Mark Your Calendars . . . for the 98TH INTERNATIONAL ASSEMBLY of the Church of God of Prophecy July 30-August 3, 2014
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Contents %FDFNCFSt7PMVNF /VNCFS
ZZZZ Bringing honor to the WORD by the printed word, the White Wing Messenger strives to inspire Christian thought and practice as it imparts the â€œgood newsâ€? of the Gospel while serving the connectivity needs of our church community.
The Wonder of the Incarnation Tim Harper Christ appears in our neighborhood
Lo, the Star! 11 Fred S. Fisher, Sr. God with us!
Our Extraordinary Present Rita Ford He came to us as a babe
Follow the Star Uzziah B. Cooper, Sr. He will lead us over our spiritual mountains
16 How to Have a
Song During this Christmas Season Fred A. Lawson You have a song
page 11 page 18
Cherished 18 Christmas
Jude Enxuto Peace, goodwill toward men
Palace in 19 the Cave
Love in Action 26 Heritage: Thank You Central City
Tony Comer God is with us
Ringing in the 20 New Year: Spiritual Resolutions
Facing Forward: A Giving Faith 3BOEBMM&)PXBSE (FOFSBM0WFSTFFS
Messages: The Weight of the World %F8BZOF)BNCZ .BOBHJOH&EJUPS
Resolute control to Him
A Babe of Peace 22 Ashley J. Guidry
Worldview Cultureâ€“Churchâ€“Announcement 5FTUJNPOZo*OUFSWJFXo5SJOJEBE5PCBHP
Good tidings of great joy Visit us onlineâ€”www.whitewingmessenger.org WWM D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 2
2013 Calendar of Events Randall E. Howard General Overseer
A Giving Faith For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begoĆŠen Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasĆ&#x;ng life (John 3:16). te give giĹŒs at ChristmasĆ&#x;me to remember that God gave the great giĹŒ of His Son Jesus. Jesus gave Himself in full surrender to the will of the Father, becoming the sacriÄŽcial Lamb of God. The Holy Spirit was given as Jesus ascended and fulÄŽlled His promise that another comforter would join the disciples and be with them. It is at Christmas, more than any other Ć&#x;me of the year, that we are reminded that our faith is a giving faith. It has been said oĹŒen, but should be repeated frequently, that no other faith embraces a God of giving love. There are religions of restricĆ&#x;ons, religions of liberty and license, religions of sacriÄŽce, and religions of selfÍ˛fulÄŽllment. But no other faith has a God that became man in order to save man. No other faith has a God that gave the ÄŽrst sacriÄŽce so that all
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January 10â€“13 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies II Columbia January 10â€“13 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies I Ecuador
others could eÇ†perience the beneÄŽt. No other religion has a God that is preparing eternity for His faithful to enjoy. Yes, our faith is a giving faith because our God is a giving God. â€œLet not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Fatherâ€™s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be alsoâ€? (John 14:1â€“3). And God did not stop giving with the advent of Christ. His giĹŒ of presence holds the world in place. His giĹŒ of grace brings His touch over everything that is made. His giĹŒ of mercy replaces judgment with forgiveness for those who confess Him. His giĹŒ of salvaĆ&#x;on delivers men from this fallen world and their fallen selves. His giĹŒ of life allows believers to begin now experiencing eternal life. Our God, the greatest giver, has invited us to enter His giving faith. As recipients, our appreciaĆ&#x;on for His giĹŒs swells so high that we are moĆ&#x;vated to give as well. We want to give out of compassion for hurĆ&#x;ng people in every land. We want to give so that the good news of our giving God will spread to every people. We want to give so that His kingdom will be established in every quarter and His name will be exalted far above all others. â€œEvery good giĹŒ and every perfect giĹŒ is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights . . .â€? (James 1:17). â€œThanks be unto God for his unspeakable giĹŒâ€? (ĎŽ Corinthians 9:1Ďą).
January 11â€“13 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies I Guyana January 17â€“20 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies II Tennessee January 24â€“26 CREATE Conference, Cleveland, Tennessee www.createcon.org January 31â€“February 2 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies I Î˜ II Macon, Georgia February 7â€“9 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies III Peru February 11â€“13 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies I Guyana February 18â€“20 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies I Nepal February 25â€“27 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies I North India February 25â€“27 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies I Central India February 8â€“March 3 School of PracĆ&#x;cal Î˜ Advanced Studies III Belize Executive Editor/Publisher:3&)PXBSE Managing Editor: %F8BZOF)BNCZ Copy Editor: .BSTIB3PCJOTPO Editorial Assistant: Pamela 1SBOJVL Graphic Artist:1FSSZ)PSOFS *OUFSOBUJPOBM0ĂłDFT 4VCTDSJQUJPOT Please submit all material to the 8IJUF8JOH.FTTFOHFS.BOBHJOH &EJUPS10#PY$MFWFMBOE 5/QIPOF FNBJMVTBU&EJUPSJBM!DPHPQPSH.
White Wing Messenger Editorial Board: Londa 3JDIBSETPO $IBJS)&$BSEJO%BOJFM$IBUIBN)BOOZ 7JEBM$FSWJO.D,JOOPO1FSSZ)PSOFS5BQJP4ĂŠUJMĂŠ #SJBO4VUUPO4IBVO.D,JOMFZBOE"ESJBO7BSMBDL White Wing Messenger *44/ 6414 JTQVCMJTIFENPOUIMZ BTUIFPĂłDJBMQVCMJDBUJPOPGUIF$IVSDIPG(PEPG1SPQIFDZ ,FJUI4U/8 $MFWFMBOE 5/4FOEBMMNBUFSJBMTGPSQVCMJDBUJPOUP&EJUPSJBM%FQBSUNFOU 10#PY $MFWFMBOE 5/FNBJMFEJUPSJBM!DPHPQPSH GBY 'PSTVCTDSJQUJPOSBUFT WJTJUXXNDPHPQPSHDBMM FNBJMTVCTDSJQUJPOT!DPHPQPSH4VCTDSJQUJPOSBUFQFSZFBS QBZBCMF to White Wing MessengerCZDIFDL ESBGU PSNPOFZPSEFS1FSJPEJDBMQPTUBHF QBJEBU$MFWFMBOE 5/BOEBUBEEJUJPOBMNBJMPĂłDF%POBUJPOTGPSUIF White Wing MessengerNBZCFTFOUUPUIFBCPWFBEESFTT"MM4DSJQUVSF SFGFSFODFT BSF GSPN UIF ,JOH +BNFT 7FSTJPO VOMFTT PUIFSXJTF JOEJDBUFE 1045."45&34FOEBEESFTTDIBOHFUPWhite Wing Messenger 10#PY $MFWFMBOE 5/
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God Honors Our “Childlike” Faith Stop to Count Your Blessings When CriƟcized, Consider the Source God’s Greatest GiŌ Is Life Miracles Happen
19% On a Daily Basis
How often do you?
26% A Few Times a Week
18% Rarely or Never
“A bank in the city where I live has an interesƟng requirement for all new employees going through their orientaƟon: they must watch It’s a Wonderful Life from start to Įnish,” the author writes in the book’s introducƟon. “’The message in that Įlm,’ the bank president told me, ͚is the message we want our employees to come to work with every day: the idea that our acƟons make a diīerence in the community around us’.” Lessons proĮled in the book include:
Most Christians Don’t Read Bible Daily 22% At least once a month
It’s a Wonderful Life, the perennial Christmas favorite, is the basis for a recent book highlighƟng nuggets that can be gleaned from its story. ϱϮ LiƩle Lessons froŵ It’s a Wonderful Life by Bob Welch (Thomas Nelson) explores the themes of the Įlm, taking readers from being viewers to acƟve parƟcipants.
14% Once a Week
George Bailey on Life
Non-Christians on Christians
On Thom Rainer’s blog, he outlines the seven most common types of comments received from nonͲChrisƟans about ChrisƟans. “Read these comments and see if you learn some of the lessons I learned,” he said. ChrisƟans are against more things than they are for. I would like to develop a friendship with a ChrisƟan. I would like to learn about the Bible from a ChrisƟan. I don’t see much diīerence in the way ChrisƟans live compared to others. ͻ I wish I could learn to be a beƩer husband, wife, dad, mom, etc., from a ChrisƟan. ͻ Some ChrisƟans try to act like they have no problems. ͻ I wish a ChrisƟan would take me to his or her church. “o you see the paƩern͍ NonͲChrisƟans want to interact with ChrisƟans. They want to see ChrisƟans’ acƟons match their beliefs. They want ChrisƟans to be real. ͻ ͻ ͻ ͻ
“In one study we conducted, we found that only Įve percent of nonͲChrisƟans are antagonisƟc toward ChrisƟans. It’s Ɵme to stop believing the lies we have been told. Jesus said it clearly: “͚The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest’” (Luke1Ϭ:Ϯ HCSB). ͶdŚoŵRainer.Đoŵ
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onƟnued on ƉaŐe Ϯϴ
Holiness Document Available “The Pursuit of the Holy God,” the report that will be presented at the ϮϬ14 InternaƟonal Assembly by the Bible octrine and Polity CommiƩee, has been made available for download on www.cogop. org. All leaders and members are encouraged to read the document and present their r esponses to the commiƩee. The deadline for responses is January 1, ϮϬ13, to allow the commiƩee Ɵme to review the responses before its Įnal presentaƟon.
