Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Polish Prayer Requests, April 2013

Last Tuesday afternoon we got to spend a few precious hours with some of our friends who minister in the Sweet Surrender coffeehouse/house church  in Krakow, Poland. It seems that many of them have had a difficult last few months, and we promised them that we would continue to pray for the following requests:

For our American friend H., who attends the church and helps out quite a bit with church/shop special events: she's working more as an English tutor, which is both good and exhausting; her dad continues to struggle with very painful, possibly terminal cancer; and she's working to receive her Polish health certification so she can help even more in the coffeehouse. 

For our English friend J., who's been a great friend and ministry partner for the volunteers in Krakow: his family is reeling a bit, as one of his uncles recently died quite suddenly; another uncle just narrowly survived a very serious heart attack; he continues to feel a call to ministry in Poland, but is seeking God's long-term plans for his life.

For our American friends B. and M., who helped take our place at Sweet Surrender: their son recently spent 3+ days in the hospital after severely burning his arm; their family continues to struggle with illness and fatigue; they prepare to take more of a hands-on role in the coffeehouse and house church as another volunteer prepares to go home for deputation in a few weeks.

For our American friend T., who continues to help mold and focus the leadership vision for the house church: he's working hard to fit serious language study into an already-busy schedule; he's taken on more responsibility by joining a local gospel music association board; he' splaying an active role in developing the small group ministry in the Nazarene house church; he and his family have been a huge source of support and encouragement to the Mission Corps volunteers since we've been away!

For our Polish friends and family in Krakow: that God would encourage two of our friends who have taken in several foster care children and are now struggling with employment issues; that God would continue to foster a spirit of inclusion and reconciliation in amongst the families and volunteers in the house church; that God would honor and bless the leadership of our friend T. as he seeks to provide a model of servant leadership for the future. 

Please help us lift up these praises and concerns to the Father! :)

Giving and Receiving

"Giving needs not be confined to money or material gifts, but I would like more people to give their hands to serve and their hearts to love - to recognize the poor in their own homes, towns, and countries, and to reach out to them in love and compassion...

"I'll never forget during the Bangladesh suffering we had ten million people in and around Calcutta. I asked the government of India to allow a number of other congregations to come to our aid, to help us, because we were working the whole time.

"They allowed them to come: about fifteen or sixteen different sisters came to help us, and each one, on leaving Calcutta, said the same thing...

"'I have received much more than I have given and I can never be the same person again; because I have touched Christ, I have understood what love is. What it is to love and to be loved!"
-Mother Teresa, My Life for the Poor

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Real Spirituality

"Real spirituality dawns when our life with God becomes as real as the problems and joys we experience each day. Until then we live in two different worlds - one seemingly real, practical, and demanding world; the other a wistful, so-called 'spiritual' word...

"This separation cannot remain if all our life is to be filled with real meaning, peace, and awe, no matter how violent or stormy our days may become. When we are truly prayerful we join both worlds.

"As we become naturally aware of God throughout the day, we journey in both worlds simultaneously. That is truly the spiritual life." -Robert J. Wicks, Everyday Simplicity

Monday, April 8, 2013

Buried Dreams and Bearing Fruit: A Meditation on Ministry

I feel like this passage has been haunting me this Easter season:
"Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor." -John 12:24-26 (NRSV)

Here's what I read about it in the Green Book last week:
"In a word, earthly life is but the first, very short stretch of a journey to be done; it is very far from completing it. This is the time of 'the grain of wheat that dies in the earth'; it lasts the space of a day as against the thousand thousand years of God." -Carlo Carretto, Journey Without End

I've also been listening to old sermons a lot lately, thinking about the cost of ministry in general and about pioneer missionary Rev. Harmon F. Schmelzenbach and the subsequent generations of his family in particular.

And hearing this quote in Pastor Carl's sermon yesterday helped sort of tie it together for me:

"I think a lot of us are not on a path; we’re in a rut. We have confused comfort with peace, belief with faith, safety with wisdom, wealth with blessing, and existence with life. And for many of us, our dreams will be buried under the epitaph, 'I refused to let go of what I had.'" -Erwin McManus

All of this is kind of sums up why I feel (now more than ever) that God is calling us to some sort of full-time ministry. Whether that's on a missions field or back in the States, in traditional or bi-vocational ministry...yeah, I still have no idea.  
But here's why I feel okay about it all:
"You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that my father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another." -John 15:16-17 (NRSV)

He is faithful!! :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Faith, Belief, and Wheelbarrows

During Pastor Carl's message this morning, he briefly explained out the difference between belief (the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition to be true) and faith (confidence or trust in a person, thing, doctrine, or a deity).

In doing so, Carl recounted the story of Charles Blondin, the world-famous nineteenth century acrobat and tightrope walker:

"Blondin's greatest fame came in June of 1859 when he attempted to become the first person to cross a tightrope stretched over a quarter of a mile across the mighty Niagara Falls.

"He walked 160 feet above the falls several times, each time with a different daring feat - once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and once he even carried a stove and cooked an omelette!

"On one occasion though, he asked for the participation of a volunteer.

"A large crowd gathered and a buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowd “Oooohed!” and “Aaaaahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across one dangerous step after another -- blindfolded and pushing a wheelbarrow.

"Upon reaching the other side, the crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: 'Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?'

"The crowd enthusiastically shouted, 'Yes, yes, yes! You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. You can do anything!'

"'Okay,' said Blondin, 'Get in the wheelbarrow.'"

As Christians, we're called to much more than belief;
we are called to faith!