Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I haven’t posted anything on here in a while. There are plenty of reasons (excuses) as to why I haven’t, but I think really it boils down to priorities and focus. Over the past year or so as I have written on here it is clear that I am not a fan of allowing my job dictate what my priorities are. However, that is exactly what has been happening over the last few months. Maybe that happened because I stopped reading as much (Bible or otherwise), or maybe I just got a bit lazy/burned out. Whatever it is, I still don’t like it. I know I need to get back to where my beliefs drive my priorities and actions. I know I need to live an elevated life that rises above this planet and trusts in God instead of jobs. So, the next several posts will be focused on that thought: living an elevated life.
I think the real reason I want to write about this elevation idea is how I have felt over the past few months. I knew something was severely off, but I mostly just ignored that feeling, kept my head down, and did my job. I still was busy with church work. I still did some of what I should be doing at home. But, it was just that, doing. The motivation wasn’t what it should have been. In fact, I am pretty sure there wasn’t a true motivation. It really was just getting it done for the sake of getting it done. Yuck!
Now, I want to get out of that funk. I want to get back to the excitement and passion I saw when I reread several of these posts from last year. And it all comes down to living with a God-centered motivation. That then drives my priorities, desires, and actions. I think that’s the simple definition of what I am calling the elevated life: living in a way that your actions and priorities reflect a God-centered life of loving and doing for others. This is then juxtaposed against the culture-centered life where moving up the ladder and getting stuff is the priority.
Alright, as with most things I want to be sure I am grounded in the Bible with my thoughts. In that mindset, I started thinking about all of the examples of Biblical characters who strove for that elevated life. It’s easy to come up with some of them: Abraham, Joseph, Noah, Moses, Joshua (and Caleb), Job, Elijah/Elisha and most of the prophets (especially Hosea), David. Of course all of those are old testament folks, so how about the New? Well, Paul (not Saul), Peter, James, John, the Centurion, Stephen, Phillip, Barnabas, Onesimus, Timothy, and of course Jesus. Those and many others are great examples of living an elevated life in the face of the distorted culture. All of those, except for one, also are examples of striving for an elevated life and yet still being prone to failing. So, they really are good for us to learn from. Then I also want to look at examples in the Bible of those who didn’t strive for the elevated life and instead ran after the world. Adam/Eve, Cain, Lot, Sarah, Jacob, King Saul (and several other Kings of Israel), Jonah, Israel as a whole actually. Add to that Ananias/Sapphira, the rich young ruler, the mom of James and John, Saul (before Paul) sort of, and maybe the easiest example, Judas.
To be sure, there are many more examples of each. And some of the people in those lists could at times be on both sides of the fence, which is why I really want to spend some time on this idea. I can easily see in myself times where I have aligned to an elevated life and plenty of times where I didn’t I want to learn from these examples how to spend more time elevated closer to God. I also want to more easily recognize those times when I am not.
With that, I think I will start with a little dive into King Saul first. The guy started out so right, yet ended so far off the mark. What happened there? How can I avoid that same pattern? Who can I look to for help in calling me out? And can I even manage to put aside the pride that seemed to blind the King?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Compass is Broke!

