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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Heart Of Firebird

"Children all around us are hurting. Everyday countless kids are faced with the realities of generational poverty, violence in their communities and the absence of fathers."

Check out the clip below of a new film that will hit theaters 2011. We are amped about it as I know many of you will be too.I was waiting for them to place the vid on the internet so that I could share with you. Check it out and go see it! Pay close attention, there may be some faces you are familiar with. :)


Movie Synopses:
At the height of her success as a noted children’s author, young Samantha Crawford’s world is suddenly shattered with news of her husband’s murder in the city neighboring her quintessential southern farm. Still reeling from her loss, Sam comes dangerously close to ending her own life, when a mysterious chain of events brings her face to face with a dear childhood friend…a friend who happens to live in the neighborhood where her husband was killed. Sam is surprised to discover her old friend, Joe Bradford, working with at-risk children in his fractured neighborhood, all the while facing intense storms of his own. Observing Joe battle for his own life and the life of the children in his neighborhood, Sam is left with a choice. Will she let her painful past and desire for revenge destroy her future, or will she give hope a chance? A moving drama inspired by true events, this story will warm your heart and open your eyes to the hope found in unexpected places.

The Heart Of Firebird from Firebird on Vimeo.

Depravity

On Tuesday, I have the privilege ( and I really do mean privilege.. I am blown away and humbled that God would use me to share anything about Him, I am so not worthy) of teaching bible study to 1st and 2nd graders during our after-school program. They are the most silliest and grown little girls I have met. LOL! I love them. Yesterday, our discussion was on the character of God.

God is Omniscient(all knowing) & Omnipotent.(all-powerful)
-Psalm 139:2-6
-Isaiah 40:13-14
-Rev. 22:13

These girls sat there and chewed the scriptures up. They were amazed that God knew so much about them(us) and still loves us so. These words were comforting to them and myself as well. Comforting words that the LORD knew they needed to hear in order to be prepared with what would happen later. After our ministry van picked up area kids from their schools, a teacher was shot multiple times by her ex boyfriend. Shot...in front of a couple of our kids( and many others on the scene) who were left behind at school to work safety patrol.

I sat and cried thinking about our kids and their environment the first word that came to my mind was depravity. Its a beast. Only someone who is lost would go to a school and open fire around young babies.


I begin to counsel and pray with a couple of girls who saw it all. They were devastated. Oh how my heart breaks for these kids. Who goes to school and expects this to happen, let alone witness it?? We prayed for the victims family, we talked about God being all knowing, and mighty to save the shooter. One of the girls even prayed that the ex boyfriend would come to know the LORD and stop doing such foolish things and one day share Jesus with his friends.

Our kids hurt, they are learning what it means to trust God and know He is in control but they hurt. I am thankful for Gods Sovereignty in the lessons that were taught yesterday, it gave is ways to comfort confused hearts. They teacher is at a local hospital and we just heard she will make.

Psalm 102:25-27 says, In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same,and your years will never end.

Some learned yesterday and some were reminded that God will put an end to such things, such cruel acts will perish right along with the rest of the creation; yet,God will still be there. He is here, NEVER changing always known for His goodness for years and generations to come. May the Lords words always comfort the hearts our these little ones.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

May The few


may the few be many
Lord..may they see You as You are
may the narrow road be wide here
wide
now may Your kingdom come
....






glorious and mighty
are Your ways in all the earth
and may Your worth arrayed in glory
render hearts that only worship You....






we plea that they might know You Lord...







matthew 7:13-14

-Lyrics by Shane and Shane 'May The Few


















Monday, September 27, 2010

CGM New SIte



"......and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." -Isaiah 58


As I read this verse,(which is like my fav verses to date) I sit here and weep,weep over all that God is doing,things too great from me to understand.Our new website is up and running and I believe it is a testimony of GODS GRACE. Not us, but the LORDS. This is work HE HAS DONE. Work, that He ordained from the beginning of time. Work that He has called and equipped His people to do. Ya'll, I am so humbled to see this, this amazing work. All that has happened within our ministry has happen because God lives and moves and has a plan for our hood that we cant even begin to fathom.

