If you were a contestant on Family Feud and Steve Harvey said, "100 people were surveyed and we've got the top answer on the board….fill in the blank,… ____Grace" What do you think the top answer would be? If you want to hear, "Good Answer, Good Answer" from your family members, you had better say "Amazing", right? Yes, grace is amazing and we are grateful for John Newton's anthem which helps us to express how truly amazing it is.
But, let's be word nerds today and amplify our understanding of grace by attaching a new adjective. How about optimisticgrace? I had never considered whether the grace I express is optimistic until I heard Matt Leroy, a chapel speaker at Indiana Wesleyan, challenge the students there. He explained that though our acts of grace may look the same from person to person, some of our offerings are hollow at best. We "love on" others hoping it will draw them to Christ, but in our heart of hearts, we don't necessarily believe we will witness a changed life.
I think very often my grace is extended with a side of pessimism. Life feels a bit safer that way, doesn't it? If I don’t get my hopes up, they won't be dashed. But, optimistic grace sets judgments aside, renounces the prediction of outcomes, and proceeds with the highest of expectations on behalf of every soul. Let me give you an example.
Through my position as a youth worker, I once met a teen named Randy. The first thing I noticed about him….let's be honest…the first thing everyone noticed about him was his habit of chewing on a rubber cockroach at lunch in the cafeteria. Along with this, Randy's fingernails were purposefully filed into claws. Pointed, dagger-like fingernails holding his rubber cockroach, working in tandem to both disturb, and distance, his peers.
"I want you to take Randy out to be fitted with a tux for prom. I'll pay for it. Just don't let him get anything weird."
This is the request I received one day from the track coach at a local high school. As a winning coach, he certainly had to be adept at "potential spotting", but I was still shocked by his idea. Optimistic grace was at work though. Where others just saw an odd young man, this coach saw a tuxedoed prom-goer. We both knew that pain, tragedy, and confusion had shaped this complex young man. We both knew prom would not undo any of the damage already done in Randy's life. But, Mr. W wanted Randy to know his potential had been seen, despite all self-efforts to mask it. He wanted Randy to be coaxed out of isolation to experience the fun and fellowship of a prom night before crossing the finish-line of high school. Randy ended up going to prom, with a date, in a nice suit his grandparents decided to buy him. Optimistic grace is contagious it seems.
A coach approached Randy with a bent toward optimistic grace. He believed God's love in action is truly transformative. I believe the same, yet back behind that belief…in the thought-space I don't like to admit to…I let doubts toward certain people accumulate and I fatalistically assume, "they'll never change." Ask God to reveal to you the souls in your life you tend to approach pessimistically. Then try to memorize this great concluding line of Matt Leroy's presentation. "Reckless love. Optimistic grace. Radical hospitality... Wherever you go, live this."
Author: Lisa Crawford
The City Mission of Findlay offers the homeless and the community some things you may take for granted in your day-to-day life. If it was not for the City Mission, there would be nowhere to go to get help, like a place to stay until you find a more permanent place, meals to eat, or help with different resources. The City Mission also helps to provide body wash, shampoo, washers and dryers, laundry soap, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and paper towels. The City Mission will help you in any way that they can providing that you will help yourself. If they cannot directly help you, they will know people and places locally that can.
When was the last time you had to worry about where your next meal came from? Many who are homeless do not know how or where they will get their next meal. That is where the City Mission comes into play. They provide lunch and dinner for the residents and for community guests in need. We, who are residents, are very lucky because we are provided a place to sleep that is out of the weather and safe, a place to take a shower, and case workers that help us stay on track with what we need to do to get back on our feet. Some of the most common goals that we set to achieve during our stay at the City Mission include getting a job or steady income, saving our money, and eventually finding a place to live when we are ready to move on from the shelter. The City Mission of Findlay is a Christian organization, one that prides itself on the Lord’s instruction of helping those that are in need but that are falling short on the resources to do so.
The next time you are fortunate enough to do the things you do every day, stop and think that there are people that do not have the ability to do them. I hope that you all have a God blessed life and I wish you all well.
Author: Crystal Swanigan
I recently finished a book titled Spiritual Slavery Into Spiritual Sonship. It was a fantastic read about the journey author/speaker Jack Frost experienced growing in faith and in the embrace of Father God, as he put it. In the final four chapters, he presents eight defining truths from his own journey that helped him begin displacing an orphan heart and start feeling secure and at rest as a favored son.
