Northside Back to School Community Day

 

 

 

 

 


What a crazy couple of months…

So, I bit off more than I could chew!  I have every intention of picking back up on the Neighbor series, but it’s just going to take me a little longer.  If you are interested in reading the first 8-9 posts, you can find the series here:  Neighbor.  In our family, we have had 7 surgeries in the last 2 months, including 4 for Louis and 1 for me.  In addition, Louis and I had 3 funerals in about 8 days. Another friend in the hospital, gracefully living the last days of her life (I HATE CANCER!!!) and another friend who continues the diabetes battle.  Sometimes, we just gotta stop everything else…and love on our family and friends…and ourselves.  That’s where we are right now. God’s got it…I know He does.  So, the blog is on the back burner right now, while I focus on what’s really important to me…my family and friends.

Many of my neighborhood kids have moved…so Kid’s Missional Community has been placed on hold until I get back in the community more.  Although our Thursday night Missional Community gathering is still happening…every week at 6pm.  We haven’t stopped that.  No way!  :) I love them…with all my heart!  Can’t imagine life without them!

Will be back soon!  Promise.


Neighbor 8: Someone Who Is Unable to Ask for Help

Chapter 8 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Unable to Ask for Help”.

You know, it seems like I have addressed this in previous posts…those unable to ask are hurting, need help, cannot help themselves, appear on my path, have been robbed, half dead and naked.  Any and all of these friends may not be able to ask for the help.  So, I am kinda stuck here on who to cover in this post.  So, it will be short.  Isaiah, the prophet, said these words in Isaiah 55:8-11 (NLT).

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

I’m going to let the Word speak for itself with no explanations. My thoughts are not His thoughts.  He wants sooo much more for us than we can possibly imagine.  Gordon offers us scripture that tells what we are to do…so let this Word not return void.  Let this scripture speak to you.  Meditate on it.  Ask the Lord…What do you want to tell me through this scripture?  What, specifically, are You calling me to do? Show me what that looks like.  Then, go and do.  Let’s do the Bible together.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.

Thanks God for giving us your Word to instruct, rebuke, correct and train us so that we may be fully equipped to do your work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)  I pray that through Proverbs 31:8-9 that you will speak to all who read it.  Allow this scripture to prick our hearts into action.  Teach us oh Lord how we can speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.  Use us to seek justice here on earth….so that your kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. In the name of our Savior I pray, Amen.

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This is the 8th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.  



Neighbor 7: Someone Who Is Naked

Chapter 7 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Is Naked”.   Curious question…Do you say nay’ked? or neck’ed? Regardless…naked can mean nude, bare, unadorned, unarmed, exposed, unprotected, uncovered, stripped…to name a few.  Of course, the first thing we think of is undressed!  Now, depending on the situation, the naked/undressed person may be in need of a neighbor. Someone who lost their clothing while skinny dipping, perhaps. Or a woman who got caught in a rainstorm and is now in a see-through or clinging t-shirt or dress.  Because of illness, someone who doesn’t even know they don’t have clothes on or are uncovered. We need to be their loving neighbor and find them cover.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were ‘outed’? People found out something about you that you didn’t want them to know.  Or you were transparent one time and shared a private moment with a ‘friend’ who then used it against you, ridiculed you, told others, etc.  That is a very embarrassing and vulnerable, sometimes devastating moment…and you really need a friend and neighbor at that time. We need to cover you at that time. We shouldn’t get caught up in the hatin’, gossip and talk.  Instead, what if WE were the one who befriended you instead?

But, I also think of the defenseless – those who can’t help themselves.  Our God has given our friend, Sara Pomeroy, a heart for people involved in Human Trafficking.  Through Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI), Sara and her team are being great neighbors to victims of human trafficking.  In addition, they are also providing an opportunity for others to be neighborly as well through their training and volunteer programs.

RJI is a grassroots faith based organization of modern day abolitionists committed to ending modern day slavery, commonly referred to as human trafficking.

Our approach in order to eradicate this issue is to combat this crime on all fronts, through pursuing awareness, education, prevention, advocacy, aftercare and prayer.

Gordon summarizes this chapter writing…

There are a lot of naked people in our lives. They may not be without clothes, but they have in some way been stripped of their dignity, stripped of who they are as human beings, and limited in some way from being all they ought to be and can be.  They need someone to come alongside who simply will not allow them to feel embarrassed, but who intead will affirm their dignity and provided the same kind of tender, loving care offered tot he man who, many years ago, went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Thank you Lord for providing neighbors and friends who can come alongside us when we are feeling exposed and vulnerable.  Forgive us of times where we may have harmed another intentionally or unintentionally. Give us the strength to stand up for those who physically or emotionally stripped of their dignity and pride. Teach us how to love like the Good Samaritan and raise us up to be the defenders of those who are naked.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

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This is the 7th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.  


