cant even

15 03 2018

So, I love Jesus, but how do I respond to this mess, this violence, this suffering?

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalms 34:18 This helps us understand what God is thinking about today, how God is feeling today.

It’s safe to say that the news, in the past couple of weeks, has been gut wrenching. We’re experiencing a range of emotions and thoughts. We may be asking questions like, “God where are you?” We are seeing the results of old sins unresolved and new ones committed as hurt people hurt people. There are natural causes and there are spiritual causes.

People are grieving here in Baltimore. They may be grieving the loss of Freddie Gray, Lor Scoota, Mackenzie Elliott, or Molly Macauley, or many more recently. Families are grieving loss from school shootings.

It is healthy to grieve. It is healthy to say, “This should not be!” God grieves and is angered by murder and injustice. Yet we must remember that today God is not at a loss for words or answers. God has not lost control of our world. God sent Jesus as the answer for the world today.

I believe that it is important for us to not sweep our feelings “under the rug”, nor trivialize how people around us are feeling.

J. I. Packer writes, “when bad things happen to good people…they lament with great freedom and at considerable length to their God. And Scripture does not seem to regard these prayers as anything other than wisdom.” He goes on to note that the plaintive question to God, “How long?” is asked almost twenty times in prayers of the Psalms, and is almost a technical sign of this kind of prayer. Psalms 39 and 88 can reasonably be called pitch-darkness prayers. Some believe that Jesus recited Psalm 88 the night before he was put to death. Jesus understands our pain and discouragement.

On the cross, Jesus prayed a prayer that many believe God did not answer. Even in the face of that evil, when it looked like our enemy had won, there was hope. Even when the friends and family of Jesus stood near the cross and it seemed that Father God had not answered that cry, there was hope. Father God knew that this suffering was necessary so that you and I could be forgiven, so that we can have access to God every day. Father God knew best.

When we submit to God’s will, trust Him, pray for miracles, and work hard where He’s placed us…there’s an amazing amount of hope that we can experience.

And so, let us ask some specific questions: Where does God have me? What does God want me to do? What is it that I can do today that I cannot do in Heaven?

God has placed around you people who need to see hope in the face of evil. You can ask them questions, listen, speak love, and pray for a miracle of grace & peace. You can do it. Please remember that you are an eternal spiritual being having a temporary natural experience.

God has given you the right to ask Him to set the wrongs, right.

So find someone today, ask them, “Is there anything that I can pray with you about?”

Then simply ask God for miracles. Please be specific. Ask God to do something big.

As you consider this, here’s a suggestion of a prayer that you can pray:

“Lord please help me to be more aware of the people you have put in my life. Please help me faithfully love them, help them, and be a faithful display of your love for them. Thank you for this opportunity today. Thank you God! Thank you for putting this person in my life. God, please help this person with ___ . Please help me see what I should do.”

I believe that our Father God is alive, aware, able, and active. Let’s relate to Him like this is true.

If you were unable to worship with us last Sunday, please see the Scriptures listed below and listen to our prayer and message time at iTunes or: http://cityharborchurch.com/category/podcast/

Rebecca and I love you all so very much. We’re praying for you daily. We are available to you. Please feel free to let us know if you would like to talk through what you’re feeling or ask questions. May God continue to bless you this weekend! May God bring His grace and peace to our city!

Ben Malmin, Pastor

City Harbor Church                  …a safe place to find & follow Jesus

  • “Nothing will separate me from the love of Jesus. In all these things I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me.” Romans 8:35, 37
  • “I will be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10
  • “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
  • “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
  • “Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He’s done.” Philippians 4:6
  • “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1
  • “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2




Help through the holidays

1 12 2017
We are helping families of those who are incarcerated, that we City Harbor Church serve weekly, with the Christmas holiday. (It’s a private effort by our volunteers who serve them year round.) If you would like to help please feel free to make a donation at http://cityharborchurch.com/give/
We are also giving shoes to the homeless and need Mens shoes sized 9 – 12.
There are many places providing ways to serve those in need over the holidays.
  • My favorites:
  • Manna House (serving the homeless daily) 25th & Greenmount (410) 889-3001
  • Ms Millie and A Mother’s Cry (serving the mothers of murder victims) (443) 303-6289
  • Somebody Cares (serving the homeless and those in other needs) Somebody Cares Baltimore Christmas contact Erin at erin@servethecity.org
  • Please consider the Whitelock Farm in your charitable efforts this month!
     Their work is an amazing part of service, good stewardship, and helping bring quality produce to others right here in Baltimore City.

