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Mission

In 2013, at the age of 16 ½, my oldest daughter embarked on a six-week mission trip to Nepal and India. Upon returning to the U.S., she met with the Mission’s Board at our church to share her experience. This video is the ‘readout’ she shared. She is now 24 years old and has been married for two years. I continue to be inspired by her faith and love for the Lord. I hope this video is a blessing to you.

Prayer

For years I have heard stories about God moving in miraculous ways. Sometimes the stories sounded too good to be true. Other times it seemed the stories had been embellished with each telling. In 2013, my oldest daughter went on a mission trip to Nepal and India. When she returned home and told me about all that she had personally experienced and witnessed, my belief and prayers were forever changed. SEE VIDEO BELOW.

One of the stories she shared was about a man whose arm was broken. She said she could physically see the broken bone. One of the guys in her group led a prayer for the man and asked how his arm felt after a minute or two. His arm was completely healed. She said, "Dad, I saw the broken bone with my own eyes, and minutes later, the bone was restored, and his arm was completely functional."

It is comparatively easy to pray for successful surgeries and restoration of health when the desired outcome is highly probable due to the advances of modern medicine. Praying for a miracle, however, tends to be a different story. It seems people often talk about God moving in a mighty and powerful way, but they don't expect a miracle to occur. Moreover, some people are reluctant to pray for a miracle because they don't want to get someone's hopes up or have some doubts.

While many medical conditions can be treated (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure) with medication regimens, not everyone is healed. Those who are healed often attribute their healing to lifestyle changes (e.g., diet, exercise, weight loss). Hoping is one thing. Praying and believing is another. Do your prayers reflect wishful thinking or your trust in the Lord? Numerous times in the Scriptures, when Jesus healed, He spoke about people's faith (e.g., Matthew 9:2, 22, 29).

Humpty Dumpty

Life is messy, and while we are all broken, sadly, people are often labeled and treated differently as a result of their circumstances. Take Humpty Dumpty, for example; he will forever be known as the egg who fell.

Like so many of us, Humpty Dumpty was living the good life, and things seemed to be going well for him. Whenever I saw him at church, he always said he was “fine.” But then again, why wouldn’t he be? Humpty is a great guy, and he has a good job, a nice house, and a beautiful family. Plus, if he wasn’t okay, he could have told me and asked me for help.

Well, as you know, Humpty unexpectedly fell. Frankly, I shudder at the thought of how helpless and hopeless he must be feeling. I’m genuinely concerned and curious about:

  • What happened?
  • Why was he even on the wall?
  • Was there a strong wind that day?
  • Are they going to be able to put him back together again?
After the Fall bookcover

This article was inspired by the children’s book
After the Fall by Dan Santat (2017).

Though he was prone to wobble, since his accident, instead of being supportive and offering encouragement, in an attempt to fix him, some people are giving him advice and telling him what he needs to do. Despite seemingly good intentions, how quickly people forget that our role is to love, and it is Jesus who is Lord and Savior.

Here’s part of the problem: we saw Humpty as an egg and treated him as such. Eggs, however, are like caterpillars. When the conditions are
ideal, they go through a type of metamorphosis and are transformed into something new.

Instead of turning to the king’s horses and king’s men to put Humpty back together again, God’s plan was to get Humpty’s attention and use his circumstances so that he might turn to the King of kings and place his trust in the Lord of lords. You see, God created and destined Humpty to be a bird and to soar with eagles.

Sorry, Humpty! We intended to help.

The Christmas Ham

As JoAnn was preparing their traditional Christmas dinner, her husband asked, why do you always cut off the ends of the ham? She paused for a moment and then responded, That’s a good question. I’ve always cut off the ends of the ham because that’s the way my mother did it.

With her curiosity piqued, JoAnn called her mother and asked why. Her mother replied with a similar sense of intrigue – That’s the way my mother always did it.

JoAnn then called her grandmother, mentioned cutting off the ends of the ham and being perplexed as to why. Her grandmother broke out into laughter. Once she gained her composure, she answered – Because the pan was too small.

As creatures of habit, we often do the things we do for no other reason than, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Rather than perpetuating the past for the sake of continuity and simplicity, we encourage you to examine the Scriptures and ensure that your caring efforts closely align with Jesus’ commands. When the narrative that informs us is based on human ideas and opinions rather than God’s Word, it calls into question whose agenda we are advancing.

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A General Reluctance?

Regardless of church size and denominational affiliation, we regularly discover there is a general reluctance among church leaders and churchgoers to forge spiritual conversations and share the Word of God. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

Speaking to His disciples and the crowd of followers, Jesus declared:

  • Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 10:32-33
  • If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. - Mark 8:38

The Gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.
If we love, we care. If we care, we disciple.sm

Christian dove with bright sun rays

What Constitutes Ministry?

While the Bible is clear that believers are expected to provide material and practical support to those in need (e.g., Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 5:3, James 2:16, 1 John 3:17), what distinguishes “ministry” from community service (e.g., charitable efforts, humanitarian endeavors)?

Before answering the question, please consider the following.

FIRST, a few months ago, my wife and I began picking up bread and bakery goods at a local Panera and taking it to local homeless shelters, food pantries, and schools for distribution. When people from our church found out, a typical response was: “What a wonderful ministry.” I, however, do not see it as a ministry. While we devote time to picking up and delivering physical bread to local organizations, aside from exchanging pleasantries with staff, there is seldom an opportunity for conversation. As such, I consider what we do to be charitable, NOT ministry.

