Monday, January 31, 2011

It's OK

On Saturday morning I walked the Daytona 5k. It wasn't my first 5k but it was my first official physical challenge of 2011. My goal in 2011 is to do at least one physical challenge every month. I met Marc Lightner through facebook and twitter (@daytonamarc). Marc was working one of the 5k water stations. He shot the photo below after I walked by the water station. I'm the big guy in the orange shirt. I wrote the words below on Saturday afternoon.

"It's OK that many are ahead of you, running faster. It's OK that many have finished. You're here at the end of the line and it's OK. You're making progress one step at a time. It's OK. You're doing your best. I'm right here. Right behind you. Cheering you on. Giving you the power and the strength to take the next step. If you need to stop and rest, it's OK. I'm proud of you." -- God

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

He Just Wanted One Thing

I've lost track of how long I've been working with the homeless. My journey into their world began after I met Ray and Susan Kelley from the Daytona Outreach Center. They messed me up by introducing me to the parts of the Bible that some of us choose to ignore. Those challenging, messy, uncomfortable and inconvenient parts of the Bible that ask you and I to serve and love the dirty, the weak, the lonely, the hurting and the poor.

Tonight started just like any other night at the homeless cold weather shelter at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. 30 homeless men and women arrived at about 7 and we served them dinner. After dinner our homeless guests set up their mats and blankets so that they could watch a movie and go to sleep. When the lights go down and the movie starts, I say "good night" to my homeless friends and head home. God had more for me to do tonight.

As I was leaving the shelter a homeless man tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Sir, could I ask you a favor?" I stopped and waited for him to ask me for socks, more blankets, a bus pass or a couple of bucks. "Could we go somewhere quiet, like the inside of the church? I'd like to pray and talk with you a few minutes", he said. My cynical, jaded attitude changed instantly.

I walked with my new homeless friend Gary to the church. He sat and prayed. I gave him some time alone and then I walked in to spend some time with Gary. "What did you pray for tonight", I asked. With tears in his eyes Gary said, "Guidance. I need God to give me guidance because I don't know what to do."

During our time together I found out that Gary had only been homeless for two weeks. He had never been homeless before. Alcohol, broken relationships and unemployment dropped him into the world of homelessness. "Mike, I need to get off these streets. I feel like I'm going insane", Gary said.

I prayed with him and we walked back to the shelter. I hugged him, said "good night" and he laid down on his mat.

I will always remember Gary who asked for just one thing.

Gary gave me permission to share his picture, this story and the video below of his time in prayer.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bible Bullets

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. -- Job 2:13

We often think of grief and loss only in the context of death, but I have
seen it in all aspects of life. People experience loss when they lose a job, a
relationship, their sense of safety, or even a long held dream. Moreover, the
process of grief often stirs up our deepest hurts and our worst thoughts
about ourselves and the world around us. It brings up all of those things and then amplifies and connects them, weaving a pattern of hurt through our lives.

When faced with someone who is grieving we trip and stumble in our
help or we just run from it. We don’t know what to do. We are left to search for words or deeds to somehow fix it, and we feel helpless. But really, the only thing that can help is being present – being near, being silent, being there
for those who are traveling this unsure and ever-changing journey.

"Sometimes, "Bible bullets" can be deadly. Our hurting friends don't always need our opinion or our Biblical expertise on why things are falling apart around them. Maybe they just need a friend to sit with them and say nothing." -- Rough Cut Men

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

"Just love them like Jesus, carry them to Him
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side
Love them like Jesus"
-- Casting Crowns

Words from 1968 for Today

“If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.” -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

The day after the shooting tragedy in Tuscon, Arizona, some of the words below from Robert F. Kennedy seemed to be as real today at they were in 1968. Prior to a scheduled campaign appearance, Kennedy was informed about the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

He was advised by local police against making the campaign stop which was in a part of the city considered to be a dangerous ghetto. But Kennedy insisted on going.

He arrived to find the people in an upbeat mood, anticipating the excitement of a Kennedy appearance. He climbed onto the platform and inquired as to whether or not the crowd knew – and then, realizing they did not know, he spoke.

"I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black - considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible - you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization - black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love - a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much."

Robert F. Kennedy - April 4, 1968

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Handmade Love

Elaine is a dear friend that God and social media brought into my life. She and her husband Jim create "handmade love" for our homeless friends that visit the cold weather shelter at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. What is "handmade love"? Some call them scarves. I like to call them "handmade love". See the photos of our friends wearing "handmade love".

Photos from my friend Christie.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pray First Then Feed One

By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped. -- Ecclesiastes 4:12 (The Message)

Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone - Andy Stanley

Monday, January 3, 2011

My First Vlog: Hills and Obstacles

Remember that the only way to get to, and climb the mountain, is to go through the valley. -- Sharon Bloomingdale Isberner