Almost a year ago, my friend Ben Turner and I were having dinner discussing a book we were both reading when told me about a place called Safe Haven.
This place has changed my life. Continue reading
I got the opportunity to attend the Catalyst Conference this past week and came back with a notebook full of notes, a renewed energy and a moment that I won’t soon forget.
During the segment to pimp out Compassion International they had a gentleman on stage that told his story of being a Compassion kid. He had the first letter that his sponsor ever sent to him and he read it aloud. The letter talked about God’s love and how excited the sponsor was to sponsor him. There wasn’t anything special or remarkable about the letter, yet it changed this mans life. He was now in Bible college and couldn’t wait to go back to home to teach others about Christ.
Then he was asked if in all those years of writing back and forth with his sponsor if he had ever met him. He said no, he hadn’t. They told him to turn around. His sponsor was behind him and the man completely lost it. Overcome and overjoyed, tears flooded down his face as he slumped to the stage. No words. Just hugging the man who simply cared enough to write. Letters shaped his life. God can use anything.
I immediately put on my calendar, “Write Lucky a letter.” Lucky is my Compassion kid. He gets his money every month, but does he get the love that this man obviously felt? I don’t know, I just know that I need to keep loving and writing and let God take care of the rest.
It’s the best $32 a month you can spend.
When’s the last time you were humbled by someone’s story?
One early morning, after a fierce storm had hit the coast, I strolled to the beach for my morning walk. Horrified, I saw that tens of thousands of starfish had been washed up on the beach by the winds and waves. I was saddened by the realization that all of them would die, stranded on the shore, away from the life-giving water. Despairing that there was nothing I could do, I sat down on the sand and put my head in my hands.
But then I heard a sound, and I lifted my eyes. There, in the distance, I saw a man bending down and then standing up, bending down and standing up. Curious, I rose and walked toward him. I saw that he was picking up the starfish, one at a time, and throwing them back in the sea.
“What are you doing?” I yelled.
“Saving the starfish,” he replied.
“But don’t you see, man, that there are tens of thousands of them?” I asked, incredulous. “Nothing you can do will make a difference.”
He did not answer me but instead bent down, picked up another starfish, and cast it back in the water. Then he smiled, looked me in the eye, and said, “It made a difference to that one.”
When I read that parable in the book “The Hole In Our Gospel” the idea of making it personal became clear.
Then I started to think about Jesus and the example he set. I used to look at Jesus’ miracles as Jesus displaying his power to people. Oh wow, Jesus did it again! Great job on healing that leper!
Then it hit me. Jesus made it personal. The stories that were recorded about the miracles he performed are personal stories. Jesus heals a man with leprosy, Jesus heals a blind man, Jesus and the rich young ruler, the faith of the Roman Officer, Jesus raises a widow’s son, etc. Even when he fed the 5,000, the lesson became personal for his disciples.
Jesus was relational. He healed on a personal level. We should do the same. Love and serve others on a personal level and build relationships that last longer than a few moments. One person at a time.
“Don’t fail to do something, because you can’t do everything.” – Bob Pierce
This past Saturday, at Cross Point Community, we had what we call “Serving Saturday.” A chance for us to say “thanks” to the surrounding community by serving their needs, whatever they may be. Over 450 people showed up to help. An amazing day where God’s love was shown to many many people.
As I looked around at everyone helping, I couldn’t help but wonder what their own personal needs were. I was recently reminded that the person serving next to you might just be in need of a blessing themselves…
As I opened the storage building in Louisville, KY, I was floored. It was full. We loaded up every item in the building into the U-Haul and drove back to Nashville.
As I opened up the apartment door in Nashville, I was floored. It was empty. She had been sleeping on the carpet with a pillow and blanket… for 6 months.
She had showed up for every community group meeting and shared many things about herself. You would have never guessed that all she basically had was a roof over her head. Couldn’t afford to hire movers to bring her stuff to Nashville.
As I watched 12 people from our community group use a Friday night to help unload the U-Haul, I was floored. The girls had started unpacking her dishes and were washing them all and finding a home for them. The guys were busy doing their best interior design impersonation, moving furniture around for the best “look.”
This is what Jesus meant by “loving one another.” Serving each other’s needs by giving them your time and love.
As I left that night, I was floored. I had just experienced a community of believers showing selfless love towards one “among us.” Let me never forget to bless those “among us.”
I know many of you know about my lunch buddy, Malique. I have plastered photos and quotes by him all over Twitter and Facebook. He’s a special kid who I have learned a lot from.
To be honest, when I first started having a lunch buddy I had the mindset of “I am going to do a good thing. I will help this kid. I will serve.” Now I think Malique is the one who signed up for the lunch buddy program.
I could see him walking up to the program director and saying, “I want to help. Give me a 27 year old man who is trying to learn to love and let him spend some time with me. I will whip him into shape.”
