Do Unto Others

Before the official ribbon was cut for the grand opening of Family Promise of Lower Bucks this morning, the hallway was packed with volunteers who want to help homeless families. There must have been more than 100 people!

Volunteers from many churches who wish to serve others socialized and networked. Many of the people, some who were early comers and others who recently joined, exchanged ideas and experiences about helping homeless families. Many of them knew each other. I ran into a few people I know and met others who wish to lend a helping hand.

Put A Little Love In Your Heart

By Jackie DeShannon

Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart
You see, it’s getting late, oh, please don’t hesitate
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place for you and me
You just wait and see

Another day goes by, and still the children cry
Put a little love in your heart
If you want the world to know, we won’t let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place for you and me
You just wait and see. Wait and see

Take a good look around and if you’re lookin’ down
Put a little love in your heart
I hope when you decide kindness will be your guide
Put a little love in your heart
And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place for you and me
You just wait and see
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart

Indeed, shelter and services for families and children in lower Bucks County is needed, and Family Promise of Lower Bucks is reaching out to meet that need. The plan is to focus on a few families at a time and mentor them to help them find a path to self sufficiency as well as meet their physical needs.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

–1st Thessalonians 5:11

http://www.fplb.org/what-we-do/

Nationally, Family Promise has a track record of placing 80 percent of families in self sufficient housing.

Today’s Family Promise event was a learning experience and showed that there are people out there who really care and want to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors. You could be homeless. I was. It’s good to know, as Carole King sang that “you’ve got a friend.”

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” — Matthew 7:12

 

 

Wossamatta U Evangelicals and The Homeless

Donald Trump is a window on what our culture, and on what some evangelical Christians who support him, has become. Trump was raised in a feel-good church, Marble Collegiate, home of Norman Vincent Peale who wrote the infamous The Power of Positive Thinking. The books ideas, which spread like manure, combined psychobabble with Christianity.

The term “self esteem” is ubiquitous. It basically tells people to feel good about themselves. The problem is not that we shouldn’t be positive, and not hang our heads down low, but the basis for feeling good about yourself.

Humans have a way of rationalizing behavior. Modern psychologists and others make excuses for bad behavior, and tell people “it’s OK” and that it wasn’t their fault. So they feel good about themselves, raise their self esteem without resolving human character flaws, which simply comes down to sin.

We have no good in ourselves.   “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” –John 15:5.

The chair yoga class I take at the public library in Levittown, PA offers great exercises for your health, but I laugh off the religious aspect of the class.  “Let the sunshine shine through you, the love surround you…”  The teacher also prompts the class to “bow to the teacher within.”  This says that we are basically good. As a sinner saved by grace, I disagree.

Left to our own devices, our human flaws, we don’t know how to treat others and love them unconditionally. For me, when God is my captain and follow his rules I can feel good about myself. When we bond with God, we can show people the love God gives.

“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” –Luke 10:27

Trump can bully a widow who doesn’t want to move from her dwelling and still feel good about himself. After all, he trumps how he gives people money and pays lip service to  feel good clergy such as Joel Osteen, who praises Trump as “a friend of our ministry” and “a good man.” Yet Osteen and other pseudo-evangelicals don’t tell us why.

The homeless in lower Bucks County, PA are marginalized, even considered as a group a persona non grata.  The surface, feel good, commercialized, culture of Bucks County where, like Engulf and Devour in Mel Brook’s Silent Movie, the almighty dollar is worshipped, has no room in the Inn for the homeless. As I mentioned in the previous blog, a worldly representative from the Salvation Army thinks the Levittown librarian is doing a community service by trying to rid the library of homeless people.

Mixing worldly views in the church is the problem today, as it’s always been. This is the affiliations Donald Trump has.

During the early church, the apostle Paul and his guys toured the early church to encourage them to practice fidelity to scriptures.  In my Sunday school class, we looked at a map that showed the apostle’s journey. I noticed that they were moving away from Cypress and remarked that the guys were running away from the Cyclops.  “Too much Greek mythology, Jeff,” a brother remarked.

That, of course, was a joke. But it’s no joke that churches have been mixing worldly views with Christianity.

A Westminster Seminary student once told me that the traditional, orthodox Protestant churches have more in common with the Roman Catholic churches that they do with their liberal Protestant counterparts, even in their own denomination! He called these churches “apostates”, which means that God isn’t even in the picture. My Mom used to call these feel good churches “social clubs”.

This is why Westminster Seminary was formed.

http://www.wts.edu/about/history.html

As I discussed in earlier blogs, it’s mostly the true believers who accept the homeless unconditionally and help them and expect nothing in return. They certainly are acting in a godly manner.

Family Promise of Lower Bucks County, which will hold it’s grand opening on Saturday, April 2 at 10 a.m., practices God’s grace by sheltering and feeding homeless families and taking them to the day center, where they can better themselves.

Resourceful and tricky as he is, if it was to his advantage, Donald Trump could probably find a way to recycle homeless people and turn them into Soylent Green, wafers people could eat. Maybe they could be used for communion in the churches that back Trump. And they would feel good about themselves! Instead of saying that the wafer represents Christ’s body that was broken for you when pastors administer communion, they can say “this is for your self esteem.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_Green

Trump and the phony evangelicals are a modern manifestation of P.T. Barnum.  As Ted Cruz says, “people like PT Barnum” but that “it is time to put away the clowns, the acrobats, and the dancing bears.” This also applies to Shrillery Clinton, who also lacks the fruits of the spirit. Although more straight forward that Trump and Clinton, Bernie Sanders is also a joke and advocates socialism, which is anti-Christian and very destructive.

