The Pattern

He was a carpenter. Shaping wood, cutting, building. Taking nothing and forming it into something. How ironic that years later, the same medium that he worked would be used as the instrument of his death.

Another, unknown carpenter, took two large wooden beams and fashioned them into a heinous cross.
A device of death and suffering.
A hanger to drape a savior.
A place mark in a ledger.
THE line item that would record a single once and for all, lump sum payment for humanity’s sin. Erasing forever the debt. Devine Destiny offered through salvation.

I am a metal worker. Self taught. Clumsy and common. I find myself shaping instruments of death. Small symbols to carry around the neck, close to the heart. I have one cross that serves a pattern for all the rest.

These crosses, they remind not to glorify death but to identify as a follower of the King. A King who modeled the path to exaltation. I Fall at the foot of the instrument. Crying out repentance to the bestower of everlasting life. Forsaking my desires… to make His Glory known. Following Him on a journey that starts with humiliation.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

He leads me to a rough hewn beam and beckons.

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23



I pass people everyday carrying their water bottles.  Dedicated.  On a mission to drink eight glasses of water a day.  I get it.  I agree it’s healthy. Most of us know the danger of becoming dehydrated.  So we drink. We drink often.

I wonder if we give spiritual hydration the same devotion?  Staying in the word daily because it’s essential to our spiritual life.  Re-hydrating throughout the day in prayer and worship.  Making sure that our wives and kids are not dehydrated.

We drink our fill of everything the world offers.  We are so thirsty.  We return everyday, flabbergasted that our deepest yearnings are never satisfied.

But today can different.  Because He is there waiting beside our favorite watering hole.  Can you hear Him?  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Will you drink?


A Picture of Contrast

He wears a fitted a Brooks Brother’s suit with cordovan wing tips and imported silk tie to the high rise everyday. Fitting symbolism for a man of prominent position within the firm of Marsh Mclennan. Years of hard work, long hours, and shrewd decisions have earned him the respect of his peers. Until one day, when it all began to fall apart.

It was eleven years ago on the eve of anticipated success. His daughter would take the bar exam the next morning. Morning never came. Pat was surprised when the police officer knocked at his door late that evening to inform him that his daughter had committed suicide. He can barely stay composed sharing the story with me as a single tear slides down his face. A tear drops near the steering wheel of my car as I peer out through the open window.

Pat is the picture of health…thin, clean shaven, nicely dressed in blue jeans and a red polo shirt. I can easily imagine this distinguished looking whited headed man sitting behind a mahogany desk. Only two things blur this picture of success, his white, smoke stained mustache and his bandaged feet shielded by walking casts.

Some time after the death of his daughter, Pat went through a divorce, sold three floundering businesses and went back to work for Marsh. He began to spend his savings and eventually lost his job and his health insurance. After years of poor diabetes management he developed charcot foot. Pat tells me underneath the bandages his feet are in bad shape. He is truly bewildered at his own homelessness.

Pat and I set and talk in the shade of a tree by the gas station while he munches on a taco. “I’ve given up on God. I just don’t understand how all of this can happen. I’ve made some dumb decisions though, and here I am homeless.”

I asked Pat where he is staying and he points at the old deserted steak house nearby. “I’ve been living in there for four months.” Neither of his remaining children know that he is homeless. “I’m just too proud to tell them. A colleague of mine gives me some money a couple of times a month and has begged me to move in with he and his wife. I’m just too dang proud. I’ve never asked anyone for help.”

“How long can you keep this up,” I questioned?

“In three months, I can start drawing early social security. I plan on getting an apartment. I think I’ll do some of the stuff your doing…buy $5 McDonald’s gift cards and give them to my friends. Until then, I will just try to keep my distance from the other homeless people and survive. I don’t fit in here.

“Pat, my heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine how I might handle your circumstances. I do know one thing. God hasn’t forgotten you. He loves you more than ever!”

It’s ironic.  I have made some dumb decisions too.  Haven’t we all.  I’ve let pride and fear keep me from choosing correctly.  For years I fought the off again on again battle against personal sin always fearful of what others and my wife would think of me if I reached out for help.  Too full of pride to admit that I couldn’t conquer this sin on my own.

