Ministry (part II)
1. “It was he who gave gifts to humankind; he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service.” Ephesians 4:11-12a
So, our relationships and service are merely tools by which God’s kingdom is being established “already”. This kindom, as you know, was started by Christ and not ourselves. We are still “slaves”/servants to God and Christ from whom ministry proceeds. The preparation of God’s people for works of service means that the Chruch affirms the gifts of everyone who is “in Christ”!
2. “So that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God; and become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ’s full stature.” Ephesians 4:12b-13
Our service, and the language and way in which we express it, has only one goal: the building up of the Body of Christ. The reason for this one goal is so that we all come together based in and on our faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less.The goal here is speaking the truth in love, as Christ did for the Samaritans and ALL those he met, on the road and way. Paul did the same for the Gentiles.We do not preach an ethnic Christ or our ethnic self, nor political self, etc. All these must come to the cross and die to self. Only then can we become mature by attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ Jesus, who was resurrected after coming to the cross Himself. We servants of the Christ of God, can only find fulfillment in the Servant, at His service!Only then can the word of our Lord come true! “I no longer call you servants, because servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: love each other” John 15:15-17
We must continue to learn, through our slavery to God and Christ, the perfect service to all of God’s people in love and in reconciliation!
I bid you peace,
Your brother in Christ.
Ministry, part I
For by Him we are members and fellow citizens of the household of God as expressed in Ephesians 2:19, Philippians 3:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 12:22, Galatians 6:10. Only then can we be, with the saints, “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,” (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Exodus 19:6; Deut. 7:6, 26:19; Isaiah 61:6; Acts 26:18; Titus 2:14).
The Messianic age in Christ reaches back to the true meaning of kingship (1 Samuel 12:16, 17; Isaiah 32:1-8; Jeremiah 22:3; Ezekiel 45:9; Zechariah 7:9-10; 8: 16: 9:9; Luke 22:26). The true kingship of Christ has destroyed the wall of Separation, which is hate, in order to establish the reign of peace through reconciliation (Eph. 2:11-17). Power belongs to Christ and not to the Church in whatever form it chooses to express itself. The Way, Truth and Life is Christ, never ourselves! Question?
How then do we exercise Ministry in our cultural and political setting-in-life? The Prayer for the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:14-21) gives us the answer:
- As ‘slaves (servants) to God’ we “fall on our knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth receives its character” (vv. 14-15). If Christ’s ministry and ours is reconciliation (2 Cor.56-21),then we must regard/respect one another in the same way.
- We “pray that from the treasures of his glory he will empower us with inner strength by his spirit, so that the Messiah may live in your hearts through our faith.” (vv.16-17a)
Our inner being (strength) which, since the resurrection, is Christ himself. Through him we find our true identity and power to be ministers and servants of God.
We “pray that being rooted and founded (established) in love, we may have power (strength) to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of the Messiah’s love – the love of Christ – only as Ministers to God can we be rooted and established in love.
Whatever happened to the idea of power in weakness, of strength in helplessness? (1 Cor. 1-18, 25; 2:3; 2 Cor. 11:29; 12:9-10; 13:4). The Life of Christ was a lesson in power-shedding if you will (divine power) (Phil2:1-11). As a steward of God’s power, Jesus Christ demonstrated power in weakness, vulnerability, and love. As ministers of the power of God, in Christ Jesus, we are to do the same!
“No man is an island” said John Donne and “there are no limits to the bridges or harbors one can build” said Roy Cook. Just think of the possibilities started by the One who dared to bridge divine and human natures! With us impossible! With God things are possible!
Good New Year!
I bid you God’s peace and power within.
Your fellow Minister in Christ
Dec 2020 – “God’s Word Made Human”
Why? So that the human race can hear it. God has an announcement to make! We should listen attentively and try to understand it. Whatever God has to tell us has been made “flesh” in the words (teachings), actions, and the loving personality of the Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem, nurtured in Nazareth, put to death in Jerusalem. The Christ-event (God’s self-disclosure) is God’s final word to us (see: Hebrews 1:1-6).
“What’s in a name?”
The name, which Orthodox Jews will not even say out loud is Yahweh. This ancient name of God means “The Holy One of Israel”. The term for “Holy” is kadosh in Hebrew which means “that which is so far above man and womankind, so distant and beyond our understanding, so heavenly and unapproachable…(Vine’s Expository Dictionary, kadosh). The term “of Israel” means right here in town, in other words, The Most Distant One is here in town (in our neighborhood).
