Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Titus Twosday...P31 Fears!

I have to ask this question. Does the Proverbs 31 woman bring thoughts of fear to your mind? Does she intimidate you? Is she the standard by which you seek and find yourself failing time and time again?

I do have to say I think every Christian woman has struggled with this thought. First off I need to say sister you are not alone! Let’s take a quick look at the woman described in this text.

Proverbs 31:10-31
The Woman Who Fears the LORD

10An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet
22She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

As I look at this verse, I see this woman handling business. I don’t know how many children she has or the type of chaos she experiences on a daily basis. But I can very clearly see what she is doing. Her husband trusts her to basically make things happen. She provides food and makes ready for the rough weather. She is selling and purchasing property. She is making things with her hands and then selling them for assistance within her home. Bottom line she is a busy woman with many talents and skills that she uses to provide for her family.

Here is the thing we don’t always get. Go back and look at the bold italics.

• She is far more precious than jewels.

• She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

• Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

• Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

• Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

The P31 woman is not really about all the things you can do in one day or week. It is about who you are! This woman is strong, faithful, diligent, supportive, giving and considerate. That is who she IS, not what she does. The things she does is a result of who she is! Am I making sense? I think we spend a lot of time trying to find the check list of things to do that we forget to simply be! But the truth is if you are in Christ you already are. Don’t allow this woman to cause you to fear, stumble or worry! The things you do are because of who you are.

Take sometime and examine your life. Ask yourself why do I DO this or that? Am I DOING something because I think I must do it for the favor of God, the praise of men, or to fulfill my Christian role/duty? What is the real deal? Search your own heart. In searching ask the Lord to reveal the true you to yourself. Ask Him to help you to just BE! It is the same with our relationship with Christ. We don’t do a whole bunch of things and then hope Christ will love us, receive us and accept us. It is the complete opposite. God loves, accepts and receives us in spite of us. He changes our heart and mind, and then He will cause us to do because of what already is.

I do pray this makes sense to you. It is very freeing to not compare yourself to every good thing every Christian woman does. The woman described in this text is a great woman who, like I said before is handling business. But the real question is to what purpose and for what is she doing these things. I would argue because of her relationship with Christ and the true value she had placed on her husband and family.
It is because she is that she does!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ministry Monday!

This Ministry Monday is all about ministry with children. You know I have three children. My oldest Nicollus is 11, then Najee’ who is 9 and finally Nichelle at 8. They are truly a handful on every level. I think mostly because as I speak with them, it is like I am talking to myself or my husband. They are truly mini we’s!  Today I shared with a MOPS group, practical ways to incorporate your children in ministry. I will begin by saying children are often left out of most parent’s ministry efforts. Somehow I don’t see that as I view scripture. In Deuteronomy the scripture tell us to teach our children by the way, and as we go. That simply put, as you live out the gospel teach your children what you are doing, why you are doing and then give them responsibility so they will do the same.

How have our children learned to serve in this ministry alongside us? I will be the first to note the contribution my children make every single day is huge! There thoughts are often towards the needs of others in a big way. While we still need to work on not fighting for who gets to hold the cell phone or be the first player on the wii, they are miles ahead when it comes to the true need of people at their core.

We have spent and still do spend a lot of time in family devotions. Phil took the whole family through a Greek class, a study through the book of Acts, Saturday Morning discipleship classes, dinner devotions, breakfast devotions, around the fireplace devotions and discussions. We talk about the scriptures often. We look for ways to apply God’s word to our daily lives. Ministry is not something you do when you arrive at a certain place on Sunday or whatever day of the week. It is a lifestyle! It is the air you breath, because of the God we serve!

Ministry in Oakwood…

In the beginning it was Phillip, me, Nicollus, Najee’ and Nichelle. Every Sunday morning beginning in September 2007 our children would wake up and help load my van with speakers and about 20 folding chairs. Then they would unload all the chairs and help set up and organize the space. Nicollus would help Phil with the sound system. And after we worshipped we would do it all over again! What a task for such little people. Once we arrived in the park the kids would pair up with a parent and knock on doors. Nichelle has always been the boldest one! She would often knock on doors like she was the po po (that was hood for police). They all spoke boldly for Christ. It was awesome to see. They would lead songs and see about peoples needs it was great. They were concerned for the children living in the different conditions we allowed them to be exposed to. Nicollus had a boy in his class who lived in the park. The boy’s glasses were broken. It was all my son could do to make sure that kid had a new pair of glasses. My kids would save their clothes. They would pick out cool toys they had and or no longer used and gave them away... often! We spent a lot of time talking about the types of things you give to people. Our rule is if you would be offended that someone gave that you…don’t give it to someone else! We don’t give away trash to anyone! That really made sense to them and they will get on to people if they bring something to us for donation that is trashy.

