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Thinking He was

in their company

Other than His birth, the only story from Jesus' childhood occurred when He was 12 years old. A routine trip to and from Jerusalem turned into a drama when Mary and Joseph discovered that they didn't know where Jesus was. The Gospel of Luke tells us that they left Jerusalem thinking He was in their company (2:44). In the preparations to head home and the packing of their bags and gathering of food they would need along the way, their most precious cargo of all was left behind.

It shouldn't be thought that Mary and Joseph failed in their parental responsibilities or that they did not love Jesus. Mary assumed that Jesus was with Joseph while Joseph was certain He was with Mary. In assuming that Jesus was among them, they moved along and made good time before the awful truth dawned on them. They thought He was in their company... but in fact, He was not.

Too many of us approach yet another Sunday having never uttered a word of invitation to our great Lord to make Himself welcome among us. We plan our programs without ever seeking His leading and then ask Him to bless that for which He has been an afterthought. We go and see our friends, sing some songs we either like or dislike and finally listen to or daydream through whatever might be served up from the pulpit. That the altar is empty, that there is no sense of God's Spirit at work among us often is of little concern. We had a good day at the corps today. But He was not in our company. Grieved that we spoke around Him rather than to Him, saddened that we sought for an experience instead of a Savior, distressed that we have focused more on lifting our emotions instead of bowing our hearts before Him, He has been absent from our company. We hardly missed a beat.

A group of seminary students decided to visit Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, to hear the "Prince of Preachers," Charles Spurgeon, and hopefully discover the secret of his spiritual power. An elderly man greeted them as they walked in and asked, "Would you like to see the church's heating plant?" Stacks of coal and dirty pipes in a dark basement were among the last things that the students wanted to see, but out of respect they followed him down into a large open room where they saw over 700 people in earnest prayer for the meetings of the day. "This," said the wise man, "is what heats this church." Judging from the thousands who sought and found Christ at the church, God blessed where He was invited.

Someone will remark that because God is omnipresent, He is always in every gathering of believers. But there is a difference in treating God as another spectator in the stands and seeing Him as the star of the game. Frequently what we call worship is a performance for each other rather than setting the stage for the One whose breath brought life to dust. Worship - to be real worship - does not assume that the Lord is in our company. Worship is our heart's pledge that if He will not go with us we will not go, that we would rather suffocate than take a breath without Him, that if He will not be our song we shall never sing a note again.

If you did not pray for God's presence in this Sunday's meetings, then kneel now at the Mercy Seat and seek forgiveness of the Holy One you have ignored. Don't assume someone else has invited Him or excuse yourself because others have not. It is your prayer He is waiting to hear, your heart He is longing to fill. Like Mary and Joseph, retrace your steps until you find the place where you left Him behind.

Get on your knees

It had been snowing just as we arrived home on the night after Christmas. As the road became steeper, the car's tires started to spin. We were not able to go any higher - in fact, the car began sliding backwards!

One tire even slipped into a ditch, but we were able to back out - only to start a slow slide again. The car had turned a little sideways, and we felt both helpless and petrified with fear. Fortunately we were now able to pull straight into a neighbor's driveway.

Now that we were stopped safely, and off of the road itself, the next order of business was to walk across the street and up the hill to our house. Easier said than done.

I had a snow-shovel, but the asphalt was slick with a thin layer of ice. As we tried to walk across the road, we couldn't keep our footing. Libby's voice came from behind me: "Get down on your knees!" I quickly obeyed (as I usually do!).

The only way we were going to get across that street, we concluded, was to crawl on our hands and knees - a most humbling act, considering the neighbors were probably getting quite a show!

We made it across, and on the grass the footing was much easier. Once in the warmth of our glowing hearth, we could laugh about it.

Going to your knees is also necessary for the safety of your spiritual life. The Psalmist urges: O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker (95:6).

It's great advice. Otherwise, you'll certainly slip and fall.

Dear Editor,

For many years I have been greatly helped and blessed spiritually through the column of Major Allen Satterlee. God has given him unique insight and wisdom. But his column in the Oct. 20, 2006, issue was a big disappointment to me. He was discussing the film "Facing the Giants." His summary of the film was excellent. His application of the storyline in the film to our Christian life is where I disagree with him.

Accusing the film of showing an unreal side of Christianity is not a fair evaluation. The film is trying to show what can happen to a person who places God first in his life, family and work. In the Bible, Joseph was sold as a slave. Genesis 39:2-3 says, The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered ... The Lord gave him success in everything he did. The Bible teaches if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things (our needs) will be given to us as well. No, everyone won't be given a "shiny new red pickup truck." But the gesture of the successful businessman, who had his relationship with his son and with God restored, was motivated by God to secretly share his blessings with a needier Christian brother. This is scriptural, and I have personally experienced such a blessing in my life.

The purpose of the film was to show how God can take a lost, defeated person and change his life around, so that his focus is on God rather than himself. As anyone will find, a strong focus on pleasing God will provide more than they could ever dream or imagine. Restored relationships, guidance, peace, love, contentment and motivation are more important gifts from God than material possessions and success...The film focuses on the positive blessings that are available to us as we walk close to God and live each day to please Him.

I pray everyone will take the opportunity to view this film and thank God for using a rural church to proclaim God's message of salvation to so many.

Hope Shearer Johnson

New appointments

Effective Jan. 31, 2007, except where indicated:

Overseas Service

Majors Donald & Jean Wilson Tierra Nueva, Guatemala - corps officers and school

Latin America North (effective 1/15/07)

Arkansas & Oklahoma Division

Major Richard Brittle Little Rock, Ark. - area commander

Major Fay Brittle Little Rock, Ark. - coordinator of women's

ministries

Florida Division

Major Phillip Murphy Sarasota - area commander

Major Donna Murphy Sarasota - coordinator of women's ministries

Maryland & West Virginia Division

Captains Edward & Goldie Long

Baltimore Middle River - corps officers

National Capital & Virginia Division

Captain Hilda Chadwick

Divisional statistician

Captain Holly Needham

Assistant divisional youth secretary

Captain Vickie Lesene

Charlottesville, Va. - assistant corps officer

North & South Carolina Division

Captains Charles & Kristina Nkanza Greensboro, N.C. - associate corps officers

 






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