There is a video where a bunch of people are riding an escalator and it lurches to a stop. A man checks his phone, a woman yawns for a moment, and the camera shows the crowd waiting. But suddenly a man realizes he isn’t moving. He looks around anxiously, the yawning woman notices and starts getting agitated. Soon, there are...
“Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.” ~Psalm 37:37
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
There is a video where a bunch of people are riding an escalator and it lurches to a stop. A man checks his phone, a woman yawns for a moment, and the camera shows the crowd waiting. But suddenly a man realizes he isn’t moving. He looks around anxiously, the yawning woman notices and starts getting agitated. Soon, there are cries of help! “We are stuck! Help us! We can’t move!”
A kind person comes over to them and teaches them how to walk up the non-moving stairs and relief permeates the screen as it fades away.
Does that seem absurd? Of course it does! But isn’t that how conflict seems to the person who feels trapped in it? And no one wants to be stuck in conflict! Think about this - the world doesn’t really tell you how to get out of it. The world tells us to “fight for our rights”, “stand our ground”, or at best, to “ignore it”.
For a Christian, conflict should look different; it takes wise biblical counsel and prayer to work through hurt and anger. We take one another to the Gospels of Matthew, of Luke, the letter to the Philippians or the Colossians, or the Corinthians and remind each other how we have been freely forgiven and now reflect that forgiveness to others!
But what about the person who doesn’t have this luxury?
As one who has been redeemed, we actually have the privilege of helping a person walk the stairs of the escalator of conflict to enter into a form of peace! How can this be?
Because we belong to the Prince of Peace, the God who went to unfathomable lengths to make peace with us, the Great Teacher who instructs us how to reflect that priceless peace! And we can not only teach others the tools, but build a bridge to share the Gospel as they learn that God’s ways truly are unimpeachable!
We hope you will come to the Peacemaking as Evangelism workshop January 25-26 at MCC where you will learn some tools to be the blessing of reflecting the Peacemaker in your work and in your community! Lunch will be provided.
Please sign up with Elizabeth today!
In weekly home groups, Bible studies, and Sunday schools, the Lord is growing, healing, and deepening His people. One leader summarizes it well by saying, “We've continued to see home group families take care of each other for births, stresses, and other major events.” This fall saw the launch of our first...
In weekly home groups, Bible studies, and Sunday schools, the Lord is growing, healing, and deepening His people. One leader summarizes it well by saying, “We've continued to see home group families take care of each other for births, stresses, and other major events.” This fall saw the launch of our first systematic theology class.
Women's Bible Study
One women’s Bible study leader reported, “In our group, the Lord has delivered a woman from her fears and sense of inadequacy. She is delighting in savoring His Word!” And in another group, “One woman has completely embraced and encouraged women who are on the fringe. At one time, she felt left out but now is tireless as she reaches out weekly to 3-5 women herself! She has not only a heart, but a true gift for making others feel comfortable.”
Other groups report of going from the need to be connected, to joyfully serving together. And one of the adult Sunday School classes summarizes, “we have grown through our study of Paul’s epistles, and have also grown together in fellowship and lifting each other up in prayer.”
Mid-High Sunday School
The mid-high Sunday School class is an encouraging place to be! Kara says that you should be a fly on the wall, to see the way that the Spirit is showing Himself. “These kids are so kind and encouraging to each other. We have seen kids who came into the class as eager, soon to be sixth graders (maybe a bit too rambunctious for the soon to be eighth graders) but you would never know it.
The more experienced kids are gently helping shape the younger kids, showing them how to interact in a group setting. Encouraging their younger brothers and sisters in Christ, and showing them what it looks like to do your best to have your words, and actions reflect His love. Hearing one of the older kids explain to the entire class what her personal, intimate relationship with Christ is really like, and then having the wisdom (probably after reading some of the kids' faces) to say, ‘your relationship may be totally different, you just have to spend time with Him in prayer and reading His word’, or things equally as jaw dropping, is a REGULAR occurrence in this class - God is so alive and well in these kids!”
Through biblical counseling, lives are also being renewed and built up. Two women who were in conflict, when willing to consider God’s encouragement in His Word, not only reconciled but were drawn closer than ever before. That is not always the outcome, but the Lord has done so in this case! The Lord has freed women from chains of sin, of shame, depression, fear, and bitterness and brought peace into households through His loving Word. More than one marriage that seemed irreconcilable is now strengthened and renewed. In fact, some who have been discipled and changed by His Word, are now seeking to disciple and get training to counsel others.
