Donny's Ramblings


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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 XXXChurch.com 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


5 Comments

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 XXXChurch.com 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


44 Comments

The First 3 Pages

I’ve begun writing a book. I’d like to share the first 3 pages with you. Please let me know what you think.

Chapter 1: I’m Out

It’s early September of 2006 and I’m sitting in the office of Playboy Vice President Joe Lackey. Joe calls in Mark Navarro, one of his managers. The two of them have an offer to present to me.

“We want to start a new site and we think you and Belinda are perfect to produce the content for it,” Joe tells me.

Mark lays out the details. The models we specialize in recruiting would indeed be perfect for this project. The offer of an additional $4,000 per day on top of what we’re already shooting for Playboy is fantastic. I leave the office in high spirits.

On the drive back to Redding I decide to speak with God. This isn’t something new: I’ve been doing a bit of praying from time to time, especially since the XXXChurch team started getting inside my head starting almost 2 years past, slowly changing my perception of Christianity.

“God, it seems to me that Christians have it all wrong,” I begin, “because it doesn’t seem to matter what I do, you want to bless me.”

The immediate jolt that goes through my body feels like electricity. An audible sound escapes my lips, as if all the air is going out of my lungs. The feeling passes quickly, but my hands are still shaking. I pull my car to the side of the road because there is no way I’m going to be able to drive for the next few minutes. It is no mystery what has just happened: God just reached out and touched me. The thing is, this zap didn’t seem in any way malicious. I’m not being punished. I’m not being warned. The intended message flashes into my mind: “This is so petty. I have much more for you than this. You wanted me to prove myself to be real, right? I just granted your wish.”

I’ve instantly lost all desire to produce porn. I can’t explain why, but in that brief moment, that literally shocking experience, my life has been changed. I don’t understand it, but that’s just the way it is, baby.

Once I’m on the road again, I pick up my cell to call Belinda, my fiancée and “partner in crime”. “I have good news and bad news,” I tell her. “The good news is, Playboy offered us another 4 grand a day to produce a lesbian series for them.” Her squeals of excitement fill my ear. She’s not gonna like the bad news.

“The bad news is, I’m not doing this anymore.
I’m done.
I’m out.”

Belinda’s response indicates she doesn’t believe me. “We’ll talk about this when you get home,” she says. But what she doesn’t realize is that I’m dead serious. I’m never going to pick up a camera to shoot porn again. I have no idea how I’ll pay the bills, but porn production isn’t going to be part of my life anymore.

As I drive home I make a promise to God. “God, if you answer the questions I have about the Bible and Christianity I’ll surrender my life to you,” I bargain.

Two weeks go by and God isn’t answering. He isn’t miraculously telling me why, because of the rebellion of a group of people, unborn babies were ripped out of their mother’s wombs in Hosea 13:16. He isn’t explaining why millions of people have been killed in His name since the beginning of time. He isn’t shedding any light on the reasons for the behavior of those board members from my father’s churches who were so cruel, so mean, so… NOT like Christ.

Instead, he is silent. And I am miserable. I no longer want to produce porn, yet God is not taking up the other end of the bargain I’ve offered to Him. Doesn’t he realize I’m eagerly waiting for a reason to believe? Doesn’t he know that if he can just answer a few simple questions I’ll dedicate the rest of my life to Him?

It is now September 25th, 2006 and I’m once again returning from Sacramento, California, this time on personal business completely unrelated to Playboy. I’m contemplating God and Christianity, as I’ve been doing nearly nonstop for the past 14 days. The floodlights come on and I suddenly realize the truth: God wants me to want HIM. He wants me to choose Him without conditions. He wants me to trust Him.

“God”, I begin. “You know I have a hard time believing the sacrifice on the cross was ever really made. You know I have a hard time believing some of the things I’ve read in the Bible. But I feel like I’m supposed to surrender my life to you and trust you to help me through those issues. By faith and by choice I am accepting Jesus’ sacrifice and am surrendering my life to you. God, it feels so good to say that.”

A weight has been lifted off my heart. It seems to beat easier. I feel at peace, and excited about the future. I pick up the phone and call Craig Gross, co-founding Pastor of XXXChurch.com.

“Craig, I just surrendered my life to God.”

