The Gift of GIVING That Will Surprise You

I know this is gonna sound really strange, but…

Several years ago, back when I was still sorta new to prophetic, street ministry, I was involved with a hooker.  (Not that kind of involvement!  Get your head out of the gutter!)  I mean it was a Jesus thang.  (Yeah, thang!)  And it wasn’t just me either.  The whole family got involved.  And for a while, this hooker was practically a member of the family.

Let me back up just a bit.  I need to say some unflattering things in some unflattering terms in order to tell a fitting story.  Perhaps it’s better if you are 18 or older to read this one.  But, I promise it is a love story.

Prophetic street ministry with hookers ain’t nothin’ like the movies.  I don’t mean for you to imagine Julia Roberts running around with me.  No.  No high end call girls with furs and diamonds.  No glam at all.

No.  I am talking about $5 for 15 minutes of “love” in a car by a dumpster.  Cheap.  Real cheap.  Dirty and cheap.  Cheap and dirty.  And quick, and on to the next.

I mean to stop and think about it is to be repulsed.  And the money went up in crack just as fast as it came in!

Yeah.  Cheap, dirty, fast, and poor.

But somehow our girl would clean herself up for a few days to come hang out with us.  Strangest thing I ever saw.  Hard core crack addict cleans up for two or three days every couple months to come over for dinner.  And Christmas???  Yeah.  We would make plans to come get her and keep her in our place for Christmas Eve and Christmas night – sober, I might add – just to be family for a couple days.  And then the day after, I would drive her back to the crack house and drop her off with a plan to pick her up for worship on Sunday.

As you can imagine, assuming you can, loving a person like this can be expensive.  People in this kind of mess have been in and out of psych facilities, jails, prisons, and group homes – you name it.  And they are very manipulative.  This one could turn all that off for just a day or two ever so often, and we could enjoy the sweet girl God made her to be just briefly.

Breaks my heart to think of that, but we had some good times.  And like I said, as long as we were willing to spend money, she was willing to find things to burn it on.  And so we had to get creative.

Now… cigarettes are a great way to get a hearing with people on the streets.  And when I came around my hooker girl would ALWAYS ask if I had some for her.  And sometimes I did.  I didn’t smoke, but I could buy some and have them for her when I found her, and she would be so thrilled to bump into me if I did.  But cigarettes are not cheap, and some people really have a hard time bringing themselves to spend money on them.  And I get it.  After spending $25 in one month on cigarettes I didn’t even want, I began rethinking it.

But then one day I was walking into the Walgreens pharmacy and saw an ashtray outside the door and a bum picking through it for cigarette butts.  And it dawned on me that our girl would do that too, and those are free for the taking.  So I got a baggie and kept my eyes open for them.  And sure enough, when I gave her the baggie… well yes it was a let down, but sure… she wanted them anyway!  And so this became the norm – except on special occasions (like Christmas and birthdays when a fresh pack of smokes really showed the love!).

But then one evening Mrs. Agent X and I were hosting our girl for dinner, and afterward she wanted a smoke, but didn’t have any.  And she pleaded with us to get her a pack of smokes.  But just then Mrs. Agent X recalled how a lot of the nurses she worked with at this one medical office smoked, and how there was a big ashtray just outside the office door.  It was late in the evening, but just talking about it made us excited.  It’s not like Walgreens where a bum is likely to wander up and poke through; it was all nurses who would NEVER take a used butt and smoke it!  And this meant there would be some good ones in there!

We got so excited talking about it that we all piled in the car and raced down to the medical complex.  Sure enough there was a plethora of good discarded butts.  And since this medical office had so many, it occurred to us that other medical offices might too.  And so we were off on a scavenger hunt for cigarette butts!

And we had us a time!

I can’t make this tuff up, folx!  I just cant.  We were running around town with our cheap, $5 hooker, chasing leads on free cigarette butts for her and all her friends at the crack house.  And by that time we were having so much fun!  Who would ever have dreamed???

Seriously, this is good fodder for that novel you wanted to write, and I am giving you my pearls!

But here is my point:

This serendipity came courtesy of the Holy Spirit.  The blessing just came almost out of thin air!  But then we got all caught up in it, in the kindness of it, and had a good time making memories that will last a lifetime.

It was free.  It was creative.  It was LOVE.  It was unbelievable.

