Archive for the 'safe' Category

“Giving to the needy” – in secret?…Herman could use a chess set

Last Wednesday we went back to the Amtrak bridge and found Herman at the same corner we found him exactly a week earlier. Herman agreed to go to lunch with us. We went to our usual place – Benjamin’s on 10th. Man, we had a really fun lunch with Herman. The guy is so fun to be around. Here are a few interesting things we learned about Herman…

  • He’s on a waiting list to get an apartment from the Wilmington housing authority.
  • He could use a good pair of jeans (waist 32 to 36 – he said the size after looking at us and sizing us up)
  • A pair of jeans will only last him about 2 weeks before they’re too old and dirty and need to be thrown out. (The 2 week thing on the jeans surprised me)
  • He needs a tarp to cover up his stuff. (He showed us a makeshift pile of his belongings. It was raining and everything he had was wet)
  • He plays chess as a hobby. (Ben’s going to give him a chess set)

Ben and I have been doing a lot of hanging around with ‘the needy’ over the last 7 months. And along the way we’ve been able to help our new homeless friends with more than just encouraging words. We’ve been sharing our street stories with friends, hoping that we can encourage others to get involved – because the need is great.

I’m feeling pretty good about the work that Ben and I have gotten ourselves into. I’m proud of the risks we’ve taken and I’ve discovered that it’s a ton of fun hanging out with homeless people. But I think God was sensing my pride, because he brought me into this passage…

Matthew 6 – Giving to the Needy (TNIV)

1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The phrase ‘do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ really struck me. That’s an amazing statement that gets at the heart of how we should help people. I don’t always give in secret.

Maybe giving shouldn’t be something that we keep track of just so it can show up as a deduction on our taxes. I’m not saying we shouldn’t claim our charitable giving on our tax returns, but it is challenging to keep my left hand from knowing what my right hand is doing while working in TurboTax….

In the end, there is a healthy secretive aspect to giving. I’m glad God brought me to this passage – He reminded me that all the good I do is for His glory and not my own.

james part 2 – to trust? or play the skeptic?

Ben and I set out on our homeless lunch thing again today. We had an appointment to pick up James, our lunch was on all our calendars. Ben and I had a little wager going on whether James would show or stand us up (like Donald did). Ben was right, James did follow through on his word. James was waiting on the corner for us – hands crossed, bright yellow gloves + military green trench coat.

We had a great lunch with James. We learned more about his complex story. Her are some random bullets…

  • Today was the first day in 2 years that James has had a cheese steak.
  • He was able to get his medication from the VA.
  • He’s about to get his “daddy’s” house in Laurel. He’s waiting on all the legal stuff to go through.
  • His dad died last year, right before Christmas.
  • He’s going down to Georgetown today, to get his birth certificate.
  • He likes jazz and gospel.
  • He gets help from the friendship house.
  • He wants to buy my kids some Christmas presents. (I’m all for that!)
  • He is a lieutenant, and was a sniper in the marines.
  • He sweeps the parking lot of the Hertz rental place near the Wilmington train station. And they let him sleep in the garage there.
  • He has seizures.
  • He has cancer.
  • He has no family in the area.
  • He holds honor in a high place in his life.
  • He likes to salute….

lieutinant-james-2.jpg

In all of these details, James is a really likable guy. Our biggest challenge with James is trust. He’s given little reason not to trust him. So far, he’s been a man of his word. Still, his story has holes. And it’s outrageous on many levels. It’s easy to play the skeptic and point to the inconsistencies.

Ben and I both agreed that we are rooting for James, and we’ll do what we can to help him. We have another appointment on Wednesday, to take James to the DMV so he can get his ID. The plot may thicken yet!…

Teach us to love like you love, Jesus – unbiased perfect love, selfless perfect love

Trying to see past circumstance…

one clear choice

Here is the prayer God gave me today…

God, give me one clear choice – that is awesome.  And help me to follow.  Amen.

This was spurred on by two things:

  1.  A breakfast meeting with Jon (who totally spurs me on, & maybe instigates a bit too).
  2. And by the lyrics of James Blunt.  (God can work mysteriously, right?)

On Blunt’s new album there’s a song called “Same Mistake“.  I don’t completely understand the song, and I don’t necessarily think it’s theological.  But the lyrics do capture my prayer to God right now…

I’m not calling for a second chance,
I’m screaming at the top of my voice.
Give me reason but don’t give me choice.
‘Cause I’ll just make the same mistake again.

i love stainless steel coffee mugs – “finishing”

Apparently, I’m really good at drinking coffee and bringing stainless steel coffee mugs to work. I’m not so good at taking them home….sorry Lib.

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I hate doing things half-way, but I’m good at it. It’s easy to start something (like taking coffee mugs to work) but I need to work on the finishing part of things…two good friends recently encouraged me to finish something I’ve been trying to finish for the last 2 months. Why are some things so hard to finish??? even if they’re important?

Hey – what do you need to finish that you’ve been putting off?

