How many times a day do you find yourself wondering “Why did I do that?” Maybe you were cut off in traffic and instinctively moved out to teach them a lesson (or get even, or whatever). Or maybe you said something stupid to your wife or spoke harshly to your children simply because you were feeling the burdens of the day. I’ve done those things. What’s on your list?...
How many times a day do you find yourself wondering “Why did I do that?” Maybe you were cut off in traffic and instinctively moved out to teach them a lesson (or get even, or whatever). Or maybe you said something stupid to your wife or spoke harshly to your children simply because you were feeling the burdens of the day. I’ve done those things.
What’s on your list?
So often we do or say something we hadn’t planned on and wonder where it came from. Many of them are things we wish we had not done or things we intended to do but didn’t.
The Apostle Paul noticed the same thing. He wrote “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15)
Whether it is from laziness, lack of discipline, liking some sin that we know we should be rid of, or claiming the devil or somebody else made me do it, we find ourselves thinking and acting in ways we don’t want. Paul says the problem is his sinful nature and asks “who will rescue me from this body of death?” Then he responds with a resounding “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ and submit to His Lordship, two kinds of things happen. First, we are reconciled to Him and become children of God and enter into His family. So, our standing before Him changes. Secondly, He begins to transform us into what we never could be, into what He designed us to be. So often, in our own strength, we grunt, push, and grit our teeth to change something about us and, at best, we might see some small, temporary improvement, but it usually doesn’t stick. That’s because only God’s transforming power is able to make the real changes we want and need.
Paul wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2)
The tool God has given us to get to know Him better, to know ourselves better, and to know His plan for our lives is the Bible. There is no substitute. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible becomes alive in us and we are transformed. Without regular, attentive Bible study, our growth will be stunted. And our service, joy and effective leadership of our families will be limited.
At MCC, we focus on God’s word during worship services. We also offer further opportunities to take in God’s word through Sunday School (for adults and children), men’s and women’s Bible studies, and community groups. These give the freedom of open discussion of a particular passage, what it means, and how we might apply it to our lives.
My expectation and my experience has been that these conversations are things that God uses to transform me as well as providing real fellowship with others who are also in the same transformation process. So, not only am I being transformed, but I also have the joy of seeing Him at work in the lives of others, making us to be the people He designed us to be.
In about a month, MCC has two women’s Bible studies begining, Men’s BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) meetings will resume and we will offer a Biblical Theology small group. These are all opportunities to enjoy great fellowship as you come to know God better and are built up in your faith. Come and see what God has for you in His word. Now is the time to be praying about which you might attend.
As your MCC Missions team, we are thankful for your continued support, resources, interest, encouragement, and most especially your prayers. We are also thankful that God opens hearts and minds, that He guides us in what He wants us to do and where He wants us to do it. During the first half of 2019 the MCC Mission’s Team has seen and felt God at work, especially opening new opportunities for us to spread the Gospel throughout His kingdom! Here are a few highlights from the first half of 2019.
As your MCC Missions team, we are thankful for your continued support, resources, interest, encouragement, and most especially your prayers. We are also thankful that God opens hearts and minds, that He guides us in what He wants us to do and where He wants us to do it. During the first half of 2019 the MCC Mission’s Team has seen and felt God at work, especially opening new opportunities for us to spread the Gospel throughout His kingdom!
Here are a few highlights from the first half of 2019.
First, we are still at work in Ethiopia, locally with ISI at UNM and Juntos in the international district and have a number of upcoming opportunities with ISI and Juntos as a new school year begins. Watch for information about these ministries in the coming months.
Next, we've had three significant mission trips during the first half of the year to Bolivia, India and Peru.
In January 2019, MCC sent Vince Tidwell to visit our Asociacion Ministerios Fuentes de Agua (AMFA) team in Peru. During the week he was there, Vince helped drill a well, visited indigenous churches, and connected with the local missionaries we help support; Jorge and Victor. Vince was encouraged by the strong relationships Jorge and Victor have developed with the isolated and marginalized Indian communities and was blessed to see how wells drilled over the years have improved lives in these impoverished communities.
Moving forward, MCC is hoping to begin sponsoring indigenous couples to attend local Bible Seminary for three-years of intensive study. The plan is for Jorge and Victor to identify couples from communities where wells have been drilled whom MCC can sponsor. These couple will attend Bible seminary and upon completion return to their village, establish and pastor a new church. Our goal is for the first couple to begin seminary January 2020!
