Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Simple Truth

I like simple things. Simple things make me feel smart. I can wrap my mind around simple things. Sometimes I take something simple and complicate it to death. That's unfortunate.

We recently dined at Olive Garden (only the finest for us) with some friends and were finishing up our conversation out in the parking lot when a homeless man rolled up on his bike and asked for money.

What do you do in that situation? Here's what I used to do: I make a judgement call based on his appearance; I check his attitude; I look for cigarettes (i mean, if you can buy smokes then you don't need my money); I look and smell for liquor (see previous comment). How about you? Ever done that? When I lived in Nashville this was practically daily routine as a bellman in a downtown hotel. I was an expert at weeding out the "good" from the "bad." I knew all the eloquent speeches and hard luck stories: "Sir, I'm an ex-Marine and I do not do drugs;" "Excuse me sir, I need money to buy medicine;" "My car broke down around the corner and I just need some gas money," etc.

We shook his hand. We chatted with him. And, as you would assume, i could smell liquor on his breath. We prayed with him. We each gave him a few bucks. He left.

Old Me: don't give cash to a man who wreaks of liquor, the right thing to do is to buy him food so he cant blow it on booze

New Me: when led by the Spirit to give money to a man that wreaks of booze, give him money and don't question it

My responsibility is to listen to the Spirit within me and be obedient to that. My responsibility is not to judge this guy based on my assumptions about his lifestyle. So when I give in obedience - through faith - that pleases God. The bible says this: "faith pleases God." I'm held accountable for my end of obedience and he is held accountable for how he uses that money when it enters his hands.

So aggressively look for opportunities to love other people. And don't worry with self-made rules, policies and procedures. Embrace the simple truth - just be obedient. It's a soft pillow.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pruning Season

Have you ever known that you were doing something the right way in the midst of someone telling you that you are doing it incorrectly? Now these dissenters mean well, no doubt. They have all the great intentions in the world, but maybe they don't do what YOU do and they just don't know. Or possibly you were given access to information that others were not - and you know the truth, but it was not necessarily for others to know.

If you were to crack open a bible and open up to the book called 1st Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 16-18 you'd see where the Apostle Paul is encouraging the church at Thessolononica to hold fast in the future. To treat others as they knew to - with love. Here's the part I want to look at - Paul says to be joyful always, pray continually and to give thanks in all things. Yes, he says to give thanks in all things - crazy huh?

"So, Mike. I'm supposed to be happy and thankful when life totally dumps on me?" Well, no, not exactly. Note that he said "in" all things - not "for" all things. Do you get the difference? It means that I'm not necessarily happy about a bad thing occurring, but that I can find peace in stepping back to take in the whole of the picture. Much like pruning a tree - we cut it away so that it can flourish in due season. God pruned me a bit today.

Don't worry. Nothing life-threatening. Just life stuff. Those who know me well have already heard my story. I'd be glad to share the details with you guys but some things you just can't post for the world to see. Well, not yet anyway.

This "thing" that happened today - well it's really the capstone on a series of "things" and not really unexpected. Though sometimes even the expected is shocking when it finally occurs. Some people would consider my today a horrible day. Some would see it as a reason to be angry or bitter. But, you see, I stand (well, i'm sitting actually) here with information to which you do not have access. Why? Because it's just not for you - it's for me. It was not designed for you to know, but for me to know. Doing what you know you are called to do is a soft pillow at night, my friend.

As I step back to see the big picture - the pruning of the proverbial "Mike" tree - I have a huge grin. My time to flourish is just around the corner. Seems the Gardener has His eyes on me.

May you be pruned only to produce a record crop in due season.