Love Your Neighbor

Love Your Neighbor

The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

When my grandparents were raising their family, almost every house had a front porch. The porch was a place of community. Families and neighbors would spend hours relaxing and sharing life. Today, there are few front porches. And, if a house has one, the residents very seldom sit out and visit with each other or their neighbors. In most neighborhoods today, people pull up to their house, open the garage door automatically and pull their vehicle inside, not to step foot outside the rest of the day. Do you know your neighbor’s names? Would you know if they are struggling? Jesus commands us to love our neighbors. So, is that limited to just the people who live near us? Absolutely not.

Jesus’ words were not a suggestion but a command. We are not just to love others. It would have been one thing for Jesus to stop there but He added “as yourself” which takes things to a new level. The Golden Rule says: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Everyone wants to be loved. So, in return, we must be willing to love.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: who has time to love and minister to people? We’re busy! How easy it is to fall back on this well-worn excuse of being busy to keep from loving others. But, we simply must fight to not allow our personal agendas to interfere with meeting the needs of others.

Does this verse mean I have to love difficult people? Jesus goes so far to say that we are to love our enemies. As believers, we do not have the option of holding onto bitter feelings, resentment, or even hatred toward anyone. To do so goes against everything Jesus taught.

We teach our children that name calling is not acceptable and to be kind to your friends. Maybe we need to take heed to some of own teaching and apply these to our grown-up life.

 

How can you show love to someone today? Make a point this week to get to know at least one of your neighbors.

Constant

Constant

 

The resurrection of Jesus is hard to believe. If I am really honest, it is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the idea that Jesus’ physical heart stopped, and three days later, it started again. How could one go from death to life? Nothing I learned in science class tells me that this is possible. I, like the apostle Thomas, want to see it for myself.  I want to understand the how. I am, by nature, a skeptic.

But this is the beauty and the mystery of the Gospel story: it doesn’t depend on me. Despite my unbelief at times, this story does not fade. Nothing I do or think makes the Great Narrative of God any less true.

In Mark 9, a father brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus. The father pleads with Jesus to heal his son, if He is able. Jesus responds by saying that anything is possible for the one who truly believes. To this the father cries out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” He recognizes the deceitfulness of his own heart. Though Jesus himself stands before him in the flesh, this man is still having doubts.

So often, I am just like this doubting father. God has shown me his power time and time again. I can testify to his faithfulness in my life. Scripture reminds me of His character. Creation itself is a daily reminder of the almighty Creator. Yet I still must cry out to my Savior: “I do believe! Help my unbelief!”

Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ is coming again; I know this to be true, even in the moments that I don’t feel it. Today, I rest in the fact that I can lean on the finished work of Christ and not the fickleness of my heart. I am thankful for a resurrection and a Gospel that can never be made untrue.

He is faithful

He is faithful

jaredcToday’s guest post comes to us from FUGE staffer Jared Cornutt. Jared will graduate this May from the University of Alabama with a degree in History and Political Science. This summer, he will serve as the Camp Director at FUGE in Charleston. Jared is arguably the biggest Bama football fan you will ever meet, so much so that he has appeared on TV and in magazines over 15 times due to his love for the Crimson Tide.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:13-15

Pray, Give, and Go is the mission emphasis at FUGE Camps. In late March, twenty FUGE staffers had the opportunity to “go” and be the Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, ministering to people in the inner city and in the township of Soweto proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Christ commanded his disciples to go and make more disciples of all nations in the 28th chapter of Matthew , and we had the opportunity to be obedient to this command.

We formed two teams to serve the inner city of Johannesburg and Soweto. In a city full of millions, it could be frustrating to not see the fruit of our labor on this short trip. We live in a “we want it now” society, but we were reminded that our God is faithful. Hebrew 6:10 says  “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” We are incredibly blessed that God allowed us to be apart of his ministry to the people in South Africa, and we believe He is faithful to that ministry.

The Inner City team partnered up with missionary Kurt Holiday and Bellevue Baptist Church to serve an area needing the Gospel. In the same area as Bellevue Baptist were five to six other churches who claim Christ, but are not Bible teaching/believing Churches. Their signs point to Christ but unfortunately their message does not. As we spoke with people in the community, many would claim to be Christian, but when we asked them what it meant to be a Christian, they could not tell us. Many went to these false churches and our prayer is God lifts up Bellevue in that community as a light to the people, and is able to deliver to them sound doctrine rooted in Christ. We also praise God that we were able to speak with many about our faith, and introduce them to leaders at Bellevue who invited them to their Easter service. God displayed his power through our work as we did see one woman come to know Christ and we praise the Father for that.

