Monday, August 21, 2006

No More Park Bench

This won't be long...or so I hope. I need to keep working on the message for sunday, but I had to take a break.

So, Eric and I moved out of the church and into the four-plex. Things are good, but I do miss that park bench. We do have a nice little sun room beside the kitchen with 5 really big windows to let in plenty of light, and that's been my favorite place as of late, but it's just not the same. It's alright though, cause I still get to see some of the downtown folk here and there.

Tonight, being Mon, was our "food pantry" night. We typically have anywhere from 20-35 downtown people come in for a hot meal, and the volunteers from church either serve food and drinks, or simply eat and talk with them. I got to sit next a guy named Anthony tonight. Anthony's probably in his 40's somewhere. I don't know a whole lot about him, except he's lived in Leavenworth his whole life, and his folks still leave here as well. Anthony lives in Cody Plaza, which is kind of a large apartment building for persons with disabilities (mostly). Actually, a large portion of our mon. night crowd comes from there, or are friends with folks there. I don't know all of Anthony's issues, but he shakes a lot. He said it started a while ago, and when I asked if it had been a couple years, all he said was it hadn't been that long. Either way, however long it'd been, he really hates it. It makes it difficult for him to eat, and he can't pour a drink or pick things up without dropping or spilling them. He said he might get to go to the doctor this week and see if they can't help him.
We continued talking, and he asked if I played guitar. I really wasn't sure where this question came from, cause Anthony's never been to our church before. Regardless, I told him I did, almost knowing where this was going to lead. Sure enough, Anthony's next question was if I'd ever taught anyone. I grinned, knowing we'd reached the conclusion I thought we would, and told him I had tried to teach a couple kids. He said he'd like to learn, which I thought interesting, considering he was well aware of the Parkinsons like shaking that was even going on right at that moment. I told Anthony if he promised not to tell anyone else, we'd go downstairs after he was done eating, and I'd try and teach a thing or two on my guitar. He sorta lit up while trying not to show how thrilled he was about this.
Eventually, Anthony finished his food, and a couple of people boxed up some extras for him to take home. I took a fork and carved his name on the top of his styrafoam box so no one would take or throw out his food, while we traversed downstairs. I turned the lights on, and came back and grabbed my guitar. We both sat down on the edge of the stage, and I showed Anthony a "G" chord, and handed him my guitar wondering what he would do. He pressed down a couple random notes with his fingers, and plucked the appropriate strings without looking, indicating he'd at least played a guitar before, and most likely was capable of at least plucking out a melody line. However, with all the shaking, after about two minutes of forcefully attempting to create music, Anthony handed the guitar back to me and said he was shaking to much. He asked if I could play any Christmas songs, cause someone taught him how to play some on the piano a long time ago. I told him I couldn't, but might know something else he knew. He couldn't come up with anything, so I begun to strum and eventually sing "Amazing Grace," hoping he would be familiar with that one. He was, I tried "I Could Only Imagine" next, and he blurted in the middle of it "That's a country song!" I laughed and agreed.
Some time had gone by, and I asked Anthony if he ever went to church. He quickly replied he hadn't, but could, if I wanted. He'd melted my heart long ago, but this one did it for sure! He then added that he'd like to get a lot of prayer for his shaking. I asked him if I could pray for him right then, and he said he' like that. So, I put my hand on his trembling back and began to pray for him. I really didn't know what to expect. I was honestly hoping that God would give him peace, and calm the nerves, and he would take a deep breath, and stop shaking right there. I knew Anthony wanted it to, as I could see him adjust his hands and arms in futile efforts to quell the vibrations. So, that's what I prayed for. However, to be brutally honest, I wasn't really feeling all that full of faith at that particular time. I was hoping God would do it, and knew He's fully capable, but I think I was lacking at the time. Anthony seemed to pause in his shakes for a short second, and I found that to be an appropriate time to stop and talk with him. I got to share with him about my family and what God had done in our lives, and what he's capable of, but sometimes he has his own plan that's different from our own. I shared with him about my brother David, and how it didn't seem fair with what he went through, but how he remained faithful, and is right in line with where God wants him. Anthony just kinda sat there and listened with am intruiged look on his face, and in the end said he would come sunday.
I don't know how it came up, but at some point he told me he wanted to be a bowler, and that he enjoyed bowling. I told Anthony I enjoyed bowling too, but was horrible at it. He just laughed and then I think did all but jump up when I told him we would have to go bowling some time, and that I'd like that. He eagerly nodded, as I looked for the next mon I wasn't working. So, it's set right now that on the sept 5th, after the food pantry, Anthony and I are going to go bowling on fourth street. I told him he'd have to remind me, even though there's a reminder set in my phone, otherwise I'd forget. He assured me he wouldn't, and he'd remind me the sunday before...

