Where Do You Find God?

Where is God 2

The writer of Hebrews says “God rewards those who sincerely look for him.”

All human beings have one thing in common.
It’s to connect to their creator.

That’s why humans can act extremely strange and erratic.
They may act in destructive ways to deny that desire or they may act in strange ways to try to fulfill that desire to connect.

There’s an old song “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places.”

I think that in our world, in religious circles and even in my own life, we are many times looking for God in all the wrong places.

Sometimes I’m looking for God in a worship experience or in a teaching or in a class or in a particular religion but I am reminded of the words of Jesus:

“I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”

The words seem so simple, the instructions uncomplicated.

I was just recently in Seattle and I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Jesus called, he wants his religion back.”

Embarrassingly, religion spends billions of dollars every year on buildings, politics, programs, rituals and war, trying to find God when the truth is God is around every corner.

He’s the homeless person needing shelter.
She’s the abused mom looking for safety.
He’s the dying aids patient hoping for someone to care.
She’s the prostitute begging for intimacy.
He’s your neighbor wondering what life is all about.
It’s your co-worker fighting depression.
It’s the forgotten elderly couple who children never visit, barely getting by on their social security check.

Tradition says that when St. Francis of Assisi turned his back on wealth to seek God in simplicity, he stripped naked and walked out of the city. Now I don’t recommend the stripping naked part, but the story says that he soon encountered a leper on the side of the road. He passed him and then went back and embraced the diseased man.  St. Francis then continued on his journey and after a few steps he turned to look again at the leper but no one was there. For the rest of his life he believed the leper was Jesus and I think he was right.

JESUS IN ALL HIS DISGUISES.

Author Max Lucado says, “Jesus lives in the forgotten. He has taken up residence in the ignored. He has made a mansion amidst the ill. If we want to see God we must go among the broken and beaten and there we will see them, we will see HIM.”

If that is the case, then it’s easier to find God than we think.

The Power of an Orange Chair

isolated chair

THIS FREE DOWNLOADABLE BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE SELFLESS, PASSIONATE, GENEROUS SERVANTS OF GREEN VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH  http://www.live58.org/7mandates

I am a hungry student of Grace.

When I began to explore grace, it changed my world. It made me less religious and more graceful (except on the dance floor).

Grace made me less critical of others and more committed to growing my heart. Grace made me less fearful.

I became less exclusive and much more inclusive after realizing grace is for everyone.

I discovered freedom.

Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.” But I think Jack was wrong. I think we can handle it. It can be scary—counter-intuitive—but it will set you free!

For those of you who have been hurt, shamed, abused and manipulated in the name of God, I am so sorry!

My heart breaks daily as I live in this paradox of being a pastor, yet see the hypocrisy in our religious world and even in my own heart.

But don’t run away from grace. Don’t run away from the truth that can set you free.

My life changed forever in college when I discovered grace.

The rest of the world operates on Karma. You get what you deserve.

But Jesus came and offered us this amazing, wonderful gift called grace, where we get something better than what we deserve.

Since grace happened to me, I don’t judge other’s beliefs or religions; I just hope they someday discover grace, because Jesus cut through all religious ceremonies and traditions to get to the heart of the matter. We need grace.

He did the only thing that could be done to get grace. It was the crucifixion.

This book aims to bring credibility back to the church and to obey Jesus’ call to share grace in tangible ways to our world.

Credibility comes from obeying Jesus’ teaching to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the rejected, touch the untouchable, fight for the abused, and take care of the widow and orphan.

When the church begins to share God’s grace in those tangible ways, credibility will come back to the church.

This is my life mission and my life goal.

It’s all Grace,

Ken Burkey
Senior Pastor–Green Valley Community Church
burkeyk@gvcconline.net
http://www.kenburkey.com
twitter @kenburkey

THIS FREE DOWNLOADABLE BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE SELFLESS, PASSIONATE, GENEROUS SERVANTS OF GREEN VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH   http://www.live58.org/7mandates

The #1 Reason We Don’t See Miracles

jesus-heals-a-blind-man3

Simple answer: WE JUDGE.

