Many of us are staying at home. We are limited in our movement and venture out to purchase supplies and are taking every precaution. If you are wired like I am you will notice even taking all advice to distance and clean it seems impossible. We clean everything, change gloves, wear masks and have a plan in place to clean every item we bring into our home. I mentioned this to Pattie and stated, “We need God to help us. We need His protection. He is our only hope.” So we’ve been seeking to stay safe the best we can and lean into His promises for He is faithful and true.
A song we have been singing. You are Faithful and true.
Our eyes are upon you.
You are Faithful and true.
Your promises are true.
Coming up to Passover several of my friends are encouraging us to lean in. Kick up our prayer life. Change our thinking and our lifestyle. Let go of small things that really in the light of what’s going on mean little.
Paul the Apostle once stated, “Having food and clothing we are content.” In view of all that is happening among the poor and countries who have little food, hygiene, or clean water, we have little to be ungrateful for. We live so much higher than most of the people in our world.
Gratitude is an antidote.
I’ve worked in communities where people are grateful for just having an opportunity to live another day.
One lady I know just finished battling cancer. During her battle she often stated on her Facebook page, “Jesus I thank you for another day.” No complaining just gratitude. It’s interesting she continues to say the same every day. She understands and practices thankfulness. It’s who she is and what flows out of her life.
Taking our advantage of facing every day with gratitude helps us to refocus and to embrace what really matters: our relationship with God, family, and friends.
This season of pause is here for a reason.
I’d encourage you to take advantage of your advantage. Take time to pray, read, worship, ponder and be grateful.
If you have embraced the good news, I’d also encourage you to be a messenger of hope. Pray for those you meet. Offer a listening ear. Figure out how to serve and connect safely with others. Your neighbors, friends and your family need to hear from you. Make that call. Offer assistance to the poor. Give to your church and missionaries.
How’s it works. We serve teachers (by taking a special display of kindness) and have hundreds of Valentine Packs available for the people of our church.
Every year we focus on teachers. So we make their day on Valentine’s Day by delivering special Dark Chocolate, and Hershey Kisses to the school staff rooms early on Valentine’s Day.
One year we purchased special cup-cakes. Teachers need appreciation and the outreach helps us build bridges with the schools and also meets a need in a practical way.
Here’s how we set up Kindness-to-go and the outreach the Sunday before Valentine’s Day.
We pack hundreds of packs. A special connect card goes into each pack along with three Hershey Kisses and a red foil chocolate heart. We also have instruction sheets to help guide the outreach.
The tables are located at all exits, red or black table cloths and fun balloons create a fun vibe. The two weekends just before Valentine’s day. Our teens and children’s areas pack thousands of Hershey Kisses into small zip lock bags with our special ‘You’ve just been kissed!’ or “Hugs! Everyone needs one!” connect card. People grab several of the bags as they leave the weekend services and go about kissing and hugging the people of our community during the week.
If the kids, or teens help pack the kisses it spreads the DNA of kindness to all ages.
A couple of years ago I went to the gym on one of my usual gym days. (My wife tells me it’s a good thing.) When I arrived I asked the receptionist, ‘Have you been kissed today?’ She smiled and said, ‘Nope, not today.’ I then gave her a pack said, ‘Well you’ve just been kissed.’ She laughed and exclaimed, ‘You’re from (she named the church) right?’ I replied, ‘Yep. We are kissing people all over the city this week.’
On the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, we head out to a couple of strip malls near the church. We take the packs of kisses and several buckets of carnations. We pop into the businesses and head to the customer service desk and ask, ‘How many ladies are working today?’
We then count out the flowers and Hershey packs…and say, ‘We are from (the name of the church) and you’ve just been kissed” or “Everyone needs a hug!”
Usually, some of the other assistants are around and join in the exchange. Often, a male worker will ask for a carnation for his girlfriend or wife. Some guys say, ‘Thanks for the reminder.’
Most people are open, curious, laugh and catch the vibe. One group went to a high-end Spa/Hair place, all of the working ladies gathered to receive their flower. ‘Who are you guys? Others exclaim, ‘This is so cool.’ Or sigh, ‘This will be my only present today. Flowers and kisses were also handed out to the ladies who were becoming beautiful-er.
One of the team noticed one of the ladies getting her hair cut didn’t receive a flower. So, being the sensitive, thinking person she is, made an extra special effort to find another team grab a flower and run back to the shop…when she gave the lady the flower, the surprised and delighted lady exclaimed, ‘You’ve just made my day! Thank you.’Really?
Made her day? It makes me wonder what one of her days looks like? It makes me wonder if she was ever loved, or had a caring boyfriend, or had a husband, or is now connected to an uncaring guy?
What’s in a gift of a small flower and a pack of kisses?
I think serving others in a fun, creative way sends an upbeat message to the people in our stressed-out world. Serving others often is a small action that sends a signal that says, ‘Hey, someone cares for you.’ The action performed with genuine love somehow touches the heart.
My friend Scott, says, ‘Agape love revealed… means my love is demonstrated as I serve others through the choices I make, and by the actions I take.’
Process for Valentine’s Outreach:
4 weeks out: have connect cards printed
4 weeks out: order Hershey Kisses (SNACC foods Cincinnati)
4 weeks out: order 4”X4” zip bags.
4 weeks out: order boxes of Carnations for pick up
2 weeks out: have kids, teens or a team pack the bags
Weekend of outreach: have packs placed at all exits
Valentine Outreach Saturday before Valentine’s Day
3 days out: pick up flowers, cut stems and place in buckets of water so they will be open on the day
3 days out: design maps with instructions and contact phone numbers
3 days out: make name tags 3 days out: gather Kiss packs and place in larger bags or containers for transport.
Saturday the Outreach Day before Valentine’s Day… Gather at 10am Give Instructions then divide up into teams Load up and head out. Also, be open to God’s leading and offer pray with people.go to shops, go to check out or customer service, ask, “How many ladies are working today, count out Kisses packs and flowers give to workers, Say, We’re from the (name of Church) and you’ve just been kissed.” Or, Everyone needs a Hug! We are hugging you today!”
After the project go to a coffee shop for download and great java.
We had a year of great challenge, heartbreaking loss, positive encouragement, strategic relational connections, and amazing blessing. We are looking forward to 2020.
Each year I look at my life in the light of what I know I have practiced. When I first started a few years ago I was surprised I had developed several positive life-practices.
I John 3:18-19 TPT
Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds. We know that the truth lives within us because we demonstrate love in action, which will reassure our hearts in his presence.
The demonstration of our our love in action gives us the evidence we are Christ-followers. Faith + Demonstration = a life captivated by the Father’s love.
Most probably your practices flow from who you are and from what you value. If you are like me, and don’t like the fruit of some of your practices you can change your focus. I choose to focus on and practice the positive.
Tip: Write down your own practices. What consistently flows from your life? What bears good fruit? What doesn’t? Tip: Focus…Push into the good! Let go of the not so good.
Believe for a good harvest. Mindset shifts are important. Sow believing.
Galatians 6:5-10 TPT
Every believer is ultimately responsible for his or her own conscience.
For what you plant will be the very thing you harvest.
The harvest you reap reveals the seed that was planted.
If you plant the good seeds of Spirit-life you will reap the beautiful fruits that grow from the everlasting life of the Spirit.
And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming!
Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others.
Slowing Down. Hebrews 4…I know I have a tendency to move too fast.
I slow down by consciously walking slower and by taking the time to pause and reflect. I’m practicing living from faith rest, which means choosing to position myself to Be in His Presence. This time investment helps me to remember I’m always a son first… messenger second. Outflow flows from the inflow. I choose to slow down and slip away on most days.
Being a friendly open-hearted person. I choose to encourage one person every day.
I’ve discovered I usually encourage more than one person during my day.
Serving others in love. This is my lifestyle passion and development.
Use your gifts to serve others. Sometimes serving others means getting your hands dirty.
