1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. 2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. 3. Thou Shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. 4. Honor thy father and thy mother 5. Thou shalt not kill. 6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 7. Thou shalt not steal. 8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 9. Thou shalt not covet . . . anything that is thy nieghbors.
It seems fitting to take out the commandment about honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy since we have thrown it aside anyway. After all, we have made every excuse in the book to remove any need to honor it, even replacing it haphazardly without honor, certainly not holy, and filled it with worldly pleasure.
One, at this point, might label me a legalist. Ok, fair enough. Yet, if i am a legalist, then would i also be labeled a legalist if i said, “you shouldn’t kill someone?” Or that “you shouldn’t commit adultery?” Or any of the other commandments. The answer is obviously NO, so why is one labeled a legalist if they call for the observance of the Sabbath? Maybe someone can enlighten me. Of course, there are the scriptures that talk about how they gathered on the first day of the week, that being Sunday. However, it also says they gathered all the time; we don’t do that! It also says they took communion A LOT! Some are content to take it once a quarter, and still some not at all!
Part of loving God with our whole being as Jesus declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” is honoring Him. i am not saying that you cannot honor God on Sunday, or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday . . . what i am saying is that God clearly cuts out Saturday and says, this is the Sabbath, and you should honor it and keep it holy.” So the next question is, how do we honor it, how do we keep it holy?
The Pharisee’s obviously were missing the boat on this as Jesus clearly rebuked them for how they had turned it into something that it wasn’t. So what is it? “Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because, on it, God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” God took the seventh day, and He rested. We can rest on any day of the week, i get it, but there is something to this seventh-day rest if it weren’t so the devil wouldn’t care to distract us from it!
i have been taking Saturday and resting. i try to do as little as possible. i refrain from shopping because that requires someone to not be at rest so that i can shop. i don’t do this out of legality but in honor of both God and others as i wish for them to honor the Sabbath day. i am still figuring out what it means to keep the Sabbath, but i spend time with the Lord. i read Scripture, listen to sermons, pray continuously, and seek to honor God by honoring the Sabbath. i believe this is what God desires of all of us. i would love to hear your thoughts on the idea.
For those of us of the Way, we eagerly await the Return of the King. No, not the third movie in the Lord of the Rings series, but the actual return of our Lord and King Jesus. So much so that i think we often lose sight of what is to transpire prior to His return. We like to sugar coat things. We want to hope in rescue. We also like to overlook or explain away things like beasts, dragons, and death. Although some are allegorical, much of it is literal, and understanding that is vital as we enter what i believe to be very difficult times ahead.
i know i keep repeating myself there, but i want to share something that has been on my heart for some time. i think many Christians are ripe for being fooled by what’s ahead because many rely on the “news media,” and i use that term lightly, more than the Word of God, for their understanding of current events. That is a problem. A very big problem. They have gotten a good portion of the US wrapped up in the election process and are leading like the pied-piper many to false hope and security. Basing it on one man in an office, we call the president. This is a dangerous road for Christians. Here’s why.
As we get accustomed to seeking man for hope and security, it will make it easier to fall for the coming deception of a man seemingly so great that he appears to solve much of the world’s problems. It will seem right and amazing, fooling many, even if possible, the elect. Why? and How? Because rather than study the Word of God we listen to man, or in many instances, the media. It is time to wake up Church because the great deception is upon us and if we are not dilegent in our study and understanding of the Truth, we will fall for the lie.
“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV
i know what many of you will say, “this occurs after the rapture.” Well, i have a different view of the rapture as i do not believe it occurs until the end of the great tribulation. If i am wrong, and i don’t mind being wrong on this point, then great. However, if you are wrong and you are not prepared to endure till the end as often referenced in Scripture, you will be more susceptible to following a man. That is why i write this. For you see, the first “man” on the scene in Revelation isn’t Jesus, but the beast, and this is where the allegorical story comes in.
