Thursday, October 29, 2009

God's Listening...

I love seeing and hearing how the Lord is working in peoples lives...God never ceases to amaze me! There is such encouragement in even the seemingly "small" things.

Today, a couple of us from TDWM met with on of the teachers from IndyMet to help get our newest intern all set up and ready to go. Aqilla has actually been volunteering with us for the last few months, so it was exciting to hear that she wanted to intern with TDWM. She will be working with us on Wednesdays, which happens to be one of the days that we have our Bible study and lunch. I could sense some excitement from her when she realized that as part of her internship she was going to get to study the Word...personally, I think I had that same feeling of excitement when I realized that one of the really great things about working with TDWM full-time meant that, twice a week, it was my "job" to study the Bible. And, although seeing her enthusiasm was a real blessing, there is more...

On Thursday nights we have our youth program for students in grades 7-12, called The Wave, which Aqilla is apart of, along with her older sister and one of our other interns. We talked tonight about how God DOES use young people and discussed the stories of people like Ruth and David. While explaining how important it is to listen to God in order to know where He needs us to be and what He needs us to do, it was mentioned that it is absolutely crucial to spend time reading God's word. It is amazing how God can speak to each and every one of us through that book, that we may have read a million times over OR never even opened. Seriously, just flip through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and read about Jesus' life here on earth, I'm positive God will move! But, back to what has me smiling...we announced that we were going to start having a girl's Bible study and a guy's Bible study every week in order to help them break into reading and studying the Bible on a more regular basis.

As we were packing up and heading out the door, Aqilla told us how happy she was, because she had been praying for a while that she would be able to get involved in a Bible study...and now she has TWO chances each week! It's encouraging to see these high school students so eager to learn more about our Savior...almost every kid at the Wave tonight signed up to attend the Bible studies! Praise Jesus on that one, for sure!

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Friday, October 16, 2009

On Your Knees...

I love this. It's easy to let pretty much anything morph into everything it isn't supposed to be. And in ministry we too commonly dismiss it on the grounds that we are "furthering the kingdom" and "doing the Lord's work" and blah, blah. Don't get me wrong, the work is important...I don't think for one second God just wants us to sit on our butts and wait for the show to start, but what are we counting on? I know my efforts aren't going to cut it...God has got to be in control, I've got to let Him use me! Who knows what that may look could be a hundred times different than anything I imaged, but what I do know is that if I'm not talking to Him and listening to Him and seeking and searching for where it is He wants me, then...what's the point, really? Besides, I think it's a pretty sweet deal that I CAN talk to and hear from my father in to and hear from the creator of EVERYTHING! When I see it like that, I wonder why I don't pray more often...

Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest

-Matthew 9:38
The Key to the Master’s Orders - Oswald Chambers The key to the missionary’s difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work— that is, not work as the word is commonly used today, which often results in the shifting of our focus away from God. The key to the missionary’s difficult task is also not the key of common sense, nor is it the key of medicine, civilization, education, or even evangelization. The key is in following the Master’s orders— the key is prayer. "Pray the Lord of the harvest . . . ." In the natural realm, prayer is not practical but absurd. We have to realize that prayer is foolish from the commonsense point of view. From Jesus Christ’s perspective, there are no nations, but only the world. How many of us pray without regard to the persons, but with regard to only one Person— Jesus Christ? He owns the harvest that is produced through distress and through conviction of sin. This is the harvest for which we have to pray that laborers be sent out to reap. We stay busy at work, while people all around us are ripe and ready to be harvested; we do not reap even one of them, but simply waste our Lord’s time in over-energized activities and programs. Suppose a crisis were to come into your father’s or your brother’s life— are you there as a laborer to reap the harvest for Jesus Christ? Is your response, "Oh, but I have a special work to do!" No Christian has a special work to do. A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, "a servant [who] is not greater than his master" (John 13:16), and someone who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do. Our Lord calls us to no special work— He calls us to Himself. "Pray the Lord of the harvest," and He will engineer your circumstances to send you out as His laborer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

If God Created Everything...

I think I’ve mentioned the partnership between TDWM and The Watkins Family Center in Riverside, anyways…on Tuesdays and Thursdays we run a youth program for kids in the neighborhood. It gives them a chance for them to hang out, play games, grab a bite to eat, and hear a little bit about Jesus. These kids give us a run for our money a lot of times, but I know God is going to use these nights to work in the lives of these kids and I can’t wait to see what He’s up to!

Tonight we had the high school kids and we talked about evil and whether or not it was created by God. We split the kids into a couple groups and each group sent a spokesperson up to voice their opinion on the topic. We had some great arguments from both groups. We wrapped up with a short story I’d like to share with you.

