The “wily power of my spiritual enemy” has been very apparent lately. Let me begin with what the Lord has shown me in His kindness and work backwards to tell you how I got here. I have been discouraged the past few weeks, but this morning I left the house with a renewed sense of hope and humility which I believe come as a pair. Things on the streets have been exceptionally difficult lately. It seems like every single area and relationship has been attacked. On the street I have seen a significant increase in drug use, anger, entitlement, health issues, abuse, and all manner of sin and brokenness. Across the board in my life, sin has ravaged so much and caused me great sadness. On a personal level, we have dealt with family issues, physical pain, and depression. What I didn’t realize was that pride snuck in with the heartbreak.
Many of you are aware that last week the former Executive Director of Breaking Bread was arrested for stealing over $340,000 from the organization. When I found out, I was shocked and angry. I wondered how anyone could steal money from the poor; my homeless friends. I would never do that. Pride.
In the middle of the week there was a young mother struggling with addiction on the street. Her child was with family and supposedly safe. Briana and I felt led to offer to keep the baby so the mom could get help, but the mom left town. I wondered how she could refuse an offer for help and keep doing the same old thing. I would never do that. Pride.
Showing up to help a struggling street church we were confronted by a homeless friend who was angry about the state of the church. He felt abandoned and uncared for, and he took out his anger on those of us who showed up to love as best we could. I wondered how someone could scream and berate my wife, another lady, and me. I wondered why someone would act in a way that would cause me to feel that my family was in danger when all we were trying to do is help. I would never do that. Pride.
I could go on and on...
The truth is, apart from the grace and mercy of God, I would do all of those things and worse, and so would you. So instead of casting stones, let’s pray for those who fall to fall on Jesus, and praise God that he has kept us from being given over to our sin. Let's show that we have personally witnessed the transforming power of the Almighty God. Let’s show the unbelieving world that no one is beyond the saving grace of the Lord. Paul, the author of most of the New Testament said himself in 1 Timothy that, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Me too Paul...me too.
Pride is an ugly thing. While pride was at the root of the above situations, I had fallen into it myself. You see, this week the enemy has been whispering to me in so many ways that I am wasting my time. That all the work I am doing is in vain. That these people are hopeless and I should just quit. I have been so discouraged; having a pity party for myself. But God in His mercy brought some new friends into my life that shared the story of how God had brought them from the darkness of sin to the light of salvation; from death to life through the transforming power of Jesus. How quickly I forget how God rescued me from the domain of darkness undeserved. He gave me a new heart and adopted me into His kingdom not according to anything I did, but according to His great mercy. I too was on the path to death, but God sovereignly intervened on my behalf. He saved me, and He will continue to save others. This is the basis of my hope.
I consider it a great blessing that God has reminded me of my humble position. It brings every area of life into its proper frame. Humility allows me to continue to love those who are hard to love because Christ loved me while I was His enemy. Humility enables me to forgive because Christ has forgiven me more than I will ever be asked to forgive anyone else. Humility causes me to credit every good thing in me to God. Humility makes me want others to be transformed by Him because I have been transformed by Him.
I posted a John Piper quote the other day, “The Lord measures the faithfulness of our labor, not our success”. Praise Him for that. Although I don’t realize it, pride creeps in to my motivations. I love the homeless and care for them deeply but I want to see results. I want change. I want progress. And when those things don’t come I get disappointed and discouraged. Instead of chasing measurable success, God has given me the opportunity to be faithful and trust Him with the results. Everything I can give is not enough anyway. God must do the transformational work. If I think otherwise, I’ll burn out of this ministry in a heartbeat. I would appreciate your prayers for perseverance and steadfastness; that I would be faithful to what God has called me to do and trust His plan and His timing.
In the midst of the spiritual battle we fight every day, there has been great progress in both the Community Farm and the Tiny House Village. We have been trying to get on the agenda for the City Council about the Community Farm but the date has been moved back several times. We would appreciate your prayers as we are currently scheduled to go to the Council on July 24th to propose the downtown Farm. This will be located on City property on the corner of Florida Ave and Loraine St. We are beginning the capital campaign for the Downtown Community Farm and hope to be breaking ground out there in the next couple of months. We need your financial support but more than that we want you to enjoin your heart to our mission to cultivate home for the homeless. As far as the Village goes, we are finalizing the land donation of 22.5 acres and working on getting everything prepared for the City platting process. We have good indication that our City Council supports the Village idea and I hope to have the deed in hand and the land approved in the next couple of months also.
Thanks for sticking with us and for your continued prayer and encouragement.