Monday, February 19, 2007

Musing from the lake

I went to the lake at Healing Place this morning to enjoy the sunlight. I sometimes go there to watch the fountain, read, pray, think, etc. I had just pulled in to park when movement caught my eye from the field. The big, yellow machines were moving!

One machine was drilling, another was moving dirt and still another was placing steel rods in the ground. I thought of Chapter Two and realized that it was coming to pass right in front of me. I was listening to K-Love on the radio and "Our God is an Awesome God" was playing. How very appropriate, as who would think that a Baton Rouge church could undertake this venture only 18-months after Katrina had devastated our landscape. Yep...God is awesome. I drove up the lot to get a closer look.

I have always loved big machines. I know that doesn't sound very feminine, but I like them any way. I think it's because of their strength; their ability to affect change; to build and create something new; their power to move mountains. And, I like yellow (most really cool machines are yellow).

It occurred to me that men of God have these same qualities. The leaders in our church want to affect change in our community, in our world and in our lives. They want to build a church that is passionate about souls. They want to protect the weak. They want to move the mountains of apathy, poverty, racism and addiction. Like Jesus, they want to move heaven and earth to save God's people.

Not every church is like HPC. Not every pastor is willing to rise to the challenge of discipling and disciplining their flock. I am very grateful for the heart of Pastor Dino and Pastor DeLynn. I am grateful that he is willing to teach men to be men, and she is willing to teach women to be women. I believe all of us benefit from finding our true place. Thank you HPC. All glory to God!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine's Outreach

Wednesday afternoon we were busy getting ready for our Midnight Outreach. Usually that happens on Friday nights, but we wanted to do something special for the ladies on Valentine's Day. We boxed up the chocolate and prepped the roses. An interesting sidenote: we discovered that long-stemmed roses average 12 thorns per stem. (We don't want the ladies getting 'stuck' so we always de-thorn before handing them out.) So, twenty pounds of chocolate and 2400 thorns later, our fearless volunteers were ready to hit the streets. (I wasn't feeling well so I had to stay home...I was so bummed!)

God's favor was definitely upon our team. Not only did they do the normal clubs, but we got in to some new ones as well. How cool is that?

In just a few hours HPC handed out 200 red roses. For many of these women, it was the highlight of their day. A rose won't stop a woman from taking her clothes off for money; it won't cure a drug addiction and it can't change her past. But what it does, at least for a moment, is to remind her that Somebody thinks more of her than she thinks of herself. It reminds her that she is loved and she is important. Isn't that what Valentine's Day is really about?

I love it that my church isn't afraid to go to the dark places; to take the doors of the church into the street. I always say, "If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space". All glory to God!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Super Size Serve

This weekend we had over 50 volunteers come out for Serve Saturday. There were families, couples, life groups and individuals; all whose only desire was to show the love of Christ to people in our community. I love HPCers.

We had planned to do a couple of different things: JP’s crew was going to do a free carwash at Albertson’s and Alliece’s team was going to hand out flyers downtown about our upcoming WOW Jam. With the temperature hovering around 38 degrees it was decided that everyone would head down to the Dream Center to blitz the community with flyers. Splitting up into four teams we headed into the north Baton Rouge area, hoping to bring a little light into an oftentimes dark place.

We had some local volunteers join us again. One of our volunteers picked them up and brought them over to meet up with us at Odell. Shaquille, DJ and and Tar were back, and they brought Melvin along to help out. All these boys are 8 or 9 years old and live in the 35th Street area. Their lives do not usually include Christian adults who choose to be around them. It was interesting (and heart-breaking) to watch.

After covering several blocks and talking to dozens of people we loaded up to go back to the Dream Center. Three of the boys were riding with us in the back of the pick-up truck. I was curious to know what they knew about Jesus, so I asked them. One of them knew that He was the Son of God and died on a cross; the other two just shrugged. Natalie had one of them sitting on her lap, so she started explaining that not only was He the Son of God, but that the reason He died on the cross was for our sins. The boy shook his head and said, “No, that was Martin Luther King.” He wasn’t being smart; that’s just what he believed. This was the same child who had claimed to know Jesus. Like I said, heartbreaking to watch.

I am always amazed at God’s mercy and wisdom. In His wisdom He directed Healing Place Church to plant an outreach center four blocks away from these kids. It will be through demonstrating God’s mercy that they will be drawn to us so we can direct them to Him. It is such a privilege to be able to serve Him: to bring His love to a community that so desperately needs His saving grace, to bring hope to the hopeless, and to introduce these kids to their true Savior. Thank You Father for allowing us to be a part of this. All glory to God!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I love my church!