A University professor at a well known institution of higher learning challenged his students with this question. "Did God create everything that exists?"

A student bravely replied, "Yes he did!"

"God created everything?" The professor asked.

"Yes sir, he certainly did," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything; then God created evil. And, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then we can assume God is evil."

The student became quiet and did not respond to the professor's hypothetical definition.. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "May I ask you a question,
Professor?" "Of course", replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, "Professor does cold exist?"

"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?"

The other students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 F) is the total absence of heat; and all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat." The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?"

The professor responded, "Of course it does."

The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact, we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present." Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"

Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course, as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily examples of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light."
The professor sat down.

The young man's name -- Albert Einstein

So, whatever your opinion on God or evil or anything else, this sure makes you think. When you feel like all you see around you is evil, try inviting God into that darkness – His power will surprise you! There isn’t anything He can’t handle, no situation He can’t turn around…the evil WE’VE created is no match for the God I serve!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dear Friend...

This song is so beautiful! Ever wonder what the world or maybe even just your house or classroom would be like if we were all giving our friends or even strangers words like these...I know I could stand to love and encourage some of the people in my life a lot more! I love you, friends!

Tammy & K...

So, when we were heading out the door for outreach on Wednesday, Kim and I were chatting about plans for the evening and friends we wanted to make sure to visit. I didn't realized we weren't going to the bridges, which was a bummer...I love catching up with my friends over there and Kim had also promised a book to Tammy. Anyways, we start driving downtown and get close to University Park where we had planned to park, and...there was Tammy! Mind you, this is a nice little mile or so walk from where we usually see her. We just all looked at each other and quickly remembered that God puts us where He needs us, not where we think we need to be. I seriously had goosebumps! Off the almost 800,000 people in this city...what are the chances!

Well, after catching up with Tammy, we started heading downtown to hang out with whoever was out and hand out some sandwiches and snacks. We barely made it around Monument Circle when we ran into a group of people, most of which were teenagers. There were a couple familiar faces, but it didn't talk more than a couple seconds for about half of them to take off -- which isn't uncommon with "runaways" or homeless teenagers. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Kim walking away from the group with a young girl. I thought I'd better go walk with her since she kind of took off in a hurry. It didn't take long to realize something was wrong. (It looks like there was another reason God sent us walking downtown instead of to the camps that night.) She told us to just keep walking...even when we asked to if we could sit down on a bench and, keep walking. She was frantically trying to get away from that group of people. We finally convinced her that as long as she stayed with us she would be fine. We didn't get much out of her in way of a story before she asked for my cell phone to call her mom -- who apparently didn't care a whole lot about her daughter or her situation.

She told us she'd come up to Indy to get away from her hometown, but didn't know anyone or have any sort of plan. Her first night here, she met a guy who offered to take her to where he was staying...which happened to be an abandoned house with about 9 other people. To add to her first night excitement, she learned that the people living in this house were a "gang". They were kind enough to let her join -- after they initiated her, of course. They beat this poor girl with pipes and paddles and fists...then told her she was now a "GD", couldn't wear red, and couldn't leave the house alone. I'm not even going to comment on that, but...apparently, they found reasons to continue beating her...I guess 9 people beating on a little 19 year-old girl proves you are crazy hardcore, right?

She showed us bruise after bruise and really thought she had a cracked rib. I can't even begin to explain the insane amount of manipulation, hatred, exploitation, and just plain stupidity I witnessed that night! We heard stories from...I just call her K...but we also heard stories from "Mom" and "Dad" and their "kids"! Let me tell you about sad and messed up...they admitted to being a "gang", beating on K into the gang, but also beating her on other occasions as well. It didn't take long to catch on to the fact that this poor girl had no idea what a family or real friend or love even remotely looked like! One second she was freaked out to see "Mom" walking our way...but she leaned down and told her that she loved her and to go with us and let us help her get off the streets. They start hugging and telling each other they love one another and on and on...and a few of us who'd seen this started looking at each other in amazement...and not the good kind, we were sick! We pulled her away and started heading back to the cars. I really can't even start to explain everything we experienced up to this point. I was shocked, sickened, angry, heartbroken, confused, and just praying there was something we could do to help K.

Kim and I took her to the hospital get her rib among other things checked was a long night, to say the least. Again, it would be impossible to even start to explain it. To make a really long story a little less, well...long...after hearing from the doctor and social worker that she would be able to stay at the hospital, we all headed home. The next morning, Brian, the director of TDWM was able to get her into a shelter which she managed to get kicked out of the next morning. We don't know the whole story, but a few of us spent a good amount of time last night exploring resources, tyring to track down family members, and finally just praying! We had no idea where she was going to go. She was able to stay with our awesome friends last night. We'll be trying a couple more shelters tomorrow to see if we can get her in anywhere -- but a really big concern is her running into the wonderful "family" that took her in. It won't take long for their paths to cross and she could very well end right back up where she started.

