Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One Man Can Change His Family's Destiny

Meet Demond

I met Demond last September at one of first open houses at Monroe Circle Community Center. He had recently moved his family from Chicago to South Bend due to the ever increasing violence in the windy city. Demond was a gang banger on the south-side of Chicago but something inside of him wanted more for his family. Problem was moving from Chicago changed his address but really didn't change his destiny - it seemed no one wanted to look beyond his past and give him a chance. So, that Saturday afternoon in September he was sitting on his front porch, had just popped open an ice cold beer and someone walked up and asked if he would like to come over to the community forum at MC3. His first response was "no thanks - I'm good!" but something called hope nudged him inside so he poured out that frosty beer and walked over to MC3.

After meeting with Demond a couple of times we asked him if he would help us test a partnership with the Center for the Homeless and go through a program called STARs. STARs is a 5-week "soft-skills" vocational training program that teaches many of the "unspoken" rules of the middle-class work world that someone growing up in the projects of Chicago would never have had the chance to learn. Something sparked inside of Demond and everyone could visibly see and hear the difference. The staff at the Center we so impressed with Demond that they asked him to interview for a lead front desk staff position. Out of 35+ candidates he was one of the two finalist. Demond was not offered the job and he was disappointed but not discouraged - he knew he was headed in the right direction.

We then introduced Demond to the people at Personnel Partners and they were extremely impressed with his focus and intent on finding an opportunity. He worked a couple of temporary jobs until he landed at Genesis Group where he is excelling beyond expectation as a customer support person. Today, he is one of their top sales people.

Last Sunday afternoon, SonCity Kids had a carnival in the Cove's parking lot for all the kids and families of Monroe Circle. Demond showed up with his five kids and wanted to help out. He spent time in the dunk tank to his kid's delight and at the end of the day asked Corey (SCK site leader) if he could plug in and help out.

Demond has changed his family's destiny and possibly will leave a last legacy at Monroe Circle. Keep walking my friend!

Monday, July 14, 2008

People I respect I want to follow

Meet Mark Beeson

From Mark BeesonMark is the senior and founding pastor of Granger Community Church. Over 20 years ago Mark and his wife Sheila moved to Granger, IN and started GCC with a big vision and their three kids. Today, over 5500 attend one of the weekend services and over 1,000 participate in the midweek service.

Almost 18 years ago my wife and I started to attend GCC - back in the day when the church met in the cinema - back in the day when a crowd was 200 people - back in the day when Mark and Sheila lead a bunch of misfits.

I've watched Mark inspire and cast vision to thousands of people. I've seen Mark lead during troubled times when he shouldered acquisitions that were not only unjust but extremely unfair.

A few years ago, Mark encouraged the mission of GCC to include the vision for MC3. Mark empowered leaders to lead, gave them guidelines and then let them lead. Sounds a lot like what a man named Jesus did.

Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege of listening Mark unfold the future of the church. He is as excited today about our next run as any other time I have known Mark. He is more excited about today than when the church hit 200 people - he is more excited today than when we moved onto campus or when we had our first service in the auditorium.

Part of the reason is that Mark has built an amazing team of people around him - both staff and volunteer leaders. But I think Mark is more excited about the future of GCC today than any time in the last 20+ years because this run is completely dependent upon Jesus. Knowing who he is and following him. Man could explain away the first 20 years of growth at GCC but no one will be able to deny the overwhelming reason behind GCC's impact during this next run.

Mark follows Jesus wholeheartedly and I just figure if I follow Mark there is a very good chance I will also be following Jesus. The question is - who are you following and where are they leading you?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Meet Mr. Curtis

Tough as nails with a heart of gold!

Mr. Curtis and his wife Denise have been volunteering at SonCity Summer since day one. They serve every Tuesday and Thursday. The boys respect Mr. Curtis and the girls listen to him with admiration. Curtis and Denise have already raised their family but they are infusing their wisdom into the lives of these kids. They give these kids hope - they give me hope.

After the first day, Amy Kring ask Denise if she had a good time. Without hesitation she replied no - but I will be back because these kids need us. That is an uncompromising commitment to take your next step to become more like Jesus. What is remarkable about Curtis and Denise is that they just started coming to GCC - less than two months ago they walked into a weekend service, heard about SonCity Summers, joined the team and are helping bring His kingdom from Up There to Down Here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Celebrate Your Freedom/Be Thankful for Your Opportunities

Fifty-Six Signers

(This comes straight from Mark Batterson's blog. It was just too good not to share. Thank's Mark!)

