Aftermath | Lessons Learned

On September 11, 2001, I was working at my job in Louisville, Kentucky.  A friend and coworker walked into my cubicle and said, “Turn on CNN, they just flew a plane into the World Trade Center.”

I remember thinking in my head to her comment, “What? This has to be a mistake?”

“Like a little plane?” I asked.

I can still see her nodding toward my duel monitors and as I turned the images of terrorism filled the screens. The United States was under attack. We began to watch as a second plane, then a third, and finally a fourth were reported missing. Banks and government offices began shutting down like dominoes, including ours.

After what seemed like hours, I remember turning and realized that more than a dozen coworkers were lined up behind us watching as we watched, and sobbing as we sobbed.

At 10:05 AM, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed into the streets below taking uncountable souls with it. Our lives would never be the same.

Fast-forward 16 years to today and I and the world has dramatically changed. In 2007, I left the corporate life in part to cofound the ministry that would become Clean Socks Hope. It was to honor my dad, but mostly to heal my soul.

Over our 10-year vision quest, dozens of people have offered me advice of what they think is the best for me. I had to learn that one myself charging into the homeless camps of Louisville and southern Indiana shouting “Get a job, get a life, here’s some socks, no more strife!”

Thankfully, by God’s hand of protection, I didn’t walk out with a knife in my skull. It’s an absolute miracle I’m alive.

But that’s the rub isn’t it? We think we know what’s best for everybody! I am so thankful that God has walked beside us everyday of our ministry. The failures are at times epic, but in that the victories are twice as sweet. It has kept us from becoming cavalier and entitled and driven us closer to the resurrected Christ.

Part of that journey is discipleship. Being one (a disciple) and sharing wisdom. I have for years fought that, but God tends to show his way—clearly.

I have the honor of serving with a bunch of young guns down at 8th Street. Most are no older that my own children and walk with that same swagger. The same swagger I walked with all those years ago.

But, in all honesty they haven’t seen true hate because you’re a certain this, or real injustice because you’re a certain that, or a world gone mad by sanctioned infanticide or what it does to a country that legalizes it. As for 9/11, they were all so young and it’s up to us to share what we know in the best of times and especially in its most vile.

So how do we disciple then? How do we mentor? I think we have to consistently ask questions like, “Who are we to question the true spirit of ones’ journey with Jesus?” and “What lessons is God providing us in the failures and in the victories for that person and for us?”

Biblically, our brother Job sure had a lot of yammering friends offering advice and even a wife that demanded, “Just curse God and die!” Shelly and I have had a few dust-ups along the way, but she’s never wished me to die!

I feel like for some reason that our kids have fallen prey to this prosperity gospel vibe much like we did in the eighties. That the gospel comes without the hard work of carrying our cross daily and in essence diminishing the work done by Christ and the victory found at Calvary.

I wish sometimes that in our journey to 2017, the road had been a little easier along the way, but in it God gave me hope and lessons learned for a lifetime. Most of all, he gave me the courage to stand-alone because his will trumped others and my own.

In essence, failure began healing my heart and restoring my soul, and that’s the reason I began this journey in the first place.

I hope we get that and understand, there’s a storm coming and it’s God sized and Kingdom bound. Job 1:18-19

So, from one brother to another, ask my friend Dave how living a life for Christ is? I’ll bet he never uses the word “easy.”

Finance guru Dave Ramsey has a saying, “Don’t take advice from broke people.” Maybe ours should be, “Don’t take advice from broken people.”


Post Script: I’d like to take this moment to thank all first responders past and present for your willingness to serve. May God bless you and your families with his hand of protection, always.

Super Hero
I Was Never Chosen

I find the irony delicious.

My day to day is chaos. There has never been a more dangerous, frenzied, and outrageous time in our lives than right now and I am at total peace. In God’s amazing grace I have watched what we used to call, “Midtown Moments,” explode all over the 8th Street Mission.

I watched two homeless brothers share a meal after scrapping up change and torn dollar bills to buy it. I saw my wife facilitate a breakthrough with a woman who has been recently abused and shared that because of that abuse she didn’t care if she went to be with Jesus or not and had given up. I witnessed Mike D’s son Eric share the gospel with a man who could barely speak English and then purchase the man a pizza as an act of agape love and there are a thousand more stories just like those.