So, if you would...please pray for K and this whole situation. Pray that she would begin to see that she needs to make some major changes in her life, that shelter would be provided for her, that she would experience true love and affection from the only One who can give it. K has a number of medical and behavioral issues, and it's hard to say the root of each of them, but it's more than apparent that she has had an extremely difficult and painful 19 years. Just pray that God would wrap her in His loving arms and let her know that He is so very real and will never leave her or mistreat her! Also, pray for guidance, patience, and wisdom for everyone working on her case...I have faith that God will do something, but it is all in His timing!

And before I skip over Tammy, please pray for her as well. She is struggling with an addiction and has expressed a desire to get help, but just hasn't taken that step yet. Also, her very abusive boyfriend will be getting out of jail really, really soon and she is trying to decide if she wants to continue their relationship...pray the answer would be as obvious to her as it is to those outside the situation and that she would see how beautiful and precious she really is!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Welcome Air 1...

So, I'm pretty stoked that Air 1 Radio is coming to Indy! :)
I love all the stations that I get to listen to at home on iTunes like:
But, when it comes to being stuck in the car...that's a different story! And, I love all kinds of music -- seriously, down-home, back-woods country to super hard make-you-want-to-mosh metalcore...but it doesn't take too long to get a little annoyed at all the negative, vulgar, and honestly disgusting lyrics. So, it was great to hear that if I'm without my iPod or CDs, I atleast have one more option that isn't, well...lame! :)
So, if you are in Indy...Air 1 will be on 90.5 and K-Love has moved to 101.9!

\m/ Rock on, friends! \m/

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lay 'Em Down...

I just love the fact that there isn't anything we can't lay before God. He'll take it all. We've just got to give it to Him. And I'll admit that sometimes it's not all that easy to let go -- even when it's something that we know is not good. I know in my life, there have been many times where God has simply broughten me to the point where I just become sick and tired of my troubles and problems and issues; and the only place left to go is to the Cross and leave it all there. It's just so amazing that we can take it all to Him, at any point in any day...the big stuff and the seemingly small stuff...and He loves us the same!
Oh, yeah...I just can't get enough of this song! So I thought I'd share it!

Lay 'Em Down -- NeedToBreathe
Come Down To The River Come And Let Yourself In
Make Good On A Promise To Never Hurt Again
If You're Lost And Lonely
You're Broken Down
Bring All Of Your Troubles
Come Lay 'Em Down

All You Sinners And The Weak At Heart
All You Helpless On The Boulevards
Wherever You Are Now
Whatever Evil You've Found
Bring All Of Your Troubles
And Come Lay 'Em Down

We're All Tied To The Same Old Failing
Finding Shelter In Things We Know
We're All Dirty Like Corrupted Small Towns
We'll Bring Our Troubles
We'll Bring Our Troubles
Lay 'Em Down

All You Rich Men And The High Above
All Of Those With And Without Love
All You Burdened Broken Down
Bring All Of Your Troubles
Come Lay 'Em Down
Come Lay 'Em Down

Come All You Broken,
Come Lay 'Em Down
Come All You Helpless,
Come Lay 'Em Down
Bring All Your Burdens,
Come Lay 'Em Down
And Just Lay 'Em Down,
Come Lay 'Em Down
Come Lay 'Em Down

Monday, October 05, 2009

Cry Out...

I'm sort of getting myself ready for a "challenging" next few days, maybe even week. I'm preparing myself and my heart for a huge leap of faith. I'm really just asking God to fill me with Him and let me see and hear what He needs me to right now. Parts of me are scared to death and parts of me and so excited I can't explain it and other parts of me are just questioning and doubting and trying to find reasons and explanations. I've been through enough to know that God has a plan...and more often than not, I have no clue what He is doing. He's showing me bits and pieces, but I know I just have to jump and have faith that His arms are there waiting to catch me. To be honest, I know that He is there -- always has been -- and He will never ever ever let me down! It's just so easy to sit back and listen to this messed up world tell me that I have to take control of my life and I need this and that to be happy or satisfied and all kinds of other ideas that are full of emptiness and disappointment. As much as it is going to hurt, I really need God to break me right now, to humble me, and to just let His love pour into me. I have got to go down this road with only one thing in sight -- the powerful love of my Savior!
I've been reading through Philippians, and just can't get enough of how much love and passion that Paul has for both God and people. "Love God. Love People." is the way I like to describe my "religious" beliefs, so this letter just really hits home for me. So much of what is written here speaks to my heart and I can't think of anything better to do right now than use those words to cry out to my King.

