He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jesus and Nothing Else

Defeated, discouraged , & down. Yup, the 3 D's is what I feel right now. (wow, and this is my Thanksgiving post..so sadd) I just want the LORD!! Can I share that? Can I tell you how I am so tired of Americanized Christianity, so tired of missing out on God's goodness & presence because of my own selfishness, unrighteous anger, moodiness, and or complaining spirit. As I was writing in my journal and crying out to God, the following song lyrics welled up in my heart:

I Need More Of You (More Than The Air I Need To Breathe)
I Need More Of You (More Than The Water That I Drink)
more Of You (I Need You So Much Jesus)

I Need More Of You (More Than My Eyes I Use To See)
I Need More Of You (More Than My Heart That Needs To Beat)
more Of You (I Need The Risen Savior)
you (I Need The Lord Of Lords)
you (I Need You So Much More)
(I Need You More And More)

oh Lord I'm Chasin,my Soul Is Thirsty,oh Lord Please Fill Me...and When You Have Filled To The Top please Give Me Some More and I'll Still Want More....can't Get Enough Lord

I Need More Of You (More Than The Earth Beneath My Feet)
I Need More Of You (I Need You More Than Anything)
more Of You (I Need The Lord Of All)
you (I Need You Most Of All)
you (I Need You More)

That's just it. I NEED Jesus, I don't want NOTHING ELSE sprinkled on top, added, or removed. I just WANT THE LORD and a CLEAN HEART to serve HIM LIKE I SHOULD. I am asking HIM to revive me tonight in so many areas where I am dead. God, knows I am THANKFUL for the Holy Spirit and the words " He who began a good work in YOU will complete it". Oh Father how I really really believe that. Show yourself STRONG!!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ,a broken and contrite heart,

O God, you will not despise- Psalm 51:17

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When You Shop Black Friday, Think of CGM Christmas Store

We're excited! Its that time of the year again!

Font sizeCommon Ground Montgomery
2010 Christmas Store

This is our fourth annual Christmas Store that serves in our neighborhood and allows you and your family a special opportunity to participate.

We have two very important goals:

1.To provide the Kids in our neighborhood the joy of receiving some toys for Christmas that they might not otherwise get.
2.To offer the parents and guardians of these kids the gift of dignity as they are provided an opportunity to purchase toys at an affordable rate

Purchase any toy for kids up to the age 14
Leave Price tag intact or leave receipt in bag
Donate money of gift card from Toys R Us
Drop off at Common Ground Montgomery 1516 Mobile Road 36108
Consider becoming a volunteer at our Christmas Store

The donated toys will be sold at affordable rates to the parents and guardians of the kids in our programs. The proceeds will then be donated to one or two families in the neighborhood that are experiencing immediate financial stress.

Drop Off Days Are Limited....
Monday,November 29, thru Wednesday, December 15th
(office hours 9a.m.-3 p.m. Mon-Fri)

Need More Info? Email us- office@cgmal.org or call Kevin King..657-7049

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jam of the Week-Level 3:16-Tell Em

New music, from an up and coming new young group of believers. I am looking forward to the debut of their album. Check them out.

For more info about Level 3:16, check them out here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dat Word!

One of the things I really appreciated about Secret Church was the privilege to sit for 6 hours and hear the word of God preached. No announcements, no skits, no jokes, just the word of God. I was convicted as well of how often in the past I have sat in worship service thinking about all the other 2900 things I have to do when I leave. Many of my brothers and sisters in the faith who are dying to have what I did that one night, the chance to sit with anticipation, listen intently, joyously at Gods word. One of the things I was reminded of in Secret Church that night was how God reveals Himself comprehensively in the WORD.

The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant,giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.-Psalm 19:7-11

The Word of God is complete. The Word is relevant. The Word is good. The Word is clear. The Word is eternal. The Word is True.

The Church's response...

The Word transforms us. The Word makes us wise. The Word satisfies us. The Word enlightens us. The Word awes us. The Word makes us righteous. When the Word is absent in our worship..

Our response is manufactured. The result is pleasing to self. When the Word is apparent in our worship.. Our response is authentic. The result is pleasing to God.

We don't come to church to have some music change us, or some motivational words by the pastor to encourage us. God's word alone must be preached into the lives of the congregation.

The men(Elders) who lead us should be men who teach the Word of Christ. Men who know the WORD extensively and communicate the Word effectively.

