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“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Standing Firm
Welcome to the Lord’s Gym Ministries’ blog. Here you will find updates on the good things God is doing in Cincinnati and the Greater Tir-state area. You’ll also find words of encouragement and learn about how you can have a part in God’s grand plan for our community.

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Thank you for reading our blog. In the coming weeks leading up to Christmas you will be reading our advent series, Who Jesus Came For. At the end of eacsdfasdadadfgdfg

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” Luke 1:26-28

Can you imagine what this must have been like? It was shocking to say the least. Mary was troubled by it herself; she wondered what this could mean.

The angel assured: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

What?! Not only was she going to be pregnant without “knowing a man,” but the Baby – God’s Son – would be the ruler of the world? For Mary this was surprising for she was just a young woman in a time where women were not considered to be of high importance.

To really put yourself in Mary’s sandles, take a moment to travel back to her time. According to www.bbc.co.uk, Jewish women in first century Palestine had “very limited legal and economic rights.”

  • A woman’s earned wages would go to the man of the household.
  • Women didn’t have the right to divorce, but the husband could. In fact, most inheritances that she received would go to her husbandand he’d keep the children.
  • Women were betrothed to marry – the choice of husband was made by the family, not by the girls themselves.

In this society, women were the lowest in their household. Yet, God chose to bring the good news of Jesus’ coming first to a woman.

It was unexpected. It was counter culture. And it was done in great love and power. God certainly cared for the women in Mary’s time period.

Centuries later, in America – the land of the free – women are considered to be equal among their male counterparts. Still, there are struggles. Women are sometimes treated as if they’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Some deal with mistreatment by turning to drugs and living on the streets. Some even fall victim to human trafficking – their bodies sold for another’s profit.

They may seem to be the lowest of the low. But just as the Lord loved women in the times before Jesus’ birth, He loves these women even more dearly.

Today He reaches out to these women… through you… to show them love in practical ways and to offer them hope for a new life in Christ Jesus. Our STORM bus ministry operates Tuesdays and Fridays, to help and care for women living on the streets in Price Hill. Visit Get Involved for more information on volunteering.

Follow Gabriel’s lead this Christmas season, bless these women with the good news of Jesus. After all, they are indeed the one’s for whom Christ came.

FOCAS FOUNDER DICK TAYLOR’S HOME-GOING

FOCAS Founder Dick Taylor

Our good friend, brother in the Lord, and founder of FOCAS, was called home by God on Jan. 2. Read his obituary here: http://bit.ly/DickTaylor.

The funeral service will be 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, at Montgomery Assembly of God Church in Blue Ash. Viewing is from 4-6.p.m. It is our hope and prayer that you will be able to come to celebrate Dick’s home-going. Please forward this to others as appropriate.

Please, pray for the family as they mourn their loss.

We would also appreciate hearing from you if you’d like to share any found memories of Dick. Email sbowers@focas-us.org.

Here are a few tributes:

“Dick was a remarkable man of God. I worked with Anne years back in Over-the-Rhine at the Lord’s Pantry. Both Dick and Anne and their ministry lives made a lasting impression on me and all those God touches through me now.” – Amy Colleen Kapp 

“Dick Taylor was always a source of encouragement to us both personally and in ministry. I don’t remember a conversation with him that he didn’t smile or offer a word of encouragement.” – The Hembree Crew

“Dick and Anne Taylor are beloved friends and ministers of the Derstines and the Christian Retreat church family. They had a mobile home here on campus (in Florida) for years as ‘winter residents.’ Their love for God and people was undeniable and they were always a pleasure to be around. I was blessed to accompany Dick to Haiti on a crusade and also ministered at the gym in Cincinnati a few times. Thanks Dick for your generous support of Christian Retreat and our international mission outreaches. You will never be forgotten and we will catch up with you in heaven. –  Pastor Phil Derstine

“We loved Dick and Anne so much and so valued their amazing example and ministry to the body of Christ. I remember hearing testimonies of the ministry in Haiti, serving sandwiches with the Lord’s Pantry, doing open-air ministry-services in the old Washington Park and Christmas caroling in the bars in Over-the Rhine in ’89 and ’90. When we walked through the doors, jukeboxes and TVs were turned off, and respect and attention was shown to Dick and Anne. They earned the respect of everyone they met!! So happy they’ve been reunited in glory with their Savior.” – Jamie Cook

WE CAN’T SAY IT ENOUGH…

Thank you!

As Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:2, so we feel about our supporters and volunteers – “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.”

We thank you for taking time to follow this ministry. We thank you for your support of our staff and our friends. We really can’t say it enough. As the new year approaches, we hope that you’ll continue investing  in opportunities that save lives, both on earth and for heaven. We hope that in turn, you will be blessed in every area of your life. Please, be sure to keep up with us by reading our blog or subscribing to our bi-monthly email or our newsletters. We leave you with this blessing from Numbers 6:24-26.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”

WHO DID JESUS COME FOR? PART 4

Advent

Thank you joining us on this advent journey. The final part of the four-week series, “Who Jesus Came For,” is about you. Again, at the end of this blog post, there will be a challenge for you to share God’s love.