I imagine Pat’s two children wonder what’s become of their Dad.  I imagine they would gladly step in and rescue him like he rescued them when they were in need. But Pride.  But Fear.  Our heavenly Father is waiting for us.  He has provided a way out of the mess by sacrificing his son, Jesus.  But Pride, But Fear.

Please pray for Pat. Pray for his salvation. Pray for his health and that his children will discover that he needs a helping hand.


Does wealth = God’s Blessing

I have a nice home, a nice car, a 401k, an emergency fund and plenty of food in my pantry. I am blessed with all of this because I am Christian. Right? Wrong.

If I follow this logic then the teenager in a muslim country who has been shunned by their family for a profession of Christ is not blessed. How about the Bedouin Christian whose family only has two meals a week? Nope not blessed. Or my dear friend from the persecuted church in Central Asia whose pastor friend has been in jail for two years for preaching the gospel. Sorry wrong again.

Their faith just isn’t as strong as mine because God has blessed me with money. Is this what I convey when someone compliments me? “Your house is beautiful.” Without thinking I pipe up, “I am blessed.”

Don’t get me wrong. I want to give thanks to God..for the right things. The things that I share in common with my persecuted brethren around the world. Things like salvation, grace, mercy, all access to God through Christ, air to breathe.

There is a case that can be made for wealth being a blessing in the New Testament. It was in the context of being blessed (by money) so that you may give to those in need.

Romans 15:25Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. 26For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

Acts 4:32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

Do we have to give all of our money away? Should we give everything away? I can’t answer that. I can tell you that I want to be willing to give it all away the moment I feel compelled by God. I know anything that I have belongs to God. If someone else needs something that is in my possession that’s okay because it wasn’t mine to begin with.

Wether I’m a millionaire or penniless, live in a 5,000 square foot house or a mud hut, it is my position before God that determines wether I’m blessed, not my bank account.


Filling in the cracks

Today I visited with several homeless people. I have been on the lookout for a couple named Carlos and Sunshine.  In the process I met Joey.  Joey is an amputee in a wheelchair.  He has a colostomy; wears a urine bag; is very dirty and stinks.

The type of person you would imagine Jesus ministering to.  Joey says he is drug and alcohol free as do all the homeless people I have met.  As soon as one homeless person leaves everyone that is left tells me, “Don’t believe that person.  They’re doing crack cocaine.”  I’m so naive. I want to believe that they all tell the truth.

I visited with Joey and learned that he hasn’t had a clean colostomy or urine bag in quite a while.  I think I could have deduced that on my own from the smell.  I decided crack addict or not, someone needed to help this guy.  I came up with at least ten excuses why it shouldn’t be me, but in my heart I knew I was that someone.  I went off to the local medical supply store (literally gagging as I drove thinking about the stench); bought colostomy bags and a urine bag that straps to the leg.  Next stop Salvation Army and then the grocery store.  I arrived the hero (at least in my own mind. God soon humbled me.) with clean clothes, medical supplies, soap, water, toothbrush, toothpaste and nail clippers.

“Joey, here’s the stuff you need.  (in my nicest tone)  I brought you three gallons of  water from the store so you can clean up.  I think your urine bag is leaking.”

Joey – “I know man.  Sometimes the wind blows just right and I catch a whiff of myself and it’s bad.”

“Just promise me you’ll clean up.  I kept the receipts so that you can’t return this stuff to the store for money.  Use it okay.”

Joey – “Oh man, I will.  Hey Terrell.”

“Yeah Joey.”

Joey – “I’m really hungry.  Stay and have dinner with me over at the McDonalds.”

“Are you offering to buy or do you need me to.”

Joey – “Dude, I only have a couple of bucks.  I was hoping you could get me something to eat.  I’m really hungry.”

“Okay man, let me see what I can do.”

Ten minutes later, I’m back with a bag of ten tacos and suddenly I’m feeding four homeless men and hearing their stories (I’ll share about Pat later).

I finally have to go to meet my own family.  I’m late for dinner and they’re (my family) eating without me.  I pray with the guys; hand Joey a pocket gospel, and pull away in my $30,000 company car.  The hot tears began to stream down my face.

Lord, I know you’re bigger than Joey’s needs.  How can I show him You in all of your glory?  All he wants is the next fix of crack and all I want is for him to know You can fix the “Crack.”  The big one that he is trying to fill with drugs.  The one only You can fill with You.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

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