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, September 15, 2011

U.S. Poverty At a Record High

I was reading an article the other day that lead me to some very disturbing information.(checked it out myself)  It shared that the numbers from the U.S. Census  revealed that nearly 1 in 6 Americans are living in povertyThe poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent and now 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty. This is the highest amount since the Census began recording the statistic 52 years ago.
I continued to read that in the South, it's worst. In 2009, 17.6 million were under the poverty line and by 2010, they had added 1.5 million to that number, sending the poverty rate to 16.9 percent.

My heart breaks at how broken things are in this world. I am even more burden at how the church has failed to respond at times. Some may get offended by this post and say, " that's easy for you to say" or "don't judge us because of where we are and what you do". I say...brethen, have we yet begun to be Christians???  Scripture is so clear on what we are called to do as believers, not just the missionary on staff in the hood, not just the pastor of your local church, ALL OF US! We all have a responsibility to make sure we are loving and showing up in the lives of the least of these. To be honest, it's very easy to NOT do that were I am and get comfortable in not doing MORE of what the Spirit may be leading me to. I, too often I have to remember what God has commanded:

"But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord." -1 John 3:17-19 

Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.- Prov. 14:31

He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need. -Prov.21:13
If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty.-Prov.28:27

"Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, 'Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.   For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' "And I, the King, will tell them, 'When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!' Then I will turn to those on my left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry and you wouldn't feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn't give me anything to drink; a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'  "And I will answer, 'When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.' "And they shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into everlasting life." - Matthew 25:34-46

I once heard a well respected guy say, "We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.” 

When you KNOW the person you are serving, when you REALLY know their struggle, know and see with your own eyes why things are the way they are for them, your heart cant help but to be broken with compassion. 
Rich, we all fall into that category, yes including me. I too have to always search my heart on these things. Brethen, please, lets examine our hearts together and stand for the things Jesus did. Lets be the hands and feet of our Savior here on earth. Let's go back to really reading our bibles and living out those good works that He ordained for us to walk in before the foundation of  earth was formed. (Eph.2:8)

Who is your neighbor?  Where are the least of these? Find Him (them) and love Him like you have never loved before, for the GLORY of GOD. God grace awaits you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Life

Many times I visit my own blog to read and be encouraged of all the ways God has worked in our neighborhood. For some reason, as I'm reading I begin to feel a little sad. Not too many encouraging post of how the Lord has used what is happening in ministry to impact other areas of my life. For one, our community garden Seeds of Hope, God has been wacking me upside the head on my own unhealthy eating habits, I can't preach to the hood about eating healthy if I'm not practicing my self what I preach.

"but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB)

As a result of watching a weekend marathon of food movies( Food Inc., Fat, Sick, Nearly Dead, Tapped, Dirt,ect) on Netflix, I decided to remove many foods I eat from my diet until I can learn self control and eat them in a way that is not controlling or unhealthy for my body. No, sugar or processed foods is not a sin in and of it self, but it can be for me when I chose to not practice self control.

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12 NASB)

Often, I find myself being pulled in so many different directions, trying to maintain friendships, parenting, marriage, youth ministry, homeschooling, ect. It can be a bit much and your priorities could very well get out of order if you are not careful. I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago about priorities and one of the things we talked about was, at the end of the day we want to make sure we have made eternal investments into our husband and children. This is my FIRST and MOST important priority. Oh, how I long to do this well, how I long for an older woman to help me love my husband and children. My goal this week is to intentionally look for ways to invest into my family more, to give them just as much attention as I give the many other things that are tugging at me. By the power of the Holy Spirit that works mightily in me, I can and will do this.

"...so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (Titus 2:4, 5 NASB)

We are down to a week left in the launch of our church plant, Strong Tower at Washington Park. I'm excited, yet I'm nervous because it will be another area that the Lord I know would want me to serve in. Playing a part in your local church is very important. Being involved will keep me from adding anything else to do on my list, as this will be at the top of my priorities. I can't wait to see what God does with this core group of people.

"and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."(Hebrews 10:24, 25 NASB)

I wanted to use this blog to share about how the Lord is working in my life as a whole, not just CGM ( though thats what end up happening). I think, having a bigger picture of what He is doing will encourage us all. God is amazing! I would not want to rob you of how good, trustworthy and loving He is by what I communicate here. Please pray that every post written is designed to point you to our loving Creator. Pray for me as well, that I strive to be the best helper and mom a family could have. To God be the Glory!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 5, 2011

58: The Film

I saw this video over at my friend Emily blog. Very powerful video, thought I might share it with you here as well.
May God move us to love the poor in a way it demonstrates His Kingdom powerfully here on earth!

58: THE FILM Trailer from LIVE58NOW on Vimeo.

Isaiah 58

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself ? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 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. 11 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. 12 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.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Picture on A Shirt

When you live in the hood,it's common for you to see pictures of deceased family members or friends plastered on a t- shirt. You might even see the name of the person written on the back of a car, designed and cut into the hair style of a friend with the letters R. I. P. attached to it. All to show respect and honor to the dead. We see that a lot around here, more so lately. Last week four people were shot, the target was meant for one, but because a bullet doesnt have a name on it, 2 were killed, and 2 were hospitalized( 31 yr old mom and her 14 yr old son). 2 young boys(21 & 17 yr old) killed,over a dice game. My stomach and heart both hurt everytime I think about it. I begin to weep the other day over the lives of these 2 young men. I begin to weep about the lives of the boys we know who could have easily been involved in this or in the path of the bullets. I, had just exited the area the shoot out occurred at least by an hour. God was very gracious to me and the little girls I was taking home. I weep at the thought of these boys not having a chance due to the life of sin they may have chosen to live. I was telling my husband the other day how this situation reminds me of the lyrics to a song by Christian rap artist Thisl. In his song, he talks about the reality of death in the hood. He describes three people who chose to live life fast in the hood and how they are remembered here on earth.
In his song he says....

"it's a shame, ain't no telling who that boy could have been with the influence of a few good men, to see him on the ground, man, it makes my heart hurt, but now (insert name here) gone, he's just another picture on a shirt"

Just a picture on a shirt. Lives God created with a purpose, men God created with dignity are now gone. Oh, how my heart just breaks man out of sadness for these guys. It's like I was sad, yet, I felt a glimmer of hope. I then begin to weep out of joy because God is still in the midst of raising up godly young men who CAN make a difference in their hood. Boys who have the privilege of having godly men mentor them and spend time with them week after week, encouraging them that street life is not the way to go. I begin to think about every sleepover we've had as staff, every holy hip hop concert we've been to and invited the kids in our neighborhood to attend, all the time spent at the building with kids, all the long conversations about life and the choices you make, have all been ways God has chosen to call us to impact the younger generation. For me personally, It makes the things mentioned above so much more important. You just never know how you may be impacting others around you.

What will happen to them as they grow older, only God knows. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would intercede and that the course of life for these boys would be one that is promising.

Please pray for my community. Many of us are in fear. There has been talk of retaliation. Some of our kids who live where the crime was committed are suffering from flashing images of the deceased laying on the ground. They are restless and need your prayers. We need wisdom as a staff on how to minister during this difficult time. We need God to move in our hood, like never before. Thank you for standing in the gap for us.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone