Home & Garden

The Apostolic Church

I believe that there is something wonderful happening in the Church right now; something that many of us have foreseen and prayed for. Many churches across our nation and world are already operating in this new wineskin, but many are still stuck in the old wineskin and having trouble understanding what’s happening.
Many have left the organized church, knowing that there is something wrong, and many have stayed in fear, afraid to come out from under this ‘covering. ‘
In a past blog, I shared a vision the Lord gave me about a year and a half ago. In this vision, we walked into a church that is in our community. I recognized the church. In my vision, the foyer was filled with joyful people, talking and fellowshipping. As we turned toward the sanctuary, we saw the door to the sanctuary was closed and there was a sign posted on the door that read, “Prayer and worship – Enter with reverence.”
As I walked into the sanctuary in this vision, I saw that all the people were sitting in a circle facing each other. There was a small group of musicians in the back corner, but everyone else sat in this layered circle. The room did not have a ‘front’ or a platform. There was a low murmur of prayer and worship going on. No one person was leading.
As I watched, someone got a Word from the Lord and gave a direction, and then everyone acted on it. There was prayer for a sick person and this person was healed. Then someone began to sing a song of worship and everyone followed. The musicians began to play and back up everyone singing. This continued the entire time as I watched.  The people flowed in and out of worship, in and out of prayer, each one sharing a Word and a revelation.
1 Corinthians 14:26  says, “…What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification…” 
I was very encouraged in the Lord after seeing this vision and felt the Lord was leading our family to attend this church. We had attended this church a couple of years earlier and when we returned, found out that the church was without a pastor. I was very interested, in view of what I had heard from the Lord, to see what was happening.
Almost a decade ago, I went through a very profound season with the Lord where He taught me that I was hearing Him. I always knew I heard the Lord, but in this season, He seemed to want to make sure that I really knew this, as He was preparing to tell me some things that would undo a lot of what I’d been taught in the church.
One of the things the Lord spoke to me in this season was that the Church had misunderstood the role of the gift of pastor.
Please hear my heart when I say this in no way makes small this wonderful and much needed gift in the Body, but as the Lord began to show me, we are not understanding the role this gift was intended to fill in the Church.
The word ‘pastor’ appears only one time in scripture in Ephesians 4:11 and is the fourth gift listed in the ‘five-fold ministry gifts.’  Some have taught that the gifts are listed in order of authority – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher.
How then have we put so much weight on this one gift?
In 1 Corinthians 12:28 it says, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” It goes on to talk about how each gift and part of the body is necessary to fulfill God’s purposes in the church.
When we look at the New Testament church, it seems that it was completely different than the church we see today. People met in their homes and as I understand it, would occasionally make arrangements for large groups to meet. It would have been much as I saw in this vision – people sitting in a room, letting the Holy Spirit lead, no one person leading.
As the Lord continued to speak to me in this season about a decade ago, He led me to read the book, “Pagan Christianity.” This is an eye-opening book about how we got from the ‘church of Acts’ to the church today. The shocking thing is that many of the influences that led to these changes were pagan. Including the role of pastor. It follows the pagan role of the priest.
The term ‘laity’ and ‘leadership’ is nowhere in the Bible in the way that we use it today. This again, has come from a pagan influence. The order of service, the platform or altar, the praise and worship leaders, the priestly garments, all come from pagan influence.
The rulers at the time were trying to make Christianity more appealing to the pagans and mixed in these things to make them more comfortable. This is how the birth of Christ got added on to the pagan holiday ‘Winter Solstice’ and resulted in Christmas. The Christmas tree, door wreaths, etc. are all from pagan religion.
Another wonderful book that has encouraged me in this last season and given me greater understanding is, “The Apostolic Church Arising.” by Chuck Pierce and Robert Heidler. I love this book because it has greatly confirmed what I felt the Lord putting in my heart.
Please hear what I’m saying. I’m saying the Lord gave me a vision and has been speaking to my heart and has confirmed the things He has told me through others. This follows the scriptural format of a prophet’s word being confirmed by two or three others. I’ve also shared what I felt with other prophets, who have also confirmed that they are hearing this from the Lord.
