Sunday, February 14, 2016

In the News ... "Lenten Series seeks change"

• Several guest speakers scheduled to speak in Basin

OA Photo by Mark Sterkel
Staff Report
Odessa American


ODESSA, TEXAS -Lent is a period when Christians should reflect on their shortcomings and resolve to imitate Jesus Christ by becoming more self-sacrificial toward their fellow man, say two ministers who’ll speak during the Odessa Ministerial Alliance’s annual Lenten Series.

Observed during the 40 days prior to Easter, Lent began with Ash Wednesday Feb. 10 and will continue with speakers at five churches ...

• read the rest of this OA report ...

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 29"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 29"

"Third, we speak of the service involved in bearing with others. “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Thus the law of Christ is a law of forbearance. Forbearance means enduring and suffering. The other person is a burden to the Christian, in fact for the Christian most of all. The other person never becomes a burden at all for the pagans. They simply stay clear of every burden the other person may create for them. However, Christians must bear the burden of one another. Only as a burden is the other really a brother or sister and not just an object to be controlled."

Biblical Wisdom

"So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith." Galatians 6:9-10

Questions to Ponder

In what ways might “bearing with others” have a positive rather than negative connotation?
What do you think of Bonhoeffer’s assertion that: “The other person is a burden to the Christian”? Can that be a good way to look at other people?
How does the church “bear with” the larger community that surrounds it?

Psalm Fragment

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved ...” Psalm 55:22

Journal Reflections

Think of the people in your life. To whom are you a burden? How does it feel?
In what ways do the people in your life help bear your burdens?
Whose burdens are you helping to bear? How does it feel?

Intercessions

Who in your circle of family, friends, and acquaintances is weighed down with heavy burdens? Pray for them in their need and ask God to show you how to help them bear those burdens.

Prayer for Today

Loving God, thank you for bearing with me; make me willing to bear with others.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 28"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 28"

"The other service one should perform for another person in a Christian community is active helpfulness. To begin with, we have in mind simple assistance in minor, external matters. There are many such things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the lowest service. Those who worry about the loss of time entailed by such small, external acts of helpfulness are usually taking their own work too seriously. We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God, who will thwart our plans and frustrate our ways time and again, even daily, by sending people across our path with their demands and requests."

Biblical Wisdom

"“The greatest among you will be your servant." Matthew 23:11

Questions to Ponder

What are the forms “active helpfulness” might take in a community of faith?
Is it true that: “Nobody is too good for the lowest service”? Why, or why not?
How does taking their own work too seriously tempt people to undervalue the real needs of others?

Psalm Fragment

“For he [the ruler] delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight ...” Psalm 72:12-14

Journal Reflections

Reflect on specific instances in which you were “interrupted by God” in the form of someone in need of help who crossed your path. What did you do? How did you feel about it?
Write about your degree of willingness to be “interrupted by God.”
What might the “lowest service” be in your community of faith?

Prayer for Today

Lord, as I go about my business today, don’t hesitate to interrupt me, and give me the grace to notice the interruption.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Far East News: "Karen Man Receives His First Bible after Praying 63 Years"

Devestating floods, deadly cyclones and repressive governments notwithstanding, our friends in mission based in southeast Asia continue to spread the love of Jesus Christ, not only through their actions, but through the written Word of God. Following is an update we received from Mark and Astrid of the Christian Far East Ministry. We met with them both, learned from them and contributed to their efforts during our Thailand Mission, in 2008. Their work extends beyond the borders of Thailand into other southeast Asian countries, as well.

visit CFEASIA's website
visit CFEASIA on Facebook



"LORD, may your gracious love be upon us, even as we hope in you.”   PSALM 33:22 (ISV)

Karen Man Receives His First Bible after Praying 63 Years

CFEM Photot
My name is Mr. Saw Kho Phaw and I am 81 years old. I am from the Sqaw Karen tribe. I was born on August 12, 1934. I was brought up in a Buddhist family. Since I was a child we moved from place to place, because the Burmese Army and the Karen Army were always fighting. When I was 12 years old my parents were killed by the Burmese Army. I was devastated and I didn’t know how to go forward in life. But I was invited by a Karen Pastor to stay with his family, and I did. When I was 18 years old (in 1952) I accepted Christ. From that time I am very happy and I have joy in Christ.

