20pluscommunitydigestion

There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Archive for July, 2006

new blog for you to bookmark…

…by some of our own PCPC’ers–and 20+ers to boot! The Bronson’s, as you know, are preparing for a 2-year stint in Thailand with Mission to the World. Here’s their blog.

see, I told you so

Erika’s response to our prayers…and a look-in to her routine…now which co-worker in the cube next to yours are you gonna pray for today?


Hello Everyone!

Here’s a brief update on how and what I’ve been doing these past couple weeks.

Feeling Better

I sent out an email just the other day asking for prayers due to multiple day stomach issues, and thing are MUCH BETTER!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, thank you, for praying for my stomach. I am no longer weak and hungry from not eating. Praise the Lord! I was able to eat breakfast this morning, but I’ll probably stick to Ukrainian roma-noodles for a few more days, just to be safe. I’m back to smiling and being involved with those around me.

Day to Day

At 8:15am the team (11 people from Minnesota; 2 Australian women; one British guy; and three other Americans) meet for devotionals. The morning teachers teach grammar classes starting at 9am, and I and Paula (fr. Minnesota team) teach beginner conversation classes in the afternoon. We have one 3-6 students, all adults. These students are very eager to learn and they love to laugh, so class times are always enjoyable. After class the afternoon teachers have one-on-on conversations with three different people for 15 minutes each. It’s in these conversations where I’ve had the most opportunity to share who Christ really IS. A couple of my students are members of the orthodox church so they call themselves Christians but it’s by name only, other say they don’t believe in God. In one recent conversation I had, a student said she was a Christian, but that Jesus was not divine. She compared Christ to Budd and Muhammad. We talked a bit and I pray that God will use our conversation to help point her to the Truth.

In the evenings we have other activites with the students who are able to stay.

The City

Donetsk is in the far eastern part of the Ukraine, which is primarily industrial, so it’s not a very pretty town. When I’m outside I’m breathing in smoke from two factories which are right beside the University. I’ve been into town a few times, but most of my time is spent going between the academic building, my dorm room, and (before I got sick) the cafeteria. The people in this part of the Ukraine speak Russian and are more politically aligned with Russia. There is a lot going on in the western Ukraine, which you all have probably heard on the news, but this part of the Ukraine is not really affected by that.

The Food

I really enjoyed eating in the cafeteria, when my stomach could tolerate it. Ukrainians eat a lot of potatoes, bread, soup, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, and barley. For breakfast we have cereal provided in the dorm kitchens, but at lunch we eat soup with some kind of potato dish, and the something similar for dinner, minus the soup. They usually drink tea, because the water is not safe to drink without it being boiled. Bottled water that is offered to you usually has bubbles and is warm, ice is not used in drinks.

Orphanage

The last two days I went two different orphanages with the Minnesota team. The kids were so cute! We did crafts, played games, sang songs, and provided toothbrushes and other items for the children. These two orphanages are run by Christians. There are only three Christian run orphanages in all of Ukraine, the rest are government run. It was great to be there and support our brothers and sisters who run it, and to love on the kids a few days.

Extra

The Minnesota team has been really warm and welcoming to me, they consider me a part of their team, which is nice. They came from a church not a missions organization. There are Americans here that teach at DCU that are with other missions organizations. I’ve also met my “bosses” two career missionaries with WorldVenture who have been her for 12 years.

I’m rooming with a women,Olga, who is about 31-32 years old and she teaches Greek and Hebrew! She is from Russia, but went to seminary in the States, and she speaks about five languages!!! She is VERY, VERY sweet, intelligent and easy to talk to. She invites people to her “house” which is really a room with two twin beds (one bed in sunken in the middle), offers her guests tea and cookies, and they just fellowship. I’ve seen her have at least four different groups of people over (myself included more than once). She’ll even spend the whole evening translating from Russian to English so that everyone can be included in the conversation. It’s such a blessing to be with believers from all over the world and know that the one thing that brings us together is our relationship with Christ.

The End

There’s lots more to share, but I’ll stop here for now. THANK YOU for your prayer!!!! Please continue to pray. I’ll be back Monday afternoon.

Love,

Erika

stop what you’re doing

this will not take long to pray for, but if you’re too busy to pray, then you’re too busy.

a short request from Erika in the Ukraine:

Hi Everyone,

Teaching is going well. The students are great! The conversation times are going well too.

