Monday, January 6, 2014

More from my Hubby

He's on a roll!!!  Great words!!

The Lukewarm Christian

I just looked at the title of this passage of Revelation and the heading in the NKJV read, “The Lukewarm Church.”  It hit me that it could also say, “The Lukewarm Christian.”  If we are the church and the Lord resides in us.  Then this passage is talking to the body of the church and the individual as the walking church.  The walking church that is supposed to be the light of the world.  A moving church is supposed to be the salt of the earth.  We are the seasoning in the food.  The oregano in the spaghetti or the nutmeg in the pumpkin pie.  Without seasonings in our food it would and does taste bland.  My gorgeous wife Camille has that gluten allergy going on in the body.  Camille’s meals and food choices are extremely limited.  I feel for her every day.  Why?  Because her foods are just down right bland.  That’s just a real bummer.  The Lord calls us to season the earth with his salt.  The world tastes better with Jesus salt brother.  


The Lukewarm Christian/Church in Laodicea were lacking in the sea salt category.  The alpha and omega, the beginning and the end is speaking his message to John.  John the revelator says God is the Amen, faithful, true witness and the creator of the universe. 


“I know your works.”  Let’s just pause here for a second.  The words, “I know your works”  Pause and think.  Do a SELAH thing and ponder.  What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear those words?  For me it’s when my mom said, “Keith, I know what you are doing.  You better stop it or face the belt.”  John is telling the people (us) at Laodicea, “I know your works guys and they’re neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were one or the other, but you’re not.  I mean c’mon pick one or the other, but don’t be wishy washy.  Have a backbone and make a decision.  Don’t you just hate people who can’t make a decision?  Do you want McDonald’s or Subway?  Do you want a hot or cold latte?  Ummm….well, umm, maybe, umm, what do you think?  You are killing me smalls.  It’s a cup of java, pick one and let’s get out of here. 


We as Christians do this same thing.  We are neither hot nor cold.  All the way in and believing God’s promises and trusting him in everything.  Solomon says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding in all thy ways acknowledge me and I will direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5,6)  That’s a good word mister wisest man in the world king.  Oh, and you kinda had boo ko bucks too.  (Squirrel moment- ?  So, you had like a couple thousand wives…did you know all their names by heart?)  Folks we need to jump into Jesus or get out of the way.  Take your towel and go back to the locker room and change your clothes.  Why?  Because you are putting on your swimming suit and walking around the pool.  You never get in all the way.  I know your works.  You sit down and dangle your feet into the pool.  Oh, once you got in the shallow end up to your waist.  Then you looked around and saw your friend’s expression and got back out.  You dried off and went to the snack bar for a smoothie.  God said that he will vomit you out of his mouth.  Lukewarm tastes gross and it makes God sick to his stomach and he up chucks.  God gets GERD when we are not fully committed to him and his word.  That’s a medical condition, gastric reflux disorder.  Basically, when you eat your food it goes down your throat.  As the food travels down it gets to a cross road where it is rejected and says….bye bye, not coming any further.


Remember this scripture, “Taste and see that I am good.”  David wrote that in Ps. 34:8, and how appropriate.  God is good even to the taste.  A taste that you don’t get sick of or have a stomach ache from.  You are filled to overflowing.  David also talked about how his cup overflows, and runs over the brim.  That’s our God church/Christian, a God of abundance and overflowing.  A God who loves the world  so much he gave up his only son for you and me. (John 3:16)


So, here’s the plane coming in for the final approach.  Do you want to be a Lukewarm Christian?  Simple question and answer.  It’s a yes or a no?  My prayer and God’s desire is that it’s a yes.  Here’s what I would advise you to do…JUMP INTO GOD with your whole self.  Jump from the high dive and hit water with the faith of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and others.  Sink to the bottom and feel Jesus breathing fresh air in your lungs.  Jesus is your sustainer and you will never drown.  Peace be still in any storm that comes your way.  Peace that passes all understanding and the joy of the Lord forever. 


If the answer is no or, ummmmm…..well my prayer for you is to consider Jesus once more.  Take a double take and follow him.  It’s not too late.  God isn’t mad at you.  God is pursuing you like the state patrol with his sirens on in the Crown Vic. 


Dear God I don’t want to be that guy.  That lukewarm Christian who walks around the pool wondering what it would be like to jump in.  Thank you for giving me life as I am all in.  Who says that black people can’t swim?  I can’t. (no really I can)  You swim for me, praise God. (squirrel J)  In Jesus name Amen.

From My Hubby....

Here is a bit to chew on from Keith :0)

Who are you buying your Gold from?