In addition, Pastor Victor continues to evangelize in the communities where wells are being drilled and follows up with villages where wells were drilled in the past. Since January, Victor has held week-long meetings in seven different communities, reaching 50 to 100 Indians in each village with the Gospel Message!
Read Vince Tidwell's blog for more on this trip and join us in giving thanks for the work God is doing in Peru!
Watch for Part 2 of our "Missions Mid-Year Update" next week for an update on the India and Bolivia mission trips.
“What am I even doing here?” That’s what I thought as I wiped down the doorknobs with Clorox wipes. Again. When I first began helping in my classroom at A. Montoya, I wasn’t really sure I was “helping”. I had envisioned becoming a child’s hero as I taught them a super cool way to do math. I had dreamed of sharing heart-felt talks with little ones about how special they were. I had believed that I could be...
“What am I even doing here?”
That’s what I thought as I wiped down the doorknobs with Clorox wipes. Again.
When I first began helping in my classroom at A. Montoya, I wasn’t really sure I was “helping”. I had envisioned becoming a child’s hero as I taught them a super cool way to do math. I had dreamed of sharing heart-felt talks with little ones about how special they were. I had believed that I could be the answer to all a teacher’s practical needs.
But in my classroom? There were 3 EAs who worked constantly to keep up with all of the children’s physical and academic needs…which changed on a daily (or sometimes hourly) basis. Many of the students could not speak. One could not even move on his own. Though there were only nine children in the classroom, considering their level of need, it was by far the most over-crowded class I’ve ever encountered.
The need was SO great. And I felt SO ill-equipped. The teacher didn’t know what to do with me, and didn’t have time to think about it. So she set me to disinfecting the room, throwing away old markers, cutting out numbers and words for activities, and filling up water bottles. I did this for several weeks, and just kept thinking, “Be faithful with little.”
And then Micah showed up.
Micah brought the house down. Micah was a 9-year-old non-verbal kid with autism, and had never, ever been in school before. He had a ton of energy, loved to run away, got easily overwhelmed, and would scream until he decided not to scream anymore. I came in on Micah’s second day. Honestly, I’m not sure any of the amazing teachers in that room thought they could make it to the end of the week, let alone the end of the school year at that point.
My job changed that day.
While my teacher worked with Micah on just focusing on an activity, I practiced sight words with Lilly. When Gracie wouldn’t wheel herself up the ramp because no one could pay attention to her right that second, I raced her up. When Robert couldn’t sit still and kept bothering Matthew as numerous diapers were being changed and feeding tubes were being used, I did yoga with them. When everyone needed a break, I took Micah to play basketball in the gym. And do you know what happened? My teachers took all of these acts from me as personal offerings of love and support.
I know that a handful of people, motivated by God’s unfathomably huge love, and willing to simply show up and share their lives, does indeed constitute an army; and the revolution happens because of the love being communicated through their small acts of service.
One teacher hugged me at the end of that day, thanking me for being there.
Next week, one sobbed at lunch and shared her anxious heart with me.
Next week, another asked me to pray for her.
Week after that, they all got upset when I had to miss class because I had a sick kid at home. I was actually missed.
And pretty soon, there we were, sharing life together.
The kids began to benefit from my presence too, but not necessarily in the ways I’d thought they would. Some days, Lilly got more individual attention from her teacher because I was there. Some days, Gracie got extra PT time because I was there. Some days, Lilly spent more time learning her sight words with her teacher because I was there to take Caelen to PE. My teachers were able to take more breaks on the days I showed up, and so, they were more refreshed and relaxed when they came back to teach.
I still help in the same class; but now there are only 2 children in it. The teachers don’t really need my help anymore. But they are so sad when I can’t make it to class. They look forward to having my support, my face to laugh with, my arms to hug, and the relief of having someone walk in the door who is always, always in their corner.
I used to think that we needed tons of people, tons of hours, tons of experience, and tons of time spent doing deeply meaningful things with those at our school to make any kind of difference in our community. This year, I lost a few volunteers. I also started to feel that my church was becoming far less engaged at our school than I thought we would be at this point. I became very discouraged, wondering again, “What are we even doing here? Does any of this matter? How are our cookies, our cut-outs, our hours spent at the school ever going to affect any real change at all?”