Women's Serving Team
And the Women’s Serving Team has begun to have an impact on those who might not otherwise be involved, or who might find it hard to meet with groups at their regular times. They report, “Wow; we’ve been blessed abundantly this year. The Lord has been kind to use this ministry for His glory! We've had two morning Mugs & Muffins and two evening Sips & Salads with 30-50 women in attendance. We've also added a new feature of a craft project designed to promote gratitude and it was a hit! It's been a blessing to hear different women speak at these events and learn how God is working in their lives. As we hear their testimonies, learn new perspectives and study the gospel together, new relationships are being formed and existing relationships are being strengthened!"
"We also got to host our first Christmas party: 38 women attended, where we had a playfully brutal white elephant gift exchange, and deeper friendships were made. It was more than we ever could have hoped for! We are so grateful for the support of the ladies on the WST, for each of the women willing to speak and share their hearts at our Sips & Salads/Mugs & Muffins events and for all the support and encouragement we've received.”
The Lord has blessed MCC abundantly this year. We are forever grateful for the opportunities He puts before us as a church body, for His provision and mostly for His grace. Please join us in giving thanks for all He has done in 2018 and pray that He will continue to open doors, prepare hearts and use the work of our hands to transform His people for His glory in 2019.
Our Women’s Community Bible Study has drawn women into the Word for years, and continues to minister to women from other churches, and even some in our community who don’t attend a church. A number of other ministries (Youth, VBS, etc.) are also actively trying to find better ways to build bridges to the community, to make it easier for people to learn about...
"Let the Word of Christ dwell in your richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God."
Our Women’s Community Bible Study has drawn women into the Word for years, and continues to minister to women from other churches, and even some in our community who don’t attend a church. A number of other ministries (Youth, VBS, etc.) are also actively trying to find better ways to build bridges to the community, to make it easier for people to learn about the gospel. We even had some men host an evangelistic men’s study, using the More Than a Carpenter material to investigate the claims of Christ. Here are some other specific examples.
Vacation Bible School
In addition to our regular week-long activities, several families helped with VBS-concurrent and post-VBS events, seeking to offer common grounds to build new friendships. One of the offerings was a playdate in the park, for VBS families to further connect. Another was the Coffee & Donuts, where parents met after dropping-off their children for the morning. We made connections with several parents who attended, and one mom “just happened” to sit next to a new person, before learning that they had recently become neighbors!
As for the week itself, nearly 60% of the kids were not from MCC, and 18% of them listed no home church. Many, many specific prayers were answered, where the Lord helped us to love sacrificially, and learn to share truth with grace and patience.
One particular divine appointment happened when a worker was sharing with her class, and during the lesson mentioned that her own parents were now in heaven. Two girls, siblings, then shared that their parents were also in heaven. The worker later learned that the children, part of a group of 7 siblings, had lost their parents just a few months before, in a car accident in Texas. But this spontaneous testimony helped to open the door for her to love them and bless them. The Lord had opportunities like this that were ordained for us throughout the week, and we were privileged to walk in them!
Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS)
After launching a sister MOPS group out of the one at MCC, the leadership team had a daunting rebuilding task before this year. But Michelle, Charity, Susan, Carrie, Hope, Kelli, Jeanette, Patty and Penny have invested in the lives of moms and children with a passion! Michelle reports that they have had many new moms from the community this year, and they have worked together to do a bit of even further outreach to the community through the Fall Fire Safety Fiesta, and globally by packing 15 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. She writes, “it has all been a pleasure and a joy to be a part of. Many mamas come together searching for a place of connection ... and in our little group I feel like they get that and more! They not only connect to other mamas but they get a connection to friends, community, a network of resources and the ultimate connection… to Christ’s love.”
Our little Food Pantry continues to watch God open doors, and make new connections. We have established relationships with several families, and there are a few of the monthly visitors who regularly stay to have tea, share stories, be loved on, and have their prayer requests lifted up. There’s too much to include here, so stay tuned for a full report from Barbara later this week!
In much the same way, the Lord has allowed our church office to be a place of His presence for passersby and people in need. We have had opportunities to pray with a Culligan man, a UPS man, and the manager at the Shell Gas Station. We have given the Bible to a non-believer, and shared the gospel with a homeless man who slept on our back steps.
He is teaching us to rely on Him every week, and surprising us with His blessings.
Watch for the final post in the "God's Grace in 2018" series later this week!