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.-1Timothy 5:17

I am so thankful for the men who are currently shepherding our flock and even the one who is to come. :) We must remember God's Word is very precious, we must thank Him for the privilege to sit under such teachers. We must also keep those in leadership in our prayers. The have such a heavy job before them. Let's give thanks today for dat Word! the song below was played during a small break in Secret Church. Check it out:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Be You!

"Why do you act like a boy?
" is what Cha-Cha was asked today at school.

Cha-Cha is like any other normal child growing up in the hood(or America for that matter) She is a girl who loves sports, she plays basketball, and baseball. She even was on the cheer leading team last year. She plays the drums in the band. She likes to climb trees and rough house many of the kids around the building from time to time.(like alot-lol) She is who she is and I love her for that. ( to hear Cha-Cha story go here)

This young girl sat in the ministry building today and shared with me how she was teased at school for not dressing as "prissy" as the other girls. She begins to share with me how it starting to bother her a little that things are being said about her.

Cha-Cha-"Mrs Nicole, it really hurts, they say that I need to stop acting the way I do or dressing the way I do, but I think its because they don't know how to play sports as well as me...I don't know...when they said what they said to me I hurried and ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror...and you know what I saw when I looked in the mirror... I saw God's creation starring back at me, I saw a girl who was beautiful, because God created me in his image"

Me- "That's right baby, you are beautiful, there is only ONE of you and God made you perfect just the way you are"

I grabbed her and I just lost it. I held that child and I just wept over the battle she has to face day to day for just wanting to be who God created her to be. Our culture has it soo screwed and of course now our children are picking up on the same mentality.

I told Cha Cha to continue to remind her self of the truth, "God is pleased with who you are." Oh, how I long for girls everywhere to know the TRUTH, how I long for even a 32 yr old woman like myself to remember, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. We have gots to tell these girls more often they are beautiful, and help them to fight against the media/culture and its images. Though Cha Cha was challenged as to who she is, God brought TRUTH back to her heart, she believed it and walked in it. I have learned a lesson from her I will never forget. God wants me to be me and not someone else. I am me for a reason and that reason and ONLY that reason ALONE, He wants and will use for HIS glory and for the proclamation of the Gospel.

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.-

Zephaniah 3:17

A Better Way

I remember as a little girl watching my mom fight a boyfriend. Things got worst as he pulled a gun out on her and shot her in the leg in front of my younger brother and I. I remember hanging out with the local gangs and getting angry with someone riding up on ya turf, which meant handling conflict with gun fire and fist fights.

Hood mentality- we end our disputes and conflict through pain or death upon the other person.

Growing up that's all I saw. When you are mad you fight your differences out. Today, I was reminded that God has a BETTER way, and that way brings peace and healing to both parties involved.

I, along with a friend, mediated conflict tonight between two women in our hood. It was the most humbling, the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed in my life. Pain that runs deep for five years. Bitterness that have taken root and has grown into a full blown forest. BUT, GOD in his mercy, in HIS GRACE, in HIS GOODNESS, reconciled a wife with the woman whom her husband has slept around with for years. How does that happen?
By this POWERFUL Gospel that YOU and I have the privileged of preaching. No guns involved, no razors, no bats, only words of our Savior...

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I sat in that room tonight weeping for the hearts of these women, weeping with joy over Gods word as I watched the Holy Spirit use it transform lives.God IS doing something amazing, HE was right there in this room displaying HIS POWER in a way I had never seen. Oh, I am filled with so much joy, God knows what we need, we needed to see HIM WORK, we were hungry to see HIM MOVE around us. These ladies have a long journey ahead of them, but I do believe its promising. One that doesn't involve death, but life. One that Honors a RISEN King and displays His goodness to all those around them. This is the gospel at work, it doesn't get any better than this!

....and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:20

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Drinking From A Fire Hydrant

The title of this post is literally how I feel. The image in this post shows what I have been up to this weekend: Secret Church. What is Secret Church you ask? It is an intense time of Bible study (6 hours – from 6pm- 12am) focused on a particular theme. The theme for this time was 'The Body Of Christ' (so what I needed in the season of life I am in) Secret Church is also a reminder that all over the world Christians are forced to gather secretly to study the Word because of persecution. The format of the event is similar to how believers in other parts of the globe gather to read the Bible and to worship Christ with other Christians. It was AMAZING!! This is NOT a blog about all that I have leaned. I am still trying to process it all and I know its going to take longer than a month. I was telling my husband this morning I am looking forward to my time in the word this week. I am going over all these notes and going to let God's word richly dwell within me. So there definitely wont be a detailed post. Sorry. I got a lot of chewing to do.

