Living the Resurrection Life as the Body of Christ

Posts tagged ‘OTHER BLOGS’

LOVE WINS–BUT AT WHAT COST?

From Karen Spears Zacharias comes this powerful story ….

I worry about The Marine sometimes.

He would scoff at me for that, so I’ve never made mention of it until now.

The news reports of 29-year-old Jaman Iseminger of Indianapolis, In. are a reminder to me that there is a real cost to serving others the way Jaman did, the way The Marine does.

Jaman, a pastor at Bethel Community Church, was reportedly shot and killed by a 49-year-old homeless woman on Saturday as he and others gathered to clean up a nearby cemetery. Something that many do routinely as part of the preparations leading into Memorial Day.

Those who knew him best say that Jaman “believed the church of Jesus Christ was not to be in these four walls, but to actually love the least of these.”

While others argue about how the Christian life ought to be exemplified, The Marine is out doing what others are arguing about.

I’ve witnessed The Marine’s faith in action.

The way he speaks with respect and honor to the fellow wearing fishnet hosiery and high heels.

The way he coddles the toddler of a teen.

The way he banters with the group of homeless men gathered around a coffee pot.

And I see it in the way the homeless respect him.

He is the real deal and they know it.

Still, I worry when I hear the reports that a homeless man that was drinking coffee the morning before has stabbed someone.

Homeless requires a certain mental toughness and a raw vulnerability.

Mostly it just requires that every other safety net in your life has been ripped wide open.

You become homeless because of a whole host of reasons, but you don’t become homeless because you prefer freezing your ass off or because you like sleeping on hard concrete in a pouring rain.

Living like that could turn most of us into wild-eyed loons.

It might make us act in ways we never imagined.

Not that any of us ever imagine we will be homeless.

And that’s part of the problem.

We might not admit it but there’s this small part of us that entertains the notion that homeless people are homeless because they aren’t as smart as the rest of us, who thus far have managed to escape the fate of the homeless.

The Marine doesn’t think like that.

He understands what most of us don’t.

He understands that the only thing separating “us” from “them” are the numbers in our cell phone.

We have people we can call when things go bad for us.

They don’t.

So he set out to become that person.

The one they can call.

No matter what.

He’s not trying to fix them.

His main agenda is to be a friend to the homeless.

Even if being that friend cost him his life.

The way it did Jaman Iseminger.

In order for love to win, somebody has to be willing to pay the cost.

That’s why I worry sometimes.

And pray often for Hugh Hollowell.

 

TRUE STORY

From blogger Emma Scrivener comes this delightful story.  I encourage you to visit her at A NEW NAME.

True Story

Once upon a time, there lived a couple called Glen and Emma.

Glen and Emma lived in a big town but Glen had to find a job.  Glen was very worried about Emma because Emma was very sick. She didn’t want to move to the seaside town because she was frightened of meeting new people and going to a new place. But God brought them to a church full of lovely, warm-hearted Christians who looked after them and loved them and accepted them with all their issues. God brought them to a church that didn’t put them under any pressure, but prayed for them and loved them and helped Emma to get better and showed them what Jesus looks like.

Glen and Emma lived in a lovely house with two unlovely cats.  Outside the lovely spotty gate was parked a lovely car. The  car was a gift from a lovely couple who attended their church. This couple turned up one day with the keys and gave it to them, asking for absolutely nothing in return. As you can imagine, this made Glen and Emma feel very happy indeed.

Emma and Glen had lots of new friends from church who took care of them when they couldn’t take care of themselves.  These friends looked after their crazy cats when they went on holiday and weeded the garden when they were gone. They encouraged them and prayed for them and  gave them time and money and tea and hugs and planted tomatoes in their garden. It took a long time for Emma especially to feel strong and brave enough to go out.  But many lovely ladies asked her to go for coffee and visited her and encouraged her and kept calling even when she cancelled or changed plans at the last moment and even when she acted very strangely. These people weren’t being paid but they helped Emma and Glen to keep going even when they felt like giving up. And they gave them hope and reminded them that God loved them and cared for them and was looking after them. God also gave Glen two wonderful jobs, better than he could ever have imagined when he lived in the big city. And he helped Emma to meet lots of new friends by using her computer.

