28 December 2009

The Worst Best Gift Ever

Now that Christmas is gone many of us look through our stack of gifts and can't help but have a favorite. I received some cool stuff this year, including an electric coffee cup, which is pretty cool considering how much time I spend on the road drinking cold coffee. Those days are over forever. Another great gift...cash money. I love cash money. It has a way of just making me feel all happy inside. The best gift this year, however, had to be the Itunes gift cards. These puppies are invaluable to me. I can't put into words what it's like to open an envelope and see the glorious, bold Itunes logo on a gift card. Over the past couple years I have become quite a fan of buying movies, music, and TV shows through Itunes. I spend more time than I'd like to admit shopping through the Itunes online store picking out my next big purchase knowing Christmas was coming and there was a good chance I would get another batch of these little chunks of plastic heaven. I already had my next big purchase planned. It was Chuck season two, arguably the best show on TV. So the first thing I did when I saw my gift cards was to unpack my not-so-portable computer, hook it up to the internet, and start down loading. I downloaded most of the night away, spending the gift cards in a matter of a few minutes. As soon as an episode was complete I started watching...and watching...and watching...and watching. I watched every episode in three days time. Three days! How insane! Sitting on the tale end of a TV show marathon binge and feeling the withdrawal affects I can safely say that was the worst way to spend three days. Now my mind can't get focused. I can't think in reality, only in fiction. My mind is so overwhelmed with thoughts of 22 episodes of pure entertainment bliss. My productivity is non existent. I sit in my world of withdrawal now knowing that the best Christmas gift made for the worst productive three days of my life. Although I am grateful for the gift, I think I could use a good class/seminar/rehab on moderation and self control. Just when I think I have it all together worst best gift ever!

What was your best gift? Have you ever received a gift that has completely kept you preoccupied for hours, days, or even weeks?

27 December 2009

Looking for Input

Recently I have been looking into how to blog better. There seem to be many schools of thought on this topic and I'm not quite sure which approach to follow. I would like to solicit your help. Let me know what you think about the blog. Don't be shy, tell me your thoughts, tell me what you like or dislike (be honest, I can take it) and tell me what you think would help improve Finding God In America. Is there something specific anything that you've seen or know works well? I will also be making some changes soon to the Right Side Up Ministries site. I know the importance the internet plays in our lives today and I am looking to use this medium to spread the message of Gods love. I look forward to hearing from you.

22 December 2009

Christmas, Xmas, Happy Holidays?

MERRY CHRISTMAS! After all, it is that time of year. It's that time of year when children can't sleep in anticipation, when eggnog actually has sales revenues, and when the church and the world battle over who owns the rights to Christmas. Should it be Christmas, Xmas, Happy Holidays, or some other classy spin on words. With this argument at it's peek over the last couple weeks I couldn't help but put together my own opinion about all this banter. I sat around attempting to put my thoughts down when another "Radical Realization" hit me, I have no idea what I think!

I have no idea what I think about this topic. In one sense I VERY much know it is about Christ, but in another I don't really know what I should hold a non-believing world accountable to. Should I expect someone who has not experienced Christ in the same way I have to walk out their beliefs the same way I do? In all reality, can I even expect another person who has experienced Christ like I have to walk their life out the same way I do? I think the answer is no. I do see a huge importance on Christ followers to emphasize Christ in their Christmas, but can I judge someone else for not doing it? Let's not forget that Christmas is about giving. It's about the greatest Gift that God ever gave, Jesus! And in this giving, we were taught to give things to others, specifically love. So in the season of giving love let's not forget that love is not only given in a wrapped up gift under a tree. It is also given in a kind act to others, or in a warm smile, or in a hug, or in a simple hello. It is also given in accepting others where they are. Not everyone knows Jesus, so not everyone can be expected to have Christmas be about Jesus.

I don't think anything has irritated me more this Christmas season than the idea of listing stores Christians should shop at by how CHRISTmas they are. Judging on such standards as to whether or not the cashier says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays", whether there are nativity scenes or Santa with his reindeer, whether the Christmas music is a hymn or a catchy Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer rendition. I once owned a business and I chose to have an emphasis on Christ in my business, but not all companies do, and not all companies are owned by Christians. To be honest I would be disturbed if I walked into a Family Christian Store and was told "Happy Holidays" while surrounded by a jolly fat St. Nick and his reindeer, but not if I'm at Sears or Old Navy. So our loving Christian way is to boycott these pagan establishments at all cost? I don't think that I can do that and I don't think you should either. The Bible tells us to let our light shine in this world, so let it shine right in the middle of a shrine to Santa. Let your love for Christ shine by being a blessing to these establishments. Stop giving the non-Christian world a reason to hate Christians. Love people where they are. Support the unloved this Christmas holiday, and by all means boldy reply to "Happy Holidays" with "Merry Chrismas". Let the light of Christ into the darkness of the world around us. Support our economy and buy where the experts are, not necessarily where the Christians are.

Shouldn't we hold people accountable to what they profess in THEIR lives, not what we profess in OUR lives? Shouldn't we take Christ to the lost world and not just cuddle our beliefs amoungst other believers? What are your thoughts on Christmas and where to shop? Is it Christ like to shop at a non-Christian business? Why or why not?

27 November 2009

A Radical Realization!

A radical realization hit me this week. I have no home. I know I have been on the road for almost six months. I know I haven't had a "home" as we know it. What I never really thought about is that I truly have no place that I could stay without outstaying my welcome. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bash on all the wonderful people that I have stayed with, but let's face it, it can get old having someone hanging around too long. I'm currently in Gulfport, MS, the place I call home. This is where my home church is, Family Worship Center, and where my ministry PO Box is. My bank is here, along with an incredible circle of friends. So all in all, this is home! But then again, is it?

I recently came into town for the Thanksgiving holiday and to get some much needed R&R from nearly six months of non stop travel. It occurred to me the other day that the house I'm staying in isn't my house, this isn't my water, this isn't my electricity, and this isn't my internet connection. Then it occurred to me that no matter how much I might consider Gulfport "home", I don't have a real home of my own. At some point, no matter how gracious our heart is, it does get old having somebody there who doesn't live there. Nothing has been said, or even implied, just a realization on my part. I don't think I have ever looked at life this way before, completely homeless in the most literal of terms.

