Kickball and the Kingdom

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“Honey, a dumb kickball game is not one of my priorities right now! I have too much to do around here!”

I huffed and puffed about this time commitment, and this wife’s heart was anything but submissive.

I hung up the phone with my knuckle, since our conversation was had while I franticly tried to keep up with the mess that was being made…breakfast dishes scattered across kitchen. four loads of laundry to be folded. many more to be washed. my desire to get some blogging done. the house projects still needing to be tackled.

“Doesn’t anybody realize how much WORK is required for a family with six kids?!? I don’t have time for some church kickball game!”

The church where we are doing a residency program before we launch our church plant has a summer kickball league on Saturdays….the day when I try to get “caught up” on life.

but the minute I hung up the phone, I was convicted that I needed to submit to my husband’s request that I show up with the kids for the sake of community and fellowship.

I pull up to the field. forty-five minutes late.  (by the time you get 6 kids dressed, and fight the seat belt battle, and settle a few sibling tiffs and tempter tantrums, that was record time!)

Right across from the field a group of about 20 African Americans, march with signs about the racist shooting in Charleston last Wednesday.

I cringe as I realize I am a white person driving around in an all black neighborhood, right when racial tension is at its height.

I wonder what these individuals think of me….

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On the field was a smattering of whites, black, tan (Asian), and dark tan (Indian) bodies.  All friends, all gathering together to enjoy one another and fellowship.

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Receiving kickball instructions

I realized that this was far more than “a dumb kickball game”.

This kickball game was a display of the Kingdom.

Why would people of so many different colors, ethnic backgrounds, and economic statuses join together?

it was for more than a dumb kickball game.

It was because a group of people, who all need the Same Savior, to the same extent, gather from all parts of the city in order to know Him better, worship him more freely every Sunday… and throughout the week.

This is my Church.

And when racial tensions strain to new levels, Gospel love is creating a bond and unity amongst races, ethnicities, and socio economic disparities.

And that group of protestors, might ask questions about this diverse splattering of skin colors out on the field. Ask who we are and what we are doing.

And we tell them we are the Body of Christ.

We are a kingdom preview of Revelation 17:9

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

We love Jesus.

And we like to play kickball.

 

 

 

 

No other explanation

It’s all his fault.

He made me do it.

Just if he hadn’t written that little book. Just if it hadn’t hit such a chord in my soul. Just if I hadn’t begun to pray that prayer based on what he had written.

“I cannot-and only God can….It means bowing to the fact that you cannot and only God can.  It means acting on the assumption that this is true, and exposing ever situation to Him moment by moment, for HIM to accomplish what you cannot, while you tell Him ‘Thank you!’…Then you will be begin to live miraculously. A life that can only be explained by the fact that there is a Resurrected Christ and He lives in his people.”

Major W. Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ

So, I foolishly started praying that God would work in such a way in my life, that “there would be no explanation except that there is a Resurrected Christ and He lives in His people. “

I had envisioned constant energy. Unending peace. Supernatural optimism.  The God-given ability to keep up with everything, and manage 8 people’s different schedules, and have joy in my children while doing so.

But, instead, I end up with an incredibly debilitating pregnancy.

And a sick boy.

And a husband having major reconstructive surgery. **

And then postpartum depression to top it off.

Not exactly what I was expecting.

But in all my weakness, and inability, the body of Christ rallied. People made us meals. Friends volunteered to watch children.  Teachers took kids on extended playdates. Administrators at school showed grace when things weren’t done or turned in on time. A neighbor volunteers to read to little ones, so I can help big ones with homework. Other friends gave rides, fed little people snacks, welcomed my kids into their homes and loved them like their own.

It was just embarrassing, how needy I was.

But then, God gently reminded me of the prayer I had been praying ever since Ian Thomas’ message broke into my life….

“…there would be no explanation except that there is a Resurrected Christ and He lives in HIS PEOPLE.”

Not just Kimberly, as one person.

Oh no, that would give her far to great an opportunity for pride.

No, He was answering that prayer.

For He was surely putting HIMSELF on display not through simply one person, but a BODY of PEOPLE all moving as the Spirit led them. All offering themselves, their time, their resources, to help another member of the Body…

me.

