Our Upcoming Trip to Colombia
Greg, Collin, Jason, and I are looking forward to our trip to Colombia that begins next Sunday. This visit has been in the works for well over a year — maybe two years. Presently, Kettering assists in the support of nine men and their families who live across Colombia. We have had relationships with most of them for six years, while others we are just getting to know. Our preachers cover a wide range of ages and experience - some in the early years of service, while others have been laboring for a couple of decades or more. Two of them are fluent in English and assist us in translation while we are there. They are all very dedicated to their work.
Beginning in 2011, our shepherds determined that this congregation would become more involved in overseas evangelism. While Kettering sent funds around the world in the years prior to this, we wanted this part of our work to become more than the more typical practice of “receive-a-report-and-get-a-check.” We wanted to know our men, their families, and their work personally. We wanted to experience what they experience … to know it, feel it, and to understand it. We also determined to focus our efforts on one country, easing our travel, lodging, and expense commitments. As we have moved forward over the last eight years, many of you have joined us in assisting our work abroad. A few of you have gone with us to help in the work, including Jason/Sadonna Schofield, Greg Morrison, Collin Schofield, and Emilea Allen. Besides money contributed out of the treasury, literally tens of thousands of dollars have been given individually, countless items of clothing, worship supplies, computers, projectors, and other teaching aids have been donated. Our involvement in Colombia is so concentrated, that our shepherds have even tasked a deacon (Jason Schofield) to have his entire area of focus on the work there. From what we know, there is no other congregation in the United States more involved in the work in Colombia than Kettering. Again, you are to be commended for this.
This year’s trip will mainly focus on two important needs. First, we’ll be visiting local works in Lorica, Villavicencio, Acacias, Cali, Villamaria, and Manizales. Second, we’ll be holding a 4-day conference in Cali with all nine of our men in order to teach and encourage them in their preaching efforts. Jason and I have been working hard to get ready for this part of the work. Over the coming week, we’ll reveal more specifics about what our visit will look like.
While the congregation collectively is covering our travel expenses, lodging, transportation, etc., there is also an opportunity for you to contribute individually as well. Jason and I will be looking for opportunities to meet the needs of our brethren. If you’d like to help, see Jason or me this week. (And thanks to the many of you who have already donated to this effort.) As always, we’ll share with you a full accounting of how your funds were used once we return home.
Even if you can’t afford to contribute monetarily, you can still help. We need your prayers every single day. In fact, we’re very dependent on them. And, finally, prayers for our families while we are away are also appreciated. There is always a special burden placed on Sadonna, Becky, and Doneitta when we travel. Thanks for all you do. And thanks for your encouragement as we assist in taking the gospel to South America.
— Matthew Allen
Preparing Your Mind
The pursuit of God is not a part of our life … it is our life. We need to regularly ask - can it be said of me that my life is the pursuit of God? What is being said about you and who/what you are pursuing? We should all want to be known as disciples of God and our pursuit of HIm. Desire, hunger/thirst, desperation for God is not only the only essential we need. Equally important is the state of our mind. Do we have the type of mind that is ready to receive the Word?
In 2 Corinthians 10.3-5, Paul talks about casting down high-minded things or proud obstacles. These are things that are set up against the knowledge of God. He tells us how to demolish them: by taking every thought captive to obey Christ. Notice: every thought. Now that’s a challenge!
So, how do you deal with your mind? How do you get it ready to receive the word of God?
On Sunday, we’ll talk about four principles to help your mind be ready to receive the word of God:
- We’ll see why its important not to believe everything you think.
- We’ll discover the essentialness of guarding your mind.
- We’ll understand the need to never quit learning.
- We’ll learn why it’s important to move with vision.
As you prepare for worship Sunday, be asking yourself these questions:
- Why is it important to evaluate our thoughts?
- What are some things you can do to engage God more frequently in prayer?
- What are some things you can learn from others?
- When it comes to learning, why is it so important to have a humble heart?
- What happens when you have no vision or plan for the future?
Song Leader: Roy Pyle
Scripture Reading: Bob Zehring: 2 Corinthians 10.3-5
God Ways Will Work for You
Nelson Mandella once said, "There is no passion to be found in playing small - in settling for a life that is less than what is capable of living." Every son or daughter of God is very capable of doing great things. Our potential for good is unlimited. God will equip you with the power to impact others and make your life a living testimony of His amazing grace.
