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    be very concerned that her family back home was not saved and that perhaps they wouldn t ever want the God she so loved Yami and the Langers began to pray specifically asking God to bring her family to himself and that each family member might accept him as Lord and Savior of their lives They spent the month of July in intense prayer for her family When August came Yami and the Langers made the journey south to take her home As they traveled the many miles between Gettysburg and Mission emotions of excitement and apprehension were present Would God open the hearts of her family Would her family somehow come to know the Lord Yami didn t know how to even begin this most important conversation she would ever have with her parents and two sisters After arriving back home in Mission Yami s family agreed to meet with the Langers the following day As they met both the Langers and Yami shared the message of Jesus and Yami s family was given the opportunity to come to know him The atmosphere was filled with uncertainty How were they receiving these words of life and hope Then something incredible happened With great emotion Yami s father said yes to following Jesus And then so did her mom then her two sisters and finally the neighbor who was also there that day On that special August day Yami saw her entire family come to know her precious Savior Jesus That day the people Yami loved the most accepted the gift of eternal life and it hasn t been the same in their home since Yami and her family have become involved in the fellowship of Iglesia Biblica de la Gracia in Mission Mission USA director Don Morris says This wonderful account of an entire family coming to follow Jesus is why we work so hard to plant churches all across America Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments A miracle family Sunday Dec 1 2013 Mission USA news story A couple of years ago 15 year old Yami prayed a simple prayer God I have no way to know you here where I live Will you please show me how I can get to know you The next day Pastor Rafael Nunez from Mission Texas MB Church announced a new church was coming to Yami s neighborhood As time went by Yami attended this new church plant came to know Christ and became actively involved Williams Velez became the pastor and the church Iglesia Biblica de la Gracia a jointly supported church plant of Mission USA and Mission MB Church became a part of Yami s life Yami spent this past summer in Gettysburg SD living with John and Jill Langer and attending Grace Bible Church MB in order to grow in the Lord and experience life outside the Rio Grande Valley Grace Bible Church and Mission MB Church have had an enduring sister church relationship

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/A-miracle-family.html (2016-02-17)
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    and be heard Nip it in the bud Unresolved conflict only grows Those involved begin to exaggerate the offense talk about it in the coffee shop and draw up sides Logic gives way to emotion and those who once worshipped together feel they can no longer share a pew Zoar s Carter aptly calls it cancerous And just like cancer the sooner it s dealt with the better The Faith and Life Team at First MB Wichita Kan keeps ears to the ground for potential conflict in the congregation whether involving staff church members or even families and provides a way to deal with it early Team chair Lygrisse laments that people often wait until the relationship is already badly damaged before asking for help For example if the team is asked to help in a marriage after divorce proceedings have started often the hurts are too deep for the team to offer effective help Lygrisse points to the old adage Don t worry about closing the barn door after all the cows are let out Be proactive While Eshbaugh says an intentional process is not necessary to deal with conflict well the three congregations CL talked to have chosen to tackle conflict proactively When Dwight Carter transitioned from Zoar MB youth pastor to lead pastor in 2009 church leaders knew that some in the congregation would have questions during the transition With an eye toward long term church health they established the Pastoral Relations Team to be a sounding board between Carter and the congregation not unlike CCCMB s Listening Groups Carter says that while the formal venue has been used less frequently over time just having something in place has been valuable and healthy It communicates to the congregation that it s OK to not agree and that there is an avenue in place to go through that is healthy Carter says CCCMB s Braun suggests that if a congregation hasn t thought through how to deal with conflict before it happens they need to do so Having a plan in place gives people a way to begin conversations rather than letting feelings fester My belief is that an invitational approach to conflict lessens its negative effects says Braun Ask for help Even in churches that don t have a formal conflict resolution process in place resources are available Here are a few mentioned in our CL conversations Pray Search Scripture Ask a friend On an individual level Warkentin says that the time to ask for help is right away at the moment we re feeling distant Seek out a church leader pastor or trusted friend Intentional interim For congregations facing a difficult transition Eshbaugh suggests an intentional interim pastor like those trained through Interim Pastor Ministries Following The Call This leadership manual for Mennonite Brethren churches is a good resource for church leaders The book is available from Kindred Productions District resources District ministers can offer assistance and point toward helpful resources For a list of districts and district ministers visit http www usmb org districts USMB BFL The national Board of Faith and Life can assist as well especially if the issue concerns theological questions While these tips aren t meant to be the final word they can serve as discussion points