Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Singing Songs to Heavy Hearts

I am reminded of a scripture the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart just before we held our first public gatherings in Harrisburg, PA.  It was the fall of 2004 and every morning, at around 5:30AM, I would go to our facility in Uptown Harrisburg to pray. I was desperately seeking God for wisdom in how to reach out in what was a foreign land for me. 

After serving for 17 very successful years in my home church, I was keenly aware that I would need a new strategy in this new season and new region of the country. I will never forget this simple, yet profound passage from Proverbs 25:20, 

"Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, And like vinegar on soda, Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart." ---(NKJV)

"Like one who takes off a garment in cold weather, or like [a reactive, useless mixture of] vinegar on soda, Is he who [thoughtlessly] sings [joyful] songs to a heavy heart." ---(AMP)

I recall how I first shared this word with our team. I didn't quite know how to implement it, accept to tell them that we would change our strategy. We would no longer be placing emphasis on the typical church gathering. Instead we would place more emphasis on prayer and teaching to bring healing to heavy hearts.

This scripture had literally snatched away all of the strategies that worked for us in our home city. God was clearly telling me that if we tried to do what worked before, we would be like those who were taking away garments in cold weather. 

Our current strategy would be like pouring vinegar on a substance called nitre. Vinegar dissolves the nitre, and makes it useless and ineffectual. Our method would make our efforts useless. We would not be comforting the lost and hurting. Instead, we would be thoughtlessly agitating them and making things worse. 

It took several months and years for us to understand the weight of that scripture. We've had a variety of people to come and go through the years. As individuals and families began to attend, each person came with severe damage in their hearts and homes. 

Over the years we have had to make several adjustments in our approach to serve and help people. We could no longer do what we had always done in previous years. We could not always start our sessions with joyful songs (praise and worship). Many struggled with this because we had always been taught, according to Psalm 100:4 that we must "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise."

But something amazing happened as we followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. We found that when it came to heavy hearts, if we jumped right into the issues of life, that the joyful songs came forth in the midst of their healing process.

Sometimes we simply started our gatherings with prayer, but by the time we came to the end of our sessions, we would somehow end with joyful songs. We found that when we started with conversation or even prelude music that spoke to the hurting souls, that it was like GIVING them warm garments on a cold day.

We look back over the years and we are amazed at how accurate that simple scripture was for our strategy in this community, and how appropriate it is for many devastated families across this nation, today. This Proverbs 25:20 understanding has forced us to stop following formulas and church traditions that no longer work. 

We are moving into the new seasons with great excitement and anticipation. Now we know how to better describe our work. We are a ministry that prepares and trains Believers to rebuild their families to serve in the community. We now have open doors to work with a local employment service, a women's shelter, and a drug/alcohol addiction recovery center. We are teaming up with intercessors for a weekly corporate prayer gathering that will give us the opportunity to collectively stand in the gap for this city, region and state.

Many of the community outreach efforts in our inner cities have been established by Believers. Most of them are looking to the Church to supply the volunteers and resources to help them reach the lost in their neighborhoods. We believe that we are one of those ministries that is called to raise up and train Believers who can serve with various community outreach efforts. We don't need to start new community outreaches. All we need to do is prepare God's people to go and bring aid to the places that are already on the front lines.

One of the prophetic words that was spoken over us, when we were sent to Harrisburg in 2004, was that we would strengthen that which was already built. So, we were not sent to Harrisburg to start anything new. We were sent to build people, so they could be released to serve households, neighborhoods, ministries and outreach efforts that have already been established.

From year to year we are moving forward in the zeal and excitement in which we approached our assignment way back in 2004. We are seeking God for His wisdom in how to minister to heavy hearts. And whatever HE speaks and however HE tells us to do it, we will obey HIS word.

We look forward to singing songs to joyful hearts!

Chris and Carol Green

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Green Family

We pray that you experience the genuine love of God as you spend time with family and friends during this holiday season.

As you know, we've been talking about Christmas a lot over the past four weeks.

Did you know that December 25th is not the actual birth date of Jesus Christ? Did you know that this was a date that was established by the Roman Catholic Church when they initiated a Mass during the same season that pagans were already engaged in various winter solstice celebrations? That's how the term Christ Mass was established. It was all part of an effort to covert people to Christianity. However they failed to steer the people away from the sun god rituals in spite of the new church-initiated Mass to celebrate the Son of God.

We share this with you because many skeptics use this well established historical fact to attack Christians who are ignorant of church history. They feel that this discrepancy concerning the birth of Christ, gives them leverage to deny the Bible and the Son of God.

