Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

zombie

The power of Easter can slip easily from our grasp, if we’re not careful. As far as the big Christian holy days are concerned, Christmas is so much easier to deal with than Easter.

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child. No problem, there! Who can’t get behind a birthday celebration, especially one for a poor kid who grows up to be king? Disney ought to make a movie: Jesus: Prince of Kings.

At Easter, though, we have to accept that almost two thousand years ago a dead man was raised from the dead, got right up, walked around the place for fifty days, dropped in on old friends, and even cooked-up a mess of fish on the beach one morning. The Easter story is a whole lot trickier than Christmas to get our heads around. Christmas is a heart warmer. Easter is a mind bender.
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LIFE AS A HOUSE: A MINISTRY OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Have ever seen the old Kevin Kline/Hayden Christensen movie, Life as a House? Beth and

House

When Paul told the church in Thessaloniki to encourage one another and build-up each other, he used a word that literally translates, “build a home.”

I watched it the other night on Netflix. In the story, Kevin Kline plays the father of a dysfunctional family. He’s divorced from his wife. She’s unhappily remarried. Their son (Christensen) is angry, lonely and abusing drugs. The teen has even considered selling himself into prostitution to feed his drug habit.

 

After losing his job, and almost simultaneously being diagnosed with a terminal cancer, Kline, an architect in the movie, decides that he’s going to spend his few remaining months fulfilling his life-long dream: building a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He forces his estranged son to come and live with him and together they build a house.

The miracle of the story (spoiler alert!) is that as they build the house together, the boy discovers hope and healing for his sadness and rage, and love is restored to the family as a whole.

It’s fascinating to me that when the Apostle Paul told the church at Thessalonica to “encourage one another and build-up each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), he used the word, “oikodomeo” which literally translates, “to build a home.” In other words, as a church, we are called to build a home for God, for faith, and for love within our church. As we do, there is the promise for healing within ourselves and our church family as a whole.

Instead of grumbles, gossip or complaints about one another, or even turning a cold-shoulder of indifference toward each other, we should encourage each other by laying a foundation of truth, building-up walls of faith, and nailing down a roof of safety and protection. And don’t forget to open some doors and windows and let love in!

Who needs encouragement in your family, among your friends or in your church? I pray that you might join me in a ministry of encouragement. Let’s make a home for love in every heart by our words and actions of encouragement.

God Bless You Today and Forever,

Mark

On November 26th, I preached a sermon called A Ministry of Encouragement. Watch it here!

In the next post, I’ll give you some tools for being a minister of encouragement!

A member of my congregation shared this beautiful little story with me. Thought it might be a great way to start your week. I hope your days are filled with blessings better than biscuits! – RMG

Biscuits

A visiting Pastor was attending a men’s breakfast in farm country. He asked one of the impressive older farmers in attendance to say grace that morning. After all were seated, the older farmer began . . .

“Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The Pastor opened one eye and wondered to himself where this was
going. Then the farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.”

Now the Pastor was worried. However, without missing a beat, the farmer prayed on, “And Lord, you know I don’t care much for raw white flour.”

Just as the Pastor thought he should stand up and stop everything, the farmer continued, “But Lord, when you mix ’em all together and bake ’em up, I do love fresh biscuits.

So, Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we just don’t understand what you are sayin’ to us, we just need to relax and wait ’till You are done mixin’, and probably it will be somethin’ even better than biscuits.

Amen.”

May God Bless You Today and Forever!

Mark

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

 

Clarissa Pinkola Estes offers us this eloquent and powerful charge – amazing sustenance for the good work to which we are called. 

Protest BW“My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people. You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Still I Rise
Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright ©1978 by Maya Angelou.

Happy Fourth Day of Easter!

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

– John Lennon