Come Walk and Pray with us in Gilpin Court on Tuesday, 4/8 – be there at 2:45pm!
‘Be the Church’ and ‘Do the Bible’ with us every Tuesday @ 6:30pm ~ Life Transformation Church
Have some fun! Hunt some eggs! See the Easter Bunny! Saturday, 4/12 at 10am (4/19 – rain date)
This week….5 years ago….I moved into Southern Barton Heights!!! WOW! What a wild ride it has been. If you had asked me 5 ½ years ago where I would be living…this would be the LAST place I would have said. Actually…I didn’t even know that this part of Northside even existed. When I first started looking for a new home, I drove through SBH quite by accident….following 2nd Street until it turned to the left and dropped me off at 1st Street. I was simply just trying to get to the other side of I-95….where you see those houses up on the hill to the right as you come from 64 to 95N. So…I naively drove through Gilpin Court/Jackson Ward and across the 1st Street bridge and into SBH. I remember thinking….this would be a great neighborhood…if only it was located somewhere else. I fell in love with the architecture and the community feeling of it. But, as I drove through, I just knew it was not for me….and kept looking elsewhere. Then, I came back…entering Battery Park by way of Overbrook…and seriously considered some houses adjacent to the park. Friends…both white and black/African-American told me I couldn’t move there….as a single white woman…that I would be a target. So, I stopped looking in Northside.
Then, I continued to look in other parts of Richmond…and placing contracts on houses…and getting totally shot down! Remember, this was the height of the housing boom. Somehow, I ended up back in the SBH area looking for a home. You can read more of that story in the following posts… In the beginning…, Daring God and Our House…..
Something (or should I say…Someone!!!) kept bringing me back to this area….and that was God. I had NO idea why!!! Nor did I ask, surprisingly enough. Walking in blind faith…or stupidity, not sure which I was doing at the time! Now that 5 years have gone by…I can see why the Lord wanted me here….for serving others….and changing ME! I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. Only God could have made the changes in me. There have been times that I have tried doing this on my own…in my own strength and power. But I have learned that I am not capable of that and sustain it for the long-term. When I let the Holy Spirit guide me, and allow God to show off….(to use Christianese for a minute…I must decrease, He must increase…..)that is when the real stuff happens! That is when the impossible happens. I can name sooo many times when God filled me with His Power…the Holy Spirit…to do His work. I am so much more dependent on God than I was 5+ years ago!
This week, I’ve been reading this book called Radical by David Platt….and it has really been challenging me. Some people would ask….why are YOU reading a book called Radical? You could write it. What you have done is radical!!!” Yes…moving to Southern Barton Heights may be called radical…but not nearly radical enough….is what I am realizing. Platt writes on page 68…
In the Gospels we see how Jesus ended his time on earth by commanding his followers to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The letters are filled with the same emphasis as Paul, Peter, James and John led the church through persecution and suffering to spread the glory of God to the nations.
So…that same commandment is for us….today. So…what we do here in SBH is really not all that radical to Jesus…this is what he expects of us. Luke 10:1 talks about how while on earth Jesus sent people off in pairs to villages to prepare for him to come…as they didn’t have cell phones, internet, etc to announce it. In 2007, I prayed for the other ½ of my pair….to prepare SBH for Jesus to come! And that’s when I met Louis 2½ years ago. I truly feel like the Lord has sent us here…to prepare the way for Jesus to come. His presence is already here. You can see it…feel it…in so many ways. The revival that will take place will not be because of anything that WE did….but what the LORD did.
Platt also writes on page 46….
The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him.
God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through. ~Francis Chan, Forgotten God
In addition, nowhere in the Bible does it say that it will be easy and glamorous. No one said that it would be a piece of cake. In fact…Jesus DOES say that we will be persecuted for HIS name sake….that people hated on Him before they hated on us. The Bible also says that we should find pure JOY in suffering. That joy part…I am still a work in progress there! I have a ways to go!
Later, I will share with you some of the suffering, persecution, or discomfort that we have encountered since beginning this work. Not to point us, but to point to how faithful the Lord has been through it. Please pray for wisdom and strength as we continue to be the Light on the City Hill.
