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Archive | From the Pulpit

Our Father in heaven

Pastor Jon Huizenga

Sunday Meetings at Middle School, 10:00 am.

Cedar Springs Middle School

4873 16 Mile Rd NE, Cedar Springs

Hi neighbors!

I read a book on the Lord’s Prayer. (And I would tell you what book it was if I could remember! Ask me in a day or two.) In the book, the author gave some wonderful thoughts about the opening words of the prayer, “Our Father in Heaven”

To quote the Bible directly, Jesus said to his disciples:  “This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven…’”

The book I read suggested we think about those words this way:

OUR – He is not my father only, or yours, he is ours.

FATHER – Because he is a good father, he cares.

IN HEAVEN – Because he is our father in heaven, he can.

So, when you pray to “our father in heaven” you can think:

YOU’RE OURS

YOU CARE

YOU CAN

I find that just thinking these introductory words solves most of the problems I am bringing to God when I set out to pray.

Sometimes I’m upset about a relationship, and God reminds me that he is not only my father, but that other person’s father too.

Sometimes I wonder if he notices or cares; he reminds me that he does.

Sometimes I wonder if he is able to handle the problem I am bringing; he absolutely can. 

HE’S OURS

HE CARES

HE CAN

What is bothering you today? Try out this prayer opening and see where thinking of God that way takes you. It’s how Jesus taught us to pray.

May God bless you today!

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Meditation on Morel Hunting

Pastor Michelle Vallier 

Cedar Springs UMC

140 S. Main St, Cedar Springs, MI 49319

It’s morel season in Michigan, a time to venture out into the woods to experience the abundance of God—mushrooms, birdsong, and a taste of heaven. As scripture tells us, “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17 NRSVUE). God never changes, and God wants us to experience life to its fullest.

I experienced my first Michigan morel season eight years ago. It was Mother’s Day, and we happened upon the perfect spot. A pine tree, long dead, lay across the floor of the woods, pointing to two large white pines, surrounded by popples. All along the imagined shadow of that dead pine, circling the two living pines, morel mushrooms dotted the ground. Each mushroom sighting led to exclamations of “and there’s another, and another.” Morel hunting in this spot became a well-developed yearly pattern, a tradition with expected results.

In the last few years, morels haven’t appeared there. Something changed. Perhaps the ground has been too dry, the weather pattern wasn’t right, the mycelium got tired. And yet, I find myself going back there every spring, around Mother’s Day, with the same fullness of expectation, wanting to experience God’s abundance in that same place, leaving with a memory of birdsong and the disappointment of an empty mushroom bag. 

Some of you are frustrated with life, doing your best to work out of difficult situations, experiencing roadblock after roadblock. Some watch the many crises of the community from a distance, helpless to fix them. Many are coming up empty, in much more significant ways than my empty mushroom bag. And there aren’t easy answers. What we do know is that God never changes, God loves all of us, and God wants us to live lives of abundance.

There’s a great story in the gospel of John about disciples with an empty net. Jesus saw their difficulty and paid them a post-resurrection visit to help them find fish. He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish” (John 21:6 NRSV). I can imagine Jesus showing up in the woods, as I stare at that perfect mushroom spot, barren of mushrooms for the fourth year in a row, saying, “try another spot, and you will find many.” And I can imagine Him saying to each one of us, as we lament the struggles of our lives, the brokenness in our communities and the world, “it’s time to try something new.” 

What could that new thing be? If each one of us took charge of the change we need to make, what miracles of abundance might we see?

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Tracks

Rev. David Ward, Pastor

Pilgrim Bible Church

361 Pine Street • Cedar Springs, MI 49319

The story is told of three fellows who thought they might try their hand at hunting. The first decided to follow some tracks and ended up shooting a big buck. Emboldened, the second hunter followed different tracks and shot a bear.  Seeing their success, the last hunter put his head down, followed tracks and… got run over by a train!

