Leanne’s Sermon/Recap of NOLA9

This is the sermon Leanne preached at her church on May 3rd, 2015, right after we got back from NOLA9.  I left it as true to what she wrote as possible-  editing very little.  –  Anything in italics I put in for explanation.  

I hope everyone noticed in the Key about the amount of money you raised for River bend at the pancake breakfast and by donating week to week in the jar. $905. We are truly grateful for your gifts.  (This was a fundraiser done at Newport United Methodist Church in Newport,,MN)  

Riverbend Mission team was started in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Several Methodist churches in the West Saint Paul area sent a team to the gulf for disaster relief. They, we, have continued to serve – Biloxi, New Orleans, Minot, Crisfield MD.

Riverbend has just renamed itself as a non-profit called Be The Tool. So when you hear me talk about Be the Tool, it is essentially the same as Riverbend. At the beginning of the week we were given flashlights – with screwdrivers. “Trust in the Lord”. We were told to shine God’s light into the world and pass it unto the lord. To Be God’s Tool.

Our team ranged in ages from 21 to mid 70’s. We were matched with three job sites.

  1. Randy and Michelle: They both have medical issues; Randy has COPD and Michelle has several hernias. Their house was damaged in Katrina and then again in Isaac (2012). Half of the house was fixed up. A plywood wall was installed to cut off the fixed part from the unfixed part. No repairs were made to the house behind the plywood until our team arrived. They removed old moldy sheetrock and insulation; installed new insulation, new sheetrock, taped and mudded. The house is ready for texture and paint.  Our 21 year old, Dhoods, is a mechanic and brought his tools. Randy and Michelle couldn’t access medical appointments because their car wouldn’t start. “Be the Tool” donated the parts, and Dhoods donated his time – and the car now runs.

  1. Patricia and Willie: 2 trees fell on their house in Isaac. The house currently has only stud walls inside. The team was installing siding and fascia.  The house was very un-square. I helped finish this site on Friday morning.

  1. Lucia: The team I was on. In New Orleans – still being fixed from Katrina – 10 years.  She had an older son with severe autism, and 2 other children from her husband’s previous marriage. She also had two babies (grandchildren) when the Katrina hit. They thought they were evacuating for the weekend, but it became a 3-4 week journey through unspeakable fear. She spoke of being scammed, the National Guard keeping order with guns, gangs, bodies, sleeping in shifts to keep safe. She asked that we pray for New Orleans – most people lost their minds in Katrina and don’t have them back yet.
Lucia is currently raising her adult son with autism and 6 grandchildren as her own: two 11 year olds, a 7, a 5, a 3, and a 2 year old. The three year old has Down’s; the two year old is in the “No” stage. The older children leave just after 6 in the morning on the bus for school. They get home after 5:30. 1 ½ hour bus rides both ways.  They came downstairs and sang 2 gospel songs for us – it reminded me of “Sound of Music” – they stood like stair steps. It was quite beautiful. They were delightful and well behaved.

Lucia has a great sense of humor and is very close to God. She spoke of brown crunchy grass after the water receded and the amazingness of huge watermelons and sunflowers growing in the mud in the gutters.  She doesn’t know where the seeds came from, but they grew. She called it: God’s beauty amid the chaos.

She called us her “Miracle Squad”. I looked up miracle: an unlikely but beneficial event, often attributed to divine intervention. I also looked up Miracle Squad – which consists of angels that God uses to ensure events happen as planned.  We were their Miracle squad on Wednesday when the upstairs faucet broke.

We have devotions in the mornings and again in the evenings. I took notes all week during our devotion times. The following is a compilation of what we focused on, what was important to the presenter. The ideas aren’t necessarily in the order they were given. I tried to divide them into themes.

I.  I start with the parable of the Great Banquet from Luke 14. The master of the house was throwing a banquet, but the invited guests decided not to come. He sent his servants to bring the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. The servant did what he was told, but there was still more room. The master sent the servant to find more, make them come in, so that my house will be full.

The message is: There’s room at the table. Invite those who can’t repay you. Don’t be satisfied until the house is full, until the table is full.

In my father’s house there are many, many rooms.
If I go prepare a house for you, I will come back again.
That where I am, there you may also be
Up where the truth, the truth will set you free
In the world you will have trouble, but I leave you my peace
That were I am, there you may also be.

