Thursday, April 30, 2009

Head above water....

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

Don’t fret, I haven’t aborted my journey, but I am walking so fast and so far that I’ve found little time to write. Now that I volunteer for six different ministries and am writing communications pieces for the church, I have little time to sit at my own desk to capture in detail what I’ve done or am doing (I’ve conducted four interviews this week for touchedbyservice.blogspot.com and am in the process of transcribing them, had two meetings at church about creating new ministry brochures, picked up Cameron from school and spent afternoon time with him, making a run to the airport tonight at 10:30PM to shuttle arriving guests, and working tomorrow at Good Samaritan). Please take it on faith that I am serving daily, hours a day, all while racing around to keep my worldly household in order.

This week has been especially trying, but I am happy to say that after a combined total of six hours on the phone with tech support we were finally able to get my DSL modem, wireless router and computer to agree to talk with one another again, the air conditioner works finally again so Jill and I can now get a good night of sleep, and the geyser in my front yard has been capped. All I have left to do now is to shovel the dirt back into the hole and replant the shrubs. Life is simple and sweet, right?

If there is a blessing in all this it surely must be that everything didn’t happen next week, the last few days before Mother’s Day. Now that would have been a disaster as it would have complicated my ability to do the radio tour. Speaking of which, next week my interview schedule is as follows:

Monday: 7:20 on WBNR, New York
9:25 on KFON, Green Bay
9:30 on KKOT, Omaha
10:20 on CRN Digital, national
Tuesday: 9:00 on WNGI, Terre Haute
Wednesday: 9:30 on WTTB, Vero Beach
Thursday: FamilyNet Morning Show, national TV
Friday: 3:18 on WDWS, Champaign, IL

As for Bible reading, I’m nearing the finish line in the book of 2 Kings and Luke. I’m sure you are tired of hearing me say it, but I still find much of the Old Testament laborious reading. That’s fine, though; there is still something to learn about and incorporate into daily living on nearly every page.

Provided another household disaster doesn’t muddle my schedule, I plan to post at least three times next week.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Movers and Shakers

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

Are you living in comfortable surroundings, enjoying nice things, lacking none of life’s necessities? If so, walk in someone else’s shoes for a moment…

Imagine coming home to find there is no table on which to share dinner with your family, no sofa to relax on, and no bed to sleep in. Instead you eat sitting on the floor with your plate resting on a cardboard box, you relax in a plastic lawn chair trying to read in the fading light coming though a window, stalling going to bed because sleeping on the floor is so uncomfortable. Your clothes rest in a neat pile in the corner because you haven’t a dresser, and your children do their homework in their laps because there isn’t a desk in sight.

For many people not far from our own doorsteps, this scenario is a stark reality. I know, and so do others who give up a Saturday morning now and then to work as volunteers for The Movers and Shakers, a furniture ministry. We’ve seen people living in such circumstances, sometimes stopping at as many as eight households in a single day just like the one described here.

The Movers & Shakers Furniture Ministry collects and, through its partner ministries, distributes donated furniture to those in need throughout the north metro Atlanta area. Two Saturdays per month throughout the year, volunteers begin the day at 8AM, loading the trucks and making deliveries in Gwinnett and North Fulton counties. As furniture pickups and delivers are completed, the team members also extend a hand of friendship and offer prayer for the donors and recipients, showing the heart and will of God to those we come in contact with.

I’ll never forget the first time I volunteered to be a Mover and Shaker. Our first stop was at a small two bedroom apartment, home to a single mom and three children. They shared one queen size mattress and took turns getting to sleep alone on the tattered love seat in the living room. We had come to deliver three beds for the children. It was just a few days before Christmas.

As the team of four volunteers made our way down the hall with the beds, we couldn’t help but notice the children. They were jumping with excitement. Their eyes danced and they playfully fought over who would get which bed. The beds didn’t match but the siblings didn’t give a care. They were finally going to have a restful night of sleep, alone in their own bed.

Their mom cried as we all held hands and prayed before we volunteers left to go on to our next stop. It took all I had not to cry too, and I wasn’t the only man so moved.

