I Met a Homeless Man Last Night, and It Could Have Been Me.

bench-areaIt’s Sunday afternoon, and my wife texts me. She has been running, and it turns out she stopped to talk to a homeless man on the trail. After I chastised her about approaching strangers, she explained that she had felt God prompting her to interact with him. He wasn’t asking for anything, he was just walking. He seemed nice, and she offered to buy him dinner. The plan was for me to go get some food and meet him at the end of the trail.

15 minutes later I’m at the trailhead with a bag of Chipotle. After a while I wonder if he decided to forgo the free dinner offer. It’s getting dark. The out of the gloom I see a lone figure emerge. We meet at the picnic tables, and the first words out of his mouth are concern about my wife’s safety. He must have said about 10 times how she should be careful talking to men she doesn’t know. She doesn’t normally do this kind of thing, but when God moves, it’s good to listen.

I presented the food and we started talking. He was obviously grateful for the meal, and I got the impression that he would agree to anything I asked. I did not feel any urge to share the entire Gospel presentation with him. Weird, right? Instead I felt confident that any declaration he made for Christ that evening would simply be out of gratitude for the gesture of a meal, and not out of any conviction of the Holy Spirit. Later my wife confirmed she had felt the same way when they first spoke. He knew about religious things. He was open when I told him about a local ministry that can help him, and I know shares the Gospel. But this meeting wasn’t about his salvation. It was about meeting a physical and emotional need. Physical because a man’s gotta eat. Emotional, because people need to talk with other people. So we did, we talked a while.

His story wasn’t so different from many I’ve heard. He had a cash job lined up for this morning. He was new to the area, and really wanted to make it to Shreveport. I told him what I knew about shelters and such in the area. then I asked why he was heading for Shreveport. He didn’t answer that question, but he did tell me how he ended up homeless.

He was a single guy, working where he could. He was working for cash, detailing semi trucks. Got hurt on the job, and there wasn’t any Workman’s Comp for a job like that. 4 months in the hospital; Mounting medical bills and no income. He said he lost his car, his stuff and then his place to live. He’d been living like most Americans, in debt up to his neck, and it was all gone. He never got around to saying what his destination held for him, some glimmer of hope to regain his footing. He’d obviously been out on the road for a while. He said he hoped his work this week would give him enough cash for the $28 bus ticket to Shreveport. He never asked me for anything, and seemed truly grateful for a hot meal on a cool evening.

As I left him to eat his dinner, I couldn’t help reflecting on my own past. When I was single, living up to my neck in debt. I wasn’t working for cash, but I didn’t have health insurance, and when I blew out the ACL on my knee it looked pretty bad. I could have been fired from my job, I might not have had access to a non profit hospital that would write off some of the cost. My employer didn’t have to pay for $5000 of the surgery costs our of his own pocket (and begin providing health coverage). I could have been saddled with the entire cost of surgery/recovery and left with no income, massive debt and no choice but to try to get home to my parents. I don’t think I would have ended up homeless, but things could have been much worse.

When you drive by people on the street, it’s easy to look down and ask why they didn’t do things differently. And there are plenty of so-called “chronically homeless” who don’t want to get off the street. But sometimes it’s just a run of bad luck, and a guy trying to get somewhere that can give him a break, a leg back up into a more normal life.

if a bowl of spicy chicken an give him energy for a day of physical labor, which might lead to a bus ticket, I’m glad to help.

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Ministers of The Reconciliation

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV

I was doing my reading in my new plan from the Youversion Bible App and I hit one of my favorite passages, 2 Corinthians 5.

I love this. God could have used anything, anything to spread the Gospel. But he chose to use us. WE are the ministers of reconciliation. We are ambassadors for Christ. God chooses to work through us, to make his appeal for reconcilation to himself through us.

Want to know why I do the ministry work I do? Because we are ambassadors for Christ. I am a minister of reconciliation.

Gay Church: a biblical perspective on faith, worship and homosexuality.

{UPDATE: Obviously, years later, I haven’t made this film. But the idea is still here. I still haven’t let the domain name go. Still praying about this one.}

purple church
Would you watch a documentary like this:

Gay Church
A biblical perspective on faith, worship and homosexuality.

It’s easy for Christians to sit in our pews and take shots at people who live lives that are foreign to us. I don’t have a problem with standing on biblical truth against sinful behavior. I do have a problem when we church goers ignore our own sin in order to feel superior to those we have taken a stand against. We stand against those dirty people doing dirty sins.

I have to wonder, is our own life that much cleaner in God’s eyes? What does God see when he looks at my church and the gay church across town?

This documentary is about faith, worship and homosexuality.

Is it possible for a church that preaches that homosexual behavior is equal to heterosexual behavior to experience the presence of God in worship? What’s it like to be Christian and gay? What is the real difference between a gay church and my church?

The Bible is clear about homosexual behavior being sinful. This documentary isn’t about that. If you want to know whether homosexual behavior is wrong or not, this isn’t the movie for you. I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church. I am a licensed and ordained pastor. I went to a Southern Baptist seminary. And I think homosexual behavior is wrong. I also think that pre marital sex, adultery, and most cases of divorce are wrong.

A gay church is a church full of sinners. Of course, my church is a church full of sinners, too. I’ve never been to a gay church. The only difference that I know for certain is that a gay church openly discounts whole sections of the Bible. But just like the gay church, we have plenty of people sitting in the pews of my church who are in relationships that are sinful. They might give lip service to what the Bible says about their lives, but they don’t actually live their life any different. And we expect God to show up every single week when we gather for worship.

What is the spiritual life of a gay Christian like? Can you be a practicing homosexual and be a devoted follower of Christ? How does worship differ from worship at my church? How does a gay church handle divorce? Pre marital sex? Adultery? Does the pastor ever preach from Leviticus, or Romans 1, or out of anything else Paul wrote?

These are some of the very real questions I have about this issue. And in our ever changing cultural landscape, they are questions that every Christian should consider.

“Gay Church” will discover the answers to these questions. With interviews from clergy and laity from all sides and perspectives we will piece together a biblical perspective, and call for examination of our own lives as we move through moral and cultural issues.

I’m seriously considering trying to make this film. Part of it is just curiosity. Part is a need to address this issue from a biblical perspective. You can’t ignore this issue. The world is changing. Chic Fil A took heat because the owner affirmed traditional marriage. Louie Giglio got uninvited to the Presidential inauguration because of a sermon he preached 15 years ago. Christians who ignore the issue of same sex attraction will be ill prepared to live in the coming world.

Controversial? Without doubt. The fact that we do not honestly address these kinds of questions is one of the reasons that many younger people leave the church. We don’t need to be afraid of this issue.

So, would you watch a film like this?