Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our "SONSHIP"


Bible Helps Overcome Today's Lack of Fatherhood, Says Pope

God the Father Reveals Himself as 'Infinitely Greater, More Faithful, More Total' Than Human Love

By Kathleen Naab

VATICAN CITY, January 31, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Benedict XVI admits that in today's problematic world, it is not always easy to envision God as Father. But the revelation found in Scripture helps overcome these difficulties, he says.

The Pope said this Wednesday as he dedicated his general audience address to a reflection on the "fundamental definition of God that the Creed gives us: He is Father."

"It is not always easy today to talk about fatherhood," the Holy Father observed. "Especially in the West, the broken families, the increasingly absorbing work commitments, the worries and often the effort to balance the family budget, the distracting invasion of the media into daily life, are some of the many factors that can prevent a peaceful and constructive relationship between fathers and their children. Communication becomes difficult at times, trust is weakened and the relationship with the father figure can become problematic; and thus it also becomes difficult to imagine God as a father, not having adequate models of reference."

He said that those who have had an authoritarian, inflexible father, or those with a father who is indifferent and lacking affection, find it difficult to think of God as a Father and "surrender to Him with confidence."

"But," the Pope stated, "biblical revelation helps to overcome these difficulties, telling us about a God who shows us what it means to truly be 'father.'"

The reference to God as Father, he continued, "helps to understand something of the love of God which however remains infinitely greater, more faithful, more total than that of any man."

The Pope went on to draw from Scripture multitude references to the characteristics of God as Father.

"God is a Father who never abandons his children, a loving Father who supports, helps, welcomes, forgives, saves, with a fidelity that immensely surpasses that of men, opening onto the dimensions of eternity," he said. "[...] The love of God the Father never fails, He never tires of us; He is love that gives to the extreme, even to the sacrifice of His Son. Faith gives us this certainty, which becomes a secure rock in constructing our lives: We can face all the moments of difficulty and danger, the experience of the darkness of crisis and of times of pain, supported by our faith that God does not leave us alone and is always near, to save us and bring us to eternal life."

Benedict described God's fatherhood as "infinite love, tenderness that stoops over us -- weak children -- in need of everything."

Omnipotence

Still, the Pope admitted, the presence of so much evil and suffering in the world can bring us to question God's omnipotence.

"We would like an omnipotence of God according to our mental schemes and our desires: an 'omnipotent' God who solves the problems, who intervenes to save us from every difficulty, who defeats all the harmful powers, changes the course of events and cancels out pain," he said.

Hence, there are those who deny God's omnipotence. But in fact, "faith in the Almighty God takes us through very different paths: to learn to recognize that God's thoughts are different from our thoughts, that God's ways are different from our ways (cf. Is 55:8), and even his omnipotence is different: It is not expressed as an automatic or arbitrary force, but is marked by a loving and fatherly freedom."

The Pontiff suggested that in making free creatures, God renounces something of his freedom, "empowering our freedom."

"In this way He loves and respects our free response of love to his call," he said. "Like a Father, God want us to be his children and to live as such in his Son, in communion, in full intimacy with Him."

God seems weak, the Pope said, if we think of Jesus, who allowed himself to be put to death. But this weakness is the "true way of being powerful!"

"This is the power of God! And this power will win," he said. "[...] Only one who is truly powerful can endure evil and show compassion; only one who is truly powerful can fully exercise the power of love. And God, to whom all things belong because all things were made by Him, reveals his strength by loving everyone and everything, in a patient waiting for the conversion of us men, whom he wants to have as children."

"To say 'I believe in God the Father Almighty,' in his power, in his way of being Father, is always an act of faith, of conversion, of transformation of our mind, of all our affection, of our entire way of life," the Pope concluded. "God grant that we may receive the gift of our 'sonship,' to live fully the reality of the Creed, in trusting abandonment to the love of the Father and His merciful omnipotence that saves."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center - San Diego


E-Vangel Newsletter
January 28, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “A Greater Calling”

Since becoming Christ United Methodist Ministry Center in July 2011, much of our attention has by necessity focused on repairs and maintenance of our 60+ year-old buildings.

