On Sunday, our scripture was from Matthew 16 where Jesus is talking about discipleship. He says, “If any wan to become my followers, let them DENY THEMSELVES, take up their cross and follow me.” Christianity is countercultural because of its challenge to “deny self.” We know that our culture is self-centered. You deserve this! You deserve that! Look at me! Look at what I bought! Look out for number one! But that’s not Christianity - which is why it is difficult. There is a difference between taking care of yourself and being self-centered. Self-care is healthy. Narcissism and self-centeredness is not. It always makes me proud when I see Woodmont members making an intentional decision to “deny self” in order to serve others. Consider these recent situations.
Polly Keith’s sister, Cathy Reynolds, found herself in a very difficult spot. Her kidneys were failing and she needed a transplant. She was added to a list of potential donor recipients. All family members tested to see if they might be a match. Polly was a match and immediately, she knew what she wanted to do. On Monday, August 28th at Duke Medical Center, Polly donated a kidney to her sister. This was one of the most loving and sacrificial acts that a family member can do, but if you know Polly like I do, then you are not surprised. Both Polly and Cathy are now doing well!
When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, it caused a devastating amount of damage and flooding. Thousands of homes have been ruined. Thousands of people have been displaced. When Susan Batson and Steve and Deb Laforge (pictured right) saw the devastation, they quickly made their way to Texas. For the last two weeks, they have been working tirelessly through Hope Force International. to help people get their lives back on track. They didn’t wait around, but they simply made the decisions to go, serve, and bring hope.
Tom Woodard and Steve Smith received a large donation of medical supplies from HCA. Their plan was to pack 1500 backpacks that would go to help first response workers in both Texas and Florida. With the help of some Woodmont members, the supplies were loaded into the backpacks last Thursday and Friday and are now on their way to these devastated regions.
Ian Navarro is a Houston native and a member of Woodmont. He has been involved in our church for many years and has been very active with the Nashville Food Project. He wanted to do something to help the families of his home town so he has now planned an event called “Tacos for Texas” that will take place at the Martin’s BBQ downtown on Tuesday night, September 26th. Some incredible chefs and song writers will be present.
John “Jojo” Hermann is a Woodmont member and is the keyboardist for the well-known band WideSpread Panic. When he is not touring and playing around the country, he enjoys using his gifts to serve this community. Once again, this past Friday night, he played another fundraiser at the Green Hills Corner Pub benefitting the ongoing work of the Nashville Food Project to provide healthy food and education to the Nashville community. A famous musician, playing in this neighborhood, to benefit a great cause.
Jade Forlidas is a Woodmont elder. Last year, she became aware of a growing number of refugees in our community called the Coptic Christians who have been displaced from their homeland due to war and violence. Many of these folks have very little and need direction and help. With the help of Roy’s Wednesday morning men’s group and people like John Carpenter, the Coptic Christian ministry at Woodmont is now growing and is serving this very vulnerable community.
This list could go on and on but I think you see my point. Denying self and serving others is what it means to answer the call of Christ. It’s also a well needed formula for our hurting world. Never stop serving! Never stop loving!