Aug 28

“Jesus and Wal-Mart Chicken”

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15

Kim sent me into the Wal-Mart to pick up some potatoes – Yukon Gold, if they had them (they didn’t). I was hungry, so I was happy to run this errand for us – and pick up a snack for me! Upon walking in the door, I decided to inquire about the Buffalo Wings.

I walked up to the counter and was greeted by a twenty-something young man with those earlobe-stretching earrings. His looked to be about an inch in diameter. I’ve never understood that particular fashion accessory, but by now I’m used to seeing things I don’t understand. Anyway, I was asking him about the chicken and he was trying to answer, but seemed distracted. Turns out he was. He asked me a question:

“What religion are you?” He asked. I was a little surprised at the question: I mean, when you’re wearing a button that says “Jesus is Lord”, usually people know what your religion is. “I’m a Christian,” I said.

Then he began to talk to me: “I’m thinking I need to get into religion. You see, I was homeless until I was sixteen years old. And now I’m in a little trouble. And I’m thinking maybe I need religion so I don’t get in trouble again.” We spoke for a few more minutes. I gave him my name and number. Told him I was a Minister (He didn’t know what a “Minister” was!). Explained that my job was meeting people, learning about them and helping them find the help they need in Jesus and His church. Then we parted company and once again I was surprised at how Jesus had come to Wal-Mart.

You never know what path people are traveling. So we need to be prepared. Prepared with Good News. Prepared with confidence in Christ. Prepared to listen. And, above all, prepared to be pleasantly surprised when people don’t fit into the boxes we’ve prepared for them. What if all of us were more open about our Christ-following as we went about our daily business? How often would we be pleasantly surprised at Jesus’ coming to Wal-Mart, revealing Himself to someone we wouldn’t normally know?

Aug 17

“The Donkey”

“Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?’ And Balaam said to the donkey, ‘Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!’” – Numbers 22:28-29

Funny, isn’t it? Balaam, in grave danger – the angel of the Lord was sent, sword in hand, to destroy him – was saved by his donkey. A donkey who had more understanding than the prophet. A donkey who saw the danger and took evasive action. A donkey who was beaten for her trouble. Rough day for the donkey.

Balaam was unaware of his dire situation. He was blind. Literally. He could not see the angel that was sent to kill him. And, so, despite the fact that the donkey, grounded in truth, was looking out for him, he lashed out. Good thing we don’t do things like that anymore – right?

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes we do “beat the donkey” who is just trying to help us see what we don’t – or won’t – see. We don’t like how the donkey changes our direction. We don’t like the discomfort, the pain that often accompanies the change in direction. So we lash out. So we hit back. This, in spite of the fact that the donkey is doing everything he can – even enduring the pain of our lash on his back – in order to save us from certain death.

Sometimes, when the donkey is given voice to speak to us – to speak words of wisdom, to speak the truth in love,” to “bruise” us with necessary rebuke – we even argue with her. Like Balaam did. We’re geniuses, aren’t we?

Sometimes I’ve rejected the rebuke given to me because I knew the “rebuker” too well. Because I knew the rebuker’s history. “They’re no smarter than I am. In fact . . .” Anyway, you “know the drill.” We look for reasons to not heed the needed warning, when the truth of the matter is . . . we don’t want to change! Maybe it’s just me . . . but you know it’s not just me, don’t you?

Fact is, even as God sent Balaam’s donkey to deliver him, God sends people our way to keep us out of trouble. Listen! The donkey might be right!

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