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Posts Tagged ‘Homeless’

I listened to the two young men talk about the events of the previous week. The lines of support versus the lines of protest that had formed outside of the Chick-fil-A restaurants across our nation. I knew one of the young men well. “Brent” is a good Christian man having just turned twenty and is working his way through college. The other one “Nick” a recent college grad about twenty-two, a new employee at my physical therapist’s. I have only met Nick a couple of times, but he also seems like a very nice, intelligent young man as well, and both of them have a great work ethic. 

A television on the wall was cued to the news, where they were still doing stories on the event that had begun as a challenge by the Arkansas governor to garner support for the company and it’s owner to believe as he wishes. As they both gazed at the television, the young newcomer Nick said “All of those Christians have no problem going out to buy chicken in support of this, but you sure don’t see them all at the homeless shelters in those numbers do you? I mean think about it, if all those Christians around the nation came out at once to help the homeless, and did it every day, there would be no homeless.”

I was enraged inside, I wanted to point my finger at him and tell him to stop judging the followers of Christ of the world, and where did he even get that just because those people were all in line, they were even all Christians? Are Christians the only ones who enjoy the food at Chick-fil-A? I think not. I wanted to refute him in every way I could, counting off the reasons why he was wrong to make such a statement, but in the end, I said nothing. I said nothing because I knew that what he said was right. Many of those in line “were” my brothers and sisters in Christ, and they were merely trying to support another brother in Christ who had made a bold statement in a politically correct world, and come under fire for it.

But I must also stop and consider the way I look at people who are in high positions, celebrities, politicians, Etc. who use their positions of authority as moxie to make a point. I don’t like it when celebrities use their status and considerable wealth to influence politicians by whispering in their ears, the Sarandon’s and Streisand’s, Turner’s and Trump’s. Therefore how can I say it is okay for someone on the Christian right to do one thing that I think is wrong for someone on the opposite to do. I think that if someone is good at being an actress, they should act, or an actor, the same. If someone is a great real estate investor, then that is what they should stick with, as well as a Christian brother who sells chicken. Am I saying that someone should not be bold when expressing ones beliefs? Not at all, I have no problem with what he said, I admire his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, but in doing so, flak is just something to be expected.

The thing that bothered me the most about what this young man Nick said was that I knew he spoke the truth. It made me wonder why he would think such things about us as Christians, had he been around people who were more talk than action? Had he been interested in becoming a Christian and been turned off by our hipocrisy? I knew deep down that what he said was correct though, we are eager to stand up and “tell” everyone what we believe. But haven’t we been doing that since the beginning of time, isn’t it time that we begin to “show” people what we believe by our actions instead?

I cannot speak for anyone else, only for myself. And although I actually like the chicken there (not a huge fan of the waffle fries though), I did not go out and buy chicken that day in support, I was working all day. I am also not much of a bandwagon guy either, preferring not to jump in and swim with the rest of the salmon just because it seems like the thing to do, every time I have done that I always seem to be eating a heaping helping of humble pie afterwards for one reason or other. But I “do” know that I could spend more time giving to those who have a need, and I do know that we as followers of Christ could make a “HUGE” impact on our world if we were to offer up time and money to those in need in the same way that we did in standing by the owner of this company and his right to express his belief in the biblical model for marriage.

There will always be controversy, there will always be platforms, and there will always be the poor as Jesus has said (Matthew 26:11). But our ministry is not one where we will win souls to Christ by standing on a street corner and preaching to those who pass us by, those days are mostly gone. Our ministry will best be seen by our love, kindness and generosity to those who are struggling through life. Nick, the young and idealistic man who recently began working with my physical therapist convicted me. He gave me a view of the Christian conglomerate through the eyes of the undecided, or possibly those who have even already rejected our way because of our willingness to wear our faith as a badge of “pride”, rather than to greet those in need with a washbasin and a towell (John 13:1-17).

