…And the summer mission trip experience series continues! (Guest Contributor)

WaterfallApptrail

Hello readers! My name is Adam and I am a college student, assistant to my church’s youth leader, Awana teacher, and preacher. This past June 23rd–27th a small mission team from my church traveled to Elizabethton, Tennessee to help spread the Gospel and God’s love. It was the first mission trip away from home for all seven members of our team, even though we did not travel very far from our homes.

We arrived safely on Sunday afternoon and settled into our place of dwelling for the week. A local church was gracious enough to allow us the use of their activities building and kitchen. Later on Sunday night we met with our mission’s coordinator from Hale Community Ministries. After our meeting, our mission’s coordinator determined that we weren’t quite prepared enough to do the Bible club on the first morning. As a group, we were extremely disappointed because we were so excited about teaching each lesson, conducting recreation, organizing crafts, and preparing snacks, food, and drinks. However, we decided to use the extra time to prepare more and conduct a small Bible study and discussion with our group.

On Monday afternoon, we visited a local nursing home to witness, pray, sing, and do anything to make the home’s residents feel better. One of our group members had never ministered in a nursing home before and was really touched by the experience. After the nursing home, we met with our mission’s coordinator and went to the area where we would be doing the Bible club— a poverty-stricken mobile home park. Our team began knocking on doors and informing those in the community of our intentions. We returned to the church after spending some time there.

Tuesday was our first day of the Bible club which was intended to be for kids K-6, but we did not turn away kids of any age from attending. Each day we conducted a prayer walk, asking God to continue giving us courage, wisdom, and guidance. After our prayer walk, we went door to door to walk the children to the site where we would conduct the club. Once all of the children were there, we gave them pop-tarts, granola bars, and juice boxes. The ages of the kids spanned from three to thirteen.

We conducted the club and shared lessons about Christ. Our group continued this until Thursday morning which was our last day. We bought each kid a Bible and some toys too. It ended up raining on Thursday morning so we had to cancel the club, but the Lord allowed the rain to subside so we could go door to door to hand the kids their gift bags and the snacks we had already prepared for the day.

It seemed that our trip flew by, but it was definitely fun and an experience I will not forget. We played basketball, hiked part of the Appalachian Trail to a magnificent waterfall (pictured above), and really grew as a group! Everyone who went on the trip was touched by God.

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The most important thing we realized was that the kids were hungry and not just hungry for food, but for attention, love, and the Hope of Jesus Christ.
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The image that touched me the most was a little three year old girl. We grilled hotdogs one day for the kids and anyone in the community who wanted them. The little girl ate three hotdogs on a bun and one more without a bun while only an hour and thirty minutes before eating two pop-tarts. To see how hungry the kids were really spoke to me and made me realize all the things, including food, we often take for granted. I would challenge anyone who reads this to count your blessings and if you have never been on a mission trip, make it a priority to do so. I guarantee you that the Lord will bless you.

I would like to thank first and foremost God, our church, Hale Community Ministries, and many others, but especially Victoria for allowing me to post on the With True Hope blog and giving me the opportunity to share with you what our group did and how the Lord moved in and through our lives, while we humbly served Him.

I will leave you with this verse from 1 Peter 3:15 which states, “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (HCSB). Is the Messiah– the Lord Jesus Christ– the reason for the hope that is in you? And if so, are you always ready to share of Jesus Christ’s hope with those who are hungry for Him?

In Christ,
Adam

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Money Shredding Mornings…

Apparently, there is an alarm clock which shreds money should the sleeper dare to stay asleep longer than ten seconds after the alarm goes off!  The New York Daily News reports, “Seattle inventor Rich Olson came up with the device that rips up your money if you don’t hit a button within a few seconds”.  The United Kingdom Huffington Post similarly reports, “A new customised alarm clock has been designed to shred money if you fail to wake up”. 

Well goodnight!  Or more appropriately, good morning!  What an invention…to depict how money is the motivation for waking up in the morning!

Natt Garun of Digital Trends comments, “But nothing, we say, nothing beats the cold hard incentive like threatening your wealth… Desperate times call for desperate measure… If you don’t get up to dismantle the alarm in time, say goodbye to your precious dollar bill as it starts going down the shredder… Olson recommends that if you’re really bad at getting up, stick larger monetary values in there to better motivate yourself to get out of bed.  After a while, you’re bound to either wake up in time or go broke”.

