Saturday, August 13, 2011

This is Just the Beginning......

I have a burden

and it's for churches in America.

Somewhere down the line we started missing the point.

My heart has been heavy over this matter for several years.

Churches are bigger than ever, yet we are farther from God.

What has gone wrong?

Many things.....

Discipleship, for one.

We are to make disciples, not converts

Yet, we fail to disciple new believers in our churches today.  We are missing it!

We are missing what matters most.  Our priorities are wrong.

Our people are not in the Word of God, nor being taught how to study the Word of God.

I just completed leading an inductive study on Philippians with a group of  ladies at our church.

Just about everyone in that group had NEVER studied the Word of God like that.....just digging in to the Scriptures.  Using God's Word as their Bible study book.  Digging into Truth for themselves and discovering the promises and commands of God for themselves.

Amazing.  But even more so was the response I got from this study.......They LOVED it!!!!

Women got excited about what God showed them through His Word.  They saw things they had never  noticed before.....and they don't want to stop.

How I pray that we will desire the Word of God......daily!

But sadly, most Christians today rarely open the Bible other than Sundays.  They are not teaching God's Word in their homes.  This grieves my heart.  It's not the church's responsibility to teach our children.....It's OURS.

Do you find it appalling that most of what we consider our "mature" Christians in our churches today have never studied the Word of God on their own, nor do they have a passion for The Word?

No wonder we don't look any different than the world.

This has been a process........over 5 years of God speaking to my heart and through His Word.  Just now am I ready to start writing down these things..............

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Can't Stop Thinking About Him

His name is Kevin and he's 43 years old.  He is originally from Gary, Indiana and has twin 13 year old children, a boy and girl.  Their names are Kevin Jr and Destiny.

My family met Kevin on the streets of downtown Atlanta.  We were staying in a hotel that had a Starbucks in the lobby.  As we waited in a long line of people this past Saturday morning, we were divinely lead to step out of line and go look for a bakery I had noticed on our way in the day before.  As we crossed the street I noticed a black man in front of me my kids were about to run over.  He tried to step to the side, out of their way, and we spoke.

He was kind and friendly.  Kevin asked us if we were going to the Aquarium and we told him we were not, only heading to the bakery around the corner for breakfast.  We chatted as we walked up the street.  Then as we approached the corner, Kevin got a serious and almost embarrassed look on his face.   He then asked us if we could get him some food because he had not eaten in a day and a half.

Our family joyfully asked Kevin to join us for breakfast.  I told Kevin that I believed God directed our steps and put us just where we needed to be.  He said he shared that belief, too.

As we sat down to eat our family joined hands with Kevin, my youngest sitting beside him, held his hand and then blessed our meal.  Six year olds pray the sweetest prayers.  Especially, this sweet child who has such a passion for the homeless.  Only he did not realize at that time that he was sharing a  meal with a man who had no home.

That meal was the sweetest meal I've ever had.  The time spent with Kevin was too short.

Our children got to know Kevin and he asked them questions about what they liked to do.  We got to hear his story and he was interested in our family.  Chuck spent some time talking quietly with Kevin as I chatted with the kids.   Again, we heard how hard it is when you  are living as Kevin does.  You are not really looked at as a person with value. People avoid you in every way.   Being looked down on is painful.  We had heard this same story from Kenny, another man we met on the streets of Atlanta in May.

Kevin was articulate and smart.  He has hit hard times and he is trying to find a way out.  It is a struggle when you are already down.   But he has hope.

As we visited with this man who obviously did not blend in with my very WHITE family, we got noticed.  And that was a good thing!

Conversations sprung up all around us.  Only God could do this thing.  It just didn't make sense but it was beautiful.

People who probably would have never talked to us DID.   I had on my Compassion t-shrit and the couple next to me couldn't figure it out so they asked me what my shirt was about.  I gladly shared about Compassion and all that they do....and our sweet Marta that we sponsor.  This couple was very interested and said they would be looking it up online.  Then our waitress, Sherri, spent time talking with us.   As Kevin sat outside talking with my children, ( yes, I left the kids with him while I refilled my coffee cup...but I could see them), Chuck was able to share with Sherri.  She is a believer but her past has her bogged down in shame.  (Boy can I so many years ago).  She was encouraged in that conversation to come as she was and find a place to worship.....and hopefully grow in the Lord who can heal all her wounded places.  God used Kevin to get all this started!

As I came back from refilling my coffee cup I paused at the door and just watched my children talking and laughing with Kevin.  It was a sweet scene.  I just took it in.  They were so comfortable and so was he.

As we parted we were able to throw our arms around Kevin and pray for him.   Then we said goodbye.

Every time we eat, we pray for Kevin, that he will have food.  When we go to sleep, we pray for Kevin, that he will have a place to sleep.  I pray God will work in his life and provide for him all he needs.

I can't stop thinking about him.  Here I sit in my cozy home, but how many people like Kevin are out there unsure of where their next meal will come from or where they will lay their head?  So many are like Kevin, good people who have hit hard times.

It makes you wish you could do more.   But what can we do?  We can obey when God puts opportunity right in front of us.  We can give freely with joy to those who have needs.  We can stop being so focused on our wants and start being aware of the needs of others around us.  We can get out of our comfort zones and step into someone else's world.   We can live with reckless abandon in obedience to Christ.  We can be willing to do things that might seem "uncool" to our friends or even our culture.  We can be WILLING.....and available!

There's a lot we can do.  I pray we will.   Because I can't stop thinking about him.