There are two questions to ask after reading this account. What kind of tracks am I following and what can of tracks am I laying down?

Many of us have had good tracks laid before us by previous generations.  Most could share examples of people who loved and gave of themselves unselfishly, who looked out for others and were good neighbors in their communities.  Often, we had someone who consistently demonstrated God’s love, took us to church and taught us about God’s truth.

Today’s culture tells us to get what we deserve, to pursue our own happiness. It is said that the ends justify the means. You have to do what you have to do to get what you want. Anyone or anything that gets in our way is an obstacle to be overcome. Personal happiness is all that matters, in the end. We are offered a vast array of pleasure, entertainment, and information to satisfy ourselves. Unfortunately, that track, too often, leaves us empty and alone.

We should choose wisely the path we will follow.  The track of selfishness leads to emptiness, loneliness and despair. To deny ourselves and to pursue God, ironically, leads to greater fulfillment, stability and contentment. In addition, most of us have become the role models that will influence he footsteps that follow us. Will our steps lead these precious ones to a healthy destination?

To recall the words of the poet Robert Frost, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”  

What track are you walking today?

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The Key to Being a Disciple – Abiding

Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd NE, Rockford

www.gracerockford.com

By Kevin Reed

A disciple is someone who believes in and follows Jesus.  Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV).  The decision to follow Jesus is a decision that requires more than just a one time a decision to believe in Him.  It is accompanied with a daily decision to strive to live our lives the way Jesus did and the way he calls us to be like Him.  This decision to follow Jesus is impossible in our own strength but “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26 NIV).  That’s where “abiding” comes in.  

Jesus said in John 15 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain (abide) in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:5,8 NIV).  Abiding in Jesus is the key to bearing fruit and proving ourselves to be His disciples. Jesus actually goes as far to say that if we don’t abide in him then all we will ever accomplish is a whole bunch of nothing!  Abiding is the process by which we learn to run, too, and rely on, Jesus for everything we need. It is learning to live in him as he lives in and through us.  Abiding is a daily decision to place our dependence for living on Jesus.  It is the key to walking in relationship with Jesus in a way that leads to us bearing the fruit that brings glory to The Father.  

A crucial aspect of abiding is to develop the daily discipline of spending time in the presence of God where we talk to him and learn to hear from him. The main ways we accomplish this is through our time in the Word of God and Prayer. This is extremely important if we are to experience the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus came to give us. While our times together with other believers on Sunday mornings are important and life-giving, they are not enough to enable us to navigate through this world as followers of Jesus.  We need to learn to daily abide in the presence of God as he promises to lead us and guide us and teach us. Jesus didn’t just die to forgive us of our sins so that one day we could be with him in Heaven.  He died and rose again to invite us into a relationship where we don’t just believe in Him but we actually find our life in him because after all, apart from him we can do nothing.  Let that sink in.  The God of the universe who took on flesh to save us wants to have a personal, intimate relationship with us each and every day!!  Why would we not accept that invitation?  

Consider setting aside some time today to “abide” in Christ.  Practice the discipline of silence and solitude and find your strength in Him. Open up God’s Word and find nourishment for the soul.  Have a loving conversation with God where you can pour out your praises along with your worries and concerns.  Make the effort today to slow down from the frantic pace of life and BE WITH Jesus.  After all, if you don’t, the best you can hope to accomplish is nothing.  His words, not mine.  

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Something good from something bad

Pastor Inge Whittemore

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Road, Cedar Springs

Last week the weather warmed up enough to allow me a chance to sit out on my deck and enjoy the sunshine. But I couldn’t. It’s midge season. These non-biting little flying bugs come out of the lake where I live. While in their larvae stage, they feed on algae and bacteria. They are busy filtering micro-organisms out of the water. When they mature, they gain wings and then gather in swarms, hovering over the yard and clinging to the aluminum siding. It is a veritable plague of pestilence.

