GRATEFUL FOR 2021 SUCCESSFUL OUTREACHING, BUT MOVING AHEAD INTO 2022 WITH VISION

(January 05, 2022) David McGuire brings a colourful, picturesque report from Romania…

Those engaged in overseas missions ‘send in’ reports to headquarters back home, to supporting churches, friends or contacts. This is often pages of typed information.

Rather than a lot of text, I thought I’d like Connecting with You readers to know visually what’s been happening here by way of photos. After all, there’s an old saying: A picture is worth a thousand words.

In short, despite ongoing troubles around the world last year we have continued to reach out to children, build houses for gypsies, and meet other needy people… where they’re at here. These following pictures speak for themselves!

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Mesmerised children

Christmas presents joy
Over 2000 presents
, received from four sources of the body of Christ, were distributed giving great joy for so many kids as well as adults.

Some presents left over from home distribution were perfect for kids who beg in supermarket carparks, as below…

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2022 CHALLENGE – GET OUT OF THE MUD AND CLEAR OUR HEADS ABOUT WHAT GOD REQUIRES!

(January 03, 2022) Mama Lava asks a leading 2022 question…

Have you ever wondered what God wants from you?

Sometimes I get caught in that rut. As the saying goes, a rut is formed in the mud. Well, I don’t want to be thinking in the mud. I want my mind and focus to be clear. Don’t you?

The Lord’s requirements
If we’re going to clear our heads, we have to get out of the mud!

Overthinking is the enemy of simplicity… but the gospel is simple. God wants a relationship with you and me. He has done everything to make that possible. But once it is established, what then?

God spoke to His people in the Old Testament through the prophet, Micah. He clearly stated what He requires: ’He has told you, O man, what is good – and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?’ (Micah 6:8 ESB, emphasis mine).

Surely, He wants more than that. He wants mission work and tithing and sacrifice… right? He wants our hearts to be willing to act when He prompts us, yes… but so much of what we feel we must do comes from our own imagination. If we read the above verse in context with the previous two verses, we get a clearer picture…

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PRIORITISED 2022 RESOLUTIONS

(January 01, 2022) Brian Bell shares afresh on some of his December thoughts as we move for Jesus into this new year…

Christmastime is over and 2022 is here!

Like some others, maybe you too are looking back on difficult 2021 life experiences. Amid the uncertainties of life perhaps some situation injured you, people may have hurt and or disappointed you.

Perhaps you had failed the Lord in some way, or you made poor decisions and thought He won’t forgive you. Well, a December Features was on the very spirit of Christmas… forgiveness (Christmas – Perfect Time for Forgiveness).

There is a wrong tendency with Christians to feel difficult circumstances must be an indication of sin in our lives, or that we have displeased and or failed the Lord… and this can hinder us from moving ahead, especially into every God-given new year.

Now there may be times when we have made choices that have contributed to our certain circumstances. But we need to remember that varied, changing and indeed difficult circumstances of life are common to everyone, believer and non-believer. So, I encourage you to deal with whatever needs dealing with, perhaps putting things ‘right’ with another believer… and resolving to move on!

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OUR DAYS ARE ALREADY DETERMINED

(January 01, 2022) Carol Round reflects…

I know, I know… Christmas is over!  But on Christmas morning, as I was reading one of my daily devotionals, something I’d never thought about grabbed my attention. Forty days and forty years are significant in the Bible. However, while reading my devotional, the number forty weeks was mentioned.

The devotional, written by O.S. Hawkins, appears in his book titled, The Believer’s Code. He writes, ‘Jesus came to earth as a helpless, tiny seed planted in the womb of a young Jewish virgin. Forty weeks later, Jesus was born in a filthy stable.’

When I googled the length of a pregnancy, I discovered differing opinions for this gestation time. Some sites base the time period on the number of days in a month. However, according to several sites, the average length of pregnancy is counted at 40 weeks.

Jesus wasn’t average!
We know, however, that Jesus wasn’t your average child. Born of a virgin as God’s only Son,
He came to save us from ourselves. ‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’ (2 Corinthians 9:15).

