Then He sternly warned him and sent him away at once, telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But He was out in deserted places, and they would come to Him from everywhere. Mark 1:43-45
Multiple times Jesus would perform a miracle and then tell the recipient not to tell anyone what had happened. Mark shows us one instance of a man being healed and then telling everyone what happened. Result? Jesus couldn't even come to town anymore! All because of one man's testimony of how Christ changed his life.
So what's your story? I often hear people downplay their experience with God. "Oh it's not that impressive" or "Mine isn't like their story" are common excuses. Not good excuses, mind you, just common. Your testimony, your story, is irrefutable evidence of Christ in your life. Your life experiences cannot be argued; you're an eyewitness. The question now is are you willing to take the stand? As disciples of Christ, we can't afford to stay silent as the world around us descends into further chaos. Not when a single testimony can fill the streets with people looking for the Savior.
How has Jesus changed your life? Are you ready to share your story with those around you?
They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives in the face of death. Revelation 12:11
PS: Want to hear where volunteers saw God in serving with Next Step Storm? Click HERE to check out our Youtube channel! Who knows, you might see yourself on there!
Around a year ago Elizabeth and I made a big step in our walk of faith as I came on board with Next Step Storm to serve as volunteer coordinator and content creator for our website and social media outlets. We have been blessed by your faithful prayers and financial gifts over this past year; it continues to amaze us how God always provides for our needs!
We have completed our run of service in Denham Springs, LA! Back in August 2016 over 200,000 homes were flooded in the Baton Rouge area. We were able to partner with an incredible church that immediately welcomed us to use their facilities to house and organize volunteer crews. I had the privilege of working with many homeowners and volunteers to rebuild homes and restore hope to the Denham Springs community. Praise God for sending the right people at the right time to those that needed it most!
We are stationed back in Birmingham working with low income families and individuals to provide safe, sanitary, and secure homes. The need for volunteers continuesas we just had an EF-1 tornado hit nearby Fairfield, AL. Thankfully there was no damage to our facility. However, many homes and businesses sustained roof damage and were without power for several days. Pray for the families affected by this storm.
My position at Next Step Storm is fully funded until September this year thanks to your gifts of financial support over the past year. Elizabeth has been blessed with a position at the Fresh Market to help cover any additional expenses that we encounter. Your ongoing support, through prayer and finances, is a critical component to the ministry. I can't express how thankful I am for your support as we continue to serve in Birmingham and beyond!
Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:16-17
Today I wanted to share with you about our health care. Our family uses Samaritan Ministries and has since we went into full time disaster relief in 2007. We've had several medical related incidents where we've had to present our needs to other members and we've had nothing but positive experiences every time! I'll admit, it was scary at first, mostly overcoming our "gotta have insurance" mindset that the world teaches us. As is often the case, the Lord has a better way; in this case being this ministry based on scripture found in Galatians 2:6 to "bear ye one another's burdens."
After looking at several other share ministries, there are several reasons why we chose Samaritan's. Probably the thing we like the most is that we send our check, or "share", to a different and actual person every month who has a need. The administration is performed by Samaritans but we only send our "share" to them once a year for administration costs. Each month they send you a person to whom you can share and what the condition is so you can pray for them and maybe send a card of encouragement.You see, when the Bible talks about bearing another's burden, it's saying to actually pick up some of the load to relieve them, to walk beside them.
I could go on with other reasons, (feel free to call if you want to hear more first hand) but I'll cut it short and let you research it yourself if you like. You can click on the logo above to go to their website or learn more at My Samaritan Story.
I am sharing this with you because I want Christians to know that there are alternatives to government mandated insurance and government mandated spending of what your insurance money pays for (health problems as a result of sin). All of Samaritans guidelines have been voted on and instituted by the members. And all members are born again Christians, or at least much effort is made by Samaritans to prove such.
With all that said, please note that members (of which I am one) are entitled to a $180 credit for each household that we tell about the ministry that becomes a member. So if you're gonna become a member, please put us down as a referral!
**From the Samaritan Ministries monthly newsletter:
Claim your health insurance exemption on your tax return, not a government exchange.
During the open enrollment periods for the Affordable Care Act, you will see many news stories about the federal health insurance requirement. You may also receive information from tax preparers about tax implications of the "individual mandate". Remember that there is no reason for members of Samaritan Ministries to use the government exchanges. Members of health care sharing ministries are exempt from the federal health care law's requirement to have insurance. You will demonstrate your qualification for this exemption by completing Form 8965, a simple one-page form, when you file your 2015 federal income tax return. Visit samaritanministries.org/tax for the form and instructions.
