Pile of Stones

“Two things define you.  Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”

As we traverse through life, it does not take long for us to realize that despite our best efforts, we will experience both the victorious “mountaintop,” where we see God’s hand clearly guiding us and the dark “valleys” where we can barely (if at all) perceive God’s presence.  I remember one such moment very clearly:

The sunshine streamed through the window and I was busily working away at my home office.  I received a phone call from a client informing me that an important project had unexpectedly gone completely sideways.  I had missed a small detail and the resulting consequence was completely on me.  I was so disappointed in myself that a wave of despair washed over me and completely and immediately sapped me of any energy.  This was a first but I remember saying to myself “I’m done,” got up from my desk, went to my bedroom, closed the blinds and got into bed.  As I was about to drift off to sleep I grabbed my well worn Bible and managed to find the strength to ask God to give me a Word.  I haphazardly opened the scriptures and this is where my eyes immediately fell:

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

At that moment the only thing I could do was completely surrender it to God and fall fast asleep….

“When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Now choose twelve men….take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan.  Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight’….We will use these stones to build a memorial.  In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’  Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’  These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.'”  (taken from Joshua, chapter 4)

When I awoke, I made my way back to the office to check my email and found a message from the client.  To my surprise, they had managed to remedy the situation….  I sat there completely taken aback as I was reminded of the scripture that God had given me….

As I had despaired and slept, God Himself was at work on my behalf.  When my strength had utterly failed, His strength had completely taken over.  My Father was there and He had calmed the storm.

I was struck with the importance of the moment and the lesson God was teaching me.  He was WITH me.  God, the creator of the galaxies, was WITH me.  In every season, situation and circumstance God was WITH me.  In this, a bridge was built from my intellect to my heart.   I decided at that moment that I was going to build a “pile of stones” in my mind.  A memorial to God’s faithfulness and provision.  I did this so that when I found myself in a similar place, later down the road of life, I could mentally go back, sit and remember.  Over the years I have gone back many times.  Do you know what?  Mentally being there still helps calm whatever storm I may find myself in.  When the rain is pouring and the thunder is raging, this is where I will sit, giving the situation to God and waiting for His help.   This is the place where many spiritual workouts take place and where my faith is bolstered.

I have a friend who says, “suffering is a choice” (within the context of how we respond to hardships and challenges).  I love this.  How do we respond when we find ourselves face down in the valleys of life?  You have a choice.  Do you allow the despair to settle over you like a cold, wet blanket or do you look for God?

I would encourage you to consciously remind yourself of the mountaintop.  Mentally go back to the times when God pulled you through.  You may want to keep a journal of these significant moments (this is what I do), so that you have something physical to go back to, in order to be encouraged.  Over the course of time, you will be reminded of the countless moments that your Father, who has your back, has shown up and that He STILL fights for you.

“When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test” but remember His words:

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”  Isaiah 43:2

Keep looking up!

 

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Next Man Up

“Don’t just count your blessings.  Be the blessing other people count on.”

Many of us leave spiritual things to pastors or others involved in “full time” ministry.  We don’t feel “cut out” or “good enough” to “do” ministry.  After all, the pastors and ministry leaders are God’s starting lineup.  His superstars.  His first ballot, spiritual hall of famers.

But what about the rest of us?  What about those with schedules filled with career, studies, running kids to practice, youth groups and music lessons?  If God called on you….”Hey Donohue, grab a bat. You’re up!”  Would you be ready and willing to pinch hit in a critical situation where one of the aforementioned spiritual giants was not around?

Let me share a story about something that happened one recent Sunday morning.  My ten year old son an I were visiting a church in California and the guest speaker that morning was talking about his mission work in Senegal.  He talked about his previous spiritual indifference and how he began to ask God to give him “tears for His people” and a heart full of compassion…. This struck a chord within me as I had prayed this same thing years ago but ended up asking God to lower the intensity of it because it was too emotionally overwhelming.  As I heard the speaker continue to share his story I was convicted of my own spiritual indifference and began to silently pray “God give me a more compassionate heart and the opportunity to share that compassion.”