Responses should be emailed to BDP@cogop.org before January 1.
A Special Thank You
I would like to express my deepest hearƞelt thank you to the InternaƟonal Oĸces staī and members of the Church of God of Prophecy for the support I received while serving as a military chaplain. It has been an honor to serve, Įrst in the hnited States Marine Corps as an enlisted Marine, and later to serve through the Navy under a (MOA) contract performing chaplain services to the hnited States Coast Guard. The past several years I have served at Clay NaƟonal Guard Center in MarieƩa, Georgia, as a state commissioned oĸcer and chaplain. I reƟred on Sunday, June 3, ϮϬ1Ϯ from the Georgia epartment of efense. I was privileged to have been the Įrst state commissioned chaplain to ever have been appointed to the Joint Force Headquarters chaplain oĸce in ϮϬϬ9. Later, in November of ϮϬ1Ϭ, I was also appointed as Command Chaplain for the GSF ivision of Joint Forces HY working for the command general and staī. Serving on the state’s Joint Forces HY Chaplain Staī while our NaƟonal Guard was ĮghƟng in two wars was a challenge for us all. With more than ϮϬ,ϬϬϬ soldiers, airmen, and State efense Force guardsmen working diligently to serve this naƟon, both on the baƩleĮeld and at home here in Georgia. I can truly say that the American spirit is soaring high. The challenge of chaplaincy is being met through Godly men and women in support of those serving. But I send out this thank you because without your support in prayer and faith we could not have had success. God took me into posiƟons of leadership that had never been opened before to a state commissioned oĸcer and chaplain. This was my calling for ministry, I was born for this service and now it has ended for me in uniform but not in my service to God. I say this as my Įnal word to all of you. It has been the greatest Ɵme of my life serving my God, naƟon and state as a ChrisƟan military chaplain. A special thanks to my mentor and inspiraƟon, our Įrst military chaplain in the Church of God of Prophecy, Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel ouglas Stephenson hS Army Special Forces ͬ Green Beret Chaplain ReƟred.
ͶRoŐer . Lanter ŚaƉlain ͬ Lieutenant Colonel (Ret)
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Senior Pastors Wanted in Eastern Canada Senior pastors are being sought for two churches in Western Canada by the administraƟve oĸces. The Montreal West COGOP and the Downsview COGOP in Toronto are both open churches seeking pastors. According to Bishop Woodroe Thompson, naƟonal overseer, “the senior pastor is to provide spiritual and pastoral leadership to the local congregaƟon of the Church of God of Prophecy, will serve as the chief administrator of the congregaƟon so that it will fulĮll its mission and purpose as the body of Christ and will preach, teach, and administer the sacraments and give primary leadership to the congregaƟon in all areas of worship, administraƟon, stewardship, and missional living.” Applicants should forward resume and references via email to AdministraƟve Bishop at revtΛ cogop.ca or secpaulineΛcogop. ca with subject line: Senior Pastor COGOP or mail to: Church of God of Prophecy/ Eastern Canada AdministraƟve Oĸce/ ϱ14ϱ Tomken Road/ Mississauga, Ontario L4W 1P1
What Do You Want to Be?
We all had that aunt, the one who cornered you at Grandma’s birthday or Thanksgiving and asked, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Maybe your answer was a shrug or perhaps you had a deĮnite image in your mind of you as an adult. It was probably fun to imagine being a ĮreĮghter or a doctor someƟme way oī in the future. But you know what? You don’t have to wait for the future to do great things. God has a plan for you that starts today. Have you heard of Trevor Farrell? Trevor saw a TV newscast about people living on the streets. Those images sƟrred compassion in him. He asked his parents to take him to downtown Philadelphia so he could give his blanket to the Įrst homeless person he met. In the following weeks, with the help of family, classmates, and neighbors, Trevor made nightly trips into Philadelphia to distribute food, clothing, and hundreds of blankets to the needy. You see, Trevor had to have his parents’ permission because he was only 11 years old. And now, a huge corporaƟon exists to fulĮll his wish for the homeless to have help. What about Rachel Beckwith? She hoped to save Ψ300 by her ninth birthday to help supply clean water to poor African villagers. Friends, church members, and total strangers from around the world picked up where she leŌ oī when news of her birthday wish spread aŌer she tragically died in a car accident. Last year, Rachel’s fundraising campaign—charitywater. org—surpassed the Ψ1 million mark. Rachel did not wait for adulthood. She knew she was not too young to do good. A Jewish girl named Mary was called by God to bring Jesus into the world while she was sƟll a young person. In today’s language, she said to the angel who told her God’s plan, “Well, here I am! I’m ready! Bring it!” (Luke 1:38). She bravely obeyed God and the world was changed. What can you do for God? Is there an area of need in your community or church where you can oīer to help? Look around you. Listen to your pastor and other ministry leaders as they share their vision for reaching the lost and helping people. Oīer to assist in Children’s Church or other areas unƟl you see what you are giŌed to do. Pray for God to sƟr your heart and then be willing to obey Him. Being grown up is not a requirement for working for God. What do you want to be right now?
Impact Youth Devotional
Palma Hutchinson, former Youth Ministries InternaƟonal Director, is one of 40 contributors to Impact: The Student Leadership evoƟonal. The book, covering topics such as Leading with Courage, Hearing God’s Call, Leading with Humility and Staying Focused, also includes contribuƟons from Jay Strack, David Edwards, Brent Crowe, and Dusty Wilson. To order the devoƟonal, available for ΨϮϱ, visit www.palmahutchinson.com.
The fall and winter have seen a great share of great new music in mulƟple genres by some very familiar voices. Warren BarĮeld’s newest release, RedBird, was funded by listeners through Kickstarter and features the producƟon talents of Grammy AwardͲwinning songwriter and producer Wayne Kirkpatrick, plaƟnumͲselling recording arƟst Bryan White; Bo Rinehart, Bear Rinehart, and Seth Bolt of NEEDTOBREATHE; and BarĮeld. For more info, visit www.warrenbarĮeld.com Also funded through Kickstarter, Jeremi and Amy Richardson have released Never Let Go, a worship project. The duo, comprising half of the popular contemporary vocal group Avalon, uses contemporary styles and polished producƟon for a collecƟon comprised of mostly original songs. For more informaƟon, visit www. jeremiandamyrichardson.com. For more Music Notes, visit the White Wing Messenger blog at whitewingmessenger.org.
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The Wonder of the Incarnation:
Between Two Worlds
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Each Advent season, I am always awestruck by the thought of “Deity in Diapers.” God and baby; baby, yet God. God in need of Pampers, powder, and baby wipes. AdmiƩedly, it is not diĸcult to imagine the birth of a monarch, a prince, an heir to the throne, a future king in a palace. However, to envision God, the Creator of the world, as a baby that depended on someone else to feed, burp, clean and diaper Him—that is a stretch for my imaginaƟon, creaƟng a theological conundrum. The apostle John stated the Word’s pre-incarnate majesty with eloquence: “He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone” (John 1:3, 4 NLT). To envision the God who spoke the worlds into existence, Ňung the stars into outer space, named each one, calling them by name, to envision that God as a baby who is forced to communicate with sighs, cooing, and crying challenges my mental sensibiliƟes. To envision the invisible God, who is everywhere present at the same Ɵme, as a visible baby bound by the laws of Ɵme and space leaves me awestruck. Theological minds greater than mine and ecumenical councils have grappled with this profound truth that “In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word became Ňesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14 NASB). Indeed, it is the wonder of the incarnaƟon. Simply stated, in the incarnaƟon, the Word of God entered our world, while holding onto Himself, yet hanging between two worlds. Let me illustrate.
