Do You Know?
Many people just don’t think about it.
Some people worry about it.
Other people have prepared for it.
But the question is…
Do you know?
There was a time when I didn’t know.
I lost sleep over it.
I worried every night.
I wanted to know.
I had gone through the motions… but still
I wasn’t sure.
I know some people today find it hard to know.
I want everyone to know.
Yesterday I needed to stop by the my wife’s pre-school for a short
garden clean up. Dead flowers from the fall made this special garden
a little messy.
When I pulled up, Pat. a woman that helps her friend Karen clean the school ran out
frantically motioning me to come into the building.
“Karen has passed out and was on the floor,” she told me.
We called 911…
I believe that Karen was ready… I trust so… I hope she knew…
I hope she knew that her soul was safe in our creator’s hands.
I realized that I want everyone to know what they are missing by not having the God of creation in their life.
I want all to know that about two thousand years ago - God put on earth clothes and came in the form of the person of Jesus. He went around doing good.
Yep, that’s it.
Jesus loved people, fed the hungry, cried with the widows and healed the sick. All those acts under the scrutiny of the religious leaders of the day. He was a maverick and didn’t care what people thought. Jesus didn’t always do what was right under the law, but he always did what was good.
So, do you think about it?
Do you worry about it?
Are you prepared for it?
Be the maverick in your world. Step out of your comfort zone and follow the example of Jesus.
Death will knock on all of our doors someday.
So live your life doing good, follow Jesus and give your soul to Him and in the end, you will be prepared to meet the next level of our existence.
Please settle this in your heart today.
We will miss you Karen.
FERRIER FILES: Finding a home for the homeless in a Nashville tiny house
by Dennis Ferrier
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — J.R Davis never knows what the day will bring.
The Project Nashville checks on homeless camps. Sometimes people need to go the hospital. Sometimes they just need food or water.
Mostly they just enjoy feeling cared for, which explains in many ways why there is a beautiful tiny home sitting at Brook Hollow Baptist Church parking lot for a year.
To make a long story short, there was a proposed tiny house community.
Davis raised the money, got a church youth group, and built this house.
Then the deal to buy the property for the tiny house community fell through and this became the house without a home.
"So my challenge today is two fold," Davis said. "I need this to help the homeless, and we need a house. This place has homeless DNA. I also need a mover through the a generous heart to come and move this to a final resting place."
Alot of people have stopped and made offers as high as $10,000, but they want a hunting lodge or a playhouse. Davis said no way.
“We are willing to give it away, but it has got to go to the homeless," Davis said. "Let’s move it faster than you can say bob’s your uncle."
Who knows, maybe someone from the woods could one day call this home.
“The second someone says 'I have had enough get me out of here', we get them out of here,” Davis said.
If you have a great home for the tiny house, contact Davis at The Project Nashville.
I have had breakfast, lunch and dinner with many awesome men who are walking in the path of Jesus.
These men of God are men you all would want to have on your short list of people to share a meal with.
Personally I am constantly wanting to surround myself with wiser kinder people then myself.
May be hard to believe but I struggle every day...
There are days I don't want to get out of bed...
Perhaps it is my struggle with depression - or the real J.R. who has to force himself to be outgoing.
No it does not come naturally for me, I have to work every day on being a good person.
Don't get me wrong, at 61, I have a pretty good handle on this struggle, but I love finding out how other men of God are dealing with life.
One such man is Father Charles Strobel.
... and I had breakfast with him this past week.
Years ago when I was introduced to this man, my business partner H David Smith, Charlie embraced me and took me into his circle of friends.
Lets stop here for a second... and let you in on a few lessons I have learned from this man.
LESSON 1 - Ask yourself "Am I embracing people and letting them into my circle?"
Just a question I have to constantly ask myself.
Back to Strobel.
Back in the early 90's I was asked to help the The Room in the Inn Board with marketing material to help rase money for the new building. It was a clean white color project.
