It’s no secret where to find me in the mornings when I’m not at the Church office. I’m usually studying or meeting people at one of the local Starbucks! The staff there knows me by name and even knows what I usually order. Once any new Starbucks employee gets used to my order, they know that I want a small coffee with soy milk and one packet of honey in my own mug. Yes I said honey. You should try it! …Sweet and natural. That brings my total up to something like $1.64. Like I said…SWEET!
I even have my own special thinking and reading corner in one of the coffee shops. Its hard for me to really dig in and create in any other spot but this one. I’ve noticed that there are other connoisseurs of coffee and interior thinking space that share a love for special spots like this one. When someone comes in and grabs the only other chair in this corner while I’m there I know that I’ve got a new friend in the making.
Last Monday morning I noticed a particularly big, burly, tattooed, rough customer ordering as I sat reading in my spot. My preacher “spidey sense” started tingling when I looked up from my book and saw that he had chosen the only chair in the corner next to mine and began to pull out a big laptop and begin working. As I was reading my new book, I couldn’t contain my laughter at one of the stories about a millionaire C.E.O. wearing blue jeans going into his bank. He closed his bank account after a rookie teller wouldn’t validate his parking ticket. The bank account he closed was worth 1.5 million dollars! Closing his account, of course, got his ticket validated and counted as a complete transaction. The story ended by saying not to look at appearances.
The man sitting beside me looked at me and even laughed a little himself when I laughed even though he had no idea about the story. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that this was all the entrance I needed. In a few minutes he was laughing about the story too and telling me about all the times people had been afraid of him, avoided him, discriminated against him, and even pulled their children away from him just because of his looks. He went on to say that people are often surprised when he is the one who stops to change their tire or protects them in a dark alley. By the way – My new friend turned out to be an ARCHITECT working on a big project while out of town in Columbus! He really liked it that I cranked up a Harley on stage during one of the songs last Sunday. I liked it too!
He was only back in town for the last year to care for his sick father before he died. He told me that he had the privilege holding his Dad as he died in his arms. He said there was nothing left unsaid between them and that every issue they ever had was forgiven and reconciled. What a blessing! The only sad part of his story was his family’s experience with religion when he was a kid growing up in Columbus. A preacher from a church down the street from his house came to his front porch one day and told his dad that he was no longer able to play with the preacher’s young daughters. Then, the preacher asked his dad to kneel with him to repent for his sins. During stories like these I always find myself feeling a little embarrassed even though I’m sure that this pastor would want the story remembered differently. The truth is that we all do need to repent for our sins. However, this pastor’s way of presenting repentance left a deep religious wound on this family and I didn’t want to repeat it.
The reason I’m writing this story is because God’s Holy Spirit gave me a response to this story that has become the point of the message this week. As it came out of my mouth, I knew that God was speaking not just to him, but to me! Here it is:
I Don’t Convert People. Only God Converts People. I Enjoy People. God Converts People.
I don’t believe in any kind of formula or guarantee when it comes to salvation and conversion. We know that the most important fact about converting people to Christianity is that God is in charge of salvation. However, I have found that God tends to use me the most to convert people who I enjoy the most! That statement really puts my heart in the right place. It helps me to see how much my attitude towards the people around me helps me show them Christ. My new big, burly, tattooed, architect friend showed me that. As he was talking I found myself thinking , “I really like this guy.”
The message this weekend is called “CHOOSE THE WRONG CROWD.”
You’ve always been told not to run with the wrong crowd, right? Its good to make sure that you aren’t being led astray by friends, but some people go too far. They equate spiritual maturity with isolation from the people who need God’s love the most! It’s not a sign of success, but failure, to have all the RIGHT friends. Its a sign of strength to be able to walk with the weak and love them!
Here is this week’s scene from the life of the REBEL SAVIOR.
That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples. But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”Matthew 9:10-13
“Scum? Did you say scum? These people are my friends!” That’s what I hear the voice of Jesus saying in this passage. “Don’t talk about my friends that way! We are going to have problems if you keep talking about my friends like that.” That’s what is behind all the commands from Christ about not to judging others. “How dare you judge my friends! You are no better! In fact, you’re worse because of what you think of them.” I think that this is his message for us here. “I’m going to heal and change them because they know they need me. Your stone cold hearts don’t have a chance until you realize you need me just as much as they do.”
I hope to see you THIS SUNDAY for week 3 of REBEL SAVIOR! CHOOSE THE WRONG CROWD.
EASTER is going to be huge this year. Here’s the scoop…
GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE – Interactive Passover Experience: The Rebel’s Last Meal – 6 PM, Friday, March 29th
EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES – Message: Rebel With A Cross!
7 AM- SUNRISE SERVICE – On The Front Lawn. (Meet Jesus and the Empty Tomb at Daybreak)
8 AM- BREAKFAST – Inside The Worship Center (Chef Roger Gamboa is Back)
9 AM- EGG HUNT – (Bring Candy and Plastic Eggs This Sunday)
10 AM- HUGE WORSHIP SERVICE ON THE FRONT LAWN!
We have all the room we need outside and we have a vision to “pack out” our outside worship space with as many people as possible. There will be a huge stage, our band, and a chair for you and every one of your friends! But, just to be nice, you could email me back about which service(s) you are coming to! Don’t forget to wear your Rebel Savior T-Shirt!
All for Jesus…”The Rebel With A Cross!”
Pastor David Rathel
P.S. – For much better RiverTown info written by staff members that really know what’s going on. Check out this week’s ENews.
P.S.S. – If anybody knows a generous tattoo artist who’s really great at Christian skin art let me know. We’ve got Idea… for our next giveaway!