This morning we all as a family were going to take our Tucker to Pullman, Washington to start college.  Something happened during the night.  I was exhausted, which I am finding ramps up my anxiety level.  When that happens I am weak and vulnerable to spiritual, emotional, physical and mental gaps.  I feel like everything is so hard to accomplish and I have very little, if any energy.  It’s just little spike of energy, then boom, like walking in quick sand.  I quite frankly don’t like that emotional state.  That’s not the normal for our (my) abundant life that Jesus said he has for his kids.  With that said, it does happen and by the grace of God and my proverbs 31 wife Camille.  It’s out in the open and not in the closet of life.  Camille, my helper, my best friend, my wonderful spouse who is so loving and kind has my back.  Camille has a way with words that are soothing and reassuring.  Think of it as a “word hug.”  Yep, I just made up a new word for the Webster’s scribes.  Camille’s words just wraps them around my heart, mind and soul.  I just feel better.  I just feel better.


Isn’t that what Jesus does for us.  He makes us “just feel better.”  He makes all things new.  He turns our sorrows into joy.  He trades beauty for the ashes in our day/life.  The mistakes, regrets, poor decisions that were dead.  In the Lord’s eyes, he exchanged for beauty.  That spirit of heaviness that makes it hard for you to move.  Jesus said, “Here is a garment, a piece of clothing from my heavenly closet.  I call it a garment of praise and worship.  That’s the clothing you wear when you get anxious or things seem just rough, ok?  I will let you have it forever.  How does that sound?  Good.  I just want you to feel better.” (Isa. 61:2-4) 


No, I haven’t forgot how I started this letter.  The trip to Pullman. Squirrel. J When the alarm went off at 6am, I got up and hit the snooze button.  You knew that was coming, because, “Hey” you do that all the time. J  Hopped back in bed and thought, “I am exhausted, my throat is sore, ears with some fluid and my sinuses are whacked.  I need rest for my body, mind and soul.” I leaned over and said to Camille, “Tuesday, can we go Tuesday to Pullman and not today?  I am exhausted.”  Camille responded, “Sure, no problem.  That’s big and thanks for listening to God.  It’s all good.”  See what I mean, she just makes me (everyone) feel better.  So when Tucker came into the room I said, “Tuesday.”  He said, “Okay.”  Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy. 


Now I am spending time with Jesus.  It’s intentional and I want to spend time with the one who gave his everything to me.  Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.  Holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Shouldn’t it be reasonable to spend time with Jesus?  Yes, it should so that’s what I am doing.  It’s been about 30 minutes and my whole attitude has done a 360.  Jesus just makes you feel better. 


At Simple Church last night Pastor Anne opened up Revelation 3:14-23 and taught us the bread of life.  How rich with gold nuggets to place in our pockets as we go through our daily walk.  This is what I’ll be chewing and digesting on for strength this morning.  Yummy, yummy for my tummy. (kjv modified version J)


I’m going to start in the middle of these verses, because that seems to be the hot spot right now.  John wrote the words of the Lord and he says, “So I advise you to buy gold from me – gold that has been purified by fire” (Revelation 3:18) 


Dear Lord this is my written prayer to you that you will reveal to me what you want me to see.  My eyes get clouded with the world’s cataract and I need your ointment for healing.  So I may see with perfect vision.  In Jesus name Amen.


Let’s break this passage down to see what the Lord has for me. (us)  The phrase I advise you stands out.  Why?  Well, John is saying to the church at Laodicea.  I am advising you.  This is heavenly advice, hear, and if I were you, I would take this free advice and do what God is saying.  Everyday people give us advice.  Everyday.  Some advice good and some bad.  The media gives us advice and that’s pretty much bad.  Sounds good, and tastes good, but it’s lukewarm.  In this day and age, we need solid advice that is true and not fake.  Advice that is geared, driven for the right motives.  So, if John is advising you and I that means there is a choice.  See, when someone advises you at the end of the conversation we have to choose.  We have to choose box A or B.  Sign on the X or leave the pen at the table and walk away.  Question?  What’s the choice in this advisory situation?  Gold, where are you going to buy your gold from?  Gold here represents several things in life for you and me.  For me I hear the Lord saying life.  The gold here is my life and who will I choose to buy my gold from.  Who will I pick to worship the rest of my life?  My life has value in God’s eyes and he sees me as precious gold.  The best precious metal in the world.  Hey, heaven’s streets are of pure gold.  If God is and does have gold in heaven, that must be pretty good, right?  You bet it’s awesome.  John, the writer says that the gold has been purified by fire.  This gold has been tested, validated for its authenticity and gets a Godly gold seal of approval.  Question?  Why did John say that the gold has been purified by fire?  I believe that because, remember we have a choice.  Any type of advisory situation there is a choice.  A contrast to the right hand, which would be the left hand.  What hand will you pick scenario.  I believe that traders in the rich trading, commerce of Laodicea. Some of Laodicea had honest businessmen and dishonest businessmen. Some shop owners who sold their goods deceived the customer and gave them counterfeits.  Falsified certificates of authenticity and passed them as originals.  John says, “I advise you buy God’s gold, and not fool’s gold.”  Question?  Who would the fool’s gold represent?  That would be the fool’s gold of the enemy, Satan.  The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  But Jesus, but Jesus comes to bring life and abundant life. (John 10:10)  The devil tempted Jesus 3x’s with fool’s gold and empty promises.  Jesus came back with the word of God and body slammed the enemy.  When the enemy comes we need to body slam him with the word of God like Jesus did. 


