Tag Archives: Jesus

giving up to gain

there wasnt much to do when i arrived at hope cottage on friday morning.  soup was on the burner warming up, coffee and tea were brewing in their respective pots, and sandwiches had all been made up for the day.  brian make quick work of the morning routine.  i found him at the back of the dining room hall nose-deep in his new book, the hunger games when i came in.  we exchanged a nod and a friendly morning grunt.  yes, we grunt when we see one another.

primitives, we are.

morning meal didnt draw much of a crowd.  gst cheques came in on thursday.  tim came into help serve and we got talking about life.  tim is only a couple of years older than i but with his grey beard seems about 20 years my senior.  i dont tell him that though.  its too soon in our knowing one another to tease about silly things like that.  tim limps a bit when he walks because of an old injury and serves coffee and tea with a giant smile on his face.

thanks for all you do, tim.

after breakfast, andrew asked me if i was interested in making soup.  having never made soup before i decided to take him up on the offer.  but first, lunch.  eggs, chorizo sausages and toast with a glass of orange juice.

mmm.

what looked and seemed like a great combination turned into anything but.  a collective belly ache came over the three of us (terry, our director joined us).  it made for an uncomfortable early afternoon.

never.  having.  that.  combo.  again!

on to soup making.

andrew got me to do most of the work.  something about learning better from doing.  sure, sure, lazy boy (kidding).  he lead me through the process.  boiling the chickens, tearing off all the meat, dicing up the meat, adding spices, veggies and rice, and voila!  chicken rice soup.
ill have to see how the crowd likes it on monday morning.  if any get sick im blaming it on andrew though.  thats legit, right?

in the midst of making soup, andrew and i got to talking about homelessness and poverty in our city.  what i learned was valuable.

a few years back, andrew went on a missions trip to the ukraine.  while there he witnessed what he described to me as the worst imaginable poverty.  it rocked his world and changed his perspectives.  upon returning back home, he felt some personal changes were in order.  he told me he felt a calling from God to give more of himself to the local poor and homeless community in halifax. unfortunately, working two jobs didnt afford him much time to do much of anything. so he did what any reasonable person would do – he quit his jobs.

with ample free time on his hands he devoted himself to volunteering at hope cottage, serving food and helping with whatever he could.  he loved it.  it filled a need in the community while also filling a hole in his heart.  that hole in all our hearts that can only be filled when we love our neighbor as ourself.

shortly after volunteering at hope andrew was asked if he wanted to be hired on as a member of the fulltime staff.  his desire to gives himself more to the local poor and homeless community lead to a completely different career. what a great example of what it looks like to really trust God with ones life; to step out in faith and sacrifice your comfort for some thing much larger than yourself.

inspiring to say the very least.

andrew is just another guy trying to follow Jesus the best he can.  im darn glad we are friends.

“human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” -mlk

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christmas day

i think christmas flew by faster this year than any year previous.  im finally starting to see and believe what all those grown ups told me as i was growing up – ‘better enjoy your younger years because they will fly by when you are older’.  i always scoffed at those would-be fortune tellers, only to now see the value in their words.

time does fly by much faster now.

regardless of how fast it went, the memories wont so quickly to vanish with the season.  this christmas was one of the most memorable ones for me.

heres why:

a few weeks before christmas i began asking some of the guys i know on the street what they would be doing for the holidays.  some were heading out-of-town to see family, while others had no plans of even celebrating.  christmas is a rough time for a lot of people.  for the guys i know on the streets its usually very rough.  depression, extra anxieties, suicidal feelings are par for the course. the past has a way of doing some extra haunting around the christmas season.

the wonderful part about living by myself in my humble basement apartment is that i no longer have to ask any roommates if they mind when i invite guys in.  i had roommates in the past who were ‘ok’ with having them in, though they usually disappeared behind their locked bedroom doors, but most were not as inviting.

ignorance is a heck of a thing.

so with no roommates to ask about having a christmas party, invites were liberally thrown out to many of the guys i share every day life with on the street.

craig told me he would come.  craig is as old as my dad but about half the size (my dad is a big man).  he was born with very bad hearing and eyesight.  when you talk to craig you have to speak fairly loud so he can understand you.  you have to struggle equally as hard to understand what he is saying.  while communicating with craig is challenging, when you do have a chance to talk with him you begin to see a kind, intelligent, and thoughtful man who lives a very lonely life.

i picked craig up at the bus stop around the corner and we walked back to my place.  he moved pretty slow as his cane jumped along the pavement in front of us.  i walked on an angle, leaning his way so i can hear what hes saying and speak back into his ‘good’ ear.  he tells me in the 44 years he has spent in halifax no one has ever invited him over for christmas.

