The Next Day Part 2

Continued from last nights post….The Next Day Part 1

These are complicated questions to answer.  There is so MUCH history that goes into it.  There are way more questions than answers.  Or…answers that you want to hear, anyway.  I encourage you to dig deep…ask the questions…seek the answers.

A question like, HOW did it end up like this? Deep-rooted systemic decisions and policies that were made intentionally by people in power dating decades….centuries ago…that have led to the problems we have in the City of Richmond today.  If you want to learn more, Ben Campbell, at Richmond Hill, has a wonderful class – Richmond’s Unhealed History – 9 Lectures on the History of Richmond 1607-2009.  It offers a whole new perspective….that is NOT what you read in the history books in school growing up.  We need more people to get involved in the social justice issues that impact not just the City of Richmond, but the metro area as a whole.

Others may ask…why don’t YOU move?  Why do you stay?  As a matter of fact, Frank himself has asked me that same question more than once.  He thought I would be packing it up after that night.  But, I will tell you what I told him.  A year before Frank got shot, my car was vandalized when the windows were shot out.  It later was stolen and dumped off in Petersburg.  People then asked, why don’t you move?  If I had moved in early 2007 after that happened, who would have been there the night Frank got shot?  God doesn’t NEED us to do a thing.  He can do it on His own, without our help.  But, what a priviledge it is to be used by my Almighty God.  So, He called me (and now Louis) here to SBH.  We won’t leave until He calls us some place else.  I have committed my life to I will go where He sends me.  Will you?

Just yesterday, Mom sent me a devotional newsletter email called Inspired Faith.  I will end this post with that word…

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.II Chronicles 16:9 NIV

God has called each of us to obey Him in the place He has us. In His eyes we all have a ministry. Many serve Him in a local church through a variety of ministries, such as music, teaching, youth work, or by being a part of the church staff. Others serve on the mission field, on the job, at school, or at home.

God knows you and He knows your heart desires to serve Him. You are someone that He will use to make a difference, to share His love, and to touch the hearts of others. What has qualified you for this high privilege of being used by Him? Is it your talents, your personality, your education, your influence, or your résumé? It is none of these; rather, it is the response of your heart toward Him. God is always searching for those whose hearts are yielded to Him so that He can work mightily through them.

Sometimes we can be led to think that God’s work is dependent upon us, upon what we do, and upon what we know. The truth is that God wants us to be totally dependent upon Him. He is the Treasure, we are the vessels; He is Vine, we are the branches; He is the Living Water, we are the channels through which He flows.

The apostle Peter was someone who needed to learn this important truth. Jesus taught him the futility of trying to get results through his own efforts by allowing him, an expert fisherman, to labor all night and come up empty. Afterward, when He followed Jesus’ word to cast out into the deep, Peter pulled in a catch that was beyond his dreams.

As His servant, remember that your ministry is His idea and not yours. He is the One who knows you, who has called you, and who has equipped you to serve Him. Remain true, remain faithful, remain restful, and remain totally dependent upon Him.

God is not looking for those who are clever,
but for those in whom He can be wise;
He is not looking for those who are talented,
but for those to whom He can be all sufficient;
He is not looking for those who are powerful,
but for those through whom He can be almighty.

by Roy Lessin, DaySpring Cofounder

Am I Hearing Things?

So, Cindy and I are in the Berkshires….enjoying the beautiful weather and sites.  I had been reading a book called Prayer:  Finding the Heart’s True Home by Robert Foster, the same guy that wrote Celebration of Discipline. Cindy and I also read some novel by Nicholas Sparks, too. Actually, I read the whole book aloud to her.  She loves listening to books on tape, but doesn’t really like to read.  So I was her live book reader!  It was fun!

Cindy and the Berkshires

But, one of my favorite parts of the trip was just driving around in the convertible…just chillin’.  One particular day we went driving late in the day and the sun was going down, but we still had the top down and were wrapped up like Eskimos without a care in the world!!  (note the pic!)  While looking up at the beautiful mountain, I was took a few minutes to kinda softly sing/hum a song….one of the songs that we would sing at church that was praising God.  I sensed this voice saying, Marti, do YOU love me?  I was like…well…uh… yeah.  Of course I do.  I heard it again….do you LOVE me?  Me:  Well Duh!  Yes.  You know I do.  What’s this all about?  Voice:  One more time…do you love ME?  Me:  I just laughed….and said….ok.  YES!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!

I didn’t think too much more of it.  Until the day we flew back…stuck on a layover @ JFK.  I was reading the last few chapters of the book on prayer.  The last chapter is on Radical Prayer.  Wow, I wish I could find my copy.  But, one of the last pages, could even be THE last page…the author was writing about a conversation between Peter and Jesus in John 21.  The scripture states that Jesus asked Peter 3 times in 3 different ways: do you love me?

