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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Encountering Two Men Of God

The first man is in his 40's. It happened this week. His build is stocky. He has a brilliant smile which lights his face. He tears up often, but laughs heartily just as often. There's an ease about him which invites approach and conversation. No guile appears in his demeanor or carriage. If you spied him on the street nothing remarkable would detain your eye.

I met him recently and heard his story. After our meeting I was struck by the palpable reality I'd been in the presence of a man of God. If I told him that's my take after meeting he would've been shocked and uncomfortable. He is humble.

I don't use the term "man of God" often or carelessly. In fact, I'm pretty confident I've only met a few in my lifetime who truly fit the definition I hold. A man of God to me is unself-consciously saturated with the love for God and the love of God for others, especially for sinners, outcasts, the oppressed, the unruly, offensive, and invisible ones. Such a man is overwhelmed with the astounding idea of the love of Jesus "for someone like me." a selfish sinner who needs grace and mercy continually.  He is easily and regularly enthralled with the reality that Jesus would do for him what he did. I've also noticed such men are dedicated, and I mean persistently, to the desperate need of everyone to know the Savior Jesus Christ. They somehow grasp the Unseen REAL beyond what most others do, and they take no credit for it. It's just present to them all the time, and very compelling.

In our conversation, we talked of many things and I discovered, because of his love for God and for people, he spends much of his day as he goes about his business watching and praying. It's normal to him. He notices people and talked about a gift of discernment where if he engages someone, which he does even at his work (especially the difficult folks), he sees something about who they are including what's troubling them. He's not afraid to stop what he's doing and goes right up to the person to introduce himself. He said that often in minutes the person is either in tears and telling him, a stranger, of deep pain, or is opening to the Gospel. When he told me each story he'd laugh, slap his leg, or cry, and talk of how much he loved the person he was talking to. Remarkably, the place where he works is not Christian, but he's won favor with the owners because the folks who come by love him and show it.

As a man of prayer he'll often pray for the town and for each home or business he passes. Notable  to me also is the fact God has placed him where he is doing damage to Satan's strongholds. He is helping free captives of darkness. He said he's just drawn to such people. He's not afraid of anyone and will engage them no matter. Because of that he encounters substantial and increasing spiritual warfare. He knows he's in a fight, but the gift of salvation he's been given in Jesus compels him to go after folks spiritually blind and chronically adrift. He wants the lost, found and liberated.

Near the end of our conversation, he began to sob as he talked of the state of the church in America, especially the intolerance he sees coming from churches which would never reach out to certain categories of sinners.  With tears streaming from his eyes, he blurted out "I just love those people so much and they need to know God loves them too.Why is the church doing this?" It was naked and powerful, coming  from deep inside a transformed heart full of grace and love. The unadorned honesty was stunning to me. When he left, I knew immediately I'd been in the presence of a man of God. There was no mistaking it.

I hope to see him again. My soul is lifted and my is heart refreshed in such unexpected encounters.They inspire me to pray for the charity and freedom he has to love others no matter who they are, or if they respond or not. Also, the passionate love for and loyalty to God he radiates with no guile moves me to change and free up too. If you think about it, pray Jesus would be so kind to grant me such passion and liberation.

*****

The second encounter with a man of God came to mind as I thought about writing this post. It was precipitated by the fact he recently went home to God. I haven't seen him in at least 15 years, maybe more. I met him in Connecticut as we were part of a new member's small group at church. I heard of his passing from a member of his family.

This man was also a man of God to me because, although he had a very different personality than the man above, he had the same uncompromising and persistent love for God with the fire to make him known to others, especially non-believers. The difference between him and the man I just wrote about is he had a very difficult personality which could be easily off-putting to folks, especially his Christian brethren. He told it like he saw it, often without filtering, or considering how it might be received. More than once,  folks would get mad at him or remove themselves from his company.

What drew me to him was his unabashed love of Christ and the Gospel. This man had struggled with a very serious addiction and knew God had helped him overcome it. His dedication to Christ who delivered him was deep and tenacious.He was what has been termed a "true believer." He lived and breathed it every day as his prime directive.

For me, with a few notable exceptions, most of the Christians I was around didn't manifest the same raging fire in their bellies for Jesus, or a driving passion to open others to him, especially for the outcasts and chronically troubled ones in our midst. My brother's difficult personalty enabled him to get below deflecting BS from folks used to lying or posing to maintain their destructive lifestyle. His love was fierce, unsentimental and aimed at confronting the powers of evil which kept people entrapped in their own dangerous delusions. He was a "storm the gates" kinda guy - a "what'er we waitin' for," Kingdom fighter who went after souls others would be afraid of or dismiss as too much trouble. His was a tough love, but a deep and genuine love no less.

My brother is dancing in the courts of the King now. His passion and commitment were like a mirror to me, reflecting my own hesitation and immature, self-absorbed cowardice. I admired him for his authenticity. He challenged, even scared me a little by his example, and I knew he was a man of God because of his sheer dedication and fierce love for Christ. He wasn't a man of tears; he was a man of bull-headed conviction which drove him to be counter-cultural, often going only with his Lord and his drive to seek and liberate the bent and broken. His joy was being in the thick of a rescue mission, down in the dirt, and deep in the struggle. He was saturated with the love of God and knew how far God had reached into his addicted heart to pull him toward true love. He wanted that reality for others and went often to go get them

I don't how many other men of God I'll get to encounter in the days ahead, but hope there will be many more. When I do, I know the Kingdom way is real, the love of God is beautiful beyond containing, and there is no life or worldly pleasure worth pursuing from the depths of our hearts other than being servants of the Most High.

If you have stories of the men or women of God you've had the great pleasure of knowing in your life, send them to me and maybe I'll put them on this blog.

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