Thursday, December 18, 2014

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 18

"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 18

2 Samuel 6:1-11

One can hardly keep from recoiling in horror at this story. After all, Uzzah was just doing what any of us would have done, if we’d seen the Christ candle wobbling in its stand, or the memorial flower vase edging its way off the table. He reached out to steady the Ark, the vessel that bore the Commandments, the base atop which sat the Mercy Seat. The sacred symbol of God’s presence with Israel had only recently been recovered from its Philistine captivity. It wouldn’t do to have Israel’s God tumbled over in Israel’s dirt, would it? What sort of God strikes God’s helpers dead? No wonder David hesitated to bring the Ark home.

The temptation of this tale is to think of what Uzzah did, rather than the reason he did it. I suspect that Uzzah was confusing the Ark with the God whose presence the Ark symbolized. Somehow, I can’t help wondering if, in a cognitive flash faster than light itself, Uzzah didn’t see the wobbling Ark and conclude that his God—and not just a symbol of God—was about to fall, and that his intervention was needed to avert a divine catastrophe. I wonder if Uzzah thought, perhaps without really thinking it, that God needed his help.

One of the great heresies affecting the church is the domestication of God, the idea that God’s purposes can’t be accomplished without human agency. “God has no hands but our hands,” we teach our children. We mean well. But God is not safely brought under our roof. God’s kingdom is coming, God’s purposes are working themselves out, God’s will is in process, whether we offer our assistance or not. God never needs our aid. Rather, God invites our participation. Among the lessons of Advent is that God does not need our help to draw God’s creation to its consummation. Among the lessons of the Incarnation is that, in Christ, we are invited to be heralds of the hope for that consummation.

Out-breaking, unconfined God, remind us that your reign drives inexorably forward toward its day of fulfillment, and that we are invited along for the ride. Amen.

Paul Hooker
Associate Dean for Ministerial Formation & Advanced Studies



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 17, 2014

In the News ... "Oxy Donates About 400 Pairs of Shoes to Salvation Army for Kids for Christmas"

KOSA Photo
• Kids will enjoy their new shoes this Christmas

Staff report
KOSA-TV


ODESSA, TEXAS -Occidental Petroleum Corporation, or Oxy Permian, donated about 400 pairs of brand new shoes to the Odessa Salvation Army on Wednesday.

The shoe sizes and styles range from infant to teenager ...

read the rest of this KOSA report ... 


"Come to the Quiet" ... Tonight

If you want a break from the frantic, noisy hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season, won't you join us for "Come to the Quiet?" It takes place every Wednesday - from 12/03/2014 to 12/17/2013 - in the Parlor of 1st Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Texas Avenue, on the northwest corner of N. A Street and Texas Avenue, on the west side of downtown Midland.

We gather in the Parlor each Wednesday evening during the season of Advent, from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., for contemplative worship ... Scripture, song, and prayer.

For more information about "Come to the Quiet," please contact contact:Mary Beth Anton, Associate Pastor
(432) 684-7821
marybeth@fpcmid.org

For those with young children, free nursery service is available from 6:00-7:45 p.m.

For more information about "Come to the Quiet" Nursery Service, please contact:
Taresa Kellogg
432) 599-4534
nursery@fpcmid.org


SPECIAL NOTE: We are gathering in the Parlor this year, rather than the Chapel which is in the midst of major renovations.

In the News ... "Kind Hearted Residents Give Haircuts, Job Resources and Necessities to the Homeless"

KWES Photo
• Every first Monday of the month

Alicia Neaves, Reporter

KWES-TV

ODESSA, TEXAS - Many who head to the Basin for work often come with nothing, some are left to sleep on the streets.

Once a month, three local charities join forces to help the homeless get back on their feet.

Whether it's finding a job, getting social security or even a free haircut, three local entities join forces once a month to help those in need get back on their feet ...

 • read/watch the rest of this KWES report ...


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. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 17, 2014


PRESBYTERY OF SAN JUAN - In 2010 the San Juan Presbytery responded to the challenge of developing new mission programs. As a result, a committee was appointed to develop a plan of evangelism in the eastern side of Puerto Rico.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit and supported by the prayer of committed brothers and sisters, the presbytery began the mission project in the town of Rio Grande ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.


The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook now available ... 

