Betrayal, what the enemy thought for evil, the Lord uses for good . . .

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray Him. (Mark 14:10-11)

Imagine hand selecting your inner circle of closest friends. Walking with them for three and a half years and then having one of those friends betray you. Some of you don’t have to imagine because you have lived through it . . . maybe not the death part, but for some of you, it could have felt as threatening. i know that i have had some close to me betray me, and it hurts.

We are in a time in history where many are looking at what is going on in our country and crying, “betrayal!” It could very well be true. Many are disheartened because they prayed and have not seen God move. They have been told of specific outcomes, and those outcomes have not come to pass, and time is growing increasingly short.

Jesus took his closest friends into a garden to pray. The burden so heavy drops of blood fell from His face like sweat. Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me.” His desire was not for what was ahead of Him. Could you blame Him? He was to suffer a tremendously torturous death. If i knew that was the way i was to die, i would be pleading with God also. Yet, Jesus finished His prayer, “not My will, but Your will be done.”

Sometimes we don’t see the whole picture. Sometimes when we pray, we don’t fully understand all that is going on. This is why we are called to be patient. This is why i have such an issue with name it and claim it preaching. God promises this, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14), But they so easily forget the “not My will, but Your will be done.” part of prayer. In 1 John 5:14-15, it says this: “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” These are true sayings; however, there is also this idea of prayer “HIS WILL.”

For Jesus, it was death on a cross. He was tortured in the most horrific way. Yet, as Jesus prayed in the garden, He understood that although the road was difficult, God’s will was being accomplished, and through it, you and i, and countless others have been able to have the hope of eternal life in glory with Jesus.

Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) Could it be that although we desire one outcome because we see it as being best, we have blinded ourselves to the idea of “Your will be done.” Because of the weight that it brings, the difficulty we know comes with it?

We know that in the end, perilous times will come. They will be difficult, and many will be betrayed by family and friends. We will be brought into the synagogues, and we will be hated for His name’s sake, even beheaded. These are unpleasant thoughts, and i imagine anything would be better but as we pray for the future of our country, and the world, let us not forget the part, “not my will but Yours be done” because as awful as our potential future, nothing compares to the glory that awaits us in Heaven! Just because God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to doesn’t mean He isn’t listening!

So, keep the faith. Seek not your will, but “His Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Do not fear, for He says, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” (Matthew 10:19) i believe we are headed into a very difficult season. Do not lose hope, do not lose faith, do not lose sight of our mission, “To make Christ-like disciples.” And always remember, “Not My will, but Yours be done!”

You are loved,

cj

“. . . and some as Prophets . . .”

i wanted to take some time and discuss my view on the gifting of or calling of the prophet. The role they play within the Church is enormous, they are appointed and anointed by God, and therefore one isn’t to touch them or condemn them lightly or haphazardly. However, it is essential to know how to discern a real prophet from a false one. We, of course, listen to the true prophet, and we walk away from the false.

Ephesians 4:11-12 gives us the roles within the body of Christ and their purpose. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” It is important to note the why because it emphasizes the importance of not misrepresenting God or speaking presumptuously of one’s own accord or understanding. That goes for any role within the church but has a special place in the life of a prophet.

The Word warns of false prophets and false teachers arising in the last days in abundance and that we are to be vigilant and test everything. Remembering that the Word does say that, “But God chose the foolish things of the world that He might shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world that He might shame the strong;” 1 Corinthians 1:27
This verse definitely should give us pause when judging the appearance of or even the word of a prophet, it may sound foolish, it may seem weak, but God works through it anyway for His glory.

So as hearers of the prophetic Word, we are to be sober minded, eager to listen, but quick to verify, does it line up with God’s Word? Does it advance the Kingdom? Does it bring glory to God? These are real questions and must be asked of the prophecy. However, the primary test is this did the prophecy come to pass? Deuteronomy 18:22 says this, “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” There are many so-called prophets with specific prophecy problems in that they did not come to pass. Yet, many still listen to them.

There are many with prophecy’s that are still within the realm of possibility, and rather than denounce them outright, i have taken a wait and see attitude. This is because many who have been proven, by biblical test, to have shown themselves to be false prophets, and many of the self-proclaimed prophets align themselves together. Which in and of itself should call into question their prophetic utterances. However, because i am one who understands the anointing and the call of God, i have not entirely dismissed them. With that said, i do pray they didn’t speak presumptuously but did hear from God. Not for any other reason than to advance the Kingdom of God.