Nicollus my oldest has lead groups of people through the park to witness. There was a team of college students who had a heart to serve. We take people in groups. We needed someone to lead a group and my son said, “I’ll take them!” So, Phil agreed to let him take the group around. At the end of the day the group came back and said, “Your son did all the work. He talked to people and guided us through conversations.” I was experienced this with my son also. We were talking to some new residents. The conversation ended with Nicollus taking over and telling the older gentleman about the hope of Christ. Again I was blown away! Yet, very thankful.

We had a Sunday early on, and the weather was off and on with rain and thunderstorm. It would rain and thunder then the sun would break forth. So we had a family meeting to vote on whether or not we would meet in the park. Oh, let me add a few details. We meet outside in a trailer park. Okay so now we are voting, I’ll be honest and say I was feelin’ the whole stay at home thing. But, Nichelle said “We need to go because people need to hear the Gospel!” Really?! Who could argue with that? So we went and the day was beautiful for the entire time we were there. Then as soon as we packed up and were all in the car it burst into rain and thunderstorms. God is amazing!

Najee’ was reluctant. She was always asking when are we going back to normal church (she would make the hand motion of a roof while she spoke) with a roof! I think her biggest concern was all the work she had to put in before and after we gathered to worship. Now she is all over it! Her gifts are acts of service. She wants to bake and babysit for people all the time. She is thoughtful in deed. I’d say she has the wannabe momma ministry! 

I have watched my children grow in ways unimaginable for people their age. They have an awareness of things that I have wondered, is that okay? But in the end that awareness is used for the Glory of Christ and the Joy of People. They are disciples.

Today they love to attend tutoring. Nicollus will be representing CoHO at the Universities in the fall. He is seeking to become a tutor as well. He helps to lead with King’s Club and loves to really get to work on the Nehemiah Projects. Najee’ wants to feed the world. She will see someone and wants to feed them or buy them lunch or bake something. She is usually in charge of helping in food serving. She will make sure everyone is feed. While Nichelle fully enjoys participating with the children. She has the heart that will make kids feel loved and welcomed. She attends tutoring just be around the kids. My kids are open and very real with us as parents. They are quick to let us know if they are feeling neglected due to serving others. They are also quick to say, “It is important that you do this or that.” I really love my children. Phil and I tell them all the time how thankful to God we are for them. They are a blessing in our lives and they bring the balance we need in ministry.

Okay and the very last thing that we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to do is Ding, Dong Bless! We may purchase groceries, clothes, a cooked dinner, toys or something we know the other person has been longing for and we place it at their door, ring the door bell and run away as fast as they can while I’m in the car ready to drive away. It is the most fun ever! You should try it with your kids sometime. But be sure to plan your escape route first! ;)

I could tell fun stories all day. The bottom line is that your kids need to be as important in your ministry as the people you serve and those adults who serve alongside you. Their thoughts need to be considered and you have to give them some responsibility. Finally live a life of real Christ Centered Gospel before them!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Being His Crown FHM

Today let's take it back to the beginning back to basics.  I want to talk about being his crown in physical form.  I know we have gone over this in times past but I certainly think it is worth reviewing.  Let's talk about Adam and Eve!  In Genesis 2:22-25 Adam is put to sleep and this creature appears before him.  The vision of her causes Adam to burst into song.  I could imagine him saying FINALLY look at this....WO   MAN!  Then in verse 25 the scripture highlights that they were naked and unashamed.  I am going to take that information and go from there.

PHYSICAL FORM.....Naked and Unashamed!

Do we have shame in our nakedness before our spouse?  Please know I realize this was the state of man and woman before the fall.  I do however believe we can be naked and unashamed with our husband today because of the redemptive work of Christ.  I have often wondered what Eve's physical form looked like.  Maybe that is the body I should seek after.  Then, truth hits me hard.  Eve was Adam's mark of all things beautiful.  We have become that same mark of excellent beauty for our own husband.  This is a message to not short change yourself or your husband by being shameful or timid because you don't like your look.  I have now come to believe that magazines, books and images in general are not only concerns for men (who are visually simulated), but us too!  We look at these things and instantly compare.  We compare ourselves to images that are sometimes not real.  We now know there is great technology that will allow a woman to be sculpted in a photograph to look totally different than she does in reality.  Now, let's remove the excuse of airbrushing technology.  Say a woman looks fabulous in every physical way.  What does that have to do with you and your husband?  Nothing!  It doesn't matter what other women look like! The physical form of another should not be your standard of beauty.  As we do this "dance" of comparison we deny our husbands the crown they long for in us.  I would even say the issue of comparison is as big a problem as porn.  Why, because it distorts reality.  The reality is you may have booty do (where your belly sticks out further than your booty do), flabby arms, saggy bottom, huge calves, skinny legs, moles, freckles, crazy hair, hair in your chin and on and on.  Friend I want to encourage you as I have to for myself!  YOUR PHYSICAL FORM IS PERFECT FOR YOUR HUSBAND AS IS!  

