An Encouraging Word

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Yolanda Carter, Lord's Gym Ministries Board Chairwoman

 

In 2020, we welcome a new chairperson, Yolanda Carter.

Yolanda, 50, of Union, has served on the Lord’s Gym Ministries Board for a year. She has volunteered with the organization for 17 years.

Since introduced to Lord’s Gym Ministries, Yolanda has felt compelled by the heart the organization has for communities in need.

The leadership and staff that are really living into being the arms, heart and legs for Jesus to those who don't know Him or those who have accepted Him and are now on the path to living out their faith in their daily lives.”

Yolanda said the work “we do literally saves lives in this life and the next.” She said it never ceases to amaze her to watch the Lord “work His magic all across the Tri-state area.”

According to Yolanda, being board chair, means you are to be a resource, to unlock the potential of others, and grow the network of people and organizations helping to bring Lord's Gym Ministries vision and mission to life.

As chairwoman, she wants to:

  • Learn.  "I want to grow closer to those we serve to understand their needs."
  • Share.  "I want to work with partner organizations and individuals to share our vision and mission to bring them along on our journey and grow our outreach."
  • Grow.  "I also want to support our staff in growing our leadership capabilities as our ministry grows to help ensure we are all equipped to fulfill what God has called us to do in this community and beyond."

Yolanda’s top tree goals as board chair are:

  1. Ensuring we fulfill Lord’s Gym Ministries’ mission: GO to people in need in Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods, creating safe places, demonstrating God's love in practical ways by declaring the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, developing disciples for Christ and encouraging self-responsibility.

  2. Helping to create a sustainable financial model that support's our mission today and in the future.

  3. Building the ability to be fluid and flexible to God's will.

This chair appointment marks the first time a woman has officially taken the helm. Yolanda, however, doesn’t consider herself to actually be the first woman taking the lead.

“I have a firm conviction that Ann Taylor worked hand in hand with (her husband) Dick to shape and bring this ministry to life,” Yolanda said. “She was an amazing leader with a heart for those in need and an inspiration for me. I hope to be able to continue her legacy...leadership is comes in many forms all of which require a servants heart, a love of people and a powerful prayer life and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit when leading for God.”

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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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

 

 

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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."

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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 www.focas-us.org/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.

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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 www.focas-us.org/get-involved or http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

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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 2:8-20

“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 www.focas-us.org/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.

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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 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 byturning 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 www.focas-us.org/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.

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“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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If there’s anything you can learn from Britni Taylor’s story, it’s that it takes time.

“Consistency and longevity are critical components in the success of this ministry,” Price Hill Lord’s Gym chaplain Brandon Welch said.

According to Brandon, Britni is living proof of this. He first met Britni four years ago while he was driving the Lord’s Gym Bus, a ministry that serves women on the streets in Price Hill.

It was a rainy day when Britni caught her first glimpse of hope.

“I was so hungry I needed help and there was a bus that came to my rescue,” she said. Britni boarded, but didn’t say much. She simply grabbed a snack, drink and hygiene items.

“She had been on the streets for years,” Brandon recalled. “She was very angry, she was hard and emotionless. You see, heroin and other drugs and circumstances have a stronghold on these women. They have been beaten down. But, we know there is hope. Again, there is hope.”

Britni, for example,  took her first drink when she was 16 and “everything went downhill.”

“I started to use harder drugs,” she said. “I was looking for a way out of the trauma that I've been through in my life. When I was a little girl I was raped every day until I was 16. I felt so alone.”

Her life spiraled out of control.

“I started to mess with older guys trying to find someone to love me because I couldn't find love at home. Eventually I was out on the streets.”

Wrapped up in addiction she eventually lost her kids. She lost everything.
   
“I was so bad on drugs and running around midnight until dawn,” she said.

Brandon and the ministry team spent years building trust with Britni and speaking life over her.

“Little by little I witnessed the love of God pierce through that rough exterior and soften her heart, giving her hope for what life would look like off of the streets,” Brandon said.

About a year ago Britni showed up at the Price Hill gym and said: “I’m ready.”

She entered a recovery program and has been clean for more than a year. She’s working to get involved with her  kids and putting her life together.

“If it wasn't for Lord's Gym, I wouldn't have  had somewhere to eat somewhere to get clothes, or somewhere to find God,” Britni said. “They saved my life.”

