Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drive Thru

Watch a great clip from 34 West's performance of We Go Everywhere Together at the Rescue Mission Dinner Theater.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mental Illness

Mental illness is a fact of life within the homeless population. Does homelessness result from mental illness, or is it a contributor to it? This is probably a “which came first the chicken or the egg” kind of question. Currently, at the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley we are seeing that about 30% of those who enter the shelter self-admit to a mental health diagnosis. This may be anything from “simple” depression to chronic schizophrenia.

People with mental illness are not always the easiest people to love, but they are people – real people who struggle with huge issues, but people who were made in the image of God. A cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus to one of the “least of these” is a cup given to Christ

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Integrity Matters

The “thing” that sets gospel rescue missions apart from similar kinds of homeless shelters is the gospel. And though it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that statement, it is easy for those of us who work in Missions to forget that the gospel is what makes us exclusive.

In Phil.1:27, Paul exhorts his brothers at Philippi to stand together “firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (ESV). Defending and declaring the gospel takes many forms. One of those forms, according to Paul, is to insure that our “manner of life [is] worthy of the gospel of Christ.” It is not enough to avoid bringing reproach and shame upon our profession – although that certainly is included here. We are also to adorn the profession of our faith. We do not want to shame Christ; we want to beautify Him.

Ministry is more about what we are instead of what we do. In this regard, integrity is vital. More damage has been visited upon Christian organizations by integrity failures from within than by attacks from without.

If the gospel matters and our manner of life is to reflect the gospel then integrity matters. It is non-negotiable.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Living in the Light of the "Hour"

Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly spoke about “his hour.” This is a reference to his impending death on the cross. In John 12:23-26 that “hour” had finally come. Everything would be different. The world became a different world.

Up to this point, the disciples were clueless about the events of the coming days. They would be taken by surprise at Jesus’ crucifixion and suffer crushing despair, unaware that the Savior would rise from the dead.

In John 12: 23-26 Jesus prepared his disciples by telling them how to live in this different world. He would show them in concrete ways by his death and resurrection.

In a series of paradoxical statements, Jesus left instructions for his disciples, the Twelve and those who would follow their teachings down through the centuries.

One must die if he is to Live – 24

All who heard Jesus were familiar with this agricultural analogy. The seed goes into the ground and “dies” so it can germinate. If it doesn’t do this, it cannot take root and bear.

Jesus’ was about to do this very thing. He would die and go into the tomb, but He would come out alive. His resurrection would bear fruit that still has yet to be gathered.

In all likelihood, you and I are not called upon to die – yet! Tertullian said that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” But if not called upon to die for the sake of Christ, we are certainly to die to self for the sake of Christ. This is amazingly difficult. Yet we discover that the only way to truly live without fear and without hesitation is to die to this life and live to the glory of God.

One must lose his life if he is to keep it – 25

Most of our lives are spent providing for this life, making ourselves comfortable, attractive, healthy, safe and secure. It’s all about living in the now.

Jesus says that to keep our lives we must lose them. There is more to life than “now.” And while we know there is a life to come that will overshadow this life, it is true that so few of us prepare for that life because we are so consumed with this one.

To lose our lives means to lose them in following Christ. All of the things we do to maintain life here is good and right – but not if it consumes us; not if life becomes our life.

One must be humble if he is to be honored – 26

We would expect Jesus to have something to say about serving God and following Him. This is right and proper. At the end of the statement he adds this: if anyone serves me the Father will honor Him. This is consistent with Jesus had said previously about seeking the most prominent positions at a feast. In the kingdom of God the way up is down; the first shall be last; the last shall be first.

This is counter-cultural to a “me-first” culture. But it is only being Christ-like.