Sunday, August 30, 2009

You are amazing God

Today as Martha and I drove home after taking people back home from church we were listening to a Chris Tomlin CD. As the song "Indescribable" was playing tears filled my eyes.

"From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming"

Our God is indeed amazing and indescribable. I think about everything God has done in my life. Most importantly, He saved me through His son Jesus Christ. He gave me an awesome Christian family to grow up with and wonderful church families over the years. He has forgiven me when I have really messed things up. He has picked me up during my most depressing and darkest times, dusted me off, placed me back on my feet and said "You're forgiven. Let's start over and try again."

He has blessed me with an awesome woman of God as my wife, and has given us an incredible ministry, in which He has totally transformed our lives through. He has blessed me with a job that I truly enjoy (no matter how aggravated I get with my company at times), and friends I know I can depend on to be there when I need them.

"Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God"

God has allowed us to see Him do amazing things in other people's lives. We have seen Him save the homeless and take them off the streets to live productive lives for Him. He has given me boldness to tell people who are at the lowest, darkest points of their lives that they are right where they need to be, because if they trust in Jesus and give everything to God their lives will be transformed. I tell them that I guarantee that God will do wonders if they just trust in Him.

Then for those who have trusted in Him they have seen that if they are faithful to God, He will be faithful to them and move mountains. We will see that this week as a woman will have a huge tumor removed through a surgery that was way beyond her reach, but not beyond God. When she gave up, God stepped up and made the way. Her husband just got laid off from work on Saturday, the day after they moved into a new apartment. He was devastated, but this morning at church I told him He was right where he needed to be and to trust totally in God and He will provide a new and better job. They understand the power of prayer now after seeing God move mightily in their lives. They even asked Pastor Ralph to pray for them this morning.

We've seen our amazing God take two homeless men out of the woods in our hometown of Dothan, Ala., and is transitioning them to being able to live on their own again. They are faithfully in church every Sunday worshiping God and at Wednesday night Bible study. We have seen God take a homeless man off the streets and now he is being offered the top manager's position at the place he started working only a month ago. He has been faithful to God and God's faithfulness is being poured out upon him.

"Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom"

I looked around church this morning and saw 20-plus people who Love In Action has been able to provide nice clothing and shoes/boots for. It's exactly what God wants to do through LIA. Lead people to Jesus and help them see that God has so much more for them. He does indeed have a good plan for each of us. He has hope and a future for everyone - Jeremiah 29:11.

So, yes, God, you are indescribable and amazing. I love you so much. I submit all my ways to you. Have your way at all times, and continue to do miracles in the lives of the homeless and poor. Let Love In Action continue to be one of the vehicles you use to show the homeless and poor that you love them. We want to be your hands and feet.

"Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A lot going on

It's been several weeks since I've blogged. It's been so busy at work and with LIA that I haven't had time, and when I did I just melted into my recliner and drifted off to sleep.

But, I'm awake right now, so I thought I would write a quick update about how things have been going. We continue to see God move mightily in the lives of the homeless and poor.

We met a new guy last week. Someone gave him my phone number and he called last Wednesday. He was released from prison back in April and has had a hard time finding work because of his record. He is living with a friend, but he needs work. I told him I was helping six others find work, so I would help him too. He wanted to come to our Bible study, so we had a new person on the van.

Emily Hinderliter from Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Taylor taught the Bible study. She did a fantastic job and really connected with the other 28 in attendance. Jason really enjoyed it and wants to go to church with us Sunday. Praise God!

We had 25 people come out a week ago to volunteer at our work day at the LIA warehouse. We got a lot accomplished. All of the boots that are in boxes - nearly 3,000 pairs - are now organized. Two big walls got painted. They looked horrible, so the new paint really looks good. Insulation was put over our meeting room and soon to be classrooms. That's the only area that has air conditioning. The insulation will keep the hot air out and the cool air in. We also got the sheet rock ceiling up in the bathroom, and clothes got sorted and organized. Walmart gave us some clothing racks, which will be a huge help.

All of the organizing and sorting will make our ministry more efficient.

