Street Preachers…

I was in Halifax last week for some meetings and one night, while I was walking back to my hotel I came across some street preachers.
“Jesus saves!”
“For God so loved the world…”
I have a special place in my heart for street preachers.  I think it takes great courage to get up and share God’s message, any message for that matter to a group of strangers that did not invite you to speak and have no initial interest in what you are saying.  I wish I had that kind of courage.  So please understand that I am not arguing with their message; the Gospel is the most beautiful gift ever given to humanity.  Whether it is 2000 years ago or today, the Gospel speaks a truth that has never, nor will ever be diminished.
I accepted their literature that night – nothing wrong with it, pretty standard.  I listened to their message – sounded good.  I watched… And there I noticed a problem.  They were sharing their message AT the people who were walking by without shifting their language to a medium that those folks could understand.
Today’s populace is very smart and they do understand what words like repent mean, but what they don’t understand is why there is a need to repent.  They understand the word sin (generally means bad stuff), but they don’t not understand, for the most part, what their sins actually are, nor do they necessarily see the deep consequences of those sins.
I love the enthusiasm those young men showed that night, what they were missing was Jesus’ very intentional desire to listen to the people He was speaking to.  There was a reason He sat with the tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals, sinners and generally untouchable people.  Yes, it was an act of mercy and love, but those principles are seen most in His listening to them so that He could better articulate the deep and unfailing love of God in a way that those souls could hear and understand.
As Church, again its wonderful to go out to the streets to share God’s word, but as Church we are called to be Christ-like, so we are called to listen, to understand the people we are ministering to, and to learn and to speak their language so that the power of God’s message to the world can spoken INTO the lives of neighbors and strangers alike.  Everything else is scattershot preaching – a few hits from thousands of words with few of those hits being terribly convicting or life changing.  And that’s true whether you are preaching salvation from a milk crate on Robie Street, standing in an immaculate pulpit and sharing the merits of St Augustine, or reading a ready-made downloaded sermon from the internet, it’s all hit or miss if you do not speak the language of the people you are with.
Know your people and if you don’t know your people, get to know them.  The Gospel can only be shared among friends.

Crossroads – July 2016

My dad used to work in a prison. “Jim”, a childhood friend of his, was an inmate. Jim had been in and out of jail most of his life – the very definition of the word “institutionalized”. He was a large man who lived by a specific code, hard-wired into his conscience over his years of incarceration. His record was long, and at this particular time, he was serving a life sentence for murder. Continue reading


They tore the old Esso down yesterday.

I remember moving here and meeting the owner. He is one of the first people I met outside of the church. Great guy. Great laugh and a wonderful sense of humor.

There has been a lot said about the garage coming down. Farewell, good riddance, it was an eyesore, it was a landmark. Lots of debate going in all sorts of direction; the sentimental versus the unsentimental. Continue reading

“Just Try It My Way…”

One of my all time favorite quotes, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different outcome.” The internet ways it was Einstein, but I honestly have no idea if that is true.

Everyone wants certain things in life – myself included.  Some of us get what we want and its seems so blessedly easy.  Forgive me Lord, but I hate those people!  Gold and love and everything they want seems to fall into their lap.  For most of us I suspect that isn’t the case.  We want what we want, we never get it and yet so often we refuse, either through fear or stubbornness, to try a new way to get it. Continue reading

The Warrior

The Warrior

I defend the weak

I defend freedom

I sacrifice so others may live free

I defend my family

I love peace, but I am a fierce enemy

I live by the word of God

I live with honor

I was born to be a warrior”

But I was never meant to be alone…

The warrior surveyed the village just like they did every morning. It was calm. The fog was lifting. The dew had settled. The day was about to begin.

He had been sent here by his lord, the Master, as a representative, an ambassador. The warrior was there to share the Master’s instructions, to watch over the Master’s people and their possessions. He was there to guard them, guide, them, protect them, and serve them all in the service of the Master. He would be his lord’s eyes, ears, and hands in this place for as long as the Master wanted him there.

The warrior’s eyes swept again over the village and the fields that surrounded it. The enemy was always lurking though it rarely ever appeared in person. The enemy’s ways were much more subtle these days; more whisper then sword, and found in fear rather then violence. Yet, the enemy was always out there and so the warrior watched vigilantly.

The village was small, only a few hundred citizens. The houses were close together in the middle, but far enough from their neighbor to have a few small farm animals and perhaps a vegetable garden. In the middle were the merchants with their market. On the outskirts were the farmers and their flocks. It was a wonderful place to be, the warrior decided silently. A smile grew across his face and they were thankful to have been chosen to be sent here.