“It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” Revelation 13:6-9 ESV
The second one on the scene is the false prophet who deceives many into worshiping the first beast. See Revelation 13:11-18. Here we read about the mark of the beast and the idea of buying and selling being limited to only those who have the mark. Many are not prepared to endure or to suffer or to die . . . and i fear that the church has been lulled to sleep of what is before us. i do not believe it is either of our potential presidents; let me make that clear. However, it is the idea that we are being “programmed” in a way to accept the idea that in man, we have the answers we need.
Here is my main point, be diligent, keep your eyes on Jesus, keep your oil lamp full! As we continue into uncertain waters, do not grow weary, do not lose faith, do not put your hope in man, but do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
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Do you have a dog? i do, and he is the best dog in the world. His name is Shiloh, he is a Mini-Aussie, and if my neighbor could get away with it, he most certainly would dognap my boy. He goes on every trip i take now, the countless trips to Colorado, and now most recently, my trips to Vegas to see my boys. He is an amazing traveler. He understands the concept of a pit-stop, jumping out of the car, doing his business quickly and jumping right back into the car without hesitation. He loves sitting out on our deck and just enjoying the fresh air as well as long walks. He enjoys his belly being rubbed, his chin being scratched as well as just below the ears. Once you start he won’t let you stop either.
When we are on a walk, i have him tethered on a leash. He doesn’t often pull but will take as much slack as i give him. When we reach the light, if it’s green, we walk right through, of course. However, if it’s red, we will stop, i will stop, and he will walk until either his slack is used up, and he is caught back, looking at me like, “let’s go!” or i say, “woah” or “stop” or “wait” or “sit.” He then will look up at me as he sits and wags his little nub of a tail, which is more hair than a nub actually. When we get back to the house, as we walk up the stairs, i will take the leash off, and he will head to the door. He stops, looks back, and waits for me. He will look at me and then the door as if to say, “Ok, open the door now.” He can be a tad impatient. Ok, maybe more than a tad. He doesn’t like waiting, doesn’t understand the why, especially at the light.
Jonny Lang is known for singing the blues, but he also sings gospel and rock, a songwriter and guitarist. He is very talented and one of my favorite musicians. i have seen him live, and he doesn’t disappoint. Two of my favorite songs, That Great Day, and Red Light, can be heard on my playlist and often i will hit repeat because i get lost in the lyric. The idea behind Red Light is the way life can change, decisions made, good ones and bad ones. It’s the pause.
God often uses red lights in our life; of course, He also uses yellow and green. Like Shiloh, if we aren’t tethered to Him, we will walk right into oncoming traffic. If we are tethered to Him when He stops at the light, and our slack runs out, that jolt can cause you to look back as to say, “let’s go!” Not realizing the danger that is just ahead. His word to us, “woah” or slow down, take it easy, we’ll get there. Or perhaps, “stop” that is not the direction i want for you. The hardest sometimes is “wait” because we want to know why and we rarely get the answer. “Sit” is also hard as we don’t often want to sit; we want to go and go fast. Yet, the reality is that each of these prompts is for our benefit. His desire for us is pure and Holy. We need to be willing to listen.
Some of you will say, “who wants to be tethered? The answer is nobody does. Yet, there is one who’s an example to us, both free and tethered.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.” John 5:19-20
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” John 8:28-29
i often wonder what Shiloh is thinking when he sits at the light, usually very patiently, even still eagerly awaiting the words, “let’s go.” i want to be like him, i desired to be tethered to the Lord, walking with Him so closely that i not only sense His presence i hear His voice and His gentle reminders, warnings, and commands. Woah, stop, wait, and sit. my favorite prompt now is sit, “sit in My presence, sit with Me, let’s hangout together, tell me about your day, how are you feeling?” Yes, i like to sit in His presence. Today may you find yourself tethered to Jesus, and may you obey His Word.
