Sermon

Note: we will post a link to the sermon audio when it becomes available!

As Don shares his sermon, listen and dwell on what you’re hearing. See if the Spirit is guiding you directly in this lesson.

After the sermon, reflect on these questions, either alone or with others:

  1. How would you summarize today’s lesson?

  2. What was your favorite quote or scripture from today?

  3. How does this particular lesson impact your life?
    Is there something you need to hold on to, or let go of? Where do you go from here?

  4. End your reflection time in prayer.

Examen ("Examination")
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Too often, we go through our day, unaware of the world around us, unaware of God, and even unaware of ourselves.

The spiritual discipline of examen is one way we can pay more attention, to notice God and your God-given desires.

Find a quiet moment to reflect on the events of your day. Ask these questions (or similar ones):

  • When did I give love? When did I withhold love?

  • When did I feel energized? When did I feel low?

  • Where did I see God at work today? Did I notice it while it was happening, or only afterward?

  • What emotions did I experience today? Are those emotions telling me something I need to hear?

  • What should I be grateful for? What were God’s gifts in my life today, big or small?

  • What is one thing from today I feel called to pray about? What should I pray about as I prepare for tomorrow?

Families with young children: you can practice some of these questions at meals or at bedtime.

  • “I spy God” – where did you see God at work today?

  • “Rose, thorn, bud” – what was something good that happened today? Something sad? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

Mission Trips

Gracie jumps out of the van as it finally arrives in La Laguna, Mexico, and races toward the tiny girl standing beside her dad on the steps of the church. Gracie, five years old, takes the gum out of her mouth and sticks it into the mouth of the smaller child, who chews and grins. Yanet takes it out of her mouth and puts it back into Gracie’s, and I think, “Okay, then. God? A little help here?” Neither little girl seems to suffer any ill effects at all.

Welcome to the world of missions.

We’ve just heard gunshots out in the streets of El Progreso, Honduras, and yet the children on the patio don’t even seem to notice. They see us with big bags of candy, but instead of crowding toward us, they turn and run to sit at picnic tables, watching us with big eyes and smiles. We pass among the tables and place a small pile of candies in front of each one, smiling at each other when one little boy looks up from his three Tootsie Rolls and screams, “Cho-co-lahhhh-te!” An older child nearby raises her hand and asks me a question in Spanish, pointing to a tiny boy beside her. “We all have five pieces and he only got three. Do we need to give him some of ours?”

There’s no better experience of koinonia, that wonderful fellowship that makes us church, than a mission trip with the Belton Church of Christ. My best memories and lessons in love are snapshots, moments from mission trips that opened my eyes to the deep, sweet bliss of souls with their Savior.

Our last day in the little town of Nuevo Padilla, we decide to go out to the lake, a man-made body of water not quite covering the last remains of Viejo Padilla, the little village flooded to make the new lake. A few families are camping there, cooking fish and scattered around the edges of an old and beautiful building, which had been a school a hundred years before. Teenagers were lounging around the old porticoes, listening to a boom box blasting, “La Macarena.” Our own teens jump out of the vans, run to the porch, and make a line, going through the motions of the song with the Mexican teenagers dancing there. Grins came out, high fives exchanged, and we smiled for the rest of the day.

Each of us felt valuable, each as important for what we could contribute as the next, and safe together. My language skills were nice, but Mickey’s quick way of setting up my tent was much more important to me after a long day of travel. Rodney’s cooking skills and shopping in foreign markets were the most important thing of all, at some point. Teens ran wild with children, playing long past what I could have done. Dick and his helpers brought desperately needed medical attention and eyecare resources; Don made construction jobs easy, Donna did VBS perfectly…the list goes on.

We shot potatoes across the canyon with a potato cannon, jumped around on pogo sticks which we left for the village to enjoy, poured concrete floors, visited the sick, gave away candy, crayons, and clothes. One year we outfitted a whole village with new shoes. The children enchanted us, the ladies fed us, and God’s guardian angels guided us. We drove through breath-taking mountains on narrow, hairpin turns, and stopped to sing in the open-air mountain chapel where truckers and travelers lit candles at shrines for safe passage. We run into the Gulf of Mexico waves, Allen holding a tiny Gracie close as they ride up high on the rushing waters, enjoying her shrieks of just too much fun.

I wish everyone could be part of a mission trip.

Bruce leads us into the rain forest terrain, where we zipline across deep green canyons, leaving trails of terror and tremors in the sky behind us, mostly grinning and finally relieved to be on tierra firma again. We work. We’re all of different ages and life stages; it doesn’t matter. We love each other fiercely and treasure up every single moment we have together.