I love history. And I love America! Thought I'd share a little of both as we celebrate Independence Day.

We live in a a day and age where we almost have to defend our patriotism. I'm certainly not suggesting that America is above reproach. Far from it. But a few years ago I did extensive research for a sermon series on our spiritual heritage. And I walked away with a renewed sense of destiny. There is so much revisionist history out there that we tend to forget that a lot of our Founding Fathers were motivated by their faith in Christ.

Just thought I'd share some backstory about some of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence. Most Americans know next to nothing about these fifty-six heroes who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the cause of freedom.

John Witherspoon was an ordained minister and authored several books of sermons, as well as editing America's first family Bible published in 1791.

Charles Thomson served as Secretary of Congress and was a Biblical scholar. He helped edit the first American translation of the Greek Septuagint into English.

Charles Carroll, the last of the fifty-six signers to pass away at the age of 95 in 1832, wrote out his declaration of faith at the age of eighty-nine.

On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for my salvation, and on His merits; not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts.

Another Founding Father, Benjamin Rush, is considered the "Father of American Medicine." He personally trained three thousand medical students. Dr. Rush also founded "The First Day Society" which was the precursor to the Sunday School movement, as well as founding America's first Bible society. It was Benjamin Rush who said the Constitution was "as much the work of Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were the effects of divine power."

Francis Hopkinson was a church music director and edited one of the first hymnals printed in America in 1767. He also set 150 psalms to music.

Roger Sherman is the only Founding Father to sign all four of America's Founding documents: the Articles of Association in 1774, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Articles of Confederation in 1778, and the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Roger Sherman was also a theologian. He wrote a personal creed that was adopted by his church:

I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.

I could share story after story, but the bottom line is this: many, if not most, of our Founding Fathers were motivated by their Faith in Christ. They wrote sermons and creeds and hymns. They founded Bible Societies and Sunday Schools. They served God's purposes in their own generation.

By the way, five signers were captured and tortured during the Revolutionary War. Twelve signers had their homes ransacked and burned. Two signers lost sons to the war they declared. Two signers had sons become prisoners of war. And nine signers fought in the war and died from wounds or hardships of war.

Hope that adds a dimension of gratitude to your 4th of July celebration!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SonCity Summers in Full Swing

Meet Bethany
(center left)
Bethany is interning with the GCC Life Mission Department this summer. She and Amy Kring are leading the entire SonCity Summers program. She is going to school at Moody Bible. I the kids at Monroe Circle are stretching her in many ways but I think she will return to Moody this fall with a new zeal and a better understanding on bringing Jesus' kingdom from Up There to Down Here.

Here is a recent post from her blog soncitysummer

"Working with these kids can be a little overwhelming the first day, especially with the acoustics at the Community Canter, but it has been neat to see the volunteers growing in their comfort and ability when dealing with these issues. The first week, one of the volunteer asked another if she had fun with the kids that day. Her immediate response was “No, but I’ll be back,” and she has been, twice a week, every week. This ministry isn’t for the faint hearted - those who are seeking to stay comfortable. It’s stretching and even uncomfortable at times, but it’s also one that works its way into your heart. I can personally attest, it may take some time, but it grows on you."

You may want to follow along over the next several weeks or better yet if you want to get into get Jesus out of the pages of your Bible and into your life you may want to consider joining Bethany and Amy down at MC3!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Prayer/One Church

1500 Churches come together to help plant 500 new churches in India, Cambodia, China and Sudan.

Over the last four weeks nearly 1500 churches decided to focus on being one church. Many churches watched messages from different pastors with the common theme of "if I had one prayer for the church it would be...."

Each church was asked to take a special offering to help plant 500 brand new churches in the next 12 to 18 months. We were asked to help organize and lead this effort and our very own Jack Magruder lead point. EnterMission, Inc. (our not-for-profit that also oversees Monroe Circle Community Center) is the clearing house for funding with 100% of the proceeds reaching the mission field.

The last few days the checks have started to arrive and it has been humbling to see the dedication of so many churches wanting to do their part in helping fulfill the great commission. One church sent a check for $100,000 another small church in Indiana sent $500! I think Jesus is smiling on both and I can just see the Trinity nudging each other, smiling and knowing on this one we got it right - One Prayer/One Church/One Mission... Kingdom Come Your Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven!!!