We're getting ready to start Celebrate Recovery at the warehouse. CR is a program for people with hurts, hangups and habits. That pretty much covers everyone. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church (author of Purpose Driven Life) designed the program, and it's wonderful. Tabernacle United Methodist is making this all possible, and Emily is spread heading it. She knows this is her calling, and God is really moving to bring it all together. We are doing leadership training for CR and there are 12 wonderful people from Tabernacle who are going to help lead the program. We will have the CR kickoff at the warehouse on Oct. 3. We can't wait! It's taking our local ministry to the homeless, poor and community corrections work release men and their families to a higher level. It's so cool seeing family members join their son, husband, dad for Wednesday night Bible study at the warehouse and church on Sundays at Harvest. We are seeing God heal and strengthen families. We serve an awesome and amazing God!

Well, that's it for now. I'll try to do a better job with more blogs updating you on what God is doing through LIA.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support.

Monday, August 10, 2009

LIA blessed with great leadership

I am blessed to do ministry with great people. Love In Action has a great leadership team, and every time we get together with our board of directors, like we did tonight, I'm reminded of that.

It starts with my wife, Martha, who is also my best friend. This ministry is a big part of our lives now. We love serving Jesus together, and believe me, there is nothing better than being partners in ministry with your spouse. My wife is a very special woman, and the light of Jesus always shines through her. We couldn't do this ministry without each other.

My mom is on the LIA board of directors and she is invaluable to this ministry. Her love for people comes through all the time. So many people now call her their mama. Her smile and hugs always lets the homeless know they are loved.

Mike Shroades is co-founder of LIA. When Mike and I founded this ministry we knew God had big plans, and it is so cool seeing God do things we talked about years ago. We have been coast to coast ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the "least of these." Mike has a heart for people unlike anyone I've ever seen. He's a great leader and I'm honored to call him not only a partner in ministry, but a best friend.

Justin Swasey may be quiet, but he is filled with God's love and wisdom. He is a strong leader and is anointed to minister to the lost and hurting. Justin is a good listener, which is very effective when ministering to the homeless. The homeless want to be heard, and Justin listens and knows the scripture to share with them. He is also anointed to reach children and teens. It doesn't matter if he is in Enterprise, Ala., Atlanta, Ga., or Los Angeles. As soon as kids see Justin they are drawn to him. It's amazing to see.

Brian is the newest member to LIA. In the past year he has shown his compassion for the homeless. He is a big reason we are in our warehouse. Martha and I knew after the first time we talked with him that he needed to be on the board of directors. Brian has a great concern about reaching people that society ignores and have given up on . His passion for leading people to Jesus is awesome.

It's a blessing, honor and privilege serving Jesus with all of these great people. I thank God for each of them and for all of the volunteers who have helped and are helping us share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of compassion.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

God is so good

A lot has been going on the past 10 days, and it's all been great. We see every day how awesome our God is.

Recently we made a need known about a former homeless person who needed to have major surgery. Theresa has been in severe pain since we first met her and her husband last December. Since then they have moved into their own home and have been going to church with us every Sunday. They have seen God move mountains, then they saw Him move two more huge mountains this past month.

First, after trying all of the ways the "system" wants people to try to receive health care when they don't have insurance, a doctor stepped in to see Theresa. God used him to set the health care she needs in motion. Then she needed $2,200 to have her surgery. God put it on some people's hearts to give who heard about the need, and now those bills have been paid. Next month Theresa will have the surgery she has long needed and the pain will be gone. Praise God!

Back in April, we met two homeless men who lived in the woods in Dothan, Ala. One is now living in his own apartment, and the other is no longer living in the woods either. We are working with him to transition him into his own housing. We will help provide housing for him first by putting him in a hotel. Once he finds work - and he's been applying at a lot of places - we will help him get his own place to live. He is now going to church with us every Sunday and will be in Bible study every Wednesday. Last Friday, on his own, he went to Celebrate Recovery at Harvest Church. Praise God!

