Thursday, September 23, 2021

A Prayer Update from Jill Hostetler


1. Pray for our after-school Good News Clubs. Praise God we have been able to restart 4 clubs.

2. Pray for a 2 week course I am taking at the CEF International HQ (Sept 19-Oct 1).

3. Pray for many children to attend our outdoor neighborhood outreach at our CEF office in October.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A Prayer Update from Dougg and LeAnn Custer



Praises:
  • Great Mobilization Ministries Team retreat full of praying for each other's ministries as well as for more workers, encouraging each other, and training to enhance our effectiveness. 

  • The Ministry and Cultural Preparation Trainings this summer went very well - one was in person, and the other on Zoom. We all feel like we are hitting our stride!


Prayer Requests:
  • For these missionaries who were trained and are nearing departure, that God would use the cultural and ministry training to make them better disciples in South America, Southeast and Central Asia, India, Japan, Europe and Africa. 

  • Pray that God would provide visas and open borders for the 14 fully supported units excitedly awaiting deployment to their field of service.

  • Decisions are being made to hire a mobilizer for those working in the Disciple Making Movement as well as a media mobilizer, someone who would produce videos, brochures, etc. for the mobilizers to use on campuses, in churches and at conferences. Pray for all the details to be worked out.

Monday, August 30, 2021

A Prayer Update from Sam and Jamie Hornbrook

                                              

1. We are grateful our daughter Nicole spent two months with us this summer while she worked for a company in California. The internet allows you to do things like that these days. Nicole is 20 years old and will be starting her Junior year of college at Purdue University in just a few days.

2. We continue to have discipleship classes with our next door neighbors. We meet with Rosi the nurse and the elderly lady, Tere. Both are very excited and grateful for the gospel. The Lady Marisol had a conflict with her mother, who is Tere, and has refused to attend the class for over a month. We pray she will humble herself and come back, but also trust the Lord to reveal what is in each person's heart.

3. The third wave of covid is filling up hospitals and taking the lives of extended family members of church families. We are thankful that we have not had a death because of Covid yet, in our church.

4. We continue to meet as a church but are back down to about half of our congregation attending as people are concerned about public events.

5. Praise the Lord with us for a church member who returned to the fellowship of the church after 2 and a half years of being church disciplined. The result is she is now a single mother, but has come back and given her testimony of repentance and restoration to the Church. We thank the Lord for bringing Paty back to Himself and to our church!

Thank you so much for praying for us and giving faithfully!
Blessings in Christ,
Sam and Jamie Hornbrook

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Prayer Update from Catherine Coon


1. My mom has successfully moved into independent living in a senior residence center and is settling in well. We are very thankful.


2. Hope Alive! students are doing much better with the tutoring that we are providing while schools are closed than they do in their very large classrooms (60 – 100+ kids). We are looking for ways to increase what we are able to offer as schools continue closed due to the pandemic.

3. The transition to a new executive director for Hope Alive! is moving forward well. Caleb Smagacz is in Uganda with his family. He and I continue to meet via Zoom. The expected date for handing off the baton is January 1, 2022. I will then focus on fund-raising, partner development, and curriculum development and hope to travel to Uganda two or three times a year for a few weeks. Please pray that the transition will be smooth.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Meditations on 1 Peter (Part 4): Engage

Often when we are experiencing hardship, our natural tendency can be to turn inward, focusing on our pain and isolating ourselves from God, the body of Christ, and those who sin against us. Often, we may spend hours crying, but we do not direct our cries to God (Hos. 7:14). We may think no person can understand the depth of our sorrow. We may simply have no words to express what we are feeling. We may feel too ashamed to draw near to God or others because of the devastating effects of sin in our lives. The last thing we feel like doing is interacting with someone who has hurt us. Even if we don’t actively retaliate, we very purposely avoid. However, Peter is clear that if we are going to glorify God in our suffering we must engage with both God and people.

Our relationship with God is the foundational relationship of our lives. The quality, depth, and intimacy of this relationship affects how we interact in all other relationships – with ourselves, with others, and with our circumstances. Peter makes it clear that we must actively engage with God. We can’t be passive in our relationship with God at any time, but especially in times of suffering, we have to be actively pursuing and cultivating our relationship with God. We must be continually turning to Him in humble dependence and trust.

Peter describes this active involvement with many different verbs throughout the book of 1 Peter. Peter encourages believers to rejoice in God’s mercy in causing us to be born again and giving us an inheritance. Peter tells us to hope in God (1 Pet. 1:13, 3:5). We are believers in God who call on Him as Father (1 Pet. 1:17, 21) We are to fear God (1 Pet. 1:17). We are to honor Christ as Lord. We are to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. These are more than just commands. They describe how we are to respond in our ongoing relationship with God.

Finally, we are to cast our cares on the Lord. He does care about us, and He does take care of us. We are to actively take our concerns to Him. We can talk to Him and know He hears. We can voice our questions. We can explain our concerns and ask for help. Then we must actively choose to trust Him and wait with hope for His strengthening and deliverance. This casting is not just a one-time prayer offered up as we then seek to solve our own problems in our own wisdom. In an ongoing relationship, we must engage with God in moment-by-moment dependence as we walk through suffering.

