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  When I meet people, I gotta say my heart goes out to them, because when I meet somebody, I see in their face, I see in your face, somebody that Jesus is passionate about!For He chose in advance each of us. You are not abandoned, you are not an orphan, you are not an afterthought, or an...

Your plight is my plight!

plight Broken Wall
 
The 'Priesthood of all Believers' means that we're all "watchmen." (Ezekiel 33:1-9)
 
After reading the passage in Ezekiel 33:1-9, does it sound like God is cool with us being aware of people headed down a path of oppressing others and us turning a blind eye? You see, what we're trying to figure out, is what it means to become part of the community. What it means to stand in public with them and put our arm around them and say "You are not alone, we are in this together!"
 
We are trying to figure out what it means to stand against injustice. To stand with the oppressed. To stand with the marginalized and say to them, your plight is my plight! For us to be able to do that, we have to listen and understand and we have to try to apologize for the times people like me oppressed them and took advantage of them -we have to become one!
 
That's how we are doing justice in my little community of faith. -Pastor Ron Willoughby
 
To support our friends at The Broken Wall Project, like their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/brokenwallproject/ and give online by visiting www.severnrun.com/give and selecting their fund in the "Other" section of the giving form.

Responding to the Orlando Attack: What's a Jesus Follower To Do?

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It’s happened again.

A massive attack on an unsuspecting group of people.

This time it’s on US soil.

This time it’s directed towards a group of people that has continued to be at odds with the “church” for quite some time.

And it is a tragedy…

How do we respond? We’re Jesus followers and, of course, our hearts are broken. People, made in God’s image, had their lives taken from them at a moments notice. And here we are distant, but affected.

So how do we best respond in a way that glorifies Jesus?

1. Pause and grieve.

When Jesus lost a close friend in John 11, he could have done a lot of things. He could have said, “Well now he’s in a better place with my father!” He could have snapped his fingers and caused a crazy miracle before Lazarus even died. He could have ignored the grief and moved on with his life. But he didn’t. It says right there in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

Jesus paused and cried with those who were crying. He did not make the moment anything more or anything less. He acknowledged the pain of brokenness in our world, and cried.

Body of Christ, take a moment to pause and grieve with those who are hurting this week. Do nothing more for a time, just pause and grieve. This moment of solidarity with the hurting is more meaningful than you could even imagine.

2. Keep the focus on Jesus.

Jesus followers, this is not a time for politics and opinions. This is a time for healing through Jesus. Maybe you have strong feelings on gun laws or immigration. Hear this. Now is not the time for these soapboxes. Tragedies are not strategies to show how right you are and how wrong the “other” side is. A tragedy is just that, a tragedy. Jesus did not use situations to glorify an agenda. He built relationships so that he could walk through situations with others to glorify his Father.

Instead of expressing your opinions on Facebook today, find a hurting person and listen to them. Walk with them. Cry with them. Take some time to read Romans 12:9-16, then ask God to show you how you can practice real love with someone today.

3. Earn a seat at the table.

The “church” as a whole has not always lived Jesus towards those identifying as LGBTQ. Our “agendas” have often been at odds, and we get swept up in emotion and forget that we are all made in God’s image. We’re all broken. Jesus died for each of us. Now, suddenly, there’s an immense tragedy affecting the people that many have neglected. We’re genuinely upset. We mean it when we say “We’re praying for you Orlando.” But somehow our words come across hollow and meaningless to those who need to hear it. Why? Because the phrase “sending thoughts and prayers” has been a hollow statement, used as PR and not real sentiment by many leaders both within the "church" and outside of it. So how do we go beyond “thoughts and prayers”? How do we really show the love of Jesus to people who are mourning now?

Well, Jesus followers, it’s not something that will happen overnight because of this tragedy. But it is something that you can start changing now. We must recognize that we don’t earn a seat of respect with people previously neglected just by offering a heartfelt Facebook post (or blog post for that matter). Words are nice, but they can be empty. Friends, it’s time to start meaningfully diving into relationships with other broken people.