And Danny

And this rather large brood of energetic, ready-for-LIFE little children.

and the church planting mission He has placed us on.

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so, when people stop and gawk at the entourage of Iversons, and say, “I don’t know how you do it!”

I tell them,

“I don’t.”

“You want to know my secret?”

“Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again from death. He is alive NOW. and He lives in His people.”

Our family can offer no other explanation.

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**THANK YOU-to all who prayed for Danny’s surgery.  The doctor told me beforehand, “I’m actually really excited about working on his shoulder. Its not your standard repair, so its an exciting challenge for me.”  Welp. I’m glad Danny could add some excitement to his day. But seriously, the doctor was AMAZING and is one of the best shoulder arthroscopic surgeons in the country.  We are beyond blessed to have been able to use him.  The surgery went well, the doctor is optimistic, Danny is very groggy, and is now embarking on a 6-10 month journey to full recovery, through an enormous amount of prayer and physical therapy. Let us know any prayer requests you have, because he’s gonna have ALOT of mindless exercises to do that can be filled with times of prayer and intercession!

Not about the soccer schedule….

"Our Kids" at one of our youth group meetings several years ago. "

“Our Kids” at one of our youth group meetings several years ago.

Spoke to my best friend yesterday.

We didn’t shoot the breeze about our kid’s soccer teams.  Or about ballet schedules being busy.  Didn’t talk about the sale at Macy’s or about what color we will paint our kitchens.

No, the mothering issues she faces are far more intense than that, for she resides in Newark, NJ, where every day is a battle for a child’s life. A struggle against a society so broken and dysfunctional due to the generational curses of sin and selfishness…theirs and ours.

When asked what was going on in her life, she unloaded the enormous burden she’s been carrying for the past several weeks in.  One of her surrogate children came to visit…came to visit with bruises all over his body.

Bruises due to his stepfather’s anger.  His anger and his leather belt.

She tried to contact that boy’s mother, but that mother is in such an intense addiction due to her own mother’s neglect and abuse because of her addiction (the cycle goes on and on), that she can’t think of anything beyond how she will get her next fix. My best friend didn’t dare call the cops, because that means that child and his two older sisters would be taken out of the home and tossed around the foster care system.

A system that my friend herself endured as a child, and to this day bears the wounds of abuse within it.  She just could not do that to them.

Weeks passed by with him living in her home, hiding him, being a refuge for him from the wrath of his stepfather, and those weeks rolled into the school year starting. She worried and fretted because wasn’t a legal guardian and couldn’t enroll him in school. But she prayed. And she cried out to God to work in this situation. Miraculously, that boy’s grandmother, showed up out of nowhere and agreed to take him and enroll him in school .  A beacon of light for this hurting boy, whose hurt and crying out for help has come in the form of behavior that has kicked him out of four different school.  Will that grandma have what it takes to help this eleven year old boy overcome the ripping apart that happens in a child’s heart when his mother abandons him for her drugs, and a stepfather left to raise him beats him?

THESE are the questions my friend battles with…on top of her own financial struggles, on top of raising numerous children in a violence-ridden city, on top of not having a local soul to help her, pray for her, encourage her, because where she lives…she’s the most stable one around.

And if all that weren’t enough, towards the end of the conversations she says,

“Miss Kimberly*, I know you are going through alot, and I hate to tell you this…but I need you to pray…..

….last night a fourteen year old got shot and killed in Rosie’s (a housing projects two blocks from our old home).  I haven’t found out who it was yet…after I saw it on the news, I started calling around but I still haven’t found out who it was…it might have been one of our kids**”

*She still calls me Miss Kimberly from when I started teaching her daughter’s Sunday School class those 8 years ago.

**”OUR kids” means one of the kids who was part of Safe Haven

A child. got shot. and killed.

And I’m worried about toxic black mold.

Daniel’s heart-wrenching story started flooding all over me again.  All the thoughts and emotions, and tears and grief I experienced two years ago over his death, they surfaced like it had happened yesterday.

