Blessed One

 

I saw you dear Christian. Hesitant to speak.  Concerned over words and reactions.  Uncertainty growing into a willingness to yield. Obedience followed by excitement.

I saw you desperate mom. Working hard each day. Little sleep, little reward. Pouring out your heart to the stranger at your door. Feeling love and less loneliness.

I saw you bold children. Fearlessly approaching doors. Knocking with vigor. Talking to strangers. Praying with God’s people. Learning to serve with love.

I see you dedicated servant. Skimping so that you could buy food for the hungry. Bagging up meals.  Greeting families. Loading and then unloading 100 pumpkin pies.

I saw you faithful Pastor. Leading the church. Selflessly serving the people. Working behind the scenes. Giving of yourself.

I saw you hungry family.  Humbly admitting your need. Reaching out for help. Surprised that God heard your prayer. Genuinely giving your thanks.

I saw you Holy Spirit. Leading the hearts. Filling the bodies. Supernaturally guiding the ministry.

I saw you Heavenly Father. Meeting the needs. Providing for your children. Teaching us  to sacrifice.

I saw you and I was the one who was blessed.

Read more about our outreach and consider reaching out in  your own neighborhood:

Who Will Knock on Her Door?

The Answer is Jesus

Missed Opportunities

kids-on-outreach

 

first-outreach

outreach-in-rain

pies

mikaylas-booktoy-table

Missed Opportunities

Walking around the Marysville neighborhood, we inquire about the sweet neighbors need for a meal for Thanksgiving. “Hi, we are from Calvary Chapel Marysville, the church just down the road, and we are wondering if you or anyone you know is in need of a Thanksgiving meal?”

ci-that-old-house_yellow-front-door_s3x4_lg

We mostly receive pleasantly surprised looks when the people realize we aren’t doing a fundraiser, but are instead hoping to bless them with a meal.

Although, I have been a part of this outreach project in the past, I stumbled on the correct words a few times. I was caught off guard once when a woman turned the tables and instead of needing a meal, she wanted to know how she could join in our efforts. One neighbor became outraged as soon as she heard the word “church”.  And the planner (a.k.a. me), didn’t have a plan about which addresses we were going to go to that day. All that to say, our outreach wasn’t polished or perfect. 

When my 9-year-old and 11-year-old got in the car with me to head home from our time in the neighborhood, I saw my gospel tracts sitting on the seat next to me. “Oh, wow, how did I forget those?” I mumble under my breath, rolling my eyes at myself.

“What are you talking about, mom?” How do they ALWAYS hear me when I talk to myself?

“Oh, I had planned to give some of the neighbors some of these cards that have a gospel message on them…a missed opportunity,” I lower my head sadly.

“You’ve been saying that a lot lately, mom. You know about your ‘missed opportunities'”, my 11-year-old comments.

“Gee, thanks, I guess you are right,” I reply, in defeat.

Lord, was our time spent in vain? My prayer that morning was that we would share your love with the neighbors. Did anyone see your light in us today, Lord? I feel like I am seeing more of the opportunities you give me to love others, but am I just fooling myself?

flame

The next day, our church secretary messaged me that three people contacted the church expressing their need for a meal! I was filled with mixed emotions. Sadness that in one afternoon, in two different apartment complexes near our church, we found three people that are struggling to feed their families. But, joy that our time was not in vain and the Lord’s love reached three different families.

Lord, please bless those three precious families. Please fill their refrigerators and pantries. Thank you for bringing us to their doors. Thank you for blessing our time of outreach. Thank you for their obedience and humility in contacting the church expressing their need. Please forgive me for being so close to these families, driving by them two, sometimes three or four times a week, and never stopping for them. Please show me how we can meet their biggest needs. Amen. 

My heart is to help those in need. I have more than I need. I have enough to share. I have so much that I get distracted by all that I have.

My mind wanders to the story Shelene Bryan shared in Love, Skip, Jump where she meets a woman and her large family living in extreme poverty. Shelene immediately asks if she can pray for the woman, but the woman replies, “I was actually hoping to pray for you. ” “What, me? Why me?” Shelene asks. The woman replies, “Because you have so much to distract you from the Lord.” Shelene wrote about how she dropped to her knees and said, “Yes, pray for me, please do.”

This is me. So distracted at times by my “American wealth” that it requires me going to an orphanage in Mexico to focus on what the Lord really has for me. So distracted by my “to do list” that I have to drop everything and schedule in time at a low-income apartment complex asking about food needs. So distracted by my service to already blessed people that I sometimes miss the dire needs of “the least of these” right in front of me.

Although both my 11-year-old and I are noticing all of my “missed opportunities”, the Lord is blessing the time I am spending responding to His call. This time is not perfect or polished. My voice is sometimes shaky when I step out toward His call. Sometimes my naiveté gets in the way. At times, I am less than bold and regret my fears.

