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Archive for the month “August, 2013”

50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech”

DR. JIM DENISON, PRESIDENT
AUG 28, 2013
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Is Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Dream’ still alive?

The “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” was held 50 years ago today.  It gathered more than 250,000 people in the National Mall—the largest public demonstration in American history to date.  From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech (audio/video/text).

According to Jon Meacham, writing in the current Time magazine, the speech “lifted King above the tumult of history and made him a figure of history.”  Meacham calls him an American “founding father” in the ranks of Lincoln and Jefferson.  But the dream is not yet reality.  According to Meacham, “The march, he said that day in Washington, was not an end; it was but a beginning.  We live in a world King helped create.  We do not yet live in the world he helped all of us dream of.”

Fifty years after the March on Washington, America still faces a dilemma: do we measure success by changed laws or changed hearts?

Clearly, the civil rights laws of 1964 and 1965 have made a difference for African Americans.  According to Meacham’s article, the high school completion gap has closed by 57 points; the number of African Americans in college has tripled; there are five college graduates for every one in 1963; and the percentage of African Americans living in poverty has fallen 23 points.

However, prejudice clearly remains.  The racial unemployment ratio is unchanged since 1963, at two-to-one.  Segregation in America’s cities is still a tragic fact.  And 11:00 Sunday morning remains “the most segregated hour in America,” according to Billy Graham.

The Hebrew prophets Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted 50 years ago resolved our dilemma simply: do what is right and you will become what is right.  Human words cannot change human hearts; racial bigotry, like all other sin, must be forgiven by God’s grace and transformed by his Spirit.  But obedience to his word positions us to experience his blessing.  When we act against prejudice, over time—by God’s help, depending on his Spirit—we become less prejudiced.

Dr. King was right: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”  But love is a “fruit” or work of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  If America would turn to Dr. King’s God, we would see Dr. King’s dream fulfilled—beginning in this life and consummated in the next.

Messy Marriages (Lysa TerKeurst)

The below is a re-post of an article we came across by Lysa. 

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God.” Jeremiah 17:7 (MSG)

I threw the cup of orange juice across the kitchen. It felt good to do something, anything, to release all the surging anger and frustration. And I didn’t even mind cleaning the pulpy, sticky mess.

It felt soothing to know how to clean something. I knew how to wipe away this mess. And I liked seeing the mess disappear.

If only my marriage mess could be fixed with soap, water and a handful of paper towels.

I whispered, God, why does this have to be so hard?

Have you ever been there?

I think many of us have. Whether we’re in a really tough marriage or just in a rough patch, marriage can be messy. Hurtful. Lonely.

No one ever told me about this side of marriage before I donned the white dress and danced to MC Hammer at the reception.

But after 20 years of learning, growing and pressing through the messes to see something beautiful form in the midst of it all, here’s what I know …

Jesus loves those in messy marriages.

He loves my husband, Art, and me in the midst of it all. Jesus doesn’t love the mess of hurt, isolation and bitterness. Those are things He wants us to work on. But He never stops loving us.

Jesus loves me. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of me. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. Even the parts that throw orange juice.

And Jesus loves Art. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of my husband. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. And even the parts that look at me like I’m crazy when I throw orange juice.

Since Jesus loves both of us, He’s the best source of help for our marriage. I don’t say that without a deep awareness of how stinkin’ hard it is to go to Jesus when I’m mad as fire at my husband.

And I certainly don’t say it in naive simplicity. Gracious, I know some of you are facing marriage situations that rip your heart into a thousand pieces every day.

But still, I know Jesus is the best source of help.

Honest cries for help lifted up to Jesus will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 in The Message version reminds us:

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers-Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

So, how do I stick with Jesus? I proclaim I’m sticking with Jesus:

Jesus, I’m sticking with You. I’m giving You what I don’t understand and what I can’t fix. I’m giving You what I don’t like about me. I’m giving You what I don’t like about him. And I’m giving You what I don’t like about my marriage. I’m listening for Your instruction. I’m positioning myself to go where I’ll hear Your truth. To talk to others who love You and serve You. And to read wise instruction from the Bible. Amen.

Jesus loves those who are in messy marriages. I know. Though Art and I have a wonderful marriage now, we can still hit some rough patches now and then.

But you’ll be happy to know I haven’t thrown orange juice across the kitchen lately.

Dear Lord, so much of me wants to stick with my anger and frustration. But I’m choosing to stick with You. Today I’m going to hold my temper, hold my tongue and hold on to Your Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

True Life Chronicles – Part 2

This past week has had many highs and lows for me personally when it comes to this church thing. I’m gonna’ write about one of each, both of which occurred outside of Sunday morning.

The low happened last Wednesday. A few months ago Dan & Gina Sachowski, who are part of True Life, introduced me to a couple they are friends with whose 19-month old daughter was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma cancer back in April. She’s been in the hospital 90% of the time since then under-going chemo treatments, and will be in the hospital for at least another year for 90% of the time. I have talked to the mom and dad, but hadn’t met them face-to-face yet. I went up to Robert Wood on Wednesday to meet the father, Lou, and his little Gwen.

Now I’m not a hospital-visit kind of guy. I don’t normally jump at opportunities to go to hospitals to visit people, especially people I don’t know. But there was something about the conversations I had with this couple, plus the fact that I have a daughter who is little Gwen’s age, that compelled me to want to meet them.

I got there while Gwen was asleep, and I talked with Lou quietly about all the details of the situation. As I listened to him explain how they manage, what they’re dealing with financially, the difficulties of caring for their other two kids, my head started to spin. I tried to imagine going through what they’re going through, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t imagine having my daughter Kayla in the hospital 24/7 hooked up to all these tubes, having to go through 5 rounds of chemo in order to have surgery to remove a tumor in her abdomen. I couldn’t imagine not knowing exactly what the outcome is going to be. I couldn’t imagine barely ever seeing my wife because one of us has to always be at the hospital.

After about an hour, I prayed for them and then said goodbye. And I walked out of there feeling very small. Small because I’ve never known that kind of pain. Small because I couldn’t really offer anything all that helpful. Small because everything else that I needed to get done didn’t seem all that important, anymore. I just felt small in a very sobering, perspective-renewing kind of way. And it was good for me.

I also left wanting to spend more time with Lou. He’s a very likable guy, knows all the nurses names, very friendly, and very honest about how painful it is. Part of me wanted to stay around the hospital a little longer — not because I thought I could help them, but because I was so amazed at how this family is dealing with such pain with such dignity. I hope to spend more time with them.

So as heart-breaking as it was, I’m really glad I went.

Then a few days later I went to the Grand Opening of Decarlo Fitness, owned by Francisco and Michele Escalante (Michele’s maiden name is Decarlo in case you were wondering). And it was awesome to see a dream of theirs finally realized and to get to be there on their special day. And what made it extra awesome was seeing so many True Life people show up to support them, many of whom are new friends of theirs within the last year. True life has formal gatherings on Sunday mornings and during the week in life groups, but our hope from the beginning was that peole would gather and hang out informally during the week in many different ways, supporting each other in the day-to-day things of life. And Saturday was one of the ways that it got to happen — not because a service was being held, but because a couple stepped out in faith and started a business together.

That was really cool.

I’m glad I went there, too.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). 
 

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