Archive for February, 2011

Enemies of war are Enemies no more

If you have read any of my other postings on this blog, you may have noticed a frequent theme of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Well, here is another one!

On the cover of last Sunday’s Akron Beacon Journal was a true story that was mega-fascinating to me.  Part of the article reads, “In search of peace, understanding and reconciliation, a dozen area members of Warriors Journey Home, a ministry at Tallmadge’s First Congregational Church, traveled to Vietnam for three weeks in October”*, 40 years after the Vietnam war.

Another excerpt from the article reads, “Still, despite the fact that their country was ravaged by war, Vietnamese today welcome their former enemies with open arms.  ‘From the bottom of my heart, spirit and soul, I am sorry for what I did to your people,’ veteran Ralph Knerem told Tien (a Vietnamese Veteran), through interpreter Tranh Song.  ‘Would you forgive me?’  Not knowing what exactly to expect, Knerem, who was a U.S. Army infantry soldier, waited for the man’s reply.  To his surprise, Tien responded by asking for the American’s forgiveness.  As they embraced in Tien’s home, tears streamed down their cheeks.  ‘It was like we were old platoon buddies,’ added Joe Caley, who served as a 1st Air Cavalry scout dog handler for the U.S. Army.  ‘Although we fought on different sides, what we did was the same.  Our fear was the same.  Our hopes were the same.  Our worries were the same.’ “*

Two men, who 40 years ago shot bullets at each other are now embracing each other and understanding one another.  That image, my friends, is the power of forgiveness.

This story was a great reminder that forgiveness and reconciliation are always possible.  It was also a reminder that even readers of a secular newspaper are hungry for reconciliation.  May we seek out opportunities to reconcile in our lives.

Blessings,

Josh

*Quoted text is credited to Kim Hone-McHahan of the Akron Beacon Journal, published on 2/20/2011.

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2-13-11 I Corinthians 11:1-16

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Results, Results, Results

Here is a specific way you can pray for anyone  in ministry, including Josh our youth director, and me!

Ministry is different from other jobs.  In most jobs, you can go to work for a structured period of time, do a set task, and see the results of your labor.  Then you clock out and go home.

Ministry is different.  You may prepare diligently to teach and share God’s word week in and week out and never have any idea what (if any!) impact it is making.  God may not bring any particular teaching or personal investment to bear any fruit until weeks or even months after it was originally taught.

In ministry, the results really are up to God.  Sure, we can feel good that we prepared things, organized and hosted events, and cared for a certain number of people in a certain number of ways.  But, the specific ways this brings impact to people isn’t really up to us.  It truly is up to God.

Can this be frustrating?  Yes!  Would I like to know exactly how the preaching is affecting each person every week?  Yes! (Believe it or not, I cannot tell by your body language).  But, that’s not what I’m asking for.  What I AM asking for (as stated in the beginning) is prayer.  Pray that we would keep our passion to minister God’s Word faithfully, trusting Him for the results.

Jesus, change our lives!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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Grace makes zero sense

I am personally going through a season of my life where I am being challenged by God’s grace.  I have realized that I believe in the theology of grace, but my actions and my heart do not often reflect my belief.  There is a strong temptation within me to still feel like I have to earn God’s love and favor, or even repay God for all that he has done.  I have been reminded recently that I was dead, completely dead, and a dead corpse can not revive itself.  How arrogant is it to think that I can earn my salvation?

Here are some quotes about grace from some authors and musicians that have challenged me:

“Grace is never cheap. It is absolutely free to us, but infinitely expensive to God” – Jerry Bridges

“It is not only by grace alone that we become God’s people, but by grace alone we remain His people.” – Dale Ralph Davis

“It seems that all my bridges have been burned, but you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.  It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart, but the welcome I receive with the restart.” – Mumford and Sons

“There is nothing you can do that will make God love you more.  There is nothing you can do that will make God love you less.”

“Repentance, not proper behavior or even holiness, is the doorway to grace.” – Philip Yancy

My nature often fights against grace.  My arrogance thinks that I am able to earn God’s love and approval.  Praise God that my faulty thoughts do not define the truth of God’s grace!

I hope that I am always baffled at God’s grace for me.  To me, grace makes zero sense.  I hope its mystery brings me to worship.

Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

Blessings,

Josh

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Learning How to Pray for Someone Who Is Sick

Here is a link to an article I read recently.

It talks about some of the things I was able to share yesterday in our church service about praying for an interacting with those who are suffering from sickness.

I hope you’re challenged by this!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

 

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2-6-11 I Corinthians 10:14-33

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Egypt

First I must confess that I know very little about the world.  I tend to think I know some things based on what I learn through the media, but truly I know very little about the world in which we live.  One way that my brain has understood the world is that there are many ‘worlds’ within this world.  What I mean to say is that other countries, people groups, regions, and even situations seem so different from my circumstances as a white, middle class American that they almost seem like another world entirely.

Egypt is one of those situations for me.  I can not put myself in the shoes of an Egyptian.  What would my opinions be?  Would I be pro-Mubarak or anti-Mubarak?  Would I be involved with the rallies, or would I not?

When events such as these from around the world become known to me, I often think “Well, what can I do?”  200 years ago we would have no knowledge what was happening in Egypt, but technology has allowed us to actually see images of the political unrest.  So what do we do with this knowledge?  This leads me to an important question.

Is it possible that our prayers can actually impact what happens around the world?

I mean, do I REALLY believe that prayer matters?  If I do, then why am I not continually praying for the people (who are in a completely different ‘world’ than me) involved with these terrifying situations?

I have to believe that there are Christians in Egypt who God can use to bring about His peace, love, and life.  I need to remember to pray for the Christians, and Muslims, in Egypt.

After all, isn’t God’s purpose a global purpose?

Blessings,

Josh

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