A Year in Review - 2019
The passing of time continues to amaze me with every passing day, month, and year. I can clearly remember as a kid how long it seemed between birthdays, holidays, etc., but now it seems every time I turn around another year has passed. The prophet James wrote – “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (4:14). This verse continues to grow in meaning and impact in my life with each passing year. Every morning I wake, I am reminded of this simple fact with the growth of my three sons, and the aches and pains of my older knees. My daily prayer is simply to give God my very best, and to ask for His forgiveness of those moments when I fail. I am thankful for His grace, His mercy, and His Word that gives me hope of eternity with Him in heaven.
As we begin to look back on the previous year, one singular characteristic of 2019 speaks louder than any other for the entire year. Our elders presented the congregation with an opportunity/challenge at the close of 2018 – “In 2019, we are going to read through the Bible in chronological order and use the daily Bible readings for our studies on Sunday morning and Wednesday night.” This was a tremendous challenge, but with an overwhelmingly positive response, I believe it has strengthened our entire congregation. We had multiple men, some for the first time, who stood before us and taught the Bible studies from the previous readings throughout the year. These men were able to guide our discussions and studies to a deeper appreciation and love of God’s Word. This reading schedule was never going to be the easiest to maintain, but without apprehension the congregation fulfilled the task. I am thankful for our elders who challenged us to read through our Bibles in 2019. May we never stop thirsting for the Word of God!
To our elders – Beyond the challenge of reading our Bibles in 2019, these men continued to lead and guide the flock of River Bend toward heaven. These men continually manifest a strong desire to be found standing upon the ONE faith and doctrine of the New Testament. This is the foundation of every Bible study, gospel meeting, gospel singing, and lesson presented from whomever is speaking. These men test every word spoken by the ONE faith. They are attuned to the needs of their flock and seek a variety of avenues to achieve the goal of uniting the congregation and displaying opportunities for our edification and strengthening. As the apostle Paul wrote –
12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
May God bless our elders and their continued work in His kingdom and flock at River Bend!
To our deacons – The tasks given to those who minister to the needs of this flock are not small or insignificant, but absolutely necessary for the continued work at River Bend. We are blessed to have four men who have dedicated many hours to the service of the saints in our congregation. These men ensure that our brothers/sisters who are in need of physical necessities are taken care of with a ride to the doctor or food throughout a difficult trial. These men spend countless hours maintaining our building (outside/inside), our website, our classrooms, and every other little thing that may be overlooked and neglected. When we arrive on a Sunday morning or Wednesday evening, our building is functioning properly so that we can give our very best in service to God. May God bless our deacons and their continued work in His kingdom and the congregation at River Bend!
We are blessed at River Bend! Our love for one another is overwhelming and our devotion to the cause of Christ is compelling. I am always motivated to do better because of the faithful examples given to me from my brothers/sisters at River Bend. I see the hurt in the eyes of those who have lost so much, yet still attend every study and worship service. I see the joy of those who are still in the first years of their lives as Christians, and that fire that burns deep within their hearts. We are blessed to have Christians who have run a long and hard race without quitting, and those who are just beginning. May God bless our efforts to maintain the strength and perseverance necessary to finish the race set before us.
What makes River Bend a special place? What makes this congregation so much different from others that we may have attended in the past? While there may be a variety of answers, it can be summarized in one simple word – LOVE. We LOVE our God and Father. This love has been learned from the study of His Word and how He first loved us. We LOVE our Savior Jesus Christ. He gave everything for us, and commands that we must give everything in service to Him. We LOVE one another. When I need encouragement, you are there to build up and strengthen. When I need a reminder concerning faithfulness, you are there with a spirit of gentleness tenderly guiding me back into the fold. My daily prayer for River Bend comes from a recent daily Bible reading – “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). May God bless River Bend with the heart and mind to work in His vineyard and prosper as our souls prosper together!