I understand that what I’m saying strongly contradicts a teaching in the current church.  This doctrinal teaching states that the Pastor is the ‘one’ to get the vision for the church and anyone who feels differently is in rebellion to authority. My heart is never to dishonor another. My heart is to pray for unity in the Body but to obey the Holy Spirit without fear of man.
The Body of Christ needs every member. The role of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher is to equip each member for ministry. Each gift is needed and has a function to accomplish what God is doing on the earth. In the pastor led church, this doesn’t happen.
In the apostolic church, the apostle has a strong administrative gift to coordinate the gift of others. The prophets, as well as others, receive direction from the Lord for the people. The prophet sees the ‘wilderness’ and speaks into it through prophecy and prayer, digging up the hard ground. The evangelist, as well as everyone, brings in new believers. Signs and wonders follow us as we operate in evangelism. The pastors (plural) shepherd the people and visit and pray for the sick and hurting. They counsel and disciple. The teachers, as well as others, share the truth of God’s Word.   Everyone is becoming equipped and moves in the gifts.
Everyone can also operate in these gifts -organizing, praying, prophesying, leading others to Christ, laying hands on the sick and healing them – everyone.
There is no platform. There are no worship leaders. As the Lord leads, we begin to get a hymn and a song. Everyone is free to hear from the Lord and learns how to. Everyone recognizes their importance to the Body and carries a responsibility to be obedient to the move of the Holy Spirit.
Under this old wineskin, the pastor has carried a heavy burden and we have seen the results of this time and time again. Pastors have become ‘burned out’ because they are carrying a load that they were never meant to carry. They neglect their families as they counsel others. They are spending an unreasonable amount of hours trying to meet the needs of the church. It leaves very little time for them to have a healthy relationship with the Lord. They become performance oriented. It's not easy being a one-man band.
Matthew 23:8 says, "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is Christ." How then have we come to call these leaders "Pastor" and have been made to feel we are disrespectful if we don't address them in this way?
Some have thought this role of pastor is a ‘Moses’ anointing but let’s look at scripture. In Jeremiah, 31:31, the Lord talks about the new covenant that is coming.
"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.  "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put My law within them and on their hearts I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Acts 2:17 quotes the prophet Joel, saying,
"'And it shall be in the last days,' God says,
'That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
 Even on my bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy."
These scripture that talk about what God is doing says that multiple people, men and women, will see visions and dream dreams. The everyone will hear the voice of the Lord.  It makes it clear that God values each member of the Body and they have a part to fill.
The church was never intended to be a place where you wore your best clothes and sat quietly week after week, being told what to think.  I am not saying that pastors don’t hear from God – they absolutely do – just as everyone in the Body hears.  But we need everyone to hear. We need the balance and perspective and wisdom of the Body.
The Lord gave me another vision more than a decade ago. I saw a pile of rubble; a building made of stone that had fallen to the ground.  The Lord spoke to me and said He was tearing down man’s church and in its place, He would build His Church. I believe that God is doing that right now.
It’s a hard transition for many and the enemy is taking this teaching of always being submitted to a pastor and using it to create fear. The Lord has compassion on these sheep but He is also strongly convicting them to break this old wineskin to obey the Holy Spirit.  There has been a shaking, a sifting and a sorting.
When the sorting is over, I want to be found obeying the Lord and operating in this 'new' wineskin. (It's really an old wineskin.)  I want to be gently bold, sharing what I hear the Holy Spirit saying, as He desires to break religious mindsets and set us free to operate in all that God has for us.
I have had several wonderful pastors over the years. They are gifted men of God, committed to serving God and people. I am not expressing any disapproval of these wonderful people of God. They were obeying the Holy Spirit in the way they felt God was leading. They have blessed my life in more ways than I can count and I thank God for their loving service.
But I believe with all my heart that the Lord in this season is bringing new revelation of His Word and His purposes. He is setting us free from deceptions and restrictions that have stopped the flow of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, when the Church was operating in this order, thousands were coming to Christ daily. And that is His purpose – that the Holy Spirit would move through each one of us with love, and power, and the gifts of the Spirit, winning this world for Christ.