He says, "The depth of humility we embrace determines the depth of kingdom life we will experience." I cannot think of another book that goes into the depths of spiritual truth with the kinds stories that this author shares. I really enjoyed reading about his career as a deep sea fisherman with a rough parental relationships then turned world-wide evangelist/speaker with the remarkable healing of parental and pastoral authority wounds. I can see how my story intersects with his story in several ways. I am thankful to the person who recommended this book to me.
If you are a believer, a child of God, renewed in the image of God, then remember your eternal worth to your heavenly Father. Don't try to earn his favor, by striving for perfection on your own. He will give you a pure heart, by faith. Like Jesus, you are God's beloved child (son/daughter) with whom he is well-pleased (Matthew 3:17). Move forward in the riches that he has bestowed upon you. If you feel alone or lost, then find the path home that is paved with the restitution you need with your parents and spiritual leaders, and you will be at peace and rest!
Author: Nate Stults
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV)
I find this scripture to be one of the most valuable when dealing with the homeless population. It's better than the old cliché, "Never judge a book by its cover." When comparing the word of God to a cliché, you find the deeper meaning in what it is to judge. When you judge a person after a two second glance as you drive by, you have already assumed the worst of that person. Think about that for a second. You see the dirty clothes, and the long scraggly hair. Maybe if they smiled at you, you noticed teeth missing. You think to yourself, "Wow, I'm glad I'm not that guy." In that brief moment, did you ever express your gratitude to God that you weren't "that guy"? Have you been thankful for the home or car that you have?
Of course, I'm talking about the stereotypical homeless person you see on the corner. But there are also homeless people that look like you and me. They wear clean clothes, brush their teeth, get haircuts, and shave every day. You would never know it to look at them. And yet, this breed of homeless, you might greet in passing, you might hold the door for them, you might have a conversation with them. What is the difference between the two? Judgement.
There are so many reasons people find themselves homeless. With the opiate epidemic running wild in our own hometown, most would assume that the general population at the City Mission are junkies or alcoholics. On the contrary, many have simply fallen on hard times; lost their jobs, lost their homes because of medical bills, left abusive relationships. Families have casted them away.
What I have learned while working at the Mission is to love all. Everyone deserves a chance to live a happy, bountiful life. Everyone deserves a second, or third, or fourth chance. In the classes I have taught to our residents at the Mission, I emphasize on positive thinking, and changing the way you see things so that, in the future, the same mistakes aren't made. The past is the past, there is no need to repeat it. People think that the homeless are just looking for a handout. When in truth, they are looking for a hand up. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
When you judge a book by its cover, you seed the broken binding, dog-eared or torn pages, an author you have never heard of. You miss the story inside; the happy ending that turned to tragedy in the middle of the book, the conflict of bad decisions versus good decisions, the battle of a broken family, of broken hearts. "That guy" on the corner may have once had a "normal" life. You will never know if you never talk to him. Open that book. Read the first chapter at least. Everyone has a story.
The homeless weren't always homeless. It can happen to anyone. If you found yourself homeless tomorrow, how would you like to be judged? Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (1Peter 3:8)
Author: Michelle Cortez, Findlay City Mission
When a person hears "homeless," what immediately comes to mind? Drug abuser? Poverty-stricken? Mentally ill? Dirty bridge dweller? The definition of homeless is simply "a person without a home." By this definition Jesus was homeless.
You see, it all started when Jesus left his HOME in Heaven to fulfill God’s plan of redemption. Jesus had glory and riches, but He chose to be poor for us. II Corinthians 8:9 His obedience in leaving His Heavenly home and Father was for one reason only, to seek and to save the lost. Galatians 4:4-5, I Timothy 1:15, Romans 5:6, John 3:16.
Jesus was born in a stable because his earthly Mother and Father were traveling away from their home. Luke 2:4-7. When Jesus was younger because of Joseph's obedience to God they moved to flee Herod’s efforts to have Jesus murdered. Matthew 2:13-15.
Even when Jesus was an adult he spent his time traveling around preaching, teaching & healing people. Jesus had only the clothes on his back. “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nest: but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20.
