Mission Possible Conclusion

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I had grand plans to write a great blog summarizing the reports from MISSION POSSIBLE.

For those of you who aren’t ladies, or weren’t part of the last quarter of the year:  Mission Possible was simply the ladies of the house being intentional with the teachers of the house. Connecting with, praying for & stepping in to action to influence regionally.

I sent out 3 questions to each of our group leaders &  3 similar questions to our teachers. As their answers poured in over the last few weeks I realized there was no way I could adequately summarize & re-tell what they had to share!  Their perspectives and experiences were each uniquely incredible & rewarding, here are just a few of their responses.


Practically, what impact did the Mission Possible have on your classes/school?

Andrew:  Practically, I was able to do more activities in my classroom due to the use of the school supplies provided by my group. Also, I was able to maintain a calm, serene attitude due to the supply of tea and the kettle provided by my group.

Daniel’s ask practically was for some of his students who haven’t ever been out of Winston-Salem city limits to be able to go on the field trip this spring through supporting their fundraiser:  “There are three students that we're close to helping go on this trip. It's really been amazing to see their balances go up and hopefully be fully funded within the weeks to come”

Maria: The ladies that were in my group provided me with great supplies like paper towels, Clorox disinfectant wipes, Kleenex tissue and snacks for students that sometimes don't eat. These are all items that I would've had to purchase myself. It was wonderful being able to have so many snacks and tell students how they were donated by women from my church. It was so awesome having multiple students come and be able to choose what snack they'd like for the day. Some students would tell me that they hadn't eaten all day. (These are high-schoolers!)

Stephanie: One of her prayer requests was for Creativity Renewed, and during those 3 months she didn’t really experience any change with that, but as she stepped into 2017 there has been an increase of creativity in her approach in class and it’s exciting!

Practically, she’s now the teacher her co-workers are going to when they need a box of tissues, she has overflow to share!

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How did being covered, spiritually, impact you? Your classes?

Andrea: Being covered spiritually impacted me by helping everyday with daily battles in my mind and thoughts of not making a difference.  

My classes were affected in a positive way as well.  Students were more receptive and more easy-going this year at the start.  One student was in an awful accident at the beginning and I know she has improved more rapidly because of the constant prayers through this group.  

Daniel: I've noticed a shift in the atmosphere for sure. For the most part, all of my students respond positively to me on a regular basis and I've been able to speak life into a few young men's lives. I've also had interactions with students around the school that I would not otherwise come into contact with that have looked to me as a leader. I never asked for that mantle, but God seems to have me placed to do something for these students. 

Stephanie: Those 3 months were a very hard season for her, school was rough, but also family health issues added to the weight she was bearing, knowing that she had a group of people praying for and close at hand to reach out to was a big encouragement.

Specific ladies in the group were perfectly placed by God to help her power through & stand against some in-school adversity she faced during this 3 month span of time.

Maria: Even though as a teacher, I sometimes get tired and feel "burnt out," it seems like I'd get a reminder in my spirit or a random reminder from a student or another coworker about the difference I am making in the lives of the high school students during the time the team was praying for me. It felt really good knowing that others were praying for me and cheering me on.

Andrew: Spiritually, my group covered my school, students, and I in prayer. I received an email every few weeks providing encouragement, either from scripture or a devotional, which seemed to target something I was feeling on that day. I was truly encouraged to know I had others looking out for my spiritual well-being.


 What did you learn/experience through this process?

Andrea: I learned that I need to ask for help when needed, whether spiritual or practical.  

There are people who care and did not know what we as teachers do on a daily basis nor the battles we fight every day.  

I have experienced a new hope through this connection with the church and ladies to continue being a teacher at a not so easy school setting.  

Daniel: As with life in general, it's tough to let go and let God do the work. I find I am more reliant on God for everyday processes both positive and not so positive, which is something I've needed. Recently, there has been some bad spiritual attacks on other teachers and it's started to create division amongst the ranks, but God has somehow protected me from fallout though I have seen the impact. It hasn't been pleasant, but I know my source. 

