I’m glad I didn’t live in the Middle Ages. (Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.) One of the reasons is that, in an age before surnames, you could wind up being identified by such things as your occupation—Robert the Carpenter, Bonnie the Cook, Justin the Carver—which goes south if you switch jobs, or by some observable characteristic, some of which you might prefer folks not mention every time you turn around—Charles the Bald, Louis the Stammerer, Pepin the Short, Berthe au grand pied (translation: Big-Foot Bertha).
Now it might be okay if you were identified by a trait people respected or that wasn’t a negative. If you were Louis the Pious (Charles the Bald’s father) or Charles the Straightforward (son of Louis the Stammerer) or Charles the Great (Charlemagne), you had it made. You had something to live up to rather than live down.
What would your medieval name be if we still did named folks that way? Hopefully, it would be something you would feel comfortable with and not something serving as a constant disappointment or embarrassment.
Of course, in the Bible, most people did not have surnames, so we’re left with single name references, which works most of the time—Noah, Moses, Samson, David, Isaiah, Peter, Paul. Occasionally, though, we get some tack-on descriptors that give us some insight into the type of person some of our Biblical figures were. Jesus’ Twelve included James and John who are identified at least once as “Sons of Thunder.” (Mark 3:17) So that makes them James the Thunderer and John the Thunderer. Maybe that’s a compliment, maybe not. It certainly isn’t a compliment when we use the name today of “Doubting Thomas.” (A bum rap, I think.)
If I was to be known by my most obvious trait as a servant of Jesus, one of the best would be as an encourager. (I should only hope.) We have one of those in the book of Acts—Barnabas. He’s known as the Son of Encouragement. (In fact, his actual name was Joseph (Acts 4), but he was called “Barnabas,” which translates as “son of encouragement.” Not only was he known for encouraging his fellow Christians, that trait became his name, his spiritual nickname.
Last Sunday, I did the table talk for the communion service. You either remember that or you don’t. But I hit a note with at least one person, and he sent me an email this week saying so: “I wanted you to know how much I appreciated the thoughts you shared yesterday at the Lord's table. It was the encouragement and reminder and reassurance I needed and I was
grateful for it. Thanks for letting God use your words for His people.”
Now that’s the kind of email that will propel one a little further down the road. I was touched. Someone went out of his way to engage in a “barnabas” moment. He gave me an encouragement that I was not expecting, but one that meant so much.
Some ministries are hard and complicated and demanding. Being an encourager isn’t one of them. You say a few words to someone after Sunday morning services—thanks for that sermon; I appreciated your prayer; thanks for preparing communion; I’m so glad you’re here. You drop an email or a text. Maybe you put a little more into it, like the East Hill Encouragers, whose ministry is recycling greeting cards with fresh sentiments from the heart; paper hugs, if you will.
We’re all experiencing a difficult time right now and have been for months. We’re separated from one another which makes it more difficult to touch base and keep tabs. Still, each of us can be known as our own version of Barnabas—Joseph the Encourager—and express simple sentiments of love and support to our brothers and sisters.
I saw that brother who sent me the word of encouragement later this past week and told him how much I appreciated his words of kindness. He encouraged me, and I encouraged him back. That’s how we should look at it. Encouraging can be something we pay forward, backward, downward, and, most importantly, upward.
When I saw the date for this article I knew immediately what I would write about. What else could it be, since baseball’s Spring Training opens this week? Just kidding.
There is, however, a remote baseball connection to my subject. A year or two ago I was organizing some thoughts on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), those qualities God wants to see growing in his children. It occurred to me that there are nine. And love leads off.
Love is an important theme in the Bible. Maybe the most important theme. What is the best known verse in the Bible? John 3:16 -- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son ....”. Which is the best known chapter in the Bible? Quite probably it’s the ‘love chapter’, 1 Corinthians 13. And the greatest commandment? Of course that is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
February 14 is a day we are encouraged to think about those special people in our lives, and do something to show how much we care. It’s a day you may remember a first date or a first kiss. Men, you might be thinking back on the day you proposed, and she said, ‘Yes’. Ladies, you might be picturing the two of you when he said ‘I do’. Parents, do you remember holding your newborn daughter or son (or grandchild) for the first time? Focus on those powerful feelings. I believe that’s how deeply God loves us.