Here are a few pictures from my typical work set up….this is where it all happens.

my-office-2.jpg

I like VW’s and Audi’s….and other things from Germany (like my wife)

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sharing a meal with “charlie” – a simple act of worship

Ben and I set out for our bi-weekly homeless lunch again today, walking Market Street and Rodney Square in Wilmington. You can read Ben’s account here.

I was up first, I went up to a guy and asked if he wanted to join us for lunch. He said he had some important business to take care of. As we were walking away, Ben had the wisdom to go back and make sure he knew who we were in case we ran into him again. Once we talked to him a little more, he basically said – “Hey I changed my mind, I will come to lunch with you today.”

We shared a meal with Aubrey Willis, a.k.a. “Charlie”. Charlie moved to Delaware when he was 5 or 6 (in the 1950’s) and has been in Delaware ever since, although I get the idea he doesn’t like it that much. He couldn’t understand why Ben moved here from Texas, Charlie is a Dallas Cowboy’s fan and he especially likes the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.

What struck me about Charlie is how average and ordinary he seemed. He seemed to have a clear mind, and he had an even temperament. He didn’t seem eccentric. He is a regular guy.

Charlie was different than Eric. Eric had grandiose (though somewhat delusional) thoughts about how he was going to start a real estate business and become wealthy again. When we asked if Charlie had any hopes or plans, he said he didn’t have any.

When we asked Eric what he needed most, he said cash. When we asked Charlie what he needed most, he said a warm jacket and some work shoes. Jackets and shoes are something Ben and I can help with. Our plan is to take Charlie a new jacket and a new pair of shoes next Monday.

Here are some random thoughts from today:

  • even homeless men have normalcy and routine in their lives
  • some of them really are hopeless, and others just have unrealized dreams just like me
  • everyone has their own unique story
  • everyone needs some compassion in their lives
  • no one person is above any other, though we like to put ourselves above others – that’s not really the way it is

taking the random out of kindness (it’s ok not to be safe part 4 of 5)

Have you ever driven by someone on the road, and noticed that it looked like they needed help – then had the thought:

maybe I should stop and help that guy!

but then you keep right on driving?

Well, I have.

A few weeks ago I was in this situation and it went down a little differently…

I was headed back to Wilmington after meeting Ben for lunch and happened to pass this couple that was waiting under a tree, they had their son who was probably 3 or 4 with them. It looked like they were waiting for a bus or a ride.

I drove by, then decided to turn around (the pivotal moment of the story).

I parked in the parking lot near them. Walked up and said I was heading to Wilmington if they needed a ride. It was funny, they were arguing when I walked up. I even mentioned I had a car seat for their son.

They said they were waiting for a ride, said thanks, they were a little hesitant because of the situation. But they seemed a little surprised by my kindness. So much so that I think they forgot about their argument.

In Romans 2:4 Paul reminds us that even in Christ’s righteous judgment it’s his kindness that leads us towards repentance.

So I had this idea that part of the Christian life is a life of kindness that’s demonstrated with the purpose and hope to somehow offer people the chance to turn around. To repent.

It sort of takes the random out of kindness.

sharing a meal with eric – a simple act of worship

Ben and I had the chance to take Eric to lunch today. Eric is down and out, he has no money and is homeless.

We had a good time talking with Eric and sharing a meal with him. We got rejected 5 times before we found someone that was willing to join us. One guy asked us for a cigarette, maybe next time I’ll buy a pack before hand. A couple of other guys were playing chess and just sort of laughed at us when we asked. One of the guys that laughed had a gold tooth which I thought was cool.

We asked Eric if he wanted to join us for lunch. He said, “yeah, but I don’t have any money” We said, “that’s fine, it’s on us. Where do you wanna go?” He said, “Somewhere I can get a cheeseburger”. So that’s what we did.

I was reminded today that I am rich in so many ways. Eric is divorced, doesn’t keep up with his biological or married families, has 4 daughters that he doesn’t keep up with and he’s on the run. He has a college degree, went to Brandywine High school has served in the military and at one time was pretty successful. But now he sleeps at the Dunkin’ Donuts ‘because it’s open 24 7’.

I would say that sitting down with Eric, sharing a meal with him, and generally trying to engage in his struggle has simply been an act of worship. Not much more.

To be a worshiper of God is to Love the Lord your God with all your Heart (Deut. 6:5) AND to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus simplified all the law down to these two commandments.

Loving God is connected to the way that we love people. And if we don’t love and connect to others, then we probably don’t really worship.

We so quickly stretch out our hands to God in worship, but so hesitantly stretch out our hands to others to offer help. But we still call ourselves worshipers. Hmm…maybe our logic is off.

Ben and I commented that just like anytime when you reach out, you end up learning more and getting more out of it in the end. That was true when we shared a meal with Eric. I learned I need to bring some Marlboro’s next time.


author – Terry Foester

I'm a family man at heart. I admit my world revolves around my wife Libby and our 3 hooligans...Eli, Eden and Silas. They are easy to love. I'm trying to learn to love the rest of you. I also like to ask questions.

Give Herman One Dollar

Greylias Worship
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