Scripture: Matthew2:21 and 23.

Throughout this series, we’ve learned that the King of Kings came to earth as a little child for those in the greatest of need… the oppressed (women), the downtrodden (shepherds) and the least (children). He came for all of us.

Matthew 1:21, says: “And she shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for he shall save His people from their sins.”

We all make mistakes and have done wrong. We all need Jesus.

This month, we’ve challenged you to share God’s love by taking part in the many volunteer and giving opportunities available through Lord’s Gym Ministires – STORM (helping women on the street); The Lord’s Gym (for men in all walks of life); and the Family Activity Center (for children and their families). Visit Get Involved or http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving, to learn more.

This week, the week of the holy birth, we want you to take time to think about you.

Ponder this statement: “Jesus came for me.” Say it out loud: “Jesus came for me.”

If you had been the only one in need, He still would have came. Jesus makes this perfectly clear when teaching in Luke chapter 15. He tells the crowd: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

“And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’”

He continued, telling the crowed, that it is the same “in heaven over one sinner who repents.”

He shared another parable too about a woman who lost a coin, turned her house upside down for that coin and rejoiced when it was found.

You see, you either are lost or you were once lost. God turned His kingdom upside down to find you. Jesus, His Son, the King of Kings; came to earth as a little child. He grew up serving those in need through healing, teaching, and loving. Then, He died. Taking on your sin, He died on the cross, so that you could be made blameless. Most importantly, He arose from the dead – fully defeating sin and death – just so that you might live forever in heaven.

This is your challenge this week. Take a break from the festivities to think over the reason for the season. Have you accepted His greatest of gifts? If you haven’t and you want to, simply pray to God: “Heavenly Father, please forgive me of all my sins. Thank you so much for Jesus. I am a sinner. I need Jesus. I accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Amen.”

If you have already prayed this prayer, rejoice!. Rejoice in God’s great gift to you. Simply love Him in return by building your relationship with Him and telling others about His love.

WHO DID JESUS COME FOR? PART 3

Advent

Thank you for reading our blog. Welcome to our advent series, “Who Jesus Came For.” Part three is about children and their importance to the kingdom of heave. Note: Jesus came into this world as a little child. Again, at the end of this blog post, there will be a challenge for you to share God’s love.

Scripture: Luke 2:1-7

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-7

At last, the greatest of gifts, is offered to mankind. Jesus. Simply, swaddled in cloths lying in a manger.A humble beginning to an extraordinary life a life that did not end with death on this earth, but resurrection power. In His death He saved us from sin and in His resurrection He brought us eternal life. It all began with Jesus coming as a little child.

In Jesus’ time children, according to Christianity.com, were considered to be of little value to the wider life of the community. In Greece and Rome, it was an accepted practice to abandon unwanted children along the roadsides to die.

The Bible is explicit, however, when it comes to children. They are declared a blessing from God. Jesus, as an adult, had a real heart for young ones.

According to Matthew 19:13, little children were brought to Jesus so that He could put His hands on them and pray. The disciples, however, rebuked them. Jesus responded without hesitation: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

In Luke 9:46-47, the disciples were grumbling over which of them would be the greatest.

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside Him. He said to His disciples, “Whoeverwelcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

What a concept Jesus is sharing. The least… the smallest… the weakest.. is actually the greatest. That’s what Jesus entire ministry was about. Here He is, the King of Kings and He came to Earth borne in a stable and lived a life of servant hood.

In a previous story in Matthew, chapter 18, Jesus explains that greatest in the kingdom of heaven is like a little child.

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.

Think about a child. They love unconditionally and they believe faithfully. These are things we all need to practice as adults. Jesus says: “… whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

He goes on to say, in verse 5: “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:3-5.

So, here’s your challenge…

At Lord’s Gym Ministries we have the Family Activity Center (FAC) in Price Hill where you can serve at-risk youth and their parents. can serve at-risk youth, and their parents. At the FAC, you can provide encouragement to these children to become involved in healthy activities that promote positive life skills at school and at home, while nurturing their relationship with God if they so choose.

Visit us today at Get Involved or http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

WHO DID JESUS COME FOR? PART 2

Advent

Thank you for reading our blog. Welcome to our advent series, “Who Jesus Came For.” Part two is about the Shepherds. Again, at the end of this blog post, there will be a challenge for you to share God’s love.

Scripture: Luke 2:820

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” Luke 2:8-9

According to Randy Alcorn, author of “Shepherd Status,” at the time of Christ’s birth, “shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder… The same status as tax collectors and dung sweepers.”

Shepherding was once a noble occupation, however, during the time of the Patriarchs. The wealthy sons of Isaac and Jacob, for example, tended flocks, as revealed in Genesis 30:29; 37:10.

When the Israelites came to Egypt, they discovered a different way of life. Egyptians were agriculturalists, Alcorn explains. “As farmers, they despised shepherding because sheep and goats meant death to crops. Battles between farmers and shepherds are as old as they are fierce.”

Egyptians considered sheep worthless, their art and historical records portray shepherds negatively.

