Harmony had a party last Sunday night! Hundreds of us packed into the auditorium at the Burlington campus for the Annual Members Meeting. There was a notable energy and joy in the air as members and attenders from all campuses gathered. We sang songs and heard updates from church leaders.
The Elders of Harmony Bible Church are unanimously recommending the following men for leadership within the church.
A vote will be taken Sunday, November 12 by the members of Harmony. We encourage you to get to know them personally prior to the vote.
The list below should adequately describe any man who is an Elder candidate. Of course perfection in any area is impossible, but this should be the general description of any Elder candidate. (Key Passages: 1 Peter 5:1-4, Titus 1:6-16, 1 Timothy 3:1-6)
1. Leader and shepherd of the flock
2. Able to teach the Word of God
3. Desires the office and responsibilities of Elder
4. Loves what is good, free of the love of money
5. Above reproach, blameless, respectable
6. Husband of one wife
Temperament & Behavior
7. Prudent, sensible, just
8. Gentle, self controlled, temperate
10. Not quick tempered or violent
11. Not contentious, belligerent or self-willed
12. Not a drunkard
13. Good manager of his household
14. Good reputation outside the church
15. Not a new convert
The list below should adequately describe any man who is a Deacon candidate. Of course perfection in any area is impossible, but this should be the general description of any Deacon candidate. (Key Passage: 1 Timothy 3:8-13)
2. Husband of one wife
3. Not double-tongued
4. Not addicted to wine
5. Not pursuing dishonest gain
6. Holding fast to the faith with a clear conscience
7. Tested over time as a faithful follower of Christ
8. Good manager of his household and family
If you are aware of any disqualifying characteristics, please speak personally with the nominee. If any matter remains unresolved, the nominee or church member should approach the Elder Board and request that the nominee’s name be withdrawn from consideration.
Dear Lord, we come to You today with our minds on work.
Your word tells us that when You put the first man, Adam, in the Garden of Eden, You gave him the mission of dressing the Garden and keeping it, and that before sin entered the world, that work must have been rewarding and joyful.
But that was then and this is now and for many of us, our work is just something we must do so we can put bread on the table. Not much joy and very little reward. We need You to change our focus from just the work itself to the mission You’ve give us that goes beyond the mundane.
We ask You to help those of us who are employees to remember that the job isn’t just about surviving the work week but about showing respect to our employers by working hard and being honest. Help us to see our fellow workers as more than a collection of random people we’re stuck in the same building with and be on the lookout for one who needs a kind word or a helping hand.
We lift up the supervisors and business owners to You, Lord, and ask that You would help them to see their employees not just as resources, but as people. Help them go to You daily for the wisdom and fairness they need to when almost every decision they make affects their employees.
We also think of those who are unemployed and those who are weighing the pros and cons of a change in job or of changing an entire career field. There are few things more un-nerving than the unknown and we pray that they will turn to You not just for some miraculous answer, but for the strength and encouragement they will gain from being with You.
When we’re tempted to think we’re the only ones who have struggled in the middle of our work, help us remember Joseph, who served his master Potiphar with incredible integrity before You, even when it resulted in what looked like personal disaster; and next, when he served those around him while he was unjustly imprisoned; and how when he was finally promoted to the position of second highest ruler in the land, chose not to use his position to get even with anyone who had slighted him, but recognized that Your hand had been on him the entire time to make him a blessing to others.
No matter what our employment circumstances, Lord, help us to be good stewards of what You have provided – whether it be time or money or position or material resources or talent – and help us to use these gifts in ways that show the true character of Christ to those around us.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Those simple words, once safe and sweet, now haunt me at times. I remember discovering (it seemed) two verses at age seventeen. I memorized them, working each phrase into my adolescent mind and heart. Now they have taken on a whole new meaning almost two decades later.
Sadly, I have seen it happen over and over: how neglecting real, consistent, committed Christian community goes hand in hand with a cooling heart for Christ.
It often begins with taking corporate worship lightly — with just a few absences here or there. It progresses to a proclivity to not show whenever the slightest excuse presents itself. Soon this reality we call “habit” is working against a healthy soul, rather than for it.
