Touching Lives

CARING FOR THOSE WHO PLAY THE VICTIM

God’s call upon us is clear. We are to love Him with all that we are, and we are to love our neighbor.

If we are to practice love of neighbor, we must step into their lives, including their hurts and burdens.

However, sometimes we cannot help but wonder if some of the people we are trying to care for are misusing our care. In short are they “playing the victim card”?

Even if people are playing the victim card, does that automatically let us off the hook from being responsible to love them. If we are to love our enemies, should we love those who misuse our compassion?

The short answer is that we are to love every person we meet regardless of the worthiness of their situation or their attitude. Everyone without Christ is broken, blind and totally lost.

The complicated part is how should we put our love for these people into action?

God does not necessarily want the answer to always be immediately clear and easy. There is benefit in searching our souls and the Scripture to find clarity. When answers are too easy, sometimes that is an indication of pride rather than wisdom.

Nick Batzig walks us through this conundrum in this article “Jesus and the Victim Card”, which is found at the Reformation 21 online magazine. He writes:

At the end of the day, our job is to point others to Scripture and to the Savior who is revealed in Scripture. We must resist the snare of putting ourselves in the place of the Redeemer in the name of “being there” for those who are hurting. Our job is to point others to the only one who is able to give both us and them the grace that we need to change.

LET YOUR HOSPITALITY HELP GROW YOUR EVANGELISM

 

This 84 second video will help and encourage your gospel outreach.

Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor at the Village Church in Texas, makes a strong connection between practicing hospitality and sharing Christ.

84 seconds doesn’t give him time to dig into the implications, but with only 84 seconds watching the video, you will have plenty of time to contemplate those for yourself.

Here are a few quick ones that came to my mind:

(1)  Expressions of love and care will impact people and open their hearts to us.

(2)  These actions will also draw them to want to know more about our world – a world in which Christ is the epicenter!

(3)  Hospitality is wonderfully expressed in our homes, but we can also make it a mindset throughout the day.

These should be encouraging thoughts for every believer who wants to reach people; work on your hospitality to impact those around you who are without Christ.

MESSY GRACE

messy-grace-cover

“Messy Grace” is an unusual story

The author, Caleb Kaltenbach was raised by a militantly lesbian mother and a homosexual father.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually helpful story

Caleb helps us to think about how Christians come across to those who are outside the church community. You will be challenged in how God uses you in the lives of those who are broken.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually powerful book

If you have a heart to reach people with abundant grace and uncompromising truth, this book will help you. And if you are not interested in those things, then you probably should read it twice!

I benefited by reading “Messy Grace” and I have been recommending it ever since. One of my small groups found that this book stimulated wonderful and needed conversations.

Buy it

Read it

Use it

THE INSANITY OF GOD

My book recommendation this month is inspired by Mission Conference week.

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (recently released as a movie), tells some of the most powerful stories that I have ever read!

The author during a season of discouragement over the condition of the world, decided to initiate a couple year project in which he would interview Christians in the most persecuted places in the world.

He wanted to find out how they could persevere in such conditions.

The project ended up taking over 15 years!

Ripken tells extraordinary stories from believers in then Soviet Russia, China and the Middle East.

This is a book that will educate, inspire and challenge you.

I hope you don’t miss reading it.

 

 

JESUS IS WORTH IT!

2016-wow-jesus-is-worth-it-art

This Sunday will kick off our Annual Missions Conference Week.

This is an exciting as well as a vital time in the life of our church.

We have opportunity to get to know some of our mission partners, and we learn how we can become more connected with the glorious work of the gospel both near and far.

This year’s conference is entitled “IS JESUS WORTH IT?”. We know the answer, but we still need encouragements in living as if Jesus is always worth it.

Make sure you and your family participate in as many events as you can!

Sunday, October 2nd 

     8:30 & 10:30 am   Pastor Pat Tedeschi Preaching

  Monday, October 3rd     

    7:00 – 8:30 pm   Meet & Greet Dessert Night

An evening spent getting to know our new missionaries Fred & Dawn Weindelmayer via a Skype interview.  Bring a dessert to share.

 Wednesday, October 5th

    5:30 – 6:15 pm   Our Famous International Meal

Enjoy cuisine from around the world.

     6:30 – 8:00 pm   Movie “Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places” 

This latest episode is set in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, where a patchwork of tribes live – people groups long crushed by brutal dictators and enslaved to the worship of demons. But the Gospel is setting prisoners free!

 Thursday, October 6th 

    8:15 – 9:15 am   Prayer Breakfast

Enjoy breakfast & pray for our Missionaries.

    9:30 – 11:00 am   Women’s Bible Study

       Featuring an interview with church planter Katie Eck of New City Fellowship in Atlantic City

Friday, October 7th

    5:45  – 10:00 pm   Youth Night

Food, games, and a presentation by church planter Peter Eck at New City Fellowship in Atlantic City.

       Saturday, October 8th

    9:00 – 12:00 pm   “Being Witness: Understanding & Applying Our Identity as Witnesses of Christ” Seminar & Continental Breakfast

A seminar by Jeff Boettcher, Lead Pastor of Christ Church South Philly (SGC).   Breakfast provided.

 Sunday, October 9th

     8:30 & 10:30 am   Pastor Peter Eck Preaching

DO YOU HAVE GOSPEL FLEXIBILITY?

Last week I wrote an article on “Watching Our Cultural Diet”.

Today, I am encouraging you to watch out for cultural inflexibility.

The point in my previous article was guarding what we allow into our lives, while my point today is making sure we are touching lives in the world around us.

