how about DETROIT?

Over the summer, we received an inquiry from a church in Detroit and I gotta tell you, I got excited about it as did my Chipper. Granted, not everyone would want to move there..but we aren’t your typical fifty year olds.

The church we were talking to was located near Eight Mile Road, so over Christmas I watched the movie, Eight Mile– about a white, foul mouth rapper (Eminem & trailer trash mom, portrayed by Kim Bassinger). The language was vulgar, but I’ve worked in a similar environment and learned from that experience that I’d have to tolerate offensive language if I planned to penetrate their territory. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes not.  Sometimes we earned enough respect to have them watch the language when we were around and at other times were told to #@** off!  I’ve been called about every name in the obscenity thesaurus.

Let’s get real. Christians are two faced about entertainment. We’re religious fanatics of CSI Miami, House, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Young & the Restless, etc. (I’ve watched them so I’m not throwing stones-just being dangerously transparent) We watch Doctor House pop Vicodin like candy corn and don’t get me started on Grey’s Anatomy! If that much random sex went on in a hospital, we’d have an infection pandemic! We watch the same content at home that we scold others for seeing at a theatre. Subscribers to Cable, Dish or Direct pay to watch garbage too..just sayin

We have ministry friends in Fairfax, Va. outside of D.C.-David and Karen Stokes.  Dave’s first book was recently published & he’s one of the best communicators I know. You may have heard him on FOX-he’s a guest from time to time. He and Karen are two of the most real people you’ll ever meet. When he became pastor of a large church that had a history of legalism and ultra conservative views on pop culture issues, he and his entire family stood against the tide and made it a mission to turn the ship around. Visit them at Expectation Church if you’re ever in that area.

One weekend we were there to preach and speak and went out to breakfast or lunch or maybe it was dinner. We eat a lot when we visit the Stokes.  While we jabbered, their middle daughter, Debby said nonchalantly, I’ve got no shame when it comes to the movies-but at least I don’t lie about it!  This statement from a twenty something year old STUCK in my head. A bold thing to state in front of company (granted she knew that if we hung out with her folks, we couldn’t be too stuffy) I admire a brave soul who boldly proclaims-real-over paper or plastic. I’m glad that our kids are real enough to be real. They don’t always say or do what I’d like them to do but, the same would be said of me. When Mama hears me say, heck, dang or I swear..she reminds me swiftly I know better than to say those things. 😀

But, Mama accepts me for who and what I am and she never fails to let me know that she is proud of me. I wish more parents were like my mama. If they were, we’d see less acting out by kids doing outrageous stuff to gain attention. Whoa..I’ve gotten so comfortable with you that I’m beginning to reveal too much of my way of thinking and should weigh what I say against my stats a little more.

Detroit.  We were excited about a possible next step and prayed for GOD to give us a green flag. They contacted references, ran the background checks and after we’d cleared the bank, scheduled a Skype interview to talk.  Just a couple of days later they called to tell us that we were their choice.  Detroit’s inner city is ransacked by crime, drugs, collapsed job industry. We took it as a great compliment that a multi cultural church believed we were resilient enough to handle the challenge.

We asked a few close friends to help us pray for peace & clarity while making this decision. Number one-it’s what we do when making decisions and number two..we didn’t have the peace & clarity that we knew we should have. Years of listening and following have certainly taught us that if it’s GOD’S way-HE makes our steps sure, even if the ground is shaky. The ground was secure enough, it was our steps that didn’t feel right.

Since I know that you’re wondering, I’ll answer. I believe that we followed GOD’S voice when we accepted the call to our “dream church”.  I don’t understand why GOD chose that path for us like he did but, the thing that matters now to us is that we WERE sure and we obeyed. Oh I still want to know the purpose it served but, I’ll not get bogged down in questions that lead to despair.  HIS ways or NOT our ways..full stop.

The Detroit team set up a time for us to visit for a trial weekend and we tried convincing ourselves that once we were actually there, we’d gain the confidence we were lacking. But, when time came to book flights, our hearts indicated that we were trying to FLY where HE wasn’t leading. Our conscious wouldn’t allow us to let them spend the money in light of how our spirits were still wrestling about a decision we’d been prayed about for months. There were tangible obstacles to work through, but we’ve been missionaries.We have had plenty of practice managing obstacles.

THE thing we were struggling with was…accepting that GOD’S answer was clearly NO.

The obstacle that had us BLOCKED was our faith..FAITH can throw up road blocks as sure as it clears them. The VOICE of WISDOM said..You can do this-GOD will bless because it’s HIS church and HIS people there are seeking a good man and woman to partner with them to bring their community to CHRIST. BUT can do this-GOD will bless..but not with HIS best..because HE has something ELSE for you to do. Are you willing to forgo immediate security & trudge through the valley of uncertainty a little longer so that GOD can ready HIS perfect plans? Are you willing to wait on the LORD?

Chipper wrote and explained how much we wanted to join their team but, we knew it for certain that it wasn’t GOD’S best for us..which meant, we weren’t HIS best for them. Their response was FINAL confirmation. They weren’t upset to have spent so much of their time investigating us..they’d grown to know us ENOUGH and THANKED us for being honest.

GOD is kind and tender. HE led them to tell us that they had a back up candidate in mind just in case we said no. HOW COOL is it that GOD rewarded everyone by revealing exactly who the RIGHT man was for Detroit! My Chipper sent them a file of promo logos he’d worked on during the entire process; everyday we pray for our Detroit family. It was meant to be a long distance partnership, but GOD used them in a specific way to continue honing our skills in following HIS voice.

I was working on CHURCH WHERE EVIL DWELLS last night-when Chipper trudged in from the barn, tossing snow from his goatee. He said, “I DO like snow cream, but not enough to deal with what it takes to have it on a regular basis.  I’m over this snow.”

I thanked GOD again for confirming what we’d settled in our hearts and minds. Detroit would have offered a lot of snow cream & LORD knows how we LOVE us some snow cream..but, some things are meant to remain-a special treat.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer Banford
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 15:20:33

    I LOVE YOU!!!!! What a blessing you two have been to sooooo many people.


    • dangerouslytransparent
      Jan 13, 2011 @ 15:39:29

      Jen! Hey there, sweet girl! Long time NO I was thrilled to find your comment. Thanks for such encouragement. Hope you, Rob, the girls and the three legged dog are all well! YES, I do remember! 😀


      • Jennifer Banford
        Jan 14, 2011 @ 17:47:09

        We have to get together. Whenever I think of you I just want to hug you. I had such a connection with you and when I think of you I think of the big sister I never had. And ! I do remember how you remember everyone’s name, so I’m not surprised that you remember Buttons, our dog, who is currently annoying me.

  2. Kelly Coker
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 19:43:08

    Love reading your blogs! God will open a door in due time. His timing is perfect. BTW, there’s just way too much snow in Detroit. AND, those Grands will be coming soon and very soon and they will need Loly close by.


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