Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Please Pray for the Borisuks

Here are some ways that you can be praying for Mark and Charity Borisuk as they serve in China:
  1. Pray for three couples in our church who we are discipling this year. One of the husbands is an elder in training, one is a deacon and the other is a deacon in training. Pray that they would all be growing in their knowledge of the truth and that they would exalt Christ before the church as couples and parents.
  2. Pray for the pastors, leaders, deacons, and students that we are working with would be growing in their knowledge of the Lord, faithfully living out their faith, and accurately proclaiming the Word.
  3. We praise the Lord for the thousands who are using IRC’s translated resources and the Chinese Bible Study Toolbox. We praise the Lord for modern technology, especially WeChat, that allows for the widespread availability of these resources in China. Pray for continued open doors and opportunities, and that these materials would help lead people to the truth for the glory of God.
  4. Pray for continued protection in China with our training, church, websites, and translation "business".

The Lesson of Continuing

I worked in the physical therapy field for almost six years.

The typical patient would look something like this: comes in after a surgery or injury with pain and dysfunction. Through a series of techniques and exercises, we decrease their pain first and then work on restoring their function. Once their goals have been met, the patient is usually discharged with instructions to continue their exercise program at home.

Inevitably, there were always those who came back frustrated a few months later with the same symptoms and wondered why! When asked, we found out they weren’t doing their home exercises any longer. After some more instruction, accountability, and kind warnings they were back and on their way, and usually learned their lesson.

I’m sitting here thinking of people, both in the therapy world and in the counseling room, that have regressed due to lack of discipline. And then I think of my own life, and how quickly my sin patterns emerge when I am not disciplined in my own spiritual walk.

How important and vital it is to be disciplined in those things that grow us and change us to be more like Christ as we fight against our own desire and fight against sin. Whether its community with the body of Christ, Scripture reading, prayer, memorization, or personal and cooperate worship, all must be present and are needed in our walk as we grow to become like Him!

1 Timothy 4:8-10 encourages us in our daily pursuit of Christ as our hope and only goal!
For the whole bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end, we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Heather Leman

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Please Pray for Hearline and Hearthouse

Here are some ways that you can pray for the Heartline and Heart House as they help women and children and serve in the Woodford County area:
  1. People who are in need of our services will come to us
  2. Tree of Hearts program, that the weather holds out during our wrapping and distribution days, that enough donations comes in to cover the need
  3. Staff to be diligent in providing services to those in need with love and kindness in our hearts
  4. That God is glorified in the programs/shelter
  5. Prayers for the director to have wisdom in leading in day to day situations.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Joy for Every Season

The days and weeks approaching Christmas is a time of great activity associated with this holiday that tends to focus on giving and family – all good things, right? As Christians, we are also encouraged and reminded that this heavily secularized holiday has a much more significant meaning. We celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, his birth as a baby – God Almighty taking on human form as a vulnerable infant. Our God is nothing if not surprising in His way of accomplishing His purposes. Who could have imagined God taking upon Himself in Jesus the judgment for human sin, as the way to provide the means for people to be reconciled in relationship to Him? Amazing!
That we have a God that loves people that much (John 3:16) is a primary source for our thankfulness and worship of Him. We are thankful for what God has done for us and the world, and we worship God for who He is as a holy, good and loving Creator of all that is not Himself. Our expressions of thankfulness and worship are both spontaneous and intentional if we are striving to live our Christian life as God intends and calls us to.
Joy is a word that for me captures this spontaneous reaction and intentional action of thankfulness and worship. This time of year we especially sing about joy in our seasonal worship songs, songs like Joy to the World and Joyful, Joyful. But do we have a clear idea, a biblically-based understanding of what joy is and how joy is to be a part of our everyday existence as a Christ-follower? And what can I do to help myself live more joyously? 
Consulting a good biblical dictionary brings clarity that joy is “closely related to gladness and happiness, although joy is more a state of being than an emotion; a result of choice. Having joy is part of the experience of being a Christian.”
Scripture tells us that joy is a fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22–23), which means our joy as Christians is not “natural”, but supernatural. It is a pervasive and firmly established sense of well being that transcends our circumstances, and instead is derived from and causes us to focus on the source of our joy – namely our relationship with God made possible by Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. Our joy is an appropriate response, intentional and spontaneous, to the life God has given us as he lives in us and leads us in paths of righteousness (Ps. 16:11, Ps. 23).
Further, as Christians, we should not only experience supernatural joy, but we are told by Jesus that joy should be pervasive in our lives (Jn. 15:11, 16:22, 17:13). Jesus predominate preaching and teaching was about the Kingdom of God being at hand or inaugurated with his coming, and Paul tells us "the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17).
I am learning that I can be intentional about cultivating joy in my life – that pervasive and firmly established sense of well being that transcends my circumstances. You can find what I have found here:
Rom. 12:2, Phil 4:8 and Col. 13:1-17. Meditating upon these truths can help every Christian have a
year-round life of increasing joy. 
Doug Wright

