Seminary offers online daily Advent devotional

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Free smartphone app broadens reach of annual project

By Connie Faber

Looking for a unique Advent devotional guide? Consider using the 2013 Advent devotionals written by Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and Fresno Pacific University faculty. The daily devotionals begin Saturday, Nov. 30, and continue through Jan. 6.

The devotional is available on the university website and there is also a free smartphone app. It was also mailed in printed form to many seminary and university donors and supporting church pastors.

Since the seminary Advent devotionals were first offered in 2008, they have accomplished some important things for both the seminary and its constituency, says Mark Isaac, execitove director for university advancement.

While seminary donors were initially the intended audience, the readership has expanded.

“This is a tool for sharing the hope of our faith in Jesus and the expectancy of his return,” says Isaac.

“It has focused our attention on Jesus, inspired people who wouldn’t otherwise benefit as students from the insights of excellent faculty and served as a witness to the world for many who discover it through the smartphone application market,” says Isaac.

The free smartphone app, developed by David Janzen, a Tabor College alumnus and professor of computer science at Cal Poly, is available on Google’s play store market. Janzen, who is Isaac’s brother-in-law, liked the devotional and volunteered to make an Android app. Janzen, who has created the app annually since 2009, uses the app in the classroom to help students learn how to create such applications.

“Someone noted on the Android app market that they had been searching for such a devotional and were so pleasantly surprised to find just what they were looking for through their smartphone,” says Isaac.

The devotionals focus on the coming of Jesus Christ into this world. “From his first prophesied coming as a baby to his second coming, we celebrate the in-breaking of Jesus into this world and into our lives,” says Isaac. “This year’s Bible passages are taken largely from the Gospel of Luke and from the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.”

Faculty, staff, administrators and students of the seminary and university are invited to contribute devotionals. At times seminary alumni have written as well.

“There is never a shortage of willing writers,” says Isaac. “No one person typically writes more than one devotional for the entire season of devotionals, which now cover the season from a couple of days before Advent through Christmas to Epiphany, January 6.”

Over the years, Advent devotional readers have expressed their appreciation for the resource. “Though we have received mailed and emailed notes of thanks, we have heard many more personal words of appreciation in conversations during and after the Christmas season,” says Isaac. “Several churches in the U.S. and Canada have told us their people really look forward to the devotionals and are glad we are serving the churches in this way.”

Isaac has heard from pastors who used the devotionals to illustrate their sermons. Families say they read the devotionals at the breakfast table, and alumni report sharing it with colleagues at work.

The devotional can be printed from the website in either a single-sided copy or as a booklet to be reproduced. The USMB conference website will again carry a link. Those without computer access may call the FPU advancement office (559) 453-7139 and request a single copy. There is no cost.

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