Spiritual Musings from an Educated Redneck

An inside look of the mind of Pirate Pops

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Diggin’ In the Donkey Dung

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:10

This week-end I went to the my 40th High School Reunion out in Monahans, Texas.  It was a bittersweet experience for me.  It was good to see old friends I hadn’t seen in years.  But the walk down memory lane through the town was in some ways for me more like A Nightmare on Elm Street.  You see I didn’t come to know Christ until the middle of my senior year.  Before that I was a street kid and frankly wasn’t worth much at all.  So I had nearly 18 years of memories outside of Christ on those streets and only about four months of memories in Christ before I graduated and left.

On Friday afternoon those in our class of “72” who had been in choir gathered in the old choir room with Mr. Mills, our old choir director and told stories and he directed us through a few old choir pieces.  One of them was the beautiful four-part arrangement of The Lord Bless you and Keep You.   For me to have been in choir at all was a strange thing in itself.  It was only because a friend from elementary days encouraged me to try out my senior year.  We had been close friends in elementary school but later when I went completely South we didn’t see much of each other anymore.  But he, in an attempt to drag me out of the life I was in, encouraged me to get in choir.  He said its lots of fun and lots of girls.  That was enough convincing for me.  Little did I know that God would use that choir to bring me to the Savior.  It was in that choir that I connected with the friends who, along with their families, would love this street kid into the Kingdom of God on December 31, 1971.

As I visited with Mr. Mills that afternoon, who had retired years before, and thanked him for his part in it all he said, “You know James, your life proves the maxim that goes, “When you come across a pile of Donkey Dung, just dig deep enough and you’ll always find a donkey!”  Just keep digging till you find the donkey.  I knew what he meant about me being the donkey but it put me to thinking over that afternoon and night. What about the dung?  What was that?  And besides that, “Who dug through all of that dung to find this donkey?

The next morning was Sunday and about 40 of us gathered for our own little worship service where I led the worship with my guitar and one of those guys who had led me to Christ shared a short message.  All night long I had been pondering Mr. Mills’ statement and at the end of that service I stood up to share what had come to me about it.  I told them what Mr. Mills had said and then I said, “The thing that hit me is that it was none other than Jesus who was digging through all that donkey dung looking for the donkey that was me.  I was buried deep and hidden well.  How thankful I am that He had a big shovel and didn’t quit digging till He found me.”  The motto of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is “We always get our man.”  Jesus’ motto is “I always get my donkey.”  And He does.  No matter how much dung he has to dig through, Jesus always gets His donkey.

He told us that much didn’t he?  Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  You could translate that, “The Son man came to dig out donkeys covered up in a pile of donkey dung.”  You see we’re all buried beneath a pile of donkey dung called sin.  We all need a savior to get out the shovel and dig deep to find us.  That’s what Jesus does.  He digs in the donkey dung till he finds His donkey.  Thank you Lord Jesus for taking that shovel in your nail-scarred hands and digging down to this donkey.

James M. Reeves, DMin.

Senior Pastor, Celebration Fellowship

Author:  Refuge

Life Change for Couples

Website James@JamesmReeves.com

I’m Mad as Hell

“It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.”  Exodus 32:19

I just got the phone call that young Jay Menifee, age 24 was found dead in his apartment.  We don’t know yet if it was the “Money Shot” that intravenous drug users refer to when they purposely overdose to end their life or if it was accidental.  Jay was a drug addict that we had been working with for the past year and a half.  He had a little daughter not yet in kindergarten. When the call came in I was driving down the street.  I felt like someone had hit me in the gut with a sledge-hammer.  I had to pull over for 15 minutes to cry and mourn.  Once they started the tears wouldn’t stop.  He had been doing so well from where he was when he came to us nearly two years ago.  He had been sober.  He had gotten a good job with a friend of mine in the HVAC business and was doing a good job. He had a natural aptitude for mechanical things.   He had gotten his own apartment.  He was involved in church.  Now he is dead and I’m mad as hell.

I’m not mad at Jay.  I feel a deep sense of loss and sadness for Jay.  Such a young life with so much potential wasted.  I feel sadness for his little girl who won’t have her daddy to watch her grow up and who won’t be there for her at those crucial times of her life.  That is my sadness.  No I’m not mad at Jay.  Some might say, “Well James why are you so upset?  He was just a low-life drug addict who got what he had coming to him.”  No, he was a human being for whom Jesus died and he was a very very sick person.

I’m mad as hell at the worthless vermin who peddle the drugs!  I’m mad as hell at the scumbag that sold the drugs to Jay.  Right now I would give a great deal to have just five minutes alone with him in a locked room.  I’m afraid only one of us would walk out of that room.  Is it bad for a pastor to say that or even think it?  So be it.  I guess I’m just not a very good pastor because I mean it with everything that is within me.