 

*Britni's story first appeared in our end of the year newsletter.

 

 

If you'd like to be apart of lives transformed, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

 

Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

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A Price Hill dad, really appreciates Lord’s Gym Ministries’ activities for youth. the “comradery and the kids get to learn something new.”

(The activities are) a great way to get the kids off of the street and do something positive,” he said. “We absolutely appreciate the activities, comradery and that our kids get to learn something new.”

Two popular activities this past summer, were road and mountain biking. With the generous help of Wish for Wheels, a nonprofit that gives brand new bicycles and helmets to kids in low income communities, the activity of biking will be experienced by more kids.

Wish for Wheels was brought to the Cincinnati by Arington Foundation, a nonprofit organization and a private foundation, with the mission to spread the love and gospel of Jesus Christ by putting Christian values into action. The Foundation selected Lord's Gym to distribute the bikes.

A total of 100 black and yellow Huffy bikes and 100 blue helmets were given to second-grade students in Price Hill.

These bikes will provide hours of fun, exercise and adventure.

One of our parents, whose son played on the Lord’s Gym Titans’ tackle football team received a Wish for Wheels bike. (All of the second-grade football players received one of the new bikes.) The father of that player said that the football season helped his son to grow, have fun, and got him away from his video games. The bike will continue this growth.

A mother of a bike recipient said: “This is a real blessing. I really appreciate you guys.”

It has been a joy handing out the bikes,” Executive Director Scott Bowers said.

If you'd like to be apart of Lord's Gym Ministries, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

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Ryan's favorite thing about playing on the Lord's Gym Ministries football team, The Titans, was tackling.

"I like that I get to tackle," the study stout 8-year-old said. "I made friends too and my coach was really nice."

His grandmother Salina, said the football program has been a real blessing, in not only Ryan's life, but her life.

"I have loved this for him," she said. "He gets so excited playing and he loves his coach. This is really a great thing for our young people."

The Lord's Gym Titans and their families celebrated the season last week with a football banquet complete with dinner and trophies for each player and cheerleader.

Volunteer coach Erik is impressed with how the program brought the entire community together.

"I've loved working with the kids," he said. "It's been great showing them how to play, but also helping them find the right path in life. This has made a difference in their lives."

If you'd like to get involved with the Titans as a sponsor, coach, volunteer or supporter, please contact Lord's Gym at www.focas-us.org.

 

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"Let's go Titans, let's go!"

On Sunday, Oct 27, Elder High School hosted the Lord's Gym Titans, of Price Hill. The football team of children ages 6 to 7 played at the "The Pit" in their first ever championship game. They were up against the Baby Dawgs of neighboring Evanston.

It was a well fought game although the mighty Titans came up short to finish in a respectable second place for the season.

It is really a success for all of the teams, parents, and coaches in this league. The kids and coaches have been at it since the first week in June. They stayed the course for five months and did not quit or give up. You cannot learn a more valuable life lesson!

Great job!

If you'd like to get involved with the Titans as a sponsor, coach, volunteer or supporter, please contact Lord's Gym at www.focas-us.org.

 

 

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See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! John 3:1b

There once was a man walking along a road wearing a heavy jacket.

The wind whispered to the sun, "I bet I can get that jacket off of him."

The sun smiled bright. "Sure, give it a try."

So the wind took a deep breath and blew toward the man. The man lowered his head and pulled his jacket tighter around him.

The wind blew harder with all its might. The man clinched his jacket even tighter and pressed on in his walk.

"I couldn't do it," the wind said surprised.

The sun, again smiled and replied "Let me try."

The sun glowed and its warmth surrounded the man in the jacket. The man paused from his walk,  took off the jacket and slung it around his arm.

"There," said the sun. "All it took was some warmth."

This little story can be applied to real life. To get the jacket off, coldness didn't work. The harder the wind blew the more the man hung to the jacket determined to keep warm. However, some warmth and the man willingly slipped off the jacket. We need to be sunshine to others. If we want to see them shed their rough exteriors, get into recovery and change their lives... we need to show them love.

Think of how Jesus loves you. How He calls you, how we treats you. Spread the warmth.

Start by being a part of of Lord's Gym Ministries, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

 Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

 

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Price Hill second-grade students will receive more than a bicycle later this month.

