Friday, May 28, 2004

Thoughts from a color blind man

Lately, I've been thinking about the things we miss out on in this life. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Hebrews 13:2: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels and not known it." To think that I could pick a man up on the side of the road and he be an angel, interesting. To think that on the day you step foot on the streets of gold and see an angel fly by that has the same face as sweaty and smelly "John" that you picked up on the side of the road in SC. Strangers are very interesting, in a handshake, they become an aquaintence or maybe a new friend.

You can tell a lot about a person in how they treat people, mainly strangers. On a date, watch how your date treats the waitress. In the drive-thru at Zaxby's (of course Zaxby's is the only drive-thru you should be in), watch how people treat the person taking their order. You can listen to a person talk all day long, but the real character comes out when you watch how they interact with the world. One of my buddies tipped the guy at Auto-Zone the other day. I dig that. I love strangers and I love people that love strangers.

A few months ago, I was driving in my Jeep down a dark road in SC. I happen to look to my left and see a glimpse of what I thought was a man standing in the road. I slow down, pull over, and look back. I see nothing. I backed up a few more yards and as car goes by, I can see this person again. The road is pitch black. As I roll down my window, I can definitely now see that there is a person standing in the median of this major highway. I am a little nervous. The only time I can see this person is when a car goes by and the lights illuminate the side of the road. I ask, "Is everything okay?" As soon as the words roll of my lips, I see the shadow of this person as a car goes by and the reflection of a gun behind the shadow. This is where fight or flight kicks in. I'm 20 feet away and in the dark. I must confess that I do carry a 9mm in my Jeep, I tucked into my jeans and jumped out the Jeep. As soon as my feet hit the ground, the person starts walking towards me, I'm scared, I definitely see this stranger with a 12-Gauge shotgun. This situation is not one I would recommend. Everything in me thought something was about to go down, and it did. The scary figure strapping a 12-gauge pump turns out to be a 10 year old boy crying in the middle of the road. As he walked up and this all dawned on me, I asked him, "Is this gun loaded?" He said, "Yes." I took it from him and noticed that it was the same model of shotgun that I grew up with. Sure enough, it was also loaded, 2 in the chamber, 1 in the hole. I calmed him down, put the gun in my jeep and asked him what happened. Apparently his mom's boyfriend left him out in the woods or either he was lost. He didn't know what to do, so he walked to the middle of the biggest highway he could find in the pitch dark. He was hiding the gun because he knew nobody would help him if he were carrying a 12 gauge, so he hid it behind his leg. Wow. Imagine that. We called his mom and he happen to live in my town, so I took him home. Also got a chance to talk with his mom once I got there. She told me that she was going to try and start getting back to church.

This is so much like life and evangelism. Looking from the outside in, you have a man carrying a 12 gauge shotgun, loaded shotgun and standing in the middle of the road. In reality, you have a crying 10 year-old boy who just wants his mommy and a ride home. How many times in this life do we ignore sharing the gospel with someone because they look smarter than us, they raised you, they have more money than you, don't dress like you, don't speak like you, or enter your excuse here. The Bible says that the righteous are as bold as a lion. Be a lion.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Lessons from the dog...

You know, since I've been called to the ministry, I've come to realize a few things. A person in the ministry is called to a different standard of life, not any better of a life, not a "holier than thou" type of life, just different. A life that's not "normal." You can't just marry any girl, the Lord has to be leading her in the same way. I also know that I want to be real with people and unlike the stereotype that many preachers have brought to the world, good or bad.

I subconsciously made a pact, that if I ever had kids, I wouldn't incorporate them into all my messages. I would not talk about the family for every illustration. Well this post is a slap in the face of that. Right now, I can't use a girlfriend for an example, I could use a dog, well I don't have one but my roommate does.

This animal entered into our house a few months back, I've watched her grow from this small puppy, to this big dog. So big now that if she jumps in your lap, you will question your ability to have kids. She's huge. I've learned a lesson about life through a dog. My roomie works a lot and I spend a lot of time alone with the animal. When I walk in the door, the dog about goes nuts to see me. She literally does not want to eat, only cares about being hugged and petted. She doesn't even want to go outside to pee, she cares only for you. When I eat, she sits at my feet, waiting on crumbs to fall. She follows me from room to room, only to lay right back at my feet again. She will do something mean, (like chew my $$ dress shoes) and i scold her, only to find her 5 minutes later, back at my feet, always staring intently, even for crushed ice to fall from my mouth, so she can eat it up! Nasty! but anyway.

I started thinking about my relationship with the Lord. I was sitting at the table with a Zaxby's kickin chicken sandwich in my hand, just watching this dog stare at me. I rarely follow the Lord like this dog follows me. How often do I lay at His feet, after this life has scolded me. How often do I sit under Him at His table, waiting for something to fall from His hand. How often do I sacrifice my wants, my needs, to spend time with Him? It's rare. I'm stuck in this Romans 7 tongue twister life. I want to do what is right, I want to seek Him, but I often don't. My sin strangles the life from me. I hear you Paul!