I first want to make sure it's known that the story's I write here aren't so that I hope people will read this and think of what a great person I am or anything like that. I read a shirt the other day that should be my motto. "U Suck. That's why you need Jesus." And it's the truth. I myself am weak, sinful, and broken, and anything good that comes from me is only a testimony of God's incredibly kindness and greatness!

2nd, I want to make a point about something else. We had a board meeting after church last sunday, and we discussed all the financial matters and some ministry area's, and plans for this and that, and the food pantry came up. Someone had questioned the effectiveness of the ministry, and wanted to know how much financial resources were going into this. Several people chimed in, and stated their dissagrement, and we all agreed that nothing more than a very small amount of finances actually went into this. Dave made a very good point as well. He said that regardless of what it cost, it was effective, and was showing the love of Jesus to these people... I walked by last sunday after everyone else was gone, and listened to Dave talk to one gentlemen about releasing shame, and accepting the freedom and forgiveness that Christ had for him. These things are priceless! First off to see hungry people get a hot meal, and fellowship, and the feeling that their loved, but secondly to see God move through others volunteering, and watching these people come to church, and get prayer, and be free from addictions, and get in the work field, and to see their lives restored! That's worth it all!!! And all of these things have happened to several people in this group alone!


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Encouragement for the day...

Col. 1:16-23

"Christ is the head of the church, which is his body. He is the first of all who will rise from the dead, so he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actinos, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don't drift away from the assurance you recieved when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the wolrd, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it."


Thank You Lord for your wonderful kindness and faithfulness. Nothing compares to how great You are!

New park benches...