Entering Another Person’s World The apostle John reminds us that “The Word became Ňesh and blood,
and moved into our neighborhood (John 1:14 MSG). The reality is, I could not move to His neighborhood. The chasm of sin separated us. To be sure, humanity has tried all sorts of ways to build a bridge to God; however, all of our eīorts have failed. So, instead of me moving into God’s neighborhood, He moved into mine. When He moved in, however, the neighborhood welcome wagon did not greet his family with a basket of freshly baked goods. The Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce didn’t send coupons for dinner at an area restaurant. The local synagogue didn’t extend a helping hand with unpacking boxes and decoraƟng the nursery. “The world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted” (John 1:10, 11 NLT). There was no extended family present at His birth to celebrate and sing songs of joy. However, God would not allow His son to be outdone. Angels lit up the night skies and sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace goodwill toward men.” No one staked yard art of a stork in the barnyard of the stable that read, “It’s a boy!” God, however, would not allow His Son to be outdone. He placed a star in the sky that guided the magi from a distant land. Friends of Mary did not
His debut. While the world was caught up in the pressures of the tax season and deadlines, God slipped in. Instead of our Lord being birthed into a sterile environment, He moved into a stable where caƩle defecate, mice scurry along the ground, and spiders weave webs. But then, that’s our world isn’t it? Oh, we like to pretend that our world is squeaky clean. But let’s be honest, it’s not. Who among us doesn’t get up with morning breath? Our Ňoors need vacuuming, our dishes need washing, our clothes need laundering, our garbage cans need emptying. Indeed, life is messy. I have discovered that where there is life, waste and trash are generated. We live in a fallen world riddled by sin and destrucƟon. That’s why Jesus was birthed in a stable. When He entered my world, my neighborhood, He didn’t come to a world that was saniƟzed, spotless and immaculate. He entered a world under the curse of sin. Indeed, in the middle of our disarray and garbage, our Lord enters. Christ appears in our neighborhood. The New Testament gives us glimpses of Jesus entering the world of those around Him. He touched the leper, whose roƫng Ňesh would have insƟncƟvely repelled others. Indeed, He touches the roƫng caverns of our soul decaying
He didn’t come to a world that was sanitized, spotless, and immaculate. He entered a world under the curse of sin. host a baby shower in order to provide her with the necessiƟes that a new mother so desperately needs. Again, God would not allow His Son to be outdone. Wise men brought giŌs of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Yet, the fact remains. When He moved in, the world did not recognize
under the infecƟon of sin. To the woman at the well, who had been in and out of so many relaƟonships, trying desperately to Įnd someone to care for her, Jesus walked into her world and made her feel like no other man ever had. In the darkness of the night, among the howling cries from a cemetery, Jesus, the light WWM D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 2
of life walked into the domain of death, speaking life to the demoniac of Gadara who had only known the pain of rejecƟon of death. To a short man who had overcompensated for his inferiority complex by inŇaƟng the taxes of others for his own personal gain, Jesus made Zacchaeus whole and complete. To be sure, there are Ɵmes when we feel as if no one understands. No one has been here before. No one can idenƟfy with my suīering. Take another look— Jesus has moved into your neighborhood!
Holding Onto Himself
Throughout the enƟre earthly journey of our Lord, He never ceased being God. John communicates this certainty when he writes, “The Word was made Ňesh . . . full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NKJV). I have known individuals who had a lot of grace but were deĮcient in truth. On the other hand, I have known folks who were heavy on truth, but light on grace. Jesus was full of both. Fully man, He never ceased being God. It is mind-boggling to ponder that for nine months, He progressed through the gestaƟonal process in Mary’s womb. Then aŌer birth, Mary had to care for his most basic needs—the Creator dependent upon the created. The care of the Creator was entrusted into the hands of a teenage girl. Can you imagine the gasp that must have echoed through angelic host in the corridors of heaven the Įrst Ɵme that Mary almost dropped baby Jesus, or spoke to the toddler with that insƟncƟve mother’s voice? You know
Jesus was twelve years old. The family had made their pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem and on their way back home, traveling with a large crowd, Joseph must have assumed that Jesus was with Mary and vice versa. When they discovered that Jesus was with neither, panic must have struck their heart. Every parent knows that excruciaƟng alarm when, in a split second, your child is out of sight and you think he is missing. It’s terrifying. On top of that, how would you like to explain to Jehovah that you lost His Son? They hurried back to the city and found Jesus in the Temple. When Mary confronted the Savior of the world, she retorted, “Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been franƟc, searching for you everywhere” (Luke Ϯ:48 NLT). NoƟce how Jesus responds, however, He knew who He was. Entering our world, Jesus replied, “Why did you need to search . . . Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (v. 49). Yet we search. We search for meaning, for purpose, for happiness, for peace of mind. Jesus simply says, “Your search is over.” I’ve entered your world doing my Father’s business, reconciling men, women, and children back to the Father.
Hanging Between Two Worlds
Our being reconciled to the Father occurs because Jesus hung between two worlds. Peter Scazzero in his book Ɵtled, The EmoƟonallǇ HealthǇ Church, observes that “Jesus, during his incarnaƟon on earth, was fully God, in perfect communion
The wonder of the incarnation is that since He moved into my neighborhood, I can one day move into His. the drill. SƟll to this day, my mother occasionally says, “Timothy Arnold!” I remember a Ɵme in Scripture where Mary probably said, “Jesus Joseph!” Yes, I am taking a liƩle literary license here. 10
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with the Father. He was also fully human, tasƟng suīering and death. He hung between two worlds: heaven and earth. Life would have been much simpler for Jesus if he stayed in heaven with the
Father. This world, for Jesus, was not safe. But by entering our world, he invited sorrow and pain into his life. He was misunderstood and not appreciated. He died a naked, lonely death on a cross, hanging literally between heaven and earth” (p. 189). A favorite Christmas carol resounds, “See Him in a manger laid.” However, the story of incarnaƟon and redempƟon doesn’t end at the manger. It also heralds, “See him on a cross nailed.” Fast forward from the cradle to the cross. The heavens are now silent. The angels that joyfully sang at His birth 33 years earlier now have to be restrained from rescuing Him from the cross. Instead of a star in east, the noon skies turn black and the earth quakes beneath the weight of the cross. There are no giŌs oīered as He hangs between heaven and earth. Soldiers gamble for his clothes amid the insults and cries of mockery from the crowd. Take another look at the foot of the cross. There you will Įnd the one who pushed him through the birth canal 33 years earlier. She so desperately longs to pull him from the tunnel of death. The hand that wiped his face clean from amnioƟc Ňuid, now yearns to clean the spiƩle of others from his face. As her Son, and the Son of the Father, hung suspended between two worlds, hers and the heavenly Father’s, her heart ached. Indeed, Simeon’s words rung true, “A sword will pierce your very soul” (Luke Ϯ:3ϱ NLT). However, Simeon also prophesied “He will be the greatest joy to many others” (v. 34). Indeed, the wonder of the incarnaƟon, simply put, is that since He moved into my neighborhood, I can one day, move into His.
Dr. Timothy A. Harper Overseer, Great Lakes Region
MaƩhew Ϯ:10 . . . “when they saw the STAR, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Cloistered behind gated communiƟes, the hillsides of California are splaƩered with Įve to ten million dollar houses, some with statuelined swimming pools with water cascading down into the pools. A few miles away in downtown Beverly Hills, are marble slabs laid in wet concrete in the shape of a star with handprints of famous STARS pressed into them for tourists to see and admire. This is the lifestyle of the STARS. However, the shine will eventually wear away and a new generaƟon will forget the names of those embossed in the marble. Two thousand years ago, a small group of astrologers were in deep discussion over a NEW STAR that was bigger and brighter than any they had ever recorded in their historical journals. So much so they decided to follow this one. The Magis’ new desert travels used only the STAR for guidance and seamen for their direcƟon on the stormy seas. They could not shake the desire to follow, even though they had to follow at night. Soon aŌer several nights and days of travel, they noƟced the STAR had stopped over a parƟcular house. The Wise Men knocked gently on the door and were greeted by a mature man and a young girl who was holding a liƩle boy. They could not hold back the tears, nor could their excitement and joy be held inside. A Spirit of the living God overwhelmed them with worship and giŌ-giving. They had followed HIS STAR and found direcƟon for life! No! not in a gated community, nor in blocks of marble, but in the living Body of the Baby Jesus . . . Emmanuel. The Wise Men had found God in the Ňesh and they returned home another way. Sixty-four years ago, this writer found that same STAR on a Christmas night on Eighth Avenue in North Nashville, Tennessee. He, as well as millions, have found direcƟon for their travels in their deserts and while on their stormy seas. While new generaƟons may forget the “OLD STARS” with handprints on marble slabs, and may forget the parades of the famous STARS, the shopping malls, etc, we know the STAR that guided the WISE over two thousand years ago, will be celebrated in many churches. He will sƟll be Lord of Lords and King of Kings forever . . . forever. He will never be forgoƩen because He is Jesus, our Lord and Savior . . . EMMANhEL, God with us!!
