Archive for June, 2015


The Sticker Man Part 2- “Prophetic Stickers”

Think of the “stickers” placed on you throughout your life. Think of how people either purposefully or inadvertently put you into a box. What labels were put on you? What negative words stuck to you? Imagine those experiencing homelessness, addiction or poverty and how trapped they must feel by the labels pasted on them.

The more labels we put on people, the more invisible they become. Once our mind categorizes someone, it refocuses on something of “more importance” and the person fades into the background. The person becomes a thing.

There are people experiencing homelessness, addiction, poverty and many other afflictions, but like everyone else, they are just people. The problem with labels like “the homeless”, “the addicted” or even “the needy”, is that they lack dignity and respect. People are lumped into a big negative category that robs them of their true selves. They are treated as less than, or worse ignored. The impact on their psyche is enormous.

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When someone is called “the poor”, instead of just “Michael” or “Rachel”, they are removed from our world. Labels dehumanize people and cause us to forget that each person has feelings, hopes and dreams just like we do. Michael and Rachel are actually the real names of my brother and sister. They aren’t trapped by poverty, but even if they were, of course I wouldn’t lump them into an impersonal categorization. We don’t do that to loved ones.


Imagine if you and I were judged solely on who we were on our worst day.

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I’m so glad that when most people see me on the street they don’t say, “There’s another jerk. The jerk population is really growing in this area. Can’t the authorities do something about all the jerks around here?” This might be completely accurate, because I really am a jerk sometimes, but I don’t live with this stigma hanging around my neck.

People’s current circumstances shouldn’t define them. Imagine if you and I were judged solely on who we were on our worst day. Not a pretty picture. I think that I would go around crushed by shame if people thought of me that way.

Fortunately, I have a lot of people who treat me as if I am always the person I am on my best day. I know it’s not completely accurate, but it shapes me and helps me to become that person. They see the “me” I want to be. Grace does that.



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One day during outreach on The Relief Bus, I met man named Christopher (left) who was struggling with addiction. His dream was to kick his habit and become a better father to his children. He showed me photos of his two beautiful 4 and 5-year-old boys and was so proud. I affirmed him as a father for the things he had done to spend time with them and show them they are loved. I ended up sharing about the love of Jesus with Christopher and he gave his life to Christ. After we prayed, he said that he felt something when we were praying and hugged me in gratitude. It was a real God moment. Afterwards, I was able to give him some employment info and a Bible.

I asked Christopher what kind of career he was interested in and after he told me I said, “I think you would be really good at that.” That’s how my parents always talked to me.

Christopher BarbosaI hope that I helped Christopher peel off the “failure”, and “addict” stickers plaguing him and put a new “Loving father” sticker in it’s place. I was most excited that he let Jesus put a sticker on his head that read, “Forgiven”.

It was one step, but what a step! I am trusting God to peel off the rest of the old stickers of guilt, shame and condemnation, as I trust Him to plaster Christopher with some “new creation” ones.

What if we were to “prophesy” into others lives, speaking the reality that could be? What if the stickers we put on them were packed with possibilities and potential? Could our words shape someone into the person they were really meant to be all along?


1 Corinthians 14:3
But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.

Maybe prophecy isn’t as mystical as we think. Maybe it’s as simple as letting love spill out of our mouths. In our culture, we usually wait quite a while in a relationship before speaking so personally to someone. As a result, many people go starved for love, while we politely stay at surface level.

Fearing presumptiveness, we wait for spiritual gifts to somehow manifest out of thin air. If by faith, we start to speak the heart of God, maybe the Holy Spirit will complete the process. I don’t want to miss my chance to pass on the stickers that people stuck on me. I have backpack full of good ones and I want to give them all away. Love does that.

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The Sticker Man- Part 1

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A man with no home stood in the middle of Times Square in New York City. The weary fellow had worn clothes with stains and frayed edges. He had a bushy beard, a few missing teeth and yellowish eyes. Under the buildings with giant screens and brightly lit signs, he faded into the concrete that he stood upon.

The man was panhandling. To each person that approached him, he reached out with a paper cup in one hand, hoping for help. His eager eyes displayed the desperation that churned inside him.

