Donny's Ramblings


32 Comments

Ali. Part II.

This is a follow up on an encounter I had with a man who had just recently lost his wife to cancer.

Two days shy of a month ago I wrote about Ali the Muslim (you may remember that article, because a sentence I used in it began a bit of debate, prompting me to follow up with a post about God and Allah as well as another post a few days later). Today I spoke with Ali again.

I’m the type who likes to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before my flight departs. I prefer 3 hours but that’s not always feasible. After a great week at the Londen Institute’s Residency in Louisville, Kentucky, today I spoke with Craig Gross at First Christian Church in Huntington Beach, California, where we had a really fantastic Porn and Pancakes event. Craig dropped me off at Orange county’s John Wayne Airport 3 hours ahead of scheduled departure time. With that much time to spare I decided to check up on Ali. I hoped he was still working at the Oasis Grill & Sky Lounge near terminal 8, because I wanted to see how he was doing. He crosses my mind quite a bit. The day he told me the story of his wife dying of cancer really moved me.

As I walked up the ramp leading to the dining area I saw him. I called out his name from 20 feet away.

“Hey, Ali!” I said with a smile.

“Well hello sir! How are you doing?” he responded. Half a second later his face lit up as he recalled who I was. He repeated his “how are you” question again, this time meaning it.

As I sat down in his section, I was able to ask him how HE was doing.

“Not so good” was his reply. I asked if things were getting any easier for him and he let me know that they are not. In fact, life seems to be getting harder.

We spoke for bits and pieces of time, in between his waiter duties with other customers. Once in awhile he was able to speak with me for 3 to 4 minutes.

He gave me an “in memory” card of his wife, Shahin Madjd-Sadjadi.

He let me know that his daughter Runak is really having a difficult time.

I told Ali that I wanted to share something with him. I told him that I’d asked several people to pray for him, and he thanked me, letting me know that he definitely believes in prayer. I am asking all of you now to pray with me yet again for peace for Ali and his daughter. I know God can bring comfort to their minds.

As I sat awaiting my check, I pulled one of XXXChurch’s “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” Bibles from my back pocket. No, not to share any passages with Ali, but because I wanted God to talk to ME.

I breathed a short prayer. “God, I don’t know where to look. I just want to open this up and find a message for you awaiting inside. I need to hear from you right now.”

I kid you not!  James 5:13 is where my eyes landed. The JLPS Bible happens to be “The Message” version.

Here’s what I read:

Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven-healed inside and out.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t-not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

Do you see what I see? Can God get any more explicit in his answer?

Are you hurting? Pray.

That, my friends, is exactly what I promised Ali I’d have all of you do for him. So please, help me keep that promise. I’m confident God can bring comfort to my friend, and I need you to help me invite God to make that happen.

I’m asking that as you finish reading this blog article you simply take a moment to ask God to bring peace to Ali and Runak, his daughter.


6 Comments

Hello God – I Can’t Sleep

I like talking to you without the formalities that some seem to think necessary. I realize you’re there when I wake up and have bad breath or when I cuss at some idiot who cuts me off in traffic (I realize the other driver is another one of your kids, God, but can’t they learn how to drive?).

I know you’re wise enough and know me well enough to realize I mean no disrespect to you when I just talk to you like I’m talking to a good friend. In fact, I really think you like that. It must get tiring listening to people’s attempts to pontificate, rather than just opening themselves up to you and having a conversation.

When you were down here on earth in the form of Jesus, I wonder if you experienced some of the heartache and frustrations we experience? I bet you did. I’m pretty positive you took human form completely, and weren’t just Deity inhabiting a human body. I think your stomach growled when you were hungry and your back itched so badly at times that you occasionally scratched it with a tree branch to get relief. I wonder if you felt some of the other emotions we feel, like romantic love. That’s a really odd thought. It kinda makes me feel weird to even consider it, like maybe that’s a bit disrespectful or something. Anyway, if you did you probably know how frustrating such things can be. And if you didn’t, you still probably understand.

Tonight I can’t sleep, so I’m talking to you. I just sent off that email/prayer a second ago where I told you some of the very personal, private things that have been on my mind tonight. I thought that would help me sleep, but no luck. So now I’m blogging to you. As I said in my email, I seem to get my ideas out best when I’m writing. I’m sure you know that about me, though, since you know me better than I know myself. Sometimes I forget how amazing it is to be able to have a real relationship with you.

I’m really glad I was able to fly to Ft. Myers today, God, because I got a chance to do a lot of reading while on the plane. I needed that, as I’m sure you know. You really speak to me when I read. Maybe it’s because my mind isn’t distracted by thoughts of “business” or by music or by ego or by Donny being Donny. Whatever it is, thanks for the conversations we had today on the plane.

