Unpacking Selma…

A little over two weeks ago, my wife and I and kids relocated to Alabama. As we previously wrote, this wasn’t an easy transition, nor are we moving to a place where we currently have family residing there.

But here we are…and there is a lot to unpack.
I am working in one of the poorest communities in the country.
It feels like a mission field…and yet despite the whole “stay at home order” the people I have met (from a relatively safe distance) have been really friendly and polite. It must be a Southern thing.

Before I took this position, I met the board of directors along with the chairman of the board. He explained to me that Selma’s history is both a blessing and a curse. That despite the nationwide fame for the horrific Bloody Sunday incident on March 7th, 1965 which thrust Selma into the forefront of the civil rights movement, Selma has one of the highest poverty rates in the country – a curse of living through such a deeply entrenched historic moment…it tends to seep into the very foundations of the sidewalks and old yawning New Orleans styled buildings on Broad street, and on over the grotesquely named ‘Edmund Pettus’ Bridge (named after Edmund Winston Pettus who was a senior Confederate army soldier and an active Ku Klux Klan grand dragon member…for real?! – yes, the very same).


People don’t tend to forget those moments in history, nor should we. And here I am, working in the shadows of that history. I say that not to sound like a martyr, but rather an observer of a place which seems to be frozen in a time capsule. Many of the families who serve as foster parents for our organization are bridges of hope and love in such a cursed climate. They take in children regardless of race, creed or color. Many of the cases contain horror stories of abuse, while these would be saints work to help heal deep wounds of children who should be too young to know such hurt.

I am soaking all of this in right now.
There is certainly sobering brevity in it all.
But there is also levity from our amazing case workers who work tirelessly to ensure all children we serve are protected, cared for and have an opportunity for a better life.

I am just checking in to let you know that we are still here.
Even though we have changed addresses and zip codes, and yes, even uniforms…we are still here serving people in need. I am so thankful thus far for this journey. There will most definitely be days when I question everything. There will be speed bumps along the way, and maybe a flat tire or two…but God is good. He is still on the throne, and even in this time of great uncertainty with COVID19 (I’m sick of even saying or typing it)…We have the assurance of God’s very presence with us no matter where we are, or where we serve.

Until next time.
-From Selma AL.
I’m still Pondering…

The Death of a Fallow Prayer Life…

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14

I was cleaning our kitchen yesterday.
With four children this is almost an everyday occurrence. If not, dishes tend to pile up and creates a chaotic leaning tower of Pisa sort of mess. Anyway, I digress…As I was washing off dishes and putting them into our dishwasher, I looked up at the windowsill and noticed our non-thriving plants. They were all dead. We might make excuses about these dead plants. Perhaps we might say that they are simply dormant in the winter. Or maybe they just needed to be pruned back for the season. A few more excuses come to mind, but in reality these plants are simply dead. They were once promising green, thriving plants in pots and sun lamps. Many on the cusp of producing some sort of fruit or vegetable. Yet, due to our travel schedule and our lack of green thumbs, they have shriveled up and were husks of their former living selves.

I am reminded that this is a living parable (pun intended)…for myself. I feel as if the Lord teaches us through the world around us – like my plant pots holding dead things in them. Caskets containing death instead of nourished soil of growth. I am drawn to this life lesson. It is something simplistic and yet stark in its reminder to me. For I am sometimes this casket containing death, when I should be a vessel containing life.

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In my prayer life…
My un-uttered words.

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my parched lips and forgotten promises to God.
My prayer life can look like husks of its former self.
Dried up.
Dehydrated out of lack of spiritual water and nourishment.
Neglected and empty.

How many times have I forgotten to go back to the Living Water?

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How many times have I gotten so busy in the concerns, fears, transitions and schedules of life that I have simply left my conversations to God to go fallow life I harvested fields? And before I know it, the once rich, dark vibrant soil is now cracked and as dry as bones in a desert. From this neglect enters apathy, harsh words spoken out of frustration and shallow roots.

Have you stood on this fallow ground?
Is this you? I know that I have found my shamed identity here.
what are the conversations that you have neglected with God? He desires to nourish your life again.
He longs to shine on the soul-soil and help you grow once more.

