Community First Village: Week 15

Easter has always been a big ordeal in my family, but I’ve never approached a Holy Week with such anticipation. I mentioned in an earlier post that Briana and I have observed the Lenten season in our own "Baptisty" way for the past few years. We have found it to be a meaningful way for us to meditate on Christ’s death and resurrection. Over the last few months we have tried to be very intentional about remembering God’s amazing love for us by abstaining from certain things we like, deliberately seeking ways to display God’s love, studying the Word, and praying. It has been a very worthwhile time for us so I would encourage you to give it a shot next year.

The Lord has really been leading us to be more faithful in sharing the Gospel with people especially when it is uncomfortable, and we have had many opportunities to do so recently. One of our neighbors in particular has been repeatedly placed before us to share the Good News. It has been a challenge for me to be faithful when I feel that he will stumble over the fact that Jesus is the truth and the only way to spend eternity with God. We have asked the Holy Spirit to help us be faithful and gracious in our presentation and not to be caught off guard even if it isn’t received well.

We went to visit my parents at the lake on Thursday and Truma was so excited to see her Bunny and Birddog and go swimming. She kept asking if all of the rest of the family would be there and we kept telling her that we would be back in Midland soon to see them. We are continually amazed at the little girl God has given us. We recently switched from a basic children’s Bible to The Jesus Storybook Bible after Truma completely memorized the story of Jonah and the Whale. We felt that her understanding had grown and that it was time to provide her with a more substantial Bible even if it sometimes goes over her head. The best thing about The Jesus Storybook Bible is that every story points to Jesus, just as it should. Several weeks ago, Briana started to sing The Lord’s Prayer with Truma every night before bed. She is now able to sing along and our hearts beam with pride when we hear her singing one of the greatest scripture passages in the Bible.

On Wednesday, I stumbled across an article from The Gospel Coalition called Good Friday in Real Time. It described the timing of the events of Christ’s crucifixion so I put them in my phone as calendar alerts. Since we were at the lake, I knew it was going to be a challenge to observe Good Friday in that setting, but it was important to me to do everything I could to remember His sacrifice.  The alerts kept my mind on the cross, even when we were playing in the lake. I would look around at the surrounding hills and envision the three crosses—my Jesus suffering for me alongside two criminals. At 9:00 AM, the third hour, tears welled up on the boat dock as I remembered them hanging Jesus on the cross over 2,000 years ago. Though it was a deep and emotional experience for me, I knew the reason we are able to call it Good Friday and my heart longed for Sunday.

I saw a sign on a little Catholic church one time that said, “the joy of Easter depends on the rigors of Lent.” While I do not agree with the statement theologically because the joy of Easter doesn’t depend on anything we do ourselves, we should absolutely be living our lives in deep intentional remembrance the resurrection. Sometimes that is easier said than done and after the high of an emotional Easter Sunday worship and drinking my first Topo Chico after Lent, I woke up Monday morning back to the grind of everyday life again.

It is a battle to carry on in the spirit of the Good News. Life is hard! We struggle and suffer, but not even close to what Jesus did for us out of His great love. I am challenged today to continue to look at the cross and the empty tomb and proclaim to myself that He is alive! His grace has paid a price I could never pay which changes everything.

Our sermon this week continued in 1 Peter 1:21, a reminder that because of Christ, the Lord is the only worthy place to put our faith and hope. We tend to put our faith and hope in things of this world—our career, status, wealth, spouses, children, retirement, etc. Everything in the world will let us down but our present trust and future assurance were bought and paid for by Jesus. Put your faith and hope in Him, He will never let you down! That begs the question, “how then shall we live?” The manifestation of the answer will look different for each of you because you were all created for a specific purpose, but God made you with specific intention—seek it and I promise He will show you. Don’t waste your life on things that will disappoint you, set your mind on things of eternal significance.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Matthew 6:19-21 NASB

As we do our best to help Truma write God’s word on the tablet of her heart and train her to seek God’s will, our prayer for her and her little brother is that God would call them to Himself and that they would be saved. All week, we read the passages in her Bible that corresponded with the days leading up to the resurrection. She was very sad to learn that Jesus “had boo boos” and that He died and was buried, but she joined us in rejoicing on Sunday by shouting “Jesus is risen!” all day long.

We all have the tendency to misplace our hope. Oftentimes the object of our hope is a good thing in and of itself but nothing is worthy of our ultimate hope but God himself. I was convicted in our sermon on Sunday that I was guilty of placing my hope in the success of The Field’s Edge. I was reminded that my prize should be to know Christ deeper as He leads me down this road—that I am not called to be successful but I am called to be faithful no matter what. Even if this all turns out to be a big flop, I know that we are chasing after the Lord’s will. I want to approach our calling with the faithfulness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
— Daniel 3:16-18 NASB

God is able to make The Field's Edge a success, but even if He doesn't, we will walk into the furnace of creating a community for the formerly homeless, knowing that He has called us to give our lives in pursuit of it, and most importantly that following Him is worth every cost. What we have set before us is going to be an incredible challenge and there is no way we can do it on our own. God willing and by His power alone, we will lift people off the streets and help change many lives for His glory.

We have less than two weeks before our return to Midland. God has provided in more ways than we can describe and we are so excited to get home and start building the relationships necessary to make The Field’s Edge a reality. The month of May will be full of planning, meetings, and hopefully some rest before we start up Breaking Bread Mobile in June.

I’m really looking forward to hiking Guadalupe Peak again with the Iron Men group from First Baptist on May 6th. Getting out in nature and walking long distances helps me to quiet my mind and listen to the Lord. Some of the most encouraging times along this journey have been on the top of mountains.

If you are interested in our vision, we would love to meet with you. There is much work to be done and we will need a lot of help. You are reading this for a reason. More than our physical needs of funding and land, we need you. Please pray about how God might use you to join us in cultivating home.

 

Prayer Requests:

·      That our neighbor who is seeking the truth would find it in Christ.
·      That our remaining time here would be fruitful and meaningful for our neighbors.
·      Praise for our neighbors who have suffered through so much yet have found their home in Jesus.
·      Continued prayer for our pastor Dr. D and his family as he goes through cancer treatment.
·      A smooth transition back to Midland.
·      Prayer for Midland and that God will help us cultivate home for both the physically and emotionally homeless.
·      Prayer for us as we prepare to say goodbye to all the friends we have made in our time at Community First.

Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.
— C.T. Studd