You probably know this scripture…

John 21: 15-17

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” 
      He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 
      Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” 
      Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Then it hit me… Feed my sheep.  I sat in the airport and wept.  Cindy didn’t know what to do with me, and frankly, I wasn’t ready to talk about it.  As a matter of fact, few people have even heard this story.  It’s been a while….2.5 years ago…of processing it with the Lord.  The Lord has called me to “feed His sheep”.  For the last 2.5 years, I have been pondering and praying…what all does that mean?  I still don’t have a full picture of it.

  1. For one…I know that I am called to feed HIS sheep.  They are not MINE…but HIS.  He is in control, not me.  I can only do what I can do…and leave the rest up to Him.  I haven’t always felt that way….thinking I had to do it all on my own and in my own energy.  I didn’t always really trust that God’s got it.  I have had to learn that…over and over, actually.
  2. Another…I am called to serve, to be Jesus and bring Jesus to HIS people.  I needed to learn to step out….to be bold in that.  The Lord has been equipping me for that.
  3. Remember…the other ½ of my pair.  I think he was prepping me for how we would do that together. (More to come on that one!)
  4. In John 21 it refers to this part of the chapter as Peter’s reinstatement.  I think this too was my reinstatement.  I can’t remember denying Jesus 3 distinct times like Peter did…but, there had been sin in my life that needed to be confessed and forgiven.  It was definitely a cleansing time.
  5. Lastly, I don’t think He is done with this scripture yet…I think there is more to come.  I will continue to seek God’s will in my calling…my ministry.

Tomorrow…more on the story on how I met the other ½.  Stay tuned!!

Don, Luke, Jesus & Marti

Sorry….this is a longer post!  But, hang in there!!!  It’s a good one!  I promise!

Luke 10

  1. After the Lord…sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
  2. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

God gave me strength during some hard conversations.  Some close friends and family members were never super thrilled about me moving into this neighborhood.  They loved me and feared for my safety.  One close family member gave me a particularly hard time.  Finally, I asked him…”If God called me to go to Africa, China or Brazil to do His work, how would you feel?”  He quickly agreed that he would fully support it.  I respectfully shared with him, that God had called me to the mission field, it just happened to be an urban mission field.  I didn’t have to go half-way around the world, but could stay in my own Jerusalem and be about God’s work.  If he or anyone else had a problem with that, they needed to take it up with God…not with me.  I had to concern myself with obeying my heavenly Father first. No one ever said that following God meant it would be easy.  There were friends who refused to come to my house, or only came during the daytime.  But, that is why God called me (not them) to live here.  At times, being obedient means sacrificing.

I didn’t always see it as sacrificial….because it seemed sooo right.  I had a real peace about it.  But, I saw it as an opportunity to expose my circle of influence to something they might not have encountered otherwise.  My friends and family have grown to accept my choice and love my neighborhood and its residents.  They are willing to visit…day or night!  My neighborhood was really not THAT different from my previous neighborhood or theirs.  It just LOOKED different.

2006 had been a trying year in many ways.  I LOVED on these kids….day and night.  And their stories and their needs broke my heart.  There were many lonely times…where I felt like I was all alone in this…..and I was tired.  In retrospect, I was probably trying to do it all alone rather than seeking God’s will and help.  The needs of the community were so overwhelming.  I found myself only seeing the dealers, the prostitutes, the homelessness, the absentee fathers, the struggling single moms, the addicts, the guys hanging out on street corners doing a whole lot of nothing.  Trying to be a light in the darkness.  As a reminder…It’s interesting…in looking back, my journal wasn’t as full as it normally was.  Indicating to me now, that I probably wasn’t praying and listening to God as much as I should have.

In December of 2006, a group of us from church were meeting for lunch.  Rob, my pastor, had brought this group together to encourage us as Christians in workplaces throughout the city.  This is where I first got to know Don Coleman… Pastor Don.  I was sharing the story of my neighborhood, and work.  Don gave me a Word…Luke 10:1-7.

1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

It had been a year, almost to the day, since Kevin (remember Kevin…the bone God tossed me when I prayed for my future husband?) had come into my life.  I had not talked with Kevin but once or twice since that day.  But, I had meditated on Deuteronomy 8 many times.  Now, Don gives me Luke.  Being a quick study, I knew to take this seriously.  After meditating on this Word for weeks, reading it over-and-over again, by mid January, 2007, I felt sure of its intent for me.

–      God was reminding me that he still hadn’t forgotten about me and my singleness, that he had the other ½ of my pair out there somewhere, and we would be in ministry together.  God had sent me (and some day my other ½) to SBH in preparation for Jesus ‘showing up’.  I needed NOT to pray for my future husband….but to pray for the other half of my pair….my partner in the ministry.  If it happened to be my husband…Lord, THAT would be the icing on the cake!

–      I was right where I was supposed to be…at work and at home.  The harvest was plentiful…and the laborers were few.  I had been called to ‘be Jesus’ to people in my life.

–      My house…was a ‘House of Peace’.  Confirming that it was God’s house…not mine and that I was not to ‘force’ my Peace on anyone.

I was about to find out that there was more in that Word than I thought…..