The service ended and Sean and I talked about it in the car on our way to grab me some Peet’s Coffee.  Because of traffic (I think everyone from church had the same idea as I did) I wasn’t able to make the usual left turn into the parking lot to the coffee shop and had to go up to the next light.

As I got to the following light and made the turn I noticed a small purse in the middle of the intersection. The pull began….go get coffee….no go back and get the purse….  I told Sean, “Here is our chance to be a blessing” and quickly flipped the car around. We stopped in the intersection and I leaned out the door to grab the purse with the frantic “We’re going to die!” commentary coming from the back seat.  After getting through the intersection we pulled over and I began rummaging through the pockets to try and find an I.D..  The address was a local address (same town) but my phone was at 7% and using the GPS would kill the remaining charge almost immediately.  I quickly prayed, “Lord, let the power last long enough to get this lady her purse.” I’m sure God chuckled as I punched the address into the GPS only to find that I was sitting across the street from the house.

Before we made our way up to the front door I remembered that I also happened to have one of my favorite tracts in the car with me, “God’s Love Letter.” We took the purse and the tract and walked up to the front door and rang the bell.  No answer.  Part of me was bummed that we weren’t going to receive a gushing thank you….”It’s not about you….” came the gentle reminder in my mind.  We were playing a role. God’s pinch hitters. His boys off the bench. We tucked the purse and note from God to this lady between the screen door and front door, prayed that she would see God’s heart in it and that her life would be changed.

We’ll never know what ends up happening in her life on this side of Heaven but we can be sure that God, who is faithful, is the one who pursues humanity with a great compassion and love, seeking those who are lost and calling them home.

“Use me, God.  Show me how to take who I am, and who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ask yourself this.  If God called you to be the blessing in someone’s life today, are you ready, willing and able to step out and be faithful?  You won’t be acting alone.  His Spirit will guide you.

Semper Paratus.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few….”  Luke 10:2(a)

 

Hearing God in Unexpected Places

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”  Isaiah 30:21

Portland, Oregon; sometime in 2003.

I was beginning my weekday as I often do when I’m on the road for work.  On the hunt for coffee.  Little did I know that this morning was going to be quite different.

I would like to say I was just sitting in a coffee house on NW 23rd having a quiet time with God before getting into the flow of the day….but I wasn’t just sitting.  I was wrestling.  I had reached a point of exhaustion with my back and forth compulsion that many men struggle with.  Porn.

When I began my walk with God, He had either instantly or fairly quickly transformed my mindset, speech and attitude in many areas.  But porn still had it’s hooks in me and it had for years.  It started with Playboy magazine at my buddy’s house in second or third grade and grew from there.  After becoming a Christian, I would have seasons of success in this area of my life.  Looking back though, I can see how I would use it as a coping mechanism.  When I was lonely, down or stressed it was my drug of choice.

Back to the coffee shop….

It was a busy morning and the shop was bustling with the northwestern crowd coming in to escape the rain.  We were all in need of our caffeine fix.  While many exchanged pleasantries or read the paper (yes an actual newspaper), I was having a heart to heart conversation with God.  Actually, it was more of me just talking at God….’God, I’m sorry.  How many times do we have to keep having this talk?  I’m so upset at myself that I went back to that again.  I’m sick of this….’  Then out of the blue, a voice, clear as day cut through my self-pity/prayer.  Above the noise I heard this statement very directly:  “You need to talk to someone about this.”  That’s it.  Nothing else was said.  No further direction.  I silently laughed to myself and responded, “What do you mean?  To who?  I don’t know anyone here….”

As that last sentence wafted up to the ceiling of my consciousness, my attention was immediately drawn to a voice behind me.  A man I hadn’t heard or noticed previously was on his phone….praying for someone….

I sat in stunned silence for a few seconds….”Okay Lord, I get it….”

I waited until he finished his phone call and tried to maintain my composure.  Slowly turning around, I could feel my eyes already beginning to well with tears when I said, “This might sound strange but I think I need to talk with you.”  He paused for a second or two, looked at me quizzically and said, “Okay….how can I help?”