I reached out to the staff at the school with an email that held the subject line, “How are we doing?” I asked all of our teachers for feedback on our service, and received the following reply from our librarian:
“Ashley- I think Shine has fundamentally changed our school. There is a strong current of love/hope that impacts each one of us. There are cookies, coffee, and snacks in the lounge. There are extra supplies, gift cards (I GOT ONE THIS TIME during a staff meeting- thank you!!) for teachers, and capable caring adults in the classrooms. My students really enjoy Elaine who comes to the Library. She reads to them, talks to them and organizes the library. She always has a smile and at Christmas she and Trish give me a Starbucks gift card.
Felisa organizes our workroom (which has never looked better). Cabinets and drawers are marked and easy to use. She asked me about good books to share her love of reading with the 4th grade student she works with. She talked to me about the possibility of a bookmobile to go into communities. The energy directed at being part of the community is inspiring. The answer to many of the problems we face in a school is caring adults.
Your program has infused us with an army of support. My library is physically and emotionally a better place because of Shine. Thank you. Is it possible for us to attend a service one Sunday and show our appreciation? It would be fun to come together. Let me know and I can organize it.”
On May 19, they did come. We sang, we prayed, we took communion…together.
I used to think we’d never make a difference unless we had an army of people showing up to bring an all-out revolution at our school. Now I know that a handful of people (in our case, that’s 6), motivated by God’s unfathomably huge love, and willing to simply show up and share their lives, does indeed constitute an army; and the revolution happens because of the love being communicated through their small acts of service.
When was the last time you asked yourself, “What am I even doing here?” If you haven’t asked it recently, I challenge you to find a place you can show up with just your presence to offer. I believe you’ll find that the answer to this question is always, “SO much more than you think.”
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Northern New Mexico mountains. I consider them my home waters and in some cases, just a short hour long drive from my house, I can be knee deep in crystal clear cold water fishing for trout. During the summer months, many of the streams can be...
I have written often of my love for fishing our Northern New Mexico mountains. I consider them my home waters and in some cases, just a short hour long drive from my house, I can be knee deep in crystal clear cold water fishing for trout.
During the summer months, many of the streams can be busy places and why not? The proximity to Texas and more warmer climates to the south, make them a refuge for many visitors weary of the heat down below.
Although I will cast a fly in some of the more popular streams in Northern New Mexico, I often frequent the wilderness.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
It is in the wilderness I find peace, solitude and communion with God. And although I usually hit the wilderness waters a dozen times a year, it is only on rare occasion that I have seen another fisherman.
As I make my way down to the river, I hear its voice speaking to me from below as it’s waters tumble down the mountain. Other than the voice of the river, there isn’t another sound in the canyon. A group of mule deer browse quietly and they are mostly unaware or unconcerned with my presence.
As I get to the river, I look for the best holding water and slip quietly into the cold water. It’s summertime and temperatures are somewhere in the low 70’s in this high mountain country. It represents a perfect scenario for fly fishing for trout in the Southern Rockies.
With the orange stimulator and bead header dropper, my enticing combination is cast into the water. Instantly, a hungry brown trout attacks the fly. As I pull the trout in to my net, I am not surprised. It is never big on this small stream, yet it is wild and an intimate part of God’s creation. It is perfection on earth.
With the exception of the river tumbling over the rocks down the canyon, it is completely silent in the wilderness. There are no human voices, cars or other sounds to disturb this perfect version of God’s creation. But the river is still there. It is a deafening silence that is only broken by the sound of the river.
Our lives are at times like that, especially in those moments when we are unclear if God is speaking to us or even listening. But the reality is, God is always there and hears our prayers. We may only hear deafening silence as we go to Him in prayer. However, like the river, God is always there offering refuge to us in our time of need.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. – Psalm 46:1-3
Think back to your first day at college. For some of us it may be longer than we want to admit. It was a time of big changes in your life. You were no longer the “big” person on campus. There was a whole new schedule and vibe to college. And, to make matters worse, they expected you to study. For those that went off to college, you had the added challenge of a new city to navigate and no mother to cook your meals or do your laundry. Now consider what it would be like if you were studying in a different country...
Think back to your first day at college. For some of us it may be longer than we want to admit. It was a time of big changes in your life. You were no longer the “big” person on campus. There was a whole new schedule and vibe to college. And, to make matters worse, they expected you to study. For those that went off to college, you had the added challenge of a new city to navigate and no mother to cook your meals or do your laundry.
Now consider what it would be like if you were studying in a different country. You would have the extra challenges of having to adjust to a whole new culture, new foods and a new language. All of this with your support group thousands of miles away. You are particularly reminded of this as you step off the plane, sleep deprived, needing to find the campus and a place to live.
