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11
Jan

Fruit of the Spirit

By Dr. Mel Sensenig, Pastor in Residence

In our Young Adult Bible Study, we have been going through the book of James. James works with loving rigor, probing to the very depths of our professed Christian spirituality. This past week, we looked at James 1:19-21:

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (New Living Translation)

Fruit-of-the-SpiritTake a look at how James connects “knowing” and “doing” in verse 19. There is something that we need to know, and that knowledge also must actually come about in our living. In other words, the real test of Christian knowledge is how much of its fruit appears in our lives. On the other hand, there cannot be any fruit without genuine spiritual knowledge. Attempts at Christian discipleship apart from the truth are simply self-made righteousness, and have no value in the sight of God. On the other hand, truth which has not produced any fruit is evidence of a lack of spiritual life. Note that verse 21 describes the word as “implanted” – implying that is a living thing that necessarily produces fruit. We would ordinarily conclude that a tree with no fruit is dead, and we can ask the same question of ourselves as professing Christians. In fact, from the previous verses, James says that sin conceives death, while God conceives life. There is a continual growing process going on inside us: either we are growing in our knowledge of God, or sin is producing its fruit within us. We are never standing still!

Many times, the practical test of these truths is conflict. In the midst of conflict, we find out how much the gospel has truly gripped us. How often in personal conflict do we lose sight of God’s goal in it – His personal discipleship of us, which we forget in the desire for revenge. It is in these situations that God gives us an opportunity to learn how to be swift to do some things and slow to do others, and especially to experience the fruit of the Spirit because it is the exact opposite of what our normal tendency (the flesh) would be. Apart from these difficult situations, we would have no opportunity for God to disciple us and to grow in our faith. Therefore, even these difficult times of troubled relationships are part of God’s discipling us in His character.

So, what is our response to this? Do we simply become a Home Depot Christian, immediately turning to “more doing”? In a letter like James’s, our human self-righteous religiosity quickly leads us to the question, “What should I do?” James gives the answer in a passive verb: humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts. The “word” that James refers to hear is the Christian gospel, the affirmation found summarized in The Apostles Creed or any number of summary statements in the New Testament. Here James asks us to pray that God would take what we have affirmed with our mouths and cause it to grow in our hearts. One of the proofs of the growth of the gospel in our lives will be that we are slower to get angry, quicker to listen, and slower to try to tell others how to do it. What would the world think of us if the gospel truly brought about its transforming work in our lives in this way?

23
Dec

Our Season of Giving is Ongoing: Introducing the Stroman Fund

By Pam Bush, Mission Committee Secretary

In 1989 FPC members John and Patricia Caldwell established the Stroman Fund with an initial gift of $500,000 given to the glory of God and in honor of the ministry of Dr. Richard Stroman who pastored the congregation for over thirty years. The endowment’s earnings above the initial gift are to be used to support mission work above and beyond the church’s yearly mission budget. Over the years Dr. George Goodrich and Dr. Stroman’s widow, Joan, would discuss with the Mission Committee Chairman the distribution of the funds. Currently the Mission Committee, chaired by Elder Ron Scheese, makes the decisions about distribution. Since its inception the Stroman Fund has distributed nearly $1,000,000 to advance the Gospel worldwide. Here are some of the distributions for 2015:

Missions$1,285 to Worldlink Ministries International for Nepal Relief
Worldlink Ministries International, located in Audubon, PA, links western churches and individuals with indigenous missionaries for an increased spread of the Gospel through the work of the missionaries. Worldlink currently has 236 supported missionaries, most living on $25-$200 per month. There were five Worldlink Nepalese missionaries needing assistance after the April earthquake. The membership of First Presbyterian gave $1215, and with the addition from the Trust, a total gift of $2500 was given.

$2,500 for Bob Lehman’s cataract surgeries
Bob and Debbie Lehman are Wycliffe Bible Translators missionaries in Manila, Philippines. Bob is a teacher for the missionary children at Faith Academy. The Lehmans asked for assistance so that Bob’s eyesight could be restored. Both surgeries were successful.

$11,250 for expenses on furlough and return to Kiev for Eide Family
Jon and Tracy Eide serve with Mission to the World planting churches in Kiev, Ukraine, and have been there since 1996. They visited First Presbyterian in January 2015 while home on a one year furlough. They needed $14,500 in extra gifts, mostly for airfare, tuition for their children, and repairs to their Kiev home when they returned and found it in serious condition.

$5,000 for Brad and Lori
This couple serves with ZOE International in Asia. For security reasons we do not publish their surname or location. ZOE is a ministry that rescues children from sex slavery, ministers to their needs, prepares them for adulthood, and houses them until they are 18 years old. Brad was an undercover detective and Lori an office administrator before heading to Asia in 2014. Brad now heads up the team which rescues children, and Lori applies for grants from different sources to support the work of ZOE.

$6,000 for Leurbourg Orphanage, Practical Compassion
Practical Compassion, based in Lebanon, PA, pours 100% of its donations into a town, Ponte Sonde, in Haiti. Their staff serves as volunteers. They built and support 3 orphanages, 3 schools, six wells, and a medical clinic in the town. They needed to raise money to feed 200 orphans, some in later stages of malnutrition. The $6,000 supplies 6 months of food for the children. Practical Compassion raised a total of $18,000 for the children’s food supply.

$5,000 to Worldlink for the ministry needs of Frances & Melvina Bella, Central African Republic
Frances and Melvina Bella’s home was ransacked and burned down two years ago. Since then they have lived in a refugee camp in Bangui, Central African Republic where Pope Francis recently visited. Frances, a pastor, has developed a daily ministry in the camp, and together he and Melvina have seen many come to Christ as Savior and Lord. The money requested was used to provide further evangelistic tools to reach more of the refugees, many of whom are Muslims, with the Gospel.

