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    22 Observations These are final encouragements to the disciples in cities that Paul and Barnabas visited on that first missionary journey As a duo they endure a great deal Up to this point they have been opposed by a sorcerer had abuse heaped on them by jealous Jews and were expelled from an area In the very next town they escape a plot to be stoned by the Jews and in the town after that they have to deal with a massive Gentile confusion that they are actually Greek gods Eventually some Jews catch Paul drag him outside the city and leave him for dead Application Paul s words to these young churches as he leaves them are wise discipleship They need to know that we must go through hardship to enter the kingdom in order to persevere through the inevitable challenges that they are going to face They need to know that having hard lives as followers doesn t mean something is wrong It is normal and to be expected We need to hear these words too Perhaps it s a result of our culture of ease and comfort but the notion of being a disciple and hardship don t seem to go together for us Too often it seems that we will even avoid decisions that will bring hardship More and more I sense the need for believers to accept this hard truth As we endure what I anticipate will be lots of kingdom hardship opportunities in our society we have an opportunity to suffer well causing those who observe us to ask about the reason for the hope that we have 1Pet 3 15 Prayer Heavenly Father enable me to endure hardship for your sake and for the sake of your kingdom Stephen Humber his wife Mary K and son Jacob live in Omaha Neb where Stephen is the discipleship pastor for Stony Brook Church a USMB church plant Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Reading my Bible with S O A P Tuesday Oct 1 2013 Practicing the SOAP method of studying Scripture By Stephen Humber I value Bible reading very much even if I struggle at times to be consistent I came to faith later in life and was painfully aware of how little I knew about the Bible I have grown significantly through my reading over time There is so much to know and not just information about people places things and themes Jesus says to the Jewish leaders in John 5 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life These are the very Scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life The point isn t Bible knowledge mastery but to be mastered There are lots of helpful ways to read Scripture Steve Schroeder pastor at Parkview MB Church in Hillsboro Kan introduced me to a method that has helped me solidify my thoughts after reading

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Reading-my-Bible-with-SOAP.html (2016-02-17)
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    often argued as to who was the most important Jesus would have been the host with John seated next to him as his closest friend When Jesus states that his betrayer is at the table with them Peter calls across the table to John and asks John to ask Jesus who the betrayer is Perhaps Peter has taken the last place at the table because he remembers Christ s statement The last shall be first Of course he doesn t feel that he deserves to be seated last The role of the last person is to wash the feet of others and we know that hasn t happened yet So there is probably some tension in the air that evening Jesus identifies his betrayer as the one who dips his bread into the dish with him Only John on one side or Judas on the other side could reach the bowl Judas is seated as the guest of honor to Christ s left Interesting At some point in the meal Jesus gets up and begins washing his disciples feet This task should have been done when the guests first arrived by the lowest of servants However this supper is in a donated room with apparently no servants to greet them When Jesus comes to Peter Peter refuses to have his feet washed by Jesus Interesting Perhaps Peter feels if he shouldn t be washing feet neither should Jesus What Jesus can teach us The foot washing that night exposes a lot of positioning and thinking that Jesus wants to confront Here are three brief take aways for us today John begins his account of that Last Supper by saying that Having loved his own who were in the world he now showed them the full extent of his love John 13 1 Foot washing was one of the ways that Jesus communicated his love to his disciples and we also communicate our love to one another John goes on to say Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God so he wrapped a towel around his waist John 13 3 4 Power in Christ s kingdom is expressed in loving and serving even our enemies Foot washing reminds us of that every time we do it When Jesus comes to wash Peter s feet Peter replies No you shall never wash my feet John 13 8 Peter succinctly communicates the pride within all of us related to position status and honor Foot washing exposes our pride and gives us an opportunity to receive and share the grace of God with each other In a culture where most of us shower or bath daily foot washing lacks the essential function that it served in Christ s day Some have suggested we should be washing each other s cars or mowing each other s lawns instead While that may be true there is still something very personal and powerful when we simply follow Christ s example of washing each other s feet and praying for one another This could be one of Jesus ways of renewing our love for each other today Randy