Day of Action

I’ve been sitting back, waiting for my turn to tell you all about the upcoming – first ever –  “Day of Action”.  I kind of get a chuckle out of the pre-announcements and “sort of” announcements and the information that is floating around about this event. What I can tell you right now is that you are not going to want to miss being a part of something that can change how you look at your world.

Here are the basics. The event is being held during the week of July 9-13.  You can volunteer any day or time during that week –  however, the focus for us as a church is going to be Friday the 13th– some people’s superstition – our DAY OF ACTION!   Beginning early in the morning we will be gathering at the Logos Academy on West King Street in York to prepare and serve breakfast for all the volunteers.  Then we will be going to individual job sites to help our neighbors in need with all sorts of home repair.  At the end of the day – we will be providing the evening meal for all the volunteers and homeowners, as we gather together to recount the amazing ways God was moving among us as we took action by serving others.

The group we will be partnering with is called Servants, Inc.  They have fantastic information on their website – be sure to look them up. Basically they are a local organization who come alongside homeowners to provide home maintenance and repair services to the elderly, the disabled or the needy who are unable for whatever reason, to do the work themselves and are unable to pay professionals to do the work for them.

But here is the beauty of this project – you DO NOT need to know how to operate power tools.  You don’t even have to LIKE power tools.  You just need to have a willingness to serve. Throughout the coming weeks I will be detailing all sorts of ways that you can be a part of this amazing event!

Today – I want you to physically pick up the phone and either call or email Alisha Crooks. Yes!  Right now!  Even before you finish reading …..just pick up the phone and call.    Alisha is one of the sweetest people I know and I want you to overwhelm her with phone calls!😊  I want you to leave so many messages that she has to hire an assistant to return calls. I want her to get sick of hearing “Hi! I’m from actionchurch!”

Alisha Crooks

Ph:  (717) 378-0336

Email:  alishacrooks@servants.org

Even if you don’t have a clue how you can help – call Alisha and tell her who you are, what you like to do, what you think you are good at (or bad at) doing and I guarantee you she WILL find a way for you to be a part of the event.  If you are interested in being a part of an actual work crew on a job site you will have to get in touch with Servants – BEFORE Friday !  They need to get an idea of skills and available volunteers so they know how to organize for the jobs that are the highest priority.

Get ready gang! Actionchurch is going to love God, love others and take action in a big way during our first ever DAY OF ACTION!

Evolution

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

I believe in evolution. Before you click out of this blog and scorn me as a Darwinist…..hear me out.  I’m talking about our personal evolutions.  How we as individuals change over time to become who we are.

Recently I had major back surgery.  It left me with a 12” scar along my spine and a big hole in my self-esteem.  I had to re-learn how to walk correctly and it severely limits my stamina.   It affected not only my physical health, but my mental well-being.  My injury distressed my family, our hobbies, our finances and my career. Those of you who know me – understand that I am not the same person I was a year ago.  Many of the traits that I valued – those things that I thought gave me self-worth – were gone overnight.

It wasn’t until just recently that I gave myself permission for that to be OKAY.  I have changed.  I have evolved.  I didn’t come to this conclusion on my own….and it certainly didn’t happen overnight. I now have a wonderful physical therapist/sadist who has been through some major life crap herself.  She constantly tells me – “That is who you were before.  Forget about that and move on.”  (By the way – she has this unbelievable Russian/Swedish funky accent that makes everything she says seem more exotic yet brutally painful if that is possible!)

My response to her for the first week or so was….”yeah, but – “  and she would quickly cut me off with a curt “Move on.”  But you don’t understand, I would lament “I used to…..” and again she would reply “That’s the past.  Move on.” She was using the wisdom she gained through her own experiences to help me move forward; to evolve.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it.  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43: 18-19

“Move on”.  Let it go. Forget the past.  Yesterday is over.  Evolve and become something even better.  Different – but better.  It will all work out EXACTLY according to God’s plan…..All those things that my heart knew, but my head wasn’t hearing.  Listen friends – God knows your hearts desires and he fully understands your limitations.  No matter where you are physically, mentally, financially, emotionally – God has a purpose for you.  Keep moving on.  Keep evolving.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heaven ward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

 

Getting to Know You

“Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.”  Hebrews 10:24

One of the things – (in a long list of “things”) – that I love about working with Servants is their work ethic.  I remember the leader on our first assignment telling us to put our hammer down and interact with the homeowner – FIRST.  Get to know them – listen to their stories – pray with them.  At the time it seemed kind of counterproductive to me.  I was always the roll up your sleeves, grab your hammer and don’t stop swinging until the sun goes down kind of gal.

But what I came to realize is that at the end of the day…..more importantly – at the end of our lives – it won’t matter how quickly that roof got fixed.  But it will matter whether our hearts are fixed.  Our real goal as we go out into the community together is not necessarily to fix the physical needs, but rather to address the spiritual needs THROUGH our acts of love and kindness.

God commanded us in Deuteronomy to address the needs of the poor.  Jesus repeated the fact that there will always be someone in need.  And as followers of Christ we must address those needs…..whatever they may be.

