Posts Tagged ‘service

02
Sep
13

Living the love of God instead of just talking about it

As I watched the “Secret Millionaire” show last evening, which featured Tri Coastal Community Outreach which I have worked closely with for seven years, I was struck again by how ignorant many Christian denominations are when it comes to charity. For reasons that escape me, there is a belief among some branches of our faith that it is a bad thing to help people in any way except preaching the Bible to them. I believe this is not only shortsighted but also in direct opposition to what Jesus said in the parable recorded in Matthew 25:34-46.

When someone has been beaten down by life’s storms, the last thing they need (usually) is someone to slam a Bible over their head and tell them to believe. When someone has seen their home washed away, their job dissolved, their family split apart or their physical body break down; the last thing they need to hear is that they are a sinner and all these things happened to them because they sinned.

When I dropped everything in May of 2006 and took off for the Gulf Coast to try and help those who were in great need after Hurricane Katrina, I had one goal in mind and that was to be of service. I of course had my Bible with me and studied it faithfully, but I did not embark on my journeys to be an evangelist but rather to be a servant.

Many times I found myself loading or unloading trucks in 99 degree heat, tearing out rotten drywall in a mold infested house, running all over three states trying to find supplies when none were to be found and numerous other menial tasks. My greatest joy came when I was able to be a part of a distribution day at one of the outreach centers when food and other supplies were passed out.

I remember vividly handing a package of toilet paper to an older lady at a distribution center one day. I had to drive nearly 100 miles to find that paper due to shortages. Upon receiving the package, the woman broke down in tears and thanked the Lord for His faithfulness over and over again. How can helping someone SEE the love of God in manifestation be wrong?

When I wasn’t actually helping people I was traveling across the United States trying to present the needs I had witnessed to churches, ministries and other groups who claimed they wanted to help people. For the most part my appeals landed on deaf ears. Time and again I heard the same excuses which were that these people needed to help themselves and just “giving them things” did not help them rebuild their lives.

If more Christian preachers and teachers spent less time talking and more time putting on their work clothes and helping someone rebuild their home, clean their yard or find supplies to stay alive; more people would come to the Lord by seeing the love of God in manifestation than just hearing about it on Sunday morning. Those who live their faith provide a far greater testimony to the faith than those who simply want to talk about it.

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23
Apr
13

Are we really willing to “surrender all” to our Lord?

If you added together all of your assets and subtracted all of your liabilities, you could determine your net worth. Your net worth represents the sum and total of all you own in this world. If you have a lot, you are considered wealthy. If you have very little, you are considered poor. If you have nothing, you are considered destitute.

If you added together all of your friends and subtracted all of your enemies, you could determine your popularity. Your popularity represents the sum and total of how many people think you are “cool” and like you. If you have scores of friends, you are considered popular. If you have a fair number of friends you are considered “normal”. If you have few or no friends, you are considered a social outcast.

If you added together how important your decisions are, you could determine how much power you have. Your power is directly reflected in how many people are directly impacted by what you say and do. Simply put, the more powerful you are, the more lives depend on the words you speak, the things you do and the decisions you make.

According to the world’s standards, unless you are wealthy, popular and powerful you are a failure. According to the world’s standards, unless you have everything money can buy, are a beloved celebrity and a person of powerful influence you are a failure. According to the world’s standards, unless you devote all your time and energy to earning money, developing huge “friends lists” and becoming a powerful figure in the world you are a failure.

That which defines greatness in the world’s eyes is NOT what defines greatness in God’s eyes. God does not care how wealthy you are, how many friends you have or how much power you command. In fact, God demands that a person be willing to surrender all of these things if they truly want to commit themselves to Him. No man can serve two masters, thus each one of us must decide whether we will serve God or mammon.

Money, popularity and power usually distract and make it impossible to serve and love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Money, popularity and power may enable a person to become a celebrity in the world’s eyes, but usually drive a person away from God. Who needs God if you have money, friends and power?