I’ve given three Saturday’s to the Movers and Shakers Ministry since that first delivery, and I look forward to serving still other days. Not only do I get to witness moving scenes, I get to meet other men of all ages from Perimeter and other participating churches. I’ve worked with men as young as sixteen and as old as Randy Pope, all men who were willing to break a sweat in the course of finding non-believers. As we work we tell each other about ourselves, our families, our churches, and our own journeys to Christ.

After six hours of carrying furniture, the day comes to an end and the volunteers part and go their separate ways. I go home tired, once with a blister and another time, a huge bruise on my leg. But I go home happy, rewarded, and thankful for the opportunity to serve. I go home knowing that I, along with the other volunteers I worked with that day, heard and heeded God’s call to demonstrate our faith through our works.

After volunteering only twice, you are awarded an official Movers and Shakers tee shirt. Without thinking I grabbed mine one day on my way out to run errands. Someone recognized the logo and said, “That’s a great ministry!”

Indeed it is.

To learn more about the Movers and Shakers Ministry and how to become a volunteer, visit http://www.atlmoversnshakers.org/

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Hazards

I'm still here, but swamped! The underground irrigation system blew up, the air conditioning system blew up, the wireless router blew up, I discovered a company producing unauthorized products using my written words, the IRS recalculated our taxes due, and worst of all, "our" Starbucks suddenly closed! All this in the last four days!

But, thank the Lord, we are healthy and keeping smiles on our faces. When the water receeds I'll get back to writing. I hope that will be in the next day or two. Now pardon me, I have a fire to put out.

Friday, April 24, 2009

About a Boy

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

I met Cameron and his mom last night; we had dinner together and talked for nearly two hours. He seems like a good kid; certainly is polite. So we agreed to give mentoring a try with each other and then made a list of the things he wanted us to do together. That list includes skateboarding, basketball, football and wrestling. I’m not sure he realizes I’m only 10 months from being a half-century old.

But we did agree that I’ll pick him up from school on Monday and give him a spin through the city in the Porsche, and to have lunch next Saturday at his favorite Chinese restaurant. Eating in definitely one thing we have in common!

Actually, it doesn’t matter what we have in common; what matters is what he likes, and what he needs. This mentoring arrangement isn’t about me, and it isn’t about us. It’s about him. It’s about a boy.

Whoa, I’m working on three projects for the church right now so have been swamped with interviews, photography and writing for that purpose instead of my own pursuits, so not much to put on the blog today except that I’m grateful for my ever widening circle of friends and acquaintances that I’ve met since finding a passion for ministry!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seeing More

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

In the past I’ve mentioned Galatians 5:22, the verse that goes “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Little did I know I was misquoting the verse. It actually is “… gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Dang, I was missing the best part if the verse! Imagine that – no law against being gentle, joyful and kind, yet we are so reluctant to be that way. So reluctant, in fact, that when we meet someone who demonstrates those characteristics, we either don’t think that person is authentic or we admire him as if they are he is very special. If only we understood those are the very characteristics the Great Teacher has modeled for us, and asked us to demonstrate those same characteristics in our own daily lives.

Another great verse I’ve been introduced to recently is Philippians 2:3-4. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” That captures the spirit of serving, doesn’t it?

Speaking of serving, this is a portion of the post about my time spent Saturday at the Convoy of Hope which I wrote for Touched By Service:

While I was scribbling down notes and quotes one gentleman walked up to me and asked if I was a reporter. “I have something to say,” he insisted. “I think a mistake churches have made is to be so vocal about the things they are against, instead of being vocal about the things they are for. To be here today serving others is to prove that churches can also be for something, something that everyone can see is good.”

The last volunteer I spoke with after interviewing many during two hours was a pastor. “We are helping people to believe that all good things come from God.” He paused and surveyed the hundreds of people surrounding us where we stood – children with full backpacks, moms holding smiling children with painted faces and sticky fingers, dads with fresh haircuts carrying bags of groceries to the car. When he looked back at me his eyes were moist. “We should do this all the time,” he concluded.

I learned later that 195 adults and children accepted Jesus that day. Yes, indeed, we should do this, serve, ALL the time.

