Have you ever had spiritual resistance as you pressed in to the Father’s heart?
I have. Mainly the resistance is found in my thought life.
The thoughts usually tell me who I am not, where I fail, have failed, or the droning you never measure up. Sometimes the thoughts are regrets because of my stupidity in certain past failed situations. In response, I own the thought. Pray, and ask forgiveness. A lot of the time I say out loud, “Not my thought! Get out of here!”
It’s interesting sometimes, my choice of resistance is spiritual ignoring …refusing to acknowledge the enemy or his taunts by shifting my focus. Alexa, play Upper Room Worship Radio.
I occasionally have troubling dreams. When I wake up I refuse to say out loud anything to describe the dream. I simply begin to meditate on, or pray out loud, Psalms 23.
Often resistance is an indication we are on track. It’s why Jude tells us to exercise our faith by, “keeping ourselves in the love of God.” Have you noticed resistance comes from people? This is why we need to keep ourselves in the love of God. Some of my greatest failures were when I focused upon the person, instead of focusing upon the love of My Father, giving Him my hurt and offense. Anger never heals wounds.
Keeping ourselves in His love is something we have to do for ourselves. No one, except you, can keep you, in His love. Your Pastor can’t. Your spouse can’t. Your friends can’t. They can encourage, exhort and comfort, but it’s really up to you and your faith to keep yourself in His love.
Resistance strengthens our Spiritual heart, when you have done all… stand.
Jehoshaphat was told to go stand and see …after they heard the promise …after worshipping together. The next day Jehoshaphat consulted with the people… they decided their best response to the Fathers promise was to give Him worship and praise. As they stood fast and worshiped ….focusing upon… the Father and His promise, their enemy was defeated.
Pause for effect…. They didn’t focus upon their situation, nor upon the enemies threats.
Their decision, in response to the Fathers command “to stand and see” was to worship and praise. Their focus helped them shift their mindsets and to renew their faith in His promises. As they worshipped He brought the victory.
“Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; and he said,
“Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel.
You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”
Their Response to His Promise.
Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. The Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and of the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”
2 Chronicles 20:14-19 NASB
The Next Day
“They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said,
“Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets (His Word) and succeed.”
When he had consulted with the people,
(I often wonder what they talked about.
Hey, you’ve heard His promise for today’s battle. We are to go stand and see what He is going to do when He defeats our enemy. What should we do in response to this wonderful promise and in response to our God, Whose lovingkindness is new every morning?
The people’s response…Let’s worship and give praise! Hey, let’s also dress for the occasion.
Jehoshaphat’s response… sounds good to me!)
Side note: Good leaders trust and include people in the midst of a battle. He didn’t have to consult with the people. He could have given a directive. Jehoshaphat knew he needed to be inclusive in this major life threatening situation.
he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed.”
2 Chronicles 20:20-22 NASB
Tip: Notice where your focus turns when you are in a battle. If you are like me …you will have to consciously shift your mindset and heart. Shift by worshiping, declaring, reading, journaling, and resting in His presence.
Here is a song I sing most days.
You are Faithful and True,
All of your promises speak of You,
You are Faithful and True… O God.
It’s Who You are,
It’s Who You are.
1. Having done all, Stand.
2. Direct worship toward the Father…as you are standing firm, and as you are responding to His nature and to His promises.
Speak / Declare
I also speak out loud as I put on Eph 6 armor and as I stand against.
“Finally, I am strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
I Put on the full armor of God, so that I will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
For my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, I take up the full armor of God, so that I will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
I will Stand firm …therefore…
Usually as I close my ‘stand firm’ worship times… I sing the names of my family, my relatives, the people and leaders within my sphere of influence.
Having done all, Stand Firm! His promises are true!
Urban Church in Warrington, England was flooded when an unexpected storm blew through their area. Their community was also flooded. Many people have now been temporarily relocated and are facing the daunting task of cleaning up their homes and rebuilding. Many lost everything.
Thanks to your generosity Eyesoutward sent $700 to help Urban Church rebuild after the unexpected flood.
Here is a report from Pastor Mike. Our church building sits at the centre of the major flooding in Dallam and Bewsey. The initial panic of the Warrington flood gives way to the steady process of repairing, rebuilding, and recovery across our community. We’ve seen so many step in to feed, clothe and house people. Volunteers have stepped up to help clear flood damaged homes and collect new furniture and appliances for those hardest hit. And many have given financially into the crisis, for which we are all enormously grateful! I want to extend thanks to everyone who has risen to meet the need in these recent days.
If you want to reach your community establish a serving relationship with your area schools.
School Outreach Success
We had an overwhelming response from our area schools.
Last month Grounds For Pleasure Coffee House gave gift cards to every staff person (320) in our school system. The gift card allows staff to receive a free coffee of their choice once a month for a year! (The coffee house is part of the ministry of Upper Room, Tipp City.)
Here are just two notes of the many we received.
Yesterday we created Valentine items for our schools. Balloons, Kisses, Dark Chocolate and Roses. Today the displays are being delivered to the seven school locations for their staff rooms. (COVID friendly: We wore gloves as we prepped the items.)
Saturday We will be taking vases of Roses to our local stores to bring encouragement and pray blessing prayer over their businesses.
We also will be taking snacks, Gatorade and helpful supplies to the Police Departments in our area. We purchased fast drying gel pens, 3X5 notebooks, individually wrapped breath mints and small packs of hand sanitizer.
Sunday, Valentines Day, will be our Kindness To Go Sunday. As people leave they pick up vases of roses to take as a gift to their friends, families, or to people in our community.
I love this time of year. Winter will soon be over… and Valentines Day is when we step into our outreach for the new year. We are very grateful for the Upper Room who empower us to continue to make a difference at our age. I just turned 69.
Thanks for your support and prayer.
Pattie receives her first round of vaccine today.
Practical Planning. How to begin to reach your community.
(The tips are for larger churches… adjust your planning for church or group size. Go, Love, Serve: You will learn most as you go, love, and serve.)
Our communities really do not care about what we believe. They care about how we care. They care about what we do. In other words, your church is defined by your community by what you do, more than being defined by what you say you believe.
Reaching into our community is a process. Everyone starts from where we are with what we have. Effective planning begins with the end in mind.“People who dream of what could be, create what could be.” LB Jones
The question, “What would it look like if we________________?”