I always attended church services and I was very active in church activities. But in our church there were no Bibles. Only the pastor had a Bible. I had never touched a Bible, because it’s really precious and I thought that only pastors could buy and own a Bible. So I asked to the pastor, ''When I get old can I own a Bible?'' The Pastor said, “Even now you can buy and own it if you have money.” From that time I earnestly prayed to God to get my own Bible. This was in October 1952. So when I had enough money I tried to buy a Bible, but there were no Bibles for sale. Since then I have been continually praying for a Bible, but I was never able to own one.

After 63 years of continuing to pray for a Bible, God answered my prayer through you all today (November 2015). And it’s free! I didn’t have to buy it. I tried to give money for the Bible, but I was told, “It is free.” I really thank you for this free Sqaw Karen Bible with hymnal. God never forgot my prayer. I promise that I will pray for you all.

God bless you!

Mark and Astrid



NEW INCORPORATION - Christian Far East Ministry has now been incorporated in America. All gifts may now be given directly to Christian Far East Ministry, PO Box 1411, Glendora, CA 91740. "If it is easier for you to continue to give through Faith Community Church or His Servants Ministry, you can as our relationship with these ministries has not changed. But if you are mailing checks to the Glendora address, you may now make all gifts payable to Christian Far East Ministry. We’d like to thank Faith Community Church and His Servants Ministry for their assistance and support throughout the years and their continued assistance. We’d also like to thank all of you who support us and pray for us as we could not do this ministry without your partnership."

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 27"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 27"

(When Bonhoeffer speaks of community, he means any gathering of Christians, including the family.)

"The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. … We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to “offer” something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God."

Biblical Wisdom

"“Listen carefully to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears." Job 13:17

Questions to Ponder

What do you think of Bonhoeffer’s statement that “the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them”?
In what way is listening to our brothers and sisters doing “God’s work” for them?
Why do you suppose so many people find it so difficult to listen?

Psalm Fragment

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! ...” Psalm 81:11-13

Journal Reflections

Write about a time when you benefited from having another Christian listen to you.
Write about your experience as a listener. Are you a good listener? Did you feel like you were doing God’s work as you listened?

Intercessions

Think about someone in your community of faith who never seems listened to. Pray that they might have the courage to speak what is on their heart and mind, and pray that you would have the compassion and interest to listen to them.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, may I have the grace to listen to you and learn from you; may I have the grace to listen to and learn from others.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 26"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 26"

"Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. Alone you stood before God when God called you. Alone you had to obey God’s voice. Alone you had to take up your cross, struggle, and pray and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot avoid yourself, for it is precisely God who has singled you out. If you do not want to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called…

But the reverse is also true. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone. You are called into the community of faith; the call was not meant for you alone. You carry your cross, you struggle, and you pray in the community of faith, the community of those who are called. You are not alone even when you die, and on the day of judgment you will be only one member of the great community of faith of Jesus Christ…

Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone."

Biblical Wisdom

"For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another." Romans 12:4-5

Questions to Ponder

Why do so many people in our society seem to fear being alone?
Why do so many churches seem to be mere aggregates of individuals rather than true communities of faith?
In what ways can a disciple establish a healthy balance between aloneness and community?

Psalm Fragment

“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them ...” Psalm 111:1-2

Journal Reflections

Write about times when you have intentionally been alone. How did it make you feel? What did you do? Did your aloneness have any impact on how you felt when you were with others again?
Write about your experience in community. Do you feel an integral part of your community? Do you feel like you have a good balance between time in community and time alone?