“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. For the poor you will always have with you in the land.  Therefore, I command you, you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.”  Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Servants and actionchurch’s main goal through EVERYTHING that we do is to love people.  Our love reflects Christ’s love.  The people that we are going to serve definitely have physical needs – bathrooms without working plumbing, leaking roofs, rotting foundations.  But often, they need a friend, willing to listen. They need a loving, compassionate person willing to pray with them.  They need someone to show them that they are loved, cared for and cherished – not only by us, but by God himself.

In the early “church” Jesus’s  disciples carried out his commandments literally – and –  there were NO needy persons.  Poverty was eradicated among them!  Can you even imagine a world like that?  How could that possibly be?

There was no one in the group who was in need.  Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale, and hand it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed to each one according to his need. “  Acts 4:34-35

THAT’S how it can be.

Are you willing to open your hand?  Are you willing to get to know your neighbors in need? Are you willing to be a part of something bigger than yourself?

“Then I said, “Here I am, to do your will, O God…..”Hebrews 10:7

Wake up!

“I tell you, he replied, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”   Luke 19:40

It’s 3:00 in the morning and I am wide awake.  Some people assume that this is normal for us older persons – but I always tell my kids I can’t sleep because God wants something from me.  Sometimes it’s because there has been something heavy on my heart that I need to put on God’s shoulders. So, I pray about those things.  God wants my weary burden – and I gladly give it to him.

But on very special occasions the 3:00 a.m. wake-up call is because God has a message for me to relate to anyone willing to listen. Words come into my head that my fingers are supposed to type. But for a while now – I’ve been like the bratty kid with my hands over my ears, shouting “I can’t hear you!”  as my dad is trying to give me instruction.

God has given me the gift of words…. Written words – spoken words – heartfelt words that I am supposed to use to teach and encourage and comfort.  But lately I have been feeling unqualified to use those words.  And not just unqualified – I’ve felt unworthy. I’ve been covering my ears to God’s messages because I was certain that I wasn’t the right person to relate them.

But today’s alarm clock was pretty specific: ( Let me paraphrase ) – “Wake up blockhead!  I have something to say that even a block of rock would be able to relay.”

So – here is the message – don’t hide your light under a basket.  Don’t stifle your calling.  Don’t let The Evil One tell you that you aren’t “good enough” or that you aren’t “good for anything”.  Because the truth is that each of us has been given a true and wonderful gift from God.

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.  So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” Romans 12:6-8

Sometimes it takes a long time to figure out exactly what our knack is – but we all have one.  I encourage you today to ask God what ability you have and specifically how he wants you to use it.  As Don mentioned, actionchurch is moving forward with a very exciting serving opportunity in July.   Being uncharted territory for us, we are going to need every single one of you to use your gifts and talents to make this project a success.   God will give us the resources and the skill, but it’s up to us to uncover our ears and open our hearts  to receive those gifts and in turn, use them to serve others.

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another.”  1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

Ratios

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Another year gone by. Another Relay for Life – actionchurch style – in the books. If I had to describe this year’s Relay in one word (which I rarely do) – it would be – peaceful. I’m grateful for Rachel’s phenomenal planning skills – and I’m certain that her organizational expertise had a lot to do with this year’s successful event. And, actionchurch could never be a part of Relay to begin with – if it weren’t for Michele’s generous spirit and heart for serving the community. But – it was more than years of relay experience that made this event different. It’s hard to explain in written words (without my normal hand motions when I speak). If you were a part of Relay this year, perhaps you felt it too.

The tent was full – like always. The ratio of servers to those being served was almost perfect. Enough survivors and caregivers enjoying the evening that we had to hustle – but not rush. The food was extraordinary – like always. The ratio of crabcakes to consumers was over the top! Everyone walked away with full bellies, our crew had an opportunity for fellowship and we were still able to bless the first responders in our community with abundance. The weather was humid – like always. The amount of sweat was in direct correlation to the temperature. I don’t think I will ever get the ratio of butter pats to salad dressing correct – but that’s kind of a given 😀

So, all in all – not a whole lot has changed from previous years at the survivor banquet…..but there was a sense of peace and tranquility that I can’t remember experiencing in years past.

And – I’m pretty sure the rational is God.

From the very first Relay for Life that my family and I participated in with actionchurch God has always been at the very center of the event for me. I remember being moved to tears at the luminaria ceremony and how God called me and encouraged me to become an even bigger participant the next year….and the next year….and the next year. And I remember the year we added more children’s activities and the years we served breakfast for ALL the participants and praying that God would provide the resources and the volunteers. He showed up in such a big way that no one could question that God was solely responsible for the success of our endeavors.

Don’t get me wrong – there were always bumps in the road, friends with new cancer diagnosis and challenges to be overcome. But the resolution to the hiccups along the way always pointed to our Lord and Savior being at the heart of the crazy whirlwind of preparation and the back breaking, muscle aching, blister making thing we call Relay for Life.

But – THIS year – the ratio changed for me. The element of calm within the tent on that muggy, hot, humid football field was 100% God infused peace – 0% stress and worry. Gang, it was a great lesson for me. It was just SUCH an amazing feeling that I want to replicate in my personal life. I want to feel 100% – all the time – every day – completely infused with God’s peace. And I want that for you too!

So – thanks to all of you – the old guard from the Crew…..and all of our new friends who joined together in humble service. Thanks for making my job easy. Thanks for using your vacation days and Friday night to serve others. Thanks for showing God’s love to me…..and to the cancer survivors and their caregivers.

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16