Pray With Us: Spring Cleaning

If you haven’t stopped and lifted your head from demands of everything or everyone all around you, I tell you, “Take a look at your surroundings, winter has come to it’s end and spring here!” And in Texas, it’s a short window of time before the squelching heat makes everything brown again. Spring is a time of new beginnings. The frosty gloom of winter is gone championing an abundance of warmth. Flowers are in full bloom. Grass is green once again, offering a vibrant contrast to the newly sprouted blossoms shooting up along stretches or highways. Don’t neglect to notice the picture perfect flower beds of the retired couple just a few doors down from you. I can always identify the houses of retirees when my wife and I are on evening walks around the neighborhood. As we stroll, I admire the beautiful landscaping and ornate flower beds, and think to myself, “I’m glad someone else takes care of that yard, “ as I smile and wave to older gentleman watering his picture perfect petunias.

So many thoughts and emotions rush to my mind when I stop to reflect on the newness associated with springtime. One of the my most unforgettable memories of spring…spring cleaning. Yikes! I never understood the need for “spring cleaning,” as a kid. I thought my folks put a lot of unnecessary time, effort, and child-labor each year into spring cleaning. Now as a “responsible” adult (those who know me are laughing) I’ve got my work cutout for me because the warmth has woken the slumbering weeds in my yard, the fog of winter has cleared and revealed the mounds of junk under the carport, dirty windows remind me each time I look out them they are in desperate need of washing, and tired flower beds crying out for some t.l.c. This is just the outside of my house! There is plenty more to do inside.

With all of the physical cleaning going on in my life, its got me thinking about the need for some spiritual deep cleaning. I was reminded of a weighty verse a couple weeks back and it has spurred on a desire to take a close, ugly look at my spiritual situation and ask myself, “What’s next?” Philippians 2:12-13—Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. The continuation of working our my salvation with much fear and trembling is a weighty command that I fear many of us struggle to manage well on a day to day basis!

Work out my salvation!? I think a lot of confusion can come from this verse if we don’t approach it correctly. Paul reminds us in the verse leading up to this command of the humility Jesus lived while here on the earth. Jesus, God in flesh, emptied himself, took on the form of a servant, and lived obediently to the point of death; death on a cross. We are called to obey as disciples of Jesus. Paul is not suggesting that our salvation is based on our obedience, but we are to continually look inward with humble hearts and identify areas of sin. We are to strive to look more and more like Jesus each day we spend here on earth. This comes by dying to our selfishness, greed, lust, envy, forgiveness…feel free to insert your personal sin if I missed it. Paul suggests we take our sin seriously and we see sin as God does. We should hate sin.

This can leave us feeling overwhelmed or even hopeless if we stop here, but verse 13 offers a beautiful promise! God is working to fulfill his good purpose! We are not left in our sin to figure it out and overcome on our own. God is working in us to bring newness and to defeat the very sin that once kept us from Him. We simply need to present a humble heart and acknowledge our sin and allow him to work in us.

As you work the next few weeks or in my case months, to clean out and tidy up after a long winter, don’t forget to take clean up the most crucial part, your heart. I encourage you to join me as I take a look at my heart’s condition and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas if disobedience in my life. It is crucial to then take the next step and invite God to work in those areas. We don’t have to do it alone, and really we can’t. God wants us to allow Him to work in us.

Welcoming Jace Allen

As God leads and we humbly follow, it is exciting to see how He continues to expand our reach. Yes, another milestone as we have just hired Jace Allen to help us oversee and further develop the Bastrop Area. This is exciting for so many reasons.

If you have not had the opportunity to meet Jace yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. He has a heart to serve the Lord, share the Gospel, and make disciples with everyone he meets. His love for the Lord and others overflows contagiously. We are truly blessed to have him as part of the team. This is also exciting giving us the opportunity and ability to start more sites in the area and freeing me up as we begin to develop new areas outside of Bastrop.

Jace has been serving at our Giddings location for the last three years and has an incredible heart for anyone and everyone that they serve. Seeing the gospel shared and lives changed in so many ways, we watched God continuing to grow a deeper and deeper desire for Jace to join our team in developing this mission.

Would you join with us in prayer?
Pray for Jace and the work God has called him to do in and through Mission U-Too.
Pray for the people that God has called us to feed physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Pray for those that serve with us that God would continue to equip us as we go forth making disciples.

God is truly at work in the lives of so many and I continue to be humbled at all that he is doing.

