Reach Out Recap

I’ve enjoyed reading the various “Reach Out” stories posted this month, and each one inspired or challenged me for different reasons.

Here’s what I learned:

Mary Ellis reminded me to focus on the human element–to be careful not to allow the task to overshadow the person I’m doing the task for. This is true in all areas of life, isn’t it? So often, we can begin a project as an act of love only to become consumed by the project itself. But what people need most is time–human connection.

Here’s a snippet of her story: “But most of all, we prayed with them, listened to them, and demonstrated lessons taught by the Savior. Several of them joined our church afterwards. What did I gain from the experience? There, but for the grace of God go I. These people were no different from you or me. Loss of employment or a serious illness could place any of us into dire straits. I get down on my knees each night and ….” (Read the rest here)

Mary hinted at numerous truths in her story. I’d be curious to know what you gleaned from it.

In Love For a Felon by Kenneth W. Bangs, I was reminded of the importance of maintaining an authentic welcome mat, and of staying alert for divine appointments. God’s timing is always perfect, and He never wastes a moment. May we, as His children, never close a door He’s opened nor walk away from a wounded soul.

Here’s a blip of Kenneth’s story: “He nodded and started talking…told me his whole life story. I’d heard it so many times before…so hard, so violent. I prayed with him and told him to enjoy the fishing. He brought his grandson by several times and then stopped. I got a call from a local pastor. He told me Herschel had cancer, no insurance and asked if we could help. …” (You can read the rest here.)

I’d love to hear how Kenneth’s story impacted you.

Cara Putman’s Reach Out story reminded me that God is ALWAYS there, especially during the storms in life. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Jesus with skin on.” God’s love is never-ending, always flowing, but often, it comes to us through others. May we, as God’s children, daily be conduits of God’s love as we reach out to the hurting.

Here’s a snippet of her story: “After the tornadoes that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, last year, I’ve been burdened by their horrific paths of destruction. I first asked God what I could do when I saw the horrific images of Alabama. Then the weekend storms hit Joplin. A third of the town…gone.

It’s almost too much to fathom.

But the burden wouldn’t leave.” (Read the rest here.)

What impacted you most in Cara’s story?

Our final story this month comes from Ada Brownell. This one was very dear to my heart as I’m passionate about reaching out to the next generation. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s often said this current generation is the “unloved generation.” Our youth are craving adult interaction, acceptance, role models, unconditional love. It’s easy to point fingers and complain about “how things are,” but love goes a bit deeper and focuses on how things could be. Love looks past the behavior to the hurting heart beneath.

Here’s part of Ada’s story: “According to the last statistics I gathered, five million elementary-age U.S. children grow up with no supervision after school. Twenty-two million adolescents are unsupervised between 3 and 6 p.m. on a typical day, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s Child Care Bureau.” (Read the rest here.)

What impacted you most about Ada’s story?

More importantly, how have these stories motivated you to reach out this month? What have you done to actively share the love of Christ? Share it here so we can be motivated to do the same and so we can rejoice at the giver of love, Jesus Christ, who stirs us to act according to His will.

Once again, I want to give a loud shout-out to April’s reach out donors!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free book, and submit your “Reach Out” story for a chance to win a gift basket.

April’s donors include Mary Ellis with An Amish Family Reunion, Deborah Raney with Almost Forever, Cara Putman with A  Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, Vannetta Chapman with Falling to Pieces, Rebecca Lyles with Winds of Wyoming, and Gina Holmes with Dry as Rain. (Read more about all these great books here, and show your appreciating by clicking on their names to visit their websites.)

Come back Thursday to see who won the gift basket and give-away.

(If you have a reach out story to share, send it to jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.)

What Can You Do Today?

I don’t get much sleep in the spring. As a relative newbie to the midwest, when those thunderstorm warnings come, my mind jumps to tornadoes and I spend the night scanning weather sites. My husband, on the other hand, could sleep through anything. Most times, there’s no problem with this, but one spring when a rather tumultuous storm hit, there he lay, in bed, unmoving.

Me? I freaked, and nagged and prodded and pulled. Eventually I got my family down to the basement where we spent the rest of the night. Although on my husband’s end, I think he wanted to seek shelter from me more than the storm. He probably figured, this woman’s not going to leave me alone so if I want to sleep…

Imagine his surprise the next morning as we drove our daughter to school to see roofs torn off and windows shattered. Turns out, the tornado swept through an area ten miles from our home. “See!” I said, making sure my husband saw every bit of devastation. “That could have been us. Next time when the news says to seek shelter, will you please listen?”

He assured me he would…but then midnight, or one am or two am rolls around and he’s tucked in his comfortable bed. Clinging to dream-land, it’s easier to dismiss the warnings.

As Christians, we have this same tendency. It’s easy to stay in our cozy little areas of comfort, with the blankets tucked up under our chin. We know Jesus is returning, we know life is short, storms will come, wars will rage. Cognitively, we know many will pass into eternity today. We know they will go one of two places. We know the reality of eternity without Christ, yet still we lie in bed, believing the lie that we have all the time in the world.

A couple of weeks ago, funnel clouds swept through our area and the tornado sirens went off. I was in the basement exercising and listening to Pandora, pretty much clueless, until I received a text message from our daughter. “I’m in the locker room but I’m okay.” My heart raced and my stomach lurched. I ran upstairs and stood, in a darkened kitchen. If you’ve been in a storm, you know what I mean. It’s almost eerie how well thick clouds can block out the sun. After grabbing our two dogs and a container of water, I dashed back to the basement to pray. There’s nothing worse than being separated from your child during a potentially dangerous situation.

But as I prayed, for her and my husband’s protection, deep peace washed over me. If something were to happen, I knew where they’d go. Obviously, I prayed they’d stay on earth for as long as possible, but I received great comfort in knowing–not speculating, but knowing–their eternal destiny.

This was a very tangible reminder to me of the importance of sharing the gospel message–of living the gospel message–at every moment.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)

The Bible tells us today is the day of salvation. We are told to be awake and sober, ready to make the most of every opportunity for the days are evil. Live life in engaged mode. I have no idea when “the end” will come. Every generation since the time of Christ believed they were it, and yet here we are. But I do know the end will come for someone. I also know I have been given the message of reconciliation.

So what am I going to do today that will have an eternal impact? How can I be the hands and feet of Jesus today? 

The Bible tells us that God is sovereign. He chooses the time and place for each of us to live. There’s a reason you’re where you are right now, in this decade, in that neighborhood, working that job, participating in that club. Before you settle for the mundane, spend some time in God’s presence and ask Him what He’d like you to do in your sphere.

Then commit to obey. I can tell you, your life will be anything but boring. And if you really want to feel God’s love pulsating through you, then do His work.