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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Now Is The Time




"God has a plan for your life and your family—to reveal the glory and the splendor of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and to fill the earth with His glory.” –Nancy Leigh DeMoss



As you can see the counter above this post I am excited about the True Woman Conference that I will attend next month. ( I attended in 08 with a group of friends, as you can see from the pic above taken by the people over at Revive Our Hearts)
The Lord could not have planned a perfect time for me to be apart of this. Today is our 8 year anniversary and I have been thinking a lot about where I am as a helper to Kevin and areas I need to improve. Lord have mercy, I need help. I am struggling in some many ways. I need to be revived, I need a refresher and I need some brokenness to happen in my life. I am praying this conference hits me right where I need to be hit. Please be in prayer for me and the rest of the ladies from our neighborhood and beyond who will be attending with us. They just extended the conference Reg. and the tickets are even discounted. You can still make it, wont you join us for a counter cultural revolution!!! Click here to check out the promo video.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Common Ground Montgomery-Update February 19,2010

Summer Camp at Common Ground

Sponsor a Kid
As we plan for our summer program we are trying to get a jump on the funding to pull off our ‘camp’. Our summer camp is extremely important in keeping kids off the streets during their time off from school. The potential is great for our kids to get caught up in many of the destructive patterns in our neighborhood with so much idle time in the summer.
The camp is 8 weeks long and will end with a week away at Camp Blue Lake in the woods of Andalusia. We will accept 120 kids this summer from the neighborhood ages 6-13. Our kids will be exposed to intensive bible study, small group discipleship led by college interns and CGM staff; mini sports camps (baseball and basketball), entrepreneur training, arts and music classes, academic enrichment, character development, recreational fun, field trips throughout the city, and strong Christian mentorship. Would you consider ‘sponsoring’ a kid for the summer? The cost per kid, is about $400.00. Please email Bryan (bryan@cgmal.org) if you can sponsor one of our kids.

Summer Interns Wanted
We are now accepting applications for summer interns (college age and up) to come join us in June and July. The internship will run for 9 weeks and will be an amazing summer for those who participate. All of the interns will actually live in the neighborhood alongside other local summer interns who have grown up in our neighborhood. The interns will help run the summer camp for 120 kids from our neighborhood by organizing many of the daily activities and by mentoring 6-8 kids a piece in small group bible studies and various ‘life on life’ relational activities throughout the day.
In the evening, the mentors will participate in an in-depth training curriculum and discussion groups covering topics such as: racial divide, biblical justice, mercy, life as a demonstration of the Kingdom of God, biblical responses to poverty and oppression, and various other life challenging topics. Click here to check out our 4 minute recruitment video concerning the summer internship.

CGM Basketball
We started three basketball teams and a cheerleading squad a few weeks ago. We play our games on Saturday mornings at the Cleveland Court YMCA. For most of our kids, this is the first organized sports team they have EVER participated on. Obviously, we are having a lot of fun with the teams, but more importantly, the practices andgames give us more opportunity to spend time with the kids and seek to instill a Godly view of life, respect, and work ethic. If you get a chance, come out and support Coaches ‘Frog’, ‘Uncle Irvin’, and Alonzo and the CGM “Lions” one Saturday morning soon. You will be blessed!

Save the Date
Save the Date: Thursday, April 22nd 6:30-9:30 pm at the Alley Station Ballroom the Montgomery Area Bar Association will sponsor a fundraiser with all proceeds going to Common Ground. Tickets are $50/person. Please contact Jamie Welch 220-3861 or jamie@cgmal.org

Coming soon…..Casserole Ministry at Common Ground for more information please contact Jamie Welch 220-3861 or jamie@cgmal.org