Visit www.touchedbyservice.blogspot.com to see the entire post.

So often I’ve heard of read scripture but didn’t really absorb the meaning of the words. But last Saturday I spent hours witnessing something profound, hundreds of people serving hundreds of other people, and then on Sunday the two verses mentioned above were used in our lesson. Like never before, I got it, I absorbed it. Now I’m doing my best to live it.

You know, the more you open your eyes, the more you see.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Giving

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

One of the things that perplexes me when I read the Bible is I often don’t know what to take literally or simply as an illustrative parable. Just recently while reading Luke I pondered the story of the rich ruler who asked Jesus how to get into heaven, and was told to get rid of everything he had. I wondered, am I supposed to sell off or give away everything Jill and I have?

So I asked my friend Richard to lunch, he’s been reading the Bible far longer than me, and posed my question to him. He pushed back and asked if I though Jesus really meant for us to pluck out an offending eye or cut off an offending hand? Then he smiled and said he thinks sometime Jesus said things tongue-in-cheek to get a point across. Neither of us had a definitive answer for what Jesus really meant when speaking to the rich ruler, but we both hoped perhaps he was testing the man’s true desire to follow God’s wishes. That makes sense to me know, as in the same way God tested Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son.

Shortly after lunch I saw Linley and told her of my conversation with Richard. She asked me not to give away our cell phones or turn off our Internet and cable services. Now that was clearly tongue-in-cheek.

So I, as I often do when I can’t get an unanswered question off my mind, Googled the rich ruler story. After reading through a few sites I came across this version of what Jesus said to the disciples after the rich ruler walked away:

“There is no one who sacrificially gives for my sake that will not receive much more in this age, and in the life to come.”

Now to me that seems to answer my question. No, Jesus does not want us to give away everything we have. As Richard pointed out, we would then be ill equipped to care for our families and support our church. But yes, he wants us to give sacrificially; he wants it to hurt a little. Think about it, if what we give doesn’t hurt a little, or a lot at times, how can our giving really honor God when he has suffered the most in his giving to us?

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Commissioned

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

So now I’m a Stephen Minister; the commissioning ceremony was Tuesday night. Twelve others and I met with the other ministers and officially accepted into the ministry. It really was a powerful evening.

First of all, I went alone because Linley had come down with tonsillitis that day and was feeling pretty bad, so she and Jill stayed home but they did send me off with hugs and smiles of pride. I know I have their support.

We began with a brief social so that new and old ministers could get to know one another, and then went into the prayer room. Perimeter has a prayer team that meets at the church several times a week to pray for the church, congregation, community and more. Before this group we took our oath, answering “Yes, with the help of God,” to each question. It was a reminder to us that we are not healers, only messengers. God is the healer. Then we received our Stephen Ministry certificates.

After the formal commissioning, each new minister was lead away by two members of the prayer team who asked what weighed heavily on us, and then prayed for us individually. It was overwhelming to hear two people pray so earnestly and personally for me and my family. I am rich with blessings already, but if God finds favor in me as these two people asked him to, I’m going to be hard pressed to describe my gratitude. I tell you, it makes me want to serve Him even more.

Next we gathered in a circle and were asked to hold our hands out palms up. An Elder went around to each of us and anointed us, making the sign of the cross in each palm with francenscence oil. As he did so another Elder read to us the story of Stephen from the book of Acts. After each of us was anointed, we were asked to hold hands. As we did the prayer team gathered around us, laid hands on our shoulders, and took turns praying out loud for us.

I kid you not, warmth filled my hands, and I felt warm vibrations radiating from their hands on my shoulders into and throughout my body. Their words lifted my heart. The ceremony was as powerful as when I became baptized.

When it was over we all congratulated each other, Carla, my prayer partner during the training, and I hugged and made plans to meet with our spouses for a glass of wine next week, and then everyone went their separate ways.

As I got into the car I found two notes sitting on the passenger seat. Jill and Linley had driven to the church to deliver them, wanting me to know they were there for me even though they couldn’t attend the ceremony.

What a night. I’m proud to be a Stephen Minister.