According to American social reformer and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony: “She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.”

The statement is true for boys, as well.

In a short while, Lord’s Gym Ministries, with a generous donation from Wish for Wheels, will be distributing 100 black and yellow Huffy bikes and 100 blue helmets. Wish for Wheels is a nonprofit that gives brand new bicycles and helmets to kids in low income communities.

Wish for Wheels was brought to the Cincinnati by Arington Foundation, a nonprofit organization and a private foundation, with the mission to spread the love and gospel of Jesus Christ by putting Christian values into action. The Foundation selected Lord's Gym to distribute the bikes.

These bikes will provide hours of fun, exercise and adventure.

(The bikes will also) impart life lessons as our kids have will use their bike rides as a real life metaphor in their own life,” Executive Director Scott Bowers said. “If you expect to get where your destination, sometimes you just have to keep going even when you don’t feel like it.”

Many volunteers were gathered together through Arlington Foundation last weekend to build the 100 bikes. These bikes will be distributed later this month to Price Hill second-grade students at the Lord’s Gym Family Activity Center.

The special gift will bring great joy and help fulfill Lord’s Gym and Wish for Wheels’ goals to broaden these children’s scope for personal growth and a health lifestyle. The bikes will also serve as a reminder that God loves them and provides.

 

If you'd like to be apart of Lord's Gym Ministries, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

 

Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

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You read that right. There really is a mango in Japan that was purchased for a hefty $5,000.

Japan is actually well known for its luxury fruits sold at auction for big big bucks.

According to a YouTube program, Only In Japan, in Miyazaki, mangoes sell for $5,000. That’s quite a leap from the $1 mangoes at Aldi’s. But, how can a mango be worth so much? Is it the taste? The size? The smell? The color? The farmer? Or a grand marketing scheme?

There is a deep respect for the farmers from the buyers and the stores that sell these luxury fruits. These fruits do indeed stand out from the rest, as they are grown to be the best of the best.

So, how do you grow a $5,000 mango.

You plant the seed. You wait. Once they begin to blossom, you study the vine to find the best and you prune the rest. This enables those bests to grow even bigger and tastier, ergo better, perhaps $5,000 better.

It’s interesting to think of this nurturing process involves. Think of the pruning. So many baby mangoes are cut. It can’t be easy to make such cuts, but it’s necessary to get the best of the best.

This is much like how God works in our lives. In John 15, Jesus says: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

That can be hard to swallow. Pruning can feel so cruel at times. The trials you face in life can cut deep.

So, why is a loving God pruning you? So you can grow to be the best of the best.

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There’s a two-bedroom brick ranch in Roselawn that has been “such a blessing.”

 

Lord’s Gym Chaplain Steve Peterson speaks with pride when he talks about his home – the first he’s ever owned.

 

“It’s a comfortable place,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s my last stop. I’m pretty sure she’s going to last another 30 or 40 years.”

 

Steve purchased his home in 2015.

 

“There’s a lot I like about owning my own home,” he said. “I guess I like best the freedom of being able to do what I want, how I want to my space. It’s also brought me more stability.”

 

This sense of pride and stability are the foundation of Lord’s Gym Ministries Home Ownership Initiative.

 

"Home ownership offers stabilization, security and a sense of pride," Senior Project Manager Bob Clarke, who’s heading the project said. "This initiative will allow the Lords Gym to work close with our friends and mentor them through the process - building relationship."

 

So far, about 20 individuals or families are in the program.

 

The goal, Bob said, is to work with these individuals and families and help them set a goal and plan out how to stay on task so that they can reach that goal.

 

“This helps people stay more focused,” he said. “It also issues some accountability.”

 

Best of all, “it opens the door to general life coaching.”

 

The process, Bob said, will take time.

 

“A lot of the guys we work with haven’t had the benefits we have had growing up, like a family that encourages home ownership or knows about home ownership,” Bob said. “So, we’ll be providing insight on what it means to own a home, how to go about it and how to care for it.”

 

Bob said it’s all about building a relationship like a family.

 

“In that context, I can share from my own experiences to a friend and they can understand why home ownership is a helpful investment, how it can provide stabilization and a sense pride and fun.”

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Lord's Gym Ministries' mission statement begins with the word "GO."

"GO to people in need in Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods."

