Monday, 14 December 2009

RCC Communuity updates

Here are a few things going on in the life of our church and community:

Woodlawn Sports Christmas Party
Tonight at 5:30, we are having a Christmas party and grill-out with the boys that we play ball with every week. If you are a guy who is interested in playing ball with young guys in the community, come join us at the Willow Wood Rec Center @ 5:30!

Christmas Slippers
If anyone is still interested in buying a pair of slippers for a Christmas gift for our friends at the Hospitality House, we have a handful that have not been taken! Email Dwight (dwight@rccbirmingham.org) if you are interested. Slippers can be delivered in one of two ways: bring them by the RCC office sometime this week, or bring them to church next Sunday. Please include the name of who they are for with the slippers.

Two Cornerstone Events
-Tomorrow, at 11:30 there is a Cornerstone Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. If you have helped in any way at the school, you are invited to come to this lunch!
-Also, Wednesday morning at 8:30, Cornerstone students will be performing their annual Christmas program! If your schedule allows, come out and see how the students are celebrating the holiday season. The program will be held at East Birmingham Church, which is on 1st Avenue North and 56th Street North.

Tuesday Fellowship Meals
We are still providing and sharing a meal every Tuesday night with our friends at the YWCA Hospitality House, and want YOU to get involved! This is a great way to offer only a few short hours of your time to help others in need and build relationships with those in our community. We currently need people for next Tuesday, December 22, at 6:00, so if you are interested, email Dwight.

Cornerstone Bible Studies
At the start of the new year, we will begin a girl's Bible study for middle school girls at Cornerstone. If any more women would like to help with this, we can get you involved. Additionally, we really want to have a Bible study for the middle school boys as well, but do not currently have any guy leaders. We need guys to help lead this study and invest in the lives of these young boys! If you are at all interested, let Dwight know!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Entering into Advent

Well, due to travel, support raising, and the holidays, it has been quite a while since I have posted, so please forgive the interlude. Since we are in the season of Advent, I have been spending more concentrated time really contemplating and reflecting on the coming of Jesus. This long-awaited, long foretold coming of the perfect Messiah to an utterly imperfect earth is truly a mind-boggling concept. That the very son of God, in fact God Himself, would leave the perfect peace and love and holiness of his heavenly dwelling and come literally take on human flesh and live in a broken, selfish, warring, unjust world is remarkable. He gave up this fullness to come reach into our emptiness and fill us- not with any thing or allusive feeling, but with Himself. And in his coming, he began to bring light into the darkness, justice to injustice, truth to lies. This process would one day be entirely completed, when he comes again and brings all things into full redemption, making things again as they were intended to be. As I have followed our church's Advent readings, I was struck by how Christ's coming extends beyond what we may initially associate it with. In Psalm 72, the coming Royal Son is prophesied to bring peace, justice, and a loving rule that heals and rights all of the wrongs we now know:

1 Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!

5 May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
7 In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9 May desert tribes bow down before him
and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
11 May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!

12 For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
17 May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!

I encourage all of us to slow down over this busy holiday period and allow the truths of Christ's first advent to this earth to touch our often aged and calloused hearts. May his promise of a final advent with a final redemption not only encourage our hearts, but may it also urge us to joyfully labor to this same end of bringing light to darkness, peace to unrest, justice to injustice, and truth to falsehood.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Let there be a playground...

This was truly one of the most efficient, productive endeavors that I have ever witnessed/participated in. At 8:30am, there was nothing but a gravel parking lot, with several intimidatingly large piles of dirt, wood chips, and sod.




With the help and expert direction of over 100 Home Depot and Kaboom coordinators and volunteers, the nothingness soon began to take shape. There were drinks, food, music, encouragement, and an overall sense of anticipation that seemed to fuel everyone's work ethic and spirit. By the appointed completion time of 2:30, the playground had long been finished, complete with adult and kid-sized picnic tables, large hand-painted chess boards, a mini stage, and plenty of newly painted artwork.




