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.

13 August 2009

Punishing Guilt

Recently I have been reconnecting myself with old friends via the internet, more specifically Facebook. Many of these friends I haven't talked to in years. So many years that it brings a gushing flood of old memories every time I find someone new. The other day I found a friend that I hadn't talked to in at least eight years. This friend wasnt lost because of normal ware and tare of life, but instead because of a falling out of sorts. Once I requested this person as a friend I remembered all the undone, unfinished issues between us. I started to wonder if this would still be an issue or if maybe we could already be past this, as if a statute of limitations had expired. Then I started thinking about how many other friends that I had used and abused in my life and guilt slowly started taking hold of me and escentially it hung me out to dry.

For years I carried the guilt of all the people that I had mistreated and used in life. I would have trouble sleeping at night because of the fear that I had of the reprocussions of my choices. Then one day I met Jesus. Not the TV wimpy Jesus, the one who let everyone push Him around and pick on Him like the nose picking nerd in second grade. Not the Jesus I heard about from so many that would hold everything over my head for all eternity, or the one who was waiting for me to screw up so He could smite me (what does that mean anyway?). But instead I met the strong, loving, forgiving, and full of grace Jesus that the Bible talks about. Through my relationship with Him I learned in 2 Cor 5:17 that all the old junk in my life was gone and all this new stuff came in when I accepted Him as Lord and Savior. Man, what an awesome deal. I accept Him and He takes all my crap from me.

For awhile this took care of the guilt issue, as it should, but after some time I started thinking about it again. I realized that just because I was "born again" and just because I was a "new creation" and old things were gone didn't mean that my mind was brand new. In fact, I learned that I needed to renew my mind (Rom 12:2). I had to change the way I thought about myself and start thinking the way God thinks of me. This process is not easy, but in time I have learned to forget about the past and move toward the future (Phil 3:13). I have to constantly remind myself that Jesus paid the price for everything that I have done. He took it all upon Himself so I could live free. Free of guilt, free of regret, and free of condemnation. He took it all for me.

No matter what we've done God forgives us, but the reality is that people aren't so forgiving. If we have hurt people in our lives there are consequences that we will face. People hold onto pain and hurt much longer than God does. We justify our anger and resentment by telling ourselves we deserve to hold on. We deserve to be mad and upset, and even hurtful. This couldn't be further from the truth. Eventually we need to forgive or it will start to haunt us. I realized that those I had hurt had to come to terms with what had happened, just as I have to when I am hurt. I am not diminishing what I have done in the past, nor am I hiding behind God. I am ready and willing to take whatever consequence may exist, but now I can do it with the peace that I know Jesus gives me. I can stand up and be a man about it and ask forgiveness, knowing that if people won't forgive, Jesus does. Living with guilt and pain from the past may be a reality in your life, but it doesn't need to be. Jesus can take it and He will. Let Him deal with your past, it makes the future a whole lot brighter.

09 August 2009

Acts of Random Kindness

Recently I read an article that started my mind working. It was an article about a family from Georgia that had sold their house, bought an RV, and hit the road. There mission was to do as many Acts of Random Kindness they could get their hands on. They fitly named their trip The ARK Tour. The ARK obviously an acronym for... well, you get the picture. While reading this article I was struck by the courage of this family, six in all, to do what seems to be a completely ludicrous thing. I was also struck by the similarity between what they were doing and what I am doing and I started to wonder, "God, are you working a theme here? This isn't just a coincidence is it?" It's not that I am thinking I can work side by side with this family, or even have an opportunity to meet them face to face. I am thinking, however, that maybe God is working on the hearts of many more Americans to be old school type missionaries in their own country. Think about that... missionaries in the U.S.

I read another article a few years ago about how churches in Africa and Korea are now sending missionaries to the U.S. It talked about how Christians in these parts of the world are seeing the U.S. as one of the biggest mission fields in the world. One pastor even said his heart was so strong for the U.S. because the American churches had had such a strong heart for his country a half a century ago. I am amazed, and to be honest, a little worried that other countries that we have been missionaries to in the past are sending people over here as missionaries to us. I wondered why this was?