That is not to diminish our mission of providing these ministries:

·       To Feed The Hungry - (Crossroads Grocery Ministry)
·       To Quench (Spiritual) Thirst - (Worship Center)
·       To Clothe the Naked - (Brother's Keeper - Thrift Shop - Dress for Success)
·       To Befriend the Stranger - (Haitian and Refugee Ministries)
·       To Care for the Captive - (Coming Home to Stay)
·       To Minister to the Sick - (Balm of Gilead Spiritual Healing)

These are based upon and map to the things that truly matter, according to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 25:35-36:

·       “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
·       I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink;
·       I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
·       Naked, and you clothed Me;
·       I was sick, and you visited Me;
·       I was in prison, and you came to Me.”
·       (New American Standard Bible - Notice the “Me” is capitalized, for Jesus said that in doing these acts of kindness “unto the least of these” we are doing them unto him!)

Being an incubator for churches and charities and helping them to get established has been our purpose for the past seven years as we transitioned from church to urban ministry center. That purpose will continue. After attending two meetings last week, the Holy Spirit is beckoning us to fulfill A Greater Calling.

The first meeting was Tuesday at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Ohio Street. This small ecumenical minister’s prayer group has a long history and big vision: to discover and coordinate the various ministries being offered in the Mid-City area of San Diego.

The second meeting was Thursday at First United Methodist Church, San Diego. This United Methodist minister/laity group is seeking to do much the same thing – to offer food, clothing and care to those in need in what we call the “central mission area”, roughly the same urban area of focus as the ecumenical group.

In both meetings, we all agreed this NEEDS to be done. But who has the time, resources and expertise to do this daunting task? And more importantly, how?

I imagined the amazing opportunity this presents for the Ministry Center and all these other churches. If someone or organization collects and maintains a database of what each church is doing, they certainly could be more efficient in offering acts of kindness to those who come for help. Plus, they will be more effective in meeting the needs of those who need a helping hand. And the database should not be limited to churches, for there are many other agencies such as the Red Cross, Goodwill, Salvation Army, METRO, Good Neighbor Center, Catholic Charities and Father Joe’s Village who offer helping hands.

I became convicted, convinced and enthusiastic that this is the perfect fit and the proper greater calling for Christ Ministry Center! While we have limited resources (money and man/womanpower) alone to perform the six ministries of Matthew 25 by ourselves, we can help ALL ministers, lay servants, and charities to become aware of collective outreach ministries. By awareness, cooperation and coordination, we certainly will accomplish more together than any one of us can do by ourselves.

For example, when a hungry family comes to Christ Ministry Center for food on Tuesday, we would no longer have to tell them to come back Friday for the grocery ministry. We could simply query the online database to see what church, charity or agency has food available on Tuesday! And it is not just “food ministries”. The database could contain information on resources for shelter, clothing, employment, counseling, medical care, etc.

This is huge! Please pray for us as we seek to implement a better way to serve “the least of these” in the heart of San Diego.

Blessings to you for an exhilarating week of walking with our Lord God, Pastor Bill

From the Quote Garden:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
~ George Bernard Shaw ~

REMINDER: “Integrity Academy begins this Sunday, February 3, 9:00-9:40 AM at Christ United Methodist Ministry Center, 3295 Meade Avenue, San Diego CA 92116. The Academy will meet each of the four Sundays in February at the same time (four 40-minute sessions). You are invited to attend, and learn how to begin your journey to a life if integrity, happiness and success. For details call the church office (619) 284-9205 or respond to this email.

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore.

25 September 2013
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!
 It is like the precious oil on the head,

    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life for evermore.
Psalm 133
What a difference might (will) be brought about
if (when) we fully recognize(d) that
the fellowship of believers is
"The fellowship of the Holy Spirit,"
"The unity of the Spirit."

by T. Austin-Sparks     March-April 1930

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

BE FREE TO LOVE - BE FORGIVEN



January 18, 2013
Healing
Today's gospel, Mark 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”–he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

I have never known quite what to make of the question of the forgiveness of sins in this passage, or what the 'easier' is supposed to mean. In preaching it, therefore, I have usually tended to shift the focus to the four men who carry the paralytic and break through the roof in order to get him in front of Jesus. That's a challenging image of Christian friendship, I say, exerting ourselves and even doing what is outrageous in order to get a friend into the presence of Jesus. Fine, it's a clever thought, and it makes for a nice little homily. Nevertheless, I was happy to find in Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives a beautiful reflection on the aspects of the passage that I have never known how to understand, and which are certainly more important:
The paralytic needed to be able to walk, not to be delivered from his sins. The scribes criticized the theological presumption of Jesus' words: the sick man and those around him were disappointed, because Jesus had apparently overlooked the man's real need. 

