Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
...it makes me crack up, so i run around the room when i think i'm really (that is actually) funny trying to snuff out the invisible flames coming off my butt...
...ya know, it would be alot easier if God made that a reality, wouldn't? I mean, when you met people lying, their pants would burst into flames! Oh man, what an ad campaign! (if you make money off that idea, hook me up)...so if it would happen, me and Jesus were chasing hot pants up and down my street today.
...the doorbell rang and there where two Jehovah's Witness there, wanting to "give me something". All i say when i hear this is "no thanks, but i'd like to give you something" and i start to pray that the false gospel they have been given will be forgotten. When i'm done praying they always ask "what was that about?" and i simply reply "i've prayed that you might hear the Truth"
....we'll these two today stood there in their fuego pants and i simply asked them if Jesus was God, to which they replied "no" (as i knew she would). "May I ask you a question?" i said. "Sure" was the reply.
I'd like to ask you a question about a verse that is not one of those marked in your book (she had her proof texts all marked...like many Christians do)...and i'd like to use my Bible and your book." "OK"
"Let's look at John 1:1, what do you read in your book"
"In the beginning was the Word, and the word was a god"
"May I ask why the word "Word is capitalized in your book"
"well, i don't know...(her friend pipes in) that's a name for God
"so you're telling me that it's reading "God was a god?"...He was one of many?"
"no, it's the name for Jesus"
"so, Jesus was a god, you agree?"
We spoke for abit, and as they walked down my sidewalk, i put my daughter into her stroller and told them i'd follow behind, going to the doors they went to and put out their flaming pants..that is correcting their wrongs. I told one guy walking his dog that they denied Jesus was God, and a young kid who took their books in his doorway up the street....
....so this is what Jesus did to hot pants, he exposed the lies and pointed to his father....was it uncomfortable, yes it was, but i couldn't let their people lie to my neighbors and say that Jesus wasn't God. I wasn't angry at them, i felt sad so as i walked behind them i reminded them of the deep love Jesus had for them.
...so, what do you do when you see hot pants walking down the street? Look at them and say nothing, or expose the lie in love.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
...so when i was a kid it used to be an insult to say "yer grandma wears army boots"...it's pretty stupid, and i have no idea where the saying came from, but it stuck in my head.
lot's of junk get stuck in my head, much to my wife's dismay. But i've come to realize that Jesus wears army boots as well...at least in the picture that smacked me between the eyes on the cover of the NYT on May 29, 2007.
Now i don't really care where you stand on war...i could blog for a really long time on the just war theory and spin both sides...i've come to understand that the answer is, when asked "whose side is Jesus on" is "yes"...see, the Word says that Christ died for sinners at just the right time, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring glory to God (Romans 5:8)... so Jesus didn't die for the "good guys"...that's a flawed question for their are no "good" guys (1 John 1:8)..so since we all fell short, than that's who Jesus is for...us fallen folks (Matthew 9:12-23)
...so that's what went through my mind when i saw this picture...Jesus in full camo...letting some random kid hide behind him as he walked into the path of death...look at his eyes, see how he's not distracted by anything...that's Jesus....in the garden, on the cross...letting us hide behind him while he walks into the battle against enemies that we could never face...grace
we're called to do the same thing friends, you and I...to walk into harms way, into the dirt and fear of life where others run, and to let the scared, helpless ones hide and attach themselves to us...simply because that's what Jesus did for us...grace and mercy
.... i heard many times today as i spoke to friends; "bryan, you've got the guts to walk into places where i can't....you are fearless to ride the storms of life. i don't have that courage!"
...well, tonight let me tell you i have that courage either...i've been in the midst of a battle that left in it's wake death and pain, fear and anger, and yet i can still say "Lord, Lord"...and that is and understanding of a deep, deep truth that let's me do this.
two days after i graduated seminary, my wife went into labor with our first child. It was the "perfect" pregnancy....that's what we heard all along...we were poised to head out and replant a church in an area we where sure was ripe for our gifts...and then one night, things went really bad, really fast... triumph turned to tragedy in the blink of an eye
my wife went into labor, and we went to the hospital. The attending nurse at one point had a very difficult time finding our child's heart beat, and when the attending physician came in and saw our child's heart rate, he rolled my wife off for an emergency c-section...the last thing he said to me was "i'll see you in a few minutes with a healthy baby"...so i sat there by myself in the loneliest place i think man has ever been....in what seemed like eternity, our Dr. returned with another Dr. and they both knelt by my side and said words that parents are not supposed to hear; "where sorry, but your son did not make it".
