Bad Blood Between Brothers?

A favorite movie has a scene about an embittered man named Ronnie explaining the cause of his bitterness. It had to do with a meat slicer. One day he was slicing some meat when his brother Johhny came in to talk. During the conversation, Ronnie became distracted and sliced off his hand. Tragically, his fiance broke off the engagement wishing not to marry a one-handed groom. He lost his hand, his bride, and his happiness. 

Years later, when Johnny became engaged, he sent his fiance to invite Ronnie to the wedding. The brothers had not spoken in five years due to the slicer indecent, and her conversation with Ronnie did not go well. There was “Bad Blood” between the brothers.

Ronnie couldn’t be happy for Johnny. He said, “Johnny has his hand, he has his bride, and I should be so happy for my brother? Where is my hand? Where is my bride?” 

It’s a good scene and in no way was grisly; no fluids were lost in the making of the film. It’s a romantic comedy about the ups and downs of a New York Italian family. It’s funny, sweet, and heartwarming.

However

In the past two Sundays, I have delivered sermons on fractured relationships due to political differences; and other differences that have torn friendships and families apart. They were not easy to give. 

The religious, racial, and political climate in our country has been quite stormy. We appear to be at an all-time low for patience and tolerance. We have traded empathy and acceptance for judgment and condemnation. I know, not all of us, just most of us. We are tired and beat down. Not our best.

Perhaps the most disagreeable levels have been forged on Social Media outlets where we have taken sides, joined the fray, got down into the mud, and aligned ourselves with those who think as we do. We listen to no other voice but our own and to those who say the same things over and over again. 

Is that the echo chamber? 

We have argued and disagreed about Covid-19, about masks, about Presidential candidates and political platforms. Many of us have felt awkward about the racial divides and the BLM movement. Some think our government has been heavy-handed in diminishing our God-given rights as American citizens. Others say, “No, it hasn’t.” 

Our culture, as of late, has been acrimonious and acidic.  

I spoke with a member yesterday who was in tears about a political disagreement that ended a dear friendship. Like Ronnie and Johnny, they have stopped talking to each other. 

Stories such are becoming too familiar and sad. 

Maybe some of it can be placed on the hook of the disruptions, interruptions, and cancelations from the Corona Virus. Maybe we are becoming a little less human and a bit more something else. I don’t know, but it isn’t healthy.

Have we cast off: 

  • personal responsibility
  • character development
  • basic human civility
  • the pursuit of humility
  • a desire for unity

There are solutions to our problems; that’s not the problem. The challenge is doing it, and it begins with me. Yesterday morning, I confessed to my church that I have struggled with several sinful behaviors and attitudes over the past eight months. In the confession, I also stated that I was repenting of them. 

Here is the list:

  1. gossiping about church members
  2. saying disparaging remarks about others
  3. tearing others down to build myself up
  4. holding on to ill-will towards others related to disagreements
  5. pride & ego that has hardened my heart to God and others
  6. having a sour, negative, and critical spirit 
  7. making poor choices based on selfish desires

These have challenged me in big and small ways, and sometimes every day and sometimes not. I finally reached the end. It needed to stop. 

What would your list be? Be honest. Are you willing to redirect your heart and mind to a God-centered place?

It’s Easy To:

  • ignore our sins
  • focus on the sins of others
  • look if someone is present who “really needs to hear the sermon.”
  • live in denial about our weaknesses 
  • always find ways to make it about someone else
  • condemn behavior in others that we know exists in our lives

In Closing

To my Christian friends, be reminded that we are called to a higher standard, not a lower one. 

“Love one another as I have loved you.” 

“The world will know that you are my disciples by your love.” 

“Pray for one another and carry each other’s burdens.” 

“Love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you.” 

“Be my light in a darkened world.” 

“Serve one another in love.” 

“Make sure no one pays back evil for evil.” 

“As far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people.” 

“Forgive as I have forgiven you.” 

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.”

Sooner or later, Johnny and Ronnie had to reconcile. And they did. 

What about us?

Shalom

I Love a Good Test

I recently joined the ranks of those who have been tested for Covid 19. I don’t have it. I had many of the symptoms, although not a fever. Perhaps it was just a cold. I’m fine and thankful. 

However, the experience of getting tested was not what I expected. Allow me to elucidate. 