One man saw a long and slow traffic line in his community. It formed every day at the same time except on Saturdays. He wondered, “What would it look like if I grabbed a cooler full of cold drinks and went to the car window and offered a drink to the people in the long line of cars?” He acted upon his, “What would it look like?” thought. He bought a roller cooler, soft drinks, and ice. He went to the cars in the long line of traffic and began to hand out the iced drinks. He was surprised! The receiving the drinks people, were grateful and usually asked, “Why are you doing this?” His reply, “I’m just showing you God’s love in a practical way.”
Yesterday I met a pastor who was given a Coke at a street light. The act of kindness so intrigued him he began his journey toward faith. He discovered Jesus.
Questions people often ask are: “Who would do this?” And “Why would anyone do this?”
Unsurprisingly, they most often show up at the church who were loving their community through acts of kindness. Hopefully, the person discovers the people are as kind in their church life as they were out in the community. (Sadly this is not the reality in some church settings.)
Your, “What would it look like if?“… wondering could be, “What would it look like if we serve our community with several simple projects and acts of kindness once a quarter or once a month?”
Tip: Enlisting an admin person is helpful in the planning of the outreach. They are detailed people who often begin developing a concept by beginning with the end in mind.
Start by taking a close look at your community.
If this is your beginning place take a careful look at your community.
What’s going on?
Where do people gather?
What do people do?
How can we serve and love people in practical ways?
Is there a special event where we can serve?
What are the felt needs of our community?
Where should we go?
What can we do?
When would be a good day and time to go, love, and serve?
How can we accomplish what we want to do?
Think: Where can we go to offer acts of kindness which will meet a need and encourage people?
I have a friend who has a church located near the beach. They decided to serve and show kindness to the beach community by giving away small packs of sunscreen and bottles of water to the people walking toward the beach at the entrances of the boardwalks. People were grateful. Their kindness generated conversation. People asked questions and a felt need was met.
How often should we reach out?
It really depends upon what you want to accomplish, and how many people you want to reach. Some churches go out weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Some large movement churches plan a weekend, or a week of kindness/service once a year.
I was on staff at a large African American Church, Phillips Temple in Trotwood, OH. The church is located in a newer building in a depressed area next to all the public schools. Our outreach was usually once a month on a Saturday. Our goal was to create intentional acts of kindness that would lead our people into practicing kindness as a lifestyle.
People in our community like to sleep in on Saturdays, so we decided to meet at 10:30 am and go out into the community at 11 am.
We asked, “What do people not like to do on Saturday?” Wash clothes, pump gas, and wash cars.
We went to the laundromats with quarters and washing pods. We pay for the washing and drying and help fold clothes.
At the Laundromat, we introduce ourselves. “Hi! I’m here to help you today? Here are some quarters and laundry pods.” People usually ask, “Why you are doing this.” We reply, “We are showing you God’s love with no strings attached.” Conversations naturally develop as we hang out, help fold clothes, love people and offer prayer. We discovered prayer is often the connection point that connects the act of kindness to the heart.
The same is true for the car wash. “Hi! We are here to pay for your car wash. We have towels to help dry your car.” Conversations usually flow from the connection of service.
Go to the bus station with water and Gatorade. Offer people waiting for the drinks. You can also offer prayer.
One day we had an amazing time. A young couple came up to us as we were gathered sharing stories about our outreach. They asked, “Is this all you do to help people? We need help with bus fare.” My friend said, We do more come with me and I’ll get you fixed up. I don’t need to hear your story. I’ll buy your ticket and pray for you.”
He bought their ticket and asked, “Why did you ask us?” Their reply, “We saw how you were treating people. We saw you were kind. We thought, ‘If anyone would help us it would be these people.’ Will, you pray for us”
As he prayed for the couple they began to cry. My friend later told me he cried all the way home.
Large groups at events or in a town center.
Fill coolers with ice and water and give the water away. You can use a connect card or a sticker on the bottle. Recently we asked Lowe’s if we could give away water as a community service project. The answer, “Yes, that’s a great thing to do for our customers. Thank you.”
Getting permission from independent gas stations to wash car windshields, clean up the parking lot, and serve their customers. We also give away $5 bills to the first ten or so people who pull in. We say, “Hi. We are here to serve you today. Here’s $5 to help you pay for your gas. Is there anything I can pray with you?” We hand the person a connect card, the $5 bill, and wash the windshield.
We’ve been amazed at the response from the people receiving prayer. Most are deeply touched.
A Lady pulled up the pump. Our team member noticed she was looking for change. She opened the glove box, looked on the floor, under the seats. She got out of the car looked in the back seats. When she was finished looking for change our team member walked up and said, “Hi! We are from Phillips Temple? We are encouraging people today. Here’s 5$ to help.”
The woman immediately fell into the arms of our team member and began to cry. Seems she just left the hospital heading home and needed gas. Her gauge was on empty. Our team member began to pray for the woman. Both were in tears.
Here is the kicker….Two people who had received 5$ walked over and gave their money to the lady.
Kindness, begets kindness!
The lady came for gas she left fully aware of God’s love.
Gift bags to shops.
Small gift bags with granola bars, peanuts, snack crackers, breath mints, etc.
“Hi! We are here to show you God’s love in a practical way. Here is a gift for you and the other workers. Thank you for working in our community. Can we pray for your business?” If yes, we bless the business. We then ask, “Any personal need? “If yes, we pray, if no, we thank them and leave the gift bags.
Bring boxes of good tissues, hand lotion, or small gifts to encourage the staff and the residents. One lady in the home loves our visits. She is grateful for the good tissues, the flowers we bring, and the time we spend with her. She is collecting our connect cards lining them up on her bedside table.
When do you need to announce the planned outreach? Suggestion, 3 weeks out. This means your announcement/design media group and church program group need to have your information at least 3 weeks before the outreach event.
Where can we gather to meet pleasant and large enough for people to feel comfortable? In good weather, some people meet outside.
What kind of environment do you want to create for the people who come to go on the outreach? Fun, Upbeat, Inspiring etc.
When do we need to meet on the day?Tip: Mid to late morning are great times.
Can we have ambient music playing? Will the people gathered be able to hear what we say? If not, we may need a microphone and a PA for sound. If we need sound, will we need a sound person?
Decide what outreaches you will be doing well in advance.