Friesen serves as the general director of MB Mission the global mission agency of the Mennonite Brethren churches of the United States and Canada Ray Harms Wiebe is the MB Mission global program team leader Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments The power of bathing feet Tuesday Oct 1 2013 What happens when we follow Christ s example and wash each other s feet By Randy Friesen and Ray Harms Wiebe After switching taxis multiple times to lose anyone following us we finally arrived at an apartment where several young house church leaders were waiting for us In their North African country converting from Islam to Christianity was a crime punishable by death We were there to build relationships with these young men and to learn about the challenges and opportunities they face as church planters in their region Given the security concerns and cultural differences our conversation began cautiously I Randy was praying for God s guidance and favor As we talked I clearly sensed the Spirit instructing me to wash the feet of these men I initially dismissed this thought as impossible especially in a cultural context where feet are considered unclean and showing the bottom of your feet to someone is the ultimate insult Even as I tried to dismiss it the prompting to wash their feet became stronger As I listened to their story I argued with God that the logistics of washing feet seemed impossible Finally I asked to be excused to use the toilet There to my surprise was a basin and a towel sitting on the floor as if prepared for me I re entered the room and asked if I could wash their feet The leaders were surprised but said yes What followed can only be described as an outpouring of God s love and presence As we washed the feet of these young leaders and prayed for them God melted away our cultural differences and fears We became aware of our common need of God s grace and love as well as the presence of our leader Jesus Trust and friendship were established The blessing of servant leadership When Jesus gave his disciples the command in John 13 14 17 to wash each other s feet and follow his example he promised they would be blessed In hundreds of foot washing settings over the past 30 years I have experienced that blessing and have been reminded of those words Foot washing has been the commissioning service for thousands of MB Mission short term mission participants over the past 25 years as they leave their discipleship training orientations and depart for mission assignments with SOAR ACTION or TREK programs Foot washing has also become a regular feature of our International Community

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/The-power-of-bathing-feet.html (2016-02-17)
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    be When she said yes she agreed to join an imperfect man on this journey we call life She did not say yes to the man she hoped I might become This isn t to say people shouldn t ever change But marriage is not the key that will make change happen Communication and patience rooted in love and respect are the keys to change Talk calmly and rationally with your partner about what you need from them Recognize and appreciate their personality This is the way to honor your spouse as you communicate your needs A happy life I mentioned that in the first years of marriage I had no idea what it meant to serve my wife as a God fearing husband For whatever reason the tongue in cheek phrase I heard growing up A happy wife makes a happy life stuck with me From day one I operated under the impression that my primary role as a husband was to make my wife as comfortable and happy as I could Problems arose when that pressure of being my wife s foundational source of happiness exhausted me and left me miserable I was not created to fulfill her every need that s what God is for Working a job taking care of the house going the extra mile to communicate with my wife being empathetic going to social events that I d rather avoid and many other things that were positive on their own were all rooted in the wrong place I was not running around in circles for the joy of serving or supporting my wife I was doing all these things in order to make her happy so that my life would be easier A selfless act done selfishly is no longer selfless I had to realize that I cannot control her happiness by doing things with or for her As important as my wife s happiness is to me at the end of the day her happiness is her choice I soon found that as I focused less on making my wife happy and more on simply serving her I developed a new joy in life and in turn our marriage became happier and healthier Love and marriage People aren t kidding when they say marriage is hard work But the rewards are incredible At 22 years old I never envisioned the challenges and adversity I would face with my wife I never imagined the woman she would become a woman who loves Christ more than she loves me A woman who knows what it means to respect and believe in her husband against all odds because of her faith in Jesus I have taken myself by surprise as I continue to grow as a leader of my family and learn how to love radically with Jesus as my guide And we did this all together How rudely awakened I have become by this beautiful living covenant called marriage And I will betroth you to me forever I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice in steadfast love and in mercy Hosea 2 19 Doug Milem is a certified life coach and marriage mentor who lives in