For a few years, we spent every Monday afternoon with a group of compassionate people feeding and loving on some friends and neighbors who were less fortunate than we were. We provided a hot meal, companionship and sometimes a ride to homeless and hungry people in the small town of Hernando in Citrus County.
When we began commuting each week to Tallahassee to serve at City Church on Sundays and lead a community group on Monday evenings, one of our biggest disappointments was not being able to serve those people on Monday afternoons.
Saturday, my wife Cyndi, my daughter Meghan and I stopped for a hamburger on the east side of Tallahassee. We were hot and dirty from moving Ethan into a house for school that starts in a few weeks. I had stuffed some cash in my pocket earlier and as we finished eating, I took it out to fold it neatly and put it back in my pocket. As I did there was a man standing at the counter watching me. The man was neatly dressed – old, dirty clothes but neatly dressed. He took his 78 cent hamburger to his table, spread the wrapper out and slowly ate his dinner.
As Cyndi and I looked at each other, we knew that God once again had provided us a divine opportunity. I walked over to the man and asked him if I could buy him a beverage for his meal. His eyes lit up and he very graciously told me that would be fine. I purchased the man a beverage and some more food and placed it in front of him. He thanked me and smiled and said something to th effect of how nice we were to think of him and hoped that God would bless me.
This man didn’t know that he was my blessing. I never believe in coincidences. I believe God has ordained our paths each day. Some days we refuse to open our eyes and see what He has for us that day. Other days we are more willing to listen to what He has to say and to see what He has in store for us.
I haven’t had a full-time job in 20 months. But I have enough to provide something for someone who has nothing. Because of Jesus.
That interaction caused me to think a lot more about how we view our stuff. On Sunday, Stuart Owens said in his sermon something to the effect of whether we have $10 or $10 million in our bank account and if we obsess over it, it’s still greed.
I pray that God will always allow me to give back to him and to those He places in my path.
Life is all a matter of perspective. I’m learning this more and more each day. While I tend to think of myself as a smart, educated man – I have quickly realized that education doesn’t mean you understand the real values in life – those things that really matter.
This week I have had some great opportunities. Wednesday night Cyndi and I participated in our church wide community group. During the summer we are meeting together as a church every other week, enjoying a meal together and then breaking into groups of eight or so to discuss the topic of the night. This week’s topic was “greed”. While that might not sound like a fun topic to talk about, we had a really good conversation with seven others about how greed can/does creep into our daily lives – sometimes knowingly, sometimes not. Focusing on Matthew 6:19-20: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Last year we had an opportunity to travel with 14 friends to Cartagena, Colombia. There we met some wonderful people. One of those new friends is Alex Rocha. Alex has a heart for God and for people. Over the past year Alex has been planning and preparing to start a ministry to local youths. This week, City Church Tallahassee committed to helping Alex financially with his ministry – along with regular spiritual guidance, training and encouragement! Here are some photos of Alex’s new youth center:
While this may not seem like much to you or I, this is the beginning of a ministry to youths in the San Fransisco neighborhood in Cartagena!
I also had the opportunity to talk with a new friend today – Ricky Love. Ricky is the pastor of a non traditional church plant in Richmond, Virginia called Matthew’s Table. Ricky works with people that most of us would rather not be around. Ricky has found enough love in his heart for the very people that need a whole lot of love! Here’s a picture of some of the work he is doing:
Back to perspective. Sometimes when I think I’ve got it bad, that nothing is going my way, that everyone else gets all the breaks in life, that maybe I should just give up and do something else, I’m reminded of friends like these. And reminded that God really is good. All the time. To me. And as I look at sunrises like the one at the top of this post, I’m reminded that God’s mercies are new everyday to me – and I’m thankful for them!