Reaching out from Within

I remember as a pastor years ago, I said and even prayed God help us to reach out more. Help us to keep from being one dimensional as a ministry.

I wanted to have a church that was effectively developing and maturing Christians and seeing as a part of that development equipping them to reach the community, and the world. In church vernacular get outside the four walls.

As I sit here in Africa waiting for a pastor friend to carry me to the pastors conference I think of what is going on right now at harvest.

We have a team in central Rwanda conducting a soccer outreach, work projects for an orphans home and a
Team in north Rwanda conducting a pastors conference. Our teams at home are preparing for harvest kids camp which will be a week of ministry to hundreds of elementary age kids in the region. Another team is preparing for harvest foster kids camp. A week long camp geared specifically for foster kids.

Then we start Youth America a great outreach reaching thousands of teenagers for four weeks in the summer. A life changing experience for so many. While we are training a team to leave for cambodia at the end of July.

I say all of this not to say oh we are doing so much but rather to say God answers our prayers.

I am so entirely grateful for our pastors who lead in this direction and to a church full of volunteers who are not going to church but being the church in order to reach those who need Jesus and mature those who Know Him.

It takes all of us and as David Meyer says we are better together.

Hey Friend

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Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (Proverbs 18:24 MSG)

Do you have any friends with whom your friendship goes way back, and even if you haven’t talked in a while, when you do it’s seems like you pick up right where you left off? Those kinds of
friends are so refreshing and life giving.

I just got off the phone with a friend who is like that for me and I hope
I’m that for him. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize there are a lot of people who call themselves your friend but really don’t know the depth of the word

It’s a relationship that’s akin to covenant type thinking. In other words, I am yours and you are mine. I got your back and you got mine.

It’s based on love, a selfless consideration of others above yourself. It is refreshing, life giving and life changing.

Never underestimate the power of friendship. I encourage you, be a good friend and gather some good friends and value them highly.

Thank God for the concept, idea, and reality of friendship.

OU Vs Mizzou

A friend gave me some tickets to go see the game last saturday and it was a great time! The atmosphere was charged with anticipation of the Sooners wrapping up the season this year as the national champions!

The stadium was packed 85,000 strong! Crimson and Cream blanketed the stadium. My wife, youngest daughter and niece came along with me and the girls made the day even more exciting as they laughed giggled and jumped every time the guns went off to celebrate a score. Shots were fired frequently but fewer times than I wanted.

The game itself was a bit strange. We won, which is great but it seemed to be out of rhythm, slow and left a lot to be desired defensively. I loved the game but it was far from just a game, when you go to the game it is definitely an experience!

The band, the crowd, the food, the video, and the teams all culminated in an amalgam of crimson and cream football mania, and they live by “The Code”

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jCNOhRjdjs&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Fans are funny. You have your “die hard never miss a game” fans. You also have the “coaches in the stands” fans, your “I’m glad to be here but no nothing about football fans.”.

I heard some interesting comments, like “stoops your getting to comfortable in the nice big new home.” I have no idea what that has to do with anything but he felt strongly about it.

It made me aware that leaders have to do what they think is right, and can not be moved by the crowd. There were so many opinions and thoughts about the strategy, and they were screaming as if stoops could hear them. The dynamic is humorous. All said and done it was a great experience, and a fun time, to lead a team at that level you have to be secure and stand confidently in your plan and not be moved by the emotion of the crowd.

Hurry Up and Wait

Is this ever going to happen? I remember as a young preacher just starting out feeling like I would never get my shot, like it was taking forever. I look back on that now and think I was being ridiculous.

However when you’re in the moment it can sometimes seem like the thing you are wanting, needing or believing for is taking forever to arrive. I’m very results oriented, and if I don’t see the results soon enough I can become frustrated. Knowing this about myself helps me to work through it as I wait.

