Friday, May 30, 2008

Thinking of the Chapman Family

I have been unable to shake the knot in my throat for days now since I have heard about the tragic death of Maria Chapman, the youngest daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman. Last November my family sat in his concert and cried as he sang Cinderella, a song he wrote about her.
He has been one of my favorite Christian artists since I received free cassettes of his in a sample package 20 years ago when I was a youth pastor.

What do you say to them? What can I say to them? The blog they established in her memory already has over 18,000 comments, more than 2,000 people attended her funeral. My thoughts will just add to the pile they are already experiencing. My prayers I will still add to countless others. Of course, most of my time would be spent listening, but I asked myself, what would I say if I was called upon to comfort?

I could share some sentimental notion about my two children in heaven welcoming her, or playing with her, or singing with her. But, what is that? We don't know how that works, or if it would even happen. Where is the help and hope in that?

We found the greatest help and hope from what we could affirm from Scripture. Affirming things that God said to be true was the strongest anchor for our hearts when we were inclined to accuse or blame or despair. Nothing helped us like reminding us of what God has said about similar pain. Here is a start:

  • Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A special sense of God's presence is reserved for those who are crushed and brokenhearted. Lean into Him.
  • Psalm 127:3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. No matter how they come or how long they stay, children are a treasure from the Lord. If they bring pain or pleasure they are still sent from the Lord. God's design is for blessing.
  • Job 1:21-22 "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Job 2:10 is equally staggering: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. I can identify with Job who lost more children than I have. Why does the writer repeat that Job did not sin in what he said? Because he was right to affirm that God was in the calamity that came upon him. Yes, the devil had designs to destroy Job and the Sabeans stole his oxen, but God did not look the other way. He was sovereign over their sin and their intended destruction of this man of faith. Don't abandon this calamity to less loving causes than God.
  • Job 42:5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Some of God's design in this tragedy is to give you a glimpse of Him that you can only hear about another way. This is Job's reflection on his experience of losing his children -- I got to know God.
  • Lamentations 3:19-33 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust-- there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. I was going to shorten this, but every word of this weeping prophet is precious. Several things in this passage are worth affirming:
    • Honesty about how I feel is not only acceptable, but the means by which I am reminded of the Lord's mercy.
    • It is because of the Lord's great love that my unbearable situation is not worse.
    • God's goodness is not changed by this calamity.
    • It will not last forever. I will not be cast off by the Lord forever.
    • "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.He brings grief (same affirmation as Job). He also brings compassion.
    • This affliction and grief is not His first choice. He does not willingly bring it, or literally He doesn't bring it 'from the heart'. His first desire is not this pain. Yet, He sends it anyway.
  • John 9:3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." This is not God's judgment for your sin. His judgment for sin (for believers) is taken care of on the cross. God has designs beyond this suffering to display His glory.
  • John 11:5-6 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. The smallest word in this sentence is the most significant, "so". Jesus love Martha, Mary and Lazarus SO, as a result, he waited two days. . . just long enough to let Lazarus die. Mary and Martha both said, "If you were here he would not have died!" Odd as it may seem, the love of Jesus led to the death of Lazarus. Less odd, Jesus' absence led to the revelation of His glory. His love and his glory are wed in the suffering of this family.
  • Psalm 44: When none of these affirmations help, Psalm 44 gives voice to my complaint. The two parts that have been most helpful to me are verse 12, "You sold us for a pittance gaining nothing by our sale," and verse 20, which says we'd expect you to treat us this way if we'd been unfaithful, but we haven't been. So, a complaint of faith and a call to remember is the most spiritual thing we can do.
  • Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Nothing has shown us that God himself is the only reliable source of joy and hope like losing a child. This passage is where we finally landed, it broke our fall. God is our strength and our eternal portion. Nothing else will satisfy our hearts. Everything else will break our hearts!
Why do I share this? Maybe you will have opportunity one day to comfort someone in an unspeakable tragedy. What will you say? I hope this helps. It has helped us. There is nothing like a world-changing, life-altering tragedy to display the strength of Christian hope.

Steve, Mary Beth, and Chapman Family, you are in my prayers.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dear New Life Church,

How blessed we feel to have such a loving and caring church family. Thank you for the prayers, cards, flowers, and messages of concern during our recent illness.

--Alex and Kathy Fuentes

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Guatemala Team Hard At Work

Help support the 2009 Guatamala Team! Members of our team will help you with your "honey-do" list and you can make a donation to the short term mission.

We will do yard work, general cleanup, painting projects or "you name it".

Here's a snapshot of Dianne Froode, hard at work on a recent workday.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Don't Waste Your Summer"

Last night we had a little business at our Quarterly Business meeting, a financial report and receiving new members. Mandy Littrell, Pat and Ruth Clifford, Todd and Julia McBride, Laura Martin, Joyce Helgerson, and Jeff and Danette Brophy were introduced as new members.