Well, back here again. It's the same bench for now, but I'll get to that later.
I got to sit here the other day with Douglas for a bit. It seems I've seen him around quite a bit more lately. He seems to welcome my company with little hesitation now, which is a good thing. You see, with Douglas, he's always been open to a hello, good morning type conversation, but he would shortly wander on his way. It was visible with little difficulty to see that he didn't really trust people. That as you sat there and asked how he was, that he could tell that most people really didn't care, and he might be right. So anyway, as I continue to intrude on his bench territory, we get the opportunity to talk more frequently, and every time, the conversation is a little longer. Sometimes, we're even comfortable just sitting on that bench together, not really saying anything, the way two old friends might. That you don't have to have conversation for fear of an awkward silent moment or something.
Some things I've learned about Douglas recently...
He hasn't had a drink in 6 months, and I believe it! He looks so much better than he used too. He also goes to the Salvation Army church services on Sunday mornings! I hope that he is beginning to understand salvation and God's love and mercy. Hopefully, God will open the doors in our conversation to get a little further in depth into these things.
So, I was sitting there with Douglas for probably 45 min's or so, and after a bit of a silent, but not awkward, moment (lol), I decided I would go for a walk. You see it had been a bit of a boring day, and I knew I had far too much energy to get to bed, despite it was beginning to get late. So, regardless of the dangers of walking in leavenworth at night, I went for a stroll. However, I was smart enough to stay south of downtown. To do otherwise is really not that bright (don't be surprised if I do it some day though.) So, I walked east 3 or 4 blocks to the Riverfront Community Center. It's titled this because it's east edge banks the Missouri River. I then walked two blocks south to a small walking track that goes maybe a mile along the rivers edge. I began to walk down the track, but was quickly dissueded as I stared at a roadblock in the path indicating construction ahead. So, I stopped right there, and looked for a comfortable place to sit. To my suprise, not too far away was another park bench. Now I know all of you are gasping and covering your mouths in shock thinking "surely he's not going to cheat on his park bench!", but that's exactly what I did. I sat there at about 11 pm on a Sun night, enjoying the slight breeze, and staring peacefully at ol' muddy mo. Mo's grassy banks sloped slowly down to the waters edge, and from there the rippled currents took control of the scenery. In a steady, never ending flow, the moons rays swirled and faded as the water it was once reflected in passed down the winding channel.
In the background I could here a strong "WHOO WHOO" drawing towards me, as a train approached on the tracks twenty feet behind the path. I sat and visualized myself running along side the train and jumping on and riding it across the country. A scene I have played out many times in my head, but was quickly brought back to reality as the train grew closer and the ground to which my bench was attached began to tremble and shake, and my eyes witnessed the tremendous speed and power of the iron beast as it passed by. I quickly decided if I was to ever embark on this adventure, I'd have to find a parked train.
The whole experience was serene.
So, you might ask why I'm at my regular bench, as opposed to the bench at Mo's edge. Well, contrary to my expectations, the breeze at the rivers edge wasn't nearly as strong as the breeze downtown. Also, the path bench was not very well lit (mind you there was a light directly above the bench, but because it's a park, the lights go off at 10 or so), as my bench downtown is. Which would make reading my bible and blogging a rather difficult task. Another slightly degrading aspect is that because it's so close to the waters edge, that bench gets flooded with bugs.
So, in the end, there's no bench like home.


Thank you to those who prayed for my conversation with Mark. It went very well, and he's very excited to see what God will teach him in Texas.

A passage I shared with Mark, and one of my favorites...

Phillipians 3:12-14

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."

Great passage. In conjunction with Jeremiah 29:11, be encouraged that God has a wonderful future in store for you.

It's starting to rain, so off I go!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Days of Our Lives on a Park Bench...

There you go does have a nice ring to it though.

So, I haven't been able to come out to the bench all that much recently. Been pretty busy, and also, I was on my 3 day, which means I'm pretty busy at night, and I don't want to get up that early in the mornings. However, I worked yesterday, so after I got off this morning, I got my bible, and came out to read.

I was talking with Kat the other day about how much I love coming out here and reading, and how peaceful it is, and she was totally taken back at the idea of anything in downtown leavenworth being peaceful at all. It is almost unbelievable. When I normally think about downtown leavenworth (and maybe this is only because of my work experiences), I think of drunks, crack ho's, and the occasional shopper. There's really nothing peaceful about that. We're also right on the border of northern Leavenworth, which the definition would include murder, stabbings, shootings, extreme poverty, drug abuse, etc... So, I myself am amazed that there is place of such serenity hiding right in the middle of it all. But it's true. It's almost as if sitting in this one spot, that you're not really in Leavenworth at all, and maybe that's why it's so No, really though, there is always a good strong breeze, and it feels more like I'm sitting somewhere in San Diego, California rather than the northeast corner of KS. I think the only thing that's missing is the sound of sea gulls squawking and the dull roar of waves crashing on the beach in the backround. I think I hear it my mind regardless of whether it's really there or not. I can completely visualize this bench in the middle of the pier, and I can gaze off to the left and see the end of it spilling over into the vastness of a deep blue continent stretching farther than the eye can see.
So, that's mentally where I am...