Secondly, as we walk through suffering, we also need to engage with other believers. We are involved in a brotherhood of suffering (1 Pet. 5:9), and we need each other. We must be encouraging and strengthening each other. In 1 Peter 4:8-11 Peter exhorts his readers, even in the midst of hardships, to love one another earnestly. Sometimes suffering provides us an excuse to back away from loving and serving others, but each believer is to use his gift to serve one another. God will supply the strength to serve. Sometimes our suffering may limit or shape how we can serve in the immediate context. That is ok. There is a mutuality in the one-anothering of the body of Christ. We should always, in some way, be both receiving from others and giving to others, and the degree and nature of this giving and receiving changes depending on our situation in life. What is important is that we be cultivating an attitude that acknowledges our need for the body of Christ and makes loving and serving one another the priority.

Finally, we are to actively engage with unbelievers or others who have sinned against us, even those who may be persecuting us. This is not a popular idea. One of the first things we teach our kids is to stay away from kids who aren’t kind to them. As adults we make rules about what behavior is acceptable from others if they want a relationship with us. Any relationship that costs more than it gives is likely to be abandoned pretty quickly. But 1 Peter is so clear about how to relate to difficult people. We are to follow the example of the Lord Jesus – both on the cross and throughout his whole life. He did not take vengeance. He didn’t revile those who reviled him. He didn’t slander or threaten. He didn’t return evil for evil. He didn’t fear them but feared God.

But that is not enough. It is not enough to refrain from evil. We must actively do good to those who harm us. We must bless those who curse us – not just ignore them. The way to overcome evil is by doing good (Rom. 12:21). We must learn to love our enemies. We need to grow so that concern for the welfare of their souls and God’s glory become more important than our concern for our personal rights. Peter is clear that a Christlike response to suffering provides a tremendous opportunity to display the glory of God (1Pet. 2:12, 3:1, 15-16). It also provides a powerful gospel witness, even causing the unbeliever to ask us about the hope we have (1 Pet. 3:15). Sometimes wise love will be difficult to discern in specific situations, but we know that the way is found in following in the footsteps of our Savior, who entrusted His soul to God and actively engaged with sinners.

1 Peter 4:19 offers a concise summary of Peter’s message on how to face suffering:

Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Kim Anderson

Monday, August 9, 2021

Meditations on 1 Peter (Part 3): Entrust Yourself to God

Peter encouraged his readers to expect suffering. He encouraged them to embrace suffering – to accept it willingly because it is God’s will for His people and because of the opportunities that it provides. The teaching of Scripture is that suffering for the sake of Christ is a gift of grace (Phil. 1:28) that brings great reward (Phil. 3:9-10, 1 Pet. 4:14). Peter also encouraged the suffering Christians to follow the example of the Lord Jesus and entrust themselves to God.


To entrust means to “hand something over to someone (usually a right or authority).” In entrusting ourselves to God, we give up our right and authority to do whatever we want to with our lives. We give up our right to do whatever necessary to make our lives turn out the way we want. We hand over the responsibility for the care, keeping, and outcome of our lives to God. 1 Peter 5:6 speaks of this attitude of submission. “Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God.” Humbling myself means giving up the right to determine the course of my life. It means choosing to believe that whatever circumstances God sends into my life are the best ones for me. I am experiencing my best life now. God sends the perfect mixture of toil, trouble, and blessing to work the highest good for me and the highest glory to Himself. To entrust means we give over the responsibility for the keeping of our physical body and eternal soul to God, and we commit ourselves to walking in obedience to Him no matter what the cost.


How can we entrust ourselves to God? Peter gives us many compelling reasons. First of all, our God cares for us personally (1 Pet. 5:7). We are not simply expendable pawns in His cosmic plan to establish His kingdom. He set his love on us when we were wandering like lost sheep. Christ bore our sins on the cross. He redeemed us with his precious blood. He adopted us as his beloved children. He is the God of all grace. He promises to strengthen and restore us. He has not left us. He is rescuing us even now in the midst of the worst suffering.


We can entrust ourselves to Him because He is faithful. God will do what He says. He promises that those who humble themselves under His hand will be exalted in due time. We will share in His glory. Our inheritance is sure. This suffering is only for a little while and then He will bring us into our full inheritance. (1 Pet. 1:3-5) We may face shame and humiliation at the hands of others. Our bodies may crumble apart under the curse of sin, but someday we will share in Christ’s glory.


We also can entrust ourselves to our faithful Creator because His hand is mighty. Power belongs to God. He is actively at work and nothing can stay His hand. No one can thwart His plans for His kingdom or his plans for our lives.


We can entrust ourselves to God’s care because He is the one who justly judges. We may suffer unjustly in this life at the hands of others, but we know that God does see. He does care. No one will get away with any evil they have committed. Human judges may show partiality but not the judge of the nations.