It is pretty weird when I go to Chicago. That city is the only place I have ever been where I get completely turned around. No matter which way I think I should go, it ends up the opposite of the correct route. Seriously, even when I look at Google Maps, or better yet, Bing Maps and see the path highlighted for me, I STILL end up going the wrong way. Again, ONLY IN CHICAGO. Anywhere else and my bearings are right on.
Well, I had another one of those times in Chicago this week. I now KNOW the right way to get from the hotel to the office. It still felt totally wrong though. Everything in me was screaming I was headed the wrong way, but I just pushed on and continued down the street that experience had taught was correct. Then I reached my destination. Whew! Fortunately, after that I just needed to hail a cab to get to the airport and return home to Atlanta where my sense of direction miraculously returns to normal.
Then, on the airplane I got back into my current book, “The Christian Atheist” by Craig Groeschel. I read the chapter that talks about “believing God, but pursue happiness at any cost.” I have already spent a ton of brain time on this thought myself. I already came to similar conclusions as Mr. Groeschel too. But, just having the real world feelings I just had in Chicago, the idea really took hold. Then, I read the Proverbs Craig points to, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Pr. 14:12 and 16:25 too). Now I’m not saying my out of kilter sense of direction in Chi-town could have led me to die, but that awkward feeling…it’s just something to look out for.
See, we are in a world that isn’t our home. We are out of place here on earth waiting for a time when we will be in our true home with God. Until then, we are outsiders (happens to be one of my favorite songs by Need to Breathe) in this world, and we should feel awkward here. When we feel at home, when we feel comfortable, when we feel happy, it’s time to be a little more cautious. Hmm, did I just say “we shouldn’t be happy?” Sort of, but not really. It’s fine to be happy, but what is it that is making us happy? Am I happy because I am within God’s will and serving Him? Or am I happy because of what I can accumulate, build, create on my own? Or even worse, am I happy because I think God is serving me?
See, to be pursue happiness, is to pursue something other than God and always leads us into prideful sin. I think this is why Proverbs 16:18-19 correctly warns against pride and aligning with people who are filled with pride. It always takes us away from God.
I guess I can boil these thoughts down to this: I should not be comfortable here. I should never feel like I have this world figured out. I should always feel just as I do in Chicago – backwards and upside down. If the world says I should go left, there is a really good chance I ought to go right if I want to get to my Godly destination. It will often feel wrong, but our feelings aren’t what should be leading us. God, through His Word and His Spirit is what leads us. Our feelings listen to the world; our prayers and submission to the Spirit help us to listen to God and His will.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Feeling a Bit Torn

It's not often that I feel the need to justify my feelings/beliefs prior to laying out an issue, but I feel this one demands it. I know at least a few of the people who read what I write on here, and I KNOW you will mostly be offended by what I say this time. Truth is, this is not an easy issue for me to take a stand on either side of it. I truly am torn here, but I find myself siding with hope in a Big God who can do HUGE things.

I also need to say another thing as far as how I read the Bible. I indeed believe in the 100% truth of the Bible as God's Word. That includes both the old and new testaments. That said, I believe the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament as our foundation for living. If you want to argue that, fine. Just know I take Jesus at His words when he says "you heard it was said…but I tell you…" Seems like to me Jesus intended to supersede the Law. Paul also indicates this all through Romans, as does the author of Hebrews.

Last point of justification before getting to it: I am first a Christian, second a husband, third a father, and then (maybe fourth) an American. The interesting thing in that list is the only one that is NOT by my own choice is my nationality. That comes simply due to the fact that my parents lived here when I was born. So, my national pride (which is actually pretty darn strong) is a far cry from being as important as those other three items in the list of what/who I am. Over and above all of those things in that list is this: I am a human being, created in God's image just the same as all other human beings.

Ok, enough with all of that. Here it is. I am literally sad and depressed right now watching and listening to the reactions to the news that Bin Laden has been killed. I am thrilled for the people who lost friends and family on 9/11 and for all of the military who have sacrificed their lives (not just those who have died, but all of them) that they have some closure and a feeling of justice perhaps. But to celebrate this event, the death of a human being, I just cannot join in with that. I go back to something a said a while ago, as a Christian, I am supposed to love even my enemies. You can't tell me that if I love my enemy that I will jump for joy and sing songs when I hear they have been killed.

And what types of things does the Bible say about this? Well, in the Old Testament (hmm, odd I should start there), I think we hear God say vengeance is His (Deut. 32:35). Then listen to what Paul says about that exact verse in Romans 12:19-21, "Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead leave room for His wrath." Really, the last verse in that Romans text is even better, "Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good." As always, when you read verse 21 in context, it clearly promotes a loving, grace-filled response to those who do us wrong. Sadly, I think our current celebratory reaction, and I am sure the justifications for that response are also going to be rooted in this same verse taken OUT of context where it can be altered to seem that the "good people should destroy the evil people." This just isn't what the text says.