“The End is Near! Repent and Believe in the Name of Jesus!” i can see the apocalyptic signs now. You know the ones in all the movies about calamity and destruction. Of course, they are always portrayed as the morons, even if there is significant destruction. There was a street preacher the other day on a major intersection in Billings. He was standing on a ladder, he had a microphone, and his message was, “repent!” It got me to thinking and that is always a dangerous thing.
Way back in January, i had been watching the “YouTube” fringe news, and as i did, i became aware of the impending pandemic, even as many in the mainstream either didn’t report it or said there is nothing to see here. i began to stock up on things just in case. Not in an alarming way and not all at once, just a little here and a little there is all. i told those close to me, “hey, it might be nothing, but better safe than sorry.” i also mentioned some other things, and those things, although without fanfare, did come about as well.
i am not Nostradamus, i don’t pretend to know the future; however, i think 2021 is about to tell 2020, “Hold my Beer!”
i have a gut feeling i am not the only one who thinks this way. i also have a feeling that as others become more vocal, we will be portrayed, like the movies, as morons, kooks, and extremists. They will say things like, “how many times has the world almost ended since 2000? Remember Y2K? And who could argue? We have been desensitized and, in a sense, programmed to react this way. But even this is prophetic.
“knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.“” 2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV
i am simply writing this to say, stay alert, stay vigilant, stay in the word . . . And it wouldn’t hurt to maybe stock up on things like water, non-perishable foods, vitamins, and some paper products. Be smart. Have a plan. If 2020 is any indication, 2021 is going to be a wild ride, and i have a feeling we aren’t long for the Trumpet blast.
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-52
“Well, what else would you call a second chance?” she asks. “You don’t like the man you were. Very well. Be somebody else. There’s nothing stopping you, not anymore. As I said, I envy you. The rest of us are stuck with our mistakes.”
Have you ever woken up and thought how amazing it would be to be . . . someone else? Not another person, like your neighbor or a celebrity, but a new you? Your past wiped clean, and your future unwritten or uninfluenced by your history. A brand new start. i know that many do, it is written about, movies are made about it, and friends share thoughts, “if I had it to do it all again . . . I would . . .” fill in the blank.
i watched a Hallmark movie (don’t judge me) that had this lady get into a car accident and she had amnesia. She is taken in by strangers and takes a new name. For a short time, she gets to be someone completely new. Of course, she falls in love, remembers who she is, tries to return to her old life, realizes she doesn’t like that person, and returns to her new love, insert happy ending.
i am currently reading a book. It has started with a man who has amnesia. The more he finds out about the person he was, the more he wants to be someone else. That is where this line from the book comes in. It is a brilliant line! The book is “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,” the author is Stuart Turton. i am only to chapter 8 but plan on spending the rest of the day reading it. Anyway, that is where i got the line above. Again it is brilliant, and it sums up humanity’s view on new beginnings so very well. i even underlined it and made a footnote.
You wanna know something incredible? A new beginning IS possible, without having to suffer amnesia. Paul writes: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Paul also writes to the Philippians: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: FORGETTING what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on . . .” (3:12-14)
It is a fresh start. No longer bound by your past in the eyes of God. You have essentially been given a “do-over” just like when we were little and playing a game . . . it was always a gracious move to give your opponent a “do-over.” God, through Jesus the Son, has given humanity the opportunity for a “do-over,” one only needs to receive it. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are NEW every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Jesus teaches us about forgiveness in this way: “Then Peter came up and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22
Every day, actually, every moment, every decision, you have an opportunity to “be somebody else.” You don’t like who you are? Then “be somebody else.” Make a mistake? Confess, repent, forget, move forward, be somebody else, be the person God created you to be. Be an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be somebody else.
