Thoughts from the Leadership
Advent started back in the fourth century and is still observed by several kinds of churches. Advent’s observance in Protestant and Evangelical denominations and other frontier religious movements (like the Restoration Movement) was abandoned because those groups looked skeptically at anything associated with the Catholic Church. Sometimes we “throw out the baby” because we don’t like the “bathwater.”
One of the values I see in Advent is that it keeps us focused on Jesus and being God’s people rather than the commercialism rampant in our culture during this time of year. And let’s face it: hearing Christmas songs before Halloween kind of makes Thanksgiving irrelevant except as a pause before Black Friday sales, Christmas plays, programs and parties, and the constant feeling of guilt for not buying numerous trinkets for various parties or sending a host of people Christmas cards that you haven’t seen or talked to in years.
Don’t get me wrong—I like the Christmas season and many people’s attempts to be nicer, kinder and gentler with each other, the excitement building in my daughter and granddaughters as they wonder what’s in the packages under the tree, and Christmas shows on television I watched as a kid. But even in the things I enjoy about the season, I think Jesus gets second (or worse) billing to Santa, Frosty, Rudolph and the gang. I may like Christmas but I need Advent.
Advent is vitally important to faith as it reminds us that the constant warfare, political bickering, political correct-ness arguments, disease and sicknesses, homelessness, fam-ily-lessness and the grief of people who have lost loved ones will eventually be replaced by a whole new thing brought about by our King and Brother Jesus at his second and final arrival. The Advent Celebration reminds us of the first time Jesus was here so we can remember what it will be like when he returns the last and final time.
Things will be a little different during our assemblies during this time. And remember Hebrews 10.25—the reason we continue meeting together is to encourage one an-other—and even more so as we see the Day approaching.
Nov. 26th, 2017
Peggy’s recent health “adventure” caused me to begin updating our wills so Delilah is cared for in the case of our deaths. I was also reading about how relatively few people have wills so I encourage you to get it done!
While I was doing so, I came across another article about strange inheritances people have received. The most interesting of the stories was about New York real estate mogul Maurice Laboz who left his two daughters $10 million each when he died in 2015.
Laboz was concerned with more than just his daughters’ financial futures. In the will he stipulated that the money was to be held in trust until they reached age 35, but they each also must attend an accredited university and write an essay about the inheritance; marry well-positioned men who legally swear not to touch the inheritance money; stay gainfully employed; and not have any children out of wedlock. Additionally, if the daughters are holding down decent jobs by 2020, they would receive a yearly payout equal to three times their yearly income.
Any money they receive from their father’s estate is a gift. I couldn’t find out if the girls are maintaining the will’s requirements, but I do wonder if they will experience a greater quality of life living according to their father’s stipulations.
It just so happened that in my Bible reading that same morning I was in 1 Peter 1, where Peter is talking about the inheritance God is preserving in heaven for us. In light of what I had been reading, it seemed to me that Peter was talking about a trust in which our salva-tion was being held. The expiration of the trust occurs when Jesus returns (vs. 7).
The reason our inheritance is held in trust is so that in the mean-time we might have our faith refined, a faith at least partially built on the living hope we receive in our new births (3). Our love for Jesus (8) and the joy we have because of the salvation stored in heaven for us (5, 6, 8) that help us endure the refining. If I understand Peter correctly, part of our ‘waiting time’ is meant to develop us as people of faith (in God). In other words, our faith, hope, love for Jesus and joy have some purifying to do before we receive our inheritance.
The parallels just struck me funny: our Father, more concerned about our futures than just how wealthy we are, requiring us to wait for our inheritances, expects us to develop our faith, hope, love for Jesus and joy associated with that faith. You are an “inheritanced” person. Do you live in the now with your future inheritance in mind?
Nov. 19th, 2017
Thoughts On Forgiveness
Our merciful God will forgive us as we repent and confess our sins. Is that enough? Jesus taught us, that “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift here in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matt 5:23-24)
Peter instructs us to “keep a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Pet 3:16).
If I have a guilty conscience:
• I will be afraid to witness because I know I have no credibility.
• I can’t make good decisions because my unresolved guilt will not allow me to think objectively.
• I won’t be able to overcome new temptations because I will slip into the same wrong conduct again.
Sadly, we are experts at making excuses ... I won’t ask forgiveness because –
• “He or she moved.” We can ask God to help us find them.
• “It was insignificant” or “That was years ago.” Yet we still remember what we did.
• “Our relationship has improved.” It seems now is the right time to ask forgiveness.
• “They will not understand.” They will know that we are humble Christ-followers.
• “I can’t pay the debt I would have owed.” Better an honest Christian debt than a guilty conscience.
• “No one is perfect.” We should not ignore unconfessed sins against others.
• “I’ll only repeat the offense.” If we humbly confess misconduct, we won’t easily repeat the offense.
• “It was their fault too.” We must ignore their guilt and confess our misconduct.
• “My confession includes others.” We confess without implicating others.
How can I obtain a clear conscience?
1. List the unconfessed offenses, from worst to least.
2. Ask forgiveness only of the offended ones.
3. Seek the best place and time to ask forgiveness. Face to face is best.
4. Humbly take full responsibility.
5. Prepare the confession word for word in advance.
Wrong ways to ask forgiveness:
• I was wrong, but so were you.
• I’m very sorry and I feel badly.
Better way to ask forgiveness:
• I was wrong for __________. Will you please forgive me? We confess our sins to God and to the ones we have offended. The Lord wants each of us to have a clear conscience.
Nov. 12th, 2017