Thursday, April 23, 2015

Food for thought

It’s amazing how much of our life is dictated by food.  Whenever we go out for breakfast in New Orleans… we discuss where we want to go for lunch. At lunch we discuss where we want to go for dinner.  At the end of the evening, we always say, “Ooooh I ate way too much. Why did we order desert?”

The which is working to end world hunger, says we make 200 decisions regarding food everyday.”  But do we always have control over what we eat?  For most of us, the answer is yes.  Sometimes we run out of ketchup or someone eats the last chip you want, but most of us will never have to deal with malnutrition. 

This same project tells us the world is filled with approximately 1 billion people who not have enough food on a daily basis.  These people may not be starving, but they do not have equal assess to food.  The number to support the infrastructure to stop world hunger is $30 billion a year. 

In the world, there are approximately 3 billion between the age of 25 and 45 years old.  If each one of these people donated just $10 a year we could eradicate world hunger.  What if only half could donate?  Your number would be $20 is that too much to solve World Hunger?  Maybe the rest of the world does not have this type of disposable income.  What is the number for Americans over the age of 18?  It would cost $125 dollars a year.  This $125 could be your fish and loaves.  What is your number?  How much would you be willing to donate on a yearly basis to eradicate world hunger?  Yes, I am making this seem so easy but Jesus took his Disciples and together they fed thousands with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread.  Think about how powerful we could be if we joined our resources. 

Matthew 15:32-39

32 Jesus called his followers to him and said, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have already been with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry. They might faint while going home.”
33 His followers asked him, “How can we get enough bread to feed all these people? We are far away from any town.”
34 Jesus asked, “How many loaves of bread do you have?”
They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.”
35 Jesus told the people to sit on the ground. 36 He took the seven loaves of bread and the fish and gave thanks to God. Then he divided the food and gave it to his followers, and they gave it to the people. 37 All the people ate and were satisfied. Then his followers filled seven baskets with the leftover pieces of food. 38 There were about four thousand men there who ate, besides women and children. 39 After sending the people home, Jesus got into the boat and went to the area of Magadan.”

On this day, no one in the crowd no one asked if the fish were farm raised or caught in the wild.  No complained about the lack of gluten free bread.  These people were hungry and were so thankful Jesus and the disciples were there to take care of them.

What is Jesus telling us about the Kingdom in this passage?  Jesus is taking care of the outcasts, the downtrodden, the misfits…and they don’t even have to work for it!” These people are like a pack of wild dogs who will do anything to get what Jesus has. In a way Jesus is enabling the poor and weak. “How dare he just freely give this stuff away!” “Who does he think he is after all?” The disciples, ask Jesus to send these people home so they can get a good night’s rest and food to eat but Jesus wants them to stay and then expects the disciples to figure out a way to feed them. “You feed them,” Jesus says. Jesus not only enables the poor but also uses a poor boy’s food to do it!

Jesus is inviting us to be a part of this miracle.  Will you accept the invitation?  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday...

Luke 23:33-43
33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
In verse 34, it says the Roman soldiers were casting lots.  Casting lots?  During during Biblical times the  people cast lots (essentially gambled) to determine the will of God.  They would throw sticks with markings or stones with symbols into a small area and then interpret the results.  
Imagine this, these Roman soldiers had the opportunity to witness the greatest moment in history and instead they were gambling.  Jesus is dying on the cross only a few feet from where they were standing and they were focused on a pair of lousy dice to determine the will of God.  In a few moments, Jesus is about to explain the essence of his nature with one sentence and these foolish men are about to miss it. 
In Jesus last moment on earth, he is still thinking about other people.  As he takes his last breath, he looks at the criminal and says, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise."  Don't miss this moment, because you are distracted!  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tips for giving a Young Life Talk

A Young Life Club sequence is like a Hershey Bar.  We do not want to give a student the whole bar on their first night at club.  Each week we break off a chocolate square filled with the Love of Jesus Christ to digest.  Yes, each square is 100 percent milk chocolate but our students will not be overwhelmed with the size of the sweet message.  Over the course of the school year, we give our students another piece of the Hershey Bar.  They will come to club hungry and excited to receive another square.  By the end of the year, our friends have received the whole bar (The Good News of our resurrected Savior.)

