Tag Archives: Elevatedetroit

A homeless man’s prayer

I just finished an interview with CBS channel 62 at the new Elevate Detroit CommuniD BBQ park. I’ve got a cold. So on Facebook this morning I asked for prayers during the interview. While there a homeless man came and sat on one of the benches and said, “Hallelujah, thank you Lord for sitting on this bench.”

As I was leaving I waved at him and he waved back. I walked over to say hi. As I came close I could hear him talking, but couldn’t understand everything he was saying. Then he waved me off and said, “I can’t talk right now, I’m praying for you.”

My friends, you haven’t lived until you walk up and overhear a homeless man privately praying for protection and provision for you!

God is so amazing!

Thank you, Lord! I needed that today.

Giving Back

Dynamite:

“Giving back means giving all; any inferior definition is pure deception. Our money, our resources, our gifts, our time, our dreams, our selfish ambitions, our comfort — these we give back in their entirety. Anything less is not discipleship at all. It is simply a clever substitution by a crafty enemy who has figured out how to use our own weaknesses against us, rocking us to complacent sleep with a consumer version of the gospel and knowing all the while he is making goats out of sheep.” – Brandon Hatmaker (Barefoot Church, pg. 113)

Boom.

No rain… Again!

Matthew 8:26 (NIV)

“He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”

Mark 4:39 (NIV)

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

So often I’ve read this passage and pictured that night out on the water.  I used to arrogantly and piously scoff at the disciples.  “Look how dumb they were.”  “How could they still not get it?!”  “How could they not understand that they were safe with him?!”

I’ve grown since then though… a little.  The verses just before this are Jesus teaching them how much it will cost them to follow him.  He tells them they will be homeless.  He tells them they will have to miss important, meaningful family moments.  He’s teaching them it will cost them their livelihoods, possibly their families and surely their plans.

He hasn’t given them any comfort.  And shortly thereafter, here they are… on a lake in a furious storm in a boat that’s about to be swamped.  They’ll drown.  Danger is all around.  And they run to him.  They wake him.  They beg him.

They don’t doubt his ability to save them like I used to think.  What they doubt is his awareness of the situation.  And they seem to have an idea of how he will save them when they ask.  I’m curious to know what they were expecting.  Maybe they were expecting him to raise the boat out of the water.  Maybe they expected the water to suddenly be held back from over the rails of the boat, similar to Moses crossing the Red Sea and God holding the water back.  Or maybe… they were expecting him to calm the storm.

Whatever their expectations of his actions, they were afraid.  Stressed.  Terrified.  And they were begging him for help.

In five years of CommuniD BBQs, I have no idea how many times God has calmed the storms for us.  I have seen clouds part, literally.  I have seen rain inexplicably surround a park without falling on it.  Twice.  Countless times we have seen and reaped the benefits of those words, “Quiet! Be still!”

Last Saturday.  It was raining.  The forecast called for heavier rain as the day went on.  No relief.  No hope of a break in the storm.  Just cold, miserable rain.  We had three CommuniD BBQs scheduled for the day; Detroit, Hazel Park and Southfield.  I got phone calls from all three leaders asking what to do, when to call it off, etc.  Three leaders who’ve watched these storms calm in the past with me all concerned, maybe even afraid that we’ll get rained out.  I talked them through it, encouraged them, reminded them of miracles of the past and God’s faithfulness in the present.  At the end of the day, all three events happened.  Not a drop of rain fell where it wasn’t supposed to.  Not an once of falling water was left to disrupt God’s plan for the day.  A miracle.  Again.  Amazing.

This Saturday.  It’s raining again.  It’s grey.  It’s cold.  It’s miserable weather.  The rain wasn’t supposed to let up until at least 4:00 pm.  It looked like it would linger on long past then.  We had two CommuniD BBQs scheduled for the day; Detroit and Pontiac.  I looked outside and thought, we might get rained out today.  Again, I got calls from leaders.  Again, anxious, nervous, expecting the rain to continue.  Again, I reassured them reminding them of God’s faithfulness in the past.  What they didn’t know was that this time, I was feeling the same way as they were.  I was nervous.  I was afraid.  I was grasping onto those memories with them.  I was needing the reminders every bit as much as they did.

With the shakiness in my soul of a one year old walking, in faith I continued to encourage them (and me).  I set out from living in Pontiac to drive to Detroit.  Wipers on.  Heat on.  Cold rain.  Answering calls, replying to texts and when no one else was asking me, I was still praying, hoping… no rain.  “Lord, I’m trusting you against my gut instinct of fear.  I will speak in confidence that you will again calm the storms; hoping you do.”

We are such forgetful people.  We are so quick to lose our faith.  We are so quick to be afraid.  And we run to him saying, “Lord, our event will drown!  Don’t you care?  Won’t you help us?  Aren’t you paying attention?”  I don’t think he was bothered that the disciples asked him for help.  They needed help.  What he rebukes them for is their fear and lack of faith.

I can scoff at their lack of faith all I want.  I mean, they could see Jesus right in front of them after all.  But I am every bit as deserving of that scoffing myself.  I may not yet have seen Jesus physically in front of me.  But I have seen the fruit of his words, “Quiet! Be still!” countless times.

So today… AND last week… God held back the clouds!!  In these last 2 Saturdays we’ve seen over 500 people share a meal together.  There have been 5 CommuniD BBQs in 4 locations with 14 partnering groups.  It’s been an incredible couple weeks!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen God work miracles with the weather on Saturday afternoons.  Five years and we’ve cancelled only 4.  That’s quite a track record of good weather!  And yet every time I can hardly believe it!  Our God still calms the storms!  And He creates space for His Body to form and love at a common table.

My God… YOU ARE AMAZING!!

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)

Becoming Less

Yesterday was amazing.  Spent the day with Detroit Reverse.  They made a film about me that brought me to tears.  I’m humbled beyond words.  I’m amazed and so thankful at the work God has done in and through me and those around me.  I don’t deserve it at all.  Alexa Courtney, Amanda Sadlier, Pat Zeigler and the team did an amazing job making it.  Thank you so much to Amanda Vizzini, Lindsey Fischer and John Azoni for saying such kind words and doing what you do.  In the afternoon we had a CommuniD BBQ with Detroit Reverse students.  It was a powerful experience for all of us.  Getting to talk with the students afterwards was truly moving.