Another Biblical word for the “One that is coming,” the Messiah, is Emmanuel, “God with us.” Jesus’ is referred to as the Son of the Most High,” Emmanuel becomes God with and among us! Recognizing and acknowledging this fact in our life is what the Advent Christmas Epiphany cycle/season is all about! This year, no matter what our life-circumstances are, the Holy One, Emmanuel, invites us to venture out to meet Him: in prayer, in the Scriptures, in nature, in Holy Communion, in loving our neighbors as ourselves. Our Heavenly Father, and the Son of the Most High wants to help us always. The Lord God, wants to help us: shape our “swords” into plow shares; put aside all the weapons that we may resort to when conflicts surface in our lives; redirect all the energy that we expend on “raising swords at each other”, and use it instead to sow seeds of peace and harmony.
This season and everyday, God Almighty always offers to come into our hearts to fill us with grace, truth, love and peace! God will enable us then to offer the same to people in need of God with and in them! So, God’s word to you and one is: Let’s grow in awareness of God anywhere, but especially by careful and constant study of Jesus Christ – the exact representation and the very imprint of the Father’s heart.
Are we opening up and accepting God with, in, and for us? Only where we invite God into our hearts to help us each and every day will our Christmas be real, and our Christmas joy be a constant influence in our life!
I bid you peace, your brother in Christ.
Oct 2020-“By your Perseverance you will Secure your Life.” – Luke 21:19
“Have patience, have patience don’t be in such a hurry…” the opening words to a children’s song go. Patience doesn’t seem to be a strong point of a person’s character these days? People want to have “things” done pronto, efficiently, and NOW!! Most of us have experienced the impatient and compulsive driver behind us who takes unreasonable chances and on occasion causes unnecessary disasters and loss of ‘life.’ Patients with any kind of medical situation must practice patience. Residents who have to wait for company or friends have to practice even more patience.
The scriptures (sacred writings) record many examples of impatient people who suffer the consequence of their impatience. For instance, when God’s people arrived at Mount Sinai and had a difficult time waiting for Moses to return from the mountain. So, they lost their patience and constructed the golden calf. They said to Aaron: “Come, make us a god who will be our leader.” – Exodus 32:1
Their decision to not wait didn’t end well, to say the least. “Adonai struck the people with a plague because they had made the calf…”
In spite of our impatience and our control issues, God Almighty, promises us a way out of the misery and the distress that we cause ourselves because of our IMPATIENCE! God’s saving help has come, is here and now, and will come again! But when? Hey, we pray, but does God listen? Jesus said to his disciples (including us; you and me):
“There will appear signs in the sun, moon and stars; and on earth, nations will be in anxiety and bewilderment at the sound and surge of the sea, as people faint with fear at the prospect of what is overtaking the world; for the powers in heaven will be shaken. And their they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with tremendous power and glory. When these things start to happen, stand up and hold your heads high, because you are about to be liberated!” – Luke 21:25-28
“But keep watch on yourselves, or your hearts will become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and the worries of everyday living and the Great Day will suddenly close in on you like a trap! For it will close in on everyone, no matter where they live, throughout the whole world. Pray constantly (stay alert), always praying that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will happen and to stand secure in the presence of the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:34-36.
We are always waiting for that someone-namely, Jesus Christ, to arrive on the scene of our human condition, which provides us with the reason for patience!” By your perseverance you will secure your lives” or “save your lives” or “possess your souls.”
I bid you peace, your brother in Christ.
“We Learn What We Live”-Sept 2020
“Whoever welcomes one such child in any name”
Whenever and wherever people establish a group, management of the group becomes a necessity.
Managing a group requires or begets “managers” human beings that make any group vulnerable to mistakes and failures. And whoever is doing the “managing” usually will manage the group according to what they have learned and are used to in their own time and culture.
For instance, the Way (Christian movement) quite an endeavor (i.e., enterprise or adventure) comes into existence during the Roman empire and institutionalized itself according to the Pax Roman – Roman law and order. In the Middle Ages with more than its share of arrogant, self-important, and showy Kings, church management followed and fashioned itself after the feudalistic way of governing and managing the church. And the church in the USA has been and still is managed like big business ways, more or less.
