It Depends on How You Look at Your Circumstances

A man pulled into a gas station on the outskirts of town. As he filled his tank, he remarked to the attendant, “I’ve just accepted a job in town. I’ve never been in this part of the country. What are the people like?”

“What are the people like where you came from?” the attendant asked.

“Not so nice…in fact, they can be quite rude,” the man replied.
The attendant shook his head. “Well, I’m afraid you’ll find the people in this town the same way.”

Just then another car pulled into the station. “Excuse me,” the driver called out. “I’m just moving to this area. Is it nice here?”
“Was it nice where you came from?” the attendant inquired.

“Oh, yes! I came from a great place. The people were friendly, and I hated to leave.”

“Well, you’ll find the same to be true of this town.”

“Thanks!” yelled the driver as he pulled away.

“So what is this town really like?” asked the first man, now irritated with the attendant’s conflicting reports.

The attendant just shrugged his shoulders. “It’s all a matter of perception. You’ll find things to be just the way you think they are.”

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GIBM Letters 2018

Stevens to Honduras
January-February 2018

Dear Friends,

Hello to our co-laborers from the country of Honduras. We had a nice time visiting with our family in the United States for a short period during the month of December, and we returned to Honduras a few days before the New Year. Before I forget, we want to thank all of those who gave an extra offering for Christmas to our family. That was such a blessing for which we truly are grateful. In regards to our ministry here in Honduras, we have witnessed the Lord’s hand and blessing in the following ways:

*This past Saturday, February 3, we had our first monthly men’s meeting for this New Year in Quebrada de Lajas. I have seen the men who have faithfully attended these meetings all last year become much more encouraged, and challenged regarding their responsibilities as men in their churches. The Lord has used the singing, the fellowship, and especially the preaching to draw us men closer to God, and to one another. After the preaching, one of the national pastors directs a competition between the men in the different churches from a different book of the Bible that we have studied in advance before each meeting. The men have really enjoyed that time of competition and fellowship. Please continue to pray that God will continue to use these meetings as a means of strengthening our Independent Baptist Churches here.

*For about three years now my wife Arlen has been involved in a monthly meeting for the young teenage girls in our Baptist Churches called “The daughters of the Great King” (Hijas del Gran Rey). This meeting was first started by missionary Debbie Lane and another pastor’s wife here a number of years ago. The focus and goal of this meeting is to instruct these young girls about keeping themselves pure before God, and for their future husbands. My wife had the privilege a week ago of leading a girl named Janely to the Lord who attended this meeting for the first time. Please pray that many of these young girls would get saved, and by following the Lord avoid getting pregnant out of wedlock, which is obviously not God’s will, and sadly becoming an epidemic in this country.

*Brother Kevin and his wife Darlin are the couple that I mentioned in our last letter. They have been serving with us in the church in Quebrada de Lajas for about three months now, and I have been amazed at how the congregation has received them so quickly. Darlin has been teaching the children’s Sunday school class and has built up a fairly large attendance, while Kevin has been handling most of the preaching in the church. This couple loves God, and they want to serve him. My wife and I are not in Quebrada de Lajas as often now, because having Kevin and Darlin has allowed us to focus more on the community of Rodeo. I taught Kevin how to drive a stick shift, and we allow his family to use our small pickup truck most of the time so that they can get back and forth from their home to the church building in Quebrada de Lajas. We are happy to do that, but our family of five is in great need of a four-wheel drive truck that is at least a cab and a half. If you saw the way that we travel to Rodeo every Sunday morning with all five of us in the front of our small single cab truck, then you would understand. We have been able to manage in the past, but as our children are getting bigger, it is becoming much more difficult. Please pray with us as we trust the Lord to provide for this need.

*Also, we are starting to go to the new community that I mentioned in our last letter called Zacate Blanco, Yamaranguila. Our desire is to evangelize this community and find a family that would allow us to begin conducting regular services in their home. Please pray for this new endeavor.

*Please keep Brother Noel Yanes and his family in your prayers. For some time now he has been having great difficulty with one particular member in the church, and according to Brother Noel it has become so difficult for him, that he is strongly considering leaving the community of Quebrada de Lajas. He and his family have been with us in Quebrada de Lajas for almost six years now, and we love them, and would hate to see them leave. So please pray that God will deal with hearts, and that this could be straightened out the right way.

Finally, our family took our first furlough in 2014, and we are beginning to prepare for our next furlough in January 2019. I will begin calling pastors to schedule meetings soon, so if you are a supporting church that would like us to come and report during the time schedule that I will put below, then please contact me by email at: or by phone at (215) 621-9014. We are not opposed to visiting new churches if anyone is interested, but our first priority of course is to visit as many supporting churches that we can. Here is the pending schedule for 2019:

*January and February 2019: California and Arizona.
*March and April 2019: Texas
*May 2019: Oklahoma and Missouri
*June 2019: Indiana and Ohio

(Note): We are willing to schedule meetings with churches in the Northeast during late November and December 2018, or in July 2019 if anyone would like to have us during those times. Lord willing, we would leave the US to come back to Honduras in August 2019. Thank you in advance for considering having us come to report to your church.