However,I will say this,I left with a heavy burden for my brothers and sisters around the world and I am also burden for you. The Body of Christ. I want to server you through prayers. I want to use this post to pray for you, your family, your ministry, your intimacy with the Lord. So please, please in my comment section leave prayer request for me(and others who read..so that means those of you reading DO PRAY) to use to pray over you this up coming week. If you don't feel comfortable leaving certain request, please email them to me :mrsnicolek@yahoo.com. Be sure to check the Church at Brook Hills website for past and present audio of Secret Church gatherings.

Have a joyous weekend!

"Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful- Christian community is the final apologetic" -Francis Schaeffer

Monday, November 1, 2010

Grace Period-Because..real help don't hurt!

Kai-" mama, have you heard the story about why there are so many places around us that say "Pay day Loans? I know because daddy told me ...."

As I sat and listened to my 7 year old explain the story of predatory lenders, tears form in my eyes because I then wonder, do many people in my neighborhood know how this all got started and how they are being robbed? Probably not.

Each year an estimated $5 billion is robbed from those being "helped" by Payday Loan industry.

America's working poor are striped of hard earned income paying fees on small loans that average less then $350. ( on average they will spend $800 dollars on a loan of just $350)

19 Million Americans will access payday loans this year. 19 MILLION!!

The average payday loan borrower makes more than 7 loans annually.

Efforts to regulate the industry have increased Internet lending not curbed industry growth.

As I sat and heard these statics my heart just dropped. What the heck is going on!? It saddens me that the poor are being robbed like this. I have been wondering and researching for a year now as to how all this can be put to an end. While at the CCDA conference I sat in a seminar by a ministry called, Grace Period.

Grace Period is a club who's members willingly become contractually obligated to save. Using the pooled funds of savers to help others become savers, Grace Period is changing the cycle of financial dependence in its community.

Grace Period founding Concepts:
1. People with emergency funds do not need predatory lenders.
2.In exchange for immediate access to money, many borrowers will commit themselves to becoming savers.
3.Savers joining together create a lending pool.

Grace Period - Join The Movement from Patrick Drudy on Vimeo.

I am so thankful for the HOPE and HELP that is out here. God provides for our neighbors every need. Just when I think something isn't covered by HIM he shows me otherwise. He is so wise and so mindful of us and our communities. I cant wait for us to have a ministry like this in our hood. By God's grace,let's put an end to such lending and show this type of justice to all those around us.

For more information as to how you can launch this powerful ministry in your hood contact someone at the information below or visit their website.

Grace Period Inc.
623 E. Ohio Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Life on Life

I heart these girls. It has been a joy, and privilege to do life on life with them. During our after school program we meet three days a week for cheer practice. During that time, we work on cheers of course, but also, what it means to be healthy physically, good eating habits,( basically I spend time telling them to stay away from the CANDY LADY-lol- I mean really, they will drink like 10 Guzzlers in a day) and bible passages that deal with character and working together.

Through Cheer leading, God has given me relationships with Grandparents, Mothers, Fathers and a very intimate look into the lives of many of these girls. Out of all the girls you see, three have fathers at home, only two are living in families where their parents are married and living for the Lord. One had her mother murdered by her boyfriend. Others are being brought up by grandparents because mom isn't around. These girls are in some very tough situations, but in all, they show up at our center with BIG smiles on their faces, happy to see us all and each other. We are a family, we are not trying to make up for the family they have, we are just extended it and they LOVE it. I will say, my parents who are involved are the BEST. They come along side of me from time to time and will try to reaffirm the best way they know how all the things we learn throughout the week. I love that. We just had our first fund raiser for our team that a mom helped me with and she helped us raise over $1000! The girls were so thrilled. In all our fun, and work, I make sure they always remember who and what this is all about.Our team verse for this year is Colossians 3:23 that says:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men....

God has used this verse tremendously in my heart and I am, I really am seeing Him work in their hearts. Those who know me, know I heart "older woman", "younger woman" relationships. I have the joy to invest in the next generation of wives, moms, career women, and for some grandparents. What I show and tell them about Christ will have an impact that is too high for me to understand. What the LORD WILL DO with all they learn is to lofty for me to understand. IT gives me goose bumps to think about what the LORD can accomplish through them. As I minister to them, I am being changed. God's work in them is saving me from my selfishness, and worldliness. I pray these girls will not conform any longer to the patterns of the hood. I pray this is the generation that teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and domestic violence will no longer show its ugly face. I can see it yall, I have HOPE!

Lets hope and pray together