Romans 12:2: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
As I write this blog post today, I find myself reeling after a couple of really difficult weeks. Difficult losses, unmet expectations, inconvenient logistical changes, and other unfortunate circumstances have left me in a really tough place physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All of these realities have made writing a difficult endeavor. I was unsure of what exactly I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. But, as I reflected on the highlighted verse from Paul’s letter, I realized what I wanted to talk about.
When I would think about Romans 12:2 in the past, I would usually view it as a commentary on how we, as followers of Jesus, should interact with temptations or desires that go against what God has asked of us. And, while I don’t view that as a wrong interpretation, I will say that the past few weeks have made me look at Paul’s words in a bit of a different light.
When dealing with things that weigh on our minds and hearts, I believe that followers of Jesus have an opportunity to be different. When we have a down week, or multiple down weeks, we can trust that we are still held tight in God’s steady hands and that there is hope even in the darkest and most difficult of circumstances. To be sure, this doesn’t exclude us from feeling grief, or deep sadness, or any other emotion, but rather, walking with Jesus helps us have the confidence to face those feelings and emotions and trust that we are not alone in the fight. It’s not up to us to carry all of these emotions ourselves. We have hope when there seems to be no hope and a firm identity when everything that we cling to seems to be fading. So, even in the midst of the hardest challenges, we can have hope and face it all because of the God that is in us and the people and resources that God puts in our lives.
Fall is here but never fear as the Access-Life September #AL3IN3 video is here, too! Enjoying some Florida Sunshine in our yard under the trees with a great Sun joke, verse on good things from God and update on the good things God is doing thru the ministry. Check it out and we pray you are encouraged and blessed. :)
God was on the move this past Saturday as we had ministry going on in two different places on the same day. That’s right, in East Tennessee Shady Grove Methodist church and New Freedom Missionary Baptist church came together to lead our East Tennessee Access-Life Outpost team to host our first but not last Fall arm Day. In Central Florida, we had a group from Live Oaks Community church help us transfer our 15×15 storage unit full of mobility and medical supplies for our annual Belize mission trip [we actually have not been able to go since 2020 because of medical challenges] into one of our ministry trailers. This not only saves us monthly fees but take the first big step in us going back to Belize!
Now there were both two totally different types of ministry work but both important works for God’s Kingdom. In East Tennessee, the goal was to share the love ad gospel of Jesus with individuals and families living with disabilities. We wanted to bless those we attended with respite, fun, fellowship and hope, all in the name of Jesus. There were animals including horses, archery, arts, crafts, games, airsoft, hay rides, candied apples, food and more. It was a real Farmabalooza!
In Central Florida, we were preparing to share the love and gospel of Jesus with individuals and families living with disabilities by moving and staging mobility items and medical supplies that will be shipped to Belize and fitted and distributed to those in need at the Hearts of Christ mission. Two totally different types of work but both with the same goal: sharing the love and gospel of Jesus with individuals and families living with disabilities that are in need.
So there you have it. Sweaty, fun, hard, hopeful, engaging, fruitful God blessed ministry work in two different places on the same day and even at the same time. NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL A REAL HEAVENLY DOUBLE HEADER! Special thanks goes to Kenneth Graves, Karen Stryker and Hannah Spalding for seeing that God work got done as He worked through the hearts and minds of His people to do amazing things. We hope you enjoy the pictures and see you at another Access-Life activity soon. :)
Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days, and I will live in the LORD’s house for the rest of my life. Psalms 23:6
Verse six of Psalm 23 is a passage of scripture that I often forget about. It’s an aspect of this well-known Psalm that I overlook. When reading King David’s words, I find myself focusing on the other verses in Psalm 23 that talk about God being my shepherd and how God is with me as I walk through the darkest valley, but verse six feels different
I love the idea of God’s goodness and faithfulness pursuing me. It’s a different thought process than I am often used to. When I think about my relationship with God, I often view myself as the one who pursues, I am the one who has to earn God’s goodness and faithfulness. But, this is, of course, an incorrect and unhealthy view of the Good News of Jesus.
God pursues me. It’s never been the other way around. God shares goodness and faithfulness with me, not because of anything I have done, but of God’s consistent character and vast love. It’s all because of Christ.
Sometimes when writing articles like this, I try to have deep and profound statements to share. But the beauty of the Gospel is its simplicity. Because of Christ, we can come boldly before God and experience an unending amount of goodness, faithfulness, and love.