When we get home, my guardian angels check into some heavenly rehab somewhere to rest, my husband does mountains of laundry, and I unpack souvenir coffee from every tiny crevasse of my luggage. My heart has stretched to make even more room for my fellow travelers and the people we met, who will forever stay in our prayers. I am so grateful. So blessed.

- Jane Gibson

Take a few minutes—without distractions—to reflect on this story. Finish your reflection time in prayer. Pray especially for the people of Honduras, and the work of Mission Upreach.

You can find more information about Mission Upreach online at missionupreach.org.

Shepherd Stories: Scott Cox

Church family,

God is at work at BCC. God is at work around the world through the missionaries we support. God is at work through our ministers and staff and the work they do each day. God is at work through your acts of service and the lives that you touch. I am thankful for our former shepherds, for their hearts of service and the way God continues to use them in ministry. We are blessed to live in a community that provides a positive environment for families. Yet many of our neighbors have struggles, and many do not know Jesus. There is much work still to be done, and I believe God has bigger plans for BCC. As we prayerfully consider plans to execute our growing young initiative over the coming months, I ask for your prayers for wisdom and God’s direction. I also ask that you consider how you will serve. We anticipate there will be expanded opportunities for service, and we solicit everyone’s participation. Together, with God’s help, we can touch many lives with the good news of the gospel.

In closing, I want to thank you for your support and encouragement. Thank you for your financial support that has enabled us to meet our budget thus far. Thank you for the way you step up when needs are made known. I am humbled to serve as one of your shepherds, and it is a privilege to serve with my fellow shepherds. May we always seek to do His will, and may we always be light unto a dark world.

Take a few minutes—without distractions—to reflect on this story. Finish your reflection time in prayer. Please pray especially for our Shepherds, as they continue to lead us.

BCC Service Night

This Wednesday and next Wednesday, we’ll be working around the building, taking care of some projects that could use multiple helpers. We’ll also help prepare some materials for the upcoming sessions of Camp Koinonia.

Here are some ways you can serve tonight:

  • Help clean and tidy the Women’s Ministry closets

  • Mow and edge our yards

  • Trim trees

  • Help clean out the attic

  • Clean out gutters

  • Paint the gym door

  • Revitalize the flowerbeds

  • Spot-clean carpets

Holiness

Today, we’d like you to watch the video entitled “Holiness” by The Bible Project:

Reflect on this video below:

  1. What did you hear/see in this video that was new to you?

  2. Tim describes God’s holiness as so good, it’s dangerous to be around if we are impure. What does it mean to you, that Jesus has made us pure enough to be with God?

  3. How do we, like Jesus, bring God’s kingdom into a world filled with sin?

Read and reflect on Exodus 3:1-6 (NIV):

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

Read and reflect on 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NIV):

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Igor & Natasha Egirev
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Igor is the president of Christian Resource Center, located in St. Petersburg, Russia. CRCRussia began in 1991 in a small room, sending Bibles and literature to seekers across Russia.

The Center now offers the Institute of Theology and Christian Ministry, which offers residential courses for Russian church leaders. Instead of traveling overseas, these leaders receive training and education in their native language.

The Center has also established the Russian Bible School, which offers online classes for seekers and Christians alike. So far, over 1,000 students have completed the course of study, and over 20 home-based congregations have been established through the efforts of the Russian Bible School.

Along with these schools, the Center also supports local Russian congregations with additional resources, including:

  • Congregational singing resources, with many of the hymns written by Russian songwriters

  • Seminars and conferences, both to equip churches and to help them connect with each other

Take a few minutes to reflect on this ministry we support. Finish your reflection time in prayer. Pray especially for Igor & Natasha, and the efforts of CRCRussia.

Sermon: Growing Young Task Force

Click here to see and hear about the report!

This Sunday is a little unusual. Ritchie will be sharing a report from the Growing Young Task Force. While it won’t sound like a typical sermon, it does discuss the future of our church. As you listen, dwell on what you’re hearing. See if the Spirit is guiding you directly in this discussion.

Afterwards, reflect on these questions, either alone or with others:

  1. How would you summarize today’s lesson?

  2. What was your favorite quote or scripture from today?

  3. How does this particular lesson impact your life? Is there something you need to hold on to, or let go of? Where do you go from here?