Once decided, order supplies, for each outreach, pick up supplies, and make the supplies ready and available on the day of the outreach. (Work up a timeline for this process. Several people should be involved in the process or know about how the process works.)
Create signs describing the outreach. (landscape paper or A-4 paper will work) Car Wash. Nursing Home, Bus Station, Town Center etc
Create instructions with location or map to each outreach location. i.e. Bus Station use a google map or described location. Instructions should tell people what they will be doing on the specific outreach opportunity. (You can combine Signs and instructions if a small group is anticipated.)
“When you arrive at the bus station gather as a group and pray. Then break up into two’s, when you walk up to people say, “Hi. Would you like water or a Gatorade?“
Begin the conversation by asking, “Where are you going?” Sometimes the act of just handing the person the drink opens the conversation. At the end of the conversation, you can offer to pray by asking, “Is there anything I can pray with you about today?” If yes be sure to pray with your eyes open so you can see what is happening to the person as you pray. Sometimes you can see a deep connection that may have opened a person’s heart to the Good News. Then share the good news!
Set up Day
If possible set up space the day before the outreach gathering. Setting up early removes most of the leader’s stress and allows for a focused and calm spirit on the day of the outreach.
Set up tables, create atmosphere etc.
Have a sign-in table with sign up sheets, pens, sharpies, and name tags.
Place the outreach signs on the tables or use painter’s tape to a wall for people to be able to see the outreach options.
Place the outreach instructions/map, locations on the table. The instructions will tell people what the outreach is, where the outreach will be, what to do on the outreach, and how many people are needed to go on the outreach.
Set outreach supplies on the tables or floor for each of the outreach opportunities of the day. i.e. Gas Station, paper towels, $5 bills in an envelope, and safe for tinted glass windshield spray cleaner.
On the Day
When people arrive. The first person to arrive is now the greeter. If you have a team pre-designate a greeter. The greeter encourages people to sign in and to write their name on a name tag and have a walk around to see the various outreach opportunities. Allow people space to wander about to view the outreach ideas and to think about which outreach they will choose.
Chose leaders. This can be done in your team before the day, or as people arrive for the outreach.
Call people together.
Share what you are doing on the day by mentioning each outreach and the assigned leader.
Tell a story for one thought practical kindness training. ie. Smile! Don’t be so serious. Have fun!
Instruct people to go to the area/table of their chosen outreach and gather as a group. Their leader explains outreach by reading the instruction sheet. Decide on who will drive to outreach. Let them know where the group will meet at the location to touch base before beginning the outreach. i.e. some training may be required. This is how you wash a windshield, or the light turns red then give drink to people in the car, the light turns green stop get out of the street.
Pray as a group. Some people like to pray specifically for glimpses of the area they are going to, or the people they will be talking to. Similar to treasure hunting. They jot down clues or impressions.
GO: Go to location. At location gather, give instructions, pray. The leader lets the owner-manager of the business they have arrived. Hi. We are here to…
Return to home base: People can return supplies, and return to share what they have learned, or they may have a story to tell. Sometimes people then go out for a meal as a group to deepen their community experience.
Tip: If fewer people come than anticipated to the outreach you can easily remove an outreach and focus on the others. Always prepare several outreach projects. You will be able to decide which outreach is most important or if removing an outreach is necessary.
What about service projects?
Service projects build bridges into the heart of our communities.
Service projects involve meeting a specific need of an organization, or a community. Our good deeds create goodwill which builds bridges of influence and connection. Service projects often involve cleaning, landscaping, painting, renewing, building, giving, volunteering, and serving.
School Clean Up Inside And Outside
Painting / Fixing School Playground Equipment
Volunteer As School Mentors, Hall Monitors, Story Tellers, Book Readers, Team Sport Coaches /Helpers
Providing School Supplies And Backpacks
Adopting Families At Christmas For Clothing And Gifts From List, Family Given By School Counselor
Teacher Appreciation Breakfast On Staff Training Day
City Park Clean Up
Serving At A Food Pantry
Serving At A Homeless Shelter
Painting Homes For People In Need
Painting Playground Equipment At Low-Income Apartments
Throw A Party At An Apartment Complex Bouncies, Food, Games, Crafts, Face Painting, Prizes
Trash And Litter Clean-Up In Known Trashed Areas
Providing Shoes And Socks For Kids In Need
Washing Windows / Cleaning Parking Lots Of Businesses
Toilet / Restroom Cleaning
Mowing Grass For People Who Cannot
Hospital Greeters, Hospital Chaplin Helpers, Visit Emergency Rooms With Small Gifts: Water, Coffee, Donuts, Small Packs Of Tissues…
Host Large Community Events: Community Easter Egg Hunts, Creating a Safe Place For Families On Halloween With Games, Food, Crafts and Fun
Free Car Washes (one dollar car washes, the person receives a dollar at the end of the car wash)
Every service project will need planning steps and implementation.
Obviously, key people will need to be contacted, meetings arranged, permission given and a process put into place. Simply being with the end in mind. Form a team, and plan the steps similar to the steps in the first section.
Tips: Go to the community chamber of commerce speak to the Mayor or the person who is responsible for community service. The aim is to discover what they need, and how you can help meet their need. The same is true for reaching hospitals, schools, health agencies, homeless shelters, food pantries, etc.
We went to a large elementary school and asked, “What is your biggest need?” The answer, “Please help us re-paint the school bus arrival and departure letters in the bus pick up drop off area.”
The school is one of the largest elementary schools In Ohio. It has seventeen hundred children attending, mainly bused to the school.
We complied and painted the parking lot with matching A through Z letters. We also cleaned the playground, put up new basketball nets, mulched the playground area, and painted the playground equipment. This small task brought order back into the chaos and made the kids feel better about their playground. We were also asked to remove the bushes from around the building. We removed six dump truck loads of bushes. The school looked better and the trash problem in the bushes fixed. Doing what we were asked to do with excellence opened other kinds of opportunities within the school system.
We hosted a teacher appreciation breakfast on staff in-service training day. The principal stood before a hundred fifty teachers and told the teachers what we had done for the school. She spoke for ten minutes. As the teachers received their gift bags, and their breakfast, many of the teachers said the same thing. “Thank you so much no one has ever done anything like this for us before.”
