What Do We Deserve?

This is a true story.

A minister of God didn’t have anyone to work with, so he asked God to make him available to whatever would be his will. He checked want ads, because he needed some money, and he saw there was a bus driving job made available to him. So he worked as a bus driver in south Chicago. If you know anything about Chicago, it is not south Chicago you want to drive a bus in, but that’s where they had the need. He found out later it was because nobody else would stay on the job. So he drove it.

Before a week passed, some thugs got on the bus and didn’t pay, they sat in the back, sneered and jeered and mocked him. The next day the same thing happened. The third day it happened again. After it went on for about a week, he decided he didn’t have to put up with that. So he decided to call an officer inside the bus and make them pay. He saw one down about a block away and after he got on he told the officer that the fellows back there haven’t paid for several days, would you at least make them pay today? And he did, but unfortunately the officer got off the bus. When the door was closed, the bus driver drove a little further and turned a corner, and that was the last thing he remembered. They knocked a couple of teeth out and stole his money, and when he woke up the bus was empty.

He sat there in confusion and disillusionment wondering, “What kind of ministry is this, Lord? I told you I was available and this was the job you opened up?” And he went home, turned the bus in, took the rest of the day off. He stared at the ceiling as he was nursing his wounds, and he thought, “I’m not gonna let them get away with that.” So, through an interesting chain of events, they rounded up, with the help of some officers, the very guys and took them to court. All four of them.

The of the hearing he stood before the court, and the judge listened carefully, an decided the fellows were guilty. And they didn’t have any money to buy their way out, so they had to spend some time in jail. Suddenly the minister realized, “Here’s my chance.” He said, “Your honor, may I speak for a moment?” The judge allowed it and the minister said, “I’d like for you to tally up all of the time these fellows together would be spending in jail, and I’d like to go in their behalf.” And the judge responded, “Well, that’s highly irregular, it has never been done before.” And the minister responded, “Oh yes it has, about 2,000 years ago.” And then in about 4 minutes he gave them the gospel.

Three of the young men came to know Christ right away and one of them later, after the minister was incarcerated. That fellow was having a ministry with those four guys who heard the message that somebody else wanted to pay the price for their sin. A living testimony for what Christ did for us.

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Asking the Hard Questions

A week ago, a teen girl came in a minute late to our Bible study and asked if I would answer her questions. She wanted me to answer them quickly so she could go. She didn’t want to stay and endure a Bible discussion. I looked at her questions which were very personal and full of struggle. Questions written as a letter to God in her diary. She asked why she was the size she is; why some people are successful at suicide but she hasn’t been; if God would let her die; and more like those.

I suggested that the Bible study hour was not the best to deal with these personal questions, and she asked if I would talk to her afterwards. I told her that I would.

I found her upstairs and we sat down and I looked at her questions again and told her that I might not be able to answer some of her questions. She was hurting deeply and wondering about whether she really believed in God and his goodness and justice.

I told her that maybe the best way to answer her concerns was to set the base for understanding God and what happened with creation. God created us with the capacity to make moral choices, choosing to receive God’s love or rejecting his love which also gives the capability to return God’s love or withhold it. God didn’t create beings that would love him without choice because forced love is not genuine love.

Understanding this truth settled some of the questions she had.

The 90 minutes I spent with this young lady was one fo the most important moments in my life. Not because I answered hard questions, but because I was given an opportunity to share God’s love and glory with someone who is searching for his love. Right now, I am certain that a seed has been planted and pray that she will come to faith in God and ultimately in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

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He’s Important to Me

I volunteer at a teen residential facility, leading spiritual initiatives as a sort of a chaplain. Earlier this week I visited the thisismyprayerforyouedited-640x360students hoping to encourage them and inspire a walk with Christ in them. A father of one of the young ladies was visiting that day. She brought him to me and introduced us and told her dad that I was the spiritual guy. I explained to him what that meant so her father would understand the role of our Sunday Spiritual times. Then the young lady told her father that I was important to her and explained why. She self-harms and I encourage her not too. I basically told her I don’t like it when she it hurt, even if she is the one hurting herself and asked about how long she had gone since the last time without harming herself. She told me and added it had been four days this time. I encouraged her to go for the goal of one more day than the last time and then we set the goal of one more day each after.

I am important to her because I don’t want her to hurt herself. honestly, it hurts my heart to know that she would purposely  hurt herself. She wants to have a relationship that builds and holds her up. One that she can trust and rely on for support and help. Knowing her background, she has the love and support she needs, but a couple of things have blocked her understanding (besides the confusing messages our world, media and her friends give). One is her understanding about herself which got sidetracked at some point and another is her parents, though they love her, haven’t learned how best to make that understood in her life.

I am not casting blame here, I am citing reality.

One of the things that provided an open dialog between this young lady and myself is that I told here I have prayed for her. She had been struggling one day when I was visiting about 6 months ago and it took her back. She asked in surprise, “You pray prayfor me?” She was shocked. I told her that I do. I told her I prayed for every one of the students there and especially when I know she is struggling, I pray for her more. Apparently, that touched her. She responded, “No one ever prayed for except my mom.”

What she doesn’t realize is that there are others who pray for her besides her mother (and father) and me. There are coaches, who are saints (i.e. Christians) who pray for her as well. I’ll bet there is other family and maybe family friends praying for her.

What she is realizing and God seems to be using me to help bring this realization into her life, is that she is important, even extraordinary (thank you Aaron Chambers*). God loves her and cares for her. People love her and care about her. She is learning that when she feels safe, it is with people who are people of God. She understands that this God-thing is real and it is reaching deep into her life and bringing here hope and even joy, when she remains in her understanding of God’s love. She is realizing, “For God so loved the world,” that God loves her.

