Monday, February 27, 2012

After The Curtain Is Down....

 (This is part 2 of a 2 part blog. Part 1 of 2  is the blog right below this one :0)  We have no idea what happens after we leave North 1st Street.  We do not know where our friends go, what they do, or what impact we have made on them.  We all pack up our things, close the trailer door, hop in our cars and head back to our own homes.  This past Sunday we were able to see some more fun "God sightings" after we packed up.  As you read in the previous blog, we ordered tacos from "George's" taco place.  Well after we got back home and unloaded, we had to go back and pay George for the tacos which led us right back down to North 1st Street.  When we first got down to George's he was very busy getting orders for people so he invited us into the kitchen to sit and wait until he was ready.  It was nice and toasty warm and was also fun watching George and his wife cook up wonderful food.  When George had a free moment- he came over and asked if we would like some tacos to take home so of course we said, "Sure!"  He fixed us up two nice orders and then it was time to pay our bill and go.  We settled our debt with George and then asked if we could pray for him and his wife.  They were more than happy to pray with us.  What a wonderful sight to see- the four of us with our arms around each others shoulders, heads bowed, giving glory to God and asking for prosperity for George and his wife's business.  Big hugs were exchanged and then we were off headed back towards home. 
      Keith looked at me and said, "You know now we need to find someone to bless with these tacos."  A big smile came over my face because I knew that was what he was going to say.... it is so fun walking in the spirit!  We made our way up the road and stopped at a motel where an older man lives with his wife.  We had some clothes to drop off to them that we had promised.  They lived in a tiny little motel room that was very full, but their smiles beamed through the darkness of the night with thanks and blessings!  Who says you have to have a lot to be filled with joy?  As long as Jesus is in the mix, the other details don't seem quite so necessary.   We continued down the road to a different motel where we had to drop off some school supplies- (Long story- but we met them at least a month ago and had school supplies for them then...but some how they were lost in the hustle bustle of North 1st Street) Let's just say the supplies were long overdue.  Five children sat playing video games in a darkened motel room... so happy to get the supplies.... that was home... I take a lot for granted.  It never ceases to "hit me in the gut" every time I see the conditions many people live in.  Needless to say- we said, "Bless you guys and be safe!" then off we went down the street. (Never a dull moment lol) 
     Well.... remember the tacos?  Yes... we still had to find who was going to be treated to some yummy tacos.  It didn't take long to spot a young man walking down the other side of the street with his backpack on... "Yep- he's one of ours," Keith said-  The young man was just getting ready to cross the street under the street light when we pulled up with our window rolled down.  "Hey man- are you hungry?  Would you like some food?" "Ya!  Thanks!! Wow-  what do you guys do just drive around looking for people to give stuff to?" responded the young man.  We laughed and said, "Sort of"  The guy replied, "You just made the worst day of my life better."  Our mouths about dropped down to our feet.  We asked what was going on and he told us how he had just had a big fight with his girlfriend.  He said that he left his infant baby and girlfriend because he did not want to have a "domestic".  He knew that it would escalate and he would wind up in jail so he left the place with his backpack and headed out on the streets.  It was obvious that he was really shaken up.  We praised him over and over again for the really good choice that he made by getting out before something got out of hand and then Keith asked if we could pray for him.  With heads bowed and Keith's hand on his shoulder, we prayed for strength, wisdom, for his little baby, and for a peaceful reconciliation with his girl.  He thanked us again and with tears in his eyes walked off.  (Again.. this is so not about us!  And it is SO SO all about God and how great He is... How great it is to walk in His Spirit.... and how being a christian really is anything but "boring".   :0)
     Well... as you know- there is still one box of tacos left... Hmmmm who is going to get to eat the last box of yummy tacos?  We kept heading in the direction of home and before we knew it there was a friendly man standing on the corner with a sign... and a dog... Now it was my turn... I rolled down my window and held out the box of tacos- "Hi-  would you like some yummy tacos for dinner?"  He gave the biggest smile and whopped- "Yes indeed!-"  It was great to see him so thrilled and I have to admit... I felt quite a rush of pure joy also!!! Well..... we headed on home and settled in with our own dinner and routines of the evening, but no matter what... we couldn't help but think of what a fun day it had been!  Thank you Jesus for teaching me every day how great it is to walk with You!! I love You! In Jesus Name- Amen!!! :0)

Our Identity....