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

God Speaking

Today has been such an amazing day. As a matter of fact, this week in general has been the highlight of my walk with the LORD(besides accepting Christ as my Savior). I find myself always asking the LORD to reveal himself to me, "Lord show me who you are, show me your glory". ( wish I had some music to play for you right here as you read that..lol) I really believe the LORD has answered those prayers many times, but ask me have I been paying attention. I took on the 28 day fast challenge for your unsaved family members that the girls over at Girl Talk Blog are doing, and I am just, in, in amazement(hate to keep using that word, but I really am) of what the LORD has revealed to me. Its amazing what fasting does. I believe this week I have been so sensitive to so many things in my life due to this time of discipline and prayer. Just last night as I was fighting away hunger pains and trying to go to sleep, I begin to pray for my family, calling some by name, some not. About 30 minutes later I get a text around one oclock in the morning from a cousin I was just praying for!!! She begins to share with me how she is running from the LORD and really wants to become a Christian. I am in awe. The LORD hears my prayers!!! I know every case my not work out in this way, but mine did. The LORD REVEALED HIMSELF AGAIN, accept this time, I was so focused on prayer and fasting that I was sensitve to pay attention. I shared the gosple with her again and invited her to come hang out with me and another young girl whom I meet with for bible study. It was neat to see her today, I have not seen her in 8 years!!!!!!! I shared my testimony of what my life was really like before Christ and even heard her story of wanting to walk with the LORD and not knowing how to let go of all of her competing loves. She is so hungery for this relationship, but she is also scared to let God down. Oh, please pray she would be set free of knowing the TRUTH -that GOD CAN CHANGE HER, she cant change herself!! We spent hours talking, even after Starbucks was close( that where we all met up at). God has indeeded reminded me how His arm is not to short to save. He has a plan for my cousin life. I cant wait to watch it unfold!!

'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'
-Jer. 3:33

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! -Romans 11:33

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Car Ride Home



Do you ever wonder how the spirit is moving? I mean, do you ever sit back and think about how you became a christian and ponder on all the past circumstances, conversations with people, books your have read, and or movies you have watched that may have played a part in your salvation. All the things that God may have used to draw you into himself??
I think about that alot, I will sit back and try to remember all that my past entails and try to think back to see if I can see the LORDS hand through it all. Then I remember...some memories very painful and some joyous, yet, I can clearly see what the LORD was doing through it all.

This past weekend the girls who are a part of our cheer squad asked me if we could have cheer practice today. With them being out of school, I thought that would be a great idea, it would give us extra time to spend together working on some routins for our next game this Saturday. Not all of them made it but 7 did, and this is their story...
After a great practice session, I sat the girls down and I talked to them about team unity, confessing sin one to another, and I gently reminded them that they could come to me and talk to me about anything, I shared with them that it was important that we remembered who we were doing this for and that we enjoy ourselves in the midst of obedience. One of the older girls on the squad had mentioned to me earlier that she wanted to talk to me about being a Christian. I told her that I would love to talk to her about that and that we could talk more about it on our way home. We all prayed and begin to load up in the car, a 10 minute car ride turn into a 40 minute car ride and a window for me to see all of what the LORD has been doing through many of our staff..here's how..
On the ride home we are listening to Tedashi's song of his album Identity Crisis in titled 'Fresh'. In this song, Tedashii is rapping about our Identity as a christian. He talking about our regeneration. How regneration changes our lives...we act different, our life styles begins to change. All this change that has happen because of God and we boast only in the work of the cross that accomplishes that. I am explaing all this the best way I can to these girls.
Before I could even turn the music back on, one girl in the back says," Mrs. Nicole, I want to become a Christian".... silence in the car...another says, "yea, I do too"
I begin to go around the car and ask all of them why?? They begin to share their stories with me, how they want to change, how they need Jesus, how they want to stop being the person they are today and want to live for God. I pull over in the parking lot of a housing project and begin to share the gospel with them all. Mind you, its dark as all get out and I am sitting in one of the worst housing projects in our city. CLEARLY THE LORD was doing something. After I finished sharing, I think that I was in unbelief. I confess that I almost missed out on what the LORD was doing because of doubt of these girls not being genuine, better yet, not believing that the spirit could REALLY work in their hearts.

One girl then asks, "So, did those of us who said we wanted to become a Christian,did we just become one by listening to what you just said".. and I say, "well, I dont know, if you would like I would love to pray with you if thats what you really want...is that what you want"

They all begin say "yes, we want to pray now" At this point I am holding back tears and still in shock!! Lord what are you doing?? He is saving that is what He is doing. He is drawing these young girls to Himself. We see these kids everyday, they hear the gospel at tutoring, they hear it at bible study, they hear it at sleepovers, they see it in our lives.(hopefully) Years ago, we use to meet in my two bedroom home on the floor of my den... reading the bible, talking about Jesus memorizing verses, resloving conflict. Not just me now, but many of the other staff as well as wives from our church family. They all have played a role in these girls wanting to know who Jesus is. I begin to think about how all that has happen through the power of the Holy Spirit, and Christ, within our ministry towards these girls and how all of that teaching played a roll in what was happening in my car tonight.