Emma and Glen had lots of adventures.  Glen was very brave but Emma was scared of lots of things. Only last week, Emma and Glen were travelling in their lovely car when it broke down on the motorway. Emma saw smoke coming out of the bonnet and was worried that the car would blow up. Emma had been watching too many TV programmes. Glen told her that this was silly and he gave her a hug. Emma also panicked because she knew that cars cost a lot of money to be fixed. She forgot about how God had looked after her up until now. But Glen reminded her and they asked God to help them. Then they waved goodbye to the broken car and waited for a phone call from the lovely repairmen.

Last night Emma and Glen came back from the lovely church to find an envelope on their carpet.  They opened it and Emma’s mouth made a big ‘O’ as they saw what was inside.  They hadn’t told  people about the car or Emma’s worries.  But somebody must have guessed.  Inside the envelope was £400 in cash – but with no letter.  They didn’t know who it was from and they were both excited and surprised. They thanked God for the lovely people who had given them such a lovely, lovely gift.

Today, Glen telephoned Emma to tell her that the lovely repairmen had phoned to say how much it would cost to fix their lovely car that was given to them by some other lovely people. It would be £400.  Emma had to go and lie down for a little bit. She felt very hot and teary again – but in a very good way. Emma told her mum (who didn’t know any lovely Christians or go to a lovely church) what had happened.  Her mum said that God and her friends must be Very Lovely Indeed. Emma agreed with all her heart and went to lie down again.

The End.

WHEN IT ALL FALLS APART

As we prepare for Lent, this post from Tammie Gitt living3368 is very important.

The taste of the bread … a reminder of your body broken for me.

The taste of the cup … a reminder of your blood for me.

Communion and betrayal.

Oneness and separation.

Wholeness and brokenness.

All these thing were part of a single day in your life, Lord, but aren’t they all part of our lives over time?

One day we feel we have it all together. The next is as if it has all fallen apart.

The thing to remember, though, is the light of hope.

You did not stay in the grave.

You rose again.

Even now you usher is into the presence of God.

TO CLIMB OR NOT TO CLIMB

A great post about Zaccheus from the blog Forward Progress: by Michael Kelley

I haven’t climbed a tree in years.

His heart was beating fast now, though he didn’t really understand why. But he had a growing sense that things in his life were coming to a head. A culmination. Something was getting ready to happen.

The branches are low enough. I could do it, you know. I could…

Never before had he been so upset to be short, and he had been upset about it plenty. There were the calls and nicknames from the boys when he was growing up, but then he had showed them hadn’t he? He was the one who had the important job now. He was the one they had to be nice to because he was, in large part, in control of their livelihood. He had proven his importance and put his thumb of authority down on top of those same people who had made up those silly songs about his height. He had more money, more power, and more prestige than any of them had. But now, there was this whole issue of height. He simply couldn’t see, but he wanted to. He wanted it more than anything he had wanted in a long time.

It’s the only way, right? If I want to see, I’ve got to climb. I can’t push through this crowd.

His feet were twitching now. He was moving back and forth, a kind of nervous dance. He knew his anxiety and excitement weren’t logical. Who was this he wanted to see so badly anyway? A teacher? A magician? A miracle worker? Or was he something else. It was this thought that had made the well dressed but small man consider the unthinkable.

What would people think? I’ve got a reputation to think about it. I’m sure they would make up whole new songs about me now. The short man climbing a tree. Foolishness. Right?

Foolishness, of course. But then again, not much in his life made sense any more. He no longer was satisfied with the accumulation of more and more wealth. The pursuit of power over others seemed more and more empty. He had been asking questions, at least in his own mind, that were of a foreign sort. His life seemed devoid of meaning, and he was looking… for something anyway. And now, in his robes, he was standing on the edge of the road, looking into the distance. Jesus was passing through, and the tax collector couldn’t shake the idea that this mysterious man walking through Jericho was was he was looking for. The only way for him to see Jesus was to go up. To climb.

To climb or not to climb? To risk or not to risk? The tree is right there. I know I could get high enough.