I say that because as I entered the compound, i would quickly walk though the hundreds of homeless people hanging at the doors, avoiding eye contact, avoiding pan handlers and quickly enter the office with a sign of relief.
Through this process I got to know Father Strobel.
Our first meeting I walk out and said to myself... "I was just in the presence of Jesus" -
Now some of my conservative Souther Baptist friends may question my faith when I'm so enthusiastic about this Catholic Priest but I am reminded what Paul from the Bible said to some people -
"if you don't understand who this Jesus fellow is - just follow me for a week and you will get it".
Wow! That I could ever be so bold.
But if you want to see who the man we call Jesus was all about - spend just a day with Father Strobel.
It was this man that showed me how to have a heart for people with struggles.
LESSION 2 - Strive to walk this life like Jesus did.
At this breakfast we talked about so much. One thing stood out, this man struggled with life just like the rest of us. Isn't it great to know that you are not alone?
LESSION 3 - Open up to others and let them peek behind the smiley face you have. Your honesty of your struggles may encourage another person to persevere.
Finally we started talking about the legalism that some faiths impose on their followers.
He gave me some great insight on the subject.
The Good Samaritan story is one that we are all so familiar with.
You remember the story, a man was in a ditch - beaten and perhaps near death.
People passing by ignored him, some moving to the other side of the street .
We focus on the people who passed with out helping with indignation.
How could they not stop?
Then YEA! Finally!
A good man - the good guy stops and helps the man - taking him to a place that would help him heal and paying for his care.
Father Strobel pointed out that there was much more to the story than bad people passing him by and a good man helping.
He explained that in the culture of the day - you didn't get near an unclean person. It was the Law...
So in a way - the people passing by were obeying the law.
Now here is the Kicker..
My friend sitting across from me as we ate our eggs and drank our coffee said to me.
"There is doing what is right... and then there is doing what is good."
In the oppressive law of the day - you don't touch the unclean.
But what was right as a human was to help this beaten man.
LESSON 4 - Ask yourself - Who are we walking past? How can we walk past those in need?
We must extend our hand to those in need - without hesitation - without question - without judgment.
Lord help me JR Davis to not walk past anyone in need.
I hope you pray that prayer yourself.
Thank you Father Strobel for your friendship, mentoring over the years and example you show us all every day.
Its not a pretty picture...
Yes, it is not a pretty picture but it is that of a man out of jail for three days - he by-passed a halfway house and went straight for the sauce...
He had been laying in the dirt for hours - His camp mates, a man and woman told us that they had tried to wake him but he just lay there in the heat. We checked to see if he was alive and he was - but for sure he was in danger. We shook him until he started responding. Finally he got up and started drinking the sports drink we offered. He was on the edge of getting irritated with us but calmed as he ingested more drink. The temp was in the 90s and he was sure to be dehydrated. So we stayed around until he could talk and make some kind of sense.
We found Chad passed out at a neighbors camp... he was passed out with a hatched by his side.
Earlier we visited his camp on the hill and left him some food and drink. He roused and told us that he was just trying to get away from the noise... He was in a friends peaceful camp looking over the Cumberland river.
For the last year we have tried over and over to get Chad and his brother off the streets but meth continues to beat us to the doors of their tent every week.
So we continue to offer hope to the hopeless, food for the hungry and help for those who will take our help.
We need more volunteers to prepare plates of food.
If interested please contact us.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
The Project Nashville
This day was different.
I had an uneasy feeling...
It was a strange anxiousness I felt in my gut...
Really haven't had the feeling before...
But yet it had a familiar sense to it...
The day was Wednesday and my team of Men of Valor Men and I were going out to see if we could bring hope to some of the folks on the streets of Nashville - just like we do every Wed.
But Today I had "this feeling".
I didn't want to go to the same ole places - A camp in the south of town - a camp in the west of town - the park in down town... The feeling was steering me away from those easy targets for us.
When the men were loading up in the van they all asked "JR where are w e going today?".
