30 May, 2011

Questions and Answers Before the Day of Fasting

Here are some guidelines and helps to prepare us for our Day of Fasting and Solemn Assembly which is scheduled for Friday, June 3, 5:30PM until Saturday, June 4, 5:30PM. If you have any other questions before this weekend, do not hesitate to call or email.

Could you define fasting again for me?
Our Standards say, “Religious fasting is an ordinance of God in which the believer voluntarily abstains from food for a season for the purpose of seeking the will of God, strength for service or deeper spirituality. It should be accompanied by meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance and renewed dedication to a life of obedience (Reformed Presbyterian Testimony, 21.7).”

How are we supposed to do this?
For the 24 hours that the Pacific Coast Presbytery has called us to fast we should avoid food and caloric intake for the sake of afflicting ourselves (remember this is one of the biblical terms for fasting) and drawing us closer to Christ in prayer and meditation. It is a practice of self denial as well as a way to give us more time for prayer and meditation.

What if I have medical problems?
If you are not able to fast for the entire 24 hours due to a medical condition, do what your body is able to handle (and maybe a tiny bit more). The fast should be one where you practice self-denial, but it also is not designed to harm you. Jesus desires obedience, not sacrifice. You will have to decide what you are able to handle. Please make that decision prayerfully.

Should my children fast?
If your children are at an age where they understand what is being asked of them, they should most definitely fast. If they are too young to understand the nature and purpose, do not have them fast. Young children may be able to participate in an abbreviated way. Broth and juices are good substitutes for younger children who wish to participate. Nursing mothers should do what they are able to do, but be wise about it!

What if I have never fasted before?
If you have never fasted you will want to prepare yourself this week by eating less, and attempting to focus on prayer at times when you may have hunger pains. You may also want to ask someone in the congregation to be a prayer and accountability partner in this time. Do not eat too much before you begin. You will do better if you eat less in preparation than if you gorge yourself. Also, be well hydrated before the fast. Drink plenty of water. You may also need to drink water during the fast. This is okay.

Is there more to this than just not eating?
Fasting is only a means to an end. There is nothing spiritual about not eating food. In order for it to be a biblical fast, we need to “accompany it with meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance, and renewed dedication to a life of obedience (RPT 21.7)” Fasting should lead us to changed hearts, not just empty bellies.

Should I just go about my day as usual?
No. You should try to treat this time as a season where you focus on God in Christ in a more intense way. Some things come up, but try to free your schedule as best as possible so that you can have time for spiritual exercises. It is also a good day for fellowship around the Word of God. Since it is a public fast, you may want to spend some of your times with others from the congregation.

What if I have young children?
If you have young children that you are caring for, fasting will prove to be more difficult. Plan your day well. Schedule one or two times during the day when others can be with your children. Also use their nap times for prayer and meditation. You may also incorporate them into the spiritual exercises of the day.

How do you want us to pray?
You can use the prayer guide to help you along. Also, feel free to reflect on your own spiritual life as well. The purpose is for the presbytery, but each one of us make up the presbytery.

Should I pray alone or with others?
It is appropriate to pray as an individual, as families, and in groups. If people would like to organize small gatherings here at the church, feel free. That is why we want to have the church open. We would love to see the building used for prayer, psalm singing, Scripture reading, and meditation during this 24 hours.

How do I get others to pray with me?
Ask them. There may be some in the congregation who are interested in praying in groups. Feel free to gather a small group and meet in the chapel or one of the rooms of the church building. You can sing psalms of penitence, meditate, read Scripture, and even listen to sermons together. This is very appropriate for this day.

What should I meditate on during this time?
There are many things that are appropriate to meditate on during a fast. The Bible is the primary source for meditation. Some like to use the Shorter Catechism as a way to think about spiritual truth. Your Psalter is another valuable resource. If you are unsure what meditation looks like, ask the pastor for resources. You could also use some of your time to listen to or read sermons on various Biblical passages.

What's in store for Saturday?
On Saturday at 5:30PM we will gather in the chapel for a worship service. There will be singing, public prayers (like a prayer meeting), and a homily (short sermon) from the pastor. We will also renew our covenant of communicant membership. Please consider this a called worship service. You may come as early as you want to so that you can use the chapel to pray. Again, the church is going to be open. After worship, we will have a light meal to break the fast together.

Should I bring anything for Saturday's meal?
No. Dottiann Pino is arranging the post-fast meal. There is no need to bring anything.

What if I still have questions through-out the week?
You are free to contact the elders with any further questions. Many in the congregation are new to this as well. Feel free to ask!

27 May, 2011

Urgent Prayers Needed for Cush4Christ

In response to escalating conflict in South Sudan, most of the the Cush4Christ team was evacuated

today to Kenya.

Most of you are probably aware of clashes erupting in recent days in the Abyei area (about 80 miles NE of our mission, and the link will take you to the latest articles from the BBC) between the Northern Army and South Sudan Army (SPLA). However in addition to that clash, there have been major troop buildups along the North/South border including an area just about 40 miles north of our mission. In addition, there is great unrest with reports of troops seizing vehicles (some to travel to the front lines, others to flee the front lines) and other associated acts of violence (at least 2 within 2 miles of our compound in the last 48 hours). Finally, our sources within the SPLA expect a major Northern Army air and land offensive to begin in the next two days.