For me?
I am convicted here.
I find myself licking my parched, cracked lips in longing for that Living Water once more. I feel the guilt and shame of leaving Him out of my life…and I must seek Him out again. I must return to His living water and replenish my mind, body, soul.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, create in me a clean heart once more.
Renew in my a right spirit again.
Re-hydrate my broken, crumble soil.
I long to find rest and rejuvenation in you anew.
Re-ignite your passion and compassion in me.
Take away the casket of death and flood my heart with life and love.
Here I am, spark in me the joy of your salvation once again.
Lord, bring your Living Waters once more.

Something more to ponder today.
Be Blessed and thrive not just survive!

When Words Fail Us…

Ten…?!
(has it really been that long?)
years ago
words evaporated…
they were ushered
off tattered pages…
where silence,
like a vacuum
filling that space
As if the Lamb,
foretold in Revelation
breaking that
seventh seal
and words failed then too.
Words broken
dared not uttered
too immense the scene,
too deep the stain
of the end of all things…

We do not
dwell here much…
for pain
still resides.
lives here full time
dark residue
tarnished the festive
multi-colored lights
as one of its brightest
was extinguished,
how long will the
shadow be cast
long and mournful?

The words caught
in my throat,
ten years ago…
I choked on them
I couldn’t breathe
as, eyes stinging,
wet with tears
buried the sorrow
deep as the fallen snow.
Words will never
quantify such grief…

words are never enough
they will not
fill that void
that shadow
that empty space
that bright star
now missing,
extinguished way
too soon.

And still
this space
is tender and sore.
The hurt
runs miles deep
where no light can
enter,
no utterances
can reach its depths.
Ah, but memories,
still vivid
brilliant and terrifying
imbues us with its
sorrow here…
where words
still
fail us.

In loving memory of Deb Fiorini…we will always miss you, but in our rememberings you are still here in this space between in our hearts.

“The Art of Reconstruction”

There other day, while dropping off my children at school, I had an epiphany. It wasn’t some sort of vision from heaven like Isaiah did in chapter six of his book, but rather a visual lesson that I feel God shared with me. First of all, let me preface this with saying that I’m not the typical “God sent me a vision” sort of person…It’s not something that typically occurs, nor am I out there looking for signs from Heaven (although maybe I should start).

So I’m driving to my children’s school and out of the corner of my eye I see one of the many beautiful properties that surround the neighborhood where I live and it is currently under construction.

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You might be saying to yourself, “okay, that doesn’t really seem like an epiphany or even anything remotely resembling a vision.”
Bear with me…

As I view this sight in front of me, I have one of those “ah-ha moments”. The kind that occurs when something or everything just seems to fall into place and finally makes sense. Have you ever had one of those? This specific “ah-ha moment” happens in an instant but the scenario takes time marinate and unfold in my brain:

There were many workers all over that home and property. All of them doing their jobs, but out in front of the home there was this huge eye-sore. It was a very large mountain of rubble. It was all rubbish, old bricks, ruined mortar, dirt and anything else considered to be elements of the old, discarded pile that could not be salvaged or reused in the rebuild.

From an outsider’s perspective this pile of garbage was all that I could focus on. It was all that I could see. The old, yet beautiful home was in severe disrepair as the reconstruction was taking place. It did not look inviting nor habitable in that current state. From the untrained eye, such as I am, the entire structure and surrounding property looked to be now worthless and nonrecoverable. Was I right in thinking this? Well, in that specific moment – yes. It was not a place that was presently livable…and yet I was also completely and utterly wrong. I had a limited window of vision (pun intended). What limited understanding and concept of patience within this reconstruction was obvious. But the funny thing about reconstruction is, well, the RE… It is being REbuilt, REestablished, REmodeled, REnewed.

I imagine that is what Nehemiah’s vision for Jerusalem was all about. He saw the rubble, he wept over the condition of the exiles and their capital city and he determined to do something about it. He envisioned what the completed walls would once again look like. Then in chapter 6 verses 15 and 16 of Nehemiah he saw the fruition of the reconstruction process, “So on October 2nd the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.

This is vision.
This is what it takes to tear away the broken down, molded over, ruined pieces of what once was so that the present and the future might soon exist again.

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Having vision is risky. Having vision involves living with the eye-sore in the temporary so that the permanent might have a firm foundation that will last. Having vision means that there will be opposition with limited to no imagination of what the future should or could look like contrary to what has been already known. Having vision means there will be tears shed, there will be heartache, sleepless nights, passions expressed and sometimes disagreements shared. It is often the road less traveled because an easier route is present. That easier road is all about preserving the crumbling foundation for as long as possible. Protecting what was instead of investing in what can be. The easier road is the band-aid for a life and career preserved instead a life and career freely given. It is the bowing out of responsibility over that of image, reputation and prominence. If we are not prepared for the fall out and rubble then we ought not tread on property soon to be under construction, and instead take the easier route.