But–adult midges are eaten by Bank Swallows and it has been my distinct pleasure to watch hundreds of these birds swoop and dive across the lake. Their artful flight is like a flying ballet over the water. I discovered that something bad is also good.

This reminds me of Ephesians 5:19b-20 (NIV). “Sing
and
make
music
from
your
heart
to
the
Lord,
always
giving
thanks
to
God
the
Father
for
everything,
in
the
name
of
our
Lord
Jesus
Christ.”
Sometimes it is hard to be thankful for everything when there are difficulties and calamities and struggles in life. To be thankful, in the midst of trials, is a challenge because we don’t know what the future will bring and trusting the Lord when we are in pain or brought down by loss and sadness is a leap of faith that can feel monumental and even impossible at times. 

Trusting God is not about ignoring our feelings or the reality we are living in. It is not pretending that everything is fine when it isn’t. Trusting God is believing and obeying even when times are really tough. How? Well, when we trust someone, we are comfortable being honest with them about anything and God is much more than our most trustworthy friends.

“Cast
all
your
anxiety
on
Him
because
He
cares
for
you”
1 Peter 5:7(NIV). 

“You
keep
track
of
all
my
sorrows.
You
have
collected
all
my
tears
in
your
bottle.You
have
recorded
each
one
in
Your
book”
Psalm 56:8 (NIV).

Because God loves us, we can show our trust in Him by bringing our situations to Him in prayer. God is open to hearing us and is not disappointed or frustrated by our struggles. God cares about us, and we can trust Him with everything. In trust, we do not need to look for security elsewhere because God desires to hold us tightly even in difficult circumstances. 

Sure, we won’t do this all perfectly, but thankfully God is kind and patient with us while we learn to trust Him. My thankfulness for midges happened because I noticed the flocks of Bank Swallows and my eyes were opened to this wonder. My prayer for us all is that when we are faced with hard times, may we all know that God will provide assurance, comfort, and peace to us. May we have eyes to see His grace, as God loves us through it all. 

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Stop holding on to me

Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs

(John 20:17)

Easter is the greatest feast day of the Church. As St. Paul said, “if Christ had not been raised, your faith is vain . . . If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.” (1Cor 15:17, 19).  During this season we, however, proclaim: Christ is truly risen.  Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

On this joyful season, I recall that, not too long ago, a person asked: Why in the Gospel, did Jesus tell one of the witnesses of his Resurrection not to hold on to him? This was the appearance of the Resurrected Lord to Mary of Magdala (Jn 20:11-18). 

Having come to the tomb “while it was still dark” (Jn 20:1), Mary fixated on the past reality. She was convinced that Jesus remained dead because she had not wavered in her belief that his corpse had been stolen. The Risen Lord opened her eyes to the reality of the Resurrection by calling her by name, Mary. This is an allusion to the Good Shepherd who “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (Jn 10:3). As the sheep respond to the Good Shepherd, Mary, a faithful disciple, recognized his voice (Jn 10:4) and addressed him as Teacher. Thus, Mary came to believe that Jesus was truly alive. Her sadness turned into joy (Jn 16:20). However, Mary still presumed her relationship with Jesus was just the same as before his death, for she addressed him with the same title as before, Teacher (Jn 1:38, 49; 3:2). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, continued to call her out of darkness into light.

The Resurrection of Jesus changed absolutely everything, including the relationship between him and his followers. The disciples, such as Mary, can relate to him no longer as an earthly Teacher, but as the Risen Lord. Jesus’ command of her “stop holding on to me” is meant figuratively: Mary you can no longer hold on to the past notion of discipleship. Jesus further explained, “I have not yet ascended to the Father” (Jn 20:17). Ascending to the Almighty Father speaks of this new situation. The exaltation of the Risen Jesus at the Father’s right hand and the sending of the Holy Spirit, completes the Father’s saving work. It marks the entrance of Jesus’ glorified humanity into God’s own life, and thus gives humanity access to communion with the Father.  

