Willing to Obey – With or Without Reward

Here’s another great story of a family from Grace who gave in the name of Jesus this Christmas:

my feetMy story is rather uneventful.  That Sunday when there was a table in the lobby for people to sign up to take a meal, I found myself standing in front of it. Not because that was something I really wanted to do, but mostly because Jesus was in charge of my steps and I ended up there.  At the time a volunteer at the table told me there weren’t any more names to give out but if I wanted to put my name on the list, I may get one sent to me.  So, I did.  I really just want to give!  I want to give because there have been many times when people have given to me or my family.  My heart is just full of what else can I do to help someone else.

Last year this time, I took on a second job to help pay bills and food. We had a completely overwhelming year and debt was staring us hard in the face.  Many people came to our aid over the years when we needed it and here we had found ourselves there again.  It was quite humbling to be cleaning the church and school I worshipped and worked in.  But I really felt God had once again provided when we had a need.  That’s all I was doing by bringing a meal, providing for a need someone else had.  God needed my obedience when there was a need.  I could do that.

I then received an email letting me know of a family that I could bring a meal to.  I made a couple phone calls and left a couple messages letting them know that I was going to be dropping a meal at their doorstep on Saturday, Dec. 21st. When Saturday came I loaded up the food in a box and a couple bags and drove to their doorstep, like I had promised.  My feet once again went where Jesus was pushing them to go.  It brought me to the small cluttered porch where I left the box of food (No one answered the door- I totally get that).  As I was driving away, I phoned once more to let them know I left the meal in front of the door.  This time a woman answered and thanked me.  I just told her “that it was a privilege for me to do for others in a way that someone had done for us.  I have learned that God provides!”.  He has provided for me and my family in many ways.  I still ask for his provision in many ways that I can’t do for myself and each time he shows me his faithfulness!

What is God asking you to do? Are you looking and listening for his voice in your life? Are you willing to obey – even when there isn’t a glamorous reward in the end? Is the joy of obeying “enough” for you? Check out what God says about our obedience in I John 5. 

Change the World in 2014

encompas

Do you believe in the power of prayer? Does God really hear and respond to our cries to Him? You have the power to impact the nations – through prayer! Check out the “Global Prayer Walk” sponsored by Encompass World Partners here (link: http://www.encompassworldpartners.org/pray-news/global-prayer-walk). You can visit their website daily, or sign up for a daily email of specific requests from different parts of the world. This unique tour of the nations includes 73 stops, so if you stick to it, you can pray around the globe 5 times in 2014.

Last year, a group of friends from Grace Church prayed through a 73-day cycle together, and decided to have some fun with it. They met several times throughout the prayer walk to enjoy international meals, including a home-cooked French meal, and a stop at an Asian restaurant. Throughout the cycle, they also kept in touch by email when they had thoughts to share about particular prayer points. One participant described it as “a really fun and encouraging way to be aware of and pray for what’s going on around the world”!

Could this be a New Year’s Resolution for you? Perhaps your family could pray for a daily request at the dinner table each evening, or as part of the bedtime routine! Don’t miss this opportunity to change the world in 2014!

Perspective Alignment

The Reedy’s are another family who delivered food to a family in Lititz for Christmas. Here’s their story:

image1When we were presented with the opportunity to give a meal to a family at Christmas it was a “no-brainer”.  Of course we would do that.  In fact, my husband and I actually each sign up for a family at different times because we didn’t know the other had already received a family.  We didn’t need to discuss whether we would do it or not.  We both knew we would be glad to donate a meal.  You see, in our family like many others, food and fellowship go hand in hand.  I can’t imagine someone not having a “Christmas Dinner”.  It really speaks to who I am to get to feed someone.

So, we contacted the family and got a list of things they would like.  Ham, potatoes, corn, applesauce, rolls, butter, apple pie etc.  I thought the list was a long one.   We were excited at being able to share the frozen corn and homemade applesauce we had in the freezer.  And sharing some Christmas Cookies we baked was a great idea,  less calories for us to eat.