Fred S. Fisher, Sr. General Overseer Emeritus
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This is a wonderful Ɵme of the year. It’s Christmas, a Ɵme of celebraƟon. We give thanks to God for sending Jesus to the world to save us from our sins. He was the perfect sacriĮce. He is the reason for this season. He is the greatest giŌ that anyone could ever receive for Christmas. What is it that we feel in our hearts this Christmas? Are our thoughts of what we may receive this year? Is it the food we may eat? Or is it the feeling of sorrow for the ones who won’t be here this Christmas? Do we feel all alone or unloved? We are never alone when Jesus lives inside us—He is extraordinary. He does amazing things in our lives. He came to us as a babe. He was born of an earthly mother and a spiritual Father. There had never been another like this birth. It was extraordinary. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, The everlasƟng Father, The Prince of Peace.” Even the shepherds knew He came. They saw a light and an angel told them of this extraordinary babe. They had to hurry to the place and see Him for themselves. It was the one they had waited for. He was the Messiah born pure and holy. He
was born to save the world. He would be the perfect sacriĮce. He was extraordinary: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I being you good Ɵdings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke Ϯ:10, 11). The wise men saw the star and followed it. It took them two years to travel to where He was. They marveled and brought Him giŌs of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and worshiped Him. “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him giŌs; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (MaƩhew Ϯ:11). Even at the age of twelve, He was extraordinary. He grew strong in spirit. He was Įlled with wisdom. He was so remarkable that He sat with the physicians in the temple both hearing them and asking them quesƟons. “And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke Ϯ:47). He soon grew to become a man. He matured in wisdom and stature and with favor with His Father and man. He loved mankind. He helped people wherever He journeyed. Many were healed, delivered,
and followed Him. The people knew if they could get to Jesus they would be whole. Only His touch could free them. Jesus knew the Ɵme was near for Him to give His life. So He prayed to His Father. In Luke ϮϮ:4Ϯ, He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me. Never the less not my will, but thine be done.” He prayed earnestly and His sweat was as it were drops of blood falling to the ground. He was scourged with 39 lashes upon Him and never opened His mouth. Those wounds can cure any disease that we can possibly get. Isaiah ϱ3:ϱ says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquiƟes: the chasƟsement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed.” He was then nailed to a cross. He was cruciĮed for all of us. He willingly gave His life for all, and became the path for us to get to God. He was then placed in a borrowed tomb. And on the third day He arose. He now lives forevermore. And because of this extraordinary Man, we have eternal life and will never be alone. This is why we celebrate this Christmas and every day to come. Jesus is alive and well! Praise His name forever! Let us celebrate our extraordinary Savior, the best present we have ever received.
Rita Ford Autryville, North Carolina
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͞Where is he that is ďorn <ing of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east͕ and are come to worship him͟ (MaƩhew Ϯ:Ϯ). Since civilizaƟon began, stars have been used as Global PosiƟoning Systems (GPS). God made the Įrmament on the second day of His CreaƟon, which we call heaven. On the fourth day, God populated His heavens with lights; of which two were greater and more signiĮcant than the others. One of these two great heavenly bodies gives light to rule the day and the other gives light to rule the night. Stars have rescued wandering travelers since the sixth day of God’s creaƟon. As for the wisemen, “The star͕ which theǇ had seen in the east͕ went on ďefore them unƟl it came and stood over the place where the Child was͟ (MaƩhew Ϯ:ϵ). The Bible refers in a most striking manner to the height of the stars—that is to their distance from the earth. “Is not God in the height of heaven? nd see how loŌǇ are the highest star͊͟ (Joď ϮϮ:ϭϮ NIs). The honor of being the Įrst to measure the distance from the earth to a star other than the sun must be given to the German astronomer Friedrich Bessel. In 1838, he calculated the distance to 61 Cygni as 11 light-years from Earth. Today, astronomers have several methods for measuring distances. For objects within the Milky Way, most methods employ the technique of parallax. For objects outside our galaxy, astronomers use the Cepheid variables. A Cepheid variable (named aŌer the star Delta Cephei) is a type of star that displays constant variaƟons in its brightness. Whatever the cosmic discoveries might become, “the sun is of one kind of splendor͕ the moon another and the stars another͟ (ϭ Corinthians ϭϱ:ϰϭ), the challenge to follow the star remains a very real one. Astronomers have idenƟĮed that stars are diīerent in color, in size, in density, in temperature, and in total amount of light emiƩed. The sun, around which the earth revolves, is an average star in size. While it is over one million Ɵmes as large as the earth, there are some stars that are one million Ɵmes as large as the sun. 14
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Although God has placed humankind under the decree of His stars, there are at least two biblical examples whereby He allowed otherwise. Firstly, God allowed Joshua to make the sun to stand sƟll (Joshua 10:1Ϯ); Second, He granted King Hezekiah a sign saying, “I will make the shadow cast ďǇ the sun go ďack the ten steps it has gone down on the stairwaǇ of haǌ͟ (Isaiah ϯϴ:ϴ NIs). When we follow The star, wonderful things happen. Throughout biblical history, the compass for travel was heavenly stars. During unenlightened Ɵmes, navigators of ships and other craŌs were equally guided by heavenly stars. In these post-modern Ɵmes, electronic GPS will be reduced to toys of destrucƟon, if their technologies are not following the stars. To the same, we cannot ignore the Old Testament analogies which link us to the prophecies of the beauƟful star of Bethlehem: “There shall come a Star out of Jacoď͕ and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel͟ (Numďers Ϯϰ:ϭϳ). One of the many sins of the children of Israel was that of worshiping idols. They wanted to worship the sun, moon and the stars, but in Deuteronomy 4:19, God warned them not to indulge in such worship. God is summoning all to follow The star and worship Him: “Where is he that is ďorn <ing of the Jews? we have seen his star in the east͕ and are come to worship him͟ (MaƩhew Ϯ:Ϯ). Herod’s intenƟons were not to follow and worship the star in earnest. Because of this, the wise men were warned by God in a dream that they should not return to Herod. Disobeying the king was only expedient when God’s words were spoken into the hearing of all of the king’s men. Like the wise men, God will conƟnue to watch over those whom He loves; He knows how to foil the purposes of the wicked, and to deliver His own out of the hands of those who would destroy them. O yes! He is forever guiding the pilgrims through night-seasons. If we let Him, He will lead us over our spiritual mountains ͚Ɵl the
break of dawn. He wants to take us into the land of perfect day. We might not be able to follow along bearing tangible gifts for the Star of Bethlehem. GiŌs of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh are challenging to come by. We can bring ourselves; our shaƩered dreams, the scars which our selĮsh choices aīord us, and the needless pains we bear. Following the star will bring us into a Ɵme of rejoicing, as we herald the angels’ song. If we follow-on, we will soon come to the place where “the star stood over”. Following the star will bring forth melody such as: “O beauƟful star of Bethlehem, shine on”. This star can overshadow economic perils, emoƟonal crises, social sƟgmas, and the darkness of racial bias. To the apostle John, Jesus is his “ďright and Morning Star͟ (RevelaƟon ϮϮ:ϭϲ); who is He to you? Jesus, the star of Bethlehem, has come to be joy giver to our troubled world and the Ɵme to follow Him is now! We have tried all the choices which the world has oīered, so why not follow the best? As His beauƟful star shines on, may it light your way unto perfect days, throughout this YuleƟde season and the years ahead.
Dr. hzziah B. Cooper, Sr. BergenĮeld, New Jersey
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nd MarǇ said: “MǇ soul magniĮes the Lord͕ nd mǇ spirit has reũoiced in God mǇ Savior. &or He has regarded the lowlǇ state of His maidservant͖ &or ďehold͕ henceforth all generaƟons will call me ďlessed. &or He who is mightǇ has done great things for me͕ nd holǇ is His name. nd His mercǇ is on those who fear Him &rom generaƟon to generaƟon. He has shown strength with His arm͖ He has scaƩered the proud in the imaginaƟon of their hearts. He has put down the mightǇ from their thrones͕ nd eǆalted the lowlǇ. He has Įlled the hungrǇ with good things͕ nd the rich He has sent awaǇ emptǇ. He has helped His servant Israel͕ In rememďrance of His mercǇ͕ s He spoke to our fathers͕ To ďraham and to his seed forever͟ (Luke ϭ:ϰϲͲϱϱ N<Js). Christmas . . . is it really the most wonderful Ɵme of the year? For most people, it is. However, many people Įnd this season stressful and depressing! Some people Įnd it depressing because of a loss of a spouse, family member or friend, who is not here to share Christmas this year. Others Įnd it depressing because of experiences of childhood abuse. The list could go on and on. However, each one can have a song in his/her heart regardless of the things around us if we can keep in mind what president Calvin Coolage said about Christmas in 19Ϯ7. He said, “Christmas is not a day or acƟvity; it is a state of mind.” With that state of mind, we all can keep a song in our heart during Christmas and everyday of the year! Have you noƟced what has happened in our worship services over the past couple weeks? How the music has changed? Around this Ɵme of the year, we change the music and start singing songs such as “O LiƩle Town of Bethlehem,” “Away in a
Manger,” “Joy to the World.” In fact, we know that Christmas is geƫng closer when we hear the songs being played. As Jesus gets closer and closer, we can have a song in our hearts. Mary had a song, too. In fact, we can idenƟfy at least three songs she had. As we do, may it remind us that we too can have songs in our hearts not only during the Christmas Season but through the year.