For by the grace given us we as a staff just want to serve God and love people.We are simply HIS servants laboring in accordance to the measure of faith God has given us. You too can be apart of this. Check out our new site and find out how you can be involved. Thank you so much for praying for us. God knows we need it. This calling ain't no cake walk, but my Lord, we SEE HIM and that's whats MOST important!

http://www.commongroundmontgomery.org/

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Redemption

(Bride and her two sisters)
"....I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; .....for the former things have passed away." And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold I make all things new." Revelations 21

That verse, in context was talking about the NEW JERUSALEM(heaven), but I have seen the LORD display His kingdom here in my neighborhood, in the hearts of people for over the past three years now. Yesterday, one of the original SLAM girls got married. Me and a couple of my staff just lost it, we broke down in tears in praise to God for all that HE, again I say HE has done. As I watched her walk down the aisle I remember her telling me, "man, I aint becoming no christian , y'all are too weak for me". This girl is a believer now, about to be a mama and now has a husband who became a believer this summer.

Today, I am reflecting on what God has done in her life and praising Him for all that HE has done. You too can join me, by reading about where she came from to where she is now,here, here,and here too.

I failed to mention that this young girl is also on staff with us as our admin assistant. God plan is always perfect!! There are no words to say how GOOD GOD is. Yesterday, I read the facebook status of another girl we use to have bible study with and it said " congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds for getting married, I hope that's me one day, because I am tired of playing house" We all know marriage is NOT the goal, but that they know something is wrong with a shacking up lifestyle is a wonderful way to have a gospel conversation.

Pray for this new couple as they begin this new life together. I will post wedding pics this week.
Have a worshipful Sunday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Closer Look Into Our Lives


Our ministry is in the process of launching a new and improved website that I CAN'T wait for you to see! As supporters, friends, family and prayer partners, this will give you a closer look as to what is happening in our hood. But for right now, I would like for you to visit out NEW Friends and Family page. Here ,you will find videos, blogs written by ALL of our staff, and pictures that all share what the heart of Common Ground is about. So, grab a chair, a nice blanket, and a cup of your favorite drink and enjoy seeing and reading about all that the Lord is doing in West Montgomery! :)

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who Is My Neighbor?

As I pulled into the ministry building parking lot, I noticed a little boy who seems to have dropped all of his school papers on the ground. You remember those days? Where you are walking home carrying like 50 books and 10 folders with loose leaf paper in them, and then it happens, your fingers slip and all of your belongings go flying everywhere (at least they did in Chicago-windy city) Uh,hello,embarrassing!! This young boy just sat on the ground struggling quickly to place them all back into his folder. There was another younger boy just standing by watching the kid clean his mess,then he begins to walk away. I made eye contact with Him as I was driving in the gate to park and I begin to ask Him, " Hey, aren't you going to help ya friend?" The little boy looked at me and says, "NO MAM' ,He aint no friend of mine, I dont even kno HIM"..I looked at the young boy on the ground who finally got his things together and he begin to stand up and walk away.

I just sat in my car and thought about the parable of the Good Samaritan. How many times have I left my neighbor along side the road and because he/she doesn't fit my liken, or apart of my inner circle, I have left him to fend for himself? I TOO didn't go and help this young boy..why? (which is so sad)because as I pulled into the ministry parking lot, there where 100 other kids running around with issues too and I just got overwhelmed looking at it all and decided to do nothing, because..it was too much and I am tired. I'm still convicted even as I write this post.

In his new book (that you may not find on the Internet because I purchased it at the CCDA Conference) Who Is My Neighbor?-Lesson From A Man Left For Dead, Wayne Gordon shares 30 years of experience in urban ministry,Gods faithfulness and what He has learned about loving his neighbor. In his book, one of the things he shares is that our neighbor is someone who appears on our paths. A lot of times I am praying and asking God to show me how to love those around me, and then it happens, I begin to see MANY needs, many problems, many people who are hurting and need to fill loved. You don't have to look to hard. Its an overwhelming view from where I am sitting.

Well, what I am learning from reading this book, is that we can at times, which I do....a LOT, feel so burdened by the problems of this world that, we feel paralyzed (which I do at times) unable to help, or act because we CANT DO everything, so we end up not doing anything at all.(this is me at times) Coach Gordon shows us how the Good Samaritan story can function as a source of comfort. Let me tell you how.