Life is full of new beginnings. Some we chose; Some are thrust upon us by different circumstances. Either way, seize the moment. Fear not for God is with you and be somebody else. The only person holding you back . . . is you. Today, i choose to be the person my dog thinks i am.
i was recently eating at a restaurant where they served chips and salsa. i love good chips and salsa, but who doesn’t, right? Anyway, as i anticipated the chips and salsa arriving at my table, i was hoping they would be warm. Why? Because that would indicate that they had been in the warmer and, therefore, would be crispy. Interestingly, last night i was out at a restaurant that served bread before the meal, again i found myself hoping that the bread would arrive warm. Why? Because that would indicate that they had ensured that freshness by warming it.
Have you ever had a slightly stale chip or piece of bread? A stale chip can be a little soft, whereas a stale piece of bread can be a bit firm or hard—the remedy for both heat. If you put the chip in the oven for a bit, it will crispen up . . . whereas the bread, if done correctly, will soften. Both will taste fresh again. A warm chip dipped in salsa is as heavenly as a warm piece of bread that melts the butter as you spread it on.
The Christian life can be much the same thing. Believe it or not. We can find ourselves stale, in a place where we are too soft, or we have grown to firm or hard. Both positions are not good or healthy. And just like chips and bread, the solution to our problem is heat. How many worship songs do you know that talk about “Fire?” Are you feeling a bit flimsy in your walk with Jesus? Turn up the heat! Do you feel your heart hardening, especially seeing what is going on in this world? Turn up the heat!
We are called to stand firm in our faith and be at the ready with compassion. We are called to be prepared in season and out of season. It is easy to lose that freshness of when we first came to know Jesus; it’s also easy to lose that refreshing feeling you get from a camp or retreat or even a good sermon. Especially now, with all these restrictions and long periods of isolation. One could very easily find themselves growing stale in their faith or walk with the Lord.
In fact, with the way the world is going, this verse seems rather fitting: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Peter gives a remedy: “Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time of restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.” Acts 3:19-21
If you find yourself in a stale relationship with Jesus. If you find yourself growing weak or arrogant, you might want to repent and allow the Spirit of the Lord to refresh you. And keep yourself in the warmer.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence, there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:8-11
This is not the time to allow ourselves to grow cold or stale. We need to remain HOT and FRESH for the battle that is before us. People who are looking for answers are not looking for stale Christianity. They want something real, authentic, refreshing, and pure. The Lord is coming again . . . Whether that is in our generation or one to come, the time is short . . . when He does, i pray He finds us faithfully about the Kingdom’s work.
Take joy in the simple things. i recently had to go to the County Treasurers Office for some vehicle registration stuff. Some of you go to a DMV, others to MVD, here in Montana, we go to the County Treasurer for such things as vehicle registrations and Title work. Especially if you want to expedite the process. When i arrived, i had to take a number, wait outside until my number came up on the screen, then go inside and stand in a line. There i waited for my number again. Once inside i went to the counter.
Now the process goes like this when the office receives your title work and processes it; they then send you a postcard. When you receive a postcard, it gives you instructions on how to make an appointment and avoid the number line described above. i had not received a postcard; my temporary registration was due to expire, and with my current form of employment, that was a huge problem. So as i began to explain this to the clerk, she just kept on stating that due to the current state of life with Covid, they were easily 90 days behind schedule and that all temporary registrations were automatically extended and no paper would be needed.
Great, but when you are dealing with an automated and digital platform, this doesn’t cut it. As i tried to explain my situation and my present flux in life and my travels to and from various places, she sought the assistance of another clerk. After a few minutes, it was determined that they were unable to help me out. i needed to go to another place, talk to another person, and find out on their end what was going on first. So i did.
i was given a date, i waited two days beyond that and went back to the Treasurers’ office. To make a reservation would have landed me well beyond the expiration date of my registration, so i once again went anticipating a long wait. i simply prayed as i headed downtown, “Lord, please make a way for this to be done today. Help me to explain clearly and give the person on the other side of the counter compassion.”
i arrived and didn’t have to wait outside, i was second in line inside and waited only a few minutes. Once inside i went to the clerk, and since i knew the process and i was attempting to expedite it, i went into my story. She looked . . . flummoxed. She went through the common answers as her mind was programmed to do, postcard, wait, appointment, 90 days, etc. etc . . . “Jesus, please,” i thought.
