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Hurricane Harvey: Day One

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After a disaster decimates a community, it is easy to become plagued with thoughts of defeat and doubt. How could a small, eclectic team from Fort Collins, CO make even the smallest dent in repairing the devastation left behind from Hurricane Harvey?

The battle against these thoughts becomes even more prevalent when you enter a community like Copano. After a long, exhausting (but successful) day in the Texas heat operating chainsaws, carrying heavy debris, and providing Hope through the Love and Reach of Jesus, we decided to scope the projects planned for tomorrow. None of us were truly prepared for the devastation. Each community we inhabited in 24 hours had manageable damage where most of the rebuild would be covered by insurance. The debris removal we assisted with included simple tasks that could be completed within a few hours. Each homeowner was very appreciative to not incur the additional charge of removal and cleanup and was excitedly awaiting the opportunity to resume normal life. We were each extremely thrilled and eager to help and it was easy to see the tangible difference we were making.

Then we drove through Copano. The piles of rubble and memories that cluttered the earths floor represented what was once the home of a family. These are homes that due to destruction and lack of available tools have hardly been touched. But, since there are no coincidences with God, our team received the work order for Mary.  Her home now consists of a huge pile of broken items and pieces that once created a structure. After driving passed this and feeling slightly overwhelmed, we looked to the next lot and there was a family enjoying dinner on what used to be their driveway. Even from a distance, it was easy to see the true joy they experienced. This illustrated such an important lesson – when we truly find our identity and worth through Christ, even when we seemingly have lost everything, we can still find Love and Joy in the Hope put forth by the one true God.

Could this community be where God is calling our team to focus for the next week? Possibly. Could this be the community our team is supposed to raise awareness and prayer warriors for? No question. As I sit and pray over today and the decisions coming in the days to follow, I remember one of our foundational verses – Isaiah 6:8. Here I am Lord, send me. We are here, we are ready, we are willing to be sent and used in any ways the Lord chooses. Please continue to pray for each of us on our team: Mike Walker, Ashlee Schmitt, John Lochard, John Ledingham, Michelle Schneider, Lauren Schneider, Julie Trujillo, Jeff Kamps, and Matt Sutherland. Please pray that we will follow where God may be calling us no matter how great or how small it may seem. Pray that we do not become overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the tasks put in front of us. Please continue to pray not only for our team, but for the communities we will be working in – we need your prayers and so greatly appreciate your dedication and continued support!!

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A Healing Place

For the past month, all SERVE 6.8 programs and team members have been together under one roof, for the first time ever in 5 years of operations. Reflecting on our journey to this wonderful God given space and the opportunity to use it to its full potential during our first ever Summer Family Festival last week, we’re amazed at how His hand has brought us to this place.

Five and a half years ago, two of our founders attended a Conference at A Healing Place Church and came back inspired by the concept of Servolution. Shortly thereafter, an outreach team launched out of Timberline Church to serve the vulnerable in our community. Since this launch, we’ve become a standalone non-profit engaged in disaster response during the High Park Fire and September 2013 floods, operating the Murphy Center to care for homeless community members, opening our Resource Center to strengthen the Benevolence programs of the local Church and serve those struggling financially, while still serving through small projects in our Community Impact program.

Through each program and stage of SERVE 6.8, God has grown us and shaped us for where He is bringing us next. Sometimes we’ve tried to control and hold tight to where He’s going to send us, but the best gifts we’ve received are those we didn’t seek for ourselves. One of these was finding ourselves in lockstep with Christ Center Community Church, a cornerstone of our community and one of the oldest outreach ministries in Fort Collins. Knowing it was time to move their ministry beyond a food and clothing closet, the idea began to emerge of outsourcing management of their Outreach Center to SERVE 6.8. Here we are, almost a year later, fully moved in and amazed to see how 19 churches have stepped forward to partner with us, actively caring for the vulnerable and poor in our community in the name of Jesus Christ.

Almost 6 years since the idea of SERVE 6.8 was birthed in a Healing Place Church, we’re back in a church that was originally named none other than A Healing Place. This full circle reminds us of God’s sovereignty and provision, always moving us where we needed to be to build His kingdom, even during times and in ways we didn’t understand. Now we work, watch and wait to see what great things will come next, as they undoubtedly will as the church of Jesus Christ moves and take its place in caring for the vulnerable.

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Serving – I Will Go: Colossians 3:12-17

I want everyone today to dwell on this section of scripture, Colossians 3:12-17. This passage is instruction on Christian living and can be directly applied to how we interact with others, especially in the context of serving.

If you’ve served in local or international missions for any length of time, undoubtedly you experienced a frustrating moment with those you were serving. Perhaps you’ve allowed anger to consume you and make you bitter or worn-out in serving, but this passage reminds us to forgive as we have been forgiven, to love one another as members of the body of Christ, and virtues to reflect in our serving. There is also instruction for serving and teaching in God’s wisdom and a reminder that we are ambassadors for God in all that we do.

