heroin addicts, business men and you

"Kelli is a heroin addict and a prostitute. She does sexual favors for cigarettes. She has been enslaved by sex traffickers..."

My first job out of college was as a Junior High Youth Director. I had no idea what I was doing. Andy was my boss - he was the Senior High Youth Pastor. Every summer, we drove to Atlanta, Georgia with a group of kids for a ministry week. We worked with a group called 'Church on the Street.' This was a church for the homeless. The pastor was a friend to the forgotten and marginalized by society. Today, Andy is that pastor. Church on the street is a great organization that serves and loves those on the streets of Atlanta. They do this with no strings attached. This week, Andy sent this note:

Kelli is a heroin addict and a prostitute. She does sexual favors for cigarettes. She has been enslaved by sex traffickers, abused by her alcoholic father, and written off as useless by the world. She is a high school drop-out, yet surprisingly intelligent and articulate. She is ashamed of herself, yet knows there is something better for her. She feels worthless, yet somehow knows she is of infinite worth. Kelli is a paradox: she fits neatly into stereo-types, but defies most of them at the same time. (Continue reading here: http://ow.ly/16rwak)

I love the Church - the body of Christ - the community of followers of Jesus. They are all over the world, learning to love God completely and love others with no strings attached. They are on the streets of Atlanta, in businesses of Scottsdale ... they are in London and Jerusalem and Lima. If you are a follower, you are a part of the body. Sometimes we lose sight of the Church - and we believe that church is what happens on a Sunday morning where we gather. Church is happening today, every minute, every hour, around the world. You are the Church and God desperately needs you to help Him accomplish His purpose.

Your life matters. God desperately loves you. And He wants His love to spill out over your life into the lives of others. Allow Him to use you to love others. Love people today, no matter where you are, with no strings attached.


sunday's message...and image managment

God has planted a God-shaped hole in your soul. The only thing that can fill it is healthy relationships. But, there are things that prevent us from healthy relationships and healthy community... some thoughts from my blog:

Eight years ago, I heard Marty Grubbs talk about image management. For some reason that phrase caught my attention and wouldn’t let it go. Maybe it was because I had never heard it before. Or maybe because I was guilty. Periodically, over the next few years, I would hear him speak about it again. Every time, I would get an uncomfortable feeling. I wanted to hide. Actually, I realized I was already hiding.

Image Management is a subtle way to bury ourselves. It is a subtle way to hide from others. Image Management prevents us from knowing others and being known.

Marty often talks about his first experience in a 12-steps program. He says, “What I experienced and saw in that group is what I had read about in the New Testament my whole life – yet I had never seen it in a church.” It is interesting to me that in the place, with the people we should be most comfortable revealing our secrets, our pains, our addictions, our sin, our doubts, our … we find it hardest to reveal those things.

In the past couple of months, I’ve found myself drawn to the teachings of Jesus found in Matthew 5-7. In chapter 6 (from the MSG), it says, “don’t make a production out of it…” All too often, I’m making a production out of it. Because I want to hide behind whoever it is you might like. Do you ever find yourself there … hiding … making a production out of it?

One of the places that God works to bring healing and wholeness to us is called community. It is found in a group of friends who know no masks. God’s grace flows in the intimate circle of healthy relationship. And image management prevents true community, healthy relationship.

Are you working to control others’ impression of you? Do you carefully craft your words so that you give off an impression that may not be reality? Are you a name-dropper?

Father, help us to put away the masks. Help us to move beyond image management so that we can know true community, so that we can know others and be known by them. May we know your grace in the safety of healthy relationships with others.


sunday night thoughts...

I’m going to have a tough time sleeping tonight – I’m too fired up from today. It was an awesome day at MMCC. Great worship, led by Joe, Jill, Faith, Jason, Sean, Dave and Phil. Here are some random thoughts from the day:

  • The room was packed. Even with folding chairs along the back wall, there were only 10 open seats in the house. Love a full room!
  • Jill Besse was awesome on Nicole Nordeman’s Legacy. Love that song – and Jill sounded great.
  • Joe’s story of a friend asking if God really loved her was a great lead into How He Loves.
  • We had around 60 show up for Pizza with the Pastors. It was great connecting with so many new families.
  • Yes, I did say that God thought His creation was very good…all except for the cats. And yes, someone walked up to me at Pizza with the Pastors with a cat sweater on. Awkward.
  • I had more comments about the shirt I wore today than I’ve ever had about a piece of clothing I’ve worn on a Sunday morning. Half were good comments, half wondered what I was thinking. Robin dresses me – take it up with her.
  • You were created with a relationship hole in your soul – and the only thing that can fill it is healthy relationships.
  • As a society, we are over-connected – and yet we are still lonely and depressed. We are missing out on what God wants us to experience.
  • Healthy relationships demand time, truth and forgiveness.
  • Funny moment today … someone telling me during the sermon that Facebook should be shut down. Nice.
  • Funnier moment … I called Steve, ‘Michael’ (which is his last name) during the sermon. He texted me 30 seconds later to correct me.
  • I love my boys…all three of them: Connor, Calvin and little Charlie. I love being a dad to them.
  • My wife is amazing and she looks incredible for just having had a baby. I’m a lucky dude.
  • I am overwhelmed by God’s grace, mercy and love for me. I don’t deserve it.

Colts won… Vikes/Saints are tied. Well, time to watch some football. Good night…