2018 North Texas Expo Update

Our 43rd Expo overall and 7th annual outreach in North Texas is in the books and as usual God was faithful in giving us all we need plus more this past Saturday bringing countless smiles of His joy to the faces of the 1,056 folks who attended. From the extra large pontoon one volunteer rented to the variety of great food our volunteer team provided including a few BBQ sliders and Jalapeno poppers to go with the hamburgers and hot dogs, God was there pouring out His blessings. All in all, God covered the entire event with His holy, wholesome and good presence not only meeting our needs but giving abundantly beyond so that everyone was blessed as they blessed each other that day.

It reminds me of how God blesses each of us so we can be a blessing to others. In fact, one of the churches that brought out 175 volunteers to serve as buddies to the participants calls their volunteer ministry “Bless”. The great thing about God’s economy is that those who serve others are often blessed in return beyond what they give making our event an example of a heavenly win-win. You can never out give God and that applies not only to your finances but your time and talents, too.

The verse that often comes to my mind before, during and after each Expo is Deuteronomy 12:7 which says: ” There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.” What a great word picture it gives to those who have worked so hard to put together the outreach of the rewards the actual event day will bring. This is God’s hope for our lives here on earth that until we reach our ultimate home of heaven we will serve Him enjoying the blessings He gives us each day.

We hope you enjoy the attached photo collage and pictures of God working, blessing and rewarding folks this past Saturday at the North Texas Expo and that you’ll be encouraged knowing God is bringing heaven to earth everyday and in so many ways through the lives of His people who have been blessed to bless others. If you’d like to see more pictures from this and past North Texas outreaches you can go to our North Texas Expo page on our website at: https://access-life.com/north-tx, too. :)

Pray, Pray, Pray to Brighten Your Day

You know, prayer is one of the most under utilized resources we as Christians have here on earth. It is not only the way we communicate and fellowship with God but it is how we engage Him in bringing more of Heaven to earth each day through our prayers of petition.

Prayer fills us with the peace, love and joy needed to make it through each day and our requests bring about miracles both small and large. God alone is the miracle maker who does more than we could ever hope and imagine on a daily basis and we get to often be a part of things through our prayers.

Prayer is an open line of communication to heaven and a direct pipeline bringing down heaven’s blessings to earth. It is a two way street though offering up praises and heartfelt words and listening to words of encouragement and guidance.  Prayer is the most powerful gift we have as Believers. Yet we often go days between conversations and replies to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.

When we do take time to prayer, we are more hopeful, more confident and even happier as we walk through our day holding the hand of our Savior, Jesus. It’ll not only brighten your day but light up the world around you, too. So if you need a lift today, pray. I know you will be glad you did. :)

 

Wholesome Thinking

I wanted to share a great devotion by ‘Seeds of the Kingdom” I read [text is below] on wholesome thinking.

I know all of us here agree that we need to be wholesome in our thoughts in order to honor God but what I find challenging is keeping my definition of what is wholesome centered in what God says in the Bible given the bombardment of things contrary to what God says is good from schools, businesses, theme parks, tv, the media, culture and society.

There are so many subtle and not so suble graphics, images, words, mascotts, characters, lifestyle choices and just plane yucky stuff sugar coated, dressed up and twisted to sound and look ok all under the umbrella of tolerence, entertainment, compromise, sensetivity, open mindedness and moderation that it is hard to know what’s what these days.

However, as Christians we are called to be separate and set a part and not mixed-up in all the yuck. In fact, we are called to be the salt of the earth protecting people, the culture and scociety from decaying just as salt protects meat from going rotten. The great news is that Jesus has given us all we need to stand for Him, evangelize the lost and bring our cultures in line with how God wants us to live and I believe is starts with prayer and is lived out through wholesome thinking as outlined by the devotion I came across below.

Scripture: “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.”
2 Peter 3:1, NIV

“Recently I was praying with a group of friends and skimming through my Bible at the same time looking for inspiration. Suddenly my eyes lighted on our verse for today – a verse I had never noticed before, even though I must have read it many times!

In this verse Peter was telling his readers the somewhat unusual reason why he had written his letters, not to urge them forward to some great act of spiritual commitment, or to correct their sinful actions, or to teach them some important new truths – even though all of these are implicit in different parts of his letters – but to stimulate them to wholesome thinking.

Peter knew what he wanted to do – he was concerned above all that God’s people should understand a principle that would stand them in good stead for the rest of their days. Practical advice on a particular issue is often important and valuable – but if you can teach people a principle to live by you have given them advice that will hold true for hundreds of occasions.

Everything we do in life – whether it be good or bad – always begins with a thought. Then as we think about it, we decide to do it and finally we involve our body in the action that began as a thought. Now, if our thinking is always wholesome, then it’s obvious that the actions that follow will also be wholesome. But if in our minds we dwell on the ungodly, the unwholesome, the crude, the selfish and the greedy, to quote but a few possibilities, then our consequential actions will also be a reflection of what we’ve been thinking. What a contrast between the two sets of actions!

Peter’s advice holds good for us now. No wonder Paul encouraged us to take every thought captive, for if we control our thinking then our ways will truly be guided by the Lord into the ways of righteousness and the ways of blessing.”

Prayer: Help me Lord to always think about godly things and to stop myself thinking about the ungodly so that my actions will be in line with whatever is pure and holy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

5/6 UPDATE:

I saw the following prayer as the conclusion to another online devotion I read on the importance of wholesome activities and thought it was a fitting footnote to this post.

