Donny's Ramblings


On Being a Bit Annoyed, On Being Drawn to Catholicism, and On Being Donny

I would like to share a few reasons, some of which you might find a bit off-the-wall, on why I’m drawn to the Catholic Church. Many have asked.

First of all, I’ve been invited to fewer Protestant churches since I became “Catholic-friendly.” My encounters with the Catholic Church began in 2008. It hasn’t been easy.  I’ve had many questions.  In my life, I’ve also felt many of the same opinions of most of the Protestants I know in regards to Catholicism.  When I told her of my draw towards the Catholic Church, a family member told me that she didn’t want to hear my garbage anymore because I’ve obviously been turned over to a reprobate mind.  I expected such responses.

On Being a Bit Annoyed

Here’s what I mean by being annoyed: I’ve lost a handful of speaking opportunities to Protestant audiences since I began embracing Catholicism.  I’m not sure why anyone would feel threatened by such things as the church I choose to attend.  I’ve never been invited to your congregations to lecture on theology, but rather to share a unique perspective on pornography and how God brought me out of that business.  I’ve been chosen to share a story of His grace, forgiveness and love.  It’s a very impactful message of hope, and one that challenges the audience.  Numerous people have left porn behind after hearing it.  But some pastors have directly told me that I can’t be brought in to speak because of my thoughts on Catholicism – at least they have the guts to say so directly to me.  Others do not, but I know anyway.  If you’re a Protestant pastor, your church needs to hear what God’s given me to share.  Shame on you if you let your prejudices towards the location in which I choose to attend services  keep such an important message from your people.  Seriously.  I’m skinning my index finger, which is pointed at your face.

On Being Drawn to Catholicism

There are many reasons why I’m drawn to Catholicism.  I was first invited to work with a Catholic group in 2008.  A documentary was being made that included the topic of pornography, and they wanted me to share my views.  The producer’s son is a priest. I began asking questions.  Shortly thereafter, other Catholic groups began asking me to speak for them.  Many priests – particularly Father Carlos Martins – and laypeople told me I should convert to Catholicism. I told them that would never happen, because there is far too much with which I disagree.  That didn’t scare any of them away from having me speak to their people.

In my free time, I started visiting Cathedrals.  They’re beautiful, and open to the public rather than just Catholics.  I’d take my time, admiring the amazing artwork within.  Much of it is incredibly detailed, and a lot of work.  All of it was made out of love for God.  That being the case, it’s impossible to be inside a Cathedral without feeling His presence.  When invited to speak for a Protestant church in New York City, I used my frequent flier miles to bring along my best friend, John Hunt .  We went to Manhattan a few days before I was to speak so that we could visit the city.  While there, we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. John, who is an agnostic/atheist, insisted that he definitely felt something inside during our visit.  I know what he means; there has never been a time when I’ve been inside a Cathedral without feeling God’s presence very heavily impressed upon my spirit.

Because of that, I began seeking out local Catholic churches in which to pray.  Unlike many Protestant churches, the doors are almost always open for those who want to seek His face within the walls of the church.  I’d sit inside, look at the artwork, pray and study my Bible.  I’ve got over 3,400 books in my Logos Library, in which I’ve invested several thousand dollars, that I use to study nearly every day.  I love God.  I consume the Bible and related books like a Donny Pauling eats a hotdog (yes, I just involved myself in my own made-up metaphor).  Theology fascinates me.  It’s Bill Giovannetti‘s fault that I love the Bible so much.  I used to think the Bible was boring and stupid, even after asking God to take control of my life in 2006.  But I noticed that Bill loved the Bible.  He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and I couldn’t understand why he’d like such a stupid book.  I asked.  He didn’t answer.  He just asked questions in reply, which must be the Professor in him, and those questions made me discover my own love for scripture (no, Bill’s not really all that happy that I want to be Catholic, but I am his friend and that won’t change).