...and they both put their hands on me and prayed...the story unfolds for month after month as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ministered to us and to thousands of others in ways that defy words...but we learned through it all the answer to the question "where was God when.....?"
...."closer than our own breath....." that's where He was and is and will always be. No, we never said "that you Jesus for doing this to us....we said "thank you Jesus in the midst of this"...
...so when you hear my stories of walking into places where others won't go...or you say "I don't have the courage that he has"....let me tell you that i don't either...i just know that there is no place, height nor depth, that i can ever go where my precious Jesus has not been before me...he took the hit of all the attacks on me so i would only have to bear the shadows...you see the word for Hope in Biblical Greek is a noun, not a verb...it's a real thing, not an idea
so please, step in line behind me friends, for if Christ is for us, who can be against us?
in sure Hope
Monday, August 25, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
....when i was in college at LIU Southampton on the East End of Long Island my friends would tease me that they never saw me dry...i surfed my brains out as often as i could
...well times have changed, but me and the fam' are heading off to Cape Cod for a week of surf and relaxation...but i will be bringing my sign and standing on the side of the road Monday-Friday 7:30-8:30 am...
...i won't be blogging, just paddling! We'd appreciate your prayers. I'll see ya'll when we get back..
Friday, August 15, 2008
...Toyoda Sakichi and Toyoda Kiichiro developed the Toyota model of production. ...."they had the foresight to go always to the heart of the matter. Both spent their lives mainly in the production fields, looking at things realistically, calmly, and objectively." They understood and chased the "actual-v-theoretical"... it's the "looks good on paper, but does it fly?" approach
...so why do so few Christians do the same i wondered today. They read the book, love the actions of Jesus, and applaud from the bleacher seats the guy who's out in the field doing the deal. Don't get me wrong, i'm right there with them compared to the heroes of faith that i've been reading about! You could say that i've got splinters in my bottom as apposed to a speck in my eye!
...so here's today's hero who got up off the bench and worked the factory floor...
Nguyen Van Thunan was imprisoned in Vietnam for his faith. He says that he spent years waiting for his release...until one day he got it..."No, i will not spend my time waiting. I will live the present moment and fill it with love" He chose to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. The result? He gave up what he thought was God's agenda for his life and began to focus on God. He writes "I said to myself...why torment yourself? All of the work [you had done but cannot do now] is excellent work, the work of God, but it is not God!" So he changed his focus to God, not what he wasn't doing, and God brought the ministry to him. The power came from God, not his (Nguyen's) actions.
...this is life on the production line of salvation history...
...so today, i seemed to be more focused on God than my sign and plea....i still believe that i was called to do what i'm doing, but God had a very different agenda for me today.
here's what happened....
the "different guy" in town (whose appearance and actions make most uncomfortable) stopped, took off his head set and yelled across bus traffic I love your sign, I will pray for China today!" I laughed, because while i watched him make eye contact with me i started to pray, "Lord, please no".
A bit later a woman stopped, read my sign and said "we all need prayer", so i asked her what she needed prayer for and prayed for her(Carroll) on the street.
And then this guy walks up and i say "i like your tie" he stops and asks if he could give me a copy of the Watch Tower (the paper for the Jehovah's Witness) to which i said, no thank you, but can i give you a book and pray for you. I asked his name (Cletus) put my sign down, i laid hands on him and prayed for deliverance for him from the false gospel he had been taught. He walked away not really sure what happened.