The bulk of the meeting was an encouragement to "Don't Waste Your Summer." Our strategy at New Life Church is built on getting transformed, God-treasuring people in the lives of people who don't know Christ. The meeting focused on how we might do that this summer. Here is the impact it had on my wife. She wrote this to our family in her weekly email update to them:

"Like usual, I have big ideas of things I'd like to do this summer that we haven't gotten to. But I know how that goes. Some of it might happen, but some will go by the wayside. My cleaning, projects, yard, gardening lists are also long, and some of that will have to go, too. It was a good and much needed reminder for me last night at our "Don't Waste Your Summer" meeting at church that there are much more important things to be about, people that God has put in my path to befriend, a commission that God has left me here to be involved in. These are not optional (only for the outgoing/people-oriented type), not intrusions or interruptions, they are the main thing. Who will care if every closet got cleaned the summer of 2008? Well, I may care... at least right now, but I won't care for eternity. It will be much more rewarding if at the end of the summer my family feels more loved, my neighbors have been shown Christ's love, the people I see at the park and the store have been spoken to with love, I've had conversations with people about the Lord, my home has been open to friends as well as to "tax collectors and sinners" who are becoming friends. I don't know exactly how that will look, but I am praying that God will give me opportunities (He does, all around us, everyday) and that He will show me His plan for my summer, day by day, person by person. He is Master."
I am praying that God will give you opportunity to love someone in His name today!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This is a Great Story

This has little to do with New Life Church, but it's a good story anyway. Dwayne Wade buys his mom a church!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Don't Waste Your Summer

Whew! It feels hot today. This is just a foretaste of the glorious warmth of summer that allows all of us to have a little more time off, a little more work outside and a lot more opportunity to spend time with other people!

All of us have an opportunity to waste our summer playing and/or indulging ourselves, or we can invest it in ways that will pay off for all eternity. Sunday evening at 6:00 at our New Life Church Riverfalls campus, we'll talk about our plans for making that eternal difference this summer. I hope you can join us. In addition we'll introduce several new members and hear an update on the church finances. See you then.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Books At Our Riverfalls Campus!

We have a terrific selection of books in our library at the Riverfalls Campus, with new books arriving often. Here is a list of our newest arrivals:

On CD...
The Holy Bible : New Testament KJV
Children's Library:
My Bible Journey by Mary Hollingsworth

Main Library:
Questions of Life by Nicky Gumbel
For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
A Passion for the Impossible (The Life of Lilias Trotter) by Miriam H. Rockness
The Mystery of God's Will (What Does He Want For Me?) by Charles R. Swindoll
Jungle Pilot by Russell T. Hitt

Fiction:
Guilt by Association by Michael Farris
Detours by Bette Nordberg
Private Justice by Terri Blackstock
Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser
Even NOW by Karen Kingsbury
A Kingsbury Collection (Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay, On Every Side) by Karen Kingsbury
The Splendor of His Music by Diane McMurrin
Dana's Valley by Jeanette and Laurel Oke
A Season of Grace by Bette Nordberg
Gideon's Torch by Charles Colson

Please be courteous to other readers by returning books/movies/or CDs in a timely manner.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy 100th Mother's Day

Mother's Day turns 100 years old today! Encourage your mom with how young she is! Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

H2O & Do Hard Things

We had a great Saturday last weekend. Several New Life Church students and parents attended a conference for teens called "Do Hard Things." It was sponsored by the Rebelution. As you may or may not know, our H2O ministry is featured in the book by Alex & Brett Harris called Do Hard Things. So, when they put on the conference with the same title last weekend, they asked Leslie and Lauren to tell about H2O. They got up in front of over 2200 students and parents and told their story and encouraged other young people to do hard things. In addition they gave out almost 600 H2O bags and near 500 starter kits. We are excited about the multiplication opportunity this presents. Our prayer is the other young people will pick up this ministry in their churches and together we can eliminate panhandling in the Portland area!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Return of the Helping Hands

The New Life Church "Helping Hands" ministry was back in action again last Saturday. Jeff Brophy, Jon Van Tuyl, Josh Whitbeck, Ronn Pricer, and Lee Bennett helped Andy and Aaronn Doyle with a much needed project. In the space of about 3 hours this motley crew tore off a back porch and built another one in its place.

Lee Bennett says, "the ministry of Helping Hands is simply to give men in our church who have strong backs and willing hearts an opportunity to help people in our church and do outreach to our community." Lee has a list of about 25 guys who are willing and able to do all sorts of odd jobs to help people who are in need. He says the only reason this ministry isn't more active is that the team simply isn' t made aware of the needs. If you are aware of a need in our church or in the community that this team could help with, please contact Lee Bennett at leenlou5969@msn.com.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

New Life Classifieds

I have thought this would be a good idea for a long time. . . and the time has finally come! We launched the first edition of New Life Church Classifieds. The first edition debuted with everything from a house for sale to bathroom tile and a bassinet to give away. People were looking for child care and offering free OMSI coupons. Be sure to check it out each week.

The Classified Advertisements are available from our church family for our church family and will be published weekly free of charge. If you would like to post some service or item, please email your ad to Andrea Robinson or the church office. The ad must include:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • Where the item or service is located.
  • A short description of the item or service that you are posting about.
  • The price of the item or service.