Dear Table Nation,
It is the end of another amazing year where we continue to learn what it means to 'Love our Neighbors' as ourselves. I want to thank all of you for helping The Franklin Table do the work and fulfill the calling of Pastoring the City of Franklin and Williamson County. It is truly a blessing, but every one of our ministers and ministries would say the City and County have also helped us in so many ways and we are thankful for them too! We are privileged to work with wonderful civil servants and a broad society of caring people. Franklin is a wonderful place to live.
However, there is still much work to be done. Tennessee's divorce rate (among all fifty States) is second only to Nevada. We still have single moms who cannot get work and children who cannot read. Affordable housing for our poorest citizens remains a struggle and mental health issues plague our communities of need. Living wage jobs are scarce as are minority owned businesses and those coming out of prison have little or no chance of getting back into the main stream of life. The lack of beauty and need for art, helping 'at risk' children and teens, quality education, health care, decent rental housing and food programs continue to rise up as immediate demands, but these are only a few of the important challenges we face in the coming year. Issues surrounding immigration and new arrivals, gun laws, drug enforcement etc… All of it leads us to prayer for God's guidance and the practice of God's loving kindness. From my embarrassing weeping at the 21st Drug Court and Alcohol Rehab meetings (realizing how life changing the work of restoring our neighbors who are addicted to drugs and alcohol really is) to my stunned expression as I walked through the new Hard Bargain Association Community Center understanding how much love and work went into this state of the art facility and how it is already being used by the Hard Bargain community. As well as looking out my home office window at the Hard Bargain Garden which had another year of success and the new playground just beyond it which is constantly being used along with our super fine 'horse shoe' pits! I know that I am a blessed man!
As always, my now longtime friends Sonny, JJ, Big John, Emily, Emmaline, Ms. Francis, Jimmy, Patrick and a host of other neighbors have been growing closer to us as we all recognize that loving each other is not hard, we know how to love—it just costs you your life! Denny Denson who gave his life for the poor remains the silent but screaming member and sidekick of our work and he is and would be so proud to see the efforts being made to restore and transform this place! The Empty Hands Fellowship was a work pioneered by Denny and this week we hosted Dr. Andrew Boswell who spoke on marriage and family issues. He said just like we teach our children how to drive during our entire life simply by allowing them to observe our driving habits (ouch) so our kids learn about marriage by watching us relate as husbands and wives—bigger ouch!
On a personal note, thank you for your support throughout the year and for those who still might want to join us and come on board with our work, please consider an end of the year gift to The Franklin Table. All donations are tax deductible, please send to 959 Glass Street, Franklin TN 37064. Linda and I continue to depend on the generosity of our co-laborers as we work to Carry, Coach and Connect… those within our reach.
Finally, I am so engaged with my heart right now that I have to trust in TEAM ROLEY who are the thinkers and the planners in my life to help settle me down! The Gospel is so real to me as I walk the streets of Hard Bargain and just smile and say hello to my many neighbors. You have made that possible and please know this— the racial, denominational and cultural reconciliation that goes on through the Safe House is exactly the same loving kindness you give your neighbors in your communities, it is a revival of Heavenly Hospitality that shows the deep love of God to everyone.
Linda and I are praying for you, that God blesses and touches you in the power of The Gospel and that Jesus leads you into all He is doing to capture the hearts of those who need Him most! Merry Christmas and may next year produce a continued harvest of souls for the Kingdom.
I am your friend and servant,
I look forward as Jesus leads us ..."acting in line with the truth of the Gospel." Galatians 2:14
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Please continue to pray for...Against The Grain, Barefoot Republic, Empty Hands Fellowship, Feed Franklin First, FrankTown Open Hearts, Graceworks Ministries, High Impact Teen Ministry, Ken Turner Ministries, Jobs For Life, McCann, Hubbard & Solomon, Mercy Children's Clinic, New Hope Academy, R.E.A.L. Christian Foundation, The Samson Society, Shepherding The Next Generation, Stites & Harbison Law Offices, Synago Pastors Fellowship, The Family Dynamics Institute, The Hard Bargain Association, The Red Road, The Timothy Center and Thriftsmart.