In closing, here’s the question to ask ourselves.  Who are you buying your gold from?  Who are you going to sell your life to?  Your life is gold and has cash value.  How are you going to spend it?  You only have one chance.  You have heard both sides of the case.  You have been advised to buy gold from heaven’s storehouse or the world’s storehouse.  The world’s storehouse is a fraud.  It’s fake and the buyer is out to steal, kill and destroy your life.  Destroy your gold dreams and desires.  But Jesus, but Jesus gold is from his dad’s unlimited  heavenly treasure chest of gold.  It’s liquid gold that brings eternal life.  God’s love is pure and tried by the fire.  It’s the real deal.  The life pen is in your hand.  Where will you sign?  As John said, “I advise you to buy gold from me, gold that has been purified by fire.” 


X__________________________________                     X________________________


Heavenly Gold- (right hand)                                           Fool’s Gold- (left hand)


Thank you dear Lord for offering your gold.  I choose to buy from you.  I worship you and bow down before you in awe.  I love you with all my heart, mind, body, soul and strength.  In Jesus name.  Amen.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

We're Ba....ack!! :0)

I was reading Isaiah 43"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your are precious to me.  You are honored, and I love you."  I am so happy that  I got to share that message today down on Naches Ave.

The Lord said to stop what we were doing on North First Street about 3 weeks ago... but since them He has made it clear that we were going to continue to minister to the homeless, just in a different way. .... in a more personal way....and in a way that doesn't consume so much of our family life, time, and energy.  Keith has continued ministering throughout the week as he goes about his work week- handing out food, gloves, coats, hats, and blankets.  Well today Keith, Olivia, and I decided to load up the Suburban with clothes, t.p., blankets, and pizza.  We had a blast!! It was so fun going out and working on the Lord's agenda.  He knew what we had in the car and who needed it because we just followed the guidance of the Lord. 

We met both young and old alike.  Olivia sat in the middle seat and made up to go boxes of  pizza between tossing hats, socks, and sweatshirts our way.  Keith met a young guy today who lives on a door step downtown.  Keith asked him how old is was and he said, "I am not sure, but I think I am 21 or 22."  :0(  Keith asked about his parents and he replied, "I am not sure... it's been a long time since I have seen my mom."  Really? He doesn't know how old he is?? He wasn't intellectually disabled, he just wasn't living in a reality where age/birthdays have ever been a part of life.  We will be visiting this young man's door step home a lot more this winter.

Another guy Keith talked with shared that he currently attends church and that he recently gave his life to the Lord and was baptized.  He is 53 and has been through drug addiction, rehab, homelessness, etc.  Someone invited him to church and he went.  He said that he has always suffered from severe depression and so he usually was numb... he just didn't feel anything, but when he walked through the doors of the church, he felt something... and it was a good feeling.  He hadn't "felt" emotions for so long and the emotions that he felt in church were good feelings.  After a period of time, he got saved and baptized.  After that he lost 140 some pounds (He was extremely heavy) and is on a good path.  It was a blessing for both he and Keith to visit.

One young couple were familiar with Keith because he has ministered to them over the past weeks and have gotten to know them.  They welcomed the hot pizza as well as the socks, coats, and gloves.  The young man had a nasty black eye that was very swollen from a fight the night before.  Keith shared with him about a free medical clinic he had recently found out about and was able to encourage him. 

Meanwhile, I had the joy in ministering to two women.  One woman recently got out of jail where she has been for the past 4 months at which time she was able to kick her drug habit and be clean for a period of time.  She had gotten close to the Lord in jail and was hoping that she would be able to stay away from the drugs that nearly killed her.  She shared how she had overdosed and didn't even know it until she read the discharge papers from the hospital which said "drug overdose".  With teary eyes she said, "I don't want to die."  We visited for probably 30 minutes (which never could have happened on North First St. because of the sheer numbers of people.)  She is the mother of 2... and she had her first child at age 14.  She was in an abusive relationship for 9 years and finally left after she found out that the father was sexually abusing her daughter.  With tears in her eyes, I asked if I could pray with both she and her friend.  We stood out in the street with arms linked and tears flowing asking the Lord for protection, healing, and freedom from addiction.  Man it was fun!!!!

