Yesterday as my daughter Chloe and I were leaving one of the stores up at Providence Marketplace I saw a car in the parking lot that caught my attention. I think it was a mini-van? I can’t remember though because I was too distracted by what I’m about to tell you.

The owner had used the entire back window of this car to letter (professionally letter) these words in sort of rainbow formation.“Hands that serve are holier than hands that pray.”I stood there and read it a few times to be sure I had read it correctly then I knew I had three options.1. Wait for the owner to return so I could find out more about this seemingly Biblical principal I was unaware existed.2. Leave a note to do the same but then I would leave it largely unresolved unless I left a number for them to call so we could hash this out at a later time.3. I could do nothing, wake up at 3 am, lay in bed thinking about it until I pull myself down to my computer to blog about it in the middle of the night.Hello option number 3!So here are my thoughts:Maybe you can tell me. Did Jesus tell us somewhere that it was more holy to serve rather than pray?Just off the top of my head I remember Jesus leaving people He was healing and teaching to run off to a secluded place to pray. I remember Jesus telling Martha to chill out because Mary, who had chose not to serve, had chose the right thing, sitting at the feet of Jesus. I know instances where Jesus makes sure we know it is our duty as Christ followers to take care of those who are in need, it’s not optional, it’s part of who we are, it’s how others will know that we are His. But holier than prayer?I know people who are such powerful prayer warriors. I mean people who approach the throne of God with a boldness, reverence and power few of us have found. They seem to pray on a level most never reach and God hears them (Yes, I know He hears all of us, no need to comment). You know, the person that you always make sure gets your prayer request because it seems like she/he has a “direct line” to God. And I’ll be honest, I know a few of them that are younger but most of them I know are older women and men that have learned that kind of prayer by relying on it throughout a life of needing it. They have spent nearly a lifetime seeking God and now it’s just what they do. They do it for themselves and we ought to be thankful that they also do it for us. They approach God and petition Him for us and that is their service. If you are one of them, thank you for your service.Lastly, I would like to add this. I am a service person. I love serving. In fact I like finding unusual and uncomfortable ways to serve. BUT, it’s not easy. If I have learned anything it’s that if you are serving in the radical ways I think that Jesus called us to serve, getting out of our comfort zones and seeking the truly lost, truly hungry, truly lonely we have to step out onto the ledge. We have to go into places, and I mean that physically and spiritually, where we have lost all control and God is the only one who knows why or how your are doing what you are doing. If you are serving like that, to that radical “change the world” sort of capacity you will also be, no you will HAVE to be, in prayer a whole lot more than you are in service. Prayer is what sustains the service!So you may wonder why this bothered me as much as it did? It goes back to what my friend said on the PC blog post Reflections about the email she received. She was put off by the fact that the end of the email felt threatening because it told her that if she did not forward the email that meant she was ashamed of Jesus and it used scripture to back it’s claim. I have this vision of me before Jesus in heaven as He reviews my “list,” “Well Jennifer, I see you loved to serve the homeless, you preached the Gospel any time you were given a chance, and I really liked that teen ministry you started, but what about this email you didn’t forward?” Then He shouts in Soup Nazi fashion, “No heaven for you! NEXT!” Seriously, an email, this is where we draw the line?As I backed out of my parking space yesterday I looked in my rearview to see another car that had lettered “Jesus is Lord” (Once again like professional lettering, what is with that?). Well ok, I thought, I can get on board with that one. But honestly what is our obsession with plastering our faith on the one place most of us become the most unholy? I think what I dont like most is that I feel that something like that does more harm than good. I think someone who does not know Christ looks at the back of that car that says that people who serve are better than people who pray and they just see us Christians as being judgmental even of ourselves. Why in the world would they want to be part of that?What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts on why we plaster our cars, of all places, with Jesus. Or you could just cast your vote: Who is holier? Those who serve or those who pray? (Just kidding)Live Life on a Mission (It requires a LOT of prayer)JenI am going back to bed!
 
 
The following are the words of my good friend Jordan. Jordan is 18 and just graduated High School a couple of weeks ago. I could tell you so many awesome things about Jordan but you’re about to see for yourself. These are her thoughts after attending the Bridge Ministry Tuesday night with Project Collide:

Humbled. That’s the word at the forefront of my mind, last night and today. Now I’ve been on my fair share of mission trips, gone on my fair share of mission work days with the youth group-but never, EVER have I felt the way I did last night than I ever have serving elsewhere.  I think it felt more… real. Like this isn’t just a project miles away that we leave and come home from and forget about-this is an ongoing ministry to a crisis I never thought was an issue in the city I love so much.   Most have that “it could never be that bad here” mentality; I’m quite guilty of that myself.  We always look towards other states and countries to serve (which is not a bad thing at all), but who knew there was such an outcry for help right under our eyes? I sure didn’t.                   The fact that these people- men, women, even children (including babies that broke my heart!) are living on the streets of Nashville and still willing (some more than willing) to worship and praise God made my heart skip a beat. I don’t know about you, but I know the one thing I would not want to be doing if I was in their shoes was praising God. I’d be questioning God, yelling and screaming, asking why me-and I bet these people have at some point. But the fact that standing there today there were willing to believe, worship, even dedicate their lives for Christ, put me in the most humbling place I’ve ever walked into.

