Rory Story #1: What is the color of love?

What color represents love to you? slider-mission

Blue

red

yellow

 Love was blue and grey shades of sadness the night my husband discovered a boy from our church was leaving town for good.

Fear made my husband’s voice quiver.

“I think Rory is leaving for New York. His family is homeless in three days.”

Rory is a 19 year old African-American young man from our Sunday School Class at church. He was introduced to Christianity through Compassion House, a food bank and resource center that is next to our church. He went to Compassion House to get food for his family and eventually work to earn more food by helping around the place.

Rory’s family lived in the ghetto of lakeland and has struggled with poverty and homelessness for years. He has lived in abandoned houses, foster care, group homes and cars. He and his biological mother were on their own after his father died when he was 8 years old. Rory came to our church at 18 years old.

Love became deep shades of red, as this boy captured my husband’s heart in Sunday School each week.

There is something so special about Rory and his personality. He had a genuine love for learning and was an active participant in discussions. Rory was not like most of the kids in Sunday School. As he left church, he walked back to a hard life and not a privileged meal at a restaurant.  He walked back to a life on streets without security that most of take for granted.

Love was shadows of grey for Rory living in the ghetto.

The ghetto: full of  hopelessness and empty promises from those he trusted.The ghetto: devoid of true joy. It is survival. It is getting by. It is never living for more than Friday. Rory told me that when you live in the ghetto, you start to get used to believing you will never get out. There is nothing more. Good people have nothing and bad people are rewarded with  money in bad ways. They seem to prosper.

Three weeks ago, love became yellow in my husband’s heart, shining hope for Rory in a moment of decision.

Mark shined an opportunity that came with a question:

“Rory, will you stay in lakeland, Florida? I can help you here but I can’t help you in New York.”

Mark quickly left church with Rory and asked him mother to trust him to try to help Rory. His mother agreed to let us take care of him, to try to help build a better life for Rory in the future. Through her tears and some hesitation, Rory made the decision to stay in Lakeland. He came to live with us on the other side of town.

Love was orange as fear and in trepidation filled my heart-

MARK- ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!! We just sent a boy off to school and now we are taking on another one that I don’t even know! I felt a wave of panic mixed fear and impending disaster-

Love was white in my heart that day- White is safe- White is plane – White is status quo- white throws money at problems but not it’s heart!

That’s what safe white girls do!

A solution was born that Rory would live across the street at my brother-in-laws house. A safe entry to a stranger coming to live with us, unexpectedly but not completely unwanted. It was my fear that was preventing me from extending full love to this boy who needed my help, our help, our family.

He arrived with dirty clothes that we began to wash and a gorgeous smile that was irresistible. His hug left me speachless that first day.

Somewhere deep inside, I heard a voice say, Will you make him a meal? Will you just make him food?

Love became the color of grilled chicken and salad. It became the color of green beans on a plate from a can.

Love smelled like good food. I’ve smelled that kind of love before in Malnutrition Centers in Guatemala with Orphans Heart.

As I took that plate of food to Rory, I was filled with joy, more than any joy you find in a store or experience on a vacation. I heard that familiar heartbeat in my ears, the one that beats for the needy, the poor, the hungry. Yes, I know that heart beat. I usually have to get on a plane and fly around the world to help hungry kids. Now I just have to open my door.

Love became purple, a royal calling was being born and I began to see this boy with a kingdom purpose for God in this world.

This was not ordinary street kid, this was a man in the making. This boy had potential for so much more and with just a little, his life could become a lot.

My Christian speaking and writing ministry seems ridiculous in light of the tangible opportunity I had to change the color of love in my heart.

Yesterday, my brother-in-laws house sold. Rory moved into my home, into my son’s bedroom, and into my heart.

Love was green yesterday, as I shopped for groceries in the store with him.

I let Rory drive the family mini-van to the grocery store, practicing his driving. ” Miss Tracey, I am whipping’ the hoop-tie . ( that means driving the car )  He is a becoming a great driver as Mark helped him get his learners permit. He practices driving our cars in a back field behind our house. We walked in the grocery and he grabbed the cart to push for me. He remembered doing that for his own mom.