1. Heyink, B. (2016). Joy. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Entering into the holiday season is an opportunity to reflect on the past year, consider what we have learned, how we have changed, and how God has grown us. As I look back, I am thankful for many things as I see marks of God’s faithfulness. But I also see some intensely dark moments that I did not ask for, nor could I have predicted. They were invasions that came fast and furious and intruded on what I thought my comfortable, happy life should be like. I felt attacked and even betrayed that these invasions were allowed by God. I looked up the definition of invasion. It means, “to enter with an intrusive effect”. Yes! This is exactly how I felt! The suffering was great and the attacks were intrusive. I spent a good deal of my time praying, pleading with God to make the invasions go away. I fought to make things right, often with a sense of hopelessness. Sometimes it was all I could do to lift my eyes and continue to believe God was with me; that he was in control and that he cared.

But in the last few weeks, I actually heard this word “invasion” used in a way I never had before. My dear friend, Pastor Kent Kloter sharing with me a brief moment in his walk with the Lord and he mentioned “God’s invading Grace”. I heard another godly man praying that God would invade the hearts of his people with his love and compassion. You see, another definition for invade is to “enter in so as to subjugate or occupy”. I confess I spent much of this last year focusing on the invasions that were coming at us like an army (envision that last battle scene from “The Lord of the Rings”) and forgetting that I serve the Commander of the greatest army and my great God wants to invade and occupy every part of my life. Often that means I must come to the very end of myself in order to let him in to the darkest crevices of my heart.

Christmas allows us to be reminded again of how Christ came as an infant to invade this dark world with his light and sacrificing love. Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” For some, their darkness is foolishness and self-living and for others, their darkness is suffocating and crushing pain. Christ came to give us hope and lift us out of that darkness into his marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). He wants to invade your heart - to enter in so he can occupy the darkest and loneliest parts of your life. He wanted to invade my selfish and prideful, controlling spirit. I am thankful for his incredible patience, and I am praying for his invasion in the hearts of his people and in the ones who still need to be rescued.

Janet Leman

Please Pray for Peoria Rescue Ministries

Here are some ways that you can be praying for Peoria Rescue Ministries as they help the homeless:

  1. Pray for our residents and guests – that God would be Emmanuel to them this Christmas season. The Holiday season can be very challenging for our residents and guests as they struggle with past family conflicts, memories, and emotions. So please pray that they feel welcomed here and can have a sense of family and belonging and most importantly come to know the King of Christmas
  2. Please pray for our new 1212 Community House. 1212 Community House is a new Transitional facility and program for men who have graduated from our Residential Programs. We have applied for a Grant that we will hear if we are to receive it on December 18th. Please pray that God would grant us a favor and that we would receive the grant which would provide a significant amount of the funding necessary to renovate the building.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Please Pray for the Custers

Here are some ways that you can be praying for the Custers as they help to plant churches:
  1. Pray that there will be fruit from the 6 talks we gave at a training for Asia workers from another mission Dec. 5-11. Topics, among others, included Lessons Learned from our 40 years in missions, Thriving Overseas and Being in Missions for the Long Haul. Time was also spent in individual conversations, answering questions from young moms and young leaders, and speaking to the men and women in separate sessions. Our desire is that these workers will be encouraged to stick with it in their ministries, not giving up in discouragement, and be willing to sacrifice and deal with many challenges for the cause of reaching those without Christ.
  2. Pray for "Together in Hope", the spiritual life conference for our personnel in Europe and the Middle East, that they will come away refreshed and encouraged for continued ministry. Our son, Andi and Jen, will be ministering to the youth; our daughter, Katrina, who serves at Black Forest Academy in Germany will be an attendee; and we will be representing WorldVenture.
  3. January 24-26 is the next Discover WorldVenture Weekend to which those interested in missions with us will be invited. Pray that God will bring the right people and then give them direction in their next steps to pursue.
  4. Three families have their support and are ready to deploy to Ireland but are awaiting visas; one couple has been denied twice so please pray that God will have the victory if He still desires them to serve in this very spiritually needy country.
  5. Pray for wisdom for the WorldVenture leadership team as they wrestle with how best to finance and do missions as well as care for those involved around the world.

