrested once again... for pretty much the same reasons. His ministry took a financial nosedive and it is a shell of its former megaministry. But there are still those who accepted both of his apologies... who still send him thier hard earned checks. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fast-forward 20 years. A couple of years ago I was doing what all good "All American Men" do... I was channel surfing on cable. I came across this young, energetic, good-looking, charming, charismatic, smiling, engaging, energizing guy. I listened for a few minutes and thought, "Oh, he must be a pop psychologist... basic Psychology 101 stuff... a lot of fluff 'n stuff... feel good, warm fuzzy guy. Hmmmm...", I thought further, "Now what was that song from the '70's? Something about "Smiling faces..." Well, here are the lyrics to that song... take a good look... (notice the name of the group that wrote and recorded the song...)


Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

The truth is in the eyes Cause the eyes don't lie, amen
Remember a smile is just A frown turned upside down
My friend let me tell you
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes They don't tell the truth,
Smiling faces, smiling faces Tell lies and I got proof

Beware, beware of the handshake That hides the snake
I'm telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back It just might hold you back

Jealousy (jealousy) Misery (misery) Envy
I tell you, you can't see behind smiling faces
Smiling faces sometimes they don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces Tell lies and I got proof

Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces Tell lies and I got proof

I'm telling you beware, beware of the handshake That hides the snake Listen to me now, beware
Beware of that pat on the back It just might hold you back
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces Tell lies and I got proof

Your enemy won't do you no harm
Cause you'll know where he's coming from
Don't let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I'm only try' to school ya

So anyway, I'm watching this guy and startlingly he throws out the name of Jesus. Well that caught my attention so I decided to listen to his message a bit more intently. Then it dawned on me... another "prosperity gospel" preacher. The measure of God's favor that rests on you is shown in the material wealth you have to show for it. Ahhhhh... yes... if we are in God's favor, then we will have material possessions and wealth beyond our itsy bitsy imaginations. And if we don't have God's favor... well... everyone will know because we WON'T have all these material blessings. Poor Mother Teresa... she must not have had God's favor... and I guess St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Padre Pio, and, well you get the picture.

Folks, I DON'T subscribe to the fallacy of the "prosperity" Gospel. Do I think God wants to bless His children? Of course! Do I think we are supposed to measure our spiritual lives, our walk of faith, our relationship with Jesus Christ based on our material possessions? NO. NO. NO. A very simple reading and understanding of the New Testament shows that material possessions were not the focal point of Jesus' ministry. If you need specific references, let me know. Or, better yet, read the New Testament. All of it. Not just the tidbits that Osteen and his ilk throw out there to tickle the ears of honest people.

If you want a critical analysis of looking carefully, very carefully, at exactly what Osteen is saying, here is an excellent blog link to read: http://broadband.espn.go.com/ivp/splash2?id=3083220

The thing I am most concerned about is that Osteen adamently refuses to take a stand on any issue. That's so liberal. That's so politically correct. That's so un-Jesus like. Jesus was not afraid to take a stand on any and all issues. Everyone knew where Jesus stood on every issue. But if you read the interview that is cited in the blog above, you'll see Osteen even say about abortion that he "doesn't think that's best..." He is absolutely afraid to call abortion what it is: the choice by at least two people (patient and doctor at the very least) to take the life of an unborn human being.

In this excerpt of the infamous Larry King interview, count how many times Osteen's response is, "I don't know." http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/osteen/king.htm

If you missed Joel's interview with Larry King, you missed a spectacle. The smiling preacher did such a pathetic job of witnessing for Jesus Christ that the outrage from his own church-goers led him to issue a written apology on his own website! Here is a link to a transcript of the Larry King interview: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html

Am I saying, "Don't read his book(s)!" or "Joel Osteen is not a Christian!" or something like that? Not really. I'm just saying in today's day and age, all of us need to be very careful in who we listen to, who we read, who we believe. The Bible warns us that the time will come when satan will speak the words that tickle our ears... that he will come as an angel of light... so I'm saying critique what Osteen says. Think in a critical manner about the words he uses, and notice what words (and names... like the Name above all Names) that he chooses so often to not use. Be informed.

