Backpacks for City Spring School

The start of a new school year reminds us that the best way to secure a better future for Baltimore City is for us to make certain our children receive a good education. And one way we can help in that effort, right now, is to equip the students with the tools they need to succeed.

We are asking for your help in supplying the students of City Springs Elementary/Middle School with the tools they need to make the most of the coming school year. City Springs is among the poorest schools in the city, with 98% of its students coming from low income households. Your generous donation of needed school supplies will be a solid investment in their future.

Our church has acquired backpacks for each of the school’s 775 students. Now we must fill them with the supplies needed to get these fine young people off to the best start when their academic year begins Tuesday, August 28th. Yes, as part of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, City Springs School will open a week earlier than other City public schools, and we must make certain these children are prepared.

I have asked members of our church to volunteer on this project, and assist me in gathering the needed notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, folders and more from retailers and other businesses throughout our community, all of whom share a vested interest in our children’s success. 

Haven City Church is an established 501c-3 organization and will provide contributors with proper documentation of any tax-deductible contribution. Linked here is a list of the supplies we need most at this time

There are three ways that you can contribute: 

  1. Purchase via an Amazon Wishlist and ship to the Compassion Center
  2. Buy the stuff locally and drop it off at the Compassion Center
  3. Donate finances so that we can purchase the supplies

All of us at Haven City Church, and at City Springs Elementary/Middle School, thank you most sincerely for joining our effort to make this the best school year yet for the highly valuable young people of Baltimore City, and City Springs School.

"I'm scared to follow Jesus"

You aren't the only one. Even some of those who watched Jesus perform amazing miracles just couldn't commit their life to him. They couldn't let go of their life in exchange for what God had for them. 

Luke 9:61-62 gives us one of these stories "Still another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.' Jesus replied, 'No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'

Jesus wants a 100%, total commitment to him. 

This past Sunday I gave our congregation five great reasons Jesus is worth our total commitment. It is my hope that these reasons will remove the excuses you may have used to resist God's call on your life. 

  1. It is Rational
    If Jesus created the world and knows the end from the beginning it makes sense to follow him. He knows more then we do and he does things well. 
     
  2. It is Safe
    If Jesus died for on a cross so that we could be rescued from damnation then he must have a good plan for us. 
     
  3. It Reveals Triumph
    If Jesus defeated Satan on the cross and overcame the curse of sin then the battle has already been won. As we follow Jesus we are walking out the work He already finished. 
     
  4. It is Wholistic
    If Jesus is the creator of all things  then we will discover greater and greater unity and relatedness between the diverse pieces of our life. He puts the pieces together as a unified whole. (This is in contrast to the priorities of the world and their competing interests.)
     
  5. It is Glorious 
    If God sent his Son into the World with a plan that would ultimately bring him glory, our obedience to Jesus brings about a glorious end.

Now I understand that there are a whole lot of presuppositions in those statements. But if you have studied Luke up to chapter 9:56 you know that there is a basis for believing the premises that are stated above. You obviously have to be convinced on your own. 

I think when these five things are considered it becomes clear that a person who doesn't follow Jesus could have the inverse of the five: irrationality, danger, risk of loss, fragmentation and dullness. (I didn't mean for that to sound insulting, but logically those are the inverse realities.)

Jim Elliot so famously said "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

I pray that you would be convinced of God's reliability and that you would trust him with your life... everything that is going on... all your junk and the relationships and the brokenness. And that you would grab ahold of him wholeheartedly. 

 

Baltimore Flooding... In Ellicott City

We have received a lot of concerned messages about the flooding in Ellicott City. We are grateful that so many people care about our safey. The devastating flood that took place was actually a repeat of a flash flood that happened in 2016. Unfortunately, the design of the city and surrounding development has made this type of flooding more probable. 

As in 2016, there is not a lot that can be done in terms of relief. A majority of the damage is to local businesses on Main St. The whole area is shut down as the structures are examined and debris is removed.