Reconstruction disturbs present in order to survive and to thrive in the future. (Sorry Catherine Booth, I took some liberties there)…

So where is the art within this reconstruction?
Let me just say that this metaphor of construction is being applied in principal to organizational structure and re-organizational structure…

3 Principals Within The Art of Reconstruction:

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1) Innovation from the first floor...
There is a tendency within organizations to only listen to the top tier leadership, while those on the ground, or first floor have just as much of a vested interest, if not more. After all, who will eventually replace the current leadership and cast the vision for a future generation? The answer? – those currently on the first floor.

In order to win at the reconstruction process (and by win I mean succeed) there needs to be an investment in innovation from the ground floors. Those companies that allow freedom of thought, creativity and innovation to be utilized see a far more harmonious and successful organization all around. When these characteristics are encouraged and cultivated there is a deepening of the foundations, a re fortification of the walls and a better chance at a lasting reconstruction to the organization.

The key is, though, not to placate or pretend to involve the first floor if their innovations and thoughts will not ultimately be considered or used. For if this is the case, then just stop the pretenses and plod on with your own self-designed vision. Chances are, you will already have lost members of your team and you will only discourage free-thinking innovators under the guise of first floor innovation. In other words, let your yes be yes and your no be no and stop pretending to include others if your organizational system doesn’t allow it…it is disingenuous and disparaging to pretend other voices matter.

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2) Sharing the labor and vision
The structures of successful companies and organizations stem from the group as a whole and not a messiah leader at the top. Let’s be frank, there was only one Jesus and we are not Him…although we ought to strive to live like Him. Therefore, perhaps this emulation of Jesus ought to also be present in the office, board room and beyond. Taking this one step further, what would it look like organizationally if we were to emulate the Acts 2 Church? Their purpose was to live in community with one another, help each other, share the good news and it says that many were added to their numbers daily. (Acts 2:47)

Today, we compete against each other, we compare our responsibilities and “privileges” with that of others and we vie for position of ever increasing responsibility and power. This is certainly a drab account of things, but it is fairly accurate by and large? So what is missing in the reconstruction and rebuilding? I believe it is the Cornerstone – Jesus and our pure Christ-like attitudes. If we are to experience a successful reconstruction and/or realignment of mission, we cannot move without this piece first being present. When we have a shared labor, and a committed unified vision, then and only then are we able to put that newly constructed wall up…because the footings and foundation is deeply rooted in the Cornerstone of Christ and Godly principals of observed and put into practice.

3) Include Opposing Views

Are we really looking intently at change or are we just looking for ideas that share our already decided conclusions? It can be challenging to include those with whom you do not always see eye to eye with, but this kind of tension and resistance is healthy to organizations. The mark of true leadership is the willingness to include and to listen to opposing thoughts, ideas and opinions.

To be fair, those views and opinions may not always be correct, and we may challenge notions that oppose our preconceived concepts and ideas…this friction and tension spurs on the creative juices of diversity and innovation in us all. We need this friction and we need to be challenged. This is a good thing to take place. If we are not willing to listen to opposing sides then our reconstruction could be in jeopardy, because dare I say, none of us are infallible.

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4) Celebrate Within the “Pardon Our Dust” Moments…
lastly, here’s a bonus principal in the art of reconstruction…it’s a freebie but very, very important nonetheless:
Celebrate within the “pardon our dust” moments. What do I mean by that? First this acknowledges that we do not currently have all of the answers or building pieces in place yet. AND THAT IS OKAY!!! Let’s not pretend to have it all worked out all of the time, because we are not fooling anyone with that facade. When we can celebrate the “baby steps” while actively engaged in these “pardon our dust” moments within the reconstruction, we are saying, “we aren’t where we use to be, and we aren’t where we want to be…but we are making process and we are heading in the right direction!” As a team, this means we have a desired completed project aim and while taking those steps it is important to see how far we’ve come, and to celebrate those micro-victories! This winning attitude brings confidence in the team around you, inspires others to keep moving forward and when we celebrate make it a point to honor and acknowledge those individual efforts that made it possible. When we celebrate the team and individuals who have helped spur the forward momentum, we are ensuring that momentum continues.

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Here’s another brick in the wall (sorry Pink Floyd)…something more for us to ponder together. Blessings on you!

