Bible: Best Selling Book in China

In 1979, the Chinese government allowed the state-sanctioned churches to assemble, worship and print materials. The Bible has become prevalent in China, thanks to prolific Bible printer Amity Press, and the state no longer forbids citizens from owning an Amity-printed Bible. However, you can only buy the Bible from state churches and bookstores, which may be few and far between for Christians in rural areas.

Organizations like United Bible Societies and Bibles for China are working to get the Bible to the millions of poor Chinese Christians. See the work of UBS in the video below.



Lighthouse – February

 

Monthly Newsletter of Horeb Mar Thoma Church

Lighthouse

Message from Rev. Larry Varghese, Vicar

Larry_Achen_sml

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) – But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

Christina quickly became defensive when her friend said, “Jesus wasn’t God but a person who taught good morals.” Christina bluntly answered back, “Jesus is more than just a good teacher; he is God incarnate.” Her friend retorted, “Well, if Jesus really were God, couldn’t he pray to himself? Why did he always pray to the Father?” Christina was taken aback. She never really thought about that. She paused for a moment to think, desperately racing through her memory banks hoping to find the one Bible verse or the one line of a sermon which she could use to sharply answer back. The pause became silence, and the silence lingered too long…

When we were young we memorized information. Later, information gave way to a relationship. This is what Peter means when he says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” Christ moves from being an external topic of study to being honored internally in our hearts as Lord.

There is so much more beyond the memorizing and initial relationship. Wanting to know more is not to be seen as lack of faith or having an “attitude”. I remember a professor that took it as a sign of disrespect and doubt when I asked a question during the lecture. When it comes to so many things in life we ask questions and want to know more. Often with Christ though, we are satisfied with too little. Asking questions is one way of learning. If we don’t like the idea of learning then it becomes difficult to answer the questions others direct against us. Whether we believe it or not, our kids will face questions like the one in the story and many others. We need to be able to say why we believe what we believe. This takes effort. It takes discipline. But if you love someone enough you’ll want to know more about them. Every Christian is called to defend his or her faith. No one is called to be a mediocre Christian. Knowing what and more importantly why we believe in something is the task of all. By the way, the question asked in the story above is a common critique posed by Muslims who claim that Jesus was just another prophet and not divine. Other common questions raised against Christians is “If God is good then why is there evil?” and “How can you say that after thousands of years that the Bible you have is reliable?” We may not have the professorial answer but we all have the mandate to plumb the depths of our faith and grow.

Let me quickly respond to the line of thinking that goes like this: “But why not simply have faith like a child. Just believe. Anything else just over complicates.” To that I quote Hebrews 5:12-13, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.” Who’s up for steak!

Let us always be ready to give our answer for why we believe.
Rev. Larry Varghese.

Worship Service

Hands Held High Website Banner50

Sunday School

All Sundays – 1:30 pm

Praise & Worship

All Sundays – 2:30 pm

Service Times

All Sundays – 3:00 pm

First Sunday Holy Communion Service (English)

Second Sunday Holy Communion Service (Malayalam)

Third Sunday Holy Communion Service (English)

Fourth Sunday Holy Communion Service (English)

Fifth Sunday Divine & Witnessing Service (English)
(when applicable)

 

Lectionary

Bible Lesson Readers & Deacons

News, Events & Monthly Meetings

newsandevents

General Body Meeting

The general body of Horeb MTC will be held on Sunday, February 9th immediately after the service.
Agenda:

a.      2013 annual report and accounts
b.      Budget for the year 2014 and proposal to increase the annual subscription to $135
c.       Election of Assembly Representative
d.      Election of Manadalam Representative
e.       Retreat 2014
f.        Hosting the Youth Leadership Conference 2015
g.      Picnic Coordinator

 

Parish (Edavaka) Mission

Monthly Fasting and Prayer Meeting
Friday, February 28 @ 7:30pm
(Location TBD)

Tuesday Evening Meeting @ 7:00pm

2/4: Mr. & Mrs. Philip Mathew
2/11: Mr. & Mrs. Mathew Koshy
2/18:  Mrs. Annamma Mathai
2/25: Mr. & Mrs. Juby Jacob

Western Region One-Day Conference

Date:    Saturday, February 15, 2014
Time:     10am  –  4pm
Venue: Phoenix MTC
             6101, South River Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283

For details, please click on link below:
http://www.horebmtc.org/western-regional-mtvea-conference/

 

Youth Fellowship

Fun Night 
Friday, February 14, 6:45 pm

 

Sevika Sangham (Women’s Ministry)

Friday, February 7  @ 7:30p
Held at the residence of Mrs. Cini Mathew.

