More than Blessed

April 2023

In 2014 we were preparing to move to the North Texas area. My wife, Jamie, had secured a job with a medical provider and we were in need of a new home. Having found a couple prospects I drove down from Colorado to take a look. After having viewed the properties, I went to Braums in Cedar Hill for lunch.

While there, I met a small group, 6-8, teenage girls all wearing matching shirts with paint all over them. Curious about who they were and what they were doing, they told me about their Pastor, his love for local missions, and that they were working on peoples homes that weekend. I ate my lunch, finished my visits in town and headed back to Englewood, Colorado.

Our Church in Englewood had picked up the mantle of serving those living on the margins in our community. The homeless, addicts, families that were living in local “low” cost motels . . . these are those to whom God had lead us to minister to. What would I do in Texas? Where would I serve? To whom would I serve? So I searched for like minded ministries. Unlike Colorado, there were tons of them, everywhere, doing everything. I even found the parent ministry of a foodbank network we had in Englewood. But I found a different one . . . one that seemed to stand out a bit.

Your guessed it. I came across Mission Cedar Hill. What caught my eyes was that it was listed on the City of Cedar Hill’s website as a Partner with schools, Churches, and businesses helping homeowners that needed a hand. All of a sudden, that small group of teenage girls popped back into my head, that’s who they were. My interest was peaked.

So just a few months later when we moved to Cedar Hill Texas, we made our way to High Pointe Baptist Church, the local Church that started and drove the Mission Cedar Hill ministry. That June I volunteered and worked on a crew with a handful of teenage boys. We tore down playground sets, mowed yards, and painted houses. I was caught, hook, line, and sinker. I returned the next June and led another crew of young men cleaning yards, repairing homes, and so much more.

The next year, I was asked by Pastor Toby Snowden to come and work for Mission Cedar Hill as its first hired employee ever, and I was ready to do it. God had provided my new Mission field, my new ministry, and I could not have been more at home. So since 2017, I have had the honor to lead hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, not just in June, but in every month of the year in going and being the hands and feet of Jesus, taking care to our community. I am More than Blessed!

This month, April 2023, is my last month with Mission Cedar Hill. I am retiring and moving out of state, back to Arizona, my birthplace and next Mission field. In these past 7 years I have seen not just thousands of people stepout of their comfort zones and volunteer to help complete strangers that they learned were their Divinely directed neighbors, but hundreds of Homeowners, many that had lost all hope that they would ever be able to fix their fence, mow their yard, replace their siding, and had sunk into depression and defeat.

But then God . . . sent a small group of volunteers, led by a schoolteacher, an accountant, even a rocket scientist. These small groups have trusted God with their summer vacations, weekends, resources, and time. They invited their friends, brought their Sunday School classes and schoolmates. They learned how to use new tools, work as a team, and complete task they never dreamed they would do. Group after group have gone out and taken the love of Jesus, demonstrated through rakes, paintbrushes and time. They have sweated, bled, prayed and laughed with hundreds of homeowners, learning invaluable lessons of love, compassion, sacrifice, and reward. In all of this, I, the volunteers, and the homeowners have all found that we are all More Than Blessed.

The Time is NOW, the Who is US.

Read Jeremiah 2:11-18

11 “I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. 13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the JackalWell and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.”

It was nighttime when Nehemiah set out to tour the city and see the damage done. The destruction was devastating, too much in places even for his horse to navigate. Walls knock down, gates burned, it was a sign of more than the physical destruction of a city, but the broken spirit of a people.

We have all seen pictures of cities all over our nation damaged and destroyed by the fear, pain, and anger of our past. It is easy to hear the cries for justice, reform, and those that want to assign blame and guilt both for the damage and for the cause. But what we need is a Nehemiah. What we need is a Leader that sees what needs to be done, has the ability to bring people together to undertake the task, and God given ability to see it through to completion.

It seems way too easy to become overwhelmed by the need. Decades, generations had passed since the exile and destruction of the city. Many had never seen the city before its ruin and it would have been easy to point a finger, assign blame, and dodge any responsibility in rebuilding it. Nehemiah simply stated, “You see the trouble we are in” (Nehemiah 2:17). He reported that the city was in ruins, and the protecting city wall had been rendered useless.