On a side note, I found this entry on a teen’s blog this AM. It is yet another example of why I write what I do, why I’m so grateful God has blessed me with the gift of crafting a story:

“On my way out of Target I passed the book section and one book in particular caught my eye. A small hardcover orange book titled "Why a Daughter Needs a Dad" was sitting on a low shelf. I began reading the first few pages and found myself crying. No, I'm not talking about little tears that you can hold in the corner of your eyes, I was full on bawling in the store. I took the book and found an aisle of luggage, knowing no one would be desperately shopping airport bags at 9:00 PM. I sat down in between suitcases and continued to read the book, and when I finally finished I wiped face dry and just sat there thinking about my dad.”

Have a great weekend!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reconciliation

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

Gosh, so much to tell you…

During our Easter Sunday service our pastor kept talking about reconstruction versus reconciliation; he said our challenge as people coming to Christ is to forget about attempting to rebuild ourselves into good people (the “performance” philosophy, he calls it) but instead to seek a passionate relationship with God, asking Him to work within us and through us, to be reconciled with Him. It is only by yielding ourselves to God’s will that we can truly be the followers He wants us to be. As Jesus said in Luke, only God is good. Man alone can never be good for he is broken with sin. When I first really understood this (while reading Luke last when night sitting on a plane returning home from a meeting in FL) I was relieved. Wow, I don’t have to beat myself up with guilt for failing to be fully righteous. I can simply ask to be forgiven and then used for His purpose, and all is well thereafter.

Too weird to believe? Then read this: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Speaking of a meeting in FL, I had the opportunity to spend a day with a small group of executives of a distinctively Christian company. They said the blessing before meals and as the corporate mission and plans for growth were discussed someone made sure the discussion was always parallel with biblical values. Another wow; I’d never been to a corporate meeting quite like that. It was good.

I’ve learned that Cameron, the young man I may mentor, is willing to meet me. Our first time together will be next Thursday for dinner – he, his mom, the mentoring facilitator, and me. A scary time for both of us I’m sure. I’ve never really spent that much time around boys, and he’s never had a male role model, much less an old fart like me. Please keep this meeting in your prayers and ask God to help me be the positive influence this twelve year old boy needs.

And on the note of prayer, remember my anxiety about praying aloud in public? Well I’ve been asked to join the board of a ministry and this past Tuesday I attended my first meeting. At the end of the meeting I was asked to close the session with a prayer. I nearly freaked out but then remembered the words of my long lost but found again friend when I told her I couldn’t ask for a blessing before our meal. “Yes, you can,” she said. So I bowed my head, they waited, and suddenly words came out of my mouth! No one burst out laughing so I suppose I did OK. So now I believe it more than ever – if you are filled with the Spirit, He will come out when He needs to.

Finally, I am now officially a Stephen Minister! Wow, that deserves a post all by itself, so I’ll save that for tomorrow. Tune in again, it was an incredible experience.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Newsweek

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

Late and brief today; the storms passing through Atlanta yesterday fried my DSL line so I’m sitting in Starbucks along with a hundred other people hoping for a few minutes of free WiFi.

It’s going to be an exciting day: I get to learn about more Cameron, the young boy for whom I’m becoming a mentor, and schedule a date to meet him, and tonight is the commissioning ceremony for me and eleven others to become Stephen Ministers!

In the last four months so many people have asked me to pray for them I’ve started a prayer book to help me keep track of who I’m praying for. In addition to all my family, friends and neighbors, I record the names of people I meet on the streets, through the ministries, or over the Internet who have asked me to remember them in my prayers. After I realized I couldn’t possible keep all their names in memory, I began to write them down and then hold the little notebook as I pray, asking God who knows all to bless those whose names I’ve recorded. I hope it works.

I read an interesting article in the current issue of Newsweek, The End of Christian America, by Jon Meacham. In a nutshell it says more and more people are defining themselves as spiritual but not religious, meaning they are adopting comfortable quasi-religious beliefs rather than keeping strict adherence to any one set of denomination’s doctrines (this is what our pastor calls the Kingdom of Self versus the Kingdom of God). I recognized the conduct, having myself lived by that philosophy for so many years. The thesis of the article is that Christianity is becoming less of a force in U.S. politics and culture.