in the larger conversation of what it means to be peacemakers as U S Mennonite Brethren seek peace within as well as outside the church walls Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Being peacemakers within the church walls Sunday Dec 1 2013 Bringing peace to the pews By Myra Holmes It s one thing to talk about making peace on a national or international level quite another when it comes to a difference of opinion with the person sitting in the next pew As the USMB Board of Faith and Life BFL leads a review and revision of Article 13 of the Confession of Faith which deals with peacemaking it seems fair to ask What does it mean to be peacemakers within the church walls BFL chair Larry Nikkel points out that whenever Mennonite Brethren talk about the peace agenda the discussion seems to center around national and international issues That s good Nikkel says We need to address issues of international conflict And we need to be involved in peace building initiatives around the globe But he points out that conflict and peacemaking isn t limited to these large scale examples Conflicts in families congregations and communities are very real for all of us he says Issues related to being a peace seeking people should be applied to the full spectrum of peacemaking Resolving conflict in church So as BFL opened the national discussion about Article 13 at the January 2013 study conference they set aside time to focus on local peacemaking CL followed up with several congregations represented at that study conference discussion to ask how they deal with conflict especially conflict within the congregation Dwight Carter is pastor of Zoar MB Church Inman Kan where a Pastoral Relations Team acts as a sounding board between the pastor and congregation College Community Church MB CCCMB Clovis Calif has established a similar mechanism Listening Groups to facilitate communication between the pastoral staff and congregation Bill Braun is senior pastor there At First MB Church Wichita Kan a Faith and Life Team serves alongside the congregation s Leadership Team with the specific assignment of praying and working toward unity within the congregation Glenn Lygrisse chairs that team and Brent Warkentin is lead pastor CL also talked with Rick Eshbaugh who serves as district minister for the Central District Conference CDC as a member of the national BFL and as pastor for Harvey ND MB Church He has both formal training in conflict resolution through Church Resource Ministries a ministry that works to empower leaders and revitalize congregations and a wealth of experience helping congregations work through crisis and transition Remember that conflict happens As these representatives talked about what it

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Being-peacemakers-within-the-church-walls.html (2016-02-17)
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    to take such faithful help for granted Penner says that s clearly not the case for the Goossens always appreciation always gratitude Volunteers readily admit that it is an effort to help It s not that it s easy or convenient it s not says McDannald At the same time they talk about it with a no big deal kind of attitude When asked what motivated him to help Higdon echoes others when he says I just wanted to help the guy out Penner points to Jesus words in the parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25 where Jesus commends his followers For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink Penner suggests an addition I was paralyzed and lying in bed and you came every week and exercised me Now 18 years after the freak accident that left him paralyzed Goossen says My health is good I just can t walk He has limited movement in his shoulders and biceps and gets around with a wheelchair that he drives with a joystick He still consults on custom home builds thanks to a partner who allows me to do what I can Goossen says His four children are young adults pursuing education and careers in business medicine law and pharmacy I couldn t ask for better kids he says It s been a tough journey and it s not over yet but volunteers say Goossen has never wallowed in self pity They talk of his positive attitude his can do spirit his perseverance and his love for his family I ve not sensed one moment of an attitude of why me Penner says As for Goossen he says If I didn t have my faith I probably wouldn t be here I would ve given up easily And that too is an expression of great faithfulness Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Goossen supported by faithful men Sunday Dec 1 2013 For some 18 years Bethany MB Church men have cared for an injured church member By Myra Holmes In many congregations when a member is faced with an illness surgery or even a happy life change like a birth the church family mobilizes with prayer and tangible expressions of love and support like hospital visits cards and casseroles When LeRoy Goossen Jr faced a life changing injury the church support went way beyond casseroles The men of Bethany MB Church Fresno Calif have coordinated care for Goossen every weeknight for some 18 years On Jan 5 1995 Goossen a custom home builder and member of Bethany fell from a balcony onto a piece of rebar below The fall whiplashed his neck and bruised his spinal cord I was instantly paralyzed Goossen says The injuries he sustained landed him first in intensive care in the local hospital Valley Medical Center then in rehabilitation at Craig Hospital a Colorado facility specializing

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Goossen-supported-by-faithful-men.html (2016-02-17)
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  • USMB
