Thursday, April 29, 2010

'Light bulb" moments at Bible study

Bible study at the Love In Action Ministry Center on Wednesday nights is always a great time. It's a much smaller crowd than on Tuesday nights, and that leads to more interaction and discussion among those attending. What's really cool is when you see the "light bulbs" coming on - those moments when people look at you and say, "I get it."

We had some "light bulb" moments last night.

Many of the people who come on Tuesday nights for Celebrate Recovery go to their churches on Wednesday nights, and that's what we want to happen. We're an outreach ministry, not a church. But others just enjoy being at Love In Action, so they come on Wednesday nights and go to their churches on Sundays.

I started a new series last night called Identity Theft, which was written by Craig Groeschel, who is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. It's not about stealing a person's credit card and stealing their identity. It's about knowing our identity as Christians in Jesus Christ, and how the devil tries to steal our identity.

In this series, we are studying several different lies that the devil wants to use to rob us of our identity in Christ. Last night we looked at the lie, "I have to be strong." In other words, too often, we rely on our own strength. We try to accomplish everything on our own. When we do, we fail. We succeed when we rely on God's strength.

The scriptures we covered were: John 8:44, John 8: 32, Isaiah 40: 30-31, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and Zechariah 4:6. The "light bulbs" really started coming on when we got to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, which reads, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

That's where the Apostle Paul is asking God to take the torn in his flesh away from him. But God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you." As Pastor Groeschel says, after breaking down those verses in the Greek, a very literal translation of this verse could go like this, "God’s divine influence is exactly enough to meet your every need for His explosive miraculous power is made completely perfect in you when you are broken before Him."

One of the men looked at me and said, "So when I'm weak, I'm really strong because of God's strength." I said, "You've got it!" Then more people started sharing and they all understood it. We need to embrace our weaknesses and rely totally on God's strength. For, it's not by our might, or by our power, but it's by God's Spirit. (Zech. 4:6)

That was only the first lesson is the four-part series. It's going to get better and better. And the coolest thing is seeing people really beginning to understand who they are in Jesus Christ. By the end of the series, everyone will have a much better understanding. Praise God!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Young and homeless

We met two new homeless friends tonight, and while we were excited to meet them, it was also heartbreaking.

They were two young people from the state of Washington. She was 17 and he was 20, and they arrived via a train box car. They are "riding the rail" throughout the country. To be homeless at any age is sad, but to see them so young and homeless is heartbreaking.

We met them through Bill, one of our local homeless men. He met them this week and they are all sharing a camp together until Caleb and Whitney climb back into a box car and leave town. Bill called me this evening and asked if I wanted a couple of extra people at Celebrate Recovery tonight. I said, "Of course, you know I do." So I picked the three of them up and took them to the Love In Action Ministry Center.

They enjoyed a delicious meal and heard some great worship, which was led by Ryan Moore, who is the praise & worship leader at Christ-Life Church in Enterprise, Ala. Then they heard a powerful message from Love In Action Co-founder Mike Shroades, who is pastor of Christ-Life Church.

We were also able to help them with clothes, socks, boots and hygiene items.

Caleb and Whitney received a lot of hugs and loving words tonight. That's one of the things I love about Love In Action. All of our volunteers love on all the people. When do you think was the last time those two kids received a loving hug? It meant a lot to them.

Before we left, I asked if we could pray for them, and they said OK. So eight of us held hands and prayed. They are planning to leave tomorrow. I told them to remember that Jesus Christ really loves them, and that those of us at Love In Action loves them too. They knew it and thanked me again for everything.

I thank God for bringing them to the Love In Action Ministry Center tonight. I thank God for all of our volunteers showing them the love of Jesus Christ.

Please keep Caleb and Whitney in your prayers. God allowed us to plant the seeds of His Word, love and hope into their hearts tonight. Ask God to send others to them to water those seeds. God will bring forth the harvest. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Exciting times as construction begins

These are exciting times at Love In Action. We see God doing so much.

This month, we are averaging 90-plus people on Tuesday nights for Celebrate Recovery. On Wednesday nights, we just completed Discipleship Phases 1 & 2. And this week we began construction on our building expansion project at the Love In Action Ministry Center.