 The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the compassionate and prophetic disciples among us. They proclaim God’s justice — extending God’s reign each and every day through their lives and work. Their stories will inspire and encourage you. Engage in ministry alongside them by praying through the Mission Yearbook each day.

Order your copy from the Church Store ...

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 17

"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 17

Mark 9:9-13

In this Advent text, Jesus is coming down the mountain following the Transfiguration accompanied by Peter, James, and John. Jesus orders these disciples to tell no one what they have seen. They obey, but they also question what Jesus means about rising from the dead. Throughout Mark’s gospel, but also in Matthew and Luke, Jesus repeatedly tells his followers not to tell others that He is the Messiah.

In first-century Palestine, the people expected the Messiah in the form of a victorious political leader who would rebuild the temple and would reign in an era of peace and freedom. They would not have understood that the Messiah could “go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt.” Nor would they have understood his death on a Roman cross. Jesus knew that it was only after his death, burial, and resurrection that his followers and the rest of us who would come after them would understand the true meaning of Messiah, the true meaning that we have come to know in our hearts means Savior. It is the cross and the resurrection that define this victorious Jesus the Messiah.

We live on the other side of the resurrection. We are a resurrection people. We know of the suffering and contempt Jesus experienced. We may never fully appreciate the depth of his suffering and the high cost of the cross. But, we can renew our appreciation of the resurrection. We must never forget what came before the resurrection. But, as resurrection people, we should live in the confidence we have that morning came after the long dark night.

During this Advent season when our focus is on the coming birth of the Messiah, we should also focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus as a defining moment of his Messiahship. Unlike Peter, James, and John, we need not ask “what this rising from the dead could mean.” Rather, we should ask what the reality of the resurrection means and what difference it makes in our lives today.

Gracious God, as we await the birth of the Messiah, we do so with the reality of his coming death but in the certainty of accomplished resurrection. Renew in us the spirit of a resurrection people, walking in the light of the Messiah’s triumph over sin and death. Amen

Kevin Henderson
Middler MDiv Student



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 16, 2014

In the News ... "Operation Elf Gives Presents to Kids"

KMID Photo
• Children didn't forget the real meaning of Christmas

Nick Russo, Reporter
KMID-TV


MIDLAND, TEXAS - Operation Elf was in full swing Wednesday night. The Centers for Children and Families in Midland gave kids in need a chance to pick out their favorite toy.

"Many of the children we work with come from hard places," said Ann Bradford, Executive Director at Centers for Children and Families in Midland ...

read/watch the rest of this KMID report


Invitation to Prayer: 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).

Jesus’ Weakness Invites Us into God’s Intimacy


But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious ... abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

“We keep praying to the ‘almighty and powerful God.’ But all might and power is absent from Jesus, the one who reveals God to us, saying ‘When you see me you see the Creator.’ If we truly want to love God, we look at the man of Nazareth, whose life was wrapped in weakness. And his weakness opens for us the way to the heart of God.

People with power do not invite intimacy. We fear, we look up to, we envy people with power. God’s power is something entirely different. God does not want us to be afraid, distant, or envious. God wants to come close, very close, so close that we can rest in the intimacy of God as children in their mother’s arms.”

Jesus, forgive us when we try to solve all our problems by mindless exercise of power rather than following your example of gentle love.”

Living in Hope: Advent Meditations from the writings of Henri Nouwen by James E. Adams


A message from Chris Laufer, Coordinator, Faces of Children

Greetings, Faces of Children Intercessor,

The Midland Faces of Children prayer group will meet on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center conference room at First Presbyterian Church-Midland, Afterwards, we'll share lunch ($5) and fellowship.


I hope you are able to join us as we pray for the children of our local and global communities.

Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer for the littlest citizens of God’s Kingdom! If you have prayer concerns or celebrations 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 me at at claufer@facesofchildren.net, or give me a call.

Advent blessings,

Chris

In the News ... "Odessa Missionary Discusses New Changes to Texas Prison System"

KOSA Photo
• Hope for positive impact on inmates, families

Caitlin Crawford, Reporter
KOSA-TV


ODESSA, TEXAS - The Texas Prison System [Texas Department of Criminal Justice] is attempting to make it easier to visit loved ones behind bars.

CBS 7 sat down with a missionary dedicated to the support and restoration of prisoners and their families, to find out what changes have been made in recent months.

