Two brothers, Merga Eseta and his brother Lemma are graduates of the Nekempt Preacher Training School. Lemma has been walking 4 hours once a week to a place called Aluma Negero to preach where members of his family live. He has a number of people in a Bible study and is confident a Church will be established there very soon. Another graduate, Hinka, has started preaching in a new place called Gemta Anewma, a 4 hour walk in the other direction and has planted a new congregation there. Moti, a PTS graduate, is from Nejo also. He has gone to the Muchocho Giorges area and just baptized 3 people and planted the Church in that area. These churches continue to grow and mature in Christ.
This is how it works! When 10 or 15 men graduate from the preacher training school some of them go back to their home congregations. Others go to new places, plant and start new congregations. Every new congregation needs at least one preacher but over time will send two or three. The extra trained preachers strengthen the Church that sent them and go out on foot teaching and planting new congregations. These new congregations need a trained local and so the process repeats itself. The Lord set up this pattern of spreading the gospel. Paul told Timothy to teach faithful men, who will teach faithful men, who will teach faithful men----(2 Timothy 2:2). The Lord’s pattern of teaching still works!
The Church in Ethiopia requests our prayers and gives thanks for supporting them through the years.
This has been a great year for watermelons. Picking out a good watermelon is difficult because no matter how good it looks on the outside, it’s hard to tell what it’s really like on the inside. We can tap it, thump it and squeeze it, only to take it home and discover that the inside is not sweet or is mushy.
On one occasion when Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands before eating, the Pharisees became extremely irritated because it violated one of their man‑made traditions (Mark 7:1‑8). Jesus immediately challenged them by saying:
“All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9).
He went so far as to call them “hypocrites” (Mark 7:6) and explained that what comes from the inside of an individual is what “defiles” him, not the other way around (Mark 7:14‑23).
If we’re not careful, we can become so absorbed with looking good on the outside, that we forget what really counts. In fact, when we get to the place where we think “we’ve arrived,” we sometime become proud of ourselves and harshly and wrongfully judge others. Harboring bitterness, clinging to critical attitudes, and thinking too highly of ourselves are the kind of defiling things that make us guilty of Jesus’ charge of being a “hypocrite.”
The point is this: It’s the things on the inside of our heart — our thoughts and attitudes that really matter to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 10:5; John 4:23‑24.
Sometimes, we may act in a way that might make our brother or sister stumble. When Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians, he answers a question that sometimes might be hard to understand. He deals with our conscience and the people we are around. Why is one’s freedom limited by another’s conscience? The answer is love. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says this about love “Love does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” Love does not act with rudeness, Love is courteous and has manners. Love is not offensive to others, tactfulness and politeness are always part of a Christian’s behavior. Love does not insist upon it’s rights, Love is unselfish, Love is happy in the happiness of others. Love seeks the best interests of others.
Why am I writing these things about love? The answer is, because we are family. We get things done when we are united as a family. We have no time to look for bad because we are the family of God. It is an amazing thing that happens when a family is united, great things can be done.
I am reminded of this when I look at baseball teams that have won the World Series. In 1979 a team won the series with not the best of talent, although they were very good. Every time at the ball game a song was sung by the band Sister Sledge, which was titled, “We are Family.” We can do great things like the Pittsburgh Pirates. We can win souls with God’s help, what a great series that would be. Great things happen when we love each other and we act like family.
I have a scar on my finger today that reminds me of something I did more than 40 years ago. I was 5 or 6 years old at the time. I was in the backyard of my grandfather's yard watching his dog, Bo chew on a pork chop bone. For some reason I decided to take the bone away from him. Bo expressed to me that he'd rather I not do that by growling first and then biting me when I failed to take the first hint. I ran into the house crying and bleeding looking for someone to care for my wound. My grandfather met me first. "What happened?" he asked. I told him. He then replied, "Don't do that!" I haven't.
Some of the situations people get themselves into may seem to them harmless at first. They may do things like hang out with the wrong crowd and go to the wrong places. They may rationalize this by saying, "As long as I didn't do anything wrong I don't see the problem." They may see themselves as the exception to the rule, "Play with fire and you'll get burned" or "Lie down with dogs and you'll get up with fleas." And gradually the sinful environment they've immersed themselves into begins to chip away at their resolve. Before long drunkenness is not that big of a deal, profanity is just words, and having sex with someone you're not married to is just for fun. At first they ignore the "growling" of the conscience and do what they do because that's what they want to do. Then sin all of a sudden bites and it leaves a scar. It leaves scars that remain even if you've repented and been forgiven. It leaves scars of unplanned pregnancies, abortions and changing the plans you had for your life. It leaves scars of drunken brawls, drunken drivers and death. It not only scars those who made the foolish decisions but also those who were simply unfortunate enough to meet them on the highway. Hear the Word of the Lord, I Corinthians 15:33... "Do not be fooled: bad friends will ruin good habits." (NCV)\
Psalm 119:63... "I am a friend to everyone who fears you. I am a friend to anyone who follows your orders." (NCV)
We can try later in life to cover the scars of the choices we've made. But wouldn't it be better to not get bit in the first place?
Do you ever think, I would sure like to know some of the people that I worship with better, but just never get to the other side of the building to meet them? We might just get comfortable with the people we have known for some time and never make the attempt to meet others. We are so blessed with people from different walks of life, that it just might be to our detriment that we fail to meet others. The larger we get the more difficult it will be to get to know each other, but we all need to start somewhere and today just might be that time. In Acts 2:44 “And all those who believed were together and had all things in common.” And then verse 46 “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” We don’t all live as close together as the first century Christians did. That does not mean we should not get to know each other and be close to each other. It does take work but it can be done with some effort.
One of our dear sisters asked me to write about this because she would like to know more about the people she worships with. We all can make an effort to get to know each other better, but we need to take the first step by talking to someone we have not talked to before. It’s a great thing to do and we can find much joy in getting to know someone.
We sing the song A Common Love which goes like this “A common love for each other, a common gift to the Savior, a common bond holding us to the Lord; A common strength when we’re weary, a common hope for tomorrow, a common joy in the truth of God’s word.” We sure need a common love for each other if we love the Lord. We all do a pretty good job at getting to know each other but that does not mean we can’t do even more in this area of our lives.
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