Many parts of our cities lie in ruin. Structures where people once lived, worked, provided for their families and played are now destroyed. But beyond that many more lives, the hearts and hopes of tens of thousands of people are badly broken and in need of restoration. It doesn’t amaze me really that our God can find ways to rebuild both, and even at the same time. He is ready, willing, and wanting to unite us in a single purpose. Not just to rebuild a community, but rebuild His community, where people from all over find common ground, purpose and calling. Where we set aside differences that don’t matter to accomplish a task, to build a community that does.

We need a leader that after having sat in the seat of reflection, repentance, and readiness will stand up and proclaim the goodness of the Lord, and to call out His people to come to work, plan, and strive together so our communities are rebuilt from the inside out. And I pray that we too would be energized to take on the task unselfishly when we hear “about the gracious hand of my God . . .” May we also immediately respond, “Let us start rebuilding” (v. 18).

With faith in God and not in ourselves, or our party, or an agenda, but in God alone, unified in an all-out effort may we step through the doors of this opportunity a new nation of every people, race, creed and language. May we together, unified by God’s call in our lives take on this seemingly impossible task and rebuild not just the buildings in our community, but the lives of those living in them, around them, and just like them all across this great nation.  

As you look at your world, your circumstance, your situation, you may see things that you believe God wants to make different, remove, rebuild, make new. You may have been seeing them for a long time, or they may be brand new. But as the call for change, the call for something new comes to your heart don’t back down. When hecklers and doomsayers talk against what we have set our hearts on, hear the call of the Lord. “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Neh 4:14).  

But to do this, to do this right, to complete the task that lies before us we must make ready. Showing up will not be enough. We too must take the time to sit with the Lord to seek anything in our heart, minds or plans that will not line up with His plan for us, our community, and our nation. We must as individuals hear the voice of God as He speaks correction into our hearts first. Our hands and our hearts must be empty of personal sin and agendas. There is no room or place for that in the Kingdom work.

As Nehemiah and his community did we need to seek the will and the way of Almighty God, not to ask Him to bless our plans to but join Him in His (2:4-5). Then we need to look long and hard at the issues and the best way to restore them. It doesn’t make any sense to rebuild a broken system with walls that keep people out, excluded, but we should strive to rebuild with purpose, systems that restore, reunite and serve all that live in and around them (vv.11-15). And we should never lose sight that it is God Himself that has not only made us aware of our plight, but has unified us in this fight. For if we ever do, we will once again be a divided people, us and them, and will again find ourselves destroyed in heart and mind, living without the protection and provision the Father has for us all (v.18).

The damage, the destruction has been building up for decades, generations. The waste lies before us, undeniable in its effect on us as a people on both sides of the wall. But this is not the place or time to point out the faults and causes of others, but the time to unite for the will of the Lord, and time to restore, rebuild, a better tomorrow, a better nation. It is the time for us to Listen, Learn, and Lend a hand. Let’s get busy!

(The lesson I heard this morning, June 15, 2020 from the Daily Bread.)

New Normal

A New Normal . . . is a term that we have been hearing a lot lately. The problem is, that everyday everything is new, and nothing is normal. One thing that remains the same is that people need one another. There are senior citizens, those living with a disability and other with catastrophic events in their lives that cannot look after the maintanance, let alone repair of their own homes. The everyday actions and interactions of people may have been halted, but the deterioration and disrepair of our most vulnerable neighbors has not.

That is why this year’s Mission Cedar Hill’s Big Week is even more important than the years in the past. With all that is happening, the last thing our Aunt, or grandparents, or brother needs is to worry about their fence that blew down in the storm, or the tree limb that now nearly hangs all the way down to the sidewalk. We can help. In these few, three days, June 4 – 6th, 2020, we can make a lasting difference in many of our neighbors lives.

Our City has done a fantastic job reaching out to our senior citizens. And while we check on them, we are becomig aware of an increasing amount of help needed in their lives on their property. But becoming aware of it is the easy part. Doing something about it is the important part. We need volunteers. We need LOTS of volunteers. And with this years issues and recomendations, we cannot make last mintute asignments and adjustments like we have in the past years. We need to asign every volunteer to a specific job site and Captian days in advance to ensure their safety and the safety of our neighbors.