Truly Jesus commanded Mary to stop holding on to him in an earthly way, but through the Paschal Mystery (his Death and Resurrection), Jesus opened us up to a new relationship with God: we are partakers in the Divine Life. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. This is the day the Lord has made!

(Father Lam also is the Pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 West Maple St, Sand Lake, Michigan 49343 phone: 616 636 5671)

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Heaven: Who is there?

Pastor Bobby Gray
Solid Rock Worship Center

11862 Shaner Ave NE, Cedar Springs
www.mysolidrock.church/ 

We can’t grasp fully the wonders that will be ours when we arrive in Heaven. God has given us just a taste of what we may expect through our being filled with His Spirit, but neither our eyes, ears, nor imagination could produce a full picture of what we will enjoy. (1 Cor 2:9—10.)

What IS certain, however, is that one of the most magnificent features of Heaven will be our fellow inhabitants there. So the question is… “Who Is There?”

JESUS CHRIST: The single greatest treasure of the heavenly experience will be for each of us to experience the majesty of seeing our Savior face to face! (1 John 3:2)

• We will look into the eyes that looked through time to see us.

• We will see the lips from which the words of life flowed.

• We will bask in the glory of the countenance that Moses was forbidden to see.

• We will look at the one who wept for us as He wipes the final tear from our eyes.

The songwriter well-penned the words “Jesus will be what makes it ‘Heaven’ for me!”
ANGELS: While everyone else pales alongside the blessing of seeing the King, seeing the heavenly host of angels will still be awesome. While they have been encamped around us daily (Psalm 34:7), few of us have ever been privileged to see them.

• We will see the seraphim that Isaiah saw in the Temple.

• We will hear the voice of Gabriel, who spoke to Mary and Joseph and first verbalized the name of the Lord.

• We will stand in awe of Michael the archangel, who led the war in Heaven against Satan, who battled the prince of Persia in response to Daniel’s prayers, and who contended for Moses’ body.

Oh, what sights will be there!

LOVED ONES: Is there any more comforting thought when we stand alongside the grave of a loved one who died in Christ than the fact that we will see him or her again? One of the wonderful blessings of Heaven will be the reunions with precious people who have preceded us there.

SAINTS OF OLD: Finally, we will have the awesome privilege of interacting with the saints of all ages.

• Can you imagine what it will be like to hear Daniel describe the lions with lockjaw?

• To hear Joshua describe the sounds of Jericho’s walls falling flat?

• To listen as an Israelite recounts the experience of passing through the Red Sea?

• To hear a woman caught in adultery describe the mercy she saw in Her Savior’s eyes and the sound of stones falling to the ground?

There is no question that with its gold streets, jasper walls, and gates of pearl Heaven will surpass anything found on Earth. But the “what” of Heaven, is less important than the “who” of heaven!

• We will see Him!

• We will see the saints!

• We will see our loved ones!

• Heaven sounds sweeter all the time!

Happy Easter!

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Your greatest treasure

Pastor Kristi Rhodes

Hillcrest Community Church

5994 18 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs

“A healthy man has a thousand wishes, a sick man has only one.”  

This was spoken by one of the doctors I worked for and I have remembered it ever since.  It sounds like a proverb. A proverb is a simple and insightful, traditional saying that expresses a perceived truth based on common sense or experience. A saying that gives advice, usually as a metaphor. There is a whole book of proverbs which is located close to the center of the Bible and there are 31 chapters. There is a chapter for every day of the longest months—an extra chapter for the shorter months.  

As Christ followers, we don’t just “wish” for things, we have this HOPE!  What is hope?  Hope isn’t wishful thinking.  Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, achieves the impossible.  Neither is it necessarily getting what you want.  If God gave you everything you ever asked for, you would have completely destroyed yourself by now!  

The true riches are established in the hope of God. These are the true riches of God that can meet every need you’ll ever have. Read the Word of God and discover the fountain that shall never run dry.

