1 Cor 13:7  “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always
hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

This verse sounds poetic and inspiring.  It has been read at
countless weddings as a model for married life.  As a married couple
journeys through the years, they may find that their love also
requires sacrifice.

Our family fell in love with Jesus and we have committed everything
we are to Him, regardless of the sacrifice.  As a bride commits
everything she has to her husband, so we have committed everything we
are to Jesus Christ.  We will walk with Him wherever He may lead us,
and He has led us to North Minneapolis.  He has shown us sign after
sign of His love through this journey and He has given us a deep love
for our neighbor. It’s our desire to know God, the source of all
Love, and express that Love to our neighbor.

These past months, God has been testing the sincerity of our love for
Him and our neighbor in many ways.  We long to say ‘rejoice when
trials come, for your faith of greater worth than gold is being
tested.’  The testing of faith is never pleasant or lovely.  It’s
full of gritting teeth, biting tongues, tears, grief, sorrow, pain,
repentance and forgiveness.

So why do it?  Because His love compels us.  It is those who endure
to the end that will receive the crown of life.  Our testing is where
we identify with Christ who ‘was crucified in weakness, but raised in
power.’  As we take our weakness to Christ in the moments we want to
act out, he gives us new grace to endure.

A few simple stories from the past weeks may reflect what we are
feeling:

My Dumpster

Over the course of rehab at the 810Project we’ve had several
dumpsters delivered. As is common, we will often find miscellaneous
‘filler’ placed in and around our bin from neighbors: car parts,
furniture, old clothes, mattresses, ect. However, one of our
neighbors took it to a whole new level this past week.

I called for a new dumpster to be delivered Wednesday afternoon. By
Thursday morning, the dumpster was FULL of mattresses and someones
old siding. I was FURIOUS! I honestly don’t get too bothered by the
occasional ‘filler’ material. It’s annoying, but expected. But to
completely fill someone else’s completely empty dumpster? That’s
just crazy.

My immediate thought was to drive around until I found a house with
that type of siding and demand payment or file a police report. Then
a scripture came to my mind: “it is mine to avenge, i will repay.”

“Yeah, that’s fine for other stuff, but these people need to learn
their lesson!” I shouted at God. What I noticed is that my heart
posture was becoming about me vs them. “They need to learn to be
more like me. They need to stop sinning.” They, they, they. This
is the voice of the accuser. The voice of my Father is love: always
hoping, always trusting always persevering. Can i trust God to
provide for my every need, even in the midst of sinful behavior? The
fact is that He is my treasure, my very great reward. To enjoy Him
as my Treasure, my heart must be pure.

What he wants from me is a clean heart. “Who may ascend the hill?
Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, ” Psalm 24 says. He
wants me to be righteous. Righteous people have promises from the
Lord: He will direct our steps [Ps 37], and He will hear our prayers
[James 5:16]. The righteous live by faith. In the midst of offense,
I want to remain pure, I want to remain faithful, and i want to
remain rooted and grounded in love. The alternative is slowly to
become detached from the vine and start producing fruits of my flesh:
bitterness, envy, scorn, malice. When i am offended i have a choice:
trust Christ or don’t.

God’s message to me was clear: “Stop looking for external rewards.
If you can’t keep your heart right with me through a dumpster, then
your motivation is way off. Seek me first. Let me be your
treasure.”

The following day, I saw my neighbor out shoveling. I helped him out
and noticed he had no gloves. I gave him mine and brought him a cup
of coffee. We stood on the corner discussing Jesus. I showed him
the progress on the house, and he showed interest in helping me
finish the trim. This is when I’m reminded why I’m here: To stay in
love with Jesus and to truly love my neighbor with clean hands and a
pure heart.

Billie, chemical abuse and Jesus

I met Billie through my twice weekly Bible study with some guys in
the neighborhood. He had fallen on hard times and was sleeping on
the couch. The first time I met him he was lingering back and forth
as we read the Word together. Each week he would get more and more
involved. Last week when I showed up for study it was only Billie
and I.