  1. I found a convenient place. 
  2. Their site promoted the following:
  •  online appointments
  • online registration
  •  curbside testing
  • rapid result tests
  • self-selecting an appointment based on their online schedule

All of that was attractive, so I began by setting up an online account that required my driver’s license and insurance card. Then I was prompted to complete the medical forms and provide other bits of information. Okay, ten minutes later, I was done.

Next was selecting an appointment for the curbside test. They had an opening for 11:30, and I took it. Once that was confirmed, a message popped up, instructing me to arrive ten minutes early; I wondered why, but okay, no problem. 

I arrived not ten but fifteen minutes early because that is how I am. I looked for cars in line but didn’t see any. They had no provision for curbside service. I parked, put on my mask, went inside, and joined the line of people waiting to speak to the receptionist. The short line bore no resemblance to a short wait.

When it was my turn, I asked where the curbside testing was located. The receptionist replied, “We don’t have curbside service.” I responded with, “Well, your website features it quite prominently.” She said, “That’s not my problem. Do you have an appointment?” I said, “Yes, at 11:30 for a covid test.” I was then asked to sign in, and doing so required a pen from one of two jars. One had a label that read CLEAN while the other read DIRTY. She noticed that I picked a pen from the DIRTY group, which annoyed her, and she said so. I apologized for not seeing the labels. She said to return the pen to the DIRTY jar, disinfect my hands from a pump on the counter, and then select a pen from the CLEAN jar using my recently disinfected hands. 

Then I was handed a clipboard and told to fill out the pages. I glanced at the first page and said, “Mam, I have already done these forms on your website.” She said, “It doesn’t matter; if you want to see a doctor, you have to fill out the forms.” So I filled them out, returned the clipboard, and then was asked for my driver’s license and insurance card. Once again, “I already scanned these; you already have them.” She said, “It doesn’t matter; if you want to see a doctor today, I need copies of your license and insurance card.” I gave them to her and sat down. Bear in mind that my 11:30 appointment was already ancient history. 

I waited and then waited some more. Finally, at 12:20, my name was called and yahoo for me. The nurse checked my vitals and asked some questions. Then says, “It will be a few minutes; I need to get my thermometer from the other room.” I timed her; it took seven minutes. She checked my temperature, no fever. She said the doctor would be in shortly. Twelve minutes later, he comes in, gives me the deep core drilling swab, and says, you can go to the waiting room; we will have your results in fifteen minutes. 

Not me, but close, really very close.

Twenty minutes later, the nurse tells me it was negative. I was so happy, not about the outcome, as much as being able to leave. Another glance at the time: I had been there for two hours.

I was glad to not have the virus and said a prayer of thanks. I drove home, feeling blessed that I wouldn’t have to cope with Covid’s weird way of being minimal for some and deadly for others. 

To Close

Jesus once told a crowd that they could come to him and find rest for their souls. He said that his burden was light, suggesting that he had few, if any, burdens for others to carry. He taught that following him was simple, and doing so required no forms, no hassles, no I.D. cards, and no waiting. He was right on all accounts.

Thank you, Jesus!

It’s a Shoe Thing

I probably had more shoes when I was a kid than I remember. The shows that I do remember are as follows:

  1. One pair of sneakers.
  2. One pair of dress shoes for church.

As mentioned earlier, if I had more than two pairs of shoes, I don’t remember. My school got the sneakers, the church got the dress shoes, and summer got my bare feet. 

Speaking of bare feet, my church had a Barefoot Sunday yesterday. Our last shoe drive was in 2012, about eight years ago. Maybe we will have another one in 2028. 

For several weeks, people have been dropping off their shoe donations. We started yesterday with more than fifty large boxes of shoes in all sizes. That number will rise significantly once the donations from yesterday get boxed up.

The boxes will go to Fort Pierce, Florida, and then flown to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. On arrival, trucks will haul the boxes to schools in the city and in villages and then given to students who are sponsored for Christian education through a faith-based nonprofit called Hope For Haiti’s Children. 

info@hopeforhaitischildren.org

During the services our members donated the shoes they wore to church. They came with the shoes off their feet and placed them on the stage. Then they were barefoot. We all went home without shoes. Walking from my office to my car was painful. There are always little bits of whatever on a parking lot, and my feet greeted them all. By the time I was in the car I had decided that shoes are a good thing. 

