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The God of Outcasts

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Matt wandered into Church early with his bulging backpack, sat in the back row, with his usual cup of coffee. He always had too many layers on, that would extenuate the pungent whiffs of cigarettes, marijuana, and his musty clothes. It was an adventure sitting next to Matt, as he lived in a tent down the street, and therefore, struggled to stay awake throughout the service. Matt was someone who didn't know how to talk quietly, so when he was awake, he would whisper to me with his loud foggy voice, followed by his impulsive croaky laugh. He would cause heads to turn and faces to frown as he'd tell me of his need to smoke a blunt, how he was going to get retribution on some fellas that "did him wrong", while always asking me about my family. Whereas Matt struggled to control his impulses, he did his best to be respectful. I don't know how much he heard, but the one thing I do know is he loved Jesus, he knew he needed Jesus, so as an act of faith, he faithfully came

Welcome Home: Liberated by Grace

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  ...despite being embraced, despite being forgiven, despite being welcomed home, despite being given freedom, we often refuse to accept freedom, we struggle to live with the scars, we are tormented by our guilt, we don't accept the grace we've been gifted...  When the younger son humbly crawled back home, he expected rejection or to be relegated to a slave, yet the father ran to him, hugged him, and gave him full status as his heir. He expected nothing but received everything. The older brother wanted to see his rebellious sibling suffer, but instead, he watched as his little bro was given a loving embrace and a party. Despite whatever negativity he was telling himself and the spiteful vibes he was getting from his bitter brother, he was free to live in the liberating grace he'd just been gifted.  Jesus was crucified and rose again so we could be liberated by grace, but it can be difficult to live in that grace, because of the lies we tell ourselves and the messages we hea

Welcome Home: Forgiving the Unforgivable

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...despite all the scars he'd caused, despite all the pain he inflicted on those who loved him, despite the way he’d acted, despite his unrighteous choices, despite his inability to repay his debts, his father still ran to him, embraced him and said: "welcome home."  When Jesus spoke this parable of the Father's unrelenting love, he gave us an illustration of how beautiful and powerful God's grace is, reminding us how the Kingdom of God forgives those deemed unforgivable. He told us it doesn't matter what we've done or the pain we've caused if we come, we're welcome - not a reluctant welcome, but an all-enthusiastic, all-forgiving, all-loving, all-compassionate, all-embracing, welcome.  If anyone didn’t deserve forgiveness it was the youngest son, he'd said “screw you” to his father and went his own way - he rejected everything his dad taught him, he squandered all his money, and relentlessly did things to disappoint his family. When he came cr

I Pray I Did Them Right

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When my friend "Chief" died in late 2020, I mourned another who left this world too soon, looked up to the heavens, and cried, "I pray I did him right" and "how can I do better next time?" Whenever I find out that another person experiencing homelessness has died, I often find myself reflecting, "I pray I did them right" and "how can I learn from this and do better next time?" They're taken too young. It ends so early, so quickly, like a vapor. Could their deaths have been prevented? I weep over the injustice of a corrupt system that elevates the wealthy, promotes the privileged, while blatantly neglecting the poor and marginalized. Deep-seated discrimination and racism sift through this nation like beasts who arrogantly strut around, knowing they're far too big and powerful to be conquered. The poor, the weak, the fragile, are nothing but collateral damage to these devouring beasts who ensure the ongoing reign of supremacy, ine

Welcome Home: Embracing the Unembraceable

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 ...despite all the scars he'd caused on society, despite the way he looked, despite his despicable image, despite his inability to conform, his father didn't choose "law and order", he embraced him and said "welcome home" When Jesus spoke this parable of the Father's unrelenting love, he gave us an illustration of how beautiful and powerful God's grace is, telling us how the Kingdom of God embraces the unembraceable. He told us it doesn't matter where we've been or how we look, if we come, we're welcome - not a reluctant welcome, but an all-enthusiastic and all-embracing welcome.  Yet, sadly, this message of love and acceptance has been gangsterized by Christian thugs who have chosen to imitate the older son. The church, too often, has been following these religious gangsters by choosing "law and order", choosing to cast out, choosing political ideologies, choosing condemnation, choosing violence, choosing their safety, choosin

Welcome Home

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A young man approached his very rich father, and with a touch of arrogance, asked if he could get his inheritance immediately. Though concerned, his dad didn't argue with him and quietly gave it all to him. This young man wanted adventures, excitement, so he disappeared into the horizon with a massive pile of loot at his disposal. He  confidently strutted off into his new world, leaving behind what once was. He started something new.   With a heavy heart, this father knew how foolish his son was being. Dad knew it was dangerous. As he watched his youngster buy an expensive car to drive off in, the grief he was feeling was both painful, unbearable, and uncontrollable. He  sobbed like a baby, wondering if he'd ever see his precious child again.   This young man had an older brother, who watched the whole ordeal. He was distressed and angered when he saw his father's tears. But he also stood there with his own touch of arrogance, judging the decision, silently mocking his youn

Looters and Thieves: the art of destroying a neighborhood through gentrification

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My neighborhood has been victimized by looters and thieves for years, and I'm not talking about shoplifters or those who smash windows, but those who systematically and strategically exploit the poor so they can structure the neighborhood to meet their goals. In this post, I want to elaborate on what I said in  Our Rebellious Mission , where the decisions of a few can be very destructive and harmful to the poor and vulnerable.   Right next to CCO we've been sadly watching this old building being torn apart to build a fancy new place. The Wilson Men's Hotel offered cheap rent to people who could barely afford to live anywhere else. All of these older men are now gone, evicted, scattered throughout the city! This demolition caused plenty of tragic tales, but the one that struck me the hardest was how Bart, an 84-year-old blind man, who’d been living there for 15 years, ended up homeless and on our doorstep, alone, seeking shelter. We took him in, but Bart’s story speaks of ho