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I saw an old man today.

Resting on his hospital bed.

Lonely.

Looking up at his television.

Hoping someone would visit.

Longing.

He wishes he would have cared.

Maybe taken the time to call.

Recalling.

Instead of living for himself.

Loving money, using people.

Regretting.

Nice things, that he sacrificed for.

They weren’t there in that room.

No one was.

No friends. No family.

No smiling faces or loving embraces.

Nothing.

“So this is it,” he must be thinking.

“This is the culmination of my life.”

Left alone.

 

Lord, let this not be my story.

Let my world be filled with people, not possessions.

Purpose, not pointless pursuits.

God, I want my hospital room to be filled.

Filled with love.

Filled with you.

 

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What a fool I am.
What have I done?
Claiming to be your son.
But acting like a heathen.
Someone who asks for truth
But doesn’t act on it.
A man capable of much evil.
Thinking he can just do what he wants when he wants
A brute beast, carnal, wicked I can be.
Without you I am nothing,
A force for evil instead of good.
God, how do you still love me when I’ve betrayed you?
It doesn’t seem right.
Week after week I ignored you,
Wanting only what I could take for my selfish gain.
God, I am sorry.
Crush this rebellious spirit,
Resurrect one that seeks you first and obeys you always.
God, out of these ashes would you please make something soft, moldable, usable in your hands.
Would you look again at me and smile?
I want your face to shine on me again.
I want you God in all your glory.
I want nothing less than your best.
I love you Lord.
I do.

Slippin’ Away

(Written about a Club Christ student named Allen on 4/20/2007)

It’s sad to see him slip away,

It started so subtly this spring,

One day went by without a hi,

Then another and yet another still.

And I can’t say that I didn’t try,

I did.  At least I tell myself that I did.

I knew there was something going on,

Something painful and dark was there,

Behind his door, between his absence.

As one with spiritual eyes can see,

This boy is chained, not free.

Held down by insecurity,

Locked up by an illusion,

He thinks he must fight his fight alone,

So he foolishly falls face first,

Over his misplaced faith.

If he could only see that what he runs from,

Could set him free.

For if the Son has set you free,

You are free indeed.

So please, please Lord take the lead.

Let him feel the fall as he hits the wall.

Will I be there Lord to help him up,

To dust him off and point him up?

For you alone can save him.

You alone.

Welcome Home Allen

(Written on 08/03/2009)

“It’s like I know of God, but I don’t know God,” Allen shared with me on the car ride home.  They are the words of realization that every youth worker longs to hear.

Especially from this kid.

Man, the effort, the energy spent reaching out to him.  The knocks on his front door to see if he was going to come to Club Christ today.  The “pulling you aside” conversations that led to nothing. The prayers pushed up amidst the series of disappointments.  The two hour long car drives to Caliente to get just two minutes with him.  The looks Candace and I exchanged when we found out that he wasn’t gonna show up that day.  Yet there was something about that kid that left room for hope, for that “I’ll keep trying” attitude to stick around.

So when he told me that he wanted to commit his 15 year old life to Christ, it made sense in a strange sort of way.  There he was, humbly saying that this was what he wanted.  He wanted that peace that he couldn’t find in his heart.  He wanted that joy that would carry him above all his hurt.  He wanted that love that would accept him for who he is and who he isn’t.

He wanted Jesus.

The one who has led this pursuit.  The one who bled to do what no one else could do.  Not you, not me, not anybody but Jesus.  He held the keys to Allen’s heart.  He has set him free.  He has given him life.  He is worthy of all the worship.  He deserves all the glory.  For this young man named Allen now knows his daddy loves him.

And I hear that proud father of us prodigals saying, “We had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.”  Welcome home Allen!  Welcome home : >)

Some say they have never really had even a conversation with their pastor, but I have never known such a thing.  For the past seven years almost to the day, I’ve known Pastor Bret as a friend first and then as a second Dad and also a brother in Christ.  From the prayer walks through UNLV to the ones through the streets of Africa, what a remarkable seven years it has been!

I had hoped for seven more years.  I had hoped that he would be the one to marry me and my future wife, to dedicate my kids to the Lord, to teach me about doctrine and truth and love and life.  And yet I am beginning to see that future erased before my eyes.  I want to believe that this is all some sort of mistake, but it is too late.  He has already tossed in the towel, turned over a new leaf, let go of the reigns, walked out the door, and left.  A moral failure is the reason he gave.  His saddened voice explained that this needed to happen for healing to come.  And he exited the stage for the last time as my pastor.

Do I blame this man, point a finger, and scoff?  No, for he knows where he has failed and has been honest enough with the world to own his sin.  This just shows me his character.   He still inspires me even in the midst of this mess.  My God, my God, have mercy on the man who has taught me how to be a man.  Have mercy on the church that has blessed me a hundred-fold.  Have mercy on those who now grieve and weep for the story told.