I consider this whole scene to be of key significance for the question of Jesus' mission, in the terms with which it was first described in the angel's message to Joseph. ["...you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21] In the passage concerned, both the criticism of the scribes and the silent expectation of the onlookers is acknowledged. Jesus then demonstrates his ability to forgive sins by ordering the sick man to take up his pallet and walk away healed. At the same time, the priority of forgiveness for sins as the foundation of all true healing is clearly maintained. 
Man is a relational being. And if his first, fundamental relationship is disturbed--his relationship with God--then nothing else can be truly in order. This is where the priority lies in Jesus' message and ministry: before all else, he wants to point man toward the essence of his malady, and to show him--if you are not healed there, then however many good things you may find, you not truly healed.
It is from carrying poorly the injuries to our spiritual heart that we fall into the worst kinds of violence and disregard for ourselves and one another, but it also through their healing in forgiveness that we become free to love.

THE CHURCH OF GOD IS UNIFIED IN DIVERSITY


Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

18-25 January 2013
THEME FOR THE YEAR 2013
What does God require of us?
(Micah 6: 6-8)
“‘With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
The path of Christian discipleship involves walking the path of justice, mercy and humility. The metaphor of ‘walking’ has been chosen to link together the 8 days of prayer because, as an active, intentional and ongoing act, the metaphor of walking communicates the dynamism which characterizes Christian discipleship. Further, the theme of the tenth assembly of the WCC to be held in Busan, Korea, in 2013 - ‘God of life lead us to Justice and Peace’ resonates with the image of the Trinitarian God who accompanies humanity and walks into human history while inviting all people to walk in partnership. 

The 8 subthemes for the week, related to different modes of walking, enable us to focus on various dimensions of an authentic Christian discipleship which walks the path of righteousness that leads to life (Prov. 12:28a).
Day 1: walking in conversation. We reflect on the importance of the practices of dialogue and conversation, as a means of overcoming barriers. Both in ecumenism, and in the struggles for liberation of people across the globe, the skills of speaking and listening are recognised as essential. In such authentic conversation we can come to recognise Christ more clearly.
Day 2: walking with the broken body of Christ. Recognising the solidarity between Christ crucified, and the “broken peoples” of the world, such as the Dalits, we seek as Christians together to learn to be more deeply a part of this solidarity ourselves. In particular, the relation of eucharist and justice is opened up, and Christians invited to discover practical ways of eucharistic living in the world.
Day 3: walking towards freedom. Today we are invited to celebrate the efforts of communities across our world that are oppressed, like the Dalits in India, as they protest against all that enslaves human beings. As Christians committed to greater unity, we learn that the removal of all that separates people from one another is an essential part of fullness of life, freedom in the Spirit.
Day 4: walking as children of the earth. Awareness of our place in God’s creation draws us together, as we realize our interdependence upon one another and the earth. Contemplating the urgent calls to environmental care, and to proper sharing and justice with regard to the fruits of the earth, Christians are called into lives of active witness, in the spirit of the year of Jubilee.
Day 5: walking as the friends of Jesus. Today we reflect on the biblical images of human friendship and love as models for God’s love for every human being. Understanding ourselves as beloved friends of God has consequences for relationships within the community of Jesus. Within the Church, all barriers of exclusion are inconsistent within a community in which all are equally the beloved friends of Jesus.
Day 6: walking beyond barriers. Walking with God means walking beyond barriers that divide and damage the children of God. The biblical readings on this day look at various ways in which human barriers are overcome, culminating in St Paul’s teaching that “As many of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Day 7: walking in solidarity. To walk humbly with God means walking in solidarity with all who struggle for justice and peace. Walking in solidarity has implications not just for individual believers, but for the very nature and mission of the whole Christian community. The Church is called and empowered to share the suffering of all by advocacy and care for the poor, the needy and the marginalised. Such is implicit in our prayer for Christian unity this week.
Day 8: walking in celebration. The biblical texts on this day speak about celebration, not in the sense of celebrating a successful completion, but celebration as a sign of hope in God and in God’s justice. Similarly, the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is our sign of hope that our unity will be achieved according to God’s time and God’s means.
What God requires of us today is to walk the path of justice, mercy and humility. This path of discipleship involves walking the narrow path of God’s reign and not the highway of today’s empires. Walking this path of righteousness involves the hardships of struggle, the isolation which accompanies protest and the risk associated with resisting “the powers and principalities” (Ep 6:12). This is especially so when those who speak out for justice are treated as trouble makers and disrupters of peace. In this context we need to understand that peace and unity are complete only if founded on justice.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

