Just finished Natasha Metzler’s second book in the Women of Promise series. I couldn’t put it down! How did Paris get her name? What’s this attraction to Dan, the police officer from Emma’s village who is now on staff at the NYC mission? Will she be part of her sister’s wedding now that sis’ fiance helped her find Paris? What’s the secret of the apple pie? How will she make amends with her estranged family? Will Paris be able to heal and find a future? Does God really put the lonely into families? This story brought me happy and sad tears, and I learned much about redemption of relationships, more facets of God’s love and redemption, discipling young people, and what an effective ministry can look like.
Natasha has a gift for creating fascinating characters and descriptions that pull you right into the story and keep you turning pages. I recognized her inspiration for things like the old school that was converted for the mission’s use, the couches to make the sanctuary comfortable and inviting, the kitchen, and many other things I’ve seen in person in a friend’s mission in Northern New York where Natasha lives and where I am from. The model for discipleship of the new believers stuck out to me: they start with 1 John, then 1 & 2 Peter, followed by the book of James. This puts the young people on a firm foundation for a Christian life. Members of the staff mentor, and those older in the faith do peer mentoring. An outstanding discipleship model many groups/individuals could use! I give Love, Paris five stars!
In my lessons with my friend Cyprien, we are working through Communion With God (CWG) ministry’s Experiencing God Together book by Mark & Patty Virkler. The focus is on small group ministry. This week I am focusing on the true aim of teaching:
1 Timothy 1:5 Here is what teachers should aim at. God’s people should love each other with a love which comes from a clean heart, a clear mind, and true faith. *WE Worldwide English (New Testament)*
I believe I saw this in action in Love, Paris. Head knowledge, according to the Bible, puffs up; fills us with pride. Heart knowledge leads to that love which comes from a clean heart, a clear mind, and true faith. Paris suffered from her parent’s strict, religious way of life. They could not accept her due to her youthful rebellion twelve years prior to this story. Strict adherence to rules developed by man’s desire to fence in their God experience lacks the love of Christ who can bring wayward sinners back into the fold. We can have all the knowledge of the ancients and do great exploits and do many Spiritual things, but if we have no revelation of the love of God, we have nothing. This is what the Apostle Paul says in Corinthians. As humans, we like to have strict parameters to meet, a goal we can humanly define. We can accomplish this through head knowledge and teaching; focus on academics. God looks at the heart and bids us to come fellowship and learn His way of love, expressed in the sending of Jesus, fully human, fully God -bridging the gap-making a way of reconciliation.
***Did you know Disciple is the title Rome used for those who spread the Roman culture to their vanquished possessions? They found their conquered acquisitions did not follow Roman culture and law. So they trained Disciples to go live in those countries and teach them the ways of Rome. Jesus adopted the term for those who followed and learned from Him. As disciples, we are to learn the ways of the Kingdom of God and teach others to do the same.
Let us contemplate the depths of the love of God in Christ Jesus as we walk through this season of Lent. I’m on pins and needles waiting to see how Father God reconciles all that’s going on in our militarized capitol. Make preparations to experience His greater glory SOON! Don’t forget to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, Shalom to all of Israel, as Psalm 122 enjoins us to do. As Israel goes, so do we!