Psalm 13 Revisited

O Lord, do not continue
this silent treatment for one more moment
for my heart can’t take it any longer.
My soul is a dried up husk of what it
used to be.
I cannot sleep, and when I do
my rest is filled with troubled dreams.

I have been looking,
ever searching for you…
why are you hiding?

I can not take
this hurt of abandonment
any more,
O Lord hear my
gasping,
lung-rattling cries.
I cannot shed anymore
tears, for the well
has dried up.

And my thoughts,
they are running circles
around my broken heart…

I keep second-guessing you,
I keep pleading for this horror to end
How long, O Lord, will you let it fester
and consume me?
I don’t think I can
make it much longer.

But even after all of this…

even if You never answer my cry…

even if I am left alone
on this hill to die on…

I will trust.

I will put all that I have
of my wilting
strength into
your Eternal hands.

But Lord,
wake me up,
Help me see even the
remotest chance
of victory.

Help me see the Light
at the end
of all of this…
even if it comes
in the last moments
in the final dying gasp
of these feeble lungs.

My enemies are already starting to jeer
And they are celebrating my demise
…and yours as well.
They cannot wait for me to fall flat
on my face
in disgrace
and embarrassment.

But even if that happens…
even if I walk this
cold, dark alley alone,
I will trust
in your unfailing,
immeasurable
eternal love…

I know that You will come
You have always
kept your promises
to me.

You have always
been good to me…
even in this dark place…
O Lord, please come.

(As I read this Psalm of David, I could feel the anticipation and fear, perhaps even a little bit of frustration. We have all been to this place, perhaps the circumstances are different than that of David’s, but within these phrases there flows an emotion that we can all relate to. It is within this vein, that I have placed my needle and poked us all…perhaps in the bleeding we might see not only the very real presence of pain and fear, but more importantly – God’s holy and eternal presence…He will never leave us or forsake us.).

-Something more to ponder today.

Living In Boxes

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.
― Shel Silverstein

I fear we have often times fixated on the impossible and the improbable in our lives so much so that we have been conditioned to dream limited dreams.
We pay more attention to our limits while ignoring the unlimited creativity God has given to us. It is far easier to remain in the “what is known” which is a place of comfort and familiarity, as opposed to taking risks into the “what is unknown”, where our mettle will be truly tested and often times doubts reside.

But…

Isn’t that where God calls us to?

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We cannot always live on the mountain…
for when we stand within the shadows of the valleys – our true persistence, endurance, fortitude and self-realization is put to the test. Rubber – meets road. Theories are naked and vulnerable. Dreams, and half-baked ideas are born, kicking and screaming and we are met with the ‘doing’, the verbs of our adjectives, the dirt under half-bitten-out-of-stress finger nails, the tension of the borderland of what is known and the mystery of the untested, yet-to-be-unleashed, uncertainty of tomorrow “unknown”.

It is in the throws of conflict, labor, action after dream, tumult after tranquility that we find exhilaration in actual living.

Boxes are ripped open…
These four square walls of ruts and routines,
well worn trails of tradition, shoes worn thin in
the same hallways day after day…Is
turned upside down.
toss on its head.
Head-over-tea kettle.

And we breathe deeply fresh, unknown air.
God takes us onto these paths.
Breaks our traditions.
All the while constantly walking alongside us,
whispering His love, and encouragement.


Without the tension – faith is fat and lazy.
without the trials – persistence and endurance is sloth on the couch
eating potato chips.
without the fear of walking – the infant will never grow and develop
into its full potential as an adult.

God leads us out of our boxes…
for a purpose.
So we don’t don the robes of comfortable Pharisees;
content in passing judgement
but never truly risking anything.

God leads us out of our boxes…
so we can truly live.
so we learn to actually walk on our own.
so that we actually think for ourselves
so that this faith…
is our very own.

Are you in a box?
Perhaps it’s time to be served our eviction notices…
so that God, in all of His excellent glory
might lead us into Greater things.

Talk. (a poem)

There are days that I can’t be lone.
Alone with my own thoughts.
Thoughts that bind.
blind.
rewind my mind
until I find that I am helplessly
reliving regrets from my past.

Like a chain around my throat
the thoughts haunt me.
Thoughts that chill.
See to kill.
Fulfill all my darkest fears
of “i’m not good enough”
and
“I’ll never measure up.”

Talk.


