Donny's Ramblings


4 Comments

XXXChurch: New Site & HackFest 2008

XXXChurch.com - New Design - ScreenshotXXXCHURCH.COM SITE REDESIGN

The new xxxchurch.com site redesign has been launched. Click here to check it out. I had a blog called “the Industry” located on their site, but since I only updated it once every month or two Craig decided to simply link to this DonnysRamblings.com blog instead. Craig and I talked about having an RSS feed from here that would automatically repost articles to XXXChurch.com but I don’t see it so I guess that idea was scrapped. There are several new columns on the site written by numerous others so check it out. And leave them COMMENTS. Those of us who write really get a big kick out of your feedback. That means you’re reading. That means we’re not talking to ourselves.

HACKFEST – MONDAY, MAY 5, 2008

To explain what Hackfest is, I’ll quote Craig Gross:

Once a year we gather together and try and raise some money for the ministry. We do this by playing 100 holes of golf and none of us our golfers. Each of the staff will assemble a team. We’re playing 100 holes of golf in one day and the goal is to raise $25 a hole. You can start by sponsoring yourself at $1 a hole, that’s a $100 donation from yourself, then ask others to do the same. If that means getting 24 people to donate $1 per hole each, 5 people to donate $5 a hole, whatever… It’s up to you. You don’t have to collect the money. All you need is an address, phone or email from the person so we can contact them and collect. This is where those booklets will come in handy. ALSO, if you’re not living in the Grand Rapids area, we will fly you here, put you up and feed you.

Since I like to be flown in, put up, and fed, I’m looking for sponsors. I’m taking Craig’s advice and sponsoring myself for $1 per hole. Which means I’m invested a hundred bucks.

The goal is $25 per hole total, so I need 24 more sponsors at a buck a hole or… well, I’m sure you can do the math.

If you’d like to sponsor this hacker, please email me and let me know what address/phone number to put on file for XXXChurch to collect from later. I need your help, and so does XXXChurch.

Besides… I hear Rob Bell is going to be there. I want to golf with Rob. Really badly. And I’m not gonna stop buggin’ y’all until I’ve reached my sponsorship goal. Seriously.


48 Comments

To Mr. Anderson and Mr. Friel from “Way of the Master”

The following letter was written a few minutes ago in response to the audio clip heard here, in which Todd Friel Bashes XXXChurch. As I say below in the comment’s section, I have no opinions pro or con about Way of the Master. All I know about it is that Kirk Cameron is somehow involved and that Todd Friel does a radio show for that ministry. Beyond that, I know very little about it. I’ll assume it does the world some amount of good in one way or another. Bashing on X3 is all I’m addressing with this letter.

Mr. Anderson,

From your website I understand you are the General Manager of Way of the Master Radio. Howdy. 🙂

Many months ago I watched a video response on You Tube to Rob Bell’s Nooma video “Bullhorn Man”. Since I’d only recently become a Christian at that time, and had no idea who the man in the video was, I kind of brushed him off as yet another judgmental Christian the likes of which I’d hated during my 9 years as a porn producer. I found his arguments petty and, well, argumentative. My impression was, “This man just doesn’t ‘get it'”.

Doing a google search for Todd Friel a few minutes ago, I discovered that the man criticizing XXXChurch in an audio clip I just heard on X3’s website is the same man I heard ripping on Rob Bell all those months ago. The first thought in my mind was that a person who must spend their time publicly criticizing and pointing out what is wrong with other ministries must really not have much of one himself.

That, however, is a bit judgmental of me. And I’ve learned that being judgmental of the judgmental is still… judgmental. I have to constantly remind myself of that, because everything inside of me wants to scream words like IDIOT into the face of people who would rather tear down those who are out making a difference, instead of getting off their lazy “Christian” butts and reaching into gutters to pull out those who are passed out in the mire.

All I can say to this fellow is that not all of us are going to ever agree on what Jesus would or would not do. If you’d like pure honesty, I’m not much of a fan of Pete the Porno Puppet, but I do think it’s a very big mistake to devalue and discredit the entire ministry of XXXChurch because of one’s opinions of such a puppet. Pete’s purpose was served when Jay Leno heard of the Pete and Ron Jeremy clip and told the entire NATION about xxxchurch.com. Out of the millions watching that night, if ONE person took a trip to the website and found hope for a porn addiction it was all worth it. The ONLY people “offended” or upset by Pete are other Christians who think it is “inappropriate”. Aren’t we supposed to be the mature ones? How can we go into the gutters and pull out the sinners if petty things like this offend us so deeply? Like Dr. Bill Giovannetti, Pastor of 2,000 member Neighborhood Church in Redding, California and Professor at Simpson University (a Christian university) always says: Christians need to give up their right to be so easily offended!