Due to confidentiality, I cannot tell you anymore, but I ask that you pray for her. God will know who you are praying for even if you do not know her name or where she is. He knows because he cares, because he loves her too.

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*Remember Who You Are, Unleashing the Power of an Identity Driven Life, by Aaron Chambers, Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2007, citing chapter 9; http://www.standardpub.com/Products/24324/remember-who-you-are.aspx

I’m Free! (Romans Pt 10)

Enjoy the freshness of the song than read the post.

In 2006 the song I Am Free was very popular with the teens at church camp. I know it was more about how the song rocked. I loved it for that reason to, but the simple theme of the song is the theme of Romans chapter 8.

Once I am freed from sin, I am no longer enslaved to sin. As Ricky Ricardo would say, “Let me ‘splain.” A perfect example is alcohol and drug addiction. When one becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs, they are enslaved to them. The chemical dependency will cause them to come back again and again without lasting satisfaction. And people do stupid things, comical things, dangerous things, even criminal things while under the influence. And to keep their addiction alive they sacrifice many things to acquire the addictive choice. They may spend the money that pays the bills for the family and so creditors are calling all the time, or the food cupboard is pretty sparse or bare. They may steal and lie and anything to keep their habit going. They can’t get away from it no matter how hard they try.

Two things here. They can’t reform and recover alone and they can’t break the addiction and find healing until they admit their problem and want and seek help.

That’s where we were with sin. It had us enslaved and there is no way out until we want to get out and seek for a way and we cant’ do it without help, and God sent the only help that can free us from sin. Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.

“1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 NASB.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. This takes me back to Acts 2:38. Peter was telling the crowd hearing the apostles preach about Jesus, when they responded to the message to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God putting his own Spirit in the life of the believer. God won’t put Him, the Spirit in the life of someone who has sin. When sin has been wiped out by God, through your faith and your activity of faith (belief, repentance, confession, and immersion), then he will put His Spirit in you because you are freed from sin.

The Spirit is a guarantee of eternal life, a provision for matching Godly wisdom and understanding with God’s word for living and application in your life, and the realization that you have been set free from sin and free to live with God, now and forever.

Listen to Jodie’s testimony.

“I stumbled down a road of despair; felt that my voice couldn’t be heard thru the layer of labels & paperwork that grew endlessly in my file each year. Files under the feelings and actions of depression, self-mutilation, drugs and even prostitution… What struggle are you facing? – You’re not alone, I’ve been there.

Can u relate in any way? Have u ever felt anger, fear, or hate?

I turned my back on society in a heart beat because I grew sick & tired of people. I decided no-one else was gonna have any control or say. You know how it is: you get a hurt a few times & put the walls up so high within, no one can see in… Yet they are up so high up you can’t see over them either.

I lost track of time as addictions took over, demons had me tripping up everywhere, running in circles from everything & everyone… that’s the game u begin to play, but I never knew- theres no way out, nothing to gain.

At 19 yrs old I woke up & realized I had a choice- Jesus was that choice. Jesus had died on the cross for my sins & in Him I could find peace… I gave God my life, asked Jesus for forgiveness and slowly but surely things in my life started to change. I got to reading the Bible, talking to Jesus thru out each day through prayer, and hope has filled my heart, love & compassion overflowing- freedom came.

What I can say today without question is that you need Jesus in your life today! ONLY He can set you free from your pain.” (Jodie’s and other testimonies can be found at http://shareyourstorynow.org/ )

I have been freed from sin now I can live free of what sin does to me as far as my relationship to sin. I am free to live in God’s world and share eternity with Him, which will be awesome. How about you?

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Don’t Stop the Music; Dana Key

I have been a huge Dana Key fan. In fact, I still listen to D&K and Dana’s solo projects regularly. June 6, 2010, Dana died from a ruptured blood clot at the age of 56. He was a sold-out man of God. He possessed incredible musical skills and a true heart for God. I found this blog post on the blog “The Word of Todd.” He was impressed and inspired by Dana Key’s ministry through D&K. Read the following link. I agree 100% with Todd.

http://toddsword.blogspot.com/2010/07/dont-stop-music.html

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“I Believe!”

Yesterday was a very emotional day for me. See, I visited the teens in the residential counseling facility that I work with. I wanted to see them a couple of days before Christmas and share cookies and Christmas wishes with them.

About two thirds of the kids were gone for the holidays. I brought cookies, Christmas wishes and Christmas hugs.

I always go around and say hi to everyone and see how people are doing. Are they struggling? Are they having a great week? That sort of thing. As I was visiting with one young man, he showed me a picture he was working on. He told me he would like to give me the picture when he finishes. I thought that was really nice and told him thank you. He said, “You’re a part of my life and you mean a lot to me. You made me believe in Jesus.”

Now I get soft-hearted now and then, this was one of those times. This troubled young man, struggling with self-worth issues touched me deeply. I am so happy he believes in Jesus. I look forward to helping him move forward in his belief. I know it will bring healing to him.

That is one of the reasons I continue to invest myself in the lives of these teens. To see them change, to help them see God and learn about Jesus.

May God be blessed.

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Sorry I haven’t posted for a while

I must apologize. I haven’t posted much for the past several weeks. Life does get busy, but the busy I have been experiencing has little to do with busy holidays,  like so many of us experience. My congregation has been going through a very difficult time. One of our people who is a very contentious man has devastated our church. We have gone from 45 to 10 in a matter of months and have been concentrating on healing, restoration, and renewal.

My heart hasn’t been in too much but care and concern for my congregation.

As we recover from this period I will share our progress.

I would ask you to pray for us as we have been hurt and as we rely on God even more. This is a trial and I know God allows this to trust our faith and we are determined to be faithful to him.

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