March 25, 2011

Mr. Roth

I would like to share a story with you that I read recently. It is written by an unknown author. . .

. . . An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting. Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. We were certain that he was either homeless, an alcoholic, or both. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables. He bid us good morning and offered his produce for sale. We were uneasy enough to make a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear.

To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road. As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize that it wasn't alcohol, but cataracts, that marbleized his eyes.

On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes and pull out a harmonica. With glad eyes set on a future glory, he'd puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion.

On one visit, he exclaimed, "The Lord is so good! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my front porch."

"That's wonderful, Mr. Roth," we said. "We're happy for you."

"You know what is even more wonderful?" he asked.

"Just yesterday I met some people that could use them." . . .

It is not uncommon for poor people to be generous. As a matter of fact, poor people are probably the most generous people on earth. What makes this' story all the more beautiful is that in this man's poverty, he served other's needs rather than his own.

Truth is, terms like small and large, tall and short, attractive and homely, rich and poor are relative terms. What is rich to one man is poor to another. In the case of Mr. Roth, poverty was something of which he considered himself immune. Why?

The story answers the question quite well. He had his eyes set on a future glory. Mr. Roth was rich in spirit. When we long to see Jesus face to face, this world seems to lose its appeal and importance.

So I encourage you to be like Mr. Roth, honestly assess your own needs, serve others, and set your eyes on a future glory. You may be amazed at how effective your personal ministry will become. And who knows, maybe you will entertain angels without knowing it?

"And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints." (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)

March 1, 2011


My daughter is an employee of Starbucks. I came to the realization that Starbucks was taking over the world three years ago when I was in Washington D.C. I walked out of a Starbucks, looked across the street and guessed it...a Starbucks!

One thing I've learned about Starbucks is that they have their own language. I call it "Starbuckese." They use the terms Tall (English for, well you probably can figure this out on your own), Grande (Spanish for really big), and Venti (Italian for 20...which is coincidentally the number of ounces of this drink). Don't ask me why they mix their languages in their insider code, because I don't know...I just guess they have their reasons.

However, I didn't really know how indepth the lingo was until I happened to visit Starbucks with my daughter, "O." We walked into the store, and she boldly steps right up to the counter, gets the attention of the barista (another fancy word, meaning "coffee fetcher"), and says..."I'll have a latte...tall, double non-fat, extra foam, extra hot, half-caf, with a half pump of chocolate." The barista began writing the "insider code" for all of these instructions on the side of O's paper cup. Quite frankly, I'm not sure if she knew how to do this, since some of the hieroglyphics included a question mark and an image resembling a rather obscene gesture.

Be that as it may, it was obvious that my little girl had acquired the all-important keys to the Starbucks kingdom, simply because she knew the language.

Now comes my turn to order. And, yes, I'm intimidated. I step up an sheepishly say, "I'd like a small cup of coffee, please." After O's order, I expected the barista to be relieved that I had made such a simple request. However, her expression said otherwise... "You ain't a regular around here, are ya' big boy?" I've never felt like more of an outsider...

...I guess I'm writing this because Christians can be guilty of the same thing. We have our words, expressions, and little "inside jokes," that only we understand. We have been around the church and her folks so long that we have developed our own language. Problem is, we sometimes forget that there are people that we are trying to "connect to God and each other" who, not only do not understand our lingo, but feel like outsiders because of it.

This experience made me think about how powerful our expressions can be and how important it is to find a way to tear down any walls that make "seekers" feel like outsiders.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4:5)