“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Apostle Paul – Romans 7:15
Have you ever stood by and watched someone stoned to death? Hardly something that happens these days.
The Apostle Paul tried to destroy the Christian Church (Galatians 1:13) and even though he never says that he himself killed a Christian, I believe there was quite a bit of violence surrounding his life before Christ.
During our Self Evaluation time at The Shepherd’s House, Jim answers questions from other residents of the house; “Has this behavior & thinking been a pattern for you?” someone asks. “Yes,” Jim responds, “I continue to think about and do the things that I hate & know I shouldn't do.”
Learning protection and violence at a very young age
Jim tells me his story...
”I grew up going to church on Sundays while I watched mom, and then dad, become addicted to drugs. Their lives revolved around drugs, violence and prostitution...even though we went to church every Sunday.” “One day in grade school, a kid made fun of my mom calling her a slut and a hooker. All I knew was to protect and fight for what (who) I loved. I have lived a very violent life ever since.”
Jim's first incarceration came at the age of 17 for assault and selling drugs. For the next 20 years he tried to “live right,” knowing much of scripture and actually having professed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ when he was young. BUT, the life of drugs and violence continued to be a pattern for him. Until the age of 38 and coming to The Shepherd's House, he has now been 45 days without drugging and fighting, something he has never experienced before.
I cannot personally relate directly to such a violent lifestyle, but I can relate to “continuing to do what I hate.” Breaking these patterns in our lives is very difficult, but this is where we allow God to work on us through His healing hand and the power of His Holy Spirit and the cleansing blood of His Son Jesus Christ.
For most of us, old patterns continue to show up. How should we respond to these patterns?
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” - Romans 8:1-2
I know Christ died and it is a done deal, but when my old patterns show up, I struggle to do what I know is right.
November has been a blur. A lot has happened, but sometimes I look back and say “what happened to the month.”
At GNI, we have been preparing for GNI Live - “Creating Places of Grace” in February, 2014 http://gnilive.org/. We have also been connecting with other missions through our monthly GNI Webinar Series http://gniwebinars.org/.
At TSH, we have hired, under contract, a new special projects Development Director. Her task will be to continue to raise funds for our kitchen remodel project ($61k received so far of the $110k needed). She will then continue to help raise funds for the Women's and Children's facility we hope to open some time in 2014.
At TSH, we have seen an increase of 30% in donations over last year (both dollar amount and number of donations) excluding the kitchen and other special projects. Over the past 2 years, this has been approximately a 50% increase. It is encouraging that we continue to reach more of the Central Oregon community allowing them to be a part of the work God is doing at The Shepherd's House.
At home, we will be in Central Oregon for both Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrating Thanksgiving with my parents in Bend. For Christmas, the kids are involved in several programs at church and so we will be home for Christmas.
We pray that God blesses you with family, fellowship and fun during the holidays. We also continue to pray for those who have lost friends and relatives to natural disasters this year and those struggling to survive after the horrific storms in the Philippines and other parts of the world.
We thank you for your support and prayers as we continue to walk trusting who God says we are and His provision for our lives.