loving on the neighborhood

In response to our Generosity Challenge, one of our house communities prayed and asked God what to do. And He began showing Mayra images of kids in the neighborhood that she used to live in. And how many of these kids have few positive influences and basically nothing to do the entire summer.

So the group began doing free bi-weekly BBQ’s in June – food, crafts and games for the kids and just hanging out with whomever wants to come out. It has been an incredible experience and we’re looking forward to how God will continue to lead us. A few highlights:

  • Indian, Asian, Latino kids all playing cricket together.
  • Meeting an African refugee family in the neighborhood.
  • Praying for people who need prayer.
  • Magic shows for the kids.
  • Over 200 hotdogs BBQ’d.
  • Hearing about the struggles of the neighborhood.
  • Listening to people’s stories and meeting people from over 8 different countries.

We’ve been doing every other Thursday and will be transitioning to weekends. We’ll be going again this Thursday [8/5], but contact us at info@ihaven.org for what day we’ll transition to. Come on out and share a dog, play some cricket and just be Jesus to a neighborhood.

This week:

August 5th – THURSDAY – 6:00-8:30p [come anytime]
Meeting in front of 2299 Pasetta Drive, Santa Clara

Some more photos HERE and HERE courtesy of Luis.

DOJO Session #3b: Loving Others

Our recent DOJO was spread over 2 months and was led by Rachel and Dave King. The goal of this DOJO is to practice living out Jesus’ simple command to love our neighbor as ourselves. Here are the notes from the sessions led by Rachel and Dave.

What is Love – the biblical definition

-Patient
-Kind
-Drives out perfect fear
-Protects
-Trusts
-Hopes
-Perseveres
-Rejoices in truth

What is NOT Love

-Rude
– Self Seeking
– Easily Angered
– Keeps records of wrongs
– Delight in evil
– Fails
– False

John 15:12-13 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

God’s example of love: Jesus dies on the cross for our sins. Did he require anything back from us?

1 John 4:17-19

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

THE APPLICATION

How do we actively apply these attributes of love?

We will break into groups of 2-3 and select out certain locations for people to have a list of tasks that they can choose to do 1 or all. The group can decide before heading out. Pray together for 3 minutes in your group when you arrive at location. Listen for God. He may even require you to do something off the list which is even better! They are just starting points. However, while the goal is to always make disciples and love, this isnt’ meant to be a bait and hook type of activity  to get people to sit and listen

We will break into groups of 3-4 and select out certain locations for people to have a list of tasks that they can choose to do 1 or all. The group can decide before heading out.

Pray together for 3 minutes in your group when you arrive at location. Listen for God. He may even require you to do something off the list which is even better! They are just starting points. However, while the goal is to always make disciples and love, this isn’t’ meant to be a bait and hook type of activity to get people to sit and listen :)

1.) Love Beyond Money

- Treat a stranger to coffee or quick lunch at Panera or McDonalds. If the opportunity arises, explain that money shouldn’t be more important that loving a brother/sister. Your needs are already met by God.

– If it’s a hot day, one group can grab a big cooler loaded with cold water and just pass it out.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

2.) Love the Youth

Inspired by Jaeson’s 365 days of love project. Kids love balloons and it’s a simple way of spreading love to a lot more kids because balloons aren’t too expensive and they make anyone happy. Also note that he doesn’t just give it to them, he talks about Jesus with them and teaches them to share.

Mark 10:13-16: And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

3.) Spread Love

This could be used with the balloon version as well. Hand out flowers to people this is why it’s better to do it in small groups but also give them 2 and encourage them to give the other one to someone else out of an continue the act of spreading love. It’s like that one commercial where you see one person do something nice for someone else and someone else sees it and does the same thing–it turns into a chain reaction. Sometimes, it can also help replace an unwanted emotion, such as anger.

