4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I remember walking down the streets and the residential buildings taking in the scenes around me. Homeless people sleeping right in the middle of the side walk. Hopeless, broken people shut up in their hotel rooms where depression was felt so strong. Drug attics, alcoholics, and prostitutes were out and about in the afternoon sun going on with their daily lives. I had volunteered at a Rescue Mission in the heart of the San Francisco Tenderloin. It was my second time volunteering there and I had prepared myself to see the worst of the worst. I was walking down the inner-city streets distributing food and praying for people when I had the opportunity. The church was right next door to a strip club. You couldn’t miss it as you walked by the church. At one point, a bloody faced, man who just got out of a bar fight walked right up to me and looked me straight in the face. I couldn’t help but feel something eerie and disturbing as he approached me. He murmured something obnoxious and walked off. I remember praying for people on those particular streets that day and feeling the brokenness and utter hopelessness that enveloped the tenderloin in San Francisco. My heart melted as I watched a grown man try to hide his tears after he asked us to pray for him to get a job so he could support his family. It broke me to see such brokenness, and irritated me to see so much darkness in one area.
We drove down the streets of Santo Domingo, the capital city of The Dominican Republic praying for all the prostitutes on the side of the road. We were told that The D.R had become a major hub for sex trafficking and was now full of under aged girls selling their bodies for whoever wanted to engage in their services. Girls who couldn’t be older than 14 or 15 were standing on the streets corners waiting for a customer to drive up and lure them into the car. Every year, girls were being exported to other countries to be the sex slaves of the foreign predators. As we drove down the streets we were told horror stories of girls being sold by family to brothels and the underground sex industry. At one point, we got out of our van and walked a street notorious for the exploitation of women and children. I couldn’t help but notice young girls in their teens engaging with older, Caucasian males that were obviously from another country. It was an unforgettable experience and made a permanent impact on everyone from our van.
These are only two of my outreach experiences that have left a mark on me for the rest of my life. As I go back, and revisit those memories I can’t help, but have an overwhelming sense of distaste and rising anger for the injustice and brokenness I encountered. The more I experience and live my life, the real world, the big, broken, and bleeding, real world is opened up to me. I see people caught up in addictions, in lifestyles, and life-draining relationships all just to fill the void they have in their hearts for a Savior. Even the people who seem to have it all together with their nice houses, great paying jobs, and expensive cars are in need of something more. If you read in between the lines you will notice that they put on a façade to cover up their emptiness and insecurities. All this translates into nothing, but a need for a Savior.
It is an irrefutable fact that the world that we live in is in need of a Savior. It is a place of darkness and broken people searching for answers. Turn on the local news or entertainment and you will see obvious signs of humanity running from God. With greed, poverty, war, famine, and social injustice prevailing everywhere it is no question that people need an encounter with Jesus. Jesus said that He came to give us life and that we can have it more abundantly. His death and resurrection made it possible for us to have life. He also gave us His Spirit to know His unending Love, to guide us in our walks with Him, and to experience power to be His witnesses.
If Christ came to give us life, then why is there so much death? If His cross made a way for us to experience life and if the power from His indwelling Spirit makes it possible for the hearts of people to experience His fulfillment and His Love then why is there so much darkness? Why is there so much brokenness and corruption if Jesus said He came to seek and save those who were lost? Why does it seem that people are turning everywhere, but God?
God loves those around you and I as well as those on the other side of the world (John 3:16), and doesn’t desire for anyone to be separate from Him (2
Peter 3:9) even when they are turning to everything but Him. Understanding that the people around us are searching for more, the answer is clear. The solution starts with us. It starts with people who have encountered the living God and His freedom. The only way for people to know God’s love is if His people, who have experienced His love, love those who don’t know His love. Romans 10:14-15 explains, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Here the Bible clearly says that if we are not the ones to step out and make an effort towards the culture around us then no one will. He has decided to use us as His instruments to reach out to a lost and dying world. In Matthew 28 Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is more than just a request. This is a command and, yes, the ultimate calling. Command? Does that mean we are disobeying God, when we aren’t reaching out to those around us and pursuing the lost? After understanding that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, that He has chosen us to be His instruments in the Master Carpenter’s plan, and that He commissioned us to go out and make disciples, I am lead to believe that we are out of line with His will and hurting His heart when we don’t reach out to others.