Maria: It was cool connecting with those who I haven't always talked to outside of "general speaking." Now, I have new connections in particular with Terri and Sabbath. In addition, it also made me feel important and valued when randomly someone in the group would ask how things are going and let me know they are praying for me, my family and my "School Kids." I learned that it's important to make positive connections outside of your normal circle and you never know who's praying for you. This experience also helped me to be open to receiving blessings from others.  I am truly grateful for this experience. Another beautiful part was how the group blessed me for Christmas with some items just for me like a large scented candle, my favorite candy, gift cards, warm slippers, jewelry, Christmas cards and more! I almost cried with the extra time and resources they decided to pour into my life. I haven't received so many gifts at one time from people outside of family since I was a little girl. I truly felt honored and favored by God. Thanks for connecting with us, teachers!  #Grateful

Stephanie: she wasn’t surprised that the season was so hard, because so often when we step in obedience to God’s direction, and become intentional it almost always brings resistance.

She’s thankful for the connections & relationship that was strengthened and formed during this season of Mission Possible.

Andrew: Through this experience, I was encouraged--I had people looking out for me and supporting me in a profession that traditionally does not receive support from the government, administration, or community. It gave me a new sense of purpose.


We then asked our ladies group leaders these questions:

What did you learn from this?

Anita: No need is insignificant, whether it is practical or spiritual.  Our needs are areas where we need help, and that's going to be vastly different for every individual.  None of those should be taken lightly when someone actually puts themselves out there to ask for help with whatever it is.

Donnica: I was reminded of how much of "self" teachers generally give to their students; how they truly care and are saddled with the burdens of so many kids & families. How often their own families get what is left after providing to other families for the majority of their time. It was significant to see how even small gifts and words of encouragement provided support and relief.

Joy:

  •  Leaders/weight bearers will naturally rise to the top.
  • Prayer is the most important thing.
  • Teachers are awesome and incredibly selfless.

Terri: if we all just come together and do a little part in the mission, we will all fit together like pieces of a puzzle to complete our goals and our calling from God!

Allison:

  • I learned better how to lead.
  • I learned how to rely on prayer more since she didn't "need" us in the classroom, just to pray and give.
  • That we have some generous people at our church willing to run with a vision ASAP!

What was most surprising about this mission?

Anita: What the needs turned out to be.  I imagined something very big and complicated, but the needs were simple--not insignificant but not the daunting task I imagined.

Joy: Just by praying & connecting our teacher cried in relief, she knew she was covered & cared for.

Marion:  That I had a picture in my mind of how this would unfold for my group & for my teacher, but it unfolded differently.

Allison: Her wishes for her students, her hopes and dreams for them.   that such a simple thing (like clorox wipes) can help so much

 


What did you experience through this process... practically & spiritually?

Donnica: For me personally, spiritually carrying the responsibility of the group was both challenging and rewarding. It was fulfilling to know that we could play a role in changing the spiritual atmosphere of a place I have never stepped foot & in the home of one of our "family" members. Spiritually seeking God for words of encouragement and prayers for Andrew proved God's faithfulness and that when we ask what is on His heart for a particular person/situation, He will speak.

Joy: Spiritually carrying each others burdens brings us into an intimate friendship and relationship.

Terri: It felt so good to have a group of us lifting Maria and her students in prayer. It was such a positive experience for me to be able to meet some new friends and make a difference in Maria's life and school!

Marion: Our teacher’s practical ask was for his students to be able to go on field trip this spring, and the practical way to make that happen was to support the field trip chicken pot pie sale. The group gladly participated in that (anything to easily help dinner happen some nights!) .  Our team committed to praying for him & to eating chicken pies!  

Spiritually, that God ALWAYS speaks when we talk to Him.  It was great how throughout the 3 months God gave some specific scriptures & words to pray over & for our teacher.

Allison: Awareness of what the teachers need and go through, and what they are praying for their kids. Practically, we saw needs not met by the schools that we were able to meet. Spiritually, we got to press in and learn to continue to press without knowing when they were answered.