4.) Love your neighbor

Loving your neighbor could literally mean your neighbor but also indicative to its own definition, those close to you. There is some nice blank stationery provided by Tiny Prints that everyone can take (1-2 cards) and write to someone that God brings to mind. It can be an encouragement, a note to say hello, or an offering to help. You’d be surprised at the impact a written note can make. If you want accountability to write it, let us know. I will make sure you send it.

Matthew 22:37-39: Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

>>>>

FOLLOW UP STORY:

The 2nd part of our LOVE DOJO was more practice time and there were some very encouraging stories from our forays into the city. We talked to people that couldn’t believe that we would actually give away things with no strings attached. There were many who were skeptical of what we were doing, but eventually gave way to the fact that they were being loved and that was that.

We learned a lot on these mini-practice sessions. A few things we realized:

  • Loving your neighbor isn’t rocket science.
  • Genuine love is rare in our culture… but rarer in places where people have a lot.
  • People always expect you to try to sell them something.
  • The biggest obstacle is often ourselves.
  • A good enough reason to love is because Jesus loved us.

Another story from our love practice sessions here.

Poems

This week in our Tuesday house group, we reflected on Isaiah 49 and 50 by contemplating on it, and then proceeding to write a poem. Writing poetry helps us think, articulate, and conjure our reflections in a way that is free, creative, and expressive.

What you see here is our thoughts, put on paper, expressed through words, deeply personal and uninhibited. For that reason, we chose to make each one anonymous. They are, in essence, meditations of the heart.

Sometimes, I wake up with regret to start my day
sometimes, I start and pray for a hopeful day
asking God to help me go through the motions.

I think alone
about what is to come
or analyze what went wrong.
Could I have said something more
so they could’ve known how I felt?
I bottle it up inside and
it lingers.
I know how I feel, but do they?
If you could only understand
how I want to be reached out to.

Saved, loved, accepted.
The Lord has forsaken me.
I’ll not forget you!

In pain and torment I cried out
and in the silence, came the dreadful doubt
to my dismay, I saw myself waste away
the consequence of a payment I couldn’t pay

And yet like a mother you came to me
broke the chains and set me free
to run and conquer and bring the light
the love of God that sets everything right.

There are happy times.
Times of being loved, of comfort
of being secure and being protected.
Times of belonging.

I can do anything, be anybody
I have infinite amounts of enthusiasm and
optimism.
Times of promise.

There are sad times.
Times of trouble, of despair,
of being hurt and being
abandoned.
Times of confusion.

I fail miserably, shout out loud!
I despise my circumstance and
lose faith, mostly in myself.
Times of darkness.

After every dusk, there is dawn.
It happens every time
without fail.
Flowers spring from the ground
at the first sign of winter’s deadlock easing.
It is for sure.
Happy and sad, time moves forward
and I am heading into morning.

I wonder how a mother or father cannot love
the child they bear?
I wonder why a child feels like he
does not have a purpose?

Do they not realize he is a miracle?
Does he not realize purpose was given
to him before he was born?

Though a mother and father may forget,
God will not forget those hebrought
into this world.

To you who are hopeless,
put your hope in the Lord and He
will not disappoint.
Do not wallow in your darkness and
wonder where God is. God is light.
And while you cannot control where the light
comes from, you can control how
much light comes in.

Let it in, then you
will find purpose.

Ravaged, ruined, rejected
Damaged, distraught, dejected
Battered, bruised, bereft of comfort

A pillow, a blanket, a warm embrace
Here, there is none in the dark, this lonely one
Pain, He becomes; His frame, overrun; His life to be unspun

No pillow, no blanket, no warm embrace in this empty, lonesome space
To look death in the face, and overcome
In quiet strength and grace
Deep within a trace

Of flint
Ready
To make sparks

I work hard and gain nothing from the earth,
The Lord is my reward, He shows me what is of worth,
Being a blessing to other Christians is noble indeed,
But God calls us to bless non-believers and plant the seed,
Has your mother forgotten you? Have you forgotten her?
God will never forget you for his love always endures,
If anyone messes with you they mess with the Lord,
And no one wants to mess with the Lord,
Do not think God is too weak for He will show you his strength,
Walk in the dark and do not fear,
Trust in God, He is always near.

