Yep…..my thoughts exactly….
Posts tagged Teaching
Most that know me, know that I really don’t like cats. It’s only right that I go ahead and clear that up at the beginning of this post. I really, really don’t like cats.
It was pouring down rain a few days ago and I was on my way to run some errands, in no hurry mind you. When I came a across a tiny little kitten that was struggling and flopping as it tried to get across 4 lanes of traffic in the rain.
My heart said, “You need to get that cat and take it somewhere before it gets killed.”
My mind said, “You hate cats, let somebody else deal with it.”
I drove about another block and realized that I was NOT doing the right thing here. So I turned around and mashed on the gas to try and get back to this vulnerable kitten.
As I got back to it and was about to jump out and get it, I saw a car run over it. Needless to say, the kitten was killed instantly.
I wanted to throw up.
Why didn’t I just stop and do what was right the very second the opportunity was presented to me?
All of the emotions that I felt this past January when I should have checked back on a homeless neighbor and didn’t only to find that he froze to death a few days later, came rushing back over me. Yeah, you can read about that disastrous inaction on my part HERE.
The window we have to do what we know we need to is very small, and doesn’t last long. At all.
Hesitation and distraction can be the difference between life and death. For animals, and for humans.
I pray that one day I’m mature enough to do right for others, instinctively. Without hesitation. Without contemplation. Without blowing it, again.
I’m sure everybody has some ideal scenario in which they think they will exit this life. It never happens like we envision it, but it happens nonetheless.
A friend of mine said once, “I want to die empty, because I gave everything away.”
I loved that. But I wondered many times what that would actually look like. This week it became real to me when my very dear friend George died.
George died empty. George died with nothing. George leaves nothing behind, that we can touch anyway.
But what he did leave behind is a beautiful example of that statement.
I met George about 4-5 years ago when I took a position at the Union Rescue Mission. George basically served as the gatekeeper for the men’s homeless shelter. He was a staple. He had been there for MANY years. He began serving soon after he had come into the shelter himself, when it was on the north side of the river.
I grew fond of George very quickly as we would talk and he would share stories of his life and the previous years of the Mission. I really looked at him almost like he was grandpa. I guess in a way I kind of wished he was.
We had fun times and hard times. Head-butting and hugging. He was a stubborned old man so set in his ways that you just had to work around it sometimes. But he as faithful, and completely selfless.
He served the men in that shelter for well over a decade, I know. He did it for free. Seven days a week. 365 days a year. Whatever was needed, he was willing to take it on…or at least give it a serious shot!
All of this, without EVER expecting or even asking for anything in return. Nothing. He didn’t want anything. He just wanted to serve, and be a part of helping the dudes that came in that door.
We all knew that Wednesday would happen someday. We all knew that George would be there, working and serving, until his heart quit beating. That’s exactly what happened.
George died, and nobody even realized it. You won’t see him on the TV. Or in the paper. You won’t hear about it on the radio. For you, it will be like nothing even happened. Another nobody, who had nothing, goes on.
That’s just how George wanted to go. Quietly. Unnoticed. He just wanted to serve and take care of his friends until it was his time.
I can’t think of a more beautiful ending to a life. Going out with nothing, because you gave everything.
I’ve never known a more humble (and sometimes stubborned) old man than George, and I’m going to miss him every day. I pray that I will one day be mature enough to let go of everything, and give all I have until my “Wednesday” comes.
Much love, George. The impact you had on many men is immeasurable.
You know those kinds of people that you either love or hate? No in-between…
I often hear that I’m one of them.
When I was much younger this always bothered me. These days, I’m learning to embrace it.
You see, the only things that I’m really good at are driving and seeing. I don’t mind telling you that I’m the best driver in the history of the universe. Just ask my wife! ;) And I can see like a hawk. Even at night.
Fact is, I’m too fat to fit in a NASCAR….and nobody pays you to see things. That I know of.
So the next best thing is to find something I’m really passionate about, and run my mouth about it. If you know anything about me, you know that this is what I enjoy.