Awareness. I was moving from an unaware-mindset toward a being-aware mindset.
I wanted to grow by being self-aware, socially aware, being emotionally intelligent, and being spiritually aware. I’m currently learning to be aware of my environment: where I am, and being aware of who I need to be in a situation. I mistakenly asked, “What do I need to do in this situation?” The right question, “Who do I need to be in this situation?”
Knowing I am unaware is my first step toward living a life of awareness.
Responding to God prompts. Responding to those small intuitive “flutterbys”. What do I see/hear/feel?
I’m seeking to develop a lifestyle that is open for business. My daily prayer, “Jesus lead me where You want me to go, and help me to encourage who you want me to encourage.” I want to understand how He moves/leads me toward responding by listening to the Holy Spirit and to people. Listening, really listening, then responding is my practice challenge.
Praying for people. Prayer is our connection from heaven to earth.
I pray with my eyes and my heart open. I pray for people in the now moment. When someone says “pray for me” I pray then. I also often, ask “Can I pray for you?” Nine times out or ten people receive prayer when I ask. Prayer is the connection from heaven to their earth. Many times people cry, and/or sense His presence when we pray together.
Practice doesn’t make you perfect, it makes you better.
My prayer for you is that you would grow in your understanding of His great love and grace. I pray you would continue to practice your positive practices.
Wow! Thanksgiving Outreach!We touched over 200 families this year!
Phillips Temple pulled out the stops and gathered more dinners this year than the last two years! The teams sorted and packed and delivered. We partnered with Wingate Apartments and with Westbrooke Elementary School. The apartment management supplied apartment addresses and notified people we were showing up. The teams headed out served, loved and prayed for the residents.
Upper Room also gathered together and headed out touching many families in low-income housing. They knocked on doors offering a surprise gift… a full Thanksgiving dinner! They prayed for several families. The feedback has been amazing!
We are wrapping up Tornado moving with a mega move on December 14th.
It’s been a long season of moving and praying for the people displaced. We’ve moved over 300 families! I’ve been in over one hundred homes, prayed for a lot of families, and lifted tons of furniture. The good news… The families were encouraged and I lost weight!
It will take many years before everyone returns to normal living.There are scars are left on the land and upon the people affected. We are recovering.
The principal of the school where the F4 touched down said, “Our kids are stressed out. We are seeing their emotions surface. We are coping.“
Some of the kids act out, others withdraw, and all have a reminder of their night of terror every time they drive through the neighborhood. The emotional trauma will take time to overcome. Please pray for all the kids and their families.
The 2019 Christmas With a Cause outreach theme will be Neighbor 2 Neighbor: Giving Hope for Christmas.
Hope Church will partner with Gateway Cathedral in Trotwood. Gateway Cathedral sits in the Westbrook Village neighborhood, which was in the direct path of the Memorial Day Tornadoes. The Gate served as the distribution hub for the community in the weeks following the storm.
The goal this year is to raise resources, which will be distributed among 40 families devastated by the Memorial Day Tornadoes to help them celebrate Christmas with their families.
Hope, along with the City of Trotwood, Trotwood School District and St. Vincent de Paul have identified 40 families from the Trotwood community impacted by the tornadoes. They will be helped by this CWAC campaign.
Living City Project is partnering in a small way with Hope Church, Thrivent, and The Gate to provide Trotwood families resources they can use for the Christmas season and beyond. Thrivent is partnering with Tipp City Schools to collect toys and gifts for the kids affected by the Tornados. Living City Project will then collect, help sort and deliver the gifts to the families at the celebration at The Gate.
Check out the promo.
Amazing, yet mixed emotional time with Pattie’s family.
We celebrated Pattie’s mom Elsie’s life at our family reunion in Mobile AL. We planted a tree in her honor and memory. It was very moving to have five generations gathered. I’ve never experienced such a gathering. We told stories, laughed, cried, talked, hugged and had a meal together. The tree is planted on the land where Elsie lived for many years. Having everyone there was a precious moment for all of us.
Thanks for standing with us and praying for us.
If you’d like to give for year end giving we’d appreciate it very much.
Yes, I know it’s Thanksgiving season! Christmas planning needs to be happening now before launching on December 1st.
Every year many churches plan who they will be serving.
Some churches throw huge parties, other create warm shopping experiences for families, some adopt a family, others give to missions and create spaces for those in need in a specific community.
Every year we create a Kindness Calendar.
Simple, yet impactul! Especially for the individuals and families who participate.
A variant of the Calendar is to develop an Advent Calendar for the twelve days of Christmas. Children can learn to be otherly by practicing one fun act of kindness over the 12 days. Don’t forget to use chocolate as an award!
We are winding down the outreach to the people who have been moved to their new locations. We’ve helped over 300 families.
The stats are staggering! Over 700 Trotwood family apartment units and homes have been damaged deemed uninhabitable.
Last week I went to one apartment complex to see the damage. Many of the 350 units are beyond repair. I’ve heard they will be selling; counting their losses and leaving.
This is just an example from Trotwood. Other areas also lost much of their low-income housing.
We keep asking the question, “Where are the people?”
We are working with the long-term recovery crew. This weekend there is a push to locate the homes who need roof repair before winter sets in. Teams will head out and hang information cards on the doors. Next week teams will begin to tarp homes still needing tarps to make sure the homes are secure.
Single mom, two kids. We’ve been helping a single mom. Her husband left three days before the tornado. Her home is now buttoned up in most areas. We repaired the ceiling and outside siding. We thought her roof was intact until the rains hit a few weeks ago. Her roof needs replacing. She is on the list for the tarping next week. Hopefully, she will receive a new roof in the spring.
You are the blue bag guys…
Five teenagers from C. J. High School helped us deliver furniture this week. Two sisters and a toddler had been living in a hotel for over 150 days.
Can you imagine living in such insecurity? Searching for housing, not sure of any future, being relocated away from all you’ve known, away from the relationships you’ve built, and being away from the area of your employment?
When we prayed, they openly wept tears of relief. They hugged every team member and said, thank you many times. They were so grateful.
Their Trotwood apartment had the roof ripped off. Everyone had three days to pack up and leave. Thankfully the apartments are being rebuilt. It will be a few months until they reopen for new tenants.
I mentioned I was working with Phillips Temple. They said, “O you are the blue bag people! We received your IKEA bag and a turkey dinner last year. We were so surprised and grateful!“
We are ramping up for our Thanksgiving Outreach. I love this family-friendly outreach! It’s more than food! We go to low-income areas and partner with local schools to make sure we are serving people genuinely in need.
People pick up a list. Fill up the IKEA bag. Then bring the filled bag to the outreach on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. So easy! So much fun! We pray for every family we serve.
There are so many God connection stories!I can’t tell you all of the stories about God’s faithfulness to the people of our community. If i did it would take a long time!
Here’s an amazing Jesus story from last week. I met a condo manager who just happened to have a brother who has a ministry providing furniture for people in need. She had just gotten off the phone talking to him about the need in Dayton and how they did not have the connection they needed to help people. Then I walked in the door.
I later contacted to Stephen. He told me his sister cried as she told him the story of God’s surprising faithfulness.
Stephen’s ministry has access to mostly new or returned couches living room chairs, tables, etc. from a major furniture maker.
Tomorrow we are heading up to pick up 30 couches!Free!
Heading South Thanksgiving.
We will be heading south at Thanksgiving to have a Memorial family time for Pattie’s mom. We’ve been really busy and need a break. We are so grateful for how Jesus has connected our hearts to so many great people, churches and ministries. It’s hard to believe we’ve been finding His way for the last four years since Re-Firing.
Your prayers and support are more than appreciated!
I remind myself I need to be in a place in my life where helping someone has to override my sense of being uncomfortable.It’s all about their need for God’s love versus my need to stay in my comfort zone.
Life in the Kingdom is really about learning to live life continually aware of God’s presence and what’s happening around you.Every believer should practice awareness and practice noticing the unnoticeable; then respond.I’m glad God has graciously been training, me, given me the eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that seeks to understand.I’m working on responding acting on what I see, hear, or sense.