The Bridge Ministry shows how one willing person can-and is- making a difference in this world, starting right in the heart of our state. The fact that this one little woman with a passion for the poor can turn the Jefferson Street Bridge into a living, spirit-filled church-not only for the homeless, but for the ones volunteering- amazes me to no end. The day before we went to the Bridge, I was having one of those days where I can’t stop thinking and worrying-as a worry wart, I tend to have these days often:  I decided to turn everything off for one hour-computer, TV, lights-the noise that was cluttering my mind- and just lay down and think, pray, and think some more. I asked God to take away the noise- both literally and figuratively, take away the stresses and worries I was having- college, family issues, money, etc,- and let me hear His voice. That was my prayer. Direct me, guide me, show me the way-cause I am tired of trying to guide myself (I’m one of those people that doesn’t like others having control-so this is a hard thing for me to own up to and ask). As I was laying there I heard “Trust in the Lord” in my ear. I smiled and thought-maybe that’s what He’s been trying to tell me, guess I’ll work on that.

So I prayed that I would trust Him and all He wanted to do with me.  I felt a bit better and didn’t think of it again till Tuesday night at the Bridge. As we helped these people, then sat and worshipped with them, I felt such a peace and felt the Holy Spirit moving among these people like I never have in any church service I’ve attended. No church robes, no acolytes, no communion-just the body of Christ ,praising and worshipping together. As I sat there and listened to the speaker talk about choosing the unlikely-choosing those with a willing heart- to be His people, I heard in the back of my head “do you hear me now?” God opened my eyes to His grace last night, for what feels like the first time. I am humbled beyond compare-and blessed to follow a God that puts this fire in our hearts to be willing to follow. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I fall-He is there, waiting for us to just come back. I want to be unlikely. I want to be willing. I want to worship Christ by being with His body, whether that is in a building or under a bridge. As I fell asleep last night, I was singing a song I know God put on my heart after the evening I’d had, and I pray the words come true for me: “Change my heart O God, make It ever true; change my heart O God, may I be like You.”  Who knew the best place to find God was under a Nashville bridge?

Wow! I have heard people who have been there say, “There is just something about being under that Bridge?” Thatsomething is undeniably God!

We have 11,000 homeless in Nashville. Is one Bridge enough? I feel God on the move are we going to go with Him? All it takes are willing hearts, even if we may think we are the unlikely.

If you’ve read any of my last posts you have to know how full my heart feels this morning reading Jordan’s words. Please join me in prayer that God will send more girls. That God will use Project Collide to continue to be a place where God and the hearts of teens collide. And that God will send more adults that want to help PC by being mentors, leaders, and of course provide for our outreaches. And more than anything join me in thanking Him for all He has done. We are blessed. If you have forgotten that we go again in two weeks. 

Please leave Jordan a comment here on the PC Blog Page. The Facebook comments go away too soon. If you leave them here they will be seen by ALL who read her blog not just our Facebook friends.

With a full heart,

Jen

 
 
The following is an excerpt from my personal Journal the day after I went to feed the homeless under the Bridge downtown. This is by far the scariest blog post yet because it is just a copy and paste of what I wrote in my computer journal the next day. First, my hope is that it will inspire you to seek Jesus in uncomfortable places. Secondly, the girls in our PC discussion group talked about journaling last week and I thought this may be helpful. My Journal:I feel like I went to church last night for the first time in my life.

