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.

Finding God In America's Blog