When Bryleigh and I went to not the best part of town

yep Bryleigh and I ran to the store for a few things we were missing for dinner. As of late, two small children always at the heels means if Tonya or I are heading out for something, you are taking one child with you.

I love this.

While we do much of our grocery shopping at Trader Joes where we can make healthier choices, our closer and cheaper grocery store is 'not in the best part of town'. There is a part of me that prefers these parts of town.

On our way out of the store to the car, we were approached by a not uncommon beggar. Having worked several years with the homeless, addicted, and transient culture, I could recognize this man was not intoxicated in any fashion. He already had a box of food in a cart. He approached me wanting to get his story out as fast as he can (a story I don't need to hear, but I'm listening). He mentions he had just met a pastor at Walgreens who helped him out by getting him this food for his family, but he still really needs milk. Could we get him some milk?

"Yeah! I can get you some milk. Bryleigh, let's go back in and get some milk for our friend here."

Bryleigh says, "Why are we going back inside to get milk?" The man answers, "Because your dad is a good man!"

We go in to get the milk, and on our way in I ask Bryleigh, "Why do you think we are getting milk for that man?" "I don't know." "We want to be nice to everyone we meet, but we also do this because Jesus asked that we do nice things for people."

When we come back out to give the man the milk, I tell him, "I guess you hit the pastor jackpot tonight." "You're a pastor?" "I am." "Well I'm gonna go home tonight and thank my heavenly Father."

Now a few days later a few things stick out from that experience: - A man in need spoke to my daughter that her dad is a good man. - An opportunity to teach by example the care for others and the reason we do so - A missed opportunity to tell that man, "Thank you." - A missed opportunity to tell that man, "Lets pray and thank our heavenly Father right now."

Kiddie Pools and Oceans

Why are Christians so terrified of reaching out to the lost?  We were called to be in the world but not of the world and yet we are afraid to actually go out into the world in any way.  We are terrified of non-Christian music, rated R movies and wearing hats in church.  But we are also afraid of bars, 'bad parts of town', credit cards, public schools, and even Santa Claus (He's not the real reason for the season....surprised you didn't know that [in the voice of Chris Farley in Tommy Boy). When we are afraid long enough, we can become utterly indignant about it.  We find ourselves flaring up our chests at Olive Garden to proudly deny the complimentary taste of wine.  "Proud to say I've never touched the stuff," while the waiter thinks to himself, "Okay, fine!  A simple, 'No thank you.' will suffice.....jerk."

I think it is because if you jump in the deep end without knowing how to swim, you will likely drown.  So why not just stay the heck away from the entire pool?  We are afraid of the world because we can't swim.  We are not confident and strong enough in our faith, beliefs, and stances to not be swayed by the thoughts and ways of the lost.  I think we are afraid because we are not strong enough.

On the other hand, I do not think the fact we cannot swim should keep us away from the kiddie pool or maybe, I know its risky, the shallow end where at least the water comes up to our chests.

We have to learn how to swim and we have to begin getting out of our pool and swim the ocean as we are called to do.

But we are terrified of the world for some reason.  I think that reason is because we are too weak to stay strong while being in the world.  Sure, it's risky and it will come with temptation, but how strong am I?  And if I am truly not strong enough yet, then what have I been doing in the church this whole time?  Have I been strengthening myself enough to get out into the world or am I just going to bask in the kiddie pool for the rest of my life?

* We should know where we are especially weak and stay away from dangerous temptations we KNOW we will fail in, but we cannot avoid the entire pool.

Invited but Unwelcome

The room is full of those people. You know the ones! THOSE people. They are the ones we have learned to hate. They are the ones who look nothing like us physically, morally, spiritually. We do not want to SAY we are better, but... The room is full of them, and there is Jesus just hanging out with them as if He did not see what we all see in them. Why are they all there anyway?

Only a few hours ago, Jesus invited one of them to follow Him. The man did leave all the things that make him one of them to follow Jesus. We will give him that, but then Jesus went to hang out at his house. Now Jesus is with the one who is unwelcome. He invited the man to follow Him, and then went to the man's home.

For the first time ever, here is a holy teacher willing to take one of them under his teaching and care. Here is The Epitome of one of us taking on one of them.

Now the house is full of them.

Of course it is! All these people are crammed into the man's house to follow and hear Jesus. Though the call and invitation was to one, it seems to have drawn all the others.

Which 'sinners' do you like to avoid? Who of them need finally to be invited into your life, your love, and your care? Who of them would be able to tell all the others about you being different from the rest of us who avoided them?

That one invite into your life just may draw many others to Jesus.