The point to all of these stories is 2 fold.... God is with us through our rivers of difficulty and we were able to share that as well as sharing the message....."you are precious to God, you are honored, and God loves you!"  We felt God's love as we were ministering and we loved sharing God's love to some very special people.  It isn't about the "numbers of people", it is about the relationships.... the hope... the encouragement that flows both ways.

Dear Jesus,  I will not be afraid for you have ransomed me.  When I go through deep waters, I know that you will be with me.  When I go through rivers of difficulty, I will not drown.  When I walk through the fire of oppression, I will not be burned up; the flames will not consume me for You are the Lord my God.  I know that I am precious to You and that you honor and love me.   Thank You Dear Jesus for loving me this way and for letting us find such delight in serving incredible people for You!  You are my joy Dear Lord!  In Jesus Holy Name- Amen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Good Bye For Now...

Keith and our family would like to share with all of our friends that we are stopping our North First St. ministries on Sundays.  I know it sounds crazy but Keith and our family started it based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit and it is the same Holy Spirit that has made it clear that now is the time to stop.  It is not a question that it was the right thing to do.  When the Lord says “It’s time to be done…then it’s time to be done.”  We joyfully spent 106 weeks serving and we know that now it is time to rest and restore.  Keith and our family will continue the relationships that we have made on North First and will continue to minister to them.

 Over the last two years, God has changed our hearts…and we will continue to hand out clothes, food, and minster to those in need on a one to one basis.  We encourage all of you to do the same.  Instead of giving us the clothes and food to hand out, we encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and keep a few extra things in your car so that if you see someone in need- you can reach out to them and offer what you have.  It will be scary at first, but it will get much less scary the next time, and the next….God wants us each to hear His Holy Spirit and to hear His promptings.  If you are not sure who is in need- Just drive down North first St., or 2nd. St. and follow your heart.  I guarantee….people are far more appreciative than you would ever imagine….and if they look like they need it- they probably do.  God will transform your heart… he will push you out of your comfort zone and he will show up every time!!  We are so excited to see what the Lord is going to do in our family, relationships, and our hearts. 

Keith and I sincerely thank each and every one of you who have walked with us and supported us along this journey.  You are so appreciated!!! We can’t say Thank You enough!!! Please don’t feel like it is a loss….it is an opportunity to grow your faith a little more.  It honestly would be easier to continue doing North First St. than it is to stop so abruptly because people will not always understand.  It is easier to not rock the boat, but we both heard it very clearly….it is time to be done…now.  I don’t want to be that gal who doesn’t listen to God’s promptings… I’ve been there and I don’t want to be that gal again   :0)      We love you all and appreciate everything that you have done to help the people who have gotten in our hearts.  Please step out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone in your sphere of influence….someone who needs the hope and joy that our Lord Jesus Christ gives!!!

Lord= as we move forward in our journey here on earth…. We pray that you will continue to guide us and lead us along the path that you have for us.  Help us to joyfully continue to make relationships with those in our lives and to love them.  In Jesus Holy Name-  Amen!!!   :0)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

We are made to be relational!

God has made us in His image…He has made us relational.  God seeks a relationship with each one of us but leaves it up to us as to how, when, where, and for how long we will interact with Him.  At different points in my life I have been at different points with God.  There have been times when I have been desperately  at his feet as well as times when I have been as far away from him as ever.  The times that I have been the farthest away from him were the times that my life was the most dysfunctional and when I was making the worst choices for myself.

It is no different with our relationships with the people around us.  When I was living way off base…. Making horrible choices….I was also very distant from my loved ones.  I didn’t want anyone telling me what I was doing wrong and I also didn’t want them to know that I was so off base.  Our North First Street friends are no different.  Many of them have come to where they are because of a series of steps that have led them away from anyone who could help them.  Many have left family because the family was so dysfunctional and others have left family because their choices were so dysfunctional. 

I am always looking for measurable ways to indicate that people are making changes in their lives for the better out on North First ST.  In my constant view “the cup is half full” mentality, I want to see that what we are doing is making a difference.  I know that there are way too many variables involved to ever be able to say that the changes we see are due to a 2 hour a week ministry….but what I can report are the common trends in behavior that I observe.  That is all they are….observations.

 And what I have observed over the last 6 months is a trend of people who have approached us and said that they are making a change in their life by moving back to where they came from.  For some, it meant moving back to their home state of California where family lives, others- moving to Spokane where relatives are…some have moved with a friend as far away as North Dakota for work (by the way…they guy has a 9 month work contract with John Deer, an apartment, and just bought a van—he is so happy!), others have moved to Belingham…again because family is there.  The change may be to move from the river, to a hotel room.  Or from a hotel room to an apartment….it may be from the river, to the mission recovery program or from the river…to the triumph recovery center.

