Saturday, December 10, 2016

C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

In the earliest days of Christianity an ‘apostle’ was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection. Only a few days after the Crucifixion when two candidates were nominated for the vacancy created by the treachery of Judas, their qualification was that they had known Jesus personally both before and after His death and could offer first-hand evidence of the Resurrection in addressing the outer world (Acts 1:22). A few days later St Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon, makes the same claim—‘God raised Jesus, of which we all (we Christians) are witnesses’ (Acts 2:32). In the first Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul bases his claim to apostleship on the same ground—‘Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus?’ (1:9).

As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. . . . . The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ‘gospels’, the narratives of Our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. . . . . The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written.

From Miracles
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook


The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 10, 2016

MINUTE FOR MISSION: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY - Human rights are our most basic need.
Yet in every village, city, and nation across the globe
Countless numbers of people
Are denied their human rights.
How can we stand by and let this happen? ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 10

"A gift from our community of faith to you. We at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary are devoted to preparing outstanding leaders for Christ’s church. One of the ways that we nurture leaders is by building a loving community of faith and extending God’s grace to others. In this season of anticipation, we extend God’s grace to you and invite you to explore this book of Advent devotions. Through this collection, please join us as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift — the birth of Jesus Christ."

CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Saturday, December 10

2 Samuel 7:18-22

“What more can I say to you?”

David’s prayer marks a new era for his lineage, but most importantly, for the people of Israel. This prayer, loaded with humility, joy, and devout affection for God, takes us back to the crucial moment when God first announced God’s sovereign providence to humankind. The prophet Nathan had received a gracious oracle from God regarding David’s dynasty. That revelation needed to be communicated promptly to David. The Lord had declared the security of Israel and the “house” of David unconditionally and in perpetuity. Such magnificent words provided a new hope to the people of Israel. It provides a new hope for us.

The God of Abraham sustained the promise of “having descendants as numerous as the stars.” God continued to show faithfulness and kindness to God’s own beloved creation. This covenant with David became part of the larger design of salvation for humanity, for you and me. David and his lineage had been chosen as the family through which the Messiah, the Word made flesh, would come to our world. David was perplexed! There was nothing he could do to deserve such Divine gift. It was only God’s abundant grace and God’s infinite love that looked upon him with favor. Therefore, his response is quite simple: “What more can David say to you?”

What more can we say to God? The Creator of the universe has given us a sublime gift: salvation. That is our reason to celebrate, to elevate our prayers with a joyful noise! However, when words fail to express our gratitude, let us lift our hearts, our minds, and our souls by acting with reverence and awe with one another.

Everlasting God, we are grateful that you have given us the sublime gift of salvation. May our words express humility, sincerity, and truth to one another. If our words fail, lead our actions so that they may show love and respect. We humbly ask all these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Amen.

Jasiel Hernandez
MDIV Student from Kerrville, Texas



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.



This post produced with Bible Gateway reference/link 


Friday, December 9, 2016

In the News ... "A gesture not just warming heads, but also warming hearts"

KOSA Photo
• From Rig-ID Workwear, in partnership with Salvation Army

Julia Thatcher, Reporter
KOSA-TV


MIDLAND, TEXAS - Inside the halls of the Salvation Army, Linda Houghteling keeps warm inside her temporary home.

She says the hat she received from Rig-ID Workwear, is more than just warmth ...

read/watch the rest of this KOSA report 


C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

After that talk with the Lady things got worse in two different ways. In the first place the country was much harder. The road led through endless, narrow valleys down which a cruel north wind was always blowing in their faces. There was nothing that could be used for firewood, and there were no nice little hollows to camp in, as there had been on the moor. And the ground was all stony, and made your feet sore by day and every bit of you sore by night.

In the second place, whatever the Lady had intended by telling them about Harfang, the actual effect on the children was a bad one. They could think about nothing but beds and baths and hot meals and how lovely it would be to get indoors. They never talked about Aslan, or even about the lost prince, now. And Jill gave up her habit of repeating the signs over to herself every night and morning. She said to herself, at first, that she was too tired, but she soon forgot all about it. And though you might have expected that the idea of having a good time at Harfang would have made them more cheerful, it really made them more sorry for themselves and more grumpy and snappy with each other and with Puddleglum.