My parents moved out of their house and into a travel trailer for their retirement years. My sister in Michigan lives in an apartment that doesn't allow dogs, my brother lives in a small apartment in Indianapolis, and my other sister lives in a small house in Texas with a husband, daughter, and two cats. This means no extended place to live. The initial thought of this revelation sent me into a moment of panic, but I was quickly reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air [have] nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay [His] head." Suddenly I realized this is me, and if I truly have no "home" while on this mission that God has me on that I'm in pretty good company. Jesus Himself had no permanent home after His ministry started. There are worse people to be lumped into a category with.

So, what I conclude from this radical realization, revelation, epiphany, or whatever label you might put on it, is that being "homeless" really isn't so bad when your in the middle of God's will for your life. I know not everyone is called to this lifestyle, but I am, and the more time I spend with God the more I am starting to like it. God is good and He does take care of every need that I have, whether it be food, gas, clothing, or a place to stay, He's got my back. The saddest part of this realization for me is their are millions in the U.S. without a "home", but unlike me, it is not a choice. For them there is no place to have to worry about overstaying their welcome. There is no place to stay warm or eat a hot meal. There are people everywhere that literally have no place to lay their head, or a place to call "home". I challenge to every person that reads this is to look for a way that you can be a blessing to those in your community this holiday season. Look for a way that you can help those who have no "home". Stop complaining about the problem and help be a part of the solution. Love people right where they are. The reason they are their isn't important. What is important is what are you willing to do to help. Love truly is contagious, pass it on!

P.S. to anyone whom I may have overstayed my welcome, I am very sorry! I will work harder in the future to stay within my limits. I am grateful for and love every person and family that has welcomed me into their homes. I couldn't have done what I have without them.

So what are your thoughts? Can someone outstay their welcome? Have you ever outstayed your welcome? Have you ever had a friend or family member outstay their welcome with you? What can you do to help someone in need have a happier holiday season? How can you pass God's love on?

03 November 2009

We're Not Called To Be Comfortable

In this journey of faith I have been in many, many situations outside my comfort zone. Everything from helping in local missions to ministering to people on the streets of Indianapolis to praying with home owners devastated by flooding near Atlanta. Everywhere I go it becomes the same "freak out" story. Every time I find myself in the middle of a new level of uncomfortable. Why would I expect anything different on Nov. 1st.

November 1st was a day that I had been planning for well over a month. It was an outreach at the Atlanta Pride Festival put on by Craig Gross and Jason Harper in connection to their new book "Jesus Loves You This I Know". The premise of the book and the outreach was to let people know that Jesus loves them right where they are. Our mission seemed simple enough, show Jesus love to those involved in a gay pride parade. We met on Friday night, talked, prayed, and labeled bottles of water with the simple message "Jesus Loves You This I Know." We left the meeting with a location and time to meet on Sunday afternoon. As I drove back to Hiram, GA where I was staying I found myself battling fear and doubt. Some might say that was God telling me I was doing the wrong thing, but I know His voice enough to know it wasn't Him. Over the weekend I thought more and more about the upcoming event and I felt more and more uncomfortable. What was really in store for me?

As I drove into Atlanta I was flooded with many different emotions. I had an urge to turn around and forget the whole thing. My thoughts were racing. Would people reject us, would they get angry with us, would they attack us verbally or maybe even physically? These questions were all running through my mind as I made my way through Atlanta traffic. My expectations were leaning toward the worst possible outcome. These expectations couldn't have been further from the truth.

As I walked through the crowds of people I couldn't help but notice the real reason for the parade. It is a deep rooted need to be loved and accepted. People have this need no matter where they are in life. As I handed out bottles of water I could see the effects of the love message. People were open to what the bottle said and open to talk with us about our mission. One encounter stands out more than the rest, it was Grace. She came flying over to us yelling, "I want one! I want one!" When she got to us she grabbed a bottle, read the label, and said "wow, the two most important things in life, water and Jesus!" and ran back to her group. This encounter stuck with me. It set me back a few steps. I had always assumed that people involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle were completely closed off to the message of Jesus. It was a shock for me to find out otherwise. I know there are "gay" churches out there, but it always seemed to me that they were open to there circle, not mine. It amazed me the gap that love was able to bridge.

This is the point were I feel I must make a few statements to clarify. I cannot, in good conscience, say that I agree with the gay and lesbian lifestyle, nor do I believe it is a God honoring lifestyle. I do, however love those in the gay and lesbian lifestyle without prejudice or judgment. With that said, I do believe that Jesus loves the gay and lesbian community as much as He loves me. If that isn't true then it must be possible to earn a right to be loved by God, yet the scripture says otherwise. "God so loved the world..."(John 3:16) and "While we were still sinners"(Rom. 5:8) would mean nothing if I had to be in right standing to accept Jesus. I also believe that we can go to God just as we are, sinful, filthy, and broken and let Him cleanse us. I know in my life, if I were held to absolute perfection I would fail... every time! I absolutely believe that when we accept Christ that we are held to God's standard for our lives. He does hold us accountable for whether we followed His Word or not. I also know we are a work in progress. God works on different things at different times in all of us. It is not my job to clean my life up before I go to Jesus any more than it is the clothes job to clean up before they go into the washing machine. Just as the washing machine cleans the clothes, God cleans us through His Son Jesus.

We want to classify sin in our society. We want to believe that some sin is worse than others, but God puts such of sin in one category. (1Co 6:9-11)“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”- There are a bunch of sins listed with homosexuality that I am guilty of, so why would I, or should I, feel the need to condemn others? I am forgiven when I turn to Jesus and so will those in the gay and lesbian lifestyle. I'm not saying we should tolerate everything that people do. I am saying that we should tolerate people no matter what they do and let God clean them up in His time. We should always walk in love... after all "Love never fails..." 1Co 13:8

If your always comfortable in what you are doing for God then are you really doing what God wants you to do or what you want to do? We were never promised comfort by following Jesus, but we were promised that no matter what we did that He would be right there with us. Be challenged today to reach outside your comfort zone to show the love of Jesus with others.

25 October 2009

Flood Victims Deal With More Than Just a Flood

As many of you know, I have been in the Atlanta area helping with the flood relief efforts. I can't believe how devastating this flood has been for so many. The statistics that I have heard are that in Austell, GA nearly 50% of the residence can no longer live in their homes. That is astounding! Another statistic that I heard was that less than 10% of those affected had flood insurance. That leaves a whole lot of people that lost everything, or most everything with little hope for rebuilding any time soon. FEMA has pulled out, along with many other organizations, which leaves people even more hopeless. People are hurt and afraid and are very concerned about what lies ahead.