I see the moves as a move forward for each one of them.  In the beginning, each person ran from something and was living in a semi-isolated community…one filled with darkness and secrets just as I did when I was making horrible choices.   The tents camouflaged out in the brush by the river, the bed made in the corner of a parking lot with a sleeping bag or a blanket, or the people crammed into a dark motel room are all places where they can continue to carry out their choices without a lot of relationship with people except with people who are making the same choices that you are making.  I see the moves that many of our street friends are choosing as positive steps forward in their lives.  I believe that we were able to help sustain them during their low time with food, clothes, and relationship until they were ready to start on the long path back home…the long path back to society. 

I am so encouraged to hear when someone tells me that they are making a change… rarely is it backwards because the people we see are kind of as low as they can if they are not ready to start moving forward…they just stay where they are at (because you can’t get much lower).  And there are people in this situation also.  They are the people who are still in much the same situation as they were a year or two earlier when we met them.  They may have changes happening within them (Only God knows) but I think they will stay in their situations until they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  It is then that they will start seeking change… and I am so thankful that we are there each week to be able to encourage them at whatever stage they are at. 

I am not at the same place that I was at 25 years ago, because I was finally sick and tired of being sick and tired... it was then that I turned to God.  Only God could move me from where I was to where I am now.  Only God could change my heart and my mind… Only God could break through the darkness and show me the light… the hope…the incredible walk that I am able to have every day with God.

Keith has made a relationship with a guy who has helped him set up the tables on Sunday mornings.  He told Keith today that this last week was the first week in 2 years that he has been able to work a 40 hour week.  Praise the Lord!!!  Keith was able to give him a bike today and he was so happy! We are made to be relational…and we seek relation with one another.

The family that I have spoken of who have 4 kids and earlier in the summer they got an apartment… many people donated things to go in their place since they did not have anything.  Well today they asked if I had anything that they could store the ashes of their tiny baby who passed away  :0(  MY heart was so sad for her and

Yet at the same time, I was so happy that she would share something so private and personal with me.  Keith and I lost a baby boy before we had Olivia.  I trust God that He has it all under control… we wouldn’t have Olivia if Kordell was born.  God has us in the center of his hands!! The mama also asked if we could pray.  It was wonderful… the mama, her teenage daughter, and I held hands and prayed together to Our God and Father!  Beautiful!! We are made to be relational J

A man shared with Keith today… he said, “Man, I really appreciate you guys so much!  I know that you may not hear that very often, but I really appreciate you.”  He shared how he knew we were coming because he saw the tables set up this morning and he said, “I know you will be here whether the tables are up or not.”…. yes people seek relationship.

Chuck is moving to Spokane at the end of the week… he said that he is going to go up and be with family…”but you have been my family here,” he said.  It really isn’t just handing at food and clothes…. It is making relationship…like Christ did.

A guy was out there today who shared with Keith that he had 5 by passes 8 weeks ago.  Keith had him sit down by the car and rest a bit.  He was so thankful for so little.  He seemed to open up and enjoy sharing a bit about his life with Keith.  We all seek someone to share life with.

At the end of the afternoon, a young man (early 20’s) came over for some food.  He has been coming for over a year now.  I asked how his girl friend was doing…(who is really a guy who dresses up like a girl).  His response broke my heart… not because his girlfriend is a guy…but because he said, “We aren’t together… I don’t know where she is… I probably killed her last time I beat her up.”  My heart broke…. I pray that the person isn’t dead and that he/she is safe somewhere away from anyone that would hurt him/her.  It doesn’t matter if it is a man, woman, or child… No ONE ever ever ever deserves to be beat…. Ever!!!!!

Some people in line today who were new… looked away as Keith made his way down the line shaking hands.  They looked like they wanted to disappear… to melt into the crowd and not be seen… they are still running into the dark…. Away from something or someone….Other people in line looked shocked as Keith approached… like, “Why are you talking to me?  Why are you being nice?”   My prayer is that those who are running away from relationships…. Will find renewed hope in the basic need that we all have…. The need to be relational. And I pray that they will begin to feel the stirring in their very core that comes from the Creator of the Earth…a stirring that says, “I have always loved you and you are enough just the way you are!   I will never leave you or forsake you!” 

Thank You Jesus for Your unending love!  I give You all of the praise and glory! In Jesus Holy Name… Amen! J

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Two Year Anniversary...God is So Amazing!!