Mary Had a Song of Praise (vv. 46-49). NoƟce the focus of Mary’s praise is God. Nine Ɵmes she uses the word “He.” Six Ɵmes she uses the word “His.” She also uses words like “Lord,” “God,” and “Savior.” When we are praising God—there is no Ɵme for a pity party. Praise always moves us out of negaƟvity, because praise focuses on the posiƟve. If anyone had a right to have a pity party it was Mary. She was young, pregnant, and single. Can you hear the gossip? Can you image the stories? But noƟce what she does—let the singing begin: “I don’t have to defend myself. I don’t have to explain my situaƟon. I don’t have to understand it. God is in control. Praise the Lord! There is no scandal. There is no shame. There is no fear. There is praise.”
Mary Had a Song of Purpose (vv. 51–53). God “scaƩered the proud,” “put down the mighty,” “exalted the lowly,” “Įlled the hungry.” These are the acƟons of God, who is in the middle of the situaƟon. God is in control. He has a purpose for what is happening.
How to Have a During the Dr. Fred A. Lawson Regional Presiding Bishop
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NoƟce the song is not about Mary, although she played a major role in this drama. The song is about God. He is breaking into history. His purpose will be fulĮlled. His plan will come to pass. Whatever is going on in your life, it’s not all about you. It’s about God wanƟng to break into your life. Into you home, into your holiday, into you heart. God has a purpose for what you are going through. He wants to be in the middle of your life. He doesn’t want your problems to be the center of your life. He doesn’t want your circumstances to be the center of your life. He doesn’t want your situaƟon to be the center of your life. God, Himself, wants to be the center of your life. Are you leƫng Him? “Nothing is impossiďle with God.͟
Mary Had a Song of Promise (vv. 54, 55) In verse ϱϱ, Mary menƟons Abraham. Remember God made a promise to Abraham? “I will make you a great naƟon, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 1Ϯ:Ϯ, 3). There are several things God can’t do? One of them is He cannot lie. When God says through Abraham all the families of the earth shall be blessed, they will be. Jesus is a descendent of Abraham. God sent the savior of the enƟre world as a descendant of Abraham; the Son of Mary. Mary was a very young girl, when the angle Gabriel came to her.
No one would have paid any aƩenƟon to her because she wasn’t wealthy or important. She was a simple peasant girl living in a small insigniĮcant village. Had she died, probably few would have noƟced, except for one thing—God chose her to be the mother of the Savior of the world. From this passage of Scripture, we have learned that Mary had a song in her heart during a very diĸcult yet blessed Ɵme in her life. It was not based on a day, event or circumstance; it was a state of mind. A state of mind focused on the true meaning of Christmas. This put songs in her heart; a song of praise, which was focused on God (vv. 46-49), a song of purpose, not hers but God’s (vv. ϱ1-ϱ3), and Įnally, she had a song of promise—the birth of a Saviour through the seed of Abraham (v. ϱϱ). The song of her heart was not centered around her but God’s Son, Jesus Christ! Like Mary, you can have a song in your heart if you will ask Jesus to be the center of your life. This season, why not put a song in your heart—a song of praise, a song of purpose, and a song of promise—all centered around the Saviour? If you do not know Jesus as your personal Saviour, the Word of God tells us, “if we come unto Him, He will in no wise cast us out” (John 6:37). “Call on the name of the Lord and we shall be saved” (Acts Ϯ:Ϯ1). “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleans us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:0). If you do what the Scriptures advise, you will become a ChrisƟan and God will give you a song during Christmas—of praise, of purpose, and of promise.
Song Christmas Season
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Cherished Christmas Memories hristmas celebraƟons vary from country to country, from region to region and from family to family. Even within the same family, this ChrisƟan holiday can vary from year to year depending on circumstances. One year, there was a special visit from relaƟves from abroad aŌer years of going it alone. I remember another Christmas in Spain when a storm caused the lights to go out and water dripped from the ceiling right onto the turkey, not to menƟon onto the burning logs in the chimney, leaving us with no heat. Memorable, but not as much fun. We loved the one in southern Germany when we were invited by the Avila’s, a lovely family of Mexican descent, that made home-made meat, bean, and raisin-and-cinnamon tamales. Mmmm. Our 8-month old son got his Įrst liƩle guitar as a present; liƩle did we know he would grow up to be a Įne musician. Of course, I could never forget the Christmas in Holland when I gave my heart to Jesus Christ, no longer just a Įgure in a manger, but a real friend and Savior of my soul. But I would love to share another meaningful Christmas celebraƟon that occurred in Germany in our modest Įrst Ňoor apartment of a very old but lovely house. Since we had no relaƟves nearby, we had a custom of inviƟng other people to celebrate together who had no family either. But this year I had a miserable Ňu so we had not invited anyone. This was not tragic. Christmas was every day to us. I believe it was the day before Christmas and I managed to get out of bed to go to church. There was a very nice Italian girl who was on her own that year. Her husband had leŌ her and the children were with him for the holidays. My heart went out to her. She would have been the perfect “candidate” to invite over, but how was I to do this? I felt so weak, and to complete the scene, I had no fesƟve foods to prepare for a meal. Nor did we have any money to buy anything. Even if we did, I’d be coughing and sniĸng over the meal.
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Just about ready to get back home, longing to lay back down, we got into a short conversaƟon and I explained we would have loved to share her company if it weren’t for the circumstances. She was so gracious and expressed that the food was no maƩer to her. And then she pointed out that there was another man, from Italy as well, who was also alone. Long story short, we ended up inviƟng them both over and between all of us, we improvised a meal. What could be beƩer, faster, and more inexpensive than Italian pasta? Mario brought a home-made tomato sauce slow-brewed by Mamma back in Sicily. Katja brought a Įne desert. We managed to buy a half a pound of chopped meat, and had some salad and spagheƫ at home. Voilá, instant gourmet dinner! I was sƟll ailing so (to everyone’s delight) I leŌ the bulk of the conversaƟon to my husband and our guests. The atmosphere was peaceful, but bright. The dinner was so delicious I could hardly believe it was just spagheƫ. The children behaved so Įne and didn’t seem to mind the modest giŌ at all. But the climax of the evening was when Katja said a prayer of repentance and made a commitment to the Lord. The Christ child came once again into the world, to be light to her life, and to bring joy and saƟsfacƟon to our hearts as we rejoiced with her. What a splendid Christmas aŌer all. Whether your Christmas holiday this year is adorned with sparkle or cluƩer, whether you savor a roast or leŌ-over soup, whether you celebrate in family or all alone, ill or in the Įnest of health, I wish you a blessed and Merry Christmas with the best giŌ of all—peace and good will toward men. Jude Enxuto Barcelona
Palace I N
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So lowly our place in this life, we dare not disturb those that have gathered in the cave! We dare not oīend such a moment with our unworthy stench! Oh, yes, we had just witnessed the most glorious celebration in the heavens! Yes, we trembled and fell to our knees in the pasture among our sheep! Yes, we heard the announcement of the promised Messiah! And, yes, after we had gained our composure, standing to our feet, our eyes still blinded by the display of light and our ears still ringing with the heavenly declaraƟon in song, we were compelled to seek the One who had provoked such a display of glory! But, now, as we stand here in the cool of the night, dare we assume our welcome into such a majesƟc event, into the presence of the One that is to redeem us from our fallen state? Our natural craving to witness such a thing has drawn us to this humble place. But, why are our chests aŇame? Why do we tremble so helplessly as we gently step toward the brilliance cascading from the shelter of the cave? The torch within cannot provide such a display of light, yet, it appears as if heaven itself has been unveiled within its dark, cavernous walls! Our strength has abandoned us, and left us on our knees, yet we move so quietly, ever so gently toward the source of the light. Our heads are bowed, our eyes dare not be lifted. Oh, but we cannot contain our curiosity, our craving to see this which we have come to witness! As the mother looks toward us, we quickly bow our heads in fear, but she gently smiles, and with a kind gesture, we finally receive our royal invitaƟon into the palace in the cave. So, fearfully we move toward the holy family, watching for any hint to cease our advance, but none is given. We move as close as our throbbing hearts will allow. Should we breathe? Should we liŌ our eyes to behold the King? Should we speak? Or should we simply sit here in the holiness of His presence? There, tightly wrapped in white linen, lying in the manger of stone among the grain, the fulĮllment of the ancient prophecies rests quietly. His mother’s eyes are Įlled with wonder. Her husband standing by her side, never acknowledging our presence, nor speaking a welcoming word, stands in obvious awe of what he has witnessed. Even as we were drawn into this humble palace, we understand when it is time to return to our charges in the pasture. We leave the holy family as gently as we entered, glancing about ever so carefully to insƟll into our memory the events of this blessed eve. Finally, facing the Įelds and liŌing our eyes toward the heavens, we realize that indeed, God is with us! TonǇ Comer Brunswick Georgia
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As Christmas is straight ahead, the inevitable New Year is around the corner. We look back at our year and begin to think about how Ɵme has Ňown. With loved ones leaving the world and new babies entering it, we can’t help but wonder what the near future holds. So begin the New Years’ resoluƟons, a list of things we’d like to improve in the upcoming year. Each of our resoluƟons will be diīerent, from changing jobs, losing weight or managing our prioriƟes. Yet, I’m sure at the heart of every resoluƟon comes a universal desire to be the best we can be. However, what about our spiritual resoluƟons list? Where would we begin? A good place to start could be recognizing where and when in the past year, did we let God take control of our situaƟons. Would this discovery Įnd us pleased or disappointed—or something else enƟrely? I’d like to share some of the outcomes from just one of my spiritual resoluƟons for Ϯ01Ϯ. Through the simple resoluƟon to read my Bible daily, I have noƟced my hunger for the Lord has culƟvated immensely. Let me start by being honest. I really struggled with consistent Bible reading. I would oŌen Įnd it confusing and irrelevant. However, I completely trusted that the Bible was the crux of my apparent beliefs. So I made a deal with God: I would take Ɵme to read this Book each day but I needed Him ready to answer some quesƟons. I had no intenƟons to study each verse, work out the original Hebrew, Greek or LaƟn, then interpret that to what He may have meant or follow it up by checking what the famous theologians thought about it and so on. I knew this Book was for everyone; surely if God wanted me to understand something, He would be willing to let me in on it. He was indeed willing. Awesome things began happening as a result of this consistent Bible reading. With each day the Bible was coming to life. SituaƟons would arise between family, friends, strangers, and myself that would align to the Scriptures I had read 20
