Did You Know Someone Touched You?

Jesus knew when she touched that hem, and you can know it, too–when you are tuned in to the Holy Spirit!

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Well, God just wouldn’t leave me alone about this, so here I go.  Before I start, please know this isn’t about me.  It is about something I did, but it’s not about me.  Now that this is clear as muddy water, on to what happened to me.

Yesterday I delivered a gift from Mt. Vernon to a young single parent who is living like many single parents–under great pressure.  I went to the home, introduced myself, and presented her with a gift from the Body of Christ at Mt. Vernon.  As with baptisms and weddings, this is the part of my job I absolutely love.  I simply told her, “God loves you and so do we.”  I left and went to Wal Mart to exchange something and pick up a few more things.

I’m waiting in the refund line when my phone rang.  OK, here’s where the story takes a twist.  When I’m in a line I NEVER answer my phone.  I consider it rude and a tarnishing of the image of me as a citizen of the Kingdom of God.  The number that came up was not in my contacts.  My natural response to a number not in my contacts is, “Oh, dear Lord, another telemarketer!”  Usually at that point, I send it to voicemail.

But this time, I didn’t.  Something, well, actually SOMEONE said, “Answer it Randy!”  So, I did.  On the other end of that call was that single Mom crying profusely, telling me how much that gift meant to her.  She needed to express her gratitude.  And God selected me to hear that gratitude.  And I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I had a small part in reminding this single Mom, she was loved by God and that He remembers her every need.

But…WHAT IF….I sent that message to Voicemail?  Maybe in a couple of days I would have listened to it, since it was from someone NOT in my contacts….and I would have missed the joy of her heart….and being humbled to be a part of God’s Kingdom work in even a small way.

And then I remembered….on one of those typical days when Jesus walked this earth.  There was a crowd, pressing against Him.  When…well just read Luke 8:45–“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”  It was that woman who had run out of hope that she could ever be whole.  But she believed if she could just touch the hem of that garment, it would be OK.  And Jesus knew the moment she touched that hem.

And I wonder, how many people today are looking to touch the hem of hope and reach out to us for that hope, but we are unaware of it?  We live in a “Way Too Busy Culture” to notice the people pressing in against us.  And that is sad….too sad.  So be aware of those pressing in against you.  They just may be looking for Hope!  You are the HEM of HIM!  If you’re too busy to help someone find Hope, you’re just too busy.  Jesus knew when she touched that hem, and you can know it, too–when you are tuned in to the Holy Spirit!

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

I Found The Wayside!

(I must insert this disclaimer at the beginning of this blog that by no means do I consider the people in this community to be fallen, forgotten or obsolete.  It’s only an illustration of my point.)

Wayside.  Are you familiar with that word?  Usually it’s connected with 2 statements:

  1. Gone by the Wayside
  2. Fell by the Wayside

I’ve wondered where in the world is Wayside?  Well, I found it.  I noticed it the very first time we traveled down to see our new pastoral appointment.  I’ve been meaning to do this post, but wouldn’t until I stopped and got my proof.  Well, Saturday on my motorcycle pilgrimage, I stopped and got these pictures as proof I know where the Wayside is located.  Think about the previous 2 statements concerning the Wayside.

Gone by the Wayside.  This means that something has become obsolete, like those heavy “brick” looking cell phones, which by the way, was my very first cell phone.  Fell by the Wayside.  This means to fail to continue or to drop out.  Obsolete.  Dropping out.  These images are used to describe some values and people.  I’ve always wondered where they went, and now I know.

When people “fall by” the Wayside, often they are either treated with great disdain or completely forgotten.  People shake their head with a degree of sadness and leave them there, by the Wayside.  And when long-standing Christian-Judeo values are considered “gone by” the Wayside, people shrug their shoulders, forgetting those values and declare they are now more enlightened than their superstitious ancestors.  So, the Wayside becomes the place of the forgotten.

I know where the Wayside is, but does Jesus know?  Absolutely He knows!  The fact is He does far better and far more work in the Wayside than in many sterilized and sanitized sanctuaries.  Jesus leaves no one behind.  He came back for Peter after His Crucifixion, though Peter denied 3 times that he knew Jesus.  Remember the Angel’s message to the women that first Easter morning?  Mark 16:7 (NLT) records:  “Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”  He would have come back for Judas, if Judas had not given up too soon.

The work of Jesus and the Kingdom of God is for people who have fallen by the Wayside.  Paul reminded the Corinthian church of this fact in 2 Corinthians 5:18 (NLT)–“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.”  Look again at the bottom of this sign welcoming people to Wayside:

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“A Little Bit Of Heaven”.  If you feel like you have fallen by the Wayside, hold on to that last line.  Wayside is a little bit of heaven because it’s a place filled with God’s grace that will forgive, redeem and restore anyone and everyone who has fallen.  Jesus doesn’t hesitate to go by the Wayside because it’s filled with those for whom Jesus insisted on dying for.  And where should the church be today?  Well, I think that other sign says it all:

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What if we all became the Church for The Wayside?  It would probably be a bit messy, but it would also be a bit of heaven.  Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

Postscript:  Don’t consider yourself obsolete if you embrace and try to live by the values of the Kingdom of God.  And don’t consider His Values obsolete.