Western Regional Sevika Sangham One Day Conference
Saturday, March 15 – 8am to 4pm
Hosted by Horeb MTC.

For details, please click on link below:
http://www.horebmtc.org/western-region-sevika-sangham-one-day-conference/

 

Young Family Fellowship

Saturday, February 22, 4:00 pm
(Location TBD)

 

Birthday and Wedding Anniversary

     

http://www.horebmtc.org/anniversaries/

 

 

 



Brad Dowling’s Testimony

Inspiring Story of a Severely Disfigured Man Who Won’t Stop Serving the Lord:

‘If God’s Called You to Do Something, Then Do It’

Dowling suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes thousands of tumors to grow on nerve tissue, sometimes internally, others times on the skin where they result in severe disfigurement. In November 2013, Pope Francis kissed a man who suffered neurofibromatosis whose face was covered in boils.



Christ Called Me Off the Minaret

Christ Called Me Off the Minaret

Through investigations, dreams, and visions, Jesus asked me to forsake my Muslim family.

Nabeel Qureshi

Allahu Akbar. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

These are the first words of the Muslim call to prayer. They were also the first words ever spoken to me. Moments after I was born, I have been told, my father softly recited them in my ear, as his father had done for him, and as all my forefathers had done for their sons since the time of Muhammad.

We are Qureshis, descendants of the Quresh tribe—Muhammad’s tribe. Our family stood sentinel over Islamic tradition.

The words my ancestors passed down to me were more than ritual: they came to define my life as a Muslim in the West. Every day I sat next to my mother as she taught me to recite the Qur’an in Arabic. Five times a day, I stood behind my father as he led our family in congregational prayer.

By age 5, I had recited the entire Qur’an in Arabic and memorized the last seven chapters. By age 15, I had committed the last 15 chapters of the Qur’an to memory in both English and Arabic. Every day I recited countless prayers in Arabic, thanking Allah for another day upon waking, invoking his name before falling asleep.

But it is one thing to be steeped in remembrance, and it is quite another to bear witness. My grandfather and great-grandfather were Muslim missionaries, spending their lives preaching Islam to unbelievers in Indonesia and Uganda. My genes carried their zeal. By middle school, I had learned how to challenge Christians, whose theology I could break down just by asking questions. Focusing on the identity of Jesus, I would ask, “Jesus worshiped God, so why do you worship Jesus?” or, “Jesus said, ‘the Father is greater than I.’ How could he be God?” If I really wanted to throw Christians for a loop, I would ask them to explain the Trinity. They usually responded, “It’s a mystery.” In my heart I mocked their ignorance, saying, “The only mystery here is how you could believe in something as ridiculous as Christianity.”

Bolstered by every conversation I had with Christians, I felt confident in the truth of Islam. It gave me discipline, purpose, morals, family values, and clear direction for worship. Islam was the lifeblood that coursed through my veins. Islam was my identity, and I loved it. I boldly issued the call of Islam to anyone and everyone who would listen, proclaiming that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.

And it was there, atop the minaret of Islamic life, that Jesus called to me.

 

Not the Man I Thought

As a freshman at Old Dominion University in Virginia, I was befriended by a sophomore, David Wood. Soon after he extended a helping hand, I found him reading a Bible. Incredulous that someone as clearly intelligent as he would actually read Christians’ sacred text, I launched a barrage of apologetic attacks, from questioning the reliability of Scripture to denying Jesus’ crucifixion to, of course, challenging the Trinity and the deity of Christ.

David didn’t react like other Christians I had challenged. He did not waver in his witness, nor did he waver in his friendship with me. Far from it—he became even more engaged, answering the questions he could respond to, investigating the questions he couldn’t respond to, and spending time with me through it all.

Even though he was a Christian, his zeal for God was something I understood and respected. We quickly became best friends, signing up for events together, going to classes together, and studying for exams together. All the while we argued about the historical foundations of Christianity. Some classes we signed up for just to argue some more.

After three years of investigating the origins of Christianity, I concluded that the case for Christianity was strong—that the Bible could be trusted and that Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and claimed to be God.