I couldn’t break up this reply from Christa:

We are a Title I school that is highly impacted my poverty (physical and spiritual).  Many of our students come from single-parent homes with the other parent being incarcerated or absent.  Less than half of our students are reading on grade level presently, but we are working to change this every day.  The staff has huge hearts for our students and work hard to engage them despite the distractions, but it's a hard job.  Administration, which I am a part of, works hard to keep the hearts and heads of teachers lifted.  So when Angela came to me and asked about the needs of my school, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  

This mission reminded me and the believers on my staff that LOVE DOES (it doesn't just give lip service).  And God sees our needs and anticipates them before we can even ask.   We have a new reading program we are using in GCS this year that is designed to meet the needs of students at their individual reading level.  A large part of building up better readers is getting kids to read more.  The mission supplied monies so that we could buy treats for our students and incentivize them for reading every night.  And it's working!  This past week, we gave out over 500 treats for students who are reading at least 30 min a night...more than ever before.  Students are challenged to "up" their minutes of reading every month and are rewarded for this. Thanks to the ladies of the mission our student’s excitement over reading has been renewed!

I was asked to provide prayer requests for our schools, and the ladies of the mission committed to pray for our students, teachers, parents and administration for about 15 days leading up to Christmas Break.  We were covered in prayer and gained strength during a time we were running out of steam and closing out the 1st semester.  Knowing that we were being prayed over was wind beneath our wings and helped carry us so we could continue to lift our students.  Praise God!

The ladies of the mission supplied treats for staff every day the week before we let out for Christmas Break.   It was AWESOME!  Our teachers were like little kids as they awaited the treat of the day!  They enjoyed homemade cookies beautiful wrapped and tagged with a blessed word.  There were goody baskets in every workroom filled with teas, healthy snacks, notepads, pens, and sweet treats.  They supplied the goodies for a coffee, tea, hot cocoa and popcorn bar (parents came to serve the goodies and they too were amazed at the generosity of the church).  And a catered lunch was provided on the final day!  And every lunch box had a note of affirmation.  . And I am still finding notes stuck to desks, mirrors and filing cabinets!!!  How awesome is that?!!!  I saw smiles and heard people talking about our church in powerful ways ("What an awesome church?" "I have never seen a church do something like this!"  "I need to get my church to do something like this for someone."  "This must be an amazing church--to actually DO something like this for us."). 

Lastly, I want to share about a teacher I've known for 6 years who is on staff.  She claims to be an atheist.  She found me during the week of the staff treats and said that the message attached to the cookie really spoke to her...and the message was about Jesus!  She said she kept thinking about it!  I was so amazed that God spoke to this young teacher through the word and love that was wrapped up with that cookie!  God works in mysterious ways for sure!

The ladies were on a mission to show the love of the Father, touch our hearts, lift our spirits, and reach our kids.  And they did!!!!   Praise God!


Be encouraged sweet friends, God is ALWAYS at work, sometimes in the simplest things! But He is absolutely at work. 

All we need to do to be used by Him is to say yes when He asks us to take a step, to pray for someone, to encourage someone, to simply start a conversation with someone.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out What It Means to Me

“I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone…All I’m asking for is a little RESPECT…” those are the lyrics Aretha Franklin sang as a declaration of her strength and confidence to a man that she never does him wrong and demands his respect. In other words, her actions were enough to earn his honor.

Webster defines respect as a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.

My question is… What if the person isn’t important or isn’t good? What if the person is struggling with the four things our Church has been called to war against – racism, poverty, sexual immorality and religion? What if the person has clearly different political views than us?

Do we not show them respect and only extend grace? The answer is NO!

According to the world’s definition, respect is earned. Yet, the word states differently.

I Peter 2:17 (MSG) “Treat everyone you meet with dignity (respect). Love (respect) your spiritual family. Revere (respect) God. Respect the government.”

Biblical respect isn’t based on a person adding up to what we deem as valuable, relevant or in agreeance with our social stance.

Biblical respect is recognizing that people’s souls are of more value. Philippians 2:3 (NLT) “Be humble (respectful), thinking of others as better than yourselves.”

As we walk out our daily lives, it’s important that we walk out “Christ-like” (Christian) lives that are examples of showing respect to others.

Lives that aren’t filled with the “ifs” or “buts;” on the other hand, lives that reflect Romans 12: 9-1 (NLT): Don’t just pretend to love (respect) others. Really love (respect) them… Love (respect) each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring (respecting) each other.”