Rarely have I seen someone who is seemingly warm to Jesus walk away all at once. Usually it has included a slow distancing to the means of God’s grace called “fellowship.” But week in, week out, life-on-life, non-negotiable Christian community covers a thousand threats:
"Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24–25)
1. The time is now, not later.
When I “found” this passage years ago, I assumed it had a future intensifier at the end: “. . . and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” In other words, it’s as if Hebrews were saying, “When you see signs of the coming of Christ drawing near, then be all the more diligent in Christian fellowship.” But that is a misunderstanding.
This idea of “the Day approaching” is not future for us today, or even future for the original readers, but present. Every reader and every hearer of this text, then and now, have lived in a day when the Day was already approaching. The New Testament is clear about whether we are living in the last days, and the first two verses of Hebrews make that as plain as any.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. (Hebrews 1:1–2)
The “as” in Hebrews 10:25 (“all the more as you see the Day approaching”) is not the “as” of “as it happens some day in the future.” Rather, it is the “as” of “as you see it happening now.” We are living in the last days already. If we only had eyes to see, we would know that life is already as serious and urgent as it can get. Eternity is now at stake, and Hebrews wants us to be uncompromising in our diligence about life together as Christians. Don’t hold anything back for future days that feel more pressing. The time is now. You will never need the church more than you do today.
2. God calls us to “provoke” each other for good.
Perhaps you’ve heard someone observe how God filled the New Testament with “one another” commands. You simply cannot be a Christian, in New Testament terms, on your own. Life together is vital.
But what Hebrews 10:24–25 calls us to is not just life together, but encouraging or stirring each other up — literally, provoking each other — to love and good deeds.
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works . . . encouraging one another . . .
How does “provoking” (in the good sense) or inspiring each other to love and good deeds happen? Through knowing each other. There’s no “how” in the original Greek. To translate it literally,
Let us consider one another to the provoking of love and good works . . .
The object of “consider” is “one another.” In other words, know each other. Get close. Stay close. Go deep. And consider particular persons, as you interact with them, such that you exhort and inspire (provoke!) them to love and good deeds specifically fitting to their personality, temperament, and circumstances in life.
Here we taste how potent, and personal, is fellowship as a means of grace in the Christian life. As partners under God’s word, and in prayer, a brother who knows me as me, and not as another generic human, can speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) with specificity into my life, and give me a particular word “such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
To read Desiring God's full article visit here.
Most of us are familiar with the account of the RMS Titanic, the largest and most luxurious ship of its time. Setting sail on its maiden voyage from England, bound for New York, the Titanic was designed to pamper its first-class passengers in every way possible. But instead of a carefree cruise, the trip became a world-renowned tragedy.
On the evening of April 14, 2017, the Titanic’s crew began hearing warnings from ships ahead about the large amount of ice in the ocean, urging that approaching ships should exercise all caution. However, the captain of the “unsinkable Titanic” arrogantly chose to ignore the warnings and forged ahead at full speed. The Titanic struck an iceberg and immediately began to take on water. As the ship began to sink and break apart, passengers with no hope of getting on the life boats ended up in the frigid waters, clinging to whatever bits of flotsam and jetsam might hold them up till help came. Chairs, doors, wooden trunks – anything that would float might just save them.
You probably think you know the rest of the Titanic story, but what do you know about the Carpathia, the only ship that came to the Titanic’s rescue? The Carpathia was designed to be a workhorse of a ship, not a glamour queen like the Titanic, and was contracted for nothing more exciting than ferrying eastern European emigrants to the United States on the westbound trip and carrying older, less-than-wealthy tourists to Europe on the eastbound trip. That April night, upon hearing about the Titanic’s distress signal from the Carpathia’s wireless operator, Captain Arthur Rostrum took immediate action. All hot water and heat to the ship was cut off so as to funnel all the steam toward running the engines at top speed. The captain instructed some of the crew to ready the deck for rescue operations: lifeboats were set up to be deployed, slings were prepared to lift children to safety, a crane was readied to lift the lifeboats up to the deck. He sent another cadre of crew members to gather blankets and set up first aid stations with any doctors who could be found. The remainder of the crew began preparing hot soups, coffee and tea for the survivors. As the Carpathia drew closer to the scene, Captain Rostrum urged his crew to fortify themselves with these provisions against the cold job ahead. Lastly, the captain took on the responsibility of deliberately guiding his own ship into the ice-filled waters where the desperate and lost would be found. Thanks to the sacrifices of the captain and crew of the Carpathia, 705 souls survived this tragedy. That doubled the number of people on the Carpathia and many of the passengers who hours earlier had just been along for the ride suddenly became involved in the rescue, giving up their beds, their extra blankets, and their dry clothing to help bring comfort to the shocked and grief-stricken. After he was convinced they had rescued the last victim, the captain turned the ship around and headed straight back for New York in order to spare the Titanic’s survivors any further distress. Her arrival in New York marked the only time in her history that the Carpathia was greeted by huge crowds of family, journalists, dignitaries, and the simply curious. The other ships which had been closer to the Titanic than the Carpathia was but which had been unwilling to risk anything to help the dying now slunk into their ports only to be met with questions and inquiries regarding their callous behavior.
