On Friday we receive a visitor from another world. OK, it only seems like another world. But, honestly, what could be more different from La Ceiba, Honduras than Seattle, Washington?
Northview Community Church of Mill Creek, Washington (north of Seattle) is a supporting church of this ministry and our family. They are sending a representative from their congregation to check up on us and love on our family.
The great news for the Pettengills is that Northview is sending one of our dearest friends, Dannie McKeown. For a week Dannie will help us in our ministry, get to know La Ceiba and hang out with us in the heat. It will be a joy to share our ministry with Northview and reunite with one our favorite people.
Our mission team knows when we are doing things right. That is when Satan attacks. Last summer we were all simultaneously bombarded with attacks that really tore us down. If Tuesday is any indication, here we go again.
On Tuesday our eight-person mission team collectively had two cell phones stolen, two car accidents and one other car problem. To put that in perspective our team has had zero cell phones stolen in nearly four years, yet two stolen in the same day. Really?!?!
This, beloved reader of our humble post, is where you come in. It is time for you to pray. We do not again wish to be buffeted by Satan. We appeal to you to pray for us (Romans 15:30), at all times (Ephesians 6:18), for your prayers have power (James 5:16).
Pray we have dependence on God (Proverbs 3:5-6). Pray we give glory to God (Matthew 5:16). Pray we posses a spirit of unity (Romans 15:5). Pray we stand firm (2 Corinthians 4:17). And, pray we are willing to sacrifice even more. (Romans 12:1-2).
Each Sunday morning our mission team gathers together to sing, pray and study at what we call Gringo Church. This is a small worship service where we praise God in our heart language of English. Shannon, Erin and Mike T. lead us in singing, John leads us in prayer and Mike P. leads us in study.
Last week our team concluded a nine-week study through 1 Thessalonians. This week Mike began a new two-week study in Philemon. The biblical study of slavery and the social and political implications of Christianity is interesting, but the changing power of the gospel is the focus of this study. The Apostle Paul shows Philemon, and us, how the gospel was designed to radically change our hearts and fundamentally alter our beliefs. Jesus is not a 12-step, self-help, repair program. He is a focus changing, life altering, leave it all behind, radical liberating insurgent.
Following our brief study in Philemon Mike will take our team through the book of Titus. Mike is already applying the knowledge he is gaining in his studies at Reformed Theological Seminary. Pray God can speak through Mike each week.
William Barcley is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has served as Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary and taught at Gordon College. Barcley addresses the issue of discontent and how the reader can find contentment from knowing God and enjoying his sovereignty and loving mercy.
Barcley does a fine job outlining a heart condition that frequently accompanies greater theological concern. As we demonstrate discontent we are calling into play a questioning of God’s sovereignty. How could we not be content if we truly understand and embrace God’s plan and perfect orchestration of his will in our lives?
It is natural for humans to complain and be discontented. It is part of our sin nature. Our murmuring, however, is a clear sign we are not satisfied with an aspect of our life. We are either out of God’s will or lack an understanding of the depth of his sovereignty.
A believer who truly rests in God finds contentment in the joy of God and being conformed to the image of Christ. Contentment does not mean our lives are painless and exactly as we foresaw them. Contentment means we find pleasure in knowing God is in control and his flawless will is unfolding, even if it is not our ideal plan.
The book is ideal for group study with subsections and discussion questions following each chapter. Barcley uses Scripture, tales and personal accounts to guide the reader into a deeper understanding of the joy and peace that can be found in our contentment.
For the next few days we will host Francis and Bonnie Smith. The Smiths attend Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church in Lexington, NC where Francis is an Assistant Pastor.
Francis and Bonnie are part of MTW’s Pastoral Associate Couple (PAC) program. PACs provide pastoral care for missionaries while on the field. PACs commit to care for those in their assigned field for a minimum of five years, and to visit the field one week each year. Throughout the year, the couples provide pastoral care and encouragement to teams and individuals, as well as an honest assessment of issues that may arise on the field.
Last year our team selected the Smiths as our PAC and this is their first visit to La Ceiba. They will meet with each missionary on our team privately and get to know us and our ministry. The Smiths will provide counseling and care for our missionaries as needed and will be a vital part of our team maintaining spiritual and emotional health in the years to comes.