Leland Maples, a founder of Loved Ones of Prisoners, has been serving through this ministry for over 25 years in West Texas. He said he's seen drastic changes in the way that the Texas Prison Systems accommodate families who travel to see their loved ones ...

read the rest of this KOSA report ... 


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. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 16, 2014


PRESBYTERY OF THE NORTHWEST - The Northwest Presbytery runs two organizations, one for women and another for youth. The youth organization plans retreats, camping events, and concerts. In July 2013, seven youth from four congregations attended Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University with the support of the presbytery.

The presbytery has a youth musical group called Apaxionados, which ministers in churches and housing projects as well as through community activities, concerts, and retreats ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.


The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook now available ... 

 The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the compassionate and prophetic disciples among us. They proclaim God’s justice — extending God’s reign each and every day through their lives and work. Their stories will inspire and encourage you. Engage in ministry alongside them by praying through the Mission Yearbook each day.

Order your copy from the Church Store ...

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 16

"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 16

Psalm 125

A teenage girl, not much older than a child, really, is walking on the side of the highway. Not only is she young, but she is very pregnant. Her baby could come at any time, even before she gets to the next town. How dangerous! Her fiancé walks beside her, taking care of her as best he can. The couple is from Nazareth, and they are heading to Bethlehem, which is about as far as from San Antonio to Austin. Why are they out here on the side of the road? Well, Caesar is wont to lay tax on Israel, but to do so he must count the people. And so we find this young expectant mother out here on the side of the highway, groaning with the burden that calls the House of David home.

When she arrives in Bethlehem she will have no doctor, no health insurance, nor even a bed to lie in. Yet above her many worries she will lift her voice to sing. The Lord has promised to be with her, and the Lord abides within her. The proud will be scattered in the thoughts of their hearts, and the mighty will fall from their thrones, but the Lord lifts up the lowly. They who look to the Lord for deliverance will be delivered a baby, a little child to lead them. Our anxiety will be wrapped up in his cries and will find silence in a rapt and tender gaze and the warmth of loving arms. Comfort, O comfort my people! This child is our protection. More than walls or swords or ships or standing armies, this child will keep the gate against those who wish us harm. Can you believe it? Could it be? Zion draws near as our faith peeks over the horizon, and the very mountains gather ’round in loving embrace to keep us through the night.

May the scepter of wickedness and the temptation to despair depart from your people, O Lord. May your blessings flourish in the light of your Son, in whom the hope of righteousness and restoration cannot be moved, but abides forever.

John Harrison
Senior MDiv Student



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 15, 2014

In the News ... "Teddy Bears Bring Comfort For Grieving Children"

KMID Photo
• Bringing children joy while they learn the Christmas spirit of giving

Lauren Tropea, Reporter
KMID-TV


MIDLAND, TEXAS - One local organization turns to you for teddy bears this holiday season. They hope to reach their goal of a thousand bears before the new year.

It looks like a window display from FAO Schwarz. Fur ready to warm the heart of a lucky child.

"This is our 12th annual Teddy Bear Drive for Rays of Hope," said Rays of Hope Director Kelsee Jones.

Rays of Hope collects bears for trust week, a time where they help children cope with a loss or a difficult change ...

read/watch the rest of this KMID report


Invitation to Prayer: 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).

Jesus’ Weakness Invites Us into God’s Intimacy


But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious ... abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

“We keep praying to the ‘almighty and powerful God.’ But all might and power is absent from Jesus, the one who reveals God to us, saying ‘When you see me you see the Creator.’ If we truly want to love God, we look at the man of Nazareth, whose life was wrapped in weakness. And his weakness opens for us the way to the heart of God.

People with power do not invite intimacy. We fear, we look up to, we envy people with power. God’s power is something entirely different. God does not want us to be afraid, distant, or envious. God wants to come close, very close, so close that we can rest in the intimacy of God as children in their mother’s arms.”

Jesus, forgive us when we try to solve all our problems by mindless exercise of power rather than following your example of gentle love.”

Living in Hope: Advent Meditations from the writings of Henri Nouwen by James E. Adams


A message from Chris Laufer, Coordinator, Faces of Children

Greetings, Faces of Children Intercessor,

The Midland Faces of Children prayer group will meet on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center conference room at First Presbyterian Church-Midland, Afterwards, we'll share lunch ($5) and fellowship.


