Thursday, 26 March 2009

Opening Doors

To any faithful blog readers who may or may not exist out there, don't worry- I am not dead and I have not given up entirely on sharing what is going on. I have been out of town for a week, and then upon my return, immediately got the flu and have been bed-ridden for three days. Never fear, we are back in action. And the good news is, great things have been going on the whole time in our church body and in our local community!

We have continued our Tuesday night meals with the families at the homeless shelter, and it has been going so well! They continue to express how much it means to them to eat a home-cooked meal and to just sit and share with people who care to get to know them. Each week, they seem to become more accustomed to our presence as a group, as well as the recurring faces they are beginning to know and trust. One of the exciting parts of this weekly ministry is that the Lord is already beginning to provide more opportunities to get involved in these families' lives on a more intimate and consistent level. Angie, the lady who heads up the shelter, explained that many of the women in the home don't know how to cook and would love the opportunity to learn. As soon as I mentioned this idea, several women from Redeemer expressed interest in teaching the mothers and women to cook. We are also assembling a recipe book of all the meals we prepare each Tuesday, as well as other manageable meals. Recently, Angie expressed to me that the men in the shelter also desire some form of community and would be interested in meeting with men from Redeemer! How exciting! We are brainstorming ways for this to take form now. Also, one of the daughters in the shelter is getting ready to leave for college, which is an unbelievable first for her family and for the shelter! We are planning on helping her with school supplies, as well as throwing a Going Away Party! These are only some of the ideas that have been sprouting up from Tuesday night meals, and I am confident that many more will continue to come. It is so exciting to see how the Lord opens up the door for ministry and asks that we are faithful in obedience. It doesn't require outrageous feats of sacrifice, vast amounts of funds, or visions to solve major world issues. It requires simple obedience to reach out to those around us in everyday, personal ways and the faith to believe that the Lord will work through our feeble efforts. And YES, he is able to accomplish more than we could ever ask or imagine. Yes, he will continue to open up more and more opportunities to serve and to obey and to trust. Let's continue to take him at His Word, to offer ourselves as he leads, and to trust him to do what we know we cannot.

Consequently, we are in great need of more people to sign up to serve meals for this upcoming month, starting immediately! If you have not yet had the opportunity to serve on a Tuesday night, please try to make this a priority-not only will you be a blessing, but you will certainly come away blessed. If you have already had the privilege of serving, we would love for you to serve again! If you enjoyed it the first time, sign up again! Email me ( or call me (336.831.4489)! Live purposefully today and seek the simple, small opportunities around you to serve and love!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Like sheep without a shepherd

Here are two challenging passages to meditate on today. Pray that the Lord reveals new meaning in these passages and teaches us how this should affect our lives:

"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.' " Matthew 9:35-38

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean, because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:1-5

If anyone is interested in preparing and serving a meal some Tuesday night at the family homeless shelter, please let me know. Right now, we have it covered for two more weeks, through the month of March. However, from the start of April and on, there is no one signed up! So, if you have done it once and want to do it again, or if this is your first time, get involved!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, " Hebrews 12:2

Tuesday night felt somewhat like a short-term missions trip, except there wasn't a departure to somewhere thousands of miles away, it was just down the street from my house. Along with three others from church, I helped bring a home cooked meal to the Homeless Shelter. Immediately upon arrival kids were running to our arms and wanting to play. The families, five total, were more than welcoming, and easy to talk with during dinner. It occurred to me that being homeless is not always a lonely person sleeping under a bridge in a box, or a guy holding a sign on the side of the highway, like I so often imagine when I think "homeless". Rather, families that resemble those you stand in line with at the grocery store, or see playing at the park. My perspective on the poor continues to be challenged as I learn about what the Bible says and Jesus teaches. The moment I remember it's not me who can change their situation, is the moment prayer and hope for their future enters my heart, thus a series of dialogues with God begin, as if I had to remind Him of His power and strength. He reminds me He is able to do "more than we can ask or think according to the power at work within us," [Ephesians 3:20]. How amazing it is to be part of Christ's body and a testimony to the grace He showed us who "were once dead in our trespasses." The gospel came alive to me Tuesday night, more than words on a page, or a prayer, but a group of Christ followers extending mercy and kindness to strangers. Now my heart whispers salvation awaits, after listening to the young lady share her doubts and issues with Jesus. Understanding that each day for these families is the hope of redemption, I'm convicted in my own heart of searching for "deservers" of grace, wow. I would encourage everyone to pray specifically and fervently towards reaching these families with the love of Christ. Our goal isn't to be a group of "do-gooders", but to genuinely care and have compassion through Christ to each of these families. To conclude, two verses come to mind, one in which Jesus teaches from Matthew 25: 35 "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me," and the other that seems to be a lot like the greatest command from Jesus "love your neighbor as yourself", from [Hebrews 13:2] "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware." The best part about this is that they have "received us"[Matthew 10:40]in their home, the needs are endless, and friendships are on the horizon. It's not another outreach, it's the living out of what scripture has called us to do; become benefactors of God's kingdom, set the captives free,repair the broken places, and namely to "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts,kindness,humility,meekness,and patience.." [Colossians 3:12] I'm so humbled and thankful, Amanda-Blake Coile

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

R.A. Luncheon Tomorrow!

