Good Fight

Written by Nancy Predmore

“Honor your father and mother” Exodus 20:12

We all know that part of the Ten Commandments. I am sure that I have said that to Delainey when she is being sassy with me. What we don’t always realize is how hard it might be to do that as our parents age. 

When I met Jim’s parents, they were very active.  His dad worked, even after he retired. He didn’t miss a single event that his grandsons were in. His mom never sat still.  She was always cleaning, cooking, or doing a word search.  They decided to sell their house and move in with us because they were concerned that they were aging.  At first, it was great. They got to spend time with D, we had family with us, and we all got along.  It was an adjustment, but we thought it was going well until Jim’s mom wanted to move home. It was after they moved back to Indy that we started to notice how much his parents were aging, and it wasn’t good. Things like paying bills, balancing the checkbook, and taking medicines were not happening as they should. We all realized that they needed to be with us again. Thankfully, they were in our home when his dad had a stroke.  We were able to get him care right away, but he was no longer the strong, active man that he used to be. And through this, Jim’s mom started down the path of Alzheimer’s.

Remembering to honor your father and mother is hard when it seems that the roles are reversed.  They were still Jim’s parents, but they needed more care than Delainey some days. There were days that we all yelled and cried.  There were days that we all enjoyed each other.  But there came a point, when COVID was just beginning to rear its ugly head, that we couldn’t provide the care for them.  It was hard.  It felt like we were taking the easy way out by moving them to a long-term care facility.  We felt (and still feel) guilty for not being able to do more…for not honoring them as we should. 

Jim’s dad adjusted to his new home.  The staff tell us how much they loved him, he always had a story to tell and made them laugh.  We didn’t get to visit due to COVID, but we called and checked in. We lost him this past February after a very short illness. Jim’s mom is still fighting.  Some days are better than others, but she still doesn’t think of the care facility as home…she still wants to come back home. We just have to remind her that she is home when we are able to visit…stupid COVID limits those visits though.

I hope that they felt honored by us. I know that we tried, although we failed many times. They deserve all that we were able to give them. They have fought the good fight, just as Paul says in 2 Timothy.  And isn’t that what we all want to be able to say at the end of our lives?

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7


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Letters of Recommendation

Written by Becky Perkins

Often, I have someone ask me to write a letter of recommendation for them to send to an organization to use as a job reference, or for a college entrance recommendation.  It is much easier to write a letter of recommendation for someone that I have developed a relationship with over time.  When I know a person’s heart, their motives, their special abilities and their gifts, it is much easier to write a letter of recommendation.  It is also helpful to have had time to observe the person in action with other people to know them in a personal relationship with others.  I feel that I am able to write a genuine letter of recommendation in this situation.  

 

In 2 Corinthians 3:1-6, Paul finds himself having to prove himself to the Corinthian church.  Paul had founded the Corinthian church on his second missionary journey.  Paul was sent by God to preach the Good News to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).  The core of the Corinthian church were Gentiles.  After Paul had left the church to continue his missionary journeys, Judaizers infiltrated the church.  Judaizers were trying to lead the people down a road of legalistic beliefs, which included a faith in God by obeying the Law of Moses.  Their ministry was built on a set of rules of dos and don’ts and had emphasis on the external look of a believer.  Paul came to teach the Good News of grace and love with an emphasis on the new covenant of the heart of the believer with Christ.  The Judaizers boasted of their many converts and they boasted on the fact that they carried with them letters of recommendation from important people in Jerusalem.  The Judaizers claimed that Paul had no credentials.  Paul claimed that he had a letter of recommendation from Christ and Christ alone. 

