Talk Is Cheap!

“Loving Jesus and Serving The World”, reads a logo on The Levittown Church Of God van. Although we who come to the free shared homeless and needy meals appreciate being fed, some of us expressed outrage with the attitude of the host, namely the pastor, at the meal last night. 

We he opened, he bragged that the church itself provided the meal.  “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” Matthew 6:2. 

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2 

The host started taking up table cloths, chairs, and even tables not much past 6:30 p.m., as people were still eating. The meal is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. Guests were not let in until 6:05. One of the guests asked if the meal was supposed to end at 6:30 p.m.   “Don’t you see, everyone is leaving”, the pastor snapped.  Shortly thereafter, as I sat, wiping my mouth with a napkin, the pastor, standing opposite me said something like “hope you had a good meal; we’re breaking it down…”.  As I finished wiping my mouth, he flipped the table, abruptly folding it up, almost dropping it on my lap!   

As we moseyed towards the door, some of the hosts subtly pushed us out, as if we were cattle!  Movin’ movin’ movin’. Keep them doggies movin’. Keep them doggies movin’, rawhide…  Move ‘em out! 

Except for graciously and generously offering the guests food, the hosts did not interact with their guests as they have in the past.  In the past, the pastor and other hosts have reached out to others. On one occasion long ago I talked with the pastor about a problem, which was later resolved. 

Christians should reflect Jesus. People are attracted to God through the way they treat others, by their love. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:20  

There always has and always will be those who, in the name of Christ, do not rightly reflect Him.  

Some of the churches that host the meals reach out to their guests to develop relationships and minister to them. Many of the hosts and their guests know one another on a first name basis.  These churches practice the philosophy that man does not live by bread alone, and offer guests spiritual as well as physical food. They are there for their friends who visit the meals, as are the guests who help each other. 

In “There Are Homeless in Bucks County; A Journey With The Homeless”, I elaborate on the value of the  shared meals as well as other aspects of homelessness in Bucks County, based on personal experience with the homeless here: 

I Don’t Get Mad

“I don’t get mad; I get even” is a phrase an old girlfriend hated, even in jest. For the Christian, when someone wrongs you, retaliation is not an option, nor is resentment — pent up anger. Being human, I find it hard not to act this way when someone wrongs me or my friends.

In Bucks County, PA, as in other areas, there is prejudice against the homeless. One homeless friend said that a place he visited treated him much different after he started taking a bag with him when he entered the place. People there evidently judged him for being homeless.

When someone does wrong, it’s OK, even righteous, to call out the offender, just for what he did. Attack principles, not people.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had to deal with a racist society. Yet, in 1957, he delivered the message of loving your enemies. “Begin with yourself,” he preached. “When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.”

Black Lives Matter and other vengeful people should learn from MLK’s preaching.

So should I.

The principle of loving your enemies comes from the Biblical message in Second Romans 5:10 “While we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.”

We were once enemies of God, until we were reconciled with Him. Likewise, we should reconcile our differences with those who wrong us. As it says in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”

This means that when someone wrongs you, the Christian, being a new creature, imitates Christ and forgives the offender and tries to make peace. We should hold people accountable for their actions, but not condemn them.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

— 2nd Corinthians 5: 20..

Indeed, I for one need to begin with myself. I’ve approached the line where I speak out against an injustice to where I get mad. This is counterproductive.

It’s easy to write off the homeless and others, some of whom can be problematic — even a royal pain in the ass-setts. As a counselor at a treatment center told visitors, never write off your loved ones with addictions, but set rules and create borders. This is righteous advice!

In order for the homeless in places like lower Bucks County, PA to overcome, they need to begin with themselves, and not succumb to anger or defeatism because of what judgmental people think of them. They need to get their act together. Years ago, a veteran’s counselor, whom I told about an unfair public official who tried to screw me over, told me that I will encounter A-holes, but don’t let them keep me down. Good advice!

Some of the homeless I deal with have the gimmees, begging rides, cigarette money, or other things, have threatened me when I called them out for inappropriate behavior in public, continued destructive behavior that hurts not just themselves but others after others and I have continually ministered to them, and some of them have just harassed me and others for sport.

Unlike Curly of The Three Stooges, who claims to be a victim of circumstances, I need to not let circumstances control my thinking. Instead, I need to continue to minister to the homeless community and not get mad, but put on the armor of God and defeat the enemy, starting with myself.

Don’t Drink The Kool-aid

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…”

— Beat poet Allen Ginsburg, from Howl.

The Beats were supposed to be so cool, man, cool. If you call decadent, perverted sex, drugs and bizarre, destructive behavior and a nihilistic attitude of life cool. Wonder what your meaning of “is” is?

In an interview, Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary 60’s folk singers fame, was asked if she identified with the beatniks. Mary answered an unequivocal “no”, and explained that the beatniks don’t bathe, don’t work, etc. The one thing she said she had in common with the Beatniks, however, is that she’s a rebel, speaking out against things she thinks need changing.

The Beatniks morphed into the Hippies, largely disciples of Allen Ginsburg. And the Hippies further devolved into yuppies.

Hope and change aren’t always complimentary.

Fast forward to Woodstock, a bastion of decadence, a prelude to the cults and the me generation of the 70s.

And along came Jones. Long tale Jones. Slick talking Jones, false preaching Jones. Along came Kool-aid pushing Jim Jones.

In a documentary of Jim Jones and Jonestown, Guyana, Jonestown survivors related how they became disillusioned with Jonestown and lamented their dehumanizing degradation and the loss of privacy and freedom in a police state. One survivor, in retrospect, wondered why he and others didn’t act a red flag they should have seen early on.

Before the tragic grand finale at Jonestown in 1978, Jim Jones did a dry run for the poison Kool-aid episode. He had members of his flock (whom survivors said he fleeced) drink the Kool-aid, telling them they will die. Jones very well may have been mimicking the Bible story where God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, only at the last minute to stop the sacrifice in order to test Abraham’s obedience.

Jim Jones thought he was God.

People were taken in by Jones’ welcome grin. Guyana, which, according to the documentary on CNN, was a socialist state in 1972, welcomed Jones, a comrade in arms, a fellow traveler.

Jones and his henchmen preyed on the weak and needy in society, including a homeless person who was picked up in California and lured to the utopian promise of hope and change of Jonestown, Guyana.

When people don’t have solid values, then anything is possible. Jonestown Guyana is a perfect example. If people don’t follow the true, unadulterated Word of God, and practice it, destruction isn’t far behind.

During the Reformation, Martin Luther started a practice where anyone, from any walk of life can challenge the clergy on the truth of scripture, and one another.

Jesus is the solid rock on which I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the allegory of the soul, Evangelist” points up, directly to God.

The Romantics in the 18th century, as a college professor told my class, were the forerunners of the flower children. They believed that the love of nature leads to the love of man. Wrong! For the Christian, the love of God leads to the love of our fellow humans.

I went to a conference the spring before last where the theme was “Reflecting God”. A analogy was made to the moon. The moon has no light of its own but gets it from the sun. Likewise, we reflect God’s love; we have no goodness apart from him.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” — 2 Corinthians 5:20

The ultimate hope for the homeless community and our nation is God. Dig, man?