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October 2015
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December 2015

Life Matter - Weaned or Unweaned?

"But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content" - Psalm 131:2.

If you have ever been around an older children who are still feeding on breast milk, you know it can be an awkward scenario when those children are hungry. When they are hungry, the child doesn't care where he or she is or who their mother is with, they will find their mother and look for lunch. David wrote that he was like a weaned child in God's presence, not straining or grasping to get something, but simply there to enjoy God's presence and His person. In other words, David did not pursue God for what God could give or what David needed. Jesus warned against seeking God only out of your need when after He had fed the 5,000, the people eagerly sought Him out: "Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval" (John 6:26-27). Are you like a weaned or un-weaned child with the Lord? Do you spend time with Him to enjoy His presence, or to make your list of demands and requests, only to move on after that? Why not take a few minutes today and simply read His word, talk to God, or listen for His voice not because you need anything, except to be close to your Lord, Friend, and Master?

Today's reading - Psalms 131-135

Library Construction

I have not mentioned it much, but the Kenyan team led by Pastor Peter are constructing a new facility for our model library we are establishing in the village of Banana. They have been stockpiling materials, and Pastor Peter sent me an update this past week with pictures:

Dear Dr. John,

Library1As we approach the month of December, we wish to give God all the glory for the Library2far he has taken us. We thank our partners who have always been there for us. As I have commented earlier, that we wished to start constructing our new premises fro the Dr. John Stanko library. The work has commenced and so far the foundation is set. We trust God we shall do break by break and we are committed to fulfillment of this dream. I have attached some pictures.

Pastor Peter

Library4Pastor Peter has not asked for any help in constructing this facility. He donated his family's land for the Library3project, and has been building the library like he did his church building - one stone and one day at a time. The library will house a music school, an art school, a computer center, tutoring rooms and of course, and the main library for both adults and children.

This is why we work with Pastor Peter, for he has faith not in us, but in God. He is trusting God for the provision, and that is my attitude and posture as well. I am not afraid to make our needs known to you, but I put the response to those needs in God's hands.

I am asking that you give a year-end gift toward our work in Kenya. Of course, we will be sending our partners year-end gifts to help with the Christmas needs of the widows and orphans. And our orphan school fees come due right after the new year. Please make a contribution today using PayPal via my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Your generous giving has brought us this far in our Kenya work, and I know it will continue to carry us where we need to be. Thank you, and enjoy the days leading up to what I trust will be a Merry Christmas.

Life Matter - Faith to Replace

"Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    like streams in the Negev" - Psalm 126:4.

It is common to experience loss in life due to its uncertainty. The good news is that God is with you in those times of loss, and He is able to restore what was lost in His own way that is also meaningful to you. For example, you can lose a business but start another one consulting with people about how not to lose a business! You can lose a relationship only to have the Lord replace that loss by giving you other relationships to take its place. God is a God of restoration, replacing what was lost as He promised His people: "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed" (Joel 2:25-26). Have you experienced some loss recently or in the past? Have you allowed yourself to mourn that loss? Is it time to stop mourning, and begin praying that God will "restore your fortunes"? Can you have faith and hope that God will replace what was lost, and perhaps even increase today what was lost yesterday?

Today's reading - Psalms 126-130

Life Matter - Jesus' Priority

"For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity" - Psalm 122:9.

Jesus gave His life not only to save souls, but to place those souls in a Church that He was building. The Apostle Paul realized this truth, and gave his adult life to found, structure, and nurture churches all throughout the Roman Empire, not considering his work a success until he saw a church with elders where he had preached. A few of Paul's letters were to individuals like Timothy and Titus, but the majority of his letters were filled with instructions for the church that were to be read in the church assemblies. If Jesus and Paul gave His life to establish the Church, it was obviously His top priority, and you would do well to make it your top priority as well. Jesus told Peter, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19). Are you doing what you can to assist Christ build His church? Do you give to your church? Do you contribute your spiritual gifts to help edify and build up your church? What more can you do?

Today's reading - Psalms 121-125

Life Matter - Goals

"I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation" - Psalm 118:13-14.

David was not simply a defensive warrior, but he often went on the offensive and was met with stiff resistance. Then there were times when his enemies tried to push him back, but he refused to yield any ground, and called on the Lord for help. The Apostle Paul was also a warrior, and he encountered the same opposition from both external forces as well as internal forces like fear. How did Paul not retreat or fall back? He set goals and those kept him on the advance as he reported in one of his letters: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14). Are you advancing in life, or are you stagnant or even losing ground? Do you have goals? Are they enough to press against what's resisting your progress so that you can move forward and grow? Write out two or three goals that will help you regain the momentum that the Lord would want you to experience.

Today's reading - Psalms 116-120

Life Matter - Trust Reminder

"All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—
    he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the Lord—
    he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the Lord—
    he is their help and shield" - Psalm 115:9-11.

