Tag Archives: community

Perspective

Life is all a matter of perspective.  I’m learning this more and more each day.  While I tend to think of myself as a smart, educated man – I have quickly realized that education doesn’t mean you understand the real values in life – those things that really matter.

This week I have had some great opportunities.  Wednesday night Cyndi and I participated in our church wide community group.  During the summer we are meeting together as a church every other week, enjoying a meal together and then breaking into groups of eight or so to discuss the topic of the night.  This week’s topic was “greed”.  While that might not sound like a fun topic to talk about, we had a really good conversation with seven others about how greed can/does creep into our daily lives – sometimes knowingly, sometimes not.  Focusing on Matthew 6:19-20: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,   where moths and vermin destroy,   and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,   where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Last year we had an opportunity to travel with 14 friends to Cartagena, Colombia.  There we met some wonderful people.  One of those new friends is Alex Rocha.  Alex has a heart for God and for people.  Over the past year Alex has been planning and preparing to start a ministry to local youths.  This week, City Church Tallahassee committed to helping Alex financially with his ministry – along with regular spiritual guidance, training and encouragement!  Here are some photos of Alex’s new youth center:

While this may not seem like much to you or I, this is the beginning of a ministry to youths in the San Fransisco neighborhood in Cartagena!

I also had the opportunity to talk with a new friend today – Ricky Love.  Ricky is the pastor of a non traditional church plant in Richmond, Virginia called Matthew’s Table.  Ricky works with people that most of us would rather not be around.  Ricky has found enough love in his heart for the very people that need a whole lot of love!  Here’s a picture of some of the work he is doing:

Back to perspective.  Sometimes when I think I’ve got it bad, that nothing is going my way, that everyone else gets all the breaks in life, that maybe I should just give up and do something else, I’m reminded of friends like these.  And reminded that God really is good.  All the time.  To me.  And as I look at sunrises like the one at the top of this post, I’m reminded that God’s mercies are new everyday to me – and I’m thankful for them!

 


Some Wednesday Thoughts

Cyndi and I are headed to Mexico Beach, Florida tomorrow afternoon.  This view is what we’re hoping our evenings will be like for a few days!

Some random thoughts:

1.  We’ve been walking for 12 straight days!  Three miles in the morning and three miles in the evening!  Great time to spend with my wife!

2.  I calculated this week that we have spent about 25 days (24 hour days) commuting from Inverness to Tallahassee the past 18 months.  Knowing that this was what God intended for us in this season of life has helped with the fatigue and stress that creeps in.  Knowing He has a plan for our future keeps us going!  Waiting for Him to reveal that plan!

3.  Leadership is/can be hard.  If it was easy, everyone would be a leader.  Leaders who won’t do the hard things really aren’t leaders.

4.  Laughter is good!  We celebrated our end of semester community group this week with a “cook out”.  Great food and so much laughter with some of our best friends.  I can’t remember when I have laughed so hard or so loud!

5.  Good friends are valuable.  If you have a good friendship, work to keep it.  If you don’t have a good friend, work to find one.


Friends Old and New

I have had some really neat conversations with friends over the last few weeks – friends I have known for awhile and friends I have known less than year!

Here are some highlights:

On a recent Sunday afternoon we drove to some friends house for a late lunch.  Our friends opened their home and hearts to us that day in a really neat way.  While our meal was cooking on the grill, we had an opportunity to really get to know each other – learning about each other in ways that can’t happen with a two minute conversation as we walk to our cars.  We spent a few hours that afternoon becoming closer friends.  These friends have a heart and longing for God and for others!

Monday night after our community group, a friend handed me a card.  I didn’t immediately look at it but politely said thank you.  As we were driving home that night, Cyndi opened the note and read it to me.  The encouragement and generosity the card contained was amazing!  We really needed what was in that card!  We have been friends for about six months and it is really neat to see how our brief interactions have blessed each other!  This friend has a heart for God and for others!

