Estes Echo

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Matthew 5:8

Purity was the theme for this year’s Challenge Youth Conference, or CYC. On Friday, February 27, the Estes youth group and a few willing chaperones piled into three vans and headed out to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. CYC has always been one of the youth group’s favorite youth rallies, and this year did not disappoint. But it wasn’t just the snowy peaks of the Smoky Mountains or the abundant candy shops of Gatlinburg that made our weekend special. The most important part of CYC is the spiritual encouragement and edification that is constant every year.

The group of nearly 12,000 Christians was challenged by lessons from beloved speakers including Kyle Butt, Reed Swindle, Ben Hayes, and Lonnie Jones. The lessons focused on different aspects of purity in a Christian life, and the S.W.A.T. (Skits With A Truth) Team performed humorous yet thought-provoking skits that explored purity in a unique way. The spiritual invigoration continued outside of the convention center as we enjoyed fellowship with other youth groups from near and far. Andrew Hardee, an FHU student familiar to Estes, led a thoughtful devotional with the Estes and Henderson Church of Christ youth groups. I would urge anyone who hasn’t experienced CYC to plan to attend in the future. I know that myself and many others at Estes are already counting the days until CYC 2016!

–Matthew Johnson

Estes Echo

Ninety Generations

The dating of the book of Isaiah is placed during the seventh and eighth centuries before the time of Christ, which makes it approximately 2700 years ago. It is hard for me to comprehend 2700 years. I am not sure any of us can completely understand the time that has passed and all that has happened. A bit of reflection on generations might be helpful.

It is not uncommon (in fact, it is extremely common) for us to know our parents. Most of us spend over half of lives knowing our parents and having a significant relationship with them. Still not uncommon, but a little less common, is to know our grandparents. I was blessed to know all four of my grandparents and had a significant relationship with all of them. Two of my grandparents still live and I get to spend time with them. Perhaps, you have been blessed to know your great-grandparents. I remember three of my great-grandmothers. Two of the three passed away around the time I became a teenager. The third lived until I was in my 20s. She was a godly lady who passed with hope. We called her ‘Gramsie.’ She often told of our family’s association with the church.

While spending time with Gramsie, I remember her telling about times she grew up in Hewins, Kansas, and would walk or even ride a horse and carriage to worship on Sunday. She would tell how she would walk into the auditorium on Sundays and see both of her grandfathers (my great-great-great-grandfathers) on each side of the auditorium. They were both elders in the church.

Several years ago, my father conducted genealogical studies of the family and was able to trace the family back over ten generations. Yet, after we searched back two (maybe three or four) generations, the people just become a name and a date. Time marches on. In Genesis 5, there is a record of family generations beyond Adam and Eve. Yet, so many of them are just names and length of years they lived. As I have written about my family here, I went back five generations, even as far back as the 1800s. Yet, to get to the time of Isaiah, if the average generation is 30 years, we would have go back 90 generations.

Ninety generations ago, Isaiah told of the coming of Christ. 2700 years ago, Isaiah told how Jesus would be born into the world and he would bring hope to a world filled with hopelessness. He told how He would be born into the world like everyone else, be rejected, and ultimately killed. And all of it was in the plan of God. Isaiah more than any other prophet provided predictions of the coming King (i.e. Isaiah 52:13-53:12) – Ninety generations ago.

–Jeremy Northrop

Estes Echo

TN Children’s Home Spring Food/Supply Drive

TN Children’s Home – West relies on donations from supporters like those of us at Estes. During the next month, our Bible classes will be collecting supplies needed at the Children’s Home. Please participate if you can.

3-year-olds Pop-Tarts
4-year-olds Cereal
Kindergarten Microwave Popcorn
1st Grade Peanut butter or cheese snack crackers
2nd Grade Little Debbie snack cakes
3rd-4th Grade 100% Juice (apple, orange, grape, etc.), Kool-Aid or Lemonade (canisters)
5-6th Grade Salsa and Rotel; Tomato sauce and/or diced tomatoes (15 oz. cans); Cooking oil (spray or liquid)
7-8th Grade Garbage bags w/drawstrings (13 gal.); Aluminum foil; Ziploc quart-size freezer bags
9-10th Grade Ranch dressing; other salad dressings; Canned fruit (pineapple, esp.)
11-12th Grade Men’s shampoo and conditioner; Paper towels; Little Debbie snack cakes
Adult Classes Laundry detergent (HE, liquid); Fabuloso or Pine-Sol floor cleaner; Bathroom & kitchen cleaners

The Children’s Home still must purchase fresh items like milk, meat, produce so, if you would like to also make a cash donation (or check), they would be grateful. The items will be picked up on March 23 so all items must be brought by Sunday, March 22. If you have any questions, contact Jason Lockridge.

Estes Echo

Dealing With Pain and Suffering

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for people to deal with is pain and suffering. The issue is one that has destroyed and strengthened the faith of Christians. We all know events of pain and suffering in either our lives or those close to us. Sometimes, we understand the purpose of pain and suffering. Often, we do not.

Pain has always been a part of the world. Adam and Eve felt pain when Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4:25). Job felt pain when his earthly possessions were taken and his children were killed (Job 1:13-19). Paul spoke of his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). The book of Acts tells how the apostles and other first-century Christians experienced pain.

The presence of pain can seem inconsistent with the presence of an all-loving God. Why would a God of love allow evil/suffering in the world? Why would Paul say “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)? This passage can be troublesome for those experiencing pain.

Pain and suffering can be attributed back to the beginning of time. It began in the Garden of Eden when Eve, and then Adam chose to sin (Genesis 3:14-19). The events of the garden provide an explanation to the existence of pain – the poor decisions of the first couple. Poor decisions have consequences which can carry into today. God gave man the ability to choose. Adam and Eve chose poorly. Just as the consequences of a bad decision are passed on from one generation to another, so can the blessings from good decisions.

