Category Archives: Stories and observations

The role of community in resurrection and vision: a series of staff writings

Romans 6:1-14 We are dead to sin, but alive in Christ. Sin does not have to control us. Many of us have been lost in sinful behaviors and addictions, but the resurrection of Christ offers us the hope that this destructive nature can die and that something better can take its place. The things that kill us—the things that destroy our health and our relationships have no power compared to the power of the resurrected Christ. If we are willing to die to these things, then we can have a new life in Christ. Some people have a Damascus Road experience in which their lives are so radically transformed that they would be practically unrecognizable the next day after meeting Christ and submitting to Him—that’s the kind of experience Paul had. But others, like Peter, and most of us discover new things daily that we must decide to die to in order to be able to live to God.

Dying to my sins is appealing to me insofar as I do not like to experience pain in my marriage or friendships. I don’t like to do things that make me sick or carry guilt that sickens me. I don’t like carrying secrets that could destroy my reputation and credibility. For our residents I like to talk about this in terms of not having to be afraid of the cops or worry about ever having to go to jail again or relapse and overdose. Avoiding pain is a good motivator.

But living a productive, meaningful life, a life “to God” is even more attractive. This motivation moves past just thinking, “What if I didn’t have to worry about this any more?” It takes us to a new place of “What am I here for? How can I use my life in a good way?” And we get to begin to answer that question by first committing it to God—by realizing that it is now Christ’s life to live through us. The parts of our body can be “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13).

— Andrea Horsch

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The role of community in healing: a series of staff writings

Part of what makes healing out of our brokenness seem so difficult is that while we are suffering, it seems as if we will always remain in our pain, that there is little likelihood that there is hope for improvement, for healing. One of the things that community provides is the encouragement to believe that things need not always remain as they are, community provides hope in its absence, and can be a constant reminder that we are not alone in our pain.

Another antidote to suffering provided in community is a place to be, to belong, during the healing process. The pain of loneliness serves to compound the pain of brokenness, making it feel all the more insurmountable. Having a place to be, where no performance is required, where there is no falseness or expectation, allows us to move into our brokenness, to determine its cause, and to heal. The support found in community lightens the load put on the broken places, just as a crutch serves to lighten the load until we are healed enough to walk under our own power. A crutch, however, is only useful to a certain extent, and after the initial healing, if a crutch continues to be relied upon too heavily, the limb, rather than becoming stronger, will atrophy and weaken. In community this need not be the case, for even before we are fully healed, we can put our brokenness and healing to use, in service to others, in love and support, as others also heal. We can use our broken places and the healing we are experiencing to heal others, thus creating strength, and healing, previously unknown to us. This mutuality ensures that no one person becomes weak from too much support, and that all are able to use theirs gifts for the good of others. This is one movement of redemption in the world; as we heal, we use our woundedness to recognize and heal the woundedness of others.

— Chris Linscott

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The role of community in healing: a series of staff writings

How do we fight unforgiveness as a community? The first step is being open with one another. As long as our lives are kept in the “light” (1John1:6-8) It will be harder for us to hide unforgiveness in our hearts. Being “clear” is a beautiful thing I feel we have here at Good Works. Another very important thing is to not let time pass between when you have been hurt. Whoever first said “time heals all wounds” was not in the right. When allowed to have more time to “simmer” on something that bothered you, it is easy to have those thoughts escalate into more harmful and severe thoughts without having anything worse done to you. The longer you wait to talk about what has hurt you, the harder it is to bring the issue back up. It is easy to have something that hurt you years ago seem as if it is “water under the bridge”. When these things come to our knowledge we need to be able to love the other person enough to give peace to the past memory.


How do we bring more forgiveness into our context here at Good works? This has been the question I have been wrestling with for some time. We are strong in encouraging each other to share when we have been hurt. Our growth could be in sharing forgiveness with those we serve. It is often that I see men and woman who have allowed harmful past relationships dictate their lives. How many times have I wanted to go to them and say “have you seen the payment Jesus has made for this hurt?” But in order for that to happen we need be a community of trust. We should desire to be a community that they would be able to trust with their wounds. We also need to be a Community who forgives when we have been wounded. I need to be a man in a community that is striving to heal those who are wounded. Even if we are not the reasons for their Unforgiveness, we need to be sensitive to what has caused them hurt and beseech the Lord on their behalf. Through Prayer, Fasting, Listening and being honest, we can help Teach and Give Forgiveness.

— Steve Rogers

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the Readings

We all gathered in a downstairs living room, warm and cozy it was, bellies full of deliciousness. Sitting, each in our chair or couch and waited for what was to begin. Some of us were anxious, there were those who were getting drowsy from over eating wanted to go first before sleep overtook them, others were just patient, calm. All were in expectation for the next phase. We were celebrating Christmas as a family, a community of coworkers. This celebration happens each year, something to look forward to, not for the wonderful food, the time away from the busy hustle of answering phones, working on our projects or going through our routine motions, but for this exact moment. No, we do not play secret santa, white elephant or any other typical gift exchange. We celebrate each other. We have all prepared something exhorting, encouraging and affirming. We write these things down and on this special occasion, in this moment we begin to express these words to each other. However, who will begin?

So here we wait, wondering who goes first, the primer for this time. Silence, a pause and a prayer. Finally it was decided that the person with the closest birthday should begin. Some sighed a relief, others, who’s stomachs where causing a state of lethargy, were waking themselves to pay attention. A quick reference to my internal calendar gave me the realization that my birthday was next week. Oh the joy of being first. It wasn’t that I did not want to participate in this adventure, this privilege, but I get supremely nervous. Immediately my palms began to sweat. I reached into my bag and pulled out what I had, what I prepared. I unfolded the papers and drew a deep breath.

