Saturday, August 20, 2016

Making a child's day

The first three Saturdays of each month our awesome volunteers serve so beautifully as the homeless and needy come to our ministry center for help with food, hygiene items and clothes. The homeless also come to take showers and to have their laundry washed.

We also see children. They are all precious, and most are from single mother homes. There are two children we see each month who are always smiling, and they love Rick and Martha Denney. Rick and Martha are faithful volunteers and leaders at LIA. They always take up time with the children.

Rick found out this one young boy likes basketball. However, the child didn't have a basketball. Rick told the child that he would get him a basketball. Rick delivered on his promise today. The smile on the child’s face was priceless.

Click here for a link to the video showing Rick surprising the child with the basketball.
Thank you, Bro. Rick, for showing this precious child the love of Jesus.

This video epitomizes how all of our volunteers serve at LIA. Lives are being changed for the glory of God, because of people giving of their time to show the love of Jesus to the "least of these."

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gold Medal Faith

While watching the Olympics, I can’t help but think about the Apostle Paul. It’s obvious in his writings he was a big sports fan. He uses a number of sports metaphors in while writing God’s inspired Word. As a big sports fan that excites me even more, because that means God is a sports fan, too. :-)

Paul writes about running a race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He even mixes in a boxing analogy. In these verses, he describes what it takes to grow in our faith in Jesus Christ. As we see, it’s not a process for lazy people. It takes hard work, commitment, and dedication, just like Olympic athletes.

Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Like Olympians, we have to train. It's good to do physical training, but I'm referring to spiritual training - reading the Bible, praying, worshipping, telling others about Jesus, etc. This involves self-control, running with a purpose, and discipline. The big difference is Olympians compete for a perishable award. Winning Gold, Silver or Bronze medals is an awesome accomplishment. Those athletes work hard and deserve it. I think being good enough to just compete in the Olympics Is an incredible accomplishment, even if you finish last in your event.

Our race is for an imperishable award. It’s for eternity. Are we going to live for Jesus and inherit eternal life with Him, or choose not to and spend eternity in Hell, which is eternal separation from God? Like the Olympians, it’s our choice if we are going to be dedicated and committed to win our race or kick back and watch others do it?

This is too important of a race. We can’t be lazy. We must strive each and every day to live for Jesus and tell others about Him. It’s going to take endurance, as Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It is more than worth it to dedicate and commit our lives, all of our lives, to Jesus. He thought we were all worth it. So much so, He willingly died a brutal death for us. He took our penalty for our sins. Then he came back to life to give us the ultimate victory. Now it’s up to us if we will receive it.

If you haven’t, I implore you to receive Jesus today. Call out to Him. Ask Him to forgive you. Repent, which means turn from sinful ways and turn to Jesus. Ask Him to help you to overcome. I know that’s the greatest decision I’ve ever made. I’m far from perfect, but I’m striving every day to be more like Jesus.

Come on. Let’s do this. Let’s run this race and claim the ultimate Gold Medal.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Great Team LIA meeting today

Martha and I want to thank everyone for coming to this morning's LIA volunteers meeting. We had a great crowd with 22 people there.