As hard as this is to hear, or believe, every single person on this earth is created with the image of God in them. Even those people on whom we ascribe evil, even they possess that image. I believe that God can and does call the worst of people to Him. The apostle Paul is probably the best example of that. Paul himself points out how evil he was before God got a hold of him. And now, we consider him as one of, if not the greatest Christian in history. So, even if you find yourself happy and celebrator about the killing of another human being made in God's image, think of how much better you would feel if that same person miraculously fell in love with our creator God through the love of Christians, of Christ. We have taken that hope of another lost soul being found and reunited with the creator and killed it with this action. My belief is that in a Christian view, this killing of hope, this taking of vengeance on our own is not in line with a Christ follower's calling. For this reason, I am glad only in this: I am much more saddened by lost hope for another saved soul than I am happy in the death of a terrorist.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I have watched as many of my friends have gone through some serious faith struggles lately. And, sadly, yes I do mean I watched. I have also had plenty of times in my life where I have dealt with faith struggles. For me though, I have always had the fortune/blessing at those difficult times that I was able to go on a church retreat to refocus. Unfortunately, now that I am in my middle-age years (defined as older than 20's and younger than 60 in my dictionary, sorry if I offended you), those types of retreats are much too rare for me. And, from what I can see in my friends' lives the same need for retreat exists in a big way.

Another sad reality is that I believe my friends and I that face these times of doubt, or times of waning faith find our own version of retreat today. The bad part here is that we are retreating away from God instead of into God. We get so comfortable in the surroundings of our culture that when we feel discomfort in our spiritual life, we seek comfort by diving further into culture leading us to retreat from God. Maybe this is a way of avoiding the struggles or facing our doubts. Maybe it is even worse than that, and our retreat from God is truly that: a choice to leave God, even if just for a short time. The worst news there is while we say "for a short time," this often gets out of control and becomes our new way of life. We find ourselves in a lifetime retreat from God.

Instead of retreat AWAY FROM God, away from friends who support us, and away from the very faith with which we are struggling, we actually should recognize that these are the times when MORE is needed, not less. More God, more Bible reading, more prayer, more communications with friends (Christian friends), and MORE GODLY ACTIONS. These are not the times for retreat, at least not retreat from God. It is time for retreat from self, from distraction. Those doubt-filled moments are the very times when God can make Himself most present in your faithful actions. Take those weak moments and trust God to fill you as you simply walk in faith by serving someone else.

This is one of the hardest things for me to do. It's so hard to talk to God when I am wondering if He even makes a difference anymore. But, when I do, He ALWAYS answers in a strong way. These are the times when I get new ideas on how to serve a hurting world. These are the times when compassion wells up in me (a rare thing for me). These are the times when I see and feel the Holy Spirit in and around me. When I am weak, He is STRONG! Take Jesus' lead in this and follow His example in the Garden. Jesus had a rather big faith struggle wondering if the Cross really was the right thing, but He talked to God and faithfully served others, all of humanity in the single, most critical event in history. What kind of impact can God make with you and me in our weak moments if we just hold to faithful obedience?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Different Rules for Me and You

So you and I (assuming we are both Christians) are supposed to follow a different set of rules than the rest of the world. I think I have covered that general thought in several previous posts. I have to bring up one specific rule that Christians should follow based on current things going on in my sphere of influence. It appears that living in our current US-based legal system has caused a lot of people to become dependent upon human judges and the legal system to settle all matters of disputes. Paul, and Jesus too actually, rather flatly show that should just not be the case with Christians. Look at Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. In these verses Paul actually says that a Christian who sues another Christian in a "civil" court is already a moral failure. That is the wrap up of his reprimand of this action, which he in the earlier verses shows his astonishment (negatively of course) that believers cannot find even one wise person they can trust to arbitrate disputes.

