A Year in Review (2018)

Another year of my work with the congregation at River Bend has come to its conclusion. At the conclusion of each year, I try to review where I have grown as a Christian, husband, father, and preacher, and the areas where I need improvement. The apostle Paul wrote – “12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). There is always room to grow and I need the reminder to “press on.” The congregation at River Bend has become my family. This relationship has been built on the foundation of our like-minded faith and desire to please our God. I have received numerous blessings both physically and spiritually from this congregation and I am humbled by your kindness and generosity. Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, encouraging words, helpful hints, and most importantly your love. Thank you for loving me and my family. Frank Richey always said that River Bend was a special place – I agree wholeheartedly!

At the beginning of the New Year, our work and objective remains the same – to the praise of His glory! May God bless us in our pursuit of this goal! Every time we assemble may this be the focus of our praise and worship of Him – every song, lesson, prayer, Lord’s Supper observance, Bible study, gospel meeting, etc. May everything we do bring glory to His magnificent name!

We have experienced growth at River Bend in the past year, specifically in the number of elders who shepherd this flock. This past Summer we selected among ourselves two more men to be appointed as elders at River Bend. Our elders – Roger Balentine, Dorris Mann, Don Miller, and Jason Persell – are faithful Christian men who have dedicated their lives to the service of their King and Savior. We are extremely blessed to have multiple men who are qualified and willing to serve/lead us at River Bend. We have a responsibility toward our elders and that is to conduct our lives in a manner that would make their task as shepherds be filled with joy and not with grief. These men are to be esteemed very highly in love because of their work. Thank you for your dedication and faithfulness toward God and the congregation. May God continue to bless our elders, their wives, and families!

To our deacons – James Branham, Seth Miller, Brent Putman, and Mike Rhodes – Please know that your work both visible and unseen does not go without our thankfulness. It is your attention to detail that enables the work at River Bend to be an enjoyable, comfortable, and an edifying experience. The following are just a few reasons I am thankful for our deacons – men’s duty roosters, work lists (both men and women), Wednesday night invitation,  everyday supplies (i.e. paper, cups, water, toilet paper, paper towels), class materials, visitor cards, organization of new class schedules and teachers, reading schedules, building maintenance, air conditioning and heat, etc. Thank you for dedicating yourselves to the work at River Bend and for serving your fellow brothers and sisters with such diligence and faithfulness. May God bless our deacons and their families!

The strength of a congregation is not gauged by the number in attendance or the amount contributed on Sunday. It is measured by those who have knit themselves together for the purpose of growing in their faith and knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ. We are blessed at River Bend to be able to offer classes for all ages. To the teachers of our youngest children – thank you for your patience and willingness to help guide these tender hearts to a greater understanding of God and His love for mankind. The men who teach in the middle school class - thank you for molding the hearts of these young children as they begin the process of adapting biblical principles in their lives. Finally to all the other Bible class teachers, thank you for your devotion and time to the study of God’s Word and helping us to grow in grace and knowledge. The objective of Bible study is simple – to be better equipped for the battles we may face each day.

This past year we have experienced the joys of new births and growth, but also the pains of loss and sickness. We were blessed to witness the restoration of our brother Mack Mills and his faithfulness until death this past month. We rejoice in the great hope of heaven, but we sorrow in his earthly passing. Let us continue to remember our sister Dianne, and everyone who has lost family members and friends in the past year. This past year we have all become witnesses to the power of prayer in the recovery of our brother Bobby Hines. While Bobby continues to deal with health problems and needs our continued prayers, his recovery is a testament to God’s providential care and answering the prayers of the faithful – to God be the glory! May God continue to bless all who are on our sick-list and shut-in.

At the beginning of the New Year, we make resolutions to become healthier, leaner, smarter, and financially stronger, but may we add to these lists a spiritual goal for growth. Our growth spiritually may not be visible everyday, but it will be self-evident year after year. Let us take on the challenge of reading our Bible’s daily and becoming more active by participating in our Bible studies on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. May our lives be set in order to give honor and glory to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit! Our relationship with God must always receive preeminence in our lives, and then we need to take time to build, sustain, and grow in our relationships with one another. We need one another more than we can ever imagine! Let us not neglect the special bond that unites us as brothers and sisters in Christ. May God be honored by the work we accomplish together as His family at River Bend!