Miss Marti’s House partnered with U-Turn and Commonwealth Chapel for a new weekly outreach to the kids ages ranging from 7-12 from Gilpin Court and Southern Barton Heights. On June 26th, we had the kick-off cookout which you can read about in my 6.26 post, It was a GREAT day @ Miss Marti’s House.
Today was the first official trip…with about 15 kids from Southern Barton Heights and Gilpin Court. Not only did they get to play soccer, but they also got to hear from the U-Turn President and a guy who used to play professional soccer! In addition, Rikki gave a lesson from 1 Corinthians on how each part of the body plays an important role in the serving and worshiping Jesus.
Watch for testimonies coming from the kids next week! Many of them had a busy week at VBS Arts Camp and ended the week with U-Turn!
Here are a few pics from the morning….
In 3 Boats Sited in Southern Barton Heights, I told you the story of how the Fletcher’s and the Garza’s came through with the laptop! I am PLEASED to say that Mario delivered it today!!!
I am just FILLED with thankfulness and gratitude to both families for helping us out! Everett aka “the Gardna” was the first to use it! He loves for me to find his favorite old school R&B songs for him to listen to. Now…he is learning to do it himself. He calls it “you-tubin'”. His first search? Average White Band – Cloudy! He played it over and over! It brought joy to both of us! So now…we are in search for a set of speakers so he can hear it better! I wish I had gotten a picture of him, but I was working!
So, this is where I need some help from some teachers and parents! What are some good sites the kids can visit to LEARN something this summer? Ages are mostly elementary and middle school age. Some are high school. How can computer use be used as a reward? What are some good “rules” to put into place (other than the obvious…no downloading, no porn, etc)? We have A LOT of kids from many families who hang here…so think about the impact of that with any advice given. They will learn to share…if nothing else!!!
In addition…watch for a future blog where m2k’s are the authors and photographers! Just have to think of a name! That just might have to be a contest for the kids! Name the blog…get the first post! hmmmm….i think that I might be on to something!!!
After the last couple of posts “it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.” Bob Lupton and 3 Boats Sited in Southern Barton Heights, there really seems to be quite a theme recently…boats are showing up left and right!!! We’re going to need to build a boat dock!!!
Check this out….
We have a young lady with a young baby who needs furniture for her new home in Gilpen Court and for the baby. Charles called to tell me about her to see if we could help her out! We agreed that he’s going to go check her out and make sure that everything is legit.
Within a matter of hours, my friend Tammy McClure calls me. She has a whole car load of baby things…stroller, car seats, etc. Check! Within a matter of days, Judy Harris from church told me about bedroom furniture that needs a home. Check! In addition, we have a lead on some other home items that will assist her. As we still need kitchen items/furniture, living room, baby crib, etc. Before too long…we can check that one off the list too! Keep that in prayer!!! Last…we have a near-by church family I feel will connect her with.
OK…then…here’s the big cruise boat coming into SBH. Commonwealth Chapel is partnering with U-Turn. On Saturday 6/26 we are having a cookout at Miss Marti’s House to introduce a new Saturday morning program to the kids. Where the ComChap van will come through picking up kids ages 7-12 to hang at U-Turn….playing sports, eating/drinking a snack and receiving encouragement from the Bible. There are 2 ComChap Missional Communities – West End and Sports MC’s that are heading this up with U-Turn.
My friend Jelani, the Director of Outreach at U-Turn, and I have been waiting patiently to get the interest and manpower behind this. I couldn’t be more thrilled to see how people are allowing Jesus to use their boats…..
Boats called resources, time, creativity, energy, love, talents/gifts, driving, cooking, food, love, and so much more!!!
I’m excited to see whose boat Jesus uses next!!!
Last night we had a blast playing Bananagrams!!! It was my last night alone!!!! Thankfully, Louis will be home tonight!!! YAY!!! We love to “play” Bananagrams…although it doesn’t hold our attention for very long. Terence, Bishop, Deshawn and Larry kept me company on my last night alone! Ya’ gotta love those guys!!!
Next Saturday 6.26 from 4-6 we are partnering with U-Turn and 2 (maybe 3) Commonwealth Chapel Missional Communities to throw a neighborhood cook-out for the kids 7-12 and their parents. We are introducing a new Saturday morning program that will allow kids to go to U-Turn to play, have a snack and take a little time for the Word. Praying that Larry, Deshawn and Bishop will go. Terence is a little too old, but maybe he can be a Jr Leader. We will have to see. Please join us in prayer for this outreach!