In a similar vein, most of us are also familiar with the account of the Garden of Eden. According to Genesis 2:8, the Lord God prepared a paradise for Adam and Eve to live in; a garden in Eden. This garden was surely the Titanic of its day because we’re told that God personally chose and placed there “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food”. The Lord came down in the cool of the evenings to walk with them and enjoy their company. He gave them only one warning to obey: Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But when Adam and Eve chose to ignore God’s rule and eat from the forbidden tree, it had the same effect on all of creation as the Titanic plowing full speed into the iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.
Every person born after Adam and Eve enters this world afloat in a dark, frigid ocean, clinging to the wreckage of what’s left of God’s original creation. We grasp desperately onto relationships, careers, hobbies, position in society, volunteer work, higher education – anything that might save us.
But God had a rescue plan for mankind in His Son, Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:6-8 tells us this of Jesus: “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privilege; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Jesus came to do what Adam would not do. He obeyed God to the point of dying as a payment for our sin and arrogance, allowing Himself to be executed in our place. And when God had raised Jesus from the dead and restored Him to His rightful place in Heaven, He didn’t just wave good bye and leave mankind here alone. He sent His Holy Spirit and He established the church.
Like the Carpathia, the church has a captain in Jesus Christ who is concerned not about His reputation, but about all those in His domain: the ones who know they are part of the crew, those who think they’re just passengers along for the ride, and the ones who are utterly lost and doomed to perish.
To those who know they are part of the crew, and are already hard at work, the Word says this in Philippians 1:3-5: “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” It’s always heartening to know that what we’re doing really matters. What an encouragement this is to keep obeying and serving!
To those who think they’re just passengers along for the ride, the Word says this: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing whole-heartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish...Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2: 1-5) It’s as though Jesus is saying to us, “Step up! The church is not a self-centered cruise ship. You have received comfort and encouragement from Christ and from those around you, and it’s time for you to become part of the rescue operation.”
To those who aren’t safely on board the Carpathia yet, pause for a moment and think how utterly foolish it would have been for a Titanic passenger to turn down a place in a lifeboat because it would mean leaving behind the wooden chair which had been barely keeping them afloat. Yet, don’t we all have the tendency to do just that when we cling to something that “sort of” worked in the past? It’s time to quit being so short-sighted and focus on the long term. 1 Peter 1: 3-5 give this promise to those who will choose to put their trust in Christ: “Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance…And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation…”
Or how about this: the life boat full of dripping, near-freezing passengers has reached the Carpathia where they are to be hauled onto the ship and hustled into cabins to be warmed and dried. But two or three in the lifeboat are hanging back and muttering. “No thanks. The last ship went down, so how do I know I can trust this ship not to go down? I’m going to stay here where I can take care of myself.” Is that not the attitude of those who have been hurt by the church? Although the church is not our salvation, it is part of who we are in Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 gives a great teaching on the body of Christ, the church. And right in the middle it says, “Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you’.” So while it’s clear from this 2,000-year-old letter that being hurt by human beings in the church is not a new thing, we are not let off the hook. The concluding verse says, “All of you together are Christ’s body…” So it’s that clear. Christians are only part of Christ’s body when they submit to being together as Christ’s body.
Like the Carpathia, the church is part of God’s rescue plan. We begin as the rescued ones. Then, as we mature and grow, we become the rescuers. We go from being rather needy, isolated individuals to individuals who are willing to sacrifice at their Lord’s orders, willing to be part of a team, each having a specific role to fulfill in God’s mission of salvation. As Jesus Christ has given His life for our rescue, we are to give our lives for Him to use as He sees fit.