If you've been keeping up with the news of late, you know that these neighborhoods are getting more and more violent and deadly every day. Domestic violence, drug use, killings and death are regular occurrences for the friend we help.

They are not alone. God is with them and so are you. With your support, we are serving the Lord by serving our friends in their time of greatest need. You are on the front lines with us. These aren't battles between husband and wife or gang against gang. These are battles of good versus evil. It's spiritual warfare.

We recently held our Community Awareness Breakfast at the Kenwood Country Club and chaplains from each Lord's Gym location - Price Hill, Queensgate and Covington - shared stories of violence they have witnessed while on the front lines. (A few clips are shared in this blog post.)

Still they GO. Still, together, God, you and us, GO. Why? Jesus tells us to in Mark 16:15.

Please, encourage others to join us in this fight. Share with them the amazing things you are a part of - the amazing things the Lord is doing in such a time of great need.

If you'd like to serve, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved. if you'd like to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving. Be sure to follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym and Instagram (focas.lords.gym) for our latest news.

Our Mission Statement

GO to people in need in Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods.
CREATE safe places.
DEMONSTRATE God's love in practical ways.
DECLARE the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.
DEVELOP disciples of Jesus Christ.
ENCOURAGE self-responsibility.

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Queensgate Chaplain Steve Petersen

 

Steve Petersen, 55, can relate to many of the men who walk through the doors at the Queensgate Lord’s Gym.

 

Long before he was a part-time chaplain at the location, Steve struggled with drugs and alcohol.

 

I grew up in a God-believing family,” he said. “After I was hurt by the church, I walked away. I got into a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have.”

 

In his 40s, while in Cleveland, Steve lived across the street from a church. Church goers would visit his porch often to speak with him and pray for him.

 

They wore me down,” he laughed.

 

Their kindness and persistence changed his heart

 

I was re-baptised,” he said. “As a child I was baptised because I was told to. At age 42, I did it to show my dedication to the Lord and I knew what it meant.”

 

From there things changed in Steve’s life. He eventually came to Cincinnati and got on to his road to recovery. He since married and owns a home. He began working at Lord’s Gym, after several years of working out and volunteering in 2016.

 

I’m here because I can relate with a lot of the men because I know the paths their on,” Steve said. “I have empathy toward them. I have shared in their experience. Most importantly, I’m a living witness to the life-changing power of God.”

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Lord’s Gym Executive Director Scott Bowers recently made a 350-mile bike trek from the Covington Lord’s Gym to Cleveland, Ohio. Here are three take-a-ways from his journey…

 

1. It’s OK to put ourselves out there, pushing your limits (whatever that means to you) to grow beyond our limitations, mindsets and capacity. If you don’t, no one is going to do it for you. It can be done with reasonable risk and planning. You just don’t know how God is going to use it and how it might encourage other people. It’s OK to be scared. It won’t go perfectly. There will be some discomfort and pain. Give God a chance to show up.

2. Enjoy the journey! It’s not just about the destination. It’s what you learn and experience during the journey. Take time to take in the sights and smells. Getting lost and compensating stimulates the soul. It can make you appreciate the little things leading to a richer sense of contentment and confidence to try bigger things next.
 

3. I want to be used by God as he sees fit, and to be the best version of me I can me. That means working on my weaknesses and the things that don’t come easy to me. It’s OK to vary my pace. Keep checking in and report the waypoints. Take care of yourself and your equipment. The important thing is to persevere and keep pedaling toward the destination. Look on the horizon. Trust your map (plan). Get feedback from all possible sources.

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Melissa Reinert

Communications Coordinator

 

Last week I was given the opportunity to travel to the Great Smokey Mountains. I love visiting any area where I can view mountains towering gracefully over head. It reminds me of God’s majesty and sovereignty.

 

God’s glory is an important thing to remember as we’re here running the race. In times of trouble, in times of need; we need not fret. We have an almighty God who boldly goes before us and stands mightily beside us.

 

I Chronicals 29:11 says: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”

 

What a comfort to know that even when things are beyond our control, God is always in control. He has power over the circumstances in our lives, just as He has power over those sturdy towering mountains.

 

Isaiah 64:1: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!”

 

Spread the word of God's amazing power. Tell your friends, tell a stranger. Visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

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