Our identity as Christians is in Christ Jesus who died on the cross for our sins.  We are God's adopted children...Ephesians 1:4 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will... "   We are "Made Alive in Christ!" and we are "One in Christ!"  I love Ephesians because it was the one chapter that I continue to cling to since I have been saved.  When I first became a Christian I read the words over and over in Ephesians because I was no longer defined by my sins, but rather defined by the forgiveness and grace from God our Father!  I was no longer the clumsy, awkward, divorced, single mom, with a drug addicted ex-husband.  I was no longer the dysfunctional person that just couldn't get it together... I was gifted into a place of forgiveness, grace, and mercy.  I was a chosen, predestined, forgiven, precious child of God!  Thank you Jesus!!
     This identity in Christ is so important because it helps explain to me what is inside every single person... and that is a desire to be "somebody"... not the "paranoid schizophrenic" or the "crack whore" or the "drug addict" or the "homeless guy".  I am guilty of identifying the people who we have been serving for the past 4 months with some of these terms.  I used the word prostitute rather than "whore" but it is no better because what I was missing was the fact that they have names and they are people who should not be identified by their sins but rather by who they are.  Some are believers and some are not believers (yet)  :0)   but they are all God's creations!  (Dear Lord please forgive me now for labeling your children.  Pls. help me to continue to see the people they are.) 
    This occurred to me as I was listening to two women fight this week down on North 1st.  A woman's teenage children had called another woman a "whore" and she was ready to let them have it.  It struck me that the word "whore" is a terrible insult even if the person sells her body for money/drugs.  Last week a lady was ready to pull out a knife and mess a guy up for calling her that.... what these women have taught me is that in their hearts, they know that they desire to be more than their actions and choices.  We are all so much more than our choices... we are human beings with feelings and a soul that desires to be loved and accepted... It is only Jesus Christ who can completely fill that role...
My prayer is that we will build enough of a relationship with our new friends that we can introduce them to Jesus.... So far... I think that relationship is developing in the right direction week after week.
     I truly believe that they know that we truly care and are concerned with their well being.  I believe that they are drawn to the love of Christ that pours out on them.  It was so fun this week... My job at first was to walk along the line of people who were waiting for food and offer them treats.  I had a box full of little bags filled with Cheetos, fruit snacks, candy, chips, and almonds.  I walked along and offered them a snack while they were standing in line waiting for their lunch.  ( It also helped keep the agitation down.  Hungry stomachs mixed with paranoia, coming off drugs or right in the middle of a high, standing with friends as well as enemies of the street tends to make for agitated people.)  Well I was able to walk along and offer them a treat as well as a kind smile, "How was your week?", or a  "Happy to see you back!"-  It is the best feeling to feel Jesus' love flowing out and seeing their response to it.  Sometimes there might be an anti-social "no-thanks" accompanied with no eye contact and a turned shoulder... but I think that is a reflection of possible mental illness or past pain that I can't blame them for.  It is just an honor and a privilege to be able to serve the people who Jesus loves. 
     The day was beautiful, cold- but beautiful.  We had great volunteers who served with such love.  It was neat this week because we met down the street at the Harley Davidson Store with the volunteers before setting up so that we could pray together and all be on the same page.  Many bags of clothing went as well as many many sandwiches!  (Thank you so much to all those people who have dropped clothes by the house or spent time making cookies, sandwiches, treats etc.  You are so appreciated!  I pray that God blesses you abundantly!  You have brought much joy to many people!).  At one point someone came to Keith and said we were out of food.  Like "fishes and loaves" Keith looked over at the taco restaurant next door and had someone go and get tacos.  It blessed the owner "George" and his wife as well as our friends.  Shortly after... we found more sandwiches under the table and continued to hand them out.  All of the sandwiches went... all of the tacos.... and Olivia and I were still making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few late guests.  Wow God-  You really do make a little into a lot!! Always enough!!! Thank you Jesus for your great great love!
     One more observation before I sign off to finish dinner... We had 2 more fights that were just about to break out.  (Thank you Bob for keeping the peace!)  In the bible it says that just the name of Jesus will make the demons run.  It talks about the power of the name of "Jesus".  I was blessed to see this happen.  Two different arguments broke out between people.  They were yelling and calling each other names... I felt the boldness of the Lord and walked up to each person as it occurred and say, "This is not o.k.  God is the one who brought us here.  We are sharing our food, our clothes, and Jesus with you.  You need to stop... now."  (First off-  that is not so much my personality to go confront someone and second- they stopped!  Praise the Lord!! On each account the person stopped yelling... apologized, and said they would stop the drama.  I believe the name of Jesus convicted their spirits and they stopped.)  Thank you Jesus for anointing our time on North 1st street.  Thank you for being our hedge of protection and for moving in places and ways that we can not begin to understand!  May we continue to serve you and I pray that Your Love Jesus... Penetrates Their Hearts!  In Jesus Holy Name- Amen  :0)