                                                                                   Respectfully Your Sister,

Do You Choose to Be Free?

This month’s word is “Freedom.” For me, I can’t help but to say the word and have a moment where I just take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Why? Because for me, freedom is liberty, it’s relaxation, it’s the ability to exist without restraints.

What does freedom look or feel like to you?

When I volunteered to write about this word months and months ago, I’d started jotting down notes – a scripture that blessed me on freedom, a song that ministered on freedom or a devotional that talked about being free. And then I purchased a new phone and lost all my notes (cue horror music).

However, there’s a freedom in that! Now, I’m free to allow God to share with you what He sees as His freedom for you in this season.

Freedom has many definitions:

·         The quality or state of being free: as,

o   the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action

o   liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another

o   the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous

o   boldness or conception or execution

When God directed me to C3 Greensboro nearly three years ago, it was freedom that beckoned me and it’s been freedom that has kept me there. In my past life, I served because “it’s what you’re supposed to do.” I gave because “I didn’t want to get embarrassed.”

However, in being at C3, I pray, I worship, I give and I serve because I’m free to!

You see, before, my acts were self-effort works, I was trying to get to God through rules, regulations and works. On the other hand, when I moved from religion to relationship, it became clear to me that I was meant to live a Galatians 5:13 (MSG) life:

Now, I must be honest and admit it hasn’t been easy. Rules and regulations can hold you back and down, but as I intentionally answer the call of the house to pray, worship, give and serve, it becomes easy to live free.

Being determined to embrace freedom makes it easy to live and breathe the culture for the women of C3 – fun, relevant, friendly, integrity, welcoming, brave, authentic, freedom, respect, honor, and thanksgiving.

Embracing freedom means releasing yourself from things that have been burdensome to you.

If religion, or “churchy” things, has you skeptical about life, then choose to be unrestricted in God. If “church-hurt” has caused you to be overly cautious about people and their intentions, then choose to practice grace and free yourself from that state of thinking.

Until you take that step and choose to live in God’s freedom, life will keep you constrained. Romans 6:19 (MSG) says, “I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing – not caring about others, not caring about God – the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness (dedication to God’s service)?

Now, let’s make a list. What areas of your life feel constrained? What areas of your life feel burdensome?

Next, let’s join together as sisters and placed these things in God’s loving hands. And trust him at his word:

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives
— Galatians 5: 22-23; 25

Loving you freely & there’s nothing you can do about it,

A Choice in Authenticity

I love how God deals so kindly with us. His grace truly is matchless as he brings correction. 

I knew in the back of my mind for a few months that one of my culture words to study on was Authentic… and as I turned my focus on that aspect of our culture in the last few weeks I began to have subtle & gentle nudges from God on where my life is lacking authenticity, or more importantly, when and where the voice of the authenticity in my life wasn’t coming from Him.

Authentic simply means true and honest. 

God has been kindly making me aware of the fact that I can be authentic with voicing the true and honest details of circumstances or of feelings, OR I can be true and honest to give voice to His Word.  The choice is mine.

Circumstances and feelings are true in the moment; God’s word stands true and honest forever. Being authentic to the one brings life, to the other often brings grumbling and discontent.

He has challenged me this month and in the coming months, to be authentic to what His word is saying about my circumstances, about my feelings, my life, my future, and to give voice to those things and not what may be happening in real-time.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk about culture with sweet Judy McIntyre a few months back and when looking at our culture traits she very simply said “these are all attitudes”  and went on to talk about how if we allow God to work on our attitudes we will see significant change in our lives.  So, I challenge each of us, as strong & significant parts of the body here at C3Greensboro, to ask God where our attitudes need adjustments, modifications and evaluations and be quick to obey and move.

On Being Aware

Establishing the culture that God has called us to at C3 is a privilege for all us who call this place home. The words and themes that have been shared so far this year are instructions and ways of life to help cultivate a place where the Holy Spirit is free to move, where people feel welcomed, and help establish heaven on earth in our house.