The first mention of love in the Bible (in most translations) is Genesis 22:2. God tells Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, … and sacrifice him …”. This son of his beloved wife, Sarah. This child of the promise. This boy whom he too had held as a newborn. We know the story. Abraham passed the test of faith and God did not require that Isaac be sacrificed. But it was a fitting introduction to the love theme of the Bible.
Because we also know the rest of the story. A day would come when God would sacrifice his own son, his only son, Jesus, whom he loved. For the world, which he loves. For you and me, whom he loves.
On a day to remember special relationships, remember your relationship with God, and remember his gift that shows how much he cares.
My native language is obviously English. The first words I heard as an infant and the sounds that shaped my mind were all in English. I’d like to say that I read, write, and comprehend English with a high degree of proficiency, though, there’s always room for improvement. Since my formative years, I’ve also studied other languages: Spanish, Greek, and Portuguese. In fact, at one time I was fluent enough in Portuguese that I lived and worked on my own in Brazil. But after 20 years of non-use, I’ve lost most of my ability to speak Portuguese. Regardless of what tongue we speak, language shapes us, and it shapes our relationships.
Love is like a language. It is something that is communicated and received. It has numerous dialects and forms of expression. How we communicate love even forms and strengthens our relationships. Every couple remembers how easy it was to communicate their love for their mate in the beginning. With little effort you expressed your love and affection in just the right way to make the other feel loved. You contemplated the many ways you could show your love. You anticipated every moment you could spend together to experience your love for each other. And your mate reflected the same love back to you in their own multi-faceted ways. One could say you were fluent in the language of love.
But then with time you began to take loving for granted. You might have thought, “She already knows how much I love her” or, “I could never not love him.” You become preoccupied and burdened with life, and little by little you stop speaking the language of love to each other. You stop seeking ways to daily make your spouse feel loved. You allow distance and silence to grow between you. You become preoccupied with work, with children, with anything else to replace the longing for love that is within you. Selfishness, pride, and ultimately bitterness take hold, until the language of love is finally forgotten.
If you want your marriage to last and to thrive, you need to express your love daily no matter what and you must become fluent in the languages of love. Gary Chapman says, “I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile.” Loving another person is not a one and done checklist; it’s a daily practice as vital as breathing is to your own body. You’ll notice I said, “language(s) of love.” There are several modes, or languages, of loving. Chapman defines five languages. They are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. You see, love is not mono-chromatic.
We are each familiar with these languages of love. To some degree they are intuitive. But just one or two of these languages are your “native” language. One person’s primary love language might be Acts of Service, so he thinks to himself, “I’m going to show my wife how much I love her and I’m going to wash the dishes every night without being asked.” Meanwhile, her primary love language might be Quality Time, and she’s thinking, “I wish he would stop cleaning the kitchen and just cuddle up with me on the couch and talk. In this relationship, she could care less that the dishes were being washed; that’s not her primary love language. And he might not prefer just “sitting” and “talking.” What is this couple to do?
The secret to having a love that lasts is two-fold. You need to intentionally practice loving in all the love languages, and you need to give special priority to communicating in your spouse’s primary love language. In this way you also learn to speak the ultimate love language, the love of Christ. The Apostle Paul says, “Each of you should look not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of (the) other. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ.” (Philippians 2:4-5) Christ lived, died, and now reigns by the power of love. Consider what Christ has done in the name of love, and then consider what you can do in your own marriage by the same love.
We want to give East Hill couples the opportunity to practice speaking the different languages of love now during the month of February. Please see the Love Language Fluency Challenge on the inside page of today’s bulletin.
Your brother in the Faith,
As Glenn H. has been preaching through Nehemiah and we are visualizing the walls of Jerusalem being rebuilt we are also asking ourselves, “What needs rebuilt in our lives?”