I went on to explain my struggle to a complete stranger….and that’s when class began.  You see, he was a Christian missionary, back in the States for a brief sabbatical before heading back overseas and into the mission field.  He talked to me about the art of spiritual warfare and explained the spiritual strongholds the enemy had set up in my life.  He then asked if, by Jesus’ authority and in His name, I had ever verbally commanded them to leave.  I had not.  Right there in the coffee house, he said, “repeat these words after me…out loud.  You have to say them out loud because they can’t hear your thoughts.

I wasn’t going to argue.  I immediately agreed and off we went.  Neither his words nor demeanor were anything sensational or dramatic (which I appreciated).  It was all very calm and matter of fact.  The missionary prayed and I followed his lead.  Using the authority that Christ has bestowed on those He has saved, I began to command these spirits to leave and go into the pit, never to return.

And these signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will cast out demons;”  Mark 16:17

It didn’t matter that the place was packed.  During that time it felt like it was just he and I going to battle.  He explained that true Christians can’t be “possessed” as the Holy Spirit lives in us, but we can be demonized, through compromise in our lives or unconfessed sin.

The lesson I learned that day, I have applied countless times since.  Whenever I discern a spiritual attack or subtle demonic influence going on around me or in my life,  I will follow the same example.  Again, it’s not drama filled, or sensational but very matter of fact and to the point.  For me, the physical sensation has always been the same.  Maybe others have had a similar experience?  It has always felt like layers are being lifted or peeled off of me.  After the first layer lifts, the rest follow in rapid succession.

So the next time you pray about something going on in your life, make sure you are listening for God’s response.  It may just happen in a place or way you would never expect….

“I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed to the topmost steeple; but God declared ‘Go down again, I dwell among the people.'”  John Henry Newman

Embrace the Grind (II: Prayer)

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”  Abraham Lincoln

I had my first experience in the mission field about three years or so after I had begun my earnest walk with God.  I was in Cluj, Romania with a team from my church in California (shout out to Community Presbyterian Church, Danville!).  During that trip we had delivered food and clothes to poor families, helped paint a church, minister to gypsy families and street kids, encouraged the local pastor(s) and I even had the chance to preach in a little village church (with a translator).  During all of these activities there was one thing we never stopped doing….we prayed.  The flow was constant.  Morning, noon and night we continued to lift everything up in prayer.  I remember sitting on the back porch of the house we were staying in and literally feeling spiritually fatigued.  If there is such a thing as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in the spiritual realm, I most definitely had it.  Physically I was fine.  Mentally and spiritually it was another story.  I had never prayed this much and I distinctly remember thinking that this felt like a “spiritual workout.”  Looking back I think it was more like a spiritual boot camp….   In this sense, this was my introduction to the grind.

Growing up Roman Catholic, prayer was usually something we tended to do in a formal sense.  We would pray before meals or recite words during a Sunday liturgy or sacrament.  While often times the words spoken during those prayers were “good,” (the “Lord’s Prayer” for example) by their repetitive nature, year after year, this type of praying can potentially lack a deep connection to the heart.  I see it as akin to learning to swim but never leaving the shallow end of the pool.  It lays a good foundation but if that is the extent of our prayer life….it is not where we want to stay without ever going deeper.

Now, you might be thinking “prayer shouldn’t be a grind…how could you say that?”  The ultimate goal of the grind in this context is not to leave you broken down but to make you better able to do something than you were previously able to do.  It’s about applying the discipline to an area of your life in order to allow you to be refined, sharpened and ultimately strengthened by God.  To become even more fit for His service.  Our ultimate example is Jesus Himself….

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark; Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  Mark 1:35

A couple of verses prior we see why:  The whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.  He drove out many demons….” (Mark 1:33 & 34a)

He wasn’t going off to procrastinate.  He was going out to spend time and speak with His Father.  He was being briefed and prepped for His mission that day.

Much like our busy world today, His world was also teeming with activity.  In His wisdom, He recognized the need to separate Himself from the constant flow of activity in order to pray.  He built His day around this meeting with the Father.  Notice how he departed early to go to a solitary place.  This is so counterintuitive for us.  We feel that if we’re not busy then it means we aren’t being productive.  As we can see by Jesus’ example, this is not the case.  The enemy of your soul wants you to stay too busy to pray because he can then move more freely in your life and the life of your family.