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that morning. The Holy Spirit knew how to help me comprehend what I was reading. I started recognizing more and more how simple His Word was. Which is how it should be, right? AŌer all, it’s a Book to be read and understood by everyone, not a code to be cracked. It is love in wriƩen form. Because others in my family and church were reading their Bible with the same seeking heart, we began pursuing His Word as a unit. The year conƟnued and God started revealing Himself in beauƟful ways. We were receiving manifestaƟons of His glory through the spontaneous arrival of feathers,
Shouldn’t we want to see a year that is Įlled with His Word coming to life? Let’s take a step back, be willing to let go of our to-do lists and wait upon Him. It is urgent that we suit up and be who we’ve been given authority to be in Christ. We are His body. The Kingdom of heaven has suīered violence and the violent are taking it by force (MaƩhew 11:1Ϯ). Going into the New Year, if we’re not claiming all that He has promised us, why conƟnue in this ͚religion’? If we’re not seeing a vast diīerence in our lives as ChrisƟans, and the lives of our unbelieving friends, what’s the point? This is why the world has no interest in
gemstones, and fresh oil in our church and daily lives. This was all new to us, as we’d yet to learn that these wonders were happening to believers across the world. Going deeper into Scripture, we started exploring the promises in His Word. We believed any promise made by God must be important. We would no longer look at the promises metaphorically or discard them as ancient covenants irrelevant to us today. We began taking them literally and claimed them as true. You know what? Even more things have started happening. A Įre has begun within our church body to see God’s promises revealed and the simplicity of His Word taught, speciĮcally in healing. We are reveling in the breakthrough of understanding that His healing promises are legit. What an awakening it has been! We have Įnally started accepƟng that God desires us all to be whole and that He wants to heal us ASAWB (As Soon As We Believe). Do you know what is possible when we get rid of our unbelief? Everything! Jesus said so Himself (Mark 9:Ϯ3). Imagine if we were believers that actually believed the Bible? Shouldn’t we want more than mediocre ChrisƟanity?
ChrisƟanity. They see no dissimilarity, except, to them, we’re more judgmental, we don’t have fun and we have to get up early on Sundays. Why would they want any part of it? But what if they begin to see you as someone who is glowing with love, bearing no illnesses and walking with conĮdence that shows no trace of fear—basically someone who lives the Word! They will start to wonder what you have that they don’t. Before the ball is dropped and the New Year rolls in, let’s open our hearts and ask God to take complete control over our lives. Let’s ask Him to take away the fears of the world and the pride we’ve gained in our selves. Pray He replaces this with His omnipotent love and His endless knowledge. As I glimpse into the upcoming year, I do not know all it holds. But as a result of my Ϯ01Ϯ spiritual resoluƟon to daily read my Bible, I can conĮdently claim the following for Ϯ013:
Ringing In The
ͻ I will conƟnue to consume His Word like never before. ͻ I will conƟnue to request understanding of Scriptures that I don’t comprehend. ͻ I will be pushed outside of my comfort zone in trusƟng His promises. WWW.WHITEWINGMESSENGER.ORG
ͻ I will conƟnue to see people healed physically and spiritually. ͻ I will conƟnue to be seen foolish and perhaps persecuted for my adoraƟon of Him. But I know for this I’ll be blessed! ͻ I will claim who I am in Him and the authority He has given me because He did not die in vain. ͻ I will no longer base my understanding of the Word on my circumstances or that of people I know. If He says through faith I will do greater things than He did, then this I’ll do (John 14:1Ϯ).
We may not know the worldly details of the upcoming year, the things that worry us. But by purely knowing who we are in Him, we are more than protected. Go ahead, write down a spiritual resoluƟon list and set it before God with an open and ready heart. If you’re going to believe and accept some parts of the Bible (like where we go when we die), let’s believe for all of it (like how we’re expected to live while we’re on Earth). Let God know that you believe it and you receive it. Watch how allowing Him total control will be the most exciƟng thing you have done this year and will conƟnue as the foundaƟon for the most exciƟng things you’ll do next year. Please keep praying for the church here in Australia as we are awaiƟng revival. Please also share your stories as He moves in your area and fulĮlls your spiritual resoluƟon list. He wants to do it (John 14:13). Don’t keep this to yourself. Share His work in your life, so that we can encourage and upliŌ one another, but ulƟmately so we can glorify our Father. With so much love, from Down hnder,
Kiara Casey-Rengifo Queensland, Australia
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shleǇ J. GuidrǇ WaƩerson͕ Louisiana
WWM D E C E M B E R 2012
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall Įnd the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke Ϯ:1Ϯ). The babe became known as the Word, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, and several other Ɵtles. In the tenth and eleventh verses of Luke 1Ϯ, we Įnd an angel delivering this message; “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good Ɵdings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” What we may understand here is that the infant Jesus Christ was born in the Ňesh in order that men and women of Ňesh may be saved. Christ’s mission to this world of ours was to seek the lost so that they may be reconciled to the heavenly Father. Believers in the Lord Jesus have known for ages that the coming of the Savior would take place in Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David. The world had received the Son of God who had come to do the will of God. We lean to the words of Isaiah as he prophesied; “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasƟng Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). As we go through the Word, we will Įnd that an angel spoke to Joseph, and to Mary, a virgin, leƫng them know that the birth of the Lord personally concerned them. To many of us, a virgin bearing a child would seem to be impossible to human reasoning, but to the Almighty God who created human beings, as well as other things, it is very possible. God sent an angel to the shepherds, who were with their Ňocks, telling them of the birth of the long-awaited Messiah so they could see for themselves this babe in swaddling clothes in a manger. They were to see signs that would not be ones beĮƫng majesty for the King of kings and Lord of lords. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and
An inward peace that is received for pardoned ƐŝŶƐĂŶĚƌĞĐŽŶĐŝůŝĂƟŽŶǁŝƚŚ'ŽĚŝƐĂĨĂƌŐƌĞĂƚĞƌ blessing to every believer. see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke Ϯ:1ϱ-16). These shepherds became very anxious to get to Bethlehem to see what the angel had described. They must have been frightened by their surroundings as they arrived at the stable and saw where the Christ Child was laid. They looked at the babe in the manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. They may have told Joseph and Mary about the visitaƟon of the angel and of the praises rendered by the heavenly host! Jesus, being sinless, had taken upon Himself the form of sinful Ňesh, condemning sin in the Ňesh: “The Lord showed a way to freedom from sin, not only to the Jews, but to all who would believe. John wrote; But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:1Ϯ). We celebrate the day that Christ was born as Christmas Day. Some day we will stand in the presence of God the Father who made all this possible. We have heard messages on peace for years and years, since the Ɵme of the early Greeks, of a peace that is diīerent—one that is apart from the peace of Jesus. The Bible tells us that peace will come to the world, but this will only be aŌer Christ has been truly acknowledged as the Prince of Peace. Also, as believers, we who have completely yielded to the Lord, peace can be found in our own lives. No maƩer what circumstances that are in a believer’s life, he can have the “peace that passeth understanding.” This peace is not interrupted by changing events which occur about us. We may have heard about some men who are unsuccessful in Įnding peace due to establishing themselves on false foundaƟons. There is only one dependable foundaƟon for peace in
naƟons—Christ Jesus. The basis of peace is to be at peace with God and the only way this peace can be obtained is to receive God’s Son as Lord and Savior. God has said; “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah ϱ7:Ϯ1). There are Ɵmes when we need to Įnd peace and calm for ourselves and a solemn place where we can communicate with God. It is important that we speak to the Father so as to gain strength that is needed when our energy may have been spent doing necessary things in our lives. Together, to gain strength, we must have peace; to have peace we must have strength (Psalms Ϯ9:11). Living close to God, we know that He is our strength and peace. Christ being born as a human baby, a giŌ of God truly became as one of us. He came to save. Why did He forgive sin? What was the purpose of His work as a Redeemer? Well, most of us can believe that He redeemed sinners in order that He would rule over those who accepted His redempƟve work at Calvary. Jesus was given many wonderful Ɵtles: Savior, Redeemer, and Prince of Peace. Peace is the Lord’s special giŌ to His people. An inward peace that is received for pardoned sins and reconciliaƟon with God is a far greater blessing to every believer. When we come to Him, believing and receiving, we will Įnd in Him all we need for the relief of a troubled mind or heart. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). It isn’t enough for us to have the peace which arises from having a roof over our heads, food, money, and good health. There is a sweeter peace that Jesus named, “My peace.” His peace keeps our hearts and minds alert. As we stand in Jesus, we know that He will keep us safe and content.