Here’s a note from our brother Justin:

Dear Friends and Family, I am writing to ask to consider making a tax-deductible donation on Giving Tuesday, which is an annual day of generosity in which people are encouraged to give after spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Your contribution will help me to pursue my personal fundraising goal of $2000 and to support the community programming of the farm.

Your donation will support the following community programs:

  • Educational partnerships with Dorothy I. Height Elementary School and Midtown Academy.
  • A youth internship program
  • Community workshops on topics such as basic gardening, composting, and food preservation
  • Community potlucks and community events

We need your help to continue to cultivate our community programming in 2018.  Please consider making a tax-deductible donation at the following link (even just $5, a little bit goes a long way!) to our campaign.

Thank you for your courageous generosity!




A Baltimore murder in NYC

23 03 2017

This week there is news of a murder committed by a neighbor of ours, who went to NYC and carried out a vicious act of senseless violence. We did not know him. Honestly, I don’t recall ever seeing him. It seems that he has made statements of “hate for black people” as the motive for his crime.

I have yet to meet a little child with hate in their heart for people with a different skin color. God did not create us that way. Anger is dangerous. Evil is real.

It is my belief that we are of one human race. God created ethnic traits as a beautiful expression of his creativity that are to be celebrated. We can create culture out of our identity, each of us created in the image of God.

Yes it’s true, God notices murder. He notices each one. He saw the first murder and he said that the “blood cried out to him from the ground”. Our Father God made it clear from the beginning that this should not be.

We see in Psalm 34:18 that God is close to the brokenhearted. We believe that God is alive, aware, able, and active. We believe that God can bring a miracle of grace and peace even in the face senseless violence.
As a white man, I have confessed, repented of, and sought forgiveness of my own sins and many times done the same for the sins of other white men.
Let each of us do the same. Let us then pray the prayer of Jesus toward others, “Father forgive them.”
It is time for us to pray for each person affected by each murder.
Sadly in Baltimore this is something that we pray about every week.
Please join me in prayer:
May each person who commits a murder repent of their sins turn to Jesus and find forgiveness and New Life.
May each family member, neighbor, friend impacted by murder receive the miracle peace that’s available through Jesus may we draw closer to each other.
May we get to know each other better.
May we love God with all our heart and we love our neighbor in the same way that he first loved us.
May we see an end to murder, here, now.




walk and talk this weekend

24 02 2017

Baltimore friends, has there ever been a better weekend for us to walk our streets, meet our neighbors, talk and listen to each other? It’s beautiful outside and someone needs to see your smile! After last night, we now have 50 murders (last year at this time there were just 34). Time for us to pray more than before. Let’s ask God for mercy and a stop to the violence. Let’s ask Father God what He would have us do, here and now with specifics. Today I enjoyed time with non-profit, business, and church leaders…hearing from them how they are responding. We are not alone. Good things are happening this week!





Prayer topics during Porter trial

15 12 2015

Here’s a few thoughts on how we can pray and act during this week of waiting for a verdict, in the trial of Officer William Porter (the first of six on trial for the criminal death of Freddie Gray).

  • There’s never been a better time for us to talk to God, ask Him for change, and listen to Him.
  • There’s never been a better time for us to listen to the people around us and be peacemakers.
  • It’s time for us to, “work for the peace of the city, pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine our welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

One of the great mysteries of our God is that He is a God of both justice and mercy. Each are essential to His character: who He is. It’s time for us to pray for justice and mercy.

When Jesus taught us to pray, in Luke 11, we hear Him say, “Father, may Your kingdom come, may Your will be done.” We are to always ask God that what He wants to be done would be done. May the efforts of our enemy and any person, who is not in alignment with our God, be stopped.

How do we pray His kingdom come? “The kingdom of God…is righteousness, peace, and joy,” is the explanation given to those following Jesus in Rome. Let us pray for peace and joy. Let us pray for each person to have good healthy (in right standing) relationships with others and with our God (which is righteousness). Let us pray with specifics. Let us pray for miracles, that which is beyond our ability.

Family of Freddie Gray

May God bring them comfort in their loss. May they find strength in Jesus and encouragement from others. May their expenses be paid. May God bring forgiveness.