An unexpected simple experience suddenly transformed into a bond experience.  We picked out food and vegetables and yes, I even let him get sugared cereal, Frosted Flakes! We laughed in the grocery story as he pushed my cart. I felt just like I do with my own boys. My little helper just happens to be 250 pounds and 19 years old.  We laughed as we saw Black families looking at me strange and white people looking at him. As we were checking out of the lane, I noticed I was late to pick up my daughter.

Rory smiled and laughed- ” Uh Oh, I am late to pick up my little sister! ”

We headed to the car, picked up Faith, and headed home

Love is black, rich deep ebony, warming my soul and fueling my faith.

As I fluffed pillows on his bed and took laundry to be washed, my heart filled with pride as if this boy could be my own son. Rory is in my home and love is black, rich deep ebony in my heart. My faith sees this young man as a great leader and a prosperous individual.

I may never be the color of his skin but he is the color of my heart.

Today, I am thankful I didn’t stay the color of fear or the color of my safety-

I am glad God changed the color of love in my heart-

Will you change the color of you heart?

Think about my initial question:

What color is love and will you let God change that color to love someone else- ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you support your friend’s ministry?

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Here is a little check list to find out if you support your friend’s ministry–

1.) Do you give your friend little tangible reminders of your support?

As I mentioned in my other post, my confidence was drooping before a big event and a friend drove some flowers to my doorstep. They encouraged me so much, that I put them in my car and took them to my upcoming event. It felt like I had a little reminder of how much my friend was standing beside me in prayer. Your tangible support could be a small piece of candy with a note or a text message with a picture. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, it just needs to be some way that you let them know you notice what they are doing for the Lord. Let’s face it- Ministry outside the comfort zone of your church family can be scary- Find a tiny way to say- GO FOR IT!

 

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2.) Do you help promote your friend’s ministry to others?

At the conference I had a book table and placed the flowers there to greet anyone who might want to talk! I loved hear ing all the responses from the ladies about the flowers. I proudly announced that my sweet friend gave these to me and I wanted to share them. It was an instant connection to the women meeting for me for the first time. They knew someone at home was supporting me and that says a lot. Do you ever post a wonderful comment on facebook about your friend’s ministry? Do you tweet her cool quotes? Do you talk about her to people who might have a connection? Do people around you know you stand to support your friend? Your praise and appreciation open the door for others to see your friend as a valuable ministry worth investing in. You are your friend’s living seal of approval. Wear her ministry with pride!

3.) Do you realize that your friendship has a vital role in the advancement of God’s kingdom?

At the conference, I was nervous but so much more confident with the prayer support of my dearest friends and the knowledge that they were” holding up my arms” in love. Many sent me text messages, prayed over the phone with me and sent me notes. Exodus 17:12-says When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. When Moses grew weak, he had his friends help hold up his arms to ensure the victory of a battle that faced God’s people. In a spiritual way, when you support a friend in ministry you hold up her arms and help God’s kingdom advance through her efforts. Never underestimate the importance of critical friends around you in ministry. You may just be the Aaron sent in to help “hold up a friend” to win the battle for the souls of people.

I cried when I read this card today sent by the ladies from my first women’s conference:

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Guest Blogger Mike Nimer: Are you really saved? Can you pass this faith test?

A theologian was once walking in a prominent city and was approached by a stranger who ostensibly was a Christian. He asked him, “Are you saved” to which the theologian replied, “Saved from what?”

His response seems rather condescending, but his motive was to try and ascertain whether or not this zealous witness understood the true nature of salvation, or was just parroting what he had been taught.

If someone were to ask you to define salvation, what would you say?

Most Christians would say it means to be saved from the penalty of sin (hell), which is correct (Romans 6:23). However, it also means to be saved daily from the power of sin (Phil. 2:12), and to one day be saved from the presence of sin (Romans 8:22-25).

Many in the American church claim they have been saved. Professions of faith are as common now as they were during the ministry of Christ (John 8:31). However, Jesus and the Apostles did not always accept everyone’s profession as necessarily genuine (John 2:23-24).

