Category: His Hand, Our Feed


Loving Your Neighbor

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Pastor Robarge encouraged us to be the church in this week’s message. Here are some thoughts by Karen Kennedy wrestling with some of the details of being the church. Enjoy!

Recently, I have been reading (actually re-reading and re-re-reading) “Generous Justice,” a book by Timothy Keller.

Keller takes on the subject of justice by searching the Old Testament accounts, and how Israel was set up to make provisions for those most vulnerable, which included widows, orphans, refugees and the poor. He then shows Jesus’ heart to this “quadrant ” as Jesus fitly calls “the least of these.”

Personally, the book is making me feel very uncomfortable. I wish I could say that there was some fundamental problems with his logic or something theological wrong with his conclusions, but there is not. I think he is correct on his assessment on what followers of Jesus ought to be doing. The problem is that I am not doing it.

Not that I am not doing some of it–I am. The problem is that following Jesus demands more than what I have been giving.

Let me expose more of my quandary through a biblical and then a real-life example:

When an expert of the law asked Jesus the famous question, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus doesn’t give an exact answer; instead he tells a story about a man who was beaten and left dead at the side of the road. The two who figuratively represented God, the priest and the Levite, ignored the man, continuing with their lives as normal. A Samaritan, who was considered the dirt of society, took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him throughout the night. His care continued the next day when he made arrangements with the inn keeper to look after the wounded man.

Jesus asks “who do you think was a neighbor to this man?”

What? The question was who is my neighbor? Not who was neighborly? Maybe the expert of the law really wanted to know who was his neighbor? And if he was to love that neighbor, maybe he thought he ought to know whom he should love. Maybe the expert was a list person, like me.

Unfortunately, I do not see a to-do “neighbor” list in this account. What I do see is a traveler who saw one person in need and immediately became committed into helping that person through his troubles. And this neighborly thing cost the traveler time and money, as well as a detour in his traveling plans.

And Jesus says this example shows that loving your neighbors involves mercy, and, at times, inconvenience, risk, money and sometimes danger.

A few weeks ago, in Des Moines, there was a fight that broke out with about 50 young teens. A lot of the details of what happened are still unclear according to the news. However, it was reported that a passerby in a SUV saw one of the teens lying at the side of the road, stopped and pulled the teen into her SUV.

What! I have a million questions to ask: “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you call the police? Don’t you know that you could have been sued by taking an underage child in your car without his parents’ permission? And was he bleeding? And if he was bleeding, weren’t you afraid of getting blood on your hands, and in your car?”

I think I am starting to sound like the possible scenarios (minus the SUV, of course) that the priest and the Levites could have entertained when they saw the injured man at the side of the road. Perhaps their minds filled up with logical reasons why they shouldn’t get involved, but the woman in the SUV, made a quick decision to get involved.

And Jesus tells us to “Go and do likewise.”

To me, that brings God’s second commandment of loving your neighbor to a whole new level. Not sure about you, but if the entire law and prophets now hinge upon loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, I need to do more than think about it. I need to stop being so convenience-driven and ask God to enlarge my heart, so that my actions line up with His heart of love. I need to stop with all the reasons why not to become involved and “go and do likewise.”

What are the things that you wrestle with concerning being the church? And what should  change so that you can show the world Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

Helping the needyLet’s Look at Stephen Ministry

by Kory Schramm, Stephen Minister

Last week Pastor Phillips shared on God’s strength and comfort. Below is an article that illustrates Stephen Ministry.

As Milo* sifted through his mounting pile of insurance forms there came a knock on the door. Glancing at the clock, he realized it was his first visit from a Stephen Minister. After many inquiries from pastor, he had reluctantly agreed to meet with an individual assigned to him. And even though he felt he really didn’t need anyone to talk to, Milo answered the door – figuring it would be a short conversation and both parties would agree that there were others in the congregation and community that needed “cared for” more.

That was a year ago. Today, Milo anxiously awaits the arrival of his Stephen Minister each week. He’s formed a tremendous bond, rooted in Christ, with his caregiver. After all, his Stephen Minister has confidentially been beside him for his journey – the doctor visits, the test results, the emotional highs and lows that come with a cancer diagnosis. His “friend” has listened, lent an arm of support when needed, provided advice when asked, and nudged when required. Most importantly, he’s had the Holy Spirit work through him in ways Milo can only look back and marvel at.