Our conversation goes on for a few minutes as Craig tells me he’ll be sending JR Mahon to my house the very next day to spend some time with me. I assure him I’ll pick JR up at the airport and as I end the call I’m blown away that XXXChurch would spend the money to send one of their Pastors out to California just to see me, especially on such short notice. There they go again, behaving as if they represent the Jesus I’ve read about in the Bible. There they go again, further demonstrating the stereotypes I’ve had about Christians for so many years are totally wrong. There they go again, giving me hope.

There is no doubt God’s presence has filled my car. He’s all over me. I’m covered in goosebumps. For some reason I feel compelled to turn on KLOVE, a station I detest. A song is ending, a song whose name I’ll never be able to recall. But as that song ends I know I’ll never forget the song that starts next.

Almighty God.
The great “I AM”.
Immovable rock.
Omnipotent.
Powerful.
Awesome Lord.
Victorious warrior.
Commanding King of Kings.
Mighty conqueror.
And the only time… the ONLY time I ever saw Him RUN…
Was when He ran to me, took me in His arms,
Held my head to His chest, and said “My son’s come home again!”
Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes,
With forgiveness in His voice He said,
“Son do you know I still love you?”
He caught me by surprise when God ran.

Oh, my God! You are running to me? You’re welcoming me home? After producing nearly 2 million pornographic photographs and hours of video, you are still running to welcome me home?

The visual in my mind is overwhelming. I begin to weep.


36 Comments

For JR, Steve, and David:

“God wanted 10 days to create the world. Chuck Norris gave him 6.”

This past weekend in Ft Myers, Florida, I had the opportunity to hang out with JR, Steve, and David. Because we are highly mature men, we amused ourselves while driving by telling “momma jokes” and demonstrating our knowledge of Chuck Norris Facts. We laughed until our sides hurt, then discussed how many women “wouldn’t get it”, affirming that statement later by repeating some of said “Facts” to MT of X3, David’s wife, only to receive silence in response.

I can’t explain why, but I am very much amused by “Chuck Norris Facts”. I even came up with one of my own, which I may share with you later in the comment’s area. JR thought it was funny. That must count for something.

Here’s a video of Chuck Norris himself, responding to some of the “facts” being circulated on the internet about him.

  • Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. Too bad Chuck Norris has never cried. Ever.
  • Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.
  • In fine print on the last page of the Guinness Book of World Records it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone else has ever gotten.

If you count yourself amongst those of us who are amused by “Chuck Norris Facts” feel free to add your favorite(s) as a comment.


8 Comments

My Schedule – Are YOU Near Any of These Events?

(I have a prayer request at the end of this article)

I’m awake! I’m awake!

Of course I am… it’s time to get ready to fly to Ft. Myers, Florida. Tomorrow morning I’m speaking at Porn and Pancakes with Craig and J.R. My schedule for the next several weeks is hectic. I love it! Well, right NOW I love it, let’s see how I feel halfway into it. Fall starts the busy time of year for speaking engagements. Here’s mine for the next month and a half:

  • Friday, September 14 – Sunday, September 16: Ft. Myers, Florida for Porn and Pancakes, followed by Sunday Morning Services at First Assembly Ministry.
  • Friday, September 21st – Sunday, September 23rd: Colorado Springs, Colorado for Porn and Pancakes, followed by Sunday Morning Services at Pulpit Rock Church.
  • Friday, September 28 – Saturday, September 29: Irvine, California for Porn and Pancakes at Mariner’s Church.
  • Sunday, September 30th: Sacramento, California to speak at Morning services at Arcade Church.
  • Saturday, October 6th – Sunday, October 7th: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for NATIONAL PORN SUNDAY, broadcasting from LifeChurch.tv.
  • Monday, October 8th – Tuesday, October 9th: Edinborough, Pennsylvania for Porn and Pizza at McLane Church.
  • Friday, October 12th – Saturday, October 13th: Richmond, Virginia for Porn and Pancakes at New Venture Christian Church.
  • Sunday, October 14th: Charlotte, North Carolina to speak during Sunday Morning services at Kinetic Church.
  • Friday, October 26 – Saturday, October 27th: Huntington Beach, California for Porn and Pancakes at First Christian Church.
  • Friday, November 2 – Saturday, November 3rd: Dayton, Ohio for Porn and Pancakes at Apex Community Church.