As we get started, I would challenge you with this:  Wherever you are in your prayer life, ask God to help you grow (be ready as He then gives you things you need to be praying about).  If you don’t know where to begin, start with finding a quiet (solitary) place, and read the “Lord’s Prayer” (found in Matthew 6:9-13) out loud, every day, for a week.  Pause after each line in order to let the Holy Spirit help you begin to grasp the depth, concepts and meaning behind the words.   Don’t allow familiarity to breed indifference.

Also begin to include small, unscripted, conversational moments with God throughout your day.  For example, every morning when I would wake up I would say (out loud) some variation of, “Good morning, Lord.  I love You.”  These little habits can start to shape and dig out the deep end of the pool in our spiritual lives.

Just like beginning a new workout routine, this may not feel natural at first and even feel forced.  Remember how tough those first two weeks of a workout are?  The same applies here.  Don’t give in.  Persevere and rise to the challenge and it will go from something foreign to becoming a habit and ultimately, a lifestyle.

See you in Part 3.

Dig in.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”  Bruce Lee

 

The Barabbas in the Mirror

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

The house was quiet last evening.  Jen had taken Sean to an offseason hockey workout and I had prepared my bachelor meal of Hawaiian grilled chicken and a giant salad for dinner.  I settled in on the sofa, grabbed the remote and pressed play….

Every year during Holy Week, I will sit down and watch “The Passion of the Christ” in order to help me reflect on the power, depth and magnitude of Jesus’ redeeming love for humanity.  As many may know, this is not an easy film to watch but for me, it is necessary.  In my mind I can easily “whitewash” the events that happened that day, as if seeing them through rose colored stained glass windows.  This film helps prevent me from doing that.

As the story progresses I arrived at the scene where Jesus is brought back to Pontius Pilate for the second time.  The crowd has grown even more visceral and in what is seemingly Pilate’s attempt to talk some reason into the crowd, he brings out a convicted murderer, Barabbas.  “Which one do you want me to release to you–Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?….the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas…’Barabbas’ they answered.  What shall I do, then, with Jesus….?’  They answered, ‘Crucify him!'” (taken from Matthew 27)

The scene continues….

After a series of mocking gestures to both his Roman captors and the crowd, the newly freed Barabbas glances at the Man who has just taken his place.  Seemingly a look of both sorrow and conviction momentarily flashes across his face.  He, a guilty man has been set free.  Jesus, an innocent man, silently and faithfully accepts His purpose.

Now before we go on thinking, “That horrible man! That murderer!  I hope he realized the undeserved second chance he got!  I hope he ended up getting what’s coming to him!”…. Let’s reflect on the words of scripture:

“Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer….” (1 John 3:15a) 

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”  (James 2:10) 

If we are honest with ourselves and our own human condition, it is easy to see that we….we are all Barabbas. 

Yet there stands Jesus….taking our punishment on Himself to fulfill the requirements of the Law, so that we may go free.  This is how much He loves YOU.  He has gone to every length to demonstrate His Love for you.  What will you do with it?  How will you live the rest of your days knowing that this is the truth?

If you’ve never responded to Jesus, I would encourage you to do just that.  Turn from your past and your sin and into the outstretched arms of your Savior.  Call out to Him and He will hear you and save you.  There is no better time than now….

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Welcome to the family….you are richly loved by the Creator of the universe and you have a unique purpose in God’s unfolding plan.

Be vigilant in love.  Be watchful.  Stay faithful.

Embrace the Grind

“Though the mills of God grind slowly; yet they grind exceedingly small;  Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.”  Freidrich von Logau

The current UFC light heavyweight champion (and former U.S. Olympic and Oklahoma State University All-American wrestler), Daniel Cormier calls himself the “King of the Grind.”  U.S. Navy SEAL’s have coined the phrase, “Embrace the suck.”  The Apostle Paul said, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave….” (1 Corinthians 9:27)  What do they all have in common?

The grind.