But don’t worry about me, I still have shoes at home, and my collection has grown since childhood:

  1. Golf shoes
  2. Sandals
  3. Sneakers
  4. Dress shoes
  5. Casual shoes
  6. Moutain shoes for Colorado 
  7. Grubby shoes for yard work

I still go barefoot sometimes, but only around the house. 

The kids in Haiti don’t have several pairs of shoes. Some don’t have any. The shoes they do have are likely too big or too small. And none will be in good condition. 

People in Haiti are poor. 

Jesus said in Matthew 25

“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.” 

“I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.”

“I had nothing to wear, and you gave me something to wear. 

“I was a stranger, and you invited me in.” 

“I was sick, and you took care of me.” 

Those to whom he spoke were confused and asked, “Rabbi, when did we do these things for you?” And Jesus replied, “You did these things for me whenever you did them for the least of my brothers.” 

I have been to Haiti many times and seen deep, gut-wrenching poverty. The Haitian people certainly qualify as the least of his brothers. They aren’t the only ones, but they are some of the ones to whom Jesus referred. 

To Close

I know I shouldn’t wait for a shoe drive to donate shoes, clothing, or food. But these events remind and encourage me, and maybe all of us, to be more active in being the hands and feet of Christ. 

I still have plenty to give to those who are the least. 

How about you?

Shalom

Children: Hearts of Praise

To the conservative rabbi’s and chief priests, Jesus of Nazareth was an unabashed liberal. They branded him a false teacher and a blasphemer. 

They didn’t like him. The more public his ministry became, the more people followed him. As the number of his followers increased, so did the jealousy of his detractors.

One of the things that galled them most was his affinity for children. Here is an example. It was Passover week, and he had already come down the Mount of Olives on the donkey. There was much celebration, joyous rapture, and unbounded praise. The people shouted, 

“Hosanna to the son of David! Hosanna in the highest.” 

Hosanna is a Hebrew word meaning save or salvation. It was a word of fantastic adoration and praise. Later, in the temple courts, some children were running about and shouting, 

“Hosanna to the Son of David”

That offended the chief priests and rabbis, and they accosted Jesus for what the children were saying. They wanted him to silence them. But instead, Jesus responded with this, 

“Have you never read, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?”

In a culture that told children to sit still and be quiet, Jesus dared to be different. He stood up to those who disliked what the children were shouting and what they were shouting about. He stood up with Psalm 8:2:

“From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

King David’s words addressed his enemies, saying that the Lord would ordain the lips of children with praise. In doing so, their words of divine origin would silence David’s foes. 

In quoting Psalm 8:2, Jesus was saying this to the chief priests and rabbis: 

“You want me to silence these children, to have them stop proclaiming praise to me. But I will not, for what they are saying has been ordained by God, and I cannot silence them.” 

YESTERDAY MORNING

At the beginning of 2nd service, a little girl was in one of the isles dancing to the songs. She clapped her hands, waved her arms, and was captured by the praise music. I think she two or three years old. 

I watched her for a couple of minutes and was transfixed by her complete lack of inhibition or hesitation. She was free and was freely expressing her joy, and that was all that mattered. 

She was beautiful.  

IN CLOSING

Jesus lined up on the opposite side of the religious elite on just about everything. And they hated him for it. But their hatred didn’t discourage or even distract him.

Much like the little girl, Jesus didn’t know hesitation or inhibition. He was free, and he freely expressed his joy, and that was all that mattered. And by the way, I beleive those children knew that he loved them, for Jesus loved all the little children of the world.

He was beautiful too.  

The Big of It

I recently attended an event that was held in a charming little town with a beautiful setting. And by little, I mean it was tiny. 

Small towns have an appeal. I’m not sure why, but they do. Maybe it’s the open spaces and easy access. Houston does not offer easy access. When I left my home in Clear Lake, it took more than an hour to get out of town. When I hit the 60-minute mark, the concrete jungle still kept me captive. 

In a city the size of Houston, drive times are determined by distance and accessibility. Sometimes the destination isn’t far in terms of miles, but traffic, road repairs, and impediments can make a short distance a lengthy drive. Or maybe the location is many miles across the city, but the traffic is smooth and unhindered. It’s hard to predict, and it often changes while in route. 

