Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Answer for Their Pain

Immediately following the Independence celebration and holiday, we are launching our new monthly session that we’re calling Life Ministry Training. This very unique ministry will take place on the FIRST Sunday of each month.

The circumstances that led us to this initiative seemed very negative.  First, we were forced to cut back on our weekly gatherings. Then we received notification that we could no longer hold church services in the place in which we have been meeting for over three years. However, due to the resiliency the Lord has developed in us over the last eight years, we simply adjusted and kept moving forward. Now we have a powerful strategy in place.

Two Sundays out of every month we meet publically. Two Sundays out of each month we meet in our homes. One of those public gatherings is for prayer and teaching. The other public gathering is for fellowship and conversation. Both of the public gatherings will prevent us from focusing only on ourselves and what we are going through in our lives. These two Sundays give us the opportunities to help others in their journey to God.

We now see our recent challenge as an awesome opportunity that has been handed to us! We are especially excited about our gatherings on the FIRST Sunday of each month. This is where we will tackle some of the most difficult issues that are facing our families.

Over the next four months we’re going to help people deal with mental illness, stress, anxiety, depression and grief. We’re going to take away the negative stigmas and stereotypes that have prevented people from getting the help they need. We’re going to take away some of the gross misinformation that has kept many of us from understanding the struggle of our friends and family members. We’re going to learn the practical things that we need to do AFTER we pray for them. We’re going to learn how to allow God to work through us to bring healing to hearts and homes.

We are breaking a lot of traditions because we are changing the old mindset of Believers who attend church gatherings only to receive blessings, to Believers attending church gatherings to learn how to be a blessing to someone else.

I cannot promise that the journey ahead of us will be easy. Our monthly training will involve at least one hour of instruction. Many people find it difficult to sit through a lecture or a class unless it has something to do with obtaining a degree, a certification or a job promotion.

However, I am persuaded of better things concerning the Urban Life family. If the average person can sit through two-hour movies for entertainment and two-hour lectures in the pursuit of higher education, then certainly we can sit through a one-hour-per-month training to learn how to effectively help our struggling family members and friends.

Last year, when we were teaching about the lifestyles of victorious believers, we talked about how sometimes Biblical instruction can be boring to plod through. It is absolutely necessary for our church family to press through it, if we’re going to become mature Believers that God can use in these last days.

Back when we were in college, Oral Roberts told the students that God could use a dull axe to cut a tree down, but He could get the job done faster and more efficiently with a sharp axe. The FIRST Sunday’s Life Ministry Training is about making us sharp.

Our families and friends are trying to put the pieces of their lives together, but WE have the answer to their pain. Now we will all learn how to help them receive the answer. God is going to use these monthly gatherings to make us sharp instruments in His hands.

As we have said on countless occasions, “This is not the Chris and Carol Green Show!”
Today marks a new season in which we call our church family members forth to step into their rightful places of responsibility as a Followers of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

In Appreciation

I realize that we have a very radical ministry and I wish there was some way to show our church family how much I appreciate each of them for hanging in there with us. I know that it can be difficult to break the pattern of church attendance that has been passed down through countless generations, but they are doing it.

It's been quite a challenge to change from weekly church attendance to meeting two Sundays a month in a public gathering and two Sundays a month in family gatherings. Not many people would keep holding on and believing a leader who is doing something that no other church in the community is doing.

Our vision is very simple. We're following the pattern of the early church in Acts 2. The Bible says that they continued steadfast in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers. It describes how they met house to house and in the temple.

We believe that we are moving in a 21st century version of Acts 2. On the First Sunday of the month we have teaching and prayer. On the third Sunday of the month we have the breaking of bread and fellowship.

Now as we move into the summer months we are stepping up our teaching by starting new sessions of instruction to help us minister to family and friends who are facing some of life's most difficult challenges. We want to provide understanding of what people are going through.

At the request of one of our Urban Life members, we're going to talk about mental illness during our first Sunday in July gathering. In the following months, we're going to take on subjects like addiction, anxiety and depression. We believe that our ministry in Harrisburg is reaching the pinnacle of its purpose in this community. This type of teaching and instruction is going to be pivotal in helping us fulfill our purpose of rebuilding, restoring and renewing hearts and homes.

On the third Sunday in July, we're going to start the Lifetree conversations again. We have permission to host a monthly Sunday brunch in the United Church Center and we are going to include the one-hour discussion-based ministry. It is our hope that this will give us the perfect opportunity to invite our co-workers, classmates, neighbors and friends. It is our prayer that the Lifetree conversations will become a part of everyone's personal effort to lead and disciple someone into a genuine relationship with God.

In the meantime, our home church gatherings will continue on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.

Somehow I must believe that God is prophetically guiding us. In some way, we might be modeling the kind of change that is coming to America's churches. Through circumstances beyond our control, we were forced to alter our weekly gatherings. Now, we have developed a pattern of meetings that are actually far better than what we were doing in the past.

I believe the Lord is helping us the establish the first of many churches and ministries that we will oversee. Part of the prophetic word over us was that we would establish churches because we have an apostolic calling upon us. Harrisburg is becoming the model and template for what God has called us to do.

So I don't despise our small beginnings. Now I live in appreciation.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What God Alone Has Joined

For the record, we want to make it known that we love our future daughter in law very much. From the moment we first met her, we knew that she was the ONE. Since she is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, there was apprehension on David’s part in telling us that his girlfriend was White and from another country and culture.

From our perspective, we were amazed that David had a girlfriend at all. He had always been very shy when it came to talking to young ladies. He told us that he had met someone before Michelle. She happened to be African American. However, she wasn’t willing to make the kind of commitment to Christ that was embedded in our son’s DNA. We thank God that he was not willing to compromise his walk with God for a pretty face.