Ever throw a surprise party for someone?  Ever get “into it” – all the shopping, the preparations and all?  It’s work, yeah, but when you get into the happy zone with it, it just gets a life of its own and gives pep to your step!

Ever do that?

That is the gift of GIVING!

But here is my point within my point:

You won’t ever know this gift from studying When Helping Hurts or from Seeking Shalom with The Lupton Center.  For these guys, such serendipity is either not real, like unicorns, or is damaging to those who experience it.  But I beg to differ.

I was going through the drive thru for lunch today, and when I reached the window, the girl told me that the car ahead of me paid for my lunch!  Ha!  And the gift was a surprise!  A joy to behold!  And I thought about it a minute and decided to pass it on, to pay it forward – or actually to the car behind me!  And I could see on the cashier’s face what the gift all this giving was to her and the staff working around her.  They became excited at the prospect that they might build a chain of kindness doing this, and they wondered aloud how long they might keep it going!

Yeah.

The world could use MORE of this, not less.

Think about it.

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33 comments

  1. Wow! What a series of stunning and amazing real life experiences. I think this what the love of Jesus looks like.

    Thanks for being faithful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. insanitybytes22 · July 1

    Amen! That’s the sweetest thing I’ve read in a long,long time. Well done.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agent X · July 1

      Thanx! That is a really nice thing to hear. The positive feedback sure is nice, a welcome development.

      Thanx!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve tried several times to comment. This is now from my cell phone.

    This is really amazing. I love how much your baby Jesus.

    Be blessed. God is with you and God is in a good mood.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ha ha. I fat thumbed that. I meant obey Jesus. My guess is my other comments are in spam.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Debi · July 2

    LOVE this story! ♥

    Liked by 2 people

  6. T. F. Thompson · July 2

    After used smokes, if people would give up their used clothes, cars, and whatever else clutters up their lives. It doesn’t take much to spread joy to others. Good thinking and resourceful. I’ve been there many times by myself as such and with others.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. T. F. Thompson · July 2

    And that’s why little cigars are so important to street people. They only cost a little more than a dollar and go a long ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 2

      I don’t actually smoke… but those are my favorite kind!

      Liked by 1 person

      • T. F. Thompson · July 2

        The cigars work in this way too. When that’s all you have and they don’t want them, they don’t fee rejected as you did in fact offer what you had. This crosses boundaries and establishes a pathway in which to talk if only how crappy the little cigars are.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Agent X · July 2

        Good point! Tom. I hadn’t thought of it, but you are right.

        Like

  8. laceduplutheran · July 2

    Reminds me of a quote by someone much wiser than me – “You tell me you care about the poor. Tell me their names.” When we really know people and their situation, everything changes. There are no black and white answers. There is only love. Love is the only way.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Agent X · July 2

    This just in….

    The words offered in the post above are officially deemed damaging and harmful by leaders in my church who do not want one of the sheep from our fold to see it.

    I am told this in the most scathing terms I think a church person ever used with me!

    Hmmm…

    Closing the door on the poor in the winter cold where sometimes they die is not deemed harmful, but my post here is?

    Wow!

    It’s clear to me that I am dealing with some very hard heartedness.

    Wow!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sad but I think Jesus has a few things to say about the hypocrisy of it all. Of course, He has more to say to the church.

      “But woe to you, elite religious leaders (aka scribes and Pharisees), hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” | Matthew 23:13

      Liked by 2 people

  10. insanitybytes22 · July 2

    I am so sorry that there are people in the church who cannot see the beauty in this post. Take heart and be encouraged, we are not all like that. We had hamburgers and hot dogs in the park last week, about 30 street people came by. My favorite comment from someone, “I can’t really tell the Christians from the homeless, who is who?” Yeah well, that’s because that’s how we roll. At the end of the day we are all just people, sharing a meal together, as the Lord did for us.

    I’d cheerfully buy cigs for someone if I had the money. Ha! No collecting butts, though. I chuckled about the medical facility. Us who have worked in healthcare aren’t picking up no butts. We’re all germaphobes. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Agent X · July 3

    The following response is copied from email and edited to conceal the names listed therein. It was sent to me in reply to my effort to engage my church, both my classmates in the Seeking Shalom class last winter and in the small group that sometimes meets in my house by emailing the post above to those groups. It turns out my email list included one who, it is deemed should not have read it. I am not insensitive to that, and upon review of that email list, I see that I mistakenly put this one individual on it while failing to put another intended individual on in that place.