It’s like I’m lost in the darkest cave
no lights to light my way.
I can feel it breathing deep
creeping.
Sleep is a lost cause
until I find rest
But, empty and cold
I am attempting to deafen
its voice.

My choice?
I can’t divorce this
escape this
I confess
I don’t want to be alone
with my thoughts.
So…
Come talk to me.

The Lightning and the Valley of the Shadow of Death…

I recently came across the story of Major Walter Summerford who was a British officer in the early 1900’s and he fought in World War I. While galloping through a field in Belgium he was struck by lightening. One would think that one lightening strike would be more than enough for one lift time, and for the most part you would be right. But in the case of Major Walter Summerford, this was only his first encounter of the mass voltage from the sky.

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Major Walter Summerford



After Walter’s initial injury sustained from the lightning blast, he was forced to retire early because for a time he was paralyzed from the waist down. He relocated to Vancouver Canada where he began to enjoy early retirement with outdoor activities such as fishing. On one such day in 1924, he took fishing pole and bait in hand and set off towards his favorite fishing hole. He perched (no pun intended) himself under a tree and began fishing…unfortunately the tree that he had decided to sit under destined for…yes, you guessed it, a lightening strike. Major Walter Summerford was struck by lightening once again. Initially Major Summerford was paralyzed on one side of his body, but remarkably, after two years of healing he recovered from his injuries.

One would think that being struck, not once, but twice by lightning it could never happen again, but the remarkable thing is it did. Major Summerford was walking one evening in town when another bolt of lightning crashed from the heavens and, defying the odds, found its mark on the body of poor Major Walter Summerford. This time the lightning strike proved lethal and Major Summerford eventually succumbed to his injuries.

One would think that this is the end of the story, but unfortunately it is not.
The body of Major Walter Summerford was then interned at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. For four years his body was undisturbed until the spring of 1936 when his gravestone was once again struck by lightning. How could one be so unlucky some might ask.

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I find this story quite fascinating. We read of people and the trials that they have gone through and we wonder how they could ever overcome these difficulties. Some of us reading this right now have gone through or are currently going through difficulties and there are moments when we wonder if we will survive this (whatever ‘this’ is).

Our journey through the valley of the shadow of death isn’t always death itself. Sometimes it’s financial concerns. Other times it’s stress at work, or difficult coworkers, or problems with your children. We all find ourselves here in this valley. It’s almost as if we’ve been struck by lightning again and again and we wonder “Lord, why?” and then wonder if it could get any worse…and sometimes it does.

I know at this point it may not sound very encouraging, but bear with me.
We all go through the valley of the shadow of death.
We all experience terrible, horrible, no good very bad days.
We all wonder in times of great trial if God is really there with us, or if we can possibly handle another strike of lightning.

I am here to tell you that we can all make it through these dark times.
You aren’t alone in this journey.
You never were.
It may feel as if you have been, but you’re not alone.

God promised Moses and the Israelites that He would be with them,
My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
They had been through some very difficult things, many of the younger generations could only remember being slaves in Egypt. They had lived in this valley of the shadow of death all their lives.

Imagine experiencing your terrible, horrible, no good very bad day – EVERY DAY?!

The same God who promised that His presence would go with the Israelites also promises to go with us, and even in our times of trial He will provide us with the rest that we so desperately need.

How About You?
Do you feel as unlucky as Major Walter Summerford?
Does it feel like you’ve been kicked while you have been down?
I know at times it doesn’t seem fair and it is easy to become bitter and angry at your life’s circumstance, but remember that God is very near and He will never leave you or forsake you.

Prayer:
Lord, help me today in my stress and in my trials.
You know my breaking point, and my struggles.
Remind me when I feel all alone in this fight that I am not alone.
Cleanse my heart from all bitterness and unrighteous anger.
Guide me in my dark valley of the shadow of death and restore my soul.
In your name I pray these things.
Amen.

A Pastoral Pondering on Life, Death and Hope…

End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.” —J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

The telephone rang in my office. It was a darkening, rainy afternoon. The billowing clouds hung ominously outside, and in my heart there was also a tempest that was threatening to spill out into my life. It had been a hard couple of years in the ministry, and I had been contemplating my resignation as a pastor. I was frustrated, hurt, and very ready to pack it all in and call it quits. It was with a heavy heart that I picked up that ringing telephone and answered.

Little did I know that the prayer that I had been repeating in my mind and on my lips was about to be answered. – A local pastor was calling to donate some food to our corps because we had a large soup kitchen and we could always use the extra meals. I politely told the pastor that I would drive over to his church right away and collect the food. Isn’t it interesting how God knows just what we need even before we recognize it?