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What motivates us to wake up in the morning?

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I couldn’t help but question, is it money which motivates us to wake up in the morning?  Perhaps we don’t have a money shredding alarm clock, but we drag ourselves out of bed in the mornings because we go to work for a pay check.  Maybe it is something else, like reading our friends’ latest tweets or Facebook posts, that morning cup of coffee (tea), breakfast, our reputation or schedule because we have things to do, places to go, people to see?

But what if all that stuff was taken away…

…the money

…the job

…the friends

…the technology

…the coffee (tea)

…the breakfast

…the reputaion

…the schedule

…what’s left to be the reason for our waking?

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“In the morning, when I rise,
In the morning, when I rise,
In the morning, when I rise,
Give me Jesus.” (Give Me Jesus)

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Psalm 5:3, 11– “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation…let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You” (NIV84).

Psalm 59:16-17– “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.  O my Strength, I sing praise to You; You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God” (NIV84).

Psalm 90:14– “Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (NIV84).

Psalm 92:2-4– “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre.  For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands” (NASB95).

Psalm 143:8-11– “Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.  Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.  Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me” (NASB95).

Isaiah 33:2– “O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for You.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress” (NIV84).

Lamentations 3:22-23– “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (NRSV89).

“It was very early in the morning on the first day of the week. The women took the spices they had prepared. Then they went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from it. When they entered the tomb, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They were wondering about this.  Suddenly two men in clothes as bright as lightning stood beside them…Then the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? Jesus is not here! He has risen…Then the women remembered Jesus’ words.  They came back from the tomb. They told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others” (Luke 24:1-9, NIRV98)!

Is Jesus, the embodiment of God’s love for us, the reason for our waking?  He ought to be.  We should be compelled to awaken in the mornings joyously singing His glory with every breath He lovingly gives us to do so!

Singing His Glory,

Victoria

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BRAIDS AND BRIDGES

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Connect Mission Trips– Nashville.  Who knew that when Mission Discovery introduced their Connect Mission Trips for 2013 that the Nashville trip which caught my eye would soon thereafter catch my heart and the hearts of those in my church as well!  God did.  Although it probably goes without saying at this point, we recently returned from spending a week in Nashville serving alongside Mission Discovery making new connections and strengthening existing ones!

So “braids and bridges”…what’s that all about?

For one thing, our trip involved a lot of braids as evidenced bellow!

BraidsMural

Half of our group– the half I was with– had the privilege to spend our days at a local community center’s children’s camp!  This is where most of the braiding occurred 😉  While my hair was not quite ideal for scalp braiding, “my” girls fearlessly took on the challenge and gave me my first ever scalp braids!  They did an amazing job!  (If you need further evidence than the above pictures, you could check out this video from 1:55-2:03 too!)

The other half of our group– the half my brothers were with– had the privilege of building a wheelchair ramp for a really sweet lady who has cerebral palsy!  Once they began the building project, it did not take long for them to start referring to the ramp as the “bridge”…  Just look at the pictures below and you’ll probably also agree that the “bridge” is indeed an appropriate term for their project!

BridgeMural

More than the actual projects, I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we greatly enjoyed and appreciated the people we had the opportunity to connect with– or rather were braided and bridged together with 😉

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Connections (kəˈnekSHəns)– a relationship in which a person…is linked…with some[one] else.1

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You see, “braids and bridges” not only signifies the tangible (and very tight if I may add) scalp braids and wood bridge structure but the deeper connections that were made on our trip.  Deeper connections with one another in our group, with other Mission Discovery (and MFUGE) leaders and team members, with the Civil Group youth, with the children and staff at the community center, with Mrs. W…and especially with Christ!

In a song I wrote, What Matters Most, are these lyrics: “Did I know You for who You are?  Did I draw near, not apart?  Did I believe from my heart and show the world who You are?”  Answering “yes” to these question is (or should be) the ultimate goal in our lives… Do we know, really know Christ because it’s not just knowing about Him that is important?  Are we desperate to be nearer and nearer to Him with each moment?  Do we then encourage others to do the same as we live and love like Christ because we truly believe from our hearts that He is who He is?