Then David challenged me to study Islam as critically as I had studied Christianity. I had learned about Muhammad from imams and my parents, not from the historical sources themselves. When I finally read the sources, I found that Muhammad was not the man I had thought. Violence and sensuality dripped from the pages of his earliest biographies, the life stories of the man I revered as the holiest in history.

Shocked by what I learned, I began to lean on the Qur’an as my defense. But when I turned an eye there, that foundation crumbled just as quickly. I relied on its miraculous knowledge and perfect preservation as a sign that it was inspired by God, but both beliefs faltered.

Overwhelmed and confused by the evidence for Christianity and the weakness of the Islamic case, I began seeking Allah for help. Or was he Jesus? I didn’t know any longer. I needed to hear from God himself who he was. Thankfully, growing up in a Muslim community, I had seen others implore Allah for guidance. The way that Muslims expect to hear from God is through dreams and visions.

 

1 Vision, 3 Dreams

In the summer after graduating from Old Dominion, I began imploring God daily. “Tell me who you are! If you are Allah, show me how to believe in you. If you are Jesus, tell me! Whoever you are, I will follow you, no matter the cost.”

By the end of my first year in medical school, God had given me a vision and three dreams, the second of which was the most powerful. In it I was standing at the threshold of a strikingly narrow door, watching people take their seats at a wedding feast. I desperately wanted to get in, but I was not able to enter, because I had yet to accept my friend David’s invitation to the wedding. When I awoke, I knew what God was telling me, but I sought further verification. It was then that I found the parable of the narrow door, in Luke 13:22–30. God was showing me where I stood.

But I still couldn’t walk through the door. How could I betray my family after all they had done for me? By becoming a Christian, not only would I lose all connection with the Muslim community around me, my family would lose their honor as well. My decision would not only destroy me, it would also destroy my family, the ones who loved me most and sacrificed so much for me.

 

For Muslims, following the gospel is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.

I began mourning the impact of the decision I knew I had to make. On the first day of my second year of medical school, it became too much to bear. Yearning for comfort, I decided to skip school. Returning to my apartment, I placed the Qur’an and the Bible in front of me. I turned to the Qur’an, but there was no comfort there. For the first time, the book seemed utterly irrelevant to my suffering. Irrelevant to my life. It felt like a dead book.

With nowhere left to go, I opened up the New Testament and started reading. Very quickly, I came to the passage that said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Electric, the words leapt off the page and jump-started my heart. I could not put the Bible down. I began reading fervently, reaching Matthew 10:37, which taught me that I must love God more than my mother and father.

“But Jesus,” I said, “accepting you would be like dying. I will have to give up everything.”

The next verses spoke to me, saying, “He who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it” (NASB). Jesus was being very blunt: For Muslims, following the gospel is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.

Betrayal

I knelt at the foot of my bed and gave up my life. A few days later, the two people I loved most in this world were shattered by my betrayal. To this day my family is broken by the decision I made, and it is excruciating every time I see the cost I had to pay.

But Jesus is the God of reversal and redemption. He redeemed sinners to life by his death, and he redeemed a symbol of execution by repurposing it for salvation. He redeemed my suffering by making me rely upon him for my every moment, bending my heart toward him. It was there in my pain that I knew him intimately. He reached me through investigations, dreams, and visions, and called me to prayer in my suffering. It was there that I found Jesus. To follow him is worth giving up everything.

 

Nabeel Qureshi is an itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ (Zondervan).

 



Young Man Battles Cancer With A Smile

Nick Magnotti is a 27 year old new father who has been battling cancer for over 2 years. (Read More Below)

The cancer originated in his Appendix and has spread throughout his abdominal cavity, despite many efforts to curb the cancer’s aggressive nature. Through all the treatments, multiple surgeries, intense heated intra-peritoneal chemotherapy treatments, seventeen rounds of systemic chemo and countless hours of excruciating pain – he continues to smile. Though doctors can no longer help him, the word he uses to describe how he feels now, is, blessed. Find out more about this young man and his journey at http://teammagnotti.org.

Nick’s official Diagnosis: Mucinous Adenocarcinoma of the Appendix with Signet Ring Cell, Poorly Differentiated, Stage 4. Prognosis: Already on borrowed time.