As we all stood back and admired the work of many diligent, willing hands, it was quite impressive to see what had been accomplished and to think of the positive impact this would have on the area. The day was finally concluded with a board-cutting ceremony that highlighted some of our young friends from the YWCA House who would enjoy the new playground. I would encourage you to drive by (1st Ave and 59th St N) to see this new neighborhood resource and find ways to build relationships with the locals through this awesome facility!



Monday, 2 November 2009

Woodlawn is getting a Community Playground!

This Thursday, Nov 5th, there is a very exciting community event going on in Woodlawn! The YWCA is partnering with a nonprofit called KABOOM! to build a brand new community playground. KABOOM is associated with the Home Depot Foundation, and they work to build up communities by joining local businesses, organizations, and individuals to construct new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields, and ice rinks across the US. The Home Depot Foundation has contributed $61,000, and YWCA has added another $7,500 for the creation of a new playground in the community of Woodlawn.

As part of the process, individuals and groups from the community have been highly involved in the planning and designing of the playground, and now, we all have an opportunity to be a part of the actual construction! The goal is to get somewhere between 150-200 people from the community to come help and invest in what will hopefully become an incredible asset to the community. The playground will be built at the site of the new YWCA Interfaith Hospitality House (the address is 5916 1st Ave. N. Birmingham, AL 35212). It will start at 8:30am, and the board cutting ceremony will take place at 2:30pm. If anyone is able to either come by and help for any amount of time, or just observe for a moment, please feel free to come join us!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Focus on Fairfield pics

Several weekends ago, we were able to help with the quarterly Focus on Fairfield community workday. Although the rain prevented us from working on the original outdoor paint project, we were able to help a local resident, Ms. Ruthie, by cleaning and painting several rooms of her house. It was a blessing for us to talk with her and hear her story of the Lord's faithfulness through many difficult times in her life. After the work, we all enjoyed a meal at the local Magic City Grille 2, which was delicious!







Friday, 9 October 2009

Weather update for workday

We have decided that we will proceed with the workday in Fairfield tomorrow morning, regardless of the the possibility of rain. If weather permits, we will continue painting Miss Ada's house as planned, but if not, we will help with several other work projects that are not hindered by the rain, as part of the greater Focus on Fairfield . So, hope to see you all out tomorrow morning at 8 either way!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Fairfield Workday this Saturday!


This Saturday, October 10th
8am-12noon
Community Workday in
Fairfield

The time has come again for RCC assist in the quarterly Focus on Fairfield Community Workday! We will continue the ongoing paint project on Miss Ada Riggs's house, so come ready for any possible mishaps (see picture for reference).


We have been working on her house for several months and would love to finally complete it, so we could really use all of the help we can get! We will provide all of the paint and supplies necessary. We will also provide babysitting at the Brooks House so that you parents and families can make it too, but you must RSVP if you will need babysitting. If for some reason, you despise painting more than anything in creation, or if we somehow get too many people, there are other work projects going on that day that you can help with too. In other words, you have no excuses, so don't miss this great opportunity to serve alongside your friends and community!

Meet at Christ Episcopal Church in Fairfield at 8- You can show up and leave at any point you need to throughout the day. Here is a link with directions. Hope to see a multitude of peoples there on Saturday!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Official Move-In Day


After chapel at Cornerstone this morning, I spent a while helping our friends from the shelter move into the new building! It was such an exciting time for them and they are thrilled about their first day in such a nice facility! Here are some pictures of the move-in and the new building:








Lonnie, proudly in her new room




Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Change is in the air!

Yesterday afternoon, Joel and I had the privilege of attending the official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the brand new family homeless shelter building! Though they only moved about a block away from their old (and I mean old) building of the last 20 years, they may as well be in an entirely new location, for no expense was spared in this $9 million project. The shelter is run by the YWCA and after multiple generous contributions, a full-on fundraiser, and government funding, everyone involved in this process was finally able to see all that they have been working towards!

