Posts Tagged "World"

Easter’s Mortal Wound – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Easter’s Mortal Wound – Pastor Matt

The Easter celebration is filled with powerful images.  The crown of thorns shows us the sheer brutality and ironic sensibilities of Jesus’ executioners.  The Via Delorosa is marked by the stations of Jesus’ ascent to Golgotha.  And the cross is a vivid reminder of the pain caused by God turning away from Jesus.

What I love about the Bible is how everything is interrelated.  One of the most obvious interrelations is the unity between the Garden of Eden and the place Jesus died.  I have heard it said that Genesis 3 gives the very first prophecy concerning Jesus.  After Satan successfully leads Adam and Eve into sin, God says this, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heal.”  That he is a man born of a woman.  That he will not succumb to temptation, live a perfect life and crush the head of Satan.

The he is Jesus.  Satan strikes Jesus with the pounding of a pike through his feet on the cross.  And Jesus deals a mortal wound to Satan’s head by overcoming Satan’s most powerful weapon…death.  Therefore, the death of Jesus sets off a chain of events that cannot be reversed and the doom of Satan is secured.

It is certainly true that the work of Christ on the cross (the Atonement) is marked by a number of important effects.  One effect is imputing our sin upon Jesus and simultaneously imputing his righteousness upon us.  But another effect is the ultimate destruction of that vile snake that has hounded the righteous since the first rays of the sun.

Since the children have flesh and blood (us), he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil…  Hebrews 2:14

This Easter season, let’s remember not only our undeserved salvation, but also the deathblow dealt to him that would take away our salvation.

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Talk About a Funk – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Talk About a Funk – Pastor Matt

Talk about a funk.  The Olympics are over.  We are in the heart of one of the worst winters on record.  But at least gas prices are going up.

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly get into mental funks.  When I’m in a mental funk, I spend too much time thinking negatively about things, people and problems of which I have no control.

In a sick way, I kind of like my funk.  Somehow it makes me feel above-it-all, like I know something no one else knows.  The sad reality is, my mental funk is nothing new, and it doesn’t make me unique.   Another word for mental funk is discontentment, and the world is the highest producer of discontentment.

Paul says in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

In other words, one of our primary goals is to renew our minds with the transformative gospel.  We, therefore, spend our mental energy praying, dwelling on the Word and compassion for others.  If we do not renew our minds every day, we conform to the pattern of the world—discontentment i.e. mental funk.

When you renew your mind a miracle happens.  You again see the wide-open spaces of the Gospel.  You are then recommissioned for your work in building God’s kingdom.  And those problems become a good excuse to speak to your Father in heaven.

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Going to the Ends of the Earth – Cassie Buelow

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Going to the Ends of the Earth – Cassie Buelow

Have you ever traveled out of the country? Just the thought of sitting on a plane for hours upon hours in anticipation of stepping onto new soil is exciting. Plane rides have really proved to be a great people watching opportunity, especially for international flights because you have people from all over the world going to or from their home countries for countless opportunities and reasons.

May 6th I got on my first ever international flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Kigali, ending in Entebbe, Uganda. I was going for school as an intercultural studies major; and part of my degree is to complete a fieldwork study and internship internationally, but I too was going as I was called by God to go to the ends of the earth.

You may be curious as to how I ended up there or what I had the opportunity to do, and I’d love to share just a glimpse into my three months in Uganda: First of all, as I mentioned, I had to complete a month long field work trip and a two month internship internationally. I had the world open to where I could go, but God had a plan for me in Uganda.

My first month I got to spend my time living with a host family. When we think of host families in America we imagine a foreign student coming to learn about America in some degree and that is exactly what I was doing, without the luxuries of running water, air conditioning, my own bed and pillow, wireless internet, a cell phone, among other things.

I was living in a home consisting of a mom, brother, sister, and nephew, both grandparents, and other extended family lived in the surrounding huts. Yes, did I mention I was living in a mud (and manure) hut, with little electricity, sleeping under a mosquito net and having thousands of spiders, a few cockroaches and a rat as pet.

A typical day for me was to get up at 5:30am and go to the gardens with my host mom. We would weed beans, tomatoes, replant onions, etc. until 9am. Then we’d make our way home sometimes stopping by huts to greet people. Upon reaching home I would begin making breakfast with my host sister while doing housework like sweeping, washing dishes, or clothes. After breakfast I would do two hours of language and culture learning with my host brother. Lunch would follow and then adventures into the foot trails came next. As we traveled the foot paths we’d be welcomed into any hut we passed and I got to practice my language, learn culture, and build relationships. I would walk the trail and before you knew it I’d have anywhere from one to thirty and sometimes more children following me. I was likely the first white person that many of the children had seen. I’d make it back to my host home for a little time to relax and wash up before dinner, prayer and bed always came by 8:30pm.

That was routine Monday through Saturday, but on Sundays things were a bit different. Sunday was always seen as a day of rest. I got to “sleep in” before getting up and going to church with my host mom and host brother. I attended a catholic church with my host family and the first day was asked to introduce myself in front of the church. I decided to do so in their local language as I had learned to do that by then and I had the entire church laughing. They laughed because they were impressed I’d learned their language, but also because I guess introductions are rather important and goes a lot deeper than American introductions. After my first Sunday the church asked me to give a sermon and I agreed, however the night before I was supposed to give my sermon I got really sick and woke up Sunday morning knowing I would not be able to give my sermon.

