Daily Archives

March 12, 2018

Are You Willing to Go if God Calls You? Thoughts on Our Mission as We Follow Jesus

Mission, ultimately, is at the heart of the gospel. I’m always fascinated to hear unbelievers today arguing that while they do not believe Jesus to be God, he nevertheless seemed to be a pretty nice guy—and a great moral teacher at that. But interestingly enough, those who did not follow Christ as Lord during his earthly ministry would have vehemently disagreed. The Roman and Jewish leaders didn’t see Jesus as some warm and fuzzy thought-leader; they saw him as a radical whose teaching stood in opposition to everything they supposed religion ought to be. In Matthew 22, having just silenced the Sadducees, Jesus later found himself being confronted by the Pharisees who asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Hoping to catch him in a silent stupor, these religious leaders likely had some smug looks painted across their faces. Try as they might, the Pharisees simply couldn’t stump the God of the universe. Jesus answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” the second greatest commandment, he added, was to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The Calling As followers of Jesus, our mission here on…

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Iranian-American Minister: Why the Bible Belt Is the Perfect Place for Muslim Refugees

Samira Page sees the church mobilizing to serve Dallas’s influx of new neighbors. When Samira Izadi Page arrived in Dallas nearly two decades ago, she experienced a generous Texas welcome from a local Baptist church that provided her Iranian family a fully furnished apartment. That first impression changed her life—setting her on the path to finally convert to Christianity, seek ordination in the Episcopal Church, and dedicate her career and ministry to refugees. “My life has always been about being a bridge between two cultures,” said Page, founder of Gateway of Grace, a nondenominational nonprofit that has connected more than 90 Dallas congregations with refugee families in the area. “It’s not about me; it’s about God’s work. I see myself as just a bridge, a steward of what God is already doing.” Plenty has changed in North Texas since 1999, when Page and her ex-husband arrived with their two sons, having made their way to the United States via Turkey and Mexico. Back then, Page had glimpses of the God of the Bible—a childhood dream of Mary that she could never forget, plus the Christian values gleaned from classic literature she read growing up in Iran—but hadn’t yet come to…

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Doors and Broken Handles: Discerning Where God Wants Us to Go

How do we know when a door is really shut? How hard should we pull? I drive a minivan during the winter in Chicagoland. Last week, on a sleet-filled day in the grocery parking lot, I pulled the sliding door handle. In dismay, I found that the door was frozen shut. This was the third time this month this had happened. So I tried harder. And harder. Finally, I gave it one last yank. Next thing I knew I was flat on my back with a broken door handle in my hand. We have all experienced open and closed doors in our Christian life. But how do we know when a door is really shut? How hard should we pull? Certainly, sometimes in my life I have wanted to give up on a closed door. I recall the difficulty at finding the first church after seminary at which I could serve. Months passed and I began to doubt my call to ministry because all the doors seemed shut. As I was passing for one of the last times besides the “opportunity board” at the seminary, I saw an advertisement from a church in Greece. After all the closed doors, this…

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