If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's a gas!

Jeremiah 22:15-17 (NLT)

 15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
      Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
   But he was just and right in all his dealings.
      That is why God blessed him.
 16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
      and everything went well for him.
   Isn’t that what it means to know me?”

This is taken from a portion of scripture where God has sent Jeremiah to tell Jehoiakim how things are going to be.  Jehoiakim was a king of Judah who did evil before God.  Josiah, Jehoiakim's father, had been a good, Godly king.  For some reason, I keep running across this particular set of verses.  Maybe I finally got it . . . or, at least, I'm getting it.  

There's this guy who shows up in Byram from time to time. And he is always in a different truck. It's not that I know of his every visit to Byram, I've just seen him four times.  I recognize him, but he never recognizes me.  If he did, he would not keep asking me for money "for gas" to get to some place other than Byram.  He pulls out a stack of papers, along with his driver's license, just so I know he's being truthful.  He has also offered to trade a $20 Walgreen's gift card for $10 for gas.  Imagine that!

He doesn't need money for gas. I'm pretty sure of that.  If your problem is running out of gas every time you go to Byram (he's not from Byram) you don't need money for gas.  You need to plan better.  I really don't think gas or planning is his problem however.

I haven't handled the situation well.  The last time he did this, after he repeated his opening spiel, but before he had a chance to go further,  I told him - rather harshly - that he should start paying attention to who he is talking to.  He got back into his "empty" truck and sped away.  I don't know if I will see him again, but, if I do, I hope - no, I pray - that I can at least help point him to what he really needs.

"No hope of that," some might say.

Well, Jesus Christ is THE hope of the hopeless.  I can't do anything for anybody, particularly people like that man. But, Jesus can use any of His children to accomplish the otherwise impossible in anyone.

Hopelessness is a mirage projected by Satan to lure us into that state of acceptance that says things are the way they are and they are going to stay that way until Jesus comes back. It seems that there are so many people who find a strange kind of comfort there. If you can convince yourself that the situation is hopeless then you don't have to even try to do anything about it. 

Well, Jesus did come back - I'm not talking about the rapture - from death, and when He went back to Heaven he did not leave us in hopelessness. He left us with great hope . . . not a wishful sort of hope, but a hope of substance. 

Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then there's this other guy.  I'm ashamed to say that the first time I encountered him, I rather harshly turned him away.  He looks like somebody that you would see in a movie about Gengis Kahn . . . from the losing side.  His hair matches the look on his face. It's kind of wild. And he looks like he could easily turn on you at the drop of a hat  To some, he might look dangerous. To me, once I really look at him, he looks like someone who is just trying to survive.  And his "look" might help him accomplish that.  He is not a big person. In fact he is rather small. Looks Oriental, hence the Gengis Kahn thing.  Maybe that's just the way he looks. I don't think it helps him when it comes to asking strangers for money, though.   

He really doesn't "ask" for money, he gestures for it. You know, palm upturned, rubbing your thumb and fingers together, the "money" signal.  And that's what bugged me so much the first time I saw him.  If you are going to ask for money, then ask.  Don't make gestures!  But, then, after seeing him a few more times in the same place, I have come to believe that he either cannot speak English, or he cannot speak at all.  Or, yes, maybe he just has a great scam going.  If the latter is the case, I don't think it is working out so well for him.

I saw him again, recently. He moves between a Shell and an Exxon that are next door to one another out on Highway 49.  I was coming out of the Burger King at the Exxon contemplating something that God was telling me to do in there.  (That's another story for another day.)  He is standing right in front of my truck, so it was unavoidable.  And I really had no intention of avoiding him on this day.  He held out his Burger King cup, and made his gesture.

"Are you thirsty?" I asked.

He gestured again and pointed at the cup.  I had two dollar bills in my pocket left over from my visit to Burger King. I reached toward him with the money, and he held out the cup, I suppose wanting me to put the money there.  By this time I had come to the conclusion about his language skills, or lack thereof, that I have already told you about.  But I had to try.

Throwing money at a situation such as this just to make it go away is just as wrong as doing nothing.  (Yep, I've done plenty of wrong in this area already. . . . both ways.)  Not that I have a lot of money to throw,  not that I throw " a lot" of money, and certainly not that two dollars is a lot of money to throw.  My "thirsty" question had drawn no response. So, as I am handing him the money, I'm looking into his eyes for some kind of spark when I say, "Jesus.  Do you know about Jesus?" . . . Nothing.  . . .No spark. . . . No recognition. . . .No acknowledgement of what I was saying or even of the money I placed in his hand. He turned and hurried away.  It occurs to me, even as I am writing this, that the man may be deaf.
The thing is, it really doesn't matter whether this man can hear what I'm saying, or whether he acknowledges what I am saying, or whether he acknowledges what I am giving.  I won't let that affect me the next time we cross paths.

Here's what I believe as it pertains to this type of situation.  I believe that there are no chance encounters in life.  God arranges them all.

Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)  A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

Therefore, He has a purpose in each encounter.

Philippians 2:13 (NIV) for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

I believe that there is power in even the name of Jesus.  When His name is not taken in vain, but rather spoken in obedience to and at the urging of the Holy Spirit, His power and authority are brought into the situation.   

1 John 3:23 (NIV)  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.


Philippians 2:10 (NKJV)  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,


Colossians 3:17 (NIV)  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Acts 3:6 (NKJV) Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”


Acts 3:16 (NIV)  By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.


Acts 4:10 (NLT)  Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.


Acts 16:18 (NKJV)  And this she did for many days.  But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.


There is power in the name of Jesus! And all who have accepted His wonderful gift of salvation have been given the authority and, indeed, the responsibility, to speak in His glorious name.


So, an encounter that could have ended like countless others, as if it had never happened, nothing new for either party, has had the powerful name of Jesus spoken into it.  I didn't give much, but what I did give was given in the name of Jesus, not in the name of "go-away-and-leave-me-alone"Colossians 3:17 means something.  That man at the Burger King may not even know the name, but that takes no power from the name.  And the devil who has wrecked this man's life til now knows the name, and he cannot stand before even the mention of it!


I don't know what is going to happen next in this man's life.  Maybe there is a bigger part for me to play in it, maybe not.  Perhaps the power of Jesus spoken over this man's life will bring the next person along who God has gifted to take him a step or two further. Jesus changed the life of a naked man running around in a graveyard.  He can certainly change the life of a dislocated man moving between a couple of convenience stores with a Burger King cup in his hand.        


As for the other man, Jesus loves him, too, and I've got to do a better job of loving him. I have no doubt that I will again hear, "Ain't it a shame that a sixty year old man has to run around asking for help."  I hope I can do better by him.

Lord, help me to be just and right in all of my dealings, and to give justice and help to these whom you send my way.  You will bless me and everything will go well for me.  After all, isn't all that what it means to know you?  And I do want to know you, Lord. 


Here are two videos for you.  The second one is kind of strong, so some of you might need to stick with the first one! . . . great hair-do's, though.   :)