Because Christ is Risen (I Cor. 15: 19-20)
Jason, Arlen, Micaiah, Jeremiah, and Mary Ellen

Javiers to Philipines
February 2018

Dear Pastor and Praying Church,

The month of January has been full of blessings. As you may know Joy Independent Baptist Church (JoyIBC) started on Christmas eve morning. Its been almost two months and so much has happened. God is surely at work here. In January alone we saw 7 people received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The church has grown to a regular attendance of around 45 in January, now in February we have grown to 60. We started an adult and children’s Sunday school hour. In February we saw 6 more saved. We will be having a baptism service this coming Friday the 16th if weather permits. There are 10 scheduled to be baptized. God has answered our prayer for an instrumentalist. Two young men joined the church with desire to provide accompaniment for the song service.. We now have two young men who play guitar.

The church is growing so fast that we have quickly outgrown the function space at the hotel. We now have some options-rent a bigger room from the hotel which could raise the rent by $40-50 a week, or find a more permanent space that will most likely be smaller because of city costs. But we do have a land lot that we are making payments on. The owner has given us permission to go ahead and start building there. Our desire is to begin with just a cement slab and a roof just so that we have a space large enough to meet in. we will build a small hut for the children’s church. After that we will slowly build the rest of the frame as we can. We have a sound system already, a piano and a guitar, and a projector that God has provided. So once we put down a slab all we need are chairs and a pulpit.

We have started a youth outreach in a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. There are so many teens and children that want to have bible study there. We found a small hut and lot there for sale ($140) we are praying and considering purchasing it for the purpose of a youth center and meeting place for Saturday Bible clubs. We may also use it to meet in on Sunday nights until we can build on our large lot. Sunday nights are still low in numbers, not like Sunday morning, so it would suffice for Sunday night. It would mean that we meet in the city on Sunday morning, in the neighborhood Sunday night, and in our house on Wednesday night. Please pray for us as all this gets sorted and settled during the progress of the church.

This past week we also started doing a Saturday morning prayer breakfast with the church. We had 14 teenagers and young adults show up at 7 am to pray together and have devotion. We were so blessed to see the enthusiasm.

As I said, God is surely at work here. In fact, He is working so fast that we are kind of like the small child trying to keep up with the fast paced father; but so happy to do it. We are humbled and elated to be part of what He is doing. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. We cannot wait to see what He will do in the coming months, in all of 2018.

Prayer Requests:
Please pray specifically for the building of a meeting space on the lot and for youth outreach.

Also pray for Elizabeth Pigott. She is someone who was saved in October but has since turned back to her old ways dabbling in the occult.

Pray for all the new believers as they learn and grow in the Lord
Pray for Taylor as she is still struggling to become fluent in Tagalog

Pray for someone trained and willing to teach adult Sunday school so that I may teach the childrens’ Sunday school hour. Taylor will then be able to keep littles occupied.

In Christ,
Lem and Taylor Javier

Parks to Korea
January 2018

Dear Pastors and Friends,

Back to S. Korea and the Ministries.
Thanks to your prayers and to the grace of our God, Jae and I made to S. Korea safe and sound on the 6th of Dec. as scheduled. We are very grateful for all the prayers, love and kindness of the churches we have visited and of our supporting churches. Even though we had many good places to stay during our furlough travel, we are happy to be back to our own bed now. Jae and I praise the Lord for His goodness upon us for the last 10 months in the States.

Nine Salvation in the Chinese Church.
The Lord has been blessing and protecting our ministries while we were away. It was such great blessing to see the Chinese people again in our Chinese ministry in Pyungtaek City. There were some new people whom we have not met before. For 3 weeks in December, I preached messages on “Why Jesus?” and on the Saturday before Christmas, I gave an invitation for them to make a decision about the Lord and nine precious people accepted the Lord Jesus as their personal savior. Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace to save sinners through the faith in Jesus our Lord! We are going to try to start discipleship course as soon as possible in 2018.

Blessing to See the Sweet People in Sejong Church again.
Sejong Church has been doing well under the leadership of Pastor Min. We had wonderful time of reunion and had wonderful Christmas program together. The church is growing and we need a bigger place to meet. We are praying that the Lord would allow us to have a new place in 2018.

Prayer Requests.
1) New worker in Chinese Church. Brother Liu wanted to return to China to help his home church and had the last service with us on the Christmas Sunday. There is a Korean couple who were deported from China recently. They came to see our work on Christmas Sunday, but they are not very fluent in speaking Chinese. They can be help but I’d need another interpreter to preach. Please pray for us for wisdom and we are asking God to send us a Fundamental Baptist Chinese man.

2) A house for our settling down. Since we came to S. Korea in 2013, we already had moved twice and we will have to move in April of 2018 again. Most of the rent contract is for two years and at the end of the contract, the rent or key money would be raised for a new contract. It is difficult to move in every other year and it’s costly also. We are praying the Lord to allow us to have a humble house in a country side around Sejong City. Please pray that we would find an affordable house to purchase so that we won’t have to move every so often.

We are very excited to be back to S. Korea for our second term of missionary work. Thank you again for all your love, prayers and faithful supports. May the Lord richly bless you as you endeavor to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2018 and a HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

Your co-workers in S. Korea,
Benjamin and Jae Park
“Unto the uttermost part of the Earth, Unto the end of the World!”