The first phase of our building project is installing exterior doors. The process wasn't easy as the cement block walls had to be cut and knocked down. Then steel had to be installed to frame out the doors and provide support for the walls. The crew also put steel around the existing garage roll up door to provide much-needed support for it.

The double doors in the front of the Love In Action Ministry Center looks great. It makes the Center much more inviting. Having that natural light shining through is great too. Visit our website (http://www.loveinactionministries.com/) to see a short video and an online photo gallery of the construction being done.

This is a $40,000 project and we're completing it as we have the money to do so. Love In Action is a debt-free ministry, and we're going to keep it that way.

We set a goal of raising $10,000 by Easter so we could begin the project. Thanks to people's generosity, we surpassed that goal with a total of $11,000. As we continue toward the overall goal of $40,000 we will have other goals to reach.

The next goal is $4,000 by June 1. That's the amount we need to have enough money to frame and sheet rock the new restroom, shower room, laundry room, kitchen, and the firewall.

The plumbing should be the next phase of the project, and the plumber doing that work is donating everything - the pipes, all of the fixtures (showers, toilets, etc.), and labor. Is that an awesome blessing or what! Praise God!

Then when we construct the restroom, showers, laundry room, kitchen and firewall, we will be able to provide for many more needs of the homeless. We are so close now. It's exciting and Martha and I praise God for it all.

We thank you for your prayers and financial support. We could not do all of this without you. Together, we are making an eternal difference.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A life changed by 'God's grace and guiding hand'

I received an email recently and it brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy.

When you work with the homeless you go through a lot of heartbreaks, but all of those tough times are worth it when you see one of them truly turning his or her life around.

The person who sent me the email is the sister of a former homeless man in our hometown of Dothan, Ala. He was homeless and living in a tent in the woods when we met him a year ago. I remember telling Martha, "We're going to reach that guy." Through the power of God's love, we did.

Through working with him we experienced many heartbreaks with him. We also experienced many joyous times. We helped him come off the streets and move into his own apartment about six months ago. He's at Love In Action every Tuesday night for Celebrate Recovery and every Wednesday night for Bible study. He's about to complete Discipleship Phase 1. When he doesn't have to work on Sundays, he's at church with us.

I told him Wednesday night that it was so good seeing him smile. He was always battling depression, but now he's smiling and thanking Jesus for everything.

This is a testimony to God's wondrous love. Showing the homeless that God loves them and so do we means everything to them, and this is just one example. I want to thank those of you who pray for us, donate financially, donate items, and give of your time. We couldn't have reached this person without each of you. It takes the Body of Christ working together to get this kind of result.

He still has a ways to go, but he's doing so good. You don't have to know his name to pray for him, so please keep him in your prayers. He has incredible potential to do great things.

The email is below. I left out his name and the person who sent the email to protect their privacy. But as you will see, God is doing a great work. When a family member notices a change, that's saying something, because they have seen the absolute worst and most heartbreaking moments. Now, a change is taking place. A change that only Jesus Christ could make in a person's life. And I thank and praise Jesus for this and for everything we see Him do every day.

Here's the email:

Hi Ken,
I want to thank you and Martha very earnestly for all the thought, love and kindness you have put into the relationship with (my brother). My heart goes out to you and your lovely wife. You are true Christians in which the world needs more of.

(My brother), by God's grace and guiding hand, continues to strive and progress toward a more stable, alcohol free, Christian life, and I thank you and Martha and all others who have reached out to him.

For many years (he) has been a lost sheep and the Lord truly has sent his shepherds to watch over his flock and continues to do so.

With God in our hearts, let this be a better place to live.

Truly, together in the Love of Christ,
(his sister)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Charity auction rescheduled

We have rescheduled our charity auction for Saturday, June 5.

It was originally scheduled for this Saturday, but we haven't received enough items to have a real good auction. We want this to be a big once a year fundraising event, so we've rescheduled it to make sure it's a good auction. We want it to be one that people will remember and will want to come back to next year.

If you have any items you wish to donate, please let us know. Call Mike Shroades at 334-389-0905 or Jerry Eddings at 334-791-5296.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Congratulations Brian and Jaclyn

Click the photo for an online photo gallery of the wedding.

Martha and I and all of us at Love In Action congratulate Brian and Jaclyn Turner on their marriage today, April 10, 2010. Brian is a Love In Action board member, and they are going to make one dynamic couple for God.