I advocate and run my big fat mouth about homelessness.
Advocacy takes that. Running the mouth. Shouting what others won’t. Screaming what others ignore. It means sometimes pissing people off. Making people cheer for you or want to punch you. It’s polarizing. It makes people love you….or hate you….
So if that’s already going on……capitalize!!
I advocate. I run my mouth. I don’t plan to stop.
The problem is that I’ll never really be great at it. I take it too seriously. I believe in the things that I advocate for….to the point that I get angry. Sometimes I get so mad that my hands shake or my eyes cry.
I’m too rough around the edges and passionate to be diplomatic or bureaucratic. And I won’t waste my time trying to be. That’s probably why Dr. Phil edited half of my time on his show!! I figure it’s for the same reason that Ellen still hasn’t called! ;)
With that, comes the fact that I’ll never be the next Ghandi. Or MLK. Or one of the “greats”. But I’ll never stop regardless.
I guess my point in this seemingly pointless rant, is that there is too much pain and too much ignorance coinciding in our world to tip-toe around the issues.
There isn’t enough time in the day to quietly and carelessly see the needs and hope they’re better tomorrow. And there isn’t enough time to quietly and passively sit and try to convince others that these horrific injustices exist.
The kicker, is that there isn’t enough evidence to convince me that Jesus wants us to shut up and stop fighting for others.
Everybody knows that all the crime in the world is caused by those without homes.
For instance, the 7 year old girl that was raped in the bathroom of a restaurant on Cantrell. The server who did that was clearly homeless.
And break-ins. Every single time somebody’s house is broken into, the goods are always found under bridges, in tents and even in shelters.
And kidnapping. What about all those kids that are kidnapped, only to be found days or weeks later in the basement of some homeless persons tent??
Yep, you can bet money that if a crime has been committed, it was done by one of those people who don’t have a home.
Every drunk driver? Homeless!
Every serial killer? Homeless!
Every bank robber? Homeless!
Every wife-beater? Homeless!
You see, last night I sat in a zoning committee meeting because one city director seems to think that having the OFFICES of a non-profit that serves our homeless neighbors in the same neighborhood as a school is a safety threat.
We’re not talking about a shelter, a mental health clinic, a detox unit, etc….
We’re talking about offices, and a small warehouse.
Is there any logic to this absurd mentality that homeless people are generally bad people who are preying on those who do have homes??
The same people who want to fight these services which are the work of Christ, had the audacity to brag about some local churches banding together to defeat services to the impoverished in our area.
Look around people! Christians!
How many “pastors” or “ministers” are in the news for child molestation and the like?
How many people without homes are in there for the same things?
How foolish to tout Christianity in fighting services to the homeless by generalizing all homeless as pedophiles, while there’s more of a problem with it in our Church leadership than there ever has been out on the streets.
Just yesterday a local “pastor” was sentenced to a year in prison for having sex with a 15 year old boy. Tally them all up. There’s more than you can count.
So, when you want to plant another church…..
You better not do it by a school!! Because all those pastors are going to be putting everybody’s kids at risk!!
And should one of those pastors become homeless? Oh shit!!
Wake up “Christianity”….
This crap is so far from the teachings of Christ.
What a sad, and embarrassing state of Christianity we have found ourselves in when our biggest battle is defending the work of the gospel against those who claim it so recklessly….
You probably thought this was another one of my soapbox speeches about the city of Little Rock’s actual desire for ending homelessness. It’s not. Maybe another day.
This one is about not listening to my wife actually. Most of the time I do. Most of the time I listen to her and take her advice and good things happen.
In the 15 or so years that I’ve known her, this is how it worked. She spoke, and either I listened and good things happened or I didn’t and bad things happened.
This week proved no different.
Tuesday night was the Point-in-Time Homeless Count that takes place every two years. Much like most nights we looked for people in camps, under bridges, and all through the alleys.
One person we found was sleeping, balled up in a blanket, behind Juanita’s. I parked the van and slowly approached the person, careful not to startle them. I announced myself as always with a couple of friendly hellos. They didn’t respond. Even as I got closer and a little louder.