A few tips for sharing club talks:

1.  Never be the hero in your own story.  Our high school friends do not need to hear about our amazing accolades.  They should hear the moments when we have fallen short and clung to the mercy, love, and grace of Jesus.    

2.  Time of Possession:  Club talks are about Jesus Christ.  During this time we are called to elevate Christ.

3.  Make sure you personally identify with the passage of scripture you are going to share.  If you cannot identify with Judas betraying Jesus, then move on.  Set yourself up for success!

4.  Earn the right to be heard.  Spend time on campus.  Take students to lunch.  Show up for their games.  After we earn the right to be heard, students will give you the freedom to speak truth into their lives.  

5.  Know your facts! Remember a student can instantly check your facts on Google.  We don't want someone in the audience discrediting our talk.  

My point:  We are given the public opportunity to proudly praise Jesus Christ!

Saturday, February 7, 2015


What if our faith was growing like kudzu?  For people not from the Deep South, kudzu is a vine that was first introduced to North America in 1876 to celebrate our nation’s 100 year anniversary.   If you’ve ever been to my home state Georgia, kudzu has overtaken the landscape.  The earliest farmers tried to feed the vine to their livestock, but the vine grew too fast.  Other landowners planted it to prevent erosion.  It was not until 1972 that kudzu was declared a weed.  During the hot summer months the vine can grow up to a foot a day and can grow over 60 feet a year. Now the weed has overtaken 7.5 million acres.

For perspective, the combined size New Jersey and Connecticut is roughly 8 million acres.

Not only does this vine grow incredibly fast, it has proved more difficult to kill.  It can cost thousands of dollars to kill the plant.  We have now discovered, the most effective way to clear kudzu is to unleash a pack of wild goats or sheep.  However, most people try to kill kudzu by completely mowing the weed to the ground during the summer months.  Then the entire plant most be throw into a fire and burned. 

One summer Billy Reilly and I were hired to remove three acres of kudzu.  Billy being an expert landscaper, told the home owner we could complete the whole job for $1000.  On day number one, Billy went to pee in the creek and fell in.  Why didn’t he use the restroom inside?  I am not sure how it happened, but we needed to drive back to his mother's house so he could change.  One small problem Billy threw his car keys in the grass and managed to run them over with the lawn mower.  When we found them they looked like a gnarled monkey paw.  We were twenty years old and we had to call his mother come pick us up so Jimmy could change clothes. 

On the second day, he is using the weed wacker next to the house and somehow managed to break a basement window.  Instead of telling the homeowner, he decides to grab some duct tape out of his car and tape the pieces of glass back to the window.  Really?  Then a few minutes later he attacks the cable tv because he thinks it’s a snake.  A snake?

On the third and final day, Billy tries to start a fire to burn the kudzu.  However, it was raining and we didn’t have any dry wood so Billy starts using lawnmower gas to get the fire started.  I remember saying to him, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”  He turns around and says, “Andy I am trained professional.  I know what I am doing.”  In the next instant, the gas can catches fire and he tosses the flaming can into the woods.  I grabbed a rake and began beating out the fire.  Billy grabbed the water hose and ran toward the fire, but as he was running he quickly realized the hose was too short.  When he reached the end of the hose, he looked like he was connected to a bungee cord.  That hose snatched him back 10 feet.  He was laying on the ground. I am still beating on the fire with a melting rake and the fire is burning out of control.  Now Billy runs into the house to get a bucket of water and call 911.  He comes running towards the fire and tries to throw the bucket of water, but it swings back around and he is soaked with water.  Then he gets the bright idea to get water from of the creek.  Somehow he manages to fall into the creek again.  I am still viciously trying to protect the neighbors house at this point.  Billy has given up and goes and gets a pack of cigarettes and I promise this part is true, he lights a cigarette off the fire and sits down on his lawnmower to wait for the fire department. 

Finally, the calvary arrive and they make me run hoses with them as Billy directs the firefighters.  After we put out the fire, the fire chief said, “How did this fire start?”  Billy replies, “I started pouring gas on the fire.”  Incredulous the chief says, “You never pour gasoline on a fire.”

After it was all said and down, Billy and I burned two acres of kudzu.  With great ambition, which I still admire, he approached the homeowner and said, “Well good thing that fire burned down most of the kudzu.  What time would you like us to come finish up tomorrow?”  The shocked woman handed us a check for $1000 and politely asked us to never return.

What if our faith was as difficult to destroy as kudzu?