Jesus was obedient unto death by taking our sins on the cross. He was buried, but even that wasn't His "Home" He would only stay 3 days in the tomb, be resurrected, and be seen for 40 days. Jesus then returned Home to Heaven.
I Corinthians 15:3-4. Acts 1:1-9
John 14:2-3 says “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Heaven is our home for those who place their faith and trust in His finished work on the cross. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
We are all HOMELESS just waiting for the Lord to call us Home!
Author: Ruthie Tong, Findlay City Mission
I am always in amazement at the diversity of the men, women, and families who come to the Mission for help. The tremendous need present within our walls is almost tangible as you walk through the hallways.
Equally amazing, is the hope that is seen in our resident’s eyes and heard in their voices as they celebrate milestones they didn’t think were possible.
What I have found, is that hopelessness is a thief: it steals joy and peace. But we know where true peace and joy come from and we share it abundantly with those who seek refuge within our walls. We pride ourselves in tending to the needs of our resident’s hearts and souls while we also meet their physical needs of safe shelter and nutritious meals.
If you have volunteered, donated, or prayed—you have been a part of this ministry of hope! Thank you for your support and please continue to be an Ambassador of Hope to those who need it the most.
Author: Joy Barger, Findlay City Mission
Today, I was in the kitchen checking on our volunteers while they prepared lunch. We serve two separate lunch meals every day, one for our homeless residents staying at the Mission and one for any community member in need of a hot meal. We had two volunteers that come regularly on a weekly basis that were getting ready to serve the first group which is our residents. I was in the kitchen longer than normal when I witnessed something that I hadn't seen in a long time. While our volunteers were serving our residents, it came over me how kind and considerate they were towards our residents and community guests. I felt this overwhelming amount of gratitude come over me. It hit me like a ton of bricks how very thankful that I am for all of the volunteers that go way out of their way to come to the Mission and serve. They work so incredibly hard when they volunteer. I have a great passion for the City Mission. What we do here is very unique. We provide emergency shelter and we are the only facility that provides these services for miles around - the only one in Hancock County! We truly care for the people in need who walk through our doors.
Volunteering at the City Mission is a big responsibly and a commitment. We are a non-profit organization that couldn't operate and help as many people as we do everyday without the volunteers that we have in place. I want our volunteers to know how much we respect and truly appreciate what they do for us here at the Mission! To me, it's important how one spends his or her time, and volunteering is one way in which a person can serve another person or group of people. Matthew 25:40 (KJV) states "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." This scripture reminds us to humbly serve one another as if we were serving Christ directly. You just never know when you might be the one who needs assistance. God calls us to lift one another up and what better way to do this than as a volunteer here at City Mission?
Proverbs 19:17 (KJV) "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again."
Author: Wendy Tong
Holiness simply stated is defined as having the inner strength to be set apart for service unto God. Many profess to being set apart for service unto God, but rarely do they demonstrate the will to abide by the true tenets of its calling. For those separated to God that much has been recorded about their non-yielding stance that has often led to death for many. Therefore, the stakes may be very high, and one must seriously consider if he is willing in advance, to follow the Savior. It could mean certain physical death or giving in to compromise of some sort when faced this ultimate decision.
The legacy left behind by many who have bravely faced such crossroads does not of its self, make our resolve to remain holy any easier, however the commonality of desire is what the Holy Spirit uses to enable that soul in time of need. David tells us in that powerful passage of (Psalm 37:31 NKJV) "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide." What a tremendous statement attributed to one grounded in faith and guided by the Word of God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is another example of one committed to holiness in separation for service unto Christ. Born in Breslau, Germany, (now Wroclaw, Poland) into a middle class professional family, he decided at an early age to become a minister of the gospel. He was successful in his quest to earn a doctorate in theology from the University of Berlin, was ordain and eventually ended up back in Germany in 1931 after spending one year studying in New York, City. His strong beliefs ultimately drove him to band together with Martin Niemoller, Karl Barth and others, in setting up the Confessing Church. Bonhoeffer also served as pastor of five German-speaking protestant churches in London between late 1933 and 1935. After returning to Germany once more, he headed an illegal seminary for Confessing Church pastors until the Gestapo closed it down in 1937. They also banned Bonhoeffer from preaching, teaching, and all public speaking. He was arrested in April 1943 and charged with conspiracy after years of active opposition to the Nazi government in Germany. Bonhoeffer, along with several others, was executed by hanging just three weeks before the liberation of Berlin. The quote from one of his more widely read books, The Cost of Discipleship (1937), tells much about his inner strength. "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."
