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?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Bible, Core Beliefs, and Immigration - By Britt Fuller

I believe the Scriptures are:

• God’s Revelation to humankind (complete, inspired, inerrant, and infallible)
• the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right,

therefore, possessing authority for the total well-being of humankind

The above, or a similar statement, is often the first article in an evangelical church or organization’s statement of beliefs. It is the foundation on which all other articles and declarations of faith are built. There is much packed into this statement of belief, but for me personally, it simply communicates that the Bible has authority in and over my life. I find this statement easy to affirm in its entirety.

However, what is affirmed in the mind should also be lived out in the body through action. If the above statement is truly a core belief, as many Christians across our country proclaim, it should consistently motivate our behaviors. As the Apostle Paul expressed in the example of salvation, what we believe should directly lead to action. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:10). James drives this point home when he challenges us to action with the command, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). True belief and action are inseparable. Our core beliefs, different from a statement of beliefs, are demonstrated not by what we say they are, but how we live them out. Often there is a gap between proclamation and application. Those not associated with the Christian church in the U.S. look on and plainly call this gap hypocrisy.