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Spiritual Goals

Annie studying her bible in the serene surroundings of the Baker University campus.

Annie studying her bible in the serenity of the Baker University campus.

My spiritual goals for the remainder of 2015:

Grow in my faith and lead my children deeper on their own walks with the Lord. “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity and dignity.”  (Titus 2:7)

Continue humbling myself in serving our city’s poorest and most destitute people, demonstrating God’s mercy and grace to them as it is displayed in me through the power of the Holy Spirit. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor … ”  (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Spend time in the word and in prayer so that I can know God and more clearly distinguish His voice from the chaos of my own thoughts. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17)

Seek God’s strength and wisdom so I can be a leader and a positive influence on the young people I meet in our church’s youth group. With the Lord working in me and through me, they might come to know Him better. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”  (Acts 20:28)

Our Best Work

The past few weeks I’ve been making posts about delivering food and other supplies to the homeless in downtown Kansas City. I have been documenting many of these visits and exchanges on my Facebook page as well as this blog.

This “calling” began with me hearing God direct me to help a man wrapped in a blanket on the side of a busy city street as rush hour traffic passed by obliviously one morning before work (actually, what I saw was a body wrapped from head to toe in a purple comforter and I wasn’t sure if it was male or female, alive or dead.) I was really intrigued at that time by the idea of angels living among us and maybe the homeless being a test of how Christ-like we really are.

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Worldly Belongings

Bill with all his belongings and the food and bottled water we gave him.

Bill with all his belongings and the food and bottled water we gave him.

My son wanted to know more about the man we just fed.

We were a safe distance away from the downtown park where we found Bill sitting alone on a bench with all his worldly belongings by his side, in plastic bags.

My daughters were walking ahead of us and already part-way through the crosswalk when Charlie asked me, “What did that man say? His voice was so quiet, I couldn’t hear him.”

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The Mercy of Grace (with Carrie P.)

On the street with Carrie P.

On the street with Carrie P.

On my walk into work this morning, a woman stopped me near the corner of Grand and 20th Street to ask for money.

“Do you have a dollar for a homeless woman?” she asked.

“I have something better, I told her.

I was carrying a bag of food that my daughter Annie prepared last night for the homeless people who set up camp in the park by my office. I started taking out sandwiches, bags of pretzels and bottled water and handing them to her. I asked her name and she told me it was Carrie P. I noticed right away that she was wearing a cross around her neck.

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More God

“The one who comes from above is superior to all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is superior to all.  He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.  The one who has accepted his testimony has confirmed clearly that God is truthful.  For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he does not give the Spirit sparingly.  The Father loves the Son and has placed all things under his authority.  The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 3: 31-36

I don’t understand how anyone can look at the world we live in today and think, “We need less God.”

I realize there are non-believers, atheists and others who choose to live their lives without faith. The most outspoken among them claim religion is the cause for much of what is wrong with our world. These naysayers can run down a list of wars and other travesties where they site religion as the fruit of the destruction. Their lists begin with the crusades and go through World War II to modern day ISIS.

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“The teaching of Jesus Christ comes with astonishing discomfort to begin with, because it is out of all proportion to our natural way of looking at things, but Jesus puts in a new sense of proportion, and slowly we form our way of walking and our conversation on the line of His precepts. Remember that our Lord’s teaching applies only to those who are His disciples.”

Oswald Chambers, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Hard to Believe

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Early one Sunday morning I rolled over and looked at my bedside table. My bible was lying where it had been all night — a foot away from me, under the reading lamp —  like a protector. I sat up and looked at the book’s leather cover and its sheer weight. I rubbed my eyes, then shook my head and thought, “How did I ever become a Christian?”

Some mornings are like this, especially Sundays when I know in a few hours I’ll be getting dressed and heading to the second service at Life Mission Church. The disbelief also nags at me when I’m putting on my crucifix necklace or catch a glimpse of it in the bathroom mirror when getting ready for the workday. I just wouldn’t have guessed that I would eventually become such a committed Christian. But I am.

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Sons of God

Me and Aadan on a sunrise hike.

Me and Aadan on a sunrise hike.

I made a new best friend at summer camp this year. Here’s an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote during “God time” while we were at camp.

July 8th, 2015  – –  This morning I went on a hike with Aadan, a 12-year-old boy who gave his life to Christ last night. This was the first morning of his new life. I was dressed and ready to slip out of the cabin on a hike, alone, when I saw him searching for his glasses by our bunk beds. I told him I would go fill my water bottle from the well by our lodge and then wait for him by the stairs coming down from our room.

The water was winter cold and I filled up my aluminum bottle and slipped it in my backpack because it was too chilled to hold. Aadan still wasn’t outside yet so I waited for him while watching sparrows make flashes in the underbrush. I was on alert because I knew there were mountain lions and even black bears near our campsite. I still felt weary from the night before – – a 12-hour drive straight through from Kansas City to Colorado Springs followed by a late night, fireside revival.

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Homeless Jesus

Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmalz.

Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmalz.

I learned a long time ago as a punk kid growing up in the Dotte that material possessions are not what this world is about. This was an easy lesson for me because our family had nothing of any real value then (except each other, of course.) I cannot say – at any point of my life – what my most “prized” possession was because my mind doesn’t work that way. I could walk away from my house right now and leave everything if I felt the need – and to tell you the truth, I’ve thought about doing that a lot recently. But all that being said, this statue is the first item I have ever owned that bears any real meaning. My cousin Ron gave this to me on the Fourth of July after reading one of my Facebook posts about helping a homeless man on my drive into work one morning. Ron is a youth leader in his church and, like his father (my uncle Floyd) before him, he has an exceptional ability to relate to children with his sense of humor and, when needed, the stop-you-in-your-tracks-firm-but-tender words of a caring father. Ron has overcome challenges in his life, as we all have, and is deep in his walk with The Lord now. He has masterfully led the proceedings at the funerals for some of my dearest relatives. He has become one of the spiritual leaders for our family. I am honored that he gave me this, Homeless Jesus, which came to him as a gift at a youth conference he attended last month. I’m honored that he thought of me and decided to give it freely – in the true spirit of Jesus. I have to admit – I’m slightly ashamed to say I accepted it. But as any Christian knows, it’s the free gift that Jesus gives that is the most valuable of all. I love you Ron …