Lord, thank You for people who are around me who seem to flow with goodness.  (name them)  Help me to receive joy from wholesome activities.  Bring people around me who will encourage me to do good and wholesome things each day.  Amen.

2018 West Palm Beach Update

Our 8th annual Expo in West Palm Beach and 42nd Expo overall was this past Saturday and God blessed us with a new all-time high for any of our outreaches of 1,307 attendees! As the event has grown, set-up and tear-down have become a larger and larger task each year and this year having over 50 tents including 33 for resource exhibitors was also record for any Expo to date. However, as always God gave us all we needed to accomplish the goals He set before us and the 160 kids from Palm Beach Atlantic’s Workship program with the youthful energy that many of us seem to be running low on from time to time were a huge help on both Frida and Saturday.

Also, with the extra large pontoon brought down by friends from Central Florida, we had more boats and seating capacity than ever in West Palm Beach and in turn, gave more rides than in any previous year there. We served virtually every food item we had on site, too. From the over 500 hamburgers, 1,000 hot dogs and 2,500 bottles of water to the thousands of snacks, apples, oranges, chips and moon pies, both participants and volunteers were well fed at the Expo.

All in all, it was such a joy to see both participants and volunteers fellowshipping and enjoying some wholesome fun in the light and love of God presence that day. However, what has Leanne and I excited the most are the glimpses of ongoing ministry starting to happen after years of planting seeds. Seeing annual participants and volunteers begin to build friendships, church and other faith based ministries for people living with disabilities surfacing and the growth of leaders on our outreach team are all so encouraging. We are even helping facilitate some local fish grants and a Spring Fling in May through the local ministry Outpost team.

It reminds me of the words of Galatians 6:9: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” So many folks have faithfully prayed, given and served in West Palm Beach since 2011 and it is such a blessing to see the fruit of their labor and the even greater harvest of hope, faith and love to come if we don’t grow weary. Which then reminds of the words in Isaiah 40:31: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” All in All, we have to rest in the Lord and have our strength continually renewed so we won’t grow weary but finish strong.

Finally, it is Leanne’s and my hope and prayer that you know how much we appreciate all our ministry partners and your commitment to share the love and gospel of Jesus with folks living with disabilities from TX to TN to FL and even Belize. Whether you are the hands and feet of Jesus through your prayers, giving or service THANK YOU for answering God’s call and coming together as His people to shine His light and shower His love on those who join us at each outreach. :)

Final Rays of Sonshine: Helen McClaren

Well, it’s been a good year of highlighting some of the ministry’s bright and shining hearts with our monthly Rays of Sonshne BLOG posts and today is our final highlighting post that features yet another very special volunteer: Helen McClaren.

Helen began serving with Access-Life at our first Expo in East Tennessee back in 2010. Since that time she has become a key member of the area outreach planning team spearheading the food service and volunteer recruiting at her church each year. She has also become an Area Outpost leader not only attending local ministry activities but seeing that her church hosts the annual Access-Life Spring Fling. To top off all of these accomplishments, Helen join the ministry’s board of directors this year. A real blessing for our leadership team. :)

Despite all her hard work and accomplishing so much for the ministry, Helen is a behind the scenes, low key kind of leader. She leads with actions and can definitely speak up about her passions of serving others, especially those with disabilities in Jesus’ name. But, Helen, does all this with a gracious smile and serving with a “however needed” kind of attitude. What a great reminder for us all about what God can accomplish as we work diligently for Him with the heart of a servant. That is what impresses us most about Helen and why she is December’s Ray of Sonshine.

Sweetest Name I Know

One of my favorite songs is the classic, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Sweetest Name I Know”. It goes on to say that “It fills my every longing and keeps me singing as I go”. Aren’t these words so true? What an amazing blessing Jesus gives to us: meeting our every need and giving us His joy to put a song in our heart.

Jesus alone can save. Amen. And only Jesus can satisfy and give abundant life. He alone is our source of happiness and hope. He alone is what we need to fill our lives with goodness, love and light. He is alone is what we thirst for in the highs and lows of life. And He alone is our sustainer when we are on top of mountains or in valleys so deep.

I’ve learned that keeping my focus on Jesus who is seated above at the right hand of God as it says in Colossians 3:2 is the only way for me to rise above the waves of life and experience the wonderful truth of this encouraging song. It helps me think the best and believe the best as I stand on the promises He has given. Now that is another great song [“Standing on the Promises”] but we’ll make that another post later. LOL :)

In any case, here is some word art that I pray will encourage and bless you as you seek to enjoy Jesus and all He gives.

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas

What a glorious celebration is Christmas. Such a blessed season of Emmanuel, when God came to be with us in human form. It is a time to enjoy God’s presence in a fresh way through His forgiveness, grace and mercy, through His protection, provision and power and through His shelter, upholding and tender care. The time is now and everyday of the year to walk in these comforting truths. God is with us always and like a shepherd leading us beside still waters and green pastures.

It is our hope and prayer at Access-Life that you not only know these truths but are experiencing them each day of this Christmas season. Despite the hustle and bustle of this time of year and the noise that may be louder than we all care to hear, God is whispering in an ever soft but unstoppable and penetrating way: “I am here”. So, please take a moment and enjoy that reality this Christmas and all year round for that matter as God is always closer than we think, hope and realize. :)

Merry Christmas and may God bless you richly in this great season of joy!