Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
As we launch into 2016 and begin following along with our monthly themes, January’s focus will be on both our mission statement and our core value of ‘excellence’. Just as a reminder from my newsletter on January 1st, our monthly missional themes and accompanying Bible verses can be found on our ‘Missional Year at a Glance’ poster. (see above picture. I would include the actual document here but this email format doesn’t allow for attachments) If you’d like an electronic or hard copy (or both), please do respond to this email and we will send you one as a gift from Toronto Housing and Homeless Supports.
I was reflecting on the above passage when preparing to write this email. Saint Paul, the author of this passage, was once considered as the most feared man around by early Christians. He hated Christianity and did everything he could to snuff it out. He killed and jailed as many Christians as he could find. He was considered ‘un-redeemable’ by the church. But then a miracle happened; God spoke to him and he turned his whole life around. He became a strong advocate for Jesus and did everything he could to give the church a strong footing. People who once feared him and believed him to be avoided at all cost, welcomed him into the fold and viewed him in many ways as their leader and teacher. Paul was not the ‘lost cause’ everyone had believed him to be. God is bigger than Paul.
Paul’s words live on today. He asks us to spend time thinking about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and whatever is excellent. Just think about them. That’s all he asks. Because he knows that if we focus on those things in our thoughts, they will overflow into our actions. I believe he was right.
In our work among folks who live on or close to the streets, we sometimes meet individuals that we believe are ‘too far gone to be helped’. Then, once in a while, we have the privilege of witnessing the light come back into their eyes and lives. We are happily proven wrong by the incredible changes we see in people. And we are reminded once again that there are no ‘lost causes’. God is bigger than any issue we may face on these streets; bigger than crack cocaine, bigger than schizophrenia, bigger than homelessness.
So as we go about our work, let’s keep on thinking about these most excellent things so that our thoughts will continue to overflow into our day-to-day lives.
And in the meantime, continue striving to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City’.
Dion Oxford, Director of Mission Integration
God bless to me this year, never entrusted to me before. It is to bless your own presence that you have given me this moment, O Lord.
Bless to me my eye and everything it shall see. Bless to me my neighbor – may my neighbor be a blessing to me.
Bless to me my household and all my dear ones. Bless to me my work and all that belongs to your provision.
Give me a clean heart, that I may not need to hide from you one moment of this New Year.
– Celtic Blessings, Prayer for Everyday Life, Ray Simpson, Loyola Press