As I stood among a hundred influential people who had worked so hard and invested so much to make this dream a reality, I wondered about the significance of my role, of our church's role. I wondered if what we were doing really mattered or made any difference. I wondered if there was any clear fruit that we could point to and see how the Lord was using us. Right then, I heard someone yell my name and turned around to see Felicia, one of the residents at the shelter, coming my way. With a big smile on her face, she exclaimed how glad she was to see someone she knew, and then proceeded to simply stand with me, off to the side. Over the next few minutes, several other residents, house managers, and even a former resident from many months ago sought us out and seemed to take comfort in our presence and simple conversation. I realized in that moment that I had all of the evidence I needed of how the Lord has been using Redeemer in the community. While there are certainly many vital roles in caring for our neighbors, the Lord seemed to reiterate and encourage the role that he has currently given us, and how he alone deserves glory for it!

Last night, several RCC folks shared the last Tuesday night meal ever to be had in the old shelter building, and the feeling of excitement for what's to come is undeniable. In fact, next Tuesday is the actual move-in day for the residents, and we have the distinct privilege of sharing their first meal with them in their new home! I am so excited to see how the Lord is going to deepen and expand our involvement and relationships through this new facility.

If you have any extra time on your hands Saturday morning (9-11) or especially Sunday afternoon (1pm- until) and would like to help move stuff to the new shelter, email Dwight (dwight@rccbirmingham.org).

Friday, 18 September 2009

Missions

This past week was our quarterly missions team meeting. We had special guests, via the internet. Harold Andrews and his family shared with us about their time on the mission field here in the U.S. The amazing part is that they reach muslims throughout the middle east through a simple radio program. I was encouraged to focus my heart on missions here at home, with less dependance on those overseas, counting myself worthy to share the gospel. Every opportunity throughout the day to share the gospel is often dismissed because I loose sight of "missions", the Great Commission.."go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to all creation." {Mark 16:15} Be encouraged as I was, hearing the testimony and continued good work for the kingdom by our missionaries. Pray for them and lets help one another turn our hearts to Christ and His mission field in our lives. (you can find a complete list of our missionaries here.) Amanda Blake

Friday, 4 September 2009

Saturday morning bball/football

Every Saturday morning in Fairfield, a couple of Restoration Academy guys on faculty organize some pick-up basketball (in the spring/summer) or flag football (fall/winter) for youth from the area. We have been playing basketball at Restoration Academy's gym for the last several months and consistently have anywhere from 12-30 guys from the neighborhood and school make an appearance to showcase their talents and to get in some good games.

This Saturday, we are beginning the initial switch over to flag football, which will be played in the park in the center of Fairfield, right next to the school. We start around 9am and it last for around 2 hours, but you are free to come and go whenever your schedule requires, so if you enjoy playing and hanging out with some kids in need of good role models, then please show up! You don't have to be great at the sport, just willing to get schooled. If you want more info or are interested in coming, call Ben Sciacca (the principal who heads it up)-205-215-5212 or me (336-831-4489). Spread the word to anyone who may be interested and hope you take up the challenge to invest in these kids' lives (and to avoid getting taken to the house)!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Very belated Woodlawn Summer Festival Pics


I know you all have been waiting anxiously on the edge of your seats for this very moment, so wait no longer-it is here! Although the Woodlawn Summer Festival took place over a month ago, I have just gotten my hands on some of the pictures. The morning started with a workday at Cornerstone Christian School, which consisted primarily of painting two bathrooms and a hall, building a dividing wall between two classrooms, and preparing Elaine Davis's classroom.




Then, we moved out to the front of Woodlawn High School, where non-stop balloon animals and face-painting ensued. There were all kinds of games, activities, and food for the opening of the Dream Center across the street.






All in all it was a great day, so thank you so much to all who were able to come help! If you want to see more pictures from this day, click here.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Come play ball in Woodlawn!

