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First Tip

This week I left a tip for the first time ever. It caught me a little off guard even though I was somewhat anxious to do it. A couple of things surprised me though after I left it. The first thing that surprised me was that it was not enough. The second thing that surprised me was how little I knew about giving tips. Perhaps instead of the excitement of my first one I should have thought more soberly about what I was giving.

Thankfully the operator at Polarisproject.org was more helpful than unappreciative. I called about a “tip” because of a rumor I had heard about potential human trafficking in northern PA. In actuality I was calling to report a little information I received about massage parlors giving more than massages. It made me angry enough to do something, but what struck me afterward is that it didn’t seem I had enough. I realized during the follow-up questions that I had little to no helpful information to solve the problem. All I really had was a problem, not even my own problem per say but someone else’s.

As a result they gave me a case number and said to call back when I received more info. It hurt my pride. It made me feel powerless in some ways that the information I had wasn’t enough, but in some ways I have hope because God knows what’s going on. Perhaps He spared me a little.  What made me sadder is how if human trafficking is taking place or even if these massage parlors are “just” selling sex “willingly,” I thought about the parents of those working at these parlors. No father would ever want their daughter doing sexual favors for a little bit of money off some exit on an interstate.

It led me to think of the even scarier thought that the parents of these women, like me don’t know the full extent of what is going on in their children’s lives, or worse they don’t care. That’s the sad truth, some parents don’t care. Thank God that He does. In the same vain, no parent wants to hear that their son or daughter is paying for sex either. Both victim and perpetrator are in the same boat. They seek something that they don’t have and as a result one exploits and the other lays down defeated. Both likely have ignorant or powerless parents.

Where’s the good news? Our Father is not powerless and He’s never been powerless. He was powerful enough to express the fullness of His wrath upon His own Son and see to it that Jesus rose from the dead in power and glory. That power and glory He pours out through His Spirit upon His church to do something about injustice. So the good news is He knows and He wants to share with us His tips about just what to do about it.

The Timing of Workers and the Timing of Friends

Generally when tragedy strikes, the timing for relief in the minds of those who are in need is immediate. That’s why we have fire extinguishers and life boats. But for catastrophes that devastate homes and the lives of thousands at once, immediate relief seems unattainable. Relief workers are trained or even birthed out of a need for response typically not from “I saw this coming”.

You may have seen some of this spring up quickly in your own heart or those close to you who are eager to help. Storms, attacks, wars take people by surprise. Some heed urgent warnings while others say, “it won’t be that bad”. In fact just prior to the most recent storm I recall reading numerous Facebook posts about how this storm was hyped up and would be smaller than it seemed. For many it was bigger than expected even in making preparations to brace it. So now after the storm its time to work and reconstruct. (Search reconstruct Jersey Shore)

But the lesson comes in timing, and timing in God’s eyes concerns itself is less about what happened when and rather what we did when He spoke. To give a few very quick biblical recaps, God told Noah to build an arc in preparation for a storm 120 years prior to and told him to get in the boat 7 days prior to destruction that leveled the earth. Jesus slept in a boat when a storm seemed like it was going to kill he and his disciples and as he was awakened from his nap he told the sea and wind to be calm. The Sons of Thunder James and John (Jesus’ disciples) wanted to call a storm of fire down from Heaven and are told it was never in the heart of God. The apostle Paul gets shipwrecked after a severe storm but prophesies that all will survive even though everything else would be destroyed.

With myself and my boss God spoke to us about how to weather a storm that wouldn’t affect us all that much. He’s from Louisiana a state that is still being reconstructed from Katrina 7 years ago.  In fact parts of the 9th ward are still crippled from what they once were. I’m only 3 hours away from my home New Jersey and hardly able to relate at all to loss of power, destroyed houses and coasts and lives especially since my week was an uninterrupted flurry of sending out materials. But four days prior God had been speaking to Jeff and I separately about a blog for  people living away from home working and the families without them. Tuesday morning we talked and the process of how we could help them was confirmed and set into motion. So the same day we bought a web domain called thereconstructed, without knowing what else was happening where I called home.

Then again what doesn’t He know and even more is there anything He doesn’t want to share with His friends?

Building from the Inside Out

You might be wondering what this is all about. Not necessarily this blog but life. Most of what you’ve seen has been the first layer. Our first impression of most everything is seeing it on the outside. When people plan a vacation, visit a job site, pick out a spouse or a best friend randomly from a crowd, their first impression or decision to go will most of the time be from what they’ve seen. Yet everything that we see first was first built/created from the inside. It started in the heart of man or the heart of God and then formed. The astonishing thing is only does the creator/Creator see things first from the inside out. No one else has that pleasure. Only the builder or those involved in a project can intimately know what went into the final product that the rest of the world sees on the outside.

The creator can than attempt to explain the process, but it can only be explained and not experienced. We don’t entirely know the joy God experienced in Creating people. A very loving parent understands a tiny bit. Similarly, I have no idea what went into creating the Grand Canyon, a 100 Grand, the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, the cow bell, or a McDonald’s hamburger but I can still enjoy them. I also don’t know that those who created such things enjoyed the process it took to create it, but let’s assume they did.