Meet Janice! We went to her house last week to clean up the drywall edges and spray for mold. It was an easy job because they only had a foot or two of water on the first floor. In a very short time we were finished and standing at the front door to talk and pray with Janice before we left. As soon as Alex, our team lead, mentioned Chaplains that were available to council, she began to cry. As our team ministered to her she wept and wept. All we could do was tell her that we loved her and that God loved her and it was going to be OK. We asked her how we could specifically pray for her. She told us that just two weeks before the flood she had buried her brother. She had twin sons who were both in Europe awaiting deployment to Irag. Her one son's wife filed for divorce the day he arrived in Germany and Janice is now taking care of two of her grandchildren. Now comes the flood and they lost everything on the first floor of their house, they had no flood insurance. As she spoke I choked back tears as my heart was broken for this woman and her situation. We talked to her for about ten minutes and prayed for her, gave her a Bible and walked away. There was nothing more we could do.

This is just one story of the dozens that I have heard since I've been here. Janice and her husband only had the first floor damaged. They could still live in their house. As I drove away I started to think, "What about all the other people who lost everything? What are they going to do?" My heart began to break even more. That night, in a large group setting with other volunteers, I told Janice's story. This time I couldn't choke back the tears. It is so hard to see this first hand and not have it effect you emotionally. People are hurting so bad and their seems like so little we can to, but our God is bigger than this. Our God has empowered us to bring hope to the hurting and that is what I am doing. Janice is one of many people who I have been able to be a part of giving hope to. There are many, many more just like her. We can't forget that these people's lives cannot be put on hold because of this. They must keep living and with that, things still happen in their lives. Amongst the everyday situations and happening they have the flood to deal with. The situation on TV may look small, but it is everything to those affected by it.

I know at some point I have to leave here. I don't want to, my heart doesn't want to. My goal is to stay another two weeks in this area. This would put me at almost a month here. With staying another two weeks comes a big cost. I am asking that you prayerfully consider helping financially with this effort. All money raised will go directly to flood relief expenses, as well as giving what I can to help others continue the work here. It is a difficult road ahead for many, but I know that together we can help ease some of the stress and give hope to the hopeless. Please stand in prayer with me as I not only help people rebuild their homes, but also rebuild their lives. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, I wouldn't be here without them.

If you would like to give financially please visit RightSideUpMinistries.org to find out how you can give a tax deductible gift.

11 October 2009

Absolute Truth as I Know It!

I was thinking about something the other day while I was looking ahead to my coming birthday. Have you ever heard anyone say "I refuse to turn 40," or "I will forever be 28"? We have all heard someone say something like this, but we know it's not true. It can't happen. The thought of us staying forever any age, or refusing to turn a certain age is ridiculous. No matter how many times we may think or say these things it doesn't make them true. No matter what we say or do we are still getting older and older every day. Why do I bring this up? To show that there is such a thing as absolute truth. No matter how much we want to say truth is subject to our own interpretation or belief system, there is such a thing as absolute truth and this proves it.

We are surrounded by absolute truths everyday. Here's some examples I've seen in my life. 1) Look at the law of gravity, what goes up must come down, if I jump off a building I will hit the ground. And depending on how high I jump from, it will probably be a pretty hard hit. 2) Every day I look in the mirror and say, "Go away gray hairs, your not wanted here," yet every so often I notice a substantial increase in gray hair. 3) Morning comes everyday and with it comes the sun. We can't change it no matter how many times we confess we are not morning people. 4) No matter how much easier it is to say, "funner" is not a word. It is either "fun" or it is "more fun", but it cannot and never will be "funner". These are some things that can't be changed no matter what we say, think or do. Much like wanting fast food to actually be fast, or wanting people in the express lane at the grocery store to actually have less than 15 items. How about customer service being about the customer? I could go on and on, but I'll spare you the rant for now.

My point in this is that as a believer in Jesus Christ it is my obligation- my mandate, to tell people about Him. Many people tell me that "what is true to you isn't necessarily true for me." How can that be? Either Jesus is Lord or He isn't. There is no in between. I started to get really angry by this response. So much so that I started to wonder if I really could "forget I'm a Christian for the moment," then I could "take matters into my own hands" and take care of some business. As much as I would like to I can't. I can't for two main reasons. 1) I am a wuss! I can't fight my way out of a wet paper sack, never could. I would get my butt handed to me the first time I tried to "take matters into my own hands." 2) It wouldn't do any good to "forget" I was a Christian, because absolute truth prevails, I am one! I'm caught in my own argument. Pretending to forget doesn't change the truth. Rather than resort to any crazy hypocritical tactics I decided to come up with a great analogy to convince others of absolute truths. After all, nothing beats a great analogy!

So I decided that I would approach this from two angles. 1) I tell people that they don't need to believe something is true for it to be true. You don't have to believe that the air we breathe is produced by trees from the air we exhale, which they inhale, then exhale our air, in order to make it true. It's true whether we believe it or not. How cool is that? God made it so our waste was another's essential who's waste becomes our essential again. All I can say is sweet! 2) I also tell people they don't need to see something to know it is there. Many people like to use the brain as an example, but I have a hard time believing I even have one some times. Man can I do stupid stuff...anyway! So an example I like to use is the sun. An absolute truth I mentioned earlier is that the sun comes up everyday. It does, right? How do we know? Because we can see it. What about a cloudy day? I can't see the sun anymore, does this mean it didn't come up today? Or better yet, what about in Alaska where the sun doesn't come up for days, or even weeks in the winter time, does that mean it exploded and doesn't exist anymore? We know the answer is no, the sun didn't stay down, nor did it explode. The sun exploding and us still being alive is a ridiculous thought because if the sun did explode it would be like -2,000 degrees and we probably wouldn't survive that temperature drop. Well, maybe you would, or Rambo, or Mr. T, but not me. Right now I'm struggling with the low 40's at night, like I said, I'm a wuss!

