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They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

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A Guest Post By Mickie DeVries (My car talk buddy and friend with an endlessly big heart.) 

I feel like I have to preface this post with I’m not a writer . . . I’m a mom, I drive carpool, I take pretty pictures, but I most definitely am not a writer, but you are stuck with me today 🙂  I mentioned this idea of a post to Lisa while our children took swimming lessons in June and she liked the idea that was brewing in my head, and then said the words I dreaded to hear . . . maybe you should think of doing a guest post.  Fast forward a month and this idea was still tugging at my brain, however, I kept pushing it down because after all I’m not a writer and maybe Lisa would forget all about it.  Then I received a message recently from Lisa that went something like this, okay exactly like this since copy and pasting is more my style than retyping:  How are you guys? I miss my daily dose of Mickie! And… now I am going to ask you about that guest post?  She didn’t forget and since I still felt the pull of this topic I’m going to dive in!

 

One Sunday in June we sang the song They’ll Know We Are Christians.  You know the one with the chorus:  and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.  It got me thinking do people really know we are Christians by our love?  Seems like it should be a given since Jesus clearly calls us to do this.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

Jesus also says in Matthew 5:44 (NIV), “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

 

Um… I don’t know about you, but I’m not too good at loving my enemies, anyone excel at this? The more I thought about the statement that they will know we are Christians by our love the more I have questioned if this is an accurate state of the overall Christian church.  There are plenty of people I love, as is true of most Christians, but as a church body are we reaching out to others with love, especially to others that we disagree with?

That is what I question, and if we don’t reach out with loving arms why would a non-believer want to become a follower of Christ when we fall so short of this command

 

More and more lately I see articles, often online, that seek to condemn people in the name of Christianity.  This seems too often be directed at a groups of people that have differing opinions of mainstream Christianity.  Jesus hated sin, but loved the sinner.  We seem to have a hard time with this, but we all struggle with sin, we all fall short without Jesus.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (NIV)

 

I think we need to remember to love more and leave the rest to God.

God can do amazing things through love!  We need to remember that we don’t need to do it all.  In the book Red Letter Revolution (which I won through this blog) I love where it quotes Billy Graham, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”

Let’s start a revolution today that begins with each one of us asking God to help us love our enemies, to show others kindness even when their beliefs are not in keeping with ours.  Let us lead them to Christ by our love.  Let them know we are Christians by our love . 

 

dsc_3166-edit-3Mickie DeVries lives with her husband Luke of 12 years and their two children Alex and Rylie.  She is a stay at home mom that has a passion for photography, reading, scrapbooking, and God.  You can follow her photography blog at Fresh Modern Photography. 

Photo Credit: Meg VanKampen Studios

Offer Hope

THIRD TRY

About Proximity’s story Contrast will be featured in the publication Couch Rebels! Amy Sullivan also has a contribution. The book is set to release August 14, the more support for this crowd-sourced way of giving back the better.

CausePub is a great way to get involved and offer hope.

  • Each book you buy = clean water for a year for 3 people through Blood Water Mission.
  • I’ve read many of the stories and they are inspiring! They offer hope and challenge us to get involved in causes that make a difference.
  • This is not the end… there will be more projects {new stories, offering support to new causes.}

How can you get involved in giving back through CausePub order the book, follow their work on twitter and facebook, spread the word!

I’m really excited to see what future projects CausePub has planned and what impact it will make.

CLEAN WATER

Here is one more easy way to make a difference the month of August:

About Proximity is a Shot@Life champion.

Shot@Life is a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed.

You can get involved in their Blogust Campaign. 

The easiest way is to follow this link to sign up. Each day in the month of August you will get an email directing you to a Shot@Life post. All you need to do is read the article and leave a comment. What happens then?

Every comment unlocks a donation from Walgreens for one life-saving vaccine where it is needed most.

Just comment and help Shot@Life reach their goal of offering 50,000 vaccines.

1.5 million children die each year of a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine.

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One Lord, One Church

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A couple of weeks ago in Holland, Michigan where I live churches covered their individual signs. They covered them with the sign above, in  rucksack stating One Lord, One Church. 

Traveling around town, it was a rather beautiful sight, the visual display of churches working together instead of in competition with each other. I think it is God’s design for his church.

 

Last week, the church we attend held a potluck in an area park. Right before we began another church approached us. They had been out serving the neighborhood by handing out pizza’s. They had extra and they blessed our church by adding them to our potluck. One Lord, One Church. 

I want to hear what ways you have felt the body of Christ come together in such tangible ways. 

 

Here is mine:

Friday night I got to meet my friend, Amy Sullivan at finding God-sized ways to give in the everyday. Her family was visiting family in my area. She took time out of her vacation to hang out. I met Amy about a year ago through our work with the Global Team of 200. She befriended me right away. Sometimes my quiet nature sets me on the fringes. She’s amazing at recognizing those things. In writing, she’s way ahead of me, agented and soon to be published! I can’t wait to share the book with you when its time. She’s a talented and passionate writer and her heart is all about giving back.

