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Home Sweet Home

Every time I drive up to my house, press the garage door opener (I love those things), park my car and go inside and look around I cannot help but think how blessed my family and I are.  I am one of those people that have been given the best of earthly gifts.  By the grace of God I have a family and some friends that love me and I have a place to call home.  The furnace works, and there is almost always plenty of food in the cupboards.  Every night of my life these days I can say that I’ve been fed (that is plain for everyone to see) and that I have a warm and comfy place to lie down and rest after a day’s work.

Sadly, not everyone in our area enjoys the same advantages.  Many are without jobs and in need of daily necessities.  On the upside, we are all blessed to reside in a community with a heart. Many of our neighbors have responded to the nudging of the giver of all good gifts (God, e.g. see James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”) in a variety of ways to help the hurting among us.

One example is found in the Interfaith Hospitality Network, a coalition of local churches that opens their doors to homeless families every night and who cooperate, under the direction of New Pathways in ways that are intended to provide meaningful, holistic interventions resulting in real turnarounds including job opportunities and permanent housing solutions for those in need.

Daniel Tupy of New Pathways tells me that “Since our year has started in July 09 we have worked with 90 individuals experiencing homelessness. 52 of which were children.  We work with families in the immediate 6 county area and there are stringent criteria to qualify for New Pathways.  What that means in simple terms is all other personal and community resources must be exhausted first.  As a result the families we work with are often in a fragile state and their needs extend far beyond needing a job and a place to stay.  We recently had a family arrive with only the clothes they were wearing.  In this case thanks to our community’s generosity this family will now be better equipped when they leave the program.”

This is an awesome program getting wonderful results and they deserve our support.  Tonight at the Franklin Crossing Arts Center Auditorium in Brainerd a Benefit Concert for IHN is being held at 7 pm.  Musicians from several churches are coming together under the direction of Key Lane, Worship Arts Pastor at the Journey North Community Church (the girl, as is widely known, can ROCK) and the program will also include a real story from a family helped dramatically through this ministry.  Come on out tonight and enjoy some quality music and be inspired to help according to your ability.

Please call Daniel Tupy at New Pathways, Inc. (218-454-0460) with questions about other ways you can lend a hand.

Why is church so dull? A psychotherapist diagnoses the Sunday ritual. – By Stephen W. Simpson – Patrol Magazine

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Christ Has Loved Us!

There is not a circumstance of our Lord’s history which is not another form or manifestation of love.

His incarnation is love stooping.
His sympathy is love weeping.
His compassion is love supporting.
His grace is love acting.
His teaching is the voice of love.
His silence is the repose of love.
His patience is the restraint of love.
His obedience is the labor of love.
His suffering is the travail of love.
His cross is the altar of love.
His death is the burnt offering of love.
His resurrection is the triumph of love.
His ascension into heaven is the enthronement of love.
His sitting down at the right hand of God is the intercession of love.

Such is the deep, the vast, the boundless ocean of Christ’s love!”

—Octavius Winslow, The Sympathy of Christ

The Perfect Minister?

John Newton reflects on why there is no such thing.
In my imagination, I sometimes fancy I could [create] a perfect minister. I take the eloquence of ______, the knowledge of ______, the zeal of ______, and the pastoral meekness, tenderness, and piety of ______. Then, putting them all together into one man, I say to myself, “This would be a perfect minister.”

Now there is One, who, if he chose to, could actually do this; but he never did it. He has seen fit to do otherwise, and to divide these gifts to every man severally as he will. (Richard Cecil, Memoirs of the Rev. John Newton, p. 107.)

One String Banjo.

I think it was in the summer of ’73.  My old friends Colin and Dee were to be married in Sebeka and they asked me to come and sing.  I had written a tune now long forgotten (I know it was about the love of Jesus).  I showed up in the nick of time and opened my old banjo case.

Now this old tenor banjo was one that somebody had given me (I can’t remember who).  It was well worn to say the least.  The favorite chords of the original owner were easy to trace by the deep grooves in the fretboard which made it a little challenging to play in tune.

I opened the case and suddenly was reminded (I was a bit anxious about this) that one of the 4 strings on this old instrument was missing.  I was down to three strings.  Oh well…what do you do? The church was packed, the service had begun…there was nowhere to hide.  You go with what you’ve got.

So I played those three strings and sang the love of Jesus for all I was worth and as I did I felt something deep inside that I can’t describe.  Something like the pleasure of God…a kind of transcendent, shimmering  joy.  It was His pleasure on the occasion of these two (future missionaries)  coming together in a sacred bond, and yes…His pleasure in me and in that old three stringed banjo.

It was as if God was showing something back then.  “These are the kinds of instruments that I delight to use.”  Broken…grooved…imperfect…well worn…road weary instruments.

So now I open up the case (my life) to see myself. Much like that old banjo I’m old and grooved…broken…imperfect.  And I’m down to one string.  I’ve got a one string banjo now.  Its all very clear.  I’m down to the gospel.  Its where I belong.  Its who I am.  So I mean to play it and sing the Love of Jesus for all I’m worth. God help me sing!

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.  Psalm 126:5-6

Political commentator Fred Barnes writing in the Wall Street Journal:

In 2007, my wife Barbara and I left The Falls Church, which we had happily attended from the time we became Christians a quarter-century ago. It’s a 277-year-old church in northern Virginia well-known for its popular preacher, the Rev. John Yates, its adherence to traditional biblical teachings and its withdrawal in 2005 from the national Episcopal church. Our three grown daughters and their families stayed behind at The Falls Church.

We didn’t leave in anger. We didn’t have political or theological anxieties. Rather, we left for a new church because our old church wanted us to. The Falls Church has become entrepreneurial as well as evangelical. It’s in the church-planting business. And we were encouraged by Mr. Yates to join Christ the King, the church “planted” near our home in Alexandria. We were a bit ambivalent about the move, but when Christ the King opened its doors in September 2007, we were there.

Read the whole thing

From “Between Two Worlds”