love and blessings~

PS- I haven't blogged in soooo long and have lots of catching up to do!

Standard
Home & Garden

The Apostolic Church

I believe that there is something wonderful happening in the Church right now; something that many of us have foreseen and prayed for. Many churches across our nation and world are already operating in this new wineskin, but many are still stuck in the old wineskin and having trouble understanding what’s happening.
Many have left the organized church, knowing that there is something wrong, and many have stayed in fear, afraid to come out from under this ‘covering. ‘
In a past blog, I shared a vision the Lord gave me about a year and a half ago. In this vision, we walked into a church that is in our community. I recognized the church. In my vision, the foyer was filled with joyful people, talking and fellowshipping. As we turned toward the sanctuary, we saw the door to the sanctuary was closed and there was a sign posted on the door that read, “Prayer and worship – Enter with reverence.”
As I walked into the sanctuary in this vision, I saw that all the people were sitting in a circle facing each other. There was a small group of musicians in the back corner, but everyone else sat in this layered circle. The room did not have a ‘front’ or a platform. There was a low murmur of prayer and worship going on. No one person was leading.
As I watched, someone got a Word from the Lord and gave a direction, and then everyone acted on it. There was prayer for a sick person and this person was healed. Then someone began to sing a song of worship and everyone followed. The musicians began to play and back up everyone singing. This continued the entire time as I watched.  The people flowed in and out of worship, in and out of prayer, each one sharing a Word and a revelation.
1 Corinthians 14:26  says, “…What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification…” 
I was very encouraged in the Lord after seeing this vision and felt the Lord was leading our family to attend this church. We had attended this church a couple of years earlier and when we returned, found out that the church was without a pastor. I was very interested, in view of what I had heard from the Lord, to see what was happening.
Almost a decade ago, I went through a very profound season with the Lord where He taught me that I was hearing Him. I always knew I heard the Lord, but in this season, He seemed to want to make sure that I really knew this, as He was preparing to tell me some things that would undo a lot of what I’d been taught in the church.
One of the things the Lord spoke to me in this season was that the Church had misunderstood the role of the gift of pastor.
Please hear my heart when I say this in no way makes small this wonderful and much needed gift in the Body, but as the Lord began to show me, we are not understanding the role this gift was intended to fill in the Church.
The word ‘pastor’ appears only one time in scripture in Ephesians 4:11 and is the fourth gift listed in the ‘five-fold ministry gifts.’  Some have taught that the gifts are listed in order of authority – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher.
How then have we put so much weight on this one gift?
In 1 Corinthians 12:28 it says, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” It goes on to talk about how each gift and part of the body is necessary to fulfill God’s purposes in the church.
When we look at the New Testament church, it seems that it was completely different than the church we see today. People met in their homes and as I understand it, would occasionally make arrangements for large groups to meet. It would have been much as I saw in this vision – people sitting in a room, letting the Holy Spirit lead, no one person leading.
As the Lord continued to speak to me in this season about a decade ago, He led me to read the book, “Pagan Christianity.” This is an eye-opening book about how we got from the ‘church of Acts’ to the church today. The shocking thing is that many of the influences that led to these changes were pagan. Including the role of pastor. It follows the pagan role of the priest.
The term ‘laity’ and ‘leadership’ is nowhere in the Bible in the way that we use it today. This again, has come from a pagan influence. The order of service, the platform or altar, the praise and worship leaders, the priestly garments, all come from pagan influence.
The rulers at the time were trying to make Christianity more appealing to the pagans and mixed in these things to make them more comfortable. This is how the birth of Christ got added on to the pagan holiday ‘Winter Solstice’ and resulted in Christmas. The Christmas tree, door wreaths, etc. are all from pagan religion.
Another wonderful book that has encouraged me in this last season and given me greater understanding is, “The Apostolic Church Arising.” by Chuck Pierce and Robert Heidler. I love this book because it has greatly confirmed what I felt the Lord putting in my heart.
Please hear what I’m saying. I’m saying the Lord gave me a vision and has been speaking to my heart and has confirmed the things He has told me through others. This follows the scriptural format of a prophet’s word being confirmed by two or three others. I’ve also shared what I felt with other prophets, who have also confirmed that they are hearing this from the Lord.