World Mandate West in San Diego

Schedule: January 25th to 27th, 2013
God has given His people a mandate: to go into all the world to preach good news and make disciples of every tongue, tribe and nation.
For the last 20 years, World Mandate, hosted by Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX, has inspired thousands of people to reach the nations of the earth.
Beginning with one conference in Texas, World Mandate has now spread to four regional conferences on the West Coast, in Texas, on the East Coast, and in Europe. Visit worldmandate.com to learn more.
World Mandate is a conference for anyone who loves Jesus and wants to know more about His passion for the nations of the world. Through worship, inspiring teaching and powerful encounters with God, you will have the opportunity to have your heart revived and become more aware of what God is doing in the earth.
Last year over 700 people gathered for our first missions conference in San Diego: World Mandate West. It's happening again from January 25-27, 2013. All Peoples Church will be putting on the event at Skyline Church in San Diego. Expect powerful worship and dynamic teaching at this San Diego missions conference. Come get God's heart for the nations!
2013 Speakers
Max Lucado loves words, written or spoken. His words have been shaped into sermons, bestselling books, videos, devotionals, songs, greeting cards, booklets and commentaries that have inspired millions of people. More than 100 million of his products have been created in 41 languages, including 80 million books. Max’s books have appeared on every major national bestseller list, and he’s been featured in countless media outlets and national broadcasts.
Max and his wife, Denalyn, have three grown daughters and live in San Antonio, where Max has served the Oak Hills Church since 1988. Prior to serving at Oak Hills, Max and Denalyn served as missionaries in Brazil.
Jim Yost, his wife, three daughters, and son live in a coastal town of Indonesia called Sentani where they are involved in cell church planting among troubled youth, prostitutes, prison inmates and broken families. Their ministry in Indonesia has included some Bible translation, developing literacy materials, conducting medical clinics, and church leadership training.
Jim’s growing burden is to catalyze church planting movements in Papua, throughout Indonesia and beyond.
Jim also lives a lifestyle of supernatural miracles, perseverance, and passion. You’ll be sure to want to hear the story of how God used this Southern California native to be involved in the nations of the earth.
Rev Shodankeh Johnson hails from Bo, Sierra Leone where, by the age of 20 he had started his first church plant in Makeni, north of Sierra Leone. He is the Executive President of the New Harvest Ministries in Bo, Sierra Leone and the President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone. A true visionary, Rev Johnson has played a pivotal role in raising up hundreds of leaders and planting hundreds of churches in Sierra Leone, West Africa and many parts of the world. He also Co-ordinator for the Movement for National African Initiatives (MANI) as well as Director of Anglophone Countries for New Generation Ministries. He and his wife Santa Johnson have 7 children, two of which were adopted during the tragic civil war which ended in 2002.
Robert Herber and Stefanie (parents of four children) served as College Pastors and as US Church Planting Director for the Antioch Movement before moving to San Diego in December 2007 to launch a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church called All Peoples Church.
Stephen Gulley, Hailing most recently from Wheaton, IL, Stephen is a performer, song writer, and worship leader featured on many of the World Mandate worship albums. Stephen and his wife Neelie have three children. Stephen’s music was most recently featured on the “Forever Sound” album. Check out a preview of Stephen leading worship, here.
Location: Skyline Church
We are excited to announce a new location for World Mandate West, the Skyline Church facility located just out of San Diego in La Mesa, CA. All Peoples is grateful for this partnership with Skyline Church and thrilled to be having World Mandate West in this state of the art worship facility.
Lodging, Transportation, & Dining
Skyline Church will have free parking, rooms for children’s ministries, and and incredible worship setting. Skyline’s convenient location near Rancho San Diego will provide conference goers plenty of easy food and hotel options.
We have a block of rooms reserved at the below hotel. Mention our conference for a discounted rate.
Holiday Inn-La Mesa
8000 Parkway Drive  La Mesa, CA 91942
(619) 698-7747
Schedule: January 25th to 27th, 2013
Session 1 – January 25
  • Friday 6PM – Skyline Church
    • Children’s pick-up immediately following session, 9PM deadline
Session 2 – January 26
  • Morning Session – Skyline Church
    • Children’s pick-up immediately following session
Breakout Sessions
We’ll be hosting breakout sessions on Saturday geared towards practically equipping conference-goers towards living out Kingdom values in their daily life.
Session 3 – January 26
  • Evening Session – Skyline Church
    • Children’s pick-up immediately following session, 9PM deadline
Session 4 – January 27
  • Two Services at Crawford high School – Regular All Peoples Church location

Thursday, January 3, 2013