God showed me as I was preparing to share with you on Awareness that once this culture is realized and ran with, it will spread like a wildfire through our hearts and through the church, and His purpose will be established. I say this to emphasize that these aren’t  just “nice, Christian” things we share to encourage you each month, but ways of life to pick up and run with and evaluate your actions against. Unity is something we cannot attain without God, but He also asks us to participate both practically and spiritually. It’s an honor to partner with Him in such a task as establishing His chosen culture here at C3!

Woo! I’m excited to be a part of this undertaking, and I’m excited to share with you how awareness is part of our culture. Our ultimate goal is to “create a place where God and people are welcome” so let’s talk about awareness of God and people!


Awareness of God

We’ll focus on awareness of God within the walls of our church, but the intention is that we would practice it at church so it can be taken out into the city to bring change to the hearts and lives of others!

As we walk into church for a service, to serve, or for any other reason, it’s a time to ask God to open our eyes, speak to us, and guide us. God has big things on His heart every day, and if we are listening and aware, we get to participate! He may have a new person for us to greet, sit with, and take out to lunch, or He may give us an encouraging word for a friend who is going through a hard season. He may show us a need in an area of serving He has equipped us to step into that day. He may show us trash on the floor or something we could clean or attend to so His house is shiny and welcoming for His kids. He may simply remind us to smile and be thankful.

As we ask God to quiet our minds from our to-do lists, our stress from rushing to be at church on time, or the explosion of goldfish crackers in the car on the way, He is faithful to respond. If this is new to you, don’t worry, we’re all walking it out together! Doing this whenever you walk through the doors at church will teach you and get you into the habit of doing it wherever you go, like work, the grocery store, the gym, etc.

As we become more aware that God is speaking and leading us, our Christianity transforms from a list of do’s and don’ts to a full on moment by moment conversation with our Creator. People transformed by a relationship with Jesus transform cities.

By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.
— Hebrews 10:20-22

Awareness of People

As we become aware of God, He helps us become more aware of people who walk through our doors- and how we can serve them. People will walk into our church with broken hearts and lives, with past hurts from church, with legalism, loneliness, with burdens and spiritual influences on their lives, and so much more. People so desperately want and need Jesus, and they walk into church evaluating if the people there are really like Him and love like Him. We are being equipped to discern spiritual atmospheres to know how to love on these people.

As we become aware of more than just ourselves, how we feel, and our self-imposed limitations, we are freed up to greet these people with a smile. To pray for them if God leads us, to ask questions or share encouragement as the Holy Spirit speaks to us. We talk with people with one ear (and both eyes!) on them, and the other ear towards heaven. Practically speaking, it may mean stepping away from your close friends you so desperately want to catch up with, and go meet some new friends to make them feel welcome.

As we walk into church with open eyes and ears, we notice there’s someone usually sitting at the cafe tables alone, new people wandering around wide-eyed, and people sitting solo in the sanctuary early. We are given this amazing opportunity to partner with God in practical and spiritual aspects to help build the one thing He is set on building- His church. We are given the opportunity to practice the servant life Jesus called us to live, which is so contrary to the world’s culture. We are presented with the privilege to walk people back to the bathrooms instead of point them in the right direction, to buy someone a latte and get to know their story. We are given eyes from Heaven to recognize a child is always wearing the same clothes and offer hand-me-downs or bless the family with a gift card.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
— Philippians 2:3-4

It Takes Effort

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
— Romans 12:2

Although we are citizens of God’s Kingdom, most of us have had the world’s culture ingrained into us. It takes intentionality to put off the ways of the world and learn a new culture. We have to practice tuning into heaven’s frequency; we have to set reminders to pray before we walk into church; give ourselves pep talks that stepping out of our comfort zone is worth it -- it takes some effort, however that may look for you. God is faithful- it’s who He is, He cannot be anything else. He is so pleased with and enthusiastic about you becoming aware of His presence, aware of His kids, and aware of what He might want you to do in a particular moment. This is something I certainly haven’t perfected, but every time I step out God meets me.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
— Hebrews 10:24

It is such an honor to share this with you! I encourage you to start this today, and share your stories of stepping on the Facebook page!

Brave.

"Being brave doesn't mean you don't get afraid, being brave means you don't let fear stop you."

