Gordy Kisses

There are people in this world whose lives have been so dramatically changed by the grace of Jesus that it shakes you. Their story is so powerful, beautiful, and desirable that you can’t walk away without wanting what they have. If you’re a believer, you want more of the God that they have, to more tangibly feel His grace and experience His miracles.  If you’re a skeptic, you want to believe in the God they speak of, you want to look past your doubts and questions to a God who changes people.

Gordy is one of those people. I met Gordy this last weekend in Galveston. My buddies and I tagged along on a mission trip with the Church Under the Bridge. Yes, Church Under the Bridge, the one that meets under the noisy freeway and sits on foldout chairs, has a missions program.

We went to Galveston with about fifteen others from the church. The first thing we did was go around the room and share a quick two minute introduction of who we are. Usually during these types of things, you stick to the surface level. We quickly found out that  the Church Under the Bridge does not operate on the surface level. Coming into the trip, we had no idea who we’d be serving alongside. After we went around, we realized we were surrounded by people who had hit rock bottom, been rescued by Jesus, and now wanted to tell us all about it

Gordy was rescued by grace at the age of 47. Before then, he was addicted to methamphetamine for most of his life. He told us all sorts of stories about the drugs he used to do, drugs I had never even heard of, and all the times he should have died. He told them with this amazing sense of gratitude towards His Savior. I’ve never met anyone who paints a bigger picture of God with their words than Gordy. He refers to Him as Daddy. Always. His most commonly used phrase is “Daddy took care of it.”

Gordy has this loving sense of boldness that is created when God’s grace meets a person who’s willing to be vulnerable. He starts calling you brother a couple minutes after meeting you. He gives kisses on the cheek to people when he says goodbye. They’ve been infamously and creatively named “Gordy kisses” by his many friends. He hands out cards with his cell phone number and E-mail address so people can contact him for prayer. He gives out a penny with a cross cut out of it to just about everyone he comes in contact with. He’ll shake your hand, give you the penny with a smile, and say “be blessed brother.” He gets these things from who knows where and goes through about a thousand pennies a month.

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Roughly two thousand years ago, Jesus tried to explain to a skeptic why people like Gordy love Him so powerfully and clearly. Here’s the story from Luke.

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:37-47

How much do you think you’ve been forgiven? This question is really really important for every Christian to answer. Our answer determines whether we’ll worship at the feet of our King or just tune into the nearest Christian radio station and show up to a building on Sundays.

Paul uses the word dead to describe our state before God entered into the fray. He writes that we were dead in our sins. Dead isn’t on a sliding scale. Our condition before Christ isn’t dependent on how many parties we’ve been to or how many lies we’ve told, it’s the same for meth addicts and Nobel Peace prizewinners.

So whether we’ve got a story full of narcotics and theatrics like Gordy’s or not, we have been forgiven much. Our response has to be to love much. 

Gordy with his new friends

Gordy with his new friends

 

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I love college

It’s been awhile. College is crazy awesome. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find the time to write out a blog with so much to do all the time. But writing helps me process, and with so much happening around here, I need to let y’all know what’s going on down here in Texas.

My two prayers coming down here were for authentic community and meaningful work. They’ve been answered. God is good and he’s been absolutely rocking my world down here in Waco.

The first one was answered immediately. My roommate is an absolutely incredible person and we kind of skipped the whole awkward getting to know each other thing and jumped right from strangers to best friends. Besides Nate, we’ve got some great community going on in Penland hall.  I’ve only been here for 10 days but I love these guys. Proverbs 27:17 says that “As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I’ve never had a fuller picture of what that looks like than here. It looks like late night hammock sessions in the quad and a Bible study in the cafeteria every morning and talking about what we miss most about home. The community here has been incredible.

My second prayer coming down here, meaningful work, is more of a work in progress. At home, I had service outlets. I had things that I was a part of where I knew I could love on and serve people around me. The first week down here was hard because I didn’t have those outlets. I was still searching around and still am to a certain extent. But last Sunday morning I took a short walk to the I-35 overpass to visit the church under the bridge. This congregation meets every Sunday under the I-35 bridge. The congregation of about 300 people is primarily made up of poor, homeless, and marginalized members of the community. The other people there are like me and want a more authentic, primitive Sunday morning experience that looks less like a rock concert and more like a bunch of people coming together to love, support, and talk about the hope we have in Jesus together.

I instantly felt at home under that bridge. After that Sunday, I went from having no ways to connect with the community and serve to having an opportunity to do so every day. There’s work to be done at the shelter and little kids to love on and meals to serve downtown and a refrigerator box sleep out coming up. God definitely answered my prayer for meaningful work.

I’m having a lot of fun down here and things are going great. I’ll mention one hard thing though. Moving to a completely new place, it’s hard to feel known. I’ve been homesick very little here, but I miss being around people who know me, people who know what makes me tick and my hopes and fears and people who have lived life with me for the last 18 years. It’s hard since even my closest friends down here, I’ve been living around for just a little over a week, and it takes a little bit longer than that to start to “get” each other.

Being here at college, though, is such a blessing. When you look at history, I’m ridiculously blessed to live in a time where it is the norm to spend four years doing nothing but learning inside and outside of the classroom. What an incredible opportunity to develop what I’ve been given.

“black, white, brown, rich and poor, educated in the streets and in the university all worshipping the living God, which makes us one.” -Church Under the Bridge motto

You can only be loved to the extent that you are known.