44 years without friend or family to celebrate christmas with is a downright sin.

ryan, glen and dave – three of our street soccer players – come over as well.  ryan brings with him some finger foods to pop in the oven.  they’re gone as soon as they hit the coffee table.  he is happy with his contribution, as he should be.  he tells me about the donations he was able to get for some great organizations in the city.  his smile beams as he tells of his selfless accomplishment.  im proud of him like a big brother is of his younger sibling.

we hug it out.

dave grabs the guitar and begins to serenade the group.  he mixes his stories in with the lyrics as he usually does.  dave always has more stories to tell.
glen brings in some chips he was able to buy with some money he received from pan handling.  he gives me a bag full of things he bought kat and i for christmas.  shampoo for kat, socks and gloves for me.

presents are always nice to get on christmas, but these gifts mean more than all of the others.  thinking about glen sitting there on the side of the road pan handling for our christmas gifts chokes me up.  im starting to really understand why Jesus hung out with the homeless so much during His days on earth.

a couple more people join us.  finger foods, christmas cookies and glasses of punch litter the coffee table in my living room.  conversation is lively and uplifting.  everyone seems to have left their cares somewhere else, if only for the afternoon.  moses, my cat, makes his rounds around the room to get his attention and try nibbling off peoples plates.

i sit back in my chair and take it all in.  a big smile comes to my face.  im surrounded by friends and people i love and who love me.

im blessed beyond measure this christmas.

happy birthday, Jesus and thanks for the blessing of friendship, both with You and with my friends on the street.

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he said what?

i had a conversation recently with someone who professed to be a christian but didnt agree with the very words Jesus taught. whats next is some rambling thoughts in my mind about this talk.

*****

‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those that abuse you’- luke 6:27-28

be nice to my enemies?! seriously?

 

‘if anyone would come after me, let me deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will save it’ – mark 8:34-35

dying for the cause?! umm, my pastor never said anything about that..

 

‘if anyone does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple luke 14:33

give up all? everything? you cant be serious..

 

Jesus did and said some crazy things. if you dont believe me, pick up a bible and read the new testament. he filled his inner circle with a ragtag crew of misfits no one else would have dreamed of picking. he picked both a zealot (assassin for the nation) and a tax collector (worked for rome..traitor in the zealots eyes). upon first look that appears to be a very bad idea. he picked fishermen with bad tempers and religious nuts with weird ideas. he even picked a religious terrorist who had been previously killing early christians. not quite the standards of popular leadership today.

he said crazy things like, “i am the way, the truth and the life. no one comes to the father except through me’. the religious people of his time flipped their lids. he threatened their religious authority over the people. their power, their influence, their place in society, everything. then he would say something like, ‘..no one knows the son except the father, and no one knows the father except the son ..’ and really put things in stark terms – he was the only way to know God.

only way to God?! getting pretty exclusive, Jesus.. might want to scale it back or else people might not follow you. you want followers, right..? you can just hear his disciples thinking these things as theyre going along.

see, Jesus didnt simply claim to be a good moral teacher or pretend to be some philosopher people should follow for enlightenment. he claimed to be the one man they were all waiting for – the one that would save them from sin and deliver them into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus didnt say he was one of many saviors, he said he was the only one. ‘ for unless you believe that i am he, you will die in your sins’. no splitting hairs there.

‘abide in me and i in you. as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. i am the vine; you are the branches. whoever abides in me and i in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’ – john 15:4-5

too many people want to dress Jesus up and make him be something that he wasnt. i can understand people calling him crazy. i can understand why some people have no desire to follow him. what i cant understand are those who treat Jesus like a spiritual smorgasbord and take a little of this, leave a whole lot of that. theyd rather mash together a religious system thats easier to follow than what he actually taught. theyd just as easily hide behind ‘thats just your opinion’ time and time again. its really no wonder why many people today cant take christianity seriously. the very people professing to be his followers dont even take him seriously..

‘not everyone who says to me ‘lord, lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven’ – matthew 7:21

rant over/

 

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