Tag Archive for 'grace'

the sick need a doctor.

I’m going to start by saying that I love and hate posts like this… because I feel like I’m calling people out, like I have it all together… but in reality any conviction or “calling out” is just me processing my thoughts about myself… because my righteousness truly is like filthy rags…

I just left from talking to a 21-year-old guy who has been on meth since he was 14. He is now sober for the longest time in his life, three months. He’s been in multiple rehab facilities. Every rehab facility he’s been in… he’s only counting down the days until he gets out. Three months ago he hit a tree at 65 miles an hour. He walked away with only a scratch on his arm. He has a daughter. All he has ever known is meth and that’s all he wants now. His sober days are not a struggle to maintain sobriety, but a small price to pay until he gets out.

Hanging out with this guy brings up so many questions that many of us don’t ever process. So… Do we believe that an addict can find Jesus to be greater than the next high? Do we believe in the power of Jesus to free someone from meth? I think we see lost people around us… and we’re hopeless… so we don’t even try to care or love them. We believe that Jesus can heal someone from an addiction to meth, but it probably won’t happen.

I’m thankful to know that Jesus came down in the pit with me to bring me out of it.

Because there are a lot of people walking around with the truth that are not willing to get dirty.

my man, Dan.

I love it when Jesus opens my eyes to new things… Especially when it involves other people. Before Jesus found me, I hated people who were not like me… different religions… colors… football teams… nationalities. I am so thankful to Jesus that He’s taken that away from me.

So this story begins with me being tired and flat-out exhausted. I drove down the street after work to get some coffee with two great friends and then headed home.

As I was heading home I just prayed for some opportunity to love someone and speak the Gospel. My wife was out-of-town, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get home. I didn’t know how this would happen, I just prayed it and believed it.

Something clicked and I felt drawn to drive downtown… BUT the sun was setting and I was ready to head home and be lazy in front of the TV. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was lazy. I decided to turn into the local Hindu temple (bet not everybody can say that) to see if there was someone meandering in the parking lot that I might felt drawn to… Nope… But the sun was setting behind the temple as I passed it and it was a powerful moment of realization of the urgency I should have with sharing the Gospel.

So to downtown I headed. I literally felt a draw to go downtown… BUT the sun was going down quick and I was tired, so I pulled into the local sporting goods store. And I prayed for God to bring someone to me, because I didn’t have a clue how this was going to work. So, I walked around the store. As I was so nonchalantly wandering down the boating aisle, I saw an employee come around the corner. I thought to myself, “Nope. That’s not fair. He’s supposed to start a conversation with me.” And… well… he didn’t. He walked on by. HOW DARE HE not start a conversation with me so I could so awkwardly tell him about Jesus! So I walked past the guns, past the clothes, and straight out of the front door. I really didn’t want to go downtown.

BUT, I went… grumbling and singing along with some Christian hip-hop. I thought all about how tired I was and all the reasons why this was stupid. I was going to take the exit to head deep downtown but knew I was supposed to keep going straight. And there he was. Dan. He was standing on what I hear is the most profitable homeless person corner. I pulled in the far right lane and stopped at the red light (Well… I have conveniently left out of the story the part where I passed him by… I tend to always get it wrong on the first try). I motioned for him and he came jogging over. I asked if he had eaten dinner and if he wanted to get something to eat. He told me he hadn’t eaten and would love to eat, but that he was also trying to get money for a place to stay for the night. The light turned green and I told him to stay put. I thought to myself, “I’m about to bring this man to my home for the night… but then I’d have to bring him back… How would that work? What hotels are around here?” I stopped and Googled hotels. I figured if I offered this man a meal and a hotel room I could have a captive audience with which to share the Gospel.