Even though Jesus stated very succinctly, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others and the standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

Yet we still judge.
What kind of lifestyle do they have?
What political party do they belong to?
What kind of responsibility have they taken in their life?
What kind of faith do they cling to?
What theology do they hold?

WE JUDGE and often times, very subtly and smugly, we decide who should receive a miracle.

The prophets never said, “Love, serve and defend if you approve of the way they are living”, or “Love, serve and defend if you think they deserve it”, or “Love, serve and defend if you think they will appreciate it.”

They just declared, “LOVE, SERVE, DEFEND!”

Judging might help justify not getting involved.

In the ninth chapter of John, the disciples ask Jesus whose fault was it that a man was born blind.

They inquired, “Was it his fault or his parents?”

2000 years later we could ask, “Jesus, why was this little boy born HIV positive? Whose fault is it? Why was this young girl born in a dangerous, drug infested no hope neighborhood? Whose fault is it? Why have these kids, on the border of Mexico, been orphaned? Whose fault is it anyway? Why are people addicted? Why are people homeless? Why are people lonely? Whose fault is it?”

Nothing wrong with asking why, but we can get stuck on the why and justify our lack of involvement by judging.
They were promiscuous.
They were lazy.
They were sinful.

We can get so theologically convoluted, we can miss the whole point and more tragically we can miss the miracle.

Jesus answered his disciples, “It was not anyone’s fault. This man was born blind, so that God’s mercy could be demonstrated.”
And a miracle happened. The blind man’s eyes were opened.

I don’t know the answers to all the “whys” of this world but I do know this:

When a baby born HIV positive is offered God’s mercy by being given an antiretroviral drug, a miracle happens.

When a prostitute is offered God’s mercy by being loved by a local church and given support, resources and life skills to change her life, a miracle happens.

When a homeless person is offered God’s mercy by being given shelter, food and transportation, a miracle happens.

When a foster child is offered God’s mercy by being given a healthy home and support system, a miracle happens.

When a person far from faith is offered God’s mercy in a grace-filled church service, a miracle happens.

There are a lot of dark places of judging in our world today.
There are a lot of hopeless people who have been judged.
There are a lot of people who don’t know where to turn for help and the church has too often judged “who” they are and “why” they are where they are at, to decide if they are worthy of being offered God’s mercies and miracles.

Jesus asks people of faith to not judge. It’s that simple.
The book of James in the New Testament reminds us, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

It is important to remember what the scriptures DO NOT say:

Treat those that work for you fairly and give them what they earn…if the economy is good.

Share your food with the hungry…if they are thankful.

Shelter those who are helpless, poor and destitute…if it wasn’t their fault.

Clothe those who are cold…if they are working on their issues.

Don’t hide from relatives who need your help…if they will pay you back.

Love those who are hurting…as long as you approve of their lifestyle.

Make sure those who are in prison know they are not alone…as long as they say they are sorry.

The scriptures are very clear:
Care for the orphan.
Defend the widow.
Rescue the girl that has been sex-trafficked.
Love the foreigner.
Invite into your home the alien.
Visit the prisoner.
Accept the rejected.
Lift off the burdens of people who have been crushed by religion.

No caveats. Just do it.
Offer mercy so miracles can happen.

We have all been created equal so I have a question for you. What race, socioeconomic, political, religious, lifestyle or age group do you struggle with judging?

A gay person?
A democrat?
A homeless person?
A drunk?
A republican?
A Muslim?
A relative?
A neighbor?
A co-worker?

I challenge you to offer them mercy, let God break your heart and prepare for a miracle.

Sometimes the greatest way we can start to offer mercy is to pray!

One of the most powerful prayers I have read was uncovered from the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Ravensbruck was a concentration camp built in 1939 for women.
Over 90,000 women and children perished in Ravensbruck, murdered by the Nazis.
Corrie Ten Boom, who wrote “The Hiding Place”, was imprisoned there too.

The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says: “Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”

Wow! That last line gives me chills and brings with it a deep conviction to my heart.

I really do believe the #1 reason we do not see miracles is because we judge instead of offer mercy.