“Every time we met, my Stephen Minister would ask how I was doing that week physically, emotionally and spiritually,” mentions Milo. “I often was running low in one of those areas and our conversations always picked me back up. Not necessarily by what insight was given to me, as sometimes I did all the talking, but I knew the person at the table across from me was put there by God to be a sounding board.”

Based on his experiences, Milo is happy to talk about Stephen Ministry to anyone who will listen. In fact, since a network of Stephen Ministers is at work all over the world, Milo hasn’t hesitated to encourage his long-distance pals from getting online and finding a care giver nearest them. And with his cancer in remission, Milo is having conversations with his wife about taking this fall’s training course so he can hopefully help someone else in the same way he’s been blessed.

“I have a quote I look at each day that reminds me of the path Christ has put me on as it relates to Stephen Ministry,” states Milo. “It reads – The difference between an obstacle and an opportunity is our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has difficulty, and every difficulty has opportunity. (* Since Stephen Ministry is completely confidential, Milo is a fictitious reference but does reflect a common experience.)

What is Stephen Ministry?
It’s an organized group of lay caregivers that provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care and support to people experiencing grief, divorce, health problems, job loss, loneliness, disability, relocation or other life difficulties. Churches of various denominations are involved and use this one on one caregiving to help people with long and short term problems and concerns. Stephen Ministers volunteer to serve through the church and receive intensive group training and prayerful guidance from other Stephen Ministers. A Stephen Minister is matched by the pastor to someone of the same sex who needs help getting through a life-changing experience, and together the caregiver and care receiver agree to details on meeting.

Watch a video on Stephen Ministry

Want more information, check out Gloria Dei’s Web site.

Need help? Need help now? 

Don’t go through life alone! Contact Pastor Tim Phillips at tphillips@gloriadeionline.com today!

God’s Righteousness and Justice

 

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 This weekend we talked about justice. Here is an excerpt from one of our publications concerning a woman who has a deep passion for justice.

Clementine Karl, a professed “not your typical prototype” Lutheran, grew up in the Catholic Church talks about a deep restlessness that gnawed within her heart.

As a teenager at Johnston High School, she wanted to see Christians passionately making a difference in the world. “Shouldn’t it be part of Christianity to want the hungry to eat?” she says.

With her purple Mohawk hair, she started searching other churches, only to find out that she was “too rebellious, not okay, too passionate and just way too weird.”

At that time, she gave up on God.

But the deep yearning to do something more, kept springing up, so she pursued studies in psychology/philosophy and women’s studies from Drake University. In her junior year, she traveled to Guatemala and Honduras for an international study on law, politics and society. There she found a ministry of Christians who were literally walking around the countryside looking for widows to help.

Since social justice is a great passion of Clementine’s and one of the reasons she came to faith, Clementine soon became enthralled with these Christians because they were the only game in town helping these families and calling out the injustices occurring from the government and the large-coffee plantations.

“It was an amazing mission to see,” says Clementine. “It changed my mind about Christians.”

Out of admiration for their mission of “pulling thousands out of poverty,” Clementine started to attend their worship services and began to discover God through a different lens.

In recent months, she has led an online study on “Generous Justice,” by Timothy Keller. If you are interested in studying this with her in the fall, please contact her at clementinekarl@gmail.com.

Not a familiar topic

Justice? The church’s responsibility toward those inequities in life is something we don’t talk about much. But should we? And if so, what is our responsibility to the poor, to the hungry, to the homeless. And what should be our motivation? There’s some answers to these question in this video.*

We believe that the church has a responsiblity as well as the privilege to help “the least of these.” So, as a church, we are searching for opportunities where we can collectively become involved. Here is what we have so far:

  •  Dorothy’s House
    There is a house that is being renovated to help restore healing to these girls. They need people who will help with construction.
  • Joppa Outreach (118 S.E. 4th Street, Suite 120, Des Moines, IA 50309 | 288-5699)
    Gloria Dei is adopting every fifth Sunday of the year (four times a year). We will visit the homeless, listen to their stories, give out meals, laugh (and cry) with them. We will have our first church-wide Joppa outreach on Sunday, August 31 from 12:30-4 p.m.  Joppa Outreach

  • Meals from the Heartland on August 27-30
    Meals from the Heartland (http://mealsfromtheheartland.org)  It is not too late to sign up to be on a two-hour team: Gloria Dei is organizing teams to help package food August 27-30. Our goal is to provide 120 volunteers.

