Miracle

Eric and I playing a Concert

I was a witness to a miracle a few years ago. Let me tell you the story: I used to play in a Christian worship band that recorded a couple of CDs and traveled around to play a few gigs. We played for church services, youth camps, and in coffeehouses, etc. Anyway, one night after rehearsal I was talking with my buddy Eric as we tore down the equipment. I packed my stuff up and took it out to my car and then headed back in to turn out the lights and lock up. I met Eric in the building as he was getting his stuff packed up. (He played electric guitar and carried around a lot of equipment.) We continued talking and carried his equipment out to his truck to load it up.

There it was!!! Did you catch it?? The miracle I witnessed that night was incredible!!

OK….maybe it wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything, but it was still a miracle! Let me explain: I absolutely HATE loading and unloading music equipment. I’ve done it for years and it’s the worst part of being a musician. But that night as I talked to Eric, I served him by helping him carry his stuff out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but here’s why it’s so significant. I never actually thought about it. I never made the decision to help him or to carry his stuff. As I talked to him, I just naturally picked it up without even thinking about it. Because of my friendship with him, I served him without any thought. Service just came naturally. It was almost an accident. It was out of the overflow of our friendship and my love for my friend that I ended up serving him.

I think God intended for us to serve this way too. Christians are great at making decisions to serve. They decide to go on a mission trip or to volunteer as a Sunday School teacher or VBS helper, etc. Those are great decisions and I believe we should make them as often as possible. But I also wonder: If we had a closer friendship with God, do you think we might serve Him without thinking about it? Could we end up serving God by accident? What would it take for service to be a reflex instead of a decision?? Have you ever told somebody about God without thinking about it? Does the name of Jesus come out of your mouth out of the overflow of your heart? Have you ever helped someone just ‘cause you loved them so much?

Ephesians 2:4-5a “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ.”

God’s love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to the world. His love should motivate us to serve Him. (Check out John 14:15 too.)

Prayer: Lord, invade my life in such a powerful way that I’d be able to serve you without thinking about it. Let service & love become a reflex in my life and not only a decision. Mold me into a man who reflects You in everything I do – not just when I make conscious decisions, but also in my everyday quick reactions and interactions with people. Teach me to love others like You love them and cause that love to overflow out of me in simple everyday acts of service. AMEN!

PS: Eric, if you’re out there and reading this, I miss you. Wish I we lived closer and I had the opportunity to carry your stuff to your truck again. Those were good times. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family tonight.

Simon Says

Whoa!! I came home from a rough day @ church last night and found the most amazing e-mail awaiting me.

Simon - back when I knew him.
Simon - back when I knew him.

Simon was a “hard headed punk kid that had it all figured out.” Those are his words but I’d say they’re pretty accurate. I was the leader for a youth ministry skating outreach program called “The Wave.” In those days, we typically had between 70 and 150 youth, but every one of my volunteers knew Simon. He was loud. He was disrespectful. He did whatever he could to be the center of attention – even if the attention was negative. The volunteers and I prayed for Simon pretty regularly and discussed how we could keep being witnesses to him without letting him railroad us. He was tough. We didn’t have very many answers – just prayers.

I think it’s been about 7 years. Anyway, here are some pieces of what he wrote to me:

Steve,

It’s Simon Holloway from Tomball. How are you doing brother?

Wait. . . .Did he just call me “brother?”

I was thinking about you today and the influence you had in my life, when I was younger. . . I sincerely want to thank you for showing me grace and spreading the word with me. . . About 2 months ago I was saved and for the first time had a better understanding about Him and Jesus. After that happened I thought about you many times and you inspired me. I knew it was all real because I had proof from another source, and that was you. It’s all because I think of an old time at The Wave when I was cussin at you and just being a pain in the rear for everyone up there, I was thinking you were coming to rip me a new one when you came and talked to me and gave me grace. It’s almost like in the Bible when they bring the woman who is caught for adultery and they’re expecting Jesus to get mad. Instead Jesus gives grace like he always does and I now see that in you, today.