Phoenix Ariz where he is part of Axiom Church a USMB church plant in Glendale Ariz He and his wife Megan have been married for five years and are in the process of adopting their first child Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Marriage mix ups Tuesday Oct 1 2013 Untangling the misunderstandings we bring to marriage By Doug Milem I married my gorgeous bride at the wise old age of 22 under the impression that I knew exactly what I was getting into Like many people who vow to love cherish and honor their partner unconditionally for the rest of their lives I was head over heels in love and thought that was enough to carry us for the next 70 years However the rude awakening that I experienced over the first two years of our marriage forced me to humbly admit that I had no clue what marriage was or what a God fearing husband looked like Diving headfirst into the tangled knot we had created that seemed to trap us both in an unhealthy cycle of tension and arguments I found that we both held misunderstandings about marriage These misunderstandings led us to hold one another and ourselves to a slew of unfair expectations Love is all you need One of these misunderstandings was that marriage is based solely on love Sure love is a critical foundation piece for a marriage Can you imagine standing in front of all your friends and family promising to be with your spouse for better or worse for the rest of your life without hearts firmly rooted in love Of course not However when two people stand at an altar on their wedding day do they do more than declare their love They declare their commitment Marriage is a covenant between two people who are laying down their hopes dreams and desires as they enter into a relationship where the other s hopes dreams and desires will also be considered When two individuals actively lay down their lives for one another this commitment comes alive And in a surprising twist their personal dreams and goals can grow bigger and go further as they are supported by not just one heart one prayer one mind or one will but two Alone again A second misunderstanding was that I would never have to deal with loneliness once I was married What I discovered however was that some of the loneliest moments of my life occurred while I was married It is a common issue and there are many reasons for marital loneliness communication issues lack of intimacy situational stressors lack of trust etc In my experience loneliness is rarely the result of being alone Rather loneliness is the result of an internal struggle Personally

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Marriage-mix-ups.html (2016-02-17)
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    I don t stop once in a while if I just keep going through the days without thinking of anything except the next item on my to do list I will miss the opportunity to impact people in a positive way It is similar to going weeks without talking to a friend without even realizing it Influence requires stillness Look Once you ve stopped the next task is looking Search your surroundings and your contacts for someone who needs something Maybe it s a meal a kind word or a note on their dashboard If you take the time to really look you will see the need It will be evident Listen and obey Even when we stop and identify a need we don t often listen to that still small voice that is nudging us In order to influence we have to act We have to be in tune with that voice from God and follow it It is only because I began listening and obeying his voice that I have been able to encourage and support others even when I don t feel worthy or capable of doing it The bottom line is that we are all influential in one way or another But being a person of influence for Christ is not only about what we do it is about being ready and open to what God wants to do through us We can just let it happen or we can be intentional about it I am confident that I am doing the job that God has planned for me which he has prepared me for and led me to I feel honored and blessed to be used Sybil Kolbert is a school psychologist by profession and uses her blog Peace it all Together to reflect on the circumstances of life faith and issues related to having a child with sensory needs Visit her at http peaceitalltogether blogspot com Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments From blogging to influencing Tuesday Oct 1 2013 Blogging can open new doors for ministry By Sybil Kolbert When I started my blog Peace it All Together peaceitalltogether blogspot com 18 months ago I had no idea what I was doing I only knew that I wanted to write and to share my stories of family and faith and the struggles and blessings that come along with them I first felt God speaking to me about starting a blog after spending a period o f prayer and fasting during Lent in 2012 My desire to hear God increased as I got into blogging and I felt God s nudging in a more intense way than I ever had before What had changed Had God decided that he was ready to communicate with me Honestly I think he was always ready It was me who wasn t As time passed and I received more comments from friends and blog readers about how my words and posts encouraged others I

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/From-blogging-to-influencing.html (2016-02-17)
