Thursday, July 31, 2008

so what are you going to do now?

"so what are you going to do now?" I asked the man who just finished telling me his story of a former life of drugs and gang violence. "I left a party one night and asked the guy driving if he was i kinda fell thing i know i'm waking up in the hospital two days later. God saved me for something i know...."

"so, what are you going to do about it? I mean, if you really feel like God saved you, kept you alive, you have to do something. If you think He is that powerful, what are you going to do? you know about this God?..." And I proceeded to unravel the scandal of the cross and you could have heard a pin drop in that tiny inner-city apartment. It was really hot that day and I had just finished hauling a bed, chair, dresser, vacuum cleaner and five boxes of assorted dishes and housewares up two flights of stairs. This guy and his girlfriend along with their two year-old son had just found an apartment after living in a shelter...the kid had no bed and they were all sharing an inflatable mattress...they're cheap at wal-mart and if folks on the margin can find a cheap bed you can't take it home on the bus...

So I was sweating like a pig because it was hot and I was wearing a clergy shirt...i kinda feel like it's a good witness to see a priest getting dirty...and when I was done I noticed that there weren't any fans so I went down the street and bought three for them. And in the midst of the sweat in that tiny little apartment the Creator of the Universe showed up and opened hearts...I have heard from sources that they have been attending a church now...they did something about it...

And that was why I was there that day as well. A song that gets a ton of airtime in my head sings "I want to make much of you Jesus, I want to make much of your cross." At just the right time Jesus crashed into my life so now I sweat, haul, store, preach, spend, laugh, pray, drive all over the place here and in Tanzania...i'm not saying that i'm anything special and i'm not trying to blow my own horn...but really....

What are you going to do in response? Sitting still is not an option...

make much of Jesus my friends, make much of the cross...

in Him


Thursday, July 24, 2008

gas, espresso and Jesus

I bumped into a friend I hadn't seen in years a couple of weeks ago. As we sat and talked over a bagel he launched into the price of gas....what really ticked him off was this feeling he gets when he's at the pump that the companies were trying to personally stick it to sounded a bit like a "conspiracy theory" to me. I don't know how many people share this level of outrage, but I can say with a fair amount of confidence that most people do feel as if the companies have no idea how we're effected by their the CEO's of the gas companies personally feel the pinch like we do when they hammer out prices? I can't say, I just wish they understood how their actions affected others
With this conversation still fresh while I was on vacation in Maine last week I got really excited when I found a gas station that was "under" four bucks a gallon! So what if was only by $0.01, it still got me happy enough to take a picture of the sign! Little things get me really excited and this vacation was full of little things...little waves, little gas prices, little to worry about, and a little coffee shop in the middle of Kennebunkport Maine that made me very happy.
My wife and I were looking for a good espresso buzz so we asked a local behind a cash register where to find a tasty jolt. She pointed us to a espresso shop around the corner. I walked in and asked if they could make me a lot of espresso and pour it over some ice cubes. You can't imagine my joy when I got four shots over ice for only two bucks! I almost danced in the I quickly became best friends with the kid and we started talking while he made my wife's drink.
As I was leaving he passed a little comment "oh Jesus, help me, or god or someone"....and before I could think I turned around and replied "dude, Jesus can definitely help you" which he said to his co-worker "oh, that reminds me, i need to call my aunt...she's one of those crazy Christians that always cries in church and speaks in tongues. Every time we see them or go to church with them they feel so bad that we don't act the same way, it really makes them really ticked and it freaks me out."
You could tell by his voice and posture that he was turned off by these folks. Little comments they made had a great impact on him...i'm not saying that thier reaction to the reality of thier redemption of thier very souls by the atoning work of Jesus on the cross is a bad thing. In fact many is the day when this reality washes over me and I, like David before the Ark (although fully clothed) dance about in joyous praise.
I was nugded by the Holy Spirit and I walked back to the counter and said "dude, sorry to hear that. I get freaked out by people who come down on folks just because they don't react the same way as they do in church too. Next time you see them, tell them that different people reacted in different manners to Jesus in the Bible too when they encountered His power...there was a woman at a well who was sleeping around and Jesus confronted her on it and she kinda just broke down, some blind guys ran after him when they got their sight back, and a guy filled with demons just sat down after he was healed and they were cast out...We all react different because Jesus reaches us all differently. But there will be a reaction." I thanked him again for my drinks and skipped out.
Do you ever wonder how the little things you do effect others? I'm not saying we need to put artificial parameters on how we personally authentically worship the Trinity. What I'm saying is this...when you live life among people who you wouldn't normally see in church, you begin to understand why they aren't in church....and with frightening regularity I find that it's because of "Christians" that most keep away. Jesus said we will be known by our fruits, and that it's what comes out our mouths that makes us unclean. So what are the words you have pouring out of your mouth and what kind of reaction are they causing?
So....if the CEO's of the large gas companies understood, i mean really understood how their actions effected the average person at the pump i think they would think twice about their actions...i wonder what would happen if Christians did the same...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