Hey, just a quick reminder to everyone that tomorrow afternoon is the monthly Restoration Academy luncheon! PLEASE try to come if you can- it starts at 12 and only lasts an hour, so it can be a long lunch break. They provide a complimentary meal and explain the heart and vision of the school and where the Lord is leading it recently. Several students usually share a testimony of how the school has impacted their lives and you also get to meet many other people who are investing in the Fairfield community and school. If you have never had a chance to attend one of these luncheons, I highly recommend it and am more than willing to either carpool with people, give you a ride, give directions or more info, etc... If you cannot make this one, keep in mind that they have one the first Thursday of each month. Hope to see you there!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Redeemer at the Family Homeless Shelter in Woodlawn

Last Tuesday night we were so thankful to be able serve alongside the Kling's and Dwight for our first week of making dinner at the family homeless shelter in Woodlawn. It was a wonderful evening, and we are looking forward to continuing to serve there and really get to know the families. We just wanted to share with you some practical things we learned, as the "guinea pigs," as well as what the Lord has been doing in our hearts.

Tuesday night was awesome :) The kids are fabulous. So much fun. We found that we were so busy cooking that we didn't get to talk to the adults as much as we would have liked, so one practical tip would be to prepare the food ahead of time so you can just heat it up there. Also, we love the idea of getting to offer them a nutritious home-cooked meal, because that's not really something they get very often. So the more good 'ol comfort food the better! Steph brought brownies and ice cream sundaes and that it was SO fun and special for the kids. Be sure also to bring drinks, maybe juice or milk because I think they get a lot of crazy colored cool aid.

On to the heart stuff. It was really cool to experience such conviction after Joel's sermon on Sunday, and then be able to take little baby steps of faith into putting that into action on Tuesday. The biggest thing that hit me about Joel's sermon was when he talked about how when one person serves in extraordinary ways, we have a tendency to point to that person, label them as "extraordinary," and I know in my case, often think "wow, that's amazing that they serve like that, but I don't think I really have it in me." We write it off as personality thing. Not only do we use it as an excuse as to why we don't or "can't" serve like that, we also miss giving the glory to God. BUT when an entire community, a body of believers, begins to give their lives to serve others, people are pointed to see God as the one who transforms hearts and compels us to serve and love. And believers are encouraged to take part in what God is doing.

Our prayer is that the Lord would so transform Redeemer Community Church, and make us a people whose lives are given to loving and serving Christ, and as a inseparable part of that, to loving and serving the poor. That we would not just dabble in service projects, but really form deep relationships with the poor and let their lives become intertwined with our own. A level of involvement that is potentially messy, inconvenient, and dangerous, but that has deep roots in the gospel and in the love of Christ who gave his life, not just in his death, but in the way he shared his life on earth with sinners, prostitutes, widows, orphans, and beggars--and calls us to do the same.

In serving the people at the home on Tuesday, our hearts were to simply to begin the process of forming relationships. It was peaceful and fun. We played with awesome, beautiful, hilarious kids. Chatted with adults. Listened to stories. Knowing that the aim was to be obedient to serve and form relationships in which to love these people over time, we were really freed up from the pressure to "hit 'em with the gospel." Our hope is that we will be able to built trust over time as they see us coming back, and that the gospel would be communicated meaningfully and naturally in that context.

Talking about all of this in our community group, we discussed that since not everyone can go every Tuesday night, we could potentially drop by and bring cookies or something whenever we can on other nights. After all, they are our neighbors! Dwight just called the director of the home to check that out and she was thrilled! We are welcome any time to come by and hang out, bring dessert or not, and follow up with relationships that we're forming. She also let Dwight know that the people at the home have been raving about last Tuesday and ask about three times a day if we're coming back. There are already clear ideas emerging for how to further relationships with the people we met on Tuesday. Pray for us that we would be obedient as God calls us to continue walking in faith to serve. Above all, that we would look to Christ! We're praying for you all who are going tomorrow night, and in the next few weeks!

Elaine and Keith Davis

Need of a Physician

Luke 4:16-21
"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.' "

Luke 5:27-32
"After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, 'Follow me.' And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?' And Jesus answered them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.' "