Contemplation

SECOND, earlier this year, a local newspaper featured a story about former a Cincinnati Bengal and his wife who expanded their prison ministry“the message he preaches is common sense.” The article highlighted their efforts to empower adult inmates and help change the direction of people’s lives. Participants in the MANA (Mentoring Against Negative Actions) Program learn life skills that promote healthy behavior. “Fulcher touches on all aspects of life. How to find a job, get a Social Security card, driver’s license, or state ID, and how to be a law-abiding citizen.” While I most certainly applaud Mr. & Mrs. Fulcher’s efforts, and presume they are believers, what distinguishes a person’s 'ministry' – referring to the way he/she gives back to the community, from the ministry of Jesus Christ?

THIRD, according to Oxford Dictionary, ‘ministry’ is defined as “the work or vocation of a minister of religion” as in “the spiritual work or service of any Christian or a group of Christians, especially evangelism.” Synonyms include teaching, preaching, evangelism. A recent post on Christianity.com (3/16/20) states, “Ministry is about giving of ourselves and our time, talents, and resources to help bless and help others.” And, in the Bible, the Greek word for ministry in Acts 8:21 is “diakonia,” and it refers to “Spirit-empowered service guided by faith.” (Source: https://biblehub.com/greek/1248.htm)

I welcome the chance to see or hear what you think distinguishes ministry from acts of kindness and community services. Please share your responses via email – feedback@ our CareMinistry URL or call 513-973-7700. Blessings, Charles Puchta

What and in whom do you believe?

People believe all kinds of things. Believing, however, does not mean people embrace and exemplify that which – and in whom – they say they believe. Similarly, could it be that statements of faith declare things that are inconsistent with what churches really believe, preach, and teach?

If you believe something and then discover your beliefs are contrary
to the Scriptures and Jesus’ teachings, are you going to stick with
what you believe, or embrace and proclaim the Word of God? 

For example, do you believe the following statement: “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) If YES, how does that truth influence and inspire the ministry activities and efforts within your church?

Oswald Chambers may have been spot-on when he said, “Today we [presumably referring to the American church] have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ.”

Sadly, it seems many people are unaware of or unfamiliar with the Gospel message and basic biblical truth. Others, though they have been exposed to the truth and have some degree of understanding, are actively or passively rejecting the truth, and rebellious. I don’t say that to disparage anyone or come across as judgmental; rather, I do so to make a point. Many people who self-identify as ‘Christian,’ don’t know that they don’t know what it means to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Plus, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

If we love, we care. The two are inseparable. And, if we care about people, we disciple.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who [truly] believes.” (Romans 1:16)

-- Charles Puchta 

What You See is What You Get!

Whether passing by people or engaging in conversation, what we see is what we get. Despite how good people may seem or say they are, the appearance of physical health and material wellness is not to suggest that our lives are free from trials, trouble, and temptation. The point is that many people are carrying burdens, feeling crushed, and facing fears beyond what we fathom. Seriously, we have no idea what many people are dealing with.

Damaged Box_400

The truism “what you see is what you get” also applies to Scripture. Take the following Bible verses for example:

  • “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).
  • “My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).
  • “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
  • “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:6-8).
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
  • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As the church and the body of Christ, do we truly believe that God is greater than all our troubles and concerns? And, if so, do we truly reflect that in the ways we love and care for others?

While the frequency, variety, and severity of our struggles and strongholds vary, if we truly believe the verses above, might it make sense to emphasize, and to equip people to provide emotional support and spiritual encouragement?

“God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.” - Max Lucado

Pain in our lives is not to suggest that God doesn’t care, rather it establishes our need for Jesus! Instead of being who we turn to when all else fails and our strength is gone, Jesus wants to be our Lord and Savior. Despite good intentions, as Christians, we miss the point and do little to help when we fail to provide the type of sustenance and support that offers true life and lasting hope.

Humanitarian efforts: Are they enough?

From raging floods and forest fires to senseless acts such as 9/11 and the recent riots, no one is immune from trouble. Regardless of the specific instances and our individual differences, when tragedy strikes, it is certainly nice to see people coming together and rallying around those in need. While kindness and generosity are core tenets of citizenship and humanity, as the church we must ask ourselves, are they enough?

Humanitarian efforts play a vital role in meeting basic needs and sustaining lives. However, as our Kingdom Care framework indicates, Jesus expects more than good deeds and temporary relief. Moreover, while the lives impacted and the path of destruction are undeniable when the storms are catastrophic, let’s be careful not to overlook those among us who are facing less apparent storms of life.

Many people are suffering in silence with no help in sight. Regardless of their situations and our intentions, we lead others astray when we fail to provide the type of sustenance and support that offers true life and lasting hope. Moreover, a kindred spirit is no substitute for experiencing the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Things that Really Matter

I’m sorry, friend, I let you down
I always thought we’d get around
to talkin’ ‘bout the things that really matter.

I had this plan to take it slow––
give you a change to get to know
the messenger before you heard the message.

It seems like every chance you had
to serve me well and make me glad,
you did just that and more to me and others.

An open door, your friendly smile,
a free dessert, and all the while
I waited for a chance to share my Jesus.

So many times I meant to say,
friend, you are His, He is the way
to know just why you’re here and where you’re going.

But now I’m left with deep regret
that I let fear and logic get
the best of me, and so my tongue fell silent.

Today your life slipped from your grasp––
I’ll never have the chance to ask
If you were His and He was your…forever.

But thanks to you I’m not the same––
I pray the next time, I will name
the One who knows the things that really matter.

By Tim Dommer - Used with permission.