Carneys to Hungary
January 2018

Dear Praying Friends,

Praise the Lord and thank you for starting our new year with your generous offerings! In my last letter I reported on the need to remodel our church building on Faraktar Street in Debrecen. This last month we received more than $7000 towards this project! We still need to raise about $14,000, but I was happy to see 1/3
of the need come in. The most pressing need is the part of the project that is actually causing the damage, which is the leaking foundation and broken asphalt that surrounds the building. With these funds we can begin the repair and stop the on-going damage. I am certain that some of our faithful supporters would love to meet
this need completely, but are unable to give towards this project. We covet your prayers. We know that God is able and we are trusting in Him. Please pray that we can raise all the funds from home and abroad. Our theme for 2018 is, “We can do all things through Christ!” Philippians 4:13.

We had good services for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Both of our
churches had good crowds and we had the opportunity to share the gospel with first time visitors. We celebrated the birth of the Saviour on the 24th at Faraktar, and on the 25th we had a Christmas morning service at Miklos Street. Both churches had full services.

One pleasant surprise was 8 first time visitors to our New Year’s Eve services! We had a watchnight type meeting with several preaching and then we brought in the New Year with Prayer.

Five of our first time visitors were Pakistani students from the University that are Muslims. Three of them said this is the first time they had ever been in a Christian church. We also had one student from Jordan and two from Kenya. Everyone was loved, fed, encouraged and heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. As foreigners attending the University, we have a rare opportunity to give the gospel to some these young people for the first time. Pray, Pray,
Pray, that God will open their eyes to the truth! We also had our neighbor from across the street stop my wife and ask her if she had some literature about our church; why absolutely yes! Please pray for her. We have more information ready for her the next time we meet. We are looking forward to following up with what she thought. Pray for another opportunity. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Martins Soul Winning Seminars
January 2018
Some of my hero’s in this life are “normal” church members. Maybe not apreacher, or a deacon, or an evangelist, or a church officer, but a born again child of God. In their lives you can see genuine Christianity. My Father, give us more like them; faithful, giving, looking for ways to serve, loving the Lord, and seeking the lost for Christ. Folks who stand for “the right”, support and love their pastor, are faithful to witness and faithful to the “House of God”.

Statistics from 2016/2017
2016 2017
Churches attended – 77 24
Seminars conducted – 18 16
Persons saved in the Seminars – 25+
Bible conferences preached – 13 10
Revivals – 4 11
Mission conferences – 4 9
We didn’t keep count of the lost people to whom we personally witness, or the lost people who are saved because of our witness. The Lord knows, but we always wish the number was greater. The Lord seems to add churches to our agenda each year, for which we are very grateful.

December Was a Time of Rest
December 3rd and 10th – we scheduled to be in several churches, but they were cancelled at the last minute. Hoping to reschedule them for next year.

December 13th I made a great sacrifice. Joy had to go to the Post Office (including standing in line), and mail all the packages and envelopes for Christmas. I took her to the Post Office instead of going hunting. She is certainly worth it!

December 17th we were at Temple Baptist Church in Stafford, Texas. It was an 8 ½ hour drive which we sought to do without hunting deer with our car. In Louisiana, one buck literally came within inches of dying. I preached that Sunday morning and we had 2 young men saved. Bro. Jesse Morton is the pastor of the church. He grew up one block from, and was saved at, Temple Baptist Church. For the PM service we attended Rose Ave. Baptist Church in Breckenridge, TX. Bro. Russel Brock is the pastor of the church. This evening was their Children’s Christmas Program. We had the pleasure of teaching a Witnessing Seminar 2½ years ago when the church was first reopened. It was a great pleasure to see what the Lord is doing. They had 5 saved that Sunday Morning.

December 20 I preached the Wednesday evening service for Bro. Harold Wells at Landmark Baptist Church in Red Oak, Texas. This is another of our supporting churches that have been a tremendous blessing through the years. We have the privilege of returning each year to thank the church. Caleb Wells, the son of Pastor Harold Wells of Landmark Baptist Church, believes he will be the next pastor of Landmark Baptist Church. He sat down beside me and said, “Do you know you have hair growing out of your nose?” I love the honesty of children. I replied, “Please go tell my wife, cause she takes care of that”. Remembering those men who prayed for my children, I’m trying to pray more of God on him than he can ever get out from under. Amen.

December 24th we visited Central Park Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas, where Bro. Delbert White is the pastor. This is another of our supporting churches. Sunday morning I had the opportunity to thank the church for their prayer and support and Sunday evening we attended their candlelight service which included testimonies and candle lighting.

December 31st we were at our home church, Southside Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Cold and somewhat icy outside, but spiritually warm inside.

Planning for Next Year!!!:
Several Pastors have expressed an interest in hosting a Seminar in 2018. If we can help with a Seminar, Missions Conference, preach a revival, or supply in the coming year, please contact us at your earliest convenience and we will work through to the best date.
January is “Pretty well” Empty Right Now!

January 8th is the Georgia/Alabama Pastors Conference at New Life Baptist Church in Dallas, Georgia.

