Quick update: I injured my back a little over a month ago and I have been really slowed (almost to a grinding halt) with constant pain.Â In the midst of this mess, I find myself oscillating between two positions: 1) the downtrodden, depressed “poor, pitiful me” syndrome, and 2) the “what in the world is God trying to show me through this” mindset.Â Thanks be to God that I have spent a lot more time on #2.
And one of the myriad revelations that I have been shown during this time is just how blessed I am.Â God has allowed me to spend the rest of my life with the woman of my dreams, He’s shaping perhaps the coolest little boy in world in my son T.J., He is currently forming another blessed son of mine in the wombÂ (we’re looking for a launch in late January ’09), and He has called me to lead an awesome assemblage of people known locally as Iron City Church.
He has also been showing me all over again the value of my TIME.Â My time with Amber and TJ during this painful period has grown both of those relationships like crazy – especially between TJ and me.Â I am reminded once again of the resounding, truthful words of Paul in his letter to the Romans: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Â Â – Romans 8:28
I have never been prouder of the Iron City family than I was yesterday afternoon.Â I had the joy of helping Ami M. andÂ six or sevenÂ other servant-leaders from ICC distribute and wrap all the toys that we collected over the last few weeks.Â
As a part of our Christmas Conspiracy, we partnered withÂ our friends at Faithbridge Community Church to help out their community during the holiday season.Â One of the greatest needs that was shared was the very real concerns of parents – many of whom have lost jobs this yearÂ – who were afraid that they may not have anything to give to their children this Christmas.Â We shared this need with Iron City and they responded in unbelievable fashion, overflowing the collection boxes every week.
In three short weeks, we collected enough toys to fill a Honda Element and to make Christmas morning special for a couple dozen families in McKees Rocks.Â In addition, we were able to tangibly demonstrate the love of Jesus to an anxious bunch of parents.Â And as I watched grateful parentsÂ file in and out of the gift room yesterday I was reminded of this passage:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.Â Â James 1:27 (NIV)
I have had the privilege over the last few weeks of inciting a group of people to do some crazy, subversiveÂ things.Â In fact, we’re all conspiring together to celebrate Christmas differently this year.Â Our plan is aggressive, but viable, and the wheels have already been turning to return the JOY of Christmas, the celebration of the Presence of God, to the hearts of people in the Pittsburgh metro area.Â What are you doing differently this Christmas?
You can listen to the messages from this series by clicking here.