A Prayer of Thanks for the Forgiveness of Sins

(Based on 1 John 1:8-2:2)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin,
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins,
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.                                                                                  

Lord, my heart is so ugly. I have sinned against You so much, continually, every day, every moment -
sometimes without fully realizing it, sometimes in outright open rebellion against You. I deserve Your
anger and Your condemnation. Even my grief at my sin is so contaminated by self-focus. I'm more upset
about my wounded pride and failed plans than I am that I have hurt and grieved You, my heavenly Father.
I can't even repent without Your grace. (2 Tim. 2:25)

Thank you, Lord, that You are gracious and merciful and that there is abundant pardon when I turn from
sin. (Isa. 55:7)

Thank you that You have provided a way to deal with my sin so I can have fellowship with You. 

Thank you, Lord, that when I confess my sins, You are faithful to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from
all unrighteousness. You have promised to remove my sins as far as the east is from the west. (Ps. 103:12)
You have promised to cleanse me and wash me white as snow even though my sins are as scarlet.
(Isa.1:18) Every promise of Yours to me is "Yes" in Jesus. (2 Cor. 1:20)

Thank you, Lord, that You made a way to forgive me even though you are righteous and cannot overlook
sin. You cannot compromise your holiness, but in Your glorious grace, You sent Your Beloved Son to
provide payment for my sin. Because of Christ's death, You can be both just and my justifier because I
have faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:26) You are righteous and just to forgive me. That is a glorious, impossible,
unbelievable truth apart from Your grace and power and wisdom.

Thank you, Lord, that when I sin, I have an advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous, pleading for me.
When the Accuser of the brethren brings his accusations against me (Rev. 12:10), Jesus defends me
continually, saying, "The price for this sin has been paid for in full. This one is eternally loved and
accepted by the Father in Me." Even when my own conscience condemns me, my Helper reminds me
through the Word that Jesus my Advocate has washed me clean and is always interceding for me.

Thank you, Lord, that Christ is the propitiation for my sins. He has satisfied the demands that Your
holiness requires. Your wrath has been poured out on Jesus. There is none left for me. I could not stand
before Your wrath. I would be too afraid to approach You to ask for forgiveness and cleansing if I had to
face Your anger every time I sinned.

Thank you, Lord, for Jesus Christ the righteous. His perfect righteousness lived out in daily obedience,
qualified Him to be the sacrifice for my sin. Thank you that He took my sin on Himself, and thank you
that He gave me His perfect righteousness. Without it, I would hide from You covered in my own filthy
garments of sin and shame. Clothed in His perfect righteousness, when I sin, I can boldly approach
Your throne of grace to find the comfort of forgiveness and the strength to faithfully pursue holiness.

Thank you, Lord, for the cleansing blood of Jesus and the forgiveness it purchased for me. (Eph. 1:7)

Kim Anderson

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Encouraging the Downtrodden

I have had some hard days in the last few years. I don’t say this for sympathy. I have had godly encouragement along the way. I say this so that you can know how I was best ministered to in the midst of dark times. Although these three expressions of love are not an exhaustive list, I hope this will help you as you consider listening, speaking to, and loving those dealing with extreme sadness and depression. 

1-Speak Gently-
Often times a person struggling with depression is already pondering their own failures and are dwelling on the hard circumstances they are facing. A gentle word to them is a good and best approach. It helps the person be able to hear biblical truth. Encouraging the person with what he or she means to you or how you are thankful for your relationship are great and gentle ways to show care. Proverbs 15:1 - A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (ESV)

2-Speak Confessionally-
Since a depressed person is often struggling with an overwhelming sadness from their failures, sin, or the consequences of their sin, speaking confessionally or being willing to share your own faults and how you lean into Jesus and His grace can be a great help to your friend. James 5:16 - Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

3-Speak Biblically-
A deeply sad person often has trouble thinking biblically. One’s mind can often default to “I know what is true, but I don’t care.” This is a hopeless place to be. Listen well and help your friend hear the truth by being gentle and confessional. Lift your friend’s eyes to the gospel that has already brought peace to our biggest problem (our sin) and can allow us to find peace during our other problems. Proverbs 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (ESV) Colossians 1:19-20 - For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV) 

This quote from Charles Spurgeon resonated within me: "I know, perhaps as well as anyone, what depression means, and what it is to feel myself sinking lower and lower. Yet at the worst, when I reach the lowest depths, I have an inward peace which no pain or depression
 can in the least disturb. Trusting in Jesus Christ my Savior, there is still a blessed quietness in the deep caverns of my soul."

Take care,
Pastor Ben