This post orginally appeared on Pastors.com:
No matter where or how you serve God in ministry, he wants you to be an agent of mercy in the world. And the world is starved for mercy. Jesus said in Matthew 5, verse 7, “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” In other words, what you give out, you’re going to get back.
What is mercy? Usually we think of two things. We usually think of forgiving people who don’t deserve it. Or we think of helping people who can’t help themselves. Those are two definitions of mercy that we typically think of.
But mercy – which, by the way, is a part of God’s character – is so much more. There are at least seven facets of mercy. These are seven ways that you can transform your relationships and develop a ministry of mercy.
1. Be patient with people's quirks.
Be patient with people’s quirks. Their idiosyncrasies. Their peculiarities. Their mannerisms. Their odd behavior. Their irritating habits. You show mercy when you don’t get irritated, angry, or uptight with people’s personal quirks. And we’ve all got them.
Ephesians 4:2 gives us some of the best marriage and relationship advice we’ll ever receive. It says, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Two imperfect people cannot make a perfect marriage. You have faults, your spouse has faults and a great marriage is the union of two great forgivers.
The first place you need to learn to show mercy is at home. Why? Because you see each other’s faults far more than anybody else does. You’re up close and personal with those faults and you’ve got to live with them the rest of your life.
2. Help anyone hurting around me.
There are hurting people all around you but too often we’re too busy to notice it. If you care, you’ll be aware.
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to teach this very point about helping the hurting around us is the meaning of mercy. A man is going down the road to Jericho and he’s robbed left for dead at the side of the road. Three guys pass by him and two of them do nothing. The third guy of another ethnicity and culture, stops and helps him, nurses him back to health, puts him on his donkey, takes him to a motel, checks in and pays the bill for the guy and agrees to come back and pay any other expenses incurred during the man’s stay.
Jesus pointed out that our neighbor is the one who is hurting, regardless of how different they may be than us. You cannot love your neighbor as yourself without being merciful.
3. Give people a second chance.
The Bible says in Ephesians, chapter 4, “Don’t get bitter or angry or use harsh words that hurt each other. Don’t yell at one another or curse or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.”
Notice in that verse the Bible contrasts mercy with six negative responses. If you want to be merciful, 1.) don’t get bitter, 2.) don’t get angry, 3.) don’t use harsh words, 4.) don’t yell, 5.) don’t curse, and 6.) don’t be rude.
The world’s response is often characterized by bitterness and harsh words. Just look at Facebook during a media controversy and you’ll see how merciless people typically are in the way they speak to each other.
We want Saddleback to be known, not for our size or great programs or great music – we want to be known as a church of mercy.
4. Do good to those who hurt you.
Mercy is giving people what they need, not what they deserve. That’s what God does with you… God gives you what you need not what you deserve. Hurt people hurtpeople. The people who you want to love the least are those who need it the most. The most hurtful people are those who need massive doses of love and mercy.
5. Be kind to those who offend you.
You have probably noticed that the verbal attacks on Christians are going up in our society. This is because we represent a barrier – we hold on to what God’s truth is. How should we respond? In kind? No, we are to be kind to those who are offensive.
One of the big problems we face today as church leaders is what people refer to as a culture war. But wars always come with tragic costs. We must decide whether we want to win the argument or win people to Christ. You don’t get across your point by being cross. You’ve got to be more interested in winning them to Christ than in winning an argument.
6. Build bridges of love to the unpopular.
There are people in your circle, people who live on your street that nobody wants to hang out with. People who you work with that everybody tells the joke behind their back. They may have those quirks. Or they may have a different lifestyle. Or they may have a different belief system or they may have a different religion or they may dress differently because of their culture. But they’re not in the in crowd. They’re not popular. They’re the outcasts.
Building a bridge of love to the unpopular is what I call premeditated mercy.
Why does God want us to build bridges of love to the unpopular and specifically to unbelievers? Because you cannot win your enemies to Christ. You can only win your friends.
If you begin to live a life of mercy you will be criticized. But Jesus wasn’t afraid of guilt by association for two reasons. He knew exactly who he was. And he knew his mission: to seek and to save that which is lost.
7. Value relationship over rules.
I want to dare you to do something very risky. I want to dare you to commit an act of premeditated mercy. Be patient with people’s quirks. Give people a second chance. Who is an unbeliever you can invite over for dinner in the next two weeks, just like Matthew did? And then invite them to church. This friends is your ministry of mercy.
If your church would like more information about starting or growing an Orphan Care Ministry, or if you would like to be a part of what Saddleback Orphan Care is doing for the Miracle of Mercy campaign, we are here to serve you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-609-8555.
Saddleback's Orphan Care Initiative believes that church and family is God's solution to the orphan crisis. Raising a child who has come from a hard place is much more likely to find success inside the support of a church community. Orphan Care is committed to equipping a team of volunteers with training and infrastructure to help meet the unique needs of each adoptive family. There are five key areas that we will seek to help support the family. Each family will be assigned to a family coach (case manager) to help connect them to resources both in and outside the church.
