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February 2016

January is Gone

January just flew by, or is it just my impression of how quickly the first month of 2016 passed through? I thought I would write some personal thoughts this week since I am not posting my daily devotional and haven't yet started my video devotional format. Here goes.

  1. I have two personal writing projects that I am working on. The first is the editing of last year's daily devotional, Life Matters: Daily Reflections from the Book of Psalms, and the second is Unlocking the Power of You, which is the fourth book in a four-part Unlocking series (Purpose, Creativity and Productivity are the other three, already published).
  2. I stopped my Saturday morning radio show, but I don't miss getting up early on Saturday morning to trek across town to the studio. I sense more media is in my future, but nothing has emerged yet.
  3. I am teaching three college classes every week, and will pick up a fourth in two weeks. I always sense God's presence when I teach.
  4. I am editing four manuscripts right now for my publishing company, Urban Press. There are also a few more projects getting ready to get under way. I am pleasantly surprised at how well the publishing work is going, but the key word in that endeavor is work! I am writing morning, noon and night, although I am not complaining - just sayin'.
  5. I am on day 28 of a fast to start the year. It is going well, and I am going to finish fasting this week.I am not fasting for any particular reason, or to seek specific direction from the Lord. My morning prayer is, "God, I will do whatever you want me to do, wherever You want me to do it."

I sent out an appeal letter this week, asking for financial help for my upcoming trip to Kenya that starts on February 25. If you regularly read this blog, you know the work I am doing to build libraries, establish relationships with orphanages, finance orphans to go to school, and other relief and development work. I trust the Lord's provision for these projects, and this year is no exception. I am attaching my fundraising letter at the bottom of this post and ask that you read it then act accordingly. I need your help, and I am confident that God will orchestrate meeting these needs as He always has.

That's about it for now. Thanks for your patience as I work out a rhythm and routine for how to do the video devotionals.

Download FRLtr2016-1


The John Stanko Library

A few years ago, Pastor Peter in Kenya took me to a small plot of ground that was just outside his home. It was surrounded by other businesses just off the main road. To my surprise, he informed me that he owned this land, and he had donated as the site where he was going to build a library building to house our Banana community library. LibraryProgress1

Then Peter brought out the drawings for the two-story building. It includes the library of course, but also a computer IT center, music school, an art school, a vocational training center, an meeting rooms. He took me behind a fence, and there he had lumber stacked to begin construction along with the foundation stones. I was amazed at his vision, although I should not have been, for I watched him build a beautiful church stone by stone and brick by brick. Today it stands across the street from the library as a beacon of hope for the town of Banana.

Peter had one more surprise for me, and that was the LibraryProgress2name for the building - the John Stanko Public Library. I immediately thought, "Move over, Andrew Carnegie!" Peter has not asked me for money to get started, and you can see from the attached pictures that the construction has begun. My son just returned from Kenya, and he reports that construction is moving along.

Peter did write me over the holidays and I promised I would inform you of the library project and give you a chance to help him financially with the project. Here is what he wrote:

The library project is on the move and we are happy we are on schedule.The WAPIS family is overjoyed by this development. Since the inception of this project, we had planned to secure a $15,000 loan from the local bank with repayment in 60 months. However, because the Kenya shilling has lost so much against the dollar and the government increased the lending benchmark, we feel the loan will be too expensive to service.We wish to appeal to our partners who can partner with us on this can do so. Every two stones cost $1, and we need 1000 stones; steel bars are $10 each and we need 400 pieces; cement is $70 and we need 300 pieces; sand is $200 per truckload and we need 15; we need 10 truckloads of ballast at $300 each.The labour cost which is 1/3 of material cost and will be take care of by WAPIS team. Any support will be appreciated.

Pastor Peter.

Does anything on the list If you would like to buy a brick to help build the John Stanko Library, you can give using this link via PayPal or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. I cannot tell you what this library building will mean for the community and how many more people it will help than the current facility is. What's more, we will not have the rent to pay at this building that we have had at the other facility - it will be rent free. Please pray and then do what the Lord is directing you to do. Thank you!


Personal Direction for 2016

It occurred to me that I updated my Facebook readers of my publishing plans for 2016, but did not post an update on my blog, so here goes. First of all, Happy New Year! I trust the year has gotten off to a good start for you and that you are pursuing purpose and fruitfulness in these first days. I am starting the year off with a personal fast to set my course for the year, and to seek the Lord's guidance on many issues.

As you may know, I began a publishing company last year called Urban Press. Business is good, and right now I am in the final edits of four manuscripts that Urban Press will publish. That''s about 650 pages of writing that I am juggling between the four works, and it's been both a challenge and a privilege to help shape the four narratives of the four authors.

I began teaching again for a new semester last week, and this semester I will teach History of Leadership, Leadership and Strategy, and the Pentateuch, as well as oversee two final projects for two separate Master's-level leadership classes. On February 25, I will be part of a team returning to Kenya to reconnect with our work there.

I decided to stop two things as 2016 began and one of them was my daily devotional that I have written every day for the last seven years (the other was a Saturday morning radio show here locally). The good news is that each one of those days can be found on my personal blog, if you still want to access something to stimulate your daily Bible study. Simply go to my site, look down the right side, and you will see a link for each year's devotional - Daily Dose, Leadership Walk, Life Matters, What Would Jesus Ask?, and Purpose Pearls. Those represent about 1,800 daily devotional entries, so I am sure you can find something there you like.