Rather than feeling the normal Protestant prejudices towards statues and artwork, I began studying the history of why Catholics utilize them in worship.  I began imaging what it would be like to be an educated priest, trying to teach illiterate people about God.  Maybe I’d start painting things.  Maybe I’d create statues.  Maybe I’d enlist all sorts of other visual aids.  God gave us five senses; maybe I’d try to engage as many as possible of those five senses into the way I led people in worship of Him.  Such things have a long history, and as I’d sit in beautiful Catholic Churches, I could imagine myself connecting to all those who had lost their lives defending the faith throughout the past 2000 years.  I could imagine myself as a man who had dedicated my entire life to bringing people to Jesus.  I could imagine myself being a layperson who couldn’t read, reliant upon a church to teach me.

Now, I’m not saying everyone should feel this way, because I don’t believe you should.  But I started getting really annoyed that our Protestant churches ignore so much of church history.  It’s quite common for Protestants to accuse Catholics of not spending enough time reading their Bibles.  I’d like to propose to you that Protestants don’t spend even a fraction of the amount of time they should in the study of church history.  Really, outside of the textbooks we probably didn’t read in High school, the vast majority of Protestants are incredibly ignorant of what’s happened the last two thousand years, and even more ignorant of church history.  But it’s so fascinating to do so!  I highly recommend it.  But beware! Removing ignorance just might result in a few changes of opinion!

A side note on that whole “Catholics don’t read their Bibles” thing:  every single Mass – which happens DAILY, I might add – has readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalms, and the Gospels.  Every. single. one.  Without those readings, there is no Mass.  A person who attends daily Mass, as I do (I’ll get to my reasons in a bit) goes through the entire Bible every three years.   Some Protestant churches can say the same.  Most cannot.

A few years ago I met Matt Fradd.  I worked together with him on porn-related ministry events.  Later, he went to work for Catholic Answers.  We recorded CDs together.  We debated theology.  He had the likes of Tim Staples and Jimmy Akin – Catholic apologists – call me personally.  Those men asked me questions.  I sought answers.  Many of my thoughts on theology deepened and changed.  Much of my ignorance of Catholic belief changed.  I began to realize that most people, particularly Protestants, don’t hate the Catholic Church for what it actually believes, but rather what they THINK it believes.

I also started to ponder a few things:

  • Why would God entrust the Catholic Church to canonize the Bible, yet deny it the power to interpret it?
  • For more than 1,000 years, until the Great Schism, all Christians were Catholic.  Luther split from the church in the 1500s.  Since then, more than 40 thousand Protestant denominations have arisen, each with their own unique twist on this part of scripture or that part of scripture, each with their own unique interpretations, and each thinking their twists and interpretations make them a little more right than everyone else.  Is God really the author of so much confusion?  I don’t think so.  If Sola Sciptura is as valid as I’ve been taught, why attend any church at all?  Why not just sit home alone, reading my Bible, just me and the Holy Spirit interpreting it together?  Maybe I can figure out a reason why the Donnyism Denomination needs to add to the 40k denominations already in existence
  • I was surprised at the response I received when I’ve mentioned to a few priests that friends have told me things such as, “Many Catholics don’t realize they can have a personal relationship with Jesus.  The Catholic Church is the biggest mission field in the world right now.”   Father James Mallon from Nova Scotia replied, “Both I, and the Pope, would agree with that assessment.  Someone needs to help teach them, right?”
  • I could criticize what I thought to be wrong about the Catholic Church, or I could get in and be one of those who worked to lead people to a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Should I sit back and take pot shots, or roll up my sleeves and get to work?  I am thinking I’d rather do the latter.

This is already a longer article than I intended, so I won’t get into theological issues.  I’ll instead tell you a few personal reasons I love the Catholic Church, a love because of which I’m currently in RCIA, and they’re really not all that deep.

On Being Donny

On my own, I’m a mess.  There is nothing of value in Donny minus God.  I’m not really very nice.  I get grumpy.  I get angry.  I’m impatient.  I want to insult people.  I label others idiots if they don’t agree with me.  I am selfish.  Donny plus God equals a tolerable person.  I want to be tolerable.  I want to help people.  I want to do what I’ve been put here to do.

