Pastor’s Page

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Pastor John LaMantia, Executive Director

(April)

Thank You for Joining Us at the Cross

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

There is a woman in town who works in the mental health field and who also has been involved in rescuing horses. I have followed her exploits with keen interest and considerable amazement. Animals with signs of neglect and abuse so profound they looked more dead than alive have been revived under her care and the care of her family and friends. At the same time these nearly gone horses have revived their human helpers. (This last part I completely understand having myself flourished under the ministrations of an Australian Shepherd named, “Sasha.”)

The first act of redemption for the horses was a change of ownership. That change took them from the pens where they were held for destruction but it did not heal them. For them to become horses again it was going to take inner healing. Their diet had to change. Their rotten coats had to be groomed as trust and the will to live was communicated directly to their hearts by patient hands with a brush and a comb.

Their journey has been amazing. One of these evenings in Chapel our horse rescuer will share the full story with people who are themselves in need of rescue.

Easter is ahead of us. What a season to consider the work of One who changed our ownership and who set about to heal us from the inside out. One who ministers to us daily the living hope His death and resurrection made possible. One who is restoring us to usefulness.

Like the fig tree in Luke 13 that was condemned to be destroyed for lack of fruit, we have been spared by the careful Gardner but the choice to flourish is our own. Essayist, Debbie Thomas, makes some good points worth asking ourselves. “In what ways am I like the fig tree?  Un-enlivened? Un-nourished?  Unable or unwilling to nourish others?  In what ways do I feel helpless or hopeless?  Ignored or dismissed?

What kinds of tending would it take to bring me back to life?  Am I willing to receive such intimate, consequential care?  Will I consent to change? Might I dare to flourish in a world where I have thus far been invisible? “

Part of this ministry God has given the Mission is to feed and to shelter but “consequential care” that involves communicating trust and safety, offering an invitation so personal that it can hardly be missed. Offering an opportunity to heal from the inside and to share that healing with others. To see hope come alive. To this end the precious Word of God is our brush and comb.

Thank you for joining us at the Cross.

May the bright hope of the Resurrection enliven every area of our lives and produce a beauty and a fruitfulness that is the Glory of our Savior.

Happy Easter,

Pastor John


(March 2019)

The Future is Christ

Earthquakes, politics, riots, the economy. . .   This world makes a lot of noise. Sometimes all I hear is the noise and not the music. That is quite an admission for a musician. Sometimes the noise is national or international but most often it is closer to home. Often it is in my spirit. Often it threatens to drown out the still small voice that soothes, directs, comforts and inspires. You too?

Our brother Matthew, who knew something about taxes, corruption, politics and persecution, about sleeping in fields and needing to find food also knew about having a friend in God. He knew about how your life changes from natural to supernatural when God chooses you. He knew how to get out of the shadow this world casts and to walk in the shadow of the Almighty. He knew about the safety of a boat where divinity sleeps.

I have been looking at the beginning of a perfect storm. A proposed state budget revision to downsize funding for homeless services*, the elimination of a need for individuals to itemize on federal tax returns that might cause people to give less because they don’t need the deduction and the aging out of a generation of people who believed in first fruit giving, these may all combine to adversely impact many social service agencies and nonprofits including the Mission. Almost everyone I have spoken to has a concern or a comment. It woke me out of a sound sleep several times. I tried to tell Kathy it was coffee I drank too close to bedtime but it was really the noise in my unquiet heart. I care about the work we do here. I care about the people we serve. I care about the people who partner with us. The TV, radio and newspaper were all telling me how hard it was going to be.

Then I spoke with people my heart needed to hear. I spoke with the people we serve.

I spoke with a former homeless gentleman who now shares space in Sutton House. He was able to move into an affordable home, continue to attend groups and maintain employment. Over a meal he let me know that we were an answer to prayer. A miracle. A lady shared with me that she did not know where to turn and was friendless and without direction until she found a bed at the Mission. Her life has made a 180. A miracle. A married couple is living together in mutual sobriety, working, worshiping, walking out their dreams. A miracle. Over and over I heard, “Pastor John, God made it good for me here.”