The enemy would love for me to focus on my “missed opportunities”. But, the Lord keeps taking those misses and giving me 2nd chances.

I go to Him in prayer, asking Him to give me His eyes, His words, His power, His Spirit. And the next time, that “missed opportunity” becomes my call from the Sovereign King.

Thank you, Lord, for what your word teaches and promises about your 2nd chances:

Isaiah 43:18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.

Job 33:29, “Behold, God works all these things. Twice, in fact, three times with a man”. 

Jonah 3: 1-3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

2nd-chance

AMEN!

 

The Least of These

It’s a quiet, solemn time in the sanctuary as the people are remembering Jesus giving His body for each of us. Laying down His life so we could live in freedom. My heart and mind are inward focused and I ask my husband to get my communion juice and cracker for me as he gets up.

communion

A few rows in front of me, I see her. My eyes catch a glimpse of her and hold on. She doesn’t look like me. She doesn’t talk like me. She doesn’t act like me.

I think she’s an angel. Or a test from the Lord. Will we notice her beauty? Her innocence? Will we welcome her? Jesus would. Jesus would embrace her. He would answer all of her questions. He would have time for her. Jesus would stop for her, look at her, meet her greatest need.

Now the Lord is turning those questions to me, directly.

Lisa, will YOU notice her? Will YOU welcome her? Will YOU patiently answer her questions? Do YOU have time for her? Will YOU meet her greatest need?

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” Luke 9:48

Then she reaches over and hands a cup and cracker to another woman who is recovering from an injury and is unable to get up to get her own. She is glowing, with a wide, warm smile as she offers communion to the other lady. And, I am struck. This woman, so different than me, has so little to offer. I am unsure if she is homeless or exactly what her living situation is, but I do know it’s different than my situation. She gives what she can. It’s an absolutely beautiful scene and it brings me to repentance.

national-day-of-repentance

I am sorry for my past judgment. I am sorry for my impatience. I am sorry for my prideful attitude. I am sorry for not even thinking of the need in front of me. Lord, I am sorry.

It may have taken months, but I am now seeing her with His eyes. She comes to church with questions, the desire to learn, but I am the student. I am seeing how she gives what she has. I am seeing how she doesn’t hesitate to ask humble questions. I am seeing her greatness in her humility.

This is the Christianity the world needs to see. Christianity that stops for the least of these. Christianity that notices the least of these. Christianity that loves the least of these. Christianity that is Jesus to the least of these.

Doers Not Hearers Only

God is messing me up.

His response to that statement would probably sound something like, “Sorry, not sorry.”

It started about a year ago, when my Bible study leader encouraged me to commit to memory, James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

james-1-22

My girls quizzed me on the verse each morning, several weeks in a row. It’s a shorter verse, which was helpful for my slow mind. Soon, I could spout it out without mistake. Before long, the girls had also learned the verse, without even trying…so not fair.

Taking the verse into context I see it in it’s fullness:

James 1:22-25, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

That command from James, Jesus’ brother, began to make me uncomfortable. The words were slowly making their way from my mind to my heart.

Lord, I am just now beginning to learn your word. Can’t I just keep listening?

But, I wanted the promise of the blessing. James said that if I am not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word,  I will be blessed in what I do. 

The wrecking began.

Next came, Matthew 25:40, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ”

I began questioning, Lord, when I am kind to a stranger, someone living on the street, a helpless child…can they possibly see a small glimpse of  YOU in me? And, Lord, when I don’t notice a need in front of me or I flat out ignore a need, am I denying YOU?

Wrecked.

Then came our mission trip to Tijuana in MexicoI experienced how fulfilled I was by living on less. Packing a suitcase full of clothes, but not even using half of them. Eating rice and beans, and then more rice and beans, and then still more rice and beans. Not concerning myself at all about what I would eat, drink or wear, but only what we would be doing that day to serve the Lord.

img_7443

Coming home to a full closet, full pantry, full refrigerator.

Yep, wrecked.

Next came some books the Lord put before me, one by Katie Davis, Kisses from Katie, and another by Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution.

Through these authors, the Lord is confirming what I am already experiencing…Jesus wants me to live the life I am learning about in His word. It’s no longer enough to study the word, attend church, and fill my mind with the truth. These things are necessary. But, He’s calling me to more.

I don’t know what this will look like in my life other than love and kindness. It’s praying the words of Jesus, in John 14:31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.”

I am done learning without action.

I am done living without loving.

I am done hearing without doing.

If this sounds like sacrifice, you should know that it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like an adventure. It feels like purpose for the overflowing of the bounty of LOVE the Lord lavishes on me. It feels like a natural response to what the Lord is doing in my life. And, in all honesty, it doesn’t matter how it feels, it’s what the Lord has called me…has called you to do.

cross

He’s wrecking our selfish lives and calling us to live like His Son.

Let Him wreck you.

John 13:17, If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.