Written by Mark Willey
You hear it all the time. “No worries”. A gracious response to you when your mess up was at someone else’s expense. How lovely it would be if our lives could be lived in this mantra, “NO worries”. But, then life hits. So, when Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:5-7), it is an attention getter. He reminds us…
Written by Lisa Meyers
One of the hardest things to do when you are in the throes of raising children (diapers, school lunches, soccer practice!) is to take time out to think about and plan meaningful family activities. And yet, family traditions… vacations together to the same beach house or egg hunts at Grandma’s house or fall apple picking… are all occasions children remember long into their adulthood. And the truly important ones get passed on to their children. I know this because it’s happening to me! We have dear friends who we made memories with while experiencing those traditions year after year. We’d laugh and say,” why are we doing this again?” And the answer always came back, “because it’s a tradition!”
Written by Pastor Jim
There are many ways to describe Guatemala. The travel guides say it this way.
“Guatemala, a Central American country south of Mexico, is home to volcanoes, rainforests and ancient Mayan sites. The capital, Guatemala City, features the stately National Palace of Culture and the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Antigua, west of the capital, contains preserved Spanish colonial buildings. Lake Atitlán, formed in a massive volcanic crater, is surrounded by coffee fields and villages.
That is all accurate and actually there is so much more in its rich heritage and culture. But there are other ways to describe it as well. It is still an emerging nation that is still dealing with old ways of doing things, trying to help a relatively poor population get ahead, struggling with illiteracy in some areas and knowing how to help many people who live by subsistence farming.
That is much more the Guatemala we serve in when we go there on our medical missions trips. We hold clinics in places where many people are poor, who live in houses that are far below the standard we are used to here in the United States and make a living by working hard in the fields or little shops for enough money to buy food for the day. They are very gracious people and are very grateful for the help they receive. They are extremely patient as they wait their turn to see the doctor or respiratory therapist or pharmacist. And when they are done, after expressing many, many thanks they go back to their small houses to continue on with their lives.
However, for some them, there is a huge difference.
Working in a place where nothing works but God!
Delivered by Harold Ebersole
During a recent staff meeting, Harold Ebersole got to share the broad view of his life and ministry with Christ, being led through unexpected twists and turns at every step of the way. He talks through 7 principles from the classic book, Experiencing God. Listen to the story below.
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A Moveable Feast. Not to be confused with Hemingway’s famous autobiographical book, bearing this title, which describes his years as a young writer in Paris, full of joie de vivre (joy of life). No, the moveable feast, I’m referring to is Easter. Long before Hemingway wrote his memoir, Easter was known as a “moveable feast” because it was a Christian celebratory feast day which fell on a different date each year, unlike the other Christian holidays with fixed dates. In 2019, Easter’s moveable feast, falls on April 21st.
This description of Easter seems perfectly suited in more than just it’s nomadic calendar setting. A “moveable feast” suggests that this is a celebration we can take with us, where ever we go. It’s moveable and living, just as we are, just as Christ is. Like packing a fantastic picnic feast, we can celebrate Christ’s living presence in any and every place and situation we find ourselves. But a delicious picnic requires preparation. Historically, the Christian church has set apart the 40 days before Easter to prepare for the “feast” celebrating Christ’s saving death and resurrection.
The blizzard hit on Sunday morning. A lone farmer showed up at church. The young pastor prepared to close up for the day. But, the farmer replied, “If I bring out my load of feed to the hogs, and only one hog shows up, I still feed the one that makes the effort”. So, the pastor preached to his lone congregant. The pastor found himself preaching with great liberty. Flying in rarified heights of oratorical glory, he ended up preaching well past his normal sermon time. Somewhat sheepishly, he noted the clock on the wall and hurried to say goodbye to the farmer. The farmer replied, “Pastor, I would feed that one hog. But, I would not feel the need to dump the whole durn load!!”
There are times when we need to heed the farmer’s advice. We can dump too much. We have truth to share. Truth about God. Truth about a person’s issues. Truth about our read of a situation. We never want to be unwilling to “speak truth in love” (Ephesians 4:25). But, sometimes we need to hold on to our “truth”. How do you know when it is time to not dump the whole load?
Harold and I walk into an expansive fitness center. “Wow,” we say. Large signs – “Performance”, “Motivate”, “Achieve” – hang from the walls. Banners list the benefits of connecting with a personal trainer. On a wall-TV, experts recommend best routines for this “fitness journey.” My head swivels right to left and back to center.