 

To have a sincere “letter of recommendation” from Christ in our ministry, we must walk with Christ in complete surrender of our hearts, body and soul.  Then we are able to walk with a sincere motive and heart.  When we do this on a daily basis, we know the Holy Spirit will come and do the work in us and through us.  The Holy Spirit will become our letter of recommendation to the people around us.  A person who is living a life of devotion and ministry for Christ may not be accepted by the world, because the world will not know our heart and have connection with the Holy Spirit.  When we carry God’s letter of recommendation inside of us, we do not need to worry about what others think or do around us.  We can live in peace and confidence of the power of His Spirit working in and through us. 

Jesus wrote our letter of recommendation when he suffered on the cross for us.  He wrote the letter of recommendation in his blood shed for us on the cross and stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit. 

 

As a staff person in a church, through the years, I realize there are some people who may not think I deserve a good letter of recommendation.  But, I know whom I have put my trust in and who has called me to ministry.   Jesus has always been my letter of recommendation.  My daily prayer is that I follow Christ and prove to him and him alone that I have a sincere and genuine heart for a good letter of recommendation from him. 

 


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Onesimus

Written by Joyce Knight
 
In his letter to Philemon, Paul asked Philemon, a Christian slave master, to kindly restore, or even release, a recently converted runaway slave. Onesimus had been tending to the needs of Paul while he was in prison in Rome. During that time, Paul introduced Onesimus to the Lord and Onesimus had a life changing experience. The essence of the letter is that forgiveness is vital for this fellow believer who is now on an equal stance as a true follower of Christ. 
 
Take a journey with Onesimus, who was a former runaway slave under the ownership of Philemon. Onesimus, under God’s providence, is introduced to Paul and is empowered by his spirit and devotion to Jesus Christ. He is then led to the Lord through Paul and becomes a devout believer. He recognizes the fact that he needs to justify having run away from Philemon, who is a church leader in the town of Colossae. Onesimus became vital in Paul’s life while he was imprisoned, assisting in his needs and giving greatly needed companionship. As much as Paul mourns the thought of having him leave, they agree that Onesimus needs to make things right with his master, Philemon. Paul, in his letter, urges Philemon to show forgiveness and compassion to this new believer. He left as a runaway slave but returns to him as a fellow brother in the Christian faith.
 
At any given time, we can be either Philemon, Paul, or Onesimus. We could be a Philemon, someone who has been hurt by somebody. Someone who has to understand that denying the ability to forgive, is denying that the love of Christ has been made manifest in their heart. We need to consider that it might be time for a heart assessment to see if there is someone out there that we may have to forgive.
 
There are some people who are like Paul. People that call themselves Christians. They are willing to stand in the gap to help people get together. So maybe if you’re a Paul and you know people that are in some sort of disagreement, you can intercede and encourage reconciliation.
 
You could be Onesimus. Someone who knows that they have said or done something wrong and needs to humble themselves, go to that person, and seek reconciliation. We all have been an Onesimus. We all have been to a place where we understand that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have been able to receive the grace of God. So now we need to be able to take the grace that has been given to us and freely give it to others.
 
Philemon is asked to prove his love for the Lord by his actions After all of those words of love and encouragement, it would be hard to say no to anything Paul would ask for, but Paul continues to prepare him for the request. What a blessing when someone like Paul finds you profitable, but even greater is it if the Lord finds us profitable. Paul wants a clean conscience for himself and Onesimus. He wanted Philemon to have forgiveness in his heart and he wanted his decision to come from a willing mind and not to feel coerced into it. He is pleading a case for forgiveness. Yes, he had run away and had been unprofitable for a time. However, he will be profitable forever as a servant of Christ. The status has changed for Onesimus because now Philemon is to see him as more than just a slave or servant, but as a brother in Christ.
 

Wouldn’t it be great to have people around you that have the same confidence in your obedience that Paul has for Philemon?  They do not just perform their duty, but they do it out of love for the Lord

 

 


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A Call to Action

Written by Ahnya Evinger

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

 

When I look at James 2:14-19, I consider all of the Christians I have encountered in name only, the self-proclaimed Christ followers whose actions don’t align with their words. The promises of prayer without the hands and feet of Jesus. But the reality is that to someone else, the hypocrite that comes to mind might be me.