Understand genuine biblical joy. Paul instructed us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). How, in the midst of pain could he command such? The answer in choosing to rejoice. Paul later said, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.

Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12). He chose contentment and we must do the same.

Everything has purpose. From Romans 8:28, we learn that pain and suffering have meaning. This can be a difficult concept to understand. There are things in life and in religion that are difficult to understand. Perhaps, we are not to analyze in order to understand but accept God at His word. Sometimes, we will understand and other times, we are left to wonder. Focusing on biblical contentment and accepting God’s word can provide comfort.

–Jeremy Northrop

Estes Echo

Goal Setting

Each January the Estes elders have a one day retreat at Chickasaw State Park. We spend the day talking about the Lord’s work at Estes. We finalize the budget for the coming year, talk about possible sermon topics, discuss the spiritual and physical needs of our congregation and in general try to find ways to push forward the cause of Christ. Toward the end of our day we set concrete goals for our work as elders of this wonderful congregation of believers.

Below are the goals we have set for ourselves for 2015.

Short Term Goals

  1. Continue to strengthen programs such as Connections, 6:2 Ministry, and Visitation Program to build stronger relationships and promote spiritual growth among members and non-members.
  2. Explore opportunities to reach the Hispanic community.
  3. Better utilize our present building in order to add classroom space.
  4. Evaluate each mission point for which we are the sponsoring congregation.
  5. Have at least one congregational meeting.
  6. Have at least two meetings with the deacons.
  7. Explore new stateside mission.

Long Term Goals

  1. Develop a long range plan for our physical plant.
  2. Have every household visited by one or more elders within the next two years.

–Allen Walker

Estes Echo

FHU’s Annual Bible Lectureship

Give Us a King: Faith Failure, and Forgiveness in Samuel

One of the greatest marks of the divine inspiration of the Bible is the fact that thousands of years after it was produced it continues to be so applicable to “what’s happening now.” The focus of this year’s FHU Bible lectureship is testimony to that. Note the following quote from the Lectureship brochure:

“The books of Samuel challenge us to live faithfully in the midst of cultural confusion, generational change, and personal failure. These books present a God who reacts decisively to sin, but who stands ever ready to forgive. We observe both the tragic results of an unexamined life and the spiritual victories of those who learn from failure.”

“Cultural confusion, generational change, personal failure.” Does any of that sound relevant to today’s concerns? Indeed, the scriptures speak to what we are called to deal with in our personal lives and in our relationships.

On February 1-5, the FHU Bible Lectureship will bring hundreds of people to Henderson for a rich study of the books of Samuel. It is a great opportunity for us to join them in an examination of the scriptures as we seek to grow in our faith. Feel free to pick up a brochure at the welcome center in the lobby here at Estes and find some of the sessions to attend. See you there!

–Mark Blackwelder

Estes Echo

Visit to the Bible Lands

This is a brief summary of the recent trip made by a group of 20 pilgrims to Greece and Israel, led by our capable guides Mark and Dana Blackwelder.

In Athens we visited the Acropolis, a high rocky hill upon which the remains of several ancient structures stand, including the Parthenon – the old temple of the city’s patron goddess Athena. When the apostle Paul was in Athens over 19 centuries earlier, “his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols” (Acts 17:16). From atop the Acropolis, viewing the city’s myriad (tightly compacted) buildings and houses, it’s hard not to share the apostle’s deep concern for these precious souls. On the northwest side of the Acropolis, we climbed to the top of the Areopagus (“Rock of Ares”) or Mars Hill, where Paul had delivered his passionate speech about “the unknown God,” pleading for all to repent in view of the coming judgment (Acts 17:19-31). Read more

Estes Echo

New Members’ Recognition Dinner

newmembersIn Luke 19:10 Jesus reveals His main purpose for coming to this earth: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He has always been concerned for the lost and he stresses how urgent the harvest continues to be. Jesus says again in John 4:35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Before ascending back up to heaven, he gave His disciples that same mission recorded for us in Mt 28:19-20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Jesus was all about saving people and wants His church to be dedicated to that mission as well.

Even though we can always do better and never want to become complacent in our service, it can be very beneficial to reflect how well we performed throughout the past year. We had a wonderful year at Estes in 2014! With 17 new members baptized into Christ and added to His church and 36 new members coming our way, the Lord added a total of 53 new members to the church at Estes just in 2014!

But with success comes a new problem. It’s hard to know who is new and who isn’t! So… the elders have asked the Connections team to coordinate a new members’ dinner to take place after evening services on the 25th. We will take this time to re-introduce ALL of the new members that came our way in 2014. We are asking the entire congregation to support this event and bring potluck dishes, except our new members of course. Just bring yourself and be ready for a fun-filled evening of food, fellowship and introductions.

–The Estes elders

Estes Echo

Daily Bible Readings for 2015

Why read your Bible every day?

  • To know God better
  • To get wisdom
  • For spiritual nourishment
  • For deeper understanding
  • For instruction
  • For encouragement
  • To endure
  • For hope

Read more

Estes Echo

A Heavenly Focus amid Holiday Distractions

“All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3)
Well, it is almost here! The day that our children have been anticipating with visions of sugar plums and video games dancing in their heads. The day that has moms frazzled and worn. The day that has dads road-weary and bleary-eyed. Even though the holiday season is a wonderful time for us to be with our families and to share what we have with others, too often we become so wrapped up in the speed and frenzy of getting everything ready, getting everything just right, and purchasing just the right gift, that we forget to keep our focus on spiritual things. Read more