I hope you are able to join us as we pray for the children of our local and global communities.

Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer for the littlest citizens of God’s Kingdom! If you have prayer concerns or celebrations 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 me at at claufer@facesofchildren.net, or give me a call.

Advent blessings,

Chris

In the News ... "Stonegate moves Christmas services for more community accessiblilty"

MRT Photo by Tim Fischer
• Activities surrounding services for community at-large

By Steve Kuhlman, Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - Stonegate Fellowship Church is changing its celebration this year by offering Christmas worship services the weekend before the holiday instead of on Christmas Eve. The services will be accompanied by the church’s annual weekend of community-wide fun featuring hayrides, Christmas movies, popcorn and hot chocolate.

“On (Christmas Eve), it really felt more like a closed church environment, like (the celebration) was only for members of Stonegate Fellowship,” said Jake Russo, director of media relations at Stonegate. “We only advertised in-house and the tickets were only available in-house. Here, it will be community outreach on all three nights.”

For those worried about missing out on the Christmas Eve worship service they are used to, Russo noted the services will be in the “same style” as those traditionally held Dec. 24 ...


read the rest of this MRT report

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. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 15, 2014


SYNOD OF PUERTO RICO - In 2013 the Synod Boriquén in Puerto Rico celebrated its 40th year of service. This celebration included extended reflection about how to continue to do the work of our Lord in the future.

One bright spot is the work of young adults in the synod ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.


The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook now available ... 

 The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the compassionate and prophetic disciples among us. They proclaim God’s justice — extending God’s reign each and every day through their lives and work. Their stories will inspire and encourage you. Engage in ministry alongside them by praying through the Mission Yearbook each day.

Order your copy from the Church Store ...

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 15

"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 Monday, December 15

1 Kings 19:1-18

It is easy to get discouraged and cynical—to let the small things shake us. First Kings 19:1-18 tells of such a moment. The great prophet Elijah, immediately after his triumph over the priests of Baal at Mt. Carmel, flees to the wilderness after being threatened by Jezebel. Elijah, who just moments before had witnessed the overwhelming, potent power of God on Mt. Carmel, cowers and runs when faced with a threat from a defiant queen! And yet the story turns this moment of Elijah’s failure into a poignant lesson about the faithful, perpetual presence of God. God does not scold Elijah for being weary or for being disappointed or even for running away. Rather, God strengthens Elijah with food and water, even sending an angel to wake Elijah so that he can eat. God takes care of Elijah. He soothes his servant, and tells him he understands his weariness. God acknowledges that Elijah’s journey is indeed too much for him.

We have all felt like Elijah at some point in our lives. Like the prophet, we have all cried aloud or thought silently to ourselves: “I have had enough, Lord …” This passage reminds us that God understands such moments of weariness. More importantly, it tells us that God is present in such moments. It is in these points of disappointment, this passage reminds us, that the nature of God is revealed. God is found not in the moments of triumph or power or loud victory. Rather, 1 Kings 19 tells us that God’s true presence and faithfulness is elucidated and found in the silences, pauses, and sighs that occur during a period of disappointment and tiredness.

Strengthen us when we are weary. Remind us of your faithful presence, and let us look for you and hear you in the still silence. Amen.

Song (Suzie) Park
Assistant Professor of Old Testament



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 14, 2014

"Come to the Quiet" this Wednesday

If you want a break from the frantic, noisy hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season, won't you join us for "Come to the Quiet?" It takes place every Wednesday - from 12/03/2014 to 12/17/2013 - in the Parlor of 1st Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Texas Avenue, on the northwest corner of N. A Street and Texas Avenue, on the west side of downtown Midland.

We gather in the Parlor each Wednesday evening during the season of Advent, from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., for contemplative worship ... Scripture, song, and prayer.

For more information about "Come to the Quiet," please contact contact:Mary Beth Anton, Associate Pastor
(432) 684-7821
marybeth@fpcmid.org

For those with young children, free nursery service is available from 6:00-7:45 p.m.

For more information about "Come to the Quiet" Nursery Service, please contact:
Taresa Kellogg
432) 599-4534
nursery@fpcmid.org


SPECIAL NOTE: We are gathering in the Parlor this year, rather than the Chapel which is in the midst of major renovations.