It helps us to realize that we are NOT responsible for solving all the world's problems, thus freeing us to act when we have the opportunity. Who are our neighbors? Our neighbors as he said are those who appear on our paths, thus giving us a chance to help them. This chapter was of great comfort to me, because I am such a problem solver at times and so when things seem crazy I'm always trying to think of a plan to help everyone, and a LOT of times I fall on my face, because it was never meant for me to do. Wayne says we must not feel guilty for not doing what we cant do, but simply trying to do what we can (through the Lords provision of course) We are not SUPERMAN!(and neither is superman,superman--thats JESUS TITLE! lol) Instead of being overwhelmed by problems we cannot solve we need to pay attention to those people and those opportunities God has placed on our paths. Ya'll this is me. I am such a visionary, I will sit down and come up with how I need to help so and so and do so and so, then I am depressed because it's too much, when the LORD has not called me to do half of what I was trying to do.(remember being spirit led and not need driven)

Questions to ask self posted from Coach Gordon; Who are the people God allows you the privilege of coming into contact with on a regular basis? Those people are your neighbors. It's that simple. They don't have to live on the same block,neighborhood,or next door. They could be children or families in another part of the city or world.I am called to love them when I have the opportunity and God is pleased with that.

Main Point: Once we are freed of the burden of feeling that we have to solve all the of the hoods problems (or world) we are better able to notice the opportunities that surround us. We experience the joy of serving others.

God is so good y'all. I really am encouraged and feel so refreshed to look amongst my family, and neighborhood and see the opportunities the LORD has put aside for me and only me. I pray I steward this thing well for the Kingdom and HIS GLORY!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How To Stay Refreshed




be led by the Spirit, rather than driven by need...In order to be led by the Spirit it is essential that we spend time with God in prayer and meditation before we rush in to meet needs and attempt to solve problems. We are led to joyful action when we first listen to the promptings of God’s Spirit. When we spend time with God each day we recognize how big God is and that God is the salvation of the world, not us. We don’t overestimate our own importance. Instead we let the love of God flow through us as we cooperate with the work God is already doing in the lives of others."
_ Arloa Sutter

I have been pondering and chewing on this quote for the past couple of weeks now. The Lord is using it in my prayer life as well as my times alone with Him. It's very easy to get discouraged in ministry, to think you are the one in CONTROL, to believe the lie that you can do it all by yourself, in your own strength,through your own "wisdom" is foolishness. Yup, I have been foolish. God has been humbling ya girl. I cant do it. I was never meant to. What is happening and not happening in the hearts and lives of my neighbors has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what God already had planned before the foundation of the earth. I desire to follow the spirits promptings when it comes to loving my neighbor as myself. God is killing the rule follower/ problem solver mentality that grows in my heart. Ministry can breed all forms of busyness that isn't useful to the kingdom if God didn't call me to do it. I don't want to be in those places and do those things that His spirit isn't leading me to do. Oh, God, remove this Martha heart. I desire to follow Him and yield to what He is doing.I desire to slow down and sit at His feet more. This isn't easy all the time but through God's grace I really do believe its possible. The goal is to be able to serve the Lord with joy and gladness in this calling and to be here for the long haul (mentally that is). Abiding in God, and keeping my focus on Him is where I will begin and stay.
.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.- John 15:5

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Invisible



The poor are always with you, you just can't see them. They are the hungry. They are the thirsty. They are those within our own churches who would never acknowledge their need for clothing. How can we begin to serve the invisible in our midst?
In this powerful book, Arloa Sutter will give you vision. Through her own compelling stories and those of many others, she sensitively examines the hard issues of poverty through real-life examples, theological and philosophical models, and practical direction. With wisdom and first-hand knowledge from her own established ministry to the poor, Sutter will open your eyes to what is happening around your very own neighborhood.

Look and see the invisible like you've never seen them before. And then capture your own vision for helping those whom the world considers "the least of these," but whom Jesus called his "brothers" (Matt. 25:40).


This is definitely one I am adding to the shelf to read in the next couple of weeks.