We are ashamed because of the sin of comparison and dissatisfaction. The bible would call that coveting, murmuring, complaining and discontentment!  Ladies lets seek to be FREE! 

I won't pretend that some of us could be healthier.  Yes, if you feel unhealthy then do something about it.  But don't make everyone around you suffer because you are unhealthy and are not doing anything about it.  If you are the woman that is seeking and actively working on being healthier, great! Take it one day at a time and embrace the physical form you have now as you make the transition to a healthier you!

To the woman who says it is not me but my husband who is not satisfied:
Whether your husband fully understands this truth or not, it is none the less the truth.  If your husband is asking you to gain/lose weight, gain/lose breast, gain/lose butt, gain/lose muscle or whatever, your goal should be to pray that the Lord would help your husband to see the pure beauty (physical form and character) that you are.  Pray that God would cause his eyes only to be for you in every way. In the mean time give yourself unashamed before him.  That will change things in this area for both of you.

1. Stand naked before your husband three times this week!
2. Let him see you change your clothes.
3. Pray for his heart to seek you as his standard of beauty and none other.  
4. Pray for your heart to see yourself as a beautiful offering for your husband in every way!  

Friday, April 16, 2010

Being His Crown (FHM)

Yesterday I recieved a message from Nicole in my inbox.  It was a blessing to me.  I have been saying that I have all these thoughts that I can't seem to complete, then the Lord brings someone along who is in the same place as me and helps me along.  So I have posted the words below for you to read and enjoy.  I will comment about it then you can read it. 

The Lord is amazing in this regard as well.  Angie and I are working together on this Being his Crown series. Well, we hadn't even discussed a topic for today.  I sent her the message that was sent to me.  Then, I checked out her blog and her Being his Crown about this very topic.  I think this is where the Lord is desiring his daughters to be this day!  So enjoy.

Wives and Mothers need to take, make, create and or carve out time for themselves to just be!  I have found this school year that my life has drastically altered.  In that process I seldom take a break for just me!  Whether it be for me to just read the word, or pray, or take a walk around the neighborhood alone.  I like many women have felt that I could not do that because so many things and people need me.  To take a break would indicate leaving something undone.  I love my children and in the same breath I need time away from them.  This is something that pre-school and homeschooling moms need to really consider.  Your job is 24/7 and not many people will tell you to take a break...it is not often an option.  Here is what I realized though, if I don't take the break I will be less than the wife and mother I desire to be.  It is in me to love my husband, it is in me to nurture my children, but when I have nothing of me to give that is when it all goes bad. I go to the rock that is higher than I.

So I encourage each one of you to read this article and take the rest that you need in order to function in the beauty and joy of wife and mother.   

Taking "Mom Time" is not selfish... it's a part of your job!

"I feel guilty when I blow it with my kids and I feel guilty when I take time for myself. I just can't win!" lamented my friend sitting across from me at a local coffee shop. It was a mommy meltdown at its very best.

I reassured her. I've been there. We've all been there. We know we need to take some time to refill our emotional tank, but we feel guilty doing so because it often means doing something away from the family. But then the guilt keeps us from taking care of ourselves and we end up with no reserves when we're disciplining our kids and we blow it. It's a common cycle that most moms experience.

I ran that cycle for years until one day it hit me: taking care of myself is part of my job description as a mom! It's my responsibility. Nobody is going to do it for me. I have to learn to do it myself. Before I'm on empty. Before I'm at the end of my rope. Proactively...not reactively.

With Mother's Day around the corner, I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's each give ourselves a Mother's Day gift. This would be a life-giving gift to us and to our family. Let's commit to putting something in our schedule that fills us up: exercise, scrapbooking, one night out a week with a girlfriend, an hour at the library, a walk, prayer, reading the Bible, sitting on the porch with a cup of tea...whatever activity would fill your emotional fuel tank!

Yes, it will take some effort. Sometimes it will even feel like a hassle. But it's worth it! And it is needed on a regular basis. You and I can't give to our families out of emptiness...we need to give to our families out of the overflow of our heart! The only way a heart can overflow is if it's filled to the brim.