The grind can be physical, mental or spiritual.  Over the course of your lifetime, it will be found in all three aspects.  What you choose to do with it is up to you.  Many will choose to run from it but this is to their own detriment.  For this is where the deep roots of faith, perseverance, strength and character are grown.

“….I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”  Louisa May Alcott 

I would venture to say that most, if not all of us will begin from a place of pride.  Pride in our own strength.  The problem is that ultimately our own strength is not enough.  For the believer, the Warrior Soul, we need to start from a place of humility and reliance on our loving and faithful Father to lead us, guide us and supply the strength we need to persevere, no matter the circumstances.  We remind ourselves that we can only do “all things through Christ, who gives us strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

“….Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff (a shepherd’s instruments of discipline, guidance and protection), they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to be an accountability partner/coach with many different people in different phases of life.  Usually this has been focused on either exercise/nutrition or encouraging them get to the next level in their relationship with God.  What I’ve learned in all of this is that we can learn to incorporate the same mindfulness into both areas of life.

Again, at the foundation is our humble trust in God.  Many people will often misquote the Bible saying, “God won’t give us more than we can handle….”

Actually He will.  God will give you more than you can handle on your own, in order that you understand your need to be more reliant on Him.  He may run you through the same gauntlet over and over again throughout your life, until your heart is humble enough to acknowledge and embrace this truth.  Our pride and self  reliance, though often embraced by our culture, is actually what can keep us from reaching our full potential in our God ordained purposes.

I will often workout five or six days per week and each day consists of a slightly different routine in order to prevent dreaded “plateau.”  Resistance training is done in each workout session (although by different means or exercises that focus the brunt of the intensity on different body parts).  Cardio work is also done during each workout but some days it may be steady state cardio and some days it might be “high intensity interval training” routines.  It is this repetition that can help take it from something we try and do to becoming a lifestyle and a part of who we are.

In part two, we’ll discuss how and what we can implement in our walk with God to create this same manner of being.

Let’s get after it….

“You become a champion by fighting one more round.  When things are tough, you fight one more round.”  James Corbett

The Crushing Business of Our Salvation

“God’s response to the belittlement of His name from the beginning of time, has been the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a Roman Cross.”  Matt Chandler

Free gift.  If we’ve been in church long enough you have most likely heard about the “free gift” of salvation, offered to us by Jesus’ atonement on the cross and by His death-defeating resurrection.  But the term “free gift”….it just doesn’t sit right with me.  It never has.  A “free gift” is what you find at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box or the t-shirt you get when you sign up for a new credit card at the airport.  Now I understand the theology and the well meaning intent behind this statement.  You and I have done nothing to earn Heaven.  Our salvation comes strictly because of what God did on our behalf.  This is absolutely true.  We didn’t ever “find God” as the saying goes.  He found us.  Yet somehow, to me, this term reduces the power and value of this grace that we’ve been offered….

Just this morning I read an article about a group of Jewish activists (if interested, check out The Temple Institute’s website) in Jerusalem that are planning to conduct the ritual Passover sacrifice of a lamb in full view of the Temple Mount.  Historically speaking, an unblemished lamb is bled out and it’s blood is caught in cups and sprinkled on an altar.  It is then hung on hooks, skinned and it’s fat is burned.  This is not a “pretty” thing but at the time of the Old Testament writings it was necessary, per God’s instructions.  In my opinion this was a tame foreshadowing of what the one true “Lamb of God” had to endure.

Familiarity can tend to breed indifference.  Many people have grown up hearing the story of Jesus’ crucifixion told through classical art, stained glass windows and felt boards in Sunday School.  However, if we only see Jesus’ sacrifice through this lens, it easily becomes sterilized and loses its power.   It inadvertently becomes just another story we grew up hearing as we file it away in our minds under “religion.”

Have you ever thought this through?  I mean really thought it through….

We don’t pause to hear the lies and abuse heaped upon Him by the false accusers.  We don’t see His expression when all of his friends desert Him when he’s taken into custody.  We don’t hear the crack of the whip and the tearing of His flesh as he’s flayed open.  We don’t hear the mocking as He’s beaten or see the spittle dripping off of his swollen face.  We can’t imagine watching a human being, let alone Jesus, being laid out in front of us on planks of wood as iron spikes are violently driven through his hands and feet….hearing his gasps and guttural groans as he’s lifted up for all to see…hanging there for three hours being mocked, insulted, cursed and told to come down from the cross.

“‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!  He’s the king of Israel!  Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him.  He trusts in God.  Let God rescue him now if he wants him….'”  Matthew 27:42 & 43(a)

Yet Jesus stays.  Faithfully doing the will of His Father, so that those doing this to Him and those who continue to mock God today, have a chance to be with Him in Heaven.

“Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”  Luke 23:34(a)

Then for the first time in all of eternity, the Father leaves Jesus as the full weight of the world’s sin bears down on the Lamb.  ‘My God!  My God!  Why have you forsaken me?’ (see Matthew 27:46)  I can’t help but imagine His cry came from a place of pure, heart wrenching anguish.  Yet still, He stays.   Never wavering.  Strength.  He knew this is why He had come….to seek and save the lost, of which you and I either were or still are.

Let us be purposeful in that when we think about this gift of salvation, we no longer think of it as receiving a “free gift” but instead, the most costly of gifts.  Purchased in the most sacrificial way….by way of a most tortuous death.  His life for ours.  Only then will we begin to see and grasp the true nature and depth of the God’s love for us.

“My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Jesus speaking in John 15:12 & 13

 

Choose to See

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to cause many ripples.”  Mother Teresa

Poverty.  This can mean many things to many people but most see it in a negative connotation.  However poverty opens up many doors we would never get the opportunity to walk through otherwise.  Let me explain what I mean.

Downtown Chicago, 2014.  It was late afternoon and I had just crossed the DuSable Bridge on foot and was taking in the sites of the famous “Magnificent Mile” on Michigan Avenue.  It was an extremely busy afternoon, the sun was shining and well dressed shoppers bustled about from shop to shop.  As I continued my walk through the endless stream of people, my gaze was drawn downward.  Sitting on the sidewalk by one of the many concrete planter boxes that line the street, was an African American woman who seemed to be in very dire straights.  She was by herself and not asking for help but instead stared at the ground, despondent and weeping.  I paused for a split second to take in the scene because it was so startlingly out of place.  Person after person continued to walk past her…maybe hundreds or even thousands had passed her by over the course of the day.

Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.'”  Luke 10-30-32  

I made my way to her and putting my hand on her shoulder, I knelt in front of her on one knee, introduced myself, asked her name and inquired about how I could help.  With tears streaming down her cheeks she explained, “I have been sitting here all day asking for help and no one has even talked to me.”

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody…I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty, than the person who has nothing to eat.”  Mother Teresa 

Over the course of our conversation and in the midst of the passing crowd I was able to pray with her, speak the Fathers’ truth into her ear, that she was deeply loved by God, listen to her story and help her in a practical way.  I believe the Lord guided the conversation that day and He (not I) get any and all the credit.  I am just grateful for the opportunity to have played a role in what He was doing in her heart and life at that moment….what an honor.

“‘But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him….Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell….?  

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.'”  Luke 10:33 & 34, 36(a) & 37

Poverty is all around us.  Not just physical poverty but also spiritual poverty, as could be reflected by the multitudes who passed by the woman in need that day.  There is a direct correlation between the depth of our walk with God and how we treat those around us, especially those who can do nothing for us.  I believe my “chance” meeting was actually a “divine appointment” where God, in His great wisdom, had a guy from Oregon be in that place at that time to give a specific word of hope to a soul who needed to hear it.  The Good Shepherd is always searching….

You and I have countless opportunities (I know that I have also missed many of these) to reflect the light and love of Jesus in this dark world.  If you choose not to, heir of God through Christ, then who will?  “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they  may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16 

Be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit in your life and don’t let the fear of being “different” keep you from obeying His direction.  The blessing of stepping out in faith in this manner can be as rich for you as it is for the person you’re speaking with.  Train your eyes, mind and heart to see Jesus Himself in their faces and remember His words, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, YOU DID FOR ME.” (emphasis mine)  Matthew 25:40

Be ready.

“Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.”  Rich Mullins