Again you might be saying, "WHAT'S THE POINT?" The point is this, I don't need to see God to know that He exists. I don't have to doubt if He is there or not, even in the hardest times or the biggest storms. Why? Well, it's just like the sun. I have seen it enough in my life to know it is there whether it's covered by clouds or not. The same is true with God, I know He's there whether my life is covered with clouds or not. My moment of salvation, my born again experience, my moment of faith in Christ, the very second I became a new creation I experienced enough of God to last my life time. If that was the only time I saw Him in my life it would be enough. If He never made Himself known to me again like that I would know that He was there. Have you ever had a sun burn, I mean a real bad one? You know, the kind that blisters bubble up and pop and your skin peels a gagillion layers? I have, and I can tell you that I will never doubt the sun again because of that. You will never be able to convince me there is no sun because I've felt the power of it. You will never convince me that there is no God and no Jesus because I have felt the power. I have been brought up out of hell in my life and brought to a new level. It's an act only God could have performed. Because of this I know that God is an absolute truth.

Another absolute truth I know is that Jesus loves you. I don't care where you've been in your life, where you might currently be, or how many horrible things you have done in your life, He still loves you. I said it before and still believe it to be 100% true, Jesus loves you more that He despises your sin! The Bible tells us that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God- ABSOLUTE TRUTH! If your struggling with this God thing it's OK. God isn't going to leave you because your struggling with Him. In fact, I would dare say that He may be using this blog to tell you something right now, HE LOVES YOU! So if you've been thinking about this absolute truth thing like I have I hope this helps. If you have it down, well, I apologize, this is all I have for now. This is absolute truth as I know it.

06 October 2009

Atlant Needs Our Help

On October 12th I am leaving Kalamazoo, MI and heading to Atlanta, GA to help in the flood relief efforts. I am raising money for the trip and to give to the church that is organizing the relief efforts. I am raising $2,000 for the trip, $1,000 to cover the ministry and my expenses for 2-3 weeks and $1,000 to give to the church. If you are interested in helping in this effort please go to www.rightsideupministries.org for more info. You can also see what is happening at www.hopeatl.com. If you are unable to help financially please pray for Right Side Up Ministries and the people of Atlanta. Thank you for your support.

03 October 2009

Why Change?

Being in my home town has its advantages. The biggest one is that I know where to go and what there is to do. A few days ago I went to a park that I have been going to for years. It was a beautiful, sunny day outside and I thought it would be nice to go outside to read. When I arrived at the park I walked around for a while then headed to my favorite reading bench. It sits in the main part of the park on a little island in the creek that runs through the park. When I came around the bend I saw that it was occupied. My heart sank. What was I to do? I can't just change reading benches! can I?

At this moment I realized something, I don't like change. I'm a traditional guy. If it works, why fix it. Let me give you some examples- this very park use to have this awesome triple decker rocket ship to play on- it's now gone- I don't like that. The old Tiger stadium was replaced by a new and more luxurious Comerica Park- I don't like that. Baseball changed the pennant race to a two round play off system complete with wild card teams- I don't like that. Hockey changed rules to protect the goalie and took away the two line pass- I don't like that. My favorite coffee shop that I have been going to for over a decade is still in business and still brews amazing coffee- I do like that. The bench I like to read in the park is still here after decades- I really like that. You see, I love when things stay the same and I resist change. I understand the need for change, but I still don't like it.

Here's what I understand about change. The park people took the rocket ship out to build newer and safer stuff for the kids to play on. The Tigers built a new stadium with hopes of generating more money and bringing more people to the games. Baseball changed the pennant race to accommodate an expanding league and to generate more post season income for playoff teams. Hockey changed its rules to protect players and to help speed up the excitement of the game. Change makes sense in my head, but my heart doesn't like it. Our society is constantly saying "out with the old, in with the new". We live in a time when the quickest to change is the one who stands to make the most money. It seems we can't change fast enough.

Ironically, I feel completely the opposite when it comes to the church. I am drawn to churches that break away from tradition and start something new. I love ministries that think outside the box and reach people where they are. When we talk about church traditions I cringe. I am reminded of the scripture where Jesus says that our traditions, the traditions of men, make the Word of God powerless. It saddens me to see churches put more emphasis on tradition than they do in the love of Christ. Churches that once had thriving congregations are now reduced to a mere shadow of their former existence. All because of a refusal to change with the times. There is this strong misconception that if you change with the times you have to change your message or water down the Gospel. This couldn't be further from the truth. I recently heard a pastor say that you need to keep the same message, but change the package. It's like you changing your wardrobe to fit the current style, but you on the inside are still the same. I believe this is true for the church. In our lightning fast society that is ever pushing the speed envelope with faster food, faster computers, faster internet, and faster ways to shop. With these constant changes in our society, it is increasingly important for the church to change as well.

Have you ever seen a cereal box from the 1950's? Compare it to the same cereal box today and you'll see a radically transformed package that fits today's advertising trends with the same product on the inside. The Bible is as relevant today as it ever has been, but if we don't change the packaging we aren't going to be effective in today's society. People need the Gospel of Jesus. They need us to reach out to them in a way that speaks to them. At one time "turn and burn" may have had some results, but love always prevails. Showing people guilt through sin may have worked in days past, but today people need to know that Jesus loves them more than He despises their sin. I once read a witnessing survey that asked this question:

What do people need most today?

a) time

b) money

c) love

d) other

It amazed me to hear peoples responses. Money and time easily topped the opinion poll. The fact is that money, time, or whatever else people are focused on are things they use to fill the hole that love should fill. They are only surface issues that point to a deeper root problem. Just like trying to get rid of weeds in your lawn, if you only deal with the surface issue and pull the weed then it will grow back every time. If you go after the root of the weed you can stop the weed from returning. If we want to see change in our society and in our world we need to get to the root of people's problems. We need to show people what is really missing in their life. I know Christianity has done some stupid stuff in the past in the name of God, and I'm sorry for that. If you have been hurt by a Christian who wasn't walking in love I apologize. Jesus told us what the greatest commandments are- love God- love others. Do you see the common word between the two? It's love. If Christians live those two commandments to a radical extent I believe we will see results that far out weigh what any law can do.

What it comes down to in the end is this- if the church doesn't change its packaging and it doesn't love people where they are it will fade out. A church can change its packaging, but if it does it for any reason other than love it still fails. Be challenged today to show radical love to those around you. Step outside your comfort zone and love the unlovable. Give those without hope a reason to be. This is what I thought about today when my reading bench was occupied.

How do you feel about change? Does change scare the bejeezies out of you too?

Oh yeah! I ended up getting the bench and reading my book. What an awesome day!

24 September 2009

Why Don't I Just Quit?