Wednesday I skyped with a friend in Cartagena, Colombia.  We met this friend on a trip to Cartagena in August 2011 when he served as a tour guide and interpreter for our group.  We have maintained good communication since our return to Florida and hope to return again in August 2012.  This friend shared how he had been blessed with some good paying tour work in January.  Instead of spending his earnings on something for himself, this friend used most of his money to sponsor a Christian Hip Hop event in some impoverished neighborhoods in Cartagena.  This friend has a heart for God and for others!

Today I had coffee with a group of men – men who I try to meet with every two to three weeks.  All of us range in age from early 50’s to mid 60’s.  Former law enforcement, postal employee, parks and recreation supervisor, small business owner, real estate, mason, advocate for homeless and advocate for anyone in need.  Men from all over the United States and even Europe.  A common denominator among all of us – we love Jesus and have a heart for others – especially those who are having a hard time helping themselves.  My time with these men always inspire me – inspire me to strive to be a closer follower of Christ and inspire me to intentionally look to help others.

What about you?  How did you interact with your friends this week? What did they share with you and what did you share with them?

We can’t live life in a bubble!


Community

Sharing life with friends is amazing!

We have chosen to facilitate a community group with City Church Tallahassee each week.  We have been doing this for 13 months now and while some of the faces have changed, there has been a core group of members that has grown over time.

Each Monday evening we begin gathering around 7:00 p.m. and spend some time catching up with each other – laughing about work and family and church and our various escapades each week.  We learn about new friends and what is happening in each of our lives.

We spend a good amount of time in prayer with and for each other.  With our group averaging about 15 in attendance each week this can seem to be time consuming but it is some of the best time we have with each other.  I believe our prayers for and with each other are special.  So often a Christ Follower’s prayer life can be consumed with selfish requests and pleas.  This is a true reflection of our care and concern for each other and part of what defines our community!

We are currently exploring The Apostle’s Creed and examining what we say we believe!  There are fantastic comments and discussions as we each bring our own unique perspective to our beliefs – and for that I am thankful.

Cyndi and I are blessed beyond words to be a part of this group!  Our community loves us and cares for us – just as we do them.  Thankful for opportunities to share life with others!


God Will Provide a Way for You to Do What He Wants You to Do!

Here’s a profound truth I’ve learned this year – 2011:  God will provide a way for you to do what He wants you to do!

I haven’t received a paycheck from a paying job in 2011.

But God has provided for our needs the entire year!  He has provided a place for us to live when we’ve commuted to Tallahassee each week through our friends Matthew and Rachel Robinson. More than just a room, He has provided a place where we can relax and recharge. He has provided financially for us in Inverness by allowing us  to make our house payment each month and on time!

We made more than 40 trips to Tallahassee this year to volunteer our time with some dear friends who are being used by God to share the gospel through a local church plant – City Church Tallahassee. We shared our time in Inverness so Cyndi could continue her business with established clients. God provided a great year for Cyndi and I know it was so we could pay our travel expenses this year!

God has blessed us over the years and as a result we have been able to use those savings to follow His leading.  God always provides enough!

We have had a great 2011!  Leading a community group of around 15 people has been refreshing!  Becoming part of other believer’s lives as encouragers, teachers, helpers is what God has created us to do and as we do it God blesses us in ways that seem beyond explanation! We are now friends with Christ followers who have given up their jobs to plant churches, people who have gone to Bible college and now work in the secular work place because that is where God has called them to be a light, people who are new Christ followers and need mentorship and role models, people who are hurting and need love, people who we can pray with on a regular basis and most of all just living life together in this crazy chase after God’s will in each of our lives!

We have had an opportunity to be part of the leadership team for City Church.  Helping to flesh out a vision for Why Not Tallahassee!  Helping to craft practical ways to share the gospel beyond the weekly sermons or worship time. Helping bring wisdom, knowledge and leadership skills to a group of people dedicated to serving God!

We’ve had the opportunity to be part of several services at a local night club! Opening up a non traditional location for thousands, yes thousands, of people to hear the gospel – many for the very first time.  Seeing dozens and dozens and dozens of people cross from death to live for eternity! Knowing that hundreds of people will be with Jesus for eternity – not because of what we did but because we were faithful to do what He wants us to do!