In the beginning of the Church the Founder and Head, the Lord Jesus, had to REMIND his human co-workers that His Way to establish the reign of God on earth should not be managed by human standards exclusively! The Gospel of Mark tells us in Mark 9:30-37 that the twelve apostles had been arguing about who was the most important. Please read this passage. Jesus’ words to them on this life-skill (management) lesson was and still is service, the desire to serve at every level of management.
The task of the Church is ministry (i.e., service) which does imply humility (i.e., the simplicity of a child). The institutionalized church, the finance team, the Trustees, etc., are not the Whirlpool Company. All of our church “projects” and adventures must be guided by the Way that our Lord Jesus Christ has given to us! So, when we participate in church life, we should keep Jesus’ teaching about service with an attitude of gratitude, front, and center.
The alternative is not good…arguing, jealousy, envy, strife, etc. reigns when we forget our Founder and Leader’s way to “manage”. So, we have to be reminded that Jesus has shown us the more perfect way to God, neighbor, self!
I bid you peace.
Where Can We Go?
“When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself”. (Matthew 12:13)
Can you think of a time when you heard some sad news? What did you do when you felt that way? What are you doing when you feel this way?
Jesus was sad.His cousin had been killed (Matthew 14:1-12) and he wanted to be alone. But his friends and others followed him; they wouldn’t leave him alone. So, even though Jesus was grieving, he decided to be with them. He healed some and helped to find food for everybody to mangia (eat).
Sometimes even when we are really sad or have the blues we notice or not that our friends and familia wat to be with us. And sometimes even though we’re in-a-funk, we may be able to do something to help others? And that might help us to feel better, too.
There are times when we need to be alone, to search our souls. These are necessary times of intense wrestling but they are also times when God is with us and helps us to a clearer understanding of ourselves and our relationaship with others.
Jesus, in his need to be alone, responds in service to others. And, when the disciples ask him to send the crowds away he calls the disciples into service also. Jesus’ disciples to the people among them. As disciples alone together, during this time and in this place, welded to minister, even if we are sad about __________(fill in the blank).
I bid you peace.
May 5, 2020
To: God’s People who have a relationship with Harmony
From: Michael J.A. Padula, Servant-Minister of Christ Jesus
Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope this letter finds you well (body, mind, spirit) during this unique time in our lives. Harmony wants to remain an open outpost (i.e., a frontier settlement) for God’s peaceable kingdom on earth, as it is in Heaven. Amen! We continue to study and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in order to imitate and duplicate His character and behavior – the One “who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side, He is the One who made Him known.” John 1:18-50 – So, absorbing and digesting Jesus’ life – “making God known” to others continues to become our very life. As you know it’s a process.
In the world; not of the world.
Yes! We are zooming, messaging, but we’ve only just begun to rendezvous with one another in this “new” way.
On Wednesday evenings:
+Youth Bible Study at 6:30pm via Zoom.
+Adult Bible Study at 7:15pm via Facebook video chat.
On Sunday mornings – Easter season… Facebook live.
+May 10, also Mother’s Day, we will meet in our church parking lot to worship God – DRIVE-IN -We are currently getting the sound system hooked into a radio station that can be played in each person’s car and video capabilities for the Fellowship Hall to allow for social distancing.
Style: at 10:30AM (weather permitting).
+On everyday – we pray (weather permitting/or not J)
Given our new-life circumstance with its unknown factor, we will try to do better communicating about what is going on at Harmony.
Finally for now, as I mentioned above, that these words are addressed to all people (past & present) who have any kind of relationship to Harmony. We are trying to establish our loving relationships with each other:
- Are you presently worshipping /serving God at Harmony with your – talents, time, treasure?
- Are you presently considering transfer of membership to another community of faith?
- Are you presently withdrawn from Harmony?
Please help us know where you are on your faith journey. Thank you for your support and prayers for God’s mission at Harmony.
I bid you God’s peace and harmony in your inner-most selves.
“Soul Work” – March 2020
Discovering the movement of God in the Human Experience; Taking time to Fall in Love with God; Building Inner-Bridges with God and one-self.
Keep our frailty before us Lord: that we might set our hearts on You.
So, rid yourselves of all…and receive meekly the Word implanted in You that can save your lives…But if a person looks closely into the perfect Torah (i.e., the Gospel of Jesus Christ that brings freedom).
Worship doesn’t satisfy our hunger for God – it whets our appetite. Worship initiates an extended, daily participation in our peace and security.
Do all you can to present yourself to God as someone worthy of his approval as a worker…handling accurately the word of the Truth.