I witnessed what I think Jesus had in mind when He said “Church.” Wow!What a place. I heard worship from voices that had collided with the power of the Holy Spirit. You could feel it. Followed by a message of forgiveness delivered with passion from a woman who has lived out her God-given, God-sized dream. I’ve been in churches that hold 50 and churches that hold 5,000 and nothing compares to the Church I saw last night. It had no walls, no doors, no stained glass windows, no heating or air condition just the wind of the Spirit. And boy was it blowing! The most unusual part of the “building” was the ceiling, as it was the underside of a Nashville inner-city bridge. Wet from the recent spring downpours, dirty (it’s under a bridge!), and messy, but in that very space I witnessed Christ like I never have before. I’ve been concentrating on Isaiah 58:6-9 lately. In fact I’ve been trying to memorize it. I like to memorize scripture not be more knowledgeable or to be able to spout if off and impress my friends but to internalize God’s Word. Memorization has given the Word power in my life. I takes something outside of me and unknown to me and brings it into my innermost being and before I know it, it’s become part of me. I’ve been having an inner struggle lately over the next generations. My heart is breaking for them. All at the same time God has been drawing me to Isaiah 58 and what Jesus calls the “least of these” in our society. I really want to start to lean into this place God is placing me. I think I am to give teens a place to live out Isaiah 58 and the New Testament call of Jesus to feed His sheep. I have always thought that if we are depressed and get a bad case of the “All About Me’s,” if we would get out and help someone, that we would find healing. Let me ask you like Isaiah would ask you:Are you desperate for some light to break through like the dawn in your life? Do you need healing quickly? Do you long for a right relationship with God to be paramount in your life? Do you need to feel that God has your back? Do you long to hear God’s voice say “Here am I.” (Isaiah 58:8-9)I do!We need healing, we need help, we need God, and God looks at us and says then show all of that to someone else:“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”Those are the words that come just before…this next word; Then!Not before, not with good intentions, but THEN! After you have helped another. Wait it gets better the next word is YOUR!“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: HERE AM I.” Do you need a breakthrough?THEN:Fight where you see injustice.Share your food with the hungry.Provide shelter for the wanderer. Clothe the naked.Do not turn away from your own flesh and blood (And that is not just your biological family it’s the family you came into when you joined the family of God).Last night I had the chance to look into the eyes of much of my own “flesh and blood” and it was gut wrenching and beautiful all at the same time. My place of service allowed me not only the opportunity but the great honor of touching each hand there. Every time I prayed that God would bless those hands and that “flesh and blood” they are joined to. Yesterday I posted something on Facebook on teen suicide that got some heated discussion going. I know there is not just one answer to the many problems facing our teens. But I do know that there are some teens that are needlessly dying. They have problems and their problems are real. They are problems that with the help of others maybe they can see that God can make a miracle of their mess. They are NOT problems worth dying for!I think God is calling me to them. I have been praying for my passion and my purpose to have a holy collision and I believe that it has right here on the pages of Isaiah and under a blessed bridge in the middle of Nashville, Tennessee. God please give me vision. Give me the next steps and Lord please give me some “other boats” (you know what I mean).I have no idea why you placed me on this side of unfair but God thank you! Thank you for showing me what Church is all about and thank you for each of those faces and hands last night. What I witnessed last night did not happen by dreaming small and being afraid to have you call us out on the water to walk. Lord, teach me to walk on water and help me to believe when I get there. Silence the wind, that voice in my head, and let me hear nothing but the violent, beautiful sound of the Holy Spirit blow throughout this world! AmenLive Life on A Mission!Jen
 
 
This is a post that a teen friend of mine posted yesterday on Facebook. I asked her if I could use this for our first PC guest blog post and she agreed. I can’t tell you how perfect this post is for our first post. Over the last few years I have read endless amounts of books on how different generations view Christianity, especially concentrating on generations of those behind mine, and what my friend expresses here are not just her views, they are the views of a LARGE percentage of people her age.

When I asked if I could use this for the PC Blog she agreed but she asked if I would keep it anonymous. Not because she was hiding from what she was saying but because she wanted to resist the temptation to receive acknowledgement. WOW! If you ask me, “Why Project Collide?” my answer would be right here on this page.

Reflections:

Today I’ve been thinking – is religion really all it’s cracked up to be? Earlier today I was working on a French assignment in which I was to find a map detailing the Muslim advances in the Battle of Tours and write a paragraph about it in French. I did an image search on Google, and the results were highly varied. They included, among others, images from sources describing the history of Islam from ancient history to the present times. Some of these images revealed deep-seated bigotry (not surprising, but still disturbing). For instance, I came across a logo saying, “No Islam,” and a photo of someone holding a sign saying something anti-Semitic (I can’t remember the exact wording). It dawned on me, as it has in the past, that it’s not just the Muslims who are persecuting Christians, and it’s not just the Christians who are persecuting members of other religions. The hatred is on all sides. It makes me so sick that I am reluctant to ascribe to any religion in particular. I believe in God, but the God I believe in is one who wants us to love everyone in the world, regardless of their faith traditions.

This point about the faultiness of religion was driven home to me again when I checked my email this evening. I was part of a group that had received a chain email with the standard sayings about Jesus: “He had no slaves, yet people called Him Master;” “He had no army, yet kings feared Him;” and the like. I would have no problem with this except that the end was so in-your-face; it said something like, “If you ignore this email, remember that Jesus said, ‘He who denies me, I will deny before my Father in Heaven.’” This made me so angry; I felt that my faith was being threatened (although I know it was nothing personally directed at me). I thought, “How dare you!” to the person who sent this email, but then I heard a little voice saying, “Peace, peace, my child.” Then I did have peace, somewhat; my anger melted into sadness. The disrespect from some people who claim to be Christian made me think that I’m not sure I even want to be associated with the Christian religion. I am far from giving up my faith, but I am not sure I would call myself a religious person anymore. I may not be what many people would call a “Christian” (although I think I still am), but I am and always will be a follower of God.

