“When we go into Kensington as the body of Christ, it changes the situation.” - James Holt
Keeping this truth in the back of our minds, about 105 of us boarded on some buses headed for Kensington Avenue.
Now if you've never been there before, you'll notice certain keywords when you search Kensington on Google:
- Drug corners
I had been there one time before and had already seen a drug deal on a street corner. It's so easy to only see the mess, the drugs, the smell, the trash… but God sees something else. God sees people and He desperately wants them to know Him.
So there we were, all 105 of us, bringing hope to real people who need Christ just as much as we do. Each of us packed 2 meals containing a sandwich and a water bottle. Combined, that was over 200+ meals!
As our group got off the bus, it was immediately easy to feel intimidated and not want to be there. I suppose Jonah might have felt that way about Nineveh.
We kept our focus, and many of the homeless came right up to us for the meals and hygiene packs. It's amazing how God uses a physical need to, more importantly, provide a spiritual need as well.
Over the course of an hour, my group was able to offer meals and prayer with about 10 homeless men and women. Some only wanted the food we had to give, but how blessed we were to even minister to them in that way alone.
When I gave a meal to the first man I came across, I asked him how I could pray for him. He openly said he was on heroin for years and was trying to beat his addiction. He had a 14-year-old daughter at home he was trying to get back to.
One man hurt his hand, so we went to the pharmacy next door and got him ice and an ace bandage to help the swelling go down.
The stories didn't stop. One lost his job two months ago and was separated from his family in El Salvador. A man was number five on a waiting list, attempting to get into a home. A woman got into a fight and hurt her arm. One man was in prison years ago, and was now trying to get his life together.
They looked scary. The selfish part of me wanted to just go back on the bus and be done. I didn't want to walk up to them, but I'm glad we did. Most of them were extremely friendly. These were hurting people, and we got the opportunity to pray with them, give them hugs, shake their hands, and even invite them to church and talk about God.
All this to say, sometimes God calls us into uncomfortable situations. If we can take a moment to see past people’s problems and see people, real people, how can we not share Christ with them? It's only another reminder that we see the outward appearance but God sees the heart. How humbling!
I challenge you today to look around your city or town. What are the physical needs? How can you provide a spiritual need by means of a physical one? You don't have to go to Kensington to find hurting people. They're all around us. Let's make an impact by loving deeply and bringing hope to the broken. As the body of Christ, we can change the situation.
Something that caught my attention right away about this book was redefining the word grace. We've gotten so accustomed to it. Every sermon is about it. It's something we've been given, and something we should give away. But do we really understand it… the depth of what it truly means?
Something I learned was that Jesus never used the word grace, though he continually showed us what it looked like throughout his life and ministry. He even shows us that same grace today.
Grace and forgiveness has been a topic I have been studying in-depth this year, and Grace is Greater has really been a great read. Kyle has such a way with words, and his openness to share, even from his personal experience, makes this book that much better.
This book, written by Nicole Weider, is a must read for Christian young women. As I read this, it felt less like reading a book, and more like flipping through the pages of a magazine. Similar in style to Nicole's website, she covers a number of topics, ranging from beauty and fashion tips, to relationships, overcoming depression, and sharing your faith. Project Inspired challenges young girls to face culture with the mind of Christ.
The Chase was simply a joy to read. Written by married couple, Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky, each chapter alternates between the two as they recount their love story. The book starts off long before they meet each other, as they struggle with former significant others, grow in their faith, and eventually fall in love with one another. The overall theme teaches us the great importance of trusting God with our happily ever after. What is so enchanting about The Chase, is to read the same love story from two different perspectives.
Momentum 2016. Oh what an impactful week that was on my life! This was my sixth year going to youth conference and my first year as a leader. The theme this year was Yours; finding your identity in Jesus Christ.
All week, an immense amount of discipleship happened with the teens as they were taught how to share their faith and show God’s love to people. On the last day of conference, over 2,000 teens and leaders went out into surrounding areas to do ministry and share Christ with the community.
To preface this story… Last year, we met TWO Teresa’s. You can check out that story here on my mom’s blog. http://cynnomore.blogspot.com/2015/12/a-divine-appointment-with-teresa-and.html?m=1
The morning of the outreach day, all the leaders met to pray about the people we were going to meet. We prayed for boldness for each person going out to serve. We prayed for receptive hearts to hear what we had to say. When we were finished, one of the other leaders in our group joked about having met two Teresa’s last year. “What are we going to get this year? THREE Bob’s?”
While it was simply a joke, I silently prayed that God would give us three Bob’s for real. And guess what? He totally did.
We walked through a neighborhood that day knocking on doors and praying with people. It was a neat experience. I hadn't forgotten my prayer that morning, but the day was slowly passing by as it grew hotter and hotter outside. We came across a small cul de sac that wasn't on our route. We decided to go up to those houses in addition to our path.
The first house we came up to was under construction. The man who greeted us said his name was Bob. I laughed inwardly, thinking God just gave us “Bob the Builder”!
