Thursday, January 23, 2014

Under The Overpass

"Under the Overpass" by Mike Yankoski

I found out about this book from a friend and she let me borrow it.  She told me it was a good book but wouldn't be life changing.  I think it was a great book and it challenged me a lot.  It has some hard truths in it.  The author and a friend choose to become homeless for five months in five different cities.  The author, Mike, was convicted one day that he wasn't really living out his faith, that his life looked no different really than a non-believer.  He got this radical idea to put his faith to the test and see if he really believed what he said he did.  He decided to leave his world behind and live a life with the homeless.  It is a fascination story which will cause you, hopefully, to look at people on the streets differently.  The message of the book is a challenge, a challenge to be the hands of Jesus and get out of our comfortable lives.  "Be the Christian you say you are."  That was the title of the sermon that caused Mike to question the life that he was living.  That is a very good statment to evaluate your life and what you are doing with it.  That was on page 4 and I could have stopped reading there.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  "More forgotten, ruined, beautiful people than we ever imagined existed, and more reason to hope in their redemption."  "Psalm 34:18 says 'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.'  I wondered if pretending you're not broken keeps God at a distance."  We are all broken and the sooner we admit and are honest with others about that the sooner God can step in and redeem.  "If we are the body of Christ-and Christ came not for the healthy but the sick-we need to be fully present in the places where people are most broken.  And it has to be more than just a financial presence.  That helps, of course.  But too often money is insulation-it conveniently keeps us from ever having to come face-to-face with a man or woman whose life is in tatters."  Being fullly present in the places where people are most broken is scary and hard but my bet is it will be the place where we feel fully alive and see more of God.  "Begging is hard.  It's something you expect hungry dogs to do, but not men and women made in God's image."  The people on the streets, God's image bearers, they are having to lower their standards just to eat.  Why do we pass them by?  Why do we pretend that we don't even see them?  It's because we don't see Christ in them, we forget that they were created by God.  We see dirt, and stench and bad choices but we don't see God because if we did our lives would look a whole lot different.  "What's worse?  To do dope or to not love your brother?  Why do we kick drug users out of the church while quietly overlooking those who are ignoring their own different but equally destructive sins?  Why do we reject the loving, self-sacrificing, giving, encourageing, Jesus-pursuing drug addict but recruit the clean, self-interested, gossiping, loveless churchgoer?"  "If we as believers choose to forget that everyone-even the shrunken soul lying in the doorway-is made in the image of God, can we say we know our Creator?  If we respond to others based on their outward appearance, haven't we entirely missed the point of the gospel?"  Jesus hung out with the sinners, outcasts, lepers and sick.  Who do we choose to hang out with?  "I do this becasue my faith tells me to.  The Bible clearly says, if you see someone hungry, feed them; if you see someone naked, clothe them.  Those words weren't written for us to make books and sermons about.  They're written so people don't go hungry and naked.  And they require action from all folllowers of Christ..."  "Whenever we close our eyes to the real needs of the real people of our world, we force them to survive via whatever options are available to them, dehumanizing though they may be."  Each of us has the ability to meet someone elses needs to give where we have so much.  "Again and again it seemed that the culture we had returned to knew how to enjoy God's material blessings, but had forgotten-or didn't care to know-how to use those blessing to help others in Jesus' name."  We are blessed not so we can keep the blessings to ourselves but so we can share.  "Sometimes it's easy to walk by because we know we can't change someone's whole life in a single afternoon.  But what we fail to realize is that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place."  We don't have to change someones life, that is Gods business, we just have to do the one things that He called us to do.  I hope you read this book, not just read it but do something, make a change, be willing to risk your comfort for Jesus.  

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