“I’m nervous.” I said in a funny voice, to make others laugh and to ease my nerves. It half worked, some laughed, my nerves remained, grew.

My hands shook like leaves in the prevailing winds; a proverbial chill went up my spine. I began and the silence in the room was stifling, but I held on and pursued my reading. The further I went down the page my now cold fingers held fast to the papers to keep them steady. Each sentence I read was off track with my breathing and I’m sure it was hard to understand. As I reached the end of my writings, my affirmation I felt relief flow over me. I believed what I had written had sunk in to the person I was reading it to. I finished. Slowly I pried my eyes form the trembling papers, I looked up and saw her smile, small tears in her eyes, success. I had conveyed what was in my heart, despite my nerves, despite my shaking voice and hands, the sweaty palms and the broken breaths.

We went around, one after the next, reading and finding our voice. We laughed, smiled, tears fell, all was peaceful, grand. Everyone read with grace and full of heart. Each person was read to, hugged and loved. This time is special, this time is needed.

As I watched and listened to my friends I realized I am a part of something unique, something more than myself and this season of good cheer. A smile filled with love and happiness was a permanent feature on my face. Eyes teary at times with each word spoken, this is good.

Far too soon it was time for me to be read to, to be wrapped with words of love and encouragement. My nerves struck once more upon my body, my insides. I often do not accept nor believe I am worthy of such things. This stems from some reasons known and unknown; it is a constant struggle to accept them. Today, in this time, I will try.

She spoke so calmly, so directly, my coworker and my friend. She had a poem she had written, just for me. She began. Words flowed from her lips that blew over me and calmed me. Love emanated from them, kindness fell on my ears and melted my heart. My eyes misty, the same plastered smile of joy was a signal to all that I was more than touched, I felt love and at home. She finished and I hugged her and thanked her from my deepest point.

These experiences happened to all of us that day. We all realized we were loved, are all part of a true family that cares more for us than even we ourselves do. Those filled with anxiety were at peace, those with full bellies stayed awake not wanting to miss a word and those already at peace were added joy.

As the time ended I looked around the room once more, memorizing each face, each expression. I do not want to leave these coworkers, these friends, my family. A slight sadness began to creep in with the realization that this time would not come again till the next celebration of this season, that the love felt this day was to be prolonged. I walked up the stairs to go and I felt my colossal smile had begun to fade, to turn into my normal everyday expression, which is a cross between a smile and contemplative, but it stopped short. My mind reminded me of something good, something wonderful. We have this celebration not just during this time, but we have the opportunity, the privilege to share, to encourage, to love every week, every day. Not just at regular subscribed times, but during all hours of the day. We can do these things whenever we desire, not just during special occasions. My gigantic smile returned; my heart rang out with joy once more. Thank you God for this, for all of them.

– Josh Jones

 

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“Into the eye of the storm”

Thursday Sept. 16 started out as a normal day. I went to work, my sons went to school and my wife had some errands to do. As the day went by the weather was that type my community has all the time, unpredictable. It was warm and cloudy and it would rain for a few minutes at a time, off and on all day. The only thing out of the ordinary was that my wife locked her keys in the car and I couldn’t help her neither could my sons. She had to get her brother to help her. Which it took a while for him to help her and she still needed to finish some errands. That delayed our dinner to a later time, I ended up getting a ride home from work and I decided to walk a couple of blocks home.

As the evening progressed, I was looking at the sky and was thinking how dark and fast moving the clouds were. In all my life, I had never seen clouds that dark or move that fast. I was on the phone with my brother about 5 minutes before the storm hit and I decided I would call him later and go inside. As the wind picked up outside and things started flying by the windows, my wife wanted to try and secure some things outside. I told her not to and close the door. Just as she did, the storm struck and picked our house up and shook it. My wife yelled and jumped at me. Our two dogs were in the house at the time and jumped at me and we were all next to a couch in the living room. The storm lasted about 20 seconds but it was a long 20 seconds of helplessness and fear.

The only thing I could do was hold my wife, our dogs and pray. I prayed and watched complete blackness engulf our home. I prayed and listened to the sound of a freight train go past our home. I prayed and waited on Jesus to come through the storm and take us home. Well, Jesus came, but we did not go home. And our house was ruined. As I began the task of making sure our children were okay (we were in the direct path of the storm and call service was limited at best), I didn’t have time to think about what happened. We have talked with a lot of people about it since then but I haven’t thought about it.

Now as I think about it, I know that my God is awesome and well able to watch over my family and me. And that I may go through the physical and spiritual storms in my life but He will always say peace and be still to the storm on my behalf. I had a lot of people asking what I was going to do right after the storm because we had to get our stuff and move, I was asked a lot of questions and given the offer of a lot of help and so I didn’t have time to be in trauma caused by the storm.

So here I am, a few weeks later, we found a place to live that is a testimony to God, and we have settled in. We are in the process of getting on with living. This wasn’t the first time we have been homeless or displaced, so I guess we weren’t as shocked as others that lost their homes but the trauma is starting to sink in to my emotions and my physical body.

My coping mechanisms are kicking in, so here I am facing a different kind of storm. But God is good and faithful and I know He will bring me through this storm just as He has time and time again. My main goal that has been refreshed in my mind is to love God, will all my heart, soul and spirit. Love myself as I love God and love my wife, sons, family, friends and strangers as I love myself. There is nothing greater than that.

— Jim Todd

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