Paul also makes another point in this text that is actually what I take as the crux of it. Shouldn't we, as Christians (if we truly are), simply accept an injustice done to us and forgive the person? After all, I am pretty sure EVERYONE has cheated God, has done an injustice to God. If we are to be judged according to how we judge, then those of us who rush to court against each other might want to be a little concerned.

Jesus takes on the other side of the matter though in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:25-26. He puts the burden on the person being taken before the judge to settle matters prior to issues getting that far. So, take what Paul and Jesus say and you have BOTH side of the dispute covered in the Bible. No matter which side you find yourself on, we have the Biblical answer of how to deal with it. And in BOTH cases, Christians are supposed to be above the human courts and deal with disputes within a Christian context.

Why the big points from Paul and Jesus on this? Well, I think it is simple. God forgives us for the worst of the worst, we should likewise forgive others, especially other Christians. Also, whenever Christians obligate other Christians to a legal system, we enslave Christ's church (each Christian has a part to play in the church) to worldly judgements that are often at odds with Christian views. We force Christians to be judged by non-Christian standards. None of that comes to a good conclusion, whereas a Christian/Biblical approach in love and forgiving spirit leads to the building up of the church.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Setting the Faders

I have run sound at a couple of churches. I really enjoy the technical aspects of manipulating the sound board and the feeling of accomplishment when everything sounds perfect. It takes a good ear, a bit of knowledge, and a strong back-bone to do this though. You will NEVER please everyone in a church congregation with the sound of the band. Still, there is an art more than a science to setting the faders (volume controls) to get that mix just right. And when you get that perfect mix it doesn't matter what ANYBODY says to you, you KNOW it was right.

I think this might be the approach I need to be taking with regards to the Holy Spirit. For most of my life I have really thought of the Holy Spirit more of something external to me. My churchy friends always talked about having "Jesus in your heart" and "being led by the Holy Spirit." So, I think I just interpreted that as the Spirit being "out there somewhere." Even then, I don't think I can truly say I have had too many moments that were even Spirit led moments, much less Spirit Filled moments in my life.

What happens that keeps the Spirit from filling me? I now believe it's all of the other things around me (outside of me) that I turn up way too much. I push the faders up on the fun stuff, the cool stuff, as well as the selfish things. I don't think I fade the Spirit out really; I just leave that Spirit volume right where it is – static. No more, no less, just fine where you are Mr. Spirit. I also don't acknowledge that He is INSIDE me. If I would at least acknowledge that for real, I would realize that the slightest adjustment to the Spirit's volume would make a HUGE difference in the mix of my life.

The great thing about mixing a band with vocals, guitars, drums, bass, keys, etc. is that I get to decide what is most important at whatever point in the songs. I can bring up the lead guitar for the rockin' riff, or soften the background voices with a little reverb/delay to make the beautiful harmonies sing with perfection. I have realized now that I have that same control with how the Spirit works in my life for me. I can turn Him completely down; I can crank Him up to the max. I can drown Him out with career, movies, books, computers, even family and think all is good since I didn't change the Spirit's level (just all the other stuff). But, as it does with a sound mix, bringing everything up to the same level just makes it REALLY bad. Some things just need more volume than others. And I know the Spirit needs the focus.

Only with the Spirit turned up am I able to keep myself from abusing the beautiful gifts God gives me. Only then, filled with AND led by the Spirit will I overcome my selfish nature that always, always puts the gifts of God ahead of God Himself. It's time to crank up some Spirit volume and fade out some of the other junk on my board.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ignoring the Humanity of the Bible

In the Bible, the book of Esther is all about human choices. If you read this story outside of a Biblical context, ignoring the common "God working in all things" motif Esther clearly shows, I think you would experience an endearing story of a protagonist struggling to overcome her fears to save her people from an overbearing, jerk of a king. You would fall in love with, and desire the same attentions from the mentor and encourager, Mordecai. He would show you what faith, love and support really can inspire in your life just as he did for Esther.

