All posts in “Colorado Springs, CO”

Hunger

I recently attended a local Christian community event with a bunch of artsy people. We sat around and wrote music together, prayed, talked about church and things we looked forward to in a life with God. It was a refreshing experience. Kumbaya.

One of the main speakers talked about hunger (of which has been wrecking me ever since). He used the example of having a child who wasn’t hungry- we all agree that would be worrisome. If this was the case, you would take your child to the doctor. Obviously, something would need to be done, as it is natural to desire food. Yet somehow our spiritual lives seem to skip over that worry, at least mine does. If I’m not hungry for God, that’s a problem and I believe I need to go to the Doctor.

Let’s steer away from the thought that it’s bad to be hungry. Why? I’ve enjoyed a Chipotle burrito the most when I’m “starved”. I can’t get water in my face quick enough when I’m thirsty from a long hike or day of bike riding.

I want to challenge you to pray for hunger. Perhaps you’re hungry for God already and that’s not a problem for you. Great- but pray for our communities to become hungry for God as well. Pray that the church would desire God in a way that we feel we would die without Him, that we can’t get enough. Pray that He would place in us the spiritual desire for nourishment. Rid us of ourselves so that there is room for You, God.

Pray over Next Step and all that Jesus’ hand touches through us. For homeowners, organizations, and churches to love the broken, unbelievers, people who are homeless, people with addiction, and those with mental health challenges. Pray that the fruits of the Spirit would rule within the hearts of our communities, hopes, finances, the list goes on. May the light pour out of those who are hungry for the Kingdom.

 

My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times.

Psalm 119:20

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

Psalm 73:25

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:2

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.

Psalm 143:6

God Answers Knee Mail

“14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”     1 John 5:14 – 15

 

I once saw a sign in front of a church that read, “God answers knee mail”. I couldn’t help but laugh at how awful and cheesy that sounded ringing in my mind. A while has passed since that moment and you know what? I still remember that sign. But more importantly, I remember the thought it brought me to.

I also recall a time that a friend of mine once said, “be careful what you pray for”. That may sound kind of silly at first – but my friend truly believes that God is listening, and not only that but He has the courage to do something about it.

Well, God did and is doing just that with Colorado Springs and Next Step’s collaboration. In 2017 at the start of the Colorado Springs site, I sent one of my weekly prayer requests to the Next Step office asking for prayer to God in starting partnerships that were a “gold mine”- that they would be so good that only God could have orchestrated it, that the work would be long term, way too much to do, and great relationships would begin to impact the community around them.

It may not have been right away that we saw Him answer, but now we’re seeing partnerships form that are impactful in ways overflowing to everyone involved. It’s hard to contain the excitement as we begin to plan what looks to be a long-term focused plan, a ‘gold mine’ so to speak.

I know this is pretty vague about what He is actually doing, but what I am getting at is that God is going to show up when you pray big prayers. Come boldly to the throne and see what happens. Lay it all out there. Tell Him how you feel. Have the audacity to ask something that only a heavenly kingdom could do. I dare you.

Super Powers?

2018 is here. Woohoo! I’ve never participated in a New Year’s resolution but I think I get it – we’ve turned over a new leaf, leaving the old behind and with this fresh start it’s easier to comprehend a life-changing habit. As if we’ve gained a super power at the strike of midnight. Okay, calm down. For me rather, it’s a time for my wife and I to reflect on 2017 and bid farewell, while looking forward to the future about what is exciting. We discuss and dream goals and speculate what may be.

But seriously, what’s going to be super about this next year? It may be too early to say but there are some pretty cool things happening out here in Colorado Springs with Next Step Ministries. We’ve hired on a buddy of mine named Denys who has become our Construction Coordinator. Denys and I have spent time skiing, mountain biking, and camping together while growing up in Colorado Springs – all to say we love this state and our community we get to be a part of. So it’s pretty cool to see God bring relationships together to work for His Kingdom. Our goal is to get projects set up early on so it’s even more smooth sailing once the summer hits.

We’ve began a partnership with High Plains Helping Hands (HPHH). They are a food pantry residing on the eastern edge of the Springs – Kansas on one side, the city with Pikes Peak on the other. But they’re not your average food pantry. They currently have two 3,000 sq ft aquaponic structures growing healthy sustainable food for the community. Each aquaponic system is able to employ 2 individuals part-time as they help maintain and grow food. HPHH also desires to build 5-7 more structures for growing food with the help of Next Step. This will employ more people, teach them how to cultivate resources, and give healthy food back to the community. They also desire to turn an extra building into classrooms to teach the community what and how to do what they are already doing, at home. Wow!