I really didn't run across any of the usual's this morning, however, I did see Quinn at the dinner on Mon. night. He had brought 3 of his neighbors girls with him. They were very nice and well behaved kids, but quite hungry I might say. Turns out, Quinn watches out for something like 8 kids in his neighborhood, and brings food back for several families in his neighborhood. Some of the ladies that work the ministry know him quite well, and are amazed at his compassion to those around him.
These girls actually attend a church not too far down the street from us. I told Quinn he should go to church with them on sunday, or feel free to pop his head in our doors. He shook his head and said "nu uh," with a mouth full of food. He really wanted nothing to do with church, but maybe he will in time. If nothing else, we're follwing God's commands to take care and feed the poor and homeless, and hopefully he'll see the love ofr Christ in that as opposed to condemnation.

So, as I was saying...I didn't run into any regualrs this morning, but there was another odd occurance. As the city garbage truck drove by collecting trash from the bins, two kids (who couldn't be any more than 13 & 9) run by with fists raised in the air hollering something at them. It really spooked the guy riding the tailboard who normally jumps off as the truck stops and grabs the trash. He nearly jumped off as the truck was still moving! I thought to myself "that's odd," as I couldn't help but stare at the mischevious youth as the came running down the street towards me. They ran shouting and hollering utnil they were directly across the street from me, then they stopped, looked at me, whispered something to each other, and then came gallavanting across the street, fists still raised high in the air, jumped the 2' flower garden seperating my bench and the street, and plopped down on either side of me. I could clearly see now that both were wearing masks made of duct tape, and I couldn't help but laugh and play along. The very quickly went about explaining, neither one ever completing a sentence while they took turns berrating my still waking ears, how they were Leavenworth's super hero's and they were out to stop crime. Then they quickly jumped up, pumped their fists in the air one more time, and they were off. I would've explained to them that it's far too early in the morning for crime in leavenworth, and that it's all still passed out drunk on the floor right now, but I don't think they would've heard me anyway. Oh well...still one more question though...what were two kids that young doing up running around downtown this early in the morning anyway!???


This is a side note away from the daily bench adventures...

If you could seriously pray for my friend Mark, I would greatly appreciate it. All I will say is he's going through a VERY tough time, and could really use God's strength and encouragement to get through this. Please, this isn't one of those yeah, lets do that and then forget about it deals...Please, right where you are, drop to your knees, bow your heads, whatever, but this guy REALLY needs the support in prayer. Pray that God will put his power to work very strongly in Mark's situation. Thanks,


BTW...I forgot to add that I'm going to meet Mark in KC on Sun (he lives out of town), to talk and pray with him. Please pray that God will speak through me.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Body piercing and the occasional beer

Today's been another grand day. I really am loving living down at the church. Being downtown just gives me so much more exposure to people I never would have had. That park bench is the best!

I didn't have any particularly interesting bench stories today, but I didn't get to spend too much time there today. I woke up, went to lift with a good buddy of mine, and then went to lunch with some friends at applebees. I put on a shirt I "borrowed" from Micah a long time ago, but I guess he's come to notice that I haven't returned it yet. Maybe someday. Anyway, it's the shirt that says "Body piercing saved my life" and then on the back has a picture of two hands with scars in the middle. Yes, before you all get huffety, I realize they most likely put the nails through Jesus' wrists, but you should still get the point. So, I got some interesting looks at the gym, but nothing to bad, and then at Applebees, it seemed like the waitress was being sorta OVERLY kind. Maybe she just wanted a good tip...and she got one...she was very good. Well, I better move on before you all get the wrong impression...

Eventually, I made it back to the church, and started getting ready for tonight. We have "Deeper Life" on Thurs. nights, and I wanted to spend a little extra time praying and reading to prepare, so I did. I didn't go out on the park bench, cause I most likely would've got some VERY strange looks being down on my knees in the middle of downtown leavenworth praying, so I stayed inside and played some worship music through the mains. It was only Kathleen and Sean and I, but just like last week, was most excellent. I got to spend some time talking and praying with my buddy sean, and just like with JC, was very good. I know only a couple kids have been able to make it, but it's been some of the most spiritually progressive times we've had in a while, and "I'm lovin it."