I was with Caleb Ingram and we were speaking to a large group of young people (20’s early 30′). It felt like a college or a special gathering. We were with a few other people who were on the team.
We then drove to another location to speak. It was my turn. I stood and began to speak about the power of testimony. I started by saying, “I’m the old guy I’m 72 years of age.” Interestingly we had to use our i-phones as our PA system. (I turn 69 this month)
I began to tell them about the sovereign move of the Holy Spirit in Pensacola… Pre-Brownsville. I talked about how hundreds of young people were swept into the Kingdom and how churches were started, small gathering places popped up… like the Upper Room, Yancies Surf Shop Inner Light Bible Study, Open Bible, Charity Chapel, and Liberty Bible College.
No big names… mainly the move happened as young people shared their faith by telling their story and inviting their friends to come and see.
The Bible Is His-Story.
Here are several examples:
A woman at a well
Note: her story created interest, wonder, and intrigue. After Jesus stayed a few days, they no longer just believed because of her story. They heard for themselves. This is the goal. People would hear Jesus for themselves and believe. The story is the spark that causes people to ponder, wonder, and desire to investigate for themselves.
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. NIV
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard forourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” NIV
This is the goal of all stories. People hear Jesus for themselves and believe.
A blind man
Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” NIV
This guy was pressed by their hostile questions, so he shared his story and finally responded… ‘do you want to become his disciple… do you?.’
Peter, John, and Paul
Life experience is what they shared.
Acts 4:20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” NIV
Their opponents, stated, ‘These people have been with Jesus.’
1 John 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we haveseen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched
we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
The life appeared;
we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. NIV
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long-I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” NIV
Note: Paul didn’t get into political posturing, or theological debates, he told his story.
Tell your story it is relevant.
Telling what you have seen, heard, and experienced has amazing power in this generation.
How do you develop your personal story?
Follow these simple steps. Write as you go through the steps. Think about the language. Think about your experience, your situation, your trial, your test. What you have been through, or come through is your life-giving story.
Describe your life before Christ, or during your test, during your trial, or your situation. I was lonely, angry, hurt, unfeeling, guilty, rebellious, a drug user, etc. I was broke, sick, discouraged, bound, depressed, etc.
What circumstance or situation enabled you to consider becoming a Christian or to pray for health, security, healing, etc.? What was your situation? Was it a crisis, an invitation to church, a relationship with another person, a response to a believing friend? Did you attended a church or pray? Were you desperate?
What brought you to the point of commitment, life change, health, or situational change? Describe the process and the moment you asked Jesus to come into your life. We are discovering many people simply pray, ‘Well Lord. Here I am.” Describe the process of your circumstance shifting to bring healing, hope, or freedom.
Describe how you have changed since you became a believer or gained the victory. I was angry now I have peace. I was a thief now I don’t steal. I was sick now I am whole. I was bound now I am set free. I was broke now I have money in the bank.
Write your thoughts in a concise manner so you can remember how to share your story with another person.
Usually, when I teach on the topic in a group setting, I encourage the people present to share their stories with one another within 1 to 3 minutes. After the sharing time I ask, ‘How many of you were touched by what you heard?’ and ‘How many of you were encouraged by what you shared?’ In almost every instance, every person responds in the affirmative.
I’ve discovered that many people are interested in reading or hearing my story. I cannot ever remember a time when the story of my journey of faith was not fitting to a situation.
(Remember your story is updated by your experience and by your journey of faith.)
Your personal story is one of the most powerful assets you have.Your story can impact the people in your sphere of influence.Your testimony tells the story of how you came to know Jesus Christ.Your story is a reflection of your changed life.
Over the years people have attempted to say my relationship with Jesus is just a figment of my imagination, somehow I thought myself out of my situation and the power of positive thinking alone is what changed my life.
However, my life-story reveals a life that declares much more.Jesus as Savior is my reality.I am not the same person; I have been born again.My story of a changing life reveals this truth.
The Bible is the story of men declaring what they had seen and experienced in the Old and New Testaments.Peter, on the day of Pentecost, declared,
“This (what you see and hear) is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.(a demonstration of what God said would happen)” (Acts 2:16, NIV)
The disciples had experienced a powerful infilling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.Peter was testifying to this fact.His explanation was the testimony / the story of his experience.The early disciples declared to the opposing religious leaders of the day,
“We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20, NIV)
They encountered Jesus and were living a Spirit-led life.They heard His words and had also participated in His wonderful deeds.
His words and His works are what they proclaimed.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.And our fellowship is with (not was with) the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:13, NIV)
The religious leaders of the day had noted the disciples were unlearned men but they also noted something else—these men had been with Jesus.Something about their words and their lives revealed this reality.
When Paul was confronted by the skeptics of his day, his defense was not to begin a great theological debate.He simply gave his testimony, he told his story.(See Acts 22 and 26.)
As a matter of fact, his story had such power upon King Agrippa, the King himself exclaimed,
“Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28 NIV)
The gospels and the Book of Acts are written testimonies, stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.They wrote about what they had seen and heard.
In John 4, John noted Jesus revealing three key
1.The principle of progressive revelation.
2.The power of story.
3.The principle of sowing and reaping.
In the chapter, we see the impact one woman’s story had upon an entire town.Jesus was speaking with a woman at a well.As He spoke with the woman she received more than she bargained for.She was looking for water; she received a revelation.The revelation of who Jesus really was the water that changed her life.As the conversation developed, Jesus encouraged the woman to go and bring her husband.
“I have no husband.”, she replied.
Jesus said to her,
“You are right when you say you have no husband.The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.What you have just said is quite true.”
I laugh at her understatement, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.”
At the end of the conversation, Jesus plainly told the woman He was the Christ.
Here’s the progression:
She first saw Jesus as a nice Jewish man.
Next, she defined him to be a religious person.
She questioned the where of worship.
He explained worship was not defined by where a person worshiped.True worship was defined by the Who and how a person worshiped, this is what was most important.
Then he revealed knowledge about her life.She knew he had no way of knowing anything about her, so she perceived him as a prophet.
Finally, as the light of revelation entered her heart she responded by boldly asking Him if He was the Christ.His affirmative answer revealed who He really was.
She was so moved by the insightful encounter, she left her waterpot, went back to her town and told her story to the men of the city.She said,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29, NIV)
Jesus had not told her everything she had ever done, but just enough to let her know, he knew her.Her simple story had power.All the men of the city came out to see Jesus.
