Community, Devotion, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 13: “Peace. In the Neighbourhood.”

A neighbourhood is the district in which you live. It’s your suburb, your address, and the determinate for where your children go to school. You come and go each day, probably giving little thought to your surroundings. An unconscious habit, you drive home like a robot programmed and automated.

Your senses are being heightened and your spiritual ears are tuned in like never before while you are fasting. Take note of your surroundings today. Which of your neighbours might need a word of encouragement? Who can benefit from your prayers over their marriages, health, or children?

Your influence can turn a group of people living in proximity to one another into a tight-knit community, looking out and caring for one another. The Bible says that by showing hospitality to strangers, some people have entertained angels without even knowing it.

Commit yourself to being a neighbour full of light. Let go of your complaints. Smile and lend a hand. Slow down enough to chat in the driveway. Live expectantly on your block. Ask for peace to come into your hood.

Lift up in prayer those who look after your neighbourhood today. Police, firefighters, ambulance workers: all shift-working for your good. They see the worst of what happens within the four walls next door. Under pressure, they make life and death decisions putting themselves at risk. Ask God to protect them and give thanks for their service.

“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”


1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 (MSG)
Community, Faith, Love, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 16: “Pray for Your City”

cityYou’re approaching the end of your three weeks of prayer and fasting and your prayer life has intensified. You are freer than you were a few weeks ago and you’re looking beyond your own needs and asking God to work in your family, your workplace, your church and your neighbourhood.

You actually have the ability to change your entire city. A small group of disciples who walked with Jesus a couple of centuries ago sure did! They carried a message of hope to their cities; subsequently, much of the Western world built its culture on Judeo-Christian values. Imagine you and your group of friends from church who have a passion for your community changing and influencing your city. You CAN!

Why don’t you take some time today and pray for your city? Love your suburb. Lift up its leaders and ask God to bless them and guide them. Believe God will open doors of influence and opportunity for you to speak into the lives of your city councilmen and women and elected officials. You have a voice in your community.

Over time, your care and influence will impact those around you and spill over into every area of your community. Through loving it well, you can affect change.

“Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 AMP).

Community, Love, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 15: “Love Your Neighbour”

loveIf you read the news, you’ll see consistent coverage of polarizing topics and conversations that divide. Politics, government spending, inequality in the workplace, global warming, immigration. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion and divisiveness is the status quo. Marching, arguing, hating.

The thing is, you have more in common with your neighbour than you have differences.

If you’ve ever traveled to another country and spent time people-watching, you know a mother’s love is universal. Laughter in a movie theatre or adoration for a sunset alongside strangers transcends which suburb you grew up in or what sort of car you drive.

Stand in line at a water park with thousands of other guests and you’ll see that stretch marks don’t discriminate. Shade cover is ubiquitously desired and over-priced burgers taste good after a long swim in sunshine. Everyone agrees.

Can you spend some time today focussing on what you have in common with your neighbours, rather than your differences? Pray you will be able to extend grace to those you might disagree with and smile despite your disparity.

Prayer opens your heart and eyes to the need around you. The Holy Spirit will show you how to bless those across the road and serve your neighbours, no strings attached. Meeting people where they are will diminish your differences and allow God to make his way onto your street and into your hearts. Love lessons the gap between us and that’s something everyone can admit is more fun than fighting.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

 

Community, Courage, Devotion, Friendship, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 10: “Your Kingdom Come”

thy kingdom comeWhat did Jesus mean by saying, “Thy Kingdom Come?” while teaching his disciples how to pray? God’s plans, not mine. His intentions, not yours. Undertaking the Lord’s strategy before our own.

Total surrender to the will of God is easier said than done. Dying to your fleshly desires – submitting your goals, money, children, health to a Heavenly Father comes with resistance.

Your inward focus over the last week and a half has allowed you to hear God with more clarity, to tune into the Holy Spirit, to find freedom in areas where you struggle. Hopefully, you’re learning to yield to his voice in a more meaningful way.

