Series 5

Anxiously Awaiting Ozzie Osborne


The heavy metal band Korn banged on their instruments, rasping out lyrics I couldn’t understand. I didn’t care. I was anxiously awaiting Ozzie Osborne—the headliner.

This was 9 years ago. Screaming, spilled beer and the whiffs of marijuana smoke framed the atmosphere. Even though I was over 40, this seemed normal.

The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to destruction.”

My life seemed right. It was hip to be over 40 going to a rock concert. My construction business was flourishing. A disciplined exercise routine kept me in top physical shape. I had a beautiful wife. And I was well thought of in the community.

The truth. I was tired of rock concerts. Work was consuming my life. My exercise program was an egotistical, often pleasureless pursuit. My marriage was a disaster. And if my 15 year secret addiction ever became public . . . an instant pile-of-rubble image crash.

Destruction was catching me in the race of life.

At work a few months later, a fellow non-believer approached me, “Hey, check this out.” A Christian-rock radio station? I didn’t know such a thing existed—I got hooked.

Lyrics like, “People say I’m strange; does that make me a stranger? My best friend was born in a manager,” gripped my soul. More importantly the radio preachers’ messages injected life into my dieing existence.  

It could have been just another trip to the lumber yard.

On the radio that day, Pastor Greg Laurie said, “Are you tired of the life your living? Isn’t it time you invited Jesus Christ into your life?”  Right there in my truck, I prayed to Jesus and committed my life to following Him.

Now, I’m anxiously awaiting Jesus.


Sunday Morning Hezikiah

“Hey can you help me?” I heard as I exited the gas station early Sunday morning. “I need 60 cents for the bus.” He told me his name was Hezekiah. Homeless—with disoriented conversation and unfocused eyes, he was high.

“Where are you going to catch the bus at?” I don’t know. “Where are you going?” I don’t know.

Though not very convincing for his cause, Sunday Morning Hezekiah did know that his name was Biblical. He even knew where his name was found in the Bible.

His namesake is one of the Bible’s greatest kings. King Hezekiah’s leadership was marked by the statement: “He held fast to God and did not cease to follow Him; he kept the commands of God . . .  he was successful in whatever he undertook.”

Could there be any greater contrast than King Hezekiah and Sunday Morning Hezekiah?

Still I thought, “Oh God, what amazing things You could do with this man’s  life if he would follow You.” 

I walked away excusing myself from further interaction because of Hezekiah’s lack of coherence. Seventy-five feet away I felt God bungee cording me back. The idea of paying Hezekiah 60 cents for allowing me to photograph him popped into my head.

I went back, explaining my proposal. Hezekiah smiled; flipped his grungy coat inside out to reveal its clean side. He stood tall and asked me, “Am I going to be in a magazine?”

I stood amazed observing his desire to appear successful.  King Hezekiah was successful and Sunday Morning Hezekiah desired the same.

Between living on the street and the success of a king there seems to be an insurmountable gulf. Yet the timeless truth in King Hezekiah’s life: “He kept the commands of God,” provides a bridge.

God, help Sunday Morning Hezekiah discover this truth; God, help him be successful.


Before Rent to Own

Did he think it was a semi-fanatical Christian mandate in my life?

While helping my cousin move, her husband Peter asked me why I don’t own a television. I explained. Twenty-two years ago when my wife and I bought a house, our budget was so tight we couldn’t afford a television. Busy with our fixer-upper, we became accustomed to living televisionless.

This satisfied Peter—pretty much. I had noticed a mega TV in his new place, so I added, “Remember, this was before rent to own.”

“How old are you!” Peter stared at me as if he was talking to an ancient artifact. Quickly piling on, “Aren’t you afraid to die?”

He was serious. And then he haltingly said, “I think about dying almost every day.”  I asked him why he thought about death so much. Peter said, “I always wonder why God bought us to earth; then we die.”

We’re born; we die. What’s the in-between about?

Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last.”

Life Purpose 1: Jesus Christ, the God of the universe, chose us to have a relationship with Him. Imagine-- I get excited because I’ve accepted His invitation.

Life Purpose 2: Each person is to live a meaningful, godly life which produces lasting fruit.


The Bible provides a list of life-fruits which should be growing in our lives: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” From there our fruitfultiness needs to influence other people to have these same godly characteristics.

Peter, if you . . .  and if I have that kind of fruit in our lives, we won’t be afraid to die.


His Three Hour Journey

The church is packed.

Phil, the speaker, lives the true real-simple lifestyle. He doesn’t own a car, television or a telephone. And his house is sans electricity.

Repeatedly during his hour plus talk he comes near tears, recalling his three hour journey. Though only occasionally has he traveled further than 50 miles from his home; the story of his journey has the crowd of 500 plus intensely focused.

Phil often repeats the phrase, “It was unreal,” while describing his journey.

His three hour journey? He’s talking about a journey to heaven.

The Apostle Paul alludes to his own journey to Heaven: “I know this man – whether in the body or apart from the body, I don’t know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise (heaven).

“Is Phil’s story real?” I thought.

God knows.

His story goes: while alone one morning at work, he was suddenly taken up to heaven. And there he met Jesus and was given a tour of heaven. Phil says about his look-in-the-eyes meeting with Jesus: “There was fire in His eyes.” He stops, as a rush of emotion halts his words . . .  “but when you love the Lord Jesus, they’re loving kind.”

He finishes speaking, walks stage right and sits down. Lowering his head -- the weight of his eternally engraved journey wears like a tattoo on his slumped body. There’s no offering tonight. He refuses to accept one. An honorarium? No. “Give the money to someone needy.”

The scriptures remind: “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

So many times I need to do a mental brake-hard and once again hear Phil’s almost begging, journey-inspired words. “Let’s be true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

They still echo in my head as I transcend from earth.


Suspicious Situation

Flip to page three of the newspaper—there it is. The police log from a couple nights prior: “11:43 p.m. 100 block N. Main St. Suspicious Situation.”

The police car approached a man walking down the street with tears flowing down his face: “Son is everything alright?” The man explained everything to the police officer just as a second car arrived. As they left, no arrests made, one of the officers said, “Boy you really caused a lot of commotion.”

The man wasn’t drunk and no crimes were committed. No, this was my friend John. He told the officer the reason for his crying and hands lifted to the sky: “I’m just worshipping God.”

John, worshipping on Main St.? The church sign in that neighborhood states: “Come Worship 9 & 11.”  Inside the church on Sunday morning for an hour or so, isn’t that worship?

In Genesis 22:5 the word “worship” appears in the Bible for the first time. First mention is always a pay-attention moment for Bible scholars.

It says, “We will worship.” Here Abraham and his only son Isaac are the participants in the worship. But there’s no singing, no preaching, no late night “suspicious situation.” Abraham had heard the voice of God. He was going up the mountain to kill his son as a human sacrifice.


Abraham never sacrificed his son. God provided an alternative sacrifice just as Abraham, with knife in hand, prepared to obey God to the ultimate.

Abraham tapped into the essence of true worship--sacrificial obedience. This means giving up everything to God as we worship Him through our lives all the time. As John discovered, this type of radical, all or nothing worship stirs up commotion sometimes.

God notices. “God called to Abraham from heaven . . . I will surely bless you.”