“Redemptive Love”

Redemptive love is the one constant in a Christian’s life.  It is the great simplifier.  We have only to practice redemptive love and all other Christian duties and obligations are taken care of.  If I have a broken arm or leg, I can still practice redemptive love.  If I am sick or handicapped in some way, I can still practice redemptive love.  If the weather is cold and snowy, I can still practice redemptive love.  There are simply no conditions under which I cannot practice redemptive love.  And I am never alone when practicing it.  God is always present where redemptive love is practiced.  In redemptive love God is always present to heal me, even if the object of love appears to be unmoved or unresponsive.  Under all conditions the Christian has one obligation – redemptive love.  Romans 3:23-24 – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemptionwhich is in Jesus Christ.”

Rev. Jim Ross

Mission…

This week we have 12 people in mission in Detroit.  Friday my daughter leaves on what will be her 5th mission trip with the youth group at Homestead Church in Rochester, MN. 

What does it mean to be in mission?
After I graduated from high school, I left on my first ever mission trip with the youth group of my home church, Excelsior UMC.  We were carefully prepared for what we were going to do.  There would be minor home repair, yard work, painting and the like for which we needed our bodies.  But we were not going to just use our bodies in mission.  We were going to open our hearts to the folks for whom we would be working.  We were going to witness to our faith by being present for folks.
 
I used to think going on a church mission trip was about winning people for Christ and the verbal evangelism that went along with that.  That isn’t the kind of mission I or the people in Detroit or my daughter will be involved in.  We will be loving people and loving Christ as we do things for others that they cannot do for themselves.  We love them as they are, just like Christ does.  And when we are asked why we are doing this, we simply say, “Because we love God and this is what God would want us to do.”

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.  (Matthew 25:34-40)

Thank you, God, for people who really get mission work!  Thank you, God, for this beautiful mission team in Detroit and for all the other people who, over time, will discover that they want to love God’s people through mission work.  For in it, God, we meet you face to face.  Amen.

Becky Jo Messenbrink

WAR AND PEACE

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”  Matthew 5:9

My husband and I recently saw the movie ”Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” Neither of us was entirely certain that we wanted to see it after having seen several sequels to the original “Planet of the Apes” with Charlton Heston.  However, I found this recent version to be quite profound. 

As the movie begins, it is clear that the earth has been devastated by some event, and humans seem to have been eliminated by the event.  The apes are living peacefully among themselves under the leadership of Caesar.

Of course, humans have not been entirely eliminated.  They are a couple of weeks away from using all their stockpiled fuel and are hoping to repair and use a dam that is near the apes’ home.  In the process of investigating the dam, apes and humans come face to face.

Caesar has a history with one particular human who treats him well, and as a result, when humans are discovered living nearby, Caesar is inclined to trust them.  Koba, another ape whose history with humans includes lab testing and torture, not only distrusts humans but also wants revenge and will do anything to get it.

The story is familiar:  Two groups want conflicting things and some on each side want to achieve their goal by eliminating the other side.

At one point, Caesar says, “I believed that ape could trust ape,” and at another point, “Apes started this war, and humans will not forgive.”

I believe that world peace is possible.  I have discovered that I am in the minority.  Regardless, I believe that if enough of us believe world peace is possible, we could create a tipping point such that a majority of people in the world would stand for peace and no longer tolerate war—among nations, between political parties, within our families.  I invite you to not only pray for peace.  Believe that it is possible and be a peacemaker with everyone you meet. 

 

Barbara Moore

Be still and know that I am God! Psalms 46:10

I am one busy woman, and I mean busy with a capital BIZZ!!! Let me just fill you in on some of my activities: I chair the Wesley Foundation Board of Directors, I host a bi weekly small group study at my home, I’m involved with at least 4 other small study groups, I co-chair the worship committee, I attend worship weekly, I’m meeting regularly with a mentor, I talk regularly with a spiritual friend, I was the “science” leader at vacation Bible school and served dinner at a recent Emma Norton fundraiser…and that’s just my church involvement! Don’t get me started with family and friends activities.

You may say…”doesn’t she know how to say no?” but that’s not it, I love all the things I’m involved in but all that activity doesn’t leave me much time to just be still and BE with my Lord and Savior.

On very short notice this week my husband Mike was able to get 3 days of vacation. I had to miss 4 church activities, but it was important for Mike to get some time away from work so off we went to camp near the Lake of the Woods in Northern Minnesota. Just the drive alone was about 7 hours and much of that time was without radio. It wasn’t just radio, but we had neither cell phone nor IPad internet coverage. As we drove through a section of our state we had never experienced before, we were in awe of the beauty and majesty of the land. We drove through 2 Native American Reservations. I said a prayer for the people who have had experiences that I cannot fathom. We hiked rugged trails and talked with God about His wonderful creation; we sat by campfires and just meditated on the peace of just being.

I so needed time away from the hectic pace of my life to reflect on the wonder of God in my life. Someone once said that we are Human Beings, not Human Doings…oh so very true!

Paula Gaboury

“Remaining Faithful”

 

“I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.”