  4. End your reflection time in prayer.

Lectio Divina (“Divine Reading”)

Lectio Divina is a form of devotional reading of scripture used for centuries, especially among Christians who couldn’t read, but instead memorized key passages of scripture.

Choose a scripture, and practice these five steps:

  1. Silencio – quietly prepare your heart. Release the chaos around yourself and welcome God’s presence.

  2. Lectio – read the scripture you’ve chosen. Read it aloud. Read slowly. If a particular phrase or word draws your attention, pause and dwell on that phrase.

  3. Meditatio – meditate. Read the scripture again, out loud, and listen as you read. Is God speaking to you within this text? Reflect on the words, especially any that stick out.

  4. Oratio – prayer and response. Read the scripture again, but this time turn it into a prayer. Talk to God about this passage: what you are feeling about it, what you are feeling about yourself, anything else that comes to mind.

  5. Contemplatio – contemplate and rest. Allow the words you’ve spoken to sink into you. Consider how you might remind yourself of this passage throughout the day.

Families with young children: use a children’s Bible and pick out a story together. Ask questions about the story. Share what you think about the story. Invite them to pray to God about this story. Practice a short time of silence with them, then close in a final prayer together.

Christian Farms / Treehouse

In those last hours before his betrayal, Jesus spoke to his disciples about what his life, and theirs, was all about. Two thousand years later, he says the same thing to us. On several occasions Jesus was asked to list the commandments according to importance. He boiled everything down to “love God and love others.”

On that Thursday evening, he not only narrowed the list down even further, he demonstrated what it would look like on Friday afternoon. And to us, what we would look like on Monday morning. He said that his disciples would be known by love. It's puzzling to many of us that he didn't mention education, buildings, clothes, or bands. Love was always the identifying mark of his teachings and his life. That night he set the bar even higher by saying, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

What does love look like? Well, the Rabbi said it looked like him. Not only what he said, but what he did. He washed their feet (even Peter and Judas) and then went out and died. Notice that he used the word “command”...not merely a suggestion. Discipleship means that we look like Jesus. And we act like Jesus. Easy to say, but so difficult to pull off.

Jesus loved “the least of these” by revealing that he was the messiah to a rejected woman in a despised country. He befriended a woman that everyone else wanted to kill. He ate with the hated tax collectors and touched the untouchables. Finally, he went to a cross and said, “Forgive them, they don't know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Each week we get an opportunity to associate with “the least of these.” Men and women whom many have rejected. Some have even come close to giving up on themselves. Drugs and alcohol are the demons that have hardened their heart and stolen their joy. Christian Farms / Treehouse is a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Temple. These residents come to us on Wednesday evening for a meal and a class prepared especially for them. The first Sunday of each month, they attend our worship time and stay for a potluck lunch. Many in our congregation volunteer as Spiritual Encouragers and spend time one-on-one with the folks there. We provide financial help to The Farm through blankets, pillows, clothing, bus tickets, prescription medicines, and a variety of other opportunities. Mainly, we give them a pat on the back, encouragement, and a listening ear. Along the way, we show them what Jesus looks like.

The folks at The Farm are no different than us. Romans 3:23 says that we all sin and fall short. “All” is a Greek word that means “all.” In Ephesians 2:10, God calls all of us Masterpieces...even those with blue hair and tattoos…even those who dress differently or smell differently.

One verse from a Casting Crowns song says, “break our heart for what breaks yours.” To hear the life stories of the men and women at The Farm is heartbreaking. They come for relief from their demons—to make the hurt go away. Professionals there do what professionals do, but we have the opportunity to present a person who can break the chains. Love is expressed not only by words, but by visible actions of acceptance and compassion.

Shirley Foster began our association with Treehouse over 13 years ago when she invited the ladies there to attend our Ladies Bible Class on Wednesday morning. After that, she asked if the men and women could come to our Wednesday meal and classes. They agreed. About eight years ago she asked Bill Nabers if he would teach a class for the residents after the meal on Wednesdays. Bill prepared the curriculum and taught the class with Ephesians 2:10 as the theme. That class continues today.

It is my belief that Father often comes to us and says, “I am going to do something in this world. I just want to know if you want to come along.” He doesn't need us to make Him better. There is nothing we can give to make Him richer. But He wants us...and that makes all the difference in the world.

Our association with CFTH did not begin around a table with a group of folks planning to start a “ministry.” There is still no “organization.” Just a group of people who want to show others what love looks like.

- Raymond Chapman

Take a few minutes—without distractions—to reflect on this story. Finish your reflection time in prayer. Pray especially for the ministries of Christian Farms and Treehouse.