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (Ezekiel 36)

One girl in the car says, "okay ya'll now if we pray we are telling God that we want him to take over our lives, and that we want to live for Him forever...are yall ready for that"..they say yes, we begin to pray the sinners prayer. Only..I mean, only the LORD could draw a sinner unto himself. To open the eyes of 7-12 year olds blows my mind. They understood VERY clearly what they had done, they understood how their sin placed Jesus on that cross. They understood their need for a SAVIOR!!! A second grader in the car with me says, "you know Mrs. Nicole, after saying that and becoming a Christian, I think I need to stop being around some of the girls at my school because it wont help me live for Jesus, I cant hang out with them no more"
WHAT?!! you mean to tell me at 8 you see the need to flee ungodly influences?? So we begin to talk about what starts to happen in your heart once you become a Christian. We talk about reading our bible, finding other christians to hang out with for fellowship(again, I am having church service in a parking lot..LOL) not being ashamed of the gosple by telling others about the work the LORD is /has done in your heart. At this point, I had to pull off and start taking the girls home before their parents come out looking for me. It was such a weighty, encouraging conversation. I just cant even begin to tell you how different all of their conteance were when they left my car. We even had a chance to talk about our salvation being secure and how in the bible God promises that NO ONE CAN SNATCH you out of His hand. I told them being a christian was not easy, but through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit obedience is accomplished.

Before my last drop off one girl opens the door and says..

"Mrs Nicole, I cant wait to run in the house and tell my grandma that I just became a Christian!!!"

What an example of what happens to someone who's life has just been changed... you cant help but to share this goodness.

Please pray for these girls. Pray that the word of God takes deep root and the cares of this world, the pride of life does not choke it out of them.
Praise God for accomplishing a work that only HE could do. All the days of these girls lives have been written in His book. I am so thankful to witness a part of His plans for them. May these girls live lives that are a testimony of Gods grace.

The Thorn In My Side....

I have been encouraged and convicted by this new blog I have been reading. Unlocking Femininity. Today in my email inbox I received this blog post and I just begin to weep. Thanking the LORD for a timely word and encouragement, that comes ultimately from Him. I pray you are encouraged as well. I am so weak....God is proving over and over how sufficient His grace is. Its more than enough for me.

Lord, please help me to remember that your grace is enough!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Millionaire Gives Away Fortune Which Made Him Miserable




YOU HAVE GOTS to read this article. I love to see people take radical risks. I am not sure if this guy is a believer or not, but what an example we as a church have before us. I pray we learn to take such great risks for the sake of the gospel!




Luke 12:15

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Acts 2:45

Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

'Far Away' (Hati Relief)





Brand new video for Lecrae's track "Far Away"! Written specifically to raise awareness and money for relief work in the earthquake shattered region, the video features footage from the ground in Haiti and of the recent concert in Minneapolis where $20,000 was raised. Please help give more!





This song is available on iTunes right now and all the proceeds from the sale of the track will go to Haiti relief, specifically Churches helping Churches which aims to empower the local churches in Haiti to be centers of relief and hope in Jesus for their community.

Things Are Happening

Things are quite busy around here. There is so much going on within our ministry a lot of times I feel like my head is spinning and I cant keep up. All good things though. As a ministry we cant believe we are were we are today. It seems like what is going on should have happen..like...10 years from now.
Tutoring is going a lot better than it was when we first began. The kids come into a more stricter, and quite environment to receive help in their studies. By the grace of God we are able to keep up with all 85 progress reports and know what subjects each child need help in. Ya'll, that is the LORD!!! Many relationships and bonds have form from the women's bible study that happens on Monday nights. As well as me having a chance to really get to know some of the parents due to the new cheer squad we have. ( something about sports that bring people together). We are seeing more students from Alabama State University come around to share their lives with our kids. We've had a fraternity come and begin to tutor as well as start a little step team with some of our boys. They love it!!! We are preparing to recruit for our summer internship/camp and my husband has been swamped with applications from undergrad and graduate students. (please pray for the LORD to send labors for us to work with this summer) We are working along side a group of people who has a program where they are training and equipping many of those in our neighborhood on how to conduct themselves on a job and how to avoid not having one. We have about three or four adults (one of whom is a soon to be teen dad to one of the girls in our neighborhood) involved in this training. Please pray that they will remain faithful.

