Remembering Kathy Price


I met Kathy Price while serving at a food distribution event for our community at Springbrook almost 2 years ago. She had such a pleasant spirit about her and we had a really good conversation. She told me she had no friends or family and that she lived alone on the streets of a neighboring town. She would call me at the office occasionally to ask about the next food truck, and then later would be began asking me if there was any way I could help her financially.

In Matthew 25 beginning in verse 31, Jesus talking about His 2nd coming and final judgement, describes the faithfulness of His disciples as those that provided for others in need as if they were providing for Him directly. These passages continually came to mind as my relationship with Kathy continued, but so did this feeling of caution, especially after she had told me doctors were only giving her 1 or 2 months to live almost a year earlier. I was never quite sure I was getting the whole story.

It was interesting getting to know Kathy. She had a habit of just showing up at the office to ask for financial support. She always seemed to have this outlandish catastrophic story for which she needed money. On several occasions, my wife and I drove over to the neighboring town to pay for food or supplies. One time I had to make arrangements to transfer funds to a local grocery store because she was making a scene in the checkout lane about needing to purchase food and not having any money.

Several of the local retailers in her community knew her, and all of them appeared to be worn down from working with her. Once she was comfortable coming to my office and got my cell phone number, that overwhelming feeling began to overtake me too. I tried inviting her to church, but she was never able to attend. I tried to introduce her to others when she came by the office, but she always had to leave because her ride couldn’t wait for her.

One day when she “stopped by the office” with her dilemma for the week, more out of frustration than anything, I told her what she really needed was Christ! Probably not the best technique for sharing my faith, but to my surprise she said, “I know.” That got my attention.

As I sat and listened further to the fullness of her story unfold, it was heart-breaking. We were talking about the effects of sin in this word apart from God’s design, God’s plan for us in spite our condition, and the hope that is ours as a result of our relationship with Jesus Christ. After 30 minutes of conversation, with tears flowing down her face, she said, “I want a relationship with Jesus, what do I need to do?”

Kathy became a Christ-follower that day. I continued working with her and helping where I could, but everything I did always seemed to fall short of the condition she found herself in. I always walked away from my conversations with her wishing I could just fix her problems, but always faced with the reality that all I could do was support the best I could.

This past Friday, Good Friday, I received a notification that Kathy had passed away. After 2 years of praying that God would provide for her physical and spiritual needs, I am so grateful that I can rejoice that Kathy today, is in God’s presence. Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” I know that Kathy is in good hands now.

Kathy had purchased a bus ticket to Florida where she knew she would find a warmer climate. I don’t know if anyone will plan a funeral or if the state will provide a place for burial. I don’t know who to even call to find any information, and I don’t know that she left anyone behind. I do know that for the short time I knew her, she helped me learn to be more compassionate. She reminded me of the importance of caring for others in need. And she has reminded me of the hope that is mine in Christ Jesus.

I wanted someone else to know that Kathy has gone to be with Jesus.  I will miss Kathy, her raspy voice and childlike smile, but know that one day I will get to see her again under the best of circumstances!  Until that day, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace that is found only in Christ.

In His Grip,
Richard

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I’m Claiming October


imagesOctober is a great month.  In fact, I’m going to claim October 2015 for myself as a milestone month!  I’ve been married 30 years and we are celebrating our anniversary this month.  I can tell you the story some time, but let me summarize.  We almost didn’t survive year 1 and by year 10, well, it wasn’t good.  By the grace of God, I stumbled into Faith Church and met Zack Turner 20 years ago, and came to understand my need for a relationship with Christ.  The fact that I’m celebrating 30 years of marriage, let alone still breathing, is a testimony the new life available in Christ and to the fact that Carolyn is definitely my better half!

When I moved to Illinois in ’95, I was only going to be here for 1 year.  I really don’t like living in the snow and cold.  I’ll refrain from bashing Illinois, but apparently God wanted me in this place.  We had been moving every couple of years, and I was really hoping to slingshot through.  But alas, this month officially marks the longest I have ever lived in any one state since I was born!  Last month I celebrated 7 years at Springbrook, and this month officially marks the longest I have ever had one job!

It just really feels like a millstone month.  I don’t know if I’m just getting older and more nostalgic, or if God is just getting ready to bust the doors open on something somehow.  I read once that 40 is the new 30, but heard someone say recently that 50 is the new 30!  I feel like that, although I don’t know what that means for the 30 year olds. Psalm 90:10,12 tells us we have 70-80 years and that we should number our days. I’m shooting for 80, so I have 9,713 days left as of today. I am waiting on and trusting in God each day, and am really looking forward to the next 30 years with Carolyn and what God has!

Be blessed, and Happy October!
(I’ll share my month with you🙂

And Cornelius told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.” ~ Acts 11:13-15

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The Christian’s Goal: Obedience


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In the beginning, God created…” Those first 5 words found in the Bible, still bring me to a place of awe every time I pause to reflect on them. They were penned thousands of years ago, and are the explanation for, and the foundation of our existence and purpose. All of creation is God’s and those words scream out to His glory.

In Genesis 2, after God created Adam (and before He created Eve), we read in verse 16, “And the Lord God commanded the man…” We also see just a few verses later in Genesis 3:11, God ask Adam, “Have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

It’s interesting to me that from the beginning, obedience was the one virtues of Paradise that God valued in our relationship with him. In fact, it is the one conditional requirement for mankind that enables us to experience Paradise. Nothing is said of love, grace, faith, humility – it is obedience that covers all. Equally supreme to the authority of God, is the demand of obedience, and it is that one thing that decides our destiny.