Whoa! I sure don’t remember that incident. All I really remember is wondering how I could try to be Jesus to him when I really wanted to “rip him a new one” – Had I done it, I would have done exactly what he expected and I would have lost any influence I had with him. Wow! Only by God’s grace did I do the right thing – the thing that he remembered and that made the difference in his life. Had I reacted on my own emotional influences, I would have played right into his misconceptions of God. I guess in some ways, this whole thing sounds sort of like I’m bragging, but what I’m trying to say is that I know how close I was to doing the wrong thing and that God’s power. . . His Spirit is the only thing that made a difference. I want to brag for sure, but on God, not on me. God is amazing!!

Well Steve, I just wanted to thank you a lot and let it be known what you did for me when I was younger and now. . . . I will definitely be praying for you bro and I know God will show you grace in the situation!

Talk to you soon.

Simon

God got a hold of Simon!!!!! Whoa. That’s an e-mail I would have never imagined receiving. If Saul could become Paul, I guess Simon could become a Christian too, but. . .well, sometimes those ministry days seemed unfruitful. They were hard. We kept trying, but it just didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere. I can look back now and see that’s true. We weren’t getting anywhere – BUT GOD WAS!! He used those times and used us in spite of our ignorance. In spite of ourselves.

Man, I love these kinds of stories. We serve an incredible God!!! He is amazing! His power is ultimate and intimate and infinite! He can and does move people’s hearts. (Both Simon’s and mine that day.) He gives us the strength to follow Him even when we don’t feel like it. He can take a hard headed punk and turn him into a humble servant. He is over all and above all and through all. He is God. He is Yahweh! He is our strength, our redeemer, our salvation, our joy, our light, our love. He is love! He gives love! His character is love!

Prayer:Lord, thank you for Simon. Guide him deeper into your presence. Hold him close to You and draw him close to other believers who will truly disciple him. Use him for Your eternal works and for Your glory! Thank you God for sending this message to me. As You know, it was perfect timing. I needed it. Thank You for choosing me for that time and place in ministry. It was an honor to have been a part of such amazing blessings and to have worked with so many incredible volunteers and students. Lord, hold me close and guide me deeper into your presence. I love You and truly can’t imagine this life without You. I need You.You’re are amazing and it’s not just me that thinks so. . . “Simon says” too! AMEN!

PS – Simon gave me permission to repost his e-mail. He even said, “Never know, it could make an impact on someone else life.”

Repost: Tassels

Our Pastor spoke on these same concepts today, so I thought I’d repost this article from May 3, 2006. Tassels

photo credit: ratterrell

tzitzitRead Numbers 15 – 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’ “

God tells Moses to tell the people that they are supposed to put tassels on the corners of their clothes so that they can be constantly reminded that they are supposed to live like God has told them to. Anyway, if you were a Jew in those days, you’d see people wearing these tassels all throughout the day and when you saw them, you remembered that you were one of God’s people.

The Hebrew word for “corners” is “kanaf” and the Hebrew word for “tassel” or “fringe” is “tzitzit.”

Tzitzit_1 Many Jews wear a prayer shawl today in order to keep this commandment. The tassels today have 5 knots in them representing the 5 books of the Torah (Our first five books) and the four spaces between them represent the four letter for God’s name YHWH. Along the shawl there are also 613 knotted strings to remind them of the 613 laws of the torah.

Now check out Malachi 4 – But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.

The Hebrew word translated “wings” is “kanaf.” Now what do you think?? This means that the verse could be translated “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its ______.” (Tassels.)

Now because of this there was a legend that people began to believe about the coming Messiah which said that there would be some kind of mysterious almost magical healing powers in the tassels of his prayer shawl.

Now read Luke 8 – As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Pretty cool huh? Did you catch it? The woman believed the legend and actually touched Jesus’ “tzitzit,” His tassles, His “kanaf.” In her actions she was proclaiming that she believed He was the Messiah. This is why Jesus was so quick to say “Your faith has healed you!” Her action alone was a huge expression of faith.