WWM D E C E M B E R 2012
“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” Dale Evans
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When we siŌ out commercialism and get down to what Christmas really is about, we have to agree that Christmas is God’s love in acƟon. God sent His only Son to earth to show how much He loves us. SomeƟmes in all of the “busy-ness” of the Christmas season our ministries fail to reŇect to children the real meaning of Christmas. Oh, yes, they hear the Christmas story. They sing Christmas carols. They may even buy presents and give them to others. But have they really comprehended God’s acƟve love that made Christmas a reality and a celebraƟon? What can we do to make that happen?
TELL THE STORY
Almost every child is familiar with the Christmas story—perhaps too familiar. Help the children experience the story as if it was for the very Įrst Ɵme. ͻ Provide preschool children with Įgures of the naƟvity that they can interact with. ͻ Provide props and simple costumes so preschool and early elementary children can act out the Christmas story in their own Ɵme and in their own way. ͻ Place a small baby Jesus Įgure or picture of baby Jesus in a box. Wrap the box in Christmas paper. When the child opens the box (whether on Christmas Day or in your ministry Ɵme) remind him that Jesus is God’s giŌ to us and He is the very best giŌ. ͻ Talk with children about what they
can give God. What giŌ does He want from each of them? ͻ Hide a baby Jesus Įgure and let the “wise men” in your children’s ministry search unƟl they Įnd Him. ͻ Create a Christmas Eve service for the families of your church that engages children in the story of Christmas. You might have staƟons telling the Christmas story—Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem but cannot Įnd a place to stay; baby Jesus is born in a barn; a choir of angels sings wonderful songs announcing the baby’s birth; the shepherds come and worship. At each staƟon provide interacƟve acƟviƟes that the children can do. ͻ Have a birthday party for Jesus. Celebrate with Christmas music, interacƟve games, and birthday cake. Ask each child to bring a wrapped Christmas giŌs containing a toy for a child his age and gender. ͻ Hang a stocking for the Christ child. Let the children Įll it with notes just for Him.
LIVE THE STORY
If Christmas is love in acƟon, let the children live out God’s love. ͻ Challenge older children to become modern-day magi. The magi brought three giŌs to Jesus. What three giŌs can you give to Him? ͻ Money. Ask children to give up something each week before Christmas and then use the money saved to help someone in need.
ͻ Time. Ask children to set aside a certain amount of Ɵme each week to serve at home, in the community, or at church. ͻ Stuī. Encourage the kids to go through all of their stuī and donate something of value to a local charity. ͻ Encourage every child to do something for the pastor and other leaders in your church—a homemade craŌ or snack, a note of thanks, an act of service. ͻ Ring in an internaƟonal Christmas by assigning a country to each child. Besides reporƟng about how that country celebrates the holiday, he or she can prepare a seasonal dish to share, give Christmas greeƟngs in the language of that country, or demonstrate a song or folkdance. Then pray for the people of that culture so that they too might understand the meaning of God’s love. ͻ Ask children to bring in one or two Christmas cards that friends have mailed to their home. Pray together for each person or family whose name is on the card. Take acƟon NOW to make sure that the children in your ministry and in your home get the big picture of what Christmas is all about—God loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world. That is worth celebraƟng! —Kathryn Creasy InternaƟonal irector
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Front row, leŌ to right: Abby Schroader, KrisƟe Minton, Landon AƩerberry, Sarah Roarke, Harper Roarke, Derek Roarke. Back row, leŌ to right: Cameron Roarke, Jennifer Roarke, Troy Erwin, Cheyenne Minton
Central City Lends a Hand
June 8th and 9th were busy days at Fields of the Wood. A group from Central City, Kentucky, worked to raise funds to make their way to Fields of the Wood, volunteering to do whatever needed to be done. AŌer coordinaƟng with the maintenance crew, they spent all of Friday scrubbing and cleaning markers on Prayer Mountain. On Saturday they started painƟng at the altar and worked their way down painƟng each marker and the arch at the foot of the mountain. While most were sweaƟng in the heat, we did have a volunteer who agreed to clean the bapƟsmal pool! Thanks, Sarah! The following weekend was our June 13th FesƟval and many commented on what a diīerence their work had made and how much beƩer the markers looked. Sister KrisƟ Minton wrote: “Thanks so much for allowing us to come and work. We are already planning our trip for next year.” Thanks again, guys! We appreciate all your hard work! If you or maybe a group from your church would like to volunteer your Ɵme and energy to help maintain Fields of the Wood, please contact Wade PaƩerson, Heritage Ministries Θ Fields of the Wood Director, wpaƩersonΛcogop.org or (4Ϯ3) ϱϱ9-ϱ13ϱ. Volunteers are always welcome. It’s hard work but very rewarding. Just ask Central City Church! Wade WaƩerson͕ irector Heritage Ministries
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ConƟnued from page ϲ
When God Comes on the Scene
We all have our trials in life and trying to keep our eyes on God can be challenging at Ɵmes. Since the family has read this, the freedom to open up as to how these past few years have been is easier. There is a need to share this story, because there may be someone who has gone through a similar experience. Receiving the diagnosis of Parkinson‘s Disease on January 6, Ϯ006 was unreal. The neurologist told the diagnosis. Feeling as though it was a death sentence, the tears came. You see, waiƟng for months for a diagnosis of the tremors in my extremiƟes and now hearing the results of all the tests was devastaƟng. Life seemed perfect as a staī nurse at a rural hospital. Nursing was not work. It was a mission. Moreover, God was calling for this heart and life. The mission was to help other people. What will happen now that the mission has ended? That was the quesƟon inside my heart. It seemed life had taken a drasƟc turn. Knowing to turn to God for answers, I prayed earnestly every day and cried myself to sleep at night. My faith had become weak and I could not pray believing that God could change the situaƟon. The Bible was sƟll on the computer desk where I had leŌ it weeks ago. I needed God’s Word but could not pick it up. There was a binding spirit in the room. I needed God to help me. The facts were that the doctor had requested driving and work be terminated. My voice was weaker and I was no longer able to sing in church. Climbing stairs was a challenge. Remembering to turn the stove oī was also a challenge. The feeling of dying bit by bit was overwhelming. One day, listening to the radio, a song came on that was familiar. However, this Ɵme the words seemed to speak to this wounded heart. These were the words: “I miss my Ɵme with you. Those moments together, I need to be with you each day. How can you serve me when your spirit’s empty?” Hearing those words, and feeling God calling my heart back from the valley, that song had the answer. Before this illness, working in church had been rewarding, believing God could change situaƟons. The day of the diagnosis was when faith became weak. God had reached out in a song. He had opened these eyes, to the answer. Reaching for the Bible and opening it, the Įrst Scripture verse God spoke was Isaiah 41:10. These were the words He spoke: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” God knew that communicaƟon with Him every day was the answer to survival. He said in His Word not to be afraid, that He was there, and that He would give strength. God loved me. Now that my heart has found strength in God, doing His will is priority. That is why I felt impressed to share my story. God has even strengthened my voice, so singing in the choir is once again a reality. Someone else may be going through a heavy trial. God will reach us when no one else can.