I’ve noticed that when we aren’t patient it can result in some negative things in our lives. Things like…
>not learning the lessons we were meant to learn in the process
>trying to position ourselves and manipulate a situation
>stunt our growth and development.

James 1:2-4 in the NKJV says…

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

When we are patient some positive things happen.
>we grow and mature
>our understanding is enlightened
>we acquire the necessary skills, attitudes, and mind sets to fully achieve our goal

Patiently waiting implies that work is going on. Don’t make the mistake that waiting equals nothing, waiting is part of the process of learning, developing, building and growing. Much of which is invisible externally until the wait is over

When we have that sense of purpose, when we are impassioned to bring change, to get results, to accomplish the goal, we get excited! We can see the end of the rainbow, and envision how things will turn out, but in between here and there are several steps you can’t see that have to be taken. Be patient with the process while keeping your eye on the purpose.

Consider this…

*Joseph was 17 when he received the dream but well over 30 when it came to fruition.
*Moses was early 40’s when he realized his purpose and over 100 when he saw the land of promise
*David was believed to be around 17 when he killed Goliath and anointed king, but didn’t actually reign over all of Israel until he was around 37

So if you are working on a goal, building an organization, leading a team, or just contemplating that next step in your destiny, be passionate, excited, energetic “AND” patient.

Hurry Up and Wait!

YALC Session 2

This morning we started with powerful praise and worship, another great interview with Joe Reed on “between the trees.”  He interviewed Natalie Boyce.  They call her “Hitler”  Really Joe?  Let me just say, as a person who has been interviewed by Joe Reed, I do not recommend it!

Grant Pankratz the Executive Director of Youth America Spoke on “Pioneering Spirit”  He said, “My goal is to make the young people that come to Youth America fall in love with their local church, because Youth America can’t really disciple people, its the local church that disciples people.”

He spoke on the five characteristics of a pioneer.  I encourage you to go to http://www.harvestokc.com and listen especially if you are in the first phases of staring something.  Pioneers are different and have a different role, so some of the principles they live by are extreme.  It takes an extreme person, with extreme methods to create the inertia to get something off the ground.

What do you think?

 

A revolution of Service

I have been so proud of our team over the last two days.  Yesterday we were finishing up our seven days of Servolution.  Our project was to help with the CARE program at the MWC police department.  Our team started gathering early and preparing to go in and help.  Something happen that changed everything.  A fire started in MWC and spread over a significant area of MWC and Choctaw.  We know now that 49 people were injured, and 50 houses were a total loss with others being badly damaged and still others with smoke damage.

The police told us with everyone being called in, there would be no way we could do the project we had planned, they suggested we go over the the community center and see if there was something we could do there.  At the same time, the leader of this project and one of our other guys in the church called and said why don’t we turn our servolution project into helping the evacuees, of which there were hundreds.  So I stopped and picked up a lot of supplies told our team who were already in their “serve team” shirts to head to the community center and start setting up supplies.  We called on other serve teams to join us, and just set up and started helping people.

Giving out water, and food, and toys for the kids.  We started thinking, “who could we partner with?”  So we called starbucks and they supplied coffee and Hot chocolate.  Krispy Kreme provided donuts.  There were pets so a vet brought dog and cat food and treats.  People just started showing up and giving us hot food, to pass out, people in the community started coming in and saying where can I serve.

We worked with the Red Cross, what Great People they are and an incredible organization.  There were also folks there from the Southern Baptist Disaster relief organization, incredible servants everyone.   I must say that the MWC community leaders, the city council, the police, and firemen, The officials, and the leaders of the community center, Were so sharp.  This city and its leaders have their act together.  The sherriffs, the city manager, so many people and organizations working together to help others.  We were so blessed just to be part.

There were so many churches sheltering people and helping people, our friends the Burchetts at Eastpointe brought their people together today and really helped the people who have so much damage and loss and the public servants working so hard as well.

So there are some things I learned.

