Monday, February 15, 2021

Prayer Requests for Sam and Jamie Hornbrook


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ at Bethany Community Church,

1. The virus is hitting Mexico hard. This is not only reflected on the World Meter, which shows Mexico as third highest in the world in total numbers of deaths, behind the US. and Brazil, but our church members share regularly how friends and family are dying from it. This past week, a cousin of a church member and a former church member died. Many prayer requests get shared on our church's media link, every week, of family and friends that have been admitted to the hospital, are sick or have died. Thank you for praying for Mexico and our church.
We thank the Lord for no deaths in our church, till now. Many have had COVID, including Jamie and me, but we have all recovered.

2. Because of the conditions here in Mexico, especially here in the Mexico City area, all our church services have been back on line, since the middle of December.
The income of our families is also way down. We pray for the Lord to provide for each one. The church helps the families that cannot buy enough food with their income.

3. Please pray with us for our church member, Eli, and her 4 daughters who moved out of their home, to live on their own, as the father/husband has become so abusive, drinking, angry and dangerous that it became necessary. The the church is helping this family with their needs.

4. We thank the Lord that Iglesia Nueva Vida en Cristo is doing well as a church body to love, pray for and look after one another.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us and for Mexico. May the Lord bring many people to Himself through this time of uncertainty.

Serving with you in Mexico City,
Sam and Jamie Hornbrook

Monday, February 8, 2021

Please Pray for Dougg and LeAnn Custer

Below are some ways that you can pray for Dougg and LeAnn Custer as they serve the ʟᴏʀᴅ during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1) On Febr. 15th, we will be part of the committees interviewing three candidates for acceptance by WorldVenture. Pray for wisdom and unity and God's clear leading as we try to ensure (as much as is humanly possible) that these candidates are a good fit for both cross-cultural work and service together with WorldVenture. 

2) Following the interviews, Pre-Field ministry & Orientation will again be held virtually Febr. 22-24. These are three intensive days of training and guiding these new WorldVenture workers into the organization and then into their next steps of Partner Development. Please also pray for the following:

For those organizing and refining the training to make it the best it can be, including the coordination of the sessions and the scheduling of presenters
For the presenters to speak in such a way that not only communicates important information, but that connects with the attendees
For technology to work well.
That these new missionaries would be able to form a strong relationship with those they are meeting from WorldVenture, even though the interactions will be done via Zoom.

3) Febr. 26-27: A Discover WorldVenture Weekend will be held on the campus of Liberty University where there are a number of students interested in serving cross-culturally with us. Pray for God's leading for the students - we'd love for a number of them to find themselves a fit with us and able to fulfill ministry opportunities around the world. Also pray for Terry and Donna Jeanne Schneider as they follow up the decisions made on the weekend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Jesus, Our Perfect Savior

BCC family,
As we head into 2021, I thought this email from a fellow BCCer would encourage you. I have permission to share, but the writer asked to remain anonymous because children are mentioned--though the writer would be happy to discuss face to face. You can contact me if you are interested. May God continue to work in all our hearts for His glory.
Pastor Ben
2020 has been a year of Joy.
2020 has been a year where my heart's brokenness has bubbled to the surface. Pridefulness has been revealed in my heart in glaring ways. My lack of control has been set before my face in profound ways. My children have struggled in ways that were too big and too dark for me to help with.

I struggled with despair and begged God to take my life instead of allowing me to exist in this present state of despair.

But then God revealed HIMSELF more. He took great lengths to meet me where I was and gently turned my face to look at him. He took me from a place of false belief. I know he has called me justified and saved from eternal Hell, by the blood of Jesus, but I thought he looked upon me in disgust and annoyance. He led me to the knowledge of a God with arms eternally open wide. He is a God weeping tears of love and joy--yearning for me to climb into his lap and be embraced. Just-as-I-am with a broken, repentant heart. Embraced, loved, and cried for by The Holy God!