I believe that it is only in the pursuit and appreciation of a genuine relationship with Christ that we can learn how to pursue and appreciate quality relationships with others!  He shows us what relationships, or “connections”, are to look like.  He is trustworthy, honorable, encouraging, and forgiving, a friend who loves at all times, sticking closer than a brother, regarding the interests of others, laying His life down for His friends…and the list can go on and on!

Towards the end of our mission trip, we were presented with a great idea: to pick a couple of names of the friends we had connected with during the trip and remember to pray for them every day for the next year.

In John 17, Jesus’ prayer for His friends is recorded.  He prays, “…I ask on their behalf…Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.  While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me…now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:9-19, NASB95).

What a beautiful prayer! And what a beautiful example for us…for me to follow and accordingly live and love like Christ!

Today, I pray for you, my friends that the Holy Father would keep you in His name, the name of Jesus Christ.  I pray that you will have Christ’s joy made full in you, knowing His word and truth; that He would keep you from the evil one; and that you may be sanctified, being who God has called you to be and doing what God has called you to do!

Your Friend,

Victoria

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1. “Connection.” Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Available from http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/connection.

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Nashville Mission Trip 2013

Hello All,

I hope that you are doing well!  I just returned from a Mission Discovery CONNECT mission trip to Nashville along with my church’s youth!  Some of the things we did included building a wheelchair ramp for a cerebral palsy patient, working with the children at a local community center’s day camp, and volunteering at the Bridge Ministry!  It was great to serve Christ through serving others!  I’d like to share with you a short video that I put together of our mission trip experience: click here to go to the WeVideo location.  Enjoy!

In Christ,

Victoria

(P.S.: Stay tuned to the With True Hope blog, there are more posts about summer mission trip experiences coming!)

Am I Desperate for God – Part 2

Last week I told you about a journey I went on that started with asking the question “Am I Desperate for GOD”.   That question made me realize that honestly, this was a topic that I really did not know much about.  My journey led me down a path of understanding the  “What”, “Who”, “Why”, “When” and  “Where” of being Desperate for GOD.    In our prior study we looked at the first question:   What does it mean to be desperate for GOD?  In this study, we will look to answer the other four “W’s”.

The second question I asked was,  Who in scripture was desperate for God?   I believe that the Bible proves the Bible so there is no better place to seek answers than in scripture.  I believe that the Bible has many examples of people desperate for GOD and the move of HIS Spirit.

Luke 5:17-26 tells an account of a man that was paralyzed.   He got so desperate for JESUS that he convinced some friends to take him to see JESUS.   When they got to the place where JESUS was at, they couldn’t get in because there were so many people.  His desperation must have been infectious because his friends took him up on the roof of the house, ripped the roof off and lowered him into the middle of the room.

A few pages later in Luke 8:43-45 we are told of the account of a woman who had “an issue of blood”.   We know from Leviticus 15:18-20 that she was considered “unclean” and anyone that touched her was considered “unclean” as well.   Based on her condition, she probably kept her distance from people.  In fact she probably had low self esteem because she had been considered “unclean” for so long.  It is interesting that 2,000 years later we still know her as the woman with the issue of blood.  However, JESUS knew her as the woman who was so desperate for HIM that she didn’t care what people thought any longer as long as she could get close to HIM and but touch the hem of HIS garment.  She sacrificed her reputation, the scorn of the crowd, her own self worth and got desperate for HIS touch.

Near the end of the book of Luke, in chapter 19 verses 1-10 we are told about a man named Zacchaeus.   Zack was a chief among tax collectors which mean he was really hated by everyone.   The name Zacchaeus means “Pure” or “Righteous”, so I am thinking that his parents had a different career path planned for young Zack when he was born.   The bible also tells us that Zack was short…like REALLLLLYYY short…like “vertically challenged” in a big way!   Little Zack finally had power, but wealth and power weren’t enough, he had a need and he got desperate for JESUS.  The bible tells us that Zack climbed a sycamore tree just so he could have a box seat to see Jesus.   He got so desperate for Jesus that he didn’t care who saw him or thought badly about him.   Out of his desperation, Zack became a changed man!

Notice that in all of these accounts, they didn’t care about their reputation, they didn’t care about money, all they cared about was getting to HIM and being in HIS presence.   Their priorities shifted, they were no longer hiding, no longer focused on themselves or their wealth, but the were desperate for JESUS.