But let me look at some of the humanity in this book of Esther. A king, as many in positions of power do, flaunts his power and wealth in a huge party. The king demands of his wife, the Queen to share her beauty with his good buddies as they drink way too much. The queen, in a righteous stand against the king's wrongs, refuses to indulge him even though she knows it could mean her own life. The king banishes her for her disobedience. So, in short, a selfish man thinking much too highly of himself treats a woman as if she is of no value beyond her body. When she proves her real value and morality, he sends her to the streets without a thought. I take it he probably did this in a hefty rage of anger. I think if this story was real life today, it would just be another Hollywood fan-fare plastered in the media. And, like that Hollywood life, God is likely not to be easily seen.

In Esther though, we find an alternate side of humanity. We find a woman who against her instincts makes a tough choice. She makes perhaps the toughest of choices. In full view of the recent events of the queen being banished, she too goes to the king outside of the normal, approved ways. She basically tells the king he did something really stupid. Esther has to know this could mean she will be killed or banished to a life of nothingness, but still she chooses to stand up to the king. She risks her safety, her palace life, her position of power, and puts it all on the line for what she believes is the right course of action for the people she loves. Isn't that a beautiful picture of some of the greatest human traits? Love, self-sacrifice (or at least the willingness to do so), BOLDNESS. And you have to know that all of that was at odds with Esther's fear, desire for the good life, security, and comfort. How would I fair in that situation I wonder? I don't think I would have had the boldness to stand up as she did knowing all I had to give up.

Of course, the book of Esther IS in the Bible, and we DO have the Biblical backdrop for the story. So, Esther is all about humanity making good and bad choices, but it is also about God's working for us even when we make choices against what He wills. Esther found herself in the position she was in at least in part because of the bad decisions of a king, good decisions of a queen, and good decisions of Mordecai. Had it not been for those human choices, I don't think this story exists. Had the king chosen to hold his temper and not even ask his queen to entertain his drunk buddies, perhaps the book of Esther is not even in the Bible today. But, he did, and it is. We have a perfect example of our bad choices being managed by God to bring His ultimate good. We also have great examples of just how horrible and wonderful humanity really is.

Last thought on this little Hollywood Bible story: Why do I think (actually I know) I would make the same stand as the queen or Esther? Maybe it's because I don't have that Mordecai type character to encourage me to stand strong. Maybe it's because I just don't have as much desire for the righteous over the desirable. Whatever the human reason though, I truly believe it is really about the lack of acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit in my life. I mentally know He is in there trying to work on me, through me, for me, but in my heart I don't really give credence to His presence. I pretend He isn't there. So, even if I don't have Mordecai physically there to warn me, remind me, encourage me, I have the Spirit of God INSIDE me! I just have to listen and pay attention. I also need to make sure I don't let other voices squelch that Spirit when He moves and directs me (more on that next time). I know Esther acknowledged Mordecai, and she listened to his direction and guidance. It's high time I started doing the same.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Draw Me Close