Monday, February 20, 2012

More on Monday...

So what does walking in the spirit look like?  I can't give you the 100% complete definition, but I know that by sharing with you Keith's afternoon.... you will get a better idea of what it looks like.  Keith left the house to "run errands" about 1:00.  He returned about 5:30 with some amazing stories so I would like to share them with you.  Keith had to deliver some equipment today in the lower valley and then on his way home he thought he might go hit some golf balls at the golf course since it was so pritty out.  He asked the Lord what He had for Keith today and which way he should head home.  Well.... Keith felt the Lord prompting him to go down first street and to stop at the restaurant that lets us use their parking lot on Sundays.  He stopped by and talked to the owner and his family, thanking them for the kindness that they have extended us.  Keith bought some tacos from them and went on his way.  Again he asked the Lord which way he should go... the way he went just happened to be the way that went by two of our homeless friends that we had visited with on Sunday.  Keith pulled up and offered them the tacos.  They were so happy- their faces lit up like a light bulb.  "We saw you over there!" they exclaimed.  "God Bless you!" yelled Keith as he drove off.
      As Keith continued down the road he saw a man trying to get across traffic with his wheel chair.  As Keith got closer he could see that the man had one leg amputated and was using his good foot to get across the street.  Keith pulled off and parked in the nearby apartment parking lot.  As the man approached, Keith could see that he was an older black man holding a carton of eggs.  They struck up a conversation and Keith asked him, "What do you need?" The old man replied, "Nothing."  After explaining that God sent him and that He has not forgotten the old man, Keith said, "Now, will you please tell me what you need?"  The man said that he could use some food.  He had just gone to the mini mart and gotten some eggs but he said that he only had 4 boxes of cereal and some milk.  Keith asked, "What would you buy that is a treat for you?"  The man replied, "Strawberry Icecream."  Keith asked if he liked steak... and the man said that he hadn't had it for 3 months.  Keith got in the car and grabbed a box of clothes that were there from the past Sunday.  He gave the man the clothes and said he would be back.  As Keith was walking to the car, the man said, "This is a good day."  Keith zipped to Safeway on 5th. and gathered some groceries then returned to the old man's apartment.  Out came two grown boys and a woman who Keith later found out were his sons and wife.  They helped with the groceries then the old man  rolled his chair out with Keith.  They talked a bit about Jesus and then Keith asked the wife what she needed.  She was twitching like a lot of the druggies that we see on Sundays as were the boys.  The wife replied to Keith , "I don't need anything."  Keith spoke boldly and said, "Look, the Lord sent me to come here so it is like God sent you an angel so will you please tell me what you need?"  The woman's guard fell and she softened with a smile, "Clothes, I could use some clothes."  Keith told them he would see them later in the week. "God Bless you!" he said.  "Thank you" the old man called out, "This has been a very good day."...... "This has been a very good day,"  this statement makes my heart smile. 
     When you walk in the spirit, you never know what the Lord is going to ask you to do or what you will encounter... the awesome thing is that you have a really good chance of making someone's day, "really good."  I want to live my life this way... I want to go through my day following the Lord's lead, being sensitive to His voice.  I do not share this to boast about how Keith is "all that" (even though I think he is because he's my husband lol)  No... I share this because I boast on the Lord... I want to be God's cheeerleader, to share how amazing it is when we follow His lead.  How "the little things" of God make incredible differences in people's hearts.   We all have access to this.  The Lord tells us in  Hebrew 4:7  “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”  Lord I pray that you will help my heart to soften and stay soft... that you will help me to hear your voice and put your request into action!  Give me strength to be bold, to reach out, to put my self out there as your servant.  In Jesus Holy Name... Amen

Oops Forgot the Pics from this week :0)

Fun pictures from the weekend.... A beautiful day...with the Lord! :0)

On The Radar...