So, does this convict you in the way that it does me? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with anyone who went out and supported this brother, but it shouldn’t be the foundation from which the world sees us as Christ followers. When they think of us, the lines at the Chick-fil-A should not represent what we stand for to them, but rather as servants of Jesus and those He referred to as “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).

As always, may God bless and keep you!

JFT

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Okay folks, looks like we’re two for two, we have a pair of Linda’s that left a millstone behind recently, so this past post wasn’t all bad. Still waiting to hear how our little Scottish author is doing and if she was able to drop her millstone of angst, we shall see. I really like this new format of action, and I think we should continue it for a little while, and see where it leads us, so I already have challenge number two cooked up in my head, and yes, this is also an interactive challenge, but don’t worry, you can’t get voted off the island or anything, but you can grow your faith.

Now our leader, the one we follow, none other than Jesus Christ, He was actually a homeless guy. Now don’t take that the wrong way, I don’t think He spent too many nights under bridges, and I don’t think He pushed a shopping cart. I also know that He was a gainfully employed carpenter until He went on the road with His ministry, but after that, He had no place He called home, He took refuge with whoever offered it. He felt kinship with those who were homeless; he felt kinship with those who did without. He felt kinship with the forgotten; He called them “the least of these”.

The challenge this week begins in prayer, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me where He wants me, and that he will place me in the path of someone each day that I can share the gospel with, and help me to have eyes open to those who need help. That is my prayer, I am not asking you to pray my prayer, but for you to ask the Holy Spirit to help you spot someone this week that you can help. When you see them, that’s where the Holy Spirit will come in, you won’t question whether they are going to spend it on booze, drugs, whatever. The Holy Spirit will give you the answer, and you trust Him, and follow His leading, without doubt.

It can be the woman in the drive thru behind you, and you pay her bill when you pay for yours, it can be the single mom with her little boy in the restaurant booth down from you and your family, it can be the young girl with a flat on the side of the road who doesn’t know what to do and can’t reach her dad on her cell phone. During the next seven days, everyone who reads this blog will have multiple opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. Oh and when you pay for someone’s meal, please do so anonymously. Matthew 6:2-4   “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then you’re Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

To be encouraged is indeed a grand thing, to be closer to God a thing to be desired, and that relationship is greatly bolstered through the love that we show to one another. Let’s hit the streets and make a difference for our Lord, and I want to hear about it, more than last time, I only got one new comer, and I know there are many of you around the world who read this blog, so sound off, I want to hear your stories of making a difference for the Savior. God Bless-JFT

Oh, P.S. This is an addendum to the original note, or addition, however you would like to think of it. Next time you run up to the store, and you are buying groceries or gas, and the clerk asks you if you would like some cash back, say “yes please”. To date, I have not found one homeless person here in Phoenix that takes debit, or a check for that matter. Cash always comes in handy for those times when we feel the tug of the Spirit. Now go get em’ team!

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What is my most valuable worldly possession? Worldly rules out the soul, because the soul is an everlasting possession, and for the sake of this discussion, I am questioning what is of greatest personal importance here on this earth? Personal importance cuts out things like God and family, so now we are down to base things, base things we own and have control over. Of those, what is my most important?

Many would argue that if God and family were cut out, and you don’t own friends then the material goods we accumulate are of some importance, so yeah why not that? Or maybe a job, a career, or a hobby, but in the end, we know we only have limited control over that, so it is really not a possession either.

Okay, now it really comes down to only a couple of things then, your portfolio right, your net worth monetarily. Yes, many would consider that important, but many people would say there is something even more important than money in this world, and that is our time. For a long time I thought time was my most valuable worldly possession, far more valuable than money and possessions, because when people see a need, many times they are willing to throw money at it, but few will offer their time.

Time is indeed a very valuable commodity in the world today, and since the beginning of time, but I have discovered something that trumps time and tops the all time most valuable personal worldly possession list, and I found it in the most unlikely of places.

It is unseasonably cool in Phoenix, sweater weather for us as I get off work at five ten in the morning and head home. The thermometer in my truck reads 53 F as I drive home in the dark. I pass a place I have passed hundreds of times over the years, and as always, they are there. There is a small crowd gathered at the front door of the blood bank, waiting for it to open so that they may sell their blood.

