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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How do you not forget? - Part 4

This is the last part in my series of posts stemming from an email from a friend asking me, "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" My first two principles had to do with how I approach my life. It is key to realize that my life is hidden with God in Christ and that in him I live and move and have my being. These form a foundation so that I can build the spiritual practices I enumerated in parts 2 & 3. But now the principle I want to briefly talk about here in part 4 deals with time.

One of the distinctives of our modern existence is that we no longer have "any time" for truly important things. Our lives are busy. Quite frankly, we are to busy caught up in so many things. My life is full. I commute 2 hours a day. I am at work 9 hours. I personally answer all calls to Common Heart and respond to emails. Most Saturday mornings I help out at the cupboard, deliver groceries, or lead outreaches. I have friends I visit, write, call, try to stay in contact with. I have two active boys that I endeavor to love, spend time with and bring up in the Lord. I love my wife and spend time with her talking about the day, our plans, our life together, I volunteer at church. Yet, I still daily and regularly spend time with Jesus. One key is my daily rhythm I shared in part 2, but the main thing I do is I endeavor to "redeem my time".

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17
Time belongs to God. He is the Lord of time, the Lord of my time. This includes time I spend waiting on line. The time I spend walking back to the shop to check on a project at work are included as well. It includes each moment I use up muttering impatiently as I wait at a stop light. It includes time spent on cleaning, grooming, and necessities. I have found that I can redeem those mundane moments by, as the NIV translates Eph 5:16 ,"making the most of every opportunity".

For instance, I have been known to read my Bible while I wait on hold on making a phone call to a prospective customer. I actually once meditated on Psalm 23 while having a cavity filled. It sheds new light on "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" as the dentist drills out a cavity.

These verses are about much more than just redeeming moments to pray or meditate on scripture. It is about living our lives fully for the Lord. Allowing his purposes to fill all that we do, causing all our moments to bring glory to God. There is an old hymn I love by Frances R. Ha­ver­gal that expresses this fuller thought.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
(Read the lyrics and hear the original melody at
Now I hope you have not gotten the idea that I am perfect at any of this. I am truly no expert in the answer to the original question my friend asks, "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" These are just a few things I do. How do you keep talking to God through out the day? How do you motivate your thoughts heavenward?

Equipping Saints to Serve

"Equipping Saints to Serve" is the mission of Common Heart Missional Community. Acts of kindness whether giving groceries to someone in need or buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, or just taking a moment to speak a kind word to a cashier can all be ways God can use you as an agent of his kingdom to draw people to himself.

Jesus in the sermon on the mount called each of his followers "the light of the world". He says that on no one lights a lamp and puts it under covers, but instead it is lifted up high so that it can give light all around. He continues to say that a city on a hill can not be hidden, but is seen by all. To me what he is telling us is that no one is going to see what God is really like unless they see him through us and in our daily lives. Jesus didn't intend for us to hide out in our churches, or to hide behind our fears, instead he has called us to engage our world, our culture, the people we come into contact with daily with his love. The truth is people will learn about God from us it is inevitable, but what are they going to learn?

Jesus goes on to say in that sermon that we should serve people in such a way that they see or experience the good things we do and give God the praise for it. In other words, there are ways to interact with people that will point them to God, and there are ways that might leave a bad taste in their mouth. We strive to demonstrate God's love to an unbelieving world in such a way that, one by one, hearts are softened and drawn along in their journey to God. Our serving, our loving, our good works are like bread crumbs along the path that leads people to the Father's house.

This is the common heart beat we share. We are followers of Jesus who love God and love people. We seek to serve as Jesus served, and to be about our Father's mission on earth today. Ultimately we seek to see people drawn into the arms of God.

As we encourage a “common heart”, we seek to equip by outfitting the follower of Jesus with what he needs to serve. Our first missional endeavor, Common Cupboard, is a place where followers of Jesus can “equipped” with groceries to give away freely to those in need. Along with some simple training, mentoring, and prayer, a follower of Jesus can be equipped to demonstrate God's love in such a way that people's hearts are softened to God and led gently along their way to Jesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Neighborhood Christmas Party

I am amazed daily at how God opens doors and provides in simple ways. One of these doors is at Castle Rd & Riverside Apartments and the surrounding area. This area off Walkup Ave in Monroe is ethnically diverse. Many of the folks living in these apartments and the trailer park next door are in need. We have been reaching out in this area for over a year and currently help 15 or so families each month. My wife Deb and I have been wondering what God would have us do in this area.

Through a series of events I met the owner of one of the apartment complexes and expressed to her the idea of what Deb and I have been calling a festival. She was excited because she is a Christian who just purchased the complex and had been asking God for direction on touching people's spiritual needs in her apartments. She asked if we could pull something together for December. We decided to do a neighborhood Christmas Party on December 8th.

About 25 people came out to help including a youth group from El Shadai, a Latino congregation in Monroe. We gave away educational items, toys, and bags of groceries . We ate some cake and drank hot chocolate (in 70 degree weather). We also had a shepherdess, a wise man, and an angel helping us out with singing some carols as I shared a little about how we can experience Jesus today. It was a great time.

Click on the picture below to view pictures ...
Neighborhood Christmas Party - Dec 8