God is the miracle. That miracle is always on time.

I am taking Matthew’s advice. God will help us with whatever hard thing comes. He has treasure set aside for just such a time as this. He will bless and empower those of you who are willing to be the paymasters of His mission fields. We have found Him faithful in the past, this unchangeable One. He will be faithful as we move forward helping the lost to find a miracle.

I came to work to find a frail, eighty-year-old woman with a suitcase standing in the snow in our parking lot. “I just need help for one night,” she said. Sometimes one night can give you back your life. We are going to continue to plan for the future because the future is Christ. I know you will come with us.

Blessings and ten thousand besides!

Pastor John

* The Mission runs entirely on donations. While we will not suffer the loss of state funds other homeless services in our area will. This will surly result in an increased need for the services we provide.


 

(February 2019)

It Is More Important to Hold on Than to Run

Keep me safe, O mighty God. I run for dear life to you, my safe place. ~ Psalm 16:1

A pastor I know once used the following illustration. A man was looking over a fence and watching another man frantically running through a field trying to escape the horns of an agitated bull. There was a deep hole in the field and the runner would jump in and the bull would pass. However, in a few seconds he would surrender his safety and jump out. The bull would chase him again around the field and back into the hole. In and out and in and out.

Finally, the perplexed observer hollered over the fence at the runner, “Hey, Friend, why don’t you stay in the hole?” To which the runner replied, with the bull once again chasing him, “Because there’s a bear in the hole!”

Have you ever felt like you spent your days with a bull in the field and a bear in the hole? Honestly? I often felt this past year was a year spent running and jumping. There will always be some challenges in life but some days stretch into seasons and that can be daunting. Health issues, family or professional issues, questions of faith, financial challenges, the loss of loved ones and friends, these can take their toll. Fortunately, I did not experience all of those but it was hard at times.

Some days you put on your mask when your feet hit the floor and when people politely ask how you are you don’t tell them. You smile and just keep moving. Luckily for us we have a God who can climb fences and is fearless where bulls and bears are concerned. He is our safe place.

When a situation would arise where I did not have a ready answer I prayed for guidance and for wisdom. When resources were needed, I prayed for those. When the answers were unclear or delayed, I asked myself an important question: If I don’t know what to do in this situation, or on this day, then what thing(s) can I do today that I know will please God? What may I do that will give Him glory or bring Him joy while I wait on the answer to prayer? We usually know the answer to that question so that was the direction in which I went. (While still keeping an eye out for that bull.)

I believe that safe place the scripture tells of is a place where God is our focus. A place where hope and not judgement answers the door. It is a place where answers develop and outcomes begin to form up. It is a place of confessions as well of professions. It is a place of resource as well as respite. It is one of those places Jesus went on ahead to prepare for us. We are guilty of believing He was only referring to a heavenly home when he said He was leaving the earth to prepare a place for us so we could be together. I know that was exactly what He was doing but, like so many promises God gives, it has more dimensions. He promised to be with us always and always includes today.

So, if today catches us between a rock and a hard place Christ will be our safe place. Answers will come. Strength will come. He has been building a way through the desert even as we ran from the bull and the bear. While we wait on Him let us realize that we wait with Him. What will make Him rejoice, well, that is what we can do.

The love of the Father is deep and wide. That same love has put a floor under us, holds us up, keeps our feet from slipping, stands us on solid ground (even here in earthquake central). The love of God has our answers and the energy we need to walk them out into reality. Let the bear and the bull chase one another. We are safe in the everlasting arms.

In this month of February, when thoughts turn to those we love, we are in special prayer over the lives we minister to and also over those who partner with us. Some of you have financial needs relating to our recent earthquake. Some of you have given the bear and the bull names. For such a time we have Jesus and the use of His name. Please email us at jlamantia@anchoragerescue.org, or send us a note in the enclosed envelope, and let us know how we may pray for you. There is a time set aside each day to meet with God over our needs.

May you experience the loving and trustworthy embrace of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the month ahead.

With affection,

Pastor John LaMantia