Word Power

We live in a society where people abuse the anonymity of the internet to share the hate and fear that dwells deep within them. The words typed out and thumbed from their keyboards really come from their broken and empty hearts.  

They are weak people using strong words.  

And their gain? Nothing, except a darker world for them to live in.  

What if you made a commitment to only use your words to bring life? 

What if every word that came from your mouth for the rest of your life was used for building people up? 

Healing and reconciliation would happen. 

Your friends would be many. Your legacy would be great.   

You have the opportunity to start this today. You can be the person who walks into an early Monday morning and sincerely says, “Today is a good day.” 

You can be the person who says to the failure, “I still believe in you.” 

Use your words to bring forth life. Have your bright eyes pierce through the downtrodden insecurities of others as your encouraging words illuminate their souls. 

Change your world with your words—every single little word.  

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Angel Entertainment

It was when I was a little boy. I remember looking at the enamel pins that were attached to a black cardboard. Some were sporadically missing, but many were still left. It was the first time I can recall seeing a skull with wings attached to it. I remember these pins because they did not fit in with my family’s style or character. Later, I found out why.

My nanny and papa used to rent and operate a small restaurant near the bottom of the Grapevine. If you’re familiar with driving through California, you’ll probably recall the dangerous highway as it descends down from the mountains into the valley where Bakersfield resides. The difficult drive is infamous to truckers, and there are a few emergency pull-off areas for when trucks burn through their brake pads.

My nanny told a story about a trucker who came in hollering that he wanted to buy the best steak in the house for another trucker who pulled in front of him when he lost his breaks and slowed down his big rig with his own truck, saving his life—a selfless hero who would go his own way on the road and soon become forgotten.

My nanny told another story that stood out to me even more. One day she looked out the restaurant’s door to see three men standing out in the cold. She could tell that they were migrant workers and hungry.

She hollered out, “You guys want to come in for some food on the house?”

The three men nodded thankfully and followed her in.

My nanny went in the back and prepared three large plates overflowing with food. When she carried them out and sat them on the table, the men’s eyes stretched in hungry anticipation. She noticed that one man was missing.

She asked, “Is your friend in the restroom?”

The men looked at each other a little confused. One apprehensively answered, “What friend, miss?”

My nanny replied, “There were three of you. I saw three of you come in. That’s why I made three plates.”

The same man replied, “Sorry, but there’s only two of us.”

My nanny continued, “No, I saw a third man with you.”

He responded a little confused and maybe even a little spooked, “It has just been me and my friend here the whole time.” The friend nodded sincerely.

My nanny believed she entertained an angel that day. I believe it too. I know it’s odd to talk about seeing angels when we are encouraged to be critical thinkers bound to the realm of whatever is directly in front of us, which is normally our cell phone, but we really must speak and live as if Scripture is real, because it is.

Angels exist.

There’s a spiritual realm that’s just as real as anything we can see.

We have likely entertained a few angels and certainly have been in the presence of many.

Let’s give them something good to watch—some quality entertainment as we demonstrate how awesome the love of God is through our daily lifestyle worship.

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Picking up the Crap

I had been teaching high school for about a year and was finishing jumping through the final hoops of California’s teaching credential program when I felt lead to start a Bible study. I wanted it to be something different—something authentic, even something revolutionary; I had high hopes.

I got permission from my parents to hold the Bible study in their nice backyard. My friends were excited about the idea. Chris, one of my best friends even decided to co-lead it with me. We settled upon the name Shepherds of the Lost with the goal in mind to build up disciples who would go back into the world and shepherd people who were lost. The Bible study took place on Friday nights. Since there wasn’t a lot to do in Bakersfield on Friday nights, we hoped that people might actually show up to the Bible study.

They did.

We eventually moved it into Chris’s house, and people from different churches and from all over town filled his living room once a week. I remember my Fridays always being chaotic as I would rush home after work for a quick shower to wake up a little from the exhausting week and then hurry to whatever place currently had the cheapest pizza specials to feed the group. After a few years of this full routine, Chris and I both felt the season of Shepherds of the Lost was over.

Looking back at those times now, I can recall mistakes I made as a leader. I never had any luck finding an older mentor to help guide me. And I looked for one too. It was just Chris and me figuring out what worked and what didn’t work through trial and error. After a while, I think we figured it out.

I’m thankful for that season, and I’m thankful for all those who had grace on the Bible study’s young leadership. Chris and I both learned invaluable lessons, and I believe some people were really encouraged during those Friday night moments of sitting on the carpet with open Bibles in laps and pizza in their stomachs.

Every now and then I’ll come across someone in town who wants to reminisce about the old Shepherds of the Lost days. I understand why. We had fun. After the actual study would be done, we found ways to entertain ourselves by watching hilarious YouTube videos, having spontaneous dance parties, prank calling our friends who didn’t show up, and snaking the cake, which is a term we came up with for eating an entire slice of cake in one bite.

There was a lot of special moments during those Friday nights—a lot of tearful conversations and togetherness as we shared our cheers and fears as the world slowly changed outside around us in those often confusing early twenties. We discussed and meditated on scripture. When in doubt in leading a Bible study, always study scripture; it will never return void.

The first lesson began even before the first Bible study began though. It was summer, and I remember nervously hashing out with anticipation a final list of all I needed to get completed before people would start arriving for that first night of Shepherds of the Lost.

I hurried home from one of my final credential classes to begin cleaning the bathroom, living room, and kitchen of my parent’s house to make it spotless. I then moved onto the backyard.

Bakersfield’s summer heat was not kind to me that day, and neither was my parent’s dog.

I took a shovel and started picking up dog crap.

I felt like in that moment the Holy Spirit showed me what leadership looks like. In my optimistic mind, leadership was a picture of me up on stage speaking into a microphone with everyone nodding in agreement, interested and encouraged.

Not really the case.

Ministry is messy because it always involves people, and people are messy.

If you’re involved in ministry long enough, you will be criticized on the most petty issues. People will blame you when things don’t go the way they want. You will put countless chunks of your life into work that will never be seen by those you serve. You will have to be a teacher, friend, problem-solver, counselor, coach, and Bible scholar all in the same hour. And you will make mistakes because you’re an imperfect sinner like everyone else.

But unlike everyone else, you pick up the crap.

And that’s okay because although it doesn’t seem to logically make sense, there is a special blessing that comes with ministry; there is a special blessing that comes with serving.

I think it’s because when we minister and serve we are the most like Jesus. We are truly Christians then.

Jesus was mistreated for leading, ministering, and serving us, but he did it anyways.

Because of his love.

He picked up our crap.