Making a difference....

So, I've been doing this non-profit gig now for a little over 3 years. The absolute most rewarding 3 years of my working life. I am an advocate for the homeless by providing a necessary service meant to help end the condition of homelessness. I'm also a Christian, pretty much one of those Kissing Fish Christians who don't always like 'Christianity'. I have witnessed hypocrisy in the church (who hasn’t? It’s been said that people would go to church more often if it weren’t for those pesky Christians) and I have been to churches where they say they are welcoming but it is a chore to become connected. Sort of like high school where you had different social classes. The popular kids would pretend to be nice to the nerdy new kid but really if they saw him at the mall later...don't expect a “Hey! How are ya?" Church shouldn't be that hard when you're the new guy. I felt like the new kid who struggled to get people to see her, talk to her, really get to know her. I also went to a church once (note the ONCE) where the Pastor informed the congregation if their Bible wasn’t the King James version they should throw it away. He said THROW IT AWAY! Woah! Buddy…. back it up. I like my Bible and I can't be certain but I don’t think God said we should throw any Bible away that isn't King James. I tiptoed out after service before anyone could see my 'Message Remixed/NIV version Bible' and lay hands on me.

Here's my deal. God loves me. He loves me as much as my Pastor. He loves me as much as the prostitute selling herself to buy crack. He loves the PROSTITUTE as much as my Pastor. He loves my friend who is a self-professed atheist. He loves me as much as the people reading the King James version Bible. Amazing isn't it? If you are reading this with your mouth open then please consult your nearest Bible. I assure you this is true. You don't get more of God's love because you think you deserve it more. You don't get more because you were popular in high school. You don't get more because you are in the inner circle of the church. And you don't get less because of your transgressions. God loves me despite where I’ve been. God and I……we’re just looking forward now. Ya dig? God's agape love is dispersed evenly regardless of whether you are ready to receive it. Now grace and forgiveness... THAT is available when you're ready. God is most assuredly waiting for you.

When Jesus came on the scene bringing God's love directly to the peeps….He displayed this evenly given love in all His actions. The Pharisees didn't dig that at all. They were your uppity, holier than thou, religious scholars who totally missed the message about why a dude like Jesus would choose to eat with sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes rather than the big wigs of ancient Israel.

Here are some references to back me up:

From The Message, Mark 2:13-17

Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. Again a crowd came to him and he taught them. Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, "Come along with me." He came.

Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: "What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riff-raff?"

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually fit."

From The Message, Luke 7:36-50

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee's house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman from the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his fee, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known the kind of woman this is who is falling all over him."

Jesus said to him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Oh? Tell me."
"Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?"
Simon answered, "I suppose the one who was forgiven the most."
"That's right," said Jesus.

Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, "Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn't quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal."
Then he spoke to her: "I forgive your sins."

That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: "Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!"
He ignored them and said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

I'd eat with Jesus in a heartbeat because Jesus would be standing in the soup kitchen line and eating with the people I love.

So...that brings me to making a difference just because it's the right thing to do... not because you are looking for self-promotion. Sometimes a hard one and sometimes easily blurred.

The Message, Matthew 6:2-4

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure... 'play actors' I call them.. treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it.. quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

I can see how some may say I self-promote in my blog. I hope I don't come across as self-promoting. I very much want to get people to think differently. I want the reader to take my stories and think differently about the homeless. That's all. I want to raise awareness of the homeless and of God's absolutely equal love for you, me and the crack-addicted prostitute on the corner of 9th Avenue and Grant.

Some verses on helping the needy for you to consider:

The Message, Proverbs 31:8-9

"Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down and outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!"

The Message, Micah 6:8

But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple; Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously...take God seriously.

(Be humble peeps.. be humble)

And as a very wise, very humble, absolutely true in her love for God, lovely lady once said, “Faith in action is love, and love in action is service. By transforming that faith into living acts of love, we put ourselves in contact with God Himself, with Jesus our Lord."

So heed the words of Mother Teresa and make a difference in your corner of the world this week. Work at transcending your faith into love and your love into service.

So that's about it for today... no newsletter this week; just my personal musings. Like them or not.

Be kind and be blessed.