Grab a copy of this book here or better yet, receive a copy for FREE when you give to BreakThrough Urban Ministries.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering The Past, Rejoicing in The Present, Re-Imagine the Future


"Go to the places in this world that are rotting away because of sin and be the salt and light YOU were created to be, and be amazed by what happens..."


Ughhh, that quote from the conference just blows me away!! It's me again and I'm glad to be back in the blogger world as well as home.( though, as I write this, gun fire is going off behind our house...what a way to welcome me back) The title above was the theme to the CCDA conference this year. God used this theme to challenge me greatly this past week. From the time I arrived in Indiana from the time I landed in Atlanta, I was taught by the LORD to do all the above. Remember my past, rejoice and choose gratitude in the present and re-imagine (hope) towards the future. God amazes me how things are so under His sovereign control. So much so that I at times really struggle with wanting to surrender my all to him. Ughh, I am such a mess.

My husband, as well as our daughter left early this year in order for me to visit family in Indiana before heading to Chicago for the conference. Seeing my family was long over due. I haven't been home in over 8 years. To be honest, I was afraid I wouldn't be as strong to visit my old stumping ground. I lived in fear of thinking that the temptation there would get the best of me. God kept me and provided grace to where I was deeply sadden and burden at much of what was still happening in the city.

On the way to the conference I had chance to view my old hood. Craaazy!! I was amazed at all that the Lord is doing and has done through many other CCD (Christian Community Development) ministries in the Chicago area. Though these ministries are there, there is still much work to be done in the harvest. Chicago crime is at an all time high. This was the first week back in school for many kids and there were already 4-6 deaths. Kids killing kids man. Ugh, so sadd. Gangs are at war and poverty is high. Please keep the city of Chicago in your prayers, as well as the following CCD ministries below. Our only HOPE is the gospel, may the LORD invade our world and redeem all that is broken. There is not to much I can really say about the conference, with my daughter coming along, I pretty much missed out of some really good sessions. However, the plan is to listen on line and order by mail whatever else I missed.

On a lighter note, if you haven't already, be sure to check out my other blog centered around the topic of Biblical Womanhood. May I introduce to you,
The X~ Factor.
I am excited about this one. Of course, I will continue to blog here, but for right now, I have some unpacking and planning to do.
Later Gators!


Ministries that NEED your prayers as they love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength(and loving their neighbors as themselves) through serving the city of Chicago:

Hope House / Nehemiah Discipleship House

The House

Canaan MB Church-West Englewood

Lawndale Community

Breakthrough Urban Ministries

Circle Urban Ministries

Sunshine Gospel Ministries


On another note... I need prayer.. whatever comes to mind when you pray for me is okay. I just need to be taken to the Father on so many different levels. Thanks!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Invade


After a long day of being with our kids and observing much of what my neighbors consider everyday life, I return home to lay in bed feeling as if the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I mean, how can you sleep well every night knowing some kid doesn't have lights, or haven't eaten in days, or when drugs, gangs and violence is the norm in your area. My heart just aches sometimes. Wondering, how is the LORD working, because I know He is. When will He show up again and invade a place that is surrounded by pain. I cry every time I listen to this song by Trip Lee. I mean, its me crying out to the LORD to come, come and show us your glory! Return to this place that needs you so desperately. Lets read the chorus and second verse together:

In this broken world we wanna better way,
Cause it all went wrong, tell me who can save the day
Invade our world (come and invade our world)
Invade our world (come and invade our world)



You know the place where we placed at
It's like loves been erased they replaced that
There's no food in the crib where they plates at
The kid got shot in the place where he plays at
Jay said this can't be life, I'm lookin at the world like this can't be right
We lookin for the light but we can't be night
We lookin for our health but we can't see right (see right)
Comin y'all we gotta face facts
His years go tears roll down his face
When he had a lot of hope it would fade black
Now he cold and he ain't really fazed at
Anything his face seems light, cause his moneys out like they made three strikes
Needs something to come down invade these nights
A real life Hero need that'll make things right



WE need the Lord to invade! Our hoods are broken, homes are broken, marriages are broken, our world is broken. He is the only Hero that possess such power, and love to make things right. I groan with creation as I eagerly await our adoption.
With a heart of worship,prayer and praise, please listen to this song in its entirety below.