Make this the time that you start to exit your comfort zone. Jesus was always living outside of the “religious comfort zone,” and it’s time that we start to follow his example again. Who do you know that doesn’t know Jesus yet? It’s time to invite them to join you and your family for dinner. It’s time to stop at their desk each day to just see how they’re doing. It’s time to remember their first name, last name, and hey, maybe even their birthday! Jesus is calling us to just be in relationships with other people. Isolation and cliques are Satan’s game. Connection is Kingdom work. Create relationships. Make an impact. Live Jesus. This is how you earn a seat at the table. This is how your words become full of life and meaning. This is how you reveal the love of the Father!

4. Finally, pray.

Pray hard. Pray for a long time. Pray honestly. Prayer is how you, Jesus follower, can gain the God-Wisdom and God-Power to continue to reveal his love in times of intense tragedy. Ask God to comfort you. Ask him to show you his love. Ask him to use your story so that others can know him personally the way that you know him. Pray that Jesus’ name is spread far and wide. Pray that every man, woman, boy, and girl would come to know him as their Father, Savior, Redeemer.

These are four things each of us can and should do in this time following a national tragedy. What are some things you think Jesus would do if he were physically here with us this week?

His name will be the hope of all the world.

Matthew 12:21

There is something about the identity of knowing you are a child of God that will give you more confidence than your resources and position ever will! Jesus didn't only have identity, He had purpose! There was a reason why He was here! There was a reason why He walked planet earth. 

In fact, Matthew 12:21 tells us what that reason was: "Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.  He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world."

Isn't that amazing? He had identity and He had purpose and I can tell you that if you're a child of God, God has put a passion in your heart, He's given you something to do - you have a purpose! -Pastor John B. Smith

The Perfect Power Plan

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For you are all Children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 

(Galatians 3:26)
 

The President decided Monday was a good day for a round of golf, and with that the course at Andrews Air Force base was cleared. Any other golfers who wanted to play at Andrews on Monday had to scramble to make other plans.

Today, President Obama can clear a golf course. In a few short months the American President will be replaced. Then Obama will hand off his golf course clearing power, as well as an assortment of other presidential power perks, to the next president. Human power: temporary, fleeting, and most certainly unfulfilling. 

We have access to an another power plan. A perfect plan that is eternal and unending. Through membership in God’s family we have Jesus power which is found in identity and purpose. Jesus power is much greater and fulfilling than anything that could ever be offered though human power. God’s power is real power.

Do you know your identity? When you looked in the mirror this morning what crossed your mind...

Oh my, is that yet another pimple?

What dreadful bags those are under my eyes! 

Is that hair gray?

How could I have done that last night?

(sigh) Yet another long day to get through.


Did it occur to you that you were peering into a mirror that reflected a child of God? Jesus Power--that’s the first and only thought we need when looking at ourselves. 

When we are confident in our identity as God’s children, then our purpose is easily defined. It’s not to get the to do list done, make more money, win the “#1 parent” award, or say “yes” to every request. It’s to use our passions in the Kingdom of God.

So take another look, remind yourself that God sees you through his Son, and put into action the things you love to do--while looking to glorify God, your Father in heaven!

Jesus power starts with Identity

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What are some of the qualities of individuals that you believe hold power? 

We're all born with a certain level of resources, we're all born with certain capabilities that we have control over. Then for the rest of our lives, in order to gain power, we try to gain more and more resources! In fact, history is ripe with examples of this, is it not?

If you think about most wars that have been fought, most wars from a historical perspective in some way shape or form, have been fought over resources. Whether it's water, diamonds, land, gold, it doesn't matter what it is, often times, most wars are fought over resources, because if we want to "gain power," and let's face it, we're human beings, then we've got to acquire more and more resources.

