The people in my neighborhood

It’s been nice being on Christmas break because it has afforded me time to really focus things I know are important: faith, family, fitness.

I’ve been dwelling a lot on Barry Cramm’s message this week.  (Barry was guest speaker at last Sunday’s worship.)  What I got out of his message was this: I don’t need to bring people to church, I need to bring the church to where I live and work; I should live my life like I’m on mission.

And this got me to thinking about the people in my neighborhood.

– about my next-door neighbor who we watched pack up and move his household after he sold it recently.  We never went over to see if we could help him in any way.  (When we found out this past week the actual reason was his wife had died and the house had gone into foreclosure, we were ashamed.)

– about the man with “Antichrist” tattooed across his back who walks his dogs past my house two or three times each day.  His house is along one of the routes I use when I walk the Barky Boys.  Each time I see him, either walking past my house or when I walk past his, I pray for him.  And I think about that tattoo: Maybe he didn’t realize someone tattooed that across his back.  Maybe it all happened during a night of drinking. Or drugs.  Maybe … (he growls whenever we walk past each other on the street and I’ve said hello to him; he kind of scares me, so my plan is to continue loving him from a distance)

– about the family just a few doors down that moved in 3 or 4 years ago and really seem like good folks

I confess: Hub & I have lived in our home for over 10 years and we don’t know all our neighbors.  With the exception of our neighbors on one side and the family next to them, we really know no one.  I’ve been praying about how to change this.  How do I live my life missionally in my neighborhood when I don’t even know anyone I’ve lived with for over a decade?  Looking past this, what did Jesus do?  What would Jesus do?  He addressed the physical and spiritual needs of the people.  How can I … we … bring the church to our neighborhood; how can I … we … address physical and spiritual needs?  How can we … Hub and I … be the church to our neighbors?

  • say hello to our neighbors when we see them outside
  • plan, organize, and HAVE that neighborhood barbecue my next-door neighbor & I have been talking for years about doing
  • invite neighbors over for coffee & conversation
  • invite the women of the neighborhood to join me in Bible study

My word for this year is “Focus.”  Realizing there will always be urgent issues that require my attention, my goal is to live my life intentionally focusing on the important things that will give glory to God.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

One Word for 2014

Fearless.  I was almost certain this was my word for 2014.  Almost.

I started questioning whether this was my word for me or God’s word for me about two weeks ago.  I reread One Word that will change your life and knew without a doubt that Fearless was my word for me and not His.

After a lot of prayer and needs assessing, I realized Fearless isn’t my word for 2014.

I’ve placed too much emphasis on addressing urgent needs rather than important needs.  I’ve given up important things like leading a Bible study and volunteering in youth ministry to spend almost every waking moment working on urgent issues at work.

I begrudgeonly realized as I lay in bed exhausted and sick during the Thanksgiving Break, that even if I worked 12 hour days every day of the week, I’d NEVER get caught up on all the “urgents.”  And that made me angry.

I analyzed my needs and I paid close attention to the verbs: be, focus, concentrate, improve.  I looked at the obstacles that are keeping me from addressing my needs: urgent issues, lack of planning/poor time management, ego.  Finally, I committed to letting specific things go.  First & foremost: excuses.

Which helped me see where God is leading me in 2014.

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Focus

  • on Him
  • on what’s important
  • on my family
  • on my health

My word for 2013 was Compassion.  I learned a lot as I tried to live a more compassionate life.  Namely: when you pray to be more compassionate, He provides ample opportunities for you to learn.

Where will I be in my walk with Him on Christmas Eve 2014?  No telling.  I shared a heart cry with my Circle of Friends several weeks ago.  I remember it as vividly tonite as I did when God whispered it to me on that quiet morning: Lord, mold me into the vessel You want me to be and help me accept it. 

And tonite I add: and Lord, keep my focus fixed solely on You.

One Word: Compassion (update)

38cfaa9976d9c06975ccd5759ae93794Hub & I joined the fellowship at Northeast Bible Church a little over a year ago and have been incredibly blessed in so many ways by the people that comprise this community.  It is a family.  WE are a family: a family with a mission to reach the population of the surrounding area and share the love of Christ with them.

Hub & I are thankful for each brother and sister walking with us on this journey we call “life.”

One of my first friends at Northeast led a Bible study I attended last summer on the book of Ephesians.  I remember that at our first meeting, she asked us to share prayer requests specific to our own needs.  Mine was (and is) to share grace with those around me.  Looking back over the past 10 months of my walk with the Lord, I believe that moment was when the Holy Spirit started working with me to take mySELF off the Throne and let Him again be the Lord of my life … when the formation of my One Word took root in my heart.