I could see them breathing, and knew that they were either sound asleep or possibly afraid of who might be walking up on them.
It was about 55 degrees that night and the weather was clear and mild. The blanket that wrapped them was actually a really thick comforter, which would provide plenty of warmth in that particular night’s climate.
Since they seemed ok, I placed a bag full of food and hygiene products beside them and we moved along.
The next night was a planned date night for my wife and I, since she would be heading to Tampa for a few days the next morning. We went to dinner and just had a relaxing time to ourselves. She mentioned that she would like to go by and check on that person and give them a sleeping bag before we went home.
She actually mentioned it twice.
I wish I had listened. But instead I went home and crawled in bed.
Sunday morning that man was found in that same spot. Dead.
Police report no foul play. The weather has been abnormally warm the last several days, so freezing couldn’t have been a factor. Cause of death is unknown until the conclusion of the autopsy, hopefully today.
Regardless of the cause of death, I can’t help but beat the shit out of myself for not going back to check on him, like my wife had suggested.
Yesterday I revisited the spot where we found him, and where he would later die. I didn’t know whether to throw up, or scream at the top of my lungs.
How could I have been so negligent? This is what I do. Day in, day out. I find people, and address their needs.
I had found him, yet never addressed his needs whatever they may have been.
The night that we found him, I tweeted this:
Point in Time homeless count went ok. Praying I never lose this passion for finding that one overlooked person sleeping in an alley.
Today I pray that I have more passion for addressing their needs, once I find them.
I kept a piece of the police tape from the spot where he died. It will serve as my reminder that anybody can identify a person in need. But we are called to address those needs. The time in which we have to do that, is always limited.
This is great. In a few ways. It’s clever and funny. But it’s real. It’s real great. This is one of the reasons that I’m proud to call MPT my friend. I mean, we’re not bff’s or anything, but I did have coffee with him once. And I kick his ass at Words With Friends once every 32 games. Enjoy!
The following is an email that one of my friends sent me the other day. It wasn’t written to be read or discussed publicly, but once I finished it, I knew it had to be. I told him that I would publish it anonymously.
Church people often struggle to understand the “de-churched”. Even though the “de-churched” make up a significant part of today’s Church, they are often overlooked and have their entire faith questioned. You can’t deny it happens. But, is it right? Read what my friend has to say…..
wow, it’s every where and no one can or wants to see it, or is in complete denial, it works well with most humans in the community of faith, woe unto us who see the reality of homelessness, mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography; issues of morality at one time were real social issues of great importance to the church and people of faith, proving people do change with the times, even people who go to church, pretty much 100 percent of all the stuff Jesus did or said on the aforementioned subjects was so clear it’s blinding, although they do have some damn fine and impressive debt free facilities and do give gas cards in lieu of not giving contributions for needed actions that will help people. Pretty simple things that save peoples lives. What’s a life going for these days on the open market? Churches are in my less than sane opinion and worldly view personal experience a religious world created system of theistic beliefs, bureaucracies run by people locked inside a psychological mind set of a world that exist mostly within the four walls of the buildings, or humongous campuses built with cash as Earthly altars to God, of course God is money, so it makes sense. God by the way told me He could care less about your balance sheets or donations being down year to year, that’s an excuse. I respect some people want to stay tucked away from the scary world full of “those people” so they run to the suburbs and buy a ton of Glocks, then they give money to over seas missions and such, they do give money to St. Francis House, which is good though I don’t know how much or what it is for, I don’t know much these days except that people that run churches who identify with Christ have developed a bad vision problem. This may be a real chance to open up some of our local churches for the homeless, being you can count me soon to be there, all I know is to keep on fighting cause it is all black and white knowing God is own your side. Which can be Hell if he actually is not, my internet being on is a miracle. May God bless your work and continue blessing you Aaron. Always question authority. Unless it gets you fired from your paying job or you are independently wealthy. Go ahead anyway, the worse thing that can happen is always the ones that you think never will. Or is it just the other way around?