Ma’am, i understand the process; here is my concern, and i am not sure how to fix this without your help. She changed, her face changed, her posture changed . . . she looked at me and could see, i am sure, the desperation. “When did the other office send your paperwork?” “At the latest, Friday, according to their title department.” She got up and went into a side room where you could visibly see stacks of paperwork, like a Sunday morning comic strip, or a scene from a movie where the person is overloaded with piles of paperwork. i thought as i stood there, “no wonder nobody wants to go in there!” She came back out a few minutes later, “All i can say is, it was meant to be.” my paperwork was right ON TOP!
She completed my paperwork, printed out my registration, handed me plates, and smiled and said, “It was meant to be.” i was so blessed at that moment. With a choked up smile and watery eyes, i said, “thank you! i really appreciate this. You have no idea what a burden of worry has been lifted.” Her response, “it was meant to be.” As i turned to walk out, i said, “may the Lord bless you abundantly.” i had no postcard, no paperwork, no answers, but i had Jesus. Some might chalk this up to chance. Sure. But if you would have seen the change in her spirit as i prayed, “Jesus, please.”
i think of the persistent widow and what Jesus teaches through the parable in Luke 18:1-8. Here is just the end of His thought.
“And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.” Luke 18:6-8
And in the sermon on the mount, Jesus talks about not worrying here in Matthew 6:25-34, but again here is just the ending of His thought.
“But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
Each day i am learning anew what it means not to worry and to take joy in the simple things of life. So to you, i say, take joy in the simple things.
As the world around us crumbles, and as my life seemingly crumbled around me, i can only say, “i am beyond blessed.” How can one make such a statement, how can i make such a statement? Easily! But first, you need to know the road i choose to travel. my road is much like yours in many ways, yet completely different, and that is the mystery of life. Everyone is the same, and yet completely different. To think otherwise is to be a fool. Furthermore, everyone is on a journey, influenced by others, affected by decisions, changed by events.
How one traverses these life influences and how these things imprint one’s life is one hundred percent the choice of the individual. It is called taking responsibility, being self-aware, and stopping to breathe and to use a skill often left in the annals of history, critical-thinking. You may not be able to stop what happens to you, but you can definitely determine how you respond to it.
Romans 15:13 —May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 12:12 —Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Philippians 4:4 —Rejoice in the Lord alwyas; again I will say, Rejoice.
Galatians 5:22-23 —But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . .
Life might suck. Lord knows my 2020 has! i have shared before, besides all that is going on with the world, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and died four months later. Through a series of events, i find myself yet again divorced. It has forced me to step away from full-time vocational ministry after 20 plus years! This is the first summer that i have not had any of my son’s with me. With all the travel back and forth to visit my mom and be with family for the last four months, my finances are shaky at best. i have been eating out more. Taco Bell, mainly, as i am on a very tight budget, and i can get a meal for $3.50, which is actually far less than if i went to the store. Because when i cook like i did this morning, i make food for a family, and it reminds me of the fact i am alone. So how is it that i can say that i am beyond blessed?! Because of the road, i choose to travel, and on this road, i am never truly alone.
If not for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within me, i would not. It is the hope that i carry within me that allows me to have joy unspeakable. i can’t even fully explain it. All i know is that i have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and an opportunity each moment to choose Jesus, to choose joy, to stand and say, “i am beyond blessed.” And it is true, no matter my circumstances, i am beyond blessed. You can be too! If you choose.
