Marti’s Thanksgiving Day message

On this side of eternity, we have been asking each other, “When is the church really a church?” Is it a church when it is gathering on Sunday morning, or is it still a church when it is scattered out in the highways and byways, in homes or throughout the Internet?

If you think, as many do, of the church as existing only when it comes together on Sunday mornings, you have to ask, “How many people does it take to make a church?” Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” (Matthew 18:20). That seems to be the very foundation of a church, so that even two or three Christians gathered together and thinking about the work of the kingdom of God is a church in action.

For many it is very hard to define a church in the New Testament sense because the early church simply met together. And what did they do? They ministered to one another, they shared their spiritual gifts, they exercised what God had given them for each other’s benefit.

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. (1 Corinthians 14:26 New International Version)

“So that the church might be built up” means more than simply teaching, or instruction of the mind; the word is larger than that. It means “to build people up.” And what does that mean? It means everything that is done contributes to the understanding of the mind, the uplifting of the spirit, the encouraging of the heart that involves growth, understanding, and exhortation to activity on the basis of an expectant attitude that God is going to be with you, and working through you – not just in the moment but throughout the days to come.

But the point I wish to make to you is this: Over this last week I have been the benefactor of you coming together “to build people up” and, especially in my case, to build me up. Your prayers, your kind words, your sincere hearts have built me up.  You have made sense to me, uplifted the spirit, and encouraged my heart. Your actions changed my attitude from anxiousness to one of expecting the Lord, which caused me to recognize Him and know He was there all along. God was with you and working through you – not just in the moment but throughout the days over these last few weeks.

Like the church of the first century, you came together, and I will forever be grateful for your willingness to allow the Lord to take your belief and put it into action.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Marti

PS: John has been telling stories on me while in the Hospital’s new waiting room, the parking garage. While he exaggerated a bit, I confess, it is all true except one thing:  no one referenced me as the General … as they should have!  And here is one last story as we enter into our Thanksgiving.

Wanting so much to get out of the confines of the hospital, I began exploring its wings, upon which I found my way into a center of older individuals who were all rather lonely – or, at least, not talking to each other.  I interrupted the silence by asking if they were familiar with my friend Tinker Bell who awakens Peter to tell him of an ambush, and warns him about the poison, but he waves her off as he prepares for a rescue. Desperate, she drinks the poison herself, causing her wings to scarcely carry her. That is when Peter knelt near her in distress. Every moment her light was growing fainter; and he knew that if it went out she would be no more. Her voice was so low that at first he could not make out what she said. He bent in nearer to her and heard that she thought she could get well again if people believed.

I flung out my arms to the children that were not there and then turned to the older people and cried.  “Do you believe? If you believe, clap your hands; don’t let Tink die.”

And do you know what happened? Everyone clapped! And everyone kept on clapping.

The clapping stopped suddenly; as a number of medical staff rushed in to see what on earth was happening.

But I winked my eye to my new friends and told them not to worry because Tink lived – because believing can even overcome the power of death. And then I turned and crept out of sight.  

We believe that faith indeed has the power to save. “We hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28). What transforms us from death to life is our faith relationship with the One who died and rose again for us.  Faith truly can deliver us from death. “Faith is the victory that overcomes” (I John 5:4).  It’s not just faith in anything, of course … it’s faith in the risen Christ.

H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G!

An announcement about our campaign will be coming soon, but in the meantime, a big THANK YOU! to all who participated, and it’s still not too late to take part.

Margie, Renton, Washington
Patti, Normandy Park, Washington
John, Lennox, Hawthorn, Australia
Priscilla, Spencerport, New York
Kim, San Diego, California
Laquita, Tyler, Texas
Dan, Placentia, California
Neil, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lynn, Pendleton, Oregon
Gene, Murrieta, California
Stephen, Big Canoe, Georgia
William, Bayfield, Ontario, Canada
John, Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky
Lynn, Duluth, Minnesota
Allen, Exton Pennsylvania
Joanne, Lynden, Washington
Carol, Melrose, Massachusetts
Ann, Rockford, Illinois
John, North Chili, New York
Laura, Phoenix, Arizona
Amanda, Visalia, California
John, Los Altos, California
Markus, Köln, Germany
Peter, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Sara, Hopedale, Massachusetts
Jeanne, Vacaville, California
Patrick, Dundee, Michigan
Kristin, Chesterfield, Missouri
Daniel, Wayne, Pennsylvania
Angela, Washington 
Steve & Colleen, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Kerry, Mason, Ohio

