Pastor’s Page

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Pastor John LaMantia, Executive Director

(July)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  ~ Revelations 21:4

The Old Order of Things Has Passed Away

“John, grace is very scientific!” I have a teacher friend who loves the “science” of God. God-geometry, God-physics, God-chemistry, etc. I got trounced in a recent argument on the subject. This person is an onion peeler. My friend loves the small details, the stitches in the hem of God’s robe so to speak. It will take Eternity for God to answer all the questions being saved up by this God-chaser. They make my own head explode.

I was meditating on Revelations 21 and the comment about the old order of things passing away struck me. This is July and every July we are reminded of the birth of our Nation. The old order of punishing rule by a foreign sovereign came to an end as new freedoms were guaranteed under a Divine Sovereign. On so much grander a scale that is what we have to look forward to when the government comes to rest upon Christ’s shoulders.

In that future day the science of scripture will come into play. Tropically (metaphorically) the scripture is talking about the order of

evil, of suffering and sorrow passing away. That which is anti-God will pass out of His Kingdom. One scholar’s note on the passing away mentions the evanescence of evil – which, in terms of

physics (courtesy of my friend), means the line evil has projected now “extends into a region where it cannot propagate.” Sorrow and suffering, sin and sadness will have quite literately run out of road.

What an encouraging thought! It is also encouraging that when we look into the word of God, when we seek Him in prayer, when we live in the immensity of His grace, turning away from what belongs to that old order, evil, in those moments, begins its passing. We don’t have to wait for that Revelations 21 future, as grand as it will be- we can move forward in freedom this very day. That is the “all things are becoming new” promise of God’s present word.

The Mission will celebrate the 4th of July with our clients. We will have an inspirational movie and food appropriate to the day. We never want to forget God’s precious blessings to our Nation. We want to always remember those whose service guards our freedom. Equally, we want to celebrate the freedom of Calvary and offer every individual under our roof a chance at a new life where old things pass away.

May the blessings of liberty ring in your heart. May God bless the United States of America.

Pastor John


(June)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  ~ John 1:12

Soup of the Day 

 Several years ago, when Kathy and I downsized and moved across town we made a large haul of books to Goodwill. I remember laughing because we had numerous copies of Chicken Soup for every kind of soul imaginable. We had purchased the first ones but after that people gifted us. Chicken Soup for the (Mother’s, Father’s, Pastor’s) Soul. Pick a soul and we had the soup for it. I took many an idea from those books for a sermon or an encouragement.

I was surprised and saddened to learn that the self-help author of those books had abandoned his wife and young son to take up with his masseuse without any obvious repentance that I was able to find mentioned. He had a net worth of 25 million dollars but he was an utter failure as a husband and father and was on his third marriage. His son, who was the same age as my son, was in a band called Child Abuse, was addicted to heroin and after a final eighth attempt at recovery, made it and wrote a tell-all about the kind of soup served for supper in their house. (I understand his father did commend him on his writing style.)

I can tell you as a pastor and a father that news made me wince. All the money and success in the world amounts to nothing if our arrows don’t fly true; if our children struggle to right themselves while having one foot on a banana peel of hypocrisy. Lord, save us from such a life. Lord, save us from error but if we sin, let us seek and receive forgiveness from You and from our families. Lord, make us better soup makers.

Fathers are called to love but fathers are also called to lead. We are called to the kind of sonship and leadership that reflects Our Heavenly Father’s character and strength. We are called to love our families sacrificially as Christ loves His Church; tenderly as Christ loves each lamb and fiercely as He stands between those He loves and judgement.

Some of us had fathers who came up short, some of us wish we had done a better job with our own children. It is never too late to seek a new beginning.

God can come into agreement with such a desire if we are willing to embrace forgiveness for our own fathers and to seek it for ourselves. If we allow Our Father to fully be Our Father there is a world of possibilities for the future. The scripture says that our belief in Him is not an earth-born faith but a God-breathed revelation that comes with rights and the first right is sonship. God has been at this fatherhood thing a long time. He is in possession of the best soup recipe in any universe you can name.

