Living joyfully…

This past week I was able to meet a person who exudes joy. She is one of the few people that when you get close to her you can actually feel it.

Her name is Pearl. She lives on the south side of Chicago in a neighborhood where violence, pain and hopelessness are the typical stories on the 10:00pm news.

Pearl ran away from home and by age 16 was pregnant. For the next 17 years her life was entangled by drugs and prostitution. When she was in her early 30s, she met some faithful followers of Jesus who shared hope, forgiveness and a peace that is nearly impossible to comprehend. Those Christ followers continue to speak in to her life today, nearly thirty years later.

Shortly after beginning her relationship with Jesus, Pearl began inviting her children’s friends into her home and hosting Bible studies. Soon Pearl caught a vision to serve her neighborhood by offering free day-care so mothers can finish school, get a job, or both.

Now, 23 years into ministry, Pearl’s main stipulation to receive the free childcare is that moms attend the weekly Bible study she leads.

Since Roseland Community Good News Daycare began, 41 mothers have graduated from high school, 23 have gone on to college and hundreds of women have been involved.

While visiting with her on Tuesday, she asked for prayer over one of her mothers. She went on to share God’s amazing financial provision as we toured a brand new, absolutely amazing facility. It was the end of another twelve plus hour day, she had papers on her desk and people to contact, but in spite of her exhaustion she was living joyfully.

Her joy was indisputable, but it is not exclusive to her. Pearl would be the first to share how to experience true joy.

This Sunday our service will be a page out of Pearls playbook…we are going to study from Romans 5:2b-4. In these verses Paul writes that since we have been made “right with God” we can rejoice in God’s glory and our sufferings.

Sound interesting? Come out for a visit at 10:45am to 1717 McGee, KCMO 64108 or check it out online at: newlifecity.church

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Lost contact…

A few days ago I lost the contact lens for my right eye…and I had just opened a new case. This presents a problem for someone like me who tries to get as much life as possible out of each contact.

So I started looking closely in the sink and on the counter. As time went on, I looked closer and closer. I began expanding my search to my shirt, my shirt sleeve, my eye (you never know), the floor, the faucet, the sink again and the counter again and again.

I discovered something very significant while searching for my contact…the closer I looked at the sink, counter, faucet, floor and even my face, the more imperfections I found.

I was pretty much amazed at how many problems I discovered when I began to look critically at the surfaces.

This was certainly not my intention in the beginning, but pretty soon, I stopped worrying about my contact lens and started getting frustrated with the imperfections around me.

This can happen in many areas of life…

It goes like this…we begin to experience problems in our life…maybe a bad day or a simple failure. We sincerely start looking at ourselves critically pursuing  a solution. Then while looking closely at ourselves we begin to look just as closely at others around us…what began as a critical search for our own problems now has turned into a critical discovery of many problems around us.

We quickly become judgmental and even cynical of others around us while at the same time forgetting that our initial search was for flaws in our own life.

If you can relate to this, the solution is not to try to fix everyone else, but recognize that through Jesus we have been ushered into an environment of grace.

There is grace for ourselves and certainly for everyone around us!

This Sunday, I am very excited to share a sermon from Romans 5:2 on experiencing grace. I am confident that you will be challenged to re-think your perspective of yourself and others while at the same time experiencing a greater appreciation for God’s grace.
Contact on finger

Peace with God…and glue…

Yesterday I took a break from studying for my Sunday sermon and attempted to insulate  my office where I have had a sound issue. Two main concerns:

  1. Sound traveled between the office space next to me like there were no walls.
  2. Sound traveled between my office and the restroom like there were no walls…hence the high priority.

The only solution to this sound problem was to cut insulation to fit in between the ceiling joists where it was open space (see attached photo).

So, I cut the insulation, painted it brown and tapped it into place. Then I filled in the remaining gaps with spray insulation. Which was a great idea until I realized that it was dripping/dropping through the gap on to my office wall, frames, desk and carpet.

