Following the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT, Facebook has been flooded with everyone's opinion and feelings. I have read many ideas about how we can prevent this type of thing from happening again, as if we could. Evil will always be present with us. We cannot legislate it away.
I must say, however, that I am tired of seeing all the "We need prayer back in public schools" or even Mike Huckabee's latest comments that "we've systematically marginalized God out of our culture by removing Him from all aspects of the public square." Are we Christians really so powerless? It is utter nonsense! We have a power far greater than anything this world knows-the Holy Spirit. We still live in a country where we are allowed in the public square and allowed to speak about God and show his love. The problem is, for the most part, we Christians have marginalized ourselves. We are content to sit in our pews (or chairs, depending on your church's set up) and lament with one another about the passing of the old days. Wake up, Christians! We are the ones who are failing. We say, "America needs God." Do you not know, we are the Body of Christ? Go, therefore, and be the Body. Preach the Good News. Heal the sick. Love the outcast.
And who cares if our 'rights' are eroded? If, indeed, our nation enacts laws prohibiting us from speaking the gospel, I would refer you to the words of Jesus and Paul. Rejoice, and, again, I say rejoice! Count it a privilege to suffer for the Kingdom of God. May we be willing to do what it takes to heal a hurting world even if it costs us our lives. THAT is the power of the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Someone asked me recently, "Why do we feel we have to go halfway around the world to help people? We need to take care of our own first!" It is not the first time this has been said to me. I find it interesting that the people who usually say this do not seem to helping anywhere. I think they just have a guilty conscious.
Jesus told his followers to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the earth. That is usually my response to the aforementioned comment. We are to be a work, showing the love of God for humanity, everywhere. Some are called to stay local and some are sent to the nether regions. Nonetheless, we are all called to be at work support Good News through good works everywhere.
Our Jerusalem is the area right around us - our communities. For my church, that is the northern area of Henry County. There are so many opportunities to serve. Our church has an incredible food pantry that delivers to homeless people in the area in conjunction with Revelation Ministry. They require food items and/or money to purchase food. They need people to sort and separate food and to help deliver. We have several other Christians brothers and sisters in other churches that help us with this.
You could become involved with H3 ministries. This was the brainchild of my dear friend Mike Broome. It was birthed at McDonough 1st UMC. On Friday nights this ministry prepares hot meals for folks that come to the church. The people are served as if they are at a restaurant and usually have live music to soothe them as they dine. There are also several 'to go' meals taken out from there to homeless people.
You could help at the public school just down the road from us, by reading to kids, tutoring, helping provide school supplies, collecting General Mills boxtops, or providing a meal for the teachers.
You could go out with one of our L.R.E. teams to meet our neighbors and begin to build friendships in our communities in the name of Jesus Christ.
Our Judea is our regional area. There are also a lot of opportunities in our region as well. Habitat for Humanity, The Atlanta Food Bank, or Action Ministries. I personally feel Action Ministries is one of the best things the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church has going. This ministry provides food, shelter, and education for poor people all over North Georgia. If you can't physically go and help, you can support them financially.
Finally, we are called to go to the ends of the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. I think about our missionary families that we support at Jodeco. The Stotler family is in mission ministry in South Africa. Our own Nick, Heidi, and Gilly Griffiths will be leaving next year to serve the indigenous tribes of Kenya by helping them build water filtration systems, health education, and sharing the love of Jesus. You can help by giving these families your financial support. You can find both of these families at themissionsociety.org and clicking on the "find a missionary" tab at the top right of the screen.
So my advice? Stop whining and get involved!
Thursday, May 17, 2012
OK, finally reading the Hunger Games trilogy. I am about 1/3 of the way through Catching Fire. It is a very interesting series. The story is very similar to the fall of the Roman Empire, in my opinion. I can also see parallels to the condition of the U.S.A. today.
Consider the river stone. It is a thing of beauty, so smooth and silky feeling. It is difficult to imagine that it was once a rough, jagged thing. Over the years, possibly even centuries, the rough, jaggedness was eroded by water and friction of other stones. You could say a river is a slow moving grinder, one whose task is not measured in minutes but years.
Life is a similar thing. Often times we feel as if we are in the grinder as well. Hardships, trials, just ordinary things of life often wear us down. I like to think that God is using the things of life to make us something beautiful as well. By his grace he can use the awful, burdensome things in life to make our lives a thing of beauty all to his glory and honor. David put it this way in Psalm 30:
I cried out to you, Lord. I begged my Lord for mercy: “What is to be gained by my spilled blood, by my going down into the pit? Does dust thank you? Does it proclaim your faithfulness? Lord, listen and have mercy on me! Lord, be my helper!” You changed my mourning into dancing. You took off my funeral clothes and dressed me up in joy so that my whole being might sing praises to you and never stop. Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
As we begin this series on the giants David faced we will be looking at his trials and struggles and hear his own words as reflected in the Psalms. His problems are similar to our own. May we be like him, ready to face our own short-comings and willing to hand our difficulties over to the One Lord who can give us “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy in place of mourning, and a mantle of praise in place of encouragement.” [Isaiah 61:3]