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One Way V

December 14, 2006


Friday morning as I was about to leave the house, there was a knock on the door. I opened it thinking it might be company that was expected coming early. It was a woman who we didn’t know. She said that she and her baby’s daddy were out trying to make some money for Christmas. That they were trying to find yards to rake for some money and could they rake our yard. Now as I write this I am wondering if my yard looked that bad. And how do those e-mails know that I need breast enlargement? I digress.

The point of telling this is that for the first time in my life (I think) when a situation like this presented itself, I didn’t immediately think of reasons to get rid of her, to say no, to find excuses to dismiss her.

My first reaction was to say OK.

I didn’t care if they did a bad job or no job really. I also didn’t know what to pay, and told her so. “Name your price” I told her. She said that she was desperate and wouldn’t turn any amount down. I really assumed they would rake the front yard which is not very big. I said, “$20? I don’t know how long it will take you?” She asked if it could be $30. I agreed and then went to find our rakes for them to use.

Now this is not to say, look at me!

The point to me is that God changes people and uses people when they are willing. I used to hear people say, “people don’t change”. Sometimes that is true. But as I look back over my life. God has been working on me. I do care more for those in need. I admit I have a long way to go, but I’m learning.

I used to stuggle with those who held beliefs different to mine about certain matters of religion. They displayed so many fruit of the Spirit and yet…

I used to think I had it all figured out and really anyone with half a brain could do the same. Now I see some of my past error and among those was the arrogance to think I could get everything correct. I could be perfect. We could be perfect.

There is no person (other than Jesus) and no church that is perfect. But we all know that some churches like some people have different personalities. Different cultures. These groups just like me can change but sometimes that is a slow, slow process.

I recently heard a phrase, “are we going to be driven by truth or by fear that we have been wrong so long?” If you have read much here you know that I care for the direction of what churches should be. I care about truth and don’t want to be the guy who out of fear buried his talent or mina, fearing the master was unjust, that he couldn’t be trusted so we better play it safe. I trust him to be faithful and true to do what he has promised and believe “that trust” is at the core of the gospel.

I have made a choice to allow God to use me. To change me. To in the end have burned me up, consumed my life. (Kim has a beautiful story about this). When allowed, he will do just those things. It IS an abundant life.

After much prayer and listening and tears and even torment. We are no longer attending the congregation we have been a part of. We are going to another church and will at the end of a set period of time evaluate where we are spiritually, where we need to be. This is not shopping out of a consumeristic mindset. We see these people willing to (borrowing a line) trust the living water to leaky vessels that we wouldn’t even drink out of. They are ministering to those in need, because they love them. Some are coming to learn of Jesus. But its messy. But its beautiful. It is not a one way kind of place. But it is a place of unity, united in a mission to “Help the unchurched find and dechurched rediscover abundant life in Christ”.

Back to Iris. (the lawn raker) I left for work and they raked our entire yard. Kim had an extra $50 and had already mentioned giving that to her. She did, and also gave her some toys (new) that Kim had been saving up for giving out to needy families at Christmas. We had decided not to go door to door as we did last year and were wondering what to do with them. Iris mentioned that she cleaned houses. So today she came for 2 hours to clean our house.

She saw Kim reading with Eli (we home-school – for some of you, I realize that puts us in wacko land). Iris asked Kim if she had ever taught GED courses. Kim told her no. She said she would really like to get her GED, would Kim possibly be willing to teach her?

I believe that God has been at work in Iris’ life for a long time. Since before she was born. Just like my life and yours. But not until I was willing to have the heart to want to help her more than help myself were we able to enter into what God is planning for her. That is the Kingdom that is available to all. God’s will on earth that we can join.

How will it all work out? I don’t know. But I trust God in it. In church, in Iris’ life. In my life.

The end of one way… the beginning of another.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2006 12:20 pm

    Beautiful! I love, love, love it when God is doing something God-sized in our lives — like what is happening with Iris — and we just sort of go along for the ride. 🙂 Isn’t it exciting?!

  2. December 14, 2006 12:53 pm

    I love the Iris story–reaching out can be messy–but I think that’s what God wants from us–I figure Jesus had to deal with some pretty messy stuff while he was here too.