In fact, Jesus declared that he will one day expose those whose professions are spurious. Many will say to him on judgment day, “Lord” “Lord” and he will say to them, “depart from me I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23).

So, this raises the question as to how one can know for sure he or she is a Christian. To say it another way, how can one have the assurance that they possess genuine saving faith?

Although we are saved by faith alone and not works (Titus 3:3-5; Ephesians 2:8-9), works do give evidence that one is saved. Martin Luther said, “We are saved by faith alone, but it’s not the faith that is alone.”

In the book of I John, the Apostle John gives several tests or works that can help determine if one possesses genuine saving faith.

Take the tests and see if you pass them

1. THE OBEDIENCE TEST

John says genuine believers will walk in a lifestyle of righteousness or obedience (I John 1:5-6; 3:7-9). The pattern of our life will be holiness and a desire to honor God. This does not mean we will be perfect (I John 2:1-2); not does it mean that true believers cannot have periods of barrenness or commit egregious sin (II Samuel 11; I Cor. 3:1-3; II Peter 2:7-8). However if one professes to be saved, but lives in an unbroken pattern of sin, without conviction, that individual may not be saved (Galatians 5:19-21).

Ask yourself: Do I see the fruit of righteousness or obedience in my life?

2. THE LOVE TEST

John says another fruit of genuine saving faith is a love for others (I John 2:9-11; 4:7;19-21). At salvation God sheds his love in our hearts (Romans 5:5) so that we now have the capacity to love as God loves. This love, however, must be cultivated on a daily basis (I Thessalonians 4:9-10). If a person says they are saved, but they hate others or remain in a lifestyle of unforgiveness or bitterness, their salvation may not be credible. Again, this does not mean we love perfectly or never struggle with anger, but a true believer will manifest the love of God.

Ask yourself: Do I see the fruit of love in my life?

3. THE DOCTRINAL TEST

John says genuine believers have a biblically sound view of Christ and of salvation. The Gnostics, which serves as the backdrop of I John, had a distorted Christology and a skewed understanding of salvation. They believed that Christ was not human and salvation was achieved through a secret knowledge.                  (I John 4:1-3; 5:6-8). If one denies the humanity of Christ, and by way of extension his Deity, that person is not a genuine believer (I John 4:1-3; II John). Furthermore, if one denies salvation is by faith alone in Christ, they are unregenerate despite their profession (I John 5:9-13)

Ask yourself: Do I have a proper view of Christ who is the God/man and of salvation?

Although God is the only one who can ultimately judge the genuineness of one’s faith, these tests help provide a guide to give one the assurance of their salvation.

BIO

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Mike Nimer is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Christian Chapel in Sewell, NJ (tcchapel.com)

He is originally from Miami, Fla. and graduated from Columbia Biblical Seminary in South Carolina

He has pastored churches in Miami and in South Carolina.

He can be heard daily on Hope FM 90.5

He is married to Lara and has three lovely daughters: Kaitlyn, Ashley and Amber.

 

A Thankful Heart – #7

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#7 What would life be like without the love of friends?- If you have a friend you cherish-don’t be afraid to share your heart of thankfulness with them. Here’s to the friends who laugh, cry and encourage our lives every day.

xoxo-“share” with the friend you love today!

A Thankful Heart – #6

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#6 Fear in my heart seeks to consume me, paralyze my attempts to chase after Gods calling with abandon.
Thankfulness comes with the joy of full surrender before a God who takes my fear and increases my faith.

Fear – less , live more!!

Love always requires a risk – Love does not make you comfortable but pushes you to dare beyond what you believe you can give. The risk of love will produce a greater reward than you can imagine.

A Thankful Heart – #3

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#3 My daughter Faith, was only three years old when my mother died. She would tell her grandma Joyce, “memember
Grandma!” ( combining the word me and remember) She wanted my mother to remember her and not forget how much she loved her. The last email from my mother to me was signed –

Memember, I love you! Those words, “Memember” would burn into my heart-
Here’s my me-minder for you today:
Be grateful for all those you love and who love you!

And member, God loves you !