The day at my church today was one of those days where I could really feel like God's Spirit was moving in the place and in the people gathered there. It's a day I know those who were there were thankful to be there. It's also one of those days that makes me a little sick to know that so many people that NEED to hear or feel God weren't there.
While the message today really wasn't on a topic that normally speaks to me personally, my pastor said one thing today that really hit home. The topic was fasting (and now I am looking more deeply into that too), and when it came to explaining some of the "whys" of fasting the only thing I heard (he said more) was that it was about pulling yourself closer to God and NOT pulling God closer to you.
That one thought kind of takes one of my favorite songs and pushes it way down on my list. That song is "Draw Me Close to You." I still love the thought of being pulled close by God, but as I thought about the pastors words today I wonder how accurate that thought is. As I think back through the Bible, I see that when people are drawing closer to God, it is God asking, prodding, even begging us to come close to Him. I cannot think of any instance where He forces us to come to Him. I also can’t think of anywhere when prayers are offered to God asking Him to come close to us. Maybe in some of the Psalms this is there, but I need to go back and look to be sure. Don’t get me wrong here, there are plenty of prayers for God to “be with us,” to “fight for us,” to “redeem us.” But to come near to us? I just don’t recall those types of models in the Bible. Stay with me here; I know this sounds off.
Does that mean we should not want God to be near us, with us? Of course not! What I take from this is that we need to take some responsibility for our nearness to God. Is He willing to help us? Certainly. However, the help He gives us in this may not be exactly what we want. Let’s say I ask God, “God please bring me near to you.” What I am asking in that request is really, “God, I want to feel you in my life. I want to KNOW you are here in this with me.” I think God is speaking back to me and telling me “I am here. I am in you and all around you. I have my arms embraced around you.”  Yet, everything I do and all the things I have around me still yell in loud voices that He isn’t there, and drown His words out. I think He is saying at least one more thing to me, “I am right next to you always, but you just aren’t choosing to see it.” As is the case with the salvation plan, so is the case with our intimacy with God, our relationship with the Almighty. We have our part in it.
Fasting is one way we CHOOSE to see how close God is to us. It is but one way we can CHOOSE to bring ourselves closer to Him. He is unchanging. He is ALWAYS near us. It is just a matter of whether WE are near Him. If we instead of asking God to be near us will start asking God to show us what is keeping us from coming near to Him, THEN we will truly feel Him, see Him in our lives and begin to live as if we know He is always near us. Fasting, Bible study, prayer, and other Spiritual disciplines are part of the answer He has already given us for how we can come closer to Him. So start being disciplined. Then see where that leads you. Be careful though; it might lead you right to the Cross. That is where He Always is, and we best be humbly thankful for that in our constant failings.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I spent the better part of last week in Toronto at the annual corporate launch event for the company I work for. As is always the case at these things it was full of attempts to motivate and inspire all of the employees to go out and strive harder, be better, go farther. And, of course, the expectation from all of this is that we go out and make the company more money. Don't get me wrong; I do believe my company on the whole really does care a ton about the people we employ and everyone else for that matter. We even have a non-profit org that helps provide schools, houses, and technology equipment across the world. Still, I wonder though, can I reach my potential at a place like that?

See, as with all other areas of life I am supposed to have a different view of my potential than a corporation or of anyone that doesn't have Christ as their center. But when I look at myself, I usually look at my potential in terms of career, money, and the like. It is a rare thing that I actually consider my potential in the view of Christ. What does that mean for me? Well for starters I believe it means my view of my potential is VERY, EXTREMELY small! Through my eyes, my flawed human eyes, I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of potential God has put within me.

Not to get too sidetracked, but according to Wikipedia potential energy is the energy stored in a body or in a system due to its position in a force field or due to its configuration. Think about that for a minute in terms of God and the Holy Spirit. If I claim to have named Christ as Lord, then I should have the Holy Spirit within me. With that "configuration" or "force field" I have to think that my potential is in effect limitless/infinite. Therefore, I have the potential (since the Spirit is in me) to be used in the most extraordinary ways. To think instead that my potential on this earth is all about getting that next promotion or making that next buck is to say that I don't care about what God really wants from me. I care more about what my company wants from me instead.

As Paul says in Ephesians 3:20, we have a God "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." That is real potential. That is what allows one person to be used to truly change the world. That is the potential that allows hearts to be changed from selfish ambition and fear to sacrifice and love.