I love Keith's take on our day this past Sunday.."We are now on the radar..."  "Of Who?"I asked...."Of the demons".  O.K.... in the past I would have been really freaked out, but since I was there... I agree with him.  No fear though because God says, "Do not be afraid, I am with you." :0)  
     Well let me back up to the beginning.... This past Sunday we set out to North First Street with our rigs full and our hearts excited to see what the Lord would bring.  The previous two days bags of clothes arrived on our door step and we were busy cooking up a storm.  I may not enjoy cooking dinner a whole lot, but I sure enjoy cooking for God's people :0)   Keith baked up a bunch of cookies while Olivia and I wrapped a load of baked potatoes in tinfoil because this week we wanted to serve baked potatoes, nacho cheese, chili, chips, and some kind of dessert. 
     So with rigs full and hearts beating fast.... we pulled into our regular spot.  A group of people were waiting for us when we arrived and were happy to help unload.  We had a number of new volunteers so we took some time to organize then lickety split... the back of the trailer was opened... tables were passed along assembly line style and food was strategically placed to allow for the easiest access.  As the line of people continued to grow, we called people to press in a little closer so that we could pray... but first  God gave me a word.  The past two days He had been laying it on my heart that our guests were ready for a little more "meat" --- Not the kind that you eat... but more meat for them to chew on in their hearts... So I proceeded to give them the word that I felt the Lord wanted me to share.  It was simply that we had all been together for almost 4 months now which meant that they were becoming like family and if they were becoming like family then I would be wrong if I didn't share with them the truth that I knew about Jesus.  I explained that I would do the same for my actual family, so I needed to do the same for them.  I told them how Jesus died for their sins and that He wasn't asking them to quit drinking, drugs, or smoking... He just wanted to be invited into their hearts.  I showed them my typed out A-Admit that your are a sinner,  B- Believe that Jesus was real and died on the cross for your sins,  and C- Choose Jesus as your Savior to be the head of your life.  Nothing fancy, just the same thing that we tell our Sunday school kids.  We continued by praying for our meal and then we proceeded with the food. 
     What was interesting was that from the beginning of my "talk"  there was one particular man who was cussing and arguing in the bunch but it sounded at first like murmurs.  You couldn't really identify where it was coming from.  Part way through my talk I even said, "Hey- let's give God some respect here."  Many of the homeless people said, "Ya.. Listen Up" but this one particular man continued to be argumentative and eventually punched another guy in line.  Keith quickly worked his way into the bunch and escorted the man through the line quickly.  He did not want anything to eat and ended up walking off across the street- he was not very happy, but we were amazed how one person could cause such confusion and chaos in such a short time. 
     Most of the day was very peaceful after that.  People were eating, finding clothes, and talking in small groups.  Some of us were able to walk around and talk to our guests as they ate.  It was really neat because this one group of men said something that really touched me.  This man said, "Thank you so much for this.  You bring happiness to us every week."  He continued, "Look around at all of these people.  Do you see that they are happy?  It is you people who come every week.  Thank you for bringing happiness."  Wow!  This touched me so much because if you just glanced at the crowd, you would see people eating and getting some bags of clothes but so much more happens that we don't see.  God things happen, things in the spiritual realm that we are not even aware of.... David came today and stayed the whole time again.  He had such a peaceful look on his face.  He seemed sober and "in the present".  He even had a smile on his face that was so different than the haunted look that we had seen in the past.  David shared that he had gone to Westside Baptist to church that morning... I about fell over.  It wasn't just my imagination that he was softening... he really was starting to seek the Lord more than we had ever seen.  Spiritual things in the Heavenly's were happening....
     Partly through the afternoon two ladies came up that we had not seen before.  They went through the food line and started looking at clothes.  Eventually they wandered down the alley but not for long.  Shortly after, one of the women came back came back along the alley way and started yelling profanity at a young guy who was standing by the street.  Earlier he had been ranting and raving by himself- yelling into the air at enemies that could not be seen... When the lady approached him with cursing and threats, he directed his rants to her.  He called her very crude names that included the words "crack whore".  Let's just say that they were not received well.  The lady continued to approach the guy as she screamed a line of profanity that took care of teaching Olivia (our 10 year old daughter) the complete unabridged list of curse words.  I guess I don't have to worry about her learning them from her peers. (funny, but not funny).  When I saw what was occurring I quickly walked over and gently put my hand on the young woman's shoulder and tried position myself between the two.  I steered her in the opposite direction while Keith and Will intercepted the guy. 
     What was so crazy was what seemed to calm her down the most.  I said things like, "You don't really want to go to jail tonight, just ignore him, he is drunk- just walk away."  Those things didn't do much to calm her... but when I said, "It was wrong of him to call you a whore.  You are not a whore, you are a woman and you are someones daughter.  That was really disrespectful."  She stopped and looked at me and said, "Thanks,  thanks a lot, I appreciate that."  In all of her layers of hardness- lay a person who may sell her body to support her drug habit, but she is not a whore.  She went on to tell me that she could kill him if she wanted to and that he doesn't want to mess with her... which I am sure that she could... but the point is that even this extremely tough hardened drug addict who would risk going to jail or even prison for murder still had a heart that did not want to be crushed with the hopeless degrading words of a "crack whore".  God knows that even the most hurting person .... wants to be "acceptable"... wants to be loved or at least not be called "the worst".  She eventually softened a little bit and I was able to tell her that I hoped to see her next week. "Keep yourself safe this week God Bless!". 
     Well that was only 1/2 of the story because what was happening over with Keith and Will was flat- "freaky!"  Keith and Will kept talking to the guy- they tried to get him to calm down a bit.  He was upset and ranting when suddenly he stopped and started quoting Ephesians.  Keith said there was something weird about his voice and his eyes.  Keith looked directly into the guys name and said, "What is your name?"  The guy responded with his own name, but there was a defiant look in his eyes.  Keith continued to ask, "What is your name?" Keith pointed at the guy and said, "You have demons inside of you.  Come out!"  The guy screamed out loudly a few times and dropped down to his knees, then he started sobbing.  Will bent down and asked him if he wanted prayer.  Will proceeded to pray for the guy and then Keith did the same.  In Keith's prayer, he spoke to the demons and commanded them to leave.  The guy rose to his feet with a completely different look on his face.  He was crying and smiling.  He said, "Come on let's go pray with the rest of them" (By this time, the volunteers and some of the homeless were praying together in a circle as we do every week at the end.)  The Keith, Will, and the guy joined us in the group and we prayed again.  The guy asked for a bible and opened it as soon as it was in his hands.  Keith and Will continued to talk to the young man and give him some encouragement for his week.  He has a job interview this Thursday- so they encouraged him with this too. 
-  Wow, wow, and wow!! I don't think it has the same effect in black and white as it had in 3-D live action, but all I can say is wow!!