I have driven by here when it was 25 F and there were fifteen people waiting in the dark to get in and offer up their blood for a price. I have heard many people say “they are drunks, wino’s, druggies, and they just need a fix, but I don’t believe that is always the case. Whether it is or not, it doesn’t make those people any less children of God because of a weakness they must feed. What do you have left when you no longer have any money, and nobody wants what time you have to offer them, you only have your blood, the life force that God gives us to power our own bodies. The fact that these people are here so early makes it clear to me that this is all that they have, they are down to their last possession, their only thing of worldly value, and they are selling it.

I wonder how many of them are here early, hoping to get paid and then hit the grocery quickly, getting back home before a child wakes so that the child doesn’t know they were ever without food. I wonder how many of them are here to make gas money for the week so that they can get to their jobs to pay the rest of their bills. I wonder how many of them are completely broken people who just want to have the comfort that one more swallow of warm liquid will provide, and the pain that will be erased with its numbness spreading over them again. I wonder as I drive by in my warm truck.

Jesus knew the value of blood; He knew the value of each drop as He felt it leaking from His multiple wounds. He knew it was a gift He had only so much of, and unlike those who sell their blood to make ends meet, He knew He would not live to replenish His supply again. I also feel if Jesus had been in my truck with me the other day, He would have told me to hang a u-turn, and we would have gone back and met them. We would have first stopped and picked up some warm donuts or bagels and then hung out with them for a while, because they were His people, they were His kindred; they were “the least of these”.

Blood saved God’s chosen at the Passover, blood sacrifices were always a pre-curser to atonement from sin, and Jesus blood is what makes it possible for a wretched soul like mine to enter into the lowest place in Heaven. So yes, I am grateful that Jesus gave His most valuable earthly possession that I might get to live with Him one day, to hear His voice, to ask Him questions, to receive His hug. For these things, I am grateful!

God Bless-JFT

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I woke up this morning, after being in the cloud of a dream. The bright sunlight stirring me from my sleep into the present, no longer enveloped in the deep world of slumber. In my dream, I was still at home living with my parents, loved unconditionally it would seem by many, wrapped in the warm comfortable world of perceived security that life in that world takes for granted. That world that knows very little strife, that world not yet tested in its faith by the rigors of harshness that life can dish out.

I remember finishing high school, and having to decide which college to attend, based on scholarship money that was offered, curriculum, and of course, living conditions. I began my first semester at the private out of state Christian university feeling like a big grown up, out on my own, freedom to stay up as long as I wanted, go where I wanted, life was grand. I of course forgot that my folks were paying my tuition, purchasing me a meal and board plan, even giving me an allowance to buy gas and some entertainment, but otherwise, I was my own man.

It is cold this morning, before getting up, I pull the blankets tighter around my shoulders and marvel at their warmth. How nice it is to have the comfort of warmth at my fingertips. I think on to finishing college, a Bible major, my goal to be a pastor. My college sweetheart became my wife, and we began a meager life in a cheap apartment, where we loved our lives away for the first few years of our marriage. I began as an associate pastor, working with the youth, after all, I was the youngest guy on staff, who better to serve that area. It was great, I loved it, and my wonderful wife Molly supported me through and through. She worked side by side with me, having kids into our home, working as an aide to me without pay, I could not have asked for a better scenario.

When the twins came, Molly needed to stay home more, to be the mom she was required to be, and while I understood, I missed her dearly at my side. The church added more and more responsibilities to me as I passed the thirty year mark in age, I took up counseling couples who were in trouble themselves, and took pride in the fact that some marriages were saved. My daily responsibilities were great and time consuming, and the counseling was not fitted into my daytime responsibilities, but instead something I did after hours three days a week. It became common for me to leave at seven in the morning, and not return until after nine in the evening. It began to wear on my marriage.

