Tag Archives: refugees

When trusting in God is scary [Christians & War – Deuteronomy 20, part 5]

11 Jan

What will really change the heart of humanity?  Fighting wars?  No!  Only Jesus.

So what does trust in God look like when we are faced with strife in our world?  Christians should be known as a people who pray deeply for and strive for peace.  We should love our enemies.  We should seek to share the good news of Christ with all.  I think of missionaries who train young people to minister in what is called the 10/40 Window.  We have friends and family in Muslim countries.  At what point do we see Western Christians so trusting in God that they are willing to give up the comforts and ease of America to share the good news about Jesus, even in places that are opposed to Christianity?  We should serve locally as well!  Faith Church is near the city of Lancaster, and through refugee resettlement, the world has come to us. We could volunteer with an organization like Church World Service, caring and loving refugee families from many countries. 

But these ideas are scary, even risky. Thus I want to conclude with where the passage started.  The principle in the first four verses is that we must trust in God and depend on him about anything difficult or scary that we are going through.  But how do we do this? 

We follow his ways, even when people make fun of us. 

We allow God’s ways to define us, and not the way of the world.

And that means we need to learn God’s ways, and thus we spend time reading the stories of Jesus over and over, for it is there we most clearly see Jesus live out God’s ways.  Make 2019 a year where you commit to read through the four stories of Jesus in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. 

Then we spend time in prayer, in God’s presence, listening for his voice, even when we feel like we don’t have time.  That means we have to open up time in our busy schedules to learn to hear his voice!

We start our day asking God to show us himself in those around us.

We trust him even when we don’t understand what he is telling us to do or why he is telling us to do it. And we are okay with not understanding all of his ways. We act on what we know to be truth and we act humbly and graciously as we interact with others, knowing that we don’t understand it all.

For me it is starting doctoral studies.  I have one semester of classes under my belt. I will be honest that while I got through that, and it went well, there is a part of me saying, “Drop out, drop out, it’s too hard. You can’t do it.”  But that’s not the whole story.  God is with me, and I believe he has opened the door to this, and he is for me.   What is God calling you to do that seems impossible?  Are you dragging your feet because you are scared, finding it difficult, thinking you aren’t ready or capable?  All those things are probably at least a little bit true, but they are also not the whole story, because God is with you, and he is for you, and he has called you to this!

Computer, Health Insurance, Serve Team papers – Monday Messy Office Report – 12/22/14

22 Dec

My office is tidy Friday, mysteriously messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found today:

inspiron_dt_slim1. An old, but working computer in a cardboard box. This one is not a mystery.  My cousin Eric donated the computer, and I picked it up last week.  It is a 2009 Dell in very good condition.  We don’t have a need for it in the church, so we’re going to pay it forward to Church World Service (CWS) Lancaster where my sister Laura works.  CWS does an amazing job helping refugees from all over the world resettle in Lancaster. The government of the USA generously helps people fleeing religious persecution, ethnic cleansing, political strife and natural disaster by granting them entry to our country.  People have come from places as diverse as Haiti, Iraq, Nepal and Somalia, to name just a few.  CWS will gladly give this computer to a refugee family so they can get connected, do school work, apply for jobs, etc.  If you want to learn more about CWS, just see all they’re doing here.  They have loads of ways to get involved.

2. Health insurance paperwork. Like many of you, I’ve been working on getting new health insurance.  I’m not totally sure how to write about this without sounding fussy.  Here goes.  I’m very, very thankful for health insurance.  I’m very, very thankful for employment with benefits like health insurance.  We have used our health insurance numerous times over the years, and I fully expect we’ll use our new health insurance, whenever that time comes that I get it figured out. I hope and pray that a major health situation is not around the corner, and I am very thankful that over the years God has blessed our family with good health.  I suppose that even if a health event happens, it won’t change the fact that we are blessed, and we will work on being thankful even in the midst of difficulty.  Which is exactly the attitude I need to have about the changeover to new insurance!   Thankfulness isn’t always easy to come by.  So this is a reminder to me too.  It reminds me of the song “Blessed Be Your Name“.  We can praise God even when the world is not all that it should be, such as when signing up for new health insurance is proving to be a lot more difficult than I expected.  “Blessed by you name, Lord!”  This also reminds me of a scene in Notting Hill, one of Michelle and my all-time favorite movies, where the two leads, played by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, have started an unlikely romance, he a no-name London bookshop owner, and she a world-famous American movie star.  After some twists and turns they get into a big fight.  Just then his wacky roommate, played by Rhys Ifans, pipes up and says “What he’s going to say next is — there are people starving in the Sudan”.  It doesn’t go over well in the movie, and often doesn’t go over well when we try to put things in perspective.  I suppose it is because we are feeling our pain and frustration now, and it still hurts, no matter how small it is in comparison to people across the globe.  But if we let it, remembering that our troubles are light and momentary can really help change our attitude and be thankful.

3. Serve Team Covenants.  People placed a number of these sheets in my office.  Faith Church‘s governance transition continues on, and I am super thankful for all the people that are involved.  New this year, we are asking volunteers to make one or two-year commitments to one of our Serve Teams, and then to begin that commitment by signing a covenant form.  In the past we did it all by election.  Of course we don’t know how this will turn out in the future, but I’m excited by how God is working in people’s lives as we see each of the seven Serve Teams shaping up.  We’ve had such a wonderful 2014 in the life and ministry of the family of Faith Church.  I think 2015 is looking like more of the same!

Now it is time to clean up this mess!

Guest Speakers: Sarah Thebarge and Bruce Hill

11 Jun

This past week Faith Church has heard from a couple different guest speakers, and I urge you to give them each a listen.

invisiblegirls_paperbackSarah Thebarge was with us this past Thursday evening.  Sarah grew up in Lancaster County, but after graduating from high school, her life’s journey has taken her to California, Yale, New York City and Portland.  But more than travels, Sarah tells the story of her battle with cancer, and how she experienced God’s love from a surprising place…Somalia, through the lives of a family of Somali refugees she met by chance in a train in Portland.  If you have ever doubted God’s love, Sarah’s story will resonate with you. She talked about the story of Hagar from Genesis 16, and the God who sees. If you have experienced the devastating pain of cancer, you need to read her story.  You can purchase her book The Invisible Girls here and you can follow her blog here.

Then on Sunday our Bishop Bruce Hill and his wife Gloria were with us for Worship in the Park.  The weather was gorgeous.  I love Worship in the Park for so many reasons.  Being in the community, the clear picture that the church is not the building, but the people!  Bishop Bruce preached a powerful sermon from Epbrucehillhesians 4.  Are you mature?  The image that came to my mind when he was preaching was of a full-grown person, except for their left leg.  That leg had never grown.  Instead it is still a chubby baby leg.  And the adult is hopping around on one leg, while the baby leg dangles.  Is it possible that is you in your spiritual life?  Are you still a spiritual infant in some way?