My thoughts go to the spiritual battle that we are in. We need spiritual walls of protection around us and we need armored guards constantly keeping watch on our wall.
I think back to King David, a man after God’s own heart. He had won all kinds of military battles, but he lost a major spiritual battle because at one point in his life his spiritual walls needed rebuilt and he needed watchmen patrolling his wall. In this episode of David’s life he committed adultery and murder. If that can happen to a person after God’s own heart, it can happen to any of us. Each of us must be vigilant!
A big part of my spiritual walls of protection are you, God’s people here at East Hill church. We are praying for each other, encouraging each other in song, learning from God’s Word together, sharing how God is at work in our lives, being real with each other about our struggles and celebrating our victories. I count on you to help protect me. You count on me to help protect you.
Stationed on top of that wall I have a few men in my life that are being extra watchful for me and I am being extra watchful for them. I meet with them weekly so that we can sharpen each other and hold each other up in prayer. These men have become very close to me. These are the guys I call on about anything anytime and know they will fight alongside me spiritually. We protect and fight for each other.
This year’s theme verse chosen at the Elder’s retreat emphasizes this “we” that is being built by God.
And in him [Christ Jesus] you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).
The “you” in this verse is plural...you, God’s people, are being built together.
We need each other. This is God’s plan. We are being built together.
So, I ask: How are your spiritual walls? Do they need some rebuilding? Now is the time.
Is East Hill church a big part of your spiritual walls of protection? If not, then it is time for you to link arm in arm with us. Make the most of your opportunities with God’s people here. Even with masks, we can look into each other’s eyes, ask how we are really doing, listen and care intently. Then we follow up with prayer for each other and a phone call or text. As we interconnect in these ways and others God builds us together.
Last, I ask who do you have stationed on top of your wall that you are calling on to fight alongside you? I urge you to do as I did and ask a few people to get together with you regularly to share in each other’s spiritual journey, to be honest with each other about areas of your life that are susceptible to the enemy’s attack. And pray with each other.
As we are being built together in these ways, God’s Spirit will be among us.
These are trying times. The past year may go down in history as one of the most difficult, and the challenges are not over. We all surely wonder what is going to happen as this year unfolds. How many more will die in this pandemic? What will societal changes mean for Christian witness and ministry? … What concerns do you have? -- Let me share one more. I am concerned about the spiritual health of those who are trying to follow Jesus. In reality, Christians are the ones who are on trial now. Echoing in our minds should be the assurance of Jesus, “I have overcome the world.” In such times we are asked to believe that, and to allow that faith to translate into action. Allow me to focus on one powerful action that we can all do, prayer. How is your prayer life? Before reading further review what the following verses say about the importance of prayer: Matt. 7.7-11; Lk. 11.1-13; 18.1-8; 1 Thess. 5.16-19; Col. 4.2-4; Jms. 5.16-18; Rev. 8.3-5. … Are you concerned about the problems? Do something! The prayers of faithful people are the most powerful force in our world!
The idea of praying to an infinite being is really awe-inspiring. Stop and think about it. The God who simply commands and the whole material realm comes into existence now invites us to approach Him in prayer. Such a being is beyond comprehension. Just the thought of such a being raises questions that mere mortals cannot answer. Does He dwell outside of time? Does He really know the answers even before we ask?
The real wonder is that this being of enormous size and power is concerned about me, a mere speck on a speck. In the expanse of eternity our lives are so short. How could an infinite, eternal God even notice us? And yet, He does! It is obvious that a being like God does not need us as we need other people. As Jesus says, when we pray we cannot tell Him anything that He does not already know.
So, the next question is, What is the real purpose of prayer? It sounds like a complicated question. Why the eternal God would want to hear from His children might well be beyond our comprehension. Yet, since Jesus in His teaching consistently calls God our “Father,” we have an important insight that may help us to understand. On a much smaller scale parents love to look into the faces of their children and communicate with them. Parents will almost always know more about their children’s needs than they will. When a parent reaches down and smiles or coos or makes noises near the face of an infant it is not information she is seeking. What parents are seeking with their tiny children is a relationship. In a much greater sense God is reaching down to us in His Son. He loves it when we reach up to Him with our words, groans, joys and cries. He wants to know us and for us to know Him. He wants a relationship with us. Why? This one is not that complicated. He loves us! He also loves the troubled world in which we live.
