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April Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, April 05, 2020

April 5, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As our society continues to grapple with the difficult realities of the Coronavirus and the resulting lifestyle, we pray and solicit your prayers for all in our South Bumby spiritual family. We want you to know that the three of us are carefully monitoring related news and updates, and are communicating with one another almost daily to discuss the physical and spiritual well-being of everyone.

Much has happened since our last letter a couple of weeks ago. And so, we want to share with you some of our current thoughts and important updates.

First, special thanks to Josh Duke, Mike Minear, Tony Thigpen and others who have been working tirelessly to support and refine the technologies required to live stream our worship services and Bible studies through Facebook, Zoom and other platforms. They are continuing to research and improve the processes that make these tools even more beneficial for our worship and studies. Special thanks also to Ken for his ongoing sermons, online Bible classes in Matthew, and daily devotional studies from the book of James. And above all, thanks to everyone who is participating in these services and studies.

Even though we are not gathering together physically in our building for worship and Bible classes, we believe we all need to strengthen and encourage ourselves and one another through online and streaming worship and studies using the wonders of technology. Please don’t let our inability to meet at our building be an excuse to call “time out” on your faith. Even though we can’t physically meet in one place, we CAN still assemble and share our faith together. Indeed, Brother Doy Moyer noted in a recent Facebook post that, “The only one who can cancel worship in your life is YOU.”

Given the still-growing distress of the Coronavirus, our government and civil authorities have asked all citizens to continue being isolated for a time to help stem the threat of this disease. We as individuals and a spiritual body of believers, as well as citizens in society and our local community, have responsibility to do our part to protect one another and our neighbors. Accordingly, we have prayerfully made the sad, but appropriate, decision to not host worship services and Bible classes at our building through the month of April. We will continue to monitor recommendations and directives from civil authorities and update as appropriate.

But we still have ways to be together! Here is a summary of current services, studies and ways for us to stay connected:

  • Worship – live stream every Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
  • Bible Classes – studies in Matthew Sundays at 6:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.
  • Studies and Bible Exercises for children– online videos by Dedra Chapman and Vikki Kline for small children accessible on demand
  • Devotions from book of James – daily online videos by Ken accessible on demand
  • Weekly Bulletin – Marian and Tony continue to prepare and post the weekly bulletin to our Bumby web site.

In addition, and partially in response to member suggestions, other activities and resources are being planned to keep us connected and strong in our faith. Be sure to check and monitor daily our web site (Bumby.org), Facebook Member News, and your email for information and links to the above and new resources.

A couple of final thoughts:

Please check on one another, especially our homebound members who may not be able to participate in our online services and studies, and those who have ongoing health and other challenges. Many of our homebound and elderly members really appreciate phone calls at this time. Also, let us know if you or anyone you know has health or other physical or emotional needs.

Secondly, please remember your weekly contributions. Even though we’re not assembling at the building on Sundays, we have continuing financial obligations to the evangelists we support, utilities and other bills to pay, and member benevolence needs. Contributions are down in recent weeks, so please consider your personal giving. You can mail them to our South Bumby P.O. box or use the new, electronic tool that John Willman set up for us to use during this time.

As always, we remain open to and welcome any thoughts or recommendations you might have to strengthen our South Bumby family.

These are trying and unprecedented times. But let us hold fast to the faith, knowing that this difficult time WILL pass. In the meantime, let’s stay committed to practicing and sharing our faith. And, of course, pray! Pray for our nation, and state and local communities. Pray for our civil leaders and authorities. Pray for our congregation and us as your shepherds. And pray without ceasing for one another.

May God bless you!

Jim, Ralph and Walcott

March Letter from the Shepherds

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We all are aware and being impacted by the Corona virus. Let us remember and pray for all individuals globally who have contracted and been exposed to the virus, as well as the continued health and wellbeing of everyone in our South Bumby spiritual family.

We have been in constant communication with one another since last week as we monitor developments and Corona virus updates. As shepherds, we care deeply about each member of our spiritual family, both spiritually and physically. Please pray for us to have the wisdom we need to lead during these unprecedented times.