Being a pastor, people do not consider you the same as if you are just another member of the congregation, they consider you a cut above, and they place you up on a pedestal. When they have a problem, they expect you to be there right away. They don’t consider that we have problems and issues just as they do, kids to drop off at soccer just as they do, issues to work out with their spouses just like they do. You are expected to be “on” all the time, you are expected to never falter. Heaven forbid you have a glass of wine with your wife, and someone sees you buying a bottle at the store, you would be labeled a drunk and run out on a rail.

I admit it, I got so wrapped up in being a good pastor, that I forgot to fill the love bank at home. I put everyone else’s needs above Molly’s and my needs and we took a back seat to the church. Molly tried to reach out to me, and my stupid answer was the same, “do you want me to leave the church”? Do you want me to leave the ministry for a regular nine to five job somewhere? I always put it back on her. What I would give for another chance at that, but that is just a dream like any other I have when I sleep, it will never happen. Molly and the twins left me when I was thirty-seven, I was thirty-eight when the divorce was final. She moved across the country to where her family lives, where she would have some support to raise the twins while she went to work. Last I heard, she was engaged to be married again, and I no longer have the resources to go see the kids.

Although I have a flourishing ministry now, I am constantly wracked with pain in asking what if. What if I had sought better balance in my life, what if I had told the church “no” when they piled on more and more. What if I had quit my job at the first sign of trouble in my marriage and gone into the private sector, realizing that a job out in the world doesn’t mean I can’t still minister, actually I would have had more chance to sow the seed than I did at church, where the work is more maintaining and encouraging. I would have had a chance to sow seed on virgin fertile ground, yet I didn’t. I held on like grim death to the church ministry, and my marriage died.

I am an outcast to the world at large now, but am known as a pastor in my community, one I serve in with happiness. God has forgiven my past shortcomings, and placed me where he wants me to be, to me a missionary of sorts to a people who needed one, and I am good with that. I comb my hair in my compact mirror, try to get things in order before they begin to arrive. Stowing my bed and going over the lesson I have prepared to make sure it is ready to deliver, a family arrives and asks if this is the church they have heard about. I welcome them warmly as they find a place to sit. Others begin to arrive, the regulars if you will, and one of the members brings up a new bottle of grape juice and a box of communion crackers. I thank him with a warm handshake that leads to a hug. As I watch, the church fully assembles, there are near a hundred of us gathered under this bridge as one of the members begins to lead the rest in a hymn.

We are the forgotten, we are the forsaken, and we are the homeless, yet we are children of God as are all other inhabitants of this planet. Some of our number battle substance abuse, as did some in my old church, many have similar stories to mine, stories of loss, stories that led to ultimate humility, stories that led us to be called “the least of these” by the Master, our Lord and Savior. I look at the scripture reference for my sermon today.

Matthew 8: 18-20,  When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.  Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests,but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  Have you ever thought of that, considered it for what it says? Jesus was homeless too, He made His home where He was, allowing those He taught to meet His needs.

So I ask you, have you ever considered this, what if you were called to be like me, to live under a bridge, to serve the homeless, to lose or give up all your worldly possessions, would you do it? What if you lost all of the “stuff” in life, and found yourself on the street, would you look for opportunities to serve the Lord wherever you wound up, or would your faith crumble like your wealth had? One simple statement Jesus made was this,

Mark 10:21 NIV  Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” What would you do if He said it to you?

God Bless-JFT

This post is fiction, based loosely on facts. There are many churches that meet around the world under bridges, in sewers and any other place of shelter they can find.

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Run, run, run! If this week had a theme, it would surely be that. I am off this week, as I am for one week each month. My schedule is difficult going between twelve-hour days and nights all the time, but the perk of it all is that I get a week off each month. Now, my wife works at a private Christian Prep. School, and this is their “craziest” time of year as they begin school tomorrow and they are trying to prepare for the kids. So, since I have free time, and they need bodies, I have been working for my wife this week.