Now, turn off the news, and find a quiet place. Let your Father know what is on your mind.
At the end of this week, the elders and ministry staff will be meeting together along with our spouses for our annual retreat. Even though this go-around will look a bit different than other years, thanks to the pandemic, we are looking forward to being together, recharging our spiritual batteries, and initiating some plans for 2021.
For Mike Case, Matt Coppinger, and Eric Tremaine this will be their first retreat of many, Lord willing, to attend and may involve somewhat of a learning curve. But they’ll soon find as we all have that we’re defined somewhat by our collective experiences and dreams for the church. That when we come together, there’s a deeper and richer understanding of how Jesus is as relevent and vital today as he was in first century Galilee. We’re made stronger with each strand of cord, and our aim is to glorify the Lord with the strength and wisdom He gives us.
We covet your prayers this week, and if you are willing, be in prayer for:
1. Our health—specifically that the virus will not show up…
2. Our prayers—that we will be transparent with each other and with God…
3. Our vision—that God’s desires and direction for us as the body of Christ will become ours…
4. The Spirit’s work—seeking boldness in our decisions and trusting His leading.
The elders would like to thank each one who filled out the survey for providing feedback into how we did in 2020 as well as your insights as to how we might improve as a body of believers. We appreciate your willingness to be a part of our retreat in this very important way.
Finally, we anticipate spirit-led discussion on our theme verse for 2021 but wanted to remind you one last time of our verse for this past year.
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5
~East Hill Elders
Growing up, every Sunday and Wednesday you would find my family loading up the car and heading to the building to meet with the church. Faith in God was taught and patterned for my siblings and I as we grew. I grew to love God and was convicted of my sinfulness. I chose to be baptized into His body at the age of twelve. Becoming a Christian called me to a new way of thinking and acting, and along my faith journey it has often seemed pretty easy to be who I say I am. Then the troubles come and give a little test. One of those times happened to me last Saturday during our trip to Omaha.
We had gathered at a little church to celebrate Christmas with the Sobetski (Jenny’s family) clan. After we had a good lunch and spent time exchanging gifts, we all loaded into our vehicles with excitement to go and see Great Grandma Rita for a window visit. When I started our van it shuddered and roared. We all looked at each other wondering at the shaking and noise. It sounded like a massive race car preparing to be the first off the line. What had happened? Was there a hole in the muffler? Had the exhaust pipe rusted through?
Leaving the car running I got out to take a look under the van. Later, Jenny and Julie told me that when I came back to report I had my angry face on. The church video surveillance confirmed that while we had been joyfully opening presents inside, a masked man had cut off and stolen the catalytic converter from our van!
As I spent the remainder of the day processing what had occurred, I wrestled with how to respond and I believe the Spirit kept bringing me back to Luke 6:27-31:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are abusive to you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.”
Pray for those who abuse you? Whoever takes what is yours, do not demand it back? But he
stole my catalytic converter! I really did not want to pray for this man, and besides that, what was I supposed to pray? The Spirit seemed to gently nudge me with Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
The problem with the man who stole from me was that he needed Jesus in his life. That’s what I needed to pray for. So that evening as we prayed before putting our little guys to bed, we prayed a prayer of forgiveness and a prayer that God would intercede in the man’s life and help him find Jesus.
As we enter this new year, I want to encourage us as God’s people to be who we say we are and to live out our daily lives being who God has called us to be.
A few months ago, my youngest told me about a TV series he was watching and thought I would like. I had seen “The Chosen” advertised but had my doubts as to its biblical accuracy as most Hollywood attempts fall disappointingly short when it comes to lining up with scripture. He played the first episode for us during a family vacation last spring. I really liked what I saw but didn't realize how simple it was to view the rest of the season. I'm one of those who struggles with words like apps and live-streaming.