In a few weeks, I am going to experiment with a new devotional format, and that will be video. I hope to launch a daily video devotional, but I have to figure out the logistics and how exactly I will do that. I assume I will post the link on this site where you can watch. My thought right now is to go back and do What Would Jesus Ask You Today? in this first video series. All that is subject to change as I seek the Lord.

Of course, you can access all my material in book form by purchasing any devotional from Amazon. All my books are in Kindle and paper format, so you can carry one with you in your briefcase or in your e-reader. I am working on three personal projects right now: a 20th-anniversary revision of Life is a Gold Mine: Can You Dig It?; Unlocking the Power of Your Productivity; and Your Life Matters: Daily Reflections from the Book of Psalms. Those projects are part of the reason I stopped publishing a daily devotional this year, for I am starting each day by working on my own material before I move on to teaching or editing other people's works.

Thank you for bearing with me in this transitional period. It will take some time for me to find a new work rhythm, but I am confident it will come with God's help and direction. My eyes are fixed on him as we start a new year, and I know He will lead and guide. If you have any thoughts, questions, or impressions of the direction I should take, please feel free to contact me at johnstanko@gmail.com. Thanks for your support, and please also let me know if I can help you in your own quest for a purposeful life.


A Merry Kenya Christmas

I am in the process of wiring $2,400 to Kenya for the start-of-the-year school fees, but wanted to share with you MaryBigSmilethe thank you I received from Pastor Francis at Upako Centre. The pictures he sent show UpakoCMasDressesthe children playing, lining up for a cup of Christmas rice, and the new clothes worn by our little Mary and two other young ladies. Thank you for helping to brighten the lives of the children among whom we work:

Happy New Year Dr. J,

It is well with us after wonderful Christmas festivities. We thank all of you for standing with us to make sure that the children touched the love of God that you have for them.Now we are preparing to go back to school to pursue academic growth at different levels. We have Mary, Mercy, and Grace who are supported in local schools by the profit we make from bricks and water sales, and Noel who attends a different school while the other 152 depend on what we provide at Upako. Alongside the request for their fees, those at the Centre need computers so that we can train them on IT as the world has so far changed.If you can  help with used computers, we can get started.

UpakoKidsInLineGod Bless,

Pastor Francis

Of course, we will help with the computers when I take a team over in February, and Upako's portion of the school fees are being sent today. I need you to stand with me so that together we can continue and finish the work that we have started with UpakoFrancis2Kidsour children and Kenya partners. You can give today using PayPal through my website, or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. I hope you feel a sense of accomplishment as you reflect back on these 2015 updates, for you have impacted the lives of many children. I pray that we will be able to touch even more in 2016. 


Life Matter - Guidance Thoughts

"Direct my footsteps according to your word;
    let no sin rule over me" - Psalm 119:133.

Psalm 119 contains many verses that make wonderful prayers that you can pray for yourself. Today's verse is a good example. The writer was asking God to guide him and keep sin from having dominion over him. Who should not be praying that prayer? God is able to guide your steps, and you not even be conscious that He is doing so. The safeguard against deception is to make sure that all the guidance you "sense" is consistent with God's word. What's more, He is protecting you from things so subtly that you are often not aware of His protection. The Amplified Version of Proverbs 16:3 is a wonderful paraphrase of how God will often guide you: "Roll your works upon the Lord - commit and entrust them wholly to Him - and He will cause your thoughts to be agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed." Have you made a commitment to do God's will before you know what it is? Then you can count on God directing your steps by directing your thoughts! What ideas do you have that you can assume are from the Lord because they are not contrary to His word, and upon which you need to act in the coming year?

Today's reading - Psalm 119


Life Matters - Membership Has Its Privileges

"Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
    praise your God, Zion.

He strengthens the bars of your gates
    and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders
    and satisfies you with the finest of wheat" - Psalm 147:12-14.

 

God is not only concerned for the individual, singular you. He is also concerned for the corporate you, which in modern terms is the local church. Paul wrote 13 epistles, four to individuals, and nine to churches outlining both theological issues, but also expected behavioral norms for the body of Christ in general. In today's verses, we see this pattern continue, for the psalmist was addressing Jerusalem as a whole, describing how the Lord would bless the residents of the city as a while with security, peace and food. There was a credit card company who had a slogan that stated, "Membership has its privileges," the same can be said for involvement in a local church, where you are expected to contribute your finances and spiritual gifts in return for God's blessings. Paul wrote this about your involvement in the church: "What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up" (1 Corinthians 14:26). Are you coming together with other believers for prayer, worship and Word ministry? Are you acting in the best interests of your church, building up the body of Christ through your presence? What blessings have you received for doing so?

 

Today's reading - Psalms 146-150


Life Matter - Trained for War

"Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me" - Psalm 144:1-2.

We know David as a king, psalmist, prayer champion, and poet, but he was also a king warrior, who was trained for battle by God Himself. In the midst of all his battles, David acknowledged that God was everything he needed - fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, refuge and loving battle Companion who knew how to take the offensive. God wants to be all that for you, but you must be willing to engage the battle and allow God to train you to be aggressive, not expecting God to do for you what only you can do for yourself. David had mighty men around him, and one of them fought so long and hard that his hand was stuck to his sword: "Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead" (2 Samuel 23:9-10). God brought the victory, but, Eleazar stood his ground and fought. What do you think your part is in the spiritual battle in which you are presently engaged? Are you doing your part, or waiting on God to do your part - which He won't do?

Today's reading - Psalms 141-145