A Happy and Grace Filled New Year To You and Yours! May your New Year be filled with the blessings of God as you seek the “Blesser” who gives all blessings to His children.

February 2018
When I was pastoring, there were several young preachers in the church. One Sunday they sought to rebuke the pastor because they didn’t “have any place to preach”. My reply was, “are there any street corners in town? If you have preach in you, you have a multitude of places to preach, as well as the Court House Square every Saturday.” Last Friday night I mentioned to the Lord that I had no place to preach that weekend. On Saturday morning He awakened me. and told me to go preach on the sidewalk in front of the jail in downtown Vicksburg at 12:00 noon. Only one man stopped his car to listen for a few minutes. It was trying to rain so hardly anyone else came by. Nobody got saved. Essentially, as far as I know, nothing happened. But I had the joy of knowing I obeyed God. That’s what it is really all about isn’t it? Just obeying God.

The Days of January Were Delightful:
January 7th we had the privilege of attending Concord Baptist Church in Fairmount, Georgia. Bro. Stinnett Ballew was the preacher of the week-long Missions Conference as they underwrote their Faith Promise giving for 2018. Bro. Sammy Allen has been the pastor of this great church, and the moderator for Faith Baptist Camp for many years. Bro. Randy Southerland has been called as the assistant pastor. Their Faith Promise giving for 2018 is over $140,000.
For the p.m. service we attended Nellie Head Memorial Baptist Church in Tunnel Head, Georgia where Bro. Eddie Killian is the pastor. Please pray as we seek a date with Bro. Killian about a Witnessing Seminar.

January 14th we were at home at our sending church, Southside Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

January 19th we traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to work a weekend with Bro. Terry Rodgers at Terrytown Family Baptist Church; a church for homeless people. The team included Evangelist Jamie Hilley and his wife Donna, five folks from Souls Harbor Baptist Church in Roanoke, Alabama, and Joy and I. What a blessing on Saturday as we gave away clothes, hygiene packs, snack packs, New Testaments and tracts, and witnessed to many people. On Sunday we started early (6:00 am) at the church getting everything ready to feed the people breakfast and arrange the VFW hall for the services. I taught Sunday School and Bro. Hilley preached the service. We had several saved (I got to lead Bro. Randy to the Lord), and finished out the day with another clothes and pack distribution. Our church will be going back several times a year, leading teams to witness to the homeless, giving our people a chance to be a missionary, & helping Bro. Rodgers.

January 28th we were home helping at our home church and I had the opportunity to direct a young man to the foot of the Cross and see him saved.

NOTE: I am completing the final form of the teaching notes on the Book of Romans, placing them in book format. It will be 72 pages. If you would like a copy, please let me know.

The Days of February should be Wonderful:
We will see how the Lord fills up February, we only have one appointment thus far February 12 – Alabama/Georgia Pastors Conference, Ridge Road Baptist Church, Hiram, Georgia.

Thank you so much for all your prayer and support. It enables us to go, and to go safely.
Bro. Bob

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Why People Don’t Give to Missions?

Ladies, I will speaking at a Faith Promise Conference next week. Here’s a devotion I have prepared. I hope it is a blessing for you, and you might be able to use it in your church.

Fifty two years ago my husband and I began tithing. We learned that tithing meant giving the first ten percent of our gross resources back to God. We understood that according to the Bible, our first fruits, the tithe (ten percent), was the amount that we gave directly to the Lord to acknowledge His ownership and stewardship over our lives.

Through the years, as we listened to pastors and teachers teach principles of good stewardship, we began to understand that everything we own belongs to God, and we are to be faithful stewards of everything He gives us.

A few years after we were saved, we attended our first Faith Promise Conference. As baby Christians, we made our first Faith Promise commitment of $5.00 a week. We understood that our Faith Promise Offering was not part of our tithe, but this was to be an amount above our tithes. Every year since that first conference, we have increased our Faith Promise commitments. Several years ago, we struggled with the amount that we should be giving to missions. We both prayed about it, and the Lord gave us peace about giving a designated amount for each year that we have been saved.

Many Christians fail to see God miraculously provide for them because they have never been taught the spiritual disciplines of living by faith and being good stewards of all their resources.

Today one of the great sins of American Christians is consumerism. While others around the world are dying without Christ, Americans are buying things they want, but they do not need. People will cut corners in order to get the best house, the biggest toy or the fullest bank account. Christians who joyfully tithe and give sacrificial offerings are very rare today.

Isaiah had some convicting things for me to hear. Although the following scripture is directed specifically at the women of Israel, it can also apply to us today.

Isaiah 3:16-26 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

These women were more concerned about their…earrings, bracelets, veils, tiaras, head dresses, anklets, sashes, shawls, perfume bottles, charms, signet rings, nose rings, fine robes, capes, cloaks, purses, mirrors, and linen garments…than about their God.

God told them, “Because you are concerned about these things, I will send diseases as punishment for your pride and lewdness”.

Could He be telling us, “I am sending poverty and distress to you because you care more about your clothes, your shoes, your purses, and your jewelry than you care about Me?”

There are many reasons that people don’t give to missions today. If you look at statistics, people spend more money on fast food, tobacco products, candy, pets, toys, games, entertainment, cable bills, movies, movie rental, and cell phones than they do giving to missions.

