DON’T MISS THIS PARTY!!!

confestti1

Hey guys, my Dad is throwing a huge party for my Brother! He’s asked all of us kids to let everyone know. And the best part? You’re all invited!!!

I’ve been a little discouraged. Over the past couple of weeks, my Dad told me that even though all the preparations have been finalized; an incredible “A” list band, wine that you will not believe, and world class food, almost everyone invited has said they’re too busy to come. Most of the folks my brothers and sisters asked came up with the lamest excuses! One of them told me he had to wash his car, another girl said she’s going out with another friend that night. I mean, this is a huge party that nobody wants to miss!!!

Well, my Dad told me and my family to go out and find anyone, even people we don’t know! He wants this party to be off the hook because he’s kind of a party guy. He even told me personally to go out on the streets (if you can believe that) and invite people that nobody would expect or even want at their party. I couldn’t believe it! I told him, “Dad, are you crazy?” He responded that he just loves people and that he wants them there. He really does have a huge heart!

So we invited EVERYONE and it’s kind of strange… The people I expected WOULD be coming, you know the rich ones, the movers and shakers, the people that have it all together, aren’t the one’s coming. Strangely, It’s the people I never would have guessed in a million years that are coming; a guy who feels worthless and lives behind a grocery store, a girl that was raped repeatedly as a young girl and now barely survives as a prostitute, and an old, old man that used to work for a big oil company who lost everything; he’s coming too! There’s so many people like that. It’s funny, all the people showing up seem to be those that have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Go figure.

Anyways, the party is going to be awesome. You don’t want to miss it! I hope you’re all there. Love you guys!

PS: Dad says he loves you too!

This is my take on Matthew 22:1-10. Yes, it’s found in the bible. I hope it speaks to you…

A Sad True Story…

girloutsidedoor21.jpg

A true story…

A pastor friend of mine was recently awakened to the desperate appeal of stammered knocking on his front door just after 3am.  His wife had woken up mere moments before to a terrible nightmare.  Obviously something was happening in the spiritual realm, but was not obvious to this point.  After sliding the safety lock over, he slowly cracked open the door and saw a young woman standing before him; shaking, worried and clearly disturbed.  In a panic, she relayed that someone was after her and that she needed to get inside quickly.  My friend, with a flash prayer and a moment of godly risk-taking clarity, slid back the lock, opened the door and proceeded to allow her entrance into his safe place.  It was as if God himself told him to make way for her.

As they began to talk, she was plainly a woman of the streets.  Her behavior was suspicious and she was out of touch with reality.  Abuse, drugs and a long hard life had taken their toll, both emotionally and physically.  In short, her life was in shambles and she was in need of desperate healing.

Their conversation took many twists and turns.  My pastor friend inquired where she lived so that he could get her a lift home.  Although she seriously needed his help, her past didn’t allow her to fully trust him and when she found out he was a pastor, her reply was unexpected, “I was raped by a pastor from the ages of 4 to 6.  Everyone is safe at the beginning.”  This broke my friends heart nearly to tears, but he knew God brought her there for a reason.  The cab eventually arrived to take her home to her mom and the very next day, this pastor worked diligently to get her into a rehab facility that could help her begin overcoming her addictions.

24 hours later, her skepticism turned to astonished gratitude as she sent him a text thanking him for what he had done.  She said that he was the first man that had ever treated her with such “genuine care and dedication.”

Many stories don’t end this way and the reality is, we do not ultimately know how this one will end.  But my friend was faithful; faithful to Jesus and faithful to this woman.  But, I turn my thoughts to two people. Those that are in need of healing, and those that are called to heal people.

It would probably be safe to say that all of us need healing on some level; maybe in our marriage, finances, physical body, loneliness, depression, substance abuse or other areas.  If I might be so bold and tell you that Jesus wants to bring healing into your life.  It doesn’t matter what you’re facing, Jesus desires to heal you.  And this sounds like such a crazy thing to say, but Jesus absolutely promises healing.