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CHRISTMAS – PERFECT TIME FOR FORGIVENESS

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(December 23, 2021) Mercy Health’s #MomentsofHealth shares a great Christmastime insight on why forgiveness might just be the best gift you can give yourself this season

The holidays can be stressful. But what can make the holiday season even more stressful? Tiptoeing around family members, harbouring resentment, or picking and choosing holiday gatherings because you’re avoiding someone.

Holding a grudge toward a loved one can be exhausting. The good news? There’s no better time for forgiveness than the holidays.

We get it. You might not be convinced just yet. There was likely a reason you became angry with this person to begin with, and if they had apologised this would already be over. But while there will always be a reason not to extend forgiveness toward someone, there will also always be an even better reason to forgive. Here are our best tips for mending fences this holiday season.

Here’s three reasons to extend forgiveness at Christmastime…

1. Conflict leads to physical stress; forgiveness lessens panic and anxiety
First things first – forgiveness is not about doing a favour for the other person. It’s about doing a favour for you.

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Whether it’s a small argument with your significant other or a decade of not talking to a sibling, conflict is bad for your wellbeing. The stress associated with conflict can increase your risk for a heart attack, raise blood pressure, reduce sleep quality and more. Turns out, forgiveness is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Instead of refusing to forgive because you don’t think someone deserves forgiveness, choose to forgive because you deserve to live with less stress. Quite simply, forgiveness is practical.

2. Choosing to forgive sets the right example for your kids
Modelling behaviour is one of the best ways to teach our children how to behave.

Forgiveness helps us better respect and understand others. While it doesn’t always mean forgetting, it does mean letting go.

We all want our kids to grow up and be successful, which is a lot harder when we’re holding on to feelings of negativity. Teaching our kids to let go helps them excel in the areas of their lives that matter most.

3. Forgiveness is what the holiday season is all about
Many of us have heard the adage ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’ Jesus may have been born on ‘Christmas’, but he died for the forgiveness of our sins.

Jesus died on a cross so that we could all experience forgiveness from God. God wants us to live a life of forgiveness, and he gave us that gift through Jesus. By choosing to forgive, we are embracing a gift greater than anything that could be put under the tree this season.

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Forgiveness might not always be easy, and it might not always go as planned. The lesson in forgiveness isn’t the reaction from the person forgiven, it’s the change that takes place in you.

When we learned the definition of mercy earlier in this series, we learned that it’s all about showing compassion toward those whom within it’s our power to punish. Forgiveness is one of the best ways to show mercy. How will you show your moment of mercy this week?

Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to share with the hashtag #MomentsofMercy on social media. We promise – this is one thing that can truly put you in the holiday spirit!

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Mercy Health is an extensive caring American organisation that states ‘Our Mission drives us to provide the highest quality health care possible to our patients and communities. Our exceptional team of doctors, nurses and caregivers whose expertise and talent help make a difference in our patients’ lives every day. We extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and brings good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved.’ Link: https://www.mercy.com/

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CREATING CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

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(December 16, 2021) Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, challenges us to ensure our children have happy Christmas memories…

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Christmas?’

  • Most children say: Food!
  • Most men too!
  • Most mothers say: Work!  

Good memories are…

Vivid
Why is food so memorable? Food is of special significance because the sense of smell is intricately linked with memory, more so than any other sense, just one whiff can evoke memories. 

Good memories are intricately connected to good food. Our brain sorts through our memories associating happy events with good food and celebrations. The emotional association of events and food leaves an indelible print, much more accentuated during our childhood. Childhood memories have a longer lasting imprint, especially in association with special days like birthdays and Christmas.

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FINALLY PRESSING THE RIGHT BUTTON

(December 16, 2021) Michael Ashcraft shares a good news story...

Justin Berry, 20, grew up in Ladera Heights (in LA) going to church with his mom and brother.

Going to Lighthouse Christian Academy cemented his childhood faith and it’s also where he met a certain girl named Trina.