Before I began yesterday, I had a couple of errands to run. I would be power washing the sidewalks and breezeways at the school, so I first picked up a power-washer and began to head over to the school. Knowing it would be a long day, I decided to stop and get a snack and an iced tea at a fast food joint. I entered and found something fairly healthy on the menu, ordered and then waited for it to come up. As I did, I looked around and noticed a man in a booth, he had a medium drink and nothing else, but there was something different about him, and I felt the first tug in my heart. He had snow-white hair and a matching beard and was wearing a panama style hat. He was wearing a light jacket, which was a bit odd, because after all, this is Phoenix in the summer. He sat there chomping ice and looking around, occasionally breaking out in a wide grin at no one in particular. He was right next to the iced tea, and as I filled my cup, the voice of the Spirit kept telling me I needed to interact with him. Okay I thought, but how, what’s my opener, how do I get started. As I puzzled over this, he looked directly at me and I said, “Hey, how’s it going”? He smiled warmly and said “good, and you”.

We chatted for a few minutes, and I asked him if he had eaten, he said no, so I asked if he was hungry and he said yes. I ordered three taco bell burritos and returned to the table. I handed the food off to him, thinking I was fulfilling the spirits leading, but the message that returned to me was “you’re not finished yet mister”. I stood and chatted with the man for a minute or two, but I felt led to ask if I could sit and have lunch with him, to which he said sure and waved to the bench across from him. I shook his hand, and he introduced himself as Cooper. We sat and talked, he told me he was originally from the San Francisco “bay area”, and he had lived and worked up the west coast. “Coop” told me he played guitar and drums, that he had gotten tired of a “fast paced” life, now he just carried around a backpack. He was eventually headed in the direction of Vegas. He then mentioned his faith a bit, and cited a couple of scriptures that inspired him.

Unbeknownst to me, a couple at the next table had been watching us. They came to our table and were on the brink of tears as they gave Cooper all the money they had, and told him that if he had a need, their church down the road would be more than willing to help. Cooper smiled and thanked them warmly. After an half hour or so, I said goodbye, shook his hand and left, grateful for the meeting and for being steered to him.

Later as I worked the power washer cleaning the school grounds, I kept thinking about Cooper and wondering what lesson the Spirit had led me to. I decided that it was probably several, but one that came to the forefront in my mind is that we are always being watched. Because Cooper didn’t stand out as a homeless guy, if I had I not spoken to him, the young couple would not have overheard, and wouldn’t have been convicted in their heart to help him. A spiritual butterfly effect of sorts.

By the time I hung it up for the day, it was eleven PM and I was physically exhausted. My worn out wife and I took off for home at the same time, and I decided to stop and get a Gatorade at a convenience store. As I exited the store, I noticed a large man pushing a walker across the small parking lot toward me, and lesson number two began. He was still quite a ways from me as he shouted out ”Hey, excuse me sir, you are a follower of Christ aren’t you”? I stopped and looked at him, probably a deer in the headlights look on my face as I said yes and nodded. As he approached me slowly I noticed his eyes were wet and slightly red. He said he knew I was before he even asked.

Now, the selfish me was thinking, “man, I just want to drink my Gatorade, drive home, shower and sack out”. But inside I heard that inner voice that comes from somewhere deep in my chest that said “you better be listening, this is important”.

The man told me that he was just released from the hospital, and his hospital wristband verified that. A week and a half prior, he had a heart attack and had nearly died. He was a single father, with two teen girls. They lived a hundred and twenty miles away, and he needed to get back home. He had somehow lost or misplaced his wallet, and all he had was ten bucks and his car was on empty. I began to feel the cynical inner voice questioning the validity of his story as the cynical voice was challenged by the voice of the Spirit asking, “Who are you to judge”? What he said next rocked my world.

He said that he had tried to call several of his friends for help, and wasn’t able to reach anyone. He was desperate, and had broken down crying, as his daughter had spoken with him on the phone and told him that there was not one crumb of food left in their home, and he didn’t even have enough gas to get there. He cried out to the Lord for help and the Holy Spirit spoke to him. It was placed on his heart to get out of his car, walk to the front of the store, and the next man who comes out the door will be a man of God. That man will take care of his need. Tears streamed down his face as he related this story to me, and goose-bumps broke out over my body as I knew he was speaking from his heart, verified by the Spirit in my own heart.

