Friday, November 29, 2013

Idaho Springs to Denver

Idaho Springs to Denver

 Let me update where I'm at in my story... I had left Idaho Springs, CO. Trying to make it as close to Denver as I could get. I knew I was going to have to eventually get on to I70 for a few miles.  On my way out of town, I was able to get on a bike path past the tunnels. It was sweet, it ran next to the river the for about 4 miles. It twisted and turned between two high peeks, with jagged rocks jetting up at the top. As I walk, I always keep an eye out for some of Leroy's favorite things to eat. Its a habit now. Even when he's not with me, I walk over to a bush and stare at it, waiting for LeeRoy to pop his head out from behind me and and start eating what ever bush is in front of me...

 In fact, just the other day, as I walking I saw a patch of clovers  and walked up them and just starred waiting for LeeRoy to notice them too...The thing was. LeeRoy wasn't with me. He was at a host home and I was going out to eat with the host family. I laughed and then ran to catch up with the family as they walked into the restraunt hoping they didn't notice I had just stood staring at a patch of clovers for a good 10 seconds with a very confused look on my face. It's almost become an involuntary thing; when I see a bush LeeRoy would love, my body seems to be magnetically drawn...I have to keep reminding my self that LeeRoy is not with me ...

 Ok back to the story...
I had been walking through some beautiful territories, and I was loving it. My heart was at peace. I was feeling good. I was feeling strong. About 10 am I started getting so excited. Denver was just around the corner and I wanted to have a successful time. The last big city was Salt Lake, and that didn't go over well, so I was preparing my heart and mind. Also, one thing I have learned is people either love this whole project or hate it--no one is really in the middle. So I have to be prepared for anything. Ya know, looking back now, I remember thinking I was overwhelmed with people and opportunities so often during this journey. The funny thing is that was nothing compared to now. I must say I love it. But I don't think I'm the best with my time. 

 So I'm walking on the old 40 highway. The section I'm walking along at the time happens to be a very dangrous part.  The road has lots of twists and turns and that translates in to a lot of blind corners; and I hate, hate, hate that. There was no shoulder to the road so LeeRoy and I take up about 1/4 of the lane. I had made a plan to jump on I-70 because the side roads were just too dangerous.  People kind of freak out when I do that, but just for the record, the safest roads for us are the interstates. They always have really wide shoulders and the rumble strips that not only warn the driver that they have crossed over the line, and it's so loud that it warns me too.  So say what you want, but LeeRoy and I have always felt the safest there.

 I always walk facing the traffic... In fact, it's kind of turned in to this OCD kind of thing. I'm walking up the off ramp, onto I-70. This always makes me so nervous. I know I'm not supposed to do this. We are full on walking into traffic. About 1 mile into it, I start to calm down. It is fun to watch the faces of everyone driving by on this 4 lane interstate. Some smile or laugh, some looked shocked, but my favorite are the confused looks. I love to see that look of complete confusion, like "what is that guy doing?", "is that a goat?"-- it's hilarious. Just as I'm settling in and feeling confident in my decision, a police car pulls up in front of me. Before they get out of the car I do 3 things: get my ID out, start taking pictures with my phone, immediately get an attitude.
 In hindsight, I know the last one is a bad thing. During that time, I had just had a lot of bad experiences so I feel like I lost respect for police officers.  I don't do that so much anymore. I find you catch more flies with honey than vinegar when it comes to police, and even more than that, I know I can only control myself, not them. 

The officer gets out of the car, and I don't really look at him until he gets right next to me. I was staring at my phone with my hand out holding my id. when he comes up to me and says,
 Police man: howdy. What do you got going on here
 Me: not much just walking with a goat. I said as I looked up with an annoyed look on my face.
 Police man: ya I can see that, and you can't do it on the interstate.
 Before he even finished his sentence I started arguing with him.
 Me: I'm walking across America. We started in Seattle and have walked safely to here, and at times we have been on the interstate. 
 Police man: Well, you can't do it here. You have to get off the interstate. You're going to have to take the back roads.
 Me: I'm telling you it's so much worse on the back roads. There's no shoulders to the road has lots of blind corners.
 Police man:  Yeah, but there's not near as much traffic.
 Me: Yeah, well it only takes one...and we are dead.
 Police man: You have to get off the interstates.
 Me: Yeah, Yeah, ok. I'll get off at the next exit.
 Police man: No, man. You have to go back to that exit, and I will escort you there, He tells me with his hand raised pointing behind me.
 Me: What?! Come on. The next exit is about 2 miles away I'll be there in 30 mins.(That's a lie. It would have taken me more time than that.)
 Police man: Nope, sorry. I can't let you do that.  You have to go back.
 I drop my shoulders and throw them back as I say "Yeah, okay...".