Rather than give him money, the pedestrians did something quite strange. Each person slapped a sticker on him as they walked by. The stickers said things like, “Bum”, “Homeless”, and “Wino.” Rather then each sticker being very light, each one of these stickers was incredibly heavy, as if each one weighed 20 lbs. Maybe these stickers were crafted by aliens from another plant, because they defied the laws of gravity on earth.

A child walked by and slapped a sticker on his forehead that said, “Beggar.” An old man moving by slowly with his walker, paused to put a sticker on him that read, “Criminal.” A businessman walking quickly, didn’t even slow his pace, but expertly slapped a sticker on his back that said, “Lazy.”

Each sticker that was placed on the man caused him to sink a little. His knees bent increasingly with each sticker, until eventually he was compacted down into the pavement. The transient man looked less like a person, and more like a cube of trash coming out of a trash compactor. His entire body appeared as if it were compressed into a small glass box. He was still alive, but it was as if his body was made of silly putty.

sticker 1At this point, only the man’s head looked normal, protruding from his compacted body. A woman jogging by stopped, and stooped down to slap the final sticker on the man’s forehead. It read, “Crazy.” As she bounced away to finish exercising, his head was slowly sucked down into the rest of the cuboid shape. It looked much like a victim descending into quicksand. All that was left of the man was what looked like a square box plastered with stickers.

A medium height, 30ish man, wearing an old tattered backpack, was strolling down 42nd street whistling. He wore a plaid shirt and had messy hair. The man saw this human box-shaped aberration in the middle of the sidewalk, and his eyes went wide with disbelief. This good Samaritan ran to the man, now in the shape of a 3 by 3 foot box and frantically began peeling off stickers. It wasn’t easy, because many were absorbed into this die-shaped human mass.

As he tugged at each sticker and it came off of the silly putty man, he saw a metamorphosis occur. Parts of the poor man’s body began to pop out of the cube shape. When one sticker was removed, it caused an arm to emerge. Another caused a leg to pop out. One by one, the guardian angel furiously peeled off the troublesome stickers. Finally, he got the last sticker off and the poor man’s head popped out with the sound of a bottle being uncorked.

Now freed, the man laid on the sidewalk, heaving from the traumatic experience. His rescuer slipped off his worn-out backpack and began rifling through it. The fellow looked on with horror as the man pulled out his own pack of stickers. His frenemy now peeled a sticker off of the new sheet and approached him. He trembled while crab-walking slowly backwards. The rescuer’s eyes were soft and his voice gentle as he explained, “You don’t have to worry. These are different.”

Each sticker brought a new wave of refreshment.

The man pressed a sticker onto the survivor’s chest that read, “Accepted.” Immediately, warmth rushed throughout his body. He put another sticker on that read, “Approved” and another, “Chosen.” Each sticker brought a new wave of refreshment. He was breathless with exhilaration and felt resurrected. Like a modern-day Lazarus, he rose from the ground with new energy and vigor. One at a time, the sticker man continued to coat him with stickers reading, “Gifted”, “Smart”, “Loyal”, “Generous” and a blue sticker that said, “Humble.” Finally the sticker man put a sticker on his new friend’s forehead that read, “Loved.” This one was so strong, that the man started to swoon from the force of sheer pleasure that nearly overwhelmed him.

After he recovered, the man was amazed to discover his hero slipping the beat-up backpack onto his own back. It felt very full. After all that had been done for him, he was grateful for the bag, but didn’t really see the point. At this moment, he didn’t feel that he lacked anything in life. He was on cloud 9, more alive than he had ever been. These stickers seemed to also defy the laws of gravity, but in reverse. He was walking on air and felt as if he could leap over a building.

Before he could thank the fellow for this backpack, the man was gone- swallowed up into the sea of humanity flowing down the sidewalk. He craned his neck, anxiously scanning the crowd for his benefactor, but to no avail.

The man pulled off the backpack and unzipped it to see what was inside. The bag was overflowing with new packs of stickers- the same exact ones that he now wore. He sank to his knees, dumbfounded. He shook his head in disbelief at the treasure now in front of him. He swallowed hard, overpowered by the weight of his new task. Destiny stirred deep within him. Nothing would ever be the same. He was now the sticker man.


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