Intercessions

If you know anyone who seems lonely, pray that they might discover true community. If you know anyone who seems afraid to be alone with themselves, pray that they might discover the joy of solitude, of being alone with God.

Prayer for Today

O Lord, when I am too much alone, help me seek community. When I am too dependent on the community, help me to set aside time to be alone.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Far East News: "Cambodian VBS Bears Fruit for Eternity"

Devestating floods, deadly cyclones and repressive governments notwithstanding, our friends in mission based in southeast Asia continue to spread the love of Jesus Christ, not only through their actions, but through the written Word of God. Following is an update we received from Mark and Astrid of the Christian Far East Ministry. We met with them both, learned from them and contributed to their efforts during our Thailand Mission, in 2008. Their work extends beyond the borders of Thailand into other southeast Asian countries, as well.

visit CFEASIA's website
visit CFEASIA on Facebook



"LORD, may your gracious love be upon us, even as we hope in you.”   PSALM 33:22 (ISV)

CFEM Photo
Cambodian VBS Bears Fruit for Eternity
A CFE sponsor supported so that Pastor Timothy and his wife Sieng Lai could hold a special Vacation Bible School (VBS) in September for the children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. They work all year long to reach the children for Christ and to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. Their ministry team holds Sunday school clubs for children in many locations. But these special, big, VBS events really impact the children.

This time they met for five days in different locations and 425 children participated. By the end of the week 87 children had prayed a sinner’s prayer to truly accepted Christ as their personal savior. When Sieng Lai talked to them personally to confirm their decisions, some questions came up, such as, “If I believe in Jesus, and if my parents die, can I cry?" There are many false rumors spread around their town about Christians by the Buddhist majority. And because of one of these false rumors the children thought that Christians are not allowed to cry. That was sad, but after an explanation she smiled.

The ministry team was elated to see many truly come to Christ. They worked with joy and happiness, and even though they became tired, they could go on without hesitation for five days. After the VBS each Sunday School Club saw increases in the number of children attending by between 10% and 30%. What a blessing from God. The children are now coming more regularly to the Sunday School Clubs, and the children are praying more and praying more earnestly. They want to know God more and more.

Also, the young ministry team has learned how to reach out more effectively. Their faith has increased and they can trust God easier now. Even one young lady who still lives with her parents, recently her father ran away from the family, but she is still able to be happy and to come and teach the children to trust in God. The whole ministry team is coming together weekly to pray for the children’s outreach as well as other needs in the church and in the community. Their joy in serving God in the field has increased and they are seeing God’s calling clearer.

God bless you!

Mark and Astrid



NEW INCORPORATION - Christian Far East Ministry has now been incorporated in America. All gifts may now be given directly to Christian Far East Ministry, PO Box 1411, Glendora, CA 91740. "If it is easier for you to continue to give through Faith Community Church or His Servants Ministry, you can as our relationship with these ministries has not changed. But if you are mailing checks to the Glendora address, you may now make all gifts payable to Christian Far East Ministry. We’d like to thank Faith Community Church and His Servants Ministry for their assistance and support throughout the years and their continued assistance. We’d also like to thank all of you who support us and pray for us as we could not do this ministry without your partnership."

Invitation to Prayer from Faces of Children ... TODAY

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Invitation to Prayer, Today

Hi Friends,

I hope you can make it to our time of prayer tomorrow at 11:3, at First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas, followed by lunch together.

Please join us in lifting up the needs of vulnerable children around the world.

