Thursday, December 24, 2009

A More Excellent Way - By Britt Fuller

As I was reading Jeremiah this morning, I was grieved and overwhelmed with verse 4:22. “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’ – in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.”

Why do I miss the how? Why does the Church miss the how? “I want to know how!” was my cry this morning. I heard a subtle urging, “Seek Me and you will find Me.” I didn’t expect a response so quick, but again, I’m thinking “how” I would do it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Enough-- by Melanie Garcia

Approximately 5 months ago, my wife and I moved into an apartment complex where our church has been ministering for many years. The church rents an apartment in the complex and uses it as a site for programs such as after-school tutoring, English as a Second Language classes, and summer neighborhood BBQs. This new experience of living within the community in which we serve has changed our lives and altered our perceptions. Early in the move, Melanie shared this journal entry with me and I encouraged her to share it with others. -Emmanuel

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother."
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Mark 10:17-23

In a span of two weeks, I have become the richest person in my neighborhood.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

“No temas, yo estoy contigo”-- by Emmanuel Garcia

Isabella Rose Garcia was born on Sunday, November 29th at 6:48am. The day will stay with me; I’m sure, for the rest of my life. But, probably not for the reasons that you might guess. Yes it was absolutely incredible to experience the birth of our first child. As I sit here on my living room floor while my wife and my new little girl sleep beside me, I am filled with gratitude that only the Lord can know. However, the 28 hours of labor that I had to endure that weekend was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my life. (I realize that this statement seems wrong in so many ways.) What I mean is, it was so hard to see my wife suffer through so much pain. It was terrible! In the 28 hours leading up to Isabella’s birth, it seemed as though everything that could have possibly gone wrong...did.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Larry - My Friend, My Teacher, My Brother - By Britt Fuller

One day, over four years ago, Larry literally walked into my life. I had exited the Quincy El Train stop and was heading west on Adams to catch my Metra train after a long day of work and a night of graduate school. Larry wanted some food. I wanted to make my train and go home. The Lord had other plans.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Christian Obligation? - By Britt Fuller

When I first began to consider comprehensive immigration reform and what my perspective and resulting action as a follower of Jesus Christ should be, I discovered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. I was most interested in the concept of just and unjust laws which Dr. King addressed in this letter. I recognized then, and now even more so, the obvious and clear application and parallels of his letter and response compared to our current immigration system and situation in the United States.

This morning, I tuned into a radio discussion regarding the Manhattan Declaration, a statement signed by some 150 Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Leaders, which addresses the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. As stated in the official press release found on the Manhattan Declaration website, “The 4,700-word declaration issues a clarion call to Christians to adhere to their convictions and informs civil authorities that the signers will not – under any circumstance- abandon their Christian consciences.”

The declaration boldly communicates that it is to, “affirm (Christians’) right – and, more importantly, to embrace (Christians’) obligation – to speak and act in defense of these truths.” I was intrigued by this public, bold, and without a doubt, political display. At first opportunity, I read the statement in its entirety.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Love That Casts Out Fear - by Nydia Garcia Fuller

Fear is a very unique and extraordinary emotion. Yesterday while reading in Jeremiah, I was overwhelmed by how many times the Lord repeated the command to counteract and abstain from fear. “Fear not… Do not be dismayed… let no one make you afraid.” We are all familiar with this wording from the Lord. But in this context, it was time after time stated before, after, and during judgment. At first encounter, it seems so contradictory to “fear not” in the midst of judgment. Yet, while in His Word, the Lord is faithful to meet us at our point of need or burden. Quite possibly, fear was a focus in this passage for me as it is currently a point of personal struggle.

Put simply, I’m currently facing a situation that I fear and do not want to confront. In addition to the fear, I also feel inundated with shame because it is a situation I’ve previously faced. As the situation lingers and the fear builds, it occupies my thoughts and can ultimately be all-consuming and overwhelming. I’m a mom of three with one on the way. The Lord often gives me understanding of His word and application to my life through my children. At the young ages of 8, 6, and 5, their emotions and motivations are much more transparent and easily understood as they face life’s experiences, many for the first time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Persecution and Immigration - A Matter of Proximity - By Britt Fuller

Let me disclose up front that I am a member of a large, conservative, primarily mono-ethnic, evangelical church. We are undoubtedly a Bible-believing church, but I long for the day when our inclination to love our neighbor approaches our fervency for the truth.

Yet I was encouraged and thankful this weekend when we took part in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Information was communicated regarding the 200 million Christians worldwide who live under persecution. We were provided staggering statistics concerning the state of the church in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, and Somalia. We watched a heart-piercing video, responded in worship, and lifted our voices in prayer on behalf of those in the body who are suffering for the name and cause of Christ.

We care and we respond because the persecuted church is a part of the body, our body, the body of Christ. Scripture is unambiguous: although we are many members, we are one body
(1 Corinthians 12). In my conservative, evangelical church, this relationship with the persecuted church, despite the vast geographic separation, disconnected cultures, and unfamiliar languages, was unequivocally affirmed this weekend.

Then, like an unpredicted twist in the plot, the last thought communicated in this part of the service was from 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.”
With that verse, my heart and mind altered its previous course and raced to the undocumented brothers and sisters in our congregation, in our local community, and in our nation – those who live amongst us, not a world away. Are they not also a part of our body? Are they not also suffering? And perhaps the biggest question to ponder: are we not also suffering with them?