These verses are in the midst of a series of psalms that encourage the reader to trust in the Lord, no matter what people say to discourage such thinking or what the circumstances look like. It is interesting that the theme of trusting the Lord comes up over and over again in the psalms. Of course, that means we need to be reminded over and over again of our need to trust in the Lord and not ourselves or others. In fact, even when God has proved Himself to us, we tend to stray and put our faith in other things, as did Israel: ". . . in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go" (Deuteronomy 1:31-33). Are you in a panic right now, even though God has shown Himself strong on your behalf over and over again? Are you living in the worries of tomorrow, instead of the joy of today? Are you fretting over what might not happen next year, instead of thanking God for what you have today?

Today's reading - Psalms 111-115

Life Matter - The Unexpected

"He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs;
there he brought the hungry to live,
    and they founded a city where they could settle" - Psalm 107:35-36.

If you visit Israel today, you visit the Jordan Valley, where the desert has been transformed into a lush agricultural area, the fruit of which is exported all over Europe! That is exactly what the psalmist said God is able to do - take that which others say is useless and make it useful and productive. He can do the same in your life, business and ministry so that your focus will not be on your own talent, intelligence or resources, but on Him and His goodness. This theme is found throughout the Bible and is summarized in Ezekiel 21:26: "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.'" What opportunity have you passed up because it did not 'look' good? What vision did God give you of prosperity, but you are ignoring it because right now it looks like poverty? Where is there a desert where God wants to do the unexpected and convert it to a garden and make you the beneficiary?

Today's reading - Psalms 106-110

Life Matter - Rhythm of Life

"He made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
    and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
    and seek their food from God.
The sun rises, and they steal away;
    they return and lie down in their dens.
Then people go out to their work,
    to their labor until evening" - Psalm 104:19-23.

There is a rhythm of life, and it is God's doing, created through His wisdom and creativity. Psalm 104 focuses on God's creation, which includes not only the objects you see, but the patterns that men, animals and planets follow. The psalmist is reminding the reader that if God is in control of all that, then He has no problem being in control of your life as well. Jesus repeated this lesson when He taught, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:5-6). Are you fretting over your financial or professional situation? Do you see the lesson in today's verses, and are you ready to apply them to your life where you are right now? Can you also see how silly it is to worry over whether or not God will provide for you?

Today's reading - Psalms 101-105

Life Matter - Empty-Handed

"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts" - Psalm 96:8.

When the Lord instituted the concept of an offering, it was not because He needed anything from mankind. It was simply to make man mindful that all he had came from the Lord. At the same time, the offerings were used to support and feed the priests who carried out their priestly duties according to the ordinances of the Lord. Nothing has changed today, for God still requires that you come to Him with offerings, which keep you grounded in the knowledge that it is not your efforts that feed you - it is the Lord who provides. Such was the importance of the offering to the Lord that these were His instructions for the Jewish festivals when men came to Jerusalem: "Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you" (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). Do you appear before the Lord empty-handed? Do you give the Lord something of substance, or just a few pennies according to what you have left over? Do you see that your giving is an act of worship, and not an economic transaction?

Today's reading - Psalms 96-100

Progress in Kenya

It is interesting how the library projects in Kenya continue to grow and flourish. Our partners there tell us that the presence of a library in their communities actually reduces teen pregnancy and drug usage simply because the library addresses an important issue in their villages - boredom! In Banana, Pastor Peter has attached an art school and a music school to the library. What's more, he is building a new building to house it all, calling it the Dr. John Stanko Library. Here is the update he sent this past week on, along with a picture of the keyboard purchased by Sue Kantz through her nonprofit ministry:

The Kenyan community bring their love. As we look forward to the long holiday, I wish to let you know that KeyboardKawaida Primary School has informed me that the work of building bookcases in their library is complete and I will go to take more books and will send you some photos. I also wish to inform you that our new library has been approved and by God's grace we are trusting that come March when you are back in Kenya that we shall be in this new premises. God bless you for all the motivation and support.

Pastor Peter

The bookcases Pastor Peter mentioned were built with money that we left with that primary school when my son and I were in Kenya last October.

Then there is another library we helped populate with books way up north, almost to the SololoLibrary1Ethiopian border with Pastor Qampicha. They were so excited with our donations that with the help of my friend Janet Helms, they have built a building to house their school library. This is quite a big deal, and here are the pictures of that facility before it was painted (click to enlarge).

Right now, I estimate we have about ten tons of supplies ready to send over in our next  SololoLibrary2 shipment for the libraries in Banana, Sololo, Nakuru, and Bomet. We are seriously considering a new library in Kitale, and are sorting through other requests for educational resources. We will only commit to those with whom we have a good working relationship to ensure that our investment of supplies and money impact the largest number of children and adults and that the libraries will help the churches who have a heart for their community.

This coming week we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., and I am asking that you make a Thanksgiving contribution toward the work in Kenya. We will need to send some relief money to our orphanages before year's end, and we also have school fees for the orphans in January. You can give today through my website using PayPal, or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and may the Lord bless you as you help with these exciting projects that are helping the poor in Kenya.