Hallelujah Home in Kalaymyo, Burma


On their recent trip to Burma, members of the FPC Missions Team visited the Hallelujah Home in Kalaymyo. This home has been supported by our church since it began in 2008, when Nu Bawi felt God call her to help care for vulnerable children and she began taking children into her family's home. Currently 11 children live at the Hallelujah Home. The children are a mix of orphans and children from surrounding villages who would not have any opportunity to receive an education if they stayed at home with their families. Sadly, last year Nu Bawi passed away quite suddenly due to illness. Thankfully her family has continued in her steps, caring for the children and providing them a safe place to grow, get an education and learn about Jesus, but it is a big responsibility to take over for Nu Bawi. Please pray for strength and wisdom for those leading this ministry now, and please pray that they continue to receive the support they need to love and serve their children well. Also, please pray for the following children who live at the Hallelujah Home.

Daniel - 2 years old
Samuel - 5 years old
Thomas - 7 years old
Dawt Ku - 11 years old
Abisak - 12 years old
Thangte - 14 years old
Dawt Tha - 15 years old
Bapa Hmun - 15 years old
Sanda - 16 years old
Mawi Mawi - 18 years old
Lian Lian - 19 years old

All the best,

Carrie

Carrie J. McKean
Faces of Children Director
First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas
(432) 684-7821 x153



If you have prayer requests about children, those who care for them, those who have authority over them, or those who harm them (the really hard prayers to say sometimes), please send them to info@facesofchildren.net

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 25"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 25"

"Christians are persons who no longer seek their salvation, their deliverance, their justification in themselves, but in Jesus Christ alone. They know that God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces them guilty, even when they feel nothing of their own guilt, and that God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces them free and righteous even when they feel nothing of their own righteousness…

Because they daily hunger and thirst for righteousness, they long for the redeeming Word again and again. It can only come from the outside. In themselves they are destitute and dead. Help must come from the outside; and it has come and comes daily and anew in the Word of Jesus Christ, bringing us redemption, righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. But God put this Word into the mouth of human beings so that it may be passed on to others. When people are deeply affected by the Word, they tell it to other people. God has willed that we should seek and find God’s living Word in the testimony of other Christians, in the mouths of human beings. Therefore, Christians need other Christians who speak God’s Word to them. They need them again and again when they become uncertain and disheartened."

Biblical Wisdom

"Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." Hebrews 13:7

Questions to Ponder

Where do disciples go to satisfy their daily hunger and thirst for righteousness?
If Christians find their salvation, deliverance, and justification not in them­selves but in Jesus Christ, how should they use their resulting freedom?
If God has put God’s word into the “mouth of human beings,” who is responsible to speak the word? Only pastors or church workers? Why?

Psalm Fragment

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness. They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness ...” Psalm 145:5-7

Journal Reflections

Write about specific Christians who have spoken a word from God to you when you needed it.
Write about people to whom you have spoken God’s word.

Intercessions

Think of someone you would like to be a spiritual friend with and ask God to help you build a mutually supportive spiritual relationship with him or her.

Prayer for Today

O Holy Spirit, send the people I need to bring me the word of God, and send the people I need to speak the word of God to.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Invitation to Prayer from Faces of Children ... TOMORROW

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Invitation to Prayer, Tomorrow

Hi Friends,

I hope you can make it to our time of prayer tomorrow at 11:3, at First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas, followed by lunch together.

Please join us in lifting up the needs of vulnerable children around the world.

Hallelujah Home in Kalaymyo, Burma


On their recent trip to Burma, members of the FPC Missions Team visited the Hallelujah Home in Kalaymyo. This home has been supported by our church since it began in 2008, when Nu Bawi felt God call her to help care for vulnerable children and she began taking children into her family's home. Currently 11 children live at the Hallelujah Home. The children are a mix of orphans and children from surrounding villages who would not have any opportunity to receive an education if they stayed at home with their families. Sadly, last year Nu Bawi passed away quite suddenly due to illness. Thankfully her family has continued in her steps, caring for the children and providing them a safe place to grow, get an education and learn about Jesus, but it is a big responsibility to take over for Nu Bawi. Please pray for strength and wisdom for those leading this ministry now, and please pray that they continue to receive the support they need to love and serve their children well. Also, please pray for the following children who live at the Hallelujah Home.