However, if your biggest obstacle is yourself (your problems, insecurities, fears), then understanding “thy kingdom come” as it relates to others, will prove difficult. Ask God, “why have you put me in this spot at this time with these people?”

It’s time to begin looking outward. How can your own personal revelation benefit someone else in your world?

“God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).

Sharing the love of Christ looks different for everyone. You may give time to a friend who needs a listening ear. Or, make a meal and cart kids around for a mate stuck at home with an injury or a newborn. You might go out of your way to help your co-worker.

Encourage someone.

Extend forgiveness.

Whatever God is asking you to do, go for it! Pray for opportunities. Step out in faith.

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).

church, Community, Devotion, Fasting, Series, Social problems

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day TEN

Read Psalm 68:1-6

(Today’s thought is contributed by Janine O’Rourke.)

Mother Teresa once said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

Working in retail, I have become aware of how many lonely people there are around us. As I’ve asked different ones about their Christmas or New Year, so many spend either or both on their own. I have been moved with compassion for them as these are the times we spend with family and friends.

As we go about our busy schedules, rubbing shoulders and trolleys with these lonely ones, pray for them to be set in families and communities that embrace and care for them. We must shine forth the bright morning star who dwells within us; it might be the only Christ they meet.

Heavenly Father, I pray today for everyone who is lonely in our community. I ask that they would somehow experience your love through one of your followers. You say you set the lonely in families. I ask that they would find a place in a loving church family. You are the perfect father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Community, Lift Church, Newcastle, Pictures, Uncategorized

City Serve

rowly_paint

Since Lift Church is a new church plant, I sometimes struggle with how to juxtapose where we currently sit against our huge vision for the future.  Dreams of a community centre and coffee shop open to the public, hundreds of youth, thousands of people giving their lives to Christ and serving this community together overshadow our current reality!  Although we certainly do not despise the day of our small beginnings, it’s difficult to figure out how we can make a lasting difference in our community.

We recently heard about an amazing project called “CityServe,” and its goal to transform our city together through service.  It seeks to ELEVATE what’s already being done in Christian churches throughout our city, ENGAGE civic leaders and other influencers to identify needs, and to ESTABLISH an annual city-wide serving month which elevates the name of Jesus through making a huge impact.

What a perfect way for our church to be a part of something much bigger than what we could do on our own! Throughout the month of October, churches of every denomination are working on projects all over the region.

We found a need we could meet at the PCYC in Windale.

This club offers all sorts of programs like archery, gymnastics, boxing, judo, and more.  The huge facility houses multiple meeting rooms, an outdoor skate park, and a community garden.  The problem is that the building is in disrepair.  The PCYC lacks the funds to be able to make needed upgrades; and, the amount of manpower needed to clean up the place just doesn’t exist at the moment.  When we came to offer a hand and some finances to spruce up the place, we were readily received!

Graffiti has overtaken almost every blank wall space outside.  And, over time, the club has collected so many “extra” items, that the indoor storage was overrun with rubbish.  We spent about 60 man hours painting a massive concrete wall at the entrance to the club.  This first impression was quite un-inviting before but now looks clean and fresh.

wall_before

wall_paint

wall_after

We also hired a skip bin to remove a lot of the un-needed items which had filled some of the storage space.  Our team quickly filled it to the brim and everyone associated with the club is so happy to have the breathing room inside the facility.

move_junkethan_skipskip2

Although there are many more projects to be completed around the PCYC (and we can’t wait to come back and do more), we are so happy to get the ball rolling in the right direction.  Our church willingly served and gave up their Sunday afternoon.  We had a BBQ and fun time hanging out afterwards.  I love the culture we are building into the foundation of our church that puts others before ourselves and seeks to shine the light of Christ into our city. I pray no matter how large we grow, we always have more vision than we have resource to make a difference and keep moving forward. The best is yet to come!