Jesus, however, took this concept a step further even before He gave us this significant calling. In a conversation with the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Now this was a brilliant revelation, because it sums up the entire Bible into two statements. Not only that, it sums up our every move, our every action, our every idea into two statements. This includes the idea and the calling of outreach.
A great leader in my life once communicated this profound idea to me that changed my life. He said do not put the Great Commission before the Great Commandment. Let me tell you, this rocked my world. This turned my views of outreach upside down. It changed my motives and it changed my heart behind the outreach I did. We are to Love God with everything that is in us, and out of that Love for God we have an unconditional Love for people. People are not numbers to be saved. They are people to be loved. This is how God calls us to lead.
This is where we are faced with a decision. There is a world that needs us. Are we going to go on in our daily lives with the goal of living for ourselves? Are we even going to think about all the people around us? If we are to make a difference we must answer the call of God to be leaders in a world that needs true leadership. This is a call to more than just leadership. This is Kingdom Leadership. Going beyond the finite social endeavors and selfish humanity to love people and lead them to the Kingdom of God.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
God has blessed me so much. I have been heading up a couple of projects at my church that have been rewarding beyond anything I have expected. One of them was overwhelmingly rewarding today. Over the last couple of years God has given me opportunities to minister to the homeless in my community. I have developed several relationships with local citizens who are living in poverty. This has been a huge tug on my heart. To invest love and relationship to the outcasts of the Napa Valley. The Lord has laid on my heart some projects and ministry to put into effect for that specific area of our community. In time and with prayer they will be reality. One of them has been to organize a shuttling system for the homeless community and others for them to get to church. So many people don't go to church because transportation is such a big road block for them. But God won't let that from keeping people from Him. He will always make a way. Because of His time and His planning a need has become evident to do just that, organize a shuttling system to pick up several people from a local transitional shelter in our town. I didn't initiate it. In fact, I didn't go beyond a brief conversation of counseling about it with a couple staff at our church. It was amazing. From the inspiring preaching one sunday from one of our pastors a man's heart was stirred to reach out to the shelter he was staying at. He rallied a group who didn't have transportation who stayed at his shelter. On top of that, there was a group of 3 individuals, two who walked, who stayed a nearby homeless camp in our city. So through emails and phone calls I arranged to get a hold of a larger car than I have and I shuttled in several people from the shelter to my church. During that service at least half of them gave or recommitted their lives to Christ. It was a dream come true for me.
That was last week. Over the last few days I have been working with staff and willing attendees of our congregation who committed to picking some of them up. We have had a great response from our congregation to reach out to the homeless community. We shuttled in 10 homeless or transitional living people from the shelter and surrounding area. It was such a beautiful response from both the congregation and local homeless. God is truly blessing this direction we are going in.
The most important part of it for me was during our amazing worship. I was playing guitar up on stage and I looked out into the crowd of worshipping, hungry people. I looked out and saw a specific young man with hands raised high and tears filling up his eyes. I was introduced to this person before from some previous homeless projects I had worked on. He was my age. He was young. Poor. Broken. Last week He came up to me to receive Christ as his Saviour, and I led him in the sinners prayer. It was so beautiful. Another party in Heaven was taking place for a heart won to Christ. As I talked to him more I heard a story of a broken past and an alone young man. He was the grandson of a pastor. His sister died, his father died, and now his mother was on her death bed. To make things worse he is having to stay at a shelter, for no obvious family is around to help him. My heart breaks for him and his situation. The image of him worshipping and pouring himself out to God in his brokenness will forever stay in my mind. Pray for my friend. He is going through a tough time in his life.