She told me that she originally posted this to start a conversation. I hope for the same thing.

Please share the Project Collide Blog on your facebook page, or through email. I’m not asking for acknowledgement for myself or even Project Collide as a program, I want these girls to be heard.

Live Life on A Mission!

Jen

A big thank you to my friend who wrote these words and allowed me to place them on the PC blog. You’re an awesome young lady and God has BIG plans for you!!


 
 

Project Collide met for the first time last night and we had a blast! I think that us leaders had just as much fun as the girls. I feel so blessed this morning that God is allowing me to be part of the lives of these girls.

Last night we began to talk about forming our Life Mission Statement. We discussed how when God calls us Princess what He really has in mind is a Warrior Princess. And I can tell you I have a great group of girls here who are not afraid to get their tiaras dirty.

Let me tell you some ideas they have:

Princess For a Night for underprivileged girls in Wilson County. We would work with local agencies to invite special girls to join us for a night of tiaras, nail painting, hair curling, dress up, princess movie, etc…All for some young girls who may not know that God calls them Princess!

Handing out Project Collide water to people running at the Greenway (after our Saturday coffee shop study  ). And at other locations like the Mt. Juliet Skate Park.

Tutoring kids in after-school programs at local Elementary schools.

Cook at meal for the ladies at The Next Door Nashville, a transition home for women just released from prison or rehab situation.

The other group I serve with, Ablaze, is going to the Next Door Nashville in August and Project Collide girls are going to come along to serve burgers, dogs and all the usual stuff to the ladies and their families. This gathering is often the first interaction some of the girls have with family since prison or rehab. It’s a great family outreach.

There were so many ideas I cant remember them all! Maybe the girls will comment and remind me 

I have asked them to guest blog also. We want Project Collide to have their fingerprints ALL over it!

But I can tell you this…we are all excited about Project Collide and what God is up to through every one of us. A BIG thank you to the leaders last night (Amy, Colleen, Kelly and Terri). Talk about a group of women that have a heart for teen girls…we’ve got them!

All the girls received a book last night titled “One Girl Can Change the World” and we are going to be reading it together as well as discussing it together on our “secret” Facebook page. If you missed night one but would like to join us let me know and I will get you a book and include you on our secret discussion page on Facebook.

Next week we head out for our first service project: Bridge Ministry in Downtown Nashville to serve the homeless under the Jefferson Street Bridge. You can see more about that at the link from our website. If you need more information please see projectcollide.org or contact me at 517-8152.

Living Life on A Mission!

Jen Mulford

 
 
If you haven't figured it out yet, I am an avid reader. I LOVE to read. It's a love I have just discovered over the last 6 or so years. But, for what I missed in the years before I have made up for quickly. All that said just because I'm realizing my blog posts usually start like this; "I recently read a book called..."

So with that said, I recently read a book called Quitter by Jon Acuff. Quitter is about closing the gap between your dream job and your day job. "How does this relate to Project Collide?" you may be asking yourself. I am so glad you asked because I would love to tell you!

One section in the book talks about the generations of adults of our time as being the "I'm a __________, but I want to be a ______________." generation. For example; I'm a computer programmer but I want to be a pilot. I'm a teacher but I want to be a writer. Get the picture? And it's so true, isn't it? Many of us took a job, maybe we even went through years of college for that job, that we liked. Maybe we still like it. But somewhere along the way we have brushed up against something we love. And that is where the tension between our day job and our dream job begins.

I wonder if that doesn't come from not setting out into the world with a clear life mission. Our life mission is much different from our job. Jobs can change but life mission should act as a rudder steering us to our destiny. Claudia Mitchell & Kim Goad explain it like this, "Without a life mission, we can be tempted to run willy-nilly, getting involved in any project (no matter how worthwhile) that people ask us to-without considering whether it's truly the best use of our time and talents." Any other guilty willy-nillys out there? Wish you could see both of my hands up high.

This is some of what we will be discussing throughout our "One Girl Can Change the World" study this summer with Project Collide. We will spend time discussing gifts, talents, dreams, jobs and life mission. My hope is that girls who are part of Project Collide will, over time, develop a clearer vision for their life calling not just through study but mostly through experience. I know a few adults reading this right now know what it feels like to live the "I'm a ______________, but I want to be a _________________." life. If you are, encourage a girl you know to join us this summer. God not only has a life purpose (or mission) for each of us, He is a life purpose. I would be honored to assist Him in encouraging a girl you love to find both.