Luckily, God did not let the “who” or the “why” get in the way of his mercy.

The words of Brennan Manning share with us the gracious mercy of God that led to the ultimate miracle that reverberates throughout the infinity of time.

“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. (see Revelation 7:9)

I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son.

I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives.

I shall see the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions.

I shall see the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love.

I shall see the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

‘But how?’ we ask. Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

There they are. There ‘we’ are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”

Have You Seen Him Lately?

Every Person

When Jesus walked this earth he was seen by sinners, saints, rich, poor, insiders, outsiders, Jews, gentiles, believers and non-believers.

In John chapter one, he records, “The Word(Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory.”

We have seen his glory.

I think of the woman at the well, the shame of five failed marriages, an outcast in her own village, soul parched and empty, going back to tell them about this man she had met, transformed by his gentleness and grace, embraced by salvation’s story, declaring His kindness is better than life and this Samaritan woman sees his glory.

I think of the Prodigal son, ashamed of his past, hopeless in his present and fearful of his future, sitting at the banquet table that was set for his return, overwhelmed by his father’s unreasonable mercy, renewed by his Abba’s love and this rebellious, forgiven prodigal sees his glory.

I think about Zaccheaus, insecure, empty, shallow, crooked, betrayer of his own people, sliding down the lookout tree as fast as he could, generosity springing forth out of his bones, transformed by God’s patience, going home to have dinner with the giver of undeserved gifts and this remorseful tax collector sees his glory.

I think of the woman, ashamed of her past, tears in her eyes, anointing the feet of the one who did not judge her.
And while the religious voyeurs are scoffing and condemning, hearts of stone, the son of man looks deep in her eyes and for the first time there is a man who does not want to take something from her but wants to give her everlasting worth and she is restored by her master’s touch and this abused woman see his glory.

I think of 10 men, full of sores, untouchable, being touched by Emanuel, God with us, no longer exiled, future renewed, dignity restored by Jehovah’s power. And strangely, only one comes back to thank him and this grateful, healed man sees his glory.

I think the same gentleness and grace, the same unreasonable mercy, the same undeserved gifts, the same everlasting worth and healing power is available to every broken, rebellious, wayward, ailing, greedy, lust filled, wronged and mistreated person today when we choose to SEE and RECEIVE HIS GLORY.

Have you seen Jesus and his glory lately?

Today, we see Jesus dwelling among us and glimpses of his glory through the church.

When a man, homeless, broken by drugs, hopeless about the future, shows up to church on a Sunday morning, and instead of being judged is served, loved and given shelter, we see the hands and feet of Jesus, dwelling among us and in a tender, affecting way, we have seen his glory.

When a family, devastated from the loss of their teenage son, receives gentle love and deep care by a group of selfless volunteers called the funeral support and grief share team, amidst the sadness and the tears, we see the hands and feet of Jesus, dwelling among us, and in a heartbreaking, counterintuitive way, we have seen his glory.

When broken couples get fixed, wandering students find direction, empty bellies get filled, tired hearts get renewed, restless souls find peace, guilt ridden lives get set free, and lonely wanderers find a home, over and over, we see the hands and feet of Jesus, dwelling among us, and in obvious ways and not so obvious ways, we have seen his glory.

Tell me some ways you have seen Jesus and his glory lately.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.” ― Teresa of Ávila

When the Church is at its Best

dig•ni•ty/ˈdignitē/ Noun: The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

What do a single senior veteran, a senior widow, a senior widower living alone suffering from Parkinson’s, a seniors mobile home park, another senior widow, a single woman who is trying to care for her quadriplegic father, a disabled senior man, another single senior woman, a transition house for girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking, another single senior woman, and 65 year old woman who is terminally ill with cancer that has metastasized throughout her body have in common?

They were all served by my church on a Saturday morning by about 120 volunteers.

Racking, mowing and weeding of yards and property, painting of homes, repairing of roofs, building of fences, replacing of trim from dry rot, building and staining of decks, the pouring of concrete to fit walkers and wheelchairs, cleaning and repairing inside of homes, repairing of retaining walls, installing of gutters and so much more were involved on this Saturday.