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    Somewhere cached in her soul is my baby face her firstborn But I miss our shopping trips and the way we used to talk about the books we were reading I no longer hear her laughter because she can t comprehend jokes anymore When I send her cards and she shows them to me clearly imprinted with my signature then tells me they are from someone else I feel rejected Although sadness and rejection bring pain guilt is the emotion that tortures me No Mom we never wanted to put you into assisted living but you couldn t live alone anymore and all of us work long hours No one else can take care of you I m sorry and I hate it I feel guilty When I hug her goodbye and tell her I have to go back to Kansas she can t understand why I m leaving Reality screams that my work is a state away and my life cannot make room for my mother I am the long distance caregiver in the family demoted by miles and the work I cannot do anywhere else Guilty again Even while writing this I feel guilty that my emotions are front and center when Mom deals bravely with fear rejection and sadness It helps to journal about these caregiving emotions include them in my next book or vent with a friend The emotions of caregiving are now my reality and I know they affect me deeply because they are foreshadowed by love If I didn t love my mother so much I wouldn t care And because I love her I m sad that she can t be who she used to be As the author of The Unraveling of Reverend G RJ Thesman writes about Alzheimer s dementia and how to find hope when life unravels She is an author editor and certified Christian Lifecoach Her website is www rjthesman net Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments The emotions of care giving Tuesday Oct 1 2013 Caring for a family member with Alzheimer s has its emotional ups and downs by RJ Thesman It happens every time As soon as I turn away from my mother s door in assisted living and walk down the hallway away from her the emotions hit me You d think I would be used to them by now For 10 years my family struggled with Dad s dementia and all the accompanying emotions Now that Mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer s I should expect the same feelings But still the emotions grip my soul and I cry all the way to the car then sit in the driver s seat until my vision is no longer blurry When we become caregivers certain emotions come to live with us One of these emotions is sadness The long goodbye aka Alzheimer s triggers a sadness unlike any other grief I have suffered It is not the unexpected grief of a

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/The-emotions-of-care-giving.html (2016-02-17)
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    of faith A church is only as strong as the disciples within says writer and pastor Elizabeth Evans Hagan In her essay Re thinking Pastor Appreciation Month Hagan lists three things that typify devoted disciples Disciples attend church regularly even when a relaxing morning at home sounds so refreshing because they believe that faith is lived out in community Disciples give regularly even when there are lots of other good things to spend their money on because they know that everything we have comes from God in the first place Disciples serve even when they think their gifts aren t very significant because they believe that God will bless what they offer October is Pastor Appreciation Month initiated by Focus on the Family in 1994 Noting that pastors and their families live under incredible pressure the Focus on the Family website encourages congregations to make a difference in the lives of their pastoral leaders Clergy Appreciation Month is one way we can counter the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with the positive affirmation they need So do the things you normally do in October for Pastor Appreciation Month take your pastor s out for lunch give a gift certificate or send a card Our pastors need encouragement just like everyone else But let s also encourage our pastors by taking seriously the ways in which they are leading us individually and corporately to be authentic disciples of Jesus Christ Come to church ready to worship and to encounter God Be open to grow in your own faith when attending Bible study or a small group Find something to do at church and serve with enthusiasm volunteer to serve on the cleanup crew for the Wednesday night meals to rock babies in the church nursery or to lead a new ministry Our congregations will thrive and our pastors will be inspired when we faithfully pursue our call to discipleship Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Thanking our pastors Tuesday Oct 1 2013 Living as a disciple of Christ affirms our pastors By Connie Faber As I write this our congregation at Ebenfeld MB Church is preparing to celebrate the retirement of Pastor Gaylord Goertzen Pastor Gaylord served the Mennonite Brethren church in Balko Okla for nine years and then our congregation in rural Hillsboro Kan for 25 years He is the only pastor that my children have known a rare opportunity for young people in their late teens and early 20s So how does a congregation say thank you to a pastor and his family for decades of hard work sacrificial dedication and multiple blessings There is the usual list of retirement activities a dinner appropriate gifts and words of thanks and appreciation All good things and we re planning a Celebration Sunday honoring Gaylord and his wife Peggy which will include them all The photo above from the celebration dinner shows Peggy and Gaylord enjoying reflections from one of several guest speakers