I’ll be logging a lot of frequent-flyer miles, and bringing my iPhone. I want to meet as many people as I can, take your photo so I remember you, and add you to my iPhone’s address book.

Come with a smile!

PRAYER REQUEST:

I’d like those of you who pray to agree with me in this request, and to pray with me for some of these things when you remember to do so:

God, I thank you SO MUCH for the opportunity to travel and speak with your sons and daughters about this very important issue.  I ask that you keep reminding me that YOU are merciful and full of grace, and that transforming a wretch like me is a miracle.  Using me in the manner in which you’ve used me is humbling.  Please remind me to stay in that place of humility.  You know me, God.  I have a HUGE ego, God, and have a tendency to sometimes want to take credit for things that have nothing to do with me and everything to do with you.  Please help me break that.  I’d ask you to just break it for me but I realize it’s something you’re happy to provide assistance with, but much of the work has to be done on my end.

I’d also like to ask for health.  Flying around the country is something that often times results in colds.  I hate colds.  I run to the grocery store for NyQuil and DayQuil at every sniffle.  Please, I ask, help me to stay away from bugs and germs.

I also ask that you open hearts to receive the message being presented at these events.  You’ve given all of us free will to do as we please, but sometimes our free will hurts others, and ourselves, much more than we realize.  I want those who listen to know that none of us are trying to take away rights or free will, we just want people to have more knowledge about all sides, all perspectives, of the issue of pornography.  It’s an issue that is huge and it’s a big blue elephant that we no longer want the church to ignore.

Be with all of us.  Bless every speaker and every listener.  I love you.

– Donny –


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Grabbing Ron Jeremy’s Butt… and Other Silliness

The podcast we recorded last Sunday while at Capital Christian Center is finally up on JasonHarper.cc. Click that link, then listen to Episode 107. Jason Harper discusses some of the silliness that happened on the recent Porn Debate tour. The Porn Debate is quite the interesting event: Craig Gross from XXXChurch debates Ron Jeremy, the biggest adult male porn star in the business, about the issue of pornography. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, turn out each night to listen. Jason Harper was the moderator for the recent Porn Debate tour.

On this podcast some of the funny things on that tour were discussed, amongst many other silly things.

I guess there’s a point. I’m not sure what it was. But it’s fun to listen to this podcast.

On the podcast you hear:
Jason Harper – One of the Pastors at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento
JR Mahon – one of the Pastors of XXXChurch.com
Donny Pauling – me, of course
Anonymous – Former well known Porn Star who prefers to remain anonymous for now… 6 months ago he became a Christian and left the business.

I love JR’s sarcasm. His personality really shines through.

Jason Harper and JR Mahon
Jason’s on the left, JR on the right. Shot with my iPhone while recording the Podcast.

PS: I just heard the end of the podcast as I’m writing this… it’s kinda cool that Jason echoed my voice – a statement I made during the podcast – as part of the out-tro. Thanks, Jason.


5 Comments

Grabbing Ron Jeremy's Butt… and Other Silliness

The podcast we recorded last Sunday while at Capital Christian Center is finally up on JasonHarper.cc. Click that link, then listen to Episode 107. Jason Harper discusses some of the silliness that happened on the recent Porn Debate tour. The Porn Debate is quite the interesting event: Craig Gross from XXXChurch debates Ron Jeremy, the biggest adult male porn star in the business, about the issue of pornography. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, turn out each night to listen. Jason Harper was the moderator for the recent Porn Debate tour.

On this podcast some of the funny things on that tour were discussed, amongst many other silly things.

I guess there’s a point. I’m not sure what it was. But it’s fun to listen to this podcast.

On the podcast you hear:
Jason Harper – One of the Pastors at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento
JR Mahon – one of the Pastors of XXXChurch.com
Donny Pauling – me, of course
Anonymous – Former well known Porn Star who prefers to remain anonymous for now… 6 months ago he became a Christian and left the business.

I love JR’s sarcasm. His personality really shines through.

Jason Harper and JR Mahon
Jason’s on the left, JR on the right. Shot with my iPhone while recording the Podcast.

PS: I just heard the end of the podcast as I’m writing this… it’s kinda cool that Jason echoed my voice – a statement I made during the podcast – as part of the out-tro. Thanks, Jason.