What I DO know from personal experience is that for the last two years of my porn producing career, the perspectives I had on what Christian are was changed by the staff of XXXChurch. There were always Christians standing outside the porn conventions holding up signs telling me that I was heading to hell. I’d pass by and give them a one finger salute. Their message was NOT getting through.

But there were these guys inside telling me and those around me that there was NOTHING we could EVER do to make God love us any less. NOTHING. And over the course of two years I gave them a lot of hell on their website and on my blog. They responded like Jesus would have responded. They turned the other cheek, and offered more of the same message: “There is NOTHING you could EVER do to make God love you ANY less”.

I saw a vision of what a Christian SHOULD be in those men and women, and it opened my heart up to receive the message God wanted me to hear.

To Todd:
My dear Mr. Friel, as you are questioning whether or not a ministry is producing fruit… kindly allow me introduce you to a man who produced more than 2 million pornographic images and hours and hours of video, who hated Christians with a passion and did everything he could to cause them grief, and who has been completely changed by God’s love and the willing “vessels” he put into that porn producer’s life, and who is now 3 months into Seminary, on his way to becoming a Pastor:

Me.

Sincerely,

Donny Pauling
http://www.donnypauling.com/


24 Comments

To Mr. Anderson and Mr. Friel from "Way of the Master"

The following letter was written a few minutes ago in response to the audio clip heard here, in which Todd Friel Bashes XXXChurch. As I say below in the comment’s section, I have no opinions pro or con about Way of the Master. All I know about it is that Kirk Cameron is somehow involved and that Todd Friel does a radio show for that ministry. Beyond that, I know very little about it. I’ll assume it does the world some amount of good in one way or another. Bashing on X3 is all I’m addressing with this letter.

Mr. Anderson,

From your website I understand you are the General Manager of Way of the Master Radio. Howdy. 🙂

Many months ago I watched a video response on You Tube to Rob Bell’s Nooma video “Bullhorn Man”. Since I’d only recently become a Christian at that time, and had no idea who the man in the video was, I kind of brushed him off as yet another judgmental Christian the likes of which I’d hated during my 9 years as a porn producer. I found his arguments petty and, well, argumentative. My impression was, “This man just doesn’t ‘get it'”.

Doing a google search for Todd Friel a few minutes ago, I discovered that the man criticizing XXXChurch in an audio clip I just heard on X3’s website is the same man I heard ripping on Rob Bell all those months ago. The first thought in my mind was that a person who must spend their time publicly criticizing and pointing out what is wrong with other ministries must really not have much of one himself.

That, however, is a bit judgmental of me. And I’ve learned that being judgmental of the judgmental is still… judgmental. I have to constantly remind myself of that, because everything inside of me wants to scream words like IDIOT into the face of people who would rather tear down those who are out making a difference, instead of getting off their lazy “Christian” butts and reaching into gutters to pull out those who are passed out in the mire.

All I can say to this fellow is that not all of us are going to ever agree on what Jesus would or would not do. If you’d like pure honesty, I’m not much of a fan of Pete the Porno Puppet, but I do think it’s a very big mistake to devalue and discredit the entire ministry of XXXChurch because of one’s opinions of such a puppet. Pete’s purpose was served when Jay Leno heard of the Pete and Ron Jeremy clip and told the entire NATION about xxxchurch.com. Out of the millions watching that night, if ONE person took a trip to the website and found hope for a porn addiction it was all worth it. The ONLY people “offended” or upset by Pete are other Christians who think it is “inappropriate”. Aren’t we supposed to be the mature ones? How can we go into the gutters and pull out the sinners if petty things like this offend us so deeply? Like Dr. Bill Giovannetti, Pastor of 2,000 member Neighborhood Church in Redding, California and Professor at Simpson University (a Christian university) always says: Christians need to give up their right to be so easily offended!

What I DO know from personal experience is that for the last two years of my porn producing career, the perspectives I had on what Christian are was changed by the staff of XXXChurch. There were always Christians standing outside the porn conventions holding up signs telling me that I was heading to hell. I’d pass by and give them a one finger salute. Their message was NOT getting through.