Neighbor: Feedback and Stories Request

Hey, I’ve been writing on the Neighbor Series for almost a week now and would love to get some feedback.  Please send your stories to me about how this series may have touched you or encouraged you to look at the verse… “Love your neighbor as yourself” a little differently than before.

Thanks for sharing.  Now that I am 15% through the posts, I hope to collect some of your testimonies to share with and encourage others without specific names or details.

6 down….34 days/chapters to go!  Thanks for joining me for the journey!  I really appreciate it.

If you aren’t aware of the series, take a look at who’s ur neighbor? Then, pick up with the first post at Neighbor 1: Hurting and simply read 1 a day.  It’s that simple!

May God bless you and stretch you as you read this series.

Peace, Marti


Neighbor 6: Someone Who Is Half Dead

Chapter 6 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Is Half Dead”.  Wow! I guess not many of us have encountered someone who is half dead.  Louis and I have.  On our 4th date (3 1/2 years ago), Frank got shot 9 times outside our back door. By the time the paramedics arrived, he had no pulse and was only breathing once or twice a minute.  He was left for dead, but God had another plan for him.  Because Louis and I were home to respond with prayer and first aid.  he survived.  So, Frank was our neighbor that night. As time went by, Frank and his family became more than neighbors or friends, but they are family. We love them like they are our own. It’s been a real blessing for us to know Frank, Vicky, the girls and Geraldine.

But, like yesterday’s post, Neighbor 5: Someone Who Has Been Robbed,  people can also be half dead emotionally.  They may not be able to experience the full life that God intended them to have. Life full of joy unspeakable and full of glory.  God can use us to help breathe life into another person with our words of encouragement and love.  Sometimes life is just hard…and it stinks. We need to learn how to just be be there with and for our friends when they are troubled emotionally and spiritually without judgement.  Be there in love…and love alone.

Lastly, we need to be there with people who are half dead spiritually because they continue to wallow in their sin.  Gordon writes…

Ephesians 2:5 tells us that God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions –it is by grace you have been saved.”  We need to resuscitate people in the our communities who are half dead and who don’t know Jesus Christ.  For truly they are our neighbors.

Lord, thanks for using us as your hands and feet on Earth. You don’t need us, but you choose to use us to shine your glory. Forgive us for the times we are not paying attention, too busy or too selfish to notice who’s barely breathing around us. Open our eyes to see people around us who are walking around half dead emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Teach us how to love them like you love us…with patience, kindness, full of hope, and unconditionally.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

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This is the 6th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.  


Neighbor 5: Someone Who Has Been Robbed

Chapter 5 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Has Been Robbed”. It is easy to think of the people who have literally been robbed or burglarized, whose car was stolen, whose home was broken into, or whose wallet was taken out of their pocket or handbag.  Yes…those are people who need a neighbor.  I remember having my bag taken off my shoulder in the middle of the street one evening…robbed of a few dollars and a couple of Clinique Lipsticks.  Thankfully, it was a small bag with little money. But, I was shaken none-the-less.

In addition, Gordon got me thinking about folks who have been robbed of their dignity, or robbed of their innocence or virginity or robbed of a healthy home life. My heart breaks for them…and they need a neighbor.

This post focuses on one who has been robbed of the truth.  We have all been sucked into the ‘Material World’ – that money is the answer to everything. I see it on FB and Twitter a lot….all about makin’ ‘bank’, ‘dough’, ‘benjamins’, etc. We often care more about what car we drive, what shoes we wear or bag we carry, or how many games we have. We are also robbed of “community”, and we think that it’s based off how many people are our ‘friends’, ‘followers’, ‘text’ etc. Many are robbed of deep and intimate friendships and hide behind their smartphone or laptop (or MacBook in my case!).

We have been robbed into believing the lies that Satan whispers in our ears. That we aren’t smart enough, cool enough, or good enough to succeed. We believe that the things we have done…aren’t really all that bad and we water down the Truth, but in fact…they are still sins. Then there are others …at the opposite extreme.  We think that what we have done is too bad to be forgiven.  Well, the Bible tells me….all have sinned and fallen short (Rom 3:23). We need to be there for folks who have been robbed of Truth.  Truth shall set you free. (John 8:32)

Gordon ends the chapter with…

Who do you know who has been robbed? That person is your neighbor. Reach out and offer your love. And remember that your action may benefit more than just that person, because you never know who might be watching and might be drawn closer to Christ because of your example.

Lord, your Word tells us that if we seek truth, we will find it and we will be set free. May your Holy Spirit pour out a desire to seek and discern truth. Provide us the wisdom to share truth. Make us hungry for your Word, for it is a lamp unto my feet and a light onto my path.  Give us the desire to pray for those who have been tricked into believing the lies of Satan. May we come to know and share the TRUTH that shall set us and others free. Pour it out, oh Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

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This is the 5th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.  