Jesus pulled away from the crowds to refuel. We can follow His example and do the same.

Keeping hearts at home,
Jill Savage
Wife of Mark
Mom to Anne, Evan, Erica, Kolya, and Austin (and Grandma in about 3 weeks!)

Click here for more on how to take the break you need to function with excellence as a wife and mother.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thinking on Thursday!

So I am thinking about my need to love as Christ loves.  I am thinking about what it cost Christ to love people who hated him and would continue in that hatred by their actions all their natural born lives.  The ones that say,  "I am on your team Christ and I love you" will abuse, neglect, disrespect, turn away from and disobey the very Christ they claim to be on the same side as.  

What makes it hard for us to LOVE like Christ?  I will be the first to say (not gladly though), that if I know you hate me or are going to abuse me I am not going to go out of my way to love or serve you.  But what does that say about what Christ did for me?  What does that say about my love for others?  What does God want from His children in this regard? 

Friend in the faith, how I long to release all of my cares, worries and fears aside and love.  I mean really, truly LOVE without fear of the imperfect individual.   I think that is what Paul means when he said "count it all as loss".  We need to count everything in this life as loss "for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."  Phillipians 3:8

My prayer this day is that I will truly count my life and everything I have as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.  This my friend is a hard saying!  I don't think we realize what this means.....I am only beginning to understand the gravity of this statement!  Lord help me to walk this out in spirit and in truth!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesdays Word

I have been working on all kinds of post, yet I can't seem to complete one!  Mentally I am all over the place, Emotionally I am all over the place, Physically I am all over the place, Spiritually I am grounded but wrestling!  So would you pray?

I will leave these words with you and me!

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ministry Monday

The article below was published yesterday Sunday April 11, 2010 in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.  Please read and enjoy!

RIVER VALLEY and OZARK AREA — The first time Gary Harrison, a white man, saw Phillip Fletcher, a black preacher, in the mobile home park in Conway where Harrison lives, a drunk Harrison screamed and cursed at him to leave.

When Fletcher left Harrison’s mobile home after a visit on a recent afternoon, Harrison hugged him, slapping him affectionately on the back - even gave him a quick kiss on the side of his face.

“You’re my brother, man,” Harrison said. “I love you, but don’t tell nobody.”
Fletcher laughed and walked slowly through the trailer park, wearing a backpack and looking like a college student instead of a 37-year-old who made Oakwood Village mobile home park, at 475 E. Robins St., his mission and started City of Hope Outreach.

“Gary and I - that’s after three years,” Fletcher explained. “You can’t do this type of thing looking for immediate results. I come out with a lot of grace looking for God to do something.”

That something has been more than telling people about the Bible. It’s grown into a mission that helps people with food and utility bills, cleans up the park and tutors the children who live there with the help of community, church and college volunteers.

Fletcher got there by taking a wrong turn.

He was working at the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office in Little Rock and fulfilling his final requirements to be an Army chaplain.  One day after work in 2007, he turned right off Harkrider Street instead of left to go home.  “I had this impression on my heart to make a right onto Robins. ... I said, ‘This is where I’m supposed to preach the Gospel,’” he recalled.  “This is a community, Chateau Ghetto, affectionately, if you will,” Fletcher said.

His wife, Nicolle, was a little skeptical when he told her.  “I was like, ‘No, that’s not what we’re doing. That doesn’t make sense to me.’ I thought he’d lost it,” Nicolle Fletcher recalled.

Fletcher kept his paying job - at first.  Fletcher said that as he started the ministry in the mobile home park, Nicolle’s father was retiring and closing his church and had chairs and a sound system for them.  “We got all the stuff we needed and went out there, and nobody showed up,” Fletcher recalled with a chuckle.  “We just set up the stuff, sang some songs - I play the guitar - opened up the Bible and said the message. So we kept coming every Sunday,” he said.  Fletcher’s wife and their three children, ages 11, 9 and 8, participate in the ministry with him.

“We started knocking on doors, ... and people thought it was a strange thing,” he said, but people began to wander to the grassy spot where Fletcher was holding church; some just slowed down in their vehicles with the windows rolled down to listen.  Now as many as 50 people gather at 1 p.m. on Sundays, a combination of Oakwood residents and people from outside the park.  “It’s organized chaos,” Fletcher said, describing the scene. But however he can get the message across - that God loves them and that there’s hope - he’s willing to do it.