From The Silver Chair
Compiled in A Year with Aslan

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook


The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer.

Courtesy Photo
Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 9, 2016

SYNOD OF THE NORTHEAST - The Synod of the Northeast of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to take immediate steps to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Expressing concern about the impact of climate change on God’s creation, commissioners of the regional body say they are compelled to take action ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 9

"A gift from our community of faith to you. We at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary are devoted to preparing outstanding leaders for Christ’s church. One of the ways that we nurture leaders is by building a loving community of faith and extending God’s grace to others. In this season of anticipation, we extend God’s grace to you and invite you to explore this book of Advent devotions. Through this collection, please join us as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift — the birth of Jesus Christ."

CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Friday, December 9

Ruth 4:13-17

There are times along this long journey with Christ that I find myself impatient and struggling, instead of trusting that my journey is based in God’s time. When I struggle, I return to prayer and pray for deeper faith. I pray to be given the faith of Ruth, who is a striking example of God’s fidelity as well as God’s love. Advent helps us remember how very connected we all are, and Ruth’s story connects us to the walk of faith that we all should undertake.

Ruth was loved by God. And not only was she loved by God, but Ruth trusted that love in every part of her life. Ruth had deep faith and did not let the difficulty or many losses in her life prevent her from her walk with God. Ruth was willing to leave all that she knew and come into a new land. Her journey is one of the soul, one that encourages us to choose the harder journey if it means it will deepen our faith.

No matter what the journey, if it is one that God calls us to, we know that God is with us. God will not abandon us; God knows better than we do what it is we are meant to do. God is not only with us, but is constantly mapping our way ahead as God did with Ruth. From Ruth we can see how in her taking the journey in faith, God was pleased with her and renewed her life in ways she could have never foreseen.

God’s map for our lives is far greater than we can imagine, it is only up to us to take each step in faith, in the same way that Ruth did all of her life. Let us, as well, embrace God’s map.

God, for today, let me trust you on this journey. Let me deepen my faith through each step of my journey. Help me know you are with me on this path and your wish for me is to simply walk forth and listen to your direction. Amen.

Nettie Reynolds
MDIV Student from Austin, Texas



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.



This post produced with Bible Gateway reference/link 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

In the News ... ‘Bethlehem or Bust’ at Fort Stockton Community Theatre

FSP Photo
• Thursday-Sunday, December 8-11

Jeremy Gonzalez, Reporter
Fort Stockton Pioneer

FORT STOCKTON, TEXAS - Fort Stockton Community Theatre is excited to take part in your holiday fun with its production of “Bethlehem or Bust – How the Three Kings Teamed up to Deliver the World’s First Christmas Present” written by Jeff Lewonczyk and directed by Susann Hal ...

read the rest of this FSP report

C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

Screwtape offers a helpful image:

Think of your man as a series of concentric circles, his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy. You can hardly hope, at once, to exclude from all the circles everything that smells of the Enemy: but you must keep on shoving all the virtues outward till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy, and all the desirable qualities inward into the Will. It is only in so far as they reach the Will and are there embodied in habits that the virtues are really fatal to us. (I don’t, of course, mean what the patient mistakes for his Will, the conscious fume and fret of resolutions and clenched teeth, but the real centre, what the Enemy calls the Heart.) All sorts of virtues painted in the fantasy or approved by the intellect or even, in some measure, loved and admired, will not keep a man from Our Father’s house: indeed they may make him more amusing when he gets there.

From The Screwtape Letters
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook


The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer.