Neighbor 4: Someone In My Path

This is the fourth post in a series that I wrote about in a post called who’s ur neighbor?.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.  Side note, I think this is finally going to be a short post…well in comparison anyway!

Chapter 4 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Appears on My Path’.  I think this is finally going to be a short post!

After writing the last 3 posts, I began to worry that I was sounding preachy or that I was putting people on a guilt-trip.  That is the last thing I wanted to do.  I checked in with a few readers (one of which is Louis…but biggest fan and critic!) and they said I wasn’t.  I know that I am passionate about this, and only wanted to express that to others.  Wayne Gordon also states….

One of the greatest challenges facing preachers and Christians teachers is to exhort followers of Christ to do what they can do without making them feel guilty for not doing what they can’t do.  Too many people feel guilty for, or at least trouble by, not doing anything about problems they cannot do anything about–for not helping people they are not in a position to help.

We are constantly being inundated with pleas for help…Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Orphaned Children, Abandoned Cats and Dogs, A Child with Cancer, Aids in Africa, Homelessness, Human Trafficking, Elder Abuse, Fatherlessness, The War on Drugs, Immigration, Crime and Poverty, Land Use, Environmental Concerns, etc.  It’s all too overwhelming and depressing when you sit down and really think about it all.  We live in a fallen world.

I agree with Gordon.

These stories grieve us, but the reality is that none of us is Superman.  We have neither the opportunity nor the ability to solve all these problems…we need to pay attention to those people and those opportunities God has placed on our paths.  Who are the people whom God allows you the privilege of coming into contact with on a regular basis? Those are your neighbors.

Please don’t misunderstand me and think I am saying that we shouldn’t give to these needs. Yes…give to those who are doing great work in areas of mighty need!  Please!  But, I’m saying that we also have needs that are right in front of us that we shouldn’t ignore. There is a someone in your path every day that could use your help, if we look for them and respond.  Someone who doesn’t just need a check, but needs a ride to the grocery, needs prayer, needs help moving, needs someone to listen, needs parenting advice, needs career advice, needs help with deadlines at work, etc.  What I am asking is…. How can we love our neighbor at work? at the gym? at the doctor’s office? at our book club? at the grocery store, restaurant or park?

Lord, there are so many needs, so many hurting people.  It can be overwhelming, and I am thankful that you are in control, not me!  Sometimes the burden feels so heavy, but I give it all to you to carry, because you have told us not to.  Today, I ask you to use me in a simple way.  Make me aware of the people in my path.  Who needs my help?   Use me to meet that need.  Lord, let me not come up with an excuse as to why I can’t help, but Lord, I ask You for the strength to be about YOUR work…for YOUR glory, not mine.  Thank you, Lord. In your name we pray.  Amen.


Neighbor 3: Can’t Help Themselves

This is the third post in a series that I wrote about in a post called who’s ur neighbor?.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.  Side note, I am trying to keep these short, but am having a really hard time.  Hang in there with me!

Chapter 3 answers the question with…‘My Neighbors Are Those Who Cannot Help Themselves’.  And you may think…who is that?  Who can’t help themselves? Gordon starts off with a great (yet horrifying) story of Pompeii following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius – slaves that were chained behind fences…defenseless to what was going on around them.  Then, he goes on to the devastation of Katrina.  How a large percentage of people couldn’t head the warnings to leave new Orleans due to lack of transportation.  So, how many of us would be willing to spare room in our cars for carless, low-income, strangers to sit, not to mention to bring some of their belongings?  Seriously….would we have even thought about it in our hurry to get our stuff and leave the city?  Gordon shares a story about how one church did just that.  How encouraging it was to hear!

In the story of the Good Samaritan, he was probably tired from his travel and looking forward to getting home.  He may have been shy or socially awkward.  He could have had a very important business meeting to get to.  He may have been focused on other things or distracted by stuff life presents.  Yet, he stops and cares for this battered man….and ensures his safety, care and comfort for an extended time.  Yet, we don’t even notice in our own self-absorption.

This requires a total change in world-view.  A view of putting others first, ahead of ourselves.  A view of laying judgements aside and seeking understanding.  A view through the eyes of Jesus.

Gordon writes…

As a society, we have allowed our hearts to become hardened to these people who need our help.  To simply write all of them off as lazy is to ignore the call of the gospel to love our neighbors.  It’s to abandon the responsibility that those of us who have been given much have to give to those who have been given little….

