Friday, June 24, 2016
On December 29, 2015, when the papers were signed at the title company, the first chapter of the story of the North Block was completed. It is a chapter of faith and sacrifice by the many who gave towards the down payment and other funds needed. It is one of trust given to leaders by people who embraced a vision for connecting with Salem in a new way, and of waiting on God for His timing to see the purchase completed.
As we move to the next chapter, God is continuing to work and show us how to implement the vision He has given us. Chapter 2 opens with meeting, through one of our church members, Craig and Carol Morgan who are wonderful Followers of Christ. They own Salem Paint and needed a new location for their store. We agreed to lease the building on the northwest corner of the block and they were able to move in on the Saturday of Easter weekend. They are excited about this new home for their business.
A few weeks later, we had a spring cleaning party at the church. More than 80 people brought rakes, shovels and wheel barrows to not only work around the church and the CLC but to help clean up the North Block. Over 5,200 pounds of grass, dirt, tree limbs and other debris was hauled off as the North Block sparkled with clean parking lots, mowed lawns and new bark chips in the flower beds. It was a powerful statement to the neighborhood about how we want to be good neighbors and the enthusiasm in which our congregation works together.
We are now working to implement the vision of Enterprise Ministries as we prepare First Lube Plus for its opening day. Many of you have told me that you are ready to be its first customer. Thank you. We are looking for the right person to be its manager and look forward to announcing opening day soon. In addition we are determining what we can do with other pieces of the property based on city codes and the cost of making the other buildings usable. Thank you for your patience as we work through these issues.
All of the above has been exciting and encouraging to see happen and be part of, but what has impacted me the most is the way in which God has already used the North Block to create new connections in the community. My work on the North Block has given me the opportunity to meet with elected officials, public agencies and private businesses and tell them our story and vision. It is met with excitement and encouragement and, most often, their question of “What can I do to help?”
Many of us have been praying that God would show us how to use the North Block to bless our city. As I see it, that prayer has been and is being answered. Please continue to pray that God will sharpen our focus on how to best implement His purpose for the North Block and He will be the author of many new chapters in this ongoing story.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Stepping into something new can be terrifying and exciting all at the same time: Having a child for the first time, looking at retiring, dropping a kid off at college, saying “yes” to something when you have no idea what that “yes” really means.
Each week many new faces walk into our church. Some come just to check us out because they were passing by. Some come because they have been invited by many of you. Some are not even sure why they came. A few weeks ago one of those new faces decided to walk up to our information center and ask to get connected with someone. She had lots of questions and Jeff Poush handled each of them like a pro. He got her contact info, talked with her a little bit, and then told her he would find someone to meet with her.
I happened to be walking in the church office on Monday and Jeff stopped me. He asked if I would be willing to meet with a young girl that had introduced herself as someone new to the church. Without hesitation I said, "Yes." Jeff gave me her info, and I walked away. As I left I was thinking to myself, what have I done? All those fears of possibly not being able to answer this girl's questions came flooding into my head. But I decided to contact this girl anyway and set up a time to get together. I was excited. I was nervous. I was scared. Yet I knew that I could lay every feeling I had down at Jesus feet in prayer and confidently go and meet with this young lady. So I did.
You know what I found out. I found out that loving others and sharing what God has done in my life was not as hard as I thought. I found out that when this young girl asked a tough question, and I admitted to her that “I don’t know”, walls were broken down and the two of us got to go look for the answer together, digging into the Word of God. I found out that as our friendship was building God was working in not only this young girl's life but He was showing me how He was using me for His glory in this situation. And lastly, I found out that getting out of my comfort zone can be terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
Take that leap God is asking you to do. Ask that neighbor to come with you on Sunday. Say “Yes” to meeting with a new person in our church when asked. Look around and love those God is asking you to love. Purposefully pray daily for those God has laid on your heart. Join me in saying “Yes” and letting God use you for His glory right here in our church and in our city.
TOWN HALL--Celebrating the Work of God
Last Sunday night we gathered for our annual Town Hall. It was a celebration of the work of God and sharing the vision of God for our future. We invite you to go to our website to read through the presentation and to watch video's of God's transformation in the lives of our church.
Friday, June 10, 2016
God is at work. His Spirit is on earth giving us a special message and assignment from the Father (John 16). God is at work building His Kingdom. I’ve tried to personalize this truth in my own life. Can I actually join God’s Spirit in His work of bringing His Kingdom to Earth? In John 4:34 Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” and John 17:18, “As the Father has sent me into the world, so I send you, my disciples, into the world.” I am to imitate Christ, for God will give me daily work to do, as regularly as I eat food.
In my own journey of faith, I’ve experienced “getting” a specific job to do that I attribute to the Spirit’s message from the Father. I believe that these messages are from God because 1) they have outcomes which build God’s kingdom; 2) they have come as a direct result of Spiritual disciplines practiced: prayer, reading the Bible, and listening to the preaching of the Word of God; and 3) they are connected to a need which has arisen in a sphere of influence in my life. A simple recent example was connected to the prayer, “God, build your kingdom in my neighborhood.” On Saturday, after a long work day in Portland, I pulled up to my house and noticed a moving van 2 driveways down: new neighbors. As much as I wanted to go crash on the couch, the Spirit said, “Go help them move.” This was no garden of Gethsemane moment, but I still had trouble saying, “Your will be done.” I did obey. I don’t know how God is going to use it in His plan, but at the very least, God’s love has spilled out of this Christian and blessed someone who had a small need.
When God has given me tasks, they always require a step of faith. Reaching out is scary. Faith is running down a path towards “His Kingdom Come” risking loss. My part is to run down that path trusting God that the outcome is in His hand. Isn’t that why Christ said: “Your will be done”?
God is at work. Where? Wherever I am right now. God is working in my life, in my family, in my neighborhood, in my job, and in my church. He is at work where I am because His Spirit is there indwelling me! Yet He has condescended His plan to depend in part on you and me. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples.” I remind myself, “Don’t waste the Spirit of God in my life because I am so concerned with my agenda, my comfort, my entertainment, and my peace.” God is at work. He has specific jobs for you to advance His Kingdom. Ask Him what He wants you to do, and then join Him.