It is not a light thing to strive for holiness moreover; it is one calling children of light to keep our heart and mind on the objective.
Peter tells us "As obedient children not fashioning yourselves according to the former lust in your ignorance. But to he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your father; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamp without spot." (I Pet. 1: 14-19 NKJV)
This call for holiness is not optional though our lives often reflect that attitude.
When confronted by the scribes and Pharisees about eating with publicans and sinners "And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast, But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days." (Mark 2: 19-20 NKJV)
A clear indication of what is expected from one who would remain in a state of holiness, fasting and prayer.
Author: Findlay City Mission
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word "outcast" as "one that is cast out or refused acceptance (as by society)." When I was young, my family uprooted from the Toledo area and settled in Hancock County. I was the new kid on the block at a tiny county school where our graduating class of less than ninety was considered the largest class in school history. In typical fashion, I was looked upon by most of my classmates as an outsider because I was new to the area. I didn't grow up with the core group of children that were raised together, therefore I didn't have the close relationships that some had already established over the last several years. As a result, I didn't really "fit in" with any social group and only had a few close friends.
As a teenager, I remember having the desire to fit in. I remember wanting to be accepted by my peers. Human beings, as a whole, are naturally drawn to community; to a feeling of belonging to a group. God designed us to be interdependent, not independent. He created fellowship and relationship so that we can all be given joy and a feeling of fulfillment in our lives. Scripture encourages us to "gather together" with one another (Matthew 18:20). His word states that we are stronger together (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). The book of Acts documents the interactions of Christ's followers and describes how they met together with purpose (Acts 2).
This same desire to be a part of something purposeful or meaningful that all of us have in our younger years also carries over into our older years, too. This desire typically isn't a temporary need – it stays with us as we age. World-renowned Psychologist Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation," stated that human beings thirst for love and belonginess. These needs, according to Maslow, are most central to human growth and development, just after our physiological needs (such as food, shelter, and sleep) and need for safety and wellbeing. We all want to be loved. We all want to have a place in which we feel accepted. This is especially true of the men, women, and children staying here at City Mission.
The staff and residents at City Mission are extremely appreciative for the season of giving that capped off 2017. Thanksgiving and Christmas were awesome times in which we witnessed lives being touched in a positive, loving manner. We thank our donors and volunteers for all that they give today, for what they gave last year, and for what they have given in years past! Please continue to give your time, talent, and treasure in 2018 and beyond because we all – every one of us – have a desire and a need to "fit in" and belong, and that's what your gifts provide.
Author: Brandon Montague, Findlay City Mission
I want to write today about how grateful I am that God gave me an opportunity to have a job with purpose, a job that means something. If someone would have asked me 5 years ago what I wanted to do with my life, working at a homeless shelter would not have even crossed my mind. I had my whole life set: elementary school teacher, married with kids by age 25 (Spoiler alert - none of those things happened). It turns out that no matter how much we try to be in control, we are not! God's plans will always surpass our own plans! I can't imagine where or who I would be if I had not ended up here.
I have learned more about what actually matters in this life than I ever have before. I see broken people every single day walk in and out of our doors, desperately seeking out something fulfilling. This year has been a year of breakthrough in my walk with Jesus Christ. I, too, had been desperately seeking out something fulfilling. Prior to this year, I put almost no effort in my relationship with Jesus. I was content with where I was in life. I only sought Him out when I thought I needed something. I prayed here and there and read my Bible when it was convenient for me. But interacting with people here at the Mission has taught me something life-changing – there is no cure, no solution, no fix, to any worldly problem without Jesus. Without Jesus there is no meaning. That truth lit a fire in me. Don't get me wrong, I'm still learning how to trust Him. It's scary. But I know God will provide me with the guidance I need. He WILL provide. He always does. And maybe this isn't where I'm meant to be forever - I truly don't know where God will lead me next - but I know with my whole heart it's going to be exactly where I'm supposed to be. I can honestly say that if it weren't for this experience and the people I have met, I wouldn't have the solid faith that I do today. So, thank you, City Mission for showing me… "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Author: Mazie Chapin