There are scores of verses in the Bible that talk directly to healing.  I do not believe anyone knows how many people Jesus healed, but my guess is that it reaches into the tens of thousands based on his 3 years of ministry.  People literally fell at His feet and were healed the moment they touched him.  The apostles went on to write about the power of healing.  We see in James 5:14 a call to the elders of the church to anoint and heal those that are sick.  Over and over we see that God is into healing.  He wants to do an incredible, yes even miraculous work in all of our lives.

A word of caution though:  Healing may not look like what you think it should.  Healing comes in many different forms and for many different purposes.  There is a staggering mystery to God which leaves many of us asking why, instead of pressing into God for comfort.  Many of my own loved ones have been healed by entering into heaven; not quite the outcome we were praying for.  Truth is that healing often looks very different than what we expect or want.  But you need to really get something here…

God desires to heal you, however you must be open to his method of healing.

  • Does that mean that my marriage may not be put back together?  Maybe.
  • Does that mean my business might fail?  It might.
  • Does that mean I won’t have any children?  That’s very possible.

So why pray?  What am I actually asking of God when I ask for healing?

Those are great questions.  I have a personal take on this simply from my own experiences.  I believe there is a very simple answer, but it may be hard to grasp.  God’s greatest desire is to be as close to you as he possibly can.  He loves you and is looking for a deep relationship with you.  As you experience tragedy, difficulty and pain, God is yearning for you to connect with him so that he can heal you and your situation, but more importantly, so that you would come closer together.  I believe the most important part of that equation is his closeness to you.

Do not doubt, your healing will come.  Your life absolutely will get better, but it hinges on your relationship to God through his son Jesus.  As we pursue God through our tears, our closeness is the greatest healing we could ever receive.  As God heals us and our situation, we begin to see him much more clearly and our desire moves away from the healing and into our relationship with Jesus; where our deepest desires are fulfilled.

There is another side to this equation and that is a quick word to those called to heal people.  If you call yourself a Christian (a follower of Jesus), then you are in the business of healing people, period. The Bible makes it clear that we are to be imitators of God. Jesus healed people. He healed a LOT of people. And if you are to be imitators of Him, then roll up your sleeves and begin healing people.

Some of you are asking, “How on earth can I heal anyone? I don’t have those gifts.” Ah, but you do! Every one of us are gifted to be like Jesus if we love him and serve him. Here’s how you heal people. Are you ready for this?

You spend time with them, pray over them, sacrifice your personal time for them, share your life with them, encourage them, provide for them, challenge them, invite them in and most of all, LOVE THEM!

When we give of ourselves to people, they heal. When we allow ourselves to be totally inconvenienced for the sake of people, they heal. When we give up making life about US, people around us will heal. We are called to heal the lost, lonely, hurting and disconnected.  Maybe we all need to take a moment to evaluate our lives.

Are you the kind of “Christian” that walks in and out of church, never really taking the time to love others, avoid getting into deep conversations with those in pain and makes everything about what makes you happy?  If so, you are most likely not healing people.

Healing others takes real sacrifice.  It can mean taking a phone call just as you crawl into bed.  You may have to endure meeting after meeting with someone that doesn’t seem to be “getting it.”  Your day off may end up being a day where all your plans have changed because someone needs help.  At its purest form, we are to live a life of total surrender to God’s calling.  That is the picture of a healer.

The pastor I mentioned in the story above lives out that vision of sacrifice and healing.  He could have left the door shut, told everyone in the house to be quiet and waited for the young girl to go away, but he didn’t.  He answered the call.  She needed healing and he provided it for her.  This all begs two very simple questions that we all need to wrestle with.

What do I need Jesus to heal in my life today?
How can I begin healing those around me?

Friends, answer those two questions for Jesus and you will unlock a powerful life.

It’s Time to Grow Up!

Spoiled.jpg

“Quit judging me you dumb bitch.  You treat your kids like s–t yourself.”

If you can believe it, this was a recent Facebook post I read while trolling peoples not-so-private lives.  And yes, I’m sure you can believe it.  We can all believe it.  I mean really, which one of us doesn’t come across a post like this almost daily?  I have to say though, what was hard to believe is who they came from.  At least one of them would call themselves a Christian.  You know, a follower of Jesus, a disciple, a believer.  The sad truth is that the new social media culture has ushered in an avenue where people can drive their unabated thoughts relentlessly down the highway of intolerance without any immediate consequence. And yes, even those of us who call ourselves Christians weave webs of mayhem causing serious pain and division that can sadly scar people for years.

