August / September 2017 - Vol. 93
                                    from youthworks-detroit
Exhortation and Invitation

by Joel Pepmeyer.

Joel Pepmeyer YouthWorks-Detroit
                                2017An invitation is a powerful thing. I have seen and experienced the joy that follows an invitation to a birthday party, and the excitement of being invited to a wedding. Regardless of the event, you cannot help but feel giddy when you realize that someone out there is thinking about you, that someone cares. And there is always someone who cares.

There is a God who cares for us more than anyone else. God cares so much that he sent his son Jesus to deliver an invitation to us. His offer is new life in Jesus, freedom from sins, and a vanquishing of fears. His invitation will be life challenging, life renewing, and life giving. Jesus understands the power of the invitation. He does not commandeer followers but invites them saying, “Come follow me”. He knows his disciples, both past and present, cannot do anything to earn a place in his kingdom. Thus, he offers all peoples the invitation freely. One can accept or reject the invitation, but everyone receives the invite. This begs the question, why does God choose invitation as a way to draw people in? In what does the invitation find its strength? In large part, an invitation offers an opportunity. It is an opportunity that is freely given, one that cannot be earned.

Society often teaches that opportunities must be fought for, worked for, and grasped onto when they present themselves. We praise opportunities that have been earned through an intense struggle, yet we can often scoff at opportunities that are merely handed to us. Invitations break up the monotony of this world view. An invitation gives us an opportunity to be part of something that we have not earned. In fact, a good invitation needs nothing more than the sender’s desire for the invite to be accepted. God’s invitation is a good one, it is offered freely, it is offered to all, and God desires that we accept it. Understand that God is infallible, and thus makes no mistakes in the delivery of his invitation. Some may choose not to open the invite, or pretend to have missed the delivery, but God’s invitation will be received. It is up to us, we either accept or decline the call. I encourage you to accept.

Perseverance in Invitation / Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

My journey to Detroit started, in large part, due to one man’s persistent acknowledgement of the power of invitation. Three years straight, my friend Brian would make a trip from Michigan to Pittsburgh, and he would take time out of his busy schedule to meet with me. Each year he had a similar message, “What are your plans for the summer. I have been praying about who the Lord wants to do Detroit Summer Outreach, and your name keeps coming up. I believe you should consider this”. The first two years I more or less ignored his, and the Lord’s, invitation. Yet, he was persistent and, due to my brother’s faithfulness to me and to Christ’s call in his life, I accepted his invitation after round three. Perseverance pays off, especially in spiritual matters.

The biggest thing God is working in me, through Detroit, has been getting me out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone includes Pittsburgh, my family, my community, and honestly all things that are “me” centered. I left Pittsburgh, my family, and my community when I came to Detroit, but I still managed to bring my self-centered mentality. I am too comfortable in myself, and I need to learn to be comfortable in Christ and what he has instore for me. Every day the Lord is drawing me further out of my own wants and desires, and is giving me a more loving heart for my neighbors. Whether I am working with my fellow interns, serving the household, or attempting to relate to a squad of high schoolers, God is showing me that I need to be more focused on the needs of others. It is a process, but I am finding that there is freedom to be had in giving of myself and serving humbly as Jesus did, for he “came not to be served, but to serve”.

Two Quick Stories

My roommate Jason and I had the opportunity to pray for people and pass out bagged lunches in downtown Detroit. We met a wonderful woman named Mrs. T who shared about her life with us for about 30 minutes. We were able to pray for her, but it was her prayer for us that was certainly inspired by God. What a beautiful testament to the faith it was, as we stood in a small circle, heads bowed in prayer, on a busy street corner in Detroit.

I was blessed to attend a local soup kitchen and an AA meeting run by Ed Conlin. The addicts and former addicts at these meetings are so real and their faith is so strong. They both convict and inspire me at the same time. One woman came to the meeting and shared, through tears, that see had recently relapsed on heroin. She came to the meeting searching for help, and she found love and hugs from a family who supports her.

Source: Used with permission.

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