And let us look to the place where forgiveness is found in the midst of pain and powerlessness.  Let us look to the cross of Christ to find hope.  For God is not finished here in this Henderson church.  He has only just begun.  For we will continue in our Pastor’s footsteps to make Jesus famous in Las Vegas and to the ends of the earth.  So help us God.

For more information on the resignation of Bret Johnson from South Hills Church visit http://www.south-hills.org/transition

I am a fundraiser.  Not because I neccessarily chose that position voluntarily.  It just comes with the package of being in ministry and working for a non-profit.  Fundraising is not always “fun” even though “fun” is in the name. But it is rewarding and God works miracles through the process both in my heart and in those who give.  And in a recession, I will be relying on many miracles to fund Club Christ this year.  So in preperation of what will be a year of much failure and much success I have a plan.  Here are 5 things I plan to do:

1) Pray a lot

  • Many natural, normal avenues of funding are dried up so I must seek supernatural wisdom to find new untapped opportunities for partnership.  “Oh God, open up some doors!”

2) Meet more people

  • The more people I meet, the more might be blessed through the ministry.  “Jesus, please give me courage to go and to share.”

3) Give and give

  • The more I give away, the more I get back from God!  So cool, yet so counter-intuitive.  “Lord, please create in me a generous heart.”

4) Deny myself

  • Things like free time and sleep must be sacrificed for the greater good.  “Oh God, I offer my body as a living sacrifice for your glory.”

5) Get truth

  • Counteracting the media’s messages and my mind’s excuses with the truth of God is a must.  “Father, fill me with your truth to gain hope in the midst of despair.”

So if you are on your knees anytime soon and you are wondering what to pray for, remember not only me but the thousands of other missionaries around the world who are facing huge trials this year.  And if you have anyone you would like to introduce me to…  :>)

I spoke with a drug dealer yesterday.

And I wasn’t looking for a fix this time.

Nah, my puff, puff, pass days are through.

But here was this dark car with its window down,

With a man in the drivers seat leaning out like the candy man,

Offering Loritabs to all the neighborhood teens.

But these were teens were not just some hoodrats,

They were my teens from Club Christ,

And this was my turf he was on.

So with their curious eyes watching,

I approached the man in the dark car and peered through his open window to introduce myself.

“You a cop?”

“Nah man, I’m a youth worker.”

And I proceeded to say that the only thing I want these kids taking in is Jesus.

“Well” he said, “I believe in Jesus, but I still smoke a little weed.”

So I told my story to his surprisingly eager ears,

He even put his car in park and turned off the engine!

But as I spoke with him, it was plain to see that he just wanted to justify himself.

Like he could be some kind of Christian drug dealer or something.

His best defense came to be that he must provide for his family.

I said, “Man, if you seek his kingdom first, all these things will be added to you.”

But see his perspective of God was way different than mine.

One hates even the hint of sin,

The other states that the ends justify the means.

“Well, if Jesus had a family to feed and all he had was a dime sack, he would do what he got to do.”

Sadly, he was serious when he said that,

But I had to clarify that Jesus wouldn’t be having no dime sack.

By this point I knew my time with this dude had reached its conclusion.

He said, “I’m out” and drove away,

Leaving his customers behind,

still sitting on the electric box in front of Club Christ.

Those teens got to witness something stranger than fiction that night.

One dude dealing death,

The other offering hope.

One looking to poison,

The other protect.

Wow, I spoke with a drug dealer yesterday.

This is a reflection in response to watching the movie, Amazing Grace,

which is the extraordinary story of Willam Wilberforce’s journey to stop the slave trade in Britan.

Oh God, what is greatness really?

Is it just to be known for large, sweeping change?

Is it dependent on the number of lives touched?

Is it something that can even be recognized on the earth?

Oh Father, you have called many men to do extraordinary things here on earth.

Yet many still refuse to behold the reality of human suffering and sin.

I myself know of this ignorance.

I live within it every single day.

I have had flashes of passion based on moments of clarity.

I’ve allowed myself to be broken but just a handful of times.

And when I take an honest account of my heart,

I see that it is far from the things that move your heart.

Some days I wonder if I am much different than those who are blind.

I have much in common with them.

And still I call myself a Christian.

Many who have come before me,

That great cloud of witnesses,

Would look at my life and wonder why I waste so much time.

They would see my diluted dreams and weep.

From their vantage point I must look like a sloth… a glutton.

But alas they then would be inclined to see the Holy Spirit inside of me.

And though my days are certainly numbered, they must hold out hope.

That the same power that took hold of them,

through the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

will seize my feeble mind and strike down my foolish pride.

That the same God that worked in them to produce fruit worthy of repentance,

Will finish the work He began in me some six years ago.

And I too believe in Him…

When I know not to believe in myself.