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. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 14, 2014


MINUTE FOR MISSION: COLUMBIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY - “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:46b–50)

Joy is not free of challenges; yet it is responsive to the promise of something more. Mary’s song hardly reflects the fears and heartaches she would later face on the road to Bethlehem, during the escape to Egypt, and at the foot of the cross in Jerusalem. However, the gift she carried was so much bigger than that. ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.


The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook now available ... 

 The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the compassionate and prophetic disciples among us. They proclaim God’s justice — extending God’s reign each and every day through their lives and work. Their stories will inspire and encourage you. Engage in ministry alongside them by praying through the Mission Yearbook each day.

Order your copy from the Church Store ...

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 14

"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 Sunday, December 14

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Paul encourages us in these times to remember the continuing call of Jesus. These days are not only the days of expecting the celebrated arrival of the baby Jesus but also the time of waiting for Jesus’ return. What exactly are we to be doing in these days? What is Jesus continually calling us to do?

In this meanwhile, we are to 1) Rejoice always. 2) Pray without ceasing. 3) Give thanks in all circumstances (for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you). 4) We are not to quench or put out the flames of the Spirit but rather to fan the flames of the Spirit. 5) We are not to despise the words of the prophets but to treasure the words of prophets. 6) Test everything. 7) Hold fast to what is good. 8) Abstain from every evil.

Rejoicing seems easy, for the most part, during Advent and at Christmas with Jesus in the manger and all things right with life. The list becomes more challenging on other days when life bears down upon us and we realize that we are to be thankful even though we do not feel like it. It is daunting when life threatens; we question, and we sharply react by attempting to extinguish the Spirit’s fire. We forget the Word, forget to test, lean away from good. When we are frightened, unsure, or lost, it is right to pray without ceasing. When bad days greet us, we are exhorted to rejoice. Rejoice? Rejoice! When we do not like what is before us, we are to give thanks, clinging to Scripture and testing against it. We are to keep doing good; abstaining from evil; praising God.

The text includes a blessing. May the God of peace sanctify you entirely. May your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look! He is descending from heaven and is in the clouds!

What are we to do while expecting Christ’s return? 1) Rejoice always. 2) Pray without ceasing. 3) Give thanks ...

God of Peace, help us.

Courtney Hill Root
Middler MDiv Student



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 


Saturday, December 13, 2014

In the News ... "West Texas Catholics Celebrate Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe"

KOSA Photo
• Also known as the Patroness of the Americas

Magaly Nieto, Reporter
KOSA-TV


ODESSA, TEXAS - Every December 12th, millions of Catholics celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most deeply rooted traditions among the Church ...

read the rest of this KOSA report ... 


In the News ... "First United Methodist brings in nationally-known names for Christmas concerts"

Plumb                                         (Courtesy Photo)
• Starting THIS weekend at First UMC-Midland

By Steve Kuhlman, Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - First United Methodist Church will kick off its Christmas celebration this weekend with its One Night in Bethlehem event, leading up to the first of two Christmas concerts featuring American Idol finalist Lakisha Jones and multiple Dove award nominee Plumb, respectively.

The free One Night in Bethlehem event will be 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with tours beginning every 15 minutes.

"It’s everywhere,” said Denise Carrell, media design and communications manager at First Methodist. “We go through the whole church. It’s a little disruptive, but it’s very fun. It wanders all over the church and it will end in a blessing in the chapel” ...


read the rest of this MRT report

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. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 13, 2014


STOCKTON PRESBYTERY, CALIFORNIA - God is so good! The Presbytery of Stockton has been striving to respond to God’s call in our ministries around the presbytery. It has been an interesting year, full of change, and we are excited to see how God will continue to show up!

We have been encouraged by the willingness of our 21 congregations to try new things in order to serve more faithfully and effectively. God is blessing our efforts, and the presbytery is becoming more healthy and vital! Here are a few of the wonderful changes ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.


The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook now available ... 

 The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the compassionate and prophetic disciples among us. They proclaim God’s justice — extending God’s reign each and every day through their lives and work. Their stories will inspire and encourage you. Engage in ministry alongside them by praying through the Mission Yearbook each day.

Order your copy from the Church Store ...

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 13

"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 13

Matthew 21:28-32

In this parable Jesus compares the father to God and his sons to two types of people: those who repent and those who do not care for their father’s wishes. These would seem to be the only characters, but it is the vineyard that is most ignored. The vineyard is a character as well. It is alive and in need of love and care.

