Jesus said, “I love you” in the parking lot of Tractor Supply…

In my summer of adventuring, I had a doozy on Saturday.  I had to replace a big part on a tractor and set out early to get it done.  By 10am it was already hotter than hades and I realized I could not budge the bolts I needed to remove to make the swap.  So I headed for Tractor Supply to get some help.  It’s really quite freeing to ask for help by the way.  After about five hours the new part was in place and all was well.  I was covered from head to toe in sweat, grease and grime.  It was great.

But something remarkable happened in the parking lot at Tractor Supply.

When I pulled in, an older man was standing in front of my truck talking to a girl a few spaces down who had her car door open smoking a cigarette.  It was a tight spot to pull in but the place was full.  We waived me into my spot.  I got out of the truck and went around behind the truck and realized he’d walked to my driver’s side and he was still talking to me.  As I came back around the other side he approached me, all smiles and just a chattering away.  As it turns out, he thought I looked just like his “boss man”, a local attorney (who I know).  He apologized and just a kept on talking about that he’d worked for him for 38 years doing pretty much anything he needed on his farm, running a bush hog, tending to cattle, etc.  He said he sure was a nice man.  I agreed.

I wished him a good day and went in the store.  About 20 minutes later I came walking back out and found two five dollar bills laying on the curb.  I picked them up and turned around to go in the store and realized there were about 50 people in there and it would be nearly impossible to identify the rightful owner of that cash.  So I put it in my pocket and headed back to my truck.  As I walked by a small truck to get in mine, I heard a honk and that gentleman had seen me, reached over and honked.  As I sat down I looked over and he was inside the cab of the truck just waiving and waiving at me.  I pulled out, rolled down my window and waived back.

I pulled around the store and was heading out and just as sure as I’m typing this, I heard, “Go back and give him that money.  You don’t need it.  He does.”  I whipped around and pulled back to my spot.  By this point, he was out of the truck helping his boss for the day load up dog food and other assorted items.  I edged up next to him and nudged him and he turned and just started smiling that same big ole smile.  “Here.  I found this on the parking lot.  Someone dropped it and I had no way to identify the rightful owner.  I want you to have it.  Go and buy yourself a nice lunch today.” 

His smile got even bigger and he started laughing a joyful laugh.  “Aw man, I don’t know what to say.  God bless you.  God bless you.  I just don’t know what to say.  I love you.”  I laughed with him and told him God had told me to give him that money and that it paid to be kind to people.  He had been kind to me earlier and God wanted to thank him.  He said, “Oh yes sir, it sure does pay to be kind to folks.  Thank you again.”   Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I drove away thinking, “Jesus just told me He loves me”.

OK so maybe I should have been more aggressive in finding the rightful owner of that $10.  To whoever it was, take heart, your misfortune blessed someone else.  I don’t know what was the right thing to do in that moment but I know this, I heard God and followed His nudge and through it all, I am convinced of this, I heard Jesus tell me in a very hot Tractor Supply parking lot, “I love you.”

Excurvatus Ex Se A life lived outward.

Advertisements

gratitude part III

You’ve been a believer a long time but have you found yourself being judgmental, frequently disappointed in others or demanding?  Are others always falling short of your expectations?  Are you a “taker” in your relationships always seeing that your needs get met?

Tough questions.  Tough for all of us to ponder.  Especially us believers.

How can we be in this place?  Given all that Christ did for us in our total depravity, how can we have forgotten so quickly?  I think it has to do with a lack of gratitude.  We’ve moved beyond the wonder of salvation.  We’ve graduated to a more mature life than that crazy “newbee” Christian who was radical in his faith, not caring what others thought about this new passion in his life.  We’re now “civil” in our faith.  We’ve come to believe we’re pretty good people and pretty good people start thinking they deserve “more”.

You see, a starving man will rejoice over a chicken sandwich and a cup of water.  His gratitude will be overwhelming.  He won’t stop thanking you for providing him desperate nourishment.  That was us…years ago.  Full of gratitude, humble in the grace bestowed upon us.

And then…many years later, we’ve forgotten.  We’ve grown complacent.  We are no longer satisfied with basic nourishment.  We crave “more”.  We are no longer grateful.  No longer content.

A lack of gratitude is a manifestation of greed.  After a few years of this, we find ourselves perpetually broken.  Life isn’t working for us – even as believers – we can’t seem to heal.  We must know this, nothing will heal if we are ungrateful.

We are saved and then we drift towards forgetting.  We lose our gratitude.  We begin to reach for more.  Life starts to breakdown.  We hit the rocks and wonder why.  Nothing heals if we are ungrateful so only as we crash against the rocks do we realize that it starts with gratitude or a lack thereof.

Usually in there we discover some unforgiveness.  It may be towards our Father.  Or our Mom.  Or perhaps an old coach or a boss.  Maybe it is with our wife.  Unforgiveness is deadly.  It is a root that will go deep and run long in your life.  It leads to ungratefulness and we’ve seen where that will take you.

Unforgiveness is a willful refusal to give up resentment or an insistence that someone pay for a wrong.  It is hard to forgive because it seems like we are letting them get away with it.  But as Christians, we have to know that we surrendered our right to be judge when we turned our life over to Christ.  We surrendered our right to retaliate.

Do you remember the notion of “surrendering”?  Salvation called for you to surrender.  If you’ve ever worked with someone as they approached salvation, you understand their reluctance to surrender to the Lord but that is what it takes.  You surrendered way back then and immediately were washed in grace and radically transformed and empowered.  You were totally undeserving and you were eternally grateful.