We are so excited for them. They both love God and love serving Him and others. They have a real heart for the lost, the homeless, and the broken-hearted.

Their wedding was beautiful today. It was outdoors at Living Waters in Headland, Ala. It was a perfect spring day for a wedding.

The food at the reception was delicious. You know I'm going to talk about food when there is any around. :-) It was all great. The groom's cake was too cool. Rock on Brian!

Most importantly, we have an awesome godly couple married now, and I can't wait to see everything God does in them and through them. We are blessed to have both Brian and Jaclyn part of Love In Action.

We love y'all, and may God greatly bless your lives together in Him.

Abandoned in Dothan

Kellie and Martha

Why would a parent abandon a child in a strange city? That's the question Martha and I were asking ourselves Friday night.

A friend had met a young lady who was stranded in our hometown of Dothan, Ala. He gave her our phone number and said if they can help you, they will.

She called me crying. Her name was Kellie and she lives in South Carolina. She came to Dothan on a bus with her stepfather to visit her mother, who is in jail. Two days ago her stepfather disappeared without a word. Their hotel room was paid through Thursday and they had to be out by noon Friday. She kept waiting for him to return. He had told her two days ago that he found some work and was going to do that to make a little extra money, but he never returned.

She checked the hospitals and the jail, but he wasn't at those places. She was scared and didn't know what to do. Thankfully, we could help her.

Martha and I picked her up and Martha instantly gave her a hug of assurance that everything was going to be OK. Kellie was crying and kept saying, "I can't believe he left me. I can't believe he left me."

We were able to purchase her a bus ticket, and the lady at the Dothan bus station did a great job of finding a good route for her. At first, the next bus for Kellie's destination wasn't going to arrive in Dothan until 2 a.m. But Judy kept looking and found a route where she could leave at 7:30 Friday night and arrive home Saturday afternoon.

Kellie has family back in South Carolina, so she's going to be OK. Martha and I praise God for bringing her to us. It gave us a chance to minister the love of Jesus Christ to her. While I left the bus station to go get Kellie some food (she hadn't eaten in about two days), Martha listened and talked to her. My precious wife just poured the love of Jesus into that young lady, who was only 22 years old. She looked like she was 18.

Kellie was so thankful for the help, and we stayed there with her until she got on the bus. We didn't want to buy her a ticket and leave. We didn't want her to feel abandoned again.

We will probably never see Kellie again. That's the case with all of the transient homeless people and those abandoned like Kellie. But, for that short time, we have the opportunity to show them and tell them about the love of Jesus Christ. Then we send them on their way. But they will remember the words and the acts of love. They will know there is a God in Heaven who loves them.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." That's what God expects all Christians to do. We must plant the seed of God's love into people, and water it with His Word and more love. We can't save them. Only God can. If we do what we are suppose to, God's Word will not return void. That seed of God's love will grow, and sooner or later, a harvest will be reaped.

So pray for all of those like Kellie and all of the transient homeless people we meet. Pray that the seeds will fall upon good soil, and that the Holy Spirit will bring the words and the acts of love back to their remembrance. They are precious people. They just need to know that someone loves and cares for them. That hope of God's love is all they need to pull them out of their situations.

Friday, April 9, 2010

No work day Saturday

We will not be having a work day this Saturday. Martha and I are trying to get over sickness, and we have a wedding to go to Saturday afternoon.

Don't forget about our charity auction on April 17 at 10 a.m. at the Love In Action Ministry Center. The auction is to help raise money for the Ministry Center's building fund. We will have lots of fun, food and fellowship. There will be great items for sale, including jewelry, glassware, antiques, furniture and more. Come be blessed and bless others. Auctioneer Col. Jerry Chief Eddings AL# 5079 will conduct the auction. If you would like to donate items for the auction, or for more information, call Jerry at 334-791-5296 or Mike Shroades at 334-389-0905.

The Love In Action Ministry Center is located at 1140 Montgomery Hwy., Dothan, next to the Piggly Wiggly. The money raised will help us expand the ministry center by adding another restroom, two showers, a laundry room, a full commercial kitchen, a new floor and more space in the worship area, A/C and heat, and other needed improvements.