Daniel - 2 years old
Samuel - 5 years old
Thomas - 7 years old
Dawt Ku - 11 years old
Abisak - 12 years old
Thangte - 14 years old
Dawt Tha - 15 years old
Bapa Hmun - 15 years old
Sanda - 16 years old
Mawi Mawi - 18 years old
Lian Lian - 19 years old

All the best,

Carrie

Carrie J. McKean
Faces of Children Director
First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas
(432) 684-7821 x153



If you have prayer requests about children, those who care for them, those who have authority over them, or those who harm them (the really hard prayers to say sometimes), please send them to info@facesofchildren.net

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 24"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 24"

"Every human idealized image that is brought into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be broken up so that genuine community can survive. Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial…

Those who dream of this idealized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands, set up their own law, and judge one another and even God accordingly…

Because God already has laid the only foundation of our community, because God has united us in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that life together with other Christians, not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive. We thank God for what God has done for us. We thank God for giving us other Christians who live by God’s call, forgiveness, and promise. We do not complain about what God does not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily."

Biblical Wisdom

"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:1-6

Questions to Ponder

What does it mean to love the “dream of Christian community more than the community itself”?
If “we enter community not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive,” what should our attitude and action toward the community be?
Is it easier to “complain about what God does not give us” or to be “thankful for what God does give us”? Why?

Psalm Fragment

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever ...” Psalm 28:7-9

Journal Reflections

Write about your response to Bonhoeffer’s ideas about Christian community.
Does reading Bonhoeffer on Christian community change the way you feel about your faith community? How? Or why not?
Does it suggest any practical changes in the way you relate to your faith community? If so, what are they?

Intercessions

Think about your faith community and spiritual friends (name them) and thank God for the support you get from them in living your life of faith.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, I will be as important to my spiritual community as my spiritual community is to me.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Far East News: "Ministry to North Korean Refugees"

Devestating floods, deadly cyclones and repressive governments notwithstanding, our friends in mission based in southeast Asia continue to spread the love of Jesus Christ, not only through their actions, but through the written Word of God. Following is an update we received from Mark and Astrid of the Christian Far East Ministry. We met with them both, learned from them and contributed to their efforts during our Thailand Mission, in 2008. Their work extends beyond the borders of Thailand into other southeast Asian countries, as well.

visit CFEASIA's website
visit CFEASIA on Facebook



"LORD, may your gracious love be upon us, even as we hope in you.”   PSALM 33:22 (ISV)

Ministry to North Korean Refugees
For more than a year we supported a work to North Korean refugees. Because the work is so highly political we haven’t reported it before, and we can’t give any details of the work. We are supporting a good friend who prays and trusts God to even be able to meet the refugees. Most refugees don’t stay long and are quickly processed by authorities and moved. So our friend works to try to meet the refugees in the short time that they might be accessible, bring them some relief supplies, and give them a Korean New Testament. Below is one of his recent testimonies:

On this trip there were only two North Korean refugees: a boy and a girl. Both are teenagers or maybe in their early 20s. I brought them North Korean New Testaments and gift bags with food and hygiene items. The police were not going to let me give the gifts to the refugees, but the Lord was working and just when I was leaving another policeman showed up who knew me and told the commander, "He is New York police.” The officers all were impressed then and said I could see the refugees and give the gifts to them personally. Praise Jesus.

First I gave to the boy. Amazingly he could speak English. I asked him if he was a Christian and he said yes. Then I gave him a Bible and he was joyful and he blessed me greatly. I gave him gift pack and prayed with him.

In the next cell was the girl, who I will never forget. The policeman called her over and she got up and then I saw she had been badly beaten. The whole left side of her face was black and her eye was swollen shut. I asked her if she knew Hananim, North Korean for God, and I made sign of cross and a prayer sign. She shook her head no. I gave her a Bible and she smiled. When I gave her a gift bag she cried. I prayed for her. I asked her about her face and she got upset and went to back of her cell and lay on the floor and hid her face. I fear that this poor child has been raped.