What are some of the reasons Christian fail to give to Missions?

1. They don’t realize how important it is to their faithfulness in Christian walk.
2. They don’t realize that it’s a blessing to give and delivers them from selfishness.
3. They don’t realize how essential it is to their happiness and holiness.
4. They believe that all they have belongs to themselves. They earned it. They worked hard, studied hard in school and applied themselves in order to prosper. What they fail to realize is that God gave them the power to make wealth, the brains to learn, the training and motivation to work hard. (Duet 8:17-18)
5. They have a lack of faith and think they can’t afford to give.
6. They really don’t love the Lord! You can tell how much someone is loved by how much someone else is willing to spend on them.

Of course, we should never give out of guilt, but we should give by grace. Giving hearts start when we comprehend how much Jesus loved us. He traded heaven and its glorious perfection for this earth, confined to a human body to experience a painful crucifixion. Only when we fully understand this fact will our hearts be changed into giving hearts. Truly grace will motivate our giving.

When the Macedonians Christians heard about a need, their thinking was so saturated with the thought of Christ becoming poor for them that they desperately pleaded for the privilege to give.

God has implanted in every believer a desire to give. Some respond and some don’t. Some are afraid to give because they are afraid they won’t have enough…afraid they will have to give up something that they enjoy.

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Sunday School Teacher’s Ideas

I was looking through my files this week and came across some great notes I took when I was in college. Hope these notes help you.

1. Provoke your student’s interest
• Use a variety of methods in teaching
• Use the cleverest way possible to present lessons.
• Use drama to make story effective (Jesus girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples)
• Don’t read from manual or book
• Make your material exciting
• Use object lessons (Jesus did) He showed Himself as the Bread of Life, As the Good Shepherd…

2. Get ideas by exploring books
• Visual Aid Encyclopedia, Eleanor Done, Regal Books
• Roy Garn, The Magical Power of Emotional Appeal
• Ethel Barret, Storytelling Made Easy
• Marie Chapman, Yelling for Help
• Herman Hornell, Kregal; Teaching Techniques of Jesus
• Howard Hendricks, The Seven Laws of Teaching
• Cheryl Fawcett, Understanding People: Ministry To All Stages of Life

3. Don’t use the same method all the time…”Variety is Spice of Life”. Use things that:
• Create an interest and a desire to know.
• Create a need for the Bible to have real value for their lives.
• Teach them how they can forgive others when they have offended them.
• Teach them how their tongues can keep them from getting me into trouble and how to get victory in their lives.
• Develop within them a curiosity about their souls, their purpose of life, and their lives beyond death.
• Teach them how to praise and encourage others.
• Teach them the dangers of being critical of others.

4. Teacher must realize how important their teaching techniques and personalities are. (Example: Jerry was a student who had not really been interested in Sunday school until promotion day…he got a new teacher who showed a real interest in him and the class. Because of this new teacher, the student began getting excited about the Lord, His Word, and his service for the Lord.)

• Rewards are important…Jesus offered heaven…Paul pressed on toward the prize.
• Don’t use the same old method year after year. (We remember 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we see, 70% of what we say, and 90% of what we do).
• Send “Take home papers” with the students.
• Ask thought provoking questions.
• Tell part of the details of the story without telling the characters in the story.
• Use a recorded version, complete with sound effects.
• Sometimes taste can be introduced like a food in the story (pomegranates, figs).
• Continued story (call on one student to continue, then he calls on another).
• Nose; fragrance of God’s flowers; distinguish them from artificial ones.

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2018 Goals for Sunday School Teachers

2018 is a new year. As teachers, it’s important to shepherd the students you have in your classes. Let’s do our very best this year to keep in contact with visitors and those who attend every week.

Here are a few suggestions to help you shepherd your students.

1. Send them birthday, friendship, and encouragement cards.

2. Visit their school programs.

3. Take their pictures and post them in classroom.

4. Take them on visitation with you.

5. Have a birthday party once a month and celebrate the ones who have a birthday that month. Parties can be at church, at home, or at pizza parlor.

6. Help students MEMORIZE Scriptures. Reward them for their achievements and announce their achievements in services.

8. Call them each week just to keep in touch with them.

9. Ask them to help straighten up your class area before and/or after class; reward them for their efforts.

10. Remember Time = LOVE.

11. Take one at a time to McDonalds to get to know about him and his interests.

12. Let the achievers decorate your class room as a reward/incentive.

Sunday School teachers have the opportunity to be the GREATEST INFLUENCE in a child’s life outside of their own parents. Remember you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

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Christmas Devotion

Dear Ladies: I prepared this devotion a few years ago. Feel free to use it.

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is here again… of Christmas. Is it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, turkey dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, and memories of the music on the radios and in the stores that we hear…but will it really seem like Christmas for everyone.

For some people this year will be a time of sorrow because they might have lost someone who was very dear to them. For others, this will be a miserable time because they don’t have money to buy gifts for their family. Yet for others, it will be a gloomy time for many sons and daughters who are serving in the military in a far-away place and wishing they were home.

If people only think that Christmas is gifts, lights, cards, snow, and memories, they will be sadly disillusioned and disappointed if they don’t experience those things.