Later as I left my corner i saw him across the street handing out literature to a mildly retarded young man whom i see working in town. i walked over to them and simply said the young guy "do you believe in Jesus" "yes" he said. "Do you believe he was God on earth?" "well...he replied. "Well" i said to him, "if you profess to be a Christian, the whole deal revolves on that. This man Cletus here, now Cletus, correct me if i'm wrong, will tell you that Jesus was not God, or even THE son of God, right. " "Right,"Cletus said, yes, you worship the created, i worship the Creator"... so the kid saw his lie and said he had to catch his bus. I told Cletus he forgot the book he said i could give him and put my Bible into his briefcase. "I don't want your book" he yelled at me and threw it back at me. "But Cletus" i said, "if you want to follow Jesus, you need to know the truth. i wasn't a jerk, or forceful, just convicted
...i began to walk home when i passed this guy sitting on a bench with his head down sitting next to a half a 2 liter bottle of soda. i felt i was supposed to stop and talk to this guy, hear his story and pray. But i kept walking, i had to get a coffee and get home so i could go rock climbing. The nagging continued so 25 yards past him i stopped and turned around. "Excuse me" i said " i get a sense that you could use some prayer. What's your name, are you ok?" Oh, I'm Peter and I'm fine, you could pray for my dad though, he died in '91..." and as his story rambled on i could tell he had some issues. "oh, well how are you today?" "Not so good" he said. "I'm chronic bipolar and schizophrenic and my meds are working to good." "Oh my, do you have a case worker" "Yes, I'm seeing him today" "That's great, let's pray for that". So i prayed for another person on the street asking for a peaceful day, meds that worked and comfort.....my head is still spinning
....so, what did i learn? that my heart is indeed being transformed by God's grace. Spending all this time in prayer for others and learning of their acts has moved me to act as i wait holding my sign, to be attentive to the Spirit of God, and to listen....
God's peace to you all
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Pastor Bike pleaded with VOM staff to ask Christians to pray for persecuted Christians in China during the Olympics. The pastor voluntarily preaches the gospel openly in China despite being persecuted. He has asked for his identity to be revealed to bring continued attention to the persecution of Christians in Communist China.
But others trusted God and were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free. They placed their hope in the resurrection to a better life. Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
"It is important for their stories to be told, for many reasons. The testimonies of modern martyrs should be recorded and celebrated-not consigned to the dustbin of history...Their witness may serve as a source of inspiration..."
So today as is stood holding my sign, i meditated on the the final words left by a Man of God named Watchman Nee who gave his life for the faith in China...Nee became a Christian at 17 and his zeal was fast and strong. In 1928 he established the Shanghai Gospel Backroom and before his arrest approximately 400 churches were started in China. Since his death on a labor farm in 1972, 2,300 churches trace their roots back to this man's ministry. During his detention, just before his death, his family was alerted to that he was gravely ill, but by the time his grandniece could get to him, he had died and been cremated. She writes..."before his departure, he left a piece of paper under his pillow which had several lines of big words written in a shaking hand...'Christ is the Son of God, who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee"
...i stood repeating these words over and over, for nearly an hour this morning as i stood on my corner. i prayed "Christ, you are the Son of God, who died for the redemption of sinners and was resurrected after three days. i pray today for all who are persecuted in China today for proclaiming this, the greatest Truth in the universe." i was grateful when my feet got sore (i even wore sneakers) and when my arms got tired, because i was reminded of all those who gave their lives, not just an hour... just before i left, a young man walking by me stopped, took his ipod ear buds out and asked "so why should we pray for China?"....to which i replied "there are Christians who are persecuted because they proclaim that "Christ is the Son of God...."
so there you have it, day three...hundreds more called to prayer...and the words of a Saint of God from China passed on to a young kid in West Hartford....
Monday, August 11, 2008
...so i woke up today to the sound of hard rain. we've been having it on and off for days now. i rummaged around to find my gortex coat, hat and pants so that i would stay dry while i called the traffic to prayer. by the time i left the rain had let up, so i grabbed the nearest bag i could find (my BOB diaper bag), stuffed my hat and pants into it, tied my coat around my waist, picked up my sign and walked the three blocks to town. i laughed on route thinking "here i am calling my town to rattle the gates of heaven and change the course of history and all i've got is a diaper bag and a sign....but hey, God has used less in the hands of others...
before i head out each day i spend time in prayer and reading. Ephesians tells us to put on the whole armour of God and i know that the battle i enter into each morning on my little corner is against powers and principalities that i can't (nor want to) see. i finished a sermon i started reading yesterday preached by Charles Spurgeon on Gospel mission. i was deeply moved by his words referring to why his generation didn't see the powerful works of the Spirit as in days of the Apostolic Church
..."Again, we have not enough self-denial (emphasis his); that is one reason why we do not prosper. Far be it from me to say aught against the self-denial of those worthy brethren who have left their country to cross the story deep to preach the Word."