I'm sure there will be a rebuilding process and those businesses would appreciate your patronage. If you haven't been to Main St. Ellicott City then you are missing out. It is a great old town on the East Coast. 

Again, thanks for caring about us from afar. And don't forget to pray for Baltimore. While the devastation of this flood is spectacular to look at, please remember our our city is being decimated by homicide, poverty, corrupt government, drugs and injustice. These issues represent the loss of thousands of lives. And as a church we are committed to a transformational work over a long period of time. 

Food Drive for the Homeless

Hey Neighbors, 

This Sunday we will be collecting canned items for the Compassion Center food pantry. If you have items you wish to donate you can bring them to 710 S. Ann St. between 9:30 - 11:30 AM. 

The current items that are needed include: 

  • proteins - tuna, chicken, beef
  • pasta sauce
  • canned beans
  • greens - beans, spinach, 
  • canned corn

There is also a need for pasta and noodles. 

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The Compassion Center feeds between 10-15 individuals (many who are homeless) in Southeast Baltimore on a weekly basis. Individuals are given clothing and a 30 lb bag of food on Wednesday mornings at 10 AM. The Center’s address is 1706 Eastern Ave, but this is not the location for drop-offs this Sunday. The food program is open to anyone in need in the immediate area and has been in operation for the past 50 years.

Thanks in advance for everything that will be contributed. 

If you have any questions just leave a comment below and we will try to follow up. 

Missions Team Trip from MS Recap

This past week Pine Grove Baptist Church was with us for a missions trip. Pastor Cody Warren brought six individuals up from Mississippi to pray for the city and serving local residents. Four of the team members were high school students on their Spring Break.  

The team arrived on Monday night and shared a excellent Italian dinner in Little Italy

Tuesday morning we headed out for a prayer walk through Southeast Baltimore. You can view the walking rout here. 

Here the team is praying for City Spring Elementary and Perkins Housing Project.

On Tuesday afternoon we headed up to Douglass Homes to help the service coordinator pass out paperwork to parents. The housing project is installing a new playground and they had an upcoming event for kids and parents to give input on the design. We knocked on doors and passed out the paperwork.  

Wednesday morning the team spent the day in the Compassion Center cleaning, organizing and processing donations. They also assisted with the chapel service in the morning. 

 Here are some of the guys processing donated items in the Compassion Center

Here are some of the guys processing donated items in the Compassion Center

Thursday morning we did our Bus Stop Outreach. This is where we hand out free coffee at the bus stop and look to have gospel conversations with people as they walk by. After about an hour the crowd thinned out and we decided to move the free coffee four blocks North to the local drug rehab block. There are always large groups of people standing on the street. It can look like an intimidating crowd but once in a conversation you quickly realize that these guys are broken and trying to kick their addiction. 

We are very grateful to have Pine Grove Baptist Church's partnership. Their team was awesome. 

Join us for Easter in Fells Point, Baltimore

This Sunday our church will celebrate Easter. It is the historic celebration of Christ rising from the dead after dying on the cross and being in the grave for three days. We hope you can join with us in this celebration. 

Church will start at 10 AM at our 710 South Ann St. location (Old St. Stans Church). There is some parking available off the side of the building and when the lot fills up there is plenty of street parking on Ann or Thames St. 

You can RSVP and invite your friends through the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/762733247249018/

 

Palm Sunday Church Launch

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and it is the official launch of a weekly Sunday morning services.

For the past 12 months a baby church has been forming in Southeast Baltimore. We started in a row house living room, moved to the Compassion Center off Eastern Ave. and are now starting Sunday morning services in the Sanctuary Body building in Fells Point. 

Here is a quick video about this launch. 

We are thrilled with all that God has done over the past year. And it is going to be a lot of fun to be a spiritual community in Fells Point. 

If you haven't attended one of our services yet, now is a great time to come on out. There are a lot of new people just starting to attend and we are big enough that you won't feel singled out in a small group. Our children's program is established and there are a number of ways that you can serve with if you are looking for opportunites. 