What Happened To Being Friendly?

Image result for friendly people

Good morning.  I want to share something I learned from God’s classroom at the beach.  Yesterday the Holy Spirit excitedly whispered in my ear, “Did you notice that?”  And I replied, “Well, yes I did!  It’s wonderful that personal smiled and said to me ‘Good morning!’  You don’t see much of that in the ordinary world.”  I didn’t know that person.  Didn’t know where they were from, what their politics were, what their social status was, and I didn’t even know what college football team they supported.

It was the norm to see people smiling, saying hello, good morning, good afternoon.  and making conversation with strangers.  One man pointed out to us that there was a small stingray near us and informed us that he also saw a couple of jellyfish.  Normally you would not see this type of interaction between complete strangers.  But in that moment, that location, there were no strangers.  Simply people sharing that bond of being at the beach

We went to Lulu’s, a well known local eating establishment, last evening for seafood.  You know you can’t go to the beach without eating seafood.  We went early to avoid waiting in line.  There were several people who had our same idea.  There were lots of conversations going on.  Smiles were everywhere and lots of laughing.  It was then that I noticed 1 table, a family it appeared to be.  There was not much talking….no smiles….looking almost miserable in a place full of smiling, friendly people.  They definitely did not fit in with the rest of the crowd.  I wondered if they had brought their own misery with them, instead of leaving it at home.

We were in an environment that was counter-cultural to much of normal living–the exception being that one family.  Typically one doesn’t encounter this type of friendliness in the ordinary every-day world.  People rarely look others in the eye, smile or engage in casual conversation.  They tend to be more guarded, even suspicious of others.  And here is the question that has rooted itself in my heart and mind:  Why aren’t people as friendly in the ordinary world as they are at the beach?

Now mind you, that I’m not accusing these friendly beach-goers as being unfriendly the rest of the time.  Hopefully they are, but if you examine the ordinary world you do not see kind of friendliness this happening.  Many are like that family at Lulu’s that was a stark contrast to the rest of that environment.  Cold, reserved, disconnected from the world that is around them.

Why?  Perhaps it is suspicion that causes us to keep others at arm’s length.  It could be fear–fear that the other person will somehow take advantage of them.  What ever the reason, we tend to be more protective “out there in the real world”.  And here is where there are many moments for the Kingdom Witness–to share a smile and be friendly because we are followers of Jesus.

Why were people so quick to flock to Jesus?  I think it must have been His smile and friendly personality.  I do not believe that Jesus looked anything like He is portrayed in “official” church art.  He looks at times too sad, too mad, and way too weak.  Would you really want to be in the presence of Sad or Mad or Pathetically Weak?  Don’t think so!  I believe Jesus looked more like artist Stephen Sawyer paints Him.  Check him out on his website:  www.art4god.com

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In this suspicious, unkind and manipulative culture, we need to be more like Jesus.  And it all begins with being kind and friendly.  Being distant and rude requires little talent and no effort.  It’s everywhere.  But…a warm smile….a good morning….a timely thank you…holding a door open for another person….letting someone go ahead of you in the check-out lane…leaving your quarter in your shopping cart at Aldi’s….and best of all, listening to people and taking the time to know them without judging them.

What happened to being friendly?  Nothing.  Being friendly is still out there.  Unfortunately it seems to be reserved for special places, like the beach.  What if we, who claim to be followers of Jesus, would do what Jesus did when He walked on His Creation as one He created?  Smile and be friendly.  The times Jesus was mad was when He had to deal with the really religious people, or with people who simply wanted Jesus to entertain them.

One of the things I am absolutely enjoying in our new appointment is the setting:  rural, small town Alabama.  Friendliness and kindness are seen more often.  Who among us wouldn’t agree that our culture needs to change–radically change.  Change happens like measles spreads in schools–one person to another person.  Would you really like to be more like Jesus?  Do something that Jesus did?  What if you decided that your part of the world is as friendly as folks at the beach?  Perhaps what would happen would be that unfriendliness would look as out of place as that family at Lulu’s.  It’s easy to make it happen–smile, be friendly, engage in conversation, listen, and get to know others.  I leave you with Proverbs 15:30 (NLT)

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
good news makes for good health.

Now, if you will kindly excuse me, I need to leave.  The bell has rung for class to begin.  And The Teacher doesn’t like for us to be late.  Might miss something, ya’ know.  Now get out there, Followers of Jesus and be friendly!

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Hi