Therefore, the Cush4Christ team in consultation with RPGM determined that it was time to enact the evacuation plan. While none of us knows exactly what will transpire in the next few days, it seemed prudent to get our team out of Sudan before the situation deteriorated further.

Here is the status of our team:

  • The Ward family was already in Nairobi, Kenya this week for a regularly scheduled resupply and rejuvenate trip.
  • The Faris family is on the chartered evacuation flight and will reach Nairobi soon. (The Faris family is scheduled to be in the US for 2 months from late June-August, so they will try to move their flight up.)
  • Jan Buchanan is on the evacuation flight. Unfortunately, Jan just arrived in Sudan a week ago, so barely had time to settle in.
  • Scott Brinkerhoff is remaining in Sudan for the present time to further secure the compound and continue the radio ministry, but plans are in place for him to join later evacuation flights through Samaritan's Purse or the UN depending on the developments. We have every reason to believe that his life is not in danger, and are thankful for his willingness to continue behind to wrap things up. For obvious reasons, it is less conspicuous for a single man to travel about and easier to find shelter at the UN compound if needed and room on later evacuation flights than for an entire family to do these things.

Your prayers for God’s people in South Sudan are greatly needed. Over these past few years, we have marveled at the way that God has brought forth Sudanese men for ministry, how He has seen fit not only to provide pastors, but ruling elders and deacons for this multiplying church with over 1300 members.

  • Please pray for the ministers and officers of His churches in Southern Sudan. May God grant them wisdom, courage, and the Spirit’s leading as they assume an even greater leadership role among the saints.
  • Please pray for the safety of the saints and that these clashes would soon end and that Christ’s churches might again enjoy peace as they grow and develop.
  • Pray that God’s Word through radio broadcasts in the area might also be used of God to strike at the heart of those currently engaged in the clashes and that they will be moved away from conflict and instead pursue the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
  • Give thanks for a safe evacuation of the missionaries and pray that the time away from Sudan will be short and well-used.
  • Pray for the children of the missionaries in this time as such changes can be stressful not only for parents but for the young as well.

Obviously, we will be monitoring the situation and making further plans as the situation becomes more clear. As further news becomes available we will let you know. Signed, Matt Filbert.

16 May, 2011

Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church

Good news from our brothers and sisters in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland:

Lord's Day 22nd May 2011, will, God willing, be a day of much rejoicing and thanksgiving in the Scottish RP Church. For the past year the RPCS Presbytery has actively supported the work undertaken by the Airdrie RP Church to see a new RP congregation planted in Glasgow. That vision will be realised on the Lord's Day the 22nd May when the Presbytery will meet to formally constitute the new Glasgow RP Church.

There will be no morning service in Airdrie on the 22nd May as we will be travelling into Glasgow to join with them for this important and historic occasion. We will meet at the Airdrie church at 10am to travel in together in the minibus and cars. There will be a light buffet lunch after the morning service.

Initially the Airdrie Session will oversee the work along with thePresbytery appointed organising minister, Rev. Kenneth Stewart, but the desire is that it will not be too long before this new congregation will have its own leadership of elders and deacons.

We will delight in this development when it takes place, but are also very conscious that only Christ can and will build His Church to the Father's glory.

The address for Glasgow RP Fellowship is Thornwood Primary School, 11 Thornwood Terrace, Glasgow, G11 7QZ .

To read more news items from the church, please visit: www.airdrierpcs.org

12 May, 2011

What Does the RPCNA Say About Fasting?

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. -Jesus in Mark 2.

Fasting is an ordinance of God that is much neglected in the Church of Jesus Christ today. The Scriptures say a lot about the ordinance of fasting, but what is it? I think that the Reformed Presbyterian Church has helpful information within the Standards of the Church. Hear from the Larger Catechism, Reformed Presbyterian Testimony, as well as the Directory for Public Worship for meditation material on fasting. The Pacific Coast Presbytery of the RPCNA will be fasting on June 4, 2011. Please see this guide for praying for the Pacific Coast Presbytery.

Larger Catechism

Question 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment?
Answer: The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Reformed Presbyterian Testimony 21.7

Religious fasting is an ordinance of God in which the believer voluntarily abstains from food for a season for the purpose of seeking the will of God, strength for service or deeper spirituality. It should be accompanied by meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance and renewed dedication to a life of obedience.

Directory for Public Worship 4.2

In Christian fasting, as an ordinance of God, the believer voluntarily abstains from food or some ordinary pleasure for a season for the purpose of seeking the will of God, strength for service, or deeper spirituality. It should be accompanied by meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance and renewed dedication to a life of obedience.

A fast day may be marked by a service of public worship. In such services, it is fitting that psalms of penitence be sung, along with the offering of prayers of confession of sin and petitions for pardon.

If the civil authority calls for a time of prayer and fasting that is in harmony with the Scriptures, Sessions may encourage the people of God to pay due respect to that call. Besides such general occasions, there may be times when families and individuals, for their own reasons, give themselves to prayer and fasting for a season.

Special days of fasting, humiliation and prayer are particularly appropriate when God’s judgments are evident in the land, or when corporate sin in church or nation provokes the Lord and invites His judgments. It is appropriate that such days be observed in connection with services preparatory to the Lord’s Supper or on days designated by Sessions, Presbyteries, and Synods for this purpose.