Dojo Session #3: Loving Others

Challenges for the month [explanations below]:

  • LISTEN – Show love by listening [and asking good questions]. Give your opinion ONLY when asked.
  • ENCOURAGE – Write at least 3 notes of encouragement to to 3 different people. 
  • WELCOME – Find 3 ways to welcome a stranger. 

Overview:

1. SURRENDER – For many of us, what’s holding us back from really experiencing God is a simple need to surrender. Surrendering has the connotation of “losing” – and in fact it is. It’s saying to God, “Your way is better than mine.” And sometimes we don’t see this until we’ve reach our “end”. If we’re wise, we won’t wait until then. The first thing that we surrender to [and rediscover over and over again] is that He really does love us. It’s no hoax. Check out the passage about the father and his young son in Luke 15:1-24. 

>> Additional challenge as you read this: would you pray right now… “Father, your way is better than mine.”?

2. LOVE OTHERS – The natural outflow of God’s love for us is a love for those around us [John 13:34-35]. Love always moves outward… doesn’t control, let’s go so it can give life to others. The Bible is loaded with verses that direct us to love one another. And each one gives a glimpse of what Jesus first did for us on the Cross. We focused in on 3 that are a lost art in our world of attention deficit and immediate/self gratification.

>> LISTEN

Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ [NIV].

There are many ways to carry each other’s burdens. But one way that crosses all cultural and gender boundaries is listening. We don’t know how to listen. In conversation, we wait for the moment we can get our own opinion across. We give trite solutions to complex problems – and we think we’re doing them a favor. But most of the time, we just need a listening ear. It’s an expression that we’re willing to sit with someone in their pain, without judging… it’s putting their needs above our own. It’s a huge way for us to bear one another’s burdens. It’s a glimpse of Jesus bearing our burdens on the Cross as well. 

CHALLENGE – Listen! In your regular conversations commit to NOT giving your opinion unless asked. Instead listening intently, reflect responses and ask good questions.

>> ENCOURAGE

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind [MES].

You ever have someone give you a compliment? For something you did or said? It felt good didn’t it? You felt alive, huh? One of the reasons it felt good was that we were recognized for the good that God has built in us. Someone recognized a small portion of our potential. We live in a world that is waiting to point out our faults, to highlight the areas we fall short. Let’s take advantage of the power of encouragement… and do what Jesus first did for us… give life and give it abundantly.

CHALLENGEWrite out 3 notes of encouragement to 3 different people. Point out things people do well, their heart, character… things that others may not notice. 

>> WELCOME

1 Peter 4:9 – Show hospitality to one another without grumbling [ESV].

The word hospitality has the connotation of “welcoming a stranger,” helping them feel like family. It’s not just heating up some bagel dogs for your buds while they’re watching the game. For those with homes, you can open a room to someone in need. For the rest of us who don’t own homes, how can we welcome someone and help them feel like family? How about:

Buying the new guy at work lunch?
Or a cup of coffee?
Giving someone a ride to work?
Including someone new into your weekly poker game?
Bringing over a pie to a new neighbor?

Be creative… you know how. It’s bringing someone from the outside into the safety of your own world. It’s sharing what you have and helping this Silicon Valley be a little less lonely. Yes, it’s a risk on your part… but Jesus did it for you… bringing you into his world, welcoming you when you didn’t deserve it. We can do the same for others. 

CHALLENGEFind 3 ways to welcome 3 different people; people you may not know as well, people on the margins, people that could use a gesture of welcome and embrace.

We will talk through all these the next time we meet… I’ve already been hearing good stories from people. Continue to just do what Jesus has done for you. Blessings to you this month as we go out and listen, encourage and welcome. Share your stories in the comments.