  3. December 14, 2006 1:15 pm

    Iris…your angel, You and Kim ready, willing, and able to accept and love her as an angel.

    Love you guys!!

  4. December 14, 2006 2:01 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this…
    ministry in action. What better way to reveal God at work in us…it’s good to know that there are still people out there that will move beyond the doubt and fear and reach out to help someone.

    btw…kudos on homeschooling…

    God Bless & Happy Holidays

  5. December 14, 2006 3:49 pm

    This is life on mission. I used to think I had it figured out too but life is full of surprises. You handled that one quite nicely. Praise the Lord!

  6. December 14, 2006 4:15 pm

    Great job, Tommy & Kim! How wonderful that you helped Iris who was willing to work and obviously needs the work and the schooling and all. Golden opportunity handed to you here without you even stepping outside your front door (except maybe to go get a rake).

    Wonderful story! That is a Grace Notes story if I’ve ever heard one about Iris and what you and Kim have done! Please share it with us over at Grace Notes even if you’re disinclined. We’d all LOVE to hear it over there, Tommy. Please!

  7. December 14, 2006 4:53 pm

    this is beautiful. thank you for being jesus to her instead of slamming the door.

    i truly believe those are the ways differences are made, even if you don’t get to see the changes, they will happen in her life.

    good on ya! thanks for sharing!

  8. December 14, 2006 4:55 pm

    How exciting. I wish I were looking for ways to help more often. But, you weren’t looking – I guess I just have to be willing.

  9. December 14, 2006 8:46 pm

    Awesome! There’s some cool symbolism in her name, too (if you’re into that kind of stuff!) Glad you were able to open your eyes (Iris) and see that beautiful flower (Iris) of God!

  10. December 15, 2006 10:52 am

    Thanks for all of your comments. I learned I spelled Irise’s name wrong but you know how to say it. Look back, I wanted to say I have done things like this before. But it was without any hesitation this time. Fully trusting is my point.

    Interesting no one mentioned the church change?

  11. December 15, 2006 1:45 pm

    What an encouraging post! I know it was a tough decision to leave where you were, but sometimes we just have to move on in our journey with Him.

  12. December 15, 2006 3:59 pm

    She said she’d do it for any amount, then upped you fifty percent?


  13. December 15, 2006 7:56 pm

    So, it is good that you and Kim are entering the next phase of your journey. God will surely bless you as you continue to seek and to serve him.

  14. December 16, 2006 9:57 am

    A church change won’t change the person you are. Maybe that’s why no one mentioned it.

  15. Amy permalink
    December 18, 2006 7:16 pm

    I totally missed the church change part I was so engrossed in the Iris story. Your family is such a blessing. Thanks for making us all more aware of the everyday ways God can use us if we’re willing. That’s the challenge!

  16. Amy permalink
    December 18, 2006 7:19 pm

    Now I’m curious where you are attending church. I’ve been out of the Starkville scene so long that I don’t even know much about the churches there. I loved visiting youth events at Faith Baptist when I was a youth.

  17. December 20, 2006 5:28 pm

    Okay… so hopefully this comment won’t be rejected b/c your blog fails to recognize me since I haven’t commented in so long….. Sorry about that. It’s been non-discretionary though… I’ve bailed on *everyone*.

    Anyway… I was just catching up. I already knew this story and the church change, etc. But I got a deeper feel of it by reading your words, Tommy. By reading your heart.

    You and Kim are living Kingdom lives and I’m so happy to share in that with you. Y’all make me wanna dream big again. Haven’t felt that in awhile since I’m always distracted by ME. When the focus truly is on our Father…

    Anything’s possible.

    Thank you!

  18. December 22, 2006 9:45 am

    Wow. I know you didn’t tell that story so we’d all go “nutso” over how awesome you are….
    I’ll give the glory to God, which is what you are doing. I thank GOD for the work he’s doing through your family. It gives me hope to know that there are men of God leading their families with compassion and forebearance and tuned in to the Spirit’s leading.

  19. john dobbs permalink
    January 11, 2007 2:42 pm

    Awesome way to be used by God … both in the pursuit of the Kingdom … and in living the Kingdom.

    God bless your family.

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