It’s hard to see something you are not looking for.
One summer, Pattie and I headed out to the Fraze, an open-air amphitheater near our home, for Blues Fest.Some great bands were playing and we were enjoying the time together.When we arrived we decided to buy some BBQ.We checked every vendor to see what they were serving and finally came to the last booth.As I walked up I noticed the lady serving.I suddenly had an impression I should encourage her.Specifically I should tell her, “Your future is going to be greater than your past.”As I was pondering just how to navigate and communicate the impression I noticed she had a few tattoos.Then I noticed she was wearing an arrest monitor on her ankle.The impression now made sense.
I payed for my food and then said, “You might think this strange but sometimes Jesus gives me encouraging words for people.I have an encouraging word for you.Your future is going to be greater than your past.”
I gently held her arm as I spoke and continued speaking to her about her life.I spoke into her destiny.I told her how Jesus could change her life,wash away her past and propel her into her future.I then invited the Holy Spirit to come and touch her life.
She looked up at me and said, “You are making me cry.”
I replied, “Jesus is here. He can change your life just like he changed mine.”I then briefly told her how I was a heavy drug user 35 years ago and Jesus had changed my life.
She paused and stated, “You have no idea how much I needed this today.Thank you.”
We grabbed our BBQ, moved past the growing line behind us and walked to a patio to eat.Pattie asked me to explain how I knew what to say and how I processed it all.It’s not rocket science but it does take practice, and a willingness to respond and to experiment.
Here is what I told her:
I practice noticing and attempt to live life from an awareness perspective.
I seek to notice what’s going on around me and I seek to be aware of what’s happening from a heaven to earth perspective.I am the earth where His will wants to be done.
Often when speaking to groups of believers I ask them to place a hand on their heart and to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done as in heaven, in this earth.”At the end of declaring the prayer I then ask them to pat their chest and say, “This earth.”We are the earth where the Kingdom comes from heaven to us…earth. Kingdom Life then flows from us to others.
I attempt to listen to God prompts, those small impressions or thoughts which may seem to be like my own but are not.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27, NAS
Sometimes what I hear is His voice.I experiment and practice listening.I’m learning which is His voice and which is my voice.I learn by responding to what I think I hear.Many times I discover it is indeed His prompting, His voice.
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts.For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 8:34, NAS)
I seek to respond to what I see, hear, or sense and take risks.
Faith is spelled RISK.Really faith is spelled obedience.Taking the risk is the hardest step.I remind myself I need to be in a place in my life where helping someone has to override my sense of being uncomfortable.It’s all about their need for God’s love versus my need to stay in my comfort zone.
More often than not, when I take a risk and respond to His whisper a person is encouraged, healed, and nudged closer to Jesus.Sometimes they are ushered into the Kingdom.
One day I went to the gym.When I arrived I noticed a beautiful African American woman who had two half sleeve tattoos on her arms.They were amazing.The flowers and stems were as beautiful as the woman.
As I pondered, I sensed I should tell her she had sown many good things in her life.Also I felt I needed to tell her she was a fruit bearing person and she just needed a little time and patience because good fruit was going to emerge from the things she had sown.So I took a risk and went up and said, “I sometimes get encouraging words for people.I have one for you.” So I told her what I sensed.When I finished she stated, “You touched my heart. I could cry.”I commented, “Encouraging words are good aren’t they?“She smiled and I went back to my routine.
I ask God to direct my steps.
Psalm 139 is an amazing psalm.He knows everything about me.He knows my thoughts, my words, when I rise up, when I go to work, when I come home.In spite of what He knows about me He chooses to lay His hand on my head and to bless me.It’s a humble knowledge where I experience the beyond the beyond.
Where I go, He goes.
“In Him we live and move and have our being. ” (Acts 17:28 NIV)
Often I arrive at the right place at the right time for the right person.I was driving home one night and had an impression to go to Hancock’s fabrics to pick up some outdoor material for my 96 VW Cabrio convertible top.I popped in and purchased the material.
As I was leaving I thought about going next door to buy some Sushi.The next impression didn’t make sense, I was not to go buy Sushi but go directly to my car.So I walked out the door headed directly to my car.At that moment I saw my ex-personal assistant get out of her car and begin walking toward me.I said, “Hi! It’s great to see you.“
The conversation was a God set up.I found out she was having her second child and she had almost died having the first.I prayed for her and her new child to be.We had a great talk and she left.
My next impression, “You can go buy sushi now.”
Right time right place for the right person.I later found out she had a healthy baby and she went through the delivery with no problems.
I like what one person prays every morning. Each new day he tells Jesus he is open for business.If he hears God’s whisper, he then decides to have the guts to respond.When he responds, people are often touched by God’s love and grace.
I had an interesting dream. In the dream I was sharing how Jesus healed and spoke to people today. I told the leaders who were gathered several current Jesus is alive today stories. At the end of the dream they all asked me for chapter and verse. In the dream I cupped my hands over my mouth and declared, “Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!”
Jesus was / is the most friendly open-hearted person on the planet.He lived His life noticing people and situations then acting on what He saw or heard from His Father.
Our adventure begins when we see like He sees, hear like He hears, and respond like He responds.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36, NIV)
Begin to view life through an awareness lens.
Take a few minutes. Look around.
What do you notice?
What do you see, sense, or hear?
This week practice awareness.
Begin to respond to what you hear, sense or see. Take Risks
My friend, Doug Pollock, Athletes In Action Evangelism director, has written the book God Space which explains the ethos behind creating God space.It is a must read for everyone who wants to communicate the Good News in such a way it can be heard.
I was at the beach with my family enjoying the waves, sun, and sand. The red warning flag was flying when we arrived so we knew we needed to be careful. Winston, who is my brother in law, and I were looking at the waves and the people swimming when I noticed a lady on a floating small air bed struggling. Her eleven year old daughter was on a small kick board kicking furiously in an attempt to help her mom back to shore. They were stuck and they were in danger. I pointed out the unfolding drama to Winston. We talked about the situation and decided to wait a minute to see if they could break free. When it was obvious they were in danger we both jumped up and ran into the water.
Winston, who was a more experienced swimmer than me, ran down the beach, dove in and swam straight to the lady using the riptide’s force. I dove in and approached the area from the right. I could feel the undertow’s force pulling me out. I stopped and instantly swam a little left toward shore to get out of the current before I was overpowered.
As I moved toward shore I noticed two young boys who were in the danger zone. Both were barely able to touch bottom. Every time they jumped up they were being pulled further away from the beach by the riptide. I rushed to the kids grabbed their hand and pulled them closer to shore. I handed them over to their grandpa, who hadn’t noticed the kids were in danger.
Meanwhile Winston was with the mom and the girl. He was attempting to calm them down and encouraged them lay back, to relax and allow the raft to keep their heads above water. He assured them he would stay with them and they would all be ok.
Because the tide was turning they were stuck in a stationary rip which was not flowing normally. Winston tried kicking right, left, forward, and backward with no luck. It became obvious he needed more help so I swam to shore and ran to get my phone.
When I ran up to our sun tent it startled my wife. She was deeply engrossed in her book, so much so she hadn’t noticed a thing! She asked what was going on? As I frantically searched for my phone I told her the about the riptide and pointed to Winston and the lady and child. “Aren’t you overreacting?” she asked. I thought, “Me, I never over react. Well, maybe occasionally.” “No!” , I exclaimed as I found my phone and called 911.
A few minutes passed, then I heard the sirens approaching. Two groups of lifeguards arrived on their four wheelers. They ran and dove into the water and swam out to the people in trouble. Everyone was safely pulled to shore. The mother and little girl were extremely grateful we noticed.
A potentially deadly scene was quickly averted because there were two people who had been paying attention and decided to act.