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Just take one day at a Ɵme now and live them for the Lord. I hope my story will help someone who is going through a trial in his or her life. One thing is for sure, God will give peace where there is none. —Easton &ord͕ utryville͕ North Carolina
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Press Forward at National Youth Camp This year camp was held from July ϱ–8 at Victory Heights in Arouca. The camp focused on encouraging young people to “Press Forward” in spite of whatever situaƟons or challenges they encounter in their lives. There was a signiĮcant increase in the number of persons aƩending camp. In Ϯ009, 63 persons aƩended while 103 aƩended in Ϯ011. In Ϯ01Ϯ, the Lord increased the aƩendance by almost 100 percent. More than Ϯ0ϱ campers aƩended! In addiƟon to the campers, 79 daily visitors (not inclusive of ministers or other specially-invited guests) aƩended the camp. It must be noted that all Ϯ4 churches under the COGOP umbrella were invited to the camp. Out of this, Ϯ1 of the churches had members aƩending the camp, while members from two of the other three churches visited during the course of the camp. Our naƟonal youth directors are Adrian and Kimline Clement. —Bishop Maurice Jones͕ NaƟonal Overseer
With June Gordon
Conversation with a Worship Leader June Gordon, currently living in Tennessee, has a rich history in the Church of God of Prophecy and has served as worship leader for many internaƟonal events such as youth conferences, leadership conferences, and the InternaƟonal Assembly. Here, she shares memories and inspiraƟon for the White Wing Messenger readers.
Do you have a favorite hymn?
I can’t say that I have a favorite. I have favorites, but let’s see if I can narrow it down. I will say, It Is Well, I’ll &ly way͕ When We ll Get to Heaven and Won’t It ďe Wonderful There. WWW.WHITEWINGMESSENGER.ORG
Outdoor acƟvity at camp
Having fun at NaƟonal Youth Camp, July 1Ϯ, Victory Heights Bible Camp
tĂƐŝƚǁŚŝůĞǇŽƵĂƩĞŶĚĞĚƚŚĞŚƵƌĐŚŽĨ'ŽĚŽĨ WƌŽƉŚĞĐǇƚŚĂƚǇŽƵĮƌƐƚĨĞůƚĂĐĂůůƚŽƚŚĞtŽƌƐŚŝƉΘ Praise ministry?
It deĮnitely was while I was aƩending but I cannot pinpoint the exact moment that I “felt” the call. I joined the young adult choir in the church at about 16. So, it was someƟme aŌer that. At that age people tell you that you have an ability and you tend to go with what people tell you. I remember I would do solos during our youth service. Ministry just began to build from there.
Were you mentored by anyone?
Yes, I was! Palma Hutchinson and PauleƩe MarƟn mentored me. Palma recognized the call on my life to be a worship leader. She was the Įrst person to give me the opportunity to lead worship at a local convenƟon and a youth convenƟon. She also has hosted several workshops on worship that I aƩended. PauleƩe MarƟn also inŇuenced me with her direcƟng style. Oh, and I can’t forget Clayton Harris. I learned from him what obedience was.
A great staī made this endeavor possible.
tŽƵůĚǇŽƵƐĂǇĂƚƐŽŵĞƉŽŝŶƚƚŚĂƚŝƚǁĂƐĐŽŶĮƌŵĞĚ for you that this is where the Lord wanted to take you in ministry? Yes, but not audibly. I somehow knew it in my spirit that this is where He would have me.
Is there a lesson that you have learned in your years of ministry?
Yep! Obey the spirit of the Lord. If you hear the Spirit of the Lord telling you to do something, do not ignore it!
If you could pass on any words of wisdom to upcoming worship leaders what would that be?
Humble yourself. A degree does not enable you to know the heart of God. You have to seek God’s face. Do not allow head knowledge to supersede spiritual knowledge. Also, seek a mentor. Sit underneath people who have been in the ministry for awhile. conƟnued on neǆt page
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WORLDVIEW (continued) What components do you think makes for a good worship leader? As I menƟoned before you must be willing to follow the leading of the Lord. Follow aŌer God’s heart. That is nonnegoƟable! You should always be looking to do beƩer and always on top of whatever the task is. You need to promote God, not yourself. You can be a worship leader with a team beside you or no team at all. It’s beƩer to have the team beside you. You cannot do it by yourself.
Speaking of worship teams, you have ministered with quite a few. What do you think makes a cohesive worship team?
There are a couple of things. You must know your team, their strengths and weaknesses, what goes on in their lives, etc. I guess what I am geƫng at is that you must have a relaƟonship with them that extends beyond the Ɵme in rehearsal. You should spend Ɵme together in rehearsal but also spend Ɵme together outside of rehearsals: go out to eat, chat for a liƩle while. If you only have a rapport on Sundays and during rehearsals the ministry will only go but so far. The relaƟonship I have with the worship teams that I minister with is based on the Ɵme we have spent together and all of us growing spiritually.
What do you do to prepare when you are going to lead worship?
Another one is I don’t like wasƟng people’s Ɵme. I must accomplish something when I bring people together. People must not leave the same way that they came in. I also really take issue with people who do not live what they say. And my last one is singing oī key.
Meditate, pray, and listen to the songs over and over. I try to envision the songs being sung in the seƫng. I also have several phone conferences and prayer sessions with the team. I am extremely cauƟous about my conversaƟons, speech etc. (Laughs) I cry a lot, I go through the mill. I’m just a basket case for Jesus!
zŽƵĞīĞĐƟǀĞůǇůĞĂĚƉĞŽƉůĞŝŶƚŽǁŽƌƐŚŝƉ͘,ŽǁĚŽ you usher yourself into the presence of the Lord in your closet moments?
So tell us, do you have any pet peeves when it comes to ministry?
What is something people don’t know about you?
I do. I hate being late. If someone has to be late I do not want it to be me. If we say 3:00, I need to be there at 2:4ϱ.
You may be surprised by this but I don’t listen to a lot of music. I usually meditate, read the Word, talk to the Lord, be sƟll, be quiet.
This may be hard to believe, but I am very shy. I do not like being in front of crowds.
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New Churches West Palm Beach, Florida organized on September 23; Pastor Berisford Francis. Weiser, Idaho organized on September 16; Pastor Oscar Padilla.
Thank you, Jesus, for every step of your journey from a baby to a triumphant king.
The Weight of the World When I Įrst saw it, the image of this month’s cover really grabbed me. Isn’t he beauƟful? The newborn baby is blissfully unaware of his surroundings, being cradled in loving hands. I have newborn twins at home so I can tesƟfy that, between the cries, a sleeping baby is a beauƟful and welcome sight to behold and be heard. You look upon their small faces and wonder what they might be dreaming (“Feed me!”). Lately, I’ve considered why people decide to have children. There are couples that may start out saying, “No way,” and now have their own baseball team. What changed? My wife and I always wanted children. Our reasons were that we felt an overwhelming desire to share our love and we wanted our older daughter to have a friend (she now has two) to grow up with. Other parents may feel the need to have someone to carry on the family name or be the heir to a sprawling estate. Some may have children hoping to re-live their own glory days vicariously through them. They may push a child to their own areas of interest, hoping the child will succeed where the parent has failed. I admit that if my daughters have a
million-dollar idea and want to take care of Mommy and Daddy, I will not protest too much. Sadly, some babies are conceived to save a relaƟonship. In a scene mimicked in soap operas and moƟon pictures, the man decides to exit the relaƟonship, but before he does, the bombshell pregnancy announcement is dropped. Cue the dramaƟc music. A baby is coming and, perhaps, he or she will save the day. According to staƟsƟcs, it rarely works in real life, but someƟmes it is just the nudge into maturity that one or both of the parents may need. “We have a baby to take care of now, so we have to grow up and accept this responsibility.” As the baby develops inside of the mother, growing along with him or her are the expectaƟons and hopes of the parents—being the perfect child, pulling the parents back together, following in the family footsteps, buying the parents a new home (okay, that last one was mine). Parents spend hours shopping for clothes and accessories, rearranging their lives and their homes. And then an innocent newborn steps into a world that has been anxiously awaiƟng the arrival and all of the wonderful, glorious pieces of heaven that come with it. For an eight-pound baby, opening his eyes to the world for the Įrst Ɵme, bearing the weight of a crumbling
relaƟonship or the dreams of a parent is unthinkable. His jobs are preƩy simple—cry, sleep, eat, and then do it all again. Even if he had the awareness and maturity, he could try his very best and sƟll not come close to meeƟng the needs and wishes set before him. As the season approaches to celebrate the glory of the greatest child ever born, I consider the “hopes and fears of all the years” that preceded His arrival, the burden that hung around His Ɵny shoulders. He’s crying in the cold and yet the tears of billions and billions of the spiritually hungry and hope-starved are His responsibility. His fragile body alerts Him to His hunger, but soon, He would be the one providing nourishment to those who hunger and thirst, with streams of living water that would never be depleted. He would frustrate the expectaƟons of many and yet exceed the expectaƟons of all. Thank you, Jesus, for every step of your journey from a baby to a triumphant king. You cried, You laughed, You hungered, You learned, You loved, and You redeemed. eWayne Hamby Managing Editor
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From the International OfďŹ ces of the Church of God of Prophecy
The December 2012 issue of the White Wing Messenger, the official publication of the Church of God of Prophecy