We bought a ham and some other things.  And I was gathering the supplies on Christmas Eve, I looked in the cupboard and saw aimage box of stuffing mix I could share.  Oh, and there are some extra boxes of cereal.  Let’s see what else I have in here.  Oh, some toaster strudel and english muffins in the freezer.   And we have beef from the cow we got this fall.

The pictures display the food I gathered.  Now you might think that I was feeling pretty good about giving the family more than a Christmas dinner.  Not at all.  In fact I was feeling pretty disgusted.  I gathered most of this food out of our excess.  Wow, all of that is excess.  And I have plenty more excess, not just food but other things.  And then I wonder why my children are asking for a toy at Target 2 days before Christmas when we had to get some last minute things.  They are used to the excess.  How far have we come from the day Jesus entered this world with NO excess.  There wasn’t even an excess room at the inn for him to be born.

So, I sit here after delivering the food not feeling like I did a great thing.  Or even sacrificed to give.  But examining the excess that surrounds me.  Not what I thought I would be feeling.  But glad that I am feeling it.  It was an EASY way to bless someone, and in turn I get the blessing of seeing how fortunate I am.  And also by being committed to not only give out of my excess, but also examine where I can sacrifice something in order to have more to give.

What a challenging thought? Are you living in excess? Is your giving sacrificial? Or is it simply out of your abundance? Take a moment to reflect on Jesus’ words in Luke 21:1-4. 

Sharing Christ’s Love In a Tangible Way

During the past few weeks, people from Grace Church have been part of “Grace Giving” – delivering meals to our neighbors in Lititz who are in need this Christmas season. We always hear reports that this is such a meaningful opportunity. Here’s one story:

We did this a few years ago and really enjoyed helping the family we were assigned.  It’s a great way to share Christ’s love inmealvery quiet but tangible way.  I remember when the kids were small and John lost his job.  I was a stay-at-home mom so John’s income was it.  One week after paying bills I looked at the checkbook and we had $2.50 for groceries for a family of 5. God took care of us and we were never late with our bills and he used others to help us.  Our Sunday school class at a church we attended in Paradise surprised us one Sunday with a lot of bags of groceries in our Sunday school room and a packed church refrigerator.  I was stunned that people would actually do this for us.  One day bags of groceries were left on our deck, on another day a $100.00 bill in our mailbox, and we received a $100.00 in gift cards to Lionel Kiddy City (it was Christmas time) to buy gifts for the kids that came in the mail.  So for me, it is rather personal.  I knew God would take care of us back then and I am so glad to now be in a better position that I can now do for someone else what so many had done for us. 

The family was a mother with two young daughters and it was fun meeting them and chatting with them for a few minutes.  We invited them to church and also left a few of our cards with them so that they know the time of our services.  I told them a big church can be intimidating so if they ever wanted to come, to go to the information desk and ask for John and Jerri and we would be happy to meet them.  Who knows, maybe one day they will come!  The mother works at McDonald’s in Lititz and I told her that I would be in for a Shamrock Shake when they come out.  Maybe I’ll see her then.

 John & Jerri Pickel

 What about you? How are you reaching your neighbors in need? How are you loving others in the name of Jesus in tangible ways? Don’t miss the opportunities that are all around you.

I AM the Church. I AM Salt & Light.

woman-shoveling-snowThis week, I was talking to a young lady from Grace Church who told me the following story:

 This past week, I became aware of a couple who were having some health difficulties. Consequently, they were unable to lift things…including snow! They asked if someone from our church would be able to go over to their house after the snow fell to shovel their driveway. I found a couple volunteers and we went over during second service on Sunday morning. With four of us and a short driveway, the work got done quickly. As we were working, we noticed that the driveway was connected to the neighbor’s un-shoveled driveway. We decided to shovel theirs as well because it wouldn’t take very long. When we were about halfway through, a woman parked and came up to us with a very puzzled look on her face. I got the feeling we were shoveling her driveway so I started talking to her. She was so amazed that we would shovel a stranger’s driveway just because we felt like it. As we continued talking, I found out that this was her mother’s house, and her mother was in a nursing home. Every time it snowed, she had to come all the way from Lancaster just to shovel it. The woman told me that she had just finished her driveway and was really dreading having to do another one. She kept smiling and saying, “I just don’t even know what to say!” Wondering where we were from, I got to share with her that we were from Grace Church and that we were just filling a need within the congregation. She asked a few times before we left which church we were from and where it was located. It struck me as we were piling the shovels back into the car that this was one of the simplest ways to show Jesus’ love to others. It took less than an hour to fill a need to support a brother and sister in Christ, AND to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a practical way to a stranger.