“There’s a sucker born every minute”, to quote P.T. Barnum.

A large part of our country’s problems is a result of the church not having more influence on society. Church goers, read your Bibles and learn truth for yourself!  “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  –John 8:32

Don’t Talk About Us; Talk With Us

Family Promise of Lower Bucks County, the organization that will provide temporary shelter for families will debut on April 2 at 10 a.m. at it’s day center location at 578 Main Street, Tullytown, PA. Churches will take turns hosting families each week in the 30 day program to help get families back on their feet. http://www.fplb.org/

In the 30 day program, families will stay at the church in the evening and overnight. They will be taken to day centers each day, where they do their daily routines, look for jobs, get job training, and go to school or work.

The program is designed for people who have undergone hardship and are serious about returning to normal. For the safety and well being of all guests, people will be screened before entering the program and there will be strict rules.

At a recent Family Promise meeting, the speaker encouraged volunteers to interact with quests and act as a mentor.

This is the spirit that needs to blossom towards the homeless community.

It’s good to know that the churches in lower Bucks County are continuing to reach out and help those in need. That’s part of the job God gave the church. Physical, emotional and spiritual needs are something the church, empowered by God, can and should help people with.

One venue where the church is doing God’s work is at the community meals. The hosts sit down with their guest and let them know they care about them, develop relationships and listen to their concerns.

The churches in lower Bucks County are really needed to counter the  judgmental  school of thought towards the homeless, which must have come out of Wottsamatta U., certainly unchristian.

“As the homeless-run organization Picture the Homeless proclaims, ‘Don’t Talk About Us—Talk With Us!’ The homeless must be recognized as people worthy of empathy and respect,” wrote Joanna Laine in NYU Review of Law and Social Change. Right on!

One concern I found among the homeless people I started hanging out with two years ago is that people don’t want to socialize with them but keep them at a distance. Not all people do this. Interesting, it’s  mostly the churches and people of faith who have been showing empathy and respect towards the homeless.

Just as during  the civil rights movement, it’s the true church that will allow the homeless to overcome.

During the civil rights movement, there was a silent majority of whites that didn’t like the way blacks were treated. Dr. Martin Luther King appealed to these righteous people and woke them up, and demonstrated to the world that the status quo had to change. At the same time, he admonished his oppressed brothers and sisters to peacefully protest against the man, and to not, as is the case today, become an unruly, vindictive mob. MLK used the Bible as the argument for his cause. He challenged America to live up to it’s principles.

Likewise, homeless advocates can wake up the community by challenging people, pricking their consciences with scripture. I for one challenge the establishment to live up to it’s standards and show more empathy and respect towards the homeless.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, wrote Edmund Burke, and Irish statesman, whose writings influenced the Revolutionary War.

Family Promise is an example of the church shining God’s light on the world.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

— 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Getting Through the Slough of Despond

Life is a journey. So is homelessness.

Before I started hanging out with the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA two years ago, I had no idea there was homelessness in Bucks County. I also had no idea of what homelessness was like.

The image I had of homelessness was of people lying on storm grates in Philadelphia. One day, as my daughter and I walked to a school in the city where she was in a play, we had to navigate around people sleeping on storm grates. Even though we were in Philadelphia, I was still was somewhat taken aback by seeing homeless people out in the open like that.

In Bucks County I witnessed judgmentalism against the homeless. There is a group of area residents and some nearby public office employees who just don’t like homeless people in the library or at the nearby Veteran’s memorial. People scheme to constructively shoo them away. On one occasion, one cold winter morning, a woman with COPD, after coming from Code Blue, wanted to keep warm in the WIC building before the library opened. She couldn’t walk far and just needed to stay warm. She entered the public building, which was open.

She was run out for no other reason (after you cut through the BS they gave her) than that she was homeless.

Local establishments push the homeless away, such as McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King, especially Burger King. The exceptions in the Levittown vicinity are Wendy’s and Denny’s, who judge people by the content of their character and treat people based on their behavior when they visit.

Being homeless is tough. I lived in my car for a few months. I ended up getting cramps and my feet and legs swelled up. Some people live in tents. Things are tough during inclement weather. The worst time is just above freezing rainy, windy weather. Tents leak, the ground gets flooded. The woman at the WIC ended up lying in standing water and had to be taken to the hospital.

Some homeless people live on walkways, using pads and blankets, and have to pick up every morning.

Some homeless people have addictions and other mental issues.

Whether they brought it on themselves or, as Curly from The Three Stooges would say, are “a victim of circumstances”, the homeless are hurting.

Like all of us, the homeless need God. He never promised us a rose garden, but he guides the Christian’s path, and for those who walk in his ways, he brings good. There is no quick fix, but God has our backs and in the long run comforts us.

Life is a journey, and although there are rough times, challenges along the way, for the Christian, life has meaning and is good. God will get you through the rough times, which, by the way, he allows to happen for our benefit.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  –Jeremiah 29:11

The journey to a bright future is dramatized in John Bunyan’s allegory of the soul, The Pilgrim’s Progress. The story takes you along Christian’s journey from Graceless to the Celestial City, a tale of hope. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pilgrim%27s_Progress

I read Pilgrim’s Progress many years ago. I was despondent after a girl I had a romantic interest in blew me off. My mother noticed my state and had me read John Bunyan’s book. I highly recommend it. It can be found in the Levittown public library and maybe in other branches of the Bucks County Free Library System. It’s one way the homeless can spend their time productively and be comforted and inspired.

There is a way out of the Slough of Despond.