It wasn’t just about singing a few hymns and reading out of the Bible, though.  “Over time, what I realized was, we’re out here preaching the Gospel, teaching about the love of Jesus Christ, but seeing all these needs people have in the community. We’re saying this, but you have to demonstrate the love of God as well,” he said.  “For people outside in local churches, we started giving them an awareness of this community. Oakwood is like a city within a city, and you have good and bad parts of a city. One street, ... people own their trailers, keep them clean; the other part has problems: some crime, abuse, mental illness is present there.”

Fletcher said he was in Korea with the Army before he went to Iraq.  “The fear of being in places that don’t look safe, I don’t have that,” he said.

He knocked on Gary Harrison’s trailer door one afternoon, reporter and photographer in tow.  Fletcher said Harrison didn’t like him at first, mainly because he’s black.  “He struggles with some things,” Fletcher said.
Harrison answered the door and told his daughter, whom he was talking to on the phone, he had to go because “my preacher is here.”  Harrison apologized for being drunk.  “Hey, I’ve got some money for you,” he told Fletcher, and Harrison went a couple of steps away into the tiny bedroom and came back with a big Bible.  He opened it and handed Fletcher two $20 bills tucked inside the pages.  “If you’re my friend, you’ll take it,” Harrison said when Fletcher hesitated. Fletcher had “helped him out” with rent.  “I’ve lived a stupid life and I’ve met some stupid people,” Harrison, 59, said. “I’m an ex-criminal. Ex. That was 30, 40 years ago.”  Harrison said he was in prison for 12 years for stealing a car in Michigan.  Harrison said the only reason he agreed to talk to a reporter was because of Fletcher.  “I trust him implicitly,” said Harrison, sitting on a twin bed in the living room, holding a cigarette in one hand, a bottle of whiskey in the other.

Fletcher won Harrison overslowly but surely. One day Harrison requested a song - “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” he recalled - at a church service, and Fletcher kept talking to Harrison.  “I’ve been racist. He (Fletcher) is a true person. He is a true person, and he has showed me myself, and he has showed me God.
“He has been there for me. I ain’t been busted in a long time.” Harrison said Fletcher has made a difference in the atmosphere in the park.

One woman who lives behind him and used to hate him now speaks to Harrison.  “She comes by and says hello and says, ‘I love you,’” Harrison said.  Harrison said he enjoys coming to Fletcher’s Sunday services, “when I’m not hung over.” “I’ve got a reputation to uphold,” he said. “This is Chateau Ghetto.” Fletcher points out other people he’s gotten to know in the park - this guy is a good handyman and helps with the ministry; the man’s wife knitted caps for people at Christmas.  “People have started to take ownership and are trying to contribute in whatever way they can,” he said.

The turning point came in 2008, he said, when he spent the night in the park in a tent.  “I said, ‘For these people to trust me, I have to spend the night out there.’ During that time, kids came out and they would sit and we would just talk about whatever. Then somebody would say, ‘Hey, are you hungry? We’ll give you a bologna sandwich to eat; that’s all we got,’” Fletcher recalled.  Another resident offered to let Fletcher use his bathroom.  “One guy, Robert, said, “OK, preacher - I hope you make it through the night!’ That was the turning point, because the next morning, it was Sunday, and Robert said, ‘Well, I see you made it through. It wasn’t that bad, was it?’” Fletcher said, “Typically, Christian organizations will go into neighborhoods that are notthe best, and we go in, we do our thing and we leave. God coming into the world, he became one of us, and that’s what I wanted to show them: I want to get to know you; I want to gain your trust. A lot of them, their trust has been violated again and again and again. They become survivors, too.” Fletcher also befriended a couple living near the mobile home park, Emilio and Nancy Marcial. They were raising their granddaughter because the girl’s mother is in prison.  The Department of Human Services took the 10-year-old from the home because of multiple problems, Fletcher said.  There were roaches, for one thing.

Fletcher and the City of Hope Outreach formed the Nehemiah Project, which “is just the project we have about community renewal and improvement in the area - having people clean up their homes, beautify the area around where they live. Like with Emilio and Nancy, getting them into a better living situation.” Students from Central Baptist College, New Life Church and the University of Central Arkansas spent a day moving the couple from the home to an apartment across town and cleaned the home to satisfy the rental requirement.

