Alleyway Jesus – Greg Milwee writes about “dirty” redemption

I just finished reading a book, “Alleyway Preacher,” by Greg Milwee, and it impressed me. Not that I am any expert, but I do read a lot of books and have written a couple of my own. With that, I know that there is an interesting balance that Christian writers are forced to make – the balance of cliché and preachy with relevance and believability. For writers that are especially compelled to share a message of grace and hope wrapped up in the love of Jesus in such a way to draw in those that need it most, this is a formidable task.

 I first “met” Greg Milwee online. He knew I had written a couple of books and wanted some information on how I did it and how he might do the same. To be honest, I get that question a lot, and I don’t feel qualified to answer those questions, but I could tell by the way Greg asked that it wasn’t about being famous or getting rich (which writing will NOT do for you), but it was about getting a message out and sharing a story. As he was desperate to get it in the hands of others, I encouraged him to go the self-published route, but I can see, now that we have the book published and I see it’s beauty and potential, he was definitely in a league with good writers and given some time and a good agent would have been able to get a book deal with an established publishing house. And, I don’t say that lightly… but for the raw talent he possesses.

 However, this is a book review, so here is what I thought:

 “Alleyway Preacher” is a great look at what life guided by the Holy Spirit looks like, and how that obedience has the power to transform lives around you. The characters are well presented, and in their development, you find yourself wanting to know more. They are believable. The way that they interact and react, their thoughts and their emotions, are very realistic. It revolves around a church, but the building itself is just a rotating door, the church as it acts and serves is exemplified in the people. As I read it, I was challenged in some areas and affirmed in other areas. One of the strongest lessons I received is the very life lesson that God is schooling me in now – when we submit to the Holy Spirit and respond to what He asks of us, it will very likely be misunderstood by those around us, those in the church and those in the world. But, as the book shows, if God leads you to do something He will protect you through it. Ministry isn’t pretty. Real ministry is often something others might consider lowly or unlovely, untouchable service… real ministry is being the hands and feet of Jesus, and more often than not, it takes place in the alleyway rather than from the pulpit.

 One thing that we aren’t very comfortable with in the Westernized church is the idea of sacrifice and discomfort. We want to include God in our lives, but we don’t want to live our lives for Him. Milwee does a good job of showing how that affects those around us. It is only through true submission and surrender of our own selfish desires that we can build His Kingdom here. He shares the gospel and a message of hope and love not just with imagination rather as one who has seen the power of being the Body of Christ.

 I intentionally didn’t tell you much about the events of the book. I want you to read it. I want it to inspire you to do more and live more sacrificially. I want you to be encouraged, those of you who already do, to know that you will indeed reap heavenly rewards for the good works that you are doing. And to those that need to see hope and believe in God’s ability to take the messed up lives that we offer him and turn them into hope and healing for those that need His love, I want you to know that it can be found through Him and living out His purpose in trust and sacrifice.

 

You can download the book here:

http://kindle.amazon.com/work/the-alleyway-preacher-greg-millwee/B00DJ3SP2K/1483921131

And you can find Greg Milwee on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gmillwee

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Enormous Stakes

Enormous stakes.

That’s what we are facing. Anyone who is in youth ministry realizes this, and too often it seems the pendulum is swinging the wrong way. Those that will are trying to help, to direct, to mentor, to lead, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to feel as if your efforts have staying power.

I have two educated guesses as to why this is happening:

One – There are very few committed Christians setting an example as disciples.
What do I mean? Well, when is the last time you picked up your Bible to learn not because you had to or were doing a Bible study but because you long to learn more about God, His will, His nature, and His way? If that answer is recently, like, yesterday… You are in the minority. When was the last time you woke up and spent dedicated time in prayer, seeking the Father’s heart, weeping for the lost, and asking to be used? Again, it is not the rule for modern day Christians. And if you are the parent or leader in a household and you only do these things when trouble comes, those around you see that, and they will follow suit. Disciples of Christ desire to learn, it isn’t the dreaded “law” at work, or the confines of “religion.” It is learning to know to become. Nothing works oriented, or legalistic about that… But it does require effort.

Two – There are very few authentic faith walkers.
Jesus asked “when I come back will I find faith?” It was important to Him that we keep hope alive! Instead, too often, we turn to logic and science to manifest truth. Thats not faith, thats probability. Jesus was desperate to see faith in action. So when we say with our mouths those things we have read or heard about God but haven’t established it in our hearts with how we live our lives, we send a conflicting message to this younger generation. They are watching us.

Recently I got a message from a young girl who is trying desperately to follow God’s will for her life. But, her home life is a stumbling block. Why? Because her good, God loving, church working parents on Sunday are cruel and demanding and verbally abusive Monday thru Saturday. This confuses her… And it should.

Another girl mentioned to me that she didn’t see any problem with watching movies that were not age appropriate. Why? Because her parents watched R rated movies all the time and they said it didn’t affect them so why should it affect her? Ugh. This infuriates me. Maybe you think I’m wrong or prudish or judgmental, but I can guarantee those movies are affecting that family, it just may be too soon to tell.