1.  Don’t set back and call leaders in the fray and ask them what you can do to help, they don’t have time to figure it out for you and at the moment don’t know what to tell you.  Just get into the fray with them, and start serving.  This is the best thing you can do.  The church is not an outsider in the community it is a part of the community.

2.  Partner, Partner, Partner….You have connections others don’t have and they have connections you don’t have.

3.  Realize that people want to help.

4.  Wear matching shirts so you can be easily identified and people can come to you for help.

5.   Help the kids, if they can be connected with it gives their parents a chance to think, and rest a minute.

6.  Be open to jump in and do what you can without hesitation, be willing to say yes, when needed.

7.  Your team will give over and above, and people will always rise to the occasion.

8.  Always be thinking about the next step.

9.  Serve the servants.  First responders put it all on the line, and have no time to stop and take care of themselves, so serve them as well as the victims of the disaster.

This was really a great way to solidify a servolution culture in our team.

I invite you to join the party and embrace what our friend Dino Rizzo Cause a “Servolution!”

Servolution Day 5…Acting like Jesus

Yesterday Morning, it was freezing! Very little wind, but a great time to serve the college students of our community. We took 8-10 volunteers and a ton of food. Pop Tarts, granola bars, G2, bottled water, Starbucks coffee, and we set up two stations so when students were on their way to class they could pick up a quick breakfast free.

It was so fun to do this. We had a lot of great interactions. It is such a blessing to watch the response of people when you just serve them with no catch. When you want no donations, your not making some kind of presentation, you’re not trying to get them into something, you are just serving them and giving them stuff for free, it blows them away.

Wasn’t long before word got a around and students, teachers, were coming from all over the campus to get some food and beverages. I heard them talking, and everyone was thanking us and asking us why we were doing this. Some people in the administration want us to come back.

The same thing happened today, when we created hospitality for families waiting in the surgical waiting room at the local hospital. So many times when you see people who are stressed and anxious you want to help, but you don’t know what to say, or do. The one thing we could do was serve them. I talked to the chaplain of the hospital, and he said that when we serve them and give food to them, it gives them a moments peace, and gives them a feeling of hope.

Last two days have been great.

When we serve people, when we care enough to do something for them just to be a blessing in their lives, then we are acting like Jesus.

We have had many partners in these projects and are looking for more. We know that if we can get together with others we can truly make a difference in our world!

Servolution….Day 4

This morning about 9 am a group of volunteers from our MWC campus went down to the local DHS office, where there are about 110 employees.  DHS employess have a very high stress job, they are looked at negatively by so many.  There job is hard most of the time.  Its very easy to get burned out, and the turn over rate is very high.  We know that one of the reasons for burn out, is the feeling that we are not appreciated.  We thought, “how can we serve them.”  We decided we just wanted them to know how much we appreciate them.  So we took food and drinks and filled their break room with all kinds of things for them.  Then we made each of them a goodie bag for themselves, it had home made desserts in each with a thank you card that told them how much we appreciated what they did for the community.

They were so grateful for what we did, one lady responded by going back to her office and writing us a thank you note, here is what it said…

“Dear Thoughtful Ones,

Before I dive into these delicious treats that you have provided us, I wanted to thank all of you for being so thoughtful.  I have worked this job for over 18 years and this is the first I’ve seen a church come in and show us such love and appreciation.  Thanks for all you do in the service of the Lord.  Your kindness has not gone unrecognized.”

So many great people serve our cities, our states, and our nation in roles of service with very little appreciation.  We need to let them know how much we appreciate what they do for all of us.

I spoke to a leader in our DHS the other day, and she said she felt like what she was doing was a calling.  She said most of the people who work in this field, at least the people who last in this field fill that way.  Lets help them stay encouraged and keep up the good work they do.

