Friday, December 13, 2013

3 Year...And Counting

Wow!  3 years, over 75 visits every other week since Thanksgiving day 2010.  We have been blessed to have support and encouragement from so many individuals and organizations.  If we listed everyone out, this blog post would be way too long…one very special person, Mrs. Lynn Winters, has been especially consistent and faithful to our ministry.  Thank you Lynn!!


When I look back on the 3+ years of planning, praying and putting feet on the street, I think of two words: perspective and reality. 
Perspective because when we see what we see regularly, we are reminded of how blessed we are—even in our own individual struggles and issues—to have the standard of living that isn’t a guarantee.  Perspective to be constantly reminded, and to remind others, that our treasures are stored in heaven;  perspective to appreciate raising children who have clothes, shelter and meals, schools and parental involvement, Godly examples of moms and dads, and the confidence of knowing where home is.  We gain perspective in lots of little things:  when it’s hot or cold, we can simply adjust a thermostat and within a few minutes we are comfortable.  We don’t risk losing all of our worldly possessions if a bad thunderstorm rolls into town.  We don’t carry everything we own in a back pack.  Perspective by understanding and appreciating how much a smile, and encouraging word, or even a new pair of socks can make so much difference in someone’s life.   Perspective to realize how good we have it.

Reality because in our day-in, day-out lives, we take so many things for granted.  We all pass by others struggling—not just homeless—with addiction, abuse, effects of poor decisions every day, and we don’t even give it more than a thought of “glad that isn’t me.”  Reality because most of us are only a few poor decisions away from a life 180 degrees different than the comfortable ones we take for granted today.  Reality because the issues we see aren’t limited to a race, age, or sex.  Also, reality to know that Jesus Christ’s death was for everyone—regardless of race, age, sex, etc…That his ministry wasn’t to the affluent, the rulers, or even the religious elite.  His ministry was others-focused, not self-focused.  He hung out with the poor, outcasts, and even tax collectors!  To me, the ministry of Christ, and the passion of Kingdom Here can best be found in Matthew 25:21-46 in the Parable of the sheep and goats…v40 “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  Wow, what an indictment!! What a reality check!!

As we journey through the next 3 years, our hope is that you will continue to support this ministry in prayer and by either going downtown with us, or simply buying a pack of socks or underwear.  We can do much with very little.  Thank you for having our backs!


Graham for KH

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seasons

I'm sure you have noticed the days getting shorter, the leaves changing and the temperature dropping (it was a cold morning today as we visited our friends downtown!).  It comes as no surprise, as this happens every year… and every year I complain that it’s dark when I get off, too cold to enjoy being outside, and there are leaves and pine straw all over my yard.

What I often tend not to see is the importance of the changing seasons.  A tree, grass, plants and every living thing goes through, and needs, season changes.  As I sit here and type this, I am in the middle of a change… a new job which brings new roles and new responsibilities. 

You may not be going through a big change like I am, but I am willing to bet you are in a “season” of your life right now.  It may be the “spring” where everything is blooming and the birds are chirping or it may be the “dead of winter” and there seems to be no sign of life anywhere.  No matter what “season” your life is in, you can be certain you will make it through.  The flowers will bloom and the sun will shine again.

A synonym for season is opportunity.  I think this fits perfectly… what you and I are going through is an opportunity for new things to happen and new growth to occur.  Each winter I completely cut back my lantana bush and each summer it comes back bigger and more beautiful.  I give it the opportunity for new growth. 

What “season” are you in and what opportunities are there for you in this “season?”

Stephen for KH

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dressed for Battle

This morning was a great time with the homeless men and women of Augusta.  We had a great devotional by Beau Brandenburg on being attacked and what our response should be (Ephesians 6). We hear about different types of attacks all time… bears, sharks, dogs, another person, or even terrorists.  There are books and articles written on how to survive these attacks with the hope that if you are ever faced with one you will know how to respond. 

We may never personally be attacked by any of these things but as Christians, we are in a constant battle for our souls.  There is one who is constantly waging war against you and me… Satan does not want us to be a part of the Christian life.  There is good news… we have a survival plan (Ephesians 6:10-17).  Paul, the writer of Ephesians, knew we would face these types of attacks and has given us the ultimate strategy to survive.  Just as a solider goes into battle with protective clothing and armor we are to be clothed with the Armor of God each and every day.  I don’t know about you, but this is not something on my “to do” list each day.  We live in a culture where we celebrate many freedoms and most of us do not face a real danger of being attacked on a daily basis (military, police, firefighters, etc.. not withstanding).  We are still in a spiritual battle and need to be prepared.  There is one piece of great news… the war has already been won… Jesus was victorious on the cross and has given us victory.  We still face the day to day “battles” and need to keep the faith and wear the armor of God but the ultimate victory is ours.

I hope as you read this, you are encouraged and challenged. 

Each morning, think… “Am I dressed for battle?”.


Stephen for KH

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Living in the World of "I"



Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)

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.”

