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The Real Thing

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His name was Leroy. 

He was an older gentleman maneuvering on a scooter, and I could tell he had “been there and done that.”

I anticipated that Leroy was ready to share a story and eager to exchange a few laughs.  By my estimation, the experience would be highlighted by a great nugget of wisdom.  I couldn't wait to sit down next to him, and our chat did not disappoint! 

Leroy is a former drug dealer, was wounded as a result of that lifestyle, and found God in prison.

Leroy is a former drug dealer, was wounded as a result of that lifestyle, and found God in prison.  He spends Chicago winters “stuck” inside his government housing and loves spending the warmer months playing dominoes and cards across the street in Wicker Park.  He understands the consequences of his life choices and would love to help straighten out the younger generation.

Leroy pictured above in the white suit

He pointed over to Scott Venable, the pastor of Mosaic Church, and said: “Yeah, he started coming around one day, and I decided I was going to check him out and find out if he was for real… or a phony.”  Then Leroy tilted his head down and looked me in the eye and stated, “he’s the real thing.”

I decided I was going to check him out and find out if he was for real… or a phony.
...He's the real thing.

The next day, our group spent time with Scott Venable around his neighborhood.  He explained how research and prayer had led him to Wicker Park and outlined how God had worked through the past few years.  We took an incredible journey through the streets of his corner of Chicago and listened to Scott share highs and lows of Mosaic’s ministry.  Scott gave glimpses of their future, their hopes, their barriers and people God had placed in their midst. Throughout this process we each had the opportunity to pray along the way, which proved to be a humbling, yet powerful experience. 

Afterwards, I listened to Scott, a.k.a. “the real thing,” proclaim some simple yet trustworthy statements:  “We serve and love in a tangible way… Service leads to conversation… Everything we do is intentional… There’s no break for The Great Commission.” 

We serve and love in a tangible way… Service leads to conversation… Everything we do is intentional… There’s no break for The Great Commission.

In the days following, our team both observed and carried out those very truths.  

Now that I’m home, I’m challenged. I ask myself, if Leroy was sitting in the park in our “famously hot” city and pointed his finger towards me, would I be able to hear him say

“she’s the real thing”? 

Ashley & Scott Venable with daughter Brooklyn

Karen Hewlett was part of a 7-member mission team that went to Chicago in August 2014.  The team assisted Shandon's church plant partner, Mosaic Church, with outreach and evangelistic efforts in the Wicker Park neighborhood.

Posted by Karen Hewlett with

Hanging Up the Gloves

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"What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?" (James 4:1) 

When we consider the conflicts we face in life, the realization that "I am part of the problem" is hard to swallow.  While we may concede that this truth is a possibility, we usually dismiss it as a real solution.  We inevitably conclude, "No one else is going to change, so why should I?"

The realization that I am part of the problem is hard to swallow.

The gospel says that you are the problem in your life, but (and this is truly Good News!) God has solved that problem through Jesus' death and resurrection.  Through the biblical process of placing our faith in Jesus and repenting, God grants us the Holy Spirit--the power for this new life in Jesus that we have been reborn into.  The Holy Spirit controls this new life as we "die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31) to our previous way of life and inclinations and live under new authority by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus.

The implications of a life without the control of the Holy Spirit is a life that is characterized by blaming and fighting and one that inevitably leads to conflict, harm and hurt.  In James 4, we find this same issue a problem for early Christians.  Like many of us, they were dealing with conflict and quarrels that have their root in spiritual adultery and spiritual pride.

A life that is characterized by blaming and fighting that inevitably leads to conflict, harm and hurt.

Spiritual adultery is demonstrated in us when we say we love God yet hate our brother in any given moment.

Spiritual pride manifests itself where conflict arises and we assume that the blame lies anywhere else but with us.

Conflict often reveals that the Spirit is not in control of our lives, and that we are in fact still living our old lives the old way.  Therefore, how we as Christians respond to conflict speaks volumes about the Spirit's control in our lives.  Dr. Lincoln explained, "Right response to conflict can only be handled in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we can change with a few tips here and there."

Right response to conflict can only be handled in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we can change with a few tips here and there.
- Dick Lincoln

By thinking about conflict in this way, we remember that the purpose of the Christian life is to find the grace to live by the Spirit.  We do this through continued humility and submission to God…there is no other way.

PUT TRUTH INTO PRACTICE

  • Think of 1 to 3 sources of conflict in your life.

  • Get up every morning and say, "God I am so mad with…. I don't know what to do, but I want to be humble before you, I want to know what I can do about it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Help me identify spiritual adultery or pride in my life."

  • Then read James 4:1-10 and pray, "God, would you help me understand this in my heart and impress upon me that I am the one who needs to change?"

Watch the sermon from August 31

 

Posted by Robert Nicholes with

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