Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words!

There are people all around us who are in desperate need. Please watch this video and consider what part you would have in showing Christ's love to "the least of these".

Meet Freddie Wright...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ready For Freddie

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Can it be that we really have the opportunity to do things for Jesus as we serve and help those marginalized by our society? How incredible is it to think that if I take the time to minister to or simply serve someone who is in need that I am doing that for Jesus. I think if we were to orient our lives to a more biblical perspective we would find ourselves less burdened by the needs of those around us and more encouraged by the opportunities.

Our spiritual community has made a commitment to doing things for "the least of these", since that is one way specifically that we know that we are doing something for Jesus. There are a lot of things that we do in "church" today that make me wonder who or what we are actually doing them for. However when we do something for those in deep need there seems to be no question that this is done unto Jesus.

With all of this said I must admit that it is still easy to walk by, overlook and forget about the many needs all around us. For this reason we have decided to be sure to at least do one large project each year that engages our whole community in this type of service. This year we will take two weekends to help a man that we have been introduced to through a great ministry here in Jacksonville called Builder's Care.

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Freddie, the man we will be helping. Freddie has cerebral palsy and spends much of his time in a wheel chair. He lives in the house that he grew up in here in Jacksonville which now is basically coming down around him. I can't tell you how humbling it was to stand in his living area looking up at the large hole in his ceiling where water had recently been running through and thinking, "I don't know many people who would live like this or let someone they love live like this". That thought was followed by "this is someone that Jesus loves and surely He doesn't want him to live like this."

There is no way in a brief post to explain what it was like to meet Freddie and to know that I am a part of a community of people who are going to be helping to make a life changing difference for him. I know there are people who will say things like "but what good is it to help someone physically if you aren't preaching the gospel to them?" I would begin by suggesting that these people ask Jesus that question, since He told us to do it. Secondly, I would be sure to remind them that there are many ways to preach the gospel and words do not always have to be the first part of the equation.

Freddie actually already knows and loves Jesus, which makes his situation all the more humbling. Here is a struggling brother in Christ living with holes in his roof, no AC, sewage backing up into his tub...need I go on? Nothing needed to be said to him in order for the gift of our service to evoke genuine praise from his heart to God. We haven't even done anything yet and I have seen first hand the fruit of our offering.

I believe the impact this project will have on us as a community can be as powerful as the impact it will have on Freddie. I hope and pray that it becomes a catalyst in each of our lives to make us more sensitive to the needs that are all around us, that we often overlook. I have begun to see this already in my own life and it is both exciting and very challenging.

There is nothing like being on mission with God, especially when you know that the things you are doing are pleasing to Him. To some that may sound arrogant but I am just referring to the biblical truth mentioned above "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me."

Together, let's do more for Him...

(If you are interested in being involved in this project, it will be on Sat. June 14&21. Just check out for details)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Simple Reminder

In a world where so many people make so many claims and do so many things in the name of Jesus, I thought it would be wise for us to be reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John:

Galatians 1:1-8
Paul, an apostle-- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt.21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

May Christ always be the center of our lives, our ministries and our churches. May His Word, love and character be that by which we measure the fruit of all that would represent Him and bear His name.

Just a simple reminder...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Paul is a man who experiences joy even in the midst of deep suffering. He also is a man who asked God to take away his "thorn in the flesh" but God said His grace was sufficient for him. Paul is a real encouragement to me and he challenges me in my walk with God and the way I choose to live life. Paul is a man I met at Starbucks today...

Today I met some guys at Starbucks to talk about a few things, one of which was the current state of the church in America. As we were engaged in a lively discussion about where the American church is and where it is headed, we were interrupted a few times by an amen and a little encouragement from a guy sitting alone behind us. He was one of those guys you look at and you don't know what to think. Sitting alone, drinking his coffee and smoking a cigarette. Cowboy hat laid on the table revealing his bald head, complemented by his scraggly santa like beard. Anyhow, we had some brief interaction and then carried on our conversation for another half hour or so.

When we got up to leave I decided to go and introduce myself to the man sitting alone, his name was Paul. As I got close to him I noticed that his bald head revealed a large scar stretching from ear to ear over the top of his skull. I also noticed that on the front of his cowboy hat he had sketched three crosses, a large one in the middle and a smaller one on each side. He began by telling me that he heard us talking and that he agreed that God is everywhere waiting for people to come to Him. He said they called Jesus a wine bibber just because He went where the people who needed Him most hung out.

Then Paul started to tell me his story. How he retired from the Navy, became a truck driver and is now retired from that as well. However his recent retirement was not voluntary. He shared with me that about a year ago he started doing some strange things and his friends and family became concerned about him and urged him to go to the doctor, which he reluctantly did after some time. After a CT scan the doctor realized what was wrong, he had a tumor about half the size of my fist on his brain. In November of 2007 the doctors removed as much of the tumor as possible. He learned that untreated this type of cancer is usually fatal within three months.

Paul looked me in they eye and said "Most days I'm ok with it, today is one of those days". He went on to share that although he doesn't understand why, and he still has many questions, the Lord has given him a sense of peace through it all. He also said that they recently discovered that the tumor is growing again. I asked him if they could do any more surgery and he said that it depends on what direction it grows. "If it grows to one side they can go back in and trim some of it away. If it grows to the other side, it's up the Lord how long I have."

Paul got a little emotional as he talked but it was amazing to me the sense of peace that this man had. It was obvious that he had a real relationship with Christ, but he was the kind of guy that most Christians would walk by and not say a word to, let alone think that he might be a brother who they would one day spend eternity with.

I asked Paul about his relationship with God and he said "Do you have some time, let me buy you a cup of coffee." I didn't accept the coffee offer but I had some time, so I sat and listened to his story. He told me that his brother was a pastor and that he visited his church one time about twenty years ago and he has never been back. "Those are some of the most judgmental people I have ever met" he told me. Then he went on to share how in the course of conversation with a friend he expressed his faith in God, although he didn't attend church or know that much about Him. This friend gave him a Bible and said well if you believe in Him then you really should read this because it's His Word written to us. So Paul did just that. H read the Bible in about three months and one night about four AM alone in his truck, he cried out for Jesus to save him.

At some point in the conversation Paul asked me what I did and I told him that I was a pastor. I shared with him how we have this small community of believers who are just trying our best to love God and show that love to others. I told him that we want to experience a sense of connectedness with God and one another, kind of like family, to which Paul said "I'm still looking for mine". I invited him to come sometime and just check out the community of believers at Journey, to which he responded very positively. I hope Paul comes, I hope experiences the love of Christ and maybe he will find acceptance among brothers and sisters who can lift him up and encourage him in his journey.

I don't know how to explain what God did in me today during this brief encounter. I just know that He was there and through Paul, God revealed things to me about His love and His nature. Before I left Paul said to me "Can I pray for you?" I thought "that's the pastor's line" but I simply said, "please do and let me to pray for you as well". So we prayed for each other, wiped our eyes, shook hands and departed.

Paul has learned something about life that I have yet to learn. It seems that he understands on a deep level the words written by another Paul "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

God give me the faith of my brother Paul...