We continue with long term partnerships like Family Life Services, Crossfire Ministries, and other outdoor restoration-focused organizations. It is fantastic to see God’s hand in all of this and bringing it all together. Looking back after just 1 summer, I think we are in a great spot for the future and our work alongside this community. Thank you for your prayers! It’s working. Like a super power.

 

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

 

What Season Are You In?

A word from homeowner Gloria Loggins:

Time doesn’t stand still, does it? How often do we hear these words? Where did the time go? Just a few months ago – in fact it was summer. I clearly remember that beautiful summer day, June 19, 2017. This was my first encounter with the “Next Step” ministry crew. I had already met Travis when he introduced me to the program.

Early that June 19th morning, eleven people arrived at my home to start working on some of the projects that Travis and I had discussed. Four men, six students and a Next Step staff member. They were welcomed into my home. They were not strangers to me at all. They were polite, kind, friendly, and eager to start working with me. I had never experienced anything like this. They truly represented Jesus Christ!

In four days they did an unbelievable amount of work at my home. They painted, sanded hardwood floors, repaired bathrooms and any other things that they could accomplish in the time that was left of their four days. There was not a “lime or lemon” in the group. They not only respected me, they respected each other as well. The fellowship we shared at lunch time was rewarding. We had scripture readings and the group as well as myself participated in this time. We learned so much and also enjoyed getting to know each other.

It is amazing how and who God chooses to put His creations together. All we need to do is be obedient to His will. We are Servants; His hands and His feet. Summer is gone, the Tennessee group has gone home, but their spirits and what they have done here remain in my heart and my home.

The season has changed – we notice the changing of the leaves, the cooler weather. God is everywhere and in everything. As long as we desire to live our lives as God wants us to, all of us can follow the examples of Next Step Ministries who expresses Christ first hand with its loving, caring, and giving spirit.

There is much work for all of us to do. We are here to serve, to give of ourselves – to bless the orphans, the widows, and give to the poor. Never let us not forget to pray for the less fortunate and this world.

 

Signed,

Gloria Loggins

Thin Places

Growing up in the Springs, it’s easy to see Downtown as the center of the city. Perhaps not geographically, but I’ve seen it be the heartbeat of this 450,000 or more populated and 6,000 ft elevated town. If anyone ever visits or stays at my home, the first place we go is the Downtown area. I truly believe that it is the best depiction of both the thriving and broken in the Colorado Springs area.  

Next Step Colorado Springs stays at First United Methodist Church during our mission trips. And yes, FUMC is in the center of the city, in the heart of Downtown. I cannot begin to explain how spot on it is partnering with this church in the best area we could have asked for.

I recently attended a Wednesday night youth gathering at FUMC and was pleasantly surprised. On this particular night, the youth were the ones leading the service. We all sat circled around the altar while students shared scripture, prayed, played music, and together shared what was on God’s heart for us that night. Each of us were anointed with oil, lit incense and then sang a song to the Lord.

I’ve heard about places or even times that are thin. ‘Thin’ meaning that heaven and earth are so close that it reveals a sacred and holy presence. Within this church, at the center of the city, in the heart of Downtown – thin places are coming about. I’ve experienced His love first hand in that place. A love that’s not about talking but about doing, getting out there and serving, loving, and praying for the community. Thank you FUMC for allowing us to come into the thin places with you, I pray each of us are ever changed by His presence.

 

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
   who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
   and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
   and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 57:15

Oasis

The above picture is myself sitting with Patricia. This is a deck that Next Step helped build in the back of her home that she has lived in for many years in an older part of the Colorado Springs city. Not only did we build the deck, among other construction projects, we also were able to paint her house a wonderful purple. It’s her favorite color. She calls it her “pearl” and even says it has greatly improved her attitude around her home. Her neighbors say the purple is perhaps too bold – Patricia just says they don’t have the backbone to sport the color. Wimps.

Believe it or not, the first time I met with Patricia I was completely unable to access her back deck from the house. The process to get there included exiting out the front door, down the steps, around the fence, unlocking the clumsy gate, stepping over the rubble, to find a piled mess of… well just about anything you can think of. The deck was buried to say the least. Adding into consideration the fact that Patricia is physically unable to walk down steps – I quickly realized that Patricia hadn’t seen her backyard in years. Wow.

This summer Next Step was able to create a way for Patricia to safely get to her deck through the backdoor. She sits here everyday now, for the majority of the day – weather permitting. She talks of the birds, “Oh the birds! They sing to me”. They’ve replaced her television. She says the fresh air makes her happy. Oasis.

