"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;" Philippians 4:6
My dear Reform Movement family,
May this message find each one of you under the care of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Every year, I am in awe of God’s tender care for His people, and this year has been no different.
In 2022, our Reform Movement family grew. We established new churches, reached new places, and gathered in person once again, to make up for lost time. Soldiers in the Lord’s army graduated, and others were ordained to serve. All over the world, the Reform Movement has been working tirelessly to reach our global community and spread the Gospel. Amidst turmoil and civil unrest, God’s work carries on.
One more year is about to surrender its pages to eternity, and as we end 2022, I thank you for your faithful service and assistance in advancing God’s cause in this world.
Your prayers, dedication in church offices, your faithful giving, and your presence in church meetings have made a difference in many lives. By God’s grace, you will have the opportunity to witness its results in eternity—results that you might not see or even imagine now, will make your joy greater in heaven when you see souls saved because, in some way, you helped them find Jesus.
Together we can say, “Ebenezer! Thus far, the Lord has helped us.”
This is always a time for special reflection when we stop to consider the blessing of the year ending and the opportunities of the year coming. It is a time to give thanks to God for the blessings received—our health, our freedom, the hope we have in Christ.
For me, I am particularly grateful for my family this year. My wife, my children, my relatives, and the opportunity of having both my parents and all three of my siblings alive. But also, the beautiful spiritual family we have in the Reform Movement. I feel privileged to have you as my brothers and my sisters.
You know, families aren’t always easy. They disappoint us, hurt us sometimes. But do you remember when you first fell in love? The love you felt for your children when they were just born? Or the way you regarded your parents as heroes in childhood? Many of these experiences were our first taste of love.
I remember the first time I stepped into a Reform Movement church at fourteen. I saw our people as such wise brethren, who studied the Gospel for themselves and had true conviction and principles. At that moment, I began to fall in love with our faith.
What came between you and your first loves, this year? Between you and your spouse, between you and your brethren, between you and God? Maybe pride? The desire to be right? Has it been worth the pain?
Growing up, my childhood home was divided—literally. My parents couldn’t get along, but they also couldn't afford two houses, so they built a wall in the middle of our house. I witnessed the hurt and destruction that can happen when we leave our first love. But I was also blessed to witness the healing power of God, and the way His love transforms us into new creatures. My parents found salvation, and in the process, they found each other again.
A new year unfurls its pages before us, and many families will begin the year apart. But God can work a miracle in your marriage, starting in your heart, if you allow Him.
"Through the revelation of his grace, hearts that were once indifferent or estranged may be united in bonds that are firmer and more enduring than those of earth,—the golden bonds of a love that will bear the test of trial." RH December 10, 1908
To the children who, like me, witnessed the separation of their parents, God sees you. He hurts with you. Let Him comfort you, transform you, that you may be the light in your home during this difficult period. And to those with loved ones missing this year, He sees you too. He hurts with you, too. And He offers you comfort, hope, and peace, unlike any other this world has to offer. To the lonely, the isolated members of our family around the world, you are not forgotten. You are part of a peculiar nation, and even far apart, we stand together.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I am grateful for all God has worked through us in 2022, and I look forward to discovering His plans for us in 2023. As you finish reading this message, please, take a moment to consecrate the next year of your life in God’s hands. There will be moments this year when you will be tempted to wander from your first love, but I want to leave you with a passage from one of my favorite hymns for you to remember when those moments come. It's hymn #513 in the Reformation Hymnal, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart O, take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
May we make these words our daily prayer in the year ahead,