I actually took Sean and Kathleen out to my bench to sit and read and relax a bit, when shortly after I got a call for a fire alarm out in the county. So, I hurried them along to get their stuff so I could lock the church and go. It ended up being a false alarm, but I got on the report which I've been too busy to do recently. Afterwards I went to Applebees again to meet a friend at the bar, and have a beer, some nachos, and some good conversation. We weren't sitting there more than 5 min's when a heard of girls came wandering in and sat at the other side of the bar. Immediately, one of them stared and then pointed at me, and I saw her mouth "he's drinking a beer." I couldn't help but chuckle, and simply continued to smile and talk with my friend. I don't know if she read the shirt, or she knew me from somewhere, but she sure didn't look familiar. Well, she kept staring for quite some time, and I just kept smiling. Her friend came over a couple min's later and talked to my buddy, who she knew, and I said hi and introduced myself, but I still can't figure out why the other girl was staring. Maybe it's cause I hadn't combed my hair all day, and I really don't look like I'm 21, or maybe it was the shirt, or whatever. I was hoping to go over and say hi, but I was somewhat afraid she might think I was hitting on her, and also, they left before I really had the chance. It was interesting though, sitting at the bar that is. I could hear the conversations of all the people around me, I could see their intention at being there, and it felt like I was there, but I wasn't. Like I could almost see the spiritual side of things, and these people had no clue. I just sat there quietly, sipped my beer, ate my nachos, and talked with God while my buddy talked with some other friends. I must've looked quite strange sitting there with my hair hainging down uncombed, my shirt that says body piercing saved my life (when I obviously have no piercings), and my sly grin on my face that says God is good, and all is well...or at least that's what it says to me...

Well, whatever that blurb was all about, it was hopefully a small recap of the day, but also a sign that it's late, I'm tired, and I have to get up in like 5 1/2 hrs. So to all a good night, and God Bless.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What today may bring...

Well, yesterday, I got to play with our softball team since I was off work. I missed last weeks game, and we lost for the first time this season :( I think missing that week might've had some ill effects on me though, cause I struck out swinging 3 x's in slow pitch softball (that's one strikeout with 3 swings to keep things!!! I couldn't figure it out. I was watching it all the way through, I was just swinging over it. I somewhat guessed that it was a combination of some things, one of which (in a sarcastic macho-manly voice) is cause I've been working out a lot, so I was way ahead of I got a heavier bat and hit well after that... (end macho voice...LOL). Anyway, we ended up losing...even with me there...oh well. Kind of a mid-season slump I think. I'll tell you though, win or lose, I really look forward to our games every week. I've played on different sports teams since I was younger, and I can't say I've ever enjoyed the team aspect of things as much. We are very priveledged to be able to have an all Christian team made up from guys of various churches around the community. It gives us a great chance to have fellowship with other guys outside of our usual circle, and it's been a good witnessing tool to some of the guys around the community as well. It's just simply a good time.

On another note...