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Hundreds of years after Isaiah died, his prophecy was fulfilled through Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine Matthew’s excitement when he wrote, Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The people who lived during Isaiah’s time and Matthew’s time experienced many of the same things we are experiencing today…political upheaval, natural disasters, and failed leadership. There are preachers and godly Christians still trying to tell people about a Messiah who will give them peace, but just like people who lived during the Old Testament and New Testament periods, people today rebel and don’t want God telling them what to do. Malachi 3:12-16

But the prophets faithfully proclaimed God’s words. Those who listened and believed were encouraged. They knew that no matter how bad things got, God had a plan. In the prophecies, they saw God’s sovereignty and His faithfulness. They understood that one day God would send a child to save them from their sins.

As we read the Bible today, it’s like we’re standing on the top of a mountain looking down at the past and the future of God’s people. We are able to see God’s plan unfolding right before our eyes.

1. Wars and rumors of wars. (Matthew 24:6,7) Many countries are building up massive arsenals of conventional and nuclear weapons. In addition to potential nuclear war, we have war we face every day with terrorists.

2. Famines, Pestilence, Earthquakes (Matthew 24:7,8) And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Food supplies are low in many countries because of floods and droughts. Infectious diseases are spreading faster around the globe than ever before. Earthquakes are increasing everywhere.

3. Deceivers who claim to follow Jesus…” Mt. 24:4,5 At the end of the Church Age, many people will be teaching things that are not consistent with the Bible and will deceive many. Churches are falling away from sound Biblical teachings. The goal of most churches today is to increase church attendance. This is put ahead of the authority of the Bible. The Emerging Church has become so pervasive that most of them tolerate abortion (murder), fornication (premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality) and almost any other violation of God’s law

4. People of Israel return to their land…Amos 9:13-15 The LORD tells His people … I will bring my people back to My land from other nations…they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards…they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them. (Ezekiel 37:21,22)

During the last 130 years Jews from 108 nations have migrated to the land of Israel. Israel has successfully defended itself against numerous Arab attacks. It has turned a desert into an agricultural success, and its technology industry exports cutting edge innovations. Today, Israel’s population is over 7 million. In 2018, it will celebrate its 70th anniversary…many of her Arab neighbors hate Israel and want to “wipe it her the map”.

5. Increased wickedness and love of pleasure. (Matthew 24:12) Today people are living primarily for themselves and their own happiness. The idea of denying themselves, taking up their crosses daily and following Jesus (Luke 9:23) is a foreign concept. What TV and movies show as “normal” has affected our values. Couples live together outside marriage. This leads to unwanted pregnancies and blood sacrifice (murder) of millions of innocent, helpless children by abortion.

6. Strong delusion…God will send a strong delusion and people will believe lies. (2 Th. 2:11)

The primary focus of the deception is through the media (the Prince of the Power of the Air) Deceptive ideas promoted on TV and movies keep people from believing the Gospel. The media lulls many people into a false sense of right and wrong.

7. One world government… Daniel 2:40. God will send a strong delusion. Most religions expect a savior or a man who will bring world peace, justice, and unity. Muslims are waiting for the Mahdi or the 12th Imam. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated that his mandate is to pave the way for the coming of this Islamic messiah. Buddhists are waiting for the Buddha of compassion, Maitreya, or a world teacher and unifier, the 5th and coming Buddha of the present era. Hindus are waiting for their completer and savior, Kalki, the name of Vishnu in his tenth and last avatar. According to the Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions, “The tenth and last avatar has not yet appeared.

But what will happen? A false prophet will emerge to assist the world ruler and claim to be their savior. (Revelation 13:11-15)

8. Technology will control the world… Revelation 13:16-18) Today, think how you react when you lose your debit or credit cards…you panic! People will be convinced that it will be much safer to receive an implantable RFID chip or some form of high tech tattoo on the right hand or forehead than carry around cards or cash.

Because we see these things happening, we know God’s truth, and we understand His plan for the future, we should make this season even more special. Here are a few ideas to make this season more special.

• Avoid making this season commercial, expensive, hectic, pressured, impersonal, and materialistic.

• Spend time making memories with your families. It is sad that today many old traditions have been replaced with moneymaking events. Years ago it was more important to play games and sing with their families than to take them to sporting events or shopping trips to decorated malls.

• Don’t think you have to make Christmas an elaborate and expensive production. The world wants you to think that if you spend more and do more, you will get more satisfaction.

A survey was taken by talking with children, parents, and child specialists and the survey revealed that children really three basic things for Christmas:

1. Relaxed and loving time with the family. The greatest need of all children at Christmas–just like at any time of the year–is the assurance that they are very much wanted and loved by their parents.
2. Balanced attitude toward gifts. Watch any child plow through a huge stack of gifts on Christmas morning, and then look he will look around the room…it this all? He acts as if he has lost his best friend. Why? Because all his focus has been on getting gifts.
3. An evenly paced holiday season. Today, the commercial interests pack up their special decorations and holiday music on December 26 because there is no more chance to sell. One mother found her daughter crying in the closet on Christmas Day–just after her daughter had opened all the gifts that she had requested. The mother asked her daughter, “What’s the matter?” Her little girl replied, “If this is all there is to Christmas, why did I have to wait so long?”