Precious Lord ,
I am so amazed at your incredible love and mercy. Father, you are so much more than I could ever deserve and I am so thankful that you call me yours. Please take my life and use it to glorify only you. I ask that your will be done, and my selfish desires be stripped completely out of my hands. Let your love consume me, continue to grow my knowledge and understanding so I can clearly see what matters. Lord, guide my steps toward righteousness and purity. Help me to magnify you with every piece of my life. I know that if I am faithful to you, everything I walk through will bring honor to your name. Give me the strength and courage to be bold for you. Abba, I need you to humble me and give me the attitude of Christ Jesus. Let me rejoice in good times and in hard times so that the light you have place in my heart with shine brightly to the world. I will press on, knowing that nothing on this earth has any worth, the only real value comes from knowing you, father. Please rescue me from the longings of my flesh and wrap me in your arms of mercy and forgiveness. Lord, nothing is possible without you and I am eternally grateful for your saving grace and endless love. Thank you for sending your Son and saving my life. I love you, Lord. I pray all of these things in the name of your perfect Son.

Bang, Bang...

This is my new doggy I adopted from Indianapolis Animal Care & Control! I've only had her a few weeks! She was so sick and skinny...but has tons of love to give! She is awesome! She knew how to sit and shake, but she is a really, why not let her keep learning! :) She'd only been working on this for a couple, I'd say she isn't doing too bad! :)

P.S. Rescue animals rock! DON'T SUPPORT PUPPY MILLS!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

It's A Beautiful Day In The Hood...

So, over the past few weeks I've received a couple flyers in my mailbox about some things going on in my neighborhood. There are three different "beautification" or clean-up days throughout the next couple weeks and then there is going to be a big block party! I was so excited to see this, because to me, it meant there are other people close by who actually care about this neighborhood and want to see positive changes made and relationships built. Awesome!
Today was day one of the clean-up. We scrubbed off a lot of graffiti. It was frustrating to see how little respect some people have for the city's property, their neighbor's property, or even their own property. I'm going to assume that since most of the graffiti was cuss words, names, and poorly drawn hands flippin' the bird that it's more a kid- with- nothing- to- do problem or lack-of-parenting-skills problem, rather than a gang issue. As everyone pitched in to scrub guardrails, fences, sidewalks, garage doors, and street signs, we also picked up trash and had someone spraying down poison ivy. It made my heart smile to see a group of seemingly random people each doing their part to help out. I met some really great people and can now say I know a couple more of my neighbors -- that is one thing I miss about my tiny little backwoods town, everyone knew everyone!
Anyways, I'm so glad I made it out this morning and can't wait to see what get accomplished next Saturday! I'm also anxious to learn more about everyone who has been working to plan this -- I'm not sure what the ultimate motivation was, but when people start living lives that are focused on helping others and making a positive difference, I think that opens lots more room for some good 'ol Jesus! Who knows what is going to come of all this, but I'm praying these next few weeks will be used for His glory -- in whatever way He sees fit!
P.S. Friends who don't want to come to my house because you think I live in the super scary just watch out, this hood is going to be looking awfully beautiful! :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Take From Me...

I love, so much, what this song says! It honestly breaks my heart when I listen to the words. I know I am so guilty of turning my back on God...and I'm talking more than once. It's true that living each day of my life for Christ is not something that is easy to do. I mess up, I struggle, I get mad, I have bad days...just like anyone else. But like it says, He takes me back...EVERY SINGLE TIME. That's really hard to wrap my head around. If someone I loved more than anything kept making a fool of me and taking me for granted...I'd have a really hard time still loving them. God doesn't. Screw up, mess up, break down, whatever...He's there! That's awesome! I just pray that he would continue to take away more of my life, and my wants, and my plans, and my messed up thinking that I am somehow in control and know what is best for me. I need to surrender it all to Him, everyday, always. So, Jesus...I'm giving it all up to you again -- and I thank you so much for taking it and giving me YOU!

Take My Life -- Third Day

"How Many Times Have I Turned Away
The Number Is The Same As The Sand On The Shore
But Every Time You've Taken Me Back
And Now I Pray You Do It Once More.

Please Take From Me My Life
When I Don't Have The Strength
To Give It Away To You Jesus

How Many Times Have I Turned Away
The Number Is The Same As The Stars In The Sky
But Every Time You've Taken Me Back
And Now I Pray You Do It Tonight.

Please Take From Me My Life
When I Don't Have The Strength
To Give It Away To You Jesus"