Tag Archives: Elevate Detroit

No rain

This is the second weekend in a row where it was raining in the morning and they were calling for more rain throughout the day… and God held back the clouds!! In those 2 Saturdays we’ve seen over 500 people share a meal together at 5 #CommuniDBBQs in 4 locations with 14 partnering groups. Because our God still calls the storms… And creates space for His Body to form and love at a common table. My God… YOU ARE AMAZING!!

Easter in the Park

I have a friend. For this post, I’ll change his name. Let’s call him John. This is not because this post will be inflammatory by any stretch. It is simply because I haven’t asked him if I can share this story.

John is born and raised in Detroit. John is in his early 20s. John is on parole and he won’t tell me what for. John is homeless. Though he has family in the area, he can’t live with them. He often stays with friends so he doesn’t have to sleep on the streets. John runs drugs sometimes to make money. As a young, African-American felon on parole in Detroit, this is his only foreseeable option. No, it’s not a good thing to do. But I’d like to see you do something different in his situation.

John is smart. John is witty. John enjoys being the life of the party and revels in the spotlight. John loves reading Psalms and has several memorized. John also enjoys singing. On at least one occasion, John has led others (including myself) to the throne in singing worship at a CommuniD BBQ in Detroit.

The Saturday after last Easter.

I was at the CommuniD BBQ in Detroit. I was sitting with John and we were eating. I asked John if he did anything special for Easter; went to church, had dinner with his family, anything. This is what he told me,

“Well I worked Saturday night (which means he was running drugs). I got off about 8:00 Sunday morning. I knew it was Easter and that’s a really big day for churches. So I figured none of the churches would be here with people in the park. I had a pocket full of cash from working and nothing to do. So I went to the store, bought a loaf of bread, some ham and some mustard. And I came here to the park and made sandwiches for anyone who was here and we just kind of ate together.”

As he told me this, I was more than moved. I was speechless. I was thrilled for him. He was sharing with others as there was need. He was focused on others instead of himself. He was living out the call of Jesus in his life. Yes, he got the money from running drugs. But how many of us make our money from indulging and profiting off of the gluttony or materialism of others? This friend of mine was beginning to take steps in the way of Jesus and I was inspired by him.

Our conversation went on from there and was good. I’ve thought about that story and shared that story many times over the last year.

This past Saturday night I was in Charleston, SC. I was talking with a guy in his early 20s who has been dreaming of creating community like elevate Detroit and Micah 6 Community are. He’s never seen anything like what he’s been dreaming about. He’s never heard of it and he’s never heard of anyone else doing it. Needless to say, our conversation was a powerful one. He was thrilled, inspired and excited to learn of others doing similar things to what he’s been feeling called to create. It was inspiring and so encouraging to me to get to be a part of that with him.

I told him the story of my friend John that I shared above. And then I said, “You tell me. Who was more like Jesus that day? We, the church people worshipping God in our buildings with our worship services? Or the homeless drug runner that gave all he had to share what he could with others in need. Where was Jesus that morning?”

Then it hit me. Easter Sunday was right around the corner. And it was about to happen again. “I knew it was Easter and that’s a really big day for churches. So I figured none of the churches would be here with people in the park.”

Ouch.

And where would Jesus be?

Ouch.

And what were my plans for Easter?

Ouch.

So here’s the plan… Let’s not be the same church that worships a homeless man on Easter and neglects the homeless man we claim to be friends with and love.

This is not a CommuniD BBQ on Easter Sunday. This is a worship service at 2nd & Selden. And we need your help.

We will sing songs of worship to our resurrected savior.
We will hear a short Easter message.
We will share communion.
We will share a light lunch.

We need help on Easter Sunday, but we also need help getting ready in the days before. If you’d like to be a part, please call: (313) 444-0463.