I think we would all agree that David was a pretty brave dude! It almost seems he had no fear at all! But I have to believe that as he walked toward that giant, holding just a sling and a stone, he had a moment of doubt… A fleeting thought of, "can I really do this?" But he never hesitated, because he was committed to the mission.

David said, I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring it’s neck, and kill it. Lion or a bear – it made no difference – I killed it and I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God – alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.
— 1 Samuel 17:34-37

David built up his faith by way of remembering. He recalled his victories in the past – the times he didn't let fear stop him. And he goes on to give all the glory to God stating, "the God who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from this Philistine." This was enough to give him the boldness and bravery to do something that no one else wanted to do – even someone who perhaps appeared more appropriate for the job.

Our pastors here at C3 Greensboro often remind us to write things down, so that we can recall victories we have had; moments of overcoming with God's help. They tell us to write down when we hear from God, reminding us that we do in fact hear. I believe this is partly because we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. We are able to passionately pursue bravery when we remember our triumphs in the past.

At C3 Greensboro we believe we are called to something larger than ourselves. We must embrace bravery in order to walk out the call on this house. There is no room for fear. I am stirred to call to remembrance times when I said no to fear and saw fruit, so that I can bravely pursue what is on His heart for me today, and more importantly, what is on His heart for us as one body.

What if we all committed to being courageous even in the little things? And what if we were committed to cheering each other on in the process?! I think there would be a lot of dead giants laying around...

On Being Welcoming

It was interesting last Sunday.  The foyer of the church was filled with laughter, happiness and joy more so than the norm. It was a sight to see all of the smiles on everyone’s faces before church started.

I then began to think what it would look like if people didn’t carry the attitude of welcoming. How many people would turn around and not come into church because they didn’t feel welcomed?

Just think if you went to someone’s home for the first time and they didn’t invite you in or if they did invite you in, but they didn’t offer you anything to drink or make you feel comfortable. You wouldn’t want to come back and you would question what in the world is wrong with them!

Along Jesus’  journey, He welcomed all people, whether they would receive Him or not. It didn’t matter what you had done, in the process of doing or what you would do, he knew it all and still welcomed all. No matter their size, race or financial status; it didn’t matter to him, he just wanted the person to feel his love and that he cared.

What would happen if we carried the welcoming attitude everywhere we went?

When people feel welcomed they can’t help but to laugh, have joy, smile, be themselves; it just comes with the territory. For our family we felt so welcomed when we visited C3. Everyone we met was genuine and I truly felt that they cared and loved me even though they only talked to me for a few minutes.

From that moment I wanted everyone to feel what I felt when I first came to C3, which is partly why I’m on the greeting team. When I’m greeting I carry the attitude of “welcome to my home” “let me show you around” or “would you like some coffee?”.

Often people are what make the difference in whether folks leave or stay at a church regardless of programs, the worship set or the teaching. The same scenario is why people can stay at a job that they really don’t like doing because they can’t stand the fact of leaving the people -it's how they make them feel.

I challenge you to pay it forward and make the welcoming impact wherever you go.

Integrity Yields a Miracle

When I was contemplating the word ‘integrity’, I told God I was wide open to His thoughts on what I should write and then I decided that I should probably start with defining the word.  In the dictionary, Integrity has 2 meanings:  

1.) the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

2.) the state of being whole and undivided. 

At this point, I waited on God and then He told me very clearly that I needed to share this story from my life with you.

            About 10 years ago, my family had just moved to Florida and I was trying to meet some new friends.  The church we were going to at the time announced an upcoming women’s bible study.  I thought this might be a great gateway to get to know some of the ladies there so I went to the sign up table and picked a class that was using a book I already had.  (In case it was lame.  Just being real!)  I signed up for the class and on the first day I met a lady about my age whose name was Denise.  She seemed friendly and as we told a little about ourselves, I found out that Denise’s 2 year old, Haley, was fighting brain cancer and had been since she was 4 months old.  The next 3 weeks Denise wasn’t in class because Haley had landed in the hospital. 

The next 3 weeks for me would be God tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “You need to be friends with her.”  Finally, I gave in and sent her an e-mail that went something like this:

Hi Denise,

            This is Julie from your bible study class.  You probably don’t remember me and this is going to sound crazy, but I really feel like God wants us to be friends.  If this just sounds crazy, my feelings won’t be hurt if you just ignore this e-mail.  Hope things are going better for Haley and that she is improving enough to come home soon.

Julie

            The next morning I would wake up to an e-mail from Denise that in a nutshell said, “I’m in!” 

Over the next few months and then years, we would become the best of friends and I would learn her story.  When Haley was 4 months old Denise and her husband, Corey, would take her in to the doctor because something was off and find out that their baby had brain cancer.  The doctors gave them no hope, but they chose in that moment to begin declaring that their God is bigger and that He would heal Haley.  I met her 3 years down this road and none of her conviction had changed.  She had seen the amazing hand of God over and over in good ways and the tender compassionate hand of God in hard times.  They would cry out as Haley got sicker.  Through surgeries, a secondary cancer diagnosis, radiation treatments, chemo, being away from family during treatment, fighting for her life, and being ready to let go if it was time, she never lost the hope and solid belief that God is Haley’s healer. 

            I had no idea when I became Denise’s friend that God was asking me to climb with her.  She was facing an overwhelming sheer rock wall and God was saying climb with her!  Can I do this?!  I would find out that I could. With God’s help I began to climb with Denise and I began to come into unity with her for Haley’s healing.  Our friendship would not only carry the integrity of being honest and strong principled, but it would also carry the integrity of being whole and undivided for Haley’s healing.

            It has been 10 years and this past December Denise sent me a text.  You see, every December/January is when Haley has her annual MRI to check her tumors.  We have always believed in integrity for full healing.  Haley is now 13!  She is a survivor!  And the text that I got on December 10, 2015 almost brought me to my knees.  The texts were pictures of Haley’s MRI from before and the current MRI. 

Before

Before

Now

Now

THE CANCER IS GONE!  Not shrunk, not barely there, not stable as we had heard in the past, but GONE!  Amazing God, Thank YOU!

            After 10 years of walking in integrity in this friendship, I got to witness a miracle!  A miracle that I believe was brought about as they surrounded themselves with those of integrity who would climb and come into agreement with them for this day. 

A few scriptures that speak to walking in integrity:

 A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17(NKJV)

“As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 5 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ I Kings 9:4-5  (NLT)

 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You. Psalms 25:21(NKJV)

By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. Isaiah 45:23 (NIV)

Let us all see the power of integrity and the necessity of having it in relationship and as part of our culture.

Friendly

When I saw this month’s culture focus was “friendly,” I thought to myself “oh, that’s nice. Yeah, we should be friendly to each other” and didn’t think much about it. Apparently God didn’t want me to just brush off something so important to the culture of C3! The devotional I’m going through had me in Galatians reading about the fruits of the Spirit:

These words jumped off of the page! The Holy Spirit began revealing to me that friendliness is much more than putting on a smile and being nice to our friends, coworkers, or first time guests at church.

It’s genuine.

It’s a practical outworking of the fruits of the Spirit. It involves submission to the Holy Spirit to allow Him to shine through, even though we might not feel like being friendly.

As women we tend to have big feelings and big hearts. Unfortunately, those big feelings can overshadow what the Holy Spirit wants to do in certain situations if we let them. Our frustration with an outside situation might cause us to feel justified in being short with someone or lack friendliness- however we are actually missing an opportunity to submit and allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us and make us more like Him. We might be missing an opportunity to change the course of someone else’s day.

Every interaction has the potential for us to show Jesus to someone, even if they already know Him as their Savior. Whether we’re talking with a friend at church or an unhelpful customer service rep, we have the opportunity and power to demonstrate Jesus. Friendliness speaks volumes and shifts atmospheres. It acknowledges that God made this person and he or she has great worth. It is a simple and practical way to tell someone that they matter.

A synonym of friendly is “demonstrative,” which means showing feelings, giving proof, and involving demonstration. As we are friendly to those around us, we have the opportunity to give proof that Jesus is real, and to demonstrate God’s love to that person.