Was that comfortable? No... was it familiar??? Besides reading it in Mark 5..... No... but thank you Jesus for stretching us and helping us grow as we listen to your voice!  Thank you for helping us to get beyond ourselves and to peek into the heavenly's a little bit...  We want to serve you every day... please help soften our hearts so that we can hear your voice and see with "Jesus eyes".  We love you always! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2nd Hand Story....

Today was a different day than we’ve had in the past…. I wasn’t there,,,LOL… No seriously now…
In the beginning of Luke it talks about how Luke was a physician and a historian.  He did not walk with Jesus, but he spent a lot of time interviewing and hanging out with the people who did.  Today I had a meeting at the church that made it so that Keith went down to first street without me and I was supposed to meet him. Good intention but…. I walked home and realized that I didn’t have keys to the house so I couldn’t get in.  I decided to walk up to Wray’s and go grocery shopping since I couldn’t do anything about it.  I had God’s peace that said, “Well I guess I am not supposed to be there today.” 

After I got home I sat on the front steps and waited.  Before I knew it the suburban pulled around the corner pulling the little trailer.   My face lit up and I started waving like crazy because I couldn’t wait to hear how things went.  So….. like Luke… I can now give an account of what happened from a 2nd hand perspective.  (It is a blessing to be a reporter of God sightings!!! )
And yes… He really showed up!! (As if He wouldn’t.  You would think that by this time I wouldn’t be so amazed… but I continue to be.) 