For more information, join the event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/241288699301917

— We need chairs. Bring your folding chairs, your lawn chairs and your dining room chairs.
— Lunch will be ham and cheese sandwiches and bottles of water.
— Please don’t bring extra food than that. The focus will be easy to distract from celebrating the resurrection of Christ. And we don’t want that to happen.
— We need people to get together Saturday evening and make the sandwiches ahead of time.
— We need someone who will take pictures and video. Actually, we need a couple people.
— We will need people who will serve communion.
— We may need someone who can lead us in singing worship (waiting to hear back from someone now).

Be

God made man in his image. We are human beings. We are created to reflect God’s love character; his love and grace and peace. In Genesis it says God made us in his likeness. We are created like him. We are not his equal, but we are created like him.

The promise of Satan is that we could be like God. Like him. What an empty promise. The strange part is that it isn’t empty because it isn’t real. It’s empty because we already are. We were created to be like Him in the first place.

This reminds me of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. He offers to give Jesus everything in the earth. He offers to give him the Kingdoms of the world. But they were already his.

Thank God Jesus was smarter than Adam. Thank God Jesus was smarter than Eve. Jesus saw through the empty promises of a fallen angel. He didn’t need to be given the world. He didn’t need to be given the Kingdoms of the world. He already had them.

I think the reason Jesus didn’t fall for the same old tricks is because he knew who he was. He wasn’t trying to be someone he wasn’t. He knew who he was. Adam didn’t remember who he was. He forgot he was created in the image of God. He forgot who he was.

May we never forget, may we never question, may we never lose sight of who we are. It’s good to be who we are. Be who you are.

Being Jesus

“Everyone needs compassion. A love that’s never failing.”

I love this song. It’s one of my favorites.

I’ve probably sung it a hundred times.  Maybe more.

This is Friday night though. Normally I may sing it on a Sunday.  I may sing it on a Wednesday.  But I bet this is the first time on a Friday.  Certainly the first time the night before a CommuniD BBQ. 

Read those two lines again:
“Everyone needs compassion.  A love that’s never failing.”

We all do don’t we? I know I certainly do.

Tomorrow, when we each get together at 2nd & Selden, let’s look at each other and everyone we see throughout the day with those eyes.

“Everyone needs compassion.  A love that’s never failing.”

The next line says, “Let mercy fall on me.”

Lord, let mercy fall on us. And let us pour it out as an offering to you.  Let each of us experience your mercy and unfailing love through each other’s compassion freely shared amongst every one present at 2nd and Selden.

Assessment completed awaiting results

I’m sitting in a hotel in Indianapolis.  I’m sort of half lying actually.  It’s 10:00 pm.  I have completed a church planting assessment.  To say it was exhausting is to mislead.  It was something more.  To say it was intense is an understatement at best.

Some potential church planters here I wouldn’t consider planting with.  Others I’d be thrilled and honored to plant with.  Vision 360 has sent Diallo and Jameel Smith, Dan and Amanda Sadlier and me all to this assessment at the same time.  I am honored and privileged to be counted in the likes of such great leaders as these.

I remember the day God called me into ministry.  It was November 23rd, 2002.  I had been intensely praying for about two years that God would show me what to do with my life.  On this particular evening, after quite certainly the most emotional day of my life, I finally got my answer.  The following is how the prayerful conversation went,

Me: “God, I’ve been asking you for two years now!  I’ll do anything; just tell me what you want me to do!  I’m tired of waiting!”

God: “I want you to be a pastor.”

Me: “No.  I can’t do that.  Remember?  I thought about that once before.  I can’t do that.  No.”

God: “You’ve been asking me for an answer and I’ve given it to you.  This is what it is.  Are you in or are you out?”

Me: “You’re right, I have been asking and you have answered. (Long pause for thought)  Ok, I’m in.  But you’re going to have to work some real miracles in me if this is going to happen.”

When talking to a counselor last night as one of our interviews I told him I used to be extremely shy, introverted and depressed.  As a psychologist, I expected him to be able to pick up on that.  Perhaps even be able to point out ways it still shows.  But he was shocked.  He said, “Really?!  Wow.  Well I would never have guessed it.  You’re so relationally oriented and open.  So unguarded.  I would never have been able to tell.”

