Hearing the Music

Results filtered by “Addison Hawkins”

Truths for 2021

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One thing continues to ring true as we enter the new year and inch our way along: Jesus is King! Many other “things” ring true as well - the sun is rare in the winter in West Michigan (it's shining as I write this, hallelujah!), snow is cold, politics are messy, 2020 was hard (and unwelcome in many respects), people are suffering, and church should be a safe place. That last one is a difficult truth to write. For many of us we do experience church as a safe place; a place where we can be vulnerable before God, friends and our community. A place we can turn to in times of need or struggle; a community to help us process and pray through situations. However, there are many people who don’t see church as a safe place. Victims of abuse, whether physical, emotional, spiritual or the like, can experience that abuse from within the church community and see church as unsafe. Recently a fellow member of Christ Church on a "healing journey” wrote the following letter that sheds light on some of this. It begins with a reminder from the Bible:

"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known."          Luke 12:2

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 3 women experience sexual violence during her lifetime and nearly 1 in 4 men experience sexual violence during his lifetime. Recent investigations within Southern Baptist churches confirm sexual abuse to be as much of a problem within evangelical churches as it is in the rest of the country. When abuse occurs, the victims tend to wrestle with questions about God, such as: "does God care?" or "why doesn’t He do something?". Rachel Denhollander, a lawyer, former gymnast, and sexual assault survivor, expresses in her book "What is a Girl Worth?" that sexual abuse damages the victims forever. She shares, “I lived with the scars too, and I was wrestling with the reality that full healing doesn’t ever come" (pg. 226-227). While this may be true on this earth we have hope in a God who will heal all. Psalm 147:3 assures us:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Along with this, the Bible also tells us, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9). As a church we must strive to be a place of safety and healing for those who are hurting. We must seek to help the broken in mind, body, and spirit. May God give us wisdom and compassion as we humbly work in this ministry.

Love,
A fellow member of Christ Church on a healing journey

There are two aspects of this letter I hang on to. First, that “as a church, we must strive to be a place of safety and healing for those who are hurting.” Amen. The statistics are daunting, concerning and humbling. The results of investigations in the SBC and other denominations shed more light on this issue. Part of Jesus’ mission is to bring healing to the sick and needy. We are starting a new sermon series on Sunday titled “I Am”, looking at the 'I Am' statements made by Jesus in the gospel of John. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Way, Truth and Life, the Resurrection and Life. Jesus is the King who has come and who knows His people's hurts, habits and hang-ups and enters into them. We must seek to trust wholly in Jesus in all circumstances.

The second aspect I hang onto is that our wisdom and compassion in this area must come from God, for He is the one who heals. It doesn't come from our own wisdom or from the world. The healing we provide is only a shadow of what God offers through a relationship in Jesus. As we seek God and as the Holy Spirit moves we will be a safe place for those who are hurting. 

Join me in praying for the hurting in our community who experience abuse. Let us pray that God would make Christ Church a safe place in 2021 and beyond.

 

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

Posted by Addison Hawkins

Loving Discipline

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This Sunday we are going to be following the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. It’s a fantastic story. There are so many angles, details and little plots that happen throughout it, we will not be able to cover it all. Since that is true I wanted to cover one of the characters we won’t spend much time with for a minute. Gehazi.

Gehazi is Elisha’s servant. We know him from different stories throughout Elisha’s story arc (2 Kings 4, 5, 6 & 8 are all places he makes appearances in some form or fashion). He shows great compassion during the Shunammite woman’s story in 2 Kings 4. He plays his role in Naaman’s miraculous conversion as the servant who passed on Elisha’s message when Naaman and his entourage showed up at their door (2 Kings 5:10). Yet he also has his moments that make us scratch our heads, like at the end of 2 Kings. When you read through the whole narrative, and I would highly recommend you do so before we worship together on Sunday, you will notice that the end of the story seems pretty dark. Just as Naaman begins the story with leprosy, Gehazi ends the story with leprosy. What happened?

Gehazi can’t look past himself. When Naaman offers Elisha a payment or gift for his role in his healing, Elisha refuses. He wants God to get all the glory. Naaman insists but Elisha continues to say no. Gehazi doesn’t like this, he thinks they deserve some of that money. He thinks it would be helpful for the work they are doing. Or perhaps he wants a little bonus for the role he played. What his motivations were we won’t know this side of the Jordan. So Gehazi takes matters into his own hands, he tricks Naaman and gets some money and goods out of him.

He is disciplined by God, through Elisha for his betrayal of what Elisha said and what God truly wanted. For God to be glorified alone. This discipline seems sad. It seems to be a dark ending for this servant of Elisha and of Yahweh. Yet we know that this is not the end of Gehazi’s story, he returns in 2 Kings, pointing to the fact that he is disciplined, but not isolated, not outside of God’s love, favor, mercy and grace.

So it is with our discipline. It’s hard to walk through seasons of discipline. Personally I try and shy away from it. When I know I have wronged somebody, and ultimately God, I pretend as if nothing happened. Why? More times than not its because I’m scared. I’m scared of what people will think or do to me. Will they include me in their social gatherings? Will they share information with me? In other words, will I still feel like I am in the in crowd? And these all translate to God as well. 

The message of the Gospel is that King Jesus loves us enough to discipline us AND to keep us close to him. In fact that is exactly what his discipline communicates. I love you, and I want the best for you, and I hope that you see how this discipline will lead you back to me! As Jack Miller used to say, “Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” 

Friends, that is what King Jesus says to his children. Through discipline we experience that love, that mercy and that grace.

 

 

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Posted by Addison Hawkins

On Mission

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The Missions Festival is in full swing. It’s been a joy to see, hear and even taste of other cultures and countries. If you’re like me, exposure to these sorts of experiences and ideas leaves me asking a single question: Why? Why do we consider other cultures and countries? Why connect to them? Why spend our valuable time, and often money, on this sort of thing? Why do we keep doing this? Is it simply to know more, see more, to be more “well-rounded” Christians? I guess what I am asking and wondering is: is there more to these sorts of things than meets the eye (or the occasional taste bud)?

When we look to the Bible to answer this, we get a resounding, "yes". It may not surprise you that mission was at the heart of Jesus’ incarnation and ministry. To say Jesus was “on mission” seems a bit silly to say because it seems so...obvious. However, in an evangelical world that seems to tag “missional” onto just about everything, tagging it onto the life of Jesus is actually a correct fit. Consider what Jesus says early in his ministry: “but he said to them, 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose'" (Luke 4:43). Jesus names what he is doing as preaching, as taking “the good news” to different towns; that is his purpose. In other words, he is on mission. Also, consider Jesus’ parting words known as the Great Commission in Matthew 28 to his disciples. He is having them "go, make disciples… of all nations." His value of mission was passed on to his disciples. This certainly isn’t a new theme in the Bible either. God was fully aware of this dynamic when he was sending Israel into the Promised Land. The same can be said for the distinctives God was giving the Israelites in Leviticus about what it looked like to be YHWH followers.

So, let's attempt an answer to the many "whys" that were asked. We are on mission because Jesus takes mission seriously, and as Christ-followers we also take mission seriously. Highlighting the way Christ Church is on mission through the Missions Festival is more than tastes, words and experiencing other cultures, it’s being faithful to our call as Christ-followers in our current context. We are seeking to expose many others, in many other nations, to the saving power that is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Illustration by Lillian Fuller

Posted by Addison Hawkins

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