I simply answered "I don't know" and I didn't know.
Earlier I had driven by a group of homeless men sitting near their south of town camp , so I swung the van by their hang out - handed out some Mac D's and a couple sleeping bags - but that only took 20 minutes. We still had an afternoon to work the streets.
I started driving down town and the questions still persisted - "Where are we going"?
I didn't know...
We drove in silence for a few miles.
My mind spinning trying to think of a different place to go today.
The uneasiness rumbled again...
Why - why or what was weighing on my soul.
Then it hit me.
Earlier that week I had helped a new couple on the streets get back to their camp.
So the thought hit me to take them to dinner with us.
Settled on that plan o f action I turned the van towards their camp.
The camp is a dump site inhabited by a few tents in the middle of the piles of trash dumped over the years. We parked and headed into the woods at the dump.
One man was outside his tent.
"Have you seen ?"- and I named the couple's names -
The man told me that they had moved out that same morning.
OK then why were we here? - I thought.
The uneasy feeling that I had had subsided once the decision was made to take the couple to dinner but now they were gone... so I focused my attention on the man in front of me.
"What's your story?" I asked.
He told me that he and his brother moved to the camp when their mother died in July.
They lost the house - got into Meth - and had been on the streets ever since.
I listened to his story and when he finished I asked the question my spiritual mentor Bill Howard taught me to ask - "So how does God fit into your story?"
That's it - that is all you have to ask - it is a beautiful door that opens to expose the face of Jesus.
The man named Chad, started crying.
He told me that he and his brother were praying the night before that somehow they would be able to get off the streets and off drugs.
I told him that I could help him.
He hugged me and continued in his tears to tell me that we were an answer to prayer.
I believed him - remember I was not going to go to the same places we visit every week...
I asked if he was hungry - and I knew the answer - he was.
We invited him to go eat with us. His brother was out pan handling so I suggested we get him a meal also. Chad whet to dinner with us and refused to eat his food as he wanted to eat with his brother Jeramy so he could discuss the options I had suggested to him with his brother.
Back at his camp Jeramy was waiting for him anxious no knowing where his brother had gone.
Chad told his brother that we could help them and asked that we come back the next day.
The next day I stopped by the camp to pick them up - but they were nowhere to be found. I stopped in a couple more times but they were not at the camp.
A week later I saw Jeramy and he told me that they had contacted a relative in Texas who was coming to pick them up and take them to be with their family.
Jeramy with clear eyes thanked us for the hope were were able to offer them and assured us that they were going to be OK.
What was this all about?
There was no real effort we extended these brothers.
We bought a few burgers and fries...
We didn't enroll them in a Re-hab program...
Didn't do much at all.
I firmly believe that a force greater the me - kept me uneasy all day to direct me directly to Chad and Jeramy with one purpose.
To offer HOPE.
Yes don't wig out -
I believe that force was the Creator of the Universe God Himself who led us down that road - behind a vacant warehouse in a dump next to the rail road tracks to meet Jeramy and Chad.
What's more - I believe that they both needed someone to tell them that there was hope and that the God they prayed to was real and in the business of answering prayer.
We were able to do just that.
Sometimes that is all we need to do.
Offer HOPE to someone to day - it may change their life.
I had met with him once before and was totally intrigued by his positive attitude.
The last time we met we had a common connection to Memphis Tennessee.
Kathy, my bride was from Memphis and he grew up in that town.
So a year had passed and he remembered our first visit.
Vincent still had that great smile and incredible gratitude towards God for all the blessing He had given him over the past year.
I had to apologize to Vincent for not writing... some policy had changed regarding letters...
He told me he understood and that was the norm in his life...
He asked me about my oldest son Johnathan who was with me the first time we had met.
I told him that he was coming... but later found out that he was turned away at the gate... Something that happens upon the whim of staff.
I told him that his picture was in my office.
He smiled even bigger and said it was nice to know that there were some who cared.