Many Believers already know that the Bible never says that Christ was born in December. The point is that it doesn't matter that He wasn't born on December 25th. We believe this church-initiated celebration should no longer attempt to celebrate December 25th as Christ's date of birth. Now it can be used to celebrate the REALITY and PURPOSE for His birth.

Since millions of people have come into the Faith as Protestants, they have never been aware of the history behind Christmas. Most of that history is very negative and even involves an annual persecution of Jewish people on that day.

The Christmas (Christ Mass) celebration has embraced many not-so Christian-like traditions and those traditions have become disconnected from historical facts and understanding. Of course the history is far more complicated than this, but we really don't have space to cover every detail in a simple newsletter. Hopefully, this will get you started in pursuing answers in your own personal study.

As a side note, many Biblical historians believe that Jesus was actually born at a much more significant God-ordained time (perhaps in the Spring when sheep were giving birth). However, for most Jewish people, Christmas is directly connected with a negative history of persecution, and it is a 24-hour celebration declaring that Jesus Christ is the only way to come to Jehovah God; so they want no part of it.

Pagan rituals, like the evergreen tree, mistletoe and December 25th itself, have had attempts by many generations of the Church, to be Christianized and set apart from their wild, sensual and wicked celebrations. 

For instance, many songs (Christmas carols) have been written to point the celebration away from other gods to Christ. Christian meanings of the evergreen tree were reassigned and it was declared to be a symbol of new life in Christ and not an actual god to be worshipped.  Some church leaders vehemently rejected these ideas and they are still rejected by many to this day.

Since tree worship is firmly forbidden in scripture (Jeremiah 10), many Believers cannot, in good conscious, celebrate the season with an evergreen tree. Still there are others who desire to use this holiday, with its many pagan attachments, as a way to connect with their non-believing family and friends, for whom Christmas has no religious or spiritual meaning at all.

Over the past few weeks we have been offering very important points for us to consider for making Godly responses to the pagan origins of December 25th. As Christian life coaches, we have decided to provide practical answers and solutions for you and your family. 

Here are the four points we asked you to consider for responding to people who are caught in the midst of this controversy:

1.) Become all things to all men - 1 Corinthians 9:18-23 (NKJV)

2.) Don’t cause your brother to stumble - 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 (NKJV)

3.) Use the opportunity (holiday) to bless your enemies - Matthew 5:43-45 (NKJV)

4.) Continue in the early church lifestyle of giving to others/helping the poor - Acts 2: 40-47

This week we are offering the fifth response:

5.) Partake of the Lord's Table in Remembrance of Christ - Luke 22:14-20 (NKJV)

Jesus instructed His followers to partake of the communion table in remembrance of Him. The holiday season is another perfect opportunity to place emphasis on Jesus Christ by gathering to do what HE instructed us to do. That's what we choose to do every year with our Urban Life family. We did it this past Sunday.

Millions of Believers will gather in sanctuaries or in their homes to partake of Holy communion and truly reflect upon the reason Christ came into the world. 

These special gatherings remind us that the Son of God is not to be merely thought of as a baby lying in a manger, but as our Savior who was brutally beaten and nailed alive to a wooden cross. We should remember that He rose again from the dead to usher all of us into the Kingdom of God.

As we stated last week, we are simply trying to communicate that in spite of the historical facts, controversies and conflicts, CHRIST must truly become YOUR reason for this season and all year round.  The world will continue to celebrate the sun god (in all of its many names and forms) as part of their annual winter celebrations. WE must celebrate the Son of God and give a Godly RESPONSE to our non-believing family and friends, and to our Christian brothers and sisters who may not have this insight.

Enjoy the day and enjoy the season!
---Chris and Carol Green

Friday, December 4, 2015

Community Life Coaches Give Hope, Restore Dignity to the Unemployed in the City

Pennsylvania, USA ---- Urban Community Ambassadors, Chris and Carol Green, were invited to EDSI - PA CareerLink® Capitol Region's Job Club in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the third consecutive month to host what the Greens call a 'Beyond the Resume' Life Coaching workshop. 

EDSI operates the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program, serving the unemployed and underemployed populations of Pennsylvania. Their core services include job readiness workshops, job search, the Job Club and other career development topics. 

"We held our first workshop in October," explains Coach Chris Green, "We seized the opportunity to give hope and restore the dignity of those who were unemployed in our city."