As we progressed through our reading, he confessed: “I forgot about
our study, and when you came up today I was just heading out to rob
some people for money. I can’t take living like this anymore. I
feel the weight of the Lord on me everyday and it’s making me
uncomfortable. I can’t enjoy liquor anymore. I feel like Jonah. I
need to come back to the Lord.” Through tears, Billie committed his
life back to Christ.

CRAZY BUT TRUE STORY: The previous day an elderly lady came up to
Billie at random and said: “it’s time to come back to the Lord.”
Billie got upset and was about to cuss her out. She gently waved her
hand saying, “no honey, don’t do that. But it’s time for you to come
back to the Lord.” Then she simply left.

He became so upset he ran out of the store and was yelling at God
next to the railroad tracks. A police car rolled up and asked what
he was doing. “Trying to find myself. I need to hear from God,” he
said. “Well, don’t move from that spot until you hear from Him
then,” was the officers reply as he drove away.

The day after these events is when he and I prayed together. Now
here’s the difficult part: by the weekend he was drunk again crying
tears of remorse, begging me to put him in a program. Please pray
for Billie. We did get him in a sober house, but he is unwilling to
commit to long-term treatment at this point.

Again, my heart posture and intuition would say that Billie will
never change. “He’ll continue this pattern until Jesus comes back, so
I really shouldn’t put too much effort into his recovery. The odds
are stacked against him and it’s probably impossible for him to break
free.” But those aren’t Christ’s thoughts. Love never gives up.
Jesus never loses faith. Even when we’re faithless, He is faithful.
Love is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.

**update: The house where we do these bible studies was just raided
by MPLS Police. They didn’t find any drugs, but busted up the house
pretty well. This is a high traffic house, and I have new
opportunities every visit to preach the Gospel of Jesus. Please pray
for the Holy Spirit to break in to this house with Power and cause
deep repentance leading to revival!

Teddy and the wall

For our youth program, we often have nerf dunk contests in the
basement. This past week, Teddy got a little extra excited about
throwing down the thunder and smacked a huge hole in our wall. This
was a great opportunity to walk through personal responsibility as
well as teach a basic life skill. When things get broken, we must
fix them.

Over the next couple days, we got to repair the wall together and
talk about deeper issues than just a wall. Grades, fights, friends,
and Jesus were all discussed as we cut out a section of the old wall
and installed a new one. Teddy and I now know each other a lot
better, and Teddy knows how to fix a wall. It’s a win-win!

Is 32: the fruit of righteousness will be peace; it’s effect will be
quietness and confidence forever.

He is faithful to provide our hearts with confidence and peace. He
bears fruit in our lives and community as we walk in fellowship with
Him. Thank you to all who have sent us here. Our joy is truly
complete. There are challenges everywhere, but we have joy and
confidence that this is where God has planted us, and He will bear
His fruit in due season.

Upcoming Events//Updates

House construction

Upstairs flooring is nearly complete! Over the next week we’ll be
done with all the carpeting. Many thanks again to Hosanna Lutheran
and Prosource Flooring for providing all of our flooring needs!
We’ll begin installing the trim shortly and look forward to using the
building more as it nears completion.

Special Events:

Valentines Day Outreach

Join us Feb 14th at 3pm for our annual Valentines Day Outreach.
We’ll be distributing roses and chocolates to our neighbors
throughout North Minneapolis.

Antioch

In addition to our regular Thursday programming with Antioch, we’ll
be adding a Teen Alpha night on Mondays. This will be a time for
teens to gather and discuss real life issues in a fun and safe
environment. The Alpha curriculum is a great way to introduce our
neighbors to the Gospel in a non-threatening and open way. Please
pray with us for the Holy Spirit to interact with our neighborhood
teens. I truly believe revival will start with this generation.

Camp Good News

We are blessed to continue our partnership on the occasional Sunday
afternoon. It’s a great joy to share our lives and the Gospel at the
local park.

If you’d like to help us continue [we have several new programs and
outreaches happening this Spring] please consider giving at:

www.damascusway.com –

**we need prayer covering! If you would consider partnering in
prayer w/ us for North Minneapolis (particularly Monday, Thursday,
and Sunday) please let us know at the810project@gmail.com

Love you!

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