The result.“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him.”…and then they asked Jesus to stay.He stayed and interacted with them for two days.Because of their encounter, many became believers.
They said to the woman “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know/believe that this man is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:3942, NIV)
Her simple “come and see a man, could He be?” story had the power to draw the people of the city toward Jesus.Then as they were drawn to Jesus they were able to hear for themselves, and hearing Jesus for themselves, they believed.The whole region was transformed.
Your story and my story has this kind of if-it-happened-for-you, maybe-it-can-happen-for-me kind of power.
Your story can ignite faith in someone’s heart and draw people toward Jesus.In the same manner, as the people hearing Jesus for themselves your story may prompt the person to listen, and to hear Him for themselves… they may then believe.
This is the main purpose of all of our stories—people would hear for themselves and by hearing, they would believe and come to saving knowledge of the mercy and truth found in Jesus.
Many people think, “I wasn’t a Hell’s Angel.I never did drugs or got drunk.I didn’t hang out with people who did.What kind of testimony can I possibly have?I’m just a normal person.”Well, there are a whole lot of normal people out there who need to hear Jesus can save normal people just like you.
Your personal story has the power to change a life.
Your story is powerful.
Don’t listen to any lie that tells you your story isn’t valuable.You are unique and have unique circumstances.The people we want to reach are also unique.Our stories somehow connect to the heart and inspire people to move forward.
The best person to help another person is a person who has been through what someone else is now going through.
I was checking out at a grocery store.The lady checking my groceries was friendly.I mentioned I was heading out to visit my grandkids.She told me she was raising her grandkids.Intuitively I knew the reason.
I asked, “Why are you taking care of your grandkids?”She told me her daughter was in rehab and attempting to kick her drug habit. I briefly told her I understood.I was a person who made it.I had overdosed more than once.Jesus had changed my life.I told her if He could help me, He could He help her daughter.
I asked if I could pray for her and her daughter.More than grateful she agreed.I prayed a short prayer and again encouraged her, “If Jesus could set me free, He could set her daughter free.”We prayed. Hope flowed.That is the power of testimony.He did it once, He can do it again!
Here are a few helpful steps to help as you develop your personal story.
What was going on in your life before you gave your heart to Jesus?I was angry, hurting, disillusioned, sad, aimless, etc.
How did you begin to change and move forward toward faith?What was the process?What were you thinking, feeling?I felt discouraged, fragmented.I knew something was missing from my life.I began to think about my life where I was going; what I was doing.Someone told me about Jesus.Then…
When did you invite Jesus to come into your life?Be specific.
How is your life different now?
Also, our story is always changing.Daily Jesus meets our needs, heals our bodies, forgives our sins, provides for us, protects us, and speaks to us.As He lives with us and in us our lives change and our prayers are answered.We are growing from faith to faith.Our stories reflect our current reality.
When speaking to pre-Christians I often tell them I refused to acknowledge God as being a personal God who had a purpose and a plan for my life.I tried to find some convincing evidence so I could deny His existence.I wanted to deny His existence so I could live like I wanted to live and do what I wanted to do.I did not want to become accountable to a God who might be out there somewhere.The wisdom of men, more specifically, my logic, was foolishness to God.
Now I have come to know Him, I have been gathering a history of consistent evidence.He indeed does exist.He is very interested and active in my life.I testify to this reality by telling people what Jesus has done for my family and me.I tell them about the provision I have received at just the right moment, the healing I have experienced, the sins have been forgiven and the words I’ve heard Him speak.
Because He is a living reality I am learning to walk with Him on a daily basis.My current life story declares to all who will listen, my God is much more than some mystical idea or an impersonal force somewhere out there.My life declares His interest, His concern, His love, and His reality.It is Good News.Every person who knows Jesus can openly testify to this truth.He is changing us.
What’s your story? On a blank page take a few minutes and outline your story.
Every year in January I spend time thinking about the next year’s outreach.
I use a tool I call the Outreach Clock to help.
This is the one we are currently working on.
Kindness -to-go allows people to pick up items as they leave the building. They take the item and give it to a family member, someone they care about, or to people who serve them. They then can explain why they are encouraging them. Sometimes they can share the good news and pray for the person. Reaching our community also allows for positive connection points. Serving a school system is one of the best connection points within our community. See www.kindnesstogo.com
The clock is mainly used for church-wide outreach. Everyone can participate at some level. I think about and jot down what we did the previous year.
What nudged our people outward?
What touched our community?
What had traction?
What was fun?
How many seeds were sown?
I also think seasonal, and holidays. I also seek to be consistent by planning monthly outreach.
Planned outreach opportunities nurture organic outreach awareness. Planned church-wide outreach equips people to go, love, and serve others.
Planned outreach creates space where people can practice loving, praying, communicating, and serving others.
Last year we received a lot of positive feedback from our Drive-Through Food Giveaway, Thanksgiving Dinners to the less served, and Christmas for Families within our school system.
Our people were energized, prayed for a lot of people, and sowed hundreds of positive connective seeds. Everyone could play at some level.
You may also want to nurture groups like Young Adults, Teens, Men’s, Women’s.
“What does being on mission look like in your context? “What could you create to reach our community?” “Where could you plug in to love and serve?”
Outward-focusedness is not a natural response of the human heart. The naturally focused heart left to itself very quickly turns inward.
Planning and intentionality creates space to help move our hearts upward and outward.
A friend of mine noticed her heart becoming cold and hard. She realized she had not served, nor cared for anyone in quite a while. She prayed asked for grace and mercy to fill her heart. She then became intentional. She purchased a large box of freezer bags. She purchased items, wash-clothes, socks, wet wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, gloves, and small bars of soap. She placed the items in the bags and took a few of the filled bags with her as she went to work. She gave them away to people in need. She prayed for the people and listened to their stories. She noticed her heart-changing, becoming softer and filled with love and hope. She sent a picture similar to this one.
Our Christmas outreach to the less served in our community was a huge success! We were amazed by the generosity from so many!
One couple purchased two pairs of underwear and two packs of socks. Another family purchased enough items to fill five full bags. Everyone who gave a little or gave a lot were grateful they were able to touch a family in need.