UPDATE January 7th, 2014: Nick went home to be with Jesus, he is healed, he is at peace and he is smiling his beautiful smile. I am CERTAIN of it! Proverbs 3:5-6



Alone Yet Not Alone

Oscar Nominated Song Surprises the Nation

Lights, glamour, indulgence, actors, these are a few of the words that might come to mind when we think of the Oscars. In March, one of the most coveted nights in Hollywood will include big names, glitz, and a low-budget, obscure Christian film — Alone Yet Not Alone.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated “Alone Yet Not Alone” for best original song, taking everyone by surprise, including its singer, Joni and Friends Founder and CEO, Joni Eareckson Tada. “When I heard the news I thought they were kidding,” said Tada.

Set in the mid-1700s and based on a true story, Alone Yet Not Alone depicts a family fleeing religious persecution in Germany to America. The movie was adapted from a book by Tracy Leininger Craven. The Oscar nominated song (also by the same name) captures the vision of the struggle the family endured while living during that era. The lyrics of “Alone Yet Not Alone” also captured the heart of Tada.

“I really resonated with the words – after all, I sit down in a stand-up world and often feel ‘alone;’ but of course with my faith in God, I’m never really alone! The Bible is filled with stories of God picking ill-equipped, unskilled people for places of great influence – that’s how I feel, me, a quadriplegic, singing an Academy Award nominated song.”

Tada, 64, is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, a Christian organization dedicated to advancing disability ministry within churches and assisting families affected by disability around the world. Joni and Friends was founded in 1979, 15 years after Tada, then 17, suffered a diving accident leaving her a quadriplegic.

Friday morning while preparing for the day, Tada’s phone rang and on the other end was her long-time friend. “(On Thursday) my good friend Bobbie Wolgemuth called while I was still getting up and shared with me about the academy nomination. It takes me about two hours to get up in the morning. I have women who help me,” she said. And though mornings can be arduous for Tada, this one was special, “It was quite a fun way to start the day. I thought they were kidding. Christian films are never given that platform and that this little film would beat out Taylor Swift. Wow.”

Last year, while speaking at the closing session of the National Religious Broadcasters’ Convention, Tada was spotted by representatives of Enthuse Entertainment, the producer of Alone Yet Not Alone, and asked to consider singing the theme song of the movie. During her session, Tada intertwined singing hymns as she spoke, which caught the producer’s attention.

“When I heard the simple, humble song, I wanted to record it,” she said, “I’m over the top about what God is doing. It is a little Christian film and here it is, up for an academy award.

As news broke about the Best Song nominations, People Magazine featured all five songs on their website, including video of the performances. Shocked to see this, Tada reflected on watching the song and her prayer offered prior on a secular magazine site.

“People Magazine posted the video of me singing the song and offering up a prayer in the beginning. In that prayer I’m speaking of the Lord’s power in my life. And to think of how many people will see that. God did that. I’m excited.”

Tada’s prayer begins with acknowledging her limitations and dependence on the Lord: “We are the ones that run to you when we are weak. And, uh, you know this body, you formed this body. This is a quadriplegic body. That is broken. My lungs are limited. But there’s this fine balance with presenting to you all of my weakness and thinking that it can’t be done. I don’t want to think that it can’t be done. So Father, I pray that you will mitigate any crackiness in my voice . . . and so, give me your strength.”

Admittedly, Tada is not a professional singer and because of her limited lung capacity, she has a difficult time staying on pitch and hitting high notes. She has, however, previously recorded songs available for purchase on her website.

“Upon hearing the news, I kept thinking of the millions of singers who would want to be in my shoes,” she said, “I’m not a professional singer. Though this doesn’t mean as much to me as to some, I’m not cavalier. This is a huge surprise. Extremely honored.”

Each year the Oscars feature the nominated songs throughout the evening. Although Tada is unsure whether she will be singing, Christianity Today reported that the song will indeed be performed live during the televised awards night.

When asked what she would say if the “Alone Yet Not Alone” received the coveted award Tada said, “If it did win, it would be a miracle. If I were ever asked to share my thoughts, I would paint a quick picture of God’s heart and what he wants to see done with this marvelous themed movie. What God wants to see happen. I’d make much of the miracle of this simple little story. He’s saying something, so we should listen.”

Alone Yet Not Alone releases on June 13 and is set to release in 185 cities per the website. This is the second Academy Award nomination for Bruce Broughton, the composer of “Alone Yet Not Alone”. He was previously nominated for: Silverado (1985) – for Music (Original Score).

 

Along with leading Joni and Friends, Tada has written over 70 books including When God Weeps (Zondervan, 2010) and her latest along with her husband, Ken Tada, Joni & Ken: An Untold Story (Zondervan, 2013).