The two year anniversary of North First Street is this weekend…yes, it has been two years, 103 weeks (We took 1 weekend off last year).  We had no idea that first week that it would extend into another 102 weeks. I never would have believed it if you told me back then that that is what we would do…never in a million years.  God is so funny-  He just takes it one week at a time….Love on the people in front of you…one week, one day, one hour, one minute, one person at a time.


The Lord promises us in Jeremiah 27:11-13 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


This is my life verse…you see I grew up believing that God was a tyrant and that He only wanted me if I made the right choices.  When I didn’t…I believed that He did not want me anymore. I didn’t know God’s character at all.  Once I gave my heart to the Lord and learned Jeremiah 27:11-13, I knew that my God is an amazing loving God who wants a good life for me. 


Over the last two years Keith and our family have been seeking the Lord with all of our hearts on North First Street.  We have listened to the voice whispering in our ears to go out of our comfort zone, out of our normal sphere of influence into a world that we knew very little about.  The cool thing is that when you know that it is God whispering directions to you…you know that God has your back and He will never leave you or forsake you!! 


As Christians we know that Jesus is the answer… is the answer to all the world, the hope that we all seek!  Jesus is the way, the truth, the life!!  God meets us right where we are at….He never forces Himself on us in any way shape or form!  He also takes us at whatever speed we can handle.  If we need to take little tiny baby steps… then He moves us with little tiny baby steps.  If we need to take huge steps…. He moves us in huge steps. 


Well let’s just say that He has moved many people over the last two years forward… closer to Him.  The people who have been moved have been people on both sides of the box-both the givers and the receivers.  We have been so blessed to see many people from North First Street move closer to the Lord and closer along the path to a healthier life style. 


There was Wayne and Virginia- some of the first people we met down there.  They were living by the river in a tent.  They looked like they were about 15 years older than us, but it turns out they were about 4 years younger.  One night they decided that they wanted to start turning their lives around so they chose to stop doing drug runs for people.  This idea didn’t go down so well with certain people so in retaliation- the person lit their tent on fire while they were inside sleeping.  Both had significant burns but didn’t seek medical help.  That night they decided it was time to change their way of life.  Keith and I spent a few evenings speaking life into the couple and encouraging them to seek a better life for themselves.  They ended up leaving town shortly after to return to Oregon to reunite with family.  They were Christians who had fallen away in the past and who decided to run back into the arms of God. 


We have been blessed to see many people get jobs, choose to return home to their families,  or to enter into a rehabilitation program.  One young mother went into rehab, got cleaned up, and then reunited with her children who she had lost custody of.  The love that people have shown by donating clothes, food, money, toilet paper, toiletries, and time have meant so much to so many people whose stories we may never know.  But it is o.k. because by being obedient to what God has told each of us…has made eternal difference for so many people.  Many people who have already asked the Lord into their hearts in their past, have found their way back to Him. 


Just today Keith was driving through town and he saw one of the guys that we used to always see on North First when he was homeless.  He is now in Triumph Treatment Center and is trying to get his life on track.  He walked with the Lord earlier in his life, but fell off the path somewhere along the way.  Today was wonderful because he asked Keith if he could lose his salvation.  Keith had the joy of telling him about the great gift that Jesus gave us when He died.  Keith explained that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that the gift could be taken away if we make bad decisions….. no, Jesus died on the cross to save us from ALL of our sins!!  Two years ago Keith would not have been sharing the gospel on the side of the road with a recovering addict.  Today it is one of the best parts of his day!!


One young family and a separate young man…both returned to their families in California last month.  Both went for different reasons, but both were seeking healing and more of God! 


God has grown us all so much!  He has brought together both believers and non-believers to volunteer on Sundays.  We have never in 103 weeks of serving, asked for people to sign up on a list to volunteer.  We have just trusted that the Lord would bring enough people to serve and help out.  Every single week there has been enough volunteers and enough food to feed the many friends that come on Sundays.  We have seen salvations, a demon cast out, healings, births, and deaths…. God’s might provision as well as His protection!  Fishes and loaves is real!  We have witnessed it so many times.  These things don’t happen with a lot of “hoop la” and attention…but when we look back over the two years…. We can see where these visible miracles were dotted throughout and where many miracles that we could not see…must surely be strewn throughout the weeks also.


We have learned that every single homeless person has his or her own story and that each story is unique.  There has never been a story that could be solved simply….they are always layered with complex issues that have truly made the phrase “Love Not Judge” real and necessary.  We have not just ministered to strangers… we have made true relationships with so many people.  I can only say that we have given many of them hope because that is what they have told us.  My words to the line of strangers 2 Novembers ago “Jesus has not forgotten you and you are not a bum!” meant more to them than I will ever know.  We just know what they have shared with us.