It has the cumulative effect of mounding irritation, frustration, and stress. 

Did somebody say traffic? What traffic? 

The town’s people were friendly and unhurried. They had a casual, almost lackadaisical demeanor that seemed to say, “Welcome to our store, I’ll be here if you need anything. You don’t need anything, do you?” 

The town didn’t have an MLB team like the Houston Astros, or an NFL team like the Houston Texans or an NBA team like the Houston Rockets. They didn’t have an Astrodome or an NRG Center or Theater District or a ton of other things. 

Do you know what they did have? They had clean air, blue skies, and crisp, chilly mornings, and people who were comfortable living in slow-motion. And just in case I forgot to mention it, everything was five minutes away.

However, when the time came to leave, I wasn’t sad but glad to be going home. “Why,” you ask? It is because Dorothy was right; there is no place like home. Home is where I live, love, and work. It’s where I survive and thrive. Houston is my home. Yes, it has smog and smothering summer heat, and months of possibly devastating tropical storms. Houston has ever-present expansion in every direction. Can anyone say, “Urban Sprawl?” 

Do I sometimes feel there are too many people? Yes, I do. Harris County, where I reside, has a population of four million with no end in sight. However, when we moved here 23 years ago, I am sure there were many who felt the city was already overcrowded and wished all the new people would move elsewhere.

We stayed anyway.

Small towns and small-town people often possess a quality that is often missing in our urban jungles. Small towns can be lovely to visit and excellent for slowing down, reducing stress, and feeling better. 

Thank you, small towns, you have my lasting appreciation. 

The Perfect Family

The word “family” is interesting. Here is a definition:

“a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered a group, whether dwelling together or not.”

There are other uses for the word:

  • The First Family, as in the white house
  • The family, as in the mafia
  • An extended group of relatives
  • The staff or employees of an official
  • The offspring of some animals
  • The classification of plants and animals

However, none of those provide a warm, fuzzy feeling. Perhaps they are not intended to.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and reflect their culture, tradition, and heritage. The family dynamics in Japan will differ from those in Sweden, and so on. 

One’s ancestry plays a part, whether large or small, in family development. In other words, where one originates is an influencer of where one is going. We may or may not be aware of such influences, but they exist whether we know it or not. 

I often tease people with a piece of self-deprecating humor:

“My wife and I have similar backgrounds. We both come from horse cultures. Her family raised them, and my family stole them.”

No, neither is real; it is only a joke. But we all come from somewhere and from someone, and none of us had any say in the matter. 

Those who are believers are familiar with these “family” phrases:

  • The Family of God
  • God’s Holy Family
  • Family of Believers 
  • The Spiritual Family

In his letter to ancient Thessalonica, Paul wrote to express his love for the church, and he expressed it well. Every page offered words of love, affirmation, and care. 

I find it interesting that Paul used the family model to communicate how he felt about Thessalonica’s believers. Consider these references from the 2nd chapter:

A Caring Mother, 2:7-8

“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

A Caring Father, 2:11-12

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you…”

Siblings

2:9 “Surely you remember brothers and sisters…”

2:14 “For you, brothers and sisters…”

2:17 “But, brothers and sisters…”

Mom, Dad, and the kids were Paul’s choice to illustrate God’s model for the church, the Family model. 

I freely admit that just as families at home have arguments, conflicts, and difficulties, so does the family at church. “Why is that,” you ask? Well, it is simple. It is because families are made of people, and people are messy. People are flawed, sometimes broken, and often demonstrate their imperfections. 

Some say that churches are full of hypocrites. If they mean that Christians sometimes advocate one thing but live something else, then okay, we are occasionally hypocritical. Perhaps those who point out our hypocrisy might pause to measure themselves to a standard of human decency. It might turn out that we are all flawed, imperfect, and in need of divine help. 

In Closing

I love my family. I love the one at home and the one at church. Paul was right. If possible, whenever viable, both families need loving, caring mothers and encouraging comforting fathers.

Families are not perfect, but the divine model for families is, in fact, perfect. 

Back To The Future

On March 8, the Southeast church held its last in-person services until yesterday. That was twenty-six-weeks ago, or call it six months or half a year. 

When the Corona Virus pushed us to close, I predicted that it would last no more than six weeks. I was close, really very close, missing by only three and half months. But, it finally ended.