For those who were unable to attend, here are the highlights:
- We are moving forward with renovation projects. We are turning Suite 4 into a warehouse for storage. The front of Suite 4 will be an extension of our clothing section, to include clothes for children.
- We must repair the roof on our two-story building before renovating Suites 5 & 7. We are looking at turning Suite 5 into office and meeting spaces for other ministries. Our plan for Suite 7 is turn it into an educational suite to provide job training and educational opportunities for the people we serve, as well as discipleship training classes.
- We must replace HVAC units on top of both buildings - one each for suites 2, 3, 5 & 7, and we need one for suite 4.
- We need to make roof repairs on our one-story building.
- We are going to reopen the coffee shop where Dakota was located. LIA owns that building. We are at the planning stage for it. It will be a place for people to connect ... connect with God, with each other, with LIA and with LIA's missionaries and indigenous pastors and schools around the world. We will train the homeless and the needy in the hospitality industry. It will be a job to help them improve their lives, but it will also be a place for them to learn and grow to move on to bigger and better jobs in the hospitality industry.
- Team LIA spent the rest of the morning cleaning the coffee shop. It was the first cleaning. That shop hasn't been used in a couple of years.
- Help us expand by continuing to serve, by sharing from information on our Facebook page, Twitter feed and other social media on your social media pages, feeds, statuses, etc. The more we share, the more people learn what God is doing through LIA.
- If you know people in businesses such as HVAC, plumbing, electric, roofing, etc., please tell them about our needs and connect us.
- Please give and ask people to give toward our building fund, so we can accomplish everything.
- If you do not receive our electronic newsletter called "LIA Update," please send me your email address. Please share the newsletters with others through Facebook, email, etc.
- We will hold a big yard sale Sept. 23-24 at LIA to raise money for our building fund. We are asking for good items for the yard sale. We will also sell Boston butts that day. We will pre-sell them.
Martha and I thank all of you for serving at LIA. Hundreds of lives are being touched by the love of Jesus, because of each of you. People are being saved, encouraged, and they are having their physical needs met. Each of you are also growing in the Lord. We are growing together. Thank you.
May God continue to bless all of you and your families.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Time to Expand at LIA

When we moved into our current location on West Main Street in downtown Dothan we said we would be able to expand certain ministries, and start new ones, as we were able to renovate the building. And, glory to God, we have done that with our buildings, which are made up of seven suites.

When we renovated suite 3, it became the Samaritan Clinic at LIA. The volunteer medical staff has a real medical clinic to work out of. We have numerous medical exam rooms, a dental exam room with equipment, and a pharmacy.

Once extensive renovations were completed in suite 6, it became our main ministry area with  a shower and laundry services for the homeless, clothing rooms for men and women, food pantry, hygiene pantry, and a warming kitchen.The number of people we are blessed to help in that suite numbers in the hundreds. The front room is also used for our Wednesday night Bible studies.

We have started a new outreach to low-rent hotels, which has turned out to be an excellent outreach. There are a lot of hurting people out there who need the encouragement of knowing someone cares about them.

Now we are ready to expand again at our current facility, but we need your help. We are going to turn suite 4 into a warehouse. We have been in desperate need for storage for clothes, furniture and appliances to help people in need. We will also expand our clothing options to include a children's section.

The two upstairs suites will be turned into more of a classroom setting for teaching and distance learning opportunities, as well as offices for other ministries.

However, before we begin on that expansion, and to protect our one-story building, we need to have extensive roof work done and HVAC units replaced. This is not cheap, so we have started a building fund.

To replace five HVAC units, which will include the use of a crane, it will cost $24,000. Re-roofing the single story building will cost $48,365, and the roof on the two-story building will cost $20,380. The total for the roofs and HVAC units comes to $92,745.

That amount is large, but it's not too big for our God. We pray He touches hearts who can help us financially and/or through donations of supplies and labor.

Please pray how you can help us. To donate financially for our building fund, please mail your tax-deductible donation to: Love In Action International Ministries, P.O. Box 85, Dothan, AL 36302 and write "Building Fund" on the memo of your check Or, you can donate online by clicking here and then click on the "Make A Donation" button. Please make note that it is for our "Building Fund."

Thank you and God bless you. Please keep us in your prayers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

There is still Good News in this world

Team LIA volunteer Gia Hughes gives a child
a big hug during a recent outreach to local low-rent
hotels in Dothan, Ala.
Every day the headlines and news channels are filled with news about violence, hatred, and corruption. A person can easily become depressed and discouraged keeping up with the news. It can leave one wondering, is there any good news anywhere in the world?

The answer is yes. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still the Good News, and it's still being spread throughout communities in the U.S. and the world through Love In Action.

Those who serve with LIA do so beautifully. In a world that's seemingly growing more and more violent and filled with hate, Team LIA allows the love of Jesus to flow through them. Does it make a difference? You betcha.