There’s really no point in this prayer, God. I’m just rambling. Just wanting to have a conversation with you, I guess. And since JR’s plane was held up and I have the room to myself until he finally arrives, I’m not really keeping anyone awake by typing this to you. Except myself, of course. It’s just that right now it’s only 11:35 pm back home, and it’s 2:35 am here. I realize I have to be up in a little over 3 hours and maybe that’s part of the reason I can’t sleep: trying too hard.

Michelle told me that more than 1,100 tickets were sold tomorrow for tomorrow’s event. If I can get up in front of that many people with barely any sleep without puking that’s really going to be a miracle. That’s a lot of eyeballs, God. Help, please!

Hopefully JR is staying awake as he drives from his alternate flight to the hotel. Prompt him to pull over for some cheap convenience store coffee if he starts feeling tired, will ya? Maybe I should call him, since I’m awake anyway. Maybe that’s why I’m awake? Do you want me to call JR?

In that case I guess I’ll stop rambling for now. I’ll call JR, then if I still can’t sleep I’ll listen to whatever it is you want to say, if you want to say anything to me, that is…

Hopefully the readers of my blog won’t think I’ve lost all my marbles typing out prayers to you on my site. Ah, who cares if they do, right? You know me.

I love you and would like your help dealing with my part of tomorrow’s P&P event.

Thanks for being there,

Donny


3 Comments

Hello God – I Can't Sleep

I like talking to you without the formalities that some seem to think necessary. I realize you’re there when I wake up and have bad breath or when I cuss at some idiot who cuts me off in traffic (I realize the other driver is another one of your kids, God, but can’t they learn how to drive?).

I know you’re wise enough and know me well enough to realize I mean no disrespect to you when I just talk to you like I’m talking to a good friend. In fact, I really think you like that. It must get tiring listening to people’s attempts to pontificate, rather than just opening themselves up to you and having a conversation.

When you were down here on earth in the form of Jesus, I wonder if you experienced some of the heartache and frustrations we experience? I bet you did. I’m pretty positive you took human form completely, and weren’t just Deity inhabiting a human body. I think your stomach growled when you were hungry and your back itched so badly at times that you occasionally scratched it with a tree branch to get relief. I wonder if you felt some of the other emotions we feel, like romantic love. That’s a really odd thought. It kinda makes me feel weird to even consider it, like maybe that’s a bit disrespectful or something. Anyway, if you did you probably know how frustrating such things can be. And if you didn’t, you still probably understand.

Tonight I can’t sleep, so I’m talking to you. I just sent off that email/prayer a second ago where I told you some of the very personal, private things that have been on my mind tonight. I thought that would help me sleep, but no luck. So now I’m blogging to you. As I said in my email, I seem to get my ideas out best when I’m writing. I’m sure you know that about me, though, since you know me better than I know myself. Sometimes I forget how amazing it is to be able to have a real relationship with you.

I’m really glad I was able to fly to Ft. Myers today, God, because I got a chance to do a lot of reading while on the plane. I needed that, as I’m sure you know. You really speak to me when I read. Maybe it’s because my mind isn’t distracted by thoughts of “business” or by music or by ego or by Donny being Donny. Whatever it is, thanks for the conversations we had today on the plane.

There’s really no point in this prayer, God. I’m just rambling. Just wanting to have a conversation with you, I guess. And since JR’s plane was held up and I have the room to myself until he finally arrives, I’m not really keeping anyone awake by typing this to you. Except myself, of course. It’s just that right now it’s only 11:35 pm back home, and it’s 2:35 am here. I realize I have to be up in a little over 3 hours and maybe that’s part of the reason I can’t sleep: trying too hard.

Michelle told me that more than 1,100 tickets were sold tomorrow for tomorrow’s event. If I can get up in front of that many people with barely any sleep without puking that’s really going to be a miracle. That’s a lot of eyeballs, God. Help, please!

Hopefully JR is staying awake as he drives from his alternate flight to the hotel. Prompt him to pull over for some cheap convenience store coffee if he starts feeling tired, will ya? Maybe I should call him, since I’m awake anyway. Maybe that’s why I’m awake? Do you want me to call JR?

In that case I guess I’ll stop rambling for now. I’ll call JR, then if I still can’t sleep I’ll listen to whatever it is you want to say, if you want to say anything to me, that is…

Hopefully the readers of my blog won’t think I’ve lost all my marbles typing out prayers to you on my site. Ah, who cares if they do, right? You know me.