The next week when we held Jay’s memorial service it was a packed house.  People got up and spoke and as people are want to do they spoke a lot about good memories of Jay and there was even laughter.  I understand the need for people to do that but something was boiling up in me.  Then as I sat there, waiting for my time to get up and wrap the service up, Jay’s little girl wandered over to me, put her arms around my neck and hugged me.  That sent me over the edge.  Her daddy should have been there for her to hug and he wasn’t.  He never would be again. In fact, one week ago he had been a living, breathing being, and now he was nothing but a pile of ashes.

I stood up and said, “I’m mad as Hell.”  This thing here tonight is a pig pure and simple.  A nasty, smelly pig.  No matter how much lipstick we put on this pig its still a pig.  This is a pure tragedy, and nothing we say or do is going to change that.  I have nothing tonight to feel good about, to laugh about, or to smile about. This is a pig and it’s a huge tragedy.

It was less than a year ago that I got the call about Shane Higgins.  Shane wasn’t a drug addict like Jay.  Shane was an alcoholic.  He abused the legal drug of alcohol.  He did it in fact to the point that the organs of his body shut completely down and he died.  He was 39.  We had worked with Shane for about six months before he went back out to his drug.  He was dead three months after he left us.  My own father died the same way at the ripe old age of 41.  Shane outdid him by two years. Shane was the first alcoholic I ever met who beat my dad to the grave simply from the abuse of alcohol.  Shane was no doubt a top-notch, professional, git-er-done alcoholic in order to accomplish that!

I guess the call today reminded me of the sadness and loss I felt when I got the call about Shane, and perhaps my own father when I was just 18 years of age.

It reminded me also that I guess I’m mad as hell at so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who treat the legal drug of alcohol with such a cavalier attitude while it wreaks havoc on families and individuals in our culture many times more than illegal drugs.

That’s the dirty little secret that most don’t want to talk about.  But it’s legal so we scream about our “freedom” to drink socially and the Shane’s and the Jay’s of this world who will “die if they drink” don’t get a whole lot of support from us.  We are exercising our “freedom in Christ” after all and if you have a problem with it then sorry.  That makes me mad as hell!

James M.Reeves, DMin.

Senior Pastor, Celebration Fellowship, Ft. Worth, Texas

Author:  Refuge (How Hospital Church Ministry Can Change Your Church Forever)

Life Change For Every Christian

Life Change For Couples

http://www.jamesmreeves.com

When “It” Happens

James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy my brothers when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.” In I Peter 1:7 the Scripture, speaking in the context of trials, says they are like the purifying process of gold when it is melted.  The dross comes to the surface and can be skimmed away and the gold is made purer.  So trials purify our faith.

I guess the question is, “Why does Scripture say trials, struggles, and difficulties are actually good for us?”  Because they reveal the weak places in our faith. Recently I was in Colorado trout fishing with three friends.  We were way back in the wilderness fishing in a high mountain lake, 22 miles by dirt road from the nearest blacktop.  There was only one small store anywhere around.  But to get to it we had to go across a small bridge that spanned a tributary.  The bridge said, “Three ton limit.”  There we sat.  The truck we were in was 4.5 tons by itself and we were pulling a loaded trailer that added at least another ton!  Did we turn around?  Nope!  Not on your life.  Not us!  Couldn’t pass up a risky challenge!  Across the bridge we went.

Since I am writing this you can guess that the bridge held.  It was actually strong enough to withstand more than the sign said.  But what if we decided to put the bridge to the test and loaded rocks in the truck and trailer and drove over it again.  Then if it stood we loaded more rocks!  Eventually it would have failed.  What would happen then?  Well, besides us going into the river, truck and all, the engineers would come in to inspect the bridge and discover the place where the bridge had failed.  Then when they re-built the bridge they would address that weak place and the second bridge would be stronger than the previous one.  All as a result of the failure.

In fact, the history of the engineering of bridges is a story of failure, discovery, and re-building.  With each failure the engineers study, learn, address the weakness, and rebuild.  Each time the next bridge is stronger and better.

That is the story of trials in the believer’s life.  Each one that comes puts us under stress and sometimes the stress is enough that failure is the result.  We break. That failure reveals a weakness.  So we admit and address the weakness.  We re-build.  And when we do we are better and stronger than we were before.  That is the endurance of James 1.  That is the purifying of the gold of I Peter 1.

Someone once said that trials will either make you “bitter or better.”  What about you?  Since your last trial are you bitter or are you better?  It all depends upon who you look to doesn’t it?  If you look to yourself and others you will probably become bitter.  If you look to Christ and ask, “How can you teach me from this,” you will be better.  We all have pain.  Don’t waste your pain!  Let Christ grow you through it

Here’s to better!

James M.Reeves, DMin.

Senior Pastor, Celebration Fellowship, Ft. Worth, Texas

Author:  Refuge (How Hospital Church Ministry Can Change Your Church Forever)

Life Change For Every Christian

Life Change For Couples

http://www.jamesmreeves.com

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