From a spiritual point of view the rescue made me think of all the people in my sphere of influence who are drifting and in danger. The ocean we call life is flowing. Like the people in the riptide, many are stuck in life’s current and in danger of perishing. Most of the time they are living lives totally unaware of the danger. Unless they are noticed and reached by those of us who choose to leave the safety of our beach, they will perish.
The incident encouraged me to be determined to leave my safety zone and to continue seek and notice those who are away from God’s presence.
This scene happened very quickly and lasted probably less than ten minutes. I reflected and wondered:
Why didn’t other people notice?
Why didn’t they move to help?
Why did they sit still sipping their beer watching as the drama unfolded?
There is a psychological profile why some people respond and some don’t in such situations. Apparently, few people are wired to be responders. Those who do respond usually have some sort of training or experience in their past that pushes them forward.
Winston is an accomplished swimmer and was a surfer in his 20’s living much of his life near the water. He had experienced the power of riptides, he knew the danger and how to escape and survive.
I recently had received some training in self defense and I had been actively seeking to improve my personal awareness, so I noticed the situation. Others like my wife are wired more passively. The good news, every person can be trained to notice people and situations and can develop a willingness to act, take a risk, and help those in distress. It is so important.
Unaware Aware Alert Alarm
Guess where most people live? Most people live in the unaware zone. They live life adrift on an ocean of routine, and live unaware / oblivious of their surroundings.
She screamed. He wrecked the car. She escaped.
A teacher in the Dayton area was recently abducted. Why? She was targeted because she was unaware.
She was texting while walking to her car and once in the car she continued to focus on her cell phone. The bad guy simply walked up and jerked open her door. He jumped in the driver’s side, pushed her into the passenger seat and took off with the now terrified lady.
She screamed. He wrecked the car and she managed to open the passenger side door and jumped out. The guy escaped but was later apprehended.
Had she been practicing awareness she would have put her phone in her purse before she left the store, looked around as she walked to her car and then locked the doors as soon as she got in her seat. The incident could have been averted if she had chosen to live her life from an awareness perspective.
Now she lives with the trauma of the frightening incident. However, she also decided to learn to become more aware of her space and just completed a conceal and carry course. She is now a smarter and wiser woman.
It’s hard to see something you are not looking for.
Life in the Kingdom is really about learning to live life continually aware of God’s presence and what’s happening around you. Every believer should practice awareness and practice noticing the unnoticeable; then respond. I’m glad God has graciously been training, me, given me the eyes to see, and a heart that seeks to understand. I’m working on responding, acting on what I see, or sense.
I believe everyone can learn to create God Space. What is God Space?
God Space is a space which we create by faith. God Space is the tangible atmosphere or environment where God’s presence, goodness, kindness, knowledge and power is present to nurture faith in another human being.
In other words, we bring Heaven to earth. God Space can be created as we serve and love the people of our community. The connection to Kingdom love and power is often the act of serving itself, or when we have spiritual conversations, or when we pray with a person.
Here are some clues to help you practice creating God Space.
Learn to be a friendly, open-hearted person.
Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality:
“I was addicted to myself. All I thought about was myself. The only thing I really cared about was myself. I had very little concept of love, altruism, or sacrifice. I discovered my mind is like a radio that picks up only one station, the one that plays me: K-Don, all Don, all the time.“
I think we can all identify with his statement. Sometimes our station is tuned to the me station. I do know we can choose to change the station and can learn to be a friendly, open-hearted person. A key part of the process is becoming aware, we are not “other aware.” We can then learn to be otherly. We learn and grow by actively loving and caring for those in our sphere of influence.
Define what you think a friendly open-hearted person looks like. Jot down your thoughts.
Perhaps you wrote, a friendly open-hearted person: smiles, shows interest in someone’s life, listens, cares, encourages, or says the right thing at just the right time. A friendly open-hearted person is a someone who is genuine, who serves others, and is always open for conversation. A friendly open-hearted person has time for you. The number one quality of a friendly open-hearted person… they listen giving their full attention.
Now take your list and practice what you have written. This is how you become a friendly open-hearted person. Practice! Practice is how you learn to do any new skill well. If your radio is often tuned to ME.ME. you will have to practice, and practice a lot.
I know I am wired to be task oriented non-relational and I am somewhat introverted. I am an introvert / extrovert. So I have had to practice. I’m getting better, but I know I need to practice in order to become who I want to become.
I began to practice by seeing the art of being friendly and open hearted as a learn-able doable task. I know, it’s sad. But I do know it’s something I can step into and practice. Surprisingly I’m getting better.
I practice saying Hi to a lot of people. I practice listening to God’s voice and I practice slowing down and listening to people. I practice noticing people and situations. I practice offering prayer and care toward others. I practice serving others with a focused heart. I am also a recovering non-hugger so I now practice hugging a select few.
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. (Luke 6:31, NAS)
Some other questions you might want to contemplate include: How do you know when someone is friendly and open hearted?
What do they do? How do they act?
What are some tips you would give to a friend toward becoming a friendlier, a more other focused person?
Now apply your tips to your life. Practice being a friendly open-hearted person.
Jesus was and is the most friendly open-hearted person. Read the Gospels. Notice how He treated people. Think about how He treats you.
So many people have been encouraged! At the current time, we have helped over two hundred eighty people by moving their furniture into their new homes.
Here’s how it works:
People sign up at the Community Action Partnership.
People receive a furniture voucher.
People go to St.Vincent’s to pick out their furniture.
On the day of delivery, we go to Living City Project and pick up Home-goods:Microwaves, cleaning supplies, blankets, pillows, toasters, ironing boards, and irons, plus other needed items.
We deliver the furniture and homegoods to their new location.
We encourage and pray for the family.
It’s been an interesting exercise. Moving is hard work. I’ve lost six pounds and don’t need the gym!
We’ve noticed when we pray the Holy Spirit shows up. People often cry, and receive encouraging words.
When we ask for His peace to be released to fill the home it happens.
All are grateful for prayer and encouragement.
Their stories are heart-rending and amazing at the same time.
We helped C. He is a simple man. His brother, who has PTSD from his time in the Army, recently moved in. All they owned was destroyed or looted during the Tornado that hit Trotwood. He was very grateful for the items he picked out at St. Vincent’s. He and his brother are safe and are rebuilding their lives.
Two young moms from Trotwood found housing in a subpar apartment complex. The Town House next to theirs is a total burnout. Wrecked cars, trash, and moldy furniture are laying in the street.
They were grateful for their new couch and the house-hold items we brought.
Another young lady from Riverside did find a nice apartment. When we arrived she had nothing. All she had was a vacuum cleaner, some dishes and her clothes in bags. The roof on her apartment was ripped off and everything she had was lost. She was amazed she survived.
She had been sleeping on her floor in her furniture-less apartment for several days. We were able to deliver her mainly new furniture and household goods. She was very appreciative and very grateful.
Serving people in poverty at it’s the deepest level can harden a heart, or change a life.
Experiencing the realities of the lack of affordable housing is sometimes hard. It’s especially heart-rending when you see small children living where they are now living.
There are a lot of reasons people are in poverty. It goes way back in our history. It’s the history we often don’t want to think about or acknowledge. Discovering the truth can make the comfortable …uncomfortable.
Seeing and experiencing people being trapped, and now their lives being messed up, certainly brings a different perspective.
Several young men who have served with us have been changed. One parent told me their son no longer complains and now has a different attitude at home. Another young man told me he realized his issues were small compared to those he served.
There are over 150 families on the waiting list. Most are still in hotels or living with their families.
Salem Church of God recently purchased fifty tables and chairs from IKEA! They will be building the items on October 16th then delivering to St. Vincent’s. That’s fifty families helped!
Pray Living City Project receives large checks from businesses or foundations to help St. Vincent’s to purchase needed furniture.
On Sunday, September 29th, hundreds of believers from all over the Dayton area came to worship and give thanks as a community. It was a great night! We worshiped, danced in the rain, and prayed for several people for healing and for salvation. It was wonderful to experience! (The rain removed the heat and only lasted twenty minutes.)