Always, she has been so generous with me introducing me to people and opportunities. She is completely unselfish in her help and encouragement. She’s real, honest and oh so funny. I’m so thankful for her friendship and encouragement. In the writing world Amy has been my example of One Lord, One Church. 

 

Thank you to everyone who has been such encouragement to me. Dear friends that never leave me in my everyday life. Family that keeps up. Friends that I pray I will meet in person someday or be reunited with (diane, leese and leslie.) I’m so thankful for you all. I would have quit long ago without each and every one of you!

Graffiti Summer

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About Proximity is joining up with Alene Snodgrass and other bloggers to participate in Graffiti Summer. 

Alene wrote the ebook Graffiti about herself and a homeless friend she met at her church. The story is touching and her friend’s voice is amazing to read.

 

Best described by Alene:

In the Study and Do we look at the life of Moses and how he was challenged to step into the unknown to free people in slavery.

 

The goal of Graffiti Summer is  . . .

to bring awareness to a broken world and give easy steps of how each of us can make a difference.

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The study will begin June 3rd. I will be writing about the challenge and so will many others. There will be link up so you can easily find other’s stories!

Follow the link here, to download your free Study and Do Guide (6 week challenge).

 

I love that as a community we can continue to step out of comfort zones and truly serve with the love of Christ.

If you are a blogger you can still hop aboard! Let me know in the comments and I’ll get you Alene’s contact information.

KaBOOM! Playground Party

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KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

Many kids live in areas labeled ‘play deserts’, where a safe place to play is in not in walking distance. I don’t know what I would have done in my kids early years without playgrounds! If you have furniture jumping, table climbing  kids you know what I mean. We’ve also met people who grew to be dear friends at the playground. One of my favorite playgrounds? An indoor playground at a local church that offers open hours to the public. Their willingness to share was a lifesaver during long Michigan winters.

 

Visit the KaBOOM! website. Here you can find information to make your dream playground a reality including grant opportunities, training, DIY improvement and community space ideas.

Kids who play are healthier

Kids who play do better in school

Kids who play, play well as adults

 

KaBOOM! has a great facebook contest going on!

Share a photo of a playground you love and you’ll be entered to win great outdoor toys! Submit your photo by Tuesday, February 19. An expert team of judges will pick their favorites based on your photo and caption.

 

Browse their photo galleries. They will make you smile.

Read the KaBOOM! blog. Play Today! They also have a great sidebar full of recommended website about play.

Follow them on pinterest,  twitter, or facebook. 

The founder of KaBOOM! wrote a New York Times Best Selling Book KaBOOM! A Movement to Save Play. 

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KaBOOM! also has a book with the best outdoor games called Go Out and Play! 

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KaBOOM! is a partner organization of Mom Bloggers for Social Good and Global Team of 200. 

ACTS, a Family

A Guest Post By: Jamie Van Heest 

What is ACTS?:

The mission of ACTS is to Embrace, Equip, and Empower the youth of Holland. We are striving to show them God’s love so that they may know love, how to accept love, and how to be love in return.

The kids chose to call our group ACTS during a season when we were reading through the book of Acts.  As we learned about new believers and the early church, the kids felt a deep connection to these people and this kind of community. We learned about Christians coming together to share all they had, living together, praying together, and breaking bread together. It was then that our kids realized that they are the Body of Christ and that we are His church wherever we go.

I remember that day so vividly; I was blown away by their faith and spiritual maturity. We had been meeting in a coffee shop downtown because we had no real home, and that day we had gathered a group of over 20 kids as we walked.  I’d never met half of them before, and as we stood in line buying some drinks I heard one new friend ask one of my kids who I was. Marc replied so eagerly and quickly, with such assurance, “She is Jaime!” When the response was just a confused look Marc continued, “God sent her to us! We are like a family.”

ARTS, COMMUNITY, TEACHING, and SERVING are the pillars of who we are as ACTS. The kids have been encouraged and equipped from the start to share their ideas and to be the leaders and the doers of this group. One of the first things we did together was art. Twice a week kids could stop in, eat a meal and create some art. It was not a class, but an opportunity to be creative, to get messy, and to talk to people, and ultimately to find one’s unique voice and the courage to share our stories.

I asked Lorena, one of our girls, what was important to share with people about what we do.  With no hesitation she said, “We do homework, and a whole bunch of fun stuff together. We do art, and eat, and learn to grill outside. We go to the beach and we clean up the beach too! We help volunteer and we work in Lefty’s garden. We always do stuff together as a family and we are always there for each other.”