In the course of 400 years, living among the the Egyptians the Israelites’ attitude toward shepherding was prejudiced. “Shepherding became a menial vocation for the laboring class,” Acorn says. “These men could not fulfill judicial offices or be admitted in court as witnesses.” Some shepherds of course earned their poor reputations, while others fell victim to stereotyping. Self-righteousness religious leaders labeled shepherds as “sinners.”

Yet, these lowly souls were the first to hear the Good News: “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:10-12.

Suddenly, there came a multitude of the heavenly host praising God: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Ah what a sight that must have been. What a grand gesture, as well to these lowest of the low. During the Christmas story, God once again surprises us. He didn’t choose the supreme religious leaders or the elite class to be the first to know of the Savior’s birth. Instead, He announced the coming of His Son to the simple shepherds. Again, this was counter culture; a bold move. Makes you think.

Who are the “shepherds” of our time? Those in poverty? What about those with little social status but all the judgment – addicts, drug dealers, prisoners? Yeah, those people who are “sinners,” who we often don’t associate with.

Lord’s Gym Ministries has a mission to serve those lowly lost souls. Because, in fact, the “sinners” are why Jesus came, as He states Himself in Mark 2:17. We operate The Lord’s Gym at various times during the week at three locations, Covington, Queensgate and Price Hill. The gym is a weight-lifting, work out, and long-term discipleship program designed to teach at risk men principles to avoid destructive lifestyles while nurturing their relationship with God.

Your challenge: Come. Meet these men. Offer them hope by sharing Jesus with them. Visit us today at Get Involved or http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving. The results, you may find surprising. So many men have come through our doors broken and utterly lost. Yet, so many leave with Jesus – Who fixes their brokenness and offers them a safe forever home. These men are now spreading the Good News with others, just like the shepherds God sent His angel to.

“Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 2:17-18.

WHO DID JESUS COME FOR? PART 1

Advent

Thank you for reading our blog. In the coming weeks leading up to Christmas you will be reading our advent series, Who Jesus Came For. At the end of each blog post, we will present you with a challenge to share God’s love. The first in this four-part series is about Mary.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” Luke 1:26-28

Can you imagine what this must have been like? It was shocking to say the least. Mary was troubled by it herself; she wondered what this could mean.

The angel assured: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

What?! Not only was she going to be pregnant without “knowing a man,” but the Baby – God’s Son – would be the ruler of the world? For Mary this was surprising for she was just a young woman in a time where women were not considered to be of high importance.

To really put yourself in Mary’s sandles, take a moment to travel back to her time. According to www.bbc.co.uk, Jewish women in first century Palestine had “very limited legal and economic rights.”

  • A woman’s earned wages would go to the man of the household.
  • Women didn’t have the right to divorce, but the husband could. In fact, most inheritances that she received would go to her husbandand he’d keep the children.
  • Women were betrothed to marry – the choice of husband was made by the family, not by the girls themselves.

In this society, women were the lowest in their household. Yet, God chose to bring the good news of Jesus’ coming first to a woman.

It was unexpected. It was counter culture. And it was done in great love and power. God certainly cared for the women in Mary’s time period.

Centuries later, in America – the land of the free – women are considered to be equal among their male counterparts. Still, there are struggles. Women are sometimes treated as if they’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Some deal with mistreatment by turning to drugs and living on the streets. Some even fall victim to human trafficking – their bodies sold for another’s profit.

They may seem to be the lowest of the low. But just as the Lord loved women in the times before Jesus’ birth, He loves these women even more dearly.

Today He reaches out to these women… through you… to show them love in practical ways and to offer them hope for a new life in Christ Jesus. Our STORM bus ministry operates Tuesdays and Fridays, to help and care for women living on the streets in Price Hill. Visit Get Involved for more information on volunteering.

Follow Gabriel’s lead this Christmas season, bless these women with the good news of Jesus. After all, they are indeed the one’s for whom Christ came.

7 TIPS TO REMEMBER YOUR BLESSINGS

Tis the season to be thankful.

“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24

Tis the season to be thankful.

Here are some tips on how to count and remember your many blessings.

    1. Scatter reminders of encouragement around you throughout the day. Simply write your blessings on a post-it note and stick them on your bathroom mirror or around your car dashboard.
    2. Keep a journal. You can be as detailed or brief as you like. Take a notebook and just write down your blessings. Work on this each day. Maybe set aside a few minutes  in the morning or before bed. If you keep a daily planner or calendar, just write something from that day.
    3. Share with your family and friends. When you break bread, take a few moments to tell those around you at least one blessing from that day or your life.
    4. Pray. Be a blessing to God’s heart and let Him know how grateful you are for all He has done for you, is doing and will continue to do.
    5. Take an old glass jar and small strips of paper. Write down your blessings form the day and put them in the jar. See how full the jar gets. At the end of the year, read all your notes.
    6. If you have kids, grab a large sheet of poster or foam board and draw a tree. Cut out a set of 30 or 31 leaves out of colored construction paper (one for each month). Encourage your children to write a blessing each day and put it on the tree.
    7. Remissness. Take some time every once in a while to reflect on your life. Remember all the good things you’ve experienced and look at how far you’ve come.

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