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.