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Sunday’s meeting went well. We discussed how to proceed with our outreach to the women and families of New Directions. How do we help while they’re at the house? How do we help them transition to living on their own? How do we help them gain job and life skills necessary to be successful? How do we continue with on-going support?

We have a team in place and we’re working on the next steps. Hopefully, this will progress quickly and we’ll soon be ready for action. But we’ll need a lot more help. Providing meals on Friday night is one thing. Giving occasional rides and financial assistance. However, this will be a major step for us. We need more help. We need more workers. How will you help?

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This Sunday we’ll have a family meeting to continue our plans for reaching and helping those in our community. We already have an outreach with New Directions, but we can do more. What is the best way for us to help? What obstacles are these families facing as they transition to self-sufficiency? How can we best fill the gaps?

Be thinking about these questions for Sunday. If you’d like to make some suggestions here, go ahead.

Yesterday I talked about Nehemiah and how he responded to God. God placed it on his heart to rebuild the wall at Jerusalem. He wasn’t the closest person to this problem. He probably wasn’t the best equipped to handle this building project. And yet, he went and did it. 

There were obstacles and opponents. There were hardships and heartaches. But he went anyway. He went and did it. 

As you look around yourself what is God putting on your heart to accomplish for him? Will you ignore the promptings of God or will you respond?

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. . . . This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Those who do not do what is right are not God’s children; nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.”
– 1 John 3:1-2, 10.

Can you recognize children of God? What do they look like? Do you believe you look like one of them?

“I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response.”
– A. W.Tozer, The Pursuit of God.

How do you respond to inward spiritual longings? Do you put them on hold, or do you embrace those longings and fulfill them?

“My identity as Abba’s child is not an abstraction or a tap dance into religiosity. It is the core truth of my existence. Living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness profoundly affects my perception of reality, the way I respond to people and their life situations. How I treat my brothers and sisters from day to day, whether they be Caucasian, African, Asian, or Hispanic; how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street; how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike; how I deal with ordinary people in their ordinary unbelief on an ordinary day will speak the truth of who I am more poignantly than the pro-life sticker on the bumper of my car.”
– Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child.

Are your actions communicating a message different from your theology? How do other people “hear” your message on an ordinary day?

“It is tragic, then, that so many Christian believers seemingly never mature in their faith, never become individuals of spiritual depth, wisdom, and discernment. And we should feel this tragedy as keenly as we would feel it if a person remained perpetually an infant, physically and emotionally. What is beautiful in a young child becomes distressing when we find it in one who is older.”
– Gordon T. Smith, On the Way.

How are you doing at growing in Christ? Are you continually moving to maturity? What do you continue to need to work on?

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
– John 1:12-13

What does it mean for you to be a child of God? What might that mean for your own self-image?

“The church, therefore, is not a separated community that can pursue its own identity apart from the world’s fate. The church is a witness to the world, in the world, of God’s coming reign in Christ over the powers of the world. As a believing community it lives in this age, not in some transcendent eternity. As the body of the incarnate, crucified, and risen Christ, it is part of this history where the triune God is at work. . . . The church is that part of the world that responds in faith, hope, and love to the judgment and promise of God for the world. Its members are engaged in every part of the world’s life. We are sent into every sphere of life as the church dispersed, not as individuals. In the family, in the work place, in the community, and in politics we wrestle with the powers to discern, make known, and serve the work of the Spirit and the reign of Christ. We are, in the words of Paul, stewards of the mysteries of God. We are the shock troops of God’s mission.”
– James V. Brownson, Inagrace T. Dietterich, Barry A. Harvey, and Charles C. West, StormFront: The Good News of God.

How are we doing in our witness to the world? Are we engaged in the world’s life? Do other’s witness our faith, hope, and love?

“The confessing church . . . calls people to conversion, but it depicts that conversion as a long process of being baptismally engrafted into a new people, an alternative polis, a countercultural social structure called church. It seeks to influence the world by being the church, that is, by being something the world is not and can never be, lacking the gift of faith and vision, which is ours in Christ.”
– Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens.

Too often we focus on some limited perspective like church attendance. What does it mean to actually “be the church”? What might that look like?