    Nevertheless, you can see a level of vitriol entirely unparalleled by ANYTHING I ever said to any of these people when I confronted them in effort to protect my homeless friends from freezing to death last winter. But of course, this shepherd’s vitriol in defense of his little lamb seems quite acceptable to him.

    Please pray for us.

    Here is the note:

    [Agent X],
    Once again you have demonstrated just how insensitive and harmful your rhetoric can be.  For some reason you decided to include [Agent J] in this note, without asking, caring or knowing where her walk with God is at this moment and once again you have damaged someone.  This time, someone who is vulnerable and fragile.
    If you ever hoped to persuade me or the other elders to hear your voice, let me now make this clear and distinct…
    Your voice has no volume.  You may scream at the top of your voice, but it will not be heard.
    Oh, I know you will send back a parsed rebuttal of phrases I have used.  You will expand on a single word or phrase in hopes of convincing me and others of your pure motive, but it is now clear that you wish to “party” and that you will “turn over tables” to get the chance to party at the expense of anyone who objects.  That will not happen.  Lest there is any misunderstanding let me repeat, that will not happen.  Your motives are clear and they are not pure.
    In the future, if you wish to send further notes of this type, feel free to send them to me, [Agent B] and [Agent A], but do not send them to [Agent K], [Agent P], [Agent J] or anyone else in small group.
    Now if you will excuse me, I have work to do to repair the damage you just caused.
    [Agent G]

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is all very sad to see. Your prophetic voice will not be silenced. Our Master Jesus will amplify it and stand with you. Jesus has something to say to this elder … “Woe to you!” “Depart from me accursed ones!” “I don’t know you!”

      There is justice coming.

      It is all laid out in Matthew 25.

      “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · July 4

        Yes, it is very sad and stunning.

        I have been wondering what to say about it, esp since you left this comment.

        On the one hand, I care very much about the “damage” done to the lady Agent G is so upset about. I don’t want to cause her pain. And my care about that is genuine, but how do I go about expressing it?

        Sometimes its best just to leave it be. Sometimes I get into a conflict where the feelings get so raw its best to back off a bit and try to settle it later. I sense my inquiry will only cause more anxiety – maybe even for the lady everyone is concerned about. And obviously Agent G wants to limit any interaction I might have to only him and two others. But I sense rather strongly that he intends himself and those other two will be like conversational cul-de-sacs. I can talk all I want to them, there will be no volume in my voice as long as I keep it in those channels.

        And this leads me to the “other hand”. My first concern is for the hurting lost lamb that I supposedly damaged. But as I sober-mindedly reflect on that, I do not in fact know that she is the slightest bit harmed. For all I know, the people who are so desperate to NOT hear me may just blow this out of proportion so as to try to frighten me into shutting up. If I feel really bad about it, then I will keep quiet, which I sense is an ulterior motive to this spiritual spanking, even if the lady at the center of this concern is at risk. And Agent G and Agent K are the only two sources I have for this, and it is clear they are biased. (Again, should I inquire?)

        Once I assess this in these terms, I am reminded of the scam artist I encountered recently on the internet who took control of my computer with a bug and tried to extort me to purchase their virus protection as they posed as Microsoft IT. But they weren’t really, and it turns out ALL THE INFO I was getting, which appeared VERY convincing to my IT-challenged viewpoint (believe it or not, I am just two steps away from being computer illiterate!). I almost fell for it all! They were the ones causing my problem, and were also about to sell me a fix for $200! But they set it all up to make me think I was making an objective decision, when really I was actually trusting them, the malevolent con artists, for everything.

        So, when I look at this, I see people who have ulterior motives even IF they are being honest. And judging by the volatile response, this anger has been festering and brewing a while! If this were independent of all the back story, there would be a lot more inquiry on their part and a lot less rush to blame. I mean, stating that my motives are not pure? Wow! This guy has looked into my heart? And he makes that kind of judgment? Wow! I bet he would call me out for saying something like that and call me judgmental. Maybe not, but if I were a betting man….

        But you know what?