So I pulled around behind a building, parked my car, and walked to Dan’s intersection. I told him I would get him something to eat and get him a hotel room for the night. I told him I just wanted to bless him because I had been blessed. I didn’t want to give him some fruit off of my possession tree… That’s not the ‘blessing’ I wanted to share. I wanted to love him, just like Jesus loved me when I didn’t deserve it and had nothing to give back. I mean… How demeaning is it for a man to stand on a corner and beg for money? All he wants is some food and a place to lay his head. But you see him up ahead and change lanes. You look at him like he’s going to hurt you… when all he wants is your spare change. How do I know this is true? Because I told him how I used to roll my windows up and lock my doors when I saw a homeless person. And how Jesus has flipped my life upside down. And he told me how it feels to stand there and be looked down upon… to see cars change lanes to avoid him… to be looked at like he’s going to hurt you…

Dan is 42 years old. He’s originally from Tennessee.

I asked what he wanted to eat. He said he didn’t care. When you’re in his place, food is food… he wasn’t picky. I asked his favorite food… if he could have anything, what would he have? McDonald’s. He told me to take him to get a couple of hamburgers and he would be more than happy. I took him to a sandwich shop and told him to order whatever he wanted.

I empathized with him. He told me how hard it was to be willing to work and not be able to find any. He had done some landscaping work, but his boss didn’t need his help anymore.

He said he calls his family now and then… they don’t know his situation… but he thinks it makes them feel better to know he’s still alive.

I shared the prodigal son. I told him how this man’s son asked for his part of the inheritance, left, and blew it all… on dope and ho’s (Just kidding!… but seriously). How he wasted it away and basically told his father that he wished he was dead. He gave his father every reason to hate him. But when the son showed up, the father threw a party and loved him. Dan told me about some bad stuff he had done when we was coming up… Things that he thought God would never forgive him for. He learned about repentance and asking for forgiveness. “Honest repentance,” he said, “Asking for forgiveness and turning the opposite direction.”

He told me how sometimes he prays for things and they don’t come. He said he doesn’t give up, but he always starts to give in. And he said that is always the point when God answers.

Dan, Jesus was in front of a group of people and he looked at them and said, “If your son asks you for a loaf of bread, which of you will give him a snake?” If they wouldn’t do that to their sons, then how much greater of gifts will the Father give to us? Look at the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, Dan. Look at how he takes care of them. He will take care of you. Dan, even if things don’t get better in this life, Jesus said the least will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. You will be royalty, Dan. Clothed in Jesus’ righteousness for all eternity.

I took him to the hotel to get a room. The girl behind the desk asked who was spending the night. I told her Dan was and she looked at him and said, “Keep the room clean and don’t trash it.” I thought to myself, “Oh, great. I’m so naïve. This dude’s gonna have everyone over and be smokin’ and drinkin’ and my credit card number is on the room.”

He hadn’t showered in a month. He sleeps wherever he can. He sleeps on the street, but most of the time he’s afraid to because he doesn’t know what will happen to him during the night. He’ll just get behind a building… and sleep.

We took his stuff into the room. He put his sandwich in the fridge. He was so excited and thankful to God, because he was going to get to give his girl half of the sandwich. This man was enthralled by a sandwich and this provision… and he was only going to get half of it. All of this food that we throw away and this man is excited over a sandwich.

People can bring you shoes. People can bring you clothes. Take you to buy some food. They can even give you the change out of their cup holder.
But you’re still stuck. You’re still who you are. The only possible way to be a man again is by adoption. The only way for you to not be who you are is for you to be completely removed from your situation and handed everything that you need for a new beginning. There’s no way you’ll ever have a car. There’s no way you’ll ever be able to get a job at your age. There’s no way to keep up any self-respect and dignity when every day you’re literally kicked to the curb. Your bed is the street. The only ones you talk to are the ones you beg for money. But they don’t want to talk.
You’re like a child in an orphanage. Your orphanage is the street.
You don’t have the ability to make it on your own. Someone has to take you… and clothe you… and provide for you… and meet your needs.
Jesus commanded us to take care of the poor. But is one meal for one man enough? We were adopted as sons of God. Why do we not adopt those who are broken like we were? Can we bring a man into our home… and feed him… and clothe him? Why not?

