Monday, March 31, 2008

My Confession-I call for accountability

I'm more addicted to fantasy than I am to real life.
I see this because I desire to passively watch a fantasy world in a movie or novel than I do to fully immerse myself in this life, as it is now, resting in all circumstances regardless of how I feel and receiving the grace of God.

I'm addicted to counterfeit pleasures outside of God. Instead of indulging in the goodness of God and receiving His benefits and blessings, I settle almost every day for counterfeits from sexual ones to gluttony to caffeine to laziness and passivity.

Instead of humility, I've settled for self-pity and a victim mentality.
Instead of contentment, I've settled for indulgence sexually, physically and emotionally.
Instead of loving others, I've settled for patronizing for my own ends and my own glory.
Instead of love toward God, I've settled for doing things for God unto my own ends and my own glory.
Instead of taming my selfish nature into submission to my will and my will in submission to my spirit, and my spirit in submission to the Spirit of God, I've fed the appetites of myself, almost everyday.

I am NOT the person people think I am. I am a hypocrite. Many Christians will chastise me now for being so "hard on myself" and condemning myself, but that's not what I'm doing. I'm just being truthful about my nature. I do not condemn myself because my only hope is the Lord and I intend to lay hold of that hope by receiving His grace and love.

Here's my vision and this is what I want to be held accountable to:

I want to be content.
I want to rest only in God and the blessings He gives me.
I want to stop being greedy and indulging my selfish nature.
I want to stop living in a fantasy world (movies and novels) and give myself to the actual life that God's called me to.
I want to fall in love with God and all that God is in love with. I want to love the things His heart loves.
I want to live for His glory and not my own. I am not on the streets for my own glory.
I don't know if this is complete, but it covers some key principles.

Help me. Let me help you. Let's get real and honest and live, truly live.

Groanings of my Spirit

Turmoil is happening inside me. I cannot disguise it for I would be dishonest if I did. It's hard to contend and hold on to hope and faith. It's hard to believe that God can still be for me in the midst of all this when I see the violent rebellions and uprisings of my selfish nature which I can't seem to quench. I'm supposed to violently be taking the Kingdom of God, but it seems like I do just the opposite. I don't look for pity for I'm totally to blame for not staying in abiding in the Spirit of God. I'm just looking, grappling for answers and wondering if any can offer me any hope of my ever gaining enough resolve to just fall in love with God's way, and see the end of myself. I haven't yet. My motives remain corrupt, even in the midst of the radical steps of obedience I've taken to the Lord.

If I could just fall in love and receive Your love! If I could just totally turn from me toward You! If I just had some hope that one day I would overcome and be totally and only in Your love and service! I want to know God, I really do, but not enough to actually let go and do just that! Would You allow some measure of assurance? I know You are for me and not against me because You love Your creation, but my resolve is utterly weak and decrepit.

You call simply for us to receive and accept Your way. All we must do is believe in all that You've already done. Your way has been established. I don't have to produce anything. All I have to do is totally believe. Vestiges of my heart still doubt and do not believe!

Will my enemy (my selfish nature) swallow me just like the fish that swallowed Jonah? Or will you reach out with a mighty hand and outstretched arm on my behalf and defeat my selfish nature? Would you break my iron grasp and let my selfish nature die? Let love be released. I want to fully and totally love You and all that You love.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Word on the Street #2

How's this for a good subject line? I think it's quite fitting. You all know that last week was a hard week for me being my first one on the streets. This week has improved one hundred fold simply by merit that I have gotten used to where I am. I'm getting to know people, enjoying being immersed in the culture, and keeping my eyes on Jesus and representing him to these people. God is providing for all of my needs. I have tangibly felt your prayers last week in a way I never did before. This week has seen me more established and settled. People know me now (and I'm getting to know more all the time), they know what I stand for, and I've had the opportunity to minister, pray, and love these people more-something that God is teaching me more to do. A few guys I've met have started calling me "Red" (Gee, I wonder why?). My hair is sort of red, but especially my facial hair is red and so I guess Red is my street name now. I kind of like it, especially since it's my favorite color. I want to have God's heart more than anything-because He loves these people, so do I. I truly want to be able to say that. I've been volunteering some (here and there) at the Lighthouse Mission-a wonderful group of people who love Jesus and have poured out kindness on me, I've joined a recreation and outreach program at a Calvary Baptist Church which gives out sack lunches to the homeless, provides showers (Praise God, because I needed one!), as well as a gym, weight room and game room. They've even offered me access to their media center/library if I need to be alone to pray or I want to study. I've enjoyed listening to a lot of stories since I have so much down time to talk and listen to people. Sometimes I wonder if God doesn't just have me out here to hear some stories, but I know that can't be it. I have hope to offer. The biggest thing I've had to remember is that I have an aim. God drills that into my head over and over and warns me not to get lazy or aimless-it's SO easy to do. I am out here to serve, love, listen, mediate healing and salvation, and learn. Something else I've been thinking about is how I don't want to receive government based charity/social programs. I'm not interested in having tax dollars spent on me; I'm more interested in trusting God to provide my needs and giving the body of Christ the opportunity to be generous. This is something I hadn't really thought about until I got out here and God sort of convicted me some about it.