God Wants To Change The Normal Baltimore

This past week we studied Luke 5:1-26. In these verses we see God break into the normal pain and suffering that people were experiencing and do something miraculous. And I believe God wants to repeat this pattern in our life and city.

We live with what we believe is normal. We surrender to normalcy.  Some of us talk about how much we appreciate routines. But let me suggest to you that normal is like a baseline or backdrop in which God works supernaturally. 

In all three accounts from Luke 5 we see God’s supernatural power breaking in to normal life. 

Here’s the thing!

What we call normal is actually a world fallen from God’s original design. 

Are you settling for normal? 

Are you okay with brokenness, sickness, dysfunction? 

Have you surrendered your expectations to what has become normal and routine? 

Or are you fostering and cultivating and vision for the supernatural intervention of God’s work? 

This is the difference between kids and adults. Most adults have had the optimism kicked out of them by painful experiences. But kids dream and hope.

We read God’s Word and the Spirit breathes into our life a vision for something better. We have story after story where God breaks through normal and makes himself known. 

Romans 10:17
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

I’m not talking about blind optimism or faith in faith. We are not talking about dream and dream. I’m not asking for you to come up with your own good ideas. 

I’m asking you to let scripture influence your perspective on life. I believe that that will result in a hopefulness, optimism, and vision for more. 

By way of illustration consider a scene from Frederick Douglass life. He writes: 

"Very soon after I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld, she very kindly commenced to teach me the A, B, C. After I had learned this, she assisted me in learning to spell words of three or four letters. Just at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her, among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read. To use his own words, further, he said, "If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master — to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now," said he, "if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy." These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty — to wit, the white man's power to enslave the black man."

The slave master wanted slavery to be Douglass’ “normal”. But then Douglass learned to read and it awakened in him a vision for freedom. 

You say “Normal life is so painful and discouraging. Scripture has all these nice stories about people being rescued from calamity, but that doesn’t change my struggles.” 

And that is where prayer fits in. Prayer is the middle ground between the vision God gives us for life and the present reality. I’m not saying that all your problems will go away. But the answer you need, the supply that you need will be given to you by God. 

We looked at these three accounts where Jesus worked miraculously. 

There is a voice in your head that wants to mute these stories and censor these stories from encouraging you to trust in God for miraculous intervention. 

Let me encourage you to let down your guard and allow the Holy Spirit to encourage your heart. 

Coat Drive For City Spring Elementary

Our neighborhood Elementary and Middle School is in need of 150 winter coats. This afternoon I sat down with Mr. Collick and did a Facebook Live video about the specific need. Please check it out and share it with your friends: 

If you have a coat that you would like to donate you can drop it off in the Compassion Center off Eastern Ave (1706 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, MD 21231). If you would like to contribute financially you can do so here: http://www.baltimorechurch.com/give

When the Cat is Away...

When the cat is away the mice come out to play... 

In Philippians 2:12 Paul encourages the church to obey whether he is present or absent. And we spent a good chunk of time on Sunday night considering the ramifications of presence. The perception of absence has typically lead to the devolution of man's integrity. But in truth, God is now present in our lives and we are called to live according to that reality. 

Also, we are called to be imitators of God who go into the world with his presence. Jesus is our example of being incarnate... becoming present in other's world. 

I've been reading a book by Michael Frost called Incarnate. He starts his book by saying: 

"The core idea of the Christian faith is the incarnation: God took on flesh and dwelled among us. To other religions such and idea is considered odd or, worse, inconceivable or, even worse, blasphemous. And yet as centrally as we hold the idea of the incarnation, there is a grave danger that we are leaving the implications of the great idea behind us. Whereas Jesus Christ was God incarnate and his church was called to an incarnation lifestyle, today we find ourselves drifting towards excitation--the defleshing of our faith. We have been moving through a disembodying process that has left us feeling rootless and disengaged, connected to our world more and more through screens rather then face to face."

So consider this... Are you living with an awareness of God's presence and are you in turn being his presence in the lives of the people around you? 

I'm praying that you and and I can answer "yes" to both of those questions.