What else do these precious people have in common? Most of them have never attended any of our church services.

They are the forgotten people that our culture so easily throws away.

Jesus told us to take care of the forgotten, seemingly unimportant people in our neighborhoods.

I am thankful that my churches philosophy is to take care of “the least of these.”

I am also thankful that my churches philosophy is that we consider everyone who lives in our community part of our church, whether they attend our services or not.

I am grateful for these days of service, not just because we get to bless someone who needs help.

I am grateful for these days, selfishly, because I think we are the ones most blessed.

When the church is offering DIGNITY, I think it is at its best!

While these service projects were going on all around our community on this beautiful fall Saturday morning, there were some beautiful things happening on our church campus as well, that happen every Saturday morning, 52 weeks a year.

Around three hundred people were fed a warm breakfast, while waiting to pick up a bag of groceries and a bag of vegetables grown from our churches organic garden, to help them get through the week.

Around 1500 articles of clothing were given away from our clothing ministry.

These precious people consist of senior citizens, single parents, families going through difficult financial times and a portion who are homeless.

Every Saturday morning, people come through our doors and experience not only physical food but they also experience spiritual and emotional and relational food as they experience words of encouragement and hope, and are treated with God’s grace.

When the church is offering DIGNITY, I think it is at its best!

While this is happening inside our church, every Saturday our garden team shows up to help produce hundreds of pounds of potatoes, squash, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, cucumbers and so much more.

While this is happening at our garden, there is another ministry happening not far, cutting and splitting wood so that people will have warm homes during the cold winters.

Over the last few years, we have averaged giving away around 150 truck loads of wood to the elderly, single moms and to those who cannot afford to heat their homes.

A certain word comes to mind…DIGNITY!

On any given Saturday, over 100 volunteers make this happen. They would tell you it’s the best day of their week.

On Monday and Tuesday nights we have an auto ministry where men and women come and fix cars so they can be given to single parents, families and seniors who are in need of reliable transportation to get them to work, to school, to the doctor and even to church.

A certain word comes to mind…DIGNITY!

I love my church.

We are not perfect, but I see so many volunteers using their time, strengths and resources to bring dignity to those that are overlooked and marginalized.

I see how loving people in tangible, practical ways, in Jesus name (dignity) is transforming lives and changing our community.

I see homeless people getting back on their feet and finding jobs and being able to afford shelter. (Dignity)

I see addicted people being set free from the burden of addictions. (Dignity)

I see lonely, forgotten senior citizens finding new hope and new friendships. (Dignity)

I see single moms, overwhelmed by the pace of life, being offered resources to keep them going, allowing them to not give up, but to finish their race. (Dignity)

I see people who were far from God, entering into a new eternal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. (Dignity)

I see people who came to our church to get help, resources and hope (Dignity), now offering that same help, resources and hope (Dignity) to others.

I see the impact my church has in our community through the selfless acts of hundreds of volunteers and I often ask this one question.

With around 450,000 churches in the United States, I wonder what our country would look like if every church would get involved in a volunteer revolution offering in Jesus name, dignity.

In the words of Bill Wilson, “We want God to touch our country, but God is asking us to touch our country.”

When the church is offering DIGNITY, I think it is at its best!

And I think our country and world is at its best when the church is at its best.

Just a few thoughts, let me know what you think?

5 Things Every Church Should Do (Part 2)

The second thing every church should and must do is to lead the way in caring for the homeless.

And I am not talking about occasionally doing something nice for people who do not have shelter.

I am not talking about dabbling in niceness with a yearly thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Though, that is a good start.

I am not talking about doing flybys where the homeless live.

I am not talking about waiting to see what the local government is going to do for those who are homeless and then complain that they are not doing enough.

I AM talking about fully engaging in discovering what the true needs are for those without shelter.

I AM talking about building long term relationships with people who for many diverse reasons have found themselves in this difficult situation.

I AM talking about the church leading the way, by example, in investing in people who God has mandated us to take care of, by providing food, clothing, shelter, life skill classes and more.