The warrior settled into his place, opened the Master’s instructions, and began reading. The warriors place was small and in the middle of town. It was the same place that every warrior had occupied since the Master began sending warriors here. It was a place the villagers knew and could count on finding the Master’s servants.

“Ah warrior, there you are. I need your help,” A farmer said.

“I would be happy to help,” came the warrior’s reply. “How are you today?”

“I’m fine, thank you. But really, no time for small talk I am afraid. I have a problem with my oxen.”

“Oxen?” the warrior was confused. “Citizen, I don’t know how I can help you with oxen. My mission here is to protect you and the village, I…”

“Well, if you don’t help me the fields won’t get plowed and we won’t have barely in the fall. Helping me protects the village from hunger. Don’t you think your Lord would want you to protect the village from starvation?”

“Yes, certainly.”

“Then come, put that book down, and put those big muscles to work.” The farmer smiled happily

So the warrior went with the farmer and helped with his oxen problem.

“I’m sure your Lord would be proud of you.” the farmer said.

“You know, the Master is your Lord as well.” the warrior smiled, “I am here because the Master loves this place and everyone who lives here. That includes you.”

“Oh yes, yes. I know all that. I know that the Master loves me.” the farmer responded dismissively and there was a silence between them.

“I am having a community meeting tomorrow before sundown to talk about the Master’s plan for our village.”

“Thanks, but I am sure the Master can take care of things without me.”

The warrior nodded and the farmer returned to his work in the fields. The turned to walk back to the village.

On his way the Warrior encountered a woman. She was weeping and when she seen the warrior, she ran to him. “Oh thank the Master, I’ve found you. I have been looking for you everywhere.”

“I’m terribly sorry, I was helping Mr…” the woman cut the warrior off mid sentence.

“I need your help.”

“What can I do for you?” the warrior asked, “If it is the Master’s will, I will do whatever I can.”

“My children are hungry and I have nothing to give them.” Tears rolled out of her eyes and down her cheek, “I feel like I am a horrible mother. I have no milk, no bread, no meat, nothing.”

“And how would you ask the Master to help you?” the warrior asked sincerely.

The woman looked perplexed and annoyed. “I need food. I want you to get us some food before we wither away and die.”

The warrior smiled uncomfortably. “Forgive me. Of course. Our lord offers us many blessings and desires nothing less then to provide for us in hundreds of ways. I thought perhaps you were asking for something else?”

“What else would I ask for? My children cry from the pain in their bellies. I need food right now, not the Master.”

The warrior nodded and together they walked to the market. They purchased cheese, bread, a roasted chicken, and milk. The warrior nodded thankfully to the merchant and paid her with a gold coin. As she presented him with two smaller copper coins in return, the woman looked at him sheepishly.

“I hate to ask more of you, but perhaps you could spare a coin or two for my family – we will be hungry again in a day or two.”

The warrior smiled warmly and placed the coins in her hand. “I meant what I said earlier, the Master wants so much for you – even more then full bellies. If you are ever in trouble you can always call out to Him.”

“Sure, yes, I know.” The woman looked around anxiously. “I better get this back to my children.”

“Can I help you with that?” the warrior asked.

“Oh no, that’s okay. I can manage.” And with that she picked up the parcels of food and walked away towards her home.

The warrior sighed.

A few days later, while he sat in his place in the center of town listening for his Lord to speak to him, a man approached the warrior. The man was dressed in rough, dirty clothes. He was unshaven and looked as though he was exhausted.

Before the warrior could stand and greet the man, he began, “Warrior, I need help fixing my roof. I am only half way done with the repairs and it appears that the rain will start soon.”

The warrior scratched his chin. “I would really like to help, but I am afraid thatching roofs is not something I am trained for, nor is it something I am particularly good at.” He smiled pleasantly.

“So you’re not going to help me?” the man retorted.

“No, I might be able to help, but I think perhaps the best way I can help is to bring it to the Master. I suspect He has an idea, maybe even a plan in place already.”

The man became very agitated.

“There ain’t no Lord. Don’t be talking to me about what he wants, how he loves me, or how he will take care of me. I don’t want to hear it.” The man’s face grew red in his anger. “The only one you need to worry about in life is yourself. Forget about these imaginary lords and take care of number one.”

“Then why come to me for help?” asked the warrior.

“Because its what you are supposed to do. You’re supposed to help me. That’s why you’re here.”