After thinking for some time as to why this was I turned the TV on and it all became clear to me. On the news it talked about violence, murders, rapes, child abduction, and natural disaster all in the same half our news program. It started to become more and more real to me that these other countries are hearing the same news and seeing the same horrible stories about cities in the U.S. I started to realize that these people have seen first hand how the Gospel of Jesus Christ has changed their homes and villages and even sometimes their governments. They can testify about the goodness of God from first hand experience and are now seeing same problems here in the U.S. It worries me to see where our country is going. You can't blame it on one president or another, or on this political party or that one. The truth is that as a nation we are turning toward hate and violence at a faster rate than we are toward Jesus Christ and the peace that He offers. I am reminded about the reality of what a people without Jesus can accomplish.

Through all this I have had a renewed desire to take the Gospel to the world. Not the "clean yourself up first" Gospel, but the "come as you are" Gospel. The very same Gospel that Jesus taught when He walked the earth. See, if there is one thing the Old Testament can show us, it is that no matter how many laws you pass, it WILL NOT bring a nation closer to God. The truth is that the only hope we have in this country is Jesus. A changed heart will go a lot further than a changed law. Jesus taught that God looks at the heart and not the actions. The law only deals with the actions and not the heart. To change the heart is to change the actions. The only way to change this nation is to change it's heart, and the only one who can change it's heart, is not a politician, but God Himself. The only way He can do that is if His people get out and do His work. That is a love work, not a hateful and judgemental work. I hope you can see, this is what the missionaries from Africa and Korea see, and what the family from Georgia sees. This is what they are coming here to remind us of. Jesus is the only way to change the heart of America and change the path of destruction we are on. It's time for the church to focus next door. Look to your neighbors and you will find need. Look to your neighborhood and you will find hurt and pain. Many times we really don't need to look any further than our bathroom mirror to find someone who needs help. Let's be love minded and others oriented. Let's show Gods love to those around us. Let's become a society of local missionaries serving local people.

Not everone is called to do what I have done, or what the Georgia family has done, but we are all called to do something. That something is to take the Gospel to the world. But before we can do that, we need to understand the Gospel in our own lives. To do that we need more time in the Bible, more time in prayer, and more time in a community of believer (local church). Let God to a work in your heart so you can do a work from God's heart.

If you would like to learn more about the family mentioned in this blog you can visit their website:

06 August 2009


Yesterday I met Angel. She works as a waitress at the pizza place we stopped to eat at for lunch. Being the quiet guy that I am, I didn't start a conversation with her (which is what I am working hard to change). Instead, she started a conversation with us. It didn't take long to find out where Angels heart was, she was a Jesus freak! We only had a short conversation, but I can honestly say that I wish we had more time. She shared with me her frustration with religion, legalism, and a church of condemnation. She shared her passion for the truth and her love for Jesus. I couldn't have agreed with her more and in the short time I had with her I was reminded why I started out on this trip.

In our conversation I was reminded that it wasn't about painting an apartment (which is what I am doing this week), or about going to a week of church meetings, and it sure as heck wasn't about me. Man can I get focused on me quick. It's a weakness, really, but one that I am sure many of us have. Here I am saying that I am out to seek out ways to help others and get closer to God, yet at the first opportunity I start thinking about non other than ME! I was reminded that Right Side Up Ministries isn't about me, this blog isn't about me, and most of all, my life isn't about me. I am amazed at how God communicates with me. I knew as soon as Angel started talking to me that God was using her to remind me of my purpose for this journey. I know so many people who say they never hear from God, but in response I would ask, are you listening? It could have been so easy for me to ignore this God ordained appointment and just look at it from a natural standpoint. In the natural it was just a meeting of like minded Christians enjoying conversation, but to God it was a teaching moment. It was a moment for God to get through to me and remind me that my mission is to take the Gospel of Jesus to the lost and dying world around me through whatever avenues open up. It was God telling me again that people need to know that grace out performs sin any day of the week if we let Jesus have our lives. It was a reminder to tell people that Jesus loves them, no matter what they have done or have gone through. It was a reminder that Jesus was beaten, died on a cross, was buried, and rose again to pay the bounty that is out on the heads of all mankind. It was a reminder that no matter what happens love will ALWAYS prevail. God's love will ALWAYS prevail. It was a reminder that I am no more worthy of a savior than the worst sinner known to man, yet He loves me enough to give me a way back to Him, and if He loves me enough, then He loves you enough. It was a reminder that Jesus loves you and wants to be a part of your life and it's as simple as asking Him. These are some of the things this conversation reminded about.

