Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

Outreach 101 <3

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Russ and I have been trying to attend the Wednesday Lenten Services offered at the nearby Lutheran Church as our schedules permit.

This past Wednesday, he was out of town so I put on my big girl pants and went by myself. 

Being long time church attenders and just knowing we humans are creatures of habit, it is always a bit dicey to choose a pew.

Some people find this irritating in the Church, but I don’t mind it. I understand.

We tend to gravitate to certain places to sit – whether it is the coffee shop, a favorite restaurant or the church. 

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I scanned the rows and decided to slip in to one that was semi full.

I moved down to leave room for any late comers, but as I was scooting the gentleman at the end of the group already seated turned and very kindly said to make sure I left room for one as his wife would be coming soon. 

I left space and as I sat down, the couple in front of me both turned to look back and see who was now behind them. 

Being self-conscious I asked if someone else usually sat there and they were so sweet and laughed in agreement that we don’t want to upset the apple cart in the church pews.

Then they introduced themselves by name to me and shook my hand. I told them my name and they made some small talk with me offering some information about their own lives. I did share that I belong to FCC and they tried to think who they knew that went there as well.

As we chatted, the wife of the gentleman next to me arrived and she caught on that I was a visitor so introduced herself and her husband. She also chatted a little with me.  

People who really know me are not at all surprised by this since total strangers who I have not even made eye contact with are drawn to share their life story with me, but I do have a different point to make here.

When the service was over, they once again asked me to repeat my name and then said it was nice to have me attend and repeated their names for me. 

No big deal, right?

But it was huge to me. 

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I was alone and missing my husband. 

I felt vulnerable and unsure of myself. 

And with just a simple conversation, I felt welcomed and included. 

I added four names to people I know and some information about their lives and history in this community. 

It made me realize how important it is for us to do the basics of greeting people and introducing ourselves. 

Our church pastors and staff work hard to bring people to Christ, but it is also our job as ministers of the Gospel to reach out, literally one on one, and make an intentional effort to be welcoming and kind. 

Sharing a little bit about who we are and making room for strangers to make a connection. 

Whether it is in the context of a service at the church or out in the community, we are the extension of the hands and feet of Christ. 

He took time to talk to people, to share Himself with others and to listen to what they wanted to share with Him. 

I pray for God to help me be more outward focused at church and in life <3

All good teaching needs a response…here is mine <3

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I left you on Monday and Tuesday with some of the thoughts that I took down in notes from the Intentional Church Conference held at FCC last Saturday. 

As I mentioned, we only attended the morning sessions as we had places to be and people to see, but it was a packed house and great event for the half day we were able to participate.

Looking back over my notes and even the highlighted points from Monday and Tuesday posted here on the Journey, I step back and have to ask…but what does that look like for me? 

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I have a degree of influence through the roles I am allowed to fill as a Sunday School teacher and co-leader of some of the prayer ministries at my local church. 

I work two days a week in the public setting of a sweet little shop and have been honored and blessed to be given the opportunity to have my own consignment business of clothing in there for the past nine months. 

This has opened the door for me to meet people in that industry in person and through customer service calls.

At least once a week on average, I am the resident adult for the band of brothers and little miss thing…and I still am the voice in the heads of three Reimer kiddos who, like it or not…live under the sphere of my prayers and moods and love and angst.

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There are friends and acquaintances and mentors and mentees who swirl around my days like beautiful butterflies landing and taking off and I miss some opportunities with them, and I catch a few and relish in the fellowship. 

I have my husband who is my best friend and partner and chief supporter and needs me to be the same. 

And on the other side of this screen, on any given day of the week, unknown faces stop by to read the things I have tapped out on these keys. 

So as I look at what living on mission is for me, I realize I am not called to change church policy or hold up signs for or against decisions being made in the political arena. 

For the most part, I know how to love my people well – I just don’t always have the time or energy to do it. 