I have seen some of the hardest, meanest people come to Jesus because of showing His love to them. We've been cussed and talked down about, but instead of hating and rejecting them, we decided to keep loving them. Sometimes it's not easy, but it's a choice. Our choice. Do we reject people or do we reject the real enemy, which is Satan.

God tells us in Ephesians 6:12, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

In other words, it's not the person we are at odds with. It's Satan. If we all remember that, it's easier to show love to people, even those who hate us. That's the way Jesus tells us to act. (Matthew 5:43-45)

LIA has been a ministry for more than 16 years, and I can look back to the first days and see where showing people God's love has made a difference in their lives.

Martha and I were in Barnes & Noble in Dothan, Ala., one night and this young black man yelled my name and ran toward me. I couldn't tell who he was, but there was joy in his voice. He ran up and gave me a huge hug, and then hugged Martha. Then I recognized him. When we first met him, he lived in a rough and impoverished neighborhood in Enterprise, Ala.

We did an Adopt-A-Block outreach in his neighborhood every Saturday, and LIA volunteer Justin Swasey and I would pick him up as well as many other children and adults in an old church van every Sunday.

He told Martha and me that night how much what we did meant to him back then and helped shape his life. He had since graduated high school and was joining the military. The love of Jesus changed his life and given him hope for a better tomorrow despite his surroundings as a child.

The photo above with this blog entry shows one of our wonderful Team LIA members, Gia Hughes, hugging a child during a recent LIA outreach to local low-rent hotels. This photo reflects the epitome of God's love and the ministry of LIA ... always showing forth the love of Jesus. Just look at the photo. Can't you see and feel the love of Jesus emanating through Gia as she embraces this child?

In today's world where racial tensions are ever increasing, this is the kind of news we need to see and read. Color doesn't matter in the family of God for He has created us all equal and loves us all the same, no matter our skin color, economic bracket or what neighborhood or country we live in. We are all His children, therefore, we must all love one another just as our Heavenly Father loves us.

We thank and praise God for all of our awesome volunteers like Gia. We thank everyone for serving so beautifully, allowing the love of Jesus to flow through them into the lives of others in this hurting world. All glory and honor to Jesus.

We encourage Team LIA to continue serving Jesus like this. We encourage those who serve through their churches and other organizations to keep serving. We encourage Christians who are not serving to begin. We encourage all Christians to make serving a lifestyle, not just an event or planned outreach with a group. There's nothing like it.

This world needs the love of Jesus more than ever, and if we don't show them, nobody will.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Let us not waste our freedoms

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. I was originally going to just write a short post on Facebook, but this day deserves much more as I thought more about my post. What awesome opportunities we have as Americans, and what an incredible privilege it is to be an American. Do we actually realize that? I think we usually take it for granted, but let's think about it today.

I thank God for our country and for allowing me to have been born an American. He could have placed me anywhere in the world, but chose to let me be born in the USA. I pray I never take that for granted, and will always use it for His glory.

As Americans, we have riches and freedoms the vast majority of the world can only dream about. We must not waste it. As Christians in America we have been given much, therefore much is required. (Luke 12:48). We need to help those in need, and that includes our fellow Americans and those who are hurting, hungry, sick and lost around the world. God has blessed us with innumerable ways to spread His Gospel throughout the world. Let's don't just look inward, but look outward as well.

That's what Jesus tells us to do in His Great Commission. He says in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." As Americans we have the means to do this more than any other nation in history. We need not waste this opportunity. As American Christians, it's our responsibility.

As we celebrate this day of independence and freedom, let's be sure to thank God for allowing us to be Americans and for every freedom we enjoy. Let's renew our commitment to living for Him and using these freedoms to bring glory to Him. Let's renew our commitment to helping our fellow Americans who are in need. Let's renew our commitment to carrying out the Great Commission here in the US and around the world.

Let's remember those who serve in our Armed Forces who protect our precious freedoms. Let's remember those who served over the course of American history and who gave their lives to give us and protect our freedoms. We must never take for granted those who put their lives on the line for our sakes and the sake of this great nation.