ACTS is a family. We are living in community with one another, when life is fun and especially when it gets tough. Loving people where they are fosters relationships, trust, and friends challenging each other to do and be more. And when we have people, our own people, and we create a safe time and space together what can be dreamed, created, learned and shared is limitless.  This is ACTS.  And I’m pretty sure this is what Jesus meant for the church to look like.

The ACTS Facebook Page 

The ACTS Blog

My name is Jaime VanHeest and I am the Executive Director of ACTS, a ministry reaching at-risk youth in Holland, MI. God called this ministry into being over the past five years as a group of young people joined together to create a community where they could all feel safe, respected, challenged, empowered and most importantly loved by one another and by trusted adults. It is my great honor to facilitate this ministry and to work with incredible young people who help us discern daily God’s call and direction for this HIS ministry in and through their lives.

ACTS, a Family

A Guest Post By: Jamie Van Heest 

What is ACTS?:

The mission of ACTS is to Embrace, Equip, and Empower the youth of Holland. We are striving to show them God’s love so that they may know love, how to accept love, and how to be love in return.

The kids chose to call our group ACTS during a season when we were reading through the book of Acts.  As we learned about new believers and the early church, the kids felt a deep connection to these people and this kind of community. We learned about Christians coming together to share all they had, living together, praying together, and breaking bread together. It was then that our kids realized that they are the Body of Christ and that we are His church wherever we go.

I remember that day so vividly; I was blown away by their faith and spiritual maturity. We had been meeting in a coffee shop downtown because we had no real home, and that day we had gathered a group of over 20 kids as we walked.  I’d never met half of them before, and as we stood in line buying some drinks I heard one new friend ask one of my kids who I was. Marc replied so eagerly and quickly, with such assurance, “She is Jaime!” When the response was just a confused look Marc continued, “God sent her to us! We are like a family.”

ARTS, COMMUNITY, TEACHING, and SERVING are the pillars of who we are as ACTS. The kids have been encouraged and equipped from the start to share their ideas and to be the leaders and the doers of this group. One of the first things we did together was art. Twice a week kids could stop in, eat a meal and create some art. It was not a class, but an opportunity to be creative, to get messy, and to talk to people, and ultimately to find one’s unique voice and the courage to share our stories.

I asked Lorena, one of our girls, what was important to share with people about what we do.  With no hesitation she said, “We do homework, and a whole bunch of fun stuff together. We do art, and eat, and learn to grill outside. We go to the beach and we clean up the beach too! We help volunteer and we work in Lefty’s garden. We always do stuff together as a family and we are always there for each other.”

ACTS is a family. We are living in community with one another, when life is fun and especially when it gets tough. Loving people where they are fosters relationships, trust, and friends challenging each other to do and be more. And when we have people, our own people, and we create a safe time and space together what can be dreamed, created, learned and shared is limitless.  This is ACTS.  And I’m pretty sure this is what Jesus meant for the church to look like.

The ACTS Facebook Page 

The ACTS Blog

My name is Jaime VanHeest and I am the Executive Director of ACTS, a ministry reaching at-risk youth in Holland, MI. God called this ministry into being over the past five years as a group of young people joined together to create a community where they could all feel safe, respected, challenged, empowered and most importantly loved by one another and by trusted adults. It is my great honor to facilitate this ministry and to work with incredible young people who help us discern daily God’s call and direction for this HIS ministry in and through their lives.

John M. Perkins

John M. Perkins, an American civil right activist, author, speaker, and an advocate of reconciliation and development stands as a man who has put his life in the proximity of renewal. He is the son of a sharecropper and grew up in rural Mississippi. At age 17, he fled to California after his older brother was murdered by the town marshall of New Hebron, Mississippi. In 1960, he became a Christian and returned to Mississippi to establish the Voice of Calvary Ministries. He works alongside his wife Vera Mae and they raised a family of eight children.

John M. Perkins is a pioneer in the area of community development. Not only did he found the Voice of Calvary Ministries, he went on to establish Harambee Christian Family Center in NW Pasadena California, and he co-founded the Christian Community Development Association.  Let Justice Roll On is a 60 minute documentary film about his life. He has authored over a dozen books. His work even inspired the music group Switchfoot to write a song about him called The Sound: John M. Perkins’ Blues.  His work has touched and transformed countless lives.

 

John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development

Vision: Our desire is to see lives redeemed among the poor which will in turn redeem (biblically transform) whole communities.

Mission: To develop the lives of youth, leaders and underprivileged in our community and around the world by setting an example of God’s love to further his Kingdom.

“God has been kind enough to trust us with this work. That’s why we never give up.”

—2 Corinthians 5:1

 

My deepest desire has been that the reconciling love that God displayed on the cross would spread into all the world, and that somehow I could participate in that mission.  ~ John M. Perkins