“Mission U-Too isn’t just changing the lives of the people we serve, but changing the lives of all of us; both sides of the serving tables. When we allow the Gospel to meet us, believers and unbelievers alike, where we are then Jesus is able to do amazing things!” -Jace Allen

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Missed Opportunities and Second Chances

A mentor of mine once told me that it is important to document what you are feeling and to take a journal and write down what God is doing in your heart. And then saturate the experience in prayer as you walk alongside God and those with whom you are serving. Then share it. So I am going to share with you a story that has been penetrating in my heart for exactly one year..

A married couple with 4 children needed help. They searched for help in the community and they received some assistance, but was needing more. They heard about Mission U-Too through friends and my boss, at the time, came to me about their needs. They had lost their house in a fire because of an electrical issue with their dryer, right before Christmas in 2015. My heart was broken as how to help.

I journaled February 2016: “I am a servant of Christ, a child of the Most High who is to fulfill a commitment on this earth; to spread the gospel showing Christ love in different ways depending on situations and circumstances. Help was given to this family by providing a week in a hotel, Christmas presents, clothes, and groceries. However, I missed the opportunity to pray with them because I allowed the language barrier to build a wall.”

After help was given I felt my purpose and motive was not pleasing to God. I had the opportunity to pray! I had the opportunity to share the gospel with 6 people. I had the opportunity to be a light in the darkness, and I failed.

Have you ever felt like that?

The Rodriquez family moved in with family after their hotel voucher was over, and started building their house with their own hands. I kept in contact with the family through Facebook and would reach out to them every few months.

Just a few days before Christmas in 2016 I was told by a local Pastor that the Rodriquez’s home was almost finished. I know some of you can relate to losing your home in a fire and the devastation of losing everything and having to rebuild your life again. I then reached out again and asked what I could do to help. Diana, the mother, sent me a list of items that they needed and I started praying through the list.

Within a few days God sent His deliverer. A Bastrop family wanted to bless a family during Christmas, so I mentioned the Rodriquez family and their needs. It was a MATCH! Gifts were given from a local Pastor…pillows, towels and a microwave. Plus money for a washer and dryer, curtains and other household items were given. I gathered all the things and went to visit the family.

I pulled up to their little trailer size home with 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a kitchen. No living space and they were content, blessed and satisfied with the work that was put into their tiny home. Emotions were expressed by her and I. We cried together, laughed together, and we PRAYED together. I knew just enough Spanglish for her to understand. That was my opportunity friends! I shared the gospel with her and the heart behind Mission U-Too. I spent 3 hours with her unpacking her new gifts and talking, while Jordan, my son, played outside with the children.

God presents opportunities. Sometimes we miss the opportunity and sometimes we don’t. Don’t miss the opportunity that Christ has for you. I almost did, but with His great planning, my journaling, and pursuing the Great Commission, I had another opportunity that God trusted me with. Diana is a believer. Her husband is also a believer, and a few of her children are as well.

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” I was blessed abundantly and the Rodriquez family, because of OUR commitment to Christ.

You can do the same. Choosing a service opportunity can be daunting, but if you think about it, you have passions that will help drive this decision. God has blessed you with gifts that will lead your decision and will encourage you along the way. Trust in your passions, gifts and, most of all, God. And He will lead you to an experience that will change your life.

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Meet A Volunteer: Brandon

Brandon Phifer has been leading the Justin site since 2016, but has been a part of Mission U-Too almost since it’s beginning. Check out his story to learn about his heart and vision for Mission U-Too in the Denton area.


Years ago my closest friends started serving burgers and hot dogs in Bastrop, TX under the name Mission U-Too. When they originally started I participated at only a small level, but I was so grateful for their heart’s desire to make much of Jesus. I helped when I could, but mostly observed from a distance. The consistency of meeting weekly prepared them in ways they could not have expected. It was not long after they started that a fire devastated the area and destroyed hundreds of homes, which included at least 20 families from my home church. The work they did, that I had the joy of participating in, to care for the displaced families, first responders, and anyone else in need was tremendous and the city began to recognize their faithful and compassionate hearts.

I moved away from the area a couple years later, but Mission U-Too continued to grow and I kept in close contact with my friends. They started multiple sites and made disaster relief an important function of what they do. Although I didn’t live nearby any of the locations to serve regularly, I was able to take my son and join them in Moore, OK after a tornado wrecked the lives of so many people. This trip only served to increase my ever growing desire to be part of this ministry. While I had aspirations to start a site in the North Texas area, I had very young children and was at the beginning of a new career. I simply felt the timing was not right.

A couple years passed and Mission U-Too was still on my mind. I thought about the importance of leading my kids into a mission-minded lifestyle. I view my career as a mission field where I can seek to point people to Jesus, but my kids don’t get to see that. My wife and I became more and more convinced that we MUST get them involved in mission so they don’t grow up viewing the Christian life as something you do only on Sunday and Wednesday. We considered many nonprofits, but with a baby, a toddler, and a young boy, most of these seemed a bit impractical.