We can entrust ourselves to Him because we belong to Him. We are His chosen people. We are a people for his own possession. Like Israel, the church is God’s treasured possession. He has covenanted in His steadfast love to complete His work in us and bring us into His heavenly Kingdom. He will never desert us. Even the most stable human relationship may fail but God will not forsake his own.


And finally, we can entrust ourselves because our Savior entrusted Himself to His Father. He knew that His Father could be trusted. He knew that God’s eternal plan was better than temporal relief of suffering. Christ knew that the joy found in God’s eternal plan was better than any human plan for happiness and security. And we have seen the outcome of entrusting. Yes, Christ died a horrible death. But that was not the end of the story. God raised Him from the dead. Sin, Satan, and death were defeated. Eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, and fullness of joy spread to multitudes. God has used the worst evil of all eternity, the sacrificial death of the perfect Son of God, to bring about immeasurable good. The cross is irrefutable proof that our good, wise, powerful God can work all things for good, even our greatest sorrows and pains.


Lord, help us in the midst of suffering, to follow the example of our Savior and entrust ourselves to your care.

Kim Anderson

Monday, August 2, 2021

Meditations on 1 Peter (Part 2): Embrace Suffering

To expect suffering is the clear teaching of 1 Peter and the rest of Scripture. It catches me off guard less often now, but Peter also encourages the believers to embrace suffering. An attitude of embracing suffering is essential if we are going to respond to suffering in a way that glorifies God, but this has been one of the hardest aspects in my journey of developing my theology of suffering. To embrace means to “to take or receive gladly, to accept willingly, to avail oneself of (an opportunity).” Accept willingly? See it as an opportunity? Throughout my life I have struggled and pushed back against suffering. I have tried to avoid it. I have railed angrily against those who have caused my suffering and against the God who ordained it. I suspect I am not the only one who has felt this way.


What makes it so hard to embrace suffering? Some reasons are obvious. Whether physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual, suffering is painful - sometimes mild, sometimes excruciating, but never pleasant. It is a natural human response to want to avoid pain.


However, as I have looked at my own heart, I have seen that there is more going on. Suffering simply doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t line up with my understanding. I have often asked, not just “Why did this specific thing happen?” but “Why did God have to set things up like this? Why didn’t He make His world differently?” As I have poured over 1 Peter over the last several years, one of the truths that I have wrestled with is that the God of all grace (1 Pet. 5:10) is the same God who calls me to a life of suffering (1 Pet. 2:21). In my pride, I have trouble embracing something that doesn’t make sense to me. I put more trust in my own understanding than in the ways of the all-knowing, all-wise Creator of the world.


Finally, I have realized that I don’t embrace suffering because what I want (by my definition of good) is simply more important to me than what God wants for my life. Building my own little kingdom, with my temporal desires at the center, sometimes matters more to me than knowing God, spreading His kingdom, and becoming more like Christ. There is nothing wrong with wanting a physically and spiritually healthy family or financial security or harmonious, intimate relationships, but when these things idolatrously become what I’m living for, there is no place for anything that threatens these valued treasures. There is no place for suffering. And there is no room for Christ.


Peter helps us understand some of the truths we need to grasp if we are going to embrace the path of suffering God calls us too. First, we must embrace the truth of who God is. He is the God of all grace and that grace flows freely to His people. He is the God who came near to us. He walked the worst path of pain and suffering ever to redeem us from our futile, sinful ways and to make us His children (1 Pet. 1:13-18). This salvation is so glorious that angels are amazed (1 Pet. 1:12). He has not treated us as we deserve but has shown us mercy and made us part of His people. He has given us meaning and purpose that transcends this life (1 Pet. 2:9-10). He is faithful. He is keeping our inheritance safe. He has promised that the those who believe in Christ will not be put to shame. Instead, our future is one of glory and honor with Christ. (1 Pet. 2:6-7). Finally, He is worthy of the sacrifice He calls us to – not just because of what Christ has done for us, but because of His excellencies. To Him belong dominion and power forever (1 Pet. 5:11). It is only right that all creation, including us, bow to Him.


Peter also encourages the believers to focus on God’s good purposes for suffering. In the first chapter Peter discusses the purifying power of trials. Yes, trials are grievous, but they are necessary. They test our faith, purifying it and proving its genuineness. The end result is praise, glory, and honor when Christ appears. Chapter 4 also describes the purifying effect of hardship, “those who have suffered in the flesh have ceased from sin” and no longer live for the passions of the human heart. Suffering exposes sinful desires of our heart in ways we would never see otherwise. Suffering also exposes the futility of living for the idols we have chosen, and the furnace of affliction purifies our hearts as we grow more deeply and singularly devoted to Christ. Finally, Peter makes it clear that when we respond to unjust suffering the way that Christ did, our lives provide a powerful gospel witness displaying God’s glory. Our good and gracious God is displaying his glory, spreading His kingdom, helping us know Him, and refining us through suffering.


Lord, help us to embrace suffering when You call us to it.

Kim Anderson