Have you ever had a day where you just felt like giving up? I have...today actually! 'Why don't I just Quit?" That is what went through my mind. Today is the second time in as many weeks that I have thought about quitting. It is insane to me that I even entertain the idea. What else am I going to do? Where would I go? If I did quit I would merely be running from God, from His will. I am reminded of Ps. 139:7-8 "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence. If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there." As you can see, running really isn't an option for me.

I am continually irritated with myself at how low my struggle threshold is. I hit a bump in the road and I want to quit. I turn into a head wind and want to pull over and wait. I drive into the rain and want to pull under an overpass and call it a day. The truth is that I have nothing to complain about. I was reminded today at what the disciples went through back in the day. They were persecuted at every turn. Somebody always wanted to throw them in prison, beat them, and kill them. Nobody has wanted to kill me yet. If they have they haven't told me about it. I look at Paul and I see a bunch of issues- "Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—" 2Cor 11:23-27

In case you didn't catch it the first time, read those passages again. At my current pace, I would have given up with one shipwreck, or one time being beaten. Or worse yet, I would have given up with the mere threat of any of the above. When I get into moods like this I just have to remind myself that I haven't seen anything yet! Don't get me wrong, I don't want to quit, I just think about it from time to time.

What it comes down to in the end is that I can either do what God has called me to do or I can run from Him. The problem with running? Psalm 139- I can't go anywhere without God being there. I can't escape Him, and in all reality, I don't want to. Been there, done that. Years of running led to years of pain and agony. Then I look at Paul and I think- don't want that either. It is a catch 22 of sorts. At least it is in my mind.

All this runs through my head, then I meet a guy like Corky. I was walking my dog Kali and he turned to try to pet her. She is timid, so that didn't go so well. I went to walk on when I heard God's Spirit speak to me and say "talk", so I did. In less than five minutes he opened up his life to me, all his ailments and all his problems. Five minutes, that's it! We walked only one city block. When we got to the end of the block I realized we were going separate ways, so I stopped him and asked if I could pray with him. He said yes, absolutely! I told Him that doctors may not be able to help, but God can. We prayed and he went on his way. As I walked back to the apartment I realized one important thing, I can't quit! I won't quit! It's just not in me to quit. Why not? Corky, that's why I won't quit!

Have you ever quit? Have you ever wanted to quit? How did you keep yourself from giving up? Do you have a secret to success in this area that we could all learn from?

23 September 2009

Meet Billy

I went out today and walked the streets of Indianapolis with my dog, Kali. She loves to go for walks while we are in Indy. While I was out walking I prayed for opportunities to be a blessing. Yesterday I had seen this homeless man sitting along a fence. I had a strong pull inside to stop and talk to him, but didn't. Today I told God that if I saw him again I would be obedient this time. I've said that a hundred times and maybe three times I have had a second chance. Today was a second chance day. As I walked down the street I was praying about who to reach out to. I asked God to show me who needed His love today. I turned the corner and guess who was there again today? Yup, it was the same man. I knew God had something for this man.

I walked over to him and introduced myself. I told him that I wanted to sit and just talk to him for awhile. I never realized until I saw the sparkle in his eyes how nice it is when we just stop and say hi. He introduced himself, his name is Billy. I asked if it was o.k. if I asked him a few questions and he graciously replied "yes you can." So here is how some of the conversation went.

Scott- So, are you from around here?
Billy- Ya, I grew up here.
Scott- So, do you live around here?
Billy- Ya... I live on the streets... I am homeless.
Scott- I don't mean to be nosey, but how did you end up on the streets? Was it a choice, or where you forced into the streets because of circumstances?
Billy- I lost my job, industry left and now I can't find work
Scott- How long have you been on the streets?
Billy- About two years, maybe more...ya, it's been two years.
Scott- Again, I don't want to pry, I just really want to help people, maybe you can help me better understand how to help. Do you ever go to Wheeler?
Billy- Ya, sometimes in the winter. I mostly just stay in the streets though.
Scott- If there was one thing someone could do for you, what would be the most important thing you need right now?
Billy- I just need a place to stay, someplace to sleep every night off the street. I also need money, if you could help me in that arena I would appreciate it.
Scott- I travel around the country and the one thing I think people need most is love. That is what I want to tell you today, that you are loved. Not just by me, but by God. He loves you so much and wants to help you. Because of that, I want to help you.
I don't have much, but what I have is yours.

At this point a smile came across Billy's face. I could see a genuine appreciation for what I was saying.

Billy- Thank you
Scott- Your welcome. Can I pray with you right now.
Billy- Yes, please!

There was much more to the conversation than this. I just wanted to give you a little look into how much you can give without giving the bank. I only gave him two dollars, not much, but it was all I had. Billy's response was "thank you, this is a cup of coffee later on." He said it with a smile and real appreciation.

I don't advise that people go around just giving money to homeless people. I know many times they are just looking to get their next fix, but I will say this, still give. Give food gift cards to fast food restaurants that can't be spent anywhere else or for anything else. Make sure there is easy access for them to the place you are giving the gift card for, otherwise, what kind of blessing is it really? Give gift cards to stores in the area like Walmart, Starbucks, etc. Give cash if you are led to. Don't be afraid to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit on this one.
Most importantly give of your time, communicate and find out what people need. Listen to them and hear what they are saying. Nothing says "love" more than a listening ear. Whatever is on your heart to give, give it with all the love that Jesus has put in you.

Sure, Billy needed way more than two dollars and a fifteen minute conversation, but the fact is I gave out of what I had on hand at the moment. It says in Acts 3:6 "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you:..." Money isn't the only thing Billy needs, he knows that. I would be willing to bet that God is able to give him exactly what he needs, just be a willing vessel and God will fill the need every time.

I encourage you, go out and meet Billy. Not the same Billy that I met, but every town has a Billy. Every town has a guy or girl whose suffered a set back or two. I told Billy that I wanted my actions to speak louder than my words. I don't know if I succeeded today, but I do know that I gave it a shot. You never know unless you try.