We've missed a few days because of rain but the project continues to progress. The truss truck was too long to maneuver around in the private area of the reservation so the driver parked on the hotel parking lot and craned them across the fence. We've had quite a time getting materials around as it seems to be quite soft anywhere off of the road.
Christmas day Kim, Sophie and I just hung out in the hotel. I found this really cool (unusual to us) pine cone and Sophie saw a Christmas tree in it so she decorated it and we even found a Christmas light necklace that worked perfect for the lights! Though we're not inclined to spend time in the casino, our routes in and out of the hotel and to the place where we eat go around the machines so we can't help but see the activity. We were a bit shocked by how many folks spent their time gambling on Christmas and Christmas Eve.
This is the treated lumber made for ground contact. I'm not familiar with the treatment process but it must be something like the brown or green stuff that appears to be perforated in, must scare off water. It certainly doesn't penetrate as you can see by the slice.
Also, they use "green" wood for regular framing members. ("Green All the wood we've gotten so far has been spruce which is usually light weight. Light weight in our neck of the woods because our framing lumber is dried to around 19% wood moisture content. When I questioned a friend at the local lumber yard, he said "we have always used green wood for framing in CA". After doing a little Googling, it seems that using "green" wood in CA is typical.
Though I'm not used to some of this stuff, I must say this has been the nicest looking wood I've seen in 30 years of construction.
Hmmmm, we often talk about Romans 12:2....renew your mind!
Slideshow of the week
We have not moved! This CA project is temporary. We are still living and accepting teams in Birmingham, AL. You can schedule your team here.
We've got rain again today so we're holed up in the hotel room. Sophie is teaching Kim her schoolwork and I'm doing this and figuring out some material needs for the home. The trusses are scheduled for Tues afternoon so we're not gonna be ready with the rain forecast for tomorrow also. The truck delivering them was going to set them on the walls but we'll figure out another way now.
Yesterday we went to Middletown Bible Church, one of the churches involved in the relief effort for the Valley Fire. It was good to be with other believers. They asked first time visitors to raise their hands and give a report so we gave them our names and told them we were representing the "Hope City" that was coming to town and working on a house for them. This home is one of the first being built after the fire and seeing it go up will give the residents hope. You can talk all you want but seeing something is being done and rebuilding is actually taking place, well, that shows you're serious. (Hmmmm, Christians are you listening?! Being in the Bible belt back in AL, everybody can talk the talk of Jesus but the silence of the walk is deafening!)
Anyway, we've come full circle in our work with Hope City; that being the first place we worked with volunteers in disaster rebuilding. Kevin Cox with Hope Crisis Response Network (HCRN) is leading the charge out here in setting up a new Hope City. There are again many partners involved, with Team Lake County being the fiscal agent recognized by the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD). This area is where Kevin is originally from so he already has familiarity with the region along with family, friends and contacts. If you want to know more about this Hope City, you can visit their website here. We're glad to be a part of getting this off the ground (pun intended) and wish them well!
If want to see more pics of our trip, visit us at NextStepSTORM Facebook Page
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Photos taken mostly Fri. and Sat....
Map where we're located currently....
We worked for a few hours this morning in drizzling rain and had to quit around noon due to steady rain. We did get the first wall up.
Studs in CA measure 92-1/4"
The lumber is beautiful but extremely wet.
The vehicle we have been provided with for our month here had some issues so Justin took us to a friend he trusts. Turns out the radiator was bad so he fixed it. When we went to pick it up, someone had paid the tab! I'm not sure why I'm so amazed at God's constant and consistent provisions?! God is good!
As I said a couple of days ago, every new community we build in brings changes. This is for our "Something New" department. I'm convinced we're not done with new things so we'll try to report something new when we see it. It may not be new to you but it is to us. I've found myself having to make a choice here- I know enough I can just play along and not ask questions for fear of someone thinking I'm ignorant, OR, I swallow my pride and ask questions and learn new things and in the process open up communication. I've chosen the latter and it has been humbling to ask "what is that?" when I know it's something basic to them, whether it's terminology or a product..... I've also found that most folks don't really care where I'm from or how we do it there. I can relate as I use to not care to chat much with strangers but in my "occupation" change I've had to force myself to be more outward and have found I actually enjoy it now (most of the time). Besides learning new things it gives one the chance to zone in on the spiritual and possibly be a vessel of God's mercy and grace. Vessels come and go, receive and deliver....
