Prayer Boxes

This year, as we focus on our homes becoming Household Wells in our neighborhoods, we thought it would be fun to come together and make something tangible we could each use to bless our communities. Have you heard of a neighborhood prayer box? Simply put, it's a box that you leave in your yard/porch/office/anywhere visible. People are invited to leave a prayer request in the box. Then, you as a household pray for those requests. 
 
Where you put the box and how you set it up is up to you. Perhaps you can attach it to a pole next to your mailbox. Or maybe you leave it outside of your apartment door. Maybe a local business will let you leave it on their counter. Or perhaps on your desk in your office is where you want to offer support. Start dreaming and praying about how God wants you to use your prayer request box!
 
On June 27th, from 10:15-noon (come anytime in that time frame) we will have a prayer box assembly party. All of the materials you need, as well as step-by-step directions, will be available so you and your family can put together your own wooden prayer box. We will have work stations set up for families to be distanced from others. We will also have these boxes available as take-home kits. The boxes are $25 each to cover materials, but we don't want anyone left out for financial reasons. You can read more about these kits and all the details in the sign-up form.
 
Please register by June 1 to allow us time to prep the prayer box kits. You can find out more and register here: https://forms.gle/s6YmAqfNqDT1xxJ7A
 
I also found a neat blog and video about a family who used a prayer box in their neighborhood. You can check that out here: https://www.sallycressman.com/creative-ideas/putting-a-steeple-on-your-house-through-prayer/.
 
For more information and questions, contact Emily at epowers@livelifetogether.com
 

Celebrate!

We have much to celebrate!!  It is good to recount our blessings and say THANK YOU to God!!  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” That is the stanza that is repeated over and over in Psalm 136.  This is going to be a bit of a rewrite of Psalm 136 as we rejoice with one another at some of the ways God has blessed us over the last few months at the Church.

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever; 

To him who brought us 7 new households for our online Connections,

For his steadfast loves endures forever;

And who has enabled us to stream our worship services live while meeting in person,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And who let us have 22 households start a penzu journal and live out being a well,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And who has kept our preschool open all year without any cases of covid,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

To the one who has blessed us with faithful families who return a tithe to worship God for all his good gifts and support our ministry,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

To him who has brought so many back to in person worship,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

To him who has kept lifeGroups meeting virtually and caring for one another and praying for each other,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And the one who has taught and deepened the faith of our Higher Ground students,

And brought 5 new babies into the family of God through the waters of baptism,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And to the one who has sustained and supported those who are struggling and hurting and lonely and sick through His presence and through the love of the body of Christ,

For his steadfast love endures forever and ever. Amen

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!  We have many, many blessings to celebrate!!  

 

You can try this at home as well.  If you go to our website www.livelifetogether.com under Household WELL you can find a template for Psalm 136 for an individual and for a family.  Try it out!!  You could even post your example in your Penzu journal.  

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, 

to sing praises to the Most High.” 

 Psalm 92:1

 
 

Write to Remember

“Write it down so you don’t forget.”   Have you ever heard those words or said them yourself?  The meaning can range from writing down an appointment so you remember to show up, or a list of items that you need to pick up at the grocery store or writing down your thoughts and feelings about an event that you have experienced.  No matter the context one thing is for sure, when we write it down it helps us remember.  In the writing, we slow down to process and get it out of our head and onto paper, and then we can go back and read it again and again.  

 

In 2021 we have set a goal to have 40 household wells keep a journal.  We want our households to see themselves as a well where the living water of Jesus flows freely to others.  Where they Welcome in Jesus, Engage with neighbors, Listen to others and God, and Love to try.  The journal is a place to keep a record of what the household is learning, discovering, doing, trying, how they have seen God’s faithfulness, and what they are struggling with during the year.   Why write it down?  So we can REMEMBER and give thanks to God and encourage one another that we are not alone on this journey, and inspire one another to share the water with those who are thirsty. 

 

How are we doing so far?  We have 22 Households participating. (Yay!)  There is also a journal for the church staff for the Leadership Board and for prompts. 

 

We would love to have some more journals started AND the journals that we do have, to add more entries.  It is easy to forget to add an entry and we know most households have so much going on it can be seen as “one more thing - and I don’t have space for one more thing”.  Our encouragement to you, is give it a try!  Perhaps on Sunday evenings you could take a few minutes and reflect on your week as a family and consider what could be added to the journal.  (it doesn’t have to take a long time)

 

Check out the prompts.  One of the journals is called “Journal Prompts” and you will find several prompts for each month.  You don’t have to answer each one, pick out the ones that resonate with you.  Interview your kids and add what they say.  If you make it part of your rhythm it will be easier to do.  Maybe find someone to help hold you accountable.  Send each other a text reminder.   If you have a journal, who could you encourage to start one and join you in the fun of reflecting on what God is up to and recording it?  

 

You may be thinking, “I’m not a good writer.”  You do not have to be a good writer. No one is going to give you a grade on this or check your spelling.  It is simply a place to capture the amazing things that God is doing in our midst.  And we really can’t remember as well if we don’t write it down.  And, it does not have to be perfect! You can just add bullet points, and thoughts that are not complete sentences.  Try just adding pictures with a short caption.  

 

If you are unsure how to set up the journal, you can email ameyer@livelifetogether and I would be happy to walk you through the simple steps.  It is not too late to start!! 

 
 

Bringing Jesus' Open-Door Policy to our Neighborhoods

This month we have been looking at Jesus through the lens of a door. He is our door, our gateway, to the Father. It’s an inviting image - Jesus holding the door open, welcoming us inside with eagerness. This open-door policy that Jesus has is intimate. He is never too busy, unavailable, or uninterested. He doesn’t have dress code requirements or office hours for us. He desires to be with us.