I know what is right and I know what is wrong and I know that if we all could just figure that out and do it, the world would be better. 

I also am keenly aware I have no power or authority to make people choose to do what is right. 

I am not good at overlooking blatant sin and defiance of God and His Word and so I struggle with how it looks to welcome everyone and make them feel like they belong even when they seem to be thumbing their nose at everything I believe to be true and right. 

So I need help. 

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And I think that is what the biggest takeaway from the conference was for me. 

Each of us must examine ourselves and our devotion to Jesus. 

We need to crack open those Bibles we keep holding up, and read and let it sink in. 

Meditating on what His ministry looked like.

Not coloring it in with modern political correctness nor American moralism, but truly asking the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and hearts until the Word of God burns in us a fresh passion for Jesus.  

And then, humbling ourselves and asking Him to change and transform us through the power of His Word so that we can walk out into the sphere of real influence He has placed us in…

for me personally…

to look back over that list I made up there at the top and ask God for His eyes and His heart for each group.

And I mean – each group….the ones I already think I love well and the ones that are….

well…

hard to love.

I cannot do this without Him.

We, as the Church, cannot love the people God is sending us to minister to WITHOUT Him.

So my biggest takeaway…

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What am I doing today to spend more time seeking God so that I can be on mission with Him to seek and save the lost? 

And then make it intentional in my life to do more of that and less of the stuff that distracts me from the only thing I can do each day to share the Good News of Jesus Christ that this world so desperately needs.

Last night I attended St Paul’s Lenten service and this prayer of confession was in the bulletin.

I hope they don’t mind me sharing – there is no author credited.

Confession and Absolution

You asked for my hands, that You might use them for Your purpose.

I gave them to You, then withdrew them, for the work was hard.

You asked for my mouth to speak out against injustice. I gave You a whisper that I might not be accused.

You asked for my eyes to see the pain of poverty. I closed them, for I did not want to see.

You asked for my life, that You might work through me. I gave a small part, that I might not get too involved.

Lord, forgive my calculated efforts to serve You – only when it is convenient for me to do so, only in those places where it is safe to do so and only with those who make it easy to do so.

Father, forgive me, renew me, send me out as a usable instrument, that I might take seriously the meaning of Your cross. Amen

If you prayed that prayer with a sincere heart, I must remind you as we were reminded in the service.

You are forgiven.

Don’t waste the following moments regretting how you have fallen short.

Receive the forgiveness of our Grace-filled God and leave your guilt and shame at the Cross of Christ.

Pick up YOUR cross…and follow hard after Him.

He is worthy <3

Of sheep and shepherds <3

Good morning to you on a foggy Friday

This week in Sunday School we will be looking at the concept of Jesus as the Shepherd of our souls. 

I love that phrase. 

Shepherd, Overseer, Guardian.

For a girl with a rebel heart by nature, I find no chaffing constrictions in those names for Jesus. 

The connotations of all of those words ooze protection from harm, safe grazing, abundant provision. 

I find comfort in knowing I will not wander so far that I am out of His sight, His reach, His care and His love. 

Sometimes people within and outside the walls of the Church have confused Jesus with the flesh and blood men and women who serve vocationally or voluntarily in ministry roles. 

Those shepherds should represent Christ well, but they are human and prone to sin themselves and so they disappoint, fail and in the worst case betray the flock. 

Wounds are incurred and sometimes hurt sheep who need the tender care of Jesus vow to never get hurt again by His church. 

What a perfect setup for the enemy of our souls to step in and use that line that has been working since Genesis 3…Did God really say…?

But let me tell you today if you have been wounded by a human representative of the Church of Jesus Christ what God really says about leaders who have abused their authority and about His care for you, little lamb.

“Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves! Shouldn’t the shepherds feed their flock? 

You eat the fat, wear the wool, and butcher the fattened animals, but you do not tend the flock. 

You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. 

Instead, you have ruled over them with violence and cruelty. 

They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. 

