Over four years ago we moved into a church building that was owned by another church from a different denomination. And over the last four years we have done some building changes on the outside but most of our work has been on the inside. So most people that either live close to this building or had come to the building before would have noticed the subtle changes we have made. But recently we had a neighborhood meeting where we invited the community to come in and talk with us about one of the things we are doing when it comes to the building property.
We are developing the back 2.1 acres of our property to where there will be an apartment complex built for low-income housing. For people that are coming out of homelessness, people with disabilities, people dealing with mental health, and those that are transitioning from prison. The goal for us is that we want to be a part of the housing solution in our community for those that need the most help. So we knew that we were going to have some people that were not going to be supportive of what we were doing. During this neighborhood meeting, we heard from a few people that were very against the work that we’re doing.
But when it came to this meeting it was not a comment about the low-income housing project that stuck with me the most. It was from a man that has been living behind our building who says he is a Christian and it was about the people that come to Elevation. Here is what he said, “We liked the other church that used to be in this building because those people looked like church people. The people coming now don’t look like church people.”
Which made me want to ask the question; “So what does a church person look like?” Is it suits, is it nice cars, is it nice looking people? What does a church person look like?
Church people look lost but are now being found, church people look lonely but are building relationships, and church people look left out but are now being brought together as a family. Church people have different cultures, church people have different languages, church people have different races, and church people come from all over. So if that is what it looks like here at Elevation I am good, no matter what someone says.
We see people with cardboard signs all the time that say, HUNGRY or NEED FOOD. But what can you do about it? What if you could help a family that is in need get food in a dignified way? This is the question that we have been working to answer over the last couple of months. So at Elevation Christian Church we have an amazing group of volunteers that take our building and set it up for a free market that helps people that live in our community that are in need get food in a dignified way.
So to do this we work with an organization that helps us provide quality food through the free market to the people in our community. We choose to work with this organization because most of the time when you ask people to donate food they give you the food products that they don’t like (sauerkraut) or have had for years. (Expiration not noticed) Or when you ask people to donate money they think they are already helping someone by giving them money as the pass by them holding their cardboard sign. I watched a TED TALK where the Mayor of Albuquerque talked about how by donating financially to a food bank or free market can make a greater impact when it comes to helping people get food. Unfortunately when we give someone money on the street is less likely to go to feeding them but to feeding their addiction. So at the Free Market at Elevation we are able to purchase large amounts of quality food where we can then give it to the people that are in need for FREE. That is why it is called, “The Free Market at Elevation.”
Through the amazing volunteers at Elevation we create a mini grocery store with grocery carts and all where people can get the food they need for themselves and for their families. We also have people called, “Shoppers Helpers” that walk through the Free Market with the people from the community to build a relationship with them. It is not someone that probes about their issues or their needs but someone that can become a friendly face. Then once the person is done going through the market the shoppers helper asks how they can pray for that person and gives them a card or some encouragement. We recently had over 100 second graders from a local school come and help set-up and while they helped they also created cards to give to the shoppers of the Free Market. I was told that one man went through the market for the first time where he recieved his food, had someone pray with him, and then he recieved one of the second graders cards. What I was told was the man thanked his shoppers helper for their prayers, then began to walk out of the building, while he was on the front walk way he read the card from one of the second graders. He was so overcome with with the care and the card that he came back into the building with tears streaming down his face to let the volunteers know how thankful he was for the food, the care, and the card. He said that it was all just what he needed that day.
I tell you this because you can be a part of the Free Market at Elevation. You can help people that are in need of food by your donations and when you donate you know that they are getting quality food and dignified care at the same time. Just click here. Because when you do you will be doing what is best for the person that is most likely going to be holding a sign some day saying, “In need of food”. Be a part of the movement to make sure that someone is being fed and fed well physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I am excited to be able to start the new year with a goal of writing on this blog at least twice a week and making it a part of what we are doing at Elevation. I am also going to be writing to help husbands, fathers, and men to be all that God wants them to be in each of their lives.
So today is kind of a two for one! We have started a series called, “The Vow”. We are talking about the vows that we need to take serious if we are going to be prepared for marriage or to have strength in our current marriages. Because if you are reading this you probably have like me seen the stats or studies that show that half of marriages are not making it for the long haul. And most men are like me where we did not have the best or if any examples of what it means to be a Godly and loving husband. So it is my hope that we can start the conversation where we can give men a place to start when it comes to preparing to be great husbands or help those husbands to grow and get better.
