A Pastor’s Transformation

Pastor-homeless-peoplePastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured left) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.

As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation.

The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited– Matthew 25:31-46.

 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”

He then dismissed service until next week.

Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

flourishx

Bryan’s Note: Some have made this account to be nothing more than a “urban myth,” kind of a good piece of  Christian “schlock” that never happened. I personally can’t say for sure. I simply can’t vouch for its veracity. But all I really know is that it speaks to me in many ways about following Jesus. For that alone, I am thankful.

More of Jesus, less of Bryan.

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

About Barnacles and Masks

prayerforpast

‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS , 
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM  ME .”

Matthew 15:8, NASB

“Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.”  C.S. Lewis

This singular verse is set in a series of other verses– it certainly does not stand alone.  When these come together, we realize how much the Holy Spirit despises hypocrisy. He hates it, I suppose, because of the destructiveness wreaked on our spirits.

A father or mother may feel a hatred at the dealers who sell the drugs to their child. It’s not that they have any special animosity toward the pusher, but rather, they love their son so much. They will do whatever it takes to protect him.

I really think this is what Jesus feels when it comes to the purveyors of religious legalism, or hypocrisy. He burns with a holy hatred against this particular form of darkness. His vehemence seems reserved, not for sin so much as these lies of “religious pretending”. His repeated “roughness” has to be considered– why?

This should jar us into what is real, and all that is not. The word for hypocrite is “two-faced”. It was used in the Greek theaters for the masks worn by the actors. They would wear whatever the script called for. The audience never knew what was real, and what was only theatrical props.

With our lips (speech) we will honor God. We’ll only speak good things, and words (and actions) become an issue of being appropriate. We put on the particular mask of the moment, and enter the theater. Our hearts are hardly touched, and the deepest part of us becomes inoculated to the real presence of God.

The deep hatred Jesus has is due to the enormity of this sin. It is spirituality gone bad. Twisted and confused, with the shallow veneer of “respectability”. It seems to work for many of us. When our discipleship gets used to wearing masks, things can get very religious.

One last thought. Ships and boats often have to go into dry dock to be scraped clean. Weeds and barnacles can actually cover the hulls; they can severely impede the ships function. Periodic inspection is needed. Jesus wants us to be truly clean.

“Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.”

Charles Spurgeon

&

ybic, Bryan

Bryan.Lowe1@live

A Mighty Fortress, Understood

martin_luther2 (1)Martin’s Depression

The hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God gloriously celebrates God’s power. It was penned by the great 16th-century reformer Martin Luther, who believed God’s power could help believers overcome great difficulties — even depression. Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls. His compassion for those souls shines in numerous places, including his sermons, lectures, Bible commentaries and ‘table talks’. In addition, he devoted many letters to counseling troubled folk.

Luther’s writings reveal his knowledge of various emotional difficulties. For example, in August 1536 he interceded for a woman named Mrs. Kreuzbinder, whom he deemed insane. He described her as being “accustomed to rage” and sometimes angrily chasing her neighbor with a spear.

In addition, Luther’s wife, Kate, struggled with pervasive and persistent worry indicative of generalized anxiety disorder. Prince Joachim of Anhalt, to whom Luther often wrote, exhibited signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he believed he had betrayed and crucified Christ. Conrad Cordatus, a pastor and frequent guest at Luther’s table, exhibited signs of hypochondriasis, a disorder involving preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease.

Besides observing mental difficulties in others, Luther had a compelling reason to affirm their reality. Luther himself endured many instances of depression. He described the experience in varied terms: melancholy, heaviness, depression, dejection of spirit; downcast, sad, downhearted. He suffered in this area for much of his life and often revealed these struggles in his works. Evidently he did not think it a shameful problem to be hidden.

Satan as the “accuser of the brethren,” causes Christians to dwell on past sins. Such thoughts induce melancholy and despair. Concerning a friend’s depressive thoughts, Luther wrote, “Know that the devil is tormenting you with them, and that they are not your thoughts but the cursed devil’s, who cannot bear to see us have joyful thoughts.”   Luther recognized a spiritual truth about depression. One can expect Satan’s persistence until faith is destroyed, but in the midst of depression God is with us. He never leaves us alone. In the midst of trouble He draws near to us.

Sometimes the invisible God draws near through visible people, and they become the bearers of God’s comforting and strengthening words to troubled souls.  What’s more, God seeks to assure us of His love and esteem. And through His Word, He counters Satan’s lies with His truth.

Some Martin Luther Quotes

Luther's Seal
Luther’s Seal

“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.”

“Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.”

“Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father’s wrath on his shoulders, and he has drowned them both in himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous.”

*

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by Luther

1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing. 
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.  

2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? 
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.  

3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us. 
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him. 

*

ybic, Bryan

Quotes from, http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/

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