Turning to last chapter of the Bible, we read in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life.” Don’t miss this – from beginning to end, from Paradise lost to Paradise regained, God’s plan is unchanged: it is obedience that gives access to the tree of life, to His favor in our life, and to the fullness of a relationship with Him.

God’s love for us is vast, His mercies are new every morning, and His grace is sufficient and made perfect in our weakness. Do not copy the patterns and customs of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind as you reflect on God, His word, and your obedience.

On the journey together,
Pastor Rich

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Before there was Christmas


2014-12-03_9-02-58I’ve been reflecting back on several passages this past week, that in some way have become commonplace for me as a Christ-follower.  There are those passages that I’ve memorized long ago, or that I read or hear about frequently, that somehow have lost their place in the priority of my thinking.

According to one source, there are 8,674 different Hebrew words in the Bible and 5,624 different Greek words. When you string all those words together to form different sentences and ideas, and then apply them to all the different life circumstances and ministry opportunities, it is easy to see how one’s mind can loose sight of it all!

But this morning I was gripped by a thought from one of those earlier passages I read in life, which come from some of the first words in the Bible, in fact they are the 10th, 11th, and 12th words, in Genesis 1:2. In the beginning, the earth was formless, it was empty and in darkness: 2014-12-03_8-41-12

The words, formless, empty and dark really struck me this morning. Those words and the idea of them, left me feeling a little down for a moment. There have been times when I felt in the dark, or empty inside, or that things were formless and out of control. But then it dawned on me, even at that time, God was there!

When things were formless, empty and dark, God was there. His Spirit was there hovering over the waters. In John 1:1,14, it says that Jesus was there too! What a great reminder that in every circumstance, in every life situation, we never need to be in despair because God is there!

You know, one of the things I love about Christmas is the reminder that we are never alone. God sent His Son into this world, to save us from our sin, yes. But He also sent His Son out of His love for us and the desire for a relationship with us. As I head into the Christmas holiday, I’m grateful for the reminder that I am never alone, that God loves me, and has a plan for me in this life and the next.

Wow, what a gift – I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

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Getting Unpacked


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Give Me Jesus

I got a text from my daughter Catie last week after I got back from India that said, “I’m praying for you as you unpack… far beyond your suitcase!” I’ve been back a week now, and I have really come to appreciate that text. That was a great prayer, and I can’t help but wonder, “Is that really my kid that came up with that!”

It has been just over a week, and I’m longing for India, and still having to process through all that I saw and learned. I came back from Uganda 2 years ago, and had the same residual feeling that carries with me today. There is something about stripping away all of life’s distractions, and just being around people that have a genuine interest and desire to learn more about God and the Bible. It is exhilarating!

I was reading through Luke chapter 10 this week, where Jesus sends out the 70, and He sends them out two by two ahead of Him to every city He was going to be visiting. They go out, and when they come back in verse 17, it says they are filled with joy and so excited! I can really relate to that feeling; it is exhilarating to be on mission with Jesus!

But in verse 20, Jesus says something that really captured my attention; He says, “Don’t rejoice over the experience you just had, instead, rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

You know, it is easy to get excited about good experiences and to be frustrated by bad experiences. But at the end of the day, Jesus says celebrate the hope that you have in Him. My mind is processing through what and how to share what I learned, thinking about the next steps, and how to build on all those great new friendships and relationships. These are all important, but at the end of the day, I can find rest in my identity in Christ.

I hope you know Christ personally, and can experience daily the peace and joy that can only come from Him. If that is something you long for, check out www.peacewithgod.net or drop me a note. Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

On the journey together,
Richard

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Made It Home!


Home18 hours in the air, and 6 hours at the airport, and I’m finally home! Thank you so much for praying for me and our India vision trip, and I look forward sharing and dreaming together!

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
~ Hebrews 13:14-15

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India Update: A Heart For Compassion


Jesus was walking through all the towns and villages teaching and preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds he had compassion on them.”
Matthew 9:35-36

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Our hectic travel schedule and lack of wifi has kept me from my ability to have a daily blog update the past few days, so I am going to share a brief summary of an emotionally overwhelming week while I have a limited connection! This is a quick one from my cell so I’ll have to clean up some of the details later =)

We arrived in Delhi Sunday night and Monday drove out to Rohtak in the district of Haryana to visit two church plants, one was in a leper colony and the other was in a local slum. I was captivated by the hearts of the children and adults that we encountered and have such an appreciation the work that God has been doing in these areas. Church planting takes on a whole new meaning when you are walking through an area such as these.

Tuesday we visited a school served by a local pastor who is also leading a church plant. The capacity here for a training center and the ability to have a long term impact was great. The lunch conversation with my new friends Dr. CV Vadavana of Sathyam Ministries and Ivan Veldhuizen of Converge Worldwide International Ministries crystallized in my mind what a partnership might look like. I was proud of our conference and excited about where God is moving.

Wednesday we traveled to Patna in the district of Bihar to visit two church plants and a training center, where 12 students were diligently studying for the ministry God was calling them toward.

Thursday we visited a local church plant and then gathered together with several pastors and influential leaders in the area. Ivan did a fantastic job representing Converge and casted a strong vision for what a partnership in India might look like.  There was energy in the room and I am jazzed about where God is leading to say the least.

Friday morning we flew into Kolkata. I had an opportunity to see the area and headed to the airport after dropping off Ivan and CV at the hotel. They are continuing on through the weekend to meet with local pastors and and leaders and visiting church plants. Ivan is teaching Sunday in a church started by William Carey – okay, that is way cool!

I’m still pondering a few thoughts and will have to share later, but for now, I gotta move. Thank you for your prayers!

On the journey together,
Richard

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