Recently I’ve experienced worship at higher level. Several area church leaders allowed the Holy Spirit to moved during worship. They didn’t preach. They encouraged the people to press in. Jesus was lifted and honored. So good to experience this and know it’s happening in the Dayton area.
I remember getting ready to leave our house when the news suddenly shifted to NYC. We were in shock as we watched the events unfold. It’s the same feeling I’ve had over these past few months. Tornadoes devastating our communities, then a mass shooting in Dayton, which left our community stunned, wounded and wondering.
We live in troubled times. Jesus and He alone is our hope… all other ground is sinking sand.
On September 29th Declare Dayton will gather believers from all over the Dayton area to worship and give thanks as a community. We are believing the Father’s blessing to flow over our community as we gather together to worship Jesus.
Living City Project(Declare), St. Vincent’s, Miami Valley Action Partnership and many others have continued to assist people moving into their new apartments or homes.
There is a low income housing crisis in our area.
So far we have supplied furniture and home goods to over two hundred and fifty families. Most of the people we serve had been staying in hotels. Some people were in hotels or with families for over two months before finding a suitable place to live.
There are still hundreds of people in hotels or staying with family.
One family we served had thirteen family members living together for several weeks before finding two other places to rent.
We’ve listened, cried, served, laughed and prayed for the people in our community. We will continue. Every day there are new stories that touch our hearts.
I have personally been in over one hundred homes. That’s a lot of joyful moving as we love and pray for the replaced families!
This weekend Living City Project and St. Vincent’s will be serving thirty-five families.
We will also have a push to serve our community with kindness, and continue to clean up Trotwood. Phillips Temple will be assisting the cleanup and will be helping a single mom to clean up her yard and do some work on her house.
I am very grateful for my time at Phillips Temple. I now know I would not have had the confidence nor the courage to do what I am now doing in our community without their graceful support and input into my life.
We had an amazing time in Mexico!
The Upper Room crew Aaron, Armondo, Nancy Josh, Me, Jason. We were graciously hosted by Pastors Armondo and Nancy.
I’ve not been on a trip that had so much unity, power, and encouragement in a long time. We all were on form as we spoke to the leaders and to the congregation. Many people came forward for ministry. Jesus was lifted through their amazing worship!
They are resourceful, resilient and creative.
Their ministry to a very poor area has gathered ninety-seven kids in just two months! We will continue to support Upper Room’s twelve-year relationship in Piedras Negras.
Aaron’s relational input to the leaders and to the church brought encouragement and strength.
Josh’s teaching on relationships and how to handle conflict was like water to the thirsty.
Jason did an amazing job photographing and videoing our trip. He had four birthday parties in one day! Maybe.
Wearing many hats.
I continue to be busy seeking to be where I need to be. Every day is different. Every situation has its challenges and blessings.
The big idea. Everyone on the planet is loved by a loving Father.
Some people may never have experienced a love that is honest, real and caring. You may have been abused. You may have been abandoned. You may have had parents who made big mistakes. You may have had religious people say horrible things to you.
Other people feel odd, out of place, anxious and isolated. Many people are searching, seeking for love, identity, and purpose.
Why did Jesus come to earth?
Jesus came to show the Father’s love for mankind. He came to lavish love on the people of this planet and to reveal the love of God the Father. Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14) This is an incredible statement. The religious people of the day twisted his words. They hated him for what he said and for loving and healing people who were in great need. In the end, they crucified him upon a cross. They had no idea Jesus’ death on a cross was the greatest demonstration of love the planet has ever encountered.
Bottom line:Jesus came to the planet to love openly. He proved his love for you and me by dying on a cross so you and I could experience forgiveness and to have a relationship with a Father… a good, good father. If you have had a bad dad this may be hard to grasp… but it’s true.
We’ve all messed up. We’ve all fallen short. We’ve all missed the mark. We’ve all hurt people, God, and ourselves. As a result, every person senses some degree of regret, guilt, and shame.
Jesus died on the cross to take away our regret, guilt, and shame. He willingly laid His life down for us. He took our place and bore the penalty for our acts of selfishness and sin. That is amazing love.
When we ask the Father to forgive us, because of what Jesus has done for us, He immediately does so. His love is unconditional love.
He forgives us. His forgiveness is not based on anything we have done or could do to gain His favor. He loves us and forgives us just because he has an extravagant love for us.
When we believe Jesus is real and alive and we chose to give our lives to him, by inviting Him into our hearts, we become new creations on the inside. Now, instead of missing the mark, we have someone to help us, guide us and lead us as we navigate life.
The Father loves us… just because… He loves us.
Someone talked to you, prayed for you, and encouraged you. They may have given you a card to point you to Loved You Are. They revealed the Father’s love in some way. If you’d like to experience more of His love it’s just a prayer away. Prayer is just talking out loud to the Father.
We would encourage you to talk to God the Father. Let him know how you feel, what you are struggling with, and for what you are thankful. He is always there, and He is listening to you.
Believe it or not, he will begin speaking to you and will begin to reveal your purpose and your destiny.
You can begin to talk/pray by saying something like this.
“Father. Here I am. Today I ask you to show me your love. I ask you to forgive me for all the things I regret. Forgive me for what I have done against you, against myself, and what I have done to others. I thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for sending Jesus to show me your love. Thank you, Jesus, for paying the price for my sin and my selfishness. I believe you are King and Lord. I also believe you have risen from the dead and you are alive today. I ask you, Jesus, to come into my life and to fill me with your Holy Spirit. Now lead me and guide my life. Help me to follow you all of my days. Show me the Father’s love. Thank you.“
We’d encourage you to continue to talk to Jesus and to ask Him to reveal the depth of the Father’s love for you. Also, read the Book of John found in the Bible. It is in this book Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”
If you’d like to tell your story, email Steve@eyesoutward.com
I’ve been on the ground for a few weeks seeing need and assisting families to move into their new locations.
We are helping mainly Trotwood families. Some families have had to relocate as far as West Chester which is an hour away from Trotwood.
It is evident Trotwood folks have jumped quickly to find help and begin to recover. That’s good news! Many apartment residents have had to be in hotels for many days. They are now receiving help.
One family were in a hotel for three-plus weeks before finding a place to live. They slept on the floor for five days until we arrived. Several people have had a great experience and some have found their new housing in less than great apartments/duplexes.
We are partnering with Living City Project, St. Vincent’s and Miami Valley Community Action Partnership.
The last month we have set up a system that works well both for volunteers and the families in need.
Our partners are providing trucks, gas, staff, warehouse space, house-hold items, and furniture. New beds are being provided from several local firms like Morris Home Furniture.
This week we had thirty teens come from Chicago to Dayton to help. They built flat-packed furniture, helped us move people and cleared some locations of debris.
There are so many people in need! This is a long term situation and we need people to help us help others.
We are in need of funding. Everyone on the Living City Project team is juggling work to provide their personal funds, or the churches we work with are graciously allowing us to be on the ground helping people.
Long term help is much harder to gather than short term clean up crews. To me, it’s an amazing missional opportunity. Sadly, many churches are now trying to get back to church as normal. Several major communities in our area are hurting. They open up as the church serves being the good news. I believe it’s time to shine!
We are assisting three or four families a day. We’ve been running for a little over three weeks. We are ramping up.
There are now many more people on the list to receive their new furniture and basic household items. The bottleneck falls into the category of having not having enough moving crews. It’s evident we are already in need of more volunteers to help. We need more drivers, movers, and more pick-up trucks to transport the items from St. Vincent’s to their homes. This need being met is part of the ramp-up. Please pray we will have fifteen people a day to join teams to serve.
Today we helped three families.
There were five families on the list, however, we didn’t have pickup trucks to take two families their beds. They may receive the beds tomorrow or next week. It depends on how full our truck will be tomorrow.
Two single moms were from the Westbrooke area. One of the hardest-hit areas. Over 400 children were displaced.