John, Coralville, Iowa

David, Lakeville, Minnesota

Olivia & Jimmy, Hong Kong

Paul, San Jose, California

Tim, Hillsboro, Oregon

Steve, Nashville, Tennessee

Lisa, Sunland, California

Joe, Sugar Land, Texas

Jason

Victor, New Castle, Pennsylvania

Herbert, Muskego, Wisconsin

Jennifer, Wesley Chapel, Florida

Lyn

Roberta, Kent, Washington

Rona, Northampton, UK

Kent, Bryan, Ohio

Matthew

Aline, Newport Beach, California

Mark, Garden City, Michigan

Lewis, Marin, California

Michael, Sacramento, California

Sandy, Florence, Mississippi

Laurie, Everett, Washington

Tom, Barefoot Bay, Florida

Cynthia, Harlingen, Texas

Lisa, Sunland, California

Laura, Campbell, California

Pat, Dundee, Michigan

Mike, Tucson, Arizona

Mike, Cambria, California

Tom, Oakland, California

Dave & Pat, Normandy Park, Washington 

Steve & Colleen, Keswick, Ontario, CANADA

Joe, Sugar Land, Texas

To join them, click on the button below, right now,

BECAUSE

“We’re All In This Together!”

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The unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

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[I told you that while I must have dozed off in my car while waiting last Friday for Marti to get an MRI at the hospital for a diagnosis of what we are still in the dark about, I somehow remember getting these text messages from the hospital to come and get “the General” out of there because she was taxing their patience. Totally fictitious, but not far beyond the realm of possibility, knowing Marti.]

Mr Fischer, the General is causing our linear thinking medical staff to consider solving problems with humor and insight, and creatively looking at patients as people and not as medical subjects. This is unheard of in the medical profession. It is unscientific and terribly alarming that our patients are actually responding to being connected with our staff and with each other. Where is the professionalism in that? Is this a warm fuzzy support-group or a hospital? Please take the General off our hands before she turns this place into a mission field!

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STAT

If you’ve been following our communiques closely you will have noticed that we have been “launching” a fundraising campaign on and off now for over a month. If it appears to be sputtering, it’s because our General has been on sick leave during the same period of time.

Not to worry.  As a student of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the General has designed the business of the Catch and its Ministry programs and services to operate with or without her.  And yes, she left specific instructions for all of us to carry out in her absence.

And no one has skipped a beat … except me.

Back up … I am in the hospital’s new Covid waiting room, which is located in my car in the parking lot. I am in the company of a few other signifiant others. We nod to each other in recognition of our predicament. And when a vehicle’s engine turns over, we all turn out of our isolation to salute the driver, always praying for the best and hoping the Lord will be so kind to each of us. In my hand is a copy of a doctor’s order to the hospital to admit the General for a MRI. The designation STAT appears numerous places on the doctor’s order for the procedure. I look it up to find out that STAT comes from the Latin word statim, which means “instantly” or “immediately.” Which is to say: “I don’t care that the patient doesn’t have an appointment a week in advance like everyone else; you will work her in to your schedule NOW.”

Back up farther … The General completely and utterly does not like hospitals. Trust me, there are real reasons based on early years that explain why she has no faith in hospitals.  However, it is entirely too long of a story to tell now.  (To this day I shutter to recall what it took to convince her to birth her babies in a safe environment in a hospital.)

About an hour ago, I ushered the General into the hospital admittance area.  Because of Covid-19, I  could go no farther.  This was not ok with the General, which I’m sure was made clear to all who handled her from one division of the hospital to the next.  She is not good about being a docile patient.

But then, there is nothing idle about our General. Timing for her is everything, and all of us who work with her are never surprised when she calls for action, present tense, in the moment, declaring: “Move on it” and “Make it happen;” and now, added to her vocabulary, is the new term we learned today, “STAT.”

The results of the MRI? We do not know. What’s behind the purpose of the MRI?  If I  knew, I would tell you. We have gone from one doctor to another to another over these last few weeks. I truly mean it when I say that we must leave the condition of Marti’s health in the hands of the Lord, as she has. When I know anything, you will be the first to know. Until such a time, enter into prayer with me as we wait on Him. The General is not being stoic.

On the other hand – and there is always another hand, isn’t there? – as the significant other, I am not doing too well. As indicated in my delayed daily Catch mailings over the previous days, these weeks have taken their toil on me. And here is the thing – everyone else is checking in on time with work completed as assigned … except me.

My assignment? Pick up and make happen the “On this side of eternity – We’re all in this together” fundraising campaign, and, as the General says, “bring it home” successfully and by Monday, November 23rd.

Help me out here.  Dare I say “STAT” in that we urgently require the $35,000 funding goal by Monday which the General is expecting, and yes, you are correct, I am far from “Bringing it home” successfully.