Emilio, a diabetic, had his legs amputated after an infection.  Fletcher was able to get him an electric wheelchair.  “They gave me a choice - cut ’em off or die in the next two months. I told them I wanted to live for my granddaughter,” Emilio said, looking tearful.  Nancy said, “She is our life.  We’re just waiting for her to come home.” Nancy, who said she struggles with bipolar disorder, told Fletcher that at a court hearing the day before, their grandchild was put into a mental-health facility.  “They’re not telling me how long” she could be in the facility, Nancy said. “She has issues because of her mom and dad, but she’s not mentally ill,” Nancy maintained.  “The courts were pleased with us,” she added.  Fletcher asked the couple what the girl needed and promised to visit her.  Nancy said the City of Hope Outreach made a difference in their lives.  “Oh, Lord, they’ve done everything - moved us out of an old, cold, drafty house and moved us into this beautiful apartment.” She pointed out a photo of the large group of volunteers who helped them move and signed good wishes on the mat in the frame.  Nancy said City of Hope Outreach and Fletcher “basically raised the [quality of] living there, ... and the church, it’s growing. There’s an awareness of God there.” She showed off her granddaughter’s bedroom down the hall, which was decorated in purple and turquoise and Hannah Montana posters.  “She’s going to love it when she comes home,” Nancy said.  There’s another court date in two months.  “Yeah, I still have hope,” Nancy said.

Fletcher quit his full-time job in December to devote himself to the mission.  Will he do it forever?  “For right now, this is where I am,” he said. “I don’t look that far down the road. This is my second family. All of them are.  As long as the Lord wants me to be here, I’m going to give my heart and soul to it.” - tkeith@ arkansasonline.com

This article was published today at 6:53 a.m.
River Valley Ozark, Pages 139 on 04/11/2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More On Ministry Monday!

This was another article written this past Sunday April 11, 2010 in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Ministry offers more than preaching

By Tammy Keith

RIVER VALLEY and OZARK AREA — It’s not just about the preaching.

City of Hope Outreach, which started in 2007 when Phillip Fletcher felt called to minister to Oakwood Village mobile home park in Conway, has evolved into a partnership with local churches and colleges to have cleanups, community meals and tutoring for the children, who attend Marguerite Vann Elementary School.

The soft-spoken founder, who left his Army chaplain track to start the outreach, said the idea is for people to “take ownership, improve and break this stereotype of what Conway thinks Oakwood is.  “Regardless if you believe in Jesus or not, it’s getting them together and saying, ‘How can we improve this community ?'”

Students from Central Baptist College and the University of Central Arkansas in Conway volunteer to tutor children from 4-6 p.m. weekdays, except Thursdays.

Gage Jordan, 22, a graduate of CBC, is a member of the City of Hope Outreach pastoral team. He came Tuesday to set up the table and chairs for the tutoring. Jordan said a Conway police officer told him the department receives “about 600 calls a month” about the park.

Public Information Officer Chris Harris said, “I don’t know the numbers, but I know we get a lot of calls. In that area, it could be disturbances, domestics, just all kinds of calls. We’ve had shots-fired calls. You name it; we’ve had it.”

He said any program that “helps cleanup the community and helps introduce them to their neighbors” is helpful.  “If you take a more personal interest in where you live, it’ll always help you,” Harris said.  Fletcher said he wants to help “restore people, so we don’t continue to foster the welfare mentality.”

UCA student J.J. Holland of Cabot, who tutors in the park twice a week, said she wants to become a counselor.  “I really just enjoy it - I like kids a lot,” she said.  Holland said that in addition to helping the children learn, “it’s more of an empowerment thing [for them] - ‘I really can learn this; I really can be more than people think I am.’ They’re very eager to learn, very eager to be praised.”  Jessiah Nelson, 8, a secondgrader who lives in the park, ran up to her.  “Teacher, teacher! Can I get the snacks out?” he asked.

Before the tutoring starts, the students get snacks local churches have donated.  Jessiah, who was all about the snacks, said Holland “helps me read - she listens to me read. She helps me do my math cards.”  Hailey Gibson, also 8, came up full of energy after a day at school.  She said the tutors help her with math, which is her hardest subject.  Jenn Tong, 19, a freshman education major at UCA, worked with Hailey on math problems.  Hailey, a second-grader at Marguerite Vann Elementary School, said she wants to be an author and a teacher when she grows up.  Noting that she appreciates her teacher Lisa Wimberly, Hailey said she loves to read. She rummaged in the plastic tub of books and supplies that are kept in a storage shed in the park and found her favorite, Monday with a Mad Genius.  “I love it - love it, love it, love it,” she said.

Dallas Whittaker, 11, rode up on his bicycle after the tutoring started. He has been getting help with math.
He said he heard about the tutoring through King’s Club, another City of Hope Outreach program. Nicolle Fletcher told Dallas he should try the tutoring. 