Courtesy Photo
Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 8, 2016

PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN COLORADO - For the Rev. Howard Dotson, the decision to become a chaplain and crime victims’ advocate began when two young men he was talking with were gunned down within a half hour of his meeting. The two were on a street corner raising money for a friend who had been shot and killed two days before. Dotson says the two wanted to make a stand against gun violence and honor a fallen friend before becoming victims themselves ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 8

"A gift from our community of faith to you. We at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary are devoted to preparing outstanding leaders for Christ’s church. One of the ways that we nurture leaders is by building a loving community of faith and extending God’s grace to others. In this season of anticipation, we extend God’s grace to you and invite you to explore this book of Advent devotions. Through this collection, please join us as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift — the birth of Jesus Christ."

CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Thursday, December 8

Titus 3:4-7

Cook the turkey. Host the family. Place the candles and greenery and Chrismons. Prepare the Advent and Christmas Eve liturgies. If you are like me, there might be a little part of you that thinks, “Maybe if I do all of these things just right, it will be Christmas.” And maybe that is true. The author of Titus also believes that what people do is important. The letter’s first two chapters are filled with admonitions and rules for Jesus—followers living in Roman society.

“But …” today’s scripture begins. According to the author of Titus, Christ enters into the world’s story not because of what we do or do not do, but because of God’s abundant mercy. What a relief! It’s not all up to us. It will be Christmas—no matter what. Christ is coming, even if the turkey is overcooked, or the family doesn’t get along, or the greenery falls down, or the church service doesn’t go quite right. Christ is coming even though our world is wounded, even though we hurt one another, even though God has every reason not to join this messy story. Christ is with us, always and everywhere, and because of this we have reason to believe, like the author of Titus, that “we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” We have reason to hope that through God’s merciful gift, our hurting and suffering world might become instead a world of justice and peace.

So cook the holiday meal, gather with family and friends, hang decorations, and prepare liturgies. In God’s great mercy, Christ will be in all of it, leading us to more, leading us to become a people of hope and mercy in a world of great need.

God our Savior, thank you for your gifts of mercy and grace. In every moment, help us to recognize you in our stories and in the lives of all your children. Lead us to hope, and make us bearers of hope for our world. Amen.

April Long
MDIV Student from Austin, Texas



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.



This post produced with Bible Gateway reference/link 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In the News ... "Sandi Patty, Veritas join FBC show"

Courtesy Photo
• December 16-18 at First Baptist Church of Odessa

By Bob Campbell, Reporter
Odessa American


ODESSA, TEXAS - The First Baptist Church always has a major Christmas production, but this year’s will be bigger than usual with Gospel music star Sandi Patty, the noted vocal group Veritas and a drama with more than 300 people acting out the story of Jesus Christ from Heaven to His birth in the Manger.

Admission is $10 for the one hour, 45-minute shows at 7 p.m. Dec. 16, 17 and 18, and the Rev. Curtis Brewer, pastor of worship and celebration at the First Baptist Church, 709 N. Lee Ave., said reservations should be made now because there is a lot of interest. Call 432-337-1941 or visit the church's website ...

read the rest of this OA report ...

Courtesy Photo

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,

Thank you for joining me in prayer for the children of the world. If you can, we'd love to have you pray together with us this Wednesday - TODAY -  at 11:30 a.m., in the gym conference room at First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas, followed by lunch together.

Also, Faces of Children is now on Facebook ! I invite you to like our page so that you can see regular stories, prayer needs, and updates from partner ministries.

All the best,

Carrie



Dear Intercessors,

This week, I'd like to invite you to join me in praying for a ministry sponsored by our church. 1 TO 1 is a tutoring program serving students in Midland and Lee High Schools. The Midland High program meets on Mondays from 4:00-6:30 pm at FPC. To learn more about getting involved, please contact Laurie Boldrick at laurieboldrick@me.com .

Here's an example of what happens at 1 TO 1:

Rael is a Senior at Midland High. She is from Kenya and lives here in Midland with her mom and two younger siblings. Her father is in another state working on his PhD. Her mom works two jobs to support the family, and since her mom works so much, Rael has a lot on her plate helping care for her younger two siblings and handling her school load. Tutoring has helped Rael stay on track academically. She said, "The tutors are really nice and very smart. They really motivate me to do well in school and life because I know they are successful people. I really like the environment at 1 TO 1. Even if I don't have a lot of homework on a particular day, I like to come and spend my Mondays at 1 TO 1."