The next question is Why be Desperate for GOD?   Matthew 28:20, we are told “Lo I am with you always”, so then why should I be desperate for GOD?  I mean, HE is always with us…right?    I believe there are many reasons.   I once heard Tommy Tenney say that “the height of your revival will be determined by the depth of your hunger”.   That tells me that if we want revival, if we want change, we MUST be desperate for GOD.   I believe that we should be desperate for GOD because that is the example we have in scripture.   But the number one reason I believe we should be desperate for GOD is because of who HE IS and who we are not!   I believe that GOD is indescribable…He is awesome…He is amazing.   The most incredible description I have ever heard of GOD was from a message given by S.M. Lockridge, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego, California.   He gave a message entitled “My King” which reminds us exactly who GOD is!

My King” by S.M. Lockridge

“The Bible says my King is a seven-way King:  He’s the King of the Jews – that’s a racial King. He’s the King of Israel – that’s a national King.  He’s the King of Righteousness.  He’s the King of the Ages. He’s the King of Heaven.  He’s the King of Glory.  He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords.  That’s my King.

Well, I wonder do you know Him?

David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.”  My King is a sovereign King – no means of measure can define His limitless love.  No farseeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply.  No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings.  He’s enduringly strong.  He’s entirely sincere.  He’s eternally steadfast.  He’s immortally graceful.  He’s imperially powerful.  He’s impartially merciful.

Do you know Him?

He’s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world.  He’s God’s Son.  He’s the sinner’s Savior.  He’s the centerpiece of civilization.  He stands in the solitude of himself.  He’s august and He’s unique.  He’s unparalleled, He’s unprecedented.  He is the loftiest idea in literature.  He’s the highest personality in philosophy.  He is the supreme problem in higher criticism.  He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology.  He is the core and the necessity for spiritual religion.  He’s the miracle of the age, He’s… yes He is.  He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.  He’s the only one qualified to be an all-sufficient Savior.

I wonder if you know him today?

He supplies strength for the weak.   He’s available for the tempted and the tried.   He sympathizes and He saves.  He strengthens and sustains.  He guards and He guides.  He heals the sick.  He cleansed the lepers.  He forgives sinners.  He discharges debtors.  He delivers the captive.  He defends the feeble.  He blesses the young.  He serves the unfortunate.  He regards the aged.  He rewards the diligent.  And He beautifies the meek.

I wonder if you know Him? Well, my King— He is the key, He’s the key to knowledge.  He’s the wellspring of wisdom.  He’s the doorway of deliverance.  He’s the pathway of peace.  He’s the roadway of righteousness.  He’s the highway of holiness.  He’s the gateway of glory.

Do you know Him?

Well, His office is manifold.   His promise is sure.  His life is matchless.  His goodness is limitless.   His mercy is everlasting.  His love never changes.  His Word is enough.  His grace is sufficient.  His reign is righteous and His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

I wish I could describe Him to you.  But He’s indescribable – yes He is ! He’s God.  He’s, He’s indescribable, yes, He’s indescribable.  He’s incomprehensible.   He’s invincible.   He’s irresistible.

Well, you can’t get Him out of your mind,  You get Him off of your hand, You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him.

Well, the Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him.   Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him.  The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree.  Herod couldn’t kill Him.   Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. THAT’S MY KING !

Now doesn’t that make you desperate for GOD?

The last two “W’s” are “Where” and “When” as in Where and When can I be Desperate for GOD?   I believe the answer to this question is simple:  “HERE” and “NOW”!   One of the great things about being desperate for GOD is that you don’t have to wait for a specific time and place, you can be Desperate for GOD right where you are, right at this moment.   Tell HIM that you want more of HIS presence.   Tell HIM that nothing is more important to you than HIM.

I want to encourage you to examine your life and see if you are “Desperate for GOD”.    Ask yourself:

  • Am I satisfied with my spiritual life?
  • Am I complacent in my relationship with GOD?
  • Do I LOVE to spend time in GOD’s Word?
  • Am I reluctant to miss my quiet time with GOD each day?
  • Is my hunger and thirst for righteousness unconditional?
  • In what area of my life am I not desperate for God?

Don’t let today pass you by.   Let today be the day where you declare, “I AM DESPERATE FOR GOD”.   It is one decision that you will not regret.

God Bless!

–Stephen

 

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope. Thank you.