I was very glad the two of us had a great woman with us today to listen and to offer support to the single parent moms we served.
Yup! Two of us loaded and unloaded a filled to the top large box truck. One couch took 30 minutes to get inside of an apartment up two flights of stairs! We had to unscrew the banister rail. Note to self…bring power screwdriver!
Here is a happy and safe Phillips Family we helped last week.
The light at the end of the tunnel is not an on-coming train!
The last few weeks I’ve been battling.
Circumstances, death of a love one, stress from destructive Tornadoes, tiredness in my relief efforts, a sense of failure from disappointing life investment outcomes…
My bounce isn’t as high as it used to be. I’ve had to lean forward into Hope. I’m shifting my mindset yet again and running with Percy.
Towards a Psychology of Hope is a great article. (click link for full article.) “We all know that hope is a good thing, even an essential thing: there is no life without hope, or so the saying goes. Psychologists believe hope might be the most important feeling, state, or emotion we can experience. Hope is a skill you can acquire. It is active—you can cultivate and nourish it.
It is self-perpetuating—hopeful people tend to be more resilient, more trusting, more open, and more motivated than those less hopeful, so they are likely to receive more from the world, which in turn makes them more hopeful—which is why it’s so important.”
Now May the God of all hope Fill you With all joy and peace in believing So that You may abound in Hope By The power of The Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13:NASB
I’m re-applying my life verse.
SteveBelieve you will abound in hope. Hope will be poured into my life and my hope willexistingreatquantity. I will be rich in hope, and I will be well supplied with hope.
You will befilled with hope. You will over-flow orteem with hope.
You will have all joy and peace in believing.
Pray: God of all hope, fill me with all joy and peace so that I will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit empower me with Hope. Thank you now for filling me.
Look forward in hope:
Hope is a confident expectation of good things to come. Hope looks to a future bright. The light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. Hope believes the best is yet to come. Jer 29:29 NASB For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Proverbs 23:18 (NIV) There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Hope is future, Faith is now. In hope we see ahead, in faith we believe for our hopeful future now.
Hey 11:1 NASB Now faith is the assurance / confidence / substance of things hoped for, (Faith is) the conviction / evidence of things not seen. What things not seen?
What are you and I believing, looking for, hoping for?Refreshment? Motional stability? Spiritual connection with Holy Spirit, the Fathers love and the Sons faithfulness?
We can activate our faith and hope toward whom we are believing.
We develop a positive mindset by reading hopeful articles and the Bible. We fuse hope and believing by offering thanksgiving and cultivating gratitude. Spending time slowing down to rest. Positioning ourselves to worship and believe.
Hope is the seed bed of faith and love.
These three remain: “Faith, Hope and Love…these three but the greatest of these three is love.” I Cor 13
Hold on to hope long enough until hope becomes faith.
Hope is the connector and the seed bed that creates faith and love. Faith and love spring from hope.
Col 1:5 NIV The faith and love that spring from the hope stored up / secure for you in heaven
It’s important to speak hope, to declare, to believe and to rest in God’s love. Ps 62:5 NIV Yes, my soul, find rest in God, my hope comes from him.
Lamentations 3:24 (NASB) The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore, I have hope in Him.” The biggest question, “Where do you and I place our hope? Who is our hope?”
Where is your hope, your expectation placed?
Hope, by definition is a person, or a thing, in which expectations are centered or focused upon. Who are you trusting / looking to? People? Places? Things? Jobs? Governments? Leaders? Feelings? Circumstances?
Pattie and I often have to shift our mindsets, our focus and our declarations:
“Our hope is only found in you Jesus. We declare ___________ is not our Savior. Where we go, or where we stay will not save us, nor provide for us. In You, and You alone is our hope. All of our hope is found in You. Thank you Jesus, our future is secure. Thank you for providing for us, guiding us!”
The Reality. Jesus is our only hope. Hope is embodied in Him. He is the hope of glory. Our hope is secure and steadfast…
Heb. 6:18-20 NIV We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be strong / encouraged.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner has entered on our behalf.
Jesus is the better hope.
Heb 7: 9 NASB for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Heb 7:22 NASB so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. It’s interesting and encouraging…The eye of the Lord is upon those who hope and who hope for something tangible, yet supernatural, His loving-kindness.
Ps 33:18 NASB Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who hope for his Loving-kindness.
“Our trials are turned to gold.”Keith Green.
Trials do one thing well… if we hold on, if we don’t give up and if we continue… Trials produce a hope that does not disappoint. In hope… we hope.
Rom 5:1-5 NASB Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.(hope) 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Running with Percy.
There is something to be said about perseverance. Perseveranceenables us to keep on keeping on, tolean forward by faith, and tolook into the future in hope.
Sometimes we need to run with our friend Percy. Running with Percy produces a hope that does not disappoint. It’s important to faint not; to not grow weary and never give up.
Trials of life show us what we are made of. Trials reveal our metal. They test our metal.
We are the hopeful ones. We have a future and a hope. It is secure. We can draw from heavens hope and give what we have received away.
We can have joy and peace and abound in hope. The connector… in believing. “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote, 1797-1874
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, and blood Support me in the whelming flood; When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found, Clothed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne! On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
A few years ago I wrote Google and asked if I could use the phrase Zoom Out—Zoom In to write a short book. Nope was the answer.
Zooming Out helps us see the whole picture. Zooming In helps us see part of the picture.
Good leaders Zoom Out. They see the big picture. They see, understand, and appreciate the key players who are creating the many aspects of the whole picture.
Sometimes people and teams are so Zoomed In they can’t see nor appreciate the whole picture.
If you work in an organization most likely you are most concerned / focused upon the growth and progress of your area. You may need to Zoom Out to understand you and your team are a part of the whole.
Starry Starry Night
I was on a team of teams a few years ago. We were silo-ed. Everyone was concerned about their area and were very focused. We were attempting to encourage all the teams to care about our environment / atmosphere and to embrace our responsibility to help create a friendly open hearted experience for our guests. We needed everyone’s buy in.
I created an illustration.
I showed a blue pixel of a famous picture on a big screen. I spoke about being Zoomed In and the importance of being zoomed in, but not being so zoomed in we miss seeing the big picture. In order to see and understand the big picture we needed to Zoom Out. Zooming out helps us to see the whole enchilada and together, as a whole group, can create the space / atmosphere / environment we needed to create. The questions then followed. What do we want to create? How do we create the vibe, atmosphere, environment? What is our role?
Here is the pixel: Zoomed In
Here is the picture: Zoomed Out
Knowing / discerning when we need to Zoom Out or to Zoom In is very important. Sometimes we are so close / Zoomed In to a situation we need to slow down to create space where we can Zoom Out.
Taking the time, creating space to Zoom Out allows us to have a birds eye view to assess a problem, a direction, or an opportunity. Then, after our assessment, we can Zoom In to deal with what needs dealing with, or to create what we need to create.
If you are under pressure in your personal life and relationships you may want to push pause, Zoom Out in order to see and understand your situation from a different point of view.
Tip: It helps to put on your Spock logic persona and to take off your emotional persona.
Questions to ask:
Where can I go to find space to Zoom Out and reflect?
What’s going on within my environments?(White board)
Where do I need to focus Zoom In in each environment? (family, work, friends, potential opportunities)
How am I doing with my relationships at home, church and beyond?
Be determined to create margin in your schedule for what’s most important.
Is this something Jesus wants me to continue to invest my energy and focus?
Most people have great strengths. Sometimes our strengths are our weaknesses.
Runners learn to pace themselves, maybe we should too?
Coach Susan Paul: “Typically runners add 30 seconds per mile to their goal race pace to as much as 2 minutes per mile. How much you choose to slow down is up to you, but remember the longer the run, the slower the pace should be on most days. Keep in mind it’s often hard to hit the perfect pace for every run. Your trainingpaces will also vary based on the weather conditionsor the terrain. Maybe you’ve had poor sleep or have been stressed at work. This will affect how you pace yourself!” The Runner’s World Editors Mar 4, 2019
Take a moment and think through the above allegory.