Yesterday we made several changes in our South Bumby services schedule, seating, etc. Following guidance and cautionary recommendations by federal, state and local government and health industry leaders, and with prayerful consideration, we are making the following adjustments in our next worship and Bible class schedules:

  1. This week’s (March 18) Wednesday evening Bible Classes are cancelled.
  2. On Sunday, March 22, we will assemble for worship at 11:00 a.m. only. The 9:00 a.m. worship and Bible classes are cancelled.

It appears that our normalcy will be slow in returning, as the lifestyle effects of the corona virus are changing almost daily. We understand that this creates a lot of uncertainty and concern, but we will continue to discuss and communicate necessary steps for our congregation and worship. Generally, we likely won’t be able to meet and worship and study together in our building at regularly scheduled times. And certainly our most vulnerable members (aged, those with lowered immune systems, diabetes, respiratory problems, etc.) and everyone with any kind of health issues (colds, flu, sniffles etc.) should not be joining our assembly or other gatherings.

With all of the above in mind and since we cannot be together as much as we would like, let us remember that we still need to practice our faith and all of the regular responsibilities therein. Here are some things we encourage all in our spiritual family to do with renewed vigor during these times:

Pray – Praise and thank God for all blessings, for continued health, for strength and perseverance during these uncertain times, for our government and health care leaders and providers, and for one another.

Study and mediate upon the Word – At minimum, use the time that we normally would assemble together to study. And draw strength and encouragement from those studies!

Serve one another – Several of members and all of our homebound members still are in need of prayers and, sometimes physical assistance. Call and check on your fellow members and continue to serve as you have ability and opportunity. And let’s all inform one another of individual needs.

Maintain your regular Contributions – Even though you may not be able to attend worship services for one reason or another, your ongoing, weekly contributions remain a responsibility. Even in these times, our own and other evangelists we support, and members who need benevolence help depend upon our contributions. And we still have our regular bills to pay.

In sum, please don’t let our limited services schedules become an excuse not to practice our faith and fulfill our responsibilities to one another and our South Bumby spiritual family. If you are comfortable in doing so, gather in small groups of family and friends to pray and study together.

So, what’s next? We will be working diligently to provide regular communication in the coming days and weeks. We are in the process of connecting with your group leaders to assist in communication and service to those in need. We also are exploring video communication, studies and the possibility of online Bible studies. It will be very important for you to watch your email, the South Bumby facebook page and our South Bumby web page for updates and new information. And we are creating phone trees to connect with those who don’t use computer-based communications tools.

If you have thoughts or recommendations to assist during this time, please let us know. And please know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

The Elders,
Jim, Ralph, and Walcott

And Then Some...

Thursday, October 03, 2013

By: Brent Lewis

(adapted)

 

It all comes back …

 

Do you believe the verse in Proverbs that says, “Yes, the liberal man shall be rich; by watering others, he waters himself” (Proverbs 11:25, Living Bible)? I do. Let me tell you why.

 

Two years ago Patricia West learned from her doctor just how special she is. Her blood contains some unusual antibodies found in only one out of every 5,000 persons. Since nineteen of twenty people are unable or unwilling to donate blood, her blood is for all practical purposes one in 100,000. That poses a critical problem for an otherwise routine procedure like a transfusion.

 

Would she be willing to donate some of her rare blood in case someone else needed it? Some stranger’s life might depend upon it. She would. And she did. Later Mrs. West moved from Florida to Michigan. The someone with that rare blood type hemorrhaged following simple surgery. It was Mrs. West herself.

 

Her doctors frantically searched for some compatible blood. None was available. In desperation they called the National Rare Donor Registry whose computers located the blood in Florida. Doctors had no doubt that this blood in a freezer of the Edison Blood Bank would be compatible with the patient. It was Pat’s own blood!

 

Virginia Parsons, director of the blood bank, said the standard shelf life of frozen blood is three years. “But very, very rare units like this are kept for seven or eight years.” It was packed in thirty pounds of dry ice and sent across the country on a life-saving mission. Patricia West lives today because two years ago she was willing to give her own blood!

 

Life is like that. What we hoard and try to keep as treasure somehow gets away. What we give away so often comes back. But then that’s what the Lord said in His Word: “It is possible to give away and become richer; also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything” (Proverbs 11:24, Living Bible).