  • Human Trafficking
    Attend a meeting on Saturday, August 23 from 9-10:30 a.m. WestKirk Presbyterian Church, 2700 Colby Woods Drive, Urbandale, Iowa 50322
    Learn from others who are helping the victims of sex trafficking.
  •  Prayer Nights
    We want to immerse ourselves in prayer for all the victims, the perpetrators, as well as all the efforts to combat this wickedness.
  •  Adopt a Truck Stop (http://www.truckersagainsttrafficking.orgPlan to attend this training on Tuesday, Sept. 9 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 8301 Aurora Ave., Urbandale, IA. We will use the materials from an organization called Truckers Against Trafficking. At the end of the presentation, you will have the opportunity to select a truck stop and submit a short application to this organization. They  will then send you the needed material to proceed with partnering with a truck stop.

Want to join us? Sign up at the display in the Narthex or the FLC or contact probarge@gloriadeionline.com.

*(If the video does not appear, check out https://gloriadeionline.com/message/his-hand-our-feet/his-hand-righteousness-and-justice)

 

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This week we are learning about God’s hand of blessing and provision. When you take an inventory, we have a lot to be thankful for, don’t we?

What are we to do with all of these provisions? Isaiah 58 answers that question:

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? 
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
 Is that what you call a fast,
 a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
 and untie the cords of the yoke,
 to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
 and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
 and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

God wants us to loose the chains of injustice.

God wants us to set the oppressed free.

God wants us to share food with the hungry.

God wants us to provide the wanderer with shelter and clothes.

Big marching orders for the church as Matthew 25:35-40 reinforces:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

It seems like a daunting task because there is so much need in the world.

However, if all we do our part by partnering with God to help “the least of these; ”—we can at least help “some of these.”

So, in the next few weeks, we will bring awareness to some of the needs in this world. Please take some time, pray for the individuals who are in need, and then jump in to be Jesus’ feet and hands in this world.

This week’s focus will be hunger.

The Need

  • 1 billion people worldwide live in chronic hunger. That’s equivalent to the populations of North America and Europe combined.
  • Hunger and malnutrition is the number one risk to health worldwide—greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
  • 129 million children under 5 years old in the developing world are underweight–nearly 1 in 4.
  • Ten percent of children in the developing world are severely underweight.
  • 1 in 6 people are malnourished.

Poor nutrition plays a role in 3.8 million child deaths each year.

What we can do immediately:

Meals from the Heartland (http://mealsfromtheheartland.org)

Sign up to be on a two-hour team:

Gloria Dei is organizing teams to help package food August 27-30. Our goal is to provide 120 volunteers. So sign up individually or as a group at the display in the Narthex and Family Life Center.

If you are reading this blog, and do not attend our church, no problem; we would love for you to join one of our teams. Contact our church office at office@gloriadeionline.com or sign up at http://mealsfromtheheartland.org.

Support financially:

Give by placing a financial donation in the offering plate (write Meals from the Heartland in the memo line) or by giving online at http://www.gloriadeionline.com.

Since MFTH only purchases ingredients based on available cash funds, cash donations are needed. One meal costs only 20 cents, so a gift of $20 will provide meals for 100 children or a gift of $50 will provide meals for 250 children.

Resources to help educate and mobilize the Church:

http://www.live58.org

http://www.blessmanministries.org

http://www.worldvision.org

http://www.compassion.com

http://www.samaritanspurse.org

http://eventsforchange.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-starfish-story-one-step-towards-changing-the-world/

If you have any other resources, please share and then get involved somewhere for someone!

 

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