He took a tentative step forward. Then another. Then he grabbed hold of the low branches and swung a leg up. He looked around briefly. The crowd was coming, the noise growing louder. Up and up and up. His heart beat faster and faster and faster. Still he climbed. He was sweating now through the weight of his clothes. They were right below Him now, teeming with excitement. The leaves got thicker as he edged forward… and then he saw Him. And something burst inside of Zaccheus. He froze, straddling a branch of the sycamore tree. It was a feeling like he’d never experienced, for to his great surprise, the man wasn’t looking at the crowd. He wasn’t glad-handing the people around Him, nor was He looking forward where He was going.

He was looking into the tree. And for a moment, Zaccheus was crushed.

Great. He’s looking up here. Now everyone else is looking up here, too. Here it comes – the jeering and mocking, just like when I was a kid.

“Come down, Zaccheus.”

And then he knew. He could never, in the days that followed, know exactly how he knew. It wasn’t quite a feeling, but something more. But as he scurried down the tree, he was absolutely convinced that though he was anxious, though he had climbed the tree, though he had wanted just one glimpse of Jesus…

He knew that Jesus had really been looking for him.

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Illustration added by Steve

I AM SYZYGUS

Normally I reserve this blog for original posts written by myself.  I was intrigued, however, by thus post from the archives of Charles Stone’s  THE CHURCH WHISPERER giving us an imaginative, but quite credible portrait of an original Easter Person who has always fascinated me. – Steve

 

I Am Syzygus

9 02 2010

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

(This is the second in a series of posts from Philippians 4 about church conflict)

Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow,help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:3

Have you ever thought about your name and wondered how it has shaped you or influenced you as a person?  I have…

syzygusMy name is Syzygus.  It is Greek.  There really isn’t a good English translation of it, but “yokefellow” comes pretty close.  It’s a bit of an embarrassing name, actually, because it is a reference to oxen in a yoke.  I have no idea what my parents were thinking.  But today, looking back on my life, I’m glad they named me Syzygus.  When I think of how God worked in my life, it fits.  I suppose it refers to a co-laborer wearing the same yoke as you, pulling along with you.  If there is any truth to the old adage that names do reflect something about us, then I am a true friend who has walked along with you during good times and bad times, never leaving your side.  I am a person who has been coupled with you through difficult service together.  I have grown to trust you and you have grown to trust me.  I am your “yokefellow”.

I suppose I was not surprised, then, when Paul called me out in his letter to my church in Philippi.  I had been yoked with him in ministry and had been yoked with Euodia and Syntyche as well.  I knew them well and they knew me and trusted me.  As much as I did not want this assignment, I was exactly the right person to confront them about their disagreement.  In his wisdom, Paul knew that.

I suspect Paul also knew that all of us in the church were a bit perplexed about what to do with these two sisters.  We knew their broken relationship had gotten out of hand, and we knew someone needed to love them enough to confront them about it, but none of us wanted to do it.  I suppose we were all hoping someone else would step up, or maybe by some miracle Paul himself would be released from prison and he would come and do it.  Hey, don’t laugh, it’s happened before.

But there would be no miraculous prison break this time.  One of us (or perhaps a few of us) in the church would have to step up and deal with this conflict.  Personally, I usually run from it.  I really hate conflict.  I don’t like getting up in other people’s business, I don’t like being perceived as judgmental, and I don’t like sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong.  Frankly, I can probably think of at least a dozen other excuses if you give me a little time.  Bottom line: none of us in the church wanted to do this, but we all knew it needed to be done.  Some argued it was the pastor’s job.  Others argued it was the elders’ job.  I was neither.  I was just someone who cared deeply for these two women, which is why Paul knew I was the right person to do this.  After all, if it were me who needed confronting, I would want it to be someone whom I trusted and who I knew loved me.  Why shouldn’t Euodia and Syntyche have the same benefit?

I pray that, when you need someone to tell you the truth about yourself, you will have a “Syzygus” in your life.  And I pray that, when someone you love needs a “Syzygus” in his/her life who will help him/her see the truth, you will step up and be that yokefellow for him/her.  I pray that, when God touches you on the shoulder with that assignment like Paul touched me, you will kneel down and pray and then go.  And I pray that God will use that experience to change your life the way He changed mine.

