By Emily M.
Our housing situation is really nice. Our host church has several ministries, including a school and a rotating homeless hospitality ministry, that make use of the facilities we are staying in. The TBC women are in one class room and TBC men are in another, providing ample space for the air mattresses and sleeping bags plus our luggage. We are down the hall from the school's gymnasium and the locker rooms for the gym serve as our bathrooms, with ample counter space, toilets, and showers. All of this is conveniently located about 300 yards from the sanctuary, so this morning we grabbed coffee and breakfast from the church kitchen and hung out in a space just outside the nursery area. As we ate we were serenaded by the worship team's practice, which included some new-to-most-of-us songs. The members of TBC's worship team promised to bring back some ideas for new music to New Hampshire.
All in all this made for an excellent wake-up. We got to know each other better, eat food, and enjoy the music.
Last night during our group devotions time, Ed shared with us how Anita wanted to move to Wellington, Colorado, but they had a hard time finding the right property in the price range that the ministry could afford. Then they found this foreclosure, and just when it seemed it might slip out of their hands at auction, their bid was accepted. Though this property was without its own water source, it has turned out to be “just the right size” with multiple zoning and tax advantages that apply to properties that are exactly the acreage of the ranch. Those benefits, including reduced taxes on a tractor purchased to clear land as well as the permission to build the type of housing they’d like to house homeless families in, were only made possible because of the fact that the property has 40 acres. This more than makes up for the concern about water, which the Rennells have addressed by bringing in water in industrial-sized bottles.
I say all of this to provide context for why today's worship and sermon were so powerful for us. Yesterday, I shared some of the frustrations we experienced after arriving in Denver, and how today’s rest period would be helpful for the group to recover and re-focus before kicking off the week’s work. The sermon this morning did a great job of setting the tone for our day of rest. Pastor Bert read from Acts 11, when Peter has a vision of "unclean" animals and is told by God to bring the Good News to the Gentiles.
He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.
Over time, as Peter learned what God wanted him and the other Christians to do, they moved into a state of "conscious competence" where Peter and the early church chose to engage the Gentiles. After years of practice doing this, the church transitioned into a state of "unconscious competence," in which the actions of the church engaged all nations of the Earth without having to "think twice" about it. Evangelism to all people regardless of race or nationality became a core value of the church.
Peter had a big impact on the church (#understatement), but only because he continued to stay engaged and remain faithful to Christ. Pastor Bert reminded us that two disciples are noted in the Gospels to have failed Christ: Peter and Judas. Judas gave up, but Peter held fast. Peter was a lifelong "remodel" to Christ. He kept trying, failing, and trying again to bring Christ's message to the people of the world. All the while Christ was working on Peter, remodeling Peter's heart into one that looked like Christ's.
Our lives are a remodeling project, too. We become more beautiful, more whole, more useful to the Kingdom of God when we recognize that we are “under construction” and need God’s help to take down the rotten parts of us and rebuild us into something better.
The construction metaphors really hit the nail on the head for us, since we'll be working on construction projects this week. This service was a fantastic encouragement to us, and we are excited for the work God has planned for us. We must keep going, we must not give up on our remodel.
After the service ended we ate lunch and piled in the car for a hike in the Rockies with Todd, Meredith and Payton. On the way to the Rockies, we got word that more prayers were answered. It seems so fitting that, after worshiping and recommitting to our own personal remodeling projects, God reminded us that he is the Ultimate Builder with a tool-related answer to prayer. Yesterday, at Home Depot and Lowe’s Josh and Chris could not locate the correct joist hangers and nails. Without those fasteners, we wouldn’t be able to make much headway on construction at Soaring Wings. Chris found nails on Amazon and they can arrive to the ranch by Tuesday, in time for us to use them. Then this afternoon we got word from Ed that God answered our prayers, with the news arriving right before we entered a canyon where we all lost cell phone service. Ed worked with someone at Home Depot to find the joist hangers we needed, and in his words, “it is all taken care of.” God is alive and working, and He has shown us early on that He will provide us with all we need, if we only ask Him.
We had a wonderfully restful afternoon hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and dining in community with the Soaring Wings Ministries staff (the Rennells and the Peters). We are praising God and looking forward to the week.