One muscular manager steps out from behind the front desk and hands me a schedule of classes. He then confidently motions us to walk with him around the facilities. He proudly points out rows of earnest exercisers, every level, every age. I see a couple men pass each other and pause to talk. The manager pulls my attention back with his comments. “When you come in, you know what to expect. We’ll supply everything you need to accomplish your goals. Assessments. Group fitness classes...” As we walk past floor-to-ceiling glass, we see a group of glistening women stepping in synch. Music is pumping, and the coach shouts, “Hey, I didn’t design this to be easy. But it’s so worth it!” Our tour guide tells us, “Instructors will give you everything possible for the best outcome.” We next walk past a snack-bar – One man is gulping down an energy drink, and he nods at us. Our tour guide says, “We recommend these health drinks too. And have I mentioned our website and podcasts? Knowledge builds motivation, you know.” Okay, I’m impressed. Harold’s grinning and nodding. The manager next pulls out gym membership papers and hands Harold a pen…
As I walked into her little house in Taxisco, Guatemala I was immediately impressed with several things as I looked around. These are people of very humble means. The floor of the house was packed dirt and the walls of the house were made mostly of tin that looked like old roofing material. The house was pretty dark without much natural light or ventilation. It was smoky on the inside because of the open fire which was used for their heating and cooking. There was no electricity, I could see no evidence of running water and the bathroom facilities were an outhouse in their small backyard. I realized it does not get much more primitive than this.
The lady we were visiting had just been visited by Dr. O and RN T just a couple of hours before I arrived. They had come to see her because she was unable to walk to the place where we were holding the medical clinic. She had severe respiratory problems and needed help. Dr. O treated her as best he could for the respiratory problems and an infection as well. He was able to do a nebulizer treatment by plugging the machine into the electric of a nearby neighbor. Medicine was provided and encouragement was given before Dr. O and T went to another “house call”.
Have you ever been driving home in the evening and glanced at a house you pass, noticing the warm light shining through the window? Have you thought, like I have, “I wonder what they are doing tonight? It looks so inviting in that room!” We’ve probably all experienced that wonder before. Chances are, the people living in that house are doing the same thing you and I do when we get home from work or an evening meeting. We kick off our shoes, make and eat dinner and settle in. Maybe we get the kids in the bath and in bed. Maybe we check email or Instagram or throw in a load of laundry. If we have time, we watch a movie on Netflix or read a few chapters of a good book (if we can stay awake!) We have that in common. We spend our evenings doing what most other people in our neighborhood or apartment buildings are doing. We live a common life.
At Fellowship, we also live a common life. We have in common the habit of getting up on Sunday mornings and making our way to church. We worship, listen to the sermon, drink coffee together and head home for a Sabbath afternoon. We have our faith in common. We share the belief that Jesus really is who He said He was, and that He will do what He says He will do. Together and as individuals we believe and trust in God our Savior.
Although our life is common, it is not mundane. It is not ordinary, although it may seem so at times. In reality, we live an uncommon life in that God’s Spirit lives in us. In 2 Corinthians 6:16 Paul writes to the believers, “And God has said, ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” We live with the Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us. That’s certainly not ordinary! When I take time to simmer on that truth, I am blown away by the fact that God uses ordinary people to accomplish HIS unordinary deeds!
What is your most favorite form of travel? Some people just love road trips in their car, windows down, music playing and wind blowing through their hair. Others think that a plane is the way to go. Get on, sit back and read or listen to your music, maybe watch a movie and suddenly – you’re at your destination. Some folks love the adventure of a train and the gentle rocking motion, the restful pace and getting to watch the countryside as it rolls past. But very few of us would choose a noisy, dirty, hot, crowded and uncomfortable bus to do most of our travel for work or pleasure.
Marta Perez is one of our missionaries who serve in the small country of Belize. Belize is a small country with roots going back to the colonial era of Britain and is now a commonwealth of Great Britain. The official language is English but there are many Spanish speakers and also a local language that is a kind of English based Creole. Marta and the rest of her team work with children and teens throughout the country in teaching Bible clubs, hosting youth events, doing special programs in schools and having summer camp. It is a valuable ministry and has far reaching impact.