Officer William Porter and family

May God bring repentance for any wrong and salvation through faith in Jesus. May God cover he and his family with peace and protection. May God bring forgiveness.

Baltimore City residents

May God bring:

  • Healing where there has been pain, injury, and cause for fear
  • Justice where there has been injustice, police brutality, false imprisonment, educational/economic inequality
  • Peace where there has been cause for much frustration and anger
  • Mercy where we deserve punishment for our wrong
  • Salvation of our souls through faith in Jesus and the grace He offers us
  • Hope where there has been cause for hopelessness, discouragement, disillusionment
  • Joy where there is none because through Jesus we can know Heaven

Peace through this process

May God put a stop to those with criminal intent to do violence. May God send away and bring to repentance those who are now here from outside Baltimore, who are not working according to His will. May God’s plan for peace be extended through good people working in new opportunities.

Baltimore City Police

May God bring to repentance those who have done wrong. May God give them wisdom to truly protect and serve us. May God help them to be peacemakers. May God comfort them and protect them and their families. May God help Commissioner Davis with wisdom and swift reform.

Jury

May God grant wisdom to those serving on the jury. May God help them communicate with each other well. May God comfort them and protect them and their families. May God bless them for their service.





Why is Baltimore burning? What can I do?

1 05 2015

Why is Baltimore burning? What can I do? Love Gives.

I love Baltimore. I love its people, neighborhoods, and streets. This tragic week I’ve spent a good deal of time crying and laughing with its beautiful citizens. We have cleaned up, prayed up, and hugged it out. Planning meetings continue because there is much to do for the long term good of Baltimore City. There’s a beautiful spirit of unity in the city right now. We will be here when the National Guard and the media leave, still serving. Because love gives.

“It should not be.” The violence of this week and the many underlying causes of such rage cannot be simply described here. Most Baltimore natives are shocked and yet not surprised. This week was not just about police brutality or negligence. It’s not that simple.

Why would a firefighter friend of mine have a gun in his face to prevent him from putting out a fire?

The truth is that we do not have educational and therefore vocational equality in our country. Generations of Baltimore citizens have come to believe that other people do not care about their struggle.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Remember that question? What should I do? How should I live? Jesus said that the most important truth of Scripture was, “Love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor in the way you take care of yourself.” I believe that if we all lived this message Baltimore would not have burned.

“Jesus is the answer for the world today.” As a kid I sang that song and it’s been fresh in my memory this week. There’s a reason Jesus chose to read Isaiah 61 when he revealed himself as our Creator. The Good News of Jesus includes setting the wrongs right.

Throughout human history peace talks have included sitting down to eat, to talk, to listen. Just before Peter wrote, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you,” he wrote, “all of you serve each other in humility.”

This week I’ve been reminded of the days, before moving here, of seeing blocks of vacant homes in urban poverty. Knowing that God wanted me here and yet staring at the challenges of such decay. A question began to burn in me, “What can God do?”

Each of us can “love God with all we’ve got and love our neighbor the same way we take care of ourselves.” Please overcome the obstacles and ask your neighbor questions, listen, and show your love.  Please connect with Jesus, grow in faith, and share his love. Because love gives.





How you, our out of town friends, can help.

29 04 2015

How you, our out of town friends, can help.

Pray for –

Peace, end to violence and many coming to faith in Jesus. There’s one true source of hope.

Wisdom, for all involved as we serve the city neighborhoods for long term solutions.

Clarity for parents/teachers having conversations with kids and teens.

Coordination and strategic connections between all community leaders to get help for those who need it most.

Jobs, our city is in need of economic growth and entry level careers for our city residents.

First Responders, our police, firefighters, and paramedics live in harm’s way and they also need support.

Give –  http://bit.ly/TrdRxj 

Here are activities that we are regularly involved in. If you would like to make a donation it will help us meet these needs directly. Over the years, we have worked hard to develop relationships with quality non-profits, community organizations, and other churches that we have partnered with (using our hands and funds) to directly meet needs.

Feed and clothe the homeless. When possible provide them with transition services into independent living.

Provide job training. We have partners who do amazing work in this area. We also provide resume and interview services.

Serve the families of murder victims. Saturday May 9th we are helping provide a dinner and affordable Mother’s Day gift to 175 moms of murder victims. We still need help with the gifts.

Garbage clean ups in several neighborhoods. From spring through the fall every year we organize these and they have been one of the most successful things we’ve done.

 

http://bit.ly/TrdRxj