—Douglas F. Parsons


Two wise goats

Martin Luther is credited with the following interesting story. Two mountain goats meet each other on a narrow ledge just wide enough for one of the animals. On the left there is a sheer cliff, and on the right a deep lake. The two face each other. What should they do? They cannot back up—that would be too dangerous. They cannot turn around because the ledge is too narrow.

 

Now, if the goats had no more sense than some people, they would meet head on and start butting each other until they fell into the lake below. Luther tells us that goats have better sense than this. One lies down on the trail and lets the other literally walk over him; both are safe. They must be willing, however (at least one of them), humbly to lie down and let the other pass over him. If they were like some people, they would argue about who should lie down, and who should walk over. But, evidently, “goat sense” is common sense!

 

Is there any need to make an application to ourselves? How often our stubbornness results in tragedy. How hard to be the least, to humble ourselves for the best interests of others. We hear folks say, “I’m going to stand up for my rights!” How much better it would be to meekly “suffer wrong” and be the least. “Tis hard to learn such a lesson as this.” Another says, “It is the principle of the thing I’m fighting for. It’s not the few cents involved, or the results I’ve borne … but I must defend my principles!” Remember, the principal thing is love, and the Bible says, “love … is kind … seeketh not its own” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5). Better to allow yourself to be walked over than to quarrel.

 

Here lies the body of Jonathan Gray,

Who died maintaining his right-of-way.

He was right, dead right, as he sped along.

But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.

“Let all your things be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

—Author Unknown

 

Snap judgments

 

While on a walk one day, I was surprised to see a man hoeing the garden while sitting in a chair. “What laziness!” I thought. But suddenly I saw leaning against his chair a pair of crutches. The man was at work despite his handicap.

The lesson I learned about snap judgments has stayed with me for years. Many of the crosses people bear are seldom in plain sight.

—Anonymous

 

Originally appeared in the December 1986 issue of Christianity Magazine.

Love: The Essence of Christianity

Thursday, October 03, 2013

 

By: Mark Mayberry

 

Love is a misunderstood and misused word, partly because in our language it is a “catch-all” expression. It is used to describe everything from the lofty nature of God to illicit and even perverted sexuality. The Greek language was much more precise. It had a number of words to describe the various types of love: Eros is the Greek word for sexual love. Storge is the Greek word which describes the natural affection within a family. Phileo is the love of emotion, and has to do with those warm feelings that arise within us in response to the good qualities of another. We have a special affection and friendship for those we are close to. This love is directed toward our family, friends and brethren. Agape is the highest form of love. It is not simply an emotion which arises unbidden in our hearts, but it is a principle by which we live. It involves seeking the highest good of another. Such love is to be directed toward God, as well as all mankind.

 

Agape love is a multifaceted jewel. This is demonstrated by the discussion of its qualities in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. It causes us to be patient with others, and not quickly retaliate against their shortcomings. Love results in active kindness. It causes us to shun evil attitudes such as resentment and envy. Love doesn’t allow us to become puffed up with pride; nor does it act in a boastful, rude, or unbecoming way. Instead, we treat others in a courteous and respectful manner. Love is not self-seeking. Selfishness is to be laid aside, and replaced with genuine consideration for the needs of others. Love doesn’t allow us to become easily angered. If we truly love others, we will not keep a running ledger of their mistakes. Love produces a genuine morality. Whereas the world takes pleasure in sin, he who practices biblical love delights in the truth. Love is steadfast: it bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Agape is the summation of godly conduct.

 

The primary focus of our love is the God of heaven. We are to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37–38). How does this love control our actions? It causes us to realize that sin brings shame and dishonor upon His name. If we love God, we will live in such a way as to glorify Him. We show our love for God by keeping His commandments (John 14:15).

 

We should express this love toward fellow Christians. It leads us to edify and encourage our brethren. Unfortunately, petty differences sometimes arise and we lose sight of the principle of love. Then we “bite and devour one another” (Galatians 5:15). We should “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, NASV). This should be our constant aim.