    the gift card and even some of them refuse to take one A lot of people were like What do I have to give you Clark says It was surprising how long it took to get rid of our cards The canvassing team usually 40 to 60 people begins by gathering at church for worship in song and prayer The volunteers include families with young children as well as adults and junior high and high school youth It s a nice time together Wahl adds Associate Pastor Jon Giesel enjoys taking his young sons with him Along the way my son who is three is asking why we are doing this I get to explain that it s because God loves our neighbors and he wants them to know him It teaches him to go to our neighbors and greet them and even pray with them After offering the gift and the invitation the team always asks if they can pray for the person who came to the door A lot of people were conservative about what they would ask prayer for maybe a difficult financial situation or just world peace Clark says There s always lots of prayer for healing adds Wahl and sometimes people bring other household members to the door to be prayed for While the teams seldom have a chance to see the results of their visits Giesel saw firsthand the long term impact when he and his family moved into one of the visited neighborhoods a few years ago Our neighbors right next door had been invited in previous years When we moved in next door that put a face to the church and they started attending Clark plans to join the Neighborhood Blessing again this Christmas You never know who you will encounter she says You might go to 50 houses but maybe one person will come to know Jesus These people need to know Jesus Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Neighborhood blessing includes gift prayer invitation Sunday Dec 1 2013 Fresno neighborhood wakes to Christmas blessing by Kathy Heinrichs Wiest Last December on the Saturday before Christmas Kayleen Clark and other Mountain View Community Church members started about 9 a m ringing doorbells in the church s Fresno Calif neighborhood It was kind of like Hey wake up We re blessing you with a free Starbucks card Clark says The activity is Mountain View s annual Neighborhood Blessing Teams go door to door in the homes near the church offering their neighbors a gift and a prayer and inviting them to come to the church s Christmas services Mountain View s missions pastor Mary Tyler Wahl points out that Christmas and Easter are opportunities to reach people who don t normally attend church Mountain View has always done flyers and invitations for big services she says but a few years ago a gentleman in the church had this great idea to take something with the invitation Initially the

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Neighborhood-blessing-includes-invitation-to-church.html (2016-02-17)
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    voice to say to us kids C mon y all let s go to the car maybe your mom will follow See how it works Or it can also be used as a statement of great consternation Something like Oh c mon y all You don t really think that do you With the right inflection it can help people to respond No definitely no I don t wanna do that I usually hear it said this way as kind of a command Or this phrase can emit a tremendous sense of excitement If yelled just right C mon y all describes an event that you don t want to miss and must participate in C mon y all let s go bowling Well maybe another activity would be more fun but you get the drift C mon y all is a truly diverse phrase Which brings me to how I want to use it in this piece Being that we are downright struggling right now to find the funds to continue planting churches and have determined it necessary to defer future projects for a time I simply want to use this phrase as a gentle reminder that we have a whole lot of work to do together and we can t let up We have several projects waiting in the wings We have new cities in which we feel called to plant new Mennonite Brethren churches These churches would target new communities to receive the gospel likely resulting in more people who would experience life transformation I m not whining I know God can supply But I think we all might need a renewed rallying cry So c mon y all would you help us Would you pray for our planters and pray that we can find the funds we need to continue planting MB churches that reach more people C mon y all we need you now more than ever Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments C mon y all Sunday Dec 1 2013 We have work to do together by Don Morris C mon y all If you live in the southern part of the U S as I do in Oklahoma you ve heard these words hundreds of times For as long as I can remember I ve also heard phrases like I seen Jim go down to the store I grew up with the word warsh which I believe is simply a southern way of saying the common word wash Hey y all ya gonna warsh them clothes Maybe we re not quite that back country but I still hear the southern drawl a lot And I m sure that drawl is present in my own speech patterns OK reader just shush up I m fixin to use these words to my literary advantage C mon y all is a useful phrase for many occasions It can be used to get people who won t get in the car to leave

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Cmon-yall.html (2016-02-17)
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    and brother suffer the same fate Around 6 B C he has his two sons Aristobulus and Alexander executed as well On his deathbed he orders the members of prominent families to be shut up in the hippodrome in Jericho to be executed the moment he dies Herod wishes to ensure an outpouring of genuine grief upon the news of his demise The order is never carried out but you get the picture In any event Herod is unable to locate the child But this evil man will not be so easily thwarted He orders the murder of every little boy who lives in the territory where Jesus is believed to be A cry was heard in Ramah weeping and great mourning Rachel weeps for her children refusing to be comforted for they are dead Matt 2 18 NLT What s wrong with us The Massacre of the Innocents is not only about one man s surrender to evil It s also about the brokenness that feeds our ferocious hostility towards the living God Col 1 21 Matthew tells the story to compel us to face our humanity and to ask the question we must all ask sooner