A few days ago, Devin got me over those hurdles and watched with me episode #2 and #3. Just like the fishermen Jesus called, I was hooked and had to pace myself to watch only one episode each day. After finishing the first season, I can say I'm no longer a skeptic but a true fan of the series as it has helped me to see Jesus and his followers in a new and exciting light.
Without giving anything away, at one point in the story, Jesus was questioned for the way he was going about choosing his disciples and in particular, the calling of one specific disciple. His reply — “Get used to different.”
Get used to different... sounds like anything and everything in 2020 doesn't it? Births, funerals, weddings, vacations, work, play, eating out, school, church... everything seems to now be viewed through a different lens. But what if the same could be said of how I will live out my faith in 2021? What if this is the year it is different (in a good way) for shining your light? What if MMXXI is when the body of Christ at East Hill takes steps to be proclaimers of virus free good news?!
At the beginning of each episode of “The Chosen,” a bunch of gray fish graphics swim across the screen several times before a lone blue fish is seen going in the opposite direction. After a few seconds one of the dull gray fish transforms to bright blue, turns around and keeps pace with the lead fish. Then another, and another, and another until at the end of the opening credits there are 12 additional blue fish swimming against the flow and in sync with their master.
We face the same two choices today... either remain in step with the world - oblivious to the work and the calling of the Spirit, OR pay attention to what the master is doing and follow him.
God is ready to do a different work in us in 2021. It will most likely involve swimming against the current and quite possibly in a direction we have never been before in our faith or as a church. Maybe we need to hear the words of Jesus again, “Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”*
One of my favorite songs this time of year is “O Holy Night.” It is one of the few Christmas songs that can move me to tears. To me, it embodies so much of what is right about Christmas. But the story of how it came to be might surprise you.
Late in 1843, the Catholic parish of Roquemaure, France, was renovating its church organ. The parish priest sought out a local poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a Christmas poem to use at the dedication. The priest not only wanted a good poem, he hoped that in writing it, Cappeau would return to the church; he had left it years before and declared himself an atheist.
When Cappeau completed the poem, he asked Adolphe Adam, a renowned composer, to set it to music. Adam himself had no connection to the church, and was said to have been Jewish. But Adam was well known for his operas and ballets, and gave the new poem its classical note.
On Christmas Eve that year, “Cantique Noel” (“Christmas Song”) was sung in Roquemaure, and within a few years was sweeping France. The church leadership, however, declared it unfit for church services, probably because of those who wrote it.
By 1855, “Cantique Noel” had made its way to the United States where a Unitarian minister, John Sullivan Dwight, translated it into the now familiar verses we hear every year. Dwight, an abolitionist, was particularly intrigued by the third stanza. A literal translation reads:
The Redeemer has broken every bond,
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where once there was only a slave,
Love unites those whom iron had chained.
The original idea was that all of us had been slaves of sin and death, but Jesus had redeemed us and set us free; now we are his brothers and sisters.
In Dwight’s translation, the third verse reads:
Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Dwight had taken the idea of our spiritual freedom and recast it as a call for freedom for slaves and all who are oppressed. Remember, this was just a few years before the Civil War began and slavery was the most burning question on the minds of Americans.
We cannot know the degree to which “O Holy Night” contributed to the anti-slavery sentiment in the days leading up to the Civil War. But I do find it amazing that God used such a diverse set of people, including two who had no Christian sentiments at all, to provide us such a moving song of faith.
The Bible is filled with examples of those who, willingly or not, took part in the grand plans of God. Even atheists can play a part.
If God can do such things with those who don’t love him, imagine what he can do with us. How blessed we are to serve the King of Kings!
~ Glenn Hawley
In his 1933 inaugural address, President Franklin Roosevelt cautioned a nation facing unprecedented distress: “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Hasn’t 2020 been that kind of year? One big tossed salad of COVID, racial unrest, and a bitterly contested election, all dripping with society’s “salad dressing” of painful facts, compassion, misinformation, recrimination, and politicized hyperbole. Many have been left with the “heartburn” of grief, fear, and anxiety.