You can read the story of how David met Michelle on their wedding website at

Our first encounter with Michelle was through tragedy. The associate pastor of our home church suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Thus, we had to make an emergency, unplanned trip to our home church for the funeral. As we were driving to St. Louis, we received a call on our cell phone. It was Michelle. She wanted to know if it was okay for her and David to drive to St. Louis for the funeral. She said it was obvious that this pastor had been someone that was very special to David and she didn’t want him to miss the service. The journey to St. Louis from Tulsa was nearly seven hours and they would have to take on the driving challenge in a quick weekend turn around so that they could get back to school on time. I her told it was okay with us as long as her parents approved.

We were deeply impacted by her love and concern for David. I was deeply impacted by her confidence and forthrightness to speak to her boyfriend’s dad. There was no pretense, no hidden agenda, and no hypocrisy. She was as real as David and his brothers. So, that’s how we first met her; at the funeral of a dear brother and friend.

Before that event David had been apprehensive about telling us about Michelle because he knew that his mother’s life had been negatively impacted by someone who was White. When Carol’s dad left the family, it was due to an adulterous affair with a woman who was White. So David was really concerned about how his mother would respond.

When Carol met our future daughter in law, there was instantly love for her. We have embraced her as one of our own. Our son’s Christopher and Jonathan have embraced her as their sister. Only outsiders make distinctions in countries, culture and color.

Tomorrow morning we journey to Tulsa, Oklahoma, the place where we first met, to see one of our son’s unite in Holy Matrimony to the love of his life. Life is truly amazing sometimes.

We’ll close this week’s letter with a song that we wrote many years ago called What God Alone Has Joined.

A million memories flood my mind
So many things I’ve left behind
Regrets and words that I’ve left unsaid
Like pages in a book unread

Did I do enough to prepare your way?
Did I live enough so that you can say?
Mom and Dad, God heard you when you prayed 
And I can make this vow on my wedding day

They say I’m gaining a son, not losing a daughter
I’m gaining a daughter, not losing a son
So we fight back the tears beholding this union
Let no man put asunder, what God alone has joined

Toys and games now left in corners
Of rooms that will hold a different tomorrow
Recalling chills and spills, giggles and sorrows
My time as your parent was something I borrowed

Now the season has changed and that time is over
We let go today as father and mother
Now the chills and spills, giggles and sorrows
You will share in this life with a covenant partner

They say I’m gaining a son, not losing a daughter
I’m gaining a daughter, not losing a son
So we fight back the tears beholding this union

Let no man put asunder, what God alone has joined

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Prescription for Healing

As we watch God move in this ministry, we reflect back on how God started moving in our lives almost 26 years ago. As a young couple struggling in our emotions and our finances, we were fighting through many failures and poor decisions. In spite of how far we had fallen, God put His hand on us and chose us for a wonderful purpose.

For a long time, we thought that God’s purpose involved having a ministry with big crowds and being well-known, but now we now know that God had something in mind that was far more substantive than that.

In Psalm 119 a very special word appears throughout the passage. The writer says things like, ‘I long for your precepts’ or ‘I will keep your precepts’.

In our studies, we learned that this word, precept, is closely related to our modern word for prescription. It means God, just like a doctor, will make a very thorough examination and based upon what He sees in us He gives a set of regulations for us to follow that will bring healing. It’s the concept of a physician who performs a medical examination and based upon what he or she discovers in our bodies, they write out a prescription that will bring healing to that condition.

That's precisely what is happening to the Urban Life family right now. With the change in schedule, in going back and forth between meeting in our homes and meeting in a public gathering at the United Church Center, we have been yanked out of a religious routine.  We are experiencing the love of God through our relationships and the Word of God is so practical that we can walk it out in everyday life.

The Lord has directed us to instruct our heads of households in how to conduct a Home Group Gathering. We will do this on the second and fourth Sundays in June in the home of the Whitlocks.

On the First Sunday, we will continue to meet for public prayer and teaching, answering questions, and partaking of Holy Communion. This will continue to be a sacred time for us and we hope that our members invite friends and family yo attend.

Starting in July, we will meet on the THIRD Sundays in the United Church Center’s dining hall for the Lifetree Conversations. Last summer, these conversations were a wonderful way to build relationships. They’re also perfect for inviting friends, co-workers, classmates and neighbors because we’re going to have brunch and conversation on topics that will be of interest to people who don’t do the ‘church thing.’

On the fifth Sundays of this year, we will not gather at all. We are designating all fifth Sundays as Free Family Days. We encourage everyone to use these Sundays to relax and recharge.

Everything that we are doing is like a set of precepts; a prescription that God has provided to bring healing to our hearts and homes. Now, we can understand why the Psalmist would say, ‘Behold, I long for your precepts’. It's like saying, “Lord, I long for Your examination and prescribed regiment for me because You're going to heal me through this process.”

Today, we are able to look back to the season before we were sent to Harrisburg and see how God led us through a 17-year journey of preparation and healing. We didn't know how to explain it while we were living it, but today we have the words to articulate the many precepts that emerged from that season.

Godly precepts can help a couple build and sustain a long and happy marriage. They can help an individual build and sustain lasting relationships. They can help a church family rebuild, restore and renew hearts and homes.

Godly precepts were woven into the fabric of our marriage. Through every fight and painful night, we were following His prescriptions. Throughout the childbearing years and the endless tears, we were following His prescriptions. Through victories great and small, and when nothing seemed to be happening at all, we were following His prescriptions.

Now, we are giving others, what God has given to us. And we are very excited for them because we know what God did for us. He doesn't play favorites, so we know He’s going to continue to do great things for them. If they don’t shrink back, God is going to blow their minds with what He has in store for them. There is nothing too hard for the Lord. He has written the perfect healing prescription for you and your family!