Keith said that when they pulled up on North First St. there were a handful of  people waiting for them.  Within minutes 20+ people were gathered around waiting for things to get going.  Keith thought that between 75 and 100 people wandered through in the two hours that they were there.  He said that it was really peaceful out there today.  There were a lot of people, but he said that so many needs were met… hunger, blankets, clothes…. He said it was so neat to watch.  All throughout the day- people  would come up and ask for a certain size or particular need and he would think we didn’t have it, turn around and check,  and find the exact size or specific need…. He said it was so evident that God was there…..

Keith and I have come to see that if we get a lot of something donated throughout the week- then there will probably be a lot of people specifically needing that item on Sunday. This week it was XL t-shirts and size 34-36 pants.  Today was also different because of the 75-100 people, there were only about 20 who were our regulars… the rest were new people.  They came with new fresh needs as well as new fresh brokenness…… At one point it was “awkwardly” quiet.  People were milling around but it was strangely silent.  I asked Keith why he thought that was and he wasn’t sure….. I think it might have had to do with the fact that a lot of the people were new, broken, non-trusting, and trying to figure out what we were all about.  I think a lot of our regulars have learned through time to trust us and so they hang out and visit.  -   When Kasey  (One of the committed teen volunteers that is on fire for the Lord) said that there were a lot of new people who seemed really broken… my heart seemed to crack a little bit… I want so badly for them to be set free with the LOVE OF JESUS! 

I love what Keith told Kasey… he said,  “We are the vessels of God’s word to go out to the world”. 

The AWESOME thing is that God’s word is getting to them… we are seeing the fruits of that.  David (the David I have spoken of earlier) stayed both last week and this week to the very end.  He stood around and waited 2 hours- not really visiting with anyone, just watching….And then at the end….he came right up to the circle of volunteers to join with them in prayer. ……. He was actively seeking the presence of the Lord!!! This is a miracle to me… David is the first person that I met out on 1st  street that seemed possessed to me…He was twitching and his face was contorted.  His eyes were bloodshot red from the drugs he had done…. He didn’t smile or speak…. Today at the end, David came up on his own, joined hands with the group as we prayed, and then he looked at Keith and said, “Thank You” in his drawn out speech that sounds almost like he has had a stroke.  Wow God… You are so so amazing!!!

Chris… the young gal that I have also spoken of on many occasions…. Came up today at the end.  She was hunched over and kind of limping.  When she looked up, Chris had fingernail claw like marks down the side of her face from her forehead, down her cheeks, and also her neck.  Her ear was bleeding and she had a large bug bite on her back that made it so she couldn’t stand up straight.  She lifted the back of her shirt up to show us… she had a nasty infection.  Kasey approached her and asked her how her week has been.  She said the week was fine up until this morning.  Kasey asked if she could pray for her and Chris agreed.  This was a first.  She is a tough independent gal who has never received prayer before.  Chris cried today…Jesus is softening her heart.  I just pray that she does not get any more seriously hurt.  Dear Jesus-  Please protect Chris and help her to find your loving, healing truth!

A guy who looked about 18 yrs. old drove up and dropped off a bunch of bags of clothes.  He handed them to Keith, turned around, and left.  When Keith looked inside, he couldn’t believe it.  There were brand new shoes, boxers, and shampoo.  We don’t know who it was or where he came from, but we were so thankful that he did.  God supplies our needs in the most unpredictable ways!  Needless to say… all of the things he donated…. Were gone within no time!  Only God knows the needs, and only God provides what is needed to fill them.  Thank You God!!!

One more interesting story….. An old man walked up pushing a shopping cart that was an engineering masterpiece…. He was in his 50’s ….. pushing a shopping cart that had been jacked up on bicycle wheels.  It was filled with pop cans and an array of other possessions obsessively organized to perfection.  This gentleman was not in a very good mood but he wanted to check out what was going on.  Someone asked if he would like a sandwich and he just about bit their head off because- he doesn’t eat bread- “that stuff is bad for you”.  Someone else offered him water and he yelled- “There is stuff in the water…. I don’t drink that stuff”.  The things that were offered to him were good nutritious things that would benefit him but he thought we were crazy to try and get him to take it.  He yelled at our people and then took off with his cart…..What is ironic is that earlier he had been spotted dumpster diving around the corner.   We can look at him and see that something is not quite right with him because who would reject food and water when he had so little?   Isn’t this how some people feel about God??? We know that God is good for them and would benefit them, but some people react to us like we are offering them poison…..  They fight off the idea and run the other way feeling insulted and untrusting.  Hmmmmm…. Just like you can’t force food onto someone that doesn’t want it…. You can’t force Jesus onto someone that isn’t ready for it…. I guess they both need to be a little hungrier.