I am writing mainly to ask for prayer. I have been sick the last four days. It started with a headache and cold like symptoms (a result of sleeping with wet braided hair), but that’s gone now. It has moved to stomach issues. I’ve taken all the medicine I know to take and it has not made anything better. I haven’t missed a lesson or too many activities, but I’m moving slow and I don’t have a lot of energy. I don’t eat because it makes me sick, and of course not eating makes me weak, so it’s a bad cycle. The missionaries here know how to help me and other medicine is available, but I think it’s a matter of waiting it out, which is no fun. SO, please pray that I would get better. I’m hungry and want to eat without problems. Each day I get a little better, but I’m not 100% just yet.

Thanks for being there!

Erika

No time to spell check.

…and more reasons to stop dating the church:

Peter Leithart is a PCA pastor in Moscow, Idaho, who has written provocatively and prolifically (his prolificacy of speech rivaled only by the number of children he and his wife have (10)). Here’s a short essay for those who think church membership is not for them.

Why Should I Join A Church?
by Peter J. Leithart

The Church is not in good shape. Nearly every week we hear about another prominent Christian leader who has fallen into scandalous sin. Many shepherds feed their flocks a diet of baby food, if not outright poison. Few Churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper regularly, and few Christians appreciate its importance.

In the face of these facts, we can ask the question in the title of this essay with great urgency. Does God really require that I join a local Church? Do I really need to take formal vows of Church membership?

We believe that the answer to both questions is, Yes. Membership in a local congregation of Christ’s Church is not an option. Christians should join a local Church, and their effectiveness as Christians suffers if they do not. The following are biblical reasons for joining a local congregation.

God commands us to meet together to worship before Him. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to meet at the sanctuary three times a year to celebrate feasts (Ex. 23:14; Deuteronomy 16:16). In addition, they met every Sabbath in a “holy convocation” (Lev. 23:3). In the New Testament, God’s people are again commanded to assemble to worship their Lord (Heb. 10:25). There are no solitary Christians in the Bible; God always calls those He loves into a community.

God commands us to submit to the authority of His representatives, the elders of a local Church. The apostles set up an organized government for the Church. The community of God’s people is an organized community. Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders in each city (Tit. 1:5). Throughout the book of Acts, we find references to these rulers of local Churches ( Acts 11:30; 15:2ff.; 16:4; 20:17ff.) Hebrews 13:17 instructs us to obey the leaders who keep watch over our souls. Clearly, this verse refers to the elders of a local Church. If God wants us to submit to the authority of a local Church government, He surely wants us to join a local Church. Otherwise, who keeps watch for our souls? Who warns us when we stumble?

In the Lord’s Supper, we share in the body and blood of Christ. We have no life in ourselves. Christ is our life (Col. 3:4). Whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life, and will be raised, because His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink. By eating the flesh and blood of Christ we abide in Him, and He abides in us ( John 6:52-56). The bread we break and the cup we drink at the Lord’s Table is a sharing in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). Faithful participation in the Lord’s Supper is the source of our life. Moreover, when the Church eats the one bread, it shows itself to be one Body. Just as full citizenship in Israel was marked by participation in the Passover, so citizenship in the One Church is marked by participation in the Lord’s Supper.

The Church, through its leaders, has power to admit people to and to exclude them from the Lord’s Supper. This is shown in the fact that the most serious Church censure is excommunication, that is, exclusion from communion at the Table of the Lord. Jesus gave the apostles stewardship of the keys of the Kingdom (Mt. 16:13-20; 18:15-20). This power was granted to the Church, and is exercised in Christ’s name and in His place by the courts of elders of the Church (1 Cor. 5:1-5; 6:1-4). In order to eat from the Table, one must be admitted by the elders.

The Church is a covenant community. When Peter described the Church in his first epistle, he quoted several phrases from the Old Testament, all of which describe the covenant relationship between God and His people (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Just as Israel became God’s people through the covenant at Sinai (Dt. 5:2-3), so also the Church was constituted God’s covenant people by the covenant sealed with blood on Calvary.

Admission to the covenant community is by vow. In the Old Covenant, Israelites were admitted to the privileges of the covenant by circumcision, and in the New Covenant, admission to the Church is by baptism. Both circumcision and baptism are, among other things, vows of allegiance to God and to His people (e.g., Acts 8:37). Many people today, however, do not remain in the Church in which they were baptized, and some go for years without being a member of any Church. It is appropriate, therefore, when one attaches himself to a new local body, to reaffirm publicly the vows taken in baptism.

Finally, to show that this view of the importance of Church membership is the historical Reformed, Calvinist, and Presbyterian view, let me end with two quotations:

From the Westminster Confession of Faith, XXV.22:

“The visible church . . . consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”

From John Calvin, Institutes IV.1.4:

“. . . because it is now our intention to discuss the visible church, let us learn even from the simple title `mother’ how useful, indeed how necessary, it is that we should know her [i.e., the Church]. For there is no other way to enter into life unless this mother conceive us in her womb, give us birth, nourish us at her breast, and lastly, unless she keep us under her care and guidance until, putting off mortal flesh, we become like angels. Our weakness does not allow us to be dismissed from her school until we have been pupils all our lives” [emphasis added].

Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We should strive, then, not only to make sure that our names are enrolled in heaven, but also to have them inscribed on the gates of the earthly Zion (Heb. 12:23).

“stop test-driving your girl/boy-friend”


not a bad article:

dateline: Ukraine


and here’s a little update from our friend in the Ukraine, Erika

Hello Friends & Family:

I have made it safely to the Ukraine yesterday afternoon. It was raining when I arrived and it is still overcast today, but my understanding is that it is usually very hot. The campus is small and next to a beer factory.
Soon after I arrived I saw a person from training and two other English speaking persons who were teaching the first two weeks and they would like to stay longer and seemed to really enjoy their time here. I too am looking forward to meeting my students and the other teachers who will be arriving later this weekend.

Budapest Update:

Although I did’t meet with many of my other students, the time I spent with Szilvi, Melinda, and her parents were priceless. God answered our prayers by having Szilvi asking me a LOT of questions relating to God and the bible!
As we ate dinner the other night, somehow the conversation turned to spiritual matters, and Szilvi and I ended up talking until midnight. Our conversation covered topic such as the Da Vinci Code…why the wicked prosper and the “good” suffer…when God will judge murderers… life as a single person… homosexuality…etc. It was great! She seemed to just overflow with questions, and at times I wasn’t sure she wanted an answer, but after she took a breath, she would say, “I’m very interested in your opinion” and “What does the bible say…”.

Because of their communist background Szilvi and Melinda don’t believe in God, but they have some religious behaviors…they pray and give money to saints, and read the bible from time to time. They are very blind to their own sin, and often pointed to the bad things other people do. They think they are good and see no accountability to a higher power. So, when I said, Jeus died for man’s sin, it really didn’t mean much to them.

When I lived in Hungary I had to teach world religions to Melinda’s class, so I’ve already shared the gospel with her, and I’ve had a few conversations with Szilvi about God, which she initiated. Before I left Hungary in 2003, Szilvi asked for a bible (some of you may remember that) so she and Melinda read it from time to time. It’s a NLT student bible. Well, the morning that I left Hungary (yesterday) I wrote Szilvi a note with some scriptures that connected to the topics she inquired about. I knew she would read it, but I was surprised when she read it right then and asked me to show her how to find the scriptures in the bible! So, we sat on the floor and I showed her. Her comment to me was, “…show me because I am really interested in these things.” PRIASE THE LORD!!!! Szilvi not only asks questions but she looks for answers, so once she becomes a believer she will truly be dedicated and she will know why she has chosen Christ over other religions.
WHAT A BLESSING TO BE A PART OF THE WORK GOD IS DOING IN SZILVI’s LIFE!

My Old Church:

I was able to go to my old church Wendesday night, and what a treat it was!
I saw many old friends, American and Hungarian. That night a teen missionary group from MEXICO was visiting!!! How about that! Before the sermon, a few of the guys got up and sang in Spanish and in English, it was beautiful! It was so exciting being there. A lot of the Hungarians go on mission trips as well, and it’s just so wonderful to see and hear about their trips. An old friend at church, who is from Finland, but works with the church (which was an American church plant) had just gotten back from a trip to Russia and Turkey, so she gave me the rest of her Russian money, which was about two dollars.

What a blessing to be in Hungary those three days! I don’t know why God blessed me in that way but I’m grateful and tried to embrace every moment and opportunity.

That’s all for now! I’m late for orientation, so I have no time to check over the letter. I hope it all makes sense!

Love,

Erika

Our beloved Daniels has his summer plans. . .adjusted!

with great and surprised pleasure do I share the following email:

Greetings in His name. I am keeping well by God’s grace. Sorry I could not reply very promptly.I am in Madurai , about 300 milies down south of Chennai.

My internship is going on very well. I am teaching, preaching and doing Evangelism. Thank you for your prayers.

More over I am happy to inform you that I am getting married this summer

following are the information regarding the same.

Believing in God’s perfect timing and faithful plan my self Daniels and Annie Together with our parents

Mrs. & Rev. Aruldoss Gnanamuthu
And
Mrs. & Mr. Sam Chandradekaran

Want to inform you to celebrate with us as we commit our lives to one another before God in Marriage On Saturday the 15th of July Two thousand and six at four in the evening at the Church of South India , Palani.

Thank you once again for your prayers and love. Looking foward to see you. Convey my love and regards to everyone there.

with kind regards

Daniels
India.