This is why International Students Inc. (ISI) exists—to share Christ's love with international college students during a time when they need it most.
Since 1953, ISI has been training Americans to meet international students' needs. These Americans befriend international students and help them adjust to American culture. ISI staff and volunteers are working on 677 campuses across the country, including the University of New Mexico, to orient and acquaint international students to their new home and cultural experience.
In fact, many universities encourage students in their acceptance letter to reach out to ISI for assistance in acclimating.
In 2018 alone, the UNM ISI Team:
- Served 1,600 lunches,
- Picked up 120 students from the airport,
- Hosted 105 students for temporary homestays,
- Helped 65 students find housing,
- Helped 190 students get furniture for their apartments, and
- Hosted almost 300 students at the Welcome center.
ISI is touching the lives of countless students, helping them to settle into life in Albuquerque. But ISI’s reach does not stop there. Seventy students participated in hiking and sightseeing groups. Over 125 students were paired with Friendship Partners who meet at least monthly with the student to have fun and assist with life’s little challenges. Additionally, twenty-five students participated in Bible Studies, fifty students attended Home Groups and four made a profession of faith.
The impact of this work is multiplied when these students return home to share their faith, literally all over the world.
Maybe the coolest part of it all is that God lets us be a part of what he is doing. There are so many opportunities to get engaged, all with the opportunity to have some fun, meet some really interesting and energetic students, and to do something eternally meaningful. In fact, ISI will be looking for help in a number of ways, including:
- Picking students up at the airport,
- Hosting short-term home stays (2-5 nights) where you simply need to get the student to the Welcome Center each morning and pick them up a the end of the day,
- Assist student’s in finding an apartment,
- Picking up and delivering furniture,
- Organizing and leading hiking and sight-seeing trips,
- Become a Friendship Partner (monthly activities with the same student throughout their stay at UNM)
- Assisting with English classes,
- Donate meals or furniture, and
- Most importantly, you can pray.
All of this is starting now! Stan Schug and I get constant requests for volunteers. If you can help just let us know your interest and when you are available, we will help get you connected. If your not sure bring your questions to us, or better yet, join us on an ISI event—you won’t regret it.
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Men’s Bible Study Fellowship starts THIS Tuesday, September 10 at 6:30pm in the MCC Library. This year they will be studying “Acts and Letters of the Apostles”. BSF provides an in-depth, international Bible study that helps people know God and equips them to effectively serve the Church. Contact Tom Young.
Women’s Community Bible Study begins this week; September 10th and 11th! The evening group meets Tuesdays at 6:30pm in the Fellowship Hall beginning September 10 and the morning group meets Wednesdays at 9:15am beginning September 11! Childcare is provided for the Wednesday study only. Contact Pam Cravens.
The Women’s Peacemaking Study is Thursdays at 10:00am in the Conference Room beginning September 19. This study offers a meaningful, lasting message to lead you out of conflict and into a state of peace where you can live as a representative of Christ to other women and unbelievers. Contact Christine Leggett.
MCC Elders are hosting a 4-week Foundations Class starting September 15. This class is designed to better help you get to know MCC - who we are, what we believe and why, and how to get connected. Please sign up with Sarah.
With winter coming the Wood Ministry is already getting calls requesting wood but we need men, women, and couples to serve as sponsors! For those interested in learning about Wood Ministry sponsorship, there is a training Saturday, October 12th at 9:00am in the conference room. We would love to share what it means to be a sponsor and how sponsorship through the wood ministry changes lives by helping people see their own value and build their own support systems by sharing our time and a few cords of wood. Contact Sarah at the church office.
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Are you interested in being a witness for Christ in a remote part of the world? Have you wondered if a short-term mission trip is right for you? If so, join us for an informational meeting to discuss our Spring 2020 Bolivia Mission trip with Food for the Hungry next Sunday, September 8th after 2nd service in the Youth Hall. Contact Jennifer Ward.
Sisters in Stitches is meeting Wednesday, September 11 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm in the Fellowship Halll. All SIS and interested women are encouraged to join us to fellowship and discuss on-going plans for this ministry. Snacks will be provided. Contact Davra Clayton for more information and to RSVP .
ABQ Biblical Counseling is hosting "A Biblical Response to Mental Health Conference” September 13-15 at Desert Springs Church. Registrations will be accepted until September 12th! Visit abqbcc.com for more information.