What is the Church, or where is the Church? Both of those are loaded questions. Of course, they both have simple answers. We are the Church, those of the Way, born new through Christ. Its location is the gathering of those of the Way. These are the prominent answers of the western church, and although they are correct, they are also far from right.
i could spend hours writing out the answers, but the problem with the western church is our answers. They are too theological and represent vast knowledge but lack simple wisdom, in the sense that the people who need to know don’t want that theological answer. They want simple, not for lack of intelligence but because they lack interest, and they aren’t coming to the Church to find out. What they see, doesn’t match what they are told, so what hope is there in that? Why would they want to be apart of something steeped in hypocrisy?
When i moved into my little apartment, my new neighbor and i struck up a friendship. We will sit out on our shared deck and talk about life. One day he shared his passion for pool. He once upon a time was a ranked semi-pro pool player and participated in a U.S. Amateur Open Pool Tournament; he owns a million pool cues!
One Sunday i was headed to Church and then to drive. It would be my first Sunday in town in some time as i have spent many weekends on the road between here and Colorado with my family during my mom’s final performance this side of heaven. i was going to try a local Church out but as i was returning from a morning walk with my ride or die, Shiloh, he is a six-year-old mini-Aussie, and perhaps the coolest dog on the planet. Anyway, as i was entering my apartment, my neighbor was exiting his. “Hey, I am going to Bugz’s to shoot some pool, do you want to go?” Now for those who don’t know, Bugz’s is a bar/casino.
At first, i started to make an excuse for why i couldn’t go. After all, it was Sunday; one doesn’t go to a bar on a Sunday and definitely not to shoot pool! But something grabbed my tongue, and i ended up saying, “Yes, i will meet you there in a few.” And so i did. He shot pool while i pushed balls around with a stick. He showed me some ways to hit and plan and see the table as a whole, each shot, although, individual, is part of a greater plan. Even if you mess up, there are ways to redeem your previous shot. Don’t waste opportunities and sometimes the easiest shot is not the one you take, defense can be a good strategy, don’t slam your stick on the table, sorry, pool cue.
We talked about a lot of things around that pool table. Life, current events, Jesus, each moment was blessed. It reminded me of something; This is the church. It is living in community. It isn’t a place or a building or a set time. It is lived in the heart of the believer and pours out in moments of time, every encounter, every conversation, each relationship. Jesus in me, Jesus through me, because Jesus is for me.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but have itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill you ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
i am not discouraging the assembling together of the saints. i am a firm believer in that! The Church should gather in groups to share life and worship. But as i have written previously, the Church cannot just be a building; it is not a set time; it is every moment, every encounter, every decision. Choose to be the Church today, love the unlovable, show mercy and grace, walk humbly.
The title is not just clickbait, i did actually spend the evening with a “professional” prostitute; actually, i am not sure how she would title her profession, but you get the idea. i guess i should explain how we met before you all jump to conclusions, as is human nature. i picked her up in my car off the street, well it was a parking lot, her and her little dog, a Yorkie, super cute and i think she liked me, still talking about the Yorkie. Just to make it easier to read, let’s give my new friend a name, let’s call her Elaine. If anyone has ever watched Seinfeld, you might get that reference. Elaine jumped right into the car . . .
Elaine: “hey, baby, how’s your day?”
me: “i am good, staying busy! How’s your day going?”
Elaine: “****! They were supposed to have my order ready to pick up, but it’s not ready. It will be later today, they say. I don’t have anywhere to go, and I can’t just wait here so I am going back to my hotel.”
me: “Well, that’s a bummer. Although, you are at the second-best hotel in town.”
Elaine: “Best! Hotel in town, have you layed in there beds?”
me: “Can’t say that i have. i am guessing you like their beds?!”
Elaine: “Yes, I have a great bed at home, but I think theirs just might be more comfortable than mine!”
We continued to talk about life, as i do with everyone i pick up, and i pick up a lot of people. Elaine was my first . . . how do i say this without sounding disparaging? Um, an escort or just prostitute? At this point, i was yet unaware of her profession, however. In fact, we reached her hotel, i was preparing to drop her off when she propositioned me.