Now, I’m not an overbearing parent, restricting anything and everything that doesn’t blatantly stand for Jesus. We have to let our kids make decisions, and we need to show them how to choose. But, our role as parents isn’t to enable them to be codependent, our job is to prepare them for life outside of the nest, and this requires allowing them some mistakes in order to learn. That being said, we can’t lead them into bad decisions by choosing to gratify our pleasures at the cost of their innocence.

Parenting, leading, mentoring is not easy! I do all three! But it is imperative that we not be selfish about it! And it is necessary that we set an example of commitment and true faith.

This generation is under fire like never before. The odds are not in their favor, and they feel this intrinsically. They are the least prepared, most coddled, selfish, rebellious, and pleasure seeking generation, and we have done that to them. They are also the most passionate, educated and globally connected generation we have ever seen and stand to be a lasting legacy of faith to awaken the Body of Christ, but we must invest in them!

I heard someone say that they saw in our future a generation of believers that would have the fire of the Holy Spirit so strong and so deep that it wouldn’t waver or burn out. How does this happen? With us. It begins with us instilling in them unquenchable love and faith that rebelliously stands up to the powers that threaten to snuff it out and say, “You can kill the body but you cannot take my soul!”

Enormous stakes. Life and death lies in the balance, and we’ve barely glimpsed the iceberg.

* Tim Elmore has done a great job of making inroads to change the tide. Read more for yourself @ http://www.SaveTheirFutureNow.com

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If the shoe fits…

Dreams.

They hold so much meaning, and God-given dreams have the power to impart knowledge, wisdom, and determination where you might otherwise be lacking. There are a few dreams I have had in my life that have in seasons sustained me, but the most remarkable one, the loudest speaking, the most powerfully compelling one I feel the need to share.

As I opened my eyes to a sun washed yellow morning, the bed seemed crisp and cozy. I liked it there, it was where I wanted to stay, covers over my head, snuggled into a pillow, blanketed in peace. But something urged me to sit up, so I stretched and smiled and let my legs dangle to the side of my bed. Immediately, I saw them. Big black men’s shoes several sizes too large. I was confused. A Father figure stood beside me beckoning me to put them on.

“No.” I didn’t actually say it, but my body language communicated it.
Silently, I argued and pointed dramatically, “Do you see the size of those?!”

He merely smiled and with gentle authority pointed towards the shoes.
I looked at the shoe and pulled up my foot, inspecting the difference in size, thinking to perhaps show Him that there was no way my small foot would fit. He wouldn’t have any of it. He coaxed me off the bed and onto the floor. I stood still, frozen, staunchly unmoving. He wasn’t deterred, nor did He wait. He placed me in the shoes. I looked back at Him helpless, watching how the shoes engulfed my foot. Not only did they not fit, I could have fit a whole shoe-clad foot inside them!

“Walk.”

Did I hear Him correctly? He pointed ahead of me and urged me forward.

“But, I’m gonna stumble! I’m gonna fall! I’ll walk right out of the shoes! They do not fit!” I was crying and pleading, I could not do this thing!

“Walk it out until they fit.”

Those words encouraged me. Something broke within my spirit and I found myself moving forward. He walked behind me and assisted me each time I stumbled and fell and all the while encouraged me onwards.

That seems crazy huh? That we could actually walk something into fitting us? But, there are things in my life that I have been led to do that just don’t fit. They don’t feel right, they aren’t looked at favorably, and they just leave me scrambling for that big, sun-soaked bed.
And I’ve been tempted to throw the shoes off, move away from anything resembling a life-form to an island where I can declare a law which states, “No shoes allowed!” Only, I can’t. Because the minute I reach down to release myself from their burdensome awkwardness, His gentle voice speaks, “Walk it out until they fit.”

“But you don’t understand!” I wail. “They look at me, they don’t like my shoes, and question where I bought them or if I should wear them at all! And they have another pair, they say they are the ones You intended for me, and the thing is, Daddy, they fit!”

He is silent.

“Wouldn’t it be easier, Daddy? To wear the shoes they have? Wouldn’t it be easier, more comfortable to just put these clodhoppers in the closet and run instead of stumble all the stinkin’ time!”

Then He speaks, “Easier? Yes. Comfortable? Yes. Would it make them happier with you, less unsure of Me in you? More favorable toward you and My work through you? Yes. But, will it strengthen you? Will you trust me as much? Would your faith believe the impossible and your heart hear My voice beyond the noise? Would you be empowered to stand for Me against the flow no matter how the great the cost? No.”

“So what You’re saying is…?”

“Walk it out.” Oh, that smile. Oh, that overwhelming peace that outdoes the purest yellow light of any sun-washed room! Oh, that loving glint in His eyes that undoes every fear in me.

Maybe this is you… Maybe the shoes He has for you are a little clunky, or maybe they are tight and uncomfortable and need some breaking in? This I know, you alone know the path He’s asked you to walk, and in the end, it isn’t about what others thought or what they believed, it is completely about your obedience – to the hardship, to the pain, or to the rejection. Allegiance requires big steps, unashamed trust, and a heart that only needs One yes.

So, if you see me stumbling a little, wearing shoes that aren’t trendy or anything YOU would ever wear, understand that you aren’t meant to, because I’m wearing the footwear my Daddy picked especially for me!

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