I understand that what I’m saying strongly contradicts a teaching in the current church.  This doctrinal teaching states that the Pastor is the ‘one’ to get the vision for the church and anyone who feels differently is in rebellion to authority. My heart is never to dishonor another. My heart is to pray for unity in the Body but to obey the Holy Spirit without fear of man.
The Body of Christ needs every member. The role of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher is to equip each member for ministry. Each gift is needed and has a function to accomplish what God is doing on the earth. In the pastor led church, this doesn’t happen.
In the apostolic church, the apostle has a strong administrative gift to coordinate the gift of others. The prophets, as well as others, receive direction from the Lord for the people. The prophet sees the ‘wilderness’ and speaks into it through prophecy and prayer, digging up the hard ground. The evangelist, as well as everyone, brings in new believers. Signs and wonders follow us as we operate in evangelism. The pastors (plural) shepherd the people and visit and pray for the sick and hurting. They counsel and disciple. The teachers, as well as others, share the truth of God’s Word.   Everyone is becoming equipped and moves in the gifts.
Everyone can also operate in these gifts -organizing, praying, prophesying, leading others to Christ, laying hands on the sick and healing them – everyone.
There is no platform. There are no worship leaders. As the Lord leads, we begin to get a hymn and a song. Everyone is free to hear from the Lord and learns how to. Everyone recognizes their importance to the Body and carries a responsibility to be obedient to the move of the Holy Spirit.
Under this old wineskin, the pastor has carried a heavy burden and we have seen the results of this time and time again. Pastors have become ‘burned out’ because they are carrying a load that they were never meant to carry. They neglect their families as they counsel others. They are spending an unreasonable amount of hours trying to meet the needs of the church. It leaves very little time for them to have a healthy relationship with the Lord. They become performance oriented. It's not easy being a one-man band.
Matthew 23:8 says, "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is Christ." How then have we come to call these leaders "Pastor" and have been made to feel we are disrespectful if we don't address them in this way?
Some have thought this role of pastor is a ‘Moses’ anointing but let’s look at scripture. In Jeremiah, 31:31, the Lord talks about the new covenant that is coming.
"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.  "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put My law within them and on their hearts I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Acts 2:17 quotes the prophet Joel, saying,
"'And it shall be in the last days,' God says,
'That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
 Even on my bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy."
These scripture that talk about what God is doing says that multiple people, men and women, will see visions and dream dreams. The everyone will hear the voice of the Lord.  It makes it clear that God values each member of the Body and they have a part to fill.
The church was never intended to be a place where you wore your best clothes and sat quietly week after week, being told what to think.  I am not saying that pastors don’t hear from God – they absolutely do – just as everyone in the Body hears.  But we need everyone to hear. We need the balance and perspective and wisdom of the Body.
The Lord gave me another vision more than a decade ago. I saw a pile of rubble; a building made of stone that had fallen to the ground.  The Lord spoke to me and said He was tearing down man’s church and in its place, He would build His Church. I believe that God is doing that right now.
It’s a hard transition for many and the enemy is taking this teaching of always being submitted to a pastor and using it to create fear. The Lord has compassion on these sheep but He is also strongly convicting them to break this old wineskin to obey the Holy Spirit.  There has been a shaking, a sifting and a sorting.
When the sorting is over, I want to be found obeying the Lord and operating in this 'new' wineskin. (It's really an old wineskin.)  I want to be gently bold, sharing what I hear the Holy Spirit saying, as He desires to break religious mindsets and set us free to operate in all that God has for us.
I have had several wonderful pastors over the years. They are gifted men of God, committed to serving God and people. I am not expressing any disapproval of these wonderful people of God. They were obeying the Holy Spirit in the way they felt God was leading. They have blessed my life in more ways than I can count and I thank God for their loving service.
But I believe with all my heart that the Lord in this season is bringing new revelation of His Word and His purposes. He is setting us free from deceptions and restrictions that have stopped the flow of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, when the Church was operating in this order, thousands were coming to Christ daily. And that is His purpose – that the Holy Spirit would move through each one of us with love, and power, and the gifts of the Spirit, winning this world for Christ.