For some time, we have been trying to find the best way to get involved in Woodlawn through the means of sports, and the Lord has recently provided an open door for us! Through some mutual friends, I was recently introduced to a man named Dave Anderson, who has been involved in Woodlawn, East Lake, Gate City, and even Fairfield for some time. More specifically, he has been building relationships with the youth of Woodlawn for nearly the last ten years, through the shared love of sports. The great part is that he has invited us to come alongside him and help with this weekly ministry.

Every Monday night, Dave and a few leaders from his church and the community put on a flag football/basketball night for the kids from the local communities. This takes place from 5:30-7:30 at the Willow Wood Community Center, and involves about an hour of organized play, a Gospel-oriented devotion, drinks and/or snacks, and then more pick-up play. I have been able to help for the past several weeks and think that this is a great opportunity for RCC to help out with and develop relationships with local youth. As we become more involved and consistent in their lives, I believe that the Lord will not only prepare their hearts for the Gospel message, but also the opportunity for deeper discipleship.

If you enjoy sports and/or would like to help with this new opportunity, email dwight@rccbirmingham.org or just come out on Monday. I hope that this will only be the beginning of our sports ministries in Woodlawn, as it is such a relevant activity and easy relationship builder, so if you cannot help on Monday nights, feel free to email me anyways and let me know that you would be interested in further sports ministries.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Interested in getting involved at Cornerstone?

Much to the dismay of every child and the overwhelming relief of every parent, the end of summer is nigh, and the school year has just started back. Regardless of the cries of disbelief or the shouts of joy, this means that our friends at Cornerstone are back in action and as always, there is no shortage of need or the opportunity to help! Here are a few new ways that RCC is already planning to come alongside Cornerstone this year:

-The RCC staff will be doing the speaking at the weekly chapels
-We are helping to provide basic school supplies for each classroom
-We will host regular "workdays" to help with bigger projects
-We have provided possibly our greatest asset in our own Professora Elaine Davis, who is spearheading a new Spanish program

While these means of helping are already being set into action, there are several new ways that you can help this school year:
-Tutor a child- subjects and times are varying/flexible
-Help start a middle school Bible study/discipleship time- we are looking for 2-3 guys and 2- 3 girls to help once a week for students who want to learn and/or grow spiritually

If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities or would like to get involved, comment on here or email dwight@rccbirmingham.org because we need volunteers and this is a wonderful way to invest in the lives of children who desperately need to be loved, shown a good role model, and taught about the Gospel!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Breaking Bread

This past Tuesday night, the Brooks, Sarah Dunn, Dwight and I shared dinner at the family shelter in Woodlawn with around 16 of its residents. Amidst the passing of homemade jambalaya, cornbread muffins, salad and Milo's sweet tea was the steady stream of conversation and laughter. 

Ms. Todd, the house manager who lives and works at the shelter, was sitting to my right. In between incoming calls from people inquiring about the shelter, she shared her life story with me and explained how she came to Woodlawn. I thought about all the faces she has seen come ago and all the stories she has heard, and I hoped that our weekly dinners at the shelter were a great encouragement to her. 

At the next table, Joel spoke with a family of five who had just arrived that day, and I wondered what change in life circumstances had brought them to the shelter's front door.

Sitting in a room full of people who most would consider the down and out, what struck me and humbled me the most is the irony of how alike we all are. Despite the fact these people would put their heads down in a homeless shelter while the rest of us would leave and drive to our respective homes, we are all broken, hurting people in desperate need of a Savior.

In his blessing, Dwight declared Christ as the one who gives all of us purpose on this earth. I've mulled that truth over and over again in my mind this week. Yes, it is Christ who is the great equalizer. He and He alone gives us purpose. Whether we are homeless or pay a mortgage each month, jobless or fully employed, Christ remains as the sole purpose for our existence. And, again I was reminded that it is because of Christ that we serve.