I am Syzygus.  And I am so very glad for that.

© Blake Coffee

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com

 

 

RESPONDING TO THE DEATH OF BIN LADEN

From Christianity Today come this thoughtful piece.  For more go to  BIN LADEN
‘Do Not Gloat’ vs. ‘Joy to the Righteous’
The verses most quoted on Twitter and Facebook after the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.
Stephen Smith | posted 5/02/2011 01:12PM

Editor’s note: President Barack Obama’s news that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed after a firefight in Abbottabad, Pakistan, sparked one of Twitter’s heaviest usage periods ever, with more than 4,000 tweets a second. The event was even reported live on Twitter, with Donald Rumsfeld’s chief of staff reportedly announcing the death to his followers before mainstream media outlets broke the story (though he credits “a connected network TV news producer” as his source).

Among Christians, social network streams were full of debate over whether to rejoice in bin Laden’s death, with Bible verses quoted by both sides. Stephen Smith, whose OpenBible.info collects realtime data on Bible verse quotes on Facebook and Twitter, compiled this list of the most popular verses in the 12 hours after the news broke. (Links go to the most recent posts of those quoting that verse; quotes are from the 2011 edition of the NIV unless otherwise noted.)

1. Proverbs 24:17 “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.”

2. Psalm 138:8 “The LORD will make PERFECT the things that concern me”(KJV). (NIV: “The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.”) (Unrelated tweet by Rev Run.)

3. Proverbs 21:15 “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” (Rick Warren started this one):

4. Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?”

5. Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

6. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

7. Proverbs 11:10 “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.”

8. Proverbs 24:18 ” … or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.” (The popularity of this verse is due to it finishing the sentence begun by the #1 most popular verse.)

9. Proverbs 24:1 “Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company;” (probably an effort to quote Proverbs 24:17)

10. Proverbs 28:5 “Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.”

11. Ezekiel 18:32 “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”

12. Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

13. Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

14. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

15. Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

16. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (This verse is usually one of the most-popular verse on Twitter.)

17. Romans 10:15 “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'”

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May (Web-only) 2011, Vol. 55

ASH WEDNESDAY

This personal reflection by Mark Roberts reminds us of the depth of meaning that Ash Wednesday brings to Easter People.


What is Ash Wednesday?
by Mark D. Roberts

What is Ash Wednesday? For most of my life, I didn’t ask this question, nor did I care about the answer. I, along, with most evangelical Christians in America, didn’t give Ash Wednesday a thought.

But then, in 2004, Ash Wednesday loomed large in American Protestant consciousness. Why? Because on that day Mel Gibson released what was to become his epic blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ. For the first time in history, the phrase “Ash Wednesday” was on the lips of millions of evangelical Christians, not just Catholics and other “high church” Protestants, as we anticipated the official release of The Passion.

I grew up with only a vague notion of Ash Wednesday. To me, it was some Catholic holy day that I, as an evangelical Protestant, didn’t have to worry about, thanks be to God. In my view, all of “that religious stuff” detracted from what really mattered, which was having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In my early evangelical years it never dawned on me that some of “the religious stuff” might actually enrich my faith in Christ.

During the spring of 1976, my first year of college, I was startled to see a woman who worked in my dining hall with a dark cross rubbed on her forehead. At first I wondered if it were a bizarre bruise. Then I noticed other women with similar crosses. It finally dawned on me what I was seeing. Here was my introduction to Ash Wednesday piety. These women, who were are Roman Catholic, had gone to services that morning and had ashes placed on their foreheads. I felt impressed that these women were willing to wear their ashes so publicly, even though it seemed a rather odd thing to do. It never dawned on me that this would be something I might do myself one day.

ash-wednesday-girl-5.jpg

Fast forward sixteen years, to the spring of 1992. During my first year as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I learned that this church had a tradition of celebrating Ash Wednesday with a special worship service. It included the “imposition of ashes” on the foreheads of worshippers. I, as the pastor, was expected to be one of the chief imposers! So I decided it was time to learn about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. I wanted to be sure that the theological underpinnings of such a practice were biblically solid, and that it was something in which I could freely participate.

Here’s some of what I learned . . . .