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

Estes Echo

What Grief Is

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind.
Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by a change or an end in a familiar pattern of behavior.
Grief is emotional, not intellectual.
Grief is individual, and relates directly to the uniqueness of all human relationships. No two relationships are the same.
Grief is a crisis, and in a crisis we tend to go back to our oldest, longest-held beliefs that relate to dealing with loss of all kinds.
Grief affects each person differently, therefore the application of ideas about grief is different. Read more

Estes Echo

Be Not Dismayed

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10

I often find myself relying on the illusion of the world, that somehow I am the master of my own destiny and that I have the capacity to upset the revolution of the celestial bodies. While it is true that God has given man the supremacy of choice, the aptitude to make decisions, and in many ways feel dominant; things still do not continually go our way. No matter how many times I think I am in charge, God reminds me that I am but a pilgrim traveling through this weary land, the master of naught excluding my ability to choose. Read more

Estes Echo

Widlord Thomas – new missionary to Haiti

Several years ago, Widlord Thomas, one of Roberta Edwards’ first kids in Sonlight Children’s Home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, traveled to Freed-Hardeman University to study the Bible. After his graduation in December, he will return to Haiti to preach and teach the gospel and the Estes Church of Christ will provide oversight. Read more