When I spend time with Him, it is far easier to see others through His eyes.  I feel like I love people.  I feel like I want to listen to them.  I feel like I want to ask God what He’d like me to share with them.  I feel less grumpy.  I love more, period.  And because of Him, I have something to give to the world.

I have a habit of studying at home.  I do so a lot.  But due to my introverted nature and the one track mindedness that comes along with it, when I’m interrupted, I often will become a bit grumpy.  “Leave me the heck alone, Bethany… I’m trying to study.  Figure that geometry problem out on your own!”

Daily Mass changes this.  My morning routine includes dropping Catie off at the charter school she attends, then heading to the local Catholic church for Mass.  Mass, my friends, is a prayer to God.  It’s beautiful.  It’s ceremonial.  It has meaning.  It is saturated in scripture.

For some, Mass might be TOO formal.  For me, it reminds me of why I’m here.  It focuses me on God.  It’s a great way to start my day.  I make better choices for the rest of the day if I start it with this time together with my Creator.  Personal study is great, and I often do so afterwards for 30-45 minutes before I leave the building.  But in my life, I’ve found Mass+personal study to be exponentially more effective than just personal study alone.  And it’s pretty amazing to realize that the exact same order of service, readings, and ceremonies are being observed by millions of others around the globe. It feels pretty awesome to be part of something so  big.  So HUGE.

I’ve met some incredible people who are very, very close to God within the doors of the parishes I’ve attended.  Are there things with which I still struggle, relating to theology?  Of course.  I chew the meat.  I spit out the bones.  I’ve found a place of trust, however, and on many things I choose to simply submit, trusting that my questions and struggles will be answered by the very loving God I serve.   I’ve reached a place where I am not in a hurry for answers, because I love and trust Him so much and, from experience, I know He’ll answer in His own time.

And I’m totally good with that.


Wrestling: Protestant vs. Catholic – Start Here

On August 28th, I posted the following message on my Facebook page:

Growing up, it was implied (not by my father, but by others in our denomination) that being Catholic meant a person was going to hell because they couldn’t possibly be saved. Because of this, a Protestant Church would NEVER invite a Catholic speaker to share. Imagine my surprise when in 2008 a Catholic group called OFWC Media (with – thanks Anastasia Northrop) asked me to be part of the documentary they were making regarding the threat of pornography! I couldn’t believe they’d invite a Protestant to participate in a documentary intended for a Catholic audience. Spending a lot of time with them, I asked many questions. I found this to be a fascinating experience.

Since that date, I’ve been invited by several Catholic groups and spoken to several Catholic parishes, Catholic sponsored University events, been on Catholic radio, made a CD at the request of Catholicism’s biggest group of apologists… the list goes on.

I always ask questions. That’s just my nature. When in Toronto to speak at York University, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, sipping scotch and speaking with a Priest named Fr-Carlos Martins, pelting him with questions, raising objections and generally being my argumentative self, albeit in a respectful manner. I continued that trend when asked to other Catholic venues, with both laypeople and the clergy. I’m sure I drove some of them mad.

A few years ago I began noticing something: although the Protestants and Catholics I’ve been around most all speak English, we’re not speaking the same language most of the time. We’re not using words in the same way. As a Protestant, I might read something written by Catholics that raises alarm, and end up criticizing certain beliefs to my Catholic friends, but what I’ve come to realize is that we – Protestants and Catholics – often understand the exact same words in FAR different ways. It turns out, in the end, that we’re in agreement on at least 95% of theological issues, a realization I could not understand until I’d sat and read more books than I care to count right now, and spoke to Catholics who were once Protestants. As funny as it sounds, a translator was needed to put things into words I use and in ways I understand.

I now reject the idea that I was taught growing up: being Catholic doesn’t damn a person to hell. In fact, I’ve never attended services that are so consistently focused on Jesus and what He did on the cross. That happens to be what EVERY-SINGLE-MASS is about. I find so much about the church to be SO-INCREDIBLY-BEAUTIFUL.