Jesus has been my Savior for many years, and in 2020, he has shown me more deepness of his grace and showered me with limitless joy; more than in all of those years. This joy, I would not be able to experience without facing the depravity of my soul, exposed in 2020. 2020 was a year of joy.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 4:6

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Christian Response to a Deteriorating Culture

“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

This verse, (2 Chronicles 7:14), is familiar to many. Supposedly President Dwight Eisenhower opened his Bible to the verse during his 1953 inauguration. What’s not generally known is that this passage records God’s response to King Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple as recorded in 2 Chron. 6:36-42.

I realize that this is a specific promise, made to Israel, not to America, however I believe our nation is in desperate need of this same kind of promise from God at this time in our history, perhaps like no other. We are in an ethical war that threatens our very existence. Ironically, a myriad of voices cry for justice while at the same time, motivate prejudice, oppression, violence, injustice and anarchy. All of which is in stark violation of our nation’s long-established ethical standards, standards which have given us stability and freedom for over two centuries. Anger, violence and injustice seem to rule the day instead of courtesy, deference and respect for human dignity and true justice. Both sides blame the other with malicious, hateful and contemptible rhetoric. The staggering spectrum of radical ideas and demands threaten our stability, safety and freedoms. Childish and unsubstantiated accusations and attacks riddle the spectrum of nearly all of our media. Harsh rhetoric and name-calling supplant rigorous, logical debate in the public square. Wise and reasonable solutions are often met with brutal, relentless and unfounded rebuttal and attacks. It seems that we are on the brink of total collapse with no one to lead us to unity and peace.

What IS the answer to America’s crisis? Is it possible that our nation’s healing is actually dependent upon the humble repentance of God’s people, rather than the loud voices of our culture which demand justice through destruction and reparations?

Is it possible that our hope, healing and restoration does not lie in our rising up with resistance against tyranny and oppression?

Is it possible that the real root of America’s decline is actually due to the lukewarmness of God’s people and not because of the “wicked people” in Washington or in our streets?

Is it possible that God’s people need to repent of sinful anger, bitterness and partiality against the wickedness of the people of this nation and rather turn toward our God in humble, personal repentance?

Is it possible that the only real hope for America to avoid complete and utter ruin and devastation is clearly and simply found in repentance in the Church of Jesus Christ?

“If my people, who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Is it possible that God is calling His people so He can use us to change our land by asking Him to change us?

I believe our greatest hope for America is for Christians to repent, myself included. If American has any hope to recover from the nonsense, chaos, rebellion and moral decline that has so deeply stained and corrupted our once great land, our only remaining hope is in God's healing us in response to our repentance.

Otherwise, our nation likely faces that same kind of rebuke and judgment that Isaiah speaks of against Israel in the first five chapters of Isaiah. No one can say with certainty what God is doing, but we can say that God is just and according to his word, he judges justly. At some point, without repentance, it appears that America will face the withholding of God’s grace and the resulting judgment that sin demands.

With the prospects of judgement looming on our horizons, Christians also need to proclaim the Gospel of God’s mercy and grace to a sin-darkened culture. The voice of Christian church needs to loudly proclaim mercy at such a time as this. Unfortunately, many Christian voices today are harsh, judgmental, cruel, bitter and unloving.

America needs for God’s people to repent and proclaim the Good News of God’s redemptive mercy. Isaiah learned that in chapter 6 where God sent him to proclaim the hope of the coming Christ. Pastor Alistair Begg's message entitled "Have Mercy" gives a stern warning to the Body of Christ about the effects that our attitudes and witness have upon our culture. I suggest that the hour he takes to offer this timely exhortation is one well worth spending.

The voice of the Church today needs to be primarily the voice of its own repentance and then a gracious voice offering redemption to a very lost culture.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Prov. 25:11)

Kent Kloter

Monday, December 28, 2020

An Outreach Testimony by Shari Pittenger

This year I've been walking and with a non-traditional ICC student, Evelyn. She is from the Philippines, and I met her through a student ministry at ICC. She and I have been walking and covering different topics such as her grown daughter who's living in Japan, her job, growing flowers, her marriage, and reading the Bible. During one walk I told her that being a Christian is not about a religion, but a relationship with Jesus. She seems very interested in learning more, so I'm hoping we can have more great conversations--if I can just get over how cold it is outside so I can continue the walks. We’re planning our next walk soon.

Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel..." In light of that, I am compelled to ask myself this: "But what about when they come to you? Are you willing to do the same? Are you willing to go into their world and share Christ?"