But what happens when rather than procreation we have to re-create or participate in recreation. Essentially all recreation is, is borrowing whether it be sport or exercise from someone else who first did something and had fun. Then we redo it at recess or home to get a similar or more sensational feeling. The process of recreation or reconstruction typically exists to do something better. For example in elementary school, we played soccer almost everyday in 4th grade. I played goalie and I got better. Why did we do it everyday? Because it remained fun, and we improved. A novel concept eh? Also logical. Similarly the idea in the heart of God is to make things new, Reconcile, Resurrect, Revive, Renew, all words you hear at Church more than anywhere else. Sorry if they are foreign. He is out to make me better after we chose to make ourselves worse. Thus, I must trust in my new birth and the reconstruction process that he has begun.

Why the process of Reconstruction rather than and instant miraculous changing of me into an angelic demigod? Because as I said only the creator/builder intimately knows its creation and similarly when I decided to agree with God’s reconstruction process I in turn get to intimately know the one who started this good work. That’s the good news for all of us. We start to find out what this was all about and we learn from the inside of His heart.

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house,  the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city,  the guards stand watch in vain.
1 Corinthians 3:12-14 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.

Setting Out

There is a part of the project that is always the toughest for most of us. It’s usually not the rain and mud, the heat of the summer or the snow sitting on top of that cold steel. It’s packing up at the house, saying goodbye and heading out to the job. Leaving the comfort and love of our family and friends to a place that is cut throat, mean and only the strongest, hardest working guys survive (unless your somebody’s brother or uncle but just keep reading).

1 Peter tells us of a similar story as writes to Christians who are going into foreign sinful, pagan lands.  He first reminds us of the incredible Savior we have in Jesus the “living hope” and he is with us every step of the way.  Going it alone is never even an option; if you’re going he’s going. He then reminds us that we are born again, saved from the bondage of sin and don’t have to live like the rest of them, reckless and troubled. We are totally free!

And if that wasn’t enough he goes on to tell us all of the blessings we receive for just having to deal with all the nonsense. Every time we get passed up for a raise or have to deal with someone’s idiot brother in law God puts something away for us. And this inheritance isn’t a Christmas present that we just put in our tool bag and let get dusty or breaks after the first use. 1 Peter 1:4 “An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading” Perfect. The inheritance we have will be unblemished like a 32’ Ford roadster that is the brightest red the world has never seen, never runs out of gas and you can drive it as fast as you want forever. All of the things that have been stripped from you by this world are in YOUR house in heaven. That’s good news because we are going to be stepped over, passed up and pushed back no matter what so I like knowing that I’m getting the last laugh!

-Jeff

After The Storm

Being from Louisiana I have experienced the destruction and loss created by hurricanes.  There is no arguing that these unforgiving storms show us how vulnerable and small we actually are. When you’re standing in your living room waist deep in brown water watching your pumpkins float down the hallway you figure out what powerless means.

Throughout history God has used these situations to bring unity and a dependence on Him to help his people make it through. I know when I first pleaded for the Lord to save me it wasn’t a joyful occasion; I hadn’t won the lottery or just received a great promotion in fact I was at the lowest point of my life. Everything that I had surrounded myself with meant nothing compared to the hurt and shame I was living in. Desperate broken and alone I asked Jesus for help and was changed forever.  I was as Paul spoke in Philippians 3:8 “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

When you take on the task of rebuilding a flooded out home the first thing you do is tear out all of the rotten, damaged materials. Once you get down to the bare wood, or foundation then you can start the process of turning the structure back into a home. It’s not easy but always remember that even if you have absolutely nothing left and just by simply looking up to Jesus your holding your head up high!

Kingdoms Built with Weapons

I had this dream a few days ago, where I was walking alongside a king while balancing a dozen weapons like someone who takes coats from their guests draping them over their arm. As we walked through his kingdom there were bodies floating in his fountains and on the side of the path like road kill. It was a semi-invasion but no one wanted to harm the king. He feared me even though, I wasn’t looking to fight. As the king walked nervously, I lagged behind to pay attention to his daughter, the princess and put my free arm around her to give her a kiss. I wasn’t entirely sure whose side I was on but I did know I was more preoccupied with the princess than the king and his kingdom. Ha!

My Father knows me too well. From watching me play video games He knew I collected weapons from fallen warriors and then sold them to the town blacksmith, but He had me pinpointed on the issues of the heart too. I don’t particularly enjoy being responsible for the masses, and I am typically more interested in the pursuit of romance than serving an insecure and suspicious leader. I can also put romance before the King of all kings. It took a giant taunting David’s God and His people with the promise of receiving the king’s daughter to stand just tall enough to kill Goliath. Then he served the suspicious insane king for years, the same king who gave his promised daughter to another man who David eventually captured back. Yet David, unlike myself or most was able to honor the king every way imaginable even when King Saul sent out parties to kill him.

More astounding is how David uses his imagination. He thinks up an idea to build a house/temple for God and sets out to accomplish it. But in building the temple, God tells David essentially this, “I love your idea to build me a home even though I don’t need a house made by human hands but my house cannot be built by one who sheds blood.” In other words you can’t build with weapons. David was a fighter whereas his son Solomon was not. Solomon’s reign was characterized by years of peace and was permitted to build the temple that was created in the heart of his father.

I’ve wielded weapons specifically with my words and have tried to use God’s word, but when the motive was wrong it never built up, it tore down. People are accustomed to being torn down. Look at the tactics of our political campaigns. But that’s not how kingdoms are built nor are the built by being proeccupied. Honor and vision are the tools and plowshares that God uses in place of swords and axes. Those are the things I hope to have on my coat rack of an arm. On the other arm why not a beautiful bride too, He doesn’t seem to think its a bad idea.

-We’d love to hear about what you think builds a kingdom, Sorry this site is still in construction.