~Laura K. Womble

Monday, 13 July 2009

Woodlawn Summer Festival


Join us on

Saturday, July 18th

for a


Woodlawn

Summer Festival

located on 1st Ave N and 57th St N


9am-12am: RCC work projects at

Cornerstone Christian School

135 54th Street North Birmingham, AL 35212


12-4:00pm: Festival activities including:

free lunch, art walk, games, prizes, music,

professional advice and DIY help,

yard/clothes sale, and more!


-RCC needs volunteers to help with balloon

animals and face painting in the

front yard of Woodlawn High School!

Email (dwight@rccbirmingham.org) if you want to help

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Fear and Mercy

I have recently been working my way through a book by Tim Keller called Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road. Actually, I started the book quite a while ago and after a bit of a lapse, have just picked it back up and am really digging into it. The book is based on the "Good Samaritan" passage in Luke 10:25-37 and is a fantastic discussion of what the Bible says about a believer's role in helping the needy, poor, and "least of these". Keller addresses all of the very tough questions and circumstances that are common to "ministries of mercy", including how we balance our responsibility to help those in need with their level of responsibility for their own circumstances. Having read many books on this issue, I feel that this one (at least through the 1st half that I have read) really looks at the heart of the issue, allowing the wisdom of Scripture to shed light on what is often a very difficult mandate for believers to both understand and to obey.

As I was reading in Chapter 8 today, I was reminded of the one of the greatest hindrances to reaching out to those in need: fear. While some of us can immediately identify the presence of fear in our hearts, others are far less aware that this is what cripples us from action. I truly believe that behind all of our excuses and busy schedules and reservations and dormant intentions lies fear. We all have asked the questions: How do I know that what I am doing will actually make any difference? Will this guy go spend this money on alcohol or drugs? Is it even safe for me to go in that area? How am I supposed to give to others when I barely have enough money for myself? What do I really have to offer these people?

Even when we are aware of our responsibility and do see the great needs around us and do desire to help, we often ourselves doing nothing, because we are paralyzed with fear. Why is this? Keller points out that two of the biggest hindrances to action are that we don't know how to make contact (we are afraid of breaking the ice) and we don't think we have the resources to help (we are afraid of failure). As I reflected on these two statements, I realized the truth in them, and how these very fears so often keep me from fruitful, joyful obedience. And yet how silly these fears look in light of how much greater our God is! Even when we feel totally inadequate to respond, it is in our weakness that His Great Power is made perfect! Next time you see someone in need and you feel the Spirit prompt your heart to respond, take a moment and ask the Lord to reveal your own heart to you. See what the real fear is behind your hesitation, and ask the Lord to help you overcome this fear. He is faithful to supply all of our needs, to enable us to do what he calls us to, and to do more than we can even ask or imagine!

Monday, 29 June 2009

A relevant, thought-provoking movie for only $1

Last week, I went to the dollar theater, Carmike 10 (off of Lorna Road), and saw the movie, The Soloist. Now, this movie was actually in major theaters a while ago, so you may recall seeing trailers or hearing about it from that time. However, if you are anything like me, you can manage the delay of a few months for the $9 savings.

I was very impressed with this movie and the awkward, yet touching topic that it breaches. The basic synopsis is that Robert Downey Jr. is a Los Angeles journalist searching for another story to fill his weekly column. By following a random lead, he befriends a local homeless man (Jamie Foxx) who is an uniquely talented musician. While Downey's character has initial "success" in helping this needy man, he soon finds that it is much more complicated than than he had anticipated, bringing him to the brink of frustration, hopelessness, and apathy.

I was pleased that this movie took such an overlooked, but relevant topic head-on. I mean, every one of us has seen a homeless person on the side of the road or outside our window at a stoplight, and questioned what we should do. This movie tells a story in which these questions and potential problems are directly addressed, and I think just facing these thought-provoking issues is very productive. While it may not leave you with the emotionally satisfying, but false impression that you can go out and solve homelessness, I think that The Soloist presents an accurate and helpful depiction of a harsh reality and forces us, as Christians, to take seriously our role in reaching out to the least of these.