Shari Pittenger

Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas Hope

I scan the headlines. Word begins to filter in. A virus in China. It is spreading. People are dying. It is far away. But … then it is not. Pandemic, coronavirus, quarantine… who would have thought those words would be in my 6-year-old grandson’s vocabulary. People around the world die. We are in lockdown. We have been exposed. We quarantine. People we know are getting sick. People we know die. Governments plan and pass mandates. A tiny little virus. Not even the most powerful governments on earth can stop it. People lose jobs. Businesses are destroyed. Conflict erupts. “Our rights are being stripped from us!” “You don’t care about people!” One day I wear a mask into a store. No one else is wearing one. I think people are looking at me. I hear their unvoiced accusations, “You are a political liberal. You don’t care about freedom. You live your life controlled by fear.” A little piece of cloth that says so much and draws such lines. Disease that disrupts and destroys. Sorrow and loss. Human hearts exposed. Such darkness.

I scan the headlines. Senseless killing. Mob violence spreads across the nation. I read of riots in Toledo and Columbus. My children live there. I fight the urge to call them and say, “Don’t go out! Stay home. It’s not safe.” My friend calls. She is a home health nurse in Peoria. She works in the evenings. She has been sent home early. It’s too dangerous to be out. I run to the grocery store. On the door hangs a handwritten sign, “Closing early due to civil unrest.” Civil unrest? In Washington, Illinois? I look around. Everything looks ok, but inside I feel uneasy. My safe world suddenly seems not quite so safe. Death and destruction and lawlessness to fight death and destruction and lawlessness. Such darkness.

I sit in the counseling room. I listen. Stories of loss and heartache tumble out. Broken relationships that seem beyond hope. Questions about God? Who is He? Where was He? How can I find Him? I listen. Struggles common to us all pour out. “I am anxious. I am fearful. I struggle with anger. I don’t know how to change.” I listen. Faltering words whisper accounts of betrayal and brokenness. A lump grows in my throat. I hold back tears. Unspeakable evil. Those called to love harm. The strong crush the weak. The powerful exploit those they are called to serve. Such darkness.

I stand looking in the mirror. My heart is exposed. Self-deception gives way to clarity (James 1:23-24). I cringe at what I see. Pride and self-reliance thread their insidious tentacles everywhere. Self-righteous judgment. Why can’t other people just do things like I do? Anger at those who get in the way of my kingdom. Anxiety. Lord, prove that You are worthy of my trust – again! Prove that You really love me. You gave your Beloved Son for me but that is not enough! Give me what I want right now! Anger, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness, jealousy, self-indulgence, pride – all the things that have brought heartache and suffering to millions, all the things that have destroyed families and nations down through the ages – they are all inside of me. Such darkness. 

But amid the darkness, came that first Christmas. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has shone the light.” (Isa. 9: 2). Yes, we live surrounded by darkness around us and within us, but the light of the world has come into the world. God himself came to dwell with His people. The God who is near (Ps. 119:151) has come nearer. Jesus, the light of the world, walked among his people. He suffered the pains and temptations of life in this fallen world. He triumphed over them. He walked through them all trusting his Father perfectly. Then He died and rose again conquering sin, Satan, and death. The kingdom of light prevailed over the kingdom of darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Yes, sometimes the darkness does seem overwhelming. We can feel hopeless to overcome our own spiritual darkness, but when that happens ponder again what Christ has done. “For God, who said. “Let the light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Think of it! We are no longer blind men walking in darkness, clueless about what is most valuable in life. God has opened our eyes to see the beauty and value of Jesus. Yes, we still sin, but we can see Jesus, and He has begun the process of bring many sons to glory. “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day (Prov.4:18).” The light in us may seem to be only a tiny spark at times, but we will shine brighter and brighter as the Father makes us more like Christ. He will complete His work in us.