I can go on and on about the goodness of the Lord and all that he is doing around us. Now of course, all of this is not happening without there being some form of persecution, conflict and suffering. We definitely have a great share in that. LOL! You have no idea.
I am thankful for the LORDs faithfulness though in the midst of it all. He is sustaining, and giving strength for all to endure. I love how HE promises to NEVER leave us nor forsake us. I will be back to share with you the amazing things the LORD is doing in the purity study with the younger girls! They are eating this bible study up!! I loong to see these TRUTHS take root in their hearts when they get older. I pray we are around to see that. I am sooo thankful!!!

Please keep praying for us!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Confession Is Good For The Soul




After the birth of my daughter I have wrestled with my body image. Overly concerned about my weight and how others view me. I was just talking to my husband this morning sharing with him, I remember in college and high school I never struggled in this area. I sat and remember the contentment, joy and freedom that I had during that time. Something happen, I gained weight after my pregnancy and begin to look around at all the other women who were having kids and dropping down to a smaller size than they were before they even had kids. Well, what was wrong with me? Why didn't my body do the same thing? Well, I confess my issue for one was not watching what I eat as well as not exercising as much as I should. I even confess my sense of emotional eating(esp. when I am bored). I have started reading Elyse Fitzpatrick book Love To Eat Hate To Eat. I read much of this book before, but I think now I am ready to finish it and allow the LORD to chisl away all the mess that I have in this area of eating.

Here is some of what I read this morning, here is a quote she has by David Powlison:
"What happens when someone embraces such values? They live out the logic of their faith in countless ways. Perhaps, most commonly, many women feel abiding,low grade anxiety about appearance. It might manifest as subtly as spending an unnecessary extra couple of minutes in front of the mirror trying to fix what is unacceptable....or stewing internally in regrets and "if onlys". Mental or actual tinkering with appearance can chew up amazing amounts of time and energy. Or perhaps upon walking into the fellowship hall after church a woman is instantly aware of what other women is wearing, and has sized up how she compares. Her very gaze at other people is conditioned to a status hierarchy defined by images of beauty and thus to attendant jealousy, self-loathing,competitiveness,inferiority/superiority comparisons and the like. Perhaps she obsessively pursues alterations in her appearance: hair color,make-up,weight loss, clothing, cosmetic operations. Perhaps she slides into a "eating disorder". Perhaps she plunges into despair and gives up, gaining 100 pounds, becoming unkempt,"uglifying"herself. "I'm a failure",simply registers a different manifestation of devotion to the lie. All such preoccupation rob her of the joy and freedom of faith in Christ the Lord, and sap energies that might be spent in loving concern for others"

Here are a few key principals I will think on throughout the day:
-There is no biblical command to be thin in the bible (just because God does not command thinness doesn't mean that we should ignore our health or our eating habits)
-Being "beautiful" is not the answer to all my problems. What a LIE!!!!
- Outward perfection (which can never be achieved) is not the key to inner peace,joy and happiness.
-This focus on outward appearance is a nifty distraction from my real character issues.
-God did not create me to find joy in my reflection in the mirrors. There will never be satisfaction in that pursuit.
-God desires I have the beauty that is described in 1 Peter 3:3-4:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight

and Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Each concept talked about in this chapter is summed up in the phrase "Fear God". Instead of believing the lies of the world-lies that tell me that outer beauty is the road to happiness- I am to learn to fear God and believe what He says about me. I am encouraged this morning to let His words tell me what I should value, what I should seek after, what I should fear. Instead of fearing others opinions about me, how I look, and my value, I should fear and seek after God.
Elyse ends with saying, "Don't settle for a mere 15-pound weight loss or even the good but temporary establishment of healthy eating habits. Submit yourself to His work in your life- rejoice in it like a "child who rejoices to see his father's wealth, his father's wisdom, his father's power"!
I STRONGLY RECOMMEND anyone who deals with the same struggles to read this book, You wont be disappointed!!
"But seek first his kingdom...." Matthew 6:33


Please remember to pray for me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quote of the Day-Feb.6

"If you love your mission, more than you love your Savior, then your Savior will have no part of your mission". - Carter

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Common Ground Montgomery-Update February 4,2010

As long as I have been a Christian I have longed for one thing and that is too see the LORD. To really see Him work ....in the lives of others around me and in my own as well. I am so thankful for where we are as a family you have no idea. I would not change anything about this calling. The story below will give you just a taste of why....

A Unique Houseguest


A Week With Ms. 'Erma'

As you know it has gotten rather cold outside lately. Some weeks back a lady began to come by our building seeking some food from our pantry. Some of us began getting to know Mrs. ‘Erma’ as she made more and more visits to our facility and eventually our house. One night, I had the opportunity to take her ‘home’, which was a block away from my house. As we carried food into her house I realized she was living like many folks are living in our neighborhood… no electricity…. no running water….no source of heat… and sleeping on the floor of a dilapidated shack that some investor was using to get every dime out of while making no improvements. But this situation was different for another reason.