I told him I would no doubt help him, and then I asked him to wait as I returned into the store. For the second time in a day, I felt the Spirit leading me. As I mentally thought about how much I should decide to give, I knew I was being called to truly “help” this man.

As I waited in the store for the clerk to process my request, a young lady came up to me and asked what that man in the parking lot wanted, true concern etched on her face. I said that he just needed a little help, and compassion replaced concern as her eyes watered up, the second time in a day I had seen that same response. She then left and went out and spoke to him. I don’t know what she said, but she was gone by the time I got back outside. He and I talked for a few more minutes, and it turned out one of the friends he had tried to contact I knew. He then asked me if I would pray with him, right there in the parking lot and I said yes. So I placed an arm around his shoulder, as he did mine, and Michael and I went to the Lord.

Later that night, as I finally lay down to sleep, I reflected on the day’s lessons. I thought about the two kind-hearted people I had met today, and how I had left them feeling as though I was the one being blessed. It was a great last thought to the day as I drifted off to sleep. God Bless-JFT

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The young man sat at an outside table eating a burger with chips that were no doubt from our outside grill. One of the pastors named Sonny had been sitting with him for a while. Sonny was now gone, and the young man sat alone at the comfortable outside patio set beneath the trees. I sat alone, taking an iced tea break from working the parking lot while services were going on. It didn’t take rocket science to see that the man felt out of place as he sat alone eating his burger.

It is very humid today, but the breeze makes it nice, so I comment to him how nice it is outside to break the ice, and he agrees. We begin an easy conversation as I walk over and sit down across from him. His name is Joe, and he is from Kansas, although he has traveled around a lot. He has been on the road for a long time, and he is homeless. I learned the hard way a long time ago that homeless people do not like to be referred to as “homeless”, preferring to be referred to as “on the road”.

I ask him if he needs anything, or if he is being helped by the pastors, and he smiles, and says yes, but I doubt that they will be able to help me. Now this young man is very articulate, obviously educated and he speaks well. I ask him if there is anything I can help him with, and he sits quietly for a moment, obviously considering whether to open up. He has very clear light brown eyes, that are gentle and kind, and he looks to me, trying to decide whether to trust me, and then makes his decision.

I have a problem, and I don’t think the pastors can help me because the only way they could help me is for someone to follow me around for a while. He looks down, averting eye contact as he lays his hamburger down on his napkin. I sit quietly, waiting for him to continue, as he clears his throat and looks me in the eye. Well, you see, when I am walking around, traveling and such, a snake appears at my side and begins talking to me. Sometimes, it will be a rabbit, or a coyote, and they will just walk along next to me and talk my head off.

I don’t answer them, I try to pretend that they aren’t there, but after a while it gets numbing. You know it isn’t right, you know there shouldn’t be a snake walking along with you, talking to you, yet there he is. Or a rabbit, I know there shouldn’t be a rabbit, I know rabbits don’t talk, because they are just animals, yet a rabbit visits me regularly and wants to chat. He looks to me sincerely perplexed, searchingly hoping I have some answer for him, yet I realize quickly I am over my head.

I have met people who are insane before, but this man does not seem to fit into the same category with those I have met before. He understands the absurdity of what he has just spoken; yet he is still plagued. I ask him if drugs are a part of his life, and he says no, he did some years ago, but nothing hard. So then I ask the only other thing I can think of. How long have you been visited by these animals I ask. He says he began to be visited occasionally when he was a small boy, but the visits were far apart back then. As he grew older, they began to occur much more often. Now in his mid to late twenties, he has a virtual barnyard of talking animals that accompany him wherever he goes. He ignores them, but they talk-talk-talk, non-stop.