But as Rael talks about what 1 TO 1 means to her and her family, it's clear the impact far exceeds helping her with her academics.

"I really hit it off on the first day with one of the volunteers, Shannon. I didn't know where to start with college applications, and Shannon got me on track and enrolled me in the SAT, and helped me submit my college applications. We found that we had some things in common as her daughter had spent some time in Kenya doing mission work. Shannon and her family have become close to our family over the last two months. As a way to show appreciation, my mother cooked a full traditional African meal and had Shannon and her family over for dinner. Shannon has enrolled my younger sibling in YMCA volleyball and takes her to her practices and games since my mother works so much."

Will you pray for students like Rael who are juggling so much more than chemistry and algebra? Will you pray for God to raise up more tutors like Shannon who step through the open door that tutoring opens into the lives of students, becoming more deeply engaged in mentoring, loving, and supporting families? Will you pray about volunteering with 1 TO 1 next semester if you live in Midland, or consider exploring local options in your area?

Praying with you,

Carrie

FOC Photo
With Christmas quickly approaching, Communities in Schools (our partners in 1 TO 1 Focused Learning) provides us with unique opportunities to not only pray for students, but also reach out to them and meet their holiday needs and wishes.

Mike Mills, the director of Communities in Schools, knows many students well, and so he sees some of their hidden struggles more clearly than we see from the outside. Christmas provides us with the perfect opportunity to bless students and remind them they are seen, known, and loved by God. If you'd like to get involved, please contact Mike Mills at (432) 413-3651 or mikemills@midlandisd.net .

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

C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On Lewis’s own rule for assisting pan- handlers; and on the suffering and eternal destiny of animals.

26 October 1962

I do most thoroughly agree with your father’s principles about alms. It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been ‘had for a sucker’ by any number of impostors: but it would be a torment to know that one had refused even one person in need. After all, the parable of the sheep and goats24 makes our duty perfectly plain, doesn’t it? Another thing that annoys me is when people say ‘Why did you give that man money? He’ll probably go and drink it.’ My reply is ‘But if I’d kept [it] I should probably have drunk it.’ . . .

I am sorry to hear of the little dog’s death. The animal creation is a strange mystery. We can make some attempt to understand human suffering: but the sufferings of animals from the beginning of the world till now (inflicted not only by us but by one another)—what is one to think? And again, how strange that God brings us into such intimate relations with creatures of whose real purpose and destiny we remain forever ignorant. We know to some degree what angels and men are for. But what is a flea for, or a wild dog?

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis
Compiled in Yours, Jack

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook


The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer.

Courtesy Photo
Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 7, 2016

PRESBYTERIAN OLDER ADULT MINISTRIES NETWORK - There was at least one elephant in the room at Chris Pomfret’s workshop at the 2016 ARMSS/POAMN conference.

But an elephant could scarcely have fit into the packed meeting space, which nearly exceeded the room’s seating capacity with conference-goers eager to engage the workshop’s theme, “Making Our Third Thirty a Great Thirty: How to Make the Difficult Decisions.”

The elephant in the room—later named by one workshop participant as the fear of contracting Alzheimer’s disease or dementia—was voiced as part of an interactive discussion led by Pomfret on what adults fear the most as they get older, and, related to that, what can be done to allay those fears ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 7

"A gift from our community of faith to you. We at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary are devoted to preparing outstanding leaders for Christ’s church. One of the ways that we nurture leaders is by building a loving community of faith and extending God’s grace to others. In this season of anticipation, we extend God’s grace to you and invite you to explore this book of Advent devotions. Through this collection, please join us as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift — the birth of Jesus Christ."

CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Wednesday, December 7

Romans 15:4-13

One of my students in my previous teaching post served a Hausa tribe church in Nigeria even though he was an Ibo. He said that sometimes his ministry was rejected. The challenge of diversity was extreme: in his small town more than thirty-two languages were represented.