Anyway, the above pic is of the headers cut to size for us. Solid spruce 6x8's and 4x12's. We don't get those out east!
Some new help came out today! From left to right - that's Donovan, Justin, Landon, and James. They are all friends of Justin, and Tribal members. It was great getting to know these guys and we are very thankful for the help!
The end of Thursday. I couldn't get a good pic because it was raining again. It's supposed to rain for a few more days. While that's a bummer for the project, the area is in an extreme drought so I'm glad we came and blessed them with rain. Trusses are coming with wall top delivery Tuesday so we gotta have a break to make that date. BUT, I've submitted to the idea that this trip is forming up differently than we expected. Hmmmmm....
Thankfully Justin took some time off of work to help build his home. The 10 man crew we were expecting....well, that has yet to come to fruition. He and I framed in the floor today and in the afternoon our relief came in the form of Courtney, Kim and Sophie. They saved the day as they put down plastic on part of the crawl space that we had already put support beams in, and they carried all the floor joists! We hadn't installed the plastic because we were waiting on fill which came when we were half done.
There's always something going on around us that we don't think about as "news", or something to report. I tend to report on the "project" even though we repeatedly say "it's about the people, not about the project. As I thought about this I pondered how often we miss God working around us as we focus on the task at hand. It's kinda ironic....my pictures would give away my tendencies toward "the project" if I didn't force myself to take some pics of people. I've even caught myself getting irritated when someone pops up unexpectedly in my project pic. (That was many years ago of course) :/
The photo above tells all kinds of those behind the scenes goings-ons. That's Courtney scolding her dog Reggie who just took a dip in the mud hole dug by her step-dad Lenny with his backhoe which he made because I had gotten his hoe stuck the day before (I was able to push myself out with the loader so I didn't get caught) and the concrete truck had gotten stuck also so Lenny dug the muck out and was replacing it with rocky soil that he got from another hole he was digging to bury some brush and tree debris. All that to say "there is more than meets the eye". "Our battle is not against flesh and blood..."
This was taken at the end of of the day.
Participants were Justin, Courtney, Kim, Sophie and Monte.
Pictured to the left is our excuse for coming to CA! That's Justin Lord with Courtney and their baby girl Emelia. They lived in Middletown prior to the Valley Wildfire, evacuated and returned to a pile of charred debris. Justin is a mechanic and all his tools were burnt in the fire. He said it was so hot his aluminum car jack was just a puddle.
Our latest adventure to help build a home for CA wildfire survivors started out with delayed and rearranged flights. We arrived at the Rancheria about 24 hrs after our journey from Birmingham, AL began only to find that the home we're supposed to be framing was just an empty lot; no dirt work, no concrete....
We often say "flexibility is key" so we got to put that "key" in action. Long story short- we met with a concrete contractor the first day (his proposal was accepted) and took the forms off today. In the meantime Monte built a storage shed to unload the packed tool trailer and organized the tool trailer and shed. As you can see in the photo above, we've had to deal with off and on rain. And the COLD! It was 34 degrees here yesterday morning with windchill of 26. Who thinks of cold and CA in the same sentence?!!
We're learning and seeing new things being in a new part of the country- different building codes and materials, culture of people, bureaucracy and big government, high prices, etc. All the people have been friendly but we're definitely not in the Bible belt anymore. Kim's phone has zero service and the wifi here is sporadic. The nearest lumber yard and Walmart are a good 1/2 hr away and Middletown has no franchises. It's kinda remote in that sense with the locals being at the mercy of the small town convenience store or making an hour trip to a bigger city. You folks who have Menard's don't know what you got! I KNOW you're taking them for granted! You are spoiled!
As I processed the supposed "setbacks", the first thing that came to mind was the reason why we do what we do. It's not about building a house but about building a Kingdom! We want to be about our Father's business. Our desire is make him known; to introduce life in Jesus Christ to those with little hope outside of Him. We struggle like many others with how to do that, when and what to speak, when to keep out mouths closed and not "force it".... Please pray for our testimony to make a difference in someone's life here and that we'll be bold. May the Lord grant us opportunities to share Him with those we come in contact with here. May they see a difference in our lives that is appealing. And please ask for protection and guarding of our hearts as we are surrounded with new experiences and culture. As I look over this paragraph I see a bunch of "christianese" but that doesn't change the realness of the desire!