I AM talking about the church inviting the homeless into their church services, treating them like the very brother and sisters they are.

God instructed the church in Isaiah 58 to:

”Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

Then God gives us amazing promises and blessings to us if we do those things:

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal.”

”Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.”

“Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.”

“Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.”

“Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

Pretty cool promises and blessings if we get involved in the things God is passionate about.

Over the years God has blessed the church I go to, not because we are more holy than others, and not because we are smarter or better than anyone else.

I think God has blessed my church because it tries to take the words from Isaiah 58 seriously.

Every Saturday morning there is a service held in our Café, where a lesson is given, a free breakfast is served, groceries and fresh vegetables from our organic garden are given and clothes are offered to those who are in need.

On average, each Saturday morning, around 250 breakfasts are served, 150 bags of groceries are taken and around 1500 articles of clothing are given away.

This happens while relationships are being built and volunteer pastoral partners pray with families who are going through difficult times.

Focusing on others needs also allows our faith to grow and our priorities to change.

On one weekend, during the middle of winter, our clothing director told me that they needed men’s shoes to give to men who were spending a lot of time out in the elements with inadequate protection for their feet.

I announced at our 4 weekend services that we needed men’s shoes and not the stinky, worn out shoes that we eventually get rid of. I told them we need nice shoes that will bring warmth and dignity for our guests.

It was one of the most memorable weekends I have been a part of.

Men, as they were leaving the services, were taking off their shoes, their nice shoes, many worth over $100, and leaving them in our lobby and walking out to their cars in the pouring rain.

Over 200 pairs of shoes were left that day. One man told me that as he drove home in his wet socks it helped him have greater compassion for those who live out in cold, wet conditions.

He told me it challenged him to simplify his life and to be more thankful for how blessed he was.

One family, after one of the services, drove to a local sporting goods store and bought a couple dozen pairs of tennis shoes and brought them back quietly and left not wanting to get the credit.

Not all the people attending our Saturday morning breakfast are homeless, but these resources help people prioritize their finances keeping them in their homes.

But for those who are homeless, it allows them to eat a warm meal, hear a hope-filled message and begin to build healthy relationships.

It helps them make connections to resources, people and classes that will help them get back on their feet and find shelter.

Steve and Kelly Stockwell and Tom and Janice Carney are leading the way in how the church should respond to the plight of the homeless.

They have helped put a face to the reality of homelessness and have helped us understand the complexity, challenges and even the prejudices and wrong stereotyping that those without shelter face.

This last year during the winter season, several churches in our area created a rotating shelter, where those who wanted shelter could stay at the designated church for the evening.

Our church hosted our guests on Thursday and Friday nights. What a blessing it was for us. I think it was a blessing for them also.

Thursday nights worked well because we have Celebrate Recovery on those nights, so those who struggle with hurts, habits and hang-ups could show up to the service, learn, grow, heal and overcome, and then stay on campus and have a warm, dry place to sleep.

Friday nights worked well because our guests would spend the night and then wake up to our Saturday morning service, which we call “Common Ground” where they would receive that warm breakfast, groceries, clothing, prayer and love.

One man, this last winter, had found himself homeless because of addictions. He was a self-proclaimed agnostic, and then he began to watch how churches were opening their doors to him and praying for him, and he was blown away.

By spring, attending Celebrate Recovery he became a follower of Jesus and is now making amends with those he had burned bridges with.

One of my concerns about having a central shelter in a community is that many times it gives the local church an out.

I have talked to people in other communities who run shelters and they have trouble getting churches to get involved.

And if they do, they have a few people come to the shelter, but they do not have the homeless come to the church.

I think the power of community, healing and hope will happen when the church begins to open its doors and services to those that have been marginalized and forgotten.

This is just my opinion right now, but I don’t think we need to spend millions on a shelter when in every community, shelter and hundreds of thousands of square feet have already been built.

It is called the local church.

How many square feet in local churches sit there empty 90% of the time?

Don’t get me going on this one, but we don’t need more shelters, we need to open the doors of the shelters we already have.

It is time for the church to truly be the hands, feet and shelter that God has asked us to be.