Back at my favorite place again...This morning, I was sitting and reading, and an older gentelmen kinda stumbled over and started talking with me. I couldn't really tell if he was drunk right then, or if this was just consequence of years of drinking, but either way, conversation commensed. His name was "Quinn, always a friend, betch ya'll never forget that name again." Quinn announced as I'm sure he had declared a thousand times before. He looked at me reading and underlining in Ephesians, and said that's one thing I'd never find him doing again...studying that is. I think Quinn was oblivious to the fact it was a Bible, which is fine. He asked what I was doing, as I think I've invaded the territory of most of the downtown drunks, and I told him how I liked to come out here and sit and read and meet new people. Quinn questioned if I lived in the run down apartments two doors down from the church, and I told him I actually lived in the Church, and sorta worked there as well as the fire deptarment. He said he was familiar with our church, in fact, he had come last Monday night for the free meal the ladies prepare for the 30-40 people that come every week.
I asked what Quinn did, and he told me he babysits 3 kids, and then begun to pour out his life story of how his mother died when he was 10, and he didn't really say much about his father, except he passed away a long time ago. Quinn is quite proud of his 4 children, one of which notified him at 1 am this morning that he was a grandpa, and another of his girls was pregnant. He was now looking for some work, so he could buy a beer in a celebration. I somewhat assumed he'd be looking for one regardless. Quinn was not shy about the fact that he was an alchoholic, and really wasn't looking to change. He said it was too late for him, and the he enjoyed his beer, and had decided long ago that he wasn't going to change. I told him it was never too late, to which he didn't really acknowledge my words. Quinn said it kept him motivated, and got him through the day. However, he had cut back from how he used to drink. He was looking for a job though, and said if I knew of anything to let him know. He just wants somewhere to sweep and mop, and nothing else
I really didn't know exactly what to say to Quinn. I wanted him to know that he could change, and life could improve, and that there was hope, but didn't want to come across judgemental at all. So, I mostly just listened, and tried to encourage him all the while remaining loving. I told him I'd look out for a job for him where he could sweep and mop, and was within walking distance of his house, but I'm really not sure if something did come up that he'd be able to keep it, but I guess you never really know.
I told Quinn if he wasn't busy Sunday morning, that he's always welcome in church. Once again, it felt like one of those moments where he wasn't even aware I was speaking. He walked off and said he see me again, and I said maybe next monday at the meal, and that was the end of that.

I've had a several of these incidents since I took residence on that park bench, and really am not sure if anything is coming of our conversations, but I guess will just leave it in God's hands, and see what happens. One of the guys (Douglas), has been attending church almost more regularly than half the congregation. He used to come in drunk, but hasn't in quite some time. Actually, he came up to me a couple hours after Quinn did, and said he was on his way to an AA meeting. Douglas is really a nice guy, but I think much like Quinn, the effects of so many years of drinking has left it's mark, even when he's sober. I really like seeing him around though. It seems he's improved a lot over the last 8 months or so.

So, if you think of it, please pray for Quinn and Douglas, and the guy who lives in the run down apt.'s who's name I haven't found out yet. Pray for Quinn that he'll find a job where he can sweep and mop within walking range, and that God will free him from his addiction. Pray for Douglas that God will continue to release him from his past, provide steady work, and that he'll come to an understanding of what Christ did for him (he's been in church, but I don't know if he really understands). And pray for the other guy that God will open up doors for me to talk with him and share the love of Jesus.



Monday, June 19, 2006

My favorite place...

So here I am again. Sitting out on the park bench on the edge of the street outside the church.
It's a rather funny ordeal, this current living arrangement. I live in the very center of downtown leavenworth, right in the business district, in a church, with a couch (it's actually Eric's couch) and a bag of clothes that goes with me everywhere. I've got a dresser, and a couple boxes of just random things, but I'm finding I don't really need them or use them. Pretty much everything I ever use stays in my car, and some things I don't use as well. It's kinda nice though. Life is much more simple this way, and I think I like it.

So anyway, back to right now. I'm in what seems to be my favorite spot lately. Sitting out on that park bench late at night under the dim street light. It's sunday, so I don't here the normal ruccous of drunks down the street at the bar. Instead it's replaced by the sound of Ten Sheckel Shirt streaming from my Itunes. There is one guy that keeps walking in circles around the block. I've seen him here before. He lives in the small run down apartment building two store fronts down from the church. I've said hi to him a couple times, and got the normal "hey" response as he walks on. He's probably in his late 20's, scraggly beard and slightly dirty clothes, but really doesn't look all that different from me. As I watch him walk, I wonder his name, his job, his background. I wonder why he keeps walking around the block. It doesn't seem to be fitness related really, so I contemplate whether he's looking for something...drugs or a prostitute as is quite common here, or maybe he's looking for something else. Maybe he's gazing at the dark night sky looking for something more, something deeper. Or maybe he's just bored, and it's too hot in his apartment. I really don't know. I do want to know his name though. Maybe the opportunity will open up. Maybe he'll share this park bench with me, and tell me stories of his life, and me of mine. I think it'll happen someday...maybe someday soon.