Fortunately, some of the insulation landed right in my trash can…unfortunately much of it landed elsewhere.

I scurried up the ladder, wiped it up and off with my hands and then tried to wipe off my hands…

…Not so much…

That spray insulation not only adhered to my hands it also began to attract the dirt and particles on anything I touched. Within minutes my hands were filthy and sticky.

I tried to wash them with soap and water and the insulation laughed at me….:).

Last night after I got home I tried acetone, coconut oil, grease cutting soap, hot water…I tried my best to peel it off little by little and still no luck.

I have attached a pic of my hands  from this morning. Throughout the day today it has come off a little at a time…but my hands still look incredibly dirty.

Spray insulation – 1

Troy’s hands – 0

Looking at my hands today has been a reminder of how sin quickly and soundly adheres to my heart. Apart from something (or Someone)  supernatural, there is really no hope of getting a clean heart on my own.

The holy (pure, perfectly clean) nature of God is stirred up with wrath towards filthy sin and as a result my heart and God’s holiness are at odds.

This Sunday, I will share a sermon from Romans 5:1 about how to find peace with God. Then when there is peace with God, how we can experience peace from God. Then when we experience peace from God we can be confident that  our relationships will be transformed.

Now, I just need to make peace with my hands….

Have a great weekend!

Troy

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Preparation for Easter

As we prepare our hearts for this most incredible weekend for the Christian faith, I can think of no better commentary to prepare us for an incredible Easter service at New Life CityChurch than something Leigh-Ann wrote yesterday.

In John 13 and 14, we read about Jesus and the disciples enjoying the Passover feast and what would become Jesus’ “Last Supper” with his friends. Jesus did some pretty crazy things, including washing their feet, pointing out which friend wasn’t a true friend at all, and telling one of them, while this friend claimed to be his ultimate BFF, that later that night, self-claimed-BFF would deny Jesus as well!

Jesus’ friends are confused, frustrated and hurt. They don’t understand what is happening- at all. They want to be close to Him. They want to understand. They want to remain faithful to Him. So one bravely demands “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied!” Jesus looks at the brave one and says “Seriously? I’ve been with you this whole time and you didn’t see God the Father?!”

How did they miss seeing God?

Now before I adjust my saddle, I need to climb down off my high horse here. I am a disciple of Christ, and how often do I miss seeing God in my life? How often do I see only what my eyes want to see and not what He wants me to see? How often do I doubt Him, His leading, His love, His promises? How often do I look at His plan and say “God, can you just show up here?”

Jesus goes on and gives them guidance, that most likely will be internalized long after He’s gone- “If you love me, obey my commandments, and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, Who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Another one of Jesus’ disciples at this point asks Jesus “Why are you only telling us this? Why just this room? Why not tell the world?” So Jesus gives them more hope (notice He’s giving HOPE while facing an overwhelming devastation to His very life) and tells them “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

That must have been a relief! Have you ever heard news or instructions that you had to remember, but you weren’t quite prepared for them so you didn’t write them all down? I know that especially when something traumatic is happening, as was here (they were losing a loved one), my brain just can’t focus. All details I want to remember blurs under stress. I can imagine the relief, when Jesus lets them know that an Advocate will be with them to remind them of everything Jesus has said to them.

“My representative will remind you of everything I have told you.” Phew! Relief!

Jesus goes on and explains why He told them all these things before any of it happened: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.”

So that you will believe.

So that YOU will believe.

So that you will BELIEVE.

Jesus left them with the best gift- peace of mind and heart like nothing they’d ever experienced! If they just remembered what He said and BELIEVED what Jesus said.

Jesus closes the conversation: “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.”

Notice that one part: “He has NO power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me.” Why? “So that the world will know that I love the Father.”

Beautiful one, that is our calling as well. We don’t obey out of duty but out of LOVE for our Father. We don’t obey, because it’s easy but out of LOVE for our Father.

Rest in that peace that passes all understanding during Good Friday and Passover.

Jesus did!
Passover