The truth is, I can't give Billy much right now. In the future I would love to be able to give him, and others in his situation more. I would love to put Billy up in a nice hotel for a couple days, get him some new clothes and wash his old clothes. I would love to take him to a nice restaurant to eat an expensive, good meal. I would like to help him find a job and a permanent place to live. The truth is, without support from people like you, I can't give anything. I want people to see what it is that this ministry is doing, where our heart is, and how we can make a difference. I want people to buy into the vision, in a literal sense. We can make a difference, one person at a time, but we can't do it without you. Please prayerfully consider helping us financially, or in what ever capacity that you can. We have a list of needs in the right hand column. If there is anything you have on your heart to give to help, please contact us, the info is at the bottom of the page. Lives can be changed one at a time if we will work together to make it happen. Thank you for all that you do to help make this mission possible.

22 September 2009

Love God: and Some Other Thoughts On Love

It's been a long while since my last post. This is mostly due to the lack of internet availability. Although I had found a coffee shop in Hastings, MI that had a computer I could use, I never felt comfortable writing a blog there. I had tried from time to time, but the overwhelming feeling of "over the shoulder" watchers stopped me. I have been thinking about quite a few things lately so I will try to start putting them on the blog this week as I have time. Here goes the first attempt.

Recently I have had the opportunity to speak. Unless you have the same love, it is hard to explain the emptiness ministry can have without it. For many years I have wanted to do nothing more than preach. It has been much more difficult than I had expected to give up regular pulpit time to hit the road. It's almost as if I had to give up a part of me to travel. I know God will use this part of my life more regularly in the future, but for now, it is difficult to give up.

Lately, when I am given the chance to speak, all I can speak about is God's love. I know there are so many other issues in the Bible of importance, but since the revelation hit me that God loves me I can't get away from it. To be honest, I don't think there is a more important Bible topic than God's love. While I have been speaking on this topic I have come to understand that telling of God's love is easy, explaining what God has done to show His love is easy, but what is not easy is telling people how they can practically experience this love they so desperately need. Each person is so unique and special to God that He may commune differently with each person. One day, while giving an illustration, this hit me. I realized that this is one way God has shown me how this love thing works for Him. I wanted to share it here and hope that it helps others better understand how a love relationship is suppose to look and how you too can have this relationship with God.

So many people think that just because God loves them it is enough. That all they need to do is acknowledge His love and move on. People think that because God loves them they can essentially ignore Him and still reap the benefits of that relationship. That couldn't be further from the truth. A love relationship with God is no different than it is with a person. Let me use an example from my own life.

Many years ago there was a girl that I was completely in love with. She was it for me, I knew it, and it was settled forever, as far as I was concerned. I would do anything for this girl. I would buy her flowers, tickets to concerts, dinner at expensive restaurants, you name it, I would do it. If she needed emotional support, I was there. If she needed help, I was there. Whatever she needed I would take care of, even to the point of overextending myself financially. The only problem was that she didn't feel the same. At the end of the day, no matter how much I did, I knew that the relationship was empty. I knew that it was a one sided thing that had no chance of growing into anything more than what it was. I knew that it was doomed to destruction.

I left that relationship broken and empty, feeling hurt and lonely. The funny thing is, it wasn't until years later that I realized that was what I was doing with God all the while. I shut my heart off while He was doing everything He could to show me His love. He was always there, anytime, anyplace, no matter what I needed. I took Him for granted in so many ways and just expected Him to be there when I needed Him. My relationship with God was so much like my relationship with this girl, it was one sided.

The fact that I had been treated this way and I knew how it felt should logically take me to a place where I wouldn't want to do that to anybody else in my life, especially God, right? Wrong! In fact, I found the exact opposite to be true. Instead, I was more eager to hurt others, as if I could in some way hurt this girl by hurting others. I could orchestrate some kind of revenge in life by being this way. I sort of blamed God for where I was. The truth is, it doesn't work that way. You know the best way to deal with someone who has done this to you, love them. This is not because I think God will smite them or heap hot coals on their head by loving them, but rather because they need that love. I have found that when I am most likely to hurt others in this way is when I am hurting on the inside. If I am not feeling adequate or loved, then I would try to make others feel what I was feeling, after all, misery loves company. I found that God was no longer in the picture in my thought life, prayer life, or any other area of my life. I could feel His presence from time to time. I could tell He was wanting to work in my life, but I was shut down to Him and what He wanted. The hurt that I felt inside was only amplified by my lack of love relationship with God.

How do we fix it then? It's not simple, but just like we are willing to pursue those we love and do what it takes to show our love to them , we need to pursue love relationship with God. We need to find ways to build a solid, two way relationship of love with Him. In order to experience God's love to it's fullest potential you need to be actively pursuing a love relationship with Him. Pray, spend time in the Word, and listen for and follow His direction for your life. Lift up daily praise to Him for what He has done and open your heart to be used in any capacity to share this love with others.

So a quick side note, how do we love those that have hurt us? I couldn't love this girl the same way as before without causing more damage in my life. Thank God that there were plenty of opportunities to show love without putting ourselves in any emotional danger. Here are a few things I learned in my life.

First thing is that you need to pray for them. Give them to God so He can fill them with His love. One truth I've learned is that until you let God fill you with His love, you'll never be able to maintain a healthy love relationship with anyone else.

Secondly, always, and I mean always, speak well of them. It only makes sense that you would have good things to say if you really did love them. Don't let yourself be caught in the trap of bad mouthing others. This can be one of the most destructive things you can do, not only for them, but you also. People know when they have done somebody wrong. Think about what it would say to that person if they heard the good things you were saying about them. It would speak volumes to their heart. The Bible tells us to return evil with good. Don't let the enemy convince you that this will make things better.

Thirdly, no matter what, don't judge them. Judgment is one of the worst things we can do to others. It caused our hearts to be hardened and it is just plain hurtful to those being judged. The truth is, we don't know what is really at the root of the problem for them. Judging them is only going to cause more harm. We live in a time of the church where God's judgment is delayed in our lives until we have lived them out. He is waiting to see what we will do. He is waiting to see if we will accept His free gift of love, if we will accept His Son as our Lord and Savior. He is giving us the benefit of the doubt. This is a great time to give others the benefit of the doubt. Let God work His love into their hearts so they can see what real love is.

Finally, forgive them. I think this is the most important step of all. This should be the first step. There is nothing more important for your life than forgiving others. I know it doesn't seem possible some times, but do it in faith. You may say, "You don't know what they did to me?" to which I respond, "Do you know what Jesus did for you?" If we can't forgive it really shows that we don't fully understand what it is that Jesus did for us. The Bible tells us that those that are forgiven much have much to be thankful for. I don't know about you, but I have a BUNCH to be thankful for. How can I possibly hold onto and not forgive others knowing that I have been forgiven of so much. I really believe that unforgiveness is the core root of strife and anger. Forgive and let it go to God. The truth is that He is the only one who could do anything about it anyway.