This is only one of many stories that were at our services today. Many of them worse. Jesus asks us to reach out to the least of these. He says that if we give a cup of water to them in His name we are doing it for Him. When we reach out to the broken we are touching a special place in Gods heart. I can't wait to see the thousands of people in Heaven that turned to Christ because of the kindness of a stranger. As a body and as tools of Christ we can be so effective if we die to self, make ourselves no better than anyone else, and reach out to those that other won't reach out too. Let us all get to a special place in our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves that we are willing to put our selfishness down and associate ourselves with the socially outcast, a homeless person, or maybe a mentally unhealthy individual. Maybe its hanging out with senior citizens that are visited by family only on holidays and are left alone and forgotten the rest of the year. It could be a prostitute in an inner-city, gang infested nearby community. Whoever it is the heart of Jesus is to love everybody, especially those who nobody else loves. Let us have the eyes of Jesus so we can see what He sees. Let us grab the heart of Jesus and stick it inside our chest, so we can love like He loves and touch His heart.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Last night was such a different night for me. I was sick, and was sleeping downstairs with the fire and T.V on. Something inside of me was so strong. It was a fire. It was deep. Something inside of me wanted to change the course of our world. I don't understand why I was so emotional this particular night. Maybe because I was sick and drained, but I was crying so much the whole night. I couldn't bare to see the world where it was, with out feeling something so deep in me. It made me cry. Several times. I have huge dreams and aspirations for the Kingdom of God. I know I must go through process before I see some of it happen. Yet, I will not wait around. I am going to stay busy, doing something for God, while I go through that process. I wish it would speed up, but I know that process will build my character to sustain me when I get to Gods promise. I want to change the world. I want to make a difference in America and overseas. What God has been putting in my head and heart is almost too big for me to comprehend. And it requires me making preparations now and taking action soon. I don't have time to waste time on social human endeavors and finite selfish humanity. As I wait and grow I will be moving forward no matter what...
Monday, October 12, 2009
My world in color, from behind these eyes you will see
This love asunder, left in shallow humanity
To love is to break, to break is to hope, to hope is to love again.
Aimless pursuit of the blind and the breakable.
This wirlwind is too much for a lonley heart to fight.
Until love reached down to love the unloveable
And kissed the bloody scars stitched tight
Now love is left on my lips
In my hands
In front of my feet
Will shallow humanity get the best of me
If love was a melody, I wish I would be able to hear it.....
where the broken widow cries
a hungry childs sigh
the prostitutes lonly night
the begging attics eye
If love could choose to love, then would it?
If hope could choose to hope would it?
I would hope that hope would still hope
I would love that love would still love
But even still thats not enough
The hope in out hearts
The love on our lips
as bearly grazed the broken tips of
WHAT WE ARE
Because 96% of my generation is going to Hell
Because 2/3's of Zimbabwen children have aids
Because 75% of my world is in POVERTY
Because I haven't died..........
as my Savior died
Because I haven't lived.........
as my Savior lived
Because I haven't loved..........
as my Savior loved
I want love to penetrate this scared, cold, broken heart
I will fight to let love, love though me.
Love Your enemies
Love Your friends
Love Your neighbor
Love knows no end
Love the hurting
Love the weak
Love the broken
Monday, May 5, 2008
Finally, I am in California...beautiful weather, trashy girls, expensive gas prices, congested traffic.....how can it get any better than that. Honestly, I love home though. I never realized how blessed I was till I moved away from home. Especially, to live in the part of Cali that I do. Its amazing. The beaches and piers, the sweet down town, the places and theme parks near by where you can get your blatter merked by a roller coaster. I don't want to brag about my home or be vain and stupid, but I will openly voice my extreme contentment with where I live. You never know what you got, till its gone. I realize after living in Springfield for almost a year, how good I have it and how blessed I am to have a home in California. I wish all my new friends that I have made this last school year can come and visit me. Then they will finally notice that the West is the Best. Its nice to finally not be an ethnic majority in my state of residence...