I feel a burning desire to work within the Catholic Church. It’s something that I keep trying to push away, mostly because if I were to “convert” there would be so many Protestant doors that close to me, and certain family and friends will be incredibly disappointed. In fact, one of my aunts who knows about the work I’ve been doing with Catholic groups has already stated that I’m heading to hell. Knowing this response won’t be unique, I’ve looked for every reason to reject the pull I’ve felt. But I must admit that unless something really major happens to change my mind, I’ll likely “convert” during Easter Vigil 2014. The new Pope and many of the priests I’ve spoken with all agree that the Church is in desperate need of revival (Protestant term, I do believe). For revival to happen, workers are needed. I really want to be one of those.

This is the first post in what may become a series of posts in which I address topics with which I’ve wrestled.  I invite public feedback, either here or on Facebook.  Each of these posts will be linked to on my Facebook page, either as a link within the blog post itself or as a link in the first comment, as that seems to be where most people decide to get involved in discussion these days.

To start off with, here are some of the things I was taught as a Protestant:

  • Catholics are going to hell (this has been said from numerous pulpits, and often left at that assertion with no particular reasons to back it up)
  • Catholics worship Mary
  • Catholics Worship Idols
  • Catholics see Mary as a co-redeemer with Jesus, Queen of Heaven, and Mother of God
  • Catholics pray to Mary and the Saints
  • Catholics think they can buy their way out of hell
  • Catholics think they can pay to get relatives out of hell
  • Catholics don’t think Jesus’ payment on the cross was sufficient, and instead think we must do good works to be saved
  • Catholics think Baptism isn’t just an important symbol of our relationship with Jesus, like a wedding ring is to a bride and groom, but rather a requirement to be saved
  • Catholics believe the Pope is Infallible
  • Catholics believe priests can forgive sins when only God can do so
  • Catholics believe tradition is as important as the Bible
  • the list goes on and on… feel free to add to it on Facebook or in the comments area and I’ll come back and add some to this list

So… these are the things I plan to blog about.  I’ve honestly been scared to voice this struggle in public, because many of my Protestant friends simply refuse to associate with Catholics, and I was afraid that if I made it clear how drawn I am to the Catholic Church many would choose not to associate with me.  Unfortunately, that has indeed proven true in some cases.

Seems to me that if a person has an issue or area of concern they shouldn’t abandon but rather get in there and try to do something about it, but maybe that’s just me.

Let me list a couple of rational reasons that I’ve pondered while wrestling with my draw to the Catholic Church:

  • The Catholics Church gave us our Bible as we know it today (except for the few books Luther removed).  They canonized it in the 4th century.  If Catholics are wrong, how can a Protestant believe they gave us an infallible Bible?  Seriously, this is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around.  If Catholics are satan incarnate, heading to hell, how can we possibly trust the Bible they put together for us?
  • Almost all Christians were Catholic, right up until Luther broke away in the 1500s.  Do you really think Christians were sent to hell for 1500 years after Jesus physically left the earth?
  • If Catholics don’t put an emphasis on Jesus, why in the world does every single Mass focus on what He did on the cross?  By “every single Mass” I mean just that:  every single Mass (service, to my Protestant friends) ends with a focus on Jesus dying for our sins, which provided a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled with God.
  • The priests with whom I’ve conversed, and many of the laypeople I’ve met, are just as close or closer to God as any Protestant I’ve ever met.
  • Catholics don’t pray to Saints… they ask Saints to pray for them, just as Protestants ask each other to pray.
  • Catholics don’t worship statues, they instead use them as a reminder of important things, similar to how a person keeps photos in their house as a reminder of important loved ones.
  • Every time I ask a Catholic priest, informed layperson or apologist a scripture
  • If it wasn’t for the Catholic Church, scriptures wouldn’t have been preserved (yeah, this kind of repeats point one) and abortion wouldn’t be fight against as hard as it is now.  I list these together because these two things are very important to me.