I’ll let you read the article if this sort of topic interests you. My point in bringing it up is to share the few sentences that really stood out for me: “… it is a mistake to think God is chiefly concerned with religion. ‘I hate the sounds of your solemn assemblies,’ the Lord says in Amos. Religion is not only about worshipping your God but about doing godly things; a central message of the Gospels is the duty of the Christian to transform reality through works of love.”

I’m no academic scholar so I’m not sure if this is what the author meant to say, but it seems to me his message is it’s okay for the Christian church as an institution to loose its influence on the political landscape as long as Christians are acting like Christ – walking the walk and talking the talk – Living the Word. I can accept that. After all, Jesus was a carpenter, not a politician.

I’m on the road in FL tomorrow so tune in Thursday for news about Cameron, the Stephen Ministry, and observations about the world from 36,000 feet.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Something to Remember

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

Whew! Jill and I returned late Saturday night from a four city book tour and are struggling to re-accustom ourselves to waking up with an alarm clock and return to a less gluttonous diet. We were in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio where the sun is hot and the Tex-Mex is abundant on the plate!

In between signing books we managed to squeeze in a few points of interest, including Dealey Plaza and the JFK museum, a Longhorn Stampede (a sauntering amble, really), the world’s largest bat colony taking flight at sunset, and more. But what impressed us most is something we accidentally stumbled upon.

We were walking around San Antonio on an audio tour of the historic sites when we found ourselves on a Plaza crowded with people; I mean a huge crowd. It didn’t take long to realize we were standing in front of San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the U.S. it turns out. The day was Good Friday and we had just walked up to a reenactment of the Crucifixion.

A man who looked like Jesus was coming down the street dragging a cross on his shoulder, followed by guards who taunted him and beat him with whips. Eventually the man was made to lie down on the cross and he was nailed to it (Actually he held the spikes with his hands as they were driven into the cross and they became handles, but I don’t know how they did the nail in the feet thing – it looked like one was really in the placed in the center of his foot!). The cross was then stood up and placed in the ground, and the man hung there. He repeated Jesus’ last words but in Spanish so I couldn’t understand him, but I knew what was being said and I could tell from the tears on the faces of the people near me that actor’s delivery was passionate.

When the reenactment was over, everyone poured into the cathedral for a service. Jill and I stood in the back for a while to watch, and soon I saw a large bronze crucifix hanging on a wall above a bank of candles. People were taking turns lighting a candle and praying before the crucifix; many reached up to grasp the foot of Jesus while in prayer.

Not being Catholic and unable to speak Spanish, I didn’t understand much of what I witnessed, but being a Believer I knew what was being represented and celebrated, and it was a powerful thing to witness.

Easter Sunday Service at our own church was also powerful in its own way, but when my eyes rested on the wooden cross that had been brought to the stage for the service, I couldn’t help but visualize the man dragging the cross through the streets of San Antonio and eventually becoming nailed to it in the sun for all to see. I put a new perspective on Easter for me, one I’ll never forget about.

So the rest of my day is about catching up. I hope you have a great day in the service of the Lord who is risen!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Movers and Shakers


So Saturday was another day of work with the Movers and Shakers, the volunteer ministry that collects donated furniture and then delivers it to needy families. We had eight men working together for six hours; we made five deliveries and piked up donations at three stops. Here you see one of the trucks being loaded, the team in prayer before we drive off, a father and son working together to unload a delivery, and the mother and son who received the furniture on our first stop.

I had the pleasure of a sixteen year old boy's company, Roman, for a large part of the day. In our conversation I learned he and his dad, Mike, have been volunteers for this ministry for two years. Impressive, I think, that a dad would introduce his son to service at the age of 14, and that the son would be so moved by the experieince that he would stick with it for as long as he has. "I just like helping people," he told me. That was easy enough for me to understand, I like it too.

Yet at nearly 50, carrying sofas up a few flights of apartment stairs ain't as easy as it used to be, but working together we got the job done. I was tired when the day was over, but very happy to have labored for Jesus, and happy to have a few strong young men around to help us old guys.