or later What s wrong with us As this question arises from our souls we despair and grieve and desperately wonder if there is a cure for what we have become It is the meaningless death of innocent children that mercilessly reminds us of what sin has done to us In fact human history is so tainted by sin that even God could not intervene to save us without getting entangled by the evil that is part and parcel of the fabric of human society and the human heart Keep in mind that Christ s birth indirectly sentences to death 30 to 40 little boys who would otherwise live But such is the nature of reality Who shall deliver us from the suffocating weight of sin and the scandal of death For a lot of people today there is no answer That s just the way things are No use thinking about it But for those who desperately seek a solution Matthew doesn t leave us hanging in midair In verse 20 a ray of light cuts through the darkness Get up the angel said Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel because those who were trying to kill the child are dead Matt 2 20 NLT What a promise The one who faced death and opposition even in childhood and throughout his life has and will be victorious But his victory doesn t only extend over an evil ruler As incisively painful as sin and death might be for us now the story of Christ s victory over Herod is the assurance promise that one day death will be engulfed in a hurricane of life and joy Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests Luke 2 13 14 NIV Pierre Gilbert is associate professor of Bible and theology at Canadian Mennonite University Gilbert is also associate professor of Old Testament Studies with Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary Canada the theological school of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches with two campuses one in Langley BC and the second at CMU in Winnipeg Man Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Project redemption Sunday Dec 1 2013 King Herod s evil actions prompt us to ask What s wrong with us By Pierre Gilbert Christmas still and surprisingly evokes more than just pure entertainment There is a strange but noticeable kind of sentimentality that unexpectedly emerges for a few weeks Hollywood sings the praises of the Christmas spirit Ebenezer Scrooge erupts on our TV screens and once again that old miserable tight fisted creature is transformed by the spirits of Christmas into a generous turkey giving benevolent elderly gentleman It s clear to me that we maintain a sweet and sour relationship with Christmas While we see it as a time to party and spend big the survival of our economy no less being at stake the Christmas season compels us to reflect on the less fortunate Until New Year s Eve that is at which time we are free to let go of our therapeutic guilt and wallow in the welcome revelry of the New Year celebrations You have to admit there is something extraordinary about Christmas The birth of Christ still has an energy that the enormous weight of a 21st century secular humanism is unable to crush Christmas is about To understand the significance of Christmas we need to ask a most basic question What is it really all about A cursory look around us will reveal that Christmas is about glitter crowded malls nauseatingly sentimental TV specials time off sumptuous meals the traditional heartburns and let s not forget the presents Of course there is a baby in there somewhere Everybody loves babies What is not to like about them They are cute cuddly and have an uncanny ability to attract politicians Is that it Is that what Christmas is really all about Those of us who are a little more theologically sophisticated believe that Christmas is primarily about God taking on human form It s about God becoming one of us But why would God do this What could possibly motivate the infinitely powerful Creator of the universe to put himself through this kind of trouble The answer is both simple and profound God has a project From eternity past God intends to create a people made up of men and women who will be free and who will choose to love and serve him for all eternity For thousands of years God is painstakingly working at this project calling prodding redeeming one man and one woman at a time This project predates the

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Project-redemption.html (2016-02-17)
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    1 3 He recalls that God forgives the iniquity of his people and covers their sins He sets aside his wrath and turns from his fierce anger God please do that again is the heart felt request Ps 85 4 7 that God would again overlook our wrong doings and restore his good doings to us his people Each of us like prodigal sons and daughters venture into the realms of darkness feel the despair and start back home to hopefully gain a standing as a servant While we are still a long way off the Father runs to embrace us and it happens again The hot kiss of God Hot because of the emotion tied up in everything we have done and hot because of everything that he does What is unique in the God of the Christian Bible is that he kisses He has already kissed and he will do it again Our one year old daughter has learned to give goodnight kisses she is quite good a practice that Jesus almost certainly learned as a young child From the highest viewpoint Advent and Christmas is the culmination of the ultimate relational coming together of God and human beings and the kiss of God The promises of God and the hope of Psalm 85 vv 8 13 find their fulfillment in the actions of the Christ child and once again God forgives and covers sins and sets aside his wrath and turns from his fierce anger This is a Christmas gift to write home about May you feel the hot kiss of God May the loving arms of your Heavenly Father embrace you as his child May his kindness and salvation come to your home this Christmas season And from our house to yours Merry Christmas David Buller is the pastor of Cornerstone Community Church a USMB congregation in Topeka