In the 2008 election cycle, I was an avid supporter of MY candidate.  I would defend, attack and argue why my guy was the one America needed most.  My diatribe of ideals would often send my foes into their own bursts of ideological indignation.  It was reminiscent of a classic McEnroe v Connors Wimbledon match.  The volleys went back and forth only to escalate into more hateful serves and an occasional net smash.  It was brutal beyond words.  So barbarous in fact, that I later went back and deleted almost every post.  I was embarrassed to say the least.

When is the last time you went back through your own social media feed and evaluated the content of your character?  What we write is a direct reflection of our character.  Do you find that your words are healing and encouraging, or do you see something different?  Perhaps you see something downright ugly.

Let me first encourage you by saying that you’re not alone.  We all fall into the traps of speaking (or writing in this instance) without first thinking it through.  Like I mentioned before, I’m not going to be the pot calling the kettle black.  I’m just as guilty as the next guy or gal that slays dragons in the name of philosophical superiority.  We are all sinners and say things we wished we never said.  But I want to take this one step further.  Jesus not only wants us to stop saying things that are unseemly, he’s looking for us to take radical steps in another direction.  Check this out…

27 But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”

Yes, I just went there.  Those verses are found in Luke 6:27-31 and straight out of the mouth of Jesus.  I would like to challenge you to read those five verses five times in a row.  But let His words sink in deeply. Allow what Jesus is trying to communicate hit at your very core.  Okay, now re-read it five times again and then come back.

Listen friends, this is a picture of what true spiritual maturity looks like.  It is certainly a very difficult pill to swallow.  I mean think about what Jesus is saying here.  He wants us to love our enemies.  He’s exhorting us to do something good to someone that hates us.  And think of the audacity of Jesus when he asks us to pray for someone that has hurt us.  This stuff is crazy!  And yet, this is the life of a true follower of Jesus; we think less of ourselves and far more about others.

I want you to take note that there is something far bigger going on here than simply how we respond to people on social media.  Facebook jabber is nothing more than a window into our character.  Matthew 15:18a makes it really simple, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart…”

Friends, what’s in your heart?  Do you find yourself blowing up in anger over something someone has said or done to you?  I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t experience hurt or that we’re not ever to be angry.  What I am trying to highlight are the very words of Jesus.  There is power in His Word.

When Jesus commands it, He equips us for it.

As Jesus leads us down the radical path of love and grace, he knows it won’t be an easy road.  He understands that his calling is one that is completely opposite of the world.  But He has also provided us the strength to carry out his mission to love others above ourselves.  What I have personally found is that when I respond in a loving manner to someone who has been hurtful, or even hateful, I am at total peace.  I can rest in those moments.  I don’t take it personal.  And as I respond with peace and restfulness, I am able to love someone that isn’t so lovable.  Call it crazy, but it works!

Recently, I helped someone who was struggling financially.  Moments later they turned around and hurt me.  The details aren’t important, but what was important is how I responded.  I prayed for them.  I prayed for me, asking God to help me love them even though they hurt me deeply.  And you know what else?  I gave them my shirt; meaning I helped them again.  It has been the most freeing thing to give from a position of love rather than respond from the standpoint of anger and hate.

You have a choice today.  You can continue to come back with hatred, bitterness, loathing, hostility, resentment and revenge, or you can counter the way Jesus would have.  He loved people that hated him.  He healed people that doubted him.  He saved people that hurled horrific insults at him.  And yes, he died for people that hung him on a cross.  In Jesus’ own words, are you willing to take up your own cross and die for those around you?  That’s what it takes friends, death.  Death to our selfishness and maligned will.  But life to those around us who are hurting.

Keep one last thing in mind, most people respond in hurtful ways because they themselves are hurting.  If you find yourself in emotional turmoil, Jesus (and his followers) are the answer. As you begin to deal with your pain, you will find your heart changing and your Facebook posts becoming different.  Most of all, you’ll find a freedom and rest that allows you to show Jesus to a damaged world.