One woman met Jesus and was baptized in November. She encouraged her place of work to step up to help purchase shoes for kids. She returned with two bags of shoes, one for boys and one for girls. She was so excited!
The teachers and counselors gladly received our gifts for their families in need. We are praying we will have more influence to serve our schools in our area. Over the years I’ve noticed school systems are very open to church people to come and serve. The relationship usually begins by meeting a small need.
Good deeds, creates good will, that opens hearts to the good news.
Rusaw The Externally Focused Church.
Two organizations that help moms and kids in need received much more than they were expecting.
Pattie and I are grateful we are able to be in a place which gives us space to encourage people to be salt and light in our world. Their generosity and love for our community is so encouraging.
Thanks Upper Room Worship Center and all who have supported us over the years!We are very grateful!
I went to Scotland after graduating from Liberty Bible College, Pensacola.
My pal, Thom Raller, encouraged me to go beyond my shores and to invest my life in the people of Scotland. I went for a three month time period. I ended up staying for eighteen years. I had the privilege of working with Thom for more than a decade. Thom and Ruth established a great church in Inverness. https://kingsinverness.com
I flew Freddy Laker Airways with a cheap one-way ticket and $60 in my pocket.
I lived in Pensacola the temperature was 105 degrees. When I arrived at my YWAM base in Hawick, Scotland, it was 50 degrees.
I jumped off the bus, grabbed my bag, and promptly ripped the outside of my hand up the outside of my thumb on a piece of jagged metal. I thought, “Welcome to Scotland. What a way to start. Burrrr!” I still have the scar. We grew vegetables and ate a lot of carbs. The girls gained weight and the guys lost weight. I loved the sense of community we had together as a motley crew. It was exciting to travel around the nation.
It rains in Scotland.
One day I went out to harvest our potatoes. It was lightly raining. I was digging into the rich black muddy soil. As I harvested the potatoes and filled my wheelbarrow I began to think about my scenario. I had graduated from Bible College earning a BTH and here I was on a cold, dark, rainy day, digging potatoes. I was covered with mud. I was shivering from the cold, and I had a couple of hours left to complete my task.
As I continued to muse on my situation I suddenly stood up and thew the wheelbarrow down scattering the potatoes all over the ground. I looked up into the rain and shouted, “God! I have a Bachelor of Theology Degree! Here I am digging potatoes in a muddy field! What are you doing?”
In an instant I heard, “I am shaking all of your head knowledge into heart knowledge.”
I was stunned! I was also fearfully humbled by His quick response.
I sheepishly picked up the wheelbarrow and all of the potatoes. I continued digging potatoes with a much different attitude.
Seems our Father is always looking at our attitude. Maybe that’s why the saying, “Attitude determines your altitude” is so true.
I remembered the words of Jesus, “The greatest would be the servant of all.” “The Son of man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life for others.”
Over the years I’ve had to revisit the digging potatoes lesson. I’ve discovered there are always digging potatoes times and seasons.
During one humbling season, I literately got into my car and yelled, “God what are you doing?” Instantly I heard, “Come and worship.” I pulled my car over and went into our worship space. I grabbed my guitar and began to worship. As I worshiped I began to see a glimpse of Jesus and His humility. He was with His Father in creation flinging galaxies into motion, yet He continually humbled himself. He became a man obeying His Father’s will …completely. His whole life on earth was a life of servant-hood and humility. From His birth in a stable, to His death upon the cross, He humbled Himself.
That day in the big room my life changed. I began to become more grateful for my humbling experiences.
What was the issue? My pride. My lack of gratitude. I now look back and wish I had a redo to have refocused differently during that season.
There are always seasons of digging potatoes.
Recently I was working for a non-profit for several months. One of my main morning jobs was to drive the gator through the parking lot cleaning up trash bags, poop-filled diapers, human waste, soggy wet clothing, COVID masks, hundreds of cigarette butts, etc. (yes I wore Nitrate gloves!)
On myfirst day on the gator I laughed and said. “I’m digging potatoes again.”
I made it my goal that day to have the best looking parking lot in Dayton.
I’ve discovered you can do anything for the Glory of God… if you humbly remember whose you are… digging potatoes.
I’ve been kicking up my study of Faith. I’m leaning into His love by stimulating my hope.
Jesus once stated,”When the son of man returns will He find faith upon the earth?” Luke 18:8
I think the above statement is connected to another statement,“The love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12
I believe the key to keeping faith and love flowing is to actively nurture our hope.
Hope is our connection which stimulates our faith and empowers our love.
Hope is the confident expectation of good to come.
Hope is our anchor.
“…we have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and reliable (steadfast) and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us. Hebrews 6:18-20 NASB
How do we renew/maintain/kick–up our hope? Here are a few tips.
Read great books that stimulate faith. I’m currently re-reading Effective Faith by J.O. Sanders of OMF. It’s a classic. I’m taking notes and researching new definitions of Veracity, Repose, Validity of God’s character, promises, and action.
Practice gratitude and thankfulness. This practice energizes our hope. Practice by giving thanks often.
Serve others who are less fortunate than yourself. See video.
Set aside time for prayer, worship, and to rest in His presence.
Turn off the news.
Remind yourself of His truth. Words, principles, and encouragements He has spoken to you. Grab a journal and pen. Write short thoughts about His truth that He encouraged you to believe. Example:
His promise of salvation is more powerful than my performance. I am saved by grace and grace alone.
The Father has lavished His love upon me through His Son.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Nothing can separate me from His love.
My future will be greater than my past. Keep writing to stir up your memory. Now read out loud what you have written.
Here is a short video about helping the less served in our community. Click link below.
When I sense a need to increase my faith I read J.O. Sanders Effective Faith.
(His great little book is out of print. I did copy a few chapters of his book to have a reminder of the importance of exercising our faith.)
This is a new season. Exercising our faith is imperative. Below is an excerpt from his book.
Fear and faith are spiritual incompatibles.
So much so that one can survive only at the expense of the other.
When faith in God enters the list, fear is routed. The presence of fear is unmistakable evidence of the absence of faith.
Between them, there is no such thing as peaceful coexistence.
Fear is acutely infectious.
It was craven fear that inspired the ten spies to present their adverse report on the promised land. ‘We saw the giants’ … We were as grasshoppers, and the people wept that night.’