Does any of this make sense? It did to me when I wrote it. Tell me what you think. Has this ever happened to you? Are there more steps to mending love hurts? Can a love relationship with God really change your life?

05 September 2009

Change Selfish to Selfless

I have some time on my hands tonight so I thought I would write. My friends are in bed. They have three kids, so early to bed, early to rise carries a whole new meaning. My schedule is not compatible, which leaves me with some time to kill before bed. I have had two days in New Haven, CT. I've never been here before, but I like it. It's my kind of town. The home of Yale University and an incredibly diverse population. I came here with one goal- see a long lost friend. Goal accomplished! What I didn't expect was the overwhelming tug on my heart for this area and a desire to find a way to show God's love. You can be sure of this, I will be back.

This was a leg of the trip that I was devoting to me and me alone. After all, I haven't seen them in eleven years. There really is nothing wrong with that. I expected to hang out and catch up. What I didn't expect was that I would end up with an opportunity to minister during my visit. Last night we were walking into an ice cream shop and a guy stopped me to ask for some money. My first thought was to ignore him and move on. After all, that was what I was trained to do. Just don't make eye contact and walk on by. As this thought was going through my mind I was hit by an overwhelming warmth in my heart. The words of an earlier blog entered my head, "Can't Look Away." Before I could walk past the man my heart halted me and I stopped to talk to him. I told him I wasn't going to give him money, but I would gladly buy him some food. He looked confused, either nobody had ever done that before, or food wasn't his purpose. Which ever didn't matter to me. After a long pause he said sure. We found a pizza place, bought some food and a beverage and walked back to the ice cream shop to over indulge in God's greatest gift to mankind, ICE CREAM! Which I did with all the gladness of my heart.

The purpose for this story isn't to pat myself on the back, or to get people to say, "Oh, isn't he doing great things," but instead to show the impact one act of love can have on others. Not only on the man who received the pizza, but on the friend I was with as well. I had just got done giving her a long soap box speech about helping those in need and how the church wasn't doing enough and how we needed to be more sensitive to those in need and yada, yada, yada. Now, not five minutes later I am put on the spot. Sure, it would have been easy to walk past and ignore the man, but I couldn't. I had inadvertently given myself a line of accountability that I now had to live up to. I had no choice but to help. Don't get me wrong, deep in my heart I wanted to help, but I still found myself resorting back to old habits and old prejudices. When it was all said and done, a man ate a meal and a friend saw Jesus' love in action. She commented on how happy the guy was with the food he received and I knew that God just gave me a moment to show a practical demonstration of what it is that I now live for. Sure, if I hadn't done what I did it could have hurt my credibility with my friend, but worse yet, it would have hurt the very God I serve.

The point I'm trying to get across is to be open to God. Let Him take a moment of self gratification (no matter how justifiable) and turn it into a moment for His love to shine. You never know who is watching and learning from you. Your words can only carry you so far, but your actions can carry you over the top. Studies show that kids learn more from what their parents do than they do from what they say. Other people learn from you the same way. The truth is that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. My friend saw Jesus and His love alive. The man we served saw Jesus and His love alive. Once again I learned a valuable lesson about Jesus and bringing His love alive. God doesn't bring crap on us to teach us, but He does work in mysterious ways. The mystery never ceases to amaze me. What more could you want from one moment in God's loving arms. Be courageous, and step out to act on what you believe. Give yourself accountability with others so even in a moment of weakness you can be strong. Jesus loves you and He loves those you come in contact with as well. Let the love of Christ shine in all you say and do.

28 August 2009

Can't Look Away!

We just came in from the New York City Rescue Mission. I like this place for many reasons. One of the biggest is that they are doing something for Jesus. It is exciting to go to new places and do new things, but what excites me more is when you hear two guys in a mission program talking to each other about Jesus. I never really realized what it was that missions did. I know they are all different, but the ones I've been through share one thing in common, Jesus. I haven't had much time to talk to the homeless that we feed at the missions, but I do get to talk to the guys in the programs there. You know these guys are going through some pretty hard times, yet they are happy and smiling because they have learned the truth about who Jesus is and what He did for them. Nothing brings me more joy than having somebody who is on their way up from a life low remind me of what Jesus did. Through the experiences I have had with the missions, God has given me a new heart toward the homeless population in America. I never wanted to see the legitimate side of homelessness, I just wanted to turn away. All of us have a story about a pan handler that has stepped over the line and we always want to climax the story with how we humiliated and rejected them and sent them on their way empty handed. It gives us a sense of pride to tell these triumphant stories of victory. I know, I've done it many times.

Over the past couple years I have been challenged spiritually to take another look at this "king of the mountain" approach to homelessness. God challenged me to find a way to help. I read a book called "Under the Overpass", written by a guy whose name I can't remember. Anyway, it is a book about two guys who decided to live homeless in 5 cities in the U.S. so they could experience life on the streets. I highly recommend this book because it opened my eyes to where the real needs are. It is easy to sit around and complain about what the government is, or is not doing about this. We can talked about welfare reform and food stamp fraud all we want, but it doesn't change the truth. People are going hungry on our streets. The truth is, it's not the governments job to take care of the needy, it's the churches job. Need proof? Read the Gospels and Acts, it's all there! I have been reading the parable of the Good Samaritan almost everyday for the past week and I learned something, my "religion" made has made me cross the street to avoid the real need. My position made me look away and hope someone else would take care of it. I can't do that anymore. I can't just sit around and hope someone else will take care of it. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as He has loved us. Who's our neighbor? The guy laying in the street. Jesus tells us this in Luke 10 when He is talking about the Good Samaritan. I can't look away anymore, and the saddest part is now I can't do enough. I don't think I can do enough to make up for the times I looked away, for the times I mocked and made fun of people in need. Zacchaeus promised to pay back four times what he had taken and I'm not able to break even. It would take too many years to pay it all back. This is where we can only rely on the unending mercy of God and look to the cross and the blood of Jesus. Without that the guilt would be unbearable.

