This week has been incredible, difficult and rewarding. There is no question that it has been the “way Life is meant to be”, although it has not been “Life the way I meant it to be.” To borrow a line from a non-theologian, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.” There have been some days that were very predictable and the schedule worked together nicely. Tasks were accomplished and life was manageable. There were other days that turned into the proverbial “spin cycle” and I still feel a little woozy as I write this e-mail.
Sooooo, I am pretty sure that no matter how your life has been this week, you can probably welcome a little encouragement. To begin, I thank you for your contributions to every blessing that will follow. This may sound obvious to some of you who are a part of the New Life experience on a regular basis. It may be a little surprising if you have been watching from a distance. I guess my point is that there are no distant bystanders, whether you have been intricately involved or slipped into the back of one service you can be encouraged knowing that you are a part of the tapestry that God is creating with the New Life family.
Highlights from the week of August 10 – 17:
- Saturday we had several join in the fun over at Chouteau. We also had a planning meeting for our event on Tuesday. After this meeting with the Tennant association one of the ladies had questions about how to join the church. After sharing the story of salvation, she accepted Christ into her life. As we were leaving she shared that she probably would be up half the night calling friends and relatives to let them know because they had been praying for a LONG TIME for her to come to Christ.
- Below are a few e-mail responses I received this week from the services on Sunday:
I was a visitor to your church on Sunday, and I just wanted to say, WOW, what an AWESOME church!
I loved the message, and the worship was inspirational, and truly Divine.
We had an awesome Sunday. I can’t thank God enough.
- Tuesday we had fourteen New Life families team up with fourteen Chouteau families to spend time together “back to school shopping.” We took the Wal-Mart experience to a whole new level. The response to this event has been overwhelming. All people that participated were extremely grateful. It was like one person said, “a once in a lifetime opportunity that we want to experience again.” Below is one e-mail description of what happened:
I just wanted to give a short praise report for the Choteau Courts Back pack Fill – Up! Glory to God, what a special time for our church to show love and give of our selves to the community. To help those who could not give back to us, but just blessed our socks off. The two boys we helped joined us and their mother on the trip to Wal-Mart. Their mother wanted to get some of the uniform pants and shirts, socks and underclothing. She had each boy go into the fitting room to be sure they got the right size. We already discussed that if it went over, we didn’t want them to have to put anything back, and we would make up the difference. Guess what, when they added everything up at the register it came to $140.49. $70.25 for each boy! We went to McDonalds and Gary treated us all to what ever the family wanted. We prayed for the family and asked God’s protection and blessing for them. The mother said that she wanted to come to our church on Sunday, and wanted to ride along with Lizzy! I gave her a New Life business card and she will give a call to the church.
- Wednesday, I received this e-mail… “Wow! We’ve had so much “New Life” there is no way to accurately describe it. I’ll just do bullets:
-We met a man who had been hurt badly and was waiting to heal up before leaving
-He invited us to a “smoking” fellowship (that’s a first)
-We asked if we could come even though we don’t smoke. He said sure.
-We began to develop a friendship with T. R. While he smoked cigars and drank Martinis, we had a coke.
-Sunday night we invited T.R. to sit by our fire.
-He had grown to trust us by now and opened up. WOW!
-Former Green Beret, linguistics expert, then financial shark from Tampa, FL.
-To be sure his wife had assets in case of his death, he purchased a ranch for 2.5 million in NY. He put it in his mother-in-laws name.
-When his wife was murdered by Bohemian carjackers in Miami, he flipped.
-He went to Greece to “party til his organs stopped.”
-Friends called him home to care for his wife’s 2 dogs and 3 cats.
-Knowing how she loved them, he could not disregard them.
-He blames himself for his wife’s death b/c he was not with her
-Meanwhile, his mother-in-law liquidated the house and the savings account which was in her name.
-To vent his frustration he became a cage fighter (home and abroad)
-After getting hurt in a cage fight, he decided to build an RV
-He was hurt in the repair shop (almost fatal) 2 weeks ago.
-He talked with us until 11 pm. He blames himself for his wife’s death. He says he has lost his faith and that god does not want him. He is “too bad” for God.
-I told him the story of Joseph. “Man meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”
-No major “break throughs” with him, but it looks like God is chasing him. We were so honored to be part of the chase.”
- Several of my past few days have been full of helping a new friend that is here with his pregnant wife from San Diego. To make a long story short they are in their early 20’s, have college education and grew up in middle class families. After some very unfortunate experiences, they had been living on the streets for one week before I met them. Over the past few days, God has worked in George’s heart and he has accepted Christ. Continue to pray for Jenny as she grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. Last night on the phone, after midnight, in between runs to the hospital for Jenny who was dehydrated from being out in the heat for so long, George told me through tears that we were the only hope he had. Considering all they have been through, we have done very little and to be honest it is both humiliating and exhilarating to recognize that God is allowing us to be a part of His work in their lives.
- Another New Life moment came when I received this e-mail yesterday from a lady who has accepted the call to live among and minister to the homeless in KC:
“Thank you for keeping in touch. I will visit the church soon. God has laid out a plan for me to follow. Most people will not agree, but he knows best. I am coming closer to him everyday. Some days are frustrating than others, but that’s life. Wish you and your family the best.”
In the midst of these events and MANY MORE that I do not have time to mention, God has been working on my heart from our sermon passage for this Sunday found in John 6:22-40. The people had been watching Jesus work from a distance. Their curiosity was growing and so they began a pursuit of a New Life. The context tells us that they walked several miles to the place where they experienced the “feeding of the 5,000.” Throughout the night, the disciples fought the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was there to guide them and calm the storm. The next day the crowd realized that Jesus was gone, so they made their way back to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. It is here that Jesus begins His, “Bread of Life Discourse.” We will take the next two weeks to unpack the treasure that is found in this monumental passage.
My fingers are tired and I am hungry so I am heading to that vicious microwave……!
I hope you have your best day yet!