A few weeks ago I showed up at my normal time expecting to see Malique in line for lunch, he wasn’t there. I asked some of his classmates where he was and they told me that he got in trouble and was in the classroom. I walked down there and he came walking out and his face was upset. He began to explain to me that a boy in his class wouldn’t stop talking to him so they both got in trouble. (I suspect he wasn’t that innocent, but I used to do the same thing.)
A week later I asked him about getting in trouble and if the rest of the day went ok. He was picking up some kind of food with his fork and said: “Yeah, it went fine. You know, I just had to turn my day around.”
How many times do we let the small things effect the rest of our day?
Sometimes Malique doesn’t drink his milk. He just eats and then throws it away, but he always gets strawberry milk. So one week, I grabbed it and drank it. It was gross. I said, “Malique, how do you drink this stuff? This is nasty.” He said that he liked it and that was that.
Wednesday, we were sitting and talking and I noticed he had a chocolate milk. I assumed he got it because I told him strawberry milk was gross and he wanted to be like me. I asked him why he got Chocolate Milk instead of strawberry this time and what he said has opened my eyes this week.
He said, “I didn’t get it for me.”
He got it for me.
Keep teaching me Malique. Preach on brother.
I challenged God today.
I was upset and angry and had to get away from the office. Take a walk.
I was doubting the very existence I was so mad.
I took a look at the trees and the grass and immediately took back what I had just said. This isn’t by accident. I just needed a reminder I guess.
I walked over to the gas station to compose myself and get a drink. I noticed a homeless man carrying a box. We passed each other and I continued on into the store.
I bought a Powerade and a Sunkist. My two favorite drinks. I walked out trying my best to say “I trust you God. I trust you with my life” over and over and then I walked by the homeless man again.
He was sitting in a parking spot drawing on the cardboard. I immediately felt the stirring to give him one of my drinks.
I told God, “No, not this time. I worked hard for this money I just spend. I want this drink. Besides, not after what just happened to me.”
I got about 15 steps past the man, when I said “FINE!” and turned around. I walked up to the man and said “You thirsty?” and handed him the Powerade.
He said, “You don’t have to do this. I will be fine.” I just said, “I felt like I needed to. God bless you.” Then I turned to walk away. I was still mad.
Then I heard, “Hey!” I turned around and he said something I couldn’t understand. Then he motioned for me to come over.
I walked over and he started talking about some things I couldn’t really understand. He was covering all kinds of topics and then I noticed what he was drawing.
I asked him about it and he started explaining it. He had drawn a picture of the hand of God pointing down and a cross. He had all kinds of random messages written. He asked me to read it aloud.
He then asked me to read it again, but this time slow down and not to go in order. He explained that I was taught to read a certain way, but he made this to be read any way you want it read.
I read it aloud. I then turned to him and asked him if he was saved. He said, “Oh yes”, and then pulled out all kinds of literature about knowing God and even a small study of the book of John.
He asked me again to read it aloud, to make it my own. I did. Suddenly my prayer from this morning came flooding back to me. “Lord, let your love be shown in my life today”. I guess I didn’t expect to be the one on the receiving end.
Then a song that I listened to on the way to work entered my mind and these are some of the lyrics:
He sleeps under stars, it’s all he can afford
His blanket’s an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time
He may be a drifter who’s grown old and gray
But what if it’s Jesus and I walk away
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time
I walked away from that meeting with Roger feeling renewed and alive. I believe that was a meeting God desperately wanted me to have.
Thank you Roger.
I just walked into my room and saw my bed.
I am about to get underneath the covers and sleep soundly in a heated home. I will wake up refreshed tomorrow, ready for what the day brings me. How badly I take that for granted.
Tonight, me and some friends headed out in the bitter cold to hand out clothes, apple pies and coffee to the homeless. I went into it expecting to “feel” something, whether it be self gratification or God’s approval. I felt nothing the entire time.
Until I saw my bed.
That’s when my heart broke for the men and women we spoke to tonight. They were bundled up on benches preparing for a long night and eagerly took our coffee and apple pies. They were all very thankful and responded in an unusual way when we told them that we just wanted to share God’s love. They would say, “I know I am blessed”.
Could I say that if I was in their situation?
I was the one who got the blessing tonight, because my eyes were opened a little more to this world that we live in and what my role is while I am here. Why should I feel God’s approval when I was just doing what he does for me everyday: showing love.
“This is the story of God: It was not enough to send an angel or prophet or any other, for an issue of love, you must go yourself. And so God came. This is the story of Jesus.” – Soul Cravings
Without love, there is no God. Without God, there is no love.
Showing others love is a lifestyle, not a diet.
So thank you to David, Darryl, Gary, Michelle, Tony, James, Dwayne and Marco for blessing me tonight. I pray that you are warm and that you know that God loves you.
Quick story about Marco: We couldn’t tell if he needed help or not and didn’t want to ask him if he really didn’t. It wasn’t until we saw him picking up something off the ground that we decided to move in. He quickly and graciously accepted what we had to offer and then said this:
“I just picked up a penny that was on heads off the ground and then you showed up. I was like…Man, that was QUICK! Usually it takes a while for the good luck!”