How about your spiritual life? Are you settling for mediocrity? Some seem to always struggle to live up to their potential. That sad reality does not have to be your own. God can stretch and grow you into a larger reflection of Himself. If you’ve been playing small, here are some steps you can take now in order to lead a more vibrant spiritual life:
Understand you are not an exception to the rule. Resist any bad thinking that Satan places in your head. His lies lead to mediocrity...and worse! God’s ways will work for you. This is because he has:
- Transferred you into His kingdom, Colossians 1.13.
- Washed away your sin, Colossians 2.11-14a.
- Made you a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5.17.
These are the facts. Let your trust in Him shape your thinking — not your doubts.
Eliminate distractions. Many Christians find themselves groping with spiritual malaise. Life’s distractions have gotten in the way and they cannot clearly see the goal set before them. What things in your life presently keep you from what is truly important? When you focus on your heavenly citizenship, the hope of what is to come will energize your soul. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself, Philippians 3.20-21.
Embrace opportunities to be with your spiritual family. We need our church family. True friendships can inspire you to higher service. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27.17.
Never settle for less. Put everything into your spiritual life. Demand a higher standard for yourself. Expect to succeed. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going, Ecclesiastes 9.10.
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish His work, John 4.34. As a disciple, do you share the same desire and priority for your own life? For Jesus, there was nothing more important. In everything, He moved with total devotion to the Father’s will. Passages like this are challenging. We often face an intense struggle to prioritize the spiritual over the physical.
For the remainder of March, we’ll be talking about the pursuit of God through spiritual knowledge. As we begin this new series Sunday, we’ll first talk about something foundational to that pursuit: our desire for God. How strong is yours? Not for the blessings He provides, but for the Father Himself?
This is a particular struggle for Christians in the United States. We have, largely, become self-satisfied. Some of us lack urgency. Some of us have lost the joy we once had and have now drifted into spiritual malaise and in rarer situations — cynicism.
If we are going to pursue God and the knowledge of Him, we must make sure our desire and longing for God is where it needs to be. To do so, we’ll examine two passages: Matthew 5.6 and Psalm 63.
On Sunday we’ll discuss:
- What it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
- David’s personal identification with God.
- David’s desire for God above life itself.
- David’s relationship with God during the good times sustained him when bad times came.
As you prepare for worship on Sunday, ask yourself these questions:
- What does Matthew 5.6 mean to you?
- Is there anything significant about the way David identifies himself with God in Psalm 63.1?
- How does Psalm 63.3 affect you emotionally?
- How had David experienced God’s power and glory? (Psalm 63.2)
- What connection does worship have with your desire for God … and ultimately, the pursuit of spiritual knowledge?
Song Leader: Dru McLaughlin
Scriture Reading: Dylan Schofield (Psalm 63)
Will You Pay the Price?
Over the last five weeks we have talked about the importance of developing a spiritual life plan. With a plan, you have the ability to realize a greater amount of your potential, measure your success, and encourage others. The handouts you have received have been designed to make the process as practical as possible. If you haven’t done so already, please schedule some time to assess where you are currently, complete your past, and schedule S.M.A.R.T. achievement and habit goals. After you begin the journey, you can look forward to the progress you’ll experience in a few short weeks or months.
Achieving anything requires a certain level of sacrifice.
Are you willing to invest what is necessary in order to accomplish your spiritual goals?
When it comes to spiritual growth and development, the New Testament is full of admonitions for spiritual discipline. One example is found in 1 Timothy 4.13-16. Paul urged Timothy to devote himself to Christianity. The action words in these verses are the keys to self discipline and the achievement of all our spiritual goals: “Devote yourself,” “Do not neglect,” “Practice these things,” “Immerse yourself in them,” “Watch yourself,” and “Persist in this.”
These principles are applicable in any endeavor we choose for self-improvement in life.
As you know, whatever worldly things we give up to get where we need to be with God is more than worth it. Paul said: Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe, 1 Timothy 4.7b-10.
Remember, God works as we work, Philippians 2.12-13. Are you a willing participant in the process?
-- Matthew Allen