Well, it's late here (almost 11:30), and I have to be up early for work tomorrow. However, I do want to share a bit from Ephesians with you. Not the whole least not tonight. Instead we'll take a small segment from Ch. 1.

Ephesians 1:15-20
"Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for CHristians everywhere, I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.
I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms."

Well, this morning I taught on debts from a passage in Mathew 18, and one in Luke 7. When looking at the woman in Luke 7, we derived how she was filthy, inside and out, and how Jesus response to her illustrates several things. One of which is how he took her just as she was. He didn't tell her to go clean up and get her act right first, and then she could come to Him. No, he took her sobbing, broken, and humble. We began talking about how too often, ESPECIALLY as Christians, when things aren't right in our lives, it makes it so hard to get back to that intimacy with Christ. How we so often say "I'm sorry God. I promise I'll make it right!" and then go on about trying to correct our actions and repay God with good acts because of our screw ups. When talking with one of the guys, we decided that when trying that way, we often fail again, and that leaves us even more broken than before.

I heard a sermon on tape by a guy named John Lynch recently (no, not the safety for the broncos...this guy is actually an associate pastor in Phoenix somewhere) titled "Room of Grace." (If you can find it, get it, it's a great sermon) Well, he goes on to talk about our Christian walk, and compared it to traveling down a road, and coming to a fork. There are two marked paths. One reads trusting God, and the other pleasing God. He takes a look at trusting God and says "hmm...that's kinda vague..I mean, what does that even mean?" Then he looks at pleasing God. "Yeah, that's it. That's what I want to do! I want to PLEASE God. Now there's something I can do." So long story, very short, he proceeds down this path, and finds that he is utterly incapable of getting it right. And all the people he meets along the way advise him that his brokeness just needs a mask. So, eventually he comes back to the fork, and looks at trusting God, and goes for it...

You see, the hard part about trusting God is that it takes things completely out of our hands. Not that we don't do anything, but that the actions we do will never make up for our deficiencies, and they can definetly never fix our broken spirits. It's only by trusting in God, letting go completely, and realizing that we have to come just as we are. Open and broken, in order to get fixed. All the trying will only lead us back to the same fork in the road. As we look at the woman in Luke 7, she had it right. She came to Jesus as she was, humble and needy, and left forgiven. That's where it comes in. We trust in Jesus to walk with us through it from there. To help us through the hard times, and to pick us up when we fall. Cause on our own, we only stumble further.

As I read this passage in Ephesians, I think "When did we start selling God short?" To think that our efforts could ever do near as much as "the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him." Is it not "the same mighty power that raised Christ from dead..." That LITERALLY raised Christ from the dead! The same mighty power that brought sight to the blind, healing to the sick, and mercy to sinners. Yes, it is the same mighty power, and nothing we ever do can compare...but to trust in Him and His power for those who believe in Him. Stop looking at your faults, and begin trusting in "the WONDERFUL FUTURE He has promised for those He called."

I believe it, do you?

Lord, I trust You. To take this broken mess, I call "my" life, and give it to you to make whole. I trust that You do have a wonderful future for me, far better than I could ever plan out or imagine. I trust in Your love and mighty power, the same that raised Christ from the dead, to take the death that spreads like a plague in me, and bring it to life that's consumed and overwhelmed with you. Father, I ask for your special favor on me at work. Not that I would have favor in their eyes, but that I would be a much better example than I have been. I have such a hard time focussing on you while I'm there, and it can't be like that. I need you always. I love you, goodnight.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Up and Running...

Ok, it took a bit of messing around, but I got internet fed into my laptop at the church.

So, I know it's been LONG overdue, so I'll try and give an update on some things going on...I'll likely forget some details, but here goes anyway.

