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Upside Down Kingdom

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“... whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:43-45

“But Mindy, that doesn’t make any sense!”  That has been a pretty common response by the children during our recent Village Sunday School lessons where we’ve been studying the Gospel of Mark over the past several weeks.  And my answer to that is always, “I know!  It really doesn’t make sense, does it?”  And that’s the thing about Jesus.  He always surprised people by flipping things upside down.  It didn’t make sense to us.   In story after story in the Bible, we read about Jesus creating a world where the marginalized are seen and valued, where we are to welcome the stranger, and where the first shall become last. 

Now, as the season of Advent approaches, we are reminded that in a world where the rich had power and the poor did not, God sent Jesus, the King.  He was born as a poor, brown-skinned baby in the Middle East.  He began his humble life on earth already flipping the system upside down. 

Today, in 2018, we still live in a world in need of a God who flips things upside down, who places power in love and humility rather than in strength and riches.  What does that look like?  Perhaps it means listening to, learning from and giving value to the voices of our own children.  Maybe it also means listening to, learning from and giving value to the voices of children who are seeking asylum with their families on the other side of the U.S. border.  I think it also means choosing to see our transgender brothers, sisters and siblings who are scared and tired and listening to them with compassion.  And what about the NFL players who are kneeling during the national anthem?  Yes, let us take the time to listen to their truth behind why they are kneeling.  Even if it feels uncomfortable… especially if it feels uncomfortable… let’s start by listening. 

 As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, The One who flipped things upside down by giving value to the most vulnerable, let us open our eyes and ears and begin by listening to their voices.

Friends, what does flipping things upside down look like to you? 

Posted by Mindy Plick with

Our Youth Planting a Seed of Legacy

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The spiritual discipline of prayer can seem rather complex. A few weeks ago, we had a summer Bible study on this very topic. Some of the questions brought up were:

  • Does prayer change God’s mind?
  • How does God hear all of our prayers at the same time?
  • Does God wait to act until we pray about that specific thing?

We stepped into this topic, and into these difficult questions. Yet, at the end of the night we concluded that prayer is one of the most significant ways we can’t act out our faith. It’s not about how and if God responds, it’s about humbly coming before the Father. We pray to the father to help align our will with His.

So what happens when we align our will with His? A few weeks ago, Donna Mroz, from OC-United, revealed that answer to our students. Two years ago, Donna shared with our group that she had an idea for a domestic abuse support group. She stated that many women in abuse situations won’t attend a support group because they don’t feel safe. She had an idea to hold the support groups at a police station. Donna shared, “How much safer would a woman feel if their abuser would have to show up at a police station to confront them?” Donna told our group that she was in the initial stages of proposing this idea to the Fullerton Police Department.

I told her that we should pray for this idea to happen. We should walk down to Police station and hold hands and prayer for this to be God’s will. I’ll never forget the look on Donna’s face as our students excitedly jumped up from their seats and hurried out the door to go pray for her and her idea. 10 minutes later we gathered on the sidewalk and, one by one, each of the students prayed for Donna and for the support group.

Fast forward two years later as Donna is sharing about the success of her Fullerton support group. She tells the students that they are a few weeks away from launching their 2nd location at the Anaheim Police Department. She told us that she feels that this is her legacy, that God is calling her to start an abuse support group at every police department in Orange County. She then reminded us all of that moment two years ago, maybe something we had forgotten about. Donna told our students that this was their legacy too, that they were a part of this ministry to victims of abuse. Because of their prayer she knew this is what God wanted her to do.

It’s true that we never know how God will respond to our prayers. Yet, we can confidentially pray for His will to be our will.  When we do that we are participating in His good works that He has been planning all along.

 

Posted by Garrett Gerhart with

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