Skip to main content

Jimmy Roughton wows Union Gospel Mission crowd

Jimmy Roughton speaking before the Union Gospel Mission congregation. [Photo kiped from the UGM website.]
We were told beforehand by Brother Bill and, again, in the course of things, that Jimmy Roughton is nearing the 21st anniversary of the day in his life that he left drugging and the street for being a Christian, and a year thereafter, becoming a neophyte preacher at the beginnings of being a dedicated, reliable fixture on the UGM calendar.

I don't want to overstate it, so I'll put it this way: There were a few of us ― modestly, at very least that many ― who were awed by Jimmy Roughton's presentation last night at the Union Gospel Mission and were robust in our applause (if not cheers) and voicing of superlatives.

Roughton [pronounced such that the first syllable rhymes with "wow."] always delivers an interesting, thoughtful and entertaining sermon. I've written about him about seven times earlier in my other blog, Homeless Tom. In one blogpost I wrote this:
[A]lways, Roughton displays amazing passion and showmanship. He is a riveting speaker; he is loud, passionate, with grand gestures; his eyes dart as he makes contact with individuals in his audience. He doesn’t make use of a text; he doesn’t need one – he knows his stuff and what he is going to say and speaks without pauses or stumbles. He begins on the pulpit at the lectern, but as his message unspools he makes his way down to the chapel floor.
All of the above was true last night, but my next sentence, which follows, in that old post wasn't true last night: "A part of his charm is that Roughton comically – mockingly – does a good job imitating classes of people: False Christians, atheists and rationalizing substance abusers are prime targets."

Jimmy may have done an imitation or two last night, but dividing the world (and having a foil to mock) wasn't how the sermon was set up. Last night, Jimmy was fully mature*, delivering a sermon that was wholly gracious and passionately desirous that the audience and everyone get the best from their lives (and afterlives). Nothing was held back.

"I don't want any of you to be religious," he told us. "What I want for you is to have a relationship with God. … God has placed eternity in our hearts. We know there is something on the other side other than nothing."

The above sentiment is very close to something I had heard from my second-favorite mission preacher, Pastor Brett of Vacaville Bible College, just over a month ago. But Ingalls left me hanging: So what IS this relationship? Is God/Jesus physically, literally there, as the lyrics to a UGM faved hymn, "In the Garden," suggests?
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
In his sermon yesterday, Roughton was explicit in expressing his experience of a relationship with God/Jesus and its implications. While I remain plenty fuzzy on all of this, I was given some sense of what the core of what the preachers — or, at least, Jimmy, last night — was talking about.

"Relationship with God didn't change my life, it changed me," he told us. "I stopped chasing a bag [meaning marijuana, or another mind-altering, addictive substance]; started chasing a book [The Bible]. … It was like God opened me up and began pouring Himself into my skull.

"Blessings come when we allow God in to work His will in [loving relationships] with other people." Jimmy added, pithily: "Let go and let God." He spoke of the irony of his Christian life as being one where things, including big-ticket physical comforts like a car and house, came to him now that he no longer keenly covets them.

"You've got to give yourself away," he said. "Be in relationships without expectations and with a lot of forgiveness. Seek a relationship with God and with God's people."

Jimmy told us that that whom we are changed into from having a relationship with God is the full expression of whom we were created to be. "He created me to be me," he said. He created you to be you.

Though on the page/monitor it sounds critical, it was not when Jimmy said: "The problem with Christians is Christians." His point, in elaboration, was that Chistians often make an effort at being saved, but do so without a change of attitude. People making the effort to become Christian will say the right words but quickly fail to take the meaning to heart and be open to feeling different and not falling back into their old habits.

After his death, Jimmy told us, he didn't want to be remembered for his resume. He wanted to be remembered for some accomplishment at the goal he now has. "Let it be said of Jimmy: 'He encouraged people and he loved people.' "

* When I write "mature," I am referring to egoity, which is something I read about these days, and not faith or spirituality which I know less about. Also, while I was touched by Jimmy's sermon last night, I don't expect that he has to hit a home run every time and that every sermon be inspiring without some sometimes-healthy complaining/mocking.
Also: Though it may not seem like I recognize that critiquing Christian sermons is way over my head and arrogant on my part, I do recognize this. I do. I do.


Popular posts from this blog

More Homeless Hate from Marcos Breton

There was a long spell a handful of years ago when Marcos Breton said something so fully ridiculous in one of his hateful screeds against homeless folk that it appeared to be very apparent he had been taken off the Homeless Beat by his superiors. Unhappily, after a few months, Breton was again writing disparaging columns about homeless folk

In today's Bee [3/5/17], Breton has written one of his longest columns. Online, it is titled "The price downtown Sacramento is paying for Mayor Steinberg’s homeless crusade
Read more here: It goes on for days. The message, essentially, is this: Homeless people poop; they're getting a great deal of what they want from the overmuch-helpful mayor; and business people proximate to Chavez Park are made miserable by the forever-disgusting homeless that are there in great number.

O.K. Let's get into all this a bit. Except in Breton's mind, homeless pe…

The first-person dimension of homeless Sacramentans suffering from Schizophrenia

"Disabilities and dysfunction process from having been shunned and denied access to needed opportunitites and networks of support."
~ the brothers Lysaker in Schizophrenia and the Fate of the Self What is schizophrenia? How many are homeless Sacramentans?

Perhaps 15% of the Sacramento homeless population suffers from schizophrenia. The percentage is difficult to determine for many reasons that branch from both the fuzzy definition of the malady and that many people within the homeless community who have the illness (1) are in denial and are undiagnosed and (2) have the illness as a diagnosis only – the disability can be faked by people who are successful claimants of social security and other benefits.

What is schizophrenia? One webspace gives us this definition: The most chronic and disabling of the severe mental disorders. Typically develops in the late teens or early twenties. The overt symptoms are hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing visions), delusions (false beliefs ab…

Homelessness and Remembrance

This is a follow-up on the matter of remembering homeless people who have died and the Wall that Libby Fernandez wants to build in remembrance of the deceased. [See earlier blogpost "Tell Libby NOT to build her wall."]

This blogpost is prompted by a Philosophy Bites podcast released in the last couple days -- titled "C├ęcile Fabre on Remembrance." Fabre's take on why we honor or grieve for certain individuals or certain collections of individuals is not greatly helpful -- since his focus is mainly one of fallen war heroes and war casualties -- but it does open up the issue of why should there be a remembrance effort for deceased homeless people at all. Who is served by it? And has the effort been perverted by the avarice of charities in their insatiable drive for donations.

It is, for starters, a curious thing for "homeless people" to be a collective that is honored. I write that NOT because I don't want the best for homeless people. But, homelessn…