Archive for August, 2017

Hurricane Harvey – How to Help

Lester Holt doing an interview from the neighborhood of former Granada members.

I was so pleased to hear that people part of our Granada family (former members and friends) who live in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey are safe. Some were evacuated by boat from flooded neighborhoods.  Others found their way to high ground before the waters rose. Yes, search and rescue efforts continue. In some areas, the rain has not stopped. In others, the flood waters have not reached their peak.

A number of sister churches have had their buildings flooded. Many of the members of these congregations have homes under water. The situation remains dire.  But, the good news is that many people are rallying to help. Even before Harvey made landfall we had a disaster relief team on site.  Provisions and resources were being moved into position to resource the team and aid in the recovery.

In Miami, we live with the legacy of destruction from hurricanes. We know the danger. We also understand the long-term process of rebuilding a house and rebuilding lives. That’s why we want to get involved. We want to help in practical ways. How can you help?

Right now. 1.  Pray.  Pray for the safety of the people in harm’s way. Pray for the team on site. Pray for the affected churches and people in those communities.  Pray for the needed resources to help them begin to respond.  2. Give.  Use the link below to give directly to the work we and our sister churches are doing in those communities.  We know the people leading the effort and have confidence in them. They are there for no other reason than to love and serve the people that have been affected and to honor Christ in all their efforts. Any resources given will be used well.  3. Reach out. If you know someone in the disaster area, check on them.  Find out how you can help them in practical ways.

Later. 1. Keep doing the above, and also consider participating in or supporting a team that assists in the long-term effort of rebuilding and restoration.  We’ll do our best to keep you informed about these opportunities going forward. Remember, help will be needed for years!  2. Don’t stop praying.  We trust God who works through world-changing situations to bring about moments of grace.  Let’s continue to call upon him.

Link to site:

https://pcamna.org/disaster-response/storms/resuce

Direct link to give:

https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2/?giftid=44CE593586F5494

Link to Facebook site of the team coordinators:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/114355750787/?fref=ts%2F

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Grateful

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.  IN CHRIST ALONE” WORDS AND MUSIC BY KEITH GETTY & STUART TOWNEND

 

It’s been a tough week for all of us.  As a pastor, outside of election week, I’m not sure I’ve heard more political discussion and seen more political intensity than I have this week. I’m reluctant to speak when so many other voices fill the room. This is a meditation more than a statement or prophetic word. First, I feel grateful, no, deeply grateful.  Over the complete course of my life, Jesus has been lovingly leading my heart to see my need for grace—that I am a great sinner needing a great savior.  You see, my sin detector works really well for other people, but has never really worked well in exposing my heart.  Jesus has persistently and lovingly held up a spiritual mirror to reveal the depths of my soul. I say lovingly because he reveals that he might apply his love (while the sin I detect in others often provides me the vantage point from which to judge harshly and without mercy). This week Jesus gently revealed my heart showing me that I might not hate people of different ethnic backgrounds, but that I might be tempted to hate the haters and to judge them as beyond the reach of God’s grace. I’m grateful for grace, for the persistent love of Jesus.

Second, Jesus exposed the foundations I’ve built on. The events of the week left me feeling discouraged and afraid for the country. It was more than concern over division and racism. It was a feeling that the foundations were being shaken.  I was left wondering, “What have I built my security on?”  I remember the time when King David’s advisors told him he was in danger and he had better run for his life.  He asked the question: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3) David tells us that at that time he could see God in his temple and on his heavenly throne completely unshaken by what was happening.  This is where our hearts should be, where I want my foundation to rest. Are the events that are unfolding driving me to Jesus, to a deeper trust and dependence on him? I am grateful for a security in Christ more than sufficient for the day.

Finally, do I see the beauty of the gospel and how much our world needs grace? From the beginning of Jesus’ movement of grace, people have been brought together humbled by their sin and equipped with Jesus’ love. There has been nothing like it in the world.  Jewish people and gentiles and people of every nation have found a new identity as children of God and members together of Jesus’ body. He has brought a peace that will never come by shifting the balance of power from one group to another. We do not know the way of peace. This is why Jesus came and what he came to do.

Sharing this grace is a desperate need today. Of course, it always has been, but God has been pushing me to see this more clearly.  This means loving our neighbors and thereby showing them Jesus. It means laying aside the empty and divisive promises of power and taking up the towel to wash feet. It means refusing to join the angry refrain and instead mingling our voices in the beautiful chorus announcing freedom for captives, recovery of sight for the blind, and the day of the Lord’s favor.  We have the privilege of doing this in a unique city where division can be dissolved by the love of Jesus! He has made the way for us to love and extend our hands to those most hurting, most feeling outside, and most in need, to show that the Lord does not show favoritism, and that everyone needs grace. Everyone. I’m grateful that Jesus has invited us to share in his mission.

So that is the journey my heart has been on this week. Humility. Dependence. Trusting the loving way of Jesus as the hope for our world.  Lord, teach us how to love one another, how to love our enemies. To do good to those who hurt us. To trust in You. Amen.