Kan He created the artwork that appears with this devotional Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Psalm 85 God s kiss Sunday Dec 1 2013 God s kiss is a dramatic act of reaching out to us by David Buller Love and faithfulness meet together righteousness and peace kiss each other Psalm 85 10 I am not sure I have ever thought of God giving a kiss God is a warrior a holy king a judge The Great Sovereign majestic full of power and glory above all before all and the Creator of all But God kisses We do not read about Jesus doing this save one instance in which its common practice is implied in Luke 7 45 Jesus not only receives kisses he gives them out God s kiss is one dramatic act of a relational God bent on reaching us The 13 verses of Psalm 85 describe the hot kiss of God The word hot has positive connotations passion emotion and desire Hot also carries with it the meanings of anger wrath and displeasure To know just how fiercely God opposes

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Psalm-85-Gods-kiss.html (2016-02-17)
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    you be in darkness or will you have the light of life One year in the children s Christmas drama there was a point at which the lights were to all go out except for one hidden light in the manger It was supposed to shine out in the darkness to show the radiance of the newborn Savior But something went wrong The person controlling the lights became confused and everything went dark including the manger It was a tense moment in the crowd and on stage until one of the shepherds said in a loud stage whisper Hey you switched off Jesus Jesus didn t come as the light of the world to be turned off and on His announcement came with this wonderful promise that whoever follows him will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life The light in you The good news of the light of the world can be described like this No more faking the light of the world God sees everything You cannot hide from the light so you might as well just come totally clean before the Lord God No need for pretense no cover up no acting like you re perfect Where can I go from your Spirit Where can I flee from your presence Ps 139 7 God sees it all open your heart to him No more fearing the light of the world God knows everything He knows the tragedies of our nation this year he knew the innocent babies that died in Bethlehem at the hand of Herod and he knows about your pain and your fear The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear Ps 27 1 God knows it all and offers to enter our lives No more failing the light of the world God forgives every sin The greatest gift ever given was when God in Christ came as the Savior of the world to become the payment for our sins We fail yes We sin of course But we are no longer failures If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness I John 1 9 God forgives as we confess our sin He saves and forgives We learn from the Christmas story in Luke that facing the light of the world can be a terrifying experience at first But then we realize that the light has come to dispel our fears And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified But the angel said to them Do not be afraid I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people Luke 2 8 10 An old hymn is also an appropriate Advent hymn as it contains the words The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin The light of the world is Jesus Like sunshine at noonday his glory shone in The light of the world is Jesus Come to the light tis shining for thee Sweetly the light has dawned upon me Once I was blind but now I can see The light of the world is Jesus Dennis Fast is lead pastor at Reedley Calif MB Church Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Light of the world Sunday Dec 1 2013 Receive the love of God as your light today By Dennis Fast A man finally put up the lighted N O E L sign in his yard one cold night close to Christmas His first mistake was waiting so long and the second was putting the letters up from behind them instead of facing them He fumbled and bumbled and said some very un Christmas like things in the process He finally finished plugged in the lights and went to bed The next morning he awoke to a foot of snow on the ground He went outside to take a look at his sign and noticed that from the street it spelled L E O N Now his neighbor across the street was named Leon And when the neighbor saw him fixing the sign he said Man I thought that was just for me The Advent theme of light is one that makes the coming of Christ personal It allows each of us to say Man I thought that was just for me When Jesus said I am the light of the world he was announcing one more time that he is God come to make sense out of confusion as he turns darkness into light Light throughout the Bible Have you ever noticed that the Bible begins and ends with light Genesis 1 and Revelation 21 are very much about light Clearly the theme of light is very close to the heart of the Bible s message In I John 1 5 we read God is light in him there is no darkness at all Do a survey of the Bible and it seems that light and darkness find their way into all the major acts of God in biblical history Creation begins when God looking into the emptiness and darkness says Let there be light God s deliverance of Israel includes a plague of darkness over the land of Egypt and then leading the people through the desert for 40 years with a pillar of fire light by night At Jesus birth angels appear to shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone around them When wisemen from the East come seeking him they follow the light of a star that shines brighter than any other light When Jesus gives his life on the cross darkness covers the land for three hours Then the light dawns that resurrection morning to reveal an empty tomb a living Savior And

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/The-light-of-the-world.html (2016-02-17)
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