Why? Because some day, Captain Jesus is going to navigate His church into port and along with all the rest of the rescued ones, we will be part of the glorious welcome that we have never seen on this Earth. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). Amen and Amen.
Have you ever noticed that the Psalms often encourages us to clap our hands and shout in triumph as we worship?
"Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great King over all the earth." (Psalm 47:1-2)
I have always taken this to mean to clap along with the song — hopefully in rhythm with the band. While we can apply it to, and should apply it to, clapping with the beat it actually means far more than that. In Psalm 47:1, we see the Sons of Korah encouraging all people to clap their hands and shout to God with loud songs of joy in light of the Lord because He is to be feared. He is to be respected.
So what does it mean to clap our hands in light of the Lord? It was customary at this point in Israel's history that when a new king came in to power and was on his accession to the throne that he was saluted with clapping of hands and joyous shouting. People were genuinely excited for the new come that had come in to power. Their “shout of triumph” is the joyous shouting which welcomes the victorious king.
If earthly kings and rulers are often greeted with clapping and joyous shouts of triumph, then how much more do we have an even greater King who deserves clapping and joyous shouting in songs of praise! As we come to Him, we are reminded of our brokenness. Our sin is exposed in light of His perfection. In light of His holiness, every dark corner is exposed as His light shines into those hidden recesses of our lives.
I love what Robert Hawker says about this, "The clapping of the hands implies perhaps not merely an outward token of inward delight; but it means let every demonstration be given, both by soul and body, of what a glorious cause for holy triumph there is in the consciousness of our risen, ascended, and triumphant Saviour."
The Lord deserves every fiber of our being, because He knit us each one of our fibers together. Not only is He the Author of Life, but He is the Creator and Sustainer of Life. As we worship the Lord, brothers and sisters, let us greet the Lord with clapping and loud songs of joy in light of what He has done and is doing, because He is the one, true God.
Global discipleship is one of our core values at Harmony. In addition tp our missionaries serving around the world as our global field staff, we also have strategic partnerships with a few key organizations. One such organization is Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon, Jordan. The following is a post by the Institute of Middle East Studies, a research and resource institute founded by ABTS. The Institute's mandate is to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.
Judging from the opening seventeen years of this new millennium, I expect the twenty-first century to be one of major social and political transition. We have entered an age where world religions are having a key role in the rise of global conflicts, and in which therefore people of all faiths will have to play a key role as peacemakers. If we do not rise to this unprecedented challenge in the most robust ways, we will have failed in our most fundamental divine calling to be agents of God’s reconciliation and transformation in the world.
In the years 2015 and 2016, we witnessed a degradation of fundamental values of human decency at a global scale, which many would say they have never seen before. The rise of ISIS in the summer of 2014 triggered a global reaction that must have stunned most people, except perhaps the leadership of ISIS itself. In the Muslim world, there has been an outcry against the horrors committed by the group. Numerous conferences have been organized by Muslim organizations and nations to condemn their behavior as un-Islamic.
The reaction to ISIS in the western world, on the other hand, has been dramatically different. Popular fear has given way to an astonishing rise of paranoia across Europe, North America, and Australia. These societies, which seemed to be moving towards greater maturity and unity in diversity throughout most of the twentieth century, have been regressing over the past decade and a half since September 11, 2001, and considerably more rapidly over the past two years. Today the loudest voices are not for unity and the embrace of diversity, but for self-protection and self-preservation.
In the present post, I would like to reflect on a key piece of scripture and consider its implications for disciples of Jesus who are called to a new revolutionary lifestyle that will challenge the current status quo.
As 2016 comes to a close, let’s take a look back and celebrate:
-over 400 families have been given food through Kayla’s Cupboard
-over 20 people have professed faith in Christ because of Kayla’s
-Celebrate Recovery has recently been averaging over 60 people
-Children’s ministry has been averaging over 240 every Sunday morning
-Successful 3.6 million dollar Multiply campaign
-Fort Madison remodel is 80% complete
-Burlington remodel is 30% complete
-103 water units sent to India
This represents a small sampling of the great things God has done through his people at Harmony.
Our ministry reach is greater than ever before, and as a result, so is our financial need. As of Christmas Eve, we needed $100,000 to meet our budget for this year. If you would like to help us finish 2016 strong, and position us for even bigger impact in 2017, you can make your end of the year donation here: https://app.easytithe.com/g3/
From the leadership team at Harmony Bible Church – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!