At the very next house we went to, an elderly man came to the door. He appeared to have just gotten a tracheotomy. We prayed with him for a speedy recovery and healing from his surgery. When I asked him what his name was, he said it was Bob.
The moment he closed the door I turned around and smiled real big. Two Bob's!! One more to go! I told the rest of the group what I had prayed for earlier that morning.
We passed more houses and prayed with more people. Eventually we came up upon two men doing yard work. We got the chance to talk to them and guess what?! One of the gentleman’s name was Bob!
There you go! THREE Bob’s! God answered such a simple prayer I had prayed after just laughing at a joke about meeting three Bob’s. Isn't that cool?
It left me with these reminders:1) God cares intimately about you. He takes notice of those tiny details that even we overlook. When we speak, He listens.
- Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
- Psalm 139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
- Psalm 5:1-2 Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
3) The power of specific prayers. Jabez called to God for specific needs, and God listened to his prayer request.
- 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
4) God rewards obedience. Sometimes those blessings come in different ways.
- Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Story behind the song:
Lately, I've really been struggling with my future plans. Lots of people, whether intentional or not, have set expectations for me. I graduated in 2014 and made the decision to not go to college full-time right away. I figure that it will always be there, but this is my time to pursue my dream.
Most people have been super supportive of my music. And then there's some people who almost seem disappointed in me for choosing an unconventional career, especially without college under my belt. In all honesty, this has stressed me out a lot over the past year. I was letting other people's opinions affect my attitude. Long story short, I have prayed SO hard about pursuing my music, and I do feel I'm where God wants me to be right now. So if I truly believe that I am walking in God's will for my life, then it doesn't matter what other people think...and that's what this song is about.
If you have a dream, pursue it with all you've got. I don't want to wake up one day and regret not chasing that dream. Love you guys, and thanks for supporting me!
It's easy for me to look back and say, "Well if they just walked with God, they could have been spared so much!" But the thing is, we do the same thing every single day. Maybe we aren't bowing down to graven images, but we still have idols in our lives; things we make more important than God.
We are far from perfect human beings. We mess up a lot. We make mistakes, and that's why we need a Savior. It's the most beautiful and comforting thing to know that in the midst of my complete and utter imperfection, love found me. Hope you enjoy the song.
And the most wondrous thing of all
You love me though I fall
And look past every single flaw to see
What you made me to be
A beautiful masterpiece
On my knees, love found me
(2) Dance in the Rain CDs
(1) Bath & Body Works® Warm Vanilla Sugar Body Lotion
(1) Bath & Body Works® Warm Vanilla Sugar Shower Gel
(1) Bath & Body Works® Warm Vanilla Sugar Diamond Shimmer Mist
Winner will be announced June 12th.
What we need to STOP doing on Facebook:
Vague rants and calling people out. If you have an issue with someone, go to them directly… not directly on their Facebook page, but privately and in person, rather. “If our brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” (Matthew 18:15)
Language and adult humor. Frankly, these posts are unnecessary and we need to be especially mindful of anything a young person may see in their news feed. Your posts go out to everyone on your friend list, young and old. If we want to see a change in our younger generation, we need to set that example ourselves. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8)
Trying to be someone you’re not. If you wouldn’t say it in real life, you probably shouldn’t say it online either. “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
Debates in the comment section. They almost always end badly and nobody’s opinion is going to change by fighting about it. If you’re going to have that deep of a discussion with someone, consider taking that to a private chat box instead. Not everything needs to be or should be public. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:23-24)
What we need to START doing on Facebook:
Shine the light of Christ on and off of Facebook. Actions are the overflow of the heart. When you post and interact with your friends, let your love for Christ shine through. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
Encourage each other. It’s uplifting to lift others up! I just wish more people realized that. Putting other people down not only hurts others, but you as well. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Use wisdom in your words. “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.” (Psalm 49:3)
Be slow to speak. Much too often we post something without thinking first. Take time to listen before anything else, because hastiness usually makes for messy situations. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
The beauty of Facebook is that before you ever post a single thing, you can look back at what you wrote. I honestly don’t think we take advantage of that near as much as we should. There are many questions to ask yourself before posting, but I think these three really capture the big picture:
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
Is it holy?
Social media is permanent. Sure you could delete something you regret posting, but once someone’s seen it, you can’t take it back. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube – next to impossible. Be extremely careful about what you choose to post permanently.
I think Thumper sums it up pretty well… “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Now turn the situation around. Imagine somebody wronged you in every way possible. How would you respond? How did Jesus respond? After all, we wronged the King of Kings in every way possible.
Bitterness is not the answer; it never is. We're so much more effective when we choose love. God himself is love... which means we need to be Christ to people. It doesn't matter how much someone has hurt you. Extend grace and love. In Matthew, it says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. It's not about choosing sides, or deciding who's right and wrong. It's about honoring Jesus Christ in every choice we make, with every step we take. It's choosing love when everything inside us screams otherwise. Forgiveness is extending mercy where it isn't deserved. It not only sets them free... it sets you free. That's the beauty of grace.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.