Quality of living hasn’t been like this for Patricia in years. Not everything is perfect, but everything is just right. It’s the small changes that do big things and volunteers at Next Step, in some way, were able to be a part of Patricia’s new love for deck sitting. She even talks of having a party in her new backyard to celebrate the purple house. I’m sure we’ll be dancing with the birds.

 

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.                

Psalm 18:19

 

 

 

Direction

With anything new, there’s always big questions and a desire for direction. Being Next Step’s first summer partnering in Colorado Springs the anticipation of how and what our first summer would look like stressed no less of a concern. Because at Next Step we desire to further the vision of our community partners, the sky was the limit and the possibilities were endless in terms of our involvement this summer.

Now that our first summer has passed, I think of 3 ideas of how direction is cultivated:

  1. What past experiences are shaping the future?
  2. Where does direction come from?
  3. How is God communicating His guidance?

First off, past experiences are shaping the future. Plain and simple, boring and practical – we learned that pulling permits for Colorado commercial buildings/organizations are much more time consuming and complicated than pulling a permit for a homeowner. This has naturally pushed the effort towards homeowners. You could say one way is too hard and let’s just go the easy route. Call me lazy. But could God use permits to change the focus for people we partner with in the community? Heaven yeah He can!

Secondly, where does direction come from? God and the community. We are called to be fervent listeners. Realize that when we listen to one another, it shows that we care and desire to be in relationship with that person. For example; I’m married. If I never listened to my wife, do you think I’m going to have a good relationship with her? Of course not. So in the same way we listen to God (perhaps our prayers should be with our mouths closed the majority of the time) and listen to the community; their needs and desires should shape our mission. 

Save the best for last, how is God communicating His guidance? People. All through scripture we see God using sheep, I mean… people. How baffling that he entrusts us to carry the weight of His glory. Quite literally we see this in the story of the arc of the covenant. People were carrying Him/it on their shoulders as they traveled so God’s presence could be with them from place to place.  (Deuteronomy 15:15) All this to say, people have meaning and importance. One thing that sticks out to me was how relational and constructive it was working with residents on their homes this 2017 summer. Just an all around meaningful project.

So, what is God’s direction as partnership in Colorado Springs continues? Not sure that a spot-on conclusion is the point. But I do hear Him speaking and guiding through this past summer to seek out homeowners. Pray for continued direction this year and for the momentum to carry us into the 2018 summer. We are excited for the Next Step! I mean next step.

Upside Down

A story from Mission Medical:

“Mission Medical Center does a very “soft” ask for a donation from our patients.  If they do not have the ability to give something, they will be seen by the doctor and treated with dignity and compassion. Continue Reading…

Just Ask

Gloria is one of the few homeowners we are working with here in Colorado Springs. So far, I’ve met with Gloria two times, and spoke to her over the phone twice. She’s a sweetheart to say the least. Somehow she’s able to pinpoint what’s on my mind or heart and speak life into it; often times I’ve found that this is something that characterizes a prayer warrior. And a prayer warrior she is.  Continue Reading…

Martha, and Paint

I recently sat down with Martha to go over the plans for working on her apartment this summer. Martha spent some time in a faith-based residential program called Family Life Services who we are also partnering with this summer. Since then, she is moving on to a busy life full of school and caring for her son while he also attends school. Continue Reading…

Burning Bush

How have things been going in Colorado Springs? Well, busy. And you know what? I hate it when people say that. It’s like when someone tells you they’re busy you start to feel… like an inconvenience? “Shall I step aside so I don’t make you any busier?” Continue Reading…

Prayer

Often times I pray and it feels like I’m throwing words into the air. You can’t even see it. How frustrating. Yet to a homeowner I recently met, that was far from the case. Continue Reading…

Same Church

Ephesians 2:19-22  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” Continue Reading…

Stories at the Edge

Stories at the Edge is a group of people, not just believers, who get together to share a meal, tell their own personal stories, and discuss what is going on within one another’s own story of life. Continue Reading…

The Least of These

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’   – Matthew 25:35-40 Continue Reading…

Kingdom Come

Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs is a hub for many of the surrounding homeless population. Daily they provide clothing contributed by donation – whether it be a warmer jacket for the winter months, gloves, hats, underwear, or t-shirts. Continue Reading…

Listening to the Community

My previous work was with “at-risk” youth as we called it. Though what I found through my experience in my previous job, is that we are all “at-risk” in a way. Continue Reading…