Serving at Winter Relief as a Family

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At the end of last October, I took my family to serve for one evening of the Winter Relief program. It was a very remarkable experience and as I reflect back on it, there are three main takeaways that made a huge impact on my family. 

First and foremost, there is power in serving Jesus together as a family.

The world has a way of sucking me into believing that I am the center of the universe—that it’s all about me. Often I end up translating that into my family too! My world begins to revolve around my family and my priorities become my wife’s needs, my kid’s needs, schoolwork, soccer practice, family dinner and girl scouts. These are all wonderful and important activities. But serving as a family is different.

We prepared two large honey baked hams, then brought them to church and helped serve the homeless people who had gathered there. Doing tangible service as a family together meant that everything else had to be put on hold and serving other people took priority. It was a challenge and each person had to sacrifice something they’d rather be doing in order to serve. That’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about, choosing to follow him instead of my own desires.

Second, my children got to see me model service.

The reality is that my family is always watching me. They take notice of everything; what I do, what I say, what I like, what excites me, and my attitude towards something. Sadly, I often fall short in the example I want to set for my children and my wife. But this was one night where I felt confident in saying, watch me and do what I do. As I began to truly enjoy serving and interacting with the people at Winter Relief, my family followed suite. Soon I looked over at a table and saw my daughters (aged 9 & 6) taking seats next to a lonely young girl sitting by herself, offering to get her a drink. My son (aged 16) was doing a wonderful job serving everyone who came through his line. My wife was bringing people anything they might have missed like utensils or napkins. 

Third, my family was able to encounter real world brokenness and offer the love of Jesus in response.

Before we went to serve for the evening, my wife and I had to have some meaningful conversations with our children about the homeless. They don’t encounter homeless people very often. While all humans experience disappointment and brokenness, homelessness is a very upfront and external brokenness. I wanted to teach my children that it doesn’t matter if the brokenness is internal and hidden well or external and visible to all, the answer is the same. When people are in need, Jesus calls us to serve them in whatever way we can to reveal him.

 

Serving at Winter Relief was undoubtedly a meaningful and positive experience for my family. Even though we had to step outside our comfort zone and make some small sacrifices to get everyone there. In the end, we were able to do something to tangibly serve others and we had some wonderful and very meaningful conversations along the way.

At that moment, when my whole family was serving together, I couldn’t have been more content.

 


 

Winter Relief will be here again soon! There is a big need for Severn Runners to fill—bringing food, cooking, serving, and most of all connecting with our guests. This is an amazing opportunity for our church community to Love Well and Live Jesus! Get more information and sign up to fill a need when you follow this link:

YES!
I’M HELPING WITH
WINTER RELIEF!

 

Prayer Is The Window Through "Impossible!"

Prayer is the window

Too often we confuse magic with prayer. Magic is instant. Magic is showy, we just kind of wave a wand and it happens -but that's not supernatural!

Prayer is for THROUGH and not around!

Prayer is the window through, but we want around! So many of us, on our journey, have been stopped by Satan because we prayed about something and God didn't lead us around. I gotta tell you, God rarely does around!

God does through, and this is what we see in all of the life of Jesus!

Have we missed the heart of how God works? God is not an around God, He's a through God! Go back and read Luke 22:39-46, and look how Jesus had to go through every moment of the crucifixion.

You can't get to the resurrection without going through the cross!

You can't get to heaven without going through the hardship of a broken world!

And the truth is, we need to come back to through and understand that Daniel had to go through being dropped into rocks in a stinking cave in Daniel verse 6:16. And I know that because in the end, it tells us they had to lift him up out of the cave!

Daniel prays: and God's salvation and deliverance is not to have the king change his mind or to have Daniel avoid being dropped in a hole! Daniel's prayer didn't resolve impossible before he faced it, but as the clock ticked, moment by moment, through, through, through -Daniel prayed!

Then after all of this comes the question of the ages: “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20

Guys, at some point and 100 times over, you're going to have to decide in your life -Is God able? Is my God able? Will I trust him and will I pray "through?"

Will I believe that the impossible isn't?
No matter how things look to my eyes?
No matter how things sound to my ears?
No matter how things feel to my senses?

No matter how huge the storm is on my emotions, I will open the window of prayer and see through it all and see my Savior, Jesus Christ, who showed that the way through impossible is to a resurrection! -Dr. Drew Shofner

To Receive Father's Forgiveness Means That We Must Forgive

Ephesians 4:32

Luke 11:4 says, "and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."

Now, this is a difficult thing to do. It's one of those things that sound easy but is very, very difficult. It's been said that forgiveness is kind of like drinking poison to punish someone else.

We all have people who hurt us. We all have people who have been unjust toward us and in our heart of hearts, we demand justice for them! But we don't want justice for us -and there's the rub. 

Our Father of grace has offered us unimaginable mercy in letting go of our sins. And so when we come to Father, and we come to Him in the name of Jesus, and the blood of the cross is our appeal, we're acknowledging the super high cost that God has paid to provide our forgiveness. 

It is a cost higher than anyone has cost us, and so to receive Father's forgiveness it means that we must forgive!

In Matthew 7:7, the scripture says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." 

Well, I want then to use a very generous measure of forgiveness toward others, that Father might use that same measure toward me! It is impossible to follow Father, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus with bitterness, with anger, with malice and an inner demand for justice. 