Yes, sometimes the darkness does seem overwhelming. From our vantage point, it looks like Satan’s kingdom and the world are prevailing. When it looks this way, ponder again who Christ is. He is the triumphant, conquering King. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13). He has won the war with darkness. He cannot fail. With every soul that turns to Him for mercy, his kingdom is advancing. With every act of kindness or forgiveness or grace of mercy, we push back against the darkness around us, and His light spreads. Every time we hold back our feet from evil, every time we resist temptation, and every time we put on righteousness, we fight back against the darkness. His unstoppable light penetrates the darkness, and our king will not stop until His light fills every nook and cranny of His universe.  

So today, amidst of the darkness, we fight on. We pick up the weapons of righteousness, and we follow confidently in the footsteps of our conquering King. We trust in our God. “Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on His God. (Isa. 50:10). Our situations may seem dark, and our hearts may struggle with darkness, but our God has clearly revealed Himself to us through His Word and through His Son. He has clearly revealed to us in his written word the path forward through the darkness (Ps. 119:105, 130). We fight on with hope, for our Savior has promised a coming day when there will be no more tears or sorrow or sin or pain or suffering. We will dwell with our Savior and “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:5). Darkness will be no more - forever.

So, this Christmas, rejoice for the Light of the World has come!

Kim Anderson

Fear, Faith and Full Surrender: Three Essentials in Coming to Christ and Following in his Footsteps

Tim Challies’ post regarding his grieving from the loss of his son’s recent death pointed me to this theme. He quoted Pr. 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. As I thought of “the fear of the Lord” as being a non-negotiable, foundational element of our heart’s respond to the person and work of our God, I began to think about the ramifications of the lack of or diminished fear of God. The fallout is staggering

Sodom’s culture was a result of refusing to fear God (Gen. 20:11). Amalek’s lack of the fear of God (Deut.25:18) resulted in his ultimate destruction (Ex. 17:13-14). Israel and Jerusalem were devastated because they did not fear God (Jer. 5:24), instead they chose to trust in “lying words” (Jer. 7:4,8) and suffered great loss.

Foundational Element #1 is “THE FEAR OF THE LORD”.

Then consider the absolute necessity of faith in the LORD. Hebrews makes a statement that I believe is so familiar to the average person in the pew, that the profound importance of which is often unknown or lost…”Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith, simply put, is believing God, that is, taking what God’s Word says and truly believing that He means what He says.

Faith is Believing God’s Word (Heb. 11:1; Rom. 10:17), and acting on it (Ja. 1:22-25; Psalm 19:11), out of a heart of worship (Matt. 4:10), for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31-33), no matter how I feel (Heb. 11), or what I think (Is. 55:8-9), knowing that God promises a good result (Rom. 8:28-29), in His own time (Rom. 5:6; 1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Peter 5:6).

Consider the ramifications of the lack of faith…

The lack of faith deteriorates into idolatry. Idol-worshippers become like their idols. Idolaters invited God’s wrath, judgement and ultimate rejection (2 Ki. 17:7-23).

Israel “did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power” (Ps. 78:22; see also vs. 32) and received the wrath and punishment for lack of refusing to believe God, in spite of truly awesome demonstrations of His delivering power and :almighty hand”. Ultimately, failing to believe God has eternal consequences. “He who does not believe is condemned already – because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).

Foundational Element #2 is “FAITH in GOD, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.

Fearing God is essential, but incomplete and isn’t enough. Demons fear Jesus, but are not saved and do not walk in harmony with Christ. When faced with the prospect of their pending doom, “…they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:28; Mk. 5:1-13).

Believing God is essential, but incomplete and not enough; the demons believe but tremble (Ja.2:19). So fear of God and Faith in God requires a third, essential element… the response of a full surrender to God. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk. 8:34).

Full surrender means to become meek before God’s sovereign call on your life, that is for you to represent Him as an ambassador (2 Cor. 5:14-21). Full surrender also means to meekly surrender your rights in humble submission to His rule and reign over your heart. Vine’s definition of meekness offers a sobering challenge to the theme of meekness or full surrender: “Meekness is “an inwrought grace of the soul that is first and chiefly before God, in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” Full surrender to God is made complete with repentance in response to godly fear and faith in the God who saves.

Foundational Element #3 is “FULL SURRENDER” to GOD, motivated out of reverent, godly fear and faith and trust in Him and His grace as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.

Fear, faith and full surrender are three essentials in coming to Christ and following in His footsteps.

Kent Kloter