This morning while spending some time with the Lord, I read these verses.  As soon as I did, I thought of Kingdom Here and the men who live these verses out each Wednesday morning.  Then, I began to think about my life and how I act outside of the Wednesday mornings we go downtown.  I realized, as a follower of Jesus, I am called to live this way each day in everything I do and everywhere I go… whatever the situation.  Jesus is the perfect example of someone who lived these verses. (See Philippians 2:6-11).

So often we look out for #1 (ourselves) and don’t worry about anyone else. In this passage, Paul, is telling us not to live this way.  He understands our selfish nature and wants to show us a better way to live life.  Not only is it better for us but it is better for those around us.  Imagine the impact of a community where we took these verses to heart and truly lived by them each day… thinking of others and their needs first instead of our own.  It doesn’t have to be a huge act… just something as simple as holding a door for someone, letting someone out in traffic, smiling at the cashier, praying for a friend, loving your spouse, and the list goes on.  Often the small things in life are the ones where people find the most joy.

In a world where the “I” is all some people think about; let us be a people who “take an interest in others.”  After all, we are called to a higher purpose and to live our lives not as the world lives them but as Jesus, the one who called us to himself and gave us the example. 


As you live your life today, are you thinking of the interest of others?

Stephen for Kingdom Here

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Perspective


This morning was another great day for Kingdom Here.  Robbie shared a great word from Luke and we saw about 50 men, women and children.

Each time we go downtown, my life is put into perspective and I am truly humbled.  Today’s verse of the day on YouVersion (a great free Bible app) is “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” (Pr 22:4)  In today’s culture we see humility as a sign weakness but as King Solomon says here, humility brings “riches, honor and life.” Humility is simply not putting yourself about others.  Jesus was the perfect example as He died on the cross for you and me.  The opposite of humility is pride… which is said to “go before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pr 16:18).  Pride is positioning yourself as better than those around you. 

During each visit downtown the pride in me is gone and I am reminded that even though I have a house, car, whatever; I am no better than the people we come in contact with.  My challenge this week is to be more humble… don’t position yourself as better than someone because of outward appearances or situations.  Let’s all lead a life where our “wages are riches, and honor and life.”

Stephen for Kingdom Here

Friday, June 28, 2013

New Member, New Perspective

I have been involved with Kingdom Here Ministries for a couple of months now.  When I first began going I was not sure what to expect.  Now, it is something I look forward to each time we visit our friends downtown.  To be able to listen to men and women, who are homeless and in need, thank the Lord for watching over them and providing for them is the most amazing thing in the world.  How many times a day do I complain about my car not being as nice as I wish, my pantry not having the snacks I want, or my house being too much to keep up?  These are all important things in our lives, but when they take place of the Lord, we have allowed them to consume us and we forget the people who live in our city who would give anything to have a car, a pantry, or a house.  

On one of our last trips at the Salvation Army there was a bird eating grass. This is nothing uncommon or out of the ordinary but on this occasion I was reminded of Matthew 6:25-34.  In vs. 25 Jesus tells his followers not to worry about what they are going to wear, eat or drink, that life is more important than these things.  He continues in vs. 26 to say “26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  

So often we forget the promise God made to us, that He is going to watch over us and make sure we have what we need... not what we want.  Just like the men and women we are reaching through Kingdom Here have what they need. Next time you see a bird, think about the Lord and be thankful for what you have and know you are going to be taken care of…just like the birds of the air.

Stephen for KH

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

60 Visits...And Counting!

Hard to believe we have made around 60 visits to witness to Augusta’s homeless community.  We have had some life-changing encounters, and have learned a lot along the way.  This past visit was no different…as we were wrapping up at Mercy Ministries, a young man came to talk with us.  The events of his life had a significant impact on the group—murders, abuse, prison, etc…all things that most of us only see on the news.  His account of just a few of these experiences had us almost in a state of shock--
Our bi-weekly visits give us a glimpse into the lives of strangers--from the depths of life’s challenges, to the success stories and victories that are shared with us…Yes, there are great stories and great things happening when people are given a chance to get their lives back on track.  One gentleman has been so excited the last few trips to tell us he is a few weeks away from graduating the Salvation Army program, and already has a full time job line up.  Others are actively pursuing work on a daily basis.  Others share their appreciation for both the physical items we bring, as well as the devotions we share with the groups.  Others tell us about how what we are doing has given them some hope and a different outlook on their lives.
We have had the opportunity to speak to a few different churches—Warren Baptist and Trinity on the Hill—to share our story and what we are doing.  Our goal is to continue to do this and get small  groups, businesses, and individuals to support our ministry.  Things like sponsoring a breakfast, buying a package of socks or soap can go a long way in providing for our neighbors.  We consistenly bring a message of Good News, and our goal is to continue and grow our ministry. 
There are numerous ways to get involved and be a part of something that has an eternal impact on someone.  Is there anything more important than that?  We would love to have your help, ideas, time, financial assistance, etc…. 
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…

Graham for Kingdom Here