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
God has blessed us to be apart of a really unique, amazing, God loving and fearing community of believers. All of our friends really do live what they preach. I would like you to meet my friends Jeff and Jennifer Hand. They live in our community and have plans to adopt from China. It would take forever for me to share how much they have impacted our faith, family and mission in Washintgom Park. I absolutely adore them!
Here's their blog : www.handadoption.blogspot.com
Please take some time to visit, get to know a little about their family and even pray about how you can generously give towards their adopting efforts.
We're down to a week left of our sabbatical and I have to be honest, I CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK! Now, if you had of asked me that question a little over a month ago, I'm sure I would've given you a different answer. God is good. I really believe the Lord helped us to use this time to accomplish exactly what He wanted to accomplish in us. To help us to refresh so that we would be eager to return and be apart of the work that He's doing in our community. To seeHim more clearly and the things that we were in bondage to and needed freedom from that affected our ministry. To be healthy as a family, to really remember that our first priority in ministry is our own personal walks with God and loving our closest neighbors, that being our spouses and our own kids. My daughter has literally been counting down the days of returning home. I've received text messages from both neighbors and friends looking forward to our return. I can't wait to see everyone again!
Some people think we're crazy. We've heard plenty of statements lately that ask, "are you guys really ready to come back"? "You SURE you want to return..why?!"
Oh yea people, we're VERY sure. We expect things to be difficult, we expect all the craziness that comes along with this calling. We can imagine what we're walking back into. We're walking back into a life that allows us to give of ourselves relationally, hospitably, and financially (without enabling) in life transforming ways. We're choosing to walk back into the work of God, a life that is full of mess, sometimes deception, sometimes painful, frustrating and wearisome. A life that will force us to stay on our knees begging for Gods help, strength, grace and ability to love others better then we love ourselves. A life that forces me to see the mess that lies within myself and cling to the amazing truth that my life has been hidden in Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ that lives within me.All of my righteous standing come from Him! A life that forces me to be honest and vulnerable with my neighbors as they watch me be sanctified, fall on my face, learn how to walk in repentance and fight daily to live a life worthy of the gospel. About 6 years ago, I read this quote by Francis Chan that God used to confirm in my heart the life that He was calling me to not only follow my husband into, but to be apart of as well.
“But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.” - Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.
“Seek (inquire for, require, care for, demand) the peace and welfare of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captive; and pray to the Lord for it, for in the welfare (completeness, wholeness, contentment, well-being) of the city in which you live you will have welfare.” - Jeremiah 29:7
CCDA National Conference plans are underway. Not sure what CCDA is? Visit this link here.
Want to stay updated on registration and information about the conference this year? Click this link here. Want a little taste of what you'll hear while you're there? Listen to this conference session taught by Coach Wayne Gordon, pastor of Lawndale Church in Chicago. Loving Your Neighborhood.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.-1 Peter 4:12-19
It's that time of the year again where we're recruiting for our summer camp.
The CGM Summer Resident Mission (SRM) is a nine-week experience on the West Side of Montgomery, Alabama. Participants live, serve, learn, and grow with other college age or older folks, and neighborhood friends in a neighborhood that is under-resourced and stressed in many ways. Participants help run an 8-week summer camp during the day that consists of about 100 neighborhood children between the ages of 6-14.
If you or someone you know would be interested in spending a summer with us, please share with them this blog post. All those interested may click here for more info. Please join us in praying that the Lord would send laborers to the harvest that we know as Washington Park. We desperately need godly MALES. Please see the video below to hear testimonials from past interns and learn a little more about SRM.
I love a good chick flick! The kind of movies that are predictable from the beginning to the end. Movies that you know will end with the good guys coming out on top. Movies that we like to call, "perfect". We love those movies because they tend to help us to forget (at least for a little while) the reality of whats really going on around us and even in our very own hearts. Movies that we like to use as an escape from the devastating affects of a world fallen.
I've been wondering lately, how much in my heart have I expected this journey into inner city ministry to be just like what I've witnessed in my favorite films. It's so easy to fall for a romanticized view of inner city ministry. A view that believes that everything will be "perfect" and work out just as YOU have planned.
Things are far from perfect here. My days are long. Conflict is served on a regular, backbiting, entitlement, slander, you will be used, you will be disrespected, you will be cursed out, relationships with your neighbors will change and some may even end. As I mentioned above, I love chick flicks because they are so predictable. What made ministry difficult for me at times was that I couldn't predict, control (real heart of the matter) what was happening around me. For a moment, I began to hold onto things that I believed would be true about living in the hood, things that I may not have realized I was saying to myself subconsciously, such as:
you going to get along with everyone ALL the time
the kids you minister to will hear the message of the gospel and their lives will change...not immediately... but real soon
your neighbors will always have nothing but good to say about you, they won't do you any harm
you wont be used or taken for granted
people are going to taste and see that the Lord is good and be hooked, they won't turn back to their destructive lifestyles
the kids you minister too will always think your cool and fun to be around
Some of these things may sound real ridiculous to you, but based off of how I was responding to certain situations, it was evident these lies had become my truth. No where at anytime, at any point in this calling did the LORD promise me any of these things. The Lord never said, to any of us, that when we preached the gospel to those who are sick that they would 1. Hear the message or 2. Repent. We preach out of HOPE, we preach because of the goodness and mercy that we have experienced, we preach because the message is just too good to keep to ourselves, we preach leaving the results to the LORD and trusting him to bring growth to the seeds we've planted.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were discussing the gospel and its responses as we reflected on our years in ministry, the passage he brought to my remembrance was Isaiah 6:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding,be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not to sure if I would have been quick to say, "send me, I'll GO". That puts a whole new spin on Lecrae famous song and that passage for that matter. Isaiah was warned by God that almost no one would hear his message, dude didn't care. He still went and with much boldness. I'm having to come to the realization that much of my preaching the gospel was for selfish reasons-my own glory. Why else would I get frustrated or weary when I wasn't seeing the results I wanted to see?
So much of our unhappiness in our circumstances come from us believing that God has promised us something when He hasn't. This life we live , this message we preach has every bit to do with HIM and HIS kingdom. He loves us, no doubt, but Ive realized that the very things that would make me happy have nothing to do with Jesus, but have every bit to do with my own comfort, affirmation, and what I believe would bring me fulfillment. Believing those lies has had me on some serious sinking sand and desperately wanting more.
After this sabbatical, I sense the Lord sending me back into my hood with new and revived expectations. Expectations that are found from the promises that God has clearly laid out in his word.
Promise 1: God brings the increase ultimately to the seeds we plant.. results are HIS!
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. -1 Corinthians 3
Promise 2: As I tread onto enemy territory, God will be with me every step of the way. I don't have to worry about my neighbors or myself.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”- Joshua 1:9
Promise 3: I don't have to be in control, as a matter of fact, I'm NOT in control. God is in control and His plans will always prevail. He knows exactly what He's doing in Washington Park. No matter how things may look or seem, I must remember that He got this.
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.- Isaiah 55
For me, this isn't a Hollywood story, and yet I DO KNOW the REAL ending of this one and it's where the King of Glory has the victory. And one of the dopest things to me, is that God would use this crooked stick to be apart of it. Grace is so amazing.
"If a person has grasped the meaning of God’s grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn’t live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God’s grace, but in his heart he is far from him. If he doesn’t care about the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn’t understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just." -Pastor Tim Keller 'Generous Justice'