Like Pastor Whit always says, some things in the Kingdom don’t depend on your personality. I’m introverted and would rather spend the time before church scrolling through instagram alone at a back table. However, if I give in to that, I’m missing an opportunity to grow with the Holy Spirit and to demonstrate Jesus to someone. If you have the Holy Spirit, you can do all things-which includes being genuinely friendly despite feelings, personality, or circumstances. It also includes being bold and talking to people you might not normally talk to.  

Although Jesus spoke a lot in parables, he makes his feelings on friendliness pretty clear in Matthew:

Apparently, this is a big deal to Jesus, and should not be left to how we feel. :)

If it’s important to Jesus, then it’s important to us. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to people we can show friendliness to. Let’s ask Him for help to flow through us and develop the fruits of the Spirit within us. Let’s ask Him to remind us we are bold and can do all things through Him.

On Being Relevant

One of our C3Greensboro culture traits is that we are relevant. I write that and it makes me stop and think deeper. Sometimes I'm so comfortable saying what I believe, what I'm about, what I value and stand for, without actually knowing what exactly it is that I'm saying I believe. 

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Of course, I know the definition of relevant, though I confess; I did google it just to make sure I did!

However, I realized that maybe I didn’t know exactly how that links to the call of C3Greensboro or honestly, even how it fits into my life. I know that by default there are things in my life that are relevant simply because of the times we live in. For example, I text, snapchat and facetime my friends rather than sending telegrams! There are things I’m relevant in because I’ve researched or learned them, things like fashion styles and trends, music, etc.

Our church is relevant to modern culture in the sense that we aren't very traditional with how we do church. We’re up to date with being on the web; we Tweet, Facebook and Instagram. But I think that being relevant goes deeper than what we look like, how we communicate, the technology we use and what lingo we speak.

After the online definition search, I headed over to the Word of God. I was reminded of where Paul is writing to the believers in Rome:


Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
— Romans 12:2 The Message

To me relevant doesn't mean that I'm in the middle of the "in" or "hip" things, no matter what Pinterest shows me!  It doesn't mean that I'm doing and saying everything that is culturally or socially relevant at any given time, despite the press on every side by social media showing me how, what, when and where I should be engaging in/with culture and what I should think, believe, act and react to.

Being relevant means being aware of the world around me, which means I am aware of the times and seasons I'm living in, both culturally and socially, and running every bit of it through the filter of God's word.

Being relevant means being tuned into the Holy Spirit and forming my opinions, thoughts, beliefs, actions and reactions through the filter of kingdom principles and thought patterns and not through the current culture and social norms.

I've learned that I'm hopeless without fact checking my opinions, beliefs, actions and reactions against the Word of God, the source of life that remains consistent and yes, relevant, from generation to generation. Being relevant means being sure of what it is that I do believe and being able to communicate, relate and engage with people in a real and genuine way without it being dependent on what is "in".

Big picture, as a member of the Body of Christ at C3Greensboro, I believe being relevant means we are relatable people, aware, present and engaged in the culture, not influenced by it, but rather are influenced by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading.  I believe that when individually we are relevant in this way, we together, corporately unite into a body of strangely normal, relatable and relevant people

Fun and Church

Fun and Church. Can you really put both of these words in the same sentence?! 

I once thought that you couldn’t, that “fun” didn’t exist in church outside of the kids and youth ministries.  I was wrong!

I grew up in a nice church with a great pastor and hundreds of kind people, but fun was not part of the church picture.  We could all smile kindly on Sundays and in fellowship times, but laughing and fun were absent.  I associated this style of relationship with my relationship with God.  It was serious and practical and lacking joy.  Dismissing fun from my life had dismissed joy from my relationship with God.   

I never thought of God as fun, but now I KNOW that God is fun! 

How do I know? 

I know because I was made in His image and I’m a lot of fun!  If fun is part of my life, it’s because fun is part of God’s identity.

Think about how much joy can come from a good laugh and time spent with friends.  Those are the times in life that speak truth, encouragement, peace, and love like nothing else can.  Joy is of God, right?  So fun must also be of God.

In the last few years, I have found FUN in fellowship with others, on every day of the week, and of all places in church! 

God created us for fun and joy.  Why else would laughter be such good medicine for all that ails us?  So have fun, enjoy this life, and make sure those around you know that relationship with God is rooted in an all consuming JOY!                                                       

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