Unexpected intersections for prayer

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This morning while wrapping up our Tuesday  morning Bible study at @newlifekc, we had a visitor that was unexpected to us, but totally expected by God.

Since Leigh-Ann and I moved downtown, we have frequently visited the @myfamilydollar store on 31st and Troost. The employees have always been very kind and welcoming. As a result, several weeks ago, I was riding the elevator to New Life with another gal. She looked at me and said, “I know you.”

I knew I recognized her also, but couldn’t place her…then she proceeded to tell me that she used to work at the Family Dollar. I told her I was a pastor and invited her to attend a service. She said it had been quite a while since she had been to church.

I nearly forgot about her until I saw her walking down the hallway this morning. She had some New Life CityChurch  mail that had been delivered to the wrong box and was bringing it to us.

I asked her how she was doing and she immediately responded, “I’m really having a tough time.”

She went on to say that the fatal car accident on Saturday night that killed two adults and three children (http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article5052069.html) took her sister and nieces and nephew.

Just yesterday, Leigh-Ann and I were discussing how incredibly sad this must be for the family.

As I stood in the hallway, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling that God had been working ahead of everyone so that the cashier from Family Dollar would change jobs to work in the same building as our church so that in the moment of her deepest need, she would have access to hope and prayer through New Life CityChurch.

We talked for a few more minutes and then right in the hallway, I prayed with Victoria. Sometimes prayer is all you can do…the rest is up to God.

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New Life Sunday – Timeout…

This morning our 2 year old earned a time-out. The crime was that he and his 4 year old brother decided to wake up their oldest brother.

Christmas morning is the annual mulligan in our household for waking up siblings. Otherwise it is off limits.

When you have five kids, time in bed is invaluable. For kids, it seems there is a direct correlation between plenty of sleep and good behavior. The most important reason for this rule though is that dad and mom get to sleep when the kids are asleep.

SO, back to the timeout…

I put our 2 year old in a large chair for his five minute time-out. In hockey, five minutes is a major penalty, in our household, it’s a minor penalty.

After he sat down, he fully extended each of his hands to the chair arms, put a grumpy look on his face, looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’m bored.”

Uh huh…that’s kind of the point. I told him to think about his choice to wake up his brother.

As his father, it is predictable for me to analyze his behavior and call it selfish. Granted, it’s a good sign he wants to play with his brother, but he failed to realize that while attempting to improve his own life, he actually took advantage of the many others lives. Such as:

  • His brother, who needed more sleep
  • His sisters, who woke up after hearing the three of them up
  • His parents, who really needed the sleep 🙂
  • His grandparents…I could go on…

Unfortunately, self-centered behavior is not isolated to two year olds. More often than I want to admit, adults make self-centered decisions and live self-centered lives.

This Sunday, we are going to take another look at the selflessness of Jesus as well as His earthly mother. Mary, was chosen by God to deliver His Son Jesus and after receiving this news from the angel, she broke out in a song. Pastor Dave will share part two of his sermon on the Magnificat.

In the meantime, make sure you don’t wake up your family and do your best to live selflessly like your Savior.

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Hope at the gas pump…

This past Tuesday the temperature took a dive. Mid-day, I was out and about and needed to get some gas. So I zipped up my coat, put on my gloves and started pumping gas.

The pump was really slow. So slow that the driver of a Plumbing van pulled up after me, went inside to pre-pay and when he came out, my tank was still not even half full.

He started pumping his gas and then came around to me and said, “I thought it was just you, but these pumps are really slow.”

I said, “yeah and its really cold out here.”

He replied, “It’s not cold, you just have to know how to dress.”

I wasn’t going to tell him, but he was talking to a professional Minnesotan…no need to brag…and the truth is, Minnesota or not, I was freezing.

He went on to tell me how blessed he was to have a job, a vehicle, warm clothes and food for lunch. He made a point to tell me that his blessings were from God.

I took my cue, whipped out my wallet and handed him a business card while I told him I was a pastor.

I wish I could have captured this next moment on video….

He got a huge grin on his face, stepped around the gas pump right over to me and gave me a HUGE hug. When he let go, he was laughing and he said….“I can’t believe I was testifying to a pastor about how good God is…God is so good.”