I have been reading through the book of Psalms and there is one that is specific about what it looks like for a husband to spiritually lead his family. We talked about what it looks like to, “Seek the One, to Reflect the One” to our spouses or women that we want to marry in the first message of our series. So read with me Psalm 128:
Psalm 128 (NLT) A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. 1 How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways! 2 You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. 4 That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him. 5 May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. 6 May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!
The writer is talking about how it starts first with the fear of the Lord and of the one who is following in the Lords ways. Then it says that we will enjoy the fruit of our work because of who we are following the Lord. But then it show how as we “SEEK THE ONE” it will enable us to “REFLECT THE ONE” to the people in our homes. It is says that the wife will be like a fruitful grapevine flourishing within your home. This shows that as you make Jesus the one in your life and that he grows and shows through you that your wife will flourish, that your home will be better because of the both of you being affected by Jesus and that your HOME will be different because of you both being changed by following the Lord.
It then goes on and talks about the kids! Your kids will be affected by the way that you and your spouse are being changed as you “Seek the One to Reflect the One” as a couple. The future of your family the future of your kids are being lead by the way that you are being lead by Jesus. If we want to be a part of changing the directions of our families legacy’s we do that be following Jesus. It also points out sitting around the table, maybe this week as you, “Seek The One to Reflect the One” you have a conversation around the table with your kids about what you are learning or doing as a follower of Jesus?
But then it talks about seeing Jerusalem prosper and that you may live to enjoy your grandchildren and see Israel have peace. As I studied and read more this is showing that as we “See The One to Reflect the One” that it will lead to change in our community, that we will be a part of the change to generations of people because of the way that we are following Jesus. What you do as a follower of Jesus and as a husband and as a father can be used by God to change the communities that we are in and the generations that are to come after us.
What do you need to do this week to “Seek The One to Reflect the One”? How can you make sure that your wife is flourishing? How are you getting your kids around the table to talk about following Jesus? Take some time to pray and think about this and please feel free to leave a comment and share what you are planning to do.
So yesterday as I was heading to the airport with my wife and daughter to fly out to an event that I was going to speak at something caught my eye. We were sitting at an intersection that we always go through about three to four times a day and there was a man on the corner with a refrigerator. That’s right a refrigerator all by himself on a dolly. Then as we pulled up the light changed and he painstakingly hauled the refrigerator across the street to the other side, but when he got to the corner it got stuck. So he worked and worked the refrigerator up on the corner as all of the cars in the turn lane waited and honked. Then once he got it up on the corner sidewalk he paused caught his breath and then hauled the refrigerator down the street to some unknown destination.
As I watched this happen I was thinking first, how I could get out and help this guy with out getting run over and with out being late for my flight. Then the second thing that came to mind was why is there no one to help this guy to move this refrigerator? Why is he carrying so much of a load all on his own? I thought that it was really interesting to see this since this last weekend at Elevation we talked about the need and call for community. We talked about “Relationships lead to community and community fuels maturity.”
It made me think about all the people that are involved in faith communities (churches) that are carrying to much on their own. Whether it because of their own choice of not being involved in community by choosing to be that person who just shows up and never gets to know any one. Or that they are involved in a faith community (church) that doesn’t make relationships a priority. It burdened my heart to think about how we have so many people that say they are following Jesus but have made a choice to forget about the “One Another’s”. Through out the New Testament there many “One Another’s” and there is one that I thought of when it came to the man on the corner with the refrigerator.
2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
When did we start to think that we need to handle things all on our own? When did it become ok to know of the struggle someone is having and to do nothing? It is my prayer that today you will notice the family member or friend that is carrying to much, like the refrigerator and get involved. Who do you know that you can help carry the refrigerator down the street today? Don’t miss out on sharing in the burden.
When you get done with being in a church experience or service do you ask yourself the question, “What did I get out of this?” Hope you think about something.
It is my hope that I can help you change your perspective about answering that question. To be honest we should be really asking the question but the idea should be more about “How is Jesus speaking to me and what am I going to do in response to what He is telling me?”
So I want to challenge you with some things that can prepare you to answer that question above:
- Choose to really get into the singing. That’s right really sing out! Don’t worry about what anyone is thinking about your singing if you are seeking to honor God with you singing it shouldn’t matter. You don’t care about it when you are at a concert do you? Well don’t care when you are in service either.
- Come ready to hear and share stories that you have experienced when it comes to be being a part of a church family. This is a chance for encouragement and for life change as you become a healthier follower of Jesus.
- Be hungry to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Because being hungry is your choice as to what you experience! So pray for the person that is speaking, ask God to use them to speak into your life, to those that are sitting around you, and that lives would be changed by the gospel.