$50,000 to Worldlink – Matching Funds Campaign
Worldlink President Jack Nelson asked First Presbyterian to be the matching donor for the ministry’s year-end matching gift campaign. We have committed to matching up to $25,000 in 2015, and an additional $25,000 at the start of 2016 if the ministry partners donate the total $50,000. This money will be used to stabilize the ministry while Worldlink’s Matching Gifts Team raises additional large gifts for the ministry in 2016. The goal is to have a total of 400 supported indigenous missionaries by December 31, 2016, and to assure the ministry is financially stable.

$25,000 to Kenya Orphanages The Very Rev. Bernard and Mrs. Eunice Muindi requested this gift for the continuing ministries at Tumaini Destitute Children’s Home and the Humura Handicapped Home in Nyeri, Kenya. Rev. Muindi has been a faithful and detailed correspondent for many years and we are thrilled to be able to assist him in this great need.

$15,000 to Hebron Zion Presbyterian Church, Johns Island, SC
Rev. Washington has been keeping us well-informed of the disbursement of yearly gifts and we are also delighted to support this greatly needed food ministry there on Johns Island.

$1,500 to Amanda Keeny Odessa, Ukraine
Amanda Keeny, a native Berks Countian, serves with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) as a church planter in Odessa, Ukraine. Amanda is a new missionary and joined the team in Odessa in August 2015. The $1500 was to help with moving expenses to get her onto the field.

$2,000 to River of Hope Therapeutic Ministries
River of Hope is headquartered in Lebanon, PA with satellite offices in Berks and Lancaster Counties. This agency nurtures healthy relationships by providing hope and healing through preventative education and professional, Christ-centered therapy for all ages and life stages. FPC member Becky Hollenbach, who has her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, is on the staff of River of Hope.

$1,000 to Fireproof Ministries for support of David Domanski
FPC member David Domanski regularly participates in mission trips with Fireproof Ministries, which seeks to minister to those involved in the pornography industry, and those addicted to pornography. David, a 22-year old college student, is on the Missions Committee and is dedicated to seeing men and women set free from addiction to pornography, and new life in Jesus Christ.

$3,000 for City Light Ministries
City Light Ministries is a center-city shelter in Reading, PA that ministers to those no other shelter will help. It is a ministry of Spring Valley Church of God. In the past year the shelter needed extensive repairs in order to meet city codes inspection, and First Presbyterian joined many other local churches and businesses in providing the funding.

01
Dec

J.A.M.– Just Among Moms

by Leila Griggs

Just Among MomsAs a mom, I’m always looking to network, meet and just chat with other moms. What a blessing when this can happen in a Christ-centered, nurturing, welcoming environment. JAM is a play date/ bible study for moms of children under the age of 5. We create a safe place to talk about what it means to be a mother and how scripture influences our daily life. Our children socialize while the moms chat about the ups and downs, the surprises and joys, and the love we have for our children through Christ. We meet at various locations meant for children one Saturday a month. It’s wonderful to make mommy relationships like this, but it’s even better to have and build a relationship with God Himself. His encouragement is what speaks directly to our soul.

19
Nov

Make an Impact for Christ

By Doug Shuey, Interim Director of Youth Ministry

Doug Shuey
Doug Shuey
Youth Impact is our church’s ministry to students from 6th grade through high school. It is our goal to help equip our youth to be able to make an impact for Christ in their schools, their community, and the world. We meet for Sunday School every Sunday after the worship service during the adult education hour.

Our focus for the coming year is three-fold:
1) Build our group – We are in the unique situation of having Jr. High and Sr. High students grouped together. It is our goal to have a cohesive group where the younger and older students are able to work together to build each other up. We will be planning fellowship times and group building activities to help us become a more cohesive group.
2) Build our foundation – Our teaching times this year will be going back to the basics. Our cornerstone is Jesus, but the foundation of our lives comes from a solid knowledge and belief in the scripture. We started the school year looking at the 10 Commandments, then we will continue on with the Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, and then other core basics that our students need to know to live godly lives.
3) Build our community – As a downtown church, we are in the amazing situation of having a lot of service organizations to partner with. Our youth will be partnering with some of these organizations this coming year to perform acts of service for them. James tells us that faith without works is a death faith, so we are helping our youth find ways to act out their faith through serving others. We are also teaching the students to support others with monetary donations through our weekly offering, which goes to our two Compassion International students.

I ask that you please pray for our youth this coming year. I truly believe that God uses this ministry to make an impact on their lives and the lives of those around them.

05
Nov

The Visitation Ministry Needs the Support of the Congregation

By Rev. Rick Hampton, Pastor of Visitation
Rev. Rick Hampton
The visitation ministry at FPC is a vital ministry of the church. It reaches out to shut-ins and those who are experiencing crisis situations, grief and loss, and hospitalization. We provide a ministry of prayer and encouragement while applying Scriptural insight.

The visitation ministry requires the support of the congregation members in order to serve. We need to have your suggestions as to people we can serve and assist. If you would like a visit yourself or know of someone who does, please don’t hesitate to call the church office. Communion is available for shut-ins, upon request.

Visitation is a mandated ministry. In Matthew 25:34-46 Jesus makes it clear that when we minister to others we are ministering to Him. May God bless you as we minister together in His name.

Interested in Joining Us?

First Presbyterian Church
A Member of ECO – A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians

37 S. Fifth Street
Reading, PA 19602

610-375-3389
info@fpcreading.org

SUNDAY WORSHIP & PRAISE
9:30AM                      Worship Service                                                                    /Children’s Church
10:45AM                    Coffee/Fellowship
11:00AM                    Education for All Ages

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