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.