I cannot put into words the joy in knowing that right now this poor broken and beaten child who is alone in her cell now has the Word of God and I pray God will watch over her. For her the Lord brought me to that place at that time. You can be president of the United States, or walk on the moon, or win the lottery or be MVP in the Super Bowl, but nothing can equal the joy of handing the Word of God to that poor girl. It’s amazing what God put together to reach that one young woman with His word. God brought the money for this mission from other missionaries and God brought the North Korean Bibles from a missionary in South Korea. God brought me from four hours away. And God brought the policeman around the corner at exactly the right time to tell the commander who I was so that I could meet the refugees.

This is not foundation work. It is not fundraising work. It is not program work. It is God’s work. I write now to missionaries and Christian workers to forget your programs, forget conferences, and forget college courses. You need to know only 2 things: pray and obey. I say again: pray and obey.

God bless you!

Mark and Astrid



NEW INCORPORATION - Christian Far East Ministry has now been incorporated in America. All gifts may now be given directly to Christian Far East Ministry, PO Box 1411, Glendora, CA 91740. "If it is easier for you to continue to give through Faith Community Church or His Servants Ministry, you can as our relationship with these ministries has not changed. But if you are mailing checks to the Glendora address, you may now make all gifts payable to Christian Far East Ministry. We’d like to thank Faith Community Church and His Servants Ministry for their assistance and support throughout the years and their continued assistance. We’d also like to thank all of you who support us and pray for us as we could not do this ministry without your partnership."

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 23"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 23"

"There is probably no Christian to whom God has not given the uplifting and blissful experience of genuine Christian community at least once in her or his life. But in this world such experiences remain nothing but a gracious extra beyond the daily bread of Christian community life. We have no claim to such experiences, and we do not live with other Christians for the sake of gaining such experiences. It is not the experience of Christian community, but firm and certain faith within Christian community that holds us together. We hold fast in faith to God’s greatest gift, that God has acted for us all and wants to act for us all. This makes us joyful and happy, but it also makes us ready to forget all such experiences if at times God does not grant them. We are bound together by faith, not by experience."

Biblical Wisdom

"Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called․that you might inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9

Questions to Ponder

Why is “the uplifting and blissful experience of genuine Christian community” somewhat rare?
What is the “firm and certain faith” that holds Christians together even when there is conflict and tension between them?
What does it mean to say: “We are bound together by faith, not by experience”?

Psalm Fragment

“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes ...” Psalm 133:1-2

Journal Reflections

Write about an “uplifting and blissful” experience of genuine Christian community in your life. Write about a time when faith kept you in community even though the experience of community wasn’t so good at the time?

Intercessions

Think about your community of faith. If there is any conflict or tension in the community, pray that faith in the unity given by Christ would sustain the community as it seeks to resolve the conflict. If the members of your community of faith are presently at peace with one another, thank God for the experience of unity.

Prayer for Today

Lord, I need Christian community. Help me to be there for others in the same way I need others to be there for me.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

In the News ... "Bishop to talk adversity at National Prayer Breakfast"

MRT Photo by Steve Kuhlman
• Event set for Tuesday morning, February 9, at Midland's Horseshoe Pavilion

Trent Johnson, Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - On Thursday, President Barack Obama addressed the crowd at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. with a message about how faith has enabled him to overcome countless fears in his presidency, his personal life and even in dealing with his children. Even though the circumstances highlighted were empirical to the president, the theme of fear is prevalent and even extends to Midland and West Texas ...

... Midland will follow suit with its own prayer event Tuesday in an effort to join all Christian denominations together to pray for local and national leaders. Featured speaker Bishop Michael J. Sis, of the Diocese of San Angelo, will focus his words not on fear but adversity ...