Today we are reading Romans in the context of the Advent season, and we find the ethnic diversity of the ancient world no less complex. Paul lived in a time when the unity of the Christian church was in question. In the Roman church, it seems that some of the Gentiles had a hard time seeing the particular roles that the Jews continued to play in God’s plan. As a response, Paul calls them to welcome one another.

The diversity of our own times is part of the gift of the gospel. The Advent season calls together people from across the social spectrum. Kings and shepherds, wise men who emigrated from another country to see Jesus, all gather to glorify Jesus. Of course, it’s difficult to recognize those we disagree with or those from whom we think we are quite different.

Paul suggests in verse six that we are meant to glorify God in one voice, and for some reason I picture this happening through singing. Gathered for a midnight Christmas service, many of us light candles and sing hymns against the cold. When we sing, our voices don’t exactly blend, but they belong together. We sing in shared space rather than in territory we have to defend.

The fulfillment of Christian life only comes as we recognize the diversity of God’s plan—God using Jews and Gentiles despite what we thought possible. Let us open our eyes to those around us whom we are called to build up, until we realize that we were meant to be together in the life of Christ. Like my Nigerian student, this may mean difficult seasons in church life within communities where it can be hard to recognize each others’ gifts. Advent is a season of expecting God might still be at work despite the paucity of the results we see around us.

God, we confess that we sometimes defend our territory rather than welcome one another. Help us to love you by recognizing your gifts in one another even in the midst of challenges in church life. Amen.

Phil Browning Helsel
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.



This post produced with Bible Gateway reference/link 


Tuesday, December 6, 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,

Thank you for joining me in prayer for the children of the world. If you can, we'd love to have you pray together with us this Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., in the gym conference room at First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas, followed by lunch together.

Also, Faces of Children is now on Facebook ! I invite you to like our page so that you can see regular stories, prayer needs, and updates from partner ministries.

All the best,

Carrie



Dear Intercessors,

This week, I'd like to invite you to join me in praying for a ministry sponsored by our church. 1 TO 1 is a tutoring program serving students in Midland and Lee High Schools. The Midland High program meets on Mondays from 4:00-6:30 pm at FPC. To learn more about getting involved, please contact Laurie Boldrick at laurieboldrick@me.com .

Here's an example of what happens at 1 TO 1:

Rael is a Senior at Midland High. She is from Kenya and lives here in Midland with her mom and two younger siblings. Her father is in another state working on his PhD. Her mom works two jobs to support the family, and since her mom works so much, Rael has a lot on her plate helping care for her younger two siblings and handling her school load. Tutoring has helped Rael stay on track academically. She said, "The tutors are really nice and very smart. They really motivate me to do well in school and life because I know they are successful people. I really like the environment at 1 TO 1. Even if I don't have a lot of homework on a particular day, I like to come and spend my Mondays at 1 TO 1."

But as Rael talks about what 1 TO 1 means to her and her family, it's clear the impact far exceeds helping her with her academics.

"I really hit it off on the first day with one of the volunteers, Shannon. I didn't know where to start with college applications, and Shannon got me on track and enrolled me in the SAT, and helped me submit my college applications. We found that we had some things in common as her daughter had spent some time in Kenya doing mission work. Shannon and her family have become close to our family over the last two months. As a way to show appreciation, my mother cooked a full traditional African meal and had Shannon and her family over for dinner. Shannon has enrolled my younger sibling in YMCA volleyball and takes her to her practices and games since my mother works so much."

Will you pray for students like Rael who are juggling so much more than chemistry and algebra? Will you pray for God to raise up more tutors like Shannon who step through the open door that tutoring opens into the lives of students, becoming more deeply engaged in mentoring, loving, and supporting families? Will you pray about volunteering with 1 TO 1 next semester if you live in Midland, or consider exploring local options in your area?

Praying with you,

Carrie

FOC Photo
With Christmas quickly approaching, Communities in Schools (our partners in 1 TO 1 Focused Learning) provides us with unique opportunities to not only pray for students, but also reach out to them and meet their holiday needs and wishes.

