Tag: journey of life

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.

Steve the Cat
Steve the Cat | A Devotional

I had the honor of sharing the devotional last week at a Board Meeting. It was not my turn, but God laid on my heart the burdens we see each week at our 8th Street Mission. Because of this, I am reminded of Steve the Cat and his horrific journey to us and to his glorious and miraculous recovery.

I shared from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…”

We have been alerted through our weekly prayer walks that some of our old friends from our Midtown Commons days have resurfaced in the neighborhood and perhaps as many as 20 are living in one location. By observation, it is obvious that they have fallen victim to those old demons. If we are reading what we are seeing correctly, it’s heroin and they are all knee deep in it and it’s heartbreaking.

Steve the Cat came to us on a recent Thanksgiving night while we were in New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Our cat wrangler and sitter Mike realized that he had gained a new face and that little Steve was in trouble.

You see Steve had a raging infection in his body leaving him blind, emaciated, and in cardiac distress. He was dehydrated, had lost his ability to stand and somehow found his way onto our deck, through the cat door and found one of our pillowed cat cubbies where he prepared to die.

However, like so many times in life our God is in the little details, nudging us along and allowing us to see where he needs us to be. When we returned, we scooped little Steve up, all 3 pounds of him and headed to the Hollis Animal Clinic trying to decide if Steve would make it or if it would become just comfort measures for his last few and sad days. Dr. Hollis went to work giving Steve liquids and antibiotics and sending us home with a grocery list of do’s and don’ts to try to save our little gift from death. She told us that the outcome and his condition was grim.

This is where God stepped in, because Michael (not cat wrangler and sitter Mike) my best friend from grade school mailed a huge box of high fiber, high protein cat food to us arriving the same week we began Steve’s rehabilitation after the loss of his cat Buddy. Slowly through the shots, treatments and food Steve began to improve. I think we can honestly say that it took 6 to 7 months before Shelly and I ever said aloud, “I think Steve is going to make it.”

Isn’t Steve’s story just so God? The metaphor of how it is that we must come to him broken, dehydrated, emaciated and preparing to die so that the God of the universe will step in and begin our own journey of restoration, hope, and redemption. That choice is ours because he is waiting, praying that our face will turn to him. We have a saying around 8th Street that, “You have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired,” and we have seen God meet person after person right in the midst of their death march when they finally become sick and tired.

I closed our devotion time with the first line of Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

So for us, our season and our time is now, intentionally Jericho Prayer walking the house of our 20 old friends. Verbalizing the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the good news that he is there with us just waiting for these young kids caught up in the demons of Satan to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.

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

We celebrated our second anniversary this past Thanksgiving with Steve the Cat. He is healthy and vibrant and although he will never regain his sight he is just one of the guys around the house. He has been known to chase his sisters through every room and across the entire length of the house. Steve gets into swatting matches with his brothers and thankfully allows us to sleep on one side of the bed as long as we do not bother him in his position laying sideways in the middle.

God is in the details, indeed.

Join us Thursdays at 7:30 PM as we prayer walk Midtown.

we're different
Gospel Lived Out | What’s the Church Not Getting?

Mike D and I were having a conversation a few days ago about our 8th Street Mission and how God keeps validating the work we’re called to. The discussion led to Francis Chan and Alan Hirsch and if they stopped in one day what would be the first question out of their mouths about 8th Street?

“Jeff, what programs do you have in place?” Francis Chan might ask.

Followed by, “Are you cultivating an apostolic imagination and practice for the 21st century?” from Alan Hirsch.

Francis Chan asking that question? Yeah, no.

Okay, Alan Hirsch probably would ask his, but he wouldn’t be concerned with much that looks like the American church of today. Both men are pouring into the church as a whole and many would argue for the survival of our Christian faith.

Why?

Because we’ve stopped serving the biblical definition of the lost and poor and find ourselves drawn to the next trendy thought, program or celebrity pastor to run our church and more disturbingly, our walk with God.

So, where does this leave the lost and poor that Jesus talked about? It leaves them lost and poor and without a church that loves them.

Over the last year God has orchestrated a powerful movement in our local mission field. So much so, that dozens of differing churches and organizations have been drawn to the 8th Street Mission just wanting to be a part of what we’re doing. People pour in daily with this bright-eyed look on their faces just like the one we all had when we realized that salvation was our new truth and ask, “How can we help?”

Seeing this, church leadership has approached and asked what it is that we’re doing?

Typically, our reply is that we have no idea what we’re doing, we just show up and God does the rest. However, that’s not true, we do know what we’re doing. I say this with no pride or haughtiness, just unbounded honesty.

It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ lived out. It’s that simple and that complex.

There’s no fancy programming, methodology or seven habits of highly successful preachers, it’s just a bunch of broken and desperate men and women sharing the love of Christ the way he said to show it.

That’s why people are drawn to it and that’s why we’re called to it.

So why wouldn’t the church support that?

Hugh Halter might say, “It’s because broken and icky people make the pew sitters uncomfortable.”

This is not an indictment of the church, corporate or otherwise because we are all alumni and the church is responsible for us going farther and deeper in the holy word of God. I just think we’ve lost our way somewhere on the journey.

We have come to realize that a part of this new ride at 8th Street is to disciple dozens of gospel driven, God led cottage industries and somehow show them with one goal in mind, his kingdom.

And to model the gospel of Jesus Christ each day in our lives, as we love the church that sent us, the believers that don’t understand us, the lost and poor that Jesus shared with us, and toss away the next hip thing for the gospel that changed us.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20

My challenge to you is to join us at 8th Street and if you can bring Alan Hirsch and Francis Chan with you—we could use the help.