Yesterday was “Southeast Reopens Day.” Here are a few impressions:

  1. Even with face-coverings, it was apparent that everyone was happy and excited. It was in their eyes, and their eyes were sparkling. 
  2. The numbers indicated that half the congregation attended the live services, while the other half watched the live stream from home. 
  3. I wonder if our national circumstances have permanently altered the idea that “church” can only happen in one large building?
  4.  Preaching for six months to a empty worship center was a sad and lonely substitute for a live and joyful congregation.
  5. The worship was rich and robust. The prayers full of gratitude and faith. The Spirit was with us. Now, let me tell you about the biggest impression of all.

The Biggest Impression

We have a children’s contribution every week to help hundreds of Haitian kids receive a Christain education. For twenty-six weeks, our children have been saving their money in jars and cans. Yesterday, they finally got to give it. Their jars and cans were stuffed and overflowing. Child after child waited their turn to pour money into a large basket. It was beautiful and it overwhelmed me to tears. 

Another Prediction

It will take some time to determine where we are as a church. But that’s okay. It took twenty-six weeks to get us to yesterday; perhaps another twenty-six weeks will reveal our new normal, if there is such a thing. Meanwhile, its full steam ahead, its time to get back to the furture.

I will close with this:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.”

“What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can stand against us??

“No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

” Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(selections from Romans 8)

Stop Pushing Me To Agree With You

Lately I have been faced with lots of decisions. Here are some of them.

  1. To enter restaurants or not.
  2. To vote Republican/Trump or Democrat/Biden.
  3. To stay put during hurricane Laura or evacuate.
  4. To shake hands or not.
  5. To judge those who disagree with me or not.

There are other decisions, but they are smaller, and I am not thinking about them, maybe later.

As for the decisions I am thinking about, I’ll make the following comments.

RESTAURANTS

Honestly, I have frequented them more than I thought I would. An important aspect to my ministry is being available. Often, availability is defined by my fitting in to other people’s schedules. Their schedules are often restricted to breakfasts and lunches. Do I go or not go? It is a decision I have to make every day.

POLITICS

I was born here. As an American citizen, am I guaranteed the right to privacy? Does the Bill of Rights provide a right to privacy? I don’t believe it does. But who I vote for, or whether I vote at all, is no one’s business but my own. It is a decision I get to make. Please stop pushing me to agree with your decision, whatever it is.

HURRICANE LAURA

Last Tuesday morning the best information was that the storm would become a category 4 and track towards Houston. So, we evacuated. By Wednesday evening the storm did intensify but then tracked easterly instead of westerly. There was little rain or wind in Houston that night. I felt silly for having left. I guess it is better to be safe than sorry. It was a decision I had to make.

COVID-19

We were warned that to keep America safe we needed social distancing, no person to person contact. At first, we were told that face coverings were not a deterant. Now, it is the law. Some have rejected these warnings, suggesting that true beleivers trust God, and that the Lord will keep us safe if we trust him. What decsion have you made? Is shaking hands still a risk? How much science and/or media coverage is involved? To touch or not touch is a decision I make every day.

JUDGING

First of all, let me confess. I like judging others and I am good at it. How about you? My biggest judging challenge is how quick I am to judging others who are judgmental. It’s like saying, “I despise prejudiced people,” or “I hate those who hate,” or “I am so biased against those who discriminate.” Each day it is a decision I have to make. Someone once said this:

“Those who say that they can take it or leave it are usually taking it.”

As for judging, I’m usually “taking it,” meaning I’m doing the judging. It’s poor form, and it’s wrong.

AS FOR JESUS

He chose not to judge but instead to love. Jesus wasn’t political, but honored the Law of Moses and even taught his disciples to pay their taxes. When reminded that people in Jerusalem were going to hurt him he stayed where he was for a few days. When crowds got unruly he went into the mountains. Did he not trust his Father? As for touching others, yes, he touched the sick and the lepers. But he had something that I dont, he was the Son of God, and was never going to die from disease or leprosy. His appointment with death was already fixed, it was on a hill far away.

Jesus had to make decisions every day, and so do we. Let’s make good ones.

Agents 86 & 99–Kaos or Control?

Some of you will remember a sixties TV show called “Get Smart.” It starred Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, A.K.A. Agent 86, his partner Barbara Feldon known only as Agent 99, and Edward Platt who was always referred to as, “The Chief.”

