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Selfless Love in Action

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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!

Blessings,

-Clay

Posted by Clay Stauffer with 0 Comments

Being Spiritually Present in Turbulent Times

We are living in turbulent times.  Of course, that has been said many times throughout history but the current political scene and the incredibly fast pace of our culture has brought with it uncharted waters like we have never seen. 

Watching the news at night is not so much informative as it is stressful.  People are worked up, on edge, fearful, and do not know what will happen next.  Health care is being debated and it's easy to forget that there are real lives at stake.  It's not just political theatre. The biggest challenge in the midst of all this is what it does for those of us seeking to maintain a sense of spiritual centeredness in an age of growing fear and anxiety. 

Henri Nouwen was a world-renown spiritual guide and counselor.  His writings have served as a spiritual anchor for many, myself included.  Nouwen says this about the spiritual life: "the spiritual life is not a life before, after, or beyond our every day existence.  No, the spiritual life can only be real when it is lived in the midst of pains and joys of the here and now." 

All human beings, whether we admit it or not, hunger for the spirit.  We are spiritual beings.  We long for something deeper and more meaningful.  We long for connection, not only with each other but also with God.  But the great irony is that we are too busy, too preoccupied, too restless, too fearful, and too anxious for this to actually happen.  We worry ourselves to death over things that may or may not take place.  We are busy with many things but all too often, it's the wrong things.  Loneliness has become a defining challenge of our time.  Why?  Because we are too busy and remain unconnected.  The culture is shallow and superficial.  We ask others how they are doing and don't even wait for a response. 

Nouwen says, "out of all this pervading loneliness many cry, 'Is there anyone who really cares?  Is there anyone who can take away my inner sense of isolation?  Is there anyone with whom I can feel at home?'"  These are great questions and ones that we all ask.  But we long for answers.  Nouwen says, "one way to express the spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address but can't be found there." 

In western culture, we are not very good at being present.  Distracted?  Yes!  Preoccupied?  Yes!  Driven?  Yes!  Worried?  Yes!  But present?  Not so much.  We believe that happiness and fulfillment will come at some future time but for many it never arrives.  This is our spiritual crisis and one that must be identified and taken seriously.  Social media is not cutting it, and may actually be a big part of the problem.  Presence is the challenge.  Living in the moment, which is the only moment we have, is essential.  Jesus said, "Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?"  No, we can't.  But we can certainly lose an hour, a day, a year, or even a lifetime.

Posted by Clay Stauffer with 0 Comments

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