        This $20 response to a $1 offense (after all, let’s remember that I published this post on the web for all the public to see, which means that this lady COULD have found it independent of my email, and very likely is seen by someone else LIKE her out there), anyway, this overblown response also lets me know that all my efforts to be heard ARE WORKING! Me thinks he doth protest TOO MUCH! Anyone THAT desperate to convince me they aren’t listening is having trouble ignoring me!

        Makes me think I need to cut his name off my email list and keep everyone else on it! That way he will be the last to know what I say, and thus endrun around his cul-de-sac, make him more nervous, and keep the pressure on!

        In case my readers (if they still care) don’t realize it, I came to the Seeking Shalom class rebutting the garbage offered there that ENABLES my church to keep their doors closed to the poor who freeze to death in the cold winter while pretending to actually care! Yeah.. he was defending a little lamb against me? That made him mad and say something that sounds “unloving”? Hmmm… That seems almost appropriate! Just one problem… Why the double standard??? Why am I a jerk for doing that? But I will say this AGAIN, I NEVER displayed THIS kind of vitriol! No. Not even close.

        But actually, back to the truly SAD part of all this…

        I really admire Agent G. I was sensing a closeness with him for a while last year that I really enjoyed and hoped for more too. I figure it is in part because of the relationship we WERE seeming to grow between us that warrants him taking the lead in defending the Seeking Shalom garbage AND this church’s persistent resistance to God’s very plain directive to the contrary that I bring, because its me… his friend. (Or so I thought.)

        Anyway… please pray for us.

        Thanx

        X

        Like

  12. What is going on here is pretty stunning. Of course, John the Baptist is a prophet, like you. He is determined to speak the truth of God and prepare the way for Jesus. John calls on me to radically change how I think about things (aka repentance).

    And the crowds asked him [John], “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” —Luke 3:10-14

    So John is clear. If you have something, lets say two coats. If I see someone who doesn’t have a coat, like a poor homeless person, I am to give them, directly, a coat. I am to feed them, directly, if they don’t have food. John, like Jesus, doesn’t say give to the church or your favorite nonprofit. John doesn’t say Rome and Caesar should take care of them. John says I should. Period. End of discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · July 4

      I have been thinking fresh thoughts recently, and I have started a few drafts that are not published, but which are helping me work through some things. And so I have some new theses/hypotheses/theories… whatever we need to call them. I expect to put some of that to work in response here, but to work it out more clearly later.

      First off, you are right. I don’t see anything in your comment here to argue against. Your last bit is a great observation. John does not say take care of the poor via church, 501c3, or even the government. That responsibility is not placed there by John.

      That said, there is nothing wrong with these entities doing benevolence, and there is no prohibition against me supporting them doing it. For that matter, if a coffee shop wants to use its profits to serve charitable purposes, that is fine. And if I want to drink their coffee, in part, to help fund those services, that is fine too. No harm done, not prohibition is thwarted. And personally, I am grateful for government assistance, I have used it myself in a number of ways over the years, not the least being college loans and grants.

      However, none of that absolves me from my personal responsibility to be my brother’s keeper. And as far as the church is concerned, Jesus reaches out to (or conversely is mobbed by) needy people whom he ministers to personally. So, as the church, which is his body manifest in the world today, the church actually has a mandate along these lines too (though we might argue about the specifics of that).

      I just want to iron out that wrinkle.

      But here is where the problem REALLY is, I think.

      At root, we have subtly morphed the church from the body of Christ into a business.

      Let me repeat that just for clarity. Church has become a BUSINESS. It is run like a business with a business model and all that.

      When I first got into blogging well over a decade ago, and encountered Agent B and his blog The Agent B Files, he kept describing the church as a social club. I kept resisting that. I could see that it behaved like one, but he insisted that it was one. (Though I loved B and his blog, we did not always agree on everything.)

      Today, I appreciate better what he was saying, but I also think that either the issue has changed in the decade and a half since or he actually was misrepresenting the problem – meaning it was even worse than he thought.

      I had a similar experience talking with a fellow street minister here in Lubbock almost 5 years ago. This man, like me, had run into very similar issues with Lubbock’s Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name) as I did, but when he got to a meeting with the board of directors, he asked them (in a moment of frustration), “When did homeless ministry become a business?”