Joe then told me he was just very tired, tired of this. He thought that maybe if one of the pastors, or anyone for that matter could follow him, maybe they would see something he was doing wrong and tell him about it. He looks up at me with sincere hope as I look back at him, feeling more helpless than I have felt in a long time. Joe, I ask, what do the animals say to you? He looks me in the eyes again and says, they talk about God Jim, they talk about God.

Sonny returns as I sit staring at Joe, not knowing what to do, what I can possibly offer; yet wanting to help. Sonny tells Joe that he has a ride hooked up for him to get where he needs to go as Joe looks up and thanks Sonny for the lunch, and for going out of his way to help get him a ride. Sonny and the young man sit at the table waiting for Joe to finish eating, as Joe looks back up to me and says thanks for taking the time to talk to me Jim. I am speechless as I look back at him, nothing to offer, then it occurs to me. Joe, can I pray with you, that you may find your answers. Joe smiles and say’s “that would be great”.

I put my arm around his shoulders and we pray together, we pray that God will help him find the answers he seeks, that whatever message is waiting for Joe, God will guide him to it. I close the prayer, shake his hand, turn and walk away.  I know I can’t look back. I feel the lump growing in my throat already.

I know what to do if someone is hungry, you feed them, thirsty, give them a drink, if they need a roof, or clothing. I know that Jesus refers to them as “the least of these”, but what can you do here, what are the answers? There are none, sometimes kindness is all you have. I do have faith in God though to answer prayers, and the Bible tells us that we need to have faith that our prayers will be answered. So I am praying that somehow Joe will wind up getting the help and medication he needs to make the talking animals go away for good.

God Bless-JFT

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His skin is dark and leathery, a trademark of someone who spends the vast majority of his time out in the sun. It is a Monday, the temperature hovers around one hundred and ten degrees, and he is on the move, again. He has shoulder length mostly gray hair, laced with some darker hair, and appears to be about fifty. When we call out to him, he looks nervously about , wondering if I am friend or foe, then he sees we are offering cold water, his look of apprehension becomes one of desperation. He comes over to us, and happily takes the icy bottle of water. My friend asks him how he is doing, and he says what we have heard many others say, time after time, “I’m just trying to make it, to survive”.

The man leans on his shopping cart and eats the granola bar as though it is a prime rib dinner. I ask him if he is managing to stay in the shade, and he says no, everywhere there is shade, the police run me off, they say it is bad for the businesses. I look into his eyes and recognize a look that I recognize immediately, I have seen it many times before in the eyes of abandoned dogs I have seen at the pound. It is a look of loneliness and homelessness, a look of someone who has nothing left but a few precious mementos in a shopping cart, a look of someone who is low in spirit.

We greet another man sitting at a bus stop bench and offer him water and food, he accepts and then begins to speak, yet he makes no sense. He is obviously someone who suffers from mental illness and doesn’t have the resources to treat it. I think if Jesus were here he would want us to embrace rather than push away those who cannot help their actions due to illness. My heart aches.

We encounter a man on a bicycle who is also homeless and offer him the same, and he gladly accepts the water and granola, but stops at one bottle. He thanks us then tells us in a very clear and lucid manner that he is also a follower of Christ, and that he too is saved. He then tells us he has lost the path in his walk and really wants to get back on track. He asks where we go to church, and we tell him. We talked for a few minutes with him, and he was very encouraged that we took the time to treat him as a human, which is something that most homeless or down and out people do not get very often, dignity.

Many times when we see someone pushing a shopping cart, do we stop to take the time to look at them as a person, or an eyesore. Do we think about them as an equal in the kingdom, or do we just hope that they do not come to our neighborhood. I think if we took the time to talk to them sometimes, we would be shocked to find that they are not so different from us. Many times there is a fine line separating those who are on the street from us.

The homeless have been with us for thousands of years, and they will continue to be with us for whatever time we have left. I ask you to leave your comfort zone and help some soul that can no longer help themselves, show them love, don’t judge and offer them dignity and when you do you wash the feet of the savior.

Matthew 25:34-40

 

 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

God Bless and Keep You-Always

JFT

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