Christ came into the world to re-establish His kingdom. Although His kingdom is “not of this world”, yet He came into the world to do His kingdom work here. He is reclaiming what is His ... and transforming lives in the process. He works in human hearts, families, communities, and particularly through His Church. What a privilege to be a part of that work! We have seen Him changing lives in 2018! Let’s rejoice, in the ways that He has been willing to use us. Let’s celebrate, as He works in our going out, our bringing in, and in our building up. Here are a few of the highlights from this year...
“... I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ~Mt. 16:18
“... the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
~ Lk. 17:21
Christ came into the world to re-establish His kingdom. Although His kingdom is “not of this world”, yet He came into the world to do His kingdom work here. He is reclaiming what is His ... and transforming lives in the process. He works in human hearts, families, communities, and particularly through His Church.
What a privilege to be a part of that work! We have seen Him changing lives in 2018! Let’s rejoice, in the ways that He has been willing to use us. Let’s celebrate, as He works in our going out, our bringing in, and in our building up.
Here are a few of the highlights from this year:
As we continue to be drawn into deeper relationships with teachers and families at A. Montoya through our Shine school partnership we have had the privilege of praying teachers, parents and kids through hard times, getting food into the hands of kids in food-unstable homes, and even providing assistance to a teacher in need of running water. We have learned so much from our hard-working teachers and parents. We have watched children share the good news of the gospel with one another in the library. Throughout the year, God has provided the means with which to bless teachers with needed supplies, a child with glasses he required, tons of kids with books, and some families with necessities.
God has often given us the opportunity to encourage and speak truth into people’s lives because they are now our friends. He has blessed us as well, through the encouragement they have given us, and through the investment of their friendship. Our hearts are being continually woven closer together, all to God’s glory.
The Villa Santa Maria
The Lord has really flung open the doors to our relationship with the Villa Santa Maria. The Villa is a residential treatment community for children, located right here in Cedar Crest. While we have had the privilege of being asked to meet with individual residents there for Bible study over the years, the end of 2017 and this year saw the doors open for us to meet with as many as 5 boys and 4 girls in two groups! We are also getting to better know and encourage the staff. They are sharing prayer requests with us and inviting us to take part in celebrations, mediations, and conversations! One child from the Villa was baptized in conjunction with her parents’ visit over the summer. And we have met with staff to ask about how to better lead Bible study and discussions with this audience. We learn so much from this community, and are humbled by the care-givers (some believers and some not) who invest so much of themselves. While transformation tends to come slowly, the whole community has allowed us to take a little part in it, and we see God regularly at work in them and in us.
Our hearts are being continually woven closer together, all to God’s glory.
In 2015, we originally sent two MCC elders to Ethiopia to train pastors and evangelists with Training Leaders International. The training was received with joy and enthusiasm, as church leaders there learned to more capably handle God’s Word, and how to study it for themselves. And as these Elders worked with the African leaders who so love the Lord, they were blessed by their infectious spirit. Though these interactions, the Lord opened the door for us to partner with local missionaries to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to unreached people groups in southern Ethiopia. The MCC Missions Team investigated the opportunity, and we supported one national missionary in 2017. This year, we began to support four local missionaries in this work of taking Christ where His name is not known.
A third elder, Vince, has connections and has served the Lord in well-drilling and evangelism in the jungles of Peru. These, too, are opportunities to work with unchurched tribes. In the past year, this work has expanded to include our support of a traveling evangelist. He continually returns to visit the areas where wells have been gifted, and furthers the gospel ministry there. Many of these areas can be reached only by float plane, and represent some very hard-to-reach places.
All of this broadens our appreciation for common grace, and grows our own hearts for God’s special grace to be known by everyone we meet!
Our real introduction to “mutual transformation” ministry came through Food for the Hungry, and our relationship with Sucre, Bolivia. Last Spring we continued to deepen our impact and deepen our own understanding, as we sent another team to the second community that we’ve partnered with there, in Villa Margarita. Not only do our teams get to bless and love the children and families in the community, but they are a strategic and life-giving support to the national FH staff!
In turn, our teams are humbled by the love and joy that shower them on each visit. Through this relationship, the Lord opened the door for us to learn about Sutisana - a ministry to women in the red-light district in La Paz. Marvin has begun to consult with the ministry there, to assist them as they endeavor to build life-sustaining businesses for these women. As they learn to walk in the light and grace of Christ, they are also getting skills for rebuilding their world. This year we also helped to fund this business-as-mission endeavor for the first time, coming alongside their national leaders with love to help them make this God-sized dream a reality.