Healing Place Church rocks. I went to service Sunday and heard Pastor Dino talk about finances. It wasn't the 'I'm afraid they'll leave so I'll sugarcoat it' sermon; he threw down. He had a mini fridge on the stage and he was talking about giving God our best, not what's left. He was teaching from Malachi while he was taking leftover mac-n-cheese out of the fridge. He pulled out some old pizza, some take-out from a couple days ago, stuff from his own fridge at home. Then he related it all to giving: are we giving God our first fruits or our leftovers? It was powerful.

The next night I went to Chick Night (women's ministry) and Pastor DeLynn talked about staying at our post. She talked about the different roles we're assigned to (Godly woman, wife, mother, friend) and how important it is not to leave your post. While discussing the 'Godly woman' post she asked how many people in the audience were wearing tank tops under their shirts. About 75% of the women raised their hands. We collectively agreed that most of the tanks were there for the sake of modesty, not fashion. She emphasized how important clothing is in the statement that we make about our values. She encouraged everyone to dress like a Godly woman. It was great.

I love that my Lead Pastors are not afraid to tackle tough issues. Pastor Dino is all up in our wallets and Pastor DeLynn is messing in our wardrobes. And I believe, that's exactly how God wants it. All glory to Him!

Monday, February 05, 2007

For the sake of one

On Saturday we were downtown handing out WOW Jam fliers around the Baton Rouge Dream Center. For those who don’t know, on March 2nd HPC is partnering with WOW International (Winning Our World) to host a giant block party at Gus Young Park. We’re hoping to have a couple thousand people come out and enjoy the entertainment, hot food and tons of other free stuff we have planned. And, in order to get two thousand people to show up, we have to go and invite then. Hence, the fliers.

So, I’m walking down 36th Street with a team of volunteers and these two boys come and join our little group. We start talking and I find out they’re their names are DJ and Shakeem, they’re both nine years old and they live in the neighborhood. They start helping us deliver the fliers, telling us which houses are vacant and where the big dogs live. As we were walking down the street I asked Shakeem what he was going to do when he grew up. Without thinking he said, “Nothing”. He wasn’t being disrespectful; he was being honest. He didn’t expect to grow up. I thought for a moment about what his life must be like, living in the midst of daily violence, addiction and poverty. For him, growing up wasn’t an option; he expected to die in the streets, as so many of the young men around him already had. My heart broke.

“Hey Shakeem,” I said, “look at me for a minute.” He turned around and I looked into his big brown eyes. “You look like a teacher.” I said. “Yeah, that’s what I think it is. You probably need to get good grades in school because I think you’re going to end up teaching.” He furrowed his brow and said, “Really?” I nodded. We didn’t talk any more about school or his future plans, but I think a seed was planted.

I started thinking about WOW Jam and how it relates to someone like Shakeem. This event is going to cost several thousands dollars, require a ton of planning and we need about 500 volunteers just to pull it off. I was thinking about Jesus and how He went to the cross, with no guarantee, just so I would have the option to choose Him. I believe, with everything in me, that Jesus would have died for one.

Maybe Shakeem is our one. Maybe everything we do in north Baton Rouge is for one young boy who doesn’t believe he has a future. Maybe our entire job down there is to bring him hope. If it is just for one, it’s worth it. All glory to God!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Volunteers by the busload

The Baton Rouge Dream Center was the place to be this afternoon. With the help of 120 kids from Parkview Baptist we handed out hundreds of WOW Jam flyers and prepped a bunch of stuff at the warehouse. The enthusiasm these kids had was contagious.

The really cool thing about it was, some of them got to see life from a whole new angle. Many of these kids come from families that have never faced poverty or addiction, so for the first time in their lives they witnessed how other people live. They walked through the neighborhood and saw the homeless, the helpless and the needy; and they got to do something about it. They were able to bag groceries that will be given out to hungry people; they packed books and toys that will end up in the hands of hurting kids. For two hours they were part of the solution...and they loved it.

I think the highlight of my day was looking at the BRDC parking lot and seeing 130 people bow their heads to pray. It won't be soup or crackerjacks that change North Baton Rouge; it will be prayer... it will be a generation of people willing to reach beyond themselves and into the lives of others. And it will happen one day, one student, one soul at a time. I can't wait. I love HPC. All glory to God!