- Come prepared to be involved. Make sure you have a bible (paper or digital) get your program ready and make sure you write out notes. The notes will help you through out the week when it comes to working out what Jesus is doing in you and through you. Who knows the Holy Spirit might really use it to nudge in you a specific direction.
- Come expecting to respond to what God is doing that day both during the experience and later as you walk through what you have learned. Be ready to take it back out into life.
- Come knowing that this is not where you are going to have a strong sense of community. Remember that comes through being in a more relational driven group. (Smaller)
- Come knowing that the experience is the beginning of the week and that the experience is not the end of be all to your spiritual health. Take the experience and use it to grow more personally. Spiritual growth happens in many other ways then just on Sunday.
What are some ways that you get ready for a service or experience when you are a part of a church community? Help us see other options that are out there.
One of the things that I have come to realize is that when it comes to being a generous person its not about what we do it is about who we are. For me I was raised in home where being generous to people around you was just who you were. It wasn’t something you had to think about, or guess about, you just did it. So when I got married I just started doing what I thought was the natural thing to do. Well my wife had grown up differently then me and it was a point of great conversation for us. (That’s called an argument.) So we both had to come to a mutual understanding of what we were going to do when it came to being generous. Which honestly was a really good thing for both of us to come to as a couple. I would really say it was a great chance for me to grow as a husband, father, and as person that works in the faith community. (church)
You see because of that difference between my wife and I it enabled me to see how and why people struggle when it comes to being generous in and with their faith community. For us at Elevation we talk a lot about being generous in fact we want to be known for our “Insane Generosity” to the community around us. But for a community of faith (church) to be generous that means the people of the church need to be generous with what they give to that church. If you are a part of a faith community then you will have heard this is about offerings and about tithing. (We are not going to argue Old Testament vs New Testament giving.) So we want people to see that for us to be generous as a church community then the people need to be a part of that through their generosity through their tithes and offerings.
But most people honestly struggle here because of the different ways that they were raised. Some were raised that all you had was yours and that you take care of your own. Some were raised without anything so you had to keep whatever you had to be able to make it. Others were raised where you were just generous enough to make sure you looked good. While as others were raised with the idea that helping someone in need is just what you did that you were generous.
So it is my hope that I can encourage people to live out a generous life. Whether it is by caring for your neighbor. (Hopefully you know who they are.) By providing some food for another student at your school. (Had one of my kids do this.) Or through the tithes and offerings you share with your community of faith. (My wife does this for us now.) Because as you begin to do this you will be amazed that the words of the New Testament begin to be lived out your life in an amazing way.
Acts 20:35b “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
How are you living out a life of insane generosity in your life? How are you being generous with your faith community so that they can be generous with the community around it?
So this weekend I had someone invite me to come and see a car that was in our parking lot. We walked out the front door and the person pointed out the car in the parking lot. My first thought was ok nice car but that is not the make or model that I get all fired up about, I let them know that I am a mustang kind of guy. But then the person drew my attention to the license plate that was on the car. There I saw what had got the attention of the individual.
This is the actual license plate that was on the car. This is not fabricated or changed in any way to make this an interesting picture. For those of you that don’t know we are a church that is in the great state of Colorado where I am a native. A place where it is currently to legally purchase marijuana. Now I don’t intend for this to be a place where we argue about what should be or not be legal. We live in a state where it is legal and I have to live in that reality as a leader. So the person that pointed out the license plate then asked me this question, “What should we do about this?”
My answer to this question was simple, “Make sure they have a great parking spot and they have a good time.” With that answer I saw a look of confusion for a minute. But then I went on to explain what I meant. My answer and my prayer was that this person felt comfortable enough to come and be a part of our church so I wanted us to live out, “It’s ok to not be ok, but God doesn’t want you to stay that way.” I wanted the person that came in this car to understand that they can come here and be cared for and encouraged in their faith journey. Then I wanted the person to know that pointed out the license plate that God is going to be the one that is going to change a life. So we should be excited that this person was with us and hearing about the radical grace of Jesus.
We were not going to run them off because of their license plate because just down the row was another car that I knew the owner was dealing with porn, I knew that there was another car on the next row where the owner was dealing with mental illness, and I knew that there was another car on the other end of the lot that was in legal trouble. The only thing different about this car was that their license plate was letting us know what was going on in their life. So we were going to simply pray for this person, pray that Jesus was going to impress upon their heart about a relationship with Him, pray that this person would experience life change because of who he is and not because we pointed out their license plate. So my encouragement to you is to look in the parking lot, look and see not the license plates but who are the people that are there to be cared for and reached with the radical grace of Jesus? Who knows maybe you need to start with your car.