I’d love to know your thoughts…..if you dare!!! Leave a comment and let’s talk!
The woman with no shoes. I’ll call her Martha.
I’ve learned that there are innumerable photographers out there who say they do “homeless photography” and I completely agree with them. That’s exactly what they do. And this image of the barefoot woman will fall under that category if I don’t name her Martha.
People see an image of a faceless, destitute person in a gut wrenching position, and it churns up their insides for a second. As long as their eyes are on the image, their stomach twists and turns and they feel as though they may lose their lunch… Without a face, that person may be them.
But in the same instant, as they turn their eyes away to swallow the hard truth rising in their throat, they name the person… “Homeless”. This drives a wall between the person in the portrait and the viewer. When the viewer lives in a house and works a 9 to 5, that word “homeless” may as well be the wall of China. It’s a completely foreign word with no similarities to their own life. There is no basis of comparison. They feel pity, for this poor soul, but that is all. They may even pat themselves on the back for feeling sorry for our friend.
As the photographer, I failed when I didn’t wake her up. I don’t know why this woman is sleeping on the steps of the park with her sandals next to her and nothing more than a thin blanket as the sun sets and the temperature drops. I don’t have a story that will destroy the wall, one brick at a time. I wish I did.
I was sitting next to a kid named Matt, and I watched him shiver as the daylight disappeared and he gave detailed descriptions of watching his friend get shot in the face during a New Orleans gang fight last week. He ran away that night, and wound up in the middle of this skate park in St. Louis. I was riveted, but as I listened to Matt, my eyes kept finding a resting spot on Martha’s feet as she slept less than 10 feet away. Her feet havewalked many miles without shoes. The temperature will be just above freezing tonight. I had seen her face as I descended the steps to talk to Matt, and she looked to be in her late 50’s. My mind wondered to her past… who was this woman? Now I look at the image and I ask the same questions that you will if your eyes don’t turn away too quickly. Drugs would get me through this type of life if they didn’t get me there to begin with. Alcohol, crack, meth, heroine…. Anything that would numb the pain of some kind of trauma would also numb my feet to the sting of the rocks and the cold of the cement. How does she survive, and how does she make money? Is she a prostitute, or does she get the shit beat out of her by the men in her life? Maybe some version of both. Does she have an education, and does she know that there is a better life out there for her? Would she want a better life? Is she hopeful or is she on the brink of suicide? What does she pray for? Where is her family? How many people walked past her today without asking these questions?
Sitting so close to her, I told Matt that this was bothering me. He raised his eyebrows as if to say “don’t mess with her” and I stood up, placing a bag next to her that contained a few pairs of socks and some things that she might need. I suppressed my urge to wake her up and hug her, tell her that somebody loves her, and ask a million questions while I wash her feet. I am not naive, and I’m aware that even if I had woke her up, it wouldn’t have turned out the way I would hope. I can’t fix it. But this woman is not unlike me. She is not so different. I am not more loved than her.
My hope is that giving her a name will replace the title that the viewer wants to give her. Don’t let your eyes walk past this picture with pity. Call her Martha, don’t call her Homeless. The reality is that she is more than a stigma, and more than a stereotype. She is loved.
Shay is without question the craziest, most brave, and sacrificial friend I’ve ever had. She is wrapping up a 50 week voyage across the US in which she crosses a state line weekly. 50 states in 50 days. Project 50/50. Fifty weeks of traveling and giving away everything she can find to give.
Follow her on Twitter HERE.
Visit her website HERE.
And give anything you can to her cause, in any way you can find!!
It’s my belief that far too often, in recovery communities, we enfeeble the truth of Christ’s gospel.
Often, I hear people say that they do believe that God can do mind-blowing work in the life of a person…..even a person with an addiction. But the moment we move into talking about Christ eradicating a person of their addiction, He somehow becomes powerless. Just as they claim to be, over said addiction.
But look at this, from Romans 1:18,19:
“But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.”