Here is my point; we need to hear with an open heart and mind the word of a prophet of God. However, we are to test everything, and if the prophet has spoken out of error, they are not to be heard. We can be forgiving, but we must not give them a blank check to continue to misrepresent God, for that does not advance the Kingdom and the advancement of the Kingdom is the whole reason for the prophet.

You are loved,
cj

All Creation Longs for Redemption

i have written recently, twice actually, on what i see as troubled waters ahead. As i was doing my reading today in God’s Word, i was reminded of how creation longs for redemption as those in Christ. There is an uptick in global earthquakes, just yesterday a 7.0 quake hit off the coast of Turkey, leaving hundreds dead, buildings in ruin, and lives devastated. Volcanic activity is also increasing with magma on the move under the surface. Not to mention the sporadic wild weather being experienced, along with devastating fires.

After creation, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” He created everything to work in concert. Like a synergetic masterpiece, everything working together for good and creating humans to be the caretakers. When man sinned, falling from God’s perfect plan, creation suffered along with us. The plan of redemption that God mapped out isn’t just for us humans, but the whole of creation and creation is longing for it!

Here is the part in Romans that got me thinking about this:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8)

As we get closer to the Lord’s return, creation will become more volatile and unpredictable. Even humanity as the war around us in the Heavenly’s begins to manifest itself among us. Like a woman in labor about to give birth so will the pains be for all of creation. However, for us with Christ our hope isn’t in what we see around us but in what we know is coming. This is not a time to cower but to pray and live as saints, the sons and daughters of the Most High! So fear not and look up for our redemption draws near.

“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28

You are loved,

cj

Cold Brew

Moments in which you are given the opportunity to self evaluate need to be taken like you are making cold brew. Coffee that is cold brewed is steeped for 24 hours. Whereas a coffee pot or perk, even a pour-over are relatively instant . . . of course there is instant, but is that even coffee? In brewing cold brew coffee, you use a filter of some sort, like a teabag, and let the coffee grounds sit in the coffee. That’s it. There is no real secret: filter, coffee, cold water, and 24 hours.

In your moment of self-evaluation, you will need just a few things. A good filter, i would suggest you use the Word; everything in your life should be filtered through Jesus and God’s Word. You will need coffee, the substance, the experience, the action, the situation that is being evaluated. You will need cold water, clear your mind of distraction. Finally, you will need time; you should never rush but consider everything in order to get an accurate evaluation.

The Word will keep you honest. Life is life, and there is nothing new under the sun. God already knows, so lay out your life bare as you evaluate it. You will be distracted, you will be challenged, and you will want to walk away if you are really taking the evaluation of your life seriously. Therefore it will take time, time to clear your mind, time to remove distractions, and time to sit and listen.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God . . .” It is an excellent place to start as you sit in the counsel of the Word. Be still before the Lord and know that He is God, that He already knows, and He cares for you. Psalm 1:2 says, “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.” The Word, although difficult at times, to understand, to follow, to take in, should still be delighted in. You should meditate on all of it, and as you read it in order to filter your life through it if you find something in it that is disagreeable to you . . . i can assure you, you are the one that is wrong and not the Word of God.

That is part of self-evaluation that nobody likes. The part in which, as one’s life is laid bare before God and His Word, there is no doubt conviction. That conviction isn’t intended to harm, but to grow you. Every situation in life is a learning opportunity to learn and grow. It can be very uncomfortable and feel very lonely; these two things are why many refuse even to attempt self-evaluation. Psalm 4:4 says, “Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” It is in these moments, pure, open, honest moments, that life is found, and growth can happen.

Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

You are loved,

cj

Be somebody else.

“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.

You are loved,

cj

Slightly Stale . . .

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.

You are loved,

cj

Take Joy in the Simple Things

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.

You are loved,

cj

Beyond Blessed

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.

You are loved,

cj

The Church at Bugz’s

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.

You are loved,

cj

i spent the evening with a prostitute . . .

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 . . .

Luke 7:36-50.

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).

You are loved,

cj