The Soloist is still at the dollar theater this week, and I would really encourage you to go check it out! Here is the IMDB page on it and here is a trailer.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Paint, rats, heat, and magic (city grill)

Thank you to all who were able to venture out to Fairfield through the blazing heat this past Saturday! We had another great day of helping a local resident, Miss Ada (see below), to do some much needed painting on her house (see below below).






We were able to finish priming her house, despite several factors that were pitted against our success, which I believe are best conveyed through picture:


(falling paint buckets)

(dead rats that almost made it out of the house)


(yes, that is the sun...97 degrees and 105 degree heat index. let's not talk about the humidity)


Anyways, it was a great day of serving in the community and spending some time lending a hand to our friends. After we were done working, we enjoyed some great home cookin, compliments of Fairfield's own Magic City Grill 2. We hope to finish painting Miss Ada's house with another day or two of work in the future, so don't fret if you couldn't make it to this one.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Workday Rescheduled-this Saturday!


As most of you know, due to the terrible weather this past Saturday, we had to postpone the workday. However, this coming Saturday, we are going to try again! I realize that while this change may keep some of you from coming due to prior arrangements, hopefully it will allow even more to come who could not have this past weekend. And hopefully we will get some great weather to finish painting Miss Ada's house. So here is all of the important info, I hope to see all of you on Saturday! Call or email me with any questions...

When: Saturday, June 20th, from 8am-12 noon
Where: 4517 Debardeleben Ave. Fairfield, AL 35064 (next to Christ Episcopal Church and Fairfield Park)- mapquest it
What to Bring: Nothing! We will provide all supplies and paint, so just bring a friend
What about lunch after?: Good question- After the work is done, we will head right next door to the local food joint- Magic City Grille 2 for some good home cookin!

This is how much fun we had last time:



Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Art and Food

Ladies- I know that many of you have been seeking more ways to be active and involved in our community and these are two amazing ways for the women of our church (and women from outside our church, as well) to use a few specific talents and skills to build and grow relationships. Amanda Blake and I have been coordinating and planning these for a while, so she will be helping to organize and lead both:

Summer Art Classes at Restoration Academy in Fairfield
-will take place for the next three Wednesdays, June 10, 17, 24, from 10am-12noon
-each art lesson will revolve around a theme and consist of a Bible verse, prayer, and an art project
-the lessons for the three weeks are:
(1) painting portrait : paint brushes, paint, old shirts, 2 buckets, water cans, palettes or cartons (Made in the Image God)*
(2) drawing flowers : large paper, pencils,colored pencils, plastic flowers (God's Creation)*

(3) sculpture crosses : sticks, hemp rope, paint, paint brushes (God's Gift to Us)*

-we hope to display the artwork in school's or central locations in that community

-we need 2-3 volunteers for each Wednesday- you are welcome whether or not you are artistic!



Cooking "lessons" at the Family Homeless Shelter

-for several months now, the mothers and women at the shelter have been very interested in spending an evening learning to cook more meals, while spending quality time with RCC women, so one Friday a month (usually the 3rd or 4th Friday of the month), we will cook with these women

-We also sense an opportunity to teach some of the older youth to cook, so one Friday a month (two weeks offset from the women's cooking night, usually the 1st or 2nd Friday of the month), we will also spend quality time with the youth through cooking

-We need 2-4 volunteers for the each youth night and 2-4 for each women's night, so if you are specifically interested in one of these groups, or are comfortable with either, we would love to have you help!


-This Friday, June 12, from 5-6:15pm is the first youth cooking night

-Friday, June 26 from 5-6:15pm is the first women's cooking night


While art and cooking are great activities, we see both of these as opportunities to build relationships and would love for you to help as your schedule allows!


For more info or to let us know you want to help, contact Amanda Blake at ablake.amandablake@gmail.com or 266-6772.