Ok. After reading the last post “it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.” Bob Lupton, you may be wondering…what is my boat? I don’t have a boat. YES, you do!!!
Let me share with you a story that happened just this week that demonstrates Jesus using boats right before our eyes! We have been praying for a computer that the kids and community could use. Miss Marti’s Kids don’t always have access to a computer/internet to use for school projects, homework and research. In addition, there isn’t readily available access to computer/internet to look for and apply for jobs.
This week, Michael Fletcher and his family used their “boat” called resources and willingly donated their family’s used Dell Laptop (following an upgrade to a new computer) to Miss Marti’s House!!! I was THRILLED! But, it came with a slight problem. It wouldn’t charge. Thanks be to God! And thanks to the Fletchers for being willing to let Jesus use their boat called Resources!
Well, those of you who know me…know that I am NOT very tech savvy. I know how to use a computer just fine, but don’t ask me HOW or WHAT makes it work! That…I have no clue. Enter…Mario Garza, a new member to our Missional Community. Mario and his brother Fernando took the computer home to see if they could diagnose the problem. Mario contacted me today and let me know the solution was simple. It needed a new power cord. So, one has been ordered and upon arrival, Mario will not only ensure it is up and running, but is also going to scrub it and download fresh anti-virus protection (which will be MUCH needed!!!) and Windows XP, etc. Thanks be to God and the Garzo’s for allowing Jesus to use their boats called Knowledge and Time!
So I ask again…What’s your boat called? ALL of us have something to offer. Are you using yours to bring glory to God? Are you fishing for men? To carry this analogy possibly too far…when we let Jesus use our boats…our nets are HEAVY with fish. When we try to do it on our own…we bring in empty nets. When we aren’t doing a thing…the boat’s just rottin’ at the dock and needs a little work.
If you don’t know what your “boat” is, I pray the Holy Spirit will be your lighthouse and guide you through the fog to safe landing at the feet of Jesus. We often look for the “big mission” or “God’s will” for our lives. Well, what about God’s will for today or this minute…this hour? God has a will for every moment of our life. Are you in God’s will right now as you read this? I dare say yes. You were meant to read this at this very moment. As we pray like Jesus taught us….Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. So, what will you do now? Will you let Jesus use your boat to do His will on Earth?
For the last few months, I have been attending my church and Louis’ church. This morning was my first Sunday off from church since Lent started. It really got me thinking about the meaning of taking a Sabbath. Although I am so glad I went to church with Louis each Sunday, I learned that I missed my Sunday Sabbath tremendously.
When Louis and I first started dating, I did not start attending his church. As we got more serious, we also talked about what would happen once we got engaged and got married. The last thing I would want to do is offend him or his congregation. I was (and am) heavily involved in my church, Commonwealth Chapel. In addition, they have a Saturday night service. Since this service started, I quickly drew fond of the time and it became my regular worship time. It was the beginning of my Sabbath. My Sunday mornings became a precious time between me and the Lord.
After much discussion and prayer, Louis and I decided that I would continue to take Sunday’s off of traditional church. I know many of you might judge me saying…”You don’t go to church with your husband?” and “You’re a pastor’s wife?” “Bad wife!” That’s ok…judge away! :o) But, my Sunday mornings were a form of worship, not just in the way most people would look at it. I am so grateful for our church family at Louis’ church for understanding!! And, we get to see each other about once a month when I attend there and we often do visitation together.
Knowing that I am home on Sunday mornings, Everett (the Gardna) started to visit with me as well. We would cook breakfast together, read the word and watch some Bobby Jones Gospel together on TV. We had “church” together just about every Sunday morning. (I am NOT advocating doing this as the only form of worship for any length of time. Yes…you CAN meet with the Lord any time…day, night, weekend, but there is nothing that replaces the fellowship of gathering together for worship!) Everett would eventually fall asleep on the couch, and the Lord and I continued on together. Sunday’s totally rocked! A true day of rest. In retrospect, it reminds me of the parable of the Lost Sheep. The shepherd left the other 99 to go after the 1. I was going after my 1….Everett. Then, my Sunday’s changed.