love and blessings~

PS- I haven't blogged in soooo long and have lots of catching up to do!

Standard
Columns, Devotionals

What Would Jesus Do? – Helping the Homeless

There's been something on my mind for several  months - actually for a couple of years - and I would really like to hear your prayerful thoughts on the subject.  Your prayerful thoughts.  Not what you've always thought but I'd like for you to pray about it, let God guide you, and then tell me what you get.                                                ___________________________________

I was getting involved in our nearby homeless shelter.  I was involved a few years ago when a group was getting it started and then got a call, this past September, from one of the founders, asking me to get further involved. So I began attending the board meetings and working for the board members to raise money, etc.

The board members have a real variety of beliefs.  The founder who asked me to get involved has the same beliefs as I do.  She is born-again, Spirit-filled, trusting God and relying on His leading.  But the other board members are not born-again and seem to believe in a government that 'supplies all our needs.'  I found this very troubling.

I also began to volunteer at the shelter with a heart to get to know the 'guests' and share Jesus.

I did not feel convicted by God to do any of this - I felt personally convicted - and I was not quite sure why God wasn't convicting me.  And I knew I was uncomfortable working at the shelter.

I'm a small, 50+ year old woman and there are plenty of rough men at the shelter but there were other women who were volunteering.  In fact, every one of the board members are women and most of the volunteers are women.  So that did not seem to be a valid reason but I was uncomfortable.  My family and close friend also did not witness to me doing this.

The policy of the shelter was that a guest could stay for 45 days while looking for other alternatives. At the end of the 45 days, if they were complying with authorities to get housing but it hadn't come through yet, they could apply for an extension.  The longest a guest could stay was 90 days.

I was there one day when I became aware that a guest's 90 days was up on Friday.  The lady in charge of carrying out the Board's decisions in this matter had informed this guest he had to leave on Friday. One of the board members, the lady who's beliefs are the same as mine, interceded and said he would not be asked to leave.  There was a disagreement and the lady, who was following the board's directions, resigned.

In the middle of all this uproar, the guest who was being evicted (not) told me very rudely that "all you Christians need to read your Bible."  He rudely made his opinion known that we should continue to supply him with food and shelter.

I had already noticed an attitude from most of the guests.  There were a few who were polite and thankful, but most had an attitude of entitlement.  And some were just downright rude, foul-mouthed and demanding.  I would leave everyday after volunteering and have to literally cleanse myself in the Holy Spirit and God's Word.  I could sense the demonic trying to attach to me and shadow my thinking.  I always felt very aware of the filth and the mocking of the enemy.

I am not saying that I am not without great compassion.  I am very aware that the Word tells us that "Jesus was moved by compassion and healed the sick."  Jesus aligned Himself with the poor and homeless and chose to be homeless Himself.  In this world, we Believers in Christ are homeless as we wait to be reunited with our God.  That's why I was there.  And I prayed for people and got involved with their lives.

The guests were required to do 'chores' at the shelter to keep it clean and functioning but there wasn't much to do and when I was there most of them sat around all day on their laptops or phones or just talking.  I realize that if you don't have a job to go to or a house to maintain there's not much else to do, but...

There's another principle of God that I believe we have to balance with our mercy and grace and that's that if a man doesn't work, he doesn't eat.  The shelter was appealing to the nearby churches to raise money to keep the shelter open.  People were coming by every day with clothing and food and I could tell they felt guilty that they weren't doing more.  I feel that some of my motivation was guilt and God does not motivate with guilt.  He  motivates with a pure love and conviction.

I realized that a lot of the guests had been 'in the system' for most of their lives.  This was just another way for them to continue in their life style.  When they left, the government would supply them with money to pay their rent.

I understand that a few of them were physically impaired but most them were not.  I was shocked, and I mean shocked, to see the amount of pharmaceuticals each guest had.  We kept them locked in a cabinet and the guests were required to ask when they needed to take something.  Most guests had between 3 and 8 large bottles of prescription drugs - antidepressants, pain killers, blood pressure medicine - all that indicate a very wounded soul.

Illegal drugs were not allowed in the shelter, of course, and some guests who had attempted to hide them in the parking lot outside or sneak them into the shelter were permanently evicted.  In summary, most of the guests were drug addicts, whether it was prescription or illegal drugs.  Very many times I have gone to God and said, "Where do I start, LORD?"

Almost every one of them smoked.  The shelter allowed them to step outside every hour on the hour, for a total of 15 minutes to smoke.  I asked someone how much a pack of cigarettes cost and did the math.  Most of them were spending $400 a month on cigarettes - money that could be applied to rent - and might even be enough to afford an apartment.

Most of them had families nearby.  Why weren't they staying with their families, I wondered.  But then I realized that they most likely were a 'product' of their families and things probably were the same there.

There's a government subsidized apartment complex in our town.  The rent is adjusted to income and I know that the rent for some is less than $400.  However, the people in the shelter could not qualify for this housing because of their criminal records or history of not paying on time.

It's kind of like the story of giving a person a fishing pole and teaching them to fish rather than giving them a fish every day.  I understand that each one of these people need Jesus to heal their hearts and we are dependent on Him for the answers.  I understand that people's wounded hearts and wrong thinking cannot be changed without Him and their whole lives need to change.  I also understand that God gives each of us a free will but many times our free will is held in bondage by the enemy with great deception.
Did you know that a large percentage of people who win the lottery end up bankrupt?  You can give people money, but you can't expect that they know how to manage it wisely and most times they will end up back where they started. Some people don't believe they deserve any better.

