Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rear View Mirror

As I wake up this morning and drink my coffee I say to myself, "It's raining cats and dogs. Jake and his girlfriend Linda must be wet. He showed me the hole in his tent on Sunday."

As I write this blog post I think of Norm. After the last big storm he called me to ask if he could use my washer and dryer because everything he owned was drenched.

As I think about what I'll eat for breakfast I remember seeing my homeless friend Oliver in the rear view mirror. As I was getting ready to eat my burrito, he was digging in a dumpster behind a restaurant. I said to myself, "Mike how can you eat this burrito when you see your friend digging out of a dumpster." I gave Oliver my burrito. He needed it more than me.

It gets complicated when God shows you the poor and the broken in your rear view mirror. You can't wake up, drink your coffee or eat your lunch without thinking of them or seeing them.

Thinking of the poor and the broken should only be the first step. It can be inconvenient when God compels you to turn your thoughts into action.

As the storm gets worse and I hear the rain come down in buckets, I know that I'll need to make sure that Jake, Norm and Oliver are okay.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


If the system works for you, it can be quite hard to understand the perspective of people who have the boot of the system on their neck.

If you have the power, it can be hard to understand the voice of those who have no power.

If you have choice, options, and luxuries, it can be hard to fathom the anger of those who don't.

If you have always had enough food, it can be hard to understand the shouts of those whose stomachs are grumbling from hunger.

From the book "Jesus Wants To Save Christians" by Rob Bell.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Do You Do?

What do you do when your friend Jake is homeless, needs a new pair of jeans, is cold and needs something to eat? You make sure that he gets a new pair of jeans, has a warm place to stay and a plate full of hot food.

What do you do when Jake has a 70th birthday? You take him out to lunch with your girlfriend Kristina and her family.

What do you do when Jake needs a new tube for his bike tire? You take him to K-Mart and buy him one. What do you do when Jake invites you to his camp? You follow him and visit his camp.

What do you do when you say goodbye to Jake when you know he is slowing dying from colon cancer? You hug him real hard, whisper in his ear "I love you" and pray that you'll get to see him again.

What do you do after you spend the afternoon with Jake? You realize how much you've been given and how much more you should give.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Do Norm and I Have In Common?

"Oh Crap, Norm Wants To Come Over."

That was my first thought when I was reminded that my homeless friend Norm was coming over to my apartment to do his laundry. I even whined about it on Twitter.

Norm and his backpack full of laundry were waiting for me when I got home. I opened the door and he walked in. What was the first thing that Norm said? "Mike, you've really got a great place. This is really nice!" I've lost track of how many times I've complained about my somewhat crappy apartment. Norm thought it was a palace.

As Norm walked to the laundry room I asked him if he needed something to eat. "Mike, I'm okay. I'm a survivor you know," he said. I convinced Norm the survivor to eat some frozen pasta I heated up in the microwave. When I handed it to Norm he looked at the pasta the same way you and I look at a plate of steak and lobster.

I left Norm, his laundry and bowl of pasta while I went to a nearby Bible study. As I was leaving Norm said, "Mike, don't worry. I'll take good care of the place while you're gone."

When I came home Norm was finishing up his laundry and packing it up in his backpack. I offered Norm a ride to his home in the woods. Norm said, "No. Mike, you've done enough." When I walked into the kitchen I realized that Norm had cleaned his dinner dishes.

As he was leaving Norm asked, "Hey Mike, isn't your son Devon coming to visit soon?" I told Norm that plans had changed and Devon wouldn't be coming to Florida until summer. Norm said, "I'm looking forward to seeing him. He's a good boy. I miss him."

A large man who lives in an apartment and a skinny, homeless man who lives in the woods had something in common. We both missed a boy named Devon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Messy Spirituality

"The mess of our lives and our crippledness is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus." -- Mike Yaconelli

I have seen the hand of God through the acts of friends and family several times over the past few weeks. Michael Perkins is a great man I met through the world of Twitter. A few days ago Michael sent me a direct message. It said, "Mike, I'm sending you a book." The book arrived in the mail and the title got my attention immediately: "Messy Spirituality". It was written by Michael Yaconelli. After the book was originally published Yaconelli died in in a car accident. After his death the book was published as a paperback. His wife Karla wrote the forward. At the end of the foreword she knocks it out of the park by setting the stage for the pages and chapters that follow:

"God actually had a fondness - a downright preference, if you will - for misfits and screwups.

I know if my beloved husband could say anything to those of you who are reading these words and who are about to embark on the adventure of reading this book, it would be this:

Take heart, my friends. You are in good company. You, with all of your faults and imperfections; you, with your defects and failures; you, with your hang-ups and emotional scars; you, with your weaknesses and your defeats; you, with all of your blunders, brokenness, and floundering: you are God's beloved, God's favored, the disciple whose name God calls, the one Jesus prefers to hang with, eat with, play with, talk with, cry with, and laugh with. You are the one whom the holy God of heaven and earth longs to spend time with. You are all of this and more. You always have been. Any you always will be."

-- Karla Yaconelli

The words in this book gave great comfort to me. No matter how much I've screwed up and made a mess of my life Jesus is attracted to me. Guess what? Jesus likes your mess too. As a matter of fact, He prefers you to be messy.

"According to the Bible, Jesus is attracted to the unattractive. He prefers the lost ones over the found ones, the losers over the winners, the broken instead of the whole, the messy instead of the unmessy, the crippled instead of the noncrippled."

-- Mike Yaconelli

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Best Thing That Happened To Me Today?

It wasn't a promotion or an award. It wasn't a raise or praise. It wasn't winning a race or climbing a mountain. It wasn't winning the lottery or losing weight. It wasn't finding my keys or my phone. It wasn't hearing applause or the cheer of the crowd.

The best thing that happened to me today?

My daughter Kiersten posted an extremely special note on my facebook wall:

The best thing that happened to me today?

My son drawing a picture and sending it to me in the mail.

Some would say, including myself, that I haven't been the world's greatest father to my son and daughter. But I believe in a God of second chances. I also believe that God speaks to me through events, situations and people. Today God spoke to me loud and clear through the actions of my daughter and son. He said:

"Mike, stop beating up on yourself. Your son and daughter love you. You've done many things right. Put the past in the past. I've already forgotten it. Why don't you?"

What was the best thing that happened to you today?