My wife and I continued to pray for wisdom about how our whole family could be on mission together. I found myself specifically being called to Mission U-Too, but asked God to solidify that I was hearing him correctly by putting it on my wife’s heart as well. My wife already has a great desire to serve the Lord and longed to get the kids on mission too, but if Mission U-Too was the route we should take then I wanted her to hear from God, without my influence, so we could be on the same page.

A short time later my wife approached me and said, “Let’s start a Mission U-Too!” That green light was all I needed and I began to plan and organize and prepare. We immediately began praying that God would stir people’s hearts to want to be involved. There is no question in my mind that Mission U-Too is a good thing to do, but I wanted God to call people to it in ways I could not possibly get the credit for. Over the next ten months God began to bring things together. My wife suggested a location that she felt was great, a park in the center of town. The city manager was excited about the idea and granted approval. I decided to put together a six week study to lead at my church that would encourage people to a missional lifestyle. I did not push Mission U-Too in this class, but offered it as an outlet to put to practice what we had been studying if they felt God calling them to it. I had lunch with many people and presented the vision of Mission U-too to my church life group. After all of this, a training was put together and 20 people showed up to a Friday night and Saturday training session! God was answering our prayer of putting the ministry on people’s hearts and calling them to be involved!

We launched our site in November 2016 and it has been a huge blessing. My children love serving and will often leave the playground to come ask how they can help. One of my boys really doesn’t understand why we cannot do it every single day and the other boy has shed tears when he can’t make it. The joy seen in the eyes of the volunteers is so exciting because just as much as I value feeding those in need, I have a great desire to see the Church, the body of Christ, on mission in the communities God has placed us in. As Christians we must show the love of Christ in words AND actions. We have faced some cold nights and it gets dark while we serve, but there is always a family that comes that really benefits and the smiles on the faces of volunteers never seem to fade.

We serve an awesome God who is already doing wonderful things in Justin, TX…in my family, in my Christian friends, and in the community. God is so incredibly good!

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New Site in Justin, TX

We are excited to announce the launch of our new site in Justin, TX!

This is extra exciting because not only is this a new site, but it’s a start of a new area. Developing the Denton area has been in the works for a number of years. We have been praying about the area; more specifically praying with the leader for the possibility of developing a new area.

Brandon has been a friend and instrumental over the years in helping us think through and walking out the heart of this ministry. Brandon has answered the call that God has burdened his heart with in helping us continue to grow this ministry.

As we begin to develop this area we ask that you would join us in prayer. Pray for our leaders that they would follow God in their word and actions. Pray for our volunteers that they would show the unconditional love of Jesus. Pray for those we serve that their hearts would be open to hearing and receiving the Gospel message and they would feel the love of Christ through our actions.

If you are in the Denton area we would love for you to stop by and say hi or jump in and help out. All our welcome, you are welcome. We serve Thursday 5:30-6:30 at Justin City Park. Learn more about our Justin site here.

Pray With Us: Sharing Christ’s Love

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
‭‭~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a‬

When we think of February we think about love. There’s no greater love than our Savior. What does it mean that God is love? Love is an attribute of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love.

Pray for those around you. We are called to show Christ’s love. We live in a broken world. People are hurting and angry and always putting other people down and that’s because they’re putting themselves down. They don’t feel good about themselves. Lift them up and share Christ’s love.

Sharing Christ’s love can be hard to some. Especially to those who are broken and have no hope. Here’s a few ways you can share Christ’s love: Encourage, Be a Servant, Smile and Show Kindness.

Pray With Us: Hope in the Lord

“Love the LORD, all his faithful people! The LORD preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”
‭‭~ Psalm 31:23-24‬

So many times it feels like your simple perseverance in following Christ goes unnoticed. You quietly choose something in an act of obedience to the Lord, and you might feel alone in this decision or that the Lord doesn’t see this. Yet, this verse reminds us that He sees us and preserves those who are true to Him. The New Living Translation says, “the Lord protects those who are loyal to him.” We are protected, we are seen, we have hope.

As we kick off 2017, a year that is sure to bring a whirlwind of transition, let us take time to pray for strength and give praise for the hope we have in the Lord. Join us in praying for our leaders and those we serve this year. Below are some specific things we are praying over this month.