      Like my reaction to Agent B, I felt he was overstepping the criticism actually. I understand the concept of non-profit and all that. And so I could see where he was coming from, but I could also see that these ministries were doing the work the church should be doing, but was sidestepping. Plus, I really didn’t think there was THAT MUCH money to be made serving the poor. (I will come back to that…)

      But actually another element to this new understanding cropped up in between my experiences with Agent B Files and the fellow street minister who thought the street ministry was becoming a business. And this was an observation my dad made about Lubbock’s Premier Homeless Pseudo Church. He kept saying to me, “It’s NOT a church!” He was pointing out to me that at root, it is a 501c3, and is not actually exempt from taxes and regulations in the way churches are.

      I, of course, rebutted that it was a church. It used “church” in the name AND acted like a church – going so far as to facilitate worship services complete with sacraments and all. My point was that even if it legally was not a church, it functioned like one – effectively making it a church. Also, the congregation viewed it as a church, and thus as far as the sheep are concerned, it is a church.

      But Dad kept insisting that it is governed by a board of directors who actually call themselves that, who actually view themselves as such, and who act like one as opposed to an assembly of believers submitting to a leadership that prayerfully takes its cues from God’s Word with the aim to be the extension of Christ’s very body in the world today. Thus it cannot be the church.

      Eventually, he won me over to this view. And that is why, when I use a pseudonym for this group to protect the guilty, I use the term pseudo church. It feigns being the church. It effectively takes the Name in vain along those lines.

      Still, let me take care not to suggest that this group is just awful in every way. That would be a misrepresentation. This group was formed, at least in part, to provide services to the poor and needy, and it does. In fact it provides quite a variety of goods and services, and does so on a relatively big scale. I am thankful daily for every crumb that falls from this table! There is a real reason why I ever wanted to be involved with this group in the first place!!! They do a lot of good work. They have chosen to take on the burden of serving the poor that the rest of Lubbock (for the most part) does not want – including Lubbock’s churches!

      But I have come to see that they are not really the church themselves and that they do generate a LOT of money (it appears to me far more money than what it takes to deal with homelessness). In fact, I have come to view the underlying function of this group as to be a buffer between the undesirables (the poor and homeless) and the rich, white people who make up the bulk of Lubbock’s church(es), and thus to provide conscience salve for those people! It is more important to make the stock holders happy than the customers! (to use a business observation metaphorically).

      And this has me looking at the church again. The church Agent B called a social club is doing something… but what?

      Well, I really need to develop this part in a post all its own, if not two or three (I dislike doing series’). But it helps if you read Ron Highfield, a prof from Pepperdine Univ. His work is spurring my thinking quite a bit recently. Here is a link to a blog post he offered a while back that begins to point this direction, I think:

      https://ifaqtheology.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/is-your-church-a-parachurch-organization/

      If you read it, keep in mind, Highfield is Church of Christ, and his offerings cater to issues specific to this bunch, but it shouldn’t take much imagination to see how they apply to the wider church as well.

      Highfield does not go so far as calling the church a business, but he does a very insightful job of questioning whether we have crossed over from being church to being parachurch, if we are majoring in all the trappings of church and not in Jesus. (That should not be a surprise to you.)

      Actually even in the last few hours, my dad has sent me a number of new links to other Highfield offerings that I have not yet had time to check out. But he is apparently pushing this kind of thinking even farther, and he is considered an authority on these matters in the academic guild and in the church. Unlike me, a lowly jerk, a punk, a “prophet”, his observations will carry more weight with the people I am arguing with than mine ever will.

      So, back to my question above… What is the church doing?

      We are in SALES.

      In the larger culture and marketplace of ideas, the church is just a social club. But we need to sell memberships. Let us meet your spiritual needs for only 10% of your net income! Come on down to Pastor Bates Revival Specialists this summer and get your personal relationship with Jesus! Act now while supplies last!

      It’s not that different than selling insurance or stocks and bonds. You don’t have to deal in real goods n services to make big money! But this culture is so deep in Mammon worship, we are like a fish that doesn’t know what water is!