I love you and would like your help dealing with my part of tomorrow’s P&P event.

Thanks for being there,

Donny


14 Comments

Who Am I Kidding?

Like I’ll ever be able to shut my mouth

Last week was a hard week. I felt like a miserable failure due to something that happened more than a decade ago. I’d tried forgetting about it, and had been able to do so to an extent. It rose up and smacked me in the face.

The thing is, I had yet to bring it to God in prayer. Nor had I asked for his forgiveness. Even after doing so, I still felt worthless. I still felt unusable. I felt like life was over.

Ridiculous to feel this way? Sure. Yet some of those feelings linger still. My initial reaction was a desire to shut down every unnecessary action and lock myself in a cave somewhere with nothing but my Bible and some Christian books, hoping that God would eventually forgive.

I’m not going to let feelings of shame keep me in a gutter. I’ll ask God’s opinion on how to address this properly, do so, and keep moving forward.

Hiatus over (as if it ever really began). I like it here. I’ll just keep reminding myself that I’m still a broken man. The fact that I am broken doesn’t mean I can’t be fixed. God’s grace and forgiveness covers ALL sins, even those that cause us to feel worthless.

Let’s see if I can learn something from this. Sometimes it seems an individual’s mistakes end up making them a better person. Let it be so, God. Let it be so.

________________________

By the way, Donald Miller‘s To Own a Dragon is an amazing book. I read it this weekend.


12 Comments

Answers to Prayers

The rewire continues. It’s like God has a spiritual electrician re-routing the thought patterns inside my brain. I’m seeing things from such a different perspective than ever before. I receive joy in small things that would have bored me to tears in the past. I’m receiving a different perspective on Christianity, and this time it doesn’t disgust me.

When Kris Vallotton first told me that he felt God wanted me to know that it would be 3 years before I’d be used in any sort of ministry I didn’t want to hear it. My thoughts were, “Hey, I was raised in church all my life. I have scripture memorized. I know the drill. It never meant anything to me before, but it does now. I’m READY!”

Then Bill Giovannetti told me, on a separate occasion, that I need to wait 3 years. I listened a little more because this was the second time I’d heard that number. Still, that seemed like such a LONG TIME.

I finally came to accept the fact that I have a lot of healing to do when I had the meltdown in December. That humbled me. It still affects me two months later. It was at that point I realized I needed a lot of time to heal and get strong. Not months, years.

The problem is, I still had a peace about sharing my story at Porn and Pancakes events and with churches who requested me to speak. Pastors I spoke with seemed to feel it was okay for me to continue doing so, but I didn’t want to do anything God wasn’t okay with. Somehow I needed to hear from Him that it was okay to continue sharing my story, part of which includes writing this blog. I asked God to show me a blatant answer.

I have a Life Application Bible, New International Version, that Wendy gave me on December 8th, 1993 back when we’d been dating a little over a year. I love the Life Application Bible. There are great commentaries at the bottom of every page that give a little background and reference on what’s being said. One morning I woke up at 5am. I felt like I needed to read my Bible. I tried to roll over and go back to sleep but the need to read it persisted, so I got up and opened to Acts chapter 9. The title above the chapter read “Saul’s Conversion” which caught my attention right away, because Bill Giovannetti has told me on many occasions that he thinks of me as a modern day Paul (for those who don’t know, Paul was called Saul before he became a Christian).

I started reading, taking time to read all the footnotes. This one really got my attention:

According to Galatians 1:17, 18, Paul left Damascus and traveled to Arabia, the desert region just southeast of Damascus, where he lived for three years

Three years. There’s that number again. It turns out Paul waited three years after his conversion before beginning his worldwide ministry. I continued reading. After reading another footnote I start crying…. crying because it was such a blatant answer to the prayer I’d prayed:

Immediately after receiving his sight and spending some time with the believers in Damascus, Saul went to the synagogue to tell the Jews about Jesus Christ. Some Christians counsel new believers to wait until they are thoroughly grounded in their faith before attempting to share the gospel. Saul took time alone to learn about Jesus before beginning his worldwide ministry, but he did not wait to witness. Although we should not rush into a ministry unprepared, we do not need to wait before telling others what has happened to us.

WOW! Can God be any more direct?? I was doubly excited, because not only had 3 years been reinforced once again, but God had also let me know it’s okay to go out and tell the story of what has happened in my life. There’s a big difference between sharing my story and actually doing any sort of ministry. It took a lot of will power to keep from calling Wendy at 5 am to tell her about this.

(the rest of this blog entry has been edited out because it was written with the wrong attitude… perhaps I’ll rewrite it some other day)