We are looking for full-time employment for three men. If you live in Dothan, Ala., and know of any work these guys can apply for, please contact me at 334-494-4995 or e-mail at loveinactionministries@hotmail.com. Here are the following jobs they can do: restaurant work, construction, warehouse/forklift, landscape/yard work. They are hard workers and are ready to move from the uncertainty work of temporary jobs to full-time permanent jobs.

It is so awesome watching God working in the lives of people who society has given up on. Even in the midst of a recession, God is doing a great work. God is so much bigger than our nation's economy and everything else.

I want to thank all of you who pray for us and support us through financial support and donation of supplies. Together, we are making a difference for the glory of God.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Helping the "least of these brothers of mine"

The man sat on the hard concrete of a New York City sidewalk, resting his back against the brick exterior of a business. He wore old faded blue jeans, a white T-shirt, a faded blue jean jacket and a baseball cap.

Martha and I walked up to him on a comfortable July night near the New York City Port Authority. We had a delicious Italian sandwich we had purchased from a deli. I asked him if he was hungry and wanted a sandwich. His eyes lit up and he smiled as he said yes.

I told him that God loves him and this was one way God was showing him.
He thanked us as he unwrapped the sandwich. As we walked away, Martha heard him say, “Thank you Jesus.”

A beat up Ford car was parked outside the Love In Action warehouse in Dothan, Ala., as Martha and I drove up. As I got out I noticed a woman in the front seat and a child in the back seat. A man walked down the sidewalk to the car. I said hello and proceeded to unlock the warehouse. The man looked rough. Not because he was a rough man, but it looked like he hadn’t slept much or had a shower in couple of days.

As I unlocked the warehouse I heard the man say, “I can’t believe it.” Then he asked if I was part of this ministry (our sign is on the wall of the warehouse.) I told him I was, and he told me his story. He, his wife and daughter live in Jackson, Tenn. He’s a carpenter and had come to Dothan, Ala., for a job that was promised to him. The job fell through, so they started to return home.

The alternator on his Ford died, and he spent the last of his reserve money on the alternator and a little food for his family. He showed me his receipt. He asked if we could put gas in their car to help them get back home. I told him to follow us to a gas station and we would fill up his car’s tank. He cried as he thanked and hugged me.

They had slept in their car the past two nights and were tired and in need of a bath. Martha and I invited them into the warehouse and told them to get some clothes and food. The man started crying again. He said they had been praying and God had answered their prayers. We gave them some hygiene kits, socks and underwear as they picked out some clothes and shoes.

It was around 6 p.m., so I asked him if they would like a good night’s rest before heading back to Tennessee. He said that would be great, so we got them a hotel room for the night. After checking them into the hotel, we all hugged and we encouraged them that Jesus was showing them that no matter the circumstances, He was in control and He would take care of them as long as they trusted in and lived for Him. As we left, the man said, “If we don’t see you again here on earth, we will see you in Heaven.”

A man just got out of jail and couldn't go back to his home in Georgia until he met with his probation officer, who would be out of the office until Monday. That meant the man had four nights of living on the streets. A friend directed him to Love In Action and we were able to help.

He had been locked up for 4.5 months for a theft charge. It was his first time in trouble and in jail. He fears the thoughts of ever going back, and has vowed to never touch alcohol again. He was very polite, saying "sir" after nearly every sentence.

I was blessed to take him to get his first meal since being out of jail, where the food is barely digestible. He wanted two double cheeseburgers, fries and a Coke. You would have thought he was eating steak and lobster with a glass of Dom Perignon.

The only clothes he had was what he was wearing, so I took him to the LIA warehouse and told him to pick out all the clothes he needed and a pair of boots. I gave him an army duffel bag to put his clothes in, and topped his bag off with socks, underwear and hygiene items. Then I gave him some food and took him to a hotel where he will spend four nights and get the first good night's rest in nearly five months.

He's going to church with us tomorrow, then with a bus ticket supplied by his family, going home after meeting with his probation officer on Monday.

That’s what Love In Action does. We reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of compassion. Thanks to those who pray and support us, we can show the “least of these brothers of mine” that Jesus loves them. We have seen thousands of souls saved the past nine years, and we couldn’t have done it without those of you who pray for and donate to us. Thank you so much, and may God continue to bless you and your families.