Prisoners on Our Own Land

Bruce Menning

READ : Isaiah 65:17-25 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (v. 21) For perhaps 500 years their ancestors had owned the land, its house with ancient foundations, its abundant vineyards, and its productive olive grove. It was their homestead, their shelter against the storm, their livelihood providing enough and some to spare. When their son married, they built a modest home for him and his bride on the homestead. It was …

Release for the Captives

Bruce Menning

READ : Psalm 13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? (v. 1) Checkpoints are passages for some and dead ends for others. For most Palestinians, checkpoints mark the boundaries of long-suffering confinement. As bearers of USA passports, however, we moved relatively easily through checkpoints into a city in the West Bank. There we visited a school for mentally and physically challenged children. Later we were received into the Palestinian home of an extended family, typical of Middle …

Who Are You Praying For?

Bruce Menning

READ : 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17) Several pastors of rural churches in the Diocese of Kerala of the Church of South India had been waiting for the overdue delegation of pastors from the Reformed Church in America. In spite of a lengthy delay, the delegation was welcomed with characteristic Indian hospitality complete with flower garlands and formal introductions. The Indian pastors particularly wanted to honor this delegation because missionaries from the Reformed Church …

Chosen to Witness

Bruce Menning

READ : 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you. (v. 4) We were on a tour of new and renovated churches in the Province of Xiamen in South China. Late in the afternoon we arrived at the city of one of the host pastors. After a light lunch, she and the elders of the church led us up several flights of stairs to a tower that looks out over the …

Who Is Watching You?

Bruce Menning

READ : Matthew 5:13-16 Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (v. 16) It was not uncommon on any given Sunday for many visitors to gather with the throng of believers for worship at the church of the China Christian Council in Beijing. But church leaders wondered why so many bus drivers began showing up among the visitors. The answer involved a recently converted new …

Unity for the Sake of Mission

Bruce Menning

READ : 2 Corinthians 2:5-17 We are not ignorant of [Satan’s] designs. (v. 11) Is conflict in the church from Satan or of our own sinful devices, or both? Certainly the powers and principalities rage, but it’s also easy to absolve ourselves of responsibility for conflict by asserting, “The devil made me do it.” What’s clear is that the forces of evil and darkness certainly celebrate when there is conflict in the church. Conflict that divides a body of believers-like …