 

When our actions do not align with our words that Christ is our Lord and Savior, we hurt others. We may even become a hindrance in their faith journey to discover who Jesus truly is. Becoming a Christ follower is not standing on the beach with our toes dipped in the water; it is diving into an ocean of love with trust. When we commit to discipleship, we submit ourselves to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. That’s the greatest testimony others often see.

 

I married a man who grew up in a church, but all he saw as an impressionable youth were people whose actions did not align with the scriptures being preached. He acknowledged that faith in God is great for some people, but he did not want to be a part of a church. He did not stop me from attending, but he was not going to prioritize going with me. He committed to attending church once or twice a year, on holidays, to support my family.

 

Then, our home flooded. The Ohio River swallowed our first floor, and we did not know where to even begin. That is when Jesus showed up. Through the members of this congregation, my husband met Jesus. A dozen or so people from church arrived at our home on the first day the waters receded, taking a boat to reach us. They told us they were thinking about us and would pray for us. But they backed those words up with action. They began working alongside us to gut out our home. That natural disaster was catastrophic to my physical home, but it was transformational to my spiritual home. Because this congregation answered the call to action to show their faith in Jesus with their deeds, my husband’s faith has been renewed. He attends church every week, even when I am out of town. He shows up to a hospital to sit with family while their loved one is in surgery. He serves others because through others’ service, Jesus showed up in his life.

 

Our words and actions when misaligned have the power to drive people away, but when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us and align our actions and words with the heart of Jesus, people discover Jesus on a new, personal level. Will you answer the call to action to submit yourself to the transformational power of the Holy Spirit and follow Jesus with your words and actions?


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Accepting the Invitation

Written by Bonita Cadle

Read Luke 14 16:24. Jesus tells a parable of a man who gave a great banquet, but most of the people he invited refused his invitation. They made excuse after excuse as to why they couldn’t come. Have you ever made an excuse as to why you couldn’t RSVP “yes” to an invitation? Is it obvious to you why Jesus tells this story?

 

In October of 2014, if you would have asked me what Jesus was referring to in this parable, I would not have had a clue. I was not a Christian then, and had not attended church since my sons were very young. We were too busy living the dream: travelling, sports, and making that money. We had many excuses and reasons why we couldn’t attend church, many.

 

Well, in November of 2014 some dear friends talked me into attending a weekend Christian retreat with them called The Great Banquet. I was very reluctant, nervous, and didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to disappoint my friends either. I did not want to be stuck in a church at some Holy Roller, kumbaya thing for three days and three nights! I had more important things to do, or so I thought.

 

You see, I had received numerous other invitations to sit at the table with the Lord, but I had so many excuses as to why I couldn’t (or wouldn’t). Because of my many “No” RSVPs I was now on the poor, crippled, blind and lame list. My friends were the master’s servants. I hadn’t listened to the Lord’s many callings; my life was too busy and noisy. My friends knew that I needed help and they themselves had to drag me to this retreat. Why are we so “pig-headed” sometimes?

 

During this banquet, my mind got very quiet, my walls started coming down, my heart softened, and the noise of the outside seemed to disappear. I was able to really hear what the ladies were talking about at this banquet. I was able to introspect and think about my life and my relationship, in this case a lack of, with God. It can be so hard to just be quiet and spend time with God in today’s world.

 

I realized three huge things (actually more) during this weekend. First, I needed a relationship with Jesus to survive this life. When my mother (my best friend) died in 1995 I was broken. In spite of having friends, a wonderful husband, and two amazing sons, I had a nervous breakdown. I was not equipped to handle that crisis.

 

Secondly, I needed a church family and friends. I also needed to be surrounded by the body of Christ in order to survive this life. The Godly women who became my friends that weekend and the friends I have made through Wesley Chapel have made a HUGE difference in my life.