I told him, “bro, that was awesome…and I don’t think our meeting was an accident.”

He said, “can I get an AMEN?”

After that, he hopped into his van and then he said, do you recognize me? Have you seen the movie, “We are Superman?” He took off his hat, pulled back his hood and said, “I’m Dwight…from the movie.”

With that he drove away, and I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to get a big hug on a cold day from a complete stranger who loves God.

I was given a physical reminder that there is hope for a weary world.

Perhaps the greatest reminder of hope for a weary world comes from the birth of Jesus. This Sunday at New Life CityChurch we are going find hope in the journey to Bethlehem from Luke 2:1-20.

But before the sermon, our New Life kids will perform, “Christmas around the world.”

Bundle up, and come early for some hot coffee. See you at 10:45am on Sunday.

Troy

A weary world rejoices…

A few days ago I came home at the end of a busy day, drove in the garage, shut the garage door, kicked off my shoes and walked upstairs.

And then it happened…

I was on the landing with about six steps to go until I reached the kitchen when I paused in order to take in the full experience.

I could smell dinner in the oven.

I heard three boys trying as hard as they could to contain their happy excitement.

I could see one daughter sitting at the kitchen table.

I could feel the warmth of the house on a cold day.

The only one of my five senses still to be blessed was my sense of touch…and within seconds I had one boy on each leg and another jumping up for my shoulders. Leigh-Ann was on her way over to give me a kiss and the girls followed with a hug.

Incredible…grateful…happy…affirmed…these are just a few words that come to mind when I reflect back on that moment.

Can you imagine if instead of pausing on the landing to count my blessings, I barreled up the stairs and yelled at the kids asking which one had left their bike out as a tripping hazard next to where I park my car?

The mood in the household would most certainly have shifted…

…peace would quickly turn to conflict.

…giggles would change to gasps.

…the warmth of the house would be ignored.

It is scary to think about how my evening would have spiraled if I had chosen to focus on the bike left a few inches out of its designated parking area and ignored the many amazing blessings right under my nose.

This Sunday, Pastor Dave will be sharing from Luke 1:26-33, 39-55 in our Advent series entitled, “Can a weary world rejoice?”In addition, we will focus on the Angels and Shepherds as we light our third Advent Candle.

We have so many reasons to rejoice…even if it feels like life is wearing us out. I hope you can join in the joy on Sunday…and make sure you keep an eye out for tripping hazards in the meantime.

Have a great evening!

Troy

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The MOMENT…

Subject: Didn’t find that but look what I found! BOOOM! We rocked this one!

This is the subject line for an email I just received a few minutes ago from Leigh-Ann who was looking for something different, but came across an email thread from a few years ago while we were in a heated battle regarding the future of our now adopted son Ian.

As foster parents the reunification process can be grueling, especially if you have already adopted a sibling and are bonded to the child in care.

The subject line above reminds me of a battle…or should I say war for the future of our son. In fact, just reflecting on the situation brings mixed emotions.

Our foster son at the time was suffering an injustice that put his health at risk.

And then the MOMENT happened.

Mama bear meets injustice…

Feathers flew…words were exchanged…emotions raised…battle began.

Over the next few day we wrote pages of documentation, sent of multiple emails and pursued understanding and conciliation.

The subject line above introduced the thread of emails that was a turning point in the case…but it was more than a case. It was the life of our son, Ian Robinson Campbell (I have attached a few pics).

Without that moment…we believe we would not have had the opportunity to adopt our son Ian.

There are few moments in our life that have carried such incredible significance…the future for a child.

One week prior to this MOMENT, Leigh-Ann and I really had no idea we were about to enter into the battle of our lives, but God knew and He had been preparing us for our entire lives.

And this was our MOMENT.

There is a bigger MOMENT that I plan to talk about this Sunday from Galatians 4:4-7. It is THE MOMENT that Jesus was born.

The Prophets had talked about this MOMENT for hundreds of years. The Hebrew education was pointed toward this MOMENT. Behind the scenes, God had been moving politically to allow for this MOMENT to occur under Roman occupation.

When it comes to our lives, there is an incalculable amount of movement that God invests into the MOMENT. Most of our lives are spent in movement towards the MOMENT.

But it is the MOMENT that gives us hope to keep moving.

Merry Christmas!
Troy

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