I know, you’re saying, “Big deal,” right? So what’s the point?

According to man, I am not qualified to be a deacon, an elder, be ordained, minister, certainly not pastor and hold an office of religious stature and a hundred other things that I have been told I couldn’t do because of my divorce or my credit hour shortfall in college.

Nope, sorry not qualified—not worthy.

My buddy Shawn would say, “You gotta get over that, bro.”

I have my brother and here’s why and where it gets delicious.

As Jesus prayed from the garden shortly before his betrayal, “I speak these things in the world, so that they may have My joy completed in them.
14 I have given them Your word.
The world hated them
because they are not of the world,
as I am not of the world.
15 I am not praying
that you take them out of the world
but that you protect them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world,
as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify[e] them by the truth;
your word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world,
I also have sent them into the world.
19 I sanctify myself for them,
so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

I think we just had us a God drop the mic moment! The word Sanctify here literally means, “To be set aside for special use.”

Jesus, and the God of the universe, our Father has set me and you aside for special use because He took our place on the cross!

Paul writes in Philippians 3:8-9, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them [our best efforts] rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

Paul had no idea what his Savior’s prayer was in the garden that night. But what he did know was that his relationship with the Father taught him how to love Jesus and that all else of this earth was rubbish.

I grew up believing that it was somehow important to God that I be a deacon, an elder, be ordained, a minister, a pastor and hold an office of religious stature—all of this world.

I know now that outside my relationship with Jesus Christ all of that is rubbish.

I have the greatest job in the world. I am free to love Jesus and share the good news with others and you don’t need a title for that.

I was never chosen by man, but I was called by God.


we're different
The Liability of the Lost

Over the last year I’ve witnessed two movements of God come into question over the liability of doing ministry, especially when it’s ministry with those people. So, because of the most recent occurrence, I have spent another restless night trying to figure that one out?

I pulled out my old tattered bible and searched and searched for scripture that backs up the claim that I heard last night, “I could never support this because I might be sued just because my name is on the church roll.”

I used my fancy phone and my small lay-in-my-lap computer to search as well, but to no avail? I am lost on what to do when we’re faced with the modern day incarnation of the Salem Witch Trials.

Have we actually become a church of such means and yet of such little sustenance that we are making excuses because we don’t want the lost in our churches because they have real world problems?

They don’t look like us, they don’t have a home, they have been in jail, they haven’t been in church long enough, they’re not a member (pretty tough when you’re not welcome) and on and on and on.

Wow, really? That sounds a whole lot like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

There are nearly 100 bible passages dealing with our responsibility of service on caring for the poor. Proverbs 28:3; “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” Or Isaiah 58:6, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”

I John 3:17; “If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him,” but I have to believe that these people know that?

So what has Satan deceived us with? Are we so vanilla that we have forgotten that there is risk in the Gospel? That our fellow brothers and sisters throughout the world have given their lives for the resurrected Christ just as he did for us? So that’s why I struggle, so that’s why I have nothing left for the church that has everything and turns away the lost.

I had to come to terms ten years ago that my passion and my calling was not everyone’s. At first that was a tough and heart breaking lesson. Thankfully, through great growth and a huge support system I have the honor of serving with some of the best like-minded people in the world.

The writer of Hebrews said, “For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)

Jesus said, “So that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a] 19 “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures[b] on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” Matthew 6:18-20

Like so many times in our American life we see the turmoil and struggle that faces us in every class system of every day. We look back and yearn for a kinder and gentler way of life where the summer days seemed to last for weeks and the worries of the world were far removed.

In conclusion, and to quote the young methamphetamine addict who stood and addressed us last night, “I thank God for the 50 men who not only weighed the liability of the Gospel, but risked their own lives to be locked in prison with 50 convicts to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t.”

Honestly, I would follow this young brother into the gates of Hell with a water pistol. I think it’s about time that those people show the church how to share the true and living Gospel of the resurrected Christ.

Join us at 8th Street. You will never be the same.