King’s Club is held for an hour every other Saturday for the children in the park, Nicolle said.  “We do a short Bible story, play games with the kids, give them a snack,” she said.

She said the mobile home park residents, which she estimated at 300, have welcomed the City of Hope Outreach.  “Once they realized we were serious and really cared about them and weren’t looking at them as a project, the doors opened up,” Nicolle said.  She added, “Christ stepped into human history and became like us on Earth. That’s why we go into their environment. It’s a mission field all its own.” The Fletchers are close to receiving nonprofit status for the organization, Phillip said, and more information about the ministry and ways to volunteer or donate can be found at http://www.cityhopeoutreach.com/.

Several churches in Conway have partnered with City Hope Outreach, including Peace Lutheran, Celebration Church and New Life Church’s college age youth group, Elevation.  David Revis of Conway, an Elevation member and a UCA sophomore, led a Thanksgiving project to give out turkeys in the park. “It was really cool to talk these different people,” Revis said. “They were way more appreciative than anybody would have ever guessed.” Going into the trailers was an eye-opening experience, too.  “I’ve been in one that was almost brand-spanking new on the inside; I’ve also been in one I think there were five holes the kitchen, with cats jumping and out. He didn’t have his gas electricity on,” Revis recalled.

Chi Alpha, a Christian ministry at UCA, has 50-75 students involved in the City of Hope Outreach each month.  Jennifer Shiefer, a Chi Alpha staff member, said it’s “an amaz ing opportunity” for students.  “I think City of Hope needsthe manpower our students provide,” Shiefer said, “and I think our students need the connection the City of Hope provides.  “We invest a lot of time and really try to teach our students to walk out their Christianity and not have it be a once-a-week kind of thing, but have it transform deep inside who they are.”

Nicolle Fletcher said the ministry has had an effect on her family, too, which includes three children.  “From the very beginning, it was just a transformation for all of us,” Nicolle said.  She said she enjoys looking at the scene on Sundays of white, black, Hispanic, all coming together.  “At the end of the day, it boils down to we’re pretty much the same,” she said.

- tkeith@ arkansasonline.com
This article was published today at 6:52 a.m.
River Valley Ozark, Pages 139 on 04/11/2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coming this Month!

I forget to let you know about all the upcoming activities!

This week!
Monday-Wednesday and Friday 3R's Tutoring in the Park from 4pm-6pm

Saturday April 10, 2010
Nehemiah Project/ Not so Extreme Home Makeover with
Chi Alpha in the Park beginning at 10am

Saturday April 10, 2010
King's Club in the Park from 1:00pm-2:30pm

Saturday April 17, 2010
God, Gospel and Poverty Seminar from 9:00am -12:30pm at the United Way Building in Conway Arkansas.

God, Gospel and Poverty is a three hour intensive class desgined to serve local churches and those who serve among the poor and homeless.

In this class, participants will learn about the biblical perspective of poverty, how the Gospel impacts poverty and how to develop appropriate poverty alleviation methods.

This class is conducted in an interactive and lecture format as participants learn from both the teacher and one another. Participation is free and the class is offered four times during the year.

Leave a comment if you have any questions!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ministry Monday!

I must begin by saying Happy Easter or really Resurrection Sunday. I know that was earlier this month, but never the less it was and is a celebration that we should consider daily! So now that the craziness of our traditional Easter celebration is done for this year. I would challenge us all to think about how the truth of Jesus' Resurrection affects our daily lives. We need to seek the Savior daily and celebrate His resurrection power everyday! What does that look like for you?

For me it is the simplest and yet most complex concept there is....LOVE! The power of the Resurrection is real to me on a daily basis when I think of the Love of God in Christ Jesus! This truth is the driving passion behind any and all ministry I seek to partake in. It was Love that drove Christ to the Cross and Love that resurrected Jesus from the dead. It was love that caused Christ to reach down into the depths of my soul and call to me to salvation, it is that same love the compels me to leap for joy or burst into song when I think of Christ!

This Love that does not fail and has no end! Love that covers sin! Love; if only we could grasp the depths of this love we would be changed! I seek to walk in and give that same love that was afforded to me on the Cross of Calvary! What do you remember about the Cross and Jesus' Resurrection?

Friday, April 2, 2010

FHM Being His Crown Series!

The post you find below was written by my husband Phil.  I thought it was so amazing that I had to post it on my blog for the FHM "being his CROWN series".  The post below confirms the truth that you are the crown for your husband.  Without giving too much away: I want to encourage us as women to take physical pleasure in our own husbands.  Sex is not a duty you are required to fulfill, but rather a pleasurable gift from God that brings healing and health to both you and your husband.  So enjoy your man!  Allow yourself to be free and refreshed with sexual awakening with your husband. 