To be continued.....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I almost gave up on this.

 As this project has grown people have been saying some amazing things about me. Elevating me to a place that I don't belong. So I’ve been thinking I want to write about the failures. The things I have done wrong since I’ve started this project. I’m not trying to give you a false sense of humility, but I want to start a culture of confession. So you can see how this is truly a miracle of God and has nothing to do with me. I say this often less of me and more of Jesus.  It’s so cliché, especially in the Christian community to say “nobody’s perfect,” but I think we all have a class system going on somewhere in our minds when it comes to other Christians we know.

Now I know what I'm about to say is absolutely wrong thinking ... Again I have read my Bible and I know what it says. But somehow in my mind there is this class system to Christianity. At the top of this pyramid are the” SUPER Christians” like John piper, Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, Chuck Smith and Ken Ortiz. They are pastors or missionaries. I know this isn't true, but in my mind they don't sin; they change Christian culture as we know it through the faith and complete dedication to doin what is right at all cost. The next level I call the “Sheep”. They are Christians defined very generally and generically. They don't cuss, they don't smoke or drink, they didn't vote for Obama, they make their kids wear helmets when they ride their bikes, they only listen to The Fish, K Love or some kind of Christian radio, their biggest sin is speeding or not giving the full 10% of their tithe. Then there is the last group; the crappy Christians. We are the kind of Christian that is smoking out front your church before and after service. We have tattoos; we have some kind of addiction be it porn or drinking or something. We can't remember the last time we tithed. The parental advisory sticker is on half our CDs. Most the time we don't vote at all. We don't consider damn, piss or hell cuss words, and the least of our worries speeding or who to vote for. We are trying to not cheat on our husbands and wives. Trying to make it another day without giving in to whatever our addiction is. We are hoping our girlfriend doesn't get pregnant, if she does get pregnant hoping you have the guts to not have an abortion. And we struggle with believing the entire Bible mainly because we have a lot of gay and lesbian friends.

Now before you send me hate mail. I'm 95%  sure  you have your own class system. Most likely based on what your sins are. Think about it.

I put myself kind of in the middle of Sheep and Crappy Christian . With one foot firmly planted in Crappy Christian ... And more of dipping my big toe in the sheep category ... Kind of like testing the water to see how warm it is. I would say More than ever before I live my life by the moral compass of the Bible. But it for sure isn't cause I willed it or I got my self together. I know is only from begging God to change me. He's done it not me. 

 We look up those who are trying to do things in the name of the Gospel. We put them on pedestals. Again, I hate clichés, but it’s true. We put them on pedestals and expect perfection. When they fall.p. we are right there to kick when there down! Side note—I swear to you, every scandalous pastor that has cheated on his wife and has been ostracized by his church, I desperately want to go be his friend. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that what they did should be ignored and not dealt with, but let’s stop eating our own, if "tough love" isn't working. Try something else. To be clear I do believe in church discipline, but let’s not abandon our leaders when they fall. Let the leadership do what we trust them to do and let us as the church love that guy. Bring him closer not push him away.  One of the huge things I see all the time is there is always room for the victim, but there’s never room for the sinner, the victimizer. I’ll explain. Going back to my cheater example. A man cheats on his wife. The church rallies around the wife. She is the victim. I say yes and amen to that, but let’s not forget the husband. Let’s rally around him. Who is going to go get him? Who is going to fight for him? Is it you? 

I feel like when you want to see a change you have got to be the change, you’ve got to start with you and that is what this is about. When you constantly hide things, you become a slave to it. You give it power over you. I don’t want the failures of this walk to constantly keep beating me more than they already have. I want to empower others to not let their past control their future.

I definitely am a different man than when I started this project and I am so grateful for that. Being transparent is definitely not my strong suit. I am always so afraid of what everybody can do to me. I am so afraid of discrediting myself, discrediting ST’s ministry, what he started. The reality is, I really want you to get this.

I’m trying to love Jesus more than my reputation.
I want to love Jesus more than my creditability.

So from time to time, I’m going to be sharing my failures and not for entertainment, but so you can see what it looks like to take yourself out of the spotlight and put the focus completely on Jesus. It's not about my glory but about His glory.