She clearly was suffering from mental illness. I told her in passing, ‘please don’t freeze out here… you know where I live… please come stay with us if you get too cold’. She assured me she didn’t need to do so, but thanked me. A week later my wife called me and said, “Ms. Erma is here, and she appears to think she is staying with us?’ (I kind of forgot to mention to my wife that I had made that offer! I have an amazing wife!).

The first night she began her stay with us, she would not sleep in our guest bed but on the floor in our guest room, and she would not eat the food my wife prepared or sit at our table, but rather she ate canned food we gave her from our building and sat in a chair beside the table while we ate. She clearly heard multiple voices and carried on various conversations at any given time. My two year-old and she really hit it off. He would put his hand on her leg and just watch her while she ‘conversed’. When she arose in the morning he would be the first to say, “Good mowerning Ms. Erma!” A week went by, and many VERY interesting things happened, but I began to realize that this situation was indefinite.

As we talked, I knew she was tormented by many things: voices, the streets, an unjust landlord, a community that only fed into her drug and alcohol addictions, and the absence of hope. She certainly didn’t need to be living in that shack, and we either needed to decide to ‘keep’ her, or find a better place that she could live with dignity and get help. Through some more conversations, I was finally able to get one of her daughters’ names and learned that she lived about an hour and a half from Montgomery. After some 411 calls, I found a working phone number. I called her daughter, and explained that her mother was staying with us, the condition she was in, and how she had been living. The daughter burst into tears. She, and her sister, had been looking for Mr. Erma for 2 years. They had even hired a private investigator and came up empty. The next morni ng Ms. Erma and I made the drive to reunite her with her daughters. They are now providing for her and getting her the help she needs.

As I have reflected on the significance of our week with Ms. Erma, I have had a few thoughts. First, it’s amazing what happens when you actually take the time to enter into the life of someone and learn their experience and from their perspective. It ‘messed’ me up that I had passed by her many times before and had failed to realize and acknowledge her dignity as one made ‘in the image of God’. I was too busy, had been too overwhelmed with con-men and women on our streets, and had heard too many manipulative lies from ‘junkies’ to be that affected. It’s easy for me to get to the place where I justify feeling nothing and doing nothing because of the complicated landscape of the plight of the ‘poor’. We have all been there. We all know that God requires mercy and justice from us, and yet, we don’t know how to discern when and who to help. We usua lly end up helping nobody. I know that can’t be right. Another thought came to my mind also.

I thought of the previous and current competing ‘voices’ that I hear all day long. The voice within me that tells me that I want the ‘American dream’, that I ‘need’ more stuff, that it’s my right to keep pursuing an upwardly mobile and consumeristic lifestyle, That I will REALLY be happy if I pursue my lusts and greed. The voices outside are screaming at me as well: commercials, TV shows, radio stations, celebrities, artists, politicians and friends are all telling me constantly what I need and want. What is scary is that many in the church are propagating either blatantly or by example that it is o.k. to live like the world, as long as you ‘accept’ Jesus.

I am convinced of one thing though, we REALLY need one another to continually hold up the REAL hope and TRUTH of the GOSPEL and continually remind us to hear the one true Voice that sets us free from all the other voices. Bottom line, I NEED you, and you NEED me and others to ‘encourage one another daily so that we will not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’ (Hebrews 3:13). May God continue to use us together in word and example to live in ways that transform our lives, the lives of others, and our city!

Bryan Kelly
Founder -Common Ground Montgomery

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

FREE MEMBERSHIP!!!

Sooo, I have recently just joined to TWO clubs. (as if my life needed anything else you say..lol) but they will be sooo good for my soul and intimacy with the LORD. One, which is the 5 am Club, I was a part of a while back , I have fallen off the wagon and I am looking forward to getting back on this week. The other is a new one which I am VERY excited about. The FAM Club. The FAM Club (Fast A Meal) is for those who want to fast one meal a week to pray for a family member’s salvation. I am praying that the LORD reveals himself to me in new ways and that my walk with Him will never look the same. I need this form of discipline in my life. So come on.. join..you don't even have to pay a thing, membership is FREE and the rewards are eternal!
For more info on how you can be apart of these clubs, go here. Hope to see you there! :)