After Frank progressed out of ICU, Frank and I mainly spent Sunday mornings together. This allowed Vicky a morning off and Geraldine could worship at her church. Thankfully, Commonwealth Chapel has Saturday evening services. But, even if they didn’t…I wouldn’t have changed these moments with Frank for anything! It was just the 2 of us…no distractions. The first morning I went, Frank said something like it’s Sunday, are we doin’ church or what? So, each Sunday morning, Frank and I would spend time reading the Bible and discussing what it meant. Sometimes he would ask me to help him bathe, clean the blood out from under his nails, assist him in going to the bathroom….all kinds of personal stuff.
For some reason, he would rather me assist him than his nurse. Although it was awkward for me at first and I would resist big-time, the Lord would hear NONE of my excuses (and neither would Frank for, that matter), and I was reminded of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. I learned to perform these tasks with joy and love, and it became an intimate and bonding time for us. I learned what the Lord was modeling that day….service.
We talked about all kinds of things…getting real. Our pasts. Our lives. Our hopes. Our dreams. It wasn’t long before Frank was asking me about what was going on with Louis and me. I often wonder if he just wanted to get the subject and focus off of him and onto someone or something else. So, he too could see that Louis and I were “meant to be”. He also came up with my nickname…”Angel”, short for Guardian Angel. Through our talks and his conversations with others, Frank began to learn what God had done for him….how much God loved him and had a plan for his life.
As much as Frank understood and had truly accepted what the Lord had done for him, we talked about how life outside of the hospital would not be easy. When Frank finally got out, the pull of the street and his past and the realities and struggles of living a righteous life was strong. I have heard time and time again, that if you want to make a change…then you have to change your people, places and things. If you don’t…it is nearly impossible.
Well, we would learn what would happen when Frank didn’t change his people, places and things…
In January of this year, I was nominated for and accepted a board member position with a non-profit ministry serving Richmond’s inner city called STEP (Strategies to Elevate People). If you are interested in learning more about, serving with or giving to this deserving organization, check out their newsletter by click this link > STEP March Newsletter.
Here’s a little more info about STEP….
Develop strategies to meet the needs of the urban poor in Richmond.
Defeat poverty in the lives of our urban neighbors.
Build vital relationships through effective Christian community and
Mobilize resources of the church to serve the poor in the City and
Empower organizations and ministries seeking to reach our urban neighbors in order to
Minister to the urban poor by sharing the love and hope of Christ
Our Core Values:
We serve as an arm of the Church, upholding its role in ministering to the needs of the poor (Eph. 4:11-12)
We believe that every person has a valued place in the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-15, Ps. 8:4)
We are called to be in community with other believers to support God’s Kingdom work (Heb. 10:24-25)
We enable others to be educated in order to produce opportunities and enable them to more effectively steward the gifts with which they have been entrusted (Prov. 23:12 & 24:3-4)
We enable others to work so that they can in turn give to others (Titus 6:17-19)
Thanks for reading and considering.
Some of you might ask….Marti…what exactly ARE you doing in this community? or you may have seen or heard me talk/write about being “on mission with Jesus”.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commands:
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is referred to as the Great CO-MISSION, because you are CO-laboring or CO-missioning WITH Jesus. But, you may say….I don’t know how to or I’m scared. But let’s take a look at Acts 1: 8. It states:
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
You are NOT alone!!! All you need is the power of the Holy Spirit. Look at what happens…YOU will be witnesses. “Witnessing” has gotten a bad wrap for sooo many reasons! It has been done poorly by a lot of people, including ME! But, let the Spirit guide you in your conversations and remember there is NO condemnation!!! For we have ALL fallen short…and frankly, I fall short every day….EVERY day!
This quick, short video explains what a Missional Church looks like. Imagine if EVERYONE at my church, Commonwealth Chapel took this approach! Imagine if EVERY church was a Missional Church! Imagine if ALL of us were “on mission with Jesus” in our everyday lives…work, home, PTA, gym, dog parks, etc. Imagine…
Where can YOU be Missional today?
I pray that the Holy Spirit will “come on” you, Southern Barton Heights, and the City of Richmond in a powerful way, equipping you/us for your/our personal mission(s) with Jesus. It doesn’t have to be in SBH…that just happens to be mine…and now Louis’.