I’m not trying to put on this fake spirituality. I am in a place of sharing the gospel all the time, but not sharing it from the podium. Instead, I sharing it from the mud.

God can use anyone. The clearest picture I can give you is my life. My hope in telling you about my failures and weakness is that you are able see the glory of God and His ability to use anyone. 

About this time last year towards the end of my walking I made some really stupid mistakes. Somebody once told me that when you start something, make your mistakes early and often so you can move onto the successful part. In all honesty, I wish I could have avoided making mistakes completely”. This story is going to surround some events that happened when I was in the Salt Lake area. I’m not even going to tell the whole story; I’m going to give a rough outline. Again my point is not to entertain you with gruesome facts, but to show you a culture of confession and point to God.

When I started this walk I had this vision of me being a hero. Of me being the good guy. And what I’m starting to realize is that my story is more like a Pharisee meets the Prodigal Son. I say often that I’m more like Judas than John, but I didn’t know that until I was alone with myself and God. The first part of this trip was just this constant revealing of how wicked my heart was, from Seattle to Salt Lake was probably some of the ugliest times of my life and then discovering how selfish, prideful, egotistical and trying to look good at any cost I was. This trip as been very revealing. Haha.
I started falling back into old behaviors when I was in Salt Lake and I started drinking pretty heavily. One day I’m in downtown Salt Lake in a place I shouldn’t be with people I shouldn’t be with, drinking and trying to live it up, so to speak. I wasn’t drunk; fortunately by the grace of God I was limiting myself. But in the process, that night, the cops took my goat. I don’t think what they did was right, I was there, I was sober. I wasn’t breaking the law. I had done nothing wrong on a legal standpoint. But the reality was, I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I was at a bar. I was indulging in this lifestyle. Long story short, it worked out, I got my goat back the next day. But there were so many rumors flying around. Some of them truth, most of them not.  All that was playing in my head was what would this person say about me or what would that person say, how would this look. I started hiding. I was trying to hide from God. I was trying to hide from the world. I had been caught being myself. I was so ashamed. I started drinking every night, trying to find relief from the shame with a bottle. I turned to girls, I turned to alcohol, I turned to hiding. It was just a downward spiral. On top of it all, what was killing me the most was that I felt like I was failing these kids. I failed ST. All the people that put hope and trust in me that I failed them all. And I could just not bear the weight of that. For a couple of weeks there I literally drank until I passed out every night. I just I felt like I was allowed to be a part of this incredible project and I was ruining it.

The real reason I quit was not just the cold weather. I needed to be rescued. I needed to get away. I needed to be saved. I had to go back home and get with people that could set me straight. Eventually I made my back to Spokane. The Lord spoke to my heart through the Word. I was at a church service. I don't even remember a single word the pastor said. But I remember the Bible verses : John 5 :11 I pulled it up on my phone bible app. It's a short conversation between a sick man and Jesus . What Jesus said was in read letters and they cut straight to the heart of me.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:6-9 ESV)

The story is so amazing. Here is what happened as I sat in that chair at church.
Jesus: Steve, do you want to be healed?
Me, the sick man: Yes, desperately but I have already messed this up.
Jesus: Get up, take up you bed and walk.

And the best part of the story "and at once he was healed" read it again.

Do you know what sickness God healed me from? My shame. The paralyzing shame I felt. It almost cost me everything. He healed me from my shame of that failure back in Salt Lake.

Take up your bed and walk.

Those words were approval to me. I felt Jesus say, “I can still use you.” That verse might as well said pick up your bed and walk across America.

Even now I cry over this story. I want to speak to you directly. Jesus has the power to heal your guilt and your shame. It's time for you to pick up your bed and walk.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Blues

I remember hearing this quote, "The greatest tragedy of life is that you don't remember it all".

 That is soo how I feel right now. Not just with this project but my entire life. I have been able to do so much and see so much of the world. In my short 34 years of life I have lived enough adventures for 5 life times. The thing is, it all reads in my head like a check list or a bucket list. Lines on a resume more than vivid pictures of what happened and all the details in save somewhere in my mind.

That said here are some memories I have seemed to keep safe in my mind. There is this term I learned in bible college. "Monday blues". The idea is that a lot of pastors spend most of their time pouring out all week and Sunday they have the final push to empty themselves and serve the body of believers. By Sunday night, they are emotionally drained and on Monday the get the blues. Not because the message didn't go well; it may have been the best message they have ever given. Its just .... emptiness. They have poured themselves out.