Would I send my money to his ministry? Not a chance. Would I go to see him in person, even if he was right here in San Antonio? Um, nope. I prefer to ignore the "prosperity gospel" preachers, new age simplicity, politically correct "wisdom", etc.

I invite your thoughts. Pro, con, or somewhere inbetween.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Random thoughts... VERY random thoughts... read at your own risk...

Dan believes… that there was a conspiracy in the assassination of JFK… that life probably exists elsewhere in the known Universe… that from an orthodox Christian perspective, there are spiritual problems with Harry Potter, “The Secret”, Centering Prayer, and the “ministry” of Joel Osteen… that liberalism and relativism are the playground of satan… that people need to take responsibility for their actions and stop claiming ‘victimhood’ as the new religion of excuses… that U2 is the greatest rock band ever… that John Paul the Great was a living Saint amongst us… as was Mother Theresa… that ‘extra sharp cheddar cheese’ is the bomb… that there is constant spiritual battle taking place all around us that we do not see with our human eyes… that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are meant to be used today (perhaps more than ever)… that although he is not Catholic, Billy Graham should be considered for some sort of “honorary” Saint status whenever he passes from this life to the next… that there’s no place like home… that the 2007-2008 sports season will see the New Orleans playing in the Super Bowl, the LSU Tigers playing in the BCS National Championship game, and the San Antonio Spurs repeating as NBA Champs… that there probably exists cures for diseases such as cancer and diabetes but that the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical companies are keeping that under wraps because they are making wayyyyyyy more money off of the current medicine regimes of patients… that ‘royal gala’ apples and ‘creole’ tomatoes are the best… that while we need to take better care of the environment, Algore (sic) is hyping up global warming for purely political purposes… that Jesse and Al are two of the biggest racists in America today (but I do enjoy listening to Al)… that political correctness is garbage and another playground of satan… that ‘pride’ nailed Jesus to the cross and that many people are nailing themselves to their own crosses with their self-pride… that Oprah is not a Christian… that Steve Camp is the most under-appreciated recording artist in contemporary Christian music today, perhaps because he had the courage to challenge the Christian music industry and IT didn’t like that… that death is nothing to be feared… but that skydiving is and spiders are… that fixing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a child is much more fun and fulfilling than being whisked away to the finest restaurant with a millionaire… that Hollywood is made up of approximately 99.999% hypocrites… that there are too many children who go to sleep at night not fully convinced that they are loved by their parents… that abortion is murder, period… that the world is headed for a holy war between Christians and Muslim extremists by the year 2012, in Europe… the music of Lifehouse is awesome and the lyrics are very Christian… that my being diabetic will not stop me from following God’s plan for my life… that I would rival St. Paul for the title of worst sinner… that we need to get rid of all the ‘hyphen-American’ baloney and just call ourselves Americans… that coin collecting is cool… that professional wrestling is real (not)… that Henry D. is THE MAN… that I have been blessed way more than I deserve… that the ‘leadership’ (word used lightly, very lightly) in my hometown city of New Orleans is the biggest obstacle to the rebuilding of one of America’s great cities… that people who believe “reality” shows are reality really need to get a life… that poker is not a “sport”… that the sports fans in San Antonio have proven four times now that we are among the classiest in all of professional sports… that as painful as it might seem at the time, it is better to have loved and lost rather than to have never loved at all… that if you have read all of this you are either really bored, really curious about what I believe, or you deserve a discounted price on my next CD (send me an e-mail and I’ll do that for ya)…

Monday, August 6, 2007


Welcome to my blog. For what it's worth, I'll post a few things here and there and hopefully share something worth your time.