      And if the church is in business (and the competition is fierce, if you don’t like our worship team, you can literally go across the street and see what the Baptists have to offer! And they don’t tithe your gross income, they tithe the net! So you actually get more value for your dollar in hell-fire insurance!!! But wait there’s more! For only three easy payments of 39.99, you can send a kid to Mexico this summer to build a 2 room house for a family of 14! And we have complimentary lattes in the lobby! And our associate pastor just opened and coffee shop across the street where if you buy a latte, $2 automatically goes to the Premier Homeless Pseudo Church! (And then you just bought conscience salve, so the next time you drive past a bum, you don’t have to feel bad that you looked the other way! NO! You bought him socks when you indulged in that caramel latte just yesterday!!!)

      See now what I mean?

      I really see nothing wrong with the coffee shop giving money to the cause. There is no sin in it. That is great. But then again, we are building a tower of Babel here, and systematically turning the church into a LIE. We are taking the Lord’s name in vain for all our trouble! And none of this is LOVE for one another, not really. And it sure aint love for the poor – if it were, then how can you honestly live with yourself in a nice warm bed come January when the pastor down at the Premier Homeless church literally kicks everyone there out of the building for the night. He wont talk about that part of his ministry on TV, and they wont talk about that part of it down at the coffee shop where you get that latte to help the poor. No. You will feel good that you have done your part! Meanwhile the poor are kicked to the curb again!

      Hmmmm…

      Feel me yet?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jonathan Erdman · July 4

        From the OP (Original Post): “This serendipity came courtesy of the Holy Spirit. The blessing just came almost out of thin air! But then we got all caught up in it, in the kindness of it, and had a good time making memories that will last a lifetime. It was free. It was creative. It was LOVE. It was unbelievable….”

        What we have here is an encounter of the Spirit kind. It’s a connection between beings, a real communion, an act of love, and as we know love is the essence of the faith. (1 Cor 13) Where love is, the Spirit is. God is love.

        It raises one of the fundamental questions of my life: why is it that the institutional church so often feels the need to condemn the work of the Spirit? I think you’ve more or less answered it:

        Agent X comment (see above): “At root, we have subtly morphed the church from the body of Christ into a business. Let me repeat that just for clarity. Church has become a BUSINESS. It is run like a business with a business model and all that….”

        Capitalism commodifies. Life becomes commodified. People become “human resources” or they become the “unsaved” who must be converted. A beautiful forest ceases to be a sacred expression of divine glory, it becomes a “resource” to be cut down and sold at a profit.

        The contrast to me is so internally devastating. The vision of God is sacred communion. The way of this world is to commodify, and once life becomes commodified, any “ministry” will necessarily fall short of the sacred mission to redeem all creation (human and non-human) into a communion of free beings.

        Jesus encountered similar hostility from the religious establishment, and at times he deliberately broke their rules just to provoke them, to demonstrate that “though they have ears they cannot hear, though they have eyes they cannot see.” I respect your ministry, but I don’t envy the hostility you encounter from the church! You are living the Gospel.

        Solidarity, brother.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Agent X · July 4

        Wow! Jonathan…

        Thanx for that powerful encouraging word!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that nonprofits do much good. In full disclosure, I have worked and consulted with NP’s for my whole career. They are a big business and have big business interests.

        Which leads to your other great observation. Most churches are incorporated under the laws of the United States. As such, they must report information to the government. They must have articles of incorporation and by-laws. They must have a Board of Directors or Trustees. They must hold annual meetings. The members must approve certain changes. The Minister is elected by some legal mechanism. They must raise money and balance their budgets. They engage in marketing their services to the public. You get the point. 🙂

        Does that always serve the interests of the Kingdom of God. Maybe yes and maybe no.

        Again and as always. Thanks for your prophetic voice. Keep the good faith and fight the good fight.

        Like

      • Agent X · July 5

        Thanx Michael,

        You are now on the cusp of a whole other discussion that has bearing on all the rest said here… Matters that are foundational, underneath the surface, not normally seen really, but they hold up and anchor all the rest despite that.

        The Constitution (certainly the first amendment) limits itself against the church. And those of us who hold that as the final authority might well observe that reporting anything, appointing anybody, and so forth to satisfy the government is out of bounds. Our own rules of law says it is blind to this.

        But of course in reality its not.

        AND for that matter, we have St Paul’s words in Romans 13 which famously made the spotlight again recently. God would have us submit.

        Hmmm…

        And yet be subversive too.

        hmmm…

        What a strange mixed bag?