But there were these guys inside telling me and those around me that there was NOTHING we could EVER do to make God love us any less. NOTHING. And over the course of two years I gave them a lot of hell on their website and on my blog. They responded like Jesus would have responded. They turned the other cheek, and offered more of the same message: “There is NOTHING you could EVER do to make God love you ANY less”.

I saw a vision of what a Christian SHOULD be in those men and women, and it opened my heart up to receive the message God wanted me to hear.

To Todd:
My dear Mr. Friel, as you are questioning whether or not a ministry is producing fruit… kindly allow me introduce you to a man who produced more than 2 million pornographic images and hours and hours of video, who hated Christians with a passion and did everything he could to cause them grief, and who has been completely changed by God’s love and the willing “vessels” he put into that porn producer’s life, and who is now 3 months into Seminary, on his way to becoming a Pastor:

Me.

Sincerely,

Donny Pauling
http://www.donnypauling.com/


4 Comments

Rob Bell and the Samurai

XXXChurch calls Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan home. In case you don’t know, Mars Hill is the church founded by Rob Bell. So when Craig Gross told me he’d been speaking with Jon Bell (Rob’s brother), that he had tickets for me to Rob’s The God’s Aren’t Angry tour, and that Jon and Rob wanted to meet afterward… well, to say “I was very excited” would be an understatement.

In October of 2006 I asked for book suggestions. Rob’s book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith is one of the first Christian books I read after surrendering my life to God, and it blew me away. I loved it. I’ve read it once and listened to it on audio twice. I highly suggest reading it. I also highly suggest viewing as many of Rob’s Nooma videos as possible. But I digress.

Wendy and Caden took the trip with me. We spent the early afternoon on Pier 39, checking out the Aquarium of the Bay while we had the chance. After a long, brutal battle, my son charmed his way into a samurai sword (he really had to fight hard for it: showed it to mom and dad, smiled, made cute “Shrek Cat” face… sword acquired).

And so it happened that Rob Bell was later photographed with the world’s newest, deadliest samurai:

Rob Bell, Samurai Caden, Donny Pauling

Rob Bell, Samurai Caden, Donny Pauling

(Rob’s talk was great, by the way)


20 Comments

Do Me A Favor

Please do me a favor – watch this video. It’s only 10 minutes, 24 seconds long:

001 Rain | Rob Bell : Nooma.com (click here to watch)

You may have to wait a few minutes for it to load, depending on your internet connection speed.

Tell me what you think of it. Personally, I love the Nooma videos (and both of Rob Bell’s books: Sex God and Velvet Elvis). At the time of this writing I’ve purchased 8 of the 15 Nooma videos that have been produced to date. My favorite is Breathe.


32 Comments

Emotional Roller Coaster, a Healed Ear and a 45lbs Lighter Donny

I started writing this on April 3rd, 11 days ago. I wrote most of it, saved it as a draft, and haven’t returned to finish it. Today I intend to do so.

Before becoming a Christian, I’d never seriously considered ending my life.

Ever.

Ever ever ever.

So after surrendering my life to God… after He begins doing amazing, powerful, profound things for me… after having real encounters with the Creator of the Universe… why is it that after all of that I arrived at a place where I seriously wished to die?

This happened just a few days short of a month ago. John says I played it down when I very briefly mentioned it in my “Dear Daphne” letter. He says I did so because I’m afraid that if I tell the truth people won’t like me as much. People might stop reading my blog. People might think I’m not really a Christian. People might think I’m crazy and, as such, might not want to listen to me speak.

John is very blunt. I love him. He’s my best friend and he knows me pretty damned well. He calls it like he sees it and trusts me enough to know I won’t be offended when he does so. He knows I respect that about him.

And really, what is there to be afraid of? I discuss everything here, and because of that I’ve received dozens of emails thanking me for being transparent. Telling me that this blog speaks into the lives of many.

I feel that’s what I’m supposed to do here. I feel that very strongly.

So now I’m going to tell you about the emotional roller coaster I was riding.

It felt like the world came crashing down on March 16th.

On that day:

– I’d just settled in to a new place to live after the bank took my house. The new place isn’t nearly as comfortable as what I’ve been used to, and having two roommates takes a bit of adjustment, especially when you have to share a bathroom with one of them.

– That afternoon Wendy let me know that there’s no hope for reconciliation on any sort of romantic level, and when I heard her reasons for feeling that way I knew she was serious.

I had to face a very serious issue from my past that I’ve been trying to forget.