Mike Mills, the director of Communities in Schools, knows many students well, and so he sees some of their hidden struggles more clearly than we see from the outside. Christmas provides us with the perfect opportunity to bless students and remind them they are seen, known, and loved by God. If you'd like to get involved, please contact Mike Mills at (432) 413-3651 or mikemills@midlandisd.net .

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

In the News ... "Salvation Army seeks bell ringers"

OA Photo by Mark Sterkel
• Volunteers wanted to help for charity’s most important fundraiser

By Corey Paul, Reporter
Odessa American

ODESSA, TEXAS - Salvation Army officials seek volunteer bell ringers for the Christmas season to help with the organization’s largest fundraiser a year after falling short of their goal.

The annual Red Kettle Fundraiser helps the charity cover overhead costs and donate money and food to people who need it. The goal this year remains $100,000, the same as it’s been for several years. Last year, the group only raised about $85,000 ...

read the rest of this OA report ...

C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, [Uncle Andrew] had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (“only a lion,” as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing—only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. “Of course it can’t really have been singing,” he thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautifully the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he had wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, “Narnia, awake,” he didn’t hear any words: he heard only a snarl. And when the Beasts spoke in answer, he heard only barkings, growlings, baying, and howlings.

From The Magician's Nephew
Compiled in A Year with Aslan

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook


The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer.

Photo by Emily Odom
Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 6, 2016

PRESBYTERY OF THE JAMES, VIRGINIA - Over two mornings at the 2016 ARMSS/POAMN conference—a national event jointly sponsored by the Association of Retired Ministers, Their Spouses or Survivors and the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network — the Rev. Dr. John T. Carroll shared his wisdom in a comprehensive, two-part keynote address with broad implications for his audience of pastors, educators, and others engaged in ministry with older adults ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 6

"A gift from our community of faith to you. We at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary are devoted to preparing outstanding leaders for Christ’s church. One of the ways that we nurture leaders is by building a loving community of faith and extending God’s grace to others. In this season of anticipation, we extend God’s grace to you and invite you to explore this book of Advent devotions. Through this collection, please join us as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift — the birth of Jesus Christ."

CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Tuesday, December 6

Isaiah 11:1-10

Isaiah writes in a time when political leadership has failed. A succession of disappointing rulers has failed to deliver the social justice and peace of God’s promise. But Isaiah doesn’t despair, rather he gives us a vision of a world that doesn’t merely settle for the least bad option.

This vision reveals God’s radical plan for the world— where the status quo is turned upside down and inside out. We may think that the world is full of unchangeable binaries: a world locked into endless competition for survival, full of rivals and enemies, predator and prey. But in God’s plan such divisions are reconciled in a peaceful unity. This hard-toimagine feat is led not by a great warrior with huge armies or billions of dollars, but by a child—the symbol of the meek and powerless.

We hear this passage in our Advent season proclaiming again that the world is about to turn. In the bleakest of times we dare to hope. When we feel caught in systems of oppression and start to despair that there will ever be change, we can claim these visions that seem impossible. For ourselves and the world, we practice Hope. Hope that defies the things that have tried to cut down our faith in a just and righteous God. Hope that emerges like the defiant shoot from that stump—a new beginning out of the wreckage of violence. Hope that defies death with new life and sees in it the promise of the olive branch of peace.

This is the hope and the promise we proclaim in Christ Jesus: God incarnate in a little child, who will usher in a reign of peace so radical that it defies even our most fundamental beliefs about what is possible.

O Lord, we long for a world that is filled with your righteousness and peace. In the times when we despair, help us to remember the hope you give us in Christ. Amen.

Jenny Sapersteing
MDIV Student from Greely, Colorado



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.



This post produced with Bible Gateway reference/link 


Monday, December 5, 2016

Invitation to Prayer from Faces of Children ... Wednesday

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, Wednesday

Hi Friends,

Thank you for joining me in prayer for the children of the world. If you can, we'd love to have you pray together with us this Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., in the gym conference room at First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas, followed by lunch together.