Another thing the Inner City team had the opportunity to do was participate in sports camps in the afternoon, working with local students in basketball and a little league baseball team from Alexandra. We were able to teach them new drills, financially support the baseball team to travel to Cape Town, and teach daily devotionals with them. It was an incredible opportunity to love on children and show them Christ through athletics.

The Soweto team had the incredible opportunity to go into the Tshepisong community. There, they visited patients (some infected with HIV), homes of people, and played with children while holding a Bible School. They were able to share scripture and speak about the love God has for us with the people. They worshipped alongside them and served them faithfully all week. Led by IMB missionary Allen Locke, this team gladly went into areas that many back home would not deem as safe to proclaim the Gospel and obediently serve our God.

Though our trip is over and we are now home, this  does not mean our focus is away from our ministry in Johannesburg. Please join us in prayer for the people we ministered to and the churches/missionaries we served alongside with. One prayer is that the ministry we had there did not end when we came home and that the Great Commission never ends. Our God is faithful to those who serve Him. So please pray, and please continue to give, but also join us in going and serving others. Love God, love others – Serve God, serve others.

sowetoteam

The Soweto team with missionaries Allen and Beth Locke

joburgteam

The inner city Johannesburg team with missionary Kurt Holiday and family

soweto2

Games at Bible school in Soweto, South Africa.

 

 

 

A Giveaway!

A Giveaway!

 

To celebrate the upcoming launch of Bible Studies for Life , we’re giving away an iPad mini plus an entire year of Bible Studies for Life for your whole church!

Do you want in on that giveaway? Click here to learn more. Hurry! The giveaway ends this Thursday night!

Different.

Different.

255031_10150643277345082_1929581_n
Today’s post comes to us from 4 year  FUGE staffer Paul Goble. Paul recently returned from South Africa, where he served with other staffers running a week-long student camp in Cape Town (pictured above). This summer, Paul will serve as the Camp Director at MFuge in Nashville.  Paul loves to play disc golf, bowl, and cheer on the Atlanta Braves.

 

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.” – John Keats

Back in March, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, with ten of the most amazing people that I’ve ever had the opportunity to spend time with. While there, we led a Christian leadership camp for around 30 local teenagers and young adults who came from several of the local Xhosa churches. The Xhosa people are one of the largest people groups in South Africa, and the vast majority of them live in poverty, still suffering from the effects of apartheid policies that were not abolished until 1994. The camp that we ran was very similar to Centrifuge; with quiet times, a morning celebration, and Bible study in the morning, recreation time in the afternoon, and worship, community group time, and a nightlife event every evening. Our theme for the week was Oneness, and we were able to talk to the students all week about what it looks like to be united together as the body of Christ, even when we come from different communities, different schools, different churches, or even different continents.

Our time in country was short but phenomenal, and there are so many moments from it that I will never forget and have impacted me in a huge way. Perhaps my favorite experience, and one that occurred several times throughout the week, was the opportunity to see God worshipped through singing and prayer in a completely foreign language and culture. I’ve been out of the country one other time in my life, but this was the first time I was able to worship with international believers, and it affected me in an incredible way. I knew before travelling to South Africa that my God was the God of all nations and peoples, but it wasn’t until I sat face to face with Xhosa believers and heard their stories and worshipped alongside them that I really began to fully grasp what that looks like. Our God never changes, but our understanding of Him is constantly growing and being shaped by our experiences, and this is something that God made very clear to me from my time in Cape Town. We can “know” so many things about God’s character, but it is in those intimate moments in our relationship with Him when we are serving Him fully that He lifts the curtain and opens our eyes a little bit more to just how big He truly is.

During our week of camp, we talked about the ideas of one God, one body, and one goal. I understand those concepts so much more clearly now than I did before travelling to South Africa. If we are to be a people who are growing in our faith, then we must be a people who are serving, who are sharing the gospel, who are taking the story of Christ and his love for humanity to every corner of the earth. God is big, and He is moving in South Africa and in the lives of the Xhosa people there. And I am different because of it.

capetownteam

The FUGE Staff Cape Town team: Nathan Howard, Paul Goble, Kate Pedziwol, Bruce McKee, Frans Johnson, Mariana Sterne, Tyler Fulbright, John Garner, Kristy Cothran, Leah Colvin, Brittany Taylor, Chelsea Ferguson.