To prelude my blog for the week, I encourage you to read Isaiah 58. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2058&version=NIV
This last Monday I went with my friends on the "God's Favor Bus" to Detroit again to serve and minister to the homeless. I must admit I commited to serving on this day, but didn't really want to go, because I was anxious to work on my Fund Development for InterVarsity. I have an ambitious goal of raising 90% of $63,000 by June 1. I'm currently at 24%. I thought, O another day "I" cannot work on this. But I know this is a commitment I've made and I do really love doing this ministry.
God always does something different each time we serve in Detroit. Before we circled up to pray I decided to go talk with one of the homeless ladies that I've met several times before. I'm curious and perplexed by her. At times she seems so random and rythmical with her conversation, almost like a beat poet, that I am not exactly sure what she is saying. Other times she seems clear and concise and almost prophetic. This was one of those times. I don't even know why she told me this because I didn't even bring up the conversation. I just asked her if she would like to join us in prayer. Her response, "now you go and don't worry about not saying anything. Respect your elders and know that God knows your heart. Okay, go now, okay..." I was speechless. I only asked her to join us in prayer and this is how she responds? And what is it that God has been telling me to respect my elders lately. Don't I already do that? Hmmm.... Anyway, we circled up for prayer and I had something on my heart to share but an older man in our group started to preach. I felt a little jealousy in my heart and I remembered what the lady had told me. So I submitted and resisted the jealous tendancy and prayed and listened. After the older man had finished speaking (amazing words from the Lord) I was given the opportunity to share my story.
I also talked with a homeless guy who had only been on the streets of Detroit for one week. He came here from Arkansas seeking to find his estranged wife who left him for someone who lives in the Detroit area. He's only 29 and he was definitely out of his element. Me and another friend pleaded with him and encouraged him to yes contact your wife, but if she is not willing to reconcile, please get off the street and go home to your family. He was deeply hurt and moved I could tell, but he just couldn't humble himself enough to take our words to heart. So he continues to hang out on the streets with people who really don't care about him.
Another encounter was with a prostitute. Our bus pulls up beside her and our crazy bus driver lady (Louise - wonderful woman of God) shouts out, you need anything! The lady immediately repeats, "I know I am doing wrong. I know I am doing wrong." After talking with her and praying with her she did say that she believed in Jesus. But she just couldn't get out of this life style. The marks on her eyes showed just how her "boy friend" treated her. We pleaded with her to let us take her to a shelter. She wanted to be free, but again she wanted to go get her things from her boy friends apartment. We explained that we had clothing on the bus and that she should leave the other stuff behind. The price of freedom is leaving the old and moving toward the new. That's what Christ has done for us.
It breaks my heart to see people who want and need the freedom that Christ offers, but the bonds of sin hold them captive. O Lord that you would set the captives free! Indeed you already have, but please open the eyes of the blind and help the deaf to hear! O Lord have mercy on the people of Detroit!
Why did I ask you to read Isaiah 58? What is a day the Lord finds acceptable? What type of worship does he glory in? How are we as followers of Jesus suppose to live? The word is plain and true. If we are to see change and transformed lives in Detroit or anywhere, the gospel must be proclaimed, the captives must be set free and we must be humble before the everlasting Almighty God!
O Lord have mercy, Jesus have mercy, Lord have mercy!
Yesterday I attended another funeral of a teen. I didn't know this specific teen, but he was an acquaintance of a friend of mine who lost their teen son a couple years ago in a similar circumstance. Drivers please watch out for bikers and roller bladers. Don't be in such a hurry please!
While I was in school and working at a structural engineering office an old man stopped me as I was rushing out the door. He said, "What's the hurry?" Then he said, "I once saw a sign on the gate of a grave yard - "Don't worry, they will wait for you." I stopped to think about it and recognize that we need to take time to enjoy the beauty of creation and of those around us. Life is but a mist and no one knows the day or hour that we will be taken from this earth or that Christ will return. I've been to about 6 adolescent funerals over the last three years. Two were believers in Jesus, the others most likely not. The best we can do in those circumstances is to comfort those left behind and share the truth of the gospel as best we can. It has been quite unfortunate that most of the funerals I've been to, the ministers do NOT share the full gospel. What other HOPE do we have other than Jesus Christ?! He has the words of eternal life and he is "the way."
Friends and ministers of the gospel, we need to be bold in sharing the hope that we have. Remember what Peter (who is know to be bold) says, "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." 1 Peter 3:13-16
Please pray for the young people in our communities. Take action too by speaking truth in their lives, in love.
Please continue to pray for my ministry and support as well.
There are days when I am very discouraged with raising support for my ministry position with IVCF. It is a "marathon" of faith and hard work and prayer. God's timing is crucial as He develops my character, knowledge, faith and so many other traits necessary for ministry. It's days like this, that make me vulnerable to Satan's lies and tricks... "just give up", "it's no use, God won't provide for you." "Go back to Architecture where you can make good money." But in the midst of my doubt and trouble a friend gives me a call, or an email or sends a letter and lifts up my spirit and sets my eyes back on Christ and not on my circumstance. Here is such an encouragement from a friend who has had to persevere more than I ever could imagine. A friend filled with faith in Christ!
Todd--keep with your ministry and persevere. We need you sharing truth with those college kids! We NEVER ever know what tomorrow brings. May God continue to bless you my friend.
The short story here is that my friends lost their teen son in a tradgic car and bike accident a couple years ago. Then recently another teen lost his life in a similar circumstance in the same community. Yet my friends encouraged me!
No one knows the extent or number of his/her days on earth. The urgency of sharing Christ and believing in him is now! There is NO other way to heaven! "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.." Hebrews 3:15. No matter where a person has been because of their sin, God has paid for that sin by the suffering and death of His own Son Jesus, who also rose from the dead. The punishment that we deserve, Jesus voluntarily took it upon himself! Don't beat yourself up over the sin that you do over and over again; Jesus already took that punishment. Turn away from it and confess it to the Lord. He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:5-10. We have a loving God friends. He has called each of us to build up the rest of the body. If you see someone discouraged, hurt, alone, falling into sin... build them up, share truth with them in love.
Thank you friends, for your encouragement to persevere in faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
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