It was a comedy spoof that ran from 1965-1970. I thought it was cool and funny. Max had secret-agent gizmos that he struggled to operate, but one that he used every week was his shoe phone. Yes, Agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe.

 

get-smart-tv-show
Secret Agent Stuff–The Amazing Shoe Phone. We All Wanted One!

 

Each episode was about a Washington agency named CONTROL doing battle with an evil empire known as KAOS. Agents 86 and 99 were sent to thwart whatever plan of tyranny KAOS had derived for the week. Of course, each mission was dangerous, and the intrepid agents would come close to falling or failing, but they never did.

Control and Kaos

Somebody once said that chaos and order aren’t enemies, only opposites. That they live side by side and are connected as if one couldn’t exist without the other.

Is there evil that results in chaos? Is there goodness that produces order?

By chaos and order, I’m not referring to organized versus unorganized. I’m referring to the conflicts and destructive impact of a life lived sinfully versus the peace and constructive value of a life lived in the Holy Spirit.

Unrighteousness leads to chaos while righteousness leads to divine order.

Jesus, our Messiah, said this:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness how great is that darkness?” 

Darkness and light or chaos and order. How are your eyes today? Have they allowed the light of Christ to shine within, or are they closed to keep your heart in darkness?

Are you living in the light of divine order or in the darkness of sinful chaos?

We live in a world that is referred to as fallen and broken. How did it fall? What broke it? Are we also fallen and broken? Is the darkness within us a great darkness?

Either we exist in chaos by our separation from God or in order by a divine connection. Either in darkness by sinful disobedience or in the light by divine holiness.

TO CLOSE

CONTROL and KAOS were elements of a thirty-minute show in the sixties. The light of holiness and the dark of sinfulness are elements of life today, of divine order versus human chaos.

Perhaps we all need some kind of shoe phone—something heavenly to keep us connected with the divine. Actually, we do. It’s the Messiah, it’s Jesus, our Lord, and Savior.

Have a blessed day.

A Grandmother & Five Grandkids

This past Saturday, I was at an event that was full of love, compassion, and generosity. We partner with a nonprofit called Hope Active. They exist to serve those in need, and their goal is to alleviate some of the sufferings of despair and poverty in Jesus’ name.

Some events that we have partnered:

  • A basketball camp for autistic children with Houston Rocket’s players
  • An annual day to give backpacks and school supplies to families in need, typically serving over 700 children each year.
  • An Angel Tree, gift-wrapping event to bless families for Christmas
  • Three times in the last two years, we have hosted Hope Active events in our gym.
  • Many Southeast members volunteer for these events.
  • Janel Hopper, our Children and Family Minister, is on the Hope Active board.

What I found most gratifying was how they served in the name of Christ. Because of Covid, the people who came remained in their cars, and when they reached the gift station, volunteers gave them the backpacks and supplies. It was a drive-through event.

Janel, along with her family, were outside serving. She told me this story.

A car pulled up with a woman and her five grandchildren. As I greeted her, she became emotional and began to weep. She talked about losing two of her sons, one a few years ago to a gunshot wound and one to leukemia last year. She was the sole care-provider for her grandchildren, and money was tight, and life was hard. But she was thankful that her son passed before the pandemic because it would have been so much harder with him being in isolation. I offered to pray with her and she immediately said yes. I asked God to help with her grief and anxiety and for her grandchildren.

She left with five new backpacks with school supplies. But also having been touched by the blessing of someone who cared. Someone who cared enough to pray for her.

Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us, John 12:8. It’s a verse often misquoted, misapplied, and misunderstood. I have heard Christians reference the verse to justify not helping the poor, as if to say,

“Well, there’s no shortage of poor people, we can always help later.” 

Not at all sure that is what Jesus meant.

IN CLOSING

I wasn’t outside in the heat ministering to those in need. I was inside with air-conditioning doing data entry. It’s okay, it all has to be done. But I was one of four who were doing the data entry. The other three were women, African American women, and Hope Active is their primary ministry. They volunteer a lot, they want to help.

I spent a couple of hours with them and was blessed by their conviction. They genuinely desire to help the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters.

It was an event full of love, compassion, and generosity. I was blessed just to be there.