1. Healthy Family: Healthy connected relationships in the family is the best way to prevent and correct behavioral issues. Orphan Care will connect adoptive families to free counselling and curriculum-based support groups that teach the TBRI principles.
2. Healthy Finances: Economic sustainability is a critical need of every family to thrive. Orphan Care will connect adoptive families to Saddleback Church’s Financial Freedom ministry and PEACE Center to help the family achieve economic sustainability.
3. Healthy Education: Access to education is a key component the development every child to prepare them for life. Orphan Care will develop and equip parents with tools to help them advocate on behalf of their child in the classroom. Many teachers would benefit from learning the needs of adoptive children so that they can effectively address behavioral issues.
4. Healthy Household: The demands of raising an adoptive child can cause a family to let the house go. Orphan Care will call on the Men’s Ministry for minor repairs and household maintenance. Additionally for large projects we’ll conduct serve-days to help make sure the housing meets the needs of the family.
5. Healthy Community: Community is the fabric of every society. Orphan Care seeks to fully plug a family into fellowship with church family and adoptive community. Life was never meant to be lived alone–difficulties get cut in half and joys get doubled in the community of friends.
If you know a family who needs help in any of these areas or would like to help families in these areas simply call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555 or email
email@example.com to learn more.
Foster parents are in higher demand in Orange County after a new state law that took effect at the beginning of the year aims to place at-risk kids into permanent homes at a faster rate, said county officials. Orange County has until February 18 to come under compliance with this new law. This has placed a great need for licensed foster parents to not only provide homes for new foster children entering the system but also provide co-training for families seeking licensing. If you know someone who is a licensed foster parent in Orange County that is interested in helping the county train families by sharing firsthand experiences, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local orphan advocates at homes such as Orangewood Children and Family Center say the law also calls for major changes at group homes so that “children don’t spend years in what is referred to as ‘congregate’ or ‘residential’ care until they age out of the child welfare system at 18,” according to the Orange County Register.
“(The new law) increases our need for good foster homes exponentially,” said Elizabeth DenBleyker, public information officer for Orange County’s Social Services Agency. DenBleyker told the Register that 100 to 120 more such homes are needed.
Advocates favor the general goal of the new law. However, Orange County officials say “the new rules also present a challenge to find enough people – either relatives, other significant adults in a child’s life or foster parents – who can serve as what is being called ‘resource families’ for children whose biological parents are deemed unfit to raise them’,” the Register reports.
Read “Wanted: More Foster Parents in Orange County” beginning below.
Local advocates for children are scrambling to find more foster parents in Orange County, a result of a new state law aimed at placing abused kids into permanent homes faster. The law also figures to alter operations at the county’s best-known children’s home, Orangewood Children and Family Center.
The broader goal of AB403, which took effect Jan. 1, is to get traumatized youth into stable and supportive living situations, preferably in a family-like setting, as soon and as permanently as possible. It sets a limit of 10 days on the time a child can spend in a temporary emergency shelter such as Orangewood.
The law also calls for major changes at group homes so that children don’t spend years in what is referred to as “congregate” or “residential” care until they age out of the child welfare system at 18. Group homes typically have six or more children housed together under the supervision of paid staff.
“(The new law) increases our need for good foster homes exponentially,” said Elizabeth DenBleyker, public information officer for Orange County’s Social Services Agency. DenBleyker pegged the need at 100 to 120 more such homes.
The county has about 400 licensed resource family homes, but only about one-third are prepared and ready to take in children, DenBleyker said.
Currently, 2,304 children are in county dependency, with most of them placed with relatives or other adults in their lives in family-based settings… FULL STORY
This weekend on the Saddleback Church bulletin, Pastor Phillip
Congelliere, campus pastor at Saddleback Aliso Viejo, and his wife Alex, share how
their painful struggle with infertility ultimately led them to explore
adoption. As God opened their hearts to the possibility of being parents to a
child in need of a family, they were presented with a unique and miraculous
opportunity to adopt their precious daughter.
At Saddleback, we know that the struggle with infertility is
a challenge faced by so many couples. We also know that the process of starting
to think about growing your family through adoption or foster care can be
overwhelming and confusing. The good news is – the Orphan Care Initiative is
here to support you! You’re not alone – you can hear from people just like you
who have already walked this path.
If you are struggling with infertility, or if you would like
more information on how you can adopt or foster, we invite you to join us next
Wednesday from 6:30-8:30pm in the MO2 Gathering Room of the Saddleback Lake
Forest campus for our monthly “
About Adoption or Foster Care
” gathering. There you will hear helpful
overviews from adoptive and foster parents in our own church and have the
opportunity to get your questions answered in a no-pressure environment.
If you can’t make it to the gathering, we would still love
to talk with you! You can call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555 or email
email@example.com to get
connected and learn more.