Shepherd Stories: Claude Ross
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It has been a tremendous blessing the past two years serving as a shepherd of the Belton Church. The friendship and trust that we have as shepherds can only be attributed to God working in our hearts. I thoroughly enjoy meeting with these men and our conversations about work, family, and most importantly, how we see the Belton Church grow. Our meetings are not onerous. We have had our share of difficult conversations and concerns that needed to be addressed. Because we continually ask God for wisdom, for His will to be in hearts and His words to come from our mouths, we are at peace with our decisions.

I see God working in BCC every day. We have new families coming to join our church family. I see lives changing to be more like Christ. The passion of our members and their eagerness to serve encourages me daily. It is my prayer that we may be a light to our local community. BCC is in a great location. With the growth of the North Belton/West Temple area, we have a grand opportunity that not many other churches have. Our community needs to know our Savior, and BCC is in the best place to reach our neighbors. We need to be known in our community as a church family who serves others.

If there is one thing that I wish people knew about being a shepherd, it is the burden we feel to intimately know everyone and what’s going on in their lives. I struggle that I don’t know everyone’s name, where they work and what they struggle with.

As a shepherd, I find encouragement in a close friend who also serves as a shepherd in another church. His attitude and dedication are examples for me. Before I considered serving as a shepherd, he and I had many long conversations about leading people and leading change. Many times, our conservations are on fishing trips. It is blessing to spend time with him.

Take a few minutes—without distractions—to reflect on this story. Finish your reflection time in prayer. Please pray especially for our Shepherds, as they continue to lead us.

Vacation Bible School
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Tonight, we’re having a night of service…at VBS!

VBS is a chance for kids ages 3 through 5th grade to explore the Bible in a new, exciting way. This year, our VBS students are traveling back in time to Athens and learn about Paul’s journey to share God’s Word.

You can serve in two ways this week:

  • If you’ve already signed up to help with VBS, great! Just keep doing what you’ve been doing!

  • If you haven’t signed up, we will begin VBS cleanup at 8pm tonight. Show up and help tear down!

If you’re unable to serve, please pray for our workers, and pray especially for our kids. Many of these kids are from the community, and they don’t regularly attend church. VBS is one way we invite them into a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Heaven & Earth

Today, we’d like you to watch the video entitled “Heaven and Earth” by The Bible Project:

Reflect on this video below:

  1. What did you hear/see in this video that was new to you?

  2. Tim says, “The union of heaven and earth is what the story of the Bible is all about.” Where do you see God trying to reunite heaven and earth in the Bible?

  3. How do we, like Jesus, bring God’s kingdom into a world filled with sin?

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV):

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.’

Read and reflect on Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV):

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

JoJo & Janet Ramos
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JoJo & Janet Ramos have been Christians for about 15 years. We became acquainted with their work thru Mission Resource Network who trained JoJo and Janet in their Disciple Making Movement (DMM). They were introduced to us as a very mission-minded couple who are partially self-supporting in their work. They are both very successful business entrepreneurs. At one time they owned a chain of video rental stores which they sold to help fund their ministries. Then Janet opened “Infintea,” a franchise tea in the heart of Baguio City. Now she has opened a second franchise. They enlist all of their kids in running the business, freeing JoJo and Janet up for ministry.

JoJo is the mission coordinator for the Mid-Town Church of Christ in Baguio City. He has helped to plant three congregations in the Bokod and Pito areas of the mountain where he grew up. Much of JoJo’s roots and family are still located there. JoJo and Janet use the youth group from Mid-Town and their own children to minister and train disciples in the mountains. They continue to make the six-hour trip on mountain roads to help mature their Christian brothers in Christ. JoJo and Janet have recently begun to adopt children day care centers where they can minister to the children in support of local churches. Now those day care centers have become places of worship for families to hear the Gospel.

Early in our association with JoJo and Janet, they introduced to us the opportunity to help create the “upper room.” This room was above Janet’s tea business and could be used as a Christian library/Bible Study/meeting place for youth groups and other Christians. Members from Belton helped to supply funds for the renovation and furnishings of the “upper room,” along with many boxes of supplies, books, and teaching materials.

The “upper room” has been a great blessing to their ministry in Baguio. Janet’s business is in the heart of the city with several nearby universities. Activities at the “upper room” have become almost constant, with students coming for Bible study and classes. In the near future, Lord willing, Janet will take in the retail space next to her, allowing her business and “upper room” space to double in size, potentially adding a new congregation.