Elaine: “I don’t know if you can do this but would you be willing to pick up my special order when it’s ready and bring it to me?”
me: “Well, i suppose, but i can’t promise that i will be available to do it, i might be busy.”
Elaine: “Oh, it’s ok, baby, there’s no rush. You would just be saving me round trip fare. Besides, I would much rather pay you.”
me: “Ok, that’s fine, i would be glad to do it.”
Elaine: “Give me your number, sweety, so I can text you when it’s ready.”
At this point, we exchanged numbers, and i waited for her to text me that it was ready to pick up. The rest of the day passed, i drove till 1:30 am. No text.
The next day . . . or as it was 1:30 am when i stopped, later that day, i did receive a text. Her item was ready, she had contacted the store and changed the name to mine, and i went and picked it up. i met her where i had dropped her off the day before. She handed me some money for my trouble, a sweet smile, and a “thank you.” i responded with the typical response of, “you’re welcome,” and i drove away. i was still oblivious to what she did for a living. She was to me just a sweet lady, who needed help with picking up an order, and i am a helpful guy.
Fast forward to 8:07 pm the same day as the item drop off.
Text Message from Elaine:
Elaine: “Hey CJ, I have two questions for you… First of all, are you free tonight? Ps – thank you again for picking up my order the other day btw.”
me: “i can be whats up And you are welcome”
Elaine: “Thanks.. I could use someone to drive me but to Gillette… Yes, I know. But I’ll pay cash upfront (when you pick me up..)
me: “Wyoming? 😳 i could do it tomorrow but the turn around tonight i just don’t think i could do it.”
Elaine: “Okay. I have a ride tomorrow but I also have someone who wants to see me tonight which would be lucrative and worth it for me to find a ride.”
(This was my first clue, but i shook it off, telling myself, “don’t project that onto anyone.”)
me: “How much are you thinking?”
Elaine: “200? You tell me.. Plus gas..”
me: “i am in the middle of a delivery and i will need to go home and let my dog out When did you wanna leave?”
Elaine: “Ok… Let me confirm with my client. Hang on..”
i thought to myself, “maybe she is a masseuse or something, late-night clients, though?” i wasn’t so much confused as i was just hoping that it wasn’t what i was thinking. At this point i prayed, “Lord, i don’t know what is going on here but if you want to use me in this situation, first, help me not to miss what you are doing. Second, help me not to screw up what you are doing. Lastly, help me to be faithful to You, in Jesus name . . . amen.”
Elaine: “Okay, so they flaked. I hate when that happens. Sorry to bug ya.”
me: “No worries”
Elaine: “Thanks for being kosher…. “Ya .. I thought I had something going on here. But it turns out I don’t. So it got a little happy when I’m had a prospect even though they were in Gillette!”
me: Always kosher and happy to help out . . . The world needs more nice people
Elaine: “Amen! “I find that people really suck more times than not “I don’t understand what’s so hard about doing what you say? Why say it to begin with! #facepalm
“well I don’t know what you have going on or what your home life is like butt if you would like to grab a drink at some point this evening I -evidently- am free and would like to.
At this point, i paused, “Lord, this is a terrible idea! And yet i believe you put me here, in this situation, on purpose. So, give me grace, give me wisdom, give me strength. In Jesus Name . . . amen.” i then agreed to meet her, and i did. We went to one of the billion casinos that Billings has, and she won $160—some luck. We eventually talked about her profession. i asked if i could ask her questions. She agreed. We talked about why? She was very candid with her response. It boiled down to money. i attempted to express that life was more than money and “things” (possessions). As we walked her dog, i invited her to my blog . . . she would later text me for the information again, and i sent her a link. i have no idea what she is thinking. There is a good chance she is reading this right now! And if (YOU are), i hope that i did not offend you, “Elaine,” and i meant every word i said to you. You are loved!
In sharing the following verse, i am in no way elevating myself to Jesus. However, Jesus, through us, should encourage us to do and be and go and serve and love . . .
36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the onewhom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (New King James Version).