And so I am asking you in real time to work together with me, on this side of eternity to fulfill the fundraising goal by Monday, which is designated for the Catch Ministry initiatives found in our strategic plan.  Look to hear from me over the weekend to pull from the plan exactly what initiatives are in need of funding to what we are doing to further the Gospel of Welcome – Grace Turned Outward – to Everyone, Everywhere.

Oh! And bloody! I forgot to order the gift Marti created for those who participate in making this Ministry continue into the next generation.  That too, and after a few calls, I will bring to you her desired gift as well.

You and I live on this side of eternity. Since our leaders incorporated the Ministry as a cyber church in 2012, we have been in this Ministry together.  I only add one tiny tidbit to the equation today and that is “STAT”… and by Monday.

What are we looking at?  With no bells or whistles (don’t tell the General) this on again off again campaign has raised a remarkable $14,884 toward our urgent goal of $35,000, which means in the next three days, we need to raise, among ourselves, $20,116.

From this side of eternity, the amount seems like a daunting number and the work to raise such an amount, overwhelming.  On weaker days like today, the enormity of the financial need makes me weak in the knees. And then I remember the riches of God who owns everything, and who cares for you and me, and I rest in His amazing grace and your amazing generosity.

Will you join these who have already come forward?

Peter, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Sara, Hopedale, Massachusetts

Jeanne, Vacaville, California

Patrick, Dundee, Michigan

Kristin, Chesterfield, Missouri

Daniel, Wayne, Pennsylvania

Angela, Burien, Washington 

Steve & Colleen, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Kerry, Mason, Ohio

John, Coralville, Iowa

David, Lakeville, Minnesota

Olivia & Jimmy, Hong Kong

Paul, San Jose, California

Tim, Hillsboro, Oregon

Steve, Nashville, Tennessee

Lisa, Sunland, California

Joe, Sugar Land, Texas

Jason

Victor, New Castle, Pennsylvania

Herbert, Muskego, Wisconsin

Jennifer, Wesley Chapel, Florida

Lyn

Roberta, Kent, Washington

Rona, Northampton, UK

Kent, Bryan, Ohio

Matthew

Aline, Newport Beach, California

Mark, Garden City, Michigan

Lewis, Marin, California

Michael, Sacramento, California

Sandy, Florence, Mississippi

Laurie, Everett, Washington

Tom, Barefoot Bay, Florida

Cynthia, Harlingen, Texas

Lisa, Sunland, California

Laura, Campbell, California

Pat, Dundee, Michigan

Mike, Tucson, Arizona

Mike, Cambria, California

Tom, Oakland, California

Dave & Pat, Normandy Park, Washington 

Steve & Colleen, Keswick, Ontario, CANADA

Joe, Sugar Land, Texas

To join them, click on the button below, right now,

BECAUSE

“We’re All In This Together!”

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So many questions; so few answers

But among those answers is only one that stands out, and it stands out because it is the only answer that answers every question: People need the Lord.

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Come together, right now, over Jesus

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The country four years ago.

I wrote this Catch four years ago during the 2016 primaries. We were divided then. We are even more divided now. Except for us in the Body of Christ; we are not divided. We have come together over Jesus. And we’re sticking together, regardless.

It’s a silly, nonsensical Beatles song (even George Harrison admitted that), but its most memorable line is the word for us today: “Come together, right now, over me,” if by that we mean: “Come together over Jesus.”

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‘Together’

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“Together” means we are not alone. It means we belong to each other for the duration. It means that if you choose to mess up, you take me with you; and if I mess up, I take you with me. That’s the kind of thing that might make us think twice before we do something stupid. We have big words for this like “accountability” and “responsibility,” but in the end, it means that we are on a journey together. We are walking side by side.

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FinderSeekers on this side of eternity

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I thank you for your ever-mounting interest as we continue building a community of what I can best describe “On This Side of Eternity” as FinderSeekers.

God knows we like to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It is a part of His thinking — His design for each of us. He created us to seek new beginnings, to ask “why,” to think, to seek, to act upon the reality and the glory of His eternal Word.

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‘A harvest of generosity’

th-5-e1540323453571God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. (2 Corinthians 9:7 MSG)

It is very clear, in all the biblical teachings on giving, that God doesn’t want gifts that are begrudgingly given. He doesn’t want pain in my heart as I give. He wants joy. In fact, if that which is brought is brought reluctantly, God would rather not see it. After all, He already owns all things anyway, so God is actually more concerned with what the gift does to us than anything it will address in the real world. It’s not like we have to give God a helping hand poor God out here. He doesn’t need it; we need it. We need to give. God is seeking our joy. He knows all about the joy of giving; He wants us to know it, too. Give, or shrivel up in selfishness.

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