II.  A Super God  
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 (Upper Room)
1 Corinthians 12:27-31
12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.
12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
12:30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
12:31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

We all have superpowers: Our skin can heal when it’s been cut; broken bones can mend; we can see color and movement, hear sounds, taste food, smell roses, and recall happy memories.
More importantly, we have the superpowers of patience, tolerance, understanding, empathy, and love.
God has given us an astounding array of skills, functions, and abilities — which all too often we take for granted. Just like those superheroes in the comics, we can put God’s superpowers to great use with those around us every day, whether by offering physical or financial assistance, being willing to listen, or by telling someone about the God who offers these gifts to all.

III.  (some quotes):
Love God and love the peoples.
God works through the peoples.
Aim your attitude toward God.
Don’t put God in a box.
We are family and this is home.
The lord will take care of me.
God says, “I’m here – don’t give up. I gotcha.”

Lord I lift Your name on high
Lord I love to sing Your praises
I’m so glad You’re in my life
I’m so glad You came to save us

IV. (My devotion) (Leanne’s)

Mark 4:26-27   He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
Mark 4:31-32   It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.
I spoke on the Acorn Theory (from “The Soul’s Code” James Hillman) and gave everyone a hand- carved acorn.

Our calling in life is inborn and it is our mission in life to realize its direction.
Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path. You may remember this “something” as a signal moment in childhood when an urge out of nowhere, a fascination, or a peculiar turn of events struck like a proclamation:
This is what I must do; this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.

Acorn Theory = the idea that our lives are formed by a particular image, just as the oak’s destiny is contained in the acorn.

This theory states that all people already hold the potential for the unique possibilities inside themselves, much as an acorn holds the pattern for an oak tree. A unique, individual energy of the soul is contained within each human being, displayed throughout their lifetime and shown in their calling and life’s work when it is fully actualized.

I challenged everyone to find his or her “inner acorn”.  What is inside of you that you need to share?

V.  (more quotes):
What are we doing?
Every life matters.
Look for the need nearby.
Don’t pass on the chance to serve.
We are ambassadors.
Live as a citizen of heaven.
We make a difference when we walk into a room.
Help because it seems like the right thing to do.

And from our 21 year old: Match your behavior to what you preach. Is what you “preach” just for show? Are you here just to brag about it? Do what your heart says. What is your real intention?

“Fly Like An Eagle” – Steve Miller Band
Feed the babies
Who don’t have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin’ in the street
VI. Parable of the 10 servants (Luke 19:11-27)
26 “ ‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.’”
Take what you have and invest it.

Love one another and work together.
Teamwork and communication
Have the courage to keep going.
Be true to your convictions (Dead men, in fact, do bleed) (Long story-  one told by Pastor Rod in his devotion)
Say thank you
Be more affirming
Be more encouraging
Share when you appreciate someone
Sometimes life forces us to wait. Impatience can cause us to miss blessings or opportunities.

VII. Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Learn humility
Be more humble, less prideful
Offer humble service
Take help when it’s offered
Matthew 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Parable of the workers in the vineyard)

VIII.  There’s a park shelter on top of a levee in the lower 9th Ward. We have devotions there on Friday afternoon. You can stand on the levee and see the level of the river and the lower level of the 9th Ward. You can imagine how it filled with 9 feet of water in 4 minutes when the levee broke during Hurricane Katrina. You can pray for all the lives lost.

IX.  A story was told about a presenter that was speaking and put a fish bowl in the center of a table. She scooped in the bowl and placed a fish on the table and continued speaking as the fish flopped. Eventually one person put the fish back in the bowl. “Somebody had to do that.” It’s like sharing your faith – without that action – the fish (faith) will die.

X.  Kirkwood UMC – Lego block
Sunday’s message was about ACTION! We talk about generosity from the heart. How committed are we to take action and practice generosity? Generosity from the heart, given to God, is an experience that brings us closer to God. It pleases God and brings us into partnership with God. This partnership is a loving relationship that moves us to act and transform God’s world into the kingdom of God.

I was on a short-term mission trip.
But, Life is a long-term mission trip – it doesn’t end today.
We are the “someone else” (as in: someone else will do it)
If you don’t do it, who will?
In “Be the Tool” – “be” is an action word. We need to act today.

Posted on a sign in the Kirkwood UMC lobby:
To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.

What if Jesus had said, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

So, how is God calling you to act? What is your mission?

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