Lets see...Ah, the house. I closed on the fourplex, but it was all rented out, they kicked one person out (it's all fine though) so they could sell it to me as a owner-occupier. Chris now lives in that apartment on his own, and mine and eric's mail goes there while we live in the church, and hopefully eventually get some work done on the upstairs. Chris is nice enough to let Eric and I come over and do our laundry and take showers occasionally, since we have neither directly available to us at the church. I collected rent on the first of the month, but have yet to pay the utilities. I think I'll still come out ahead with $ in my pocket, but the idea of the extra $ listed as income makes me nervous about taxes. I do realize that everything that goes towards interest on the house payment is completely deductable, but that only accounts for about's complicated, and I've got a LOT to learn about it all still. Anyway...

Yes, Eric and I are living at the church. Eric's kinda set up a small apt. in what will eventually be the youth room, and he loaned me his couch to sleep on in the basement. We are hoping (if we ever find a method of removing all the garbage upstairs) to clean up the upstairs and finish what will be the internship dorm for the future. Until then, we're almost's kinda funny to me. Some people at church didn't really understand, and offered me a place to stay, and I couldn't help but blush and tell them thank you, but no thank you, and then try and go on to explain the I generally take showers at work, over at Chris's, or at the community center after I work out, and Eric takes showers at Chris's or at the Gilberts (since he's there every day).

What else? Work is going GREAT!!! I love my job. I caught my first fire the other day...well, it was the first time I'd gone into a smoked up house and done a search at least. My captain and I were the second team in. The first guys in on the attack line put out the relatively small kitchen fire before we even saw it, but we did do an extended search on the main floor looking for someone...or at least that's what I thought. All I knew was my captain went down the hall looking for something, so I imagined it to be an older man by the looks of the home. Well, I'm doing a search of each bedroom, looking in the closets, under the bed everything, not know exactly what I'm looking for, all the while using the thermal imager to see if any sources of heat show up. So, I'm hollaring, "Fire Dept! Anyone here!? Hello? Fire Dept?!" Eagerly listening and anticipating a faint cry for help. After completing the search in a couple of bedrooms, my captain meets me in the hall to check in with me, and let me know that he didn't find anything in the other rooms, so we walk back to the main living room. The smoke had somewhat cleared in this section of the house, and my captain sent me out for a pickheaded axe to check for extension above where the fire was. When I walked outside, I overheard a couple of guys talking, and laughed as I discovered they had found what we were looking for. It was the guys dog. They found him down in the basement, and even if I had found him, I don't think he would've responded to my Oh well. We'll save being the hero for another It was a lot of fun though. It took everything I had not jump up and down and hoot and hollar when we got done and were outside loading hose. I was ready to do it all over again! LOL...we also caught a call at about 2 am the other day for a car rolled over a steep embankment and in the Missourri river! It wasn't actually in the river, but it was fun still. Three of us went down to the car where the patient was, and since I was the most experienced EMT, I kinda got to run the show down there, which was a blast.

Ok, enough about that stuff. Summer break is here, which always means things slow down for youth. So many of them are working, or gone on vac., or whatever, so we've switched to a deeper bible study on Thurs. which is completely voluntary for those who really want to press in further, and then a hang out activity every friday night. It's turned out pretty well so far. We haven't had great turn out for the bible studies, but it's been good for the people that have come, which is all I can ask for.

Worship has been going well. We've done a great job of incorporating new songs, and keeping some good praise songs in as well as intimate stuff. There have been a couple things that have been somewhat nagging issues, but I guess that just comes with the territory. And it's probably more my inability to handle it than anything.

Micah and Chrissy had a baby girl!!! 9 lbs. 5 oz's! Big baby...oh yeah. She'll end up thin like the both of them though, which is good. GOOD AND HEALTHY BABY!!! I don't know her name yet. All I know is I'm an uncle x2, and I will get to see her in a couple weeks. Yeah, that's right, I'm flying back on July 6th, and staying through the 16th. I'm REALLY looking forward to it...and no, those caps don't emphasize it enough.

Well, I think that's it for now...I've got to post on ephesians here, so I'll go for now..if I left something out, let me know.