And my heart goes into a panic, and I feel like a caged animal. Longing for a city, a people so dark and broken. Longing to be THERE. Longing to DO something. Longing to simply show up in that place, to at least be a tiny light for kids who have nothing, kids who get beaten by grown men, kids who have mothers so hurt by the abuse they themselves experienced that they can only live  for the numbing affects of their heroine addiction. I feel trapped. trapped here in the comforts of the suburbs, in the mess of dealing with mold and moving in, and school schedules and housework.

Something must be done.

Those gates of hell, must be stormed.

The darkness must be penetrated.

Penetrated, not with a financial gift, or a handout, or a soup kitchen,

but penatrated with the Power of the LIVING CHRIST, whose precious blood has already been spilled to break those kids, those abusive dads, those heroine-using moms free from the power of sin.

and the LIVING CHRIST shows up in that neighborhood through his Body.

Who will go?

Mold Remediation Plan

Life has been a whirlwind these past two weeks, and I’m working on a post documenting God’s incredible faithfulness through the Body of Christ here, but in the meantime, here is our” Mold Remediation Plan” which we are working through (we just finished #4 today). We have also moved out while we work on everything, and are staying with a dear family from our school who has a child in Daniel Josiah’s class.  They have a GREAT house for kids, so the children think that having black mold is awesome!

1. Get rid of all items listed  (practically all items in house) in blog post, here. (yesterday we found black mold on our Scrabble pieces for goodness sakes!)
2. Purchase 50 pint dehumidifier from Lowes or Home Depot (to be put in basement area to keep humidity down)
3. purchase 1 gal. of Micro ban  Plus (mold and spore killer),  to spray down anything we are trying to salvage
4. Spend a day spraying down all salvageable (things that show NO signs of mold) items with Microban, bleach in laundry anything trying to be preserved.
5. Purchase Hygrometer (humidity gage)  in order to keep humidity under control, and prevent any leftover black mold spores from sprouting
6.. Have AdvantaClean come in to remove current mold in house. Won’t be able to come until September 5 due to their booked schedule.
7. Go through house and wipe down all baseboards with Microban.
8.  Have all carpets cleaned by All Star Chem-dry, which uses a special process to remove mold spores brought into house, without wetting carpets
9.  Have dry cleaned any sentimental linens, articles of clothing, etc.
10. THEN start moving replacement items into house. (SO NOTHING NEW CAN COME INTO OUR HOUSE UNTIL THE EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 5)
11. Have Benjamin and Malachi’s lungs x-rayed and checked out by traditional medical doctor. Have entire family get checked out by physicians.
12. Have Benjamin detoxed and his immune systems strengthened (after having lived with a suppressed one the first three years of his existence)  through an all natural Chinese medicine treatment plan through Green Med Spa, (Benjamin goes twice a week)
13.  Attempt to detox rest of family with essential oils, and natural mold exposure remedies
14.  Keeps singing.

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“God Doesn’t Need You” and why I don’t believe it.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:13-27

I’ve heard it is many times, as I’ve lamented our not returning to Newark, NJ to work among the inner city poor there.

God doesn’t NEED you.

And I know another person that heard words similar-

Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.

That young man, he and I, we don’t believe it.

Not for a minute.

William Carey, who has become known as the Father of Modern Missions, was told to to shut up and sit down.

I’m so glad he didn’t.

And, frankly, I can’t either.

Not with knowing what I know, and seeing what I’ve seen, and knowing that these inner city poor are less than a 15 minute drive from most of us.

Saying that God doesn’t need me, is like saying God doesn’t need the sun to sustain life on the earth.

Granted. He could have designed things differently, so that He didn’t need the sun to sustain life.

BUT HE DIDN’T. IT IS HIS CHOSEN MEANS OF GIVING LIGHT TO THE EARTH.

And as a now-child of the King, and part of the Body of Christ, I have received the mandate to be the light, and to let my light shine before all men, that they may see my good deeds and glorify my Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

And if I’m not doing anything different than my neighbor-being kind to those who are easy to be kind to, or befriending those who don’t make me feel too uncomfortable, or welcoming people into my home and my life people who have just as many resources as I do, or not going too far out of my comfort zone, then I’ve got no good deeds to even awaken someone’s attention-much less lead them to glorify my Father in heaven.

God made my hands and feet to be a visible display of HIS hands and feet in the trenches of dirt and heartache, and suffering and need. It’s how He’s chosen to do it, to include us in His Glorious Rescue Mission.

God doesn’t need me.

But He does.

Because I am a part of that beautiful Body of Christ, in which all of the fullness of Christ dwells.

And if I’m not GOING to the margins, to seek and save the lost, if I am not GOING to those who have yet to hear the good news of Jesus’ love, then I’m not obeying the Head. I am a disfunctional part of the Body.

A Body which is His CHOSEN means for making His glory known, CHOSEN to be the vessel through which His redemption plan unfolds, CHOSEN to be the mouthpiece to testify to the truth that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, CHOSEN to be the hands and feet and heart that actually suffers, and strives, and labors to make visible a (now) invisible Savior who suffered and strove and labored to win His rebellious people back to the Father.

God doesn’t need me.

you say,

Oh, but He does.

And He needs you too.

Ann Voskamp communicates these thoughts beautifully here

Because She is HIS

There are more of them here than you could possibly count. Big ones, small ones, rich ones, not-as-rich ones. Ones with rock concerts every Sunday and ones with organs and orchestras. Ones with the top theologically trained preachers in the world, and ones preaching the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. Not just one for each denomination, but hundreds for each denomination. We live in a place with them meeting in every building, school, and storefront you can imagine. We are literally SURROUNDED by CHURCHES here in Orlando.

And where did God lead us to worship, plug in, and serve after having, for five years, worked with a church that could suck one’s spiritual life dry? He led us to a small Korean church looking for someone to preach in English with the goal of reaching English speakers in the area.

The first Sunday here, after listening to Korean songs, preaching, and prayers, standing in line to eat extremely spicy Korean food, with all Korean chatter filling my ears and images of beautiful Asian faces surrounding me, I whispered over to Danny,

“Did we just get transported to Korea??”

We had several different job offers…at some really great, friendly (and mostly white) churches.

But after that second Sunday, and a meeting in broken English with the head pastor, we couldn’t deny it.

We both felt called to this place.

And over the past year and a half, with Danny preaching an English service, we have seen God do some beautiful things in the small flock of English speakers that He has drawn to this place as well. And it was refreshing to learn from and intermingle with these precious Koreans.

And then, we abruptly were notified that the service and ministry Danny led would be ending.

We were shocked.

They said they would like for us to stay but were free to go if we were so inclined. Not to mention the very humbling and confusing series of events surrounding this situation, staying meant worshipping each Sunday in Korean, and having a little headset for someone to translate the Korean sermon into broken English so we could have a remote clue as to what was going on.

And just as God brought us here to minister, God also brought us here to learn, and to be humbled, and to strip down completely anything that keeps us committed to a place other than for the sake of His beauty displayed in Her…

The beauty of a Savior who washed peoples from all cultures and all nations so that there could be a beautiful image of His love and unity in His bride,
The Church.

Not the activities associated with what the Church does.

And, if anything, this whole humbling mess brings questions that clear away the fog of what we think we are committing to on a Sunday morning…

Why do we show up to a place of worship each Sunday?

Is it for the awesome praise band? Is it for the preaching (my husband’s a really good preacher, if you don’t mind me saying so)? Is it for socializing with all the people I can easily relate to and receive encouragement from? Is it a grand social club? Or entertainment? Or a spiritual message that makes me feel better? Is it even just for the sake of ministry?

Or is it the coming together of unlikely siblings to rejoice together over a common love of a common Savior that has made us into an uncommon family. And despite language barriers, and cultural barriers, can I show up in expectation that I will meet my Father, and hear my Savior’s voice even in the eighties praise songs joyfully belted out in Korean, or the sermon translated into very simple English with a lot of disconnect in ideas, and a very different leadership style. Do I really believe that when I show up to all the foreignness that I show up to experience the fullness of Him who fills all in all? (Ephesians 1:23)

Do I show up because I long for…

Him?

And HE has made her to be His means of moving and speaking and ministering, this side of glory.

I long for all the fullness….even fullness that gets uncomfortable

So,

I show up because she is HIS.