Moments

Life is filled with disappointing moments.  Some days will just be bad days.  Some seasons will linger with depressing moments.  And some years will seem to last forever.

Yet in those moments we have decisions.  Will we allow ourselves the freedom and space to grieve?  Will we let those that we care about help us?  Will we go to God and honestly share how we feel?

Yet in those moments we have hope.  Despite our discouraged hearts, God is still control.  Despite our brokenness, God still has a plan.  Despite our unanswered questions and doubts, God is still Jehovah Jireh.  God is still there to provide for His children.

Yet in those moments, we are still in those moments.  We cannot make time go by faster.  We cannot change the thoughts and actions of others.  We cannot change the past.  We cannot accurately predict the future.

My freshman year of college was full of moments of doubt, frustration, and questions.  Moments where my family and I suffered, moments where I wondered if going away to college had been a good decision, and moments where I wavered in my faith.

Yet when remembering these same moments, I can recall tangible ways where God was present.  God was present in the friends who held me as I cried.  God was present in my roommate who prayed with me and prayed for me when I could not find the words to pray.  God was present in the ladies from Coffee Break at BCFBC who met with me weekly and listened to me share my story.

Still not every moment was filled with an intense awareness of God’s presence, but as I look back I see that God had not forgotten me or my family.

And I am reminded that God also has not forgotten about the struggles that those I love are presently facing.  My prayer is that God would meet with each of these individuals in a real and powerful way.

My Prayer: God, I am willing to follow Your leading to bring Your comfort, healing, and peace into their lives.

Good News

One African American church in California made a difference in their community this past  Saturday.  Destiny Christian Center set aside $10,000, with the help of some local businesses, to lower the price of gas per gallon by one dollar for several hours.  This church had found a tangible way to bless many.

In the news clip about this event young people were seen holding up signs and chanting about this discount.  I was encouraged to see young and old serving together.

I had a difficult time locating a positive news story at http://www.cnn.com, but I am glad that I came across this story.  Some consider the good news around the Easter season to be the resurrection of Christ.  However, for the people of this community, the good news was saving a dollar per each gallon of gas they purchased.

I am not sure how many people who were blessed with this discount made the connection between the goodness that was shown to them by Destiny Christian Center and the goodness that God shows us.  Still I am encouraged that a group of believers came together to make such an impact on their community.

Recently a lot of my classes at Campbell Divinity School have centered around the  discussion about the different ways in which we can share the good news about Christ with others.

These are some of the questions that we have considered: How should you dialogue with others about your faith?  Should you share randomly with people you come across or should you focus more on building relationships?  How do you interact with individuals who have a faith system that is completely different from your own?

I will continue to be a part of discussions concerning evangelism, and if any one knows of any churches in the Raleigh area giving a discount on gas, I will gladly share that good news as well.

First Time for Everything

I never knew what a Maundy Thursday service was until I attended college.  I never thought about the possibility of serving communion until I was ordained this past July.  I never thought about serving communion to internationals until recently.  Also, I never thought that the first person I would serve communion to would be my boyfriend.

However, all of these never’s became a part of my reality during this past Thursday evening, April 5, 2012.  I was a part of the Maundy Thursday service at Forest Hills Baptist Church where I serve as the Interim Minister to Internationals.

Some of the latecomers to the service were three Chinese women, a Chinese child, and my boyfriend.  The six of us sat at a table together.  A deacon sitting at each of the tables was supposed to serve communion to the individuals at his or her table, but there was no deacon at our table so I was able to serve communion.

My first time of serving communion was indeed special.  At the end of the service, even though we had been instructed to leave in silence, one of the Chinese women told me, “I hope one day I can understand the whole essence of the Bible.”  Tears glistened in her eyes, and I could tell that God was and continues to be at work in her life.

I may never see her make a personal decision to follow Christ.   I may never feel that blessed again at a communion service.  Yet for a few moments in time I felt that my life and my ministry were of value.  I felt that God was working in spite of my shortcomings,

I humbly wait for the first time something else feels so empowering.

 

No More Dorothea Dix Hospital

How does God want believers to respond to the mentally ill?  I thought about this question once again as I read an article about the closing of Dorothea Dix Hospital.

Over the past few years issues have emerged concerning the closing of Dorothea Dix Hospital that is located in Raleigh, NC.  Patients are admitted to Dorthea Dix Hospital following a court appointed decision that an individual needs further psychiatric treatment.

Right now patients at Dorothea Dix Hospital are being transported to Central Regional Hospital in Butner.  Also, some are reporting that additional changes may be made in the care of the mentally ill in North Carolina.  I fear that closing Dorothea Dix hospital will prove to be a poor decision.

These recent decisions concerning Dorothea Dix Hospital are very much political, but my question remains: How does God want believers to reach out to the mentally ill?

Various degrees of mental illness do affect many people, even those within the church.  I encourage believers to seek out ways to be the presence of Christ to those who have a mental illness.  You may feel uncomfortable, and you may feel unqualified.  Still God desires for us to minister to the mentally ill and to advocate for their rights.

The stigma that often accompanies mental illness brings unnecessary shame to those suffering from mental illnesses and their families.  In moments of crisis families should be able to turn to their church family, but often the church family judges the family in crisis, ignores the situation, or isolates the mentally ill from the congregation.

I pray that no mater where the mentally ill in North Carolina and beyond are treated that they will be treated with respect and compassion.  I pray that they will be given the proper physical and psychological care that is necessary for their holistic treatment.

Especially in the absence of Dorothea Dix Hospital, believers should be the presence of Christ to those who have physical, spiritual, and psychological needs.