A Simple Act

So lately I’ve had what we’ll call a poor attitude when it comes to my job.  It’s not the work that I mind, I mean I truly do love working with my hands, and truthfully there’s a sense of pride I get from knowing that not only am I providing a necessity for people, but that there aren’t many people who can do what I do.  Although I tell people that I’m going to live to be over a hundred the places I work present both short and long term potential health risks, additionally working in the city has definitely calloused me a bit. Which brings me to an encounter I had a few weeks back.

     I am around homeless people daily.  Now there are some who are just everyday people like you and me who’ve unfortunately fallen on rough times, a large number are either addicts or scam artists. Both of which cause the callouses around my heart to thicken.  The location I was working at that day was across the street from a hospital that handles a large number of addicts. As I’m getting ready to go down the hole, over my shoulder I hear, ”can I get some gloves?”  It was a cold morning, so without even picking my head up a took off the fresh gloves that I had literally just put on and tossed them to the guy and walked back to the truck to get another pair.  As I turn to head back to the manhole, for the first time I see the man I had already judged and dismissed.  An older guy, disheveled, and on crutches struggling to put the gloves on.  Taking a few steps closer I can see the hospital bracelet still on him and that his skin was reddish/pink.  In what was probably less than a second I have a conversation with myself about how much of a terrible person I am.  “Hey”, I yell over, “I got you”.  Even though I can smell the alcohol on him I can’t help but feel nothing but heartbreak for him.  When I took the gloves from him I saw why he was having such an impossible time.  His hands were swollen to the point that his skin was shiny and cracking, and his fingers were “stuck” curled.  I dropped my hard hat and tools and spent the next 10 minutes getting the gloves on him.   But the saddest part was that for the first few minutes of me maneuvering the gloves around his bent hands and talking to him he wouldn’t look at me.  He just kept his head down.  Not knowing if he was in pain from me trying to get his fingers into the gloves I asked if he was OK.  He sheepishly picked his head up, still keeping his eyes to the ground. Again I asked if he was OK.  When he finally looked up his eyes got wide, like no one has actually took the time to acknowledge or even make eye contact with him in a long time.  In an almost whisper he said, “ thank you I’m ok”.

I could literally feel myself becoming less callous   

     All the while, people are walking around us not even giving either of us a second look.  Instead of getting mad about it, I actually felt sorry for them.  When you become so absorbed or hardened to the world around you that you can’t see what’s happening right in front of you that’s not living.  

And the callouses got even thinner

     In Mathew 25:40 Christ told us:

      “…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

     Sometimes I read about acts of other people.  Whether it’s missionaries or the Apostles, and think I wish I could do that or be that brave.  The reality is at that moment I did and I was.

 

     Whether you believe it or not, for me, it was an encounter with Christ. I mean I physically felt better after doing something so trivial as helping the guy and talking to him for a few minutes.  To the point that it made me WANT to do more.  It made me want to tell you  about it in the hope that you’ll want to too.  

  

      It’s amazing how an act so simple can bring someone joy. God Bless 

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Foothold

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

-John 1:5

The last few days two pieces of scripture have been lingering on my mind and I think it’s because they’re both brilliantly obvious, and yet sometimes seemingly impossible.  First is:

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 4:6-7

The problem here, I believe, is that we sometimes forget the power of God….Let me clarify that….

Immaculate conception…yep

Water to wine…no problem

Walks on water…absolutely

Dies on cross comes back three days later…child’s play

I’m going through a personal crisis(fill in whatever you’d like)…no way God can/would help me with this

When you stand back and really think about it, it’s almost insulting NOT to look to God for help.  Let’s face it, I just could have gone old school (Testament) with things like creation or parting off sea’s to show God’s power but everything that Christ did wasn’t about showing how great He is, it was about showing how much He loves us. Our problem is that we sometimes forget to “walk by faith,not by sight” and we end up viewing God in our own image instead of us in His. We have to remember that there isn’t anything that we can say or do that God doesn’t already know, and that He will always forgive us.  His love is that great.  The other piece of scripture is:

