Miracle on 42nd Street

Many of you, like me, were no doubt touched by the story coming out of New York City following the actions of 25 year old police officer Lawrence DePrimo. Officer DePrimo was working on 42nd Street on a really cold night in November when he noticed a shoeless homeless man walking down the sidewalk. The officer stepped into a nearby shoe store and emerged with a pair of all-weather boots, which he then helped the man to put on. The moment was captured on her cell phone camera by a tourist from Arizona.

20121129-131909.jpg

It was a moving moment that demonstrates love and generosity to a culture often overshadowed by cynicism and negativity. This time of year many people become more generous. Whether it is a reflection on the spirit of the season or a reflection on our nature, it is a great thing. The moment I heard the story of Officer DePrimo I immediately thought of this passage from Matthew’s Gospel.

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40 ESV)

You can read more about this story here.

Or see the original post on the NYPD Facebook page here.

Advertisements

10 Soap Box Thoughts

Some of these thoughts I gleaned from other places. Some are original. All are important ideas to me, which is really the only commonality that they share.

1. If we give our favorite political ideologues more time than we give Jesus, we are following the wrong master.

2. The Youth Pastor isn’t called to disciple your kids. You are.

3. The American Church desperately needs to redeem the concept of religion and religious activity within the context of Christianity.

4. You don’t have to be right. You don’t have to prove your point. You don’t have to win the argument.

5. A political change can not fix a moral dilemma.

6. I am called and commanded to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), but that starts at home. Church leaders who can’t lead their own family have no business trying to lead God’s people.

7. Humility, Humility, Humility. You’re not nearly as smart as you like to think you are, and by you I mean me.

8. Political correctness is stupid.

9. Everyone with a valid high school diploma or recognized equivalent should be able to attend any public university full time for one free semester at the beginning of their college career.

10. Your present is God’s gift of now. Use it well.

BAM!

20121127-011219.jpg

Today I wanted to punch a stranger in the face. I really did. So why didn’t I? Virtually every person present that would have witnessed the event would have most likely cheered. But would that have made it ok? No, it wouldn’t have. A popular consensus does not always justify an action.

What about the way I felt in that moment? Was that ok? I mean I was really angry, annoyed, and put off by this incredibly unpleasant person. Maybe. Feelings do not carry any moral weight on their own. In other words, being mad or upset is not inherently sinful. However, where you allow those feelings to lead you, how you act on them, is absolutely a moral matter.

Punching Unpleasant-Man in the face might have felt good briefly, but only because some part of me somewhere inside felt infringed upon. It illuminated a measure of pride that I never even realized was there. So what did Jamie and I do? After a brief and unproductive rant on Twitter I started praying for the guy. Right there in the restaurant I bowed my head and asked God to help me sort through my emotions without causing a scene, and to shut the loud mouth up too. Guess what? BAM! He did both.

1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

The following is a copy of the proclamation issued by President George Washington concerning Thanksgiving.

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in thecourse and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

For more information you can check out this site.

A Reasonable Thanks

If I were to begin to try to calculate or quantify the many things I have to be thankful for I would still be sitting here trying to write it all up when my mom pulled the smoked turkey out of the oven in a few hours. Most of us with the ability to read this live blessed lives which we so often take for granted, even if we don’t mean to. The one thing we can all be thankful for is what God has done for us. I hope this beautiful passage from Psalm 118 will serve as an encouraging reminder of a reason we all have to be thankful, not only today, but every day.

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:19-24 ESV)

Tree of Life

The forbidden fruit was tasted, and a curse fell upon mankind. A curse of sin and separation. The inaugural human couple was thrust from the Secret Garden, angelic sentries poised at the indiscernible entrance, and immortality was mercifully kept without the grasp of man. Thank God.

Genesis 3 recounts to us the story of the fall of man. Some terrible things are at work, but in the midst of the great tragedy of the fall, there is also an incredible mercy. God separated mankind from the possibility of an attainable physical immortality. What if He hadn’t? What if God had never allowed physical death?

You see, many people I know, or have read, who discount either the goodness of God or His sovereignty often do so by building a case upon the existence of death. Why would a good God allow death? How could an all powerful God allow death? To these I say, how could He not?

Had mankind been allowed to eat of the Tree of Life we would have been hopelessly lost in our immortality. We would have been forever stuck in this less-than-real existence, the super-reality of the spiritual realm lost to us. Furthermore, to fix this, God’s Son Himself took on the form of man and allowed Himself to be murdered, to die, in order to restore the gap between human transgressors and the divine Godhead. Without death, there is no cross, no sacrifice, no atonement, and no resurrection.

48 Hours

The last 48 hours were a whirlwind of awesome. I departed Friday afternoon from Russellville First Assembly of God in the company of 17 other excellent individuals as part of our Chi Alpha missions team “Kairos”. Our destination? Memphis International Church. We arrived around 7:30 pm Friday and didn’t waste any time getting to work, but the purpose of this entry is not to highlight what our team did this weekend. That will come in another later writing.

I just wanted to take a brief moment as I lie here ready to catch up on some sleep and reflect on the remarkable nature of the church I spent the weekend with. Memphis International Church is a place that is light on resources, but steeped in compassion. It is their driving motivation. And in a place full of such diversity, it is the tie that binds. I was utterly blown away by the level of outreach they are able to accomplish with what little they have. To that end, search your heart and support them if you find it in your means to do so.

I have been in a LOT of churches in my life, but never one that is so on target in terms of understanding their community and engaging it with the unfettered love of Jesus. This is a place that is deeply connected to the Great Commission. They get it. They aren’t trying to shape people into homogenous hive-mind-like drones. They are showing and sharing Jesus with every brick on their property, but it doesn’t stop there. They are regularly reaching out into their community. They understand that the Church is much less about a building, and much more about the connected Christ-centered community.

It’s not a large church. It’s not a large congregation. But they are making a difference where they are at that puts a lot of places I have seen to shame. What an incredible weekend!

More to come soon.