This is probably the last thing that any of us want said about us. That we “suppress” the truth about God. How would you like to be the person known for that? No thanks.
Christ made it clear what His purpose, intentions, and desires were. He stated boldly that he came to set the captives free. What part of any of His words excludes people with addictions?!?! None of them!
To be honest, I think the better part of Christ’s gospel was directed at people who are bound and held back by addictions. Yet many Christians will even shout loudly that God’s will is actually for people to have those addictions!
To be even more honest, if that were true, I would have zero desire to follow Jesus to this God. If that were true, I really don’t think I would want anything to do with this God.
We must stop suppressing the truth of Christ’s gospel. Look just a few verses prior to that last one, and see what Romans 1:16,17 say about Christ’s Good News:
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
We cannot be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. This Good News is that nobody HAS to remain the same way they were when they first bumped into Christ. We either believe it, or we don’t. Let’s be honest, and not suppress the truth of the gospel. Christ did His thing, to change our lives.
I would say this is to everyone on earth, but not everyone on earth can read English. So…..since you can, it’s definitely written to you.
I’ve become a critical Christian @$$hole.
I don’t want to be that guy. Because that guy is poisonous. He is anything but a breeder of hope.
I’ve let two major situations in my life in the last year become excuses and motivators for harboring my unforgiveness and bitterness. I’ve blamed. I’ve shamed. I’ve even embarrassed myself with my poor attitude and insensitive behavior.
As he always does, Pete Wilson punched me straight in the heart yesterday via one of his latest podcasts.
Pete said something to the effect of, “It is unacceptable to blame anyone but yourself for your current spiritual health”……..that may not be exact but it’s close.
You know what? He was absolutely right.
Talk about a shot directly to the problem I’ve been facing. I’ve been trying to figure out why I couldn’t get over this “hump” in forgiving two men who I have been holding responsible for my poor spiritual health. I couldn’t seem to get over my anger and bitterness. I was continually blaming other people’s acts of “fraud” and malice for my anger with God as well.
Dear everyone – I’m sorry for being a critical jerk who continually pointed at the faults of others to make myself feel as though I wasn’t as far from God as I really was. Though I tried to fool myself, I know I never fooled you. Please forgive me.
Dear Lane, my amazing and beautiful wife- I’ll never understand how you have stood by me so many times and through so many things. Even when I recklessly put you in situations you never deserved to be in. I’m sorry that I have neglected our marital spiritual life and well-being. Few things could make me feel like a poorer husband. Thank you for loving me with grace and truth. Please forgive me for my lacking and sometimes non-existent spiritual leadership. I love you.
And God- Why does repentance have to be so hard? I guess so that we learn our lesson and try to avoid the same situations in the future, huh? I’ll never know how you continually pour grace on me. Even when I get so mad at you that I just might cuss you out. I know that you have brought me through “the valley”, and that you have better days ahead for me. Please humble me, that you might one day use me again to share your love and grace with the darkest places of earth. Please forgive me for continually screwing things up. It’s a good thing you’re God, because nobody else could handle your crazy job! ;) Please eradicate my life of the anger and resentment that I’ve stored away, in Jesus good name.
Ok, show’s over folks!!! What are you just sitting there looking at me for?? Go back to doing whatever it is you do!! :)
First of all, reviewing a Bible is a totally awkward thing to do. How can anyone in their right mind critique God’s Word? Exactly.
Also, I am not a father. I know nothing about being a father. The closest I have been to being a father, is that Lane and I have two dogs. So….
Robert Wolgemuth adds a lot of paternal insight throughout that is backed by Biblical principle. Nuggets. He adds paternal nuggets. No jokes!!
This Bible is in the New Century Version which, to be honest, I am not all that familiar with. It seems to be a very readable translation. I use the NLT, and this seems very comparable as far as readability is concerned.
It’s in a hardback, with a nicely designed exterior.
To me, this Bible seems like a nice novelty gift for Father’s Day. I don’t know that many people will buy it for themselves, but I expect many will receive it as a gift.
(This review was written in exchange for a copy of the reviewed book, through Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program)