A visit from Big Hank

I was sitting in a hotel lobby in Memphis a couple of weeks ago.  I was anxiously awaiting for a meeting to start- thinking about what might transpire over the next hour.  This meeting had the opportunity to be unpleasant.

I decided to try and relax.  I prayed a lengthy prayer.  I then took out my Bible and read through 2 Corinthians.

I later walked around the perimeter of the large lobby to think about how I would open the meeting.  How I would convey bad news and a disappointing outcome.

I returned to my seat and decided to pray again.

Then I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4

Standing in front of me was a large man.  He introduced himself as Big Hank.

“Are you ok?”

I told him that I was doing fine…just preoccupied.

He explained that he had been watching me for the past 30 minutes.  Praying, meditating, reading and pacing.  Big Hank said that he could tell that something was bothering me- and he felt compelled to come over and pray with me.  I told him I would appreciate the prayer.

And pray he did.  Big Hank said a short prayer for me- for my comfort, peace and future.

And as quick as he appeared, he turned and walked across the lobby- and outside to the busy sidewalk.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

Pray for me to have better awareness of the needs of others.  Help me to identify pain and hurt- and have the courage to engage and provide comfort.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless you, Big Hank- wherever you are.



Vanilla ain’t so bad

JT and B

I was visiting with a couple of good friends at the baseball field on Tuesday night (where else do folks with young kids get to see one another?).  They were telling me about a recent conversation between the two of them regarding an old friend.  The husband, in an attempt to describe his friend since childhood, said that he “was just a good guy…you know, consistent…sort of vanilla.”

This pushed us toward a brief conversation on what it meant to be “vanilla”.  What does that indicate?  Solid, yet not flashy?  Consistent, but not special?

My friend went on to say that he would describe himself as “vanilla.”  Just sort of average.

This caused me to start thinking.  My friend is a great dad and husband, runs a phenomenal business, keeps himself in great physical condition and is extremely active in his church and faith.  He’s got a permanent smile on his face and exudes a quiet strength and confidence that makes him extremely approachable.  He’s also incredibly humble.

Didn’t Jesus like vanilla?

Mark 1:16-22 tells us that he called Simon, Andrew, James and John- fisherman- to join him in becoming “fishers of men.”  These guys weren’t theologians and scholars…they were everyday people.  Workers.

In Luke 19:1-10 we learn about Zacchaeus, a tax collector (not the most popular of professions in any era) and someone who was short in stature. His heart was convicted to follow Jesus and he confessed his sins, eventually becoming a disciple and paying back the money he had cheated of his clients.

The Bible is filled with Jesus using plain, ordinary people to do incredible things.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

Remember that discipleship starts from the heart, and it radiates for all to see- regardless of what we think about ourselves.

Being vanilla ain’t that bad, partner.

Let me know how I may pray for you…and please pray for me.  God bless you.