Tony

One more reason to partner with organizations like Convoy of Hope.

The Haynes’ Story from Convoy of Hope on Vimeo.

Click here to help Convoy of Hope continue to impact families like Tony’s. http://www.convoyofhope.org/go/headlines/entry/from_honored_guest_to_volunteer

Bright colors flooded the parking lot of city hall in Roswell, Ga., where a Convoy of Hope community outreach was well underway. Inflatable bounce houses, rides, games and balloons welcomed children to the sprawling kid’s area.

Large striped tents housed volunteers who offered medical screenings, job placement assistance, haircuts, family portraits, prayer and connection to local churches, agencies and organizations.

One family of volunteers knew exactly what it was like to be an honored guest at the outreach because two years earlier they were homeless and had come to the distribution site for help … and hope.

They received both.

Tony, a volunteer, can’t stop his eyes from filling with emotion as he recounts how he moved his wife and three children to Atlanta more than five years ago to establish a construction business with partners.

Partner with Convoy of Hope to help families like Tony’s. http://www.convoyofhope.org/go/headlines/entry/from_honored_guest_to_volunteer

“Contracts stopped coming,” he says. “I couldn’t pay the mortgage … couldn’t feed my family. I lost my house. We ended up living in our car.”

At night during months of homelessness Tony watched his children huddle together to stay warm in the car. “It was real despair,” he says of the experience. “I kept asking myself, ‘Was it my fault? How did this happen?’”

Tony heard that Convoy of Hope was distributing free groceries and decided to attend the outreach in Roswell.

“People were genuinely concerned about our situation and wanting to help,” recalls Tony.

A group of volunteers at the outreach went above and beyond their duties to help Tony find a job, a home and furnishings. They also helped enroll his children in school.

“At the outreach my life completely changed,” he says.

Tony

Zechariah

Return to God and he will return to you.

The Bible reads, “In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, ‘The Lord was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds. But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us'” (Zechariah 1:1-6, ESV).

Zechariah lived in a time that generation after generation had forgotten God. Their short memory had lasting consequences. They had lost their leadership and land. The temple foundation was left in ruins. But now they had a second chance. And in the midst of the desolation came a discovery. The old scrolls. The old prophecies. Warnings. Promises. A time to repent. A time to remember.

God often says something to one group and then has to wait years for another group to finally respond. Just look at the Exodus. How can thousands eyewitness the plagues and Red Sea and then be afraid of giants? Why settle for wanderings when the Promised Land is across the Jordan?

Is it any coincidence that Zechariah’s name literally means “Yahweh Remembered”? Now was the time to return.

Does the prophet’s message speak to our day and age? We will not ignore what God is doing. We will join him on the mission. His vision must become our vision. His work our own work. No more delays. No more distractions. No more disobedience. Remember who he is and what he is about. Remember why we are here. Remember what he has done. Remember what he is capable of.

Zechariah

Pursue

Today David Brakke, our lead pastor at Maltby Christian Assembly, concluded a series on the Holy Spirit titled “The Third Person by talking about spiritual gifts.

The Apostle Paul writes, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:1-5, ESV).

Pastor David reminded us that we must utilize the gifts that God has given us where they are needed the most – outside the church walls. He proposed, “We shouldn’t just make it through life. But we should make a difference with our life.”

So what gift has God given you through his Holy Spirit? I am not talking about your natural talents or tendencies. I am talking about what only God can do in and through you. And are you using that gift in a way that brings glory and honor to God or only for time and attention to yourself? Are you showing decency, order, and maturity? Remember, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not the same as the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But the gifts should be used in such a way that shows fruit.

And what was the highlight of this morning’s gathering? That our Thanksgiving celebration ended with Sherry Brakke and team leading our church in creating over one thousand care packages for our community. Talk about showing gifts of kindness.

Pursue

Holdman

My children are begging me to hang up Christmas lights this year. They have asked every year. But I have been far too picky in preference to meet my own expectations. But I need to do it for them. Not for myself. Isn’t that what parenting is all about?

Here is what I am thinking:

Holdman

List

I remember a friend of mine recently describing Thanksgiving as a time of year that we are so grateful for what we have that we spend the entire next night buying more. I don’t really know I feel about Black Friday. But on the flip-side, as a parent of four children, I do see the value of stretching a dollar. What do you think about our national day of consumption?

Regardless, I think that every shopper should make it interesting for others. Why not have some fun in the midst of the chaos. Here is an idea for a little dose of friendly competition –

Do you have any memorable experiences from Black Friday?

List

Gaius

The Bible reads, “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 1:5-8, ESV).

I came across this text on Thanksgiving Day and cannot but think about a conversation that I recently had with Steve Shoop (read more about what this missionary does in developing leaders at http://justinfarley.blogspot.com/2011/11/engage.html). He mentioned to me how such holidays can be the loneliest days of the year for missionaries. American holidays, of course, are not celebrated elsewhere in the world. Families are separated. Turkeys are even expensive.

Show your gratitude this year by being hospitable to someone who needs it the most. Pray for a missionary. Write to a missionary. Facebook them. Skype with them. Make sure they know they are missed and appreciated. Hospitality.

Gaius

Zophar

The Bible reads, “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these? I am a laughingstock to my friends; I, who called to God and he answered me, a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock. In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune; it is ready for those whose feet slip. The tents of robbers are at peace, and those who provoke God are secure, who bring their god in their hand” (Job 12:2-6, ESV).

We must be careful not to find ourselves in a place where we believe that we have it all figured out. Believing that we have all the answers makes us feel better…but it does not necessarily always make others feel better. Job’s friends had all of the theories and formulas that they needed. They took great comfort in knowing how God worked…and yet they failed to see God at work and his desire to bring comfort.

We are not the end all. There are aspects of life and love – grace and mercy, truth and mystery, justice and holiness – that we are not fully aware of. Often what hinders us from helping others is not just our misunderstanding of God but also our misunderstanding of other people. Job’s friends did not know Job. They did not want to.

Is our intent to be heard or to bring about healing?

Zophar