– I was still upset that, the day before, a man from the adult industry… a man I used to consider a good friend… publicly posted the following message to me, where hundreds if not thousands of people could read it:

If you think you are some reborn Christian, you have lost it. Seriously, I anticipate the day I hear/read about you offing yourself, and I will state now that not only does it not surprise me, but it doesn’t sadden me either. You have inner demons that must be cast out, and at the rate you are going, death is the only thing that will help that along.

– Feelings of rejection (Belinda) begun raising up inside, once again (sometimes I still can’t wrap my mind around how someone can move on so quickly after 6 years of being together – deep inside I know it was my fault, but that doesn’t always satisfy my questions).

– My counselor was out of town.

– My dad, too, was out of town: on vacation for the entire month.

I started thinking, “Lloyd’s right. I should do the world a favor and take myself out.”

I don’t want to discuss the full details of that day because, looking back, I am very embarrassed to have felt that way at all. But I will tell you what kept me from parking my running car in a garage at my former residence, where my garage door opener still works, and listening to music until I went to sleep: I ended up making a call for help. That call brought me down to earth enough that I deciding to check myself into a mental hospital instead of doing something really stupid.

The hospital turned me away. It was after normal admissions hours.  I was informed that in order to be admitted I’d need to go to the emergency room of a regular local hospital and ask for a counselor to be sent.

On the way to the ER I became angry and asked myself what the hell I was doing. Why was I being so stupid? It turned out not to be necessary to check in. Simply attempting to admit myself made something change inside of me, so instead of going to the ER, I went directly to the church for Friday night service…

where God healed my ear. It had been hurting pretty badly for several days. During the service, a man whose name I don’t know started praying for it. Less than 10 seconds into his prayer I started hearing popping noises, the pain went away, and it hasn’t returned.

How can one continue wallowing in self pity after God heals their ear?

God, that was a really good way to refocus my mind back onto you. Thank you for that.

The next day I read Donald Miller’s To Own a Dragon. I was very embarrassed about how I’d felt the day before. How could I have allowed such thoughts to enter my brain?

I was feeling normal again.

For a few days.

The beautiful conversations I’d been having with Wendy were over. There’s nothing more intimate than connecting with words and being on the same page. But that intimacy had to stop.

Once again, I started feeling like I had nobody who truly cared. I bought into that lie. I didn’t sink again to a level where I wanted to die, but I sure was feeling sorry for myself. Today I can’t even remember why.

Because of all of this I realized I was giving myself way too much free time to ponder things that don’t need to be pondered. I immersed myself in work, which is why this blog hasn’t been updated as regularly as I’d like. Dealer Web Concepts, the business I started to help auto dealers with their internet marketing needs, now services 7 auto dealerships in 4 towns. I had to drop one client due to a conflict of interest with another. That turned out to be a good thing, however, because I have no idea where I’d find the time to service them.

Is now a good time to take a break and mention that I’ve lost 45 lbs? I haven’t been at this weight for almost 6 years. Not long ago I read a comment made on an internet message board by Belinda’s new boyfriend, alluding to him wanting to be “the bigger man” and I couldn’t help but snicker a little. Because now he literally IS the bigger man. But I digress.

Dear God, you’ve allowed me to work past my hatred of Mark to the point where it no longer exists, now please help me lose the residual bitterness as well.

Besides immersing myself in work, I’ve begun attending more home groups. Surrounding myself with like minded people works wonders. When I was growing up, the churches I attended never had small groups. Are these a relatively new creation or were we just clueless? Home groups are amazing! And the churches I associate with have so many to choose from! I attend a Singles group, a Single Parents group, a Christian Sportsman group and another group that wouldn’t quite fit into any particular category.

Feelings of being “alone” no longer exist.

As a Christian I’m still an infant, but I’m loving every experience, good and bad. I’m so far from perfect it’s not even funny. Thank God for Romans 7 verse 17-25. I’ve used those scriptures to help lead others to surrendering their life to God, but I personally find a lot of strength to stand back up each time I fall down.

Here’s Paul, the man who wrote the majority of the New Testament upon which literally BILLIONS of people have lived their lives, talking about his personal struggles. Not struggles he USED TO HAVE, but struggles he faced as a Christian, all the time. “The Message” translation says it best:

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!

I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it.

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.

My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.

I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

As Rob Bell talks about in the first of his Nooma videos, so many people think being a Christian means you have to have your life in perfect order. But Jesus himself said he didn’t come for those who have it all together. He came for the sick.