Also, Faces of Children is now on Facebook ! I invite you to like our page so that you can see regular stories, prayer needs, and updates from partner ministries.

All the best,

Carrie



Dear Intercessors,

This week, I'd like to invite you to join me in praying for a ministry sponsored by our church. 1 TO 1 is a tutoring program serving students in Midland and Lee High Schools. The Midland High program meets on Mondays from 4:00-6:30 pm at FPC. To learn more about getting involved, please contact Laurie Boldrick at laurieboldrick@me.com .

Here's an example of what happens at 1 TO 1:

Rael is a Senior at Midland High. She is from Kenya and lives here in Midland with her mom and two younger siblings. Her father is in another state working on his PhD. Her mom works two jobs to support the family, and since her mom works so much, Rael has a lot on her plate helping care for her younger two siblings and handling her school load. Tutoring has helped Rael stay on track academically. She said, "The tutors are really nice and very smart. They really motivate me to do well in school and life because I know they are successful people. I really like the environment at 1 TO 1. Even if I don't have a lot of homework on a particular day, I like to come and spend my Mondays at 1 TO 1."

But as Rael talks about what 1 TO 1 means to her and her family, it's clear the impact far exceeds helping her with her academics.

"I really hit it off on the first day with one of the volunteers, Shannon. I didn't know where to start with college applications, and Shannon got me on track and enrolled me in the SAT, and helped me submit my college applications. We found that we had some things in common as her daughter had spent some time in Kenya doing mission work. Shannon and her family have become close to our family over the last two months. As a way to show appreciation, my mother cooked a full traditional African meal and had Shannon and her family over for dinner. Shannon has enrolled my younger sibling in YMCA volleyball and takes her to her practices and games since my mother works so much."

Will you pray for students like Rael who are juggling so much more than chemistry and algebra? Will you pray for God to raise up more tutors like Shannon who step through the open door that tutoring opens into the lives of students, becoming more deeply engaged in mentoring, loving, and supporting families? Will you pray about volunteering with 1 TO 1 next semester if you live in Midland, or consider exploring local options in your area?

Praying with you,

Carrie

FOC Photo
With Christmas quickly approaching, Communities in Schools (our partners in 1 TO 1 Focused Learning) provides us with unique opportunities to not only pray for students, but also reach out to them and meet their holiday needs and wishes.

Mike Mills, the director of Communities in Schools, knows many students well, and so he sees some of their hidden struggles more clearly than we see from the outside. Christmas provides us with the perfect opportunity to bless students and remind them they are seen, known, and loved by God. If you'd like to get involved, please contact Mike Mills at (432) 413-3651 or mikemills@midlandisd.net .

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

In the News ... "#PrayforIraan -- Community of Iraan moves forward together"

KOSA Photo
• Football team will honor Liz Pope's memory at this Friday’s game family

By Stephanie Bennett, Reporter
KOSA-TV


IRAAN, TEXAS - Our crews were in Iraan today, speaking with friends of Liz Pope’s, and learning what the Braves are doing to honor her.

“The few, the proud, the braves” – that’s the motto not only the school but the whole town lives by ...

read the rest of this KOSA report 


C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

On Freedom (and Predestination)

Witness the doctrine of Predestination which shows (truly enough) that eternal reality is not waiting for a future in which to be real; but at the price of removing Freedom which is the deeper truth of the two.

From The Great Divorce
Compiled in Words to Live By

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook


The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer.

Courtesy Photo
Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 5, 2016

MONMOUTH PRESBYTERY, NEW JERSEY - each fall for five years Westminster Presbyterian Church in Middletown, New Jersey, has assembled a memorable display on its Great Lawn. Beginning in 2012, the church’s Field of Flags has displayed one American flag for every service member killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. In 2015 the number was 6,841. When the congregation put out flags on Saturday, October 15, this year, the number of service persons killed had grown to 6,860 ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 5

"A gift from our community of faith to you. We at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary are devoted to preparing outstanding leaders for Christ’s church. One of the ways that we nurture leaders is by building a loving community of faith and extending God’s grace to others. In this season of anticipation, we extend God’s grace to you and invite you to explore this book of Advent devotions. Through this collection, please join us as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift — the birth of Jesus Christ."

CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Monnday, December 5

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. It is a prayer for justice as God sees it, not as the sovereign sees it. James Montgomery’s hymn, “All Hail to God’s Anointed,” imagines Jesus as the psalm’s focus:

All hail to God’s anointed, great David’s greater Son! All hail in time appointed, your reign on earth begun.

But the psalm’s prayer for an earthly ruler is potent in these days. What if king were president? At this writing, on this side of the election, it is a “not yet” prayer. This devotion book will be in our hands, however, on the “already” side: the leader, the prayer unchanged.

You shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth; and love, joy, hope, like flowers, spring in your path to birth.

Advent is a tension of already and not yet—what is glimpsed and what is awaited. The second line above points us to the tension. The path before us does not always seem to bloom but to choke. The despairingly recurrent deception, clutter, aggression, and waste that clog our screens and our souls. Who will be our refuge and strength? The psalm may extol the king in many ways, but it places trust in the work of God alone. The already-not yet is captured in a shorter song lyric—this refrain from an African American spiritual:

Done made my vow to the Lord and I won’t turn back: I will go, I shall go, to see what the end will be.

The vow is made “to the Lord,” not to one another. It is God’s vision of justice and righteousness that sustains when our own vision, our own seemingly clear agendas, our own human strength fail, as they inevitably will.

To you shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend. Your rule is still increasing; your rule is without end.

The psalm ends, as it begins, with its sights set firmly on God’s work: “Blessed be the Lord … who alone does wondrous things.” That vision becomes almost ecstatic at the psalm’s conclusion: “Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth.” Montgomery’s hymn, in one deft line of poetry, captures this: your [already established] rule is [because not yet fully accomplished] still increasing. What is our part in that increasing? To whom is our vow made?

Gracious God, to you alone belong all glory and power. Set our sights and watchfulness on you. May our trust be in you alone, so that our prayers and actions will point to you, our strength and redeemer. Amen.

Eric Wall
Assistant Professor of Sacred Music



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.



This post produced with Bible Gateway reference/link 


Sunday, December 4, 2016

In the News ... "Empty Stocking Fund helps families have a Christmas"

• Odessa families will be helped by your contributions to the Empty Stocking Fund

Staff Report
Odessa American


ODESSA, TEXAS - An Odessa woman brought in 2016’s first Empty Stocking Fund donation this year — in honor of two deceased family members.

The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said she has donated all 22 years of the Fund’s existence ...

read the rest of this OA report ...

C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

Presented by Bible Gateway
Today's Reading

When we are praying about the result, say, of a battle or a medical consultation the thought will often cross our minds that (if only we knew it) the event is already decided one way or the other. I believe this to be no good reason for ceasing our prayers. The event certainly has been decided—in a sense it was decided ‘before all worlds’. But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering. Thus, shocking as it may sound, I conclude that we can at noon become part causes of an event occurring at ten a.m. (Some scientists would find this easier than popular thought does.) The imagination will, no doubt, try to play all sorts of tricks on us at this point. It will ask, ‘Then if I stop praying can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes has been the fact that you are asking such questions instead of praying. It will ask, ‘Then if I begin to pray can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes is your present prayer. Thus something does really depend on my choice. My free act contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or ‘before all worlds’; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series.

From Niracles
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook


The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 4, 2016

MINUTE FOR MISSION: AUBURN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY - In 2015, Auburn Seminary launched a signature educational initiative: The Auburn Senior Fellows program, gathering some of the most passionate and talented faith leaders working for justice in the United States today. The inaugural group includes people who live out their faith and work as a pastor, a rabbi, a theologian, an activist, a bishop, a nun, an organizer. It includes people from the breadth of Christianity (Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical), and from the Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh traditions. They are Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers ...

CLICK HERE to read more.