It was robust faith which enabled Caleb and Joshua to table the challenging minority report, “Let us go up at once and possess it … we are well able to overcome … the Lord will bring us into this land … neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us… the Lord is with us, fear them not.’
Their faith measured the opposing forces, not by their grasshopper strength, but by the omnipotence of their God.
Faith too is infectious.
It was in faith that Amram and Jochebed hid Moses for three months, ‘and they were not afraid of the kings’ commandment.’
Their supernatural faith overcame their natural fear.
The faith of his parents was communicated to Moses by precept and example.
Small wonder that it banished his fear.
‘By faith, Moses forsook Egypt not fearing the wrath of the king.’ ( Hebrews 11″23, 27)
Moses, in-turn, endeavored to teach Israel the dominance of faith over fear.
Unfortunately, ‘The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. (Hebrews 4:2,1)
Many years ago while living in Scotland, I heard a well known pastor speak about how he developed his personal time with Jesus. He consistently worshiped and prayed. Out of his overflow he wrote several notable songs which were sung all over the world.
When he moved to pastor his new church he often walked around his big room(his church worship center area) to worship and pray. One day he sensed a dark area in one portion of the room. It was a space that just didn’t feel right nor good.
He heard the Lord whisper, “Just keep worshiping.” So he continued to go into the room and worship, one day he noticed the dark space was gone and the sense of heaviness had lifted. He asked the Lord what happened to the presence he felt? He sensed this reply, “Darkness cannot exist in the Light.”
He had not addressed the darkness or the sense heaviness directly, He just kept worshiping and one day it left.
Here’s what he discovered.
God is light, and as we worship, the God of Light enters our space and darkness flees.
He noted, “We don’t always have to address the darkness, we just need to be the worshipers the Father seeks. As we worship Light comes and darkness flees. We don’t worship with the intent of removing the darkness, we simply worship focusing upon Jesus and the Father takes care of the rest. True worship is always for God, and for God alone.”
He also shared that he believed that as we worship alone or together, we create pinpoints of light that reach up to Heaven. As we touch the Father’s heart Light / Presence appears.. He noted, “Worship can change the atmosphere in a church, or over a town, or a city as heaven touches earth. I agree.
Pattie and I are very cautious about singing songs as warfare directed toward the enemy. He wants attention. Remember, he was the worship leader. He wants attention anyway he can receive it.
We believe who we focus upon as we worship is important. As Jesus is lifted up, and as we focus upon Him to honor Him, and to glorify Him His presence fills our hearts and our space.
Simply stated…Light dispels darkness.
Have you ever experienced going into a kitchen at night and switching on the light and seen the roaches scurry away?
Sue Rinaldi is a brilliant worship leader from England. She travels around the world leading worship in churches and conferences. She once stated, “Worship is the scene of His appearing.”
We don’t worship to gain God’s favor, or so we will have power encounters with people, or to defeat our enemies. We worship Him only… simply because we want to know what it is to love God from our hearts and to receive more of His love. Our personal worship time is our time investment we are choosing to make toward Him. As a by product, we are refreshed as we receive His love and grace as we experience His presence as He leans toward us.
Over the years I have sought to go there, to sit on the stage, to walk around the chairs, to worship, pray and to receive. Being there, in the big room, reminds me of the greatness of God and reminds me of the people who come and worship with us.
Often I sing new songs directed toward His heart. Sometimes they include appeals for mercy, grace, greater healing. Usually at the end of my time I ask for His presence to be manifest in our worship space on weekends and in my heart.
City Wide Worship Brings Heaven To Earth.
What Caleb Ingram Declare and others in the Dayton area have accomplished for our community in worship has done much more than we realize. Worship has literally circled our community. Thousands of believers have worshiped together.
What Sean Feucht Let Us Worship is accomplishing much more than we realize. Heaven is touching earth. Sometimes I ask people to pray let heaven come to this earth. I ask them to put their hand on their heart and say… This earth. Worship is the scene of His appearing.
Pinpoints of Light… Worship Is!
Why not position yourself to go there to your place, wherever your place is? Go with a hunger and thirst for more, spend time in worship, and rest in His Presence. It’s what is most important.
2013 was a big year for serving the community. When I was with the Dayton Vineyard we touched hundreds of families at Thanksgiving.
It’s a great example of how any church can serve, love, and care for their community at Thanksgiving.
Why I Turkey…
I often ask the question, How can you know and see need unless you position yourself to venture out into your community? The answer, you can’t.
How do you learn to serve? By serving.
How do you learn to love? By loving.
How do you learn to care? By going and seeing with your heart.
How do you learn to pray? By praying.
What we do is not rocket science by any means, it’s just faith that works through love.
Going, seeing, serving, and praying for others is really the only way to receive a personal ah-ha moment. Going, serving, and loving often is the catalyst that sparks a greater commitment toward personal outward involvement, lifestyle change, and thankful gratitude.
Someone asked me: How do you serve the less served week in and week out, it must affect you?
I answer, Jesus said the poor you will have with you always, so I understand whatever I do in a small way, or in a great way, is good enough. I can’t possibly meet every person’s need, but I can stop for the one and pray.
Going out into our community also helps keep me grounded, humbled, and personally grateful for all I have received… like the ability to pay my bills, to have heat, to have running water, to have clothing, to have a family that is somewhat normal, and to have great relationships.
It’s why I Turkey.
Church gives away 500 Thanksgiving dinners
Volunteers surprise families with meal deliveries.
By Mark Gokavi, Staff Writer 12:05 AM Sunday, November 20, 2011
BEAVERCREEK — About 500 families got a knock on the door Saturday morning and received a free Thanksgiving dinner.
The Vineyard Church of Dayton and Beavercreek packed and delivered that many meals to families in Fairborn, Xenia, Huber Heights and Centerville as part of their “Turkeys Giving Away Turkeys” initiative.
Organizer Steve Bowen said hundreds of volunteers put together packages including a frozen turkey, corn, green beans, yams, cranberry sauce, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, rolls and more.
“To see the look on somebody’s face when you show up with a complete dinner and they didn’t know where their food was going to come from, it’s hard to believe,” said Scott Sliver, one of the pastors at The Vineyard.
The Vineyard also delivers regular groceries to families in need in Huber Heights, Fairborn, and Dayton which is a program they help other groups with each month.
“The face of the poor is changing around town,” Sliver said. “It’s really hit the middle class pretty hard.”