David

Day 2 and 3 Servolution….Personal Impact

Saturday and Sunday on harvest MWC Campus our projects were an absolutely no cost car wash, and an outreach to “Manor Care” a local nursing home facility.

we have had a good number of volunteers in all our projects. The car wash was Fun and interesting. People would pull in we would give them a couple of gifts, a bottle of water, and a car wax product and applicators, then we would wash their car. It was amazing to me, how many people wanted to give us money, and when we said no, it was as if they couldn’t grasp what we were doing. They really were having a hard time understanding this totally free, no agenda car wash. Once they got it they were really appreciative, wanted to know where we were from, and why we were doing this.

It shocked me at the response, and to be honest made me a little sad. I was sad because it is so foreign for someone to do something kind like this just to be kind, and not have an agenda or want something in return. It has really challenged all of us, to live our lives serving others, every day. Coming out of this, it will no longer be an event but a lifestyle.

We washed one lady’s car who lived in the neighborhood close to the wash, and her family were obviously impoverished, didn’t have a lot, but a few minutes after we had washed her car, her little son came walking up from their house, his hands full of change. He said “we wanted you to have this” If we had been raising money they had no clue what it was for, but were so moved by our generosity they were ready to give. Our youth pastor told the little guy, you take that money back to your mom, and tell her we just wanted to bless you guys.

I pray that the church becomes known in the community, not as the neediest, but as the most generous. Let the world know that Jesus Loves them, and his people stand ready to show it.

On Sunday we had great services and that afternoon we went to the nursing home. We took adults, teens, and children with us, and we sang songs, we gave out gifts and we just sat down and talked with these wonderful, beautiful elderly people. Honestly our hugs and hand shakes were the best thing we could have done. My girls, Sydney and Taylor set down and talked to a lady named Pauline. She was so sweet, obviously her memory was affected and she had a hard time putting thoughts together, so we just begin to tell her about ourselves, and she loved it, she loved my girls hugging her, and holding my hand. It was interesting watching my girls in this setting, they have so much love to give and i am glad to be teaching them that this is what Christians do, they show the love of Jesus in a practical way. My oldest has decided that after church on Sunday we should make it a regular journey to see Pauline, and my youngest just cried, visably moved at the loneliness of an elderly person in her situation.

Love goes farther than we can imagine, its a touch of sincerity, a hug that says, I don’t even know you, but I care, a heart that is overflowing with compassion, not even knowing what to do but to say, I love you.

What we are finding is serving people can be inconvenient, and serving people can be awkward, but serving people is the mandate on our lives and the expression of our faith, and the love of our Savior.

Our culture, our people, our families, and our lives are changing, I feel forever. We have always done things for the community on some level, we have branched out in the last few years locally and globally, but I feel we are moving to a whole new level of love, and compassion for people. A revolution means a complete turn. This has been a complete turn of serving. A Revolution of Service.

More to come….honoring and appreciating our Dept of human services employees today. They’ve already begin to thank us, and we haven’t even done it yet. Just the thought moved them.

Remember its not about what we are doing, its not about, how good we are, cause we all know better, its about one thing. Expressing the Love of Jesus to people in all walks of life. Thank you Jesus, it’s all about you.

David

God Connections

God connections are imperative to our spiritual growth and human significance. People are a very important part of our lives. I have so many great relationships. My wife, daughters, friends and leaders are wonderful God connections for me. We all have a great need for these connections. They produce encouragement, love, friendship, fellowship and accountability.
When God created the world, he said all is good, accept for when He created man. He said and I quote, “it is not good for man to be alone.” I realize He is referring to the mate that he would give Adam, but I think there is a larger issue here. He is saying man has a real need for relationship with others like himself. We as humans have a need, not only for a relationship with God, but a relationship with people. This is one of the great reasons that God established the church. It was His idea. Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I’ll build my church.” The writer of Hebrews says that we should not forsake getting together, because its good for our edification. Join us at harvest, and just see what God connections there might be waiting here for you.
Harvest is definitely a God connection.

David