Vincent told me that he was always trying to stay busy.
I could not imagine what that "busy" actually looked like.
From what I could see through the Pie Hole - he had a cot size bed - a book shelf - a shelf with some food items, mostly junk food.
Oh yes there was a toilet and sink.
We talked about surface stuff - but mostly hope and God and gratitude.
Before I knew it our time was up.
I didn't want to leave - I wanted more time with Vincent.
I wanted to talk and encourage and love on him.
The guard was getting closer and Vincent said he didn't want me to get into trouble...
I was the last in the pod except for my good friend The Rev. - Chaplain over the prison.
I told him that I loved him and he told me that he loved me too - we shook hands and I left Death Row.
I had a lump in my throat and still do when I think of him.
I learned three things from Vincent that day.
1 - No matter what your circumstances there is always Hope.
2- Nothing - I mean Nothing - should stop you from having a positive attitude.
3 - God is always there for you and offers peace that we simply can't understand.
I ask that you hold your friends and family tight this Thanksgiving.
and remember Vincent.
Do you want to get out of here?
That was my question to a 40 something woman sitting on the bridge overlooking her camp on the south side of Nashville.
We came to hand out food for the occupants of that camp. They were hungry as they are every day. Instead of feeding themselves with pooled-panhandled money they buy a case of beer to keep their high on.
Today a rout salesman bought the beer as an excuse to catch a buzz in the middle of his day.
I see this frequently - a person from the neighborhood brings booze to homeless hang outs so they can drink... NOT A HELP FOLKS>>>
The lady looked up and saw me and immediately reached up to hug me. As we hugged she pulled me down to sit with her and ask - "would you pray with me?".
I didn't ask as for what or why I just started praying.
I looked into her sad eyes and saw someone lost to the world. We talked and she loves Jesus...
but just could not seem to get out of her situation.
I asked her if she wanted help getting out of the dirt... and was ready to move when she told me "Yes Please Help ME!".
I was ready to get her into a rehab program that would take her in her condition.
I was ready to move heaven and earth to help...
But she didn't say "Yes Please Help ME!"
She looked at me - her arm around m shoulder and mine around hers...
And said "No I just want my computer updated so I can use it."
She did want to talk to her mother so she called her on my phone.
I kept it on speaker to rudely listen in on her conversation.
Her mother was worried and willing to pick her up anywhere anytime...
but she blew her off. Hanging up she started complaining bout her mother always hastening her.
From what I heard her mother was only willing to help and didn't in my opinion say anything other than encourage her to take care of herself.
The pain goes deep for our people on the streets.
They are hungry every day.
They need hugs every day.
We may not be able to cure homelessness but we can show the love of Christ by meeting them where they are - feeding them with love prayer encouragement and food.
Make a sandwich and give it away to day.
We get a "THANK YOU" every once in a while but this one was special.
Last summer I met Larry and his wife. They had just gotten off the streets and into an apartment.
Larry ask me if we could help him out with a mattress because the one he had was sagging in the middle. I said "No Problem" - Because it has been no problem meeting the needs that come to TPN due to people like you who support us. It really is amazing… we have had no need that we could not fill.
Anyway - as you may recall… we put the word out that we needed a mattress.
Immediately Sandy Griffin found a king mattress - we just had to pick it up.
While we were trying to arrange pickup - Larry called and told me that he had gotten some pillow cases and sheets and pillows delivered by UPS. Then he called and said that a complete new bed was delivered - and by week end a new mattress for the bed - comforter and all the FRU FRU stuff that goes to making a bed look nice.
I checked my sources and found that someone had gotten the request for a mattress - and went on line and purchased everything.
Larry and his wife were so grateful.
So I get a call from Larry this week to thank us for our help.
He told me that he has a job - his wife has a job and life is good.
THIS IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT
People helping People.
Larry is off the streets - out of the dirt and doing well.
Thanks to all for your faithfulness and support of those in need.
Activists for homeless - inmates and the poor of this world.