        Undoubtedly, Christians will come to terms with this phenom in different ways. Submit? Subvert? Both? How?

        I was raised Protestant in a strand of Christianity that very nearly aligns with Evangelical, but the older I get, the more respect I have, ironically, for Calvinism’s reverence for God’s sovereignty. The theological/philosophical conundrum that St. Augustine “resolves” with his FREE WILL theodicy, seems ready made for American Christians, but the older I get, the less satisfying that answer appears to me.

        Go look at Matt Best’s recent posts about Jesus vs. Caesar.

        Jesus submits to Pilate, Caesar’s local rep, but in so doing, he subverts. And there is no doubt, if Jesus is Lord, then Caesar isn’t. And that is upsetting for Caesar and friends.

        Look at prayer in school.

        It is outlawed today. But it is not gone. In fact, there are still public displays of prayer there despite the restrictions. And for that matter, it cannot really be eradicated. As my dad often says… As long as they have tests in schools, there will be prayers! It’s not gone at all! And it subverts, and we can use it to subvert. Turning the other cheek, going the second mile… these things submit AND subvert. And it is our prerogative to explore what that means.

        Where two or three are gathered, there is Jesus (the body of Christ!)… the CHURCH built on the rock that Hell cannot withstand. Hmmm… We don’t NEED a special status, exemption, or board of directors/trustees at all. In fact, all of that is just an effort to live peaceably WHILE having all the trappings of Church. And I encourage a close look at the thinking Ron Highfield is demonstrating on this. We think THAT is church, but it isn’t, NOT REALLY. That is all parachurch – to use our own language appropriately.

        Jesus does not actually answer to the Constitution, though he submits. But he rises up above that authority, to realms it cannot imagine.

        This starts sounding to mystical, I think, but we need to explore it. We don’t think in these terms much. We are way to trapped in the trappings which sound and feel spiritual, but really they are a reduction of the faith to marketable goods and services at the Mall of God. And in that realm, God serves Mammon and the US Constitution, instead of the other way round.

        But I am pressed for time at themoment and we must chase this later. But I hope we will.

        Thanx for your input here! It is invaluable!!!

        Like

  13. T. F. Thompson · July 4

    I can’t believe that the church guy doesn’t yet know what a party or feast is and why he thinks it’s ungodly. What a joker.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jonathan Erdman · July 4

      =)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 4

      Tom,

      I am so glad you brought that up. (Not the joker part, despite all this nonsense, I really hope Agent G and I can be friends, recover from this, and go where it looked like we were going previous to all this…. So I just don’t want to call him names and hold him in contempt like that.) But the other part, you bring out is very worthwhile I think. And really appreciate you highlighting it because I fear if I do it, then I am just parsing one word or phrase and making my own motives look good for everyone – or whatever he had in mind with that dig.

      Yeah, the party is the point! In fact, the fact that he says something about it lets me know he is listening to the voice that has no volume!!! YAY! It’s not setting well, and I see where that is a problem, but it is being heard! And let’s face it, I didn’t make that stuff up. I got it from Luke who got it from Jesus! Look it up! Luke 14, in case you missed it.

      He thinks I will turn the tables over on anyone who objects?

      Sure! Why not? That is just what Jesus does (WWJD?)

      Is WWJD? supposed to be a stupid wristband fashion statement but nothing more? Yeah! I wanna see our church party with the poor – an actually command issued by Jesus no less! And while stuff like feeding, giving drink, giving shelter, and other meeting-needs measures are completely appropriate, and commanded, so is the messianic banquet!

      Yes. Thanx for highlighting that!

      Liked by 2 people

      • T. F. Thompson · July 4

        I highlighted it because it is true and right and just and that is exactly by grace where we all fit in and are called friends of our Lord.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. T. F. Thompson · July 4

    Reblogged this on Hard Times Ministries and commented:
    What can I say? The Joker’s a madman and the piper’s a fool.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Child Of God · July 4

    A good real story I had some experience with homeless people but one woman I did all could with my true heart but, got so bad that one night in tears I asked the Lord that if she was not from Him to please take her away. and HE did. Never saw her again, she took my little tv but it was OK and that was almost 20 years ago. She always wanted the name brands cigarette and I could not buy them had no money for mine almost. a long time ago. That was my worse experience with a homeless person.

    Liked by 3 people

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