i'm tired of the politics

Last week I preached on the parable of the soils, or the sower, depending on which commentary you may read, or where the Holy Spirit has you at that moment. As an evangelist I've read that passage many times. I'd shared it with kids at rest stops for years on the way home from Young Life camps. This time as I dug into it, I found myself in a very different place....
Jesus told that parable, as he did with all his stories, to illicit a reaction and a response. Jesus is good for that all the time. I once heard it said that Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable well that's what he did in the parable of the soils, and in the case of me, he keeps tilling away. By the simple fact that I was in church that day, preaching that God is a good, kind merciful king let me know that the Holy Spirit had done an amazing thing in my life to allow the seed of the Gospel to take root. you ever get broken over the fact that many don't have the same reaction when they hear the message? I do, big time, and I often wonder if they where given the seed in a really bad package. God answered my question that very week three times in a row.
I took my daughter out for a wagon ride around the block taking a break on Saturday as I finished my sermon prep. I wheeled by a neighbor who recognized us as 'Bucks regulars. We chatted a bit and I turned and said I needed to get back and finish my sermon. "What religion are you" she asked...I told her Anglican, understanding where her question came from. She didn't know "Anglican" so I mentioned that it's like Episcopal, but I had enough of the junk in the state and was just about chasing after Jesus and loving each other. She looked at me and said "I'm tired of the politics, where's your church?" So I told where.
After church, my wife and daughter and I stopped by 'Bucks to get caffinated. There was a twenty something girl at the counter with an arm full of tattoos and a six year old daughter. She kept staring at me to the point that I really noticed. As I was fixing my Americano, she said across the store "Man, I want to go the church that allows the priest to wear earrings! I'm tired of the politics". We had a great quick little talk, I told her where she could find that church.
Later that night I was helping out a friend drywall his kitchen ceiling...a guy who was helping was having a hard time one of his kids, I mean really hard. This guy was broken. So we spoke about kids and the fact that some do great and others do other things and how we can try our best and they just do what they do...and so he turns to me and asks, "where is your church. I'm tired of the politics."
So, here's the deal...what kind of package are you for the seed of the Gospel? What kind of seed do you claim the Gospel is? These three people I met where all sold bad seeds I think in nice shiny wrappers. And when the troubles came like famine, and they harvested what had been sown, it couldn't give them what they needed.
I'm tired of the politics too. I'm not saying that we don't need to be firm in the Gospel, it's just that I'm a simple farmer, who trusts the seed because I have eaten of this bread and rest on the first fruits of the Holy Spirit that has been planted in me...So I'm free to bring the message to some pretty barren fields and sow in some crazy teaching kids outside the Livingston Memorial Museum in Tabora, Tanzania how to dance the me a fruit, call me a melon, I'm just thankful my name will be called on the Day.
blessings farmers...sow wide and well

Friday, July 11, 2008

wonder working power in the blood

The other day my wife, daughter and I went to visit some old friends at a parish where I had served. They were in thier second to last day of Vacation Bible School and this little church was packed to the gills with kids and adults. I love kids, Jesus and Vacation Bible I was an ear to ear grin reconnecting with kids.
I found myself standing next to Phil, or "Pappy" as the kids call him. He and his wife, "Nana" are two of the saints we'll all be feasting with one day. You'll recognized them as I'm sure thier ressurected bodies will include laps that will be able to seat all the kids they have shared Jesus with over thier lifetimes.
As I stood next to this gentle man of God, the kids started to sing a remix of the hymn, "there is power in the blood"...and the next thing I know my hands are raised and I have tears in the corners of my eyes as I realized that the only reason I was there was due to the wonder-working power found in the blood of the Lamb. I knew this, but it was one of those moments of assurance that God grants that flooded my soul like the river that flowed from Calvary.
Perhaps it struck so hard because I've been studying the parable of the Sower, or the Four Soils, or whatever you want to call it. As an evangelist I've read this passage many times...and I have to say that this past week I felt an amazing sense of gratitude that the wonder-working power of the blood allowed me to hear and act on the Gospel Seed that was scattered into my life....many times. And I prayed this morning that by God's grace alone I may continue to grow in mercy and grace.
I always have had a sense of gratitude when I hear this story....but for some reason I'm in a season of my life where I am beginning to get a small glimpse of how large the hand of God's providence is...and this is not my own doing....
There is power, power, wonder-working power in the Blood of the Lamb"
blessings to you all....
In the grace and love of the Wonder-Worker