But in the meantime, we need to figure out a way to help them while still demanding that they be accountable for their lives.  We need to be careful to not treat them like children, which is what I felt like was being done.  They are adults and are responsible for their own lives.

And I want to make note that in our economy, there are those who have done everything 'right', lost their jobs and their homes and just need a step up.  I firmly believe that we are to help them!  These are the people in the shelter who spent their time looking for jobs, driving their children back and forth to school, and working on their vehicles in the parking lot.  We need to assess each person's situation independently.

So, my thought was to develop a system of work and credits.  In other words, if a church donates money and food, the people in the shelter work for the church - cleaning the building, shoveling the snow, working for the community.  I like everything about this idea.

The problem is that I saw in the news shortly after I quit volunteering that one of the former guests, a young woman who was particularly rude, was arrested for breaking and entering and theft.

So I realize that some of the people cannot be trusted.  And then what do we do?  The young woman had a 4 month old baby at the time.

So please give me your thoughts.  I initially went to the shelter thinking that we should all open our homes and invite people in.  I realize now how foolish that would be.  But "The Church" is called to be Jesus' hands and feet here on this earth.  I believe we are to 'seek the lost' - not hide in the church building. I believe we are to live sacrificially.  I believe we are to feed the poor, heal the sick and house the homeless.  How are we to do this - balancing God's mercy with all the principles He teaches?


I need to have peace that I'm doing all that I can do to change the world - Big Rapids, Michigan. This is where I'm called to serve.

love and blessings~


"Go to the ant, O sluggard.  Observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.  How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like a armed man."  Proverbs 6:6-11






Standard
Columns, Devotionals

What Would Jesus Do? – Helping the Homeless

There's been something on my mind for several  months - actually for a couple of years - and I would really like to hear your prayerful thoughts on the subject.  Your prayerful thoughts.  Not what you've always thought but I'd like for you to pray about it, let God guide you, and then tell me what you get.                                                ___________________________________

I was getting involved in our nearby homeless shelter.  I was involved a few years ago when a group was getting it started and then got a call, this past September, from one of the founders, asking me to get further involved. So I began attending the board meetings and working for the board members to raise money, etc.

The board members have a real variety of beliefs.  The founder who asked me to get involved has the same beliefs as I do.  She is born-again, Spirit-filled, trusting God and relying on His leading.  But the other board members are not born-again and seem to believe in a government that 'supplies all our needs.'  I found this very troubling.

I also began to volunteer at the shelter with a heart to get to know the 'guests' and share Jesus.

I did not feel convicted by God to do any of this - I felt personally convicted - and I was not quite sure why God wasn't convicting me.  And I knew I was uncomfortable working at the shelter.

I'm a small, 50+ year old woman and there are plenty of rough men at the shelter but there were other women who were volunteering.  In fact, every one of the board members are women and most of the volunteers are women.  So that did not seem to be a valid reason but I was uncomfortable.  My family and close friend also did not witness to me doing this.

The policy of the shelter was that a guest could stay for 45 days while looking for other alternatives. At the end of the 45 days, if they were complying with authorities to get housing but it hadn't come through yet, they could apply for an extension.  The longest a guest could stay was 90 days.

I was there one day when I became aware that a guest's 90 days was up on Friday.  The lady in charge of carrying out the Board's decisions in this matter had informed this guest he had to leave on Friday. One of the board members, the lady who's beliefs are the same as mine, interceded and said he would not be asked to leave.  There was a disagreement and the lady, who was following the board's directions, resigned.

In the middle of all this uproar, the guest who was being evicted (not) told me very rudely that "all you Christians need to read your Bible."  He rudely made his opinion known that we should continue to supply him with food and shelter.

I had already noticed an attitude from most of the guests.  There were a few who were polite and thankful, but most had an attitude of entitlement.  And some were just downright rude, foul-mouthed and demanding.  I would leave everyday after volunteering and have to literally cleanse myself in the Holy Spirit and God's Word.  I could sense the demonic trying to attach to me and shadow my thinking.  I always felt very aware of the filth and the mocking of the enemy.

I am not saying that I am not without great compassion.  I am very aware that the Word tells us that "Jesus was moved by compassion and healed the sick."  Jesus aligned Himself with the poor and homeless and chose to be homeless Himself.  In this world, we Believers in Christ are homeless as we wait to be reunited with our God.  That's why I was there.  And I prayed for people and got involved with their lives.

