All posts tagged: community

Is the Writing on the Wall for You?

-written by Betsie Richards Around this time last year, I was faced with a huge decision. It was a decision I prayed over very intently, honestly more than I’ve ever prayed over a decision before. I can’t even count all the ways God graciously showed me the answer. Signs, if you chose to think of them that way, sermons, bible study lessons, and random unsolicited messages from family and friends all confirmed what my decision should be. At one point, I’m pretty sure I said outloud, “Ok Jesus, I get it. I see what you’re trying to tell me.” I felt like I could clearly see what I needed to do as if it had been written out for me personally. We’ve all probably heard the phrase “the writing’s on the wall.” Sometimes in regards to failing businesses, failing managers for sports teams, and, sadly, sometimes even failed relationships or marriages. Unfortunately, most times the phrase carries negative implications. Daniel 5 seems to be no exception. King Belshazzar has a moment where he physically sees …

Are You Experiencing Community as it was Meant to be?

-written by Betsie Richards “Joe’s here.” That’s all the text from my sister said, but that’s all it took to calm my nerves for the moment. My mom’s IV pump wasn’t working correctly and it’s hard not to panic when the medication keeping your Mom’s heart going isn’t getting there. In all honesty, we had minimal training on the home equipment we were given. But I knew who to call, part of my “tribe” if you will. Joe beat me to my parents’ house with two of his kids in tow. He had everything working correctly before I even got there. This was in addition to answering the (likely) thousands of texts I had sent him in the previous six weeks. “Bets, you have good friends.” Mom said this to me repeatedly during her hospital stay. She knew this because they came and sat with us, prayed with us, brought food, rolls of quarters, offered their homes, slipped cash into my hand or purse, sent constant encouragement, and even came to the hospital to visit …

As My Surrogate Family, You are Stuck With Me

The word family creates a different picture in everyone’s mind. For me, when I think about family another word which comes to mind is “surrogate.” Google defines this word as “a substitute, especially a person deputizing for another in a specific role or office.” For some, this word conjures up images of women who carry a pregnancy for another family. My image looks immensely different. You may live within walking distance of your extended family. Others may have to drive to a neighboring state. When I was 12, my family moved 11,000 miles from my nearest blood relative. In the missionary world, many times unrelated family units become an extended family of their own. I still have numerous parents of friends I refer to as Aunt and Uncle. It is an adaptive support system helping families in a time when it is hard to go it alone. Family can be one of the tightest forms of community, but even the Bible has examples of dysfunctional family. In Genesis alone, we find a family where one …

Suffering Alone And For What?

-written by Kristen Ebensberger Have you ever felt like you were the only one who is suffering? When you are knee-deep in the muck, you may think it’s only going on in your world. We can get caught up in self-pity. We start thinking “if only…” and it’s usually followed with a thought of how someone else should have acted differently. I can promise, you are not alone. Scripture tells us our trials, or “heat,” has a purpose and it’s our job to figure out how God wants to use it for our good. Our trials reveal what is at the heart level. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4 Have you ever wondered why your children won’t listen to you the most when you’re out in …

Is Church More Than Entertainment for You?

Football games, movies, game nights, conferences, concerts, and other events tend to bring us together. We really like to sit back and watch, and it seems like whatever problems plagued us before take a back seat to the entertainment. Sometimes we allow the church to become this. We get up on Sunday mornings, come to a building, and watch “church” happen. We can watch the sermon like we watch Netflix. We review the service on a scale of our own personal preference. But when it’s over, our problems come flooding back and we are rarely changed. If your team wins or loses the big game, you will remember it for a few weeks. If you really enjoy a show on Netflix, you might binge-watch it, cry a few times, and even remember a few quotes—but next month you will have moved on to something else. Likewise, if you watch the church instead of being the church, don’t expect anything to change in your life. If you have been united to Christ through faith, God has …

Are You Ready for the Change God Has For You?

On May 15, 1991 my world changed forever. I sat with my family and friends, preparing to board a plane for the first time since I was an infant. My family was leaving everything we had ever known, and we were going to Thailand. My parents were answering God’s call to be missionaries. We had spent the last two years raising support and making plans. Our stuff had been packed and shipped in 55 gallon barrels more than a month earlier. That day we stepped out into the unknown. I was unsure of what my future looked like. As a 12 year old, everything I knew as normal was about to change. I had an aunt, uncle, and two cousins who lived there already. We knew we had our family to depend on, but we didn’t know what other friendships we would have once we got there. After being in the air for 24+ hours and a 12 hour train ride, we set foot in our new hometown. My cousin began to introduce me to …

What Motivates You Day In and Day Out?

The dictionary defines motivation as “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Paul in Philippians 1:21-24 defines motivation as this: For me, to live is Christ, but to die is gain. If i am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. I am torn between the two. I desire to be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is necessary that I remain in the body. Paul’s motivation is Christ and nothing else. Paul also says later in Philippians 3 that he considers all his accolades “worthless because of what Christ has done.” This is strong! Paul’s motivation is deep, strong, and convicting. Paul understood the cost; he understood what Christ had done for him, the weight of it, and how what Christ did effected and still effects eternity and the now! Paul wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. The more Paul pursued Christ, the more Christ became his motivation. It’s a cycle, a sanctifying …

The Gospel has the Power to Drive Out Shame

Sin is ugly. Rarely does sin have only one consequence. More often, sin has a web of consequences. In John 4, we can see a few of those consequences playing out in the life of the Samaritan woman. First, the Samaritan woman came to draw water at the sixth hour, that is, about noon (v6-7). Why would anyone come to draw water at noon? The context seems to point to the fact that no one else was there during that time, except for Jesus. It’s speculated that the Samaritan woman came to the well at this time intentionally. She wasn’t coming to the well because she knew Jesus would be there, but likely to avoid shame she would feel in the presence of other people. There’s one consequence of sin—shame. Perhaps the shame she already feels is what led her to the well—all alone—at this hour. Sin also tends to separate us from other people. Whether we withdraw from community, or the community withdraws from us, sin can be found at the heart of this division. …

Are You Moved to Action and Love?

When we think about our church, different pictures probably come to mind. Maybe the time you got baptized in front of our family comes to mind. Maybe you think about Andrew Hicks standing on his toes as he strums his guitar. Maybe you see the faces of those in your small group. Maybe your nose curls a little as you think of the smell of Wunder Way sneaking into the lobby. I hope when you think of the church, you also think of passion, compassion, love, and unity. The Greek word for passion means suffering, an undergoing, an enduring. In light of this definition, think how that impacts the picture of “The Passion of Christ.” It’s odd to think of the church in this way: suffering, enduring pain. You might not be struggling or in pain, but your brother or sister next to you most likely is. Compassion in the Greek means to be moved, to meet. As a church, we are called to love our neighbor, meeting and loving them where they are. Is …

I’m Your Community, Like It Or Not

Ever since the message on Sunday where Shannon talked about us belonging to each other, I can’t get the Pat Benetar song “We Belong” out of my head.  I may be dating myself here, but the lyrics from my youth keep bouncing around up there:  We belong to the light We belong to the thunder We belong to the sounds of the words We’ve both fallen under Image me singing this out loud at the top of my lungs in my… ehem… “singing” voice. Whatever we deny or embrace For worse or for better We belong, we belong We belong together I’m not sure where Pat was going with the belonging to the light and thunder part.  Honestly, I think songwriters just make stuff up because it sounds good.  But she was on to something with the end of her chorus. We can deny it or we can embrace it, but either way, we belong together. In the context of her song, she is talking about herself and someone she loves. In the context of …