 

That picture of Jesus, holding the door open, is the image that our communities need. After a year of isolation, anxiety, grief, and constant adjustments to daily life, our friends and neighbors are craving an open door. As Household Wells, we bring to them the invitation that Jesus offers. When we hold an “Open-Door Policy” in our homes, we give a glimpse of Jesus eagerly waiting with His open door.

 

Spring is here, and now is the perfect time to make a plan, as a Household Well, as to how you can offer that gift of availability and relationship to your neighborhood. 

 

But what does that look like? Perhaps it means increasing your presence in your neighborhood through walks and sitting outside more. Perhaps it means noticing a neighbor doing yard work and offering to help. Or maybe it means finding a way to invite your neighbors into service with you. Whatever it is, the outcome is a stronger presence, and therefore sense of availability to those who live near you.

 

Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity and brainstorming:

  • Friday Night Fire Pits: Move the firepit to the driveway, add extra chairs, and invite some neighbors to join you. If you pick a certain night to do this each week, your neighbors will notice the rhythm and perhaps be curious to join you.

  • Invite your neighbors to join you to clean up a local park.

  • Deliver May Day baskets to some homes on your block.

  • Organize a neighborhood food drive (email me if you want some tips on this!).

  • Do you have a lot of people walking/biking in your neighborhood? Leave out a cooler of water and invitation for others to help themselves.

  • Remote working? Take your computer to your front porch/driveway. Be sure to say “Hi!” as neighbors pass by.

  • Use sidewalk chalk to write messages of encouragement on sidewalks.

  • When your kids go to the park, go with them and try to meet some other parents.

  • Go outside. Read outside, work outside, walk, drink a cup of coffee, just make a plan to be outside of your home as often as you can. You’ll begin to notice more in your neighborhood, you’ll be available to meet new people, and your community will begin to recognize you.

  • Pray as you walk your neighborhood. Ask God to give you insight into how you can be his hands and feet in your community. Pray for opportunities to build relationships.

 

What ideas are exciting to you? How is God nudging you to create an open-door policy for your home? Share your ideas with us in your Penzu journal, on our Facebook page, or by emailing me at epowers@livelifetogether.com.

 
 

JESUS AND THE OPEN DOOR POLICY

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pasture.” - John 10:9

 

It’s been over a year now of us being in this time of global pandemic. 

 

Churches are still facing the challenge of not being able to meet in-person 100%. Our church services nowadays are defined by restrictions, precautions, and pre-registrations. Because of the pandemic, many church doors, if not all, were forced to close and limit the people who can come in. Gone were the days when anybody and everybody who wishes to go to church can come in anytime  and just linger as long as they like, and we all badly miss those days of doing church freely.

 

The pandemic has locked us out where we were once allowed to enter freely. The enemy afflicts us with the message that we don’t have a place anymore, that we don’t belong. Yet while we all long for that day when we can have that open door policy again -- where there’s no need to wear masks, no need for social distancing, and no need to limit the church attendance, today, Jesus wants to remind and encourage us that He is our GATE, an open door for any who wishes to come and go freely and anyone who comes in finds abundant life in Jesus. 

 

An Open Door to Green Pastures

In Psalm 23, we find David writing about God as our Good Shepherd who leads us into quiet waters and green pastures. We are being likened to sheep who are always in need of a Shepherd to guide and lead us lest we become stray and wander away. And in this Psalm, David describes how God takes care of us and all the benefits of being led by Him. 

 

It’s amazing how Scripture always confirms Scripture, for here we see in the Old Testament that David portrayed God as a good shepherd and incredibly, John did the same in the New Testament in John 10.  He’s still the same Good Shepherd who takes His sheep to green pastures.

 

John writes in John 10:9 that Jesus is a gate and an open door that leads to green pastures where there is no lack, no drought, and where there is rest. Jesus never closes His doors on us. The door of His gate is always open for anyone who wants to come in. And truth be told,  every one of us is invited to come in. Everyone is welcome to enter in without restrictions and without conditions. We just have to come in through Jesus because Jesus is the ONLY way in. ( John 14:6)

 

What does this mean? If we want to experience the green pastures and the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10, then we need Jesus -- we need to accept Him in our lives and come to the Father through Him. In other words, there is NO OTHER WAY to experience God’s Kingdom, Heaven, and the abundant life that we all long for without Jesus. He is the gate and the door. And the best part? Since Jesus has not returned yet, His door will always remain open to everyone who’s lost and in need of a Shepherd. 

 

Don’t Wait for the Gate to Close

The affliction of being locked in leads to us trying to go our own way, to do self-preservation, to clutching what we have been holding on to, which then leads to anxiety, worry, stinginess, which in turn leads to loss -- even death of the soul.  The good news is that God wants everyone to come to repent and be saved. He does not want anyone to perish. (2 Peter 3:9) And we know that it is only through Jesus that we can receive salvation and eternal life (John 3:16). No one else and nothing else. 

 

However,  though God has been so patient and gracious with us, waiting for every soul to come to Him, there will eventually come a time when the door will be closed, and only those who are ready and those who accepted the invitation to come in will be saved.  Jesus will never force us to come inside the gate. Yes, He will lead us and guide us, but He will never force us. We have this freedom to choose whether to come in or not.  We have this free will to listen to our Good Shepherd’s voice and stay close to Him or we could choose to go on our own ways and leave His side. 

 

Jesus is coming back again, and soon the gate and the door will be closed. The question is: Where will you be?