And then there's Mathew 16:15 which kind of seals the deal in terms of the absolute non-negotiable, uncompromised demand of Father -that we forgive if we want to walk in His forgiveness. Jesus said very, very clearly, "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

So why in the world would we want to carry the poison of hell when we are offered the grace of Heaven? 

Believing that we serve an infinite God means that we can give our deepest wounds and unjust experiences in life to God in Jesus' name and know that He can redeem. That He will redeem and that in all things, He will work for good! Dr. Drew Shofner

Praying as a Family

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“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14

People often have an idealized idea of what praying as a family should look like. In a perfect world, praying with children would be easy. We would sit around the table with our well behaved children (who would have perfectly clean faces and perfectly ironed clothes), we would all hold hands and bow our heads, and even the youngest would remain quiet during this time of intersession with God.

But is this obviously not a perfect world, and I don’t know about your family, but my kids are loud. They usually have the remnants of their most recent meal on their clothes and they rarely sit still for anything other than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. My house is one monkey short of being a circus. So it can be a struggle to find, or more importantly, make time to teach our young ones to talk to Jesus. But find that time we must

When I was in college I went on a mission trip to East Africa. Our group spent months preparing for this trip. We would get together as a group to learn about the people we would meet and learn about their culture. We practiced how to speak to a group using an interpreter and we had amazing prayer meetings. One of my favorite things we would do during the prayer meetings is, we would pray with our eyes open, we would pray as if God were a tangible person sitting in the room with us. It felt strange at first, certainly not how I prayed when I was growing up, but it taught me that prayer can happen at anytime in any place. My understanding of prayer grew. It showed me another way that prayer can be an extremely intimate and powerful act of group worship.

I have taken this approach and applied it to my own “group”. My family.

My children have a tendency to be intimidated by the thought of talking to The Lord. They think there are certain words to say, a specific way to pray. While I want them to have an attitude of reverence and awe, I also want them to understand that they are God’s children and he delights in them. Even when they thank him for every single one of their favorite toys and it takes 5 minutes to list them all. I want them to simply get used to talking to God, whether that be around the table thanking him for our food or telling him about their Barbies and dinosaurs.

5 Ways to Pray as a Family

 

1. Set aside intentional time to pray together.

Set aside a regular time to pray with your kids or spouse. For my family, this is usually while we are driving to school in the morning or before bed at night. Praying for their safety at school, praying for the teachers and their friends is a great way to kick off the day. At night, we pray once everyone is in bed. The kids will (hopefully) be starting to settle down and it just seems like a natural time for children to open up and talk about whats on their hearts.

2. Pray spontaneously.

If you see a car accident, say a prayer out loud for those involved. If your kids are testing your patience, stop and let them hear you telling God how much you love them even when your tired and frustrated. If you can’t find the car keys, say a quick prayer together about it.

3. Let them see you pray on your own.

Get on your knees in front of your couch, let them see what it looks like to be in communication with the Lord throughout the day. You set the tone and the example for your children in your home.

4. Make a prayer chart or jar.

Make a chart and keep it in a visible place in the house or make a prayer jar. Get a jar or mug and fill it with strips of paper with people and things to pray about. Keep it on the kitchen table, during dinner take turns praying about whatever topic is picked. 

5. Give thanks for answered prayer.

Make a point to give thanks and celebrate answered prayer. Its important for children to understand that God answers prayers.

 

Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can communicate with the Lord, and helping our children understand that and participating as a family is an amazing blessing.

Prayer Is The Way The Lost Get Found

Jeremiah 37

Father loves the lost, and prayer is the way the lost get found. 

When we pray, God does something in us and something through us! 
When we pray, we enter into the presence of God and if you go there often enough and you pray with all of your heart, and if you do not give up, you will be changed through prayer! 

Cold can't come into the presence of hot and not become warm. You cannot bring your life, with all of its pain, into the presence of healing without being healed! You cannot bring hopelessness into the presence of immeasurable hope without hope alighting in your life!

Physical battles are fought in physical ways that require knowledge and insight. 

Spiritual battles are fought in ways that require even more knowledge and insight and the truth is that in the battle of the ages between heaven and hell, between lost and saved, we know the enemy's battle plan! 

We know how Satan keeps people lost. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says,  "The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

They don't understand the message about the glory of Christ who is the exact likeness of God and so in a world where God has come, people say "where is God?" In a world in which love has demonstrated itself in the most sacrificial, selfless way imaginable we say "where is love?"

Why? Because Satan has blinded them. 

So now we know the enemy's battle plan but if we will start regularly and faithfully specifically praying for lost people - they will be saved! I believe we will see a supernatural wave of faith rising in the salvation of hundreds of men and women and boys and girls because no one is unreachable -no one!  

You know, it's not a coincidence that God chose Saul (the Apostle Paul) to be the twelfth replacement disciple! It's not a coincidence that God chose the hardest head. The furthest out, most radical opponent of Christianity in the day and said, "I'm going to show you the power of the Gospel. I'm going to take the person that you would say would never bear my name and he's going to bear my name most beautifully and brilliantly over all!" (Paraphrased)   That wasn't for no reason that God did that. And so I just want to say to you that no one is unreachable! 

Jeremiah 32:27 says, "I am the Lord, the God of all mankind, is anything too hard for me?" And the answer is no! 

When we pray God works in us and changes us and then when we pray, God changes external reality as well. Prayer is the way the lost get found and when we become a house of prayer and we pray for lost people, we will begin to see many men and women and boys and girls come to know Jesus in ways that we have not seen before and it will be the power of God's Spirit doing this -because we prayed! -Dr. Drew Shofner 

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