  • Pray for our country. With the inauguration of a new president last week, our country is not taking this new transition lightly. Our country is made up of people of all shapes and sizes, but the one thing that we all have in common is that we are loved by God (John 3:16). Pray for those hurting in our country, pray for unity and grace, pray that people would know they are loved.
  • Pray for our leaders. Regardless of who you voted for, our new president and the leaders in this country need your prayers. Mission U-Too staff and our volunteers also need your prayers as we lead those in our communities. Pray for pure hearts, gentleness, and wisdom for those that lead around you.
  • Pray for those in your communities. Your neighbor, the grocery store clerk, your best friend, those Mission U-Too serves. There are people hurting all around you. Take time to really see people and spend time praying for peace and that they would know and feel the nearness of God.

 

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Meet A Volunteer: Hannah

Hannah is a cheerful 14-year-old who has been serving with Mission U-Too at various locations since 2012. She heard about Mission U-Too from her mom, Christine, who had first heard about the ministry at a local community group. She has been serving with her family ever since.

Hannah’s family started serving for the Bastrop North site in 2014 on a regular basis. “When we first started serving at the Bastrop North site people would be outside fighting and it was scary. I was scared to attend the local feedings. However, when we continued over the months serving consistently trust was being built and less fights were happening.”

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She served in the Oklahoma tornado disaster relief trip. During the days of serving it had started raining and another threat of a tornado was coming through. People were devastated from the devastation they already experienced just a few days before. Mission U-Too still served those that were hungry. “Life changing experience,” she said. “Seeing people scramble for shelter and the fear that was on their face. It made me appreciate the things I have.”

A story about the tornado she remembers is hearing about two best friends who walked into the local high school together to get away from the tornado had died. The tornado destroyed half of the school. Being a high schooler herself she can’t imagine the devastation of losing her best friend.

“Mission U-Too has changed my outlook on homeless people. Before Mission U-Too I never paid attention to them. In my surroundings now I am more aware and not afraid to talk to them,” she said. “If we haven’t served with Mission U-Too I wouldn’t see the need around me. It has helped open my eyes to others needs instead of my own.”

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Blessed Abundantly

Marilyn is a single grandmother raising her four grandchildren: Alex, Brett, Amari and Kaylee. Struggling to make ends meet, her grandchildren started coming to Mission U-Too for a burger.

Quiet and meek they would sneak in the line and wait patiently for their time to be served. Not knowing a soul around them other than others in the community they would walk back home with their food in hand and eat with their grandmother.

Alex, the oldest of the four grandkids attends Bastrop High School and is on the track team. Breaking out of his shell he started finding HOPE and community at Mission U-Too. He began to serve and started building trust with those he was finding peace. “It’s just different,” Alex said in an interview. The ‘different’ Alex was feeling was the love he was experiencing from those who were pouring into him, Christ’s love. Alex’s siblings later followed behind to serve.

Marilyn was seeing positive change in the children. Once her grandchildren were able to find peace and comfort she started coming to be served as well. They even decided to dedicate their lives to Christ in their church and were baptized. Carol, a Mission U-Too volunteer, was invited to join the baptism.

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And then on a summer afternoon Marilyn and her grandchildren were in Houston trying to head back to Bastrop and their car broke down. She was able to get help and a ride back to Bastrop from family, but her car was not repairable. Left alone at home without a vehicle they all began to pray. Little did she know, a family who had just started serving with Mission U-Too had a car that they had been praying about for several months to be able to donate to someone in need.

Carol introduced Marilyn to the family and they found a perfect match. Marilyn was blessed with a car.

Marilyn said in an interview, “I have never met people who cared as much as your volunteers do. My family has been blessed abundantly and my faith is stronger.” And Alex followed with, “I am loved and I have a purpose in life that I never knew I had.” They ended with that Mission U-Too’s impact in the community has made it a better and safer place to live.

God is on the move within Mission U-Too. Actually, it’s not about the name or who we are, it’s about Jesus Christ and making disciples. He uses people within Mission U-Too to reach out with His love.

Pray With Us: The Reason for the Season

“And this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his son.”
‭‭~ 1 John 5:11‬

Jesus is the reason for the season! What a promise He has given us. God gave us His son Jesus. What a great time to rejoice in the Lord and to show His unconditional love this Christmas season.

Let us encourage you to set aside time during the busy holiday season to get into the Word and meditate on the reason for the season, Christ’s birth. And share His love with others. Bring people the joy that you have in your heart by serving others and sharing the gospel.

Romans 6:23 says “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a great gift we have been given. I pray this Christmas season that you are reminded of what Christ has done for you.

For so many that we serve this time of year it can be quite difficult as they struggle to provide for their families, so I ask that you join me in praying that they would set aside the struggles of this world and focus on the gift of salvation.

Pray that we would go forth and proclaim the truth that needs to be heard and received by the lost.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Thank you for your prayers this holiday season! Merry Christmas!