I've also wrestled with the tension between the theoretical and practical. In school, I dealt with books and theology and beliefs and so now I find myself out here trying to iron out the specifics of my theology so that I know exactly how to communicate to people. I guess there's good in that, but I think the Lord wants me to just reach out in love and prayer to these guys. I even had a stranger tell me last night (without knowing about my ponderings), "It's not about how you think or perceive, it matters who you talk to." That's not always good advice, but in my case, I think it was. It's new territory for me to just sit and listen to someone and I think that it's good to do that. This email is getting long and so I'll jump to prayer requests now. Check out my site listed below though-I will include soon some of what God's shown me in His Word.

I also praise God for this Easter weekend. On Sunday, I was blessed to celebrate Christ's resurrection and remember all the victory which He's brought me into. I have far to go, and yet I'm thankful for all He's done so far. I also was blessed to see many friends and go to an all-night prayer vigil.

1. Mark and Jennifer are a couple I met outside the central library. They talk like they know Jesus, but they think in terms of doing good works and not in receiving God's grace. Jennifer also has asthma, which I prayed for her healing for. Pray for revelation and my opportunities to minister to them.
2. Texas is a guy I've run into a lot. He's really cool and we're hitting it off. Pray for his salvation.
3. Rick is another gentleman I met outside the library. He claims to have put faith in Jesus and I won't be the one to say he hasn't. Prayer for an encounter beyond mental assent-a chronic problem among many of the homeless I've seen. Full surrendur is the name of the game and life transformation.
4. Steve-continued healing for his back, recovery from alcoholism and depression, and salvation in Jesus Christ.
5. Mark-a dude I met and prayed for with emphezema.
6. Derek-a buddy I've been hanging out with a lot. Pray for an encounter with Jesus.
7. Alphonso-I just met and prayed for this guy today. He seems to have a sincere desire for Jesus, but struggles with cutting, suicidal thoughts, and angery rage which takes control of him (possibly demonic?)

Also, pray for my motives out here and that I won't slip into spiritual pride regarding what I'm doing. I pray every day I think that God would actually give me deep-rooted love for these guys because I know that I don't love them like He does and I really want to.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Life Devoted to Something

As I've been out here, I've constantly been faced with the temptation toward aimlessness and cop-out. Not only is this a tendency among many homeless who have grown apathetic toward life, but this has been a tendency in my own life as I get distracted and try so many different things that I enjoy. I call it balance when it's actually just selfish distraction. So many homeless downtown here will just go and sip coffee and watch tv for hours at McDonald's and that would be so easy for me to do! Many come to the public library and just read books all day long. That would be so easy for me to do because I love reading and yet God keeps showing me that I have a purpose out here. It's not aimless. I'm embarking on a ministry and vocation and I represent God, Himself. I must be in a constant state of abiding in Christ and receiving His love that I can truly love those which I encounter out here on the streets. As far as I'm concerned, I have no room to do anything which does not pertain toward the purpose of taking care of myself and walking in the vocation God has set before me. Pray for me as I set this challenge before myself and die daily to my flesh nature.

I've also been tempted to think that a good vocation means to make good money and provide for yourself, but this is not true. God is my provider. My vocation is that which God has created for me to focus on and put myself to. It's ok to enjoy many different types of activities, but sooner or later, I'm going to have to point out who my God is and set my hand to the plow without turning back or turning toward other things. I need to be about the business of building relationships, loving people on these streets, praying for these people and abiding in Christ so that I can receive prophetic direction from His Spirit in how to really meet these people's needs deep down. Even results are not my responsibility. My responsibility is to obey and leave the results to the working of God's Spirit among these people.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Update #1 on the Streets

18 March 2008

I actually slept in a parking garage last night. I've never done anything like that before. I haven't found a place yet where I'm confident to hide my sleeping bag during the day, but I'm learning the ropes, that's for sure. I need wisdom though. These guys (such as Kevin) have head-knowledge and good textbook answers, but I don't think he has a very living faith. I think Leo does. The devil tried cornering me theologically with Kevin and tried to get me to doubt my own authenticity. I need wisdom on how to speak truth boldly. It'd be too easy if I just burned time at the library and so on like a lot of these guys do, but I'm here on spiritual pilgrimmage and ministry. Looks like Keith has left town-that was quick.