It is time to reintroduce the meaning of “sanctuary.”

We have enough square feet.
We have enough shelter.
We have enough resources.

But do we have enough faith and guts to invite these precious people into the places we worship?

It is time the church leads the way.
It will be messy.
It will be blessed.
It is where we meet Jesus.

“Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

The second thing every church should and must do is to lead the way in caring for the homeless.

Check out tomorrow as I will write about the third thing every church should do.

The World Needs More Parties

God loves to party.

The Old Testament is filled with parties.

Jesus said that Heaven has a party every time someone decides to follow him.
Jesus spent a lot of time at parties with friends and soon to be friends.

When Jesus was at parties, it bothered the religious leaders of the day who seemed to have their halos on a little too tight.

God’s parties are a lot better than other kinds of parties.

You will never have a bad hangover after one of God’s parties.
You will never have any regrets after one of God’s parties.
You will never find yourself lying on the floor around the toilet making deals with God after one of God’s parties. (Some of you who attended college know exactly what I mean.)

God’s parties are regret free, energizing and can be very addictive.

Tony Campolo writes about John Carlson, a pastor in Minnesota, who gained national attention when he came up with an innovative idea that there should be a special party the night of the senior prom for those who did not have dates.

The pain of not getting asked to the prom can be very demoralizing.

Usually these kids have taken years of abuse at their school as being outsiders and the prom simply provides the finishing blow.

John Carlson thought this was not the kind of party that Jesus would have liked.
It was too exclusive. It seemed to be reserved for the beautiful and the popular.

John planned an alternative prom called the reject prom.
Those who did not have dates were especially invited and the kids loved it.

The reject prom was held the same night as the senior prom and it turned out to be far more fun than the actual senior prom.

Each year the numbers grew. The party got press coverage. The reject prom began to get corporate sponsorship.

It wasn’t long before some of the kids who could get dates and go to the “normal” prom decided not to go.

They preferred to join in the good time that the “rejects” were having at their party.

Tony writes “It’s the kind of party that God ordered in Deuteronomy 14:22-30, where the special orders were to make widows, orphans, the crippled and the blind the guests of honor!!”

Jesus’ party instructions were, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

One of the biggest “Jesus” parties that I have had the privilege of being a part of recently was my churches Thanksgiving Banquet.

It was for those who were going through difficult economic times.
It was for the lonely, the elderly, the forgotten, the homeless or anybody who just needed a warm meal.

People came expecting a food line where they would be handed food and told to keep moving.

What they experienced was something totally different.

We had decorated our food café with linen table clothes, some of our best china and gorgeous centerpieces.

We had happy live music playing.

We had greeters at the door dressed in black and white, who welcomed our guests and directed them to their assigned table where their hosts greeted them as their dinner guests.

Separate servers served drinks, and volunteer chefs cooked the most exquisite five-star thanksgiving meal with some of the most fattening desserts that could be made.

Our guests sat, relaxed, laughed, filled their stomachs and felt valued and loved.

We ended up feeding 500 guests that day, with about 150 volunteers, serving, cooking, welcoming, singing, laughing and crying together!

It was an event that is reshaping the way we do parties.
It has changed the way we do our weekly food and clothing giveaway.

I met one gentleman that day who was all alone.

He had burned bridges with his grown-up kids because of his alcohol addiction.
He was blown away that the banquet was for him.
He came back the next week to church and told me he had not had a drink since the banquet.
I began to see him every week after the banquet and 6 months later, he has still not had a drink.
His kids have noticed a huge change in him, and as I write this, he is having regular visits with his kids and reconciliation is happening.

It started simply with a “Jesus” party.

Jesus said, “Listen, if you follow me, don’t throw parties for people who can give you something back in return for that will be your reward. Throw parties and invite people who can’t do any thing for you, and not only will they be blessed but then I will be the one to reward you.”

I don’t think the world is partying too much.
I just think they are having the wrong kind of parties!

I think the church should find ways to party more often.

I challenge you to carve out time from your busy schedule to get involved with more “Jesus” parties.

You will experience an addiction that you will not want or need to overcome.