While I was driving home with the shovels in the back of the car, I just smiled as I thought about my conversation with the woman. As I looked to the side of the road, I saw an older woman shoveling a pretty big driveway by herself. I passed her and before I was a quarter mile down the road, I felt a pull in my heart to go back. So, I turned around in the next driveway and went back. I felt so embarrassed due to the fact that I had just passed her seconds before and now I was parked at the end of her driveway yelling up to her, “Do you mind if I help you?” She look at me as if I were the craziest person around, but called back, “Sure!” So, I opened my trunk, grabbed a shovel, and walked up to where she was working. I laughed as she looked at me and said, “Were you driving around all morning looking for people like me to help?!” I explained my situation but all the while I thought, that would be cool if people did that. As we worked she started telling me things about her day and how she and her husband had lived in this house for years and years. Her husband, like the couple from in the morning, had health issues and was no longer able to shovel the snow. They did have a snow blower but due to the ice, it wasn’t working. The more we talked, the more we discovered how small this world can be sometimes. We had a few mutual friends, including some of her family who went to our church, and grandkids who attended Lititz Christian School. Once we were done, she was so grateful that I decided to stop and help her. She waved as I drove away and I just had the thought…what if I consistently spent even just one hour like this, helping and blessing people with the sole purpose of showing Jesus’ love? After all…they will know we are Christians by our….LOVE.

So what about you? How have you served another in need this week? Have you been intentional about looking for opportunities around you? Is your ‘love’ for others characterized by a feeling…or by action?

More Salt and Light

Grace Church people were out and about being “Salt” and “Light” this weekend! On Saturday, a group of volunteers handed out over 100 free cups of hot chocolate near Lititz Spring Park along with invitations to visit Grace Church!

21501033_555994567822977_1286298012_o1492113_556174297805004_1030785841_oencouragers

On Sunday, a group of people headed to Urban Hope in Philadelphia to participate in their church service, and to serve as volunteers for the afternoon Kid’s program, “Kingdom Kids”.

1511920_666386866717178_1426368497_n1475870_184576678405649_888220553_n1518855_666387586717106_1581537606_n1514536_666387190050479_2019648213_n

What about you? What are you doing to be “salt” and “light” in our community? Who will you invite to church this week? Jesus said that people will know we are His followers because of our LOVE. Love people tangibly this week!

Local Compassion: House of His Creation

HOHC logo A portion of our Local Birthday Gift for Jesus funds will go to support House of His Creation, an organization whose mission is “to bring hope, restoration, and service to single, young birthmothers and their children through Christ-centered homes.” HOHC has a Mother-Child Home right here in Lititz where several Grace Church members and ministries have served.  Together, we are helping to provide them with a safe place to heal, learn and build a better future. HOHC has also recently implemented a new program called “Beautiful You” for girls and young ladies ages 8-18. It was developed by a former HOHC daughter and is designed to teach young women how to run the race BEFORE it starts.  Beautiful You events provide instruction and guidance in the area of purity and developing a deeper relationship with Christ. By sowing the seeds of knowledge, our daughter’s will understand their immeasurable worth and be empowered to make healthy life choices.  Topics are presented in a manner that is fun, easy to understand and designed to strengthen the critical relationship between daughter and mother (grandmother stepmother, aunt, guardian, etc.). To sign-up for an upcoming Beautiful You event or for more information regarding HOHC programs, visit our websites: www.hohc.org and www.beautifulyouevent.org

Money will be collected for the “Birthday Gift for Jesus” throughout the month of December.  Please make sure cash gifts or checks to “Grace Church” are marked for this project, or if you prefer click here to give online.