These are the things that a ten minute conversation with Angel reminded me of. I hope sharing this with you may remind you of some things also. Thank you Angel for being a vessel that God could communicate with me through. I have to say that God named you fittingly!

04 August 2009


I was reading some blogs the other day and I found myself aggravated about a point of view that differed from my own. It bothers me when I am easily frustrated by an opposing point of view. It doesn't make sense that an idea can open an emotional worm hole that sends me into a fit of internal rage. Most of the time it is a political issue, and occasionally it has something to do with religious beliefs. I thought I would take a moment to vent about it if that's OK?

I wouldn't consider myself a Republican, or a democrat. I guess you could say that I am a moderate, politically speaking. This brings various difficulties, especially when you consider the line of work that I do(ministry, for those who don't know). So my dilemma is in how to balance my faith and relationships with my beliefs and political views. I find myself getting frustrated with people who are adamantly opposed to President Obama and the decisions he makes. On the other side, I find myself getting equally as frustrated with those who adamantly support him. My dilemma isn't with opposing views, but more with the reason for those views. It's one thing to have an informed and thought out view on a topic. It's something completely different to have the a view based on what an article says or what somebody else thinks. I think my biggest problem is with those who don't take the time to read, consider, and learn both sides of an important issue before voicing an opinion. I know we may have good intentions with our
sporadic and emotional response to things we read about, but the truth is that most often we don't take time to research what we are hearing before we take a stand against it. This is a dangerous way to live our lives. I'll use myself as an example: One of my goals is to find an issue I believe strongly in and take part in a protest supporting that issue. I want to experience what it is like to protest. I don't want to pick some little issue or something I don't know much about, but something that I know about and feel strongly toward. People tell me that I should just pick an issue and go protest it. What's the point in that? The truth is that I very well could end up in jail if the protest were to get out of hand. Who wants to go to jail for protesting? Not me, especially if it's not even an issue that I feel strongly about. So why is it that many times we are willing to take a stand for something when we don't know all that is involved, and in doing so put our relationships with friends and family at stake?

I had a kid in my youth group in Mississippi that would argue something with so much energy and compassion and later find out that what he was arguing about wasn't even the truth. How rediculous is that? I'm telling you, he would bet his own life that he was right only to find out he wasn't. I'm not saying that we don't know anything about the issue, but what I am saying is that maybe we don't know enough about what we are most passionate about. Don't you want to know what you are putting your neck out for before you put it out?

The truth is that we all have things we are passionate about. Some things we are so passionate about that we would be willing to die for them, and others not so much, and I understand that. What I am trying to understand is how we choose the things we are most passionate about. What causes us to have this need to get fired up over key topics like abortion and gay rights, and yet over look issues like world poverty and hunger. At what point do we stop being activists talking about the problems and start getting actively involved in becoming a solution to those problems? It's a whole lot like being a Monday morning quarterback, seeing only what should have been better. It's a completely other thing to be THE quarterback on Sunday morning and having to make decisions as things fly by. Judging a decision from a tv screen with different angles, zoom, and instant replay is easy, it's making them while in the heat of the game that is difficult. A player is not only great because of their talent, but also in how they make last second decisions to use it.

I want to encourage you to stop talking about what you would do and start doing it. There are three steps that will help you move forwrd, 1) get informed- do your research, 2) find a way that you can help, and 3) DO SOMETHING! That's right, I said it- DO SOETHING! It's one thing to talk, it's somehting completely different to walk. Walk today, you never know what you can accomplish until you get in the game. Fans on the side lines don't make it happen and they don't get the checks, the players do. Make a difference and be a player today!

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