What is my potential? I don't know that I can really answer that very well right now. I just know that I no longer want to think about my potential in the limited, this world view any longer. What is your potential? I would argue that it is MUCH greater than what you give yourself credit for today. I would argue that you have a REALLY long way to go to even begin a journey to reach your potential. That is, of course if you believe in the God Paul wrote about. If we will just seek out our REAL potential based on our REAL potential energy, the Holy Spirit in us, then we will lead a world to the Cross.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sheep or Goat

There are plenty of Jesus' words in the gospels that should rather quickly bring a little reflection to everyone who claims to be a Christ follower. One of Jesus' stories that hit me lately is the story of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25:31-46 (don't keep reading this until you go read that – I don't talk about the text too much in here, but you need to know the whole story for this to make ANY sense). There are really two points in this text that stand out for me. First is the obvious one that if we are disciples of Christ, we WILL serve other's needs simply because it is God's will that we do it and because the love of Christ is in us we can't help but. The second point is a little hidden within the context of the first. Let me look at an example or two of "whatever you did for the least" to set the stage a bit. Then the second point can be uncovered.

Driving around just about anywhere in Atlanta (or any other major city) it doesn't take too long to find someone standing on a corner holding a sign asking for help. They may be asking for money, work, food, something. What are my thoughts when I see that person? Is it, "Hmm, that is Jesus standing there in need of something – let me help him now," or is it more like, "I don't have any cash anyway, so no reason to even role down the window – just don't look at him and I will forget he is there in about half a mile"? Maybe those thoughts are too extreme to be the real thoughts, but what about this? That needy person, a "least of these brothers" is an immediate opportunity right in front of me. God has provided me with an immediate opportunity to serve HIM by serving this needy person. What action do I take? I take the "practical" action. I excuse myself from serving him because my kids are in the car. After all, I can't put my kids in danger if this is some diseased or crazed person, right?

Or take this example. It's a cold night and I am actually DOING something to help the needy. I am taking coats to the homeless. I give out my last coat and start back toward my car to head to my nice warm home for the night. Then, I run across another homeless guy off by himself, shivering. What are my choices here? Ignore him, go buy a coat and bring it back, tell him where a shelter is, or (the unthinkable in today's world) ask him in my car to come home to my family. Of course, I am going to go with one of the first three options in that list. In truth, I probably will take the "go buy him a coat" option. I mean, really, I gave him a coat. That is DOING something, right? That is the practical response.

Those practical thoughts, the "can't put my kids in danger" and "I gave them coats" lead to the deeper/hidden second point in this story. And, I think it reveals more about us and our real beliefs than the simple "are we serving the needy". That second point is this: when we take practical actions/responses, what does that say about our trust/faith/belief in the almighty God we claim to serve? It seems to me if I choose the practical response I am saying I don't trust God to have my best interest in play at that time. Maybe there is some truth in that, since God's view of "my interests" is far different than my view. But seriously, if I am unwilling to immediately ask a stranger (read the Matthew 25 text) into my car or home out of honest concern for my or my family's safety, then isn't that a lack of trust in God to do His work? Yes, this is one of those places where MANY people will call me crazy or say I am WAY overreaching on this point. Well, maybe, but as I have said in earlier posts, Paul and Jesus himself point out the world will think His followers crazy. So, maybe before you say that too loudly, you might want to REALLY check yourself.

Let me get back to the example of buying the coat for the homeless guy. That really is a great thing to do. By no means do I mean to say we should/can't do that. But, what if that person has disappeared by the time you return? What if the cops made him move on, or worse yet something bad happened to him while you were gone? Did you not just walk away from an immediate and clear opportunity to serve a "least of these?" Is that person's wellbeing not at least in some way your responsibility as a Christian? Did you not choose practicality or safety over God's will? Ouch.

Are those "practical" and "safe" responses what we see when we look through the gospels and Acts? No, we see in those stories of reckless abandon of earthly life to simply help those in need. We don't see the disciples or Jesus saying "go write a check" or "go buy them a coat." We see Jesus and the disciples act immediately when God presents opportunities to serve. We should as well. When we truly, fully trust God and have HIS will as our purpose, our fear dissipates, love consumes us, and we serve others whenever, wherever and however the opportunity arises.