My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them. …. 

Look, I am against the shepherds

I will demand my flock from them and prevent them from shepherding the flock. 

The shepherds will no longer feed themselves, for I will rescue my flock from their mouths so that they will not  be food for them…

See, I myself will search for my flock and look for them. As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for my flock. 

I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered…

I will tend them in good pasture, and their grazing place will be on Israel’s lofty mountains. 

I will tend my flock and let them lie down. 

This is the declaration of the Lord God. 

I will seek the lost. 

I will bring back the strays. 

I will bandage the injured. 

I will strengthen the weak.

I will shepherd them with justice.” 

from Ezekiel 34


God has a word for the flock as well, we are not to push and shove one another. 

We are not to muddy up the pond for others who need a drink of living water. 

We are not to be greedy in the pasture and we are to be gentle with the weaker ones and careful to encourage the strays. 

And God finishes the passage by declaring He will install a Shepherd over us from the line of David. 

One who will seek, guide, provide, and yes…

carry me on His shoulders when I am so broken I can no longer keep up with the flock…or so rebellious there is no other way to prevent me from full on destruction by my own hand. 

Yes…this is my Good Shepherd. 

The radaph love of God that pursues us is the tending love that watches over us. 

How blessed we are <3

Even when ….. <3

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Our hearts are heavy on this Monday morning for a sweet local business that suffered loss from a fire in the wee morning hours. 

I guess you could call it a coffee shop, but it was so much more. 

A sanctuary.

Literally. 

A haven of peace where friends gathered to chat, Bibles were studied, thoughts were journaled and hand crafted cups of warmth and love were gently delivered to your table by the servant hands of Christ. 

And while it was unapologetically a place of worship amongst the Christian community, it was also always a welcome place for anyone. 

The inclusive love of Christ was tangible in every cup, strain of music, act of creativity and kind word delivered by the owners. 

The Facebook post by the owner this morning declared that God is good and Sovereign. 

Even in the hard places.

Even in the stuff of this world that we simply cannot understand. 

And the Body hurts with this family today in the loss of their labor of love that is The River.

And our prayers surround them as they sort through the ashes and our love wraps them tight as they wait for God’s next step for them. 

And our hope is for the something more, something better, something beyond what they could have asked for or imagined. 

Oh that we would all declare at the end of each day, no matter how it went down….that God is good and He is faithful. 

He is Sovereign and He is Lord over all. 

Even over that which we do not understand <3

Of Pioneers and such <3

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Happy Friday!

I am getting a late start on this!

And I have used two exclamation marks which would indicate I am all full of enthusiasm, but actually I am not. 

It’s a gloomy day here on the prairie and even on my best days, I am not exactly prone to exclamation marks so there’s that disclaimer.

As I was getting ready for the day and planning what I would write, my phone went off with a text reminder that I had a chiropractor appointment before work so all of my efforts went into that effort instead of heading in to send you your weekly note. 

We have been following the sermon series in our Sunday morning class and last Sunday we talked about Jesus being the author, perfecter and pioneer of our faith. 

I was familiar with the author and perfecter names, but somehow I must have filed any reference to the title “pioneer” into that corner of my brain where I store things I need more time and less distractions to process. 

As I dragged it out into the open to prepare for teaching the lesson, I realized that the word pioneer stirs up for me, images of explorers heading out west on a wagon train and I struggled with how that worked with Jesus and my faith. 

But a quick visit to my second favorite book, Webster’s Dictionary, opened up my eyes to the reason translators would select this word in Hebrews 12:2.

I discovered it comes from the origins of a foot soldier and references one who engineers construction; one who goes before others and settles a new place. 

Yes, this is a fitting and most welcome description of Jesus for me.

He has fought the ground war for me and won.

He has and continues to engineer the work in progress that is me.

He has gone before me and He is preparing a place for me. 

And for you 

And for all who would choose to receive Him. 

Have a blessed day

You are loved <3