“But only because the Master you don’t believe in sent me here and guides me.” The warrior thought for a second before continuing, “It seems strange that you would deny the One that compels me to help you because I believe in Him.”

“You can believe whatever you want. Now, are you going to help me or not?”

The warrior forced a smile to cross his lips, nodded and replied kindly,“Of course, brother. Let’s get that roof fixed.”

The warrior walked through the market one morning. When he turned a corner he encountered many of the villagers standing around and talking.

“Ah there he is,” the merchant said. “We were just talking about you.”

The warrior looked around hesitantly.

“Warrior, you are so important to our community,” the farmer said.

“You do so much for us,” the poor woman spoke up.

“You’re there when no one else is,” said the man with the damaged roof.

The warrior grinned. It felt good to know that he was needed. They truly appreciated him.

“Oh what would we do without you?” they said to the warrior. “This village wouldn’t be the same if you weren’t here.”

The warrior acknowledged the villagers’ kind words and their sentiment, but his smile faded as they patted him on the back. Inwardly the warrior’s heart was heavy. Despite this sincere expression of love flooding around him, the warrior felt absolutely alone. Loved without question, but absolutely alone in this life.

This was not something the warrior could keep doing on his own and he knew it – he would eventually succumb to a life of self-service and that was not the code he had chosen to live by.

Despair filled his heart. However it had happened, whatever he had done, he had failed his lord. He had protected, comforted, and assisted the people of the village. He had used the gifts that the Master had given him for the betterment of the community, but they did not see it, or they had refused to accept it.

Tears welled in his eyes and his jaw clenched. He would do anything for the villagers, but it was all for naught, just momentary solutions to immediate and temporal problems, if they did not recognize the Master as the source of the relief.

He smiled again at the villagers and turned to return to his place in the center of town, lost.

While he sat there, the warrior remembered what the Master had once said, that if the town you are sent will not receive you, you were to brush them off and walk away. His heart broke at the thought, but he suddenly resolved himself to the task, stood, and brushed the dust from his clothes. He threw his few belongings into a sack, gathered his weapons, and left his room.

On the way out of town, those who had gathered to thank him began walking along with him. “Where are you going?” they asked.

“It is time for me to go.” He replied, “The Master will send another if it is His will.”

The questions flew and quickly shifted to anger.

“But how can you go.” Someone asked.

“Let him go, we don’t need him or the Master he won’t shut up about.” Another roared.

The crowd, for the most part, dissipated as the warrior continued his walk out of the village, but a few stayed with him.

“Have we disappointed you?” A man asked.

The warrior stopped, “I served this village not because I am a good man. It was not about the tasks I performed, but rather to show you something deeper. And the people refused to see it or accept it. I serve you to serve the Master.”

“But the Master has changed my life,” the man replied. “When I came to you for help, that night when one of my… ah customers, had beaten and robbed me. You told me about the Master’s love that night. And the next day when we spoke, I was amazed that you would share Him with me. You showed me that I was valuable.”

The warrior touched his shoulder.

“And when you help my family – remember?” a woman asked. “You carried my daughter to the doctor in the next village.” The warrior looked towards her and vividly remembered the night. His arms had burned the entire time he carried the little girl those miles; he had been so terrified of stopping or shifting her weight for his own comfort. “You did what I couldn’t do. I was so grateful, I had to know more about your, I mean our Master, that I attended your next gathering. It was just you, me, and a few others.” The woman sheepishly bowed her head, “I know I don’t make it to every meeting, but I try. The Master gives me something I never had.”

The man spoke again, “You brought the Master to us. Have we done something wrong? Are we not enough for the Master?”

The warrior was stunned and shamed. He took a second to find the right words, but realized that they simply did not exist for this. What he was doing was making a difference. It did not look like what he expected, but it was undeniable – some were embracing what the Master was offering. He looked into their faces before closing his eyes and offering a prayer of thanks; he was on the right path. His jaw began to hurt as a wave of emotion struck him.

“Warrior!” a boy called as he ran up the narrow street. “My parents’ farm is being attacked by some bandits! Please come and help.”

The warrior spun, dropped his belongings, unsheathed his sword and charged down with the boy towards the farm. His face was grim and his mind focused, and then he noticed that running just behind him, one carrying a stick, the other a small ax, was the woman whose daughter he had carried and the man he had protected. He was not alone. He had not asked them to come and they did not look just like him, but as he ran into battle, tears fell from his eyes, and he felt joy.