A Ragamuffin

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I watched the movie, “Ragamuffin,” last night and I’m sorta of a wreck and still processing it.  It was based on the life of Rich Mullins.  Rich was a Christian who struggled with his brokenness. He wrote songs that were recorded by others as well as himself.  Here’s the trailer to the movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF7qbCTFja0&feature=kp

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What is a ‘ragamuffin?’  My on-line dictionary say it’s “a child who is dressed in rags and is usually dirty and poor.”  Brennan Manning, who had a big influence on Rich, wrote a book entitled, “The Ragamuffin Gospel.”  The Gospel is for the outcasts and prisoners; the sick and poor.  Mullins began to see himself as a ragamuffin.  He didn’t fit it, wearing ratty clothes and going barefoot.  Even more so, the hurting child inside him was broken and poor.

Brennan Manning wrote: “For Ragamuffins, God’s name is Mercy. We see our darkness as a prized possession because it drives us into the heart of God. Without mercy our darkness would plunge us into despair – for some, self-destruction. Time alone with God reveals the unfathomable depths of the poverty of the spirit. We are so poor that even our poverty is not our own: It belongs to the mysterium tremendum of a loving God.”

It was Rich Mullins’ brokenness that drove him to the heart of God.  What struck me about Rich’s life was:

  • His honesty.  This movie isn’t probably for small children…as there are honest portrayals of Rich’s struggle with alcohol (and there is some light cursing).  It also probably isn’t for some Christians who struggle with judging others.  The movie…Rich…was honest about his struggles and brokenness.
  • His art.  Rich struggled with the hypocrisy of some in the Christian Music scene, but he sought to write songs from the heart.  Some were cathartic with lyrics like, “hold me Jesus, I’m shaking like a leaf,” or worshipful like, “Awesome God.”  Rich didn’t try to be trendy or make lots of money, but to create art that came from his heart.
  • His simple life.  He did go barefoot and wear ratty clothes, but it was more than the clothes.  He chose to live simply.  I was amazed that he made the decision to only live on what the average person’s salary was for that area.  The rest he gave to churches and charities.  He never knew how much money he was making.  Later in his life, he moved to an Indian Reservation and ministered to the kids there.

I confess the movie gave me impetus to explore Rich Mullins’ life a little further.  This morning I began the book,”Rich Mullins: A Devotional biography: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven” by James Bryan Smith and I’ve found my Rich Mullins CDs (LOL).  I’m listening to “The Jesus Record” right now.

Rich always signed his autographs:  “Be God’s.”  Most of us are told to “be good,” but our goodness only comes from “being God’s.”  So what’s my take-away?  I’m a ragamuffin too and I’m praying for a heart that gets bigger and bigger for all the ragamuffins God puts in my path.  Be God’s!

 

Lou Gehrig’s Anniversary

Today is the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.  All of baseball is celebrating this date…

Lou Gehrig was a baseball icon who played for the infamous New York Yankees.  He was nicknamed Iron Horse, because prior to Cal Ripken, he held the record for most consecutive games in baseball history.  The nation was shocked when it discovered that Iron Horse had ALS and had to retire from baseball.  It fact, this “I’m the luckiest man…” speech was his last public appearance.  Now the terrible disease, “ALS,” is known as “Lou Gehrig’s” disease.

I love baseball and baseball history, so this story has drawn me in.  You can see a one minute summary of this famous moment:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/marty-noble-gehrig-delivered-a-declaration-of-inspiration?ymd=20140704&content_id=82741782&vkey=news_mlb

Except this year, it’s a little more personal.  One of my ‘Iron Horse’ pastor friends, Dan Hale, has ALS.  Dan is as strong as anyone I know…he and I share a love of the Cardinals and a love for International missions (not necessarily in that order–LOL),  He and I have seen victories and struggles on the mission field  and we were all shocked to discover that he had ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease.’  Dan has been the pastor of FBC, Millersville. for 25 years.  25 YEARS!!    More importantly been a great husband, father and grandfather.

Lou Gehrig was the luckiest man on earth because he got a chance to play for the New York Yankees.  Dan Hale is one of the most blessed men on earth because he knows Jesus, has a great family and church family, a bunch of friends, and a legacy of a pastor and missionary.  Now he hasn’t gone to heaven yet.  He’s still fighting.  He still posts devotions on Facebook and still tells people about Jesus.  He inspires me and hundreds of others.  

Most are thinking of Lou Gehrig today…I can’t help but think of my Iron Horse friend, Dan.  Would you take time to pray for Dan today?  

Dan…if you are reading this:  Sigue corriendo la buena carrera … te amamos y estamos orando por usted!

Stephanie’s Camp Fund

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More than 7 years ago, I had the privilege to do the funeral of a very special girl, Stephanie Marie Keister.  You see her picture above.  This was the cover of the funeral program that was printed that day.  It’s hard to believe that this coming Friday would have been her 21st birthday.  That’s a milestone birthday.  I try to remember her birthday most years, but this one is a milestone.  This blog is my way of honoring her and letting her parents, Mark and Billie, that we still care and we still remember.