In Ezekiel 16:49, the prophet elaborates on the sin of the city of Sodom, writing, “[They] were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

Wow….who does that sound like today?  We sound like a modern-day Sodom.  This needs to change!!! We have a Biblical obligation to care for the people who can’t help themselves ~ The ones who truly can’t pull up their own boot straps.  The ones who have tried, but find the straps get cut as they are pulling hard.  The ones who are tired and weary of trying.  The ones who are depressed and giving up.

I think about people who don’t have the resources that Louis and I have.  We are truly blessed to have a network of friends and family who are…doctors, vets, lawyers, social workers, mechanics, carpenters, architects, real estate agents, financial advisors, police officers, etc. These friends are just a quick phone call away.  Louis and I have quality education and have had life experiences that have taught us how to handle situations….and people who have walked us through difficult times.  What about folks who don’t have this kind of network? or don’t have the education or life experience to handle what life throws their way?  and they don’t know anyone who has?  These are people who can’t help themselves.

I have friends in my community who I also have to go to for help…who show me the ropes, who teach me another way, who keep me real.  I am forever indebted to them.  We all have something to bring to the table.  We all have a lot to learn.  For there are many times I can’t help myself….and need some help….desperately.

Lord, you say in the Word that we will be judged as we judge others here on Earth.  Forgive us for our judging attitudes and replace it with loving, merciful view of others.  It’s so easy to say – ‘Let the government take care of that issue.’  or ‘Why don’t they just go get a job?’ Lord, this is so complex!  It’s not that easy.  But, in you Lord, all things are possible! Help us to understand the complexities and provide us with the wisdom to help solve the issues that stand in the way.  Lord, we don’t need or want to be arrogant, overfed and unconcerned.  We need to be filled with humility and concerned over what concerns you.  Show us how to do that.  Break our hearts for what breaks yours…and may we do it on an individual level and a corporate level in our churches.  In the name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.


Neighbor 2: Needs Help

This is the second post in a series that I wrote about in a post called who’s ur neighbor?.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting today…no promises, though. Yesterday’s post (the first one in the series) can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.

Chapter 2 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor Needs Help’.  Churches spend a lot of time teaching us how to love God, but little time on how to be a good neighbor.  This series challenges me to love my neighbor in a different way.  I thought I was pretty good at it…and you know what, I’m not bad.  I can just improve on it. Helping those who need our help naturally follows those who are hurting.  Louis and I have both had surgery in the last couple of weeks, and we are greatly appreciative for all of those who brought meals, helped clean/straighten the house, etc.  We feel so loved!!

Wayne Gordon writes:

On the surface, helping others seems like a very simple concept.  It’s not.  Of course, if all we mean by helping others is opening the door for someone whose hands are full, that’s one thing.  But it’s another thing if helping means that we have to get involved in another persons’ life, as the Good Samaritan did.

To some of us, we have been gifted by God in the area of ‘helps’, and assisting others comes very naturally.  To others, this is a pretty frightening thing to do.  Getting involved. Developing relationships.  Hanging in for a season of time versus a hit-and-run help. Gordon suggests that you start off small.  Similar to running a marathon.  You can’t expect to jump up one day and run 26+ miles without training.  So, you may start off signing up for a 5k.  Then, work your way up to a half marathon.  You can do this with helping others.  Gordon suggests that you start small by remaining…

aware of and open to the opportunities we have to help those who cross our paths unexpectedly.  The Good Samaritan probably did not wake up in the morning expecting to come across someone who needed his help.  But when the opportunity presented itself, he embraced it.

This requires a total change in lifestyle and the way we prioritize, not just throwing money at it.  You can help in unexpected times or in a planned response.  To name a few, it requires…

  • slowing down and paying attention to what is going on around you
  • observing the routines of the people around you and questioning when there is a change
  • leaving room to see the need and respond
  • possibly foregoing the dinner or movie with friends you intended to make or catching a later train, flight, etc.
  • running errands or cooking a meal for a family with a new baby
  • cutting grass for the elderly widow down the street
  • fixing the car or porch railing for someone who can’t afford to or just doesn’t know how
  • waking early to give a neighborhood youth a ride to school when he misses the bus
  • speaking out for those who don’t have a voice…the poor, the orphan, the widow, the immigrant, etc.
  • relocating into an under-resourced community and participating in redistribution and reconciliation (read more at CCDA)

There are so many ways we can help those who need us. And so many people who can help us when we are need.

Lord, you are our refuge and our strength, our ever-present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1). Teach us how to recognize people who need our help and show us how we can help them. We are so busy running here and there…often busy doing church stuff…good stuff… that we often forget to BE the church.  Teach us how to prioritize. Teach us to love others as ourselves, as you have commanded us.  It doesn’t come naturally to us, but I pray that you will show us how.  Lord, I also pray that you will teach us how to ask for help when needed and how to accept help when offered.  That’s really hard for many of us.  May our acts of helps and kindness bring glory to your Name.  In the precious name of our brother, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


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