The only way to determine how committed you are to God is to determine how much you are willing to surrender to serve Him. Anything you are unwilling to surrender represents something in your life more important than God. Unless we are willing to empty our bank accounts, become unpopular and become a servant instead of a master, we cannot say we are fully committed to Jesus.

Tell me how important money, friends and power are to you and I will tell you how committed to the Lord Jesus you are. Would you be willing to live in a cardboard box, with no friends or influence if God asked you to do it? Would you be willing to sell everything and live as a vagabond if God demanded it? Would you be willing to be a destitute social outcast if God so willed?

PLEASE, take a few minutes and ponder “I Surrender All” by Clay Crosse. Please take a few minutes and honestly determine where you are at and what God wants you to do with and in your life.

30
Mar
11

The long road back

Let us be honest; there is a mold which supposedly good Christians are to fit into.  I call this cookie cutter Christianity.  For the most part this mold consists of going to church on Sunday and living a decent and upright life with no terrible vices.  Unfortunately this mold also involves the watering down of the Christian message as well as severe judgment on anyone who appears to be either too much of a fanatic or a hypocrite.

 
A very long time ago, it became obvious to me that I didn’t fit the standard Christian cookie cutter mold.  My beliefs, values and views on living the Christian life angered both the ultra liberal and conservative sides of Christianity.  I have been called a paradox, a lunatic, a renegade, a revolutionary and many other “interesting” names since becoming a Christian nearly 42 years ago.

 
I can count on my hands and feet the number of times someone has offered me genuine support over the years and complimented me on “breaking the mold”.  I cannot begin to count all the thousands of times I have been scorned, rebuked, rejected and renounced for things I have advocated or done, especially when trying to help someone through a tough stretch in their lives.

 
Christians are some of the most judgmental people I know.  They pass judgment based upon what they have been taught and thus believe.  Anyone who does not fit their mold is automatically assumed to be a sinner or a wolf intent on deceiving the precious hearts of those who passively sit back and accept everything they hear as truth without ever searching the scriptures to see if it is.

 
Many years ago I allowed my independent streak to destroy my ministry.  I succumbed to the mistaken belief that I was someone special.  When I lost sight of the truth that my life is hid in Christ and only through the grace of God do I have anything good within me, I failed and I failed badly.  I spun out of control, crashed and burned a quarter of a century ago.

 
I spent years of my life crawling out from the hole I dug myself into.  I spent years condemning the day I was born and the day I was born again because I so condemned myself for not being perfect.  While others who committed worse atrocities than I went about their merry way pretending they never were wrong, I did what I felt was right and that was to vanish until God said it was time to return.

 
It took the better part of TWENTY years before God once again opened the door to actively minister His love and mercy to others.  It took nearly TWENTY years, many of them wandering through the dark night of the soul, to get to the point where I honestly believed God still loved me, had forgiven me and wanted me to once again reach out and act as His minister.

 
Christians waste so much time judging and condemning other Christians for backsliding and/or sinning. If more time were spent gently helping those who lost their way find the way back home; the results would be astounding.  Let me tell you a secret.  In the TWENTY years it took for a once strong and independent man (me), whose spiritual backbone was broken, to come back; not one single person ever offered their help or even their prayers to me.

 
When God let me know it was time to once again actively serve Him, the incredible joy was tempered by the fact that contrary to my service in the past, this time there would be no glory and no fame.  This time there would be no special benefits, no Rev. in front of my name or people fighting each other to get into my good graces.

 
I have learned that a servant of the Lord must labor in obscurity and seek to minister to people, one heart at a time.  I have learned this service has nothing to do with ME but rather everything to do with God and helping others know Him, see His amazing grace and get a glimpse of His awesome love.  Because I learned these things, God has allowed me to resume being a voice crying in the wilderness and someone willing to speak the truth in love.  Only this time, I could care less if anyone even knows who I am.

 
God did indeed throw open the doors 5 years ago and I will forever thank Him for allowing me the opportunity to give, share and represent Him as His humble servant once again.  That is growth, my friends and that is most definitely breaking the mold in a million pieces.