Here are a few ideas to help make your Christmas more relaxed and evenly-paced.

Hold off doing important family traditions until a week or so before Christmas. Dec 10: Do not get your Christmas music out until Dec. 10.
Dec 15: Put a wreath on your front door
Dec 20: Put up your tree
Dec 25: Save your favorite traditions for this day

Strong family traditions are important because they give children the opportunity to do something they enjoy year after year. Believe it or not, they give children great comfort and security. When everything is their lives seem disrupted by the holiday season–school is out, their parents are extra-busy, and everyday routines are not the same…children enjoy having well-defined traditions to hold on to. Traditions let them know exactly how the season will unfold and bring back memories of past Christmases. Here are a few ideas.

1. First one out of bed puts on the Christmas music
2. Prepare the same holiday food your family really enjoys
3. Display your Christmas cards
4. Make your Christmas gifts
5. Play games, sing carols by candlelight, pray together, and just have fun!
6. Make a recording of each year activities. Have a child sing, play a song on the piano, or read a verse or quote a poem. Play recording back the next year.
7. Divide Christmas gifts by givers instead of receivers. One at a time each giver gets to take a gift to its receiver. This custom keeps the focus on giving instead of receiving.
8. Read Luke’s accounts of the Christmas story.
9. Request the name of a person in a nursing home without family or adopt a needy family.
10. On Jan 1 place your basket of Christmas cards on the table. Before or after each meal, a family member draws out a card and offers a prayer for that person or family. You could even drop a note to the family saying, “Thank you for your Christmas card. We read it today, March 6, and we prayed for you.
11. Be a witness to others by inviting adult friends and children’s friends to your home to share a December evening of dinner or dessert. Plan songs, games, and read Scripture. (To give others an example of Christ’s love and the atmosphere of love in your home)
12. Cut your own tree.
14. Hang Joy stockings during the month of December. Each family member puts his thoughts, prayers, and love notes in the “joy stockings”. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, pull the notes out and read them.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the wonder and beauty of Christ’s birth, I commit myself to the following:
1. To find people who are less fortunate than my immediate family and give to those who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways that presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

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Are We Living Intentionally?

Whether we are old or young, we all have to deal with our own character defects. It might be our bitterness, our selfishness, or our pride. When we were young, we tried to cover up those character defects with our makeup and clothes, our natural abilities, or our personalities. As we get older, those outward things fade away. If we have not sanctified those defects in our younger years, those defects will become more pronounced and visible during our senior years.

There are days when I see my own short comings, temptations, and struggles and wonder to myself…will I make it to the end of my life more sanctified than when I started?

I look around and see other pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who gave up living the Christian life. Because of selfishness, greed, and thoughts, “I deserve better than this.” They start searching outside their marriages, families, and ministries for easier and more prosperous lives…ultimately these women lose their ministries and testimonies.

Although I have my own temptations and struggles, what a joy it is to watch older pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who have stayed faithful into their senior years. Listening to their testimonies and seeing them stay faithful to the Lord all the way to the end is such an encouragement to me.

Ladies, if we don’t live intentionally, our days become weeks, our weeks become months, our months become years, and our years become decades…then before you know it…our lives are over.

We have all watched Christian women, who over the course of their lives, fail to get more spiritual. They become more narrow, more bitter, more selfish, more whiny, more fearful, and more petty. But Praise the Lord, I’ve seen other women, who over the course of their lives, become more mature, more godly, more gracious, more dependent on the Lord and His blessing on their lives.

This morning, let’s determine to live our lives intentionally. Let’s set our eyes on Christ and press on to become more like Him.

Our prayer today should be…“Lord, by Your grace, help us to be more godly and gracious as the years go by. Help us to be the kind of women that encourage others as we grow older. We don’t want to just drift through our Christian lives. Help us live intentional about the way to the end for You. Although there are days in all of of our lives when we have things to do; places to go; people to check on, lessons to prepare, work to do, cards to send, emails and texts to answer… help us live the remainder of our years intentionally for You. Help us to become more gracious and kind to everyone all the way to the end.”

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Making Our Time and Talents Count

 Until the Lord returns, each day holds within it exciting unique opportunities for us to serve the Lord! Let me encourage you to begin each day with prayer! Take time every day to spend some time alone with God, read your Bible and pray about the activities before you.  Give God the opportunity to guide your thoughts and your actions, to align them with His Divine purposes.  When we consecrate our time and talents to the Lord, He is able to show us how to redeem the time.

Colossians 4:5: . . . walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Ephesians 5:16  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Art Demoss, the insurance executive, was a great soul-winner. When he died, hundreds of people attended his funeral. During that service, the pastor asked the audience, “If you have come to know the Lord as your Savior as a result of Art Demoss, would you please stand.” Over 500 people stood up that day at his funeral. What a testimony to a man who used his time and talents for the Lord.

Think about this! If we invest 30 minutes a day each month in the Lord’s work, we are investing 15 hours a month. If we take 15 hours times the number of years we have left to live—there is no telling what we can accomplish for the Lord!