Does this man truly need these things? Does he really made a new pair of clothes? Does he really need a meal every day? Does he really need communication with another human being? While we cannot give these things for all the people around us, we have the means to fulfill their true need for Christ. He’s a good, good Father.

love will come to save us

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave
May God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they’re falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave
May God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave
May God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for

ha ha ha.

There are so many stories of the Disciples “missing the point” that I can’t even write them all out (Just a few examples I’ll reference below: John 6:54-61, John 18:8-11, Mark 8:31-33, Mark 9:33-35, Mark 14:34-42, Luke 24:37-49).

Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” If someone told you this, what would you think? You’d probably think as the disciples did: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” The next verse says Jesus was aware that his disciples were grumbling about this. ….Just wait. One day that will actually make sense to you.

Jesus was teaching about how he must be rejected, killed, and after three days rise again. Scripture says, “He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'” ….Peter. Do you even know who I am?

After Jesus and his disciples had travelled to Capernaum, Jesus asked them what they had been arguing about on the road. They kept quiet because they had been arguing over who was the greatest. Jesus sat down and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” ….You think I couldn’t hear you? Clearly you have all missed the point.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.” Three times Jesus goes away to pray and comes back to find them all asleep. ….Thanks fellas.

Jesus was about to be arrested in the garden and Simon Peter whipped out his sword and cut the high priest’s servant’s ear off. Jesus then said, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” ….Simon Peter! Seriously? You just cut that dude’s ear off!

In Luke 24:45, Jesus appeared to the disciples after his death and “he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” WOW. Talk about “mind-blowing.” All of these prophecies, this “eating of flesh”, resurrection… it all made sense.

So. Do you laugh at the disciples’ ignorance? Do you sympathize with it? Do you find yourself in their shoes? These verses and the disciples’ stories bring me to this conclusion that I cannot let go: When I get to Heaven, Jesus is going to laugh at me. Of course, His intentions will be pure and holy. But I think He’s going to run towards me like the father of the prodigal son, sweep me up in His arms, and laugh. And like Luke 24:45, my mind will be opened to understand the Scriptures… and I’m going to laugh at myself, too. I missed it. I missed the point. I missed it all.

All of the valleys I have faced, all of the suffering, all of the trials and tribulations… they weren’t to harm me, they weren’t to hurt me… they were for my good. Wow. So that time I was struggling through… Oh. That was the reason.
And all that time I spent doing things hoping to earn a little more favor?… Wow. You really couldn’t have loved me more.
And that time when I faced temptation?… When I looked it dead in the eye… and I consciously weighed the sin… and You… and I chose the sin? You still loved me.
And that dark time when I didn’t know which way was up? You never hid Your face from me.

That’s why I think Jesus will laugh at me. I missed it! So what can I do with this thought that is plaguing me and won’t leave me? I can take the disciple’s story and this thought and use it for my good and His glory. The first conclusion I come to is that the “ups” and “downs” are not. God’s love for me and His face are ever upon me. The reason I’m struggling and I’m in a “valley” is because He’s teaching me, growing me, preparing me for what He has coming for me. This time is the best time to trust, have faith, hold on to Him. He’s not punishing me, torturing me, or messing with me. He’s molding me. It’s hope. Secondly, I can have faith in the Rock of Ages. Whenever I face a situation, thought, or I’m faced with anything that is new, I can rely on the truths that I know and have faith through the things I don’t understand. I need to take my situations and thoughts and hold them in the light of Jesus. I know His character and I know who He is. So, like the disciples being told to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, I can stand through these thoughts with the truths I already have.

Anyways. I can’t wait to get to Heaven and see the King of Glory in an all-out sprint, like the father of the prodigal son… And just laugh.

face to face.