Fear can be a powerful tool, a legitimate motivator. The “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10), it can keep us from sin (Proverbs 16:6), and can even help you live longer (Proverbs 10:27; 14:27). How many of us were initially prompted to become a Christian partly out of fear of going to hell? Sadly, as FDR noted, fear has a way of making us put aside good sense, embrace doubt and timidity, and accept stagnation rather than growth and progress. In one form or another the Bible over 300 times implores us: Do not fear. So what does that look like in the life of a Christian? Should we fear? What should we do with our fear and anxiety in the unrelenting, incorrigible year 2020?
Perspective In volatile 2020-esque times we can become driven by fear. What started off as a deadly virus, precipitated not only health fears, offending others fears, leadership fears, economic fears, and more as needed to keep you anxious. Not giving way to fear does not mean we aren’t concerned, just that we preserve (and perhaps grow in) our ability to approach challenges through the eyes of faith, a biblical basis, and “common” sense. Though written with a different setting in mind, much of Jesus’ warning in the Olivet Discourse resonates today:
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” — Matthew 24:10-13
A disciple’s response is rooted in God’s Word and his promises, not abandoning our faith, allowing our love to become cold and calloused, but more than ever to exercise and display His work in us as our anchor. We are facing many legitimate concerns, some serious. But, truth be told, even in 2020, much of what we lament and allow to well-up into anxiety are first world problems. Most of the world would be delighted to endure the COVID crisis under our conditions.
Surrender Anxieties This speaks to the heart of the beast, and fuels much of our response in difficult times.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
The word translated “anxious” in verse six is the Greek word “merimnate”. It can be understood to mean anxious, concerned or worried, but it can also mean drawn in opposite directions, divided into parts, pulled apart, going to pieces, to be divided or to be distracted. Isn’t that how worry works? Worry divides our mind, distracts us, draws us in opposite directions, pulls us apart, makes us lose our focus. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that through prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, God will give us peace, His peace. His peace is the Greek word “eirene” which is just the opposite of worry. Eirene means quietness, rest, tranquility, or more literally “to join together into a whole”. To be made whole, by God. Sometimes that peace is beyond comprehension. It makes no sense that someone could have peace (insert the word focus, tranquility or “keeping it together”) in the midst of total chaos, when things are falling apart (remember what merimnate means?). But God promises us peace if we will ask. If that were not enough, He promises us that this incomprehensible peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The word for guard, “phroureo”, literally means a sentinel, to keep watch, a military guard. God promises to send his heavenly Marines to guard our hearts and minds, to protect our peace. That’s some powerful stuff.
Healthy Fear Tied to perspective is choosing to have the proper object of our fear. The 2020 wildfire encompasses many legitimate concerns, the accelerants of which are complex and numerous. If a Christian’s hope and security rest in things of this life, then circumstances of this life can strip them away, leaving us vulnerable to the prevailing cultural winds rather than on the rock of God’s Word. It probably offered little consolation when Jesus, in effect, told his apostles “don’t worry about the guy who can only kill you, but fear the one who can both kill you and send you to hell.” (Matthew 10:28) He told them to guard their soul, to stay attentive to threats to their spiritual lives, their values and convictions.
Diseases, unrests, and political tensions have come and gone, some much worse than today by historical standards. The pain and angst they bring are real. Do we mean it when we sing the words of “Jesus is Coming Soon”?
“Troublesome times are here, filling men's hearts with fear
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake
Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod
Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake”
Through His promises we participate in God’s very nature (2 Peter 1:4), and Jesus himself gave us one promise that we’d do well to embrace in 2020 and beyond:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
— John 16:33
We are promised trouble in this world, may our perspective remain fixed on the One who has overcome.
— Written by members of Mark & Rose Miller’s Small Group, namely, Tom & Kimberlee, Candy, Hal, and Sam