My life is now devoted to doing what I can and nothing less. If I can do it, I will! It breaks my heart to see people in such need and hear people in the church comment or snub their nose. If Jesus where here today He wouldn't be in our churches preaching to capacity crowds. He would be in the streets, in the bars, at the Vegas strip. He would be reaching out to the lost, hurting, dying, sinful people that we can so easily look past as we walk down the street. Many of them need someone to believe in them, someone to love them and spend time with them. How do I know this? because I needed it once. Not because I was homeless, hungry or abandoned, but because without Jesus I was no better off. Don't forget where you came from. Lost and dying in the streets of New York is no different than lost and dying in the richest of houses in L.A. The truth is that without Jesus we are all lost and dying.

*for more info on some of the places I've visited go to Right Side Up Ministries website and click on the News, Events, and Links

24 August 2009

Sit Up, Take Notice, and Act Out!

Today we helped finish up with Project Backpack at the Market Street Mission. We spent a few hours yesterday handing out backpacks to families who can't afford school supplies and spent a few more hours today tagging what was left. It was an experience I won't soon forget. Hundreds of kids have school supplies now that wouldn't have otherwise. It really is a great program.

Today while we were tagging backpacks and eating lunch at the mission I started to think about what it was that I really wanted to accomplish with my journey. I know that the number one accomplishment is to show the love of Christ through action, but today I started to realize that there is more to it than that. We ran into Angel, whom I wrote about in an earlier blog "Reminders" and again she reminded me of something. The biggest thing next to spreading God's love I want to accomplish is to ignite others to become actively involved in a solution. A solution to what? anything. A friend recently wrote, "It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action." I am sure that I heard that quote before, but today it rang differently in my ear.

Today the sound ringing in my ear was the sound of God calling His children to action. For years I only sat up to take notice, but now I can't wait for the next opportunity to take action. Am I special? heck no! Do I have special talents nobody else possess? heck no! I just have a heart to serve Jesus and am learning daily how to step out in faith and trust Him. While talking today with Susan, the woman in charge of the Project Backpack campaign, she told us how ten years ago she became involved with Market Street. It started for her with one person talking about being ordinary and doing something extraordinary. She said she worked in corporate America and decided to leave her job and volunteer with the mission and now look what she is doing for God. Over 800 kids will have school supplies because she decided to be ordinary and do something. I've heard it said that God doesn't call the qualified, but qualifies the called. There are hundreds of organizations around the world that need help. Maybe today is the day that you fill some holes for them. My help is only temporary, but yours may not be. At some point I move on to another town while the need stays. Believe it or not, I am happy when places don't have volunteer positions open because that means the local church is stepping up. Don't get me wrong, helping is what I do, but sometimes the job is better left to those who have a personal stake in what is happening. I encourage you today, if your sitting on the sidelines- stop. Get up and be an ordinary person making an extraordinary difference.

Thank you again to Angel for just being yourself and thank you to everyone at Market Street Mission for doing what you do.

22 August 2009

Excuse Me, Where's the Pulpit?

Today we worked at another mission serving food. The mission is called Market Street Mission in Morristown, NJ. We worked for a couple hours serving food to the men in their rehab program, as well as serving to people in the community. As I was serving I was reminded of something I wrote in my July newsletter and I wanted to share it with you:

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17 NKJV)

I thought about this verse the other day as I was wrapping forks into napkins at a homeless shelter where I volunteered to serve food. I found myself wondering why I was doing that instead of all that I am qualified to do. A part of me wanted to ask, “Excuse me, but where’s the pulpit? I mean, I went to Bible School, I deserve better than this.” Thankfully I realized before it reached that point that it is not about me, it’s about the need. “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;” (Isa 1:19 NKJV) God needs us to not only be obedient, but to be willing to do whatever He needs. It’s only through our willingness and obedience that the love of God will truly shine through to others.

The reason I wanted to share this is because I had some of the same thoughts tonight. It seems as though Satan wants to get me off track by bringing my pride into play. He wants me to continue to think about me instead of others. The whole purpose for my journey is to look for God in everything I do. It is to serve those in need in whatever capacity needed. It doesn’t take long to realize where God is in the 100 or so people we served tonight. He is with them through the toughest moments. He is working in the littlest things, including meals, to touch their hearts and show His love.

Market Street Mission is a place where people with drug and alcohol addiction can come for help. It is a place they can clean up and learn how to stay clean. The people at Market Street also teach them life skills and help them to re-introduce themselves into society as an active citizen instead of a drug addict or alcoholic. They have numerous testimonies of how God has changed their lives and how it wouldn’t have been possible without Market Street Mission.

This brings me to the conclusion of what I am trying to say. The fact is most of the guys in this program have little hope of success without the help of others. Their success rides with those who surround them. Their biggest need right now is to know the love of God. The best way to show this love is through actions. Words will only go so far, it's actions that will stick for them. By doing the little things that many of us think we are above, we can show this love to them. Things like serving food, cleaning dishes, doing laundry, cleaning toilets, or even folding newsletters for the organizations that work with these guys. I’ve heard it said many times in sports that it’s not only the big names that put 'W’s" on the board, but also the everyday grind of the average player. I would consider myself the average player, the guy who has a great day in the game once in awhile, but mostly I have a bunch of average days that in the end add up to making a difference. The most valuable players in baseball are the utility players, the ones who will come in and do whatever is needed, and put their whole heart in it. The ones who want to win. They are the ones that fill the holes of the big names who get injured or need a night off. Without these guys there is no depth to the team. Without these guys a great team will become average.

We may not have the opportunity to play in what we would consider the big game, but we do have the opportunity to play. I was reminded tonight that it is not the size of the act that makes the difference, but the heart that is behind it. I know that most of the people that I have served food to over the past couple months will never get to know me. They will never know my name, or what I do, but one thing they will carry with them is that I did it. I pray that they will know why I do it. I do it because the love of God is shed abroad in my heart. I do it because Jesus died on a cross for all of them as well. I do it because if I didn’t, who would? The need is so great, but so many times I didn’t do it because I was “better” than that, or I was “too well trained” to stoop to that level. I didn't do it because my head got ahead of my heart. My ego took control and wouldn't allow me to. All of these things are lies. All of these reasons amount to nothing in our lives. The truth is that it really isn’t about me, but about the need.

I am reminded of John 13: 1-20. It is the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. The reason He did it was to show them how they were supposed to be. He was a living example to us. In Jesus day that was one of the lowest positions and Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant to all around Him. He did it to show them how to pass on His love. Even in His position, He did it. So it comes down to this, if He can do it, so can I.

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