All the while, I would get together with other students from my university and tour organizations in the area. We got to lead a group of 200 children in a Bible study at the Child Restoration Outreach.  We met hundreds of people at TASO (an HIV/AIDS organization) who struggle to live with a disease that was thought to take over Africa at one time.  We also got to do community development with Mission—Moving Mountains.  And we spent three days doing Jesus Film Ministry in Lira giving sermons and testimonies of forgiveness and God’s faithfulness, among other things.

At that the other students and my professor were headed home and I had two months ahead of me in Uganda. I had the seemingly once in a lifetime change to travel to Fort Portal Uganda to meet my sponsor child Babaritah. This was such an eye-opening experience. I was blessed in a way I never imagined to know that my small amount of money each month was going this little girl to improve her life.

Then I traveled North to Lira, then over to Gulu where I would remain for two months doing my international internship with The Recreation Project. I was blessed with the opportunity to be an intern at The Recreation Project for nine weeks. When I first looked into internships I was torn between two places, but God had a plan for me and certainly going to TRP was where he wanted me.

TRP is a young and small organization created to use recreation as a form of therapy. TRP creates obstacles and challenges that put kids in a state of fear (as they were when they were abducted by the Lords Resistance Army, or living in abusive homes, etc.) in a healthy and encouraging environment. It also allows children to be creative, develop a plan, and build trust, relationships, communication and other life skills.

Some of the highlights from my nine weeks at TRP include working with a group of women from the northern most part of Uganda who were rescued out of the sex industry. There was something about those women that was encouraging. I watched them come in quiet, without energy, and very much chained by their pasts, but after a day in the forest—where TRP exists—these women were crying in our arms, overcoming fears, and learning to communicate their emotions of fear, anger, disgust, etc. The women left our presence as new, free women.

I also got to work with a group of girls ages 7-15 from Zion Project. These girls live in a rescue home at Zion Project as they were rescued out of abusive homes. I connected with these girls on a level so unexplainable, but so real. TRP isn’t a sit down and force youth to talk about their issues kind of place, it is a place where we use recreation to provide youth with healthy coping habits. I connected with these girls on a level where we all knew we came from—somehow—the same past, but we never once spoke about it. Instead we encouraged each other and built healthy relationships for what may have been the first time for those girls.

Working with the girls from Zion project was much of a dream come true. When I realized I was called by God to do mission work I had a feeling it was supposed to be with children rescued out of abusive homes or out of the sex trade and I watched that God-given dream come true while in Gulu this summer, I was simply blessed to experience that.

Outside of those two fantastic groups I met many others as they came through the forest. I worked with CEO’s, children born in captivity, youth who are awaiting trial and countless other groups of people. It was all a growing experience and a learning opportunity for me. TRP is run by Christians, but the organization is not associated with religion or faith; still, I found many ways to communicate God’s love to the broken and traumatized people of Northern Uganda.

I too was coaching softball at a nearby primary school. This was the most exhausting part of my internship, but also a ton of fun. On an average day I had sixty to eighty youth to myself.

I had thought they would have known a little upon arriving, but I was wrong. The children didn’t even know how to choose and put on their gloves.  So I was starting from ground zero, and in nine weeks the girls came a long way and they were playing the actual game of softball before I left.

Daily, I was able to be with handfuls of children as I walked the roads of Gulu. I built relationships with the children, with the staff at The Recreation Project and with the staff that took such care of me at my guest house. I was impacted and grew in ways I never thought imaginable.

Thinking back to before I left I asked myself why I was going—and yes I was going for school and because God was calling me to go—but honestly I was going to be taught and changed by the people. In short I learned simplicity, thankfulness, forgiveness and joy to a level that Americans don’t understand totally.  So maybe that is why I went, that I could bring back those very lessons to the people of my very own culture. In our culture have more than we could possibly need and yet we lack joy and thankfulness. The people I lived among for three months have nothing and they often times don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, but they are the most joyful and thankful people I’ve ever encountered. I’d say my time in Uganda was too short. I didn’t want to leave and I’ve struggled being back in the states, but I have come to a peace knowing God will take me back when it is my time to go back and until then I will embrace every reason I am here.

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The Bride of Christ – Pastor Matt

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

The Bride of Christ – Pastor Matt

Something very interesting happens when a group of Christians get together.  Inevitably someone gets around to discussing the church; or better, some one starts complaining about the church.   It usually sounds something like this, “the church is too entertainment driven,” or “the church doesn’t look any different than the culture,” or my favorite “the church is filled with hypocritical people.”  It often sounds as though the church is a hurdle rather than the solution.

Do we have a high enough view of the church?  Do we respect the church in the way it should be respected?  Ephesians 5 talks about how the church will one day present herself to Christ as a pure and spotless bride, holy and blameless.  If that is true, the church will marry Christ as a bride her bridegroom.  Is salvation only for individuals but for the church also?

Think of it this way.  Our individual selves are an illustration of the church.  Yes we are individually working out our salvation, and at the same time we make mistakes.  How is the church any different?  The church is working out its salvation until the day of Christ, just as individuals do.  That means perfection isn’t the primary purpose of the church.  Therefore, if the church isn’t perfect, then why do we expect it to be?

I have a sneaking suspicion that when we complain about the church, we are really just frustrated.  We really do care that people find God.  We really do care that the gospel is shared in a healthy and loving way.  We really do want to bring Christ to the world.  When that doesn’t happen (or we don’t particularly like what we see), we want to put the blame somewhere.  And the church is a convenient place.

So can we criticize?  Certainly we can, but we only do so if it is helpful, and only if it’s loving.

The church is the hope of the world.  The church is God’s chosen instrument to bring his message to the lost and to build disciples.  The church will be joined to Christ as a loving bride.

What good things is the church doing today?

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