Thank God for that.


4 Comments

To Daphne

You’re right, Daphne, most of what people will say to you is going to be trite. There’s simply not a whole lot of substance that the majority of the population will be able to offer to you.

I know how you feel. I can offer that much to you. Perhaps I don’t know EXACTLY how you feel, because nobody can know that. I don’t have magic answers for you, either. I just know that it was a very short time ago I wanted to check myself into a mental institution because just minutes earlier I was planning out how to end my life.

And that happened AFTER I became a Christian.

“God, what’s wrong with me? I SHOULD feel on top of the world, but I don’t! You’re doing so much in my life, and I even feel your presence all the time. Why do I still feel this way?”

The answer is that I have no idea what the answer is, Daphne. I simply can’t understand how those feelings still enter my being. I’m sure you feel the same.

Daphne, I’m just an overweight ex-porn-producer who gave his life to God on September 25th. Yesterday made 6 months for me. God has given me so much, yet I still feel like a failure much of the time and feel despair on a regular basis. Then I feel like more of a failure for the mood swings I keep having. My mood changes from being on top of the world to feeling really low. There’s no reason for it, but for some reason it happens anyway.

Why do I mention all of that? I dunno. Probably to just let you know that you are not alone. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I can tell you that I’ll pray for you, and while that’s true, I’m sure that offers little comfort. It’s just another trite thing to say. I will pray for you, for sure. But I’ll also ask God if there’s anything he wants me to tell you.

I don’t have an answer to your need for a family, Daphne. I live in Redding, California: 500 miles north of you. And the only people I really know in LA are in the porn business. “I’ll pray for you to find what you need” just seems like worthless words.

What I do know is this: you’re a talented writer. You’re an amazing artist. You’re a beautiful girl. Looking at the photos in your profile, my heart skips a beat. That, my dear, is not some trite sentence. I mean it. I know you feel broken right now, but from the little I can learn about you on MySpace it sure looks to me like you’ve got some really good ingredients sitting in your bowl. You can use what you have to bake a really beautiful cake. You’ve got the makings of something very good.

And, look forward to this: there are hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of other girls out there who feel just like you do. If you can reach inside and find a way to get over what you’re feeling right now… if you can find a way to step on Satan’s head and tell him that he’s not taking you down… then at some point in the future when another person comes to you asking for the help you’re seeking right now: YOU will be able to help, instead of posting trite replies on MySpace.

That, dear Daphne, is PURPOSE. That’s something to hold onto. You matter, and God wants to use you to help other Daphnes that he loves so dearly. I want to tell you something I learned recently, about Jesus. Perhaps Jesus isn’t what you want to hear about right now, but I’m gonna tell you anyway:

In Jesus’ day, children received their education from Rabbis starting around age 6. Between age 10 and 15, the rabbi would start to consider which of the kids he taught was good enough to carry on his yoke (his yoke = his way of teaching the Torah, or scriptures). He’d tell those who were “good enough”: “Come, follow me”. Those who were good enough would then have the honor of following that rabbi around for years, learning how to teach about God in the style of their master. The rest would be sent back home to learn the family business. They weren’t good enough to carry on the Rabbi’s yoke.

When Jesus called his disciples, you’ll notice he went to the losers. They’d been cast aside by other rabbis and sent home to learn the family business. He went to them and said, “Come, follow me.” He was saying “YOU are good enough to carry on MY yoke. You’re good enough to do my work and carry on my traditions. I don’t care if others have cast you aside, I am telling you that you’re good enough to do what I need you to do”.

I hold on to that when I feel like a failure. How can I be a failure when God himself, in the form of a man, has told me I’m good enough to carry on his yoke?

Daphne, you’re good enough to reach other people for Jesus. He wants you to be part of his family, and to help the rest of his kids through you. It doesn’t matter how often you fail. All that matters is that you get up one time more than you fall down. He’ll give you a huge hug and sit you on his lap, wiping away your tears. I know, I know, it sounds trite. But it’s so true.

I hope you find the physical family you’re looking for, but you’ve already got a spiritual family. God himself is your father, brother, and even your lover (yes, God is a lover – read Sex God by Rob Bell if you can – I’d also recommend reading Donald Miller’s Books: Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, To Own a Dragon – you’ll SO identify with them, and I’d be happy to send my copies to you). And there are many of us in your spiritual family who can identify with how you feel. We’re here, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.

(I’d like to ask all readers to please keep Daphne in your prayers. She’s having a rough time right now.)