 

And thirdly, I need to be able to see the Godly light of Jesus in people around me, and I need to be a light for them in their times of need. I would have NEVER thought I could be a light for others! Me?

 

Three months after my Great Banquet weekend my father had a stroke. It was a scary, trying, and exhausting situation that continued until he died on October 25, 2019. But you know what? The most amazing thing happened. I was able to be a light for him in his darkness. He confessed his belief in Jesus Christ and was baptized before he died at the age of 80. He became a member of Wesley Chapel and is now with my mom in heaven. Amen!!!

 

On February 27, 2021 I lost my sweet husband Cliff to Covid-19. While I still struggle at times, I know without a doubt that my life also would have ended shortly after his if it were not for my relationship with Jesus and my Godly friends.

 

We all have a story, but I want you to hear me clearly and understand, if I hadn’t finally sat at the table with the Lord, I would still be a mess or not be writing this at all and my father would not have made it to heaven. Isn’t that amazing?

 

If you have not accepted your invitation to the Lord’s banquet please RSVP ASAP. Or if you know someone who’s struggling, invite him or her to the table with you. Be the light they need to see.

 

God Bless.


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Room at the Table

Written by Rhonda Boyd Alstott

 

In 2 Samuel 9:1-13 we see King David show kindness to Mephibosheth.  Mephibosheth was the surviving grandson of King Saul and the son of David’s dear friend, Jonathon. David had promised each of these men that he would not destroy any of their descendants, which was a common custom in the Middle East when dynasties changed kings. Mephibosheth was also lame, which would have greatly affected his ability to take care of himself. We know it affected his view of himself, as he refers to himself as a “dead dog” in verse 8. David restores Saul’s land To Mephibosheth and tells him that he will always eat at the king’s table. David was essentially bestowing the honor of being one of his own sons to his deceased friend Jonathon’s son. What a gift and blessing to Mephibosheth that was. It is actions like this that give us a glimpse into why God called David “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

 

What really touches me is that with all King David’s wealth and kingdom’s resources, he could have sent whatever Mephibosheth needed his way. He could have put him in a house with servants and everything he needed to lead a comfortable life. That would have been an easy option for him to do, but that isn’t what he does.

 

Instead he brings him into his home. He gives him a place of honor at his table.  In his kindness he knows that more than all the resources he can offer Mephibosheth, belonging is what he needs the most. He needs his dignity restored and David understands that resources aren’t the way to do this. David knows it’s a relational issue. He offers belonging and acceptance and a place at the table to do this.

 

We would be wise to learn from this. So often we are willing to throw our resources and money at ministries and organizations hoping that will take care of the problem. Don’t get me wrong, ministries and organizations need money to function, but they need so much more. They need servants willing to “get in the weeds” with people and do the relational work of restoration.  Our local news tells us the sad stories of violence, addiction, and abuse. The list goes on and on. It’s not just local, our epidemics are worldwide. We know that so many of these maladies are caused through a lack of connection and trauma. If we want to ever find a way out of our weeds, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and do the dirty work. People, especially youth, need healthy and safe relationships. They need kind adults they can look up to. Persons in recovery need mentors and those healing from abuse need to see what loving and healthy relationships look like.

 

One of my first boyfriends was from my local church and came from an amazing family. Merrill and Mary were his parents’ names.  He was also blessed to have both grandmothers living in the same town. Every New Year’s Day they had a dinner where I was invited as a guest. The table was long and beautifully set with china and formal place settings. His grandmother must have sensed my panic at the overwhelming sight of silver placed around several plates. She discreetly whispered in my ear during the meal explaining what plate went for what and what silverware to use for what course.  She got in the weeds and led this poor girl through a formal dinner and spared me the shame of making a fool of myself.  This beautiful Christian family gave me a place of belonging at their table. Even after I broke up with my boyfriend, this family did not break up with me. They mentored me throughout my high school and college days. They knew I needed a place at their table of faith and the kindness they showed me changed my faith journey.


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