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Thanking-our-pastors.html (2016-02-17)
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    is that we love our neighbors as ourselves and if trust is a function of honorable personal relationships we are losing important ground here Is it because we are so cocooned that we don t know our neighbors Is it because we didn t return the dozen eggs we borrowed Or because we don t put away our trash cans Or because we simply never bother to wave or say hi Or have we communicated by our lifestyle that they are not welcome at our house and are unworthy of sharing a meal with us or joining us at a party The survey goes on to report that best friends get the highest level of trust 79 percent and 81 percent Looks like we pretty much all agree on this True friends do after all almost always stand by their friends In many ways that is why they are friends Real friends are the kind that love accept and forgive It amazes me that Jesus refers to his disciples as friends Seems to me he believes in us One more statistic Religious leaders receive a trust rating of 49 percent by the younger set and 57 percent by the rest of us This is a travesty While I know full well that we spiritual shepherd types are only human the fact remains that we will be held to a higher standard and that our trustworthiness is critical to effective faithfulness on our assignment to equip the saints and lead the disciple making mission assigned to Jesus followers Oh how I earnestly humbly and with some confidence hope and pray that those who know me are able to give me a grade better than 49 or 57 percent I m committed to deserving stellar trust In fact that is my prayer for all of us USMB pastor types In my humble opinion it s part of what it means to be found faithful Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Trust me Tuesday Oct 1 2013 Why trust is key to relationships By Ed Boschman USMB executive director Trust me We are asking you to trust us in this You are going to have to trust the leadership on this No doubt you have heard these exhortations before Sometimes it s the church leader Sometimes mom and or dad Perhaps your teacher or coach Or maybe even your spouse How do you respond And how do you feel about how you respond Ernest Hemingway said The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them I ve got some stories to tell about how that works and I m pretty sure you do as well A recent AARP Bulletin reported some data on this subject as a result of an on the street video interview poll The question was How much do you trust the following people The research report categorized the data into two age groups those 18 to 49 years old

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Trust-me.html (2016-02-17)
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    that frame our hope in God s goodness It opens with great thoughts about God vv 1 2 and closes with more confidence in God s willingness to meet us in life s dilemmas vs 13 14 Woven between those ideas are multiple reasons for fear and concern vv 3 12 Amazingly this psalm offers two very different moods In verses 1 6 David exudes confidence in God s great care he felt untouchable and invincible with God by his side But in verses 7 14 the tone shifts dramatically as David cries out for God s help pleading to not be forsaken Obviously David faced spiritual battles as well as the physical ones described in 1 and 2 Samuel We relate to Psalm 27 because we know those feelings the ups and downs of walking in this world the forward and backward steps of walking with God Sometimes we are hesitant to put words to our fears or express our feelings when God seems more distant Not the psalmists They let it all out When I shared Psalm 27 with our congregation recently it resonated with many As we identified our fears a range of topics immediately surfaced If we try to name our fears we don t have far to look Watch the news read your email sit by the phone and wait for a child to call or go to work and face an unreasonable boss Wherever we turn there is cause for fear Psalm 27 offers good news regarding our fears Certainly there is a time to look for professional help the source of some fears needs to be identified prayed through and prayed out But I am convinced that Psalm 27 and others like it can lead us to a place where we rise above our fears It points us to God our great source of confidence Dennis Fast is lead pastor at Reedley Calif MB Church Leave a comment Comment Name E mail Post 0 Comments Psalm 27 Good news about our fears Tuesday Oct 1 2013 The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear Psalm 27 1 By Dennis Fast In the early days of my ministry an elderly gentleman taught me to love Psalm 27 Every time I called for a Scripture at our Prayer and Bible Study he offered Psalm 27 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear I don t recall Marvin ever quoting another Scripture and while that frustrated me at the time I now turn to Psalm 27 often I have memorized it and meditate on it frequently when I lie down rise up or lay awake during the night Well known columnist Ann Landers learned from thousands of requests for advice that the 1 problem people face is fear Google phobias and check out A List From A to Z You ll be amazed at the fears that plague people If you have a phobia it s

    Original URL path: http://www.usmb.org/news/article/Psalm-27-Good-news-about-our-fears.html (2016-02-17)
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