~ Philippians 4: 11b-14

In 2011 my husband, Bob, unexpectedly lost his job and was unemployed for 7 months.  It was a challenging time, to say the least.  We immediately took the recommended measures of conserving cash and cutting our spending, and then began the process of selling our property and belongings.  During that time Bob applied for 200+ jobs-not only in Minnesota, but all over the nation and even China.  We were willing to move anywhere!  Months went by without a single interview…

We embraced this trial as an opportunity to grow in our faithfulness; every time we felt discouraged we redoubled our efforts to remain strong in our faith.  We took Paul’s letter to the Philippians as an example of how we could transform a negative experience into something positive. 

 

We looked on unemployment as a “dress rehearsal for retirement”; learning to live on less would be a good thing!  We knew that anxiety could destroy our health, so we were disciplined about caring for our health.  Ultimately, Bob received ONE job offer in his field, which he accepted.  It, too, turned out to be “spirit-killing”, but God is good!  After almost two years, a recruiter called and led Bob to his present job, which has allowed him to work from home and to use his favorite job skills! The support from our Glendale friends brought strength and joy to us at unexpected times; we feel grateful for your prayers and encouragement!

Ann Scarborough

I recently heard a woman speak of encouraging her friend, an atheist, to attend church with her.  She said it took a number of conversations and private prayer, but he ended up visiting her church.  I thought that was fantastic and very brave of her, but several days later that talk prompted further reflection.  While I am not the least bit uncomfortable talking about God, church and matters of faith with fellow Christians, I shy away from talking about those things with atheists.  And I view people that do as “brave”.

 
I know that the avoidance I have is not what I’m called to do as a Christian.  If they are open to it, how do I open the conversation with someone who does not believe in God?  How do I explain why I am a Christian?  The more I thought about it, it isn’t as hard as I feared.  I thought about all of the times that I was struggling with something, at my wits’ end, and not knowing how I would get through it… and then I remembered to pray and felt at peace.  God was with me and got me through it.  I remembered days I would come to church with something heavy on my heart… and then the sermon was on that very topic and the weight was lifted.  God’s presence was in the church.  There were other times that I went to church feeling alone… and then someone unexpected would reach out and strike up a conversation with me.  God’s presence was there.

There were times in the past that I have turned to a person that I thought was a friend, only to be let down.  There were times in the past that I have looked for advice on the internet, only to come up with the wrong answers.  There were times that I turned to comfort food, only to feel uncomfortable later.  There were times that I turned to a drink to get my mind off of something, only to have my thoughts turned to a killer headache the next day. 

When I’ve prayed to God, God has not let me down.  I have received the right answers from prayer, reading the Bible, and listening in church.  God has not made me feel uncomfortable (except when it was in my best interest).  And with God, there is clarity.

Thinking about all the good that has come from turning to God has given me courage and resolve to have that conversation to those that are open to it.  

Psalm 96:3 “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.”
 
Lisa Duffy

YHWH vs Elohim vs God vs Allah

I have always wondered how parents chose the names they have bestowed upon their children. Sometimes the reason for the parents’ choice is obvious, you hear the first or last name and you just know. Many of us have names that are representative of our parents or grandparents. Sometimes the name is representative of a region or country. Sometimes the child’s name is a character from the Bible. How many times has grandma been disappointed when her grandchild wasn’t named Agnes or Helen, but ended up with a moniker like Apple, Chastity, Rocket or my favorite Moon Unit (Frank Zappa).

So all this brings me around to all the names that have been given to or used to describe God. These names come from the children of God or the writers of God’s Word. Believe me when I say this is NOT an all-inclusive list, nor does it include Trinitarian names. On our list we have: Elohim, El Shaddai, YHWH (no vowels please), Adonai, Jehovah, Exulted One, Theos, Father, Allah (As-Salam, Ar-Rahim, Al-Jalil, Islam has the 99 names of Allah).

So in defeat of understanding all His names, I still like…
God = Love
or
Love = God
The “love of God” can mean our love for God or God’s love for us. Going both ways is unbeatable.
 
Ron Hill

 

This past Sunday we heard Cindy Whitaker’s message on Patriot? – Christian?  Some key take-away’s for me from the scripture of 2 Timothy 1:8-14    ” Join me in suffering for the gospel…  this grace has been given to us in Jesus Christ…..guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us”  vs, 8, 9, 10, 14.  

These verses cause me to step out of my comfort zone of contentment and try something new– such as reaching out in the community and serving on a mission team.  We have lots of possibilities coming up in our community — Ruby’s Pantry, Metro Paint -A-Thon, and the Detroit Mo-Town Mission..  All ages, all talents, and all diversity are welcomed (certainly parents with younger children need to be present where appropriate).  Clearly, any of these activities that I have been involved with have often stretched me (Suffering), opened my eyes and strengthened relationships (Grace), and allowed me to use one of my tested, or untested God given talents (Treasure). Opportunities like this seem to always seem to inspire me and cause me to grow!

Bob Scarborough

 
A Day of Freedom 

Romans 8:1-2

 

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

 

    Christians understand that in sending Jesus, God has accomplished what the law of Israel (the 10 Commandments) could not achieve. God has defeated sin and freed humanity to live in true freedom as we live in the Spirit of God.

 

    This week our nation will celebrate it’s birthday and think about what it means to live in freedom. Political freedom is important but those who follow Jesus Christ recognize that we have been gifted a much greater freedom, the freedom from sin. Let us pledge ourselves to live out God’s gift of freedom as we love our neighbors as ourselves.
 
Ron Nicholas