The vineyard is our relationship with God. One son said he would care for it and yet did not; he would have let the plants go untended and die. The other son said he would not care for the plants, but went out and cared for them as asked. God lets us choose whether or not to tend to our vineyards. God is always there with us, reaching out to us. When we do God’s will, we in turn reach for God and we connect.

Often in our lives we may feel a tug to do something we may not have chosen to do. We sense a calling from a force we cannot always see. Yet somehow we know that it is God. Sometimes through that flickering thought in the corner of our minds, God calls, and other times God shouts to us over all the noise. God calls each of us to tend to our vineyards in different ways. Though we may not always be ready or willing to dive into the call, God awaits us with hands outstretched, waiting for us to take them. Words are only a faint whispering compared to the resounding roar of action. Jesus teaches us to live in love toward one another. God calls us to act out of love and care. How do we answer God each day? How do our vineyards fare?

Gracious God, whose love never fails to find us. Help us to sense your spirit within the sanctums of our souls, calling us to you every day. Give us the strength to reach out to you as you reach for us so that we may answer your calling with all that we are. In your everlasting name we pray, Amen.

Emily Béghin
Senior MDiv Student



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 12, 2014

In the News ... "A tension-free Thanksgiving celebration"

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following report is about a Thanksgiving preview of an upcoming Christmas production at Odessa Christian Faith Center. The show will be presented December 21, 23 and 24 at OCFC.

OA Photo by Edyta Blaszczyk
• Odessa Christian Faith Center puts on uplifting play

By Lyndsay Weaver, Reporter
Odessa American


ODESSA, TEXAS - Picture you’re driving to your Thanksgiving Day destination – with your spouse, pre-teen daughter and in-laws piled in the car – when the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

If it sounds like the worst Thanksgiving Day ever, up-and-coming playwright Mark Blair (director of drama ministry at Odessa Christian Faith Center) is painting a picture that flips the sometimes resentful feelings about the holiday on its head ...

 • read the rest of this OA report


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. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: December 12, 2014


PRESBYTERY OF SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - At Covenant Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, we recognize that youth are not just the future of the church but the very heart of our congregation. Youth serve as leaders in all aspects of the congregation: two have recently served as elders, several have served on the leadership team for the multicultural youth conference at Mo Ranch, and 16 went to Presbyterian Youth Triennium. Here are a few words from two of them ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.


The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook now available ... 

 The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the compassionate and prophetic disciples among us. They proclaim God’s justice — extending God’s reign each and every day through their lives and work. Their stories will inspire and encourage you. Engage in ministry alongside them by praying through the Mission Yearbook each day.

Order your copy from the Church Store ...

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 12

"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 12

Philippians 3:12-16

In a dresser drawer, I keep a small box full of odd stuff that means something to me. The box has a tie clip that my father-in-law, who died in 2012, gave to me. In the box I keep a cross from a church meeting that I attended in Hungary in 1984. And the box itself? A friend that I went to school with brought it back from a trip to Ethiopia. Looking at those souvenirs can instantly spark fond memories. Thinking about the past can give us comfort and make us feel thankful for God’s blessings.

Sometimes, however, thinking about the past can keep us from seeing what God is doing right now. In our reading from Philippians, Paul strains forward to what God has in mind for today and tomorrow: life in Christ Jesus that is not limited by death. The apostle Paul points his focus forward to this goal because he trusts that God in Christ has already redeemed him. In Advent, we count up the Sundays until we reach the fourth one. Then we know that we are close to the goal of this part of the church year: the celebration of Jesus’ birth. But the season of Advent also asks us to look forward, to sharpen our senses to see what God is about to do in our lives. God’s promise to be with us endures despite the highs and lows of our income and the pains of illness.

Like Paul, we are not content to take it easy on the grounds that we have already shown our faithfulness by giving time to our church and community. The story of our faith is not done yet. Like runners leaning forward to cross the finish line first, Paul encourages us to press on with acts of faithfulness. What will faithfulness look like for you?

Let us pray: Lead us on, Lord Jesus. Make us unable to rest on past accomplishments. Push us forward to serve others in your name, confident that your love will always support us. Amen.

Timothy Lincoln
Associate Dean for Seminary Effectiveness,
and Director of the Stitt Library



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