The guests were required to do 'chores' at the shelter to keep it clean and functioning but there wasn't much to do and when I was there most of them sat around all day on their laptops or phones or just talking.  I realize that if you don't have a job to go to or a house to maintain there's not much else to do, but...

There's another principle of God that I believe we have to balance with our mercy and grace and that's that if a man doesn't work, he doesn't eat.  The shelter was appealing to the nearby churches to raise money to keep the shelter open.  People were coming by every day with clothing and food and I could tell they felt guilty that they weren't doing more.  I feel that some of my motivation was guilt and God does not motivate with guilt.  He  motivates with a pure love and conviction.

I realized that a lot of the guests had been 'in the system' for most of their lives.  This was just another way for them to continue in their life style.  When they left, the government would supply them with money to pay their rent.

I understand that a few of them were physically impaired but most them were not.  I was shocked, and I mean shocked, to see the amount of pharmaceuticals each guest had.  We kept them locked in a cabinet and the guests were required to ask when they needed to take something.  Most guests had between 3 and 8 large bottles of prescription drugs - antidepressants, pain killers, blood pressure medicine - all that indicate a very wounded soul.

Illegal drugs were not allowed in the shelter, of course, and some guests who had attempted to hide them in the parking lot outside or sneak them into the shelter were permanently evicted.  In summary, most of the guests were drug addicts, whether it was prescription or illegal drugs.  Very many times I have gone to God and said, "Where do I start, LORD?"

Almost every one of them smoked.  The shelter allowed them to step outside every hour on the hour, for a total of 15 minutes to smoke.  I asked someone how much a pack of cigarettes cost and did the math.  Most of them were spending $400 a month on cigarettes - money that could be applied to rent - and might even be enough to afford an apartment.

Most of them had families nearby.  Why weren't they staying with their families, I wondered.  But then I realized that they most likely were a 'product' of their families and things probably were the same there.

There's a government subsidized apartment complex in our town.  The rent is adjusted to income and I know that the rent for some is less than $400.  However, the people in the shelter could not qualify for this housing because of their criminal records or history of not paying on time.

It's kind of like the story of giving a person a fishing pole and teaching them to fish rather than giving them a fish every day.  I understand that each one of these people need Jesus to heal their hearts and we are dependent on Him for the answers.  I understand that people's wounded hearts and wrong thinking cannot be changed without Him and their whole lives need to change.  I also understand that God gives each of us a free will but many times our free will is held in bondage by the enemy with great deception.
Did you know that a large percentage of people who win the lottery end up bankrupt?  You can give people money, but you can't expect that they know how to manage it wisely and most times they will end up back where they started. Some people don't believe they deserve any better.

But in the meantime, we need to figure out a way to help them while still demanding that they be accountable for their lives.  We need to be careful to not treat them like children, which is what I felt like was being done.  They are adults and are responsible for their own lives.

And I want to make note that in our economy, there are those who have done everything 'right', lost their jobs and their homes and just need a step up.  I firmly believe that we are to help them!  These are the people in the shelter who spent their time looking for jobs, driving their children back and forth to school, and working on their vehicles in the parking lot.  We need to assess each person's situation independently.

So, my thought was to develop a system of work and credits.  In other words, if a church donates money and food, the people in the shelter work for the church - cleaning the building, shoveling the snow, working for the community.  I like everything about this idea.

The problem is that I saw in the news shortly after I quit volunteering that one of the former guests, a young woman who was particularly rude, was arrested for breaking and entering and theft.

So I realize that some of the people cannot be trusted.  And then what do we do?  The young woman had a 4 month old baby at the time.

So please give me your thoughts.  I initially went to the shelter thinking that we should all open our homes and invite people in.  I realize now how foolish that would be.  But "The Church" is called to be Jesus' hands and feet here on this earth.  I believe we are to 'seek the lost' - not hide in the church building. I believe we are to live sacrificially.  I believe we are to feed the poor, heal the sick and house the homeless.  How are we to do this - balancing God's mercy with all the principles He teaches?


I need to have peace that I'm doing all that I can do to change the world - Big Rapids, Michigan. This is where I'm called to serve.

love and blessings~


"Go to the ant, O sluggard.  Observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.  How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like a armed man."  Proverbs 6:6-11






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