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Racism: Anti Mission // Micah

God is opposed to racism, in part, because He is against anything that stands in the way of mission. Though rarely talked about, of all the reasons why people shy away from sharing the good news, racism is one of the ugliest and longest running.

To hate another for their ethnicity is to declare ugly the beautiful diversity God insists He will have in His person for eternity. Revelation 7:9 tells us, “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, ‘Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!’” When a race thinks so much of itself that it feels superior to the “created of another shade” it effectively disfigures the picture God is painting. Racism dulls the multi-hued mural heaven is piecing together. If God intends a mixed multitude to enhance the beauty of His eternal choirs in paradise, then Sundays should provide a window into glory.

Racism is not only ugly, it is age-old. While it is a trending topic today, it has long been a hindrance to mission. Thousands of years ago, one of the greatest missionaries was constantly abused on this point. Paul’s synagogue mates could tolerate much of his message but Acts 22:21-22 reminds us that their religion veiled their racism and it would not stand mission. “But the Lord said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'” The crowd listened until Paul said that word. Then they all began to shout, “Away with such a fellow! He isn't fit to live!”

The simple truth is that those who despise other races are less concerned about God’s heart for “all nations”. Hate always hinders efforts to provide all with the good granted by the gospel. Let it not be so among us. May we rise above the ugliness of the times and let the love of God guide us into a life for people and on mission.

- Micah McElveen

Light Break Through // Micah

Night time was the worst. Laying awake in ICU, I vividly remember desiring death. I could not feel my toes yet my body was consumed by intense pain. I could not still my mind as it chased the fears of permanent paralysis. A dark fog brought on by chronic pain, the rigors of 6 hrs a day rehab, and lost dreams descended over my view to the point I lost sight of light all together. As a bleak outlook filled my heart, my soul, waxed thin like butter sparingly spread over brittle bread. In the belly of that valley I was so pressed down that it seemed there was no ability or reason to get up. On October 9th, 1996 I broke more than my neck, my spirit all but shattered and hopes hues faded.

Hope is a powerful force and when the light of its rays fade from sight we lose a substance core to life itself. It is in those times more than ever we desperately need to awaken to the truth, that even when grossly obscured, light will never be overcome by darkness. We need to believe that even if we can barely find a ray, it is there. And if kindled, the flicker will become a flame that will drive the darkness away.

More and more these days we are told the tale that darkness is superior, inevitably pervasive, and that indeed in the end it will prevail. But the Creator Of Light, the true light of the World Himself promises that light will remain and will ultimately overcome every shadow of darkness. When faced with darkness we are not called to manufacture light but instead to uncover it. Upon finding the light we are invited to run to it, to walk in it and expose others to its radiance.

If you told me then, what I know now, that one day I would look back and say, “I am thankful for that fateful day and the valleys that chased it,” I would have called you crazy. But I, for one, can testify to the power of a Light Break Through.

Psalm 18:28 “You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.”

Psalm 36:9 “For you [Lord] are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.”

John 1:4-5 “The Word [Jesus] gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."

- Micah McElveen

Gardening for the Soul // Audrey

I love the fruit of the garden. 

The physical "fruit", healthy & delicious, sitting before us at the dinner table. But more importantly, the spiritual "fruit", birthed during the time of hands in the dirt, eyes opened wide, and a soul becoming deeply nourished. 

After spending weeks on the road, we came home to a garden needing much tending. In this Alabama climate, lets just say, a lot took place. 

First, we harvested what we could. Much of the fruit, not being picked in time, rotted on the vine. Then, with fall fast approaching, we pulled up all the plants to prepare the garden for a season of rest. 

Once that was completed, we pulled all the weeds which had taken over & choked out much of the plants' nutrients. Some of the weeds were extremely difficult to pull, because the roots had grown so deep. (And yes, you must pull all the weeds by their roots or they will just grow back with vengeance.) This took hours and hours of work, which is what happens when you don't keep the garden daily maintained. 

Before spreading the ground cover, we had to till the soil. This was hard work because the ground had grown hard over time, but in order for the seed to take root, we had to break up the soil. Lastly, we spread the rye seed over the nicely tilled soil. 

As the winter rye grows, nutrients will return back to the soil this fall season. We won't be planting any vegetables or expecting any fruit this fall, it is time for the ground to rest. The benefit will be very rewarding as winter will turn to spring and the soil will be rich and ready to bear much greater fruit.

Isn't all this true for the gardening of our soul? If I spend weeks not in the Word, or in prayer, or in worship etc., my soul becomes in dire need of being tended to. 

The weeds of life start choking out my passion & desires to serve the Lord. I begin to spiritually starve. The fruit that isn't put to use for what it was created for, rots & withers. Sin takes root and if not kept in check, the roots will just keep growing deeper. The longer sin stays in my life the harder it will be to root out. (And yes, sin must be pulled out by the root...or it will just keep coming back with vengeance.)

How painful yet fruitful for our lives when our hearts become tilled. Turning over that soil deep within that may have grown hard or resistant over time. But then! Our sweet Savior comes in spreading seed that will take root and allow our souls to find rest & nourishment. Abiding in order to bear fruit. 

I'm thankful for the many lessons my Father never ceases to teach me. I want to keep my hands humbly in the soil where I can be continuously fed. Call me simple, I guess, but may we never stop "gardening the soul".

- Audrey McElveen