Just like this post, the thing I never wanted to do, I have just done. Told a story though a dog. Kiki Peaky is her name. At least that's what I renamed her. Hey! Jesus renamed His friends, aren't we supposed to do the same? Just a thought. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Real Life, Real Tough

The title summarizes life as I have journeyed to know it. I'm not sure if there is one person in this world that does not go through hard times at some point. From the people with no money to the people with too much money, we experience hard times. Hard times can come in the form of many things, loss of job, loss of home, loss of wife, loss of husband, loss of car, loss of love, loss of life.

Death is not something that is easy for us to talk about and again, I do not know of one person who can handle it well. The statistics are in, 10 out of 10 people die. The Lord even cried when one of his buddies died. Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus.

About a year ago, my best friend discovered that her dad had cancer. At first, it wasn't sure exactly how bad the cancer was in his body. Eventually, they found out that the cancer was all over and he had a few months to live. Here is a man who had everything, a great job, a beautiful family, a nice home, a nice life. Here is a man who had a smile on his face at every point in the day. A man that brought joy to so many people lives. He never met a stranger, everyone was a friend. Here was a man with a few months to live. I have often asked myself, would I want to know when my time would come. I still do not know the answer to that question, right now I would say no.

During the last few months of his life, many things happened. Gradually the cancer took his strength, his ability to eat, but never to smile. The doctors told us that he had a month to live. He went from walking around in one week to bed-ridden the next week. When we are faced with death, many questions come to mind, many conversations come to mind. I was able to sit down with him and ask about life, ask him about how he felt about the Lord through all this. He said his faith never wavered, he knew God had not left him, he could see the Lord through the people that came to served him and his family. Through the friends that showed him love. He still saw the Lord. I saw these friends, they were always at the house, always serving, never expecting anything in return. I saw God's hand on all of them, through the service of his people. Saints are not dead people, you don't have to die to become a saint, saints are people who have repented of their sins, and put their faith in Christ. They love the Lord and serve Him and serve others.

To that point, I had never sat down with someone and talked about death. The Lord worked in my heart through that conversation. To see someone in so much pain, but occassionally still smiling, moved my heart. A man a few days from death, able to look up with a smile, and say, "hey bud!" Only to go back to sleep.

A few days later, we all sat around him and read him Bible verses. Verses of hope, of a future. It was the day before Good Friday. Over and over, we just read the Bible to him. A beautiful time. On Good Friday, most of everyone had stepped out the room, I stood at the doorway, somewhat looking in. He breathed his last. I walked in the room, then walked back out to tell his daughters. One 18, one 24. Everyone came in the room, standing around just looking. It was an atmosphere that I cannot describe. The oldest daughter, sat on his bed, looked at him for a second, then with a heart full of hope told everyone that this is a day that we should rejoice and be joyful and put a smile on our face. I've never seen one look at death like she did. She put hope in what the world would see as hopeless. We joined hands and just prayed, and prayed, and cried, and rejoiced. There is a verse in Psalm 116:15: "Precious in the sight of the Lord are the death of His saints." As sad as it was to see a man who loved the Lord die, as Christians, we could still have hope. The Lord had not left us, He had not left this man, while we were crying, the Lord was in the process of welcoming him home.

How many conversations should we have had yesterday? Time is short in this life, God has given us today, salvation is today, tomorrow is not promised.


this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Lindsay's First Concert

Ok, so I don't listen to OutKast much, but someone tabbed the song, so we had to play on the guitar. Yes everyone, this is General Taguba's daughter!

this is an audio post - click to play

Struggling Child

As a child, still chewing my tongue. Mom says..."Justin, people are going to think you are special if you keep doing that." I have ever since. Some Habits are hard to break!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Blog Blog Blog

Ok, so I simmered on this for a day, wondering what I might write in this special place on the internet that most people call a "BLOG." I think this is going to be like jumping into cold water, it takes you a while to get used to it. This teaches me to choose my words, I never know who might read them. What if I lived my life like that.

So yesterday I realized that life is too short to complain. I believe complaining is one of the biggest struggles today. People do it all the time, sometimes not realizing it. I sometimes complain but often try to catch myself before it's verbalized. A positive aspect of being a Christian is that God gives us hope and joy through the tough times, something most of the world does not have.

For example, yesterday was a small demonstration of what the great Flood could have been like. It rained like goats and cows. And yes, the top was off my jeep. So I jumped in my tug boat of water and headed to guitar practice. People always give you a funny look when you are in a Jeep with the top off, while it is raining. Or maybe it's because I keep an umbrella over my head at the redlights. Anyway, after practice, it's still pouring and I get to talk to this guy at the door of the music store. You always ask yourself, ok, how can I witness to this guy? Sometimes I do, sometimes I fail. I didn't get to witness to this man, but it was funny how we started our conversation. He says something about all the rain and then..."Wouldn't you hate to be the guy driving the Jeep with the top down right there." Of course I had to fess up and admit that it was mine and I was the dummy who didn't put the top on his jeep or remember to check But either way...the rain, my top down, a soaking wet ride led up to being able to meet a new friend that I will now see on a weekly basis at the music store.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Here goes...

Well, I never thought I would be the guy with a weblog, but here it is. I'm not sure what I will post here, but time will tell.

You wonder how many of your thoughts you want the world to know, often times, I would say maybe 10%.

I will soak on this and get back to you soon. :)