I encourage you to take some time now, to read and reflect on this passage regarding how you serve.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father

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Serving- I Will Go: Personal Growth

Hello everyone! We’re going to be in our series on Serving again today, but we’re going to take a look at serving from a different angle. So far we’ve discussed the call to serve, the importance of avoiding the desire to be the “fixer” of others, and how some people don’t want to be served. Every post so far has touched on this theme of serving not being about us. I’m hesitant to say this next phrase, but sometimes serving is about us.

We shouldn’t serve out of selfish desires or with any unhealthy motives and when we serve out of God’s call in our lives we may not experience any worldly rewards. However, if we’re listening, God is often speaking to us as we serve and in this sense, it is about we who are serving as well as those who are being served. All day long God is guiding and shaping us and He doesn’t stop when we’re serving.  In fact, it’s when serving others that we may see some of our biggest deficiencies. God can open our eyes to areas we need to grow in, but we need to be paying attention.

Sometimes we can over-correct and in efforts to not serve others out of selfishness or a paternalistic mindset, we can make serving too much about those being served and forget that those doing the serving need to grow too.  Often God uses these experiences to shape us to be more like Him; and often, the areas He wants to grow us in reflect virtues such as the fruit of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a

Let’s apply this verse to how we approach serving. How often do we fully live up to each of these characteristics? Now, take some time to reflect on when you’ve volunteered or gone on a mission trip: what did God teach you, did He show you personal weaknesses in any of these virtues? How did He grow you through that experience?

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6.8 Day!

It’s 6.8 Day!!

What is that you ask? It’s a day we celebrate every June 8th to take time talk about what SERVE 6.8 is doing in the community and give supporters a chance to come alongside through financially giving to allow us to continue our work.

Why should you support SERVE 6.8? Great question! We are a Christian-based nonprofit who is solely funded by churches, businesses, and individuals like you.

Our heart and mission is to unify and equip the local church of Jesus Christ in caring for those struggling financially. We do this through our 3 programs: the Resource Center, Community Impact, and Adopt-A-Family. When we started our Resource Center, we had 6 partner churches and now (2 years later) we are at 19! Every day we are encouraged and in awe of the great blessings God has bestowed upon this partnership of churches and how He has been moving across our Northern Colorado community.

These are the goals we seek in our programs:

  • mobilize volunteers to serve Northern Colorado
  • help families and individuals reach financial sustainability
  • our ultimate goal is that those serving and those being served would be reconciled to Christ

Thank you to all who have supported SERVE 6.8 over the past five years! Your generosity with your time, talent and treasure allows us to serve over 2,500 families every year and you’ve served over 90,000 volunteer hours.  Please consider giving today to continue to support our mission, thank you!

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Serving – I Will Go: When Help Isn’t Wanted

One of the hardest things we may experience while serving others is when they don’t want to be served. Last week we addressed the “Savior Complex” when serving, which is when someone takes on an unhealthy level of desire to fix situations or people. When coming from this mindset, bitterness can creep in if someone doesn’t want to be “fixed.”

Sometimes people aren’t in a place where they are ready to make a change, accept ownership of their situation, or even feel they need any assistance. For some, they truly may not need the help, we simply assume they do. Others may really need assistance, but not be ready to accept it. This is okay. We cannot take on other people’s problems to the extent that we become bitter if they choose not to engage in a solution with us.

Moreover, we cannot become discouraged when people reject our help because we are doing it in the name of Jesus.  The teachings of Jesus weren’t easy for people to follow when he was on earth and they aren’t any easier today because they requires submission to God and his instructions. In John 6:60 we see people choosing to not follow Jesus because of this: “Therefore, when many of His disciples heard this, they said, ‘This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?’”

Another great passage about this is 2 Corinthians 4:1-5

4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

When serving we should keep presenting the Gospel message and ministering in truth and love. We do this with the understanding that some will reject us, some will accept Christ as their Savior, and some may not be ready to accept God’s truth right now. That’s okay. We serve out of obedience; the outcome of our service is in God’s hands (1 Corinthians 3:6). We will keep serving others, loving and respecting them as image bearers of God, even when they don’t want to be served.

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Serving- I Will Go: The Savior

Hello everyone! Today we will continue with our series on serving and address a common term in the social service world, “The Savior Complex.We’ll look at how we should approach helping others with the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

“The Savior Complex” is a term often used in helping professions and describes someone whose service is born out of a mindset of needing to help everyone, always having the solution, or expending an unhealthy amount of time and energy on other’s problems and taking pride in doing so.

While these desires may seem to come from good intentions, they often result in harm to ourselves and others. Servers/Saviors may experience burnout, resentment, and frustration because of unmet expectations. Those being served, may feel disempowered and deprived of their God-given dignity and worth as they’re prevented from being active in their own solution.

What is left out in the secular explanation of this term, however, is that we do have a real Savior and it is through Him that we find true salvation!

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Indeed, if we succumb to the false belief that we can do what only God can do, we will not last long in any compassion ministry.  This is not to excuse us from serving others, for we have been commanded to make disciples, care for the poor, and love our neighbor. We must, instead go about these acts of service remembering in whose name and power we are serving. Acts 4 is a great example of a healing performed by Peter and John, done in the power of the name of Jesus and resulting in glory given to God. 