Monday, 8 June 2009

"What then shall we do?"

This morning I was reflecting upon the passage from last night's sermon (Luke 3)- it was a very interesting passage about how John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus to come.  He preaches repentance, but when people came to hear him and to be baptized, he did not simply accept their lip service and their outward form of half-obedience.   Rather, he saw that they were only partially committed to what he spoke of: They liked the talk about a coming King, a Messiah.  They like the idea of being forgiven of their sins.  They even put up with John's abrasive manner and harsh moral guidelines in order to find this foretold "salvation of God" (vs. 6).  However, were they really willing to pay the price of giving up all for this new lifestyle?  Were they ready to give up themselves and their tradition and their culture and their expectations to receive true salvation from these entangling things?  

In 3:8-11, John exhorts the people to go deeper,  saying 
"Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.  And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able  from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.  Even now the axe is laid  to the root of the trees.  Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  An the crowds asked him, 'What then shall we do?'  And he answered them, 'Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.' "

As I read these words,  I am convicted of how similar I am to those in John the Baptist's audience.  I realize that I, too, so often want to be saved, want to be forgiven, and want to be a part of what Jesus is doing, but I don't want to have to give anything.  I don't want to change my way of living, or sacrifice my time or schedule or comforts.  And yet this is what we are called to do, if we consider ourselves to have any part with Jesus and what he did.  

Lord, help us to bear fruits in keeping with repentance and to continue to ask of you, "What then shall we do?"

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Local Church Fire

In case any of you have not heard, this past Sunday, there was a disastrous fire that burnt down a local church.  The church building, home to Woodlawn United Methodist Church, was 97 years old, though the church itself began over 120 years ago.  At one point in the 1950s, it was one of the largest Birmingham churches, with over 2500 members, though in the recent years it has dwindled to far smaller numbers.  For a full story on the fire, read this or to see an actual video of the fire, click here.  Here are some pictures of the fire taken by James and Steph Kling, RCC folks who live close to the church.





Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Learning to Serve

This morning I am reminded of how faithful the Lord has been to our church in so many ways.  As He continues to grow and mold us into the corporate body of believers that He desires us to be, He is all the while working in each person's heart.  I have been so encouraged to see how he has expanded and matured our relationships in the community and how he chooses to use us to accomplish his purposes.  Yet recently, I have been just as encouraged to see how Lord is transforming our own hearts by simply being willing and obedient in this service.  This is evidenced to me as I talk with RCC folks who are serving, as I read on our blog of their experiences, and as I see people begin to catch the vision of taking the Gospel to and living the Gospel among the needy.  I pray that the Lord will continue to lead us as individuals and as a body to selflessly give of ourselves and all of our resources for His name's sake.  And I pray that as we learn to submit, we will not miss the blessings and sweet lessons that His Spirit is teaching us.

Matthew 16:24-26
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

He will finish the work he began...

I’m short on words to describe how I feel and what I’m thinking after sharing dinner with the families at the homeless shelter Tuesday night, so this will be brief. I kind of feel like I should have some really intense and profound feelings about it, and I confess – on the way home, I drove in silence – praying and waiting for the Lord to whisper to me what he wants me to understand from this night – digging for some deep, illuminating revelation.

I’m pretty sure the only thing I heard was an invitation to keep coming back to find out, for the treasure lies in the heart of real, deep, lasting relationship. That excites me, partly because I am so intrigued by the people I met – but also because it became evident to me in just a couple of hours that they understand something about the experience of living, and perhaps something about our God, that I cannot.

I can only say that after meeting these precious people, particularly beautiful, radiant, eleven-year-old Keaira, I am humbled by my lack of understanding of what real hope, courage, and love look like. I am thankful for the truths in this verse from John Newton's hymn, "No Sweeter Subject" and for what it means for these families, myself, and our church...

Grace reigns to pardon crimson sins,
To melt the hardest hearts;
And from the work it once begins
It never once departs.

