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Dog with a bone

Posted by Pastor Mark Toone on

We raised German Shepherd puppies on our little three-acre alfalfa farm in Yakima. My grandpa was a butcher and he used to bring bones for them. If you’ve ever watched a German Shepherd gnawing on a cow’s knee joint, you understand the saying, “Like a dog with a bone.” They will work and gnaw and grind and chew on that thing until they pulverize it. 

Some might rightly observe that I am like a dog with a bone when it comes to “For the City.” But that’s because I really do believe our church is in the process of a cultural shift, one in which increasing numbers of our congregation are turning their eyes and hearts outward, noticing their neighbors, praying for their neighborhood, conceiving creative ways to bring blessing upon the place in which God has called them to live. 

Of course, there are many in our congregation who are already deeply invested in championing the city. Our first responders, our teachers and administrators, our political figures—many, many Chapel Hill folks are already investing in their town. 

But here’s my point. Many, many more are not. Not yet. Many still wait for others around them to raise their hand and “take the call.” 

But I believe we are seeing a shift. More and more folks are noticing people they’ve never noticed before, reaching out to them, engaging them, doing life with them, praying for them. I want to pass on to you some of the stories that have been shared with me. 

  • One woman knew of a disabled man who needed wood to heat his home and tracked down a man who prunes trees professionally. He’s not a Christian, has nothing to do with church, but said yes to this good deed. He provided a year’s supply of wood to the disabled man and it started a friendship that is continuing. 
  • Two Chapel Hill neighbors teamed up to provide a neighborhood coffee. Recently, someone in their cul-de-sac had been arrested over a provocation between two neighbors. The two Chapel Hill women felt called to begin a process of restoration in their little community. 
  • Two other Chapel Hillians reached out to a woman who had surgery, providing transportation, food and, as they put it, “lots of love.”

And here’s something my wife Cyndi and I did. We wore our “For the City” T-shirts and went to the candidate’s forum at City Hall. When someone asked about the T-shirt, it was a chance to talk about our sermon series and what it means.

As I gnaw on this same bone from week to week in front of you all, my hope is that, one by one, every person in our pews will say, “Oh—he’s talking to me! The Holy Spirit is talking to ME! I’M supposed to notice and care for and pray for and do life with my unchurched friends. THAT’S how I am going to be for my city.”

I am finding this journey to be personally inspiring. It is changing my awareness, my behavior, my conversations and my heart. And I’m praying it will do the same for you. Please…keep your stories coming. How are YOU being “for your city?”

Pastor Mark

Tags: for the city, dog with a bone

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