26 “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

-Ephesians 4:26-27

Boom. I mean that last line…. “do not give the devil a foothold”. That is powerful.  Powerful, because we do. Think about it.  It really doesn’t take much for life to start getting out of hand, and instead of praying on it we get mad.  We lose focus.  Instead of hands folded in prayer, they’re pointed in anger and blame.  Our eyes no longer fixed on Him, are obsessed on the world around us.  It doesn’t take long for our hearts and minds to be filled with words like anger, rage, jealousy, hurt, suspicion, and revenge.  All from simply giving the devil a foothold.  And depending on what you’re going through it can take a few days or a single moment for it to happen.  But it’s at those moments.  In those dark times, that we have to look to Him.  We have to remember who we’re supposed to be, and who is on our side.  Always on our side.  His love is greater than our hurt.  I’ve spent the last few years scratching John 1:5 in the underground structures I work in.  I do it trying to both, be clever because the work I do literally keeps the lights on, and also I hope anyone who sees it will look it up and maybe decide to read some more.  So as I was leaving my mark today I suddenly saw the connection.  No darkness can overcome the light we all have inside of us.  The only thing that keeps words like love, peace, patience, hope, trust, and joy from our hearts and mind is ourselves.

Always seek joy, God bless

Livin on the edge

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

-1 Corinthians 12:1-3

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective these last couple of days. Yesterday especially. We all had woken up to an arctic like environment that, although we knew was coming, seemingly took everyone by surprise. Under normal circumstances I would have spent the day outside…..working, but instead today I was inside. Great right? Wrong. I was sitting in a hospital waiting room for nearly 14 hours while a family member was being operated on.

Perspective.

Given the choice, I’d sooner work in any condition than have someone I care for being operated on…..no offense to the hospital staff, they in fact did an excellent job! But I digress.

Let me take it a step further.

While sitting in that waiting room I was surrounded by strangers, each going through different situations. A mix of somber faces and elated looks. Early on things were pretty tense for us, and by the looks on the faces of several of the other families we were not alone. As I stared out the window, half noticing a maintenance worker cleaning something in the midst of an icy gale, I saw a man smiling as he wrestled an “It’s a girl!” balloon into a car. I couldn’t help but smile, getting the chance to see the hospital from his point of view. A short time later it was our time to smile as we heard from the surgeon that although they had some issues everything was good. The waiting room looked completely different to us than it had just a short time earlier. Meanwhile not twenty feet away by the sound of the sobbing someone got different news. Same room, same weather, looks completely different.

Perspective.

So that brings me to this morning. Around 4:30 this morning Kerri is driving me to the train station and “Livin on the edge” by Aerosmith comes on…..I just want to say I absolutely love when I hear God’s message in unlikely places…

“There’s somethin’ wrong with the world today

I don’t know what it is

Something’s wrong with our eyes

We’re seein’ things in a different way

And God knows it ain’t his

It sure ain’t no surprise”

Alright God I hear you…I guess I’m not done talking about this. I mean a couple of days ago I was talking about judging others without knowing what they were going through, but this is different. This is deeper. As I sit here thinking of everything that’s going on, not only in the world but within my own life as well, it kills me. What is happening? Sitting in that room yesterday it didn’t matter who you were….or what your perspective was….unlike what was going on outside those walls, people actually cared about the person next to them. Cared about what they were going through. Good or bad it mattered. And even though we saw that room from different view points, from different mindsets, we all cared. To me it seems like we having a love issue in our everyday lives. Have we become so self absorbed or blinded by superficial thoughts that we just refuse to see from any viewpoint or thought process other than our own? Sadly the answer is yes. Now before you say “we’ll not me” I want you to think about it…..Really think about it…..Maybe think a little more. I’m not saying it happens all the time, but that’s not how this works. Christ was pretty clear about this. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 he said “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The GREATEST of these is love. Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s not that easy. I agree, but no one ever said anything about easy. Maybe now you’re thinking that I don’t understand what you’re dealing with or going through, and that’s absolutely true. But what I do know is that on Jesus’s last two days on earth alone he was betrayed by someone he considered a friend, denied by the man he saw his brother, beaten, mocked, tortured, and crucified…. and all he felt for them was love. Love and forgiveness. He still saw things from their perspective and with love in his heart.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