As John Hagee says, The Bible is not a “wish” book.  The Bible is a book filled with truths.  What it says, God will do.  The promises found within are not just for ancient believers but for the church of today.

You have absolute authority to shape the destiny of your life through Jesus Christ. The devil is not afraid of the believer with a dusty Bible. But the person with a Bible that is falling apart has a life that is not. Wisdom for every decision, strength for every battle, peace in all our circumstances and a hope that does not disappoint are all discovered in the person of Jesus Christ and found in the pages of God’s Word, the Bible. That’s the greatest treasure. Strive to be a force the devil has to reckon with—a person who, when you get up in the morning, makes the enemy say, “Oh crap, they’re up!!”  Be someone who makes a difference!

When you learn how to apply the Bible to your life, it will become the most exciting thing in the world for you to read. Other books provide information; the Bible is given for transformation.  Psalm 119:162 says, “I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure.” Proverbs 15:6 says, “the house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings them trouble.” 

What do you treasure? What do you chase after? Better yet, who do you chase after? What do you consider your greatest treasure?

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Less of us, more of God

Pastor Dallas Burgeson

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

It is the season of Lent. And it is always good to simply hear the Word of the Lord. This comes from Isaiah, chapters 52 and 53 in the New Living Translation, and the “servant” that was prophesied about here ended up coming over 600 years later. His name was Jesus of Nazareth:

“See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?

My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.

And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away.

No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” 

Thank You, Jesus.

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Finding my way

Pastor Darryl Miller

Sand Lake/South Ensley Methodist churches 

616.636.5659

Psalm 32:8: “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’”

I just got back from a walk with my LeaderDog and saw a reminder that this article is due. When I finish writing it, I will need to figure out why the calendar on my phone or my computer didn’t remind me yet again. Being blind, I depend on technology a considerable bit. Yet when it fails, I can either choose to be lost or I can try to find another way. Similarly, I moved this past fall, and my dog doesn’t know the area yet. We visited a neighbor, not on purpose mind you, finding our way home. 

There are a lot of things that we depend on for help and guidance. But most important of all, we need to depend on God in the form of the Holy Spirit. 

This world is full of distractions that want to pull us away from the relationship that we are offered with God. Each time we watch the news, it is easy to get depressed. When we hear the talk at the local restaurant, we can quickly be pulled into gossip and complaint. Soon, we are lost. Our focus is gone, and we wander through our world wondering where the path went. 

All the technology in the world and all the world has to offer have a common problem. They, at one time or another, will fail us. But God will not. When we feel lost, He is there. When we feel alone, He is there. When we wonder why things are not working the way we think they should, He can get us back on track. But only if we are willing to hear His voice, and more importantly, listen to Him. I wasn’t too worried when we got a little turned around; I knew God would send someone to help if it came to that. And when I saw the reminder in my email, I realized that, as so often before, God had provided this message before I even knew that I needed it. God is awesome!

If you want to experience the Spirit moving in your life as well, visit a local church. We would love to meet you!

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God and you

By Pastor Jon Huizenga

Rise Up Church

Meets Sunday mornings at Cedar Springs Middle School, 10:00 am.

Hi neighbors!

I hope life finds you in a good place today, and that spring weather is arriving as you read this (though as I write, it is cold).

God put this on my mind for this “From the Pulpit.” I hope it helps.

I’ve been thinking about these Bible words from Paul to the people in ancient Athens. Acts 17:24-25: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” 

Paul’s points to the people of Athens were:

  • God made you and everything.
  • Therefore, He is Lord of you and everything.
  • God doesn’t need you to take care of Him or provide for him.
  • Rather, God takes care of you and provides for you.
  • God is God and He gives you life, breath, and whatever you need.

Here is what I think God wanted me to say to you:

If you are wondering today whether God is paying any attention to you; if you feel alone or ignored or under pressure and are wondering whether God even notices; the answer is he does!  I think God wants me to tell you that He does see you, that you are not invisible to him, that He does want to provide the life and breath and whatever that you need.