"After that first workshop, several people said the presentation gave them a new way to view themselves as they face a very tough job landscape,"added Coach Carol Green, "Most seemed to be very encouraged." 

Coach Chris Green said, "From our perspective, we were just thrilled to be able to move out beyond the walls of the church setting and reach people who needed hope in a time of great despair."

EDSI - PA CareerLink® invited Chris and Carol Green back again in November. 

"It was just before Thanksgiving, so it was kind of tough for the participants," Coach Carol Green explained, "That month, we had a wonderful, engaging conversation as we explored various workplace personality profiles and offered tips on how to work with conflicting personality types and how to improve one's own responses to others."

The session came alive with conversation, questions and comments. During their sessions, the Greens introduced their Life Coaching website and offered the opportunity for participant to attend to their weekly small group sessions.

At that time, the Career Link site administrator sat in on part of the workshop and later proposed that the Greens return to conduct a sessions for her staff.

Afterwards, the Community Life Coaches were placed on the EDSI - PA CareerLink®  regular monthly schedule, which continued with this month's workshop.

World Peace Ambassador, Dr. Clyde Rivers calls Chris and Carol Green the leading skilled experts in rebuilding, restoring and renewing hearts and homes. The Green are certified master life coaches who founded C and C Connections, an innovative community care and coaching business. 


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It's a Matter of Conscience

We trust that you are taking advantage of the holiday season to represent Christ. We also pray that you and your family are able to embrace and experience the love of God in a special way this year.

Last week we began discussing the controversies surrounding Christmas and how we, as Believers, can stop merely REACTING to the negative origins of December 25th and began making wise RESPONSES to this season.

We are offering at least Five Godly Responses to December 25th.

Last week we presented response #1:
Become All Things to All Men from 1 Corinthians 9:18-23.

This week we offer response #2:
Don’t cause your brother to stumble - 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 (NKJV)

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul was dealing with a matter very, very similar to the Christmas issue. Some Believers were participating in the practice of eating food that was offered to idols. They didn’t feel restricted because they knew that the idols were not real gods and they also knew that what goes into a person is not what defiles them. 

It’s the same for Christian Believers today who participate in modern Christmas rituals that have proven historical foundation in idol worship. They feel, just as those early Believers, that they are free in Christ Jesus.

However, Paul admonishes them to not allow their freedom to cause another brother to stumble. He explains that due to his brother's conscience, he does not have permission to participate in that practice. 

If another Believer is struggling with our practice it may wound their conscience. Paul actually says that we sin against our brother and Christ. The sin is not the practice itself, but it is in how the participation affects your brother.

Let’s read the letter: “Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

We realize that even though there are many things that are okay for Chris and Carol to do, as Christian life coaches and spiritual leaders in this community, they are not always expedient. Some things are not wise for us to do. Some things are not beneficial for us to do. There are many things that we were at liberty to say and do in Missouri that have proven to be offensive in Pennsylvania. So we don't do them for the sake of our brothers and sisters in this regional culture.

Why? Because we have an extremely important mission and purpose for being in Harrisburg. Some of our freedoms could go beyond merely offending another brother, and could actually cause them to stumble. Paul says that some of our freedoms could actually wound another brother’s conscience. Our freedoms can cause others, who are outside of the Faith, to continue in their ungodly practices. So we have learned that some things are just not worth it. Why risk losing potential brothers and sisters or wounding current brothers and sisters?

What are we saying to you today? Be very careful of what you practice in this controversial season. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you the 'yea and nay' about what you do. Don't question Him. Just obey Him.

We cannot, do not, must not and will not dictate what goes on in your home. Nor should you be fearful or embarrassed if you invite us to your home and you have Christmas lights decorating your windows, a wreath on your front door and a Christmas tree in your living room. We’re not the Christian Christmas police! God knows who is in your family and He knows the people who are part of your life. You are most likely connected to people where your response is what we mentioned last week ….I have become, to those who are without law, as without law.

Most of today’s Christmas practices don’t cause people any internal conflict because they have no knowledge of the history. But if you are closely connected with someone who has issues with these things, be very wise and sensitive to where they are in their conscience. They would require the response from last week's scripture ….to the weak, I became as weak.

Remember, a person’s beliefs are often deeply rooted in teachings, upbringing, history and life-long understandings. It really is a matter of their conscience. Don’t force someone to violate their own conscience. It’s not simply a matter of whether THEY are right or wrong about Christmas. Don’t let your freedom cause your brother to stumble.

Enjoy the holiday, enjoy your family!

---Chris and Carol Green