I made my way to his church and pulled into the driveway. The church was an older gray stone building with a traditional cross at the top, and the customary blue and red stained glass window that faced the busy street. I parked at the adjacent gymnasium structure and knocked on the front door. The pastor ambled to the door and upon seeing the uniform, welcomed me in. He led me to the kitchen where the food was all nicely wrapped and ready…but something truly remarkable happened. I had come for food to feed others, but the Lord had other ideas in mind. I needed nourishment of the heart – for I was worn, weary and at the end of my rope.

I am not sure if you have ever experienced the moving of the Holy Spirit, but I am certain that the Lord had given me a divine appointment that day in order to help heal my wounded heart. The pastor began to talk to me about his ministry, and gave me a brief tour of the building. He described the basketball program and the youth ministry. We chatted for a few more minutes and then it all spilled out…It felt like I was in a safe place, far away from judgment and ridicule…and so I shared with him my hurt. It was like unloading a burden I had been carrying around for far too long. I told him about my heartache I had experienced in the ministry, and the wounds that had been inflicted while on the pastoral battlefield. He understood. He didn’t say, “well you just need to try harder“, or “perhaps you just aren’t walking with the Lord enough“; or even “maybe you’re just not cut out for ministry.

No, rather, he just listened.

He let me expose the festering wound of my heart that refused to heal. I had not been able to articulate it, let alone face it before. But here in a gym kitchen, I felt led to bear the wound and let the infection be seen.

Finally after I had finished talking, the pastor told me about his own hurt. How years ago he had moved to this town. He had left another ministry that had been difficult and it too had wounded him. Leaning on a stainless steel island in a small kitchen, he then prayed for me, and the power of the Holy Spirit began working in my heart. I can’t tell you that I was miraculously healed in a single instant, but the pain, bitterness and hurt started to be addressed by the Lord. I was a broken vessel in need of repair, and the hands of God were more than willing to remold me again. Dare I say that the Pastor was only being faithful to the Lord, while the Lord applied the much needed salve to a wounded life. Isn’t it funny how God has a tendency to do that – use the faithful at the most unlikely of places, and just the right moment?!

After the Pastor prayed with me, he asked me if it would be alright if he contacted a couple of other pastors that he knew, and if we could all meet over breakfast sometime soon. I accepted the invitation and promptly left with the food in my hands. Again, I had come to receive food for people in need, when I was also in need myself – in need of spiritual nourishment and hope. I walked away from that encounter a little lighter.
I told my wife about my time with Pastor Steve, and explained that I felt the Lord had placed him in my path.

A little while later I received a phone call from Pastor Steve, and true to his word, he was inviting me to a breakfast with his group of pastors. I had been in other pastor groups before, and sometimes it felt like it was a forced fellowship. I went to the first breakfast with that thought in mind, but I was extremely surprised to find a group of guys who loved being with each other. The laughed together over coffee and toast. I felt as if I was being welcomed into a fellowship I didn’t deserve…and yet here they were warming my heart.

Over the course of the next few months I met with this pastor group. We met every couple of weeks, and there wasn’t any agenda except to encourage one another, to pray for one another and share the in the journey. I came to pick up food only to be fed…

Pastor Steve helped to pick me up, a wounded pastor, on the way while traveling on the same journey…and I am forever grateful for that divine appointment. It was just before Thanksgiving last year that Pastor Steve went in for a routine gall bladder surgery only to discover that it wasn’t gall bladder at all, but rather terminal cancer.
I recall the sheer shock of that horrific news. Yet, through it all Pastor Steve remained a faithful servant of God.

Just today, mere weeks before Thanksgiving – almost one year to the day – Pastor Steve went to be with the Lord. I mourn the loss of such a man of God. This world is better because he walked it. My life is better because he journeyed for a time along with me. He shared in my hurt, and helped to heal the deep wounds of my heart. I know that I will always be thankful for his ministry in my life…even though it was for but the briefest of times. Just like markers in life – where we remember the turning points and milestones – Pastor Steve stands there on one of those points in mine.

I came to pick up food for others only to be fed…and that was a divine appointment designed by the Lord and enacted upon by a faithful servant…thank you Steve! And now while I continue to travel this path, may I too faithful recognize those divine appointments that must enter and help those who walk behind me.

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” -C.S. Lewis.

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