-Luke 23:34

We forget sometimes,I think, that we are supposed to live in His image not the other way around. I’m not perfect. We’re not perfect. We are all works in progress, but we can’t think that if I “give love here I don’t have to give love there”. Steven Tyler is right, something is wrong and we definitely not seeing things God’s way. Well I don’t know about you but I’m tired of being a “clanging cymbal” I’m done with having and gaining “nothing”. The change has to start with each of us…today.

I pray you all find joy in all you do, all you see, and all you share. God bless.

Aha moment

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”

-Romans 14:10

As I was driving today I see this guy walking in the rain with his umbrella bent up. I started to laugh at both the fact that the umbrella was bent up, but also the fact that he appeared to just have completely given up caring. Then I thought to myself what is this guy going through to make him just concede like that. We all sometimes judge those around us based on our own assumptions about what’s going on in their lives. We sometimes, sadly, can even find humor in it without “walking a mile in their shoes”. As someone who believes that God tries to talk/teach us something everyday, I’ll take this as an “aha” moment. Lesson learned.

Remember to always find joy in your life. God bless

Lessons from a doorway

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”-1 Timothy 5:8

One of the greatest things about the Bible is that it’s alive. The living word. You can literally read something and it hits you one way and then the next day your perspective changes and suddenly the meaning gets deeper. Which brings me to last night. Out of nowhere my son got violently ill and even though he is 21 years old and in the Air Force, I spent the night watching over him. The reality is no matter how old I get as long as I have the strength in my body I will always provide and protect my family. As I stood in my sons doorway, in the middle of the night, making sure he was ok I thought to myself how we are created in God’s image. And just how the love I have for my family supersedes all else, that is exactly how God feels for us, only on an infinite level.

I am a work in progress. We all are. And at times it can be overwhelming trying to live like Christ, especially when our nature makes us over think things. What I realized, once again standing in that doorway, is that to truly follow Jesus all we have to do is let love guide us.

Remember to always seek joy. God bless

Never Alone

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”-2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Over the last several days I’ve definitely been in a bit of a funk. When I had decided to leave the ministry that I had been working with for almost a decade I assumed the people that I had been working with, who had become family to me, would understand. The passion I have for the work I did alone should’ve made it obvious how difficult a decision it was for me to make. But the truth is when you feel God calling you, you have to answer. Now I don’t know if it is the nervousness of losing both my wife and I from the group, but in a matter of two days these people who I thought of as family….and still do….suddenly have become cold and confrontational towards us. I can’t remember the last time I felt this alone. This heartbroken. Then this morning as I was watching the sunrise the phrase it’s always darkest before the dawn popped into my head. And Like a flood I remembered all the things that I’ve been telling people for years, about how we are NEVER truly alone. God is always with us. On our best day, on our worst day, and every day in between. I truly do find my strength in Christ. So I’m just going to continue to pray for everyone every day and hope that the light of the new day will remind and inspire people the way it has me.

God bless

And so it begins…

So today is the first day that this will be my sole medium for speaking about my faith…..for now. The transition hasn’t been the smoothest but I’m excited nonetheless! There was a saying I heard years ago that went something like “the devil saw me with my head down and smiled….and then I said Amen”. That’s pretty much how I feel right now. Like we (Kerri and I) are on the verge of something so great the devils feels the need to get involved. There is going to be some trying times ahead, I know that. But as long as I keep my eyes on Christ, I know I have nothing to fear.

Thanks for listening. God bless