The Lord has shown us that all people should be shown love….it is not based on whether we deserve it or not because none of us deserve it.  We all have “stuff” in our pasts, the stuff may not be as visible as a homeless person’s but it is all the same- sin. 


I am so thankful that I get to be a part of God’s work.  It is not a credit to me as a person….it is a credit to God for bringing so many people together in a beautiful way to show love and support for others.  We are not promised a “next week” with anyone.  We have learned that if you have something to say to someone, say it this week because there may not be a next week.  If the Lord is nudging you to step out of your comfort zone and to reach out to someone else…. Try it…. God won’t leave you hangin’  ….. He will take care of the details… just step out!

Dear Lord, Your love is incomprehensible to me and I can only understand a fraction of it.  What I do know is that You , Lord my God has plans for me…plans to prosper me and to not harm me.  Plans to give me hope and a future. And when I call on You Lord, You will draw near to me.   Thank Your Lord for your faithfulness to us, Your unending love, and Your unending hope!  I pray that

Sunday, September 29, 2013

God- The Author and Illustrator!

God is the author and illustrator of this world well as life!  Today He orchestrated a beautiful smorgasbord of people, stories, and food down on North First Street.  God's orchestrated stories are so beautiful and filled with "aw".    Today was no different, God left me with my mouth wide open saying, "Wow!!!" 

The line was bound to be long since it was the 5th Sunday of the month.  It is long when there are only 4 Sundays in a I knew today was going to big.  In preparation Keith bar-b-cued about 600 hot dogs.  We had about 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we had frozen from the West Valley High School kids.  An old friend brought by a big pan of baked beans, potato salad, and potato chips left over from their gathering the night before so I figured we would be set.  We had a big bag of Don's Donuts and a trailer packed to the top with clothes!

We had an awesome assortment of volunteers for sure today!  We had volunteers come who had not been here for about 9months come visit us and help, we had high school kids volunteering, foreign exchange students from Germany, Vietnam, and Korea (who loved it and who want to come back and help again! Yay!), there were our faithful ones who come so regularly, and even one who was homeless, but is not any more and who loves to give back!  Only God could bring together such a wonderful group of volunteers hungry to serve others!  (See, we don't have a sign up list... we trust that God will bring the people who need to be there... and there are always loving hearts who show up ready to serve. It sure grows my faith!)

There was such a huge mixture of people standing in line today.  There were some of our old favorites along with many many new faces who we have never seen.  There were young children, old people, pregnant mom's, healthy looking faces as well as sickly,  weak, under nourished meth- faces.  One of my favorite old timers lay along the wall of the near by building with his dog faithfully sitting there by him.  He had passed out with his jacket laying half covering his legs and a half finished fifth of whiskey.  I gently placed a bag of left over doughnuts next to him trying not to alarm him.  He made a couple unintelligible utterances and then lay back in his fog.  I have such a huge heart for Bill but I know that the bottle of whiskey has him shackled.

On the other hand... I heard that another favorite old timer was doing much better.  Willy was the older gentleman who was asleep inside a big hollow pipe when someone lit him on fire.  Willy wasn't able to care for his burns so ended up back in the hospital where they eventually moved him to a nursing home.  Henry, one of Willy's friends, said that Willy looks really good!  He said that Willy had a bath, that he gets 3 meals a day, and is doing really great!  Whenever he tells other people where Willy is staying, he always warns them not to bring any liquor around because Willy has not had a drink since he went in and he wants to see Willy have a chance.  The drs. at the hospital told Willy that if he hadn't come back in for treatment that he would have probably lost both of his arms.  I am so happy that Willy is not going to lose both of his could he hug me back?  :0) Please keep praying for Willy.

Our friend Amanda lives by the river with a few other friends who all take care of each other.  Amanda needs to get to Neighborhood Health this week because she is almost sure that she is pregnant.  If you could see Amanda, you would probably know she was pregnant.  I gave her my quick talk about the importance of getting pre-natal care for the baby.  We talked about special needs babies and how important pre-natal care is.  I pray that Amanda isn't drugging any more...if she is pregnant, we will have more talks about the effects of drugs on an unborn baby.  I like Amanda and her friends a lot.  They have kind hearts...being a drug addict does not mean that you have an uncaring heart... it means that something else dictates your every move...As we stood around, Amanda's two friends started sharing with me a little bit about their lives.  The only man in the group is in his late 40's.  He was standing with a lady who was his first friend when he came to Yakima back in 1979.  He was 12 years old when his mom threw him out of the house and said never come back.... yes, no kidding.... he has been on his own since he was 12 and his friend was 14 years old when she was kicked out of her house.  They have been hanging out ever since and just try to take care of each other as well as the few other friends that have joined them.  So is it a surprise that he is fathering a child that Amanda is carrying?  Not really, but it is a mystery to me how they have survived that way of life for so long.  Mr. D. as I call him, did not go on through school past 12 years of age.  He has worked on and off helping roof houses, carpentry jobs, etc. 

