Who is My Neighbor?

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley(1815 – 1881), known as Dean Stanley, was an English churchman and academic who wrote extensively on church history.  I came across this quote in my daily devotional, and decided to share it, because the parable of the Good Samaritan has been coming up over and over for my this year.  It has made me realize how often and how badly I fall down in this respect.

“How many are the sufferers who have fallen amongst misfortunes along the wayside of life!  ‘By chance” we come that way;  chance, accident, Providence, has thrown them in our way;  we see them from a distance, like the Priest, or we come upon them suddenly, like the Levite;  our business, our pleasure, is interrupted by the sight, is troubled by the delay;  what are our feelings, our actions towards them?  ‘Who is thy neighbor?’  It is the sufferer, wherever, whoever, whatsoever he be.  Wherever thou hearest the cry of distress, wherever thou seest any one brought across they path by the chances and changes of life (that is, by the Providence of God), whom it is in they power to help–he, stranger or enemy though he be,,–he is thy neighbor.”

For more posts on the parable of the good Samaritan see these posts:

Old Tale– New Take

kinda like grace by Ginger Sprouse — Book Review

Putting Others First

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your first two years in youth ministry by Doug Fields — Book Review

I don’t have a passion for youth ministry, but I do have a passion for research, reading and  encouraging others to find their ministry niche.  Since we’ve recently started a youth group at St. Paul’s, I’ve been searching for helpful material, and this book is one of the resources I’ve come across.

The author, Doug Fields, has been a paid youth leader with more than two decades of experience.  He writes primarily from the perspective of a large church with a staff–a far cry from our situation.  However, much of what he has to say is still pertinent, not only to youth ministry but leadership development and spiritual formation in general.  I was especially interested in the chapters on how to identify and encourage new leaders and conflict resolution.

Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: A Personal and Practical Guide to Starting Right

Each chapter has discussion questions, and this book could easily be used as a resource for youth ministry volunteers and workers in a small group setting. Information is interspersed  with Doug’s personal experiences, and quotations from other youth workers, making for a style that engages and is highly readable.  The appendix includes frequently asked questions and a youth ministry volunteer commitment form example. There is also a website you can go to http://www.dougfields.com for further information.

VERDICT:  4 stars. Definitely worth checking out if you have or are starting a youth ministry.

 

Tolkien–Movie Review

Since I am always interested in writers and writing, I checked this film out of the local library.  Most people have heard of J.R.R. Tolkien, who is well known for his Lord of the Rings trilogy, and its’ prequel, The Hobbit.  The film explores Tolkien’s early life, but instead of focusing on biographical details, seeks to explain how many disparate influences came together and led him to create the world of Middle Earth.  Those elements included:  his fascination with languages;  a strong bond with a group of fellow students who had an interest in the arts and a desire to “change the world”;  his study of mythology;  his wife, who encouraged him to tell stories because words are beautiful not just because of their sounds, but because of what they mean to us.

You will learn some bits about Tolkien’s childhood and early adult life.  By the time he was twelve, both of his parents had died.  He had one younger brother.  Their guardian was Father Francis, a Catholic priest, and the boys were raised in this faith. Tolkien attended Oxford on a scholarship, fought in World War I, married and fathered several children.

I enjoyed the movie, but my husband found it slow moving and a bit dull.  If you don’t have some prior knowledge about Tolkien, you may find yourself wondering what’s going on, or why this or that incident is being emphasized.  The film doesn’t discuss Tolkien’s personal Christian beliefs.  It is a movie about a Christian, not Christianity.  However, it does illustrate how a Christian, using the talents and gifts God has given, can indeed influence the world.  Tolkien became known as the father of the modern fantasy genre.  His work emphasized Christian virtues such as courage, loyalty and humility.

VERDICT:  I would give it 4 stars.  It will be most interesting to those who love writing or are fans of Tolkien and his work

For more about Tolkien see this post:

Castastrophe or Eucatastrophe?

What Damages our Spiritual Life? (according to Hannah Whitall Smith)

“Anything allowed in the heart which is contrary to the will of God, let it seem ever so insignificant, or be it ever so deeply hidden, will cause us to fall before our enemies.  Any root of bitterness cherished toward another, any self-seeking, any harsh judgments indulged in, any slackness in obeying the voice of the Lord, any doubtful habits or surroundings, any one of these things will effectively cripple and paralyze our spiritual life.  I believe our blessed Guide, the indwelling Holy Spirit, is always secretly discovering these things to us by continual little twinges and pangs of conscience, so that we are left without excuse.

Hannah Whitall Smith

This quote was found in my daily devotional.  Hannah Whitall Smith was originally a Quaker, and was influenced heavily by the Holiness Movement in the United States.  This movement believed that complete sanctification was possible (Lutheran doctrine denies this idea).  She was an author, evangelist and speaker, and is well known for her book, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.   For other quotes see these posts:

Christ Alone

How to Recognize a Christian

 

 

What is Faith? (according to Martin Luther)

“Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.”

This is an excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

For other Luther quotes, go to these post:

A Quote from Martin Luther

Martin Luther on Traveling Lightly

Martin Luther on Growing Our Gifts

Call Upon the Lord

Reading through the Psalms for the last post, brought the Christian song, “I Will Call Upon the Lord” to mind. It was written by Michael O’Shields,  a young minister travelling in Oklahoma and Texas during the 1970s. He wrote this song as he was struggling to make ends meet, and times were especially tough.  No doubt he had questions about how he could continue in his ministry.  He was calling upon the Lord to supply very basic, tangible needs.  Even if you are calling upon the Lord, or questioning the Lord about something entirely different, I imagine that you can still relate to this modern rendition of Psalm 18.

For another song based on one of the Psalms follow this link:

A Favorite Psalm

 

Asked and Answered

Questions imply asking, and asking shows a desire for answers. I was reading through the Psalms recently, and in case you haven’t noticed, they are full of questions. Questions David and others posed to God–pleading questions and desperate questions, questions asked when the times were crazy and answers impossibly far away. Because God is good, the psalmist always seemed to get an answer, even if it wasn’t what he expected or imagined. Here are a few examples:

Asked:                                                                                                                      “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell in your holy hill?” Psalm 15:1

Answered:                                                                                                              “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love will enter your house.” Psalm 5:7

 

Asked:                                                                                                                  “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1

 

Answered:

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 5:7

 

Asked:

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Psalm 2:1

Answered:

“The Lord is my rock and my deliverer.” Psalm 18:2

 

Asked:

Why does the wicked man renounce God and say in his heart, ‘You will not call me to account.” Psalm 10:13

Answered:

“But I have trusted in your steadfast salvation, and love; my heart will rejoice in you.” Psalm 13:5

 

Asked:

“O God, why do you cast us off forever?” Psalm 74:1

Answered:

“Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people.” Psalm 3:8

 

Asked:

“Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord” Psalm 44:23

Answered:

“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9

 

So, don’t be afraid to ask questions – in confusion, in fear, in pain—and God will keep answering, not with an instant solution but with this:

 

I love you. I’m with you. I’ve saved you. You’re mine.

He loves you and so do I!  Keep asking questions.

To learn more about Martin Luther and the Psalms try these links:

Martin Luther on the Psalms

Reading the Psalms With Luther–Book Review

Martin Luther Quote on the Psalms #2