The people of Athens tended to imagine that gods need to be served and cared for. Paul pointed them to a God who serves and cares for them. They needed that message.

Every once in awhile, God sends somebody to remind you that He is close by. Today that person is me. Call out to God. He is present. He is paying attention. He is rising up to show you compassion. He will respond to you.

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Taking the church to the people

Pastor Jonathan Bergsma

City Impact

288 N. Main St, Cedar Springs

My wife and I have been doing outreach with some amazing friends into the Cedar Springs community since the summer of 2015. Previously we had been involved in missionary work leading teams in different areas of South America and inner cities around the USA.

Missions were a thing we felt drawn to, and loved the feeling of serving others, spreading the gospel, and watching people experience the love of Jesus and serving for the first time. But God was calling us closer to home—to  our neighbors and those in need right here.

When God called us to this area, we reached into the community by knocking on doors and delivering small bags of simple, usable, personal care items or food that we would use as conversation starters. That led to building relationships, finding and filling needs, and praying for those in need. Our goal was to go out and find the people that may never come through the doors of a church and meet them where they were and bring Jesus to them.  

Dawn Battjes

It was early into one of these outreaches that we met a very special little lady named Dawn Battjes. Dawn was married to her husband Scott. They had been homeless for the previous seven years and had just  moved into a trailer in one of the mobile home parks here in town.

Dawn was this tiny little person who, when she met people who loved her, cared for her, and told her the good news of Jesus, she received it with joy and simple childlike faith. The transformation in her life was an amazing thing to witness. Dawn served others with all her heart, giving rides, making coffee, setting up tables. She showed up early for everything. It was almost comical how many hours before an event was to begin that she would be there ready and waiting to serve.

On one occasion, as ministry and outreach for City Impact was growing, a respected representative from another outside ministry shadowed us on outreach as we did some small home repairs needed at Dawn and her husband’s trailer. After completing an hour or so of work we prayed with them and left for another location. I was excited to inquire from our new friend, who had come along with us, and receive any advice or input he may have for us. The advice I received surprised me, and was as follows, he said, “I see how this is biblical in the sense of what Jesus said”…to the least of these, you did it unto me…and whoever you give a cup of cold water in my name you did it unto me….” but you guys are putting a lot of effort into these people and I’m not so sure this is the best way to spend your time and resources if you want to see this community transformed.” I had to respectfully disagree with my new friend because I know when we see poverty, homes in disrepair, broken down vehicles and junk, our first inclination tends to be, “they need nicer stuff, better landlords, cheaper housing, classes on how to take care of yourself and how to make things look nice.”  All these things are good but what I’ve come to realize is that the real way to transform a community is through relationships with people, and interactions fueled by the life-transforming value Jesus sees in people and brings to them! The outside we witness in people is so often just a symptom of what’s going on inside. Jesus mentioned this to the religious leaders of his day and told them you are all like cups that look nice and are clean on the outside but all dirty on the inside…wash the inside of the cup first and then the outside will be clean also. This basically means let’s not just make things look nice on the outside and overlook what’s inside, when the heart of an individual is transformed, the outside environment transformation will soon follow and all will see.

Jesus wants our hearts!

Dawn was an amazing example of this transformation. I say she “was” because Dawn passed away in her sleep at the age of 52 last week. We will all miss her sweet smile and raspy little laugh around City Impact. She was such an inspiration to all because by this world’s standards she had nothing, she grew up in foster care, abused in every way, was homeless and had nothing. But when she met Jesus and a family of believers who loved her, she saw herself as the richest person on earth.  I count it a privilege and blessing to have been part of a group used by God to seek her out and gain a sister in Christ for eternity! The way to transform our community surely is to go out and to take the church outside the four walls of the building—there is a world in need out there! Thank you, Dawn, knowing you was a gift, and you are an example to us all.

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