Jill is on Spring Break this week and because she has been so sweet and understanding about me being away from home evenings and weekends for my service activities, I've promised not to work this week but instead to cater to her every wish. I'm sure you understand. Lord, I do love my wife!

Have a great week, pray for everyone you know, and be good to yourself too!


Friday, April 03, 2009

Passing onto Others

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

I was having breakfast with a gentleman who was complimenting me on my volunteerism, saying he envied people who are able to engage personally and easily with strangers. He explained he does not connect easily or comfortably with others. I happen to know this man is financially blessed and very generous with his money, giving large sums to many causes and very often making donations anonymously. I pointed out that God has given him the ability as an entrepreneur to make money, and the fact that he gives so much of it away is indeed using his gift to honor God. It doesn’t matter that he isn’t out in the sun roofing the old church; he saw that it needed a roof and sent the pastor a check.

When I got home I opened the workbook that I received when I went to the mentoring class last week and found a new verse that I thought was fitting for the conversation my friend and I just had, so I sent it to him. It was “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing onto others God’s many kinds of blessings.” 1 Corinthians 12:7. “You are doing just what you are supposed to be doing,” I reassured him, and I believe that with all my heart.

Just what are our gifts and how do we use then to help each other? Your gift may be time, a talent, the ability to make money, the ability to inspire people in conversation or with the written word, or to care for the sick and helpless. I hope that by telling stories about the ministries I come in contact with and the people who work for or support them will inspire someone to volunteer, and if they cannot, to give in some fashion, money or the donation of goods and services, to further a Christian cause. My gift is the ability to write, but I’ve also discovered I’ve been gifted with lots of unencumbered time, so I give that away too, as much as I can. It makes me happy, and brings me closer to God.

I’m reading Luke right now and many of the thoughts on my mind and words that eventually make it to paper are inspired by what I’m reading in that book. I’m one-third of the way into this year, about one-fourth of the way through the Bible, and easily seventy-five percent changed. I’m so happy with the new me.

Speaking of the mentoring workbook, I also pulled out four phrases that I’ve posted on the wall above my computer:

Pray rather than worry.
Forgive rather than ferment.
Love with the heart of Jesus.
Leave the results to God.

Good advice, I think.

Tomorrow I’m moving furniture for The Movers and Shakers and trying to take photos and interview the other seven volunteers as well, so that will be my story on Monday. I hope you come back to read about how good it feels to put your back into action for the good of the Kingdom!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Listen

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

I worked at Good Samaritan yesterday, the medical clinic serving the poor in our county. It opens at 8:30 and on the first day of the month it enrolls fifty new patients.

When I arrived at 8:15 the parking lot was full and there were already 109 people standing in line in the rain with still more arriving. I stood at the entrance to the parking lot turning away cars, explaining there were already more people in line than we could accommodate, yet many parked elsewhere and got in line anyway, hoping someone ahead of them would not qualify for services. A few listened to me and I watched their hearts sink as they backed out of the lot and drive off. One woman began to cry when I explained we weren’t holding new patient enrollment again until May 1st.

Later in the day I learned one man had arrived at 3AM to claim a choice spot at the front of the line, and he waited more than five hours shivering beneath an umbrella for his wife to arrive with their sick toddler. She finally came and took his place just as the doors were opened.

The small lobby was packed with people of all ages and ethnicities, each hoping and praying for one of the coveted slots available this month. When fifty people qualified and were enrolled, those who had remained in line groaned with disappointment and slowly turned around to go home. Person number 51 nearly fainted, her disappointment was so great, yet we could not accommodate her. There is only one physician at Good Samaritan, and he can take care of only so many people at a time; once you are enrolled, you receive care until you are well. He has had over 3,000 patient visits already this year.

If you don’t think there is need in your community, you aren’t really out there looking for it. God has called us to serve. What I saw yesterday at Good Samaritan is happening in a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or other ministry near you. How can anyone not hear God’s call to help those who are less fortunate than themsleves? By not listening, that’s how.