The Real Deal

You know that God must be up to something when a person with bright-colored hair walks into your church.   Bill came to our church a few months ago, and you could see him coming a mile a way.  His hair was neon pink.  The next time I saw him, it was green. Now it is bright red. Wildness might just be his natural color.  Sitting down to talk with Bill was an experience.  Jesus saved him out of a life of numerous addictions, and now Bill has real compassion for anyone stuck in those traps. He will pick up stray folks off the street who are trying to get their lives together.  He puts them to work in his auto body repair shop and begins to invest in them.  Bill is the real deal; all you have to do is meet him once and you can tell that he loves Jesus.

I got excited about Bill coming to our church.  He and his wife asked me many questions about our missions and outreach programs.  After a few hours of Bill discovering if our church was for real, I had to ask him, “What’s up with the colored hair?”  Bill said that he colors his hair all the time.  One of the reasons that he does this is to see if people will accept him, especially in churches.  If he goes into a church and no one will talk to him, he feels that church must not be for real. (James 2:2-4)

I am happy to say that everybody at our church has been very accepting of him.  In fact, when he and his family decided to join the church, he asked if he could just sign a piece of paper.  I told him “No way.”  He would have to walk up to the front of the church to join.  We wanted the hair!  Bill and his family joined at our contemporary service where mostly younger people attend, but I did wonder if our older folks would accept him at the traditional services as well.

One day, Bill sat right in front of a couple named Dewey and Betty.  They had just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary and they are pretty  “old school.”   Dewey reached out to Bill and said,  “Young man, what is your name?”  Betty and Dewey introduced themselves, and they found out that this guy with crazy hair really loves Jesus.  Bill went on to describe how he loves others.  He reaches out to the less fortunate, the drunk who can’t keep a job, the drug addict off the street, even those who have ended up in prison.  When Betty heard this, she got a big lump in her throat.  She grabbed Bill with her aged hands and looked right at him with eyes starting to tear up and said, “Our son, David, is in prison.  Do you think there is any way you could reach out to him?”

Bill was actually scheduled to go in two weeks to the prison where Dewey and Betty’s son was incarcerated.  Bill started to get nervous; he really wanted to see their son, but it was not under his control. You see, when Bill goes into the prisons, his group makes popcorn and funnel cakes to treat the prisoners.  Bill’s responsibility is to make the funnel cakes, while the others do most of the talking with the prisoners. Bill became really concerned that he would disappoint Betty and Dewey……what if he could not find their son? Cooking funnel cakes is intense work, and the prisoners really want those funnel cakes.  How could he get out from behind the cooker to even begin looking for David?   So Bill simply began to pray.

 The day came when they were scheduled to go to David’s prison.  The sky looked like it was going to pour.  Bill’s truck and trailer had two flat tires on the way.  It seemed like nothing was going right, and yet Bill’s mind was focused on one thing: “Lord, let me meet Betty and Dewey’s son.  They are counting on me.”

They finally got there and got set up, and almost four hundred prisoners lined up for the funnel cakes.   Bill kept his head down, making one funnel cake after another.  He barely had time to breathe, much less take a break to look for one man out of four hundred.  He could not look up, but he kept praying.

After hours of cooking, Bill finally found one moment to stop.  He looked up at the prisoner who was directly in front of him.  (There was still a long line with hundreds of others.)  This was the only prisoner Bill had been able to actually talk to all day.  Then he just blurted out, “Would your name happen to be David, and are you Betty and Dewey’s son?”  The prisoner just stared at this crazy, colored-hair guy for what have must have felt like an eternity.

The prisoner finally replied, “How did you know my name and who my parents are?”  Bill gave a big sigh of relief and thanked the Lord. Then Bill’s eyes began to tear up and his heart swelled as he gave David the message that his parents love him and Jesus loves him.  After meeting David, Bill could not wait to go tell Dewey and Betty what only God could have done. That is the real deal.

Invest in the few, change the world.

Dave Marshall

“The 50 Club vs. Hollywood Marriages”

I have to be honest.  I have a hard time keeping up with the latest current events.  We do not have cable at our house, so I am really not that up-to-date with the latest celebrity news.  However, I could not help but notice the latest Hollywood marriage that only lasted 72 days before someone filed for divorce.   I am not writing this out of judgment.  I really do not know anything about that marriage. I am just sad that this is what makes front-page news.  I would love to give you better news today.

Last week at our church, over 50 couples celebrated being married over 50 years. These couples had weathered the storms of life together by sticking to the commitment they had made to the Lord. We had a fellowship hall full of role models, heroes, and superstars.  The stories around each table were inspiring, real, and very much admired.  Some had lost children.  Many had gone through disease and illness.  Some were still caring for an ailing spouse that week.  Everyone’s story was very different, but there was one common thread to the longevity of each “superstar” marriage.  Each one had a rock-solid commitment to Jesus Christ.  And each person was committed to his or her spouse.

Three couples tied for the longest marriage, which was 67 years.  Miles and Ann were one of those couples. I asked Miles around a table of friends, “Miles, how did you make it all these years?” Miles made some kind of self-deprecating statement like, “Well, somehow she puts up with me.”  Everyone laughed, but do not be mistaken.  Miles is a 90 year old rock star in my book.  Miles has a passion for Jesus Christ. He consistently reads the Bible and he is always in church.  He faithfully attends a Saturday morning prayer breakfast with many of the husbands of the “50 Club.”  Miles leads the singing at the prayer breakfast.  Every week he also writes a poem to inspire us all to draw closer to Jesus.  Miles even volunteered a few years ago to help build one of the Habitat for Humanity homes.  He loves Jesus, he loves his wife, and he loves our church.

Miles and Ann should be on the front page of newspapers, websites, and TV reports around the world.  When I think about my marriage, I have some great role models to look up to in Miles and Ann. So move over Hollywood, and let me introduce you to some real celebrities.  Miles will even give you his autograph.

Invest in the few, change the world.

Dave Marshall


Making Disciples in the home.

MARRIAGE

by my good friend Tim Mathisen

•In order to succeed in raising godly children we believe our marriages must take first priority. Our personal relationship with God should be first, spouse second, and children third. Healthy children require healthy marriage and an involved Dad.

•Don’t let children take over/control our marriages.

•Put young children to bed early. Kids are not getting the sleep they need and Mom and Dad need time together.

•Date night/breakfast once a week.  Be creative for specific time alone.

•Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, Eph 4:26

•Keep the walls of separation and anger away.

•Pray every night together, even nights-wife, odd night-husband. It’s hard to be angry at each other when you pray together.

•Pray for your spouse daily. Ask is there anything I can do for you today?

•Set an example you would want your children to emulate in their future marriages.

Loud Silence- Making disciples in the family.

Making disciples mostly means spending time and investing.  And in today’s society it is so easy to take for granted the family.  When I was in youth ministry in the 1980’s one of our kids in the group had a band named Loud Silence.  That name always cracked me up because they were anything but silent.  In looking at the Bible and the life of Christ, the loudest silence in all of Scripture is the 30 years that Jesus stayed in Nazareth with His family.

30 years, 90% of the life of our Savior and Lord was with family.  No miracles that we know of, no big things, just hard work being a carpenter.  To me this is the loudest silence in all of scripture.  Jesus was about the family.