Thank you Lord for letting me experience You through 2nd hand stories that I treasure because they reflect Your Glory!! I can’t wait for next week to see what you are up to…. You truly amaze me, encourage me, and draw me in…week after week!

Monday, February 6, 2012

City on a Hill

In Matthew 5:14 it says, "You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden."  Matthew 5:16  continues "Let your light so shine before men."  Jesus is the light of the world and His Holy Spirit lives within us.  This is such a beautiful picture that Jesus has painted for us..... A picture of millions of Christians walking the earth as little twinkling sparkles....that bring encouragement and life to a dying world.  We have been blessed with the chance to see first hand what that looks like every week on North First Street.  Our adventure began as 6 boxes layed out on the sidewalk with Keith and I nervously wondering if anyone would actually stop and take something.... We were literally two little lights standing in the dark... now 3 1/2 months later... the number of volunteers that shine their light has expanded significantly.  We usually have about 8 regulars but the number of new volunteers that have started coming is amazing!  It is so fun to see friends, family, church friends, work friends... from all over.. come out and shine their light.  The cool thing is that when you put a lot of little lights together, the illumination is so very bright!
     This week was no different... Our tables were layed out in a nice straight line with clothes layed out and ready to go.  Fish and loaves.... there always seems to be enough.  We had a variety of people bringing sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, homemade cookies, and cocoa.  The sun beat down on our backs and seemed to warm us down to our toes.  The day went by in a very easy, laid back way.  People came in a steady stream, but didn't seem demanding or rushed.  They filled garbage sack after garbage sack with clothes and food... but they didn't leave in a hurry.  Our friends seemed to want to hang out... to stay around and visit- amongst each other, but also amongst us.  What was so neat was that the volunteers weren't the only lights shining in the darkness.  Some of our  new friends have started turning towards the light and an inner light in them is starting to shine.  Mike- one of our homeless friends went to a church speaking function down in the lower valley that lasted a couple days... he was different this week.  Mike had a peace in his face and more of a purpose in his step.  He wanted to help us and didn't just want to receive. 
     Hector has recently gotten back on his prescription medication and seems to be in the "here and now."  This is a great change for him.  The last few weeks he has chosen to stick around and hang out til the end.  Hector as well as David, Mike and about 5 other homeless friends stayed with us and prayed at the end-  hand in hand.  From heaven it must have looked like a beautiful twinkling ring of light.  Another great thing was that a table of homeless friends that were sitting off to the side asked us to hold on and not start praying until they got over to us.  Wow!!!  Jesus was there... He was all over the lot... shining through so many people... people on both sides of the box  :0)    Jesus asks us to let our lights shine and to not keep our lights under a bush.  What ever hill you live on.... let your light shine!!! Whether it be a city on a hill or a desk in a corner office... let your light shine!!! Never worry that it won't be bright enough.... If you have ever been camping deep in the forest where it is as dark as the inside of a cow... then you know that it doesn't take much more than an ember to cast a bit of light into the darkness.  Jesus always fills in where we fall short... Thank you Lord for your mercy!!! He doesn't say- "let your light shine, but only if you are 100 watts or brighter... no, The Lord just calls us to let our light shine... we need to trust that it will be enough. 
     Our cocoa container broke and we lost all of our cocoa on the rocks, but no worries, because Jesus' light was shining so bright that it didn't really make much of a difference.  All of the food went, the cookies-eggs- and sandwiches.... Jesus is always enough!!! Fish and loaves.... we unpack a trailor filled to the brim with clothes and we see bag after bag walk down the street, but in the end we still have boxes of clothes that we pack back into the trailor because as we give clothes out.... wonderful kind people are bringing bags of clothes to us that they have collected from friends or family.  Our job is to let our light shine and Jesus always holds up his end of the deal and provides.... Thank you Jesus for calling us to show up and love.... and thank you for providing for all of our needs and for covering the whole thing in your amazing love!!! In Jesus Holy Name.... Amen :0)