So we ask you . . . Please, go to our website and sign-up to volunteer for this years Mission Cedar Hill’s Big Event, Thursday – Saturday, June 4 – 6th, 2020. The work begins at 7:30 AM, lunch is provided, and ends at 4:30 PM each day. You will be contacted after you register to volunteer on the “Join Mission Cedar Hill” page. You will be asigned to a Job Captian and address along with all of the latest information required for a safe, productive day of service.

Tell you friends, and HURRY, please. Due to all of the extra steps for organization and safety, registration closes Friday, May 29th. But you still have time! Sign up, call your friends, and spread the joy of serving others. There is nothing like it on the planet. God bless you for your generousity with your time, talents, and resources.

Spring into Action

It seems like this has been a wet winter. And as I listen to the weather man, we are right, It has been. While cold damp days may make working outside difficult, it is not impossible. And it may even be necessary. Carpenters, roofers, plumbers, and the long list of construction workers and civil servants work outside in the elements everyday, whether it is sunny, or raining. It may not be their first choice, but they do what they need to do.

We’d like to look at another “need to do”. That of the homeowner whose fence has blown down due to the saturated soil, or the high winds we have had lately. Unfortunately their need may not be able to wait until June for our Big Week. But your small group could meet this immediate need with just a Big Day spent on the home and life of a neighbor. While Spring officially starts on March 19, 2020 we are already seeing our seasonal bulbs and flowers Springing up out the soil displaying their beautiful flowers and colors.

Maybe you would like to get a head start on some Spring cleaning or Spring Planting. We already have a healthy list of Home owners and non Profits that are in need of help to not only get their properties ready for Spring, but back into code compliance. We already have a healthy list of home owners whose fences have blown down and are in need of repair, or replacement. We have a growing list of homeowners whose siding has deteriorated to the point that paint will not cover its condition any longer. It needs to be replaced and repainted for their home to be restored.

But please, hear this; Beyond the fences and siding are Moms and Dads, Grandmothers and Grandpas. They are homeowners living with disabilities and catastrophic events that are keeping them from being able to take care of these needs. But there is Good News in all of this. Their inability to meet these needs give YOU the Ability to Spring into Action and do it for them, with them.  We can guarantee you one of the most satisfying days you have had in a LOOONNNGGG time. What do you say? Give us a call. Give them a hand.

Mission Cedar Hill  (214) 884-8378 Spring into Action!

And then . . .

One of the phrases we hear a lot around a Mission Cedar Hill event is “And then . . . “. We hear this phrase as much from volunteers as from Homeowners, from Homeowners as much as from volunteers. But it is said with equal excitement and enthusiasm regardless of who is saying it.

“And then . . . when we got to the house we met the homeowner. She was such a nice lady, and so appreciative that we were there. She let us pray for her and her home, she even prayed with us. We didn’t waste any time. We got right at it. The work wasn’t all that hard, but at the end of the day when we stood back and looked at the finished project, I saw chest puff out, and eyes tear up. Someone said, ‘Look at that, we did that’. ” MCH Volunteer

“And then . . . when I opened the door I was greeted by the nicest group of people. They had taken a day out of their busy schedules to come help me with my house. They fixed my fence, cut back my shrubs and hauled away the trash. I couldn’t believe the difference they were able to make in my life in a single day. I am so thankful to God, and to Mission Cedar Hill for all their help!” MCH Homeowner

There is no shortage of things to do this time of year. And while the list of things to do is long, we want to remind you that so is the list of needs. While we reflect on what we are Thankful for, and look forward to what we may give, or receive, we would like to ask you to consider the needs of others, needs they cannot meet, not with another job, another day, or pulling their boots up. The only way many of our homeowners will be able to meet their need is when you and I show up and meet it with them.

What do you say? Are you ready to be a real part of a real solution? Are you ready to make a real difference in a real persons life? Are you willing to take one day and touch the heart and life of another person? Give us a call, we can place you with another group, or set up a Big Day for you and your group, your family, or just you. YOU can make a difference.

Merry Christmas!