This is crazy-I am in the Hope Center as we speak to sleep as a homeless man. I read the Scripture in the library today, talked awhile with people. I especially enjoyed eating at Lighthouse with some godly people as well as at a Methodist potluck with some worship afterwords. I've truly enjoyed the moments of familiarity because this is a huge change.

19 March 2008

It's raining like crazy. I just had a TB skin test done. This has been hard, but it's good. Like I said, it's my dream vocation. I still don't really know my role. I feel unsure of myself. I don't talk a whole lot. This is out of comfort zone. I have no money, though I could if I wanted to. But, I'm good. I'm with a good group of guys, out of the rain, and with a full stomach of food. Help me adjust more. I'm truly blessed.

I feel like I'm in a Jesus situation. In the Gospel of John, "Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." I don't know who to entrust myself to or what to do with myself, but for my part, I won't fear. Prophetic guidance will come, opportunities will present themselves. They will come. I will trust You.

You know, I'm not comfortable because this is not home, but this exposes some problems in me. The middle-class lifestyle I was born into isn't home either. Heaven is home. So, why am I getting so comfortable here? That is, on earth? I should only be comfortable in the will of God. Bring me brokeness.

I walked through a "hurricane" today to reach Consolidated Baptist for lunch and it was a good lunch; it was worth it. The kind people also dried my clothes for me which were sopping wet though I was wearing a poncho. These are highlights of God's kindness through people. Teach me to humbly receive and give me the faith to give the same way Jesus did. Heaven is my home; I have no other. This is my season for now. I'm not concerned about food; there's plenty of it. I just want to find a place of ministry and do the things Jesus did and is doing. Love, peace, self-sacrifice; all unconditional. I don't have to control my destiny-You do. Teach me to love these guys. I have thought less of them. I have worried about being "stuck" with these homeless. Now I am one and I choose to take great pleasure in doing Your will because You love us. It's ok to covet the alone time with You Father, for Jesus did that too, but He did not neglect the masses or His disciples and I can't either. Help me to know how to engage. Here's to You, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, my family and friends, and the saints, and my companions, the homeless. Remove all partiality on my part-Your love is unequaled and equal to all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Life Vision Statement

I'm a pilgrim journeying the ancient path (Jer. 6:16) in an honest search for real life. This path is the path which all mankind has sought; eternity with God is its reward and this path's existence is written on the hearts of all people (Eccl. 3:11).

This path represents the ultimate reality and abundant, immortal life that all humankind searches for and God revealed this path in a single God-man, Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:1ff, Jn. 1).

By the guidance and power of God's Spirit (Is. 30:21), I put my faith in the man Jesus, by turning continually from the path of self-gratification, worldly lust and ultimately self-destruction and turning to the ancient path (Lk. 14:27,33, Jer. 6:16), by believing, repenting, confessing, and embodying the words and works of Jesus (becoming like Jesus; Heb. 11:1-3,12:2) for He embodies all the words and works of God.

I walk this path only by God's grace and mercy freely offered on the basis of Jesus' pioneering work on my behalf and by the power of God's Spirit inside me (Heb. 12:2), for there is no other name given under Heaven by which people can be saved (Acts 4:12).

This ancient path results in unending and abundant, real life right now (Jn. 10:10, Jer. 6:16). God is the source of this kind of life. This life is rest for my soul (Mt. 11:28-30, Heb. 4) and is supreme liberation and simplicity where my relationship with God is my supreme pleasure (Ps. 87:7, Deut. 6:5).

By living in real life, I'm regularly and gradually being redefined embodying Jesus more everyday and become a conduit of real life from God to the rest of the world.

The proclamation and embodiment of Jesus, substantiated with the miraculous and supernatural, results in the fullness of life for all who adopt this ancient way established by God's hand, the establishment of God's kingdom on earth, and the restoration of all creation.

In this, all the universe will enjoy the supreme pleasure of knowing God.

I live only to know God and bring others into the knowledge of God that they might join me on this path and journey.

If the deeds and works of God don't flow from me, don't believe my message.

This reality is my life-blood and occupation.

Jesus is the only source of real life, I choose to live the real life of simplicity and supreme enjoyment of God and to bring this life to the rest of the cosmos.