...and the Spirit led me to Job 19 this day..."I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." and Romans 12:21 "do not overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good."
i it was flooded with a sense of affirmation. armed with the Spirit and Word (and gortex) i took my place with more assurance and power than i had felt before...i had no one yelling today(although i expected it) as i stood and prayed in the power of the Spirit...i had a few honks, thumbs-up, peace signs, hands clasped and raised in the form of prayer. Two school buses drove by and the children saw a man of God in the midst of town begging people to humble themselves in prayer...my neighbor across the street passed me as he walked to the bus and we had a great talk...an old youth group kid from 14 years ago waved out her window...a friend who i used to work for who owns one of the largest pet stores in the state rolled down his window and gave me a smile and look that affirmed the fact that yes, i looked like a follower of Jesus, i will stand and proclaim you wherever...it was something else
...i stand and pray there for an hour (give or take a few minutes) and this puts me in mind of the saints of old and acts of self-denial...so my arms got sore. i thanked God for the chance to suffer in a small way for Him and prayed for those whose arms were sore because they were tied and in prison for the Gospel...i was wearing my "church shoes" and as my feet began to get sore i laughed at myself; my shoes were made for show, not work! i prayed for those whose feet were sore because they walked for days to preach the Word.
...so day 2 was over and i left my very public place where i had proclaimed Jesus and went to Starbucks for an egg sandwich and Iced Americano....deeply touched by the Christians in China who hide behind doors and feast on the Bread of Life...
...of these the world is not worthy
Friday, August 8, 2008
"Back in the day" i might have been spotted walking around a parking lot or at an intersection near where the Dead might have been playing holding a sign that could have read "i need a miracle" (which in deadhead language means "i don't have a ticket do you have one you could sell me hopefully really cheap or better yet free!").... or I also might have been found walking toward the United Nations building, the Capital or the White House carrying pieces of poster board that may have had words on them relating to various current political actions...perhaps i had long hair (or any hair for that matter), a tye-dye shirt and some hippy-type necklaces...
Well.....things looked a little different this morning as i began a call to prayer at one of the busiest commuter intersections in the upper-middle class town where i live. I was at an intersection holding a sign like "back in the day" ... but my hair was thin, my shirt was black and my necklace was under a clerical collar....
... but my sign still asked for a miracle...but not for me, for someone else...and not for the Dead, but for Life
i stood there not in protest, but asking a request...asking for people to rattle the gates of heaven on behalf of people who are being oppressed....politically, spiritually, emotionally, economically, mentally....my sign simple ready "please pray for China"....
i had no agenda...only a burden that the Lord placed on me, one to call people to pray. i woke up freaked out over having to do what i said i was commented to doing.."what if the police come, what if people ask me why i'm there, what if the newspaper shows up, what if this is really not from the Lord and it's just my idea, what-if, what-if, what-if...so the first 15 minutes i was sweating and shaking...
so i stood their holding my sign. i sang in my head ...'i stand amazed" ...which kinda took my mind off of what i was doing...then i caught myself and started to pray for all the folks who went by and for all those in China...one car full of kids yelled at me, a city bus driver rolled down his window and mocked me, two cars honked and gave me a thumbs up...but most of the people drove by and looked, a few smiled...it seems like the masses didn't know what to do with a priest who stood in the center of town with a sign asking people to pray...
i was changed....i've asked kids over the years to gather at a flag pole and pray at their school in plain sight...i've told people to seek to please the Lord not man...i've preached about getting out of the boat and stepping onto the waves....i've done these things before, but never alone like this morning....i felt really exposed, yet wrapped in the blood of Jesus...i didn't have the anger of my youth, but the peace that surpasses all understanding...
so what happened? a bit of fear is gone from my life....and pretty much my whole town knows where i put my trust...and i'll be there each day for the next few weeks...asking people to join me in asking God for a miracle....and the only reason i'll be there doing this is because He has done one in my life
stand with strong knees..
in the Master