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A rough year
He excelled in academics and sports during high school and was elated when he got accepted to his dream college: UCLA. He felt a euphoria unlike any other, but as he tried to push the ‘Accept’ button on the electronic offer letter, Justin (at right, in front of UCLA’s mascot) was held back. God had told him to attend college elsewhere.

‘Something was holding my hand back from pressing that button,’ he remembers. ‘I started crying and bawling my eyes out. I wanted to go there. This was my ticket to my career. I was trying to press this button and God wouldn’t let me do it.’

He finally pushed the button. What could go wrong? He had a beautiful girlfriend and an ideal institution of higher learning. God’s blessing was evident. Only not everything was as it seemed. Secretly, he and Trina had fallen into temptation together, and both were feeling intense conviction.

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HONOURING JESUS

(December 16, 2021) Dr Robert McQuillan responds to this concerned believer

Dear Dr Robert

You mentioned in your article this month that ‘people, especially Christians, are looking for reality, for truth, not loud music, meaningless worship and hyperfaith! Churches that are attracting followers are those proclaiming the gospel that Jesus Christ is Saviour and Lord and through him a relationship with God is now possible!’ I’m one of those Christians, looking for down-to-earth reality and am really concerned that although I regularly hear consoling messages about the blessings that God gives but never about what it costs Jesus and our responsibilities. Am I missing something or somehow confused? Kelvin.

Dear Kelvin

This reminds of ‘hammered preaching’ (that you referred to before when you expressed other concerns, and that the Acts 20:27 ‘whole counselling of God’ was not being taught).

You mentioned quite a few scriptures that are repeated regularly, highlighting what God must do for us in terms of ‘Giving to get’ such as the often-quoted Malachi 3:8 coming across as ‘You give your offerings, and you’ll get blessed. If you don’t you won’t.’ And that our responsibilities such as our being willing to give not only to our local church but to needy neighbours (whoever that pans out to be) and other worthy causes and wanting to honour Jesus are never mentioned.

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HEARING AND ACTING

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(December 15, 2021) Maureen McQuillan answers a question a little differently this month…

Pastor Maureen… I need your advice about… Yours ‘Somebody’

This person (let’s call her ‘Somebody’) is but one of a number of Christians who have asked me for advice, help, direction expecting me to have the mind of God on their situation.

Many times I give commonsense guidance but become aware that they’re hearing but not really listening and I learn later that they never acted and still have the same old problem! So I’ll start this way…

Dear Somebody
I understand your problem and I want to encourage you to relax and trust the Lord. Life is life… and many times problems come up out-of-the-blue and we have to make decisions. Now I’m not referring to normal everyday decisions such as what do I wear or make for dinner. As we automatically decide on those matters, so we often can do the same with bigger matters that arise… if we relax and give it all over to the Lord, at the same time sensing what ‘our heart’ is directing us to do.

I suggest if you don’t immediately know in your heart what to do, then pray (remember how prayer is the Christian’s secret FTE weapon!) Here’s how the threefold ‘FTE secret’ outworks –

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MARY – WHAT AN INCREDIBLE LADY!

(December 15, 2021) Geri B challenges us to live the message…

When we think of Christmas we naturally think of Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, born in a manger, born to die on a cross for the sins of the world.  That is as it should be!  There is no greater message to be proclaimed, nor any other focus that should be given.

But can I add that one of the greatest messengers of this truth is the mother of Jesus, Mary herself.  Mary does not preach this message, she lives it!

When we take time to go through the gospels and study this woman of God we find a very humble woman, great in faith, persistent in prayer and steadfast in her trust in God, specifically trusting that what he said about her son, Jesus, would come to pass.

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Willing to obey
In Luke 1:29-37 we read the conversation Mary had with Gabriel and her willing acceptance of God’s plan for her life – ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered.  ‘May it be to me as you have said’ (v38). 

From the very beginning – Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, the archangel of God Most High – we see a woman who is willing to do the will of God, and to do that will without fanfare, complaint, or requested recognition.

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