In Times Like These…..

Photo courtesy of HopeinJesus.org

Photo courtesy of HopeinJesus.org

It is In Times Like These that I am reminded just how dark, cold, confused, completely hopeless the world seems.

With the devastating news of a gunman walking into an elementary school and opening fire on little children in a kindergarten class…I am reminded of just how much we all need Jesus!

Let’s face it…as much as we would like to pretend that everything is just fine, and go on about our lives as if everything is perfect…it most definitely is not! There is no way to explain why someone would walk into a kindergarten classroom and kill 18 innocent children…other than the indisputable fact that there is evil in this world.

In Times Like These…it becomes abundantly clear that our only hope is Jesus. Anything else is hollow.

The world needs light. The world needs clarity. The worlds needs hope. The world needs Jesus!

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Homeless, Not Hopeless!

Courtesy Getty Images

Anyone who has been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting have uttered or heard these words; “Hi, my name is (insert name here), and I’m an alcoholic.”

Well….let me put a different spin on that infamous phrase and say; “Hi, my name is Jimmy, and I am a former homeless person!”

I know what it is like to be concerned about where my next meal was going to come from and where I was going to sleep that night. I remember finding an old abandoned shack out in the middle of the woods and feeling relief knowing that I would at least have a roof over my head for a little while. I scraped up enough money by selling soda bottles and doing odd jobs at a local mom and pop grocery store, to buy some canned beans and “beanie weenies” to have food to eat. It was not a fun time.

I was 18 years old, homeless, hungry, and alone…and I kept it hidden from almost everyone who knew me. I remember thinking that if anyone knew, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. Even my girlfriend had no idea of my situation….other than I had no car or money….which sure put a damper on the whole dating thing.

My Mom and Dad and the rest of my siblings lived over 1,200 miles away and had no idea of my situation either…well…kind of. I think my Mom knew but she never let on.

I remember vividly having to go once a week and call my Mom collect to check in, (if I didn’t, she would have driven that long 1,200 mile trek and dragged me back to Indiana with her), and I did NOT want to live in Indiana.

Unfortunately, a few months into the new year of 1981, I got word that my Dad’s mom had passed, and that the funeral was coming up soon, and a plane ticket with my name would be waiting at the airport. I was excited and scared at the same time. After all…I hadn’t seen my parents in almost a year, and had been homeless now for most of that time.

I flew in to O’Hare Airport in Chicago and saw my Dad for the first time in a year. I will never forget the look on his face. It was a look of both joy and shock. No doubt joy at seeing his oldest boy again and shock at the way I looked. After all, I was 6 feet tall and maybe 150 pounds soaking wet. Much, much less than my normal 210 pound self. I was in bad shape physically, mentally, and spiritually.

It was at the time, the lowest point of my life. I had lost my job, my car, had no place to live, and had almost lost all hope. Almost!

Fortunately, we serve a God who doesn’t care whether we are homeless or not. According to scripture, He is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t care about position or wealth or even if you have absolutely nothing. He continued to call to me even in my low state, in my darkest time, until I would heed His call and surrender myself to Him completely. The rest is as they say…history.

I have had the opportunity over the last few weeks to get involved with a group of fantastic people who are making a difference in the lives of the homeless. People who are attending to the needs of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And I can tell you that these people are merely homeless….not hopeless.

There are some among them that are strong, vibrant, willing vessels waiting to be deemed worthy.

There are some among them who are experiencing God and all He has to offer willingly and without shame.

There are some among them that have experienced the move of God so strong that they cannot contain themselves…they have to tell someone…pray for someone…help someone.

So full of love. So full of peace. So full of hope. So full of the Holy Spirit.

Merely homeless…not Hopeless!

(to be continued)

“My Addiction is Killing Me!”

That is what a friend told me several years ago concerning his crippling addiction to Heroin.

I saw my friend literally fighting for his life trying to kick his addiction. I watched helplessly from the sidelines as he went from one ‘new’ rehab program to another always ending up at the same conclusion.

He wasn’t a bad kid. He grew up with great parents and a strong Christian family, but still as it can happen, he got mixed in with the wrong crowd at school and it grew from there. A story that has been told too many times before.

I watched my dad, who my friend and I both worked for at the time, take him under his wing and try to minister to him, counsel him, and pray for him.

As I thought about my friend this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder, how many people out there today are dealing with absolute crippling addictions? How many feel there is no hope of ever overcoming that addiction? How many have given up and given in to their particular addiction? Hopeless. Helpless. Alone.

I wish I could tell you that the story of my friend has a happy ending. I wish I could tell you that he kicked his addiction and is living a happy and fulfilled life. Unfortunately, the latest and greatest treatment was just as bad as the heroin.

One thing rings clear in the story of my friend…he continually put his trust in the wrong thing! His trust in all the rehab centers, or the latest treatments, eventually cost him his life.

Everyday there are millions of people putting their hope and trust in the wrong thing. What are we doing to reach them with the ‘life saving gospel’ of Jesus?

If you are reading this and are struggling with an addiction that you can’t seem to overcome…remember this;

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11(emphasis mine)