There are several practical problems that come up as we become culturally Christianized.

We have fewer relationships outside of the church in which we can share the gospel.

Our changes in lifestyle make us increasingly uncomfortable with the culture around us. This is a good reality, but unbelievers can feel our discomfort and think we are looking down on them.

Our conversation is peppered with “Christianese”; words that are confusing to unbelievers.

We can become judgmental on people we think have flagrant sins, rather than being burdened for their souls.

Sometimes we can think that our use of “Christian” symbols, words, plaques and music is witness enough. However, it is not enough for people to know we are Christian or religious, they need to hear the actual truths of the gospel (Romans 10:17). It is the gospel which leads people to salvation not religious influence.

We have to exercise thoughtfulness and prayerfulness to overcome the obstacles of Christian culture, but the Holy Spirit is eager to help.

Don Carson provides a few thoughts on these issues in this article “Are You Flexible for the Gospel?”

HOW DO WE ENGAGE ROTTENNESS?

When I was a small boy, we had trash cans and a separate garbage pail for food scraps. I hated opening the garbage pail because of the noxious odor that came out and the disgusting writhing mass of maggots on display in it.

That childhood memory comes quickly to mind when I think of the course of our “culture” today.

There is a lot of discussion about engaging our culture, but I think I find more agreement with Carl Truman who recently pointed out that we no longer have a true culture to engage!  He writes,

Let’s face it: We now live in a world where refusing a man the right to expose himself in a woman’s toilet is enough to risk your city losing the right to host a football game.

Trueman who is a world class theologian and an excellent writer, refers to this problem as “The Rise of the Anti-culture”, which is also the title of this article.

The answer is not to withdraw our voices, but the Church needs to think more clearly about what it often calls cultural engagement. Too often this simply means trying to look enough like the world that they are comfortable with us. But how can we consider trying to be comfortable with a world whose values are looking more like my childhood garbage pail?

We cannot lessen our engagement with people despite their sin or brokenness, for Christ came to save them – and only by grace are we still not one of them. But the world has drawn lines of anti-culture that we cannot even come close to mimicking, let alone crossing.

If by engaging the culture, we mean talking to them about light – truth – and the gospel; then engage with all the gusto you can muster. But if by engagement, we think we can mix biblical truth with current cultural perspectives, we will end up with a confused mess of ‘spirituality’ rather than gospel clarity.

This is a confusion we cannot accept, for the gospel in its glorious purity alone has the power to save!

DO WE HAVE EYES FOR THE LONELY IN OUR CHURCH?

alone-in-pew-wide-690x353

Give Us Eyes for the Lonely

This is the great title for this excellent article that points us to a wonderful purpose.

Every time we show up for church, there are people who need our care, but we probably don’t notice them. Week by week they suffer alone and we miss out on opportunities to be used by God in their lives.

People who feel as if they have little or no value, attend our services

People who are lonely, walk by us trying to look as if they are fine

People who have been mistreated and cast to the fringe of acceptability, sit near us

Do we have eyes to see the lonely and isolated? Do we have time for them? Are we even trying to notice them?

These are questions that must be asked not simply on the church wide level; we must ask ourselves these questions personally. Even more we need to cultivate our wanting to step into the answer.

Reaching out to people who are lonely will involve our time. And caring for people who feel discarded, can be trying. But more importantly and more wonderfully, this is a meaningful way to live. This part of how we fulfill our call as gospel people. And this will enable us to grow into a church which more fully displays the beauty Christ-likeness.

Please give thoughtful attention to this article by Reggie Osborne on the desiringGod website

A MEAL WITH JESUS

Every once in a while I hear or read an observation I had never noticed in the Bible that is so obvious; I wonder “How did I miss that?”

“A Meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester did this to me.

According to Tim, “Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance”.

Well, that part I already knew and give it my hearty amen!

But what I had not noticed was his observation of how frequently the gospels portray Jesus in the midst of a meal. Immediately I realized, “Wow that’s right!”

Tim adds that even when the gospels don’t portray Jesus at a meal, he is speaking about food and meals. In fact the Bible actually describes Jesus by saying, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking” (Luke 7:24).

The book focuses on the gospel of Luke in which meals and Jesus are given a prominent role.

Since we all understand the dynamics of meals, Tim Chester’s book is approachable, interesting and beneficial to any reader who wants to apply biblical truth to their lives.

With meals being so prominent in the Bible and in our human experience, “A Meal with Jesus” is an intriguing read.

As Tim Chester points out, “We need a theology of leftovers”.

LIGHTS WORK BEST AT NIGHT

It is a plain and obvious fact, that lights have the greatest affect when it is dark.

This is a physical truth; that is echoed as a spiritual reality. Jesus said,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

God’s Word refers to us as being light in a world that is dark with ignorance, evil and sorrow. We are not only meant to grow through hard times, we are meant to be lights for the gospel in them.

Some of the most powerful moments I have witnessed have been believers shining in the dark places of life. Anyone can be hopeful, joyous and content in smooth sailing; storms show if these qualities have depth.

It is easy for people to rationalize away our testimony when they see nothing but prosperity around us. But it is much harder for people to forget our testimony when our life is swirling with troubles.

People understand troubles; they understand fearful and hard circumstances. What they will not understand is how we can have peace, joy and hope in the midst of them

However, if all we do in our difficulties is complain with the same intensity as those who don’t know Christ, what reason do people have to pay attention to our testimony?

We don’t have to be on top of the world, to be a light on a hill. Darkness is when people want a flashlight; so let them see that you have one inside you.