How long will it be before you are finished with this series, or project, etc? Think realistically. Create margin in your plan.
Remember, you are not perfect. Give yourself permission for mid-course corrections. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Remember you are an atmosphere architect. Creating takes time.
Don’t stop your training paces. What are your basic practices? Time with Jesus, reading, journal, exercising, family nights, date nights with your spouse, eating well and sleeping. Adjust your time accordingly.
Take a break. Do something fun and totally different.
You have the power to pace yourself in your terrain.
The Living City Project.Final Stats! Knock on effect! Churches want to continue to serve their community! We are creating a website to offer tips and resources. Our hope realized: People did see the church in action as hundreds demonstrated their love in a practical way. Over thirty churches served as well as several other community organizations.
Over twelve hundred people participated on the day. A sense of unity and community engagement was apparent.
#Kindnessnow 2.0 We had a great summit! A small turn out but some powerful sessions. My Pastor friends: Dorrien Hinsey, Jackie Jackson, Mike Scruggs and Jimmy Washington graced our time Thursday night. They discussed KindnessOutreach and how their churches have reached out to their communities.
Lot’s of buzz over the three days and several practical outreach opportunities! Dr. Dorrien Hinsey summed up the night with the thought Kingdom over Culture.
Heading out this Saturday for one of the largest outreach events of our year. Six hundred roses going to over twenty Beauty Salons.
A Flower Story. Is there someone here who is having trouble at home?
A couple of weeks ago we took a hundred vases, each filled with five daffodils, to a nursing home and to the small stores located in Trotwood.
We went into a hair salon after receiving an impression someone in the Salon needed prayer for some tough things happening at home.
When we went in we stretched out our hands, “Here’s a vase of flowers to celebrate Easter.” The person who welcomes people lit up and exclaimed “Thank you! This is so nice!” Everyone in the salon was surprised.
I said, “I was driving by and had an impression someone has some tough stuff happening at home and needed prayer.” A young mother immediately raised her hand and said, “It’s me.”
As we began to pray she started crying. The power of the Holy Spirit touched her life as words of encouragement flowed. It was obvious to everyone Jesus had touched her life. The people in the Salon were startled, yet they were amazed.
A long story shortened.
Everyone in the salon got out of their chairs and walked over and said, “Pray for us.” I talked about Jesus, His grace, His power, and proclaimed His goodness. We then stood in a circle held hands and prayed for the store. I said, “The Word says everywhere we walk we are blessed and we can claim the land. Let’s stomp our feet and bless this store. So we all stomped our feet and I then prayed and blessed the salon and the owner. At the end I received a lot of hugs and thank yous. What’s the point? There is power in and upon acts of kindness done in Jesus name.
What opened the door? A vase of flowers and simple obedience to an impression. Not everyone may be as extroverted as I am in such moments, but anyone can listen to His voice and pray a simple prayer.
We are grateful for all our supporters who enable us to do what God has called us to do. We value your prayers and support. Please pray for our family as we press into our new season.
Clarity / Direction / Where to invest time, energy and passion?
Many people don’t know there is a Father who loves them.
My friend Matthew and his young daughter went to Target to shop. They were walking around the store when Matthew got distracted. Minutes passed and suddenly he sensed something wasn’t right. Turning around, he couldn’t find his daughter. She was missing from his presence; she wasn’t near his side. His heart was pounding and with deep concern he began to look for her. He ramped up his search by notifying the store manager and other store workers to help him find his daughter. Time went by, one minute became two, and two became ten. To Matthew it felt like an eternity. She was indeed lost.
As his sense of loss was turning to hopelessness he noticed movement in a clothes rack. This is when he saw her peeking out from where she was hiding. He dropped to his knees and called her by name. She came running into his arms. She had been lost and away from his presence, but now she had been found. She was back in his arms.
When he asked her why she hadn’t come out of hiding when he called her name, she said she was afraid. She was afraid she would be in trouble. She assumed he’d be angry. Matthew embraced her, told her he loved her, he wasn’t angry, and he was just so grateful he found her.
This is really a great picture of God’s love for humanity. People are away from God’s presence. They are hiding, covering themselves up. They are afraid to come into His presence. The reason they are afraid… they believe a lie. A lie which tells them God is not a loving Father. He is an angry Father. Therefore, if they turn toward an angry God, He will give them what they know they deserve… judgement and punishment.
At the core of His being He is love. He offers salvation as a gift to those who turn toward Him. He is always willing to receive those who come to Him at any time. He is not willing any should perish. He takes no delight in the death of those who do not know Him. He offers His relational connection by grace. His grace is found in His Son Jesus.
He sent His only Son to illustrate, explain and reveal the love of the Father toward the people who are away from His presence, lost. He is the God of the last chance.
My father in law was a bartender. When my wife was quite young, he left his wife and five children for his wife’s best friend. Pattie’s mom wept for three days and then began the long process of recovery. Time went on and his new wife met Jesus and her life changed. More years went by and then suddenly my father in law was diagnosed with cancer and given weeks to live. His wife threw caution to the wind and began to speak to him about eternal issues, specifically about where he was going to spend eternity. Her urgent appeal made sense to him and he asked her what he needed to do. She told him to get on his knees, to ask God for forgiveness and invite Jesus into his life. He listened intently and responded by moving himself from the bed to the floor. When he got on his knees he prayed for forgiveness and asked Jesus to come into his life. He was a new man when he got back up. A week later he was baptized. A couple of weeks later he passed away into a new eternity.
This is the love of the Father. Pattie’s dad wasn’t condemned for the terrible things he had done. When he turned toward the Father he was forgiven and was welcomed into the arms of His savior.
Jesus asked the woman caught in adultery, “Where are your accusers?” John 8 NLT
There were none; He freely forgave her and told her to go and sin no more. He restored her hope.
On the cross, He breathed His last, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23: 34, NIV)
In the parable of the prodigal son the father was continually looking, waiting, and longing for the return of his lost son. When his son finally came to his senses he began his journey home, while he was still a long way off, the father saw him approaching and ran toward his son. He embraced him, welcomed him home, threw a party restoring him to all which was his and more.
This is a picture of the heart of the Father. He is continually looking for the people who are away from His presence. He longs for them to come home, to come back into His presence, to stop hiding in fear, and to be fully restored. The love of God removes all fear.
This is the good news! If you have experienced His love I’d encourage you to share your good news with others.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 1 Cor 4:7NLT
Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. 2 Tim 1:14 NAS
The greatest treasure: His Presence within us, upon us and with us.
We are who we are. When we are fully who we are in Christ, and secure in whose we are, we shine bright and give God glory. We all have a treasure within us. Gifts, talents, abilities, thoughts, personalities, emotions and skill sets have all been entrusted to us. All of us are different. No two people are alike. You are uniquely you, wonderfully created.
My wife is a triplet. Even though the sisters look similar. They are very different. Each has different personalities, emotional makeup and talents. They are each beautifully unique. What you have within you is a treasure. This treasure within you is so valuable it needs to be guarded, protected. The gifts, talents, and abilities are treasures that are entrusted to your care, are given to you for the sake of others. We receive so that we can give what we have received.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Prov 4:23 NIV
Acts 1:8 states when the Holy Spirit comes upon you He will give you the power to Be…pause for effect… His witnesses. Notice what comes first… thepower to Be… comes before doing. Pause and think about this for a moment. When He, the Holy Spirit comes upon you, Hewill empower you to Be. His power upon you gives you the ability to be fully who you were created to Be… uniquely you.
When His empowerment comes upon you, and when you begin to allow the treasure within to flow out to others, you cannot help but be His witness. Steve Bowen
Be not do…
Note: Peter didn’t say we would “do witnessing” but we would beHis witnesses.
Being fully you, empowered, with all your gifts talents and abilities
confidently flowing is when you are a most powerful witness.