10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed…… 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:10, Acts 4:13

4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

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Serving – I Will Go: Isaiah 6:8

Hey everyone! Our next series is going to expand on the foundation of SERVE 6.8 and start with a post about our second founding scripture, Isaiah 6:8.  The name SERVE 6.8 makes our mission clear: we are here to mobilize the Church of Jesus Christ to serve the poorWe take our dual mandate to care for those serving and those being served seriously. This series is intended to grow those of us who are actively engaged in serving and volunteering.

Our two founding scriptures are Micah 6:8 and Isaiah 6:8. We kicked off our series about poverty with Micah 6:8 and will start with Isaiah 6:8 for our series on serving. Let’s first review Isaiah 6 and then explore how we can apply this to obeying God’s call to serve.

The title for Isaiah 6 is “Isaiah’s Call and Mission,” and we need to understand this whole passage so we can apply meaning to Isaiah 6:8.  Verses 1-7 are some of the most powerful verses in the bible about what a holy God we serve. When Isaiah saw the Lord he was filled with awe of God’s majesty and holiness and faced with how unholy he was. Then God gives his call to action to Isaiah:

“Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah has opened himself up to God and His mission, but verses 9-13 then lay out the plan, which fully displays the wrath of God upon those who have turned from Him, the wrath we each deserve, but are spared from because of our Savior Jesus Christ.

As Isaiah learned,  when we‘re called to serve, it isn’t always in a way that’s easy or expected.  Serving is fun when it just makes you feel good or fits your vision, but what about when God calls you to something bigger, harder, and that you don’t understand? Why would you say, “Here I am. Send me?

We follow those calls because of what we see displayed at the beginning of Chapter 6, a God that is so big and powerful that we fear being in His presence. We serve to not be fulfilled, not to take glory for ourselves, but to love and lead people back to the Creator and His Son, who can now bridge the gap from our unworthiness to God’s holiness. When we shift our serving mindset away from being about us, toward it being about God, it drastically changes to what mission we will say “Here I am. Send me.”

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Lessons from Union Rescue Mission

Last Thursday we were blessed to be visited by Rev. Andy Bales and Steve Borja of the Union Rescue Mission. It was an honor to meet them, learn from their experiences, and have them share with us at our Annual Fundraising Dinner. Today, we’ll take a moment to reflect on what was shared at the event.

Rev. Andy Bales is the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, a private Christian homeless shelter located on Skid Row in Los Angeles that shelters 1,300 guests every night. His love and care for those experiencing homelessness is inspiring, but he readily admitted that he isn’t perfect!

Andy shared a story of when he was a teacher and gave a sermon to his classes on Matthew 25, hoping to deter them from bullying a classmate. The main take away from this lesson was Matthew 25:40, And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Unfortunately, when a short time later he was presented an opportunity to live this out, Andy missed the chance.

He’s not alone, we’ve all missed moments when we were given the opportunity to live out our mandate “to care for the least of these.” Fortunately, those moments don’t define us or our ministry. We can learn from our mistakes and move forward, just as Andy has, continually renewing our heart and mind (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Steve Borja, the Vice President of Programs for the Union Rescue Mission also shared valuable stories and lessons for our community. Using valuable insights from the book of Nehemiah, he encouraged us in our efforts to work with government, city officials, businesses, churches, and others to accomplish our work in caring for those experiencing poverty. The wall of Jerusalem wouldn’t have been rebuilt in 52 days without partnership. It took the King of Persia to make sure Nehemiah had safe passage and was provided materials. Working on the wall there were priests, nobles, officials, goldsmiths, perfumers, guards, temple servants, and merchants each with different portions to work on.

It doesn’t matter our title or income when partnering to do the work of God. We are stronger together, but only when we remember whose power and authority we are under. When we collaborate, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of honoring ourselves, but the honor is due to our God. “The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty fifth day of the month of Elul. When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16.

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Seek the Peace & Prosperity of our City: Jeremiah 29:4-7

Today is our Annual Fundraising Dinner and our theme for this year is, “seeking the peace and prosperity of our city.” To honor our theme, today’s post will be over this passage: Jeremiah 29:4-7.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

This passage was written to encourage the exiles to make the most of their situation instead of believing the false prophets telling them their exile would be a short time period. In verse 10, the Lord says that they will be in Babylon for 70 years, so they might as well make themselves at home there!

We’re not exiles, but we’re still in a temporary earthly home, waiting for the Kingdom to come. This can sometimes make us feel discontent, longing for a better life, not wanting to endure any current suffering. Since we weren’t made to stay in our earthly home forever, it can seem like we’re out of place and that we don’t belong. This may makes us want to shrink into our own bubble of fellow believers, trying to stay in our comfort zones until we make it through this life.

God calls us to a higher way of living though, to fully integrate into where we live now. We are to become a part of the fabric of where we live, praying and seeking what’s best for it, making the most of our time there. May our deepest hope be that those we live among will see how we live and ultimately accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, reconciling them to God.

How we are expected to live in this world is also reflected by Peter when he was writing to encourage persecuted believers in Asia Minor:

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority, whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:11-17

May we live this way today.

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