Category Archives: Outreach

What are you afraid of?

Much of my devotional time has been spent reading about fear and scripture relating to fear.  There are several theories and esoteric dissertations about the number of times fear is referenced in the Bible.  Whether it is 80 times or 365 times, scripture repeatedly reminds that we are not to fear.  However, there are also many times when we are to “fear the Lord”.

“Fear” can be defined in a few ways.  One kind of fear is that which results from being in imminent danger, fright or panic.  You know, like teaching your teenager to drive!  Another form of fear is the emotional feeling that something bad might happen.  Afraid of getting sick or worrying about the future or some event that we likely have no control over anyway.  Having a fear of the Lord is the idea of having reverential awe, respect and submission.  A friend sent me here for a good article discussing what it means to fear the Lord.

I have experienced all of those fears.  I have one more type fear that I would like to touch on.  I find it very easy to talk about God, my faith, my struggles and how God has worked in my life to those I worship with and friends that share my faith.  But, I am afraid to have those same discussions with people I do not know or people that may speak counter to what I believe or simply asking my neighbor to church.  Maybe I am afraid of what they will think of me or afraid of rejection.  Maybe I am afraid that I will not be able to defend my faith.

It is this form of fear I believe scripture is addressing more than the other forms of fear.  One of the things that turned me off early in my Christian walk were bible beating lunatics screaming fire and brimstone.  Preaching that God is an angry God and I was going straight to the eternal fires of hell if I didn’t start doing this and that and stop doing this, that and the other!  “Whoa!  if that is your god, then I don’t want any part of it!”  I grew to think of Christians as being a group of hypocritical screaming lunatics!

So, what brought me back?  It took years, but I met some people that took time to talk to me.  They showed genuine care and concern for what was on my heart.  They talked.  They listened.  In time, I learned what they were doing was preaching me the Gospel.  Not by screaming at me and telling me how angry God is, but by how they were living their lives and how they treated others. They were showing me the Gospel by the way they lived their lives; walking their talk.

Those folks are gone now.  I know they are with their Lord and Savior.  They were not afraid to talk to me about their fears, their trials, how God had changed their lives, to listen or to extend an encouraging word.  They showed me a “no fear” way to spread the Gospel.

So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. – Matthew 10:26

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! – Psalm 96:3

Blessings,

David

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Feed my sheep redux

Our church is participating in a new ministry called “Feed my sheep.”  We gather on the third Wednesday of each month and prepare 240+ sack lunches for distribution to the hungry in our community.  We have always been a very welcoming congregation but we have not always been good at outreach.  Feed My Sheep is a great way for us to get out in the community and show the love of Christ to those we have been commanded to love.  I could list many reasons (read excuses) why we (read I) are hesitant to go out to demonstrate and proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I wonder if my list would be similar to yours.

I am reminded of a John Stott study where he tells of a homeless woman whom a parish priest promised to pray for as a brush-off, and who wrote the following poem:

I was hungry and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health
I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of your God
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me
You seem so holy, so close to God – but I am still very hungry and lonely and cold

Her words convict me every time.

Love your neighbor as yourself. – Mark 12:31

Do you love me? … Feed my sheep. – John 21:17

Blessings,

D.

Feed my lambs…

homeless.jpgMy wife and I are participating in a group study of Dr. John R.W. Stott’s “New Issues Facing Christians Today”. It’s a very challenging and, personally speaking, very convicting book. I won’t get into the meat of the study, but I wanted to share something from the book. Stott argues that many well-intentioned Christians “prattle, plan and pray” but ignore the real need. He tells of a homeless woman whom a parish priest promised to pray for as a brush-off, and who wrote the following poem:

“I was hungry and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health
I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of your God
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me
You seem so holy, so close to God – but I am still very hungry and lonely and cold

ouch…

I was convicted because she could have very easily been writing that poem for me.

Matthew 25:35-36 says, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

I am reminded that as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. As the church, we are not only to hear the word, but to act on it. By “doing” we are following God’s will out of love and gratitude for our salvation.

To Write Love On Her Arms

twlohalogo.gifMy daughter and her best friend learned that one their mutual friends from youth group is a self-mutilator…a cutter. Needless to say, they were very upset. They wanted to help, but didn’t know what to say or do. They had no idea what she had been going through. The good news is, she’s been getting help, has a church family that is supporting her and she hasn’t cut herself for 5 months. She told them about an organization to which her counselor had directed her. The name of the organization is “To Write Love On Her Arms”.

To Write Love on Her Arms (or TWLOHA) is a non-profit organization based originally in Orlando, Florida whose purpose is to spread awareness and support for people involved in self-harm. The organization was founded by Jamie Tworkowski, and is currently based in Florida.

To Write Love on Her Arms operates under the umbrella of Fireproof Ministries, which also promotes starvingjesus.com and xxxchurch.

The organization’s main vehicle for achieving widespread recognition is the exposure it has received from musicians and bands such as Underoath, Anberlin, Switchfoot, Showbread, Copeland, Sleeping at Last, Thrice, Sullivan, Jimmy Eat World, Meg and Dia, Jonezetta, and Paramore, some of whom have been known to wear the organization’s distinctive t-shirt in photographs and performances. Ryan Ross and Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco have also been seen wearing TWLOHA shirts.

To Write Love on Her Arms was started in response to a story told by the founder about a young woman named Renee who self-mutilated. Tworkowski was inspired by how a group of people brought her onto the road of recovery. Since then, TWLOHA has sought to ameliorate self-harm through donations, dissemination of inspiring stories, and counseling.

The story of how it all got started is very touching. It’s a great example of the church reaching out. PROFANITY WARNING: The “F”-bomb gets dropped once.

I encourage you to explore the website. I also encourage you to pass this along. You never know.

Read the story.

To Write Love On Her Arms official website.

To Write Love on Her Arms official Myspace.

Watch the video…