Brother Lawrence wrote, “Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and setup devices to remind them of that love, yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business (i.e., to integrate spirituality and work, which he called the “practice of the presence of God”) wholly for the love of God?” ~Brother Lawrence (1611-1691)
“Love, work, prayer, and suffering will sustain us in the future as they have in the past. All who are here now, all who will come after us, will have no other tools that these with which to build.” Mollie Rogers
Wesley and the early Methodists believed the word of God was “living and active” (Heb 4:12). Hardened hearts, distractions, pride, possessions, temptations, and spiritual obstacles impede our hearing. Early Methodists adopted practices and personal disciplines of worship, Scripture study, the sacraments, fasting, prayers, giving, and service to place themselves in the most advantageous posture for perceiving and responding to God’s word. These patterns created openings and pauses in their daily lives where God’s grace, mercy, and hope could break in, and thereby shape their behaviors to help them starve the old nature and feed the new.
“A Wisdom that is not of this ‘age’.” – Feb 2020
In Micah 6:1-8, the prophet pictures an annoyed and enraged God, whose people continually forget what their God has done for them. The only appropriate response to God’s faithful involvement in human history is “to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God”. In other words, God doesn’t want sacrifice but obedience and honesty!
In 1 Corinthians 1:18:31, God uses the weak and the “foolish” to accomplish the divine purpose (especially the ultimate sign of failure and weakness – the cross). That God should choose the way of the cross to bring about saving help puzzles our human expectations. But in this foolishness and weakness is the very wisdom and power of God!
In Matthew 5:1-12, the beatitudes provide a wisdom that is not of this “age” – a wisdom that turns our human normal standards upside down and leaves us a vision of justice with an edge of danger to it (v.11). But this is the way of Christ!
How is God turning upside down/inside out our lives, church, society, world?
I bid you peace, your brother in Christ.
“Auld Lang Syne” – Jan 2020
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) And on this journey God said to him, “Do not be afraid, I will be your shield.” (Genesis 15:1)
Journey is the image found in the scriptures that is used to speak of our faith as “journeys”. Abram (Abraham) the father of our faith, obeyed God’s call to set out on a journey, and he did not even know where he was going. He looked forward to a city that would be founded, designed, and built by God. So, his “religion” is one of surrender, trust, and letting go!
On our faith journey, we follow the call of Jesus who invites us to leave everything and follow Him. We must do what Jesus did: feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, and comfort the broken hearted. These are the very ways that we become Christ’s body (the Church) to the world today. While there are many practical matters to attend to in the day-to-day life of a church, our basic and fundamental mission is always to serve those in need and to bring Christ to others.
Your Brother in Christ,
“Being Built into a Dwelling Place for God.” – Dec 2019
On July 7, 2019 (5 months ago), I was given another opportunity to worship and to serve God’s people who gather together at Tiffin Harmony UMC. I have learned that when you begin anew with a community of God’s people that it is best to Stop, Look, and Listen.
The past five months have been a learning experience. The Harmony Congregation has been hospitable in many different ways. There have been a variety of occurrence’s and “firsts” that have afforded me time to get to know this unique group of Christ followers: Darts; H.O.O.; Kidz Klub (especially the Drive-By prayer groups); Ladies Aide (don’t tell – my favorite thus far); Office Hours; Open Food Pantry; Visitation; Sunday AM Worship; and the meetings (Ad Council, S/PRC, Trustees, Worship Team, Nominations). There are no shortcuts or substitutes for getting to know people, in order to share a common life and God’s vision for community, than spending quality time with people.
The last five months have not been easy street for Tiffin Harmony. There are many reasons that have contributed to this time or season of the congregation’s life: UMC-denominational Christianity, Safe Sanctuary issues, GRACE- the newest non-denominational presence in the area, change of Pastor, to name a few. Yet, I have observed and witnessed a tenaciousness in most congregants. We have been angry and have grieved; laughed and cried; worked, played a little and prayed a lot.
Finally, for now, we are posturing ourselves for God’s guidance and direction in order to keep on keepin’ on. While we continue to complete our Healthy Church Prescriptions, the Nominations Team has agreed to take steps to get to know the congregation beginning January, 2020. We are committed to spending some quality time with the people that we share a common life and vision with.
May we always continue to grow in the grace and full knowledge of God and Yeshua, Our Lord.
I bid you peace,
Your brother in Christ!
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