Monday, May 6, 2013

Prepared In Advance

Ephesians 2:10 says this...
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)
... we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (CEB)
He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (The Message)
For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. (The Voice)
I am loving our church's current teaching series which is entitled Who Am I? - Seeing Myself Through God's Eyes

This past Sunday, we were reminded that each of us is infinitely valuable, enough to die for... and how Christ's sacrifice on the cross radically altered the relationship between God and humankind.

{Please pause the playlist on this blog's sidebar as you watch this highlight from Sunday's teaching.}

As God's masterpiece, His handiwork and His image-bearer, we have a place and a purpose... and that is, we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He's already prepared in advance for us to do!
Salvation is the process through which we internalize God’s love for us so that we, in turn, can externalize that love to others. ~ D. Jacobsen & R. Sawatsky, Gracious Christianity.
I love the fact that He's already prepared these good works in advance for us to do. What good works might He be calling you and me to accomplish today?

Could it be to sponsor a needy child, in Jesus' name?
Could it be to volunteer at an inner-city ministry, in Jesus' name?
Could it be to welcome and befriend refugees, in Jesus' name?
Could it be to help trafficked women, in Jesus' name?
Could it be to support crisis pregnancy centres, in Jesus' name?

I absolutely *love* my role as Compassion Coordinator at my church. I love being able to connect people with opportunities to do good works. It absolutely warms my heart to see light bulbs go on resulting in people jumping into doing compassion {when it's not just an idea anymore but actually something tangible and practical that they can do}... making a difference through simply serving marginalized people in the communities around us!

I also absolutely *love* that our church is smack right in the middle of the 13 priority neighbourhoods identified by the City of Toronto. As it stands, we are currently serving in at least 3 of these neighbourhoods. The lack of services facing these priority neighbourhoods is a major barrier to opportunity for many people particularly newcomers and youth.

Click here to learn more about each Priority Neighbourhood.

Yet, the priority neighbourhoods in Toronto weren't always these ones. This is where I marvel about the phrase in Ephesians 2:10 that says "which God prepared in advance for us to do."

As recently as 10 years ago, the identified priority neighbourhoods were mostly concentrated in the downtown core. Yet as you can see in the map, these neighbourhoods are now situated away from the downtown core, panning out into the "suburbs".

As the revitalization of the downtown core occurred, marginalized people were driven out of the core and moved into these new priority neighbourhoods... and now our church is surrounded. I added a red star in the map indicating where our church is situated.

Isn't this amazing? 
When our church started meeting in this location, in movie theatres in a shopping mall called Yorkdale, 10 years ago, there were only a handful of priority neighbourhoods around us. In fact, Yorkdale is a large upscale mall with over 250 stores, including many luxury retailers. But, look at the map now!

I believe that God chose this location for us to be all those years ago, so that we can plant down deep roots and be prepared to serve these priority neighbourhoods today. I marvel at this thought... at how infinitely important it is for us to always follow God where He leads, and not follow our own heart's desires!

As I continue to count grace-gifts, with unending thanks... to The One who calls us to join Him in the work He does... these are the things I am thankful for this week... #2920 - #2928:
:: Summer-like spring weather, lots of sunshine! ♥
:: A new month!
:: Hanging out with our church family at a community dinner for inner-city kids, a lovely evening BBQing outdoors!
:: Purging and spring-cleaning and donating everything to MCC Thrift Shops as part of our church's rePURPOSE campaign
Our van packed to the brim!
Our second car was the same too!
:: Great meeting with my fellow Compassion Coordinators.
:: Our church family donating generously to the rePURPOSE campaign!
The truck from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) starting to fill up!
This was just the first few minutes after the truck arrived.
:: A day spent with my boy and his Robotics team at a region-wide event.
:: Sandwiches for dinner.
:: People from our Home Church!
Hello brand-new week!
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:6-8.
Choosing to live a surrendered life... because Christ's love compels me... and giving thanks for everything that my good God so freely bestows, so lavishly gives and so extravagantly showers!

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Compassion is a command, an act of worship, a song of thanks to Him.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God!

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