God pursues us, God loves us, and God wants to be with us. That’s the Good News. King David worded it better than I ever could, surely God’s goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all the days of my life. I never want to forget that, and I want to always be someone who reminds others of it as well It’s simple, yet profound. It is the Good News.
Well, it’s time for our August #AL3IN3 and we have a special treat for you as our new Access-Life intern Hannah Spalding will be bringing you the monthly joke, verse and ministry buzz. :-) So say hello to Hannah and enjoy the funny news, good news, and ministry news!
We put these NEWSY NOTES in the mail on August 19, 2022 and now we are sharing them with you. :) Our hope is that this summer’s newsletter gives you insite into the blessings of ministry and keeps you up to date of all the good God is doing through Access-Life.
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:23
This verse in Lamentations is a truly beautiful reminder. However, as I was preparing what I would say and how exactly I would articulate it, I found myself gravitating to a verse that precedes the words that precede the words emphasized at the top of the post. “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:” Lamentations 3:21. I love how these two verses connect and I especially love the idea of daring to hope.
I remember a conversation I had about a week or so ago where a family member was affirming me and proud of me for not getting discouraged as I’ve been traversing through a rather difficult season of life. My response to them was that I was (and still am in many ways) discouraged, but I won’t quit. As I thought back on this small conversation, I thought about these verses in Lamentations and how they described the same sentiment that I did in my response to my family member. Yes, I am discouraged, but I won’t quit, I will still continue to dare to hope.
The more that I have thought about this idea of daring to hope, the more I began to wonder why I continue to dare to hope even when life isn’t going the way that I expected. And, as I pondered this question, I realized that the answer is found in Lamentations 3:23. Why do I continue to dare to hope? Because God’s faithfulness and mercies are new each and every day! My hope can remain because God is consistent even when life is anything but consistent. My resolve is replenished by an unchanging Source. This, of course, doesn’t imply that I have a phenomenal attitude each morning, but it motivates me to not quit and always dare to hope.
If you find yourself metaphorically walking through difficulty and losing hope, may I be a voice who continuously reiterates that you are not alone and that our Source of hope is unchanging. As a result, we can keep going even when we feel discouraged. Because of who God is and what Christ has done, we can dare to hope.
The July #AL3IN3 is here…and it is still July. :) We have Access-Life logos, vans, chickens, people forgetting things, farm animals, ice cream, candied apples and more! Check it out and have a God blessed week. #ETNFALLFARMDAY
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11
About a week or so ago I was eating dinner at a local restaurant with a friend. I was eating way too many wings, talking about life and just having a great time! While we were sitting at our table, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see a group of teenage guys at the table directly behind me all looking in my direction. They all had their Bibles and notebooks open on the table and it immediately became apparent to me that they were having a Bible study. This, admittedly, initially made me nervous. I wasn’t really in the mood to get thrown into a time of prayer. However, the conversation that followed ultimately took a route that I wasn’t quite prepared for.
One of the guys at the table began to share that as the group all saw me sitting there eating way too many wings with one of my best friends, they could sense that Jesus was with me. It was so apparent and so obvious to them. They all seemed to be genuinely glad that I was in that restaurant that night and encouraged me to keep fighting the good fight. Their words stopped me in my tracks. I was unsure of how exactly to respond. So, I thanked them multiple times and then slowly turned back to my table and attempt to catch my breath and process what just happened.
I needed to hear their words that night. I needed to be reminded that Jesus was still with me. It’s not because I had forgotten, but because life has a funny way of making me feel isolated and misunderstood as I traverse through the inevitable ebbs and flows. I needed to remember that I am not alone, and that group of guys helped me do just that. Their encouragement was the reminder that my heart and mind needed then and still need now.
When I see verses in Scripture that implore us, as followers of Jesus, to encourage and edify others like in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, it can be easy for me to feel inadequate. I immediately assume that I don’t have the right words to say, or that it isn’t the right time to proverbially step out. But, those assumptions are just that, assumptions. It’s not our job to make sure that our encouraging words are perfect, rather, it is our job to do the best we can with what we have and lovingly and graciously share the words that God has asked us to share. We never know what kind of impact our words can truly have.
Well, I know it’s a bit late but here is the Access-Life#AL3IN3 for the month of JUNE! Hope you are blessed by the words and be on the lookout for our JULY #AL3IN3 soon to catch us back-up on our jokes, verses and updates.