We’ve shared Jesus with hundreds of people in Colombia this year. Making friends that don’t understand our language and we don’t understand theirs. But we do have a common bond in Jesus! Providing cloths and shoes and food to people who have so much less than we do. Walking among families whose homes have been destroyed. Telling them about the love of Jesus, praying with them, holding them in time of sorrow – showing compassion.

We’ve shared our lives with people we didn’t know. Telling our story of how great God is! Trying to be an example. Trying to be Christ followers.

Our savings are dwindling. But this I know: God has a plan for us and He will provide for us.  He always has. He always will.


Community

Cyndi and I have participated in community groups (small group Bible studies/discussion groups) for a number of years.  I think we both feel that church and our faith is best lived out in small groups.  Worship services are fantastic – we both love them!  But authenticity among fellow believers is best when the surroundings are more intimate and the level of trust is high among the participants.

When we first began a small group at our home, our hopes were high.  Hopes that through weekly gatherings, we could develop a sense of community among friends that would transcend the artificial Christianity that is prevalent in churches across America.  What we discovered was that people have a tough time being real with each other.  I think in part that fear is based on our on shortcomings. “What will people think of me if I tell them how I really act or talk or think?”  What I learned in that first community group is that it is tough to find community with people who don’t want it!  As our relationship with Christ grew, Cyndi and I were challenged to make changes in our lives – changes that demonstrated our walk with God!  As we acted on that developing relationship, some of our community began drifting away – distancing themselves from us!

For the past 11 months, Cyndi and I have commuted weekly from Inverness to Tallahassee to lead another community group and attend City Church.  It’s been a sacrifice that could only have been accomplished with God.  We  have travelled over 16,000 miles and spent thousands of dollars on gas and food.  But what I have realized most recently is that God has used us in this group in an incredible way.  Not our leadership but simply our obedience to Him.  Listening and acting on what He has called us to do has had an incredible impact on a number of people – mostly those who we share our lives with each week in community.

I told our group last night that as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this week, let’s reflect on what we are really thankful for.  Let’s not just say the words that others expect us to say.  I am thankful for our community group and the opportunity I have each week to invest in their lives and to let them invest in ours.

Community is important.  I hope you find a spot in one where you can be real and allow others to support you too.


Living in Community

Each Monday night, Cyndi and I lead a small group discussion group – a Community Group that delves deeper into the weekly message from Dean Inserra at City Church. As a group we honestly address issues that we face in our daily lives. Issues about faith, forgiveness, holiness, salvation, redemption, sharing our faith, living out our faith and generally what it means to be a real Christ follower.

Last night was another good time with some people who are really committed to Christ. One couple brought a friend – Michele. Michele will leave next week for a two year long mission to Hungary with the International Mission Board. I tend to ask a lot of questions and Michele intrigued me – so you can guess the rest!

Michele will spend her time building relationships with college students and members of the community she will live in. Her goals will be to disciple believers and lead them to a point of facilitating comm;unity groups when she leaves in a few years.

Although Michele will be paid to do this, aren’t each of us as Christ followers charged to dod the exact same thing? Isn’t our primary goal as a follower of Christ to share his love and glory with others? Doesn’t Jesus Christ himself leave us with a charge to go throughout all nations and teach others about Him?

I’m excited for Michele! She is embrking on an adventure that is beyond cool to me! I challenged our group to pray for Michele. I know I will.

As we closed our time together, Michele’s friends asked me to share a little of our story with Michele. While I look at our life and our actions as doing what God has called us to do, others seem to look at it with a different view. When I quit my job and began commuting 200 miles one way each week to facilitate this group and to offer my skill sets and knowledge to City Church, I did what I heard God telling me to do. He was in fact answering a prayer I’ve prayed for a very long time. I’ve begged God to let me be a part of a big movement of His. He is answering that right now! God is working through City Church in Tallahassee in a remarkable way! And I get to be a small part of it!

God has blessed us in so many ways. Last night I was reminded of the people He has surrounded us with and that may be the biggest blessing of all!