On this Fourth of July, let's be thankful Americans. It truly is a remarkable day. Our founding fathers knew it. I like what John Adams wrote to his wife about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He was two days off on his prediction, but his letter reveals the significance and the foresight of those who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams wrote:"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

Those are very profound words. Let's don't take this day for granted. Freedom is a precious thing. Let us not waste it.

Jesus gave us the ultimate freedom of forgiveness from all of our sins and the promise of everlasting life. Let's not take His freedom for granted. Let's thank Him every day and not waste it.

Happy Fourth of July. May God truly bless America again.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My friend Ms. Emily

I remember when Emily Hinderliter approached Martha and me to talk about volunteering with Love In Action. Emily and her husband, Ricky, shared a story with us. Well, Ricky didn't really have a chance to talk much, which we soon discovered was the norm. With Emily, nobody had much of a chance to get a word in.

Emily shared about seeing a homeless man with no shoes at a gas station on a recent trip her and Ricky had taken. She said they didn't know what to do. The image of the "man with no shoes" stayed in her mind. It bothered her that she didn't do anything. She said they could have bought him some shoes or they could have given him a pair of Ricky's shoes. She didn't ever want to miss another opportunity, so she wanted to volunteer with Love In Action.

We were thankful to have both of them with LIA. Emily's vision was to begin a Celebrate Recovery. She said she was retired and got social security, so she had plenty of time. "I just breath and the government sends me a check," she told us. "It's a wonderful thing."

Emily's humor was dry, sarcastic and hilarious. We quickly fell in love with her and Ricky, and told her we would love to have Celebrate Recovery as part of LIA. She was true to her word. She started it and grew it, and she worked nonstop.

We didn't know how many people would attend, but if we helped one person it would be worth it. We had no idea we would have 125 people on Tuesday nights at the LIA Ministry Center, which was located at that time in a warehouse on the Montgomery Highway in Dothan, Ala. Hundreds of people gave their lives to Jesus through Celebrate Recovery.

At 11:49 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8, Emily died following a couple of days in the hospital following a massive heart attack. At that moment, I have no doubt she heard Jesus tell her, "Well done, good and faithful servant ... Enter into the joy of your master." And, she was also reunited with her beloved Ricky, who died last year.

She helped many homeless people at LIA. I'll never forget when she convinced someone to donate a car so we could give it to a homeless man to help him improve his life. Charles was stunned the night she gave him the car keys. She put it in a lunch box and presented it to him. He opened it and found the keys. He asked what were the keys for. She told him he would need them to drive his new car to work. He cried. Emily cried. We all cried.

When I think of Emily's "Man with no shoes," I think about her going to Baton Rouge with us. We took a cargo trailer filled with hundreds of pairs of boots. She helped us give them out to the homeless. She was happy and thrilled that she was able to give shoes to the homeless. Though it wasn't the "Man with no shoes" she had seen more than a year earlier, it certainly made her heart smile helping so many homeless people with shoes.

Emily's desire to reach as many people for Jesus didn't stop in Dothan and Baton Rouge. She traveled to Shell, Ecuador, with us. We worked at an orphanage called Casa de Fe. Emily's mission, however, was not the children directly, but rather indirectly. Alcoholism and drug use is a big problem in Ecuador. Her goal was to teach Celebrate Recovery to ministry leaders in Shell, so they can begin a program to help adults overcome their addictions, therefore, helping the children as well.

Emily and Ms. Judy taught the course and gave all of the literature and books to begin a CR program in Shell. What an awesome blessing. Those ministry leaders in Ecuador were so thankful and excited.

Those three years of ministering with Emily were wonderful. She taught me a lot, and brought a lot of joy into mine and Martha's lives and to so many others.

We are thankful we will see her again in Heaven. I know we will see many, many others in Heaven who gave their lives to Jesus because of Emily being faithful to God's call on her life. She fulfilled that calling, and now she is reaping the rewards of her labor. She has "fought the good fight" and has "finished the race."

We pray for God to comfort her family as they will miss her tremendously. Many people will miss her. I thank God for memories, for we still have those and we will carry memories of Emily with us for the rest of our lives.