What God is showing me over and over is that I can not assume that every person started out with the same set of life experiences growing up as I did... du? right?  But we judge people as if they had the same roof over their head growing up as we did, the same table full of food, warm blankets, a bed, a mom and dad to kiss them good night, an education, someone to go to when school was hard or friends were mean....and we think-  "Why don't they just go get a job....stop living off of the system....get a life- we all had to."  But see, the race isn't fair-  we are running the race with legs.... and some of them are trying to stay in the race as amputees- running through life on the nubs of their amputated limbs.  I personally couldn't have made it on the streets at 12 years old.  I was still playing with dolls when I was 12... or at least dressing them and doing their hair :0).  I couldn't have found my own food, stayed warm, or figured out how to stay safe.  And if I had... I surely wouldn't have a kind hearted attitude to others like Amanda and her friends.  They care for each other and try to protect each other.  I pray that Amanda's baby is safe and that she is not doing any drugs at this time...  if she is... it only means that I have huge compassion for both she and the baby.

Linda from the river came right at the very end today wearing a short little skirt and a borrowed coat.  We had all of the boxes packed up and we were getting ready to pray.  She said, "I missed the food, but I am here for the best part!"  She joined hands with us and we all prayed a beautiful prayer of thanks for God's beautiful provision!  After we were finished, Linda whispered in my ear that she has been clean for 45 days.  She only needed a coat or sweater because the one that she had on was borrowed.  Keith looked in the back of the trailer and laying on the top of a ton of empty clothes bins were two nice warm women's jackets that were perfect for her!  I don't know how they weren't given out because we went through so many bins of clothes, but they were waiting right there for her!  God is so amazing and it was fun to share that with Linda!  I am so proud of her and happy for her that she is trying very hard to get clean. 

My friend Lucy started working at Walmart and is back with her man who would like to marry her and who has stopped drinking.  They are both seeking the Lord and seeking a life together without the things that messed them up in the past.  Praise God!!!

So as you can see there were a smorgasbord of stories, but there was also a smorgasbord of food!!! We brought about 600 hot dogs, plus the food I spoke of above, in addition to a huge roasting pan filled with chili dogs that someone brought, pans and pans of macaroni and cheese, quiche, potato dishes, spaghetti, water, chips, 20 Domino's pizzas that they donated, Don's Donuts, homemade cookies, fruit snacks, a huge cooler of homemade potato soup,  and probably more that I am missing, but you see God orchestrated all of it!  He knew that the need for food was going to be huge today and he prompted so many different people's hearts.  We don't sign up on any lists or call each other. I told a couple of the ladies that we were doing hot dogs, but everyone else brought the food on their own accord.  The Lord prompted them and they acted in beautiful obedience!  Close to the end, one of the volunteers said that we were not going to have enough hot dogs and wanted to know if I had any peanut butter or jelly in the car.  I did not have any because I didn't think we would need it.  By the time that I got over to check and see exactly how many people still needed food, the volunteers at the front of the line all looked at me with amazement and then told me how they only had one hot dog left, but when they went to move the pan, more hot dogs rolled across the juice filled pan.  I also stood in amazement as they pointed to the last man in line and said, "See, that was the last hot dog."  I wanted to jump with joy and cry at the same time!  How great is our God that He cares for each one of those homeless people-  even the ones at the end of the line--- the man at the end of the line today was looking up, talking to himself- looking quite disconnected from life-  yes, God cares for ALL people!  Even the ones who don't look like they have a purpose or a place.  At God's table, there is Always a place for EVERYONE!  Thank You Jesus for Your amazing provision!  Thank You that you never give up on us and that You Pursue ALL people!  I talked with a lot of people today who knew and were very thankful that God prepared a banquet for them! 

I have been reading in Colossians this week.  Colossians 1: 6 says, "This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.  It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about
God's wonderful grace."  How beautiful is that?  God is changing lives.... changing the lives of the volunteers as well as the lives of our North First Street Friends.  What I see happening on North First Street... is that lives are changing... people are making changes towards improving their lives... changes in their daily decisions, changes in how they see God, and changes in how they see that God views them.  Further in Colossians 1:10 it says, "Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.  All the while, you will grow as you lean to know God better and better."  Every day I am learning to know God better and better.... til the day I die I want to keep learning to know God better and better.  I know that many of our friends on North First Street are also getting to know God better and better.  Thank You Precious Lord for Your beautiful, gentle way that You reveal Yourself to us as we continue to trust You and lean into You!  We love You Always!!! In Jesus Holy Name-  Amen  :0)