Mark and Billie set up a special scholarship fund at our church.  “Stephanie’s Camp Fund” honors the memory of Stephanie and sends kids to camp every summer.  It is a privilege for me to give to this fund every year.  Camp is a life changing experience for kids as they literally unplug from social media and the world, and hear challenges from God’s Word.  Every year kids accept Christ and others surrender to missions.  Each year we scholarship kids who can’t afford to go to camp.  If you would like to give to “Stephanie’s Camp Fund” you can send a check to:

Fruitland Community Church, 6040 Hwy 61 North, Jackson, MO 63755 (and write “Stephanie’s Camp Fund” in the memo of your check)

Or you could give to your local church to sponsor a child for camp.  Kids like Stephanie remind us of the preciousness of life and to invest in kids.

Mark and Billie we love you and are praying for you!

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It’s time to give..for Stephanie…for the kids!

Blessings!

Why I’m Excited About VBS!!

Vacation Bible School at Fruitland Community Church will be this July 20-24.  Our theme is from Group, “Wilderness Escape: Where God Guides and Provides.”

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You can learn more about this specific curriculum by going to this link:

http://www.group.com/vbs/wilderness-escape

You can register your children to this week of VBS by going to this link:

https://www.groupvbspro.com/vbs/hl/fruitlandcommunity

But really what I wanted to blog about is…”Why I’m excited about VBS” and why you ought to prayerfully considering volunteering (here if you are from our church…or at your church!).

1.  Kids – Kids just VBS.  They love to sing, play, make things, and learn God’s Word in creative ways.

2.  Parents – Parents still send their kids to VBS.  It’s amazing.  VBS is a door to reach families!

3.  Truth – God’s Word is taught creatively and through relationships.  It’s powerful and memorable.

4.  Fellowship – God’s church gets stronger when they work together to share the love of Christ.  I’ve seen church members who didn’t know one another bond during the week of VBS

5.  The Lord – VBS is one way to serve the Lord…it really isn’t the only way (insert smiley face!)…yet is a powerful way.  Don’t dismiss it.  Pray and ask the Lord if you are to serve this year…wherever you find yourself.

I LOVE VBS!

For the Kingdom!

 

Special Family Night and 3rd Day of Teaching

This is day 5 of our mission trip…I have a separate blog about the trip if you are interested in reading more…

http://fccelsalvadorpartnership.wordpress.com/

For now…here’s Wednesday in El Salvador:

Before updating you on our Wednesday, I have to pause and reflect on last night.  Pastor Otto invited us to join his family on their “Family Night.”  What an honor.  His family consists of his wife, 3 sons, mother, and grandmother.  He explained how he led his church to not have anything on Tuesday nights so that each family could focus on family.  And we were invited to his house on family night.  It was so special.  Here’s Otto’s immediate family:

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Our translators joined us:

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It was a great group!

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The hospitality was great…the food was great…and we really bonded with this special family.  We learned a little history of the Bible teaching efforts in El Salvador and about the excitement of the BTCP program that our area pastors are bringing to El Salvador.  20 were trained in March; 23 this week; and plans are being made for Otto to train 24 in his church.  Another pastor is starting this in his church the next month (I don’t know how many).  Apparently, more pastors are waiting.  It’s on the verge of exploding.  It was so affirming!

Missing from the family night was Otto’s mother who is very sick in the hospital with cancer.  Before we left for the evening, we circled up, Otto called his mom, and I prayed for her over a speaker phone through a translator.  It was a very special moment.  Our group will continue to pray for Sonia.

That was last night…today was our 3rd day of teaching and it went well.  The students learned 8 special rules for interpreting the Bible (how to interpret parables, proverbs, etc.)  All 23 students have stayed engaged.  The ages range from 14 to 65.  Meeting a 14 year old boy (young man) who feels called to pastor was awesome.  We had special prayer for him:

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The group is still teaching us a chorus in English and we are about to get it!!

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It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day to teach!  It was a great day…to God be the glory!

 

A Distributor

Once you accept yourself as a distributor of God’s riches and not a manufacturer, you will experience a wonderful new freedom and joy in service.” Warren Wiersbe

I read that above quote in my morning devotions yesterday and it struck me.  How often do I think that I have to create something or make something happen for God.  When He simply wants me to experience His mercies and distribute what He’s given me to others.  Couldn’t help but think of at least two stories in the Bible.

  • The feeding of the 5000–Jesus blessed a boys lunch and what did the disciples have to do?  Distribute the bread and fish and return the leftovers.

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  • A lame man asked for a donation and Peter said: “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”  Peter was a distributor of God’s provision.

So, later that day a couple of folks from our church told me up that a local store was up to some good.  They were asking customers to donate a $1 for the local food bank (which turns out was Fruitland Community Church).

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I was floored and went by and saw a big box of food being donated to our church to give to the community.  The manager said she was touched that we had done a Mobile Food Truck for the community and wanted to help.  Wow.   I left with just a partial load of food and will return tomorrow for more.

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It’s as if God gave me a powerful visual of our relationship to Him.  He manufacturers.  We distribute.

Will you join me in experiencing and distributing the grace of Jesus?

Blessings!

Speak Life

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I love Toby Mac’s music.  His latest video release, “Speak Life” is so good and so true.  The chorus goes like this:

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak…

Some Scripture came to mind as I was thinking about the song:

Deuteronomy 30: 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live

Proverbs 16: 24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 18: 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 12: 25 Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop; but a good word maketh it glad.”

There are many, many Scriptures that admonish us to speak life.  We are told by Jesus to even bless our enemies. Why is it our default to speak words that drain the life out of others?  May the Lord help us to speak life.  With that as a backdrop…enjoy Toby’s new video!  “Speak Life!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeBv9r92VQ0