Ask Norm!

By Norman S. Edwards

From SVM – Fall 2014 – 2

July 19, 2014

Dear brothers & sisters at S.V.M.:

I pray everyone is having a peaceful Sabbath day. Here in Coral, Michigan, it was 75°and sunshine, and I spent the majority of my Sabbath sitting outside, reading my new Spring 2014 issue of Shepherd’s Voice. I love the cover— the little girl, all the flowers going down the path, playing, being free and happy! When I read the inside cover, I loved how Jim explained his “challenge” for the cover for the magazine, I felt warmed with his answer.

I feel many publications by various COG [church groups] repeatedly pound home all the bad stuff in the world, and repeatedly hammer it in how we haven’t seen anything yet, and what are we doing to get ready and how we are all Laodicean, and are asleep. But to listen to message after message with the bad stuff discourages my spirit, and my human nature starts to grieve God’s Spirit in me, because for me, I hunger for food that encourages and edifies, in ways that all your articles result in.

Every article, I can identify with something in my own life with, and the manner you “get to your point”, I, with zeal, can say Yes!! Most of all, even though I know we may never have “solutions” and answered prayers in the way we want, the whole point, that God is Holy and Perfect, and full of grace, mercy and justice toward us, steers me back in the right direction, so that I don’t have the cart before the horse, thinking I am somehow “worthy” of what I’m asking. As I nestle in His care, He works it all out for my best. How could I even think I know what’s best!? L.O.L. [Laughing Out Loud]

Please accept this tithe, and use it for whatever God leads you. Whether it be the Kenya Brethren, other brethren, I trust God will bless whomever He chooses with this tiny mite. I thank you again, for all your encouraging words to me. Now, I’m off to read about Godly Grand parenting.

May God Continue to bless you, your sister in Christ Jesus.

T.V., Michigan

Dear Terry,

We are glad that Shepherd’s Voice Magazine is a blessing to you. We encourage our readers to share it with others who might also be blessed by it.

I believe the subjects of the new Testament books are a good guide to the messages that Christians today should write and speak about. The vast majority of the new Testament is about preaching the gospel to unbelievers and then edifying those believers in their congregations. Prophecies of impending disaster constitute less than 30 of the new Testaments 260 Chapters (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Thessalonians 2; 1 John 2; 2 Peter 3, much of Revelation, and a few others). even though the Roman empire and especially the Middle East were in great upheaval during the writing of the New Testament, we do not find any long description of the disasters of their day. Paul mentioned “the present distress”, but does not give great amounts of detail.

The new Testament contains very little prophetic interpretation of the Old Testament. Rather, the emphasis is on ongoing prophecy. See our article Need Prophets More than Prophecy, Fall 2013, Shepherds’ Voice Magazine. The   emphasis is clearly on the love of God, the goodness of God, the resurrection of the dead and eternal life—not on how bad things are going to get.

When I was a teen, I knew people who were already convinced that the end was near, so they spent a lot of their time, energy and money preparing for “the end”. Most of those people are dead now. How much better would it have been if they had used that energy to share the love and truth of Christ with their neighbors, rather than prepare for an “end” that never came. I know parents who taught their children that they need not worry about college, a job or a marriage— because the end would come before they would need to do those things.

For children who believed those parents, it was a disaster. For children who sought God, ignored their parents and planned a life for themselves, it was better. Christ’s instruction was for us to be doing His work when He returns (Matthew 24:45-46; Luke 12:42-43; 16:10; 18:8; 19:17; Gal 6:9), not to be waiting with our prophecy chart in hand to congratulate Him for returning according to our calculations.

The purpose of the Christian life now is to attain the first—the better— resurrection and rule with Christ (Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10; 20:6). Unfortunately, many “doom and gloom” preaching churches scare people into thinking that the church leaders understand prophecy and will therefore provide a way to escape the trouble to come, but in the meantime, a member is mostly expected to stay away from the rest of the world and give lots of money to their church. (If they don’t, they might be classified “Laodicean”). But who will be prepared to reign with Christ? Someone who worked long hours, gave offerings and avoided the rest of the world? Or someone who has been out in the world, teaching Christ, yet remaining unspotted by it? (John 17:11-13; James 1:27).

We must realize that God is not calling us just to earn money. He is not calling us to build churches, colleges, ministries, magazines, websites, businesses, houses or anything else to last into the Millennium. He is building sons and daughters to reign with him. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us while we were sinners (Romans 5:8). We need to learn to have that kind of love for others (Luke 11:42; Romans 5:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 John3:16-17; 4:19; 5:3). It is not easy to try to physically help someone or teach them about Christ when they are trying to take advantage of you or possibly even hurt you. But in doing that work, we can grow in faith, trusting God to protect us until the time of our end—just as He did for Christ.

Your comments about the love of God are a blessing to all who read them. The judgment of God goes hand in hand with it. Some people can learn from a message of love and truth, others must learn from judgments. The world is full of sins right now. Most people disregard God. When great wars or other disasters occur, millions of people will suddenly be very interested in God. God is more than able to preserve them in a disaster. People repenting and turning to God in such a time is a good thing. Whether in times of plenty or peril, let us be ready to share our heavenly Father and His Savior Son with our neighbors.

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