That list, too, goes on.  But I’ll close for now, because the whole purpose of this series is to discuss these topics.  Where do you think I should start?


Comments can be left on this article, or posted on Facebook here or here.


For Me, It Takes a Toothbrush

Along the Sacramento River Trail

A view from the Sacramento River Trail: my favorite place to converse with my Creator.

Last night I wept, snot running down my face and dripping off my chin, for a period of about 4 hours. It wasn’t fun and I really didn’t like it. At least not then – not while it was happening. This morning I see it in a different light, because it’s times like that, when my soul cries out to God and to others, when I feel a toothbrush at work inside.

Some of those close to me sometimes question whether I’m fully letting Jesus inside to clean things out.  I know that I am. It’s just that I don’t think He wants to magically make everything perfect. I think He purposely works on issues slowly so that I understand them better. He isn’t just taking a fire hose and spraying the place out… He’s taking a toothbrush and slowly deep cleaning. I sometimes feel like others need to see fire hose evidence in order to believe a work is in progress, but I am more than overjoyed with the toothbrush. Perhaps you, dear Constant Reader, aren’t the type that needs to understand things about yourself like I do, but I want to know… I want to understand… I want to get it. I feel that is going to be a big part of any future ministry God may have for me: identifying with others who have gone through the same things I’ve gone through and maybe being able to be used to help others “get it”.  For that to happen I need to reach that place myself.  Slowly.

My cockiness is melting away.  I am realizing I really don’t know much.  I’m not nearly as smart as I thought.  I’m enrolled in Seminary and want to be used by God, but I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever have anything to say to anybody.  Perhaps that’s all for the best? Perhaps that’s the only way to be if God’s words are to be spoken and not my own?  I feel inadequate.

In the two weeks of 2006 between September 11th, when I knew I would no longer be in “the business”, and September 25th when I finally asked Jesus to take over, I wanted instant answers and solutions to all the anger and bitterness and questions I had about Him, Christianity, and people. I tried to strike a deal with God that if he brought those answers I’d give him my life. He didn’t respond at all. He was silent. On September 25th I finally understood that it wasn’t that He wasn’t willing to answer my questions, He just wasn’t going to do so all at once. He has been very faithful with slow answers. Some of them even in dreams. Most of them through something I read and then ponder, or something someone says to me that I ponder while prayerful, or through ideas that form when speaking with Him along the Sacramento River Trail, my favorite place to converse with Him.

This slow rate is purposeful, and I am loving the journey.  I am content in the knowledge that change will continue.  I am not asking for speedy results, because I am realizing the value of “one step at a time” results that really have a chance to sink in.  Does this make any sense?  It is lovely what’s happening.   But I do wish those closest to me would reach the place where they, too, realized that all these things they think I need to let God heal – the bitterness… the anger… the constant questioning – I AM letting Him in to heal.  Again, it is purposely slow.  And maybe some of you might even be who He uses to point out what’s next, but I need those who are close to please be patient, because this is a one-thing-at-a-time situation.  Lots of time went into the damage, and lots of time is going to be required to toothbrush it away.


Being Judgmental – Random Thoughts

Before Christ, I often railed on judgmental Christians. After Christ, I’ve continued to do so from time to time. But Wendy’s mother emailed me awhile back and pointed out:

Being judgmental of the Judgmental is still… judgmental.

I contemplated what she said for a long time, and still contemplate it today, and her words have helped me get rid of a lot of bitterness. It’s not all gone, but it’s going.


One of my favorite Gandhi quotes:

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I would like to see that perception of Christians changed, wouldn’t you? The answer to making that perception change can also be found in another Gandhi quote:

Be the change you want to see in the world.”

It starts with me.  I am the only person I can really change, a task made easier with God’s assistance.

“God, please help me.”