Gideons - Helps Ministry - Wood Ministry - Shield
We prayed for the Gideon’s International Scripture “Blitz” in September. Mike Brazie reported that the combined efforts of Gideons from here and other states, helped to give away 40,000 Scriptures. He personally heard stories of 6 people who made decisions for Christ during those days.
The Wood Ministry has hosted several work days this fall, already involving families from the community in not only procuring wood for themselves, but in strengthening their relationships. The Helps ministry leaders assisted a woman who needed help with her water heater.
And the Shield ministry has raised up intercessors for our own MCC first-responders and their families. At appreciation dinners, testimonies were shared about answered prayer and God’s presence with these men and their families as they go about their work. Along the way, in all of this, we have gotten to make wonderful new friends, and learn from the lives of others. All of this broadens our appreciation for common grace, and grows our own hearts for God’s special grace to be known by everyone we meet!
Join us in gifting thanks for all the ways God has used MCC Ministries in 2018 and check back on Monday for Part II in this series, "God's Grace in 2018 - Bringing In."
When Michael and I started dating, we would write each other little notes, poems, songs, and cards. Some were silly, some serious, but all were treasured. We each had to learn the lingo that the other used, though. He was from California and some of his terminology was foreign to this New Mexico girl. Reading the written words of love were powerful...
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ~John 1:1
When Michael and I started dating, we would write each other little notes, poems, songs, and cards. Some were silly, some serious, but all were treasured. We each had to learn the lingo that the other used, though. He was from California and some of his terminology was foreign to this New Mexico girl.
Reading the written words of love were powerful; I still have them in a box. Someday, I will give them to Gabriel to read. They are a reminder of our marriage, long after his death. Although they bring sorrow, knowing he is with our Lord brings comfort.
Why? Because God, Himself, has written about Himself too! Think about this – God gave us language, and has given us Scripture so that we can know Him! God uses His Word to draw us near to Him, that we would fall in love with Him. Words that can be read, re-read and read again!
On Sunday, we had the privilege of hearing from Mike Brazie, and the ministry of Gideons International. Hearing the testimonies of how the Lord uses His Word may also remind you of how rich it is for you personally. If you are looking for a plan or some encouragement, we'd love to help. We want to encourage you to start the new year by setting aside some time to better know the God who created everything!
We get it: knowing where to start, how to go about reading the Bible, can feel overwhelming. But it’s worth it! Pastor Frank has compiled a list of Bible Reading plans to help you started!
Here are a few great links for Bible reading plans:
- 5-Day Reading Plan
- Reading Plan app
- Not-free apps for reading Scripture in chunks, from "She Reads Truth"
- Many other options, from Ligonier ministries
E-List SignUp Form
MCC Elders and Connectors are hosting a Starting Point Lunch on January 13th after 2nd service. The luncheon is a great way to learn more about MCC, ask questions and meet new people! We encourage anyone who is considering making MCC their church home to attend and get connected! Contact Elizabeth to RSVP today.
For any ladies interested in prophetic literature or wanting to begin a Bible Study in the New Year, MCC is starting a new Bible Study in January! What is the heart behind the roar of the Lion from Zion? In this 16-week study through the book of Amos, beginning January 7th and meeting Monday mornings at 10 a.m., you will learn about a loving God who prepares His people to live forever. We hope you will consider joining us for this fantastic study! Child care is provided. Please contact Elizabeth Allan to learn more.
If you have ever felt like you don't fit in, that you aren't good enough, that everyone else has it together while you struggle to even show up, then we invite you to join us. We want you to learn that we have a God who lifts the pain of worthlessness and rejection! Starting Thursday, January 17th, Sara Ghormley and Elizabeth Allan will lead discussions as we prayerfully work through Ed Welch's book, "Shame Interrupted". We begin at 6:30 and end at 8, and will meet for 16 weeks. Cost is $16 per person, but scholarships are available. Please contact Elizabeth and let her know so she can order a book for you.
Would you like to learn how to respond to conflict Biblically? Pastor Frank Malizzo, Elizabeth Allan and Spencer Brown are hosting a Peacemaking as Evangelism Workshop at MCC on January 25th-26th. The class will highlight Biblical tools that can be used for work, in the community, in the home and as a tool for evangelism. “Conflict presents unique opportunities to serve other people, we can demonstrate the love of Christ and give witness to the gospel even to people who are attacking us.” Ken Sande. Contact Elizabeth to learn more.