 • read the rest of this MRT report

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 22"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 22"

"The measure with which God gives the gift of visible community is varied. Christians who live dispersed from one another are comforted by a brief visit of another Christian, a prayer together, and another Christian’s blessing. Indeed, they are strengthened by letters written by the hand of other Christians. Paul’s greetings in his letters written in his own hand were no doubt tokens of such community. Others are given the gift on Sundays of the community of the worship service. Still others have the privilege of living a Christian life in the community of their families."

Biblical Wisdom

"Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia." 1 Thessalonians 4:9

Questions to Ponder

Why is Christian community so important for the life of faith?
What are the things that weaken community?
What are the things that strengthen community?

Psalm Fragment

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture ...” Psalm 100:2-3

Journal Reflections

Write about how the gift of Christian community has been a blessing to you.
What kinds of Christian communities are you a part of?
Do you have a spiritual friend, someone with whom you can speak about faith, confide in, who encourages you, guides you and, if needed, corrects you․and for whom you are the same? If so, reflect on that relationship and what it means to you. If not, could you build a friendship like that?

Prayer for Today

Lord, enable me to be a strength of my Christian communities, and faithful in my spiritual friendships.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

In the News ... "Food Bank's Souper Bowl of Caring wraps up Feb. 7"

• Grocery store customers may participate through food bag purchases, cash donations

Rich Lopez, Reporter

Midland Reporter-Telegram

ODESSA/MIDLAND, TEXAS - he West Texas Food Bank and Albertsons and Market Street Stores will have their final push this weekend for their Souper Bowl of Caring campaign. The campaign will accept both grocery and cash donations through Sunday. The Food Bank, which recently moved into new facilities in Odessa, distributes donated and purchased food through a network of more than 75 partner Agencies in 19 counties throughout West Texas with every dollar donated providing four meals for the hungry ...

 • read the rest of this MRT report


Souper Bowl of Caring is a national youth-led movement that works to spread awareness of and fight hunger in the United States with every penny collected by participants. Souper Bowl of Caring will send anyone who asks everything necessary to start a donation drive, at a time of year when most food banks are depleted from the holidays. But the best part is that you get to choose where the money goes in your local community. No money gets sent to the organization; all you do is report your total amount raised.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow. But if He knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, here once again, the difficulty comes from thinking that God is progressing along the Timeline like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today’. All the days are ‘Now’ for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow’s actions in just the same way—because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already ‘Now’ for Him.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer ... "Day 21"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 21"

"You complain that you cannot believe? No one should be surprised that they cannot come to believe so long as, in deliberate disobedience, they flee or reject some aspect of Jesus’ commandment. You do not want to subject some sinful passion, an enmity, a hope, your life plan, or your reason to Jesus’ commandment? Do not be surprised that you do not receive the Holy Spirit, that you cannot pray, that your prayer for faith remains empty! Instead, go and be reconciled with your sister or brother; let go of the sin which keeps you captive; and you will be able to believe again! If you reject God’s commanding word, you will not receive God’s gracious word. How would you expect to find community while you intentionally withdraw from it at some point? The disobedient cannot believe; only the obedient believe."

Biblical Wisdom

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say that you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." James 2:14-17

Questions to Ponder

Jesus’ commandment is that we love God who made us and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. How does obedience to this commandment nurture and nourish true faith?
Why does rejecting “God’s commanding word” keep us from receiving “God’s gracious word”?
What is it about rejecting God’s commanding word that takes us out of community?

Psalm Fragment

“Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. They grumbled in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord ...” Psalm 106:24-25

Journal Reflections

Write in your journal about a practical experience of how your obedience to Jesus’ commandment has nurtured and nourished your faith.
Write about your experiences of Christian community. Reflect on both good and bad experiences. What is the difference between them?

Intercessions

Pray for your family and spiritual friends (and for all Christians) that they would continuously experience community grounded in love.

Prayer for Today

Lord, help me to see where I am rejecting some aspect of your will for me. Help me to obey and believe, believe and obey.