As difficult, exhaustive and trying as this assessment has been, it’s been fun.  Not fun because we did fun things.  Fun because of the challenge.  Fun because I have thoroughly enjoyed the testing, examining and prodding.  Whatever the assessment results are tomorrow I know this… this is my calling.  There’s no other reason I could have gone through the last 3 days and be energized in my soul.

God has indeed worked those miracles.  So many miracles.  Miracles before my eyes, sure.  Lots of them.  But most impressively are the miracles he’s worked inside of me.  When I think about my life now compared to then, it’s hard to comprehend.  I am truly a new creation in Christ.  Thank you Lord for the renewal of all things.  Thank you Lord for the renewal of me.  I really have been born again.  Thank you my Lord.

Mack and Outreach Love

I spent this afternoon at the CommuniD BBQ in Detroit. It’s August 13th, 2011. Today’s high is 80°F. Mostly sunny. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Today I met a man named Mack. Scratch that… today I met a friend named Mack. I’ve actually met him many times before, but never remembered his name. After today, I will never forget his name.

Mack is 26 years old. He will turn 27 on October 1st. Mack is African-American. He is probably 5′ 10″ tall; a little heavier than average build. He’s a good size to hug. Mack has a sweetness about him. It’s a childlike innocence. To meet Mack is to like him. To talk with him is to love him. I cannot help, but see Christ in his smile. It’s beautiful. He is beautiful.

Mack is currently homeless. Mack stays in a shelter in Cass Corridor. Mack comes to the CommuniD BBQs just about every week. He has for some time.

Today Mack read me a song he wrote. He has chords written out and everything. The song is called Outreach Love. Mack wrote Outreach Love to describe his experiences at CommuniD BBQs at 2nd & Selden.

I hope to be able to post the lyrics to his song soon. For now, I’ll say two things about it:
1. I was in tears after hearing it.
2. The only line I remember goes something like, “No one looks at me like I’m broken.”

To anyone who may read this… success. If the last four plus years of BBQs through winter and summer alike had no other benefit whatsoever, but to give Mack the experience of being seen by God as not being broken… success. Because in Christ, Mack is made whole. In Christ, I am made whole. In Christ, Mack is not broken. In Christ, I am not broken. In Christ, Mack is healed of his brokenness. In Christ, we are all healed of our brokenness.

God,

Thank you for Christ. Thank you for Mack. Thank you for Christ in Mack. And thank you for Christ in me. Thank you for healing our brokenness through Christ and His body… us.

I hope to post full lyrics to Outreach Love soon.

P.S. Get ready for one SERIOUS birthday party on October 1st.

Mack, Heather, Morgyn and friend last summer (8/7/10)

2 of 2 Posts of Thoughts on the Detroit Reverse BBQ

Last Tuesday was a fantastic afternoon. 50 students and leaders from Detroit Reverse walked from Wayne State to 2nd & Selden. There were about 250 people at the BBQ total. A homeless man named David helped show about 5 students how to grill and together they cooked the food for everyone. All told there were 400 hot dogs and 240 hamburgers cooked and eaten by everyone there.

All of the students did an awesome job connecting with people and engaging in conversations all over the park. It was both encouraging and inspiring to see kids from the city and suburbs alike side by side moving, doing and loving in the Kingdom of God in Detroit. If those students are at all a sign of things to come, this city and region are in for much greater things than this.

What started 4 years ago as a wild idea thrown out amongst friends was met with a shrug and a “let’s try it.” We had no idea what God had in mind.

Today that wild idea has transformed into a movement of the Holy Spirit that is helping to reshape the way you, I and a lot of our brothers and sisters in Christ see the world, our region and most importantly, God’s people. None of it would happen without every one of you stepping up in all sorts of roles and helping wherever God calls us.

I am so honored to serve our precious Christ alongside each of you. Truly, thank you for obeying your calling, joining arms with each other and myself and fighting the dark one for the hearts and lives of God’s people and God’s city.