Back Home…

I am back in my home.
Laying in my bed.
And I can’t sleep.

Other than my dog…it’s extremely quiet around here.

Almost too quiet.

It seems so strange to be back. I was always outdoors. Out in the open. Now I’m in a box of a room. It seems so small. Yet it’s big.

But I’m not going to lie. The bed is awesome.

Attending Easter lunch at Jesse’s house was fantastic. It was great to see his family and learn more about his life.

For dinner, Jesse, my parents, and my local friends had dinner at my place. I thought it might be awkward to have both come together. But it was amazing.

God bridges those gaps when we allow him to…

Here’s the reality.

I got to go home to a bed.

Over 3,500 people tonight did not have a Lenten timetable to be on the streets.

It seems wrong. Was it a simulation?

I hope not.

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Risen

Mark 16:1-8

The Resurrection

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?”

Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished.

He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now—on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”

They got out as fast as they could, beside themselves, their heads swimming. Stunned, they said nothing to anyone.

Christianity started once the Mary’s announced “Christ is Risen.”

The good thing is that we don’t have to be afraid or trembling. Christ is ahead of us in Galilee. Already at work!

In Your life
In My life

All we need to do is follow the Risen Lord!

Our fear as been turned into hope.
Our death has been turned into life!

Christ is Risen
He is Risen Indeed

Today. Jesse came with me to church. He was famous. People were glad to get to know him and say thank you for looking after me.

Today I will go eat with Jesse’s family and get to know his mother. I cannot wait! Tonight, I have Easter dinner with my family and friends at my house!

This experience has been not about me. It’s first about Jesus Christ. And Second, it’s about guys like Jesse.

I am a fallen person who makes mistakes everyday. Everyday. I Made plenty of mistakes during this journey.

The good news:

God forgives.
He is Risen.

——-
I will share more about the end of my journey this week. Thanks for following.

Happy Easter.

Community

A few weeks ago, the second night I slept under the bridge (which happened to be the night after I slept under a bridge for the first time) was a nervous night for me.  I was not afraid of any apparent danger by other homeless people…but I was afraid to get busted by the police.

SAPD had already given me a warning for trespassing and was told the next time I would receive an actual violation. But my friends made me feel better…they told me because the bridge was busted the night before…it was unlikely that it would happen 2 times in a row….(I don’t know how sound the logic was…but it sounded good.)

That night, Jesse made the decision to not sleep because he could not sleep well during the night (the talking, trains, etc…) and needed to have a less stressful environment.  I thought it was funny to assume a bridge is more peaceful than the outdoor shelter…but in someways, it is true.

After meeting 2 other friends who were homeless, CT and Lindsey, we went under the I-10 bridge to find our spot and create a large pallet.  (Jesse forgot his blankets…so we needed to combine resources.)

Unlike the night before, where I was in bushes in between bridges, we found an area truly under the bridge with a exit ramp close to where we were sleeping.   It was louder, but still constant enough to get used to the sound to sleep quite well.

The ground was not smooth but covered in gravel…so we laid all of our sleeping bags and blankets down for padding and used a friends giant blanket to cover to stay warm.  Jesse,  who does not like group pallets, used my bag to sleep in.  (See Photo)  Unlike most Spring nights, where the weather is cool….this night was cold…so it made it even more communal.

A few years ago, when I was a youth pastor at UUMC in north San Antonio, I led a group of High School students on a poverty simulation in Waco, Texas.  For 3 days and 2 nights our students became citizens in poverty and had choices to make…like whether to spend their money on indoor bunks vs food, clothes vs blankets, toothbrush vs toothpaste, etc.  Because the weather seemed good, all the students, including myself and the intern, chose to stay outside and save money.  It was a bad decision.  Around 1am a thunderstorm hit and a cool front entered Waco.  It was miserable.  All of our stuff got soaked and we were freezing.  We had to huddle down and bear through the pain.   After some investigation around the outdoor courtyard,  some of our students found a storage shed that was full of old tables.  They decided to empty the shed and sleep inside.   It was not a bad plan!  After the bin was cleaned out, all of us huddled up inside and warmed up!  It was truly effective.  We really needed each other to stay comfortable.  Two of our students stayed outside because they were sleeping on top of a washer and dryer.   (They were like Jesse…better off alone…but still smart enough to survive)

This night reminded me of that experience.  All of us under the pallet needed each body to create heat inside the make shift pallet.   It worked nicely.  You get to know someone really fast when you have to sleep that close… strange… but also comforting.

It was a good vision of community.
Each of us were needed to stay comfortable the whole night.

 

 

Luke 14:12-14

Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”

Two Dollars

Tonight was my last meal at 9th Street ministry “Taking it to the Streets.”

It was a strange feeling.
I really don’t want the journey to end.

Most of my good friends on the streets have been informed of my real identity. All of them took it well…and we actually drew closer as friends.

Georgia and Jesse have been like brothers. I would do anything for them.

Once the meal was over, Jesse and I took the bus to our bridge area near downtown. The minute I got on the bus, a women shouted with joy “You are the Pastor on the News!”.

I froze. So did Jesse. Actually he started to laugh.

The woman saw the clips of my journey on WOAI and was moved by the experience. She had a lot of questions and made sure the entire bus knew what I was doing. It was very humbling.

The woman was homeless herself, or at least in poverty. However, after talking with her, she pulled out $2 dollars and leaned over to kiss me on the cheek.

I tried to refuse the money. But she would not have it. She wanted it to go to me and my ministry.

I was moved.
She does not have anything….
But this woman gave a lot.

Maybe everything she had.

Relationship

John 19:27

Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”

Community matters. At some point or another we all need someone to care for us when we are incapable of taking care of our own lives.

This has been a major theme of my journey. Sometimes I needed my friends to survive. Sometimes they needed me.

The Christian Faith calls us, even challenges us, to care for each other just as we would care for ourselves.

Jesus takes it a step up from 10%. He says to give all to the poor and broken hearted.

If we did…what would our community look like?

When Jesus was dying, his mother Mary and The Beloved Disciple (along with others) were at the foot the cross mourning his execution. Before he passed, Jesus had one more lesson to give to his disciples and his own mother.

While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.

Jesus understood the importance of caring for others. Now, he passed the care of his mom into the hands of John.
And she was to care for him in the same way she cared for Jesus, James, and her other children.

Her family was expanding.

Her family, faith, and her community became one in the same.

For Christ, relationships and spirituality cannot be separated.

Through Jesus, God is calling us to live the same way as Christ did…
sacrificially loving others despite the desires of security and self interests.

Its a Relationship…not a Religion…

Salvation

Luke 23:43

Jesus said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”

Here we get of glimpse of Jesus’ real mission. He was not just a teacher—not just a prophet. He was our Savior.

His ministry never ceases—-even during execution.

After hearing one of the men being crucified next to him seek God’s Kingdom, Christ offered it to him for his simple act of faith.

Luke writes,

Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!”

But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”

He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”

Jesus knew what was about the become possible—-Eternal Life. Worry was no longer a problem. Fear was about to cease.

Salvation was at hand.

And he offered it unconditionally to a criminal who at the last moment accepted God’s love in his life.

But it’s still a choice.

One criminal clung to his “self”.
One criminal revived his “self” and gave it over to Christ.

One criminal experienced Paradise.