People mock Jesus off the cuff without any hesitation. People throw God’s name in with every four letter word. Is that a good idea? I mean… seriously… even if we forget about all the Christianity and religion and culture… is that a good idea?

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” James 2:19
Even the demons believe there is one God. Not only that, but they shudder at the thought of God. And we go about dragging Him through the dirt and damning people in His name? See… the funny thing here… that some people will never understand… is that God’s power, character, and might are not dependent upon our opinion of Him or our belief in Him.

Even as Christians, though, do we shudder at the thought of God? Do we see ourselves in light of all His power and all His might? Shouldn’t that make us shudder? We clearly don’t understand the true meaning of righteousness and holiness. The essence of righteousness and holiness have no place for anything other than righteousness and holiness. There is no place for sin……. there is no place for me. Even the demons can get this through their head. And they shudder. From a demons perspective:

The humans do not start from that direct perception of Him which we, unhappily, cannot avoid. They have never known that ghastly luminosity, that stabbing and searing glare which makes the background of permanent pain to our lives. If you look into your patient’s mind when he is praying, you will not find that. If you examine the object to which he is attending, you will find that it is a composite object containing many quite ridiculous ingredients. There will be images derived from pictures of the Enemy as He appeared during the discreditable episode known as the Incarnation: there will be vaguer – perhaps quite savage and puerile – images associated with the other two Persons. There will even be some of his own reverence (and of bodily sensations accompanying it) objectified and attributed to the object revered. I have known cases where what the patient called his “God” was actually located – up and to the left at the corner of the bedroom ceiling, or inside his own head, or in a crucifix on the wall. But whatever the nature of the composite object, you must keep him praying to it – to the thing that he has made, not to the Person who has made him.
– C.S. Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters”

One day, we will stand before God. But, do you know what the problem with this is? We will not be standing before our God. We will not be approaching Granddaddy or Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. We will be approaching the Holy God of the Bible, whether we like it or not… and whether we know Him or not.

Our feeble brains will never be able to comprehend His greatness, power, and sovereignty. He is always fighting against the box that we are trying to put Him in. And it’s our problem (not His) that He doesn’t fit.

I can only imagine, that one day I will be standing in line before the Holy God of the universe in all of His glory and splendor, putting together my reasoning for why He should let me into Heaven. I’ll struggle to recall all the good things I’ve done, the ways I’ve served people, the money I gave. But with each one of these, I’ll struggle to find a single instance where my heart and motives behind my actions were completely pure. Do I really want to rely on a good thing I did when I know my heart wasn’t even behind it? I mean, I know He knows the truth. I’ll then end up empty-handed… “Jesus, I’ve got nothing. I did all these things and helped these people, but even then… I know you can see my heart… even when I did these things my heart and motives weren’t pure. I have no reason You should have me in Your presence. I have nothing at all to stand upon.”

Or maybe… maybe I’ll stand there… looking at a Holy Father… on His throne… shining like the sun… surrounded by choirs of angels… Majestic. Glorified. Holy… commanding the heavens and the earth… with Satan under his feet…
And I’ll fall on my face. Why? Because of the instant realization that the God that I was serving on the earth is bigger than my box. I like to think He’ll look at me with a smile and tell me I had it all wrong. That He’ll stretch His arms out wide… and look at me… and smile. “Look. See ME in all of My glory.” And I’ll look back at my life and think, “What. in the world. was I thinking? Why did I not see this? Why could I not comprehend this while I was on earth? I had all of this power at my disposal? I had this living in and through me?” And I like to think I’ll fall to my knees… weeping uncontrollably at the joy of my hope coming to fruition… realizing that my spirit knew these things… and that my sinful flesh has disappeared… as I look up to see The King of Glory running to me with a robe and a crown… and I’ll feel love in its purest form… cherished and held by my Father… and the tears of joy as the creation is reunited with its Creator… as my soul is fulfilled by the One of whom it has longed.

God show us the truth of Your Kingdom… Your power… and Your glory.

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