Food, clothing, and school supplies provided by Belton are often distributed to those in need. After a major typhoon hit the Philippines last year, JoJo and Janet went to the Loacan area where the roads and landslides had made relief efforts very difficult. They quickly decided to feed and minister to the soldiers who were doing the actual search and recovery operations. Once the soldiers had done their work, Janet, JoJo, and many of his high school classmates organized food distribution to over 250 families. Thanks to the Belton Church for their special contributions, they were also able to plan and execute a medical mission for that community. As a result, a new congregation has now been planted in that place.

Now JoJo and Janet have been working with Mission Resource Network to train preachers and disciples in Janet’s home area to the north. Churches have been planted in Isabela, Cagayan, and Kalinga. The preachers are financially supported by JoJo and Janet and the Pasir Panjang congregation from Singapore.

Jo & Janet are also very well known throughout Southeast Asia as a resource to help other churches to train and equip their members. In the last year, Janet has made a trip to Korea to associate with Filipina Christians working there. They were invited to Payap Christian Zone in Chang Mai, Thailand to minister to Burmese refugees. They were also invited to Hong Kong and the Wanchai Church of Christ to minister to their ladies of the congregation. Janet did a seminar in a local park for 58 women.

Last July JoJo was asked by Sunset International Bible Institute to distribute 2000 solar players to key leaders of the churches in the Philippines. These players were each loaded with the entire SIBI Bible curriculum, as well as Bible reference materials and hymns that could be used in remote areas with no electricity.

JoJo and Janet continue to feel God calling to make disciples through the Filipino population that is scattered throughout the world. Filipinos are generally, very caring healthcare workers, housekeepers, teachers etc. Once they are converted and trained to be a disciple, they can help to carry the gospel to many of the unreached peoples of the world. In the future, JoJo and Janet will pray God makes his plans known to them.

Take a few minutes—without distractions—to reflect on this story. Finish your reflection time in prayer. Pray especially for JoJo and Janet, and their ministries to Southeast Asia.

Sermon: Where Will You Spend Eternity?

Note: we will post a link to the sermon audio when it becomes available!

As Ritchie shares his sermon, listen and dwell on what you’re hearing. See if the Spirit is guiding you directly in this lesson.

After the sermon, reflect on these questions, either alone or with others:

  1. How would you summarize today’s lesson?

  2. What was your favorite quote or scripture from today?

  3. How does this particular lesson impact your life?
    Is there something you need to hold on to, or let go of? Where do you go from here?

  4. End your reflection time in prayer.

Silence & Solitude
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We live in the Age of Interruption. We have access to the entire world in a smartphone that fits in our pocket, but we’re also shackled by its ability to interrupt our lives.

We live in the Age of Busyness. We have packed schedules, filled not only with work but also with pleasure. In this culture, we can have so much fun, it’s exhausting!

The spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude call us to something different. Not merely a rest from activity, but rest from busyness. We quiet ourselves and our world so that we can listen for God.

Here are some ways you can cultivate silence & solitude:

  1. Take advantage of your daily “moments of solitude”—as you first wake up in the morning, your commute to work, a time after the kids are in bed. Instead of filling that moment with media…let silence speak.

  2. Find a time and space to intentionally retreat. Turn off your phone and rest. If your brain is still filled with anxiety or things to do, bring a journal and write down those thoughts, knowing you can revisit them after this time is done.

  3. Fast from media—smartphones, TV, etc.—for a time.

  4. During your prayer time, spend some of that time in pure silence, resting in God’s love and listening.

Introduction

Are you tired? Are you weary?

Have you felt stretched to the point of breaking?

Is your soul longing for renewal?

As summer begins, we wanted to offer this set of daily devotional guides. Each day in June, you can intentionally focus on some way that God is at work…in the world, in our communities, or in your life.

Each day has a particular theme:

  • Each Sunday, we’ll reflect on Ritchie’s sermon.

  • Each Monday, we’ll learn about one of our missionary couples and pray for them.

  • Each Tuesday, you’ll be given a short video from The Bible Project that illustrates a Biblical theme.

  • Each Wednesday, you’ll have multiple opportunities to serve our church and our community.

  • Each Thursday, one of our Shepherds will share one of their ministry stories.

  • Each Friday, one of our members will share one of their ministry stories.

  • Each Saturday, you’ll be given a unique spiritual discipline to learn about and practice.

We hope that these guides offer refreshment for your soul!

Chris Woodrow