As believers, we have access to the power of the Holy Spirit. The impartation of His supernatural power within you, upon you, and with you changes everything. His power enables us to be the very witnesses He created us to be.
In my book Go. Sow. I ask…How much power to do we need? “How much power do we need? I’m all for more power of the Spirit and pray most days to be empowered. However, I have been around long enough to know I have to be willing to begin to take risks now,in this present time, in order to enter into the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned I often have to be faithful in the small tasks and the small steps before the greater is realized. Beginning in the natural often helps me to move toward releasing the supernatural.
The true power of beingenables heaven to bring to our earth(our lives) the power we need to reach out to people of our earth—our sphere of influence.
His power often flows from me when I’m out in the community, face great need, and sense my lack. It is the very awareness of my lack that propels me, in that moment, to reach out for more of His power,in order to meet a need. If I feel weak and small, I still step out in my weakness and smallness. I still serve, and I still pray. Often I sense no feeling of noticeable power when I pray for people yet, amazing things happen. One lady recently came up to our group and said, “When Steve prayed for me, I received not one job, but two jobs. I was so grateful that he took the time, and listened to me, and prayed for me. I just wanted to thank you all for being out here caring and serving us.”
I wanted to say, “Woman, I who am speaking to you am he.” Bowen, Steve (2014-04-23). Go. Sow. A simple practical guide into the arena of outreach. (pp. 178-179). . Kindle Edition. Note she stated, “I was so grateful that he took the time, and listened to me and prayed for me.”
What she noticed was not my power, but my being. Who I am. His love for her was expressed through my actions, and by my attitude. I had no physical sense of power. No awareness of, “Boy I’m bringing it today!“I simply released the treasure I knew was within me by faith, and Her need was wonderfully met. Step into being who you are.
Often I have to step into who I am… in order to be.
I have to remember whose I am, and who I am, then act accordingly.
At my core I know I am wired as an encourager. So, in order to be the encourager I am, I have to stir up the gift that has been entrusted to me and step into being the encourager I am. Sometimes, I literally declare as I step out of my car, or walk into a meeting, “I now step into my gift, and into my calling as an encourager.”
When I remember who I am, I can then be who I am.
It’s all about knowing and being.
The stepping into principle happens when I consciously step into being a husband, a friend, a worker, or a leader.
Our identity is ourfoundation for all things.Our identity flows from His Presence. Such we are, sons and daughters.
1 John 3:1 NASB See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.
This is who we are, sons and daughters.We are adopted, heirs, given full rights as sons and daughters.
We are loved by Him. When we treasure the treasure within us we discover a whole new level of security. We are called to be.Knowing whose we are and who we are… brings security into our calling.
We receive, we give.
Jesus knew whoseHe was. Before any public ministry, Jesus knew whoseHe was. He was the Beloved Son in Whom the Father was well pleased.
It’s also interesting, Jesus had a custom. He often slipped away to the Mt. of Olives to be… in the Presence of His Father. Life flowed from the overflow. He didn’t meet with the Father for the overflow. He met with the Father simply to be…His Son, to enjoy His relationship with the Father. Everything flowed from His sense of being the Father‘s Son.
He lived out of His empowered Being. He was secure. He was humble. He was loving.
John 13:3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Jesus modeled the principle. We follow. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, lives within us and is with us, He empowers us to Be.
We wrapped up Tornado furniture moving with a mega move on December 14th.
Fifty-three families received new couches, tables and chairs, dressers and house goods.
$20,000 was gifted from a few churches to fund the move. We empowered people to help. Our Kelly, EJ and the workers at St. Vincent’s did a great job organizing and loving the people who came to serve. St. Vincent’s people are amazing! They work hard to help people in need. Living City Project was the relief valve for moving furniture from June through December. We helped move four hundred displaced families, most of whom lost everything.
Here’s an article published in the Dayton Daily News.
Dec 17, 2019
By Sarah Franks, Staff Writer
When the last piece of furniture was moved on Saturday, Living City Project had helped over 400 families displaced by the Memorial Day tornadoes into their new homes.
LCP has activated over 12,000 volunteers since the tornadoes tore through the Miami Valley on May 27. The organization serves on the Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Board and, like other Dayton-based and national organizations, has been instrumental in organizing cleanups, helping distribute furniture to hundreds of families and simply making sure tornado victims are not forgotten as 2019 comes to a close.
“What really spoke out to me is they haven’t stopped living,” said Joel Burton, LCP team leader. “They’re going to continue to live, continue to try and pursue normalcy and joy as much as then can. To see them getting ready to decorate that tree tonight is good. That’s more hope than we expect to see. There are neighborhoods right now that aren’t putting up Christmas lights.”
“If today meant anything, it’s a reminder that the community still remembers those that have been impacted,” said Caleb Ingram, LCP executive director. “There was an inventory backup, and we thought we might not get this out till January or February. But we reached out to a number of churches primarily. Some churches donated $20,000 collectively so that we could get this delivery out before Christmas. I think it’s just a reminder to every individual that we’ve gone to over the last six months, that we know that they’re there. We remember that they’re there, and we love them.”
St. Vincent de Paul Dayton has acted as a home base for many of the tornado recovery operations.
“St. Vincent de Paul has also put in funds of their own to make this happen,” Ingram said. “Even the churches that donated, the donations went to St. Vincent so they could bulk order these couches. So the amount of money is a fraction of what it would cost if we went to the store and bought a couch. So funds came in and they would order 100 couches at a time.”
As people impacted by the tornadoes navigate the holiday season under difficult circumstances, Ingram asks them to know that organizations like LCP are not going to quit.
“There’s still more to do, still more to give,” Burton said. “We’re nowhere near done. Every moment like this carries us into the next.”
Hope Church partnered with Gateway Cathedral in Trotwood and gave away thirty $600 gift cards.
Gateway Cathedral sits in the Westbrook Village neighborhood, was in the direct path of the Memorial Day Tornadoes. The Gate served as the distribution hub for the community in the weeks following the storm.
Living City Project had a small yet essential connection. We performed a serving role with Christmas With A Cause. Thrivent, in Tipp City, raised hundreds of presents from the Tipp City School System to provide for the kids of thirty families who attended the evening. The guests knew there was a meal but did not know every child would receive a bag of presents. They also did not know that they would receive a gift card for $600 provided by the Hope Church.
When the meal was over, the Director for the event asked the families if they had a white envelope. Then she asked for others who did not have one to raise their hands. After the envelopes were distributed, she asked the families to open the gift together after a count down. 3… 2… 1… Open!
A sound of wonder began to erupt until the venue was filled with people shouting, crying, jumping up and down, waving their hands, and laughing. I had never been in such an atmosphere filled with so much love and gratitude.
As people walked down the hallway to leave, they received their presents for their children. They overflowed with thanks, and many told us their stories of what they thought was a lost Christmas, now turned into comfort and joy.
Mexico Kids Receive Shoes.
Around one hundred kids gathered to receive new shoes. Upper Room families gave to help the kids in a poor area of Piedras Negras. They need a roof and heaters. Hopefully this summer we will take a team to help build.
I spoke at the Upper Room this past Sunday.
The wonder of Christmas how to keep faith, love and hope alive.
You can watch here.
Phillips Temple is raising Twin Bed Sets for the ladies at the YWCA.
We will be delivering the Twin Sets on December 24. We are excited we have a donation of 100 throw blankets already donated.
We are Re-fired not retired.
Three years ago, we were looking at moving to Pensacola. We were 95% ready to move. We didn’t have peace, so we talked and prayed. Pattie wanted to finish her time at Prass Elementary School and retire at 65. It has been a good plan.
We stayed in the Dayton Area. We did not know we would connect with some amazing people or be working with great churches Phillips Temple and Upper Room. Nor did I know I would have a part to play with Living City Project. Looking back, we can see Jesus is always faithful and true to lead us into the plans and spaces He had for us. We are so grateful!
Your prayers and support are more than appreciated!
We’d value any year-end giving you’d give.