These first 100+ days of 2013 have been an interesting journey: from beginning this quest as an intellectual pursuit of what it means to be compassionate, to sharing compassion with others, to one where I am now searching my heart and waiting for God’s leading on how He wants to use me in situations and circumstances around me.

Hub & I have been talking a lot about God’s will.  We both agree that it can’t be a matter of God’s will on our time but waiting and watching for God’s will on HIS time.  And this is why Corrie ten Boom’s quote above is so meaningful to me.  We don’t know what’s coming up around the bend … when the next trial will begin or when the seasons will change.  He does, and He provides all that we need to walk through this journey.

Brennan Manning went home to be with the Lord last weekend.  I never met the man in person. It’s nothing out of the ordinary: I haven’t met lots of people.  But that’s okay.  We’re not called to meet everyone face-to-face that has an impact on our lives.

While I’m eternally grateful for the privilege of meeting some and doing life with others, I meet many of these people through their writings.  And this is how I met brother Brennan.  I’m reading his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel and am being blown away at every page turn!

Though the Scriptures insist on God’s initiative in the work of salvation – that by grace we are saved, that the Tremendous Lover has taken to the chase – our spirituality often starts with self, not God.

Does this not blow your mind?  How many times have I been so impatient with His timing or silence that I’ve taken matters into my own hands?

So … what am I learning about compassion?  Compassion & grace go hand-in-hand: it’s not just about the physical activity of loving and serving others, but about the glorious gift of a Passionate Pursuer who gave everything; there is nothing any of us can do to “earn” His love.

Amazing.

Brotherly Love

Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. – Gen 43:30

I’m going about this all wrong. I thought I could learn compassion as if it were a class in school. Take one verse a week, study it from every possible angle and move on to the next verse.

If only it were that easy.

I sat with a friend in Sunday School last Sunday.  He’s not been well lately.

As we were transitioning from our small circle to the long rows for class, I asked him how he was doing. There are times when I’m so lame.

I realized my gaff and asked if he was enjoying the weather. He smiled and said he was. I prayed he understood I meant no harm.

Living a life of compassion is tough.  I can’t remember crying so much for others.  Empathy.  Stepping in to help when and where I can. I had written on my Facebook timeline that I wanted to be “Jesus’ hands and feet to the world around me.”

I never really understood exactly what those words meant …

One Word – 2013

Let me preface this by stating: I am not a Bible scholar.  Neither am I a theologian.  All I am … is me.  A 49 year old wife, educator, penguin athlete, and most important: Christ follower.  I am also a person who recently read a book that changed my perspective on how I set goals & resolutions.  That book is One Word by Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, & Jon Gordon.  I have to be honest, it took over a week before I received my word for 2013.

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I did a Bible search for my word.  Did you know the word, Compassion, appears 54 times in Scripture?  Amazing!

I want to learn how to be compassionate from the Bible’s perspective: what does it mean to be compassionate; how can I serve others compassionately?  I want to learn what compassion is and what it isn’t.

Will I be perfectly compassionate every day? I wish!  Suffice it to say, five days into the new year and I’ve already blown it in the compassion department.  But that’s the beautiful thing about God: He is a God of second (and third, and fourth, and … ) chances.  I’m so thankful!

Following are the 54 references to compassion in the Bible.  I use the English Standard Version.  I don’t know if that matters, but thought I’d cite it for clarification.  My plan is to take one or two verses each week to study, reflect, and apply to my life.  Britton, Page, & Gordon recommend sharing the journey with my “stretch team.”  I hope you’re willing to walk alongside me through this journey.  Feel free to stretch along with me, leave me a note or word of encouragement, or just say hello.

Gen 43:30

Exo 22:27

Deu 13:17

Deu 3:3

Deu 32:36

Judges 21:6

Judges 21:15

1 Sam 23:21

1 Kings 8:50

2 Kings 13:23

2 Chron 30:9

2 Chron 36:15

Ps 77:9

Ps 78:38

PS 79:8

Ps 103:13

Ps 135:14

Isa 9:17

Isa 14:1

isa 27:11

Isa 49:13

Isa 49:15

Isa 54:7

Isa 54:8

Isa 54:10

Isa 55:7

Isa 63:7

Isa 63:15

Jer 12:15

Jer 13:14

Jer 21:7

Jer 30:18

Lam 3:32

Lam 4:10

Eze 16:5

Dan 1:9

Hosea 11:8

Hosea 13:14

Micah 7:19

Zech 10:6

Matt 9:36

Matt 14:14

Matt 15:32

Mk 6:34

Mk 8:2

Mk 9:22

Lk 7:13

Lk 10:33

Lk 15:20

Rom 9:15

Col 3:12

Heb 10:34

James 5:11