 

Love should be practiced at home (Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:4). Husbands and wives claim to love each other, but sometimes take each other for granted and even treat one another with contempt. When this happens, the home becomes a place of conflict. Love should be enshrined in the home. Its expression should go far beyond occasionally mumbling a few words. Partners in marriage should be positive influences on each other, realizing that they will greatly affect the destiny of the other.

 

We should love those who are lost in sin. Our hope of salvation is based on God’s love for us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). We should be willing to share the blessings of Christianity with others. Sometimes, we fail to teach others the truth for fear of hurting their feelings or losing their friendship. A true concern for their eternal welfare will overcome such hesitation.

 

Finally, the Bible tells us to love our enemies. We may not always appreciate their actions, and their sinful ways may keep us from having a close emotional attachment to them. However, remember that agape is not simply an emotion. Even toward our enemies, we should conduct ourselves in a way that seeks their highest good. We show love by not returning evil for evil, but rather by doing good (Romans 12:17–20). By conducting ourselves as Christians in such circumstances, we show the reality of our faith, and will perhaps lead them to the Lord. This should be our aim in the first place.

 

Acting in love should be the basis of all our dealings with God and man. This is the essence of Christianity.

 

Originally appeared in the October 1984 issue of Christianity Magazine.

True Love - Objective and Controlled

Thursday, October 03, 2013

By: Dee Bowman

When asked what is the greatest command of all, Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” He further affirmed that “the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Finally, as if to clinch the proposition, He said, “On these two hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40).

Love is the supreme commandment, the highest “thou shalt.” It is the one true motive, the first good reason. On it rests all that God has done, all He has said, all He expects of us. Law without love is profitless. Love without law is ludicrous.

Love is more than sentiment, greater than mere feelings. It seeks ways to express itself. Even Puppy Love—perhaps the lowest form of love—will seek some way to express itself. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). We love Him, so we express our love by doing what He says. It is not our expression in words, but our translation of the words into action that shows our love. Love is not silent. Nor indeed can it be.

Paul portrays love as a person in 1 Corinthians 13. He says, “Love seeketh not her own” (verse 5). True love looks out, not in. That is, it is objective. Sure, there is a subjective feeling to love, but it does not stop in the heart. It seeks an object toward which to extend itself. Real love does not expend its energies seeking its own things, it looks outward—toward the needs of others (Philippians 2:4).

Love is involved with the needs of others. It encourages, ennobles, emboldens them. Sometimes it exhorts, gracefully agitating others to greater faithfulness. Other times it offers gentle discipline, considering itself, and in the spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1). Love spends its time helping, not being helped. It looks for the opportunity to bear another’s burden and “so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

A young mother knows this other-directed love. She stands before the crib and mops the fevered brow of her little one while she prays God to transfer the fever to her. She is willing not only to share, but to bear. Not part of it, mind you, but all of it. It’s love that causes that. Love does not seek to be comfortable, it seeks to serve.

Shirley Baulch’s brother was in serious condition. If he didn’t find a new kidney, he would die. When she heard about it, she did not hesitate, but immediately volunteered one of her kidneys. Oblivious to the risk involved in even the surgery to remove her own kidney and without regard for the risk she now takes since she has but one herself, she gave. Because she gave, he lives.

Because He loved, He gave (John 3:16). Because He gave, we live. Oh, glorious love!

Paul continues. “Love is not easily provoked,” he says. It is easy—sometimes even enjoyable—to become exasperated with people. But true love will fight against the tendency. Love is temperate, in control.

Control is such an integral part of love. Love manages situations, it does not allow situations to manage it. It will exercise proper restraint in the midst of controversy, and retain propriety, even in the face of ill treatment. To hold yourself back in the middle of intense criticism or angry rebuke is a sure indication of love. To return malevolence with benevolence is control in its purest form. To return provocation with kindness is indicative of mature love. It’s hard to do, sure. But love demands it.

Genuine love will control the amount of time it gives to anger. It will not let the sun set on its wrath (Ephesians 4:26). True love will be angry short. It will even return good for evil (Romans 12:21).

“On these two hang all the law and prophets.” To love God supremely and to suit unto our fellows the highest good is the measurement of genuine love. True love is what God’s law is all about. God’s law is what true love is all about.

Originally appeared in the May 1991 issue of Christianity Magazine.

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