In fact, I think of one of the worst examples in American history is slavery. Slavery was about resources wasn't it? It was about control and it was about the worst form of resources: it was about the control of other human beings actually becoming individuals property. The worst part is that we have more people that are in slavery today than have ever been in slavery before in all of world history because we as human beings think that we can own each other! 

The government is always about resources isn't it? Communism was about resources, it's about gathering all of the resources for the people. Imperialism is about gaining all of the resources for the crown. Capitalism is about raising all of the resources and then letting each person own their own resources and then he who gets the most resources wins! No matter how you cut it, the human experience and the first part of the equation of power is about resources.

We always want to get more, we always want to gain more! Our lives are also ripe with examples of that too aren't they? In this thing called life, we're all on this quest to gain more and more resources: the car that we drive, the clothes that we wear, the neighborhoods we live in, they are all about status symbols. Look at me, I've acquired the right type of resources to be able to have the right type of power! We will always find a way to gain power with our resources. We will always find a way to say we're better than you because of what we have.

Once you gather enough resources, you then need to add to that "position." Once you have the resources + the position, then you have this thing called power.

From a young age we have the desire to achieve the next step of power don't we? Then in all of this trying to constantly get to the next step of power, we look back and we say "Oh look, life is gone, now what?" Life has passed you by because there are no more positions to get to. And as a result of always wanting the next position, we come to miss out because positions to hold run out don't they?

This equation of power: Resources + Position = Human Power

This is what we constantly watch everyone try to achieve around us. The problem with gaining power this way is that resources always run out. Resources are unsustainable because we always need more. Resources leak out of our bucket of life. And the problem with gaining power via position, is that every position is temporary.

The problem with human power is that it runs out, and ladies and gentlemen can I just tell you this is why I Iove the life of Jesus! That's why being on the road with Jesus matters so much because as we've walked through the book of Matthew this year, what we've been able to see is that Jesus' life is about what "real power" is supposed to be! 

Jesus' life is the ultimate example, in fact, as we've journeyed through Matthew together, we've seen him heal the blind, cure the lame, walk on water. We've seen Him do lots and lots of amazing things, but these are not the things He does that make Him powerful at all -and Jesus understands that.

Matthew 12:15 says, "But Jesus knew what they were planning, so he left that area and many followed Him and He healed all the sick that was among them but he warned them not to reveal who He was." Does that sound like anyone you know running for office right now? It doesn't matter the party and it doesn't matter the person, achieving human power is all about "Look at me!" 

If anyone had the right to stand up and say He was incredible, it certainly was Jesus Christ! This humbleness of spirit in Jesus, fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah 42:1 concerning Him, "Look at my servant who I have chosen." God is speaking of Jesus in this way. "He is my beloved who pleases me, I will put my spirit upon Him and He will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise His voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed, or put out the flickering candle, He will cause justice to be victorious and His name will be the hope of all the world."

After everything you've seen Jesus do, think about this deeply - this is Jesus power!

When you think about Jesus power, what are the words that come to your mind after reading these passages? Would you believe there is a formula for Jesus power? It starts with "Identity" and it looks a whole lot different than the formula for human power! 

Human power is Resources + Position. But the formula for Jesus Power starts with "Identity." Jesus starts with the fact that He is the son of God and once you are a child of God, you don't need any resources do you? Every person was created in the image of God but just because that is the case, that does not mean you are the child of God! The first level in the equation of Jesus power is identity! When we have identity as a child of God, we don't need any more resources do we? He's the creator of everything!

There is something about the identity of knowing you are a child of God that will give you more confidence than your resources and position ever will! Jesus didn't only have identity, He had purpose! There was a reason why He was here! There was a reason why He walked planet earth, in fact it tells us what that reason was "I will put my spirit on Him and He will proclaim justice to the nations and His name will be the hope of all the world." (Isaiah 42:1)

He had identity and He had purpose and I can tell you that if you're a child of God, God has put a passion in your heart, He's given you something to do - you have a purpose! -Pastor John B. Smith

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