Whatever our position may be…whether we are a homemaker, a musician, a teacher, a speaker, or a cook, God has entrusted each of us with special gifts and talents. When we commit our hearts to serve him, He is able to use our personalities, interests, and life experiences to transform us into His image. His purpose for our lives is for us to use our gifts and talents to accomplish His will while we are on this earth.

On days when you are unsure of what you should be doing…stop and pray. Allow the Lord to guide you ‘step by step’ ‘minute by minute’ throughout your day.  I guarantee you, by the end of the day as you reflect and give thanks, it will amaze you what the Lord was able to accomplish through you by being obedient to His leading.

God did not give us time and talent to just serve ourselves.  He tells us in Revelation 4:11 that He created us to bring glory to Him. He guides us and gives us discernment to know what His perfect will is for us.  For some of you, the Lord may be guiding you to learn a new language so that you can communicate your faith with more people. For others, He may be guiding you to learn new ways of organizing your lives so that you will have more time to minister.

Remember Satan is our ever-present enemy, and he wants us to get our eyes off the Lord. God’s desire for our lives is for us to grow into a deeper relationship with Him and to have a greater understanding of His ways.  It is only when we begin to understand this principle, that we will begin to experience true fulfillment, joy, and peace.

Let me encourage you to:

  • Not be weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not!’
  • Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you opportunities to bless and encourage others with your gifts and talents.
  • Be assured that a day is coming when you will rejoice and be glad for those times that you sacrificed your will for His.
  • Join me in redeeming the time before our Lord returns.
  • Proclaim as Jesus did: “nevertheless, not my will, but Thy will be done!”

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

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Calvary Love by Amy Carmichael

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; If I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I find myself taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; If I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; If I say, “Just what I expected” If a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; If I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace; If I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I myself dominate myself, If my thoughts revolve round myself, If I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self-crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); If I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, If I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that If they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; If I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; If I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; If I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or If it does, is never given room there; If the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; If my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, If I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; If I think in terms of my own special work; If the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; If I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; If my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

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Do you find yourself always getting frustrated or angry with others? Maybe it’s a driver in traffic…or someone failed to do something that you asked him to do…or possibly you thought you were not consulted on a certain project for work or church.

When we make a plan to accomplish something, and this plan goes well, we have a sense of satisfaction because our need for a sense of control has been satisfied. When things don’t go according to our plan, we quickly become frustrated and angry.  When things happen over which we have no control, we tend to vent our frustrations verbally to those around us? Why? Because people haven’t lived up to how we tried to control them.

Why do we get frustrated and angry with those who don’t live up to our expectations? Because we want to show others how hurt we are because they haven’t followed our plans. We want to show others that they have refused our status and power. When others block our actions or refuse our permission, we get frustrated.

Frustration is a key source to all of our stress. We sometimes direct our anger inward, criticizing ourselves for lack of planning or preparation, but most of the time, we direct our frustrations to others, even those who are clearly innocent, yet just happen to be nearby.

The causes of our frustrations and anger have less to do with what happened to us than our interpretation of the causes.

Common negative thinking patterns that trigger the causes of our frustrations:

  • Over generalizing. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.”
  • Obsessing on “shoulds” and “musts.” Having a rigid view of the way things should or must be and getting frustrated when reality doesn’t line up with my vision.
  • Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming I “know” what someone else is thinking or feeling—that he or she intentionally upset me, ignored my wishes, or disrespected me.
  • When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. I blame others for every negative event that happens to me.

When I begin to feel myself getting frustrated about something, I should take a moment to think about the situation and ask myself.

Will this frustration have any impact in the framework of heaven?

Is this frustration really worth ruining the day of those around me?

Does my response to frustration display my pride and need for control?

The Lord calls tells me to:

  • Be merciful
  • Overlook the sins of others
  • Not to take revenge
  • Treat people with love and grace.

Our anger and frustrations must be overcome by the power of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit.

How Do I Deal with Everyday Frustrations and Anger?

  1. Face the real issue. “I’m not walking in the Spirit.” I must accept the fact that my frustrations and anger are really actions of my flesh. If I really want to live out God’s love in my life, I must beg Him to help me walk in the Spirit.
  • Do I really want to live as God desires for me to live?
  • Do I really want self-discipline on my life?
  • Do I really desire to love one another as God’s Words tells me to?

Galatians 5:25-26 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

  1. Deal with my frustrations and anger.
  • I must realize that my frustrations and anger will not accomplish the righteousness of God.
  • I must confess that I have been responding to my own selfish desires and have been more focused on my own will and not on God’s will and purpose.

James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.)

  1. I must die to self and live by Christ’s faith.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Although it’s difficult for me not to live according to my old “self”  life and allow Christ to live His life through me, I know it is possible. I must begin my day with a “Die to Self Prayer”.

Dear Father,
I realize this morning that to die with Christ simply means that I no longer allow my flesh to rule over my will, my thoughts, and my feelings. Through your power I  want Your Spirit to control my body, soul, and spirit. Please show me how to obey the life of Christ within me. Father, I understand that unless  self dies, I’m not able to obey the Holy Spirit.  Please, Father, help me today. I know I can’t completely eradicate my old man, but I do now commit my body, soul, and spirit to Your control. May Your will be accomplished this day. In Jesus name…

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