I am thankful for the opportunity to meet them and engage in fellowship and community with them, and I am filled with a hunger to know more – more about them, more of what they know, more of Jesus, and more of the joy that is here as we get to enter into his work together.

claire hardin

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Fear. Thankfulness. Hope.

Fear. Thankfulness. Hope. Those are the three words I would use to describe my emotions over the past two days since I served dinner at the Family Shelter on Tuesday night.

The first…Fear. Could my family end up there someday? How did they get there? What choices led to this? Could my choices ever land me there? How are that mom and dad with four kids going to get out of there and make it back to paying all their bills? Will her husband be healthy and able to get work? And on and on. Fear for myself but also for the mom of four whose story poured out in the one hour we spent together. We are both just moms trying to meet our baby’s needs and I hurt for her. There is no bigger fear for a mom than not being able to meet you children’s physical needs while keeping them safe.

The second… Thankfulness. I am thankful for my bedroom that seems so big after seeing a four bedroom house with five families living in it and sharing one bathroom. I am thankful that my kids have never missed a meal. I am thankful that I don’t have to feel guilty for what I have yet now have perspective on what I really need to live. I am thankful that I have the best neighbors and church friends that have become family and who wouldn’t let us fall off the edge. I am thankful for a pastor who can remind us of God’s heart for the poor and oppressed and encourage us to be gripped by that. I am thankful that I can serve Jesus just by offering a meal to those who need it. I am thankful that I serve a God who really can meet all my needs as well as the needs of those living at the shelter.

And the last… Hope. I am hopeful that I can do practical things to encourage the mom of four who lives at the shelter now. I am hopeful that as a church we can aid in breaking the yoke of injustice and poverty. And I have the ultimate Hope of knowing that Jesus died to give a heavenly home to people like me and for those who have no place on earth to call home.

-Ashley Johnson

For Joel's podcast on God's Heart for the Poor and Oppressed click HERE

Monday, 4 May 2009

Spring Festival Pics

Check out some of these great pictures from the Woodlawn Spring Fesatival this weekend.  Despite some inopportune rain, the day was a great success and a cool chance for the community to come together.  For more amazing pictures of the fun day, taken by Lori Dill from Church of the Highlands, go here.







Thursday, 30 April 2009

Woodlawn Spring Festival

Come to a fun-filled community event for the whole family!

WHAT:Woodlawn Spring Festival

WHEN:This Saturday, May 2, 10am-2pm

WHERE:Woodlawn High School
5620 1st Ave N
 Birmingham, AL 

There will be games, food, prizes, music, sports, free health screenings, local artwork, and much much more!  

RCC will have a booth with info for our church, as well as our bouncy castle, face-painting, and balloon animals for the kids. We would love for you to swing by and visit or help us throughout the day! Tell your friends and hope to see you there!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Focus on Fairfield Pictures!

This past Saturday we were able to take part in a large community workday in Fairfield. Many churches, organizations, and individuals came together and united to accomplish quite an amount of work! There were 6 overall work projects with a variety of focuses, including scraping and painting residents' homes, doing yard maintenance for elderly women, planting trees and plants for a church and restored homes, cleaning the local Christian school, and much more! The RCC people worked predominately on the gigantic task of scraping and painting a large house owned by a lovely woman named Miss Ada Riggs. It was an awesome day, and though it will require another workday to finish, we were pleased with the amazing progress!

Here are a few pictures:









Monday, 20 April 2009

Cornerstone Workday Pics

Our workday on Saturday was awesome! We were able to get all of the projects done that we needed to and in the perfect amount of time. About 15 Redeemer people were able to come help and they were ballers! Although the day started off with a few kinks and problems, the Lord worked it all out and we had a great day! Here are some of the pictures:

These were some of the rooms/areas inside to which we did drastic cleaning and organizing:






Outside, we weeded and cleaned their two playgrounds and then re-mulched them:









We also pressure washed their sidewalk:



And we moved about 75 desks and chairs up a flight of stairs: