The day was a perfect storybook day. Clear, sunny, (not scorching hot), but a great perfectly warmed day with a slight breeze. It was the best day that anyone could have wished for or prayed for. We were obviously not the only one pleased to be sharing our, “more than enough”. When we saw the faces on the parents and kids who participated and received gifts and food, it was apparent that we, on the earth were not the only ones smiling. It took a lot of physical work and co-ordination of many of the churches’ assets to bring about this wonderful celebration. And this was just a pre-curser to what is planned for the upcoming week as we near the Christmas season. All who contributed their efforts were more than rewarded by the laughter and smiles evident every way one turned. More than fun, this was a rewarding experience for those of us who normally are prone to remaining out of the direct action behind our chosen pseudo conservatism. This Sunday was a chance to go all out to make someone happy while sharing in the excitement.
My wife and I are in a somewhat unique, enviable position of volunteering for the Food Ministry where the food is put together. Then we are in the distribution where it is handed out each week. We have also been meeting, encouraging visitors and being a small part of the Bus Ministry where folks are picked up for transport to and from our church. So we are fortunate to watch the progression of folks from on the street without a church to attending our church. The new faces are worth any effort that we could muster.
This Sunday, we were blessed to see so many new faces who had answered our street ministry calls. Some of those came were here for things missing in their lives. Many of the people new to us were from Plant City. We as a church have reached past our immediate vicinity and four walls of the church to touch more people for Christ than ever before. We are sowing into peoples’ lives daily, although we recognize some came as a result of seeds planted by others in whatever near or distant past. In a way, it’s sad that so many people need help, but on the other hand, this is a living ministry and we have the ability to give needed assistance now. Some of our workers were talking to the people, in turn teaching them to sow an item of food into their neighbors’ lives, and sharing their experiences at River Church. That is more than awesome. Our church is showing people how to take what they have and sow no matter what is available to share. We are showing people the Biblical way to move away from lack.
The church volunteers were wearing orange or yellow safety vests which someone remarked made us stand out like worker ants. In fact, when I looked across the parking lot, it really was like watching ants. Everyone was so busy with toy distribution, food ministry, bus ministry, hot dog sales, music, etc. A really great thing was everyone was smiling and friendly and jovial amidst all of the hard work. The pace was a little hectic, but we were having so much fun blessing people.
First time visitors seemed to enjoy being a part of this enormous family enjoying life. Will we see them again? Yes, we will see many of them. And perhaps some of them much later on in the great scheme of things!
The past week I’ve gained allot of perspective in matters of the heart. Pastor Adonica really opened up the scriptures to us in the class. I learn that our heart attitude governs out fate and our destiny and that when we talk about our heart we are referring to the center of everything in us. I have been selfish 99.9 percent of my life and God had began to work on my heart these past few weeks and Pastor Adonica’s class couldn’t have come at a better time. Its funny how something so small (your tongue) can be so hard to control, its as though you can hear and feel the wrong words coming up before they do and as they reach the tip of your tongue there’s a choice to be made, and the deciding factor is always our emotions. Our emotions tend to decide what we say, but the word of God says that those lead by the spirit of God are the sons of God, so when that emotion is telling us to say what’s on your mind it’s the power given to us through the Holy Spirit that enables us to bridal our tongues. I’m learning about my pride and arrogance and how I’ve live in a place of selfishness for so long that I have to learn to be unselfish, It’s like teaching a two year old to share. And in this past week the Lord has really been showing me to let people be people and not expect them to be what I want them to be; that love looks for the best in all people and not the worst. I learned that I must give mercy to others as God gives mercy to me. I know that walking in love is a lesson I will be learning daily and something I must put into practice and without the grace of God I can’t do it in my own strength.
This past Sunday for me was very special in many different ways. I felt a great expectancy in the atmosphere. I have had the privilege to serve and be a member of The River for about 13 years, and have been apart of many outreaches here at the church. But there was something about this past Sunday, I believe that God really changed a lot of lives and the people were really expectant. The love of God was evident in the church and everyone who came in the church felt it. My faith has grown to another level since then to believe for more busses and vehicles to bring people to church. The people are now taking responsibility and accountability for their neighborhoods and their friends and bringing their families with them on the busses now. The change is really becoming evident. I feel that I am in the perfect will of God being apart of this ministry and helping fulfill the vision of my pastors’. I believe that God is about to do something great in Tampa Bay. God has us here for a reason and purpose and it is not just to sit and get blessed. But we are here to reach out of ourselves and to impact a lost and dying world. We have a responsibility to show forth the love of God in everything that we do and say. This past Sunday just showed me not to grow weary in well doing and that in do season we shall reap. The love that we showed to those people as we have gone into their neighborhoods and their homes will not be forgotten by these people. This past Sunday is just the beginning of what God will do with this ministry and this church. I am honored and privileged to be called a member of The River at Tampa Bay. Thank you Pastors’ Rodney and Adonica for instilling the vision into us and speaking it forth and with no shame, and preaching the full counsel of God. You will never know what a difference you have made in mine and my husbands’ life. We pray blessings over you and your family daily. Thank you.
One of the things that I was really able to understood and get out of the “Matters of the Heart” class was that no matter what happens, what you do or not do, what you say or not say, it always comes back to where was your heart . I always heard the story about how David was chosen to be the anointed one because he was faithful in the little and because of his heart. And that he was a man after God’s own heart, I always thought “wow he must have been super close to God and never sinned” but never really realizing that he failed God in many diff ways and that it was because of his heart that he was always quick to repent and quick to stand back up and keep on with his walk with God. As Pastor Adonica would teach on David’s life my eyes began to open to see how great God is and how He just wants our heart, He wants our hearts to be pure, and clean. It really amazes me to think and to know that God knows my heart, you know to just know that God knows everything about my heart and how He’s so precious towards it and how He wants to fulfill every dream every desire that I hold. It amazes me! Just like David, who messed up and looked where He wasn’t suppose to look, and then committed adultery, and killed someone..I am not perfect either and to just see how God knew David’s heart and knew David for whom he was God is the same to me and to everyone else. My relationship with God has grown so much; it feels good knowing He knows me, everything about me. This class really opened my eyes. Things that I knew and have heard a million times I never really understood it until last week. I am truly blessed!