We had a blast serving those in need by giving away the 550 turkey dinners.
The people who served were surprised, encouraged and in some cases moved to tears. God space was created by the simple act of kindness. People were able to show care to the person served: by having a listening ear, which often led to giving loving hugs, and significant prayer.
How your church can to participate:
Join together as a family, friends, or a small group to fill up the IKEA bag (we used boxes for several years) located at the exits around the building with items listed below.
Turkey Dinner List.
2 Cans Corn
2 Cans Green Beans
1 Large Can Yams
1 Can Cranberry Sauce
1 Box Au Gratin Potatoes
1 Box Brownies
2 Boxes Mac and Cheese
1 Dinner Bag Rolls
1 Box Stuffing Mix
1 FROZEN Turkey!
If you are going on the outreach…Please leave your dinner in your car then come into our main room for instructions.
Not going on the outreach, and you only want to participate by donating a turkey
dinner …Please drop the dinner off at 9am.
One mom and daughter had just moved in the day before. They were going out to sell some households so that they could purchase needed items for their Thanksgiving day dinner. They were more than surprised when they received the dinner offered for free.
One of our team members was so moved by what he saw in one apartment that he ran back to the truck to pick up a boxed dinner for a lady who only had ice cubes in her fridge. He then spent time caring for her, listening to her story, and praying for her needs.
Another family who served had just delivered their turkey and went back to the truck to grab a dinner for another person in need. When they arrived they realized there were no more dinners, so they went to Kroger and purchased a full dinner for a grateful family.
Several families who served were not aware of people in such need within their very community. They were surprised, glad they could help, yet at the same time upset by what they saw. They also came away from the experience more personally grateful and thankful.
Hope is so needed for so many today. A few years ago I was at my lowest point ever. Looking back I’m amazed I had taken so long to regain mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health.
All that happened was due to my own failure to read my gauges. The reality… I had arrived at this low point because of my poor decisions, and my fears.
Rebuilding does take time. Much more time than I had ever imagined. Recovery, I think is sometimes like that. We are complex beings.
In the process, I developed a few practices/tools to help nudge the process along.
I’m not the same person I was even a year ago.
The test provided testimony to God’s grace and His re-establishment of hope in my life.
Some thoughts on regaining hope.
We went through a season ~ two years ~ learning to rebuild our hope. I had lost hope and when you lose hope your heart becomes sick and needs healing. I discovered hope is the connector to Faith and to Love. Hope is the active power that ignites Faith and Love within a heart.
Without hope it is hard to receive or to give love, and to exercise faith.
I began to apply a few principles, leaned into friends, received some counseling, and yes, failed often. Panic attacks, miss-communications, and feelings of loss of identity all had shifted to the negative. Gratefully a few people helped me pick up the pieces.
Here’s how I began to recover.
1. I had to change my thinking.
I had a friend who encouraged me with straight speaking. “Steve you will have a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t change you will crash and burn.”
His gift, Steve Backlund’s book Victorious Mindsets, helped me begin to shift negative thinking. I began to practice positive thinking in spite of anxiety/panic attacks. Bringing thoughts under control helped me realize which thoughts were not mine. Often I’d declare that’s not my thought. Leave in Jesus’ name!
I began to guard my mind as my mindset slowly shifted.
I read the Bible a lot. I also used my journal to write passages which spoke to my heart. I understood I needed the washing of His words.
Ephesians 5:26 NASB Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.
I knew my brain is not just an organ, but part of my make up as a human. Within my body resides my mind, will, spirit, and emotions. We are body, soul, and spirit inter-connected each part assisting or influencing the other. I decided to continue to exercise, eat better, and manage my sleep.
Proverbs 23:7 Says… as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
Ephesians 4:23 NASB encourages us to berenewedin the spirit of our mind. Sometimes we need to put on a new helmet of Salvation. Acknowledging the reality of our salvation protects our minds. I was saved, I am in the process of being saved, and I will be saved. Also, Sozo means being made new spirit, soul, and body.
Romans 12:1-2 NASB Encourages…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so thatyou may prove what the will of God is, that which isgood and acceptable and perfect.
I had to repent. Repentance means to change your mind/thinking, which—has the fruit of changed behavior going in a different direction. Walking forward in the best direction.
The night seasons were especially difficult. Psalms 23 and Psalms 27 became my nightly meditation and my confession.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalms 27:13
2. I had to change my speech. I listened to worship and I worshiped more. One man once stated, “If you don’t know what to do… worship!“
I sang from my heart sometimes for hours. I believed I was receiving more than I could ever realize. This required making room in my week to intentionally position myself to worship, read, declare, and pray.
I attempted to watch what I said. Most of the time I had to guard what I said about myself. I had to make new declarations about who I was and who I was becoming. I also had to forgive myself and a few others.
3. I had to keep myself in the love of God.
I understood. Pattie, my wife, couldn’t keep me in the love of God. My friends could not keep me in the love of God. No pastor or leader could keep me in the love of God. I had to keep myself in the love of God.
Jude 1:21 NASB “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.“
I began to read and write passages that spoke of the love of God. I lived in 1 John.
I realized people could splash love upon me, but the love of the Father has greater love, a lavished love.
I often leaned in, positioned myself to receive His love.
4. I realized hope is a person. His name is Jesus.
He is the hope of Glory. He is the anchor within the veil. He is the one who comes to bring the Fathers love and hope.
I wrote a few songs. No one has ever heard the songs except Pattie.
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.I pour contempt upon all my pride, I run into You and hide.
Jesus is the Hope of the Nations. He is the One Whom I can run into and hide.
When I look to the cross I see His love and His humility. His love for everyone to see. God became man in the flesh. He was crucified. Buried and has risen. He is Jesus the risen One.
This Jesus is our restorer, our redeemer, our peace, our wisdom, our healer, our deliverer.
Spirit-led evangelism. Leaning into practicing hearing the voice of the Lord. Impressions, what we see, what we hear, noticing, being aware, open for business everyday, and a willingness to take risks are part of Spirit-led evangelism.
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts.” Proverbs 8:34 NASB
Simply put, “Jesus I am open to hear your voice today. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to believe. Help me to have the wisdom to respond to you as I go about my day. Lead me, guide me empower me. Help me to see what you see and to hear your voice today. Thank you!”
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.