Cody’s Story

 



God With Us

 

In 1854, a young Charles Spurgeon preached his Christmas Eve sermon on Isaiah 7:14-15. Using Spurgeon’s words from that sermon, an original score and a collection of animated paintings, this video illustrates the wonder of the ages, God with us.



HMTC – Year 2013 in flashback

A very beautiful collage of images from the year 2013 on how God had faithfully led us in many ways, as the first year of the parish among many other things. Thanks for the unity in fellowship leading to a meaningful workship. Thank you specially to the Saji Baby for putting this altogether.



Lighthouse – January

Monthly Newsletter of Horeb Mar Thoma Church

Lighthouse

Message from Rev. Larry Varghese, Vicar

Larry_Achen_sml

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5

This new year is a fresh start for some, but for most it’s another week just like the last one. It’s easy to get caught up in the monotonous and mundane cycle of life. The Teacher, from Ecclesiastes, warns us about the repetitive cycle that our lives follow. Refer to Ecclesiastes 1:3-10 and see if this is a description of your life. We wake up, eat, go to school or work, eat, come home, study or work some more, eat, sleep, lather, rinse, repeat. The world is stuck in a rut and we succumb to it.

How are we as Christians any different? Our schedule may be similar to everyone else, but do we realize the uniqueness of life in Christ? God promised the Israelites who went through exile that he would be doing a new thing. “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19. He started a new thing in the 5th century BC and in Revelation 21:5 he’s still at it. Christian hope is founded, in part, on this idea that God has the power to break us out of the vain, repetitious cycle and infuse our lives with newness. What is this newness? It’s forgiveness of sins. Being set free from the hold of destructive and unfruitful living, and having our mistakes and faults wiped away is a renewing experience. But I think it’s more than forgiveness of sins. It’s an upgrade in the character and quality of our beings. We are being conformed into the image of Christ. This is a life-long process of constant newness. This year, let us be the proof of Revelation 21:5’s truthfulness. Let us strive to be Christ-like in our character. Allow God to do a new thing in your life. Attend church more regularly, pray more often, forgive sooner, give bigger, read the Bible more thoughtfully, spend more quality time with family, work more diligently, rest more Biblically (even God took a break), fellowship more deeply, love more patiently, rejoice constantly, think more empathetically, live more sacrificially, act more humbly…. You get the point. May bless you in this new year so you would experience newness that only he can bring.

Rev. Larry Varghese.

Worship Service

Hands Held High Website Banner50

Sunday School

All Sundays – 1:30 pm

Praise & Worship

All Sundays – 2:30 pm

Service Times

All Sundays – 3:00 pm

First Sunday               Holy Communion Service   (English)

Second Sunday          Holy Communion Service   (Malayalam)

Third Sunday              Holy Communion Service   (English)

Fourth Sunday            Holy Communion Service   (English)

Fifth Sunday               Divine & Witnessing Service   (English)
(when applicable)

 

Lectionary

Bible Lesson Readers & Deacons

News, Events & Monthly Meetings

newsandevents

Monthly Meetings

Parish (Edavaka) Mission

Committee Meeting
January 21  – 8:30pm
Committee meeting will be held after the Tuesday evening Parish Mission meeting.
Meeting is held at the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Mathew Koshy, Cerritos

Monthly Fasting and Prayer Meeting and Annual Meeting for 2013
Friday, January 31 @ 7:30pm
Held at the residence of Juby and Riya Mathew, Signal Hill
The annual meeting of year 2013 will also be conducted during this time. Report and accounts for Parish mission will be presented.

Tuesday Evening Meeting @ 7:00pm

1/7:    Mr. & Mrs. Isaac George
1/14:   Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Mammen
1/21:   Mr. & Mrs. Mathew Koshy 
1/28:   Mr. & Mrs. Saji Baby

 

Youth Fellowship

Bible Study
Friday, January 10, 6:45 pm

At the residence of Aidan Arasasingham

 

Sevika Sangham (Women’s Ministry)

Annual Meeting (for 2013)  
Saturday, January 18   –  10am
Held at the residence of Mrs. Thankamma Mammen.

Western Regional One Day Conference
Saturday, March 15   – 8am to 4pm
Hosted by Horeb MTC.

 

Young Family Fellowship

Saturday, January 25, 4:00 pm
At the residence of Anna & Philip Jacob
Yorba Linda