Donald Miller’s Benediction at the Democratic National Convention

Donald Miller was asked to give the closing Benediction Monday night at the Democratic National Convention.  Here’s the prayer (around 1:44 into the video there is a 10 second silence for some reason):

Before the benediction was given, Don shared his thoughts with Christianity Today magazine.  I really enjoyed what he had to say:



Donald Miller's Benediction at the Democratic National Convention

Donald Miller was asked to give the closing Benediction Monday night at the Democratic National Convention.  Here’s the prayer (around 1:44 into the video there is a 10 second silence for some reason):

Before the benediction was given, Don shared his thoughts with Christianity Today magazine.  I really enjoyed what he had to say:



Thank God for Evolution

Put this on your reading list, fellow Christians:

“Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World” by Michael Dowd

This book is on my reading list, as I feel it should be for every Christian who discounts evolution or for those who, like me, believe in Theistic Evolution and would like more information to use in our discussions.

Evolution and Creation are NOT mutually exclusive, my evolution-rejecting friends.

At the beginning of this book there is a list of the “Author’s Promises”. I decided to share four of them with you:

To those of you who have rejected evolution… I promise that the secular version of evolution you have rejected is not the version of evolution presented in these pages. Indeed, if the understanding of our collective past and the vision of our common destiny outlined here do not inspire you to be more faithful in all your relationships, to find new ways to bless others and the world, and to awaken eagerly each morning to a life filled with meaning and purpose, then please continue to reject evolution!

To those who accept evolution begrudgingly (like death and taxes)… I promise that this book will provide you with an experience of science, and evolution specifically, that will fire your imagination, touch your heart, and lead you to a place of deep gratitude, awe and reverence. You will also find here effective ways to talk about evolution to any friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who are biblical literalists or young earth creationists.

To devoutly committed Christians… Whether you are Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Anabaptist, or New Thought, and whether you consider yourself conservative, moderate, or liberal, my promise to you is that the sacred evolutionary perspective offered here will enrich your faith and inspire you in ways that believers in the past could only dream of.

To agnostics, humanists, atheists ad freethinkers.. I promise that you will find nothing here that you cannot wholeheartedly embrace as being grounded in a rationally sound, mainstream scientific understanding of the Universe. I also promise that the vision of “evolutionary spirituality” presented here will benefit you and your loved ones without your needing to believe in anything otherworldly.

Other “promises” are listed, but these are the ones I wanted to include for this blog post.

You can purchase the book on amazon by clicking the image above, or you can visit the official website here.


What You Look For, You Will Find

At least 5 days a week I walk the Sacramento River Trail. If you’ve been reading very long you know this. These walks are my time with God. I learn a lot on The Trail.

Where the trail crosses behind the Elk’s Lodge there’s a beautiful place to sit and look out at the river. I’m sitting there now, writing this blog post from my iPhone using the WordPress Application I recently mentioned in another post.

I also mentioned a Bible Application provided by for iPhone users. Since it was released I’ve incorporated it into my morning walking routine. I sit right here on this bench, stare out at the river, read a few passages, think about them a bit while watching the boats pass by and repeat that process until I’ve read through at least one chapter, often more. The computer nerd in me really loves being able to read multiple versions of the Bible on my iPhone.

This morning I’ve read through 3 chapters of John and found an answer to one of my never ending questions. I’ve read this chapter many times before, but I guess the time is just right today because it finally sank in.

In my blog post to “Carrie the Atheist” awhile back, you might recall that I voiced several of my concerns and questions with the Bible. One of those questions has to do with the ability of the writers of scripture to recall what Jesus said to them. Few of us can remember word for word the conversations we had just hours ago, yet the writers of the Bible are trusted to recall conversations with Jesus from decades before they were written down?

Here’s what I found this morning:

In John chapter 14 verse 26 Jesus is quoted as telling his disciples that when he is gone, the Comforter that he will send will, amongst other things, “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Donny in me would bring up objections on how using this verse to prove its accuracy is pure circular reasoning. But the Comforter and I converse quite a bit on this trail, and on this day I believe this answer was meant for me to find. I choose to accept it.

What you look for you will find.

Next on my list? Those men who met in the fourth century to decide which books to include in our Bibles and which to toss aside… I’d like to believe they made the right decision. Dear God, please shed some light on this for me.




