What are Our Boundaries?

15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 16 ‘You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:15-16

The boundaries of fairness and respect in our relationships are not to be determined by the external circumstances of poverty, wealth, or appearance. Instead, all people are to be treated with an equality that is based on our recognition of them as our neighbors.  We are not only to see that all are treated fairly in whatever dealings we may have with them, be it the PTA, Little League, the gas station, or simply the service counter at our local store.  And we are to practice fairness in our dealings with each other even when we are apart; we are not to slander our neighbor.  To slander someone simply means to speak of them in their absence in a way that is false, incomplete, or simply damages their reputation.  It stands to reason if someone isn’t present to defend themselves concerning what is being said about them, they aren’t really being treated fairly, are they?  In short, we are not to take any action, or utter any word, that detracts or diminishes the life of our neighbor.  Honestly, when it comes to dealing with living beings, we are simply not to act or speak against the life itself of that person.  “Who is my neighbor?” is a question once asked of the Lord Jesus by a man who wanted to draw some boundaries between the people he bore an obligation to and those he didn’t.  The Lord’s answer forever erased the lines people draw between those considered worthy of protection and those considered unworthy (Luke 10:25-37).  But let me put a different spin on the questions.  Ask yourself, “Who isn’t my neighbor…and why aren’t they?  Your answer will reveal your boundaries.

See you Sunday,

Pastor Ken

 

 

Mental health, homelessness, etc.

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Creative? Sure. But not suggestive of a healthy neighborhood!

The contents of the linked article (below) will not surprise anyone who regularly worships at Grace Bible Church. (I recall, as a paramedic in downtown Portland during the mid-1980’s when mental health facilitates and state supported hospitals were shutting down, being privatized, etc., and there were soon increased numbers of those who suffered mental illnesses who ended up living on the streets.  It was sudden, and noticeable, from my perspective.)  I don’t have the exact answers to the problem of untreated mental illness, esp. as it effects our neighborhood–and it doesn’t appear that our city and cultural leaders do, either. But perhaps a good start to the road to finding those answers lays in simply practicing our faith as we best see fit: praying, caring for people, protecting people, and advocating for the people around us at 12th and Clay St.

Also, it seems good to start educating ourselves to this issue of mental illnesses, esp. in our context, and the relation of mental illness to homelessness, with all of its related problems and challenges. No matter what our giddy real estate market of Portland says, or our zealous, idealistic tourism industry–mental illness, homelessness, drug addiction, and public safety are critical issues in our downtown community that are increasing, daily, causing great concern to downtown residents and businesses, bringing much challenge to our church, and effecting the livability and shalom of our community (and all communities that face the issue) . . . and the issue seems a long, long way from being resolved.
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Sunday morning. Regardless of any specifics about this man’s life–this simply is not the way people live in a healthy community.
The relation of homelessness, mental illness, and (I have observed) addiction is complex, frustrating, and usually heartbreaking.  People who do not have homes are not dangerous, lawbreaking types that anyone should fear. In a recent bible study class at Grace, I asked, “How many of us have ever been without a home, and out on the streets?” A half dozen members raised their hands. People who live with mental illnesses are not crime-prone, or dangerous, either.  Especially with the advent of quality mental health care, and amazing medications–there are amazing stories of redemption, healing, and restoration all around us–and yes, especially our church. But I feel we need to start putting more effort into understanding the complexities, as best we can, so we can best represent our dear Lord in the midst of them. For a start, here’s an article that I found very concerning, and informative related to the issue of mental health care in Oregon. Please continue to pray, to reach out, and to advocate for the health and safety of every person in our neighborhood, whether they have homes or not, share our faith, or attend our church.
Also, please remember to pray for the safety and wellness of our Police Officers. I’ve met with them regarding this issue, and am time and again impressed with their professionalism and patience . . . and also, the tremendous burden and stress they work under each day.  If you would like to volunteer to help out with our Rest Stop at Grace Bible Church–which provides a safe place for officers to relax and recharge during their shifts, please get in touch with me or with Michael Glanz. And if you are interested in helping out with the many ministries in our neighborhood that serve those who do not have homes, or who are in need of food, I can introduce you to those wonderful people, too!
Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Thursday Prayer Watch

Beginning next Thursday, June 1st, we’ll continue with our Thursday Prayer Watch at Grace Bible Church, 1431 SW 12th Ave, 7-7:55 AM. The prayer group is open to everyone, and we hope you will consider joining us as often as you like.  Some people are there every week, others once a month or so, and others, every once in awhile.  We usually start our time with a couple of minutes of coffee pouring and catching up, then we read the Bible.  We then devote ourselves to praying for each other, for the needs of our church, neighborhood, city, and world. It’s a very relaxed, encouraging, and powerful experience to gather in the presence of God to pray together.

See you Thursday!