The last thing the enemy of our souls wants is for us to be in right relationship with the Father or to be in a stable relationship with our own children. Boo-hoo for him because the psalmist says God has prepared a table for us in the presence of our enemies and I bet that God-soup is what’s for dinner. The meal that is full of the promises of scripture and covenant blessings; strength for the day and nourishment sufficient for an army.

Find a moment as Father’s Day approaches to call home. Take time to share your heart with your Almighty Father. He longs to share this life with you. He longs to answer your prayers for your own sons and daughters. He longs to become the wisdom you need to be a godly parent in today’s world. Honor Him by honoring your own earthly father and giving him the grace you would ask for yourself.

Several of us here at the Mission often stand in the place of a father to those God has brought to our door. We covet your prayers that we may demonstrate God’s love, God’s way, every day.

May these lengthening days and the coming of summer bring a season of energy and enjoyment that all of us in Alaska look forward to. Please remember that we are continuously in need of your faithful support no matter the season. Winter or summer the kitchen is in full swing and, praise God, soup is often on the menu!

God bless you and provide for you in every way.

Pastor John LaMantia


(May)

“Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed, however hurt, to forget her nursing child?  Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed?  Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you.  Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands”. ~ Isaiah 49:15-16

 

I Have Made You A Part of Me 

He was four years old going on forty and he had taken a grown woman to the edge. I’m not sure to the edge of what but she was there. Now he was in a seething sort of time out so she could find a moment to recover. She took a breath, prayed for wisdom and headed down the hall to “make peace.”  She had expected motherhood to be hard sometimes. She had not foreseen that her much desired child would be such a keen and relentless adversary.

She quietly opened the bedroom door and found him on his small knees beside his bed, head bowed, praying. Her heart melted on the spot. All was forgiven. She was already baking him cookies in her head. “What are you doing, Sweetheart? Are you asking God to make you a good boy?” she inquired. “No,” he calmly answered. “I am praying to Jesus to make YOU go away!”

The 49th chapter of Isaiah has woven throughout it a bearing-and-birthing kind of love with respect to God and his people. There is, in fact, a word for “love” in the Hebrew which is related to the word for a woman’s womb. God loves His people the way a mother loves and carries the child conceived in her. The text goes a step beyond to emphasize that even if a human mother could forget her child, God would never disavow what had been made part of Him because He cannot reject Himself.

Many of the souls we serve and even some people reading this newsletter, have a wound inflicted by a parent that has blighted their lives. A wound that leaves one with self doubts and a sense of estrangement from humanity in general. Left with a sense of being all alone and truly unlovable due to some unknown fault of their own.

It is a God who has not forgotten, who will never renounce, who will always bear us upon His heart; it is this God who is our peace. He not only consoles but is our very consolation.

Just like the small boy in the story above, we sometimes pray God away because we want our own way. God isn’t going anywhere. Even if we find our lives in a time out, He is at the door and His love comes with Him. This is the message we need to share. This is the truth that offers a born-again reality that hushes the lie that we are alone.

Forty men and women trusted the promise of God last month in Chapel. Forty men and women found themselves not alone. We are here to help them embrace a truth bigger than the loss they have lived with. God holds on! God holds on!

Fast forward forty years and our boy has been released from time out. He is on his way home from his job working in the emergency room. He pulls his cell out in the parking lot and dials a number. A familiar voice answers. He hears the welcome in her tone. “Hi, Mom. I’m leaving work. I just wanted to take a minute to call and let you know how glad I am that I have you in my life.” “What? No, I don’t need to borrow money. I was just thinking about you.” (It all comes right when God is family.)

Someone said that nothing is ever really lost unless Mom can’t find it. There is One more relentless than Mom who searched for us and found us. We will each find our name written on His nail scarred hands.

Blessings to all the women who have spoken into our lives and given us their protection. Blessings to all the ones who did not and who need our forgiveness.

Happy Mothers Day,

Pastor John LaMantia


(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