"Marriage that is intoxicating and exhilarating

Solomon, even with his many faults had great wisdom. In Proverbs 5:19, he speaks to his son and instructs him concerning his wife to…

Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love (ESV)

Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
be exhilarated always with her love (NASB)

3 observations

1. Sex is between husband and wife
The sexual relationship described by Solomon is shown as a fountain or cistern that is refreshing to the couple. This relationship was ordained by God and put in place at the creation of Adam and Eve. Within this context we can gain an understanding for the profound beauty of a man and woman sexually enjoying one another in the sight of God and reflecting what God did at the beginning where out of one flesh, God made woman. A husband and wife coming together is a sweet ripple in the waters of life that glorifies God. Out of that truth, husbands should rejoice in the knowledge that God provided them a sweet fountain called their wife, in which they can find refreshment and satisfaction.

2. Her body is your delight and satisfaction
The Scriptures point out the woman’s breast. Men it does not matter if your wife is an A cup, double D or experienced a mastectomy, God commands us to find pleasure in the breast of our wives. It is not a stretch either to say that God is commanding us to find pleasure in her neck, thighs, calves, and yes, the most private portion of her entire body. You are to have complete delight in the body of your wife. You are to be so satisfied in the body of your wife that the very thought of her should cause you to pick up your phones, get off of your computer and take hold what is most satisfying to your own body.

In the versions of ESV, KJV and NASB the phrase “at all times,” is used. Now the point is not that you are going to have sexual intercourse 24/7 but the emphasis is on the satisfaction and delight that is to be found in your wife. At all times she is to be your satisfaction and delight. At all times, the mind, body and soul of your helpmeet should lead you to find a complete joy in her alone.

3. Her love is highly influential
Finally, your wife’s love is to be highly influential. I included above, two different versions that explain how impactful the love of your wife is to have upon you. My favorite is the “intoxication,” version. How interesting it is that we are commanded not to be influenced by alcohol but be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18) and here we find that the love of our wife is to have a greater influence on us than wine. There is a sanctifying work that is present when we as men allow the love our wives to minister to us. So what is the application? Well instead of turning to the literal bottle for “healing,” turn to your wife who will pray for you and will be God’s tool to bring about your delight in her and ultimately Him.

Now if you are not comfortable with referring to your wife’s love as being intoxicating, how about being in a state of “exhilaration,” because of the love of your wife? This is a mood changer. This is the mood you get during March Madness or watching the Sprint Cup or the Super Bowl. God has given us wives which cause us to be in a state of elation, high spirits and happiness. This is huge because this causes us to graciously look beyond the “physical faults” of our wives and be exhilarated. I say physical faults because Solomon points out “breast and delight.” That means we cannot knock our women because she doesn’t look like Halle Berry, Jenna Jameson or some chick on the cover of Muscle Fitness. We have to be exhilarated in the woman that God created and gave to us. Remember, Adam was knocked out cold when God made Eve. He woke up and was so exhilarated to have a wife, he sang!

An Intoxicating and Exhilarating Gospel

Men remember that Jesus Christ found great delight and satisfaction in his wife, the Church, by dying and rising for her. He saw her sins, her physical deformities and cast his great love on the Church. Now there is a great pleasure between Christ and His Church that is intoxicating to some and exhilarating to others. This is the cause for us to love our wives because we have drunk from the river of Living Water and his influential love will overflow into our marriages. So ultimately your intoxication and exhilaration is because your name is written in heaven and because of that elation, your wife will be the blessed recipient of joy.

So take a moment men, refresh yourselves with the fountain of the Gospel and then find that wife of yours."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fund Raiser Today @ Tropical Smoothie!

Come out to the Tropical Smoothie on Club Lane off Salem Rd. to help us raise money to purchase a trailer for the City of Hope Outreach in the trailer park.  We have been blessed to function for almost three years without a trailer or a roof.  We are thankful that the Lord has continually provided for us within the community.  We feel like we are moving very quickly and a central indoors location would greatly benefit the ministry. 

Currently we are running the RRR's Tutoring, Community Meetings, Counseling, King's Club and Bible Study.  Education is not top priority in this community.  So having this trailer will allow a beacon of light within the community.  It will also assist in establishing our perment presence in the community. 

All that to say came out and get your smoothie and dinner today from 5-9pm and don't forget to pick up a flier so 10% of your purchase will go to the City of Hope Outreach.

If you can't make it but would like to donate anyway.  You made make donations online here.  Thank you for all of your prayers, time and finanical support!