God's Back… (plus JR Mahon and NEOChurch)

Just moments ago I wrote an email and sent it to a few friends. I wasn’t going to share it here, but have changed my mind. The subject line was God’s Back. In the body I wrote:

Believe me, I realize God didn’t go anywhere… that I’m the one who neglected my relationship with Him. The subject/title of this email simply reflects how I feel.

Months before I moved to Corning I felt God wanted me to stay in Redding. I moved anyway, because I was convinced that if I did so my relationship with Wendy would be restored and I’d have a family again. It turns out nothing could be further from the truth. At this point in our lives, Wendy and I can only stand being around each other for a few minutes. Thinking, or hoping, something is going to happen does not always make it happen.

In Corning, my spirit began to die. It didn’t fade completely, of course, but it sure dimmed quite a bit.

It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve moved back to the city I never should have left, and the difference within me boggles my mind. I feel God again. I feel like we’re communicating again. I walk with Him each morning along the Sacramento River trail, and the conversations we have sometimes make me cry. Inside I’m at peace again. Things I’ve worried about aren’t such a big concern.

In Corning, I knew He was there, but just couldn’t seem to reach Him as often or as deeply as I’d like.

Now I’m home, and He’s thrown a welcome back party inside my spirit.

I just wanted to share that with you.

– Donny –

JR Mahon, formerly a Pastor with and now the Executive Director for NEOChurch, was one of the friends to whom I sent the email. When he replied I clicked on the link in his signature to visit the NEOChurch Website. I then read the latest blog entry he’d written. I hope you are as touched by it as I was. It’s titled Great First Sunday and reads:

I was reminded Sunday why we do what we do… After a GREAT first NEOsunday service for which we are all very proud of and grateful, we had lunch. In Christian circles thats what you do after church, eat like there’s no tomorrow.

There was a guy sitting at the end of my table at lunch. I had watched this man show up early, help set up NEO and sweat if ya know what I mean while helping. I watched him lift things, move things and generally be helpful to anyone who needed a hand. He looked liked us, acted like us and worked like us. He was a blessing.

There he was again at lunch, at the end of a full table of people minding his own business until I started up. “Hey man where do you live?” I yell across the table. He smiled slowly and quietly made his way over to my chair. Bending down to talk with me he says, “I’m homeless, kinda in between things right now.” Imagine that, a homeless dude helps us move into our new church and I’m yelling across the table were do you live! Idiot!

We talked for about 15 minutes… his life, my life, our ups and downs, the next steps, the faith it requires to conquer sin in our lives. This guy had no air about him, no entitlements, no preconceived notions about us or his situation, he was a part of us and yet knew things most of us would never know or want to know. Like how to get a bed in a mission or simply survive day to day while rebuilding his life and faith and yet he showed up to NEO. He served so the Gospel could hit peoples ears and eyes. I’ve done a lot of church over time but this one moment had me speechless. He brought his faith to NEO. Not his cash. great car, stellar career, influence or great theological knowledge just his appetite to help and serve. He was real and in big need of a God who can and will take care of him every second of his life. I shuttered and looked at myself. Do I have the same appetite?

My new friend showed me faith… faith, that says showing up affords opportunity to serve. Nothing more, nothing less. It was pure in it’s lesson, and smacked of the bitter truth in my life. God is like that John Mellancamp song, “Hurt so Good” or in my life “Sucks so Right”

So… we started NEO on Sundays… all the build up, all the work, all the conversations about lighting, plasmas, children’s ministry, 23 year olds in Jesus costumes, steel things, coffee, greeting, rent for the school and sound systems couldn’t hold a candle to me and a homeless guy sitting at the same table enjoying each-other because God gave us saving grace. Thank God!

See ya all Sunday and thanks for making NEO home.

What an inspiring story.


Here are a few photos, taken with my iPhone, from the Sacramento River Trail, along which I walk at least 6 miles each morning:

On My Morning Walk

Sacramento River Trail, Redding, CA