You surrendered back then and you must surrender now.  Surrender your desire to get even, to have justice, to make things fair, to have an apology from those that hurt you.  Let it go.  It’s no longer your place to demand these things.  You put Jesus in that seat.  Let Him do His thing.

Kill unforgiveness in your life.  Surrender it and gratitude will return.  If you release this to the Lord, you’ll once again taste the sweet grace of gratitude.  The stress will lift.  The hurt/anger will move off you.  Once again you will feel love and you will be able to love.  You will be able to live a “generative” life – where you can engage all your talents, abilities and passion to become that which is good and true.  You can begin to live the life God designed for you.

But it won’t happen without gratitude.  Gratitude & Humility.

Here are the slides from today … uprising 8 gratitude pt 2

LiveUP!

 

Sarah’s affair – gratitude part II

We entered into the second half of gratitude this morning at ManSchool.  I will put up another post (or two!) on this topic later with the slides.  For now, I want to share Sarah Markley’s story of her affair which I read this morning.

Let me encourage you to read this —  sarah markley story  — and here’s why, while you or I may never have had an affair – we are all guilty of the root cause of her affair.  She was ungrateful.  God had blessed her with a good husband, a nice home, a good job, great friends and she allowed herself to forget.  She forgot.  She was saved and had a great life and forgot what God had done for her, forgot the incredible brokenness that led her to salvation in the first place and she had grown complacent.

are you complacent?  are you taking a LOT for granted in your life?  do you “forget” what God gave for you?

I think many long-time believers are complacent.  I think we take a LOT for granted.  We are now numb to the original salvation and just how desperate we were way back then, how overwhelmed we were by grace and how excited we were to be living our lives for the Lord.  But now, we’ve drifted.  We’ve become lazy.  We think we have righteousness.  We think we are immune to risk.  We’ve let busyness or TV or the day-to-day grind take away the passion of our salvation.  And we are incredibly vulnerable as a result.

You see, I am becoming convinced that if we can possibly even  grasp this concept of gratitude, we won’t have money problems.  We won’t have sex/porn problems.  We won’t struggle with anger.  We won’t spend our life comparing it to other’s lives.  I believe gratitude is simply crucial to our walk.  Gratitude & Humility.

If we can grasp gratitude, we can find contentment.  If we can Trust, we can be content.  If we can be content/trust, we can let go of “control” and we can stop running off chasing all these other gods that ultimately destroy us.

Sarah was ungrateful and she wanted “more” and she ended up nearly destroying her life.  This is a great story.  It is long and painful but in it, you can see how God was moving, you can see the cost of her sin and you can see how her husband forgave her – because he fully understood his sin and how he must forgive her.  You see, Chad knew.  He got it.  He grasped gratitude – not for Sarah but for the Lord.  He still knew what God had done for him and because he lived a life of gratitude/grace, he could then forgive and love Sarah.

Sarah was a “taker”.  She always wanted more.  She harbored unforgiveness.  Deep roots of unforgiveness and ungratefulness had grown deep in her soul.

How about you?  How is your heart?  Are you a taker – never content, always demanding of others, always seeing others as not living up to your expectations or full of judgment?  Or, are you grateful and content?  more on this to come…

Humility & Gratitude my brothers.  LiveUP!

 

gratitude part I

The sinful woman (most likely a prostitute) comes to Simon’s home.  A gathering of “religious” folks are there and Jesus is in their presence.  There is an appropriateness to these things, a “right way” do behave in public, socially acceptable behavior, manors…

The woman isn’t interested in the “right way” to do things.  She is there to crash the party.  Jesus is there and she must have an audience with him.  Caring less about what the religious leaders thought was proper, she threw herself at Jesus’ feet and kissed them.  Her tears flew so freely that they washed his feet and she wiped them with her hair.  The expensive perfume she had bought was broken open and she anointed his feet.

She was forgiven much.  Huge sins.  A disgusting, degrading life.  And she was forgiven.  And…she knew it.  She knew she was forgiven and more importantly, she knew she unworthy of this forgiveness, she didn’t deserve it.  Grace.  She felt the sweet rush of grace.

Simon was a different matter.  He was the “good kid”, the rule keeper, the guy who always tried to appear religious and appear to have it all together.  He’d lived most all his life trying to keep the law.

And so…he truly didn’t understand his need for grace.  His need for forgiveness.  In fact, it probably was an honor for Jesus to be in Simon’s home among all the other “leaders” of the day.

Do you see why humility is so crucial to this entire process, to our entire walk with Jesus?  Simon wasn’t humble.  He was pious.  He was righteous.  He was a “good” person.

All this woman knew was gratitude.  She knew how desperately lost she was, what a train-wreck her life was and she knew Jesus had forgiven her and so the only thing she could bring to show great love.  She didn’t care what other people thought.  She’d raise her hands during the worship music.  She didn’t care if it wasn’t appropriate.  She would tell anyone who would listen – and some who wouldn’t listen – about Jesus, about her train-wreck, and about her complete restoration that was utterly undeserved and so she was flooded with gratitude.  “She who has much forgiven, loves much”

Simon – so focused on how religious he was – thought he deserved and thus he didn’t need gratitude.  That’s the difference.  “He who has little forgiven, loves little.”

Gratitude opens your soul to experience love and then you’ll become a great lover of others.   How’s your heart?  Do you feel like no one truly loves you?  Do you feel like you can’t truly love others?  Do you feel like your capacity for love is the size of a thimble or that you almost have this emotional defect where love is just simply missing?  It may have to do with gratitude.  Part II is coming and we’ll talk about this more next week at ManSchool.

uprising 7 gratitude

gratitude & humility…