My friend Sarah told me about it. She chaged my life and has been one of the most influential people when it comes to sharing my faith.  She showed me how it was done and would always put me in positions to do the work with my own hands. Early on in our friendship we had some crazy times of ministry. There was this one week I'll never forget. She had me sharing at a youth detention center, then the next day we were downtown feeding the homeless at the Union Gosple Mission. That Sunday night she had me doing childcare at the church while she taught a class. Everytime we went anywhere she always seemed to find someone down and out and we would end up in some dark ally praying for someone. 

I was seeing the gospel being lived out in her and through her. That same Sunday night we were driving across a bridge that went over the I-5 freeway. I saw a lady about to jump off the bridge so I yelled STOP THE CAR. We both jumped out and ran over to her. We talked to her; Sarah and I tag teaming the conversation. The lady was clearly talking to Sarah way more than me so I walked away to call the police. While on the phone, Sarah was standing between her and the edge of the bridge with her arms spread trying to not let her jump. I ran back over to help talk to her till the authorities got there. They ended up taking her to the hospital to get evaluated. The very next day after class Sarah and I went to this Thai restaurant for lunch. I was bummed and she could see it. That's when she told me about the Monday blues. Sarah pointed me to Jesus... "dude this is how it's done. You give all you got and then when your spent you get alone with Jesus and He fills you up. The trick is to get alone with Him on a daily basis. It makes the Monday blues a little easier to deal with". I can't tell you how many times those words have played in my mind. A process I'm still trying to perfect.

Reflecting back on those times is defenetly something I needed to do. Like a refresher course. I need to pray with more people.

 Anyway .....The last 2 weeks have been nothing short of amazing. The most successful time in spreading the word of what we are trying to do. Our story has been picked up by the Associated Press (AP) and out of that local stations all over  the nation have been running our story. Even CNN  picked up our story. An amazing blessing and wonderful opportunity.  I can't even put into words how much joy this brings me!

With the this new national attention comes sooooooo many messages, emails, phone calls and text messages.  I literally don't have a second to myself. Now when I'm stopped on the street it's not just 2-3 people but 10-15 people. Cars line up in parking lots as I walk by them and its game time. And I have been at the top of my game! Flawless. It took me 6 hours to walk 2 miles the other day. And I'm honestly proud of that. I have answers for just about every question including the wired ones. I can hand anyone that comes my way. I've learned how to navigate all the conversations and bring it back to Jesus and Uzima Outreach. I can deescalate the haters and handle the weirdos. Treating them all with respect while keeping it fun and informational. I know what I'm doing now.

But it takes a lot of work to do it all and it comes at a price. I am "on" 100% of the time now. So today I'm empty. And have a touch of the Monday blues.

There is a song that has destroyed me today... Left me a crying mess... It's by a band called filter - the song is called take a picture. Here's a few lines from it.

Can everyone agree that no one should be left alone
Can everyone agree that they should not be left alone
And I feel like a newborn
And I feel like a newborn (kicking and screaming)

Could you take my picture
Cause I won't remember
Could you take my picture
Cause I won't remember
Could you take my picture
Cause I won't remember
Could you take my picture
Cause I won't remember - yeah

Hey dad what do you think about your son now?
Hey dad what do you think about your son now?

The cord progression and tones of the guitar are prefect and very moving. I love the melody too.

"Could take my picture cause I won't remember "

And the bridge kills me! In fact, I looked up the words and lost it. The very second I glanced through not even reading the words I just saw the word dad and started crying like a little child. The singer pushes his voice to a yell and it's soooo emotional.... I feel the tension in every note and word.

"Hey dad what do you think about your son now?"

When I'm empty when I'm poured out. I'm always left with this feeling. It's almost like its in my DNA.

1 I'm a lone wolf that desperately wants a pack.

2 I so badly wish I could remember and celebrate the successes of my life.

3 I want someone to be proud of me. Well not just someone... I want a dad to be proud of me. Not my step day cause he's a tool! My real father... who is dead. But I do hope he would be. And even though I have looked for a "father figure" in my life it has never worked out. Even though my father is dead, I don't want to betray him in anyway by trying to have someone less try and take his place in my heart. And thank God for that because when I really think about it, I truly just want Jesus to be proud of me. Not a man.

Being alone with Jesus is the only way to cure the Monday blues.

Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says.....  (Romans 16:25 NLT)